He was scared. No… he was terrified.
As Derek Hale stared up at the lit window of Stiles’ room and watched as a silhouette moved around, clearing pacing, he felt his heart tighten.
He wanted to turn around. He wanted to get the fuck away from this house but he knew he needed to tell Stiles the truth. He had to clear things up before he started getting his hopes up about stuff that will never happen.
He couldn’t go through that again. To have that feeling that maybe there was something there only to have his misleading desires crushed and his heart pummeled.
Taking in a deep breathe, Derek closed the small distance between him and the Stilinski House and then scaled the walls, using the tree nearby as a lever to push himself closer. He heard voices inside, a conversation but he was too agitated to concentrate much on it.
“If you’re working alone, wear a mask.”
“I’m not afraid to be seen standing up these guys.”
“The mask is not for you, it’s to protect the people you care about.”
His hands curl around the window pane and Derek slipped through the small opening that was just wide enough for a body his size to fit through. He should be worried that Stiles had a habit of leaving the window open like this but for some reason he found it reassuring.
Speaking of Stiles, the human who had been engrossed in a movie playing on his computer spun around in his seat and jerked at the sight of Derek standing by the window.
“Jesus!” He cursed, his heart rate spiking from the shock.
Now that he was here, standing in front of Stiles, Derek felt his gut tighten and his stomach turn. His palms became sweat and to stop himself from wiping them off his jeans, he curled them into a tight fist.
Scott’s voice played in his head: Look, whatever it is that’s going on between you two, fix it. You need to either label it or let it go.
After everything that happened, after the trauma everyone suffered, somewhere along the way, Derek and Stiles had become closer.
Not due to proximity but due to choice.
It started small, a smile here and there when no one was looking. Then it turned into touching, a hand on the forearm, their bodies brushing against one another when they happened to pass by. Derek didn’t know what was happening but he liked it.
He thought it was just something that would eventually go away.
He had waited for it actually.
He had waited for the day Stiles would look over to him whenever he was at the loft and there would no longer be a smile on his face. He had waited for the day when Stiles would walk past him and Derek’s body would react and buzz, already preparing for that contact only for Stiles to move out of the way and give Derek more than enough room to pass without them having to touch.
He had waited but it never happened.
He thought it would stay hidden but it didn’t.
Scott noticed and because he cared about his best friend, he came to Derek’s loft and told him exactly what Derek didn’t want to hear. That Stiles felt something for him and that Derek was not going to lead him on.
So here he was, standing in Stiles’ room. And he had no idea what he was going to say.
“What’s up?” Stiles asked when the silence became too much for him.
Derek looked behind him to see Batman playing. He opened his mouth to maybe talk about that, anything to ease the growing knot in his stomach but his tongue was tied. Stiles stared at him, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
“Uh, nothing is up…?” Stiles asked.
Derek shoved his hands in his leather jacket, forcing his body to move as he took a stiff step closer to Stiles. “Scott came to me yesterday.”
Stiles froze at that.
Derek could hear his breath hitch in his throat and his heart speeding up for a second. A small rapid Blip.
“Did he now?”
Derek nodded stiffly.
Long fingers drummed against a desk as Stiles tapped away, his ADHD clearly starting to kick in. “And what, pray tell, did my interfering best friend whose ass I’m so going to kick say?”
The werewolf glanced down for a second, his unhindered fear taking root once more. He didn’t want to label anything but Scott’s words affected him and regardless of his wishes he needed to do this, for Stiles.
Because Stiles deserved a label.
Derek had thought through everything he would say, but now that he was here with Stiles, his mind was blank. He swallows thickly and took in a shaky breath.
“He noticed some things that were… happening between us.” He stated, deciding to go for the facts first.
Stiles gaped at him for a second and before Derek could continue, the amber eyed boy jumped up from his seat, his body buzzing with emotions, his eyes wide and expressive as it had always been only now there had a hint of darkness in them, something that hadn’t been there the day they met.
It pained Derek when he saw it because he knew… It was his family that uplifted Stiles and Scott’s life and caused a domino-cluster fuck-effect ever since.
“Okay!” Stiles exclaimed, lifting his hand to form a T-shape sign for time out. “Look, you don’t need to—Scott was just looking out for me.”
“Yeah, I know but,” He paused, frowning for a second. “…I understand that he was maybe just reading into things, saw something and then put way too much meaning into it. I just came here to tell you that Scott was aware of it and that I understand there was no meaning behind—“
Stiles was a blur before Derek could even register the sudden jerky movement.
Hands grasped his face and Derek felt a warm, solid body press up against his, soft pillows covering his lips in a sweet, long kiss. He stood there, feeling Stiles shift his body to get closer, feeling his hands, warm with small callouses on his fingertips stroke his cheek.
And he gave in.
