His head is loud
It's insanely, impossibly, achingly loud and it's constant
The reason Derek didn't speak much, didn't speak easily, wasn't anything but calculating and exact with what he wanted to say, wasn't by any means for lack of trying
It wasn't because he simply didn't have anything to say
It wasn't because he just had a quiet mind
It was because everything was too loud
Because if he was anything less than painfully silent and speaking only when it was absolutely necessary he would never stop
It was because he had to keep his lips buttoned up tightly, so, so tightly, because if he didn't an entire waterfall of useless things would pour out of it
Because if he didn't keep his mouth held shut with chains made of the strongest steel, he would spill out everything in his head and not be able to draw it back in
Because if he spilled out those things he would say too much
Because he had always been sort of filterless that way
But the thing is that his head wasn't always this crowded
His head wasn't always this loud
In fact, once upon a time, it was actually pretty tame
Back when he was in highschool he was sort of... normal
Mentally, atleast, if not biologically
But biological normalcy was all subjective anyway so...
Back then, he could hear everything clearly and say what he wanted to say and not feel things pounding against the walls of his mind
The thing is that he used to be able to handle things
Now he just stored up everything, every emotion, every thought, every feeling, every single thing he ever wanted to say was just hoarded up in boxes in his mind because no matter how many times he dowsed it in gasoline and tried to set fire to it he just opened the door the next day and instead of finding ashes he found things exactly the same as he had left them
He tried to slam the door, to lock it, to keep it all barricaded behind him, but that failed even more than the alternative
He tried so hard to keep only those few necessary things to say on hand
Yes, no, stop, danger, fight, dead, wrong, NO, justice, revenge, pain, protect, can't, triskelion, NO!!, pack, family...
Things got lost in the shuffle sometimes and ended up in the wrong place
Safe, home, love, happy, please, thank you, maybe, need, want, me, hurt, smile, breathe, content, quiet, help...
And it wasn't that he just ... didn't realize they were missing
It was that whenever he tried to pry one of those words from one of the hoarded up boxes an entire wall of boxed up words wanted to collapse along with it and tumble out of his mouth and he had to hold it in
He had to put his hands over his mouth, shake his head so quickly that those things would get jostled into the back, and stop himself before he said too much
It's so different from how Stiles does things even though, looking at it objectively, he doesn't actually think they're that different
Stiles' head is loud too
But instead of being quiet about it, gagging on his words and swallowing the ones that didn't fit, he rearranged them
He used his words like weapons when he could and armor, defense mechanisms when he couldn't
He said what he wanted to say but instead of saying what he meant he constructed the words in thickly veiled double meanings, or sometimes not even meaning the same thing he was thinking at all
It was a talent and Derek kind of envied it
It must be easier, he thought, to always have a quick response for everything and be able to play with your words like paint on a canvas or building blocks until they fit to what you wanted them to sound like, even if they didn't retain their original shape anymore
It must be so much easier, he thought, than just swallowing it all down and relying on everything but words to communicate because you were already so bad with them that you couldn't communicate with them any better than you did without them
But this was Derek's opinion, he supposed, and he shouldn't go around envying things he didn't understand
It didn't mean he wasn't still a little jealous
He just felt more than lost, he felt like his tongue was always weighed down and even when he thought he was doing well he wasn't... he wasn't RECIEVED well...
