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This You and Me Thing

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Scott took a deep breath and tried to block out the blaring, bone-vibrating music and flashing lights, wishing for a switch he could flip to turn off his heightened senses. He tilted his chin toward his chest and squinted. Stiles often called it his I mean business, mister face.

“I’m not leaving you here alone, Stiles. Stop. Asking.” He had to shout to be heard over the music, even though Stiles was inches from him. At least Stiles didn’t have to shout back, thanks to his sensitive hearing. That could make for some awkward explaining if anyone overheard.

Stiles bounced his head forward and back to the music. “Dude, it’s Jungle, not a wilderness full of Kanimas and Argents and batshit undead werewolves with god complexes.” Stiles cringed a few seconds later. “Sorry.”

Scott shook his head. It was going to take a while for them to stop associating the name Argent with anything but monsters. He could only hope that Allison broke out of the family’s mold. She would, he corrected himself. Allison was different. “It’s okay.”

“So, you can really go if--”

“Damn it, Stiles!” Scott slapped his hand down on the bar, drawing a glare from the bartender. “There’s no way I’m leaving you alone here. Not after . . . everything. “ Not after you let your heart break over Lydia, yet again. “What kind of friend would I be?”

Stiles leaned against the bar and let his head roll until his ear touched his shoulder. “You wouldn’t be my Scotty,” he said. After a long silence that had them both smiling and fighting to see who could keep from looking away first, Stiles added, “But I’m only here to look out for Danny. He just got his heart smashed again, and he’s in a potentially vulnerable place. We’re doing him a solid by watching his back, that’s all.”

Scott smirked. Stiles had said all that as if he really thought Scott believed him. It was annoying but impressive. “Danny dated the guy for two weeks, Stiles.”

“Could have been an amazing two weeks?”


“All right, all right. He told Matt that he should meet him here tonight. I overheard them at practice.”

“He’s going on a date with Matt?”

Stiles shrugged. “It was more like hey, it’s our last summer practice, gonna celebrate at Jungle tonight, why don’t you show up, too.”

“Still a date. They’ve been looking at each other with bang-me eyes for months.” Scott shifted on the stool, about to ask why they were spying on Danny’s date, when Stiles motioned toward the people on the dance floor.

“Look at ‘em out there. Hot bodies all writhing together, bared skin and muscles and sweat, looking for people . . . who look just like them.” Stiles shook his head. “I’m pretty darned safe here.”

Even if Scott couldn’t smell the sudden misery that came over Stiles, they’d been friends forever. He saw the sadness other people missed.

“Nope, nobody in here wants to get all up on old Stiles.” He clapped Scott on the back. “Your worry is so misplaced. I should be the one guarding your ass. How many guys have hit on you in the last hour? Five?”

“Three.” It had been seven, but what Stiles didn’t know made both their nights easier. “And they were probably all creeps anyway.”

When Stiles kept staring at the crowd, a look of something like longing on his face, Scott elbowed him. “So why are we here if Matt’s coming, again? If it’s a date, it’s not like Danny’s going to get taken advantage of by some stranger. Danny hardly needs us to supervise his date.” Scott knew Stiles liked Jungle, and any excuse was good enough to come, but this was more than that. Scott could sense the worry on Stiles, among other things.

“Matt’s been asking a lot of questions,” he answered, turning back to Scott. “He showed me a couple pictures of you he snapped, supposedly for the yearbook. Your eyes, dude. He noticed, and seems a little too curious about it. We need to be careful. You know how well things went with the last person who figured it all out.”


“El Douche Supremo did not exactly make life easy for anyone, and that was before he became a Gerard Argent-controlled murdering lizard who ended up reborn as a werewolf. So I’m keeping an eye on Matt, in case he’s keeping an eye on you. Information gathering, Scotty boy. Reconnaissance. The fact that it brought me to Jungle, that’s just a happy accident.”

Scott looked over Stiles’ shoulder and flinched.

“You two are right to watch him.”

Stiles lurched forward, slamming into Scott, then whirled to face Derek.

“Oh, look. Derek’s here. Yay.” Stiles twirled his finger in the air before moving to Scott’s other side and huffing out a breath as he leaned both arms on the bar.

Derek glared at Stiles, watching him until Stiles stopped moving. Then he spoke to Scott. “It was a good idea to keep an eye on him.”

“My idea.” Stiles raised a finger high in the air. “Mine.”

“If he gets too close to the truth, we’ll have to figure out how to deal with him.” Derek addressed Scott as if Stiles weren’t even there.

Scott stiffened. “Deal with him? You mean--”

“Figure out how to handle the situation to keep everyone involved safe. Including him.” Derek rolled his eyes and leaned against the bar with one hand.

Stiles raised up to look over the top of Scott’s head. “He thought you were going to say kill him. It wouldn’t have exactly been a shock to hear you express such a sentiment, Derek.”

Derek rolled his eyes again and frowned at Stiles--Scott noticed how he always glared or frowned or stared at Stiles like his very existence caused him personal offense.

Stiles dropped back down as the bartender made his way to them. He smiled and wiped the bar in front of Scott, though it had looked perfectly clean and dry a minute ago. Scott found it hard not to look at the shiny fabric bulging out at the man's crotch. Scott wondered if he had a roll of socks in his pants, or if he wore those pouch underwear that pushed everything up and forward. A little voice in his head, one that sounded eerily like Stiles, suggested that sometimes a boner was just a boner.

“Another beer?” the guy asked. “Or do you wanna try something a little more exciting?”

Scott wasn’t an expert at having guys flirt with him, but this guy was flirting hard.

“Typical,” Stiles mumbled, softly enough that only Derek and Scott could have heard him.

“Um, okay. My girlfriend’s always hounding me to experiment a little, so why not.” It was a lie--he didn’t have a girlfriend anymore, and Allison had never made an issue out of trying new things when they were together. But he’d blanked on what else to say or do. It didn’t seem to discourage the bartender like he’d hoped.

Stiles giggled out, “She wants you to experiment, Scott? Way to say the right thing.” 

The bartender leaned forward. “Try a mixed drink. You can have a Redheaded Slut, a Slippery Nipple, a Screaming Orgasm, a Blow Job, a--”

“Whoa. Wow. All sex names, huh?” Scott kicked Stiles, who was making high-pitched noises that Scott hoped no one without werewolf hearing could pick up. Stiles pinched his leg where the bartender couldn’t see, making him jump. Before Scott could decide, Stiles did it for him.

“I think my friend should try a Blow Job. Please give him. His First. Blow Job.”

It was Scott’s turn to glare. He could hear Derek’s breathing change, and realized Derek was trying to swallow his mouthful of beer without coughing. Stiles’ grin was so wide it threatened to stretch all the way around his head. So Stiles and Derek thought this was cute, did they?

Scott flashed his best smile and leaned forward. “I don’t know. I’ve never really had anything besides beer and whiskey. Do Blow Jobs taste good?”

Stiles lowered his forehead to his clasped hands, shoulders shaking. The bartender blushed, said mine do, darlin’, and hurried away to make the drink.

Derek stared down at his hand. “Scott, do you ever . . . ever maybe stop and listen to yourself?”

After Stiles stopped laughing, Scott frowned and touched his temple, speaking slowly. “Dude, I hear every word I say.”

“Hey, hey, there he is.” Stiles shook Scott’s shoulder so he’d turn to see Matt making his way through the crowd. “I’m going to go run into him, completely coincidentally as a matter of serendipitous happenstance. Back in a bit.”

He stopped as he passed Derek. “Please remember every detail of the guy delivering Scott’s drink so I can die about it later. Please? Every innuendo and awkward twitch from Scott, okay?”

Derek sighed as if Stiles had just asked him to carve Mount Rushmore with a spoon. “Go--”

Before he finished, Stiles dashed away.

“Why are you here, Derek,” Scott asked after the silence between them stretched too long. At least now he didn’t have to shout to be heard.

“Watching out for you two idiots.”

“We don’t really need you to watch out for us.”

Derek finished his beer. “No? Like Stiles doesn’t need you to watch out for him and keeps telling you you’re free to go on home?”

So he’d heard some, if not all, of their conversation. Great.

“How many drinks has Stiles had?”


“How many guys has he danced or flirted with?”


“How many has he wanted to dance or flirt with?”

“About a dozen.”

“Any seem interested?”

“Not yet.”

Derek nodded, the corners of his mouth turning up a little. “Sounds like you’re watching out for him pretty carefully, despite his claim that you don’t need to. There’s something about taking your own advice, a quote I heard somewhere once.”

“Whatever, dude. Whatever.” Scott sighed, not nearly as put out by Derek’s presence as he wanted to be.

“You should brush up on your observational skills, Scott. There are three men here who are keeping a careful eye on Stiles.” He pointed each one out. Sure enough, they were watching Stiles, who danced almost in the center of the dance floor with Danny and Matt. Scott couldn’t help feeling proud as he watched Stiles dance--his best friend had moves.  

