Derek is at Stiles’ door. “Oh no. Oh no no, unless you’re coming to find me so we can go pet a unicorn, I do not want to know. I’m on a break. I am taking a supernatural sabbatical.” He shuts the door, heart racing, realizes that’s probably a very rude thing to do to someone who’s never made the effort to use Stiles’ front door before, never mind knocked on it. Stiles opens the door again.
Derek is still there. “Did you wax your eyebrows?” Stiles asks. “Because they look different. Or is that a beta thing? Now that you’re not all I’m the Alpha anymore, did they take on their normal proportions again? I don’t know what it is, but they look different.” He waits. Derek stares at him for a while.
“Did I wax...” he finally begins, then shakes his head. “Unicorns don’t exist and—” Derek looks profoundly confused. “No, it’s the, the sabbatical thing. I came over to tell you... You know what? It doesn’t matter.”
“No, hey whoa.” Stiles grabs Derek’s sleeve before he can turn away completely. Derek just looks at him, and waits. “Why don’t you, uh, come in. Dad’s out. And apparently I left my manners somewhere buried underneath the Nemeton.” He steps aside and Derek slowly walks past him, not taking his eyes off Stiles. They stand awkwardly and slightly too close for a moment until Stiles shuts the door. “You uh, wanna drink?”
“Sure.” Derek shrugs one shoulder, tilts his head a little to the side. “You have coffee?”
“Ah, yeah. I don’t drink the stuff but I should be able to make you a decent cup.”
“I’ll do it,” Derek says and holds out a hand, as if to say, lead the way.
So Stiles finds himself sitting on his own kitchen counter, watching Derek make himself a drink. He sniffs out the coffee by himself, or the cabinet above the coffeemaker is just the logical place to look. “Mugs?” he asks and Stiles points to a little mug tree. Derek smiles and flushes a little, like he’s embarrassed he didn’t see them. “How’s the sheriff?”
“He’s all right. Dad’s fine, he’s talking to the FBI right now, I think. God knows how he’s going to explain this mess.” Stiles watches Derek, because maybe they used to have some sort of protocol, a story werewolves would use in case of supernatural, impossible fuck-ups that got the FBI involved, but Derek just shrugs again, like it’s not really that important.
“But your dad believes you now?”
“Yeah. He... he does. And—” Stiles swallows hard, glances down at his hands and forces them to relax. Derek still has his back to Stiles but he’s paused doing whatever he was doing to the coffee machine. “Thank you for believing me. For believing that Jennifer took—” Derek’s shoulders round a little, he bends his head.
“No problem,” he says and starts to scoop sugar into a mug. It’s Stiles’ old hot cocoa mug. There’s a faded Whinny the Pooh on it, licking honey off his paws. The sputtering coffee is the only sound in a silence that’s threatening to become awkward fast.
“So no unicorns, huh.”
Derek glances over his shoulder, the small smile is back. “No unicorns.”
“You sure you don’t want any?” Derek holds up his mug and Stiles shakes his head.
“It messes with my... everything, really.”
“Do you have any chamomile tea?”
Stiles can feel his eyes widen and Derek is looking at the kitchen cabinets like he’s ready to start searching. “I... doubt it. Why?”
“It helps with anxiety and stress. You should give it a try.”
There is absolutely not a single thing Stiles can say to that, so all he comes up with is, “Uh. Sure, I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”
The coffeemaker burps out its last bit of coffee and Derek pours himself a mug. “May I?” He indicates the free counter space next to Stiles and hops on before Stiles can answer.
Stiles wants to know what Derek is doing here, but there’s no single way he can come up with to ask that doesn’t sound downright rude. Derek just sips his coffee, hums like it’s good and sets the mug aside.
“Relax,” Derek says and he puts a hand on Stiles‘ knee. He hadn’t realized he’d been bouncing it, hitting his sneaker off the cabinet door below. Instantly he stills and not just because Derek is touching him, but because he feels himself calm.
“Are you doing your werewolf voodoo on me?” Stiles ask and Derek’s head lifts slowly. His eyes are wide.
“No,” he says and removes his hand. “No, I was just... I wasn’t doing anything. The thing with Cora... it’ll take a while before I can do that again.”
“Does it bother you?” Stiles waves his fingers in front of his eyes. “The beta thing, I mean.”
“Not as much as I thought it would. Scott’s... Scott will be good for everyone.”
“Yes.” Stiles can’t stop the grin. “Yes, he will be. So, how are you? After the whole thing. I mean... are you okay?”
Derek ducks his head. “Yeah,” he says. “I’m okay. But what you said earlier about the sabbatical. That’s, that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to go away for a while.”
“You’re leaving?” Stiles can feel his heartbeat ratchet up, and he tries to let a deep breath out before he can suck in too much oxygen and set himself off.
“Shh,” Derek says and he puts his hand back on Stiles’ knee. “I’ll be back. I’m just going with Cora to see her settled in college. Maybe I’ll travel around for a bit, see if I can’t find out where she’s been ever since the fire.”
“Okay,” Stiles says, staring at the fingers cupping his knee, the thumb rubbing tiny circles against his jeans. “So nothing dangerous then.”
“No.” Derek’s fingertips dig lightly into Stiles’ knee. “Nothing dangerous.”
“Will you tell me about Paige?” Stiles asks so quietly it’s almost a whisper.
Derek doesn’t get mad. He doesn’t remove his hand. “Some day,” he says. He slides off the counter, goes to stand between Stiles’ knees. His hands come to rest on Stiles hip and slide him forward. Before Stiles can think, or react, or do anything at all, Derek has pressed a kiss to his mouth. “Take care of yourself, Stiles.”
And just like that he’s gone. When Stiles has gathered his wits, which takes an embarrassingly long time, he notices there’s a piece of paper crumbled up in his hand. He opens it and sees a bunch of numbers. Stiles grabs his phone.
Go find your inner peace, and bring me some.
It takes one minute for the reply to arrive.
I’ll bring you a piece of me all right.