There were times when he thought he had said something truly clever or wonderfully put only to find out regretfully later that it hadn't been any better than his usual gruff monosyllabic replies
And so he stacked another box on the already over stuffed shelves of the already overcrowded room and shut the door behind him
He wished he could explain it
He wished he could just get it all out to someone who would care
He wished he knew some simple, quick-fix, one liner that would solve all his problems and finally make it click for people about how loud his head was and how impossible it was to hear himself speak over all the noise
Over the relentlessness of anxiety and depression and anger and greif and things that he couldn't even put a label on
Memories flooding him at every familiar sight or sound or smell of his family and his pack and his betas and the people he's lost in one way or another
Yearnings, wantings, desperations for things he once had and never would again, for things he always wanted but could never have to begin with
Articulations faltering as he was packed from ear to ear with the information he took in without wanting to because zoning out for a werewolf was a dangerous thing
Thoughts and emotions that he wasn't allowed to have
Villains and ghosts that haunted him like nightmares even when he was awake and the constant, constant, constant panic and need to keep himself alive, the survival instinct pumped in his ears like blood in his veins and he couldn't hear anything under it sometimes
It was physically agonizing some days, how much he wanted to say these things and how much he knew he couldn't
Because his head was chaos and letting it out- letting any of it out- would be like putting someone in the middle of a war zone or sweeping them up in a tornado and then dumping them into the center of a hurricane
He distinctly remembers the first night he actually considered telling someone about how much his mouth was burning to speak
He remembers staring at Stiles from across the room, throat dry blood pumping, head ringing so loudly that he wanted to bang it on the nearest hard surface just to make it shut up
He imagined it breifly in his head, how he would look crazy, how Stiles would react, how nothing he said would make sense, he likened it to one of those cartoons with the extra fast, sped-up chase scenes like in Scooby Doo
Like Derek was chasing his own tail
He thought about how it would look like a tropical storm had blown through here because he must surely cause the entire world around him to shake in chaos because that's what always happens whenever he tries to do anything he wants
When he wanted Paige, when he wanted Kate, when he wanted peace with Laura, when he wanted Scott and being an Alpha and when he wanted a pack and betas, when he wanted Cora, when he wanted a home that wasn't blood-soaked and death filled, when he wanted to remain quiet and at peace and alone, when he wanted to run away from it all....
Yes, he settled, wanting meant the world around him dissolving into chaos
And so he bottled up the storm inside him
He listened to himself scream inside of his own head and felt the storm crash into his body so hard it nearly punched the breath out of him
And on the outside he had barely changed his expression
"You ok there big guy?" Stiles asked as he glanced over the back of the couch
Derek licked his lips
This was a segway
This was the perfect chance
He couldn't blow it
He could either lie... or let the horrible truth spill out of his mouth like blood out of a wound and let himself bleed out right here on the apartment floor
He had his chance
And he decided not to take it
"I'm fine, do you want pizza?"
Stiles narrowed his eyes in a way that proved he didn't believe Derek but he didn't press that button any further that night
"Pizza sounds great, pepperoni?"
Because he didn't want to say "Pepperoni is my favorite too" because then he would feel compelled to talk about how Laura used to like pineapple on her pizza and how they'd fight over it and how much he wished he had Laura to fight with now, how much he missed her, how much he missed his pack and his family and-
And that was what would happen if he said a single word
So he grunted and picked up the phone to start dialing
He wondered, as the dial tone made a hard ball of anxiety form in the pit of his stomach, if he could somehow manage to get Stiles to teach him how to order this stuff online so the phone would no longer be necessary
He wants things
There seems to be this misconception going around that Derek is a cyborg and it isn't...
It isn't like that
People seem to think that because he doesn't know what to ask for he must obviously not want anything at all and he'll be satisfied with what he's given
It isn't like that
People think that because the word "No" gets caught in his throat sometimes and he can't scream it loudly enough that he must like what's happening to him
It isn't like that
Because Derek.... he wants things
He wants things that he can't have
He wants a family and a pack
He wants someone who loves him, who he can come home to at night and who will listen to him when he speaks
He wants peace and contentment and freedom
He wants to have people who he can never have like his family, like his betas, like the McCall pack and like... like Stiles...
