A/N: Hello, there! So this is a giant monster that my friend Adri and I have been working on for about a month and we're very exciting to begin posting it!
The title, Dulcis Memoria, comes from the phrase: dulcis memoria est praesteritorium malorum, meaning sweet is the memory of past troubles.
This is a Stiles/Derek fic that includes explicit language and sexual situations so turn back now if that's not your thing.
Primum: The First
The witch is kind of, like, super evil, and apparently has some grudge against Derek because this… This is cruel.
And this just cannot be happening.
Because there was some chanting, a little poof of an explosion, and then Stiles just fell over.
Derek's immediate response was to run to him—he was standing on the opposite side of the witch next to Derek and Erica, while Isaac and Boyd were flanking their Alpha—but now he's on the ground, pinned there by the witch standing over him.
He tosses her off of him because she's tiny and he's really not in the mood for her shit, but when he reaches Stiles, it's worse than he thought.
The kid is fine, physically. Just…
He's sitting up, shaking his head, and grumbling.
"Jesus Christ—Scott, what the hell, man? It's, like, midnight and I need to get home before my dad freaks out on me again and—oh." Stiles is sitting up now, and he's apparently just noticed Erica, who is leaning over him opposite from Scott. He grins goofily. "Hi, I'm Stiles."
Erica blinks at him. "I know—Stiles, are you okay?"
He nods. "Totally—just slipped. No big." He's blushing now, probably because he's embarrassed himself in front of a pretty girl, and Derek's immediate response is jealousy and fear, because he has no idea what's happening.
Scott looks just as confused as Derek feels, so Erica scoots a little closer to Stiles and asks him in a slow and curious voice, "What's the last thing you remember?"
Stiles looks over at Scott, then back at Erica, then around to the fire, Derek, Boyd, and Isaac, and his eyes are wide. "You guys aren't all looking for the body, are you? Because if my dad catches us out here trying to find it, he's gonna ground me forever; especially if he thinks I'm with some hunting party."
"Body?" Erica asks.
"Yeah—you know. Body in the woods." He gestures around wildly. "The woods. There is a body."
Realization floats over Scott's features. "Oh."
"Amnesia," Boyd concludes, and Scott follows up with, "He thinks he's 16."
Stiles arches an eyebrow. "Um, I am 16."
"And he doesn't know who Erica is—which means he doesn't know who Derek is," Isaac adds with a sigh. "We have to go through this whole thing again. If we thought the first time was hard enough, imagine it now."
"What the hell are you talking about?" He looks back at Erica. "Erica, like, Reyes? Damn, girl, you got one hell of a makeover."
She growls at him, and he scrambles backwards into Scott.
"Wait," Derek says, and his voice is commanding. Because if Stiles has gone back to the night in the woods when he and Scott were looking for the body… That means he has no idea about the werewolves. "He doesn't know."
"Doesn't know what?" Stiles insists. He looks incredibly annoyed now, like he'd rather be anywhere else.
"Stiles 101: The Crash Course," Erica drawls. "You're 18 now, it's 2014; your best friend is a werewolf, the rest of us are werewolves in Derek's pack—that's the big scary guy who keeps looking at you really fondly. Also, you and Derek are kind of in love and you guys like to make out a lot, among other things."
Stiles looks terrified. Scott looks exasperated.
"Way to be gentle."
Erica shrugs. "Rip off the Band Aid all at once—also." She turns back to Stiles. "You were just cursed by a witch because your boyfriend pissed her off. Well done."
Remembering the witch, Derek spins around, searching in the darkness, but she's gone. He had been too distracted to notice her exit.
"…werewolf," Stiles says slowly. "Werewolves and witches. You guys are kidding, right? I mean, a kid bonks himself on the head and you decide to mess around a little—" Stiles is cut off by Erica holding her phone out, the date illuminated and plain. Stiles' mouth falls a little wider open. "Oh."
"You really don't remember anything?" Derek asks. He's schooled his expression back to distant and cold, and he tries not to notice the way Stiles is looking at him like he's a stranger.
The kid's only response is a shake of the head.
"Erica," Derek says, and turns to the rest of the pack, "move him over, check him for a concussion." She nods and shoos Scott away, dragging Stiles carelessly as he hisses and barks things at her quietly. Once they're a few feet away, he continues, "Boyd, take some of the things the witch touched, try to follow her scent. Isaac, research."
"Stiles always does research," is Isaac's argument. Derek simply arches an eyebrow, and the beta shrugs and walks away, back towards the Hale house.
The other betas carry on, leaving Scott, and Derek looks over to where Erica is poking Stiles in the temple. Physically, he's no different, but Derek can sense the apprehension, the fear. This Stiles, the Stiles that's two years younger and less confident, doesn't know how to handle himself in a situation like this. It took him weeks to learn the first time.
He's smart, though, Derek knows. So they'll handle it. They'll fix it.
