Actions

Work Header

Permanent Fixture

Chapter Text


No matter how many times she tried shaking it, the pregnancy test just refused to turn negative. She had tried jumping up and down, tossing it in the air, shaking it like an Etch A Sketch, but nothing worked. This was the third test she had taken and none of them had given her the result she was looking for.

Melissa Delgado was 16 years-old and pregnant. Her mom was going to kill her. She had been given the “wait until marriage” speech about a hundred times. And there was nothing wrong with waiting until you were married, but Melissa didn’t want to wait. Especially since she was with the man she was convinced she would spend the rest of her life with. What could possibly go wrong?

Getting up from the bathroom floor, Melissa headed into her room and grabbed the phone her dad had set up for her. She dialed James’s home number and his mom picked up on the second ring.

“Hello?”

“Oh, hi Mrs. McHale. This is Melissa, I was wondering if I could talk to James.”

“Sure, sweetie. Just give me a moment, I’ll go get him.”

“Going to get him” apparently translated into holding the phone away and shouting for James to get his butt downstairs to accept the phone call. There were sounds of shuffling from the other line as phones were exchanged.

“Hey Mels,” James greeted from the other line.

“Hi James,” Melissa said, feeling some sort of relief from hearing his voice. “Can you come over? I really need to tell you something and I don’t want to do it over the phone.”

“Yeah, sure.”

They said their goodbyes and Melissa hung out, slumping against her bedroom wall before sinking to the floor. What if he didn’t want the baby? What if he didn’t want her? What if he tried to insist that it wasn’t his?

No. James wouldn’t do that. Melissa pushed all of the negative thoughts from her head and tried to focus on something more positive. James definitely wanted the baby and her. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He loved her. They would get married. Everything would be fine.

The doorbell rang and Melissa stood up, listening as her mother opened the door and let James in. They talked for a bit about school and how football was going before Melissa heard James coming up the stairs.

She sat down on her bed and waited for him to open the door. She could do this. This was easy. All she had to do was tell him that she was pregnant.

Okay, so maybe it was far from easy.

“Hey you,” James said as he entered the room.

“Hi,” Melissa said, her voice resembling something of a squeak.

James smiled and sat down next to her on the bed. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick kiss. “What do you want to tell me?”

Melissa continued to look at James with her mouth firmly shut. She tried smiling, but the corners of her mouth weren’t working properly and she just started to shake her head. Tears welled up in her eyes and an instant later James had both of his arms around her as he held her close.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” he asked, concern consuming his voice.

“James, I’m-,” she started, another sob escaping from her. “I’m-.”

“You’re what?” James pressed, concern turning to panic. “Melissa, what’s wrong?”

“I’m pregnant!” she finally blurted before pressing a hand against her mouth and scooting away for him in horror.

She had said it. It was out there. And she was absolutely terrified.

“Are you… sure?” James asked slowly after some of the initial shock had worn off.

“Yeah, I took three tests and they were all positive and my period is over a week late.”

James continued to look at her in shock before slowly nodding his head. Melissa wasn’t sure if this made her feel better or worse.

“What are we going to do?” she asked.

“Well, do you want to keep the baby?”

“Yes.”

He nodded again. She was really getting tired of him nodding.

“Then, Melissa Delgado, will you marry me?”

At the time it had felt like all of her dreams had come true. Everything felt so right as soon as he asked that. Of course she had said yes. So, they got married a month later and months after that on November 7th, 1988 Melissa gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He had James’s green eyes and black hair, but Melissa could still see bits of her in him too. They named him Derek and things were practically perfect.

In fact things were more than perfect. They both finished high school and while Melissa went off to college (because James knew how much becoming a nurse meant to her) he would stay home with Derek. And when James was off working, Melissa would stay home with Derek.

He was a happy baby and a destructive toddler, so it was safe to say that he was perfectly normal and content. As he grew older it didn’t seem to matter to him that he lived in a one-room apartment, or that his parents were younger than everyone else’s parents. Derek was fine, but Melissa and James were falling apart.

Derek was five and Melissa was finishing up her undergrad and applying to medical school. And James was drinking and gambling and doing God knew what else. He would come home after work angry and vocal and Melissa would take Derek out to her parents’ house to stay for the night.

But with James being angry came him being persuasive. Melissa was trying to decide whether to get a divorce or not (she wanted one, but what was best for Derek?) when James started being nice again. He started being gentle and taking Derek to baseball games and working overtime and rubbing her shoulders as she prepared for finals.

And of course with all of that safety and security finally coming back to her sex came back to her as well. An all too familiar scene happened with her sitting on the bathroom floor with yet another positive pregnancy test in her hands.

On October 21st, 1994 Scott was born. Melissa thought that maybe with Scott, James would continue being kind. But he soon went back to his old ways. Things were getting even worse and Melissa was at a loss. Her parents urged her to move back in with them with Derek and Scott, but Melissa didn’t want to take them away from their father.

She didn’t have to take them away in the end though.

On Scott’s third birthday, James went out to buy birthday candles and never came back. Even though Derek’s ninth birthday was just a little over two weeks away, he just left without any other contact.

The family of three moved back into the Delgado household and Melissa changed her last name back. She finally became a nurse when Scott started the third grade and her parents bought them a house. Of course Melissa had refused to accept it, but they pushed. They said that they had enough money and that her boys needed a place of their own. She reluctantly accepted and the small family moved into a small two-story house in Beacon Hills, hours away from where they had once lived.

 

OoOoOoO

Derek knew that he shouldn’t blame Scott. He shouldn’t blame his mother either. He should blame his father. Because he knew now that his father was a bastard. His father was a coward and a pathetic excuse for a man. He understood that.

It was just hard being a part of a family that he didn’t feel like he belonged to. Scott looked like their mother with soft brown waves, brown eyes, and tan skin. Derek looked like his father with black hair, green eyes, and sharp features. They looked related, but people thought he looked like a cousin, not a brother.

Frustration became an emotion that he felt too often. He got aggravated at the smallest of things. Sometimes he would hear his mom on the phone with grandma talking about how he seemed so angry all of the time, how his academics were fine but he was lacking in the social department. He got frustrated by it all, so he did what every older brother does.

He took it out on Scott.

First it was just little stuff like hiding his favorite toys and stealing his dessert when their mom wasn’t looking, because that was easy. Scott would get pouty, but he recognized the challenge. He didn’t cry about it or tell on Derek, he just glared at him and promised to get even. He never did though.

Scott got diagnosed with asthma and Derek laughed at him. His little brother was ever the trooper though as he just rolled his eyes and told him that it was fine. If having an inhaler meant that he could breathe better, then he wanted the inhaler. Derek didn’t have anything to say to that.

Then as time passed he started to bring him down. He called him a “loser” and a “freak” and all of the typical names. But then he started pressing more because Scott was getting older and he could take it. One time he pressed too far though.

It was Scott’s 8th birthday. They still lived with Grandpa and Grandma so there were five of them. They went out to eat and came back to the house for cake and ice-cream and presents. Derek was almost 14 and would be starting high school the next year so the last thing he wanted was to be with his little brother and mom and grandparents.

That’s how he made it look anyway. He didn’t mind spending time with his family, especially since he virtually had no friends at school. He had people that he hanged out with, but they didn’t feel like friends.

Derek would still rather be hanging out with them than celebrating his brother’s birthday. They ate dessert and Scott opened his presents and his mom cleaned up while his grandparents went to bed. Derek was sitting at the kitchen table, watching as Scott carefully put all of his presents back into a big gift bag to make it easier to carry upstairs.

“Five years ago on your birthday was when Dad left.”

Scott looked up from his work to meet Derek’s gaze with wide eyes. “What?”

“Dad left on your third birthday because he didn’t love you. He couldn’t stand looking at you and why would he love an idiot like you who has asthma and gets crummy grades and reads stupid comic books? It’s all your fault, Scott.”

“Mom says that it’s bad to lie,” Scott said, even though it was easy to see that he believed Derek.

“I’m not lying.”

“Yes you are! Dad left because he had to. He had important stuff to do-!”

“Like what?” Derek asked, standing up and leaning across the dining room table. “Mom lied. He didn’t leave because he had important things to do; he left because he couldn’t stand to look at your stupid face every day!”

“Derek!”

Scott and Derek looked up to see their mother standing in the doorway to the dining room. She had tears in her eyes and Derek felt his gut twist. He pushed his chair back and stormed out of the room, but not before hearing his mom console a crying Scott.

“Why is he so mean?”

“Your brother just… he has a lot of anger held up inside of him. He’s different from you, he’s just like…”

She trailed off, but Derek still knew what she was thinking. He was just like his father.

After that he stopped acting mean to Scott. He chose to ignore him instead. They moved to Beacon Hills a week before Derek entered his sophomore year and Scott started the fourth grade. Avoiding each became easier in a house with less people. Their mom got a job at the hospital and was put on the night shift almost every day. Derek would make dinner for two and eat his half before knocking on Scott’s door to signal that there was food downstairs.

It was the night before school started and Scott was freaking out. Their mom was trying to calm him down, but he seemed terrified at the prospect of starting at a new place where he didn’t know anyone. Derek was tempted to point out that he didn’t have any friends at his old school, but he refrained. He had stopped being a terrible brother by not being a brother at all. He wasn’t going to ruin that with some smartass comment.

Eventually Scott calmed down and went to sleep at eight because now he was too excited about school. For some reason Scott was excited to go to middle school in two years even though middle school sucked. Well, Scott didn’t exactly know better since Derek had never told him how much middle school sucked. And their mom always told Scott how each year of school would be even better than the last.

After Scott’s first day of school he came home with a huge smile on his face. “Guess what?”

It took a while for Derek to realize that he was talking to him. “What?”

“I’ve got a friend!” he exclaimed, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

“Good for you.”

“His name is Stiles Stilinski.”

There was a short pause and Derek must have made a face because Scott’s excitement instantly faded away. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Derek shrugged. “I just find it hard to believe that someone named their kid Stiles Stilinski. Are you sure he’s not an imaginary friend?”

“He’s real,” Scott said, folding his arms against his chest and pouting.

