Stiles and Lydia awkwardly sit at a coffee shop in Beacon Hills the day after the pack’s big win.
“So,” They both start and then Stiles laughs, clearly uncomfortable, “You go first.”
“I’ve been thinking,” Lydia says, slowly and deliberately, “And I think that this, us, just isn’t working.”
Stiles lets out a sigh, “Oh, thank god.”
“You feel it too?” Lydia asks, letting out a breath and relaxing into her chair.
“It’s like kissing my sister,” Stiles says, “No offense.”
“None taken, I completely agree,” Lydia takes a sip of her coffee, “Plus, after seeing you with Derek. Well, it’s just a little obvious that you’re more into him than you were ever into me.”
“I, what? I’m not into Derek! You’re into Parrish!” Stiles word vomits, then lets his head thunk onto the table, “Is it really that obvious?”
“I think the only person who doesn’t see it is Derek,” Lydia smiles, “And I’m not into Parrish, I’m into the idea of getting the hell away from Beacon Hills and finally going to MIT.”
“Good, you deserve better than this shit town,” Stiles says, “We both do.”
“You deserve someone who makes you smile.”
“Look, Lyd, we both know I don’t have a chance in hell with Derek Hale,” Stiles runs his fingers through his hair, “He’s so out of my league I think we’re playing different sports.”
“Don’t sell yourself short,” Lydia tells him, standing up, “And maybe ask him how he feels about all of it.”
“Yeah, right, I’m just going to walk up to Derek and tell him I find his asshole tendencies charming and that I want to kiss his stupid face,” Stiles says and then stops when he sees the look on Lydia’s face, “He’s right behind me isn’t he.”
“I’ll see you around Stiles,” Lydia says, then adds, “Derek.”
“So, you find my asshole tendencies charming huh?” Derek slips into the seat that Lydia vacated.
“Please leave me here to die in shame,” Stiles says into the table.
“But then how would I kiss your stupid face?” Derek says and Stiles looks up to see Derek grinning at him.
He smiles back. There’s a whole new world of possibilities in their smiles.
Stiles can’t shower at his house anymore, not since the sacrifices. Just seeing the tub gives me flash backs to going under the water at Deaton’s, the thought of actually getting into one is enough to send him over the edge into a full on panic attack.
He showers in the locker room now, in the open space where he knows he can’t go under. He knows that it’s not a permanent solution, but for now it works.
After everything with the Nogitsune Stiles stands in the locker room showers for at least an hour. He can’t get the feel of blood off of his hands. He scrubs himself until he’s red, until his skin is tender to the touch, and then he scrubs more.
There were too many places with bad memories attached now, but Stiles gets through them, he has to. He still can’t look at a bathtub without feeling sick to his stomach. That’s where it started for him, that’s how the Nogitsune got in.
So he still showers at school, he avoids talking about his feelings and his struggles because it’s his fault that Allison is dead, that Isaac is gone, that Scott’s a werewolf. It’s all his fault and he knows that, so he stays strong and steady on the outside, if not a bit defiant.
It all works out fine until the school is locked for summer and Derek is missing and Lydia is grieving the death of her best friend so he can’t talk to her, and Scott is off trying to better himself so he can’t bother him.
After a week of sink showers Stiles finally gets an idea and breaks into the loft. Well breaks into is a very loose term, he has a key and he doesn’t think Derek would mind him using his shower.
That plan works well until Derek is back. By then the school is open again, but he knows that Derek can tell he’s been there. There’s no way he doesn’t smell Stiles in the bathroom, on the couch, in the bed.
But Derek doesn’t call him out on it, instead he squeezes Stiles neck and reminds him that his door is always open if he needs to get away. Stiles knows that if anyone would understand how he’s feeling, it would be Derek. He knows that, but he can’t bring himself to tell him anything.
He does go to the loft sometimes, mostly to use Derek’s shower and always when he knows Derek is out. That plan works as well as he other plans, meaning it’s great until it isn’t.
