I don't own the characters or the original story. All Kelly Armstrong. Hope you guys like it! Please R&R!

I was about to dab the blood off his face. You know, clean up the guy who was actually in the fight. My hands were shaking a little as I reached up to him, but he grabbed the paper towel away from me, making me feel like a little kid.

As he was busy picking gravel out of his skin (with me definitely not paying attention to what he was doing), Derek asked, "Why would you care if I went with those guys? You'd be safe. You could easily get a bus ticket to see Simon. He'd never leave without you."

I turned my head to face him, even though he was concentrating on his own image in the bathroom mirror. Here was this boy – this scared, hurt, confused boy – who had been with me and wanted to help me ever since he'd met me at Lyle House. Sure, he was a pain in the ass every now and again, always getting on my case about things that I really couldn't control, but I'd never imagined being without him. I couldn't. It was like there was a magnet between us; no matter how far apart we were from each other, we'd always find our way back.

Not to mention that he needed me. My heart would rip to pieces if Derek ever had to go through the pain of his Change without me. He needed me to be there with him. Just to be there and sit with him and touch him, just to remind him that I was near. Not Simon, not Tori, not his disappeared adoptive father. Me, Chloe Saunders.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I need him too. Not in the same way that I needed Simon, and certainly not in the way that I needed Tori. Neither of them would be able to deal with this whole necromancy business, as evidenced by our little run-in with Mr. Homeless Man back in the city. Without Derek, I would never have the heart to practice. I'd try, but I'd be too scared. I just kind of figured that he'd always be there to help me.

Crazy, right? I met the guy less than a week ago.

"I could never let them take you because of me. I would die before I let that happen," I finally responded.

"But why?" he pushed, sounding less and less like the side of Derek I'd gotten to see alone and more and more like the side of Derek I see when we're around the others. "What could I possibly offer you that you would risk your life to save me?"

He looked up at me again, meeting my blue eyes with his deep, forest green ones. Our faces were closer than I'd realized they'd ever been. Something in my stomach flip-flopped. I don't think anyone has ever looked at me like that before, right in the eyes like they are really thinking something about me.

"You're-" Derek started, his expression softening. It seemed as though he thought his statement through again, then decided it wasn't something he'd wanted to disclose yet. He moved back from me and turned his attention back to his own face in the mirror.

"What? I'm what?" I asked him, prompting him.

"Nothing, just answer my question," he said gruffly.

Not thinking, I reached up and took his hands away from his face. Taking the paper towel and discarding it. His hands felt so strong in mine, like they could scoop me up as if I were as light as a feather (and let's face it, Derek could probably do that). He didn't look at me like he had before, though.

"Derek," I said softly.

"What?" he said, looking down at the placement of our hands.

"Derek, look at me."

Slowly, he lifted his eyes to meet mine only briefly. "There, happy?"

"No. Look at me," I repeated. The butterflies in my stomach were knocking harder than they ever had before. My heart was pounding worse than it was when we were confronted by the werewolves, which I was sure that he could hear.

He held my gaze like he had before. When I let go of his hands, he gave me a look of confusion, but then they found his face.

It may have been cheesy. I'd seen a million movie scenes like it before. The heroine reached up to touch the face of her hero right before she kisses him. But we weren't going to kiss. At least, I didn't think we were. We couldn't. I stroked his cheek a little with my thumb and he stood as still as a statue, his hands bracing himself on both sides of me while I was balancing on the side of the sink.

I realized that he was beautiful. Not in the traditionally good-looking way. His acne-covered face was a testament to the fact that he hadn't hit puberty with the airs and graces that some guys do. But he was beautiful in his strength, mentally and physically. And his heart…his heart was strong too. Stronger than mine, which was, consequentially, threatening to bang its way out of my chest.

"What do you see in me?" he whispered quietly. "How can you stand to be around me?"

"B-b-because I…I…"

I wanted to tell him so badly. Tell him what, I wasn't quite sure. That I cared about him? Too cheesy. And he knew that. He should know that. I think he knows that. But what did it matter? I was mute. I couldn't say anything. The only thing I was able to do at that moment was stare into his eyes. I'm pretty sure I couldn't even breathe properly.

He sighed much more deeply than I'd ever heard anyone sigh before. I could tell that the analytical wheels in his brain were chugging at five thousand miles per hour. He was going to turn away from me. Any second. And the moment would be lost forever; the moment that I actually felt like I could be with Derek and things would be okay.

He did. He started to turn away but I just couldn't let it happen. My heart was protesting too much. I suppose it helped that my hands were already on his face. I turned him back toward me and I kissed him. Just like that. I stretched up to him and I brushed my lips against his for a few seconds. As soon as there was space between us, I knew that I wanted to do it again. And again and again and again.

I stretched again, my hands now behind his neck, but he gently pushed me back. He didn't feel the same way. I was such an idiot. My cheeks burned red and I had to make a conscious effort not to let the tear behind my eyelid fall out.

