The Right State of Mind

Most of my stories start like this, as semi-legible scribbles:

derek

Sometimes those scribbles end up scrawled on my whiteboard, sometimes they land on post-it notes that then drown among their brethren.

The kernel of this story has been hanging out on my office wall since last fall. This week, for some reason, I just sat down and wrote the damn thing in two days.

My writing process, illustrated. My brain’s either a crock pot or a flash fryer. Pretty much no in-between.

Anyway! On to some fluffy amnesia fic!

After an unfortunate encounter with a blow to the head, Derek has no clue who he is. The one thing he can’t forget, however, is that he’s dating Stiles. And, well, Stiles can’t bring himself to correct the record, even when he really, really should.

 

When I open my eyes, all I can see is the sky.

It’s a deep blue that’s fading, like the sun is just setting, and that’s as far as I get before I realize: holy shit, do I hurt. My whole body aches, from my ankles to my earlobes, like I took a swan dive off the Eiffel Tower straight into concrete.

Except I can smell clover. And freshly cut grass. And I’m pretty sure I’m clutching at leaves.

I start to sit up but my head rings like a bad bell tower and fuck, oh fuck, does it hurt. I slam my eyes shut and try not to throw up. Try.

“Hey,” somebody says near my boots, breathless. “Dude. Be still. Take it easy.”

I don’t recognize the voice, but maybe that’s just the blood in my ears. It sounds like a goddamn ocean inside my head. I can’t get a thought in edgewise.

“Hey,” the voice says again, more urgent this time. “Derek, um. Talk to me, man. Are you dead?”

“Urgh,” I mumble from behind the safety of my eyes. “Who’s Derek?”

“Uh oh,” the voice says, high-pitched and panicked, and then, thank the gods: I pass out.

****

“Wait wait wait,” I say for the five hundredth time. “Seriously. Come on! Werewolves can’t get amnesia! Can they?”

Scott shakes his head. Doesn’t bother to quit his pacing. Or to stop chewing on his nails, which frankly, I find really disturbing. Who knows where those things have been? “I told you, Stiles,” he says, pissy. “I don’t know. There’s not, like, a handbook on this stuff.”

I throw my phone at his head, chuck it from clear across the loft. “Well, then. Call Deaton again.”

He snaps up a hand and snags it without turning around. Gives this big melodrama-y sigh. “He’s still out of the country. That hasn’t changed in the last twenty minutes, dude.”

I bounce off Derek’s frankly fucking sad couch and start doing circles around the room, big loops that move me counterclockwise to Scott. It’s dark, like it damn well always is here, the light by the window battling the shadows alone.

God. I can’t sit still anymore. I can’t stand that Derek’s dumb ass is passed out not ten feet away, pretty much mostly on his bed, not moving, which freaks me out because I saw on Grey’s Anatomy once that you’re not supposed to let somebody with a concussion go beddie-bye without a serious risk of them dying. Or developing lupus. Wait. Maybe that was on House.

Anyway, it took half the night to drag Derek all the way back here from that stupid field out near the interstate. I’m still not totally clear on what happened—one second, he was going all super-wolf on some tree sprite, clawing at its throat as it lifted him through air, framed by the sunset, and the next: boom! Quick awful plummet and one wolf out cold on the ground.

It looked like it fucking hurt.

Scott chased the damn thing into the forest, drug it out of its hidey-hole and slice slice squash, sayanora. Me, I beat feet to Derek, to check on him, right, and what the hell do I get in return? A big blank fucking stare.

And then he passed out again. Which was awesome.

Nope. I can’t handle it. This wait-and-see’s gone on long enough.

In three steps, I’m at the bed; in one more, I’ve got a knee on the mattress, bend over, open hand ready to strike.

“Wait!” Scott yelps. “Stiles! Don’t!”

I slap Derek’s face, hard, like you see in the movies. Like I’m some hardened black-and-white detective in an awesome fedora and he’s some hysterical dame. I’m picturing him in a dress, is all, those hairy arms peeking out of pink lace—it’s my way of dealing with stress, ok?—which is why I’m so inappropriately laughing when Derek opens his eyes.