Stiles looks up at Derek, mouth open just slightly. Derek can feel the attraction he's radiating, but it's like it was. It's not strong, potent, I-like-your-mouth-on-or-around-my-mouth-let's-kiss-because-we-can attraction. It's new attraction, the passing glance on the street, the vague hey-he's-cute attraction, and it fades so quickly that Derek feels a little insulted.
Scott is just standing there, staring back and forth between the two of them.
"Take him home," Derek says, finally tearing his eyes from Stiles. "Make sure he's safe."
Scott nods. "Yeah. Sure. What about…?" He looks through the trees and Derek knows he's thinking about the things that Stiles has stashed up in Derek's bedroom. Clothes, toothbrush, deodorant. He brings them over in a backpack when he's supposed to be "spending the night at Scott's", and tonight is no different.
"Go in and get them."
Scott looks vaguely ill. "Dude, that's like your private-time stuff."
Derek, with all the authority he can muster, says low and cold, "Scott. Take him home. Now."
Alright, so maybe Stiles isn't internally bleeding to death, but Erica is worried. Being a werewolf gives you a whole other sense of what's right and what isn't and Stiles looking at Derek like he's less than relevant is downright unnatural. "Are you sure you don't remember at all?"
He rolls his eyes. "I have no idea what I'm supposed to remember. I was on my way to tell Scott about the body in the woods and now I'm here." He looks around himself then, ignoring Erica's concerned eyes. "And I guess I made it to the woods then, but I don't get how you got an extreme makeover, Scott looks like he's been doing weights, and I'm apparently friendly with Derek freaking Hale."
Erica looks over her shoulder towards Derek and Scott only to find that Scott has left and Derek's eyes are trained on the back of Stiles' head, not even trying to hide the hurt.
Derek shifts just barely, jerking his head, and Erica knows that's her cue. She stands, brushing off her jeans, and holds out a hand for Stiles. He's looking at it like it's poisonous.
"I don't bite," she says. Then, with a smirk, "Unless you ask nicely."
She can hear Derek growl.
"But that's really more of his territory."
Stiles takes Erica's offered hand and looks over to the man standing stiff and looking pissed. He dusts off his jeans as best he can and licks his lips. "You wouldn't happen to know where I left my Jeep?"
Erica crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at him. "You think we're going to let you drive like this?"
He's about to protest when Derek's voice startles him. "Scott will get you home."
Stiles isn't going to admit he's scared but he's in the future, in the woods, with Derek Hale and some third Pokemon evolution version of Erica Reyes and he can't really deal if Scott isn't there. "Yeah and where is he?"
It appears that Dark and Broody needs a minute to think that over. "He's getting your things."
"You're going to have to be a little more forthcoming there."
"Erica," Derek's practically growling and that gives some validation to the werewolf thing, "take Stiles up to the house and go with Scott to take him home. Sheriff's not going to believe a word he says."
"Wait, my dad knows about all this?" Stiles' eyes are wide, staring at Derek like he'd just announced the death of a childhood pet. "I told my dad about werewolves?"
"Once you and Alpha started hooking up"—and Derek growls just slightly because really, insensitive much—"Derek thought it was a necessity to let him know."
Derek crosses his arms. "But that doesn't mean he has to know everything, and that certainly doesn't mean he has to know about the witch. Make something up. Training exercise gone wrong, Scott slammed you into a tree and you're feeling a little dizzy—if you need to remember something, call Scott or one of us."
Stiles is sitting in his Jeep a few minutes later, squished between Erica and Scott, a duffle bag that he was definitely not even going to consider looking into right now on his lap and a simple lie coming together in his mind. "So if I tell him I got knocked into a tree during...training..."
"He's going to rip Derek a new one," Scott says, "and then have a word with my mom, which is fine."
"I advise against telling him you don't remember stuff though," Erica says, her hand resting on his leg like it's the most natural thing in the world. "He freaks out about you all the time as it is. Not much has changed at home for you anyway. Well, except your dad's picked up dating again."
Scott bangs his head against the steering wheel. "Shit, the Argents."
"Dating? Whoa… Go Dad. Finally. Oh, God, is it that lady from the Olive Garden? Because she always gives me extra breadsticks. Also—Argents?"
"Shut up for two seconds." Scott wiggles awkwardly, eyes still on the road, and then his phone is in his hand. "The Argents are a family of hunters."
"Werewolf hunters," Erica spits. "And other supernatural stuff."
"Like the freaking Winchesters, but we're the good guys in this situation. Right? Scott, tell me we're not evil; I'm not built for evil."
Erica huffs beside him, "We're not evil. The hunters are evil."
"The hunters aren't evil! Don't listen to her Stiles," Scott says seriously, "we team up with them like all the time."
She rolls her eyes. "Fine, it's more like the sucky fake werewolves and the sparkly vampires at the end of Twilight."
Scott makes a face. "I thought Derek put a ban on references to Twilight."
"Yeah," she grins, "but Stiles loves breaking it, don't you, Stiles?"
Stiles is done trying to be the least bit incredulous by now. "Sounds like me."
The sound of a ringtone splits the air and Scott groans loudly, glancing at the clock on the Jeep's dashboard. "Crap, I'm late. Allison's gonna kill me."
