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Small Comforts

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Stiles walked into Derek's apartment without knocking, as usual, feeling good about canceling his evening plans to come over when Derek barely spares him a glance from where he's slumped morosely on the couch--a picture perfect image of a truly bad day. There isn't even a wiggle of an eyebrow, and Stiles guilt grows heavier in his stomach.

 

He came as soon as he could, but he'd missed the phone call that could've given him a chance to help Derek avoid getting so low, and it'd been eating him up all afternoon.

 

“Hey, Der,” he starts, making his way to the couch where Derek is curled into himself against the arm of the overstuffed monstrosity and settling close enough that he can feel the heat of Derek's body. “I brought ‘sorry I missed your cry for help’ chocolates. The ones with the nuts and caramel that you like.” Stiles tries to home, but it sounds forced even to his own ears, and it falls flat. He waves the box of candy lightly before setting it aside, catching Derek's raised brow as he turns back.

 

Stiles can't help but snort, hearing Derek's near-customary “What no joke about dogs and chocolate?” as clearly as if he'd said it, and it eases some of the anxious feeling in his belly. He reaches a hand to rest on Derek's knee where he has his arms looped around them, holding them close to his chest. Stiles lets himself lean closer, bringing his chin to rest on top of his own hand, turning in toward Derek so his chest presses up against the front of the man's legs.

 

Derek lifts his head to meet Stiles’ gaze, and the mix of feelings painted on his face make Stiles want to crawl in his lap, wrap them up in a blanket and keep the world away until they're both breathing easily. He doesn't, but it's a near thing, and he puts it on his mental list for future possibilities.

 

“You okay, big guy?”

 

“Not particularly,” Derek manages, his voice rough from swallowing emotions and hours of disuse, Stiles tries not to whimper at the way it makes his heart clench to hear.

 

“I know,” Stiles replies softly, his other hand moving automatically to pry one of Derek's away and tangle their fingers together.

 

Derek sighs, relaxing minutely at the contact and holding on a little too tightly, his eyes not leaving Stiles’ as the silence stretches for a long moment.

 

Stiles’ thumb draws absent minded figure eights on Derek's hand, and he’s gratified when Derek lets a long blink turn into shutting his eyes, a long sigh slipping past his lips as he melts a little further into his spot, limbs going heavy as he allows the tension to leave his frame.

 

“Anything I can do?” Stiles asks, half hoping the answer involves dragging Derek to bed to hold him close as he dozes, half hoping he can stay right where he is and watch the day-- the panic, the memories, the whatever it was that made Derek hurt so deeply--fade from Derek's awareness.

 

Derek opens his eyes with some effort, the anxiety and fear of earlier having clearly left him exhausted, and a barely there smile flashes across his face; it's just a subtle lift of one corner of his mouth, but it leaves Stiles breathless just like all his smiles do. “This,” Derek answers, squeezing Stiles’ hand, moving it a little closer to himself. “This is good.” His eyes drift close again and Stiles lets himself look his fill.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, it is,” Stiles replies, pressing a dry, lingering kiss to Derek's wrist. Derek's lips curl in a brief but genuine smile at the touch.