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Catch Me (If I Should Ever Fall)

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Red: is unsolved.

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The first time they kissed, Derek’s eyes were red.

Stiles was an idiot teenager and maybe he knew that none of this could last. Falling head over heels was much so easier knowing that they might not survive one day or the next. But still, spending the summer at Derek’s side searching for two missing betas, Stiles really should have known better than to decide against reining himself in.

He didn’t do it for Derek. Not in the beginning, not in the end. Stiles showed up at the loft one day with his backpack slung over his shoulder and his laptop tucked underneath the crook of his arm because he was haunted by two pairs of terrified wide eyes. Crackles of electricity that buzzed through the air and a steel-toed boot that sunk into his stomach over and over again.

Stiles hadn’t gotten to know Erica outside of “I can be your Batman” or Boyd outside of “Tweeenty” but then again, when three people spent the night together in a basement, maybe all of that could be thrown out the window. There was no bonding experience like torture.

No bonding experience like torture. Stiles really hated his own head sometimes.

There was something about spending entire summer days in close proximity with the same grumpy-growly person that really alleviated the tension. That’s what Stiles would say, at least, when he glanced across the room to watch Derek pour over old maps with his laptop balanced on his knees and his mind wandering.

Because fuck it, Stiles wasn’t invincible. He could look at Derek Hale all day long and insist that he didn’t feel a thing, but he was only human. And only so much could not change when one week turned into two, two turned into three, and one night when Stiles fell asleep at the loft still wearing his clothes with a pen in his pocket and a notebook on his chest, it wasn’t on the couch this time.

Stiles would like to say that Derek Hale was an enigma, but the man really wasn’t that hard to figure out. There was a morning when Stiles found strong arms wrapped around his chest, pulling him into a warm body, and then that was never mentioned again.

Derek didn’t do feelings, that much was obvious. So Stiles decided he wouldn’t either.

Three weeks turned into four, four weeks turned into five.

Stiles thought that one year ago, he would’ve seen himself spending his Junior year summer playing video games with Scott, getting a part-time job, and maybe, maybe, trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. If he was feeling like it, that is.

He was a teenager, remember? Things moved so fast, Stiles felt like he’d been sixteen a day ago, dragging Scott out into the dark and scary woods to go looking for a dead body.

Stiles was a teenager. He moved through life fast and did his best not to linger on that. Or his possible future. He was a teenager and he was determined to milk that for everything it was worth.

And the night Stiles fell asleep in Derek’s arms with no reason other than he wanted to, he realized that really, none of this could last. And maybe that was the beauty of it.

Since Lydia Martin, Stiles knew better than to attempt love.

Sometimes, his dad looked at him and Stiles thought maybe he was aging too fast. The man didn’t know what he was doing with his summer, the silence between them stretched until it was gossamer thin, and Stiles continued to keep his mouth shut. He liked to say it was because he was keeping his dad safe, but he was pretty sure it was a matter of his own pride.

Pride, anxiety, emotional well-being. What was the difference?

Stiles was seventeen and two months old when Derek Hale kissed him. There was something about red eyes and sharp fangs that made Stiles’s heart leap into his chest and dammit if he hadn’t always wondered what kissing Derek would be like. He figured those thoughts all started somewhere between “I’m the Alpha now” and feral roars in the empty police station, Stiles’s heart leaping all the way up into his throat while heat shot straight to his groin.

But still, he didn’t do love, alright? He didn’t.

Kissing Derek Hale was like taking a step off the edge of a cliff, knowing there was an eventual end and not caring as long as the fall came with a rush of adrenaline that would make him feel things he’d never known before. Stiles would accept the fall if it meant Derek was falling right alongside him.

What a cliche.

At this point, Stiles had seen far too much in his life to be a giggling school girl. But he still felt like he was halfway to being drunk throughout the rest of the week, grinning at every word anyone said. Scott noticed, Stiles thought, but the other boy was far too preoccupied with Allison to ever ask.

