“Did you need something?” Derek’s face was a blank slate, unclear of any remorse as Stiles stared at him, caught mid-step. Derek tensed, and Stiles eased back onto his heel, arms limp at his side. Unsure, Stiles gave a heavy swallow, his throat clicking as he struggled to think of the right thing to say.
“Yeah,” nodding, Stiles hoped Derek could understand his implications. They were together, right? He’d thought they were, they way Derek would let Stiles touch him and kiss him—and if Stiles was lucky, sometimes Derek would touch and kiss him right back. That had to mean they were together, at least in some way. It had reached a point where Stiles could come to Derek without being turned away, could seek Derek out when Scott had ignored one too many phone calls.
“Fine.” Derek turned, guiding Stiles towards the house. Stiles didn’t move at first, his mind in turmoil. Did Derek even want him here? Or was he just indifferent? The way he brushed off Stiles’ words with an apathetic comment or action made Stiles start to question whether he really had Derek at all, in an way, or if Stiles was just watching him slip away in a more painful fashion than if he’d never had Derek in the first place.
Stiles pushed those thoughts away, because that’s just how Derek was, right? He couldn’t let his insecurity take over. He had to believe that Derek cared, and that there was more to this than some twisted form of pity and a fear of losing Stiles completely if he were to turn him down.
Instead, he followed Derek into the house and through the halls to the one bedroom that had avoided most of the fire. There was the basic furniture and a bookshelf filled with things that had survived the fire, as well small generator that was set up in the corner, though Derek rarely used it to power his single lamp. Derek turned in the middle of the room, looking expectantly at Stiles until his eyebrow was quirking up high.
Stiles took that as his cue, stepping forward and then, tentatively, bringing his hands up to Derek’s shoulders. Derek stood there, watching Stiles lean in to press their lips together. He reciprocated minimally, light presses and the occasional burst of passion where he would grab onto Stiles and bite down on his lip, but it was mostly agonizingly tame. Stiles’ heart gave an aching thump, and his mind told him all of the reasons why Derek didn’t seem to be enjoying this.
He dashed those thoughts away, pushing Derek towards the bed and climbing into his lap, stroking his hands down Derek’s chest to try and get him at least the tiniest bit turned on. Derek kept up the same halfway-reluctant responses, until Stiles finally pulled away, a frown on his lips and an ache in his chest.
“Are you even enjoying this?” He asked, and Derek stared blankly back at him.
“I never said I didn’t.” Derek said, and Stiles had to bite down a yell of frustration. Trying to wring a straight answer out of Derek was more difficult than climbing out of a bottomless pit with his bare hands.
“That doesn’t mean you like it.”
Derek’s scowl made it’s appearance, his brows pinching together as he watched Stiles slide off of his lap to sit down on the bed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
There weeks ago, Stiles would have been happy to tell him. Except…now Stiles was tired of trying. He was tired of throwing his questions and insecurities at Derek like eggs against a brick wall, getting nothing back but a bunch of broken, messy emotions and absolutely no answers. He was tired, and he was frustrated, and he really didn’t want to argue anymore.
Derek stared at him for a moment longer, before his eyebrows bobbed and he pushed himself to his feet. “Okay,” he said dully. Stiles knew that tone of voice, it was the one where Derek didn’t want to deal with anything, the one where he usually shut down and would retreat inside of his head. Stiles sighed, turning and flopping against the bed.
He heard the shifting of fabric as Derek turned, and the creak of his feet against the wood floor when he started to walk away. Stiles’ chest hurt, it hurt so bad and he didn’t know how to breathe anymore. It was like someone had taken a burning metal clamp, wrapped it around his ribs, and had started to crush everything inside of him slowly and painfully.
Lying on the bed didn’t make it any easier, not when he felt like there was a giant weight on his body and invisible acid on his skin that ate away at his nerves. Pushing himself up, Stiles headed out of the bedroom. If he apologized, Derek was usually more receptive. All he had to do was dole out extra affection and effort and Derek was often amiable to forgetting anything had ever happened.
Derek wasn’t on the base floor, though. Stiles looked through every room that could be entered without breaking the floorboards. He tried the two rooms upstairs, and even the basement, but Derek was gone. Of course he was gone.
Stiles pressed his back against the door to Derek’s bedroom, slipping down and pressing his head into his hands. He hadn’t even tried and he’d still pushed Derek away. Again. For the hundredth time. No matter how much Stiles had tried to stop it, no matter what he did to try and appease Derek, it was useless. Stiles—Stiles had probably pushed too much. He’d wanted too much, asked for twice that, and Derek was running away because Stiles was smothering him.
Stiles bit down on his bottom lip, just because it wouldn’t stop trembling and he was not a child. He wasn’t going to cry because the guy he was completely gone over didn’t want to be with him. He wasn’t—he wasn’t going to mourn Derek because Stiles wasn’t even sure he’d ever really had him in the first place. Derek had never outright said what he’d felt towards Stiles, only half-answers that had let Stiles jump to his own conclusions. Now, Stiles could see he hadn’t been meant to take what he could get. He should have known it was Derek being unable to actually turn Stiles away. The guy was a walking airport of baggage, there was no way he’d be able to turn his back on anyone that he cared about. Stiles knew that he meant something to Derek, but what he should have known that what he was to Derek, was not was Derek was to him.
Stiles exhaled roughly, the sob being punched out of his chest before he could stop it. He tried to suck it back in just as fast, biting down on his lip as hard as he could and holding his breath until nothing left him but a tiny, soft whine of pain. It hurt so much. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t watch Derek grow more and more distant when Stiles was completely and utterly helpless to stop it from happening. It was as bad as watching his mother die, only so much worse because Derek wasn’t dying, and Stiles would be forced to watch him, knowing that they would never be able to go back to what they were.
Stiles dragged a hand down from his head, his fingers curling into the fabric covering his heart and pulling, like he could rip it from his chest and be rid of the pain that didn’t seem to stop. His other hand dragged itself over his eyes, pressing down until it hurt and wishing he could force the tears back inside. He wanted to erase everything, to turn back time and take back all of it.
JFC I love how tumblr’s letting fandom do all these awesome things with mixed media now, where the lines between fanart and fanfic and meta been all smudged and blurred into this awesome new creature.
This fandom is a gift and I love you all.