Years from now, when asked to tell/retell the story for the 214th time at parties and family gatherings and anniversaries and even just between the two of them, late at night in the quiet and stillness of a dark bedroom, warm skin against warmer slightly sticky skin, Stiles generally starts with, “Once upon a time,” just to see Derek roll his eyes and bite back a laugh, or sometimes, when Stiles is feeling particularly contradictory, he announces, theatrically, “It was a dark and stormy night,” which pisses Derek off to no end because Derek is a stickler for even a minimum of accuracy, and it wasn’t dark or stormy at all that night. At least, not at first.
That came later.
Weather Fact #1: Not all thunderstorms are the same
“Hi,” Stiles says when Derek answers his phone on the second ring. Pretty impressive, Stiles thinks. He will have to mention this fact to Derek later because he really wasn’t expecting Derek to answer at all, to be honest, so he files this information away in his secret, mental compartment labelled Things to Tell Derek that are Nice Because He Deserves to Hear Nice Things Once in A While.
“Stiles?” says Derek. Also impressive. He recognizes Stiles’ voice over the phone immediately, even with only one word and even though they rarely speak to each other unless they’re yelling directly into each other’s faces and Stiles knows how the phone and the airwaves and all that crap can make your voice sound completely different. Not Derek’s though, of course. He sounds just as put out and grumpy and suspicious as usual. Still, Stiles’ heart skips a little just because.
“Hey. Yeah. Whatcha doin’?” Stiles says. Then he says, because he’s curious, “Do you have my number actually programmed into your phone or did you just recognize me, because I have to say—”
“Stiles?” Derek says again, louder and more aggrieved. Stiles can hear mumbling behind him and Derek covers the phone speaker and tells whoever is with him to shut up.
Stiles tries to speak as loud as he can. “Yeah. Yeah. It’s me. Just uh. Just wondering if you’re like busy. Currently.”
“Stiles. You’re supposed to be here. At the meeting. And you’re not.” Derek pauses and as Stiles takes a deep steadying breath, wondering exactly how to proceed, Derek continues, “Where are you?”
Stiles looks around. “Uh. Well. That’s the thing, I guess. I’m not sure exactly?”
“Stiles,” Derek says his name for the fourth time and it’s a lovely combination of annoyed/aggravated/pissed off but underneath it all, maybe just a tiny bit concerned, if Stiles listens really hard. “What do you mean you’re not sure? Are you lost? You sound like you’re driving. I can hear a car engine. Are you driving?”
“Well. Not technically.”
“What the hell do you mean not techn—”
“Ok listen! I’m not one to say I told you so, but I fucking told you so. All of you! Remember that woman? The one I swore was following me for weeks and everyone — including you I might add — said I was being paranoid and annoying as fuck and making shit up and no one would stalk me and blah blah. Well guess what? Turns out she was a witch and she was stalking me because she has a big old fat crush on me and I know this because she told me just before she brained me and threw me in the trunk of her car and now we’re—”
“You’re in the trunk of a car?” Derek’s voice has gotten very, very loud and even more aggravated than normal. “You’re calling me from the trunk of a witch’s car?”
“Yes. Yes I am, Derek. It’s a nice car, too. I think it’s a Mercedes. But it’s small. And cramped and dark. And I’m feeling a bit uh. Claustrophobic. And the witch apparently plans to like, I dunno, mate me or something in some weird witchy ritual. Because she has a crush. You seem to have completely glossed over that point. Of course.” Stiles stops talking and closes his eyes because he’s actually starting to feel a bit nauseous. The witch — Anna? Anya? Anais? — had hoodwinked him right outside of school after lacrosse practice when he was feeling particularly loose and easy and easy to manipulate, all those hormones and endorphins running loose — and she was so attractive and attentive and he’d known for weeks she was following him even though everyone else had pshawed him. Well fuck them! Anna/Anya/Anais had leaned in to kiss him and he’d leaned right back the fuck in thank you very much and she smelled like vanilla and musk and sea salt and gasoline and yes he liked the smell of gasoline usually, unless trapped in an unventilated car close to a gas tank, and she’d grinned with big clean straight white teeth and said oh yeah Stiles, I’ve been waiting for this and then she’d hit his head with something hard and now he was here and when he came to he was thinking fuck. Who do I call? Who do I trust? And then he was dialling Derek’s number before he could talk himself out of it because it was Derek and he kind of loved Derek even though he didn’t really know it yet. “Anyways,” Stiles says. He’s getting tired. He wonders, absently, if carbon monoxide poisoning is a thing in car trunks. He thinks it might very well be.
“Stiles—” Derek says again.
“Hey can you google something for me?” Stiles says. He can hear a lot of flurry and talking and general loud activity on the other end of the phone, but this is important. “Can you like quickly look up carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed—”
“Stiles!” Derek is shouting now and Stiles has never heard Derek say his name so many times in such a short space of time. It’s nice in an angry and frantic kind of way. “Scott is tracing your location. We’re coming to get you. I swear to god you can’t stay out of trouble for more than two days—”
“Hey!” Stiles shouts back. “I fucking told you! I told all of yous so don’t you dare throw this back on me—”
“I’m just stating plain and simple facts! You seriously can not stay out of trouble, case in point!” Derek sounds out of breath now, like he’s running, like he’s upset, and Stiles hears some muffled cursing and yelling and the roar of an engine and Scott’s voice in the background and Erica and Boyd’s, too, and he’s getting very tired and his head really hurts and he might just puke very soon and he’s so fucking mad at Derek Hale and—
“If you just listened to me for once in your stupid miserable life, all of you, I wouldn’t be in this situation and I’d be at home watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model and masturbating like I usually am at this time of day and fuck you make me so mad Derek and I’m gonna hang up—”
“Do not hang up the phone, Stiles. Do not.” He’s driving now, frantically, and Stiles can hear squealing tires and a revving engine and all, his voice low and serious in Stiles’ ear. “I’m sorry, ok? I’m sorry we — I — didn’t believe you ok? I’m sorry. But we’re coming to get you so just stay on the phone, Stiles, ok? Keep talking to me.”
