Stiles is well versed in worst-case scenarios. He’s handled many of them, more then most kids his age and that was before his best friend started turning into a supernatural monster when he got too excited.
`He remembers how he was after his mom died. Inconsolable. Useless. He wasn’t there for his dad, who probably needed him more than anyone ever had before. And part of that, he knows, was shock.
So now he prepares himself for the worst. He needs to be able to handle whatever happens to him. He needs to be there to help his Dad, or to help Scott or just to be able to hold himself together.
He came close to falling apart after his mother died and he can’t afford for that to happen again.
The key, he reasons, is not to let himself get caught unaware. Expect anything. Be prepared for anything. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be scared. Just handle it. Be calm. Be collected.
Calm and collected counterbalance his usual state of hyper activity and energy, but he thinks that just makes it more important.
So every morning, he thinks over the worse case scenarios before he gets out of bed.
It started simple, when he finally managed to pull himself together after his mother died. “My mom is dead.” he would say to himself before he would get out of bed.
And it helped. It helped when he got down to the kitchen and she wasn’t there. It helped when his Dad drove him to school instead of his mom. It helped when he had to get school lunch because his Dad didn’t have time to make him a peanut-butter jelly sandwich.
One day he thinks, “My Dad could die today.” He hadn’t planned on it being a thing. It was just a passing, terrible thought. One of his worst fears, that his Dad will go up against a psycho with a gun, or get hit by a car when he’s writing a ticket, or even that his heart will finally give out.
But he adds it to his routine. “My Mom is dead. My Dad could die today.” It’s not pleasant, it’s not nice. But it helps. He thinks maybe he could hold it together, even a little, when Deputy Andy does come to his door, hat in hand, to tell him that his Dad won’t be coming home today. Stiles doesn’t think he’ll handle it well, not all the preparing in the world could make it easy. But maybe this way he won’t embarrass his Dad.
Life keeps happening. Things change and in more ways then Stiles could have predicted. And no morning routine in the world could have prepared him for “My best friend just became a werewolf,” but he likes to think that his morning “Expect the unexpected,” might have something to do his graceful handling of the situation.
That adds many new things to the list. “Scott might wolf out and try to kill me today,” he says to himself.
“Scott might be killed by an overly enthusiastic hunter today,” he says.
“Derek Hale could kill everyone,” he says one morning, but he doesn’t fully believe that one, and it doesn’t stay in the rotation for over a week.
“The Alpha could kill everyone,” replaces it, but he’s starting to like Derek, so he thinks of it as an improvement.
Stiles doesn’t think of how much he’s started to like Derek until he finds himself saying “Derek could be killed today,” and he has to stop and think about what he just said because he hadn’t thought that he’d cared about Derek enough for that to matter.
Embarrassingly enough, Stiles never prepares himself for good news. He’s noticed that it’s a lot less likely to be good news than bad, so what’s the point. Unfortunately, this means that when Coach Finstock calls “Bolinski” to first string, Stiles kind of flips his shit. It’s embarrassing, but he doesn’t have too many regrets.
When they finally kill that alpha, Stiles’ list gets shorter, but not by much. He gets to knock “The Alpha could kill everyone,” and “Scott might be killed by an overly enthusiastic hunter today,” and even “Allison might found out Scott is a werewolf,” off of his list.
But he has to replace it with “Scott might get killed by an over-protective father,” and “Lydia might never wake up” and, most startling of all “Derek might leave town now.”
Then he has to sit down and have a serious talk with himself and look at his priorities in life and how Derek Hale has managed to get in the middle of them.
Lydia takes one look at the burned out, crumbling ruin of the Hale and crinkles her nose. “You’re planning on rebuilding, right?”
Stiles laughs extra loud to cover up the incredibly awkward silence that follows, because he’s pretty sure it’s rude to tell someone that the sight of their families mass murder needs a make-over.
Derek, however, just grumbles and makes a few calls and three weeks later they have a roof over their head and their pack is on its way to being sort of legitimate.