“Before Stiles leaves, I’ll bet at least one of them will try to make a move. Look at their faces.”

Derek was right. Two of the three watched Stiles with what could only be called hungry expressions.

“And you should have noticed me long before I approached you. Pay attention.”

Scott clenched his jaw at the harsher tone in Derek’s voice. The bartender chose that moment to deliver Scott’s drink, but his smile fell once he put it down. He walked away before Scott could drink it.

Derek laughed. He honest-to-god laughed. “There you go. If you’d given him that look before you could have avoided the awkward blow job conversation.”

“I’m not you, Derek. I don’t make a habit of scowling at people to get them to leave me alone.”

Something buzzed in his brain then as Derek scowled at him, case in point, and looked away. At the dance floor. At the tall, surprisingly graceful guy rolling his hips and waving his arms, and drawing stares from all over the bar. Scott leaned toward Derek and breathed in deeply. Derek’s pulse sped up a little as he watched Stiles, and his scent turned sharp and a little sweeter than before.

Wow. Holy freaking wow.

“Actually, Derek, there are four men here with their eye on Stiles.”

“Where?” He looked around waiting for Scott to point him out.

Scott stared at the back of Derek’s head until Derek turned to look at him. Derek didn’t glare, sigh, scowl, roll his eyes or huff. It was probably the most un-Derek-like look he’d ever given Scott.

Scott had two choices. Pretend he’d known all along, and this had been his plan to get the truth out of Derek. That’s what Stiles would have done--pretend he’d figured things out long ago and was cool enough to let the person fall right into his carefully placed trap. Or Scott could give in, let go and express himself with sincerity.

“Holy shit, dude! All this time, I thought that scent was only coming from Stiles!”


“Wait a minute, where is he?” Scott couldn't see Stiles now, even though he'd been gyrating in the middle of the dance floor a moment ago.

Derek scanned the crowd. “I think he’s in the bathroom.”

“How do you know?”

“His heartbeat. It’s not as fast as when he was dancing, and it’s coming from that direction.”

Scott wasn’t nearly as good as Derek at hearing things in a crowd, especially heartbeats. Maybe he’d never be as good as a born werewolf, but he was learning. He noticed Danny and Matt had stopped dancing and seemed to be talking a little too fast for normal conversation. Something seemed off. Matt’s face was decidedly not happy.

“Matt, over there--is he upset or what? Can you hear what they’re saying or tell by his heartbeat?”

“I can’t pick out their heartbeats to tell.” Derek cocked his head and listened. “The dark-haired kid seems a little upset that the light-haired one isn’t sure if he can come to some pool party.” He sighed. “Typical teenage bullshit.”

Scott sat down and tried to ignore the dig. “They’re closer than Stiles. How can you hear his heart and not theirs.”

“I can pick Stiles’ heartbeat out of a crowd because I’m so used to the sound of it.”

Scott tried not to smile. He failed. “I’ll bet you are.”

Stiles appeared between them, panting and sweaty, whatever drink he’d just had heavy on his breath. Scott wondered where he’d gotten it.

“Hey, Derek. You’re still here,” Stiles said, sounding purposefully unimpressed. Then he moved to Scott’s other side and plopped on a stool.

“You’re drunk,” Derek said.

“Not nearly.” Stiles bounced both legs, his knees almost hitting the lip of the bar, and beamed at Scott.

“What, Stiles?”

“I think I got Matt off your trail, I found out that he and Danny really do like each other--it’s kind of sweet even though there’s something about Matt I can’t put my finger on, I got us invited to Danny’s end-of-summer pool party in two days, and . . . I got hit on going to the bathroom by an incredibly hot guy.” Stiles wiggled his eyebrows, nodding.

Derek tensed and looked around, no doubt searching for the men he’d pointed out earlier to see if one of them could have hit on Stiles. The bartender left another beer in front of Derek and avoided looking at Scott.

Stiles whispered directly into Scott’s ear, softly enough that Scott knew he was trying to keep Derek from overhearing.

“He said he’d suck me so hard it’d pop my toes inside out.”

Derek spit his beer all over the side of Scott’s face. Clearly, extra-soft whispering wasn’t enough. Stiles leaned away, chewing his bottom lip.

“I’m going to go dry off,” Scott said, squinting at Derek, who hadn’t even said he was sorry yet. “Do not do anything or go anywhere without me, Stiles. I mean it!”

When Scott left, Derek found himself looking at his hand again, wondering if getting Scott and Stiles out of here tonight was going to be easy or hard. Stiles scooted over to sit where Scott had been.

“Well, he’s grumpy. Aww, he didn’t even try it yet.” Stiles gestured at Scott’s drink.

Derek raised an eyebrow when Stiles started on a fresh beer. “Stiles, you had another drink when you were on the dance floor. I can smell the sugar on your breath. Pineapple. Coconut.”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t list all the damn ingredients. Matt gave me his, Dad. He didn’t like it.”

“Do you know how stupid it is to take a drink from someone like that? What the hell were you thinking?”

“Whoa, whoa, Danger Ranger. It’s Matt, not some . . . wait. I know how that sounds,” Stiles said, shaking his head and waving a hand between them. “But it’s really fine. He’s my age, in my school, and out there with Danny and working on an actual relationship. He’d have no reason to Mickey somebody like me. Doesn’t work that way, dude.”

Derek rubbed his forehead. “Somebody like you? You say that as if there’s something wrong with you, and there’s not.”

“Hey, no, I’m fucking wonderful, but most people just see a loud, skinny guy with slightly obsessive tendencies and never look past that to the amazing human being that is me. Look, even if Matt were someone who would ever do such a thing, and I don’t think he is, he’s not going to drug me when it’s pretty clear he’ll soon be granted access to Danny’s god-like bod without having to drop anything into his drink. Don’t be so paranoid.”

Derek sighed. “You are loud and obsessive, but you’re not exactly skinny. You’re more . . . lean.” Lean, Derek thought, and filling out in interesting ways. Stiles had been skinny a couple of years ago, but not anymore. Adjectives starting with L kept springing to mind. Lean. Lithe. Limber. Damn it.

“Lean.” Stiles snorted, then finished the beer he’d just gotten. “You know, when people buy lean cuts of beef, it’s because they’re cutting out the delicious fat and watching their cholesterol to keep their arteries from clogging. They’re on a diet, Derek. Nobody really wants the lean meat. They’d much rather have the prime choice stuff like Danny, or you, or most everybody in here. Prime beef. Nicely marbled. Tender. Juicy . . . .”

Stiles’ mouth hung open a little as he stared, maybe realizing what he’d just said. Derek noticed that Stiles was starting to slur a little, and when Scott came back they were leaving whether they wanted to or not. He was relieved when someone tapped his shoulder, drawing his attention away from Stiles’ lips.

“Hi, I’m Jeff,” the man said. “Can I buy you a drink?”

Jeff was tall, muscular, with dark hair and thick, dark stubble. His eyes weren’t green, and he wasn’t a werewolf, but other than that, Derek realized, the man looked almost like him.

“I’m not here to pick anyone up.”

Jeff smiled and started to say something, but Derek knew how to get people to leave him alone with a simple look or well-chosen word. A few tense seconds later, Jeff shrugged and walked away.

“Wow. Not your type, huh.” Stiles didn’t make it sound like a question so much as an observation. At least his mouth wasn’t hanging open anymore.


“Hmm. Me? I like guys.” Stiles sighed and tried to drink out of his empty bottle.

Derek frowned at him. “That’s not--”

“Hey,” Scott said. “When did Matt and Danny leave?”

Derek hadn’t noticed. He also hadn’t noticed Scott until he’d wedged his head between them. God damn it.


After Stiles slumped in the passenger seat, unhappiness a thick perfume around him, and Scott started the jeep, Scott looked at Derek with wide eyes. “Hey, I smell like beer, thanks to you, and don’t want to get a DUI. if I got pulled over for some reason, they’d smell me and see Stiles and they’d probably test me. Would the alcohol show up? I mean, I’m not drunk, obviously, but I can’t explain that to them.”

Stiles leaned over Scott, looking between him and Derek, slurring even though he was trying to enunciate carefully. “That’s an excellent question, Scotty. Do your canine wiles metabolize the alcohol super-fast and that’s why you don’t get drunk, or does the alcohol take just as long to disappear from your system even though your wolfie bodies render it essentially inert?” Stiles raised his eyebrows ridiculously high and looked back and forth, clearly waiting for an answer.

“How can you still talk that way when you’re drunk?” Scott put his hand on Stiles' face and pushed him back into his seat.

“I don’t know how it works, exactly,” Derek said, silently convincing himself not to mention the canine wiles remark and get into that kind of a discussion with Stiles. “Shut up,” he added, when Stiles opened his mouth to most likely criticize him yet again for not knowing something no one had bothered to tell him.

