Author's note-

Okay, so I HAD to get this out before I went on vacation. So, yes, I am going on vacation for about 10 days, and I'm sad to say that I'm going to let go in that time. No school, no college preparation- I'm- scared- out- of- my- mind- to- graduate- stress, and no writing. Unless , of course, I'm struck with sudden inspiration, I will take notes. But you guys might not hear from me for about a month. In that time, head on over to my profile and vote for what you guys want in my returning One-Shot!

Chlerek Lemon (Uh- I'll try.)

Scene from the Awakening at the restaurant DPOV (Starring me as the server!)

R.t.b.T. One-Shot Series: Derek comes back from college with a surprise!

I'll most likely be writing all of these in the future, the last one is a dedication to Lauren, but pick which one you guys want first!

I give you guys the last installment to this One-Shot. Though, it's more of a Three-Shot. :/

Enjoy!


Why do things like this have to be so damn difficult...

Chloe

I couldn't... think. I just couldn't comprehend, as if my brain had checked out, like I couldn't process anything at the moment.

It was like some sort of out of body experience, but I was all too aware as to what was happening with my body. I could feel myself trembling and breathing heavily, the rhythm of my own labors lulling me into this state.

In. Out. In. Out.

I could hear Derek, his voice distant, far off. He was calling for me, beckoning me. I tried to call back, but no words came out. I couldn't figure out how to speak or how to look at him.

I couldn't figure out anything.

However, I was aware of him lifting me, vaguely, and the drifting movement at which he carried me was as if he was rocking my figure back and forth, tempting me with the comfort and shelter of unconsciousness. I wanted to give in. I really did. But something was keeping me awake. Something telling me to stay.

So I fought against every fiber of my being, every nerve and cell that desired sleep. I resisted.

I could have moaned in relief once I felt the warm air of the house. Of course, I didn't, my brain hadn't clicked into functioning mode yet, and I was able to note that I was still freezing. It wasn't really the house that felt warm. It was a mixture. Being out of that clearing, held in the arms of someone I knew to be my protector, and under a roof seemed to be enough to pacify my shudders of fear and weakness.

I could barely remember Derek setting me on the couch in the parlor. He disappeared for a moment, but not long enough for my brain- or my heart- to register panic. He came back within a few second, a bundle of multi-colored fabrics in arms. He looked at me, then down at the blankets in his arms, then grumbled something unintelligible, then tossed them onto the armchair and left the room again. Like before, it wasn't long. I wasn't really sure as to what he was doing; then again, I wasn't really sure of anything. My brain felt muddled, concealed by a tight film.

Even when I felt him tugging at my clothes, deep down I knew this should trigger some sort of concern, but, at the same time, I didn't feel the need to be frightened. I trusted Derek, who was part of the reason I stayed awake. I could understand this much. If I fell asleep, Derek would lose it.

I suddenly felt ten times warmer. The heat caused my body to react in a fit of shivers. Pleasurable shivers. My nose caught a whiff of something. Bitter, earthy... musky, like the forest. A safe forest; nothing like the deathly hollows that had nearly swallowed me whole. It was intoxicating. Without really knowing, I was positive that I knew that smell. The bite of it flamed through my nostrils, jump-starting my senses, kicking my brain into gear.

The clearing came rushing back to me and I tensed. Without them being there, I could see the ghosts again. Pleading, crying, screaming... begging me for my help, surrounding me, suffocating me. My breath picked up in an all too familiar tempo, I frantically searched the room, looking, feeling for any spiritual- something. I shivered, finding nothing, but remembering how their deaths, their souls washed through me, leaving my body as cold as ice. My breath billowed out in a puff of fog, saluting me as the last remnants of warmth left my body along with it, my own spirit following-

I gasped and struggling, sucking in air and I could taste-

The smell filled me again, this time, the weight of it sliding across my tongue and washing through my throat, like piping hot apple cider. I could taste it- him. His scent lingered so strongly around me that it heated my insides and made my mouth water. Barely, the after-shock of tonight's events began to fade as he took its place. It wasn't enough though. I needed more.

