It happened every year with his mom gone. Christmas time was hard reminiscing all of the happy memories they use to make with his dad. Her birthday was even harder as he kept track of how old she would be and made sure to bring that many flowers to her grave. But now it was happening for more than one person.
Ever since Derek left, Stiles tried to push the pain and longing away, tried to be happy with Malia and give her someone she deserves but now that they're not really together anymore the memories of dark stubble and muscular arms are filling his head and he can't stop them. Not now when Derek's birthday was tomorrow.
Stiles was overjoyed when he heard Braeden was back (even though her and Derek had pretty much run off into the sunset holding hands) because he was expecting a tan werewolf to be standing next to her when he arrived at the animal clinic. But his heart dropped so low and he cursed himself for having such high hopes and getting excited when he should've known.
So now he was sitting at the abandoned loft having broken the lock. He made sure no one would follow him though with were-creatures as his friends it won't be too long since someone tracked his scent. Stiles was thinking, a dangerous thing for him.
The pack was probably planning a way to get Lydia and what was he doing? He was pining after a man who left months ago just because his birthday is tomorrow. Could he be any more pathetic?
Stiles remembers Derek's last birthday in Beacon Hills. He was pretty sure that he was the only one to remember but he wanted to make it extra special. He even baked a cake and invited the whole pack over to the loft for a surprise party. His stupid level really peaked on that night because you can't have a surprise party for a werewolf. Nevertheless, the pack left the loft that night happy and laughing with each other. Stiles had stayed behind to clean up and it was one of his most fond memories with Derek.
"Thank you," Derek's voice had sounded deafening in the silence although the sound was barely audible. Stiles didn't miss it though, nor did he miss the closed mouth smile Derek wore the entire time they were cleaning up. It was overdue for that man to smile.
"I don't know just something was off," said Scott. "Maybe you should go find him?"
"Me?" Malia said incredulously. "Have you forgotten we kinda broke up? You're his best friend Scott."
"He smelt like heartbreak though," Scott said. He was trying to piece together why his best friend left his house smelling so sad. They were working on their plan to get Lydia when Stiles all of a sudden said he had somewhere to be and practically ran out of there.
"I can't smell chemo signals or anything," Kira started, "but this came over Stiles suddenly. He was fine between the breakup and now. He's been with Malia since. Why would he suddenly smell like heartbreak now?"
"She's right," said Malia. "There must be something else bothering him. Scott, I think you're our best bet at getting it out of him. Go find Stiles." Scott hesitated but nodded and left after making sure it was okay with the rest of them.
He first checked Stiles' house but when his dad confirmed he hadn't come home, Scott grabbed his pillow, got a scent, and left to the next destination. Scott followed his nose until Stiles' scent stopped at a familiar location. He recognized it as the building Derek used to live. "What the hell is he doing here?" Scott asked himself before running in.
He found his friend sitting on Derek's old bed and looking out the wall of windows. Sadness radiated off of him and it was starting to break Scotts heart. "Hey buddy, you okay?" He slowly approached Stiles and sat next to him.
Stiles was crying and it was obvious he was trying to hide it. He turned away from Scott and wiped at his eyes before turning back and plastering on a fake smile. "I'm fine Scott. I just wanna be alone."
"You're not fine," Scott said. "Please tell me what's going on. Is it Malia? Why are you at Derek's loft?"
Stiles held in a sob and spoke in a shaky voice, "I-it's not her. It's...no, you'll think I'm ridiculous."
Scott put an arm around Stiles' shoulders. "I won't think you're ridiculous at all. You know you can trust me."
Stiles offered him a small smile. "I know," he said. "It's just...its Derek's birthday tomorrow." He said the last part so quietly Scott could barely hear it even with his werewolf hearing.
"It's his birthday?" He wasn't going to laugh, he was just confused. "That's why you're so sad?"
Stiles shot up from where he was sitting and moved to stand in front of the windows. "Yes, okay! That's why I'm sad. I just want to know where he is Scott! Braeden's back so does that mean he's alone? I want him back. He just left without saying anything to us and I miss him okay! I miss Derek so much and I've tried to be there with Malia but nobody will ever be Derek." He took a deep breath after his outbreak and slowly turned to his friend to see Scotts reaction.
Scott was sitting there, shocked, but soon his reaction changed to a soft look towards his friend. "I'm so sorry Stiles. I didn't know you felt that way about him, that you...liked guys. And I should've! You'd think I'd be able to pick up on these things."
"I guess I was just pretty good at hiding it," said Stiles with a small laugh which made Scott let out a chuckle too and nod.
"How about we go talk to Braeden? We don't have to make it obvious but we can just ask her about him, you and me." Scott moved to wrap Stiles in a hug. He was so grateful for his best friend.
