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resilience is my promise

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It’s three in the morning and Scott can’t sleep. His bedroom is too stuffy and when he opens the window, it’s too cold; it’s too claustrophobic in his room but he feels exposed if he goes out to the couch; the light’s too bright even on its dimmest setting, but he feels unsettled alone in the darkness; his legs ache with the will to move and his mind is frantic with lack of sleep, but his body is begging him to shut down, to just stop for a while; the stillness around him sets his nerves on edge and the pounding of his blood in his ears is picking at the frays.

He’s outside before he knows it, bare feet on asphalt, still dressed in a tank top and pyjama pants, fingers already dialling a number he could depend on even through timezones and college deadlines. The fact they’re in Beacon Hills again, that they’re home again, is just a bonus.

The phone rings twice and he’s greeted with a sigh that’s all sleepy softness, no harsh irritation or impatience and something loosens in Scott’s chest. “Hey, man.”

Scott stays silent. He can’t articulate quite what it is he wants to say - he has times like this, where words can’t seem to form in his head long enough for him to put them out there, where what he feels is better translated into the clench of his jaw and the set of his shoulders, almost in pain from how tense his spine feels.

He hears sheets rustling and feet hitting the floor on the other end of the line. Always faithful, always dependable. Scott aches, but it’s not a bad ache; he aches with gratitude, with pure and simple love for this boy, this man, who’s stood by his side through hell and high water, who still dreams and wakes up screaming because of choices they’ve made - choices, he’d whispered on one occasion when the end of the road had seemed nearer than it had ever been, fiercely determined and terrified all at once, that he’ll never regret, so don’t you dare give up on me now, Scott - don’t you dare.

Scott walks, phone clutched in his hand by his side - it’s still connected, and there’s a voice murmuring on the line, but it’s not for Scott and he doesn’t have to listen; he isn't expected to respond. It’s enough that he’s expected, that he’s welcome.

He walks until there’s the faint buzz of a security door letting him in, until there’s an apartment door swinging open and flooding the hallway with faint light, bathing him in it. It feels warm, it feels comfortable and he feels safe for the first time in a while.

It feels like coming home.

Stiles is there, hair sleep flattened and wearing a t-shirt that isn’t his, but he’s there and he’s coaxing Scott out of the hall and into a space where he feels like he can breathe again, like all of the ghosts in his head are being chased out by the timbre of Stiles’ voice telling him he’s okay, he’s all right, that big strong alpha werewolves need their freak-out time, too.

The soft scuffing of feet draws his attention, pulls him by instinctive curiosity into the main room of the apartment and he’s not at all surprised to see a sleep-serene Derek unfurling a comforter and dropping a pillow onto the couch. Stiles locks the apartment door and comes to stand at Scott’s shoulder, bumping them together in silent support. Scott looks at him and Stiles is watching Derek, contentment curling around the edges of his mouth. Scott looks toward the couch in time to see Derek smiling in return, looking down at the blanket in his hands.

It’s new between them, Scott knows, albeit a long time in coming. He wonders if they know how they look at one another yet, wonders if Derek knows the depths of Stiles’ loyalty, his unapologetic and unwavering way of falling in love; wonders if Stiles knows the complexities of the wounds Derek keeps shoved deep down within himself, the ones Derek himself doesn't know he carries. Scott wonders if they see what he’s been seeing for years: Stiles’ manic energy and Derek’s steadfast refusal to be anything but stoic in the face of the unknown; the way they’ve butted heads about everything over the past ten years, the arguments they’ve had spanning days and weeks, state lines and an entire ocean at one point; the way that in the aftermath, in the frantic calm that follows every storm, they’ve always been there to brush over one another, to touch, to reassure. To press against one another and hold each other up.

He remembers their first kiss because he was there for it - the entire pack had been. They'd been arguing - something trivial, Scott thinks, because they'd always manage to agree on the important stuff - and Stiles had stopped mid-sentence. It had been like watching magnets snap together in slow motion: Stiles had made an irritated sound and begun to stalk across the floor just as Derek had dropped the tome he'd been leafing through in order to curl both hands in the back of Stiles' plaid shirt. Scott remembers it hadn't really caught anyone by surprise, remembers feeling like the inevitable had finally arrived, feeling something like gratification at the arrival of a long-awaited foregone conclusion.

Scott comes back to himself there and then, watching his brother by chance and his brother by choice just exist. It’s half past three on a Sunday morning and Scott feels comforted by the one constant in his life who’s always been there, by the happiness he’s exuding from his position in the doorway beside Scott. The room is warm and it has nothing to do with the temperature; it’s created by the comfort, the sleepy contentment of two of the most important people in Scott’s life. Scott finds himself wondering if Stiles knows he still bleeds his emotions, wondering if Derek’s ever had anyone tell him he’s just as terrible at hiding his own, too.

Scott goes toward the couch but Stiles’ arm slides around his shoulders and turns him in the direction of the bedroom. Scott goes where he’s directed, letting Stiles have a moment with Derek alone. Scott sinks down onto Stiles’ bed where the pillows and sheets smell like Derek and Stiles, and Derek-and-Stiles, and the rest of the tension in Scott’s chest melts away. He can hear Stiles and Derek murmuring, bidding one another goodnight, and he allows himself to be soothed by the cadence of their voices.

When Stiles finally slides into bed beside him, they curl together naturally like they used to when they were kids. Scott breathes easier with the steady heartbeat of his best friend mere feet away and when Stiles leans over to turn out the light smelling of happiness and love, the darkness doesn’t seem so deep.