I wanted more.

I turned towards the other side of the couch, expecting to see Derek there, watching me. I wanted to collapse against him and greedily breathe in his comforting, animal- like scent until I was free from the curse of death. I wanted to take hold of him and never let go. I wanted to know that I was safe. I wanted to feel it. And Derek was the only one who could make me feel that way. I couldn't deny that anymore.

Only, he wasn't there. I looked through the room again, this time searching for Derek and not the ghosts. They were gone. Derek had helped me get rid of them. But Derek wasn't there either.

He had left for the third time and, this time, I did panic.

"D-Derek," I called, voice shaking. I didn't realize until after I yelled that the others could possibly still be asleep and, frankly, I didn't want any of them around at the moment. Being in the state that I was, I don't think I could handle that. So I called quieter this time, knowing that, if he was still in the house, he would hear me.

I waited for a few seconds, then decided to get up and find him myself. But, as soon as I stood, the room swayed and my knees buckled from beneath me. The walls blurred and my stomach clenched, holding back an uneasy queasiness. Then, I saw the floor coming up to meet me.

"Damn it, Chloe," I vaguely heard a growl, then an arm slid around me, keeping me from falling, before pulling me back up then gently pushing me back down onto the couch. I caught a fuzzy glimpse of Derek, his free hand balancing a plastic cup and an apple while he placed me back into my spot.

"D-Derek-"

"Drink this," he interrupted, shoving the glass towards me. I was still too dizzy to see exactly what it was he was holding out to me and I stared at it, unsure. Derek sighed.

"Chloe, this will make you feel better."

When I still hesitated Derek knelt down in front of me and lifted the glass closer to my face.

"I-I'm okay, I-I don't n-n-" The tip of the cup touched my lips, the warm liquid inside instantly ran across my taste buds and down my throat. I gasped, but swallowed, seeing as how it tasted and felt so good.

Hot milk and honey.

Derek grabbed my wrist and lifted my hand to replace his on the cup. I took it and greedily drank its contents, down to the last drop. It burnt my tongue and hurt my throat, but still felt so damn good going down.

"Slow down, Chloe," Derek rumbled. I could see better now and there was a slight twitch of his lips as he said this. He watched me, though, studied me, as if waiting for something to go wrong. And I didn't blame him. I could see the worry in his eyes, an untamed storm in the green sea of his orbs. The concern, the anxiety. But I also saw something foreign and completely dominant.

Pure relief.

I lowered my cup and met his gaze. The smell- his smell from before was nothing compared to him actually before me at this very moment. It was almost addicting, alluring, mesmerizing. I know I've noticed this smell before, but then, I was too far in denial to actually name what it was I was doing when faced with it, causing my senses and heart to go wild.

I was admiring.

Derek reached over to the armchair, retrieving the blankets he had grabbed earlier. I was left unfazed. I watched him curiously, all fears and previous horrors removed from my mind and nearly forgotten. Still on his knees in front of me, Derek unfolded one blanket, then promptly threw it around me, laying it against my back and shoulders. Then, he took a towel that was lost in the pile and tossed it atop my head.

I remained still, hypnotized again but in an entirely different way. My heart felt like it was ready to leap from my chest; I nearly forgot how to breathe properly. He was just so close, right there, his scent lingering, warm breath wafting across my face, hands softly running through my hair as he dried it with the towel. I had forgotten that I had been wet and I didn't care.

His eyes met mine again, slipping away from his work and I could only imagine the mess he saw in front of him. Maybe more like a deer stunned by approaching headlights, but I was too far gone to care or even be embarrassed by the fact that I was staring at him. Just him. His eyes, his high cheek bones, his slightly crooked nose, his lips. His lips that parted and released his addicting warm breath, tickling my neck and cheeks, raising goosebumps that had nothing to do with the dead. The relief still lingered in his eyes, but there was something else. Curiosity and something that made my heart slam on the brakes. His brows bunched together as if whatever he was thinking caused him pain and I wilted, somehow thinking that if I could get closer- because our proximity suddenly wasn't enough- I could make that pain go away. But it wasn't me who was moving closer to him; the opposite actually.

