He heard the Jeep’s door slam followed immediately by Stiles grumbling to himself about rude customers and crazy bosses. It’s been the same thing every night for the last month and a half. Stiles goes to classes, goes to work, comes home bitching, does homework until he’s falling asleep on his books, and gets carted to bed by Derek. On the weekends he works full days followed by long nights of more homework. Derek’s starting to feel like he’s not even in a relationship anymore. And he knows that things will get better but he’s starting to wonder if they can last that long. The door slamming drags him out of his thoughts.
“Honey, I’m home from hell.” He hears the mutter, can hear as Stiles dumps his keys on the table by the door, the thud of his backpack on the living room floor, the softer thud of Stiles’ ass as it follows and he beings to spread out on the coffee table.
“Stiles, I don't understand why you keep working there if you hate it so much. I have money, you don't have to work there. ” Derek leans against the arch that separates the living room from the kitchen, drying his hands on a dishtowel. He’d just finished putting a pasta bake in the oven, something Stiles can easily eat while most of his attention is focused on his work.
“I am a strong, independent woman Derek and I don't need no man to pay for me!” The snark is expected of course, he wouldn’t be Stiles without it.
“Firstly, you are not a woman Stiles.” He barrels on as Stiles makes a scoffing noise in his throat. “Secondly, no more Beyoncé for you.”
“Don't even front, you love Queen Bey just as much as I do. And that isn't the point Derek. I hate the job, but I need the money. ”
“For what?” He can barely contain the exasperation in his voice, they’ve had this discussion before and he keeps waiting for an actual answer.
“I just do.” Stiles turns at that, eyes narrowing because he too remembers this argument and he doesn’t want to have it.
“Stiles.” Derek can feel his jaw tensing, knows he’s probably glaring.
“Derek.” There’s annoyance in his tone, an edge that’s asking for Derek to let it go tonight.
“You're being fucking ridiculous,” he snaps. He can tell it’s exactly the wrong thing to say as soon as it leaves his mouth.
“You know what Derek, you're right, I'm being ridiculous. I'm being so ridiculous, in fact, that I'm going to take my ridiculous ass to Scott's for the night. ” He snatches his keys and is out the door before Derek can even think of a way to make him stay. It's the third time in two weeks that Stiles has up and left in the middle of an argument. He’s getting tired of it. He sighs and moves back into the kitchen, turning the oven down to a lower temperature to keep the bake warm for longer. Stiles will be back, he always comes back after he cools off. And he needs to eat, no matter how mad they might be at one another, Derek will make sure he takes care of himself as much as he can.
Only Stiles doesn’t come back. Derek sits on the couch for four hours, worry increasing with each minute that ticks by. He tries calling but Stiles’ phone vibrates from his backpack still on the floor at Derek’s feet. He eventually gets up, turns off the oven, throws out the pasta. His appetite is gone.
“Scott, is Stiles there?” He gave in, he called, he couldn’t stop himself.
“Uh…Stiles…is…” Scott’s voice trails off and Derek can hear Stiles in the background.
“Don’t you dare hand me that phone Scotty. I do not want to talk to him.” He can hear Scott pull the phone away from his mouth, place a hand over it, as if that would stop his enhanced ears from picking up the responses. It appears Scott has the same idea. “Stiles, he’s a werewolf, he can hear you even if I don’t hand over the phone.”
“I don’t care. Then he can hear that I am not interested in anything he has to say tonight.” He can practically hear the whine of indecision coming from Scott so he decides to save him from being more in the middle than he already is.
“Scott, its fine, I just wanted to make sure he was safe.”
“I’m sorry Derek.” The call goes dead and Derek rubs a hand over his face, relief making his shoulders slump. Stiles was okay. Pissed off, not coming home, but okay. He tried to tell himself that was all that mattered, but everything was piling up too much. Something was going on. Stiles had been evasive, not just about the money (although that was by far the biggest thing he wouldn’t expand on), but about a lot of things. About the time he spent away from Derek that wasn’t work and school. He wasn’t with his friends, Derek knew because they were his friends too. He had a few hours on Wednesdays between classes and work and he never came home, dodged the question whenever Derek asked why. If he didn’t know better he’d think Stiles was cheating, but he’d smell someone else on him, and he hadn’t. Before he knows what he’s even doing, Stiles’ backpack is in his hands, flipped upside-down. Books crash down to the carpet, notes and magazine pages spilling out of binders all over the floor, pencils and pens flying everywhere. He can’t stop himself; he digs through it all, looking for some hint as to what Stiles is hiding from him. He isn’t being rational, he knows it, but he can’t stop himself. He loves Stiles more than he’s ever loved anyone and he’s being lied to. One of the magazine pages catches his eye – it’s not an article like the others, it’s some sort of ad, creased from being folded in half. It’s Super Bowl themed, so it must be from last month, some woman in a too tiny ref uniform flipping a coin. His heart sinks as he reads the words.
