Stiles is half listening to Scott argue with Jackson as he watches whatever tangential band was playing whatever asinine song.
He hates to admit that they’re actually pretty good, and that the song is actually very catchy.
Stiles finds himself, despite his best efforts, singing along lowly. At first he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it, he only noticed when he’d had to stop singing in order to take a drink.
And despite himself, he can’t stop singing along to the stupid song. He tries to keep his voice low, tries to hide his inability to control his urges.
But, of course, Scott and Jackson, with their stupid werewolf hearing, hear him anyway. It, at the very least, has stopped their bickering.
“Stiles,” Scott leans forward, elbows on table, and eyes Stiles. “Why are you singing along?”
Stiles gets momentarily distracted by Scott’s horrendous display of manners. He may be a wolf, but he sure wasn’t raised by one.
“Elbows off the table Scott,” Stiles knocks Scott’s elbows from their spot as he speaks. Scott doesn’t even bat an eye, just raises one non-manicured eyebrow at Stiles.
And Stiles forces himself to focus because right yeah Scott asked him a question.
And Stiles gets this question, he does. Because this band is just another pop wanna be rock band and their songs are very cheesy.
But Stiles doesn’t really have an answer for him. He doesn’t have a reason he’s singing along, not really. The song is just catchy, and Stiles can’t help himself.
So he doesn’t give him a real answer, just sings slightly louder, a small grin over taking his features. Scott eyes him, apprehension in his eyes. It takes only a moment for the apprehension to be replaced by resignation as Scott sighs and starts to sing along too.
It takes even less time for resignation to give way to something more playful.
“Idiots,” Jackson mutters, a fond smile playing at his lips. “I’m surrounded by idiots.”
“Hey, you’re the one who booked this band,” the reminder comes from Allison who is now wrapped around Scott.
Jackson offers her a glare, but has nothing to say, and instead settles for taking a sip of his beer.
“Lydia,” Stiles says, eyes scanning for the strawberry blonde. Wherever Allison is, Lydia is surely not too far behind. “Where’s Lydia?”
Allison opens her mouth to speak, but the voice that comes out is not hers.
“I’m right here,” and she sounds, tense. It sounds weird coming from her. Lydia sounds like many things when she’s surrounded by her friends, but tense is not one of them.
That’s not to say that Lydia didn’t have tension living inside her; because she did. They all did. But these nights, surrounded by friends and shitty music, and an unending supply of alcohol she always sounded airy and light, like she might just float away.
He wants to ask her what’s wrong, wants to provide her comfort and maybe dance away the tension he knows is hiding in her shoulders. Stiles spins to face her, and his words die on his lips.
He makes a noise, somewhere in the back of his throat, and he fights the urge to bolt.
There’s surprised noises coming from everyone else, but they sound far way.
“Stiles,” she says, and she sounds as if she’s underwater. Or maybe he is. Or maybe this is a dream.
He doesn’t stick around to find out. He forces a smile onto his face and makes a beeline for the dance floor as the desire to be anywhere but there wins out.
He hears excited greetings, glances briefly to see some embracing happening, and he feels suspended in time.
He watches his friends embrace Derek and- okay yeah, that’s fine.
It is. It’s fine. It is fine. It’s so freaking fine. Okay. Yeah.
“Stiles,” it’s Lydia and she sounds as if she’s said his name a hundred times. Maybe she has. He wouldn’t know.
But it is fine.
He turns to face her and says as much and she just says his name again but it really sounds like not fine and about to break down and go home.
He just smiles, says “it is so fine” and heads towards Derek.
Except.. except he never makes it because when he turns toward back Derek, he’s already staring at Stiles and he can’t make himself move.
He feels frozen- literally feels like someone has stuck him in a freezer and left him there for years.
Then Lydia is touching him, and she’s standing so close he can see her entire face so clearly in his periphery. Her lips are drawn into a tight line, and her eyes are narrowed. Her grasp is death like where it sits on his arm.
She doesn’t say anything, just stands there offering her support, looking pretty pissed off. And it kind of strikes Stiles as odd because.. because she is the one who even brought him here in the first place.
He jerks his arm out of her grasp, his anger towards her thawing him ever so slightly.
She doesn’t move to take hold of him again, but she does inch herself even closer. He doesn’t say anything to her, but she’s speaking anyway.
“I didn’t,” her sentences ends kind of jerkily, like she didn’t really mean to end it, but couldn’t figure out where it was going. He hears her draw in a breath, and she tries again.
“I didn’t bring him Stiles. He was already here. He asked for you. And I can’t exactly lie to him.”