And Stiles wasn’t the type to kiss and tell.

Fast forward to the end of the summer and they still hadn’t found Erica or Boyd. There were no more soft kisses before Stiles went home, no more lips on his own to bring him back to the real world in the early morning. Derek came at him with the hunger of a wolf and the frustrations of a man slowly losing everything, and all Stiles could do was see the bottom of the abyss as he took it.

He wasn’t losing Stiles. Not yet, at least. But Stiles could never find the words to tell him that.

And then eventually, Derek did.

Lose him, that is.

Stiles stopped coming around the loft as often. His dad was spending more and more time at the station, having re-earned his badge and doing everything he could to prove he deserved it. Stiles was pretty sure Scott had forgotten they were missing two members of the pack, Derek didn’t seem to be around when Stiles sought him out, and then the killings started to happen.

Boyd lost Erica, Derek lost Boyd, and Stiles nearly lost his dad.

He didn’t speak to Derek for a long time.

 

-

Gold: is to be determined.

-

 

The second time Stiles let himself fall, it was to eyes of gold. Eyes of gold that came to him long after Stiles had been broken.

Scott would ask how he was and Stiles would promise he never had nightmares. That there wasn’t the feeling of blood on his fingers or crusting underneath his skin anymore. He totally didn’t feel like there was still a presence in the back of his mind watching and waiting— waiting for the upper hand.

Scott would ask, eyes distant, the boy’s memory still lingering on Allison, and Stiles would answer the best way he possibly could.

He was fine. They were fine. Everything was fine.

His dad wasn’t always around to pin him to the bed when Stiles woke up screaming.

But then one night, Derek was.

Solid eyes of gold startled Stiles awake so hard one night, he thought he was still dreaming. He was on his feet in a second, stumbling across the room until his back rammed against the wall, and then all he could do was wait. Wait for the wolf standing opposite of him to come and rip out his throat; or maybe Stiles would be the one doing that this time.

Void had always known how to mess with his head. And even three months gone, he still did.

But Derek just raised one hand, blood staining through his shirt, and Stiles straightened. His heart leapt all the way up into his throat as he moved forward carefully, lifting up the bottom of the werewolf’s shirt. And suddenly he realized this wasn’t a dream. This wasn’t a nightmare.

Derek hadn’t come to see him in so long, Stiles almost couldn’t believe it was really the man himself standing in front of him. He could have almost laughed.

He didn’t. But he could have.

If Stiles thought about it, the last skin-to-skin contact they’d had was Stiles resting a hand on the man’s shoulder. Or maybe Void grabbing Derek around the wrist and throwing him against the nearest wall. But then he supposed there was that one time a younger Derek had slammed him against the wall of Scott’s bedroom, eyes flashing blue, and all Stiles had been able to do was try and forget old memories.

He wasn’t losing his mind. He wasn’t. But Derek had a way of making him feel like maybe he was losing everything else.

“Derek, your eyes—”

The man blinked the color away and all but stumbled toward the bed, losing his balance at the last moment as he slipped to the floor. Stiles was moving forward in an instant, linking an arm underneath his own and lifting the man up. Together, they made it to the edge of Stiles’s bed.

“They’re gold,” Stiles said, breathless. Derek just shook his head.

“It’s fine.”

“No, it’s not fine,” Stiles said, eyes flitting to the blood on Derek’s shirt. Once more, he lifted it up, fingertips brushing across Derek’s skin, and the man groaned. “Something’s wrong. Why aren’t you healing?”

“I’m fine.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, biting back a sharp retort.

Because this is what they did, wasn’t it? Stiles made some comment, Derek brushed him off. They could go back and forth over and over again without ever getting anywhere. Stiles was pretty sure this was exactly why he’d stopped going to the loft in the first place.

Or maybe it was because of how empty it felt. Or because Stiles could never glance over at the bed without reliving old memories and realizing he hadn’t been the only one sleeping next to Derek in it.

