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The Chemistry Between Us

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Stiles was five weeks into college and starting to wonder if Derek Hale was but a figment of Beacon Hills University’s collective imagination when he finally met him.

Meeting Derek Hale wasn’t special, or frightening, or any of the other things everyone had made it out to be. It wasn’t “one of those ‘well mark me down as scared and horny’ moments, you know?” (— a scarily enthusiastic Fresher’s Week guide). It wasn’t “a total near-death experience, here, check out my scars” (— Jackson Whittemore, who always slouched in the back row of Introduction to Sociology and spoke up first in every single class discussion). It wasn’t “fucking crazy” (— Greenberg the RA).

It was, actually, pretty much the opposite. Stiles didn’t even realize the guy was Derek Hale – the Derek Hale – until the moment had passed.

The moment went like this:

“No, Scott, seriously, we made a huge mistake. We should’ve applied somewhere else,” Stiles was saying. “UCSF, maybe. Or, hell, NYU! Yeah, I’m telling you, we should’ve packed up and moved across the country, straight into a brand new pool of potential sexual partners brimming with—”

“Dude,” Scott cut in, the Skype image of him shaking its pixelated head. “What happened to your enthusiasm? I thought you loved it here.”

“I like the university fine. What I don’t like is its apparent lack of gay and/or bi and/or heteroflexible guys who are into pale, skinny and talkative. Or girls, for that matter. I didn’t lose my virginity just so it could grow back again, Scotty, it’s time for me to roll. This is the new Stiles, and the new Stiles wants—”

“Yeah, yeah,” Scott said. “I thought I told you to watch the caffeine intake, buddy.”

Guilty as charged, Stiles glanced at his empty coffee cup to see if it was in his webcam’s line of sight. It wasn’t.

“How about Danny from Fresher’s Week?” Scott asked. “He was nice, right?”

“Sure, yeah.” Good-looking, too. “I don’t think I’m really his type, though.”

“And that other guy? Aiden?”

“You mean Ethan,” Stiles said. “Oh, Ethan. Yeah, Ethan. Wow. What a night.” Sweaty, alcohol-fueled and unexpectedly painful, but whatever. There were worse ways to pop your back-alley cherry, to borrow a phrase Stiles had heard in Fresher’s Week. (College was a magical place.)

“But?” Scott prompted.

Stiles shrugged. “A one-time thing. He’s got a great body, and he made me breakfast and everything, but there was no spark between us, you know what I’m saying? Plus, given my track record of managing to maneuver myself into embarrassing situations I’d probably accidentally bang his twin instead or something like that.”

“Yeah. Good point.”

“Dude,” Stiles said. “You’re supposed to disagree with me when I talk myself down. Bro Code.”

Scott laughed. “Sorry man. Don’t worry about it, though. I mean, we’re in college. Experimenting with sex is like half the reason we’re here. It’ll happen.”

“Says the one who pretty much qualifies for Family Student Housing.”

Before Scott could reply, the sound of a short sharp knock echoed through Stiles’ room.

He swiveled his chair to the side. “Hey, there’s someone at my door.”

“Go get it,” Scott said. “I’ll stop by later to pick you up for the party, all right?”

“Nah, hold on, it’s probably not even for me.” Stiles hopped to his socked feet, almost losing his footing twice as he skidded to the door. He swung it open, yelling out a cheerful “Afternoon!”—

—and came face-to-face with the most mouth-watering view in the history of mankind.

For real. All those caffeine-fueled complaints about the lack of eye candy at BHU? Gone. Forgotten. Proven unfounded and scattered to the winds by this broad-chested, leather-jacketed, perfectly stubble-bearded apparition.

It was definitely a good thing that Stiles had decided against a third double espresso; he would’ve burst into Rihanna’s Where Have You Been on the spot.

“Is Erica home,” the hot guy said in a voice that bore no trace of emotion or intonation whatsoever.

It didn’t matter. Stiles continued to gape.

“Is. Erica. Home,” the guy repeated, his full eyebrows drawing together. He looked around, which made the muscle cords in his neck stand out, oh Jesus. “This is the mixed-gender dorm, right?”

“Right,” Stiles said, and then, because he was apparently a moron in the face of true beauty, “Erica?”

The guy’s brow lifted. “Yes. Erica. Feisty girl, long blond hair, constantly making sexual innuendos? Sounds familiar?”

“Erica,” Stiles iterated slowly, scratching at his jaw. “My roommate.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say— he was too busy willing his face not to heat up at the way the word ‘sexual’ rolled off hot guy’s tongue.

“Where is she,” the guy gritted out. He looked like he was about to bash either his own or Stiles’ head into a wall. The latter option seemed somewhat more likely at this point.

Mercifully, Stiles’ language areas decided to come back online before the situation could escalate. “I think she might’ve gone down to the dining hall,” he said, adding a casual “Sorry, bro,” to make up for his earlier uncoolness.

Hot guy cast him a seething glare and turned on his heels. He stalked down the hallway without another word.

“Whoa,” Stiles said, dropping back into his chair with a wince. “That was real smooth.”

“Dude.” Scott’s eyes were wide. “Do you know who that was?”

“Just some guy looking for my roommate.” Stiles reached for the near-empty bag of Doritos on his desk. “Some really hot guy. Whoa. For the record, I retract all my earlier statements regarding—”

“Stiles,” Scott said, his mouth hanging open. “Stiles, that was Derek Hale.”



Derek Hale: a junior at Beacon Hills University; possibly the most feared and definitely the most infamous student on campus; alleged psychopath; attempted arsonist (not alleged; Stiles had pulled up Hale’s record on his dad’s laptop after he first heard of this rumor. It checked out). Derek Hale, who’d gotten Kate Argent fired. (Kate Argent: youngest ever winner of some super important Chemistry prize Stiles had forgotten the name of; voted Favorite Professor five years in a row; “certified badass”, according to various sources.) By sleeping with her.

Derek Hale: the one who’d slept with a professor in his freshman year.

“In my opinion, the biggest mystery is why he hasn’t been kicked out yet,” Lydia said. “The guy is a menace to society. Didn’t I ever tell you about that time he pretty much tried to scalp He Who Must Not Be Named? We spent all night in the ER.”

Isaac said, “Who—”

“Jackson,” Stiles cut in. He finished his beer, which was watery and lukewarm, and put his cup down. The party wasn’t in full swing yet; music was playing at a low volume, people – mostly other freshmen – still trickling into the lounge. Greenberg the RA hovered awkwardly near the fridge.

“Ah,” Isaac said. “Of course.”

“I bet it’s because the Board pities him,” Lydia continued, winding one of her curls around her finger. “If they got rid of him he’d have nowhere else to go. They wouldn’t want that on their conscience.”

“I heard the Dean used to be all tight with the Hales,” Scott said. “Maybe that’s why.”

“Possibly. I’m putting my money on the orphan card, though. It’ll let a person get away with anything. Or at least it’ll let ’em think they will.”

“Is this Hale we’re talking about or your ex-boyfriend?” Stiles couldn’t help but ask.

Lydia tilted her head to the side and squinted at him. “Jackson’s sob story is nothing compared to Hale’s,” she said after a beat. “Did you know his entire family died in that crash?”

“That’s not actually true,” Isaac said, reaching for the nearest bottle of vodka. “His parents and little sister, yeah, but their uncle survived and his older sister is still alive. And the car didn’t crash— it exploded.”

An icy shiver ran down Stiles’ spine. “Do you know him?” he asked Isaac.

Isaac shook his head. “I mean, I’ve heard all the stories. Who hasn’t? I see him at work pretty often, but he’s never even as much as glanced in my direction.”

“No shit, dude,” Scott said. “You work at the cemetery.”

Stiles picked up his Solo cup again, passed it back and forth between his hands. For some reason his stomach felt tight. He thought back to Hale’s eyes, electric green-brown-bluish, the intensity in them. He suppressed another shudder.

“We’re probably better off staying away from him anyway,” Isaac was saying. “Lydia’s right, the dude’s totally fucked in the head. Didn’t he try to burn down Kate Argent’s house after he got her sacked? She filed a restraining order against him and everything. Oh, and rumor has it he took a semester abroad last year and screwed every single person he could over there.”

“I’d fuck him,” Lydia said matter-of-factly before Stiles could. He snorted.

Isaac and Scott looked at them.

Lydia said, “What? Have you seen the guy?”

“He’s, like, insanely good-looking,” Stiles added.

Isaac sighed. “All right, so apparently I’m the only person around here who’s familiar with the age-old proverb ‘don’t stick your dick in crazy’.”


“Hey, let’s not talk about this when Allison gets back,” Scott interrupted them, picking at the label on his bottle. “Kate’s her aunt, you know. It’s been a while, but she might still get upset about it.”

“Are you kidding? I’m still upset about it,” Isaac said. “Kate Argent’s the baddest bitch in the field, but instead of her we’ve got Adrian fucking Harris teaching the Chemistry track now just because some psycho freshman couldn’t keep it in his pants.”

“There might be more to the whole story,” Scott said softly.

Isaac shrugged one shoulder. “The rumors are pretty consistent.”

“That doesn’t have to mean they’re true. I mean, take that high school rumor about me and Sti—”

“Bad example, Scotty,” Stiles said. “That did happen, remember? Sophomore year?”

“Oh. Fuck. Right. Never mind.”

Isaac’s mouth fell open. “No way! The two of you— seriously?

“Please don’t tell me that actually surprises you,” Lydia said frostily, shaking out her hair. She touched the small of Stiles’ back. “Come on, Stiles. Let’s go get me another drink.”

Eight watery lukewarm beers later, Stiles realized with sudden and unexpected clarity that he couldn’t stop thinking about a broad chest, a leather jacket, a perfect stubble beard and intensely green-brown-bluish eyes.

Huh, he thought, and continued dancing.



Stiles woke up to a too-bright room and the buzz of conversation. Drifting into consciousness, he became aware of two things: 1) his dully thudding headache and 2) the annoyance bubbling hot in the pit of his stomach. Which, admittedly, wasn’t all that fair. Erica was a great roommate, tidy and laid-back; Stiles was so much better off with her than with some unhygienic first-year who left his pubes in the shower drain and never bothered to air the place after jerking off. But still, Erica— having people over at ass o’clock the morning after a dorm party? Seriously?

Stiles was about to roll onto his other side and throw his iPhone across the room to make a point when Erica hissed, “You’ve got to tell her, Derek!”

The other person groaned. “I know. It’s just not that easy, okay?”


It was Derek Hale.

Derek Hale was in Stiles’ room. While Stiles was asleep. And reeking of sweat and stale beer, probably. Fuck, did he even have clothes on?

Stiles held his breath as he recalled last night. Drinks; hanging out in a corner of the lounge, discussing Hale; more drinks; dancing with Lydia; more drinks; dancing with Allison, Scott and Isaac; more drinks; almost making out with Isaac (wait, what) (whoops); a muddled conversation with Greenberg of which he couldn’t remember a single word; taking ages to get his door to unlock and giggling quietly to himself about it.

Well, that wasn’t too bad. He was also pretty sure he was still wearing boxer shorts at least. Not that it really mattered— he was completely burrowed in his bed sheets, like a giant smelly burrito.

While Derek Hale was in the room.

Maybe it was a little bit bad.

“There’s no point in seeing Morell if you’re not being honest with her,” Erica was saying. “It’s been over two years, Derek. You’ve got to start letting people in.”

“I know that,” Derek said irritably. “Like I said, it’s not that easy.”

“It is that easy, actually. You just open your mouth and use your words.”

“I can’t tell her everything! Laura and I—”

Erica made the same noise she made whenever Stiles left a half-empty bowl of cereal next to his bed and the milk turned sour overnight. “Bullshit. Bull. Shit. Three words: principle of confidentiality.”

A pause. “Well, then maybe I don’t want to tell her.”

“Well, then maybe I think you’re a giant fucking idiot.” Sounds of a scuffle; Erica shrieking with laughter. “Stop, stop, we’ll wake up my roommate!” Softer, more seriously: “How about Jennifer?”

A longer pause. “You know why I can’t tell Jen,” Derek said quietly.

“Yeah.” Erica sighed.

The rustle of fabric. Derek’s voice: “Speaking of whom, I should really get back to my Contemporary Lit paper.”

“Yeah, I’ll walk you out. I’ve gotta go check on my laundry anyway.” Keys rattling, the door opening and closing. Then, blissful silence.

Stiles rolled onto his back and kicked the sheets down to the foot of his bed. Sunlight was unapologetically streaming in through the windows. His skin felt clammy, his mouth dry. Snippets from Erica and Derek’s conversation bounced around his pounding head— Morell, two years, Laura, principle of confidentiality, Jennifer, Contemporary Lit. He was starting to get a little dizzy. There was something else too, a thrumming sensation right below his skin, a feeling he recognized but couldn’t name.

Later, in the bathroom, wiping fog off the mirror, Stiles realized what it was. It was the same feeling he got whenever he skim-read the prologue of a crime novel; the same feeling that had prompted so many weekends of poring over cold cases with his dad, that sometimes had him clicking from one obscure Wikipedia article to the next until four o’clock in the morning.



He was sitting cross-legged on his bed with his Introduction to Gender Studies textbook when Erica returned.

“Welcome home, my beautiful radiant roommate!” he said, casting her a big smile. “How are you this fine afternoon?”

With a groan, Erica chucked down her laundry basket hard enough to make a red lace bra come flying out. “Don’t even talk to me, Stilinski.” She pulled open her closet door with excessive force and started to throw clothes inside. “I’ve got a five thousand word paper due Monday and I spent all morning exhausting every possible source of procrastination I could think of, and Boyd’s working all weekend, so now I really don’t have any excuses left. And I’m pissed off about it.”

Yeah— that much was obvious. “You could clean the bathroom,” Stiles suggested.

Erica gave him a cold over-the-shoulder glare.

“…except it’s my turn, so that’s not going to happen,” he added hastily.

“See?” Erica said, stuffing a towel into one of the storage drawers under her bed. “I’m turning you into a good housewife already.”

Stiles held up his Gender Studies book. “That’s probably offensive in some way.”

“Oh, who the fuck cares. So how was your night? You were snoring like a goddamn cave troll.”

“Sorry,” he said. “It was all right. Your average Friday night dorm party. I almost made out with Isaac, I think.”

Erica whistled. “Nice. He’s the floppy-haired guy, right?” She let herself fall facedown onto her bed.

“The blond one, yeah.”

“He’s hot.”

“Yeah.” Stiles tried to come up with a way to make this conversation about Derek. ‘Speaking of hot people’, maybe? He settled for: “Hey, who’d you have over this morning?”

Erica rolled onto her back. “Just a friend. We’re in Contemporary Lit together, he needed to borrow a textbook. We tried not to wake you up.”

“What’s his name?”

“Oh, you probably don’t know him.”

“Maybe I do,” Stiles said, casually throwing his marker cap in the air and catching it again. “I know a lot of people.”

Erica pushed herself up onto her elbows. “He’s one of those classic socially awkward English majors, and he lives off-campus. Trust me, you don’t know him.”

“Try me.”


“Why not?”



“Stiles!” she mimicked.

She wasn’t going to budge, then. Damn it. Time for a roundabout approach. “I thought Contemporary was a two hundred level,” Stiles said.

“Yeah, but I’m smart as fuck, so I’m taking the Intro course and this one at the same time. Any other questions, Inspector Stilinski, or am I free to go get started on my paper now?”

Fuck. Stiles shook his head. “Cleared of all charges. You may proceed.”

“Thank you.” She blew him a kiss and reached for her headphones.


Stiles had made it three quarters into his assigned reading when the feeling reared its head again, thrumming low and insistent in his stomach.He glanced at Erica; she was typing away rapidly, head bobbing along to her music. Why was she being so secretive about her friendship with Derek? Sure, he wasn’t exactly Mr. Popular, but still.

Abandoning his textbook on his bed, Stiles moved to his desk and booted up his laptop. Derek, as it turned out, had neither a Facebook nor a Twitter account. Interesting but unsurprising; it was said he rarely showed up for classes, and Stiles had never even seen him before until yesterday. Anything he was going to find out about Derek wasn’t going to come from social media.

It wasn’t going to come from the university intranet either— he got denied access from the Contemporary English Literature page because he wasn’t enrolled in the course.

“Damn it,” Stiles whispered, tapping his lips.

Throughout their conversation, Derek and Erica had mentioned a ‘Jennifer’, a ‘Laura’ and a ‘Morell’. The first two names were too general to get Stiles anywhere, but Morell sounded familiar.

A quick Google search revealed why: Marin Morell was their student psychologist.

Derek Hale was seeing a shrink? It made sense considering, you know, his parents and little sister had died only two years ago. It didn’t really fit the picture of him that was painted around campus, though. Maybe sessions with Morell were part of the terms and conditions of his stay at BHU after the Kate incident?

