They sting, the cuts. Stiles runs his his fingers over his shoulder blades again, feeling the cracked and scabbing skin. He twists in front of the mirror, craning his neck to get a better look at them. Three lines on the left of his spine, another three on the right. They make up a triskele, he knows that, he’s seen it too many times to not, but it’s harsher than Derek’s; more strict, direct, branding. This is most likely what it feels like to be owned. An image of cattle roaming a field flashes across his vision and he feels his mouth turn up at the corners. Sardonic. Stiles closes his eyes, digging his thumb into the skin until it breaks. Opening them when little pebbles of blood pool around his finger. This probably isn’t what the Tahitian meant by an open wound.
He doesn’t remember much about that night—doesn’t want to remember, really. But it doesn’t exactly matter. They got their message across well enough. Sharp enough.
The skin on his back bruises green and purple.
Derek touches them subconsciously. At least Stiles thinks its subconscious. He doesn’t think Derek notices what his own hands are doing when he’s sitting still, squeezed between Stiles and the arm of the couch. It always starts the same way: thumb on Stiles’ pulse point, his other fingers resting at Stiles’ nape. It ends the same way too: Derek’s fingers slipped inside Stiles’ t-shirt, tracing the scars almost absently, possessively. It’s not too bad, Stiles figures, to be owned by someone who likes to place their mouth behind your ear and splay their hands on your back. If Stiles shuts his eyes often enough, he can imagine they’re make-shift angel wings.
Stiles twists in front of the mirror and looks at the pink skin on his back. The three straight lines, the three jutting edges. He looks down at the scar on his palm, the one on his calf and thinks they’re not much different in the end.
“Want a tattoo,” he tells the side of Derek’s face as they sit next to each other on the couch, Derek thumbing through an old book.
Derek turns a page, flicks his eyes up at Stiles’ face and then back down to the book.
Stiles pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around them.
Derek’s fingers still on the paper. He looks like a frozen character in a video game for a half a second before he closes the book and turns to face Stiles.
“Of what?” Derek says, and his voice sounds grating, hoarse.
Stiles looks down at his knees and then at the space next to Derek’s ear.
“Wings,” he says.
“Oh,” Derek says and Stiles slides his gaze back to Derek’s face. His expression is blank, neutral.
“How big?” Derek asks.
Stiles grins, grabbing Derek’s hands with this own and stretching his fingers out until they’re touching palm to palm, fingertip to fingertip.
“This big,” he says and the sunlight glints off his teeth.
Stiles stands in Derek’s loft, one hand resting on his lower abdomen, the other curled around a mug of coffee. It’s morning and Stiles likes the way the sun shines down through the big window panes. His toes look pale out of shadows.
A hand slides through the space made between his crooked elbow and his side, and covers Stiles’ left hand. Their fingers intertwine. Derek rests his forehead against the back of Stiles’ neck and Stiles closes his eyes again.