Stiles checks up on Derek Hale after a frustrating confrontation with new werewolves in town, and things get a little bit too real for Derek's immediate comfort.
August 6, 2015
Derek's loft, Beacon Hills Warehouse District
Late night after the pack has handled some supernatural business, and Stiles... hasn't gone home. His dad's been working late shifts lately, so there's no real harm in it. But he finds himself parking in front of Derek's place. He sits in the jeep for a moment after killing the engine, drumming his fingers thoughtfully on the wheel. Then he gets out, locks up, and heads in.
Taking the stairs because it seems more respectful that just riding the elevator right into Derek's living room--and Stiles isn't feeling stupid enough to antagonize an already-upset Derek--he hoofs it up the stairs, finding himself not even phased by it, which he correctly guesses is Lance's doing. Then, drawing a deep breath, he gives a firm knock on the door to Derek's loft apartment.
There isn't really an answer from inside. The door, however, comes unlatched and just swings open after the firm knock. Either Derek didn't close it completely, or he was expecting company. Maybe he was looking out or listening and detected Stiles long before he came up the stairs. Maybe he used his greater speed to bound to the door and open it just enough for it to do that. Whatever happened and however it happened, the door's open and Derek is on his little couch, lying down with his feet up on the arm of it, facing away from the door.
Stiles steps in cautiously, glancing around, and slips through the door, opening it no wider than he has to. He closes it behind him and proceeds in slowly, calling out, "Hey, Derek... Hope you don't mind, but... I kinda wanted to stop in and..." he fumbles, realizing that telling Derek he's here to check up on him might just piss the erstwhile alpha off, so he finishes lamely, "...uh, thank you. For tonight. You didn't have to come, but you did." The corners of his mouth turn up in a little smile at a memory. "There you go, bein' dependable again, huh?"
Derek doesn't answer, at least not immediately. Is he awake? His breathing is so slow and steady. But then he moves, taking his feet from the arm of the couch and turning in one easy, smooth movement to sit upright. His eyes go to Stiles, and he looks up through those solid, thick brows to his not-technically-invited visitor. At least there's no rejection or, worse, ejection from the place. There's no welcome either, but that's Derek -- he's not exactly the type to talk when he doesn't have to. In a way, he's a perfect complement for Stiles, who always seeks to fill a void.
After a moment's dithering, Stiles nearly springs into motion, crossing the space between them swiftly and sitting down on the edge of the table near Derek's couch, facing him. He manages to be silent for a whole three seconds--and then licks his lips, diving into speech. "Okay, look, you can tell me to get the hell outta here if you want or make one of your 'grr' faces at me--" Here he stops to pull back his lips, baring his teeth, and raises his hands with fingers curled inward, miming what must be his version of a snarling werewolf. "But c'mon, dude. I'm... not gonna pretend to tell you that I know you need to talk or... any of that kinda expected cliché friend stuff." He drops his hands to his thighs, rubbing them absently--one of his many nervous gestures. "But, c'mon. I'm... I'm here. Y'know?"
Derek's eyes follow Stiles as he moves. His head only moves slightly, in turn, but he watches every movement, takes in everything, breathing not even slightly disturbed by it. He remains calm. His eyes travel down Stiles to his thighs, watching the hands rubbing at them, and then his attention is back at his visitor's face. "What do you want?" Straightforward and to the point, as always. But to credit Stiles, he does appear to be less stoic than earlier, somehow. Not quite as profoundly bothered to hide his pain. It's still barely noticeable, but someone who knows Derek well -- like Stiles -- will be able to see it.
A flash of annoyance crosses Stiles' features, but it fades almost instantly. His eyes flick up to meet Derek's, and he sighs faintly. "C'mon, Dude. I pulled you into that crap, earlier, and I'm really grateful you came, but... that guy was like Doctor Doom, 'cept more like... Doctor Douche. And he was..." He pauses, licking his lips, and then squares his shoulders, pushing ahead purposefully, "Dude, he was talking about your mom. Believe it or not... I get that. And I figured..." He trails off again, his gaze dropping down to his hands, which are now fidgeting in that absent way of his. He gives a mild shrug and finishes lamely, "I figured nobody else would really understand. Or probably even think to talk to you about it."
