It's always been itching at the back of Stiles' mind as to what changed in him to become like this.
He wakes up each morning at precisely 7am, he switches off his alarm after he hears it ring three times and he gets out of bed to change into the clothes he's laid out neatly on his chair the night before (which usually consist of an old worn pair of jeans because seriously who has the money to buy new jeans? And then whatever shirt floats his boat that day. Which is usually plaid because hey, leave him alone he likes plaid). He then makes his way to the bathroom and washes his hands, brushes his teeth, washes his face and hands once again (he showers at night because come on who honestly would prefer to shower in the morning rather than get an extra fifteen minutes sleep? Answer: no one). He goes downstairs each morning and makes coffee and eggs for his Dad and himself; he eats them, grabs his bag and makes his way to school.
He wouldn't call himself OCD. He'd call himself routine. Neat. Organized. Clean. But definitely not OCD.
Pack meetings are every Wednesday. Stiles stays afterwards and helps Derek clean up because he knows that if he doesn't, that little itching in the back of his mind will slowly eat away at him until he has to call Derek and stay on the phone until he can hear Derek wash the plates and throw away the pizza boxes.
Definitely not OCD. Just organized and clean.
He knows Derek secretly doesn't mind, even though the endless scowls and growls suggest otherwise. Because Derek's just that kind of guy, Stiles knows that. On the outside he's all scary and mean and "get off my land", but on the inside there's someone decent. There's just a six foot thick wall of obsidian that no one can seem to crack to get to that shred of decency. It emerges every now and again, though, and that's what keeps the Pack hopeful. Hopeful that one day Derek will actually smile and laugh along with them.
Stiles isn't crazy. He's routine.
So every Tuesday and Thursday he spends precisely two hours after school at Scott's playing video games and eating junk food. And at 6pm he leaves and gets back home in time for his dinner and some "father-son bonding time" with his Dad, who then leaves at around 8pm for the night shift at the station which leaves time alone for Stiles to start about his nightly routine. He then sets on doing his homework, plays a little Minecraft or Halo (or any game really, it completely depends on his mood. Sometimes you want to kill aliens, other times you want to build a house out of cobblestone and kill chickens. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do) and then by 11pm he's ready for bed, so he sleeps. And another day starts.
One Friday is when it all changes.
And Stiles doesn't like change.
Friday's are reserved for Pack bonding time at Derek's house. They'll order take out, usually pizza or Chinese and watch films in the living room and train out back and when the Pack pass out on the sofa and floor, Stiles and Derek will throw blankets over them and sit in the kitchen and talk about their week. It's just how it happens. It's how it's always happened for a while now.
But this Friday is different. He can feel it in his bones and he knows it's stupid but he wakes up and all he can sense is dread. He does his usual morning routine and makes breakfast for his Dad who leaves twelve minutes behind schedule today because he woke up late. And that should have been Stiles' first indicator. That little itching feeling in the back of his mind is whispering "something isn't right" but he shoves it into a corner of his mind once again because it's stupid, not everything has to be routine.
But then he grabs his bag and he gets into his Jeep and it doesn't start. He turns the key in the ignition and it makes a spluttering noise but then dies.
"Come on baby," he says whining, stroking the dash and patting it a few times as if it will make any difference. He tries once, twice, three times more and ends up sat back in his seat, subconsciously rubbing one hand over his buzz cut a few times and shaking his head to get his thoughts straight.
That feeling is back in the corners of his mind but once again he mentally blocks them, chucks them in a safe and locks the key because he doesn't need the anxiety or the panic attacks right now because he just needs to get to school.
He calls Derek because Derek knows a little about cars and Derek never has anything to do on a Friday, but he doesn't pick up.
Which is when Stiles really starts to panic because Derek always picks up his phone. Always. He's probably just asleep Stiles, don't worry about it. It's not as if he has a job to go to is it?
Stiles closes his eyes and takes a breath, in through his nose and out through his mouth the way his father taught him after his mother died and he started to get panic attacks, and he repeats the same process four times until he feels calm enough to grab a hold of his door and wrench it open so he can have a look at the engine. Even though he knows fuck all about cars but hey, looking will make him feel somewhat useful. After about thirty seconds of looking at the engine and going "nope", he calls Allison who thankfully picks up on the second ring.
"Oh thank God you've answered, do you think you could give me a lift to school? My Jeep's kind of died."
"Sure!" he hears Allison say and lo and behold there is someone up there who loves him, "Did you check the engine?"
"Yes, and I couldn't see anything wrong, so call me useless or whatever but right now that lift to school would be great." He hears Allison laughing as he ends the call, so he just sits there on the trunk of his Jeep and waits for her to show up, not even bothering to take a look at the engine again. Friday mornings he usually goes to the library and works for half an hour before class because it's the only time the library is actually quiet, but considering his Jeep decided to die on him, that's his routine changed. And it's making him slightly anxious because it means he'll be behind on his work schedule and that makes him feel tense, and he'll have to go to the library when it's busy and Stiles doesn't like big crowds and...
Allison pulls up beside him and beeps the horn which causes Stiles to jump out of his skin and Allison just giggles. "Get in loser we're going shopping," she says and Stiles huffs and folds his arms over his chest like a child.
"A Mean Girls quote? Really? That's what you're going to go with?" But he gets in the car anyway.
"You wouldn't have me any other way," Allison states and smiles and Stiles just kind of stares in awe because she really is beautiful, and even though she's totally out of bounds and he doesn't even like her in that way, he can admire her beauty.
They talk about the recent Pack meeting which Stiles didn't really listen to because he was too busy organizing all of the remotes in size order, messing them up and then reorganizing them to quell his anxiety because that day his Dad had to work over-time so his morning schedule had been shifted.