He closed his eyes, welcoming the feeling of another body against his, a body of someone who he knew and whom he trusted, his hands moved to hold onto Stiles’ waist, feeling that lean body. He gave an experimental squeeze to the small of his back and felt a small shift of muscle under his fingers.
Stiles moved his lips slowly against Derek’s, tilting his head to the side to get a better angle. His tongue was warm and he tasted like cherry flavored coke.
The kiss was soft and sweet and Derek couldn’t remember the last time someone kiss him like this. As Stiles’ sucked on his bottom lip, a distant memory came to mind, followed by another and another and… and all those horrid memories ended the same way.
Derek wrenched himself away Stiles, their lips leaving each other’s in a wet pop. Derek took a wide step, putting as much distance as he could between him and Stiles. Whiskey eyes started back at him, darker than before. Stiles stood there, his hands still raised from where they had been holding Derek before they dropped limply to his sides.
As Derek stared back at him, he felt that all-consuming fear return once more. He opened his mouth to speak but all he could muster was, “I’m sorry- I-“
He spun around and with speed only a werewolf had, he slipped out of the window and disappearing into the night.
The loft was silent. And cold.
As Derek stood by the large window, staring out into the black night, he tried to understand why he did what he did.
How could he have allowed Stiles to kiss him? Why did he kiss him back?
Last night kept playing over and over. The ghost of Stiles’ lips on his lingered and it was a constant reminder of what Derek did.
What was he thinking? How could he-
Every muscle in his body tensed up almost painfully. His head snapped up as he stared at the reflection on the right, revealing a blurry Stiles who stood far behind him. Derek tried to breathe, tried to move but he couldn’t.
How could he not have heard the loft door open?
“Derek.” Stiles called out again, this time more firmly, demanding to be heard.
He stepped closer and Derek clenched his jaw. His arms that were crossed over his chest tightened and he felt his muscles tense up, his body preparing for fight or flight.
He heard Stiles sigh behind him. “Look, can we just take about what happened? I’m sorry okay! I read the situation wrong and I came up with some wild conclusions which was clearly bullshit, given how you reacted.”
His heart clenched and Derek wanted so badly to turn around but with every word Stiles spoke, the pain that had always been there resurfaced. Along with that pain, came their faces.
Their kind eyes.
One pair pure. The other two deceiving.
Stiles paused, clearly waiting for Derek to speak but the werewolf couldn’t seem to find his voice.
He wanted to fall back into the Angry Derek, the one who just had to glare and anyone making him feel like this would back off instantly. He wanted to go back to that Derek but he knew, if there was anyone who would see through it, it was Stiles.
He had no idea how to explain this to Stiles, anyway. He never had to and he never thought he would have to so instead he bit his lip and ducked his head in shame.
Stiles sighed sadly. “All right. Message clearing fucking received. I’ll leave you alone.”
The smell of pain and heartache filled the loft, reaching Derek, suffocating him, surging him, screaming at him. Stiles’ heavy footsteps echoed through the silent loft, bouncing off the wall and Derek, gritting his teeth, forced his body to turn around.
“Stiles.” He called out.
The younger man stopped in his tracks. He stayed there with his back to Derek for a beat before he looked over his shoulder, slowly turning around, his eyebrows raised and his eyes wide like before.
He swallowed but said nothing and Derek tried to find his words. He tried to think of something to say.
Silence filled the loft.
Stiles’ lips tugged up into a sad smile. “It’s okay. You don’t have to like let me down easy and shit. I get it, dude. I mean, I feel like a fucking idiot but I get it.” He nodded with false enthusiasm. “Happens, right?”
Derek found himself shaking his head. “It’s not that.” He said, his voice deep, laced with emotions.
Their eyes flashed through his head and then he replayed the outcome.
“I can’t be with you. I can’t do that to you --” Derek cut himself off.
He stared desperately at Stiles who waited for him to continue. “You do not deserve that kind of crap in your life after everything you went through. You don’t need that.”
Stiles, who had been slowly drawing nearer to Derek as he spoke, stopped and tilted his head to the side. “Derek, what are you talking--?”
But Derek spoke over him, the words finally spilling out, “I mean, shit happens to the people that get close to me. Every time I try to find some form of happiness, people get hurt. They always get hurt. And I have shit that’s going on in my head.”
Stiles stepped closer, mouth agape.
Derek continued. “Really dark stuff and I can’t put that on you. You’re still young and you have a chance to brighten that light inside you. It’s too late for me and I understand that and I’ve accepted that but you can’t-- I can’t do that to you, not to you---“
Hands cupped his face, causing him to stop.
Derek swallowed thickly, feeling that knot in his stomach tighten with fear and worry. He stared into those warm amber eyes that always made him feel like there was something inside of him that wanted out.
He never understood what it was, but whenever he was around Stiles, he felt it.
It was buried beneath the darkened memories of his past, tugging and struggling, desperate to break free.
“Derek.” Stiles said softly, his voice soothing.