Stiles shot into an upright position. Derek’s family had died only two years ago. Not over two years ago, like Erica had said. He was pretty sure of that; the accident had been all over the local newspapers back when it happened. It might’ve just been a slip of the tongue— or maybe there was something else, a piece of information the rumor mill hadn’t gotten its hands on yet.



Stiles’ next Derek sighting was mostly not on purpose.


It was entirely possible that he had spent the rest of his weekend reading everything the Beacon Hills Chronicle’s web archive had to offer on the car accident.

It was also entirely possible that he had learned enough horrifying details – like how the Hales had been on their way home from a family dinner to celebrate Derek making it onto the Dean’s list, or how his eleven-year-old sister had to be identified by her dental records – to quench his thirst for more information.

Intriguing or not, declared crazy by consensus or not, Derek Hale was still a person. Part of Stiles wished he hadn’t looked up the articles; an even bigger part of him wished he had never heard any of the stories, that Derek Hale was just a random mind-blowingly hot friend of Erica’s and nothing more.

Even so, Stiles didn’t hesitate for a second when he saw Erica march through the hallways on Monday afternoon.

“Erica!” he yelled, catching up with her. “Hey, you’ve got Contemporary Literature now, right? Did you finish your paper?”

Without breaking stride, she waved a print-out in his face.

“Awesome! So listen, I had this dream last night about you being Catwoman and me being your sidekick. We saved the world together. It was totally badass.”

“Totally,” Erica said, unimpressed. “Shouldn’t you be in the Social Science building, doing social things?”

“Nope. I’ve got Gender Studies, which is in this wing. I’ll walk you to class.”

“My hero.” Sighing deeply, Erica linked her arm with Stiles’. “I’m not feeling very social today, Stiles. I miss my bed. I stayed up ’till five working on this damn paper.”

“Cappuccino?” Stiles suggested.

“Had two triple-shot Grandes. Didn’t work.”

“Well, looking at it from the bright side, at least you already got a big chunk of the whole stereotypical college experience down.”

“Oh, shut it, Stilinski.”

They came to a stop in front of one of the auditoriums.

“Shit, this is where you’ve got Literary Studies?” Stiles asked, peeking around the open door. Only a handful of people inside. He stomped down on the vague twitch of disappointment that was threatening to rise in his gut.

“Yep. We got upgraded from a smaller lecture hall because the course was insanely oversubscribed. You wouldn’t believe how popular Blake is— some of the guys in this class just sit and stare for two hours without moving an inch because they’re terrified of doing something dumb in her presence,” Erica said with an eye-roll. “I’m gonna go hand this in. I’ll see you later, all right?” She kissed him on the cheek.

“Sure, yeah,” Stiles said, giving her curls a pat as she passed him. He was about to step aside when someone shoulder-checked him so hard he reeled back, elbow grazing the wall.

“Jesus Christ,” the guy snapped before Stiles could say anything. “Watch where you go.”

“Wha— seriously? You’re the one who crashed into me, buddy,” Stiles said, glaring up into a familiar face.


Derek Hale paused in the doorway of the auditorium. A flicker of recognition flared up and died back down in his eyes.

“You got a problem?” he asked calmly.

Something in his voice – a certain menacing coldness – made the hair at the back of Stiles’ neck stand up.

“Nah, dude, whatever,” he said, and walked away.


All right, so Derek Hale was an asshole. Any BHU student could’ve told Stiles that. Had told him that, actually. Whatever.

That night Stiles dreamed about fire and chaos, distorted sounds of sirens and maniacal laughter echoing in the background. All throughout the dream a black shape kept shimmering in his far peripheral vision; it moved away every time Stiles tried to look straight at it.

For some reason he woke up thinking about his mom.



The third time really was an accident.

He and Scott went into the bookstore on the main street, and there, behind the counter—

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles hissed, flattening himself out against the Erotic Fiction shelf. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“What?” Scott said.

“It’s freaking Derek Hale! The guy is everywhere.”

Scott blinked. “I thought you said you’d never seen him before.”

“Yeah, until, like, a couple of days ago. Now he’s suddenly everywhere!”

Scott continued to look doubtful.

“Okay,” Stiles admitted, “so I may have asked around a little and done some, uh, background reading and now—”

“Stiles,” Scott said, frowning unhappily. “Do you really think that’s a good idea? I’ve literally heard nothing but bad news about him.”

“Yeah, no shit. I bumped into him the other day – wait, actually, no, he bumped into me – and I thought he was gonna go for my throat. Is he still there?”

Scott craned his neck to see around the bookshelf. “He went into the back, I think. Look, I’ll just check if they’ve got the book I need and then we’re out of here, all right?”

“Sure. I’ll be here.” Stiles grabbed a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey to leaf through while he waited for Scott’s return.

“Not a trilogy I’d recommend,” a voice said behind him.

Stiles yelped and put the book down. “Oh, I’m not—”

All air rushed from his lungs as he got grabbed by his shoulders and slammed back against a wall.

“Why are you following me,” Derek Hale hissed.

“Holy fuck, it’s you,” Stiles said, somehow managing to swallow down the please don’t kill me that was perching on the tip of his tongue. “Oh my God.”

Derek’s grip tightened. “Answer the question. Why. Are. You. Following. Me.”

“You’re hardly making it sound like a question, you can’t really blame me for not answering, and also I’m not fucking following you,” Stiles said, flapping his hands at Derek’s arms. (They were good arms, muscular and hairy and tanned. He would make sure to appreciate them once they stopped being in such close proximity to his carotid arteries.) “Jesus. I just— okay, hold on, here’s an idea, you let go of me and we interact like normal people. How does that sound?”

“I overheard you and your little buddy over there,” Derek said in a low voice, ignoring Stiles’ suggestion. Rude. “I know you asked Erica about me. You were outside my classroom yesterday. Now you’re showing up at my work. That’s three incidents in less than a week.”

“Well, when you put it like that,” Stiles muttered.

Derek’s fingers dug deeper into his flesh. “Stop being a smart-ass. I know where you live. I know who you are. You’re the Sheriff’s kid. Lived in Beacon Hills all your life. Your mother died of cancer when you were eight. You visit her grave every other week. I did my research. Now I want to know why you’re doing yours.”

A white-hot flame of anger curled in Stiles’ throat.

“Fuck you,” he rasped, tuning out the Scott-like voice in his head that was begging him not to provoke the most ill-reputed guy on campus. “The only reason I’m here is because my little buddy over there – whose name is Scott, by the way – needed to pick up a goddamn book, okay? Look, I’ll admit that I asked Erica about you, after you showed up at my room twice, may I add, but I was just— interested. No ulterior motives whatsoever. The other day was, like, fifty percent coincidence, whether you believe it or not”

—all right, thirty percent, maybe. Or ten. But Derek didn’t need to know that—

“and I seriously had no idea that you worked at this place. So, in conclusion, you’re being slightly paranoid fucking android here, Mr. Hale.”

Derek looked taken aback and deeply confused.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” Stiles tried.

“I’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Derek snapped.

“Oh, right. Of course. English major. Sorry, I forgot.”

Derek’s eyes narrowed.

Stiles winced. “Erica told me!”

Derek shifted his weight. His forehead was still furrowed into a frown, his lips forming a tight line. “You’re not afraid of me,” he said, slowly.

Stiles’ mouth felt drier than ever. His heart was beating fast and he was— fuck, he was half-hard, dick straining against the fly of his jeans. Apparently his body didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to interpret this as a sexy situation. Instead of producing a reasonable fight-or-fly response, it seemed enchanted by the warmth of the muscle mass pressed up against it, Derek’s abnormally well-sculpted face, the smell of him, masculine and overwhelming…

Stiles wildly shook his head to derail that train of thought. “No,” he said. He cleared his throat. “No, I’m not afraid of you.”

Was he lying? He honestly wasn’t sure.

“Why not?” Derek asked. “You must’ve heard the stories.”

“I have. I just don’t believe every damn thing people tell me.”

He wasn’t lying, he thought. He hoped.

“Maybe you should.” Derek looked oddly young for a second, vulnerable almost, eyes gleaming in the dim light of the store. Then his expression hardened again. “I’ll ask you one last time. What do you want from me?”

Stiles paused— and swallowed.

Derek took in a sharp breath. He smirked, fluidly moved closer. “Oh,” he said, the corners of his mouth twitching further upward. “Oh, so that’s it? Seriously?”

Their lower bodies were touching now, and Stiles wanted to say that no, no, that’s not it; that’s part of it, sure, I’m not gonna deny that, but there’s something else, something more, there’s something about you, I feel drawn to you, from the moment I first saw you I wanted to know more about you—

He didn’t say any of that. Instead, he swallowed again and half-nodded.

Derek leaned in. “So you heard that story, huh,” he murmured, his breath hot against the shell of Stiles’ ear. “You heard the story about my semester abroad, and it caught your attention. It intrigued you. Made you wonder what it’d be like. What I’d be like.”

A noise escaped Stiles’ treacherous throat.

“You know, not every part of that story is true,” Derek said quietly. He straightened up again to look Stiles in the eye. His gaze was hard, intense. Stiles couldn’t look away.

“I didn’t go abroad,” Derek continued. “I took a leave of absence. Went to New York. But the rest of it? That’s all true.”

Stiles closed his eyes and tried to remember how to breathe.

One of Derek’s hands inched up the side of his neck, thumb tracing his jawline. The other was sliding down Stiles’ chest, slowly, his stomach, lower; it brushed across the bulge in his jeans with agonizing determination before slipping under his shirt and flattening out against the skin there. Derek’s hand was warm, callused, maddening. Fingertips hooked into the waistband of Stiles’ boxer shorts.

Stiles exhaled shakily.

Then, Derek chuckled and pulled away.

Stiles blinked his eyes open.

“It’s best for you if you stay away from me,” Derek said, holding his gaze as he slowly rubbed Stiles’ dick in his jeans between thumb and index finger. “I mean it.”

He gave Stiles one last squeeze and disappeared among the shelves.



Lydia said, “No.”




No,” she said. “You’re asking for my opinion, and I’m saying no, and I will continue to say no until you either listen to me or just go ahead and do your thing without my approval.”

Stiles leaned back in his chair. “You won’t even hear me out!”

“I did hear you out. I heard you say you got cornered, threatened, physically assaulted and sexually intimidated by Derek Hale in a bookstore yesterday because you couldn’t help but act upon your completely random curiosity about him, despite my emphatic advice not to, and now you’re more or less asking me to retroactively endorse that decision. Did I miss anything? No? Thought so.”

“He didn’t sexually intimidate me,” Stiles hissed, looking around the classroom to make sure no one was listening in. “I told you, I consented. Enthusiastically.”

“All you did was nod at him. Not exactly the definition of explicit consent.”

“He wouldn’t have touched me if I didn’t want him to.”

“How can you be so sure of that?” Lydia said. “You don’t even know the guy.”

“Neither do you,” Stiles said, indignant.

She shrugged and started to doodle in the margin of her notes. “Touché.”

“Seriously though, I think there’s something fishy about the whole situation,” Stiles continued. “I mean, no, he’s not the most sociable person I’ve ever met, but don’t you think it’s a little weird that no one seems to actually, you know, feel sorry for him? Have you ever even read the articles about his family’s accident? I went through them the other day, and not to justify his actions or whatever, but fuck, that kind of shit screws someone up all right. And why does everyone blame him for Kate Argent? A thirty-year-old woman has sex with a teenage boy and he’s the one who gets vilified for it? How does that even make sense? What if—”

Lydia looked at him. “Stiles,” she said. “Do you know what this reminds me of?”

“Hit me.”

“It reminds me of that one time in high school when you pulled two consecutive all-nighters to write an essay on the history of male circumcision for Economics class,” Lydia said, raising a hand when Stiles opened his mouth to protest. “Look, I’m sure your penchant for bizarre and mysterious stories will make you a fantastic scholar one day. Or a great tabloid journalist, or whatever. I just don’t want to have to find your mangled body in a ditch somewhere because your dick took a liking to the wrong guy. Do you have any idea what the psychological trauma would do to my GPA?”

“Yeah, I love you too,” Stiles said sourly as he watched their classmates file back into the room, armed with candy bars and plastic cups. He sighed. “You’re probably right. As usual.”

“Of course I am.” Lydia fixed him with a calculating stare. “You are going to go ahead and do your thing without my approval, aren’t you?”



This was a bad idea.

It’d seemed like a good idea back when Stiles came up with it. It had momentarily seemed like a less good idea when he talked to Lydia yesterday, but then it had seemed like a good idea again when he came home after class and got hit in the face by Erica’s pillow because, quote, “I told you to stay the fuck away from him!” (It was only after Stiles innocently asked, “Stay away from who?” that Erica seemed to realize her mistake; she said, “Fuck,” and then, “Fuck you,” and ignored him the rest of the day.) Derek had totally talked to Erica about Stiles, and therefore it was totally a good idea for Stiles to show up at Derek’s place of work with flowers to apologize for—

—for stalking him, essentially.

Yeah, this was a bad idea.

“Fuck,” Stiles sighed, twirling the bouquet around in his hands. “This was such a bad idea.” He glanced through the display window. As far as he could see, the bookstore was empty. Upside: there would be no one around to witness him making a complete fool of himself. Downside: if Derek decided to kill him, there would be no witnesses either and Lydia’s GPA would experience an unprecedented drop.

Stiles was still weighing up the pros and cons when the doorbell jingled and he was hoisted inside by his backpack.

“Explain,” Derek ordered, kicking the door shut behind them.

Stiles stumbled, almost dropped his flowers. “Hey!” he yelled as he twisted around to scowl at Derek. Derek looked utterly unimpressed. He also looked incredible— his stubble was again groomed to perfection, his jeans were tight enough for the contours of his thigh muscles to be visible through the denim and his T-shirt drew unnecessary extra attention to his biceps.

“Well?” Derek said, crossing his arms. The asshole.

Stiles squared his jaw. Derek’s outlandish physique would not distract him from his purpose. It would not. “I’ve got flowers,” he said, thrusting them at Derek’s face.

Derek blinked.

“They’re for you,” Stiles clarified.

Derek pulled up one eyebrow. “You’ve got flowers.”




“For me.”

“Uh. Yeah.”

Derek stared at him.

“Look, it seemed like a better idea at the time, okay?” Stiles said. “I figured— I, it wasn’t very, y’know, decent of me to like… dig into your life story and everything. And yes, this is me admitting that maybe I did kind of— I don’t know, stalk you or whatever. Briefly. Very briefly! Which is still not cool. At all. Obviously. So, I, uh, yeah. Apology.” He winced. So much for not getting distracted. “Here.” He held up the bouquet again.

Derek didn’t move.

“Seriously?” Stiles pushed the flowers against Derek’s stupidly muscled chest. “Dude, I’m embarrassing the fuck out of myself here trying to say sorry to you. The least you could do is acknowledge it. Take the damn flowers!”

Derek frowned. “You’re here to apologize,” he said.

“Clearly, yeah.”

“You’re apologizing by doing the exact same thing you’re apologizing for.”

“Like I said,” Stiles said, “it seemed like a better idea at the time.”

Gingerly, Derek took the flowers.

Well then. That could’ve gone worse.

“All righty,” Stiles said, reaching for the door handle. “Well, I’m outta—”

Derek knocked his hand out of the way.


“Meet me in the back,” Derek said.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Worst idea in the history of ever.

“If you’re going to kill me, you might as well do it right here,” Stiles blurted out.

Derek rolled his eyes. “The back,” he insisted, voice low. “Give me a minute.”

Stiles hesitated. Some of his friends’ comments about Derek flashed through his mind—

The dude’s totally fucked in the head.

Didn’t he try to burn down Kate Argent’s house?

Don’t stick your dick in crazy.

I’ve literally heard nothing but bad news about him.

You don’t even know the guy.

And yet…

And yet.

Meeting Derek’s unwavering gaze, Stiles realized he had already made his decision. He’d made it long before stepping foot in here today.

“Oh, what the hell,” he said, and headed straight for the door behind the counter.


The bookstore’s back office was a small, windowless mess of cluttered desks and crates filled with books. Stiles slid off his backpack, leaned back against one of the walls. His palms were sweaty. All he could hear was the sound of his blood pulsing in his ears. Before he could freak out, though, Derek came in. He closed the door, locked it, walked up to Stiles—

—and kissed him.

Like, full-on kissed him. Hand-curving-around-his-jaw thigh-nudging-between-his-legs mouth-sliding-open-straight-away kissed him. Within seconds, Derek’s tongue was pressing against Stiles’ lips and pushing through, pushing inside, pulsing up against his with slow strong strokes.

Stiles was 95% sure he was hallucinating. Or maybe dead. What if Derek had just hit him across the back of the head with a hardcover copy of, say, A Dance of Dragons and these were nothing but the final wistful convulsions of his dying brain? It sure sounded more likely than the alternative— this being reality. Derek kissing him.