Derek rolled his eyes, turning back to the book they were assigned in English. “Whatever you say, Scott.”

Scott looked like he was about to argue again when Melissa came in the room. “He is real, Derek. I talked to his mom while we waited to pick them up. He seemed like a very… lively boy.”

“Yeah, and he’s even coming over after school tomorrow to play video games,” Scott said, a hint of smugness in his voice.

“Sounds thrilling,” Derek said, not even attempting to read the book anymore since he was just rereading the same paragraph over and over again.

“I think you’re just jealous.”

That got his attention. Derek finally put down the book and made a waving motion with his hand. “Care to elaborate?”

“Well, you don’t have any friends and I have one now.”

A quick glance to his mother was all Derek needed to see that she thought this was amusing. Derek wasn’t shy or scared of people, he was just introverted. He liked to keep to himself and most people respected that.

“I like being alone.”

“Sure you do,” Scott said condescendingly, nodding his head slowly and patting Derek on his arm.

Before Derek could say anything more, Scott dashed out of the room and to the kitchen to get a snack. Their mom was still leaning against the doorway, giving Derek a soft smile.

“What?” he asked, perking an eyebrow.

“You didn’t snap at him or try to bring him down.”

“Yeah, well, I’m past that,” Derek shrugged, picking up his book once again. He glared at the same paragraph until his mom placed a kiss on the top of his head and went to the kitchen to help Scott.

Derek rode the bus in the afternoons since his school let out before Scott’s and their mom drove him home. He got home to an empty house every day, leaving him time to do whatever he wanted. This usually meant that he did his homework since that was the only thing he could think to do.

The second day of school was over and he was sitting at the kitchen table, doing his Algebra 2 homework and trying not to look in the back for the answers to the odd numbers. He heard the front door open, but didn’t bother looking up from his work. It was just his mom and Scott and Scott’s new friend. Even though he couldn’t remember what his name was. It was something ridiculous, he knew that.

“C’mon, Stiles, the XBOX is in here,” Scott said.

Stiles. Right, that was his name. Derek looked up from his work to see Scott and another nine year-old boy bolt past the kitchen and into the living room. Melissa calmly followed as she entered the kitchen, placing a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “Homework already? It’s only the second day.”

“Well, I’m taking all advanced classes and apparently there’s a lot to learn,” Derek shrugged.

“Good for you,” Melissa said, smiling at him and taking a seat from across the table. “I want to talk to you about something. And before I say anything, I want you to know that it would be a huge help to me.”

“Okay,” Derek said slowly, slightly wary of what she was going to ask.

“You got your permit on your 15 ½ birthday, right?” she started. “And on your 16th birthday you can get your intermediate license. Your grandparents are going to buy you a used car for your birthday, if you can take Scott and pick him up from school every day. I know it’s still a couple of months away, but-.”

“I’ll do it.”

Melissa seemed startled by his sudden response, but then began to grin. “Thank you, Derek. I’ll give you gas money and everything, you’re really helping out. My hours at the hospital are crazy and I can’t stick with night shifts for much longer since I take you two to school in the morning and pick Scott up and-.”

“Mom,” Derek interjected, reaching across the table and placing a hand on top of hers. “It’s fine. I’ll take care of it.”

He squeezed her hand and she smiled at him from across the table. “I’m going to get some sleep before work. Can you make dinner for three tonight? Stiles’ mom is going to pick him up around eight. I’ll be gone by then, so-.”

Mom. Go, get some rest.”

Melissa paused before nodding and standing up. She left the kitchen and headed upstairs to her bedroom. Derek heard the door click shut and turned back to his homework just as Scott entered the kitchen and stood next to Derek.

“Yeah?” Derek asked, not even bothering to look up from his textbook.

“Can you make us something to eat?”

“Scott, it’s four o’clock. Don’t you think that’s a little too early for dinner?”

“Just a snack.”

Derek sighed and finally pried his eyes away from his textbook. Scott was shuffling his feet and looking nervously at his hands. That image alone made Derek feel a pang of guilt. He just wanted his little brother not to be scared of him anymore.

“Fine,” Derek said, standing up and heading toward the pantry. “What do you guys want?”

“You can’t go wrong with popcorn.”

He had never heard that voice before, but he already knew that it belonged to Scott’s friend.

Stiles Stilinski was gangly and pale with freckles and moles dotted all over his body. His big light brown eyes and pouty lips probably got him out of trouble all of the time and his long brown hair making him look like a sheepdog only contributed to that fact. Along with his black Converse and Star Wars t-shirt it was plain to see that he was a perfect friend for Scott. He was a complete nerd.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer, buddy.”

A nerd with a smart mouth. Great.

“I don’t need to take a picture since you’re going to be hanging around my house for the next four hours. And I’m making you dinner, so remember that.”

Stiles was about to open his mouth to retort, but Derek turned his back to him, opening the pantry door. He grabbed the box of popcorn from it and took out a pack, taking the plastic off of it, and putting it in the microwave. Derek leaned against the counter as the microwave hummed, folding his arms across his chest and looking at the two boys.

“So, how’s the fourth grade?”

Scott looked slightly baffled at Derek actually talking to him. His small moment of silence allowed Stiles to pipe up. “It’s okay. We’re reviewing fractions in math, so it’s pretty boring right now. Our teacher seems pretty cool though. I mean he smells kind of weird, but after a while you get used to it and you can’t smell it anymore, but after we come back in the room after lunch the smell like punches you in the face-.”

It was at that moment that Derek realized that Stiles had ADHD. He glanced at Scott, but he was just grinning and nodding along to everything that Stiles is saying. Apparently with friendship comes ignorance.

“-the good thing is that Lydia Martin is in our class again. She was in my class last year which is great because we’re getting married and-.”

The microwave beeped and Derek let out a sigh of relief. He grabbed a big mixing bowl from one of the cabinets and poured the popcorn into it before thrusting it into Scott’s hands. “Dinner’s at seven.”

Derek managed to finish his homework before he started to make dinner. He made hamburger macaroni since everyone liked hamburger macaroni and it was ridiculously easy. Right at seven o’clock, Scott and Stiles bounded into the kitchen. Derek divided it into three bowls and set two on the table before grabbing his.

“Where are you going?” Scott asked.

“I’m going to eat in my room.”

“Oh. Okay.”

There was a short pause as Derek looked from the staircase to Scott sitting at the table. His gaze went to Stiles who was sitting silently at the table, looking intently at his food. Derek sighed before placing his bowl next to Scott’s and sitting down.

Scott’s face lit up as he scooped a spoonful of macaroni. “So, how’s the tenth grade?”

Stiles started to become a permanent fixture in their lives. At least three times a week he would come over after school and eat their food and watch their TV and make it his life mission to bug the shit out of Derek. He talked constantly and was always looking at Derek’s textbooks, making remarks about how easy all of it looked. It had gotten to the point where Derek had given Stiles his Chemistry textbook and told him to do the homework for him if he was so smart. Stiles had said that it was kind of pathetic that Derek had to get a nine year-old to do his homework for him.

So by no means, Derek was the president of Stiles’ fan club, but it was a mutual feeling.The loud mouth kid wasn’t Derek’s first choice to be Scott’s best friend (maybe someone quiet or thoughtful), but he was happy to see that Scott wasn’t alone anymore. In fact it seemed that Scott and Stiles were inseparable since they practically spent every waking moment together. “Scott and Stiles” seemed to be a term used around town and wherever there was Scott, Stiles was usually right beside him.

It got to the point where Derek started to wonder if they had any other friends. Wasn’t it possible to have other friends even when you just had one best friend? Derek wasn’t an expert on friend-making, but he kind of got the feeling that Stiles was just as much of a loner as Scott was before they met each other.

After Derek realized that the three of them fell into the “Alone Club”, he let up on them. Derek didn’t mind being alone, and he was getting to the point of no return, but they were both still in elementary school. They had middle and high school to get through and they would definitely grow out of their awkward phases (well, Scott probably would).

 

OoOoOoO

His 16th birthday had fallen on a Sunday that year. Their grandparents had come into town to celebrate with Melissa, Derek, and Scott. Derek went with his grandfather to take his driver’s license exam and then drove back to the house in his new (used) car. It was a black Honda Accord and only a few years old. Melissa had told them that she had expected an old pick-up truck and had refused to accept something so nice, but they had insisted. Besides, it was more like the family’s car since Derek would be driving Scott to and from school.

The following Monday was Melissa’s first shift working normal times instead of nights and Derek’s first day taking Scott to school.

“Be careful,” Melissa said as Derek and Scott slowly inched their way toward the front door. “Drive safe. Wear a seatbelt. Look out for pedestrians. Don’t leave the school parking lot until you’re sure that he’s safe inside the school. When you pick him up after school, park the car at the side entrance and-.”

“-head into the gym where Mrs. Stilinski will be waiting by the bleachers,” Derek finished on autopilot. “Actually talk to Mrs. Stilinski. Don’t just ignore her. I know you don’t like talking to people, Derek, but she’s really lovely and-.”

“Okay, we get the point, Hot Shot,” Melissa said, rolling her eyes before looking at her two sons. “Oh, why do I feel like I’m sending you two off to war?”

“Who knows?” Scott shrugged. “It’s not even the first day of school and Derek drives slower than you do.”

“I only drive slowly wheneverMom’s in the car with me.”

Before Melissa could say anything to that comment, Derek grabbed Scott’s arm and tugged him out of the front door. They headed to the Accord that was parked in the driveway and got in. Derek was tossing his backpack into the backseat when Scott tugged on his jacket sleeve.

“Don’t look now, but Mom’s standing on the front porch looking like she’s about to cry.”

Despite Scott’s advice, Derek did look. She was indeed looking on the verge of tears, clutching a hand over her heart. She met Derek’s eyes and gave a small wave while mouthing an “I love you”. He waved back and gave a smile before buckling his seatbelt.

He dropped off Scott with no problems and made it to Beacon Hills High with five minutes before the first bell rang. The day passed by slowly and predictably. Some girl asked him out and he had declined, Coach Finstock had all but thrown himself at him while trying to get him to join the lacrosse team, and he had almost fallen asleep in Chemistry. It was a blessing when the final bell rang and he was able to go pick up Scott.

