There are some things Stiles knows he isn’t really supposed to do. He’s not supposed to be friends with supernatural creatures. He’s not supposed to wash his dark clothing with his light clothing. He’s not supposed to even so much as think about eating his dad’s double-stuffed Oreos. And he’s definitely not supposed to listen in to the police radio to figure out whether or not he should invite himself along to investigate from the sidelines.
But since Stiles is fond of doing things he’s not supposed to do, he regularly manages to complete each and every one of the aforementioned tasks.
Tonight, there have been several officers blathering the number “459” on the police radio, which, thanks to his excessive listening-in, Stiles knows means a burglary. Apparently the intruder broke into a house on the outskirts of Beacon Hills and set off quite a few alarms, alerting the police and waking the residents, and then ran off to “the woods” with a few pieces of expensive jewelry.
It’s exciting enough to spark Stiles’ curiosity, and while he’d normally drop by Scott’s to invite him along for the chase, he’s equipped with the knowledge that Scott is spending the night “doing stuff… yeah, that stuff” with Allison. Which is something he’d rather not interrupt.
Throwing on his red hoodie and walking to his jeep are the next two logical steps, and within a matter of twenty minutes or so, he’s parked the clunky old vehicle by the edge of the forest. He figures this must be the right place, because… well, these are basically the only woods outside of Beacon Hills. So, yeah. Logic.
He feels like he’s on an episode of CSI or something, lurking around at night and being all furtive-like. “The perp’s about 5’9, male, wearing a black sweatshirt and is likely to be carrying a handful of necklaces,” he says to himself, trying out his best deep-serious-cop voice and smirking foolishly at the sound of it. The leaves crunch under his feet as he weaves around trees, making his way towards the red and blue flashes in the distance. He wants to get close enough to the cop cars to be able to eavesdrop, but not close enough that he’ll be seen. He really doesn’t need his dad grabbing him by the collar of his shirt again.
After a few stealthy strides – if you can count stumbling over a fallen branch as stealthy – he’s within earshot of a couple of the officers. As far as he can tell, his dad’s not on this call, which makes him feel a little less guilty. He gives his full attention to the group of uniformed men who are strolling around casually with flashlights, hollering threats at the unseen thief in-between talking about strip clubs and cute diner waitresses who may be barely legal but are surprisingly good in bed… what?
“Creeps,” Stiles mumbles, shaking his head. How can his dad stand to work with these hooligans? They sound preposterous. Poor, poor Sheriff Stilinski.
Stiles doesn’t mull over the thought for too long, though, because one of the men shouts, there you are! We see you! Freeze! and shines his flashlight up to reveal the silhouette of a person, something glittery spilling out of his pocket and something else glittery bunched in his fist. Of course, the burglar starts running away, and Stiles does a little dance from behind a tree trunk, because this is the best part: observing a bunch of middle-aged men in uniform as they try to hunt down one criminal hopped up on adrenaline and fear.
Just as it’s getting good, just as the robber begins tripping over his own feet and the cops are closing in, Stiles feels a drop on his cheek. And then another. And another. And another, until the rain is coming down so hard that he can barely see in front of his face. He takes a step back to try to find a bough to stand under, losing his footing in the process and landing on the ground with a slippery thud, and goddammit, he’s given himself away. The second he hears someone yell, who’s there?!, he’s scrambling to his feet and booking it.
God knows where he’s running to, he’s just running. Running until he can’t see the white beam of a flashlight searching in his direction. Running until he can’t hear footsteps, or voices, or anything at all, anything but the rain and his own ragged breath. Running until he reaches shelter, a house… the Hale House. Naturally.
In any other circumstance, he’d turn around and head the other way. Because this is the dwelling place of Derek Hale, voted Most Likely to Scare Someone to Death. Derek Hale, the now-Alpha who has slammed him against walls one too many times. Derek Hale, who is possibly the only being on the planet who has the capability to be intimidating and terrifying and painfully good-looking all at once.
But tonight is an exception, because Stiles is soaked through to the bone and shaking so much he might as well be preparing for liftoff. He’s panicky and freezing and doesn’t think twice before bringing a fist up to pound on Derek’s door.