Stiles adds “The pack might figure out they don’t need you,” to his list of worst case scenarios and breathes deeply until he can get out of bed.
For one day Stiles says “Dad might find out I like guys,” to himself. Then he tells himself to suck that fear up and breaks the news to his Dad over dinner.
His Dad snorts into his dinner. “Stiles. I knew that ages ago.”
Stiles drops his fork into his spaghetti and stares at him. “You what?”
“You kept asking me if I thought gay guys would find you attractive and wondering why Danny wasn’t paying any attention to you. It wasn’t hard to work out.”
“Oh. So, you don’t care?”
“I care a lot more about the fact that you had detention for the third time this week.” His Dad replies calmly and Stiles groans. He thinks he’d rather talk about his sexuality some more.
The first morning that he says “Derek might figure out I like him,” Stiles walk up to Tommy Andrews and asks if he wants to catch a movie. Tommy Andrews is in the drama club and one of the four kids who are out at Beacon Hills High School.
Tommy gives him an exaggerated once over and agrees. Stiles pretends that Tommy doesn’t have dark hair and eyes and anyway that has nothing to do with why he asked him out, thank you very much.
They go for dinner and Stiles pays, and then for a movie, where Tommy pays.
When Stiles drops him off at his house, (partly because Stiles had a car, partly because Tommy refused to pick up his date from the Sheriff’s house) they kiss goodnight and it’s nice.
When Stiles walks into what he playfully calls the “Wolf’s Den” and which everyone else just calls “Derek’s house,” all eyes turn to look at him like intimidating searchlights.
“Got a hot date, Stalinski?” Jackson calls from his place on the couch. He’s taking over half of it, legs spread out to take the maximum amount of room, the bastard.
“Jealous?” Stiles grins, shoving Jackson’s legs out of the way so he can have enough room to sit down.
“What, seriously? You actually have a date?” Jackson asks, raising his head off the arm to give him a frankly insulting look of incredulity.
“It happens sometimes.” Stiles says indignantly.
“Who is it?” Allison asks, because at least she isn’t a jerk.
“Tommy Andrews.” Stiles says proudly, because Tommy is pretty hot.
Scott wrinkles his nose. “Wasn’t he in Oklahoma?” he asks, like that in some way makes Tommy unworthy of dating.
“Well, yes,” Stiles replies, and if you ask him, he thinks Tommy pulled off the cowboy look rather well.
Lydia looks like she’s about to chip in her own two cents when she freezes, mouth open in a perfect ‘o’ and eyes wide, staring at the doorway. Stiles turns and sees Derek, looking grumpier than usual and glowering at Stiles like he just brought wolfsbane into the house.
“You have a boyfriend?” he growls.
“Yeah. Why is everyone so surprised by that? I’m attractive! I’m a catch!” he sounds too defensive, Stiles knows that, but Derek’s incredulity in particular smarts. He looks around at the others, but all of them except Allison are weirdly tense and he wonders if Derek is giving off some sort of Alpha Waves.
“Congratulations,” Derek snarls, and Stiles notices his fingers have curled into claws, tips lethally sharp.
“Woah, what is up with you, dude?” He asks. “Is there some sort of dating thing I don’t know about? Is this a problem?”
“No.” Derek visibly takes a deep breath, claws melting back into fingers. “No, there’s no problem.” The words sound forced from him but it isn’t Stiles’ business to worry about that.
“Ok. Right.” He settles back into the couch grumpily, good mood gone. Stupid Derek.
He dates Tommy for a month and a half. Tommy’ name never comes up during his morning ritual.
Stiles will acknowledge that he isn’t always the best judge of timing. Character, usually, timing, no. Especially when it comes to knowing what he should and shouldn’t say.
What he does know is that he’s seriously sick of putting up with Derek’s shit and it’s time for Derek to know that.
“I told you to stay behind!” Derek is yelling and this time Stiles is ready to yell right back.
“And I told you, no way in hell is that going to happen!”
“You could have gotten hurt!”