"Thanks Scotty, you're the best." He hugged him back feeling a lot better than he has been in the past week.
They found Braeden still at the animal shelter talking to Deaton. The doc was kind enough to leave them alone when they asked to speak with her about Derek. That man just knew. Stiles was really thankful for that.
"What do you want to ask about him?" she said and leaned against the table. Scott turned to Stiles and raised his eyebrows.
Stiles sighed. "How is he? Are you two still, you know..? Where is he? Is he ever planning to come back? Did you know it's his birthday tomorrow?" He couldn't stop the questions once they started. He needed to know the answers.
Braeden looked at him surprised but answered anyways. "Last time I saw him he was okay. Him and Cora went to go talk to packs around South America and help them out. We continued a 'relationship' if you could call it that but it ended almost as soon as it started. It just got too difficult and I always felt there was something holding him back. I've asked him about coming back but he always seems shut out about it. Derek talks about how he 'messed up' here and doesn't think he deserves to be in a pack like Scotts. And no, I did not know his birthday was tomorrow. That good enough for you?" She ended with a questioning eyebrow raised in Stiles' direction. He felt his face going red and nodded.
"Thanks Braeden," Scott said. "But what does he mean he messed up here? I'd let him and Cora in my pack in an instance."
Braeden shrugged. "I'm not sure. He just said he messed up with certain people." Neither of them missed the subtle glance she aimed at Stiles.
"Messed up? That's why he isn't coming back?" Stiles let out a dry laugh. "Derek's just running from the problem instead of coming to fix it. He knew he left without clear answers and left me- some people hurt. He needs to come back!"
Braeden reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out what looked like a cellphone. "Then why don't you tell him that yourself?"
Both Scott and Stiles looked at the phone with wide eyes. "But we've tried his cell and it didn't work," Scott said confused.
Braeden tapped a few things and reached the cell phone towards them again. On the screen it read 'Derek' with an unfamiliar number underneath. "That number stopped working in the middle-of-nowhere South America so here, he made one that does. Now, he said its for emergencies. But I don't think he'd mind a call from you." She was speaking at both of them but only looking at Stiles. Scott thanked her and grabbed the phone. Then he shoved it in Stiles' hand.
"Call him Stiles," was all he said before him and Braeden left to go talk to Deaton. They just left him there with the power to contact Derek. Stiles was frozen in place. He couldn't do this. How could he talk to the man he had been in love with, the man who left them and never bothered contacting them? "Do it!" Scott yelled from the other room. Stiles knew as soon as he hit the call button Scott wouldn't listen in. He was just making sure Stiles didn't chicken out, which was something he seriously wanted to do.
But he somehow found a little bit of courage in the back of him and with his eyes closed he quickly pressed call and put he phone up to his ear. There was no backing out now, he was going to do this.
One ring, two rings, three rings, then it happened.
"Braeden? Is everything okay?" That voice. The one Stiles hadn't heard in so long, the one he'd never forget as he dreamed of it almost every night. Stiles felt a single tear escape him and he quickly wiped it away. "I can hear you breathing. Are you okay?"
Stiles tried to ignore the pain in his chest at the words 'Are you okay?' He took a shaky breath. "Derek," was all he managed to choke out.
There was a short silence on the other side before, "Stiles? Is that really you?" God, he missed how Derek said his name.
"Yeah," he said quietly. He was crying harder now. "Braedens here in Beacon Hills and, uh...she let me call you."
"It's nice to hear your voice. Why are you crying, Stiles?" Derek sounded so concerned and it only made Stiles cry more.
"I...I miss you Sourwolf." Stiles was lucky Derek couldn't see the blush rising to his cheeks. If anyone asked it was from the crying.
Derek let out a beautiful laugh from the other end of the line. "I miss you too Stiles."
"Of course I do," Derek said genuinely. "It gets quite boring down here without your sarcastic and sassy remarks towards me." Stiles laughed with Derek.
"Happy birthday," Stiles said and he could've sworn he heard Derek's breath hitch.
"You remembered?" He sounded so surprised. Derek should know Stiles never forgets.
"Of course I did. Wouldn't ever forget your birthday."
"Thank you." There was a short pause after that but Stiles knew he had to get out the question he'd been holding back.
"Will you ever come home?" he asked and he felt quite nervous for the answer. Derek sighed on the other end and waited a bit before answering.
"I...I honestly don't know Stiles. It was nice to get away from that town for a while. Too many bad things happened to me in that town and I hurt too many people. Maybe one day."
That answer hurt more than a simple no. Derek wanted to get away, he had no reason to stay. Stiles should've known he was chasing after something he'd never get.
