Derek looked around as he came out to the Arrivals bay and found his family there waiting for him. His mother had tears in her eyes and Scott had a blinding smile on his face. There was a young girl standing next to him and this, he assumed was Allison. He had heard Scott go on and on about her over the phone for a better part of three years. Laura was there too, she had arrived on Friday with most of their luggage while Derek had to stay over the weekend to finish a promotional book signing. John Stilinski walked up to him as he was hugging his mother. Derek turned to him and without a word, John wrapped his arms around Derek. Everyone was in different stages of crying as they made their way over to where the cars were parked. It had been five years since Derek had left Beacon Hills. As they drove through town, he was looking out the window. He had lived all his life in this town and every place reminded him of another time, he felt like he was finally home.

When they got to the house his mother told him that his old room was cleaned up and ready for him. As he looked around the place, it was like he had never left. Like he was seventeen again and that Stiles would just come in and start rambling about the history of male circumcision or why curly fries were better than normal ones. But he didn't.

Derek had spent the whole flight thinking about how it was going to be to see Stiles. What he was going to say to Stiles. And as he had looked for his family at the airport and spotted them, he had felt his heart miss a beat to see them all after so long. But he also couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment as his eyes raked over the crowd to realize that Stiles wasn't there. When John came over to pull him into a hug, there were five seconds of anticipation in there somewhere that maybe Stiles was here after all. But he wasn't.

And Derek didn't see Stiles that day or the next. No one brought him up in conversation either just like they hadn't over the phone for years. Derek had been worried that Stiles still hadn't forgiven him and seeing as how he had been in town for over two weeks and still no Stiles, maybe he was right. He was starting to get that while the rest of them were ready to forget that he was ever gone and accept him back into their lives, maybe things would never be the same with Stiles.

Derek sat in the living room about three weeks after coming back, he was alone at home, Melissa was working and Scott was at school. He sat there watching tv when he felt an irresistible urge to look over at the door. And a wave of nostalgia came crashing over him.

February 24, 1999.

Derek Hale was sitting on the living room couch waiting for his four - I'm almost five - year old brother Scott to return from school so he could make them both something to eat and finally get to his homework. They were playing a rerun of 'Forensic Investigations' on Discovery and he was very interestedly listening to the narrator explain that the fibres found on the victim's body matched the fibres in the suspect's car when the door swung open and not one but two sets of foot-steps entered. Derek turned to look and found his brother followed by another kid his size. This one had a buzz-cut and big brown eyes that seemed to get even bigger as he looked at Derek. He had never seen Scott with any other kids before at school or the play ground and certainly not one at home. He raised an eyebrow at Scott as he made his way to the kitchen.

"This is Stiles, my best friend forever. Stiles, this is my brother Derek."

Stiles? He'd never heard that name before. He liked the sound of it but kept that thought to himself as Scott followed him to the kitchen.

"Derek." He heard a faint voice say and turned to look at Stiles who seemed to be frozen on the spot and looking up at Derek as if there was nothing else interesting enough to catch his attention. He didn't say anything else so Derek just assumed that he was trying out the name perhaps. He opened the fridge to get out a jar of peanut butter and bread.

"Stiles are you just going to stand there or do you want a peanut butter sandwich?"

He heard no reply so he ducked his head around to where Stiles was standing staring at his feet. He looked up after a second and his face was definitely redder than it had been a second ago and he smiled at Derek.

"Yes. Thank you, Derek."

Derek turned around and just busied himself making sandwiches for the boys instead of on dwelling on why he felt lighter than he did a moment ago.

And that was how Scott had met his soul-mate in elementary school and now a week later, Stiles and Scott were inseparable. The day Scott had brought him home, Stiles' mom had called the house and asked Derek where they lived. Within ten minutes of disconnecting the call Derek got up to answer the door and met Aria Stilinski.

Aria had heard from one of the teachers that Scott and Stiles were planning to go to Scott's house after school and that Stiles had ridden the bus with Scott but failed to mention anything to his mom who was waiting for him at home. She had gotten the phone number from the school and driven over as soon as Derek told her the address. After she stood there on the doorstep asking if her son was here, Derek had invited her in.

Surprisingly, she didn't scold Stiles for not telling her. Instead she just told him why she was worried and within seconds Stiles and even Scott was reduced to tears. Derek had seen Scott make puppy-eyes at him for years and he had learned early on to avoid looking at him when he was asking for something but even he had never seen Scott with tears running down his cheeks when Aria hadn't even raised her voice. Stiles was sobbing and chanting ' I'm sorry mom. I'll never do it again' while Aria tried to tell him it was okay.

What had just happened here? This woman had just come in and told Stiles how she was worried because she didn't know where her son was and that she loved him very much so it wasn't fair that he had made her so worried and then Stiles and Scott were blubbering messes of tears and snot. What?

Derek looked at the boys and over at Aria with confusion on his face. Finally when Aria was able to calm the boys down and sent them away to play, she turned to Derek and smiled at him.

"Oh god, they are so precious together."

"Uh, yeah. Yes but—"

"Stiles doesn't really respond well to scolding or being told what to do. I discovered a new way, I just tell him why he shouldn't do something and let him decide. It works most of the time. Makes him feel responsible and old."

That made perfect sense. Huh.

"I'm Aria Stilinski. So rude of me to just barge in and not even introduce myself but I was really worried about him. Sorry."

"I'm Derek. And it's okay. I didn't know they hadn't told you or I would have called."

"Oh that's okay, don't worry about it. Stiles came home the other day talking about how he only liked one boy in school. Scott McCall this, Scott McCall that. That's all I heard all through yesterday. It's good he found someone."

"Yeah, Scott's usually very quiet and doesn't talk to a lot of people. He told me he and Stiles were best friends forever. I don't think they've stopped talking since they came back."

"That's going to be normal. I'm guessing you'll see Scott talking a lot more now."

It took Derek a couple days to realize what Aria meant by that but once he did, he wished he could go back to not knowing. Stiles never shut up and on the rare chance that he did, Scott had his back. Between the two of them, there wasn't a waking hour Derek spent in peace.

But he got used to it, eventually. At first it was hard adjusting to having someone replace him in Scott's life. Scott still looked at him with awe and occasional murderous intent in his eyes but now it was always about Stiles said this and Stiles did this. Derek didn't talk to Stiles at all in the first few weeks. He was just the new kid his brother was hanging out with. And also because Stiles seemed to go stock still whenever he was around. Stiles wouldn't look directly at him or talk to him.

That went away after the third week when Melissa McCall invited Aria and her family over for dinner. Derek had only talked to John Stilinski once and even in their short conversation, John had talked so warmly to Derek and told him to take care that Derek had felt overwhelming respect for the man. And then Melissa had mentioned that John was the Sheriff. Derek was sold.

The dinner was great, everyone talked very comfortably and even for a second Derek didn't feel like he had known these people for just three weeks. Aria had sat next to him and after tip-toeing around awkward silence, they had both started talking about school and before he knew it, Aria was telling him which novels he should most definitely read. And just like that, he felt all formality and pretense fall away.

Family dinners became a weekly thing after that and Aria started baby-sitting when John and Melissa were working and Derek was busy. Melissa gave her a key to the house and their family grew by three.

Years later, it was Derek Aria told about her illness before everyone else. She said she knew it was unfair of her to unload it on Derek but she needed a friend and that's what Derek had been to her for years. He sat there and listened to her describe what the doctors had told her with tears in his eyes. He was months away from graduation and after all the help Aria had given him with his writing, he was applying to Beacon Hills Community College for Creative Writing. All his days were spent studying or writing the prompts Aria gave him so when she had asked him if he had a few hours and if he'd like to go to the bookstore just outside of town. He had asked her why they couldn't just go to Laura's store but she had said it was important and that she'd explain.

He was not prepared for this. They were sitting in a park with coffee forgotten on the bench next to Derek's jacket. He did not how to respond to this. Tears were blurring his vision as Aria put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him closer. He cried for a good ten minutes before turning to her and asking her if she was okay in a barely audible whisper.

"I'm okay, Derek. But I am going to get sick very soon and everyone is going to be very worried and I know it's not fair of me to ask you this but I need you to take of him, Derek. John's going to be devastated and Stiles is going to need someone. Can you do that for me?"

"Yeah."

"I am really sorry I won't be able to help you with school. I wish I could, and I know you will be a great writer some day. I am so proud of you for choosing to do what you love. You'll be great."

Derek just sat there crying on her shoulder as she went on about how the next few months were going to be. It was really hard to sit there with her and listen to her tell him how she was going to fade away in a couple of months and how everyone around her needs to keep going.

When she and Derek had first met, they hadn't connected instantaneously. They were both people who talked a lot but only with someone they were comfortable with. Neither was very good at talking about the weather or global warming. So when they had finally become comfortable with each other, there was no going back.

And that's why the knowledge that Aria would be gone in a few months hit him hard. While he went through life pretending that everything was okay, he needed an outlet. And that's how he met Kate Argent.

Kate was older and beautiful and she paid attention to him. She had come in to the bookstore one day and asked Derek what book he would suggest her. Derek was never good at vocalising his emotions let alone flirting but he hardly needed to because Kate had pushed him against the stacks in the Romance section and kissed him with her tongue down his throat.

Derek fell for her. Hard. Despite of Laura's disapproval, he chose to pursue Kate and within the week, they had had sex twice. Derek felt like he had found exactly what he had been looking for in life. He balanced his life between the final weeks of school, Kate and hospital visits. Aria remarked on how he looked better than he had in weeks. Derek chose not to tell her about Kate. They all suspected he was seeing someone but no one knew for sure. Laura found them making out in the shop and told Kate she wasn't welcome in there anymore. Kate argued and asked to see the owner and the badass that she was, Laura threatened to call the cops if Kate didn't leave.

"I am the owner, bitch." Laura had shouted as Derek and Kate left the shop. Derek refused to talk to Laura for a full week after that.

While he was at the hospital, Aria had sat him down and said something that felt suspiciously like a goodbye. She made him promise that he would take care of himself and everyone. That was the last time Derek had seen Aria.

When he met Kate that day, she told him that she was going back to New York. And when he had asked what about him, she laughed in his face.

"What about you, Derek? I'm getting married next week. This was just my last free-pass I guess. I mean don't get me wrong the sex was great but you're just a kid. You'll find someone." She had patted his cheek condescendingly as he laid next to her trying to form words.

"But I—"

"Ah, ah don't say it. Come on Der, don't spoil it. We both had fun and that's it. You'll get over it."

"But don't you like me?"

"Oh, I like you Derek. I do, but that's not what this is. I'm not going to leave my fiancé for you. It was just fucking. Get over it."

Derek got dressed and stormed out of there and she didn't even stop him. She had laughed as he was hurrying out and called him 'cute.'

That broke him. He was in love and his heart had been broken. He didn't know what to do as he sat on the side-walk trying to pull himself together. His first instinct was to go to Aria but the last time he had seen her, she looked very pale and he did not need to be reminded of that right now. He went to the shop and Laura took one look at him and pulled him into her arms.

He bawled like a baby as she listened to him cry and beg for her forgiveness. She said she was never mad at him and when he had stood up and asked her to go to Berkley with him she had agreed. Just like that.

He went home and sat his mom and Scott down to break the news to them. He had already been accepted at Berkley but he never planned on going there. He had only applied because Aria had told him to keep his options open. His mother threw a fit because he wanted to leave the next day. Scott started crying and Derek felt guilty for springing this on them and not giving them a choice but he was hurting. He was hurting so much that he buried everything else. He didn't even think of Aria when he packed his bags and went to bed that night.

Stiles came to him, the next day. He was in his room getting ready when Stiles had barged into the room without knocking but then he never did.

"Derek?"

That's all he said. And Derek could hear the pain in that one word. He knew what Stiles was going to ask of him but he couldn't give it to him. Not this time, no.

"Stiles, I'm sorry I have to go."

"Please don't."

"I'm sorry, Stiles."

"My mom- she, she's going to be gone, Der. I need you."

"I know but I can't stay. Scott's here. And mom. You'll be fine."

"Why are you doing this? Please don't go."

"I have to, Stiles."

"But why?"

"I am going to school there, Stiles. I, I don't know what to tell you. It's complicated."

"No, it's not. You promised me you'll be there. You promised."

Stiles was on the floor on his knees, crying. His eyes were red from all the crying he must've been doing lately and his voice broke as he struggled to get the words out.

"I'm sorry, Stiles."

"Please don't go. Please. Please."

"I'm sorry, Stiles."

Derek left Stiles kneeling on his bedroom floor, tears streaming down his face as he trembled. He drove over to Laura's and they started their drive over to Berkley. That was the last time he had seen Stiles.

Now, as he sat in his mom's living room he thought back to what an idiot he had been. Of course Stiles didn't want to see him. But it didn't hurt any less that he had lost an important person because of a teenage mistake. Weeks passed before he came back to the house. He and Laura had gotten a loft and he'd promptly moved there to avoid anymore painful, nostalgic memory-lane trips.