There's a moment happening between them. It's like a train wreck, in a way, because it's so many things yanked along by momentum, with an immovable point somewhere in the front, or in this case, between two people sitting in a loft. Derek just silently looks into Stiles's eyes. His defenses are down, so completely and utterly down. And even if it's not reflected anywhere else at all on his face, there's anguish in his eyes and loss that perhaps only Stiles can understand, of all the people he's met in Beacon Hills. There's so much pain in Derek Hale's eyes, and it's all just shut up in the oubliette that is his psyche, sealed away to stop him continuing to be hurt, to stop him hurting others. He can deal with physical pain, it's easy and obvious. The rest...not so easy.
Stiles blows a sharp breath out through his lips, scrunching his brow at Derek. He offers a smile that rapidly turns sad, looking down at his hands again, and says quietly, "When I was just a kid--like, y'know, not even ten--my mom died. It was... pretty brutal. She had a degenerative mental condition, and sometimes... sometimes she didn't even really know who I was. Sometimes, near the end, she had... paranoid delusions, and she thought people were against her. Like me." His smile tightens. "Those times, it was like she wasn't even my mom anymore. But... I was with her when she died, though. At the end... we were at least together. And she was my mom, one last time." When he looks up again, there are tears in his eyes, but he scrubs them away with the back of one hand. "Only Scott and my dad really know anything about it. And... it's probably weird and self-involved of me to talk about it now, but..." He takes a deep breath, meeting Derek's eyes with uncommon determination, and says firmly, "I just wanted you to know that, at least more than the others, I do understand. And I'm here. You... you've saved my life a ton of times, man. And even when I'm pretty sure you thought--maybe still think--I was or am the most annoying human on the planet, you've still always been there for me." He bites his lip again for a second, shrugs. "So now I'm trying to be here for you."
Derek leans forward, resting his forearms on his knees, listening to it all and taking his eyes from Stiles as he speaks. He can sense the tears, he knows they're coming. It's all uncomfortable for him, but it's not uncomfortable in a way that he dislikes being talked to about it. At least, not exactly. It's hard to deal with memories, especially memories with guilt associated, and even more especially memories with guilt associated that Derek has steadfastly failed to really deal with. He's not even sure if he can deal with them anymore.
When he finally does turn his head, casts his eyes up, at Stiles's face...is there the glimmer of wetness in them? No, must be an illusion. They don't catch the light quite like that for long. Derek's breathing has become...like more of an effort. He's keeping it even, but he has to try now. "Stiles." He starts, and his voice cracks. Which makes him frown, and that much brings a grimace to his face. He clears his throat and suddenly stands, stalking to the kitchen. He returns with two glasses of water and just sort of thrusts one out at Stiles. At least it's ice water?
Stiles watches Derek's reaction with caution and concern, and he watches Derek stand so suddenly with puzzlement, mouth hanging partly open. But then he's handed water, so he accepts it and just says a quiet, "Thanks." He sips the water, enjoying its bracing coolness on this warm night. After a couple of sips he sets the water down on the table beside him, then returns his elbows to his knees and lets his hands come lightly together, fingers slowly, absently tapping against one another in no particular rhythm. He looks uncertain for a long moment, and then he launches in a new direction. His tone as carefully neutral as he can make it, he asks softly, "Are--are we friends, Derek?"
Derek stands there, right in front of Stiles at the table. It's kind of awkward to have someone basically put a person at crotch level when they're having a serious discussion, but it's not likely something he's really thought about, or maybe he just isn't feeling like he's comfortable sitting again, more at ease when he can be on his feet, ready to spring into action if the slightest thing offers an outlet.