Fingers wound into Stiles’ hair, tugging down. His scalp prickled and his dick jerked in his pants and oh God, this was real. This was happening. Stiles touched Derek’s hip. He involuntarily made a noise that bordered on a moan. Derek hummed in response, pressing closer and cupping Stiles’ crotch. He felt so warm and he smelled so good and—

Whoa, Stiles thought feverishly when Derek started thumbing at the button of his jeans. Verbalizing it in his mind wasn’t enough, didn’t feel like enough, so he broke away from Derek’s mouth to say it out loud: “Whoa.”

Derek straightened up, eyes wide and confused and a little… alarmed?

“No!” Stiles grabbed Derek’s wrist before he could move away further. “No no no, don’t get me wrong— that was a positive ‘whoa’. I am not complaining. Definitely not complaining. The opposite of complaining, actually. Enthusiastic consent all the way. Like whoa. Before we continue, though, can I just ask what the hell is going on here?”

Derek relaxed but frowned. He said, slowly, “I thought this was what you wanted.”

“No!” Stiles said. “I mean, yes! I mean, who told you that?”

Derek’s frown melted into a blank look. “You brought me flowers. You couldn’t have been more obvious.”

“Oh God,” Stiles said, mortified. “What kind of person do you think I— dude, I genuinely came over to apologize, all right? I swear there were no ulterior moti—”

Groaning, Derek let his forehead thump down onto Stiles’ shoulder. “You always talk this much during foreplay?”

It took a second for the meaning of his words to sink in. “This is foreplay?” Stiles asked faintly.

“If you want it to be,” Derek said, meeting his eyes.

Stiles felt a little light-headed. He nodded, let go of Derek’s wrist. “Yeah,” he said, voice embarrassingly hoarse. “Yeah. Of course I do.”

Derek mumbled something – “Finally”, maybe – and went for the fly of Stiles’ jeans with both hands. Stiles tried not to gasp as Derek pushed his underwear down below his balls and resolutely wrapped a warm, dry hand around his dick.

“I don’t have any lube on me,” Derek murmured against Stiles’ cheek, “so we’re just going to have to get you a little wetter this way.” His thumb circled the head of Stiles’ dick and then pressed down, dragging deeply across the slit. It was too much too soon and not enough all at once. Stilesgasped, bucked up into Derek’s touch.

Derek repeated the move.

“Fuck.” Stiles squeezed his eyes shut for a second, sucking in another mouthful of air. “Fuck, that’s— that’s really good.” He looked down to watch Derek’s hand work over his dick; thumb spreading the precome around, thick fingers curving around it, tugging softly, experimentally. Derek slowly rubbed the head of Stiles’ dick again. His entire body convulsed with the intensity of the feeling.

Derek laughed lowly into the curve of Stiles’ neck. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Stiles breathed. “Yeah.”

Derek started stroking him faster, his hand tightening around the wet tip on every downstroke. It was maddening. He was more rhythmic than Stiles, bolder than Ethan had been, more intensely focused than the girl to whom Stiles had lost his virginity over the summer— it wasn’t fair, Stiles thought wildly, it wasn’t fair that the third person to ever touch him like this was setting the bar so high for everyone yet to come.

“You still good?” Derek asked. He sounded a little breathless.

Unable to form words, Stiles nodded. He realized his fingers were digging into Derek’s hipbones; he uncurled them, moved his hands to Derek’s shoulders instead. He wondered if it’d be okay to initiate another kiss. Derek’s lips were parted and his eyes half-closed, and Stiles just went for it, made their mouths meet loosely.

Derek made a noise. It was soft, sweet, more sigh than moan. It vibrated all the way down to the base of Stiles’ spine and exploded there. Stiles heard but barely felt the back of his head clack against the wall— his spine froze up, his mouth falling open as Derek milked his orgasm from him.

Stiles slumped against the wall and tried to catch his breath. Through his eyelashes he watched Derek take off his shirt, wipe his hand on it and use it to rub away the splatters of come that had made it onto Stiles’ clothes. It wasn’t until Derek had grabbed a different shirt from somewhere and pulled it over his head that Stiles was able came to down from his high enough to mumble, “Wait, let me…” and reach for Derek’s belt.

Derek shook his head. “I have to get back to work,” he said, not unkindly.

“But I wa—”

“It’s fine,” Derek said, tucking Stiles’ dick back into his underwear with almost gentle movements. “Seriously.” He reached into his own pants, readjusted himself. “Thanks for the flowers, Stiles.”

Stiles watched him leave, wondering if it was normal to feel giddy about the fact that a guy who’d just jerked you off in the backroom of his workplace knew your name. (It probably wasn’t.)



The giddiness vanished pretty quickly once Stiles realized there was no one he could talk to about it.

Erica was ruled out for obvious reasons. Scott had already expressed his disapproval of Stiles’ newfound interest in Derek; there was also the added complication of Kate Argent being related to Allison. Lydia was a possibility, but Stiles didn’t really feel like going through a Derek Hale Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad And Also I Am Always Right lecture before getting to the point. He just wanted to gloat, damn it. He wanted to enjoy the afterglow as long as possible.

He couldn’t stop thinking about it. (Derek Hale touched my dick!) The next day, he ran into Danny Mahaelani during lunch break and actually had to bite down on the tip of his tongue to keep from saying it out loud. (“Hey Danny, what’s up— wanna know what I did yesterday?”) When class was finally over Stiles went to the library to work on an assignment for Research Methods and Statistics. (I had sex with the hottest guy in a fifty-mile radius!) He left after twenty minutes, semi-turned on and a little angry.

Erica wasn’t home, so he locked himself in the bathroom and tried to replicate the way Derek had touched him— the positioning of his fingers, the tightness of his grip, his relentless pace. It didn’t work. Stiles came into the sink with an unsatisfied grunt and promptly decided on a nap.

When he woke up, Erica was staring at him.

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles said groggily, sitting up. “Woman, what the fuck?”

Erica got to her feet and crossed the room. “Scoot over.”

“You shouldn’t stare at people when they’re sleeping,” Stiles said as he made place for her. “It’s rude. Also, creepy.”

“Whatever, man,” Erica said, grabbing his pillow and hugging it to her chest. “I was staring at your wall. Looking for thesis statement inspiration. Couldn’t find any. Why the hell do you own a copy of the Bible, by the way?”

Stiles glanced up at the shelves above his bed. “That was a birthday present from Scott. He hollowed it out and put in a bag of weed, a stash of condoms and some lube. College starter kit.”

“Wow,” Erica said. “That makes so much sense.” She paused, squinting at him. “Derek will be glad to hear it.”

Stiles’ heart lurched sickeningly.

“That’s right,” Erica said, voice hard. “Derek. He told me what happened between you two and while I realize I might be overreacting, I do need you to know up front that he’s not who you think he is, okay, he’s not just the guy from all those stupid fucking rumors, and if you get him hurt again I will—”

“Whoa, whoa!” Stiles held up his hands. “Slow down, all right?”

Erica pulled a face but did stop talking.

“Thank you,” Stiles said. He drew in a deep breath. “Fuck, you’re scary when you do that.”

She flashed him a smile.

“All right. So can I take this to mean you’re finally admitting that you’re friends with Derek Hale?”

Eyes wide and innocent, Erica said, “I never said I wasn’t.”

“You purposefully didn’t tell me!”

“I’m, like, 95% sure that’s an unfalsifiable hypothesis.”

“Why didn’t you?” Stiles pressed. “What could possibly be so—” Holy shit. His heart rate, which had just started to calm down, shot up again. “Fuck, wait, are… are you and—”

“What?!” Erica yelled, sitting up and hitting him with his own pillow. “Don’t be an idiot! Of course I’m not sleeping with Derek. Jesus Christ, Stiles.”

Wow— thank God. That would’ve been a horrible plot twist. “So why the mysteriousness, then? After he came over that one time, why didn’t you just tell me ‘oh, right, yeah, that was Derek, we hang out sometimes, it’s no big deal, and also he’s like preternaturally hot, and decidedly bisexual, just like you, Stiles, hey, maybe you two should hit it off’? You know. Just a thought.”

Erica leaned back against the wall. “What was your impression of Derek? Before yesterday, I mean.”

“Uh.” It was hard, wading through the vivid sense memories that crowded to the forefront of his mind at the mere mention of Derek’s name. Stiles pulled up his knees and wrapped his arms around them. “I found him intimidating, I guess. And, uh, intriguing. In a way.”

“And before you met him?”

“You’re asking me for my impression of him before I met him? Because I’m pretty sure—”

Erica cast him a murderous glare.

“Okay, okay, yeah, I get your point,” Stiles admitted.

“Right. Being friends with Derek Hale is not exactly something to boast about around here. His words, by the way, not mine.” She sighed. “Derek prefers to lie low these days. He’s gotten pretty closed-off these past few years. Which I guess is unsurprising, considering.”

“Wait,” Stiles said, frowning. “You knew him before all that?”

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t make sense for Erica and Derek to have met here, in college, for the exact reason she had just mentioned. No one in their right mind would go anywhere near Derek after hearing the stories. Stiles wondered, briefly, what that made him. Stupid? Obstinate? Reckless?

Erica was nodding. “We met years ago. Derek’s mother, she was my neurologist. She was fantastic— kept convincing me to try out different types of medication even after I’d given up hope of ever finding one that would work for me with minimal side effects. It’s all thanks to her that I did, eventually.” Erica fell silent. After a few seconds, she straightened her back and almost cheerfully said, “Anyway, we’ve arrived at the part where I warn you that I will not hesitate to smother you in your sleep if you hurt him.”

Get him hurt again, Stiles remembered her saying before. What was that all about?

“Don’t worry about it,” he said in a casual tone of voice. “It was probably a one-time thing anyway. I don’t even know if I’ll see him again.”

Erica smiled softly and patted his forearm.



The next few days sucked.

Scott had suggested “a real night out for a change”, but everyone was too swamped with coursework to even make it out of the building. Stiles spent all weekend catching up on reading, putting together a presentation for Fundamentals of Criminal Law with a painfully quiet classmate whose input was pretty much limited to nodding at Stiles’ suggestions, and scarfing down instant noodles because he kept forgetting to make it to the dining hall in time. By the time Monday rolled around again, he’d barely left his desk.

Times like these made Stiles feel extra resentful toward all those movies and television shows propagating terrible, terrible untruths about college life. He wasn’t an idiot— he’d never actually expected college to be all about booze and drugs and sex. A little less stressing, a little more partying would’ve been nice, though, that’s all he was saying.

A vicious knock on the door almost startled him out of his chair. “Jesus Christ,” Stiles muttered to himself, instinctively clicking ‘save’ on his paper proposal document. Who the fuck stops by someone else’s dorm room at ten thirty on a Monday morning? He could’ve been asleep.

Stiles ran his hands through his hair and breathed out a long sigh before getting up. It was probably Greenberg, he thought as he opened the door mid-yawn.

It wasn’t.

“Uh,” Derek said, eyebrows fusing together and traveling up his forehead. “Erica?”

It was Derek.

Of course it was Derek. Of course Derek had to show up when Stiles had gotten less than four hours of sleep and had not showered in two days. Fantastic.

“Erica,” Stiles repeated dumbly. “No, she’s in class.”

Fuck. During these past few days spent buried in work and emphatically not thinking about Derek, Stiles had more or less managed to suppress the knowledge of how fucking attractive he was. Seeing him now made the lust return full-force. Stiles’ knees actually felt weak. This was ridiculous. Get your shit together, he commanded himself.He clung to the doorpost in what he hoped was a casual way.

Derek, meanwhile, was still frowning. “She told me her morning class would be canceled today,” he said, scratching at his stubble with the very same hand that had so expertly coaxed an orgasm out of Stiles last week. Fuck.

“Uh,” Stiles said when it became clear from Derek’s increasingly stormy expression that he, Stiles, was supposed to say something now. “Well, then maybe a substitute got called in last minute or something? Because I’m, like, 99% sure she left for class.”

“Okay,” Derek said. He glanced at his watch.

“That timeslot ends in about twenty minutes,” Stiles added helpfully.

Derek, unimpressed, met his eyes. “I know that.”

“Right.” A flush was working its way toward Stiles’ cheeks. Just fantastic.

“I’ll wait here,” Derek said, taking a few steps back to lean against the wall. He was wearing the same leather jacket he was wearing the first time they met, stuffing his balled fists into the pockets. A few drops of sweat were glistening on his forehead. He looked— all right, Stiles should probably tone it down on the gay porn, because Derek kind of reminded him of a high-class escort waiting for his next appointment to show up.

“Fuck,” Stiles said under his breath, and then, when Derek looked at him with one eyebrow quirked, “I mean, you can totally wait inside, it’s—”

He felt instantly ashamed of thinking it, but it would be awkward if the entire building found out Derek Hale had been loitering outside his and Erica’s door. And the entire building would find out, if he left Derek out there for twenty minutes. That was one thing to know about college: news traveled fast. “—not as hot,” Stiles finished lamely.

Derek was completely still for a second, then shrugged. “Sure.” He pulled his hands from his pockets. “Whatever.”

He pushed past Stiles, shouldered out of his jacket, and hung it over the back of Erica’s desk chair. By the time Stiles had recovered enough to close the door Derek was already seated, leafing listlessly through a magazine.

“All righty then,” Stiles murmured to himself. He grabbed his Research Methods textbook and hopped onto his bed.

This wasn’t weird. It wasn’t. Derek was here, in his room, waiting for Erica, and it wasn’t weird. It wasn’t weird that Stiles felt his presence like a gravitational pull; it wasn’t weird that Derek had jerked Stiles off a couple of days ago. It wasn’t, because that was exactly the kind of thing that happened in college. It was what college was all about. Meaningless backroom sex with the hottest guy you’d ever land. The college experience!

On the other side of the room, Derek cracked his neck. A few seconds later he hooked his hands behind his head and leaned back, arm muscles bunching beneath the fabric of his shirt. Stiles’ insides felt weirdly fluttery, like someone had decided to release a bunch of moths into his ribcage. (He refused to think of butterflies.)

Derek was done stretching. He inhaled deeply and exhaled, chest rumbling. Stiles felt it all the way into his toes.


He couldn’t do this.

Stiles wrestled his phone from his pocket and texted Erica. SOS. Derek’s here. Please advise.

Erica: What

Erica: Stiles

Stiles: Relax. He’s here to see you. He hesitated, then followed up with: But fuck, I want him.

Erica didn’t respond.

Please, Stiles pressed. I’m freaking out.

Erica: Why

Erica: What’s he doing

Erica: Stiles

Stiles: Nothing. BEING. How can you even stand to be around this guy? I want to climb him like a tree.

A pause.

Erica: Go for it

Stiles: For real?

Stiles: I’ve got your blessing?

Erica: Yeah

Erica: Remember what I said though


Erica: :)

Stiles threw his phone down. Derek glanced to the side. His profile was infuriating; sharp nose, chiseled jawline, that fucking stubble beard. Stiles’ throat contracted.

“So I kind of owe you an orgasm,” he managed.

Derek closed the magazine onto his index finger and swiveled Erica’s chair around. “You don’t owe me anything,” he said, calmly.

Stiles swallowed. “Okay, let’s try that one again. I want to…” How the hell was he going to finish this sentence? ‘Give you an orgasm?’ His face felt like it was on fire. No, scratch that— his entire body felt like it was on fire.

Derek was still looking at him.

Oh, fuck it.

“I want to give you an orgasm,” Stiles said firmly, refusing to blush. “I mean, if you’re down with that, that is. Obviously.”

Derek pulled up one eyebrow. He tilted his head to the side, contemplative, not breaking eye contact. Then he said, “Sure.” He stood up, reached behind his back, and took off his shirt.

Just like that.

Stiles watched slack-jawed as Derek let his shirt drop to the floor and kicked off his sneakers as well. He stayed where he was, eyes on Stiles’, naked chest rising and falling evenly.

“Um,” Stiles said, willing himself to do something, damn it. “Um, maybe— I’ll— I’m interpreting this as a yes, so maybe come over here, lie down on my bed or something?” He scrambled to his feet, suddenly conscious of the fact that no one had been naked in this bed since he moved in, conscious of the fact that he’d only ever been naked with two other people before, except neither of them had been as fucking muscular and smooth-skinned as Derek, and Ethan had kept one sock on so he kind of didn’t count, technically, not really, and—

Derek shrugged. “Okay,” he said, unbuckling his belt and shoving his jeans and underwear down in one go.

Just like that.

Cool. Casual. Painfully unselfconscious. (Stiles would probably be painfully unselfconscious too if he looked like Derek, but still.) Derek’s dick was soft, hanging down, thicker and a tint darker than Stiles’.

Fucking hell.

