“I’m here to apologize,” Stiles called out as soon as he barged into the loft, sentence spoken before the door had even slit fully open.
He was met with silence, even though Derek was sitting on the couch.
Derek had his head in his hands and didn’t seem surprised that Stiles was there. He didn’t even have the decency to look at him. Which was just rude, but then again, Stiles could understand that.
“I’m here to apologize,” he said again, softer this time, and Derek let out a deep sigh before he finally lifted his head.
He seemed tired, in a bone-deep, weary way, and Stiles couldn’t help but take a step forward to him.
“Do you really think this is the right time?” Derek mumbled and Stiles frowned.
“It’s the only time,” Stiles immediately gave back.
“What is there even to apologize for?”
“I’m sorry for saying that about your relationships,” Stiles decisively said and startled when Derek laughed at him.
“Why would you apologize for something that’s true?”
“Dude,” Stiles gasped and finally bridged the distance between them, grabbing Derek at the shoulders and shaking him a little bit. “This is not your fault! Those relationships were not your fault. They used you and betrayed you and none of that is your fault. And I’m sorry for saying something different in the hospital.”
“You were stressed,” Derek dismissed. “It’s understandable.”
“But it’s not excusable,” Stiles promptly gave back. “It was a shitty, shitty thing to say and the circumstances do not excuse this. And I am sorry.”
“Derek, it’s not. It’s never okay to say something like that to you.”
“You’re worried about your dad. It’s fine.”
“One last time,” Stiles said and framed Derek’s face with his hands, forcing him to look at Stiles and listen for once. “What I said was wrong and mean, you are not at fault for Kate or Jennifer and I am sorry I ever said it, even in anger and stress.”
Derek looked at him for a long moment, probably searching for a hint of a lie in Stiles, but Stiles held his gaze. He wasn’t lying and he wanted Derek to know it.
“Apology accepted,” Derek eventually said softly, his gaze warmer all of a sudden. “How is your dad?” he then asked, effectively stressing Stiles out again.
“I don’t know,” Stiles gave back, voice just shaking a little bit. It was progress, even though the situation was just as bad as before. “No news about my dad, Scott is still missing and I just—I don’t know anymore,” Stiles helplessly said.
“It’ll be fine,” Derek quietly told him. “You’ll find your dad and it will be alright.”
“I’m really not sure about this anymore,” he said with a shaky exhale and Derek pulled him into a hug.
“We’ll find him,” Derek promised him, and Stiles burrowed closer, trying to hide inside Derek, pressing his face to his neck and pretending that there were no tears prickling at his eyes.
“I just don’t know how,” Stiles desperately muttered and Derek squeezed him tighter.
“We’ll find a way. You’ll find a way,” Derek said, utmost conviction in his voice and Stiles didn’t know how it turned out like this, how this whole comforting thing had turned around like this.
He was just supposed to come over and apologize to Derek.
“Your phone is vibrating,” Derek suddenly said, and Stiles immediately reached around, fishing it out of his back pocket.
“Scott?” he asked, hope unfurling in his chest. “What? Dude, slow down,” Stiles begged when Scott immediately started talking to him.
“Come to the clinic,” Scott said, though it sounded like he was already concentrated on something else. “We know how to find our parents.”
Stiles stared at the phone when Scott hung up after that, and it was Derek who put his phone back into his pocket.
“Stiles, come on, let’s go,” he gently urged him, pushing Stiles towards the door.
“I need to go to the clinic,” Stiles told him, as if Derek hadn’t heard that.
“I know,” he gave back. “Are you good to drive or do you want me to drive?”
“No one drives Roscoe,” Stiles gave back, almost on autopilot, but he relaxed when he saw the small smile playing around Derek’s mouth.
“Let’s get going then.”
“Lydia should go with Stiles,” Deaton said, standing in front of the three ice baths, and Stiles took an instinctual step back, pressing his back to Derek’s chest, who immediately tugged him closer as well.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Stiles said, and he could feel Derek nod.
“I’m anchoring him,” he said decisively, and everyone stared in surprise at them, but Stiles didn’t budge on this, and neither did Derek.
“Derek will be my anchor or I’m not doing it.”
“But your dad—” Scott started but Stiles shook his head.
“Derek will help me find him. It has to be Derek.”
“I would say that’s a pretty strong anchor right there,” Lydia chimed in, and even though Deaton didn’t seem pleased at all, he eventually agreed.
Stiles cursed when he lowered himself into the icy cold water and Derek’s hands were like brands on his shoulders. He reached up and circled Derek’s wrist with his hand, tipping his head back to look up at the other man.
“Don’t let me die,” Stiles asked, voice thin with fear and the cold but Derek was strong and sure under his hand.
“Never,” he said, and his voice didn’t leave room for doubt. “I’ll pull you back.”
It was the last thing Stiles heard for a while.
When it was time to go back again, time to wake up and find his dad, Stiles followed the hot brand around his arm back towards the light. When he came to, spluttering and freezing cold, Derek’s hand was securely around his wrist, anchoring him long beyond the point he was required to.
Stiles stumbled towards him, seeking out his warmth as much as his presence, and Derek didn’t hesitate to pull him into a hug.
“I know where he is,” Stiles whispered, and Derek pressed his nose to Stiles’ hair.
“Then it’s time for you to get him,” he said, before he pressed a kiss to Stiles’ temple.
That night, Stiles dreamt. There were open doors everywhere, calling to him, begging him to push them fully open, to just step through, to just let them in, and Stiles wanted to.
He watched the doors appear, and he wanted to get up, wanted to look beyond them, but there was always a hot brand around his arm, a hand holding on to him, keeping him in bed, and Stiles could never quite bring himself to pry the hand off.
Snuggling back into the rest of the warm body was a much more appealing idea, anyway.