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A Museum Of Our Love

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Exhibit A:

There's too many of them and the apartment is too small. Its November and theres nothing but an old space heater in the middle of the room that everyone is crowded around like a crude open fire during a camping trip, tyring to steal the weak warmth for their own frozen bones.

There's beat up acoustic guitars and ukeleles being played and everyone is singing along in different keys to different tunes and its loud and relaxed and hilariously bad but it somehow sounds beautiful and free. Beer is being drunk like its going out of fashion and there are more conversations going on than should be possible.

The air is filled with laughter and music and friendship.

Everyone is young and carefree and excited for the future.

Derek and Stiles are friends on the cusp of being something so much more. They're sharing a sleeping bag because Derek forgot to bring his, (didnt bother buying one, had been planning on this happening from the start), Stiles is curled up on Dereks strong chest and Dereks lips are in her hair and he can feel her grin even though he cant see her face the way they're laying.

They have one fithy pillow between them that they found in the corner of the room and stole for themselves. They split it the same way they're sharing their body heat and it feels like home.

 

Exhibit B:

It takes a whole year for their tentative friendship to blossom into more and when it does it's like an explosion.

They love eachother with every fiber of their beings.

They scream and kick and always seem to make love on the floor and Stiles's parents hate Derek and Derek's parents are long dead so they dont even care that the only person he's loved since them or will probably ever love again is a hyperactive, loud mouthed, bitch who cant feel one emotion at a time and stick to it.

They finally scrape together enough money to get their own place two years into being together. They're both straight out of Uni, 23 without a sense of direction except that they'll be together as they stumble, blind, into adulthood.

Their apartment is a total shit hole, the only furniture a battered green futon that was more than likely older then Derek and an upside down milk crate held together with ducttape acting as a table. Shit, even the door's made from a broken desk top that doesnt fit the doorway properly so you have to barrel into it hard with your shoulder before it'll budge open.

But it's theirs and they're still young, still hopeful.

Even if the walls are so thin that you can hear everything anyone does throught the entire building.

After a month they realise that when they have sex you can hear it through the floor boards in the room below and they can no longer look their neighboors in the eyes without blushing red and giggling.

After two months it stops mattering because they dont touch eachother like that anymore.

One night Stiles lays on the futon next to Derek, all pale skin and ripped muscles and three day stubble, and wonders where they went wrong? She cant remember the last time he touched her willingly. What had happened? How had it happened to them?

Derek shuffles in his sleep, rolling on to his side, dragging the blanket off of Stiles and curling himself up in the faded blue material. Memories of sharing tiny sleeping bags and one man tents springs to mind and claws at her heart, if she tries hard enough she can almost feel his phantom touch on her chilly flesh warming her from the inside out.

Stiles finally falls asleep a little while later, clutching the bedsheet tight in her hands wishing it was Derek she was hugging and not dirty cotton.

 

Exhibit C:

It takes ten years but they finally have enough money to buy their dream home. Its nothing spectacular, just a cosy, private little condo in the center of town, close to the school Stiles teaches at and just around the corner from Derek's garage. There's a beautifully quaint coffee shop three doors down from them that Stiles visits everyday after work instead of hurrying home to her husband like she used to do.

One unremarkable Wednesday evening, Stiles arrives home at about half six and heads straight to their bedroom as per usual, calling out at, "Honey i'm home!" that goes unanswered and chisles away another tiny piece of her.

She's about to toss her satchel onto their lumpy futon when she notices its gone and in its place is a massive, cherry oak, four poster bed with an actual fucking mattress and pillows and blankets and the sight of it has her heart pounding painfully in her chest.

Derek stalks into the room a little after Stiles, bright smile on his painfully handsome face untouched by age, he completely ignores Stiles, doesnt even acknowledge she's in their bedroom, he just strolls straight passed her and straightens the covers on the freshly made bed; all brand new, all chosen by Derek. Stiles didnt even know they were getting a bed. Didnt know Derek even liked the colour red. Doesnt really know her husband at all anymore.

Derek finally leaves the room a short minute later and Stiles crumbles to her knees wrapping her arms around herself.

They argue that night.

The worst fight they've ever had.

They scream and cry and they both fight dirty, desperately trying to hurt eachother as much as they feel seperately. Slicing at eachother with words shaped to hurt in a way only two people who have been together for years can hurt eachother.

"I love you Derek! I'm here if you still want me! You remember me right? YOUR WIFE! Or what, is this bed just another excuse for you to NOT touch me?"