Derek released the towel and it fell to the couch behind me. He dropped his hand, fingers skimming over the length of my arm as he did so. I shuddered. His other hand remained tangled in the nest of matted knots at the base of my neck, using his grip to pull my face closer to his. My breath hitched and I kept his gaze locked with mine, attempting to decipher all the contradicting emotions that made Derek. The smell overwhelmed me, making the room spin again as he inched closer and closer. I was about to close my eyes when Derek slowed to a stop, our noses centimeters from touching. I met his eyes again, questioning. But he didn't seem to be looking at me anymore. He seemed to stare right through me, lost in his own thoughts, almost as if he was debating something I assumed by the quirk in his brow.

I waited, as patiently as I could might I add. I didn't want him to stop, I didn't want him to think. I just wanted him to do exactly what he had been about to do. I needed for him to do it. To confirm how I thought I felt. To prove that this wasn't as crazy as I had chalked it up to be in the past couple of days.

I needed Derek to feel the same way I felt.

I watched as the curiosity slowly died, along with the want I had only hoped- God, I hoped- I had correctly detected in his gaze. Instead, his eyes stormed with something all too familiar and just as mood-killing.

I was in trouble.

"What the hell were you thinking, Chloe," Derek breathed. It didn't matter if he had whispered it or shouted it; it still cut through me just the same. I released the tension on my lungs, a breath I hadn't been aware of holding. For a moment, I thought I saw a flicker of that want in Derek's eyes return, flaring back with a vengeance, but it was gone so fast I might as well have imagined it.

I opened my mouth to answer but Derek interrupted me, moving back so fast I almost pouted like a small child because of the distance it caused between us. For a second, the walls between Derek and I were down, now, all the kings horses and all the kings men had put them back together again. All barely in a blink of an eye.

"We agreed that we would check things out later. We; meaning you don't go off into the woods by yourself. We don't know what's out there-"

"That's why you were out there, right? Scouting the forest for something; a threat," I put in, wanting to get something else off my mind first.

"Course. But I'm the guy with the super senses, remember? I'm actually fit for the job-"

"You weren't Changing then," I interjected again. Derek blinked.

"What? No, I wasn't Changing. Stop changing the subject, Chloe-" Derek started, again trying to get on my case about being in the forest and seemingly getting more frustrated by the minute considering he was now speaking in his low, 'I'm-really-pissed-off,' voice. I stopped him before he could go any farther.

"I'm not changing the subject, Derek. I couldn't sleep. The medicine Andrew gave me wasn't working and I got myself all worked up about the house being too quiet. I figured, after the last time you chewed me out-"

"I didn't chew you out," Derek defended. I gave him a look.

"Either way, I decided to- well, since you practically demanded that I do so, I was going to go and get you." I said this with heated cheeks and shifted my gaze away. "When you weren't in your room, I panicked. I thought that-"

"You thought I was Changing," Derek finished for me. When I nodded he looked away, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck. "With the ghosts, I thought you had-"

"Tried summoning?" This time I finished for him. I shook my head, then stopped. "Well, I wasn't. Not at first."

Derek's eyes snapped back to mine, that anger and accusation flaring up again. How easy it was for him to bring up negative emotions instead of the more vital- and definitely more confusing- ones.

"What," he snapped.

"I was looking for you. I figured you would hear me, or, if you were Changing, I would hear you. But, s-something followed me. I-I was ignoring it a-at first. They were t-trying to w-warn me a-about something and I thought it w-was that k-kid, Royce. But something was t-telling me that it wasn't Royce. So I tried pulling them t-through."

"Chloe, you know better than that. You know how dangerous-" Derek stopped, jaw flexing. "Why don't you ever listen? You think I just hound you all the time because I enjoy it?"

