Stiles isn’t straight, but he isn’t gay either. He’s what he likes to think of as an equal opportunity kind of guy. Look halfway decent and have a couple of brain cells that rub together and he’s yours for the asking, regardless of age, race or gender.
Which is why he’s hot for Lydia. And also why he’s hot for Danny. Because, aside from their obvious good looks and (in Danny’s case, at least) winning personalities, both of those mofos have some brains on them. Some serious brains. Sure, Lydia hides her candle under a bushel and Danny is more out about sucking cock than he is about his 4.0 GPA, but both of them are totally nipping at Stiles’s heels for Valedictorian.
And that, right there, is the biggest turn on known to man, as far as Stiles is concerned.
Derek doesn’t think in heteronormative terms. There is no boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy and girl live happily ever after in his worldview. Because werewolves aren’t built like that. Werewolves don’t pick their mates. They just are mates.
Mating is a matter of compatibility, not attraction. An inborn knowledge of what will complete you, make you stronger. There is no two ways about it. Male or female, it makes no difference. Finding your mate, or so all Derek’s relatives told him, is like finding a piece of yourself you never knew was missing.
Which is what makes Derek’s fuck up with crazy as balls Kate Argent so damn galling. Because he knew she wasn’t his mate. He fucking knew. And he was too hopped up on her pheromones to care. So he let her lure him out of the house, gave up all his family's secrets and for what? A couple of minutes of sticky, awkward bliss? So not worth it. God, there are no words for how not worth it Kate was.
He was so fucked up after everything that went down with her. So incredibly fucked up. To the point where his sister was worried about him offing himself, which he was never in danger of doing, by the way. There was no way in hell he was going to let Kate be the cause of yet another death in his family, not when she already managed to decimate it. But Laura had worried, like any good sister would, and sent him to counseling, which didn’t really do all that much, and took him to live with their maternal uncle’s pack out in New York, which helped him far more than sitting around and talking about his feelings did.
Because that pack had more children than it knew what to do with and Derek, as the oldest cousin, was given the task of keeping all the younger pups in line. Helping raise the pups eased something inside of him, let him be able heal some of the wounds that Kate had left.
With them, Derek learned to trust his werewolf instincts more and his human ones less. And, for the first time, Derek found himself eager for his mate to come along. Because then he would have someone he could build a future with. Someone who would love and accept him as he was, someone who would help him become the best version of himself.
When Stiles saw Derek that first time out in the woods, he totally got a stiffy. Not gonna lie. Derek’s just that hot. But Stiles isn’t stupid. He knows what out of his league looks like. So when it became clear that Derek was going to be a somewhat permanent, if terrifying, fixture in his life, he told his dick to chill the fuck out and moved on.
Why waste time crushing on a older, hotter, supernaturally grumpy guy when there were people closer to his age who was nearly as hot and, more importantly, nicer near at hand? Not that being closer to his age and nicer translated into being, you know, any more obtainable, but still. Lydia and Danny are way more likely to fall for his charms than Derek ever will be, seeing as how they never express a desire for Stiles to drop dead with little more than a scowl and a furrowed brow.
And besides, there is the fact that Danny actually smiles at him from time to time and Lydia went with him to the dance and didn’t threaten to maim him once the whole night. Which, as far as Stiles is concerned, means that there is a chance for him yet. And Stiles would be a fool not to try and go for it.
If Derek’s life has taught him anything, it’s that he never catches a break. Never. So, of fucking course, he gets royally screwed in terms of his mate. Of fucking course.
Because why would his mate be someone he respects? Or someone he could see himself having a future with? Or, you know, someone he actually enjoys being around? Why would he want that? Why indeed, when he could have a smug little bastard like Stiles?
God, the only thing worse that having Stiles What-The-Fuck-Even-Is-Your-First-Name Stilinski turn out to be his mate, is the fact that Stiles Derek-Really-Should-Know-His-First-Name Stilinski doesn’t give a good goddamn about him in return.
After a little while, Stiles doesn’t even have to remind his dick to chill out around Derek. Because Derek, turns out, is super fucking cool, in a gruff, put upon older brother kind of way. And Stiles is totally down with that. He always wanted an older brother. And, yeah, sure, Derek’s a bit more likely to bite his face off when he gets mouthy then he would prefer, but that’s a small price to pay for the amount of awesome Derek has infused into his life.
Seriously, Derek has this totally unique outlook on everything from poetry to Modern Warfare and this killer sense of humor and he knows all the best places. Like, this one time he took Stiles and Isaac to this hole in the wall diner called The Junction that he swore had the best open faced meatloaf sandwiches in the world. And he was right. Sure, it took nearly an hour to get there and the diner itself looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since it opened in 1962, but the meatloaf sandwiches. God damn. Like an orgasm in your mouth.
Hanging out with Derek is always like that. He’s always got some ace up his sleeve, some cool new thing to show Stiles. And, yeah, sometimes he gets a little surly, sometimes he growls at Stiles to shut the fuck up already or slaps the back of his head or slams him up against a wall for fuck-all reasons, but being around him is so worth the pain.
So totally worth it.
Derek doesn’t do pining. He doesn’t. So when it becomes clear that Stiles is much more interested in having Derek as a new best friend than a boyfriend, he puts on his big boy pants and makes it fucking work. He becomes the best goddamn friend a spastic teenager could ever hope to have. And it’s not even a hardship. Because hidden under his constant stream of consciousness monologues and his absurd amount of clumsy energy, is Stiles’s big heart and loyalty and willingness to do what needs being done for those he cares about.
Stiles is funny, in a nerdtastic way, and so damn smart. Too smart by half. Derek sometimes thinks that Stiles would be better served with a fourth of his brainpower, because Stiles uses his powers for, well, not evil, but not good either. More like some crazy mix of right that only Stiles understands. A right that makes it okay for him to sneak out at night because someone innocent might be at risk, but then turn right around and rat Scott out a week later for doing the same damn thing with the Hunters’ daughter.
Being around him makes Derek’s life better, makes him feel comfortable in his skin in a way he hasn’t been since the fire. And, yeah, it sucks listening to Stiles rabbit on about Danny this and Lydia that, but it’s a discomfort he doesn’t mind dealing with if it means getting to spend time in the kid’s company.
One of the hardest decisions Stiles’s has ever had to make is where, exactly, to apply to college. Because... well... he doesn’t want to leave. He doesn't want to leave at all.
Beacon Hills isn’t even a proper city, it’s just a town. It would be a suburb, if there were any major metropolitan areas nearby, but there aren't. So it’s really just this somewhat affluent little town in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t have any pretensions to be anything more than it is. And Stiles’s loves it because it’s the sort of place where everyone knows everyone and there is no such thing as a secret and people stop each other on the street just to say hi. Stiles has lived there his whole life and there isn’t a street that doesn’t have some memory or another attached to it. And Stiles doesn't want to leave that, doesn’t want to move to some big, anonymous city where nobody knows your name and you can die in your apartment and no one even notices until you start to smell.
Besides, Beacon Hills is where the pack is and where the pack is going to stay. Derek has said over and over again that Beacon Hills is their home and that nothing is going to chance that.
So, yeah. Stiles is so not down with the going away for college thing.
But... well... Stiles’s dad thinks that sticking around isn’t such a bright idea. Stiles’s dad think that Stiles should spread his wings a little, get out from under Scott’s shadow and see who he is on his own. And Stiles dad sorta has a point.
Anyway, it’s just for four years. Four years is nothing, in the grand scheme of things. And there is nothing preventing him from moving back to Beacon Hills when he graduates.
Derek doesn't want Stiles to leave Beacon Hill. Not for any reason ever, never mind that going away to college is perfectly normal. It takes all the control he has not to snap at Stiles every time the subject comes up. Because it’s hard enough dealing with this whole just being friends bullshit when he can pretty much see the kid any time he wants. He can’t even imagine what it will be like when Stiles is off god knows where doing god knows what with god knows who.
So, no. Derek doesn't want Stiles to leave at all.
But Derek understand that Stiles isn’t going to stick around Beacon Hills just because Derek wants him to, so he tries his hardest not to let his true feelings show. He smiles and acts pleased when Stiles tells him which colleges he’s applied to, even though none of them are within a hundred mile radius of Beacon Hills. And he tells Stiles’s he’s making a great choice when the teen decides to attend Berkeley, even though it makes his wolf howl and rage inside of him, begging to be let out so it can claw the shit out of something.
Because that is what is best for Stiles.
And even if it wasn't, Derek doesn't have any right to make suggestions or demands. They are friends, nothing more-- no matter how much Derek might wish they were.
He smiles and tells Stiles he's happy for him and doesn't let anyone see how Stiles leaving is gutting him inside.
But, while the physical separation is a bitch and a half, Stiles going to college turns out to be not so bad at all. Because a Stiles at college is a Stiles who misses Derek. Misses him enough to call him four times a week and text him twenty times a day and demand that they have Skype dates on Friday nights, when most college kids are out on real dates or at parties drinking themselves stupid.
Derek never expected that. Never. Sure, Stiles is his mate and all, but Stiles isn't a werewolf so that mate thing doesn't really matter to him. Well, it would if Derek was enough of a dick to tell him about it, but Derek's not going to. Because he knows Stiles well enough to know that Stiles would put his own feelings on the subject aside and do what he thought was best for Derek. And, honestly, that's not how Derek wants him. No, it's either going to happen because Stiles has a Paul on the Road to Damascus moment or it's not going to happen at all.
It's weird, but when Stiles head off for college, Derek is the one he misses most. It's Derek he calls three times that first day, Derek he leans on whenever he feels overwhelmed and lonely. It's Derek he begs and badgers until the older man agrees to come by for a visit. And if hanging out with Derek back in Beacon Hills was awesome, then hanging out with Derek in his college dorm is super fucking awesome level ten. Because Derek is different, somehow, without the rest of the pack around. Happier, more carefree. He drags Stiles out to a party neither of them were invited to, gatecrashing like it’s going out of style. Then he pulls Stiles out of the corner he was perfectly content to hide in for some semi-drunken dancing and it is... amazing.
It doesn't mean anything, Stiles knows that, but it still feels so damn right, having Derek's hands on his hips, pulling them as close together as two bodies can get. They dance for hours, until the sun comes up and the party finally ends. Then Derek shepherds Stiles back to his room, harangues him into his pajama pants and crashes in bed next to him. When they wake up, well after noon, Derek bundles a mildly hungover Stiles into his car and takes him out for a breakfast filled with pancakes and coffee and all the bacon he can eat. It's perfect, just the two of them, and Stiles finds himself smiling even though his head still feels stuffed full of cotton and his eyes won't stop watering.
Saying goodbye at the end of Derek's visit sucks harder than leaving for college did in the first place. But it's only for a few months. Then he'll be home for the summer and the Derek Stiles Epic Bro Show can play non stop.
Visiting Stiles at college is both the best and the worst decision Derek has ever made.
Best because he gets to spend time one on one with the kid in a way he never had before. They have always been close, Derek has made a particular point of that, but this time they were close in a completely different way. The sort of way that makes Derek’s heart speed up and his palms sweat because maybe, just maybe, Stiles is starting to see him in a different light. Maybe Derek will finally move from being his friend to being something more.
Then again, nothing did happen, even though they slept in the same bed night after night. And that, right there, is why it is the worst decision. Because even though he is only there for four days, that is still long enough for him to get use to waking up next to Stiles, to being constantly surrounded by the kid’s scent.
Waking up alone after that just doesn’t seem right.
Coming home again for summer feels like stepping back in time. Everything is the same. Well, not exactly the same. Scott and Allison have their own place now, for one thing, and there's a ring on Allison's finger that promises that bigger changes are in store. Isaac has found his mate as well, a sweet little thing with bright green eyes and a smile that makes Stiles's heart melt. But the two of them are taking it slow, circling around each other tentatively, which makes sense, given Isaac's history. The rest of the pack is still footloose and fancy free, though they tend to spend most of their time working and being responsible adults. So pretty much the only one around during the days is Derek, not that Stiles minds.
Because one-on-one time with Derek rates as about one of the best things in the universe, as far as he is concerned.
Time seems to both speed up and slow down whenever Derek is alone with Stiles. He can't explain it, the way that minutes can last for hours but hours are over in the blink of an eye.
They spend long days doing nothing at all, just hanging around the house playing video games, whiling away the heat of the day. In the evenings they go running through the woods together in the delicious coolness of twilight, or gather up the pack and grill something on the BBQ Derek spent way too much money on last fall. There are bonfires and camping trips and one memorable outing to the beach-- over a hundred miles away, but so very worth the drive. Derek sat on the sand next to Stiles, their hands almost touching, as they listened to the waves rolling in until the sun set and the moon was high above them.
Derek's never had a summer like that, a summer so full of potential, a summer where he wants time to stand still.
But time doesn't stand still and falls comes around like it always does, bringing with it the bitter pill of another long separation with little but phone calls and text messages to make it easier to swallow.
Sophomore year is easier for Stiles. Way easier. He knows his way around campus and where the best place to buy textbooks is. He has the number for Mr. Pizza Man memorized and can find his way from Berkeley to the City and back without even having to think about it. He's got a handful of friends, a working knowledge of the best all night study spots and a can always find something fun to do on a Friday night.
He still gets lonely sometimes, still misses his Dad and Derek and the pack, but he's not nearly so needy, so codependent, as he was last year.
This time around, he doesn't suggest that Derek comes out for a visit, but he doesn't say no when the other man asks if he can. It's just as much fun having Derek around, showing off his new friends and much busier social life, but it isn't as hard to say goodbye when Derek leaves.
People change when they go to college. Derek gets that. They change and they grow and they become the person they are meant to be.
It's normal. It's to be expected.
Derek just wishes that the person Stiles was meant to be was the sort of person who wanted to be around Derek more, is all.
Stiles isn't actually looking to meet anyone. He's happy with his bachelor status. Besides, meeting someone would mean that he'd have to, you know think about the future and his role in the pack and yeah. Sometimes he wishes that humans worked like werewolves. Because wouldn't it be great to just have a mate? To know that the person you care about most is the one, for sure. No questions, no doubts. No worries that if you tell them a major, important, big life secret they will blab about it to the world. Or, you know, leave you.
God, wouldn't that be great?
Stiles thinks it would be, anyway. Especially now that he has meet someone, even though he wasn't looking. Someone great and wonderful and perfect. Someone Stiles could totally see himself growing old with, being with to the bitter end. But... that someone, Robert, doesn't know the biggest and most important secret in Stiles's life and Stiles doesn't know how to tell him, or, honestly, if he even should.
Because... Werewolves. Werewolves. That's not something you just spring on a guy. Even if it's a guy you think you could spend forever with.
Not that Stiles really ought to be thinking about forever. Not when they've only been together three months and won't see each other at all over the summer, what with the whole Robert living in Vermont issue they've got going on.
But, then, maybe that's a good thing. It gives him a chance to talk to the pack, see what their take on things is.
And by pack, he means Derek, of course. Because, really, Derek's opinion on the subject is the only one he cares about. Never mind that Scott is still nominally his best friend.
He can smell it on Stiles as soon as he sees him. That sweet, almost floral scent that marks a human in love. And for a moment, one blissful, glorious moment, he thinks that it's finally happened. That it's him that has Stiles putting off that delicious smell. Then Stiles starts rabbiting on about Robert this and Robert that and Derek's world comes crashing down around his ears. Because this isn't just lust and wistful thinking. This isn't him panting after someone he has no hope of ever obtaining.
This is Stiles in love.
With someone else.
Derek's vision goes red and his heart starts hammering in his chest. Because what the fuck is he even supposed to do now? His wolf is howling inside him, roaring with rage and slobbering to break free, to run wild, to hunt down his rival and rend him limb from limb. And, Jesus fucking Christ, Derek is hard pressed not to let him do it. The only thing holding him back is the knowledge that Stiles would never forgive him if he did. Hell, Stiles would probably team up with Daddy Argent to hunt Derek's ass down.
So Derek forces a smile, tries to respond to the words spilling out of Stiles's mouth in a coherent fashion. Or at least as coherent as he can be when he's sticking to grunts and growls and a few monosyllabic answers. He ends the conversation as soon as he possibly can. Lies about commitments that don’t exist and straight up leaves.
Then Derek drives himself to the middle of nowhere, parks his car and lets his wolf break free.
When he comes back to himself-- a day and a half later-- he's covered in animal blood and tufts of fur. The unholy rage has been worked out of his system, but in its place is an ache, an empty, miserable feeling that makes him want to tip back his head and howl mournfully at the moon. Because his mate, his Stiles, who has never even considered Derek worthy at all, has given his heart to someone else.
Stiles didn't expect this. Didn't expect it at all. Derek is his friend. Or at least he thinks Derek is, anyway. But friends don't act like this. Friends don't shut you out, don't dodge your calls. They don't pretend they aren't home when you come over or avoid your eyes when they see you walking down the street. They don't cut you out of their lives like you never even fucking existed.
And all because of what? The fact that Stiles dared to date outside of the pack?
Because what other reason does Derek have? Nothing else has changed. Nothing at all. Just... Stiles being happy for once. Stiles having someone who makes him light up inside. Which... dude. Friends are supposed to be happy for you when you find that special someone. That's the way friendship fucking works.
Derek isn't stalking Stiles. Stalking is something that highly disturbed people do. Derek isn't highly disturbed. He's just a werewolf concerned about his mate. And, at the moment, he is also a werewolf who can't be within six feet of his mate without wolfing out completely. So... that means he's limited to long distance following. Just to make sure that nothing terrible is going on in his mate's life.
Right. Because they'll totally buy that in a court of law.
But, whatever. It's not stalking.
And it's not particularly happy-making either, seeing as how Stiles has been using all of his free time to either A: talk to his boyfriend or B: bitch about Derek to Scott.
Derek's life fucking sucks balls.
He's not-stalking Stiles tonight because Scott said something about Stiles drunk dialing him and then up and vanished before Derek could get any details. So, of course, Derek had to come check it out. And, fuck, does he ever wish he hadn't. Because Stiles is really tearing into him tonight, calling Derek every name under the sun and saying that he's glad that they aren't friends anymore, if this is what Derek's really like.
Repeat: Derek's life fucking sucks balls.
And it just gets worse, because there goes Scott, screwing Derek to hell and back by trying to help him.
Dude, you’re his mate Scott says as explanation when Stiles claims that Derek has no fucking reason to be avoiding him and acting like a dick.
And what the ever-loving fuck? How can he possibly think that that is the right thing to say? God, doesn't that idiot know that there is a reason that Derek never told Stiles he was his mate? And that maybe that reason was a fucking good one?
No, of course not. Why would Scott think that? Scott never fucking thinks at all. Which is why he is so cavalier about spilling the you're-his-mate beans to Stiles. Who just laughs. And laughs. And laughs. Until he realizes that Scott's not laughing with him, at which point he says um, tell me that was a joke and Derek can't take it any more. He howls, desperate and unhappy, then shifts completely and gets the hell out of dodge.
Because, really. What else do you do when you mate proves, once and for all, that they've never thought of you as anything more than a friend?
Stiles is Derek's mate. Stiles. No, really. For fucking reals. No joke at all. Stiles is Derek's mate.
No wonder Derek has been avoiding him. No fucking wonder. God. And Stiles told him all about Robert. Why didn't he just kick Derek in the balls while he was at it?
It’s just... Stiles didn't know. He didn't have any idea whatsoever.
And, dude, what the fuck is that about? Why didn't Derek tell him?
