Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of this work of fiction and no compensation, monetary or otherwise, is being made from the writing of this.
A/N: Written for cottoncandy_bingo comm on dreamwidth (Midorisakura's the penname there). The prompt chosen for this was Memorize. Also, this errs on the side of ooc. Just hoping that if you read, you'll find it enjoyable nonetheless, and that you'll be able to suspend your disbelief.
This isn't the first time that Derek has seen Stiles without a shirt on, and he almost blushes at the memories that come to the forefront of his mind when he thinks back, remembering each and every occasion in startling detail.
Stiles, ten, playing basketball – his team was skins, the other, shirts. Derek, sixteen, was watching the game out of the corner of his eye, laughing with his friends at how poorly the kids were playing – lobbing the ball wildly from distances which they would never have half a chance of making a basket from, unless of course they were supernaturally enhanced like werewolves.
The laughter died on his lips when one of the kids, he now knows that it was Stiles, started panting and seemed to stop breathing entirely. The boy collapsed on the asphalt, clutching at his pale chest, fingernails digging into his flesh, leaving red streaks in their wake. His lips turned blue, and, in spite of Derek's resolve not to get involved with those he thought of as 'regulars', he had raced onto the court, heedless of his friends who were still laughing, and stooped down next to the boy, whispering words of reassurance, the palms of his hands pressed to the slick, clammy skin of the boy's quaking back, until, with a loud, heaving gasp, he began to breathe again.
Derek didn't acknowledge the shaky, "Thanks," from the kid. He shook off the protective feelings he'd felt toward the boy when he'd whispered, blushing with embarrassment, "It was just a panic attack." He'd stalked away, feeling out of place amongst the humans, and very much like the werewolf that he was.
Stiles, twelve, as skinny as he was at ten, flesh pimpled with goose bumps as he stood at the end of the diving board at the local swimming pool. His friends were goading him into jumping into the deep end of the pool.
"Cannonball!" they'd shouted at the boy whose thin arms were wrapped protectively around his upper body.
Derek remembers why the boy had caught his eye then, it was something one of his friends, Billy something-or-other, had said to him after jabbing his ribs with an elbow.
"Hey, look at that," Billy had said, "kid's scared shitless."
Billy's grin was far more predatory than Derek had seen on any of his own kin, and it caused him to shiver, but his eyes shifted to where his friend was pointing.
The boy, for all that his heart was beating a mile a minute, broadcasting his fear loud and clear to Derek, put on a face of bravery, and, with just a second's hesitation, he threw himself into the water with a battle cry worthy of a wolf.
The splash Stiles had made had belied his size, soaking, not only Derek, but Billy as well. The kid's bravery had made an impression on him, but he'd turned away when the kid's head broke the surface of the water.
But it's neither of those memories, both of them innocent, especially by comparison with seeing Stiles at sixteen, naked in the locker room when he'd been checking up on Scott, making sure that the recently bitten boy was adjusting to life as a werewolf as well as could be expected.
Stiles was still a little too skinny for Derek's liking, as if the boy's body was incapable of taking on weight. And, in spite of himself, Derek's eyes had lingered a little too long in certain places, and he had snapped at Scott to cover up for feelings that he was unwilling to acknowledge just yet. Twenty-two-year old men did not ogle naked sixteen-year-old boys, no matter how well-endowed they were.
"So, um, what exactly are you doing?"
Stiles' voice brings him back to the present, and Derek jerks back from the boy as though electrocuted. Stiles is smiling, outwardly showing the same bravery he had done as s kid in the face of adversity, but his heart is pounding like a madman in his chest, and Derek realizes that he's actually pinned the boy to the sidewalk, knees straddling Stiles' narrow hips, hands gripping Stiles' shoulders, holding him in place.
And Stiles' tee-shirt is hiked up, bunching at his chest, revealing the soft, broad expanse of his stomach – pale as it was when he'd been a ten-year-old. Derek's eyes darken and a growl, low, animalistic, is loosened from somewhere deep within his bowels. Stiles' heart beats frantically, drowns out every other sound that Derek had been aware of up until that point – baby birds begging for food, their chirps shrill and plaintive for food; a dog barking in the distance, welcoming home its owner; a little girl reciting a nursery rhyme to her baby brother…
"What happened?" Derek's voice is that of the alpha wolf's – angry and commanding.
His fingers trace the red edges of a jagged scar that adorns Stiles' stomach. It goes from the boy's sternum, down to his navel, and it looks inflamed with infection. He leans in close, pressing his nose to the boy's heated flesh and sniffs. His lips curl up in disgust and he snarls.
"Your blood's contaminated," he says, pulling back to fix Stiles with a look that causes the boy to swallow convulsively.
