Stiles can practically hear his father’s voice in his head as he rounds the last corner and heads down his street, muttering something about people being crazy for already starting their Christmas decorations practically as soon as Halloween was over. While he agrees that it is pretty early – it’s only just started to get cold and he realizes now he should’ve picked a thicker hoodie – he’d be lying if he said he doesn’t enjoy the decorations. Some of his neighbors are really passionate for it too; Christmas lights lining every edge of the porch and branch of a tree. His dad would never put so much money or work into something that would only stay relevant for one out of four seasons.
The sheriff’s car is parked in the driveway next to the Jeep when he reaches the house, breath catching in his throat. He fades his run to a slow jog before coming to a full stop at the door, digging in his pocket for his phone to stop the running timer. He’s thankful to not have to dig for his keys and bursts inside. For it being the sheriff’s house, the front door isn’t locked as often as it should be.
He heads straight for the kitchen, lungs burning and breath coming out in short pants. Normally he’d choose several other things over water to quench his thirst, but he can’t be bothered to take the two tiny remaining steps to the fridge. He grabs one of the big beer glasses from the dish rack and puts it under the cold water flow, causing a mess at the sink because his movements are sloppy and erratic.
Apparently he must’ve made a lot of noise because in the next second, his dad appears in the doorway. He’s got his reading glasses on which indicates his son just interrupted his sacred crossword puzzles. Apparently a ten hour long shift at the station hadn’t satisfied his need to solve problems.
"Where’ve you been?" The sheriff asks, sounding anything but off duty.
"I went for a run," Stiles informs in a breath, downing the whole glass in a few rapid heartbeats.
"Again?" His dad asks, eyebrows arching up.
"Lacrosse won’t start up again until January," Stiles explains. whipping his sleeve across his mouth. "Coach pretty much forces us to do cross country in the off season so we won’t lose our physique. Not that I can get fat… unlike some people," he adds, and his dad meets his significant look with a glare. "But you know. I wanna get in shape."
And by that he means, 'gain some muscle and finally give my teammates some competition'. It isn’t exactly fair with four of them being freaking werewolves. Danny is the only one playing according to human rules, but it’s still not fair. Stiles pretty much considers those abs to be just as supernatural as emigrating sideburns.
Stiles shrugs, avoids his father’s eyes, and says, “Besides, it helps me sleep.”
At that, his dad’s face softens. Maybe it’s unfair of him to use it for an excuse because Stiles knows his father suffers from his sleepless nights just as much as he himself does, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It came as a big relief to him once he discovered that draining himself of his access amount of energy before going to bed made it a lot easier for him to fall asleep. Sure, the nightmares still come and sometimes he’ll wake up gasping for air, but it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.
When it first started happening a couple of weeks ago, his instincts had been to pad across the hall in the middle of the night and wake his dad to seek comfort just like he’d done when he got bad dreams as a kid. He never did though; he always forced himself to calm down, even out his breathing and try to go back to sleep. Part of him still feels the urge to share the burden, but the look his dad gives him in the morning upon seeing his bloodshot eyes has always been enough for him not to. They may not have a brick wall of lies between them anymore, but Stiles doesn’t want to make him worry more than he already does.
"At least put on a jacket," his dad sighs in resignation. "It’s getting cold, son."
"I get warm when I run," Stiles points out. "Like really warm, which is why I’d like to take a shower now because I’m covered in sweat.”
"Yeah, my nose works just fine," the sheriff informs, pulling a face and shooing him out of the kitchen. "Get your stinky ass in the shower. I can’t imagine what the boys’ locker room must smell like to Scott after gym class."
"I actually asked him about that," Stiles counters, and the sigh his dad lets out can easily be translated to'of course you did'. “He said it smells more of teenage hormones than sweat. Of course, that was when Jackson’s pretty face was still around. I should probably ask for an update.”
"You do that," his dad agrees, now pushing his palms firmly against Stiles’ back to shove him out of the room and toward the stairs. "After you’ve cleaned up and had some dinner."