Stiles regrets the words out of her mouth almost instantly, she doesnt want to know the answer that's about to leave his lips, doesnt want another reason to cry herself to sleep centimeters from the cause.

Derek looks furious at her impulsive words as he looms over her, a dark shadow that looks so out of place in their soft yellow kitchen that he'd spent the day painting, there's still a smudge of paint behind his left ear which would normally make her giggle bu not now. Now it looks wrong, like the sunny yellow is mocking her with the fact that its the only bright, happy thing in her life.

The laugh that escapes Derek's chest is sarcastic and cold, he's shooting to kill. Trying his best to hurt Stiles the way she hurts him.

"Oh I wish! All the money in the world wouldnt be able to buy a bed so big that you wouldn t be able to accidentally touch me in the night Stiles!"

His words are spat at her like venom and he leaves a fist shaped hole in the kitchen wall before he storms upstairs to their bedroom, slamming every door on his way.

Stiles stays frozen in the doorway whispering, "I suppose you're right." before following the echo of Dereks footsteps.

She still doesnt know what wrong turn they took to end up here.

 

Exhibit D:

They're both in their late seventies, still together dispite everything thats passed. They're old and bitter and too stubborn to give up on something they've commited their lives too.

They had good days, good weeks, good years.

They've had two amazing kids, Nate and Hollie who are now both grown up and happy with families of their own.

Stiles and Derek are both slowly dying. Derek's heart's failing and Stiles is fading with cancer but just like with their relationship theyre refusing to go down without a fight.

They dont talk about anything anymore, theyve refused to feel anything since their children moved out almost thirty years ago. Both too afraid to hear the words theyve both spent a lifetime hiding from.

They're lying in bed one night, Stiles about to read the letter her youngest grandson, Owen, had sent from his travels around Australia, he reminds her so much of Derek when they first met, it makes her heart ache. He's beautiful and broody, all tall dark and handsome with a mushy, family orientated core. Considering the way Derek and Stiles have been fighting and ignoring eachother for years their kids have grown up amazingly, doing everything right in way Derek and Stiles hadnt. She's proud, so proud it makes her grin in the soft lamp light of their bedroom.

She's just about to grab her glasses from the night stand so she can see the letter better when Derek, without a word, switches off the light and rolls onto his side, as far away from her as possible on their four poster bed, the same way he's been doing for years.

It never stops hurting.

Stiles gives up on the idea of reading and curls into the sheets, squeazing her eyes shut tight to hold back the tears welling up in them.

She doesnt even bother asking why anymore, she's long since stopped wondering why he never answers.

 

Exhibit E:

Stiles passes away in the summer of their 86th year.

Derek follows not a month later, the doctors say he just gave up, the loss of his wife too much for him to take. How could he live without someone he'd been living with since he was 23?

Their loving family have them buried, ironicly the only way Derek and Stiles knew, side by side, still and cold. They're buried towards the very back acre of the cemetery, right underneath a stunning cherry tree, a joint, shiny, black marble headstone with their names etched into the stone forever.

Here Lies Derek Jethro Hale And Fidelma 'Stiles' Hale.

Beloved mother and father, grandma and grandpa, husband and wife.
Too well loved to ever be forgotten.

A gentle breeze rustles the loose leaves.

It has taken 63 years of being together but Stiles finally gets up the courage to ask Derek, "What was the matter? Where did we go wrong? What could I have done to have made it better? To have made you love me again?"

Derek stretches his arms above his head, rolls out the kinks in his joints and turns to face her for the first time in what feels forever.

He's young again, barely 20, his apple green eyes twinkling in the light of the after life, more gorgeous than she can ever remember him being.

He reaches across the loose dirt they're lying on, strokes his index finger from the ball of her shoulder all the way down her arm, across her wrist and to the very tip of her middle finger before entwining their hands, his grip strong and confident and Stiles cant remember the last time she felt so content. Derek's smiling all soft and warm and Stiles feels too big for her body, more alive than she has felt in years.

"I would have told you if you'd only asked me." he whispers honestly, regret staining every word and Stiles feels cheated that its taken them so long to finally talk, they've lived in silence for the last 30 years of their lives and all it took was death to bring them back together.

"Then tell me, tell me everything."

Derek's smile melts her heart and she knows they have forever to make up for their stupid human mistakes.

An eternity to get it right.

They fall asleep for the last time, sharing the grass atop their graves, bathed in the silver light of the moon or maybe its something else, something special and secret but they dont care because they're cuddled so close its impossible to tell where Derek ends and Stiles begins and its never felt as good as it did then, except maybe when they were 21 and sharing a sleeping bag excited and hopeful for the rest of their lives.