Derek stares at the phone for God knows how long as he changes his mind about calling over and over again. He knows it won’t help, it certainly won’t bring back Stiles, and yet for some reason it seems to be the only thing that he knows how to do right now.
So he picks up his phone and dials Erica’s number like he’s done so many times before. He kind of regrets it the second she picks up, because Derek can already hear the screaming of kids in the background and surely Erica has better things to do than talk to Derek for the millionth time this week.
“Hello?” Erica’s voice is heard over the bickering of the twins behind her somewhere.
“Hey,” Derek says, cringing a little bit because he doesn’t actually have an urgent reason to call. “I’m sorry, it’s me again. I just… didn’t know who else to call.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Erica says, then tuts something at the kids that Derek can’t quite make out. “It’s kind of a difficult moment right now though - “ and Erica can’t even finish her sentence before Derek hears a clattering behind her, like plates scattering to the floor and breaking, and the twins ever so quickly blaming each other for it.
“Yeah, I can hear that,” Derek says, sympathetically, “How about you call me back some other time, huh?”
Erica sighs - at her children and the mess that they’ve just made, not at him, Derek is sure - and says, “Yeah, I’m sorry. I’ve got a couple of kids to strangle .” Her voice louder at the last words, clearly meant for them. Then it softens again as she says to Derek, “Bad timing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s awful that the love of your life just died though.”
Derek snorts softly, because it is just exactly the way Stiles could have stated it, ‘cause even though the words are blunt, the tone behind them is caring and Derek knows just how many hours Erica has already spent listening to him, being with him, trying to get him through this.
“Go,” Derek says, nodding at no one, “Take care of that mess before Boyd comes home to find the house destroyed.”
“Yeah,” Erica says, “Love you.”
Derek nods again as they both hang up.
He places his cell phone on the table again, and stares at the wall. The pictures of him and Stiles, of Stiles and Thomas, of the three of them together. He’s not sure how long he sits there until he hears the front door open, and he forces himself off his chair.
“Hey buddy,” Derek says as Thomas walks into the room, shrugging off his backpack.
“Hey,” comes the small reply.
“Are you hungry?” Derek asks, trying to remember what’s left in the fridge. He isn’t quite sure when the last time was that he went grocery shopping. He thinks it might have been… before…
“Not really,” Thomas says, quietly.
Neither is Derek.
Derek tries not to think of the people all staring at him as he stands at the front of the funeral parlor. He’s not doing this for them anyway, he’s doing it for Stiles. And for Thomas, sitting in the front row, so small, so lost, grieving the loss of his father. He’s got his grandfather’s arm around him, but Derek can’t look at either of their faces right now, because the resemblance to Stiles that he’d find there would be too much for him to handle. He has to stay composed just a little while longer, to do this as Stiles would have wanted.
“Stiles and I had a long time to prepare for this moment,” Derek says, not looking at anyone in particular, just trying to focus on the words. “I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Knowing Stiles, he had a couple of requests.”
He can hear some people chuckle fondly.
“Some of them weren’t exactly as serious as others,” Derek says, a sad smile appearing on his face as he remembers heartfelt. “Like the one where he insisted I bring Chris Evans as my date to his funeral, I’m pretty sure he expected me to ignore that one.” Some more small laughter rising up from the people in front of Derek.
“Others,” Derek continues, “There was no arguing about. As you can all imagine, Stiles’ final farewell couldn’t possibly be over a sad song. And who am I to deny him this?” Derek swallows. “So, his final goodbye to you won’t be through me, but through the immortal genius of the Bay City Rollers.” He does his best not to choke on the last word as the words to “Bye Bye Baby” start ringing through the speakers and a slideshow of pictures is projected behind him.
Derek takes a deep breath, his eyes inevitably going to Thomas. This beautiful eleven year old boy that is the spitting image of the man he loved… loves, because Derek is sure he always will. Just like he’ll always love this son, that isn’t his by blood, but that always will be by heart because he knew that Stiles and Thomas were a package deal when he met them, and not even Stiles’ death will ever change that.