When the werewolf shows up, he doesn’t even offer a greeting. Unless being yanked through the doorway and thrown to the floor can pass as a greeting, in which case, sure, he offers a wonderful greeting.
“What are you doing here.” It’s not even a question, it’s a statement, and Stiles is unsure as to whether he’s supposed to answer or just continue sprawling on the floor like a dead frog.
He opts for the former.
“I was on the lookout for a delinquent,” he replies, matter-of-fact, “tryin’ to do my part as a good citizen of Beacon Hills. You know, the usual. Because really, how cool would it be to be the one to catch a bad guy? It’d be awesome, right? Just some average high school kid catching a bad guy! Imagine that! I’d be, like, famous for a while, you know? Stiles Stilinski, bad-guy-catcher. Maybe Jackson would stop beating up on me all the time! And maybe Lydia would finally realize my prowess and let me take her out to see a movie or something. And Scott would finally start taking me seriou-”
“Stiles,” Derek growls, and Stiles flinches. Not because he’s a little bit afraid of Derek or anything, no way. It’s… it’s the cold. Makes him twitchy.
“I was running away from the police; they found out someone was spying on them. That someone being me. And then the heavens decided it would be the optimal time to open up and let a torrential downpour loose. So.” He’s quaking now, and this time it really is because he’s feeling rather chilly. “Your house was here, and I. I just… yep. Hello.”
Derek crouches down and wrenches Stiles up into a sitting position; their faces are inches apart. “You’re ridiculous,” he snarls, fingers finding the zipper of Stiles’ hoodie and tugging it down. “You can’t just follow the police around to see what they’re doing whenever you want, Stiles.” He’s peeling the sweatshirt from Stiles’ arms, and once it’s off, he reaches for the hem of Stiles’ top.
“Well, actually, I can,” Stiles mouths back, “and what are you doing? I had no intention for this to turn into a late-night stripping session. Seriously, Derek, what are you doing.”
“I’m taking off your shirt.”
“Oh, really? I didn’t notice.” An eye-roll ensues. “Can you clarify why you’re taking off my shirt without my consen- oof!”
“Because,” Derek huffs, balling up Stiles’ wet clothing in his hand and rising to his feet, “I’m going to get you a dry one.”
Stiles folds his arms over his chest and rubs at his biceps, trying to create some friction for heat as he watches Derek disappear up the stairs. He can’t decide whether he should be dumbfounded or feel violated, so he just settles for strange contentment instead.
The reintroduction of Gerard Argent to the Argent clan’s establishment in Beacon Hills has not been a desirable reintroduction, at least not in Derek’s eyes. The old hunter is set in traditional ways and seems to do as he pleases, which has included breaking code (and familial trust) more than one time already. In addition to that, Gerard doesn’t favor Derek in the least bit, and has had no problem letting Derek know, using weapons both verbal and physical.
They’re not really on each other’s good sides.
Derek can smell Gerard from a mile away, can sniff out the musky cologne and stale smoke and the rusty stench of bloodthirst like it’s being shoved right under his nose. He can hear Chris Argent mumbling something to the effect of this is a waste of time, can hear Gerard respond dismissively.
Tonight, he doesn’t want to deal with this.
He’s sick of being interrogated and prodded and inspected like some kind of convicted felon. He’s put up with too many questions already; it’s the reason he barely spends time at his family home anymore and instead resides in the old subway station where he trains his pack. It’s so barren and unpleasant there, though; the station feels much emptier without any of their rascally asses around, and he doesn’t particularly want to sleep on cement tonight. He knows he can’t stay at his house, though, so he wanders.
Purpley midnight sky envelops him, starlight glinting on his leather jacket and air bitter and smooth on his skin. It’s a relief to know he won’t be spending the next few hours speaking with the Argents, but he’s aware that they’ll be keeping vigil until the sun comes up. They’re a persistent bunch, especially Gerard, and they’ll probably be sitting on his doorstep all night in anticipation for his appearance.
Beacon Hills isn’t the most forgiving place in the sense that it’s a small town and there are few places to escape to. Scott mourns this fact almost daily because there are seldom places to park that are secret enough to be able to fuck Allison in the backseat of her car; Derek mourns this fact right now because his choices for hiding places are slim. After mentally listing his options, he settles on somewhere a bit unlikely: the Stilinski household.