The elementary school was about a 10 minute drive from the high school, so he got there five minutes early. He followed the directions his mother had basically drilled into his head and made it into the gym with time to spare.

Everyone in the gym was a mom. There weren’t any dads or older siblings, so Derek felt significantly out of place as he walked in. The feeling of everyone’s eyes on him made him feel more than uncomfortable and he ignored it as best as he could while making his way to the bleachers toward Stiles’ mom.

“Hi Derek.”

“Hi Mrs. Stilinski.”

Derek stood next to the brunette as she looked anxiously toward the gym doors where the kids would be coming through any minute now. He hadn’t really talked to Mrs. Stilinski before. They already had the standard “What are you studying in school?” discussion along with “What do you want to major in when you go to college?” and “Do you have a girlfriend?” questions. She was a nice lady, but Derek always felt awkward around her. She had a calming nature that was so different from Stiles that Derek wondered if they were even related. Obviously they were though since Stiles basically got all of his physical features from her.

“So, how was school?” she asked, looking from the gym doors to him and back again.

Well, Stiles probably got his antsy personality from her.

“It was good,” he shrugged. “I’ve been thinking about trying out for lacrosse.”

That was a bold-faced lie, but his mother had told him to try and make conversation.

“Really?” she asked. “That sounds fun. That’s the one with the sticks with the nets, right?”

“Right.”

There was a long silence where they just looked at each other silently before they both looked away.

“I’m terrible at small talk,” she confessed.

“Me too,” Derek said. “I guess Stiles gets his talkative side from his dad?”

“Oh, God no,” she said, shaking her head. “He’s very reserved and I’m just conversationally awkward. Don’t ask how we started dating, because you’ll never believe me.”

Even if Derek wanted to ask he didn’t get the chance. The gym doors opened and a swarm of elementary school students came rushing out. Maybe Melissa had been sending them off to war that morning. Some kids went straight to their mother while others tried to cling onto their friends as their mother tried to drag them away.

“Shit,” Derek said as he backed against the bleachers.

A mom gave him a dirty look as she scooped up a little girl with strawberry blonde pigtails. Mrs. Stilinski laughed. “You might want to watch your language around the PTA moms.”

“Yeah, good point,” Derek said, still looking at the gym doors where students just kept coming through. “Where are they?”

“Stiles and Scott always stay toward the back so they won’t get trampled. Stiles perfected a system back in the first grade.”

Derek just nodded as he continued to look at all of the kids rushing through. Eventually the crowd thinned until there were no more kids. Derek was about to look at Mrs. Stilinski questioningly when he saw Scott and Stiles striding through the doors and walking leisurely across the gym.

“They hide out in the boys’ bathroom until they don’t hear anyone else in the halls,” Mrs. Stilinski explained.

Yeah, that was pretty smart. The two boys made their way toward them. Scott smiled at Derek while Stiles looked confusedly at his mom.

“Mom, I always go to Scott’s on Mondays,” Stiles said, not even being bothered as Mrs. Stilinski wrapped her arms around her son and kissed him noisily on the cheek.

“I know, but today you have a haircut appointment.”

Apparently the word “haircut” was all it took to strike terror into Stiles’ heart. He parted his ridiculous sheepdog bangs and did a good job of looking absolutely scandalized. “I thought you loved me.”

“Oh, stop with the dramatics,” Mrs. Stilinski said as she crouched down in front of him. “I’m only going to tell them to give you a buzz cut.”

Derek took that back. “Haircut” wasn’t the magic word; it was “buzz cut”. Derek thought that Stiles might need to borrow Scott’s inhaler at the mention of a buzz cut.

“I’m joking!” Mrs. Stilinski said, ruffling his hair. “It’s just a trim. I miss being able to see those beautiful eyes every day.”

“Mom, you just have to look in a mirror to see my eyes,” Stiles said. “We have the same eyes.”

Their banter went back and forth for a bit longer, so Derek turned to Scott. “How was school?”

“It was okay,” Scott shrugged. “How about you?”

“Same.”

Dropping off and picking up Scott from school every day became an easy enough routine. Derek liked the freedom of having his own car and driving to the elementary school was hardly a hassle. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays he would take both Scott and Stiles home while on Tuesdays and Thursdays he talked with Mrs. Stilinski while waiting for the boys.

Eventually the small talk dissipated and they talked about more interesting things. John Stilinski, Stiles’ father, was a police officer while Mrs. Stilinski (who insisted on him calling her “Aria” since “Mrs. Stilinski” made her feel old) was a stay home mom.

“I went to art school, I had a portfolio, but then I met John,” Aria told Derek on the last Thursday before winter break. “And then we got married and our little hyperactive bundle of joy came into our world. I became a mom and art just kind of got pushed to the side.”

“Do you ever think of trying again?” Derek asked.

“Maybe when Stiles graduates high school,” she said. “When he’s in college, or maybe when he’s just older. Your mom is awesome though.”

“What do you mean?”

“Getting pregnant at 16 and pregnant again after that and still going to med school and becoming a nurse?” Aria said. “Now, that is a work ethic I would love to have. But we artsy types are way too lazy for that, right?”

“Yeah.”

She was the first person Derek had ever told about wanting to be an architect. Well, he hadn’t told her as much as she found out. It was a Wednesday and Derek was sitting on the bleachers, sketching in his notebook when she had sat down next to him and asked him what he was drawing. Stiles had a dentist appointment that day, so she was there to pick him up.

(“But they scrape your teeth, Mom. There’s no way that can be good for you.”)

Aria had all but snatched the notebook from him as she flipped through page after page.

“These are all buildings,” she had said.

“Well, I want to be an architect,” he had admitted, scratching the back of his neck.

Her face had instantly lit up as she basically interrogated him. It had been nice to finally tell someone about it. Especially since she was so supportive and even recommended him to a few colleges with good programs.

Christmas break had actually been productive. Derek got a job at a local art store (according to the manager he was “dark and mysterious” and that attracted artsy people into the store) and continued to drive Scott and Stiles around wherever they wanted. His grandparents bought him a cellphone, much to his mother’s chagrin, and he actually met someone.

It was a particularly slow day at the store (slower than usual) when a girl with wavy black hair and green eyes came in the store. Her cheeks were flushed and she looked like she was shivering. Derek was at the register and he watched as she looked around the store with her hands on her hips. Her eyes caught Derek’s and he felt his jaw open slightly. She looked like an older, girl version of himself.

“Whoa,” she said, obviously realizing the same thing as Derek. “They say it’s bad luck to meet your doppelganger, right?”

“That’s what they say,” he said, still staring at the girl.

“Well, you’re not a girl, so I guess it doesn’t count…” she trailed off, walking to the counter and grabbing his nametag. “Derek. Your last name wouldn’t be Hale, would it?”

“It’s McHale.”

“Of course it is,” she said. “Well, I’m Laura Hale and I just moved into town and I need a job. My roommate ditched me and my rich uncle isn’t answering his phone.”

“Rich uncle?”

“Yeah, I think he’s in Hawaii getting fanned with giant palm leaves by girls in bikinis while they feed him grapes. My parents passed away a few years ago and he’s my money source and why am I telling a complete stranger my life story?”

“I probably just have one of those faces.”

Laura seemed to scrutinize him for a moment before tilting her head back and laughing. “Oh wow! I didn’t think that a guy with your bone structure could crack a joke.”

Derek was about to ask her what she meant when the bell above the door chimed. He turned to see the customer, but saw Scott and Stiles hurry into the store. They seemed to be alone and even though almost everything in Beacon Hills was in walking distance they still weren’t allowed to be alone.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as soon as he noticed that Stiles was cradling his arm to his chest.

“I think I broke my arm,” Stiles said.

Scott seemed pretty bruised up as well and Derek just groaned, placing a hand on his forehead. “Why did you come here?”

“Uh, well, we didn’t want to bother Mom and-,” Stiles started.

“You two were doing something that you weren’t supposed to be doing, weren’t you?”

They both looked at the floor. “Can you drive us to the hospital?”

This was definitely going on the list of ridiculous things to ever happen to Derek in the history of his entire life. He needed to take them to the hospital, but he was the only one at the store and he couldn’t just leave his job.

Apparently his dilemma was showing, because Laura was behind the counter in a second, untying Derek’s store apron from him and shoving him away. “I’ll watch the store. You need to take care of your brothers.”

“The one with the broken arm isn’t my brother.”

“And I’m sure I’ll learn that after we get to know each other over the years we’ll be working here together. Now go!”

There wasn’t any arguing with Laura. Derek rushed back to the employees’ only room and grabbed his coat.

“You guys are explaining what happened on the way there,” he said as he entered back into the store and ushered Scott and Stiles toward the door. He looked back at Laura who was pulling her long hair back into a ponytail. “Thank you.”

“Sure thing,” she nodded, smiling at him.

The trio left the store and got into Derek’s car, Scott and Stiles getting into the backseat. Derek adjusted his rearview mirror so that he had a good view of the boys.

“What did you two idiots do this time?” he asked, pulling out of the art store’s parking lot.

Scott and Stiles looked at each other before they both burst into an explanation.

“You see there’s this lake at the preserve, right?”

“And it was frozen over since it’s so cold outside-.”

“-Which is super uncommon, because we live in Northern California, but it’s still California-.”

“-So, we thought that ice skating minus the ice skates would be fun and-.”

“And you both fell over a ton of times, but it was still fun. Well, it was fun until Stiles tripped and landed on his arm, right?” Derek finished.

The silence from the backseat was all the confirmation that Derek needed. After a few more minutes of driving the hospital came into sight. The first thing Derek did was go to the front desk and ask for his mother. They waited for a few minutes until he saw Melissa rushing down the corridor to meet them.

“Stiles broke his arm,” Derek said as a way of greeting.

Melissa opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before looking down at Scott and Stiles who had both found entertainment in the source of their shoelaces.

“I’ll take Scott to the waiting room to talk with him,” Melissa said. “Call Stiles’ parents and stay with him until they get here.”