“Get in the back,” he told Scott. “I only had a beer and a half.” Derek would drop Scott of first, then Stiles, then walk back for the Camaro.

It was sprinkling by the time he pulled into the Stilinski driveway. Derek had sensed Stiles’ slight tension once they’d dropped Scott off and they were left alone. Now, he didn’t seem nearly as drunk as before. Stiles flinched at a sudden burst of thunder, then stretched and yawned.

“Hey, man. Thanks. Sure you don’t want to take the Jeep home, since it’s raining? You can bring it back tomorrow and I’ll drive you to get your car.”

“I’ll run. I don’t want to leave my car at Jungle all night.”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah, probably not a good idea.” He took the keys from Derek. Before his feet hit the ground, rain beat down hard enough that Derek, even running, would be soaked in seconds. “At least come in until this lightens up a little?”

Derek nodded and ran behind Stiles. Stiles' soaked flannel ended up in a wet mound next to his shoes inside the door, while Derek just shook his arms a little on the porch to get most of the water off his jacket. He always felt better, a little more protected, when he kept it on.

“Come on. I need to eat something.”

Derek followed him to the kitchen. Stiles seemed even steadier now, maybe thanks to the cold rain. He piled what smelled like chicken casserole onto two plates and microwaved each one, then pushed one with a fork in front of Derek.

“Thanks,” Derek said, after tasting a small bite. “It’s good.”

“Don’t sound so surprised. I can be useful when I wanna.”

“I know you can.”

“Not only can I cook mostly edible foodstuffs, I can also figure things out that people might not want me to figure out.” Stiles held his gaze while he shoved a huge forkful of food into his mouth.

“Yeah?” was all Derek managed in reply, because he had no idea where Stiles was going with this.

“Yep. I’ve got you all figured out. You think I don’t, but I do.”

Derek froze, fork halfway to his mouth.

“I’ve had Scott figured out since we were in kindergarten, and now I know what’s up with you, too.” Stiles kept eating, as if he weren’t possibly talking about something that could alter the course of Derek’s very life here in Beacon Hills.

“What’s up with me, Stiles? Do. Tell.” He regretted how hard those words sounded, but he couldn’t help it. Anger was a defense mechanism he couldn’t disarm just yet. He still needed it too often, especially with Stiles. Because if he could be angry, that would keep out the other things he didn’t have the luxury of feeling.

“You, deep down in your wolfy heart, secretly just want to be liked.”

Derek snorted, both out of relief and surprise.

“No, I’m serious. You probably give pretend Sally Field Norma Rae speeches in the shower with a shampoo bottle for a microphone, pretending that Scott is front and center in the audience. You like me, you really like me! You pout and sulk and glare and scowl and grunt and give sour-ass looks like you’re the only evolved species in a sea of dirty little microbes, but you really want people to like you, especially Scott.”

Derek twirled his fork in the few bites of casserole left on his plate. At least Stiles had only figured out something he could admit to, sort of. “It doesn’t matter whether Scott likes me or not, as long as he listens to me.”

“No, damn it, you want him, you want people, to genuinely like you. That’s your big bad secret. I have unlocked it with kick-ass awesome wisdom. You’re an open book to me now, buddy.” Stiles finished his food.

"Stiles, you're the one telling me how grumpy and mean I am all the time. If I wanted everyone to like me so badly, wouldn't I be nice instead?"

Stiles pointed at him with his fork and a finger of his other hand. "You are so often a monumental dickbag."

"Thank you so much. I'm glad we had this little chat." Derek scowled but didn't move to leave.

"And it's because you're scared. Yeah, don't look at me like that. You're not going to intimidate me away from the truth."


"Oh, yeah. You stack the odds by acting like an asshole and giving people a reason not to like you, one that's easy to deal with. So you never have to deal with someone not liking you for actual real reasons. You can always tell yourself he doesn't like me because I always call him an idiot or he doesn't like me because I always look at him like I want to eat his heart. Derek, I totally get it. You're always trying to help people, but you don't think it's good enough, and you reject them instantly with your angry eyebrows so you never have to deal with them rejecting you. That's so much easier than trying."

Derek's tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He'd had no idea how clearly Stiles saw through him. In fact, Stiles had just laid Derek open and pointed out all his inner workings in a way Derek wasn't even sure he could have done half as well. “Okay, fine.”


“I want certain people to like me. A few. Most, I really don’t think about.”

“Close enough,” Stiles all but shouted. “I knew it!” He jabbed his fork into the air. “God, I’m good.”

“And so delightfully humble. How do you do it?”

Stiles chuckled and put their plates in the sink. “You were harder to figure out than Scott, you know. That’s impressive.”

“What’s Scott’s deep dark secret, oh wise one? Please enlighten me.” And damn it if Derek wasn’t actually curious about what Stiles would say.

“He’s a clever son of a bitch, even though he struggles in school sometimes. Clever and book-smart aren’t the same thing.” Stiles tossed that out there like it was a huge revelation, then headed for the stairs, still talking, clearly expecting Derek to follow. “He’s earnest, kind and concerned with everyone around him, and sometimes he says the doofiest things imaginable. But it’s not because he’s not smart. It’s because Scott will always see a straight line as the simplest path between two points, so he goes for simple first every time. It’s actually a smart way to be, if you think about it. If the simplest answer doesn’t work, then he levels up.”

Stiles had clearly given this a lot of thought. Derek weighed Stiles’ words, feeling the truth of them, even as he was distracted by Stiles peeling off his slightly damp T-shirt and plopping onto his bed.

“And before he speaks, moves or breathes heavily, he considers how it’s going to make other people feel. Nobody cares more about people who couldn’t give a shit about him more than my Scotty boy. Probably why we’re best friends. We click together like two puzzle pieces. He has what I don’t, and vice versa. I just don’t understand why everything I have is the stuff that people don’t like much.” Stiles fumbled with the button on his pants, then stood to make it easier.

God, was he going to strip right there? What was with this newfound comfort around Derek? Just the alcohol? Stiles probably should never drink if it could affect him that deeply, that quickly.

“Stop it. You two aren’t that different when it comes to caring about people.” Derek still stood in the doorway, trying not to watch Stiles slide his pants down his legs and struggle to kick them off over his shoes.

“Here’s how different we are, Derek. If Scott noticed your fly was unzipped right before you had to go make a speech in front of a thousand people, he’d do everything in his power to quietly let you know, no matter how it made him look. He’d try to zip it for you, even if it looked to a thousand people like he was just trying to feel you up. He’d make himself a human shield between your crotch and the crowd, even if it made him look like a clown. All in the name of sparing you a little embarrassment. I, on the other hand, would most likely shout Oh my god, dude, your dick.”

“So, you’re a smart ass with a smart mouth. Tell me something I don’t already know. Doesn’t mean you don’t actually care about people.”

“I care about certain people, Derek. A few. Most, I really don’t think about,” he said, throwing Derek’s words back at him. “I have a sort of limited capacity for caring. Not a wide net. Scott would do everything he could to save the world. I’d just be worried about my family and friends.”

Derek took a step through the door. “Your pack.”

“Yeah. Then maybe I’d spare a thought for the rest, but I couldn’t promise anything.”

“There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way, Stiles. I think a lot of people do. I do.”

“It’s selfish. We’re selfish.” Stiles sat on the bed, still kicking at the pants caught at his ankles.

Derek couldn’t take it anymore. He crossed the room in two long strides and dropped to one knee to pull Stiles’ shoes off. “You’re not selfish, not when it counts. Don’t even try to convince me of that.”

“But, I am. I--”

“You’re so god damn selfish that you hid the fact you were beaten by Gerard Argent to keep your friends from being upset. You so selfishly dealt with it all on your own, first to keep Scott away from Argent, and then to keep Scott or Allison from suffering mental anguish over your pain.”

Stiles stared, open-mouthed.

“You selfish little ass, you. How horrible. Now shut up.” He lifted Stiles’ legs, forcing him back onto the bed, then pulled the covers up over him. Derek had the urge to put his fingers under Stiles’ chin and push up to close his mouth. “Did you really think no one would find out?”

“Boyd and Erica,” Stiles whispered.

“When Chris Argent released them, first thing Erica did was contact me, worried about you. She cried while she told me.” Derek didn’t know why he told him that until Stiles starting blinking a little too fast. He needed Stiles to realize how much people cared about him. “And if Gerard hadn’t already been dealt with . . . he would have paid for what he did to you. Scott doesn’t corner the market on caring, Stiles. You care about people. They--we--care about you.”

Stiles face cycled through several emotions. He fidgeted in the bed. Derek guessed he was probably rethinking every interaction between him and Stiles over the summer, analyzing each one alongside this new information that Derek knew what happened to him. Or maybe he was just drunk and trying to find words to say something else entirely.

