When Derek Hale woke up at the age of eighteen, he felt nothing. People always said that most of the population immediately felt the connection to their soulmate upon waking at the age of eighteen, but Derek knew that was bullshit because there was always one person older than the other in every relationship.
Unless someone happened to be soulmates with someone born at the exact same time as them, but it didn’t seem to work out that way.
So when he woke up at the age of eighteen, he waited to see if he would feel anything and, upon finding out he didn’t, determined that either his soulmate was younger than him, dead, or he didn’t have one. The last two were preferable, but he figured it was more than likely the first.
Derek didn’t dwell on it and instead just went about his day as normal, lived his life, all that fun stuff. He went to bed and woke up and every time he did, he felt nothing.
He graduated high school, went off to university, and still felt nothing. For the first year, he didn’t worry about it. During the second year, he started being a little concerned. By his third year, he was positive he was destined to die old and alone which, again, not a big deal except his mother was always on his case and really worried about him. He was starting to get concerned that she would find another person who had missed out on their soulmate and try and get them together, and Derek did not want that. At all. In any capacity.
It was when he came home during summer break between his third and fourth year of university that he knew his soulmate had turned eighteen. In fact, he was almost willing to bet that he knew the exact moment his soulmate turned eighteen, because he was sitting at dinner with his mother and older sister, reaching for his glass of water when he felt his fingers burning and let out a shout.
“Language!” Talia insisted, smacking his arm. It didn’t even hurt, but he still winced, looking down at his fingers, which still ached with pain. Which meant his soulmate was a fucking human.
Terrific. Derek had spent twenty-one years of his life being able to heal and thus limiting the amount of pain he felt, and the second his soulmate turned eighteen he was now going to live with the pain of burned fingers. Awesome.
“Oh my God,” Laura was across the table from him, spoon hovering near her mouth. “Oh my God, Derek! Was that your soulmate?”
“No,” he snapped angrily.
“Oh my God, it was!”
“It was?” Talia instantly brightened and Derek groaned, burying his face in his hands.
“Yes! Finally! Three year age gap!” Laura punched him hard in the arm and he scowled at her, trying to inch away, since his soulmate now definitely knew that he was already eighteen. “That ain’t bad, little bro!”
“Shut up!” Derek shoved her, hard, and she fell out of her chair. All Laura did was laugh and Derek stood, storming to his room and slamming the door.
He leaned back against it, and stared down at his fingers, which still ached. Scowling, he clenched his hand into a fist and slid to the floor, raking one hand through his hair and sighing.
He didn’t know what cosmic joke the world’s creator was playing on them, but everyone knew two facts about their soulmate: the link occurred when both parties were eighteen years of age, and no matter what they did, they would always, always feel each other’s pain.
His mother liked to say it was because it allowed both parties to recognize each other’s feelings, because it wasn’t just physical pain, but emotional pain, as well. If two people got into a fight, both would know how the other was feeling and it would help them resolve whatever was making them upset.
It supposedly worked extremely well, except Derek wasn’t good with people. He didn’t want a soulmate, he just wanted to live his life and decide for himself if he wanted to be with someone. He didn’t like that some higher being was in control of who he was supposed to have feelings for, and wondered if he could just... avoid it. Maybe he could just leave and go somewhere else where his soulmate wouldn’t be able to follow. He knew that wasn’t fair to his soulmate; for all he knew, the other party wasn’t happy about this, either.
All Derek knew was that he didn’t think he could handle being with someone he didn’t care about, and there was no way he could care about someone he didn’t even fucking know. The whole concept of soulmates was ridiculous and he hated it.
And worse still, his soulmate was apparently clumsy or had terrible friends. Derek winced when something hit him hard on the back of the head, and then he felt a slight ache in his fist, like he’d punched a wall. So not only was his soulmate clumsy, he was also an idiot. Just what Derek wanted.
He stayed in his room for the rest of the night, ignoring Laura in the next room who was calling everyone she knew and cackling like an idiot. Derek lacked the energy to go over and shut her up, so he just lay in bed and read a book, ignoring the various aches and pains that assaulted him.
When his throat burned, he knew his soulmate had just thrown up, which meant he was either sick or drunk. Somehow, Derek felt it was probably the latter. He’d only had a connection to his soulmate for three hours and he already hated him.
The front door opened a few hours later, when his parents had gone to bed and Laura had finally calmed down enough to do something other than harass him. When he heard a knock at his door, he knew it could only be one person and sat up, calling for her to enter.
Cora walked into the room and shut the door, moving to sit in his desk chair and rotating it from side to side while watching him.