To keep up pretenses, and to keep from meeting Derek’s steady gaze or staring at his pecs or his eight-pack or his dick or any part of Derek at all, Stiles hastily pulled off his own shirt. He turned away. His heart was hammering in his chest. He didn’t know what to do with his shirt— hang it across the back of his chair? Throw it into a drawer? Fling it into a corner of the room?

Two broad hands slid around his waist from behind.

Stiles held his breath.

Derek pressed his mouth to the curve of Stiles’ neck for a second and then brushed past him, fully naked. He had a tattoo between his shoulder blades— three elegant curls, rippling and shimmering with every move of the muscles beneath. As Stiles watched, Derek stretched out on the bed with his arms crossed under his head.

Jesus Christ, Stiles thought dizzily. Derek fucking Hale is in my bed.

He let go of his shirt and sat down on the edge of the mattress. Derek Hale. In his bed. Maybe he should snap a picture. Extremely inappropriate, sure, but he almost felt like he had to. To. Affirm the reality of the situation. Or something.

Stiles touched Derek’s ankle instead. It was solid, warm to the touch. It didn’t dissolve into thin air.

Derek pushed up onto his elbows. “Listen,” he said, “if you’re not comfortable—”

“Are you kidding?” Stiles cut in. “You’re not leaving my bed before you come.”

He bit down on the inside of his cheek, but Derek laughed, soft and sincere. He was even better-looking when he smiled. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all.

Derek said, “What?”

“Uh,” Stiles said, looking away. “Nothing.” He let his gaze slide down Derek’s torso to where his dick was stirring, now half-erect and beginning to flush red. Stiles had never particularly felt the need to go down on a guy; somehow it’d never seemed appealing to him. He had no idea what it meant that his mouth was watering at the thought now.

He reached out and stroked Derek’s abdomen with his index finger. “I kind of want to blow you,” he said, watching the tanned skin ripple briefly at his touch, “but I’ve never actually done that before.”

Derek’s dick twitched at that, Stiles registered with amazement.

“Anything you’re comfortable with,” Derek said, voice a little strained. He sounded less composed now, less all-confident. Stiles suppressed a smile and moved his hand downward, trailing through pubic hair and then along Derek’s dick. A drop of precome was welling up at the top.

Stiles leaned closer and glanced up at Derek, who said, “I last got tested a month ago— five weeks. But if you want to grab a condom we can—”

Stiles bent further down, heartbeat pulsing in his throat, and licked across the head of Derek’s dick. He went to curl his hand around it again but misjudged the distance, ending up touching Derek’s balls instead. Derek twitched.

Testiculos habet, Stiles thought ridiculously, et bene penendes. He pulled off to stifle a laugh.

Derek looked on, amused.

“Sorry,” Stiles said. “I— you know what, never mind, you really don’t wanna know.”

Derek breathed in sharply when Stiles took the tip into his mouth again, his breath hitching when Stiles sucked on it. There was something about that, something which – combined with the salty taste and the heady smell and the way Derek’s abdomen was fluttering below the palm of his hand – made Stiles’ skin prickle warmly. He pressed his tongue flat against the underside and sucked harder.

Derek stroked a hand across Stiles’ hair, resting two fingertips on the back of his neck in a weirdly erotic gesture. He murmured, “Is it okay if I…” and moved his hand, circling his dick with his index finger and thumb to jerk himself off, slowly, into Stiles’ mouth. His breath hitched again. It was a wonderful noise.

Stiles licked and sucked at Derek’s dick until his jaw started to ache. He pushed himself up onto one arm, rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth and nudged Derek’s hand out of the way to replace it with his own.

The view was even better from this angle. Derek’s chest was flushed; he was holding himself up on both elbows again, his head tilted back, mouth hanging open, whole body stuttering under Stiles’ touch. His ab muscles were convulsing rhythmically. He was probably the most beautiful person Stiles had ever seen.

“Fuck,” Derek gasped, shallowly thrusting his hips upward. He glanced at Stiles through his eyelashes. “That’s— you’re— fuck, come here.”

He reached out with twitching fingers. His hand slid around Stiles’ neck, warm and firm. When their lips were almost touching, Derek made a low noise. His eyes slid all the way shut, their mouths pressing slackly against each other as Derek stilled, come landing on Stiles’ stomach in wet spurts.

Derek sagged back into the pillow with a sigh. Stiles watched him unapologetically, watched his face relax, his dick soften, the flush pull away from his body.

“It’s rude to stare,” Derek murmured after what felt like minutes.

“Sorry,” Stiles said. He wiped his hand on the bed sheets. “It’s just…” You’re really fucking beautiful.

Unexpectedly, Derek reached for his face again to pull him back down.



The next Friday night they did end up at Jungle, after finishing all the wine and Jack’s at Scott and Allison’s place. Lydia kept going around with a sweet smile and a trayful of shots. Isaac and Scott were both drunk already; Stiles was halfway there. The club was crowded, hot, alive with swaying bodies and the beat of the music.

Stiles dragged his sleeve across his forehead again, half-wondering where everyone had disappeared to. He’d just caught a flash of Allison on the dance floor, but—

“Hey,” a voice came from behind him. “I like your shirt.”

Stiles’ stomach twitched hopefully. It was only Danny, though, bumping his hip against Stiles’ with a wide smile. His eyes were a little unfocused.

“Thanks,” Stiles said. He pulled at the collar of his new button-down. “Lydia picked it out for me.” Danny’s mouth was moving again. “What?” Stiles yelled, leaning in to hear him.

“It looks good on you,” Danny yelled back. He held up his glass. “What are you drinking?”

“Uh.” Stiles looked around, frowned down at his empty hands. Huh. “Nothing, apparently.”

Danny laughed, dimples flashing. “Let me get you a drink then.” He turned toward the bar. They were squashed closely together, the line of Danny’s body warm and rigid against Stiles’ already overheated side. Involuntarily, Stiles thought of Derek.

“So how have you been?” Danny said, handing Stiles a cold beer as they moved away from the bar area. “I feel like I haven’t really seen you at all since the introduction week.”

“Yeah, I’ve been good, busy— what do I owe you?”

Waving Stiles away, Danny said, “It’s on me.” He was smiling again. He had a nice smile. He smelled nice, too, but in an almost average way; anyone would like Danny’s smell, the same way everyone swoons at kittens and finds Ryan Gosling attractive.

Stiles was still trying to digest this realization when he noticed Lydia staring him down from a nearby corner, lips pursed around the straw of her drink.

“Um,” he said, focusing on Danny again and almost losing his balance in the process. Danny steadied him with a hand on his waist. “Thanks,” Stiles said. “I mean, for the drink, too.”

“No problem.” Danny’s hand lingered as he glanced over his shoulder to follow the line of Stiles’ gaze. “She… she’s a friend of yours, right?”

“Yep,” Stiles said. “That’s Lydia Martin.” Lydia was now tapping her foot and arching one eyebrow. “Look, Danny, I—”

“Yeah, no, sure, of course,” Danny said quickly. His hand dropped away. “It was nice to see you again, Stiles.” He smiled again, softer this time.

“Definitely. Thanks, uh. For the drink.” Wait, he’d already said that.

“No problem. See you around, yeah?”

Stiles patted Danny’s upper arm and made his way through the sweaty, gyrating mass of people.

“Out with it,” he told Lydia.

Lydia took another prim sip of her cocktail.

“Lydiaaa,” Stiles whined, prodding her in the side. “I could feel you judging me from across the room, all right? I’m pretty sure you scared the shit out of Danny, too. So tell me what I did wrong.”

“Judging?” Lydia said disdainfully. “I was observing your body language.”

“Wha—” Stiles looked down. “What’s wrong with my body?”

“Nothing. Especially not in that outfit— it looks gorgeous on you. No wonder you’re catching everyone’s eye, including Danny’s, but…” She tapped her chin with her index finger. “For some reason you didn’t seem very interested.”

“What?” Stiles sputtered. “I was totally interested!”

“No you weren’t. I’ve seen you interact with people you’re interested in, including Danny himself a couple of weeks ago, and this was not you interested. This was you distracted and decidedly uninterested, Stiles.”

“I wasn’t—”

Stiles,” Lydia said.

Scowling, Stiles drank his beer.

Lydia was squinting at him.

Stiles said, “What?”

She tilted her head to the side.


“You actually did do it,” Lydia said. “You— I can’t believe you made a move on Derek Hale and conveniently neglected to tell me about it until now!” She smacked Stiles across the back of the head with her purse.

“Lydi— stop it! Hey!”

“You are going to tell me everything,” Lydia announced. Her hand closed around his wrist. “You’re going to tell me everything right now. Oh, and FYI?”

“What,” Stiles asked, resigned.

“I’m always right,” she said as she led him away.

The cool night breeze was a relief after Jungle’s sultry microclimate. Stiles leaned back against the wall and breathed it in. With every intake of air, his head started to feel a little clearer.

Lydia moved to stand in front of him, heels clicking. “Spill,” she ordered.

“What do you want me to say?” Stiles grumbled. “You seem to know everything already.”

“I’ve got my suspicions. I just need you to confirm them.”

“Okay, fine.” Stiles pushed his hands into his pockets. “So I had sex with Derek Hale. More or less.”

“Define ‘more or less’.”

“He jacked me off. In the backroom of the bookstore where he works.”

Lydia inclined her head. “I’m impressed.”

“Also, I may have ended up blowing him when he came over to see Erica last week,” Stiles added, bracing himself for her reaction.

“Twice.” Lydia put her hands on her hips. “You had sex with him twice and you didn’t tell me. You absolute dickhead! I can’t believe you kept this from me. Why the hell would you keep this from me?”

“Honestly?” Stiles would probably never admit this if he hadn’t had a few drinks, but: “I was afraid you’d disapprove.”

Lydia stared him down until he ducked his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I know it’s— I guess I… look, I have no idea what I’m doing here, all right? For all I know he might turn around and set my fucking dorm room on fire, I don’t know.” He laughed, but it sounded uncomfortable even to his own ears.

Lydia’s eyes narrowed.

“Look, it was just sex anyway,” Stiles said. “I haven’t seen him or heard from him since.”

He’d tried not to think about Derek either, clutching to run-of-the-mill jerk-off scenarios instead of— well. It had proved difficult, though, staying focused on the fantasy of a nameless faceless body fucking into him when the memory of Derek’s face and voice and touch was right there, itching to be used instead. It kept cropping up when Stiles was close, the faceless fantasy replaced by Derek, Derek braced on both forearms, forehead clacking against Stiles’, folding him in two, pulling him apart.

“Oh sweetheart, you’ve got it bad,” Lydia sighed, putting her hand on Stiles’ forearm. “Was he that good?”

“Better,” Stiles admitted.

She shook her head. “I knew it. Did you at least get his number?”

He had, actually. After Derek had brought Stiles off in return, they’d lain side by side, catching their breath. Stiles had said, “So…” and Derek had said, “What?” and Stiles had said, “You wanna do this again?” and Derek had said, “Sure, of course,” and they’d ended up scribbling their phone numbers onto Post-it notes. Stiles had almost knocked over the coffee machine on his desk in his haste to find them. (He may or may not have fist-pumped after Derek left. He also may or may not have kept the note, even though he’d programmed the number into his phone right away.) “Yeah, but he hasn’t texted me.”

Fixing him with a look, Lydia said, “Have you texted him?

“Don’t be ridiculous, Lyds. You’ve seen the guy. He’d probably, like, screenshot the conversation and print it out and put it up on his wall of shame while using his free hand to send out a booty call to someone else.” A tall chick with perky breasts and long dark hair, probably. Or maybe a robustly built blond. Someone like Isaac Lahey. Stiles mournfully kicked at a soggy cigarette filter. It stuck to the blacktop.

“Great point, Stiles,” Lydia said. “You’re probably right. That’s got to be the reason why he gave you his number after having sex with you for the second time: to laugh at you.” She rolled her eyes. “For someone who had the second highest average of his high school graduating class you can be remarkably obtuse, you know that?”

“IQ does not equal EQ,” Stiles pointed out. “Also, I’ve never done this kind of stuff before. Not all of us were prom queen material at sixteen, all right? Excuse me if I’m not, like, super familiar with the rules and regulations of wooing or fuckbuddyism or whatever.”

Lydia sighed. “Well.” Before he could catch onto her intentions, she’d already reached into his pocket and fished out his phone. “This would be a start.”

“Lydia, no.” Stiles grabbed for it, but Lydia turned her back on him. “Lydia, seriously, this isn’t fucking funny, I—”

“Here you go.” She dangled the phone in front of his face. Stiles had to blink a few times before he could read the draft she’d typed up. Had a good time the other day. When do I see you again?

“Huh,” Stiles said. It wasn’t nearly as scandalous as he’d expected it to be. “That’s… pretty good, actually.”

“I’m not trying to ruin this for you, honey,” Lydia said breezily. “Want me to send it to him?”

Stiles’ heart shot into his throat. He swallowed. “Yeah,” he said, watching the screen. “Yeah.”



Derek, it turned out, lived in a dilapidated office building-turned-apartment complex on the outskirts of town. Stiles spent a good minute mentally cursing Lydia before finally venturing a knock on the door.

“It’s open,” Derek called from within.

No way back now. Taking a deep breath to steady his stomach, Stiles stepped inside.

The loft formed a pleasant contrast to the grubby, under-lit hallways he had passed through on his way up here. It was huge; the wooden floor seemed brand new, the walls freshly painted with a warm off-white color. One of them was lined with bookcases. The long side of the room was all windows.

“Whoa,” Stiles said. “Nice place.”

“Thank you,” Derek answered somewhat stiffly. He was sitting on a couch in the corner, legs spread in a wide V. Stiles was momentarily glad he’d decided against dressing up— not only because it’d have been awkward (as if he’d been expecting a date or something) but also because it’d have drawn embarrassing attention to the fact that Derek looked better in oversized faded sweatpants and a white tank top than Stiles did in his finest Lydia-approved clothes.

Derek carefully placed a bookmark inside his book and put it down, as far away as possible from the half-full glass of liquor and crushed ice also on the coffee table. “Would you like a drink?” He got up, raked a hand through his wet-looking hair. Stiles couldn’t help but stare. Derek caught his gaze. “I’m sorry, I just got home from the gym.”

Stiles swallowed, looked away. “Sure,” he said. He started to shrug out of his hoodie. “What are you having?”


Of course Derek drank whiskey. Stiles wasn’t even surprised. He asked, “You got coffee?”

“Obviously.” Halfway through the room, Derek paused. “Cappuccino? Espresso? Latte?”

“Black is fine.” Stiles rubbed the toe of his sneaker across the softly gleaming floor. This was probably the cleanest place in all of Beacon Hills— certainly the cleanest student accommodation he’d ever set foot in. “Hey, do you need me to take off my shoes?”

The sound of a coffee grinder kicking into gear drowned out Derek’s answer. Stiles pulled his shoes off just in case, tiptoed over to the couch and, after a moment’s hesitation, sat down with his hoodie in his lap. Derek was reading the fucking Odyssey. Jesus Christ. Next to the book lay Derek’s phone; it lit up with a message – Sure! See you tomorrow X – from someone named Jen. The background image was a picture of Derek sans stubble and an older-looking girl with the exact same eyes and severe jawline. Stiles remembered Isaac mentioning that Derek had a sister. This must be her. Jen.

“Want it spiked?” Derek called out from the kitchen.

Stiles glanced at the glass on the coffee table. His mouth felt dry. “Yeah, sure,” he yelled back.

Derek returned, mug in hand. It had a wolf print on it. “Here you go. Actual fucking coffee. None of that capsule bullshit.”

“Are you knocking my Nespresso machine?”

With a smirk, Derek said, “I would never.”

“Well, lemme tell you, I wouldn’t have survived college this far without my baby. Shame it didn’t actually come with a complimentary George Clooney, but I guess you can’t have it all.”

Derek’s smirk melted down into a mild smile. “I thought Matt Damon would be more your type.”

Stiles shrugged. “To be honest I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed.” He nipped from his coffee. The alcohol in it set his throat alight, mercifully distracting him from pathetic thoughts he didn’t want to be thinking (Derek noticed my Nespresso machine!). “All right, this is delicious,” he had to admit.

“Told you,” Derek said.

They sat next to each other, sipping their drinks, without speaking for a while— long enough for Stiles’ nerves to peak. What the fuck was he even doing here? He pulled at the sleeve of his hoodie. “So, uh. You’ve got a very nice floor.”

Derek huffed in amusement. “Had to have a new one put in. Burst pipe.”

“That sucks.”

Derek shrugged. “Place needed some touching up anyway.” He leaned back, stretching. Stiles took another sip from his coffee. Derek yawned. He seemed relaxed. He didn’t seem to be feeling nervous or uncomfortable at all. He never did, come to think of it. Up close, Derek acted almost aggressively suave most of the time; from a distance you’d think him hyper-confident, seemingly a social outcast only because of his unapologetic lack of interest in other people’s lives.

