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The smoke was thick and it was hard to see through his breathing apparatus but Stiles had been trained for this. He shouldered a piece of burning door out of the way, trusting in the heavy, treated cloth of his coat to protect him as he battered into the bedroom of the burning apartment. There was a lump under the covers on the bed and Stiles hauled the sheets back.

The missing child was curled up, coughing, eyes streaming, unaware Stiles was there.

Through the harsh rasp of his respirator, Stiles heard an ominous creaking. Chances were that the ceiling was about to go. They needed to make it to the fire escape. He bundled the child up in her blankets and kicked at the blistered window frame, shattering the glass. The roar of the fire behind him, the heat, pushed him out of the window and onto the metal of the escape. The child stirred in his arms as he slung her over his shoulder and made his way down, carefully and quickly. The spray from the hoses meant he had to watch his footing on the slippery metal.

He’d practiced for this – they all had – and it wasn’t exactly his first go-around on the whole rescuing someone from a burning building, but Stiles still had to tell himself to go slow, to slow his breathing and attempt to keep his heart rate under control. He had plenty of practice in not panicking and, what was even better, there was nothing here that was faster or stronger or supernatural to throw a spanner in the works. Just a fire, for all that it was a nasty one. Stiles stepped onto the ladder when it got close enough and was slowly winched to the ground with his precious burden.

The kid was coughing now – a good sign – and Stiles knelt to bring her to her feet, peeling back the blankets to help her breathe more easily. He could see the open ambulance, ready to whisk her off for treatment.

“Hey there. You just focus on breathing, right?” Stiles brushed a straggly lock of hair off her face. The girl couldn’t be more than six or seven, and took an exaggerated breath in and, seemingly not knowing what to do, held it for a moment before breathing out. “Like me?”

The kid matched her breathing to Stiles’ and it was enough to distract her from the fact they were slowly being lowered to the ground. The red and blue whirl of the lights from all the emergency vehicles cast everything in a strange light that was weirdly soothing to Stiles. He’d grown up around it, after all.

They hit the ground and Stiles let himself be helped down the final steps. He picked up the girl again, across his chest again, and made his way across the wet tarmac to the ambulance. A silently sobbing woman was being held there, struggling to get back to the building. She fixed on the bundle in Stiles’ arms and froze until the girl waved at her.

Stiles leaned close to let mother and daughter reunite and was surprised by a camera flash. Then he put it to the back of his mind and got the girl settled on the gurney in the back of the bus. Then he waved a vague salute to the mother and the EMTs and went to find his Chief. There was still work to do.

 

Which was why, when he came into the stationhouse for his next shift, his locker was covered in “Heroic Firefighter” articles, cut from the pages of way too many newspapers. He accepted the teasing with good grace, made a constant stream of comments about how he was expecting everyone to bow and scrape and dismissing it as a consequence of a slow news week.

Stiles escaped to the empty kitchen, pulling out a chair and settling at the table, head in his hands, struggling to breathe more evenly than at any point during the rescue. He’d deliberately chosen a city far from home, an occupation a million miles away from anything anyone would predict from him and he’d cut off all ties with anything supernatural or werewolfy. It made sense after his dad died. He tried to concentrate on the fact that no one had contacted him, found him, in the five long years where he’d rebuilt his life a couple of thousand miles away from home. From Beacon Hills. Chicago was home now.

He tried to put the article out of his head. No one would see it back in Beacon Hills. It was far enough away. Stiles grabbed coffee and headed back to the muster room. He had a job to do.

 

Stiles was washing the Engine when his Chief yelled for his attention. His hair was plastered to his head with sweat and he was wearing ratty pants and a t-shirt he reckoned he’d brought from Beacon Hills. It was tight across his shoulders now but it was soft and comfortable and he hadn’t exactly been expecting company.

The only surprise was the actual identity of the visitor waiting for him. When Stiles had run all the possibilities through his head, he might have predicted Isaac or Lydia. After the last argument he and Scott had, he knew better than to expect Scott. It was only in the vaguest of his imaginings that he’d thought Derek would show up. Chris Argent would have been more likely. But here was Derek. Stiles’ immediate impression was that Derek was much more put together than the last time he’d seen him. That wouldn’t exactly be hard, since Derek had been holding his guts with both hands when Stiles had last seen him.

He was still gorgeous.

