Disclaimer: Not my characters~
Word Count: ~2700
Warnings: language, talk of war things like imprisonment and assassination
Spoilers: through S2
Summary: Derek will know he's coming, of course; Derek always knows. But Stiles isn't trying to hide from Derek.
Author's Notes: Future fic with a war between the werewolves and hunters. This started off as a random image in my head of Stiles visiting Derek in some sort of war-room and offering tactical advice even though they weren't on the same side. It evolved a little and wouldn't leave me alone and eventually I had to write it down, even though this one scene is all I have.
The building looks like a castle in the dark. Hell, maybe it is a castle, who knows. Not that Oregon is really known for castles or anything. Maybe it's a school? Or was. Was a school. Or just a really fortified house.
It's four stories of stone and small windows, nestled at the edge of deep woods, and it's not nearly as protected as it should be. Werewolves. Relying on even supernaturally enhanced senses to detect intruders is dumb and naive, and Stiles has told Derek that. More than once.
When Stiles sees the first camera, he smiles. Now that he knows to look for them, he finds them everywhere. Better, he thinks. Not enough, not nearly enough to keep Stiles out, but better.
On the one hand, it's probably dumb and naive of Stiles to be doing this on his own, but on the other hand there's no one he would ask to come with him. No one he could ask. He's not even really supposed to be here, but, well. That's never stopped him before.
He's also never gotten caught before, on these discreet, self-appointed missions, and this time is no exception. Cause a distraction, slip in through an unguarded entrance, down some hallways, up some stairs. Stay out of sight. Most of the work in infiltrating a werewolf base is done beforehand: disguising your scent, learning to regulate your heartbeat and breathing. The key is being inconspicuous: blending in, and not being seen. He wears what he calls his ninja outfit, hiding his face, his body, his scent.
Derek will know he's coming, of course; Derek always knows. But Stiles isn't trying to hide from Derek.
As expected, when Stiles gets to the room—he's never figured out how he always seems to know where to find Derek in these places; probably some weird combination of cues that his brain doesn't process consciously—Derek doesn't even look up. Stiles slips in, checking to make sure they're alone as he closes the door.
"You're back," Derek says after a long moment of silence. He's staring at papers spread across a large table. Maps, it looks like.
The tone of the words catches Stiles off-guard until he realizes what Derek must mean. "How did you—of course you knew. How the hell do you manage to find out when I'm out of the country but you can't even figure out what your actual enemy is doing half the time?" Stiles almost says something about priorities, but that would be going too far.
Derek is quiet for another moment, and Stiles would roll his eyes but he knows what it's about. Derek's letting that "actual enemy" comment hang in the air, and because they both like to pretend that's a legitimate point to make Stiles will let it go.
It wouldn't even need to be made if Derek would just see reason, but Stiles didn't come here to rehash that old argument.
"How was Canada?"
It's friendlier than Derek usually is during these visits, and Stiles doesn't know what that means, whether things have been especially bad or good or if Derek is just tired. Stiles locks the door—that won't stop anyone in this building, he knows, but it would make them knock, at least, and from there it's up to Derek—and steps further into the room.
"Cold," he answers, approaching the table. Derek hasn't actually looked up at him yet. "And nearly useless."
"Bad information?" There's an almost vindictive curl to the words.
"Not bad," Stiles says, his own words haughty in kind, "just boring. But we did—learn something." Stiles reaches into a pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper, then sets it carefully down on the table.
Derek glances at it. "Every time you show up like this a part of me thinks they've finally decided it's best if I were killed."
Everything in Stiles goes cold at that. He doesn't gape, because he just doesn't gape, anymore, but the tight control he's kept on his heart rate loosens. Derek looks at him, finally, a hard look, his eyes narrowed, because of course he can hear how Stiles's heart rate has sped up and that can't happen. Not here. Something about frantic heartbeats catches the attention of patrolling werewolves like little else.
Stiles closes his eyes, takes two deep, silent breaths before opening them, and everything is okay again. As far as his pulse is concerned, at least. "Your security still sucks," he offers as an alternative conversation topic.
"No one else has gotten past it," Derek counters, his gaze going back to his maps.
Stiles reaches out to fiddle with a compass on the table. A directional compass, not a circle-making compass, although there's one of those, too. "Last time you said you were going to teach them to catch my scent," he says, casually.