Then comes the hard question. Derek flicks his tongue over his lips, which isn't something he typically does. Any action other than the absolutely necessary is uncommon for him. He takes in a deeper, more deliberate breath than the rest of his calculated, even pace, and finally forces himself to sit, facing Stiles from the couch and not far away. "Yes." Just that. Nothing else. But there never has to be a question as to his honesty. He doesn't flower up anything, and the intense stare is enough to show that he does genuinely mean it. "I'd throw you through the window if we weren't." And there it is. That's the Derek everyone knows and...tolerates?
But it draws out a grin from Stiles. Standing up, he spreads his hands in a wide shrug and says, with a touch of his signature goofiness, "Well, of course, right? Defenestration is a sure sign of non-friendship." But his humor fades, and lowers his hand--drumming fingers idly against his thigh, now--to say, "So... then I guess I'm just here... because I thought... right now... you might need a friend." He smiles, just a little soft smile, and asks, "Okay?" It's a small statement, not the kind of hyperbolic verbiage to which Stiles is normally prone, but... maybe it just feels right. Maybe he's trying hard for Derek.
Or maybe he just really doesn't want to get thrown out the window.
Derek rarely smiles. It's almost like it's uncomfortable to him. But there's the hint of contentment, barely indicated on his mouth. It looks sort of like he tried to smile, but somewhere his face accidentally met a frying pan and he forgot what he intended to do. It's more notable for Stiles, though, since he knows what to look for. And those silences fall between the two of them regularly, just as they do between Derek and anyone. If he's involved in a conversation, it's because the other person is actually the one working to maintain dialogue.
He breathes deeply, more comfortable, filling his chest. Sitting back now, he spreads his shoulders back behind him, the shirt he wears clinging to his chest and not really doing anything to hide the body Stiles has seen many times under it. Goodness, but he is well-draped. "I don't...talk about it."
Stiles settles onto the couch this time, beside Derek but not too close, and nods. "That's cool," he assures. "I'm not... trying to put pressure on you or anything like that. It's just... sometimes it's nice... y'know. To have a friend." He too slumps back into the couch cushions, his expression carefully neutral as he avoids letting his mouth reflect the churning thoughts in his brain. The night left him with plenty to think about. Then his brain takes a sudden and unplanned left turn, and he turns to glance at Derek. "Hey," he asks, quietly. "You play chess?"
Derek doesn't react at first when Stiles takes the seat next to him on the couch. It's not exactly a large couch, but at least it has three distinct cushion slots on it, three places to sit. Still, Derek is not a small man by any means, and with his shoulders spread and his arms just let to fall where they will, he takes up more than just the single seat. He lifts and turns his head to gives Stiles...a look. It's a look that says "what do YOU think?!" more than anything else. Maybe he should have thought about that question before asking it. Derek isn't exactly a master strategist.
Grinning a little at that, Stiles says, "Well. I guess that's a no. How 'bout cards? I mean, everybody plays cards. Strip poker at least." He flashes his most charming grin, hoping to at least amuse Derek, and then looks thoughtful. "I should introduce you to my boyfriend, Lance, sometime. He's... way better than me at just relaxing and having a good time."
Derek tilts his head, inclining it towards Stiles for the answer to that question. "You're asking me to play strip poker." It's a question, sort of, but it's more like a statement of disbelief. He actually looks as if he's about to say something else when the real hard-hitter comes next. "What?!" That's enough to get a real reaction out of him, and it's naked, unadulterated surprise, very close to shock. His eyes open a little wider, intense as always. The pupils dilate just a hair. "Your...?"
Oh shit. Stiles' eyes go wide as he realizes what he just said. "Oh... yeah," he says lamely, offering a weak smile. "I guess I hadn't told anyone, really, except... well, Ethan found out, and I'm pretty sure he probably told Liam, but... I haven't even gotten to tell Scott yet." He coughs, clearing his throat, and tries to put on a serious face. "So, uh. Hey, Derek, funny story. I'm, uh... kinda bisexual, I've realized. And I have a boyfriend. Named Lance." He chews his lip a bit, watching Derek closely for his reaction.
