The Day After

Stiles always loved Valentine's Day; the romance, the flowers, the sappy cards with hearts. He loved every last mushy overly glittered bit of it. This is why he ended up disappointed every year after fifth grade when it was no longer mandatory that everyone gave out Valentine's to their classmates. Since then he hadn't received a single one even though he kept giving them each year.

Scott would blush and moan about how Stiles needed to stop being so girly. "Damn, Stiles, don't you care what people will think? I do! We are together all the time I don't want them thinking we're a couple. I would like to have a girlfriend before I become an old man."

Lydia would open her yearly card, each one bigger and fancier than the year before, with a delicately manicured finger. Her lip would curl up ever so slightly as she read the card but in the end she would dump it into her purse with the other cards and trinkets she collected from her many admirers on Valentine's Day.

Stiles continued to hand out cards through middle school and into high school to friends, acquaintances, and even teachers. The look on Harris' face when he opened the overly pink card and glittered hearts fell out was almost priceless. The constant threats of detention for the rest of the period, not so much.

But by the end of the day, like each holiday before, he returned home empty handed to double check the mailbox one last time before heading inside to play video games and procrastinate on his English assignment.

"Are you doing your Charlie Brown impression again this year?" His dad asked as he stepped out of his cruiser to watch as Stiles checked once more in case a card had been shoved to the back.

"Who?"

"Bald headed cartoon kid. He was always waiting by the mailbox for the red headed little girl to send him a Valentine's card." At Stiles' look of utter confusion he continued. "It's the same kid from the Christmas cartoon with the sad little tree and the dog that dances. Come on, you have to know who I am talking about."

Knowing it drove his dad crazy when Stiles didn't know references from the 'way past before computers' he continued to give him his best blank stare until his dad threw up his arms and stalked inside mumbling about kids these days and their lack of culture.

Stiles hadn't given his dad a card since that first Valentine's after his mom died. That had been the worst one ever bringing up too many memories of good times and their happy family. His dad had hugged him hard and then drank most of the bottle that he kept hidden in the top cabinet above the refrigerator. It was a day Stiles was not willing to repeat.

A few hours of mindless slaughter on the computer and fifteen minutes of English and Stiles was ready for bed. Another Valentine's Day passed him by he thought with a sigh as he fell asleep tangled in his sheets.

The next morning was bright and clear; the sky so blue you would think it had been painted fresh that morning. Humming Stiles headed off to school and then afterwards to the pack meeting at the crumbling hulk that was the Hale house.

Stopping for snacks Stiles was the last to arrive. Derek was unloading the back of his car, hauling huge boxes with the ease that only a werewolf could manage. "You're late," he growled over the edge of a box before placing it down and reaching for something on the front seat. "Here."

Stiles knew somewhere in the back of his head that he must look like a landed fish gasping for air as he stood there with his mouth hanging open. Derek had handed him a large heart shaped box crinkly with cellophane wrapping and a bright red ribbon.

His very own Valentine's.

He probable over reacted just a bit but in his defense it was his first Valentine's in five years and it was from the man he had been secretly in love with for the past year. Stiles threw his arms around Derek's neck and kissed him soundly. Lips pressing urgently against the older man's, coaxing his way inside to trace the contours of his mouth and swirl around his tongue. Derek pulled him closer and deepened the kiss until Stiles was heady from lack of oxygen but unwilling to be the one to break away.

"Hey, Derek!" Called Erica from inside the house. "Thanks for the Valentine's candy."

"Not like it's that big a deal," Jackson's voice carried down the stairs. "All this crap is half off after this crap holiday is over. It's not like he actually spent that much money on us."

Stiles' lungs seized, filling with ice until he thought his chest would crack wide open. "Oh," he said in a small voice. "Oh," he repeated as he backed away, candy filled heart dropping to his feet in the dirt. "God, sorry, Derek. Sorry."

Turning he dove into his jeep jammed the keys into the ignition and was blazing down the driveway before Derek could finish yelling his name. The alpha ran after him but Stiles never looked back.

Stiles drove through the night and most of the next day. He drove as the scenery changed around him from densely wooded forests to rolling hills and on until the sun baked the land, coloring the mountains in oranges and reds. He drove for three days until his money, and then his gas, ran out.

He was found stalled on the side of the road by a reservation patrol car. The older man, skin lined deeply from the harsh summer sun, walked slowly up to the side of the jeep and peered inside.

