It doesn’t take long for them to start avoiding the cities.
After that thing with the makeshift pipe bombs that decimated what little was left of Coquitlam Town Centre, Stiles gets a hunted look and buries his nose in their weatherbeaten road atlas whenever they pass a sign indicating a population greater than 5,000. Derek stops pushing the issue when they find the elementary school full of bodies in Spokane Valley. It’s a week before he can smell anything but charred flesh. They stop bothering to find a place to bunk with more than one bed.
It’s been almost four months since the end of the world. Derek hasn’t spoken to anyone but Stiles Stilinski in 109 days.
“You know, I always thought in another life we could’ve been friends,” Stiles says, long fingers drumming a vaguely familiar rhythm against the Jeep’s steering wheel.
Derek snorts and slouches lower in the passenger seat as Stiles navigates around the makeshift barricade blocking the road. His eyes flash blue when they pass over the cheery ‘Now Coming to Silverwood Theme Park: Scarywood Haunted Nights.’ It’s been spray-painted over with a warning in festive, pumpkin orange. ‘STAY AWAY: THE MONSTERS ARE REAL.’
“You’re wrong about a lot of things,” Derek says, eyes darting from Stiles fingers to brown eyes squinting against the late afternoon sun.
“Not that, though.”
“No.” He can feel the slow curl of a smile at the corner of his mouth, and it’s not as unfamiliar as it should be. “Not about that.”
They keep driving, Stiles tapping ‘Moonlight Serenade’ as they head into the mountains.
Derek could write a book about wishing for impossible things.
He wishes he’d been born human. He wishes his life was boring and normal. He wishes he’d never met Kate Argent. He wishes the first time he fell in love it didn’t end in blood and ashes and self-loathing. He wishes he’d tried harder to keep Laura from going back to Beacon Hills. He wishes he’d stopped Peter sooner. He wishes he’d been more careful to assure Peter stayed dead. He wishes the Alphas never came and poisoned his pack’s minds. He wishes Stiles had got the immunity from his father instead of his mother. He wishes that the Sheriff and Melissa McCall and even Chris Argent were around to watch their kids grow up. He wishes he’d never let Scott convince them to split up to look for survivors. He wishes he could trust himself around Stiles for another twelve days before they meet up with the pack (and it’s a miracle that they’re alive, that they still have Erica, Isaac, Cora, Boyd, Scott, Jackson, and Lydia with chests that rise and fall and hearts that pump) at the cabin Erica used to visit every summer with her cousins.
He’s lying to himself if he thinks Stiles isn’t the most impossible thing he’s wished for in years.
“Generator’s still got some juice,” Stiles says, approvingly, bent over as he examines the controls. Derek studiously does not stare. He doesn’t stare at the way Stiles’ pants hug his stupidly long runner’s legs or the patch of freckled skin his position bares between the waistband of his cords and his threadbare t-shirt. “Should we wait till the others get here?”
“It might not be a bad idea to let Boyd look at it, first,” Derek shrugs, heading up the cellar steps with Stiles at his heels. “I’ve got the fire ready if you wanted to try out that Dutch oven cookbook.”
“If you finish butchering Bambi I’ll make a venison stew that’ll have you in tears, my fanged friend.”
“That sentence—I don’t even know where to start, really,” Derek grins, helplessly, heading for the screened porch and the aforementioned ruminant.
“That’s an indication that you’ve finally succumbed to the Stilinski charms,” Stiles winks, lingering in doorway between the kitchen and the porch.
“Nah,” Derek shakes his head, staring at his hands as he sits on the bench swing.
“No?” He can hear the laughter in Stiles voice, no need to look to know the curve of a familiar grin.
“No. That—that was a while ago.”
Stiles, when he finally replies, sounds more than a little winded. “Yeah?”
“That’s…probably the greatest thing I’ve heard since the world ended.”
“Setting a high bar there.”
“You know me.”
“Yeah. I do.”
There’s a beat of silence where neither of them dares to breathe.