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.