“We could all have gotten hurt!” That, at least, is one of the pillars of his daily routine, “They might all go out without me and never come back.”
“You’re just a human!” Derek is right up in his face now.
“And I’m part of this pack anyway! I’m not letting you go into a fight without me!”
And Stiles isn’t really surprised when Derek picks him up by the front of his shirt and slams him against the door. It’s practically routine by now. But then Derek slams his mouth into Stiles’ and his whole world tilts on its axis.
“You. Are. So. Infuriating!” Derek growls, punctuating every word with a harsh, close-mouthed kiss.
And, well, Stiles has always been better at processing bad information then good information, so it takes him longer than he should to get his arms up, fisting both of them into Derek’s hair and opening his mouth with a groan.
Derek makes a feral sound and presses even closer, his whole body pushing Stiles harder into the wall, supporting his weight.
Stiles loses track of where one kiss ends and the next kiss begins. Derek is moving like he wants to devour him and it’s the sexiest thing that Stiles has ever felt.
Kissing Tommy had been nice. This is not nice. This is wild and hot and consuming and Stiles feels like he can barely keep up.
Distantly, he can hear little whimpers underneath a steady possessive growl and he has enough presence of mind to think that’d it would be really embarrassing if that was him before Derek is pressing even closer, lining their hips up in a move that make white hot sparks jump behind his eyelids.
Then Derek is suddenly not there and Stiles is dropping the last inch to the floor. His knees buckle just a bit and he has to steady himself against the wall. The entire front of his body feel cold and deprived, aching for a solid pressure against it.
Derek is staring at him from across the room, chest heaving as he pants. His lips are flushed red and his eyes are blown wide. Stiles has to stifle another noise just looking at him because Derek is usually sexy but he looks like sex on legs at the moment.
He thinks Derek hears him anyway, because his eyes go impossibly darker and he takes a half step forward before he stops himself.
“Why did you go?” Stiles asks, his voice sounding plaintive to own ears.
“It’s a bad idea.” Derek says, and his voice almost makes Stiles’ knees buckle again because it’s low and rough.
Any other time, the words might have stopped Stiles, pulling at his insecurities that tell him that he’s just a useless human in a pack of superpowered werewolf. But right now he’s horny and confused and Derek is on the other side of the room when he should be in front of Stiles.
“What? No it’s not. Come here!” And, miraculously, Derek does come a bit closer. Stiles takes the remaining couple steps to stand directly in front of him. Then, in an act of daring that will surprise him later, he winds reaches up to put his arms around Derek’s neck. He has to stretch a bit because Derek is taller than him, but it ends with the faces almost parallel to each other.
“This is a great idea.” He says. “I want this. I know you want this.” He rocks his hips against Derek’s to make a point and grins when Derek growls deep in his throat. “I’m not going to let you walk away from this.” He presses his lips to Derek’s before Derek can stop him.
This time he doesn’t just stand there like a damsel in a romance novel. He nips at Derek’s lower lips and then licks over it until Derek open his mouth. He licks his way into Derek’s mouth, slick and filthy so that Derek can’t possibly doubt him.
Derek’s hands drop to Stiles’ waist and pulls him closer, like Stiles isn’t already putting everything he has into this.
Then, to Stiles’ surprise, Derek pulls back just enough to place a gently kiss on Stiles’ lips. Derek uses Stiles’ surprise to take over the kiss, making it slow and sweet and just as seductive. Derek caresses his tongue into Stiles mouth like he wants all of him.
Stiles can feel chills going up and down his spine and he can feel all the tension leaving his body. He melts against Derek, melts into the kiss and Derek just takes it, takes his weight like it’s nothing.
The next morning Stiles wakes up and says “Derek might break up with me today.”
It’s only a matter of time after all.
“Oh, seriously?” Scott asks when Stiles walks into class the next day.
Stiles is confused until he slides into his chair and Scott hisses “Derek, really?”
Stiles preens a bit at that, proud and so joyful he can barely contain it. He’d had the radio blaring the whole way to school, singing aloud even to the songs he didn’t know.
