Stiles was happy. Most days. There were good days. He dated people. He went to class. He drove home on the weekends to visit his dad and meet up with the pack. It was just down to Scott, Kira, and Liam back home. Lydia was too far to come for the weekend meetups, away at Harvard, and Isaac had stopped sending postcards from Europe five months ago. He lived for the weekend though, even if it was just he and Scott with way too much homework to fully relax. It was home, it was what made sense.
The rest of it was mostly just okay. It was good, or it should have been, because he was happy. Most of the time.
Sometimes, though, sometimes it would only take one song or one whiff of threatening rain or pine or the smell from a blown out candle and Stiles would be back there. To the loft. To that big fucking empty loft where he’d spent the summer before freshman year mourning the loss of something that never even happened. He grieved the what if. He grieved the possibility. More than that even, he grieved the friendship that was only just beginning.
Derek disappeared and didn’t once try to contact any of them. Maybe he was with Cora. Stiles hoped he was. He liked to imagine them both carefree and at peace, learning to be a family again. But there was no way to know. Not when none of them had any way to find out. For all they knew Derek had disappeared off into the great wide nowhere by himself because he couldn’t bear to risk being around anyone ever again. And that killed Stiles. He’d waited there in the loft for months, refusing to leave even for food.
Scott eventually gave up on trying and had the pack come by every few days to check in. Eventually he’d started getting out of Derek’s bed to shower and wear clean clothes. After that he cleaned the place up, but still he couldn’t leave. What if Derek was somewhere waiting for that? Waiting to slip back in and grab his laptop or some obscure book from his bookshelf? Stiles would miss his one shot to say everything he should have said before. So he couldn’t leave.
The only thing that made him leave for school when the time came, the only way he knew Derek was alive out there somewhere, was that he’d sold the building and Stiles was forced out. So he’d done the only thing he could do, he fell back on his plan to go away to school, which he did.
Mostly it was great.
Tonight it was shit.
Tonight the thumping music down the hall couldn’t quiet the spinning thoughts in his head and the free beer couldn’t drown the ache in the middle of Stiles’s chest. So he lay on his bed, the half empty bottle of beer dangling from his hand in the dark of his room staring out the window at the full moon outside. Was Derek looking at it too? Was he happy? Was he free? Stiles hoped with all his heart he was because Stiles really wasn’t. Not yet. Maybe someday. Maybe the loss would ease up with time or maybe he’d just learn to live with this gaping wound inside him. It had been almost two years and things weren’t close to easing up on him.
Stiles lifted the bottle to his mouth and drank. The beer had gone warm, but he didn’t care. He let the empty bottle fall to the floor and then curled on his side hugging his pillow and taking a shuddering breath.
His phone beeped at him from the shelves at the head of his bed, but he didn’t bother looking. The moon was so bright tonight, the sky cloudless, and a few stars were making an appearance as well. It was the rain they’d been having and maybe that was affecting his mood too. Rain was great for cuddling and sipping caramel macchiatos with friends, but when he was alone all that grey cold wetness sucked the life and soul out of him. And he had very little life and soul to spare these days.
He did pick up the phone when it started ringing. Or rather when it started up with the Imperial March because he knew it was Scott calling. It was supposed to be ironic because Scott still had never finished one Star Wars movie.
“Scott my man, my main bro, aren’t you supposed to be out howling at the moon and running the perimeter of your territory or some shit?” His voice was slurred sounding, even to his ears.
“Stiles.” Scott sounded breathless. Maybe he had been out running with the pack. Maybe they ran into trouble.
He sat up, dizzy, but determined to listen.
“Stiles, Derek’s here.”
Stiles couldn’t guess what might be going on. He couldn’t imagine a world where Derek just strolls back into town and everything goes back to the way it was. Maybe he didn’t want that anyway. He just wanted a chance to say what he needed to say, then he’d have closure. Whatever Derek did after that was just up to Derek. If he left, Stiles would be ready for what that felt like. If he stayed, well, Stiles had no idea.
All he knew was, after three triple shot espressos with entirely too much sugar, and three hours on the road, he was driving past the ‘Welcome to Beacon Hills’ sign on the main road into town and somewhere, Derek Hale was waiting to see him.
Stiles was happy. It might not last. It might be gone the moment he saw Derek, but for right now, just for this moment, he was honestly happy and he was going to hold on to that feeling with both hands.