"What was it even about?" Stiles asks and Allison looks over at him with what looks like pity etched on her face and Stiles just kind of sinks back into the leather seat.
"Hunters," she replies quietly and suddenly Stiles is all ears.
After the whole Gerard-Argent-trying-to-become-a-werewolf-because-he-was-dying-but-failing-miserably-because-he-actually-died debacle, Allison and her father had given up hunting for good. Chris now genuinely just sells guns instead of actually using them against supernatural creatures. But it will forever be a touchy subject on the Argents' part because of what their family has put this town through. Like killing Derek's entire family. But that hasn't been mentioned for a while now. No one talks about that anymore, not even Derek (which worries Stiles slightly but he never says anything because even though he has a tendency to not shut up even when told to, and say things out of place, family deaths are definitely one thing he can understand and sympathize with).
Stiles raises an eyebrow as if to say "go on".
"Yeah, well some hunters tried to get Dad to get back into...well...hunting, and Dad said no because he doesn't do that anymore. But these hunters were persistent and Dad worried they'd be a threat so he told Derek and now he's got the Pack on watch of the town just in case they decide to come here and..."
"Fuck shit up?" Stiles finishes and Allison laughs.
"Yeah," she says, "fuck shit up."
He gets to class and Scott isn't there. Which, considering it's Econ isn't exactly a surprise, but Scott usually texts Stiles if he's not in school that day. He comes to the conclusion that's it's "Pack stuff", but he spends the rest of the day worrying anyway. He sorts out his pencil case, putting the pens in all the same way, taking them back out and ordering them by size, then repeating the process. It calms him down and gets him through Economics class at least. Finstock doesn't even question him anymore; he knows he thinks Stiles is insane.
He's not insane, he's organized.
He tries Derek's phone again at lunch but it goes straight to answer phone. "Pack stuff" is his conclusion. "Pack stuff" he's not been told about.
He sits in his usual place at lunch, with Allison, Lydia and Jackson, and Isaac, Boyd and Erica (as well as Scott) are nowhere to be seen.
Definitely "werewolf stuff". No one questions it. Stiles eats an orange and organizes the pips to create a question mark on the table, yet no one queries him.
He goes to the library after school because it's a little quieter than in the day, and he goes to the mythology section which is where he spends most of his time looking up werewolf lore because he constantly has this questioning thirst for knowledge about the supernatural even though he never plans to become a Supe himself.
So he grabs a book and just sits down on the floor and flips it open to start reading, and it's finally quiet so he can relax and just read.
"What'cha readin' there?" Someone asks (a little rudely, if Stiles might add) and Stiles looks up. A man of about forty is looking down at the book in Stiles' hands and he shuts it immediately with a slam as he stands up.
"Uh," he begins, looking anywhere but this man's eyes because suddenly he's nervous. He's taller than the man but not by a lot and this guy looks much, much stronger. As if he were born and bred in a gym and it makes Stiles self conscious because although he has no intentions of looking that brawny, he's suddenly feeling guilty at himself for all the curly fries he shovels into his mouth when he's at Scott's. Not that it's gonna stop him of course.
"Ah werewolf lore," the man says, half-smirking which makes his face wrinkle and Stiles even more uncomfortable, "I love the stuff myself. You could say I'm a killer for it."
And Stiles laughs. He laughs and it startles the hunter whose face turns solemn but Stiles can't help himself. Because really? Out of all the hunter related puns in the universe, that's the one the hunter goes for? He almost pities the man and suddenly he's not so afraid anymore because it seems as if this guy has the IQ of a fish.
"I'm going to be on my way," Stiles says, shoving the book under one shoulder and reaching down to pick up his bag, "I'm sorry but that was...really? That's all you could come up with? Wow you have really made my day okay thank you so much. I'm going now, but I'm sure you'll have a killer day!" and he turns on his heel and leaves the guy standing there because Stiles doesn't really want to talk at all right now, let alone to a hunter. He checks out the book and once he's outside he calls Derek on the off chance that he'll pick up, and Stiles shakes out a sigh of relief when he does.
"Dude you've not been answering your phone all day! Also is Scott with you? Dude can you come and pick me up please because my Jeep didn't start this morning, also can you look at it because I know you're good with cars and..."
"Are you okay?"
And this puts Stiles off a little because Derek never asks him if he's okay. It seems as if he just puts up with Stiles because he and Scott come as a pair.
"...Yes?" comes his response because he's not sure how to reply to Derek's question because it's so out of the ordinary.
"Are you sure? I felt...off."
"You felt off?"
"Where are you?"
Stiles replies with "the library" and Derek hangs up the phone so Stiles is just left stood there. He half expects the hunter to walk out and kidnap him for giving him the 'tude but the hunter doesn't emerge. Stiles can hear Derek's car before he can see it and soon after he pulls up and leans across to open the door so Stiles can get inside.
"Such a gentleman," he says and pretends to swoon, flapping his hands and fluttering his eyelashes much to Derek's dismay as he just rolls his eyes and sets off. "You felt off?"
"Yeah, like...you were in trouble or something, I can't explain it I..."
"Is this like some weird werewolf shit because I'm not a werewolf Derek so you probably just ate something bad I wouldn't put it past you, did you eat a raw rabbit or..."
"Stiles you're Pack, it's the same thing."
"Oh." Well he didn't have to sound so annoyed about it.
It's silent for a while and Stiles just watches Derek, whose jaw tightens and twitches every now and again as if he wants to say something, so Stiles breaks the tension and talks instead, which is his forte really.
"The reason you felt off is because something was off. Scott wasn't in all day and you weren't answering your phone and then I was worried and then this hunter shows up out of the blue and comes up with such a bad pun Derek I'm serious even you would have laughed and you never laugh at anything it was that bad and..."