He looked at Stiles, willing him to understand with his eyes that this was for the best. He was waiting for Stiles to give him a sad smile and tell him he understood, to let go of him and walk out.
Whiskey eyes remain locked with his.
“We all have a darkness in us. The only thing we can do is find whatever light this world has to offer and grab onto it.”
He stepped closer to Derek, his thumb moving back and forth.
“And that’s what I’m gonna do.”
And then he kissed him.
Derek sighed, closing his eyes, taking his light and grabbing onto it.
The month that followed was like a dream. A dream that Derek never wanted to wake up from. He couldn’t remember a time where he had laughed and argued with someone so much. He couldn’t remember a time where he felt safe to be himself, to let his angry side out and to have someone not walk away from him for it.
They were happy and everything was perfect… but like every bright light, it soon burnt out.
It started small.
He felt that dark, empty feeling creep up in him while he was with the McCall pack. After Derek and Stiles told everyone about their relationship, Derek had made more of an effort to form some sort of bond with the others.
He ignored the feeling, not wanting to admit it just yet. He shoved it down and smiled along with everyone, letting the light Stiles brought into his life overpower that feeling.
He tried to ignore it until one day he couldn’t anymore.
He felt himself slipping with each passing day. Stiles noticed immediately and one night at the loft he asked Derek about it but Derek had shaken his head, leaned over to press a kiss against his lips and told him it was nothing.
And he had hoped it was.
He had hoped that the feeling was only momentary but it remained there. And it started affecting the people around him like he had feared. He laughed less with everyone. He talked less, preferring to remain silent and whenever anyone asked him something he would either ignore them or gave them a short answer.
Stiles noticed and Derek saw the hurt in his eyes when he would tell Derek something interesting that he discovered and was met a fake smile and faux-interest.
Soon, Derek started drifting away and started isolating himself in his loft. He didn’t want to hurt Stiles any more than he already had and to see the pain in his boyfriend’s eyes was more agonizing than the feeling that consumed every night as he laid awake wondering when Stiles would open his eyes and realize what Derek had been telling him all along.
He was no good to be around.
He was dark and he had shit going on in his head, and his being near people only caused them pain.
The heavy, loud metallic sound of the loft doors sliding open pulled him out of his clouded thoughts. He smelt the sweet, spicy scent of Stiles as he entered.
Derek also smelt the pain and he knew what was going to happen.
He stayed where he was, leaning back again the table by the window, looking out, watching as long trails of rain ran down his windows, watering the night before him. He tried to draw comfort from the rain like he away did but all he could focus on was Stiles’ sneakers thudding across the loft, drawing closer and closer to him.
He came to stop next to Derek and the werewolf turned his head to see a sad and pained expression on his face.
He swallows thickly and waited for the inevitable.
“I called your cell and you didn’t answer.”
Derek nodded. “Yeah, I know I was… busy.”
Teeth sunk into Stiles’ lower lip as he stared at Derek, not needing to be a werewolf to hear that lie.
A thick tension built between them. An undercurrent of what was to come. Derek’s heart was pounding against his chest and he felt that fear that he had been trying to keep at bay slowly push through his barrier. He clenched his jaw, holding onto whatever strength he had.
“We need to talk.”
As those words hit him, Derek dropped his eyes and his head, staring down at his feet. Stiles moved closer.
“I know.” He cut Stiles off. “And I get it, I do but I’m trying Stiles. I’m trying to not let this thing get the better of me, I’m trying to be a better person—“
Movement in his peripheral drew his attention back to Stiles to see the human shaking his head at Derek. “No, Derek.”
His heart dropped.
Stiles swallows, and Derek saw the built up of tears in his eyes as he moved closer, shaking his head. “I’m not… I’m not leaving you.”
Stiles closed the remaining distance between them, coming to stand in front of Derek. His chest rushed against Derek’s forearms as Stiles took in a deep breathe before he spoke.
“I get it. I do. And I went through it too. I know what you’re feeling and I came here to tell you that I’m not going anywhere.”
His throat started burning and Derek opened his mouth to say something, anything. A hand cupped his neck and Stiles’ eyes bore into his.
“Relationships aren’t just about the smiles and the joy. It’s about the pain too. It’s about being there for each other, through everything, it’s about being the rock or just the presence for that someone in your life. I’m not leaving you.”
Emotions flooded him, overwhelming him and Derek lurched for Stiles, wrapping his arms around the human. Stiles wrapped his own arms around Derek, pulling him closer. Derek felt him bury his face into his neck, felt his breath warming him with small puffs against his skin that washed over him and felt his body shielding him.
Derek squeezed his eyes shut as tears begun to build up, not believing this was truly happening.
Not believing Stiles… but the tighter the younger man gripped onto him, his arms holding Derek as close he could get him, Derek felt that familiar struggle from within as something finally broke through and it was then that he realized what it was.