“What about?” Stiles says. He’s so tired. And nauseous. And achy. And fuck Derek anyway, even if he did just apologize which is so weird.
“Anything,” Derek says under his breath, kind of desperately maybe, but Stiles hears it and at least Derek’s trying to be nice, for the time being. It’s a nice thought and a real turning point in their relationship. Maybe things are really going to change between them and wouldn’t it be nice if they were just nice to each other from now on Stiles thinks right before he passes out.
“You complete fucking idiot!”
The car’s in the ditch and Stiles has been released from the trunk and all is as right as it can be with Stiles’ fucked up world because Derek is yelling at him even as he’s like cradling him in his arms and checking him over for wounds and possible diminished brain capacity and Stiles is trying to sit up and see what’s going on because Boyd has his hands around the witch’s neck and he’s looking murderous and she’s looking at Stiles with an expression that can only be described as longing and lustful and she might whisper his name longingly and lustfully and Derek is growling deep in his throat and glaring in her direction and then she just poof vanishes. Stiles sighs a bit because no one has ever looked at him or spoken to him like that, and he’s a little sad, even though she did technically hit him really hard and kidnap him.
“Excuse me what?” Stiles yells up into Derek’s weirdly panicked distressed face. “How am I a complete—”
“How on earth did you allow yourself to be kidnapped—”
“Allow it? She’s a witch, Derek, in case you hadn’t noticed.” Stiles is twisting in Derek’s grip, which is tight to the point of discomfort. “She came on to me, ok? Excuse me for not realizing she had witchy powers but that’s the whole point of said witchy powers, I guess? To bewitch someone?”
“So what, some attractive stranger complimented you and offered to fuck you and you were just all ok? Fine? Let’s do it right here on the tarmac?”
“She didn’t offer to fuck me, jesus—” Stiles digs an elbow into Derek’s midsection, hard, and finally is able to sit up and move away. He feels suddenly stupidly ashamed. “Even if she was magical, you know what? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone might find me attractive, ok? It’s possible!”
“Stiles—” This is Erica, looking at him with an expression bordering on sympathetic but something else, too.
“Some people might think I’m attractive and want to spend time with me and do stuff with me and to me and yeah!” Stiles feels absurdly like he might cry even as Erica covers her mouth, muffling a sound that might be laughter.
“What?” Stiles and Derek both glare at her.
“Oh sweetie,” Erica says. “It’s not beyond the realm of possibility at all. Not even a tiny bit. Right everyone?” She asks the group at large but is staring directly at Derek who looks in turns horrified and humiliated.
Derek stands up then and crosses his arms and closes his eyes like he’s just so done with the entire situation and it’s all just so stupid and boring and pointless to him.
“You still should have known better,” is what he says.
Stiles hauls himself to his feet, too, ungracefully, listing a bit to the left as his head throbs and he throws his arms wide. “You’re such an asshole!” Stiles yells in Derek’s direction.
Derek shrugs like he knows and doesn’t care. “At least I’m not completely gullible.”
“Derek!” Scott hisses and Erica makes a move closer to Stiles like she wants to comfort him somehow and Boyd drags his hands down his face like he’d rather be anywhere else and Stiles curls his hands into tight fists at his sides and looks directly into Derek’s unfairly attractive face and opens his mouth to start in with yet another tirade when it starts to rain. It starts to rain a lot. In fact, it starts to fucking pour, like the previously crystal clear skies have suddenly opened up and a million tons of rain are being vomited down and it is fucking torrential. It’s raining so hard water is already pooling around their feet before they realize what’s happening and then there’s a clap of thunder so loud they all crouch and cover their ears.
“What the hell?” Scott says, attempting to peer up at the sky, which is now inky black and pelting down water so fiercely it hurts bare skin. “It was completely clear a minute ago.”
The rain is cold and hard and relentless and punishing. It soaks all of them to the skin within seconds.
“Doesn’t anyone else think this is really weird?” Scott yells against the onslaught of water, the now continuous deafening rolls of thunder that shake the trees and the ground beneath their feet as they all climb into Derek’s car and Derek swipes the windshield frantically and attempts to gun it, wheels spinning madly in mud and water as Stiles slumps and crosses his arms and glares out the backseat window at the darkness beyond. “Anyone?”
No one answers.
Stiles’ mom was obsessed with the weather. Stiles remembers The Weather Channel playing on the TV as background noise when his friends were all watching Sesame Street. He remembers her scanning the sky before a storm, standing on the front lawn in the rain, tracking tornadoes as they twisted their way across the Midwest.
He remembers her teaching him terms like absolute humidity and heat index, prevailing wind and barometric pressure. Sometimes during bad storms he’d climb into his parent’s bed in the middle of the night, squeezing close between them, hands over his ears. His dad would snore and shuffle and turn over but his mom would be wide awake and wide-eyed. Excited
“Don’t be scared, sweetie,” she’d say as Stiles pressed himself down into the mattress and closer to her solid, safe form. “It won’t hurt you.”
Stiles never fully believed her, and he never grew to love the weather like she did, but he grew to respect it, because he loved her.