Stiles is sleeping when Derek slips through his bedroom window, his arm flung off the side of the mattress and mouth hanging stupidly open. He stirs when Derek knocks a jar filled with markers off of the sill, but doesn’t actually wake until Derek cracks, “Trying to catch some flies, Stiles?”, at which point he doesn’t just wake up, he jolts up, eyes wide.
“What the fuck, Derek?!” he whisper-shouts, clapping a dramatic hand over his heart. “Get out! My dad’s gonna shoot you if he finds out you’re here! I’m serious, he knows how to use a gun!”
“Christ, Stiles, I know who your father is. I also know that it’s the middle of the night, and he’s either on duty or sleeping, so I’ve got no real reason to ‘get out’.”
“Uh, well, you could always, you know, get out because I told you to? And this is my room? And, as you so intelligently pointed out, it’s the middle of the night?! If you didn’t notice, I was trying to succeed at this task that we normal folk call ‘sleeping’, and I would like to continue to do so.” Stiles’ actions betray his words, though, because he slides off the side of his bed and plants his feet on the floor, then padding across the room to switch on a dim orange lamp.
“Go back to sleep, then. But I can’t leave right now.” Derek sits down at Stiles’ desk, fiddling with a stray pencil. The kid just gapes at him in a daze of sleep and confusion and returns to his bed to perch on the edge.
“…You just hopped through my window like some freakish child abductor from nightmare town and you’re expecting me to let you chill out here ‘til the sun rises, huh? You’re unreal.”
“Really?” Rising, Derek strides towards Stiles, grabbing Stiles’ wrist and bringing his hand up to rest on Derek’s chest. His palm is warm, even through the fabric of Derek’s tee, the kind of warm that is only achievable through being wrapped up beneath cozy blankets, and for an instant Derek feels bad for disturbing his slumber. He’s almost too distracted by this fact to add, in a taunting tone, “If I wasn’t real, you wouldn’t be able to touch me.”
While he means the words as a mockery, they come out a bit softer than he intends, which Stiles unfortunately seems to detect even in his groggy stupor. His hand lingers for one moment too many and Derek pushes it away, locking his gaze with Stiles’. “I’m here because the Argents are patrolling my grounds again and I’m in no mood to deal with them. I don’t have very many places to go.”
“You’d probably have more of a selection if you would actually let people get to know you and tried establishing some real relationships,” Stiles grumbles, scooting backwards and then laying back down atop his sheets. A yawn overcomes him, and he lets his eyelids flutter shut. “Just throwing that one out there. Social Etiquette 101.”
“I have my pack,” is all that Derek comes back with.
“Then why are you here, and… not… not with one of them?” He’s fading fast, cheek pressed into the pillow.
“Because.” Stiles’ mattress creaks, and he opens one eye just enough to see Derek leaning against the foot of his bed. “You still have the shirt I lent to you, and this gives me ample opportunity to get it back.”
When Derek doesn’t get the snarky reply he’s learned to expect, he peers over at Stiles to see that he seems to be conked out again, as quickly as that, lips purposefully closed this time around.
Now figuring that he won’t be heard, Derek tacks on another statement to his claim. “That, and you’re part of my pack.”
He looks at Stiles for just long enough before crossing the room to turn the nightlight off to notice that he’s wearing his t-shirt to bed – what he doesn’t notice is the grin conquering Stiles lips.
Sometimes, Stiles lets himself get into situations that he doesn’t really have a way out of. He lets them unfold and ends up with a bunch of explaining to do with very few sensible explanations. These situations have ranged from dangerous to dumb to just plain silly, and generally have to do with werewolves, but tonight’s situation is a little more… ordinary.
“What even is my life right now!” he garbles into Lydia’s ear – or her neck, rather, his aim is presently a little off.
The strawberry-blonde flashes a smile. “Oh, Stiles, sweetie, your life is as ho-hum as usual, you’re just way drunker than you probably have the capacity to be and everything consequently seems way more exhilarating. It’s kind of charming, really.” She runs a slender finger down the bridge of his nose and pokes the tip of it, chirping, “Boop!” and then getting up from the sofa that way too many people are squished atop.
