With one final turn, Derek exited the freeway and pulled onto the main road through town. He inhaled the familiar scent of Beacon Hills and he wondered why he had ever left. It had made sense to him at the time, getting a break from all of the chaos that seemed to permeate the entire place, but looking back he realized that the chaos was worth putting up with when it meant being home. After all this time, Beacon Hills was and always would be his home.

Derek had been in Washington the day he had made the decision to return and he had jumped in the car that same day heading back to his loft. It had been three months since he left but thankfully no one had bought his old loft.

Derek almost smiled when the loft came into view. He pulled up and gazed at the run down looking building happily. He stretched as he dragged himself out of the car, muscles sore from too long spent in the same position as he drove. Straightening back up, he finally took the time to survey his surroundings and he was struck by the smell in the air. It was a smell he had not been expecting here. Mixed with the familiar scents of the loft itself was the equally familiar scent of Stiles.

Memories washed over Derek and he tried to tell himself that Stiles had nothing to do with his return to Beacon Hills. It didn't matter what he told himself though, he knew underneath all the protests that Stiles had played a much bigger role in his return than he admitted to. Though he didn't know why Stiles would be at his loft, he could not stop the thrill that swept through him at the thought of seeing Stiles again.

He found that some of the tension that had seeped into him in his months away was already easing as he tuned into the beat of Stiles heart and felt the reassurance that Stiles was alive and breathing. Not just breathing actually, at the moment he appeared to be lightly snoring. Derek grabbed his bag of meager belongings and made his best effort to be silent as he proceeded into the loft and closer to Stiles. The teen was stretched out on the couch with a blanket wrapped around him. Derek felt his heart ache a little when he saw the dark lines under the boy's eyes and Derek wondered how much sleep Stiles had been getting.

Instead of waking Stiles up, Derek sat on the floor and rested his back against the couch. He dug a book out of his bag and settled in to read until Stiles woke up.

About half an hour later Stiles' breathing changed. It became more frantic and desperate. Paired with the increased breathing was the soft whimper that eased out of his throat and his fists clenching tightly as his whole body trembled. Panic flooded Derek and he dropped the book uncaringly so he could turn to Stiles. His eyes raked over the teen trying to find something wrong, trying to figure out what was hurting him. After a moment it hit him that Stiles wasn't being attacked; he was simply having a nightmare.

Derek wasn't certain what to do; he hesitantly lifted his hand to Stiles' cheek with a feather light touch. He whispered Stiles' name as he did it and when that got no response he repeated the name a little louder. The only reaction was a low whine from the teen. Derek moved his hand to Stiles' shoulder and started lightly shaking him, repeating his name louder still. With one particularly loud call of his name Stiles jerked awake, eyes wide and chest heaving.

He stared unseeing straight ahead for a moment and then when his fear filled eyes finally focused in on Derek they clouded over in tears. Derek was about to ask what was wrong when he suddenly found Stiles no longer in front of him. The teen had bolted off the couch and halfway across the room and he seemed very determined not to look back in Derek's direction.

Derek felt a flare of hurt as he stared at the boy's back. Then he noticed the shaking of Stiles' shoulders and he heard the steady mantra issuing from Stiles' lips, "It's not real. It's not real. It's not real." Derek cautiously approached Stiles; he reached a hand out to the teen's shoulder and felt Stiles stiffen suddenly at the touch. Quite suddenly Stiles was turning around with a glare and Derek took a quick step back in shock when Stiles started yelling. "Why the hell do you keep having to show up? I'm sick of this. I can't take it anymore. Get your stupidly perfect self out of my damn dreams. The nightmares are bad enough without you popping in and giving me hope only to turn out to be another dream. I am one hundred percent done with dreaming that you're still here only to wake up all alone again." Stiles' voice broke as he neared the end of his tirade.

With a strangled sob, Stiles wrapped his hands into Derek's jacket and pulled the werewolf to him. He clung to Derek like he was Stiles' last shred of hope and the moment Derek's arms circled around him he sagged against Derek and cried.

Derek was at a complete loss. He did the best thing he could think of which was to simply hold the boy until he realized he wasn't dreaming. It took a while but Derek didn't mind. He just lightly rubbed Stiles' back and pressed kisses into the top of his head until Stiles' tears slowed to a stop. When Stiles finally pulled away Derek didn't let him go far, instead he caught on to the retreating teen's hand. Derek brought his other hand up to wipe the last few tears off of Stiles' face and he softly whispered, "I'm real, Stiles. I'm home."

Disbelief was etched into Stiles' face for only a moment. Then as if he was pulling together all the pieces of a puzzle, his features shifted to amazement, joy, and finally settled on anger. He slapped Derek's hands away from him and took a deep steadying breath trying to control the fury raging through him.

Anger was not what Derek had expected.

"What the hell is wrong with you? You just left without a single word! You abandoned us all here. Abandoned me. We fought together to save Beacon Hills and we won and then you just walked out on us all. I didn't even get a goodbye. The pack and I went through hell to save this place and then in the end when we thought all that was left was to celebrate our victory we suddenly lost you. I get it. Beacon Hills has some bad memories for you. But it has bad memories for all of us and we didn't run away from it. We supported each other. I needed your support. This stupid fucking darkness that I can't seem to shake would have been a hell of a lot easier to deal with if you were here to help. I hardly sleep, I barely eat, I practically moved into this stupid loft because being where you used to be was the closest to comfort I could get. Without you I just kept wishing I had stayed dead!"

Derek froze. Stiles did too and his eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. When Derek spoke, his voice was low and had the distinct feel of being forcibly calm. "Stayed dead? When exactly did you die?"

Stiles gulped. His hand scratched absently at an itch on his arm and he tried to pull off a casual tone as he replied, "Yeah. Didn't Scott mention that part after you guys fought Deucalion and Ms. Blake? We all had to kill ourselves to find our parents. Scott, Allison and I."

It was hard to miss the way Derek's hands clenched and his eyes darkened. "You killed yourself." He repeated. With a still steady voice he continued, "What the hell were you thinking?"

Stiles' words came out fast and he gestured wildly with his arms as he spoke, "Well Deaton said it would help us find our parents and he told us we would most likely live through it and the worst side effect was just this pesky darkness around our hearts and also making Beacon Hills an actual Beacon for things and really it wasn't that bad it was just us drowning and we all lived and…"

He stopped talking the instant he noticed Derek moving closer. The broken look on Derek's face was a shock to Stiles. "Stiles," his voice was hoarse and pleading, "please don't ever do anything like that again. If I had known I… Well I probably couldn't have stopped you but I could have been there for you. I could have helped you." Derek pulled Stiles to him in a crushing hug and he murmured into Stiles' hair, "I am so sorry that I left you alone to deal with this. I should never have left. You're right, I ran away when you needed me."

Stiles returned the embrace whole heartedly and answered, "You didn't know. It's okay. Just promise me you won't ever leave without saying goodbye again."

"How about I just promise not to leave at all?"

"That works too."