"That’s good," Stiles had been saying, more to himself than to Scott at that point. They didn’t think Derek would have the political clout in the Hale Household that his uncle obviously had, or could wield command over the same resources. "At this point, we’re trying to rule out…"
Except Scott cut him off, and he was ‘Officer’ now. For a moment, he thought the werewolf would lunge at him, and his hands were too still atop his collection of files. He was supposed to be the composed one here. He was supposed to call the shots. This was his job. This was something he did day in and day out. But he’d been fighting for so long just to see the man in front of him, and he’d finally gotten everything he’d dreamed of. He wasn’t allowed to keep it. Stiles didn’t realize he was on his feet until his fingers curled over Scott’s shoulder.
Peter Hale didn’t do anything to me.
"Peter Hale took everything from us!" He snapped, and he didn’t know why pulling Scott into his arms wasn’t an option anymore. He could prove he was good enough to survive all this. He could prove that he could go toe-to-toe with monsters, but Scott wasn’t even giving him the chance.
There were staff members just outside the door, and so many of their regular rules had to bent for the sake of a criminal investigation. Stiles was going to everything in his power to guarantee that Hale got the death penalty. One way or another. “I love you.”
Scott froze at the touch, fighting with himself and wanting to surrender to it. It was impossible to deny him when Stiles was so close, all of his willpower broken at the feel of his hands. He wanted to keep his friend safe, it was his responsibility. Stiles had such dreams and Scott knew the only way to keep them both safe was to crush them but he wanted, god he wanted.
He hated the way Stiles said Peter’s name with all that anger, his hands fisting into the human’s shirt without his say-so. It had taken everything in him to force his friend to leave before and he knew he didn’t have the strength to do it again but his body was rebelling. All he wanted to do was take that anger and hurt from Stiles’s face whatever it cost. He pulled his human in close against him, fitting their bodies perfectly against each other in the way that made him crazy.
With a quiet noises of frustration, Scott twisted in fingers up into Stiles’s hair, kissing him hard enough to steal his breath. “Don’t say that, don’t tell me you love me.” His voice shook, nuzzling into his neck as his control slipped. “Why won’t you just let me go? Stiles, please. You know it’s only a matter of time, you shouldn’t have come back here. How many times are you going to make me break your heart?”
He could hear the movement outside the door and knew someone was watching. There must be cameras trained on them, staff ready to swoop in if he lost it or if he begged to go back to his room, but he couldn’t seem to care. All he wanted was to press himself as close as possible to Stiles and never let go.
Look at me, Stiles wanted to demand. I’m right here. Stop pacing, and look at me!
Except Scott couldn’t, and Stiles didn’t think what he’d done had been bad enough for his best friend to cut him out of his life. He’d been human. He hadn’t been strong enough. On the tail-end of every plea was take me back.
Scott had the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. He wondered what he read in his frantic pulse. Stiles would like to think that the proceedings would ground him with its familiarity. They didn’t. All he could think about was how he shouldn’t be asking the questions like this, how he should have been pressed against Scott’s side and glaring at whoever asked anything that was too demanding, and how he shouldn’t still be wondering what had happened to his best friend while they were away.
He didn’t reach out for Scott.
"We’re trying to figure out the extent of his involvement in all this. That’s all. The case is about Peter." Stiles urged, but his lips pursed at the reminder. His tone didn’t waver. "What was his relationship with Peter?"
Scott traced his fingers lightly down the picture, lost in memories for a moment. It hadn’t all been terrible, there were bright spots in the years that had helped him keep his sanity, what there was of it. He curled his fingers away, taking a step back from the table. “He didn’t want to be there. He wasn’t like his Uncle, he didn’t want to hurt anyone but there wasn’t anything he could have done to stop it.”
He watched Stiles like he was trying to read his mind, piecing together why he would care about Derek Hale and what it had to do with the case. “I’m not going to say anything about him. I owe him things, he wasn’t Peter. I’m not going to help you do anything to hurt him, Officer. He never hurt me, I never saw him hurt anyone. He was just as trapped as the rest of us.”
