AU: Stiles is the morally ambivalent angel that guards Beacon Hills from evil. More or less.
He will watch over your town, but he will steal your shoes if he likes them.
Derek smelled him before he saw him, the stench of dry bones and old leather thick in the air. This time, all he felt was relief. The rattle in Derek’s ruined throat, the blood running into his lungs—he knew it was all but over now, thank God. Derek was an omega, no match for a whole pack; it hadn’t even been worth fighting back when they cornered him.
"You can call me Gerard. We don’t keep to the old traditions these days," Death had said the first time they’d met, as Derek stood next to the stinking, smoking ruins of everything he loved. "I’ll be back for you. Sooner than you think, but not as soon as you’ll wish." He’d looked like someone’s grandfather, but his voice had made the animal in Derek want to slink away and hide.
For a moment Derek had nearly asked him to take him then, because it seemed easier than facing an unknown number of days remembering what he’d done. But Laura had been there, tears streaming down her soot-streaked face, hand squeezing his so hard he thought the bones might snap. She would be devastated, and utterly alone. And she didn’t know what he’d done.
By the time Derek had made up his mind not to say anything, the old man had disappeared anyway, and for years Derek had wondered if he’d imagined it. But he hadn’t. Six years later, Death had come back, as promised, but he hadn’t been seeking Derek, not yet. He’d come for Laura.
"Well, here we are again, Derek," Gerard said to him now, as he stepped into the clearing. His smile was nasty—crooked teeth and thin lips, skin like parchment paper stretching over the bones of his face. "It’s a real disappointment about your throat, I have to admit. I was looking forward to hearing you thank me for finally putting you out of your misery."
It was a cool spring night, the smell of green things and newborn animals in the woods around them, the sky twinkling with stars. A good day to die. Derek pulled his claws out of the moist earth under him and let his fangs slip away. He wouldn’t need them anymore.
"It’s been over a year, hasn’t it? Since the last time we saw each other." Gerard squatted next to Derek and pressed his busted shoulder into the wet grass with a bony claw of a hand, sending a flare of pain through Derek’s left side. He would have screamed, but all that came out of the raw mess where his throat had been was a wet gurgle. "The lake. I thought you were mine for sure," Gerard said, mouth twitching in a rueful smile. "So close."
Derek had been up in the mountains that time, chased out onto an ice-covered lake by a truck full of hunters, and they’d laughed when he’d fallen through, chucked empty beer bottles at him as he tried and failed to pull himself out. Exhausted and with two arrows sticking out of him, he’d finally gone under. He’d spent several minutes clawing frantically at the underside of the ice, unable find his way back to the hole he’d come through, too weak to punch a new one. Eventually, he’d wondered why he was even trying.
He’d puked his way back to consciousness on the icy shoreline, and screamed his rage at an uncaring forest. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten out of the lake, because he remembered the four times before that when he’d walked right up to the line and not been pulled over it; he knew who had saved him. But that was the first time being saved had felt like a missed opportunity. Things had been different since then. It had been a long year.
He could feel the life leeching out of him now, everything going gray and blurry as he started to fade, the creeping chill steadily spreading down his body from where Gerard was touching him, and all he could think was, Finally. Finally. He closed his eyes, and waited.
And then Derek felt the rush of cool air on his face, and smelled the unmistakable crystalline scent of him, like the coldest, brightest winter night, when the sky had a million stars in it and a howl would travel for miles through crisp, clean air. Like the pure, clear water that filled the mountain streams and burned like fire going down a parched throat. Like the moon at its fullest and strongest, white and flawless and beautiful.
And just like the moon, he was radiant and cold and forever out of reach. And just like the moon, he was—for Derek—forever inescapable.
"You can’t have him," Stiles said, and Derek heard him land lightly next to them, heard the soft rustle of his wings. When Derek opened his eyes, the stars were invisible, their brightness muted out by the strange, diffused light that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere when Stiles was present.
He was a white marble carving of powerful wings, chiseled torso and arms, his hands clean and spare, the curve of his mouth and the ridges of his cheekbones like something sculpted with an eye to perfection, his eyes sparking golden. From the waist up, he didn’t look real. From the waist down, he looked like a teenager, black pants hanging too low on his hips, and tennis shoes, and one red shoelace trailing on the ground.
"Ah, but you’re too late," Gerard laughed, and if Derek had been able to talk, he would have begged Stiles to let him go this time, to just let Death have him. He never would have begged Gerard, but he would beg Stiles. "He’s nearly mine already."
Stiles lowered himself next to Derek, wings lifting and spreading as he balanced on the balls of his feet, and took Derek’s hand in his. “There’s still some light in him,” Stiles said softly, smiling down at him, and then he bent his head and kissed Derek’s mouth, a gentle brush with his lips that sent syrupy warmth rolling through Derek’s whole body, chasing away the paralyzing cold. Derek wanted to claw at his own throat as it began to knit itself back together.
Gerard snatched his hand away, hissing. He wiped his hand on his pants and spat on the ground, as if something tasted bad in his mouth. “Does your father know his favorite son keeps an unclean thing for a pet?”
"Yes," Stiles said simply, and it had to be true, because Derek knew seraphim couldn’t lie. There was blood on Stiles’ mouth from kissing Derek.
"He’s nothing," Gerard sneered as he stood up, nudging Derek’s hip with his foot. "He’s insignificant."
"If that’s true, why do you want him so bad?" Stiles asked, and his wings quivered as he looked up at Gerard. His eyes flashed white, and Gerard scowled at him before he vanished.
Derek worked his healing throat, choking on thick blood before Stiles turned his head for him so he could spit it into the grass. Pins and needles raced through his shoulder as it healed, the bones snapping back into place with a sickening jolt. He rolled to his hands and knees, coughing more blood. Stiles’ hand rubbed up and down his back as he felt the gashes on his chest and arms close up, like a zipper being zipped, and shuddered.
"You should have let me go," he said as he stumbled to his feet. His voice was unrecognizable. "I told you last time—"
"I told you last time that you’re needed here. And when your time does come, I’ll take you, not Gerard."
"I don’t care who does it," Derek said. He just wanted it to be soon. "I don’t fucking—" between one word and the next they were standing next to Derek’s car, miles away from where Gerard had found him "—care. And I hate it when you do that,” Derek snarled, slumping back against the fender.
Stiles handed Derek his keys, and then cupped his hand around the back of Derek’s neck and squeezed. Derek couldn’t help it—he swayed toward him, still angry and miserable, but unable to resist the touch.
"You would care, if you knew what comes after this for you," Stiles said, before he let go. He spread his wings and rose into the air, Derek’s blood still on his mouth, and then he was gone.