`What the Hell was she thinking?! ´ Derek roared as the stress of the waiting game became too much for him, fear and worry easily now displaying itself as anger, and Lydia knew this and still his outburst made her jump back and flinch in the most ungraceful way possible. She knew, she knew that Derek wouldn’t hurt her, because if he did then Stiles would wolfsbane spray his ass, still she backs away from him as he starts towards her.
`Why didn’t you stop her?! ´ he proceeded the yell at her while moving towards her like she was an enemy, just another threat to the people he cared about, completely ignoring Scott who was telling him to calm down, and finally trying to keep him from getting too close to her.
Derek was beyond livid, pushing against Scott while pointed an accusatory finger right in her face as he continued to yell at him, `You could’ve stopped her. So, why didn’t you? You’re her friend, and you just let her run into a burning building, for WHAT?! ´
`Derek, man, you know how Stiles is. Once Stiles sets her mind on something, nothing…´ Scott starts, but Derek barks at him like a rabid dog while pushing Scott away from him, hard enough to cause Scott to stumble backwards and nearly land on his ass.
Turning his rage towards a startled looking Scott, Derek went on to without lowering his voice or softening the tone, `I would’ve stopped her! ´ he swears with solid conviction, `I would’ve pinned her to the ground, held her there for days if I had too, Scott. I would’ve done anything to stop her, anything, to stop her from doing something this stupid. ´
There’s this wild look in Derek’s eyes as he takes two steps towards a visibly shaken Scott, ` If I had too, if there was no other way, I would’ve broken her leg just to stop her. ´ and as he speaks, his hands play out the act of violence Derek says he would’ve done just to keep Stiles from running into the burning building.
Lydia doesn’t at that moment doubt for a minute, not one moment does she doubt, that Derek wouldn’t have gone to the extreme to stop Stiles from trying to get to the loft, and by the look on both Peter’s and the Sheriff’s faces the two seemed to share Lydia’s belief; Scott, however, didn’t seem to believe that Derek would’ve gone as far as to break Stiles’ leg, and unwisely voices his opinion.
`Come on, Derek, you wouldn’t do that. You wouldn’t break her leg…´ and yes, most certainly Derek wouldn’t break Stiles’ leg any other time, but Lydia thinks she knows exactly how far he was willing to go if it would keep Stiles Stilinski safe.
Turning sharply towards Scott, eyes glowing and a menacing growl rising from deep within him, Derek responds with deadly seriousness, `I would’ve broken both her legs if it meant she’d be safe, ´ once more his voice grows in volume, ` and I wouldn’t feel a second of remorse about it, not one second, because at least then I could be sure she wouldn’t burn alive. ´
`Derek. ´ Scott whispered in shock, while staring at Derek like he didn’t know this man standing before him.
`To protect her, to protect her from herself I would do anything, anything. ´ Derek declares, his voice breaking as despair replaces the anger that had kept Derek going, and Lydia found it almost painful to look at the werewolf who now sank into one of the uncomfortable chairs almost as if someone had stolen all his of his strength.
`Derek, you’re just saying that, you wouldn’t…´Scott continues stubbornly, unwilling to think that Derek would turn to violence to stop one of their most important packmate and friend.
`You, you weren’t there, Scott. ´ Derek says then, rather defensively, but there’s a haunted look in his eyes.
`You – you haven’t experienced watching people you love be trapped inside a burning building, forced to just stand there while unable to do anything about it. You just stand there, listening to their slow, terrifying, death. But I have. ´
Breathing in shaky breath, a first-set of tears begin to fall as Derek goes on, his voice small and helpless to the point Lydia feels the need to go over to him and do her best to comfort him, but she doubts he’d accept her offer of comfort, since she’s not Stiles.
` You haven’t lived through having to smell the sickening scent of the burned flesh and hair of people you loved. I have. I have, Scott. ´
`Derek. ´ whines pitifully, but Derek isn’t done yet and continues as if Scott hadn’t spoken.
