Jackson picks me up for our four month anniversary in a limo. A fricking limo!
“Could you be any more rich-kid?” I ask, with my best Chandler impression.
“Shut up, I wanted to do something romantic.”
He grabs me around the waist, pulls me close and kisses me. I wrap my arms around his neck and sink into his warm embrace.
When we pull apart, I’m slightly dazed. “Hi,” I say.
“Hi.” Jackson smiles and lets me go so he can open the door for me. I slip in and immediately spot champagne and caviar.
“Honestly, Jackson, it’s like you want me to make fun of you.”
He starts to open the champagne and quirks an eyebrow at me. “You don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to.”
“Shutting up now.”
He grins in victory as he pops the top off the bottle. He fills two glasses and hands me one.
“Should we make a toast?”
I snort. “What? ‘To us’?”
Jackson looks confused and a little hurt. “Yeah, why not? I think we’re great together.”
“Yeah, no, that’s not what I meant. You know I think we’re good together, but the whole clichéd, let’s toast for our blissfulness is so lame and I just don’t want to be that couple, you know?”
I can clearly see Jackson doesn’t agree. He really wants to be that couple. God help me.
“You know what?” I say, taking his glass and putting them both in special little champagne holders. “Let’s just forget about the champagne.”
I kiss him instead and he responds enthusiastically.
“We did make it to dinner but I got a lot of dirty looks for looking like I just had my brains fucked out. Jackson looked impeccable as always so he got no looks. Did they think I fucked someone else before coming to dinner with Jackson?”
Erica plops down next to me on the couch. “Are you sure they weren’t giving you dirty looks and not giving you dirty looks?”
I shove her.
“What? Your ‘just-fucked’ look is hot.”
“I’m sure a bunch of upper-class, snooty, rich people didn’t think so.”
Erica smirks. “They’re just jealous they didn’t get to fuck you. Probably haven’t had sex in fifty years, who are they to judge?”
“Oh, come on!” I shout, throwing popcorn at the screen. “That’s not even close to believable!”
“Honey, could you not throw popcorn at the screen? I’m trying to watch the movie.” Jackson says.
“But it’s bad.”
He looks at me with and annoyed expression. “Why must we always have this discussion?”
I huff and sit back. “Fine! I’ll watch your stupid movie in a stupid, boring way.”
We watch the rest of the movie in silence. The entire time I’m thinking how I’d much rather be watching a movie with Scott or Erica or best of all, Derek. He rents bad movies and makes three bags of popcorn. One for him, one for me, and one for throwing.
“Fucking piece of fucking shit!” I say, kicking my jeep, immediately regretting it. “Fuck, I’m sorry Roscoe, you know I love you.”
It’s just perfect that I drive all the way to Beacon Hills to see my dad for a week, and even get all the way back to New York again, only to have Roscoe break down fifteen miles from my apartment.
I sigh, realizing I won’t get her started up again and will have to call someone for a lift. I could try Jackson but I know he has an early meeting. Only one other option, since no one else owns a fucking car in New York City that isn’t for work purposes.
Derek picks up on the third ring. “What do you want?”
I snort. “Hello to you, too.”
“Alright, well I was just wondering—”
“You don’t even know what I was gonna ask!”
I can practically hear Derek rolling his eyes over the phone. “Tell me, then.”
“Um, I was just wondering if you could do me a favor.”
“You want me to come pick you up,” he asks, except it doesn’t really sound like a question.
Bastard. I pause for a second, considering my options.
“I’ll give you fifty bucks.”
“Okay,” he says immediately. I should have gone for thirty. Or just a little more begging might have done it.
“Where are you?”
“I’m at the corner of shithole and fuckineedtoleave,” I say.
“Stiles,” Derek warns.
“Yeah, fine, I’m somewhere in East Harlem, it’s totally deserted and I see no cabs. I’ll text you more info when I pull up my GPS after we hang up.”
Derek grumbles a ‘fine’ and I do as said when we’ve hung up. He’s pulling up the street twenty minutes later. I haul all my crap into the back seat, where it barely fits and jump into the passenger seat, grinning at a pissed off looking Derek.
“You seriously owe me, Stilinski.”
I roll my eyes. “I think the scores on favors still fall considerably on my side.”
Derek grunts. I chuckle as I wonder how he ever made friends. It took me years to learn to speak Derek. If I hadn’t been so gone on him, I don’t know if I’d have bothered. Erica is his sister, Scott learned to love him through many years of my obsession, Boyd also learned to speak Derek through four years of living together at college and Isaac has somehow always gotten along with him.