He gets why Derek didn't fess up to it after finding out about Robert, especially when Scott makes it clear that Stiles reeks of love, which sucks, by the way, even if it does makes sense. If they can smell fear and arousal and can tell when you are lying, then of course they can smell love on you, too.
But, damn. That's... god fucking damn it.
Why didn't Derek tell him? Why?
Because Stiles does love Robert. With every scrap of his being, he loves Robert. And he's not going to leave Robert just because, surprise, he's Derek's mate. Not when Derek didn't even think it was important enough to tell him about it in the first place.
Still... shit. It's Derek. If Stiles had any idea that Derek actually was interested in him, then he would have been all over that. Because Derek is awesome and amazing and all other sorts of spiffy words too.
But maybe that's why. Maybe Derek isn't interested. Mating is instinct, after all. Nothing you can control. It's just a biological response, isn't it? So... maybe Derek didn't want to be mated to Stiles. But, if that was the case, then why the freak out when Stiles found someone who did want him? That doesn't make sense at all. And, also, Derek is always calling and texting and if he doesn't like Stiles, wouldn't he not do those things?
Well, he's not doing them now, but that's different. That, according to Scott, is Derek trying to protect Stiles and Robert from his wolf or whatever. Not that Stiles really thinks he needs to be protected. Or Robert either. A: because Robert is is Vermont, where Derek most certainly is not, and B: because Derek would never hurt him. Never. He knows it in his bones. The same way that he knows that his father loves him and that Scott will always be his best friend.
Anyway, point is, Derek is around him an awful lot for the whole not-really-interested thing to ring true. And now, looking back on it, Stiles can see a whole hell of a lot of moments where Derek was pretty damn interested in him. Moments where Derek showered him with attention, or was particularly affectionate, or curled up around him while they slept. Moments full of things Derek never did with anyone else. And, yeah, maybe he never said anything in words, but looking back at his actions tells Stiles a whole other story indeed.
And that blows fucking chunks. Because what the hell is Stiles even supposed to do about any of this?
The rest of the summer passes like a blur. There is one crystal clear moment, though, one day that is underlined in red and bolded in Derek's memory. And that's the day he receives the we need to talk text.
Because that's the day where Derek makes his biggest mistake of all. That's the day he sends there's nothing to talk about back. That's the day he hides his room while Stiles bangs on his front door. That's the day he sneaks out the window and runs the fuck away when Stiles picks his lock and the front door no longer is the barrier Derek desperately needs it to be.
Because after that day, Stiles decides to stop trying to talk to him at all.
Losing Derek as a friend fucking hurts. Like a goddamn knife in the gut. Or the back. No, the gut. That has to hurt more, no matter that the back is a more apt analogy.
Anyway, point it, it fucking hurts.
And it keeps on hurting for months, never mind that summer ends and Stiles goes back to school and ought to be distracted by, you know, classes and Robert and all his other friends. He's not. Well, he is. A little. Robert definitely helps. Although Stiles never tells him the whole of it. It's kind of impossible when there's still that big, giant my best friend is a werewolf secert in place. Kind of hard to come out with and his Alpha is my mate and really wants to kill you so how about NO for you coming home with me over the holidays.
So, no, Stiles doesn't go into details. Just tells him that Derek, who Robert knows all about, of course he does, because Derek is-- was-- sort of majorly important to Stiles and Stiles sort of talked about him non stop. Anyway, Stiles just tells Robert that he and Derek had a misunderstanding that snowballed and then when he tried to talk to Derek about it, Derek totally shut him out and refused to even see him and how, yeah. They aren’t friends now. And Robert, because he is fucking awesome, gets it. He really does. And he doesn’t tease Stiles when he breaks down and cries. Just holds him and rubs his back and tells him it would be okay.
Which, in time, it sort of is. It still hurts, like a fucking knife in the gut, but it's okay. It's manageable.
Life can go on, and Stiles with it.
Chapter 2: Part Two
Derek doesn't believe in pining. It's pointless. A waste of fucking time. So he doesn't pine, damn it. He doesn't pine at all.
He does get drunk a lot. He does sleep around. He does let his wolf run wild whenever it wants. But that's not pining. That's him dealing with the situation as best he can.
Derek is not the reason Stiles chooses to stay in the Bay Area the summer between his junior and senior year. He's not, even though no one back home believes him. He stays because he landed a dream internship and because Robert decided to stick around for the summer, too. Because apparently it's boring in Vermont. Who knew?
Anyway, the pair of them rent a dinky studio in The Tenderloin-- a really sketchy part of The Tenderloin-- and pay way more than they should for it. But it's theirs and he loves it.
Scott and Allison make the trip up to see him, bringing with them news of the pack and a soon-to-be addition to their family. Scott rests his hand possessively on Allison's rounded belly and asks Stiles to be the as yet unnamed baby's godfather. Stiles, of course, says yes.
Scott does not mention Derek once.
But Allison does.
She hugs him tight as they are taking their leave and tells him not to worry, that they are keeping an eye out for their Alpha. He still loves you, she adds in a whisper, I don’t want to hurt you, and I know you are happy with Robert, but I thought you should know. Stiles nods and manages to make it through the rest of their farewells without breaking down, but once the door is shut behind them, he crumples.
Robert doesn't ask, doesn't judge. Just holds him tight and tells him that times heals all wounds.
Not this one, Stiles thinks. Not this one.
Derek sees Stiles at the christening of the McCalls’ new pup. The baby is fat and happy, with Allison's bright eyes and Scott's dopey grin, squirming like a devil in her godfather's arms. But the baby might as well not be there for all Derek cares. Not when Stiles is there, not when Derek can see him, hear him laugh.
Stiles's boyfriend is not present, ostensibly at the request of the new parents to limit the event to close friends and family only, but everyone knows it’s really so that Derek won't lose his shit. It's humiliating, knowing that his pack mates had to make the excuse, but it's necessary, too. Because Derek can barely be in the same room with Stiles as-is. God, he looks so damn happy and the scents of love and sex and other male are all over him, making Derek's wolf furious and desperate for blood.
Derek barely stays long enough to be polite, bowing out as soon as the ceremony is over. He makes his excuses and does not attend the party the happy family throws afterwards. But then, he doesn't need to. The baby is part of Derek’s pack and Derek, in his role as Alpha, has already welcomed the pup into his fold.
Stiles pretends not to notice the way that Derek stares at him throughout the christening. He pretends like it didn't make his insides ache, being that close to Derek and not being able to say anything. He pretends for all he's fucking worth. And if he cries the entire ride back to the City, well, that's just between him and his Jeep.
He's got his shit together by the time he's home, though, and is able to babble happily at Robert about his friends and his father and the precious, precious baby. Because, god, that baby. She's too cute for words with her gummy smiles and fresh baby smell and the way she felt all soft and warm in his arms.
Dude, Stiles is not a girl, not a girl at all, but he totally wants him a baby.
Problem is... Robert does not. Robert does not at all.
Robert doesn't even like having the baby over to visit, which... how is that possible? How can you not want to just coo at that darling little duck and blow on her belly and play with her toes and call her a sweet little amazon princess, just like her mommy? How can you be human and be presented with the adorableness of a three-month-old baby girl and not turn to goo?
Wanna know what else Robert doesn't like?
Stiles asking him that question.
Derek doesn't ask for information about Stiles's life; he doesn't want to know. But certain members of his pack -- read: Scott-- are too stupid to live. And so they tell him. All the fucking time.
Which is how he finds out that Stiles and Robert are not so unshakable as they always seemed. And how he finds out that Stiles and Robert are "going through a rough patch" for "reasons" having to do with babies. Or something. Derek wasn't really listening and he's not sure he wants to know what babies have to do with Stiles's relationship with fucking Robert because even if Scott and Allison have made that jump, that doesn't mean that Stiles should be thinking like that.
Oh holy fucking shit.
Stiles with a baby.
Stiles holding Derek’s baby.
A sweet little pup like the one Allison places so gently in his arms and that blows bubbles up at him while trying to eat his fingers. Silly, useless thing.
Derek's heart clenches and his wolf fucking howls. Because that? That's never going to happen.
It’s not just the baby thing. Yeah, the baby thing is important because Stiles wants a family like whoa, but Robert not wanting kids isn’t a dealbreaker in and of itself. It’s the baby thing on top of the different value system and the different goals for their lives and the fact that Robert doesn’t understand why Stiles wants to go back to Beacon Hills to visit, let alone live.
Not that they could live there, what with the whole Derek will kill you thing, which Robert doesn’t know about, thank god, but still. Stiles wants to live in a town like Beacon Hills, even if he can’t live in Beacon Hills itself. And he wants a family. And a slower paced life. And Robert does not.
But they are still friends in the end. Which... doesn’t really make Stiles feel a whole hell of a lot better about it, but what can you do? At least they don’t hate each other. At least Robert isn’t cutting Stiles out of his life like he never fucking mattered, the way some people have. Not that Stiles is comparing the end of the relationship with his first love to the end of the weirdly codependent friendship with his best friend’s Alpha who happens to be his mate or anything.
Because that would be weird, right?
Anyway, they are still friends and Stiles gets to keep the apartment and nothing really has to change in his life at all. Expect for the part where he is no longer with Robert. That part sucks balls.
Derek knows better than to rush to Stiles’s side the moment he hears about the breakup. He fucking knows better. Just like he knew better than to get mixed up with Kate -- but knowing better didn’t stop him then and it doesn’t stop him now. Not that Derek can really compare Kate and Stiles, other than that they happen represent the two biggest lapses in judgement he has ever had, one resulting in the loss of all he held dear and the other resulting in the loss of the companion, the mate, he should have had.
The only thing that makes it sorta alright is that Derek doesn’t hear about the breakup until it’s old news. Like, months old. Which... still doesn’t make things better, but at least his need to be with Stiles right this very second doesn’t translate into Derek waiting for Stiles on his doorstep the day after he and Robert called it quits.
Of course, Stiles still doesn’t respond well to coming home and finding Derek waiting for him, but it probably would have been worse if this had happened a couple of months ago. At least Derek thinks it would, anyway. Kind of hard to tell, with how pretty fucking horrible Stiles’s current response is.
Stiles hasn’t said anything since the oh fuck no he let out when he first spotted Derek, but his mouth is a tight line, his eyes are radiating anger, and the smell of disgust is so thick in the air that it is turning Derek’s stomach. He doesn’t say “you need to leave” but he doesn’t have to. It’s written all over his face.
Derek pushes himself to his feet, trying desperately to come up with something, anything that will change Stiles’s mind. But before he can, Stiles is up in his face, slamming him back against the wall beside his door in a complete reversal of their traditional interactions.
I am not a toy he hisses. You don’t get to pick me back up the second someone else is done playing with me.
Derek’s mouth falls open and his mind reels because, really? Is that Stiles’s opinion of him? Is that what he took away from everything that happened between them? He stands there, gaping like a fish, while Stiles unlocks his door and slams his way inside.
Derek is not invited to join him.
No. No. No.
Not only no, but hell fucking no. That is not how this works. That is not how things are going down. Derek doesn’t get to drop off the face of the fucking planet for just over two years and then magically reappear the second Stiles is on the market again.
That is not how friendships work. Not at all. Sure, there’s some sort of werewolf bullshit going on, but still. If Derek cared at all about Stiles as a person, he wouldn’t have pulled the vanishing act in the first place. He would have talked to Stiles, explained his side of things. Tried to figure out some way that they could all still be friends, or at least still be acquaintances. He didn’t have to come visit. He didn’t have to call. But he could have included Stiles in mass emails or something. Hell, he could have not defriended Stiles on fucking Facebook. That would have been a start.
But he did. Derek cut him out of his life completely and even went so far as to make a fucking point of not making eye contact whenever they happened to meet by “accident.” And by “accident” Stiles means whenever he’s caught Derek stalking him like a creeper, which, by the way, has happened pretty much every single time Stiles has gone home for a visit. But can Derek just smile and wave it off like a normal person? No, he has to go all stone-faced and avoid looking Stiles in the eye and pretend like he never hears Stiles's pointed Hello, Derek, which Stiles always says because dude. They aren’t five. They can act civilly to each other. Or at least they ought to have been able to. So yeah. Two-plus years of Derek acting like Stiles is invisible and now he, what, just expects Stiles to pretend like none of that ever happened? To just let him back into Stiles life because it’s convenient for him?
Not going to happen.
Derek had a chance to work things out with Stiles. He had a chance two-plus years ago. He blew it. And that’s all Stiles is going to say about that.
Stiles’s reaction to Derek makes Derek stop and think, really think, about how things must have looked from Stiles’s perspective. And... well... when he does that, things look pretty bad. Because while Derek knows how hard he struggled with the just friends thing, Stiles does not. Stiles doesn’t know anything.
Derek never told him anything.
The more Derek thinks about it, the more disappointed in himself he becomes. Because... truth be told, the reason Derek never shared important things with Stiles, like how much being just his friend sucked or how much he hated Robert or, you know, that they were even mates to begin with, is because of everything that went down with Kate.
Which, by the way, is another thing he never mentioned.
Kate fucking Argent. The be-all and end-all of Derek’s fucking problems.
She wasn’t his mate. He knew she wasn’t. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t love her. God, how he loved her. It makes him sick to stomach to think about it. Because, fuck. She got everything. He was so stupid, just this young pup with his head in the clouds and his heart on his sleeve and that bitch, that stupid, manipulative bitch, took him for all he was worth.
Derek had worshipped her. Had wooed her like something out of a romance novel, saving up the money he made by working part time at the autoshop so he could take her to dinner or buy her some little thing that caught his eye. He picked her fucking flowers and sent her cards and love letters and thought that their love was so strong, so fucking pure, because she was willing to turn her back on her family for him.
God, he was such a stupid fucking idiot.
And the things he told her, about how he would love her forever, love her till he died. And she would laugh and say I bet you will which he thought meant that she believed him, that she felt the same way, but it was really just her mocking him, laughing at the fact that she planned on his stupid ass being dead by the end of the year.
So... yeah. She did a number on him. And, yeah, that meant that when he realized that Stiles was it, that Stiles was the one, he panicked. Freaked the fuck out. He growled at the kid and slammed him up against walls and took all his anger and confusion and pain out on him. Fuck. It’s a wonder that Stiles ever became his friend in the first place, after a beginning like that.
But that’s Stiles. Always willing to forgive, always willing to overlook bad behavior and offer out that second chance.
Except not this time. Not for Derek.
Because Derek hurt him too much for that. Derek didn’t give him all the information he needed, didn’t give him a chance to say yes or no. Just decided that being friends was the best choice for them. Who knows what might have happened if Derek had told him from the start what they were to each other?
Maybe Stiles would have blown him off. Or maybe Stiles would have felt obligated. Or Stiles would have fallen for him hook, line and sinker.
Who knows? Because none of that happened.
Derek didn’t let it happened.
Derek just kept his dumb mouth shut and then didn’t even explain anything when Stiles found out, from Scott. Hell, he never spoke to Stiles again after that.
Still hasn’t spoken to him. He’s seen him plenty of times, sure, but Derek’s never opened his mouth and said so much as “hi.”
So why would Stiles just welcome him back with open arms?
Of course he blew Derek off. Of course he did.
Stiles doesn’t have any reason not to. And that needs to change. God, does that ever need to change. No more keeping his mouth shut, no more making decisions for the both of them. From now on, Derek is going to have an open door policy. He’s going to be just as outspoken as he possibly can. That way, if things don’t work out, at least it won’t be because Derek never gave them a chance.
Stiles doesn’t know what to do with himself.
He’s alone, really alone, for the first time in his life. He was part of a little unit with Robert the whole time he’s been living in the City, and before that he was living in the dorms, surrounded by people. But now he’s all on his own, and guess what, living in a big, anonymous city sucks as much as he always thought it would.
He has friends, lots of friends, but they are mainly school friends, and even the ones who he’s close enough with to invite over to his place all end up going home sooner or later.
And... Stiles doesn’t like being alone. His bed feels too large. Hell, his whole apartment feels too large. Empty. He thinks about getting a cat or a dog, but he’s hardly ever home during the week and it just doesn’t seem right, leaving an animal to fend for itself.
Still, it’s depressing, spending the long, empty weekends by himself. And don’t even get him started on how much waking up alone sucks.
So Stiles starts going out. Starts partying the way he never did back when he was a freshman. He goes to clubs and picks up guys or girls, whichever happens to catch his eye, and brings them back home for the night.
He’s careful, of course he’s careful. His father is a sheriff, after all. But even though he’s careful and they are all consenting adults, it just doesn’t feel right.
The sex is fine, more than fine, but afterwards.... Look, Stiles isn’t a one-night-stand kind of guy. He’s a commitment and marriage kind of guy. Which means that all that partying gets old pretty quick.
And then he’s back to being alone in his apartment again. With nothing to distract him from his thoughts at all.
Derek tries Skyping. He tries calling. He texts. He emails. He asks Stiles to be his friend again on Facebook. Stiles doesn’t respond to any of it.
So Derek decides to think outside of the box. He sends a letter. An honest to god letter. Via the post office. And when it doesn’t come back to him unopened, he starts sending more. Little things, at first, like postcards and pictures and poems. Things he thinks that Stiles will like. He never gets a response, but he still feels like they are in dialogue, the two of them.
He writes letters multiple times a day, whenever he has something he wants to tell Stiles or sees something he thinks Stiles might find interesting or comes across an article he thinks Stiles might like. He pours out his thoughts and feelings, telling Stiles things he’s never told another soul. Things he never wanted anyone else to know, but suddenly needs to share with Stiles. He holds nothing back, shares it all, and, for the first time in a long time, he starts to hope.
And that, of course, is when Scott shows up at his door with an apprehensive look on his face and a giant box in his arms.
You need to stop, he tells Derek, his eyes sad and filled with understanding. You need to leave him alone.
And, god. It’s like being gutted all over again. Because in that box is every little thing that Derek ever sent Stiles. Every picture, every token, every word. Brought back, Scott tells him, because Stiles wants to make a point. Because just throwing it away wouldn’t have solved the problem.
But this... this does.
This drives the point home like nothing else could have. Because the envelopes have all been opened and the letters inside them are worn in a way that only comes from being read multiple times. Derek spreads them out on his kitchen table, re-reads the words he wrote and hears his heart stutter. It’s all there, everything he feels, everything he has felt, written out for anyone to see and Stiles read it all, read each and every letter, but in the end, nothing Derek wrote mattered. Nothing he said, none of his explanations or feeble excuses or pathetic bleatings about his hopes for a future together, for there to someday be a them, made any difference at all.
Not that Derek really ever believed that it would, but still. It hurts to have his lack of importance spelled out for him. But even worse than that, even worse then having his stupid, pointless hopes dashed and his unwanted letters returned, is the fact that in the box isn’t just the things that Derek has given Stiles in the last month or so of his awkward, undesired courtship. It’s full of all the things Derek has ever given Stiles. Right down to the sand dollar he gave him on that trip to the beach, during that summer that seemed so full of promise, so filled with potential.
Take it back, Stiles is saying. Take everything back. Every memory, every moment. Everything. I don’t want it and I don’t want you.
Stiles may have sent everything back to Derek, but he made copies of all the letters first. Because Stiles is a fucking masochist. And, yes, Derek needs to fucking stop, but that doesn’t mean that Stiles is one hundred percent ready to let go just yet himself.
