"I'm sorry."

Stiles looked up from his phone, which he'd been staring at for the last ten minutes of silence. It'd been several days since the incident at the hospital. Scott had left with Deucalion, determined to find his mother and the Sheriff, and leaving Stiles with no other choice than to go back inside and try and revive Derek. After attempting to wake the Alpha up for nearly fifteen minutes, he'd finally managed it, earning himself a solid punch to the face as a reward. Derek had immediately called Peter, who assured him that he, Isaac and Cora had made it safely out, and they were headed to the veterinarian's office to enlist the help of the only other druid they knew. Deaton had worked tirelessly with Cora, and after hours and hours of waiting, he'd finally stabilized her once more. They'd moved her back to the loft, but with Jennifer gone into hiding with the sheriff and Mrs. McCall and the Alpha pack hiding away with Scott, there wasn't much else they could do. Stiles had been frantic, going into a complete break down in the middle of the loft. He was worried about his father. He was worried about his best friend. He was worried about all the people that were going to die, and the fact that he couldn't do anything to stop it. He felt completely and utterly useless.

So Derek had given him the only job he could think of—watching over Cora while he, Peter, Isaac and the Argents canvased the town in search of…well, anything that could help. He knew he should have taken it as a sign of confidence. Derek wouldn't have left Cora in his care if he didn't trust Stiles. But Cora's werewolf healing had kicked in a day or two after she'd returned home, which meant he was literally just a glorified babysitter. Or maybe a wolfsitter. She was still under house arrest, under Derek's orders, but she seemed perfectly capable of doing everything on her own, denying help every time he was stupid enough to ask. Stiles couldn't decide what the arrangement was really supposed to achieve—him keeping Cora from doing anything stupid before she was cleared to leave the house, or Cora keeping him from going out of his mind with worry for his father. Regardless, they'd settled into a quiet routine of going about their business in the loft. Cora spent a lot of time trying to work out, desperate to remain active even when she was locked inside. Stiles would pretend not to watch as he read or did his homework, and Cora would pretend not to notice him until he told her to quit pushing herself so hard. Then she'd resort to reading, massive amounts of reading, or just lying half-awake on the bed in the main room. Stiles spent a lot of time watching his phone, waiting for some call or message that would tell him everything was going to be okay. That's what he'd been doing when Cora caught him off guard with her apology.

"About what?" he asked when he'd finally found his voice. He'd turned to look at her, but she was still staring up at the ceiling, hair splayed around her as she lay on her back on the bed.

"What I said at the school the other day," she elaborated quietly. She didn't need to explain any further for Stiles to understand what she meant. He remembered the conversation vividly, how she'd voiced every terrible thought he'd ever had about the situations they were in. They were just a bunch of useless kids, running around and finding bodies and fooling themselves into thinking they could ever do something right.

"No," he replied just as quietly, head sinking to stare down at his feet. "You were right. I mean…my dad's gone. Scott's gone. His mom's gone. And there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just a—a useless, weak little human."

"You're not." Stiles looked up in surprise to see that she'd finally turned to look at him. He could practically feel her brown eyes on his skin, watching his every move with her enhanced vision from her place on the bed. She rolled her head to look back at the ceiling, closing her eyes as she tried to choose exactly what words she wanted to say. "You guys are a lot smarter than I gave your credit for. I mean, everything you guys have been through… If you were just a bunch of stupid teenagers, you wouldn't have survived this long."

"Oh, well thank you, Cora. That's—That's really comforting," he shot sarcastically. He glared at her and she winced, though she obviously couldn't see his expression.

"Look, I'm not really good at the whole gratitude thing, so can you just shut up for a second?" she snapped. Stiles raised his eyebrows.

"Gratitude?" he repeated. She sighed, pushing herself into a sitting position on the edge of the bed and turning directly to face him.

"You saved my life. That's not useless."

"Oh." That was all he could manage to say. He hadn't actually been expecting any gratitude. He'd assumed she didn't remember anything that had happened in the hospital, as she'd been unconscious for most of it, and when she woke up she'd mark it down to a team effort. If she was thanking anyone, it probably should have been Deaton. He'd been the one to save her in the long term. Or Isaac, for driving her. Or Peter and Derek for taking care of her. Unless she knew about the incident in the ambulance, but Stiles hadn't told anyone about that in case Derek decided to rip his throat out for getting too close to his sister, and he was fairly certain Cora had been solidly lifeless.

"Oh?" she repeated, cocking an eyebrow. "I thank you for saving my life and all you've got is 'oh'?"

"Sorry," he replied with a shrug. "I'm not really good at the whole gratitude thing either. Well, at least on the accepting end."