`No, Scott, you weren’t there. You didn’t see her as they carried her out of there, I did. You didn’t smell the burned hair and flesh, you didn’t see the damage, Scott. I did. ´
`Oh God. ´ the Sheriff cries into his hand, his tears falling freely now.
`You didn’t hear the complete silence of her lunges, Scott. ´ and here Derek’s voice grows louder, `You weren’t there to realize that she was gone, that her heart, that goddamn wonderful stubborn heart of hers was quiet. You weren’t there, Scott. ´
Lydia would probably never forget the sound Derek had made as one of the Firefighters came out of the building Derek had slowly begun to make into his home, and the look on Derek’s face as he ran towards the firefighter and the unmoving form that was Stiles had been enough to tell Lydia that Stiles was gone even without the way a scream carrying Stiles’ name begged to be set free. Lydia had watched as Derek pushed aside every deputy who attempted to stop him from approaching the Firefighter, pushing each man aside like they were nothing more than cardboard figures. The only man Derek didn’t push aside was the Sheriff who came between him and the people who had the training to try and pull Stiles back from behind the veil.
Lydia had watched Derek closely, mostly because she couldn’t brig herself to look at the damage done to her friend, one who’d always seen the person Lydia hadn’t been brave enough to show, at least not until Stiles pushed her to dare be the person she was. It was while watching Derek that she began to realize something that should’ve been obvious to her long ago, and now that she had realized that Derek Hale didn’t just like Stiles as a friend but as something much-much more, Lydia just couldn’t think back to every time she should’ve caught on to Derek’s little secret.
All those times Derek’s eyes seemed to sparkle with delight when Stiles used her acrobatic wit to dress-down anyone, even him, Lydia should’ve questioned it and put two and two together. Lydia couldn’t understand how she’d missed the way Stiles entering a room, as long as there wasn’t a threat to her life in said room, would always draw Derek attention and how her arrival made him seem less angry and agitated. How had she missed the way a smile that reached Derek’s eyes bloomed upon his face when Stiles appeared, that smile growing if Stiles was in a good mood, and the affection she’d missed in Derek’s eyes every time Stiles showered his dogs with attention and affection.
How had she been so blind?
Elbows on his knees and his face in his hands, Derek seems to almost beg as he goes on to say, `I just – I can’t..´
Breathing in a shaky breath, tears still streaming down her face, Lydia wishes with all her broken heart that everything would workout for Derek and Stiles, after all, everyone but Scott knew that Stiles had been struggling for years now to keep Derek from realizing just how deeply her foolish heart loved him; not that Stiles had been that great at hiding it, they way Stiles would react whenever there was even so much as a hint of a threat to Derek’s life was enough of a clue on how Stiles felt about Derek, and the rage she felt after Derek risked his life was bad enough to leave Stiles suffering from a migraine the following day, then there was the way Stiles never missed a chance to make Derek’s life better and to see him happy.
`Why? Why would she do something this stupid? ´ Derek asks after a short pause, and he sounds so desperate to understand why Stiles would’ve ran headfirst into a burning building, after all she’d known he wasn’t in the building, she knew only the dogs were at the loft.
Lydia hesitates to answer Derek’s question, but as Derek repeats his question, she feels a need to tell Derek why the young woman he clearly loved ran into the burning building that had been consumed by heavy smoke and cruel flames.
`The dogs, ´ Lydia whispers, her voice still weak as she fights her own emotions, but it’s still enough to draw Derek’s attention back to her, but Lydia can’t look him in the eye as she continues, ` Stiles, when she saw one of the dogs in the window, Stiles just said she had to get the dogs out, and then she was running. ´
That stills Derek for a moment, and Lydia makes the mistake of looking at him because Derek wears the expression of a man who’d accidentally killed his one true love, the devastation and guilt found in his eyes was just too much for her to handle and so she looked away once more.