No, Stiles isn’t able to let go at all. Instead he reads every word Derek wrote over and over again. But reading them doesn’t make the pain in his chest lessen, doesn’t make it any easier for him to forgive, let alone forget.
All it does is make him angry.
So damn angry. Because why couldn’t Derek have done this back then? Why couldn’t he have told Stiles how much he meant to him, how much he wanted him around? If Derek can fill page after page after page with intelligent observations and heartfelt confessions now, why couldn’t he do it then?
It’s just... Derek was the most important person in Stiles’s life. More important by far than Scott or any of his other friends, more important than his father. And that, right there, is enough to tell Stiles that what he felt back then was love. Maybe not the sort of grand passion people dream of, but a strong, steady platonic love. And if Derek had bothered to tell Stiles any of what he can so easily share now, that platonic love? It would have grown into something more.
But instead Derek kept his tender emotions to himself, didn’t even hint that Stiles was anything more to him that a kind of adopted kid brother. Let them spend a good four years being nothing more than friends, when he knew that they had the potential to be so much more to each other than that. Then Derek dropped him like he had the plague the second he no longer fit into Derek’s grand plan.
Because clearly Derek had a grand plan. Maybe Derek never said the words out loud, never committed them to paper, but he had a plan. A timeline he was working off of. One that involved Stiles finishing up school and coming home and then being sucked back into the pack and, at some point when it was most convenient for Derek, Stiles being let in on the oh-hey-we’re-mates secret.
It was a shitty plan, but Derek had it. Derek had been working towards it. Stiles isn’t exactly sure how Derek planned to make the transition from close friends to more, but he’s pretty sure, based on his own understanding of his feelings back then, that Derek would have been successful. That Stiles would have jumped at the chance to be something more to him. God, if Derek had so much as hinted about being into him, Stiles probably never would have even looked twice at Robert, let alone fallen in love with him.
But Derek hadn’t said anything. Hadn’t hinted or given any other indication that Stiles was anything more to him than a friend. So when Robert came onto the scene, Stiles had no reason to discourage him at all. Completely the opposite, in fact. Stiles had gone into their relationship with a smile on his face and the thought of forever on his mind, falling in love so easily, without any thought to how it might affect Derek at all.
And, yeah, Stiles can see how that would be upsetting. A werewolf’s mate is the equivalent of a human’s soulmate. And if Stiles realized he had a soulmate (which Stiles is kind of hoping he doesn’t, because if he does it’s probably Derek and he doesn’t even want to think about that right now) and that soulmate fell in love with someone else, Stiles would probably cry big tears too. But Stiles wouldn’t amputate them from his life. Sure, he would back off a bit, because no one wants to see the one they love with someone else. But Stiles wouldn’t let them go without telling them why. Stiles wouldn’t deliberately hurt them, the way Derek hurt him.
Hell, Stiles wouldn’t have fucking kept them in the dark in the first place.
Which is probably why Stiles is so damn mad. Because, if roles were reversed, he would have done everything in his power to try to get Derek to fall in love with him. And if, for some reason, Derek still fell in love with someone else, Stiles would have wished him well, no matter how much it was hurting him. He would have smiled and then bowed out quietly, like a fucking gentleman.
Because putting someone’s emotions before your own is what loving someone means.
But then, being mates isn’t about being in love, now, is it?
Derek doesn’t stop writing Stiles, he just stops sending what he writes. He buys Moleskine notebooks and fills them with all his words, all the things he’ll never get a chance to say. It doesn’t make things better, but it makes them easier.
Derek hasn’t been thinking about the future, not really. It’s like he sort of put his life on pause the second Stiles left it and has been waiting all this time for Stiles to come back so he can press play again.
But Stiles isn’t coming back.
At least not to him.
And Derek needs to stop waiting for something that’s never going to happen. He writes to Stiles about it, how he didn’t want to make plans because if he did, he would be acknowledging that his plans wouldn’t include Stiles. He tells Stiles about how he stopped caring, these past few years. How even being an Alpha didn’t matter to him any more.
He writes about the fights he’s had with Isaac, how out of control Erica has gotten. He writes about Scott’s deepening frown lines and the way Allison always hesitates before agreeing to bring her pup over to his house. He writes about how empty he feels. How alone. No matter how much time he spends out partying or how many people he brings back home.
Once he’s written it all down, he goes back and reads through it, stares his bad choices in the face. And then he tells himself that is it. Enough is enough. Time to let go, time to move on.
Not that he will ever be able to fully move on. Stiles is his mate and that job is a lifetime appointment. But he can do better than he’s been doing. He can stop fucking dwelling.
And that’s just what he does.
He stops drinking. He stops sleeping around. He stops letting his wolf ravage the countryside. He makes Erica straighten up and fly right, he gives Isaac that guiding hand he needs. He finds ways to make Scott smile again and he makes Allison so damn comfortable that she starts dropping her pup off three times a week so Bethany can establish a good relationship with her grandalpha, a term that he bristles at every time Allison says it, but secretly loves.
And through it all he keeps writing. Letter after letter, notebook after notebook. All filled with the thoughts and feelings and love he wishes he could share.
Chapter 3: Part Three
Sometimes Stiles really just wishes he had a rewind button. If he did, he could rewind his life, get back to the point where things fell apart and make it all make sense.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Life rolls on. Day in and day out. And Stiles rolls along with it. He starts grad school in the fall and marvels at how different the switch from undergrad to grad is. But maybe it’s not really that different. Maybe he’s just different. He feels different, anyway. More adult, though not more grown up. Kinda just like the shine of being a kid has finally worn off.
Anyway, life moves on. Stiles makes new friends, finds a new social scene. He dates. Men, women, sometimes both at the same time, though he always makes sure that everyone is kosher with that arrangement first. And he tries, he really tries, to let the past go. But... he can’t.
Derek is just... always on his mind. More so than Robert ever is, which really says something about their relationship. Because, honestly? Stiles being more hung up on a failed friendship then on his one and only long term relationship? That’s just not right.
But, right or not, it’s the truth. A truth driven home by potential love interest after potential love interest mistakenly thinking that Derek is Stiles’s ex and not even remembering who Robert is at all.
And, okay, maybe Stiles talks about Derek a lot. But that is a pretty basic mistake for people to make. Lots of people. People who are supposed to be auditioning to fill the role that Robert just vacated. Not Derek.
So, yeah. Maybe Stiles isn’t moving on at all. Maybe it’s just the rest of the world that’s moving while he’s standing perfectly still.
Being the Alpha means making hard choices and it doesn’t get much harder than this. Derek is up to his elbows in trouble right now, and all because of Erica, goddamn that Erica. Giving her the bite was the best possible choice at the time, but it sure has come back to kick him in the ass a time or two.
And right now? It’s one of those times.
Because Erica has decided that she’s in love with some other werewolf’s mate. Stupid, stupid girl.
In love with, she says, with her eyes all big and shiny from unshed tears. Like being in love has anything at all to do with mating.
Yes, you love your mate. Yes, you want to be with them always. But you don’t fucking fall in love with them. They just... are your mate. And Erica knows this. You don’t mess around with someone else’s mate. Even if said mate is unhappy for whatever drummed up reason. It just doesn’t end well.
All of which Erica should know, because, once again, she has fucking witnessed first hand what a wolf goes through when someone else is with your mate.
But instead of learning the really, really obvious lesson from all this, what Erica picked up was that just because you’re mates doesn’t mean you are meant to be or will have some storybook romance. So here she is, on her knees, begging Derek to help her free her lady love from the vile clutches of her hapless mate. The poor fucking bastard.
Derek, of course, tells her she is made of crazy and growls at her until she backs down. She grumbles and glares and makes all kinds of unhappy noises about it, but she backs the fuck down.
But, because she’s Erica, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t toss out a parting shot, doesn’t make a pointed comment about how Derek’s own mate doesn’t want him-- how Derek’s mate never wanted him. And she even manages to throw in a line about how just because Derek will be alone and miserable for the rest of his life, doesn't mean that he has to makes everyone around him be miserable too.
Which, look. Derek’s not in denial about what his future looks like. It’s long and empty and Stiles is nowhere in sight. He’s reconciled himself to it. But that doesn't mean that he likes to have it thrown in his fucking face by the lowest ranking member of his pack. Especially not when said member of his pack has managed to royally piss off one of the biggest, most aggressive packs on the West Coast.
But, hey, at least now Derek’s too goddamn busy with pack politics to bother with being mopey about how very much his future is going to suck.
Sometimes Stiles really just wishes he had a rewind button. If he did, he could rewind his life, get back to the point where things fell apart and make it all make sense. Because it’s one thing to turn his back on Derek and whatever potential there was for the two of them because he is in a relationship with the man he wants to marry, and a whole other thing to turn his back on Derek for a relationship that doesn’t make it past college graduation. Especially when he knows that with Derek, he would have been playing for keeps.
And, well, if he could rewind things, then there wouldn’t be all this hurt to get over. If he went back to that summer between freshman and sophomore year, that summer he spent lazing around Derek’s house playing video games and eating BBQ and, you know, just kissed Derek then. In the woods behind his house. Or in the hallway pressed up against the wall. Or in the grass as they watched the stars come out. If he could just have kissed Derek then, before he even met Robert, before things went to shit between them, then maybe they would be together right now.
Maybe Derek would be cooking something in the kitchen or laughing at one of Stiles’s lame jokes. Maybe he would rub Stiles’s shoulders and tell him not to worry, that he has this Masters degree in the bag. Maybe he would bring Stiles a cup of coffee and sit down next to him on the couch, tangle his hands in Stiles’s hair and distract him from his schoolwork with delicious open mouth kisses.
But Stiles doesn’t have a rewind button. The past happened the way it happened and there is too much pain and bitterness for Stiles to be able to pick up the phone, to dial that old familiar number and hear that gravelly voice grit out a begrudging hello. Even if he did, there is no guarantee that Derek would even want to talk to him. It’s been little over a year now since he sent back Derek’s peace offerings. And in all that time he hasn’t ever so much as a peep from his sourwolf.
Although he does hear tale that Derek’s not such a sourwolf anymore. He’s content in his life. Happy with his job and his pack. And totally and completely wrapped around the finger of a particular, sweet little amazon princess.
The thought of which really shouldn’t warm Stiles’s heart as much as it does.
God, who knows? Derek might even be in a relationship with someone. Might be happy as a clam. Sure, they wouldn’t be his mate, but Stiles is his mate and Stiles has yet make Derek happy in any way, shape, or form.
Stiles can’t seem to make anyone happy, actually. Which is why he’s alone in his apartment, wishing for a rewind button. Because maybe if he had one maybe then he could get things right the second time round.
Even though it is nowhere near the case, sometimes it really feels like Derek is a man living a post-divorce life, complete with child timesharing and all. Because he’s Bethany’s grandalpha and Stiles is Bethany’s god-daddy and sometimes when she comes over fresh from seeing her god-daddy it’s all Derek can do not to howl.
Because she smells like him, damnit. She smells like Stiles and baby girl, and it makes Derek want to punch things. And she babbles about him all the time. Bethany loves her god-daddy Stiles. She loves him with all her little four year old heart. He’s so funny and fun and he feeds her apple slices with honey and calls her his little amazon princess and tickles her belly and takes her to see the ducks and god fucking damnit. Of course Stiles is amazing with her. Of course he is.
God, he’s going to be a great father. An absolutely amazing father. And a wonderful person to co-parent with, as well. Some lucky bastard is going to get to share that with him, share the joys of raising a child together, share the smiles and tears and have Stiles there to help shape a little person.
Derek hates them, this person who doesn’t even exist in Stiles’s life yet. Hates them so fucking much.
Scott is Stiles’s oldest friend in the world. His closest friend, too. He’s been there through every major part of Stiles’s life and a whole hell of a lot of the minor ones too. And, yes, with recent events what being what they are, perhaps Stiles and Scott aren’t as close as they use to be. But that’s not on Scott. It’s not Scott’s fault that his alpha is crazy obsessed with Stiles and that Stiles has taken to avoiding his hometown because of it.
But it is sorta Stiles’s fault.
Which is why he is pausing his work on his thesis to deal with Scott’s quarter life crisis, even though he’s less than two months out from defending the stupid thing and has a meeting with his Chair tomorrow afternoon. Because that’s what friends, real friends, do. They are there for each other. So Stiles is putting his own personal freak out on pause, because Scott is his best friend in the whole wide world and he needs Stiles now.
Or, at least, he needs a shoulder to cry on.
Because that’s what he does.
On Stiles’s shoulder.
It’s all Stiles can do not to shake him and give him a serious what-the-fuck talk. Because, really, how can Stiles help if all he gets from Scott is an endless stream of sob Allison sob Bethany sob mate sob with a couple of whimpers tossed in for good measure. But Stiles is a good friend, so he doesn’t shake Scott. He just offers Scott a box of tissues and orders some Chinese food, because nothing cures heartbreak like sweet and sour pork over fried rice.
Scott keeps on crying until the food arrives, then is too busy stuffing his face to have any further breakdowns and Stiles counts his Chinese strategy as a success. He also counts the long, often times uncomfortable conversation that follows as a success too, even though he would have rather not have that level of insight into Scott and Allison’s relationship.
But then, Scott has always been the king of oversharing and Stiles knowing ridiculously intimate details about Allison has sort of been his default state since she burst onto the scene.
So... yeah. Scott and Allison. Not doing so well at the mo’. Because Allison is a big and important copy-editor now. And that means that she goes away for conferences. And at the conferences she meets people, or rather, a person. A male person. Who Allison swears is just a friend, a really good friend, but still just a friend. But, anyway, she comes home from said conferences reeking of said male friend and Scott wolfs out and it's just not a good scene. Not a good scene at all. To the point where Allison is talking about the possibility of needing space. And everyone knows that your significant other needing space is sort of a major red flag.
And Scott? He's freaking out. Saying crazy things about hunting this friend down and tearing his mate-stealing-stomach open with his teeth. Which... how his stomach is stealing Scott's mate is sort of not clear to Stiles, but he gets that this is really, really bad. So he does what he does best: he talks. He talks and talks and talks until the sun rises and his throat is raw. The end result of all his talking is a Scott who looks human and isn't about to go eviscerate some poor fool who happened to befriend his mate.
Thank you, Scott says before he leaves, tugging Stiles into a hug that is so tight it hurts. You don't know what's it's like, thinking you might lose your mate. It makes your wolf go wild. No wonder Derek is such a dick all the time.
And then he's out of the house before Stiles can tell him that, hey, guess what? Scott's a fucking dick too.
Derek doesn’t plan on becoming a writer. He has no interest in it at all. But his pack happens to have some of the wiliest women known to man in it, and when they put their heads together, there is no stopping them. Which is how Derek somehow manages becomes a published writer without ever submitting a single manuscript himself. Lydia and Allison do it. On his behalf. As his agent and his copy-editor respectively.
It all comes together fairly organically. It starts with a book, of course it does, a book he wrote himself, but never meant to share. Or at least not share with anyone outside of his pack. It was supposed to just be a little bit of fun, something for Derek to read to Bethany before putting her down for her nap. Because Bethany is a quick, bright little thing, as well as a bit of a bloodthirsty one, and the books on the market for girls her age just weren’t cutting it from Derek’s perspective.
So he wrote her something fun and rockling with a plucky brunette as the lead character and a silly but endearing blond boy as her sidekick. He called it The Adventures of Pirate Jane and printed and bound it himself. He hand illustrated it, filling the bottom half of the pages with bright, sunny depictions of the Brave Girl Pirate and her Hapless Crew. Derek put twice the effort into the pictures than he did the plot, because everyone knows that the pictures are the best part, but he was pretty pleased with how the plot turned out as well.
And so was Bethany, which is the point.
Thing is, so were Bethany’s mommy and Auntie Lydia. Before Derek even knows what is happening, his book is in production and then out on shelves. And, boy, does it ever sell. It sells so well that publishers come looking for him, with big bags of money on offer and really, who says no to that?
So Derek quits his job at the autobody shop and starts writing children’s books full time. And, thing is, he loves is. Loves it more than he could have possibly imagined. The only way he could love it more is if Stiles were there by his side, sharing in his happiness with him.
Teaching is something Stiles has always wanted to do. Teaching and getting paid to play video games. And he did that second one all throughout his college education, beta testing for the win. So now that he’s got his education all wrapped up and that lovely little teaching credential in hand, he’s ready to take on what the youth of America is able to dish out.
He doesn’t really tell anyone back home, but he’s only applied to jobs within as fifty mile radius of Beacon Hills. Because he wants to be near home. And, yeah, his drama with Derek blah blah blah, but he’s not going to not live where he wants to live because Derek’s got issues. So, yeah. That’s his game plan. Interview like a boss, get offered a sweet ass position and be able to visit his dad whenever he wants.
And, um, he’s also applied at Beacon Hills High.
But the odds of him getting that one are very, very low. People teaching there still remember when Stiles was a student, after all.
Sometimes Derek can't help but dwell on the past. He doesn't do it often, only once or twice a year, but still. When he does, he flat out wallows in it. Drags out all of the things that remind him of Stiles: the birthday cards Stiles sent him, the pictures of the two of them together, the stuffed wolf Stiles won at the fair and then promptly named Sourwolf and gifted to Derek because he's Stiles and that's the way he works. Little things, like movie ticket stubs and books Stiles recommended and the few precious letters Stiles actually wrote to him. Derek pulls it all out of hiding, spreads it around his room and fucking mourns. Same as he would if his mate was dead.
Because no matter how much time passes, no matter how good his life might otherwise be, there is always a part of him that wants more. Wants Stiles.
And nothing will ever be able to change that.
When Lydia texts him, Stiles just rolls his eyes. Because what else do you do when you get sent a random address, a date, and a time and no other information except be there, loser, or else? But he goes. Because it’s Lydia.
The address turns out to be a bookstore, which makes perfect sense, as Lydia is an agent and as such is at bookstores all the time. The only problem is, it isn’t just Lydia who is there. It’s Lydia and Derek who looks... God. Like Derek.
It’s been years, fucking years, since he’s seen Derek in person, and seeing him again is like a punch in the fucking stomach.
What the fuck. Seriously, Lydia, what the fuck.
He waits until Derek is distracted by some of the bookstore employees before scurrying over to Lydia and then dragging her off into a far corner of the store, away from any-- read Derek's-- prying eyes.
Stiles wants to shout at her, wants to call her a cold-hearted bitch and rant about stupid ideas and fucking lack of basic common sense, but before he can do any of that, Lydia is up in his face, growling at him about stupidity and wasted years and being sick to death of watching two people she cares about suffer for no reason at all which... is balls. There is plenty of reason.
Thing is... It's kind of hard to remember that when Derek is in the same store as him, squatting down to listen to the most adorable little boy in the history of the world who is talking a mile a minute and holding up a plushie version of Pirate Jane and god. That is, like, the exact opposite of fair. Because... Derek. And children. And there goes his heart, clenching like crazy at the thought of Derek smiling like that at their little boy. And god fucking damn it. Really, brain? Really? Did we have to go there?
Not that it is any surprise that the Derek and family are linked in his mind. Not after all the years of sharing Bethany with him. Derek, who Bethany talks about constantly and who showers that sweet little girl with love and affection and is second in her heart only to her mommy and daddy. Which Stiles isn’t even resentful of because of course she’s closer to Derek. He’s the head of her pack and sees her pretty much daily and is her grandalpha
Grandalpha. The word alone is enough to make Stiles go all soft and gooey inside.