"Oh, you mean that ready-meal chicken you bought on the way home?" Stiles asks, gesturing back toward the kitchen he was forced out of. "I dare you to say you cooked it!"
"Not the point," the sheriff decides.
"You should take cooking lessons," Stiles points out. He walks up the stairs all on his own. "In fact – I could teach you myself for a small fee."
His dad just shakes his head and waves his hand at him, retreating to the living room where he’d been before Stiles came and disturbed his peace. Stiles smirks to himself before dragging himself up the rest of the stairs.
It’s dark in his room and he nearly walks into a wall when he starts pulling the hoodie over his head. He gets rid of the damp shirt underneath, almost getting stuck with his arms, before hanging them both over the back of his chair. He takes the phone out of his pocket and tosses it on the bed, just about to step out of his sweatpants when he realizes he forgot to close his window earlier, the chilly night air curling over his exposed skin and making him shudder. He pads over to shut it and turn the heater up.
His phone buzzes from where it’s lying on the bed behind him, the screen suddenly the only light source in the dim darkness. Stiles flops down to sit on the edge of the bed and reaches for it, squinting his eyes toward the bright light to be able to read the new text message.
A wide smile immediately creeps onto his lips, because Derek knows he just came back from a run.
Derek, whom none of them have seen for two months now, but who has never left Stiles’ thoughts. Even when things in Beacon Hills, for the most part, seem to have gone back to the way they were before the big werewolf bomb was dropped, before the Hales returned and Laura ended up dead in the woods, Derek still lingers in his mind on a daily basis.
Sometimes he even walks into his room and expects to find the werewolf hiding behind his door, scaring the living crap out of him like he used to do. Sometimes he still tries to spot him in a crowd, feeling his heart skip a beat at every man in a leather jacket. Sometimes when the pack is all together he looks over to the corner where Derek should be, only to find it empty.
He’s still not sure why he sent that first text many weeks ago, when he first learned that Derek had left town. He didn’t even believe it at first; had to run up to the loft just to see for himself. He remembers staring at the empty place for much longer than needed to confirm that there were no werewolves playing hide and seek in the shadows. He’d even sent his first text right then and there; frustratingly pulling out his phone to let Derek know that he was an asshole for not saying goodbye.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been two months. Turns out time goes incredibly slow when there’s no maniac running around town trying to kill you.
Derek hadn’t texted him back for a long time and Stiles had quickly lost any hope of him to do it at all. For all he knew, Derek’s phone might as well still have been lying around the loft somewhere, abandoned, just like all the other things Derek left behind.
Stiles crawls up to lie on his back on the bed, holding the phone above him and goes back to the runner app to check before typing a reply.
He always takes the same route, checking his time and trying to beat it each run. Derek knows this, too. What he doesn’t know is which route; doesn’t know where Stiles’ turning point is. He doesn’t know it’s the old apartment building in the outskirts of town and he definitely doesn’t know Stiles always stop for a second to throw a glance up at the big glass windows before turning back home. He doesn’t know that every time Stiles does it, he hopes to spot a shadow there. A shape to prove that the loft isn’t empty anymore and that whoever it belonged to is back.
It doesn’t take long until the phone buzzes against Stiles’ chest where he put it down and he hauls it back up in front of his face to read.
You’re getting good.
There’s no one around to witness him smiling stupidly at his phone in the dark, so it never happened.
Once again his thumbs hover over the display, once again wanting to write what he’s meant to do for months but never did. Ever since Derek sent him that first text after two weeks of dead silence, that had Stiles staring at the name on his screen for almost a minute before actually reading the message. Sometimes he types it out. Two words, seven letters. Sometimes he catches himself halfway. He never hits send and tonight is no different. He comes to the second ‘S’ before quickly hitting the home button, throwing the phone on the foot of the bed and burying his face in his hands.
Stiles never expected he would miss Derek, but he does.