Beacon Hills, near the end of April, sees another round of storms, but luckily, no rain.
The clouds starting thundering overhead and the darkness of the sky is ripped open now and then as a bolt of lightning passes by, fast and unbothered. The air is filled with the smell of ozone and lives continue on as if there isn't constantly a roar raging overhead, cars putter past on the street and people walk about without concern.
Stiles looks around Beacon Hills and sees a lot of what he likes.
He's not so sure what it is about the atmosphere lately, but he's liked it, and that's saying something. Beacon Hills isn't a bad place, but it's not somewhere that he's actively found joy in ever. But lately, all he can think when he walks through town or looks out the window is that... well, yeah. He lives here, and this is nice.
He's not sure why it's so stormy lately, but he hopes it doesn't stop. It provides a nice atmosphere that the people could use, something different from all the sun and all the energy, everything that's so... California. Even school seems different. They'll sit in class or they'll be out at practice and the sky will grumble -- not menacingly, or violently, but it'll just be above their heads. Coexisting.
Then there's the fact that there's no rain this time around, so that means no flooding and no horrible car crashes due to skidding or hydroplaning or whatever. His dad doesn't have to get called out every time somebody bumps their knee -- and, on the flip side, he doesn't called out to investigate vehicular manslaughters anymore.
But that's a dark thought, and he doesn't like to muse on it. Stiles is proud of his father, despite all the crap he has to go through to keep the town safe.
Speaking of his father, Stiles is actually... a bit surprised at the lack of curiosity from his dad surrounding the whole Derek situation. He was almost positive that his dad would ask more questions (hell, he was bringing a guy who was once wanted for murder into their house, how was that not sketchy?) but even when they argue, his dad doesn't bring it up.
Almost like he doesn't want to think about it. And admittedly, that makes Stiles worry almost more than him bringing it up would.
It's not something to worry about now, though, and if anything, Stiles is sure that it's probably just one of those awkward father-son talks that his dad doesn't want to broach just yet. So he'll wait, because he's not going anywhere, and he's not really ready for it, either.
He's stuck in a limbo of comfort, and he's not sure how he feels about being stuck, but at least he's comfortable. There's always that.
But Derek hasn't been over in days.
And when he does finally show up, he almost looks distracted.
Stiles is worried before he even opens the window, but he lets Derek in just as thunder claps overhead and rumbles through the house, and he looks at Derek with concern. "Something up, dude?" Derek climbs through his window like he always does, methodically, first his right leg, then his left. "You need help with anything?"
Derek straightens out his back after bending through the window and slips off his jacket. He doesn't look at Stiles, but he discards it by the side of the window and rolls his shoulders, and even Stiles can't help but admire the way his muscles move underneath his shirt.
"I'm fine." Derek tells him, quietly. "And I think that's the problem."
Well. That's vague as hell. And also worrying.
Derek turns to look at him, and Stiles doesn't get a chance to speak before Derek moves and cups his face in his hands, kissing Stiles deep and wet and like he means it, all out of nowhere.
Stiles grunts, and, for lack of anything better to do, lays his hands awkwardly on Derek's shoulders, but he kisses back. How is he supposed to react to that? Derek's having problems even with being happy (leave it to him to find problems with happiness) and then just up and... well, he's distracted by the tongue in his mouth, but he's still concerned.
There's a flash from the corner of his eyes, and he ignores it, letting it silently fly through the sky to follow the bursting thunder that already passed. Derek pulls away from him and he looks... perplexed. Like he's studying Stiles, like he was gathering data instead of actually kissing someone, and suddenly, Stiles is --
He backs up. "Dude, what the hell?" he asks it tentatively, without venom, but still, something's up, and when something's up with Derek Hale, it's not good.
Derek's oddly quick to put his hands up, and he shrugs, and suddenly the tension leaves his shoulders and his brow goes back to that almost permanently-furrowed state that Stiles tends to see it in, and, if Stiles didn't know any better, he'd say everything was back to normal.
Stiles is not stupid. He's not so easily fooled.
The other man lets his hands fall and he smirks, like he always does, and Stiles lets out some of the air that he's holding in his lungs, still watching him warily. There's something burning at the side of his throat, something that's nervous, something just sitting there.
That smirk is still there, though, and he tells himself to focus on that, because that's all that's normal about this picture, and he has to focus on what's normal. That, or he's going to start talking, and things will start falling apart, won't they? They tend to.
He rolls his shoulders, and Stiles tells himself to relax, because this is Derek and this is something Derek would pull. He walks toward the couch, leaving Stiles standing by the window. "What's on tonight, Mr. Stilinski?" he asks casually. "I'm dying to take my mind off things."