She’d turned eighteen earlier in the year and had already found her soulmate, though she refused to tell anyone who it was, even Derek. He didn’t pry, only because he knew that she would be the one to have his back when his soulmate turned up, so he hoped he was right.
“Where’ve you been?” he asked, not having seen her since he got home that afternoon.
“You’re still friends with that loser?” Derek tossed his book on the desk and Cora rolled her eyes.
“Stiles isn’t a loser, he’s my friend.” A smile teased the corners of her lips. “It was his birthday today.”
“Funny,” Derek said dryly, glaring at her. He’d never admit to her that he didn’t actually mind Stiles, but he’d grown up having to tolerate him and Scott coming around all the time to play with Cora, so he had no patience for the moron most of the time due to the past. He was sure Stiles was fine now, if a little eccentric, but he didn’t want to give her the impression she could invite him over whenever she wanted.
Not that he had a say in the matter, really.
“Laura told me you found out,” Cora leaned forward. “How do you feel?”
“In pain,” Derek said grumpily. “Apparently my soulmate is clumsy, a masochist, or in a very terrible household that abuses him a lot.”
Cora winced at that and Derek scowled, realizing that could very well be true. Then again, he still maintained that his soulmate had been drunk and vomiting, so he figured it was unlikely.
“Also human,” he muttered.
“Yikes, you’re gonna have to spill the beans if it’s not someone who knows.”
“Which is most people.”
There was a very small group of humans who knew about the Supernatural world, and almost all of them were friends with Cora. The chances of it being any of them were slim, and Derek really wasn’t looking forward to having to explain that the reason he would get hurt and the pain would disappear almost instantly was because he was a Werewolf. That probably wouldn’t go well.
“Don’t worry about it yet,” Cora insisted, slapping his arm lightly. “You’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
Derek shrugged indifferently and lay back down on his bed. Cora took that for the dismissal it was, kissed his forehead, told him she was happy he was back and then left the room. He lay awake staring at his ceiling for a while, all of the aches and pains of the evening fading now that his soulmate was asleep.
Rolling over, he curled onto his side and scowled at the far wall, wondering if it was possible to hate someone he was meant to fall in love with.
He’d probably manage out of spite.
When the doorbell rang at ten-thirty the following morning, Derek knew it could only be one person, and that really annoyed him. It didn’t help that he awoke with a pounding headache and felt like he was dying.
If he found his soulmate in the next few hours, he was going to strangle them for getting a hangover, because Derek was now getting all the bad without any of the good, and that just wasn’t fucking fair.
Climbing out of bed and heading to the bathroom, he relieved himself and brushed his teeth before returning to get some real clothes on. Once he was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he headed down the stairs to Cora and Scott’s raucous laughter while another party groaned in pain.
“You’re both fucking evil,” the moaning party insisted. “Fucking Werewolves.”
“Your own fault for getting drunk,” Cora chirped cheerfully, Derek reaching the bottom of the stairs and bypassing the living room to head for the kitchen. His sister called him back, but he ignored her. He wasn’t going to say hi to her idiotic friends he’d known since they were children, he had no patience for that while sporting a pounding headache.
His mother smiled when he entered the kitchen and kissed his forehead, which made him wince in pre-emptive pain. Thankfully the pounding wasn’t as bad as he’d anticipated at the action and he sat down at the counter while she made pancakes.
“Why are you feeding the garbage disposal and his sidekick?” Derek grumbled.
“Be nice,” Talia insisted, her back to him while she flipped a pancake. “He has a hangover and his father kicked him out of the house for the day after he destroyed it last night.”
“Serves him right,” Derek grumbled, but he said nothing else while watching his mother work.
He asked where Laura and his father were a few minutes later, but Talia only said they’d gone out and would be back for dinner so he shrugged it off.
When the food was ready, Derek helped her bring it all into the dining room and sat down, serving himself before the others walked in to eat it all. Cora came in first, followed by a snickering Scott and a groaning Stiles.
Derek had a bite of food headed for his mouth that promptly froze on its way there, eyes on Stiles while he made his way to the seat across from him and fell into it.
It had been an entire year since Derek had seen him last, having stayed behind at school for winter break, and he could honestly say that this past year had been extremely kind to him.
Stiles had grown out of his gangly, awkward teenager stage, having filled out a little bit and looking less like a beanpole and more like an actual human being. His hair was longer, he’d lost the baby fat in his face, and looked like he was actually making an effort with how he looked before walking out the door—though possibly not today, because he looked like shit.
But even looking like shit, he actually looked really fucking amazing, and Derek was a little taken aback.
“Hey Derek,” Scott said, taking his own seat and reaching for a pancake. “How’s school?”