"Stiles," Derek almost whispers and this shuts Stiles up because when Derek says his name like that, shit is usually about to go down.
"What." Stiles mimics and almost smiles at himself but Derek's face looks scary so Stiles shuts up again.
"What did the hunter say to you?"
Stiles sits back in his seat and fiddles with the strap on his bag. "Not much," he begins, not looking at Derek, "just a really bad pun and then I got all Sass King on his ass and left."
Derek face palms, like actually face palms and Stiles' mouth slides open at just how animated Derek is being right now. "Don't talk to strangers in the future," Derek responds finally.
"Okay Dad thanks for the advice."
"I'm serious, we've had a security breach and things are tough right now. Scott's out patrolling with Erica and Isaac and I'm keeping an eye on things in town."
"Derek they can't keep doing this, they have school."
"And we have a town to defend."
"Oh my God you're so territorial! What are you gonna do next, piss on each town member?"
Derek growls and Stiles doesn't even back away because Derek and growling come as a pair, and Stiles is so used to it, it isn't even scary to him anymore.
It's silent between them and Derek doesn't even bother taking Stiles home, they go straight to his house and park outside and just sit in the car for a few minutes, Derek's hands on the wheel and Stiles staring straight forward.
"So Pack bonding is still on?" He asks finally and Derek just nods and raises his eyebrows and tilts his head slightly, which Stiles understands as "yes it is, but stop talking because I need time to think and you're not helping", so Stiles just sits and waits for Derek to finally speak. He watches Derek, he watches his nostrils flare and his forehead crease and his hands tighten on the wheel and relax again. He watches Derek open his mouth, but shut it once more because whatever he wanted to say suddenly clearly isn't important enough to share with Stiles.
And suddenly Stiles is pissed. Like really pissed because he wants to know about this shit as he's Pack but obviously Derek only cares about his wolves and no one else because Stiles is always left out. It's as if the Wednesday Pack meetings are for his purpose only because the wolves always seem to be doing other shit that Stiles is left in the dark about and this makes Stiles angry.
"You know what," Stiles says, breaking the silence and opening the car door, "I'm going home."
Derek finally speaks and his tone is angry but this doesn't discourage Stiles. "What do you mean? We've got Pack bonding." He raises an eyebrow questioningly but Stiles doesn't budge.
"Well clearly considering you're being all mystical and silent and 'ooh wolves are allowed to know but Stiles isn't because he's human', there's clearly no place for me here so I'm going home. All I want to know Derek is why this is happening and what is happening because I'm damn well confused here. You can't just say there's been a security breach and then shush me because you need time to think, I need to know about these things. If you don't trust me that's fine. I'll leave."
Derek doesn't say anything, he just kind of stares at Stiles and if anything, this angers Stiles more. "I'm going," he says finally, and his brain hates it because it's ruining his routine and shifting his entire day, which should have been another sign that something is going to go wrong but once again Stiles pushes it to the back of his mind because right now, being angry at Derek is on the forefront.
"You need a lift home," Derek finally responds and Stiles isn't sure if this is a statement or a question, but he just throws his hands up in the air out of frustration.
"I'll walk!" He almost shouts. And he walks. He doesn't even turn back when Derek shouts his name. He just walks. His brain is screaming for him to go back because Friday nights are Pack bonding nights but he's just too angry to look at Derek right now. He's too angry to do anything right now but walk.
He's not entirely sure why he's angry. A million things at once enter his brain like a wave and suddenly his eyes are stinging. He's angry because Derek doesn't treat him like Pack. He's angry because when Stiles is needed, it's for research or bait. He's angry because he doesn't feel wanted. He knows he's Pack, and he knows Derek knows he's Pack, but he just wants to feel like he's Pack. At the moment he just feels...used.
He hears a car pull up beside him about fifteen minutes into his walk of self pity home and he stops. "No," he says, because he knows perfectly well who it is but he doesn't want to look just in case he tears up again.
"Just get in the car Stiles I'll take you home. You're not walking home with hunters around."
"I'm not a wolf; they don't want anything to do with me."
Derek almost whines and Stiles jolts his head to look at him. "No you're not but you're Pack. Can't you see? Just because you're not a wolf, Stiles, it's not as if they'll just ignore you. You're as important as everyone else in the Pack and the sooner you realize that and get in this car, the sooner we can get you home."
Derek? Showing...compassion? That can't be right. "Who are you and what have you done with Derek Hale?" Stiles asks as he gets in the car, shutting the door and putting his seat belt on.
"Shut up," Derek responds and Stiles smiles because it took all of three seconds to get normal Derek back.
He takes Stiles home and Stiles immediately feels uneasy because right now he should be with the Pack because it's a Friday night and Friday nights are Pack nights but he's not there and the whole ordeal makes him nervous. But he doesn't say anything because he's worried that if he does, he'll anger Derek again so he just says thanks and Derek leaves. Stiles doesn't even go inside his house for a while, he just sits on the porch and contemplates ringing just about everyone so he doesn't have to feel so alone. He's pinching himself because why the hell didn't he stay? It's his fault his schedule is messed up. It's his fault his Friday night is ruined, and it's his fault that he's like this. His breath hitches and catches in his throat, but he ignores it and goes inside his house to sleep because that's the only thing he can do that won't send him slowly crazy with self pity.
Stiles' mom died on a Saturday.
