It was during the rare day that Stiles was not helping him out, again to keep his father out of the loop, that Mr. Stilinski came to see him.
“Hey, Derek,” he said and Derek waited for him to continue. He looked concerned and opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. A moment later he began to speak but Derek suspected it had nothing to do with what he’d originally planned to say. “I just wanted to thank you. I know I pay you and you work for me—and God knows the work you do for me—but that doesn’t include putting up with my son as much as you do.”
Derek masked his emotions and merely shrugged.
“It’s nothing, sir. He does good work,” he said. The man nodded and shrugged himself.
“Be that as it may, I want to thank you myself. I’m making cowboy meatloaf with a side of sauteed zucchini and squash. Well, technically Stiles is making it—he does the cooking and he’s pretty damn good at it, if I do say so myself. But I’m inviting you. To thank you for all you do but also for giving Stiles a role model.”
Derek winced at this but Mr. Stilinski didn’t seem to notice. Finally Derek gave a nod, which the owner did notice and smiled.
“Thank you, sir.”
Mr. Stilinski shrugged. “Call me Mike,” he said. “It’s no problem. Be at the house around six.”
Derek watched as the older man and pushed away the guilt and shame now plaguing his body.
Derek reached the house a minute past six. He had been seriously considering not going. He was sure that the older man had extended the invitation as a way to confirm or deny his suspicions about him and his son. Apparently he had a death wish because here he was, raising a fist to knock at the door.
Mike came to the door and thanked him for coming, leading him into the dining room. He offered him a drink and Derek accepted with a nod and a word of thanks. The older man moved to the little bar, pouring them both glasses. He had just handed Derek his when Stiles walked in mid sentence.
“He dad, don’t you think this is a little too much for the two of—” He stopped, faltering as his eyes fell on Derek. He glanced between him and his father and cleared his throat. Forcing a smile, he moved forward and placed the food on the table. “Never mind then. But we are sending half the left overs with Derek. He can share the with the other workers.”
Derek watched as he took a deep drink. He had to hand it to the kid. Other than that slight bit at the door, Stiles was doing a perfect job masking his facial expressions—which for him, was a big thing.
“Alright, well,” he said. “I’ve got to get the bread, veggies, and tea. You guys can sit, take a load off.” He disappeared into the kitchen.
Derek waved at the other to sit. “I’ll help him.”
The older man raised his brows slightly. “You don’t have to do that.”
Derek flashed his full on smile. “My mom taught me. Can’t let her down, you know.”
The ranch owner nodded, his face a little sad but fully understanding. He two, had lost the loved one that filled the mother role in his son’s life and the wife role in his own.
“By all means.”
Derek nodded once and headed around the table and into the kitchen. Stiles was at the stove, moving the sauteed vegetables from the pan to a serving dish. He glanced at the kitchen door before moving in, wrapping his arms around the other’s waist, holding him close. He breathed in his hair and grinned at the smell of his own shampoo.
“I’m sorry. I thought you knew,” he said. Stiles had paused in his work and shook his head.
“No. But… but this is good. I mean, he’ll know one day so might as well be when he likes and knows you, right?”
Derek made a noise that could have been agreement or non-committal but he didn’t care. He was nuzzling at his neck as the other finished dishing out the food. The moment the pan and spoon were down, the other turned in his arms and reached up to cup his face in both his hands. They leaned in at the same time, lips meeting in the middle.
The kiss was soft, careless, but no less passionate than the others. Everything the felt for each other, was felt in this kiss as much as any other. The kiss ended but Derek pressed his head to Stiles’s and ran his nose along the teen’s, a rumble of happiness sounding. It had been far too long since he’d felt like this and he was almost dizzy. Finally, it was Stiles that had to push him away.
Turning to pick up the bowl with veggies, he pushed it into Derek’s hands and sent him away. Derek took a minute to steal himself before he left the kitchen, not looking at the owner as he placed the food on the table. He moved back around and took a seat as Stiles left the kitchen, carrying a pitcher of homemade sweet tea and the bread and butter on a bread board.
Derek tried to look indifferent but it was too new, seeing Stiles like this, a part of him wondering what it would be like to come home to this, every day. He then kicked himself mentally. Stiles was sixteen. He didn’t know what he wanted. He still had his whole life ahead of him. Why would he ever want to be tied down to a grumpy ranch hand for the rest of his life?
He looked up and glanced at Mike. Mike was looking at him with a little smile.
“We say grace at this table,” he said. “His mom liked too so we never go a meal without saying a little something, even if only for her.”
Derek nodded. His own mom had been a lot like that. Stiles and Mike both held out their hands to him and Derek took them, trying his best not to squeeze Stiles’s or rub the pad of his thumb across the back of his hand. He watched instead as they held each other’s hands.
“Would you like to?” Mike offered, and Derek shook his head. “No… I don’t really… words and I don’t really get along.” Mike chuckled softly.