“He can’t resist my natural charm.” he says, and Scott just shakes his head like he can’t believe this is his life. To be honest, neither can Stiles.
The next few moths are some of the best Stiles can remember. They’re not perfect, not by a long shot. Stiles doesn’t magically get first string and his Dad is still overworked and underappreciated, but being with Derek makes all the other crap easier to deal with.
Jackson and Scott yell at them to get a room, while Lydia and Allison giggle and coo over them like they’re newborn kittens. With little hats.
And yeah, sometimes Derek is a little withdrawn, taciturn and grumpy in turns, but Stiles is used to that. Mostly, when it’s clear Derek isn’t up for company Stiles just sits with a book until Derek was up for company. It was a good system. Stiles isn’t the sort of person who expects someone to change just because they started dating.
Besides, there’s no point in wasting the time that he has now. Sooner or later, Derek is going to realize he can do a lot better than the painfully human, hyperactive kid from a small town and Stiles will be on his own.
That’s one of the benefits to his system. He knows that it’ll happen someday, so why waste the present worrying about it. He’ll be ready when it happens.
Well, he thinks he’ll be ready.
“My mom is dead. My Dad might die today. Scott might wolf out and try to kill me. We are all in danger. Hunters could go after the pack. Supernatural beings might take us all out. Today the others may realize how little I can help and kick me out of the pack. They might all go out without me and never come back. Derek might break up with me today.”
Stiles takes a deep breath and gets out of bed. It’s a new day.
With such a long list of things that could go wrong, it’s only a matter of time before one of them actually happens.
So when Derek puts a hand on Stiles chest when he moves in for a kiss and holds him back, Stiles is already expecting the worst and bracing for it.
So when Derek says “I don’t want to do this any more,” Stiles is able to take a deep breath and reply like an adult.
“Okay.” he says. Calm. Rational. Stiles can’t feel the floor underneath him. He’d thought he was prepared. But he hadn’t thought it would hurt this much (that’s a lie, he’d known, known he was in too deep to ever get out unscathed, but he’d hoped that being prepared would help.)
But his preparations hold and he doesn’t break down, even though he wants to. He doesn't ask why. He already knows why. He’s just amazed it took Derek this long to figure it out.
“It was fun while it lasted, right?” Stiles says. He sounds normal. He thinks he sounds normal. It’s hard to tell. He feels dizzy. He feels sick. He needs to get out of here. He can’t though. Right? Act normal. Don’t fall apart. Don’t let anyone see you weak. “I’m actually gonna head home now though.”
He shouldn’t. He should stay. He can’t stay. He needs to pull himself together.
“Stiles.” Derek says, cautiously.
“Yeah?” Normal. Calm.
Derek hesitates. “Nothing. Nevermind.”
Stiles isn’t sure how he makes it home. He doesn’t remember he drive. He remember sitting on his bed and shaking until Scott climbed in through the window.
“You ok?” Scott asked tentatively.
Stiles manages to dredge up a smile from somewhere. “Yeah, of course. It was just sex. Well, except that we didn’t have sex. It wasn’t anything serious.” Not for him, he thinks, and hopes that’s enough that Scott won’t hear the lie or whatever it is he does.
Scott sighs. “You don’t have to be so strong all the time.” he says.
Stiles gives him a weak smile. “Yes, I do.”
Lydia shocks him by being the next one to confront him about it. “Do I need to kick his ass?” she asks as she drops her tray down next to his.
Stiles laughs. “No, thanks though.”
She peers into his face with something that looks a lot like concern. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Perfectly sure. Thanks.”
“The offer stands.” she says, then changes the subject to their upcoming history test.
Stiles doesn’t go into a fugue state after the breakup, because, supernatural cross-species romance or not, this isn’t Twilight. But if it takes him a bit of time to get back into his usual swing, that’s his problem.
Someone else can feel like they were ripped in half, then they can blame him.
Stiles doesn’t stop going to the pack meetings, because he is a man and besides people need to see how ok he is.