Thomas doesn’t look up at Derek, instead has his eyes fixed on the coffin, wet with tears, and looking ever so confused. Sure, he knows what’s going on, but not even Derek can make sense of it all, how the most important person in his life just ceased to exist, so he doesn’t know how Thomas could possibly understand.
When it is time, Derek steps towards the coffin, together with Scott, Boyd, and a couple of other close friends, and they raise the coffin high enough to rest on their shoulders. Derek wishes that at the same time he could be there with Thomas, hold his hand, kiss him on the head… but he knows that he has to do this for Stiles. If he’s not the one carrying him to his final resting place, it just wouldn’t be right.
And so he walks down the aisle - as he never actually did with Stiles when he was alive - carrying a piece of his heart, a piece of himself, away.
Derek slides one of the cups over to Erica as he sits back down at the table.
“He’s just… up there, all the time, locking himself in his room,” Derek sighs, wrapping his hands around the warm cup.
“That’s what teenagers do though,” Erica says, sympathetically, “I mean, I can’t wait for my kids to spend more time in their room. They drive me crazy sometimes.” She winks at Derek.
“Yeah, but this is… all the time , Erica,” Derek continues. “I mean, I get it, it’s about Stiles. I understand that. But… he could be running a satanic cult up there for all I know.”
“Stiles’ son?” Erica tilts her head, pouting her lips.
“Probably more like a Star Wars cult then, I don’t know.” Derek shrugs.
“They call that fandom,” Erica interjects.
Derek takes a sip of his coffee before he goes on. “Stiles always used to talk to him, you know? That bond that they had… Thomas shared everything with his dad, and it… it didn’t seem to… Stiles was always there, like the glue holding us together, and now it seems like this whole stepfather thing is so much more significant. Stiles chose me, Thomas didn’t, and … I don’t know.” Derek sighs, rubbing his fingers over his eyes, as if that will somehow miraculously make him see more clearly.
“Look,” Erica says, no trace of humor in her voice now, “It was always going to be a horrible time. There’s just no way around it. You can be freaking Harry Potter and he’s still gonna be miserable right now.”
Derek nods. He knows that this is true, of course.
“And then when he does come out of his room…” Derek says, quietly, “It’s obvious that he’s been crying, and -” Derek swallows down a choking sound. He tries to compose himself as he feels Erica’s hand on his shoulder. “It’s just such an incredible waste,” Derek says, shaking his head at the universe. “And I promised I’d take care of Thomas.” He remembers. Stiles all but waved it away, saying he never needed Derek’s promise. That it was a given, that he never expected Derek to do anything else. That he knew Thomas would be taken care of. And Derek doesn’t want to betray that trust. “I can’t let this ruin his life as well.” Derek says, determined.
“You’ll make it through,” Erica says, getting up from her chair as she inches closer to Derek, putting her arms around his shoulders. “Besides,” she says, kissing his temple, “You’re too sexy when you brood. You’ll attract all kinds of people, and I know you, you don’t wanna get laid right now.” Derek snorts. This is so typical Erica. “So you better cheer up. Stiles always loved that goofy smile of yours.”
Derek nods. They lock eyes and says, “God knows why…” at the same time.
It manages to get a smile out of Derek after all.
“You’re always so helpful,” Derek says, his tone sarcastic, but he knows that Erica knows how much he actually means it.
Derek manages to get Thomas out of his room after all, taking him out on a walk through the park. It’s chilly outside, the end of the year fast approaching, but one of those crazy quirks that Thomas gets from Stiles is that they can eat ice cream anywhere, anytime. So that’s how they’re finding themselves on a bench, overlooking the pond, Thomas cradling his gloves around a cup of ice cream.
Derek takes a deep breath, nodding once to himself in encouragement before he asks, “So what’s wrong, Thomas?”
Thomas is still staring down at his ice cream, already half eaten.
“Is it… just your dad?” Derek asks, “Not that that wouldn’t be enough, of course. I’m just wondering… Is it maybe something else as well?”
Derek thinks he can detect a small shrug from Thomas, so he doesn’t give up yet. “School, maybe?” Thomas frets his bottom lip between his teeth, like he does want to say something. “Are you being bullied?” Derek asks, carefully, “Or something even worse? I’d… appreciate any clue you could give me.”