Erica laughs humorlessly, rolling her eyes. "She'll probably be more worried about Stiles, actually."
Stiles shakes his head. "This is too much—explain slowly. Enunciate. Who is Allison?"
"Girlfriend," Erica coos. "Allison Argent."
"You're joking," Stiles says, sounding all kinds of frustrated. "No, what am I saying, you would; you have no concept for self-preservation. But on the plus side you're getting laid! You are, right? Tell me you're not eighteen and a virgin. Wait hold on; am I eighteen and a virgin? No, God, I take it back, don't answer that. You're dating a hunter?"
Scott is speaking quietly into his phone and Erica is laughing silently beside him and they're home. At least home is still home, at least some things don't change. He takes a deep breath and jumps out of the Jeep. Erica is beside him but Scott is still in the car, looking sorry for himself and mumbling into the phone.
"Can we just...?"
"Leave him there to get eaten alive by Allison? By all means," she nods, "it's a hobby of ours; we do it for sport."
Inside the house, things are slightly easier. The duffle bag is still within the vicinity and it's kind of terrifying because he's supposedly dating Derek Hale, right? And the dude's doesn't really give off the dinner-and-a-movie vibe. Instead it's more of a hot-sex-until-you-can't-walk vibe. Stiles doesn't really want to find out if he's right.
Luckily, the worst he gets from his dad is an angry speech about how Scott needs to be more careful and he'll be calling Melissa in the morning—Stiles can tell from the way his voice evens out towards the end that he was wrong. It's not the woman from the Olive Garden.
Stiles' brain is screaming, You're dating Mrs. McCall?! You don't even call her Melissa! but what he says instead is, "I'm just gonna go sleep this off, alright?"
His dad nods at him, clearing the cups of coffee Erica and Scott had left behind because apparently that was a thing now, an ever present pot of coffee that wasn't there before. He climbs up to his room and finds that it's mostly the same except it isn't. His desk is full of maps and graphs, dusty movie-prop-looking books and pictures. He doesn't really keep pictures in his room but there are pictures. They're stuck on random places on the wall and he can't recognize himself in any of them. One is a hilarious action shot where his dad and Melissa are simultaneously smacking their sons over the head; another is of himself in a cheek-kiss sandwich between Lydia Martin and a pretty dark-haired girl he doesn't know. The last one is the shocker though. It's a candid of Dark and Broody Derek Hale with a Stiles monkey on his back. His legs are wrapped around his stomach and his mouth is barred in a laughing snarl over the man's neck, as if he were about to bite. Derek is squinting; obviously he hadn't expected the attack.
It hits Stiles then that this is actually his life. That these people are his life and he hardly knows most of them. It hits him that the guy who jumped on his boyfriend's (seriously he is not getting over that soon) back and was friends with a bunch of werewolves and fought supernatural shit on a daily basis is gone, and that these people have lost him. He has to get that guy back.
Once Stiles snaps out of his thoughts and manages to function long enough to get into bed, he realizes that he can't sleep. He should be tired. He should be torn apart with exhaustion, ready to slip into the abyss of dreamland but he's just…not. His heart is still pumping too loudly, his brain is still working on overdrive, and he can't stop thinking about, well, everything.
Scott getting laid—
No, he really doesn't need to think about that one. Good for the guy, really, but Stiles doesn't exactly need a visual.
He rolls over in bed, staring at the window on the south side of his room. It's open just a crack and Stiles is unnerved by it, like something could come crawling in at any moment. Like there's just another supernatural thing waiting out there for him and—
"Ah!" He falls off of his bed, taking some of the blankets with him as he crashes to the floor.
The window is open now, and Erica is standing in his room, a perfectly sculpted eyebrow arched. "Some things never change."
"What the hell!"
Erica rolls her eyes. "What? You thought we were going to leave you alone? You're bewitched, you could sleepwalk off the roof, and Alpha would have us all for dinner if something happened to you."
He sits up and squints at her. "Why don't you call him Derek?"
She pulls a picture from a bulletin board that he hadn't noticed and smiles down at it. "Because he earned it."
He groans and plops down on the bed. "I'm not really internalizing the part where I'm boning Derek Hale. Because he's Derek Hale and I didn't even know he was living here again and also he's a guy and I wasn't sure that was my thing and also have you seen him."
Erica laughs and runs her hands through his hair (which is quite a bit longer than he remembered) as she says, "You'll remember him."
"When? When the witch un-cursifies me?" He sounds bitter. "What are the odds of that happening?"
"You might be surprised." She sits down next to him on the bed, handing him the picture. "He's actually very resourceful. Smart, too."
Stiles doesn't even look down at the photograph. Not yet. He needs to be coherent, he needs to get some answers, and he doesn't know how examining the picture will change things. "And Scott? What other information have I lost about Scott because of all of this? And…that was Boyd, right? Boyd's a werewolf, too? And Isaac? What about his dad? What about…?" He trails off. "Everything is fucked."