The wolf shifted on his feet, uncomfortable and waiting for the other shoe to drop. This couldn’t be all he wanted, there had to be more to it. Finally, he couldn’t stand it any more, slamming both his hands down on the table. “What do you want from me?! You didn’t come here just to ask me about Derek, you could have talked to Isaac or sent someone else here if you had to. Why you, why are you doing this? You’re just going to pretend that this is all professional and all you want from me are some answers about a case I won’t help you with anyways? Here’s something for your record, Officer. Peter Hale didn’t do anything to me. Derek Hale is innocent. I’m fine, nothing happened, just let it go.”
Stiles watched Scott because he couldn’t take his eyes off of him. There was an easy grace to his movements that he’d learned while he was - away (‘away’ - sanitized and spruced up, that was how Stiles had to see it, that was the only way he could accept, and it still wasn’t enough). It was more pronounced now, more secure even as tension wrote itself across Scott’s frame. Stiles remembered kissing away that stress. Number 11 in a red jersey could never have managed that.
He didn’t want to see Scott like this. He had no other choice. This was proof he was alive and more than a convenient line in a file some bored receptionist read back to him. For everything he’d done, Stiles was going to tear Hale apart until there was hardly anything left of him, except perhaps his head. He’d bring that to Scott on a platter.
"I’m not asking you about him." Stiles replied steadily, and it wasn’t his first time asking questions like this. It wasn’t his first time at this very desk. It was just the first time it mattered so much. Allison should have been doing this. She was charming and ruthless in equal measure. She didn’t love Scott.
"Look at me, Scott." He requested, struggling not to make demands. Let me hold you, he didn’t say. I miss you so much. I need you back, please. Fishing through his folder, he pulled out a glossy picture of Derek Hale. "The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be done… Do you know this man?"
He pressed his thumb against his palm, rubbing hard but not breaking the skin. He didn’t want any part of this, struggling to keep the panic from overwhelming him. It wasn’t just Peter, it was Stiles. The effort of being so close to him and having to keep himself from reaching out. This was hell. Did they send him because they thought Scott would trust him? Was this just some kind of way to manipulate him into giving up some kind of information on Peter because he and Stiles were…they were…something. Used to be something.
Scott slid from the ledge again, anxious and tense as he stalked the room. He couldn’t keep still, suddenly feeling trapped and growling in mounting frustration. He refused to look at the human, keeping his eyes locked on the table on front of him as Stiles held out the photo. “I told you I’m not…” He stopped, taking the picture quietly. “Derek.”
He finally met Stiles’s eyes, confused and worried. “I don’t understand, what do you want with Derek? I thought you were building a case about Peter.” Derek had never been as cruel as his uncle, a quiet stoic man. The disagreement with his uncle’s lifestyle had been evident in the way he carried himself, but he was too loyal to his family to stop it. He’d been callous, selfish and obsessed with power but he wasn’t the same kind of evil. Over the years there had even been small unexpected gestures of kindness and sympathy. He wasn’t blameless, but he wasn’t Peter. “Isaac was his for a while, not me. Why are you asking me about him?”
"Scott - Scott!" Stiles yelled, demanding his attention, but he couldn’t keep his voice steady when he called. He took a deep breath, held it long enough to make his lungs feel like they were burning, because it was better than trying to tackle the outburst. Something was twisting in the center of his chest, and when he fell into the seat by the table, he fell too heavily. "I’m leaving."
He didn’t mean to spit out the words. It just happened. His jacket hung loose around his shoulders, like it was intended for someone more solid. There were bags under his eyes that caffeine couldn’t get rid of, even as it did away with the necessity of sleep. Work had always been something that dragged Stiles in. He took it seriously. He fought for it. Work had never been something he’d actively tried to drown himself in. Things changed.
Scott was terrified, and Stiles wasn’t allowed to reach him.