Stiles glances at the coat, forgotten and forlorn, and he sighs, lets that burning in his throat subside in the air that he breathes. He grins. "There's Rebecca and Despicable Me. Guest's choice." Derek smiles as he collapses on his side of the sofa and Stiles falls next to him, and ignores that niggling feeling clawing at his insides, because Derek's chest is warm and his shirt is soft and... well, he'd rather think about that.
"It's not a bad accent." Derek says halfway through Despicable Me. "There's probably problems with it, though. I bet you ten bucks."
Stiles elbows Derek's ribs, but he's still tucked underneath the other man's arm comfortably, his legs drawn up on the couch. "That's a bet I'd probably lose, so no." Stiles says in reply, and he hands Derek the half-empty bag of Tootsie Rolls. "But I can bet you that I've met Steve Carrell before."
"What? No, you haven't."
"I totally have." Stiles chuckles, and he collapses, letting his head hit Derek's armrest. He looks up at Derek with a smile. "That's a bet you would lose, dude."
Derek shrugs, and he seems content with that. "Remind me to give you ten bucks, then." he says, but he doesn't say anything about Stiles' position on his lap. He points at the screen. "But back to my earlier question, what are the yellow things?"
They end up discussing the movie for most of its run, more than watching it, really, because Stiles likes talking to Derek more than he likes watching movies, though he'll never say it out loud. He loves movies, though, don't get him wrong, but --
He sits up and looks at Derek openly. The werewolf eyes him warily, and he frowns. "What?"
Stiles thinks for a minute or two, because this probably isn't his place -- Derek has plenty of his own problems and can deal with them on his own, he's an adult, etcetera, etcetera, but can he blame Stiles for being worried? He disappears, then shows up acting weird, then just brushes it all off? Even Stiles isn't that dense?
So he just blurts it out and doesn't allow himself to think twice about it, because it's when he thinks that he makes mistakes. "What's wrong with you?" There's a sharp intake of breath because that's not how he wanted that to come out, so he quickly rewords himself. "No, I mean... what's up? Just... there's something wrong, what is it?"
Derek pauses, and he looks at Stiles, puzzled. There's a moment when his face reverts to that expression of brooding apathy, of such practiced passiveness that Stiles almost gets scared, because he's gotten Derek to like him and suddenly he's acting like he did when they first me. But it disappears and is replaced with a surprising openness that Stiles isn't expecting.
Derek almost looks... regretful. Or hurt. Or something. And then it hits him like a lead brick because, oh, no, he should have been expecting this.
He backs up a bit (which is difficult, when he's kneeling) and doesn't get very far -- he mostly just scoots a bit, but not far enough for Derek to be unable to lean over and kiss him again -- not as disturbingly open like he did when he walked in, but softer, like he's tentative, like he's pulling back from months and months of work.
Stiles just sits there, stunned, because he should have seen this coming. Even with somebody like Derek, who Stiles figured could be progressive, who could actually move forward, not stick himself in the past, is scared and nervous and hurt and so utterly damaged that he gets so far and then just reels back. That hurts, and he wants to punch something.
Derek pulls back, and he looks at Stiles, and it's a scary expression to be staring into it. Stiles swallows, because he knows what Derek's about to tell him. Why would he even bother coming over? Why not just it over and done with, why not just... tell him?
Why not just tell him that he's really not all that special, at all?
Derek doesn't see him as someone different, not like he thought Derek did, and Stiles lets that sink in like a numb, icy ache, and he waits, hopes beyond hope that this isn't going to hurt nearly as much as he thinks it's going to, because it shouldn't, he shouldn't be attached.
This isn't how humans and werewolves should work. He's known that from the beginning.
So he sighs, and he lets all that air in his lungs out, cause he knows what's coming.
Still. Derek's looking him straight in the eye and he's finding it hard to concentrate, finding it hard for him to find the right words, to justify anything. Stiles isn't surprised, not at all, and he can't believe that he can't help but feel right, giving Derek time. But Derek needs time. He's always needed time.
He's not some damaged, broken person, even though he is, even though he's the definition of damaged and broken. But that doesn't make him any less of who he is -- it only makes him more, it only makes Stiles admire him. But who is he to this amazing, incredible force of nature? Who is he? Stiles Stilinski, and to Derek Hale, and that must not mean much.
Stiles knows it doesn't, because it's this sort of admiration that sits deep inside of him and burns and hurts and he knows that he needs to label this, at least before it slips through his fingers, so he'll be prepared next time, so he'll know. Derek Hale will leave him behind, and he's not surprised, because people tend to do that, and Derek will be no different, just like Stiles is no different, just like Derek and Stiles aren't, never will be, never were --
"Come to Seattle with me."