Stiles Stilinski was alone. It was not a romantic solitude like in some cheap young adult novel; it was suffocating. As the adrenaline drained from his system his chest was left hollow, and his shoulders curled to cocoon him. He was alone on a rooftop with no more options- no more friends or family. He had just been abandoned by his last remaining anchor. Everything- everyone else who had kept him grounded, who had helped him? Gone.
His mother? Gone. His father? Gone. His best friend? Gone. He heard the squealing tires of Isaac and the Argents driving off. Even Derek was out of commission. Though the ever present voice of encouragement still echoed in his head- it's going to be okay; it's always at least okay- he gave himself into despair- just for a moment. After everything, Stiles figured he had earned this one moment of weakness. After werewolves and drachma and murder and kanimas and alphas and every other shitty thing that's happened in the last few years, he had earned a few minutes of self pity and wallowing.
Stiles sunk to the ground, perched on his folded knees and balanced precariously on the balls of his feet. He took a deep breath and clasped his hands tight behind his neck, ducking his head to rest his chin on his chest. His vision funneled and the tell-tale signs of a panic attack inched closer.
"What am I gonna do now?"
The full weight of his situation exploded in his head, and he fell backwards, landing hard on his backside. Where was he going to go now that his dad was gone? He couldn't go to Mrs. McCall. He didn't have any other family in the area. No one else at school would house him. Isaac would go live with Derek, Allison still had her father, Lydia sure as hell wouldn't offer him a bed- he had never really stopped to contemplate how much he relied on the McCalls. Scott's house had been a second home to him for years now, and in less than a week he'd lost both of his homes, his families.
His breathing became shallow and quick. A thick rubber band of pressure constricted his chest. He wondered how long it would take for Child Services to realize that his father was gone. Perhaps he could slip under the radar for a few weeks. With all of the murders and the storm evacuations, an obnoxious teenage orphan would be easy to overlook.
Orphan. He was going to be an orphan. The realization shoved his last remaining bit of calm away.
He had cried so much recently. He was pretty sure that his man-card had been officially revoked, but telling himself that didn't stop more tears from coming, didn't loosen the fierce grip crushing his lungs. He thought about having to attend another funeral- this time without the comforting weight of his father's arm wrapped around him. He thought about not having a parent for the rest of his life, about having to dress up to watch his father be covered in dirt, and he cried.
He cried in the way he'd been denying himself this whole time. Fat tears dripped off his chin, and his nose clogged with snot. He gasped and hiccuped and shook; if his breathing was shoddy before, it was ten times worse with a stuffed nose and noisy sobs. Stiles propped his arms on his bent knees and pressed his damp face into his flannel sleeves, trying to focus on his breathing like he'd been taught. He could feel his pulse, hot and mean in his temple.
At the end of this whole mess, Stiles could see nothing but death. Mrs. McCall and his father would be found tied to trees, strangled with slashed throats. Scott would join the alpha pack or die fighting against them. Derek was probably too stubborn to die, but the whole pack would fall apart.
"What am I gonna do now?" He groaned, voiced muffled by his shit and broken by his hiccoughing breath.
A large warm hand landed heavily on his shoulder causing him to startle violently. He jerked forward, already prepared for another fight, another desperate scramble to escape by the tips of his abnormally thick eyelashes. The cause of his panic, standing as stoically as ever, was Derek Hale. The werewolf looked a little haggard, but not any more-so than normal.
"You're going to get up off this filthy roof, for one thing." Derek reached a hand down to Stiles slowly, as if the gangly teen was an overgrown and skittish rabbit.
It took him a moment for his pulse to even out, adrenaline spiking again at Derek's sudden appearance. He scrubbed his face on the shoulder of his shirt before taking the wolf's offered hand. The sudden shock had helped distract him from his panic; his breath still came too fast, too shallow, but it was better.
"Jesus, Derek. Not all of us have crazy voodoo hearing. Maybe a polite cough or even some casual shoe scuffing next time?"
Derek hoisted Stiles up with little effort. He even made an attempt to smile at Stile's poor endeavor to lighten the mood. Stiles must have looked pretty pathetic if even the Sourwolf was trying to humor him.
"Thanks," Stiles brushed his jeans off to little effect.
"You okay?" The man-wolf didn't look overly uncomfortable in the wake of what Stile's assumed was far too emotional a scene for the emotionally stunted alpha. He looked only slightly more annoyed than average, but that could easily be due to the fact that the Alpha Pack had gotten away... again. Stiles merely nodded in response to the inquiry, trying to maintain what little dignity he had left. His knees felt fragile and weak beneath him, but Derek kept a hand on his back to steady him.
The werewolf didn't try to fill the heavy silence with empty promises of how it would end alright, of how everything would work out. They both knew this wasn't a fairy tale. Real people had gotten caught in the crossfire and real people were going to get hurt. What Stiles wouldn't give for a fairy godmother.
Stiles grew more tired as every last tendril of energy was sucked into the empty air. He was suddenly too exhausted for anger or sadness. He just needed to sleep.
"Well, good talk, Derek. Can't wait for the next man-to-wolf bonding session. In the mean time, I really need to find a deep hole to sleep in for the next ten years." Stiles moved away from the warm hand at his back, swaying ever so slightly on his feet. When was the last time he'd slept the whole night through? How long had it been since he'd eaten more than a handful of questionable trail mix from the recesses of his back pack? He hadn't even had the time or desire for any self-lovin' recently. What kind of teenager couldn't even find the time to jerk off?
His life was turning into some supernatural version of a pathetic made for TV movie. And not even the good kind with a cheesy but satisfying ending. His Lifetime movie was gonna be some cautionary tale about lonely teenagers, bad boys in leather jackets, and goddamned werewolves.