Derek nodded in understanding before he placed a hand on Stiles’ shoulder and directed him back toward the front desk. A nurse showed them to a room with an X-Ray machine and Stiles sat on the table while Derek sat in one of the hard plastic chairs.

“Call my mom instead of my dad,” Stiles said.

“I’m calling your house, so whoever picks up, picks up,” Derek shrugged.

Stiles groaned before crossing his fingers and muttering “Mom please pick up, Mom please pick up, Mom please pick up…”. The phone started to ring as soon as the doctor came in. Derek gave him a half-smile as Stiles got ready for his X-Ray. Stiles stuck his tongue out at Derek. He shrugged.

The phone was picked up at the fourth ring. “Hello?”

“Hi, Mr. Stilinski,” Derek greeted, smirking at Stiles whose face had turned to one of terror. “This is Derek McHale and I’m with Stiles at the hospital.”

“The hospital?” Mr. Stilinski asked. “Is he all right?”

The doctor motioned for Derek to leave the room since he was about to take the X-Ray. Derek headed outside to be glared at by a nurse. Oh, right. No cellphones in hospitals.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Derek said before thinking about it more. “Well, he might have a broken arm.”

There was a groan heard from the other line. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

Stiles’ arm was a clean break, but he was still grounded. No TV for a week and he couldn’t come over to Scott’s house for the first week back to school. Scott’s punishment was identical which had him pouting around the house for the rest of winter break.

 

OoOoOoO

Summer came and went faster than it should have. Derek spent most of it at the art store working with Laura who he could safely call his best friend. She was three years older than him and a college drop-out. Laura was practically a social butterfly, but she had confessed to Derek that she didn’t really have anyone that she could truly confide in until she had met him. Then she had punched him in the shoulder and said that she hated it when he got all sappy on her.

The other part of his summer was spent driving Scott and Stiles places and helping his mom remodel part of the house. He had finally told her about wanting to be an architect and she had practically thrown her arms around him saying how happy she was.

So, the summer had been great. The first couple of months of his junior year had been fine as well. He had a lot more schoolwork now that he was taking AP classes, but he managed. The art store was rarely busy, so he had plenty of time to do his homework. He continued to take and pick up Scott at school while continuing to talk with Mrs. Stilinski.

Everything was peaceful for once, so of course that’s when something had to happen.

A week had passed since his 17th birthday and Laura was in the back of the store taking inventory. Derek was working on his Biology homework when the store bell chimed. He didn’t bother looking up since he figured the customer would look around before needing to check out.

It wasn’t until someone ringed the bell on the counter (that was probably the first time it had been used) that he looked up.

She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. With long dirty blonde hair, tan skin, and green eyes. She was probably older than Laura, but he couldn’t even find himself caring.

“Hi,” she greeted, leaning against the counter and smiling at him. “I need some help picking out a gift for my niece. She’s going through a painting phase.”

“Uh, right,” Derek said, nodding.

There was silence as they continued to look at each other. The woman pressed her lips together as she started to grin at Derek. “You’re adorable.”

Even though that was something she probably told little kids it still got Derek’s heart pounding in his chest. He attempted to clear his throat, but his body apparently thought that he wanted to grin like a complete idiot instead.

“So, my niece really likes painting now,” she said. “Her birthday is in January, but Christmas is next month so I need a present. Any ideas?”

Derek finally snapped out of it when someone slapped him across the back of the head. Grabbing his head, Derek turned around to see Laura smiling at him sweetly. “Lover boy seems to have momentarily traveled to La La Land. I can show you where we have some paint sets.”

“Thanks,” the woman said, following Laura, but not before smiling and winking at Derek.

She ended up purchasing an expensive oil paint set. She signed the receipt and flipped it over before writing something on the back and giving the store copy to Derek. After she left Derek brought the receipt up to his face to read her name when Laura snatched it from him.

“No way José,” she said, stuffing the receipt into the pocket of her apron. “She is way too old for you and a complete bitch. She probably just wants a boy toy.”

“She’s not a bitch.”

“Oh yes she is. As soon as we were back there all she did was complain about Beacon Hills. Then she made me stand on a ladder for five minutes to find a paint set that was on the top shelf, but the same set was on the bottom and she just ‘happened to find it’.”

“Just give me the receipt, Laura,” Derek said, outstretching his hand toward her. “I just want to know her name.”

Laura stared at him skeptically for a few seconds before sighing and retrieving the receipt from her apron. Derek took it and looked at her loopy signature.

“Kate Argent,” he said before flipping it over to see what she had written on the back. “And her phone number.”

“No,” Laura said, lunging for the receipt.

Derek turned around and shoved it into the pocket of his jeans before glancing at the clock at the wall. “Looks like I should get going.”

“What?” Laura said, looking at the clock. “You still have 15 minutes left in your shift.”

“I’m leaving early,” he said, quickly walking to the backroom.

He took off his apron and grabbed his jacket before heading back to the counter. Laura was glaring at him with her arms folded across her chest. “You don’t have the balls to call her.”

She was right. Derek probably never would have called her. But Laura was saying it like a challenge. Derek smirked as he took his cellphone and the crumpled receipt out of his pocket. He dialed her number and held the phone up to his ear. Kate picked up and he apologized for his behavior in the store. He had just been taken aback since he hadn’t “been expecting someone so beautiful”.

“I’m going to go vomit,” Laura said, rolling her eyes.

Kate was eight years older than him and worked for her family business. She kept the rest to herself though. It didn’t matter to Derek because after going on just one date with her he was convinced that he was in love. She was beautiful and mature and smart. He was convinced that she had no flaws at all.

Laura was convinced otherwise. Whenever Kate came over to the store, Laura would watch her carefully and then act overly nice whenever they talked. Derek just thought that she was jealous, even though he had no idea as to why she would be jealous. She treated Derek like a little brother and she already had a boyfriend of her own. Maybe she was just jealous of the connection that Derek shared with Kate.

It was early December when Scott found out about Kate. Derek had plans with her, but he also had to pick Scott and Stiles up at school and drop them off at home. Kate had insisted that it was fine for her to go along with him to pick them up. So, on Friday, Derek picked up Scott and Stiles with Kate. They sat on the bleachers, holding hands while Kate made up stories about the different moms.

“Her husband is probably cheating on her,” she said, pointing to a particularly chubby woman.

“You can’t know that,” Derek said.

“Oh please,” Kate said, rolling her eyes. “If you were married to her wouldn’t you cheat on her?”

He wouldn’t. If he was married to someone he wouldn’t care what they looked like. He would have married them for a reason.

“Probably.”

Kate found the “Swarm of Kids” (Derek and Aria had given it a proper name during the first week back to school) amusing. She smirked at the little kids running around and clinging to their parents or friends.

“They can get pretty vicious, huh?” she mused.

Derek shrugged and she grinned at him, leaning against his shoulder. “Where’s your brother and his friend?”

“Just wait,” Derek said.

After the Swarm of Kids had passed, Scott and Stiles came strolling into the gym. Derek stood up and made his way down the bleachers, Kate following him with her hand still in his.

“Hey Derek,” Stiles greeted, grinning up at him before his eyes rested on Kate. “Who are you?”

Derek groaned, shaking his head. “That one isn’t my brother.”

“Well, I was hoping he wasn’t,” Kate said, crouching down in front of Scott. “I was hoping Scott would be the one with the adorable brown eyes.”

“I have brown eyes,” Stiles pointed out, glaring at Kate.

Kate ignored him as she ruffled Scott’s hair. “Hey, I’m Kate. I’m your brother’s girlfriend.”

Scott’s “adorable brown eyes” widened almost comically as he looked from Kate to Derek. “Since when do you have a girlfriend?”

“Almost a month,” Kate said, still grinning at Scott. “You know you’re the same age as my niece.”

“Does she go to school here?” Stiles asked.

“She lives in Texas though, so I don’t think you’ll meet her,” she said, ignoring Stiles.

After a few more questions, they headed to the car. Scott and Stiles got in the back while Kate slid into the front, grabbing Derek’s chin and turning his head toward her. She kissed him slowly and thoroughly, pushing her tongue into his mouth and sliding it against his.

She pulled back, smirking at him. Derek’s eyes flickered to the rearview mirror. Scott looked slightly ill while Stiles just glared at Kate. The car was uncomfortably silent as they drove back to the house. Derek stopped in the driveway, but kept the car running.

“You’re not coming in?” Scott asked as he grabbed his backpack and opened the door.

“No, tell Mom I’ll be back before curfew.”

Scott nodded slowly before exiting the car, looking at Kate. “Nice to meet you.”

Kate smiled as she watched Scott make his way to the front door where Stiles was already standing, a scowl on his face. Derek pulled out of the driveway and started to drive toward the exit of the neighborhood.

“Where to?” he asked.

“Let’s head back to my apartment,” she said.

Derek felt his heart start to pound and his hands start to sweat. Maybe it was finally happening. Of course it was happening, she was an older woman with experience and he was a 17 year-old virgin.

His eyes flickered over to Kate. She was sitting in the passenger seat, smirking at him, completely aware of his inner turmoil.

“Your brother is adorable,” she said. “But what is up with that Stiles kid?”

“Stiles?” Derek repeated, raising an eyebrow at her. “I don’t know. He was acting weird today.”

“You mean he doesn’t go around glaring at anyone who comes within a two foot radius of you?”

“What do you mean?”

Kate looked at him thoughtfully, pursing her lips together before shaking her head. “Forget about it.”

Derek didn’t push the topic any further as he drove to her apartment building. She told him when to turn and soon they were parked in front of the building. Kate got out of the car and motioned for him to follow her.

Laura lived in the same apartment building. If she saw him she would never let him live it down, but right now that was the least of his worries. He followed Kate into the building and got into the elevator in the lobby. They rode it to the top floor and by then his hands were sweating even more. Kate seemed to be enjoying his anxiety, grinning as she watched him. She led him to an apartment door and he followed, his heart feeling like it was going to burst through his chest.

Her apartment was upscale, but crowded due to the number of boxes stacked around. She walked through the apartment to room in the back, not commenting on the boxes.

“Have you not unpacked yet?” he asked, walking into the room where there was only a bed and a few other pieces of furniture, no personal items.

