Little Red Prince

Chapter 3

Stiles was awoken to the sound of voices in the adjoining room. Stiles rubbed his eyes, sitting up. What had his dream been about? He felt like it was something familiar to him—but he couldn’t quite place his finger on it. For some reason, thinking about it just made his head hurt. That was strange. He would have to talk to the physician when he returned.

“I told you he isn’t dangerous,” Derek growled in the other room. Stiles turned his attention to listen to the conversation. Who was Derek talking to? One of the others in his troupe maybe?

“How do you know that? What kind of person is out in these woods that isn’t a bandit or rogue?”

“Isaac, those are the same thing,” Derek said with a hint of humor in his voice.

“I don’t care if they are or not! I’m telling you, the kid sleeping in your bed right now is a danger to our pack,” Isaac said with a hiss, “Why is he even sleeping in your bed anyway?”

“He was being chased by Turow’s men so I highly doubt he’s one of them,” Derek replied.

“What if he betrayed Turow and ran from his group? That would explain why they were chasing after him. Maybe the kid stole something,” Isaac mused.

“Isaac,” Derek said warningly, “Stiles isn’t dangerous. He isn’t part of Turow’s gang—never was and never will be. He’s a merchant’s son,”

Stiles felt his stomach clench uncomfortably. Derek was defending him—someone he barely even knew—using only lies that Stiles had told him. Stiles tried to push past the feelings brewing inside of him. He pulled the blankets from him, immediately getting hit by the chill. When had dusk fallen? Had he really slept for so long?

“A merchant’s son? Out here in the cursed Shifter’s land?” Isaac said with a bit of a sarcastic tone in his voice, “Something about that isn’t right Derek, and you know it,” his voice changed to accusatory.

The growl that came as a response to Isaac’s probing caused Stiles’ blood to run cold.

“I already told you,” Derek said, low and mean, “Stiles isn’t going to hurt the pack. Or are you saying that you’re challenging me, Isaac?”

“No, Derek,” Isaac replied with a bite in his voice, “I’m not challenging you. I just hope you know what you’re doing,”

Stiles couldn’t stand it anymore. He wanted to see who this Isaac was. Stiles swung his feet over the edge of the bed. The balls of his feet touched the floor. The wooden floors were cold against his skin. Stiles could still hear the murmur of voices in the other room. He shifted his weight forward and pushed himself up on to his feet.

Stiles immediately regretted his decision. His injured thigh throbbed painfully and caused him to instinctively remove the cause of the discomfort. Because of this, he quickly took his weight off his right leg which caused him to become unbalanced. Stiles felt himself falling forward. He wasn’t able to stop his toppling and soon he was becoming acquainted with the floor. He caught himself on his hands with a noisy thud.

“Stiles?” Came Derek’s voice from the other room. Soon after that, Derek was in the room and standing above where the younger male had fallen, “What are you doing trying to get out of bed? You’re injured, you idiot,” he hissed.

“Sorry Derek, I had to use the chamber,” Stiles lied lamely. His dark eyes flickered up towards the third person in the room. The person who Stiles assumed was Isaac stood in the doorway. The male looked down at Stiles with a certain darkness in his eyes.

Isaac didn’t look much older than Stiles—maybe having just come of age. He had hair about the same length as Derek’s, but with a bit more curl to it. His eyes were a dark blue that reminded Stiles of paintings of the ocean that he had seen before.

“If you need something,” Derek said lowly, “Then call for me. As of right now, you’ve got a tear in the tendons of your thigh,”

“From the arrow?” Stiles asked, tearing his gaze away from Isaac.

Derek nodded, “Your muscles were also strained from your escape so you’re lucky that the wound isn’t deeper. It shouldn’t take much longer than two weeks to heal,”

Isaac made a low noise in his throat, “Derek, in two weeks is—“

Derek turned his gaze on to Isaac and an even lower noise in his throat very similar to a growl. Isaac stopped talking and lowered his head, exposing his neck towards Derek. Stiles frowned minutely.

It was a moment before anyone spoke again. Eventually it was Derek that broke the silence, “Isaac, you can go,” Isaac didn’t argue. He simply nodded, his head still low, and disappeared from the doorway. Derek huffed out his nose in a small gesture of agitation and then turned back to Stiles.

