ps, i love you.
a derek/stiles au.
“I should’ve gotten tested. I should’ve. I don’t know why I didn’t.”
It’s the first time Derek has heard Stiles speak in three days. His head snaps up from his book and he looks across the sterilized bedroom to the frail, twitching boy on the sheets. Thirty years old and Derek still calls him a boy, he ponders, a small grin playing at his lips as he puts his book on the floor and crosses the room.
“I don’t want to die like she did,” Stiles says, tossing onto his side, away from Derek, and then flipping again, towards him. His hands and back are tense, he’s arching against the covers. Derek hovers above him. He nods and bends down, gripping Stiles by the shoulders and pushing him back onto the mattress.
“Why not?” Derek asks, falling down onto the bed next to Stiles, stretching out alongside his thin body.
“Why not what?” Stiles asks, eyes wide and unfocused.
Derek sighs and shakes his head, leaning forward to press his nose into Stiles’s neck. He smells like medicine and sickness, pneumonia setting in and stinging Derek’s nose with each breath. When Stiles’s arms start to jolt, Derek reaches over his body and holds them down as gently as he can, humming with each twitch until they subside. “I could stop it,” Derek says against soft skin.
“No. Stop asking.”
“It’s an option. You could take it.” Stiles pulls his head away from Derek and sneers, but it turns into a grimace and Derek feels his teeth clench together. “I know. I’ll stop.”
“No offense, but I don’t want to be like you,” Stiles says when he can finally get control of his expression again, and a small, mocking smile takes the place of his scowl. Derek feels a sharp tug in his stomach. I could fix you, I could save you, why won’t you let me? flicks through the front of his mind, but he lets them slide and watches as Stiles loses track of his thoughts.
He’s not even sure if changing Stiles, if giving him the bite, would cure him. It would have ten years ago, before the twitching turned into spasms and the attention deficit turned into complete memory loss. Before the disease took its toll. But if it didn’t cure him, it would kill him, maybe even peacefully. Throw him into coma and kill him in his sleep.
It would be better than this.
But Stiles doesn’t want it. He has fought it with each suggestion. When they were younger, both attempting to stabilize a rocky and pathetic excuse for a relationship, Derek offered it for the first time. Stiles’s heart jumped and sped up in his chest, but he’d said no. A lie.
He had wanted it. Derek thinks he still might, deep down.
The pack is there, the day the disease finally takes Stiles away.
Derek was in the room when it happened, held his hand as the monitor flatlined. When they went to resuscitate him, Derek refused to let go, told them to call a time of death. He held on until they said they needed to take his body away.
The waiting room is full of his pack, every member clamoring to stand. A few reach out, Lydia, Allison, but he turns away. He doesn’t want them to see him like this. They recoil and hold each other. Jackson and Scott stare at the floor. Stiles and Jackson’s friend Danny is there, too. He sits in his chair, tension pulsing off of him in waves.
“Where’s his father?” Derek asks, rough from two days of no sleep, coffee, and silence.
Scott is the one who speaks, voice unsure of itself, wobbling. “He couldn’t make it. He’s... Still in Beacon Hills.” Derek nods, turns away and starts for the doors.
In a few steps, he pauses. “I’m going home.”
“We’ll follow you,” Lydia says, quickly, pity rolling off her tongue louder than her words. Derek nods again.
They run as a pack for the first time in years. In the rural hills of New York, they run with no worries of anyone finding them. Scott, Jackson, and Lydia are behind him, trailing. Derek moves faster, muscles cramping, sides spasming, chest heaving as he pushes himself. The moon is visible across the treeline in another two miles. He’s been there before. The rest fall back. Derek can hear them scuffling behind him and he pushes himself ten times harder.
He spooks like an unbroken horse when he runs into a mountain lion. He pulls back, his lips lifting and his chest shaking with growls. The cat rears up and slaps him across the face, an animalistic snarl ripping from its throat. They fight, brawling like he used to with bucks in rutting season as he ripped them apart. The mountain lion grabs onto his shoulder, he twists and snaps its neck between his teeth, throwing it across the forest. Its dead body crumples against a tree.
Derek limps a few steps, eyes darting across the forest. He feels himself shifting in and out, he can’t keep himself straight. He’s in pain, his bones click and stretch, shorten, reshape and his muscles ache under his skin. He falls down, utterly human, and screams at the trees, clenching his eyes shut.
