Stiles opened his eyes slowly. The light immediately assaulted his senses and made pain flare in his head. He quickly squeezed his eyes shut again and groaned loudly. How long had he been unconscious? His body ached, but only as a body does when it has been immobile for a period of time. He was also probably sore thanks to his run from the gang of bandits. Stiles’ heart started to beat faster. He sat up and looked around, ignoring the spreading ache through his head and his body. His vision spun with the sudden change in position.
“Woah there,” came a deep voice. Stiles turned his head to focus on the noise and found a man he had never seen looking at him with a bemused grin.
“Who are you?” He asked, his voice bristling.
“The guy who saved your sorry little ass,” the man replied with a growl. He stood up and moved towards Stiles. His movements were steady. There was a primal power that radiated from him, yet he remained graceful and lithe. He came to stand next to the bed, his eyes boring down at Stiles. Stiles shrank back as the man’s shadow fell over him.
“You should rest longer,” he said, “That arrow was laced with a paralysis drug. It’ll take about another half of a day for it to get completely out of your system,”
Stiles tried to hide his embarrassment. He shouldn’t have lashed out like that. But it was how he had been raised his entire life—he had to be defensive.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so accusatory,” Stiles murmured. He felt the man move away from him and Stiles looked up, “What’s your name?”
The man glanced back at Stiles. Stiles didn’t know that eyes could look so guarded. With a sigh, the man replied, “Hale. Derek Hale.”
“Derek?” Stiles asked, as if trying the name out on his tongue, “That’s a strange name,” he said absently.
“Oh yeah, and “Stiles” isn’t?” Derek retorted with a small snort.
Stiles frowned, “That’s not my—“ He stopped. Stiles didn’t know if this man was a friend or foe just yet. Yes, he had helped him—a complete and total stranger—but in this day and age that didn’t mean much.
“It’s my mother’s father’s name. People always say that I look like him, so the name just kind of stuck,” Stiles answered lamely. Derek raised an eyebrow at Stiles, but did not press further.
“Well, anyway,” Derek sighed, rolling his shoulders, “You should eat something. I don’t have much, but I’ll go throw something together,” Derek turned and started to leave the room.
“No!” Stiles said abruptly, causing Derek to look at him once more, “I mean that I should be going. I need to check on my men—on my traveling companions,”
Derek’s brilliant green eyes turned dark, “Turow and his gang of idiot throwaways have been sniffing around here waiting for you to leave. Stay here for a little while longer until he loses interest in you. That is unless you want to be sold to a nobleman with a particular taste for young males?”
Stiles shook his head quickly in response. This caused a small, dark smirk to stretch Derek’s lips up slightly, “Good. Also, about your companions,” Derek trailed off and his eyes wouldn't meet Stiles'.
“What about them?” Stiles pressed, his brow creasing with slight worry.
Derek looked at Stiles only for a brief second before turning to leave the room once more, “I bet they’ve gone back by now,” he murmured before ducking under the doorway.
Stiles sighed and laid back. The bed was strangely comforting. It had a scent to it that caused all the worry in Stiles’ head to fade away. For some reason, Stiles felt safe in this place. Maybe it was the after effect of the paralysis drug on the arrow. The arrow wound! Stiles pulled the blankets of the bed up and looked underneath. His pant leg on his right leg had been ripped clean off and the wound on his thigh neatly dressed and wrapped in bandages. Stiles breathed a breath of relief—Derek hadn’t had to see Stiles in his underwear. That would have been embarrassing no matter what the circumstances.
Stiles, now placated with his state, looked around the room. It was sparsely decorated. There were no portraits of people on the walls. Curtains hung from the windows were not of a pretty fabric and seemed to serve only as to block out unwanted light. The colours were bland—not the vibrant and deep colours that Stiles was used to. He frowned slightly. This placed seemed more of simply a shelter from the rain and elements than an actual home. Stiles looked up as he saw Derek returning with a bowl in his hands.
“Like I said,” Derek began, “I don’t have much around right now—don’t usually have visitors in these parts. Soup is all you get for now,”
“Thank you,” Stiles said as he reached out for the bowl. When it was in his hands, he hissed and had to fight the urge to drop the bowl. He quickly set it in his lap, the blanket causing a barrier between his skin and the earthenware.
“That’s hot!” Stiles said, looking sharply at Derek.
