Title: Moment Out of Time
Author: Sparkle Itamashii
Notes: Fair warning of death. Written for Chasing, because... well.
Moment Out of Time
Soft white light from Stiles' computer screen spilled out over his keyboard, meeting gently with the golden afternoon light. The room was in disarray, clothes strewn in a line from the closet, half the dresser drawers open haphazardly, and a mountain of papers toppled over one side of the desk, sheets scattered by the impact. The only point of calm was the bed, perfectly made, pristine. Wherever Stiles had slept or not slept, it hadn't been the bed behind him.
His leg bounced restlessly on the thick blue carpet of his bedroom, dress shoe still managing to make a heavy noise as it tapped. He sat close to the desk, his chest pressed up against the edge, his head pillowed on his folded arm so that he could look sideways at the screen of the laptop. A faint smile ghosted over his lips as his finger tapped gently on the arrow key and another image slid into view.
He was gorgeous, really, in his white tux, with his hair gelled by Stiles not an hour previous as they had fussed with their ties and bickered under their breath, under their smiles. In the picture he was on one knee, listening attentively to the little girl who had her pudgy fingers wrapped around his pinky. Her mouth was wide open, babbling in a language no one understood, but was exciting anyway. Scott would tell anyone that would listen that she already knew at least 20 words.
Derek again, with a lap full of giggling two year old, her fingers grabbing for his hair. Stiles could practically hear her squealing in delight, hands flexing in exuberance. In the next moment Scott would pluck her from away from Derek, hoist her into his arms and go looking for mommy. Stiles would try not to sigh at the way Derek scowled after Scott, because he'd been having fun, even if he would have to get the tux cleaned that night to rid himself of the raspberry colored stains on his lapels.
Lydia this time, from across the room. Her arms were folded across her chest as she examined something with a very skeptical eye. Stiles had been so nervous asking her to take care of all the planning, but it was for the best. She knew them, was practically his best friend after Scott had gotten married. If anyone could have planned the perfect wedding, it was Lydia.
Allison beside Lydia now, holding Victoria on her hip, pointing at something across the chapel. Lydia's eyes were following where she pointed, an intense look of concentration tightening her face. A small smile tugged at Stiles' lips; they'd been discussing lighting, he recalled.
His father, dressed nicely but not in the tux he was supposed to wear for the wedding. It was only the rehearsal, after all, and only he and Derek had been required by their friends to play dress-up - 'For realism' Scott teased him every time he protested. Next to his father was Chris Argent, his arms crossed, the two of them in deep conversation. Stiles didn't want to know what about; when the sheriff crossed paths with the resident Hunter of the town, they got into the sorts of mischief that even Stiles and Scott could not top.
Peter had joined them, and there are red Solo cups in all their hands, and Stiles wondered when exactly that had become his life. The sheriff, the hunter, and the ex-alpha; a trio composed entirely of nothing but insanity.
A photo of Stiles, a grin splitting his face nearly in two, gesturing to Isaac in a grand manner while Boyd looked on. Isaac's soft smile was less rare that evening, and if Stiles noticed the thread of Isaac's fingers into Boyd's on no less than three occasions, well, he didn't mention it.
Stiles, up to his ears in a hug from Melissa as she arrived a little late, still in her hospital scrubs. No one dared breathe a word against her outfit, though, because she would have had them by the ear in a heartbeat. Stiles knew what it was like to be on the wrong side of that wrath, and rehearsal weddings were not the appropriate place.
A shot with a slight tilt to it, and Stiles remembered overhearing the conversation that went along with it. He remembered watching Peter's fingers adjust Derek's tie because Derek had been fiddling with it all afternoon. He remembered the soft murmur of Peter's voice saying "Your parents would have been so proud of you, Derek." He remembered the smile they had shared, the last two wolves standing from the Hale pack. He remembered how completely humbled he had felt in that moment, to know he was going to be accepted into that pack shortly.
Stiles froze, mind stuttering to a halt. He'd forgotten this one. He'd forgotten the moment when Derek pulled him aside because he was breathing just a little too fast, because his heartbeat was just a touch too rapid, too panicked. The way Derek had taken him to a quiet corner, his hands warm on either side of Stiles' jaw, their foreheads pressed together. He could practically hear the low, soft murmur of Derek telling him it was okay, that there was no pressure now or later, that these people all loved them very much, that nothing at all was going to go wrong.
Stiles mashed his finger into the key to change it.