“Scott know?”

“It’s not my place to tell him, though I’ve been tempted.”

“Don’t, okay?”

“Okay. But you know you should.”

He knew Stiles wouldn’t. After a silence that went on too long, Stiles sighed. “Oh my God . . . I forgot, that guy at the club! Aw, I could have had a blow job.”

“Should have drunk Scott’s. Now sleep it off.” Derek left before Stiles managed a comeback.


Deaton and Melissa kept Scott busy for the next two days, so by the time Stiles picked him up to take him to Danny’s party, he thought he might burst. He hadn’t wanted to discuss Derek tucking him into bed over the phone. In fact, he wasn’t sure he wanted to discuss it all, it’s just that he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Hey,” Scott said as he crawled into the Jeep. “So, okay, this might like seem like a strange question, but how’d it go? When Derek dropped you at home, I mean? He didn’t, uh, slam your head into the steering wheel again or anything, did he?”

Stiles snorted. He’d told Scott about that, while pointing out that Scott had hit him harder than that many times. Still, it was something to complain about involving Derek, and he’d embraced it at the time. “Why didn’t you text or call if you were worried about it?”

“Stiles.” Scott’s voice held a warning. “Answer the question.” Then Scott gave Stiles his I mean business, mister face. For years, Stiles had pretended it was a face that could garner cooperation from anybody. It actually made Stiles want to giggle, but he’d never tell.

“Oh my god, you wanted to hear my heartbeat when you asked me! What, did you think Derek would beat me up and I’d lie about it?”

“I didn’t think Derek would beat you up. Just answer the damn question!”

“Fine. He came in because it started pouring rain, and--”

“He came in? With you? With your dad at work? What--”

“Jesus, Scotty, let me finish! He came in and ate with me, and then, dude, he helped me get undressed, and like, he tucked me into bed and left.”

Stiles had to slow down, because looking at the crazy face Scott was making now made it difficult to focus on driving. “You’re going to bust a vein or something, Scott. Knock it off.”

“He undressed you?” Scott shouted as if Stiles were two blocks away instead of right next to him.

“He helped. I guess I was a little out of it and couldn’t get my pants over my shoes.”

“Jesus, Stiles.”

“Yeah. And then he pulled the covers up to my chin and told me to go to sleep.”

Stiles glanced back and forth between the road and Scott several times, worried, because Scott went quiet and shifted to his that’s total bullshit stare.

“Okay, we talked about some things I’m not going to repeat. That’s what I left out, so if my heart sounds odd, that’s why.” He hoped Scott could hear the truth in that.

Scott nodded, apparently satisfied. They’d already pulled up to Danny’s when Scott broke the silence. “Did you want him to undress you?”

Stiles gaped. Scott raised an eyebrow and grinned.

“Scott, you sounded like you wanted to kill him when you thought he had. What would have been so awful if . . . he had? And yes, I know I didn’t answer your question. But you know. Your werewolf scent-fu skills. I know you know.”

Scott nodded and scratched his stomach. “I know you’ve got a thing for Derek, yeah.” He held up his hand when Stiles started to protest that it wasn’t a thing, it was just that Derek was hot and he had eyes. “And him undressing you--wow, it almost physically hurts me to even think it, let alone say it. Anyway, him doing that isn’t, by itself, such an awful thing. Even if you slept with Derek, as long as you really wanted to . . . it’s okay.”

Stiles knew Scott would always have his back, but hearing it plainly spoken made him feel warm inside. Until Scott turned in the seat, put his arm on the back of Stiles’ seat, and leaned forward, his voice tight. “It’s not the sex that would be the problem, Stiles. It’s what would happen afterward that would be awful. I don’t want to see him hurt you. And since it’s Derek we’re talking about, the odds of that happening seem pretty high.”

“Hurt me? Like, not send flowers or not call or something? Scott . . . .” Stiles sighed and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “I’m not a blushing maiden who’d need to be coddled and told I’m precious. I’m just a guy. A really, incredibly, maddeningly horny guy. I don’t need romance. Friction will do.”

Scott opened his door and slid out. “You’re so full of shit, your eyes are brown.”

“That’s not even clever.”

“True. But you’re not romantic, huh? Lydia. Martin. Destroyed that argument in two words.”

Stiles grabbed Scott’s arm before they were halfway to the backyard. “Scott . . . I’m not in love with Derek or anything. He’s hot. End of story, really.”

Scott put his hands on Stiles’ shoulders. “It’s really amazing to me that you believe what you’re saying. But I’ve known you practically my whole life. You may think you just want friction, but I’m telling you . . . you’re going to need more than that. So I hope you hold out for someone who has something more to give.”

Stiles threw his hands in the air. “This from the guy who used to giggle every time someone said the words pole, hole or crack. Allison’s influence has forever ruined you for these guy-to-guy talks, you realize that.”

“You’re lying. I can tell.” Scott pulled him into a hug, and leaned back and forth, rocking Stiles and laughing. “Bro hug it out!”

Stiles laughed and pushed at Scott, trying to get out of his grip, when Danny shouted at them from the backyard. “When you two idiots are done making out . . . we need a couple more for Marco Polo.”

Danny’s party wasn’t quite up to Lydia Martin standards, as Lydia kept pointing out to people, but it was close. Jackson brought Lydia, who so far hadn’t dipped a toe in the water and still looked as perfectly coiffed as ever. Stiles didn’t worship her anymore, but he still admired her and found her absolutely beautiful. And it still burned a little every time Jackson put an arm around her or kissed her. But it was almost the memory of how badly it used to hurt instead of fresh hurt, and that memory hurt because it reminded Stiles how much things had changed.

After a couple of hours of swimming and a little drinking--Stiles wanted to be able to drive home, so he set himself a limit and stopped--Scott elbowed him. Matt had finally shown up. Danny greeted him when he came through the gate and shoved a cup in his hand. He leaned in, Stiles thought Danny was going to kiss him, but he whispered in Matt’s ear and pulled him forward toward the group around the pool.

“Hey, Matt,” Scott said, giving him a little wave. “Wow, Stiles, he’s super nervous about something. His heart’s pounding, and he smells . . . almost sick.” Scott tilted his head a little, then whispered to Stiles. “Danny’s asking him if he wants to borrow some trunks, but Matt says he doesn’t want to swim, not to worry about it . . . wow, he’s getting worse.”

Stiles didn’t need Scott to explain what was happening. He could see Danny trying to talk Matt into swimming, and Matt getting more and more agitated.

“You know what his heart sounds likes, Stiles? It--”

“He’s gonna have a panic attack.” Stiles was on his feet and headed toward Matt before Scott could say anything else. “Hey, Matt, can I talk to you about something? Sorry, Danny, it’ll just take a minute.” He pulled at Matt’s arm and felt no resistance. They headed into the house where Matt collapsed into a chair.

“Try to breathe slow and easy, man. You feel like you’re gonna die, but it’s okay. Nothing’s really gonna happen. I have these sometimes, and it’s horrible, but they pass. Maybe you already know, because it’s not your first.” He knelt in front of the chair but didn’t touch Matt. So this is what kept niggling at Stiles, what he couldn’t put his finger on. He and Matt had a lot in common.

Matt nodded frantically and struggled to breathe. But getting inside away from Danny had helped. He started to calm faster than Stiles could have. Stiles got him a glass of water and knelt again.

“Thanks,” Matt finally said, once his breathing was almost normal. “You have them, too?”

“Yep. I’m a regular pro at this point. But no matter how many I’ve had, each one feels like a new kind of hell. You okay, now? Want to, uh, talk about it?”

Matt shook his head. “And tell you all my secrets, Stilinski? I’d probably end up regretting that one day.”

“Maybe.” Stiles laughed. “But maybe you should tell Danny? Because it’s obvious he’s into you, and you seemed so nervous . . . .”

“It’s the pool. I can’t--I don’t swim. And I don’t intend to try,” he pointed out, when Stiles started to suggest swimming lessons might help. For not wanting to share all his secrets, Matt kept talking. “It’s not fear of water because I can’t swim, it’s that I . . . I drowned once, and had to be resuscitated. People stood around the pool thinking it was no big deal, until I didn’t come up.”

Matt laughed, the unhappiest sound Stiles had heard in a long time, and rubbed his hand over his face, then took a drink of water. His hand shook so the glass clicked against his teeth.

Stiles cringed in sympathy. “That’s one of the most horrible things I’ve ever heard.”

“Um, thanks?” Matt laughed, and it sounded less bitter. “I can’t even handle bathtubs. And if you tell anyone, I’ll take a compromising picture of you somehow and make you an Internet sensation.”