This revelation is one that sort of stormily rumbles its way through Derek's psyche. For a moment it looks just about like he's been broken, somehow, like his mind just...broke at the thought of Stiles actually having a romantic interest, much less a boyfriend. He stares straight ahead, which would technically be at Stiles, but he's definitely not actually focusing his vision on Stiles, like he's attempting to penetrate the wall behind him with super wolf x-ray vision. So many thoughts going through his head. This is not his strong point.
"Uh, hey, Derek?" Stiles asks, a bit weirded out by this reaction. "You okay, dude? I mean... I figured I could tell you because you wouldn't, like... care." He twists his lips a bit, narrowing his eyes, and then abruptly he says, "Aw, c'mon! It's not that hard to believe that Stiles could actually get someone to date him, is it? I mean... I've had people interested in me before. It's not like I'm totally undateable!"
Derek suddenly, enthusiastically, shakes his head a couple of times and holds up a hand. "You...are dating someone." It's another statement that could well be a question. There's that inquisitive inclination of tone at the end, not like he finds it impossible to believe, just...unexpected. Very unexpected, especially with all of the other emotional issues this day has brought to his mind and heart. He's not exactly sure how he feels about all of this. Is he happy for Stiles? Is he sad? Jealous, even? He's not sure. He's not good with the whole feelings thing. Especially when it's something real.
Stiles grows increasingly frustrated at Derek's failure to really react. He'd never conceive that Derek actually gave a crap about his relationship status, so he assumes the whole thing is Derek just being shocked that anyone would ever be interested in Stiles. So, twisting around on the couch so he's facing Derek, one leg now pulled up under himself, Stiles says, "Hey, Sourwolf, what's the big deal? It's not like I've got mange or cooties or something!" He's a bit exasperated, based on his read of Derek's odd, muted reaction.
Derek just...shrugs. After all of that, it's just about the only thing he can really think of. He can't put a finger on it. He clearly doesn't know what he's taking exception to, what's really confusing him. Just...the whole thing is weird to him. It's so unexpected. "I...didn't think you were looking." Whatever that means. Whatever significance it has. But if he's actually gone to the trouble to speak this thought, it must be pretty important.
Stiles blinks a little... and then he chokes back what seems like a snort. For a moment his face seems to be doing a tomato impression, and he makes several short sputtering noises. And then he's rocking back against the arm of the couch, laughing his ass off with absolute wild abandon.
Apparently, Derek made a funny.
Naturally, Derek has no idea that he did this, and he absolutely doesn't know what he said that was so funny. He frowns, and it's a dark, powerful frown, as the sides of his mouth turn decidedly and severely down. Abruptly he gets to his feet again and, stepping over to the kitchen again, stalks off to drink his water in peace and not being laughed at and all. Refilling the glass, he gulps down another sizable amount of water and just roughly sets the empty glass down on the counter next to the sink.
His cheeks are a little red, and so are the very tip-tops of his ears. Is he that angry? Or is it something else? Maybe he feels awkward about all of the conversation. For whatever reason...
The burst of mirth doesn't last long, winding down into loose chuckles in the way someone who's spent a bunch of energy suddenly laughing hard. Soon Stiles is idly wiping at his eyes, pulling himself together, and looks up to peer after Derek, still wearing a grin. He hops up from the couch, wandering around to the kitchen's alcove, and hangs on the corner of the wall, swinging his body around so just his head and shoulders are peeking into the room. "Hey!" he calls in, still obviously feeling cheerful. "Sourwolf! Hiding in the kitchen is seriously not your style." Stepping fully into the room, he runs a hand through his upswept hair and explains, "Sorry--I know, I know. Laughing at Derek Hale is basically asking to be punched. It's just--me? Not looking? Dude, it was seriously only earlier this year that I shouted in the middle of the locker room that somebody needed to 'sex me' immediately." He raises a hand, index finger extended. "In my defense, this was during the whole Darach thing, and virgins were dying. It was a survival instinct." He drops his arms into a shrug. "Point is, I've been wanting to be with somebody since... basically forever."
