Stiles had thought that eventually Derek would contribute to this relationship. But Derek did the barest minimum he needed to make sure that Stiles wouldn’t walk out and apart from that he was almost hastily agreeing to everything Stiles wanted and asked of him.
Stiles had accepted it for the first month, thinking that with the kind of bad experience Derek had made it was to be expected, but after that it simply didn’t stop.
And Stiles was getting tired of it.
“Derek, we have to talk,” Stiles called out one evening, damn well knowing what it sounded like, but hoping it would spark some passion from Derek.
But Derek only blanched, squared his shoulders and then stiffly walked over to the couch, sitting down and simply looking at Stiles, waiting for him to speak.
“This has to stop,” Stiles started, and Derek nodded, like he agreed with what Stiles said. “You have to stop being passive in this relationship.”
That, finally, got a real reaction out of Derek. But it wasn’t the one Stiles had expected, because it almost seemed like Derek seemed relieved.
“Derek if you don’t want this relationship, you just have to say that,” Stiles said, even though he was hurt, so damn hurt by that.
“No, I—,” Derek started, but he couldn’t seem to finish his sentence.
But Stiles had learned to wait him out, wait until Derek was ready to talk, and so he just sat there, in silence, until Derek had sorted out his words.
“I expected this to happen eventually,” Derek finally said, voice low and eyes glued to his hands. “It’s not like you would want to stay.”
Stiles swallowed down the first response he had to that and took a deep, steadying breath.
“Why wouldn’t I want to stay?” Stiles asked Derek, who looked pained for a moment before he slumped against the couch cushions.
“You’re a good thing,” Derek mumbled. “And good things never stay for me.”
For this, Stiles gave in to his first response. He leaned into Derek, nosing at his cheek and peppering it with kisses for good measure.
“I’m a good thing?” Stiles muttered, and Derek clutched at his hips with a grip that was almost painful.
“You’re the best thing,” he agreed. “And you’re going to leave me, like you should.”
Stiles slumped against Derek, wrapping his arms around Derek’s middle and snuggling in.
“Is that the reason you closed yourself off like that? Why you never did anything out of your own will?” Stiles wanted to know, and he felt Derek nod against his head.
“You do realize that that is some self-fulfilling prophecy bullshit, right?”
Derek made an inquiring noise about that and Stiles pulled slightly back to look him in the eye.
“You think I’m going to leave you eventually, so you don’t try to make it work, try to not get invested because for you the outcome is inevitable. But because you’re putting no effort into this relationship, I thought you might not want this, and thought about breaking up with you. See how this works out?”
“Kinda,” Derek admitted, and Stiles sighed, before he snuggled in again.
“I’m not going to leave you. I love you.”
“You shouldn’t,” Derek whispered back.
“Yeah, well, that sucks for you, because I do anyway.”
Derek chuckled at that before he mumbled into Stiles hair: “Really doesn’t suck for me at all.”
Stiles had to agree, because it didn’t suck for either of them.
After that, things changed. Derek started to contribute more to the relationship, weighing in with his own want and wishes, not blindly doing whatever it was Stiles suggested.
And Stiles had found his calling. It was aggressively bullying Derek into enjoying small things just for himself.
Because Derek’s revelation had finally connected some dots in Stiles’ head. The loft was bare because Derek thought he would have to run at any given moment. He didn’t own soft comfortable clothes, because he thought they wouldn’t hold up during a fight. Derek didn’t interact with the pack beyond training because he thought they would all die soon.
It was horrible and so incredibly sad, but it also made a whole lot of sense. Stiles was not going to allow this any longer.
He started small. Stiles bought a cactus, because he figured it was something even Derek couldn’t kill. He placed a little figurine on the table with the TV, just a splash of colour in the rest of the barren loft. He bought one light-grey pillow, because he didn’t want to overwhelm Derek with colour right away. It was a work in progress.
In their relationship, Stiles encouraged Derek to ask for things. It seemed like a small thing at first, but once Stiles gave it some thought, Derek had just always agreed to whatever Stiles wanted and he never had said anything about his own preferences.
That couldn’t go on anymore.
When they made plans, Stiles didn’t present finished ones to him, but he inquired about Derek’s ideas.
“What do you want to do tonight?” Stiles asked him, like every night since that talk and like every time, Derek rolled his eyes.
“I want you to stop doing this,” he snapped back, but Stiles didn’t need to be a werewolf to hear the lie.
“Try again,” he easily gave back, not ruffled by the brisk tone.
Derek heaved a big sigh, like this was the damn worst thing ever, before he visibly gave in.
“I want to stay home,” he said, almost petulantly and Stiles smiled encouragingly at him.
“And?” he prompted when Derek continued to glare at him.
“And I want to watch the new Tom Hardy movie, and cuddle with you, and I want you to never leave, and also we need a rug.”
Stiles laughed out loud at that, the last part catching him totally off guard, and Derek smiled carefully at him.
“Done, done, definitely done and we’ll go shopping tomorrow,” Stiles said once he got his breath back.
“You can’t just say that,” Derek breathed out, staring wide-eyed at Stiles who easily shrugged.
He knew what Derek was referring to, but his answer had been the truth. If Derek didn’t want him to leave, ever, then Stiles wouldn’t. He knew that this was it for him, Derek was everything he could ever want, with strange fears and broken as he was, and Stiles would never shy away from that.
“I can if it’s the truth.”
Derek regarded him carefully, for a long time, before he nodded once.
“Okay,” he agreed. “Forever, then,” and he sounded sure about that, but Stiles could see how another tiny bit of his never-ending worry left him.
“Forever,” Stiles agreed as well, and snuggled right into Derek’s side, because cuddles had been on that list as well.
After that, Derek practically bloomed under Stiles care. He picked out furniture and decorations and called the pack just because he could, indulged in the softest shirts and sweatpants he could find, and Stiles watched him with so much pride, it threatened to choke him sometimes.
The one thing that didn’t change, not ever, not even after years and years of them being a them, a we, an us, was the careful way Derek touched Stiles.
Like he was the most precious person in the world, and Derek was still in awe over the fact that he got to have this, him, at the tips of his fingers, always.
Stiles didn’t mind that much. He knew how that felt, every time he looked at Derek after all.