Weather Fact #2: Spontaneous combustion occurs when a material generates enough heat through chemical or biological reactions to reach its ignition temperature, without being exposed to an external source of heat or fire
It’s a thing they like to do, Stiles knows, so he should be used to it by now. He is used to it, in fact and he’s seen it plenty of times so he has no idea why this time is different.
It just is.
They’re werewolves for fucks’ sake so when they shift they have a tendency to lose articles of clothing. Stiles can’t count all the times he’s seen Scott and Boyd and Isaac in various states of undress over the years and has he looked at them? Sure he has. But, just for like, comparison sake. Curiosity. Scientific reasons, nothing more. Was it different with Derek though? Maybe, if he’s being very very very honest with himself, maybe his surreptitious glances weren’t completely surreptitious and maybe his heartrate kicked up a notch — a tiny notch — when he caught glimpses of smooth chest muscles, or hairy forearms or, anything else, really, but it was nothing. Nothing.
Nothing like this.
It’s a completely normal day, nothing imminently supernatural or bloody or life-threatening on the horizon — but it’s still early — and the pack is running in the Preserve while Stiles reads on the porch enjoying the early spring sunshine and completely minding his own business. They all come bounding into the clearing in various forms of wolfiness, half-shifted and fully shifted, panting and high on adrenaline and endorphins, nipping and rolling in the front yard like the glorious animals they are while Stiles watches and smiles at their rather ridiculous beauty. He wonders, at times like this, what it would be like to be one of them, to be of them for once, to just see what it’s like, and in these moments he’s almost jealous, and he very briefly entertains the thought of one day asking one of them (Derek) to give him the bite. He looks pointedly down at his book as his face flushes and his heart pounds and he knows they hear it because they all stop suddenly as a pack and turn towards him and shift back.
“You ok, buddy?” Scott asks. Stiles looks up and dear sweet Jesus, they’re all pretty much naked, standing there, watching him, concern all over their sweaty faces.
His gaze falls on Derek. And if they thought his heart was beating fast before, well.
“Stiles?” Derek says sharply, head tilted, listening, watching. He takes a step forward, then another. “What’s wrong?”
“Uh,” is all Stiles can manage. He struggles to a full sitting position, book slipping from his fingers, forgotten, as he continues to stare right at Derek, face and body and skin feeling like they’re on fire, burning from the inside, all his organs and bones ignited and flaring right from his toes to the top of his head. He tries to swallow but his mouth and tongue and throat are now completely devoid of moisture and he can’t speak or even blink and just as he wonders if he’s having some kind of Naked-Derek-Induced stroke he sets the porch on fire.
At least he seems to, because there’s a perfect circle of flames surrounding him where he’s sitting and he can feel the heat and smell the smoke all around him and then he can hear a lot of shouting and he still can’t move and then his book ignites into a small fireball and the soles of his sneakers are starting to smoke and then he’s being roughly and unceremoniously yanked up and carried out and over the fire and down the steps and dumped on the ground.
“Jesus Christ, Stiles!” and it’s Derek yelling at him, of course, which means it was Naked Derek who picked him up which means. Oh god. Stiles groans and buries his face in his hands and wishes the hard-packed dirt beneath him would swallow him whole. “What the fuck was that?”
“What do you mean what was that? How the hell should I know?” Stiles sits and sucks in a shallow, panicked breath, and then another. He’s shaking all over. Scott and Isaac lean down and peer into his face. He hears Derek sigh behind him, then feels hands on his back, one on each shoulder blade.
“Are you…hurt?” Derek says, his voice much quieter. He must feel Stiles trembling because he presses down a bit harder, fingers curling into Stiles’ shirt. Stiles examines his hands and pats his face and checks his clothing and everything seems to be fine. Then he remembers the house. Derek’s house.
“The fire—” he says but when he looks it’s already out, extinguished, gone, nothing but a single plume of grey smoke twisting in the breeze right where Stiles had been sitting seconds before. “I don’t. I. How.”
Derek sighs again, louder, steps away, drags a hand down his face and stalks towards his house, naked, muttering under his breath loud enough for even the human to hear, “It’s always something with you.”
“It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Scott says at the lunch table, leaning forward and waving his arms. He’s still not over it. Stiles isn’t either, but he really doesn’t want to talk about it. Not now, not ever again.
“And you weren’t…burned? At all?” Allison peers at Stiles who is eating his sandwich and staring at anything that isn’t the people seated around him. He shakes his head.
“It just like, appeared! Out of nowhere! Like something out of a movie!” Scott’s voice is very loud. Stiles kind of want to tell him to shut up now. “One second he was in this bizarre staring contest with Derek and the next poof! Flames everywhere!”
“Has anything like that ever happened to you before?” Allison says.
“I’m doing some pretty in-depth research,” Stiles mutters, swallowing his sandwich with difficulty. “I’ll figure it out.”
“While you’re at it look up latent homosexuality,” Lydia says, not looking up from her book.
“Sorry what?” Stiles says, laughing a little. Scott and Allison look at him. His face feels hot. Not like About-to-Set-Something-on-Fire hot, but, still. Noticeable. He looks at Lydia, waiting.
“You heard me,” she says, placing a finger on her page and finally addressing Stiles directly. “Repressed. Emotions.” She goes back to reading. “A little self-awareness is a good thing, Stiles. You’ll thank me.”
“Cumulus,” his mom said, pointing as they drive together, even though Stiles already knew because he was smart and he remembered things because he loved her.
“They develop on clear, sunny days in late morning and disappear in the evening,” Stiles said. His mom smiled at him and touched his cheek.
Stiles learned all the clouds, the low and puffy and white Stratocumulus, Altocumulus like sheep’s wool, Nimbostratus like a thick layer of grey, and Stiles’ favourites, the Cirrus, thin and white and wispy and forecasting storms, which made him happy because it made his mom happy.
