He sits at the wooden table, the one they never got the chance to share. The one they’ll never eat breakfast at, or make love on. They one they’ll never use for family dinners, or researching the latest threat to their beloved home town. He’s getting emotional over a fucking table, and he angrily wipes away his tears. No use shedding them when Stiles is already gone, and he can’t see them, can’t see what he’s left behind. The fixed man, who’s broken once more, with noone around to fix him this time.
“Stiles!” He can smell the blood before he sees it. Sees the razor sitting on the counter. He knows what Stiles has done.
“Derek.” He breathes out, voice almost too faint, even for his werewolf hearing. He’s fading fast, and there’s nothing Derek can do to stop it. He could give him the bite, but it’d still be too late, and Stiles doesn’t want it. He’s never wanted it. He just wanted to remain human.
“What the hell were you thinking?!” He sounds angry, desperate, and he draws him in close, close enough that he can smell the blood where it’s pooling out from his body, and Stiles sounds tired, oh so tired.
“You came.” He whispered, ignoring Derek’s plea. He reaches a shaky hand up to cup Derek’s face. His face is too pale, even considering the fact that it’s Stiles and he’s always been pale, much too pale.
“Of course I came! Stiles, you can’t give up! You hear me? Don’t you dare give up!” His pleas are desperate, and he repeats them like a mantra, shaky hands dialing an emergency operator, even though he knows it’s too late, much too late.
“I love you.” Stiles whispers instead. Blood is pooling onto the floor, draining from his slashed wrist. Derek holds it to his face, clutching it tight, unable to think, unable to breathe. Meanwhile, Stiles is growing colder and colder, even as Derek clutches him closer, trying to keep him warm.
The last words Stiles ever hears is the faint “I love you too.” whispered into his ear, just as his eyes close, and an emergency operator promises to come to them. Derek doesn’t even need to hear Lydia’s wail calling to him from across town to know that it will be too late.
He’s in his bed now. The bed that smells only of him, and not of them. The bed that will never smell of them. He can’t stand to be here now, in this tiny loft where they used to spend time together, with the smell of him growing faint, even on the couch where he’d crashed a couple of times when he was too tired to go home. He hauls himself out of bed, out of the loft, and before he knows it, he’s pulling up to his house. The police cruiser is gone, but the Jeep is still there. His baby. He carefully climbs into his bedroom, the one place that smells wholly of him, no one else. The one place where everything still feels okay. Feels like maybe he’s still here. He settles himself on the bed, clutching tight to a pillow, surrounded by his scent, where it hasn’t had the chance to grow fainter.
He doesn’t know what draws him to Stiles’s house in the first place. He just knows that he hasn’t heard from him in a few days, and he is worried. He crawls into his bedroom window, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, but he’s not there.
He pauses, allowing his ears to take over, and he can hear a faint heartbeat coming from the bathroom. It’s too slow though, much too slow.
He heads for the bathroom, his heart racing, praying that this is all some terrible nightmare that he’s going to wake up from, but when he catches a scent of blood, he knows. He knows that he can’t wake up from this.
The door is shut, but he charges in, his heart stopping.
He already knows he’s probably too late.
He doesn’t hear when the Sheriff gets home, doesn’t even flinch when the Sheriff opens his son’s door, and his heartbeat picks up, until he realizes that it’s Derek on the bed. He can feel the grief coming off him in waves, can smell the salt from his tears. The Sheriff sits next to him on the bed, carefully laying a hand on his shoulder.
“Derek, you awake son?”
Derek flinches at the way the Sheriff’s voice breaks over the word son. A constant reminder that Derek isn’t his son. His son is buried six feet under, won’t ever be called son again. Derek can hardly stop the tears from falling.
“I know. I know.” The Sheriff soothes, and it feels wrong. Derek should be comforting the man who has now lost his entire world again. He has no one, nothing, and it’s all Derek’s fault. He should have been there just a few minutes sooner.
‘Stiles would have hated this.’ He thinks quietly to himself. Everyone is too somber, too far gone in their grief. Stiles was their beacon of light, the one who kept them all laughing, even when he didn’t feel like laughing himself.
People come up too him, tell him what a great loss it is, but he doesn’t believe them. They don’t know, they couldn’t. So Derek focuses on the pack.
Scott is still in shock, and Derek is worried for him. Scott’s never gone through this, never lost someone close to him where they won’t come back, and Derek can’t do anything to help him.
Lydia’s numb. Numb over the fact that she couldn’t sense it, couldn’t stop it. Only knew when she wailed, and wailed, a painful way to learn about the death of one of her best friends. She clutches tightly to Jackson’s hand. Jackson who had flown home to be with the pack. Jackson, who is now Lydia’s rock. The one holding her together.
Isaac is stoic, but Derek can see that he’s close to cracking. Stiles is the one who taught Isaac to laugh again, to trust. Derek’s afraid he might go back into his shell. Might go back to the bitter, angry boy he was before.