His eyes settle on the man in question and he only kind of wants to vomit at the sight of the soft green Henley Stiles got him for his birthday last year.
It was Stiles favorite shirt and he wore it here in this bar asking for Stiles.
He doesn’t know when he stopped being able to breath, only that suddenly Jackson is in his face telling him to breath and he just can’t.
And then Derek is there and he just places Stiles’ hand over his heart and it fucking works.
It’s like an instinct, a fucking habit, as his body starts to take in breaths to match Derek’s pace.
Stiles lets out a strangled laugh, and it gets caught somewhere in his throat and ends up more like a sob.
“Hi,” Derek’s voice is soft, and it reminds Stiles of Derek at 3 in the morning as he listened to Stiles ramble about inane things.
Stiles doesn’t reply, just closes his eyes, and refuses to look into Derek’s.
“What do you want Derek?”
Derek doesn't acknowledge Lydia’s question and doesn’t let her pull Stiles away.
“You look… good,” Derek’s free hand is now resting on his cheek, and his other hand is rubbing circles on Stiles’ wrist as he continues to hold Stiles’ hand his to his chest.
“What do you want Derek?” And Stiles just sounds.. tired. He wishes he didn’t. He wishes he could come off strong and unaffected. But here he is, barely left standing in the aftermath of yet another fucking panic attack and he is.. he’s just so fucking exhausted.
He gently pulls his wrist out of Derek’s grasp, and takes a step away. He watches as Derek’s arm just kinda.. falls back to his side in the absence of Stiles’ Face. Stiles leans into Lydia for support, and repeats his question.
Derek lifts one shoulder, in a sort of half shrug, “this is a public place.”
“Derek man,” Scott is speaking, and he sounds torn. He has taken up residence behind Stiles, a strong show of support, but. But but but. But Derek was still his friend.
Scott sort of lets his words hang there, and Stiles wonders if Scott thinks that’s enough of a reprimand. Stiles doesn’t think so, because Derek came to his bar, and then just acted like everything was okay.
Lydia, who has always been so clearly on Stiles’ side, seems to agree with Stiles and she is yelling at Derek, causing a huge ass scene.
Now everyone is watching them, Stiles can feel everyone’s eyes on him and he just wants to shrink away. The band has stopped playing, clearly having gotten invested in the mess that was Stiles’ life.
Stiles isn’t really listening to Lydia but he knows she tells Derek to leave, mainly because she’s pointing at the door and pushing him away.
He reaches out to grab her arm, to tell her to just stop, when there’s another body besides Derek.
“Derek,” this new person starts, concern on her face. Derek just shakes his head and locks eyes with Stiles.
Stiles isn’t sure if the new person continues speaking or not, and he can’t really bring himself to care. He just sorta lets out a sigh, one so heavy his body sags under the weight of it.
“You should really just go Derek,” Stiles is surprised to find that he sounds more angry than tired this time. He doesn’t even feel his anger through the bone deep exhaustion. “You should have never come here.”
“Derek doesn’t have to go,” the girl speaks again and Stiles recognizes her as Paige. Stiles heart kind of stops in chest, and he’s not sure it ever actually starts again. “This is a public place. He’s allowed to be here.”
Lydia steps forward, and Stiles can tell from the look on her face that she has already thought of hundreds of way to kill, or at the very least, seriously injure Paige.
Derek moves in front of Paige, blocking her from Lydia. And Lydia snarls, but doesn’t stop in her advance. She is all the way in his face before she speaks.
“Control your.. girl Derek,” they way Lydia says girl, makes it sound like an insult and Stiles hadn’t even known that was possible. “You know damn well you should have never come here.”
Paige opens her mouth to speak, only gets one word out before, “so help me god Derek if you don’t shut her up.”
“Paige,” and it's all Derek says, and he sounds like he wants to say more, but Lydia doesn’t seem to be in the mood to let anyone speak.
Stiles knows the mistake Derek made before Lydia even speaks. He should’ve never given Lydia the ammunition of her name. Derek having a girl here was enough of a faux pas, but that girl being Paige.. well Lydia’s anger was rolling off of her in waves and Stiles didn’t have to be a wolf to know it.
“Ohhhh that’s great Derek,” and Stiles wants to tell Lydia to just leave it. He wants to grab her arm and tell her that he’s just going to go home. The night is kind of ruined for him anyway.
But he just can’t make himself move, can’t make himself do anything. His heart still doesn’t feel like it’s started back up again.
“Dude,” and it’s Jackson speaking, he has Lydia pushed behind him. Stiles isn’t sure when that happened, but Lydia doesn’t look too pleased about it. “I’m not gonna say that you shouldn't have come here because well, we told you that you’d always be welcome here.”