Thomas finally looks up at him. “Do you really want to know?” He asks, eventually.
“I really do,” Derek says, locking his eyes with Thomas’ amber ones. The spitting image of his father’s.
“Even though you won’t be able to do anything at all to help?” Thomas asks, shaking his head wisely, like he wants to protect Derek from this.
There’s relief and fear coursing through Derek’s body at the same time. Relief that Thomas finally seems to be opening up, but at the same time Derek is scared of what he’ll get to hear. Thomas’ face predicts something terribly grave.
“Even if that’s the case, yeah,” Derek says, nodding, and he tries to sound as supportive as he can.
Thomas seems to consider all this for a second. And then he says, “Okay…”
Derek steels himself.
“Well… I’m in love,” Thomas finally says, resolute.
It takes Derek by surprise for a second. This is definitely not what he was expecting. He’s trying to think of something to say when Thomas goes on.
“I know I’m supposed to be thinking about dad all the time, and I am, but I’m also… in love,” he says, and he suddenly appears so grown-up in Derek’s eyes.
“You’re not supposed to do anything, Tommy,” Derek says softly, trying to take the pressure off of him. “There is no right way or wrong way to grieve, you know?”
“I know,” Thomas says, looking down at the ice cream in his lap before taking another spoonful of it. “It just feels like such a bad time to be in love, you know?”
Derek lets out a short laugh. “That’s not how it works though,” he says, thinking back at the time he fell in love with Stiles. It feels almost impossible to remember a time when he wasn’t in love with him. And yet… if he hadn’t fallen in love with Stiles, he wouldn’t be hurting so much right now. But he also wouldn’t have this wonderful boy sitting next to him, pouring his heart out to him.
“I was in love before dad died, and it hasn’t gone away,” Thomas explains. “There’s nothing I can do about it.
“Aren’t you a bit young to be in love?” Derek muses, out loud.
“No,” Thomas replies instantly, seemingly offended.
“Right. No,” Derek says, shaking his head. He remembers being eleven and having a crush on this girl called Paige. He knows it wasn’t anything like the love he feels for Stiles, but he also remembers that at the time he thought it was very serious. It was all that mattered to him back then, so surely that’s how Thomas feels as well. “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
Thomas doesn’t seem to hold his spontaneous reaction against him, luckily.
“I’m a little relieved though,” Derek says, honestly, smiling at the boy.
“Why?” Thomas asks, confused.
“Well, because…” Derek says, “I thought it’d be something worse.”
Thomas looks at him like he’s gone insane. “Worse than the total agony of being in love?” he asks, a judgemental look on his face.
Derek opens his mouth but stops himself before talking. His shoulders sag as he looks out at the pond in front of him.
“No, you’re right,” Derek says, leaning a little bit towards Thomas, until their arms touch. “It is total agony.”
Thomas nods, leaning back against Derek. He looks out in front of him as well, scooping up a bit more ice cream.
“Okay,” Derek claps his hands, pacing back and forth as he talks to Thomas who is sitting on the couch. “We can handle this together, I’m sure. I was a kid once too, you know!”
“You?” Thomas snorts, disbelieving.
“Yes, me ,” Derek says pointedly, and it makes Thomas smile. “So tell me, it’s someone from school, right?”
“Yeah,” Thomas nods.
“Okay, good,” Derek says, continuing to pace back and forth even though he has no idea where he’s going with this. Fake it until you make it, that was always Stiles’ advice when it came to parenting. “And what does she… or he? Feel about you?”
“ She doesn’t know I exist,” Thomas answers. “And even if she did, I’d be so totally beneath her.”
Derek immediately wants to argue with this, because nobody brings Stiles Stilinski’s kid down, but he tampers down his need to object for a second to let Thomas talk.
“She’s the coolest girl in school,” Thomas goes on, full of wonder, “And everyone worships her because she’s an angel.”
“Good,” Derek says, “Good.”
“How is that good?” Thomas asks, frowning.
“Because if she wasn’t, she certainly wouldn’t be good enough for you,” Derek says, sitting down next to Thomas.
“ De-rek ,” Thomas says, exasperatedly, rolling his eyes at Derek.
