Heartache Tonight

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It’s been over two weeks (sixteen days, to be precise) since Derek left Beacon Hills. Again. The other times Derek had decided to leave hadn’t necessarily been that bad. Stiles had been in high school, and they’d been friendly without necessarily being close or anything. This time around, it’s been extremely difficult to deal with because Derek broke up with him right before leaving. They’d been dating for months, were pretty serious, or so Stiles had believed. It turned out that he’d been the one falling in love while Derek had apparently just considered it a casual arrangement between friends.

While Stiles ended up with a broken heart, Derek had ended a friends with benefits relationship before he took off. Stiles isn’t really sure how they could have miscommunicated that poorly, especially when they talked about everything they did beforehand because he hadn’t wanted Derek to ever feel pressured or used. Consent had been a major sticking point when their friendship became physical, in fact. Despite all his efforts, Stiles hadn’t asked the basic question, which was whether Derek was in it for sex or something real and meaningful.

Obviously, he’s not going to ever make that mistake again. Any future relationships will have open and clear communication regarding their expectations and what they want from day one. Not that he’s planning any future relationships right now. Losing Derek hurts, and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions since Derek left. One minute, Stiles is so sad he wants to cry (has cried more than he cares to admit). The next, he’s angry at Derek for being harsh when he realized how Stiles felt.

The worst part is that Derek has been such a huge part of his life that Stiles sees reminders of him everywhere. Pack meetings are awkward because everyone knows Derek rejected him and never loved him. The station is weird because they’d both been working as deputies, which is how their friendship actually did progress to the ‘something more’ level. Even his apartment has too many traces of Derek to be an escape from the heartache. His lease is up next month, and Stiles has already decided he’s moving to a different apartment. One without so many memories he can’t escape. Maybe he’ll calm down enough to get over it by then, but he’s not sure.

After all, when Stiles falls, he falls hard. The feelings he has for Derek are serious, and he’d actually thought Derek might be his last relationship. Save for the best for last, all that romantic shit that he’d believed so thoroughly until Derek had given him a surprised look and told him love wasn’t part of their deal. Their deal. Like it was some kind of official agreement with rules or something. No one told Stiles any rules, though, and Derek never once clarified his impression that it was just sex. They dated, after all, and spent so much time together that they rarely even slept alone anymore, so Stiles can’t understand it being something casual to Derek’s mind.

It had lasted for over eight months. Eight months of going out, hanging out, having sex, sharing living space in all the unofficial ways, and just being together so often that it would never seem like friends with benefits to anyone except Derek. It was a real relationship, a fucking amazing one, and it hurts more than he thought possible that Derek didn’t realize how fortunate they were to have something so strong. Saying it was just sex is insulting, and it trivializes everything. He probably could have handled Derek saying he isn’t in love with Stiles a little better than realizing everything he thought they had was only in his head.

It’s pointless to keep dwelling on what might have been when his reality is Derek being gone, planning to meet up with Braeden in Utah, of all places. Another friend with benefits to show Stiles just how replaceable he is because Derek doesn’t do love and has no use for romance or steady relationships. It’s Stiles’ fault for falling in love, and his emotions aren’t Derek’s problem. Just remembering Derek’s confusion and the ensuing conversation where Derek had been downright mean as he told Stiles in very blunt terms that it was over, and it had obviously been a mistake expecting him to behave maturely about things, could make him feel terrible.

As he’s stuck replaying the conversation on an endless loop in his head, his phone buzzes. Stiles picks it up, reading the text from Scott telling him to stop sitting around and thinking about assholes who don’t deserve him anyway. Easy for Scott to say. He and Lydia have been dating for a couple of years now, and they’re so happy together it’s nauseating to even be around them, especially lately. Broken hearts don’t handle coupley happiness well at all.

After sending a reply to Scott that consisted of emoticons sticking their tongues out, he tossed his phone on the sofa and buried his face against one of the pillows. He screams into the pillow, not really feeling any better but not feeling worse, either. This is the first time in his life that he’s had to deal with heartbreak, so he doesn’t really know how to make it any better. When things with Malia ended, it had just happened without them even really talking about it, and they were still friends, so it had hurt but it hadn’t been so devastating or left him aching like a part of him was missing.

“You’re so fucking pathetic,” he mutters, forcing himself to get off the sofa and attempt to at least try doing something except moping. Scott’s right that it’s a waste of time, but Stiles isn’t planning on telling him that. He picks up the fast food wrappers, cartons, and pizza boxes that are covering his table, proof of how badly he’s left himself go recently. He just hasn’t felt like cooking, especially not for just one person, so he hasn’t bothered.

It takes a while to clean up the kitchen. There are still some dishes in the sink from the night before Derek left, and Stiles considers just throwing them away because they’re pretty gross after pasta dried on them for so many days, but he doesn’t want to buy new dishes, so he focuses on scrubbing them. When he’s finished, they look great, and he wishes it was that easy to just make himself not feel so gross. A knock on his door interrupts his thoughts, and he rolls his eyes because it’s probably Scott dropping by again to make sure he hasn’t OD’d on Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream. But, hey, Stiles is grateful for Ben & Jerry helping him through his broken heart.

“Scott, I’m fine,” he says as he opens the door, blinking in surprise when he sees Derek standing there instead of Scott. He tightens his grip on the door and frowns. “What are you doing here?”