She didn’t answer him as she turned around, grabbing his shirt and pushing him down onto the bed. He fell onto his back and didn’t have a second to register what was happening when she straddled his hips and slipped her shirt over her head.

His first time was awkward and clumsy on his part, but Kate made up for it by being perfect. She was completely in control and he was more than happy to let her have that control. He knew the gist of what he was doing, but for most of it he was at a complete loss.

And when it was over she told him that she loved him and he believed her. She had said it with such truth and conviction in her voice that he didn’t know how he couldn’t believe her. Derek had instantly said it back and she had smiled.

Then his phone rang.

“Let it ring,” she said.

“I’m just going to see who it is,” he said.

Derek leaned over the side of the bed and grabbed his jeans that were on the floor. He took his phone out of the pocket and checked the caller ID. It was his mom and it was also 20 minutes after his curfew.

 “Shit,” he said, getting out of the bed and quickly getting dressed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’m late for curfew,” he said.

Kate let out a snort, shaking her head. “Well, bye.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, leaning over and kissing her.

She gave him a smile before he left her apartment. He made it back home in 10 minutes with Melissa waiting for him in the living room.

“I’m sorry,” he said instantly.

He expected yelling. He expected head shaking. He expected to get grounded.

What he got was his mother’s arms wrapping around him. “You’re a teenager! I knew you were deep down inside!”

“Uh, what?” Derek asked, patting his mom awkwardly on the back.

“I was so happy when you got a job and you and Laura started being friends and now you’re staying out after your curfew!” Melissa said, pulling back from Derek to put her hands on his shoulders to look at him. “Congratulations! You’re a normal teenager!”

“So, you’re not mad?” he asked.

“Of course I’m mad,” she said, still smiling and patting him on the back. “You’re grounded for a week. No using the car for anything but school and work.”

He should have seen that coming. Tomorrow was Saturday and he told his mom he was working from 10-4 even though it was only a 4 hour day for him. He planned on going to Kate’s apartment after work, but that thought was challenged when he saw Laura.

Laura came in at 12 and as soon as she saw him she wrapped her arms around him. “I’m sorry, sweetie.”

“What for?” he asked.

“You don’t know?” she asked.

Derek shook his head and the only word to describe her expression was pity. She pitied him and he didn’t even know why.

“When was the last time you talked to Kate?”

“Yesterday night after we…” he trailed off, a smile overcoming his face.

Laura looked at him for a moment before she looked like she realized something. Her mouth fell open and she covered it with her hand. “Oh, Derek. I’m so sorry.”

Now he was just getting aggravated. “Sorry for what?”

“She moved today. We live in the same apartment building and I saw movers coming in and taking out all of her stuff.”

Derek felt like someone had punched him in the stomach. It didn’t make any sense though. They had made love yesterday. Why would she just leave after all of that? Why would she tell him that she loved him if she was just going to leave?

Then he realized that she had never answered his question about the boxes. He went to her apartment after work to find it empty. He called her cellphone number, but the number wasn’t in service anymore.

 

OoOoOoO

The rest of his junior year went by quickly. The last day of school was on Friday and it was Monday and Scott was sick. He had a fever and their mom was staying home with him. Derek left later than usual since he didn’t have to drop him off that day. He was happy that he would just have to drive straight home when he realized that it was a Monday. He usually picked up Stiles on Mondays and his mom probably hadn’t called Aria to tell her that Scott wouldn’t be at school that day. Derek contemplated calling Aria to tell her, but then decided to just pick up Stiles himself.

When he arrived at the elementary school Aria wasn’t there, so he knew that he had made the right call. He would just drive Stiles to his house, then head on home. Or he could call his mom and tell her he had to go into work when he was really getting his tattoo.

He had been thinking about it for a while. “A while” translating into when Kate had left. It had taken him about a month to accept what Laura had always told him. She was a heartless bitch who hadn’t been looking for anything serious and hadn’t thought to tell him that. He had been such a complete idiot. Obviously falling in love wasn’t for him. Nevertheless, it had been an important (if painful) part of his life. So, he wanted to do something to solidify that. A tattoo made the most sense and even though he didn’t turn 18 until November, he still didn’t feel like waiting.

After he dropped off Stiles he would head to the parlor 15 minutes out of Beacon Hills and get it done. And try to hide it from his mom as long as he could. They were going to the beach with their grandparents this summer on vacation. He’d probably have a week of summer to enjoy before Melissa killed him.

Derek was brought out of his thoughts by the Swarm of Kids. He was sitting on the top row of the bleachers, so he was able to get a good overview. Once the swarm had ended he watched the gym doors and waited for Stiles to come out.

Once he entered the gym he didn’t do it with the usual swagger that he had when he was with Scott. He actually looked a little nervous. He probably thought that no one was there to get him since Scott hadn’t been at school.

Derek watched as Stiles scanned the gym, eyes eventually traveling toward the bleachers, up the bleachers, and finally settling on Derek. Instantly his eyes lit up and he bounded toward the bleachers, quickly running up the steps.

“Dude, I thought I was done for,” Stiles said, standing on the step in front of Derek.

“How so?”

“Well Scott wasn’t here and my mom doesn’t get me on Mondays,” Stiles explained. “Scott’s been absent like two times this year and they were both on Tuesdays. You’re a lifesaver!”

“I wouldn’t say a lifesaver, but you’re welcome,” Derek shrugged, standing up and making his way down the bleachers. “I’m going to drop you off at home because Scott’s sick.”

“But no one’s home,” Stiles said, following Derek out of the gym. “My dad’s working and my mom’s spending time with her college roommate. My dad was supposed to pick me up from your house at eight.”

“Do you mind hanging around the house until your dad gets you?”

“Well, if Scott’s sick, then I won’t have much to do,” Stiles said. “What are you doing? Are you working? Because I can hang out at the art store if you are. I always love seeing Laura and I won’t get in the way.”

“I’m not working, I’m going to…” Derek trailed off before looking at Stiles.

Stiles’ was looking up at him expectantly, waiting for what he was going to say next. The kid couldn’t keep his mouth shut for anything, but he was loyal to a fault. If Derek told him to keep the tattoo a secret, then he wouldn’t tell anyone about it.

“I’m getting a tattoo.”

The reaction he got from Stiles was almost comical. His eyes grew even bigger than normal and his mouth dropped open. “A tattoo?”

“Yeah,” Derek said, shrugging as he headed toward his car.

“Where are you going to get it? Does it have any meaning or do you think it’s just cool to get a tattoo? Where are you going to get it done? Is it going to be big or small? What’s it going to be of?”

“My back, yes it has a meaning, a parlor outside of Beacon Hills, I guess it’s going to be kind of big, and a triskelion.”

“Bless you.”

“What?”

“You sneezed.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Then what was that noise you just made?”

“A triskelion?”

“Yeah, that.”

Derek shook his head, turning away from Stiles to get into the front seat of the car. Stiles joined him in the passenger’s seat and he tossed his backpack in the back. “What’s a triskel- whatever?”

“A triskelion is a pattern that-hold on,” Derek held up a finger before reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a folded piece of paper. He unfolded it and handed it to Stiles.

“It looks kinda girly,” Stiles said, scrunching up his nose as he turned the paper. “What’s it mean?”

Ignoring the girly comment, Derek let Stiles keep the paper as he pulled out of the elementary school parking lot. “It’s a connection of three spirals, so it can mean three different things. It’s different to each interpreter.”

“What’s it mean to you?”

“Past, present, and future,” Derek shrugged. “My past is shit, I’m currently not where I want to be, and hopefully in the future things will work out.”

“That’s cool.”

They sat in silence as Derek continued to drive. Stiles’ was bouncing up and down in his seat as he looked out the window. It pained Derek to admit that he actually liked the kid. Not only had he saved Scott from being a loner, but he was also decently intelligent and didn’t take shit from anyone. Derek could respect that.

“So, what’s your choice?” Derek asked. “Do you want to hang out with Scott until your dad gets you or do you want to come with me to get this thing and I’ll drop you off at your house afterward?”

Apparently today was Stiles’ day to seem shocked and amazed by everything that Derek said. “I can come with you?”

“If you want.”

“Hm, let me think, do I want to watch Scott sleep and get snot all over himself or watch you be in agonizing pain for a couple of hours?” Stiles mused, tapping a finger to his chin. “Yeah, I’m gonna go with the second option.”

They continued to talk (well, Stiles talked at Derek) for the rest of the ride until they arrived at the tattoo parlor. No one else was in there except for a handful of bored-looking employees. They perked up when Derek came in and didn’t even ask for proof of him being 18. Derek filled out some paperwork before they followed a girl with tattoos covering her arms into a back room. He told her what she wanted done and she nodded before telling him to take off his shirt.

“Are you scared?” Stiles asked as the girl began to clean Derek’s back with rubbing alcohol.

“No,” Derek said. “Are you scared?”

“Why would I be scared?” Stiles asked. “You’re the one getting a permanent mark on your skin that will never come off.”

“Well, you might be squeamish.”

“I’m not.”

“So, you wouldn’t have any problem getting a tattoo?”

“Nope.”

Derek smirked, looking at Stiles who had his arms folded across his chest with a defiant look on his face.

“Is he your brother?” the tattoo artist asked.

“Cousin,” Derek said almost automatically.

Stiles made a face at that. Derek didn’t ask why. “So, if you don’t have a problem with getting a tattoo, why don’t you get one?”

“Derek, I’m 11,” Stiles said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I’m not allowed to get one.”

“Yeah, but when you turn 18, would you get one?”

Stiles thought about it for a moment before shrugging. “Sure, why not?”

“Well, let’s shake on it then.”

Derek held out his right hand and Stiles stared it down for a few minutes before shrugging and slapping his hand against his. “Deal.”

After a few hours of mild pain and Stiles looking like he was going to be sick every time he looked at Derek’s back, the tattoo was finished. The artist put a bandage on it and handed him a pamphlet giving him aftercare instructions. It was past eight o’clock by a few minutes so Derek called the Stilinski household. Aria picked up the phone and Derek told her that he had taken Stiles to work with him since Scott was sick.