"You still like lists, right?" Stiles watches as she stands and climbs into the bed with him; she sits across from him and gnaws at her lip. "Alright, werewolves: Derek and Scott, obviously, Isaac, Boyd, and me. Jackson."
She snorts and nods. "But he's out of town with Lydia. They're looking into whether his birth mom could have been a werewolf and how she actually died if she was."
He blinks but nods for her to continue.
"Scott and Allison are so married, it's disgusting. She's pretty badass when she's not trying to kill us. And um, I don't know…it's just so much." Her eyes fall on the picture on his lap again. She tilts her head, watches as his fingers fumble and his eyes stay up. "I can hear your heartbeat. You're scared to look at it, aren't you? Like it'll reveal another part of you that you don't want to think about."
Stiles swallows tightly. "Um."
Erica reaches forward, one of her slender, feminine hands holding onto one of Stiles' wrists as the other reaches for the photo. She takes it from him, lifting it.
It's them. It's all of them.
There's Scott, with his arm around the now familiar dark-haired girl who had been the one kissing his cheek—Stiles assumes it must be Allison. Next to her is Lydia, who looks a lot more grown up than she did the last time Stiles remembers seeing her, and she has an arm over her shoulders that's attached to Jackson. He's a bit taller, looks sturdier, and yeah, Stiles can see the werewolf thing. On the other side of Jackson there's Isaac, smiling an obviously genuine smile. It makes Stiles happy. That's an expression he's never seen on Isaac before.
Then comes Derek. He's all dressed in black, complete with that leather jacket he'd been wearing hours earlier, and he looks relaxed, actually. He's not smiling, not really, but there's a quirk in the corner of his mouth, like he's amused. Stiles is next to him, leaning into him, and the Stiles outside of the picture stares in wonder, because the comparison is ridiculous. The whole idea is ridiculous.
Past Stiles there's Erica, who's doing some leaning of her own into Boyd, and that's it. That's the picture. That's the pack—that's their family.
"One big happy family," Stiles says quietly. He bites his lip and pushes the picture away. "Does it hurt that he's not here? The guy who fits into this...freaking insanity like that? Because, Erica, you're still the girl that sits next to me in Trig and doesn't talk. And I don't know my best friend's girlfriend. I still have my heart set on Lydia Martin and I don't know who Derek is. But look at this guy," he points at the Stiles in the picture, "look at him. He's all happy and comfortable and..."
He's having an anxiety attack and it could go into full blown panic but before he can say anything else Erica is wrapped around him, full body. They lay down like it's perfectly natural, just the thing to do, and he thinks about how many times he imagined this, a gorgeous girl wrapped around him in bed and he laughs softly because this is so not like that. It feels like he's five years old and he's not bone-deep alone.
She's nuzzling him, he guesses it's a wolf thing because he feels warm and calm inside and then she whispers in his ear, "I don't think love goes away just because you can't remember it."
That's how they fall asleep, clutching each other and breathing each other's oxygen, waiting for morning.
Derek doesn't sleep. He paces, researches, and aches, because Stiles is supposed to be there.
If things had gone their way, if the witch hadn't been such a…well, such a freaking witch, then Stiles would've been there, in his arms. Stiles would be the little spoon and Derek would be the big one, and they would have sex and then boil in a too-hot shower as they kissed before they returned to bed, skin all red and mouths swollen.
They would fall asleep like that. They would wake up the next morning and there would be breakfast in the kitchen, courtesy of the ever-active and ever-intrusive Erica. The pack would gather, sans Scott and Jackson, and they would eat breakfast together around the table. Stiles would smile at him, that comfortable, perfect smile, and maybe they would even kiss, right in front of the pack.
It would've been perfect.
But reality rarely is.
The only way things could've been worse, Derek thinks sourly, is if Stiles had actually died. But Derek would've died himself before he let that happen—it was something that he maybe had just the slightest bit of control over, unlike this. He can't control this. He can't control Stiles' mind or his feelings. He can't make Stiles love him. He can't make Stiles remember.
So Derek doesn't sleep.
When Boyd comes back in the morning to find Derek and Isaac hunched over a table of books, he reports following the scent into a suburban neighborhood and losing it almost immediately. Derek says they'll start there this afternoon.
"You're not okay, are you?" Isaac asks, because he's the one who would.
Derek shrugs. "I'm fine."
Boyd doesn't say anything, just opens the window the way Stiles always does in the morning and pats Derek on the back. "If we don't find this witch…"
"We're going to find her," Derek growls.
Isaac looks like he doesn't want to push it but he knows that they have to. "If we don't find her, we need to think of another way to get Stiles back."
He gets up to pour three cups of coffee and hands them out, frowning when Derek doesn't reach out for his and just lets it sit.
"Derek, just because he doesn't remember he loves you doesn't mean—"
"You think that's what I'm worried about?"
Boyd and Isaac don't hide their expressions of 'well duh' but Derek ignores them. "This witch attacked our pack. I can't let that pass. What Stiles thinks of me right now is irrelevant, but the pack needs him. We need him to trust us and want to help us because we're going to be very screwed if we don't have him. Especially with Lydia away and with all this…junk happening."
