**Many thanks to orionastro for another great prompt resulting in another great fic!**
Stiles dropped the flowers rather unceremoniously on the ground. They had seemed like a good idea at the store, but now the wilting white carnations just seemed stupid in the empty graveyard. He knew that the hot summer sun would fry them tomorrow, but he didn't want to take them back with him either. Really, at this point, all he wanted to do was leave. He'd been flipping the day over and over in his mind for the past few weeks, but now that he was actually here, staring his mother's grave down in the waning red light. His sweat began to cool as the shadows of the surrounding trees lengthened to grant him some mercy from the California sun. He crossed his arms, his tank top and shorts no longer enough to keep him warm as the daylight came to an end. Once again, he chastised himself for not having come earlier in the day.
He'd just been trying to put off the inevitable. No matter what, he knew that he couldn't skip visiting his mother's grave on the anniversary of her death. This year, however, was the first in which he wouldn't have the support of his father. The Sheriff had to work that night, though Stiles could still see the footprints from when he'd come that morning. Now, Stiles wished he hadn't decided it was time for some alone time with his mother. It all suddenly seemed too soon.
Her memory was starting to fade from his day to day life. He no longer thought of her throughout the day, but only once or twice. He could now walk into the kitchen without seeing her reading the newspaper at the table, humming tunelessly. He stopped smelling her perfume every time he walked into his dad's room. The only place that he could still see her was the attic, but he hardly ever went in there. Although it was a fairly unused room in their house, her presence lingered there most. The smell of the old room was probably what kept her memory clinging to his mind; she used the room to dry the herbs she used to grow in the garden. Though she wasn't much of a cook, Stiles' mother made up for her lack of ability by adding generous and flavorful spices to everything. She would even crush up a few flakes of spearmint in his cereal. She always claimed that it would keep him healthy, though Stiles never knew her to be particularly health-conscious. Most of her jars of herbs and spices were still untouched, shelved in the attic, as well as several bundles of herbs that had been drying for years now. Her herb garden was woefully overgrown now, but neither Stiles nor the Sheriff could bring themselves to disturb what was once hers.
All of these memories were making it much harder to face his mom. He sat down on the cool grass, drawing his knees up to his chest. Somehow, it seemed as if no time had passed since the first time he and his dad had come down to see her on the anniversary of her death. He still felt like a sad, confused little kid, wanting nothing more than to run into the tall trees and hide from all of his problems. Back then, he always figured that he'd know the answers once he grew up and matured. He assumed that he would know how to deal with this, that he would know why it happened. The older he got, however, the less sense he could make of it. The only thing that time had done was dull the sharp edge of his grief and make her face harder to conjure up in his mind.
A warm drop fell on his knee. He looked up at the cloudless sky for a moment before he realized that he was crying. Wiping the tears from his face, Stiles choked back a sob. How could he still cry after all this time? After all the pain he'd already gone through? Every year, he was shocked to find that the anniversary was just as painful as every year before. Nothing was any easier, and new challenges arose as the years went by. He found himself realizing different things that his mother could have helped him with, like writing his papers for English or helping him talk to girls. Each year brought fresh pain as he thought of the life that she was missing out on, and the things that she would never be able to see. Tears continued to well in his eyes, despite his efforts to keep them at bay.
Suddenly, a warm hand landed on his bare shoulder, soothing the chilled flesh. He looked up, his tear-stained face hoping to look up and see that his mother was the source of this comforting touch. Instead, Scott stood by his side, his face placid and understanding. Stiles' mouth turned into a hard line, and he took a deep breath through his nose in an attempt to regulate his breathing. "Hey," he said in a small voice, afraid that speaking any louder would make his voice crack.
"Hey," Scott replied, crouching down beside his friend. His dark eyes looked over the tall tombstone, taking in the words that were already familiar to him.
Stiles sighed. "What are you doing here?" he asked obligatorily.
"I dunno," Scott replied, his hand still heavy on Stiles' shoulder. "I knew your dad was working, and I just..."
Silence hung in the air for a moment. "Well, you don't have to do this," Stiles responded. "I'm fine."
"Okay," Scott responded simply, continuing his perusal of the graveyard.
Stiles' mom had always been fond of Scott. She said that she knew he and Stiles were going to be good friends for a long time. Stiles often found that she was right about the things she predicted. He doubted, however, that she would have ever foreseen Scott becoming a werewolf. If she could have only seen the troubles that have taken place in Stiles' world after Scott's transformation, she would have been floored. Stiles felt a little bit better, knowing that he wouldn't have to lie to her. He doubted that he would be able to lie to the sickly form that lied in bed for days at a time for those last few months.
As if he could sense Stiles' thoughts turning dark again, Scott slid his arm around the boy's shoulders while he sat down on the ground, lightly hugging the boy. Stiles looked up at him with his tear-stained eyelashes clumped together, and Scott hugged him tightly to his broad chest. Stiles couldn't deny how much safer he felt in his friend's warm arms, pressed against his hard chest. He felt like he could stay there for days, close to his mom and curled in his best friend's arms. Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to luxuriate in the oddly comforting moment.
"How late is your dad working?" Scott asked, his voice rumbling against Stiles' back. Cracking his eyes open, Stiles was confused for a moment as to how he'd come to be lying with his back against Scott's chest, his friend's legs on either side of his own and one arm protectively draped across his pale chest.
"Er- sorry, did I doze off?" Stiles asked, taking stock of the stars above them.
Scott blushed slightly. "Yeah, just for a... few minutes..." Scott replied as Stiles scrambled to his feet. "I didn't mean to wake you, I was just..."
"No, no, it's fine," Stiles replied, stretching his stiff muscles. "And my dad is working all night, he won't be home until the morning."
Scott stood up next to him. "Do you want me to drive you home?" Scott offered.
Stiles shook his head. "No, but thanks..." he said, already feeling bad that his friend went through all of this trouble for him. "I'll just... go now... And, uh, thanks, Scott."
"It was no problem," Scott replied quietly, watching Stiles trudge through the tall grass toward his Jeep. He stood, observing the boy as he made his exit, hoping that he'd turn around and extend himself to Scott in some way. At this point, it was hard for Scott to see the boy he secretly loved going through so much pain. He wanted to help in some way. But as the red lights started to fade in the distance, Stiles didn't even glance in the rear view mirror.
Derek squinted, trying to hide the red reflections the tail lights made in his eyes. Had Stiles looked back, he would've noticed a pair of red eyes watching them, as they had been all night. Being careful to keep downwind and out of smelling distance, Derek watched Scott cradle the sleeping Stiles for hours. A tinge of worry clouded his thoughts as he considered the possibility that Stiles was Scott's mate. If so, this could pose a problem to Derek's plan for making a pack to fend off the Alphas. Banishing the thought until he had more proof, Derek paid closer attention as Scott started running through the woods. He followed the boy, hoping that he was just going home. Derek knew he would be no match for a Stilinski.