“What the—?” he gasps, his hands flying up to my waist. Um. “Who are you?”

Sometimes, I admit, I forget how devastatingly, brain-meltingly handsome Derek is when he’s not yelling at me or busy murdering something. Neither of which is happening now, so. And I am kind of bent over him and he is 95% in his bed, and he is sort of looking right at me, all smoky, confused gorgeous wolf whose fingers are very definitely tucked into my belt and I can admit it: I’m totally staring.

“Dude,” Scott says over my head. “That actually worked?”

I vault straight up and Derek’s hands fall away and I am 100% disappointed.

Scott squints down at Derek and sniffs. “Derek? You ok?”

Derek blinks at us, his eyes glassy and dark. “I’m sort of ok. I guess. But—I don’t actually, um.” He blushes—which holy shit, oh my god: so fucking cute under his beard—and shakes his head, really ginger. “I don’t seem to know who I am. Or, uh. Who you are.” He tips his chin and looks right at me again. Gives me this shy little smile. “Either of you guys. Though I’m pretty sure that I should. And I guess—my name is Derek?”

Scott’s mouth is hanging open. Mine, for the record, is not.

“Fuck,” Scott says finally. “I’m calling Deaton again.”

He stomps off towards the windows, jabbing at my phone, and I mean to move away, I do, try to be useful or something, but I get distracted when Derek taps me on the knee.

“What’s your name?” he asks, I swear to god, in the sweetest, coy kind of way, his fingers still tasting my jeans.

I clear my throat and aim for my inner Daniel Craig. “Stiles,” I say. “Stiles Stilinski.”

He grins up at me from his semi-hot sprawl on the bed. “Stiles,” he says, turning the word on his tongue. “Huh. You’d think I’d remember that.”

“Um,” I say, fucking master word chef that I am.

He stretches, careful, like he’s checking to see that everything’s still attached. “Mmmmm,” he says, big kitty cat yawn. “Stiles. I like your bed.”

****

The guy—Stiles—he turns the color of eggplant.

“Mine?” he squeaks. “No, dude. No way. This is your bed. I mean, your house. Your bat-lofty thing. Yours. What you’re lying on? Is very not mine.”

I close my eyes and risk it, sitting up. My head still feels like molasses stuck in concrete but it’s so worth it to get closer to my boyfriend. Stiles. That’s what he has to be, right? I’m sure of it, the way he looks at me. The way my pulse jumps when he talks.

The way he looked so at ease on my bed.

My shoulder bumps his hip and he wobbles, adorably startled, his eyes dropping right to my mouth.

In a flash, the other guy’s standing there, looking nine kinds of annoyed. He shoves something—ah, a phone—in Stiles’ direction, all the while glaring at me.

“I left a message,” he growls, arms crossed like we’re going to fight. Wait. Does he have more hair than before? I could have sworn—

Stiles shakes his head. Stays at my side. “Well. You tried, man. Maybe he’ll call us back. I’m pretty sure they have le telephony in Can-a-da.”

The other guy throws up his hands, and wow, he’s got some serious nails—more like claws—but he whines like a petulant child. “Ok. Fine. Sure. I’m just—I’m going crazy in here. I’m gonna go take a walk. Maybe down to the hospital. Talk to my mom.” He flicks his (uh, yellow?) eyes at me with a look that’s straight out of Thriller. “You’re not dead, are you, Derek?”

“Um,” I say, because the guy’s Lon Cheney vibe is getting unsettling. “No.”

“Great,” franken-kid huffs. “Try to keep it that way.”

He grabs Stiles—who doesn’t seemed alarmed by the sudden influx of hair and teeth on his friend, which means maybe I shouldn’t be either?—and drags him to the door, grunting away the whole time.

The door. Which reminds me.

So this, Stiles said, is my place.

It’s dark in here. I have to kind of squint through the gloom. Huh. Ok.

I don’t see any books, which seems strange. I’m not sure why. No art on the unfinished walls. Fair enough; maybe that’s not my thing. But there are no pictures, either; no family photos, I mean. My place is a blank slate. No sign of who this Derek guy—me—might really be.