“I like your style, dude. It’s smart-assed and decisive. Look, I won’t tell anybody. But it’s not exactly something to be ashamed of. If someone got hurt in a fire, I wouldn’t expect them to feel comfortable roasting weenies and marshmallows around one.” Stiles realized he was thinking of Derek as he came up with the analogy. “That’d be only natural. And anyone who doesn’t think so is an asshole.” Stiles stood up. “Danny’s a good guy. He’s not going to think any different of you for not wanting to subject yourself to past freaking trauma. Trust him, man.”

“Yeah,” Matt breathed.

“Yeah. Because he keeps looking in the window at us, like he wants to come in here and knock me out, and carry you bridal-style to his secret lair, strip your clothes off and--”

Creepily specific, Stilinski.” Matt tilted his head and smiled. He glanced at the window. Stiles had to laugh when Danny spun around like he hadn’t just been peeking at them.

Stiles patted his shoulder. “It’s how I roll.”


Scott pried for details when Stiles came back outside. Stiles filled him in, leaving out the stuff he’d promised not to tell anyone, and assured Scott he thought everything would be fine. He watched Matt and Danny for a while, enjoying their flirting from afar. They looked good together, and they each obviously had good taste.

Danny had dimples you could lose a limb in, and dark eyes, hooded, that gave him the look of always being a little bit drowsy. Soulful eyes, Stiles thought. And it didn’t hurt that his body was cut like a diamond.

He’d never really looked at Matt that much before today, but when he’d been having his attack, Stiles had noticed how pretty his blue eyes were, and how his heart-shaped face was so cute, and . . . yeah, Matt was kind of adorable. Sarcasm only made him more appealing, in Stiles’ opinion.

They’d make a pretty hot pair. Stiles hoped it worked out.

A couple of hours later, after he and Scott had drip-dried for a while, Stiles walked around the house to find Danny and tell him they were leaving. He rounded a corner to see Danny and Matt moving closer to each other. Danny’s hand was on Matt’s shoulder, his thumb stroking Matt’s neck. Stiles jerked back around the corner.

“I’m glad you told me. I thought you didn’t want to come tonight because you really didn’t like me that much.”

Stiles closed his eyes. “This is a private moment,” he whispered to himself. He peeked around the corner. “An incredibly private moment, Stiles, that you should not be watching.” He stayed in place, but he mentally scolded himself for it.

Matt let his hands slip around Danny’s waist. “Oh, I like you. That’s why I was so nervous about telling you.” Matt leaned forward. “Some people might think I’m weak, and I didn’t know . . . .”

“You survived drowning,” Danny said with a laugh in his voice. “I think that makes you pretty strong.”

Matt beamed. “And I like the way you think.”

Danny kissed him, both hands cupping Matt’s face. Stiles watched from his spot around the corner. Awww, and I helped. They’re really sweet together, especially--okay, Matt’s hands can really travel, can’t they? He’s got a handful of Danny’s ass, and whoa, where’s his other hand? I--

Stiles was spun around, a hand clamping over his mouth just in time to keep him from shouting. Derek’s face was a few inches from his.

“What are you doing?” Derek whispered, but his whole face was freaking shouting. And he didn’t move his hand to let Stiles answer, leaving him only able to shake his head. Derek pulled him away from the corner, almost dragging him to where Scott waited. When he finally moved his hand, Stiles gasped for air.

“Jesus, Derek.”

“Spying on people,” Derek said, clicking his tongue.

Stiles thought pot kettle black oh jesus christ you did not just but something had broken between his brain and his tongue. He managed a few indistinct gurgling noises and gave up. When Derek smiled at him, he scoffed, mostly to cover his gasp of surprise. Derek’s smile was completely, beautifully unfair.

Scott crossed his arms. "Derek, I didn’t know you were invited. We were actually just about to leave.”

Matt came around the corner of the house and nodded in Stiles’ direction, a little smile on his face. Stiles gave him a thumbs up. Danny followed a few seconds later.

“Hey, Miguel! Did you need to borrow some trunks?” Danny looked Derek up and down, but at least he had the grace to look guilty about it. Oh, of course, Danny was eager to get Miguel to join in and swim so he could see him shirtless again. Everybody’s hot for Miguel. Great sitcom name, Stiles thought.

Derek managed to sound pleasant enough while explaining to Danny he’d just stopped by to find Stiles, couldn’t stay, wasn’t going to swim, thanks anyway. He actually sounded human with normal human responses. Stiles was impressed.

Until Derek leveled his gaze at Stiles, the mouth that had smiled so brightly a few moments ago now a tight line of oh, how I’d like to smash your face in.

“Miguel?” Scott raised his eyebrows and looked at Stiles as if to say que?

When Danny walked away, he took Matt’s hand. Stiles cheered inwardly, then realized Derek was still boring holes into his face with eyes that seemed to show a touch of red.

Stiles shrugged. “What? He was the one calling you Miguel. I didn’t say a word.”

“But you started it.”

Scott lifted his hands. “What the hell? Miguel who?”

“Long story.” Stiles shook his head, then asked Derek, “What are you doing here, anyway? Wait--were you following Matt?”

Derek shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “Yes.”

“Dude, I told you I had him off the trail. Would it kill you to trust someone for a change?” The minute it was out, Stiles regretted it. He hadn’t meant anything, but intent didn’t really matter when you said something that stupid. He opened his mouth and shook his head, trying to form an apology that was good enough.

Derek took a deep breath before answering. “Yeah, it might, and a lot of other people, too.” He stomped to the gate and left, with Stiles still cringing and wishing he could take it back.

“Poor choice of words on my part.”

Scott shrugged. “He shouldn’t be so sensitive.”

“About the death of his whole family?” Stiles wondered if it was Derek’s alpha status that stuck in Scott’s craw, or the way they never agreed on anything really important, but he wished Scott could give Derek a break now and then. It bothered Stiles that Derek seemed to be the one person on the planet Scott didn't give two shits about. It had to be an act, or at least an exaggeration. Despite all their differences, Derek had never done anything but try to help him. “Scott. Come on.

“Oh, I know.”


Coming to Jungle alone had seemed like such a capital idea. And it wasn’t as if he hadn’t tried to get Scott to come along. He told Scott he thought Matt and Danny were going to be there tonight.

“But Stiles, you said Matt was off the trail. What possible reason could we have for watching them now?”

“Follow-up! It was reconnaissance before, now it’s follow-up. Don’t quit your day job for a life of intrigue and espionage, my friend.”

Scott couldn’t come tonight--work at Deaton’s and then dinner with Allison on the sly. They weren’t back together, but she’d agreed to dinner. There was no way Scott was missing that, not for follow-up, at least. Scott told him not to go.

“Yeah, okay. Some other time, maybe. Got a hankering in my bones for a few World of Warcraft quests, anyway. Yep. Just me and computer-simulated fantasy creatures and snacks, all night long.” At least Scott couldn’t hear his heartbeat over the phone.

He didn’t wear flannel this time, on Danny’s advice. When he’d danced with Matt and Danny, and they’d asked what he was doing there, Stiles said he was just lookin’ for some action. He’d winked and nodded, as if he knew what the hell he was talking about. Danny told him he might actually see some if he dressed a little differently.

Stiles wore dark blue slacks and a black, long-sleeved pullover. It was thin, made from T-shirt material, and tighter than anything else he owned. His grandma had sent both his last birthday, and because they were both snug he’d forgotten about them in the back of his closet. “Gotta write Grandma another thank-you note,” he mumbled at his reflection in the mirror. He stood straight and turned a little to see other angles, remembering what Derek had said to him. “So . . . lean. M’kay. Why not.”

It took a few deep breaths and an aggressive self-pep-talk in the parking lot, but soon Stiles was sitting at the bar. And Danny had been so right. He’d had a hard time getting people to notice him before, but in a tight, black shirt instead of a tee and a flannel, he was getting a lot of attention. He’d only had time to consider how incredibly nervous he was about the men who’d moved in close, hovering around him, when one bought him drink.

Stiles thanked him, even though the guy was easily 50 and smelled a little bit like moldy cheese.

“He’s not drinking, so take it and do whatever you want with it.” Erica grabbed the drink and pushed it against the guy's chest, sloshing most of it out onto his shirt.


Erica ignored him and told the bartender, “Give this one a soda, no booze.”

When Stiles got over his surprise enough to speak, he said, “What the hell? I mean, not that I minded you getting rid of that guy, but soda?”

“Soda,” Boyd said from behind Stiles.

“You guys come to the gay club often, do you?”

“We’re on Stiles detail.” Boyd opened a package of pretzels.


“Derek.” Erica reached across Stiles and snagged the pretzel from Boyd’s hand. Boyd smiled at her as if she’d just done something marvelous.

“How did Derek--son of a bitch. Scott.”

“Pack look out for each other. Even if they don’t think they’re actually pack.” Boyd crunched into a pretzel, never looking at Stiles.

