What if Stiles and Derek's first kiss is post-nogitsune? Would he feel like a thief? Would he mourn the body that Derek never held? Would each brush of fingertips or kiss to his temple be a betrayal? They'd probably talk about the scars too. Derek would understand-- to an extent. But he grew up not without his history on his skin so he'll never understand how it feels to have that ripped away.
Their lips brush and Stiles turns away a second later, breaths shallow, hands twitching against the folds of Derek’s shirt. There’s warm breath on his cheek, the ghost of beard still so close and all Stiles can think is that he wants this. He wants this. And…
Those fingers, twitching against Derek’s shirt, smooth and uncalloused. The scar that used to live above his third knuckle just a burn-hot memory in his mind.
Everything still feels off in his body, out of balance, and he remembers the way Derek used to look at him. All tension and frustration in ways he couldn’t start to make sense of. And now Derek’s lips are in reach, a short turn away, and he’s murmuring out “Stiles…?” and all Stiles can think is…
“Do you want me?”
He can feel the stall in Derek’s thoughts like a physical reaction, and he wonders if there was a subtle tell or if… if he’d just felt it, inside, the confusion a flicker of chaos in Derek’s chest. Can he do that? Feel chaos? The Nogitsune drank it in and Stiles…
“Stiles,” Derek breathes again, a quirk of amusement in his tone. Thumbs smooth down his hips and Stiles fights the urge to rise into the contact. “Thought I’d just answered that question.”
And Stiles could leave it at that, asked and answered. Except…
There should be a scar on his hip, long and thin, from a fence he’d scaled once and dropped down five times faster. Derek should be feeling that right now, that piece of Stiles’ history, that stupid ten year old adventure laid out across his skin. But the skin’s smooth. Blank slate.
He shivers, gripping tighter into Derek’s shirt.
“No, I––” He can’t think of how to explain it. The thoughts are a choked feeling in his throat, a twist in his gut. Something like guilt and fear and he doesn’t even know what answer he wants when he leans back enough to find Derek’s eyes and say: “Since when? Did you… I mean, before…”
He’s not sure Derek knows what he means, but there’s a hint of flush under that dark beard suddenly, and Stiles gets a little bit lost in the contrast.
“Last––?” It pulls Stiles back, his eyes startling up. That was… most of a year, that was before…
A sick lurch sets him falling back out of Derek’s grip. Too-smooth fingers (uncalloused) slip too easy from Derek’s chest. His sneaker-covered feet might as well be walking over glass and he’s being dramatic except that he’s really not. Because if Derek wanted him last summer…
“That wasn’t me.” It sounds wrong as he says it, stupid, because… he was there that summer. He remembers every moment spent with Derek, researching the Alphas, searching for hints of Boyd and Erica. Charged smirks and snark and quiet moments that felt more comfortable than they should. He remembers the moments before summer too, when the thought of Derek made his heart pound and his body thrum in a way that could have only meant fear, except it hadn’t only been fear. He’d been scared of the Alpha too, and the hunters, and that coil of electric heat only sparked through his gut for Derek. He remembers that, like he remembers the scars that aren’t there anymore, and he can’t help running his too-soft fingertips over the smooth flesh of his knuckle as he breathes out, faint and lost, “…Was that me?”
There’s a too long pause while the question burns back into his throat, buzzing through his limbs like a current until he realizes he’s shaking from them. Was that him? Helping Derek track the Alpha pack? Helping Scott learn to control his wolf? Sitting by his mom’s hospital bed, watching her lose the long war to her illness, pieces of her flaking away like old scars, like a whole identity, like––
A warm hand closes over his, large and gentle, grounding.
“It was you,” Derek says, simply. Like there’s no question, like nothing’s changed. Like Stiles hasn’t changed.
But that’s wrong. He’s not the same person he was before the Nogitsune, and he’s not talking in the experiences change you, huh kind of way. He’d had scars before. He’d had… a whole life written on his skin. And then he’d crawled out from inside his possessed body’s throat, spawned out like some alien parasite or… clone and––
“My body died, back there.” Four months past, and he still can’t wrap his head around it. That he’d watched himself bitten and impaled, spasm and cracking and shatter to dust.