And he remembers it was a Saturday because a Saturday was Stiles-and-mom-baking-day. They'd bake banana muffins each Saturday at midday because they were, they still are his Dad's favourite, and they'd eat them after dinner each Saturday night whilst watching some trash film on TV. And he still bakes them now, every Saturday at midday because the tradition carries on even if his mom didn't. But they don't sit and eat them and watch trash films anymore. The muffins sit on the side until they're all eaten or have gone stale or his Dad takes them to work for his co-workers. But Stiles can't bring himself to stop making them because he likes routine, and it's been his routine ever since he was 7. He can't bring himself to stop; he won't stop, so he bakes them. He knows he's punishing himself because the sickly smell of bananas brings back memories of his mother but if he doesn't make them he feels out of sync and just wrong, so he just bakes and his Dad just lets.
Today is the same as any other Saturday. He wakes up, does his usual morning routine (only later, because hey, it's a Saturday and he's allowed a lie in), but instead of making his Dad breakfast and coffee, his Dad makes it instead. Today Stiles walks down the stairs to the soft smell of pancakes and syrup and he stops and breathes in the smell because holy shit he loves pancakes. He wolfs them down and drinks his coffee and his Dad says bye and then Stiles is alone. So he gets started on the muffins and he hums random tunes to himself because it keeps him company and he bakes. By 2pm there are six banana muffins cooling down on the side, and he's free to do whatever he likes for the rest of the day.
He calls Scott, because he hasn't spoken to Scott in what seems like forever, and Scott thankfully picks up on the third ring. "Hey buddy," Stiles says, and he's smiling and he's pretty sure that Scott can hear him smile because Scott suddenly seems really chirpy.
"Hey dude! Haven't spoken to you in a while, why weren't you at Pack bonding yesterday?"
Stiles doesn't really know what to say to that. Because Derek angered me? Because I felt sorry for myself? Because I'm childish? He can't really think of a good enough reason to hang on to, so he changes the subject. "Wanna come over to mine and play video games? I made banana muffins so you can eat those if you get hungry which of course you will because you're Scott."
"Actually we're all at Derek's because he wanted to train today because of that security breach? So yeah if you want to come over that'd be great because Jackson is getting on my nerves..."
Stiles laughs. "You know I'll do anything to save a damsel in distress!" He says and Scott growls. "Hey now, don't growl you'll turn into Derek."
"He heard that."
"He's not happy."
"Wow I don't care, tell him to come pick me up."
He ends the call and grabs two muffins from the batch, one for him and one for Derek and he locks up the house and sits on his porch until he hears the familiar noise of Derek's Camaro pull up and stop outside his house. Stiles bounds over and gets in, closing the door as he settles into the seat. "Wow you're not opening the door for me this time? How rude, I cry I really do."
"Shut up Stiles," Derek says and considering that's Derek's favourite phrase, it's also Stiles' favourite phrase to ignore so he just carries on.
"I baked muffins today and here you can have one as payment for picking me up," and he just kind of shoves the muffin in the general direction of Derek who just looks at it in Stiles' hand. "It's not poisonous, wolf, it's just a banana muffin. I'd eat it now because otherwise you're going to have the rest of the Pack trying to claw at it like ravenous dogs."
Derek's lips turn up the sides and Stiles nearly faints on the spot because holy crap did Derek actually just smile a little? He almost scolds himself because he didn't have his camera ready to document such a wondrous moment. Next time he thinks, next time he'll be ready.
He feels okay about this spontaneous trip to Hale Headquarters because his Saturday afternoons are free to do anything so his anxiety is at a minimum. Plus, Derek makes him calmer somehow, as if he's this beacon of calm that just radiates calm and he's thinking of the word calm a lot because he just feels so calm. And then it suddenly hits him that he must actually mean something to this Pack because Derek just came and picked him up with no begging or pleading or bribing on Stiles' part.
Maybe Derek's been tamed after all.
He smiles to himself at the thought and he notices Derek looking at him weird but he doesn't say anything. Which is a very common thing between Derek and Stiles.
"Training" is actually "let's watch Derek beat Isaac and Scott to the ground whilst everyone watches and laughs and then let's get Stiles to make sandwiches so we can shove them down our throats in 0.3 seconds flat" which Stiles is okay with because it lifts this invisible weight off his shoulder as he's actually relaxed and having a good time.
Jackson is throwing one plate on top of another ready to go out to the kitchen and Stiles stops him because he's getting food everywhere and that itching feeling in his brain is back and it's angering him because he's had such a good day.
"Let me do it Jackson," he says calmly but Jackson's obviously still got some douchebag left over in him from his human days and he bats Stiles' hands away.
"I can do this by myself Stiles; it's not hard picking up a few plates and carrying them out to the kitchen."
Stiles straightens up and cocks his head to the side. "Oh really? You're supposed to scrape all the leftovers on to one plate so it's easier to trash but you're just piling one plate on top of another so it's just one big mess everywhere."
"Let Stiles do this," Allison says and thank you Allison, someone gets the way plates are meant to be stacked.
"Listen," Jackson begins, douchebag level up to about 1000, "just because not all of us have Stiles' freaky OCD where we have to wash our hands three times a day just so the world doesn't end it doesn't mean I don't know how to stack a few fucking plates to take them ten feet out into the kitchen."
Stiles doesn't say anything. He just stares. He just looks at Jackson and he can't think of anything to say as for once. He feels numb and he wants to sit down but the sofa is too far away but he can't really feel his legs anymore and his mind is empty and blank.
He just stands there and there's a commotion around him, Derek telling Jackson to leave for being a colossal ass and he can feel Lydia and Allison's hands on his shoulder asking him if everything is okay.
But he doesn't move because he knows Jackson is right. He does have a problem. He didn't think anyone noticed, not really. It's just a routine though, it's not OCD, he's not crazy, he's just organized...
"Stiles help me with these plates."
