Stiles isn't stupid; he knows that just because time shifts, the details change, it doesn't mean his mom will be back, that she will be alive. But every time he feels the unmistakable pull of gravity and time, the atoms rearranging just so, he has to check. He has to. And like clockwork when he turns the corner into the kitchen and sees the bottle of bourbon and the toppled empty glass on the table he knows. He knows that she's dead. And he has to take a breath. My mom is dead, the words ringing in his ears, because he has to believe it this time, has to remember.
There are things set in stone, things that never change. Like his friendship with Scott, or the way grass feels under his feet, or the way Lydia tugs a little at his brain, making it sharper. He doesn't understand it exactly, why some things change and others don't. It's explained to him once that's it's about relationships, connection. What about my connection to my mom? He wants to say, but doesn't. Those words are too sharp, too real on his tongue. He still doesn't get it, not really. And Lydia rolls her eyes, tugging on her red-tinted hair, wrangling it into a perfect braid.
Derek and Laura Hale live on the outskirts of town, on the border of the woods, tall trees and crisp earth. He shouldn't be upset when one day their whole family is dead, buried in the ground, and the next they are alive, Mrs. Hale chatting with his dad over tomatoes at the supermarket. It shouldn't make his insides shrivel a little, but it does. He doesn't understand why his mom is a fixed point, and the Hales are not. Something like Murder rattles in his brain, but he ignores it.
He settles next to Lydia, his feet curling up in the space next to her. She leans her head against his shoulder and breathes. There are twin markings on their palms, a starlike figure that signifies time and magic. Witches, the townfolk hiss. But Stiles knows better. They don't do spells, not really, not usually, the occasional use of mountain ash withstanding. They see. Lydia sees it in mathematical equations. Can see the blips in time in the air, like numbers across the clouds. Stiles sees it in colors, feels it in his bones. But still, Lydia is the only one who understands, the only one that watches as the details change without being able to stop or aid them.
The werewolves look at them warily, but the Hales are kind and good natured. Stiles sees a mark of sorrow underneath the layers of contentment in Derek Hale and he wonders if he remembers, or if his body does beneath what time is telling him. Laura Hale is a bubble of sunshine and snark and Stiles loves her instantly.
Derek growls at him when he catches Stiles gazing lovingly at Laura too long and Stiles flails arounds a bit, finally getting his mouth around the right words. Chill out, dude, my feelings towards your sister are totally friend...ly. Friend type feelings everywhere, he says waving his arms around. Derek raises an eyebrow in what Stiles thinks might be amusement, maybe, possibly, and says, What are your 'feelings' towards me? He think there's mocking in there, but he's too freaked out to be sure. Definitely friend-adjacent, man, are the words that make it out of his mouth and he's not really sure what they mean. Lydia barks out a laugh and he narrows his eyes at her, and she just smiles sweetly. Likes he's a kitten or something.
Later, Lydia threads her arms through his, and whispers against his skin, It's okay. He swallows around nothing and there are tears harsh against his eyes. It isn't, he doesn't say. Because Derek Hale could die, and he could never come back. She kisses him lightly on the corner of his mouth and he sighs.
The mark on his palm hurts and he clenches his fist, trying to bury it beneath his fingers. Derek sits next to him as they watch a movie and it's only when Derek slides his palm over his thigh that he can forget the agonizing burn.
Lydia is pale these days, and he wonders if he is too. The pain has gotten worse and he's not a fool enough to pretend like maybe it hasn't effected her too. Something's coming, she says. And he nods, recounts all the shifts in the last couple days, all the little things that have changed. She knows them too, but sometimes it helps to say them out loud, to remember they happened, commit them to record. The school is now painted blue, Scott no longer has asthma, there isn't a crack on Jefferson Drive, the Hales have an extra bathroom, the prices changed at the movie theater, Benj's Burgers is now called Bingo's. The list goes on and on and they list them like a chant, time burning in their palms.
A big shift is coming, he tells Derek. And Derek nods, stoic as ever. Stiles grips the edges of Derek's jacket, tugging on him like he's his only rope. I need you to say something. Anything. Derek huffs out a breath, but just looks him in the eyes, leans their faces together until their lips are connected. And it's enough for now.
I told you it would be okay, Derek grumbles much later. No you didn't! Stiles yelps, but in a way he guesses that he did. Laura and Lydia laugh, their limbs tangled next to them, the night air warm and comforting.
The mark on his palm is still there, weighing down on him, but it has faded.