Derek felt his face fall.
“You don’t,” he paused, “remember me?”
Stiles frowned as he looked over Derek’s face, “I don’t even know you,”
“What?” Derek hissed. He pulled idly at the chains.
“That can’t be true. Stiles this isn’t a game—stop playing around,”
“I’m not playing! How do you know that name? Who are you?” Stiles’ face became increasingly troubled as he spoke.
“So,” Derek whispered with his heart in his stomach, “You really don’t have any idea who I am?”
Stiles chewed on his bottom lip and then shook his head. Derek stared at Stiles for a minute. He felt something bubbling up inside him—hopelessness, desperation, an overwhelming sadness. Derek felt himself chuckle a few times before it turned in to a full-bodied sound. His shoulders shook as he laughed. What the hell was going on in this place? It was Hell disguised as Heaven. Here was Stiles, smelling of home and comfort, yet he had no idea who Derek was or just exactly what the boy meant to him.
Derek startled when he felt a gentle touch on his cheek. He opened his eyes and saw Stiles had reached out to rest his palm softly on Derek’s cheek.
“You sound so sad,” he murmured, his eyes staring in to Derek’s. Derek sighed and tilted his face in to the touch, closing his eyes.
“I missed you,” he admitted softly. The touch moved away and Derek leaned forward to try and chase it. He let his head fall forward when his skin didn’t find Stiles. He opened his eyes and stared dully at the stone floor.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, “But I don’t know who you are. Although you obviously know me,” he mumbled.
“So you came down here to question me like a criminal?” Derek growled. God, his emotions were all over the place. He was worried, relieved, comforted, and now angry—and it all had to do with Stiles. Maybe a mate was more fuss than it was worth. No, even Derek couldn’t convince himself of that. Even if Stiles didn’t remember it, Derek did. He remembered how wonderful it had been when he was with Stiles. Being able to protect him and care for him when he was injured. How exhilarating sparring with him had been. The comfortable sound of Stiles' incessant chatter. The feel of his breath against Derek’s neck while they slept. Stiles was every part Derek’s equal—he was Derek’s other half. Yet the Stiles standing before Derek now was a stranger.
Hn, who knew something like that could cause physical pain?
Stiles let a frustrated breath out of his nose.
“Look,” he began, “I didn’t want to take advantage of you like this, but I need answers,” he looked up at Derek, his light eyes shining with desperation. He looked so lost.
Derek sighed—there was no way he could refuse his mate, refuse Stiles.
“What do you want to know?” He finally prompted.
Stiles blinked, “Really? You’ll answer all of my questions?”
“As best I can,” Derek nodded.
“Okay,” Stiles breathed, “Okay,” he said again with a nod of his head.
“Um, where should I start?” Stiles mumbled. Derek barely kept from groaning. This was going to be way too long if he had to stay in this position.
“One condition,” Derek interrupted before Stiles could begin, “You let my arms loose,”
Stiles narrowed his eyes at him.
Derek did groan this time, “You don’t have to unchain me if you don’t want. Just loosen the chains so I can lower my arms. I haven’t been able to feel my hands for days now,” he wiggled his fingers for emphasis. Stiles considered him for a moment. But then he pulled a second key from his pocket. He stepped closer still and reached up. His body leaned slightly in to Derek’s and it was maddening. His scent made Derek dizzy. Stiles’ tunic was open and left his neck and throat exposed. If Derek just leaned forward a little, he could place his lips against Stiles—taste his skin. Derek felt his gums tingling from want--he needed to mark Stiles, claim him as his own. He squeezed his eyes shut, knowing they were red. His wolf whimpered. Why wouldn’t Derek trust his instincts and take Stiles?
The cuffs on Derek’s wrists snapped open and suddenly all of his weight was on his feet. He stumbled slightly, but Stiles supported him with his hands.
“I have to put those back when I leave,” Stiles mumbled. The man in front of him smelled like petrichor—the scent released by the earth after raining. It made Stiles light headed. A comfortable warmth pooled in his stomach. He realized with a start that the man was standing on his own and Stiles was now clinging to him.
Stiles cleared his throat and stepped back. He sat down on the floor and crossed his long legs underneath him.
“First of all,” Stiles began, “What’s your name?”