Ugh, the Darach thing. Everybody's bringing that up. It's not exactly a stretch that holds pleasant memories for Derek. Bad judgement calls, tense pack relations, and worst of all that whole...spark...thing. He turns to face Stiles, and his face is such an extreme, bold frown that it's almost comical. Almost. But he's clearly upset about something, and it may well be that part of it is all the things that just came up in conversation. His breathing has become a little faster, noticeably. It wouldn't be so distinct if he didn't wear such thin, clingy shirts...but then that wouldn't be Derek if he didn't.
Stiles' humor fades swiftly in the face of this, replaced by a puzzled expression and a furrowed brow. "Hey," he says, stepping slowly closer. "What's up? You've got your Mega-Sourwolf face on, and this is supposed to be a 'everybody laugh at how pathetic Stiles is' moment." Spreading his hands, he tilts his head slightly as if trying to literally see anew angle, and asks, "What's up, Derek? Seriously--I don't get it. Not to return to the subject of defenestration, but you've got that 'resisting throwing Stiles out a window' look, and for once I'm pretty lost about why."
Derek turns slightly away. It's like he was going to say something, but...Derek. He's not exactly good with words when they're related to emotions and...even though he's heard so much heartfelt confession from Stiles, he's not sure how he should say something back to him. He doesn't exactly want to hurt him, especially not in a real, deep way. It's so much easier just smacking someone's head against a steering wheel or, yeah, throwing them out a window.
"So...who is he?"
"His name's Lance," Stiles explains, looking a bit confused as to why Derek is taking this track. "He's new in town, and... he found me, and... pretty much started hitting on me." He wraps his arms across his chest, more like hugging himself than the tough posturing look, and shrugs. "It was pretty rare, y'know. Someone actually being interested in me? And... well... we hooked up." His ears burn a bit at this admission, but he powers through, dropping his arms to his sides again, though his hands shift about a bit, so seldom really still. "And we kept seeing each other. And he's really--like, he insists that he loves me. And he's been really, really... good to me." He frowns, then. "He's... complicated. I dunno if you'll like him. But he's helping me with things."
Derek listens to this and slowly he folds his arms over his chest, although it's definitely not the hugging himself that Stiles is doing. But for Derek, it's as much of a gesture of fortifying, maybe insecurity, maybe even nervousness. He's unsure about the whole thing, and it shows as his "Mega-Sourwolf face" softens as he listens. So many complicated and in many ways unpleasant feelings rushing through his mind. So many things he can't really deal with right now. "As long as he isn't 'complicated' like those two this afternoon." It's kind of snappish, but he probably doesn't mean it to be. "I need to...I need to deal with some things." Suddenly he's moving again, walking with purpose towards the spiral stairs.
Stiles blinks as Derek moves to step past him, spinning on the heel of one shoe, and after a stunned moment of blinking at him, mouth hanging open, starts after him. Gesturing emphatically--not wildly, more like short, quick cuts of motion with open palms, but too controlled to be wild--he follows, stopping in center of the main room as he watches Derek head up the stairs. "'Those two'? What two? You mean Darth Overbite and... Howard? The weirdwolf from Nebraska?" He squints, as though trying to see through fog, and looks quite lost. "Look, bad guy is bad, I'm on board, but--what the hell are you even talking about? Why would Lance be like that? Why would I be with someone like that?"
Derek stops, as he has done several times today, and just looks in a meaningful way at Stiles. It's not exactly clear what the meaning is, but it is meaningful. There's some potency in it. It's not an accusation exactly, but it's more like a...connection? He's trying to say things that he is certainly not able to put into words. His brows move slightly, and then back to before. He starts moving again, back up the stairs; it's significant that he hasn't said Stiles can't come up with him, he just...didn't invite him either. Not that it's ever stopped Stiles, obviously, since he also came up to the loft without any sort of invitation.