It wasn't until he had already parked in front of his childhood home that he realized he wasn't the only one there. Scott had told him that he wanted Derek's help with something since he had hurt his wrist during Lacrosse practice yesterday. Now, he knew that at least Laura and the Sheriff were here because their cars were parked on the street. He still didn't know what this was till he made his way in through the back door.

Derek had always found it easier to get in through the kitchen door instead of ringing the bell. As he carried the bag of groceries he had gotten on his way over, he stopped dead in his tracks as he saw someone standing at the counter with their back to him. It wasn't Scott and before Derek could start to even make a guess, the person turned around because the door behind him slammed shut.

Stiles.

He looked just as surprised as Derek. Ambush, then.

Stiles was still the pale skinned, dark haired kid who had come home with Scott twelve years ago. And he had longer hair now and he was almost as tall as Derek. He was still lanky like he had always been but in the tee shirt that he wore, it showed that his shoulders were broad and there was some definition to his muscles. Lacrosse.

Derek didn't say anything, neither did Stiles. As he was standing there looking at Stiles, so was he. And Derek felt this overwhelming urge to go and change into something better than a plain white tee and jeans. He was side-tracked by it. Where had that come from? But that was the least of his worries right now.

"Stiles"

Stiles didn't say anything for a moment but then he turned around, picked a plate from the counter and started moving toward the living room. He stopped for a second and spoke over his shoulder.

"Glad you're back." And walked out of the kitchen.

Derek was caught between the urge to go after him and leave right now before he made it worse. But there was also blinding rage mixed in. He stood there deciding whose neck he wanted to snap first- Scott's or Laura's.

The tension never eased throughout the dinner as everyone kept glancing at him and Stiles-not very subtle, this lot. Stiles looked just as uncomfortable as he did. But they got through dinner without anyone forcing them to talk and that must've been hard on everyone since they were all fucking meddlers.

Derek decided to get out of there as soon as dinner was over. If Stiles didn't want to see him, he wasn't going to force him. He had no right. As he was walking down the porch steps toward his Camaro, he heard the front door open behind him and he heard Stiles.

"Derek."

Oh god. He hadn't heard Stiles say his name in years. It had a strange pull on him. He couldn't move if he wanted to.

"Do you have a minute?"

Derek just nodded at him, he didn't trust his voice right now. Stiles sat down on the steps and pointed next to him. Derek went over and sat down but not too close.

"Look, I know this awkward. But they really want us to talk. And I honestly don't know how long we can go without running into each other again."

Derek just nodded for him to go on. He wasn't sure where this was going.

"I know what happened the last time we talked. I just want you to know that I don't blame you for leaving. Neither does my dad. And I'm glad you're back."

Derek looked up sharply as Stiles finished. What? WHAT? Stiles wasn't mad at him? But…

"I don't want this to be weird. Our families practically live together. I don't think it's fair to expect them to choose between us."

Derek felt his heart stutter when he heard that. Us. He knew Stiles meant it as generic as two people but he felt so ecstatic that Stiles had that used to describe them. What was happening to him?

"What I mean is that I knew you for a long time and there's no reason to avoid each other. I don't have a grudge against you. That's all."

Derek had absolutely no idea how to react to that. So he just sat there silently, and so did Stiles. After a while, he finally thought of something he had wanted to say for years.

"I missed you."

Stiles gasped and turned to look at him. Derek felt his nerves all clambered up as he waited for Stiles to say something.

"Me too."

And just like that, all the tension melted away. They sat there for hours talking about anything and everything. It wasn't really talking. One of them would say something and then there'd be silent nodding and then after a while the other one would speak. The silences were anything but awkward. They may not have talked in years but they shared a familiarity and that made it easier for them to talk. It was like Derek had never left, by the time they were done.

John came out with a huge grin on his face. He patted Derek on the back and led Stiles to the cruiser. Stiles stopped before getting in and waved at Derek. He waved back with a smile playing at his lips. He went in with a scowl on his face though and glared at his stupid brother and Laura. They looked terrified for a while but then his mother came over and hugged him. And they all just looked so damn happy. Derek wasn't sure he wanted to kill them anymore.

He went to bed relieved that night. He had a more peaceful sleep than he had in years. Finally, things were looking good.

Derek woke up to his mom calling his name from downstairs. It took him a moment to fully wake and realize where he was. It was seven in the morning and his mom was still yelling, rubbing his sleepy eyes he went down to see what she wanted. He was not a morning person so he had no idea what was happening while he was pouring himself coffee and as he turned around she was looking at him expectantly. He had agreed to drive Scott to school today or at least that's what his mom claimed. And that's how he ended up in front of Beacon Hills after five years.

As he parked the car and waited for Scott to get out, his eyes fell on Stiles who was standing in the entrance talking to someone. He looked over at Scott- he was still struggling with his seat belt. What Derek hadn't noticed the first time was that Stiles looked like he was having a heated discussion with the guy and he looked angry. They were standing very close and then all of a sudden Stiles jabbed a finger in the guy's chest and stepped even closer, they were almost touching now. And the guy looked pissed too. Derek heard Scott swear next to him.

"Jackson, that asshole."

Before he knew it, Scott slammed the door and was walking up the stairs. The guy—Jackson saw him coming and he said something in Stiles' ear before walking inside. Scott ran up the stairs to meet Stiles and make sure he was okay. Derek had wanted to step out of the car and see if Stiles needed help from the second he saw him with the guy but it looked like Scott had it under control. Then Stiles said something to Scott and they both started laughing as they walked towards the door.

A second later, Stiles turned around and his eyes met Derek's. For a moment Derek forgot where he was but a horn from somewhere behind him brought him back. Stiles waved at him before he disappeared into the doors and someone honked again. Alright, moving now.

Derek thought he was going to have to have a chat with Stiles later to ask if the kid was any trouble. Or just ask Scott about it.

He had said he would come to the game at the dinner, but Derek had a feeling it was better if he didn't go. But it would be weird if he was the only one who didn't turn up. And anyway with Laura prodding him it was better to just go and get it over with. Only he wasn't sure if it would be that easy. Seeing Stiles again after he had so carefully removed him from his life was intense to say the least. He was the same person Derek had left behind and yet he was not. All grown up and grown out. Looking at him made Derek realize that Stiles had a life. He had had a life for the past five years that Derek wasn't a part of and that thought made something clench deep in his gut. The encounter was uneasy but for totally different reasons than he had thought.

The night of the game, he came home to Scott, Allison and Laura in his living room waiting for him. Looks like Derek was going to the game whether he wanted to or not. Laura was looking at him funny and no, he wasn't going to have a silent conversation with her, thank you very much. Derek told them to go on ahead and that he just needed to stop by the gas station for a refuel and that he was right behind them. Laura huffed in annoyance but didn't say anything and drove out with Allison and Scott. Derek drove to the station and bought a pack of smokes. He only smoked when he was stressed, apparently that's what he was about attending a high-school lacrosse game. Without giving it much thought he drove to the school where his own personal support-group was waiting for him. Laura looked irritated and it was directed at him, Scott looked like he always did-puppy with a bone and blissfully ignorant and Allison was just plainly uninterested.

He made his way over and they sat down painfully close to the benches. Scott wasn't playing because he was hurt and that meant Stiles would be alone in warming the bench today but he was nowhere in sight. Derek got an uneasy feeling in his throat at that. He excused himself to go to the bathroom but not without another dirty look from Laura-he should really talk to her about those. As he was walking toward the nearest building, his eyes fell on Stiles. He was walking to the field with someone but it was difficult to tell, the other person had their helmet on. Whittemore -that's what it said on their jersey. Derek decided he could go to the washroom later and returned to Scott screaming his lungs out and Allison giggling next to him.

The game started and it was quite interesting, Derek hadn't caught much Lacrosse after his last game at the same field years ago. The opposite team was ripping through them, there was this huge player they had who had already tackled three players from BHH and Coach was shouting profanities at him. Derek kept looking back at the bench though, he felt the need to check and reassure himself that Stiles was there and that he was okay.

But then he wasn't because Coach yelled,

"Bilinski, get your ass in there. And try not to get mauled."

Scott started screaming again, "Stiles! STILES! #24 that's my best-friend" and just like every other time in his life, he wasn't fazed by the amused/annoyed looks people were giving him. His brother had always been more comfortable in his skin. And then there was Stiles, the poor bastard was torn between putting his arms up and rejoicing or taking a dump right there on the field because it looked like Bigfoot had zeroed in on him. Derek felt an impulsive urge to go down there and snatch Stiles from the field before he got his lungs crushed but that wasn't acceptable game etiquette so he resisted- with great difficulty. As Stiles made his way in, someone bumped into him and it looked quite intentional. Whittemore.

"Damn Jackson. Why can't he just mind his own business?" Scott was saying next to him.

So, this was Jackson. The guy Stiles was arguing with that morning. Derek berated himself for totally forgetting about asking Scott if he was bullying him and Stiles. That could wait till after the game. The whistle blew and everyone started running, some toward but most away from Bigfoot. Derek's eyes were trained on Stiles. He was actually not that bad, his usual flailing considered. And after about 50 seconds of being on the field, Stiles got the ball and he ran with it. Oh, he ran plenty. There was an opening, Whittemore was closer to the goal than he was and Coach was yelling at Stiles to pass it to #17 but Stiles-because he was Stiles-ran with it and scored himself.

The crowd went feral with Scott next to him legit-squealing like a teenage-girl - Allison who did her fair share of cheering had nothing on him and Laura was on her feet being her usual eloquent self.

"Take that, you Yeti. Suck on that. Woohoo. GO STILES" with more than a few concerned glances from parents.

Derek turned his attention back to the field to see Stiles doing some sort of flailing-screaming-victory dance- only Stiles. And then the final whistle blew and everyone stood to their feet waiting for the one last person to be carried away on a stretcher before they could crowd the field. Derek watched as Whittemore- Jackson, actually a very angry looking Jackson made his way over to Stiles. Stiles saw him coming and the idiot that he was, took off his helmet and actually turned toward Jackson. They met chest to chest in a challenging stance and both their face alight with something fierce. Derek felt a flicker of pride-if Stiles was being bullied, at least he wasn't taking it laying down. No, he was challenging. But Derek was still going to have a talk about it with Stiles later. As he looked on, the confrontation got a little more heated with both boys pushing at each other with their chests while they still held on to their helmets and crosses. Then there was a flood of people on the field and Derek lost sight of Stiles. He wasn't on the field anymore, Derek looked everywhere and neither was Jackson. Panic broke out in him and he realised that Stiles might be hurt somewhere. He might be unconscious.

He looked around to see that everyone was busy hugging each other so without a word, he slipped out from his seat and started walking toward the nearest building but as he was making his was way past the parking, he heard loud voices. Stiles.

"I need you to stop doing that, Stilinski."

"Or what, Jackson? You gonna punch me?"

"Leave it, Stilinski. I warned you. Just don't."

"No."

"Stop it."

"Make me."

And before he could prepare himself for a fight with a teenager, he realised they weren't actually fighting violently. Sure, they were standing chest-to-chest. There was ragged breathing. There were threats-there were always threats with Stiles. But there was no physical altercation other than the mouth-to-mouth kind. Yes, that kind.

Stiles was against a pillar and Jackson was pinning him to it. Both with their helmets forgotten at their feet and hair sticking up with sweat. Jackson's body language was attacking but Stiles wasn't far behind and from the conversation it was clear that he had instigated this. Whatever this was. The enclosed area was resounding with the typical noises of a make-out session- lips crushing, panting and broken moans that surprisingly Jackson was letting out.

But here was Stiles making out with the guy Derek had thought was bullying him. What? But, they were arguing this morning. Jackson pushed Stiles. But, Jackson looked angry. But, Scott hated Jackson.

Oh.

Of course. Of course Scott hated Jackson if he and Stiles were a thing. Before Derek could make his hasty, unnoticed retreat Jackson saw him. He pulled away from Stiles and looked like he had seen a ghost. A typical-jock-sexuality-crisis then. He picked up his helmet and brushed past Derek but not before throwing one last angry look toward Stiles. Who straightened out his shirt and ducked his head. He was flushed but not like a normal person would be. No, Stiles did everything differently. Derek could actually see the red rising from his sweaty neck up to his cheeks as his moles got highlighted and his ears turned a fire-engine red. Derek had never wanted anything more than he wanted to be the reason Stiles looked like that, in that moment.

All the time that he was standing there watching Stiles make out with Jackson, the only thing going through his head was Get away from him. He's mine.

All he wanted to do was pry Jackson's hands off Stiles and snatch him away. Put his hands on that pale skin and wrench out broken moans from Stiles like he had made Jackson moan. Push him against that pillar and take him right there.

No. That's not what he thought. He didn't. He had only followed the voices because he was worried for Stiles. If he was frozen on the spot, it was because of surprise and nothing else. Just worried. You go, Derek Hale. The biggest denier to ever deny. Martyr extraordinaire.