They were driving to the Stilinski house when Derek noticed Stiles looking at his back. He had put his shirt back on, so the bandage wasn’t even visible. “What is it?”

“Huh?” Stiles asked, jumping a little as he came out of his daze. “What’s what?”

“You’re staring at me,” Derek said.

“Pssh, no I’m not.” Stiles scoffed, looking out the window.

Derek dropped it, but several more times during the drive back to the Stilinski house he felt eyes on him.

 

OoOoOoO

Senior year was easy for Derek. The sixth grade was difficult for Scott.

All of Scott’s notions about middle school had ended up being wrong and when Derek picked him up at school the first day he had a scowl on his face.

“What’s wrong?” Derek asked as soon as Scott slipped into the front seat.

Scott didn’t say anything and Derek felt his impatience running thin. As soon as Scott had his seatbelt on Derek followed the carpool line out of the school parking lot.

“Stiles is in the advanced class,” Scott said after they had been driving for a few minutes. “We’re on the same team, but Stiles is in advanced.”

“Good for him,” Derek said.

“Yeah, but…” Scott trailed off.

“But what?”

“I’m in a class with this guy named Jackson Whittemore and he’s a complete jerk,” Scott explained. “And I figured that if I just stayed out of his way that he wouldn’t bother me. But in gym I was talking to our teacher about my asthma and Jackson overheard and made fun of me.”

“He made fun of you for having asthma?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“This guy does know that asthma is a health condition that you have no control over, right?” Derek asked, his grip on the steering wheel tightening.

“Probably. I mean, he’s not stupid or anything.”

“No, he’s not stupid, he’s just an asshole.”

There was silence from the passenger’s seat and Derek glanced over to see Scott gaping at him. Oh, maybe he had overstepped his bounds. He had spent so long distancing himself from Scott and now he was trying to defend his honor. It was probably too much for Scott to handle.

“I know!” Scott said, throwing his arms up in the air.

Or maybe it wasn’t too much for him to handle.

“It’s not like I chose to have asthma,” he said. “And having asthma doesn’t make me a nerd or a loser or anything. I just have trouble breathing and he picks on me because of that. He’s even worse to Stiles though.”

“How so?”

“Even though Stiles is in a different class, all of the boys still have gym together,” Scott said. “Stiles was talking about Lydia Martin and Jackson overheard and asked if he was talking about the red head and Stiles said yeah and Jackson kind of smirked and then after school while we were all waiting at the carpool Jackson goes over to Lydia and asks her out and she says yes and then he smirks at Stiles before getting into his family’s Porsche!”

“Inhaler, Scott,” Derek said after his brother had finished his speech.

Scott was already a step ahead of him, fishing his inhaler out of his pocket and pressing it to his mouth. He took a few breaths before turning to Derek. They stopped at a red light and Derek looked over at Scott who was still looking at him.

“So, isn’t Jackson a jerk for doing that to Stiles?” Scott said.

“Yeah, but she’s only one girl and you guys are 11,” Derek shrugged. “It was a douche move, but Stiles will get over it.”

“Uh, no, he won’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because Lydia is the love of his life!” Scott exclaimed. “He’s loved her since the third grade, Derek. He’s already told me about their wedding. Stiles and I have already decided to be best friends forever and we met in the fourth grade. He’s known Lydia longer!”

“Right,” Derek said, slowly nodding his head.

“You don’t believe me now, but just you wait,” Scott said, slumping against his seat. “I’m gonna be the best man.”

The drive back home was finished in comfortable silence. Scott went straight to the kitchen to get a snack while Derek dropped his backpack off before getting back into his car and going to work. When he got there the register was unmanned and he heard talking from the back where the sketch pads and charcoal were.

“What about this?”

“That looks good, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, it looks good, but I want it to look awesome. Not like Derek’s which is so boring.”

“What do I have that’s boring?”

Derek walked into the aisle to see Aria, Laura, and Stiles sitting on the floor, all looking at a sketchbook that Aria had in her lap.

“Your tattoo,” Stiles shrugged. “Mom is drawing my future one.”

“Wait, you told your mom about-.”

“-You taking my son to a tattoo parlor and then making him decide that he wanted one too?”

“I didn’t make him decide to get one, Aria, I promise.”

Aria eyed him cryptically for a moment before shaking her head and laughing. “I’m not upset with you, Derek. Do you think I would be drawing the design for him if I was? Besides, I’m happy that he’s telling me in advance instead of letting me find out on a family vacation.”

Derek winced at that. He had managed to avoid taking his shirt off in front of anyone for the first day of vacation. On the second day Scott was begging for him to take him to the beach. It was just the two of them so he took his shirt off and answered Scott’s 100 questions about the tattoo before they headed into the ocean. Derek had forgotten all about it when they headed back to where their mom was reading a book in a beach chair. She took one look at his back and promptly grounded him from car privileges for a month after they went back home.

“That was a mistake on my part,” Derek said, sitting down next to Laura and leaning over to get a look at the sketchbook.

Stiles grabbed the sketchbook from Aria before Derek could look though. “You’ll see when I get it done.”

“What? Seven years from now?”

“Yeah,” Aria nodded. “And you’re taking him. I get squeamish around needles. So, I guess I need to buy this sketchbook now, huh?”

“Nah, just rip the page out and but the book back on the shelf,” Laura said with a wave of her hand. “No one will know.”

Derek was just about to tell her that that was kind of going against their job when Aria shrugged, tucking the sketchbook under her arm. “I’ll buy it. I need a new sketchbook anyway.”

Laura and Aria made their way back to the register while Derek and Stiles continued to sit on the floor. Derek thought back to what Scott had told him in the car after school. He wondered if he should bring it up when Stiles brought up a subject of his own.

“My tattoo is gonna be pretty badass,” Stiles said.

“Really?” Derek asked. “What’s it going to be of? Oh wait, I won’t know until seven years from now. Too bad I forgot where I parked my TARDIS.”

Stiles didn’t say anything and Derek wondered if it was because he didn’t get the reference. He turned his head to look at Stiles who was currently gaping at him in pure shock.

“You- You, Derek McHale, watch Doctor Who?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah,” Derek shrugged.

“Oh my God, you are so much cooler than I thought you were,” Stiles said, still in a state of awe. “Did you watch ‘Doomsday’ back in July? I am not ashamed to say that I cried… a lot. And now we have to wait until the Christmas special and Rose isn’t going to be in it, so really what’s the point, but Tennant is such a good Doctor that I’ll have to watch and-.”

“You’re not going to watch Torchwood?” Derek interjected.

Torchwood?” Stiles asked. “The alien-hunting institute?”

“Yeah, well there’s going to be a spin-off show called Torchwood starring John Barrowman,” Derek shrugged. “It premieres in October.”

Derek was pretty confident that in that moment in time he was Stiles’ new favorite person. “They’re making a Doctor Who spin-off? Oh man, that is beyond awesome! What do you know about it?”

He was about to answer when Aria came walking toward them. “All right, sweetie, let’s go.”

Stiles looked from Derek to his mother as if he was torn in two. Derek made the choice for him by standing up and then pulling Stiles up to his feet.

“Derek, you’re still going to pick Stiles up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, right?” Aria asked.

“Yeah, I can do that.”

“Thank you,” she said, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ shoulder and steering him toward the entrance.

Stiles turned his head around to look at Derek. “We’re finishing this conversation!”

And that was how it started. Leading up to the fateful day of October 22nd, Derek and Stiles started marathon watching Doctor Who to get them ready for the Torchwood premiere. They only watched after school on Mondays because Derek didn’t work Mondays and Scott said that he needed Stiles for both Wednesday and Friday. It was fine though. Derek enjoyed having someone to watch the episodes with. Melissa didn’t get it and after Scott had called Billie Piper “ugly” he was officially kicked to the curb.

Stiles’ was actually a great person to watch the episodes with. Watching Doctor Who felt like the only times that Stiles’ was actually quiet. Of course he laughed or rocked back and forth in panic or excitement. And when they re-watched “Doomsday” he cried his eyes out.

(“He never got the chance to say it, Derek!” Stiles cried, wildly gesturing toward the TV.

“I know,” Derek said, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ shoulders as the boy grabbed fistfuls of tissue. “But Rose is going to come back. This is Rose Tyler we’re talking about here.”

“But they’re in parallel universes! You know what that means, Derek!”)

The Torchwood premiere was a two part episode on a Sunday. Since it wasn’t airing in America Derek had to download it on to the family computer late Sunday night. Before heading to school on Monday he checked the download to make sure it was completed.

When Scott and Stiles got into his car after school on Monday, Scott looked annoyed and Stiles was practically buzzing with excitement. They got home and Derek and Stiles all but ran toward the computer while Scott calmly walked through the front door, making sure to call them dorks at least three times.

“Are you ready?” Derek asked, the mouse hovering over the play button.

“Dude, I was born ready.”

Derek pressed play and for the next hour and a half they shut out the outside world and just watched the show. When the two episodes were over they continued to sit in front of the computer screen just staring.

“That was awesome.” “I should not have let an 11 year-old watch that.”

Stiles pried his eyes away from the ending credits to face Derek. He looked absolutely scandalized. “I am totally old enough to handle that!”

“That was a lot more graphic than Doctor Who,” Derek said.

“Yeah, so?” Stiles shrugged. “It was awesome and I have a crush on Gwen now. Don’t make me let that go. Especially since I just got over Rose.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Derek said, rolling his eyes.

He had to admit that Gwen was pretty hot, not to mention completely kickass and awesome. But for some reason Derek couldn’t help but perk up at the screen whenever Ianto showed up. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind as he turned back to Stiles.

“Tell your mom it was about the same as Doctor Who,” Derek said.

“Yes!” Stiles said, fist pumping before throwing his arms around Derek. “Thanks Derek!”

Derek patted Stiles awkwardly on the back just as Scott popped his head in the room. Stiles recoiled from Derek to turn to greet Scott.

“Hey man,” Stiles said, giving a small wave.

“Is it over yet?” Scott asked.

“Yeah.”

Scott grinned and made an ushering movement with his hands. Stiles gave Derek a final smile before heading out of the room with Scott.