Stiles stands there, staring after Derek, for a good two seconds. Then he growls (a Stiles growl, notably, is much more exasperated and considerably less intimidating than a werewolf growl) and starts after Derek again, sweeping rapidly up the stairs with moderate clatter, and emerges onto the roof after him. "Derek!" he calls after the broody werewolf. "C'mon, dude. I'm not asking for freakin' poetry here. I'm not even asking for complete sentences. Just... gimmie a clue! I obviously pissed you off--or at least annoyed you, since I haven't had my head bashed into anything or my life threatened--but c'mon! Talk to me!"
Derek is just standing on the roof by the time Stiles gets there. A nice breeze drifts through. It's still a little warm outside, but it's not as hot as it was. The wind is a cool one. The night might actually cool things down considerably. He hesitates, but then eventually turns his head to look over his shoulder, then slowly turns the rest of his body until he's facing Stiles. "You're persistent. What do you care, anyway?" He says it, but it's like his heart really isn't in it. He knows how invested Stiles is in this, how much he's had to dredge up that is unpleasant for him even to be here. "No, that's...sorry." But of course, the word is practically growled, and his eyes cast downward and away.
Stiles draws near, then finds a bit of pipe to lean against, for once just shoving his hands into his pockets to keep from fidgeting. "Yeah," he says, acknowledging Derek backing off the challenge of asking why he cares, and emphasizes, "Because you just admitted a while ago that we're friends. So, welcome to being my friend. I care about my friends. And you're so obviously bothered by something that I'm..." He rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "I don't know! I've got no idea what to even make of it. So... help me out, here, man. I just wanna understand. Obviously I did something, and I haven't gone sailing off the roof, so that means you're not seriously pissed... so c'mon. Spill it."
"I can't throw you off the roof," Derek counters almost immediately. "You'd just land on another roof or my car." At least it's something intended to be funny, even if it's delivered with typical Derek Hale flatness. He watches Stiles moving, keeps his eyes there when he comes to a stop and leans against that pipe. The movement of air whistles through a screen somewhere close. "It's not something that comes easy for me." His tone remains almost one of challenge, as if he's trying to fight his way out of a contentious mindset and just can't quite find the door. And he's been looking for some time.
Stiles slides his hands free from his pockets to smooth back his hair, exhaling a long, slow breath. "Thank god for that," he snarks mildly at Derek, then leaves his hands pillowed between his head and the pipe behind it, fingers laced together. He raises his eyebrows slightly and gives Derek a patient sort of look, though he also clearly wants an answer. "Dude, it's me. I'm not gonna judge you for having an inarticulate thought. You know as well as anyone that when I open my mouth, shit just comes out half the time. So just... start simple. Why are you mad I have a boyfriend?" A beat, and he backs up slightly, "Are you mad? You seem... kinda mad. Or is it about something else? Just... gimmie a clue, here."
Derek is really pleading with his eyes. Please understand what he's thinking and what's going through his head, because he's almost entirely sure he can't put it into words without things getting extremely awkward and probably being utterly misunderstood about the whole thing. "...I don't know." Which is obviously not true at all. He knows, he's just...not gifted with verbage enough to actually put it into words that can be clearly understood without this all erupting into a huge disaster somehow.
Stiles pushes away from the pipe and approaches Derek. Coming dangerously within easy defenestration range, he tentatively reaches out to rest a hand on Derek's shoulder. His fingers tremble slightly, because even as Derek's friend... part of him is still scared of the brooding werewolf. "Look. I don't mean to go to the whole 'hey, I'm neurologically interesting' place, but I get it. ADHD kids--like me--tend to have trouble speaking up, too." He gives a shrug. "So, some of us, like me, end up just kind of saying everything. It's a way of dealing." He cracks a grin. "You don't have to go that far, but... psychologists have gone on record saying that the inability to speak is usually marked by stress or anxiety. So, like... maybe just... try to relax first? Because I promise, unless it involves death, blood, or inappropriate care of small furry creatures, I'm gonna be okay with whatever you need to say. Okay?" He raises his eyebrows again to punctuate it, trying to help Derek along.
