"Hey, uh," Stiles said, pulling back a few inches from the frantic kissing. "This is--this is just, like, for a while, right?"
Derek gave him a glare every bit as dubious as Stiles deserved for stopping the really pretty great kissing for this conversation, but Stiles didn't want to start this off by being a jerk or lying about what he wanted. Derek had been through enough of that.
"I mean, we're not committing to anything," Stiles persisted, leaning back against Derek's grip. "We can just--I like you, this is awesome, but I'm not, you know. Committing to anything long-term. Not now, with the Nemeton and all the--everything. Okay?"
"Are you committing to the next hour?" Derek asked, and rolled his hips pointedly against Stiles's.
"Oh, man, I don't know how you think I'm gonna last an hour, but sure," Stiles agreed, and Derek's smile was sharp and knowing before he pushed back into the kiss.
It turned out Derek could keep things going for more than an hour, and Stiles was definitely willing to commit to the entire afternoon.
A few days, and countless text messages--at least a third of them not even about sex they could or soon would be having--later, Stiles realized he should probably try having that talk again when nobody's dick was doing all the thinking.
Stiles considered trying to talk about it in person, but pretty much any time he and Derek were alone they weren't stopping to talk. All of the actual conversing they did now was by text message, so text message seemed like the best way to do it.
So just to be clear I like you and the sex is great but I'm not ready to get werewolf married.
He stared at it for a minute before he sent it; it was kind of presumptuous, but Derek needed to understand. Stiles could feel the inevitability of him and Lydia coming from a long way off. He didn't think Lydia had figured it out yet, so he had about ten years to kill and seriously the sex with Derek was amazing, but he didn't want Derek to misunderstand.
He hit send, and after a solid minute of staring at his phone, he set it down and turned back to his laptop. Of course as soon as he got half a sentence into explaining to the idiot on the Talk:Lycanthropy page why his edits were being reverted his phone buzzed, and Stiles grabbed it.
Did I werewolf ask you?
Stiles smiled a little at that, and then the next text came in.
You're seventeen. I get it.
Stiles scowled at his phone, his thumbs curling up, ready to argue. He'd decided on Lydia when he was eight years old, thanks, and he'd never wavered. Sure, he'd have been happy to lose his virginity to Heather, and he actually had finally succeeded in losing it to Derek. The making out and sex and arguing about movies by text message was great, but that didn't really change anything. Stiles was way past old enough to pick someone and commit. He just wasn't committing to Derek.
On the other hand, it was probably simpler to let Derek think it was that. That wouldn't require him to explain to Derek exactly why he was so sure about Lydia, which would be sort of hard to do persuasively over text message. Even in person he'd never succeeded in making Scott--or his dad, who definitely should have known better!--really understand it.
Stiles shook out his fingers, sighed, and then grinned and texted back, Speaking of getting it, you want to tonight?
There was exactly enough of a pause before Derek replied for Stiles to picture him rolling his eyes and shaking his head, but then the text message came in. Sure. I'll order pizza.
Stiles grinned and shoved his phone into his pocket, feeling completely virtuous. He could keep fucking Derek with a clear conscience now; his cards were on the table.
The whole Nemeton thing worked out eventually, after a lot of blood and an unreasonable number of nightmares, and one of the many results was that Stiles had a lot more free time to hook up with Derek.
Another one of the results was that Stiles had stepped up his getting-Lydia-to-kiss-him-outside-of-trauma-situations forecast from ten years to maybe six; five if he managed to go to the same college with her. For now, though, there was Derek: Derek's dick, and Derek's mouth, and Derek's ass and his abs and his hands and his stubble scraping over all kinds of places Stiles hadn't realized needed stubble scraped over them.
Stiles didn't tell anyone about him and Derek, mostly because there was no point. Between half his friends being werewolves and his dad being the sheriff, Stiles had exactly no hope of getting away with anything unnoticed. He had two awkward conversations with Scott about it, got a single slightly impressed, thoughtful look from Lydia, and had a weird, circular talk with Deaton. He wasn't sure Deaton had actually been talking about him having sex with Derek at all, but if that wasn't it then Stiles had no idea what it was about.
His dad didn't say anything, and didn't say anything, even after Stiles made obvious, marked changes in his sheet-washing frequency and use of Kleenex. He didn't say anything after Stiles bought condoms at the Walgreens on Main Street, or after Stiles went to the door to get the pizza at Derek's while definitely not wearing enough clothes and the person delivering it was Deputy Ruiz's daughter Amy.
Stiles coped with the silent treatment for about a week after he became sure that his dad had to know and then he said over dinner, "You know, right? You have to know."
His dad smiled slowly, sat back from his bean stew, and said easily, "I know many things, Stiles. Was there something in particular you wanted me to know?"
"No," Stiles said firmly, and then he lasted another thirty seconds before he said, "Me and Derek, we're. You're not going to arrest him or anything, are you?"
