Summary: A worried Stiles goes looking for Derek and finds him, alone and depressed, in the abandoned distillery. Tag to s3 e8, "Visionary," friendship / pre-slash. Hurt / comfort, drama, angst, one-shot.
I Know You
Stiles parked his Jeep a half mile away from the distillery. He didn't want to sneak up on it, but he also didn't want it to sound like a half-dozen people were about to burst in. So, he walked. At two in the morning, all alone, Stiles walked through the woods to the abandoned building. He'd gone looking everywhere else he could think of: the loft, the cable car station, the burned bones of the old Hale house, Ms. Blake's apartment, the still fresh grave where they buried Erica and the other where they buried Boyd, even what was left of the Druid hideout beneath an oak tree – the one Peter told him about only hours before. If Derek wasn't here, Stiles decided, then he was gone. Long gone.
When he thought that he was within earshot of the werewolf's hearing, Stiles stopped and said aloud, "Derek, if you're in there, if you can hear me I…" The teen struggled to find the right words. "I'm worried – I mean, we're all worried about you. I wanted to – we wanted to make sure you're all right. If you want to be alone, dude, I totally understand but…" Stiles took a deep breath and rubbed his left arm with his right. "But if you're ok with company then, I don't know, give me a sign or something."
Stiles stared at the moonlit building and counted to one hundred. Twice. He tried again: "Cora and I heard a story from Peter, a story about you when you were in high school. A story about… Uh, look, I understand why you're upset about Boyd – you know, aside from the obvious death stuff." Stiles mentally kicked himself for choosing the worst time ever to try to be funny. "I know that you had to do that before – you've been forced, before, to kill someone you care about. And I just wanted to say I'm sorry."
Still nothing. No movement, no text on his phone, no sign. Stiles pursed his lips and made one last effort. "I brought beer," he said.
Suddenly Stiles saw a light through one of the many cracks in the building. If was a soft, warm light. Someone lit a candle.
Stiles forced himself to walk instead of sprint to the building. He found an open door, walked down a dark corridor and emerged into a tall, windowed room the size of the school gym. Derek stood in the center. He had his back to Stiles, his arms folded behind him, old newspapers burning in a small metal trashcan at his feet. Stiles approached his friend like he was a rabid dog about to pounce. "I lied about the beer," he admitted, softly. "Want me to leave?"
Derek sighed. His rough voice proved that he'd been crying. "Stay," he whispered.
Stiles nodded but didn't respond. Slowly, almost on tiptoe, he walked over to Derek, circumvented him and stood on the opposite side of the small fire. He mirrored Derek's posture and waited, patiently, for him to speak.
Fifteen minutes passed. And then, Derek suddenly asked, "Why aren't you afraid of me?"
Stiles blinked. He stuffed his fists in his jeans pockets and looked at everything except Derek. "Afraid?"
"Afraid of us. Most people, if they encountered a werewolf, even if it was their best friend, they'd head, screaming, for the hills. But you've stuck by Scott." Firelight flickered off of Derek's wet eyes. "You're here, alone, with me. A werewolf – a killer werewolf. Why aren't you afraid of me?"
"Because…" Stiles shrugged. "Because I know you. You're Derek Hale, not Killer Werewolf. I don't think of what you are, I think of who you are."
Derek snorted and rolled his eyes. "That's what Jennifer said." He sounded almost annoyed by that. "That's exactly what she said. And that's what Paige…" His voice broke and he couldn't speak for several long seconds. "It's the 'what' I am that killed her. I bet she wasn't thinking about 'who' while she was dying in my arms." Derek suddenly turned and punched a dent into the metal siding.
Stiles saw the bottle, then. A large water bottle beside the fire that looked like it was full of grape Kool-Aid. Curious, Stiles picked it up and held it above the light. Little white pods floated in the purple punch. Stiles unscrewed the cap and sniffed at the concoction.
It was definitely not Kool-Aid.
"Give me that!" Derek reappeared at Stiles' side and snatched the bottle out of his hands.
Stiles stood so still he might have turned to stone. "Is that why you came here?" he asked softly. "You came out here to poison yourself with wolf's bane and mistletoe – you came out here to kill yourself?"
Derek set the bottle down, almost reverently, back beside the fire. "No," he said equally quietly, "I came out here to think about it. I haven't decided yet."
Stiles rubbed his fingers through his hair, accidentally tearing out a few pieces in the process. "I'm pretty sure that obtaining the means to kill yourself and choosing a place to do it is a step past the decision phase. That bottle might as well be a loaded gun or a lit flare above a lake of gasoline!"
Derek winced. "It's hard to kill me. Think of how many people have tried. From the inside out may be the best way…" Derek turned his back on Stiles. "Maybe you should go."
"Or maybe I should do this." Stiles grabbed the bottle and tossed it towards the fire.
Lightning fast, Derek snatched it before it even touched smoke. "You almost killed yourself, you idiot!" he shouted. "Do you know how many chemicals I mixed into this? And how many of them are combustible?"
Stiles fumed. "Dude, I know, I smelled it. I risked burning to death to save Scott – why wouldn't I risk it for you?"
"Why the hell would you?" Derek demanded.
"For the same reason I'm not afraid of you!" Stiles yelled back.
"You don't get it!" Derek's eyes flashed red. "All I do is get people hurt, Stiles! Everyone would be better off without me!"
"Better off – Derek, when we thought you died from that fall, Boyd and Isaac were so messed up about it that they could barely control their rage!"
Derek deflated slightly. "That doesn't mean anything. Ultimately, that doesn't mean anything. I sired them, I'm their Alpha. If anyone else, including Deucalion, was their Alpha they'd feel just as bad. That's just how werewolves are."
"What about Scott?" Stiles demanded. "He's technically not part of your pack. He was grieving so – so intensely that he couldn't heal! He felt so lost without you that he almost died! And what about Cora? What about me?"
Derek stared at Stiles like he'd sprouted another limb. "Your life has been hell since you met me," Derek said, low in his voice. "You've saved my life before and I've saved yours, but you're not my packmate. You think you know me, Stiles, but you don't! We're barely friends."
Stiles marched around the fire and right up to Derek's chin. "I do know you," he said. "I know that all you've ever done in your own stupid, fucked up way is try to help people. I know that you would give your life for your family, for your pack. And I know you've been protecting Beacon Hills for years! My dad's the sheriff – duh – and I can't tell you how many times he would shake his head and wonder who was saving people behind the scenes. How many werewolves have run away from this town with their wolf tails between their legs because of you? You think you don't matter? That we don't need you? If there is any chance in hell we can defeat the Alphas and the Darach, it's because of you. We're screwed without you. If you kill yourself, Derek, you're killing us, too."
The tiniest drop of water collated in Derek's eye. "I didn't know – I didn't think anyone noticed—"
"Noticed you're a hero?" Stiles shrugged and held his palms up. "You're ours. You're mine." Keeping eye contact with Derek, Stiles backed up and over to the poison-filled water bottle. "So how about I empty this," he said, tipping it over, "and buy you that beer."
The violet concoction splashed across the dirty floor and became nothing but mud. Derek's shoulders visibly relaxed. When the bottle was empty his eyes woke up, he stood straight and he wore the expression of someone who thought he'd been dreaming. "Stiles…" Derek coughed against his fist and scratched the back of his neck. "You, uh… You're not 21 yet."
"Oh. Right." Stiles tossed the bottle aside and returned his hands to his pockets. "Looks like you're buying. Come on, I'll drive."
Derek said nothing on the way to Stiles' Jeep. He said nothing, but he walked with one arm around the younger man's shoulders, and relaxed even more when Stiles leaned against him.