"I can't relax!" Derek rumbles, and he nearly yells it...not quite, but nearly there. He raises his voice, but it's clear there's something holding back. "Do you think, with everything that's happened, everything that continues to happen, that I can actually ever let my guard down? Every time I sleep, every time I turn my back on what's happening in this town, somebody ends up hurt, or worse." His eyes gleam, almost as if he were shifting without really being aware of it or intending to, but they ultimately remain human for the moment. "My own pack's been decimated. Or guess who picked them up? And now there's another one in town trying to do exactly the same thing that your buddy McCall did." Now his expression turns sour again, at the thoughts running through his head. "And you called me. And I had to come."
Stiles' brow furrows, but he listens intently, relieved that Derek's finally at least speaking. When the torrent of words lets up, for at least a moment, he says, "Hey, hey. I called you because we're all stronger together--and that includes you. Maybe you were never Scott's alpha, but his alpha was a dick. You're the closest he'll ever get to having a real one. He trusts you. I trust you." He pauses to lick his lips, then forges ahead. "Believe me, I get it. Who do you think, of Scott's pack, is the one who worries about things and tries to figure shit out?" He puts on a mild, humorless grin and says, "God I love 'em, but you know it's not. Scott's great, maybe even visionary, but someone's gotta have eyes on the ground, not up in the sky. I get that." A beat, and he adds in a softer tone, "But, c'mon. Derek. This isn't a fight for survival. This isn't you defending Beacon Hills. This is you and me. Me. You can basically say anything to me after the shit we've been trough. I mean, c'mon. I'm not Scott. I can't take anything from you. So just..." He raises his other hand, placing it on Derek's other shoulder, and says softly, "...Tell me."
Derek looks intently into Stiles's eyes, going silent and just breathing deeply, forcing himself to calm down. He listens, as he often does, not speaking, but the words run through his mind. He's said more, and indicated more unsaid, than usual. It's not the kind of conversation that makes him especially comfortable. The second hand on his shoulder makes him start more visibly, like he's been prodded with something electric. Mild, but electric. Funny how just basic human touch does that to him. His adam's apple bobs as he forces himself to swallow. "...it's always gonna be me fighting for Beacon Hills. I'm just getting the feeling it's a losing game." So soft, so quiet, so different from usual.
Stiles purses his lips and gives his head a firm shake. Squeezing Derek's shoulders harder, his fingers digging in, he says, "Bull! It's only a losing battle if you try to do it alone. That's the whole point of the pack. That's the whole point of friends. You're not alone, Derek. Maybe you're not the pack alpha now. Maybe Scott took that from you--but he never meant to. He never wanted it. And you think he could have without you? I'm not even sure if he knows it, but you think I haven't noticed? You're always there. Always having an impact. Always challenging. Always making us stronger." He shifts closer, so their chests are barely touching. "C'mon, man. Some leaders lead from the front, from within. Some stand outside and challenge everyone to be better. And I'd be pretty stupid if I didnt' figure out that's how you work. That's how you've always affected me." He suddenly pushes away, turning his back, and takes several steps, one hand resting on his hip, the other going briefly to his mouth. It only hesitates there a moment, though, before it continues out into a vague shrug of a one-handed gesture.
"You've kicked my ass all over the place as long as I've known you. You think I'd be your friend if I thought you just liked being a dick? No." He turns back to face Derek, pointing at him, finger shaking slightly. "No, you weren't bullying. You were challenging. Teaching. Like a wolf with cubs. And I get that. So don't..." He drops his hand, giving a frustrated shiver. "Don't pull the lone wolf crap with me. You've been there, for all of us, since day one."