"Sorry, you didn't finish that sentence there," his dad said, raising his eyebrows. "You and Derek Hale are...."
Stiles groped desperately for a word that didn't misrepresent things and didn't make it sound like something his dad should arrest Derek for and wasn't a word he didn't ever, ever want to say to his dad. "We're sort of. Hooking up. Casually. Mutually casually, he's not breaking my heart or anything!"
His dad's eyebrows did not come down. "Son, I can't remember the last time you were casual about anything or anyone."
"I, you know," Stiles said, because he didn't have a counterargument for that that wasn't I know you don't believe me about how the love of my life is going to be a literal magical big fucking deal but it is going to be a literal magical big fucking deal and it's going to be Lydia. "I mean, casual can mean a lot of things, in World War One there were these casual companies that were just all these guys who were left over from other regiments for some reason, that's what they called them. Casual, even when they were storming hills and stuff, it doesn't have to mean you don't care about it at all. It's just temporary, I'm just--Derek's just temporary. That's all I'm saying. We agreed on that."
"You feel like you're left over from Scott's pack?" his dad asked, gaze turning sharp and thoughtful.
"No, I," Stiles waved his hands, like he could bat away the whole question of his place in, or not in, Scott's pack, because that was more than he wanted to deal with right now. "It's not about that. I'm just saying, you don't need to ask Derek about his intentions or anything, please don't arrest him. It's fine."
"I won't arrest him without due cause," his dad said in a firm end-of-the-subject voice, and Stiles knew it was no good arguing with him about how he carried out his sheriffly duties.
Derek got pulled over for phantom traffic violations six times in the next week and a half--never by the sheriff, but pretty much every deputy who saw him took a run at him. They all let him off with warnings, at least.
Derek griped at Stiles about it but insisted it wasn't actually Stiles's fault whenever he tried to apologize, and insisted on going down on Stiles right back every time Stiles tried to make it up to him with blowjobs. Stiles took cookies to the station and talked to Marta for half an hour about how happy he was about everything in his life including his boyfriend who he coyly declined to name. After that they let up on Derek, so Stiles figured that was a win.
At some point Stiles realized that he was spending three nights a week with Derek. Derek cooked sometimes, and sometimes Stiles helped. They did the dishes together after--Derek wouldn't let Stiles just do them himself--and then they would sit on the couch and watch TV or work on whatever required their attention until one of them succeeded in distracting the other into sex. Stiles slept over pretty regularly; Derek was good at reducing him to a puddle that didn't reconstitute enough to drive until the next morning, and cuddling was pretty great. Stiles still had nightmares sometimes, too, and it was good to give his dad a break from getting woken up by them. Waking up thrashing around in Derek's grip wasn't really better, exactly, but calming down enough to get back to sleep could be a hell of a lot more fun.
In January, when the days were starting to get long and the afternoons were occasionally sunny, Stiles went over to Derek's after school on a Wednesday. They had pasta for dinner--meat sauce Derek had cooked down until it was almost chili, and tricolor twirly noodles because Stiles liked them--and they had the same argument they had had at least three times before about whether the meal could be called spaghetti when they weren't eating spaghetti noodles. By the time they were cleaning up, Stiles was outlining his plans for his next research paper, and Derek was arguing passionately about why Strunk & White's was a terrible style guide and offer-threatening to buy Stiles half a dozen others that he said were better.
They took the argument to the couch afterward, and it fizzled out in favor of watching DVRed episodes of Criminal Minds, which they both found equally weirdly soothing. After the third or fourth time they forgot to fast-forward the commercials because they were busy making out, Stiles mumbled, "Bed, maybe?"
"Mm-hm," Derek agreed, and stood up immediately, tugging Stiles after him by the hand like Stiles might get lost or distracted on the way there. That had only happened once, and there had been some legitimately distracting weather visible out the bathroom window.
They made it safely into Derek's bed this time, and Stiles climbed on top of him and got on with the kissing without any distractions.
Of course, the quiet outside--just the sound of their mouths on each other and that little extra hitching breath Derek took between kisses, even though they were nowhere near straining werewolf lung capacity--meant that Stiles's brain whirred on frantically. After a few minutes of kissing he mumbled into Derek's mouth, "I'm just saying, they assigned Elements of Style, if I don't do it that way my teacher's going to take points off."
Derek huffed against his mouth, whether at his argument or the fact that Stiles was picking up that thread again now that they were in bed.
"Your English teacher," Derek said darkly, and then stopped. He stopped talking, and he stopped everything else, too, freezing in place with his hands spanning Stiles's ribs.
It took Stiles a second to realize why--Ms. Blake seemed so long ago now--but when he got it he eased his weight down onto Derek, kissing along his jaw and nuzzling at his throat. Derek definitely would not want to talk about it, but he would have to let Derek indicate how much of a mood killer whatever thought process he'd just had was. Despite all the reasons he might have had for feeling otherwise, Derek still found touch comforting when he was in a bad place, and Stiles knew how to give it to him without setting off any land mines by now.