On the day of her funeral in the cemetery under a low-hanging sky, grey and dull and flat and stretching as far as he could see until it melded into the horizon, Stiles tugged on John’s hand just before they lowered the coffin and John leaned close so Stiles could point up and whisper Stratus. John nodded like he knew what Stiles was talking about and squeezed his small hand. Stiles sighed and dug one toe of his shiny dress shoe into the ground and looked down at the hole and blinked once twice, dry-eyed, before he tilted his head back instead and looked up up up.
Weather Fact #3: Fog can form suddenly and can dissipate just as rapidly. This sudden formation is known as “flash fog”
Apparently Derek dates now. This is a thing that Derek does that Stiles didn’t know about. And he only finds out about it because he happens to be at the house eating pizza with Scott and doing homework when Derek comes bounding down the steps two at a time looking. Well. Looking fucking gorgeous. He always looks attractive, always, but tonight he’s wearing tight black pants and grown-up shoes and a grey button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a belt. He’s wearing a fucking belt. And his hair is styled and he smells like sex. Or rather, someone who maybe wants to have sex at some point in the near future. Stiles goes to take a bite of pizza and misses completely.
“Where are you going?” he demands as Derek glides past them.
“Out,” is the only answer he gets. Of course. Stiles slaps his pizza down and follows him into the kitchen. Derek is pouring himself a glass of water and checking his ridiculous reflection in the microwave glass.
“Seriously?” Stiles comes up behind him and puts his hands on his hips like his dad always does when he’s interrogating him. Boyd and Erica are playing cards at the kitchen table. Erica gives a low whistle. A wolf whistle. Stiles glares.
“Looking good, Derek,” she says.
“You’re gonna get laid,” says Boyd.
“He’s gonna get what?” Stiles crosses his arms now, tight, across his chest. Derek drinks his water calmly, not a care in the world.
“Boyd,” Derek says.
“Derek’s got a hot date.”
“Derek has a hot what?” Stiles realizes his voice sounds angry but he can’t seem to stop. His voice sounds angry because he’s fucking angry.
Boyd bites back a laugh.
“Since when are you dating someone?” Stiles tells himself to shut up now but Stiles doesn’t listen.
“I’m not,” Derek says with an infuriating grin. “It’s a date. One. Singular. A first date, actually.”
“You’re going to sleep with someone on a first date?” Stiles sounds both horrified and 85 years old. Now Boyd laughs out loud but Erica makes a shushing motion and looks at Stiles with an expression he can’t decipher.
“I’m sure there won’t be any carnal activity tonight, right Derek?” Erica says loudly but Derek doesn’t bother to answer.
Stiles tries to catch Derek’s eye. “Do we get to meet her at least? I mean, with your dismal track record, you’re bringing her back here for Pack approval, right?”
Derek shoots him a withering glance. “Who said it was a her?” he says as he walks away. “Oh, and you’ve got sauce on your face.”
Stiles just stands there, mouth open, pizza sauce smeared on one cheek, fists clenched, heart pounding, sweat forming along his hairline. He hears the front door open and slam shut. He looks at Erica and Boyd who are looking right back at him. Boyd is grinning and Erica is not and Stiles turns and walks out the front door, out to the porch, listens to the Camaro roar to life, taillights winking mockingly before speeding away and Stiles feels like puking on the porch, right where the fire was a week ago.
“I don’t believe him!” he says. He looks up into the clear night sky, at the moon and the cold yellow stars and blinks furiously. There’s a hand on his arm and Erica beside him. “Can you believe him?” he says.
“Oh, Stiles,” she says.
“Where did he even meet this guy? I mean, with Derek’s dating history don’t you think it’s wise that we at least meet him first? Make sure he’s not some warlock or enchanted troll or soul sucking incubus?”
“I think he met him online,” says Scott who has appeared with a slice of pizza in each hand. He seems completely untroubled by this turn of events.
“Even worse!” Stiles says. He swallows and blinks some more. “People are always deceptive on online dating sites. He can’t be that stupid, can he?”
“Probably.” Scott looks at him. “Why do you care?”
Erica pats Stiles’ arm and sighs.
“Pack safety, Scott,” Stiles snaps. “I would think you’d be a little more concerned as well.”
Scott shrugs. “Derek’s a big boy. He can handle one date.”
“I think he’s pretty much proven that he can not,” Stiles mutters. Erica squeezes his arm and pulls him back inside.
“Come on, sweetie,” she says. “You and Scott can play Poker with me and Boyd. It’ll take your mind off things.”
“Off what things?” Scott asks.
They’ve managed one hand before they hear the rumble of the Camaro back in the front yard and the slam of a door and heavy steps on the stairs. It’s been exactly 20 minutes since Derek left by Stiles’ careful calculation and he spins in his chair when Derek walks into the kitchen, pecking at his phone.
“What happened?” says Erica. “Everything ok?”
“No,” says Derek. Peck peck peck. “I had to turn back.”
“Fog,” Derek says. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Just appeared when I got about 50 feet down the road. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. Thought I was going to run off the road.”
“So you had to cancel?” says Boyd.
“Postponed,” says Derek, putting his phone down with a sigh. “Timothy says he understands but there’s absolutely no fog where he is and it’s only 15 minutes from here. It’s so bizarre.”
“Timothy,” Stiles snorts and rolls his eyes. Derek glares at him.
“What, exactly, is your problem?” he says.
“No problem here,” says Stiles. “But I’m just saying it was a perfectly clear night when you left and then suddenly killer fog rolls in.”