And for a blissful second, it feels like everything’s back to the way it was before.
Derek’s not sure how long he’s been sitting behind his computer, pretending to get some work done, when in fact he’s staring at the picture of Stiles that is set as his screensaver. He’s focusing on everything he’s seen so many times before, and yet not nearly enough. Stiles’ smile, his upturned nose, the moles scattered around his face, his amber - almost glowing - eyes. He can’t imagine ever forgetting any detail of him, and yet it’s the thing that scares him the most.
It’s the movement in the corner of his eye that brings Derek out of his concentration.
“Hey Tommy,” Derek says, making himself smile at the child, “Can’t sleep?”
Thomas shakes his head, his hands deep in the pockets of his dressing gown.
“I had some terrible news today,” he says gravely.
“Okay, let’s hear it then,” Derek says, bracing himself.
“Jett’s going back to Canada,” Thomas says, his face crestfallen.
“Your girl’s Canadian?” Derek asks, surprised.
“Yes, she’s Canadian,” Thomas says pointedly, “But she’s not my girl . And she’s going back to Canada and I’ll never see her again and it’s the end of the world as we know it.”
Derek’s first instinct is to tell him that it truly isn’t. That he’ll meet someone else, that he’s still got a lifetime of love and loss ahead of him, and that a teenage crush really isn’t that important. But he knows what Thomas has been through lately, and he knows that for Thomas, it feels that important. And that’s all that matters really. So instead Derek says, “That is bad news.” and nods sympathetically. Derek knows he’s made the right move when Thomas doesn’t scoff or runs off, but just nods along with Derek.
“Well…” Derek says, thinking to how he can put a temporary plaster on this. “I know how your dad fixed these things.”
There’s a tiny curl of a smile appearing in the corner of Thomas’ mouth.
“We need Kate,” Derek says, solemnly, “And we need Leo. Stat.”
And that’s how he finds himself on the big couch with Thomas some time later, watching Titanic .
On the screen, Kate is standing at the bow, Leonardo right behind her, asking her to trust him. It’s not that Derek is a huge Titanic fan, but he knows this was Stiles’ go-to movie for everything, and he remembers how he and Thomas could get so hugely immersed in it. So when Thomas is standing in front of him on the ottoman, arms spread wide, Derek does the same on the couch.
“Do you trust me?” Derek mimics Leonardo.
“I trust you,” Thomas replies instantly, and even though he can’t see Thomas’ face, he knows the kid is smiling.
“Fool!” Derek lets out, grasping Thomas under his armpits and pulling him backwards, letting them both fall on the couch.
Thomas shrieks in laughter. “No fair! Leo didn’t do that, you big bully!”
Derek tickles him as he pulls him closer, and the sound of Thomas’ laughter in his ears seems magical to him.
They settle down as they watch the rest of the movie, lounging back on the couch, Thomas’ legs resting on top of Derek’s.
“You know…” Derek says during a quieter part of the movie, when he can tell Thomas’ attention is slipping anyway. “I’m sure she’s incredible, and everything you could ever hope for in a girl… but, a lot of people are in agreement that in the end, there isn’t just one person for each of us.”
Thomas seems to ponder this for a second.
“There was for Kate and Leo,” he says eventually, tilting his head towards Derek. “There was for you and dad.”
And there is no way Derek can argue with that one. He can’t imagine ever loving anyone the way that he loves Stiles.
“And there is for me,” Thomas concludes, determined. “She’s the one .” He points his index finger up, putting action to his words.
Derek smiles softly as he looks at Thomas. He’s just as wonderfully stubborn and passionate as his father was.
“Fair enough,” Derek says, accepting the facts. “And her name’s Jett?”
“Jeanette,” Thomas nods, “But everyone calls her Jett.”
Derek puts his hand on Thomas’ feet, that are resting on his legs. He turns his attention back towards the screen, and so does Thomas.
They’re mostly quiet after that, and when the movie’s finally done, Derek looks over to find Thomas has fallen asleep.
“ Grandpa , oh my God, what were you even wearing?” Thomas cackles as he flips through the photos.
“I’ll have you know that that was very much the style,” John says, amused. “I was quite hip in my day.”