I talk about Roscoe all the way back to our apartment complex. Mostly reminiscing. Derek doesn’t talk, only grunts and nods in response, seemingly still annoyed. I know he’s missed me though. He’s honestly a big softie but thinks he can hide it behind scowls.
He doesn’t know I catch the small smiles he tries to hide from me.
“Alright, Allison, I’ll talk to you later,” I say, hanging up with my client. Allison’s one of the nicest brides I’ve ever worked with as a wedding planner. I can’t say the same for her wife-to-be Lydia. That woman terrifies me.
Erica comes out of the bathroom in a towel, steam flowing out behind her.
“Damn, that was a good bath. I should do this more often,” she says, padding over to get herself a cup of the coffee I made.
“You mean more than three times a week?” I ask. “Because then I’m gonna have to insist you pay more of the water bill.”
She just waves her hand dismissively, putting a tad of milk in her coffee.
I roll my eyes, and sit down at the table. “So I just got off the phone with Allison. The wedding’s next weekend, wanna be my date?”
“As much as I would love to get trashed on free booze and pretend to be a long lost cousin for an entire evening, I’m going with Boyd to his parents’ in Montreal that weekend.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say wincing.
Erica laughs. “Don’t be, Boyd’s mother loves me.”
“Oh, right, yeah it’s your mom that doesn’t like Boyd.”
“He hates it, thinks it’s so unfair, but what can I say, I’m a delightful person.”
Erica grins, doing a ridiculous pose and I crack up. “Not to mention incredibly humble.”
She shrugs, still grinning, and sits down next to me. I scroll throw my emails, responding to a few, while Erica drinks her coffee. I can feel her eyes on me though, but every time I look up, she’s looking away.
Finally she talks. “You know, you could always ask Derek. I’m sure he has nothing better to do.”
The comment is phrased so off-handed, hey-I-just-thought-of-this, no big deal, but it stinks. I narrow my eyes at her.
“I mean, you could ask Isaac but I’m sure he has plans, and you said Jackson has that conference out of town,” she says, not really meeting my eyes until she’s finished her sentence. My eyes narrow even more, to the point of almost being closed.
“What, Stiles?” she says, trying to sound annoyed but I hear the nervousness in her voice.
“Spit it out.”
Her façade slips slightly, making her look more and more uncomfortable. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I make an exasperated noise. “Erica.”
“Fine! I’m asking for Scott, you know they have that prank war going on and he needed Derek not to be home for most of the day sometime next week. He asked me to make it happen.”
The explanation is flawless, I’ll have to give her that. It’s bullshit though, but I know I’ll never find out her real motives, so I pretend to accept her answer.
“Sure, I’ll ask Derek.”
“May I have this dance?” I ask Derek, bending at the waist with my arm extended toward him.
Derek glares at me. “Seriously?”
My face falls, but before I can say anything, he sighs, takes my hand and leads me out onto the dancefloor.
He stops somewhere in the middle of the floor and turns to me, looking slightly annoyed. Typical Derek.
“You know, you don’t have to dance with me if you don’t want to.”
My heart skips a beat, imagining his relieved face as he leaves me alone on the dancefloor. Instead, he pulls me in with both hands on my waist and I grasp onto his forearms, surprised. I slowly move my hands up, to settle over his shoulders, moving to the beat of the slow song.
We don’t say anything for a moment, but I feel weird remaining eye contact without speaking. It’s too intimate.
“I think the wedding turned out pretty great, right?”
Derek smiles. It’s small but genuine. “Yeah, you did an awesome job.”
I beam at him. “Thanks.”
“Yeah,” he says, pausing for a second, tightening his hands around my waist. “Thanks for inviting me.”
I don’t know what to make of the look in his eyes. I get the urge to kiss him. Which makes me want to beat myself with something metal because I thought I was over this. Over Derek.
My steps falter as I look away, and thank god the song is ending because I can’t stay here with him like this. I let my hands fall from his shoulders and take a step away.
“I need to, uh,” I look toward the bar, the band, the kitchens, anywhere that might need my help. I see nothing. “F-fresh air. Yeah, just, gonna…”
So now I’m the one leaving Derek alone on the dancefloor. What a turn of events.
I don't get very far before I hear Derek calling after me. I don’t slow down, though, weaving through wedding guests in the hallway, making my way outside. Once I'm out the door at the side entrance, I stop for a brief second to take a deep breath. A hand clamps around my wrist. Derek's hand. I yank my wrist away, suddenly incredibly angry. I don't get to have confusing feelings about Derek right now, not when I'm with Jackson.
"Can you just go, Derek, please?" I say, not looking at him.
