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just before they lose it all

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There was a time when the world was filled with pops of pinks and purples. When yellows were vibrant, and olive greens gave him a sense of comfort and enveloped him in a feeling of love. A time when oranges sent a thrill of excitement through him, when reds were associated with passion, when dark blues brought him relaxation. He'd always been fascinated with colors as a child, constantly staring at his crayons and the nature around him in awe, and cherishing all of the different pigments that brought beauty to his world. They were his source of comfort; one of the only constants in his fast paced and always changing life. He never once thought they would disappear, always believing that no matter what, they would always be there for him to gaze at.

But to be fair, he never once thought a lot of things would disappear.

The day the colors change is the day he feels his heart rip to shreds and feels the earth crumble beneath his feet. He watches as the bright pigments slowly melt into empty grays and cold blacks with the only vibrant color left being an angry hue of red. Always the same red. The deep, dark shade that never seems to fade and constantly tinges the edge of his vision. Red, the color he'd always equated to love and passion that now makes his stomach twist and his throat burn. He knows how red feels between his fingers; has seen it bubble, trickle, and ooze under his hands. Has slowly watched the red grow larger and larger as the warm hazel fades and with it, all the colors in his world too.

He hates red.

"Stiles?"

Stiles shakes himself from his thoughts and lifts his whiskey colored eyes to stare at the woman in front of him. He doesn't feel like talking—never really feels like talking much these days—and so he quirks one of his eyebrows in a way that communicates for her to go on.

"Can you tell me about Derek?" Morrell questions in a strong yet gentle voice.

Stiles feels a flood of anger wash over him. "No." He spits.

Morrell doesn't even bat an eye at his tone, something that irks him to no end. No matter what he does or says, no matter how harsh he becomes towards her, she always holds a solid composure, and he hates is. Absolutely hates it. 

"Why not?"

A bitter laugh bubbles from his chapped lips. "You're the professional. You tell me." he states with a mocking tone. 

Morrell lifts one of her perfectly shaped eyebrows at him. "I think you're afraid."

Stiles rolls his eyes and lets out a snort. "Afraid of what?"

"Afraid that talking about him will make all of this real."

He's at loss for words, unable to deny her observation with a sarcastic remark when she's hit the nail right on the head. He parts his lips, searching for something, anything to say, and then presses them into a thin line when he can't think of a response. Morrell seems to take his silence in stride though, and turns the direction of the conversation onto another path. "Stiles, do you know where the word 'therapy' comes from?"

Stiles' face scrunches in confusion at the sudden change of topic. "It comes from the Greek word, therapeía."

"Do you know what it means?"

"It means 'healing'." He replies slowly.

She shoots him a small smile and then nods. "That's right, healing. Therapy is a place of healing and you cannot begin to heal unless you acknowledge your open wounds," She crosses her right leg over her left. "I know that you see me as the enemy, Stiles, but I'm here to help you."

Stiles grits his teeth and clenches his fists on his lap. "You ever think that maybe I don't want your help?" He questions in a biting tone.

"Sometimes what we want and what we need are two very different things."

Stiles doesn't know how to respond to that either.

***

The drive home from Dr. Morrell's office is tense and silent. While Stiles can easily drive himself to and from from therapy, his dad had fought against it, and thus, the many awkward minutes spent in the car together.

Stiles stares out the window, watching the colorless surroundings blur together; trying to do his best to ignore the worry he feels radiating off of his father. It all seems so pointless; therapy, his dad's constant worry, breathing in general, all of these things are pointless because they're wasted on him. What's the point of doing or feeling anything, of anyone doing or feeling anything for him, when nothing matters at all? 

Each minute that ticks by feels simultaneously prolonged and too short. It's tutorous, sitting in a confined space with someone whose racing, uncertain thoughts you can feel in the air like humidity on a summer day. There's so much his dad wants to say, things Stiles knows the man is mulling over, picking at and looking over in a million different angles in a way that only a seasoned investigator would. 

The Sheriff eventually breaks the silence once the car pulls up to the top of their driveway, and Stiles waits with baited breath to hear which platitude will be said. "I was thinking about ordering pizza for dinner. How's that sound?" 