He thought Scott was beautiful when he cried. He hated that it was the last memory he had of his werewolf, and he’d never stop being his, not to Stiles. He dropped his files harder than necessary on the table.
"Sit down. The faster this is over…" He’d let Scott fill in the blanks. He was too busy trying to keep his heart from running away without his permission. He held his breath for two sets more, an old trick from the days he cared for a kid with asthma. Stiles folded his hands in front of himself before he could do anything with them. "I’m here to discuss the investigation of Peter Hale. Please sit down, Scott, and we’ll get you out of here as soon as possible."
His posture was slouched, submissive. He’d practiced that. He had to.
Scott jumped when the files hit the table with a bang, covering up his nervousness with a scowl. He wasn’t ready to deal with this, just seeing Stiles again broke something inside of him. He’d barely been strong enough to send him away once, he wasn’t sure he could do it again.
Control, he needed to stay in control. He’d been doing so well, he couldn’t lose it now when it could mean Stiles might get hurt. The wolf sat back down by the window, keeping a wary eye on the detective and disturbed how his friend slid so easily into the cool professional tone. He didn’t know this Stiles, he couldn’t recognize him. This was the man that his best friend had grown into without him, catching flashes of him in their time together but unsure of what had changed in him.
He bared his human teeth at the mention of Peter’s name, a reflexive action that set him growling with his hackles raised. “I’m not talking about him, I already told everyone that. I’m not helping you with this, I won’t say anything about him. You’re wasting your time, Stiles, you shouldn’t have come here.” There was no way he’d talk about Peter like this, not with him. The detective knew too much about what had happened already. They didn’t need him and he wasn’t going to help.
The wolf turned away from the other man, closing his eyes and resting his head against the glass to feel the sunlight on his skin. Don’t look at him, don’t breathe him in, keep the distance and it’ll be over soon. Just don’t break, you can’t let him in. “I don’t have anything else to say to you. Just let me go back, Stiles.”
Stiles had driven up to Eichen House every day for a fortnight before the message sank in. He wasn’t going to be welcomed in. The phone calls helped him knock his gas bill down to less painful levels, but Stiles began to hear the dial tone in his dreams.
They wouldn’t let him see Scott. They wouldn’t tell him anything about him, save for the fact that he was still alive and breathing. He was still his sponsor, and should there come a time that Scott was qualified to be reintroduced to society, Stiles would be forced to take a more active role in his recovery. Until then, he was shooting blanks. Pushing his status as a detective had ended exactly the way he assumed it would - with a direct reprimand from Dr. Tate plus the added bonus of threatening to report him to his supervisor.
It felt like the hospital walls knew all his secrets, and he could only pretend to ignore the gazes his frantic pulse garnered for so long. Stiles couldn’t remember being this tense entering an interrogation room in years. There was an empty space in his chest that bled and burned, where he imagined his heart had been. It had been 38 days since the last time he’d seen Scott.
It wasn’t long enough to prepare him to see Scott. Stiles had expected to have to lock the doors, and certainly, there were going to be staff positioned by them, at the ready. He hadn’t expected him like this. Calm in sleep, and vulnerable like his smile would suggest. His exhaustion was probably the only reason that Stiles had been able to get so close. He was still only halfway to the table in the center of the room. He wanted to let Scott sleep. He’d wait. He’d be as quiet as he could, hoarding the moment with clarity cut by desperation.
Stiles didn’t know how to stop missing him.
He always loved sitting in the sun, it was something he’d missed in his years locked inside. Windows were a luxury, a weak point that could be used for escape and the rare times he was let outside, it was usually for a fight. This was nice, warm and relaxing, he could stay here all day and just enjoy the sunbeam before being brought back to his room.
Scott could feel the presence intruding on his peace and sighed. “I really don’t want to have a session right now, Doc. Can’t we push it back until later? It’s not like I’m going anywhere.” The heartbeat caught in his ears and he tensed, raising his head to stare at the human in shock.