“My name is Derek du Loup of the Hale Clan,” Derek replied as he sat on the floor in front of Stiles. He rubbed absently at his wrists.
Stiles froze but then swallowed, “Derek, okay,” Stiles gained his confidence, “How do I know you?”
“You came to my property when you were being chased by bandits in the forest. They had shot you with an arrow and I tended to your wounds,” Derek answered.
Stiles frowned, “I’ve never left the kingdom before on my own,”
“You were traveling to Animas to speak with the king about extending the market period,” Derek supplemented.
“That can’t be right,” Stiles pressed his hand against his head.
“I helped my father with the planning on that, but we sent Allison Argent as our envoy,”
“Stiles,” Derek said softly, “It was you who saw King Khufu. I was there with you when you did,”
“Dad told me Allison went,” Stiles shook his head, “Scott went with her. That was just after he began courting her. I remember it!” He insisted, looking at Derek.
Derek looked back steadily, “Do you?”
Derek watched the resolve crumble in Stiles’ eyes, “I-I think so,” he whispered.
Derek didn’t say anything. Stiles scrubbed at his face with his hands and groaned in frustration.
“Why can’t I remember anything? Three whole weeks of my memories are fuzzy. Whenever I try to remember my head hurts and nothing makes sense!”
“Three weeks?” Derek asked. Stiles nodded and Derek continued, “That’s how long you were with me. You were attacked on your second day of travel. You stayed with me for ten days while you healed. Then we traveled for two days to reach Animas. We spent two days there—through the full moon—before seeing Khufu on the third day. We then started to travel back for two days,”
“What about the last two days?” Stiles asked, “There’s still two days left. And why didn’t you come back with me to Beacon? You would have been exalted as a hero,”
“We were attacked,” Derek growled, “And you were stolen away from me,”
“Wait,” Stiles held up his hand, “You aren’t making sense. We were attacked and I was stolen by the people who attacked us?”
Derek frowned, “We weren’t attacked by people—it was a rogue Shifter,”
“You mean the men who can transform in to giant, fearsome beasts?” He laughed, “Derek, those are just bedtime stories mother tell to keep their children from misbehaving. They aren’t real,”
Derek stared at Stiles with thoroughly unimpressed eyebrows.
“I mean,” Stiles sputtered, “There’s no way they can be real, right? You and I would both be dead if that were the case. Only an Argent or another Shifter can ever dream of beating a Shifter,”
Stiles’ eyes widened and his face paled as he slowly looked back to Derek.
“Oh my god,” he breathed, “You’re one of them. You’re a Shifter, aren’t you?”
Derek simply nodded.
Stiles shook his head and scooted back a little.
“You aren’t afraid of me,” Derek said calmly.
“Are you kidding?” Stiles hissed, “I’m terrified of you!”
Derek’s nostrils flared, “Doesn’t smell like it,” he paused, “Why did you undo my shackles when you could have just loosened the chains? Or found answers elsewhere?”
“Because you won’t hurt me,” Stiles said automatically. He blinked and looked surprised that he had said it in the first place.
“Exactly,” Derek whispered, “I would never hurt you and somewhere inside, you remember that,”
Stiles stared at Derek for a long time.
“I have to get my memories back,” he said softly. Derek nodded and stood. He walked to the wall where his shackles hung.
He looked over his shoulder at Stiles, “You should probably take the key,”
Stiles’ brain caught up to him and he scrambled to his feet. Derek raised his arms and Stiles cuffed them once more. Derek made a small noise of discomfort.
“Sorry,” Stiles murmured. He moved back but their faces were so close. Stiles felt his eyes flutter shut. There was that scent again. His body moved on its own and he was pressing forward in to Derek’s heat. Derek growled and Stiles shivered. His body craved for more. He moved his head and they were kissing feverently. Stiles couldn’t think past his feeling of extreme longing to touch and be touched by Derek. He wanted more, more, more—
Stiles gasped and pulled away quickly. What the hell was he doing? His face was flushed and his heart beat rapidly in his chest. Heat covered his skin and made his toes curl. What was happening? He needed his memories back before he freaked the fuck out.
Stiles turned and hurried from the cell. He closed the gate with a loud clang that he winced at. He pulled the key harshly from the keyhole.