“We need to talk,” Derek tells him. When Stiles doesn’t let go of the door or move aside, Derek’s eyebrows furrow and he tenses up even more. “Please, Stiles.”

“The last time I told you please, you told me I needed to grow up,” Stiles reminds him, voice wavering slightly but he manages to get the words out, so he can’t be too upset with himself.

His words make Derek wince, and he watches Derek drag his fingers through his thick hair. “I was wrong,” he whispers, staring into Stiles’ eyes. “Can we talk?”

“I’m not sure there’s anything left to say that wouldn’t make things worse than they already are,” Stiles points out. He’s trying to be strong because all he really wants to do is let go of the door and step into Derek’s arms. That would be so bad, though, because Stiles already hurts enough without making it worse.

“Stiles, I don’t want to have this conversation like this,” Derek says, looking around before focusing back on him. “I have things I want to say. That I need to stay. Please, hear me out.”

“You have five minutes.” Stiles steps aside, closing his eyes when Derek walks past him and the scent of his cologne tickles his nose. Scott would kill him, or at least maim him badly, if he knew he was giving Derek a chance to talk to him. But Derek’s back in Beacon Hills, and he looks pretty shitty, like how Stiles feels. Besides, he just can’t stop loving someone after two weeks.

“You’ve moved the furniture around.” Derek looks around the living room before turning towards him.

“Yeah. I couldn’t sleep and needed a change,” he tells him, walking over and sitting in the chair instead of on the sofa. “I’ve been thinking of moving when my lease is up. Too many memories here.”

Derek sighs and sits on the sofa. “I’m sorry I fucked things up.”

“What?” Stiles snorts. “Things were obviously fucked up in the first place, Derek. I thought we were in a relationship, and you thought it was a casual fuck buddies thing.”

“We were.” Derek rubs the back of his neck. “I didn’t want to accept it, was too scared to admit it even to myself much less someone else, but we’ve never been casual, Stiles. I wasn’t ready when you started talking about loving me. I lashed out, and I know I hurt you, but I didn’t mean to do it.”

“You did hurt me,” Stiles tells him honestly. “I loved you, and you took that and threw it away by insisting it was my fault for getting in too deep when it was supposed to be casual.”

“Loved,” Derek repeats quietly. “You don’t anymore?”

“Figure of speech.” Stiles shrugs and looks away from Derek. “It’s been less than three weeks. Of course I still love you. It doesn’t go away that fast. I wish it did. The last few days have sucked ass.”

“When I got to Moab, I felt like shit,” Derek says. “Braeden kicked my ass, literally, when I told her what happened, and she forced me to do some soul searching before she’d even talk to me. I bought a tent and went camping in one of the national parks, spent days looking at the sky and getting lost in my head. When I really thought about it, I knew I’d made a mistake. I knew that I love you, that I wasn’t going to be happy without you, and it took me another few days before I got the courage to come back and face the music.”

After Derek stops talking, Stiles looks at him. Derek loves him? He wants to believe, badly, but he’s been hurt once, and he doesn’t want to feel like that again. “So, what, you love me now?”

“Yeah.” Derek looks him in the eyes. “I love you, Stiles. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’d like a chance to prove it to you. I’ll still probably fuck things up because this is new for me, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I don’t want to think about a life without you being part of it.”

“It isn’t that easy, Derek,” Stiles whispers, dragging his fingers through his hair. “Everything I believed about our relationship wasn’t true. You never saw things the same way I did. While I was falling in love, you were guarding your heart. I mean, I do believe you when you say you love me, but it’s too late, isn’t it? Our relationship is over, and it’s probably for the best because we went into it wanting different things, and we never communicated the way we should have despite trying so hard to be open with each other.”

“Do you still love me, Stiles?” Derek asks, his tone a little desperate and his stare intense.

“Yes, I do,” Stiles admits softly.

“Then it is that easy.” Derek moves off the sofa, kneeling by his feet and looking up at him. “Because I love you, too, and that’s all that matters.”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Stiles says. “Talk about me needing to grow up.”

Derek takes his hand and squeezes. “I’m not good at talking and putting myself out there, but I’m trying, Stiles,” he murmurs. “I fucked up. I just hope I haven’t lost any chance with you because I was scared and stupid.”

Stiles looks at him, reaching up to stroke his jaw, his beard soft beneath his fingertips. “Our relationship is over,” he tells him quietly. “We can’t pick up where we left off because too many things were said that can’t be taken back or ignored. Fuck. I don’t know. Maybe we can try again. Only, both wanting the same thing this time. A new beginning, if you want.”

“I want,” Derek whispers, leaning up to brush a gentle kiss against his mouth. Resting their foreheads together, he sighs softly. “Thank you for trying, Stiles. I know I hurt you, and I realize I'm damn lucky you're even willing to give me the opportunity to try again." He straightens up, looking deep into Stiles' eyes, a nervous expression on his face. "Would you go out with me tomorrow night? On a date. I’m looking for long-term commitment, nothing casual.”

“Nothing casual, huh?” Stiles smiles slightly, squeezing Derek’s hand tight. “Yeah, that sounds pretty great, actually. Sure, I’ll go out with you tomorrow, Derek.”