"I-"

"You think I actually like getting on your case whenever you do something reckless? That I do it just for kicks-"

"It was my mom," I blurted. Right now, I didn't have the energy to stand up and face Derek like I usually did. I was used to taking his shit. I could handle it. Usually. Right now, I didn't even have enough control to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall as everything came rushing back to me. Not just the ghosts, but the bit with my mom too.

I didn't dare look up at Derek as I admitted this.

"I knew it was her and- I-I wanted- I thought that I-" I stopped. I heard Derek shuffle across the room, keeping uncharacteristically quiet since my outburst.

"Chloe-"

"It doesn't matter," I snapped. He was right. Out of selfishness, I had done something reckless, stupid. And if not for him, who knows what would have happened to me out there.

"It was stupid. She tried to warn me, but once I started pulling her through, it was like I opened this entire gateway. Ghost after ghost. They were asking me for help. Pleading with me because I could hear them. They were begging and crying and s-scream-" I paused and took a deep breath as an effort to calm myself. Tears were falling freely and all I wanted to do was take Derek's hand, pull him onto the couch with me, curl up against him and listen as he muttered sweet nothings, telling me everything was going to be okay. I wanted to say nothing and spill everything I had felt tonight all at the same time, but I couldn't do that unless it was Derek who was listening. I couldn't beat around this anymore. I needed Derek. I wanted him.

But, I highly doubted it was the same the other way around. Sure, we had almost shared a moment. But here Derek was, my rescuer, my protector, someone who, at brief instances, I believed to care for me more than he actually lets on, and he was looming over me again. Getting on my case- in his own words- as I, once again, stupidly put myself in danger. Which tested his limits in his obligation to protect me, and that put everyone in danger.

This realization was like a smack to the face.

"God," I breathed, staring at the cup in my hands. "I'm so... useless." I said this so quietly even I had a hard time hearing it. But I didn't doubt that Derek heard it.

"Chloe- you should-" he paused, sounding as if he was fighting for the right words to say. I permitted myself to look up at him, and that pained expression was there again. Was I really such a burden? Not just to the others, but to him? Taking Derek in, I could see that he looked worn, exhausted. As if he had wasted too many nights on just thinking and analyzing- and worrying. Was I really so troublesome as to cause him the pain he seemed to be in now?

I wished that I could blame everything on the apparent approaching Change, but I knew better.

"About what happened," Derek started again, anxiously rubbing the back of his head, unsure I guess. I braced for the explosion. I wouldn't fight back. I deserved it. As un-Derek-like as he was approaching this, I still knew what was coming.

"You should- I don't think you should hold it in, um-"

What?

"Wait," I blanched, confused.

"What," Derek asked, dropping his arm, giving me an expectant and almost pleading look. Like he was hoping I would automatically understand and finish what it is he was about to propose. The thing was that... I had no idea where this entire thing went. Somewhere since I snapped out of my miniscule coma and my confession, the direction of the conversation- confrontation- took a U-turn.

"Where's the yelling?"

"What yelling," Derek asked, feigning innocence.

"The scolding. The, 'bad, Chloe. You know better,' spiel. You had a great start just a moment ago. What happ-"

"Don't even test me, Chloe," Derek snapped, green eyes flashing. "You acted against your own instinct tonight, against warnings that you believe to have been sent by your mother. But you already validated that what you did was reckless and I know that you get it. I'm not your parent. I don't need to, nor do I like to lecture you. You've learned you're lesson. But what I'm saying is that the way you learned it was unfair and unjust-"

"Might as well have learned by some Edison Group guard snatching me up then, huh? Might seem more fair."

Derek growled and I closed my mouth. For a moment, we stared at each other. For me, I was just trying to convey the message that I didn't mean to be such a dead weight, though it was particularly useless because I was. I just didn't want Derek to believe it or think that way of me. As for Derek- God, I only wished I could understand what was going through that severely complex brain of his, because I had no idea. Especially as I watched the anger dim from his eyes, filling with that ever present pain that toyed with my thudding heart. Finally, he sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Look, Chloe. With the ghosts, what they did tonight and your mom... all I'm suggesting is that you talk to someone about it. Like that girl at the truck stop and the man you saw in the warehouse. Keeping that bottled up-" He shook his head and looked away from me, eyes scanning the room. Nervous again. He was such a rollercoaster. Half the time his contradictions left me speechless, whiplashed.