“And you still are,” Derek says, putting the cake that the Sheriff has brought on a plate and cutting off three pieces.
“Thank you, Derek,” John says pointedly, “Thomas doesn’t seem to think so though.”
“Thomas has no taste,” Derek teases, then pointing at a picture of Thomas when he was just a baby, in a plaid onesie. “Just look at that.”
“Hey, no fair!” Thomas calls out, “I was way too small to pick out my own clothes! That was dad!”
“Must’ve been your dad that had such horrible taste then,” Derek shrugs, taking out some smaller plates.
“Nah,” Thomas says, pensively. He looks at Derek and goes on, “Not so horrible.”
It warms Derek’s heart to hear his stepson say that, and even more so to see the Sheriff nod in agreement.
Then Thomas continues going through the stack of photos.
“Is that you, grandpa?” Thomas asks, holding up a picture of a young man playing a guitar.
“Yep, sure is,” John nods, and Derek comes to take a closer look at the photo. He can definitely see an air of Stiles in the young John as well.
“I didn’t know you were a musician,” Thomas says, surprised.
“Well, I’m really not,” John smiles, “Me and some friends were in a band for a little while. We really weren’t that good, but it got us quite a bit of attention from the girls, so I think that’s why we kept it up longer than we should have, really.”
“That’s it!” Thomas calls out, as if he has a sudden epiphany, “Girls love musicians.”
“O- oh ,” Derek says, because he has a sneaking suspicion of where this is going.
“What did I do?” John asks Derek, wearily, but Derek just shakes his head and smiles.
“There’s a concert at school, before the Christmas break,” Thomas goes on, excitedly, “And Jett’s gonna be in it! She’s an incredible singer. So if I become a musician, and I’m in the concert as well, and I’m absolutely amazing at it, there’s a chance that Jett might actually fall in love with me! What do you think?”
“It’s perfect,” Derek nods, encouragingly. “That’s an awesome plan. Except, of course… for the one small setback.”
“That I don’t actually play an instrument?” Thomas asks, still chipper.
“Yes, sir,” Derek says.
“That’s just a tiny, insignificant detail,” Thomas says, his eyes shining with hope.
“Right,” Derek says, and John starts laughing.
On the one hand, Derek is happy that Thomas is focusing on something. That he’s energetic again and hopeful, and that he can keep himself distracted from thinking about the death of his father all the time. Derek is relieved. He wants Thomas to go with his life, to enjoy himself, to have goals and dreams. That is what Stiles and Derek always wanted for Thomas.
On the other hand… Derek kinda wished Thomas’ current goal didn’t involve a drumset. Derek knows that nobody becomes Ringo Starr in a matter of a few days, and clearly neither does Thomas, so right now Derek is stuck listening to the incessant beat of the same melody coming out of Thomas’ room.
Parenthood isn’t a picnic.
“Has she noticed you yet?” Derek asks, because he knows that Thomas wants to talk about it.
“No,” Thomas shakes his head, pulling the couch cushion a little bit closer. “But that’s the thing about romance, people only get together right at the very end.”
Derek doesn’t want to tell him that that’s the way romance is depicted in movies , so he just nods, “Of course.”
“I feel bad though,” Thomas says, looking down at his hands, “You’re helping me with Jett and all, and I never ask you how your love life is going.”
“Hah,” Derek lets out a puff of air. How Thomas can be so adorably naive and innocent is beyond Derek. “Nope,” Derek says, shaking his head, “As you know, that was a done deal a long time ago.”
Thomas pouts, nodding sympathetically.
“Unless of course Chris Evans calls,” Derek says, jokingly, “And then I want you out of the house straight away.”
“Awww,” Thomas replies, playing along. “No fair.”
“No no,” Derek goes on, “There’s no arguing. We’ll want to have sex in every room of the house, including yours.”
“Eww, gross!” Thomas laughs, snatching up one of the couch cushions and slamming it in Derek’s face.
Derek is relieved when dinner is ready, so he finally has an excuse to go get Thomas out of his room and away from that horrible drumset. It’s not that he’s not improving, Derek can definitely tell there’s a talent there, but the hours and hours of drumming on end is enough to drive anyone crazy.