`What? ´ Derek croaks then, and dear god, his voice was even worse than the emotions Lydia had seen in his eyes and upon his unnaturally pale skin, `She said, she said, she had to save them, because of Baxter? ´
Lydia gives a small nod, before whispering a small, `I’m sorry. ´ and she was sorry for not being quick enough to stop Stiles, but she’d thought she’d heard Stiles wrong, and it wasn’t until Stiles was already vanishing into the building that she realized what her friend had said.
`Baxter? ´ Peter whispers from where he sits next to a ghostly pale Sheriff, arm wrapped around the mans hunched shoulders, keeping him close to his side, `Derek’s dog? ´
`Wait. Derek doesn’t have a dog called Baxter. ´ Scott decides to remind everyone, not that they needed reminding about the fact that Derek’s two dogs weren’t called Baxter, since Derek and his dogs were minor celebrities in their hometown since Derek with Stiles would visit schools and hospitals, and so everyone knew that Derek’s dogs were called Snow and Clint.
`He had a dog called Baxter, ´ Peter explains, a small sad smile dancing upon his otherwise humorless face.
`When?! ´ Scott questions, almost as if he was ready to call them all mad.
`Before the fire. ´ Peter tells the younger werewolf he’d created, `You know, he had a life before you two crossed paths. ´
`What? You had a dog? ´ Scott asks Derek then, and Derek nods gloomily, before covering his face with his hands once more.
`I remember him. ´ the Sheriff mumbles then, and a brief smile whispered across his lips, `Massive Alsatian mix, floppy ears and massive paws. I swear, that dog got to ride more times in my squad car than any other Hale did. ´
Peter laughs softly at this, `Sounds about right. Baxter followed Derek around like a shadow, and any chance that dog got it would runaway in search of Derek. ´ and there’s a fond look in his eyes as he goes on to share a little bit more about Baxter the dog, `When he couldn’t go searching for Derek, he’d just lay there by the front-door, waiting faithful for Derek to come home. Wouldn’t even take his favorite treats. ´
`I didn’t know that. ´ Scott says then, and Lydia has to admit she hadn’t known about Baxter either, but she had a feeling Stiles had known about Baxter and probably knew about him because Derek had told her about him.
`Why would you? ´ Peter questions then, `Baxter was just dog, ´ Lydia doesn’t miss the way Derek’s shoulders tense at this, be it for only a moment, `he was just a dog from a period of time that never matters to you, Scott. ´
`Like everyone, aside from me and Cora that is, ´ Peter goes on none too kindly, as if he wants to cause Scott some further distress, `the dog died in the fire. Kate and her lot didn’t even let the family pets escape the fire, oh no, everything had to go. They chained Baxter up, and just left him in the kitchen to – well, you know. ´
Now Scott looks sick and pale, and Derek doesn’t look that much better, and Lydia is probably in the same boat with the two.
After a short pause, a pause during which Derek struggled against the tears now falling, the Sheriff decides to speak, to ask Derek a question that held a rather obvious answer.
`I guess, you told Stiles about Baxter. ´ the Sheriff’s voice is a little bit unsteady, and with sad-eyes of a man who’d already suffered many losses the Sheriff looks at Derek who simply nods. A sad little laugh pushes forth from within the father of the young woman now fighting for her life somewhere in the hospital, in a part where none of them were allowed to follow, then with a sigh the Stiles’ dad goes on to say, `Knowing my kid, she couldn’t let you go through that again, not if she could help it. ´
Eyes wide and devastated Derek seems to almost protest as he opens his mouth to speak, `They were just dogs, they weren’t…´ even Lydia can tell that Derek isn’t being entirely truthful here, but she does still feel that having to chose between the dogs and Stiles, Derek would pick Stiles even if losing Clint and Snow would hurt him deeply.
