Stiles gasped for breath, stretching his lungs to the brim as he flung his eyes open. He panted heavily, his chest moving quickly as he tried to get as much air as he possibly could. His head felt like it was splitting open and his eyes burned as if he had been crying. He responded just in time to sit up so that he could empty his stomach on the floor next to the bed. He retched until all the acrid bile had been purged from his body. Now he was shaking and a cold sweat broke across his forehead. A hand placed on Stiles shoulder and he whipped around to see who it was.
“Woah man,” said a boy Stiles age, “Calm down. It’s me—it’s Scott,”
“Scott,” Stiles breathed. His voice was scratchy and his throat hurt. Had he been screaming?
“Man, I can say that you’re a sight for sore eyes,” Scott mumbled. He grinned crookedly at Stiles, “I leave on an errand for Deaton and this is what I come back to?”
“I thought we agreed that you were the glue that held this place together,” Stiles joked. He returned Scott’s smile and clapped their hands together. They came together for a semi-hug and back pat.
“But Stiles, my brother, you look absolutely wrecked,” Scott sighed as he sat down. He grabbed a rag from a bowl next to Stiles’ bed. He squeezed out the excess water and dabbed the rag along Stiles’ forehead. The coolness made Stiles let out a breath and he relaxed in to the bed once more.
“When did you get back?” Stiles asked softly, reveling in the coolness from the rag.
“Two days ago,”
Stiles looked at Scott, his eyes wide, “Two days—how long have I been sleeping?”
“Mom says that you passed out on the Day of Thorns,” Scott frowned slightly, “It’s now the Day of Dew,”
“Five days,” Stiles whispered, “I’ve been out for five whole days?” Scott only nodded.
“Mom and I have been taking care of you,”
“What about the stables?”
Scott waved a dismissive hand, “Deaton said he could handle the horses himself—he’d been doing it for a long time before I ever got there,”
“Well, I appreciate it,” Stiles began, “But could you tell Melissa that next time I would prefer my nursemaid to have a little more chest?”
Scott punched Stiles on the shoulder which caused Stiles to laugh. Scott and Stiles had been friends since they were born. Scott’s mom was actually the midwife for Stiles’ birth. She had been pregnant at the time with Scott. Stiles’ dad always remembers it as more of a comical sight—seeing a pregnant woman yelling at another pregnant woman who was yelling back just as much. Stiles and Scott grew up together. Scott’s mom, Melissa McCall, was the Royal Physician. So Scott was able to get a job as a stable hand in the palace. The two boys were inseparable. When Stiles wasn’t in his classes or training, and Scott wasn’t tending to the horses, they were running around causing an absolute ruckus.
“You really had us worried there for a while, Stiles,” Scott said softly. If he was a dog, Stiles thought, Scott would be looking down with his ears turned backwards. Stiles blinked—where did that thought come from?
“What happened?” Scott asked.
Stiles shrugged, “I don’t really know. One second I’m in the throne room,” Stiles frowned, his eyebrows coming together, “Then Sir Argent brought in a suspect for the recent killings,”
A ringing was beginning in Stiles ears. His frown deepened. The man had set something off inside of Stiles. He felt his stomach clench. Why was his body reacting this way? He tried to see the man in his head. Short, impossibly messy hair that swooped characteristically as if he had just woken up and not bothered to style it. A chiseled jaw covered in a permanent shadow of stubble. Surprisingly expressive eyebrows. Lips that could pull back in to a brilliant smile to melt anyone’s heart. Brilliant, piercing green eyes.
“Ah,” Stiles gasped. His eyes widened as the ringing increased and became a siren in his head. He pressed his palms to his ears.
“No, no, no, no,” he whimpered. His vision swam and he felt like he was going to be sick again. He doubled over, pushing his hands against his head.
“Stiles?” Scott called, sounding far away, “Stiles what’s wrong?”
“No, no, make it stop, make it stop!” Stiles yelled. His words broke down in to screams of agony as the pain in his head became all that he could feel in his body. He didn’t even notice when Scott ran from the room, yelling for his mother. The pain became unbearable and Stiles passed out from it. A word—a name—rested behind his eyelids. It played over and over in his head as he sank in to the darkness.
When Derek opened his eyes, he was finally able to convince himself that things were messed up. For the past two months he had told himself to get over Stiles. It would never happen in the first place—no matter how accepting of Derek’s blood Stiles was. It was a cruel and vicious trick that the gods had played by putting him together with his mate not once but twice. Now here he was again, merely a few floors of stone between him and his mate. The second that the Royal Guard had brought him within the borders of Beacon Kingdom, Derek could hear Stiles’ heartbeat. He had shivered and earned a swift kick to his ribs for it. His wolf stirred crazily inside of him wanting only to be close to Stiles—to smell his scent.
But that was the thing—the entire kingdom was heavy with Stiles’ scent. It clung lazily to the air and covered every inch of the place. Stiles must have done patrols regularly now that he had debuted as the Crown Prince. It drove Derek crazy just thinking that he was so close to Stiles and yet still so far from him. For weeks Derek’s cottage had smelled of Stiles. He had returned, his shoulder still healing, to find that Stiles had not returned to the cottage. He made a mess of the cottage when he went on a small rampage. His mate had been stolen from him and there was nothing he could do about it. It was like Stiles’ scent lingered as a sort of reminder of Derek’s failure.
Derek burned his bed sheets.
Now here he was, chained up to a wall in Stiles’ basement. Well, dungeon—not basement. This place didn’t smell as strongly of Stiles as the other places in the kingdom had. The scent still drifted down to the dank prison every now and then, but it was muddled by the musk in the air. It was like dripping water in to the mouth of a man stuck in the desert. He would want more—need it to survive—and know that it was there but he couldn’t get it of his own volition.