Derek watches, which is something he always does well. Always watching, observing, taking in every detail that he can as his keen eyes and pinpoint sight wash over what he may witness. At first he's very uncomfortable with the closeness. Closeness means scrutiny, scrutiny after all of this emotional turmoil means...well, it means cracks in the facade, and of all people in Beacon Hills, he's well aware that Stiles would be the one to not only notice, but to figure out what the glimpses beneath the surface mean. There's a soft exhale as Stiles does move away, taking his distance.
Derek wants, more than anything else, to just run -- to run, to get away, to put miles of distance between him, this place, and Stiles. But he knows he's been called on it. He can't just let it go. Hm. Could he possibly throw Stiles off the roof and have Stiles survive without serious injury? He could just throw him onto another rooftop nearby. It would take him a long enough time to get back up to where Derek is that he could get away without actually discussing the issue.
Stiles stands there, frowning at Derek, glaring... and then his body goes slack where he stands, and he takes a step back. "But none of it matters," he says in a quiet, resigned tone. "Because Derek freakin' Hale is a rock and an island." He turns away, heading for the staircase. As he draws near it, he turns back. "Well, enjoy hiding in your room, safe within your womb and all that." He draws a deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling. "I'll go. I didn't come here to harass you. But you decide you want to talk to me... you know how to find me. Hope you do." And then he goes to descend the stairwell and make his way out.
It's definitely not Derek's style to go running after Stiles, or to stop him physically. He could do it, but he won't and doesn't. And so he ends up standing there dumbly watching as he's left alone, or it's intended. "It's too hard," he ends up mumbling to himself. Not a confession he would make with just anyone, and certainly not one he would say in regular circumstances. But these are extenuating, special circumstances, and this is a very special case and situation. "I tried."
Werewolf senses are easily enough to hear as Stiles, his movements betraying his frustration, makes his exit. His feet pound down the stairs, then stalk across the floor. He heaves the heavy apartment door open, then shut behind him, and somewhat more softly, his steps retreat down the stairs to the ground floor. Then the Jeep's door opens, slamming shut a moment later, and the engine rumbles to life.
But for the moment, the car just sits there, idling.
There are minutes passed in silence. Nothing seems to change except for some scrap paper and leaves whipping down the way, propelled by the wind. There may be a storm coming. The clouds from behind the jeep do seem to indicate there'll be rain.
THEN SUDDENLY DEREK, RIGHT AT THE DRIVER'S SIDE WINDOW.
Stiles, who was sitting in the driver's seat with one hand on the wheel, the other with knuckles pressed to his mouth, is deep into the chasm of his own thoughts when Derek shows up so abruptly. And he jumps, oh how he jumps. His head hits the jeep's ceiling, and he gives a soft cry of surprise and mild pain. Then, grimacing and reaching up to rub the offended spot with one hand, he reaches to roll down the window with his free hand. Peering at Derek in bafflement and slight headache, he says uncertainly, "...Yeah?"
Derek looks mildly perturbed, but at least he's not furious. This is his resting expression of annoyance. "I...will talk with you." The words come out like pulling teeth or pushing a rope or something. Word-constipation, that's what Derek suffers from. He can do it, eventually, but on the way there's a lot of straining and pushing. Before Stiles can really answer, he hastily adds, "But not here. Not now. Not today." Too much has happened, and very obviously, for him to really address all of it in one afternoon, even to Stiles. Too many wounds have been opened. And he hopes, somewhere inwardly, that Stiles can read those words unsaid in his eyes.
Stiles takes this all in with a slow nod, pursing his lips in that fair point you have there sort of way, and then reaches over to clap Derek a couple of times on the shoulder. "Right, then. Good talk, big guy. I'll be around... but, seriously. Call me if you need me, 'kay?" And with that, he reaches over to tap the radio on. He puts the car in gear and tosses off a wave as he pulls away. As the Jeep departs, in a moment so appropriate one would almost think that someone, somewhere, is setting their lives to a soundtrack, Derek will clearly hear the song that's playing.
It's Simple Minds. "Don't You (Forget About Me)."