God, Derek’s grown into such a wonderful, strong leader. He’s amazing with his pack. And it sucks that Stiles isn’t there to witness it first hand. That Stiles can’t even shoot Derek an email, let alone text him or call him on the phone.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
This is exactly why Stiles has been avoiding the shit outta Derek.
No. He is not going there. He is not doing this right now. It’s stupid and pointless and he's canvassed all of this a million times before. There is no going back. There is no do-over. There is only moving the fuck on, which Stiles is completely incapable of doing.
He crosses his arms over his chest and glowers at her, hating her so much right then that he can't even respond to anything she's saying.
But... But he can't help but hear when she sighs and gives him that sad look of hers and tells him to just trust her on this.
So he doesn't leave, the way he really, really ought to.
No, he stays put where he is, which means he also stays hidden. Because he's not stupid enough to think that Derek is going to be in any way pleased to see him.
Soccer moms are scary. You’d think Derek wouldn’t be easily intimidated, what with being an Alpha werewolf and all, but those soccer moms. They take danger to a whole new level. Mix them in with trophy wives and you’ve got the deadliest combination known to man.
Now, in his normal life, Derek doesn’t run into either of those groups. But in his award winning author of a popular series of children’s books life, he’s got both in spades. Because you know who is looking for something free and entertaining to do with their precious little rugrats at ten a.m. on a weekday morning?
Soccer moms and trophy wives, that’s who.
They sit there with their grande double foam vanilla soy lattes and simper at him, lust pouring off them like sweat in the summertime, fidgeting with their hair and touching up their make up, clearly preparing to proposition him like they aren't there with their children, for Christ’s sake.
But this isn’t Derek’s first time at the rodeo. Derek's played this game before. He knows what they think, those soccer moms and trophy wives, that he's there for their pleasure, there to be had. The way they look at him, like he's something they want to rub up against, smear their scent all over, turns his stomach, makes his skin crawl. His wolf snarls, wanting to come out and show these women just what they are dreaming about toying with, but Derek forces it down. He's got a tried and true method to make all those stupid thoughts fly right out of their Desperate Housewives heads. That will have this whole group cooing at him in ten minutes flat.
He just needs to lead them into it, needs someone to ask the right question, let him play the happily-devoted-to-his-partner card's he's got stashed up his sleeve. Not that Derek has a partner. But that's not the point. And Derek is pretty damn good at faking it, at using what he does have: a mate who isn't interested in him and hasn't talked to him in years, but who he has enough knowledge of via shared friends to be able answer any awkward questions thrown his way.
Because the awkward questions? They never stop coming at these events.
Never mind that Derek is here to read to a bunch of children, not be grilled by middle aged women who are bored with their privileged lives and looking for a thrill.
Derek sighs as he climbs up the stairs of the stage set up for the event. He ignores the table and chair set up for him, he’ll deal with that later, when it’s question and answer time, and instead plops down on the floor. He gestures for the children crowding around the floor in front of the stage to come up and join him, like he always does for his storytime sessions.
Derek lets the kiddos crawl all over him to their hearts’ content-- just because their moms are wackjobs doesn't mean the kids aren't adorable-- and doesn't say anything when one of them jabs him in the hip, hard. He catches hold of an adventurous boy who was trying to climb the side of the small stage and sets him safely back on the ground. He chucks a waifish looking girl under the chin, making her blush and giggle. And he doesn't interrupt the hyper little redheaded boy who stumbles over his words in his hurry to get them all out. Truth be told, Derek's particularly indulgent of that one. Because the child remind him of someone else whose thoughts run too fast for his mouth to keep up.
All too soon, storytime is over and the mothers are chomping at the bit to get in on the action. Derek watches the kiddies get herded down from the stage with a regretful look, then makes his way to the table and chair, taps at the microphone once to make sure it is working and then glances out at the crowd as he sits down, palms resting flat on the table.
They raise their hands and look at him eagerly, each one confident that she will be the one he calls on first. Derek doesn't sigh, just forces a smile and picks the dumpy looking lady towards the back because she doesn't smell like any other than happiness and slightly sour milk.
She asks about his favorite book as a child, a lovely change from the questions about his possible wife and children and love life he normally gets blasted with. Derek gives her a genuine smile in return and answers her with as much detail as he can provide.
He breathes deep when he finishes speaking, trying to find another mom with an innocuous scent to call on, but there is none to be found. He does smell something curiously familiar though, something that makes him think of warmth and, oddly enough, home. But whatever it is, it's quickly masked by the sex stink coming at him from the crowd.
Derek shakes his head to clear it, then selects someone at random. The bottle blonde he points to preens like he's given her the keys to his room as she coyly asks about the identity of the mysterious-- her word, not his-- Bethany his books are dedicated to. And that earns her a genuine smile as well, because that, right there, is his in.
Bethany, he informs them, is the special lady in his life. She's five and a half, with the biggest, brightest eyes you've ever seen and a smile that would melt even the Grinch's heart. And she's his partner’s goddaughter.
The women in the crowd somehow manage to pout and coo at the same time. They want to know more, of course they do, about both Bethany and his partner, and Derek is more than willing to answer them.
He's been going on for more than ten minutes about how good his partner is with Bethany, how much he adores her, how he calls her is little amazon princess, how he bought her a child’s bow and arrow set for her last birthday, how much Derek loves the pair of them, when that comforting scent from before resurfaces. He takes another deep breath, rolling the scent on his tongue to try and finagle out the identity of its owner.
It barely takes a second for him to register where he's smelled that delicious scent before.
And, god fucking damn it.
Of course this would happen. Of fucking course. Stiles would be here, listening in as Derek rabbits on about him. No doubt cringing to himself at the reminder that Derek still hasn't moved on. Will never be able to move on, no matter how unwanted his affections might be. God, he must have heard Derek claim his as his partner when he has no right to, heard him tell everyone in the room how ridiculously besotted he still is.
Stiles can pinpoint the exact moment that Derek realizes he’s there. Derek’s words stop mid-sentence, the soft smile fades from his face, and he mumbles something about how no one really wants to hear him babble, which, dude. Don’t be dumb. Derek could be talking about subatomic particle physics and this group would just smile and nod along.
Because this crowd is made up of middle aged moms. And Derek is Derek, with his rugged bad boy air and his gorgeous face and that body of his. He looks like a fucking Greek statue in a leather jacket. Who wouldn’t want that? No one, that’s who. Add to that the fact that not twenty minutes ago he was at the dead center of a puppy pile composed of the cutest toddlers to ever cute, handling them like a boss, and you pretty much have a middle aged mom wet dream come to life.
So, yeah, no surprise that the whole audience practically falls over itself telling him how very, very much they want to hear about him and his partner and his partner’s goddaughter, and, honestly, Stiles wants to hear more too.
God, does he ever want to hear more. Derek could pretty much keep on keeping on till Stiles died and he would be happy.
Derek doesn’t, though, instead he takes another question from the crowd and blushes whenever the word “partner” is mentioned and Stiles gets it. He does. Derek is awkward with him being there. It’s throwing him off his game in the most obvious ways. But Stiles can’t leave. Hasn’t been able to leave since he walked into the place and saw Derek. And if he couldn’t leave then, there is no way he can leave now. Not after hearing what he heard. Although, really, he sort of thinks that maybe he’s slipped into some alternate reality or something because it’s like Derek is just reading lines out of one of Stiles’s more pathetic fantasies.
Except how he’s not, he’s actually here, Derek actually said those things. About him. So yeah. Leaving is so not an option.
Instead he just stands there and stares like a fucking creeper.
Stiles shifts from foot to foot, ignoring the smug looks that Lydia is throwing in his direction. Of course she is, because she’s the whole reason he’s even here. Her and her clever ways. God, she must have known this would happen. She must have known. Otherwise why even invite him? And why give him that leave-and-die speech when he got there?
Oh god, this must be something that Derek does all the time. That’s the only explanation that makes any kind of sense at all. But... why? Why does he babble about Stiles? Why does he call Stiles his partner? Bethany being a part of his book tour makes sense, because he wrote them for her. But what does Stiles have to do with anything? What reason does Derek have to be taking about him, him, like he’s the most precious, wonderful thing on the planet?
God, Stiles is torn between wanting to rush up to the stage right this very minute and demand answers and wanting to rush up to the stage and grab his sourwolf by the ears and kiss that constipated, embarrassed look right off his gorgeous face.
He takes half a step forward, then another before losing his nerve and scurrying back to where Lydia is sitting, thumbs flying as she texts. She looks up long enough to give him a knowing smirk, then drops her eyes back to her phone. Stiles gives her the stinkiest eye to ever stink, because even if she is the reason he’s there, she’s still insufferable.
Good lord, how long do these stupid question and answer sessions drag on? Derek writes picture books, for the love. What even is there for them to still to be asking about? No, really. That last question was totally a come on. Didn’t they even hear him when he said he had a partner? That typically means dude is gay. And not only gay, but taken, because partner is pretty much the PC way of saying “not-married to my gay lover.” So maybe they should stop trying to fall all over him, huh?
Not that Stiles is jealous or anything. Just, you know, concerned about the mental power of the women in the room.
Oh! Did one of them just ask to see a picture of Derek’s partner with his goddaughter? Because Stiles is totally on that. Stiles is so on that. In fact, Stiles is moving quick like a bunny, up onto the stage with his phone held out in front of him like a golden ticket before Derek even manages to finish fumbling on about him not being sure that his partner would be comfortable with that, which. Hi. Stiles so totally is.
God, Stiles doesn’t even know what the story is with this whole partner thing, but he’s down with it. So fucking down with it. And if it all turns out to be some sort of ploy... well... he’s down with that too because at least he got to hear it once. And, yeah, that’s probably super sad and super needy and probably says terrible things about him and his self-worth issues. But it’s Derek.
Derek, who is staring at him with wide, wide eyes and this massively unhappy look on his face and. Fuck. Whatever. Stiles is committed now. And they can just figure all this out between them later.
It’s okay, Stiles wants to tell him when he reaches his side, but instead he just announces loudly that Derek’s partner-- which is him, ladies, so back the fuck off already-- is more than willing to show a few pictures of himself with his lovely little amazon princess of a goddaughter. And then he’s asking if anyone has an HDMI cable and hooking things up and there is his precious little girl, up there on the wall with her chubby little cheeks and her mischievous smile.
Stiles starts flipping through his gallery on his phone, projecting image after image of the monster, occasionally leaning over Derek’s shoulder to answer questions in the mic set up in front of him. And every time he does, every single time, his chest brushes against Derek’s back and his arm rubs against Derek’s shoulder and who the fuck needs foreplay when Derek’s body is that close, smelling so damn good that Stiles’s mouth is practically watering.
And then... And then the reality of what’s going on comes crashing down on him. Because there, on the big fucking screen, is the picture he loves and hates the most in this world, the one and only picture he keeps of Derek.
He didn’t take it and he never would have asked for it to be sent to him, because, hi. He sort of has a history there. And looking at pictures of Derek sort of hurts like balls, which, by the way, pretty much everyone in his life knows, and so they make a point of, you know, not sending him them. But Scott is a certain type of special and never, ever thinks about how his action might affect others and so Scott sent it to Stiles because... he’s Scott. And once it was on Stiles’s phone, he couldn’t erase it. No way, no how. Because Derek looks so damn happy in that picture. The happiest Stiles has ever seen him. He’s got this soft, besotted look on his face and Bethany up on his shoulders. She’s got her chubby baby fingers wrapped in his hair and a smile so wide that her eyes are squinched shut and god. It’s like porn for the lovelorn.
And, um, middle aged moms, if the amount of cooing going on in the room is any indication.
And, well, fuck.
Kind of hard to play like he’s not still totally hung up on Derek when he’s got that picture saved to his phone.
Not that he really wants to play like he’s not into Derek. Kind of the opposite of that, actually, but he’s still not sure what the deal is with the whole “partners” thing. Did Derek mean it? Or was it just some sort of ploy he was using on the group for... reasons that Stiles can’t figure out but probably still exist.
But... maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it did mean something. The way Derek looked when he was talking...
Why not go for broke? Stiles might as well put his cards on the table. After all, holding feelings inside has never worked out well for them in the past.
So he takes a deep breath and gives the room a sheepish grin. That’s my favorite, he says into the mic, his chest tight against Derek’s back and his arm brushing gently against Derek’s shoulder. He hears a swift intake of breath from Derek, and he half-turns towards him, not sure what to expect.
Derek’s eyes flash red for a moment, then he’s sliding his hand behind Stiles’s neck, tugging his head further down for a kiss.
It’s hot and tender and over way too fucking fast and Stiles can’t do anything but stand there, mouth hanging open in what is probably a terribly unflattering fashion. There is a smattering of giggles from the audience, and a very loud whisper about how much someone would pay to be meat in that sandwich, and then Derek’s pushing back from the table, standing up, and telling the room how very sorry he is, but he’s fresh out of time.
The giggles? They just grow louder at that. But Derek doesn't crack a smile. And when Stiles tries to talk to him, he just shakes his head and walks purposefully away.
And, well, what the fuck is Stiles supposed to do with that?
Derek panics. Plain and simple. He panics.
He turns his back on Stiles and his stunned expression and half-opened mouth, and power walks himself out of the store, never once looking back, even though he can hear Stiles calling after him because no. He can’t handle that right now. Can’t deal with whatever repercussions are coming his way.
Because there are definitely going to be some repercussions. Even without everything that went down between them, kissing Stiles would have been a bad idea. You don’t just do something like that. And... well... fuck.
There is that history. There’s years and years of unhappiness and outright dislike between them. There’s Stiles asking people to come visit him so that he doesn’t ever have to step a foot in Beacon Hills. So that there is zero chance of him running into Derek at all.
And doesn’t that just eat at him, the fact that Stiles doesn’t even want to be in the same area code as him. Even now, going on five years later, Stiles still hates him that much. And, fuck it all, Stiles was right to avoid him. Because what did Derek do the first time Stiles came within an arm’s length of him? He fucking kissed him. Like Derek had any right.
He didn’t mean to. That wasn’t the plan. God, how could it have been? Derek knew that Stiles was somewhere in the the city, but San Francisco is pretty damn large. He should have been able to come visit for a few hours and not run into the one person in the world who didn’t want to see him.
Should have, but then... Lydia. It’s the only explanation. Oh god, that bitch. She knew his speil. Knew that he would go on and on about Stiles. It’s what he does every single time. She must have lured Stiles there with her fucking magic ways. God, Stiles never could resist Lydia. And then she...
Even if she did lure him, why did Stiles stay? Why did Stiles come up onto that stage?
God, what does it even matter? Derek kissed him. Kissed him. When he knew damn well that Stiles didn’t want anything to do with him.
Fuck his fucking life.
Stiles doesn’t run after Derek because Stiles has some pride. And because Stiles has to unhook his phone from the HDMI cable and by the time he is done doing that he is surrounded on all sides by cooing middle aged women who want to talk to him about his precious godbaby and his sexy, sexy partner. God lord, middle aged women have no shame. None. The questions they ask him about Derek have Stiles blushing like it is going out of style.
So yeah. He doesn’t run after Derek because he has pride, and because he by the time he fights his way free of Derek’s creepy ass fans, the other man is nowhere in sight.
Derek’s gone. Long gone. And there is nothing Stiles can do about it.
And.. well... fuck.
Stiles feels his shoulders slumping, an ache blooming to life in his chest because wow. That makes things pretty damn clear, doesn’t it? Derek might have been going on and on about how great and wonderful and perfect his partner is, and he might have said things that heavily implied that Stiles was the inspiration for said partner, but...
But that doesn’t mean that he actually wanted to see Stiles.
And, sure, Derek did kiss him, but dude. It’s fucking clear as day that he regretted that shit. Jesus, the look he gave Stiles before he turned and walked away... like he would rather cut his arm off than stay there a second longer.
Stiles bows his head, his hands balling into fists at his sides, feeling absolutely gutted.
A warm hand lands on his shoulder and he looks up, his eyes fucking swimming with tears, and sees Lydia’s concerned face. She makes a tsking sound in her throat and says something disparaging about Derek’s parentage, then she’s wrapping Stiles in her arms, holding him tight as she croons in his ear.
And Stiles... Stiles just loses it, sobbing into her shoulder like a mother fucking baby.
Because he was right all along. It’s too damn late. There’s too much history there. Too much for them to ever overcome it. Which, really, isn’t a surprise.
It just... it really fucking hurts to have it confirmed once and for all.
Derek doesn’t know what he was expecting, but it wasn’t this. He thought there was be some sort of a blow up, that Stiles will call him up and chew him out. Or write him a scathing email. Or text him. That Stiles would find some new and inventive way to rip him to shreds.
But that’s not what’s happened. Hell, nothing’s happened. There’s been zero reaction at all.
And somehow that’s worse than any angry phone call or email ever could have been. Because... fuck. Stiles not the type to hold it in. If he was pissed, he would have made it known.
So Stiles not saying something, not bothering to do anything, can only mean one thing: that Derek has sunk so low he doesn’t even rate a response.
Part of him desperately wants to call Stiles, to harass some response out of him. Because while Derek had thought it was terrible, knowing that his mate was out there in the world hating him; knowing that his mate is out there and completely indifferent to him is ten thousand times worse.
But Derek has managed to get a better hold on his self-control since the last time he fucked his life to hell and back. This time he doesn’t barrage Stiles with even more unwanted contact, this time he forces himself to stay away, to give Stiles the space he so obviously wants.
Derek clamps down on his wolf as well, refusing to let himself rage or scream or destroy his house, no matter how much his wolf wants to, because he’s in his thirties now and that sort of shit just doesn’t appeal to him anymore.
He can’t completely sublimate it, he can only repress his wolf for so long, but he can chose how he deals with his emotions. And this time he chose let them out in a much more rational-- if personally humiliating-- way: he fucking breaks down and cries like he hasn’t done since he realized just what it was Kate wanted from him. Disgusting wet sobs that seem to be wrenched out of his fucking soul. Then he retreats into himself, locks himself away in his room and fills page after page with bitterness and regret. He writes it all down, every ache and hurt and pain that is in him. He drags out his Stiles momentos, runs his fingers over the words Stiles once wrote him, buries his face in the shirt he borrowed from Stiles and never gave back. He fucking sleeps with that stupid stuffed wolf. Because he has no fucking dignity left at all.
God, all he has is an empty, hollow feeling in his center and the knowledge that nothing will ever, ever make it right again.
He spends a week in his room, coming out only to eat and piss. He doesn’t talk to anyone, doesn’t even look at Lydia. It’s not her fault that he did what he did, no, the blame for that rests solely on his head, but he wouldn’t have been put in the position where he could make an ass of himself if she hadn’t arranged it in the first place.
Lydia doesn’t do herself any favors, though. No, she spends the whole of the week stomping around and muttering under her breath about idiots who can’t see what’s right in front of their faces. She sulks and she sighs and she calls Stiles no less than five times in Derek’s presence, for what purpose, Derek doesn’t know. Probably just to torture him. Because Stiles doesn’t sound broken up about anything at all. Just natters on to her about his job search and friends and even some person he met in some bar. He sounds happy. So damn happy. And why shouldn’t he be?
Derek doesn’t matter to Stiles any more.
Fuck, Derek never really mattered to Stiles. Even back in the day, Derek was just a friend. Someone Stiles liked to hang around with, someone who laughed at his stupid jokes. He was never someone Stiles wanted to be with. Never someone Stiles daydreamed about. Just a fucking friend.