Stiles shrugs. “I guess even Mother Nature thinks Derek Hale dating is a really bad idea.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say and that’s something coming from you.”
“Well, maybe Timothy will think you’re faking the whole thing anyway.”
“Why would I lie about fog to get out of a first date?” Derek says. “But I guess for someone who doesn’t date at all ever it makes perfect—”
“Uh guys—” Erica says.
Stiles flattens his hands on the table. “I could get a date any time I wanted.”
“Ah right,” Derek nods. “The witch. The one with the crush and the fondness for head wounds.”
“Hey, she hurt me—”
“Why is this any of your business anyways?” Derek practically yells and Stiles’ mouth snaps shut, jaw muscles flexing. “What does it matter to you if I do or don’t date or who it’s with or anything to do with my personal, private life? Why do you care Stiles?”
“Then butt out!”
Scott looks slowly between Derek and Stiles, Stiles and Derek, a strange expression on his face. Stiles doesn’t like it. At all. Finally he just stares at Stiles, mouth slightly open.
“I’m going to bed.” Derek grabs his phone and stomps from the room. Stiles can feel Scott’s curious, knowing gaze on the side of his face.
“What?” he snaps. “Spit it out.”
“This is like the third time some weird weather type thing has happened when you’ve been…uh…emotionally affected by Derek.”
“Emotionally affected?” Stiles starts laughing. He has a hard time stopping. “Derek Hale does not emotionally affect me in any way. In fact, Derek Hale is a great big stupid—”
His grand and eloquent speech is rudely interrupted by the sound of a thousand gunshots. On the roof. They all startle and cower and look up at the same time and Boyd is half wolfed-out before he even realizes it. The noise continues, pops and bangs, hard and fast and unrelenting. Erica goes to the kitchen window and peers out.
“What the—” Then she’s running to the front door and everyone follows her on to the porch where they stand and watch wide-eyed and unbelieving.
There are thousands of them, small and white and round like marbles, falling from the sky, pelting the roof, shredding leaves off the trees, slamming into Derek’s fucking car. Stiles hopes there’s dents. Lots of them.
“What the fuck?” Derek has joined them, of course. He’s standing beside Stiles, so close Stiles can smell him, all of them huddled on the porch, staring out into the night. There’s no more fog but there’s—
“Hail,” says Erica. “Yeah. It’s hail.” She bursts into rather hysterical laughter. "How fitting.
“Hail,” Scott says. He looks pointedly at Stiles again. Everyone is looking at Stiles now, including Derek, expression unreadable.
“So?” Stiles’ face is burning he knows.
“I think,” he says. He pauses again, bites the inside of his cheek, twists his lips as if greatly debating what he’s about to say. “I think it’s time for us to visit Deaton.”
Deaton seems as unfazed as ever.
Scott has arranged the meeting and for some reason invited Allison and Lydia along for ringside seats. Stiles sits on an examination table, arms crossed, rigid and angry. He debated not even showing up, but Scott ambushed him at his locker as he’d tried to sneak out for lunch and physically manhandled him into the Jeep. The indignity.
“We’ve known for a while that you have…some magic in you, yes?” Deaton says carefully.
Stiles looks up. “We have?”
“Well yes,” Deaton says, tilting his head. “A spark, an intention, something lying mostly dormant waiting to be used when you’re ready to learn how.”
“I’m not doing any of this on purpose,” Stiles says. “I mean, I’m not doing any of it! Everyone is convinced this has something to do with me and it doesn’t.”
Scott sends him a withering look. “Stiles. Come on, dude. You can’t be that oblivious.”
“Oh I most certainly can,” Stiles snaps ignoring the looks between Allison and Lydia.
“These…incidents,” Deaton tries again. “You say they’ve all occurred in the presence of—”
“No! No they have not,” Stiles slides off the table and moves to bolt from the room but Scott grabs one of his arms in a grip tight enough to hurt.
“Yes, all the ones I’ve witnessed at least,” Scott, the traitor, says.
“Have you experienced any others?” Deaton says to Stiles.
“What do you mean?” Stiles knows what he means.
“Have you made any crazy weather shit happen when Derek hasn’t been around is what he’s trying to say,” says Lydia with this stupid smile on her face.
Stiles presses his lips together and curls his hands at his sides. He considers lying. Except there’s Scott. He shakes his head.
No one speaks because really, what is there to say?
“Ok,” Deaton expels a breath. “In my professional opinion, I think what we’re seeing here is the result of some pretty big repressed emotions.”
Lydia snorts. Allison elbows her.
“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Stiles says. He glares at each of his “friends” in turn, daring them to say something. No one does.
“Magic is closely tied to feelings,” Deaton goes on, ignoring Stiles’ flushed and sweaty face. “If you’re not fully in charge of either of those things, the results can be rather…unpredictable.”
“This is fucking ridiculous,” Stiles yells and because he’s frustrated and fed up and feeling particularly petulant, he actually stomps his foot. He stomps his foot to get his overwhelming sense of frustration across to the ridiculous people in this room and he apparently sets off an earthquake. A small one, but still enough to make the room shift and sways, and bodies tumble and bottles fall and there are some startled shrieks.
“Stiles!” Scott yells. “Fuck! Make it stop!”
It stops. They all look at him with expressions that range from incredulous to amused to furious.
“Ok, well, where’s Derek now, huh?” Stiles swings his arms wide at the broken bottles and bruised bodies. “Where is he if this is all about him, huh?”
Scott rolls his eyes. “Were you thinking about him?”
“No.” Yes. Pretty much all the time, lately. Fuck.
“Stiles,” Allison begins. She’s rubbing her tender shoulder and smiling tentatively.