Music is pulsing in Stiles’ ears, and he beams from ear to ear as Lydia stumbles into the horde of dancing people to find Jackson. She’s wasted, too, everyone here is: it’s Jackson’s birthday, and since Mr. and Mrs. Whittemore obviously have excellent judgment, they left the house – and all of their top-shelf alcohol – to him for the weekend as a present.
Dancing is not an option for Stiles, as he can’t even fathom the thought of remaining balanced on his own two feet, so he just sinks further into the couch cushion. He’s barely fazed when two blonde girls next to him start climbing on top of each other to make out, not even when he discerns that one of the girls is Erica.
He’s way too far gone to have any scrap of an attention span.
Just as he begins to really zone out, internally questioning his existence, a slap on his shoulder and Scott’s familiar laugh bring him back to reality. “Dude!” Scott barks, eyes alight. He’s got Allison at his hip, who appears as sweet as always with a fancy little drink in her hand and curls wild around her face. “Get a load of that!”
Scott’s gesturing to Erica and the other chick in a fashion so lively that Stiles thinks the world could end if he doesn’t take some time to witness. Allison’s honeyed giggle erupts from her mouth as she gets a good eyeful herself, and she elbows Scott’s side before giving him a peck on the cheek. “Don’t encourage him,” she jests, leaning forward to shield Stiles’ eyes with an unsteady hand. “It’s probably too much for him to handle right now. C’mon, Stiles, come dance with us!”
As though Stiles can handle dancing.
Her hand leaves his face to seize his wrist, and before he can process what’s actually happening, he’s being hauled through the swarm of gyrating bodies. Each step feels like a chore, and he fumbles blindly for Scott’s elbow.
“Hah, uh, can’t really walk right now… oh my goddddd so many people!”
The world may or may not be a big spinning blur around Stiles as he’s bumped around between his fellow shitfaced teenagers. He thinks he might be moving his arms and legs around in a way that mimics some kind of bizarre ritual dance, but even that is questionable. What is dancing? How does one maintain basic motor skills in order to dance? Questions for the ages.
Minutes – or maybe hours, who knows – pass on the dancefloor, and Stiles is disoriented enough that when he’s snatched by an unknown grasp, he figures it’s just someone trying to pair up with him. He goes along with it, or at least until he comprehends that he’s being dragged away from the crowd. He shakes his head in protest for a few beats… and then he continues to go along with it.
Damn booze and its ability to fuck with morals and self-control and basically everything that has to do with being a functional human being.
When Stiles finally has the sense to look up and identify his captor, he’s met with a set of gleaming hazel eyes. “I know those peepers!” he blurts with enthusiasm. “Deeeerrrrrrrrrrek! Dizzle fo shizzle! The Der-Master, Derry McDerekson, good to… uh, how are you?”
“Better off than you,” Derek quips, spurring a chuckle from Stiles.
“Truer words have never been spoken. Ya look good, really. Way less drunk than me!”
“Yeah, you’ve got the whole crazy-eyes thing going on.” Derek pulls Stiles’ arm up to wrap around his waist. “Can you even stay upright without someone else’s help?”
“Depends on your definition of ‘upright’,” Stiles sniggers, doing this thing where he kind of smushes and melts against Derek’s side. Oh man, Derek’s shirt is like silk. How can something feel this nice against Stiles’ cheek? Wow. Just wow. Paradise.
“I don’t think you’ll be driving home tonight,” Derek decides as he secures a hand around Stiles’ shoulders. “Where’s Scott? I saw him earlier tonight and he said he was going to keep an eye on you. And that was when everyone here was still in working order, so I figured he was being genuine.”
“Scott! Keeping an eye on me!? Hah! Good one, ya big bad wolfy. He’s probably eating Allison’s face off somewhere in this monster of a house. And I don’t mean that literally, so don’t freak out.” Stiles wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand. “Doesn’t matter where he is, though! I’m an independent man! I can handle myself just fine.”