It became a tradition that every Monday, Derek and Stiles would watch the new Torchwood episode. Christmas Eve had a new episode and Christmas was the Doctor Who special. They watched them back-to-back on the 26th, eating leftovers and drinking hot chocolate that Melissa was in the mood to make. The Torchwood finale was on January 7th and Doctor Who wasn’t set to come back until March. Melissa was convinced that the break was a good thing since Derek had to decide what college he was going to.

He had applied to a handful, all in California, but in the end decided on a city college that was only 20 minutes away. Derek was going to live at home so that he could still take Scott to school and pick him up. Their mom had rejected the idea at first, but after Derek had sat her down and told her that he just wanted to help she agreed.

The rest of the school year passed by smoothly with Derek and Stiles excitedly watching the new season of Doctor Who (“I totally have a crush on Martha. She’s awesome!”) and Derek actually going to prom. He went with a junior girl who had nervously asked him after first period. He picked her up and her mom took a few thousand pictures before they went out to dinner. They spent about an hour at prom before going back to Derek’s car. He drove out to the preserve and they had sex in the backseat. She had told him that he was her first, he lied and said that she was as well.

Derek graduated with honors and Melissa cried. Laura had made fun of his cap and gown. His grandparents said that they were so proud. Scott complained. The recently made Sheriff Stilinski had offered him his congratulations. Aria had pulled him into a tight hug. Stiles had followed suit with some kind of tackle hug that had ended with them falling over.

For once everything was perfect for Derek. So naturally that was when things fell apart again.

 

OoOoOoO

It was a Wednesday in November and Derek was sitting in the carpool, waiting for Scott and Stiles. He had three classes that day from 9 to 12, so he had gotten in a quick shift at the art store before coming to pick the boys up.

The doors to the backseat opened and Derek turned around to greet them. Scott was looking completely helpless as he glanced over at Stiles. And Stiles… had a buzz cut. Derek knew that he was staring and he didn’t stop until he heard someone honk their horn from behind him. He pressed down on the gas and drove out of the parking lot.

“So, uh, that’s kind of a big change, huh, Stiles?” he said, looking in his rearview mirror to see Stiles staring out of the window.

“Yeah,” Stiles shrugged.

The lack of response was even more bizarre than the new haircut. Derek was expecting a story about him getting gum in his hair and having to shave it off. Or Aria had lost her mind and had shaved it off while he slept. Or Cybermen had deleted just his hair. Anything made more sense than Stiles willingly getting a haircut.

Derek didn’t press the subject though since he felt like something was genuinely wrong. If Stiles wanted to talk about it, then he would talk about it.

“When’s Mom going to be home from work?” Scott asked, breaking the silence.

“Probably around six,” Derek shrugged. “I’m leaving as soon as I drop you two off though.”

“Why?”

“I have a date.”

Well, “date” was a word for it. After everything that had happened with Kate, Derek was pretty sure that he was fucked when it came to relationships. His “first love” had ended terribly, so terribly that he was adamant to even call it his first love. The first month of college a girl in his English class had asked him out. He had agreed and had taken her out to dinner. About 20 minutes in he realized that he was a terrible conversationalist and the date ended quickly after that. He walked her back to her dorm and at the last second she had asked if “he wanted to at least get something out of their failed date”. It was needless to say that he didn’t come back home until much after that.

So, dating wasn’t for Derek. Casual sex, on the other hand, was something he was basically a pro at. It didn’t require talking and if he never saw the person again, then there were no hard feelings. Derek was practically made for it.

The only person who knew was Laura. He had let it slip that he was seeing a guy (his Big Bisexual Freak-out had lasted about three seconds until he realized that it didn’t really matter) after work that day. She had pounced with questions about where they were going and how long they had been seeing each other and so on and so forth. When he explained everything to her she had scrunched up her nose and said that she couldn’t do it, but if he wanted to then that was his choice.

“A ‘date’, right,” Scott said, nodding his head slowly. (Okay, so maybe Scott knew about it as well.) “Guy or girl?”

Derek’s eyes flickered to the rearview mirror and saw that Stiles had perked up a bit at the comment. “It’s a girl.”

 Apparently this was the only thing Scott wanted to know. He slumped back against his seat and continued to glance nervously as Stiles.

They were almost home when Stiles finally spoke up. “Can you drop me off at home?”

“Is anyone there?” Derek asked.

“Mom should be home.”

Derek didn’t press it any further and changed his route to the Stilinski home. It was closer to the school than the McHale residence, so it didn’t take long to get there. Derek parked in the driveway next to Aria’s Jeep and without a word Stiles opened the door, thanked Derek for the ride, and then made his way to the front door. Derek wanted to make sure that Stiles was safe inside before driving off so he waited for Aria to open the door.

When she did open the door Derek barely noticed Scott getting into the front seat next to him. He barely noticed Stiles wrapping his arms around his mother. All he noticed was Aria standing in the doorway, looking frail with a scarf wrapping around her head, no brown hair spilling from underneath. It was like someone had punched him in the gut. Except being punched in the gut would have been worse.

Aria caught his eye and he snapped out of whatever daze he had been in. She waved and gave him what must have been the saddest smile he had ever seen. Scott didn’t seem to notice anything as he waved back at Aria.

Derek pulled out of the driveway and headed home. Once he got there he canceled his date and sat in the living room, waiting for his mom to get home. Scott obviously had no idea what was going on as he ate a snack, did his homework, and played a video game. He kept glancing at Derek strangely as they sat on the couch together, but he didn’t press the subject.

Melissa came home at exactly six o’clock. She walked in the room, seeming surprised at seeing both Derek and Scott. Derek didn’t even let her get a greeting out.

“How bad is it?”

Her face instantly dropped. Scott didn’t seem to notice. “How bad is what?”

“Nothing, sweetie,” Melissa said quickly, gesturing for Derek to follow her into the kitchen. “I just need to talk to your brother.”

Derek went with her into the kitchen, ruffling Scott’s hair as he left the living room. Melissa chose to sit at the kitchen table, but when she pointed toward the chair across from her, Derek shook his head.

“How bad is it?” he repeated.

“She’s not responding to treatment anymore,” Melissa said, her voice practiced and clinical. “We’ll probably have to hospitalize her in a few days and after that it’s just…”

“Just a matter of time?” Derek finished for her.

“Yeah.”

“Holy shit.”

If this was any other time Melissa would have scolded him for cursing. Instead she just sat there quietly, folding her hands in front of her and pressing her lips together. Derek leaned against the back of the kitchen wall as he covered his eyes with his hands. There was some shuffling from the living room and he didn’t even have to look to know that Scott had heard everything.

“It’s Mrs. Stilinski, isn’t it?” Scott asked. “She’s sick, isn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Melissa said, her voice soft.

Derek kept his hands covering his eyes as he heard Scott move toward their mom and ask her questions. It was suffocating. Absolutely stifling. He had to get out of there. He had to go.

He barely heard his mom call after him as he headed upstairs to his room. Derek grabbed the sketchbook he kept wedged between his mattress and the box spring. He went back downstairs and grabbed his jacket and keys before going outside.

It didn’t take 10 minutes to get to the Stilinski house and once there he ran to the front door and knocked loudly. The Jeep was still there and the police cruiser was still gone, so he knew she was there.

Stiles’ was the one who opened the door. He looked up at Derek and opened and closed his mouth a few times before deciding on what to say.

“She doesn’t want your pity, Derek.”

“I’m not here to give her any.”

And then Stiles was tripping over his own feet as he moved toward Derek, wrapping his arms around his middle and burying his face into his chest as he cried. Derek instantly coiled an arm around Stiles’ shoulders before resting a hand on top of his head.

“Come on in.”

Aria was leaning against the wall in the foyer. She looked even worse up close and Derek wanted to know how he could have missed it. How could he not have seen how sick she had become? He felt like such a fucking idiot. She must have found out over the summer and had been going to treatment. The lack of hair was recent, but he knew that she had probably been looking that sick for a while now.

“Stiles, please detach yourself from Derek so he can walk through the front door,” Aria said.

Stiles remained rooted to the spot and Derek just shrugged his shoulders at Aria who smiled. She shook her head and started to walk toward the kitchen. “Sweetie, I want to talk to Derek alone. Can you give us some space, please?”

After a few long seconds, Stiles stepped back from Derek, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Derek shrugged, placing a hand on top of Stiles’ head before following Aria into the kitchen. “The hair looks good, Stiles.”

“Thanks,” Stiles said.

Once they were in the kitchen, Derek quickly pulled out a chair for Aria who looked up at him and rolled her eyes. “I’m not made of glass.”

Derek chose to ignore that statement as he sat across from her. He placed the sketchbook on the table and slid it over to her. She perked an eyebrow before flipping the sketchbook open to the first page. Derek waited impatiently as she flipped through page after page, taking her time to scrutinize each drawing.

“These are really good,” she said.

“They’re for my portfolio,” he said.

“Portfolio for…?”

“Application for the Architecture Major,” he said, suddenly finding the stitching in his jacket to be fascinating. “I want to get my Bachelor.”

He hadn’t shown anyone the portfolio yet. Derek had gone to the school library to look through some old portfolios that had been accepted and he always felt like his work paled in comparison. He was passionate about it, but being passionate about something and being good at it were two different things.

“What’s the plan after getting the Bachelor?”

“Get a job at a firm while working on my Architectural Doctorate,” he said. “and then, hopefully, open up my own firm.”

There was silence from the other side of the table. Derek looked up to see Aria gaping at him, her hand paused in the air, holding a page as she flipped it. The page fell from her fingertips and fluttered back to the pad. She didn’t notice.

Architectural Doctorate?” she repeated, her eyes wide.

“Um, yes,” Derek nodded.

“You could start going by ‘Doctor McHale’,” she said.

“Yeah, I probably won’t though.”

“But you could! ‘Dr. McHale, you have a meeting at five.’ ‘Dr. McHale, could you please go over my drawing of this archway or pillar or whatever?’ ‘Dr. McHale, please tell me all of your secrets and then take me right here on this desk!’”

“And this conversation just took an inappropriate turn.”