"You shouldn't be with Jackson."
I freeze. This isn't happening.
"Why?" I whisper.
I turn around to look Derek in the eyes. “Why? Why shouldn’t I be with Jackson?”
Derek shallows, and does the closest thing to flailing I've ever seen him do. “Because he’s rich a-and pretentious and a real fucking asshole sometimes.”
Is he really going there?
“So this is because he’s rich, huh?”
Derek throws his hands up and lets out a frustrated sigh.
“Well, you just fucking said that as a reason why I shouldn’t be with him. But it doesn’t matter how much money he’s got or who his parents are or, or anything else! I like him. And he likes me. In fact,” I say, hesitating for a split second. “He asked me to move in with him. And I said yes.”
I see the change happening in him slowly. He goes from frustrated to annoyed to angry to livid while I speak. I brace for yelling but instead he simply turns and storms away. I’ve never seen him act like this before.
I manage to chase him down the street.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“You shouldn’t be with a guy like Jackson.” he says with a soft voice.
I’m still pissed though. “Why? I truly wanna know why you hate him so much. And don’t say any of the usual crap like, oh, he’s an asshole and his rich and stuff.”
“He is an asshole.”
“He’s not good enough for you.”
His words cut into me. Nobody’s ever thought Jackson is lucky to be with me. It’s always the other way around. Even if people don’t say it, I can see it in the looks they give us when they think I’m not looking.
“What?” I ask.
Derek steps closer to me—just outside my personal space.
“He doesn’t deserve to be with someone as amazing as you. He doesn’t get how funny you are. He’s with you despite your quirkiness, not because of it.”
He steps closer to me. I hold my breath.
“You should be with someone who listens to your rants about Star Trek, and lets you throw popcorn at the screen when you watch movies.”
Derek takes a final step closer to me and brings his gloved hand up to cradle my cheek. “You should be with someone who gets you.”
I shallow the giant lump stuck in my throat. “Yeah?” I whisper. “And where do you expect I’d find a guy like that?”
I almost miss Derek’s smirk before he speaks. “You could start by looking at what’s right in front of you.”
And then he leans in and kisses me.
“Stupid!” I say slamming the front door behind me. Erica startles, whipped cream comically hanging from her mouth and a spray bottle clutched in her hand. The image is so funny and shocking that I burst out laughing.
“S’not fun’e,” she says, still with a mouth full of cream.
I can’t even respond as I double over, laughter shaking my body and giving me stomach cramps. As Erica shallows, she starts laughing too, and we eventually end up like two idiots on the floor.
When the laughter dies down to small puffs of chuckles, I turn to look at her. “You know when something like this happens, you think, man! It’s really been a long time since I’ve laughed like that.”
“Yeah,” Erica says. “And it’s never even that funny.”
“I know!” I say, laughing again. “Ow, ow, n-no more laughing. Laughing bad.”
We stay silent for a while until Erica sits.
“Nooo, stay,” I say.
“Darling, I would if I could, but I have to get ready for work, and I wanna go by Rosetta’s for coffee beforehand.”
She moves to get up, and I just blurt out, “Derek kissed me.”
She looks at me with wide eyes. “On the other hand, we do have our own coffee machine.”
“I don’t know what happened, he was angry so I started yelling, then he started yelling, and then he left and I chased after him, and he just… kissed me!”
“Okay, first of all, what were you fighting about, and second of all… how was it?” She waggles her eyebrows at me, so I shove her, as much as I can, considering we’re both still lying on the floor.
“It was about Jackson. Derek doesn’t think I should be with him because… reasons, so I told him I’m moving in with Jackson and that’s when he walked away.”
“Alright, with you so far,” Erica says.
“Yes, good, so, I chase after him because I’m still pissed but he’s all different then and he got in my space, talking about how I should be with someone who listens to me ramble about Star Trek, or Star Wars or whatever,” I say, taking a breath and sitting.
Erica sits as well. “Yeah, yeah, those details aren’t important, skip to the juicy stuff.”
“Right, yeah, so, I don’t know, he was just standing so close and being all Derek and I might have said something to encourage him, which was totally stupid!”
“Hence why you yelled it as you entered the apartment, I’m with ya.”
“I don’t know, it was just so, ugh!” I say, grabbing my hair. “And then he kissed me and it was just so, ugh!” I say, falling back onto the floor.
“Well, you have been in love with him since high school,” she says.
I sit back up. “I know! But what about Jackson? And why now? Huh? What’s changed with us? Derek’s never been interested in me but now it’s like—”
I stop midsentence when I see the expression of guilt on Erica’s face.