A friend who abandoned Stiles, who ignored him and hurt him and treated him like shit. Derek lost all rights to be called Stiles’s friend a good five years ago. Since then he’s just been someone that Stiles didn’t really care for, someone from Stiles’s history he’d rather forget. Someone Stiles went out of his way to avoid.
Derek doesn’t even want to think about what he is to Stiles now.
Lydia tells Stiles not to freak out about this, to give Derek time. She says all is not lost, that Stiles just needs to let Derek get himself out of whatever funk he’s in. She promises it will all work out in the end and that Stiles just needs to have a little faith.
Stiles thinks she full of shit, but Stiles is a nice enough person not to say so to her face.
Derek’s not typically an overly emotional person. He is good at compartmentalizing, good at being logical about things, about taking shit in stride.
But now, when he it needs it most, none of those facts hold true.
Instead he’s moody and brooding and surly as shit. And it’s over something so fucking stupid, so utterly pointless, that he can’t help but hate himself a little for it.
Look. You can never get a first kiss back.
And, stupid and pointless as it may be, Derek had plans for their first kiss. It’s not that Derek is super romantic or anything. He’s not. But. Stiles is super romantic, he’s into that long walks on the beach, sharing your feelings sort of thing. He’s the only man Derek has met who actually enjoys Nicholas Sparks. And Derek had wanted to do right by him.
So... yeah. Derek had plans for their first kiss. What, exactly, those plans entailed had changed dramatically over the years, because nine years is an awfully long time to think about something and there were bound to be changes, but there has always been a First Kiss Plan of some form or another. Even right at the start.
The current version starts at an upscale restaurant and features a very nice dinner, the sort with multiple courses and paired wines, followed by a dessert just covered in chocolate, because Stiles loves chocolate. Derek would say it was to share, but really he’d just drink a coffee and watch as Stiles licked his plate clean. There would be conversation and laughter and then, as they were leaving the restaurant, Derek would pause, turn towards Stiles, and take the other man’s face in his hands. He’d move in slowly, giving Stiles time to say no, but Stiles wouldn’t. Stiles would lick his lips and stare into his eyes and the kiss, when it came, would be perfect. It would be meaningful. Because Stiles would know what was behind it and Stiles would be accepting it, Stiles would moan into his mouth and taste like wine and meat and overly chocolatey dessert, and damn it all to fucking hell because that’s never going to happen now.
Of course, it was never going to happen to begin with, what with Stiles having long since decided that his life was better without Derek in it, but... but at least he had the dream. At least he had the fantasy about how it would happen, if it ever happened. And now he doesn’t even have that.
Instead he has Stiles’s heart beating so fast and his eyes clouded with confusion. He has Stiles’s breath catching in his throat and the way his whole body jerked when Derek’s lips touched his. He has Stiles standing perfectly still, not moving a muscle, while Derek licked and nipped at his mouth. And he has the sinking, terrible feeling in his gut, the ache that won’t go away. The feeling that comes from knowing that that was his one chance. That was it. And Stiles... didn’t even kiss him back.
And, yes, he’s knows it ridiculous for him to be in funk because his First Kiss Plan was bupkis and that the kiss he did get was... well... pretty par of the course, given the state of his relationship with Stiles, but still.
He’s allowed to be.
Because you can never get a first kiss back. And even though he ought to be focused on a thousand other things that are horrible and bad and wrong in his life, that’s the one that seems to matter the most.
Okay, so I know that I said that I would be posting every Saturday until this fic was finished, but I forgot that I have a family vacation planned for next week. So... I'm going to try to pull in my timeline and get chapter four up on Friday before I go, but it is possible that I won't be able to post until Monday. Sorry fandom peeps. D:
Chapter 4: Part Four
It takes about three months for Stiles to get over himself enough to text Derek. And even then it’s a lame ass Hi Derek, just checking to see if this is still your number. Stiles, which, dude. He knows it’s his number. He triple checked with Lydia first.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It takes Stiles nearly three months to work up the gumption to text Derek. There isn’t really a good reason for that. It’s just... well... look.
Despite how it might seem, Stiles isn’t really a glutton for punishment. Yes, he wants a chance to actually figure out this thing between them. God, he wants a chance so much. But Derek is cold and standoffish at the best of times. Or, at least, he was. Back when Stiles still knew him.
And, sure, he seems to have put a lot of his tough guy front behind him, found a way to express emotion without looking like it’s hurting him, but...
Alright, so Stiles is fucking insecure as shit. And yeah, Derek kissed him. But then Derek ran the fuck away. And that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Stiles, okay? It sort of makes Stiles feel like epic shit. Which... is pretty par for the course, actually. But Lydia said that Derek was hurting and then Scott, Scott, started babbling about being concerned about Derek too, then last time Bethany came by for a visit all she could do was talk about how sad her grandalpha was, and fuck.
Derek’s not allowed to be sad over him. It’s just... Fuck.
So... So Stiles, yeah. It takes about three months for Stiles to get over himself enough to text Derek. And even then it’s a lame ass Hi Derek, just checking to see if this is still your number. Stiles, which, dude. He knows it’s his number. He triple checked with Lydia first.
And the reasons he texted, instead of, you know, manning up and calling, is... not flattering and has to do with Stiles’s near desperate fear of rejection, or at least of being hurt. Again. By the person he cares most about in the world.
Anyway, every time he tried to dial Derek’s number, all those panicky thoughts would well up in him until he was practically drowning in them. He would just stare at the screen with Derek’s number and freak out and not be able to make the call. Which is why he decided to go with the much less stressful form of contact: the text.
Yeah. Less stressful his ass. Stiles must have composed and deleted a thousand texts in between when he decided to send one and when he actually managed to send one. He just couldn’t get the tone right. He tried being funny and that just didn’t work. He tried being heartfelt, but that came off as reeking of desperation. He tried going with his gut reaction of confusion but... look, nothing felt right. So in the end he just went with the verbal equivalent of an awkward wave and figured either he would hear something or he wouldn’t.
Stiles has barely slipped the phone into his back pocket when it chimes at him to signal Derek’s response. It’s nothing to write home about, just a plain yes, but it sets Stiles’s heart racing and makes his palms sweat. He types something pointless about how both of them have kept the same number and Derek replies that they are both creatures of habit and just like that they are off.
Sure, it’s just texting. No great romance was ever written about texting, but it’s still so much more than they had before. And, dude, texting with Derek is awesome because Derek always has these cool observations to share or points him in the direction of thought provoking articles or just, you know, tells him about his day and how he’s working on his first novel and how it’s both easier and harder than his picture books and, well, he’s Derek.
There hasn’t been a time in Stiles’s life when Derek just being Derek hasn’t fascinated the shit out of him.
True, there was a long time when that fascination was patched over with anger and hurt, but it was still there. Stiles was still intrigued by the sullen bastard, even when he really wanted to knee him in the balls. And now, when that knee him in the balls reaction is nowhere to be found, well, frankly, Stiles is fanboying Derek something fierce.
Still, even with the dramatically improved situation between them, it ends up being about three weeks before Stiles grows a pair and actually manages to call Derek. The conversation is stilted and awkward and weird-- they end up talking about the impact Disney’s Fantasia has had on American society of, all things-- but it leaves Stiles with this ridiculously huge smile on his face and a fluttery feeling under his chest bone. Because, dude. He talked to Derek. Talked to him. And actually managed to make Derek laugh. He hasn’t heard that in years. And that is a crying shame, because Derek’s laugh is one of the best laughs in the world.
So, yeah. That happens. The talking. And it sort of becomes a thing. A thing where Stiles calls Derek. Like, whenever Stiles is bored or lonely or just wants to, you know, hear the sound of Derek’s voice. Derek does not, however, call Stiles. And that’s... weird. But, then, it’s also Derek. And weird is kind of how the werewolf gods programmed him.
Besides, if Derek didn’t want to talk to him, he wouldn’t take Stiles’s calls, right?
Sometimes Derek can’t believe that this is actually happening, that Stiles is actually talking to him again. It just seems too good to be true, too good to last. Derek doesn’t trust it, doesn’t trust it at all. So he’s... hesitant. Reluctant to do too much, seem too eager. Certain that he’ll say something wrong again, that he’ll chase Stiles off again.
So he holds back when they are talking, god how he holds back. He bites his tongue so fucking much it ought to be constantly bleeding. Derek doesn’t say how happy their conversations make him, doesn’t tell Stiles that speaking to him is the high point of his day. And Derek most definitely doesn’t tell him how much Stiles means to him.
God, he’s not even sure if they are properly friends again. There’s no way in hell he’s going to jump the gun, rush right into love and affection and how damn much he wants to see Stiles again, to hold him, touch him. Feel his warm body pressed tight against Derek’s. He hear his heart beating and smell his scent and Jesus. Derek wants so bad. So much. Too much.
He’s damn lucky he has this, whatever it is. These occasional phone calls, the random texts.
So yeah, he keeps his distance as much as he can. He doesn't blow up Stiles’s phone the way he desperately wants to. Doesn’t press for more from Stiles, though he is starving for any and all details relating to the other man, so damn eager for whatever scraps of information he can get-- from what Stiles ate for breakfast to what song he heard on the ride home from work, Derek wants to know it all.
It’s pathetic how needy he is, how much he wants to be a part of Stiles’s world. How fucking happy he is to have some small place in Stiles’s daily life.
Because, this thing with the phone calls and the texting? It’s nothing, really. Nothing. It’s not even a fucking friendship. There’s nothing special about it. Just... just two people who used to be friends trying to find some way to reconnect or whatever.
Sure, it proof positive that Stiles doesn’t actively hate him anymore, and that is great, that is wonderful, but that’s not the start of a romance. Still, Stiles is actually reaching out to him, wanting to get to know him again, wanting to share his thoughts and opinions. And all that is something that Derek never dreamt possible. Not after everything they’ve been through.
But that doesn’t mean that Stiles will ever want him, not the way Derek wishes he would. Even if things go great, if Derek somehow manges to keep from fucking it all up again, they will probably never be anything more to each other than friends.
And that burns. Oh god, how that burns. Hell, it’s almost worse than not having any contact with Stiles at all. Because someday Stiles is going to meet someone wonderful again. Someday he’s going to fall fucking head long into someone else’s arms. And Derek is going to have to just grit his teeth and smile and fuck.
How is he going to deal with that? How? He can’t turn his back like he did the last time. God, no. Not if he wants to keep what little he has of Stiles’s affection.
No, the best thing to do is to keep his distance. To hold back, like he has been.
Stiles is tired. So fucking tired. His life isn’t terrible or anything. It’s pretty damn good, actually, but... But it’s not what he thought it would be.
He doesn’t hate the City, but it’s never been home to him. He doesn’t hate his job, but he does feel like he could be doing better, giving back more. He isn’t lonely, he’s got more friends than he has time to see. And he isn’t unhappy, not really. Just vaguely disappointed.
And so damn tired of the endless grind of it all.
He wants to go home. Wants to go back to the safe and familiar. But he can’t do that without a job lined up first. And while there have been some positive responses from the schools he’s applied to, there haven’t been any firm job offers yet.
It just feels like he’s sitting around waiting for his life to happen, that he can’t start doing what he wants until all the big picture things have sorted themselves out. And he can’t even set up a timeline for when that will happen, because all those big picture things are based on stuff that is outside of his control.
He just... needs to get a job somewhere closer to Beacon Hills-- closer to home. Once he’s got that, he can figure everything else out.
There’s been a kind of weird edge to Stiles’s communications with him lately. A manic energy that Derek can’t ferret out the root of. He’s been on edge, acting cagey. Not wanting to give Derek even the most basic of details about what’s going on in his life.
He’s mentioned needing a change of scene a couple of times, but not in a ‘hey, wouldn’t it be great to see the world’ kind of way. No, it’s been more of a ‘oh my god, I just want to pack my shit and go’ vibe that Derek’s been sensing. A feeling that Stiles is itching to go somewhere else, be someone else. Start over again with where no one knows his name or has any preconceived notions of who he is.
And that isn’t good. Isn’t good at all.
Stiles isn’t exactly disappointed with how things are progressing between Derek and him. He just... wishes that maybe Derek was a little more interested in him. They are mates and everything, no question about that, but... well... sometimes Stiles gets the vibe that Derek’s just putting up with him, humoring him for whatever reason.
Maybe it’s the lack of any kind of initiation on Derek’s part that’s to blame. Maybe it’s the fact that, while Derek seems more than willing to listen to Stiles ramble on about the minutiae of his life, Derek isn’t all that willing to share details about his own.
And there is the fact that Derek doesn’t seem to be in any great rush to take things to the next level. He’s never so much as hinted at being interested in seeing Stiles face to face. And, yeah, it’s a long drive-- seven hours long-- to get from Beacon Hill to the City, but Derek has made that trek before. Hell, Stiles would be more than willing to road trip it up, if Derek let it slip that he’d like to, you know, see Stiles.
But he doesn’t. And the fact that he doesn’t eats at Stiles a little more each day.
Still, Stiles isn’t complaining too loudly about it. Because even without any grand declarations, or, you know, any real expression of interest in their ever being more than friends, things between them are pretty fucking great. God, it’s more than great. It’s fan-fucking-tastic. Makes him laugh for no reason and whistle in class and has half of his students thinking that he’s slightly unhinged on account of the way he can’t stop smiling.
So yeah. On the surface Stiles is happier than he’s ever been.
But if he digs a little deeper, takes a look at what’s under that blissfully happy exterior, it’s a whole other story. It’s doubts and fears and insecurities. It’s Stiles being downright paranoid, worried that Derek is only putting up with him because of the whole mates thing, that stupid fluke of biology that somehow makes Stiles Derek’s perfect match.
Because... because you can’t fight biology. You can’t. It just is. Whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not.
And, well, if Stiles is honest with himself, he has to admit that he sometimes wishes he wasn’t Derek’s mate. Because then all Derek’s attention might actually mean something. Might be driven by something other than primal instinct or whatever.
He knows it’s stupid, wanting that. That he should be grateful that he’s Derek’s mate, that Derek is paying any attention to him at all.
But he’s not. Because he’s Stiles and he always has to make things difficult for himself. He always has to want what he can never have.
Anyone else would be fucking thankful to be Derek’s mate, to be the one person in the whole world that Derek is instinctively drawn to, that Derek needs on a primal level. Anyone else would be pleased as punch, thrilled to death. Not whining to himself about how he wishes it was some aspect of who he is-- his personality, his charm or his wit or his unique point of view-- that’s driving Derek’s interest in him.
Derek is starting to sense that Stiles isn’t just dissatisfied with his life, he’s dissatisfied with Derek as well. He’s never come out and said it, but it’s there. A tightness in his voice, the way their conversations seem to lag, the sighs that Stiles lets out when Derek gives a concise answer to one of Stiles’s questions.
That, coupled with the overall unhappiness Stiles has been projecting, is enough to make Derek’s blood run cold and his wolf whimper. Because he’s losing him, damn it. Derek is fucking losing him. Again.
And he has no idea how to stop it.
So... remember how Stiles applied for a position as a history teacher at Beacon Hills High? And remember how he thought he would never get it, because, you know, there’s this thing called memories and people sort of have them? And Stiles and memories and high school are not things that generally inspire confidence and trust?
Well, turns out, people in Beacon Hills don’t have memories after all. Because the school board has just sent him an offer letter that Stiles is not about to turn down.
Thing is, though, Stiles coming back to Beacon Hills isn’t going to just be a piece of cake. Or, at least, he doesn’t think it’s going to be. Because, um, Derek. Things are just... off with him. They aren’t terrible or anything, just... off. Awkward. Their conversations don’t have a natural flow any more. Things are so stilted. Forced. There’s an edge of desperation to them now, in a way that there wasn’t a few months ago.
So, yeah. Stiles is a bit concerned about moving back to Beacon Hills, even though moving back to Beacon Hills is something he’s been wanting to do since pretty much the moment he moved away.
Things with Derek shouldn’t be off to the point that, even though they are talking a couple of times a week, Stiles still doesn't feel comfortable mentioning something as important as his upcoming relocation. And while some of that is on Derek, most of it is on Stiles. No question about it. Because Stiles has let things escalate to this extreme, has been unwilling to clarify what, exactly, they are to each other out of fear of not liking the answer he is given.
The end result of which is that he’s still isn’t clear on where Derek stands on the whole mates thing. Like, yeah, they are mates. That’s sort of a given. But... what does that mean to Derek? Does Derek even like Stiles? Because, aside from the occasional laugh and a couple of almost fond comments, Derek doesn’t really ever say that he actually enjoys Stiles’s company. He just sort of... endures it?
Like, he doesn’t hate it or anything. But... there’s a whole hell of a difference between not hating something and loving it. And Stiles has never, not once, got the impression that Derek loves him at all. Sure, Derek called him his partner and all, but things that Derek has let slip since then have made it seem like he did that more out of self-preservation than anything else. Sure, they are mates, but mating isn’t about love. Mating is a biological urge that occurs when a werewolf meets the person who best compliments them on a primal level or whatever. And Derek hasn’t ever really expressed any pleasure in the fact that, on a primal level anyway, Stiles is the one who best suits what Derek needs.
Not that any of that really matters. Because... biology. You can’t really fight it.
But... But Stiles wants it to be more than that. God, he wants it to be so much more. He doesn’t want to just be something that nature picked out for Derek, the best fit of the possible choices. He wants to be important on his own merits. Wants Derek to want him. To love him, if he’s honest.
Which is ridiculous and about as logical as wanting Derek to lasso the moon. But... the heart wants what it wants or whatever. And what Stiles’s heart wants is Derek to love him. Nothing more, nothing less.
And Stiles is sick and tired of sitting on his hands, waiting around for Derek to realize that. Which means that Stiles is going to have to stop hoping and wishing and praying and actually take matters into his own hands, show Derek how fucking awesome Stiles is.
Problem is, Stiles isn’t actually sure how to go about making that happen. It’s not like he can just log onto Amazon and buy a copy of The Mating Habits of the Domesticated North American Werewolf or anything.
But something tells Stiles that taking a chance, making a move towards actually dating might be a good first step.
Derek hasn’t been sure what’s been going on between him and Stiles for a while now, and he’s not exactly okay with it, but he’s been making it work. Sure, it sucks not knowing what Stiles wants from him, not even knowing if Stiles wants anything from him at all, but he is still interacting with Stiles on a fairly regular basis and Derek counts that as a win. So he while he’s not cool with not knowing why Stiles keeps texting him or why Stiles will call him three times in one day and then not again for a week, he’s not pitching a fit over it either. Because it doesn’t really matter why it is happening, so long as it is.
But this... this doesn’t make sense at all. Even with the confusing shit that’s been going on between, this is in a league of its own.
Because this is a request for a date.
No two ways about it.
Derek scowls at the flat piece of cardstock in his hand, turning it over and over like that will make its meaning more clear.
Derek sighs and reads the note again, his brow furrowing.
Let’s do lunch is too corporate and let’s do dinner is too filled with innuendo, so let’s do coffee instead. Tuesday at three at That Coffee Shop? Please say yes.
Definitely a date, right?
Stiles gets to That Coffee Shop a good forty-five minutes early because he is a spaz. He doesn't order a drink or food or anything because, seriously, Derek doesn't need to know how early he was and if there is a half eaten plate of food in front of him, then the jig is up.