“No…no, you’re not supposed to be here. I told you that I didn’t want to see you, Stiles. They weren’t supposed to let you in!” Panic crashed through him and the wolf abandoned his perch by the window and stalked the edges of the room, trying to keep distance between them. He hadn’t been prepared, seeing Stiles was like taking a bullet to the chest. It wasn’t fair, they were supposed to warn him about things like this. They said he wouldn’t have to see anyone unless he was ready and he was so far from ready. He shored up his walls as quickly as he could, resisting the urge to tackle the human and wrap himself in Stiles’s arms until the world felt safe again.
“What the hell are you doing here? You need to leave, now. I’m not doing this, Stiles, I already told you I don’t need you. Don’t make me go through this again, please.” The wolf leaned against the door, banging hard. “I want to go back, let me go back to my room!”
Every day seemed the same, time blurring together until he couldn’t tell the difference. Scott didn’t mind, he was used to not knowing. Years could pass this way, disconnected from anything in the outside world and he wouldn’t care at all. He didn’t really care much about anything these days. The wolf had played by the rules as much as he could, but the confines of the hospital chafed and he couldn’t keep himself from lashing out. It was a never ending cycle: violence, sedation, quiet passivity and obedience until something set him off again.
The daily meetings with the doctor made some progress even though Scott didn’t care if he ever got better. She was patient, helping to guide him through his experiences until the violent episodes started getting farther and farther apart and he could sleep without medication. And every day she’d ask the question about Stiles and he would just mutely shake his head.
He refused to talk about Peter, even in the sessions with the doctor, his feelings about his former owner complicated and confusing. He would never testify, he couldn’t face the man again and the thought of seeing him made his hands shake and his breathing come in panicked gasps. Even here where he was promised safety, Scott could feel the man’s hand on the back of his neck in the middle of the night and his voice in his ear. He had nothing left to hold on to and Peter always promised control and easy submission until Scott would claw his head bloody to make it stop.
The greater control led to more trust and a chance to finally leave his room to explore the public areas of the hospital. The proximity to other weres still left him jumpy and he never spoke to anyone but the staff, but he was able to keep himself from shifting every time he saw one. It wasn’t a surprise anymore when they led him to an open meeting room in the facility, settling by the window to quietly doze in the sunlight.
Stiles had been on his way out of elementary school, just shy a few months, and covered in dirt and bruises they would never let their parents see. He’d decided then, with a heavy hand and ecstatic heart that he would give Scott anything he asked for, be it help with outpacing bullies or the moon on a silver platter. He’d held Scott until the asthma attack subsided, and they couldn’t hear their pursuers’ footsteps.
But now, Scott was asking for the impossible.
"Make me." Stiles whispered, and he hadn’t moved from where Scott left him. His eyes were screwed shut, but that only slowed how tears fell. He could count the times he’d cried in front of Scott on his hands, but every one of those times, it had been Scott who made it all better. This wasn’t right. It was already too cold, and his hands were shaking. "What are you going to do? Push me out the door? The only way I’m going to stop is if you stop me."
It was as close as he could get to a threat. But the door to the room opened, and it wasn’t Scott the orderlies wanted to control now. “Officer Stilinski.”
He wanted to tell them he was a detective. He wanted Scott to love him again.
Stiles tensed in place, but his gaze locked on Scott’s. “Don’t ask again. Or do. I don’t care. My answer is no. It’ll always be no. I’m gonna come back here, and we’re gonna have this conversation all over again until you get it through your fucking skull, McCall. I’m not leaving you.”
The orderly’s hand on his arm startled him, but Stiles didn’t fight as he was tugged out the door.
Scott felt like he was being torn in two, every instinct screaming at him that this was wrong. He wasn’t supposed to be the one to hurt Stiles, that was the whole point. He was the one who healed, the one who believed in something better and when Stiles was in pain, he was in agony.