"No one could even tell you had been in the room." Derek's voice is appalled, but Stiles thinks he hears a hint of pride in it too. Maybe a sort of wistful, lonely pride, but. Pride nonetheless. "No one, except—"
He stops talking and Stiles stiffens, then shudders slightly, against his will. Derek doesn't have to say it, obviously doesn't want to say it, but Stiles knows he means Peter. "Did he—"
"I don't know," Derek cuts him off. "No one said anything. He didn't even say anything, I could just…tell."
"Come with me, Derek," Stiles says, and that was completely against his will, too. He didn't come here to plead. Not again. Derek made his decision a long time ago, and he's made it over and over since.
"What did you bring?" Derek asks, and the words are thicker than they should be, and Stiles doesn't know what it means. He wishes he had time to stay and find out. He thinks sometimes if he just had the time, he could change Derek's mind. Or at least find out why it won't change.
Stiles sets down the compass and opens up the folded paper he had set on the table. "Intel," he says, and his voice has taken on that serious-business tone it picked up somewhere along the way in all this mess. "We found out—a lot, actually, but the reason I'm here—we think we know where they've got Boyd."
Derek's whole head jerks up, then, fixing Stiles with an intense stare, and Stiles can recognize the hope in his eyes. "Where?"
"Here," Stiles says, pointing to the crudely drawn map on the paper. "Eastern Washington, at one of their bases. We can't—Isaac wants to go after him, and of course Scott does, but Allison says it's too dangerous and I'm agreeing with her."
Derek looks up at him again. "Too dangerous?"
Stiles shrugs. "It is. Especially when I can give you the information and you can go get him instead."
Derek's fingers clutch at the edge of the paper. "I don't know if they'll let me."
"I'm sure you'll figure it out. But—don't tell Erica unless you are planning on going, because you won't be able to stop her." Derek cringes, and Stiles feels a sudden flash of fear. His hands grip the edge of the table and he leans forward. "What? What happened? Did something happen to Erica?"
"She's fine," Derek says, but he's not looking at Stiles. "She—they sent her out last week and she—but she's fine now."
Relief makes Stiles sway slightly, nearly butting heads with Derek in the process. He's not supposed to care—not like this, not on a personal level. He has to keep his team safe, he has to do whatever it takes to end this fucking war, and collateral damage should be kept to a minimum but he's not supposed to be invested. Not in a single fighter, on either side. And especially not in more than one.
It's enough, though, that he can keep up that facade around the others. It's enough that he can make decisions as ruthlessly as Allison, that he can show loyalty to the team on par with Scott's. When decisions come up, tough decisions like whether to leave their old classmate locked up in a hunters' prison or to try and rescue him in the face of potential death, it's enough that he can explain how the risk isn't worth the reward. He can do it with calm logic and a heartbeat that tells Scott it's the truth.
It's enough that he can be that person, that sort of leader, around Scott and Allison. Right now he's nowhere near them. Right now he's on the fourth floor of a secret werewolf base and he's locked in a room with Derek Hale and it's okay if he's relieved to hear someone—someone who isn't an ally—is still alive. It's okay to show that relief.
Before Stiles can move away Derek has pressed forward and then, somehow, their foreheads are touching. The breath catches in Stiles's throat and he's not sure what to do. His forehead is about the only part of his skin that's exposed—the ninja outfit covers him from head to toe, a requirement for sneaking into this building undetected—and that means Derek did it on purpose. And fuck, they haven't—they haven't had skin-to-skin contact in a long fucking time.
"Thank you," Derek says, and Stiles closes his eyes. Derek pulls away, and Stiles can breathe again.
"We found out more," Stiles says, and he shouldn't even be saying this but he tries to tell himself it's strategic. "A few of their supply caches. We're going to hit them ourselves. But also—"
He hesitates, because telling Derek this could go wrong in so many ways. Scott and Allison could question how the werewolves got the intel. They could trace it back to Stiles. The werewolves could question where Derek got the intel. They could trace it back to Stiles.
Derek could also take this information and rush headlong into a confrontation that would end with him dead, but Stiles has been dealing with that one for years. The whole being-branded-a-traitor thing would be so much worse, for either of them.
Derek is just looking at him, and Stiles looks back until it starts to hurt, then he sighs and moves around the table. He takes a pencil and draws a circle oh-so-lightly on the map Derek was staring at when Stiles walked in. "A week from Thursday," he says, and between the whisper and the cloth over his face Stiles can barely hear his own voice, but he knows Derek can hear it. "That's all we know, and it might not even be good intel. We don't even know what they're going for."
