Stiles isn't a dense kid -- or, at least, he's not as dense as a lot of the other kids in his school are -- and he notices two things, immediately, about the situation that he's in. The first is that he's wrong. That's not a new idea to him, so it doesn't hit him too hard.
He starts to wonder, though, why he panicked so badly, as he had reared back away from Derek on the sofa like he was poisonous or baring his teeth. What was Stiles so afraid of? He couldn't have been afraid of Derek breaking up with him, because they aren't even together! What did he think was about to happen? What did he think he was about to lose that he was so foolish to assume was his in the first place?
The second thing he notices, however, is that, whatever he was afraid of losing, he didn't just lose it. Whether it's an acquaintanceship with occasional sex or a relationship or a really messed up friendship, whatever he has with Derek, it's still there, and if anything, it's more validated than it was three seconds ago. How is he supposed to react to this?
But he figures that he's not the only one asking himself that question, because Derek's sitting on the other side of the couch, staring at him with his mouth slightly open like he's just seen something shocking. Stiles realizes, probably a little too late, that Derek doesn't realize what he just said, either, but before he's able to stop himself, he shoots up from the sofa and stands by the coffee table.
"Eloping is kind of old-fashioned, don't you think?" Stiles asks weakly, putting his hands up defensively, almost apologetically, and the moment it's out of his mouth, he wants to punch himself in the face. Derek furrows his brow for a split second, but then looks away, shaking his head at the carpet.
He mumbles something to himself. "No, I'm sorry." Stiles bites his lip and takes a step forward, but Derek's got his hands clasped in between his legs. "I don't know why I'm here tonight." Derek admits. "I shouldn't be here."
Stiles swallows. "Why's that?" He hates how casual his tone is, despite the sudden, overbearing tension weighing down the air. They're both obviously avoiding the elephant in the room, whether they know it or not. He tries to chuckle, and it's almost as if his brain has been disconnected from his mouth. "Got some super-secret werewolf meeting to attend?"
Derek shuts his eyes against the taunt, and Stiles had only meant it light-heartedly (he's not sure why he said it at all, to tell the truth, but he would never try to hurt Derek, not like that) but Derek's looking more perplexed than Stiles has ever seen him, and Stiles realizes it's probably his fault.
"Listen." Stiles says, and he tries to make his voice sound firm. "I knew the minute you walked in that was something was up, you know?"
"I need to go."
Stiles' words get stuck in his throat, and Derek stands, keeping his eyes firmly trained on the carpet. His limbs are odd, the way they move -- they have less control, like he's tired or apathetic, and that's not how Derek is. Stiles is sure that he might be embarrassed, too, if he blurted something out like that, but -- what even is Derek getting at? What's going on?
He wants to say something to the contrary, but he finds himself rooted in his spot, watching as Derek rounds the couch and make his way back toward the window. The movie is still playing on the television, long since muted and ignored by the two inhabitants of the living room, and Derek slides open the old wooden window.
He finally looks at Stiles as he swings himself out, and his expression falters, dubiously, for just a moment, before fixing Stiles with the same, casual look he would back when he wasn't acting like a lunatic. "Call me up if you need anything." he says, but his voice is flat, and he slips out the window.
Stiles doesn't say anything. But he's left standing in his living room, with the window wide open, alone, in the dark. He spots a limp, fabric silhouette near the window, and he swallows.
"Don't forget your jacket." he says, despite himself.
Stiles doesn't see Derek for a few days. He's not sure if Derek's mad, or embarrassed, or just avoiding him because he doesn't want to deal with Stiles'... Stilesness anymore. Maybe it has to do with him being dense, or immature, or not able to understand the pain that Derek's been through, but Derek hasn't been back, and that's all that matters.
Or, that's all that should matter, but Stiles shoves the bile rising in this throat down because, really, this isn't his place to worry. He's got his own network of subordinates, he's a werewolf, for Christ's sake. He's safe, he knows, and should he be really that surprised if Derek were to cut ties with him?
Even with a request like the one that he had. Come to Seattle with me... Stiles still isn't certain of the deeper implications of that request, if it was literal or Derek's way of pleading for... something. He'll never know, really, not at this rate.
Derek told him to call if he needed anything. he feels like he needs something, but he can't vocalize it (not without horribly humiliating himself, probably) so he doesn't call. There are a few times when he looks to where his phone is sitting on the coffee table and vaguely wonders if he should call, just to check up, to make sure that Derek isn't dead. But he reminds himself that this guy is an alpha and can take care of himself. He doesn't need Stiles hovering over him.
There are the other things that Stiles wants to ask, though. But he won't allow himself that, because he can't help but feel that it's... selfish.
It's deep and far away into the woods, something that nobody would ever notice or call out of the ordinary. There are no wolves in California, but nobody bothers to point out the abnormalities of the wildlife beyond the boundaries of Beacon Hills, anyway.
Erica and Isaac and Boyd are safe away somewhere, and even the Argents, far away, are startled by the sudden... lack... of something. It's subtle, something that they wouldn't have noticed if they weren't professionals, but even the wildlife of the surrounding woods seems to be trembling in anticipation of something that isn't coming.
The local werewolf pack is existing quietly and doesn't disturb anybody. It's safe and close-knit this way.
There hasn't been much howling in a while.