He paused to think about how true it was for a moment. He'd probably done plenty of things to warrant a "thank you" over the last year and a half, but he'd never really had time to stop and think about it. Most of the time he was thinking his way out of a life threatening problem, or contemplating how he wished he could do more to protect his father and his friends so he could stop feeling so damn useless. He'd never stopped to think about whether he was being appreciated for all he had done. But most of the time, there was no "thank you." Usually everyone just carried on. Risking their lives to save each other was part of the whole routine. Sometimes, people just marked it down to Scott, like Ethan had when Stiles had wrestled a freaking hand saw from him at the Glen Capri. No, Stiles wasn't used to accepting gratitude, and Cora had taken him completely by surprise. He'd never ask to be thanked really, but still… It was nice.

"You know," Cora began, breaking him out of his thoughts once more. She was standing now, striding closer to him in a graceful, predatory way that reminded him that she was, in fact, a werewolf. "Just because I was unresponsive didn't mean I couldn't hear you."

"Wh-What?" he asked nervously. "Hear me when? Hear me saying what? What would I have said that you could hear?" She rolled her eyes as his obvious anxiety, still pacing ever closer.

"Well, I heard the crack about me being easier to talk to when I was unconscious," she offered with a glare. "But I was referring to your line after the CPR."

"Line?" Stiles repeated, now definitely feeling a little jittery. "What line?" Cora smirked, an expression that made his stomach twist in an uncomfortably pleasant knot.

"Something like, uh, 'Next time I put my lips on your mouth you'd better be awake.'"

"O-Oh," he spluttered. "Yeah, uh…that." She'd come to a stop in front of him now, looking down her nose at him as he squirmed in his chair, palms pressed flat against the denim covering his thighs.

"Well?" she challenged. "I'm awake now."

"Yes," he agreed, his voice coming out in a slight squeak that would have made him cringe under different circumstances. "I—I can see that. You are completely and totally awake. Very—Very conscious and sentient, yes." Apparently, that was not the response Cora was looking for. She rolled her eyes with a signature Hale-level of exasperation, and before Stiles could truly comprehend what was happening, she grabbed a fistful of his T-shirt, yanked him to his feet, and pressed her mouth against his.

It was certainly a lot more pleasant when she was conscious, a voice mused in the back of his head. She kept her hands in his shirt, as if keeping him from running away, which as definitely not one of the reactions running through his head at the moment. Finally, his brain managed to catch up, but right as he began to kiss her back, she pulled away.

"Thank you," she said softly, and stepped back.

"No." Stiles barely noticed the shock on her face before he grabbed her wrist, tugging her back to his chest and claiming her lips once more. He wasn't sure what made him do it. Maybe he was restless because of his father. Maybe he was just so relieved that she was so clearly not dead, like everyone else he hadn't been able to save. Maybe he was just grateful for finally receiving some gratitude for his actions. All he knew was that he'd been locked up in the loft with her for days, she'd been driving him crazy, and he had no intention of releasing her any time soon.

Cora didn't seem to have a problem with that plan, to his surprise. She promptly wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer and taking control of the kiss. She pried his lips apart and Stiles yielded immediately, eager to take in as much of her as he could before she snapped back to reality and shoved him off. But she never did. She pulled at his lips, he grabbed at her waist. She tugged his hair, he slid his hands down her hips. Stiles was afraid he was going to pass out when he heard her gasp of delight when his hands finally reached her ass. But unfortunately for him, her sound had been a wake up call, and she quickly pulled back, grabbing at his shoulders. However, her next words came as a shock.

"Derek keeps condoms in the bathroom." That had certainly not been the rejection he was expecting her to spit at him.

"Wh-What?" he squeaked.

"Top drawer in the bathroom," she repeated. "You know, room with the shower, sink and toilet?"

"Condoms?" he repeated nervously. Miraculously, his hesitance didn't seem to annoy her. Instead, she giggled. Cora Hale giggling in front of him. Now he was certain he had to be dreaming.

"Stiles," she breathed finally, composing her face into a smirk once more. "You're funny, and you're pretty cute too. I like you, and I'm going out of my mind stuck in this apartment. Go get the condoms."

"Wow," he managed to choke out. "That—That was very direct. Very blunt. I mean, I don't know what I was expecting…"

"Stiles," she cut him off, pulling her tank top up and over her head. Stiles had to fight to keep his mouth shut as his eyes darted frantically over her black bra. "Condoms. Now."

"Yes!" he agreed after a few seconds of gaping. "I'm—I will go—Bathroom, yeah!" He sprinted away from her, tripping over his own feet in his haste to reach the bathroom. He had a minor flashback to an earlier night in the summer—running up the stairs in Heather's house while she waited for him in the cellar. But no. He wouldn't think about it. He wasn't going to ruin this for himself. Cora wasn't going anywhere. And if someone did try to take her in his absence, she'd proven more than once that she was capable of taking care of herself. Still, it didn't ease his anxiety that he needed to get back to her as soon as possible—to protect her as well as to take his pants off.