“Fine,” he forced out, managing to get his voice under control before anyone could notice him staring at Stiles. He really didn’t need three Werewolves smelling him getting a little turned on with only two possible choices.
“Still grumpy-looking, then?” Stiles asked, having crossed his arms on the table and putting his head down on them. “Do you ever smile? How are you so weird compared to Cora and Laura?”
“They’re the weird ones,” he insisted with a scowl, stabbing at his pancake and shoving a piece into his mouth.
“Derek’s just grouchy because his soulmate made their appearance last night,” Cora said.
Derek turned to her sharply and Stiles’ head shot up, he and Scott staring at him open-mouthed.
“Holy shit, so you do have a soulmate!” Stiles exclaimed, turning to Scott. “Dude, some poor SOB is gonna be stuck with that grumpy fucker!”
“Language!” Talia warned, giving him a look and he winced and mouthed an apology.
“Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was you?” Scott asked, looking between Stiles and Derek with a grin. “You turned eighteen yesterday. Derek got his soulmate yesterday.”
“Dude!” Stiles insisted, horrified, at the same time Derek snapped, “No!”
“I think it’d be sweet,” Talia said from the head of the table. “You’ve known one another for a long time, and this would certainly solve the Werewolf problem.”
“Derek is not my soulmate,” Stiles insisted. “I mean, look at him!” He motioned Derek. “He’s all grumpy and sourwolfish, and I mean, yeah, he’s great to look at, with the stubble and the working out, and face of a God sculpted out of stone and all that, and arms that could definitely carry me damsel-in-distress style whenever he wanted and what was I talking about again?” He turned back to Talia. “I think I lost my train of thought.”
“Moron,” Scott insisted playfully and whapped him across the back of the head. Being a Werewolf, the hit had been much harder than Derek was sure he intended.
And it also caused a sharp pain at the back of his own head that had Derek freeze.
“Ow!” Stiles turned to Scott angrily, rubbing his head. “Dude, Werewolf strength versus fragile human! How many times do I have to remind you?”
Derek stared at them while they bickered, his brain going a mile a minute. There was no way it was Stiles, that was fucking ridiculous. Stiles was Stiles. His sister’s best friend, the bane of his teenage years, an annoying fly he couldn’t seem to escape from. It couldn’t be Stiles!
“Honey? Are you okay?”
Derek turned to his mother while Stiles and Scott wrestled together, something Stiles should’ve known better than to do considering he was a ‘fragile human,’ as he kept reminding them all.
“Fine,” Derek forced out. “I’m fine.”
A coincidence. It was only a coincidence.
Derek was starting to think it was not a coincidence, but he was adamant that his soulmate wasn’t Stiles. While it was true most people’s soulmates tended to be in the general vicinity, either through friend of a friend or family members of friends, he doubted very much that his soulmate was his sister’s friend, who he used to babysit when they were all younger, and used to annoy the piss out of him.
Perhaps Stiles had grown up to look a lot more attractive than Derek had expected, but that didn’t excuse the childishness of him and the fact that Derek really, really, really didn’t want to be soulmates with his sister’s friend. He would never hear the end of it.
And Stiles was annoying! He drove Derek crazy! Maybe he’d changed in the past year, but considering the past few days, he doubted it!
When Derek opened the door two nights later to find Stiles standing awkwardly on the porch wearing sweats and a hoodie at almost two in the morning, he was ready to slam the door in his face when Cora descended the stairs crying.
She said nothing to Derek and walked outside, Stiles turning to follow her and wrapping his arm around her shoulders, kissing her temple and heading back for the Jeep. Derek had no idea what had happened, and ended up staying up until well past five when they both finally returned. Cora walked into the house and didn’t look at him, heading up the stairs and disappearing into her room. Stiles stood at the entrance, looking tired and sad, hands stuffed into the pockets of his hoodie.
“What happened?” Derek asked, kind of hating that Cora had gone to Stiles, but knowing he was her best friend.
“Her soulmate told her parents about Cora,” Stiles said quietly. “They didn’t take it well.”
Derek winced and scowled towards the front door angrily. It was actually quite common for things like this to go badly. While people couldn’t choose their soulmates, there was something in their makeup that made it possible for a specific individual to be a soulmate. Derek wasn’t sure if what had been told was that Cora was a Werewolf, or she was a girl. He was afraid to ask, but Stiles could read the expression on his face and answered.
“Girl,” he informed him, voice low. “She’ll probably never tell them she’s a Werewolf after the reaction she just got.”
“Do you know who it is?”
Stiles hesitated, shifting his weight, but nodded. “She told me yesterday. Wanted support in case things went badly. She called me as soon as she and her soulmate got off the phone.”
