It started out as an accident,
Derek had come with his sister and cousins to the dance studio and got bored watching them. He had slipped away from his family and his mother found him quietly copying the older class of dancers.
His mother enrolled him with his sister and even as Laura drifted away (she always hated it, she didn’t want anyone telling her what to do) Derek continued.
Unlike Laura who stomped and crashed her way through the lessons with aplomb and a scowl, Derek flew.
He had natural grace from his family’s bloodline. To him, dancing was like running, like a full moon. It felt free.
His mother was happy he got into a sport where his short temper wouldn’t give him away or in trouble and it became something special between them. Something he didn’t have to share with his whole family.
His family teased him from time to time but came to all his recitals and clapped the loudest.
He could still remember one recital, when his partner has twisted her ankle, he had finished their scene through improvising a whole new routine.
Laura had told him later, wistful and far away, that he had looked beautiful.
It was like a dream, she said, you were in a whole other place.
He had ducked his head to scowl away the flush he felt on his face and she had laughed loud and bright, like before New York. Before the little shoebox apartment and the bustling busy loneliness.
He had stopped when they moved, retreating into himself.
He only trusted Laura now.
Sometimes if he let himself, he’d sit on a bench in the park across from a dance studio and he’d watch dancers flit in and out with their parents while his chest clenched and he thought of his mother smiling at him proudly from the audience, he could smell the salt of her tears and the waxy powdery scent of her favourite lipstick from the stage.
Laura pushed him into dancing again, telling him he couldn’t stop his whole life because of the fire, that mom and dad would want him to continue what he loved.
He scowled and ignored her pointed comments for weeks, but found himself outside of that dance studio more and more.
“I know you want to.” she said softly over chinese one night, “Please just go back. I want you to be happy.”
“I don’t think I can be happy anymore.” he told her, “But I’ll go.”
She smiled at him and reached over the pork buns.
“One day.” Laura said, cupping his cheek in her hand, “It’s okay to smile, you know?”
He swallowed and looked down, the food turning to lead in his stomach. Laura just smiled sadly at him and they ate together in silence.
Derek enrolled himself at the studio and quickly built himself back up. He ignored the shrill giggles of some of the girls in his class and whispers of some of the boys and threw himself into learning every dance they would teach him.
eventually he did notice the people in his classes, he noticed the beautiful June, who had wild curly hair and dark smooth skin. She was his partner once in the studios production of Swan Lake. He helped her retrieve her costume when some jealous girls had hidden it. He almost kissed her in the janitors closet where they found it but instead walked away from her to go smoke a stolen cigarette in self loathing outside.
June left eventually, taking a job in a real company and gave him a sad smile that bright summer day and she was gone.
Then he noticed ezra, tall and thin, with long eyelashes and a sloping nose. He watched him from afar, taking in the graceful way he moved and locked his feelings away. ezra asked him once if he wanted to get dinner with him, looking at Derek hopefully through his long eyelashes. He shook his head.
“I can’t.” he told him and watched him walk away, looking a bit wilted. They didn’t talk much after that.
Derek told himself it was for the best. Relationships only ended poorly with him.
Maybe he was meant to be alone and unhappy, he thought, standing at Laura’s grave numbly.
He ended up back in Beacon Hills.
Laura was dead and he had no one to dance for anymore.
He had a pack who didn’t want him, a mouthy teenage boy who could never leave well enough alone, and a shell of a home.
Derek itched in his skin, unable to roam in the woods with the Argents keeping tabs on him and wanting any excuse to pull the trigger.
He had been bothered by Scott and Jackson all day, trying to keep them in line and keeping Stiles out of the way.
Stiles might have some sort of death wish, Derek mused. It was the only explanation as Stiles worms his way into Derek’s space and takes no care with his words or his body.
The house is finally quiet.
(it was never quiet when he grew up, the quiet still feels wrong, but this is his life now. Quiet and alone)
Derek stood in the large empty living room, holding an old mp3 player tightly. One of the boys or Allison left it there and he knew they’d come back for it.
He idly flicked through it and found a song he used to dance too. Derek looked out the window, like someone could see him thinking about it.
Pressing play, he turned it up as high as it would go and gently placed it on the charred mantle. He toed off his sneakers and pulled up the legs of his sweatpants, straightening up and extending his leg with the first swell of the song.
It had been so long since he last danced but it was as natural to him as running under the full moon.
Sometimes Derek entertained the notion that if he spinned fast enough, he could go back and do everything all over again.
He punctuated every spin with the simmering anger underneath his skin that he couldn’t let go.
Derek spun as quickly as he could, fast as a whirling dervish and angry as he’s always been.
The floor squeaked and groaned underneath his bare feet and he leapt like he was back in that production his partner had twisted her ankle and his mother was watching him improvise something that would last the remaining five minutes.
The song ended and Derek slowed himself down, reaching to turn off the mp3 player as a tinny pop song shuffled on.
He closed his hand around it and found himself hoping no one would ask for it back.
No one asked for it.
Sometimes Stiles would look at it in Derek’s car and his cupid bow lips would quirk upward, like he had a secret.
Derek’s noticed him.
He smiles sometimes now, like Laura wanted him too.
He dances again too, for himself and when no one is around. He thinks Stiles knows, he leaves Derek with mix cd’s of instrumental music that he doesn’t recognize but he dances to it anyway.
It doesn’t bother him as much as it should and sometimes he wonders about June and ezra for a moment before reaching out to grab Stiles arm or shoulder.
He doesn’t want to stop himself anymore