The hallway to the bedroom Stiles was sharing with Derek was dark, the Alpha had gone to bed but the slightly younger members of the pack had stayed up late playing card games and making a huge dent in the week's supply of snacks. They'd have to go grocery shopping before they left if they kept up the incredible rate of consumption. Stiles thought he could eat a lot, but two teenage werewolves and three other growing teens was a recipe for world famine. He imagined they ate a small European country's supply of Cheetos.
He cursed more loudly than he intended when he stubbed his toe on the leg of the table that decorated one side of the hallway. Stiles bit down on one of his knuckles to keep from making too much noise. Sure Derek had been nice most of the evening, if you weren't a DVD, but he didn't want to wake the sleeping wolf. He pulled out his phone. He used the screen to cast a faint luminescence ahead of him.
He made his way the last few feet to the door quitely. Stiles wouldn't say that he was a ninja but he would say that he could be pretty damn quiet despite what most people thought. Living life as a sheriff's son had necessitated the need to learn a bit of stealth. His father didn't always work late on nights when Stiles wanted to get up to a bit of mischief.
He slowly turned the handle of the door and muted the light of his phone by turning it against his chest. It was practically pitch black, a small alarm clock with a red display gave him the rough location of the bed he was sleeping in for the week.
Stiles had been surprised when Derek had let him have first pick of the beds. Derek had been amused when Stiles took the one that was not adjacent to the window without offering any explanation. There was a terrace that ran all around the second floor and their room even had a set of doors that led out to it, but Stiles thought maybe Derek wasn't comfortable unless he could creep in and out of windows. He snickered at the thought and covered his mouth with his hand. He froze in place.
No monstrous black form that could cause a child's average nightmares to soil themselves in fear snatched his heart from his chest. Stiles sighed in relief and took the last few steps to reach the side of his bed. Quiet as a mouse he set his phone down on the side of the nightstand, before pulling his shirt over his head and dropping it to the floor. Derek could bite his head off about where his clothes were in the morning. Stiles just wanted to get undressed and under the covers. Even though it was summer the California night air had a bit of a chill to it. It would suit Stiles perfectly just as soon as he was under the soft blankets.
Stiles undid his belt and let his jeans fall to the floor. He winced as the buckle made a soft thud against the carpet. He wanted to freeze in place but he was cold. He danced a little from foot to foot trying to free himself from the labyrinth of his pants and almost went head first into the nightstand. That was exactly what he needed, to have Derek find him with his pants around his ankles bleeding from a head wound on the carpet of their room. That would have been terrible, the kind of embarrassment one never lived down.
There was a brief somewhat high pitched noise and a rustling; the suddenness of it nearly caused Stiles to jump out of his skin. He clutched his hand over his heart and gasped for air in the quietest way one could do such a thing. He glanced in the direction the noise had come from. It was in the general vicinity of the bed Derek was theoretically occupying.
Stiles shook his head to dismiss it as his imagination and sat down on his bed gingerly, hoping to avoid any noise as he pulled one sock off and then the other. He dropped them on top of the rest of his discarded clothes. He reached out to grab his phone from the nightstand to set an alarm for the morning. His hand accidently brushed the picture frame he had set up while unpacking. It tilted, he barely caught it before it fell over and awakened the shadow of death that lingered in the other bed. He didn't know for sure but he figured if annoying Derek while he was awake was dangerous, annoying him while sleeping was probably a great way to throw your life away.
Stiles turned slightly so that his back was to where the other bed rested against the far wall and tried to use his body to shield the light as he flipped his phone screen on to reveal the picture in the frame. An image of his mother looked back at him; she was winking and had a small fey smile upon her face. Most people didn't realize because they hadn't gotten to know her but he had gotten his mischievous side from his mother. She loved to laugh, tease, and play practical jokes on her family. She was the kindest person he'd ever known.
He sat there, effectively alone in the darkness. Memories swept him up, took him back to days when he looked at the world with a child's eyes. Moments in time flickered through his mind. His mother helping him build the perfect Halloween costume to scare the other children, a sun drenched meadow and a white and red checkered blanket, the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that had ever been crafted. Soft warm hands rubbing vapor medicine into his chest to soothe him when he was sick. They were all he had of her. She had been vibrant and loving. She had whispered her secrets to him when she put him to bed, little dreams and wishes for his future. They used to stay up late together when his father was at work. They would worry for his father's safety; she would clutch him tight to her chest and stroke his hair. She reassured herself that nothing would happen by reassuring him.
Stiles sucked in a ragged breath. It sounded like it was coming through the figurative hole in his chest her death had left. Tears stung his eyes, he closed them, took a deep breath and tried not to get swept away by the sudden flux in his emotions. It had been years since he had a panic attack. He'd told Scott about it when his friend had undergone one of his own. They were not fun. He wasn't sure exactly what had provoked the chain reaction tearing through his emotions. Maybe it was that tonight, with the dinner and games, it was the first time he had felt like part of a complete family in a long time. He loved his father more than anything, but it was hard to be a family of two when one of them worked long hours to provide for them.
He was glad that he had called home after the pack had finished eating. His dad confirmed that Mrs. McCall had come over with dinner for him. Stiles had asked Scott's mother to watch out for his dad while he was gone. She had agreed saying that after taking care of Scott, the sheriff would be easy.