"Okay," was all he could manage to whisper or he'd break into more tears.
"Stiles, I'm sorry-"
"It doesn't feel okay. It's not you guys, it's me. I will come back but I can't tell you when cause I don't even know myself. I'm hoping you can forgive me."
"Yeah," Stiles said. He hated to be the one to act like this, an apology seeker. He wasn't at all, he just literally couldn't say anything else or he might scream.
"I do miss all of you. I've heard things haven't been too easy there."
"No they haven't," Stiles replied. Things were terrible here with Theo, the doctors, Lydia, and now the beast. But things were the worst when Stiles was reminded that Derek wasn't there to hold him when he needed it. And now things were awful that Derek wasn't coming back.
"Cora's getting into a fight with the alphas daughter, I gotta go," Derek said reluctantly. "I'm sorry, Stiles. I miss you a lot. Call me again soon?"
Stiles didn't know if he could go through this again but he agreed anyways. "Bye Derek."
He hung up and placed the phone on the table. Then Stiles collapsed into the corner holding his head, letting out cries, not holding in the pain anymore.
Their next phone call happened almost a week later. Stiles was putting his focus on Lydia and getting sidetracked with an evil ancient beast running through the town. He didn't let himself think about Derek. Surprisingly though, this time it was the werewolf to call.
"Stiles, it's for you." Braeden handed him the cell phone and Stiles didn't have to look at the caller ID to know who it is.
"I should give you this number so you don't have to borrow Braedens phone," Derek said. Stiles agreed and entered the number into his phone under an already made contact as Derek told him it.
"I thought this number was only for emergencies though?" Stiles asked.
"With you I can make an exception," Derek said and Stiles could hear the smirk in his voice. It caused his stomach to do strange things.
"So how was your birthday?" While Stiles was at home avoiding questions from the pack (void Scott) he hoped Derek was enjoying himself. He deserved it.
"Well it started out pretty well. Cora took me to a local bar because she takes advantage of this drinking age as much as she can." They both laughed at that, classic Cora. "That was fun. Then we explored the nearby town but then we had to get back to the pack we were helping. They're alpha died last night from a rare illness so we're helping them recover."
"That's great of you," said Stiles and curse Derek for being so sweet and giving too. He only fell more in love everyday.
"So...how's Malia?" Derek asked and it sounded like he wasn't really interested in the answer.
"Well, we kind of broke up. We just needed some time apart and I think it's good for both of us." 'Especially cause I'm in love with you.' He didn't say that last part out loud.
"Oh! That's um, I'm sorry," said Derek albeit it didn't sound that sincere.
"I guess she just wasn't the one..." Stiles trailed off and there was a short silence after that. He'd been so blatantly obvious, Stiles couldn't believe Derek didn't see right through him. Or maybe he did and he just wasn't saying anything to spare Stiles a lifetime of embarrassment? Oh no.
"Well...that's unfortunate." When had things gotten so awkward?
Stiles cleared his throat and changed the subject. "Still not sure if you're coming back?"
"Stiles, we talked about-"
"I know, I know," said Stiles. "I was just hoping you might've changed your mind. Whatever, forget I said anything.
"No, Derek. It's fine. I have to go anyways, have a huge project due tomorrow and I haven't even started it. I'll talk to you later." Before Derek could say anything else he hung up, found Braeden to give her the phone back, and left.
It continued like that for weeks. Anytime the both of them had free time Stiles and Derek would talk on the phone. It was killing his data but the sheriff couldn't find it in himself to be mad at Stiles for that.
They seemed to try and avoid the question of when Derek was coming back now. Instead, Derek told Stiles about a new pack they found while Stiles filled him in on all things crazy in Beacon Hills.
It lasted so long, Stiles' own birthday was coming up. And Derek didn't forget his birthday either.
"So what are you planning on doing?" Derek asked when they were talking late at night. Stiles was already in his bed with the light off. Falling asleep to Derek's voice seemed perfect to him.
"With everything going on I want to give the pack a night to relax. We'll probably order pizza and watch movies at my house and pray to the heavens above that no evil psycho interrupts. We finally got Lydia back, I think we all need a sense of normal for a night."
"Sounds like the perfect birthday for you," Derek said with a chuckle.
Stiles smiled in the dark. "Sure is." Although it would be so much better if Derek was there with them.
"I gotta get going soon but I wanna talk to you before your party. Call you later."
"Where do you have to run off to, Sourwolf? Am I boring you that much?" Stiles bit his lip.
"Of course not. I'd much rather be talking to you and hearing your voice. I just have some things to cover. Goodnight Stiles."