He settles himself into a comfy chair instead and pulls out his Kindle to get a little reading in. Because reading and coffee shops go together like a hand in a glove. Only problem is, he's kind of too keyed up to actually pay attention to the words on the screen. He shifts in his seat, taps his fingers on his legs and watches as the minutes slowly tick by.
When it's five minutes to, he slides his Kindle back into his bag and fishes out his phone instead. And that's how Derek finds him, when he shows up three minutes later, his hair still damp from a shower and his face actually smooth shaven for once.
Stiles has this ridiculous urge to run his hand along Derek's jaw line, just to see what it feels like. Then another, even more ridiculous urge to trace that same path with his tongue. The thought of giving in to that second urge is enough to short circuit the processing center of Stiles's brain, which is why the first words out of his mouth aren’t hey there Derek or good to see you or so glad you came, but instead do you love me?
The words ring in Derek's ears, buzzing through him like an electric current.
For a moment Derek can't do anything but stare at Stiles in shock because A: did he really just ask that? and B: did he really just ask that?
Yeah, he really did. And he's clearly expecting an answer, from the way he's sitting on his hands and biting at his lips and the musky smell of confusion and hope that is rolling off him in waves.
Derek runs a hand down his face and tries not to growl because shouldn't that answer be clear by now? Shouldn't this be a basic thing that both of them already know? Of course Derek loves him. Derek's been in love with him since forever. Or, more accurately, since that first summer they spent together after Derek became Alpha and put his wolfpack of misfit toys together. But when Derek opens his mouth, nothing comes out.
The words twist themselves up in his head, wrapping around each other until nothing makes sense. God, why is it always so hard to actually say what he feels? Why is it that the words just pour out of him when there is pen and paper involved, but get tangled up in knots when he tries to fucking speak?
He lets out a whine of frustration and digs his fingers into his hair. Stiles half rises from his chair, eyes filled with concern and a half outstretched, but Derek gives a rough shake of his head and Stiles sinks back down.
Stiles squirms a bit in his seat, muttering something about it not being a hard question under his breath and Derek just laughs. Oh god, how he laughs.
He only stops laughing when he hears the words this was a mistake. His throat goes dry at that because no. No. Damnit. Why does this always happen? Why does he always do exactly the wrong thing?
Stiles pops to his feet, shoving his phone into his pocket and reaching down for his bag. His face is covered in unhappiness, his mouth a tight line and no. Not this time.
Derek burst into action, tearing Stiles’s bag from his hand and tossing it down into his vacated chair. Stiles gapes at him, eyes darting from Derek to the bag and back again. He puts his hands up defensively, anger creeping into his expression and fucking no to that too.
No to everything that isn't the two of them sitting down and working their all their fucking drama once and for all.
Derek's a second away from wolfing out right there in the middle of That Coffee Shop and no.
He growls, low in this throat and does the only thing he can do: grab hold of Stiles, tug him close, and kiss him until all thoughts about leaving fly right out of the younger man's head.
Kissing is good.
Really fucking good.
Kissing can just keep on happening, as far as Stiles is concerned. Because, god, Derek’s mouth. It ought to come with a fucking warning label or something because it is deadly as fuck. And his hands, the way they press into Stiles’s hips like a brand, fingers clenching with just the right amount of pressure. And his tongue and teeth and holy fucking shit.
Derek is sucking on Sitles tongue.
Stiles lets out a moan that would be embarrassing as hell if he weren't, you know, in the middle of the best makeout session of his life. He cants his hips towards Derek, desperate for friction because frottage is hot as hell and he's dying for some of that right now.
But then there is this really loud, really pointed throat clearing coming from somewhere and a hand, an actual hand, coming down on Stiles's shoulder and wow. Did Derek's eyes really just flash red? Did he really just bare his fangs and roar? Oh god. That's no bueno at all.
Stiles jerks away from Derek's embrace, spins around and starts babbling about Halloween costumes and cool tricks and the manager, because that's what his name tag lists him as, stops cringing and starts agreeing about how awesome Derek's fangs are. Which... yeah. The kid is lying through his teeth, but at least he's not trying to get between Derek and Stiles any more and that is good.
Derek is still growling, though, and probably still sorta wolfed out, since the kid isn't asking where the fangs went or anything like that. So Stiles fumbles behind him, reaching for Derek's hands. What he finds is Derek's forearm, but that works too. He gives it a reassuring squeeze and tells the kid that they will just be taking their business elsewhere and then hurries Derek out the door to do just that.
They get as far as the alley behind That Coffee Shop, then Derek’s shoving Stiles up against the wall and pressing up tight against him, face buried in the crook of Stiles’s neck. And, fuck. When did scenting become one of Stiles’s kinks?
Probably about the time licking around fangs did.
Stiles is pretty damn happy right now, so who the fuck cares that his kinks have taken a sharp turn to the left? And thank god that they have, because now Derek is licking and snuffling at his neck and it’s making Stiles ache. He moans, deep and low, his hands coming up to clutch at Derek’s shoulders.
And Derek must really like that because he’s crowding even closer, rocking his hips into Stiles’s and letting out these super hot whimpers while he worries at Stiles’s collarbone and fuck. That’s teeth. Bitting down hard.
Stiles’s whole world sort of whites out at that and when he comes back down he’s faced with startling realization that he’s just come in his pants from a bite.
And now Stiles is all sticky in his jeans which is totally going to lead to chafing if they end up walking any distance. And, also, totally makes having a, you know, conversation awkward as hell because... hi. I just jizzed myself but please ignore that and tell me all about your feelings. Ahahahaha. No.
Derek's licking at the bite mark now, and it feels real nice, but the wall is hard and Stiles is sort of panicking and really, really wants to change his clothes, so he squeezes Derek's shoulder and asks if Derek wants to take this party to Stiles's hotel. He's expecting a quick agreement, so it takes him a second to realize that Derek has gritted out no. And, um, why the fuck not?
He asks Derek as much, pushing a little at his chest, but Derek just snarls at him, his eyes flashing red and his fangs dropping down. He growls and pushes Stiles's head back, making Stiles stretch his neck. Then he growls again and bites down just as hard as he did earlier, but this time Stiles isn't high on dopamine and the bite? It really fucking hurts.
Stiles yelps and shoves at Derek, trying to get him off already. And maybe he starts running his mouth a bit. Maybe he calls Derek an insensitive dick and tells him to back the fuck off. Maybe that happens.
And maybe that makes Derek whimper in a way that tugs at Stiles’s heart. Maybe Derek moves faster than Stiles can process, putting a good two feet of space between them. Maybe Derek just stands there, staring at Stiles like a starving man looking at a feast he's been told he can't have.
I understand, he says, his voice raw and filled with hurt. He closes his eyes and lets out another one of those whimpering sounds, his hands curling into fists.
And, no, he fucking doesn't understand. Clearly he doesn't. Not if he thinks that Stiles is turning him away.
Stiles glares at him, then crosses the space between them to jab him hard in the chest.
Don't be a stupid fucking martyr, he snaps.
Then they are kissing again and yes.
This time it's sweet and tender and Derek keeps whispering about how much he loves Stiles, how precious Stiles is and how much Derek wants to keep him
And Stiles’s response to that is a very, very heartfelt yes indeed.
Being this close to Stiles is turning Derek back into an out of control pup. All he wants to do is claim and mark and god, the way Stiles smells right now, like happiness and sex and most of all, like Derek. Because Derek's scent is all over him now, blending in perfectly with that sweet, spicy smell that is Stiles alone.
And the way he looks, completely ravaged with bite marks up and down his neck, his lips puffy and swollen from kisses, a blissed out expression on his face and that beautiful, beautiful wet patch at the crotch of his jeans.
God, that wet patch. Solid fucking proof that Stiles liked it, got fucking off on it, when Derek marked him. Derek's fingers keep finding their way down to it, brushing across it to prove that it is actually there. Each time he does, Stiles sorts of jerks and whimpers and sucks at his lips and damn. It's enough to make Derek want to drop to his knees and just rub his face all over it.
Which... not really a good thing, seeing as how they are out in public and not safe in Derek's den.
His den. Yes. That's where they need to be, not in an alleyway where anyone could sneak up on them, or in a rented room in a hotel that will smell like a thousand strangers and cheap, meaningless sex. That’s not where he wants his first time with his mate to be.
No. Their first time should be in his den, where Derek knows they will be safe, where the only scent Stiles’s skin will pick up with be Derek’s. God, the thought of it is making Derek’s blood run hot, making his wolf want to break free.
He wants rub his fucking face all over Stiles body, make him reek of Derek and sex. But Derek can’t do that until he is somewhere he knows his mate will be safe. Which is why they need to go to his den right fucking now so he can strip off Stiles's clothes and lay him out on his bed and yes. That's what needs to happen.
He tells Stiles as much and Stiles's eyes darken in a way that makes Derek's wolf howl with satisfaction, but he shakes his head and starts nattering on about needing to talk.
And, yes, they do. They really do. But right now? Talking is pretty much the last thing Derek wants to do. Unless it's talking about how good he's going to make Stiles feel, how he's going to make you mine, which draws a very satisfying whimper out of the other man, but doesn't get him to change his mind.
Stiles shakes his head again and says something about cleaning up and calming down and meeting for dinner at The Junction, which just happens to be Derek's favorite local restaurant. And normally Derek would be all over that, because their open faced meatloaf sandwiches are the stuff dreams are made of, but right now he would rather gnaw off his own leg than sit across a table from Stiles and not be able to touch him because they are in public.
Stiles laughs a little at that, says that Derek is doing wonders for his ego, but then sobers and tells Derek that either they can have this conversation at The Junction, which, by the way includes meatloaf sandwiches and face to face interaction, or they can have it on the phone. But either way, the conversation is happening and happy sexy times are not.
Derek growls a little, his wolf definitely not pleased about letting his mate out of his sight, but then Stiles is laughing again and tugging him close for a kiss and telling him not to worry, that Stiles won't change his mind.
Words stop mattering then, everything stops mattering. Everything except the way Stiles's hands feel in his hair and taste of Stiles lips and those sweet, open-mouthed kisses the other man is giving him.
Stiles was right, walking in come-soaked jeans did chafe. Which is why proper grown ups don't do that shit. But, um, yeah. Stiles dares anyone, anyone to get all hot and heavy in a semi-public area with the likes of Derek Hale and not end up doing an awkward limp of shame afterwards.
Thankfully, it doesn't take that long to get back to his hotel, which he is staying at because, no thanks dad, I'm not staying in my old room with that tacky ass snowboarder on the wall, what the hell was I thinking and why haven't you redecorated?
Once he's back in his hotel room he strips, tosses his soiled things into a corner and then climbs into a deliciously hot bath. Because soaking in a bath makes everything all better. Especially when there is chafing involved.
The bath clears his head of all the latent werewolf pheromones, which, p.s., are pretty damn potent. No wonder Allison was willing to take a stance against her family back in the day. Well, that and they were crazy as hell. But, whatever, not really relevant right now. What matters now is that Stiles has a clear head and a pen and some hotel stationary. And that means that Stiles can make himself a nice little bullet point list of what, exactly, he needs to cover with Derek during their one on one this evening.
He wraps himself up in a robe, sets himself at the rickety desk and taps his lips with a pen. Then he smiles, scribbles down a title and starts writing in earnest.
1. Stiles is not a werewolf, so things that instinctively make sense to werewolves don't always make sense to Stiles.
This is important. Really, really important. Because Derek can't just do things, like, oh, completely cutting Stiles out of his life for wanting to date someone other than Derek, and think that it will be alright. Because it's not. Stuff like that is super hurtful and not cool at all. And you know what else isn't cool? Being creepily possessive. Which leads to bullet point number two.
2. Stiles is allowed to have friends.
Lots of friends. Who might get a little handsy in a friendly-type way. That needs to be okay. No wolfing out because Stiles went out for drinks and someone hung all over him while they made asses of themselves at Karaoke.
There are to be no incidents where Derek starts ranting about eviscerating mate-stealing-stomachs, thank you very much. One conversation with a werewolf gone googly-eyed with jealousy is more than enough for Stiles's lifetime.
3. Are there any freaking mating rituals that Stiles should be aware of?
Pretty self explanatory, that.
4. Do werewolves have knots???
Well, that's kind of an important thing to know. Not that it would be a total dealbreaker if they do, just, um, look. There is some freaky shit on the internet and it's not like Stiles can ask Scott or anything. Although Scott would probably be super happy to overshare about it if Stiles did. Anyway, not the point. The point is, if Derek does have a knot, Stiles wants to know about it upfront, okay? They can figure out the logistics of the thing from there.
5. Does Derek want babies? And, if so, does he want to adopt or go the surrogate mother route?
Very important question here. Because Stiles has already had one relationship blow up in his face on account of babies. Okay, not solely on account of babies, but still. It factored in. And, besides, Derek ought to be aware of the fact that Stiles wants a house full of rugrats.
6. What roles does an Alpha's mate play in the pack?
Is Stiles about to become Den Mother? Or... what?
7. Is there a So You've Mated A Werewolf handbook somewhere out there?
Stiles really, really hopes there is. But something tells him he hopes in vain.
Derek isn't nervous. He's terrified. Because this is it. This is the moment they have been building towards for the last eight months. Or, roughly, the last nine and a half years, depending on how you want to look at it.
Showering doesn't help calm him down. Neither does picking out his outfit, which he was only able to do after a panicked phone call to Lydia, loathe though he is to admit it. Jesus. Derek finally understands all those ridiculous getting ready for date scenes in movies, not that he ever wanted to, but now he does. Those activities only take up an hour, though, and he's still got two more to go. So he paces his room, back and forth and back and forth, as he tries to come up with all the reasons Stiles ought to say yes to this, to them.
Unfortunately, he also comes up with all the reasons Stiles should say no.
Guess which list is longer? And which one has better reasons on it? And which one Derek is convinced Stiles will be most swayed by?
Yeah. It's the no.
Because Derek's a bit of a dick at the best of times and a complete ass the rest of the time. He snores and he hogs the covers and he has cold feet. He eats a sickening amount of red meat and drinks cheap American beer. He leaves wet towels on the floor and hates washing dishes. He has two drawers full of underwear because that means he can go two months without having to do his laundry. In short, he's a bit of a pig.
So, just to recap, he's a dickish asshole who has a semi-clean house and mostly dirty clothes.
And that's just the superficial reasons why Stiles won't want to have him around.
He's also bad at telling people how he feels. Really, really bad at that. And he takes his frustration out on those who are around him. He doesn't like doing what other people consider romantic things, hates Valentine's Day on principle, and tends to forget important dates. He’s a bit selfish and more than a bit pigheaded. He's the Alpha and use to using force to get his way. He doesn't like compromising and hates admitting he's wrong and who the fuck is he kidding? Stiles is never going to agree to date him, let alone be his mate. Not with all of his lovely character traits and his past record of hurting Stiles every fucking times he gets close to him.
And, fuck, Derek has to face the fact that he’ll probably do it again. That he’ll say the wrong thing at the wrong time and fuck things up to hell and back. Or he’ll do something inconsiderate, forget something important. Jesus, he’s shit at making things work, at smoothing down ruffled feathers or soothing wounded pride.
All of which means that even if Derek could somehow convince Stiles to give him a chance, odds are that Stiles won't stick around for long. And won't that be worse? Having actually had Stiles in his life the way Derek has always wanted him and then losing him? Having Stiles say thanks but no thanks and then walking away?
Derek's gut starts to cramp and his wolf bays. Because this is it. This is his chance and it's already blown to shit before it even really has a chance to start.
Derek's late. Like, really late. As in, they were supposed to meet at seven and now it's pushing eight and there hasn't been a call or a text or anything.
Stiles checks his phone again reflexively, just in case he missed something, but the result is the same.
Well. That sucks.
Stiles draws in a breath and tells himself that it doesn't matter. It was a stupid idea anyway. They don't work together. They never have.
He bites his lip and fiddles with the edge of his menu, glancing out the windows, hoping to see a familiar silhouette hurrying towards him. He doesn't.
The waitress who has been refilling the water he's been nursing gives him a sympathetic look and pats his shoulder as she passes by, and fuck.
That's it. He's done. Stiles swallows back a lump in his throat and gathers up his wallet and phone. He starts to slide out of the booth, his stomach feeling like it's been coated with ice. He keeps his eyes on his feet as he makes his way towards the exit, not wanting to see any more pitying looks from the tender-hearted staff.
Stiles is almost to the door when he hears a low growl, feels hands close tightly around his upper arms. He jerks his head up and there is Derek, all but snarling in his face, his eyes flickering between hazel and red. Stiles sucks in a breath, not sure if he wants to curse Derek out for making him wait or kiss him silly for actually showing up.
The choice is taken away from him by Derek, who yanks Stiles towards him, a hand coming up to cup the back of Stiles's head possessively as he angles their mouths together.
Okay, so that first make out session wasn't a fluke. Wasn't a fluke at all. Stiles is ridiculously hard and in danger of having a repeat of this afternoon's sorry performance and, as lovely as the orgasm was, Stiles is in no rush for another walk of shame. So he drags himself away from Derek's seriously fucking additive mouth and tries not to pant as he suggests that they head back to the booth he so recently vacated.
At first Derek looks like he's going to object, but then he just tightens his jaw and nods, letting Stiles lead him back to their table.
The looks that Stiles gets as they walk back, by the way, are exactly the opposite of pitying.
That's right, ladies. Eat your hearts out. Because Stiles has got himself one fine-ass wolfman.
Or, um, at least he will. If all goes well. And Stiles doesn't say something to fuck it all up.
He sucks on his bottom lip as Derek slides into the booth across from him. He takes a steadying breath, then pulls out his wallet, flips it open, and removes the folded piece of hotel stationery inside. Without saying a word, he unfolds it and passes it across the table. Derek gives him a questioning look as he takes it, but Stiles just shakes his head, not willing to answer any questions until he has to.
Derek stares at the paper in his hand, not taking any of it in. His mind still not processing much more than the fact that Stiles was leaving when he got there. Which, admittedly, was mostly Derek's fault, seeing as he had a last minute breakdown. A breakdown that involved him freaking the fuck out and convincing himself that it was better not to even try, to just let things slide. But then Lydia showed up at his door and chewed his ass out and told him to stop being such a fucking idiot, to get over his fucking past and go for what he wanted. That there was no guarantee that things would work out between them, but that Derek would regret it his whole fucking life if it didn’t at least try.
And, damn it all to hell, she was right.
Derek had given her a tight hug, then rushed out to his car. He wasn’t even very late, at that point. He wouldn’t have arrived at seven on the dot, but he would have been there by no later than seven-fifteen. Except when he got into his car, it fucking decided to not start and then he had to fuck around under the hood and get oil all over his hands and arms and carefully selected outfit so then he had to waste even more time washing himself and changing into the first thing he found and god fucking damn it.
This is exactly what always happens to him. He never catches a break. Never.
His vision starts to flicker and his jaw starts to ache, but then Stiles is whispering something soothing to him and sliding his hand across the table to wrap around Derek's wrists, thumb rubbing at the back of Derek's hand.
You okay? he asks, his eyes filled with concern. Derek nods, then laughs bitterly and shakes his head. Stiles gives him another concerned look and asks if Derek wants to talk about it and no Derek doesn't but he wants this relationship to work more than he doesn't want to share so, he sets the paper down and takes the other man's hands in his own.