"You can tell m-" he began again and I watched him, wide eyed, heart racing, mouth going dry. I wanted him to say it, as if it was his way of accepting me, of confirming what I can only hope at this point. That Derek cared about me, liked me. That he needed and wanted me just as bad as I did him.

"-Simon." My heart tripped midstide and Derek turned back to me, features impassive. I exhaled sharply, disappointed.

"You're serious," I whispered. Derek nodded.

"You can tell Simon. He'll want to know. He worries about you, you know-"

"God, Derek," I choked out, bowing my head, pushing against tears that threatened again.

"What," he started, sounding confused.

"The world doesn't revolve around Simon, okay?"

Talk to Simon. Simon's waiting. Simon will want to help.

I jumped up from the couch and strode to the door and I could sense Derek on my heals.

"Chloe, what-" I whipped around and he haulted, nearly barreling over me. I glared up at him through blurry vision.

"It's not always about Simon," I barked. "So stop trying to push me towards him all the time, because I'm tired of it. I don't want it." Again, I turned and raced down the stairs, the image of Derek's perplexed and shocked eyes imprinted on my brain. I knew I left him in some sort of stupor, but it didn't take long for him to snap out of it and come after me again. By then, I was nearly at the front door. I threw it open and plunged outside, not even sure of where I was going but knew that I wanted to get away. I was tired of being a burden, tired of being manipulated and disappointed.

However, I knew very well I wouldn't get far.

"Chloe what are you- what did I- Chloe stop!" Derek growled after stumbling through his apparent confusion. God, why didn't he get it?

He grabbed my elbow and spun me to face him. I couldn't look up at him- even if I wanted to- without getting pelted by the large drops of rain that were once again drenching us. I had made it as far as a few steps onto the front lawn after all. Either way, I merely settled fro glaring at his chest.

"I thought you liked Simon," Derek struggled, as if uncomfortable announcing it. His grip tightened slightly on my elbow and I felt myself being pulled closer to him, his way of keeping me from getting soaked again. Damn him. Why was he able to do this? Yell, then comfort, then disappoint, then yell and comfort again. Derek was only human- at least I was one of few who believed this wholeheartedly- but for God's sake-

"You like Simon, don't you," Derek said when I didn't answer him from before. But I ignored him and squirmed, attempting to get out of his grasp, to make some distance between us, because his smell was overwhelming me again and all I wanted to do was hug him and cry. At the same time, I didn't want to.

"Chloe," Derek warned, not having any of it.

"Of course I like Simon," I finally snapped, pulling from his hold harder, leaning away from him. "I just don't-" I stopped. How could I tell him when I just barely and slowly came to the realization myself. How could I possibly tell him that there was someone else?

"Don't what, Chloe- stop struggling," he added harshly.

"Maybe I'd stop struggling if you'd let go of me," I spat back.

"No," Derek said with a note of finality that only upset me more. After a moment he said, quietly, "Don't what, Chloe-"

"I don't want Simon, okay?" I blurted without even thinking. I was just angry and sad and tired and I- I don't know what happened. That desire to confide in Derek overpowered me again and I couldn't hold it back. I just gave up. I gave up the struggle. "I like Simon, but I don't like him anymore than a friend should. He's not what I want."

I could feel Derek's gaze on me but I refused to see for myself. I wanted to tell myself that I was still mad at him, but that was just more denial. In reality, I was humiliated. I humiliated for having these feelings, for being confused, for being out of control, for acting like a child. I didn't even want to know what Derek thought of me now. I knew I shouldn't care, but I did.

"Then-" Derek breathed, I tensed, waiting for rejection or more yelling. I was surprisingly hoping for the latter. "Then, what do you want, Chloe?"