It wasn’t difficult to understand why so many people felt drawn to Derek— he was, after all, a textbook example of the enigmatic bad boy. But it also wasn’t all that difficult to imagine a younger version of him pouring out a jerry can of gasoline around the house of the woman who’d scorned him.

Stiles forced the thought out of his head. “Tired?” he asked, putting his mug down.

Derek shrugged, nodded.

“I could leave.” He didn’t know what the hell he’d been thinking anyway, coming here. Of course it was going to be awkward. It’d been awkward with Heather, over too quickly, her eyes averted, his hands unsteady as he tied off the condom; it’d been forcibly faux-casual with Ethan, who’d clapped a hand down onto Stiles’ shoulder and said, “So I’ll see you around, yeah? You know where to find the front door,” on his way to the bathroom. Even when leaving all Derek-specific things out of the equation, hook-ups – in Stiles’ limited experience – were awkward more often than not.

“You just got here,” Derek said, touching his fingertips to Stiles’ neck. Stiles turned his head just as Derek’s hand slid firmly into place and Derek moved in to kiss him, gentle but purposeful, the taste of whiskey somehow sweet on his tongue.

Stiles mumbled, “Oh,” against Derek’s mouth— he couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop the word from forming and escaping.

Derek chuckled lowly. His other hand came up as well, the tips of his fingers brushing against Stiles’ scalp as they kissed. Stiles was taking the brunt of Derek’s weight, his body a solid heavy warmth; their chests bumped together when Stiles shivered at the current Derek’s touch sent across his skin.

“God,” Stiles said. “You— how are you so good at this?” All of this, I mean.

Derek bared his teeth in a smile. “Practice makes perfect,” he said, voice dark, and he pushed Stiles down into a horizontal position.

Stiles allowed his hands to wander, to cup Derek’s ass through his pants. He could feel the muscles flex under his touch. He tried to think of a good comeback, but Derek’s fingers were still in his hair, petting and softly tugging, Derek’s mouth scraping its way along his neck. All Stiles could do was choke down a noise and tilt his head back, receive whatever Derek intended to give him.

It wasn’t long until they were moving against each other, their movements measured and focused at first but soon disintegrating into arduous chaos. Stiles felt dizzy. He didn’t want to think about the way he must look right now— eager, overheated, with his head pushed far back into a throw pillow and one of his legs dangling off the couch, his fingers flexing helplessly against Derek’s shoulders, biceps, the damp tufts of hair at the back of his head.

Derek, for his part, looked like he was born for this. The flush riding his cheekbones, the downward curve of his open mouth, that contented glint in his half-closed eyes… Stiles wondered idly if Derek’s stubble was leaving scratch marks on his cheeks and throat. He kind of hoped it was.

Most obscene of all were the noises. The sound of his own hitched breathing sounded embarrassingly loud to Stiles’ ears, but he couldn’t stop it. Every quiet moan of Derek’s he had to meet with a noise of his own. He feared he might explode if he kept it all in.

Stiles couldn’t take it anymore when Derek breathed out something – “can I”, “may I” – and finally, finally reached down to where their clothed erections were rubbing against each other. The clack of Stiles’ belt coming undone, the pornographic sound of skin moving across wet skin, Derek’s blunt fingers pressing down on the head of his dick— Stiles arched upward and came hard and soundlessly with his nose buried in the curve of Derek’s clavicle.

“Fuck,” Derek murmured, shoving his sweatpants down. He was hard, leaking; Stiles’ spent dick twitched painfully at the sight. “Look at you.” Derek thrust into the tight circle of his own hand, short staccato movements, the bulge of his biceps flexing next to Stiles’ head where he was holding himself up. “So— fucking—” He grunted and tipped his head back, his come hitting Stiles’ shirt and the exposed sliver of skin where his shirt had ridden up his stomach.

They lay on top of each other, panting and quivering. After several minutes Derek pulled his sweatpants back up and got to his feet. He was barefoot, Stiles noticed hazily as Derek padded away from the couch. Barefoot and beautiful.

“Tissues,” Derek announced, dropping a box onto Stiles’ stomach.

Stiles groaned. “Thanks.” He dabbed at the come – Derek’s come – on his shirt. His own had left a dark stain in his jeans. “Couldn’t have pulled my pants down?”

“Couldn’t have pulled your own pants down?” Derek retorted. “You gonna keep making me do all the work, or what?”

“Hey, that’s not fair. I blew you last time.”

“Still made me take off your pants.”

Stiles threw the tissue box at Derek’s head. Derek caught it, smirking. His hair looked messy, floppy. It was a good look on him— not necessarily better than the gelled-up look, but… gentler. Softer. It made Stiles want to run his hands through it again. It made him want to doze off next to Derek on this very couch, to wake up with one of those strong arms slung around his waist and Derek’s chest plastered against his back, rising and falling with deep untroubled sleep.

Stiles fabricated a sigh. “Fine,” he said, sitting up. “I hereby swear that next time I’ll take off my own pants, all right? That good enough for you?”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Derek said. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. “You busy this week?”



After that, their relationship—

Wait, no. Stiles couldn’t bring himself to refer to it as such. It made his thoughts stray too close to the romantic definition of the word, and whatever this thing between him and Derek was, it definitely wasn’t that. He couldn’t exactly call it a friendship either. It was more of an acquaintanceship, really, in the sense that they saw each other pretty often – a few times a week – but didn’t actually talk much.

They talked some, sure. They talked superficially about their classes, about Erica, about the piles of coursework they’d still have to shoulder their way through and how they should really stop procrastinating so much. Most of their conversation, though, was limited to short phrases of the “Fuck,” and “Yeah, you like that?” and “You look so good like this,” variety.

(Derek especially was fond of murmuring things like that— oh yeah, look at you, so fucking hot. One time, when he stopped by the loft for a quick mutual handjob on his way home from Jungle, Stiles tipsily made the mistake of telling Derek, “You can probably do much better than me, but…” Derek had stomped on that pretty hard and fast. Stiles wasn’t keeping track or anything, but if you pressed him, well, Derek did seem to breathe those maddening little words of appreciation into his ear even more often since.)

All right, so: after that, their acquaintanceship slowly began to fall into a comfortable pattern. Over the weeks, they established a number of ground rules, almost— some of which seemed to emerge almost of their own accord, for practical reasons, and others not so much.

First of all, they didn’t meet at Stiles’ dorm. Not often, at least. Derek did come over once or twice, like when his morning class turned out to be canceled, or that one afternoon when he “happened to be nearby”, crowded Stiles back into the room, pushed him up against the door and was down on his knees with Stiles’ dick in his mouth before Stiles could say sure, I’ve got half an hour.

In general, though, it made more sense to meet at Derek’s. The walls in the dormitories were paper-thin, plus there was ever the risk of Erica walking in on them (“If I ever catch you two in the act I swear to God I will skin you both where you lie,” she loved to remind Stiles). Derek seemed to more or less actively avoid running into other students, and Stiles was pretty fond of the loft anyway. He liked its high ceilings, the smell of books and filtered sunlight and freshly ground coffee beans. The spectacular view on Beacon Hills. He liked the giddy trill in his stomach on the drive over, that smug feeling of I’m about to get laid.

He wondered, occasionally, when that would start to fade.

They didn’t really acknowledge each other on school grounds either. Stiles barely saw Derek around anyway – “Do you ever even go to class?” he asked once, in response to which Derek just snorted – so it always startled him a little to catch sight of Derek stomping across campus with his hands pushed deeply into the pockets of his leather jacket, broad shoulders drawn as though to shield himself from some extremely localized gust of wind.

To be honest, Stiles probably wouldn’t even know what to say to Derek if they were to stop and talk. It felt like enough to nod and half-smile at each other, to witness Derek’s scowl relax ever so slightly when their eyes met.

In a similar vein, they never texted each other random shit. Sexts happened, they did, but they tended to be pragmatic and to the point in nature. For example, Derek would send Come over, or just a picture of his morning wood. (I’m in class, Stiles texted back mournfully. So? was Derek’s response. Stiles said, I’ll try to sneak out in the break but only if you promise to make me coffee, to which Derek replied with a picture of his coffee machine pouring out a cup. Stiles bit down on a smile. “Put your phone away, Mr. Stilinski,” his professor said sharply. “You’re not in high school anymore.” Stiles didn’t manage to sneak out; instead, he visited the bookstore later that afternoon to make it up to Derek.)

One of the most important unspoken rules concerned Derek’s past. They never talked about it— or about Stiles’, for that matter. Stiles knew that Derek knew about his mom’s death. He also knew for a fact that Derek knew Stiles knew about the Hales’ accident. Everybodyknew about the Hales. It simply didn’t need discussing.

It happened by accident. Stiles hadn’t even been prying; it’d been a normal question, an innocent question, something like so how was your weekend. Small talk, nothing else. No ulterior motives. But then Derek said, among other things, “I visited my uncle,” and Stiles, he should’ve just let it slide, but—

“Your uncle?” he asked, incredulous. It was the first time Derek had ever mentioned any of his surviving family members to him.

The second the words left his mouth, Stiles knew he shouldn’t have said anything. Derek flinched, an actual full-body flinch, and then froze. Stiles could practically see the shutters clatter down across his face, wiping it of its expression.

Stiles’ stomach sank accordingly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just… I had no idea—”

“It’s fine,” Derek interrupted him. He sat up brusquely. “I shouldn’t have mentioned— just forget I said anything.”

It was one of the few times things between them fizzled out awkwardly, neither of their dicks particularly responsive to the other’s touch anymore. Stiles drove home with his skin itching and thrumming all over. Erica – breaking her own ground rule of not discussing Derek with Stiles for the first and only time – told him that Peter Hale had spent the past two years in a burn care facility in San Francisco, comatose with little to no chance of recovery.

Stiles couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’m so sorry, he sent to Derek. I didn’t mean to upset you. He felt nauseous. Over three hours later, Derek replied, Don’t worry about it.

Neither of them mentioned Derek’s family again.

The number one rule, though, was no sleepovers.

This one definitely hadn’t been Stiles’ idea. He and Scott must have spent hundreds of nights sleeping on each other’s bedroom floor back when they were kids. These days Erica sometimes crawled into bed with him when she couldn’t sleep. It was a snug fit, in their standard-issue dorm beds, but it worked fine. If anything, Stiles preferred sharing a bed to sleeping alone. There was something about the presence and proximity of another warm body that calmed him down, made him feel more at ease within his own skin.

No sleepovers was the only rule Derek had been explicit about, though. After the first time they actually fucked, a couple of weeks into the whole thing, Stiles – exhausted and aching and spent, but utterly satisfied – almost drifted off in Derek’s bed. Derek shook him awake and handed him his clothes, in a neatly folded pile. The look of frantic urgency in his eyes had Stiles scramble out of the door as fast as he could, with a lump the size of a brick lodged in his throat and only one shoe on.

When he got home his phone buzzed with a text. It said, I’m sorry. I’ll explain later.

“Look, about last time,” Derek said the next time they met up. “I don’t— I can’t sleep with someone else in my bed.” He looked away. “It’s a thing,” he said, jaw tight. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Stiles said. And, because it felt like a sharing kind of moment and he didn’t like this unfamiliar expression of vulnerability on Derek’s face, “I, uh, I slept with a nightlight ’till I was thirteen. Scott used to tease me about it. But then he always brought his teddy bear on sleepovers, so.”

Derek smiled softly, but it didn’t reach his eyes.



“Dude,” Isaac said, leaning around Scott. “I heard the craziest rumor the other day.”

Stiles could tell where this was going from the glint in Isaac’s eyes. Refusing to take the bait, he said, “What?” while keeping one eye on Professor Graeme.

Isaac leaned in closer. “I heard you’ve been fucking Derek. Derek Hale. Is it true?”

“Dude,” Scott said. He gently pushed Isaac back. “Trying to pay attention over here.”

“Holy fuck,” Isaac whispered. “So it’s true, right? You’re fucking Derek Hale?”

“I’m also trying to pay attention,” Stiles tried, but he could feel his face flush.

Isaac let out a quiet, disbelieving laugh. “Wow. I don’t know whether to be concerned or impressed.”

Stiles smoothed out a crease in his textbook page and thought of Derek, Derek’s warm callused hands on him, Derek closed-eyed and loose-mouthed. “I’d be jealous, if I were you,” he said in a low voice.

Scott’s eyes flitted in his direction, but Isaac just laughed.

“Gentlemen,” Graeme said. “Five more minutes of your time, please.”

“Sorry, Professor.”

As soon as class was dismissed, Isaac came over. “I can’t believe you’re actually fucking him,” he said, leaning against Stiles’ table. “Boyd told me he overheard Aiden tell Ethan that his neighbor claimed he saw you leave Hale’s building a while ago, but I didn’t know if I could believe him. Dude’s high as a kite, like, 24/7. The neighbor, I mean, not Boyd. And Lydia refused to tell me anything, of course.”

God bless Lydia Martin. Stiles zipped up his backpack and slung it across his shoulder. He watched his classmates file slowly out of the lecture hall.

“It’s been going on for weeks,” Scott was saying to Isaac. “You gotta work on your observation skills, man.”

“Well, I’d noticed he wasn’t as twitchy and kept leaving Jungle early, but I wasn’t expecting this,” Isaac defended himself. “I thought he was just having a little crush, something like that.”

“Guys,” Stiles said. “I’m right here.”

Isaac put a hand on his shoulder. “Sorry, dude. It’s just kind of weird. I mean, it’s cool, obviously. Good for you. But also weird.”

He looked— he had this guarded and slightly indecisive look on his face that Stiles didn’t like very much. “Well, it’s happening,” he said, shrugging Isaac’s hand off. “Not much else I can say.”

Isaac was studying his face. “You do, like, know about him, right?”

Stiles knew the way Derek’s face went slack when he came. He knew the way Derek’s eyes fluttered shut when Stiles sucked him off, the way Derek’s breath hitched when Stiles’ fingertips brushed against his balls. He knew the way Derek took it slow, took his time, kept asking Stiles if he was all right, used gloves and lots of lube. He knew the languid, unhurried way Derek moved against him when he was tired, had just gotten home from the gym, hair wet, hands steady. “Yeah,” Stiles said. He cleared his throat. “I’m pretty sure I do.”

“I mean…” Isaac faltered, glanced at Scott.

Stiles’ chest was starting to feel tight. “What?” he said, looking at Scott as well.

Scott looked away. He was fiddling with the strap of his backpack. “Look, I don’t know,” he said eventually. “Stiles, you already know how I feel about this. You can make your own decisions. And besides,” he said to Isaac, “I trust his judgment more than the opinion of dozens of people I don’t know. If Stiles trusts Derek, I don’t see a reason to doubt that.”

“Guys!” Stiles said. “It’s not like I’m planning to get married to the guy, all right? We’re just fucking. That’s all.”

“Well, I sure hope you’re using protection,” Isaac muttered.

A hot steel wire of anger and dread coiled around Stiles’ throat. “The fuck are you trying to say, Isaac?” he asked, louder than he meant to.

Isaac seemed torn. “Look, I—”

“Just fucking say it.”

“It’s just that I’ve heard he hasn’t exactly changed his habits,” Isaac said. “You know that English Lit teacher, Jennifer Blake? He seems awfully friendly with her. Like, way too friendly. I overheard someone making a ‘history repeating’ joke about it the other day.”

Jennifer. Jen.Stiles’ heart was pounding in his ears.

Isaac continued, his voice softer this time, “I really don’t mean to upset you, man. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I do,” Stiles said, throat tightening further. “Thank you very much for your concern.” He turned and left. Scott said, “Stiles—” but he didn’t look back.



“Oh God,” Lydia said, inclining her head. “You’re moping, aren’t you?”

“Just shut the door behind you,” Stiles muttered as he shuffled back to his bed. “And I’m not moping!” he called over his shoulder, flopping down.

“Your curtains are closed, you’re wearing your oversized BHU hoodie, you’re walking around wrapped in your comforter, and you’re watching…” Lydia bent down to look at his laptop screen. Stiles couldn’t close his browser fast enough— “Grey’s Anatomy,” Lydia sighed. “Good Lord, he’s watching Grey’s Anatomy.”

“So?” Stiles said defensively. “It’s not a bad show, all right, it’s, like, pretty decent when it comes to representation, and Cristina Yang is hands down one of the greatest characters on television today, and—”

“And it also happens to be the show you only watch when you’re feeling supremely sorry for yourself.” Lydia click-clacked her way to the other side of the room and threw open the curtains, then the window.



Stiles wrinkled his nose at her and exited out of the Netflix tab. “Whatever.”

“Okay,” Lydia said, settling down by his side. “Tell me what happened.”