Erica mussed his hair. “Your bro Scott broke his neck to tell Derek he thought you’d be coming here alone, and Derek practically popped a nut ordering us to rush over here and keep an eye on you.” Erica put a red-tipped finger over Stiles’ lips when he started to speak. “He and Isaac were on the trail of a scent Derek picked up this afternoon, an Omega. Derek wanted to make sure it passed through without stopping. Or I’m sure he’d have raced over here and monitored you himself. But since he didn’t . . . you get to dance with me.”

Erica giggled and pulled Stiles out onto the dance floor. Stiles thanked his lucky stars and his grandma that his clothes were snug enough to prevent life-ruining embarrassment as Erica rubbed up against him. She didn’t just dance--she undulated around his body with hers in ways nobody could have resisted.

When he realized a half-boner wasn’t something anybody took note of on the dance floor--most people had one--Stiles let go and danced for all he was worth, and Erica seemed to love every second of it.

“Boyd doesn’t really dance,” she said, before turning and rubbing her bottom against Stiles’ groin.

Jesus, Erica. Defcon freaking five.” He pushed just enough to separate them. “One, Boyd’s watching. Two, Boyd’s watching. Three, I’m a human, seventeen-year-old male. You can’t do that and not expect . . . male things to happen. While Boyd’s watching.

“Doesn’t bother me,” she said, her painted lips stretched in a broad smile. Now her front rubbed against his front, and Stiles gulped down a breath. The only thing left to do to keep himself from going full-boner . . . .

“I know you told Derek about . . . Gerard. I was already out of there, so it’s not like he needed to know to save me or anything. So . . . thanks.”

Erica already had her arms around Stiles neck. She stopped dancing long enough to pull him into a tight hug. “And I know you contacted Chris Argent as soon as you were out, you threatened him, to be sure we were released. So . . . thanks.”

Stiles nodded, blinking when he felt the slight burn of tears in his eyes. “I, uh, I need a drink. Of soda. You coming?”

“Nah.” Erica bounced on her toes and eyed two men dancing near them. “I’m just getting warmed up. Don’t take too long!” She grabbed the nearest man and wrapped her leg around his hip, while grabbing the other by the arm and pulling him behind her.

When Stiles got back to the bar, Boyd dipped his head in a quick nod, then looked back toward Erica. She was sandwiched between the two guys and appeared to be having the time of her life. Stiles took several swallows of his Coke and a few deep breaths.

They watched Erica for a few minutes, neither of them speaking. If Stiles didn’t know Erica, he’d think they were having a three-way on the dance floor in front of his very eyes. “She’s . . . enthusiastic,” he said. “And so smokin’ hot.”

“You should know. You had your hands all over her.” Boyd’s voice was so calm he could have been ordering aluminum siding.

“She put them there! I swear! You know how aggressive she is. Oh my god, are you going to pound me into a little pile of pain and bodily fluids?

Boyd chuckled, which was always a pleasant surprise. “She can dance however she wants, with whomever she wants. As long as she goes home with me.”

Stiles nodded. “Gotcha.”

“Hey, Batman!” Erica motioned for Stiles to come back to the dance floor, swinging her hips and shaking her hair.

“The lady hath summoned me,” Stiles said. Erica wrapped him in her arms as soon as he was near enough, and pulled another guy behind her.

“You do like to be the filling, don’t you?” Stiles laughed. The guy behind Erica really got into the grinding and rubbing. And the making fuck-me eyes at Stiles.

Stiles gazed back, and gave this his best attempt at seduction. He tried not to think of Blue Steel in Zoolander, even though the way the guy looked at him made him think of it. If he thought too much about it, he’d crack up and ruin the moment. Fuck-me eyes. Sultry. Smokin’. Horny. Blue--heh, no, no. Fuck. Me. Eyes.

Derek spotted Boyd as soon as he walked into Jungle, heard his heartbeat as well as Erica’s and Stiles’. Before he reached the bar, he’d found them on the dance floor. Them and someone he didn’t know.

“Find the Omega?” Boyd held out his baggie of pretzels.

“Must have passed through.” Derek shook his head at the pretzels. “Thanks for coming. Isaac’s at home, pouting because I told him I wasn’t staying, so there was no need for him to come.” Derek smiled, remembering the pout on the kid’s face. Isaac could flash some amazing sad-puppy eyes when he wanted to.

The longer Derek watched Stiles and Erica dance, the more uncomfortable he became. He knew Erica was physical and wide-open when she danced, all about sensation and fun and sex appeal. But did she have to do it all over Stiles? Stiles, who was enjoying it a little too much.

“Who’s with them?”

Boyd shrugged. “Don’t know him.”

The man gripped the back of Stiles neck to pull him closer. Was he going to kiss Stiles over Erica’s shoulder? While Erica smiled and looked on, encouraging this?

“Well,” Boyd said.

“Yep,” Derek said.

They both rushed onto the dance floor. Derek reached them first and shoved the man away from Stiles. “Get lost.”

Boyd took Erica’s arm. “I think we’re going.”

Erica shook her head. “Not yet.” And she wrapped herself around Boyd, dancing and rubbing against him, while Boyd stood there more or less like a statue that occasionally swayed side to side, smiling.

The stranger didn’t give up. “I was dancing with them.” 

Derek took Stiles’ arm. “Back off. He came with me.”

“Hey!” Stiles tried to shake his arm free, but Derek held it fast. “What the hell are you doing, Derek?”

“Come on, I’m taking you home.”

“I was only dancing. I haven’t even had a drink. First, Erica comes in and goes all prohibitiony on my ass, and now you’re here cock-blocking me. How do you figure that what I’m doing here is any of your business?”

Derek took Stiles’ other arm and shook gently. “I’m going to take your ID and hand it over to them, tell them it’s fake, and you won’t ever come back in here if you don’t go quietly with me now.”

Stiles’ mouth fell open. What was all this bossing him around and treating him like a kid? “Yeah? Well . . . okay, I’ll go. On one condition--dance with me first.”

“Hell. No.” Derek crossed his arms. He stood in the middle of a pulsing throng of hot men on a dance floor and crossed his god damn arms.

“Dancing is harmless, Derek. Look. Even Boyd’s doing it. His dancing looks remarkably like standing, but still. You can manage that. And it’ll get me out of here with no muss or fuss. Or you could, of course, let me have one more dance with someone else.”

Stiles caught the eye of a man close by, then tilted his head to look at Derek. “He looks up for the challenge.”

“I will drag you out of here--”

“No, you won’t, because I’ll make a scene and take a chance that the cops will be called. I’d be in heaps of trouble, but so would you. One dance, Derek. I just want to have some fucking fun.”

Derek stood immobile for so long, Stiles was sure Derek was going to drag him out, not caring if Stiles yowled like a cat all the way. Then he said, “I don’t dance. But you go ahead, by yourself. I’ll stand here.”

“You shitting me?” Stiles wasn’t going to dance in front of Derek alone while Derek stood there frowning at him. He grabbed Derek’s hips and did his best to move him. “Just go with the music. Loosen up. You’re like a god damn board, relax!”

Stiles slipped his thumbs into two of Derek’s belt loops and hung on while he thrust his own hips, twisted, swayed from side to side and enjoyed himself. He got bolder and managed to actually get Derek’s hips to move a few inches in each direction. Derek put his hands on Stiles’ shoulders to steady himself.

“You’re not defusing a bomb or performing brain surgery. It’s okay to move.” Stiles pressed their bodies together so Derek could try to move his body with Stiles’. Derek froze at first, giving Stiles that stop breathing my air look he was so fond of, but then he rocked and arched a little, moving in sync with Stiles body.

Stiles felt a hand slap his ass, and turned to see Erica walking away on Boyd’s arm, waving her fingers at him. When he turned back, Derek’s face had changed from angry to . . . what the hell was that look? Derek looked at him like he’d been dieting all day and Stiles was dinner.

Lean, Stiles thought. “Derek?”

Derek grabbed his hand and pulled him through the dancers. When they were clear and had gone a few steps down the hallway toward the bathrooms, Derek pushed Stiles against the wall and leaned against him. Someone walking by reached over and ran a finger down Stiles’ cheek. Derek growled and grabbed the hand, sending the owner of it shrieking down the hallway.

Stiles could have sworn he heard a bone snap. “Hey, it’s no big deal.”

“They shouldn’t be touching you.” Derek was still fully pressed against Stiles, their faces so close that if they moved any closer, Stiles’ vision would blur.

“That’s what people do here, Derek.”

Derek nodded, his nostrils flaring. “That’s why you’re here. Hoping to get touched. Hoping that guy who offered a blow job last time is around and still willing.”

Stiles pushed at Derek’s chest, but he didn’t budge. “I would not have been averse to that situation, no. But so what?”

“That situation? Getting your first blow job from a complete stranger in a club, Stiles? That’s--”

“That’s pathetic. I know, okay. I’m just . . . it . . . you don’t get to judge me. It’s my life, not yours.”