“Are they going to be okay?”
“In time, I think.” Stiles sighed and rubbed at his neck, looking towards the stairs. “Parents can be dicks sometimes. Glad mine isn’t, or I’d be terrified I’m eighteen.”
Derek watched Stiles for a moment, hesitating before asking, “So your soulmate’s already eighteen, then?”
“Yeah,” Stiles turned to him with a fond smile and Derek felt his heart melting in his chest at the sight of it. “They get hurt every now and then, but little things. They don’t usually last very long. Probably hates me, though. I get hurt every other second.”
If Stiles was his soulmate—which Derek knew he was, no matter how hard he denied it—it was something he knew all too well. Stiles had evidently stubbed his toe earlier in the week and Derek had spent five minutes standing in the middle of his room with one foot pressed overtop the other. He’d stubbed his toe before, of course, but the pain went away in seconds. He’d had no fucking idea stubbed toes hurt so fucking much until being linked to a human.
Derek snapped back to the present, looking at Stiles, and when he inhaled, he could smell his fear radiating off him.
“What if I’m not what they expected?” Stiles winced. “What if they’re, I don’t know, someone amazing. Hot, toned, a famous movie star or a popular singer or something. I’m not exactly anyone’s first choice, I had to go to prom with Cora because her soulmate wasn’t out yet and Cora felt sorry for me.”
“She had a great time with you at prom,” Derek insisted. “She told me she did. You were a terrific date.”
“Second choice though. I’m everyone’s second choice.” He sighed and scratched at his head, then shrugged and forced a smile at Derek. “Make sure she gets some sleep tonight, okay? I’m worried about her.”
Derek waited at the door while Stiles got into his car and drove away, thinking about what he’d said. It had never occurred to him that Stiles was nervous about his soulmate. That he didn’t think he was good enough, that he would be a disappointment. If he truly was Derek’s soulmate, it kind of made him feel like an asshole, because he’d spent the last week and a half trying to convince himself that it wasn’t Stiles.
And would it be so bad if it was? He was annoying, sure, but he was still young. Derek had been annoying as a child, too, so he was sure Stiles would grow out of it. And he was good looking, and funny, and an amazing friend. He’d driven out to their house in the middle of the night because Cora had called him. He’d spent three hours out with her to help make her feel better.
Stiles was a good guy, and anyone would be lucky to have him. And that lucky person might be Derek, and now he felt like an asshole for not appreciating that he was getting a good deal. He could’ve gotten stuck with someone pretentious, or alcoholic, or abusive.
Instead, he got Stiles.
Letting out a small breath, Derek turned to head back up the stairs, deciding that maybe tomorrow he would admit to him that he suspected he was his soulmate. He didn’t know for certain, but the chances were pretty high.
He had just stopped outside Cora’s door to check on her when he felt pain so intense crash into his skull that he actually blacked out and woke up on the floor, Cora and Laura standing over him, looking worried.
Then, he started screaming and clutching at his arm, feeling like something had shattered every bone he had in there. There was a painful pressure in his right thigh and he was struggling to breathe.
“Move!” He heard his mother snap, pushing his sisters aside so she and his father could crouch beside him. “Derek, honey, what is it? Are you okay? Is this you, or your soulmate?”
Panic gripped him then at the question. He was in agony, arm a mess of pain and leg feeling like it was trapped and losing circulation, but this wasn’t him. If his soulmate died, his pain would cease and that would be the end of it, connection severed. But right now, his soulmate wasn’t dead, and he was in extreme pain, and it wasn’t lessening. It was only growing worse, like he was alone.
Like no one was coming for him.
“Stiles,” Derek forced out.
“What?” Cora asked, moving closer to their mother. “What about Stiles?”
“It’s Stiles!” Derek shouted. “It’s Stiles, my soulmate is Stiles!” He grit his teeth and threw his head back, clutching at his arm so tightly it was starting to hurt on his side, too.
He heard his mother snap something and then Laura and his father raced down the stairs. Two car doors slammed moments later as two different vehicles shot down the drive. Cora was on the phone, and the way she was speaking made it evident she had called the sheriff. She was pacing and pulling at her hair, looking terrified.
“Derek. Sweetie.” Talia was patting gently at his face, offering him a tight smile. “It’s okay. You’re gonna be okay.”
“He’s gonna be fine,” she promised, but he could smell the worry rolling off her. “He’s gonna be just fine. You know him. Kid’s resilient. He’ll be okay.”
Derek groaned in pain, still clutching his arm. It was definitely broken, and his brain felt like it was too big for his skull. He didn’t know how Stiles was still conscious for this, it hurt so bad Derek could hardly stand it.