“Stiles!” Rage flared through him that someone would dare lay a hand on his human, but the drugs they’d given to keep him calm kept the wolf inside too sedated to respond. Scott fought to control himself, this was what he wanted and he had to find a way to let his friend go. He stumbled backwards until he hit the wall, sliding down to the floor and burying his face in his knees, trying to block out the angry words. This was the right thing to do, he was a broken violent animal. He was dangerous, he couldn’t be saved.
Oh god, I’m so sorry.
“Don’t let him back in.” His voice cracked, too high and shaking so he barely recognized it. “I don’t ever want to see him again!” The orderlies would be able to tell he was lying, but their job was to keep him calm and safe, not to analyze his broken heart. Scott closed his eyes feeling sick, the world torn away from beneath his feet. Even when he’d been with Peter, he had something to hold on to and anchored himself in memories. Now even the memories were too painful, a reminder of what he could have had. He had nothing left.
They were in the back of an ambulance, and Scott’s face was covered in blood, but Stiles was the one crying. Scott was holding his hand so tightly Stiles thought his bones would break, but he couldn’t stop blubbering. Scott always took care of him, no matter how badly it hurt.
"No. No, fuck you no, Scott. No." Stiles hissed, clenching his jaw, and pushing himself closer, like he wasn’t allowed to do. He was sure he’d said this all before.
His shoulders trembled, but his sobs were stifled against his best friend’s shirt. It wasn’t enough. Two days wasn’t enough, and Stiles didn’t want to give up. He never wanted to give up. They’d come leaps and bounds after years of silence, and why couldn’t Scott see the truth? They were good for each other. They’d always been good for each other. Nothing could change it, so why couldn’t Scott see it now?
He couldn’t scare Stiles away. Stiles would always do anything Scott asked of him.
"I need you." He rasped, and Scott hadn’t seen freedom in all the years he’d been gone. Stiles was still the one falling apart. "I can’t - not without you. I’ll do anything," he urged. "Just stop. Just stop."
Scott’s lips had tasted so sweet.
Scott wrapped his arms around his friend, nuzzling against his ear and murmuring nonsense. This was too hard, trying to save Stiles when he didn’t want to be saved. His heart shattered, tears streaking down his face no matter how he tried to keep his expression blank. There was no way to do this without Stiles but there was no way to guarantee he wouldn’t hurt him either. It wasn’t worth the risk, the monster had to come first. He wasn’t going to be safe unless he was back on a chain like he was meant to be.
It had been perfect. Too short, ended before it could have a chance to grow but it had been perfect. He was perfect, his fearless, beautiful, stubborn human who owned half of his soul. Scott had forgotten what it had felt like to be himself without him, always living like he was missing a limb. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive it again.
“Hush, you can do this. You saved my life, that’s all you could have done. It’s over now, you can finally let go, Stiles. Please let me go.” Scott kissed his forehead, carefully untangling himself from Stiles’s arms with a determined push. He had to do this quickly or he’d falter and never let him go. Already his hands ached to pull him back, chest hollow and bleeding like a wound. It was worth it to save him. A life for a life.
“Leave. I’m not going to ask you again.”
"No, fuck that - no. That’s the wrong thing. That’s the worst thing, you can’t-" Stiles scrambled to dissuade Scott almost as hastily as he got to his feet. That was wrong. Leaving after he’d found his friend, after over a decade of search, after the happiest he could ever remembering being - letting that go would be nothing short of a crime. He needed Scott to let him hold him.
His grip curled into Scott’s shirt. He needed to make him stop. His features twisted in desperation, and their bed was right there. They could be so good together. They always had been. “No. I found you, Scott. You don’t get to do this. Eleven years - eleven. I’ll be the active investigator on your fucking case.”
His words rushed with panic, tone harsh and frantic with earnest. Stiles never saw why this could hurt more than help. He’d wiped away Scott’s tears. They didn’t have boundaries. Scott couldn’t leave him.
"Please." His shoulders sagged, and he knew what Scott felt like tucked against him now. He couldn’t live without not feeling that again. "Just a month. If - if it doesn’t work out. I’ll leave. If it doesn’t help."