Stiles finally picked up his helmet and started walking toward Derek. "So, that's Jackson. Um, I didn't know you'd be here. Did you see me score?"

"Yes, yeah. Congratulations you scored your first goal. It was really good."

"Yeah."

"I was just looking for you. I thought you might need help. I mean I thought Jackson was bullying you. Did he hurt you?"

"No, not really. He's more of a talker but yeah no. So you followed me because you thought Jackson was going to beat me?"

"I—yeah. But you're okay."

"If you wanna call it that", Stiles had somehow ended up standing so close that their feet touched. Derek didn't know what to do, Stiles was still blushing and this close his moles looked all the more beautiful. If anything was a test to his patience-this was. But he denied himself what he wanted, what he needed like every other time. He stepped back and Stiles looked disappointed for a second before he laughed drily and said, "Go home, Derek."

Stiles walked away without another word while Derek stood there telling his heart to calm the fuck down. He wasn't sure what had happened between Stiles and him and when their interactions had gone from friendly banter to this. He could actually feel a current under his skin where he had felt Stiles' breath not a minute ago. He was in deep shit.

He drove in silence that night while Laura kept looking at him worriedly. She didn't ask him anything though and he was glad because he had no clue what to tell her. It was supposed to be just a random encounter but it didn't feel like that. Stiles had looked like he wanted to say something but had bitten it back and Derek, to be honest didn't have the balls to ask him. Not when his mind couldn't stop picturing Stiles flushed and pushed against a wall while Derek had his way with him.

He went to bed restless that night, denying himself release because he was sure his mind would go back to Stiles if he closed his eyes. And no, he wasn't going there. Avoiding was going to be his tactic from now, like Stiles would say – a big fan of ignoring things till they go away.

But you could ignore someone only so long if you lived in a town where everyone knew everyone. More so if you were Derek Hale because the universe- for some godforsaken reason- had always been very keen on taking a huge dump on his life. This was not an exception.

He ran into Stiles when he was doing his groceries about a week after the parking-lot incident. Derek had done a good job at avoiding Stiles but this was a whole different story since Stiles was there with some of his friends it looked like. There was a tall, dimpled boy and a redhead walking on either side of him as Stiles stopped in his tracks when he saw Derek picking up butter from the shelf. The redhead looked at Stiles in surprise and then turned to look at Derek while the boy had a disinterested look on his face until he looked up at Derek and never looked away. Stiles however wasn't paying any attention to any of it, his eyes were trained on Derek's face.

"Derek."

"Stiles."

Radio silence. Till the boy next to Stiles spoke.

"How do you keep that body, dude? I can never eat butter."

Derek wasn't sure how to reply to that so he just scowled harder than he already was.

"I'm Danny. Are you cousin Miguel?" He sniggered as Stiles turned his head sharply to glare at him.

"What?" Derek was totally lost.

"Nothing. He's just trying to be funny." Stiles said while still glaring at the poor boy.

"Tell your boyfriend to stop scowling." The redhead finally broke her intense gaze from him to look at Stiles.

"He's not my boyfriend." Ouch.

"Yeah well he's still glaring."

"Lydia."

"What?"

"Just- never mind." Stiles sounded annoyed. Not a good time to talk then but before he could make up an excuse Jackson walked up from behind them. He saw Derek and froze a few steps away. Stiles turned to see what had caught Derek's attention and apparently he was dreading this.

"What's he doing here?" Jackson wasn't very polite. Maybe that's why Scott hated his guts but apparently Stiles liked him enough to go grocery-shopping with him. It was okay. Derek was fine.

"I don't know. Buying groceries, I guess like everyone else." Stiles rolled his eyes and Derek let out a chuckle. It had been a long time since he had seen Stiles roll his eyes at someone that wasn't him.

Stiles turned to glare at him and that made him quiet down.

"What's he doing here?" He nodded his head toward Jackson who was looking at him like he wanted to kill Derek. Well, he could try.

"Jesus Christ. You are such kids. Fucking middle-schoolers." Stiles looked furious and he was looking at Derek. But Derek just looked at him and hoped that his face implied 'Well?'

"We're having a party tonight. And Jackson forgot to buy anything."

"I was busy. I have a life, you know." At least four people snorted at that and Derek was not one of them. A clerk was just walking by- a teenager with emo black hair and face piercings who had snorted. Jackson looked like he was going to wring the poor boy's neck as he walked away smiling to himself.

"Okay, we're done here. See you around, Derek."

And with that Stiles walked away followed by his entourage. It wasn't until he was walking back to his car that he realized that he hadn't seen Stiles after the match. And the last time Stiles had walked away from him looking pissed and disappointed. And he had wanted to say something too but he hadn't. And then Derek had avoided him for a week. Okay, so that may have looked worse than Derek thought.

It got worse when they met at the next dinner and Laura all of a sudden seemed very interested in Stiles' love life.

"So Stiles still nursing that big ole' crush on the redhead?"

"Nah, Lydia and I are friends."

"He has a boyfriend now." Scott said with such venom that a stranger would mistake him for a homophobe but they all knew he just really hated Jackson. He had made that clear on several occasions.

"Scott, can you please pass me the potatoes." Mom was trying to break the staring contest between Scott and Stiles.

"Yes, mom." Scott looked away and Stiles smirked.

"I'm just worried about you Stiles. He's always so violent and I don't like him." Before Stiles could answer him, John spoke up in a concerned voice.

"Is this boy hurting you Stiles?"

"What? No. I mean not anymore than usual—"

"Stiles"

"I'm kidding. Kidding, Dad. It's a joke. Hahaha."

"This is not funny."

"Yeah, I got that."

"Well, is he?"

"No. Ohmygod. Thanks, Scott."

"I'm just looking out for you." Scott had pulled out his puppy face. Stiles gave in. In less than three seconds.

Derek was listening to all this in silence and he didn't know how to respond. He was worried about Jackson hitting Stiles already and now Scott had made a comment about it. He really needed to ask Stiles about it. This time very seriously and have a talk with Jackson about it as well.

When they were done digging dirt about each other, everyone went over to the living room to collapse on the couches. Laura was giving him knowing looks but he wasn't sure what it was that she was supposed to be knowing. He just shrugged at her.

"Hey Stiles, so you and this Jackson kid. You going to the prom together?"

Sometimes Derek felt like pushing Laura off a cliff. But he held back and regretted not doing it the next time she embarrassed him. And there was always a next time.

"Uh well, he's not my boyfriend or anything. We just make out and stuff. It's no big deal. And prom is like months away."

"Yeah you make out. I always have to close my eyes when I go to the locker room."

"Come on, Scott. That was one time."

"And I got scarred for life."

"Oh please, I lived through Allison and you macking at each other all day. You can deal with this. And be grateful you didn't walk in on us in Chemistry today. Harris almost caught us when he came in ten minutes early, the creep that he is."

"I didn't need to know that, Stiles."

"Yeah, well now you do."

Derek couldn't chose between walking out and sitting there glaring at Laura hoping he could kill her with his mind power. He chose the former. As he was sitting on the porch steps, Stiles came out followed by John. He stood beside Derek and smiled at warmly at him. "Good night, Derek."

John patted his shoulder as he went after his son. Derek thought maybe he and Stiles were okay after all.

Scott had always looked up to Derek as an older brother and more so as a father-figure in his life. Sure he was a jerk like most older brothers were, he had teased Scott incessantly whenever he wet his bed as a kid. Hell, Derek never let go of a single chance of teasing Scott but he had stopped after Stiles had become a part of their lives, for some reason. He still teased Scott but after the first couple awkward weeks where Derek avoided Stiles, he had definitely tormented Scott less than he used to. Maybe it was just that Derek grew up. Regardless, Scott loved his brother unconditionally and they may not be a touchy-feely kind of family but he thought of and worried about his brother constantly.

Derek had always been very private about his life and god forbid someone brought up feelings, he would flee the room within seconds.

But Scott was not as stupid as everyone assumed, he remembered very clearly when he was about 11 and Derek had had a mysterious girlfriend. He remembered when he and Stiles were getting ice-cream after school one day and had seen Derek with an older woman. He remembers how Derek had become even more closed off after that. He still didn't know what had happened with her, he never brought her home to meet them. And soon after, he decided to go away for school. Before that, Derek had always said he was going to Beacon Hills Community College. But then one day, he had sat everyone down and announced that he had gotten accepted at Berkley and that he and Laura were leaving six months in advance to get used to life there. Their mom had seemed hesitant at first but then she had happily told him to go do what he wanted. That was when everything changed.

Stiles' mom was sick and even if Scott and Stiles weren't told what it was at the time, they started spending even more time together because he had a feeling Stiles needed him. In the middle of the all the hospital trips and the sleepless nights spent crying and consoling, Derek went away. Scott didn't know the whole thing but he knew that Stiles had talked to Derek and asked him to stay. Stiles had never told him the details and he had never asked. But he did know that that was the time things had changed between Stiles and Derek.

Once he had gone away, Derek hardly ever came back. He came home once months after he had left but insisted that he go back after one weekend. After that, he hadn't even come home for the holidays. He always said he was busy with classes and work and that Laura was there taking care of him, they needn't worry. Scott had been jealous of Laura then, he had thought she was stealing his brother away but after Derek had called them there for a week during spring break and Scott saw them both in their apartment, he had realized that he was thankful that his idiot of a brother had someone who cared for him. He had loved Laura ever since.

But all those years that Derek had spent away from home, Scott had missed his older brother. He had missed having Derek around and driving him up the wall with Stiles' help. He missed having Derek to rely on him for everything. And now that he was back, Scott was very eager about having Derek turn back into the less broody-sometimes-happy brother he had.

That's where Allison and their plan came in. Scott knew that Derek was a writer, he had quite a few published books, some under pen-names Derek wouldn't tell him. He knew that his brother was somewhat-famous but he had still been surprised when he saw his English teacher read one of Derek's novels before class started. Ms. Blake was pretty and she was a very nice teacher. Scott thought Derek needed someone like her in his life. That's why he decided he was going to make Derek ask out Ms. Blake.

Case in point, Scott sauntered over to Ms. Blake's desk after the class let out.

"Mr. Mccall, how may I help you?"

"I was wondering about the assi-oh do you like that author Ms. Blake? He's my older brother." He thought he was subtle but he could see Stiles rolling his eyes when he will tell him later.

"Derek Hale is your older brother?" Ms. Blake looked a little flushed. Scott felt guilty for doing this to her but it was all for his brother. She would understand, he told himself and thank him later.

"Oh yes. He just came back to town about a month ago he was away for school before that. Anyway, I was just wondering about the assignment. I'm not sure I will be able to do it myself and seeing as how it's worth 30% of our grade I thought I might be able to ask my brother for help. Is that okay? I mean is it okay if he comes in tomorrow before class to talk to you about it and help me with it later?" He tried to look at her with huge eyes that Stiles refers to as the 'Puppy face of doom'.

Ms. Blake gaped at him and then cleared her throat and continued, "I think that would be fine, yes. I am glad to see you are taking the assignment seriously, Scott." She smiled and Scott thought that was the first time she had called him that. Cool.

He thanked her, gave her a huge smile and made his way out of class but by the time he got to the locker, the bell rang. Chemistry was next and Mr. Harris wouldn't let him and Stiles sit on the same side of the class. The news would have to wait, Scott thought-until he totally forgot about it. He went home and started on his homework, totally forgetting about his plan. When his mom came home and asked him about Derek, he got up with a start—oh, the plan. He'd totally forgotten to ask Derek.

Melissa McCall wasn't sure about interfering in Derek's life but her younger son had a point. Derek had been too busy with school and work and he needed a break. She had met Ms. Blake and thought that the teacher was a very nice person. If she was honest, Melissa had always thought that Derek would end up with someone else but that didn't look very probable anymore so she gave in and decided to help her son.

She called Derek to ask him why he wasn't at dinner today and between all the excuses, she couldn't contain her excitement (that's where Scott got his inability to hold in a secret). She told Derek about how Scott was doing poorly in English and how the teacher was nice enough to help him but that she had a morning shift tomorrow so maybe Derek could go in and talk to Ms. Blake. Derek huffed in annoyance, well that was hardly unexpected. After some arguing and pleading however, he gave in and told her that yes, he will go to the school tomorrow morning. He muttered something that sounded like 'Should've stayed away' and disconnected. Melissa went to bed a little happy and a bit anxious that night.

Derek woke up to his alarm and made his way to the shower. He didn't have work till noon but he had to go meet Scott's teacher because his idiot of a brother couldn't write a simple book-report. His mind shifted to Stiles and he caught himself thinking about him sitting and writing essays while chewing on a pen. It was a short shower after that. Dressing up in his usual dark Henley and jeans, he made his way to the kitchen. Laura was already up and reading the paper, she looked up from her cereal briefly,

"Going to the school, Der? Make sure you don't bang him in the janitor's closet." She said it so casually and went back to her reading.