Without him, without his comfort, his body, his scent, Derek can’t control it. He can’t stop. His jaw aches as it grows and pops in and out of its socket over and over.
It isn’t until his entire pack is pressing up against his side, that he can feel himself gaining control again.
“It’ll be okay, Derek,” he hears Scott say, hands on Derek’s face, trying to keep him conscious. “It’s not that bad. Hey! Hey!”
“Stay with them.”
“Stiles?” Derek’s eyes flash open.
“You’re being dramatic; it’s a flesh wound.” Stiles smiles at him over Scott’s shoulder, reaching down and rubbing his hand over Derek’s collar bone.
“Stiles? No, Derek, it’s Scott. Hey, are you okay?”
Derek’s eyes snap to Scott. The feather-light pressure on his collar bone is gone. He avoids looking for the source, lifts a hand up to hold onto his shoulder wound. “How bad is it?” he asks his pack, eyes slipping shut.
“It’s not that bad. Hey!” There’s a slap to his cheek and Derek snarls, eyes flying open again. This time it is Jackson speaking, hovering over him.
“Get me home, Jackson.”
And he does, without another word. The rest of the pack lingers, touching his arm to offer sympathies. Derek heals by the time they break the forest line and can walk without his arm over Jackson’s shoulder before he sets foot on the front yard of his apartment complex. But he doesn’t pull his arm away. Instead, he leans heavily on his pack-mate.
He misses the comfort, the warmth of a body pressed against his side, one that is alive and healthy.
They all fall in a heap on the floor of Derek’s living room, curled around each other for comfort as they sleep.
In the morning, each one says their goodbye and leaves for Beacon Hills again.
“I’ll see you at the funeral, right?” Jackson asks, lingering behind everyone else.
“I won’t be there for long. Just for the funeral. I might see how the old house is doing.”
Jackson nods and gives Derek a small smile before he turns and leaves.
Three days later, Derek sits at a funeral and feels more lost than he ever has before.
“I had Laura.”
“You have friends back in New York,” Stiles laughs.
“You should’ve let me-”
“No. Not even going to talk about it.” Stiles’s fingers still on his hair. Derek turns to look at him, and all the feeling is gone. There is no one there. His alarm goes off. He awakens.
“You should’ve let me save you,” Derek says into the empty pillow of his old home, burying his face and inhaling nothing but dust and the smell of sweat.
Derek owns a garage in the outskirts of the city. He has a staff of people that Stiles hired, most of them teenages or early twenty year olds with no experience that he’s trained in. He has men and women in his shop. Stiles insisted on equality and Derek never complained. He did none of the hiring, anyway.
Going back to work was easier than he thought it would be. Derek spends his day replacing radiators, fixing bumpers, and taking inventory. He feels utterly alone.
“Derek?” It’s Lydia. Her voice is a little groggy, but it’s her. “I thought you would be asleep.”
“I was,” he responds, laying his cheek against his pillow instead, blinking into the dark room to wake himself up. “It’s four. In the morning. What do you want?”
“Oh. I forgot about the time... It’s only one here. I thought-”
“What do you want?” he says again, cutting the woman off. He wants to go back to sleep where he dreams of car chases and wolfsbane bullets.
“I- I just wanted to talk.”
“I dunno. I thought, maybe, you could come down to Beacon Hills for a while. We all miss you. I think Stiles would have wa-”
“Goodnight, Lydia,” Derek says, hanging up and throwing his phone across the room. Beacon Hills. California again. Sunny, happy, California.
He and Stiles were the only two that moved away. Scott and Allison stayed close, in a town nearby, but Jackson and Lydia stayed, went to college, and moved into their own separate apartments.
Derek never sold his house, either. He couldn’t. It was re-built, but an empty shell. Now it held nothing but the memories of his family and late night escapades. Though, his apartment here in New York did little to bury the pain. He would consider going down to Beacon Hills again.
There was a part of him that said he needed his pack.
His pack stands there, nervous, shifting around. His old pack, that is. Derek is not sure he feels like an alpha to them anymore. They are all grown, no longer pups bustling about a California town, but adults with fancy jobs and fancier cars. There is a sense of disgust he feels about himself. He feels much too old, forty to their thirty, but they all greet him as they did when they were younger.