“Nothing happened.” Stiles turned to squint at her. “You’re not here to say I told you so, right? Because if you are, then you can—”

“I’m here to sit and patiently listen to your explanation of why Scott texted me to tell you to reply to his text messages, why Isaac Lahey spent about a week trying – and miserably failing, may I add – to interrogate me about your sex life, and why you weren’t in Gender Studies just now and reportedly skipped your morning class too.”

Stiles resisted the urge to bang the back of his head against the wall. “Jesus. And I thought high school was bad.”

“Big Brother is watching us all,” Lydia agreed. “Anyway, I’m guessing all of the above can be traced to a single cause. Am I right?”

Stiles’ stomach did that warm little tug he had come to associate with Derek. “More or less, yeah.” Lying to Lydia would be a useless endeavor. “But not in the way you’re thinking.”

“I’m not thinking anything.”

“Oh, come on. You’ve got that look on your face that means you’re about two seconds away from offering to call in a ‘favor’ from one of your, how to put it, seedier acquaintances.”

Lydia pulled a face of faux surprise. “First of all, I don’t have seedy acquaintances, and second of all, I would never.”

“Yes you would, and I love you for it. But I’m pretty sure there’s no one in Beacon Hills who could take on Derek Hale as far as fat-to-muscle ratio is concerned, and besides, he didn’t actually do anything wrong.”

“Which is why you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy.”

Stiles breathed out a long sigh and hooked his thumbs into the sleeves of his hoodie. “All right, I was moping,” he admitted. “Am moping. Whatever. But it’s not Derek’s fault. Not exactly, anyway. You hear about the Jennifer Blake thing?” The name felt like ashes on his tongue. When Lydia nodded sympathetically, Stiles continued, “Right. So that’s not exactly the coolest thing to ever have happened, but— but,” he repeated louder when Lydia moved as though to speak up, “I don’t have a right to be upset about it.”

“Well, I—”

“We’re just fuckbuddies, Lyds. We’re not even friends with benefits. I barely know shit about the guy, all right? All I know is that he’s fucking built like a Greek god and that I want to have sex with him, like, all the time, and that for some incomprehensible reason he wants to have sex with me, too. And I know that he seems intimidating, and I know everyone says he’s the biggest flirt ever, and that they all hate him, but he’s…”

Fuck. Fucking Derek. Fucking Derek with his maddening self-confidence. Fucking Derek with his dick and his gentle hands and his guarded, unreadable eyes.

“We never agreed to be monogamous,” Stiles said, and he hated the undertone of bitterness that was threatening to creep into his voice. “We never defined anything.” It was kind of the point of the whole thing. Blow your load first, ask no questions later. The college experience. “So. That’s it. That’s the story.”

Lydia nodded, eyes big and kind. “All right,” she said, straightening up. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to give you a choice. Option A, we sit like this for a while. I pat your back and make you tea and let you finish your episode, and I might even refrain from complaining when you spill tears onto my new dress.”

Stiles felt himself smile. “What’s option B?”

“Option B is I tell you honestly what I think about all this and what I think you should do.”

“Damn.” Option A sounded tempting, no doubt about it, but Stiles knew it was about time he made a decision. Sex with Derek was fantastic, it was mind-blowing, but it wasn’t enough. Isaac’s rumor about Professor Blake was but a drop in the ocean of inscrutability that surrounded Derek Hale. If Stiles wanted to keep doing this – and he did, he did – something would have to change. The whole thing was built on a foundation too brittle to last much longer.

“All right,” he said. “Give it to me. Don’t hold back.”

“I think you should either break it off or demand he let you in.”

There was a soft ringing in Stiles’ ears. “Please elaborate, if you will.”

“You can’t trust him,” Lydia stated matter-of-factly. “You don’t know what’s true and what isn’t, and because of that you can’t trust him. You need to find out more about him.”

Stiles thought back to the way Derek’s face had fallen when Stiles tried to engage in conversation about Peter Hale. He’d looked overwhelmed, crushed. Terrified. “He doesn’t want to talk about his family.”

“Can’t always get what you want. Life doesn’t work that way.”

“I don’t tell everyone about my mom either,” Stiles pointed out. “You don’t like to talk about your parents’ divorce. And what happened to the Hales…”

Lydia cast him a withering glare. “If you’re going to play Devil’s advocate, at least try harder. You’re not ‘everyone’ in this situation, Stiles. Even if you’re just fuckbuddies, as you keep saying, if you’re going to continue engaging in a sexual relationship with Derek Hale you have a right to know more about him. You need to know more about him. You made that joke about him burning down your apartment. That’s not a healthy foundation for any kind of relationship, no matter how superficial.”

“It was a joke, Lydia, I don’t actually think—”

“He would do something like that?”


“But he got arrested for it. Caught in the act. Zippo in hand.”

There was no denying that. “Charges were dropped, though.”

“Which is also weird,” Lydia said. “When your teenage ex-lover, whose entire family has just died a horrible and unexpected death, a.k.a. you have every single reason to assume he’s mentally unhinged, shows up at your house and starts to douse your yard in gasoline, why suffice with a restraining order? Why not get him locked the fuck away while you can?”

Stiles shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know, okay? I’m not Kate fucking Argent, I—”

“Oh my God.” Lydia threw her hands up. “Isn’t it obvious?! He’s hiding something! You were right, Stiles, there’s something fishy about this. The Kate thing, the attempted arson, the dropped charges, everything. All of it. And it’s about time you looked into it.”

Stiles knew that. He’d known it for weeks— he just hadn’t wanted to admit it to himself. Instead, he’d ignored it, kept pushing it away. He sighed. Lydia Martin: a blessing and a curse.

“I wouldn’t know how to go about that, though,” he said. The image of Derek’s face, vacant and terse, mouth a tight sad line, popped up in his mind’s eye again. “He just… shuts down. And I don’t want to ruin this.” He added, “I mean, like, because the sex is great.”

“Jeez,” Lydia said. She sat back and delicately placed her fingers against her chin. “If only there was some kind of place where information about these kinds of incidents was stored. Like, oh, I don’t know, a police database. And if only we had some way to access that kind of information.”

For the record, Stiles really did try to say no, to be a responsible adult, a responsible son. But his laptop was right in front of him, and Lydia was looking up at him all expectantly, and Derek’s face loomed large in the back of his mind, and—

“Oh, fuck it,” he said.


Two hours later, after combing their way through the arson case, the medical file on Derek’s uncle, Kate Argent’s record, and, ultimately, hacking into the police report of the Hales’ accident, they found something.

“There,” Lydia said, pointing at the screen. “There. See that?”

“Holy fuck.” Stiles highlighted the small passage and copy-pasted it into their Word document. “Holy fucking shit, Lyds.”

“I told you there was something fishy about this.”

“Screw that, I told you there was something was fishy about this!”

Lydia rolled her eyes. “Details. Jesus, Stiles, this is serious, though.”

Stiles nodded. He felt vaguely nauseous. He re-read the sentences. Indications of foul play. Further investigation required. Last edited 06/14/’11 Investigation closed. Document sealed.

But why the fuck would someone have wanted Derek’s parents and little sister dead? And, more importantly, who?



Stiles was in class, half-listening to Jackson Whittemore and some other guy drone on about… something, when his phone lit up with a Facebook message from Lydia. The Hales themselves are squeaky clean, it said. They ran that wolf sanctuary up north, but that’s it. Nothing. Can’t find anything on them and I looked pretty much everywhere.

Please tell me you didn’t just hack the FBI, Stiles typed back.

It’s fine. I’m on Aiden’s laptop. If anything goes awry, he’ll take the fall.

“You’re ruthless,” Stiles murmured at his phone screen, in awe. He watched Jackson read stoically from his notes, lack of interest written all over his face. Wonder if you realize how much of a bullet you dodged there, buddy. Lydia was not one to be trifled with.

Stiles’ phone buzzed again. Kate Argent’s a different story, though.

He turned off the vibrate function. What do you mean?

Under investigation for unlawful possession of military arms a while ago. Amounted to nothing, though. And she used to be an avid collector of DUIs, but here’s the thing: she didn’t have to appear in court for any of them.

What? Stiles almost said it out loud. He glanced around; everyone was either staring at Jackson and his presentation partner with the exact same glassy-eyed expression or engrossed in their own smartphones or laptops. In the back, someone was sipping from a bottle of Gatorade, its contents too wine red for it to pass convincingly as a sports drink.

Lydia wrote, My point exactly. Repeat offense and all she gets is a couple of lousy fines. Not even a license suspension.

Stiles frowned at his phone screen. That’s insane.

Yup. Suspicious to say the least. Oh, and gramps was on some pretty serious anti-psychotic meds before he died (cancer) a few years back. Allison never even met him, says her dad purposefully kept him away from her.

Whoa. The plot kept thickening. Thanks, Lyds. Remind me to stay on your good side, yeah?

Lydia sent him a wink.

Stiles put his phone away. He had a heady, sinking feeling in his stomach, like when they’d found out about the Hales’ accident possibly being— not an accident. A triple homicide that had reduced one man to a vegetable, permanently, and left at least one other person traumatized in its wake. Even worse, it was starting to look more and more like the local police department had been in on it too. Some of it at least. Stiles couldn’t stop his thoughts from flitting to his dad. A bitter taste filled his mouth. What if this was a hornet’s nest better left unstirred?

“So this was our presentation,” Jackson Whittemore said, clicking through to the final slide of their PowerPoint. “Are there any questions.”

The date in the right-hand corner of the projection screen sucked in Stiles’ attention. His stomach wavered, then sank further. He swallowed. He breathed slowly and evenly until eventually, the pain began to lessen.



As per tradition, Stiles and his dad went for brunch at his mom’s favorite diner on the anniversary of her death. It was nice, leaving the BHU world – with all its deadlines and mysteries and constant mass surveillance – behind for a few hours. It was nice to settle down in a booth with a milkshake and catch up with his dad, watch him fail not to blush when Stiles asked him if he’d finally buckled down and asked Melissa McCall out on a date yet. It was nice enough that Stiles’ mind didn’t once stray.

The second he set foot on campus grounds again, though, a familiar weight descended on his shoulders. He ignored it, pushed through. It’d been eleven years now; it didn’t make sense for it to hurt more on this date. But it did, for some reason it did. It always did.

Stiles felt like he was in a haze throughout most of his afternoon lecture. Scott, mercifully, held everyone at bay, told Professor Graeme that Stiles had a sore throat so he wouldn’t be able to answer any questions today. Isaac kept his distance.

Toward the end of class, Scott squeezed Stiles’ knee under the table and asked if there was anything he could do.

Stiles shook his head. “You’re doing it,” he said. Scott half-smiled sadly and ruffled his hair.

Everything felt vaguely far away. Stiles kept tuning in and out. He floated back to his building and curled up on his bed with a cup of coffee and Grey’s Anatomy. His skin itched and thrummed. He couldn’t calm down. There was a storm brewing in his chest, pulsing, building.

He went for a long run, ran until his chest was pounding and threatening to explode, but it wasn’t enough. He took a twenty-minute shower, the water scalding hot, but it wasn’t enough. Erica brought him food from the dining hall, watched another episode with him, but it wasn’t enough.

At seven o’clock, Stiles made a decision. Are you home, he texted Derek. He started typing I need a distraction but deleted it when Derek’s reply came through.

I’ve got until 11.

Stiles exhaled, something unwinding inside him. I’ll be there in ten.

Spare key’s under the doormat.


Stiles hadn’t meant to contact Derek until— until what, exactly?

(Not until there was certainty about the Jennifer thing, that was for sure. It was only a rumor, and besides, he and Derek were just fucking. They never agreed to be exclusive. Stiles would have no right to be upset about it, which was why he wasn’t.)

He hadn’t meant to contact Derek until he’d figured out what to do with the information he and Lydia had uncovered. Or rather, until he and Lydia had uncovered any information to speak of. They didn’t have anything yet. Maybe the suspected foul play was bullshit; maybe the Kate Argent scandal had nothing to do with it after all. Either way, Stiles had thought it best to keep his distance.

On the drive over, though, he felt the calmest he had since leaving his dad that morning. He took the stairs by two, arrived on the top floor with his lungs burning. He let himself into Derek’s place, flung his bag down, his coat away—

“Hey,” Derek said.

Warm, tall, broad Derek. Stiles molded himself against his front. He knew Derek would be able to feel the racing of his heart, see the sheen of sweat on his forehead, but he didn’t care. He needed this right now.

“Hey,” he said, smushing the last syllable between their tongues, kissing Derek deeply and urgently. Derek staggered backward, his arms winding around Stiles’ waist to keep them both upright. Like lovers on a train platform, Stiles thought blurrily, delusionally. Involuntarily. He pressed closer and fisted his hands into Derek’s shirt. Derek was wearing a button-down, a soft blue one. He looked good in it. He looked so good in it that Stiles found himself fumbling hastily at the buttons, desperate to get it off.

“We got a deadline?” Derek asked. He sounded amused and his mouth was red and glistening and his hair was messy, and— and Stiles must have done that, at some point in-between curving both his hands around Derek’s jaw to keep him in place while they kissed and pawing at the front of his shirt. Stiles must have run his hands through Derek’s hair, tugged at it to make it stand up at the back.

He took a breath. “Eleven, right?”

“Yeah, but it’s…” Derek glanced at the clock. “It’s seven fifteen.”

Stiles felt his mouth pull into a grin. He arrived at the last button, shoved his hands beneath Derek’s shirt. Derek swayed, made a noise. His eyes fluttered shut for a second.

“Hey,” Stiles said. “You wanna fuck?” It was something they didn’t do often, as it took a lot out of them both, not to mention a lot of effort and preparation, and also Derek was just so damn good with his hands, his tongue, his eyes, with his mouth, sometimes coaxing Stiles to the brink of orgasm on words and looks alone.

“I showered,” he added, and though the words sounded odd, almost comically out of place, they did manage to carry the right meaning across, because Derek’s eyes darkened and the corner of his mouth quirked upward. “Yeah?” he asked, stepping closer. “Did you think about me?” His hands dipped lower, fingers slipping into the waistband of Stiles’ boxer shorts.

“’Course I did.” Stiles found Derek’s belt buckle, started to pull the leather tongue from its straps. “Fingered myself, couldn’t get the angle right, it felt nothing like you— but I bet I’m still wet enough to—”

Derek let out an almost animalistic groan and hoisted him up, carried him to the bed.

After spending all day in a haze of detachment, Stiles felt strangely focused now. His body came alive under Derek’s touch. It felt like his again, and he reveled in the sensation of Derek’s hands on his skin, Derek sucking a mark into the side of his neck, the length of Derek’s dick pressing against his own.

Derek always seemed to know exactly what to do to Stiles, where to touch him, how to make him keen and arch. It’d be embarrassing if it weren’t for the look on Derek’s face when Stiles responded to him like that. Not just smug. Pleased. Content, almost.

Stiles felt like going down on Derek, like feeling the weight of his dick on his tongue, the taste of him, the smell, but Derek, it seemed, had other plans. He maneuvered Stiles onto his front, pressed two gloved fingers into him, crooking and searching until—

“Fuck,” Stiles panted. He moved his hips against the mattress. “Fuck, Derek.”

Derek laughed quietly against the space between Stiles’ shoulder blades and twisted his fingers in deeper. “You are wet,” he said, voice low.

“Lube,” Stiles said. He cushioned his forehead on the back of his hand. “I used lube.” He was shamelessly grinding back against Derek’s fingers now, fucking himself on them.

Derek exhaled heavily. “For me?”

And, yes, on some subconscious level Stiles had probably been hoping for this to happen— maybe even expecting Derek to make him feel better. Well, it worked, didn’t it? a voice in his head said defensively, and yes, it had worked, but it wasn’t— it wasn’t good, because this was Derek, Derek Hale, who’d fucked half of New York City and was fucking Jennifer Blake and God knows who else. Derek Hale whose parents had possibly been murdered, who was probably more fucked-up than anyone realized, who had way more of a reason, a right than Stiles to walk around scatterbrained with grief—

“Yeah,” Stiles whispered. He lifted his hips higher. “For you.”

He went half-hard waiting for Derek to dispose of the glove, roll on a condom, slick up, sink inside slowly. Strong hands curved around his hips, thumbs passing back and forth across his skin, and Stiles thought about how he wouldn’t mind for it to hurt tonight, just a little, just enough to make his eyes water and his throat burn. His leg muscles were throbbing vaguely but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to feel this for days on end.

“C’mon,” he told Derek. “Fuck me. I’m ready.”

Derek laughed again, softly. He pulled out, thrust back inside. His pace felt measured, meticulously thought-out, as though he was planning to keep it up all night. Stiles’ stomach twisted at that. He could feel it tingle down from his toes to his fingertips, a warm river of lust, but for some reason he was still only half-hard.

Harder, he wanted to tell Derek, harder, fuck me harder, make me feel it— but his body wasn’t responding. He was starting to slip away from it again. He clawed his hands into the mattress and pushed back. He wasn’t feeling it but he wanted to be feeling it, wanted to feel it so badly, wanted to feel Derek, just Derek—

Derek stopped moving, no no no don’t stop, his hand heavy on Stiles’ neck. “Stiles?” he asked. “You okay?”

