“I know what you’re feeling,” Derek unexpectedly says one day. He’s just slipped through Stiles’ bedroom window like he does any old day, tossing his leather jacket onto the back of the chair by his closet, slipping off his boots and reclining on his bed. This isn’t a new phenomenon, and Stiles goes back to his homework after a short look.
Rather, he goes back to staring at his textbook, not comprehending any part of it. Not making any progress, even though when he’s done with physics he has calculus to do, then some reading for English – god, Stiles can’t wait until he’s done with high school. Two more months, he tells himself.
“What?” he asks Derek now, spinning around in his desk chair to see the man watching him, face neutral. His own eyebrows go down, trying to understand what Derek’s trying to say and coming up with nothing.
“I know what you’re feeling,” Derek repeats, “The…emptiness, the uncertainty that you’re in control of yourself, the feeling of not worrying about death. Not being suicidal, just…if you died, you’d be okay with it.”
“You have no idea what I’m feeling,” Stiles shoots back fiercely, though he’s shaking with the fact that Derek pretty much hit the nail on the head. God, he knows he’s bad at hiding things, but he just doesn’t want to talk about it. He just wants to…be. For a while, just be, not have any responsibilities or have to do anything, just wants to pile under a million blankets on his bed and watch mindless TV and ignore everything.
“My entire family died,” Derek softly reminds him, and it is soft the way Derek says it.
“I’m not saying you don’t know something similar, but…I just feel like any moment I could lash out again and not even know it, not even remember it. Sometimes I zone out and I’m always worried that I’m off killing people again.”
“You have no idea what being a werewolf is like,” Derek says, and his eyes shift down so he’s staring at the floor by the door into the hallway, remembering, “Especially as a teenager. Especially after killing someone.”
He makes the face he always does when remembering – yeah, all that. Stiles knows the look too well, now, and he knows he can’t stop Derek from thinking about it but wishes he could do something to ease the pain. He knows Derek thinks Paige’s death was his fault, and no amount of telling him it wasn’t will convince him. Stiles licks his lips, and Derek’s eyes find their way to his face again.
“I know what you’re feeling. I really do.”
Stiles shakes his head, looking up at the ceiling, blinks against the pricks behind his eyes.
“And how do you deal with it?”
“Well, don’t do what I did after…when we moved to New York,” he scoffs, and Stiles meets his eyes, making a face that clearly means he’s asking what exactly that was. Derek huffs, shakes his head.
“Drank too much, went out too much, fucked too many people.”
Stiles raises his left eyebrow.
“Don’t do that,” Derek clarifies, then shrugs.
“You’ve got a good support system, Stiles. It’s okay to reach out to them sometimes, and. I’m included in that.”
“I am,” he confirms, “If you ever need to talk, or just need to cry on my shoulder – ”
“You want me to cry on your shoulder?” Stiles asks, because that’s first of all not something he’d ever imagine Derek offering, and not something he can currently imagine taking Derek up on, but the man in question shrugs again.
“If that makes you feel better. Or – you’re still having nightmares?” He waits until Stiles’ nodded, reluctantly, “Well. If you ever want to stay over at my place, you can. I know it helps to have someone there and your dad works sometimes. And I can – I mean, I’m a ‘wolf, maybe it’ll help to know you’ve got someone who can protect you watching over."
“You want me to sleep on your couch when I’m having nightmares?” Stiles feels the need to make that clear.
“No, you can have the bed, I’ll take the couch.” Pause. “Closer to the door anyway.”
They stare at each other for a few moments before Stiles speaks up again.
“You mean it.” He’s not surprised, per se, it’s not even unexpected because Derek’s a good person, even if he was a major asshole when they first met, but it’s also maybe hard for Stiles to believe all of this is coming from the same man who once threatened to rip his throat out.
“I mean it,” Derek replies, “You’re pack, Stiles, I care about you. And maybe you don’t take me up on any of this – up to you, honestly. But I know you need to talk to someone, to lean on someone, or you’re going to go insane.”
“Too late,” Stiles jokes, and after a moment of watching him Derek seems to catch on, shaking his head.
“You’ve been through a lot for an eighteen-year-old, okay? But I know what it’s like to be there, and I just…want you to be okay, at the end of this. I got lucky, gaining the pack that I have now, with the people I’ve got here, and I want you to recognize that you’ve got so many people that care about you and it might take a while, but eventually you’ll be okay, too.”
After a near minute of silence, Stiles a little stunned and also maybe more emotional than he’s been in weeks, Derek gets up from his bed, starts stuffing his feet in his boots again, and grabs his jacket from the back of the chair, sliding it on as he faces Stiles.
“Just…lemme know if there’s anything I can do for you, ever, okay? Anytime. I can be here in five minutes.”
Stiles watches as he heads back for the window, climbing up on the ledge, and then his voice comes back to him.
Derek pauses, looks over his shoulder with a genuine and brilliant smile.
“I mean it. Anytime.”
And he jumps down, the low thud as he hits the ground. Stiles gulps, listening carefully but he doesn’t hear him running off, ‘wolves too good at being quiet. His eyelids are wet, not quite crying but on the verge, and he swallows again, pushing against the knot in his throat.
He turns back to try to work on his physics, again, mind now distracted for an entirely different reason.