He wants things that reasonably should seem attainable
He wants a home that doesn't smell like death and that won't be invaded every five minutes
He wants a place to settle so he doesn't have to keep moving all the time
He wants to be taken seriously and listened to instead of drowned out all the time
He wants the word "No" to mean no and for his consent to be given not taken by force
He wants to keep his autonomy in tact
He wants to keep his body his own
He wants to sleep
He wants things that are so stupidly easy to get that he doesn't actually understand why he doesn't have them
He wants a ringtone that isn't some annoying beeping noise that makes him groan every single time he hears it
He wants screened in windows so he can feel the breeze at night without worrying about creatures coming in through them (at first it was the birds, now it's things like dread doctors and chimera, ugh)
He wants that chocolate turtle topping stuff on his vanilla ice cream
He wants a dog, in all honesty, you know, so that he feels atleast a little less lonely, so that atleast there will be another heartbeat in his house
He kind of wants to binge watch Once Upon A Time, actually, it seems like a show full of hope and happy endings and he could use some of that in his life
And he had always sort of grown up on fairytales
Fairytales where the Big Bad Wolf was the good guy who never ate Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother and was legitimately trying to help Little Red find a better path to her grandmother's home
But that's just the thing
He wants things he's not allowed to have and he wants too much
And he can't want anything
He isn't ALLOWED to want anything because when he wants things bad things happen
That was already sort of covered
So he keeps the things he really wants bottled up and held under his ribs like a cage because there's nothing else he can do with them
And so when it comes to asking for things, he's gone without it for so long that he just ... doesn't even know how anymore....
He doesn't really know how to do anything anymore
So that's sort of why Stiles' question catches him off guard
"Do you want to eat before or after the movie?"
It should be easy right?
Having an answer should be easy
And honestly he kind of wants to eat after so he's more alert during the movie, it isn't like he really thinks he'd fall asleep but he prefers being as alert as possible during movies and he has a tendency to get drowsy with heavy food...
But then Stiles might get hungry earlier than he does or maybe he just doesn't want to fill up on popcorn and has no self control (and really, that isn't even pushing the boundaries of logic)
Maybe he doesn't though, maybe he wants to make sure they have plenty of time to get to the theater and would prefer not to be rushed through dinner
Maybe it'll be too late to eat after though, what time does the movie start?
Oh God what are they even seeing?
He sort of forgot, wich is a horrible, terrible thing to do, especially since this is supposed to be a DATE
Stiles... Stiles asked him out on a date and even if Derek could never ask for himself he couldn't reject Stiles
He wasn't THAT strong...
"Whatever you want to do, I don't care," is what ended up coming out of his mouth
Harsher than he intended
But the point was the same
He would rather Stiles be satisfied than be satisfied himself
"No, dude, I'm asking you, what do you want to do? I'm trying to figure out a good time to see the movie,"
Derek, if anything, was now even more caught off guard
"I really don't care Stiles, whatever you want to do,"
Stiles looked dejected somehow
Off-put and frustratingly disappointment
"I just... whatever you want is perfectly fine," he tried to amend, though he felt like it was probably too late to fix
"Why don't I just see what reservations are available?"
Derek nodded mutely and headed into the kitchen, standing with the refrigerator door open and taking a slow, deep breath, just trying to keep himself together because he knew if he smacked himself in the head like he wanted to Stiles would hear him
He grabbed a grape soda even though he didn't really want one because he needed an excuse for having opened the refrigerator in the first place
He needs help
It isn't really something he thinks about alot- or at all
But it was just....
He knows objectively that he needs it
He needs alot of help with alot of things
His laptop, for example, has a very annoying habit of changing the volume at random times with absolutely no indication and upsetting Derek's sensitive hearing when it's not on the usual 20% level
He really needs someone to teach him what's wrong with it and how to fix it
And he hates having to stand on ladders when he's alone and he knows that's... that's weird... but he just prefers that if he should fall- no matter how unlikely that is- that he'll have someone who can look out for him and atleast move the hammer out of the way
He wishes he had someone to put the bandages over his wounds when they take too long to heal instead of just having to patch himself up
And he knows that this? This loudness in his head? That isn't normal
He knows that he should be more vocal and that he shouldn't be as shy as he is but he also doesn't know how to help it
He needs someone who will come to his aid when he calls for them and he needs someone who won't mind all of his stupid little habits and is so much better with communication than he is...
