The case happened right after lunch, and Stiles still can’t think about anything else, even as he’s driving home at night. The look on those two children’s faces as he and his team found them in some lowlife’s dark basement, the way the younger one wouldn’t let go of Stiles with one arm and his big sister with the other. What kind of fucked-up person would - he can’t think about it for too long or he’ll get nauseous, or turn the car around and drive to the penitentiary just to beat the shit out of the guy. Which he didn’t at the scene, but mostly because he was trying to soothe the little boy while Parrish took care of handcuffing his captor. Probably for the best, really. He doesn’t know what he would do if his hands had been free; probably something reckless that would get him at least suspended.
He just wants to punch someone. Or crash the car against a tree. Anything that’ll get rid of the volcano of energy building up inside his chest, clutching at his heart. Instead, what he does is grab his phone and tap his father’s name, because if there’s anyone who’ll understand, it’s him - and Stiles can’t go home in this state, or he’ll end up screaming at Scott and Allison and neither of them deserve it.
“Stiles? Everything okay?” The Sheriff sounds worried; it’s his default state, really.
“In the sense that nothing dangerous is happening right now, yeah.”
“What’s going on?”
“How do you deal with a case that tears your soul in half?”
What he hears on the other hand is one long, deep sigh.
“How horrible are we talking?” His father asks after a moment of silence, and Stiles begins to feel a familiar sting in his eyes. He hasn’t cried in a while, but this sure as hell seems like an appropriate time for it.
“You know the Agnelli kids? Five-year-old girl, three-year-old boy?”
“You found them?”
“Yeah. In some fucker’s disgusting old basement.”
“Jesus. Please tell me they were alive.”
“Both alive, no significant physical damage, but - Dad, you should’ve seen the look on their little faces. Who does that. I can’t get it out of my head. What if we hadn’t been there in time?” He’s really crying now, he realizes. “And there’s a little chance that Jonah’s gonna forget most of it, but Penny, she’s five. She’s gonna remember all of it and - God, think of the PTSD these kids are gonna have now. And they’re so little.”
He keeps on rambling until his throat is tired of handling both the talking and the crying, and then just sniffles quietly for a minute. His father won’t judge him, he’s been there. In fact, he’s been quiet since Stiles began to talk, and only speaks again when he’s sure his son has run out of words.
“I don’t know if this is entirely a good thing, but it does get easier to deal with this kind of case. And it doesn’t happen often.”
Stiles wipes at his eyes.
“How’d you handle it?”
“I’d go home and hug you really tight. Being with the people you love is probably the thing that helps the most. There was also alcohol, but you’re smarter than that.”
He nods at the advice even though his dad can’t see it, then voices the concern that’s been at the back of his mind for a while now.
“Does it make me a bad cop if I get like this after a bad case?”
“Did you keep your cool at the scene?”
“I think so?”
“Then you’re fine, kiddo. If you were completely indifferent to it, then we’d have a problem.”
“Thanks, Dad. You’re the best.”
He slumps back against the seat as the stoplight turns red, just as his father is saying goodbye and hanging up the phone. Most of his anger seems to have been cried off, and now he just feels spent and empty; he wants home, and he wants it now. Fortunately, it’s only a few minutes away. He can already picture it - Scott lying on the couch, probably watching some Animal Planet documentary after a long day at the vet clinic, and Allison sitting at the living room table with her computer and a bowl of cereal, typing at a frantic rhythm. She keeps saying she won’t bring her work home every night, and yet it’s become a part of their routine.
When Stiles makes it to the apartment, everything is quiet. He feels his heart sink a little more when he remembers Scott is having dinner with Melissa and probably won’t be home for a while, and he can’t see Allison in the living room or the kitchen, where she usually hangs out in the evening.
Fucking fuck. At the very time he needs them most, neither his boyfriend nor his girlfriend are home. It’s not their fault, sure, but it still makes Stiles feel a little bitter as he heads to the bathroom - if he can’t get the comfort from his two favorite people, might as well take a shower and go to bed early.
Except when he gets to the bathroom, it’s warm and steamy and smells like sweet vanilla. And there’s Allison, hair tied up in a knot at the top of her head, sitting at the edge of the tub as a purple bath bomb fizzes away in the water.