"You're a long way from home son."

"Not long enough."

"You packed rather light for such a long trip."

"It was a spur of the moment thing. Didn't really think it through."

"Hmmmm." The officer walked slowly back to his vehicle to run the plates while Stiles let himself continue to bake in the heat of his jeep. After a short eternity the officer returned, leaning into the jeep as he looked over the desolate boy.

"Seems there is quite a search going on for you. The sheriff of Beacon Hills is mighty worried and wants his boy back safe and sound. Why don't you come with me? I'll get my brother in law to tow your jeep to town and you can wait for your dad to catch up with you at my house. My wife will enjoy the challenge of trying to fatten you up."

Stiles didn't argue just let himself be lead to the cruiser in silence. Stiles was dropped off in front of a small three bedroom house and met by a short woman with long hair worn in a tight braid. She took one look at Stiles and pulled him into a tight embrace. "Heart sore," she murmured to her husband who nodded wisely.

Stiles spent the next day and a half tucked inside a woven blanket on the couch falling in and out of a fretful sleep. When he was awake Marra would try to get him to eat or just sit next to him as she braded long strands of cord into intricate baskets.

"You are a quiet young man."

Stiles felt a humorless chuckle escape him. "Not really. I'm not at my best right now."

"I think your heart saw the truth but your fears stole that truth away." She switched out the cords for a darker color and continued to weave.

"I think my heart just made a fool of itself."

"Maybe. Maybe that is just your fear." The basket took shape under her supple fingers, dark wolves running the perimeter in long, graceful leaps. Dark eyes turned to the door as she finished the last row, adding a double twist at the top and tucking the cord back along its path so it disappeared completely giving the impression that the top was a solid circle. "Now you must face the unrest your actions have brought upon you loved ones."

She handed him the wolf basket, wrapping his fingers around its sides and rose to open the door and let his father inside. Stiles had never seen his father look so old, the lines around his eyes were deeper and his mouth was small and tight.

"Stiles." Two steps and he was in his father's arms, pressed tightly to his shoulder as the tears poured down his face. Choking sobs followed and his dad held him until they came to a shuttering stop. "What happened?"

"I was a fool. Such a fool. I'm sorry dad; I didn't mean to just leave like that. I wasn't thinking. It just hurt too much."

Sighing, the sheriff held his son tighter, giving him the support he needed in his pain. "It's going to be okay son. In time it will get better."

Marra walked up to the two men with a large basket filled with food and drinks. "For your ride home. My brother has a job waiting for him out west and will drive your jeep back for you. Take your son home sheriff, he is needed more than he knows."

The ride back was tense. The sheriff tried to get Stiles to open up, explain his sudden exodus from Beacon Hills but Stiles remained mostly silent only speaking to apologize and promise to never do it again. Three days later they were back home and Stiles slowly trudged up to his room.

"Stiles, I need to know that you are going to be okay. You aren't going to do something…" The sheriff couldn't find the words, his fear of losing his son trapping the sounds in his throat.

"No dad, promise." Crawling into bed, Stiles pulled the covers over his head and tried to pretend that Valentine's Day never existed.

His phone rang all weekend long but Stiles ignored the missed calls and left his text messages unanswered. He appeared downstairs briefly for breakfast and dinner with his father but otherwise had become one with the bed and comforter.

Monday came too soon.

His father drove him to campus and waited patiently while Stiles built the courage to open the car door. Scott helped him out as he bounded across the yard and up to the cruiser. "Stiles," he crowed as he pulled him out of the vehicle and into a tight hug. "I was so worried about you. You just disappeared. We looked everywhere for you."

"Come straight home and call me when you get there." The sheriff called as he pulled away trusting that Scott would get Stiles into the building. Stiles flopped his hand at the end of his wrist in a half-hearted wave as Scott dragged him into the building.

It seemed that everyone knew his name all of a sudden. He received hugs and pats on the back on his way to his locker where Allison was waiting. "Welcome back," she gushed clinging to him until Stiles wiggled away.

Half way to chemistry he was tag teamed by the blond duo, both wolves wrapping their arms around him and forcing him into a Stiles sandwich. They each pressed their noses to his neck and just breathed as if trying to draw him into their lungs.