Lydia makes a noise of disagreement, and Stiles wants to agree with her but well.. they did say that. The group had wanted him to know that he always had a place he’d be welcome, even if things didn’t work out. And well.. things definitely hadn’t worked out.
“But you shouldn’t have brought your new,” Jackson keeps taking, ignoring Lydia. “Or old.. whatever. You shouldn’t of brought her here.”
“I don’t understand why you guys are being like this. This is a public place,” Paige is on the verge of yelling.
And it’s this, Paige’s completely inappropriate anger that knocks Stiles out of whatever state he’d been in.
“First off,” and everyone stops, and looks at Stiles. Lydia is by his side before he can blink. “You shouldn’t be inserting yourself in things that do not concern you.”
Stiles saw Paige open her mouth to speak, but then Derek was angrily saying her name, and she closed her mouth.
“And secondly, you need to get out of my bar.”
“This is public bar!”
“He owns this bar Paige,” it’s Derek who speaks, and his voice is low and dangerous. “If he wants to kick you out, he can. He kind of makes the rules here.”
Derek is staring at Stiles as he finishes his sentence, a question in his eyes.
And Stiles is still just so exhausted, and he’s so done with this.
“You can stay Derek,” his voice is soft “but she really needs to just.. go. I can’t. Okay Derek? I just can’t.”
Stiles voice waivers and he knows Derek can see the tears that escape his eyes.
He sees Derek nod, and hears Paige try to disagree. But Derek doesn’t say anything, just keeps his eyes trained on Stiles.
“Just go Paige,” it’s a new voice, one Stiles recognizes instantly.
He can’t help the smile that comes over his features, he’s missed her.
“Hey Batman,” Erica tosses her golden locks over her shoulders and sends Stiles a genuine smile. “I told him coming tonight was a disaster waiting to happen.”
“What, this?” Stiles between them, a smile still on his lips. “Nah, this is just another Tuesday night.”
“You know, I’m actually sad that that’s probably true,” and she laughs and Stiles can’t really help himself.
He crosses the space between them and launches himself into her arms. She doesn’t even stumble as she catches him, just laughs even more.
“I’ve missed you too Stiles.”
“You didn’t have to stop coming around just because me and Derek broke up.”
Erica sets him back on the ground gently with a, “I kind of did.”
And Stiles frowns, his eyes glancing over to Derek who was watching them.
“Screw the rules. We were friends too.”
“They were his friends first,” the voice belongs to Paige who.. still hasn’t left?
“Do I need to call security?”
Paige made a sound of disapproval, then gestured towards Derek.
“I’m waiting on Derek.. he’s my ride.”
Stiles isn’t really sure what he expected. But of all the things he could’ve expected.. this wasn’t one of them.
Derek, not even bothering a glance in Paige’s directions just says. “I’ll call you a cab.”
Stiles’ wide eyes, meet Erica’s and he just loses it. He leans into Erica for support as his laughs make him unstable on his feet.
“Sorry… I’m sorry,” he’s fighting to get the words out between his laughs. He wants to say more, but can’t.
He’s laughing so hard, he can’t breath. Tears are falling from his eyes and his laughter is turning into something else.
It just keeps building and building and building until he’s sobbing in Erica’s arms with Lydia rubbing his back.
He thinks he’s speaking, but he’s pretty sure he’s just saying nonsense.
He feels himself being pulled away from Erica’s grasp and faintly registers Lydia's disapproval. He knows the hands that are wrapped around his own and something in him starts to settle at the contact.
When he finally calms himself down enough to register his surroundings, he’s in a dimly lit hallway, Derek standing opposite him.
He feels like he should speak, should say anything. Should ask Derek what the fuck he thinks he’s doing.
Except.. he can’t say anything. He wants to, can feel the words in the back of his throat, but he can’t make them come out.
He’s trying to force the words out of his mouth, opening it and closing it repeatedly. He snaps it shut for the last time, having finally given up when Derek speaks.
“I miss you,” and he sounds so goddamn wrecked that Stiles feels it.
And Stiles wants to scream at him, to yell at him. To say ‘well too damn bad’.
But his body just deflates and he says, “I miss you too.”
Derek just nods, and doesn’t make any moves to leave. But he also doesn’t move any closer to Stiles and for that he’s grateful.
There’s a silence between them and Stiles fills it by saying, “so you and Paige, huh?”
“No, not really,” Derek gives him a one shouldered shrug, and doesn’t say anything else.
“Not really? What the hell is that supposed to mean? You either are or aren’t back with your ex.”