“You said you needed to use the chamber?” Derek asked.

Stiles felt his cheeks flush slightly, “Yeah,”

“You can’t walk on your own,” Derek said. He didn’t even try to phrase it as a question. Derek slid his arm underneath Stiles’ and helped the younger male to his feet. They shuffled awkwardly for a few feet before find a rhythm that worked. Although, it was more of Derek carrying Stiles while Stiles’ feet brushed against the ground every now and then.

“Derek,” Stiles said after a moment, “Who was that?”

Derek glanced down at Stiles but didn’t falter in his step, “His name is Isaac—“

“—another strange name—“

“—and he’s a part of my pack,” Derek finished with a pointed look at Stiles.

Stiles returned the look with a slightly confused one, “Your pack?”

“Troupe,” Derek corrected quickly as he looked away from Stiles once more, “Sorry but the chamber’s outside. You would have never found it on your own,”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt you earlier—with Isaac I mean,” Stiles mumbled,

“It’s fine. Isaac is always bothering me with questions,”

“You don’t sound too upset about it,”

Derek blinked and bit down on whatever response he might have given. They made it outside and towards the back of the property. Or at least Stiles assumed that it was near the back of the property. He couldn't see the fence he had jumped over the previous day. Just how much land did Derek live on? It didn’t take too long to come upon a small structure. It wasn’t much larger than a cabinet but Stiles had never seen anything like it.

“The pot’s in there?” He asked, his eyes wide with curiosity.

Derek’s mouth curved upwards ever so slightly, “It keeps the house from smelling this way,”

“That makes a lot of sense,” Stiles mumbled as he eyed the structure. Derek opened the door and sure enough, a chamber pot sat listlessly on the ground.

“Will you be able to—“ Derek began,

“No! I mean—yes. I can handle this myself,” Stiles said quickly, trying to ignore the flush of heat at the tip of his ears. Derek shrugged after a moment and let Stiles down. Stiles limped slightly in to the structure and Derek shut the door behind him. The sound of the latch reverberated in the wooden structure. Something about the close walls and sudden darkness made Stiles’ heart clench in his chest.

“Stiles?” Derek called from outside, “Is everything all right in there?”

Stiles willed himself to speak, “Yes. I’m fine,” His voice was airy and almost stuck in his throat. Why was he having a panic attack now? The doctors had said that he shouldn’t have them any more—that there was no reason for them. Yet, here he was, feeling like the world was slowly closing in on him. He felt his throat tighten and it became difficult for him to breathe.

Stiles leaned against the wall of the structure. His leg was beginning to ache with the effort of standing and he was finding himself short of breath. The small breath that he had was coming in shallow pants. He felt perspiration gathering on his upper lip and his heart thudded against his ribcage. Dizziness overcame him and he suddenly felt faint. What was happening? Light erupted across him as the door was thrown open.

“Stiles!” Derek hissed. Stiles’ legs gave out just as the door was opened. Derek had just enough time to catch Stiles when he lost consciousness, “Stiles!” Derek hissed once more.

Stiles opened his eyes. He was immediately aware of the throbbing pain in his head. He sat up slowly, pressing his palm to his temple. He registered a slick feeling there. Frowning slightly, he pulled his hand away from his hand. Blood was on his fingers. Stiles felt another panic attack starting. What was happening? Why was he bleeding? He looked around and discovered that he was in a dark room. There were no windows and no way to tell what time it was.

“Hello?” Stiles called out, his voice sounding small and young in his own ears. There was no sound from the outside. Stiles maneuvered himself to sit on his knees. His entire body felt sluggish and like it was on fire at the same time. His eyes still hadn’t gotten used to the darkness of the room and he felt around blindly. His hand brushed against something that felt like fabric and Stiles quickly pulled away. When he realized he wasn’t in any danger, he reached forward again and found the fabric once more. There was a sound of chains against the ground followed by a low growl. Stiles’ eyes took in as much light as he could and could make out the outline of a person.