“Hey!” She greets him with her usual bright smile, the one that fills up any room she’s in. It only lasts a couple of seconds, though; just long enough for her to notice the sour look on his face. “What’s the matter?”
“Work was awful and people are awful and I hate everyone.” He mumbles. It’s pretty much the gist of what he’s feeling right now.
“Wanna talk about it?”
Stiles considers the offer for a moment, but no, he doesn’t. He’s talked enough.
“Nah, I’m just gonna get my toothbrush and then go shower in the other bathroom, don’t worry about it.”
“Good plan.” She nods sagely. “But, you know. The tub’s big enough for two, if we squeeze a little.”
She has a point. And she’s stepping into the water - which is now a soft, glittery purple, and Stiles hadn’t really expected to find that as inviting as he does. Plus, it now contains a beautiful, naked young woman who Stiles happens to be in love with, so now it’s even better.
He doesn’t waste any time before stripping down and throwing his clothes in the hamper. Less than a minute later, he’s got slightly-too-warm water up to his chest, and instead of sitting straight across from Allison, he nestles in between her legs, his head resting directly between tit #1 and tit #2. If this were a normal day, he’d totally use this position to get a lot of interesting sounds out of her, but right now it’s the most innocent thing two people can do while wet and naked.
It feels like his energy is being restored, little by little. Months ago he never would have thought this could happen; to be in such a loving, intimate situation with someone who was his friend, his roommate, and also his best friend’s girlfriend. Only now she’s his girlfriend too - a concept he still has a hard time wrapping his head around - and not only can he feel completely guilt-free to imagine these kind of scenarios, he can also enjoy them in real life. With Allison’s heartbeat right under his ear and her hand tracing aimless lines on his arm.
A half hour ago, Stiles was crying on the phone with his father. Now he’s cuddling Allison in the tub, and there’s nothing else in the world, just the warm water and their warm bodies and the words that almost sound like they come from far away as her fingers run through his hair.
“You ever think about bringing the buzzcut back?”
This is definitely not the question Stiles was expecting, but the caress feels good and his body is turning into jelly.
“Sometimes, yeah. It was easy and I could cut it at home. Why? ‘D you like it better?”
“You look more grown up like this, but the buzzcut looked so soft. I wanted to pet you.”
“You wanted to pet me?”
“Yeah, I mean - you looked like a duckling.”
Allison laughs, and much to his own surprise, Stiles joins in.
“You could have pet me back then, y’know.”
“Yeah? You’d have let me?”
“Well, I’d have judged you a little, but totally.”
From then it’s all softly-spoken words and lazy laughter as Allison molds Stiles’ hair into a mohawk and he gives her a bubble beard; by the time they’re both clean and dry and most of the glitter has gone down the drain along with the purple water, he’s feeling... Not entirely okay, but worlds better than before. Even more so when they walks into the living room and see Scott, jeans draped over one of the chairs as he hangs out on the couch in his boxers and t-shirt. His grin upon seeing them is just as genuine as Allison’s; Stiles wonders for the umpteenth time how he managed to get so lucky.
“You smell like birthday cake.” Scott remarks as he greets each of them with a quick kiss on the lips. “You both do, actually.”
“It’s Allison’s bath bomb.”
“You guys took a bath together?”
“Yep. And I totally touched your girlfriend’s boobies.”
Scott laughs and shakes his head.
“Dork indeed.” Allison chimes in. “Gave me a bubble bra.”
They settle together on the couch, Stiles in the middle; Scott wraps his arm around his shoulders and Allison lays her head on his thigh. He’s vaguely aware that there’s a little back-and-forth between them about how Scott is watching yet another show about birds, but right now he’s much more interested in the company than in the TV.
The world is awful and people are awful, but there are birds, and bath bombs, and his father’s comforting words, and Allison’s soft touch, and Scott’s warm voice. None of them will stop bad things from happening to innocent people who don’t deserve anything bad at all, but as long as he can get home to something as wonderful as this, Stiles is sure he can go to work the next day and do his best to make sure they happen as little as possible.