There’s a depressing modern couch across the room. Sure. A huge table by the gigantic industrial windows. All right, that’s kind of cool. There’s this bed—more like a mattress and box springs, it looks like, sans headboard or frame. Wait—

I turn my head around the space, just to be sure.

Is that it?

There’s a bang as Stiles shoots the frankly enormous bolt on the door and where the hell am I living, exactly?

“Stiles,” I say, as loud as I can stand. “Where’s the rest of my furniture?”

His eyebrows do a couple of jumping jacks, which I find oddly endearing. “Your, uh. Your what?”

I sweep an arm at my room de neo depressing. “My, you know. Furniture. An armchair. Some bookcases.” I’m starting to panic. “And why aren’t there any lamps in here? Is there an overhead fixture? Where are the end tables? Or even a damn ottoman?” It looks like a movie set, is what I realize; an industrial space where the henchmen tends to get whacked. Oh shit. “Oh my god, Stiles. Am I on the run from somebody? Am I in the mob?”

Stiles lopes over, fighting a smile, and damn, this boy is gorgeous. “No, man,” he says, earnest. “You’re not in the mob. You just”—he leans against a pillar catty-corner to the bed—”you like the aesthetic life, I guess.”

“Really,” I say, letting the bullshit be unspoken.

He laughs, honest to god chortles, and wow, why aren’t we making out? “What can I say? You’ve never mentioned it before, uh. Wanting an armchair. Or any sort of domestic accoutrements. I mean, last year, dude, you were living in a freaking subway car.”

My brain does an unhappy square dance, because seriously, that makes even less sense than the mob thing. I can’t even picture it. “I don’t—” I stammer. “What?”

I lie back down. It seems the sanest measure.

“Ok,” Stiles says, sheepish, “I know that sounded kinda bad, but really, it was more like a warehouse with the subway car, like, inside it, and—”

“Stop,” I say, shoving my eyes under my hands. “Please. Seriously. I don’t want to know.”

The bed dips as he settles at the edge, just barely, like a bird with one wing out the door. “Sorry. I’m sorry, Derek.”

We sit there for a minute, in a silence that’s easy, despite the strangeness of the circumstances, and yeah, we are so dating.

I reach in my head for any memory of a specific moment with Stiles—when we started dating or when we first fucked or the first time I said I love you—and there’s nothing. A big, sickening gorge of nada inside my skull. It’s sort of terrifying.

But when I open my eyes, drop my hands from my face and look at him, really look

I can’t remember the specifics, sure. How we met or how he likes to be kissed or all the ways that he makes me smile. But I know how I feel when he’s with me, and it must be strong, whatever we have together, if even head trauma can’t wipe it away.

God. I wonder if I’m always this schmoopy.

“Stiles,” I say, scooting my fingers towards him. “It’s been a really weird day. Uh, night.”

He shifts around, uneasy. “Yeah, I know, I’m—”

I barrel right past him. “And, I don’t know a damn thing about who I am. Other than somebody who hates end tables, I guess.”

He chuckles, a warm, comfortable sound, and when I sit up, he tilts his body towards me, like it’s the most natural thing. Maybe it is.

“I don’t know any thing about me,” I say again, right to those lovely brown eyes, “but I do remember how I feel about you.”

His face freezes. “Um. You. What?”

I wrap my fingers around his elbow and squeeze. “You. Me. What we are to each other. That, I couldn’t forget.”

I tug just a little and he comes to me, yields to me, opens his mouth under mine.

It’s awkward and sweet, for a moment, as if it were our first kiss. His tongue tap dances over my lips, curls in and retreats; he jumps when I touch his face. For a minute, I’m glad I can’t remember our first kiss, the real one, whenever the hell that was, because the way he finally licks into me, bold, the way he moans when we get it just right—it’s perfect.

“Oh, fuck,” he says when I pull away, his eyes fluttering and his cheeks hot under my hands. “You’re hurt, man. You don’t know what you’re— Derek. We can’t—”

I let him go and lean back, stretch out over the covers. “Yes, we can,” I whisper, low whiskey. “You’ll just have to be gentle with me.”