Derek raises a brow. “Evidently. I’ll just leave you here, then. Goodnight, Stil-”
“Nooo! No no! Don’t let go of me.” Stiles clings on to the taller man for dear life, and he can only half-believe that they’re even touching at all, because Stiles normally applies the ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ rule to Derek. Kind of like his dad’s double-stuffed Oreos. Not that Derek and Oreos are even remotely comparable.
Stability is not something Stiles is currently capable of, so attaching himself to Derek like a leech is necessary. “I can’t actually handle myself right now, I don’t think.” He tests the waters, letting go, aaaand… “Nope. Probably not.”
“Then let’s go. I’ll take you home.”
"How do you say ‘no’ in Spanish? I can’t go home! My dad’s home!”
“Maybe you should have thought about that a little earlier in the night before you drank yourself into oblivion.” Derek starts to lug Stiles towards the door, who is attempting to create resistance by digging the rubber soles of his sneakers into the tile floor but failing miserably. “You’re being obnoxious.”
“C’mon, seriously, dude,” Stiles whines, trying to give Derek his best puppy eyes. It’s really not fair that Derek is an actual half-puppy and seems immune to said expression. Words are Stiles’ only weapon left, and he’s not exactly at his most eloquent. Regardless, he tries his best to string together something that sounds convincing, and ends up with, “I can’t go home.”
“Then you’ll come home with me.”
And Stiles thinks Derek is joking, he really does, but soon enough they’re pulling into the driveway behind the Hale House and he’s being tugged through the door and up the stairs. And to be honest, Stiles doesn’t fully make sense of where he is until he’s plunking down onto some dusty old cot.
Derek’s suddenly nowhere to be found, so he just flops back and waits, staring up at the ceiling, and oh god, there’s a huge spider. Spiders are our friends, Stiles’ dad always says, but Stiles has yet to find proof of this fact. Nothing with eight hairy legs and pincher-teeth is ever going to be Stiles’ friend.
“Sit up, Stiles, and take these.”
When Stiles glances up, Derek is there, offering him some kind of simple sandwich and a glass of water. “Derek,” he begins, oddly taken aback, “you…”
“If you’re about to say I didn’t have to, I really did have to, because you need to have something in your stomach besides some terrible combination of hard liquors, and you’ve gotta stay hydrated.” He shoves the food and drink into Stiles’ hands and proceeds to settle down beside him.
‘Pleasantly surprised’ would be an understatement; Stiles doesn’t know what to do with Derek acting this way. “Well, thanks,” he says dopily, taking a massive chomp out of the sandwich and chasing it with several sips of water. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Derek watching. “Peanut butter and jelly! A classic.”
The sandwich is gone in record time, and once the cup is empty, he feels notably less dizzy-floaty-teetery than he had a little while ago… though he’s not quite sober enough to weigh the consequences of resting his head on Derek’s shoulder. Ooh, leather jacket is comfy. Are all of Derek’s clothes just super-duper-soft or something?
“Stiles,” Derek mutters, and Stiles tilts his head up to make eye contact. “You… you have peanut butter breath.”
“Hah! Well, good thing dogs love peanut butter, am I right?”
The answer is a frown.
“…The appropriate reaction to a joke would be a laugh, Derek Hale, not a murderous scowl.”
Derek shrugs Stiles off of his shoulder and angles himself so that they’re facing each other, noses inches apart. The lack of distance should make his death glare seem more threatening, but for some embarrassing reason, Stiles’ breath hitches and his cheeks flush. “You’re still not laughing,” he sputters out, sidetracked by the heat emanating from the space-invading werewolf.
“You’re still not funny,” Derek counters. Each word hits hot against Stiles’ mouth and he trembles, amber eyes wide. “Something wrong, Stiles?”
“Wh… Why would you say that? I’m great. Dandy, even. P-perfectly composed…” He’s not trying to, but he’s falling forward a smidge, in some kind of weird haze brought on by a mixture of rum and Derek. “Is something… something wrong with you?”
“Not a thing.” Derek’s eyes are fiery beneath half-mast lids, flaring crimson at the rims. His tongue flicks out to wet his bottom lip, and there’s a glimpse of fang there, just the slightest bit, and he’s breathing in this way that sounds like a rumble, and maybe his cheekbones are tinged a little pink, and god, if he wasn’t insanely attractive before. “You should get some sleep.”