“What she’s trying to say, what everyone is trying to say is that you’re an idiot,” Lydia says. “Remember what I said? Did you ever look it up? Lat—”
“Ok.” Stiles snaps. He closes his eyes, heaves a sigh. “Maybe there’s a small … problem.”
Deaton smiles. Stiles supposes it’s meant to look sympathetic but it more resembles pity.
“Maybe,” Deaton says. He pauses. “I’m sure with time and some practice and some…pretty big self-awareness…you can learn to use that power to affect practical, helpful change instead of…meteorological conditions.”
But he doesn’t sound entirely convinced.
His mom introduced him to the concept of storm chasers when he was six. Stiles was equal parts horrified and mesmerized as they watched men and women drive big vans equipped with satellite dishes and radar and dials and gauges across flat, open plains while dark funnel clouds formed and danced on the not too distant horizon. Stiles could feel their exhilaration and joy through the TV screen as they whooped and hollered, driving right into the heart of it while everyone else sped as far away as possible.
“Are they crazy?” Stiles asked his mom, touching her face when she didn’t look away, not even for a second.
“Do you think they are?” she asked. She was smiling so big because she wasn’t sick yet and she was happy so Stiles was happy too.
Stiles turned back to the TV and settled in closer to her side. “I’d do it,” he says. “If you came with me.”
He felt her lips against the top of his head and the smile there, too. “Deal,” she said.
Outside, it started to rain.
Weather Fact #4: On Jan. 11, 1911, in Rapid City, South Dakota, the temperature dropped from 55F to 8F in 15 minutes, holding the record for the fastest cold snap in history
The front door bursts open with a bang like an explosion at 8:14 on a Thursday night, chunks of wood and splinters flying everywhere. Stiles sighs. It had been a pretty good day up until then, free from hurricanes and flash floods or volcanic eruptions. Everyone is up and ready, claws and fangs and growls, the whole lot. Stiles puts his head in his hands for a brief moment, wondering if this means he won’t get his calculus done on time.
“Hey, Stiles?” Scott says, nudging his foot.
Stiles looks up. “What?”
“Your girlfriend is back.”
And there she is in all her glorious glory, framed in the now obliterated doorway, just as beautiful as Stiles remembered, all dark flowing hair and green eyes and white-toothed smile except she’s not smiling right now. In fact, she looks absolutely fucking murderous.
Stiles leaps to his feet. “Oh hey. Hi there uh. Annayais—”
“My name’s Barbara,” she hisses, moving into the room. All the werewolves growl in tandem. Derek even leans forward with a snapping motion.
“It is?” Stiles says. “Huh. I could have sworn—”
“Typical,” Barbara says, gaze locked on Stiles. “I should have known better than to waste my time on a pathetic human who doesn’t appreciate or deserve my attention.”
“Hey!” That one hurts. “I was good enough for you when you were throwing me into the back of your luxury sedan.”
“That was before I realized your affection lay…elsewhere.” She takes another step. More growls more snapping. “It’s a pity, really. We could have been so good together.”
“Uh,” says Stiles. “I guess? Except for the part where you scare the shit out of me.”
“What do you want?” Derek has moved closer still. Barbara seems unaffected, her laser eyes on Stiles, no longer lustful or longing in the least and Stiles is starting to wonder what he ever saw in her, really.
“I just came to see for myself,” she says, finally looking directly at Derek.
“See what?” says Stiles.
“Who you chose over me.” Then she smiles, kind of, and then she raises one hand, almost lazily, and sends a bolt of red in Derek’s direction, right at his chest, before anyone can make a move, and Derek is slammed back against the wall and Barbara looks at Stiles once more and blows a kiss and is gone. Again.
And Derek is lying prone and still, de-wolfed, head at an odd angle, pale and unmoving and there’s a lot of flurry and yelling and Stiles shoves everyone out of the way to get to him, kneeling at his side, hands fluttering over his body, his face. And he’s yelling his name and doesn’t have a clue what Barbara did or how he can fix it.
“You have quite the effect on people,” Erica mutters and Stiles ignores her, hands finally landing on Derek’s chest, waiting desperately to feel it rise and fall. He can feel it, so very faintly beneath his palms, but it’s there along with the tiny, delicate bird-beat of his heart.
“Oh god oh god oh god,” Stiles says as he presses into the sides of Derek’s neck, the fluttery pulse points at his wrists. There must be something something he can do. He has to do something. It’s all his fault anyway, isn’t it? He has to concentrate. He has to. He can do something. He can take his power, his spark, whatever the fuck it is and do this, he can fix this, he knows he can.
“Stiles, what are you doing? Do you even know?” Erica’s voice is cracked and frantic because Derek is still not waking up and Stiles is at a loss. He presses at Derek’s chest again, feeling the heart, feeling the witch’s magic thrumming there, below the skin, down in Derek’s bones. He closes his eyes and sucks in a breath and focuses. And everyone waits.
And he can feel something, deep down, something, faint but tingling, something waiting, sitting up, unfurling, waking up, and he presses down harder, still breathing shallow painful breaths and he thinks about Derek and how he feels about him and how he thinks he’s smart and kind and does his best even when he epically fails over and over he never gives up and how he looks at Stiles and how he yells at Stiles and how Stiles’ heart ratchets up every time he’s around and how he wants to kiss him all over and drag him into his bed and put his mouth on every part of his body and god please Derek wake up wake up be ok wake up—
“Is it…getting cold in here?” Erica says, looking around.
Stiles keeps touching Derek all over, trying to find a wound, a mark, anything. What did she do to him?
