Sometimes Stiles thinks his mouth is way too... mouthy. He especially remembers that one time when he said the Kanima is an abomination and Derek looked hurt, as though Stiles was talking about werewolves, too.
He’s not sure how he ended up thinking about this, about the way Derek knows how it feels to lose someone dear, someone you can’t even imagine your life without until they are gone. And even then it’s impossible to imagine it. The pain just becomes a blunt edge carving into your side, and you’re so used to it, it feels like a part of you.
Maybe he’s thinking about this because they are always almost dying.
He thinks about how he said to Lydia that death doesn’t happen to the person who dies. He would be someone else if his mother hadn’t died. Derek would be someone else too, someone less gloomy and less hurt. He wonders how it would feel to know that person.
Stiles is sitting on the couch, the TV on, but he’s not watching anything. He’s just thinking. And maybe he should be doing something instead.
The thing about Stiles... He has his dad. Yeah, it means he fears losing him too. Having someone always means that you might lose them someday. But Derek has no one. A crazy uncle and a wayward pack do not a family make.
Stiles doesn’t know why he feels like he has to do this, why it’s his job and nobody else’s. It’s possible he’s the only one in the whole world who has even thought of it.
He gets up, puts on his shoes, takes his keys and wallet, and runs to his Jeep.
The world is dark around him, but he feels like it’s a safe night. Deaton told him that he has more than just a spark inside him, that he can do things, see things if he stops thinking of himself as just the comic relief, the Robin to Scott’s Batman, the nerdy kid who never gets the girl.
The truth is Stiles has never thought of himself as anything other than Stiles. He’s trying his very best to just breathe through his day. Mostly he manages. Most days, he has other people to worry about. He’s made himself useful to others. He takes care of others. That’s his way of surviving.
Once he reaches the old station, he realizes he has no idea what the others are doing. They might be here too. If that’s the case this won’t work.
Stiles finds his way in, listening, walking carefully, his senses alert. He knows that if they’re here they already know he’s coming. Still, he tries to be quiet.
Derek is alone which makes him both scared and relieved.
He’s going to try this then.
“Hi,” Stiles says when Derek looks up from where he’s lying on an old mattress, reading a book. It’s weird to see him do something so mundane.
“Has something happened?” Derek asks, sitting up, but there’s no urgency in his movements. Stiles guesses Derek has already read his heartbeat, smelled his adrenaline level, seen how he’s not flailing about, screaming bloody murder.
He has a terrible urge to shuffle his feet. “I was thinking...” And suddenly, he feels stupid.
Derek tilts his head to the side, but says nothing.
“I... was thinking...” He bites his lower lip.
“You do that a lot,” Derek says helpfully.
Stiles makes a face. He knows he’s blushing. God damn it. “Nothing. This was a stupid idea. I’m going now. Forget... I was here.” He takes a step back, but Derek is on his feet and in Stiles’ personal space in a heartbeat, staring down at him. It’s only a few inches, but Derek is taller, and it’s enough. Stiles hates himself for feeling small.
“What is it, Stiles?”
“I want to hug you.” He stands his ground; he gives himself that, but he’s shaking like a leaf. “A manly platonic hug but a hug nonetheless. When was the last time someone hugged you?”
Derek’s mouth falls open, and he looks so stunned it’s almost funny.
“I get to hug people all the time. You get to twist their arms and break their bones.”
Derek tries to speak, but nothing comes out. Then he exhales, growling. “You’re crazy.”
Stiles nods. “Only crazy people offer to hug people who’ve threatened to rip their throat out, but I’ve been thinking... A pack needs a strong leader. You’re too stoic, too unattached. I’ve lost things, too, you know... but I have my dad, and... he loves me. Human touch. Something. You need something normal.”
“Hugging you is normal?” Derek asks, still sounding stunned.
“Caring is normal,” Stiles says softly, reaching out. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” He lets his hand hover close to Derek’s arm, then swallows and bravely pats Derek twice, leaving his hand there. “I... want you to know that I’m grateful that you’ve saved my ass many times. That’s... nice of you.” He’s just blurting out words now. He has no idea what he’s doing, or even why he’s doing this. He just knows that Derek deserves it. There’s no one else, and that thought is beyond sad, and Stiles pushes it down as fast as he can.
Still, Stiles is here.
“Can I hug you?” he asks tentatively. He hasn’t let go of Derek, but it’s such an awkward insignificant touch. That won’t do. It has to be something real, something good, something warm. Stiles is good at hugging, even when it’s awkward, like with his dad.
It means there’s a chance Stiles is right. Derek needs human touch as much as the next person. Stiles takes a step closer, slides his arms around Derek’s middle, pausing for a moment, saying, “Don’t bite. This is not a trick. I just want to hug you.”
The grunt he gets as an answer makes him smile and he lets go, moves in for the kill, wraps his arms around Derek, and just breathes. He rests his cheek against Derek’s neck, and the heat radiating from him is overpowering. “Dude, you’re a furnace.”
Derek doesn’t say anything, but after awhile Stiles feels him lift his arms and fold them around Stiles’ waist. Derek crosses his fingers at the small of Stiles’ back, and it would feel weird if Stiles thought about it but he doesn’t.
He doesn’t want to ruin the moment.
They stay like that for a long while, and it is awkward too, but mostly it’s just nice. They are both lonely in a way the others aren’t. Or maybe Isaac is, but he’s still too homicidally weird to Stiles. He’s used to Derek’s threats of pain. He knows that when push comes to shove Derek is a stand up guy.
It’s sweet, and he wants to stay there a little bit longer, but he feels Derek pulling away before he even moves. Stiles lets him go, his hands lingering a little, patting Derek’s chest, sliding over his shirt. “There. That wasn’t so hard.”
Derek takes a step back, and Stiles can’t look him in the eyes.
“You need to go.” The words are quiet, softly spoken. “Isaac is coming.”
Stiles smiles, then waves, walking backwards to the door. He almost trips because there’s always stuff lying around, but he keeps his balance and he turns around, looking over his shoulder at Derek. “I’ll be back tomorrow,” he says. “Hug therapy.”
Derek waves his hand dismissively, but Stiles sees the corner of his mouth curl up.
Yeah, he’s making a difference here. “You’re not damaged goods,” Stiles says carelessly, and maybe it’s not the right thing to say, maybe he’s not the right person to say it, but Derek doesn’t look angry. He just bows his head, shaking it a little, and Stiles leaves, grinning happily.
He sees Isaac on the way out, and the way Isaac looks at him makes him wonder if he smells like Derek - or if maybe he just doesn’t usually look this happy after meeting him.