After the ordeal with Gerard, Derek took to periodically checking in on Stiles. He did it clandestinely, watching the boy from the woods behind the lacrosse field, following his jeep home from school, climbing up to his window in the middle of the night. He didn’t want Stiles to find out, because he knew that Stiles would think he was being a burden to the pack. And while it was true that as a human, he was a liability, Derek didn’t mind. In fact, protecting Stiles gave Derek something to do with his time, and it was definitely better than hanging around the mansion, slowly losing himself to the haunting memories.
So tonight he crouched on the slanted roof next to Stiles’ bedroom window and watched him sleep, in a completely non-creepy way of course. Usually Stiles slept soundly through the night, limbs sprawled in all directions, chest gently rising with his even breathing. But Derek could already tell that tonight was different. Stiles had climbed into bed ten minutes ago and still hadn’t stopped tossing and turning. When he finally settled down, his breathing was ragged and his body was curled in a tight ball. Derek jumped down to perch on the windowsill.
He wondered what was on Stiles’ mind that was disrupting his sleep tonight. Nothing bad had happened since the fiasco with the Argents (thank God) so Derek couldn’t fathom what was plaguing the boy so badly.
And then his phone buzzed in his pocket. It was a text from Scott. Stiles might have been oblivious, but his stalking had not gone so unnoticed by the rest of the pack.
“Hey vigilante, it’s the anniversary of Stiles’ mom’s death. Thought you’d want to know.”
The news hit him like a ton of bricks. How had he forgotten? He pressed his forehead against the glass, swallowing the lump in his throat. He knew full well how Stiles was feeling right now. Just when you thought you were okay, when you’d learn to live with the pain and weren’t constantly hit with debilitating moments of remembrance, you would realize that another year had passed. Another 365 days that you hadn’t been able to share with your loved one, and you would realize how much you had changed, and how unrecognizable you would be to them. He understood Stiles’ pain acutely, and desperately wished there was something he could do to help.
Suddenly Stiles tossed in his bed, violently kicking at his invisible demons. He was gasping for air, drenched in a cold sweat. Derek couldn’t take it any longer. He slid open the window, which Stiles was thankfully stupid enough to leave open. He kicked off his shoes and silently padded over to Stiles’ bed. He lifted up the blanket and slipped in next to the feverish boy. He dodged a flailing fist and wrapped his arms tightly around Stiles’ waist. The boy instantly calmed at the contact and instinctively curled into Derek’s embrace. Derek felt a small smile creep onto his face. Stiles’ breathing evened out and his clenched muscles relaxed at Derek’s warmth.
Derek gradually loosened his grip on Stiles and started to pull away. Immediately Stiles tensed again. His pulse quickened and Derek could hear and feel the frantic beating of his heart. He pressed himself closer to Stiles and gently rubbed his hands down Stiles’ side, finger’s ghosting over the boy’s ribs and down to his waist. He slowly curled his palm around Stiles’ exposed hipbone. The skin was soft and warm under his touch. Stiles’ heartbeat was pounding like a bass drum in his ears, and he felt his own pulse begin to sync up. He couldn’t help but bury his face in Stiles’ neck and take a deep breath, eyes fluttering shut as he inhaled Stiles’ scent.
For the first time in a while he let himself relax. The pack was fine on their own, and the only person he needed to protect was right here in his arms. He rubbed his thumb in small circles over Stiles’ hip and smiled into the boy’s shoulder.
Stiles slept soundly through the night. And when he woke up the next morning, his bed was empty. He sat up, frowning. He could have sworn Derek…
As he slowly gained consciousness, he realized how ridiculous that was. Must have just been a very realistic dream.
He rubbed his arms as a sudden chill blew into the room. The window was open a couple inches. He furrowed his brow and went over to close it.
Later that morning, when he was putting his books in his locker, he caught Scott staring at him with an amused look. He raised an eyebrow, but Scott just shook his head and walked away. Then in chemistry he caught Isaac giving him the same look.
“What?” he muttered.
Isaac shrugged, smirking.
“What?!” he demanded again.
“You smell like Derek,” Isaac chuckled.
Stiles sniffed his shirt frantically. “No I don’t.”
Jackson looked up from his desk a few rows back. “Trust me, you do.”
Stiles leaned back in his seat, a blush slowly creeping up his neck, and a small smile following. He reached for his phone and typed a quick text. By the time he clicked send, he was grinning a mile wide.
Derek’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He sat down on the lacrosse bleachers to read the text.
“Guess I’ll have to have more nightmares tonight.”
He smiled, something that he seemed to be doing quite frequently now, and sent a text in reply.
“Leave your window open.”