Stiles remembers being in love with him. He remembers a love so profound that he couldn’t help but stop and stare each time he entered a room. He remembers the pleased smile on his face as Stiles, blushing and stammering, asked him out the first time. He remembers the touches, and the looks. Remembers the heated whispers and murmured sighs.
He remembers, and the memories aren’t fond anymore, they’re tinged with sorrow now, with regret.
Stiles doesn’t know how he didn’t see it before, how it didn’t register that it was all an illusion, a game in which he was the newest toy. He’s the Sheriff’s kid, and he didn’t see it, it it makes him so ashamed of himself, for not having caught the signs and run, run as fast and as far away from the man he loved as soon as humanly possible, if only to avoid the heartache.
But hindsight is 50/50, as they say.
Now Stiles recognises the looks that are sent his way, recognises the comments for what they are.
And so there is no hesitation when he closes the door behind himself, never to return, and the tears that escape when he phones his dad to let him know he’s coming home are mostly ones of relief (even if he sheds some of them in pain too).
Because the man he had lived with for the last couple of years was not the man he thought he fell in love with.
Oh, Stiles is sure that he was loved, in a way. To the best of the man’s abilities. But what he loved had not been Stiles himself, what made Stiles, Stiles, but only the image of Stiles he had in his head, what Stiles at his side meant to others and to his own standing. Trying to make Stiles fit into the copy instead of the other way around.
And Stiles realises that in the end, he too, only loved the image of the man he lived with, and not the man himself.
So Stiles leaves, and doesn’t look back.
Because theirs was a shallow love.
And maybe later, he will find someone that will love him as completely as he will love them.