Well, that wasn't expected, but whatever. 

"Sounds good." Stiles replies dully as he flicks his gaze towards his father.

His dad releases a long sigh, turns off the ignition, but doesn't make a move to get out of the car. Stiles looks at his father anxiously, waiting for him to spit out whatever he seems to be struggling to say. He knew getting out of the car without having to have some conversation seemed way too good to be true.

"I don't know how to make this better, kid." His dad breathes out after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.

The younger man turns his attention to the front window in an attempt to not look at his father's eyes, not wanting to see the sadness and pity that always seems to be directed at him these days. "I'm good." He answers in a tone that he knows isn't convincing. He doesn't have the patience to sound convincing, or to care. He wishes he could be left alone.

The Sheriff looks doubtful. "You know you can always talk to me right?"

"I know."

The Sheriff releases a tired sounding sigh, and Stiles can't help but feel a twinge of guilt for causing his father so much trouble. "Let's get inside."

He silently nods, unbuckles his seat belt, and gets out of the car to follow his father into the house.

He glances up at the sky briefly.

It's red.

***

Red, red, red. Slimy, metallic red blooming across cotton. Too much, too much. Hands drowning in red, hands sticky and covered with it. Loud screaming and desperate wailing that pierces the darkening night sky. Everything muffled by the ugly, angry color beneath long, pale fingers that attempt to block anymore from bubbling to the surface.

'Please don't leave me. Please, please, please! Please don't leave!' A panicked voice begs as the tan, weak, hands that are wrapped around smaller, bony wrists, loosen. As lips sticky with red part and close. As eyes reminiscent of spring unfocus. As the world turns cold and vivid colors are numbed.

Stiles wakes with an earth shattering scream.

Urgent footsteps thunder into his bedroom and the Sheriff immediately gathers his sweaty son into his arms, holding on to him as best as he can. Stiles thrashes in his grasp; the teen still stuck in the nightmare that also plagues him during the day.

"Shh, shh. It's okay. You're okay." The older man comforts his son. Stiles' screams quickly turn into sobs and the Sheriff, who by now had grown use to being woken up in the middle of the night, holds on to him even tighter, as though holding him close enough would wash away all of his child's pain.

***

"So, your father tells me you've been having nightmares." Dr. Morrell says two weeks after their previous session.

"Yeah, so?"

"I thought maybe we could talk about them today, if you wanted to, that is."

Stiles scoffs. "No thanks."

Morrell doesn't seem phased by his reluctance to cooperate and continues on. "You know, nightmares are pretty common for those who have experienced something traumatic. Talking about it might help."

And he just...can't take it. She talks to him like he's a child she can coax into doing what she wants, and it makes his temper flare up. "God, what is it with you and wanting to talk about things?"

"Well, you know, I am a therapist." Morrell says wryly.

If he had been the same person he was three months ago, he might have laughed at her words, would probably respond with something much more sarcastic. He isn't though, in fact, he's so far away from who he was three months ago. Instead, it's the last straw. Pure, burning, rage courses through his veins and leaves every inch of him buzzing and he can't see think about anything but the anger that's began to envelop his whole being.

One minute he's sitting in the therapist's sleek, black, leather couch and the next, he's screaming words lost to him and throwing the nearest item within his reach clear across the room.

***

His father keeps him home from school the day after his meltdown in Morrell's office. Which is fine, since he doesn't even have the energy to get out of bed today. He's been curled up in a blanket cocoon when his father knocks on his door.

"Hey." His dad says gently. He's leaning up against the door frame with his left hand in his faded jean pocket, looking at Stiles as though he's a piece of glass that can easily shatter.

Stiles grunts in response.

The Sheriff sighs, suddenly looking ten years older. "I'm staying home today."

"Okay." Stiles says in monotone, not really interested in the topic of conversation. What else is there to say? Nothing matters, not really. Saying anything beyond an 'okay' would just be meaningless; would be a waste of energy that he barely has enough of these days.