"Derek I don't think that..." He hears Scott say but Derek glares.
"Stiles, help me with these plates," he repeats and Stiles is back in the room and bending down to scrape the food from each plate onto one plate and then stacking them so they're easier to carry. He moves on autopilot to the kitchen and he places the food in the trash and the plates in the sink and he just stands. Derek isn't even carrying any plates; he's just leaning on the kitchen table waiting for Stiles to say something.
It's silent for about five minutes, and Stiles just listens. He listens to Jackson's car speed away, and he listens to Allison telling everyone to leave the house. He listens to the door shutting, and then the silence. He takes a breath.
"The routines started after mom died. The first one was the Saturday baking. But then I'd wake up in the morning with this...overwhelming sense of dread washing over me that could only be quelled by a morning routine. If one thing is out of place my anxiety levels shoot through the roof and...I just don't want to get the panic attacks again and being organized helps this. I do my routines and I shake it out. It's like my own personal therapy."
There. He's said it. He almost laughs at the irony because the first time he's ever come clean about his problems and it's to Derek Hale, the master of bottling up emotions and never showing them. Ever. The one person that probably needs the most therapy out of all of them.
Derek's face is unreadable and Stiles wants to scream because this is probably the one thing he hates about Derek the most. His brow is hard set and his mouth is a tight line, and his eyes are just transfixed on Stiles, unblinking.
"Derek?" Stiles asks, taking a step forward as the tension is unbearable and Stiles just needs to hear Derek breathe or talk or something.
"Let's get you home," Derek finally says and he takes a hold of Stiles' wrist.
It isn't romantic, or angry or forceful, it's more of a gesture than anything, and when Derek starts walking, Stiles obeys and walks right behind him.
And he's in Derek's car for the millionth time in a few days. His Jeep is being fixed today so he should have it by Monday so no more Derek'n'Stiles car time.
"You know you're not alone, right?" Derek almost whispers, not looking at Stiles but Stiles looks at him.
What's he meant to say to that? Thanks? Yeah I know? There are a million things to say to that but words aren't forming in his brain because Derek Hale is being nice.
So he just kind of nods and shrugs and sinks back in his seat because what the hell is he supposed to do?
Things have changed. Things are changing, and Stiles can feel it. He doesn't need werewolf senses, or spider senses, or a freakin' weathervane to notice that something's going to happen. He just knows it. Because that burden of tension is back on his shoulders and he feels sad again and he just wants to sleep.
He doesn't see anyone until Monday morning. No one calls him or texts him, and he thinks Derek probably told them all to leave him alone. And he's grateful for that, really he is, because sometimes he needs to be alone for a while and mull over his thoughts. On the Sunday he actually has a two hour talk to his Dad about all kinds of things and this puts him in a happy mood because his Dad is happy and a happy Sheriff Stilinski is a happy Stiles Stilinski. So when Jackson shuffles up to Stiles early Monday morning and says a pitiful "sorry", Stiles just shrugs it off, says no problem, pats Jackson on the head and leaves. Because yeah, he's accepted that he may not be the sanest kid to have ever existed, but at the moment he doesn't really care.
Which is why everything has to go wrong, and which is why everything does.
Lacrosse practice (or as Stiles likes to call it, "bench warming practice") finishes at 6pm and usually after practice, Stiles likes to go home, cook dinner and finish his homework before playing XBOX live and then going to bed. He leaves the locker room, Scott being AWOL because he got a text from Allison (booty call), so he left without changing out of his lacrosse uniform, which is a little gross but whatever floats Allison's boat he supposes.
The car park is deserted as he walks out to his Jeep because let's be honest, who is in school willingly at 6:20pm? It's silent and peaceful and the air is so crisp that when Stiles inhales deeply it hurts his nose a little.
He opens the door to his Jeep and slings the bag over to the passenger side.
And he's grabbed from behind. He struggles, of course he struggles, and he's fast and agile so he scrambles to get a hand free and then he's punching the air until his fist makes contact with ribs and the person grabbing him huffs out air but his grip doesn't slacken. An off-white cloth is shoved over his face and Stiles doesn't even need half a brain to realize it's chloroform ridden, but already his vision is woozy and his hearing is distorted and he's feeling sleepy, so he just lets the darkness wash over him as he falls to the ground in a heap and passes out completely.
When he wakes up it's dark. It takes a few seconds for his vision to adjust and he's lying face up on what seems to be a cement floor and before he even looks around he knows he's in some kind of cell. There's a small window at the top of the room which is secured with rusted bars, and there's an iron door at the front of the room which looks out of place for a room so old. It's fucking freezing and the room smells of damp and rot and Stiles wants to heave. His breathing is rapid and he thinks he's having a panic attack but when he closes his eyes he's calmer, so he just stays still for a while and he lets his breathing regulate and he opens his eyes again slowly and focuses on the small window. It's dark outside so he must have been unconscious for at least two hours.
There's a shuffling and it's definitely not coming from him, which means there's someone else in this room and suddenly he's terrified because he doesn't want to die this way, he always imagined himself dying in front of a computer game or on the top of a mountain somewhere, or at the very least of natural causes in his bed.
"Stiles?" the voice asks and he breathes a sigh of relief which comes out as a choked sob and then the relief turns into worry and anguish, not for himself, but for the strangled voice of Derek Hale. Stiles slowly sits up and looks over to the corner where Derek is sat and he looks awful. His shirt is bloody and torn and his face looks pale and tired but he's alive.
There are a million questions running through his head. How did I get here? Where am I? Why am I here? But the only one that he can grab a hold of and say is "Are you okay?"
He half scrambles, half crawls over to Derek who looks exhausted, and Derek just nods. "M'fine, been here since yesterday evening. I think. There's not exactly a clock in here."