Time passed, though in snip-its of white hot pain and occasional dull throbbing, the two alternating back and forth. After some time, he let out another loud shout when he felt the pain in his leg shifting, and the pressure eased off a little bit.
Derek sat bolt upright, Cora letting out a startled shout and dropping the phone.
“It’s gone,” he whispered, feeling his heart stutter in his chest. “Mom, it’s gone! It’s gone, the connection is gone!”
Cora looked like he’d just punched her in the chest, and he could hear the sheriff screaming for an explanation on the other end. His mother just stared at him, her face closed off, and then reached for the phone.
“Noah, I’m gonna have to call you back.” She hung up on him, and then dialled a number. They heard a phone buzzing in Laura’s room, so she hung up and called another number. Another phone buzzed in his parents’ room.
They’d left without their phones.
“Mom...” Derek couldn’t find anything else to say, his brain a panicked mess and his chest aching. Stiles couldn’t be dead, he couldn’t be! Maybe he’d just—passed out! He had passed out, he was fine! If he was unconscious, Derek couldn’t feel his pain anymore! Stiles was fine, he was fine!
Cora was pacing up and down the corridor, sounding like she was having trouble breathing because she kept taking huge, gulping breaths and fanning her face with one hand, as if trying to keep herself in control.
Derek just sat on the carpeted floor of the hallway, struggling to stay calm, praying to God that Stiles was okay and just unconscious somewhere.
His mother remained crouched beside him, still as a statue, one hand on his shoulder in silent support. She said nothing, and it was like she had forcibly shut herself down to stop her children from worrying, because Derek couldn’t smell anything coming from her, and he knew she had to be panicking.
Stiles had been around so much throughout their lives that he was practically a member of the family. Adding in Scott, who was part of their Pack, and those two were like her unofficial sons. He knew she had to be a wreck inside but she was holding herself together for their sake and it was probably taking everything she had.
When the phone rang almost ten minutes later, Talia answered it immediately and put it to her ear.
“It’s me,” Laura’s voice said. She sounded terrified, and there was a lot of noise in the background of where she was. “We found him. I had to knock him out before we pulled him out of the car. It looks like he hit a deer and ran off the road.”
“Is he all right?”
Laura didn’t answer right away, and that terrified Derek.
“Is he okay?” Cora shouted from her position halfway down the corridor, looking ready to completely lose her mind.
“He was in really bad shape. They don’t... there was a lot of blood, and his leg, it was an artery and...” She let out a slow breath. “Dad’s with the sheriff. I’m going to go find Mrs. McCall.”
“Thank you. Keep us posted.”
Talia hung up and squeezed Derek’s shoulder before getting to her feet. “Come on. Both of you. We’re going to the hospital.”
Derek stood slowly and followed her down the stairs, feeling numb and empty the entire way.
The hospital was quiet this time of night, and despite no one usually being allowed to loiter in the waiting room at this hour, the hospital staff made an exception at the sheriff’s request. It didn’t hurt that one of them was Stiles’ soulmate, either.
Derek sat beside his mother, her hand holding his tightly while Cora sat on his other side with her head on his shoulder, their father beside her. Laura was across from them with one arm wrapped around the sheriff, who looked like he’d aged thirty years in the span of a few hours. He was sitting leaning forward with his face in his hands, and Derek wished he had words for him.
Cora had started crying the second she’d seen him, because Stiles had only been out so late due to her phonecall to him. If she hadn’t called him, he wouldn’t have been out, and he wouldn’t have gotten into the accident.
Everyone insisted it wasn’t her fault, this was nobody’s fault, but it hadn’t made her feel better. Derek could still smell the guilt and misery rolling off her in waves, and every few seconds he heard her sniffing, like she was still crying, but he was too scared to look.
Scott had shown up a while back as well, and was sitting on the sheriff’s other side. He got up every few minutes to talk to his mom, but she didn’t have any information for them so he just kept coming back looking sad and worried.
An hour after their arrival, Lydia Martin showed up, her hair in a messy bun and her face makeup free. She was wearing track pants and an oversized hoodie and when she rushed into the waiting room, Cora was on her feet instantly and hurrying towards her, the two of them hugging.
Cora started crying again and Lydia led her away, Derek cluing in only a split second after his mother.
“I’ve always liked Lydia,” she said softly. “I’m very glad.”
“She’s way too pretty for Cora,” Laura said with a half-smile, trying to lighten the mood.