“Yeah… yeah.” Stiles wavers before inching backwards, gazing behind him to find a suitable place to lie down. By the time he’s settled, Derek is gone.
In Derek’s mind, there are two types of strength: physical strength, and mental strength. For the most part, he considers himself to have a good balance of the two; he’s gone through a lot in his twenty years, and he’s still alive and kicking.
But no amount of mental strength will ever be able to overwhelm the heartache he suffers when the anniversary of the fire rolls around.
All he sees flashing behind his eyelids are flames and smoke and blaring headlines in black capital letters. Hale House Tragedy! Up in Flames! Eight People Perished in Horrific Housefire.
For weeks following the fire, Derek and his sister had been the talk of the town. No one had much sympathy to offer, but everyone was more than willing to whisper and pry and gossip. It had been agonizing, really, and for long stretches of time, Derek had been more miserable than he thought possible. Laura had been the one to keep him grounded.
“And now she’s gone, too,” Derek says into his empty home, briefly stilling before slamming his fist into the wall in a blur of fury and sorrow. He’s spent the whole day pacing the house, rifling through the few old photo albums that hadn’t been destroyed in the blaze.
And really, what it boils down to is that grief has been building in his chest like a lead weight, and he can’t be alone any longer, especially not in the mansion, where memories are so vivid that they’re nearly tangible. He needs company; he needs to not be alone. He needs someone who isn’t going to make him explain himself unless he wants to.
So he goes to Stiles.
The kid is hunched over a textbook when Derek raps on his windowpane, and at first he seems perturbed that Derek is invading his home again, but his expression slackens once he meets the werewolf’s eyes, and he hurries to unlock the window.
“You could always use the front door,” Stiles puts forward, looking quizzically at Derek. “Any particular reason you’ve decided to grace me with your presence at this hour?”
Derek’s mouth tightens, brows lowering, and his gaze falls to his shoes. Never before has he felt this vulnerable in front of another person; it’s an unfamiliar position for him to be in, and he knows he’s not hiding it well. “I just wanted to check in on you, see how you’re doing. It seems you recovered from your hangover.”
“Oh, c’mon, man, that party was last week. I was feeling better by the next day. I’m doing fine. I’ve been fine. You know that.” Stiles scratches the back of his neck, shifting awkwardly. “Sooo… why are you actually here?”
Derek shuts his eyes, hanging his head like a sad dog, and it’s freaking Stiles out, because Derek has never looked so… weak?
“I can leave.”
“No, nonono, that’s… don’t do that. Are you… are you alright? The last time you looked this drained was when you got shot in the arm with that wolfsbane bullet, and that shit was not okay.”
Derek just shrugs.
“Hey, it’s all good. If you don’t wanna talk about it, I’m not gonna make you.” Stiles returns Derek’s shrug and twirls on his heel, walking towards his bedroom door as though he doesn’t really know what else to do. “So, uh… do you want something to eat? We don’t have a lot of food here, ‘cause I haven’t had the time to go grocery shopping in a while, and my dad only buys junk food. But… you know. Yeah. Let’s see what we’ve got.”
So they plod downstairs and into the kitchen, and Stiles sticks his head so far into the fridge he might as well be trying to fit himself on one of the shelves. His voice is muffled when he tells Derek that their selection consists of orange juice, Fuji apples, and leftover Thai takeout.
“I’m not too hungry.”
Stiles emerges from the fridge with an apple in hand. “You sure? These are some prime apples. Seriously. Costco has quality fruit. And in bulk!”
“Why would you ever need a bulk supply of apples?”
Stiles purses his lips, giving Derek’s question some legitimate thought. Ultimately he doesn’t provide an answer, though, and instead just bites into his apple. The way he licks his lips afterwards is… it’s something.
After a few minutes of quiet – which is rare, considering Stiles is present – the two of them make their way back up to Stiles’ room as per his mention that ‘his homework is not going to finish itself, unfortunately, Apple has not come out with that technology yet’.
Somewhere around an hour passes while Stiles finishes up his schoolwork, and another passes while he just reclines back and scrabbles with his notebook, absently flipping through pages. Derek is astounded by the lack of conversation. He sits against the side of Stiles’ bed, getting lost in his own thoughts, and soon he’s so far into his own separate reality that he barely registers the fact that Stiles is saying his name.