When he ripped open the drawer Cora had indicated, he was confronted with yet another box of XXL condoms. He glared at the box viciously.

"Oh you would, wouldn't you?" he growled to an absent Derek, before grabbing the entire box to bring back to the main room.

He skidded to a halt at the end of the bed, the breath nearly knocked out of him when he caught sight of Cora. She'd taken the liberty of removing her jeans in his absence, leaving her in her simple and yet incredibly enticing black underwear as she lounged on the bed. She hopped up when he froze, grabbing the box and tossing it on the bed behind her before she turned back to him. This time she pulled him forward by his belt loops, sending a jolt through his body like an electric shock when she kissed him once more. But Stiles reluctantly pulled away.

"A-Are you sure you want to do this in here?" he asked nervously.

"I don't care," she replied simply, weaving her fingers through his hair.

"I mean, Derek or Peter or Isaac could be back any second," he rambled. "Mostly Derek. I'd be mostly worried about Derek."

"I don't care," she repeated with a smirk. She pulled him closer, not kissing him, but simply running the tip of her nose up his face. He shivered, trying to remember his other concern, but damn it was hard to think with her fingers in his hair like that.

"Wh-What about smell?"

"What?" she chuckled, pulling back just enough to look in his eyes. He lost his train of thought for a second but finally managed to stammer on.

"I—I mean your werewolf senses and everything. Well, not your werewolf senses, obviously, since—since you are very clearly here in front of me, b-but you know, Derek's werewolf senses, or Peter's, or Isaac's, o-or Derek's. Like, are they gonna be able to tell that—that we're doing this? Like when they get home? Because I'd prefer to not have my throat ripped out."

"Stiles," Cora sighed, rolling her eyes.

"No, I'm serious!" he argued. "Having my throat ripped out is a very real concern of mine. Especially by Derek. In fact, mostly concerned about Derek ripping my throat out for touching you."

"Stiles," she repeated, pulling him closer and pressing her chest against him in a way that he found very, very distracting. "Stop talking."

"Stop talking," he repeated breathily. "R-Right. I'll stop. I should just stop…" She cut him off with her lips once more, making him shudder as she pushed his plaid button down off his shoulders. The kiss was broken when she yanked his black T-shirt over his head, and he took advantage of the pause to voice one more concern. "Are you sure you're okay to do this?" he asked, trying to focus on his question and not on the way her eyes raked over his chest hungrily. "I mean, I'm glad you're okay, but it's only been a couple days. I don't want you to get hurt." For a moment, Cora stopped, looking quizzically at his earnest expression. She looked almost touched by his concern, as if she didn't expect anyone to care all that much. But after a few seconds, she pushed it aside, smirking that trademark smirk once more.

"I'll heal," she dismissed. She wrapped a hand around the side of his neck and pulled him close so she could whisper, "Besides. I think you should be more worried about me hurting you." Stiles gulped as her lips trailed over his ear, warm breath washing over the back of his neck. She leaned back again, taking his hands in her own and walking backward until she could climb up and kneel on the bed in front of him. "I'm finally in healthy condition, and I want to enjoy being awake. Preferably with you underneath me." Stiles smirked before he could stop himself.

"Should of guessed you planned on being on top." Cora laughed at the quip, throwing her head back and exposing her neck in a way Stiles couldn't help but take advantage of. The laughter turned into a moan as his lips trailed up the column of her neck, tongue and teeth grazing along occasionally and experimentally. But before he could get to her lips, her hands were in his hair once more pulling him off with a playful glare.

"What didn't you understand about 'underneath me'?" she asked, and even though he still couldn't quite believe what was happening, he managed to smirk.

"Sorry," he apologized. "I'm not really good at, uh, following directions."

Cora raised an eyebrow, slipping her fingers past the waist of his jeans and boxers. The backs of her fingers slid over the skin just inside his hip bones, making the smirk slide off his face and his breath catch in his throat and his head jut forward in anticipation. Cora leaned forward, passing her lips just a centimeter over his. But instead of kissing him, her lips spread into a wild smile. She yanked on his jeans, sending him tumbling past her onto the bed. His breath was knocked out of his lungs as his back hit the mattress, and before he could recover Cora was spinning around, swinging a leg over him and straddling his waist. He gasped air back into his lungs as she pressed her hips to into his teasingly. Any thought of remaining in control, fighting for dominance, flew out of his head as her hands slid up his chest, human nails raking over the skin and sending shivers down his spine. Instead, he focused on breathing, trying to get as much air as he could before Cora could snatch it away, and trying to prepare himself for what he hoped was going to be a very, very long night.