Derek stood there caught between ignoring what she said and denying it but that would mean acknowledging it and he was not going to make that mistake. He just murmured a weak, "Good morning to you too."

How did she find out, anyway? He didn't remember telling her. He had to stop Laura from talking to his family-that could end really badly for him. He finished his breakfast and drove to school thinking about how Scott could have just asked Stiles for help. Stiles had always been good with writing and especially reading. Derek could still remember Stiles reading novels when Scott was still struggling with comics. Granted, there had been occasional assignments when the Sheriff had been called to school but that was just Stiles' way of protesting. Regardless, Stiles could've helped Scott, why was he being dragged into all this? He got his answer when he got to the school.

Scott was standing outside the school but when Derek walked up to him, Scott waved and said that he was waiting for Stiles and that he should go on ahead. Derek raised a questioning eyebrow and that seemed to do the trick. Scott made a face but started walking ahead of him. He led him into a room where a woman was sitting behind a desk and there were no students in there yet. Scott went to the teacher-Ms. Blake- and introduced him but before Derek could even open his mouth, Scott scrammed away to a seat as more pimply teenagers started filing into the room.

Ms. Blake - call me Jennifer- was a very polite person and called Scott 'A little weak but tries his best' while Derek tried to scowl at his brother. She went on to talk about the stupid assignment-a summary and analysis of the Crucible and Derek was listening, it's just that she seemed to be smiling expectantly up at him. And she was blinking and stuttering too. Oh.

Oh.

He wasn't sure what was happening here, was this a coincidence or had his family pimped him out? She kept talking though about how she liked 'Blood is thicker than Water' and how she had only recently learnt that the phrase was actually highly misunderstood as the quite opposite of what it meant. So, she read his books. Okay. She was now talking about how she thought Genim was a rather unusual protagonist and—Stiles walked into the room with a dark-haired girl who seemed to be talking very animatedly to him. Derek couldn't help but look while Ms. Blake—Jennifer kept talking. But Stiles just looked in his direction and without the slightest bit of acknowledgment, not even a nod look away. Jackson walked in after him and Stiles turned around to greet him and after a considerable amount of glaring and what seemed like a silent conversation between them, Stiles walked over to where Scott was sitting and did the stupid handshake they had shared since the day Scott had brought Stiles home. All the while, Derek looked on and couldn't help but be surprised at Stiles' behaviour. And a bit hurt to be honest, not that he wouldn't deny it to even himself.

Jennifer had apparently asked him something because she was looking at him expectantly and he had no fucking clue what it was. The room could be on fire right now but he wouldn't know what to do, thanks for that Stiles. He didn't want to ask her again so he just nodded his head yes and her face split into a huge grin.

"So, how does Friday work for you? At the café after school?"

Oh shit, he had just agreed to a date- with Scott's teacher. With Stiles' teacher. Saying no wasn't really an option, Scott might fail the assignment because Derek wouldn't date his teacher. The stupid moron had got himself trapped even more trying to do better at the assignment.

"Uh, yeah sure. Friday works for me." He tried a small smile that might have come out as a martyr's last smile but if Jennifer noticed, she didn't comment. He decided that he should leave before he accidently got himself married while looking at Stiles. Politely, he smiled at her again and turned to walk out of the room but the masochist that he was-looked at Stiles again. Stiles was looking at him but the second his eyes met Derek's, he got a weird look on his face and turned his eyes to Jackson who was apparently talking to him. Derek didn't know what had happened or what he had done for Stiles to behave like this but he decided that he didn't like this. Scott was waving at him and he waved back as he walked out of the room. The bell rang as he was exiting the school. His head felt like it was about to explode and it wasn't even eight in the morning yet.

Laura looked up as he walked into the shop and gave him a smile. Derek calmed down a bit - but woah, hey who was he kidding – and there was the predatory smirk. He regretted working here, every single day. Because Laura would torture him about everything and it wasn't like he could escape anywhere. Where would he go? Home? Yeah, she'd be there sitting in the living room with her eyes trained on the door as he tried to slip in. There was no escaping Laura.

But Derek had accepted his fate years ago, it was always easier to tell Laura what she wanted to know instead of letting her rake it out of you. He sighed and told her how he had inadvertently gotten a date for tomorrow.

Her reaction? She had looked at him with pitiful eyes, gotten up and clapped him on the shoulder. Now he could hear her in the back-room laughing. She came out red-faced and looking like she was physically hurting from not bursting out laughing in front of him. Well, at least she tried.

By lunch-time, her sniggering had stopped and she had decided to talk to him about it. That's what she called it-'talking about it'-when they both knew it was actually 'I'm gonna talk and you're gonna listen and then storm out like I've mortally offended you.' So, that's what he did. But he couldn't help but think about Stiles and how he had reacted. Derek knew that he should talk to Stiles, try to find out why he had behaved the way he had but he didn't.

Because that's who Derek was. He had been burnt in life and that makes you wary. When you get hurt once, you learn to avoid things that could potentially so much as nick you. And this could ruin him. If he took one step toward Stiles, there was no going back. And putting yourself out there makes you vulnerable. It makes you weak, it makes you an easy target. Derek knew that Stiles would never hurt him, Stiles would go out of his way to protect him even but he didn't have enough faith in himself to take a step forward. And what if Stiles didn't feel the same way? He was just a kid, he had his whole life ahead of him. He will meet so many people in his life, people his age. People better than Derek, who would deserve Stiles more than he ever could. So no, he didn't talk to Stiles.

He didn't see Stiles till the d-day when he met Scott's teacher(I really need to stop calling her that)—Jennifer at the cafe. Derek tried to be polite and talk about his book when she brought it up and about how writing was hard. She tended to talk about his protagonist 'Genim' a lot. He was making that book into a series but she didn't know that yet. Anyway, she thought he was a bit of an oddball and that he'd be better as a goofy side-kick and that was one thing he had heard from countless people ever since he had written the book. But he himself had always felt that the witty, hyperactive kid was someone the readers could identify with rather than the usual 'too heroic for you, rich and douchebag vampire' sorts the writers went for usually. He had defended his belief many a time but if there was one thing he had learned it was that you can never make everyone happy. There will always be people who will complain about your characters. He had long ago made his peace with it.

But sitting here now, listening to Jennifer comparing his lead character to the classic Romeo and some others he felt like he wanted to defend his choice.

"Well, I prefer Darcy or Sherlock Holmes as protagonists. Elizabeth Bennet is probably my favourite. I mean that's who real people are like, no one is always polite, ideal and self-sacrificing like most writers would have you believe. I'm not saying I'm better but I think Genim is more believable as a person than say Robin Hood. Then again it's probably just me."

She looked a bit uneasy at that but Derek thought that if she had decided to voice her concerns about his characters then he had a right to defend them. He may have been a bit harsh though and it was probably not a good idea to put forward his opinions so aggressively given that they weren't really shared by a lot of people. She recovered fast though and started talking about how she had enjoyed the romantic overture in the beginning when Scott came in to the cafe followed by Stiles who seemed to be confused about why Scott had dragged him here.

Derek could pin-point the exact moment Stiles' confusion changed to surprise as he met Derek's eyes and he faltered for a second. But he regained his pace just as quickly and went straight to the counter while Scott subtly-as subtle as he could be-walked by them at a leisurely pace. Derek found himself looking at Stiles instead of listening to Jennifer- that was happening a lot lately. Stiles had ordered by the time Scott walked up to him and said something in his ear.

Stiles looked over for a second and walked out without getting his coffee. Derek had to physically restrain himself from going after him but walking out on Jennifer would be the worst thing he could do to her. It was hard sitting there waiting for his idiot brother to notice that Stiles had left in a hurry and that he should probably follow his best friend rather than spy on his older brother. Turns out, he really didn't need to because Stiles walked back in and got his coffee. Then they both walked over to where Derek was sitting and while Scott was showing all his teeth, Stiles smiled warmly at Derek and Jennifer and then lowered his head. After a moment's awkward silence Stiles let out a weak, 'Have fun' at him and nodded once before leaving. Scott stayed back for a moment but then followed his friend with a huge grin on his face. Derek looked through the glass and saw Stiles standing outside but the moment he saw Derek looking, he turned away.

That felt like someone had punched him hard in the gut. He lost his train of thought for a moment and never really found it until half an hour later an exasperated Jennifer stood up and smiled at him. He walked her to her to her car like the good boy he was and politely agreed when she offered that they should do this again. But fortunately, he wasn't distracted enough to agree to a specific date this time. As he walked back to his car, he noticed Scott standing there leaning on the Camaro.

"How'd it go?"

"I can't believe you and mom pimped me out to your teacher."

"Oh come on, Ms. Blake is super nice."

"Never said she wasn't."

"We were just worried about you."

"Doesn't mean you should start setting me up with every woman within a five-mile radius."

"But didn't you like her?"

"She's not my type."

"Who is your type?"

"Leave it, Scott."

"No really. That woman you dated in high-school? Was she your type?"

Derek hadn't thought about her in a while. He thought he was over it, but he was wrong. Thinking about her still twisted something deep inside of him. Especially Scott mentioning her, he had had no idea that Scott would remember her- he had only seen her once.

Derek's life was every possible shade of fucked-up. So of course Scott remembered.

But as he looked at his brother now, Scott looked like he had just killed a puppy accidentally. Those big eyes were watery and Derek knew that he was on the verge of bawling out, right here in the parking. He could never be mad at that.

"I am so sorry, Der. I didn't mean to say that. It's just that you're always working and you've never had a girlfriend. Mom and I were worried. And then I saw Ms. Blake reading your book and I thought you two would be good together. It was my idea, please don't be mad at mom."

"Come here, you dumbass. Look at you being all chivalrous. I'm not mad at you, Scott. It's just that I am not looking for a relationship night now. And plus, she really wasn't my type."

"So we're okay then?"

"Yeah we're okay as long as you two don't go around looking for the prefect bride for me. I'll find someone when I'm ready."

Lies. Lies. Find someone? Yeah, right. Like he could even look at someone other than Stiles.

"I mean of course I will, have you seen me?"

"Cocky much?"

"That's rich coming from you."

"Speak for yourself. I've found my soul-mate. Allison and I are going to get married."

"Ah yes, young love."

"Wow dude, you sound like creepy Uncle Peter."

"Shut up, asswipe."

"Dickhead."

"Do you want to walk home?"

"Like you would leave me here."

"Watch me."

"Wait Derek, wait I'm sorry."

"That's more like it."

"Just drive."

"Where's Stiles?"

"Oh, he left. Said he had something to do for his dad. But he's coming around later. We're gonna have a Star Wars marathon."

"Is he sleeping over?"

"Doesn't he always?"

Derek thought about how Stiles had more or less avoided him every time they had met. He had always thought that things would be weird between them since he had left and they hadn't spoken to each other in five years. But Stiles had been so adamant that he wasn't angry with Derek about what had happened. And that he had long forgotten everything and forgiven him. So then why was he avoiding Derek now? He was going to find out. He drove Scott home and texted Laura that he was staying at his place tonight. It was time to straighten things out with Stiles. Well, some things.

Derek decided that he should get some work done on his new story if he didn't want his editor to tear him a new one. What? Erica could be pretty intimidating when she wanted to be. Thank fuck she hadn't decided to break and enter into his loft yet. If there was one thing that kept him on track with his work, it was Erica and her threats. Between Laura and her, Derek had heard every possible injury to every single organ he had being mentioned in a threat.

He went to his room where he had spent countless moments of his teenage life dreaming about touching people's hearts with the written word. He would say he had succeeded, the money didn't matter as much as the heartfelt notes from readers about how they felt like they were in his books. The fame was not bad either but being the hermit that he was- Derek preferred to not attend any promotions that he could get out of without being threatened to be castrated.

Any extra time he had on his hands was spent doing something he held very close to his heart. It was the book he had been trying to finish for years. Trying because it wasn't his, it was someone else's and it's always harder to continue where someone left off and be so much in sync with them that no one notices. That someone was Aria Stilinski.

Aria was the first person Derek had ever told about his passion. After Stiles had come crashing into his world and refused to leave, the Sheriff and Aria had become extended family. The McCall-Stilinski dinners happened at least once a week. John was always wary of leaving Scott and Stiles alone for even five minutes probably because he had first-hand experience of what his tornado of a son could do while Aria was mostly fascinated by her offspring and the million and one ways Stiles could hurt himself just by moving. Their parents tried to engage the younger boys in conversation and to keep them distracted from pranks that may end in bodily harm-not that it ever helped.

But with Derek, it was different. John had always respected Derek more than anything else. They had had a conversation way back when and John had looked at him with so much pride and patted him on the shoulder saying, "I am proud of you for taking care of your mother and Scott. You are so mature for your age, it's like you had to grow up too fast. I get it, Derek. You'll make someone very happy some day, Son."

After that John had looked at him with the same look on his face every day and he was the closest thing to a father Derek had ever had. And they were so similar in the way they handled their feelings-not talking about them. In all the years that Derek had known him, John had hardly forced conversation on him. There was always an unspoken pact between them about how John was proud of Derek and how Derek looked up to him as a father-figure but neither acknowledged it in words.