"What Stiles thinks of you right now is completely relevant!" Isaac argues. "All you do is worry about Stiles and the pack, and yeah, we need his help a lot of the time, but you aren't worrying about whether or not he'll help us—you know he will because he's the same Stiles he always was and he wants to remember just as badly as you want him to. What you're worried about is that he's regressed into hating your guts."
Derek growls too loudly, eyes flashing red, and Isaac has just enough intelligence to hold his hands up in apology. Derek pushes his chair back, his eyes still glowing red, and he turns for the door. He's about to go into his full Alpha form—something he usually avoids—when Stiles walks in. Erica is just a few steps behind him and it's a testament to how disoriented he is that he didn't sense them coming. Stiles is frozen in front of him and he realizes that he's half turned. He takes a deep breath, rolls his shoulders, and closes his eyes until he knows they're their natural color again.
Then, "What are you doing here?"
It takes a second of Derek's stare before there's a reaction, but eventually Stiles sets his shoulders, standing up straight. "I'm an amnesiac and I want some answers." He picks lifts the tote his has in his hand. "We've been to the library."
"It's eight thirty in the morning."
"I was referring to the library I apparently have in my room now, but whatever." And then he just continues straight into the room and sits down next to Isaac, already hefting books out of the bag and onto the table. When he looks up, the bag now empty, and notices that no one has moved, he gestures to the chairs. "Well?"
Erica grins. "See, Derek? Some of him is still here."
Derek doesn't miss the way Stiles' mouth twitches into a frown for barely a second, and he knows no one else in the room does either. But none of them say anything. Now's not the time.
Isaac makes more coffee. They read.
What feels like hundreds of hours later, Stiles is returning from his third bathroom break when he straddles his chair with the back against his chest and slams the book he's holding down on his desk, eyes skimming over the open page. "Okay, this one seems pretty legit. I mean, as far as information on witchcraft goes. There's stuff about spells and rituals—but I haven't found anything about amnesia yet, but I assume there's gotta be something in here."
Silence is Derek's only response. He's the only one left in the room. Erica went with Boyd to follow the witch's scent back into suburbia and see what else they could dig up, and Isaac excused himself shortly after they left, claiming it was his turn to do the grocery shopping.
When Stiles looks up from the book, he sees Derek leaning in the doorway, stiff and unresponsive. He hasn't sat down at the table since Isaac left.
"You okay, man?"
Derek nods shortly. "Go on."
"Are you usually this bossy?"
Something flashes behind Derek's eyes—the fact that Stiles has to ask about his habits—but it's gone in an instant. Stiles feels a pang of guilt.
"Look, I—I'm sorry. For not…remembering."
"It's not your fault. Magic."
Stiles wonders if Derek always uses so few words, but decides it's probably not a good idea to ask. So instead, he simply says, "Right. Well. I've been at this for…four hours? And I told Scott that I would meet his, you know, girlfriend today, so…"
Derek shoves his weight off doorframe. "Did you drive?"
He nods. "The Jeep. She's a little more destroyed than I remember."
Derek nods and it feels awkward as hell. They're both standing idly now, just staring at each other, and of course Stiles is the one to break the silence.
"It feels like there's this whole other guy and you guys are stuck with me."
Derek opens his mouth but he has nothing to say, it sort of does feel that way. Stiles takes a look at him and his face falls. Derek wants to pull him close and nuzzle at his cheek until he smiles again but he can't. He can't touch him or kiss him or even scream at him for fear that confusion will turn into hate. He licks his lips, says, "The pack needs you. You're... Everything was a mess. Erica and Boyd ran away, Scott almost started a pack and Isaac was going to go with him and everything was falling apart and you prevented it. You hold us together, Stiles."
He shakes his head immediately. "No, I don't—the other one, the one you guys know, maybe he does. I don't do anything but homework. And chase after Lydia Martin."
Stiles doesn't see Derek's wince.
"I'm not him."
"Not right now. But you will be."
Derek imagines the implications of that. What if this is starting over? What if there's no cure and Stiles actually has to go through two years of reliving his life before he falls in love with Derek? Of course, their first kiss is just under a year away from where Stiles is in his head, but that doesn't mean anything. What if that's what it takes? What if Derek has to wait?
He knows that he would do it. If that were the only option, he would wait. He would wait forever for Stiles.
Stiles looks down at the table, at the dozens of books and highlighters, and smirks just barely. "I think, if you don't mind, I'd rather stay for a little while longer."
Derek nods stiffly. "Sure."
Derek makes a cup of tea the way Stiles likes it, because he might indulge the entire pack's coffee addiction but Stiles isn't partial to it himself. He sets it next to Stiles on the table and watches him. He's being unfair. Stiles is still Stiles. So they have to start from zero, that doesn't mean Stiles isn't who they need right now. He still does that odd and distractingly sexy mix of biting and sucking on the end of his writing utensils and then beating it on the side of the table. He still hums the original Star Trek theme under his breath while he reads and he still. Catches him. Staring. Every fucking time.