“That’s so much less than you deserve.” Derek leaned back, then let his hands drop. “You’re not pathetic, and you deserve better than a random, drunk stranger in a bar, Stiles. Be patient and wait for something else, okay?” Derek took a deep breath and licked his lips. “Just . . . my advice is to go home. But you’re right. It’s your life. You do what you want.” He walked away.

Stiles slumped a little without Derek’s hands pressing him against the wall. “Derek, wait,” he whispered. Then said, “Derek,” only slightly louder, knowing he could hear it. If he comes back, I’ll tell him, I will. If he comes back.

Derek came back. He stood a few feet from Stiles, hands in his jacket pockets, eyebrows up. He stared at the floor between them.

“Derek, what if what I want goes straight up against what someone else wants?” He ran his fingers through his hair and shook his head. This is it. “What if I want to know if there’s a chance . . . you might want the same thing I want?”

Derek sucked his lips between his teeth and stared at the floor some more. Then he moved in and leaned toward Stiles. Stiles thought Derek might kiss him, but instead Derek leaned so that their cheeks barely brushed. He whispered, his breath hot on Stiles’ ear.

“Stop saying want.”

“Oh my god, you’re such a dick!” Stiles slapped Derek’s chest, ready to storm off and get away from him. Lips pressed against his ear, pushing a soft oh from his mouth. Derek’s lips slid down to his neck. When Stiles swallowed, Derek whimpered--he whimpered--and parted his lips, the wet heat of his tongue touching Stiles’ skin.

“So, maybe you want what I want?” Stiles asked, shuddering at the light suction against his neck.

“Maybe,” Derek whispered. “Come on.” He pulled Stiles through the crowd.

Stiles said, “Oh, no, no, let’s go back to what we were doing, no need to stop.”

Derek didn’t let go of Stiles’ hand once they were outside. He pulled Stiles down the sidewalk until they reached the entrance to an alley. A few long strides later, Stiles was against the wall again, Derek’s lips were back on his neck, and Derek was sucking hard enough that every part of Stiles’ body was reacting. He groaned and arched his back, pressing his body against Derek’s. He was hard and didn’t care to hide it. His hands twisted in the back of Derek’s jacket when he felt what he swore was Derek’s hardness pressing against him, too. The idea that he could affect Derek that way, make Derek hard, was almost as good as Derek’s mouth on his neck.

Derek cupped Stiles’ ass in his hands, pulling their bodies together. His mouth never left Stiles’ neck as he rolled his hips, pressing his and Stiles’ groins together in a quick rhythm. They were humping with their clothes on, Stiles realized, as the friction started a pleasant warmth building low in his belly.

Derek’s grip was almost bruising. Stiles felt teeth press against his neck and idly wondered if Derek would break the skin. Stiles cried out as Derek rocked against him faster than before. Then Derek slammed against him, his body jerking and then freezing in place. He growled and practically chewed Stiles neck when he moved again, little thrusts and shudders going through him. He shouted, his body twitching--

Oh my god. Derek came.


The mouth on his neck tightened just enough to really smart, then was gone. “I’m sorry.” Derek sounded winded, broken.


“I’ll drive you home.” Derek stepped back, pulling Stiles with him since Stiles had no intention of letting go.

“No, you don’t get to do this. You don’t get to make me think you want me, and then look at me with guilt and regret and walk away because you’re embarrassed. No. Fuck.”

Derek cupped Stiles cheek and shook his head. “I don’t regret it, Stiles. And I’m not walking away. Your dad’s at work until morning, so let me take you home where we can . . . talk. In private.”

“You know my dad’s work schedule? Of course, you do.” So much was making sense now. “You’ve been watching me since Gerard worked me over, haven’t you? Keeping tabs. You showed up at Jungle the other night, and then you didn’t follow Matt to Danny’s party. You were keeping an eye on me, weren’t you?”

Derek didn’t say anything, but looked at Stiles with an expression that said guilty as charged. He headed toward the parking lot. Stiles followed. Derek held his hand out for the keys. Even though Stiles was alcohol-free, he let Derek have them so he could think about what the hell was happening without having to focus on the road.

“Was what just happened because it’s been a really long time for you, or because--”

“It was you, Stiles. You affected me that way. Nothing else.”

Stiles didn’t ask any more questions. He was too busy thinking on that, how he affected Derek Hale so much that he’d come in his pants.

Derek went directly to the bathroom once they were inside. Stiles went to his bedroom, rushing to look in the mirror. This was all really happening--the bruise on his neck was evidence. Derek appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, standing there stiffly, so much like he had the night Stiles had been drunk.

“Want something to eat? Or drink?”

Derek shook his head. Neither said anything for a few minutes, until Stiles couldn’t take it anymore and walked across the room to Derek. “Look, are you going to--”

“I’m not leaving. Not until you want me to.” Derek took a step forward as if to show Stiles he meant it.

“Take your jacket off, then.” Stiles hung it over his computer chair when Derek handed it over.

After another awkward minute or two, Derek grabbed his arms and held him still, looking him over. “Nice shirt.”


“Take it off?”

“We’re not going to talk?”

“Would you rather?”

“No. Nope. Huh uh.” Stiles peeled the shirt off and tossed it. He shivered as Derek looked him and up and down. It wasn’t anything Derek hadn’t seen at the pool party just a few days ago, but Derek looked at him now like there’d be a quiz about it later. He stroked his fingertips over the spot where his mouth had been on Stiles' neck.

Stiles didn't know what to do with his hands, so he twisted them in the fabric of Derek's shirt. “So, uh, what exactly is this, between us? This you and me thing.”

“There is no you and me thing.”

“Yes, Derek, there most definitely is. You and me. An us and we thing. What is it, exactly?”

“It is what it is?”

“Derek supplied helpfully,” Stiles said, going for sarcastic but Derek’s mouth suddenly on his neck made him sound more like he was trying to sing.

Derek licked over the tender spot, growling softly. The vibration of it was soothing and exciting at the same time. Derek's hands moved over Stiles’ back, sides and chest. Stiles felt the world tilt, and suddenly he was on his back on his bed with Derek looming over him and fingering the button on his slacks. Derek raised his eyebrows as he looked at Stiles, the question clear on his face.

Stiles nodded, the vulnerable, uncertain look on Derek’s face making him unwilling to break the silence. Derek pulled Stiles' pants down enough to be out of the way and took Stiles into his mouth without saying anything. Stiles' fingers dug into the blankets beneath him. He knew it would probably take all of seconds for him to lose it, but he couldn’t waste time feeling embarrassed. He was too busy feeling everything he’d ever imagined this would be like. It was so much better than his fantasies.

He tried to focus just on the sensations, but everything he felt translated into a visual image in his mind. He could "see" Derek’s tongue swirling around him, flicking, pressing down. Derek’s lips sliding up and down his length. He had to look--he couldn’t have this first experience without actually seeing. Stiles lifted his head enough to watch Derek sucking him, and found it hard to take a breath. When Derek’s eyes met his, Stiles was done. He shouted a warning, hips thrusting almost involuntarily.

Derek lifted his head and took Stiles in his hand, stroking him until the first pulse sprayed onto Stiles’ stomach. Then Derek took him in again, sucking as Stiles spasmed a few more times. Stiles' mouth hung open as he watched Derek sucking and swallowing, dragging his fingers through the come on Stiles’ stomach.

Stiles knew the noises he made were probably ridiculous, something other guys might make fun of him for, but holding back didn’t seem like an option. And Derek sucking him this way was more erotic than anything he could have ever hoped for.

Derek released him with a final lick up his shaft, the sensation making his whole body twitch. Stiles wanted to say something sexy or suave--thank you didn’t seem appropriate--but he was left gaping again as Derek rose up to his knees, pulled himself out of his pants and stroked furiously with the wet hand he’d dragged over Stiles’ stomach. Before Stiles could reach for him or offer to do whatever Derek wanted, Derek's’ head dropped back and he groaned, his come dotting Stiles’ stomach, mixing with his own.

Derek,” was all Stiles could manage as he looked at Derek's arched neck, his Adam's apple bobbing with each gasp. His own breathing sounded rough to his ears as Derek rubbed his fingers through the mess, and then licked him from groin to breastbone, tasting them both.

Stiles sank his fingers into Derek’s surprisingly soft hair. “I--you’re--so sexy, oh my god.”

Derek’s gaze flicked up and he continued licking. When he was finished, he took several deep breaths while his lips and the tip of his nose brushed Stiles' damp skin. There wasn't much left to clean. Stiles only needed a few cursory wipes with a tissue. He reached for Derek, he wanted to feel the weight of him in his hand even if he wasn’t hard anymore. He wanted to touch and see and feel everything. But Derek stood and zipped himself up.

“Oh, come on, Derek. Dad won’t be home until morning, like you said.”

“I should go.”