It’s a Sunday and Stiles is stepping out of a hot shower at the loft, he had a bad night, dreams of dead brown eyes and sticking swords into friends had kept him up. He had been alone when he got to the loft, but when he steps out of the bathroom Derek is sitting on the couch reading a book.
“None of this is your fault,” Derek tells him, not looking up from the book, “You didn’t ask to be possessed, you didn’t want to be sacrificed, none of this is on you.”
“Or is it all on me,” Stiles says, toweling his hair dry and looking at Derek, “If I hadn’t dragged Scott into the woods that first night none of this would have happened.”
“By that line of logic this is actually all my fault,” Derek says with a sigh, making Stiles think that Derek really believes that it’s his fault, “The fire never would have happened if it wasn’t for me.”
“We both know the fire would have happened without you,” Stiles says because it’s true.
“And if Scott hadn’t gotten bitten someone else would have,” Derek counters, “It’s not your fault.”
“Maybe,” Stiles says, sitting down next to Derek. It feels like the right time to tell someone why he can’t shower at home so he adds, “I can’t go near a bathtub after being sacrificed.”
“The smell of smoke still makes me sick,” Derek admits and Stiles bumps his shoulder against him. “We’ve all got our damage. You’re not letting yours keep you from living, that’s important.”
“You too,” Stiles tells him, “Maybe we can try to move forward from all of this shit together. It’s easier with someone else helping.”
“Yeah, it is,” Derek says quietly, looking at Stiles with a soft look that he’s only seen a few times before.
And maybe Stiles still can’t take a bath, but with Derek (and a therapists) help he starts taking showers in a bathtub. And maybe Derek can’t watch open flames, but he can smell smoke without throwing up because Stiles helps him open up (and takes him to therapy once a week).
They move forward together. And eventually they’re both well enough emotionally to admit that they love each other. Every day is a journey for them, but they’re on that journey together, that’s what matters.
The first time was when he woke up, the sun streaming in through a crack between the curtains, Derek’s breathing soft and even next to him.
This can’t be real, Stiles thought. This life, this happiness, it can’t be real.
He started panicking. Derek woke up and pulled Stiles against his chest. Together they counted, first Stiles’ fingers, then Derek’s. Derek smiled and shook his head when Stiles told him it was because he couldn’t believe how happy he was.
Sometimes he still needs that reassurance, that after all the shit they’ve gone through, after all the shit he’s done, he gets to be happy. And over time, it even becomes a small gesture, for both him and Derek, to show the other how happy they are. So he counts his fingers when he slides under the covers next to Derek, counts them when they’re watching television, counts them any time he realizes he’s truly, ridiculously happy.
He’s sitting at the kitchen counter, willing the coffee machine to go faster, at seven am on a Sunday morning. It would be terrible if not for Derek’s humming drifting through the house as he makes the bed, and the pitter-patter of small feet racing towards the kitchen.
Lily climbs into his lap, and he leans back to accommodate her.
‘Are we counting?’ she asks, pointing at his hands, lying palms down on the kitchen counter.
‘You want to count together?’ he asks.
Lily nods and bends over his left hand. She press her little pointer finger against his pinkie and says, ‘One.’
When they get to ten, she turns to him with a brilliant smile, presses a kiss against his cheek, and slides off his lap.
‘Love you, daddy!’ she yells, disappearing into the hallway. You’d think it was a small elephant and not a five year-old pounding up the stairs.
‘Love you, too!’ he shouts after her.
The coffee is finally done and he pours himself and Derek cup. As he sets out breakfast, he privately counts his fingers again, a smile on his face.
Mom: *looks over my shoulder to see that I’m reading* I still don’t understand how you can’t help yourself from reading this early in the morning. I understand that books develop the mind, but at 6am?
Me: *shrugging nonchalantly while trying not to look amused at the fact that I am currently reading smut* I mean…
My sister: *eyes me suspiciously*
Me: I guess you could say that I like Lemon with my morning Tea
Mom: *passes the lemon*
Me:*sips tea with immense satisfaction*