The older Stilinski pauses for a few moments, and Stiles can feel him staring at the blanket covered mass that is his son, trying to figure out how to word what he wants to say next. "When I lost your mother," He coughs, attempting to lessen the lump that suddenly begins to form in his throat. "I didn't react well. I turned to something else to numb the pain, and shut everyone out. It wasn't healthy and it wasn't fair, especially not to you."

Stiles pulls the blanket back to the point where he can peer out at his father. He loves his dad, he really does, but he can't do this right now. He's too tired to deal with anyone else's overwhelming guilt and festering regrets.

"Just...I know what you're going through. Please don't shut me out, kiddo." The man begs, his voice cracking at the end as tears start to form at the corners of his pale blue eyes.

Stiles silently stares at his father before he speaks. "You didn't see her die." He bluntly states. Too bluntly, if his dad's wince is anything to go by. He's simultaneously too numb and too comsumed with regret to feel bad about the affect his words—the truth, a tiny part of him whispers—have on the man. 

They stare at one another for a few seconds. The Sheriff looking equal parts defeated and hurt while Stiles just looks defiant; refusing to let any of his emotions show on his face.

"No, I didn't."

***

He dreams that he's drowning in a sea of red, struggling to swim back to the surface. He thrashes; his lungs becoming more and more filled with the red, inhibiting his ability to breathe. He calls for help but his desperate screams go unheard.

The muffled, bell like laughter of his mother is the last thing he hears as the world fades to black.

***

It's the second to last week in March when he's back in her office again. The leaves have just started to come back, and the temperature has started to rise, but Stiles still feels the winter chill deep in his bones; a frozen numbness he can't seem to shake.

"I'm sorry about what happened last time." Stiles apologizes, sincerely ashamed of his actions at his previous appointment. His life may suck, but it doesn't mean he has the right to treat Morrell like a punching bag. 

"I accept your apology," The woman gives him a kind smile. "Trust me, those type of things aren't exactly uncommon in this room."

Stiles nods his head in acknowledgement and then turns to stare out the window. Just because he's sorry, doesn't mean he's anymore willing to cooperate today than he has been in the handful of prior sessions he's had.

But just like all of the times before, she doesn't take his silence as a hindrance, much to his annoyance. "I thought we could talk about your mother today."

"I'm pretty sure she's not the reason I'm back in therapy." Stiles comments dryly.

"You were there when she passed as well, right?"

"Yeah, and I've already spent hundreds of hours talking about those feelings with my old therapist, so I really don't think we have to talk about it again."

She leans forward, her all too knowing eyes staring straight into his soul. "Derek's passing must have brought up some old feelings that you had after your mother's death."

Stiles decides to ignore her prompting as best as he can. "Can I go now?"

"You still have fifteen more minutes."

He clenches his hands into a ball, and focusses on the pain that the crescent shaped marks he's embedding into his palms are causing. 

***

Scott comes to visit him later in the day after lacrosse practice. He's like a ball of sunshine shining through a cloudy day when he walks in, brightening up Stiles' dark and dreary bedroom with his brilliant smile.

"Hey dude!" The russet eyed boy says cheerily. "We missed you at school today, but I got your homework for you." Scott tells him with a gentle smile.

"Thanks, Scotty." Stiles replies unenthusiastically.

"Anytime bro." Scott says easily as he flops onto Stiles' bed, making the gangly teen yelp as Scott causes the bed to shake. Scott shoots his best friend a sheepish grin. "Sorry."

"S'fine."

Scott's eyes widen and he shoots up off the bed. "Oh dude!" Scott exclaims excitedly. "You totally missed the best thing today. You know how that one kid Matt was creeping on Allison a while back?"

"Yeah...?"

"Well anyway, today he told everyone he slept with Cora."

Stiles feels a pang of sadness at the mention of the girl's name, but he ignores it. "That...that isn't something you should be excited by, bro."

"What? Oh no, not that," Scott waves  him off. "That wasn't funny. I wanted to shred him to pieces but Allison and Cora wouldn't let me."

"Uh huh." He says, trying to move the conversation along.