"I'm sorry," he says, like it'll make the suspicious glances Stiles keeps giving him go away.
"It's cool, man, it's just… You know, still getting used to…everything." He clears his throat, shifts in his chair. Derek is sitting as far away from him as possible while still being at the table, and the werewolf buries his nose in a book, just so that he doesn't have to deal with the confusion and helplessness that's coming off of Stiles in waves.
He still peeks up, though. Every once in a while, he'll lift his eyes and then wrestle them down back to the printed woods in front of him because he can't keep doing this to himself. He can't keep staring, not when their relationship right now is so volatile. He has to let Stiles come to him. He has to let Stiles work it out for himself.
"So is the staring thing a side effect of our relationship or is that how you convinced me to go out with you in the first place?"
Derek would like to say that he's stunned by the question, but he's dealt with Stiles for long enough to let it roll off his shoulders—with just the tiniest bit of an ache because, really. "Yes," he says, pleased because that answer is a power play. He wonders if Stiles is enough like his old self—the one who let Derek shove him up against that door in his bedroom only for a moment before calling the shots himself—to bite back.
"So no flowers or anything, then?" Stiles whistles. "I must be a pretty cheap date."
There's a beat. "No."
"Not, you're not." Derek doesn't even look up from his book. He remembers then, because he can't stop remembering, nearly a year ago. The one-year anniversary of their first kiss. Complete with dinner, candles, and a semi-romantic romp on the living room couch before they actually managed to stumble into the bedroom. Derek had let him have wine. It had actually been quite a romantic evening.
Stiles smiles, bright and huge as always. "What, then? Drives to LA with front row tickets to the games or, like, something stuffy like opera, because if you didn't know I would sleep through that, I could've told you."
Derek shrugs one shoulder. "Nothing like that. But it wasn't…it wasn't like you're thinking. We weren't even—not until you were 17. And even then, we weren't really dating until about eight months ago. We waited to tell your dad."
His lips quirk. "That's kind of adorable, dude." Derek can see the idea blossom in Stiles' eyes; it's one of his favorite things to watch. He's not sure how he feels about the idea, though. "Tell me about him. Who I'm supposed to be." The truth is, Stiles thinks that if anyone wants his memories back in his head just as much as he does, it's Derek.
Derek takes a deep breath and sets down his book. "Where should I start?"
Stiles gnaws at his lip and it's the most tempting thing Derek can imagine. "Whatever makes sense. I mean, I'm not as shocked as I probably should be that I'm dating a dude, so that's something."
It's with huge self-control that Derek holds back a smile. He thinks that it might make Stiles feel more comfortable, actually, but it's too late and he doesn't even want to smile anymore once the words sink in.
"I could start with that," Derek says. "You being attracted to guys, I mean." It seems appropriate, but he also doesn't know how to make the words come. "You were still 16 when you told Scott you were bi, and then a week later you were…staring at me. And you're not really that subtle, you know."
"Mmm, me, subtle, no. You met Lydia Martin? Getting on her radar involves a complete lack of subtlety and some outrageously blatant declarations of love."
Derek blinks. "You kissed her eventually." Stiles' eyes go wide. "It was Christmas, last year, and you and I were fighting because…" He clears his throat. "Because of reasons. And there was eggnog and mistletoe and Jackson was tipsy, too, and she kissed you under that mistletoe for a solid thirty seconds before Jackson intervened."
Stiles blinks and then he clears his throat, and Derek doesn't know if he's going to ask about Lydia or give some shallow apology for something that he probably doesn't believe even happened but instead he says, "Well, I'm sure you deserved it." He looks like he's a little afraid Derek might punch him but smiles nonetheless.
And Derek smiles back. Just barely. "Yeah, I probably did."
"Do I love you?" Stiles doesn't even stammer, and he doesn't know where that random ass bravado comes from, but it's probably because he's so detached from this other guy. This guy that he can't even imagine himself to be because he just hasn't had enough time to process that there are werewolves and witches and a universe in which Lydia Martin used him to piss her boyfriend off and that this is his life.
Stiles is just blinking him, and Derek is at a loss. Because he's had his world tossed and shaken and destroyed more times than he can count on both of his hands, but this… This is a new low. This is worse than the demon, worse than the Kanima, and it may not be the same as Kate's betrayal and that fire, but it's feeling like it's working its way up there. There's a line to cross, and it keeps getting closer.
"Yes," Derek tells him. "Or, you did."
Stiles swallows thickly and there's tension in the room but he's intrigued by it, like running into menacing-looking waves. It's so much more tempting than it is frightening. "Erica says that love doesn't go away just because you forget." He doesn't ask if Derek loves him because he doesn't want to experience someone else's heartache.
Derek doesn't think he believes that, but he nods anyway. "Maybe."
"Well, who's she to be handing out cookie fortunes, right?" Stiles feels the nerves creep back into him and it's a foreign sensation, like a thought that should make sense but doesn't. He wants a comfort he can't even comprehend.
"Erica is smart, but she can be biased. She's not always sure about what she's doing." He glances back down at his book and then up once more. "Do you want to know anything else? Or should we go back to…" He nods down at the table.