He wants someone- company, you could say
He NEEDS someone
Because werewolves weren't meant to be alone
Least of all born werewolves, they're especially sensitive to loneliness and can't be left for too long without having someone in their corner or they'll end up turning into a sad excuse for a creature that somewhat resembles a neglected poodle
Or so he's been told
And honestly he would really prefer not to appear that way to anyone...
But that was just it, these were the facts and he was stuck with them
Derek would prefer not to need anyone
Ofcourse, no one really WANTED to need people, it just happened against their will
And before Derek knew it he found himself needing people
He needed the pack and he needed what few remnants of his past that he could cling desperately onto
He hated needing, possibly the most of all
But here he was- absolutely stuck
It didn't mean he was used to needing though, ofcourse, because he wasn't
And he didn't think he'd ever quite get used to it
"Hey big guy you need any help with that?"
Derek turned around so fast that he really thought he might just have developed some sot of wip lash
"What?" he asked obliviously
"You? Help? Need?" Stiles repeated, now only a few feet away
Yes this is what Derek had hoped for the longest time
Having help putting the lightbulbs in with Stiles standing below him and handing him equipment and offering to help him...
It was too good to be true, probably, but Derek rubbed his eyes half-swollen, sleep lost, and shook his head
"I'm fine," he mumbled
Stiles looked almost offended at that
"You sure? You don't...you don't need ANY help?"
And yes, Derek did need help
He needed alot of help and on top of it this was one of the things he wanted most out of life and here he was, intentionally telling it no
But he couldn't help it
He couldn't stop himself before the words were out of his mouth again
"No Stiles, I'm really fine, don't worry about it," he insisted
Stiles looked highly skeptical at that but sighed in defeat, shaking his head
"Let me atleast make sure you don't fall alright? And that isn't a choice, you want me out of here? You have to come down on your own, Stilinski family rules, got it?"
Derek just nodded mutely again because .... atleast it was a start
A pushing painfull start that he still wasn't entirely sure if he wanted but... a start none the less
He was afraid
Derek was actually never a very brave person to begin with, when he really thought about it
He wasn't so much afraid of the hunters or the wendigos or the other things that go bump in the night
Because at the end of the day, when all is said and done, atleast he knew how to handle those
No, what really bothered him more than anything else was being alone
He hated being alone and he continued to live out his worst fear time and time again and he just didn't know how to handle that
He was sure that somewhere, somehow, he was supposed to be learning from his past experiences with it but he just wasn't sure... how...
And honestly that fear of repeating, that ... anxiety that he was just going to be repeating himself and finding himself alone again... it drove him crazy some nights
He couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat, the worry was too much it was all powerfull and all-consuming
The nightmares helped when his waking mind couldn't supply enough of a kick
They reminded him of just how terrifying it was to be completely alone in the world
And they threw in a few of his other fears too, and memories turned into tragedies even worse than they were before, it was a cocktail of horror
He found himself some nights trying so hard to stay awake and having such a hard time with it
He didn't want to sleep tonight, the nightmares had been chasing him lately and he was too afraid to close his eyes
Yet he kept stirring and jerking awake and clawing desperately at the coffee table, trying to find something to help him stay awake
He had no idea what that something could be
But Derek just wasn't brave enough to face his own mind, not even in his sleep
He felt like everything was too much and his fear was getting out of control
He found himself curling in on himself, arms wrapping around his chest and abadamon
He was so exhausted though
So freaking exhausted that he couldn't even concentrate, his senses were dull and numb from over use and he could barely hear anything on a human level, much less a werewolf level at this point
So it was little surprise to him actually, when Stiles managed to sneak up on him and tap him on the shoulder, causing him to yelp and jump up quickly
"How long has it been since you've slept?" he frowned
Derek frowned back because Stiles was REALLY one to talk
"You're one to talk,"
"Ok, a wile then," Stiles mumbled, nodding slowly against the wall he was leaning against and pushing off slowly as he walked closer, gently pulling the blanket from the back of the couch and draping it over Derek's shoulders
"We'll both sleep, ok? Sound good?"