Derek blinked and the air turned tense for a moment as if Stiles had discovered some hidden secret, “Sorry, I didn’t realize it,”
“No, it’s all right. I should have expected it to have warmth. I guess I’m just not used to handling things like that,” Stiles murmured, picking up the spoon carved from stone. The spoon itself had absorbed some of the heat from the soup, but wasn’t untouchable. Tentatively, Stiles took the soup in to his mouth. His eyes widened instantly and he looked down at the bowl in his lap.
“This is delicious,” he mumbled.
“What?” Derek scoffed, “Were you expecting poison?”
Stiles looked up at Derek so quickly it looked like it might have hurt. The fear that bubbled up inside of the boy showed in his dark eyes.
Derek frowned, “I was joking. I didn’t put poison in it,” Derek reached over, grabbed the spoon, and took a spoonful for himself, “See? No poison.”
Stiles felt the fear drain from his body. He was fairly sure that he visibly deflated some, “Right a joke, of course.”
Derek’s frown deepened and his brow furrowed slightly, “What kind of life do you live that you’re so tense? Judging by your clothes, I would say you’re pretty well off,”
“A merchant’s son,” Stiles said automatically, “My father is a merchant,” It was the story he had been taught to use should he ever be captured. He couldn’t tell Derek who he actually was—not yet.
“That would explain a lot,” Derek mumbled, “You operate out of Beacon?”
Stiles nodded, “What about you Derek?”
“I guess you could say my family comes from all over,” he said with a dark chuckle. Stiles blinked at the sound. It wasn’t one he was familiar with—the emotions behind it foreign to him.
“Where is your family? Do you live here all by yourself or—“ Stiles began.
“There’s no one left,” Derek growled defensively. Stiles looked up at him and Derek looked steadily at him, “I’m all that remains of my blood,”
Stiles sat there for a moment. He could swear, that for a second, Derek’s eyes had flashed red. But that was crazy and something you only heard about of mages. But there were very few mages on this continent and the ones that were had already been employed by the royalty and upper noble families. Stiles shook it off as a trick of the light.
“So,” Stiles whispered, “You’re all alone then?”
“No,” Derek said slowly as if his patience was wearing thin, “There are others like me.”
“You’re part of a troupe then?”
Derek let out a listless laugh, “Something like that,” He stood up, taking the now empty bowl from Stiles’ hands. With his free hand he reached out and placed his palm on Stiles’ forehead.
“You still have a bit of a fever. Try to sleep for just a little bit more,” He removed his hand from Stiles’ skin. It was such a familiar gesture that it nearly confused Stiles.
“Derek,” Stiles called just as the elder male was about to exit, “Have we ever met before?”
Derek froze in place. He turned his head sideways, but did not look at Stiles, “No, we haven’t,” he answered gruffly. Then he left the room without another word. Stiles frowned, his mind ablaze with rampaging thoughts. The amount of comfort and safety that he felt around Derek was strange—even after the man had saved him and tended to his wounds. It was just too familiar. But Stiles couldn’t think of a time when he wasn’t under heavy watch. His friends were always chosen by hand to be of the best influence for him. Only the best for Stiles, they would always say.
Stiles sighed and got comfortable in the bed once more. He stared at the ceiling for a minute or two, before finally closing his eyes. He quickly drifted off to sleep, unaware of the pair of eyes watching him. Derek leaned against the doorframe and looked inside to the room. He moved silently, his form like darkness itself. He stood over the sleeping form of Stiles. Stiles breathed softly, the sound of air entering and exiting his nostrils filling the room. Derek reached out, pausing only for a moment. Stiles stirred in his sleep, as if his body sensed a predator was watching him. Derek shook his head and continued his motion. He tilted Stiles’ head slightly so that he could see the left side of his skull. Sure enough, there was a scar just above the male’s hairline.
“So that was you,” Derek muttered absently. He let his hand return to his side and stood there for another moment. Stiles muttered something softly in his sleep. Derek snapped back to his senses and sneered at nothing in particular. A low growl escaped from his throat and he left the room quickly.
Stiles slept soundly. But he had fuzzy dreams. It was as if he was watching something happen from someone else’s eyes. Or maybe it was a memory that had long been lost to him by time. But in the dream, Stiles swore that the person who had been with him had eyes that shined a haunting blue in the darkness.