Sterek AU: Stiles goes to Derek after they’ve both been rescued from being kidnapped by hunters.
"They told me you were dead."
Derek lifts his head at the sound of the voice, his movements slow, weary.
Stiles is lingering by the doorway, shadows slanted across his face, slivers of light highlighting bruised flesh and tired eyes.
A small ghost of relief tugs at the corner of Derek’s mouth and he hangs his head away, allows himself to breathe.
"They said the same about you," he says quietly, can hear the voices in his head again, taunting him, and he tries not to think on that, being held captive by the hunters who had only wanted a werewolf for fighting sport. He closes his eyes and tries to block out the way they had laughed when he had asked why, and it hadn’t mattered really. They told him that they had killed the boy, Stiles, after they had caught him trying to break into their little makeshift prison of entertainment. And Derek hadn’t been able to feel much of anything after that.
He sighs. It comes out as a shudder that wracks through him full-bodily.
"I wanted to go see you," Derek says, still not looking at Stiles, his head feeling so heavy now; every muscle aches and his bones are still cracked and sore, trying desperately to knit themselves together; there’s blood leaking from the gaping wounds torn across his stomach but it’s just so difficult to care. “When Scott broke me out of there and brought me here. He said that you were alive and at the hospital. I wanted to go see you but-"
Stiles gives a small laugh, a tiny breath of air released from swollen lips.
Derek lifts his head as Stiles shuffles across the room, struggling against a limp as he tries to favor his left leg, drops his bag half way across the room and lowers himself onto the bed beside Derek. His shoulders slump forward, mirroring Derek’s burdened posture. But he’s close now, their hips almost touching and it’s a little easier for Derek to close his eyes, with Stiles so near.
"That probably would have been a mistake," Stiles murmurs, looks over at Derek wearily. “I appreciate the sentiment but you kind of look like you’ve been mauled by a mountain lion. Probably wouldn’t have been the best idea to wander through town like that. You’ll start up the rumours again."
Derek’s mouth tugs at the corner. He wishes that he could smile. But everything hurts, inside him and inside his head and his lungs still ache and Stiles was dead, that’s what they told him.
"I thought they’d killed you." Stiles says, and Derek can hear the click in his throat as he swallows. “They locked me in a room and tied me to a chair and told me how stupid I was for coming, that you were already dead."
Derek opens his eyes, watches as Stiles’ fingers twitch in his lap, restlessly, and his knuckles are bruised and there are strips of gauze wrapped around his middle and four finger of his right hand, the material stark and white against soft pale skin.
"But I thought," his voice is thick, raspy at the edges from probably screaming for too long, against the strike of fists to his face and there’s a stronger stench of blood beneath his shirt.
And that makes something in Derek hurt, pull through his veins and curl beneath his skin. Stiles smells of exhaustion and grief sifting beneath the sharp smell of medicine and peroxide and chemicals that Derek doesn’t want to think about. There’s anesthesia there too, lingering beneath it all.
"I thought that if you were dead I’d know," Stiles says. And when he looks at Derek it’s as if he’s been stripped raw, his eyes open and bloodstained and so very young, too young to be covered in broken flesh and reeking of pain and sorrow. “I was so sure that I’d feel something if you were gone."
Something breaks inside of Derek, and it’s not something tangible, bones and tendons that can be broken and sewn back together. He looks at Stiles helplessly.
Stiles sighs, a heavy slow pull that slips from his mouth, and he sags gently against Derek, finally, his shoulder pressing soft as he tucks his head against the naked muscle.
"They wouldn’t let me come see you," he murmurs, and his voice sounds distant, almost fragile. “I tried to get out of the hospital but Melissa told the staff not to let me go and my dad wouldn’t let me leave until they had discharged me." Stiles’ fingers drift against Derek’s leg. “I wanted to see you," he says faintly, “I needed to know that you were okay."
Derek nods, feels the soft ends of Stiles’ hair brush against his cheek.
"You’re not healing," Stiles says, swallowing again.
"Just-" Derek curls his fingers against Stiles’ wrist, holds him steady, although his grip is weak. “Was distracted. I’ll be alright now."
Stiles gives a faint nod, the movement so subtle that Derek can barely feel it against him.
"I’m so tired," Stiles says. “Can I just-"
"Your dad will want you home soon, it’s late." and Derek doesn’t know why he’s protesting, when Stiles beside him is all he’s wanted but he doesn’t think that he can bear having Stiles with him now, only to leave again.
"My dad said that I could stay," Stiles tells him, and he’s shifting closer, his weight growing soft, pliant.
"Okay," Derek whispers, feels his throat close as he tries to swallow.
Their movements are sluggish, bones stiff and weary and Stiles can barely seem to keep his eyes open, as he reaches for the button and zipper of Derek’s jeans and Derek helps ease off Stiles’ first layer of clothing.
"I love you," Stiles says softly, as Derek’s hands slip under Stiles’ t-shirt, fingers careful and hesitant to move up the ladder of his ribcage as he drags the shirt over Stiles’ head, palms brushing over threads stitched in puckered skin. “I hate that I don’t say it enough, it’s the worst feeling in the world when I think I’m never going to see you again."
"I’m here," Derek assures him quietly, “I’m okay, I am."
Derek shifts his weight as Stiles’ fingers curl along the waistband of his jeans, tugs it hesitantly down Derek’s hips and when Derek is free of the garment he helps relieve Stiles of his pants as well. He rests his hands on Stiles’ hips, keeps them there as they both help each other shift up the length of the bed, easing back the covers for one another. And Stiles winces as he curls up his legs and tucks them beneath the blanket and he doesn’t say anything about the blood on Derek’s stomach when Derek curls himself around Stiles, pulls him in close, back against his chest.
They’re both breathing soft and the loft is quiet and it doesn’t hurt Derek’s head as much, the silence, it feels better now, feels safe, feels right with Stiles tangling their legs together and wrapping his fingers with Derek’s when he splays them above Stiles’ heart.
He wants to ask about the tape on Stiles’ fingers, wants to know how deep the injuries have cracked into the skin but another time, in the morning, maybe, if they ever wake up again. Derek feels like he could sleep for the rest of the week, if Stiles stayed with him.
It’s only when Derek feels the rhythm of Stiles’ breathing ease into sleep that Derek whispers the words back at him, “I love you,” tucked softly against Stiles’ ear.
And Stiles’ heartbeat flutters in return because he’s heard them.