Besides, Derek looks like he’s doing fine. Which only proves Stiles’ point, that Stiles was more invested in this then Derek was.
Well. He knew that anyway.
The breaking point comes when Jackson corners him by his locker about a month after Derek broke up with him.
“What did you do to him?” Jackson demands, slamming Stiles’ locker door closed so fast that Stiles only barely manages to get his fingers out of the way.
“Did to who?”
“To Derek, what do you think? He hasn’t been the same since he dumped your sorry ass.”
“Oh, and that’s my fault now?” Stiles demands. How is he getting blamed for this? How does that even make any sense?
“Um, yeah!” Jackson says sarcastically. “Obviously you fucked something up.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, dude.” Stiles turns to walk away, because he’s not putting with Jackson’s shit today.
Jackson grabs him by the shoulder and slams him against the lockers, and wow, this is even less fun then when Derek does it. Good to know.
“I don’t understand why he was with you in the first place.” Jackson snaps, getting right up in Stiles’ face and seriously, breath mint much?
“Well, that makes two of us.” Stiles snaps, so much past breaking point right now. His routine is better against in-the-moment surprises, it doesn’t help him deal with the stupid, infuriating heart ache, with the part of him the just wants Derek back and doesn’t get how pointless that hope is. It pisses him off.
“Believe me, I don’t understand it anymore than you do.” Stiles continues, wrenching out of Jackson’s hold with, he suspects, only the element of surprise on his side. “After all, I’m just the stupid little human, aren’t I? Not good to anyone- not good enough for the pack and definitely not good enough for Derek!”
Jackson is just staring at him, presumably struck dumb the the torment of words that Stiles can’t stop, spilling out of him; louder and louder. “So trust me, if you’re confused, so am I! I don’t get why he even bothered in the first place. I’m just stupid spastic Stiles, right? Good enough for a few kisses but not good enough to date.”
People are staring at him. He takes a deep breath and lowers his voice. “Frankly I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. It was obviously just me who was this stupidly invested.” he kicks the lockers “so fucking invested! So go ask him when he’s in a pissy mood. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. So fuck off and leave me alone.”
Stiles strides off, leaving Jackson to stare after him. As the anger cools, he can already feel the embarrassment setting in. Great job Stilinski, way to totally lose it in public. So much for a system. Maybe he should have said “Today Jackson may confront me about my stupid person issues and fucking broken heart,” but to be fair it probably wouldn’t have helped.
Stiles should probably be more surprised when Derek climbs in through his bedroom window, but he can’t seem to muster up the energy.
“Hey, dude.” He says from his position on the bed, not bothering to lift his head. Derek will does what he wants regardless. He always does.
Stiles knows that Derek can probably hear his heart tripping into overtime, but that’s nothing new and there’s nothing he can do about it anyway.
“Don’t call me dude.” Derek says by rote, but there isn’t any ire in his voice. He just sounds tired. Instead of his usual stand up and growl at Stiles and then throw him against wall routine, he just sits on the bed and looks at him.
Stiles raises his head enough to give him a ‘and your point is?’ look. Derek doesn’t look impressed.
After what feels like hours of Derek just sitting and staring at him, Stiles sighs. “Seriously, man, what do you want?”
Derek’s lips twitch just a bit. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re infuriating?”
Stiles can practically feel his heart to a somersault and it’s twice as bad when he realized that Derek can probably hear it too. “It’s come up once or twice.”
Derek huffs, his version of a laugh when he doesn’t want to be amused. “I don’t know how to handle you, Stiles.” he reaches out a hand like he’s going to touch Stiles’ face, and no, Stiles is so not putting up with this kind of emotional torture. He ducks under Derek’s hand and moves over to his desk.
“What are you doing here, Derek?”
Derek ignores him. Shocker. “I can’t figure you out.”
Stiles rolls his eyes and stands, arms spread wide. “It’s all right here, man. I’m an open book.”
Derek shakes his head. “You like people to think that.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Jackson said you thought I don’t care about you.”