Lydia, Scott, Jackson, his wolves. Allison, the only human left, excluding Danny, who could not make it. They are a small pack. A dysfunctional pack with dominance issues and problems with trust. A pack, though. Connected.
“Why?” Derek asks, stepping back to let them into his apartment. They file in, Lydia last.
“You haven’t answered our calls,” she says with a bit of sass, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “Some of us thought you were dead.” Derek closes the door behind her, turning away and walking into the living room. It hits him like a train. He feels a rock in his stomach and he falls down onto the couch. Scott claps him on the shoulder from behind.
“I- didn’t mean what-” Lydia stutters and stands in the doorway of the living room. She has always been blunt with Derek.
“Sit down,” he says instead of forgiving. “Why are you here?”
“It’s your birthday,” Jackson says, condescending and patronizing as he has always been. Derek stares, the wheels start turning in his head. His what?
“I’m not stupid,” he answers. “Why are you here?” he tries again, pointing the conversation in a different direction.
“To celebrate. Get out out of your depressing apartment,” Scott says, his hands gripping Derek’s shoulders from behind. “Maybe go out to a bar?” Scott grins, and it’s a bit infectious because Derek feels his cheeks lifting. “When was the last time you got really, really drunk?”
Derek shrugs his shoulders. “A year.”
“Perfect,” Scott says excitedly, and even Jackson perks up.
“I don’t want to drink,” Derek says, instead. Both of their smiles fall and Derek feels a bit bad. They manage to shrug it off and crowd around him. His entire pack, holding bags that he had failed to notice earlier. Allison is holding a box in her hands, and he can smell the cake inside. It makes him feel a bit nauseous.
It barely hinders them, or it does, but a lot less than he thought it would. “Well... Happy birthday, anyway,” Allison perks up, eyes squinting when her cheeks lift in a large smile. “You’re what, forty two?”
“Three,” Derek says, clearing his throat and looking down at a bag Lydia throws into his lap. He puts it next to him on the couch, only to notice Jackson’s arm draped behind his shoulders. He looks to Jackson’s arm, to Jackson’s carefree face, and back to his arm before he grabs it and forces it into Jackson’s lap. “Keep that to yourself.”
“Well,” Allison interjects, “I brought cake!” She puts it on the coffee table between a few wrapped packages. Everyone seems to inflate, smile, start goofing off like teenagers again. Cake, presents, calling Derek an Old Man, they revert back to being a pack.
And, for a few hours, Derek doesn’t feel alone.
“Maybe,” he answers. It’s the best he can do. Maybe, if he can tear himself away from his apartment. Maybe, if he can get on a plane. Maybe.
Lydia smiles and reaches up, kisses him on the cheek and turns out the door with the rest of them. He watches them go, four members of a small pack from a small town in California, leaving to catch their flight back home.
His couch is inviting, warm from the hours of sitting around, and soft from being well-used. Derek’s eyes slip shut for a second, open again only to stare at the ceiling.
There is something in the corner of his eye, white. He turns his head and pushes his cheek into his pillow. An envelope. A white, blank envelope. One of the birthday cards he forgot to open.
He reaches over, curiosity gripping him, and pulls it above his head. He tears it open, and a card is not inside.
It’s our fifth anniversary, or whatever. I’m twenty three. I sent in a test a couple weeks ago. I got the results back, but I’ve been too nervous to read them. I did today. You were at the store. I tried to balance the checkbook and my hand shook so bad I just squiggling all over it and I thought I better just read it. I’m sorry about that, by the way.
The test was for Huntington’s disease. I’m sick, Derek. I’m really sick, and I don’t know how long it’s gonna last before I’m gone. I don’t know why I’m writing this, either, but I know my mom died from this thing. I was really little, and my dad always told me he wished he could talk to her one more time.
I don’t have a whole lotta time to write. My arm’s already getting pretty shaky, and you’re gonna come back any second, but I just wanted to say that, in case we’re still together by some miracle of God when I die, thanks. For stickin by me and everything.
This is really awkward. I don’t want to die, but I can’t let you turn me. I’m sorry. I feel like... My mom, she died from this, you know? She didn’t get an offer like this. She died, and I don’t wanna cheat death when she couldn’t. I wish I could let you, Derek.
ps, I know we don’t say it too often, but I love you.