"Anyway, she totally got back at him by telling everyone he had a small you know what." Scott says with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

"Yeah?" Stiles asks, amused and proud at the fact Cora had gotten the last word.

Scott excitedly nods and continues to recount the rest of the story. Stiles still feels hollow, but with his best friend laughing next to him, it isn't as present as usual.

***

It turns out that Melissa has been downstairs with the Sheriff the whole time he and Scott had been in Stiles' room; something Stiles only realizes when Scott drags him downstairs to eat. The parents look to be engaged in a serious conversation, if the concerned looks on their faces are any indication, and Stiles has a feeling he knows what the topic is about when they halt all communication once they realize the boys are near by.

"Hey Stiles!" Melissa hurriedly chirps, and Stiles sees her cringe at her attempt to diffuse the awkwardness that hangs around the four of them like a cloud. 

Stiles waves to his best friend's mom in return.

"Um, so anyway," Melissa coughs as she directs her attention back to the Sheriff. "We should probably get going."

"Aww, but moooom," Scott whines. "We were gonna play Call of Duty!"

"And you boys can play Call of Duty another time. You've got homework, and if you want to borrow the car for your date with Allison tomorrow, I suggest you get a move on on it." She tells him sternly. Scott shoots his friend an apologetic look, and Stiles responds with an easy going smile, letting him know that there's nothing to be sorry about. Truth be told, he's relieved that he doesn't have to awkwardly play video games with his best friend while wishing he could be alone again.

"We'll walk you out." The Sheriff says as he rises from his seat at the kitchen table.

When they all reach the door, the Sheriff pats Scott on the shoulder, and tells him to come by soon as Melissa turns back around to where Stiles is. She quickly grabs him in an unexpected bone crushing hug that communicates all of her love and worry.

She smells like lilacs, and home, and it remindes Stiles so much of his own mother that he can't help but close his eyes and melt into her embrace.

***

Claudia Stilinski's death leaves her son and husband dealing with the aftermath in two different ways. While the Sheriff immerses himself in liquor to deal with his grief, Stiles throws himself fully in whatever he can in an attempt to distract himself from the void he feels. Nothing can seem to fill the emptiness inside of him though, and for weeks, he's left floundering for something to latch onto; something to help him breathe a little easier.

It isn't until he falls and scrapes his leg in gym class that he finds that something. The stinging cuts on his leg are a welcome relief; something he can't get enough of. Like an illicit drug he knows isn't good for him but he wants more of it anyway. It makes him feel as though the heavy anchor that's been tied around his ankles has been cut off, and he can now fly away—if only a few, brief, blissful moments—from all of the pain and sorrow that has consumed him since he had watched his mother take her last breath.

The Sheriff finds a friend in booze.

Stiles finds his in pain.

***

"How are you?" Allison asks him when he comes back to school. She looks at him with pity shining in her eyes, and handles him like he's a delicate piece of weathered china that can easily crumble if simply touched. It's how everyone looks at him these days, something that has begun to grate on his nerves. Overwhelmed by the weight of her gaze, and aware of the simliar stares he's getting from the people surrounding them, he directs his focus onto his bag.

"I'm fine." He replies simply, pretending to rummage through his backpack in an attempt to end all conversation right there.

***

"You know, it's not healthy to keep your emotions bottled up." Dr. Morrell tells him as she leanes forward, placing her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands.

"What makes you think that I'm not talking to any of my friends about this?"

Morrell lifts a groomed eyebrow. "Are you?"

He glares at the woman, frustrated because he knows he's being pushed to speak about his feelings when he doesn't want to. He feels a flare of annoyance spark to life, and words bubble out of him without his permission.

"Fine, you want to talk? I'll talk." Stiles spits. "I feel like I'm drowning and each breath I take burns worse than the previous. There's this constant weight pressing down on my chest that everybody says is supposed to lessen with time but it gets heavier and heavier each day that goes by. I'm surrounded by people who treat me like glass and I'm so sick of it and I'm also sick of people asking me how I feel."

Morrell silently leans back against her chair and gives him a small, satisfied smirk.