“Derek? Hey, Derek…”
“You’re zoning. A lot.”
"Yeah.” Stiles gives him a look. “You good?”
Derek purses his lips and tries to avoid the fact that Stiles’ eyes are alight with concern. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind, don’t worry about it. You finished with your homework?”
“I’ve been done for like an hour now,” Stiles admits, the corners of his mouth downturned. “You’re kinda tripping me out. Usually you’re all… I dunno… put-together? And right now you kinda look like a kid who dropped his ice cream. I mean, it’s cool that you’re here and all, but is something going on? ‘Cause sometimes talking helps. I know you feel like you don’t have too many people you can actually depend on, but I’ll lend an ear if you need one.”
It’s as sudden as that. There’s something about the genuine worry in Stiles’ voice that knocks down Derek’s walls, and he spills, “It’s the anniversary of the fire.”
And fuck, because he sounds broken; no one is supposed to see him like this. He didn’t even let Laura see him with shining eyes, and now this kid, this fucking teenage kid who doesn’t need any more stress in his life, is watching him unravel.
Something like compassion washes over Stiles’ features, and he seats himself down next to Derek, placing a consolatory hand on his thigh. He opens his mouth to talk, but quickly shuts it, and opts for silence. Gives Derek time to ramble.
It’s like the floodgates have been opened, then, because Derek lets it all out. He recounts the day he came home from school to a charred mansion and a dead family. He tells Stiles how angry he was, how angry he was at himself for letting it happen, for stringing Kate Argent along and letting her into his life. He confesses that he’ll never get over the guilt, and that even though it gets easier each year, it’ll never be easy.
And then he says, in this empty voice, that really he’s just lonely, even with the pack. Because yeah, the pack is like a second family, but he’s still lonely, because they’re all trying to figure out their own lives and they all pair off with each other. Scott has Allison, Erica has Boyd, Jackson has Lydia, and Isaac is seeing this guy from the lacrosse team. At the end of the day, Derek says, he’s by himself again.
Stiles still doesn’t reply, at least not verbally. But he pulls Derek into this makeshift sideways-hug, and everything feels so close, and so good, and like everything Derek didn’t realize he needed until now.
“Derek,” Stiles starts, clutching handfuls of Derek’s jacket in his fists, “if you ever want company, you’ll always be welcome to break into my bedroom.” He rests his chin on Derek’s shoulder and breathes in. “If you want to.”
An all-consuming warmth rushes through Derek’s veins, and it’s like nothing he’s ever felt before, it’s this… this relief, this fondness. “Stiles,” he murmurs, pulling out of the hug just enough.
Stiles’ gaze flits across Derek’s face, searching for something, and he’s about to speak up when Derek kisses him.
At first it’s hesitant, because for all Derek knows he’s overstepping any and all boundaries between Stiles and himself. It just starts as brief moments of contact, of Stiles’ stupidly perfect lips meeting Derek’s rougher ones, but then Stiles makes this little whine in the back of his throat and Derek can’t help it when he kisses harder.
It turns out that Stiles’ long fingers are a perfect match for Derek’s short hair, and Derek’s calloused palms were meant to be cupped around Stiles’ freckled cheeks, and everything feels like too much and not enough all at once. It’s slow and it’s quiet and it’s warm. It’s comfortable. And it feels so fucking intimate that Derek can feel the blush scorching his cheeks, and he can feel Stiles shivering, and when they break apart there’s nothing but actual tangible heat between them.
“Derek,” Stiles rasps, more breath than voice. His heartbeat races in Derek’s ears.
Derek just leans forward and rubs his cheek against Stiles’, buries his face into the crook of Stiles’ neck and inhales deeply, so deeply. He presses his lips to Stiles’ neck and closes his eyes, content, feeling a thousand times better than he did earlier in the day. Probably better than he’s ever felt in his whole life, actually.
Stiles goes, “You should stay here.” His voice vibrates in his throat against Derek’s lips. “Sleep here. I don’t want you to have to be by yourself.”
So Derek stays.