****

This is not happening. Clearly, I am the one with the scrambled noodle, because this. Is Not. Happening. I’m in a 28 Days Later coma, or something. In a minute the zombies’ll be eating my brains.

Derek licks his lips and, holy shit, rolls his hips, and oh my god. Fuck the zombies. Please god, don’t let me wake up.

I twist and tumble on top of him, my fists on either side of his head, and frankly, I’m stunned solid gold. Because Derek’s hard, shit, I can feel it, you know, because I’m on top of him! and goddamn, he’s grabbing my ass, this gorgeous groan in his throat.

“Mmmm,” he says again, and that noise should be fucking illegal. “God, you feel good.”

I know his brain is cottage cheese and he’s gotta still be hurting, werewolf or no, because that tree-sprite dropped him from like four stories up and hell, the man doesn’t even know his own name, but my ethical fortitude, whatever I might’ve had, it fucking crumbles when Derek laughs and tips his head back, shows me that beautiful neck.

“C’mon,” he says, breathless. “Make me feel better, baby.”

Ok, so. I’m going to hell.

I pitch down, unsteady. Fumble kiss after kiss at his throat, over his jaw, into the soft dark behind his ear. If he notices how clumsy I am, he doesn’t say; he’s too busy tugging my hair and humming my name. He’s making it really fucking hard to focus, the bastard, especially when he gets a hand under my shirt and presses his palm into my ribs.

“Fuck,” I say, super helpful, but that’s about the best that I’ve got. That and a handful of grinding, short tight little thrusts because Derek’s clamped a paw on my ass again, and he won’t let me—

Derek,” I whine, yeah, two for two, as he twists his head and kisses my cheek. Weirdly sweet.

“Hey,” he says, lips slipping over my skin. “I’m injured, remember? Me. So you should be doing the heavy lifting here, pal. And dry humping is not the order of the day.” He nips at my mouth. “As hot as it’d be to watch you come in your pants.” He kicks his hips up, exclamation, and fuck me, I love this guy.

I wonder if Derek’s always like this in bed, a foul-mouthed koala with claws.

“You’re an asshole,” I wheeze, fisting the covers. “And I hate you.”

He grins. “Pfft. You love me.”

“I do not,” I say, stupid, and kiss him hard, just to prove the point. He seems super pleased by that. His fingers twist in my hair and he sucks on my tongue, hot and sweet.

“Baby,” he says, after a minute, kinda desperate. “Stiles, please.”

“Please what—?”

He huffs, frustrated, and shoves at my shoulders. “Please,” he says again, shivering. “I need your mouth on my cock.”

Ok, file that one under: shit I never thought I’d hear Derek Hale say.

For a second, I remember—this isn’t Derek, not really. This is the bats-in-the-belfry order of Hale, the one who thinks that we’re fucking, who thinks that I love him (um), who thinks that he loves me, and—

Like I said. I’m a terrible person and I’m going to hell. Because does that stop me, my one moment of conscience, from shuffling down his body and tearing open his belt? No. Oh no.

****

Stiles watches my face, heated, as he opens me up, and that look makes me feel crazy. Makes my dick twitch where he’s petting it through my boxers, the son-of-a-fucking tease.

I wonder if he’s like this all the time in bed, this strange mix of uncertain and sure.

Maybe we haven’t done this very much. Maybe we haven’t been together very long. He slips two fingers in the slit of my boxers and strokes the head, jesus. I really wish I could remember.

“Derek,” he says, so soft I almost miss it. “You sure you want this?” He meets my eye, earnest and shy. “I don’t—I don’t want to hurt you, man.”

I reach out and touch his cheek, run my fingers over his lips. “Yeah,” I say. “Sweetheart. I’m sure.”

He shudders and turns his head. Licks a kiss into my pam. “Yeah. Ok.”

He eases me out and licks his lips and, ok, hurt or not, I am pretty far done playing nice.

“Stiles,” I growl (and whoa, where did that come from?), my hips jerking into his fist. “Suck my cock, baby, fuck.”

He laughs, the sound warm and wet on my dick. “My, my. You get pissy when you’re desperate, huh? Color me so not surprised.”