The scarred body. His real body.
And he was left in… this.
Long fingers uncurl, stretching out slow. Thin, pale digits fitting strangely perfect between Derek’s, and Stiles can only wonder what it would have looked like before.
“…What if I’m not real?” He watches Derek’s fingers twitch, barely perceptible, tightening like they’re fighting to hold onto him. And Derek’s lost enough in his life, too much. It’s a dick move to say this, to take anything else away from him, but… “What if the guy you wanted last summer… what if he died inside the Nogitsune, and I’m just––”
The sureness of it has Stiles’ throat clenching. He tilts his head, challenging. Finds Derek’s eyes again.
“You don’t know that.”
“I know you.”
Which is just… it’s stupid how that makes Stiles’ heart jump. Flutter around like it’s fighting to leap the distance between them and plaster itself all up against Derek’s stupid, muscled, secretly sweet as hell chest.
Which… yeah, that’s nearly a gross enough visual to stomp his fondness boner in the bud. He sets his jaw.
“Did you know I used to have a scar on––”
“Your right hand? Just above the third knuckle, a burn.”
Stiles’ argument stalls out. He blinks, finger shifting to rub over the space, but Derek’s is already there, soothing the phantom mark over his skin.
“I… was eleven.” Because silence has never been safe for him. Because noise distracts from the too-easy pleasure rippling up his arm. “First time I tried cooking dinner for me and dad. Mac and cheese, it… didn’t go great.” He wets his lips. Looks away “Or… the other me did, I don’t––”
“You did.” And Derek still sounds so damn sure. Stiles wants to believe him. He parts his lips, can’t. Because––
“Stiles, I’ve never had scars on my skin. I… can’t relate to what it’s like to lose them. But the things that have happened to me… they’re not any less real because I can’t see them. Every bullet, cut, punch I’ve taken…” He might sense the wince forming on Stiles’ face, and shakes his head, shrugging that off like it’s not important. But that’s an argument for another day. “Every scar life gave you… they’re still there. You’re still carrying them, inside you.” He flits his eyes down Stiles’ frame, then away, finger soothing over the ghost burn. “There are plenty no one would have ever seen anyway. But they made you. Who you are, and who you are…” He shakes his head, looks back to meet Stiles’ eyes squarely. “You recognized me when I was a teenager. That’s the same person who recognized me in the preserve.” Stiles feels his face heat because… even knowing Derek’s a werewolf now, he’d never put together that Derek would have heard his fangirl moment to Scott after Derek had walked away.
Before he can speak up, though, Derek’s going on. “You tracked me to Mexico. Faced down the Calaveras to save me. That’s the same person who stared down the Argents, drove a Jeep into a kanima, who hit an Alpha with a wooden baseball bat––”
“Two Alphas,” Stiles cuts in, because props, ok?“Two, that were…” His free hand mimes squishing, and Derek’s lips twitch.
“Two,” he agrees, and Stiles can’t not smile back. Just for a second –– fond, helpless –– then he’s ducking his head. Derek sighs, catches his chin. Guides it up until their gazes lock again.
“That was you,” he says, so firmly Stiles can’t help believing this time. “Was the man who clawed his way out of his own possession. Followed Scott’s howl back to the real world. And whatever happened to your body, whatever… magic gave you a new one, Stiles came out with it. Your scars are still there, just…” His fingers trail to Stiles’ chest, and something thumps out eagerly to meet them.
“Inside,” Stiles breathes, and the way Derek’s eyes warm makes him shiver with a proud ripple of pleasure.
“Inside,” Derek echoes. Runs a thumb light along Stiles’ lip. “You could have come out of the Nogitsune looking like anything. Wouldn’t change who you are.”
And damn, Stiles has fallen for a goddamn poet in a grumpy wolf’s body. …But then, Stiles is pretty sure he’d known that already.
His fingers go up, curl gently into Derek’s shirt.
“But… you like this body,” he prompts, and Derek gives an exasperated huff, pulling him in.
“I like this body,” he confirms, and it doesn’t feel wrong to hear that.
When Derek kisses him this time, Stiles doesn’t pull away.