“She asked me out, I used it as an excuse to see you.”
And Stiles laughs at that. It’s short and bitter and full of all the hurt he’s held inside for the past year.
He can’t find the strength to shove past Derek and out of this hallway.
He doesn’t even try to find it, just resigns himself to the fact that he’s going to be stuck here, until Derek was no longer there sucking away all of his energy.
“My mom wants you to come by the house.”
And this time Stiles does say, “Well too damn bad.”
“You’re her emissary,” and Derek seems like he’s going to say more, but Stiles.. well he’ll be damned if he lets him.
“No,” his voice is low and deadly and he sees Derek flinch. “I’m not. I could’ve been, sure. But I turned her down and you only have yourself to thank for that.”
“Stiles,” Derek reaches out, and drops his hand before it ever reaches its destination. “Can we please talk.”
“You want to talk? Fine, you have me trapped here. Let’s talk.”
Derek’s face scrunches up in confusion, “I’m not trapping you here, you can leave any time.”
He made a sweeping gesture with his hands toward the open end of the hallway.
Stiles didn’t bother looking to where he was gesturing, just said, “I’m so tired Derek.”
And Derek’s body sagged under the weight of Stiles’ words.
“Stiles,” whatever he was planning to say, dies out and he just looks at Stiles with… something in his eyes.
Stiles wants to call it regret but he doesn’t know if that’s the right word for it.
“I thought we were supposed to be forever?”
Stiles isn’t sure why he said it, really. He’s not even thought about it since their breakup, not allowed himself to.
Thoughts of supposed to be and forever only brought him hope, and he knew very well he didn’t have any hope.
Derek actually stumbles back a step from the shock of Stiles’ words. He doesn’t make eye contact with Stiles after that, he just kinda shrinks himself down and Stiles couldn’t help but note how wrong he looked, curled into himself.
He was used to Derek always standing tall, proud. He was the heir apparent, and you could just see it from looking at him. Broad shoulders, an air of confidence always surrounding him. Even the way he walked (which Stiles had often called his ‘Alpha walk’) made you know that he was important.
He didn’t even try, and that was the thing that really drew Stiles in. He was so oblivious to the power that surrounded him, that he possessed.
Derek had always been soft lines and warm edges, it’s what made him stand out from his siblings. Talia had always said she thinks that’s why the alpha spark chose him.
Because he was a secret nerd, a shoulder to cry on. He was a big freaking teddy bear.
He was all soft lines and warm edges, until he wasn’t.
And that’s how they got here, where they are. Derek shrinking himself down in size and Stiles really wished he could take back his words.
But instead of that happening, more words just kept pouring out.
“That’s what you said, that’s what they all said. This will be forever Stiles, your mom said. And I agreed because… because you had said you loved me and you looked at me like my dad looks at pictures of my mom and it just felt right.”
Derek still doesn’t look at Stiles, he doesn’t even say anything. He just shrinks down smaller and smaller and smaller .
And Stiles just keeps going.
“I know we weren’t perfect, I wasn’t perfect. But I really thought that you’d love me forever. You promised me forever on a night the moon was full and the air was filled with laughter and I let myself believe it.”
Stiles is near yelling at this point, and he’s sure all his friends can hear him but he doesn’t care .
This is a year worth of pain and anger all flowing out of him because Derek wanted to talk.
“You made me believe it Derek. And I fucking loved you with every piece of me, and then you just said I can’t do this anymore and you left me with nothing. I didn’t feel alive for weeks afterwards. I couldn’t move or eat or drink or sleep or do anything. ”
Derek is the smallest Stiles has ever seen him, but he still doesn’t falter. He needs to get this out and it looked like Derek was going to let him, so he wasn’t going to stop.
“ You left Derek. You’re the one who decided it was too much and you left and you took my heart with you. I have learned how to live without it, and that is on you too.”
And just like that all the fight leaves him and he slides himself down to the floor. He crosses his arms across his knees and leans his head back against the wall.
Derek speaks then, sounding so small, so sincere, and not for the first time that night, Stiles cries.
“I’m sorry Stiles.”
Neither of them move, neither dare look at the other. They just sit there, bodies facing each other and months of pain between them.
Stiles isn’t sure what makes him do it, except that Derek had sounded like his Derek when he spoke, and the emptiness in his chest didn’t feel quite as empty anymore.
He doesn’t let himself think about it, just reaches a hand out and waits for Derek to grab it.
And things definitely aren’t okay between them, but maybe, for now, this was enough.
Maybe it was okay, to not be okay, if Derek wasn’t okay too.
If they were not okay, together.