So the second dinner is ready, Derek is running upstairs to Thomas’ room to get him to release the drumsticks.
“Thomas, dinner’s ready!” he calls out as he knocks on the bedroom door.
“I’m not hungry!” comes the reply from behind the closed door.
Derek sighs as he starts to despair again.
“But I made chicken alfredo,” Derek tries again, “You always like that.”
“I’m not hungry !” Thomas says again, and immediately the drumming starts up again, and Derek sighs as he walks back down the stairs.
Two steps forward, one step backwards, Derek thinks, and he saves Thomas’ portion in a tupperware in the fridge as he eats alone.
When the day of the actual school concert comes, Derek isn’t nervous for Thomas’ performance. He knows he’ll do well, he’s been practicing non stop, and Derek can tell he’s gotten very good at it. The one song he has to perform on the drums, Thomas has played countless times by now, and Derek can tell he’s got it down to a T.
No, Derek is more nervous about Jeanette. He has never met the girl, and has no idea how she actually feels about Thomas. According to Thomas she doesn’t really know he exists, and yet Derek can tell that Thomas has so much hope for this evening… He just doesn’t want to see this boy’s heart broken again. The kid has been through enough this year. And Derek knows that there’s absolutely nothing he can do about the way it’ll go. Somehow he doesn’t think going up to a teenage girl and begging her to like his stepson will make much of an impression.
He doesn’t say any of this to Thomas, who is excited as they arrive at the school. He’s twirling his drumsticks between his fingers, and bouncing up and down as he runs along to some of his school friends.
“Stop worrying,” John says next to Derek, as they both watch Thomas disappear into the school.
“He’s got his hopes up, John,” Derek explains, “I just don’t want to see him hurt again.”
“I know,” John says, nodding, “Either way, he’ll get through it. Do you know how many ‘end-of-the-world heartaches’ I’ve been through with Stiles before he met you?”
Derek just smiles. He’s heard the stories before, but he doesn’t want to cut off his father-in-law.
“It was always the love of his life, and his only chance of happiness, and the world depended on it,” John goes on, a nostalgic smile on his face. “And then he met you.” John looks at him fondly. “And he came to me and said he didn’t understand how he could have been so wrong so many times.”
Derek takes a deep breath. There’s a surge of love for Stiles rising up in his chest, at the same time as the deep pain of having lost him. He knows he should be grateful. Grateful that he got to experience it at all. He knows that many people don’t. But Derek is still mad that it was taken away from him. That he didn’t get his happily ever after with Stiles, like they both wanted so desperately. Derek still isn’t entirely sure how on earth he’s supposed to go on with the ground underneath his feet taken away from him, with an entire half of his being that has vanished. He just knows that he has to focus on Thomas, who needs him, who’s a little piece of Stiles that’s left behind and that is now his responsibility. Stiles has given him love and happiness, but Stiles has also given him a son. And he couldn’t be more grateful for that.
“Derek!” A voice pulls him out of his reverie and he looks up to see Erica and Boyd walking towards them. Before he even has a chance to say a proper hello, Erica has her arms around him and pulls him in a hug.
“Hi guys,” Derek says, clasping Boyd’s hand as they pull each other in a bear hug.
“John, you remember Boyd and Erica?” Derek says, but John is already nodding, greeting them.
“Of course,” John says, “How are you?” He looks around them. “Lost the boys already?”
“They’re already inside,” Boyd says, waving vaguely towards the school building, “They couldn’t wait.”
“They’re Octopus number one and two,” Erica says, with a smile.
“In a nativity play?” John asks, frowning.
“Don’t ask,” Derek shakes his head, amused.
Derek and John find a spot near the front, and Derek goes to sit down as quickly as he can. He doesn’t feel much like exchanging pleasantries with other parents or Thomas’ teachers, accepting condolences all over again. People mean well, but Derek often just doesn’t know what to say.
Erica and Boyd join them in their row, and then the whole thing starts. The principal of the school says a few words - he manages to restrain himself from diving into a long monologue for once - and then the nativity play starts. The Boyd Twins are indeed Octopus number one and two, and while Derek doesn’t understand a single thing about the build-up of the play, he has to admit that the twins look cute and Derek is enjoying watching their huge smiles as they wave at their parents from the stage.