Aria, on the other hand was his go-to person after the initial awkwardness wore off. She had refrained from conversation at first.

"I didn't want to impose, you're a teenage boy after all. You can't possibly want to talk to grown-ups. I hated everyone when I was your age" She had told him one day while they were waiting for Scott and Stiles after school.

But after he had told her that it was okay, she quickly became the person he trusted with his closest-guarded secrets. She would sit next to him on the dinner table and they would talk about classic novels while everyone else groaned and rolled their eyes. Then, when he had told her how he wanted to be a writer, she had took on the role of his mentor. She taught high-school English before she married John and had the perfect skill-set to guide him. They had the same taste in books and she loved to tease him about alternative endings for classic works. It became a thing with them, she would ask him to write his own endings to famous works and then they would sit down and discuss it while their families went on with their lives around them.

Derek had asked her if she ever wrote and that's when she had told him that she did, indeed. But under a pseudonym and that he will one day find out but she never told him. Around the time she was in the hospital, she had asked him to do something for her.

"This is the one I've never been able to finish. I started writing this when I was your age but all these years I haven't been able to get it done. Will you do it for me?" She had said as she handed him what looked like an old journal.

"I can't do it. This is yours, I'm not good enough..." He had managed through tears.

But she had laughed at that, "Nonsense. Of course you can. If there's anyone who can, it's you. I believe in you, Derek."

And that was the last thing she had said to him because he had snatched the journal away from her and ran out of the hospital. If only he knew that he'd never see her again he would've stayed. And never left.

But that's not how life worked especially not Derek's. He constantly thought back to how Aria had encouraged him to go with his instinct and pick unusual characters to lead rather than the cliché too-good-for-the-world. She used to tell him 'flaws make us human, Derek. ' And that's why he was fiercely protective of Genim because he was a teenager who actually behaved like a teenager and got hurt and lost his temper and did questionable things because those were his flaws and they made him believable. Aria may not be here anymore but she was the constant motivation that kept him going even when he felt like giving up.

He always returned to her unfinished manuscript- still in that old, yellowed journal. He wrote a few words and scratched them and started over again. Never really satisfied with where he was going but then he could hear Aria telling him that he could do it.

He had come a long way since the time he didn't dare to even open and look at the journal because the guilt was too much. He had actually figured out where he wanted to go with this and knew Aria would approve. Sitting down with a sigh, he started writing one of the hardest parts he was having trouble with. Somehow, seeing Stiles again had helped him a lot and after their recent encounters he felt more confident. Two hours later, he was asleep on the desk with the pencil still clutched in his hand.

Derek woke up with a start as he heard a noise from downstairs. It was dark outside and his watch said it was four in the morning. He'd fallen asleep on the desk again, great. He thought he should go check downstairs or he could just flop on the bed and go to a blissful night's sleep. There was another noise as he sleepily made his way down the stairs. The kitchen light was on and Stiles was reaching up looking for something in the plates-cabinet. His shirt was riding up exposing sharp hipbones and a trail of hair that disappeared into his sweatpants that hung low on his hips. Derek didn't know there was a treasure-trail involved. When had Stiles grown up so much?

He couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight and sucked in a deep breath as Stiles reached farther and the shirt moved higher. That caught Stiles' attention and he stopped moving and turned towards him. Derek quickly looked up and caught a ghost of a smirk on Stiles' face.

"Did I wake you? Sorry about that." He ducked his head and started looking in the drawer.

"That's okay. I needed water anyway." Derek lied as he made his way inside the kitchen.

Stiles was standing with his back to Derek, stirring something on the counter. Derek thought back to the last time he had seen Stiles and remembered how he had planned to talk to Stiles but he wasn't sure he could form coherent though after what he had just seen. If Stiles so much as blinked at him funny, he might not be able to hold himself back. He had been trying so hard to not want what he wanted so badly. What he needed so badly.

But he also wanted to ask Stiles why he had behaved the way he had. Or if Stiles had changed his mind about forgiving him.

"So, Scott thought it would be good idea to set me up with his English teacher."

"She's my teacher too."

Derek winced at the correction. Maybe he should have kept quiet. Oh well, it was already out there might as well get it all out.

"Point is he thought it was a genius idea. Sometimes I worry about his mental well-being when he does things like this."

"I don't see the problem. I mean Ms. Blake is all rainbows and unicorns. She'd be a good complement to your brooding and general gloom. You'd make a good pair."

Stiles might as well have punched him the throat, he doubted it could've hurt more. The desire to stop now and go away was strong but apparently he really wanted to chat to Stiles right now.

"That's not who I want."

Stiles turned at that, with his back to the counter he looked straight at Derek who was moments away from taking the two steps between them and pinning Stiles to the counter. He wanted to put his lips next to Stiles' ear and whisper 'You're the one I want.' He wanted to kiss his neck and rub his stubble on Stiles' skin smooth yet rough enough to give him stubble-burn.

Apparently he had been staring and took too long to respond because Stiles had taken a step toward him. No, this can't happen his brain yelled at him.

"Uh—is Jackson hurting you?"

Stiles didn't respond, he just stood fixed on the spot.

"You didn't tell me that day. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

The same look crossed his face that Derek recognised from that day at school when Stiles had completely ignored him.

"Why do you even care?" Stiles stepped back.

"I just wanna make sure you're not hurt. That you know I'm here, y'know if you need my help"

"Wouldn't be the first time I need your help and you're not here." And with that Stiles picked up a plate of food and two mugs from the counter and walked out of the kitchen.

Derek didn't know what hit him. Stiles' voice had been so bitter and his face so cold and closed off. Derek thought they were over this. He still felt guilty for leaving Stiles when he needed him, he would always feel guilty no matter what anyone told him but Stiles had said they were okay just weeks ago. It felt like he had let Stiles down again. He was broken from the trance he was in when he heard Scott talking outside.

"Dude, where were you? Took you so long."

Stiles didn't answer him and by the time Derek made his way out he was already walking up the stairs wordlessly.

"Oh hey Derek, did we wake you up? You want to watch Star Wars with us?" Scott asked with unparalleled enthusiasm about the movies that Derek knew had to be recent. He remembered Stiles fangirling over the series as a kid and Scott being mildly interested at best. It only made him realise just how much he had missed.

Scott was still standing there waiting for an answer. "No, I need to go sleep. You guys have fun. G'night Scott."

" 'k, good night Derek." And he followed Stiles up the stairs.

Derek was left standing in the dark thinking how he had messed up so much because of a stupid teenage crush. He had left his life behind for years and now he could see how everyone had continued living without him and he was lost in his own home. These were people he grew up, people who made him who he was. But now they were just ghosts of people he used to know.

They had welcomed him back into their lives with warmth and never questioned him. Still he couldn't help but feel like he had let them all down. Couldn't help but feel like he had lost his chance at something that could have been.

What Stiles had just said to him kept ringing in his ears. The bitterness had cut him deep. He wasn't sure he could ever recover from this. He wasn't sure he wanted to.

Derek spent weeks burying himself in work and writing every breathing moment. He took the weekend off and went to New York for a promotional event. He didn't do promotional events, which was why Erica had given him worried looks the entire weekend and he was pretty sure he would have to face Spanish Inquisition levels of questions from Laura when he returned. But he needed this. He needed the space, he needed one day without having to look at Stiles and be reminded of what an asshole he had been. He wanted to live one day without having to physically restrain himself from touching Stiles.

So he did what he did best, he ran. But it didn't help, as he laid in bed in yet another hotel room he thought back to how it was before he had messed up. Before Kate and before Aria was sick. His mind made up scenarios where she was still alive and how she would react to Derek feeling what he was feeling for Stiles. Would she support him like she always did or would she tell him to stay the fuck away from her son. He fell asleep like that and that's how the whole weekend passed him by- regretting and lamenting.

When he came back, Laura was waiting for him on the couch. He hadn't even called her about when he would be landing. God, how did she always know? Either that or she had been planted on this couch the whole weekend just waiting for him to come through the door. Yeah, he wouldn't put it past her.

"Good of you to show up."

"Laura."

"Where have you been you asshole?"

"What're you talking about? I told you before going."

"I meant the last three weeks. You are never here or at work and then you went to New York for a promotion. A promotion! Willingly! Erica called me all worried, she thought you were dying or something."

"That's a bit exaggerated."

"You want to know what's exaggerated. I'll tell you what's exaggerated. I've known you for seven years. You ran away when Kate hurt you and I went with you. I left everything behind and went with you. Finally after five years, finally you decide to come back and face your problems. I was so happy. I was so relieved when I realised that there was someone here for you. So relieved that you would stop fucking around now. When I saw Stiles, I knew that kid was gone on you. And I swear to God, I've never seen you happier than when he's around. It took us all actual planning, a fucking conspiracy to get you two together in a room. And I thought oh the idiot finally sees it. But no, you fucked up again didn't you? Moping around for days and running away again. That's exaggerated. You running away as soon as something good happens to you because you are scared shitless."

Derek just stood there staring at her. Laura was right, she had uprooted her life for Derek. She had left with him without questioning him ever. And yes, she was the reason Stiles was talking to him now. He owed her everything and Laura knew it. She always called him on his bullshit no matter how hard he glared at her but she had never called him out on this before.

"What happened, Der?" She asked softly.

He gave in. Because he had been holding it in and burying it down for too long. He gave in and told her everything.

He told her how Stiles had come crashing into his life one day as a hyperactive, loud little shit and how he'd stood gawking at Derek just inside the living room door when he first laid eyes on him. That was Derek's first memory of Stiles. Gawking at him while Derek tried to ignore him.

The weird kid Scott had brought home who annoyed the hell out of Derek because he would never leave him alone. No matter where he hid, Stiles would always come and find him.

He told her about how Scott had changed his life forever by lending Stiles his red crayon in elementary school. How Scott and Stiles were inseparable within 24 hours of meeting each other. How Scott had not only given him Stiles but also Aria and John. They were family.

He told her how the Stillinski-McCall dinner became a thing within weeks of Stiles coming home with Scott. How Aria would bring them both from school and keep an eye on them. And about how she was different than John and Melissa.

John didn't let Scott and Stiles out of his sight for five minutes if he could help it. And Melissa kept them both distracted with food or something. But Aria, no she let them do whatever the hell they wanted. She loved Stiles so much and Scott that she used to tell them they could be whoever they wanted. Then and when they grew up.

Sometimes she used to chuckle and say," Oh my god, Derek I made him. Just look at him, he's so perfect. And I made him." And just hug Stiles at random moments while he tried to get away from her death-grip so he could go climb a tree with Scott. She was a free spirit and she believed in letting the boys do whatever they wanted while she sat and smiled at them 'being silly' she called it when in reality the two monsters were wreaking havoc.

And that's why John and Melissa didn't willingly let her baby-sit as much as they could help it. Those two were scared shitless about leaving her with the boys. Only God knew what went on in her head. John and Melissa, they both had a pact behind her back about planning their schedules so Aria didn't have the kids for any longer than three hours at a given time without either of them around. But the thing was, Scott and Stiles had had more accidents when John or Melissa were looking over them so they didn't really have room to talk because Aria would bring it up. Neither of the boys had made a trip to the emergency room while Aria was in-charge and she made sure they both knew it. But the look of sheer terror on their faces when Aria just looked on mesmerized as Scott and Stiles played a prank or did something else that made everyone in town be suspicious of them. The pride on her face when Stiles pulled a fast one on some unsuspecting poor bastard.

But that only made her a great mother. Her ability to understand her sons and forgive them for their mistakes(after a good look of pride directed at them). Because that's what Stiles and Scott were to her-sons. And Derek.

Derek was like her personal project. They started off as people who didn't talk a lot outside of necessity and Derek loved people like that because he was one of those too. They both hated talking about the weather and when they didn't know each other well enough, there was no need to make conversation just for the sake of it. But when they did get close enough, they became the best of friends. Derek would walk into a room, see Aria and make a bee-line for her. She did the same. At the dinner table, their plates were set next to each other and despite the age difference they shared a mutual understanding that was so neat and so pure that John used to joke that the two of them should be married. And of course they'd both roll their eyes in sync and that would only make everyone laugh louder.

Aria encouraged him to write but that maybe because she was the first one he told. She told Derek about how satisfying it was to finish writing something you've started. He would have quit writing and gone into engineering after he failed at writing an original short-story if it wasn't for Aria. She brought it out in him. He owed it all to her.

Derek told Laura about how Aria getting sick had broken him. Kate had hurt him, yes but it was the news about Aria that had finally broken him. He was so badly hurt by what Kate had done to him but then it was seeing Aria lying in that bed- so pale and fragile, hardly a fragment of what she used to be that ran him out of town. It was how Stiles with tears in his eyes and trembling hands had asked him to stay that made him run far, far away. Because he thought it was unfair, it was unfair that the woman he loved had laughed in his face when he told her he loved her. He thought it was unfair that the person he respected the most in his life, the one person he knew he could rely on no matter what was lying in a hospital bed counting down the days till she would finally wither away. He thought it was unfair that a twelve year old boy came to him and begged him to stay and watch his mother die. Derek thought it was unfair to him.