He set the picture and the phone down and wrapped his arms around his body. He shivered in the evening's chill. He was going to suggest they should turn the heat on at night. He stood to pull the covers back when another of the strange noises emanated from the opposite side of the room. It was followed by a low mumble. He squinted toward the direction where Derek should have been resting. He wondered if the werewolf was making the noise.
Carefully and quietly, with the focus and stealth only children up to no good could normally muster, Stiles crept towards the werewolf's bed. He must have had a death wish; it was the only explanation for embarking on such a ridiculous journey. Frodo thought the trip to that mountain of fire was bad? That little dude had never had to tiptoe across several feet towards Derek Hale's bed. Stiles didn't even have a reliable little companion with a frying pan as backup.
He took one step, then a breath because he was still alive and that's what the living did. He took a second step. His hands began to shake because of the cold, not because he was terrified of Derek pulling his heart directly out of his rib cage. He took a third step. He realized that he was creeping towards Derek's bed wearing only a pair of boxer briefs. At least when Derek snuck up on him he was fully clothed. He looked back over his shoulder. In the far distance, a lifetime away, the red light of the alarm clock reminded him ominously of Derek's angry eyes.
He should have peed before he started stalking towards the other side of the room. At least that way when Derek rose from the bed like a vengeful Angel of Death he wouldn't soil himself. Too late now for logic, too late to turn back, one more step and he was at the side of Derek's bed. The slightly high pitched noise came again. It caused Stiles to spasm in fear, his mouth hanging open and his tongue darting over his lower lip nervously.
Stiles's eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He could faintly see Derek. The man was sprawled out face down on the bed under covers that had been half kicked off. The Alpha's right arm hung off the side of the bed. Rather than resting with his head on the pillow, his left cheek was right on the edge of the mattress, like he had been slowly subconsciously dragging himself off of it.
The noise came again. Stiles realized what it was as he watched Derek's body momentarily shake in place. It was some sort of whine of fear, like Derek was having some sort of terrible nightmare and couldn't escape it. His canine nature more fully revealed itself without his conscious mind to hold it back. It was one of the most heart breaking things he'd ever seen.
Derek, the Alpha, the force of nature, the living embodiment of cool confidence, self possession, and barely controlled power, was shaking in his sleep. He was terrified of something in his own mind. Stiles wasn't sure what he should do. On the one hand, he could try to wake Derek up, then assuming he still had all of his limbs he could try to explain to Derek why he was in his underwear and poking him. On the other hand, he could quietly sneak back to his bed, cover his head with his pillows and try to forget the look of naked fear and pain that marred Derek's features and feel guilty for the rest of his life for being such a coward. Neither of those options sounded very good.
He thought long and hard about what he knew about Derek, werewolves, and wolves. There had to be something he could do. Derek's face constricted in fear. The sad noise came again. It tore at Stiles's insides. What did werewolves do in general? They slammed him into walls and they growled a lot. That was not very helpful. Stiles didn't want to die a virgin so the idea of slamming Derek into a wall with an impromptu wolf hug was out of the question.
A stroke of brilliance or a terrifyingly twisted urge to kill himself hit Stiles. The wolf hug. That was the key. Wolves comforted each other pressing themselves against each other. They nuzzleed, lick each other's faces. They just touched each other. That was the solution and possibly what they would put on his tombstone.
'Here lies Stiles Stilinski, who should not have wolf hugged Derek Hale.'
He held his breath as he leaned forward, tried not to flinch when Derek jerked in his sleep issuing another whine of fear. Stiles brought his forehead down to the back of Derek's head. He stroked the arm that was hanging off the bed with one hand and rubbed the other across the Alpha's shoulder. He nuzzled his face against Derek's soft hair.
"Shhh, you're going to be fine. I'm here, we're all here." Stiles whispered as quietly as he could while still remaining audible. "You're not alone anymore."
Derek's trembling stopped. His breathing evened out. Stiles smiled against the man's head and continued his soothing strokes. "We're not going anywhere, we're family. We're your pack."
Stiles hadn't realized how tired he was until the adrenaline of his own fear drained out of him. Derek's skin was so warm compared to the rest of the room. His hair smelled good too, which was something Stiles had certainly never expected to learn. He held onto Derek for a bit longer, probably longer than was necessary but he wanted to soak in the warmth for the treacherous journey back across the room to his own bed. He also wanted to make sure that Derek was fine, that he knew he was safe and surrounded by people who cared about him, even if none of them were good at showing it yet.
He rubbed his face into Derek's hair again. He patted the werewolf's back and ran his fingers over the palm of Derek's hand. He squeezed it reassuringly. "We're right here with you" he whispered again, "right here."
He slowly got to his feet, careful not to disturb the Alpha and made his way back to his own bed. He barely suppressed a yawn as he went. He pulled back the covers and climbed in, burrowed into the sheets to create a cocoon of warmth with the heat of his body, and maybe the lingering heat of Derek's.
He drifted in and out of the space between being awake and being asleep for a long time. As the warm and comforting darkness seeped into his mind, he thought he heard a faint voice, but it was probably his imagination.
"Thanks Stiles…" it said, but it probably wasn't real, because Stiles just did what he thought was right. No one ever really noticed him, not unless they wanted to strangle him.