They were gone for only a few minutes, and when they wandered back into the waiting room, Derek’s father stood up and moved to sit beside Derek so that Cora and Lydia could sit down together. They were holding hands and Lydia greeted them all awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable but needing to be there for Cora.
And probably Stiles, since Derek knew they were, at the very least, friends.
“It’s very nice of you to have come, Lydia,” Talia said with a kind smile. “Thank you.”
“Of course.” She nodded and angled herself closer to Cora in her seat, then looked at Derek. “So. You’re the one who bagged Stiles, then.”
Derek shifted uncomfortably, especially when Scott’s head shot up, since he hadn’t been present when they’d been talking to the hospital staff. Mrs. McCall obviously hadn’t mentioned it.
Talia tightened her grip on his hand and reached out with her free one to rub at his arm.
“Yeah,” he finally said, looking at the sheriff’s shoes.
“How long have you known?” Cora asked quietly.
He winced, not wanting to admit it, but he knew he should be honest. “Since the day after his birthday. He was coming around the house, and every time Scott hit him in the head, I could feel it. Little things kept happening and I started figuring out it was him.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Scott snapped, glaring at him and looking like he wanted to hit him. “Stiles was terrified his soulmate wouldn’t want him, and when he finds out it's you, he’s going to think he was right because you knew and didn’t tell him.”
Derek didn’t know how to respond to that, because it was exactly what he’d been thinking earlier while talking to Stiles. He was the asshole pretending it wasn’t true because he didn’t want it to be.
“I never wanted a soulmate,” he settled on, which was the truth. “I just wanted to make the decision for myself.”
Scott opened his mouth to retort when a doctor stepped into the waiting room.
The man was on his feet so fast Laura almost fell sideways.
“How is he?” The sheriff got almost right in the doctor’s face, and everyone relaxed when the man replied.
“It was touch and go for a little while, but we’ve stabilized him. He’s still unconscious, but you can see him if you like.”
The sheriff rushed past him without a word, evidently not caring that he didn’t know the room number, because he would find it himself. There was a nurse waiting a ways down the corridor and she motioned for him to follow her, then disappeared.
Derek buried his face in his hands, struggling to calm down. Stiles was okay. He was in pain, but he was okay. That was all that mattered.
Mrs. McCall came in a few minutes later, hugging Cora and sitting with Scott, one arm around his shoulders. They all waited for a while longer before it was time to head home. They wouldn’t be allowed to see him as a group, and they all knew how important Stiles was to his father, so they filed out, saying goodbye to Scott and his mother, and made their way back to the cars.
Talia invited Lydia to come over, and she and Cora disappeared into Lydia’s car. Laura and his dad went to their own respective vehicles and Talia and Derek returned to hers.
He stared out the window during the drive back, mind working over what he was supposed to say. Now that the panic was over, he knew he’d have to have an explanation for Stiles when he saw him next, but he didn’t know how to do that without hurting him.
“When I first met your father,” Talia said, Derek turning to her, “I hated him.”
Derek’s eyebrows shot up and she offered him a small smile, eyes still on the road.
“I didn’t know that.”
“We don’t talk about it because it was a long time ago.” She turned to wink at him before facing forward again. “He was immature, a jock, and best friends with Chris Argent who was a known Werewolf hater. I loathed him. Every time I had to sit beside him in Chemistry, I wanted to rip his throat out.”
“What changed?” Derek asked, wondering how it had gone from that to what they were now.
“When we turned eighteen and I found out he was my soulmate, I refused to tell him. I’d figured it out before him, and had made sure I did everything in my power to hide that it was me. I didn’t care what happened in the future, didn’t care if I ended up dying alone and unloved, I knew I could not be with that man.” She shook her head sadly. “I was very misinformed.”
Derek knew the story about Chris Argent. There weren’t many people in the Supernatural community who didn’t know it. The man was part of one of the oldest Hunter families in the world, and he was also the first Hunter ever known to have chosen the side of the Werewolves.
His family had dedicated their lives to protecting people from the Supernatural, but his father was a cruel, vicious man who didn’t follow the code. Gerard Argent had tried to kill a single mother of two, who happened to be a Werewolf. Chris had had a choice between killing the Werewolf, or stopping his father.
He’d chosen to save the Werewolf, and Gerard had tried to kill him in retaliation. The woman had saved Chris and had called the police. Gerard was rotting in a jail cell somewhere for attempted murder, and only the sheriff knew the real Supernatural story behind the attack.
“Chris Argent wasn’t a bad person,” Derek said quietly.