He keeps his voice low, because just because he's willing to dish it all out to Stiles doesn't mean he wants everyone else in the diner to hear them, and lets it all come out. Once he’s started, he can’t seem to stop, babbling about his car and the mess and how things never seem to go his way, even when he really wants to. And, because this is his life, he starts talking about how he tried to make a list of all the reasons Stiles should give him a chance but could only come up with reasons why he shouldn’t. Finally, finally, his common sense kicks in and Derek stutters to a halt.
He stares down at the table, their joined hands just barely in his field of vision, and waits for Stiles to tell him that this was all a mistake. That he’s done some thinking and realizes that Derek will never be the one for him.
Stiles can feel a laugh bubbling up inside him and has to fight to stifle it because, dude. Derek would so not respond to nervous laughter right now. Not after he just listing his Top Hundred Reasons Why He Is A Very Bad Man That No One Could Ever Love (TM). Which is epic bullshit, by the way. Sure, he's an emotionally constipated fuck and needs to learn to use his words every once and awhile so that he doesn't waste nearly ten years of his life pining after someone who has been in love with him all along, but Derek is not a Very Bad Man at all. He's kind of exactly the opposite, thanks. And Stiles is pretty much the luckiest guy on the planet because Derek loves him.
He manages not to laugh, just barely, but he can't help the dopey besotted smile on his face, the way he squeezes Derek's hand, or the squeak of pure joy that escapes him. Though, god, he really wish he could have not done that last one. Squeaking isn't sexy. Or manly. Or, you know, in any way desirable. But Derek seems to be down with letting the squeaking pass unacknowledged, because he's cool like that. Stiles sort of stares at him all swoony for a bit, then shakes his head and asks Derek if he even bothered looking at the list Stiles had handed him.
Derek blushes, and it's adorable-- Stiles is going to have to see that again-- then shakes his head and mumbles something about being too distracted for anything to make sense. Which, really. If the man had only read the stupid thing, he wouldn't have gotten so worked up that felt the need to confesses his every sin to Stiles.
Stiles gives him a fond, only sorta exasperated look, then drops one of his hands to push the paper back towards Derek. Derek frowns at him as he picks it up, then snorts and shakes his head and Stiles feels his smile growing wider.
Things I Need To Know To Survive Being In Love With (And Mate!! Of) Derek Hale he reads, his voice bemused and his eyes twinkling.
Stiles nods and makes a keep reading motion, because the point is to get answers to his questions, damn it. And Derek must keep on reading, because he huffs out a laugh and squints at Stiles and says Mating rituals? Really, Stiles? Like Stiles is being a freak for thinking that there might be some kinky werewolf traditions in his future.
Derek’s eyebrows climb up his face as he reads the next one, then he snorts and tosses the paper down, a smile lighting his face up like magic.
Stiles bites his lip to keep from babbling about how amazing a smile like that makes Derek look, and Derek reaches out, touches Stiles lower lip with the pad of his thumb and tugs it free from his teeth. His eyes are dark with something that sends shivers down Stiles’s spine and a murmurs low about how much Stiles doing that makes him want to do this. Then he’s leaning forward, hand fisting in Stiles shirt, dragging him down for a kiss.
They don't kiss for nearly long enough, but Stiles is still left slightly breathless when they break apart.
Do we have to stay for dinner? Derek asks, his voice all low and gravel-y, and no. No, they do not. They can just change their order to To Go and get the hell out of there as soon as possible.
Which is exactly what they do.
Derek wraps his arms around Stiles's waist and buries his face in the other man's neck, breathing in the scent of him. He's babbling on, talking about the finals and summer vacations and other things that Derek is sure are important, but not as important as him saving the exact combination of smells Stiles is putting off to memory.
Because there is only one first time and Derek wants to remember every detail of theirs.
Stiles's voice is getting soft, yawns peppering his words. He turns towards Derek on the bed, tangles his hands in Derek's hair and pulls their heads together for a sleepy kiss. I love you, he mumbles against Derek's lips, before breathing a contented sigh.
Derek's arms squeeze tighter and his heart speeds up because there is another first to check off his list. And suddenly he's the one that's babbling, saying all sorts of foolish things about how precious Stiles is to him, how very dear. He's calling Stiles his mate, his love, his all, and Stiles is responding by producing the most delicious smells. Happiness, contentment, comfort, safety, and love. And under it all, that sweet, spicy scent that is Stiles alone, the smell Derek has long since associated with home.
Derek's good mood evaporates instantly and he lets out a growl because his home and Stiles’s are hundreds of miles apart and that won't fucking do at all.
Stiles squirms in his arms, asking Derek's what's wrong. His voice is tight with concern, his body filled with tension. Derek soothes him as best he can, running a hand from hip to flank and back again, while telling him that he just realized how displeasing the thought of a long distance relationship is.
And, damn it. There Stiles goes talking about not giving up yet, about giving them time to work something out and no.. That's not what he meant. Not what he meant at all.
Don't be stupid, he grits out. I'm moving up north, with you..
The pack can come with him or not, doesn't matter to him. Nothing matters except being with Stiles, who seems to find the whole situation hilarious, as he bursts out laughing.
About that... he says, nuzzling against Derek again. Then he's talking about the way life sometimes works out and a teaching position at Beacon Hills High and would you look at that?
Looks like Derek finally caught a break in his life.
I realized that I don't really want to worry about posting this tomorrow before leaving for my vacation. So here. Have part four two days early. But! Remember that I will be out of town with no internet access until very late on Sunday which might push back the release of the final chapter... Hopefully not, though. Hopefully I will see you all back here next Saturday (7/7/12) for the dramatic conclusion. <3
Chapter 5: Part Five
The kiddies romp around like the monsters they are, crawling all over them as if Derek and Stiles are their personal jungle gyms. Derek growls half-heartedly at them, telling them to stay still, to stop fighting over the popcorn and to at least pretend to watch the movie, but Stiles can tell that Derek’s just as pleased to be there as he is.
Later, when the movie is over and the children are tucked in their beds, Derek pulls Stiles close, buries his face in the crook of Stiles’s neck and breaths deep.
I love you he whispers, his lips ghosting across Stiles’s skin a second before he bites.
The working title for this chapter was "Epilogue Of FULL ON FLUFF AND LOVE." Consider yourselves warned.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ten years later...
Even though Derek has been in love with Stiles for nearly half his life, he still finds it difficult to tell his mate how much he means to him.
This isn’t normally a problem for them. Stiles knows him well enough to hear it without Derek having to say the words. Stiles knows why Derek wraps him in his arms, rubbing his face against Stiles’s throat. He understands why Derek wants to hold him tight, to press up next to him. And he’s not even very eye-rolly anymore when the mailman drops off a letter from Derek-- nevermind that they live together and are rarely apart-- because Stiles gets that while Derek can’t find the way to say what he feels, he can always find exactly the right words if he’s writing them. Hell, Stiles has even stopped being vaguely uncomfortable when exactly the right words amount to little more than an eroitc love letter to Stiles’s personal bits.
Though it probably helps that Derek no longer feels the urge to write those kinds of letters on the back of postcards.
Stiles getting his stupid, inarticulate, emotionally constipated self isn’t going to work this time, because Stiles is just as romantic at thirty-six as he was at sixteen and Derek still wants to do right by him.
And a ten year anniversary... well, that’s something you really don’t want to fuck up.
It hurts when I think about you, so far away from me. It tears at my insides, makes me want to tip my head back and howl. God, Stiles, the way I feel about you. I can’t fight it back, can’t make it stop. I know you don’t want to be around me anymore. I know that I hurt you too much, that I broke something precious and will probably never be able to get it back again.
I love you.
I love that stupid red hoodie you insist on wearing, even though I’ve told you a million times it’s not ironic at all. I love how you talk with your hands, how you can never stand still, even when you really, really need to. I love your scent, the fresh, clean smell of you. I love your hair-- yes, I know you hate it-- but I love it, the way it bushes out around your head when you let it grow.
I love your laugh. Your easy, open manner. The way you always know just want to say to break me out of a funk. I love the way you smile when you’re annoyed with me, the way your eyes flash when you think I’ve done something dumb. You’ve got this way of looking at me, like I’m equal parts amusing and infuriating.
God, what I wouldn’t give to see you smile at me like that. Like you still care about me.
I’m sorry, Stiles. I know it’s too little too late. I know I ruined everything, that I pushed you away when I should have held you tight. I hear that you’re happy now, making a life for yourself in the city. And I’m... god, why lie? You’re never even going to see this. So why not tell the truth, for once?
I’m not happy for you. I’m not. I hate it. I hate that you can just pack our history up in boxes and put it away on some shelf. I hate that you can move on, can be content in a life without me. Because I’ll never be content without you. I’ll never stop missing you, wishing you were here.
God fucking damn it, Stiles.
It hurts so much, when I think of you, knowing that you are so far away from me now. Knowing that I’ll never have you near.
Stiles knows that Derek’s got something up his sleeve. Something big. He's been extra secretive lately, shutting his door when he's in his office, ducking out of the room to take calls, and actually missing one of Dee's tee-ball games. Which... is not normal behavior.
Stiles isn't insecure or anything. He's not worried about his mate cheating on him, that’s a problem they long ago sorted out between the two of them, but it does make his skin tingle, the way Derek's been acting. Makes him want to break out his old research skills, figure out what the hell is going on.
But it's not pack related. And Stiles has long since promised he would only investigate things that were pack related. And only when he has his Alpha's permission and the support of the whole pack. Which, Jesus. Nearly die one time and people-- read Derek and the rest of his insane wolf pack-- never let it go.
God, he wasn't even in the hospital that long.
Still, a promise is a promise and Stiles has the kids-- Ladybug, Haley, and Dee-- to think of nowadays. So he doesn't crack his knuckles and get down to work. But he does keep his ears open and his eyes peeled, because his sourwolf isn't nearly as crafty a beast as he thinks he is.
Nothing can compare to being with you, just laying next to you in bed, listening to your heartbeat as you dream. The way your skin feels, pressed tight against mine, your warmth sinking into me, your breath hot on my neck.
Being able to touch you, actually touch you, after so long apart, makes my inner wolf want to howl a love song at the moon.
It's stupid and cliche, saying that you complete me. The words have next to no meaning. But they are the best that I have. When you put your hand in mine, flashing one of your cheeky smiles with your eyes dancing and mischief just pouring off of you in waves... It makes me feel alive in ways I can't explain. Before you I was hollow inside, like an empty house, waiting for someone to come and fill it up with warmth and happiness and love. Waiting for you, my love. Only you. For your laugh and your smile and your hand in mine, tugging me along in your wake, letting me share this life with you.
Do you know what you mean to me? Can you ever know?
You ask me why I write endlessly to you, even though you live with me now, spend almost every waking hour in my presence. "Why are you writing to me, when I'm sitting right here?" you pout, your voice so exasperated, though your eyes are fond. And I just shrug and keep on writing. Because how else am I supposed to tell you how I feel? How else can I express my eternal love and devotion?
Stiles keeps giving him long, questioning looks. Looks that don't bode well for Derek's peace of mind. But that's the thing about a secret anniversary gift. It has to stay secret. So Stiles is just going to have to deal.
But Derek doesn’t like it. The way Stiles hesitates before nodding when Derek tells him he needs to go out of town. The way his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes. It reminds him too much of how things use to be, of the reasons why they are only celebrating ten years together, instead of twenty.
Derek's gut cramps at the thought that Stiles might be worried about him, about his intentions.
Did I ever tell you why Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite children's book?
It's because of you.
It's because of you and the idea that something can be wild, completely untamed, but still loved enough to deserve a supper, even when in the wrong. It's the thought of you letting me rage and scream and exorcise my demons as best I see fit. Of the way you never judge, just wrap your arms around me and hold me close.
Even before I had you fully, when this thing between us was just a hope I held tight in my chest, it was still you. When they would ask me, those mothers at my readings, I would smile and picture your face and answer Where the Wild Things Are. Because I was the wild thing and you were my Max. But now I am Max and you... are my supper, still warm. You are my fear and you are my comfort, all rolled into one.
God, is this even making any sense at all?
It's late, going on two in the morning, and you are holding our littlest girl in your arms, crooning to her as you rock her. And I know, I just know, that you are going to curl up next to me on the couch and ask me to read to the pair of you. You'll say it soothes her, but really it's your nerves that need the soothing. Our sweet baby girl is such a fussy thing, far more so than Laura or Genim ever were, and it worries you, wears you out, listening to her cries. So you'll ask me to read and I'll pull out the battered copy of my favorite book and you'll roll your eyes and tell me that I've read it a thousand times and I'll just snap my teeth at you and growl, which will make you roll your eyes more, but smile while you're doing it and then you will settle in close, the baby propped between us and I'll read to the both of you.
And if you watch me, my love, you will see it. The way I look at you-- and only you-- while I "read" my favorite story of them all.
Stiles doesn't tell Derek he's being ridiculous because he's pretty sure Derek already knows. So Stiles just sighs a put upon sigh and lets himself be blindfolded without saying a word.
He does laugh, however, when the blindfold comes off and he's in the empty front room of what use to be That Coffee Shop, but is now some trendy hookah-slash-wine bar. It’s a terrible fit for Beacon Hills, if Stiles is any judge, and will probably go the way of the dinosaurs within a couple of months, but that's not the point. The point is that Derek has clearly paid someone off to let him use the place after hours and has set up a small corner with two comfy chairs and a coffee table, complete with coffee, snacks and a large, leather bound book.
Stiles's heart does a little jump in his chest because this, clearly, is what all those closed doors and secretive phone calls were all about.
He gives Derek a besotted smile and then an equally besotted kiss and tells him that he loves him to the stars above and back again.
Derek laughs, his arms wrapping around Stiles's waist. He buries his face in Stiles's hair, breathes in deep, and then lets out a contented sigh.
He tells Stiles to take a seat, that he's got something to show him and Stiles smiles so wide he's surprised his face doesn't split open. He lets Derek lead him to the chairs, settles himself in the one on the right and looks expectantly around for his gift.
Derek sucks on his bottom lip, a nervous expression flitting across his face before he wipes it blank. He leans down and picks up the leather bound book, runs a finger over the emblem stamped on the cover. Then he nods to himself and hands it over without saying a word.
Stiles gives Derek a questioning looks as he takes it. There is no title, just that emblem-- a stylized wolf howling at the moon. Stiles traces the outside of the moon before opening in the cover.
The paper is a creamy color, heavier than the type typically found in books. Where there would normally be a cover page, there instead a print of a very familiar painting-- depiction of two people holding hands in black, white and grey. A close up, showing only the forearms and hands. Nothing identifying about them at all. But Stiles happens to know the owners of said hands quite intimately, because the original artwork just happens to be hanging in his living room over his mantle and was painted for him special on his twenty-eighth birthday by a certain sourwollf.
Stiles trails his fingers over the print, tracing down Derek's arm and back up his own. He glances up at Derek and gives him an encouraging smile when he sees that same nervous expression from before.
He opens his mouth, but Derek just makes a keep going gesture, and Stiles is too curious about what the book might hold not to do what he’s told.
He flips slowly through the pages, happiness bubbling up in him. Because the book is clearly something Derek has been working on for a while, has made just for him. It’s filled with image after image of their life together, quick sketches that Derek has done of Stiles’s face or hands or freckle pattern; the beautiful watercolor he did of their babies, soft and loving and just as gorgeous reprinted here as they are in person; and the bright, vibrant cartoon style versions of their pack. There are pictures Stiles has seen a thousand times mingled in with fresh ones he’s never seen before. And through it all flow Derek’s words, his endless letters.
Happy letters from happy times, sad letters from when things weren’t going exactly to plan. Bitter, angry letters. Letters that witnessed them nearly tearing their love apart. But love letters all.
And scattered through them are a precious few items that were written by Stiles: birthday cards and letters from before their rift; that short, hopeful note asking Derek out for coffee; a handful dirty jokes and limericks Stiles has written in Derek’s honor; an angry, vengeful ultimatum issued during The Summer of Their Discontent; and an edited version of the list of questions Stiles had pushed towards Derek, that first night when everything between them was once again fresh and new and filled with hope.
Derek, Stiles gasps, setting the book aside gently so that he can stand, can embrace his husband. You beautiful, wonderful man. I love you so much.
And then his kisses him, and that's the sweetest gift of all.
I hate when you are gone. Hate it with every fiber of my being. Ridiculous, I know. You’ll probably roll your eyes when you read this and tell me that you were just gone one night and that an overnight camping trip with Genim’s Cub Scout troop is nothing to get worked up over, but still. I hate it.
You should be here, in our house, with our children snuggled in next to you on our couch watching something that is rotting their little brains.
You should be cooing at Derika, calling her your sweet Deedums and tickling her toes. You should be tugging Laura into your lap, teasing her when she yelps, telling her that she’s still your little Ladybug, no matter how big and grown up she might be. You should have Genim climbing all over you, pushing at his sister to get at your lap, laughing at what you call his middle child ways. Haley Hale you would say, your voice stern but your eyes dancing and he would just smile up at you and god.
I wish you were here.
I wish you were here to do the dishes with. I wish you were here to correct Laura’s table manners. I wish you were here to tell Derika to wipe the spaghetti sauce off her chin.
I wish you were here so I could smile at you and you could smile at me. I want you here, Stiles. Here in our house. With me. With our children. Doing nothing out of the ordinary at all.
Derek should have expected what happens next. He should have. Because Stiles is Stiles. So of course he runs about showing his book to everyone they know. Hell, he starts reading the damn thing to the pups at night. Selected parts of it, anyway. Which makes Derek super awkward and uncomfortable because... he's just not good with feelings, alright? And there Stiles goes, blabbing Derek's feelings to all of god's green earth.
If that wasn't bad enough, suddenly Lydia and Allison are taking him out to lunch and throwing words like generous advance and brilliant new platform and pretty much trying to peer pressure him into publishing his book of love letters to the world at large.
And no. Not only no, but hell fucking no. That book is private. Special. Meant only for Stiles, thank you very much.
No, Derek doesn't care how well it would sell or how emotionally compelling it is or anything else.
That book is for Stiles.
No one else ever needs to see it.
You’re still mad at me. Furious, actually. Have been for about a week now and... I’m starting to worry. You aren’t opening my letters. You aren’t giving me that fond, exasperated smile that I love. Hell, you haven’t looked at me properly in days.
I... I can’t...
Jesus, Stiles. Did it really matter to you that much? I didn’t think that it would. Clearly, I didn’t think that it would.
It was nothing. Less than nothing. Just something I had to do to smooth over relations with... Oh god, you don't care. It doesn't matter why I did it. It just matters that I did.
I'm sorry isn't going to cut it, is it? Not this time. You won't even look at me. You're sleeping in the guest room. Our bed is starting to lose your scent.
I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't. But then I never do. And yet...
Are you thinking of leaving me? Is that why the suitcases had been moved? Yes, of course I noticed. You put them back, but the ground around them was scraped clean of dust. Is it the kids? Is that why you didn't do it? Because... if you want to leave, you can leave. I won't...
Shit. I've really fucked up this time, haven't I?
She didn't mean anything. It was just a way to get them on my side, to smooth out the negotiations. I didn't tell you in advance because I knew you would be upset. I knew you would scowl and be sour and make faces at them across the table. And I knew that if I told you what I was planning and you reacted badly and then I did it anyway...
I always know in advance, don't I? That's why this is a problem. Because I didn't just act spur of the moment, but planned it all out, considered every possible option and decided that the hurt it would cause you was worth the benefit I would gain.
Which is why you won't look at me. Why you asked me to give you some space. Why you left me with the kids last night and went out and didn't come home until this morning. And when I met you at the door, when I tried to touch you, you jerked away and hissed at me to keep my hands to myself, for once in my life.