“It is. It’s getting very cold,” Boyd says, his words pushing out large clouds of white. Condensation Stiles thinks crazily, laughing a bit. When you exhale when it’s cold outside, the water vapour in your breath condenses into lots of tiny droplets of liquid water— Except they’re not outside, are they? They’re inside and it’s fucking freezing and—
“Stiles!” Scott claps his hands together briskly then rubs them against his thighs. “Concentrate!”
There’s a creaking and a splitting in the walls.
“Derek!” Stiles yells. He pushes down harder on his chest, focuses harder.
Something is happening in the walls as it grows colder and colder and everyone is looking at Derek and Stiles and the walls at the same time.
“What’s happening?” Erica, nose running, hands shoved into her armpits.
It’s so cold now they’re all shivering, teeth chattering. Erica’s lips are blue and Scott’s eyelashes have tiny white crystals on the tips.
As Stiles places his hands down, palms flat on Derek’s chest, near his heart, he closes his eyes and concentrates. There’s one final screeching blast behind the wall, something pulling and popping, and water is spraying, pouring out from behind the drywall, down the wall and across the floor. Derek’s eyes flutter open and he takes a huge, sucking breath and the cold snap breaks, just like that, heat flooding into the space as fast as the water.
Stiles opens his eyes and looks like he might start crying.
“Oh god,” he says. “Derek.” He sits back, weak, exhausted, shaking but Derek is awake and breathing and alive and struggling to sit up a bit. Water continues to flow down the wall, across the floor, puddling beneath them all. Derek looks around, looks at his pack, looks at the water, looks at Stiles.
“You burst my fucking pipes?”
Just before she went into the hospital for what turned out to be the last time, they sat together on the porch, Stiles in her lap even though he was too big and she was too weak, and they watched the clouds gathering on the horizon, dark, heavy, oppressive. Stiles had never seen anything so beautiful.
“Cumulonimbus,” he whispered.
His mom nodded.
“Storm’s coming,” he said. “It’s going to be a doozy.” Stiles pressed his forehead into the side of her neck. He could feel her breath on his cheek, felt her hands, thin and cold and white as bird bones, tighten around his middle.
“It is.” She smiled into the top of his head. “And someday, when you’re older, we’ll chase all of them together.”
Weather Fact #5: Thundersnow lightning, while rare, possesses positive-polarity, and is associated with a greater destructive potential than the common negatively-charged lightning
“What are you doing here, Derek,” Stiles says, not lifting his face from the pillow so his voice is muffled and quiet. Derek hears him anyway, of course. Stiles feels the bed sink slightly and Stiles moves as far away as possible from Derek’s warmth and smell and his everything. “Shouldn’t you be at home with your new best friend the plumber?”
“Stiles,” Derek says and he sounds equal parts resigned and contrite but still a little bit mad.
“Do you have to get the floor redone…again? I know the wall will have to be ripped down and new drywall put up, and the pipes fixed, and I don’t have a lot of money at the moment, but maybe I can pay you in installments—”
“Stop it,” Derek snaps. Then he sighs. “It’s fine. Really. Don’t worry about the stupid water damage. I was. A bit overwhelmed. In the moment.” It’s quiet. “Thank you. For what you did.”
Stiles just shrugs. “Whatever dude. Fucking Barbara, right? I sure know how to pick ‘em. And as Erica so aptly pointed out, I have quite the effect on people.”
“Yeah. You do.”
Stiles doesn’t bother to reply to that.
“Listen.” Derek clears his throat and Stiles prepares himself for the worst. “I uh. I talked to Scott. And Deaton.”
“Oh my god.” Stiles pushes his face harder into his pillow. He can barely breathe. “Ok, got it, thanks for the update and that’s pretty much enough embarrasm—”
“Stiles,” Derek talks over him and at the same time puts a large, warm hand on his back. “Can you. Just. Stiles. Can you just like, look at me?” He pauses. “Please.”
It’s the please that does it. Stiles expels a long breath and shuffles over onto his side with great reluctance to find Derek perched on the edge of his bed watching him with an expression that Stiles has never seen before. It’s not angry or frustrated or furious or antagonistic or basically upset in any way. Stiles doesn’t really know what to name this particular expression except that he likes it. He thinks.
“Why are you embarrassed?” Derek asks in a quiet voice.
“Oh gee, Derek. I don’t know.” Stiles manages to cross his arms and roll his eyes at the same time all while throwing his head back to avoid direct eye contact. “Maybe it has something to do with me setting off a variety of bizarre weather-related incidents that stemmed, so I’ve been informed by numerous people, directly from my super repressed slightly magical and highly unrequited feelings for you and—”
Derek frowns. “Wait. Who said they were unrequited?”
Stiles stops. “What?”
Derek frowns harder. “Who the hell said your feelings were unrequited? Did Scott tell you that? Or fucking Deaton?” He looks mad now, more like he usually does and Stiles sighs. This is familiar territory at least.
“No one had to tell me, Derek, ok?” He presses the heels of his hands into his eyes, hard. “I mean, I’m not blind, ok, or deaf, haha, and you’ve been pretty loudly vocal about how you have absolutely no warm and fuzzy feel—”
Derek kisses him. It’s a bit clumsy and it misses the mark because Stiles’ hands are still partly covering his face, but the intention is clear. Derek kisses him, or tries to, right on the mouth. Stiles freezes. He waits a full three seconds before he pulls his hands away and looks at Derek. Derek is looking right back, resolute, not embarrassed in the least, but when he swallows his throat works extra hard.
“What.” Stiles licks his lips. He licks his lips which had just been touched by Derek’s lips and his hearts stutters. “What was that.”
“Requited feelings,” Derek says, fingers twitching on his thighs. “That’s what that was. Very. Requited. Feelings. Of the warm and fuzzy kind even, though you’re not allowed to repeat that. To anyone. Ever.”