And that was why he left. That was his mistake, he didn't think of anyone else. He thought of himself and left everyone wondering what they had done wrong. Left Stiles wondering why he wasn't worth it for Derek to stay around and help while he was already dealing with the loss of one person important to him.

He told Laura how he had fucked up once again and he didn't even know how. He told her about what had happened with Stiles that night in the kitchen.

And he also told her how it was becoming impossible for him to stay away from Stiles. How he just wanted to kiss Stiles and take away all his pain. How he wanted to sleep next to Stiles every night and wake up with him in his arms. How he wanted to buy groceries with Stiles and get all his underwear colored pink because Stiles left a red sock in the washer.

Laura looked at him for a second when he was done.

"Oh my god Derek, you're in love with him."

Derek opened his mouth but no sound would come out. He found himself being unable to deny what she was saying.

"You are in deep shit, my friend."

Laura was right. She was always right. He was in deep shit. He didn't just want to fuck Stiles. He wanted to make love to Stiles. He wanted a life with Stiles.

Well fuck.

The epiphany-which shouldn't really have been one given how much time he had spent thinking of Stiles/avoiding thinking of Stiles in the past five years-made his life even harder. It made his little plan of running all the more important in his mind. He stopped going home for more than a few hours. He avoided being there when he knew Stiles would be there, he didn't go to the shop as much and tried to avoid Laura as much as he could-she could be very persuasive. He got out of weekly dinners for a couple weeks with careful excuses before his mom noticed and called him to demand an explanation. He told her he was working on his next novel and Laura begrudgingly vouched for him.

That was how it went until one Friday night Laura came home and started talking about the boys' prom. Apparently that's what the whole dinner had been about-talking about the prom. She told him Stiles was going while he feigned disinterest. She bulldozed on and told him a boy named Danny had asked Stiles and they were going together while Scott was taking Allison. He had silently listened with his back to her as he felt a hot current run through his entire body. She had told him that he was going to the next dinner and that that was an order not a request.

And that's how Derek ended up sitting across Stiles who was seated next to Danny at the dinner table. He wasn't sure what was going on with everyone since he had been avoiding everyone like the plaque for the past few weeks but apparently everyone knew what was up with him-damn you Laura. They all asked about his health, one by one. But soon enough the conversation shifted to the prom as Scott lit up like a Christmas tree.

He turned to Derek and said so much in one breath, Derek wasn't sure he got even one single sentence of all that. Allison looked equally excited about it though she kept her thoughts to herself. When Scott was finished everyone smiled and then turned expectantly to Stiles. Literally, all their heads turned at once. In sync. It was creepy.

Stiles looked up from his half-eaten food and his eyes met Derek's, for the first time that night but he looked away instantly. Derek was not prepared for that. Before Stiles could start sharing his tale of happiness, Derek got up and excused himself. Everyone looked at him worried while Stiles snorted but it went unnoticed. Derek walked out to the porch, he could hear Stiles say behind him how he was going to have the best prom anyone has ever had.

That was the last he saw of Stiles till the next week.

Laura made it a point to bring Stiles up in a conversation every time Derek so much as acknowledged her presence in the room. Apparently, Stiles was wearing a white shirt with a silver bow-tie and black pants. And a silver vest. And no suit jacket. And shoes. By the time Friday came around, he had heard everything she could possibly say about the prom. Including how the weather was going to be that day. He had, on various occasions resisted the urge to shoot himself in the face just so he could be in the ER where they wouldn't let her see him.

But nothing could prepare him for what was coming. He tried to concentrate in the shop while the rage and jealousy that had engulfed him all week, seeped back in. He tried really hard not to think of Stiles and that boy. He tried to write but ever since that day he came back from New York, he hadn't been able to write a single word. Laura was of course there telling him about how Scott and Stiles had both paid for rooms at the hotel where the prom was going to be.

That seemed to do it. He walked out of the shop in the middle of the shift and drove away. He went to the Preserve; the open air had always seemed to calm him down. Derek wasn't sure what he was doing. He wanted Stiles, he needed Stiles but he hadn't even talked to him about it. No, he was just denying himself the chance of having anything by not even trying.

'He's a kid' his brain yelled at him.' He doesn't need all your baggage. You'll just abandon him when he needs you. Did it once already.'

This was so frustrating. Why did Stiles have to come into his life? Why did Scott have to lend him a crayon? Couldn't he have lent one to Allison instead? Or anyone. Anyone but Stiles. Because he may never admit it but his life had changed the moment Stiles walked in that door. He was doomed from the very start. It started as having one more annoying kid to handle but soon it became caring about this kid and having him be okay at all times. Derek hadn't come back for years during his school because he didn't know how to face Stiles. He was afraid that Stiles would push him away. Because if he didn't go back, he could pretend that it was okay. If he didn't go back, Stiles couldn't tell him to stay away from him. And even in those years, every time he called his mom he wanted to ask about Stiles but he didn't. John called him several times on birthdays and Christmas and he was dying to ask about Stiles but he didn't. When he was talking to Scott he mentioned Stiles sometimes without realising but mostly Scott too avoided talking about him. Everyone knew something was wrong but they didn't say anything and just continued to pretend that Stiles didn't exist when they talked to him.

He used to wonder if they avoided talking about him around Stiles too. He waited for Stiles to call him. Every birthday. Every Christmas. Every New Year's. But he never did. Derek felt like he wasn't in love with Stiles back then. Back then, it was just him caring and wishing Stiles would forgive him.

Or maybe he had always been in love with Stiles. Long before he left. Since that first day.

He went home when it got dark out and that meant the prom must have started. He ignored Laura as he micro waved yesterday's chicken and went to his room to eat in peace. She was groaning so loudly in the living room that he could hear it in his room. Over his tv.

He took a shower and went to bed. As he lay there awake trying to not think about Stiles, he realized that Stiles didn't even know what he was doing or why. He hadn't even told anyone anything but Laura about how he felt-who was still groaning and banging dishes now too. His mother would probably be happy for him either way. Scott may gag a little and it may be awkward with him in the beginning but he would come around. John could go either of two ways. He would either chase Derek across town with his gun or he would bear-hug him with tears in his eyes. And Laura would probably smack him on the head before calling him an idiot. And then she would punch him some more. And some more. And then probably she would hug, like on the third day or something. And tell him he was an idiot.

Just thinking about all this gave him hope and hope was bad. No hoping for him. Hoping made you sad when things don't work out. And there was no way he was going to tell Stiles or anyone else. Because even the age-difference aside, he was bad news. He had never been in a normal, functioning relationship. He had more emotional baggage than Lindsay Lohan as Laura had very helpfully pointed out. Several times. Yes, thank you, Laura.

So there was nothing he could do about it but lie there and think about all that he could've had. It was going to be just another long night.

He was finally slipping in and out of a light sleep when his phone rang. It was Stiles.

"Stiles? What happened? Are you okay?"

"Hey Der" Stiles hadn't called him that in years.

"Hey. Are you alright, Stiles?"

"Yeah, I'm alright. Well, not really. To be honest, I haven't really been alright in six years. I've tried, believe me I've tried. It just doesn't seem to work."

"Stiles, what happened?" He didn't know what else to say so he was just going to ignore that Stiles had said that.

"Oh, there was this asshole I knew. He left me behind even after I begged him to stay. On my knees. I guess I wasn't worth it." Stiles wasn't letting it go, though.

"Stiles"

"What? You gonna tell me it wasn't me? It was that woman? I know, Derek. I get it, I understand that you were hurt and that you needed to leave. But my mother was dying and I needed you. I needed you and I begged but you still went. And you didn't come to her funeral. You didn't call me for five years. You didn't ask about me, not even once. Was I that insignificant to you? Am I that insignificant to you?"

"You're not insignificant, Stiles."

"That all you gonna say? It took me five years and a bottle of Jack to ask you this and that's all you've got to say?"

"Are you drunk, Stiles?"

"I don't see how that's any of your business."

"Answer the question, Stiles."

"Yes. Yeah, I'm drunk. Hammered actually. But I really need to hear you say it. I need you to say that I don't mean anything to you so I can finally get over this stupid crush I've had on you all my life. So I can finally get you out of my head and find someone who actually cares if I am breathing or not."

What?

"What?"

"You heard me, Derek. I like you. I'm gone on you, Derek Hale. I have been since I was five. So I need you to tell me to go fuck myself. That Derek Hale doesn't care about mere mortals like me. That you couldn't give a fuck if I fell off this roof right now. That—"

"Stiles, get down from that roof. Where are you right now? Are you still at the prom? Where is Scott?" He rushed out of bed, looking for his keys and wallet.

"She talked about you, you know. After you left, she talked about you and she said that if you could stay you would've. She told me you'd come find me when you were ready. And I, like an idiot thought that you would, that she was always right. Turns out she was wrong. She asked me to forgive you. For everything. Said I shouldn't be mad even if you didn't come to the funeral. She knew."

Derek stopped abruptly at that. Stiles was sobbing now, he could tell. His voice was cracking and Derek doubted that Stiles had talked about his mom to anyone for years.

"Stiles, I—"

"I forgave you- the day she asked me to. I just thought that I meant more to you than some kid who played with your brother. I was here waiting for you to call me and ask me how I was, just once. Wish me a happy birthday. I always knew you'd never feel the same way about me and I never complained but you didn't even ask if I was alive. Five years, Derek. And then you came back. Never called me. I'm still waiting for that call, Derek.

But I got over it, I let you back in. But you have no idea what it feels like to have you around and feel like I don't mean anything to you. Why do you make so much effort to avoid me?"

"Stiles, I'm not—"

"Don't insult me, Derek. I know you. You ran away but I was here when you were gone. I was here, looking at Lydia Martin when she talked to me for the first time and being so confused why it didn't make me dance around like it would've in elementary school. I was here when she kissed me and all I could think was 'I wonder how it would feel like to kiss Derek'. And here I am still, Derek. Danny had me pinned against the wall and all I could do was stand there and think what would Derek feel like pressed so close to me."

Derek felt his heart stop at that. His breath hitched and he wasn't sure where he was anymore.

"So I just need you to tell me plain and clear that you couldn't care less if I killed myself. Not that I'm suicidal or anything. But Danny is a nice guy, he doesn't deserve this."

"Stiles I'm coming to get you. Stay where you are, I'm on my way."

"What? No, I don't need you to be here. Just tell me."

"I'll be there in ten minutes. And I am going to bring you back here with me and you are going to sleep here till the morning. And I am going to wake up tomorrow morning and I'm going you fuck you. Till you stop saying bullshit like that."

Stiles inhaled sharply at that but before he could say anything, Derek spoke. "Just stay where you are. I'll be there in ten."

Derek drove faster than he had ever driven in his life. John may be on patrol and he may stop Derek over-speeding, trying to get to his son. Yeah, not really a good idea but he really just did not care right now. He got to the hotel in eight minutes. Laura had squealed so loud when he had gone into her room to ask which hotel the prom was in. She had practically leaped into the car with him but then had smirked and wiggled her eyebrows. He had run out of there as fast as he could.

Stiles was sitting on the sidewalk when he got there. Vest open, tie hanging around his neck and shirt sleeves rolled up. Derek had to remind himself that Stiles was a minor and drunk. But Stiles had other plans, he walked up to Derek just as he was getting out of the car and pushed him against the door. Before Derek could even open his mouth to talk, Stiles shoved his leg in between Derek's and pressed his lips against Derek's. Derek was officially gone. Dead.

Stiles just brushed his lips against Derek's for a second and then he licked Derek's lower lip before pulling on it with his teeth. This seemed to bring Derek back from the land of the dead and he opened his mouth and licked Stiles' lips before pushing his tongue into Stiles' mouth. Stiles moaned against him and rolled his hips. Derek felt heat rising low in his stomach and he wasn't going to last very long if Stiles kept making the noises he was making right now. And he didn't want that so as hard as it was he pulled back. Stiles traced his mouth and his tongue found Derek's and boy this was hard to resist. Stiles' leg pressing harder against his arousal. And Stiles' hips rolling with a rhythm. Not long at all if he didn't stop it.

Derek pushed on Stiles' shoulders and finally got him to move back even if Stiles was whimpering at the loss.

"Not here."

Stiles smiled at that and went around to get in the car. Derek needed a moment to himself, oh god this was going to be a long ride home.

It was. Stiles fell asleep in the first two minutes and Derek(the creeper that he was) kept stealing glances at him as he drove slower than he usually did. Stiles looked so peaceful as he slept, mouth slightly open as always. Derek carried him to the loft and put him to bed. Stiles woke up as Derek was trying to get his shirt off but he made him go back to sleep. Derek changed him into one of his tee shirts and sweats. And then he had to go the bathroom to jerk off because apparently he was fourteen again and had no control over his body. He lied down next to Stiles and put his arm around him and went to sleep. He slept soundly that night, more than he had in days. Years, really.