Wait. That doesn’t make sense. Shouldn’t he already know what I—?

But then he’s drawing me in, lowering his mouth over my cock, this boy that I’ve remembered to love, and I don’t give a shit about anything else.

****

I have no clue what I’m doing. That should probably freak me out more. I mean, I don’t even like to drive someplace new without Google Maps, and here I am with Derek’s dick in my mouth without any instructions and everything’s going fine, if Derek’s reaction is any clue.

He’s clutching the covers at his hips. I can see his nails in the sheets. “Fuck,” he sings, deep and dirty. “Oh, fuck, Stiles. Yeah.”

God, Derek’s pretty. Not just his face, the way it’s twisted, pink and desperate. Not just the noises he’s making now, some ancient hymn to arousal, waves of super-heated sound. No, I think his dick’s pretty, too. I like the way it sits on my tongue, the way it feels pressed inside my cheek. The way it twitches when I do something really good.

He’s hard to hold on to, Derek, the more turned on he gets. I’ve got one hand anchored in his curls, the dark ones at the base of his cock, and the other on his hip, and it’s hot as hell, he is, and I have never been so hard in my life. My knees are pinned on the outside of his and my hips keep fucking up, ragged jabs in the air, which must look kinda dumb but I can’t help it. Oh god. I can’t.

“Baby,” Derek groans, his fingers racing over my head. “Yes. Yes. Like that. Mmmm. Harder. Please—”

I’ve never done this and now I am and it scares me, how good it feels, even if it is spectacularly weird. And sloppy. Lots of spit involved here.

Derek grabs my hair and fucks up, hard, his cock banging the top of my mouth. “Stiles,” he keens, high and thready. “Yes yes baby, yes. Oh. Fuck. Don’t stop. Don’t stop don’t, honey, please—”

I’m willing to overlook the honey thing, frankly, because the next second Derek’s coming, Derek’s freaking losing his mind, his come flying everywhere in my mouth. I swallow because it’s instinct and he moans, grabs my hair again and gives one last thrust.

“Oh,” he says, strangled. “Oh god, Stiles. Shit.”

I lift my head, draw him out, and his whole body shudders. He’s a mess: shirt shoved up to his nipples and hairstyle by hurricane and my drool all over his crotch.

I admit—I’m kind of proud of my work. I may gloat. There may be some gloating.

“Get up here,” he murmurs, tapping me on the chin.

We kiss slow and easy, his mouth like jello, soft and sweet—at least until he sneaks a hand over my zipper and palms me really hard through my jeans. I shriek and he laughs, a low sated rumble.

“‘Kay,” he says. “You’re really determined to come like this, huh?” He squeezes the head of my dick, just this side of too much, and smirks when I start to whimper. Bastard.

“In or out,” he says. “Your choice. I can make you shoot either way.”

I sit up, leaning tower, and smack his stupid gorgeous hand away. “I hate you,” I groan, which perhaps doesn’t match with me ripping down my zipper, but who cares, the way Derek is eying my cock. I fist it finally, finally, sweet Jesus, as he rubs his thumb over the head with one hand, clutches my thigh with the other.

“Good,” he says, grinning up at me. “That’s good, baby. Do that. Show me.”

I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. Not with him staring at me like that, like I’m the best thing he’s ever seen, like all the answers to the universe are written all over my face.

He keeps teasing me, little brushes of his fingers over mine, over my slit, over the tight clench of my balls—

My whole body jerks, like a angry live wire. “Oh shit. Come on. That’s cheating.”

“What?” he says, wide-eyed innocent bullshit. “What is? This?”

He does it again, a hint of his nails this time, and I lose it, bam, just like that. I come all over his face, his beard, fuck, his eyebrows! Oh god. That’s me, that’s my spunk smeared all over his face, and it’s kind of horrifyingly hot.

“Oh god,” I splutter, poking at the mess I’ve left on his cheek. “Oh my god. Derek. I’m so sorry.”

He grins, almost sneaky; white teeth, black beard, and uh, me. “Yeah, well,” he says. “I’m not.”