Derek sighed around the time Stiles was rubbing his face into the base of his throat. His arms tightened around Stiles, and he hauled Stiles down so they were lying on their sides. When he kissed Stiles again he punctuated it with a mutter of, "Don't let anyone tell you where to put prepositions as long as you're completing your thought."
Stiles figured that meant it wasn't too bad, but the kissing went on for a long time without advancing into anything except the two of them falling asleep like that.
Stiles woke up to the incredibly weird sight of Derek still asleep, sprawled out on his back and taking up two thirds of the bed. He had one arm across Stiles, his hand curving around Stiles's hip. If Stiles shifted just a little he could rub his half-hard dick against Derek's forearm--except when he tried it, he realized that Derek's forearm was directly on top of his bladder, and the squirming involved tipped the morning balance toward definitely have to pee first.
Derek still didn't move, though. Stiles looked over at his face again and realized that Derek was sincerely asleep, undisturbed by Stiles waking up. Stiles raised one hand to poke at Derek's defenseless face, but his heart gave a weird little twist before he connected, and he brushed the back of his hand against Derek's cheek instead, the stubble prickling at his knuckles. Derek's face went through a couple of weird contortions, trying to frown and smile at the same time, and he tilted his head toward Stiles's touch.
Stiles just knew, suddenly. He didn't even question it, and there was no chance that this was anything else.
"Oh, fuck," he said out loud, and Derek's eyes opened, his face definitely deciding on a frown, although he rubbed his cheek against Stiles's hand as he did it. He only looked concerned, not angry.
"Fuck," Stiles repeated, and he should probably be bolting from Derek's bed, but it was too late, way too late. It was days or weeks or months too late and he'd never noticed until right now. "Fuck, I'm sorry, shit."
"Stiles?" Derek said slowly. "Too early. Try that again with words."
"I'm sorry," Stiles repeated, and his heart was pounding pretty much exactly like it did when he was trapped in a confined space with Derek, in or out of a nightmare, "but we're mated for life."
Derek rolled his eyes and turned on his side--though facing toward Stiles, not away--before snuggling into his pillow with the obvious intention of going back to sleep. "Werewolves don't actually mate for life, Stiles. That's not a thing."
"Oh my God, it is not about you," Stiles insisted, sitting up and flinging his arms out. "Not everything is about you! I mean, this concerns you, because you're stuck with me for the rest of your life, but--"
Derek opened his eyes again with a weird look on his face. Possibly he could hear how much Stiles wasn't joking right now.
"It's me," Stiles said, his voice dropping down under Derek's gaze. "It's--it's a spark thing. A belief thing, I guess, we--when we--my mom told me, before she died. Not the spark part of it, but she told me to be careful about giving my heart away, because whoever I gave my heart to would give theirs to me, and I would have to take really good care of it, because they wouldn't ever get it back."
Derek's eyes narrowed a little, and Stiles looked down at his own hands. "My dad--he still wears his wedding ring. Some guys do that, but I talked to Deaton about it, and--we're different, my family, me and my mom, we do this to the people we love. I didn't mean to do this to you, I swear I didn't."
"You meant to do it to Lydia," Derek said, and Stiles couldn't read anything in his voice.
Stiles shrugged, his shoulders feeling like they were jerked up and down on puppet strings. "I--honestly, I always thought she could take it. And I figured I was probably getting back a lump of coal back, but--yeah."
"You think I can't take it?" Derek said, and now he sounded a little amused. Stiles looked up as Derek raised his eyebrows. "You think you're the worst thing I've fallen in love with?"
Derek still didn't look mad, and he didn't look appalled at all, and he didn't hesitate to say I've fallen in love.
Stiles hesitated, and Derek lunged, hauling him down to the bed and rolling half on top of him.
"This is the terrible thing that happens," Derek said, and there was an honest note of relief in his voice, almost giddy. "The other shoe drops and this is it. I can never fall in love with anyone else. That's what you're telling me?"
Derek, Stiles realized, probably had been looking forward with terror to the possibility that he might fall in love with someone else at some future point in his life.
"Never," Stiles said, starting to smile, letting the guilty-fearful racing of his heart settle down into this: Derek grinding him down into the bed where they'd slept together last night without even fucking first, where they argued and cuddled and kissed. Holy shit, he'd fallen in love with Derek, and now Derek was his for good. "You're stuck with me for the rest of your life."
"To be fair," Derek muttered, lowering his head for a kiss, "The way things go around here, I may not have to put up with you for long."
"Okay, no, are you kidding," Stiles said, "I'm not letting go of you for--"
Derek shifted his weight, and Stiles winced.
"For anything longer than a pee break," Stiles decided. "Just, like, hold that thought."
"Apparently I'll wait for you forever," Derek said solemnly, and let him up.