Stiles froze at the bottom of the stairs. His heart thudded against his chest, causing his breathing to become labored. He slowly turned his head to look back. His heart cracked in his chest. Derek was staring at him, his green eyes swimming with emotions that Stiles could only begin to guess. Derek opened his mouth as if to speak, but no sound came. The unspoken plea sat heavily on his tongue. But no more words came from those lips. Derek looked away before closing his eyes and dropping his head. Stiles chewed on his bottom lip—now moist and beginning to swell. Then he turned and took the stairs two at a time.
“Deaton!” Stiles yelled as he entered the stables, “Deaton, I know you’re here! Answer me!”
“Stiles,” came the much too close reply, “You’ll startle the horses,”
Stiles kept himself from jumping—no one saw that right? He turned and looked at the stable master. He was about the same age as Stiles’ father, maybe a few years younger. He was from one of the Southern Continents—not that Stiles could remember which one. His skin carried his heritage and was the dark colour of the earth. The man looked more like a blacksmith than a stable master with his bald head. Deaton always said that the horses chomped on hair when they were feeling playful, so it was better to be without it.
“What brings you to my humble stables?” Deaton asked, waving his arm to encompass the building, “Scott isn’t here right now. He’s with—“
“—Allison. I know. I came to talk with you,” Stiles said. He gave Deaton a determined look, “I know that you’re an Emissary. I also know that Scott is learning more than just how to pick out mud from a horse’s hoof,”
Deaton raised an eyebrow at Stiles and his face became guarded.
“What is it you wished to discuss?”
“Memories,” Stiles took a deep breath, “I think someone has been tampering with my memories,”
“Stiles,” Deaton shook his head, “The only person who could have that kind of power would be an archmage or a witch or something else entirely that hasn’t existed for centuries,”
“An archmage like the mage here in the palace under my father’s beck and call?” Stiles supplied. Deaton’s mouth pursed in to a thin line.
“You should be careful what kind of assumptions you throw around, Stiles,” Deaton warned in a low voice.
“I’m not assuming anything—well not condemning at least. Look, I know I don’t have all the answers and I plan to get them as soon as I can, all right? It’s just,” he pushed a hand back in to his hair.
“There’s someone that I think I’m supposed to remember and I just can’t. There’s blocks of my memory that are fuzzy or just completely missing. I was always told it was because I would be too rough during training or that I’d fallen off a horse yet again. But now, I’m thinking that isn’t entirely the case. I need to get my memories back,”
Deaton frowned and remained silent.
“Deaton, please,” Stiles pleaded.
Deaton looked long and hard at Stiles for a while before nodded once.
“Memory is tricky,” he began, “Even for those skilled in the magics. I’ll help you retrieve your memories—all of them—but it isn’t going to be easy or painless,”
Stiles remembered the aching headaches and the sudden fevers from when Derek first arrived. He remembered the sickness and the shaking.
He nodded, “I understand,”
Deaton sighed, “All right. Come this way then,”
Derek heard footsteps descending the stairs and he looked up, hoping Stiles had returned. He realized quickly that it was not Stiles who had come to visit him, but Kate Argent. Her imported perfume swallowed the remainder of Stiles’ scent on the air and caused Derek to raise his lip in a sneer.
“Oh, don’t look so excited to see me,” She teased. She opened the cell door and sauntered in to the small square.
“You know,” she began, “I had honestly thought I had burned all of the trash. Looks like I missed some,”
Derek curled his lips back and bared his teeth at her. He pulled at his restraints as he lunged for her, but the chains held fast with some enchantment to prevent breaking. She clicked her tongue at him like a mother would at her child when she was disappointed in him.
“Come now, Derek,” Kate chided, “Is that any way to treat your ex?”
“I never loved you,” Derek spat.
She smirked at him, “I don’t need Shifter senses to know that’s a lie,”
Derek flinched as if she had slapped him.
“You used me to get to my family,” he growled, “You killed them—there were innocent humans in that house!”
“Hm,” she contemplated this, putting a perfectly manicured finger to her slightly pouty lips, “Maybe you’re right. But honestly, it’s your word against mine. Who do you think my brother would believe?”
“You bitch!” Derek yelled, struggling against his restraints once again. He snarled and growled and snapped his teeth at her but she was just out of reach. He wanted to rip her apart and put the pieces of her body on display. The world needed to know the atrocities that this woman had committed against Derek and his family. His mother, his father, his aunts, uncles, cousins, his big sister, his little sister—they were all dead because he couldn’t keep his hormones in check.