“No, he wasn’t. He opposed many of the things his family did, and I didn’t know it at the time, but your father was his support system. Chris had told him about the Supernatural, and every time Chris was forced to do something that took a bit of his humanity from him, your father helped piece him back together again. After everything that happened with his father, Chris’ school life wasn’t easy. His mother disowned him, his sister hated him, and everyone in his family thought of him as a traitor. He only had your father and his family as support, and it’s because of them he was able to get back on his feet and be the ally he is today.”
“I don’t see how that helped with your opinion of dad,” Derek said.
Talia laughed. “Well, in senior year, something happened at prom.” She turned to smile at him. “You don’t need the details, but suffice to say it was terrible. I started losing control in the middle of the gym. I couldn’t get my eyes to return to normal, and I was going into my Beta shift. If someone had seen me, I would’ve been exposed in seconds. What happened instead was your father pulling me to his chest and swaying with me, telling me to just dance with him and calm down. He stood with me for three songs, pretending to dance while I got myself back under control. Then he drove me home and the rest, well, I think it’s fairly obvious how the rest of that played out.”
Derek had had no idea. Whenever their parents spoke about their years together, they always spoke about how good they’d been for one another and how difficult college had been. They hadn’t ever mentioned that they’d actually met in high school, it was always after that phase.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” he asked.
“You hadn’t found your soulmates yet. We didn’t want to taint the experience for you.” Talia turned into the long drive that led up to their house, and parked the car beside Laura’s, turning to look at Derek once she turned the engine off. “Laura and Brad have been together for three years. Cora and Lydia are working things out, but clearly love each other. I was most worried about you, and with everything that happened, I’m wondering if perhaps I should’ve told you sooner.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Stiles,” Derek said carefully after a moment of thought. “We just grew up together and I don’t know how to separate him from being Cora’s annoying friend I used to babysit.”
“People change, Derek. They grow.”
“I know.” He rubbed his face, thinking of Cora. Thinking of Scott. They weren’t going to forgive him for having kept this from Stiles.
He was scared to think of Stiles.
“It’ll be okay,” Talia promised, rubbing his arm. “Just take a few days, figure out what you want to tell him, and go from there.”
Derek nodded, and they climbed out of the car.
Derek stood on the Stilinski front porch for well over ten minutes, staring at the doorbell like it was the most terrifying thing in the world. He knew the sheriff was aware of his presence, because the man was hovering by the living room entrance, but he was grateful he hadn’t come to open the door before Derek was ready.
He’d had a lot of time to think over the past few days, and he knew what he wanted to say to Stiles, but he was also scared to say anything at all. Stiles was most likely upset, and Derek was worried he’d be rejected. He never thought there would come a day where he would be worried about Stiles Stilinski rejecting him, but it was the truth. He didn’t want to be alone, and he didn’t want to lose Stiles.
After an additional two minutes, Derek let out a slow breath and rang the doorbell. The sheriff strode to the door in seconds and pulled it open. He offered Derek an encouraging smile and motioned him into the house. Derek stepped over the threshold and towards the stairs, pausing at the bottom and staring up them.
When the sheriff came to stand beside him, he asked, “Does he know?”
“Scott told him.” The sheriff put both hands in his pockets and let out a sigh. “I asked him not to, but Scott was pretty mad.”
“I don’t blame him,” Derek admitted.
“You saved Stiles’ life, Derek. You told the truth when it mattered.”
Derek said nothing to this and just kept staring up the steps. The sheriff gave him a light pat on the back and disappeared into the living room. Derek turned to watch him go, and felt a pang of sadness for him. He had once had a soulmate, too, but he’d lost her. He’d been alone for years, raising his son, watching him grow, and had probably felt a deep hurt for him when he’d found out Derek was his soulmate and hadn’t told him.
Still, he was kind and supportive. The man who had lost so much, but was still so good. Derek thought that, if Stiles forgave him and they made it work, he wouldn’t mind at all having Noah Stilinski as a father-in-law.
Turning back to the stairs, he let out a slow breath and began climbing to the second floor. Stiles’ door was ajar and he could hear the TV on, but he didn’t let himself pause. He walked up to it and knocked.
The noise from the TV stopped, likely paused, and Stiles called, “Yeah dad?”
Letting out a slow breath, Derek pushed open the door and stepped into the room.
Stiles half-sat up at seeing him, but winced and leaned back against the raised cushions. Derek took a moment to look him over, not having seen him since he’d left his house almost five days ago.
One arm was in a cast, and his right leg was slightly raised and heavily bandaged. He looked a little grey in colour and he reeked of pain and medication. Derek’s own arm and leg still ached, residuals of the pain from Stiles’ injuries, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first night. The pain was fading over time, but he knew it was likely still extremely present for Stiles.