***

He feels like his skin is too small for his body—like he's caged within—and he's fighting to get out. It hurts and he claws at his chest as his breathing becomes labored. He doesn't want to succumb to his old methods of relief, but he slips, and for a brief moment, he feels a sense of calm washing over him.

That is, until, he stares down and watches the blood bloom.

He vomits the little food he has in his system into the toilet.

***

He and Derek are laying in a dark meadow. The colors are muted— an array of grays and blacks—and Stiles feels content laying in Derek's arms. One minute, Derek's tracing his fingers up and down Stiles' arm, and the next, his movements halt all together. Suddenly, Stiles feels a wetness coating his back where it's leaning against Derek's chest.

He turns around to see what's wrong and his eyes widen in horror as he stares into lifeless, hazel eyes.

"-tiles, Stiles!" A voice yells, trying to shake him awake.

Stiles' eyes pop open. His heart pounds in his ears, his lungs feel as though they're being crushed by an unseen force, and he can hear the distant sounds of somebody's hoarse screams, but he's more focussed on trying to blink away the image of Derek and the colorless forrest.

It isn't until he gathers his bearings that he realizes that he's ended up in his father's arms and that the screams are coming from him.

"Do you want to talk about it?" His father asks once Stiles' shouts have tapered off and his breathing has evened out.

Stiles shakes his head quickly, not trusting himself to speak.

***

The nightmares combined with his inability to handle the stares and whispers has him deciding to to ditch his classes after lunch that day. Just once, he tells himself.

It's been a week and he's only made it to four of his classes.

***

He doesn't know if it's the fact he's started to grow comfortable talking to her, or if he's just too exhausted to put up a fight, but he starts opening up to Morrell at his next visit.

"You and your father have gone through similar expereinces. Have you talked to him about any of this?"

"It's not that I feel like I can't talk to him," He sighs. "I just don't know how."

"What do you mean?" The dark haired therapist inquires.

Stiles catches his bottom lip, rolling it between his teeth as he takes a moment to figure out how to get across his thoughts. "It's just, we're not really good at the whole communicating thing you know? We do the hugging thing, but talking about stuff like this isn't really easy for us. We talk but we don't really talk talk. It's just who we are."

Morrell gives him a kind, gentle smile. "Talking to people about your feelings can be hard and uncomfortable, but it can also be very beneficial in the end. I know it's hard to, and that it may be out of your comfort zone, but talking about your shared similarities might do you some good. I can't force you to, of course, as it's your call as to what you share with others. That's just my take on the situation."

***

"We need to talk." The Sheriff tells Stiles the minute he walks into the house after school.

Stiles slowly makes his way into the dining room, weary about the clipped tone his father is using. When he enters the room, the Sheriff motions for Stiles to sit at the table while he stays standing.

"I just got off the phone with your principal," He crosses his arms across his chest, and by his body language alone Stiles knows he's in a boat load of trouble. "You want to tell me why you've been skipping almost every one of your classes in the last week and a half?"

Stiles shrugs his shoulders and stares at the aging table. "I didn't feel like going." He mumbles. 

"You didn't feel like going?" The Sheriff repeats in disbelief.

Stiles nods his head.

"I'm just—" The older man let out a hiss of breath and pinches the bridge of his nose. "I'm at my wits end here, son. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Talk to me."

When Stiles makes no move to respond, the Sheriff smacks his hand against the table in frustration, causing the teen to yelp. "Dammit Stiles!" He yells. "Talk to me!" The teen flinches at his father's tone, and much to both of their horrors, tears starts to form in Stiles' eyes.

"Shit, I'm sorry." His father rushes out. "I didn't mean to snap at you. God Stiles, I'm so sorry."

Stiles shakes his head and wipes his eyes with his shirt sleeve. "No, no. Seriously, it's okay. I'm okay." He sobs, trying to reassure his dad that everything is alright.

The Sheriff comes over and envelops the teen into a crushing hug. The angle is awkward and uncomfortable, but Stiles leans his head against the crook of his father's neck anyway, tears falling from his eyes and staining the the older man's work shirt. He doesn't know how long he stays within his father's tight embrace, and he doesn't particularly care at the moment.