Scott was fifteen again, crying with fists balled at his sides saying goodbye to his best friend and unable to tell him why. This thing that he’d become, it would always come between them. He hadn’t been able to explain it then, standing against Stiles’s broken hearted anger, and he couldn’t find the words now. At the time he’d thought it was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life but now, knowing what they could have…all the dreams that shouldn’t have been possible offered to him like they were real and tangible. Hope was the cruelest thing.
“There’s no case.” He murmured, head bowed and trying to pull away but caught in Stiles’s grip. “I never agreed to anything. There’s nothing you can do to help me, you need to let me go. You’ve wasted enough of your life looking for someone who doesn’t exist; it’s time you were able to move on.”
He almost broke at the plea, willing to do anything to keep his friend happy. “Stop.” The wolf kissed him gently, cupping Stiles’s face so he could look into those gorgeous eyes. Scott had to do this, he had to save him. However much it hurt, it was the right thing and he would bear the pain as he always had. “I don’t need you. I don’t…I don’t want you here. Don’t ever come back, I don’t want to see you again.”
Stiles was only human and Scott was glad he couldn’t read the lies in each beat of his heart.
There was something in that gaze that made Stiles stop cold in his tracks, startled and ashamed for it. Yesterday, he would have been pushing for what they both obviously wanted, heat still dancing through his nerves. He could taste Scott on his lips. He wouldn’t have to move far for the real thing, and yet lunch still seemed too close.
He pulled away, and didn’t know how he found the strength. He rolled off of Scott, until they were resting side to side, sharing a pillow but the inches between them felt too wide. Stiles hand remained flat against his werewolf’s hip. “I’m okay with that, Scott. I don’t need an alternative.”
This was bound to go badly. The odds were stacked in their favor, and Stiles wasn’t the sort of person who could believe in a best case scenario. That was the sort of person Scott was - or the sort he used to be. Stiles still missed that boy. He kissed the man he’d become like he never wanted to say goodbye.
"We can’t keep doing this, Scott, not like this." He didn’t like how that sounded. Stiles licked his lips, a nervous gesture that hadn’t seen light in years. "I’m not doing this afternoon again… We need like - like a sign. To show when things go wrong. If I say something you really. Something you don’t like. If you want to stop. We need a safe word."
A choked laugh escaped him, and it didn’t matter that Stiles grin was twisted. It was sincere. “Figured my big mouth would mess with things.”
The sense of loss was staggering and Scott curled into himself, hands fisted into his hair and pulling hard. This wasn’t what he wanted, confronting the problem was too much when it would be so much easier to just lose himself in his friend and ignore anything else but making him happy. He gave a low growl of frustration before finally going still.
The wolf took a steadying breath, pressing his face into Stiles’s arm. “A safe word? You’re kidding, right? This isn’t some kind of S&M play, Stiles, I don’t need a safe word. I don’t want to stop, I just had…it was just a little slip.” He’d ruined things, he could see it. The fragile hope of a future, the plans that he thought might actually be real and he’d shattered them.
Scott ran his thumb across Stiles’s bottom lip, heartbroken. “Your mouth is terrible and wonderful, but it hasn’t messed anything up. I’m the one who screwed it up, I wanted so badly to keep you and I just can’t.” He shifted, sliding his legs around the human and straddling his body and leaned down to kiss the line of his jaw. “I know what the right thing to do is, but I’m scared to let you go. I want you so much, Stiles…I can’t hurt you. I won’t hurt you.”
Doing the right thing sucked. It would have been so much easier to be selfish, he had every intention of choosing what he wanted over what he should, but looking down at this beautiful perfect human, he couldn’t go through with it. Anything it took to keep him safe, he’d do it willingly. Anything for Stiles. He bowed his body, resting his head against his friend’s chest and breathed in his scent before climbing over him and carefully getting to his feet. “Get out. Don’t come back, Stiles. I don’t need your help.”