“Don’t touch me,” growled a voice. Stiles complied by scooting away from the source of the sound. He moved until he hit against a wall and hisses as his head thumped painfully against the surface. He felt the drum in his head begin again and was reminded that there was a gash on the left side of his head. Someone must have hit him. But how? The last thing Stiles remembered was being with Lawrence in the marketplace. How had he been so easily captured like this?

Stiles shook his head—regretting it immediately because of the dull thrum of pain it caused—and turned his gaze back on the other person in the room. Light was gently entering the room from between the boards. The moon must have been behind a cloud earlier. Stiles could now see a little bit better. He squinted momentarily as he looked at his companion. He was older than Stiles—maybe seven or eight years of age—and he was sitting in the corner. He had his back to the wall with his gaze so that he could see everything that happened in the room. Stiles noted that the boy’s eyes were shining blue in the light.

“Are you a mage?” Stiles asked, all childish curiosity.

The boy scoffed in response, “No. I’m not a stupid mage,”

“Hey!” Stiles hissed, “Mages aren’t stupid! My daddy said so!”

“Oh yeah?” The boy asked mockingly, “Well my father said to never trust someone who trusts a mage,”

Stiles blinked at that and tilted his head slightly, “I only know one mage,” he bites absently at his lower lip, “But he is kind of mean and yells at me a lot. I don’t like him,” Stiles declares with a decisive nod. Stiles thought he heard something like a snort from the other boy and this caused Stiles to grin slightly.

“You’re bleeding,” the other boy says. It’s not even a question. Stiles reaches up to the left side of his head again and winces as he finds a deep cut just above his hairline.

After a sigh the other boy made a sweeping gesture with his hand, “Come here,” he says.

Stiles was wary only for a moment before crawling his way back across the room.

“Sit,” the boy commanded. Stiles did as he was told and sat in front of the boy with his left side to him. Stiles felt a little uncomfortable when nothing happened for a moment.

“You smell funny,” the other boy mumbled as he ripped a strip of cloth from his tunic.

Stiles frowned and puffed his cheeks in defiance, “Nu-uh! I do not smell funny! You smell funny!”

“Do I?” The boy asked, tilting his head quizzically to the side. A smirk played on his lips as Stiles deflated.

“No, I can’t smell you,” Stiles looked at the boy out of his peripherals, “What do I smell like?”

“Different,” he answered after a moment, “Like spices and the river,” Stiles felt the boy’s nose at the base of his neck as he inhaled deeply, “It’s comforting,” the boy said softly, a rumble in his voice.

“Is that a good thing?” Stiles asked quietly.

“I guess so,” the boy mumbles, “Now hold still,”

The next moment Stiles feels something wet against his temple. It’s warm and rough and has Stiles blinking in confusion.

“Are you licking me?” He asks, trying to keep himself from giggling, “It tickles! Quit it!”

“Hold still,” the boy growled, but it had a light tone to it, “Doesn’t your mom do this to you when you get a scratch?”

“No,” Stiles shakes his head, “Mommy isn’t at home. Daddy said she went on a really long trip,”

The boy doesn’t answer to this. He just continues to lick the blood from Stiles’ face. When he reaches the actual wound, Stiles yelps and tries to pull away from him. The boy just wraps an arm around his waist and pulls him close.

“You’ll get sick if this isn’t cleaned,” he mumbles, returning to his cleansing. Stiles stays still the best he can but it stings a little and he can’t help but to tear up slightly. The boy is making a low rumbling in his throat and it’s strangely calming to Stiles. He felt his eyes drooping as his body slowly fell in to exhaustion. For some reason, he was very tired. Maybe the adrenaline had just all worn off by that point and his small body was ready for sleep. He leaned in to the heat of the other boy as he finished cleaning Stiles’ wound. He wrapped it with the strip of cloth he had made from his own tunic.

“I never said you could sleep on me,” the boy said. Stiles just made a grumble as he snuggled in to the boy’s chest. Stiles’ small fists wrapped around the cloth of the other boy’s tunic as he felt the tug of sleep calling his name. The boy sighed, defeated, and leaned back to lie on the ground. Stiles changed his position, turning on his side and curling in to the boy.

