Sterek AU (part one | part 2): Where Stiles and Derek knew each other before the fire, and when Derek returns seven years later Stiles realizes that Derek never really forgot about him quite at all. [AO3]
Stiles is slouched down in the hospital seat of the waiting room when he first meets Derek, long legs and knobby knees sprawled out in front of him, chin tucked into his neck as his father talks with the doctors in the other room.
He doesn’t even notice Derek come in.
The voice is kind, sounds older than Stiles’ own too-young and cracking voice, and Stiles drags his eyes away from the scuffs in his shoes.
The boy is older than Stiles, a teenager with dark hair and pale green eyes and sharp angles in his face. When he smiles it looks easy, fits his mouth like it’s something so often to appear.
Stiles jolts up in his seat, shoves the back of his hand into his sleep-tinged eyes, red and swollen from crying.
The boy chuckles, crouches down in front of Stiles so that they’re at level height. His eyes are more than just green, kind of yellow but not really, maybe a bit blue if Stiles squints.
“I’m Derek,” he says.
Derek has funny ears.
“What’s your name?” he cocks his head to the side, a soft smile lingering on his mouth.
Stiles sniffs through his nose, chews on his mouth. “Stiles,” he replies.
“Nice to meet you, Stiles.”
He offers Stiles a stick of gum. “Want one?”
Derek has big hands, teenager hands, not at all like Stiles’ eight-year-old hands, hands that are always twitching by his sides and touching things that shouldn’t be touched.
“I’m not allowed to have sweets,” Stiles blurts out.
Derek’s mouth tugs in amusement. He says, “I won’t tell, if…”
Stiles snatches the candy from Derek’s hand, twists his neck around with wide eyes to make sure that no one is looking. He stuffs the gum in his mouth and watches as Derek rises to his feet.
“I’ll see you around, maybe?” Derek says, playfully rubs a hand over Stiles’ buzz cut. “My cousin’s in the hospital.” He sounds sad, despite the casual way in which he holds himself.
Stiles doesn’t want to talk about his mom.
“Oh, by the way,” Derek turns by the doorway, hand splayed loosely against the frame as he peers over his shoulder at Stiles. “That’s sugar free gum.”
The Derek that is standing in the woods is nothing like the Derek that Stiles remembers him to be. He’s wearing a leather jacket with sleeves that hang around his fingers; his boots stomp heavily upon the forest floor when he approaches Scott and Stiles.
“This is private property,” he tells them, in a voice that Stiles never remembers coming from those lips. He stares at Derek in some gaping form of horror and shock, as Derek stares back with stony eyes and a mouth set firm.
It’s all Stiles can do to croak out some stuttered apology, rub a hand anxiously over his scalp and duck his face away, heart pounding in his lungs and making his hand shake in his pocket.
Scott stuffs his inhaler into his jacket as Derek’s feet crunch down leaves and branches that snap in the echoing expanse of the quiet forest.
Stiles can’t even watch his retreating form.
“That’s Derek Hale,” he breathes out. And the words spoken aloud makes everything come crashing down around him, the smell of hospital halls and late night homework and Derek’s patient voice guiding him through too-hard mathematical questions, seven times six is forty-two.
The stick of spearmint gum in Stiles’ pocket burns like an imprint against his palm.
Scott gets bitten by a werewolf.
Turns out that Derek is one too.
It’s all rather surreal for a boy whose biggest problem of the day was trying to find his Adderall bottle lost amongst the rolled up mess of socks in the top drawer of his bureau.
The seats in the visitor lounge had lumpy cushions, they made Stiles squirm. Derek never seemed to mind.
“Seven times six is forty-two,” Derek said, pointing at question number four as he leaned over Stiles’ shoulder, hands braced on the back of Stiles’ chair. His breath felt warm against Stiles’ ear.
“Oh, right.” Stiles flipped his pencil in his hand and scrubbed off the incorrect 36 scrawled in the answer box.