At lunch Boyd pressed his heavy hand to the back of Stiles' neck for an uncomfortably long period of time before taking up his usual seat and eating lunch, glancing upwards every few minutes as if to check that Stiles was still there.

Even Jackson and Lydia seemed to have notice Stiles' absence pausing briefly in their preening to welcome him back with what seemed like genuine smiles. But it was all just too much for Stiles who slipped quietly out the side door after lunch and started walking his way home. He sent a quick text to his dad so as not to send him into a panic when the no-show call appeared for fifth period.

He had walked about six blocks when he noticed the black car following him. After another block it pulled up next to him and Derek called out the window. "Stiles get in the car."

Pulling his hood up Stile ignored the dark haired wolf and continued down the side walk until he reached the end of the street to find his path blocked by a black Camaro and a pissed off alpha. "Get your ass in the car NOW Stiles."

Stiles stared at Derek's knees for a minute until he decided that it just wasn't worth the effort to fight him and let himself into the front seat. He kept his head down, resting against the tinted window for the duration of the trip home. Stiles was opening the and halfway out before Derek had a chance to park in his driveway.

"Damn it Stiles. Wait. We need to talk." Derek caught the door before Stiles could shut it in his face and slowly pushed his way in carrying a large basket under his arm.

Unable to match Derek in the strength department, Stiles let go of the door and walked into the living room, flopping gracelessly onto the couch. He could feel his chest tightening and the telling prickle behind his eyes. He bit the inside of his lip and tried to focus on the tattered ties of his shoes instead of the sexy werewolf in his living room.

The werewolf he had kissed and made a fool of himself with just over a week ago.

"Stiles you need to listen to me. We have to talk about what happened. I'm not leaving until I have my say." Stiles remained silent as the alpha paced back and forth in front of the couch waiting for him to come to some sort of point.

He was expecting a gentle let down, a speech about how he was a great guy but Derek wasn't in to him that way. But what came out of Derek's mouth was completely unexpected.

"I never wanted you to feel like you were some sort of half priced holiday to me. Damn it, I bought you that candy a week before but couldn't work up the courage to give it to you so I waited, bought that cheap crap for the betas so that I could have an excuse. And then your face lit up when I handed you that heart and you were in my arms kissing me and I though, finally I've done something right until Erica and Jackson had to open their damn mouths. Then you just left. I couldn't catch you, couldn't find you and all I could think, all I could see was the way you looked in that last second, like I had taken all the light out of you and crushed it beneath my boots."

Panting, Derek dropped to the couch next to Stiles and shoved the basket into his arms. "I don't know how to fix this. I'm not good with words or feelings or, shit, anything to do with emotions. All I could think of was showing you that you were never some sort of after-thought to me, a holiday gift remembered a day too late. I wanted to show you that you were the first thing that I think of no matter what the day."

Stiles let his fingers slowly unwrap the items that lay scattered within the giant basket entranced by the amount of words that flowed from Derek's mouth. There were brightly colored Easter eggs filled with his favorite chocolates, green shamrocks that glittered brightly, a red white and blue pin wheel clutched in the wing of a smiling turkey, and a black cat wearing a witch's hat peeking out of a Christmas stocking filled with gift cards for the local theater.

"There's a lot of holidays in here." Stiles didn't dare let the hope that was creeping up the inside of his chest take hold. He knew that it could only lead to more pain so he swallowed it down.

"And I want to spend them all with you."

That hope he had forced down and swallowed back returned with a vengeance pressing from the inside, forcing his heart to beat wildly against his chest. Hearing the change in Stiles' cardio tempo, Derek lifted the basket off his lap and placed it gently on the coffee table before moving in to claim his lips.

Derek took his time, his kiss completely different from their first frantic lip lock. Threading his fingers through the short hair on Stiles' head he pulled the teen closer until Stiles was sitting in his lap, knees spread on either side of him.

Pulling away but keeping Stiles pressed close to his chest, Derek reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small card in a bright red envelope. With uncertain fingers Stiles opened it.

His eyes scanned the card and then his face lit up with the biggest smile before Stiles was plastered once more to Derek's side, lips caressing and nipping his wolf's smiling mouth. He broke away for just a second to whisper "yes" before deepening the kiss and pushing his love further down upon the couch.

The card with the message "Be Mine" lay open on the floor at their feet. It may have been a few days late but it was a card Stiles would never forget.

AN: Happy Valentine's Day