It's the hardest he's bawled since the night everything fell a part and he can't bring himself to feel embarrassed that the only sounds between them are the echoes of his sobs ricocheting from every corner of the room.

***

He still can't stand the whispers and looks of pity but he stops skipping class.

***

"It's only a matter of time before he goes crazy like that Martin girl." A voice says not too far from Stiles' locker. Maybe if he acts like they're not there, they'll actually walk away soon enough, so he pretends he can't hear them as he continues to shuffle books around in his locker. 

"Jennifer!" The girl's companion lightly scolds her.

"What? I'm just telling it how it is. You can't go through something like that without it fucking you up for good."

Stiles slams his locker door shut and storms off.

***

Stiles plops down at his usual lunch table consisting of Scott, Allison, Kira, Cora, and Isaac. He ignores the worried looks he receives from his friends, all of whom try and fail at resuming their respective chatter. They all attempt to act as though they aren't watching him, all except one.

Stiles looks up from his bland school lunch and is met with the angry gaze of Cora Hale.

"Get over yourself." She seethes.

"What—?"

"I'm so sick of this!" Cora yells, and the whole cafeteria falls into silence as they stare at their table. "I'm so sick of everybody walking on eggshells around you. You're not the only one who lost someone, okay? I lost my brother!"

"Cora." Allison quietly chides the youngest Hale, but the girl angrily barrels on anyway. 

"God, you're such a selfish asshole. If it weren't for you, he wouldn't even be dead!" Her eyes widen in shock as she realizes the words that have tumbled out of her mouth. The table sits back in stunned silence, waiting to see what will take place between the two.

"Stilinski—" She breathes out. 

Without a word, Stiles gets up and leaves the cafeteria.

***

It's pouring rain when he sits down on the wet metal bleachers that are placed on the edges of the lacrosse field, not caring that his clothes are getting soaked to the bone. He's numb, so so numb. His fingers tingle, feeling staticky in a way that remindes him of an old TV when it loses connection.

He closes his eyes and tries to soak in the rain; tries to imagine it washing away all of his troubles. He pictures it washing away the phantom touch of the sticky blood that still lingers on his skin, but the feel of coppery substance covering him is something that he knows will always haunt him. 

He feels someone sit down next to him but he makes no move to acknowledge them. It's probably Scott, and as much as he loves his best friend, he really doesn't want some useless pep talk from him right now.

"I'm sorry." A voice that most definitely does not belong to Scott says.

Stiles opens his eyes and whips his head to look at Cora. "What?"

"God, are you deaf? I said I'm sorry."

"Why?" He questions bitterly. "You were right. It was my fault." If he hadn't argued with Derek outside that stupid diner in the sketchy part of town and walked away from him, forcing the older teen to rush after him. If he hadn't been so selfish, if he hadn't been so bullheaded, if, if, if—

Tears start to form in the dark haired girls eyes, and she quickly wipes them away with the sleeves of her denim jacket. "I shouldn't have said that. I was wrong."

"No you weren—"

"Yes, I was," She asserts. "You're not the one who killed him. It was that bastard who did, and I hope he spends the rest of his pathetic life rotting in jail. I was just taking my anger out on you, and it wasn't fair, so I'm sorry." She gets up without another word, probably expecting for him not to respond.

Before she can take a step though, Stiles speaks up. "I'm sorry too."

She swiveles to look at him in surprise.

"What—?"

"I got so caught up in my own stuff that I didn't even think about the fact that this is affecting you too. Before I was with Derek, we were friends, and I've been a really shitty one to you for a while now."

Cora gives him an appraising stare, looking as though she's searching for something. He doesn't know what for, but she seems to have found whatever it is that she's looking for, as she decides to sit back next to him and gingerly lays her head on Stiles' shoulder. When he makes no effort to move away and instead wraps his arms around her, she slowly relaxes into him.

The two sit in silence, and the only noise between them being the pitter patter of rain and their sniffling.

