The female wolf came around the edge of the oak, her mouth spread out in a wide, frightening grin as she stared Stiles down. She did not look at all playful; the anger from the rock obviously had overtaken her first impression of taunting. There was no denying the hunger in her eyes, that she wasn't going to turn him. This was about murder. All because of a dumb rock. He sucked in a breath, closing his eyes. That was going to be the last breath he was going to take – the panic began setting in, making it entirely impossible to even think about exhaling.

As Stiles began debating whether he'd die first from the vicious puncture of claws (the woman's breath now directly hitting his neck) or suffocation, a breeze brushed by, an easy blow of the wind, and, quick as a flash of lightening, the sounds of a hiss traveled away. Stiles clenched his eyes shut, bringing his right hand up, under his sleeve, clawing at his left wrist, a crude attempt at his usual anxiety cure. He could hear the rapid growls, the hisses, the swipes of claws and blows of fists, all accompanied by the scratch of his skin, blood dripping down his palm. And, as soon the wind began, it stilled. The noises stopped. The labored sound of breathing was the only soft racket that filled the woods. The words of the female before rang in his ears. Derek had barely been able to fight her off before. Had the final exhale belonged to Derek? After a few moments of internal struggle, Stiles finally opened his eyes, desperate to know what had happened.

The scene was a gruesome one. Derek was there, crouched on the ground, above the female, his claws dug into her chest. Blood spurted out, a dark red stream covering Derek's hand. She twitched a bit, squirming around the fingers. Stiles was sure the woman was done for, his fingers stopping their own digging as a sense of security flew over his head. Derek didn't appear to be injured in the least. If he had been, he was already healed. Derek won. Derek had saved him once again; destroyed the monster. It wasn't a fatal wound, Stiles discovered, as Derek stood, giving a short snarl, a warning, as the woman lifted her abdomen up. She glared at Derek, their eyes meeting for a moment. Quickly, the female Alpha ran away, howling, her hair cascading behind her. Had he any sense of humor left, Stiles would have made a quip about "dog with a tail between her legs," or something. Made a joke about Derek being a more competent Alpha than she thought. But, instead, he tensed, taking a breath – the first, he felt, in minutes. He closed his eyes, trying to exhale just as easily, trying not to be overcome with the panic that had been building moments earlier. He was safe. He pulled his hand away from his wrist, out from under his jacket. He could breathe if he tried. He was – Derek. His eyes opened quickly, looking up, seeing the wolf towering over him. Stiles chewed on his lip, averting his eyes as he opened his mouth, trying to come up with something before Derek (much to Stiles' relief) cut him off, sharply.

"Stiles what the hell are you thinking?" Words could have come out softer. Maybe there could have been a little bit of compassion in his tone. But, Derek could not be blamed - the pure adrenaline racing through his spine made his vision a bit blurry. Stiles wasn't an entirely solid figure from his viewpoint. Derek reached out a hand, his balled fist, setting it on the other male's shoulder as he knelt down. "I told you the woods weren't safe. There's a pack of Alphas out here," he offered, a bit quieter, though no less fierce. "Do you realize how close you were to being killed?" If he hadn't been out running. If he hadn't heard the scuffle, recognized Stiles' shout…

Without a single thought, his brain not entirely functioning correctly, Stiles found the words, "if only," slipping out of his mouth. As soon as he whispered, he closed his eyes, relaxing against the tree, exhaling loudly. He had come so close. So close. But, in the moment, he didn't want it to happen. Why had he run from the woman? He could have stood there, let his throat get ripped out. But he chose to run, to grasp desperately for life. What was wrong with his brain? Why couldn't he pull the trigger?

Derek didn't let the words faze him externally, though the wheels in his head clicked. The strange actions in the school parking lot, disappearing for days at a time. His eyes darted down, observing the blood dripping from Stiles' sleeve. He moved his eyes over Stiles' body, taking in the fatigue, the slender frame he should have noticed before. But, now was better than later. And, Derek, if nothing else, was determined to save everyone he could. Even if it seemed they did not want to be. He nodded, mostly to himself, hopefully not encouraging the words Stiles had expelled (not that the boy would have seen the motion, his eyes were still closed as he focused on breathing). Derek had spent some time figuring out how to care to Issac on an emotional level – the boy needed constant praise, affirmation of affection, and sometimes consolation from nightmares. Perhaps he could extend that knowledge to Stiles. One thing was clear: Derek wasn't going to let Stiles go this easily.

With a careful movement, Derek pressed the wounded arm into Stiles' abdomen, protecting it. Stiles' eyes flew open, looking at Derek with worry. Stiles didn't want anyone to find out about his weakness, and here Derek was, helping him protect the wounds. He searched Derek's face for any sort of give, any hint of what was to come. But Derek remained solid. He stood, guiding Stiles up by his shoulders, the boy allowing his body to be moved easily, staring at Derek with rapt attention. Stiles' mouth dropped open as Derek spoke, his eyes surely popping out of his head.

"You think the Sheriff would mind if you stayed over at my house tonight?"