The hospital floor was always so quiet, empty halls busied by only the occasional nurse checking in on patients. Heart monitors would keep time, beeping away the minutes to midnight.
“Do you think my dad might get off early tonight?” Stiles asked, hated how he always sounded so young, wished that he could have strong set eyes like Derek.
“We’ll see,” is what Derek would say. “Did you take your Adderall?”
Stiles nodded. He rarely forgot to take it with Derek around.
Derek’s family had all gone home but Derek liked to stay past visiting hours, even though he wasn’t allowed inside the patient’s room. He said it made his cousin feel better to know that Derek was around, even though she couldn’t see him directly. Instead he’d sit around with Stiles and sometimes do his homework, and Stiles would stare wide-eyed at the equations on Derek’s tenth grade homework.
Stiles had a habit of chewing the inside of his cheek when he was unsure of things, made the wet skin tender-sore and sensitive when he tongued at it uneasily.
“I hope your cousin gets better soon,” Stiles offered, unsure and quiet because maybe hope was such a childish thing and maybe high schoolers found that kind of thing stupid.
But Derek nodded instead, gave Stiles a small smile, trying to be reassuring, perhaps.
“I hope your mom does too.”
He had set his elbow on the table beside Stiles’ tiny arm, leaned in closer to gently press his shoulder against Stiles’. He did that sometimes, when he knew that Stiles was just thrumming with nerves beneath the surface of his skin. Derek was a tactile person, liked to touch, needed to touch, and Stiles accepted it gratefully. So few people touched him those days.
Stiles’ mom died three nights later. Stiles got put into therapy, for emotional issues and his consistent onslaught of panic attacks that left him gasping and shaking full bodily, in class, on the bathroom floor, in the locker rooms.
Derek started dating a girl he wouldn’t talk about and Stiles started seeing Derek less and less. His grades dropped in math class and the teachers excused it for the loss of his mom, the change of dosage in his medication.
Nine months later someone burned down the Hale house, along with Derek’s mom and dad and little sister. Stiles overheard grandparents and cousins mentioned as well when his father talked in low tones at the station.
Laura packed up the last of her and Derek’s remains and took Derek away from Beacon Hills.
Stiles failed math class that year.
Danny’s boyfriend breaks up with him on Saturday, so Jackson makes it an official “decree” of some sort that the team has to take Danny out for a night. He grips Scott’s collar and hisses into his face that co-captains are required to show and somehow that includes Stiles being roped along as well.
Scott elbows Stiles in the ribs five times on the ride there and insists that Stiles will like it, that maybe he’ll meet someone and normally Stiles would love the very notion of that, would be a jitter of tangled nervous, all bunched with excitement. But he can’t stop thinking about Derek standing in the woods, eyes guarded and closed off, wonders what happened to the fifteen-year-old boy who used to wrestle with him in the mud and carry Stiles on his back.
“Where do you think he’s living now?” Stiles says, voice soft and distant as he watches the blurred glow of streetlights out the window by his shoulder.
Scott wrinkles his brows. “Where who’s living?”
Danny and Jackson disappear the moment they enter the club. Stiles somehow finds himself surrounded by a harem of drag queens when Scott is bought a drink at the bar, and Stiles is starting to question his life choices when a familiar voice breaks through the coos licking at his ears.
“Seems like you’ve turned into quite the babe magnet.” Derek says. Derek, who’s still wearing that same leather jacket despite the insane sauna temperatures of the club and Stiles isn’t even going to question that one, doesn’t have the brain capability.
Because Derek is wearing that shit-eating grin that Stiles hasn’t seen in nearly seven years and he’s having a hard time managing to even breathe at the sight of it.
“Oh you’re hilarious, asshole.” Stiles drawls, thankful that his voice doesn’t wobble, knows that he doesn’t have to raise his voice for Derek to hear.