I sucked in a deep breath. He knew, there was no other explanation for my behavior, but he wanted me to say it. Why? So I could embarrass myself even more? So I could just confirm, create an opportunity for closure by giving Derek the chance to say something along the lines of, 'Sorry, I don't like you that way,' just as I had done towards Simon?

What more did I have to lose?

"I need someone I can talk to. Someone who understands. I want someone who can put me in my place." I looked up at him then, the rain tickled my cheeks. But I didn't care, I was too busy concentrating on his eyes. Green eyes swimming with uncertainty, confusion... even more pain. I knew that he was aware of exactly what I wanted, because he was the very person I needed who would understand.

"I want you, Derek." His brows bent and he continued to stare at me, as if he hadn't heard me or didn't understand, couldn't comprehend. He knew the truth, but he didn't seem to believe it. He wanted to believe it, I could see that, but he looked to be as if he tried so hard not to. What did he think I was going to do? Burst out laughing and say, 'Yeah, just kidding!' He had to know me better than that now.

"I-" I started, trying to think of what else I could say, something that would convince him, relieve him even. "It's not the same talking to Simon. I want to talk to you. I want you to be the one waiting for me and worrying about me and-"

"Chloe," Derek whispered. I waited, expectant. He searched my gaze, still trying to find the answer to a difficult analysis. For God's sake, I just put it on a silver platter for him.

I opened my mouth to point that out, that I wasn't joking around, that I was being completely and wholeheartedly serious, but Derek stopped me. He spoke first.

"Chloe I- I can't-" he said quietly, eyes never leaving mine but storming up more agony and hurt. I felt my chest seize and I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to- God I don't even know. But I wanted to be anywhere but here.

I looked away from him, the rain blending in with my tears. I struggled out a fake, shaky laugh and shrugged, trying to pass it as no big deal, like the old me would have done. The thing was that, with Derek, I wasn't the old me anymore. So the effort came out forced.

"Just- Just forget it," I managed, refusing to look at Derek, making an effort to circle around him and get back into the house, to escape whatever hell I just stepped into tonight.

"No, Chloe I-"

"Forget it," I blurted over my shoulder. But he didn't. He didn't let it go. He did the one thing I wasn't expecting him to do.

He called to me again, he took hold of my shoulder and spun me so fast the forest around us blurred. And then, I didn't even have time to focus before Derek came down on me and I felt his lips mash against my own.

At first, I would be embarrassed to admit, that I faltered and squeaked. But I was caught completely off guard and the actions were justified. Nonetheless, Derek instantly pulled away, looking as if he regretted it and I just could even understand why he made things so difficult on himself anymore. He just wasn't fair, he never took care of himself. Always careful. Always worrying. I couldn't take it anymore. I just wanted him to give in already, give up and for once take what it was he wanted before I wondered, once again, what the hell it was he did want.

"Chloe, I'm sorry, I shouldn't-"

"Shut up," I hissed, fingering the front of his shirt and pulling him down to meet me again.

We came together slower this time, testing, because I knew I was sure and I was giving Derek time to be sure. Thankfully, it didn't take that long. Derek didn't squeak and squirm like I had, which made me feel even more silly about the action but honestly, in the moment, I didn't care. Derek reacted, his hands sliding from my shoulders, over my shoulder blades and to my waist, then gently pulled my body to curve into his. His lips parted against mine and my brain checked out, unable to feel, smell, or taste anything but him. Derek dipped his head meeting me halfway as I stood on my toes, his mouth moving securely and tenderly against mine, his lips speaking to me, telling me that he was sure and that he wanted me too. For how long, I didn't know, nor did I care. Because the way Derek kissed me, I could just tell that I was what he needed too, and I kissed Derek back the same way.

Because he was what I wanted, what I needed and that was all that mattered.

Okay, there it is. I'm not too satisfied with how it ended, however, this is what came out and I wanted to update before I left. If I see it fit, I'll make an alternative ending when I come back and alert you guys of the change. So? Let me know what you guys think! Review please and vote on my poll.

Later!