He moved up to Stiles without a word, hesitating before placing his hand gently on Stiles’ bare thigh, just below the bandage. Black lines began creeping up along Derek’s skin, moving from his hand and up his arm. It hurt while he did it, but as soon as he pulled his hand away, the pain disappeared. The ache in his own limbs still remained, but he ignored it and hoped that Stiles felt at least a bit of relief.
“I felt that,” Stiles said quietly, Derek’s eyes raising to look at his face. “In my arm just now. I felt you take that.”
“You have a lot of pain,” Derek said, motioning his own arm and leg. “I just wanted to help.”
Nodding, Derek turned to find Stiles’ desk chair and pulled it closer to the bed, sitting down awkwardly and shifting in the seat, wishing he could be anywhere but here while knowing there was nowhere else he’d rather be.
“Cora says you saved my life,” Stiles said after a long silence. “You knew right away when you felt pain that it was mine.”
Derek rubbed his hands together, licking his lips and looking at the ground to avoid looking at Stiles. “I’ve suspected for a while. I just didn’t say anything.”
He said the words before Stiles could because he didn’t want him to. He’d heard enough people tell him that he hadn’t said anything. He knew that, he was the one who hadn’t fucking said anything!
“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, Derek’s eyes raising to his face, surprised.
“I know I’m not what you wanted.” Derek could smell the hurt coming off him, and he hated it. “I already knew my soulmate wouldn’t want me and, hell, I even admitted it to my soulmate without even knowing it.” He motioned Derek with his uninjured hand and let out a mirthless laugh. “If I could do this over again for you, I would.”
“Stiles, I’m not upset that you’re my soulmate,” Derek insisted. When Stiles looked at him, Derek raised his eyebrows, trying to make it clear he was being sincere.
“Then why didn’t you say anything?” Stiles whispered, and the scratchy way his voice came out made it very clear he was trying to keep himself in control. Derek really hoped Stiles didn’t start crying, because he’d seen Stiles cry before, and it just destroyed him. And that had been back when he’d found him annoying and stupid, so it would definitely kill him now.
His chest ached, and he didn’t know if that pain belonged to him, or Stiles, so he reached out one hand and carefully brushed his thumb along Stiles’ cheekbone, being sure to avoid the bruising on the other side of his face from his head slamming into the side window.
“I never wanted a soulmate,” he finally said. “I’m not good with people, and I don’t like the idea of who I’m meant to be with being decided for me. I had always decided that if I ever got one, which seemed unlikely after three years, that I would hate them on principle.”
“Sounds like you,” Stiles said with a snort, and Derek brushed at his skin again, feeling wetness beneath his thumb. He didn’t comment on it and just inched the chair a bit closer with his free hand, other still pressed to Stiles’ face.
“When I started suspecting it was you, I hated the idea of my soulmate being Cora’s annoying friend who I used to babysit. You were always loud, annoying, irritating and infuriating.”
“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” Stiles asked, eyebrows raised.
Derek rolled his eyes, and continued as if he hadn’t heard him. “When I came home and you started coming by the house again, I still thought of you as that annoying kid, even though you clearly weren’t. You’d grown up along the way, but I was too stubborn to believe it. The night of your accident, when you came over to help Cora without hesitation, and stood speaking to me after she’d gone upstairs, I finally realized that you were the same kid I’d grown up with, but you also weren’t. I was actually going to tell you the next day that I thought we were soulmates, was literally thinking about it while heading back to my room ten minutes after you left, but then...”
“Then a deer decided my Jeep needed a make-over,” Stiles said with half a smile.
“You needed a new car anyway.”
“Screw you, I love that Jeep. I’m going to see if they can fix it.”
“You’re an idiot,” Derek decided, leaning forward then and pressing his lips to Stiles’. It was chaste, and hesitant, but he knew it was what was best for them both right now. They may have known one another for a long while, but this was all going to be very new for them. It was a shift in their relationship, but Derek thought maybe it was a good one.
Stiles smiled at him, reaching up with his good hand to wrap it around Derek’s still pressed against his cheek. Derek leaned forward to kiss his forehead this time, and shifted the chair a little closer. He pulled his hand from Stiles’ face and laced their fingers together, then turned to the TV.
“What are we watching?”
“Do you ever watch anything else? I’m having war flashbacks to babysitting you when you were twelve.”
“I’m injured, Derek!” Stiles insisted, fake-insulted. “Let me watch Anakin turn evil in peace!”
“You’re a moron.”
“Too bad you’re stuck with me,” Stiles said with a grin.
Derek rolled his eyes and tightened his hand around Stiles’. “Yeah. A real shame.”
Maybe this whole soulmates thing wasn’t so bad after all.