“Warm,” he mumbled sleepily, his head resting on the boy’s chest as a pillow. He inhaled deeply, the smell of damp earth filling his senses and lulling him even faster to sleep. The other boy sighed again, placing his right arm under his own head while putting his left arm around Stiles. The boy allowed his eyes to close and he slept. It was the first time he had actually gotten a restful sleep in days.

“Well isn’t this a cute sight,” said a gravelly voice, bringing Stiles awake. He’s actually jostled awake by sudden movement. The other boy has pushed Stiles behind him and is crouching in front of him, a low growl coming from him. A large man was standing in the doorway, casting a shadow in on the two boys.

He snarled angrily, “Down boy,” he hissed. The boy doesn’t even wince, his stance just tensing. The man scowled in disgust, “I hate having to deal with Shifter scum like you. Unfortunately you fetch a pretty penny, so no one really cares what I have to say about it. If it were up to me, I’d slit your throat and skin you for what you’re worth,”

The boy just growled in response. This caused the man to sneer and stomp forwards. He raised his hand and brought it down swiftly, a crunch coming from the contact of the boy’s body. The boy was knocked off his feet and slammed hard against the wooden wall of the structure. Stiles whimpered and covered his head as he tried to stop his trembling.

“Don’t get too cocky just because you have someone to show off for now—you’re still just a pup,” the man said before spitting on the other boy, “Someone will be around to give you your daily rations. Eventually,” With these words, the man left. He slammed the door behind him which caused the wooden structure they were in to shake slightly.

When the man had gone, Stiles jumped from where he was cowering. He scuttled over to where the boy was slowly getting up. His lip was curled up in an angry snarl and a dangerously low sound was rumbling from his throat. A rock had cut his forehead so a thin trail of blood was dripping down the side of his face.

“I’ll kill him,” the boy snarled, “I swear I will,” his eyes flashed an electric blue and he trembled with rage. Stiles watched as the boy’s teeth lengthened and the hair of his face became slightly thicker. His nails elongated and sharpened to points that looked like they could tear flesh. It was frightening to Stiles. Not knowing what to do, Stiles quickly took the elder boy in to his arms and squeezed him tight against him. A confused noise that sounded more animal than human came from the other boy. His body was tense, as if he had forgotten Stiles was even there. But Stiles refused to let go, his only movement to tighten the hug. After a second, the other boy seemed to relax a bit.

He patted Stiles’ back, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m okay now,”

It was a second before Stiles accepted that and released the boy from his hold. Stiles looked up and his mouth fell open, “Your eyes are green!”

The other boy let out the beginning of a laugh before stopping himself, but he was still smiling slightly, “Of course they are, and your eyes are light brown,”

Stiles narrowed his light brown eyes suspiciously at the boy, “Are you sure you’re not a mage?”

The boy’s smile only widened, “Positive,”

“Then how did you do that,” Stiles couldn’t find the word for it so he just flailed his arms.

The boy shrugged, “I’ve been able to do it since I can remember,”

“That’s so cool! Like out of a fairy tale!” Stiles exclaimed excitedly.

“Do you want me to do it again?” The boy asked.

Stiles felt like he should be afraid—like something about this should set off his danger sensors—but he just wanted to see it again. He nodded enthusiastically; feeling like his brain could rattle right out of his ears at any moment. The other boy smiled and opened his mouth to let Stiles watch as the boy’s canine teeth lengthened and sharpened.

This is how they spent a majority of their time. Every day, someone would come by and throw in half a loaf of bread and a cup of water for the two boys to share. They would split the bread in two—Stiles always getting the larger piece. One time Stiles had knocked over the cup of water and felt so bad that he cried for an entire hour. The boy just shook his head and had told Stiles that he wasn’t thirsty anyway.

When Stiles wasn’t bothering the boy about him changing, Stiles was talking. Stiles would tell the boy stories that his mother had told him, or that he had read in a book, or that his nurse had told him. Sometimes he would even make up his own stories, acting them out for the boy. Each night they slept together. The weather was turning cold so Stiles would always curl up as close to the boy as he could. The boy was so warm; it was like Stiles was sleeping next to a fireplace.