Stiles goes from pasty white to rosy red in a matter of seconds, and he wriggles beneath Derek in an attempt to free himself. His heart sounds like a jackhammer and Derek's blood rushes somewhere he wishes that it wouldn't, but he is powerless to stop it.
"Let me up," Stiles says, his voice, though low, has a steel edge to it, and he pushes up against Derek with all his might.
In comparison to Derek's strength as an alpha, the boy might as well be trying to move a boulder with a toothpick. The move is ineffectual, and Derek, lost in the moment, cocks his head to the side and gives Stiles a wide grin, baring his teeth. He's all predator, and Stiles isn't exactly prey, but the boy doesn't know that, and he starts to panic, bucking upward in a futile attempt to get Derek off of him, but it has the opposite effect on the werewolf.
Derek regains some self-control when Stiles' heart stutters in his chest, stops and then resumes its frenzied beating.
He pokes Stiles' bellybutton with his nose, causing the boy's stomach to clench and quiver in response. Stiles' breath hitches, and his heart falters for a few beats.
"It's just a scratch I got during lacrosse practice," Stiles says, the way his heart stutters betrays the lie. It's more than just a scratch.
"Let me fix it."
Derek whines, the sound, desperate, comes from the back of his throat, and he nudges Stiles with his nose. Derek whimpers and huffs, his breathing takes on the pattern of a wolf comforting its mate.
He begs the boy with his eyes, his fingers dig into Stile's wrists until the boy winces and turns away.
"Let me fix you."
He twists his head to the side, chuffs and looks at Stiles who's watching him with eyes widened in fear and something else that the wolf immediately recognizes and acts upon.
He bends over the boy's stomach, traces a wide path along the ragged scar with his tongue, holding Stiles still with a growl and a flick of his wrist when the boy begins to wriggle. When he's finished, he nuzzles Stiles' neck, and then, when the boy's heart skips a few beats, and Stiles starts to wheeze, Derek comes to his senses and pulls away from Stiles. He crabwalks away from the boy, a look of horror on his face at what he's done.
But Stiles isn't looking at him, he's scrabbling at his stomach, bending over double to look at it, watching the scar fade into nothing more than a thin, white line before his very eyes. If he didn't know it was there, he wouldn't be able to see it at all.
"I'm sorry," Derek says when he can find his voice.
Stiles looks at him, and his heart – Derek thinks he's got the various tones and rhythms of it memorized – slows, skips a beat and then resumes its normal, comforting tempo. It's a cadence that Derek has come to rely upon over the past year, even though he didn't realize it until this very moment, with Stiles staring at him, making him squirm and look away.
"What the hell was that?" Stiles asks, and his face is red with anger and embarrassment.
He gestures at the empty space between them – the sidewalk covered in childish chalk etchings, the weeds popping up through the cracks – and pulls his tee-shirt back into place over his stomach, hiding the faint scarring that accompanied Derek's impromptu healing.
"You were sick," Derek says, refusing to meet Stiles' gaze, "I could smell it on you."
"So you tackled me in the middle of the sidewalk in broad daylight where anyone could see, and you licked me?"
Derek doesn't need to see Stiles' face to know that the boy's lips are twisted in revulsion.
"I healed you." Derek doesn't like how defensive he sounds, and he crosses his arms over his chest, taking some comfort in the steady beat of Stiles' heart.
"Again, in the middle of the sidewalk. Where anyone could see."
Derek looks up in time to see Stiles' nostrils flare as the boy glares at him. His jaw is twitching, and his hands are clenching and unclenching in loose fists as he fights to control his anger.
"Look, I'm sorry."
It's a lame thing to say, and it lacks conviction. He doesn't mean it, and, worse, Stiles knows that he doesn't mean it.
Stiles shakes his head and mutters a string of incoherent words beneath his breath. Though he has the benefit of supernatural hearing, Derek doesn't catch everything that Stiles says, but he catches enough to understand the gist of it and is floored when he realizes the real reason Stiles is angry.
It isn't because Derek had pinned him to the sidewalk and then, for all intents and purposes, assaulted him. No, Stiles is angry because Derek had endangered himself, had risked exposure of who and what he was for something Stiles felt was insignificant.
"But, I'd do it again," Derek says, grinning when Stiles narrows his eyes at him, as though verifying the truth of his statement. "In a heartbeat."
And, not caring if they have an audience or not, Derek closes the gap between them. Reaching for Stiles' hand, he pulls it close, pressing it to his chest where the boy can feel his heart beating, keeping pace with Stiles', and then he leans in, breathes deeply of the boy. Satisfied that he's gotten rid of the infection, he brushes his lips against Stiles' in just the impression of a kiss, but the way it makes Stiles' heart stop and then jump start into an arrhythmic beat tells Derek all that he needs to know, and he smiles even as he pulls back and lets Stiles reclaim his hand.
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