Oh God. You are going to leave me, aren't you?
You're going to take the kids and leave and what will I do without you? Alone in this big, empty house. It's not a home without you. I'm not alive without you.
You mean so much to me. You're my everything, my all. I count on you to always be there, to be the rock that I can cling to, the arms that I can find shelter in. And you love me, with all your heart, you love me.
And I just pissed all over that love. I told you that it didn't matter. That your feelings were unimportant.
How do I fix that? How do I show you how sorry I am, how wrong I was?
Please, Stiles, give me another chance. I know I don’t deserve it, that I’ve long since run through all my do-over cards. But please.
If you leave...
Just think about it first. Please. That’s all I’m asking. Think about what we have, what we are. And, yes, I know that is what I should have done. But... it wasn’t...
She wasn’t supposed to kiss me. That wasn’t part of my plan. Yes, I flirted. Yes, I made a point of stringing her along her. I took her out for dinner and charmed her and when she asked if I wanted to continue our conversation over drinks, I said yes.
But I was never planning on it getting physical. I wasn’t going to lay a hand on her. But then, I wasn’t planning on you being there, either. I wasn’t planning on her seeing you and smirking and then pressing up against me like that, wrapping her arms around me and kissing me like she had any fucking right.
That soft gasp you made, like all the breath had just rushed out of you. And, Christ, the look on your face, the way you crumpled in on yourself. Thinking about it now makes my chest ache and my stomach cramp and none of this was supposed to happen. You have to believe me.
You know I'm terrible with expressing my emotions. You know I can never say the right thing, that the words just get twisted up inside me. I write to you, my love, because it's the only way that I can be clear. Please, just read my letters. Stop ignoring them.
You... even in the bad times, even when you were dating other people and pretending I didn't exist, you never ignored my letters. You read every single one.
And now... now they just piled up in front of your door. You just scowled when you saw them, hunched your shoulders like they will physically hurt you. And when I asked you to please, please, just read them, you scooped them up, headed to the kitchen and ripped each one in half before tossing them into the trash. Damn it, Stiles, you poured a cup of water over the top of them. You ignored me when I howled and then you went out and didn't come back until morning and what am I going to do now?
Please. Don't go over this. Please. Don't leave me. Don't turn your back on us because I was enough of an idiot to think that seducing someone into agreement was a smart idea.
But... if you do go, if this is something you can't forgive, if this is straw that breaks the camel's back, please know that I love you. That I've always loved you. God, I'll go to my grave loving you.
If you need to leave, I won't stand in your way. I won't make it difficult for you. I'll agree to whatever you want. You can take the kids, I know how much you adore them. I won't fight you on that, even though it will kill me not having them here. Just... let me still be a significant part of their lives. I... I won't bother you like I did the last time. I'll let you go, if that's what you want. But please don't cut me out of their lives too.
I, fuck. Being your husband, your mate, fills me up with pride. Our children, our beautiful, perfect children, give my life meaning and joy. Without you, I don't know what I will do.
But maybe I should have thought of that sooner, huh?
Stiles gets what Derek is driving at. He does. It's just... God. That book. It's the most amazing, wonderful thing Stiles owns, could ever own. And of course he wants to share it with everyone, to show everyone he knows exactly why he's in love with his grumpy old sourwolf. Especially all the nay-sayers out there, the ones who look at him with sad eyes and give him sympathetic pats on the back when they see him in town. As if being married to Derek is something to be ashamed of, something to regret.
And, yeah, maybe it ought to bother him a little that he sees this book, this wonderfully fabulous book, as a giant "fuck you" to anyone who has ever questioned him and his relationship, but really, Stiles can't be bothered enough to care.
Not when he can hold in his hands the physical product of Derek's love for him.
Sure, there are a few letters in there that don't paint either of them in the best of light, but who the fuck cares about that? They aren't perfect. Their life together hasn't always been a rose garden, but that's what makes it even more precious, even more special. Because they hit some pretty big bumps in the road, overcame some giant ass obstacles, and are all the stronger together for it.
That's what real love is, after all. It's the day to day grind. It's empty toilet paper rolls and milk that's gone bad and forgetting to pick up the baby's medicine on the way home from work. It's late nights and early mornings and days when you are just so bone tired you fall into bed fully clothed.
That's what most people don't realize; that's why one out of every two marriages fail. Because people go into them with hearts in their eyes and forever on their lips and no concept whatsoever of what that truly means. Of course it's going to be hard work. Of course you are going to get angry and upset and wonder why, out of everyone in the world entire world, you decided to fall in love with an idiot who farts in his sleep and eats like a pig and can't ever be assed to pick up his own dirty underwear off the fucking floor.
But the flip side of that is having someone who has seen you at your worst, someone who has your back through thick and thin. A partner, in every sense of the word, who puts up with your obsession with reality TV and your encyclopedic knowledge of Buffy and your late night sessions on the internet. Someone who won't tell you to stop with the stream-of-consciousness already or yell at you for being late-- again-- to your daughter's recital. Having someone who will hold you on nights you need to be held and leave you alone on nights when you hate the world. Someone who will kiss away your frowns and tell you that you are beautiful and will love you in spite of all your many, many flaws.
And, damn it, is it really so wrong that Stiles wants to show the world just why Derek is that someone for him?
You're right. It is easier to write about things than sit down and talk them through. And I'm right too, because it's a petty, pathetic move. But, whatever. I can't stomach the thought of talking to you right now, but this needs to be said so I'm taking your easy way out. I'm writing about it. And then I will put this letter in an envelope and slide it under your door and you can see how it feels.
First and foremost: Fuck you.
Seriously, fuck you so very, very much. Fuck you and your reasons and excuses and blah blah blah. There's always something with you. Some mythical, magical reason why you shouldn't have to face your consequences like the rest of us. And you know what, I'm sick of it. I am so damn sick of being the one to bend in this relationship, the one who puts their needs aside, who is calm and understanding and all that other fifties housewife bullshit.
I'm sick to death of it.
And, yes, you are right. I did take out the suitcases. Good on you, spotting that. Nothing gets by you, does it?
Oh wait, that stupid bitch's intentions did. Slipped right through on your blindside.
Yeah fucking right.
You might not have planned on her kissing you, but you knew damn well it was a possibility. The only thing you didn't plan on was me being there to see it happen.
And you want to know why I was there? Oh my darling, do you want to know why? I'm sure it's been eating at you. I'm not batshit crazy, the way you are. I don't feel the ridiculous urge to always know exactly where you are. I trust you. Or at least I did. So then how did I know where you would be when she was the one who picked the location?
And how did I even know that was her idea to go to that bar in the first place?
Here's how I knew, Derek: because she told me.
That's right. She told me.
You might have said that it was just a business dinner, you might have implied that you were meeting that same boring ass group of suits I had met that morning. But well before you even mentioned you would be going out, I already knew what was going on.
Of course, I didn't believe her. I believed you, because I am as stupid and naive as everyone always fucking implies.
If I had a nickel for everytime I've heard some variant of, "Oh Stiles, why do you let him treat you like that?" I would be a much, much wealthier man than I currently am.
But, whatever, not the point. The point is, she came up to me after the morning talks ended. She pulled me aside while you were schmoozing with the suits, and told me that you had propositioned her. And I laughed in her fucking face. That's right, my darling one, I laughed in her face. And told her that if she thought that, then she was thought wrong.
And you know what happened next? She smiled at me, patted me on the cheek and told me I was a dear, sweet thing and that she could understand why you kept me around. Then she took my phone and entered in an address and told me that I deserved to know where my husband was, even if I was too smart to stay married to him for long.
God, I wanted to punch her in her fucking face. But I didn't. Aren't you proud of me? I didn't punch her. I just smiled and told her it was lovely meeting her and then I went and found you and didn't tell you a thing because I never tell you when catty bitches (male or female) try to make me doubt my place in your life, question my hold on your heart.
So, yeah. I didn't bat an eye when you told me you wouldn't be home for dinner. I just kissed your cheek and wished you luck and sent you on your way.
But then you texted me and told me that you were going to be late getting home, that I shouldn't wait up, and I knew.
I fucking knew.
So I called up Boyd and asked him if he wouldn't mind keeping an eye on the kids and then got my ass into the city and there you were. All snuggled up next to that... I shouldn't call her names. She's not... It's not her fault you... God damn it. You did this. YOU. You let her press closer, you let her wrap her arms around your neck and you let her fucking kiss your mouth. Tongue and all, baby. Tongue and all.
Don't try and tell me you didn't. I know you. I know what you are capable of. If you didn't want her touching you, she wouldn't have been.
I'm not sure what clued you into my presence. Maybe I made a noise. Maybe I said your name. I'm not sure, I don't really remember much other than the way it felt, seeing you kiss her. The way my heart froze in my chest. So maybe I screamed. Who knows? All I know is that you let her kiss you until you realized that I was watching. Then you calmly removed her arms from around your neck, slid out of your booth and came towards me with that blank expression you do so well. You asked me what I was doing there in a voice with no fucking emotion in it at all. You told me to go home, that you needed to finish up here and that you would talk to me when you got in.
Do you have any idea how much that hurt? That you could look me in the eye with that fucking mask of yours in place and talk to me in your Don't-Make-A-Scene voice and tell me to go the fuck home? That you would deal with me and my drama whenever you were good and ready to?
You unmitigated ass.
God. I hate you so much right now. I just...
Really? That's how you respond to me and my hurt? Really?
What the honest to god fuck, Derek? What, are you twenty-five again and running scared because life didn't turn out the way you had planned?
We are married. We have kids. And a house. A life together. A wonderful, brilliant, messy life. Full of laughter and happiness and, yes, a few tears because nothing is perfect. But, damn it, what we had was pretty fucking close.
And you went and threw it all away for what again? Oh, that's right. A petty territory pissing contest.
So yeah, I'm not really in the fucking mood to look at you. Yeah, I pulled out our suitcases and packed them full and then looked at our babies and thought better of it. Yeah, I didn't read your stupid, pathetic excuses. I tore them up and tossed them out like the fucking trash that they are.
Which is what I really should have done with that last one too. Damn you and your stupid fucking puppy dog eyes. Where the fuck do you get off looking wounded?
What right do you have to be acting so damn hurt?
So what if our bed doesn't smell like me? So what if I went out with Scott and blew off some steam? If you wanted me in your bed, then you shouldn't have shit all over our life together. Our crazy, chaotic, wonderful life.
The life we've worked so hard to make happen.
Damn it all to hell.
Don't you know how much that hurt? God, I can't even imagine what the scene would have looked like if I was the one who so casually strayed. It would have been a fucking bloodbath. You would have eviscerated that bitch, if it had been my body she wrapped her arms around, my lips she kissed.
Don't even act like it wouldn't have been. Not with the way you freaked out when I went out to coffee with Robert and you fucking showed up fifteen minutes into our visit with Haley and Ladybug in tow.
You drove seven hours in a car with a infant and toddler to crash my coffee date because I texted you that I had run into Robert at my conference and wanted to know if you would be cool with me meeting up with him to catch up on old times. Seven fucking hours. So that you could make your claim known. Like he couldn't see the fucking ring on my finger. And did I call you on your shit? No. I didn't. I just laughed it off, even though it was embarrassing as hell and Robert was giving me that pinched look of his.
What is wrong with you? How can you get all crazy like that over nothing and then expect me to be cool with you sucking face with someone I'm going to have to see on a regular basis.
How does your mind even work?
God, I should just end it. I should. I should pack up my things and take our kids and get the fuck out of your life. That's what a normal, sensible person would do.
But I love you.
I love your stupid, sourwolf face. I love your snarling and snapping and the way that you pretend to hate it when the kiddos crawl all over you. I love your smile, the way your face lights up when you see me. I love your arms wrapped around me at night, the way you nuzzle your cheek against the top of my head. I love how kind you are, how soft and sensitive your underbelly really is, even though you act like a bad ass mother fucker.
I love your hands on my body, your smell in my nose. I love your terrible taste in movies and the fact that you are a sucker for trashy romance novels. I love the way you toss our babies in the air, the way you tickle their bellies and call them your pups. I love the way you watch them when they are sleeping, how gently you held them when the doctor first placed them in your arms.
God. I love you so much. Cutting you out of my life was near to impossible the first go round, and that was when we were "just friends." Though, god, if I also had a nickel for how many times people have told me that you and I were never "just friends" I would be so wealthy I could have my own Scrooge McDuck style swimming pool.
I miss you so much already, and we are still living in the same house.
Which is just ridiculous. Seriously. What is it about you, Derek, that gets me so twisted up inside? Why is it you? Of all the people I could have fallen in love with, why was it you?
I just... I don't understand is all.
I hurt so much, and I want to hate you for it. Want to scream and throw things at you and leave. God, I want to fucking leave so bad. Because how fucking dare you? How dare you do this to me? To us? To our family?
But I won't. I won't leave because I fell in love with you when I was sixteen and I love you still to this day. I love you enough to move past this, because I know you didn't go into that situation with the intention of cheating. It doesn't excuse what happened, it doesn't change how fucking wrong you were, and it certainly won't be getting you out of the dog house any time soon, but it does mean that I'm not going to call it quits just yet.
So you can stop walking around like one of the living dead. You can banish that panicked, wounded expression from your face. You can stop hugging the kids twenty times a day. You're freaking them out, baby.
I'm not going to move back into our room yet, but I will start talking to you again. Starting directly after you finish reading this.
Come find me, my sourwolf, and we will go to the study, set ourselves down, and have a frank discussion about what your consequences will be if you ever put me in a situation like this again.
I love you. You're my husband, my mate. I would gladly lay down my life in exchange for yours. But I will never do the same with my self-respect.
Derek isn’t exactly sure how he ended up agreeing to this, because lord knows he didn’t want to at all, but Stiles did. Stiles wanted it so bad. And Derek has never been able to keep Stiles from something he wants.
Together they edit the thing, culling out all references that might give away Derek’s secret, that might endanger their pack, as well as stripping it of anything that will to easily identify where they live. Sure, the crazies will still be able to ferret out their address and then find their house on Google maps, but why make it easy for them?
The only sticking point between them, once Derek finally signs on to the idea, is what to name it. Derek is in favor of something simple, something that reflects the deeply personal nature of the book itself. Stiles is also in favor of that, or so he says, but everything that Derek suggests gets shot down. In a fit of frustration, Derek pushes the whole issue of a title onto Stiles’s plate, growling about washing his hands of the whole affair.
And, boy, is he ever glad he did.
Because Stiles finds the perfect name-- the perfect inspiration for the name-- that very night.
Derek wakes the next morning to a tray set out with breakfast things and a folded piece of paper. He ignores the coffee and toast, though his stomach is rumbling and his eyes are blurry with sleep, choosing instead to read whatever it is his husband has written him.
The words are simple yet evocative, managing to capture in plain, uncomplicated English everything that Derek has ever felt.
I found this on the internet and something about it just clicked:
And how happy the thought that years increase the affection and esteem we have for each other to love & be loved. May it ever be so, and may I ever be a husband worthy of your warmest affections. May I make you happy and in so doing be made happy in return.
He was a Civil War soldier writing to his wife back home, but he could have you writing to me. Or me writing to you. Or any person who ever loved writing to the one who holds their heart.
So, what do you say, Derek? Does this strike you the way it struck me? Does it just feel right? Like it was meant just for us?
If the answer is yes, and dear sweet god, do I ever hope the answer is yes, then what say you to Love & Be Loved as the title for our little book of letters?
The answer, of course, is yes.
When I am with you, I am happy. I feel complete. When you smile at me, when you laugh with your eyes all crinkled up, when you lay down next to me in our bed, you make me feel so alive, so blessed.
I know I am gruff and angry and aggressive. I know that I snarl at you and tell you to fuck off and block you out. I don’t tell you I love you nearly often enough. I don’t show you how much you mean. I have to resort to this, to writing you letters, and even then it’s still not... I don’t know how to be different, to be better.
But none of that matters to you. None of it trips you up, pisses you off. You just roll your eyes and call me a sourwolf or shake your head and tell our babies that I haven’t had enough fiber in my diet. You tease me out of my moods, soothe me with soft touches and fond looks. You let me hold you in the night, wrap my arms around you and cling to you so tight.
You tell me you love me every single day. You kiss me on the cheek, on the hand, in the center of my forehead. You hum to yourself and dance while you’re doing the dishes and tell Haley that if he keeps frowning like that, his face will freeze and then he’ll end up looking just like me when he grows up. And then you wink at me and tell him that maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
You love me, Stiles. You love me.
With all my faults. With all my flaws. With all my shortcomings.
You love me.
The book? It’s a success. An overnight sensation. Stiles isn’t surprised at all. Because, well, it’s a book of love letters. Amazing, intense expressions of faith and devotion and desire. It’s a snapshot of their lives together and it’s as beautiful as it is beautifully well written.
Of course America is in love with it.
It tops all the bestsellers lists and has big Hollywood media types clamoring for them to sell the rights. Which, no. Not happening. Derek and Stiles weren’t hurting for money before the book was published, and they certainly aren’t hurting for it now. They do cave in to pressure to do a book tour, but only because Stiles sees it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an all expense paid family trip across America.
He uses it as his chance to go to all the cool places he’s never been, to see all the things he’s ever wanted to see. And to share them with his children.
Still, about three weeks into it he can see why Derek’s always hated doing them. Even with their pace slowed down to what their children can handle, it’s still overwhelming-- downright exhausting. Makes Stiles long for home like nothing else. And, when they finally do get home, makes Stiles vow never to leave it again. Not for all the money in the world.
Derek laughs at him, because Derek’s a dick, but makes it up to him later, snuggling up close to him on the couch during family movie night. The kiddies romp around like the monsters they are, crawling all over them as if Derek and Stiles are their personal jungle gyms. Derek growls half-heartedly at them, telling them to stay still, to stop fighting over the popcorn and to at least pretend to watch the movie, but Stiles can tell that Derek’s just as pleased to be there as he is.
Later, when the movie is over and the children are tucked in their beds, Derek pulls Stiles close, buries his face in the crook of Stiles’s neck and breaths deep.
I love you he whispers, his lips ghosting across Stiles’s skin a second before he bites.
Stiles shivers, moans Derek’s name. His hands clutch at Derek’s shoulders as he arches up into his mate’s touch.
I love you too, Stiles tells him, Oh god, I love you.
And it’s true. Ten years later-- or twenty, depending how you look at it-- and it’s still true.
For my darling husband, the love of my life, the partner I always craved and never deserved:
Without you this would book never would have happened, and I mean that it the most literal way possible. You are my beacon, my guiding light. You shine in my night sky, the northern star that I have built my life around. My muse, my obsession, my darling one. The Max to my Wild Thing. Oh my darling, thank you for sharing your life with mine. Thank you for being the one true thing I can count on. Thank you for putting up with my surliness, my need to dominate, and my reluctance to compromise. Thank you for accepting me, for allowing me to use letters to communicate my inner thoughts and feelings.
My love, my Stiles, I say to you now, in front of god and the world:
Please don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.
Bwahahahahaha! IT'S DONE! Omg, does it feel good to say that! *bounces* Although, to be totally honest, it's not *completely* done. I have a story or two left to tell. So keep an eye out, because there is definitely more coming in this 'verse.
Anywho, I hope that you enjoyed the ride and that the ending lived up to your expectations and that all the angst and pain were worth it in the end. :DDDD