Derek woke up to find the bed empty and panicked for a second before he heard voices from the kitchen. Stiles was here. So was Laura, oh shit. He walked out as fast as he could and they both turned to look at him. Laura gave him a thumbs up while Stiles flushed a deep, deep red and ducked his head. Derek made his way to the coffee maker and filled himself a cup. He sat down without saying anything and this was awkward. Laura got up after a minute,

"So. I am just going to go to my room. You two love birds have fun. But not too loud. You're like my brother and I don't—"

She noticed the red almost purple colour Derek had turned and stopped abruptly and picked up her breakfast and disappeared into her room.

They both let out a long breath when she was gone and then sniggered. Stiles was still standing across the counter, facing him. Derek didn't know what was happening or why. He had made an impulsive decision last night but in the daylight he could fully acknowledge the implications of what he had done. All the reasons why he wasn't good for Stiles were still true. So what if Stiles felt the same way he did, he was still a minor. And Derek was still not right for him. And he had to sort this out before he hurt Stiles anymore.

"So, I was—"

"Stiles, this can't happen."

"What?"

"I can't."

"What? Why?"

"It's better if we don't."

"But why? Give me a reason."

"Look, you are still a kid and I—"

"You what? Don't care about me? Why'd you bring me here, then? What you said last night...oh my god was I a pity-fuck? And now you suddenly change your mind?"

"What? No, Stiles—"

"Oh god, I thought I couldn't hate you any more than I used to. But this is low, even for you Derek." Stiles was yelling now and Laura ran out of her room to see what was happening.

"You are the biggest asshole I have ever met in my life."

"Stiles, that's not what I meant. I just think that you are too young to be—"

"What? Fucked? Say it. I need you to stop making excuses Derek. Just say what you actually think."

"Stiles, I can't."

"Yeah, I heard you the first time. Twelve years. Twelve years, I've been crazy about you. Good thing I found out it wasn't you I was thinking of all this time. It was this imaginary person my mother talked about, it was the Derek I used to know. Not you. You're not him."

"Stiles, I just don't think that—"

"I'm not good enough for you. I get it. Well, goodbye Derek. I never want to see you again."

Stiles stormed out of the loft as Laura leaned against the wall and just stared at the door longingly.

"I'm not good enough for you." Derek whispered as Laura came up to him and hugged him.

That was three days ago. Derek hasn't seen anyone since, no one has called him or come to see him. Laura has left him alone for the most part. She told him not to go to the shop for a while and to just stay home and write. Like he could write when there was so much on his mind.

He was in bed even if it was one in the afternoon, Stiles' clothes from that night still strewn on the floor like he had left them. He hadn't had the heart to touch them.

Derek felt like he had lost everything. He had. He had hurt the person he was in love with, he had made Stiles cry and broken his heart. He deserved everything Stiles had said to him and more. But it still stung. At first, he had thought that maybe this is for the best. Better that Stiles hates him and will avoid him. It should be easier to let him go now.

But no, if anything he wanted Stiles more than ever. He wanted to comfort Stiles and let him know that he was the most important person in the world to Derek. And that the Derek he was crazy about was still there. And he loved Stiles. And yet, here he was in bed in the middle of the day like a romance novel heroine crying over lost love. He got out of bed, took and shower and started driving towards the Preserve. A run would help him clear his mind, maybe think of a way to clear up all this mess. He was driving on the town road when his phone rang. It was Laura, he ignored the call. Then there was a text.

'It's about Stiles. Pick up.'

He picked up the second the phone rang again. Laura didn't give him a chance to talk.

"He's in the hospital..."

That's all he heard. He was pretty sure she kept talking after that, he could still hear her voice faintly. He felt a sharp pain in his forehead. He lifted his head to touch and it came back bloody. He was staring at his hand when someone knocked on his window. It was a woman.

"Are you okay? Oh my god, you're bleeding. I'm so sorry, you just stopped out of nowhere. I hit you pretty hard. Let me call an ambulance. You need to see a doctor."

Ambulance. Doctor. Stiles.

Derek turned his head and started driving without looking back at the woman. He needed to get to Stiles. He wasn't feeling very well, a little disoriented. There was a dull throb in his head now. He parked and ran into the hospital. A nurse saw him come in and hurried toward him.

"What happened, Sir? Did you have an accident? Is anyone else hurt?"

"Stiles. He's here. He's here in the hospital. I need to see him."

"Sir, I need to check your injury. You might have a concussion."

"Just tell me where Stiles is." He snapped at the petite blonde woman who retracted her arm where she was clutching his bicep.

"You need to see a doctor."

"I'll see one later. This is important. I'm looking for Stilinski."He barked at the receptionist. She took about five minutes looking at the computer and then called someone.

"He's in the Cancer Wing. He had some tests but he's resting now. Are you family?"

Derek nodded his head without a second thought. Words had escaped him, coherent thought far from his reach as her words rang sharp and clear in his head.

Cancer Wing.

He followed the directions quietly as corridor after corridor passed him. His head was now numb and his brain cluttered at once as thoughts and words and sentences flooded back.

No. Just the thought of Stiles in a hospital bed made him sick. The thought of Stiles being weak and pale and being anything but the Stiles he had always known and loved made him want to kill himself. He couldn't bear to think of Stiles withering away slowly till he was gone forever. Taken from Derek. Taken before he could even have him. He walked in the door of the Wing and found Laura pacing there. She turned to him and ran, put her hands on his forehead.

"What happened, Der? Did you have an accident?"

He didn't answer her, he just walked further where Scott was plumped on a chair and John was leaning on the wall, looking pale. He looked up when Derek went to stand in front of him.

"What happened, Son?"

"How is he?"

"He's okay. They just did some tests. He's resting right now."

"What happened?"

"He..." John's voice broke and his red eyes filled up with unshed tears. Scott spoke up from where he was sitting.

"He had headaches and nose bleeds. For days. He didn't tell us, I found him throwing up and saw blood. We brought him here to check."

Derek knew exactly what he meant by that, check what. But he'd be damned if he wasn't going to deny it and bury it so deep down that it never became conscious thought.

"We'll know the results in a couple hours. He's sleeping right now. You should go see a doctor for that." John pointed toward his head. Derek didn't even realize what he was talking about till he touched the bruise again and Laura winced at his bloody hand. He couldn't give less of a fuck right now.

"I'm okay." That's all he said for the next four hours. Even as Laura was giving him disapproving looks and Scott looked like he was going to deliver a baby. John was getting paler by the minute. His mom came sometime while they were waiting and quietly cleaned his wound and patched him up. She smiled warmly at him and for a second he felt like it'll all be okay. She put the first aid kit down and opened her arms. Derek buried his head in her stomach and pulled his hands around her waist as she stood in front of the chair he was sitting in. And she held him while he silently sobbed. Just like he did sometimes when he was a kid.

Finally after the longest wait, a doctor came toward them with a clipboard in hand.

"Mr. Stilinski, if you'll follow me please."

"Here is fine, Doctor. This is family."

"As you wish. Well, initial tests cannot be completely reliable because of lack of time but I will recommend further tests. Initial tests have found nothing. He doesn't have Cancer. But you should get a thorough examination just to be on the safe side. Personally, I think he'll be just fine."

Everyone sighed and there were tears and smiles and someone was saying something but he had tuned out at 'doesn't have cancer.' Relief flooded over him as John pulled him into a tight hug and felt his shoulder get wet from tears. He held him tighter. If he could do anything for Stiles, keeping his father safe or anything else, he would.

Scott was bawling like a baby and his mom was trying to get him to shut up. Laura was wiping at her eyes but the moment she saw him looking, she smiled brightly at him. Everything was okay.

Derek hadn't gone in to see Stiles, he was still sleeping but he felt like he was betraying him. Stiles had asked him to stay away and that's what he was going to do. There was no way this could end well for either of them. And it was impossible for him to stay away from Stiles if he could see him around. He wouldn't survive being around Stiles and not being able to touch him. Seeing Stiles everyday and not be with him. Worse still, if Stiles found someone else Derek could never survive that.

But he had been selfish enough already so he wasn't going to put Stiles in a hard spot. He was going to New York. For good. His plane was leaving in seven hours and he was packing the last of his stuff. The last few days had been a disaster. He had hurt Stiles so badly and then he'd ended up in the hospital because he was taking Aspirin to cure the head-aches he'd constantly had since leaving here. That's why he had nose bleeds. Laura had told him all this and that Stiles was okay now and was being released.

Derek didn't remember driving home but that was perhaps because he had only been thinking of one thing. That he needed to go away and stay away. He needed to get out of Stiles' life for his sake. He had already wrecked the boy once, he wasn't about to do it again. So the minute he had gotten home, he had called Erica and told her he was coming there. She had booked him a flight within the hour and got him a room booked for the week. She had also gone behind his back and told Laura who had stormed into the loft and slapped him.

Derek didn't hold it against her, she wasn't thinking how he was thinking. It was likely that she thought he was running away again, which wasn't that far from the truth but she didn't realise his motivation. That was okay, eventually she would. And then she'd agree with him. But now, she had just screamed her lungs out for about twenty minutes and then cried and then stormed out again. She hadn't come back yet. Derek was almost done packing when he heard the door open again. He braced himself from another slap, a punch perhaps or just a good ole' verbal match but it never came.

What did come was Stiles' voice from the doorway of his room.

"Going somewhere?"

He started when he heard Stiles behind him, for a moment he was sure he was hearing things but there was Stiles, leaning on the wall.

"Yeah, I-uh, I'm going to New York for a while."

"Old habit. How long for?"

"Don't know yet."

"Are you gonna call me this time?"

"Stiles, what are you doing here?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you should be home, resting."

"Now you're worried about me?"

"Stiles, I—"

"Don't bother. I just had a very interesting conversation with Laura."

Derek looked up sharply and Stiles was smirking. No.

"Look, whatever she said—"

"She said and I quote 'he is a giant asshole. I hate him. He's got his head so far up his ass he doesn't even see what's right under his nose.'"

"Uh…"

"And what's right under your nose is that I'm in love with you. I have been for twelve years. She also called me a dickhead for not seeing what's right under my nose.

What's under my nose, you ask? Apparently you're in love with me too."

"Stiles, don't."

"Don't what? Fall in love with you? Already did, asshole. Not call you on your bullshit? I've had enough."

"Look, I think it's easier if we just—"

"I'm not looking for easy. If I was, I'd be fucking Danny right now."

Derek felt a twinge of anger and envy course through him at that and Stiles seemed to catch it too.

"What I want to know is when did I give you the right to make decisions for me you moron?"

"This is not what you want, trust me. You deserve better than—"

"When are you going to stop being a martyr, Derek. So, a woman broke your heart when you were a kid. So, you ran away and hid for five years. So, what? It doesn't give you the right to take away your happiness and mine. Why do I deserve better? Because you're older? I don't care. Because I'm a minor? I'll wait. Because you're emotionally two years old? I'll wrench emotions out of you if I have to. Because I deserve someone better? I want you. No one else, only you."

"Stiles just listen to me—"

"No, you listen to me. I tried doing this your way. You let me believe that you don't care about me, that I was a pity-fuck when in reality you have been moping about ever since you came back. Truth is you wanted me when you saw me with Jackson that night. You wanted me that night in the kitchen. You wanted me on prom night and you want me now."

Stiles walked up to him and was punctuating every point with a finger jabbing into his chest.

"Well, what're you waiting for?"

And something in Derek snapped. He had been denying himself good things for so long because he had made a mistake once. Stiles was right, he was holding himself back because he was a martyr.

Derek pushed Stiles till he was pinned to the wall. Finally.

"I'm going to make love to you. I'm gonna lick every single spot on your skin and kiss every single mole so, so gently. But right now, I'm going to fuck you so hard against this wall you'll scream my name till you lose your voice." Derek felt Stiles shudder against him as he whispered in his ear.

He pushed forward and took Stiles' mouth with force. Stiles moaned but he opened his mouth and Derek dipped his tongue in. He shoved his knee between Stiles' legs and lifted him up till Stiles got the hint and crossed his legs around Derek's waist and put his hands around his shoulders. Stiles leaned further down and bit Derek's lip and that made him growl. He leaned down Stiles' neck and ran his tongue down it till he reached the pulse point. Stiles sucked in a sharp breath when Derek bit down on it. He kissed it softly and lapped at it with his tongue.

Stiles thrusted his hips against Derek and he lifted him away from the wall and carried him to the bed. Derek put him down and pushed his suitcase away before he straddled Stiles. The new position made contact easier and he could feel that Stiles was hard too. Derek kissed him again, gentler this time before trailing his mouth down Stiles' neck. Derek ripped off his tee shirt and trailed kisses down his chest till he got to the treasure trail that he had so badly wanted to touch for so long. He kissed around it and Stiles gasped.