Stiles is the first one to speak. "What are we supposed to do now?" His voice cracks as he speaks.

She pauses and takes a deep breath. "The only thing we can do, we live. For Derek, for us. We have to go on." She whispers.

***

"I think I'm ready to talk about Derek now."

Morrell stays silent but motions for him to continue speaking.

"Derek, he was—" Beautiful, wonderful, the love of his life. "Amazing."

"Did you love him?"

"I still do."

***

It's a particularly hot spring night when Stiles decides to try talking—really talking—to his dad. He sits at the kitchen table, eating a sandwich, while his dad sits across him reviewing old case files when Stiles gets the courage to broach a sore subject between them.

"How did you get over it?"

His dad doesn't look up from the papers he's looking through. "Get over what?" He answers distractedly.

"Mom's death."

The Sheriff startles at that. Stiles watches him take a deep breath, as if he's letting the brunt of the hurt hit him and settle before fully speaking. It takes him a few moments to speak, but when he does, he pushes his files aside so he can fully look at his son. "I'll probably never get over it." He admits.

Deep down, Stiles had known his dad's answer going into this conversation, but it just...doesn't feel like enough. 

"Will it ever hurt less?" Stiles questions. He has to know if it'll always feel like this for the rest of his life. Like there's this gaping hole in his chest that seems to grow larger and more awful with each pained breath he takes.  

The Sheriff gives his son a small, sad smile. "You'll feel it. You'll always feel it, but as time goes on, it wont always be constant."

Stiles responds with a tiny smile of his own, satisfied, and goes back to eating his sandwich. 

***

"We talked about death once when we were watching PS I Love You. He thought it was a morbid topic of conversation, but we talked about what we wanted if something were to happen to one of us. I told him that I wanted him to twerk on my grave Miley Cyrus style."

Morrell's eyebrows shoot up but she decides not to comment. "What did he want?"

"He wanted me to be happy."

***

While Stiles is close enough to Allison, his relationship with her best friend is a whole different story. The two girls are practically tied to the hip, and even though Allison and Scott are basically one unit these days, Lydia Martin still keeps her distance; never really mingling with Scott's friends. Stiles is typically used to her ignoring him, so he's more than surprised when she acknowledges his presence in physics by choosing him as her lab partner.

"I know what it's like to come back to school after you go through trauma," She says in lieu of a greeting as she sits down right next to him. "People see you as something vulnerable, weak, a freak show," She spits the last part bitterly. "But that's not what you are, Stiles, not at all, and I refuse to baby you like everyone else has. You've recently gone through something terrible, yes, but you are not weak or incapable of functioning like a human being and you shouldn't be treated as though. You will not be excused from pulling your weight in this lab, are we clear?"

Stiles nods, dumbfounded.

"Good," She turns her focus back to the lab instructions their teacher had handed out earlier. "Now lets get started."

***

Stiles spends most of his school career pining after Lydia Martin. She's intelligent, strong, and also all sorts of vindictive and terrifying but Stiles swears up and down that she's the love of his life and that he'll marry her someday. He's never taken the chance to actually get to know her, but he's put her up on a pedestal and has convinced himself she's his dream girl. 

His story with Derek, on the other hand, is almost exactly the opposite. He's known Derek for just as long as he's known Lydia—maybe even longer—but for most of his life, Derek has been nothing more than Cora's grumpy, annoying older brother who he gets accused of flirting with but he's not flirting at all. 

They spend most of their teen years battling it out with words whenever Stiles is at the Hale house, throwing insults at each other like one would throw a rock into a glass house. They're always annoyed with one another; they can barely even stand to be in the same room. They hate each other, loath really, and the day they get along will be the same day hell freezes over.

Derek kisses him on a Tuesday.

***

"It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," He whispers. "l think I get it now."

"Get what?"