Derek’s lips pull back and Stiles has to grip the counter digging into his hip. Because that is a real smile now and Stiles has never seen it on this Derek, has never seen it surrounded by dark stubble and sharp cheekbones and Stiles misses him suddenly, so much he has to swallow just to make sure the words don’t tumble from his lips.
Derek’s hand is on Stiles’ wrist then, firm and steady, fingers thicker than Stiles remembers, pulling Stiles through sweat slick bodies that thrum and pulse around him in the blue white lights of the club.
Derek crowds himself into Stiles’ space once he’s led them where he wants, right amongst the center of the dance floor where Stiles is bumped up on all sides. Derek’s eyes flicker in amusement and he loops his arm over Stiles’ shoulder, pulls him in so that their hips are flush against one another, strong thighs grinding against Stiles’ gangly legs. Stiles makes a small lost noise in the back of his throat and Derek’s eyes flash blue before going dark. And Stiles has to open his mouth to breathe, heart thudding wildly.
“Dance with me, Stiles?” Derek asks, voice husky with something that Stiles doesn’t even understand, and curls his hand against the back of Stiles’ neck, heavy and warm like a brand. He’s all suffocating heat that Stiles can taste upon his tongue and in the back of his throat, and Stiles clutches onto Derek’s jacket, bitten-down fingernails digging into the supple leather of Derek’s arm.
It seems a little late for request. But Stiles nods anyway, mouth open in a way that makes him feel eight-years old again, pupils blown wide as he stares into Derek’s face.
“You’re taller,” Derek murmurs.
Stiles wants to say, You too, wants to say I didn’t think you’d remember me and I’ve never done this before but Derek just presses their foreheads together, skin damp with sweat, mingling together and Stiles wonders if Derek’s sweat tastes like salt, if it’s changed by werewolf blood at all.
Stiles has never danced with anyone before.
He wonders if everyone’s bodies fit together so well, if it always feels this good, if it always feels like you’re being swallowed up by a throbbing beautiful ache.
Derek attends every one of Stiles’ lacrosse games and takes Stiles out for milkshakes afterwards and kisses Stiles for the first time in the front seat of his Camaro after Stiles scores the winning goal of the game. It’s a soft kiss, but it makes Stiles’ stomach flutter and his heart swell in his throat, especially when Derek pulls away, only to lean back in and suck open-mouthed at the hinge of Stiles’ jaw, like he can’t help it, like it’s killing him to stop touching for even a moment.
Stiles keeps smiling into Derek’s kisses, cheeks flushed red and it’s almost impossible to breathe in the small confines of the car, it’s so much better than anything Stiles could have imagined, so much better than movies or books or Scott’s dreamy rambles of being with Allison, especially when Derek chuckles each time Stiles has to pull away and hide a grin behind his hand. Then Derek slides his hand up Stiles’ thigh and Stiles makes a small helpless whine at that. But it’s okay, because Derek gets it, shushes reassuringly into his mouth, we don’t have to do anything, Stiles, and lets Stiles kiss along his jaw instead.
They don’t talk about the fire, or Derek’s Uncle Peter who has been in a hospice for the past seven years. They don’t talk about Stiles’ mom but Stiles tells Derek that his dad doesn’t drink like he used to, that Stiles has been making sure that his dad is eating healthy and what a chore that is at times.
They talk about lacrosse and baseball. They talk about movies and Stiles’ choice of shirts and they talk about the diner food over on Henry Street and the color of paint swatches that Derek is considering for the rooms of the Hale House while it’s being renovated.
Sometimes they don’t talk at all. Sometimes Derek’s eyes fall heavy lidded and dull, and Stiles curls himself around Derek, chest to his broad shoulders and draws his knees up on either side of Derek’s waist, leans his head against Derek’s back, just listens to him breathe.
Stiles asks Derek out three weeks after that first meeting in the woods.
Derek’s mouth quirks at the corner and Stiles flushes stupidly.