Stiles flips a few pages idly. "Sorry if it's annoying, just human narcissism, you know? Nothing quite as interesting as my life. Which is ironic beyond belief."
Derek snorts. "Not annoying. I understand."
Stiles is beginning to understand that Derek is a man of very few words. And then he remembers—Derek is older than him. Like…a lot older than him. And he frowns. "So—how old are you exactly?"
Derek arches an eyebrow. "How old?"
"Yeah. You've gotta be older than me, right? Three years?"
Stiles goes all wide-eyed again but he was just really not expecting that. "Whoa. I mean. Cool. But…wow. How the hell did I land you?"
Derek cocks his head. "Are you being rhetorical or do you actually want the whole story?"
Stiles smirks. "I don't believe in being rhetorical unless you're Jackson or Scott when faced with complex sarcasm."
That's it. That's the Stiles that Derek is in love with. And it makes his heart beat a little bit faster. "I knew you were attracted to me," Derek says, and watches as Stiles goes a little bit pink. "I could…tell. And you were defensive and sarcastic and protective, especially of the pack as a whole, and I…really admired that about you. And I wasn't blind. I'm not—not blind." Before he can help it, his eyes flick down to Stiles' lips and then back up. "Eventually, I just couldn't take it anymore and I kissed you. Mostly to shut you up."
Stiles licks his lips and it's as if Derek's words flipped a switch. Because, yes, Stiles is attracted to him, rocks would be attracted to him, and if his words alone could bring up feelings like this then, "I bet that's your go-to way of fixing things, huh?"
"Kissing people?" Derek shakes his head. "No. That's just…you. You're…different."
Stiles finds that he's leaning closer. He also finds that he doesn't care. "So that's how you fix me, then?"
"You can't fix what isn't broken." And his smile then is disarming. He can tell because he can actually hear Stiles' heartbeat, loud and wet. "But it's a pleasant way of getting you to stop rambling."
This is flirting. This is totally flirting. And Stiles—he's never flirted with anyone. Not with anyone who's responded anyway, and this is—this is awesome.
Derek's tongue darts out just slightly and wets his lips. His smile is gone. "Sorry. That was—I shouldn't have said that. I keep…forgetting."
Stiles is sort of entranced by Derek's tongue but he doesn't miss what he says. "No, don't be. Maybe the more you forget the sooner I'll remember."
It's an obvious line, no subtlety to speak of, and yeah, Derek wants to kiss him. Derek wants to hold him close and kiss him and taste him, remind himself of the warmth and the skin and how Stiles does that coy, teasing, awesome thing with his tongue—
"That's probably not how it works," Derek mutters, his voice a little bit deeper. "I mean, magic. Most likely, the only way to reverse the spell is to capture the witch who performed it."
Stiles has his eyes trained on Derek's lips once again and he really doesn't know where this agility with flirting is coming from but it's not like he's giving it much thought. "What, never seen Sleeping Beauty? C'mon. Everyone knows how to break an evil witch's spell."
Derek clenches his jaw. "Stiles. Look, I don't—I don't blame you for what you're trying to—you think you're 16. You're young and inexperienced and—this isn't a game for me." Watching Stiles' face fall makes his heart crumble into pieces. "I can't—I won't kiss you. Not right now."
Stiles leans back in his seat, arms flailing slightly as he pulls random books towards him like maybe he can build a fort and hide. "No, yeah, I...sorry I don't know what I was thinking. I'm, you know, mentally 16. I'm like undercooked fish or half baked cookies or..." He shakes his head and it's really not the time for words to fail him now.
"It's not your fault. I… I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to kiss you. But," he continues quickly, so Stiles doesn't have the chance to interrupt, "this, right now, is being affected by lack of sleep and emotions running high and you've been like this for less than a day and I can't—don't tempt me, Stiles, honestly."
He should probably listen. Derek isn't looking very Derek-like right now even if he has a very narrow concept of what Derek-like really is. But the Universe needs to give Stiles a break, because in his mind he's sixteen but he checked himself out before coming and he's looking pretty fit. He's no werewolf but it looks like he cut back on the curly fries and hit some sort of gym and Derek is looking at him like he's water in a desert and Stiles has never ever been able to tempt anyone before. He looks Derek in the eye and tries a deliberate swipe of his tongue over his bottom lip.
When Derek's gaze drops to his mouth, Stiles know he's won.
"You can kiss me," Stiles says. "I—I'm not him, but I want to know—I want to be him, Derek. And I want—you. Because it seems like no matter what someone talks to me about, it all leads back to you and this…this is a thing."
Derek blinks. "Stiles."
"Maybe it won't be like kissing him, but… I mean at some point you kissed me and that must…that must've been okay, right?"
Derek ponders, for a second, what Stiles is really saying. He's questioning—honestly, Stiles is asking if kissing him had been okay? Okay? Really? So before he can change his mind he scoots his chair out from under the table. "Come here."
