Stiles stared into the mug before him, dumbfounded. Everything had seemed right with the world up until this. He and Derek had been going strong for nearly two years. Stiles practically lived with him now. The evening prior was more passionate than any in recent memory. Their morning shower more-so. And now, his entire world had been been skewed by four little words.
"We can't be together."
The silence is deafening. Both men sit quietly, the air between them thick with hurt. It feels like hours before either of them speaks.
"So that's how this is?" he finally manages weakly as the floodgates of emotion open. "You tell me you don't love me over a cup of fucking coffee?"
Derek sighs heavily at the outburst, eyes closed so that he doesn't have to see the pain in Stiles' eyes. "You know I love you, Stiles."
The younger man is practically delirious now, tears streaming down his face as he struggles to breathe; struggles simply to exist. His whole world was crumbling beneath him. His only real friend had moved along with Allison to go to school, leaving him here. His father was always working, and was now seeing someone in his little bit of free time. The only thing he had left was Derek. And now Derek was leaving him.
"Why, Derek?" he sobs, the feeling of a knife being plunged into his chest holding more appeal than living one second without Derek Hale.
Derek remains quiet, trying not to make matters worse.
"Look at me!" Stiles screams, slamming his fists on the table with such force he's sure he's managed to fracture something. But he doesn't care. "Just tell me what I did wrong, Derek! I-I can fix it! Whatever it is, I can do it!" He grabs Derek's wrist possessively, tears streaming down his face. "Please, Derek, just tell me what to do!"
The older man finally looks at him, his eyes distant. Even though he was always stoic and perpetually acrimonious, Stiles knew that there was a loving man beneath the icy exterior, and his eyes always shone with something below their jade surfaces. But they were dead now. Something was not right about them. Stiles could not remember one time when his eyes didn't sparkle with something. But they were pale and lifeless now.
"Did someone do something to you? Is that what this is about? Blink once for yes or twice for no," Stiles said, a brief wave of relief washing over him. He knew that something was amiss. There was no way that Derek would simply abandon him, not after all they'd been through.
"Damn it, Stiles, would you just shut up?!" Derek hissed in response, the younger man deflating instantly. "I just can't do this anymore, okay? You're a great kid--"
"Kid?!" Stiles yells, anger churning below the maniacal surface. "I'm nineteen years old, for God's sake! You've never worried about me being a 'kid' when you've been fucking me into oblivion!"
"That outburst alone more than proves my point," Derek replied coolly. "Yes, Stiles, you're too young. And too human. I love you, and you know that. But this just can't work. I.." he trailed off, closing his eyes once more, the look on Stiles' face too much to bear. "I can't let this continue. We've had how many close calls now in the past month alone? Hunters are swarming us, and I can't keep protecting you. I can't let something happen to you. And you shouldn't be subjected to this life, anyway. It was fine when you were just the kid who did research, but now you're putting yourself on the front line with me and the others in the Pack. They can defend themselves, you can't."
"Then train me!" Stiles exclaims, still grasping Derek's wrist. "I'll do everything you tell me to. My dad used to take me to the firing range all the time! I can help! I can stop being a burden!"
"It isn't that simple," Derek growled.
"I can make it that simple! I-I-I can learn how to defend myself, I can set traps, I can do anything you teach me! You know I'm a quick learner, I mean--"
"Stiles!" Derek bellowed, effectively silencing the other man. He took a deep breath before letting it out slowly, regaining his composure. "I can't teach you everything you need to know in a day. Hell, I can't teach you everything you need to know in a year. This is a very real threat, and I couldn't stand by and let you get hurt. For once, just quit being so damn selfish and think of me," Derek said, holding Stiles' gaze once more. "Do you think this is easy on me? Do you think I like the idea of not being with you? I feel like someone has torn open my chest and ripped my lungs out. Thinking of life without you makes it hard to breathe, let alone function. But this is what has to be done. I can't... I can't let you get hurt. I could never live with myself if something happened to you. Hunters already took everything from me. I couldn't stand to lose the one thing that I have left; the one thing I give a damn about anymore."
Stiles stared into his lovers eyes, tears sluicing down his pale cheeks silently. "I can't live without you, Derek," he choked out.
"The only way you can live is without me," he countered, cupping Stiles' cheek in his hand gently swiping away the tears with his thumb. "You have to."
"Turn me," Stiles said simply.
"You know I can't do that.."
"Yes you can!" he said frantically. "You just won't! It's the easiest solution! No, I...I won't be as fast or as strong as everyone else. And I know I would have to learn some things first, before I could be as good as any of them. But I could do it, Derek! You know I could! I'm-I'm smart, resourceful, you've said it yourself that I would be an excellent werewolf!"
"I won't risk killing you," Derek answered simply, a tear slipping down his cheek. Stiles was hitting every point with startling efficiency. Derek had thought about all of this long ago, knowing that things would only get more difficult for the two of them. But he couldn't risk Stiles never being around. Would Stiles be an excellent addition to the Pack? He showed more promise as a human than most of his Packmates did even when turned, so definitely yes. Did he think Stiles was strong enough to withstand the bite? Absolutely. But resolve and intelligence weren't what determined if someone would live through the ordeal. It was luck, plain and simple. And given Derek's track record, he didn't want to risk Stiles' life.
"You already are," Stiles replied as fresh tears spilled down his cheeks. He closed his eyes as the body-racking sobs came. Derek wanted nothing more than to comfort him, to tell him everything would be okay. Seeing his lover like this always brought forth the protective side of the Alpha. But he couldn't lead Stiles on. He couldn't make him think that maybe he just needed to think for a few days. This was where things had to end. A line had to be drawn, and the longer they did this dance, the harder it would be to bring it to a close.
Derek stood as he rounded the table, picking the boy up gently. Stiles clung to him as he continued to sob, hot tears soaking Derek's shoulder. He headed outside, gently setting Stiles down. "Stiles," he said quietly, tilting the boy's face up, "look at me."
Stiles stared up at him through reddened eyes, his chest heaving.
"Please take care of yourself," Derek managed, feeling the dread and pain welling in his chest, threatening to spill over any moment.
"Please don't leave me.." Stiles whispered pathetically.
Derek stared into his eyes but a moment longer before slowly stepping back inside his home and closing the door.
Stiles collapsed into a heap of raw emotion, tucking his knees under his chin and wrapping his arms tightly around his legs as his body quaked. He felt like he was coming apart. His entire world shattered and he was left falling into oblivion.
Derek could hear the heart-wrenching cries and slid down to the floor, burying his face in his knees. The tears crashed through his emotional dams with resounding force, and it was all Derek could do not to sob aloud. His shoulders shook quietly as the heart of the only person he'd ever truly loved shattered into a million pieces at his doorstep.