Like a teenager having fallen head over heels. Stiles really hated his head sometimes. And he was pretty sure he’d had this conversation with himself before.

“Your eyes are different, Derek.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Then why the hell did you come here? Just to scare me halfway to hell?”

When Derek looked at him, his eyes were tired and sad, and Stiles felt like he’d seen that look before too. Maybe during the time he’d spent at Derek’s side after Boyd’s death, the man wrapped in his arms as he shattered into pieces. Or maybe when Stiles had confronted him about Jennifer and all that Derek had done was look so broken, Stiles couldn’t do anything but turn away.

Stiles was an idiot teenager who knew better than to fall in love. He could claim in a million different ways that he hadn’t, but he knew it would be a lie each time.

Stiles knew better. He was supposed to know better.

He was seventeen years and eleven months old when he kissed a golden-eyed beta and decided it was time to take the plunge yet again.

Sometimes he could think maybe Derek needed him. Maybe he needed Derek. It was this ridiculous dance of pulling together and then pretending as if it had never happened. Stiles had spent so long after the Nogitsune pretty sure Derek had abandoned him, only to learn the man had been buried in an Aztec temple, that he’d gone from zero to one-hundred like whiplash. 

And now that was a whole different set of problems that had thrown them together once more. As if they were any better off together than they were separated.

Stiles didn’t know what they were better off at. Certainly not this.

He was pretty sure it wasn’t this.

It didn’t matter, though, when Derek kissed him like a man on his deathbed. He was something that had been missing from Stiles’s life for so long and he realized that maybe he’d been better off without that. Not without Derek, not exactly. But the confusion? The stolen kisses when no one else was looking and all Stiles could think was wait, stop, no, come back. 

That was one way to send him plunging off a cliff. And not in a good way. Not like he’d originally thought. Though, he wasn’t sure if it had ever really been a good way. Not in the end.

What a cliche.

One cliche of golden eyes, kisses in the night, and it lasted all the way until suddenly, golden eyes weren’t golden anymore. The man died in front of him and Stiles was pretty sure his heart had been ripped out and stuffed back into his chest again.

Derek came back with blue eyes. He looked at Stiles like he was apologizing and wishing him goodbye all at the same time.

And then he left with someone else.

 

-

Grey: is the line in between.

-

 

Stiles told himself he wouldn’t call. 

Not after Derek left, not as one month turned into two, two turned into three, and Stiles started to forget what the man tasted like. He told himself he’d never call. But then again, he’d always been good at lying.

To himself and those around him.

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“Hey, Derek, it’s Stiles. Look, I know you’re off being all furry with Braeden or something, but there have been a few issues in Beacon Hills. And this isn’t a very hopeful message, I know, but if you could just get your furry little ass back here, maybe we’d actually stand a chance against whatever is coming. 

Think you could do that? For me?”

Message ended.

 

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“So, you’re either being an asshole and ignoring me, you’re an idiot who lost his phone, or this is an old number that I’m just leaving stupid messages on. Whatever. I’m a senior now and a big boy, I can handle it if you’re pretending I don’t exist. I’m just a little pissed off, I guess. But there’s a new dude in town. Theo. I don’t like him, no one cares what I think, and it’s the same old thing. Just wanted to let you know. I didn’t die last time so hopefully, I won’t die this time. Just in case you cared.

Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to.”

Message ended.

 

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“I was right about Theo. Probably about to die right now. The usual. I hope you’re on a beach drinking margaritas and eating expensive food somewhere. And I actually do. I wish you the best even though I hate it.

Furry asshole.”

Message ended.

 

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“You always believed me, right?”

Message ended.

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“You’d hate me for what I’ve done, I think.”

Message ended.

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“Someone’s dead, Derek. Someone’s dead because of me.”

Message ended.

“You’ve reached Derek Hale, please leave a message at the tone.”

“I’m not a monster Derek.

Or maybe I am.

