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A Heart Repeating, Beating

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Derek wakes from healing the night away on Stiles' bed to see him trying to get ready for school in the dark, the curtains pulled tight against the early morning sun. The only sounds in the room the whisper of fabric as he pulls off one shirt for the next and the hitch in Derek's breathing that Stiles catches--has to catch, from the way he tenses--and ignores. Derek has spent the last too many years convincing himself that wanting was the problem, his biggest weakness. That having wasn't something he ever deserved. But it's so easy to forget, in the muted light of Stiles' bedroom. When he's blissed out from the ending of pain, and Stiles' back is in front of him, dotted with freckles like a map of possibilities, of places he's never dared to go, and his mouth is dry, suddenly, with the way wanting trips up his heart, unsteadies the rhythm the same way that fear always manages to do.

His fingers want to reach for Stiles, but that isn't a new sensation. Derek can never take his eyes off of him, not in any kind of light. And not like this. With the darkness, with the quiet, with the soft movements Stiles makes as he prepares for another day. And Derek thinks--I wasn't prepared for you. He thinks--I have never known anyone more terrifying.

But the fist around his heart, that cruel grip on his lungs--it isn't fear, for once. It isn't desire. It isn't that bone-deep knowledge that he shouldn't. That he can't. It settles over him like a blanket, warm like mornings when he was younger. It's pretending to be asleep to hear laughter in the kitchen, affectionate conversation, and familiar heartbeats. It's curling up in their bed while his parents got ready for the day. It's quiet, rainy mornings, and the contentment of knowing he was cared for. That those you love are there, warm and happy and safe. It should scare him. He should get away, but he's settled into pillows that smell like Stiles--like the first place in too long where he felt like he could belong. And the very last thing he is is afraid.

Stiles pulls on a shirt that's cleanish, the smell of him heavy like it's missed a wash. It could go to Derek's head so easily; he's a lightweight for it. Stiles hides the dimples in his back, like that could ever discourage Derek from wanting to taste them, and Derek breathes out. Laughs, almost, if laughing wouldn't jostle too many places that are still healing. If it wouldn't disturb the morning. Derek reaches out, hooks his fingers around Stiles' wrist just to catch his pulse against his fingertips. Just to feel. His tongue is heavy--always so clumsy--and Stiles' skin is as warm as the feeling inside when Derek says, "thank you," soft, careful not to break the day before it's even begun.

Stiles smiles, presses his fingertips to Derek's forehead gently, like Derek is something cherished. There's so much Derek needs to say, suddenly, but the words don't come because they never do, and Stiles' mouth stays cocked, keeping a secret he doesn't want to share, bathed in the soft light, and his heartbeat stays steady. Derek exhales, like he can push out all his worry, because letting go is easy, when the lights are dim and Stiles is so steady, so sure. Derek isn't surprised, not really. He's always been the last to figure himself out.

"Go back to sleep," Stiles tells him. He touches Derek's cheek, his mouth, his shoulder. Stiles rests his fingers on Derek's arm, traces all the places that were broken open the night before. "I'll see you later," Stiles says, more promise than goodbye, and Derek can only nod. He closes his eyes and lets himself drift back off to dream of early mornings and the heady taste of possibilities.