Stiles' alarm clock had been ringing for approximately one minute and thirty two seconds. He stared at the offending object until his father lightly tapped on the door. Noah had been worried about his son for a while now. He knew something was wrong but he didn't want to intrude in Stiles' personal space. He would come to him when he was ready. The father and son had never had a very sentimental relationship. Well, they had. But that was before Claudia, their beloved wife and mother, had died.
"Do you want to stay in today?" Noah asked softly. This day was a particularly hard day for Stiles. For the both of them. It was the anniversary of Claudia's death. "I could call in sick," he continued.
Stiles sat up and took a sip of water from the bottle on his bedside table before looking up at his father with a grin which didn't reach his eyes. "Dad, you're the Sheriff! You can't miss work and for that matter, you shouldn't be telling me to skip school! Do you want me to raise my children like that? Letting them skive off whenever they want to? You're a bad example dad. Very bad."
Noah chuckled but the worry he was feeling earlier still gnawed at the back of his mind. Stiles may be as witty and sarcastic as ever, but there was still something off about him.
"Alright. But if you don't feel good during the day, I'm only a phone call away. You know that."
"I know dad. You tell me that at least five times a week." Stiles rolled his eyes but a fond smile played at his lips.
Noah approached Stiles and ran a hand through his son's hair. "I just worry about you. You fight werewolves and other scary stuff everyday. I never know if the next time I see you you'll be in hospital, burnt to a crisp by a dragon."
"A dragon? That's going a bit far now, isn't it?" Stiles grinned and moves towards the door. "I'll be fine dad. Who would feed you healthy things if I were in hospital?"
Noah moved towards his son again and by the serious look on his face, Stiles knew he better listen. "You've already been in hospital too many times for a young, healthy person like you. I know you're not going to stop these… hunting expeditions, but I want you to be more careful. I can't lose you too," he gave a bittersweet smile. "I wouldn't be able to survive without you. Alone."
The sudden image of his father sitting alone and heartbroken in the middle of and empty room made Stiles' heart plumet. He couldn't let that happen, no matter what. "I won't ever let that happen dad," Stiles smiled. "Come on! It's been, what, five years? And the worst physical injury I've ever had is a couple of broken bones and a bump on the head."
Noah placed a hand on Stiles' neck, just above his shoulder and sighed. "But what about mentally, son? That Nogitsune and those riders, whatever they were… I know it's all taken a toll on you. I just- I don't know how to help you Stiles. How can I help you? Put you in therapy? Move away?"
"There's no need for all of that dad," Stiles laughed. "No, seriously though. Just being there for me is enough. And staying out of all of this supernatural business so that I know you're safe.
"Don't you get it Stiles? I'm the dad! I'm supposed to protect you, not the other way 'round!"
"I know you don't like it, but in this father son relationship, I protect you. You, you have a gun and that's great, you can protect me from a burglar or something, but I have my Spark! I can protect you way better than you can protect me and you're just going to have to accept that."
"What about the pack? Don't they protect you?" Noah asked quietly.
Stiles' whole form seemed to slump and his brows came closer together. "Not anymore," he muttered.
"Where have they been Stiles? I haven't come home from work to find a big puppy pile as you like to call it in weeks. They used to come over all the time and now they haven't been here for months and you haven't been galivanting around with them even though you're never home. What's happened to you Stiles? What happened to my little boy?"
That was the moment Stiles knew he had to spill. His father just seemed so desperate and heartbroken, it tore his heart to pieces. They decided to skip school and work in the end and settled down in the living room with drinks - a hot chocolate for Stiles and a very strong coffee for Noah - and Stiles finally told his dad all about what had been troubling him for the past couple of months - how the Nogitsune affected him, how, for the first time ever, Stiles thought he and his friends wouldn't survive the Dread Doctors, how Derek and Scott had decided it was too risky for him to be part of the pack, how they ignored or growled at him whenever Stiles approached them or the rest of the pack. He told his father about the fact that he slowly sunk into a deep pit of depression and had a fling with Peter of all people, who ended up leaving without saying why or even a lousy goodbye, which eventually lead him to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or feeding himself. Noah stayed silent the whole time Stiles spoke and Stiles realized it must be a lot to take in. When he looked back up, he was surprised to find tears in his father's eyes. Instead of rushing to his side like Stiles knew he should, he stared down at the floor and sighed. "You don't have to be sad for me," he said quietly. "I'll go back to uni when I'm up for it… It'll get better," I hope, he thought.
"No. No- I-," Noah sighed and massaged his temples as if this conversation was giving him a headache. "I'm a crappy father," he stated. "I was a crappy father. Not anymore. I never thought it would come to this. Oh God no, I can't- It's a terrible idea…"
"Dad? What are you mumbling about?" Stiles asked, a tint of worry in his voice. He had finally made his dad crazy. Stiles and Noah locked eyes and Stiles saw a determination in his father's gaze that he had never seen before.
"We're going to visit your Aunt Nat."
"Aunt Nat? We haven't seen her in, like, ten years," Stiles frowned. He didn't really remember his aunt but he did recall her holding him in her arms even though he could sense she didn't want to.
"And there's a reason for that. She… had a troubled past. I hear she's much better now, better than when we last saw her anyway. But Stiles, there's something you should know. Her full name it Natalia Alianova Romanova, or Natasha Romanoff." Noah watched Stiles with apprehension while his son put two and two together. Stiles, leaned back, shell-shocked, and stuttered a bit before taking a deep breath. "Holy Hell. Aunt Nat is Black Widow."
Two weeks later, Noah had spoken with his deceased wife's sister, he and Stiles had packed up the house (most of it was going into storage) and they had found a nice temporary apartment that they would stay in until they found a house for sale.
They day Noah went to turn in his badge and gun, Stiles- against his better judgement- drove up to the loft which was actually pretty nice now that Lydia had done it up. As he walked up the stairs, he heard the chatting and laughing die away. He could have sworn he heard Starwars playing in the background before they paused it. He was about to knock when the door swung open before he could even lift an arm. It was Derek who answered the door. He looked better- the dark circles under his piercing eyes had vanished and his skin wasn't as pale. Derek scowled at him and god Stiles had missed that scowl even though this one deformed his features more than usual and was more hostile than exasperated. Stiles glanced over Derek's shoulder and saw Scott hovering in the background, frowning. The rest of the pack was rushing up the stairs, only sparing him a glance. Stiles thought he felt his heart break a little more. He must have not hidden his hurt well because Scott seemed to open his mouth to say something before snapping it shut and crossing his arms over his chest.
"What?" Derek's scowl deepened and for one terrible second, Stiles wished he had just stayed home and waited for his father before getting the hell out of this town.
"I- I just- I'm leaving," Stiles muttered. "Just wanted to say goodbye."
"We don't care," said Derek, and that was it. The werewolf slammed the door in his face and Stiles was left outside, feeling so stupid and hurt. Gosh he was so stupid. How could have thought they would realize they had done the wrong thing and take him back? He was so weak. Stupid, stupid, stupid! His breath was coming in short gasps and soon he was collapsing on the floor, hyperventilating. He faintly heard the pack asking what they should do but Derek just said: "Leave it."
He didn't know how long it took him to come out of his panicked state but Starwars was playing again although there was no more laughter. Great, Stiles thought bitterly. Not only do they hate me even more now but I've also ruined their afternoon.