How the hell does Derek do that, say things so blunt and then just stare at him. His eyes make Stiles feel exposed and raw and he sits back down, hunching in on himself.
“Yeah, well, you never said otherwise.”
Suddenly Derek is right up in his face, eyes flaring red. “Are you blind, Stiles?”
There’s a right answer to this, Stiles just knows it. “No?”
Derek stands, putting more distance between them. He runs a hand through his hair, looking flustered. “I was fucking gone on you. I was stupid about it!”
Stiles stares at him. “Excuse me?”
Derek shoots him one of the glares that would have made him shut the hell up when they first met. “You heard me.”
“Yeah, except I think we’re talking about different realities here. I’m talking about this one, when you ignored me half the time we were dating then dumped me.”
“Is that how you saw it?” Derek looks honestly confused and Stiles seriously has no idea what’s going on here.
“Uh, yeah! Because that’s how it was!”
Derek snarls and, surprise surprise, shoves him into a wall.
“This is getting kind of old.” Stiles quips as his heart starts doing triple time.
“I was trying to protect you, you fucking idiot.”
“The day I ‘dumped you,’” and oh god, he’s actually make air quotes what is the world coming to “was right after you got cut up by the fairies in the territory dispute. I thought if I got rid of you, you’d stop taking such stupid risks.”
Stiles snorts, because that’s seriously optimistic of him. Derek gives a half smile and shakes his head again, close enough that Stiles can feel Dere’s hair against his forehead. “Not my best idea, I’ll admit.”
“Not so much.” Stiles agrees, mind still trying to process what Derek is saying to him. He can kind of remember that fight. He’d gotten a couple scrapes, a few of which needed stitches. It had kind of been eclipsed by the fact that Derek had fucking dumped him.
“Was that your great plan? You dump me and I stop hanging around, forgetting that Scott is my best friend, that Allison needs to have another human around, that I’m part of this stupid pack?”
“I thought it would be a harder sell actually. I’d hoped I could just talk you down to staying behind more.”
The implications of this take a moment to set in and then he pushes Derek away, suddenly furious. “You broke up with me as a negotiation trick?”
Derek shrugs, looking even sour than usual. “When you just accepted it, I thought you’d been waiting for an excuse, that you wanted an out. You usually fight for what you want.”
That’s. . . a fair point. Stiles will give him that. “So what, you’re hear to rub it in my face? Heard it through the grapevine that poor Stiles is in love with you and want to give him a pity fuck?”
Derek growls. “You’re so stupid, Stiles.”
“Oh, so you’re just here for the insults. Awesome. Can we get this over with soon. Not that it isn’t tons of fun.”
“What is wrong with you?” Derek snaps. “Can you let me finish a single sentence?”
Stiles cocks his head and waits. He really hopes that this will end quickly. He wants some time to lick his wounds in peace, so to speak.
“Jackson said that you thought I didn’t care. I didn’t want you to keep thinking that. Whatever happens next, you shouldn’t keep thinking that you were ever just a worthless human. I was invested.” Stiles doesn’t say anything and Derek stares at the wall. “That’s all. You can talk now.”
Stiles is starting to feel weird and floaty again. He should look into that. “How invested are we talking?” he asks “Like, put some money in a checking account and pull it out a week later, or long term savings account.”
Derek rolls his eyes, crossing the room in two long strides to pull Stiles into his arms. “You’re my mate. Is that long term enough for you?”
Stiles’ knees feel a little weak, except that he’s not a romance heroine. He’s just not good at compartmentalizing good information, ok. “So, we’re talking a joint checking account then?” he asks, completely unable to help himself.
Derek growls at him in what Stiles can recognize as amusement and pulls Stiles into a kiss before he can say anything else.
The next morning, Stiles mutters his list to himself as he gently traces the firm lines of Derek’s abs, watching the Alpha’s face as he sleeps.
When he gets to “Derek might break up with me today,” Derek’s eyes flash open and he flips Stiles before he has time to process that apparently Derek is awake.
“Not gonna happen.” Derek growls into his mouth and Stiles figures he’s prepared enough.