Derek stared up at Stiles skeptically, confusion written all over his face
Because with Stiles' history of sleep problems he really should be the last person suggesting anything to do with sleep
"Because it's been a long time since I've slept well and it looks like it has for you too,"
The answer seemed so effortless and simple that it was hard to believe Derek had even had to question it
But it still didn't make enough sense
Stiles was so opposed to sleep these days, why would he suddenly...?
"I don't know," Derek mumbled, glancing absent-mindedly over his shoulder at the abandoned couch as Stiles- one arm around his back- guided him towards the bedroom
"Just trust me, you can do that right Derek?"
It was said softly, sweetly, not nearly as patronizing as Derek had expected and to be honest he was afraid of that too
Afraid of what it meant to be getting that close
But he found himself on his back and covered in nice sheets and warmth- so much warmth.... and Stiles
Stiles who he just... could envelop himself in
And before he knew it, before he could help it or stop himself he was out like a light
That is perhaps his biggest flaw and the thing people understand least about him
He just.... cares
Even when he tries not to
Even when he tries so hard not to he just .... does
And it's unconditional and it's deep and it's the kind of caring that gets people in deep trouble because they feel so close to the people they care about
He cares with every bit of his soul and loves with every bit of his heart
A gentle, dove of a man in a world full of vultures
All he wants is to protect people, to help them, and people are always the ones who hurt him
He keeps extending his hand in kindness and having it bitten in return
Because deep down Derek has always been a lover, not a fighter
And no matter how much love has been taken away from him or how much fighting he's been forced to do that's never changed
That core of who he is has never been able to change
And although he doesn't have the blind optimism about people that Scott does he can't say that his cynicism is as potent as Stiles' and that gets him in trouble sometimes
He wishes sometimes that he had Stiles' inky black veiw of the world so he could stop himself from feeling this way
Because he cared
He cared about people without wanting to or meaning to and it hurt
It always came back to hurting
And he supposed that this one was the worst
Out of the list of all of his flaws, all of his weaknesses, this had to be the worst
How much he tries to take care of people he doesn't even know or how many times he's tried to save someone who doesn't need saving at all
His complete lack of social graces only proves to push this problem further over the edge as people seem to think he's the one with ulterior motives and trust him less and less the more days go by
Wich is.... fine he supposes
He doesn't trust people either
But he can't lie to himself- he never could- and say that it doesn't hurt when he has his heart so full of someone only to find out that he's completely repulsive to them for one reason or another
And that reason usually had to do with his personality
He couldn't lie to himself and say that didn't hurt
He couldn't just force himself to stop caring about anything or everything, it just wasn't in his nature
And so here he was, loving too much again with a heart that wouldn't quit
Acting like a kitten in a room full of lions
And really, he was quite used to it by now
It didn't make it any easier to swallow and it sure as hell didn't make it any easier to accept but atleast he was used to it
He was used to loving too much and having no one to love him back in return
Derek jerked his head up, looking up to see Stiles hovering over him and staring at Derek like he was the latest unsolved mystery on his crime board
But he was holding a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and it was just a few days into October and Derek couldn't help himself and took them without a fight
He nursed the hot chocolate like it was something important
Like it was a valuable elixir that Stiles had fought dragons to get for him
And he let Stiles wrap the blanket around him no matter how uncertain he felt about it all
"Are you ok? You've been acting REALLY weird lately," he noted as he sat down on the couch next to Derek and wrapped an arm around him
"You don't have to be a werewolf to hear that lie," Stiles scoffed
Derek just closed his eyes and took a deep breath, leaning against the back of the couch and taking a longer sip of hot chocolate
Stiles wasn't getting anywhere with this tonight, that was for sure
So he just shook his head and leaned back, silently, physically encouraging Derek to lay on him, to LEAN on him, to- for once- take what he needs from Stiles instead of only letting himself take what he thinks he's allowed to have
Wich is pretty much nothing, actually
He can't say that he's surprised, as much as that hurts him to admit
They moved to the bed before too long but not much changed
They were just... soaking eachother in for now
Cuddling and touching and just letting themselves get close
It was nice, even peacefull in a way, and when Stiles glanced over he found Derek asleep in his arms
Well, Stiles thought, atleast this was progress
He wasn't going to give up, that was for sure
Derek Hale deserved the best things in life and he was going to make sure that Derek finally got them- come hell or high water
Because here's a thing about Stiles
When he loves, he loves too much too
He loves unconditionally too
And he loves Derek
He loves Derek more than words can describe
"You know you're allowed to have what you want, right?"