Neither of us were looking at each other. "I-I'm s-s-sorry," I stammered out, trying to sound cool and confident, even though I felt like running and crying. My charade would have worked, too, if that damn tear hadn't escaped.

When I apologized, Derek looked at me and saw it running down my cheek because I didn't have the good sense to wipe it away before he could see it. "Oh, god Chloe. No, it's not like that," he said softly, reaching up to wipe the tear with his big thumb.

"I-i-it's okay, Derek," I said.

"No, you don't understand. I want to kiss you, I just can't kiss you. Just in case," he said. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I guess it showed on my face because he added, "You know, they call it 'swapping spit.' Werewolf, remember? I don't want to infect you."

"Oh," I said plainly.

"Chloe, I feel…I think…Well, you and me-"

I put a finger on his lips to shut him up. I looked back into his eyes, telling him that he didn't have to say anything out loud. I knew. I felt it too. We were bound together by a magnet. Maybe it's different than the magnet I thought earlier, but maybe there was just something that I was missing before. Either way, I wanted to be as close to him as possible. And believe me, I mean as close as possible.

I stretched once more, but not for his face. This time, I was aiming for his neck. I kissed it like I saw so many women kiss their lovers in the movies. I took my time, focusing where his neck was connected to his head and following it over to his jugular.

Under my lips, I could feel his breathing become more ragged. He put his arms around me, locking me to him (which I was not about to complain about). "What are you doing, Chloe?" he asked in a husky voice.

"I'm kissing you in safer places," I said, kissing him on the neck between each word I spoke.

"Safer for who?" he asked, with a short laugh. I don't think I'd ever heard him laugh before that. I made a mental note that I would have to make him laugh again in the near future.

Letting out a stream of curses, he said, "We have to go. We're going to miss our bus."

Complaining with a groan, I said, "Already?" in the best little-kid voice I could muster.

Grinning, he picked me up off the counter and set me on my feet. Making sure I was steadied, he took my hand and led me outside where we boarded the bus that would bring us back to Simon and Tori. A bus that would maybe bring us one step closer to figuring out where Simon's dad had disappeared to, but also a bus that would maybe bring us one step closer to figuring out ourselves and what we were capable of. We just had to hope that Andrew had some answers.

Derek walked us to the back corner, very secluded from the other few people scattered in the seats. As I began to sit down in the seat next to him, he said, "Why are you sitting so far away? I don't bite." He pat his lap.

I'm not the type of girl who goes for this sort of thing. Normally. Seriously, I'm not. But this offer was just too perfect to give up. I nearly jumped out of my seat and nestled myself against him.

He was so tall that I could sit comfortably on his lap without our heads bumping into each other. Again, I stretched to kiss the underside of his chin. He moved away slightly before I could plant any more. "My turn."

I sat as still as I possibly could while he pecked my forehead, then both of my cheeks. But when he bent down to kiss my neck, I knew it was over. I couldn't contain myself. I began to squirm in delight; not in the way that little kids squirm, but in the way that a woman does in a movie when she wants to create some kind of friction between her and her lover.

When he began sucking on my earlobe, I let out a low moan. I wasn't even aware that it came from me or that I was capable of making a noise like that. But Derek heard it. (Damn supersonic hearing…) He heard it and he knew he found my weak spot. He just kept sucking and sucking and sucking and I moved my butt down against him with more force.

Now, I've had anatomy class. I know what happens when boys get happy. But never in a billion, zillion years did I ever imagine that I would have that effect on anybody. To feel that I had that effect on Derek – seemingly unfeeling, unmoving Derek – was incredible. It was a self-esteem booster, that's for sure.

Not only was it a self-esteem booster, but it made me want more. A lot more. I was craving his touch like a madwoman. Maybe if Lyle House was really for crazy people, I belonged there for this, not for necromancy.

I turned around in the seat so that I was no longer sitting on his lap, but kneeling to face him. He bent to attack my ear again, but I brushed him away. I had other things in mind. He had already taken off his sweatshirt in the bathroom and I was now determined to get his shirt off, too.

I would have never admitted it before this moment, but I found his chiseled chest extremely attractive. The first night I had seen it, when he came out of his room in only his boxers, I thought he was the most stunning thing that had ever graced this planet, looks-wise. I was still convinced he was a jackass then, though, so my thoughts dissipated as soon as he opened his mouth to mock me or tell me off.

When I reached for the hem of his shirt, it was his turn to brush me away. "Not here," he whispered. "Not now."

I tried to hide my disappointment by avoiding his eyes, but he lifted my chin so that I was looking at him. "Not never, just not here."

"But…you're," I took time to clear my throat, "ready."

Derek turned scarlet, looking extremely embarrassed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-" I began to apologize.

"No, I'm sorry," Derek interrupted. "I should have better control."

"I wish you didn't," I said. Taking a moment to step back and think about what I had just said, I realized how slutty it sounded. How slutty I was being. How positively unlike me all of this was. But it never occurred to me to stop. And then I realized something.

I loved Derek.