“Officially,” he says, swallows hard and somehow doesn’t pass out from the too-fast rabbit chase of his heartbeat.
Derek presses his mouth against Stiles’, hand a gentle weight against the tilted back column of Stiles’ throat.
“Was official a long time ago,” he mumbles into the wet heat of Stiles’ plush mouth.
Stiles doesn’t talk about his mom. Until one day he does.
His face is bruised from a fight that he had with Jackson in the locker room at school. His mother’s anniversary is on Thursday and it’s Tuesday and Stiles can’t seem to hold himself together, fraying apart like an old sweater, threads broken and brittle and full of empty holes.
Derek presses a warm compress against the leaking bruise by Stiles’ eye, where the skin is puffy and hot and throbbing with blood.
“I miss my mom,” Stiles rasps, with lips bitten red and shiny.
Derek rests his thumb against Stiles’ cheekbone, keeps it there as he dabs carefully at a cut above Stiles’ right eyebrow.
“The pain never really goes away, does it.”
Derek’s eyes shift away, and Stiles wonders how Derek manages to wake up every morning, in a house that’s full of the ghosts of his own family.
Stiles thinks that maybe Derek understands more than anyone, more than any of those therapists that Stiles’ dad made him used to see.
An alpha comes for Derek.
And Stiles spends seven minutes staring down at the patch of blood soaked in the carpet of Derek’s front room, watches as the black-red stain blooms and eats away at the soft cream fibers.
That’s how Scott finds him, down on his knees and scrubbing furiously at the blood that stains his fingers and spreads up his wrist. Because he and Derek had spent hours trying to find the right carpet and Derek had wanted a darker color, maybe hunter green, so that stains wouldn’t show but Stiles had insisted on the cream and now he can’t get the blood out, Derek’s going to say I told you so and Stiles has to make it better.
“Stiles,” Scott says quietly, as Stiles shakes his head angrily, a wet horrible noise breaking from his throat when Scott tries to coax him away.
“We’ll find him,” Scott promises. And Stiles wants to believe him, he does, clings to Scott’s shoulders and clamps his teeth shut to keep from screaming.
Scott is able convince Allison to plead with her father to help, although it takes hours for Chris to agree to anything. And Stiles throws up in the bushes of Allison’s house while Scott and Chris argue over whether or not Chris should kill the alpha or let Derek do it.
Stiles wretches stomach acid because he hasn’t eaten in the three days that Derek’s gone missing and stopped answering Stiles’ texts and Stiles can barely see the leaves he’s coughing into, his vision one hot blur of tears.
Allison’s hands are on his shoulders, soft and gentle for all the strength that they posses.
“It’s going to be alright,” she soothes against his ear. “My dad’s going to help - we’re going to get Derek back.”
Stiles wipes the back of his hand against his mouth, licks at his lips. His tears taste like salt.
Derek’s sweat also tastes like salt, when it pools in the hollow of his throat, when Stiles crawls into his lap and licks at the moisture on his skin.
“He’s human,” Stiles rasps. “Not like an animal.” not at all, not animal, human.
Stiles will never forget the way the alpha had screamed, the way a sliced neck causes blood to gurgle in one’s throat and that awful sound of a choked scream sputtering into silence.
He’ll never forget the way Derek’s body felt like a heavy weight in his arms when Derek stumbled to his knees and Stiles caught him, how Derek pressed his blood slick face against Stiles’ neck and just breathed.
“I’m going to miss your blue eyes,” Stiles murmurs, brushing the hair away from Derek’s forehead.
Derek shudders out a small laugh, his body lax upon the couch cushions, still healing from the fight. The fight he won, not alone, with help, not alone anymore.
“Don’t like it?” He asks, eyes passing over Stiles’ face, soft and fond.
Stiles shakes his head, curls his body around Derek’s on the sofa, pressing in as close as he can without hurting Derek.
“I do,” he says, fingers splaying carefully, hesitantly, over Derek’s chest. “I like everything about you.”