Stiles smiles. "Wolf's got jokes," he replies and Derek's lips turn up at the corners and Stiles totally counts that as a smile and holy hell he doesn't have his camera again.
Stiles pulls himself up to sit next to Derek. "Why are we..."
"Why am I..."
"Bait, I guess," Derek replies and he sounds pained and frustrated and just plain fed up. But most of all he sounds tired.
"When was the last time you slept?" Stiles asks quietly and he doesn't like the way his voice echoes off the walls, it's eerie and creepy and scares Stiles and Stiles doesn't like being scared because he feels vulnerable and Stiles isn't meant to be vulnerable. He's meant to be that human rock that everyone leans on. The agony aunt of the group, the one that people turn to when they need help or research or anything, but right now he feels small and worried and the anxiety that's creeping up on him slowly is making him so nervous he wants to cry.
"Few days ago I guess. Saturday night and Sunday weren't good days for me. Patrolling and getting caught, you know the usual."
Stiles laughs but stops immediately because the walls make it seem disturbing. "You're on fire tonight with your wit, Hale, I wish I'd brought my camera to document this."
The slight growl from Derek doesn't put Stiles off, but he does be quiet and he sits with his back against the wall and his shoulder against Derek's with his eyes shut. He's freezing, and even though he's wearing a plaid overshirt and a plain white undershirt, he begins shivering because the cold feels like it's in his bones and he can't help it anymore. He feels Derek move and Derek shucks off his leather jacket and throws it around Stiles' shoulders, and Stiles shakes his head a little too dramatically and tries to throw off the jacket but Derek is having none of it.
"Werewolf, remember?" Derek says, "Can't feel the cold as much as you humans."
"You humans," Stiles mocks but he doesn't say anything, he just nods a thanks and leans back against the wall. The jacket smells of Derek and somehow this makes him feel more at ease, and he remembers thinking about Derek being his very own beacon of calm and someone this eases him and let's him rest. He's terrified, but he's not alone. That's one thing, right? He falls asleep, resting his head on Derek's shoulder and Derek doesn't even shake him off. That's how exhausted his beacon of calm must be.
He wakes up hours later and it's morning. At first he opens his eyes and looks around, scared and afraid but then he realizes where he is and who he's with. And then he's terrified again because he can't do his morning routine. It's a Tuesday, and today he should be getting ready and making breakfast and going to school and playing games with Scott but instead he's stuck in a cell with an alpha werewolf and he's hungry and thirsty and dirty and unorganized and unclean.
His breathing increases and he feels as if his heart's about to explode and he can't breathe properly and oh great a panic attack but then suddenly there's arms encircling him and a voice telling him to close his eyes and breathe through it, out through his mouth and in through his nose, over and over again until he's calm once more.
He's tired and mentally exhausted and his lungs hurt and his brain hurts and he doesn't want to be here anymore, he doesn't even know why he's here and why the hunters are here and his eyes are stinging once more and he's crying. He stands up and the leather jacket falls off his shoulders and he's walking over to the iron door and banging and begging to be let out because why is he here? Why do they need him? And then the arms are grabbing him from behind and pulling Stiles into an hold, turning him round so they're chest against chest and keeping him tight there whilst Stiles just cries into Derek's shoulder.
He's crazy. He's unorganized and unclean and he hates it. And there's nothing he can do about it which makes it a hundred times worse. Those itching feelings that Stiles has been locking away in that safe at the back of his mind break free and race to the forefront of Stiles' mind and he feels like a jumbled and a mess and he can't think straight. So he just stands there and screams and cries into Derek's shoulder because what else can he do?
And Derek surprisingly says nothing, he just stands there and holds Stiles until Stiles is calm. He tells Stiles to shake it out, he tells him that everything is going to be okay, and that someone will come and rescue them soon because Stiles is here as bait for the rest of the Pack, and so is Derek. Derek tells him that he woke up sooner than the hunters expected and he heard their plan, about how they were going to kill the Pack and how they were going to use Stiles and Derek as leverage.
Which is when the door opens, and the same hunter from the library walks in and shoots Derek who lets go of Stiles and grabs a hold of his shoulder as he falls to the floor, and before Stiles can even get a word out of his mouth there's a sack being thrown over his head and he's dragged out of the cell and down a corridor into another room and thrown onto a chair.
The sack is lifted from his head and he's facing a camera and he almost laughs. "What is this," he says, using sarcasm as a defence, "some kind of snuff film? Because I've watched a lot of porn in my lifetime but I'm not really into this shit, you get me?" His mind is still racing from being so out of order that he doesn't even care that he's pissing off the hunters. His sass costs him a few blows to the face and his lips splits and he's bleeding, but he doesn't even really feel the pain. The camera is switched on by one of the other hunters, and bad pun hunter holds up a big sheet of card with some badly scribbled words etched on to it.
"I feel like I'm in some sort of shitty action movie, are you really going to make me say what's on that card? Really? How cliché," Stiles states and that earns him another blow to the head and he begins to feel dozy but his consciousness remains. He quickly skim reads the card "Friends, if you don't come to the abandoned warehouse just outside of Beacon Hills, both your alpha and I are going to be killed. Come before 11pm tonight and our lives will be spared.
So he speaks.
"Friends, although I use that term lightly because you Jackson are not in my good books, if you come to the abandoned warehouse where to be honest, I've stayed in worse motels, then your lives will not be spared. By me. Because I will kill you." A grin spreads across his face and he winces slightly because it hurts his lip as the hunters scowl and shut off the camera. "Was that a good enough take for you? Are you going to kill me now is that it? Because if you are, you can at least feed me before you kill me as I'm starving."