Stiles fastened his own pants and stood, but didn’t bother putting his shirt back on. “For fuck's say, why?”

Derek looked around the bedroom as if searching for a reason.

“Stay. It doesn’t have to stop here for the night.” Stiles gathered his courage and put his hands on Derek’s hips. “Let me do that for you later. I’ve never done it, but I want to try. And we could . . . I mean . . . you could have me, if you wanted.”

“That’s not going to happen.” Derek grabbed his jacked and was out Stiles’ bedroom door in an instant.

Stiles chased after him. “So you can suck my dick, but I’m not good enough to fuck, is that it?”

Derek spun on him and pinned him against the wall, a hand on each side of Stiles’ shoulders. “You’re good enough, damn it. It’s not you, Stiles. I want you. Never think I don’t. But I want to protect you more. Protect you from me.”

“From you.”

“From me. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Then don’t hurt me. If you want me . . . .”

Derek took a deep breath in, then dashed down the stairs. Through what Stiles thought might be sheer force of will, he got between Derek and the door, his hands on Derek’s chest. “Wait, please. I want to understand, because I don’t want the first person to ever make me feel like you just made me feel to run away like this. Please, Derek. Sit down and help me understand. Give me that much?”

Derek eventually nodded and sat on the couch, but he still looked like he wanted to bolt.

“Okay, first. If you don’t want to have sex with me, you’re so worried about hurting me, why did you just give me the most amazing blow job I’ll ever have?”

Derek snorted. “It’s the only blow job you’ve ever had.”

“Still, inexperienced as I am, I’m pretty sure you’ve set a high, high bar.”

“Stiles, you were going to let a complete fucking stranger do it in a club. Probably in a club bathroom. I didn’t think you’d be so sentimental about it.”

Stiles felt something tighten in his throat. “Do not tell me you only did that to keep me from getting it somewhere else.”

“No, of course not.” Derek closed his eyes, kept them closed until he was ready to speak again, his shoulders slumped. “I just didn’t think you’d push for so much more. I should have realized. Maybe deep down I wanted you to. But it’s not fair to you.”

Stiles sat next to him and put a hand on his thigh. “You said you want me. Can’t we try? I mean, picture a roulette wheel, Derek. It’s no fun to sit and watch it spin and spin unless you’re willing to risk a little, right? Gotta play to win? So you place a bet, and maybe you lose. Maybe you do that a few times. But then you find out that someone else is working hard to make the ball land in the exact same place you want it to land, the odds are higher, the table is tilted a little in your favor . . . wouldn’t it be worth taking another gamble?”

Derek laughed then, but it was a bitter sound. “Ever notice how often what I want and what actually happens have nothing to do with each other? How I never have a choice? Everything I’ve ever wanted . . . has ended up with me hurting people. So many people, Stiles.”

“You won’t hurt me. Because I won’t let you. Do you think an asshole like me is going to sit by while you run roughshod over me? No way.” Stiles took Derek’s hand. “The worst thing you could do is walk away from me right now, before we’ve even tried--that will hurt the ever-loving fuck right out of me. I’m willing to risk getting hurt later. I understand why you think that might happen, but you’re still wrong. And you know how often I’m right, so you should listen to me. I’m placing my bets, Derek.”

Stiles smiled and squeezed his hand, a little happiness blooming in him when one corner of Derek’s mouth turned up. Stiles felt like there was something he should say, and he hoped it didn’t take them right back to ground zero.

“About choices . . . I’m sorry for what Scott did. With Gerard. I don’t know if he’s ever apologized to you, but I’m sorry. He didn’t tell me either, and I wish he had.”

Derek’s face was blank, so Stiles didn’t know what was going through his mind. Derek's grip on his hand tightened a little. “So you wouldn’t have gone along with it? You’re not exactly known for saying no to Scott.”

“I wouldn’t have said no. But I would have insisted we tell you his plan. And I would have convinced you to do it.” He leaned against Derek, resting his head on Derek’s shoulder. He cradled Derek’s hand in both of his. “You have to admit, Scott’s plan was pretty brilliant. But he should have given you a choice.”

And because Stiles sometimes said things before he thought better of them, he laughed. “You know, Scott and I had a conversation like this the other day. He said you’d hurt me, too.”

Derek stiffened and started to stand, but Stiles pulled him back down.

“Hey, you cannot be offended by Scott saying the exact same things you just said to me. Especially not when you’re both idiots who are fucking wrong. And since Scott also told me to hold out for something better than a stranger blow job at Jungle, just like you did. Okay, so you were both right about that, but you're wrong about the rest.”

“And if we’re not, Stiles?” Derek turned his head to look directly at him.

“We’ll deal with it then. But let me choose to the take the risk? And you can choose to do the same.”

They stared at each other for a minute before Stiles said, “I’m cold. I could put my shirt back on. Or, you know, do something else to stay warm.” When the corner of Derek’s mouth twitched again and he didn’t bolt from the couch, Stiles straddled his lap and embraced him. “Now, see, that’s much warmer.”

He pressed his lips against Derek’s neck. “Hey, do you realize, you haven’t even kissed me yet?”

“I thought that might make it harder to--”

“Oh, that’d make me harder, definitely.”

Derek sighed and brought his hands up to stroke Stiles’ back.

“There’s the sigh of long-suffering I’ve come to know and love.” Stiles leaned back to look at him. “Now give me an eye-roll and a few shut-ups and I’ll know everything’s going to be--”

Derek kissed him, pressing their lips together more softly than Stiles might have imagined Derek had ever done anything. Stiles let the tip of Derek’s tongue slide between his lips. He moaned as their tongues slid together. He knew Derek was being careful with him, and that only made Stiles want him and all of this even more.


“Oh, come on. That couldn't have been your first kiss."

“No. My second, technically, if we’re talking kisses with tongue. It’s the first kiss I really, really wanted, though. The first real kiss.” He pressed his lips to Derek’s again, chastely this time. “I’m glad it was you.”

Stiles slid his hands under the front of Derek’s Henley, but Derek grabbed them and held them in place on his stomach.

“Aw, let me! I haven’t gotten to do any of this fun stuff yet.”

“In time.”

Stiles rubbed his thumbs over Derek’s firm stomach, since he couldn’t move his hands. The green eyes looking at him now, the vulnerable, scared and uncertain look in them, both made him incredibly horny and broke his heart. “So, we go slow. That’s what I want, too. In the meantime, you can tell me why you’re so incredibly hot for my lean, mean bod.” Stiles tried not to smile.

“Oh, shut up.”

“And there’s the patented Jesus Christ, Stiles! eye roll I was looking for.” He pulled his hands out of Derek’s shirt and touched his cheek, the stubble scratching his fingertips. “At least I can be sure things aren’t going to change too much--still an asshole.”

“Yeah, don’t want to go crazy or anything,” Derek said.

“But . . . why do you want me, really? I’m just curious. It’s not like there are any obvious traits I can chalk it all up to.”

Derek stroked Stiles' sides and gently kneaded his back. “There are. You’re appealing in some very obvious, very physical ways, Stiles. But it’s more than that. You argue with me. You whine and complain and tell me I’m a, what did you call me the other day? A monumental dickbag? You treat me like you treat everybody else. You don’t act afraid of me or like you feel sorry for me. You act like you, as annoying as that can be sometimes. And you’re so smart, I can’t coast when I’m around you. Only one other person ever gave me as good as they got that way.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows in question, and because it was a red-letter day when Derek said half that much at once.

“Laura.” Derek smiled. “God, the two of you would kill each other. She was always giving me a hard time, and would probably be jealous of your ability to do the same thing, if she were here.” His voice tightened on the last few words.

Stiles hugged him fiercely. Derek pressed his lips against the bruise on Stiles’ neck. Nothing needed to be said for a while, Stiles decided. When Derek finally moved, Stiles said, “I’m sorry she’s not. But I’ll do my best to carry on her very important work.”

Derek wiped at one eye with a fingertip, then looked at Stiles with a slight squint and the hint of a smile. “Of harassing me? And giving me a hard time?”

“Of giving--oh, I see what you did there. I’m so proud.” He put a hand over his heart, and leaned in for another kiss that was stopped short when his phone vibrated in his pocket.

“It’s Scott, my traitorous friend and brother-in-arms, who sneakily and back-stabbingly told you I was going to Jungle. Remind me to thank him later, actually. He wants to know if you dragged me home and stayed with me to . . . god. Protect my virtue. And he asks if we're playing World of Warcraft together, since that's all I was planning on doing all night. Smart ass." Stiles thumbed in a message, glancing between Derek and his phone, chewing his bottom lip. Then he handed it to Derek. “I can change it, or you can send it. Your choice.”

Derek read the message. He cupped the back of Stiles' neck and pulled him into a kiss, his other hand holding the phone, thumbing SEND.

We got tired of playing fantasy games. Went gambling instead.