At the altar, Stiles standing to the right, Derek to the left, and Stiles could swear he looked bored out of his skull, but he remembered the butterflies like a hurricane in his belly. Derek looked to be tolerating the fuss only because he got to look at Stiles through all of it without anyone being able to say a word. They should have practiced their vows then; Stiles had insisted they write their own, and his were sitting on note cards in his pocket currently, and he didn't know how he was going to say them now.
Away from the church at last, at where the dinner would be held, a long table outfitted with plates and silverware and fancy glasses. Stiles remembered the glasses, because he had broken one and Derek cut himself on the pieces as they cleaned it up. No one had batted an eye when he healed almost instantly, and that was perhaps the best moment of the rehearsal. For one, crystal moment Derek's breath had caught in his throat and he looked up, but there was no one there who would hurt him anymore.
The group pose, where everyone crammed in together, while the patient waitress took their picture. Of course there were three of those pictures and not one of them had everyone smiling or with their eyes open at the same time, and Scott seemed to think it was his business to give Stiles bunny ears and joke about getting eaten. Allison was shooting him a look while Lydia rolled her eyes and Isaac and Boyd hid smiles behind their hands because neither of them wanted to get in trouble again.
Scott's mother, standing at the front of the table, a glass in one hand and a fork in the other and everyone was staring at her with such rapt attention Stiles could almost hear the glass clink again. He was glad they chose her to direct the dinner, because no one messed with her, not even Scott, and that meant that they'd been able to sit down to food that was too fancy and came too slow. In the end Stiles couldn't mind, because Derek was sweet and let him pick food off his plate after Derek cut it up even though he would say things like 'you have your own plate, you know.' But he took the bits Stiles didn't want when Stiles wasn't looking, and really it was perfect.
Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat, because that look in Derek's eyes, the way he watched Stiles when Stiles wasn't even looking. It was like Stiles was his whole world- and maybe he was sometimes. Maybe the way he was leaning over to whisper conspiratorial things to Scott, and the twine of his fingers in Derek's between their plates, and the scent of his soft cologne really were Derek's world sometimes.
It's really nothing compared to the way Stiles looked back at him, and if there was a slight blush on Stiles' cheeks when he saw the next picture, a touch of embarrassment at how utterly smitten he looked, at least there was no one in the room to see. They'd gotten enough of an eyeful at the rehearsal to last them a lifetime, he was sure.
There were dozens more pictures in the folder, some of them from phones, some of them from cameras. Most of them were from the photographer that Lydia had insisted they hire, and Stiles couldn't find it in himself to regret it. He would have them printed, sometime, and bound into a book, and he would put it on a shelf where he could see it every day.
There was a soft rap on his door, enough to draw his attention away from his screen. His father stood in the doorway, dressed nearly as nicely as Stiles was in his white tuxedo, and Stiles appreciated the solidarity.
"Come on, kiddo," his father said gently, giving him a soft smile. "Time to go."
Stiles swallowed, looking back to the screen. His tapping had stopped on a photo at the altar, snapped from Allison's phone. Little Victoria stood at their heels, a small box that had held two rings inside of it in her hands. Stiles and Derek stood face to face, their hands clasped, the rings in their hands rather than on their fingers because it was only a rehearsal after all. Beyond them stood Scott, wearing a white band around his neck that Stiles knew didn't belong to him, his mouth gaping as he spewed fake marriage lingo like he didn't remember every single word from his own wedding.
There was a smile on Derek's face, and Stiles thought perhaps that was the most beautiful thing about the picture. About any of the pictures, especially knowing that Stiles was the cause.
Stiles clicked the X in the corner and the slideshow winked closed. Grabbing his tuxedo jacket, he whirled it into the air, settled it over his shoulders as he shoved his arms in. His dad moved out of the way, then reached in to close the door behind him. The soft clack of the latch echoed around the empty room, clattering over the soft hum of the laptop.
On the screen, behind the slideshow, laid a web page Stiles hadn't closed in a week. It was black and white, a scan of a newspaper article, the photo at its heart grainy and just as colorless. The car was nearly unrecognizable, a twisted, smoking heap of metal wrapped around a street lamp, its other side crushed in by the hood of another car, by the drunk behind the wheel.
No survivors, read the article.
A tragedy, it said, so simply, like it hadn't been Stiles' whole life, his whole future, his soul mate. Like it hadn't been Derek who wasn't coming back, who would never make their wedding, who Stiles was going to see today, just one last time before six feet of earth separated them forever.
In the quiet of the empty room, the screen flickered once, dimmed, and then went out.