Stiles patted his pockets, checking to see if he still had his keys and his phone. If he was lucky, he'd be able to stay at home for a few weeks before anyone realized that he was a minor living alone. He'd have at least that long to come up with some sort of contingency plan. Maybe he could pay someone to pose as a distant relative. Hell, maybe he could actually get in contact with a distant relative. Uncle Bobby might not be unbearable...
"Stiles," Derek's voice startled the teen from his reverie, "where are you going?"
"I'm going home, Derek. You know, 'where the heart is'? Four walls, a shower, a bed. There's nothing else I can do right now, so I'm going to sleep and pretend that I didn't just become some twisted version of Harry Potter."
Derek quirked an eyebrow, not catching the reference.
"Harry Potter? Looses his parents, gets dragged into a supernatural fight between good and evil?" Derek's expression didn't change, "Whatever, man. You're hopeless." Stiles turned away only to be interrupted by a growling voice.
"You're coming back with me. Isaac should be there with the Argents by now. We'll figure out what we're going to do next."
"As novel as the concept might be to you, I do have my own free will. And I'm going home. I don't need your permission or condescension."
"Stiles, come on. You need-"
"No, Derek." Stiles snapped, spinning back to face the alpha, "You have no idea what I need or want. When was the last time that you considered how all of this," he gestured wildly around himself, "affects me- the lowly human running around with a group of trouble-making werewolves? I'm not used to this madness. I can't keep up with you guys, physically or emotionally. I can't shoot like Alison, I can't plan like Lydia, I can't fight like Isaac or Scott or you. I just-" all the sadness and anxiety and feelings of uselessness which had ebbed since Derek's arrival resurfaced. The panic attack which had crept to the periphery of his awareness was back full-force.
In the small part of his mind not consumed by sudden violent resurgence of the attack, Stiles lamented that it was Derek of all people that was bearing witness to his weakness. While the panic attacks had been common after the death of his mother, he had learned to manage them with therapy and medication and they had slowly gone away as he got older. The feeling of helplessness and fear were almost welcome in their familiarity- except they totally weren't welcome. Ever.
There were no tears this time, but Stiles felt as if his lungs were held closed with velcro, and he just couldn't get enough air. His vision tunneled and his entire world shrank down to the grimy rooftop beneath his feet and the all-consuming terror that he was, and forever would be, alone. He squished his eyes shut, blindly reaching a hand out, trying to guide himself to the ground by using the wall. Instead of cool brick, Stiles felt two warm, calloused hands take his and gently lower him down. The teen was in too deep to care that they were Derek's hands.
"I j-just c-can't," he gasped, clenching his fists against the rough cement beneath him, "... I can't do this."
There was no response from Derek, not that Stiles had really expected one. He assumed that the broody man had finally left, deciding that the ragged Stilinski wasn't worth the trouble. And Stiles really couldn't blame him. Who would want to deal with a whiney almost-adult who can't even figure out to breath properly? He resolved to working through the attack like he had always done- by himself.
Just as he was running through the breathing exercises and calming techniques that he had long buried in his mind, a warm body plopped next to him. An arm reached across his shoulders and pulled him close. The chill that Stiles hadn't known he was suffering from was beaten back by the living radiator that was Derek Hale.
He was pulled close enough that the man's shoulder became prime real-estate for a headrest. "Fuck it," Stiles thought and he nudged his head into the warm spot between the corner of Derek's jaw and his ridiculously toned shoulder. Stiles was big enough to accept a man-cuddle when it was offered and so desperately needed. He closed his eyes and focused on syncing his breathing to the slow up and down of Derek's chest. After a moment, the werewolf turned his head and tucked Stiles closer to his chest, placing his chin atop the teen's head. Stiles wrapped himself around Derek, his arms inching around the man's waist before resting on his ridiculously toned back.
They stayed linked together until Stiles could match the rise and fall of Derek's deep and steady breathing, and even then, they only shifted so Stiles was not folded so closely into Derek. Neither said anything for quite a few moments until Derek, amazingly, broke the silence first.
"I don't want to leave you alone when we don't know what the Alpha Pack is up to. I especially don't want to leave you completely defenseless without even the Sheriff to back you up. But you're right. I can't control you, and I can't make you come back with me. But never think that you aren't a very important member of this pack. You might not be a wolf, or a hunter, or a... whatever the hell Lydia is, but you're vital to keeping us all together and safe."
There was another brief pause, "Well bless my stars, Derek Hale. I think that might be the most I've ever heard you say." His voice was soft, worn by exhaustion, but Stiles never missed a chance to show off his amazing wit. He could almost hear the man beside him rolling his eyes.
"Yeah," the alpha shifted to his feet, gently tugging the high schooler up with him, "As cheesy as it sounds, Stiles, you've got to believe that everything is going to be okay. That's the only way to make sure that you keep fighting. Hope."
Stiles nodded, passing up on the opportunity to ruin the moment with sass. He stretched his joints and looked across the horizon, trying to make himself believe that this wasn't the end. He was still too emotionally drained for his usual enthusiasm, but a flicker of belief took hold inside him.
He spun around to face Derek, a small but honest grin curving his lips. "Let's go get some take-out, enough for everyone." It was his way of acquiescing to Derek's invitation to stay with him. He slung an arm around the man's waist, marching them towards the exit, "We've got some work to do."
Derek's arm draped around his shoulders as they walked. They'd figure this out. And, if all else failed- he glanced up to where Derek was gazing down at him, eyes soft in a way Stiles hadn't seen before- at least he wasn't alone.