They stayed there for five days. But then there was a commotion outside the shed. Stiles hid in the corner, the boy crouching protectively in front of him. His teeth were out and his eyes flashed blue dangerously. There was yelling and the metallic sound of swords hitting against each other. Then suddenly all the noise just stopped. After a moment, the only sound was the swift sound of footsteps in the dirt outside moving towards the shed. Stiles curled in on himself, covering his head with his hands. The door swung open swiftly and there was an exclamation from the person.

“Stiles!” Said the voice. Stiles perked up instantly. He squinted against the sunlight and squealed in delight when he could finally see the person standing there.

“Daddy!” Stiles yelled. He jumped to his feet, pushing past the boy. He leapt in to the arms of the now crouching man. The man enveloped Stiles in a crushing hug, holding him to his chest.

“Stiles, my Stiles,” he murmured, cradling the boy against him. He pulled him away only for a moment to look at Stiles, “Are you hurt anywhere?”

Stiles shook his head quickly, “Nope! My friend fixed it all better!” He said gleefully, turning to look at the other boy. The other boy had moved himself in to the corner, still crouched in a defensive position. His eyes had returned to their green shade, but his teeth and nails were still long.

“Those teeth,” the man—Stiles’ father—murmured, “You must be of the Hale Clan,”

The boy’s eyes widened and for a moment he actually looked like the child he was, “You know my family?”

Stiles’ father nodded, “I know your father and I bet he’s very worried about you. Why don’t we get you both back where you belong?”

Stiles nodded quickly and the boy gave a small nod. Stiles’ father lowered Stiles to the ground and walked over to where the other boy was. He knelt down and produced a ring of keys from his pocket.

“I had a feeling these would come in handy,” he said, “Good thing I grabbed them off the big guy,” He slid the key in to the shackle on the boy’s leg and the cuff opened with a click. The boy rubbed at the reddened area and then looked up at Stiles’ father. The man smiled and stood. He held out his hand, which Stiles quickly grabbed, and then turned to the other boy.

“Let’s get you back home, shall we?” He asked gently, holding his other hand out to the boy. The boy looked at the hand for a long moment before taking it gingerly.

Stiles awoke with a start, gasping for breath. He sat up quickly, curling in on himself as he tried to regain his breathing. A dream, he thought, that had been a dream. He squeezed his eyes shut against the throbbing in his head. But it had seemed so real, almost like a memory. Had it been a memory? Stiles had been so young in the memory; it wouldn’t be uncommon for him to forget it. But why was he remembering it now? What was his body trying to tell him? He reached his hand up and gingerly touched the scar on his head. He could feel where his hair hadn’t grown along the small line.

Stiles remembered where he was and looked around. Derek was sitting in a chair next to the bed. He wasn’t too far away—maybe a couple feet. His arms were crossed over his chest and his head lulled slightly to the side. He had fallen asleep in the chair—more than likely watching Stiles. Stiles stared at Derek for a moment before sighing. He rubbed at his temples, trying to ebb away the dull ache there. Something that his father had said kept repeating in his head. You must be of the Hale Clan. Derek’s last name was Hale. The ache increased in Stiles’ head and he pressed his fingers harder against his temples. What did it all mean? Was Derek the boy from his memory? But he couldn’t be—he had said himself that they had never met before. Then again, the boy in Stiles’ memory had been pretty young. Maybe he had forgotten it as well.

The ache in Stiles’ head was becoming a sharp pain. Stiles didn’t want to think on it any longer. His head hurt, his leg throbbed dully, and his stomach felt as if it was turning itself inside out. He would ask Derek about it in the morning. Perhaps the boy had been one of Derek’s relatives. Maybe green eyes ran in the family—that wasn’t uncommon. After all, Stiles had the same color eyes as his father. It was very possible. But Derek had said that he was the only one left of his family. Stiles let out a small noise of frustration. There was too much to think about and he hurt too much to even start thinking. He lay back down and stared at the ceiling. Then he turned his gaze on the sleeping Derek. Stiles sighed once and closed his eyes. His nostrils flared as he picked up the scent of damp earth and how the air smells after it’s just rained. Without questioning the scent or its origin, Stiles was comforted by it and found himself drifting off to sleep once more.

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