And then after their little play, the principal comes on stage again and introduces their Christmas number, with lead vocals by Jeanette. He announces the background vocals by several of the school’s teachers, and the band by the children. Derek can feel his heart beat a little faster in his chest, and he hopes profusely that it all goes well and Thomas can be proud of his performance.
The lights go out for a second and then a spotlight appears on what Derek can only assume is Jett. She is indeed a lovely looking girl, and when she starts to sing Derek is quite blown away by the talent. He didn’t expect too much of a school concert, but he will happily admit that he was wrong when he hears Jett sing the first lines of “ All I want for Christmas is you ” beautifully.
And then the band joins in and Thomas starts drumming and he’s immediately into the rhythm the way Derek has heard him do a million times before now. The lights on the whole stage go on, and Derek feels a rush of pride surge up inside of him as he sees Thomas banging on the drums, smiling as he does so. John nudges his arms against Derek’s, clearly proud of his grandson.
There’s a moment where Thomas’ eyes lock with Derek in the audience, and Derek puts up his index finger and mouths at him “she’s the one?”. Thomas purses his lips together as if to guard a smile, and nods at Derek as he continues to play.
Other students start dancing on the stage, and the whole room is quickly up on their feet, clapping along with the infectious music as Jett continues to sing and the band accompanies her perfectly. Near the end of the song Jett belts out “All I want for Christmas is you” as she points her finger at Thomas, whose smile grows huge, and Derek can’t help but hope. But then she sings it again, pointing at someone else on the stage, and then someone else, and Derek can see Thomas’ face falling slightly.
He ends the song with a nice bang on his drums though, and the whole performance hall cheers and applauds for the kids. Erica whistles as loudly as she can, and John is clapping louder than he’s ever clapped before.
After the show is done, Derek excuses himself from John, Boyd, and Erica for a second, and rushes backstage to go find Thomas. He spots him in the hallway and calls out to him.
“Tommy!” Derek says, excitedly, “That was amazing! You did brilliantly, son!”
“Thanks,” Thomas says, somewhat shyly. “The plan didn’t work though.” He shrugs.
“You can always just tell her then,” Derek says.
“Tell her what?” Thomas frowns.
“Tell her that you love her.”
“No way,” Thomas shakes his head, clearly intimidated by the thought, “And either way, they fly out tonight, back to Canada.”
“That’s even better,” Derek says, crouching down to get to Thomas’ height, “Thomas, you’ve got nothing to lose. And I’m really afraid you’ll regret it if you don’t say anything. You’ll always wonder.” Derek puts his hands on Thomas’ arms. “I never told your dad enough. He knew, and I told him, but I should have told him every single day. Because he was perfect every day and I loved him so much. You know how it’s like in the movies, kid. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
There’s a smile creeping up on Thomas’ face, and he starts to nod. “Okay, Derek,” he says, “Let’s do it. Let’s get our heart ripped out of us by love.” He holds out his hand to have Derek clasp it.
“Alright,” Derek says, enthusiastically, grabbing Thomas’ hand. “Let’s go find her. Do you know where she could be?”
Thomas looks around for a second, then spots a kid walking by.
“Chris?” Thomas asks him, stopping the kid for a second, “Do you know where Jett is? Have you seen her?”
“Jett?” the boy - Chris - answers, “She’s already left with her family. They had to leave right away, their flight’s in like… two hours or something.”
Chris immediately walks away again, to a group of kids that were clearly waiting for him, and Derek sees the disappointment on Thomas’ face.
“No, wait, it’s okay,” Derek says, and he hopes to God he’s right about this, “We’ll just go to the airport. That’s even better, it’s classic, like in the movies!”
Thomas looks at him full of hope.
“We’ll just go say goodbye to your grandpa, let him know we have to run,” Derek says, “And we’ll find her at the airport. Okay?”
“Okay,” Thomas nods, determined.
Driving to the airport and finding a place to park takes longer than Derek had hoped for, and he starts to get nervous as they rush into the great hall, eyes scanning the departure times. He finds Jett’s flight, the “last call” sign already flashing.