He pulls me down, hot hand on my neck, and we’re kissing we’re kissing we’re—

“WHAT THE FUCK?” Scott shouts, like some awful alarm clock. “STILES! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”

****

“OH MY GOD! WHY?!”

The other guy is red alerting by the door, having some of kind of breakdown. If it were up to me, we’d ignore him, but then, I have no idea who he is.

Stiles flips up like he’s been shot and stares, his fists tight in my shirt. He smells terrified.

Wait. How the hell do I know what fear smells like?

“Scott!” Stiles hiccups. “Oh god. It’s not—!”

The other guy—Scott—he honest to god howls, like a full-on wild thing. “PUT YOUR DICK AWAY!” he hollers. “Oh my fuck, Stiles! What are you doing?!”

I nudge Stiles off my lap and rear up on my elbows. “What the hell is your problem?” I say. “How is this any of your damn business, Scott?”

Scott’s framed in the doorway like mugger under a streetlight. Except that he’s blushing. Furiously. “Since when do you guys, um,” he gestures furiously at the bed. “Do that? I thought you couldn’t stand each other!”

I bare my teeth—my sharp, suddenly-there hardware—and snarl: “You’ve been obviously misinformed.”

Stiles is a twitchy mess beside me. “Dude,” he whispers. “Derek. You’ve got”—he points at his face—”all over your, uh.”

I don’t give a damn. “You need to leave,” I snap at Scott. “Right now.”

He steps back, gnashing his teeth. “I don’t understand,” he says. “Stiles. When did this happen?”

Stiles sits up, hands folded sheepish in his lap, and all at once he smells—really, really guilty. “Um,” he says to the wall. “It’s kind of hard to explain.”

My guts sinks, straight to the bottom. No. No no, it can’t— “Stiles,” I say. “We are dating. Aren’t we?”

He cringes, shifts away from me like he thinks that I’ll strike him. “Uh, well. Not exactly.”

“Stiles.”

He looks up, reluctant, and the truth is all over his face. “No. We’re not.”

Oh god.

I blink once. Twice.

“But,” he says, desperate, “you seemed so sure of it, Derek, and god, I love— I’ve always wanted to—”

I turn away. Hide my face and curl into the bed. “Get out,” I say.

His voice swings up, desperate. “No, you don’t understand, I—”

I raise my voice, far more than I have to, and I sound more wolf than man. “Get. Out.”

I can hear every sound he makes, every tear, until at last I’m alone.

****

I couldn’t sleep last night. Not at all. Didn’t do a damn thing but turn around my room like a hamster wheel, kicking myself for every mistake I made yesterday, starting with, oh, getting up.

I should have stayed in bed all day. Would’ve been better for everybody.

Scott wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t really look at me, until I’d taken a shower. Even then, he sat on the other side of the room while I spat out the cold, ugly truth:

I’d, um, “taken advantage” of Derek, if we’re being kind.

If we’re not, well. There’s a reason I can’t look at myself in the mirror.

I don’t think Scott understood, though he did his best. By the time he left, he could meet my eye again, could pound me on the back and lie to my face.

“It’ll be fine,” he said, weakly, halfway out my front door. “Stiles. You’ll see. It’ll be fine.”

“Yeah,” I said to the empty foyer. To the coat rack. To the mail table. “I’m pretty sure that it won’t.”

Today’s been complete ass, no surprise.

I didn’t go to school. Hid in my room until Dad left for work. Gave him plausible deniability, if the office calls wondering why I’m out.

I haven’t opened my email or turned on my phone. Not like Derek knows how to use either of those technologies, if he even wanted to reach me—doubtful—but I didn’t want to take any chances.

I’ve been watching game walkthroughs on YouTube and drinking old grape juice all day. It’s even less fun than it sounds. But still better than I deserve.

I’ve reached an impressive new high in my self-loathing. Great. Maybe I should make a chart: “eats paste” on one end, “assaults Derek Hale” on the—

Someone’s at the door.

And not just at it, mind you, but pounding on it, full-on fist. People, this is why we have doorbells.
Jesus.

Probably just the UPS guy. Dad’s been ordering some weird kitchen crap lately.