"What it means. I've thought about it, about what life would be like if we'd never gotten together, you know? Wondered if he'd still be—" Stiles' breath hitches. "If he'd still be alive. But I realized that dwelling on the 'what if's' wouldn't bring him back. I got to experience something amazing with him, and not being able to hold him, or listen to him sing along to some stupid song on the radio kills me, but at least I got the chance to experience a tiny piece of his world. God, this is going to sound so cheesy, and if he were here right now he'd probably be making his grumpy cat face, but I'm a better person because of him."

Tears start to well up in his eyes but he makes no move to wipe them away.

"I'm going to miss him, everyday, for the rest of my life."

***

Stiles always knew that watching Derek go off to college would hurt, but he didn't realize how much it would until he saw Derek pulling up in the Stilinski's driveway to say goodbye.

The younger teen opens up the door before Derek can even knock. "Don't go." Stiles pouts.

"I thought you said you wouldn't miss my 'smug, asshole face.'" Derek jokes. A bright smile lights his face, but there's a certain sadness in his eyes that momentarily takes the breath out of Stiles. 

This is real, this is goodbye. After Derek leaves, their lives will never be the same again. 

Stiles doesn't say anything as he invades Derek's space, and the other boy wraps him into his arms, resting his chin on top of Stiles' recently buzzed hair. When he hears Stiles' sniffles, Derek pulls him away so he can look at him.

"Hey," Derek gently grabs the other boy's hand, and brings it over Stiles heart. "You feel that?" He says, referring to Stiles' heart beat.

Stiles nods.

"No matter how far away we are, just remember that every time you feel that, I'm with you. Always."

Stiles chuckles. "God, you're such a sap." He teases as he wipes his tears with the back of his hand.

"But you love it." Derek quips.

Stiles beams up at him because Derek's right, he does. He really does. "And I love you." 

***

Stiles sits in the cruiser with his right hand gently rubbing the space over his heart, staring out the window.

"You okay, son?"

"Huh?" Stiles asks, slightly dazed. He turns to look at his dad, who looks at him in concern. "Yeah, I'm, uh...I'm good." He answers honestly.

Well, somewhat.

He's not good, per say, but he's getting better. He knows it'll take a while for him to feel good again, but the road to being okay doesn't seem as hopeless or nonexistent as it once did.  

The Sheriff squeezes his son's shoulders in reply, conveying more in one touch than can be spoken using something as clumsy as words. "So, how about pizza for dinner?" He questiones, and Stiles snorts at that. Nice try, old man. 

"Thin crust, no meat, and lots of vegetables. You're also getting a salad to go with it." Stiles informs him.

"Oh come on," The Sheriff complains as they pull up into the driveway. "Isn't putting vegetables on thin crust pizza torture enough?"

"Okay, just get the salad then." Stiles shoots back with a smirk. And this is good, this is familiar. It's like old times again, even if it's not.

"Fine, you win," The Sheriff grumbles in mock defeat as they both exit the car. His dad tries and fails at trying not to look too happy at getting a real response out of his son, and Stiles pretends he doesn't feel a spark of fondness being ignored due to his father's joy. "I'll go call Dominos."

"You better not order soda!" The teen yells after his father's retreating figure.

"Yeah, yeah." The Sheriff waves him off before disappearing inside. 

Stiles stands next to the passenger door for a few moments, taking everything in. He can feel the crisp air of spring dancing across his skin like a promise of rebirth to come. He can hear the sound of joyous laughter erupting from his neighbor's house, the fading buzz of an airplane flying above, can smell the scent of freshly cut grass permeating the air. 

It's amazing, he thinks, how when one world comes to a screeching halt, everyone else's seems to continue moving. It's a strange, sobering thing to know that time stops for no one, not even for him. His world may have fallen a part, may have bled out the vibrant colors that once coated its every surface, but slowly, he knows, his world will continue to spin again. It'll never be the same, it'll always long for its missing inhabitant, but it moves forward because it has to. He has to go on, like Cora said. For himself, for Derek. The best way for him to honor Derek is to learn how to live again, even though it hurts to do so without the love of his life at his side. 

And with that, he knows what he has to do. He counts to ten and braces himself, hoping that the outcome to his next decision is something that won't crush him with disappointment. 

He takes a deep breath and looks up at the sky. 

It's blue.