Stiles nodded, his eyes rising to meet Derek’s. He smiled before closing his eyes and Derek took in his eyelashes. This wasn’t the first time he noticed them but from across this table, in this light, they seemed to shimmer in a way he’d never seen. Stiles began to pray and Derek closed his eyes out of respect.
“Father, we thank you for this meal, and for our continued good fortune on this ranch. We thank you for our workers, and we thank you for sending our newest hand to us. He is definitely worth his pay. Thank you for my father, who is an amazing dad and an even better ranch owner. Finally, thank you for watching over my mother and letting her watch over us. Amen.”
“Amen,” Derek and Mike echoed, the three of them pulling their hands back but not before Derek could slide his thumb against the back of Stiles’s hand. If the owner noticed, he pretended not to and said nothing.
“Guests first, Derek,” Mike said, and held out his hand for his plate. Derek passed it to him and glanced at Stiles, who was grinning, before looking back and taking his plate.
He got himself some veggies and bread, and tea and waited for the others before they all dug in. There was light conversation but mostly eating. The food was amazing and he decided that he would have to make Stiles cook for him one night at his place. He was chewing a particularly large bite when he felt Stiles’s foot slid up the inseam of his jeans. He coughed and Mike looked at him.
“You alright, Derek?”
Derek nodded and lifted his drink, glaring just once at Stiles but there wasn’t a lot of heat to it. His mouth—his smile gave him away.
“Yeah. Wrong pipe,” he managed and took another bite. Stiles kept at it and Derek glanced up, grinning. The two of them kept looking between each other and Mike, who was seemingly unaware of what was happening under his table, and more focused on his delicious meal.
Stiles brought a finger to his mouth, rubbing his lip as he grinned a little anxiously. Nervously. Derek just grinned right out and shook his head before returning to his food. Stiles took his foot away and conversation once again took over the table and well after all three had finished eating. Stiles rose to clear the table and put the food away, then to wash the dishes and Derek rose to help.
“Sit down, Derek,” Mike told him. “You’re a guest. Stiles has done that job for most of his life. I think he can handle it.”
Derek wanted to help though but he couldn’t give the other a valid reason without rising suspicion. He glanced at Stiles who gave a little nod and a smile to say it was fine.
The teen took away the last stuff and cleaned off the table with a washcloth before disappearing into the kitchen.
“So. Stiles tells me you guys watch movies and make popcorn when he goes over.”
Derek nodded. Like he’d tell him any different. Mike nodded as well and smiled at him. Derek could sense something off about the smile but it wasn’t strong enough for him to place.
“Are you sure he’s not bothering you? He doesn’t seem to think he is, but I know he doesn’t realize how he can be sometimes.”
Derek smiled. “No, it’s fine. I don’t mind. I don’t really get along with the other hands outside of work and even then its a little stiff, so it’s nice having someone around.”
Mike looked at him and once again he got the feeling he was holding back the words he really wanted to say. Finally he nodded and leaned back in his chair.
“Alright. Well, if he does, don’t hesitate to call him on it. My son or now, he has to learn some boundaries Some lines were just not meant to be crossed.”
Derek felt his mouth clench. There it was. The message hidden within a message. Derek looked at him innocently and merely nodded.
“Yeah, sure, sir,” he said. “If he ever annoys me, I’ll let him know.”
Just then, Stiles rushed in to save the day with pie and ice cream. They ate in silence, the silence not near as comfortable as it had been during dinner. When Stiles, cleared the table, Derek helped this time. Mike didn’t try to stop him and called it a night. Once they were sure he was gone, Stiles let out a groan of frustration.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, whispering. There was definite note of desperation in his words. “I didn’t… didn’t know he was going to do this.”
Derek reached out turning off the water, taking the cup he’d been strangling and setting it down. Taking his sudsy hands into his own, Derek leaned in and kissed him softly. He pulled away and shook his head.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s fine. He just worries. Dad’s do that. It’s their right. Besides, he has no proof.”
Stiles sighed and pressed into him. Derek wrapped his arms around him.
“I don’t want you to end it again,” he said, his voice vibrating into his shirt. Derek smiled despite himself.
“I should,” he said. He didn’t say anything for a few moments in which they were both silent, as if waiting for the verdict to drop. “I should, Stiles. But I can’t. I’m selfish. I don’t want to say no to you.”
Stiles looked up at him and curled his fingers into his shirt, tugging him closer. “Then don’t,” he whispered and kissed him hard. Derek responded by pushing him against the refrigerator, kissing back as good as he got, licking into the younger male’s mouth.
Things escalated from there and by the time Stiles was tugging his shirt out from his jeans, Derek reached down and stopped him.
“S-stop, can’t do this hear,” he said, even through needy, burning kisses. Stiles whimpered.
Derek really thought they should go to his place but then Stiles’s mouth was on his neck and Derek caved.
“Your room. Now.”