`Cut the crap, son. ´ the Sheriff says then, a hint of anger in his voice, but other than that he still appears like a man waiting to lose his daughter, `You love those dogs, and she knows that. She’s seen you with them, she knows you. ´ then with damp eyes, and voice weak once more the Sheriff repeats with conviction of the deepest sort, `She knows you. ´
`I – I never, never, asked her to – I would’ve never asked her to. ´ Derek starts, struggling to find the words he wants to say, and the Sheriff takes pity on him as he tended to do these days. Lydia couldn’t help but think that the kindness and friendliness the Sheriff had started to show Derek for the two or so years now, had to do with him realizing that Derek wasn’t just someone to his daughter, but rather he was someone important to her and so that had made Derek important to him too.
`I know, son. I know. ´ the Sheriff says softly then, there’s still so much sadness in his voice that Lydia can’t help but feel that Stiles’ dad had lost the strength to believe his daughter would pull through this the way she did most things.
` But the thing is, son, you don’t have to ask my kid to do something she feels is important. ´ the Sheriff continues with a hint of pride in his voice, `She’ll just do it. ´
`Sounds about right. ´ Peter hummed softly, fondly.
`And, Derek, ´ the Sheriff goes on to say as if Peter hadn’t spoken, ` if you’d arrived sooner, you would’ve had to have restrained her to stop her, and I know you would’ve done anything to stop her. ´
`I’m sorry. ´ Derek chokes out miserably, and now the tears were flowing and for once Derek didn’t’ even try and fight them, `I’m sorry. I’m sorry. ´
With a heavy sight, the Sheriff moves to sit next to Derek, pulling the younger man into a tight hug, offering comfort which usually fell on the shoulders of his daughter.
Lydia was surprised to find Derek accepting the comfort offered, sinking into the firm embrace of a man who was possibly doomed to experience losing a child, and Lydia wasn’t entirely convinced that her mother would be able to keep Stiles’ dad from drinking himself into an early grave if they lost Stiles.
`I know you are. ´ Stiles dad tells Derek softly, but although his voice was soft and gentle, `but you’ve got nothing to apologize for Derek. This, none of this was your fault, son. ´
`Why did she do that? ´ Derek hears the familiar voice say as soon as he’s out of the elevator, although Stiles’ voice was a little bit rough around the edges after days of silence, not to mention the piece of plastic tubing that had been shoved down her gullet and had kept air flowing into her lunges that had needed time to heal.
`Why would she postpone the wedding, dad, she loves Chris and Chris loves her. This makes no sense. ´
`Stiles, you need to calm down. ´ Derek hears the Sheriff say, and he sounds positively exasperated now, gone was the overjoyed man that had called him fifteen-minutes ago, telling him that the hospital had called and told him Stiles’ had woken-up.
`Oh, my god, what did Chris do? ´ Derek hears Stiles say fiercely.
`Nothing. ´ the Sheriff says then, `Melissa didn’t want to get married without you there. ´ and that Derek knew to be true, Melissa had made it clear that she wouldn’t, couldn’t, get married while Stiles was still in the hospital, it didn’t matter whether or not Stiles was unconscious or conscious, she didn’t want to go through with the small wedding without Stiles there.
`You’re as good as her daughter, kiddo, and she couldn’t think of going through the wedding without you. ´
`Oh. ´ is Stiles’ surprised response, and slowly when Derek is almost at her door, Stiles continues softly, `That’s sort of nice of here. ´ and then anxiously Stiles asks, `Was Chris really mad? ´
Derek hears rather than sees the Sheriff place a kiss on what he thinks is the top of Stiles head, then softly answering her nervous question, `No. He’d already asked the Natalie if it was possible. Chris knew she wanted you there, kiddo. ´
Breathing slowly, then breathing said breath out equally slow, Derek made his way into the small room that Stiles had been occupying for a few weeks now, although Stiles’ sustained what Scott had so crudely called minimal damage from the fire, not that Derek considered the second and third degree burns minor, the sight of the gauzes and the smell of her wounds were enough to be a constant reminder that she’d been trapped and surrounded by fire a smoke; the thought of the heat of the fire wrapping itself around Stiles, burning her lunges that continued to struggle with every involuntary inhale of thick smoke, the thought of the fear and panic Stiles had felt as she realized that her only exit was blocked it was a form of torture he’d never imagined possible.