Aria laughed, shaking her head and closing the sketchbook before handing it back to Derek. “I’m just saying that the ladies will love the title… and the guys too, I guess.”

Derek took the sketchbook from her. “Did my mom tell you?”

“Of course she did,” Aria shrugged. “She doesn’t care, I don’t care, and no one cares. But, your mom probably does care that it's dinnertime and you’re not home.”

Before Derek could get another word out he was being ushered out of the kitchen and to the front door. Stiles was sitting on the top of the stairs and Derek waved up at him. He didn’t know if he waved back because Aria was pulling him into a tight hug.

“I’ll see you later,” she said, giving him a warm smile.

“Definitely,” he nodded.

Derek gave one final goodbye before leaving the house and getting in his car to drive home.

She was hospitalized on a Saturday. Derek started dropping off and picking up Scott and Stiles at school every day of the week. No one talked in the car except for when Scott said goodbye to Stiles when they dropped him off at the hospital’s front entrance every day. Derek didn’t leave the parking lot until Stiles was safe beside his dad who was waiting for him. The Sheriff would wave at Derek as Scott got into the front seat. Scott would always be the first one to talk once they left the hospital.

“I wish there was something that I could do,” he said.

“All you can do is be there for him,” Derek said. “You’re his best friend, Scott.”

“Yeah,” Scott nodded. “Do you think I could go to the hospital with him to visit her one day? One day when you’re working so that you can pick me up on your way back?”

“I’m sure we can work something out.”

And they did work something out. Scott was able to go with Stiles to the hospital at least one day a week and Derek would drop by to pick him up after work. Thanksgiving passed and so did Christmas and the New Year. Stiles and Derek watched the Doctor Who Christmas special and things had almost felt back to normal. (“But Astrid was so awesome!” “I know.” “How could they kill her off?” “Drama? I don’t know. But, hey, look on the bright side, Torchwood comes back in January.” “You’re shitting me right now, aren’t you?”)

It was the first day of February and Derek had gotten home from a shift at the art store. Melissa was sitting at the kitchen table with her hands folded in front of her. Derek didn’t say anything, waiting for his mom to bring up the conversation.

“She’s not going to last much longer,” Melissa said. “You should visit her soon.”

“I’ll go tomorrow,” he said before leaving the kitchen.

The next day was a Saturday so he woke up early, left a note for his mom on the kitchen table, and headed to the hospital. He managed to get in front of her door before he walked away and headed toward the bathroom. After leaning against the sink for five minutes, pressing his forehead against the cool mirror, Derek felt a warm hand clasp onto his shoulder.

“She wants to see you,” the Sheriff said. “I could use a break too. Talk to her and I’ll go get coffee.”

“Where’s Stiles?” Derek asked.

“He’s with her, but he’s asleep,” the Sheriff said, a fond smile taking over his face. “He won’t wake up for anything.”

He left, leaving Derek alone once again. His feet felt like they were rooted to the spot, but he managed to break away. Her room was close to the bathroom and since she was probably expecting him, he didn’t bother knocking.

“There he is,” Aria said, her voice soft and weak.

And there she was. Nothing could have prepared him for the sight of her. She looked tiny, but almost ancient. It was like she had lived a thousand lives and was just waiting for release. Knowing Aria, she probably was looking for release.

Derek’s eyes flickered to Stiles who was curled up at her side. He was turning 13 in just over two months, but he looked younger somehow. Not weak like she was, just young and vulnerable. Derek had never wanted to run away from something more.

“Hi,” he greeted lamely, keeping his voice low and taking a seat next to her.

“How are you?”

And of course she would be the one asking him that.

“I’m good.”

“How’s school? Did you get into the program?”

“School’s fine,” Derek said. “I don’t submit my application until the fall semester, so…” “I guess we’ll know then.

He couldn’t bring himself to finish the statement seeing as how she wasn’t going to be able to know.

“I’m sure you’ll get in,” she assured, placing a hand over one of his.

He tried desperately to ignore all of the needles stuck in her hand. Stiles stirred next to her and his eyes instantly flickered toward the sleeping boy.

“He talks about you constantly,” she said, her voice filled with nothing but fondness. “He basically thinks you’re the coolest person ever.”

“Yeah, well, he’s not too bad,” Derek shrugged, eyes still focused on Stiles. “He’s the only one who will watch Doctor Who with me.”

“Sorry about that,” she said. “I tried watching the first episode with him, but people were turning into mannequins and I just don’t get British humor.”

Derek chuckled, shaking his head and looking back at her. She was still looking at Stiles though, so Derek followed her gaze. Briefly he thought about how funny it would be if Stiles just woke up. He’d probably take one look at them staring at him before shouting and falling backward, landing on the floor.

“Take care of him for me.”

He wanted to say no. He didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of Stiles. But he knew that someone would have to. Because Stiles would want to take care of his dad and even though his dad would try to take care of him back it wouldn’t be the same.

“I will. I promise.”

“Thank you, Dr. McHale.”

Derek let himself grin a bit at that. “I’m not a doctor.”

“Not a doctor yet, Derek.”

Derek went straight to work after he left the hospital. He vaguely listened as Laura talked for what felt like his entire shift. He got off at five and instead of going home he went to a bar outside of town where he knew they didn’t card. He didn’t turn 21 until next November, but he looked old enough to slide for mid-twenties.

An hour later he was kissing some guy’s neck as the guy opened his apartment door. It was almost six o’clock and he promised his mom that he would be home by seven since she was working the night shift. This wasn’t going to take long and besides, he needed this. It had been way too long since he had sought an escape in someone else and this guy was clearly willing to give him that.

Once they reached the cramped bedroom, almost all of their clothes were missing. Derek pushed him down on to the bed before crawling on top of him, pressing his mouth urgently against his. It was all impersonal, there weren’t any noises being made except for heavy breathing and the occasional involuntary groan. Derek found himself on his back sometime as the guy pulled his boxers down and wrapped his mouth around him. It was experienced and precise and did exactly what Derek needed it to do. In his mind everything felt clinical and procedural, but his body was reacting perfectly and that was all he needed.

Derek woke up to his cell phone vibrating on the hardwood floor next to the bed. He glanced at his watch and groaned. It was eight o’clock.

He took the phone from the floor and checked it. Five missed calls, all within the last ten minutes, and all from Sheriff Stilinski. Derek felt his stomach drop as he got out of the bed, yanking his boxers on and turning the lamp on to look for the rest of his jeans.

“What’s going on?” Brandon? Brian? Brad? said from the bed, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.

“I have to go,” Derek said, grabbing the rest of his clothes and quickly pulling them on.

“C’mon, baby, stay a while,” Brandon/Brian/Brad said, patting the bed.

“No fucking way.”

And with that Derek was exiting the apartment and calling the Sheriff back as he made his way down the stairwell and to his car that he had haphazardly parked.

“Derek, I’m glad you called me back,” the Sheriff said when he answered the phone on the second ring.

“Yeah, I’m sorry you had to call so many times, I… um, fell asleep,” Derek said.

The Sheriff had probably called the house phone and Scott had probably answered by saying he was out. Stilinski knew exactly where he fell asleep, but thankfully he didn’t say anything about it.

“Look, I know Melissa’s working the night shift and I hate to ask, but the doctor said that she probably won’t make it much longer and Stiles is at home, so if you could drive him over, I’d really-.”

“Why isn’t Stiles there?”

“Aria insisted that I took him home so that he could sleep in his own bed for once,” the Sheriff said. “He should be asleep still, but there’s a spare key under the doormat.”

“Yeah, I can do that,” Derek said.

“Thanks, Derek.”

The drive to the Stilinski house was long and quiet. It felt like he was driving toward doom. There was nothing they could do now except wait. He pulled into the driveway next to the Jeep and headed to the front porch. Derek got the spare key and entered the house, taking a moment to feel the change of air. Aria wasn’t there to greet him with a smile. She wasn’t there and that made the place seem so empty.

But Stiles was there and he had to get him. He bounded up the stairs and entered the first door on the left. Stiles’ was fast asleep, curled up in his bed with the lamp on his nightstand on. There was a picture frame on his nightstand with a photo of Stiles, Aria, and the Sheriff in it. Stiles’ hair was still long and Aria looked healthy and Sheriff Stilinski was still just a deputy.

“Stiles,” Derek said, sitting on the edge of the bed and placing a hand on his shoulder.

He was already awake. “I heard you come in.”

“I thought you were supposed to be a heavy sleeper.”

“I used to be.”

Stiles sat up and pushed back the covers and Derek noticed that he was already dressed. That hurt a lot more than it probably should have.

“We should go,” Derek said. “Your dad sounded pretty urgent on the phone.”

Derek stood up and waited for Stiles to do the same, but he didn’t. He continued to sit in the bed, his hands fisting the covers.

“Stiles, we really need to-.”

“I don’t want her to die.”

He wasn’t crying and Derek probably figured that he had cried so much already that he just couldn’t anymore.

“I know.”

“It’s not fair.”

“I know.”

“Why couldn’t God have given her cancer to a murderer or someone terrible?”

“I don’t believe in God.”

Stiles looked up at him, frowning. “Then what do you believe in?”

You.

“I don’t believe in anything.”

Apparently this was a good enough answer for Stiles. He got out of bed, slipped on his shoes, and followed Derek downstairs.

The drive to the hospital was even worse. Stiles’ was in the seat next to him, his leg jumping up and down. Derek was tempted to slap a hand on his knee to still him, but he refrained. They didn’t talk and they didn’t look at each other. For some reason this made the drive even longer.

When Derek parked he expected Stiles to wait in the car, still hesitant to go inside. But as soon as Derek turned off the ignition Stiles was throwing the car door open and practically sprinting to the entrance. Derek had to almost run to keep up with him and when he made it to the elevators, Stiles was already inside with the doors closing.

Derek jammed the up button and waited for the next elevator to come. He was on the right floor in less than a minute, but when he got to her room there were half a dozen nurses and doctors there. He heard someone call the time of death. It had been three minutes ago.

The funeral was three days later. Melissa stood by the Sheriff’s side at all times while Scott stood close to Stiles. Derek stayed toward the back and was the first one to leave.