"Goodnight Derek." With that, he hung up and put his phone on his bedside table. Derek was acting secretive lately and it made Stiles wonder. Was there some secret pack thing going on down there? Was Derek seeing some super hot werewolf and keeping a secret?
'Stop it Stiles,' he told himself then drifted off to sleep.
The next time Stiles was free to talk to Derek was right before his party. The pizza and snacks were already set up, he was just awaiting his friends. They started noticing Stiles talking on the phone more and he soon enough admitted it was Derek. They all even forced him to let them say hi. But other than that, they didn't mind if Stiles had to leave in the middle of something if Derek was calling. They knew Stiles needed it.
"Hey birthday boy," Derek greeted him.
Stiles laughed at the man and shook his head. "I'm a man now, Derek. I'm 18!"
"Right, whoops. My bad!" Derek said fondly. "Pack there yet?"
"They shouldn't be here for another half hour. Looks like you're stuck with me until then."
"I'm perfectly fine with that," said Derek. "In fact, I got you something."
"What?" Stiles said surprised. "You're in South America. Plus, you didn't have to get me anything Der."
"I know, but I wanted to. 18 is a big number. I'm having Braeden bring it over for you soon."
Stiles almost teared up at how in love he was with this guy. "Thank you Derek."
"You were the only besides Cora to wish me a happy birthday, it's the least I can do and I think you'll really like it. I have to get going but have a great birthday. Talk to you soon?"
They said their goodbyes and Stiles set his phone down with a sigh. What would be even better than a gift would be Derek here to celebrate. But Stiles knew he couldn't be selfish. Derek would come home on his own time. For now he should be thankful.
The familiar sound of Braedens bike got louder outside and Stiles opened the door to see her pulling in front of his house.
"You've got to be kidding me." Stiles stopped dead in his tracks when he saw who was on the back of her bike and getting off. "What the hell?!"
He sprinted across his lawn to Derek and threw himself into the werewolfs arms. Derek almost fell over at the impact but caught Stiles and lifted him up, spinning him around. "Told you I'd talk to you soon."
"You asshole," Stiles said but it came out muffled in Derek's neck. Braeden was standing to the side laughing and smiling at the pair. Derek eventually let Stiles down although neither of them wanted to let go of each other. "I can't believe you! You're back!"
"I am. I wanted to give you the best birthday gift I could. I realized I can't keep running from my problems. I'm here to stay, Stiles."
Tears escaped both of their eyes as Stiles hugged Derek again. "You're really here. You're staying!"
Scott pulled up at that moment with a girl on the back of his bike. Sure enough, when she took off her helmet there was Cora. Stiles gave her a bone crushing hug as well. "You knew about this?" He questioned Scott. The alpha just laughed and shrugged.
Derek put an arm around his waist as the rest of their friends arrived. Kira, Liam, Malia and Lydia all were riding in Lydia's car. They cheered when they hopped out. It seemed everyone knew about this except Stiles. He couldn't help himself and he hugged Derek again.
The party went great. It was intimate and perfect. Braeden and Cora stayed with the pack as they binged on junk food and marvel movies. Stiles couldn't ask for a better birthday. It was late and Iron Man 3 was ending when Lydia said her mom wanted her home and she took Kira home as well. Braeden had left after Iron Man 2 as she had business to attend to with Deaton and Malia ended up leaving with her. Scott and Liam were passed out on the floor which left Stiles, Derek and Cora.
Stiles excused himself to get a drink which is when Cora turned to Derek.
"You came back here for a reason. Go get him." Derek really loved his sister and he walked to the kitchen.
"I hope you've had a great birthday," he said. Stiles turned with a glass of water in his hand. He gave Derek a bright smile.
"It's been perfect. Thank you. You didn't have to come back because I was forcing you."
"No Stiles you weren't forcing me at all," Derek said as he walked closer towards him. Stiles set his glass down and he knew Derek could hear his heartbeat picking up. "I realized this is my home. With my family growing up here, with the pack, with you."
"With me?" Stiles gulped loudly. Derek walked even closer and placed a hand on Stiles' cheek.
"With you. I want to always be with you." Derek didn't give Stiles time to reply as he was pressing their lips together. It wasn't a rushed kiss. They both took their time, melting into each other. Their lips moved against one another's like they were made too. Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek's neck as Derek's hand that wasn't on Stiles' face wrapped around his waist. "I love you. I always have and I ran away like a coward," Derek confessed once they broke apart.
Stiles gave him a watery smile as tears were traveling down his face. "I love you too Sourwolf. Have for a very long time." Stiles kissed him again because he could. The next time they separated, Stiles laid his head on Derek's chest as the werewolf held him.
Derek pressed a kiss to his forehead and his grip tightened. He wasn't going to let go any time soon. "Happy Birthday."