“Really?” Stiles sits up on his elbows and stares at Derek.
“Really.” Derek stares right back.
Then they’re kissing for real, Derek leaning down and Stiles leaning up and Derek’s big, warm hands cupping Stiles’ face, sliding into his hair and then down his neck to his shoulders, gripping so tight it almost hurts. There’s a roaring in Stiles’ ears and a blinding white light behind his eyelids as he nips and licks and sucks at Derek’s mouth, trying to balance his weight against Derek and still get at least one hand on him at the same time. Derek pulls back and he’s panting. Derek is panting because he’s been kissing Stiles and Stiles is grinning because he’s made Derek pant and both of them have wet lips and wide eyes and Stiles’ brain is kind of fizzling out as he watches Derek try to catch his breath and adjust himself in his jeans. When he dives back in again Stiles is ready for him, pulling him down hard on top of him, hands sliding around his broad back and up under his jacket and shirt. The skin of Derek’s back is incredibly warm and smoothly muscled and Stiles just runs his palms up and down up and down, pulling Derek against him and tight as he can and then he realizes he wants more more so he asks, because he can do that now, apparently.
“Take these off,” he says against Derek’s moving mouth, tugging at Derek’s clothes. Derek sits a bit, manages to yank off the jacket and the shirt, then pulls up Stiles’ shirt, too, up over his head and arms before falling back down and oh god, it’s skin against skin and Stiles brain does a full fizzle pop because it’s a whole lot of Derek to process at once.
Then Derek is pulling back again, looking around, looking up, looking right at Stiles.
“What?” Stiles asks, heart going a million miles an hour, fingers tucked into the waistband of Derek’s jeans right against the gentle swell of his ass. What now?
“It’s snowing, Stiles,” says Derek.
Stiles looks up. He nods. “Yeah. Yeah it is.”
Derek looks at him. “It’s snowing, Stiles. In your bedroom.”
The snow, fine and light, falls from somewhere in the ceiling vicinity, light as air, on Stiles floor and piles of clothes, on his desk and books, shelves and papers. And it falls on them, cold on their heated skin, melting immediately and leaving tiny drops of water behind. Derek keeps watching, mesmerized, as the snow keeps falling, a fine dusting on the floor, the bed, in Stiles’ hair and caught on the tips of his eyelashes. He leans down and licks Stiles’ nose, kisses his left eyelid. He starts laughing.
“I can’t believe this. This is.”
Stiles sighs. “Weird. I know.”
Derek shakes his head. “Amazing.”
As Derek slides into him, sleek and slow and hot, breath hot in his ear and Stiles’ blunt, bitten fingernails digging into his back, damp skin sliding together and Derek’s teeth on his collarbone and Stiles’ leg slung up over Derek’s waist, both of them trembling and gasping and moving and writhing, and when Stiles comes joltingly with a barely repressed groan a gigantic bolt of lightning appears outside Stiles’ window, a blinding flash followed by an ear-shattering explosion. Stiles is pretty sure the tree on the front lawn has been struck and possibly blown to smithereens.
But Derek is still moving over him and in him and snow is falling on them and the outside world can burn for all Stiles cares.
A minute later he gets a text from Scott.
Did you hear that???
When Stiles catches his breath and his hands stop shaking, he taps out a reply.
Stiles. Was that your doing?
Is Derek with you right now?
Did you happen to…fix things by any chance?
He looks at Derek. “Did we?”
Derek kisses him, soft and sweet and slow and Stiles brushes snow from his hair and kisses him right back.
“What?” Stiles lifts his head a bit from Derek’s chest.
“Snow. Why was it snowing? Why snow?” Derek clears his throat. “With us?”
Stiles feels his cheeks flush. He lays his head back down and closes his eyes.
“I never really got to see it much growing up. It was. Rare.” He smiles. “So when I did see it, it was special. It was my favourite.” He pauses. “I loved it best.”
Random Weather Fact: A break through is when the sun breaks through the clouds, appearing from behind them, not to be confused with breakthrough, an act or instance of moving through or beyond an obstacle
Years and years from now, when they’re both old, on the rare days when their children and grandchildren aren’t visiting, they like to sit on their front porch together, holding hands, watching the snow and the rain and hail and wind. Derek has learned the names for all the clouds, has memorized all the weather terms because it makes Stiles happy and he loves Stiles, has loved him for a long time.
“Storm’s coming,” Stiles says, squeezing Derek’s fingers. It’s a hot and humid August afternoon, not a whisper of a breeze, everything still and quiet. Derek scans the sky, the horizon, like Stiles has taught him, but sees nothing out of the ordinary.
“Really?” He looks at Stiles, at his beautiful face, his smile that’s just for him, and squeezes back. “I don’t see anything.”
“I can feel it in my bones,” Stiles says, laughing a little, and it’s true. Stiles has always been able to tell, somehow, and Derek has never doubted him, not once. If Stiles says a storm is coming, it is, it’s coming and they’ll sit together on their porch and watch it whip and wail while they talk about the present (Chicken for dinner? Yes, I think so), and the future (Shopping tomorrow, kids are coming Saturday for barbecue), and the past too, of course, all the people they’ve loved and who have left them. When the storm reaches its peak Stiles will talk about his mom, like he always does, about the promises they made one another a long time ago and how some things don’t work out, but other things, wonderful, incredible things that steal your breath and make your heart stutter, do. And it’s ok, he’ll tell Derek, when Derek holds him and comforts him when Stiles cries sometimes, even now, after all this time.
It’s ok, because even if it didn’t work out, he knows he knows he and Derek and his mom would have made glorious storm chasers.