The question comes as such a shock to him that he isn't even sure he heard Stiles right
"You know you're allowed to ask for what you want, right?"
The wide-eyed look on his face must not have been very impressive because Stiles kept going
"You know you're allowed to want things, right?"
The deep sigh that Stiles let out must be confirmation of how unimpressed he was
"Look at you, you look like a guilty puppy," Stiles sighed, cupping Derek's face gently and rubbing his thumbs against his beard-covered cheeks
"Derek, I want you to want things, I want you to ask for things, I want you to have everything you've ever wanted and more, you understand?"
No he didn't understand
And so he did what he did best- he stayed quiet
And Stiles inhaled
He waited like there was something to come
And when nothing ever did he leaned down and captured Derek's mouth in something that could only be described as drowning
It was thick and warm and passionate and relentless, like ocean waves crashing into him
He barely had the chance to breathe and he wasn't sure what was up and what was down at that moment
When Stiles finally pulled back he left Derek chasing his lips and looking broken and desperate
The werewolf's lips were red and abused and he looked thoroughly wrecked
"You listen to me Derek Hale," he breathed, stroking his cheeks gently again as he stared down into his eyes
"I love you, you got that? Do you know what that means? That means I'm INVESTED in you, your happiness, your peace, everything about you, it's part my life now buddy- YOU'RE part of my life now and I don't let people in my life have a sucky time if I can help it, so some things are going to start changing around here,"
Derek swallowed, staring at Stiles as if he were laying down some sort of unbreakable rules
"We're going to start with you telling me something you want- anything, it doesn't matter, ok?"
Every fiber in Derek's being screamed "NO!" at him as loudly as it could but there was a part of him
A small, new-found part, that just wanted to please Stiles
That wanted to listen to Stiles, believe Stiles, be good for Stiles
And if Stiles wanted him to ask for something, wasn't that really the least he could do?
The problem was, he was never any good at asking for things
So he thought for a moment
He thought hard
He was so quiet that at some point Stiles had rolled off of where he had been straddling him and was now gently kissing patterns against his face before he could really even register what was happening
"This," he finally said
Stiles looked up, pausing and raising his eyebrows at Derek
"I want.... I want this," he said quietly
Stiles tilted his head, not sure yet what he meant
But he thought about it and he supposed that THIS was something special
This was something amazing and spectacular
This, laying in bed on a rainy night with eachother under the warm blankets, tangled up in limbs and exchanging kisses, slow movements and making love and just soaking in eachother's pressence
"Ok," he nodded
It wasn't quite what he wanted to hear- he had been hoping for something that he could actually DO for Derek
But this was good
This was great!
This was progress
And he would get better, mark Stiles' words
"Good... I'm so proud of you for telling me Derek," he smile gently, rolling closer and giving his lips a few more kisses
"Such a good boy.."
Derek shuddered and Stiles smirked, starting to trail kisses down his throat
It would take time to work Derek out of the anxiety fueled, pressure-filled shell he had had no choice but to construct around himself but they would get there
He was certain of that