I killed him, Derek. I killed someone. A kid. A fucking teenager. I killed someone and Scott thinks I’m a murderer.

This time I think I am too.”

Message ended.

 

“I lived. Uh, I graduated.

I miss you.”

Message ended.

 

Stiles told himself he wouldn’t call after that. 

This time, he didn’t.

 

-

Blue: is just pretty.

-

 

There was a man with blue eyes that showed back up in Beacon Hills the summer after Stiles graduated. They’d all been through so much, seen so much pain, survived so many obstacles, that Stiles really thought he was prepared for the things that came with Derek Hale’s return.

He wasn’t.

Because when Scott mentioned catching Derek’s scent, Stiles showed up at the loft with balled fists, and the man just looked at him quietly, Stiles couldn’t do anything but feel like he’d been punched in the stomach.

“You’re back.”

Derek’s silent nod was enough to make Stiles go from quiet and helpless to angry and frustrated in less than three seconds. He stalked across the room, shoving a finger into Derek’s chest, and all the man did was look at him.

“A nod? That’s all I get? How about a hello, asshole, huh?”

“Hi, Stiles.”

“Fuck you, Derek! Did you ever get my calls? Do you know the kind of things we’ve all been through? We’re teenagers, Derek! What the hell? Do you know what this group of teenagers has faced while you’ve been off who-knows-where with Braeden?”

“I haven’t seen Braeden in six months.”

Stile felt some of his resolve falter for a moment. But then once more, anger and bitterness came rearing its ugly head and Stiles shoved him, making the man stumble. That was almost enough to make Stiles feel some sort of victory.

It wasn’t close to enough, though.

“I hate you, do you know that? I wish you could know that. I fucking hate you, Derek Hale. Your stupid face, your stupid voice, your stupid eyes. Why are you back, huh? Why the hell did you come back?”

The man’s face was stony but somewhere deep in his eyes, Stiles thought he could make out a crack. And in some twisted, ugly way, he wanted to see that crack grow wider.

“I wish you had never come back.”

Derek looked at him for a long moment. Arms crossed over his chest as if that could serve as a shield. Saving Derek from Stiles or Stiles from Derek, he wasn’t sure. But Stiles hated it. He hated the man in front of him so much it hurt.

Stiles thought some part of that sentence was a lie. And he hated everything even more for that.

“Why are you back here, Derek?”

“Beacon Hills is my home.”

“Beacon Hills has almost burned to the ground a dozen times since you’ve left. And what would it be then? Another home burned to the ground, huh? But this one you could have at least attempted to save.”

That crack finally widened. Widened until Stiles was pretty sure Derek was about to shatter. And he knew he could make Derek shatter. Stiles knew he had the ability to make Derek shatter, just like the man could easily take Stiles apart if he ever wanted to as well.

And then suddenly, Stiles hated himself.

He felt like he could be sick.

“Oh my god,” he said, stumbling back. The anger faded so fast, all Stiles could feel was nausea, his spat words circling over and over again through his mind. His throat constricted and he couldn’t even meet Derek’s gaze anymore, so sure it contained hurt, pain, or grief that Stiles didn’t want to see. “I’m sorry,” he said, scrubbing a hand over his face. “Fuck, I’m so sorry. I didn’t— I didn’t mean to—”

“Stiles.”

“No, Derek,” Stiles said, turning around. “I should go. Uh, welcome back to Beacon Hills.”

Derek caught his arm before he could escape.

Stiles went stock-still, gazing at the door only a few feet away. He knew well enough that he could yank away. He could pull his arm from Derek’s grasp, walk right out of the loft, and if he asked, Derek would probably never speak to him again.

That didn’t make leaving any easier.

“Stiles, please.”

When Stiles turned around, it was to blue eyes and a pained expression. And dammit, Stiles couldn’t make himself look away. Derek— the asshole— was just so pretty. Blue was just so pretty. Stiles could fall forward and let it engulf him without a second thought.

He tried to have a second thought.