Stiles gets fed up quicker than he would have thought. He would have liked to think that he's more patient than that, or that he'd be able to wait while Derek sorts out his... whatever. But he gets angry, because he doesn't even know what's going on. Things were pretty good, albeit a bit touchy, at times, until Derek suddenly walked in like he was having a panic attack --
Stiles thinks of how Scott reacted to the whole werewolf phenomenon, and he remembers how he used to act after his mom died. He wonders if it's even possible for werewolves to have panic attacks like that, to have nervous breakdowns. They have the same emotional range that humans do, so who says they can't be the same?
He starts wondering if that's what Derek's going through, a simple panic attack. He would never minimize the guys emotions (hell, he hardly ever sees them) but here he thought that Derek was going into hiding or something, forever to remain in the woods come hell or high water. He's probably just nervous of something that he doesn't get, or hasn't experience in a while.
Stiles isn't a psychologist, though, and it makes him feel dirty, trying to analyze Derek's mind when he's not even there. He wouldn't like it even if Derek was there, but it eases some of his own anxiety. Derek's got his own personal demons that he needs to deal with, and that's not something that Stiles can help with.
Still. Why blame him for being worried?
In the end, he finds himself at the hill again. After that revelation, he couldn't help but think of his mom, just a little bit, and besides, the hill calms him down a bit. It makes him feel like he's closer to something much greater than him, that would know how to deal with this and give him a guiding hand to follow.
It's just a thought, of course. But he likes it, anyway.
He leans against the side of his Jeep, and he wonders if it's foolish to entertain the notion that, if he were to close his eyes, Derek would appear next to him in due time. Derek would do that, but Stiles isn't so sure, what with how he's been acting.
So he doesn't shut his eyes, because that's horribly cheesy and it just proves that he's waiting for something that won't --
"You know your back left tired is deflated, right?"
And suddenly, all that calmness, all that patience, all that understanding and serenity and peace, flows out through his fingertips like a flood, and he's left with a shaky, nervous, hollow feeling that he's not comfortable with. But it bubbles up with fury, and he growls.
"You're an absolute jackass, you know that?" He says, and Derek rounds the Jeep to stand next to him, watching him almost disinterestedly. "That's the first thing you have to say after having some... emotional crisis in the middle of my living room?"
Derek blinks, and he doesn't seem perturbed. "I didn't, though. I made a stupid request, you had a stupid answer, I left, that was it." Stiles isn't sure if that should make him angrier or even quell his anger a bit, but he's such a mixed ball of confusion that he's not sure what he's supposed to do in the first place.
He clenches his teeth, because he doesn't know what he's supposed to say. It feels like he's back to square one, all of a sudden, and he hates that. So he does the only logical thing he can think, and he shucks off his jacket. Derek's eyebrows raise, but Stiles holds it out to him.
"You left this at my house." he says quietly, and Derek takes it gently in his hand. "You know, when you asked me to come to Seattle. Or whatever." Stiles looks down. "Which... I mean, if you gave me some time, totally doesn't sound like a bad idea."
He keeps his eyes on the ground, but he can tell that Derek is studying. He doesn't even have to look up to know that Derek's brow is furrowed in the same way that it always is, as his hands clench their grip tighter on the coat there.
And, though Stiles doesn't expect it, he hears Derek chuckle. He's not sure if it's something that he wants to hear, though, so he looks up, and Derek's smiling slightly, looking at the coat in his hand. "What's so funny?"
"You want to know what happened, right?"
Stiles doesn't answer, but he swallows, and he keeps his eyes on Derek. They flick down to look at the coat for a moment -- it would be weird for Derek to put it on, probably, considering he's already wearing one -- but he is holding it like he's thankful that Stiles brought it. He looks back up just as Derek speaks.
He smiles wryly. "I was panicking for the first time in a few years." It's quiet when he says it, almost like he wants nobody in the world to hear it but Stiles. "I'm not good when I panic. Trust me." He looks Stiles in the eye then. "And I'm sorry. Again."
Stiles opens his mouth to speak, but then shuts it, deciding against it. He stares at Derek and tries to sort out of his words. He could ask what Derek was panicking about, but Stiles doesn't feel like that's his place (then again, shouldn't he know, if it was so important?) He could ask him any number of things, but Stiles is avoiding the subject, not out of ignorance but out of simple sensitivity, which is new, and Stiles knows that... well, eventually.
He has a sneaking suspicious anyway, but it'll come eventually. So his mouth starts to work on its own again, and he asks, "Are you okay?"
He wasn't expecting that, and apparently, neither was Derek, because his eyes widen a bit. Derek chuckles again. "So I'm acting like an absolute jackass, and that's the only thing you want to know? Whether or not I'm okay?"
Stiles realizes retroactively that it probably wasn't the best question he could have asked, or even the right one, but his embarrassment isn't so great that it keeps him from nodding, because... yeah. Yes, he was worried about Derek, what of it? Why is that something to be ashamed of?
Derek slings the jacket over the hood of the Jeep, and Stiles hardly gets out a protest about the paint on his car before Derek kisses him. It's not deep and weirdly solemn like the one in his house had been, but it's there. It's closed-off, mysterious, and Stiles knows that he's not quite at square one, but definitely not where he needs to be to have... any of this make sense.
But he didn't expect that. Not yet, anyway.
When Derek pulls away, he smiles. "Though Seattle can probably still happen, sometime. If you want."
Stiles blinks, but he grins, and he leans up to kiss Derek again.
It's not everything. But it's enough.