Those scars that Stiles would now wear would never allow him to forget that he’d almost lost her because of his dogs.
Any attempts Derek had made to steady his mind, his heart, while he drove to the hospital, while he waited for the elevator to reach the right floor and as he made his way to Stiles’ hospital room were ripped from him the moment Stiles turned, winching as the movement pulled at the hidden burns, a smile plastered upon her face which had been deathly still for weeks.
All Derek feels is anger, a rage that had fester inside him in near secrecy from the moment Lydia answered his question of, `Where’s Stiles? Where is she? ´
Whatever Stiles had been about to say is lost when she catches on to just how angry he is, and she looks genuinely confused while her smile drops.
`Derek? ´ her dad asks then, appearing as taken aback by his less than cheerful mood.
`What the Hell were you thinking? ´ Derek asks sharply before slamming the door behind him and starting towards the hospital bed that Stiles had been occupying for far too long, and a look of alarm washes over both the father and the daughter, the Sheriff gets up and out of his seat and telling him to calm down.
Reaching Stiles bed, Derek almost roars a her, `You’ve claimed for years to be intelligent, the brains of our pack, but you’ve proven to everyone that you are dumber than a doorknob! ´
`Hey, back off, Hale. ´ the Sheriff snaps then, moving around the bed.
`What? ´ Stiles croaks then, tears already evident in her beautiful but sad eyes, and damn those eyes break his heart and makes him feel incredibly guilty for so many different things.
`What possessed you to run into a burning building, Stiles? ´ Derek asks, voice still angry but a little less hostile than before, pulling his arm free from the Sheriff’s angry hold, all the while ignoring the demands of Stiles’ dad for him to leave.
`Why? Why would you be so goddamn reckless with your life, Stiles? Why? ´ Derek continued, now almost pleading for her to help him make sense of her madness, his voice breaks and betrays him as he goes on with a degree of desperation, ` They were just a couple of dogs, Stiles. Just a couple of dogs. ´
Defensive anger sweeps into her eyes as she does her best to dry her tears, and hissing at the discomfort she feels at the motion and she scrunches her nose when she pulls at the nasal cannula, Derek could easily imagine that Stiles had already complained about all the wires and tubes stuck to her body, and without a doubt she’d be complaining about them in the near future; hopefully, Stiles wouldn’t try and have herself discharged before every one of her doctors agreed it would be safe for her to go home, since knowing Stiles she’d no doubt forget to follow the doctors orders once home.
`Snow and Clint aren’t just some dogs. ´ Stiles responds, her voice is still a little bit off and Derek doesn’t want to think about the reasons why her voice sounded so rough and wheezy, `They are your dogs. ´
`Yes. Mine. ´ Derek barks at her, his temperament hasn’t been steady or great since the fire, `My dogs, not yours, so why the hell would you do something so stupid that you’d…´
Slamming her hands against the matrasses, cutting thus Derek off, and the sharp stench of pain has him reaching out and grasping her by the one spot on her left arm that hadn’t suffered damage, immediately draining the unpleasant and pulsating pain Stiles continued to suffer from; of course, the slight twitch of the flesh beneath his hand tells him she’s tempted to pull away, but the moment he begins to draw away the pain she’s been hiding so well, Stiles rethinks it and stays put be it begrudgingly.
`I didn’t want you to lose them because you love them, Sourwolf, and you’ve lost enough loved ones. ´ Stiles explains, her anger is born for defensiveness and it’s a surprisingly comforting sight to see this side of Stiles, it was something so Stiles that Derek has grown surprisingly fond of it but today it fuels his anger enough to cause him to yell back at her.
`Losing you would’ve been worse! ´ and it would’ve been so much worse to lose Stiles than Clint and Snow, Derek feels rather than sees the way the Sheriff goes still beside him, and Stiles’ just stares up at him with eyes so wide that he would’ve worried at any other time they’d plop on out of her head.