Derek groaned in the back of his throat and let his head fall back to rest against the wall. He had been ready for the scent, but it still hit him like running in to a brick wall when they entered the throne room. Everything that was Stiles flooded back to him—his scent, his warmth, the feel of his skin, the taste of his mouth. Derek’s wolf whined low and chewed at him in his bloodstream. He kept playing the scene in the throne room over and over in his head. He could smell Stiles’ curiosity. But it was strange; the emotions that Stiles was emitting were not the ones that Derek had expected. Stiles smelled of curiosity, a hint of fear, but most of all he lacked the smell ofrecognition. It hadn’t been that long—only a few months. Could Stiles really have forgotten Derek in such a short amount of time? Had their—had their time together been so meaningless to Stiles?
So Derek looked up to face Stiles and the king. Derek looked straight at Stiles. He was afraid of what he would see in the boy’s honey eyes or rather what he wouldn’t see. But when Derek found Stiles’ gaze, the air turned sharp and acidic with pain. Derek’s nostrils flared and his eyes widened as he watched all the color drain from Stiles’ face.
“Derek,” Stiles whispered—although he might as well have yelled it with how tuned to Stiles all of Derek’s senses were. Then Stiles’ eyes rolled in to the back of his head and his body fell forward as he passed out. Derek moved on instinct to jump up and catch him before he hit the ground. He crossed the distance just in time to slide under him and cushion him with his body. His wrists had been bound behind him in rope braided with a weak strain of wolfs bane. The sudden movement coupled with the fainting of the Prince had everyone frozen for a moment, which was how Derek was able to move away from the Royal Guard standing near him.
“Stiles!” Derek hissed. His eyes frantically searched Stiles’ face, but he was out cold. Then suddenly as if a spell was broken, the throne room was thrown in to a flurry of action.
“Call for the Physician! Get Melissa here now!” King Stilinski bellowed, “Guards! What are you doing? Get him away from my son!”
The next thing he knew, Derek was being pulled away from Stiles.
“No! Let me go!” Derek roared, his eyes flashing red. He hissed as the binds at his wrist burned his skin, reacting to the release of his wolf. Derek looked up to see the king cradling Stiles in his arms, trying to rouse his son. But Derek was quickly being pulled out of the room. He fought against the guards, but they were strong and any use of supernatural strength caused the ropes to burn him. Melissa, the physician, was there and checking Stiles’ vitals just as Derek was removed from the area. When the doors shut, Derek let all of his frustrations boil out in a yell that was as close to a howl as he could get when he was a human.
So here he was now, strung up like some Christmas ham. Chris Argent had interrogated him the first couple of days. The questions were mainly about the recent killings in the forest—which Derek was in no way involved in, thank you very much. He told Sir Argent about the omega that Derek had been tracking when his guard captured him on account of “suspicious behavior.” He left out the part where they decided that he was “resisting arrest” and used “necessary roughness” with him. Who would have thought that punching the ever loving shit out of a person was necessary? Not that Derek was too terribly bitter about it—it hurt like a bitch at the time, but healed all the same.
Sir Argent had taken Derek’s word about the omega. But just to be on the safe side, he kept Derek in captivity. Which, Derek didn’t blame him for either. It was probably difficult enough to trust Derek about the omega when one hadn’t been around for years. So in case Derek was lying, Argent would know exactly where Derek was when the knight had further questions. Although, honestly? Derek wished they would have adjusted his accommodations accordingly to his willingness to cooperate. They didn’t have to let him out—lining the cage with mountain ash would be sufficient. Slide the key inside and complete the line, then make Derek get himself out of his shackles. Of course Derek was never so lucky. He was stuck with his arms in the air and staring at the bars of his cell. All the while, he could hear Stiles’ steady heartbeat. Derek sighed through his nose and closed his eyes. He let the sound wash over him and bring him a small semblance of calm.
Derek must have fallen asleep. When he opened his eyes again he blinked away the blurriness at the edges. His body felt so relaxed—a feeling that had eluded him the past few months. He inhaled deeply as he stretched as much of his muscles as he could from his imprisonment. The scent of fresh, spring rain filled his being and worked out more knots in his body than any physician could. The scent was surprisingly strong and Derek’s brow furrowed in slight confusion. Had Stiles walked nearby the dungeon entrance?
Derek focused his sights in the low torchlight and froze. Standing in front of his cell was Stiles. Derek’s wolf whined. Stiles looked terrible. He had lost weight since Derek had last seen him. The color of his skin was pale and sickly, as if he had just gotten over a fever. Sweat sprinkled the skin of Stiles’ forehead, as if he was still fighting off the illness. But still—this person before him was Stiles, his Stiles.
“Stiles,” Derek breathed. His voice came out as steam and Derek wondered idly how cold it was in the dungeons during the winter. His thoughts immediately came back to Stiles. He wasn’t wearing much clothing, just a tunic and some breeches. He wore thin soled slippers. Was he warm enough? What if he caught a cold? Since when did Derek become a mother hen? Stiles pulled a key out of his pocket and slipped it in to the gate. The tumbler turning made a metallic thump in the empty dungeons and the door opened with a small groan of protest. Stiles left the key in the lock as he walked towards Derek. His eyes were determined, but Derek could smell the slightly sour scent of Stiles’ apprehension. When Stiles was but an arm’s length away, he stopped. He was nearly eye to eye with Derek. The boy searched Derek’s face and Derek wondered just what he was looking for.
Stiles throat bobbed as he prepared to speak, “Who are you?” he whispered.
It was at that point that Derek knew something was terribly, terribly wrong.