It hits Stiles like a ton of bricks that he's never kissed anyone before, but before he can stop himself he's out from behind the other end of the table and he's walking on shaky legs to Derek's side and he can't help but reach out and put his hands on Derek's shoulders to make sure he doesn't fall over.
He doesn't know what to do or what to say—or whether to do or say anything at all—and so he spends about two seconds freaking out about that before Derek is up in the blink of an eye and Stiles is sitting on the table with Derek between with legs.
His hand is somehow, mindlessly, wrapped around the back of Derek's neck. He doesn't know if that's sexy or natural or a panicked reaction but it seems to encourage Derek and he's just there. Right there. Stiles watches the way the man's eyes roam over his face and it tugs at his gut the way it had hurt when Jackson and Lydia first started holding hands. Because Derek is looking, he is looking for someone else. He uses his grip on Derek's neck as leverage and his random burst of jealousy as nerve.
And then there are lips against his own. Hot, smooth, lips that are decidedly not feminine, not to mention the stubble that scratches against his chin and cheeks because—fuck. This is kissing. There are lips and that is a tongue and those are hands and this is what it all feels like. This is what kissing feels like and Stiles never wants to go back to wondering.
Derek is kissing him slowly—holding his face in his big hands and kissing him so thoroughly, so tenderly, and Stiles can tell that he's searching for the other guy, the one Derek is in love with. The thought breaks his heart.
Derek breaks the kiss gently, but Stiles isn't done. He's just not. He doesn't think he ever will be, because yeah, he's definitely, absolutely attracted to Derek. Stiles guesses attraction doesn't go away just because you forget either.
He tries to follow Derek's retreat, reaches out with his neck for him, but the man puts a big, warm hand on his jaw and holds him back. "Stiles," he says, his voice soft. "Stiles."
Stiles feels guilty. Because Derek is leaning into him then, burying his nose in Stiles' neck. He sounds like he's whimpering. And so Stiles lifts his hands and just cups the back of his head, holding him in place.
Derek sucks in a deep breath. Stiles thinks he might be crying.
And, of course, because he's Stiles, he reacts the only way he knows how.
"Wow—can't even go a day without the guy, can you?" He chuckles just slightly, but instead of calming Derek, it has the opposite effect.
Derek goes stiff and takes a step back—not far enough for Stiles' hands to fall, but enough that there's space between them. His voice is rough, full of emotion that he's holding back. "Don't. Don't talk like that."
Stiles blinks at him. "I—I'm sorry—I shouldn't have—defense mechanism, I guess."
Derek shakes his head as if he wants to move things out of it. "You don't… You don't understand, okay? I'm sure you feel very disconnected from yourself but you are not someone else. Trust me we've been there. Just, avoid the third person if you can."
"How do you mean?" Stiles asks, cocking his head. "'Been there before'?" He realizes his hands are still on the back of Derek's neck, and he wonders if he should move them, but they feel really comfortable there, really right. Derek's pupils grow a little wider when he strokes his thumb along his spine as he waits for the answer.
Derek lets his eyes slide closed for a minute and then opens them again, his eyes impossibly more intense. "You were possessed. The thing would tease us about you were still there. I still… I have nightmares about it. Your mouth," his eyes fall to Stiles' lips, "your voice. It'd mock me. It'd tell me…it would say, 'He's so scared in here, scared for you more than for himself.' And I knew it was true, that you were in there and there was nothing I could do to make you safe."
Stiles is immediately struck with a heartache so great and profound that the only thing he can think of to do is lean back in and kiss Derek again, pull him closer and kiss him the way Derek had kissed earlier. Slow, gentle, and sweet. But there's only a second of it before Derek shakes his head and steps back, reaching up to grab Stiles' hands and put them by his sides.
"We're gonna get your memory back," Derek tells him. "But until then, no more kissing."
Stiles nods, shocked into a momentary silence. He may not remember Derek or the way he felt (feels?), but that doesn't change the need he feels to make things right. It's almost like a disturbance in the force. Like sleeping over at a friend's house and wondering if his dad is safe, knowing that he won't feel right until he gets back to where he's meant to be.
Derek licks his lips. "I can hear Scott coming up the road. Allison's with him." He gestures vaguely towards the room as he says, "I'll stay here and read. You can go—outside. To meet them."
He doesn't want to go out there, not really. He feels like he needs to stay and makes things right but he also thinks Derek needs a minute to himself. Stiles nods at him and scoots away, watching Derek press his hands onto the table and let his head hang. He hovers for a minute on the verge of touching him again but even he can hear Scott now, calling out his name.
Once the door is closed and Stiles is outside, Derek stands up straight and rolls his shoulders.
He can't do this right now. He can't do this to himself. He shouldn't have let Stiles kiss him, he shouldn't have encouraged it. Stiles is still Stiles in a lot of ways, and Derek can't ignore that, no matter how selfish he wants to be. Because it hurts. It hurts so bad, kissing him, kissing those lips and knowing that the only thing there for Stiles right now is attraction. Yes, he's attracted to Derek. That's evident, now. But love? No, there's no love.
And Derek thinks that's going to break him apart.