Kate laughed, “You Hales are actually quite the resilient bunch. I was traveling some time ago when I ran across another one of you,”
Derek inhaled sharply and his eyes widened. He felt his blood run cold.
“What was her name—ah yes. I think she told me it was Cora,”
“Cora,” Derek repeated. His little sister Cora.
“She really was a sweet girl. She just wanted to see her big brother again,” Kate frowned, “It really was such a shame the accident she had,”
“No,” Derek whispered, his voice catching in his throat.
“Poor thing,” Kate shook her head, “Her head was chopped clean off,” she made a motion with her fingers across her throat.
“No!” Derek roared, pulling with all of his might against the chain.
Kate stepped in front of Derek and grabbed his face roughly in her hands.
“Surely that had to be the last one,” she smiled, a malevolent gleam in her eyes, “You’re all alone in the world now Derek. No family, no pack, no mate,” she hissed. Derek’s face softened at the word and he immediately thought of Stiles. He schooled his features again, but not fast enough.
Interest flickered across her face. “Hm? What’s this? Has the Big Bad Wolf actually found his mate in the world?”
He didn’t say anything.
“What’s she like?” Kate prodded, “Is she cute? What does she look like? Brown hair, honey gold eyes, skin peppered with moles, perhaps?”
Derek’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open in disbelief.
A small chuckle left Kate’s lips, “You’re wondering how I know? Haven’t you learned by now that I have eyes everywhere?”
Kate moved away from Derek. She took a few steps and sighed. She had her hands clasped behind her back. She looked over her shoulder back at Derek.
“You know,” she mumbled, “The mate of something like you could only be a monster themselves,”
She sighed theatrically and shook her head, “It’s a shame really. He would have made such a handsome king,”
“Kate don’t,” Derek said, “Don’t you touch him!” The chains clanged and banged against the stone walls as Derek fought to be free. He could feel the cuffs biting in to his wrists but he didn’t care. If Kate was as psychotic as Derek thought and he was understanding her correctly—
She was planning on killing Stiles.
Just because he was Derek’s mate.
She flicked her perfect dirty blonde hair and left the cell. She kicked the door shut with a loud bang. Her riding boots clicked against the stone floor.
“Kate! Kate!” Derek yelled after her, “Damn it damn it!” He pulled and pulled at the chains until he wore himself out.
There was a knock on the antechamber to the throne room. King John Stilinski looked up from the papers he was going over.
“Come in,” he called. He adjusted the pince-nez sitting on the bridge of his nose. The door swung open and Stiles walked in.
“Ah, Stiles! It’s good to see you’re well enough to be walking around,” John said, a smile gracing his lips. But he frowned when he saw his son’s stern face.
“Is something the matter?” He asked.
Stiles turned and gave his father a steady look, “We need to talk about something,”
John blinked, “Sure, of course, sit down,” he motioned to the chair on the other side of his desk. Stiles sat down in it and took in a deep breath.
Stiles closed his eyes for a moment. How was he supposed to start this conversation?
“I know what you’ve been doing,” he opened his eyes and fixed his gaze on his father, “With my memories,”
John visibly swallowed, “I don’t know what you mean,”
“Dad,” Stiles scoffed, “You really didn’t think I wouldn’t start to notice the gaps in my memories? Sure, forgetting some things from your childhood is normal. But when you’re ten, thirteen, and nineteen? I couldn’t have fallen off that many horses, no matter how clumsy I am,”
John didn’t say anything.
Stiles shook his head, “Three weeks, Dad. I was missing three very important weeks of my life! I fought bandits, convinced King Khufu to extend the market period, I saw a play for the first time in my life. Did you not think there were things I wanted to remember from my trip?”
“Sure, but every night you would wake up screaming,” John explained, “I didn’t want to see you suffering anymore,”
“I wasn’t—“ Stiles let out a frustrated breath, “I was having nightmares. I was attacked by a rogue Shifter,” he ignored his dad’s widening eyes, “But I wasn’t in any danger. The nightmares were more about something else,”
“How were you not in any danger if you were attacked by a rogue Shifter?”
Stiles sighed. That was all he got out of that sentence?
“I had a companion with me,” Stiles mumbled.