Allison can’t seem to do anything but cry. Her eyes are constantly wet with unshed tears, and she clings to Scott, trying to offer comfort, in the best way she knows how. As morbid as it is, it brought them back together.
Cora keeps watch over her brother, making sure that he’s okay, but Derek prefers to wallow in his own grief. He just lost someone again, someone that was supposed to be his forever, and he can’t hold on. Can’t seem to find a way to put one foot in front of the other, because he lost a member of his pack again. Lost the person who taught him how to love again.
The two sit quietly on the bed for a moment, the Sheriff carefully running a soothing hand along his back, as Derek finally allows himself to cry. The tears stream down his face, and he can’t do anything to stop them.
The Sheriff allows him to cry for almost an hour, helping him to let go of his grief before he speaks.
“Come on, Son. I’ll make you some breakfast.”
The Sheriff leads him down the stairs, and directs him to set the table. Derek does so quietly as the Sheriff grabs ingredients from the fridge and cupboards. The door opens, and they both jerk their heads up, knowing, but unable to stop hoping.
Derek tries not to feel disappointed when he realizes it’s only Scott and Mama McCall.
They don’t show any surprise that Derek is there.
Derek still can’t believe that Stiles isn’t here with them. He was their glue, the person who brought them together, and kept them that way.
Derek doesn’t know how to feel when he discovers the note.
He doesn’t want to read it. Doesn’t want the note to be Stiles’s last words to him.
He’d rather they be the simple ‘I love you’ that he whispered to him in the bathroom.
He opens it, sees that it’s addressed to him, like he’d known Derek would be the one to discover him.
That sounds awfully formal, doesn’t it? I guess that’s okay though, because it’s kind of a somber occasion. I guess you’ve probably already found me by now. I just want you to know that this wasn’t your fault. I’ve been planning this for awhile, right down to the last second. I know what I’m leaving behind, especially my dad. God, this is going to kill him, isn’t it? If only that was enough to stop me from doing this, but I just can’t do this anymore, Derek. I can’t go on living. The darkness surrounding my heart is growing darker, consuming me. I can’t live with it anymore. I just want to be free from it.
Look after my dad, please. He’s going to need you, Derek. He needs someone to look after, someone to at least pretend to protect. He already thinks of you as part of the family anyways. I’ll have my mom, but he won’t have anyone, so you’re good for each other. I know it’s not fair of me to ask this, but you’ll do it, won’t you? For me?
Promise that you won’t shut down, Derek. Promise me that you’ll continue to be the man you’ve become. You’re one of my best friends, Derek, and I just want the best for you, and I know it kind of sucks for me to ask you this when I’ll be the one causing you pain, but I just can’t stand the thought of you going off the deep end Derek. The pack needs you now, more than ever.
Make sure Scott’s okay. He’s my brother, and he’ll need you more than ever. You too are practically brothers anyways. What was it that you said to him? Way back when you first met? ‘We’re brother’s now.’ That was it. You’re brothers. You need each other. Take care of him for me, I don’t want to be seeing any of you for a long time.
I love you, Derek. I’m just sorry I’m not going to have the chance to tell you in person. I’ve loved you for so long that I don’t even know where it started. I just wish you felt the same, you know? And it kind of sucks that I won’t know until long after I’m gone what could have been, but I just can’t stay to find out. I can’t.
I think I’m ready now, Derek. Ready to go. I love you, always.
Breakfast is a quiet affair. They are still too far gone in their grief to even communicate properly. Scott seems to have a permanent frown etched on his face, while the Sheriff and Mama McCall seem older, more somber, and Derek is drawn in on himself.
After breakfast, Scott and Derek go to sit on the front porch, twin pillars of grief.
“I just want to know why.” Scott finally voices.
Derek lets out a small sigh, unsure about whether to tell Scott about the letter. The one meant for Derek. His personal goodbye. He can’t bring himself to share it with anyone.
“He never said anything, you know? Never gave any indication.”
“He was Stiles.” Derek murmured. “Always making sure everyone else was taken care of, but never telling anyone if something was bothering him.”
“He was my best friend, Derek. What does that say about what kind of friend I am, if I can’t even tell my best friend, my brother, was suicidal.”
Derek reaches over and pulls Scott into a hug. “None of us knew. This isn’t your fault Scott.”
“If it’s not my fault, then whose is it?”
Derek doesn’t know how to answer that, mostly because he’s thinking the same thing himself, so he just pulls Scott in closer.
They’re sitting beneath the stars out in the preserve near Derek’s old house. They come here sometimes, when they need to get away. Stiles is sitting next to Derek, so close they’re almost touching, but not close enough for Derek. It feels like they’re oceans apart, and it’s all he can do to not reach across and grab Stiles’s hand.
“I still miss her.” He says quietly.