"Fuck," Derek says, and it's not because of Stiles's lack of information.
"What?" Stiles asks, his voice still quiet, but sharp. "What's there?"
"A family," Derek breathes out, like he doesn't know whether to be resigned or in disbelief. "A young family. They were laying low, they weren't supposed to get caught up in this, how the fuck—" He stops talking like his voice has run into a wall. His hand is scrunching up the map, and Stiles reaches out to it, tries to soothe away the tension in Derek's fingers. Stiles doesn't know how much comfort his own gloved hand can offer and he wants so badly to take the glove off, but no. It's too risky.
"You'll get them out," Stiles says, and he's glad he told Derek now. They were going to try to get more information themselves, but even if they had found out the hunters' target, what would Scott, Stiles, and Allison do with a family of werewolves? How could they help?
"No," Derek says, and he hasn't moved his hand away from Stiles's. "You get them out. If I tell—anyone, they're going to want to recruit. This family doesn't want any part of this war, and I'm not giving anyone this excuse to force them into it. You get them out, Stiles."
Derek is looking at him again, sideways, from less than a foot away. Stiles's hand is halfway to lowering the cloth on his face when Derek catches him by the wrist. "You need to go," Derek says, and Stiles knows better than to argue but that doesn't mean he'll listen right away, either.
"It's fine," Derek interrupts. "It doesn't smell like you. Go."
A second longer, and then Stiles heads for the window. He looks down and doesn't see anyone. "Is it clear down here?"
Derek walks to the window and opens it, then pauses. "Yes."
Stiles gets his gear out—simple rappelling gear, his own design; he basically is Batman, Erica would be proud—but Derek stays with him. "It's never come to a vote, you know," Stiles says, aiming for nonchalant and failing.
"Whether we should kill you." He tests the rope; it seems secure. "Try not to do anything to change that."
"Would they send you to do it?"
"I don't know," Stiles answers honestly. He gives Derek a smile he can't see. "Probably not. Scott would think it's cruel. Allison would probably want the chance herself. And I don't know if they'd trust me to do it, anyway."
"You're the only one who could," Derek says.
"I know," Stiles replies. But they don't, he adds to himself. He looks out the window again. "Well, this has been a nicely morbid end to my visit. Good luck with Boyd, Derek. We'll do what we can about that werewolf family. And just—don't die, okay?"
"You either," Derek says, and there's something wrenching to the words. These visits don't happen often—even if they weren't such a huge risk in the first place, Derek and Stiles are both constantly on the move—and the fact that each one may be the last never escapes either of them.
Things would be so much easier if they weren't on the wrong sides of this whole stupid mess. If Derek would just come with Stiles.
He doesn't realize he's paused, hanging off of the window ledge and staring at Derek, until Derek swoops down and presses a kiss to Stiles's cloth-covered mouth. Stiles doesn't startle because that would end in very bad things in his current position, but his brain does go offline for a couple of seconds, and there's no stopping the heat rising in his face. He was already warm from all the layers, but this is different. And it's dumb, really, how in the middle of a war, while Stiles is in the middle of retreating from an enemy base that he snuck into in the first place, a kiss from Derek can make him blush like a teenager.
It's dumb, yeah, but the weird thing is, that kiss sort of feels like hope. And not the determined, stubborn sort of hope that he clings to every day, but the kind that makes him think that maybe he isn't just fighting to bring an end to the fighting. Maybe one day he can have good things in his life again.
Derek stands back, and Stiles starts down the side of the building.
He doesn't know how he's going to tell Scott and Allison about the werewolf family they now have to relocate, but he'll figure something out. And he can already tell he'll be hiding a good mood for at least a day or two, but he'll deal with that, too, because he has to hide it. These visits with Derek are a secret on par with Scott getting bitten when it first happened—a life-or-death secret that he'll hide even from people he loves.
Because Stiles doesn't think it will ever happen but if it does—if Derek's life ever comes down to a vote, Stiles has to know about it. The majority vote wins, and he can't have Scott and Allison making the decision without telling him. They have to trust him to vote with his usual logic and strategy, and they have to trust him with the result.
Because if it ever comes down to a vote and Derek is on the losing side, Stiles has to be able to tell him to run.
Originally posted at http://rensahannou.dreamwidth.org/97086.h