And Stiles didn’t mean to, meant to say yes or I’m fine or please, please but instead this awkward little noise bubbled up from the back of his throat, something like a half-sob. Mortified, he slapped his hand across his mouth. “I’m—” Fine was the word he was looking for, fine, but instead he said, “I’m sorry, I—”

Derek was out and off of him within a matter of seconds.

Which made sense, of course it did, Stiles was here to have sex, they were just fuckbuddies, and if Stiles wasn’t, if he couldn’t—

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, grabbing for something, anything, a pair of boxers, a shirt. His hands found Derek’s button-down; he pulled it across his lap and scrambled off the bed. “I’m sorry, I’ll just get out of your way.”

He made it halfway to the door before realizing he couldn’t leave, not like this. He paused, took a deep breath. Get your shit together. It wasn’t until he closed his eyes that he noticed how heavy his eyelids were, how bone-tired he felt.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice came from somewhere behind him. His tone of voice was gentle and undemanding enough to make Stiles turn around. Derek was still standing next to the bed in all his naked glory, face carefully blank. He hadn’t reached for Stiles when Stiles brushed past him, hadn’t told him to stop or explain or get the fuck out. He looked like he would’ve let Stiles walk out of here with only his, Derek’s, shirt if that’s what Stiles had truly wanted. A comforting thought.

“I’m fine,” Stiles said, belatedly finding the right word.

A few seconds of silence.

“I’ve got wine, if you’d like some,” Derek said. He sounded hesitant, and the words seemed so incongruent with the situation that all Stiles could do was snort wetly, tiredly. It sounded disgusting but he was past the point of caring. He was so tired.

“Yeah,” he said. “That… I’d like some.”

Derek moved closer. “Okay,” he said, touching the small of Stiles’ back. “Go sit down. I’ll pour you a glass.” His touch felt good. Grounding.

While Derek disappeared into the kitchen, Stiles got dressed and sat down on the couch. The television was on, muted; he watched it without really seeing anything. Some kind of sports game. Derek reappeared with a large glass of red wine. Stiles reached for it, took a sip.

“Good?” Derek said.

Stiles nodded.

“Okay. Good.” Derek turned on the sound, low, and handed Stiles the remote control. His fingertips brushed across the back of Stiles’ neck. “You comfortable?”

Stiles nodded again.

“Okay.” And then Derek went back to the bed, pulled on a shirt and a pair of jeans and lay down. He didn’t say anything else, didn’t demand an explanation, didn’t tell Stiles to leave— he just grabbed a textbook and a marker and stretched out on the bed, his bare toes pointing at the ceiling.

Stiles drank his wine and watched the game. The wine tasted delicate, expensive; as the minutes passed he could feel it seep into his system, taking the edge off the buzz of anxiety and toning it down to a quiet hum. When the glass was empty Stiles continued to hold it, rolling it around between his palms. Derek stretched, cleared his throat. The TV was blaring commercials into the room.

Stiles made a decision.

He muted the television, set the glass down, and got to his feet. He crossed the room. He knelt on the mattress, next to Derek, and, without saying anything, molded himself against Derek’s side.

Derek made a soft noise. He lifted his arm to accommodate Stiles. His hand curled loosely around Stiles’ shoulder. He turned a page.

Stiles let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

“It’s the anniversary of her death,” he said after a few long moments, because surely he owed Derek – beautiful, enigmatic Derek, who was managing to do all the right things without even trying – some sort of explanation. “My mom. It’s stupid, I’m sorry.”

“It’s not stupid,” Derek said.

Stiles closed his eyes. “It’s been eleven years. It doesn’t make sense.”

“What do you mean?”

“That it affects me more. On this date. It doesn’t make sense.”

Derek was quiet for a while. Then he said, “Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe you refuse to let it hurt you as much on other days. Because you wouldn’t be able to cope. Maybe this is the one day of respite you allow yourself.”

Stiles stayed silent, stayed still. He kept his eyes shut. Anything not to nudge Derek out of this uncharacteristically reflective mood. Derek didn’t say anything else, though. His chest continued to rise and fall under Stiles’ cheek and Derek continued to turn pages, highlight phrases. His hand continued to rest on Stiles’ shoulder.

After a while, Stiles drifted off to sleep. He slept soundly, dreaming about nothing at all, until Derek shook him awake at—

“What time is it?” Stiles asked, voice rough.

“Quarter past twelve.”

Stiles sat up and rubbed the sleep crust from his eyes. A muscle in the side of his neck throbbed dully. He rubbed at it too. “Did you sleep?” he asked Derek, whose eyes looked huge and dark in the unlit room.

Derek shook his head curtly.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Stiles’ knees were still pressing against Derek’s thigh. Derek moved as though to touch them but pulled back at the last moment, smoothed out a crease in his jeans instead. “I get these— they’re like night terrors,” he said, like an afterthought, like this was a thing they did; talking about themselves, sharing personal information with each other.

Maybe it was, now.

Stiles held very still.

“Pretty much every time I fall asleep.” Derek’s thumb and index finger closed around a loose thread on the side seam of his pants, tugged at it. “I have, there’s these moments when I’m paralyzed, and I can’t do anything, and I relive— things, memories. Images. Very vivid. And I can’t do anything about it but wait ’till it’s over.” He looked up at Stiles, face still hard to read in the dark, and looked away again. “So that’s why. That’s why you can’t stay over.”

“Well, at least I get to sleep on you,” Stiles said after a while. He hoped it wasn’t the wrong thing to say.

Derek smiled, thank God, and stroked Stiles’ knee with one fingertip. “Come on,” he said, sitting up. “I’ll drive you home.”

They kissed goodbye after pulling up to Stiles’ building, which was unusual for them. Stiles didn’t allow himself to think too much about it, not even when Erica threw a plush toy at him and murmured, “Stop smiling so loudly, Stilinski, ’m trying to sleep over here.”



Stiles sent Derek a message the next morning. Thank you. Derek didn’t reply, but then, he rarely did. Stiles didn’t have time to dwell on it— he had a paper to finish, a presentation to prepare. From time to time he caught his thoughts wandering off, wandering back to that moment in the car; the strangely gentle press of Derek’s lips against his, the way he’d murmured, “Good night, Stiles,” with his eyes glistening warmly as though he’d almost said something else, something different. Something more significant.

Stiles didn’t have time to dwell on any of it, but from time to time he caught himself smiling down on his notes.

Four days later, the sound of a short sharp knock echoed through Stiles’ room. He had already half-turned back to his desk after opening the door when he realized—

It was Derek.

Derek was standing in the doorway, hands by his sides. His beard was fuller than it had been the last time Stiles had seen him; he was wearing one of those simple dark-colored henleys that accentuated the contours of his body, and Stiles would’ve leaned in to kiss him on the spot if it weren’t for the feeling that a wrecking ball had just punched a gaping hole into his chest.

Something was wrong. He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew.

Derek steadily met his eyes. “Can I come in?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Stiles said, taking a step back. His voice came out raspy; he cleared his throat. “Yeah, sure.”

Derek stepped around him, into the room. Stiles could feel his heartbeat in his throat, staccato and painful. He moved to shut the door.

“Stiles,” Derek said behind him.

Stiles realized he was still facing the door. He let go of the handle and turned around to face Derek. He felt like he was tasting blood but it was probably his imagination.

Derek said, mechanically, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Stiles’ ears were ringing. He didn’t say anything.

“It’s too— I don’t…” Derek trailed off.

Stiles didn’t say anything.

Derek cleared his throat. He continued, in the same dispassionate tone of voice, “The last time we saw each other, it wasn’t. It didn’t go according to the rules—”

Stiles couldn’t keep it in anymore. “Rules?” he sputtered. The force of his own voice surprised him. His hands were curled to fists, he realized. They were shaking. “Are you kidding me?”

Derek glanced downward. The corner of his mouth twitched, and when he locked eyes with Stiles again he looked— he looked exposed, naked, his face open and sad. But the hot pain in Stiles’ throat had given way to an itching fire. He was angry, goddamnit, and the anger surged through his veins, made him clench his fists even tighter.

“You can’t be serious,” he said bitterly. “It’s not like we signed a fucking contract, Derek, what the hell?

Something flickered behind Derek’s eyes and here came the shutters again, clattering down his face to turn it into a neutral mask, and Stiles was done with this, so fucking done with Derek Hale. He’d been perfect last time, absolutely perfect, he’d done all the right things and there had been something there, something between them, Stiles had felt it, he wasn’t— he wasn’t delusional about this, wasn’t imagining things, something was happening between the two of them and damn Derek if he thought Stiles would give it up without a fight.

“I thought you were different,” he choked out.

Derek was staring at a point on the wall. “Guess I’m not.”

“Let me finish,” Stiles said, the words shaking with rage. “Oh and by the way, screw you, you hear me? Screw. You. ’Cause I don’t believe you for a second. From the start I thought— I knew, I just knew you were different from what everyone was saying about you. And you know what, I was right, you asshole. I was right and you proved it to me.”

Derek’s eyes flickered to meet his again.

“So don’t give me this shit now.” His voice was starting to sound raw. “All this time I respected your boundaries, your— your emotional unavailability, ’cause I understood not wanting to share, not wanting to let me in, and now you’re just— fuck, Derek, you’re going too far, I tried and now you’re throwing it all back in my face.”

“Well,” Derek said, looking away again, “sorry for wasting your time.”

Stiles laughed shakily and passed a hand across his forehead. “Jesus Christ, you need therapy. You’ve got some serious fucking issues. You can’t even look me in the eye! At least look me in the eye while you’re…” While you’re breaking up with me, he almost said.

Derek half turned toward the door. “I’ve said everything I needed to say.”

“Jesus Christ, Derek, you sound like you’re reading off a fucking script! Did you prepare this whole speech beforehand, or what? Did you decide I got too close last time and typed all this up to, what? To protect yourself? Is that it?”

He watched Derek’s shoulders sag, curl in on themselves; then, a full-body flinch. Stiles’ stomach sank. He felt hot all over, and he felt like his knees might crumble any second, or his chest cave in from how fast his heart was pounding. But he needed to say this; if this was the last time he was going to see Derek he needed to know—

“Or was I wrong about all of this?”

Derek froze.

“Wow,” Stiles said. He leaned back against the desk, his entire body trembling. “Wow, okay. Yeah. Maybe everyone was right. Maybe I am the idiot in this situation.” Isaac’s words flashed through his mind— you do, like, know about him, right? “Maybe this really didn’t mean anything to you,” Stiles said, at a normal volume this time. “Just another pretty face, huh?”

Derek twisted around. “Stiles,” he said, voice strangled.

Stiles waited a beat, but nothing else came out and he was so done with this, so tired of this. He needed to get out of here. “Just fucking tell me, all right?”

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Derek said, eyes soft, and it was the first thing he’d said since entering the room that sounded sincere.

“Oh my God,” Stiles said, hiding his face in his hands. “Derek, I’m in fucking love with you, okay? I’m in love with you, and I thought that— I thought maybe— but fuck, I’m such a fucking idiot.” He patted around for his keys, wildly, couldn’t find them through the cling film of tears stretched across his eyeballs. When he finally found them, he pushed them into his pocket. “I’m out of here. Have fun fucking Jennifer fucking Blake.”

“Stiles!” Derek said, hand closing around Stiles’ wrist. “Don’t—”

Stiles jerked his arm away. “Don’t what?” he hissed. “Don’t worry, Derek, I’m not going to spill the beans. You won’t need to burn the fucking place down to get your revenge.”

Derek reeled back like Stiles had punched him in the face, and Stiles made his escape.

He’d just reached the bottom of the stairs, chest heaving, when the hallway door opened behind him and Derek appeared, disheveled-looking, saying the one thing unexpected enough to stop Stiles dead in his tracks despite his current state of mind.

“Kate Argent killed my parents.”



“And this is my little sister,” Derek said, pulling another picture from the shoebox and sliding it across the table, to Stiles.

Stiles touched the photo. A cute little girl, with dark hair and a bright smile. His chest ached. He wanted to ask for her name, but when he looked up Derek, eyes averted, looked lost in thought.

“Who know about this?” Stiles asked instead.

Derek blinked at him. “My sister, Laura. Erica knows most of it. And Jennifer.” The corner of his mouth twitched. “I know I haven’t exactly given you much reason to believe me about any of this, but we’re just friends. Met in therapy, actually.”

“I believe you,” Stiles said absently. He thumbed at a faded newspaper article. He felt dazed, like none of this was real. He’d been feeling like that since the scene at his room, the moment of anagnorisis in the staircase, their wordless drive to Derek’s apartment where Derek, as promised, had explained everything, stiltedly. It was only now, touching the pictures of the dead – murdered – Hales and the newspaper clippings about their ‘accident’, that the truth was starting to sink in. Stiles had never actually thought…

Derek’s exact words registered in his brain, and Stiles looked up. “Oh God, I’m sorry about what I said before. I was angry, I lashed out, I shouldn’t—”

“It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine, Derek. I was an asshole to you. You didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”

Derek snorted joylessly. “Guess we’re even, then.” He shoved his chair back and walked toward the bookshelves against the wall, touching the backs of the books with his fingertips.

Stiles leaned back in his chair and watched Derek pace, the tight line of his back, the breadth of his shoulders. “So,” he said, picking up the photograph and carefully placing it back inside the box, “you met—” He was reluctant to say her name. “You met her the summer before you went to college. And then your first semester started…”

“And she waltzed into my Introduction to Chemistry course and introduced herself as the instructor,” Derek said brusquely. “I had no idea. She’d never told me. The same way she’d conveniently failed to inform me of her personality disorder.” He swallowed hard. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter now.”

“It does matter,” Stiles said, louder than he meant to. “How did she ever even get away with this? Derek, this isn’t nothing, this is first-degree murder we’re talking about!”

“Like I said, there was never any conclusive evidence. Not even when the case was reopened. And you know the Argents, their influence over this town. Chris Argent is in the Board of Studies. Laura— it just wasn’t worth it.” Derek turned back to the bookcase he was standing in front of. “It wouldn’t have brought them back.”

Jesus Christ, Stiles thought. His eyes felt hot. “But everyone thinks…”

“I never cared what everyone thought, Stiles.”

A pinprick of hope bloomed in Stiles’ chest at Derek’s use of past tense. He didn’t push it, though. He couldn’t stop thinking about an eighteen- or nineteen-year-old version of Derek – lankier, not as bulky, a great deal more self-conscious, maybe even loud and outgoing – head over heels in love with a beautiful woman miles out of his league, who’d somehow, magically, taken an interest in him; the nauseating shock upon realizing the truth; the ensuing months of exhausting emotional tug-of-war, months of Kate yanking his chain, persuading him, manipulating him (months about which Derek hadn’t given much away but that could be distilled from the way he’d kept averting his eyes, the strained composure of his voice); and then, after Derek tried to end it again, for real this time…

“Jesus,” Stiles said quietly. No wonder Derek had been so hell-bent on keeping him at a distance all this time. Not only was his ex-girlfriend the reason his family was dead, Derek seemed convinced he was the reason his family was dead, too. “And here I was thinking it was me, not you.”

Derek must have paced his way back to Stiles at some point, because he was closer now, close enough to touch his fingers to Stiles’ shoulder. He said, “Stiles.”

“No, don’t apologize, this is so much better. I mean—” Stiles winced. “I don’t mean—”

The sound of Derek’s chuckle distracted him, and he leaned back in his chair to drink it in. Derek’s hand slid from his shoulder to the side of his neck, fingers curling around his chin, tilting it higher. Stiles could smell him, his deodorant, hear the soft rustle of clothing. His stomach dipped. He let Derek guide his head back and kiss him. Derek’s heat was enveloping him from behind; his own movements were forcibly restricted by the angle. His dick twitched in his jeans.

Stiles hooked his arm around Derek’s neck and twisted away, out of his chair, meeting Derek head-on. Derek made a rumbling noise and pushed back, teasingly, crowded Stiles back against the table. A warm hand slid underneath his shirt and curled around his hip.

Derek’s stubble rasped across Stiles’ skin when Stiles tilted his head back. “So,” he said, rubbing the back of his hand across his tingling mouth, “you’re not sleeping with Jennifer Blake.”

Derek pulled a face. “God, no.”

“And all the— everything about, about Kate Argent, most of that is true but not at all in the way people think it is.”


Stiles touched Derek’s other hand, which had curled into a fist, and loosened it. “So. New York?”

“Needed to clear my head. I stayed with family friends. None of those wild orgies you’ve heard all about,” Derek said, touching the back of Stiles’ hand. He showed his teeth in a wide smile. “Guess I’m just naturally great at sex.”