The bag is being thrown over his head again and he's being led back to the damp and gross room where Derek is and he's chucked back inside and the sound of metal on metal as the deadbolt locks the door shut rings through Stiles' head and now he's feeling woozy as the pain from his injuries starts to hit him. Derek is back in his corner and he looks up and gasps and wow Stiles must look worse than he feels.
There's really nothing they can do. Because if Derek howls for his Pack, the Pack are going to die, and so will they. And suddenly Stiles feels small and helpless again and he wants to cry and sleep and talk at the same time.
So he just sits next to Derek and shrugs the jacket back on and closes his eyes. His head is screaming at him for routine and for organization but his mind is so unorganized right now that it seems as if he's battling himself for some sanity and shred of hope that's slowly fading away so he just sits. For hours. The hunters drop off bread and water and he shares it with Derek and they both eat together. Then they just sit.
Then Stiles starts to sob. He's cold and he's hungry and he cries because he feels dirty and powerless and frightened and tired. He cries because his father will be worried, and the Pack will be wondering where they are. He doesn't even care that Derek is in the room, the tears spill over and it's useless holding them back. It's a silent cry, but Derek being a werewolf and all can smell the salt and Stiles feels him stiffen because it's dark now. And in that moment, Derek grabs hold of Stiles' head and pulls him down so Stiles is resting his head in Derek's lap, and Derek just strokes his head softly and tries his best to comfort Stiles, and Stiles is eternally grateful because holy shit he really needs this right now, more than anything. He reaches out and takes Derek's hand in his and he just lies there for a while. There's nothing romantic or lustful, or passionate about this situation. Derek is just there for him, he's Stiles' rock, and he always has been, really. And Stiles is Derek's anchor, keeps him grounded and tells him what's what. They're there for each other, and Stiles doesn't even fucking realize it until just before they're going to die, and it's sad because there could have been something here, maybe not now but in the future. Another tear spills and Derek just clutches his hand tighter and he knows Derek feels the same way, he just knows. He can feel it.
They stay like that for a while, wrapped up in each other. He knows that Derek has been using this time to do his werewolf mojo on him to take away some of the pain and Stiles almost protests, but he's too tired to even formulate words.
"You've been quiet for about four hours now, I think that's a new world record," Derek says and Stiles snorts.
"You know, I think I liked you better when you were all growly and Mr. Grumpy. I actually think I've seen a cat on the internet that looks a lot like you."
Derek doesn't say anything, but from the way his stomach is moving against the back of Stiles' head indicates that he's actually laughing, and Stiles almost wants to weep with joy because he made Derek laugh.
Derek stills. Stiles lifts his head and he watches Derek's face go from blank, to confused, to angry and then relief, and Stiles can't take in this newly animated Derek and he nearly faints from the all the Derek Hale facial movements.
"Is everything..." but his mouth is stopped by Derek's huge hand Stiles has an urge to be bastard and lick Derek's palm but he doesn't because Derek might just kill him. He was quite enjoying the tender moment between wolf and human.
The door creaks and Stiles winces because he hates that sound, and the door opens. Derek manoeuvres himself in front of Stiles in some kind of protective stance, and Stiles doesn't know whether to tell Derek he's being stupid, or to shout "MY HERO", so he just stays quiet and let's Derek do his wolf thing.
But then Chris Argent appears from nowhere and Stiles almost cries from relief and Chris looks at them with utter shock and pity and then solely at Stiles with horror.
"You look awful," he states, and Stiles rolls his eyes and says "thanks" with such sarcasm that Argent actually smiles.
"Let's get you out of here, I'll explain on the way to the hospital."
But Derek doesn't move. At all. He just stays there transfixed, his eyes not leaving Chris and his posture not moving from the protective position in front of Stiles, and Stiles thinks this is a little stupid because Chris Argent has come to save the fucking day.
But then he remembers. He remembers that the last time Derek trusted an Argent with his life, he ended up losing most of his family.
A hole opens up in Stiles and he feels sorrow and upset so he does the only thing he can think of.
He hugs Derek.
It's an awkward hug, because he's hugging Derek from behind so his arms snake around Derek's hip and his cheek rests against Derek's shoulder, but it's a hug nonetheless. And Derek softens at his touch and he leans back into the hug and Chris just stands there, leaning from foot to foot and waiting as if he expected this to happen.
He feels Derek shift so he releases his arms, but Derek takes a hand in his and, making sure he's in front of Stiles at all times, he begins to follow Chris out of the warehouse that they've been hostage in for the past couple of days.
"Hunters?" Derek asks quietly and Chris Argent doesn't say anything. Which means they're dead. Stiles notices a few other men outside of the warehouse, getting into cars and slinging guns into trunks and he wants to thank them all for actually using their job to do the right thing for once, but he stays silent.
"Good riddance," Derek replies and Stiles can't help but agree, even if he does secretly hate himself for it.
"Stiles, I've let your father know you're okay. Even though that's an overstatement, you need to get cleaned up kid before you get an infection. Hospital time it is!"
Stiles doesn't argue because he feels unclean and unorganized and his brain is a jumble of questions once again. It's dark outside, and he's put into the back of Chris' car and Derek climbs in with him even though there's space up front.
"How did you..." Derek begins, but his voice sounds hoarse and Chris finishes his question for him.
"Find you? After Allison told me you and Stiles were missing, I figured hey, why not take up hunting again? Only this time I went after the hunters. It's not hard to triangulate where a hunter would take a werewolf considering I used to be a hunter. So I gathered a few of my old friends, formulated a plan and hey presto here I am saving your werewolf ass. The Pack didn't come to me until they realized Stiles had been taken because they thought you were doing your patrolling of the town or whatever, and it took a while to formulate a plan because do you know how many places there are where hunters can take a werewolf in Beacon Hills? A lot. So I'm sorry we didn't get here sooner but hey, you're both safe now, and kid we really need to get you to a hospital before you pass out from blood loss."