“Who?” John asked skeptically.
“Derek Hale,” Stiles replied, “The man currently being held in our dungeons,”
“Derek—? He’s grown up since the last time I saw him,” John mused quietly.
“Which was when?” Stiles interrupted, “When you rescued us from that shed when we were kidnapped?”
“Stiles,” John said slowly, “We were afraid that experience would traumatize you,”
“Did it?” Stiles spat back quickly, “You wouldn’t know because you never gave me the chance to figure it out for myself! Yeah, I was scared. But Derek saved me back then. What did you do? Showed up with your sword brandished and then stole away my memories—some hero you were,”
“I just wanted you to be safe,” John whispered.
“Safe? You wanted me to be safe?” Stiles felt his anger rising. The new memories were still fresh in his mind with the retrieval.
“You stole my last memories of Mom!” Stiles yelled. He could see her. He had been ten. His mother had been so pale and near death then. She had held on to Stiles’ hand in her dry, bone thin fingers.
“Stiles, my precious baby boy,” she had whispered, “Take care of your father for me, all right?”
Ten year-old Stiles had nodded quickly, gently squeezing his mother’s hands in his, “I will, I promise.”
She smiled softly at him, “Promise me you’ll grow up to be a great, and just king?”
“I promise Mommy!”
A breath left her and she closed her eyes, “Mommy loves you so much, little prince,”
Stiles returned to the present with a shuddering breath. He felt tears pricking at the corners of his eyes, but he didn’t care.
“That was the last time I ever saw her,” he said shakily, “What right did you have to take that from me? Who were you to steal Mother from me!” Stiles yelled at his father.
John did not wince and his face did not change. He had a hard mask over his features.
“I’m your father, Stiles,” he replied.
“No,” Stiles hissed, “You’re the king. The king who couldn’t have a broken son,”
Stiles stood swiftly and slammed his hand on the desk top.
“When I’m king,” he declared in a loud, steady voice, “I will outlaw any use of magic that tampers with a person’s memory. I will be a better king than you ever were,”
He leaned down and got right in his father’s face, narrowing his eyes at him.
“Because that’s what I promised Mother,” he breathed.
Then he rose and turned, leaving the antechamber and closing the door with a rattling thud.
John stared at the door. He let out a breath and sat back in his chair. He held his face in his hands. He never should have tried to mold his son. Stiles was perfect the way he was—the son every father asked for. So why had John wanted to change him? People became who they were from the trials they faced in life. Had his fatherly love blinded him so much that he forgot that his son too needed to learn from the times he went through in life? How was he ever going to fix this?
Stiles felt his anger seeping from him as he made his way back down to the dungeons. He was going to let Derek go, give a piece of his mind to Sir Argent about prisoner accommodations, and then he was going to go back to Derek’s. For how long, he didn’t know. But he just knew he had to get out of there. Stiles would tell Scott that he was going away, but even he couldn’t trust Scott to not tell Allison where he was. Stiles needed some time to himself. Besides, he missed Erica’s banter and Boyd’s cooking. Isaac would probably even be more tolerable now that Stiles knew the secret of the Shifters.
Not to mention he would be able to spend more time with Derek. Stiles couldn’t help but to smile at this. He felt a light heat to the tips of his ears. The three weeks that he had been with Derek—how could he have ever forgotten those? They were the best time in his entire life. He was still super unsure about the mate thing. But, if it was with Derek, Stiles thought they could probably work something out. Stiles was pretty open about his attraction to both males and females. He didn’t see anything wrong with it. People were people and they deserved love no matter what their gender was.
Stiles turned the corner to enter the corridor that had the door to the dungeons at the end. He fiddled idly with the keys in his pocket. He kept thinking about what he would say when he finally made it back to Derek. “Honey, I’m home,” seemed strangely domestic. He settled on an “I missed you too.” Because he had—that’s what the nightmares originally were when he had returned to Beacon. Even without his memories, his body and mind still dreamed of Derek. Stiles just never had a name to put to the face.
Stiles passed by a column and he heard the tap of boots on stone floor. The next thing he knew, something struck him in the back of the head. He fell forward, his vision swimming. Black holes burned at the corners of his eyes. He felt his consciousness slipping away. The tapping continued and the last thing Stiles saw before he blacked out were leather riding boots.