“Do you prefer HEAD or TAIL?
Life is Short. Have an Affair”
His stomach churns, the ad crushing in his hand. He was wrong, Stiles is cheating. Or at least thinking about it. He can feel his breath coming in sharp pants, can feel a cracking in his chest. He unclenches his fist and drops the ad onto the couch, looks at the mess he made. He methodically works at cleaning it up, stuffing the notes back into their binders, replacing everything in the backpack except the ad. He glances at it again, grabs a sticky note off the pile Stiles had set up when he first got home and writes two words on it, sticking it to the ad and setting it on top of the books that are still spread out on the coffee table, and then he goes to bed.
He hears the snick of the front door closing at six in the morning. Tracks Stiles’ heart as he moves through the small house, hears the uptick when he reaches the living room. He’s sitting up in bed (their bed his mind unhelpfully supplies), when Stiles comes stomping in, the ad with the note in his hand.
“What the fuck is this Derek?” He can see his own handwriting, the words he’d left for Stiles bold against the pale paper – “I Know” was all he’d written.
“You tell me Stiles.” He can feel his face sneering, can’t help it, has always used anger to cover up his pain. “It was in your things.”
“You went through my stuff?” He can’t believe Stiles has the audacity to act like he’s the injured party here, not while he’s still got the damned ad for the cheating website in his hands. He says as much. “The cheating what? Derek what the fuck are you talking about?”
“Don’t try to play stupid with me Stiles, it says it on the damned page. ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’” He watches as Stiles looks at what he’s holding, beyond the sticky note that had sent him fuming into the room. Watches his brows knit in confusion before flying up towards his hairline in shock.
“You think that I would ever do that to you? Do you not trust me at all?” Derek registers the hurt in Stiles’ voice, but he’s hurt too damn it.
“I did right up until you started lying to me Stiles. You work at a job you hate and won’t tell me why you need the money, and then you lie about where you are and think that I can’t hear it? That I don’t know that you’re sitting there evading the question? And then I find that? What am I supposed to think Stiles?”
“Well first off, you could use your damn nose and know I’m not cheating Derek. Secondly, I cannot fucking believe you went through my things. That is so beyond not okay. And thirdly, this page has two fucking sides, did you even look at the back?” He watched as Stiles’ face morphed from hurt at the accusations he’d just made into anger. Opened his mouth to answer but was cut off. “No, of course you didn’t. Why would you trust the man you keep saying you love after all? You just assumed that not only was I shitty enough to lie to you, but that I’d be dumb enough to keep evidence around. I hope you’re fucking happy now, Derek.” Stiles shoves the flipped over ad at him, hands shaking a little. Derek can see the moisture gathering in Stiles’ eyes and glances away from it, not willing to let it sway him from his own anger. Unfortunately what he sees when he glances down sends that flying away, replaces it with massive amounts of guilt.
Valentine’s Day Specials
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“Stiles…” he swallows hard around the sudden lump in his throat. He looks up but Stiles is turning away already. He reaches out, fingertips brushing against Stiles’ wrist before the man yanks his arm away.
“No Derek, just…no. You didn’t trust me, you thought I would do that to you, to us? I was going to ask you to marry me and now… I can’t be here right now.” He can hear the break in Stiles’ voice and knows that he can’t do anything to make it better. He sat, numb, while Stiles packed himself a bag, not even glancing his way, just shoving in clothes as fast as possible. He left the room without another word and Derek could hear him moving through the house, retrieving things from the bathroom before packing up the rest of his backpack. Could hear the lock catch as the door closed behind him, the rumble as the Jeep started up and drove away. When the last sounds of it faded, he buried his face in his hands and cried.