“What?” she says, all innocent-like.
“Erica. I know you know something, now tell me before I start making threats you know I’ll make good on.”
“Fine! But it’s not my fault Isaac can’t keep his big trap shut.”
“What exactly did Isaac say?”
She looks apprehensive but resigned. “You know that gift you got Derek for his birthday before you went to visit your dad when he got shot?”
“Yeah, I seem to vaguely remember, why?”
She clears her throat. “Well, Isaac may have mentioned the similarity between that and the first edition, signed Vonnegut you got Heather when you first started dating her and were, you know, head over heels for her.”
She sighs. “Yeah, fuck. Pretty much Derek’s reaction too but with more freak out.”
“Wait, then, how did he go from freaked out to kissing me?”
Erica actually smiles. “We talked. At first, he didn’t know anything about what he wanted, he even went on a date the night after his birthday, and I don’t know what happened but one minute they were talking on the balcony, the next he was storming off to meet you at the airport.”
“So…” I say.
Erica rolls her eyes. “So, he went to tell you he wanted to be with you, but…”
I showed up with Jackson at the airport.
“Oh.” I don’t know what else to say, so Erica continues.
“Look I shouldn’t even be the one telling you all this,” she says, moving to stand and reaching a hand out to help me up. “You should go talk to Derek.”
“Yeah. I should.”
Erica gives me an insistent look. “Alright, yeah, fine, I’ll go talk to him now.”
“Excellent,” she says, ruffling my hair.
I feel anxious as I knock on Derek’s door. As much as I’ve prepared what I’ll say, I know it’ll all fall away as soon as I see him.
I’ve spend two hours walking around, thinking about the situation. Do I want to break up with Jackson just because Derek is finally showing interest in me? But it isn’t that simple because I’ve been in love with him for forever and sometimes it feels like there’ll only be him. But Jackson made me feel like I could maybe move on. He’s smart, wickedly funny, and so good to me. He can be a bit of an asshole but he’s also kind to me. Derek, I don’t know. We always argue, can never agree on the simplest things. He’s messed up. He doesn’t know how to talk about how he feels.
So after those two hours I sat down on a bench in the park and thought, well, I guess Jackson’s the one I should choose. But all I felt was disappointment. Because for all his good qualities, there’s one defining my decision in his con-column; he isn’t Derek.
Breaking up with Jackson was hard, especially because he figured out pretty quickly that this was about Derek, and told me I was selfish for ever agreeing to move in with him and letting him think I was serious. I didn't tell him he was wrong, because what good would it do to try to make him see things from my side? I did tell him I genuinely had feelings for him, but I'm sure he didn't believe me.
I finally collected all my things and said goodbye.
Derek's door opens, and all my last feelings of indecision and conflicting emotions about my choice falls away when he says my name.
I fling myself into his arms and burrow my face in his neck. He grips onto me tightly like he needs this just as badly as me, and manages to close the door.
“Hey,” I mumble into his neck.
He tangles a hand in my hair, the other still wrapped around me, gripping my hip. We don’t say anything for a moment but then I slowly start to think about everything I need to say and disentangle myself from Derek.
“Let’s sit down. Talk,” I say, walking to the couch. I take off my jacket and sit down cross-legged, leaving plenty of room for Derek to sit beside me. He does, and then… silence.
I have no clue what to say. I look up to see Derek looking intensely at me and it freaks me out. I know he likes me but it’s weird. Like, I’ve been in love with him for ten years and it’s always been unrequited love. I’ve learned to adjust. This… this is foreign. Totally uncharted territory.
Suddenly, Derek stands abruptly. “I can’t take this!”
“What?” I ask, standing up as well.
“You haven’t said anything since you came in, except ‘hey’ and ‘let’s talk’. It’s driving me insane!”
“I thought you hated my ramblings.”
“I do! It’s annoying, just constant chatter about nothing important at all, and you always just go on and on and on, like, I’m afraid for your oxygen level sometimes.”
He sighs and sags a little in defeat. “But it’s also your most endearing quality. My favorite part of the day is hearing your take on the world and our friends’ lives. I don’t know what I’d do without it,” he says, taking a step forward to lightly grasp my fingers. “Without you.”
“Derek,” I start, pulling away from him. “I’ve been in love you with for… shit, a decade now. You say all these things now but—”
“No, I’m not just saying these things. I mean them. With everything I am.”
And, God, if that isn’t just the most swoon worthy thing he could have said. I am so fucked.
“So…” I say.
“So,” he says, grasping both my hands tightly this time. “I want you. I want to try something real with you. If you want?”
And, really, who could say no to that?