Derek stepped carefully up the stairs. Stiles held onto his back, his legs wrapped around Derek's waist. It had been a long night. Stiles was doped up on pain meds and babbling against Derek's neck. Warm breath ghosted over the sensitive skin behind his ear. Derek had no idea what they had told the medical staff happened to cause the long, but relatively shallow gouges on Stiles's side.

No one but Stiles seemed to be happy with him, and he attributed Stiles's attitude to the drugs. Everyone else had only barely figured out what had even happened in the first place. Scott more than the others was against letting Derek take Stiles to their room. Scott had every right to be mad, and part of him thought that the young beta was right. Stiles wasn't safe around Derek, he'd proven that tonight.

Lydia had intimidated Scott into submission when Stiles decided he wanted to go back to the house with Derek; she'd taken charge in the wake of the chaos they'd all been through. She wasn't the pack leader, but she was a kind of surrogate alpha female, the strongest of the female members of the pack. Subconsciously, Scott and Jackson began to defer to her after she had stood her ground against him. She was a natural leader. He was thankful for what she'd done in standing up to him. Derek wasn't sure what he would have done if she hadn't intervened. His fingers tightened incrementally on the underside of Stiles's thighs where he was holding him. Stiles's arms clutched more tightly around his shoulders in response.

Derek turned the corner at the top of the stairs and headed down the hall to their room. Careful of Stiles's bandaged side and hands, he made his way across the floor to his bed against the wall under the window. He turned and tried to get Stiles to let go and sink down onto the bed. Stiles didn't do that.

"Hey, we're here." Derek patted Stiles's legs.

"Awesome." Stiles buried his head in Derek's neck.

"That means you need to let go."

Stiles made a sound that could only be interpreted as a denial. Derek sighed.

"You need to get some sleep; you went through a lot tonight."

"If I let go you'll leave."

Too perceptive, Stiles was just too damn perceptive for his own good.

"I'm dangerous," Derek said, "it's the only way you'll be safe."

"No."

Derek sighed again. Stiles didn't let go. He gently tried to shake the teenager off him, but despite having been through the ordeal he had, he clung to Derek with a desperate kind of strength. Derek wasn't sure what to do. It was similar to when Stiles wouldn't let go of his covers when Derek tried to get him out of his bloody clothes the night he had broken down and screamed at everyone. The only difference was now he was clutching Derek instead.

"Will you let go and get in the bed if I promise not to leave tonight?"

Stiles made a little mumbling sound, like he was carefully thinking it over in his drug addled brain.

"Promise?"

"Yes."

Stiles released his arms and flopped back onto the bed. Derek stretched and flexed his arms and shoulders. Stiles had practically cut off his circulation. Derek turned to look at the bed. Stiles futilely pawed at the covers, confused as to why they weren't over him. It was sort of sad and adorable all at the same time.

Derek smirked to himself. Adorable wasn't the type of adjective he normally used, but Stiles was an exception. Stiles was the exception to a lot of things. After watching him struggle for a few moments Derek helped him get settled. He was incredibly thankful that Stiles had left the hospital in black sweatpants and a gray t-shirt Jackson had bought for him while he was getting stitched up. Derek had no desire to repeat the process of battling a rabid wolverine again to get him into clean clothes. That had been a damn nightmare.

Derek turned to head towards the other bed. He needed to get sleep himself. He was shocked when Stiles's hand reached out and grabbed his wrist.

"You said you weren't going to leave."

Derek thought Stiles almost sounded lucid. He turned to look back; chocolate brown eyes gazed at him steadily. Derek thought he could lose himself there, not the way that he had lost himself to the Alpha. He could lose himself in a simpler way, a better way. He wasn't sure exactly how or when it had happened. Maybe it was the first night they spent together in the room, maybe it was before that, but at some point, he had started to like Stiles. It hadn't been a powerful and sweeping thing that covered him before he knew he was under the water. That was the way Allison and Scott had found each other.

He wasn't forced into it, didn't feel obligated to do it the way that perhaps Lydia and Jackson had first gotten together. It wasn't expected of him, it wasn't what people thought was right or what made the most sense. People would probably think it was wrong. Stiles was younger than he was, it wouldn't matter in another couple of years, maybe less, but right now the difference was important.

It was one little thing, another after that, and more until it was overcoming him before he could fight it off. He had tried, he had tried very hard, and he had almost killed members of his pack because he had tried so hard.

It had caught him unaware, crept up on him; it wasn't a fire in his gut that made him need the teenager who was watching him. Those brown eyes were steady, cataloging what they could see in Derek's face. It had been a slow burn, heat rising steadily. Stiles wasn't his whole life. Derek still had his own things going on. It wasn't like making Stiles happy was the only thing he thought about, but Stiles was fascinating; he had never met anyone like him before.

Stiles reached out a hand imploringly and Derek took it. Stiles raised the covers and pulled him forward. The werewolf slipped underneath them, laying down on his side and facing the teenager who wouldn't break eye contact with him despite having seen what the monster in Derek was capable of. Stiles draped the covers over the two of them and burrowed into Derek's chest, nuzzled up against him. He clung to Derek almost as though he was trying to make sure Derek wasn't going to leave in the middle of the night.

Derek wasn't sure if Stiles felt the same way that he did; he was the kind of person who would do whatever he could to make someone else feel better. Maybe Derek was misinterpreting the actions, maybe Stiles was just winging it. Maybe he wasn't sure what he was doing because of the pain killers.

Derek placed a small kiss on the top of Stiles's head, stroked his arms and shoulders the way Stiles had comforted him on that first night. Derek didn't know what they were to each other yet or where they were going. He wasn't sure if he was falling in love with Stiles or if it was something else, but he did want to give Stiles everything, just to see what he would do with it, just to see what Stiles could make out of it.