"I've wanted to do since that night in the kitchen."

"No one's stopping you."

"God, do you ever shut up?"

"Why don't you make me?"

"I think I will."

Derek dipped down his hand and grabbed Stiles through his jeans as he let out the dirtiest sound Derek had ever heard. And he loved it. He unzipped Stiles' jeans and pulled them down. He took off his own clothes and climbed back on the bed. Stiles raised up his head to see what was going on and he caught Derek's eyes just as he took Stiles in his mouth. He threw his head back and shot off the bed but Derek held him down. When Stiles calmed down a little, Derek licked the underside of his cock and kissed the tip. Stiles arched his back but stayed down. Derek took his head in and slowly moved till the tip hit his throat and Stiles' whole body convulsed. Derek bobbed his head up and down while he softly caressed the hair under his navel. He took his mouth off and started jerking Stiles off and as he slid his finger over the slit, Stiles sat up and pushed Derek's hand away.

"I—I can't, not anymore. Just fuck me, Derek. Please."

Derek went to his desk and got the lube and condoms and set them next to Stiles. He pushed Stiles back on the bed, spread his legs wide as he dipped his fingers in lube. He kissed Stiles' stomach lightly as his finger trailed along his dick and over his hole. Stiles shouted out when he traced his finger over the hole gently. After stroking it for a while, he felt Stiles loosen and lightly pushed his finger in. Stiles let out a muffled groan, his face was buried in a pillow while his hands held on tightly to the sheets. Derek gently moved the finger in and out until Stiles loosened then he added another finger. Stiles winced and he stopped.

"No, don't stop. No keep going. Please"

He pushed the fingers in and waited a beat before pulling them out and pushing in again. Stiles started to move with his fingers, he started rolling his hips with the movement of his hands. Stiles was fucking himself on Derek's fingers. He felt his dick twitch at that, he was leaking now. Derek scissored his fingers in and out of Stiles as Stiles started thrusting harder and he knew he could take another finger. Stiles let out a whiny sound as Derek palmed himself.

"Oh God Derek, just fuck me already."

Derek chuckled but as he reached for the condoms Stiles made a little sound. Derek turned to look at him but he was blushing and hiding his face. Derek moved up and kissed his ear.

"What?"

"I was, I was just uh. I was thinking we don't have to use a condom. If it's okay with you. I mean I'm obviously clean." Derek forgot to breathe for a second. He had slept around a lot but this he had never done before. Well, none of those people were Stiles.

"I'm clean too. I got checked last month and I haven't…"

"Only if you want to. I just, I want to feel you inside me. When you cum."

"Fuck Stiles. Don't say stuff like that. You're gonna kill me."

"Um..." He licked his lips nervously.

"Oh God, your mouth. The things I'm gonna do to your mouth when I'm done fucking you. Your lips were made for me."

Stiles blushed and his whole face turned red just like Derek had always wanted to do to Stiles. He also wanted Stiles to be a moaning, writhing mess under him. Right, better get working on that.

Derek lined himself and pushed in slowly. Stiles' back was off the bed and his legs were twitching. Derek paused for a second to let Stiles adjust.

"Don't stop, fuuuck don't stop."

He started moving until he was buried fully inside Stiles. His senses were so overwhelmed right now and then Stiles wrapped his legs around Derek's hips. Oh, he wasn't getting out of this alive.

Derek slowly moved in and out till Stiles' legs stopped twitching and then he leaned in to kiss Stiles on his chin. When he opened his eyes and looked straight at him, Derek pushed in hard and Stiles' eyes fluttered close and he bit his lip. Derek pounded in hard again and Stiles grunted. He held on to the sheets tighter as Derek thrusted in and out of him at a relentless pace that had Stiles shifting on the bed under him till Stiles reached out and grabbed the headboard. Derek pounded into him and Stiles begged for him.

"Harder, Der. Harder."

"Oh God, oh yes oh my god fuck yes."

"Yes, yes yeah. Right there, Der oh my god right there. Jesus."

Derek couldn't even form words right now, all the noises were coming from Stiles except the occasional growl that ripped out of Derek's mouth every so often.

"Derek. Oh god holy shit fuuuucck, Derek"

He was getting closer but not there yet and Stiles was moaning breathlessly under him until it all became a chant of DerekDerekDerekDerek

Derek leaned forward and asked Stiles to open his eyes. He whispered "I love you." And Stiles came with a shudder and as he clenched hard on his cock, he lost it. He tipped over the edge and spilled into Stiles.

He collapsed next to Stiles whose chest was rising and falling at an alarming rate and he was heaving breathlessly. Derek leaned over and kissed Stiles on his forehead. He had white spots in his vision-for the first time. He had never cum so hard in his life. Or felt this satisfied afterward. This was all he wanted from life.

Stiles finally opened his eyes and tried to speak but nothing came out. Derek got up and got him a glass of water. Stiles chugged it down and then coughed for a good minute as Derek rubbed his back soothingly.

When he was finally okay, Stiles turned to face Derek. His hair was standing up, there was a deep red mark on his neck where Derek had marked him, his lips were red and swollen and his eyes were so dark, his pupils blown wide. He looked debauched. Derek smirked at him.

"Lost your voice?"

"I love you."

And just like that, Derek lost an argument he certainly had in the bag. He lost all will to compete or argue and pulled Stiles over him. Stiles kissed him slow and filthy and then he was flipping them over and reaching around to pull Stiles' legs around his waist.

It took them three days to finally get out of bed. Pizza boxes were strewn on the floor along with Derek's suitcase and their clothes. They had finally talked about everything there was to talk about. Neither of them wanted to get out of bed but they knew that their family had been very patient with them and since John hadn't shown up with a gun yet it was better to go to them before he could threaten Derek with bodily harm. Derek preferred to keep all his bones. Stiles preferred he keep them too. Especially that one.

"What are you? Six?"

So, after they had finally gotten out of bed for breakfast Derek, was cooking while Stiles lazed on the counter. He got up and started walking around the living room and came back with the first copy of 'She is so strange' in his hand. Derek turned around to look at him when he didn't speak and found Stiles looking questioningly at him.

"What?"

"You wrote this?" Right. Pen-name.

"Uh, yeah."

"You're Tyler Hoechlin?"

"Yup."

"That's the best you could come up with? Tyler?"

"Excuse you, Tyler is a great name." Stiles snorted.

"I always wondered what he looked like. But really though, you couldn't tell me? Hang on a second, is this why you were smirking at me when I was reading the book that day after dinner?"

Derek chuckled as he made his way over to put his arms around Stiles and laugh into his hair.

"Narcissistic much?"

"You're the one who said I should learn something from 'this guy. He just captures emotions so beautifully'."

"You know for an emotionally stunted kid, you did a great job with this book. And even with 'Blood is thicker than water'. I mean I didn't read it at first out of spite but then I gave in and fell in love with it. But of course you didn't need to know that, your ego's big enough."

"Fell in love, huh?"

"Oh please, if you ever bring this up again I will skin you."

"Skin me?"

"Yeah, it's a thing. Forget it. But you have to promise me you'll show me everything you write. And if I find out you have another pen name or a book I don't know about, I'll gut you in your sleep you hear me?"

"Woah, you are really visual with your threats." But as Stiles went on with something about making shoes, Derek thought about Aria's journal. Stiles had a right to know. He had more right than Derek did.

"Hey, come on let's eat breakfast. I've got something to show you after."

"Is it another book? Please say it's another book."

"Yeah, but eat first." Stiles pouted as he sat down and Derek put the pan of eggs in front of him.

"Eating from the pan? You're my kind of man."

That was a stupid, childish comment that shouldn't have made Derek grin dopily. But it did. And Stiles was giggling because it rhymed. Fuck his life.

Stiles was squirming in the two minutes that it took Derek to open his suitcase and pry out the journal from where he had buried it under all his clothes and his eyes went big when they landed on the leather-bound book. Derek walked him over to his desk, sat him down and handed him the journal. Stiles looked at him and didn't open it.

"This was your mother's. She gave it to me before I left. It's a story she was writing, she wanted me to finish it. I'm pretty close to the end but I want you to read it when I finish and tell me what you think."

Stiles was so still as he hung on to his every word and ran his fingers over the cover but made no move to open it. He looked up when Derek was done and nodded before opening the journal. He ran his hand over the first page where Aria had written her name and the words - A Eulogy.

Stiles' eyes were watery as he turned the pages without reading anything, just looking at the words in his mother's hand-writing. And then he stopped abruptly and turned to the last page.

"Do you have a letter-opener? Butter knife? Anything?"

Derek got a ruler and handed it to him. Stiles slit open the last page that was bound to the back-cover and there were words there. Words that Derek didn't know were there.

"She always told me about leaving secret notes at the back of books. Never thought I'd find one." Stiles was sobbing now as he began reading.

Stiles,

I knew you would find this. How are you? Happy, I hope. I wish I could be there to see you grow up and become a beautiful young man. You are already the most beautiful person to me, Stiles. I have to write this because I won't be there to see you grow up and it's unfair I know. But son, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to. And I know you will be just fine because you are the smartest and the strongest boy I know.

I hope Derek's there with you. Tell him, I am really proud of him. I believe in you Derek, I know you can do it. You can do anything you set your mind to. And I wish I was there to help you and smack you on the head every time you did something stupid because you think you don't deserve something good. And I really hope that both of you have finally realized what you mean to each other.

I know you are taking really good care of your dad. Don't let him drink and work too much. Tell him I'm really sorry I wasn't there for our son and that I left him alone. That I still love him and always will. I want you to take care of Scott for me. Keep him in check. And make sure Melissa doesn't work all the time and takes a break.

Stiles, I may not be there with all of you but I will always think of you. You were the world to me. Take care of each other, it's hard to make a family and harder to keep one. The three of us had a dream about our children and I believe that you can make it come true. Don't let anything in life hold you back, even me.

I want you to live a happy and full life and when it's time I will be waiting for you. Until then, I hope you find a love as pure as your father's and mine. It's closer than you think, Son.

Aria Stilinski

"She knew."

Tears were streaming Stiles' face now and Derek got up from where he was sitting to pull him into his arms. Stiles let go of the journal and started weeping now as Derek picked him and took him to bed. He pulled Stiles close to him and covered his body protectively with his own. He knew Stiles was hurting, it was likely he hadn't talked to anyone about Aria in a while. And it may have been years since he lost her but the pain was still fresh. Especially after the scare last week. Derek felt his insides clench at the memory, he couldn't have lived through the pain if Stiles was sick. He pushed that thought away and held on tighter and kissed Stiles softly on his forehead till he stopped shaking and his breathing shallowed.

As Stiles slept next to him, shaking a little in his dreams Derek thought about the note. Aria knew about them. She knew all those years ago. And she gave her blessing. Tears were stinging his eyes again as he thought back to the day she had asked him to take the journal and told him that she loved him. That was the last thing she had said to him. He had buried that memory along with other painful ones but he didn't want to anymore.

He wanted to remember Aria not only as the great writer she was and the most important person to him for a long time in his life but also the nourishing second mother she was to him. She gave him her son, she gave him his life.

He was going to give her what she asked of him.

When they finally made it to dinner, everyone knew. They didn't really have to say anything. And everyone's faces were different levels of relief and of course Laura had a shit eating grin on hers. Everyone except Scott who looked equal parts happy and about to throw up. He looked suspiciously like Laura had just leaned over and whispered something disturbing to him which yes, his best friend and older brother were now together-Derek could understand where he was coming from. But he also knew that Scott would deal. Scott was good at dealing, he had dealt with the loss of a father almost too well for a kid. Of course the dealing usually came after an obscene amount of bitching and moaning but Derek couldn't care less about anything right now. Stiles was here and that's all that mattered. It was the happiest dinner he could remember.

Derek always had this thought at the back of his mind, what if Stiles didn't like the book? What if he couldn't do this for Aria? But then one night Stiles came and found him as he was sitting on the porch typing furiously to finish editing the series. Stiles came and sat next to him but didn't say anything for awhile. He did that sometimes just sat next to Derek, like he was reassuring himself that he was there. To be honest, Derek loved it when he did that. A warm presence next to him and something settled in him.

But right now Derek knew that Stiles wanted to say something, he could just tell so he put his laptop away and turned to him.

"I finished it."

Derek held his breath and waited for Stiles to continue. There's only two ways this can go and it's okay either way he tried telling himself.

"It's perfect. She would have loved it."

He released the breath he had been holding and just looked at Stiles for the longest moment. How had he gotten so lucky?

"I think we should show Dad and the others. I want you to publish it."

"Yeah, okay."

Neither of them said anything for a while but then Stiles got up and moved between Derek's legs and leaned his back against his chest. Derek felt like he had found something he didn't even know he was looking for. It was as if he had been carrying a dead weight all his life and it was finally taken off because he had never felt so free ever. Or so satisfied.

He didn't know how he had gotten here even after he had messed up so bad and made the biggest mistake of his life in leaving Stiles and everything behind and running away but he was here now. He was home.