“Oh, shut up,” Stiles said. “How about Jackson Whittemore?”

“Asshole deserved it. Though it was not my intention to actually scar him.”

“Of course. Dobby didn’t mean to kill, only to maim or seriously injure.”


“Never mind,” Stiles said. And then, more quietly, “The attempted arson.”

Derek’s hand flexed under his, but he didn’t look away. “I’ve done things I’m not proud of.”

“Haven’t we all,” Stiles said. “Hell, I do dumb shit every day.”

Derek smiled softly. His eyes flickered to Stiles’ mouth, but just before their lips touched again Derek ducked his head, kissed the hollow at the base of Stiles’ throat instead.

“Oh,” Stiles whispered. Derek’s hands tickled down his sides; he closed his eyes at the corresponding sparks of pleasure that made his body arch forward. “I hope we’re clear about one thing, though,” he said roughly, clinging to the tabletop as Derek went for his belt. “Your tragic backstory doesn’t, like, magically make everything right.”

Derek hummed and reached into Stiles’ pants, cupping the bulge of his dick in his underwear.

“I mean it,” Stiles gasped into Derek’s ear. “You’ve got about two and a half months of making me pretend not to be madly in love with you to make up for.”

“Believe me,” Derek said in a low voice, his beard scraping against the side of Stiles’ neck, “I’ll make it up to you.” He frowned. “Months?”

Stiles groaned. “Give or take a few weeks, maybe.” He thrust his hips up shallowly. “C’mon, man, don’t leave me hanging.”

“You’re the one who keeps talking.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I forget words aren’t your thing.”

Derek glanced up at Stiles through his eyelashes. “I thought you said you were going to treat me nicely from now on,” he murmured. “I did just bare my soul to you.”

“Nnghh,” Stiles said as Derek’s thumb rubbed around the head of his dick.

Derek smirked. “Who’s the one lost for words now?”

Shut up, Stiles went to say, but then Derek pulled his hand from Stiles’ boxers and, deliberately holding Stiles’ gaze, lifted it to his mouth and licked his palm. He took hold of Stiles’ dick again, more firmly.

“You are unreal,” Stiles managed.

Derek smiled at him, open-mouthed and cocky.

Stiles turned his head away and rested his forehead on Derek’s shoulder. “I take it back,” he said in a breathy voice, watching the muscle cords in Derek’s wrist move. “I take it all back, I hate you.” His body shuddered of its own accord; he hooked his arms around Derek’s neck and held on, fingernails digging into skin.

“Sure you do,” Derek said, nudging his nose against Stiles’. “God, you feel good.”

Stiles allowed himself to shift most of his body weight onto Derek so he could rock his lower body upward to meet the tight, calculated strokes of Derek’s fist. A noise escaped his throat.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Derek whispered into his ear. “Moan for me.”

Stiles could feel his heart thudding in his chest, tiny drops of sweat itching just below his hairline. His face was hot, burning, and he could hear the sound of his own heavy breathing but he couldn’t stop it, he had to inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, deeply and loudly. Every intake of air didn’t feel like enough.

A hand threaded into his hair, gently pulled his head back. Stiles closed his eyes and leaned back into the touch. The edge of the table dug into his lower back.

“Come for me,” Derek murmured.

“Jesus Christ, Derek,” Stiles gasped. He wildly grasped onto the table behind him again. “Are you trying to—”

Derek flashed him another smile and sank to his knees, mouth closing around the tip of Stiles’ dick. It was hot and wet and sudden, and the sight of Derek on his knees with his eyes half-closed, his cheeks hollowing— Stiles didn’t even have time to reach for Derek’s face before his orgasm exploded out of him.

Derek sucked him through the aftershocks, kept sucking until Stiles keened and said, “Stop, stop,” and then surged back to his feet, connecting their lips in a wet, messy kiss. The taste of him made a low residual spasm of want draw through Stiles’ body.

“Fuck me,” he mumbled against Derek’s cheek, stroking his fingers through the short hair at the back of Derek’s neck. “Give me like five minutes to recover before I return the favor, yeah? Or maybe ten. Possibly twenty. Yeah, probably twenty. Jesus Christ.”

“Or a few weeks,” Derek added gravely, cocking an eyebrow. “Two and a half months. Maybe even longer.”

Stiles gaped at him. “What?”

“Never mind.” Derek kissed the corner of his mouth and smoothed Stiles’ dick back into his underwear, zipping his jeans up. He reached into his own pants for a second, then straightened up. “Want a drink?”

“No no no. Hold on. You don’t get to never-mind-want-a-drink me on this. Did you just…” Stiles watched Derek saunter across the room.

“Coffee?” Derek looked into the fridge. “Water? Whiskey?”

“Water’s fine.”

Derek flipped a bottle of water Stiles’ way. “How would you feel about driving up to see Laura with me this weekend?” he asked conversationally, slamming the fridge door shut.

Stiles dropped his bottle.



The Hale Wolf Sanctuary was just outside Beacon Hills, its territory stretching miles beyond the basecamp. Stiles had been there before, once, on a primary school trip; as they pulled up in front of the mansion, he vaguely remembered a woman towering over him, beautiful and majestic yet a comforting presence at the same time. He glanced at Derek, who switched off the ignition and reached into the backseat to grab his bag, his shirt riding up as he did so.

“You okay?” Derek asked when he’d twisted back into his seat and opened his door, hand still on the handle.

Stiles cleared his throat. “Yeah, sure.”

The corner of Derek’s mouth twitched up, and he got out of the car, slamming the door shut behind him.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Stiles muttered under his breath. “I mean, it’s not like you’re about to introduce me to your only remaining family here, thereby pretty much confirming in your own special little emotionally constipated way that I’m somehow officially for real dating this scorching hot amazing guy. Of course I’m okay. Peachy. I’m just peachy. Absolutely peachy.”

He took a deep breath, ran his hands through his hair and followed Derek’s lead.

Laura, it turned out, looked like her mother. She had Derek’s eyes, and a tired severity to her face that Stiles couldn’t help but momentarily attribute to years of grief but, as she explained over tea, was only the result of a few sleepless nights. “Cora got herself injured,” she told Derek. “Stuck in a fence all the way on the other end of the habitat, it took us a couple of days to find her. Deaton says she’s fine, but we’ve got her in one of the indoor enclosures for the time being.”

Derek’s face had gone tight. “Can I see her?”

“Of course. Actually,” Laura said, her gaze cutting from Derek to Stiles with a squinty-eyed calculation that reminded him of Lydia, “you might as well go now, while she’s still sedated. Might even let you pet her.”

Derek glanced in Stiles’ direction as well.

“Oh, go ahead,” Stiles said. He leaned back against the couch cushions. “I’ll survive. I mean, Erica already took me through the whole ‘if you hurt him I’ll kill you’ speech ages ago, so.”

Laura burst into laughter; Derek’s face twitched, but he got to his feet. When he passed the couch, he let his fingers trail lightly along the entire length of Stiles’ forearm.

“So,” Stiles said when Derek had left the room. His ears felt hot; he reached for his mug again. He cleared his throat. “Cora?”

“One of the wolves.” Laura uncurled her long legs from under her and crossed them at the ankles instead. “A pup. Well, she’s one and a half now. Almost two. Always getting into trouble.” She smiled. “She’s Derek’s favorite. He requires weekly updates on her or he’ll be all grumpy and passive-aggressive to me on the phone.”

“I had no idea Derek was a dog person,” Stiles said.

Laura let out another bright peal of laughter, head thrown back. Stiles’ chest ached when it hit him that he couldn’t recall ever hearing Derek laugh like that. “Derek’s not really an anything person. Except, apparently, that’s all changed now.” She sent Stiles a meaningful look. “He hasn’t let anyone new close to him in a very long time, you know. You must have been something special.”

Stiles snorted. “It really wasn’t all that serious at first. It kind of just happened.”

“Whatever you say,” Laura said, smiling softly. “In any case, I’m glad he’s got you now. I know he’s not exactly the easiest person to be with.”

“Wait ‘till you see me on three double espressos,” Stiles told her.

Laura laughed again. “Hey, do you feel like going outside for a bit?”


They walked around the house and stopped at the pasture behind it, where three horses were grazing. Laura leaned her elbows on the fence; Stiles mirrored her movements. “I know he blames himself for their death,” Laura said suddenly, her eyes on the horse farthest away from them. “Even though the woman was full-on batshit crazy, he still blames himself.”

Stiles swallowed. “Do you have any idea why…”

“Why she went for him? For us?”

He nodded.

“She was a sociopath, of course. Is a sociopath. Wherever Chris Argent has managed to ship her off to. Somewhere she can’t harm anybody else while upholding the family name and safeguarding her reputation in the field. Her scientific legacy.” Laura’s tone had grown bitter. “Look, Stiles, not everything in life makes sense. Gerard Argent’s brother gets killed by a loose wolf from our Sanctuary, Gerard holds a lifelong grudge, brainwashes his mentally unstable daughter with his hatred. She decides murdering an entire family decades after the fact is the way to deal with it. There are things in life you shouldn’t even want to try to apply logic to. It’ll just drive you mad.”

She took a deep breath and straightened up. When she spoke again, her voice sounded almost businesslike. “I don’t suppose Derek has told you about our uncle Peter?” she asked, tying her hair back into a loose bun.

Stiles winced involuntarily. “He mentioned him. Once.”

Laura grabbed onto the fence. “Derek obviously isn’t ready to tell you the whole story himself, and I don’t know when he will be, but I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and the way you look at him. The Argent family paid us to keep silent after the investigation was closed. We accepted the money to keep this place running and to cover Peter’s hospital bills. And Derek’s tuition.” She steeled her jaw. “I accepted the money, that is. And I’m still waiting for Derek to forgive himself for that. For all of it.” She grimaced at Stiles, and said, “He’s not actually a bad guy, you know.”

“I never thought he was,” Stiles said quietly.

There was the sound of a heavy steel door clacking shut somewhere behind them. Stiles looked over his shoulder. Derek was walking toward them. Laura caught Stiles’ gaze and gave him a sad, lopsided smile.

“Hey.” Derek’s fingers pressed against the small of Stiles’ back, briefly. Stiles smiled at him. “You all right?”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah,” he said, touching Derek’s hip. “Yeah, I am.”



That night, Derek was already halfway through pulling his shirt across his head when Stiles realized—

“Derek,” he said.

Derek paused and said, “What?”

“Are we—” Stiles motioned toward the bed. “This is a bed.”

“Astute observational powers you got there.” Derek slung his shirt across the back of a chair in the corner of the room.

One bed, Derek. In one room. A bedroom. In which we’ll be sleeping. Together.” Stiles waited, but Derek didn’t reply. He did kick off his shoes, undo his belt and shimmy out of his jeans. Stiles took a moment to appreciate the curve of Derek’s ass, the way the light accentuated the muscular lines of his back. Then he said, “Are you sure about this? Should we talk about this? Because I could totally go…”

“Stiles,” Derek said, turning around and striding naked across the room, oh Jesus. “Stop talking.” He shoved his hands into Stiles’ hair and kissed him, deeply. “I’m sure,” he said softly as he let go.

They’d been naked together many times before, had had sex many times before, but this, tonight, felt different for some reason. Derek was as intensely focused on Stiles as usual, absorbing his every shudder with warm teasing fingers and drinking in every moan he elicited from Stiles’ throat with dark, glittering eyes and a smug tilt of his head, but he was less vocal. No “Yeah, that’s it,” or “God, look at you,” or “Tell me, tell me how it feels”— none of those little murmurings of his that had driven Stiles to the edge of orgasm so many times before. Instead, Derek was quiet, reverent almost, silently running his hands down Stiles’ abdomen and following their path with his mouth as though he’d never been there before, had never done that before.

And in a way he hadn’t, Stiles realized hazily, tilting his head back and inhaling sharply as Derek nipped at the inside of his thigh, worked a third finger inside. In a way they hadn’t done this before— not like this, anyway, not as the people they now knew each other to be or within the relationship – relationship – they had now. This was new, this was different. His mind whirled with the realization. His breath hitched as Derek’s fingers, slick and cold with lube and latex, pressed deeper into him, and he reached for the headboard to pull himself up.

“I want,” he said, a little breathless, “want to ride you.”

Derek swallowed the ‘you’ right off his tongue, surging forward hard enough to make their teeth clack together.

He looked beautiful on his back, Derek, his abdomen muscles flexing visibly, eyes and teeth glistening in the dim light of the room. He was so deep inside Stiles that Stiles couldn’t help but gasp loudly every time he moved down, the fullness almost too much to take, the sparks reaching into his toes and his fingers and every single cell of his body, it seemed. Derek’s hands were anchored around his hips, keeping him in place during each restrained thrust; Stiles’ hands were circled around Derek’s wrists. Neither of them spoke. Stiles wasn’t even sure he would be able to form words at this point.

Derek moaned lowly as he thrust in deeper than before, and Stiles allowed himself to cry out. He could see the glint of Derek’s smile. Their pace was turning sloppy, erratic, and Stiles almost lost his balance, reaching for Derek’s chest, but then Derek pushed himself into an upright position and curved his other arm around Stiles’ back, hand between his shoulder blades. Derek was close now, so close, his breath cooling the sweat on Stiles’ collarbones and his heat everywhere and Stiles’ dick trapped between their bodies and their combined smell—

“Fuck,” Stiles gasped, pressing his cheek against Derek’s, the burn of stubble grounding him, “fuck, Derek.”

Their eyes locked. Derek’s hand moved higher, curved around the back of Stiles’ neck, squeezed. Derek smiled languidly and groaned, two more half-thrusts before he stilled. Stiles watched his mouth fall open, his eyes slide shut, felt the helpless twitch of Derek’s fingers. He shuddered and clung to Derek’s neck as he came.

They barely bothered with cleaning up; Stiles grunted and rolled off Derek’s chest just long enough for Derek to tie off the condom and drop it somewhere next to the bed. He felt too tired and spent to suggest a washcloth. Besides, Derek was warm, and solid, and his arms felt so good curved around Stiles…

“’Night,” Derek whispered, and Stiles could’ve sworn he felt the press of lips to the top of his head.

He jolted awake a few hours later, his heart beating fast. For a second he wasn’t sure what was had woken him, but then there was a noise from the other side of the bed. Stiles’ heart lurched into his throat— it was a sound like that of a wounded animal, low and quiet and fearful.

“Derek?” he whispered. He pushed himself up onto one elbow.

Derek was lying on his back, hands balled to fists by his sides. He was sweating; drops glistened on his nose and cheeks. His face twitched. His chest was heaving.

“Hey,” Stiles said quietly, inching closer to Derek. Derek didn’t respond. Very carefully, Stiles reached out for him. Derek’s face felt hot; his hair was wet to the touch. His heart was racing. “Derek?”

Derek made a soft whimpering sound. Stiles wasn’t sure what to do, didn’t know whether to try and wake Derek or not, doubted that Derek could even hear him, but— “It’s all right,” he whispered, shifting closer and stroking Derek’s hair. “It’s okay, you’re all right, it’s just a dream. It’s just a dream, okay? Everything’s fine. You’re fine.” He reached for one of Derek’s fists and massaged it until it was uncurled. “You’re gonna be fine,” Stiles whispered, kissing the curve of Derek’s shoulder. “I’m going to make sure of it.”


The next morning, over breakfast, Laura asked, “Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, trying but failing not to glance at Derek. “I did, yeah.”

“Me too, actually,” Derek said as he reached for the butter.

“Really?” Laura sounded skeptical.

“Yeah.” Derek shrugged. “Better than usual, anyway.”

When he was done buttering his toast Derek slung his arm across the back of Stiles’ chair, and from that point onward Laura wouldn’t stop smirking at them both.




Derek was abnormally quiet on their way to dinner, and that was saying something.

“It’ll be fine,” Stiles told him. “Seriously.”

“I’m sure it will be,” Derek said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Stiles rolled his eyes and pushed through the doors. He didn’t look up as he led Derek to his group of friends, didn’t look for people’s reactions to seeing Derek Hale – the infamous Derek Hale – in the dining hall. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t have cared less.

“Hey, guys,” Stiles said when they arrived at the table, pulling up two chairs. He motioned for Derek to take one of them and flopped down on the other. “So. This is Derek.”

Derek hovered near the chair. Scott smiled up at him. “Hey, man. It’s great to finally meet you.”

“You too,” Derek said a little tersely. He moved to sit down next to Stiles.

Everyone was silent for a second. Then,

“I’m Allison,” Allison said with a dimpled smile as she reached out across the table. Stiles bumped his knee against Derek’s.

“Derek,” Derek said, shaking Allison’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Allison smiled. “Have you met Isaac?”

“We’ve heard a lot about you, dude,” Isaac said, waggling his eyebrows and leaning over to slap Derek’s back amicably. And Derek— Derek smiled, actually fucking smiled, and squeezed Stiles’ knee under the table.