“Oh no,” Derek says, grabbing Thomas’ hand as they both run towards the security gate. He knows it won’t work, he knows they won’t let them through, but Derek has to try anyway, for Thomas’ sake. He can’t just give up.
“We’re not actually flying,” Derek tells the man checking passports and boarding passes.
“You can’t go through without a boarding pass, Sir,” the man answers politely, and as to be expected.
“Not even to let my boy say goodbye to the love of his life?” Derek pleads. He can feel Thomas squeeze his hand.
The man looks at Thomas for a second, but then turns to Derek again. “No,” is his firm answer.
Derek sighs. He’s at a loss, and when he looks down at Thomas, the boy is looking up at him expectantly, as if he can still fix this. And Derek feels horribly for not knowing what to do. He’d give the world for this kid. His kid.
“I’m sorry, Tom,” Derek says, shaking his head sadly.
“Boarding pass, Sir?” the man at the desk asks a passenger that has walked up, who is now fumbling with his briefcase.
“Oh dear,” the passenger says, pushing his briefcase in the airport man’s hands, “Would you hold this for a second?”
“Unless…” Derek whispers, noting the distraction at the desk.
“I know I have it somewhere,” the passengers mutters behind Derek.
“Unless what?” Thomas asks, his eyes sharp.
When Stiles asked Derek to take care of Thomas, he probably didn’t mean breaking the law and running rampage through an airport - although knowing Stiles, he might have, to be honest - but Derek just can’t let it end like this. He feels like he’s made a promise to Thomas, to help see him through this, and maybe being a little bit crazy is just what they both need right now. And in some weird way, he thinks Stiles would definitely approve.
“Unless you want to make a run for it?” Derek asks, adrenaline suddenly pumping through his veins. He can see Thomas’ eyes light up.
“You think I should?” Thomas asks, practically buzzing out of his skin.
“Yeah,” Derek whispers.
“Okay,” Thomas whispers back, steels himself, and then he’s off, sneaking past the passenger and the airport guy holding on to the briefcase and in the meantime also his jacket - unnoticed.
“Yes,” Derek says to himself, as Thomas disappears from his sight, hopefully well on his way towards Jett’s gate. He’s confident Thomas will find it.
He isn’t entirely sure how long he waits there for Thomas to return, all the time hoping that Thomas will make it in time, that he’ll find Jett and be able to tell her how he feels. And that she doesn’t break his heart in the process. He also thinks of how incredibly irresponsible he’s probably being, letting Thomas go off on his own in a public place like this. Derek hopes he doesn’t actually end up on the plane to Canada with Jett or something equally crazy like that. He is a Stilinski after all.
But then Derek sees them, two airport security people with a hand each on Thomas’ shoulders, escorting him back. For a second Derek thinks that means he didn’t make it, but then he sees the broad smile on Thomas’ face, and Derek knows the plan worked. There’s a weight falling off his shoulders, and for a second Derek doesn’t think about all the misery and all the pain they’ve been through. All he can see is the happy smile on Thomas’ face, and it means the world.
The security agents simply drop Thomas off with a disapproving look on their face, but Derek can’t bring himself to care about their judging stares. All he can see is Thomas smiling and nodding and bringing up his index finger. The One .
And then a figure appears behind Thomas, slowing her pace as she sees the boy. Derek grins at the sight of the girl, nodding for Thomas to look behind him. He frowns for a second, then turns around and finds himself face to face with Jett. She doesn’t appear to say anything to him, just leans forward and gives him a kiss on his cheek, then turns around again and runs away, surely towards her gate.
When Thomas faces Derek again, his cheeks are flushed and his eyes wide and he looks absolutely amazed before his entire face turns into one huge smile. Derek can’t help but reciprocate. And then Thomas’ feet start working once more, and he takes slow steps towards Derek, opening his arms wide as he comes closer. Derek wraps his arms around Thomas’ little body, holding him as close as he possibly can, lifting him up off the ground. Thomas’ arms are tight around his neck as Derek spins him around.
“Thank you, Dad,” Thomas tells Derek, clinging to him.
And Derek can only swallow away the lump in his throat and nod as he holds onto him a little bit tighter.