I slump down the stairs and open it without checking the peephole. Fuck it. I doubt vampires bother to knock.

I’m so out of it that I don’t notice it’s Derek until he’s already inside, already backed up against the door, arms crossed, all frowny and stare-y.

Oh, hey. Just like old times. Or not.

“Stiles,” he says, scratch and annoyed. “Look at me.”

I watch my feet shuffle over the floor. “You know, I’d rather not.”

He sighs, and I can see his knees sag a little. “Yeah. Ok.”

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three.

“So who are you today?” I say, louder and meaner than I should. “Are you Derek Hale, everyone’s favorite wolfy dick, or Derek Hale, who thinks he’s my boyfriend?”

That gets him moving. “I’m me,” he growls. “With all of my marbles in the right place.”

I look up. I shouldn’t. “No more amnesia?”

“No,” he says, quiet now. “Not anymore.”

He shoves his hands in his pockets, the deep ones that frame his black leather jacket, and I now I’m going to cry. Because now I know what his hands feel like on me, how gentle he can be, how strong, all in the same moment. And I’m never gonna feel that again. Don’t deserve to, anyway.

I turn away. “I’m just,” I say, sniffling. Maybe. “I’m glad you’re ok. I know I— I know I can never make up for what I did to you, man, I can’t, I know. Ever.”

There’s a long, slow silence that neither of us rushes to fill.

“Well,” he says, measured. “You could have told me the truth.”

I shove a hand through my hair and knock the tears from my eyes. “Yeah. I should have. I’m sorry. I don’t— There’s no excuse.”

He touches me then, a brush of his hand on my shoulder, like a bird that’s just dropping by. “Apparently I have a thing for you, Stiles. Um. Apparently. And when the rest of me was a mental finger painting—hell, I forgot I was a werewolf!—how I feel about you, which is, uh.” He clears his throat. “Really strong, I guess. Because that’s the only damn thing that stuck.”

He cups my neck in his palm and presses, just a little. “That says a lot to me. About how important you are, I just— I wish I’d said something sooner. So you didn’t have to find out that way.”

“Well,” I echo, this loud, awkward honk. “If you remember, the way that you told me? Not exactly awful on my end.”

He chuckles, and now he’s tucked up against my back, his arms drifting to my waist. “You didn’t argue with me, that’s true. Went a long way to proving my case, actually.”

“I’m a shit,” I say, too afraid to touch him back. “Derek. Come on. I practically—” No. I can’t say that. “I— I let you think something that so wasn’t true.”

His lips in my hair, a warm rush of breath. “That we were already fucking? Yeah. Not your finest moment, Stilinski.” I try to squirm away, embarrassed, but he tugs me back. “I was furious with you,” he says. “You know that? Last night, after you’d gone. Went to sleep cursing your name. But this morning— This morning I woke up and I knew who I was and I knew that I still loved you. Still wanted you. Just like I had before, even though I’d never said anything.” He laughs, low and gentle, a sound that I find I kind of adore. “Damn. I can’t believe I just said that out loud. Thank god you can’t see my face.”

I run my fingers through his where they sit on my hips. “Derek, I—”

He sighs and squeezes me back. “You didn’t have to lie to me, Stiles. That’s what I came here to say. And don’t ever do that again.”

“Yeah,” I say, guilt swirling up in my chest. “Yeah. Ok.”

He leans down and presses his lips to my cheek, almost chaste. “So. Take a few days. Try to stop beating yourself up. Or, you know, wallow in it. Whatever. I’m gonna go buy some end tables. And a goddamn bookshelf or two. And then we should talk, I think. If that’s ok with you.” He smiles against my neck, a little ghost of a thing. “Figure out how to start over. In the right frame of mind, this time.”

“Ok,” I say, stupidly hopeful. Which is stupid, but god, I can’t help it. This may end in disaster or a broken heart or he may be the love of my life. Who the hell knows? But maybe now I’ll get a chance to find out. “Derek. Ok.”

He turns me in his arms and kisses me, awkward and sweet, as if it were the very first one. And I guess, huh. Maybe it is.

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