a/n: also posted on my tumblr, guildenstantz. stiles' characterisation may be a little off due to me not having seen any of season 1


It's stupid, Isaac thinks, how Stiles can say one damn thing and all of a sudden have Isaac spilling his guts like there's no such thing as personal boundaries or TMI or, you know, a simple it's-none-of-your-goddamn-business. It's stupid, Isaac thinks, because he's never told anyone any of this. He's never taken that blind leap of faith and let it all out like someone's slipped him a truth serum. And then Stiles comes along with that ridiculous little open-mouthed lost puppy look and says, "Hey, what's up man?" as though they're best buddies all of a sudden.

And Isaac can just about deal with the niceness, the little smirks Stiles sends his way when Derek says something downright imbecilic, even the piles of clothes he finds stacked neatly outside the subway station and the old Nintendo Stiles lends him when Derek's enlightening company becomes a little too excruciating even for Isaac.

What he can't put up with, though, is Stiles checking up on him, like Isaac is going to slip up and rip out someone's throat. Doesn't he trust him? That hurts like a punch to the stomach. What could Stiles do about it anyway? Isaac could have him dead before he even hit the ground. Except that hurts even more.

It all comes to a head one evening when Isaac decides to take a midnight stroll. He's been sleeping in the subway for the past couple of nights, not bothered enough to make the small trip home to an empty and uninviting house after training is over. Except, unlike Derek, Isaac doesn't have a mattress, or privacy, or any of the luxuries that seem to come with being an Alpha. He's got an old Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt, some torn up jeans, and a pair of trainers stacked up under his head. It's the need for a warm shower and the light fuzz growing on his cheeks that drives him home.

Isaac pulls on his trainers and clambers up the stairs with a yawn. He's so caught up in his own thoughts about showers and coffee and his crappy little metal-framed bed that he doesn't notice the footsteps on the other side of the door, so when he reaches for the handle and it is suddenly pulled away from him, Isaac jumps with a start.

"Stiles," he stammers out. "What are you doing here? It's midnight already."

"Dad's on the night shift," Stiles says by way of explanation, stepping back out into the night as Isaac shuts the door behind them. The latter raises his long eyebrows. "So… I thought I'd come by and see how my favourite pup was doing!"

Isaac scowls. "I'm going home for a while, so you're out of luck," he says angrily.

"Oh." Stiles' face brightens suddenly. "Oh! I'll come with you then!" he exclaims.

"Whatever."

They reach the house within twenty minutes and Isaac unlocks the front door, flicking on a light switch as he goes. He hears Stiles close the door behind them and turns, only to end up face to face with an old picture of his father staring back at him. He turns it over, face down, and wonders why he hasn't noticed it before.

"So… nice place you got here," Stiles says. Isaac ignores him.

"I'm gonna take a shower. You can just…" he gestures wildly with his hands. "Whatever."

"Oh. Okay. I'll just… I'll just hang down here then. Alone. That's… that's cool. Ooh, comics!"

Isaac can still hear him when he turns on the shower, muttering insignificant nothings to himself about Manga, an old episode of Starsky & Hutch, about the Stilinski 'code of honour,' or something like that. Before he knows it, Isaac is smiling at old memories of his mother, of the way she'd hold him while his dad shouted at Camden about some stupid Chem. grade, of how there was always this one strand of hair that would stick out of place when she got out of bed in the morning, and Isaac would smooth it down with small, infant hands while he sat on her lap. He remembers how she smelled, like fresh coffee beans, and how they would laugh together at Camden and Isaac's father because the two of them didn't seem to share her and Isaac's need for caffeine.

He steps out of the shower feeling cold and empty, like something has been ripped from him at birth, and trudges down the stairs in sweatpants and an old Mary Chain hoodie. Stiles is watching something on TV, some 1am re-run of a show Isaac thinks might be Twin Peaks but can't be sure, and so he plops down beside him with a mug of barely-warm coffee in one hand and a picture of his mother in the other. If Stiles notices, then so be it; he can't be without her tonight.

"You see that?" Stiles asks, wide-eyed and pointing at the TV screen. "That's David Duchovny playing a transvestite. Or something." He stutters to a halt and takes in Isaac's half-lidded eyes, the way his chest is moving non-committedly up and down as though every breath is a chore, and then finally notices the torn up Polaroid in Isaac's left hand. It's a woman, late thirties, red-head, and Stiles recognises the elongated eyebrows and strong jawline almost instantly.

"I get it, you know," he says without thinking. "You miss her."

Isaac's head snaps up then, and that's when it starts, this crazy, soul-spilling moment of madness. It's like he can't stop himself, can't stop all of his feelings from flooding out and landing in a sorrowful little heap at Stiles' feet.

"I – you – you remind me of her," Isaac chokes out.

"Huh?"

"The way you talk, like – like you have to get everything out before something happens, before something bad happens. She used to do that. She used to drink too much coffee and write these little stories in the middle of the night about fairies and vampires and – and werewolves." Isaac laughs bitterly. "She smiled all the time, even when she was sad,especially when she was sad, like her happiness was a gift to me and Camden, or an example we were supposed to follow. And she had all these little anecdotes and pop culture references, you know? She was witty. When dad shouted at her, she'd shout right back. I could never do that."

Isaac's head droops, and Stiles lifts it back up – carefully mind – his knuckles resting gently under Isaac's chin, who proceeds to look at Stiles as though he's just broken all ten commandments.

"She sounds pretty awesome," Stiles says simply, and lets his hand drop to the sofa.

"She is," Isaac replies. "Was. Is."

Stiles nods. "Is," he agrees.

They sit in silence for a while, until Stiles throws out a joke about David Duchovny wearing a wig and Isaac laughs, shuffles closer, rests his head on the other boy's shoulder and lifts his mug to sniff at that same smell of fresh coffee beans.

"You remind me of her," he says again, quieter this time, more like a murmur, and closes his eyes against Stiles' neck.