“Derek, I can’t—”

Stiles really should have expected to be eighteen years and four months old when for the first time since leaving, Derek Hale kissed him. Fuck, he should have known that was the exact thing he was looking for from the moment he’d stepped foot into the loft.

Was that thing he used to tell himself? Taking a step off the edge of a cliff was all about the fall. The fall with the landing. The impact of when he finally hit. When ultimately, he didn’t touch ground just right.

Except Stiles had made the landing so many times only to fall again, he was starting to think it was a false floor.

Stiles thought it was all pretty telling until he found his back against the wall, his legs wrapped around the man’s waist, and suddenly he could see a little more red than blue. But no way in hell was he about to backtrack.

Derek kissed him like a man desperate for air and Stiles was more than okay with being that source. He carded his hands through Derek’s hair and tightened his grip to pull the man closer. And when Derek growled his name around Stiles’s lips, it sent shivers down his spine.

He thought he hated how much Derek could make him feel with a single look, a single word, a single sound. He thought he hated it, even if that was a lie.

He wasn’t some damn doe-eyed kid anymore.

But fuck if Derek wasn’t gorgeous when Stiles found himself pinned against the mattress less than five minutes later. The man looked down at him with bright blue eyes, a hand splayed across Stiles’s chest, and he nervously wet his lips, his skin alight with nerves.

“I won’t do this unless you want it, Stiles.”

Godammit. “I want you.”

“Me.”

“Yes, Derek, you giant furry asshole. Now either you kiss me again and fuck me until I can’t think straight, or my hand is going to be my new best friend again tonight.”

The man’s eyes sparked again as Derek stripped off his shirt. And Stiles had totally never thought he could write poetry about Derek’s abs, but maybe he could. Just… not when he was lying on his back in Derek’s bed with a steady hard-on that he was really hoping would be taken care of tonight.

Welcome back to Beacon Hills.

Derek kissed him again, Stiles squeezed his eyes shut, and hated himself just a little bit less. But that was their thing, right?

Self-hatred with a side of ‘fix it fast’.

 

-

Green: is solved.

-

 

There was something about grey-green eyes.

The grey in them always made Stiles halt. He’d look at Derek and wondered what the hell color his eyes were and how was that even fair? Everything about the man was gorgeous. Nothing about Derek Hale made sense.

Grey made him think twice though. Grey made him remember that colors could always change, things could always turn upside down, and one day, Stiles was bound to find himself alone again.

But then sometimes in the light, all he could see was green. Green like the softness of Derek's henley, green like strings across Stiles’s whiteboard, green like the preserve where they’d first met.

Sometimes Derek’s eyes were so green, they hurt a little bit to look at.

Stiles couldn’t make out Derek’s eyes in the darkness, one summer into his return to Beacon Hills as they laid curled around each other, but he’d like to imagine they were green. Nothing but green.

Not that Stiles wouldn’t fall head over heels for whatever hell other color Derek’s eyes became. They could turn purple for all he cared. But maybe he found himself dunked underwater when Derek gave him one of those secret smiles with nothing but green in his eyes, and Stiles felt something twist in his chest that he couldn’t quite explain.

That night, Derek was watching him too. But the expression on his face was unreadable. Stiles wet his lips nervously, one arm tucked underneath his pillow as they laid in the silence, and decided he’d be the first one to break the peace.

“So.”

The man raised an eyebrow. Stiles blushed.

“Never mind.”

“You can talk to me, Stiles.”

“There’s nothing to say.”

Stiles knew when his heart skipped a beat. Having gotten used to werewolves, he’d taught himself to feel when there was a skip, just so he’d know whether or not he was going to get caught in a lie. Not like they always listened. Stiles had tried to talk to Scott on multiple occasions with nothing but the truth in his voice, except the boy was much too emotional to ever know truth from lie.

But Derek knew. Derek always knew.

“Stiles—”

“I should probably go.”