He nods his head. “I wonder what she’d think about all this. Werewolves, and kitsunes, banshees, magic… Wonder what she’d think of me.” He doesn’t say it, but he can almost hear the ‘Would she be proud?’
Derek doesn’t know how to answer that because he’s wondering the same thing. What would his family think of what he’s become. Would they be proud? Proud that he’s built himself his own family, and is on the cusp of claiming his mate. On the cusp of having everything he’s ever wanted.
He goes home that night, after spending a quiet day with the Sheriff and McCalls. He sets down the photo frame the Sheriff gave him, a picture he didn’t even know existed. Stiles and Derek are sitting on the front porch of Stiles’s house. They’re not looking at whoever’s taking the picture, so Derek’s eyes didn’t flare. It’s one of the only pictures that Derek has of the two of them now. He doesn’t think it’s fair that he won’t get any more.
He collapses onto his bed, not even bothering to take off his clothes. He does, however, take out the red hoodie he managed to smuggle from the house. The one Stiles wore all the time as a joke. It still smelled like him, so Derek wrapped it around his pillow, and he buried his nose in it, out within minutes.
“You know, I never thanked you.”
“For believing me about my dad, and Ms. Blake, and for the part you played in saving them.”
“You don’t need to thank me, Stiles.”
“No, but I do, Derek. I can’t even count the number of times you’ve risked your life for me, like when Matt was attacking the police station, you made sure Scott got me to safety. In the pool, you pushed me away, trying to save me, and you got paralyzed yourself. You saved my best friend by almost killing yourself, the list goes on and on, Derek.”
“What about you, Stiles? You’ve saved me too. You held me up in a pool for hours, trying to keep me from drowning. You hid me in your bedroom when I was on the run. You were about to cut off my arm when I was dying, and you came back for me in that elevator. You’ve saved me just as much as I’ve saved you.”
“We saved each other.” Stiles whispered.
“Derek?” The familiar voice calls to him, and he bolts upright in bed.
“Stiles.” He doesn’t mean to speak in a whisper, it’s just what it comes out as.
“Hey.” His voice is soft, and he’s wearing that damn red sweatshirt. He’s got a smile on his face, and the worry is gone from his face. He looks so, so happy, and Derek breaks a little inside.
“I miss you.” Derek’s voice cracks a little over the three words.
“I know.” There’s a hint of sorrow in his voice.
“Why couldn’t you have just stayed?”
“I wasn’t happy, Der. The darkness got to be too much, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.”
“I could have helped.”
“Please don’t blame yourself.” A hint of anger enters his voice. “This isn’t your fault. It’s like you told Scott earlier. It’s not your fault.”
“I couldn’t save you, Stiles. How is that not my fault?”
“Because I didn’t want to be saved, Der.”
“I love you.”
“We could have been happy together.”
“Not really, Der. I had too many demons to face.”
“We could have done it together.”
“I’m sorry.” His voice was getting softer, and he was starting to fade.
“Please don’t go.”
“I have too.”
“Please don’t leave me here, without you.”
“I can’t stay.”
“I need you, Stiles. I can’t function without you here.”
“I love you.” He whispered, as he slowly faded into nothingness.
“I love you too.” He whispered into the air, knowing he wouldn’t get a reply.
“My name’s Stiles.” The kid looks at him expectantly, wanting Derek to say something.
“Does your dad work here?”
“So why are you here? Did you run away? My friend Scott and I tried to run away once. We only made it halfway down the street before my dad found us. He’s the Sheriff, which is the coolest job in the world-”
“I didn’t run away.” Derek interrupts him, trying to rein in the rudeness.
“My family-” Derek has to stop to compose himself. “My family burned to death in a fire.” He doesn’t know what makes him say that, as he still can’t really process what’s happening, but this kid, Stiles, feels safe. Feels like home.
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing? It’s not your fault.”
“That’s what people told me when my mom died. Lots of ‘I’m sorry’s’. Never made much sense to me either.”
“Stiles?” A new voice comes from behind them. Derek looks over his shoulder, and notices the Sheriff standing next to Laura.
“You’re supposed to be at Scott’s.”
“Umm, yeah. About that, you see, Mr. McCall stopped by today, and well…” The sheriff just sighs and shakes his head.
Laura comes to stand beside Derek, wrapping her arm around his shoulder.
“Well, Laura, Derek, it looks like everything’s in order. I’ll call you if we find anything.”
“Thank you.” Laura states, turning around and dragging Derek to the door, but not before he hears the Sheriff speaks.
“How many times do I have to tell you you can’t just come waltzing in here.”
“But he looked so sad, Dad. He looked like he could use a friend.”
“Alright, come on, you little delinquent. Let’s get you home.”
Derek glanced back at the boy, who was staring right back. Derek waved, and the Stiles waved back, mouthing the word “Bye.” Derek turned around, and walked out the door, a small smile on his face for the first time in days.