"I'm okay, really," Stiles says but his head says otherwise and his vision blurs because everything is happening at once. He's just grateful that he's alive, and he's grateful that his beacon of calm is near him because he doesn't know what he'd do without it.
The hospital checks go past pretty quickly. The conclusion is just a few cuts and bruises and two cracked ribs, nothing serious. Stiles' Dad comes in and pulls him into a hug and Stiles squirms because ouch that hurt, but he's just grateful to see his Dad again considering he thought his last view on Earth would be a cold, damp floor.
And then he's out of hospital and back home and his Dad insists on taking a few days off school due to trauma even though Stiles says he's completely fine, he just wants to get organized and neat and have a routine once more, but his Dad is pretty persistent.
By the time Saturday comes around, he's baking again and even though it takes a little longer than usual because his ribs are killing him, he bakes two dozen banana muffins. But this time he packs them all in a tin (leaving one for his Dad of course) and drives his Jeep out to the Hale house. The Pack are all there of course, and they all jump on Stiles as he walks inside the door and his ribs start to ache so he just kind of shoves the muffins outwards until they all take one and Stiles sits down on the sofa and they all just kind of home in around him like wolves taking care of an injured pack mate. Which is...well it's exactly what it is really.
Derek emerges from the kitchen, and Stiles has never been so happy to see the sour wolf and he just looks up and smiles, and Derek does that almost-smile-but-not-quite, to show Stiles that yes he's happy to see him, but not happy enough that he's gonna show emotion about it. Which Stiles is content with really, because he wouldn't have Derek any other way.
They sit and watch films, and throughout the whole day Stiles is being touched at some point, whether it be Erica taking his hand and rubbing circles into the skin, or Scott just leaning against Stiles so their shoulders are touching. The last film ends and there are plates everywhere and it makes Stiles anxious. Jackson is gathering the plates again but as Stiles stands up he stops. And Stiles smiles.
"You can take this one buddy," he says, and Jackson returns the smile and scrapes the food onto one plate then stacks the rest and places that one on top, taking them out into the kitchen. Allison gestures for the rest of the Pack to leave and they, Jackson following suit after he's finished with the plates in the kitchen.
Which leaves Stiles and Derek.
They stare at each other for a few seconds because neither of them know what to say. Hey, I loved our tender moments back in that gross cell, let's do more of it? What if Derek only did that because he thought they were going to die? The anxiety is building again and Stiles shuffles a little on the spot and Derek's face softens. "Stiles," he begins, but Stiles cuts him off by holding his hand out.
"Look, I know that we nearly died and shit, and I know that I have problems in the brain area that need fixing, but dude we need each other, okay? Because you have this weird effect on me where you calm me and it feels great and I know that you need me too okay I know it, I can feel it, so correct me if I'm wrong because right now I don't think I'm making a lot of sense so I'm just going to shut up." He's looking down at the floor during his entire speech and when he finally looks up he jumps back because Derek is right in front of him.
And Derek takes Stiles' face between his hands.
And kisses him.
The kiss is sweet and intimate and only lasts for a few seconds, but it's all Stiles needs, it's all he wants right now. Fuck he needs this so bad it almost aches, so he leans forward and kisses Derek once, twice, three times more and then pulls away so he can look into those brown eyes that he totally doesn't melt over nope.
"You're right," Derek begins, his right thumb caressing Stiles' cheek, "you're absolutely right and I can't believe it took us nearly dying to realize it."
And he's kissing Stiles again, a long and sweet kiss that Stiles almost faints at because holy crap Derek Hale can be sweet and loving and this is all too much for Stiles' brain to handle.
But his mind is clear, and right now he doesn't want to be anywhere else. He feels organized and clean and neat, he wants Derek to be his new routine because right now, in this moment that's all that really counts.
Stiles wakes up from his alarm to the smell of waffles. And Stiles loves waffles. He rolls out of Derek's bed straight away and shuffles down the stairs, his eyes still half closed from sleep. He's reminded of those cartoons where they just follow the smell down some stairs as if they were just gliding and Stiles feels the same way right now because holy crap waffles. He walks out into the kitchen in his boxer briefs only and there's Derek, making breakfast and coffee and setting the table.
"I thought I'd make you breakfast for a change," Derek says, turning his back to Stiles to plate up the waffles.
Stiles just stares. It's totally messing up his routine but...he doesn't feel nervous or anxious as if the world is going to end or as if something bad is going to happen. Which is when he realizes that he's not even dressed. He didn't even do his morning routine. And he doesn't even feel bad about it, not one bit. He warily takes a few steps forward and when he doesn't feel any change, he takes a few more and sits down on the chair that Derek has pulled out for him. He rubs his eyes awake a few times and the waffles are placed in front of him and Derek just stands by his side as Stiles watches the waffles as if they're going to change into something like cockroaches or mosquitoes and he's going to wake up as if this is all a dream. He looks up at Derek who leans down and plants a kiss on Stiles' lips and Stiles smiles and so does Derek and crap why does Stiles never have his phone when he needs it?!
"Is everything okay? I shouldn't have made breakfast, I know you like to do it and..."
"No," Stiles cuts him off, "no it's fine, it's good, it's...I'm calm."
And it's true. By sheer accident, he's broken his routine. And he doesn't even feel bad about it.
He told himself he wasn't OCD. He told himself he wasn't crazy. He just likes to be organized and neat and routine. That burden of tension doesn't feel like much of a burden anymore.