The man’s other brow raised and Stiles felt his face grow hotter. He didn’t think that’s what he’d meant to say, but maybe that was the easiest way he could get out of here before he did something he’d regret. Because Stiles was pretty sure he’d finally figured out the rules here. There was no wait, stop, come back when one of them was wrapped in the other’s embrace, arms, bed, whatever.

Stiles knew the rules. Even if he hated them a little bit.

He’d just never meant to fall in love.

“Stop thinking so hard.”

Stiles blinked at him. This time, he was pretty sure it was Derek blushing. The man huffed, breaths warm on Stiles’s face.

“Your heart is beating like crazy.

“It always is.”

“Yeah,” Derek said, rolling his eyes. “But right now, that’s all I can hear. And neither of us are going to get any sleep if you’re halfway to a heart attack and that’s all I can hear.”

“Glad to know you care, Sourwolf.”

He could’ve sworn the man’s face softened a little. “I do care, Stiles.”

“About certain parts of this bod? Trust me, I know.”

Derek’s face tightened. Stiles was pretty sure he’d said something wrong. But then again, he was always doing things wrong.

He made an abortive move to push himself out of bed, but Derek’s hands wrapped around his wrist before he could get anywhere. The man slowly tugged him back into bed, guiding Stiles back into his arms, and Stiles hated himself for the way he relaxed into the warm embrace.

He’d never meant to fall in love with Derek Hale.

The man’s arms suddenly tensed around him and Stiles blinked upward. Green eyes searched his face— with a hint of that stony grey— and Stiles’s heart suddenly stopped as the realization kicked him.

“Oh my god.”

He was wrenching out of Derek’s arms in a second, all but stumbling back. The man stared in silence and Stiles ran a hand through his hair, terror crashing over him in waves.

“I didn’t say that out loud. I didn’t.”

“Stiles—”

“No, no,” Stiles said, raising a hand. “I know the rules. I didn’t break them. You’re hearing things and I swear to god if you try to say a damn word about any of it—”

“Stiles.”

Stiles went stock-still, trembling a bit. Derek pushed himself out of bed, quietly padding over. The moonlight caught the man’s eyes and all Stiles could see way grey. His stomach clenched. He felt a little sick.

There had been red, gold, and blue. Stiles had survived all of those. All of those damn colors. It wasn’t fair that he was about to meet the end of the fall because of green.

Fucking green.

“Don’t,” Stiles said, because he apparently wasn’t above begging. Derek paused a few inches away and Stiles swallowed hard, shaking his head. “Don’t let tonight be the end of this, Derek, please. I’m sorry.”

The man looked at him quietly. Stiles dropped his eyes to the floor, waiting for impact, waiting for Derek to send him away or shoot him down. But then careful fingers tipped his chin upward and Derek swallowed hard, looking just about as terrified as Stiles felt, if not more.

“Stiles, I love you too.”

And the adrenaline was gone. The floor returned underneath Stiles’s feet. He stood there, dazed but whole, and stared for a moment. Because he’d heard wrong, hadn’t he? It was another false floor.

“I love you so fucking much, Stiles.”

There was no false floor. Stiles blinked dumbly at him and wondered why he couldn’t feel anything but warmth in his chest anymore. Because this wasn’t what they did. There was no landing. There was never any landing.

Not one that stayed, at least.

“Stiles?”

“Is this real?”

Derek blinked at him. Then a small smile tugged at the corners of his lips and he moved closer, fingertips ghosting across the side of Stiles’s face. “You tell me.”

Stiles was eighteen years old and six months when Derek Hale kissed him with no color in his eyes. No color but faded, human green. No hidden agenda but soft, careful love. And with nothing but a silent, sworn promise.

A promise of no more false floors. Not more landings that ended up being torn out from underneath his feet. Derek kissed him like it was the first time and Stiles only hesitated for a moment. And then he kissed the man with the decision to take one more leap. One more fall.

And it wasn’t long before he landed perfectly.