`Losing you would ruin me, Stiles. ´ Derek continues, now that gates are open, Derek just can’t stop, `Losing you that would break me. And guess what, Stiles, you wouldn’t be around to force me to try and fix myself, you wouldn’t be around to push me to be better, to get better, because you’d be fucking dead! ´
`Der..´ Stiles whispers, softly and with a hint of wonder, but for once after a few years of obediently going quiet when she’d speak to him, Derek goes on unhindered.
` Do you understand that? You’d be dead, Stiles. Dead. Gone. If you need to save something that I fucking love, then stop – just, goddamn stop – running headfirst into your possible demise! ´
`You – you love me. ´ Stiles says then, and Derek can’t recognize the meaning behind her voice, but there’s a sparkle of wonder and joy in her eyes and a small smile whispers on her chapped lips.
`I’ve been in love with you for years, so yes, I’m in love with you. ´ Derek confesses, admitting defeat and sinking into the chair he’d occupied for too many days, never breaking contact with Stiles’ arm while running a shaky hand over his face.
`Why? ´ the question surprises him, and yet at the same time it doesn’t, since he knows that Stiles’ doesn’t have a great view of herself and her capabilities.
`Because you are wonderful, Stiles. ´ Derek responds, reaching out to gently take her hand now, hoping he’d could make her feel just how greatly he loved her.
`You are so strong that it both terrifies me and makes me feel safe, like whatever comes my way, you’ll be there to have my back and to kick my ass if I slip into my old-ways. You are amazing, and every wonderful and frustrating day I spend with you, even if its only for as long as it takes to finish a cup of coffee, is a good day. ´
` I’ll – I’ll just leave you two. ´ the Sheriff mumbles, awkwardly, while giving Derek’s shoulder what feels like an encouraging squeeze, but Derek hardly notices Stiles’ dad leaving the room.
` You’ve amazed me in so many different ways long before I even realized you were important to me, and you are – you are so goddamn important to me, Stiles, that I can’t imagining surviving losing you. ´ and Derek hates the way his voice breaks then, it doesn’t matter that she’s seen him at his weakest and most miserable, because he should be strong for her now that she was injured and in need of support and care.
`Why..´ Stiles questioned and Derek has a notebook full of reason why he loved her, and but a page of week reasons for why not to love Stiles. The look that had come to situate itself on his therapist face when he’d brought the homework his therapist had given him, the look on the middle-aged woman with wise-eyes had been priceless, and it had found a forever home in his memories, but Derek simply couldn’t stop writing down all the reason he liked/loved Stiles.
Laughing nervously, Derek lets it slip he had a notebook full of reasons why he loved Stiles.
`No. ´ Stiles says then, and Derek’s heart sinks a little at this, although he’d hadn’t imagined that Stiles would ever love him to have his fears confirmed wasn’t an easy bitter-pill to swallow.
`Why didn’t you tell me sooner? ´ Stiles implored, her delicate hand coming to rest upon his own which remained upon her arm, and having her touching him makes it easier for him to breathe.
`I – I didn’t know how. ´ Derek confesses shamefully, ` I was afraid you wouldn’t want me, even after everything I’ve done to try and be better, and that once you knew how I felt I’d lose you. ´
`Oh, God, aren’t we just a couple of fools. ´ Stiles groans then, and Derek immediately thinks the moment of rejection is near.
`I’ve been try and failing not to love you since I was like seventeen, ´ and this has him looking up at her in shock, and once more she smiles at him in that special way that seemed only reserved for him, `I’ve lived all these years think you could never want me, and here you are telling me you have a notebook full of reason why you love me. ´
`You’d want me? Even with all my…´ Derek starts and goes quiet the moment she speaks, his heart swelling inside his chest as she softly tells him, `Of course, Sourwolf. I loved you at your worst, and so it stands to reason that I'd love and want you at your best. ´