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Stiles gives himself this, this one last time. Allows himself to sit on Derek's porch steps and watch as the pack trains, watches Scott and Jackson and Lydia, Isaac and Erica, as they wrestle and dodge and nip and basically act like a bunch of puppies on steroids. Mostly though, he watches Derek circling on the periphery, shouting direction and correction, shirtless and muscular in the sunlight like some ridiculous modern version of a Norse God. Stiles allows himself this because he thinks it's only fair he gets to be selfish just once, just once before he pulls himself together and starts making smarter decisions.


Because even Stiles recognizes his obsession with Derek has reached unhealthy levels, far greater than his ten year addiction to Lydia. He's pretty sure Derek knows about it – if werewolves can tell when humans are lying, it seems logical he can hear the way Stiles' heart picks up speed and his pupils blow whenever he's within five feet of him – and he can only be grateful Derek simply ignores it, treats Stiles the same as he always has, with a casual but somehow dismissive friendship, crawling through his window when he needs information and grudgingly allowing him to sit in on pack things even though he's not actually one of them.


And it's been two long years of this, of pulling werewolf asses out of the fire, getting knocked out by shape shifters and Hunters and saving Beacon Hills more times than the town will ever know; sitting in this weird in between, where he can't go back and he can't go forward, and one morning he wakes up with the sure knowledge it has to stop. Because Stiles? Stiles is not that boy. Can't be that boy. He can't be Scott, always pining over Allison, building his world so that its only supports are held in the palms of another person. Stiles' brain is already too scattered for this to happen, too distracted by a billion competing thoughts and loyalties to become chained to a hope for a thing that's never going to happen.


That's not being emo or maudlin, he firmly tells his reflection in the mirror that morning, it's being realistic. Derek's not gay for God's sake, or even bi like Stiles. If that mess with Kate wasn't proof enough, his brief stint with Erica served as final confirmation. And Stiles is worn out with wasting his energy on impossible fantasies of impossible people. The Lydias and Dereks of the world will never be for him, and he's ready to find someone that actually sees him. Maybe he's not perfect, and maybe he's not flawless, but he has a lot to offer someone, and he's tired of holding it all locked up inside.


Stiles wants to live a life that's actually his.


Training winds down, and Stiles takes the soda Jackson tosses him, sits in a loose circle with the rest of the pack as they talk about their week and their plans for the upcoming summer. He's quiet, which is unusual, but Derek just looks at him oddly, once, before turning back to discussing the logistics of Jackson going out of state to college. It's good, it's normal, and Stiles lets it all wash over him like easy spring rain, adds it to the collection of memories he's stored up since eleventh grade.


When it's over, he drives home, eats supper with his dad, and climbs the stairs to his room. He strips, pulls on pajama pants, and walks over to the window. Then he does something he hasn't done in over two years. He slides it closed and swings the lock shut.


It's a small step, but the most important one, and he knows with certainty he won't be opening it again.