Derek’s sculpted stubble, his eyes, the eyebrows that should be too much but seemed to soften the perfection of his cheeks. His broad shoulders, narrow waist, amazing ass. The fact that, in addition to winning the genetic lottery, Derek was wearing the sort of business suit that screamed money and respectability and made him look like he’d either walked out of a high-powered business meeting or very, very expensive and quality porn. The sort of porn Stiles really appreciated.

Derek raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything to Stiles’ scowl.

“This guy says he knows you.” The Chief gestured Stiles further into his office. He sat for a moment before pushing himself up and sliding out, making a noise about grabbing coffee. His personal coffee maker looked like it was working fine, though.

“Hi.” Stiles turned in surprise to Derek, not expecting that. He always forgot that Derek’s voice was light and pleasant, not full of growls and terror. Derek always sounded perfectly normal. It wasn’t until he turned werewolf or, you know, smashed a sixteen-year-old boy’s head into his steering wheel that he became truly dangerous.

“What?” Stiles leaned against the desk. He wasn’t sitting down in front of Derek but equally he wasn’t going to get into a confrontation. He was going to be polite and pretend to be all calm and cool and he was going to get rid of Derek as quickly as he could.

Derek squared off against him for a moment, arms folded, biceps bulging against the soft wool of his suit. Then it was as if his strings had been cut. Derek settled into one of the chairs the Chief had in front of his desk, knees spread and hands dangling between them, looking up at Stiles. “Are you okay? After the rescue? It looked…bad.”

“No fatalities. Except for the Building inspector who had been bribed and got fired.” Stiles shrugged. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“Good.” Derek’s gaze wasn’t shifting from his face and Stiles couldn’t look away until Derek did. Uncomfortable silence sprung up between them. Stiles was astonished when Derek spoke first again. “And you like your work? Firefighting being close to my heart and all.” Derek's face lost its ease for a moment, a flicker of the lost, lonely kid he'd been apparent now to Stiles.

“Yeah.” Stiles bit at his bottom lip. He was still determined to get Derek out of here as quickly as he could, but it looked like that wasn’t going to happen if he just kept his answers monosyllabic. “The guys are great. It’s nice to be doing… helping people. Sort of.”

Derek nodded, serious, his eyebrows drawing together as if in thought. “And have you got…people. Out of work?”

“Friends? Yeah.” It took Stiles a long moment to realize what Derek was really asking. “No significant other. No boyfriend.”

“That’s… Okay.” Derek didn’t look surprised. In fact, he was carefully keeping his face blank and unreadable. Stiles had used to joke that he knew how to read Derek when everyone else was at a loss, that he’d spent a whole lot of time observing Derek in many situations and was fluent in eyebrow-ese. He knew better than that. He knew that Derek wasn’t actually that good at hiding his feelings. Or, at least, he hadn’t been back then.

And maybe the whole observing Derek constantly thing was accurate as well.

Derek shifted to his feet, a smooth, elegant transition, werewolf strength and the power of being dressed well combining to make Derek look even better. “Do you want to grab something to eat? A coffee?”

“Not really.” Stiles grimaced. He hadn’t meant to be quite so honest. “Also, I’ve got a long shift – won’t be done until morning and then all I’m going to want to do is sleep.”

“It’s okay.” Derek held out his hand and Stiles gawked at it before placing his hand in Derek’s and having the strange experience of having it shook. Of all the things Derek could have done (hugged him, cried on him, ripped his intestines out) this was the thing Stiles would have least expected. Derek was just full of conundrums nowadays.

 

Stiles ignored the jibes from the rest of his ladder about the suit guy and got back to work. It was a quiet night but the need to be aware, to be on edge, kept them all jittery through the shift. Stiles tried unpicking what had happened but after a few too many close calls with memories that threatened to overwhelm, he decided to lock Derek and any contemplation of him down until he had time, peace and quiet.

“So. Who wants to give me all your money?” Stiles shuffled the cards in his hands as the others groaned at him.

 

Routine soothed the edges off the meeting with Derek until Stiles was able to let it settle to the back of his mind and get back to his life. He met Eric and Adana for beer and burgers on his Thursday off, stayed in the bar to watch the end of the innings and drank more than he meant to. The weekend was spent in front of his TV, half-dozing before he headed out to another bar, another round of people, another morning waking up alone in his bed.

His apartment could do with a fresh coat of paint. His apartment could do with bookshelves. His apartment could do with him unpacking the last of the boxes he’d left in the corner of the living room and him hanging pictures. Or something. Stiles scrubbed his hands through his hair, grinding the heels into his temples. He hadn’t really looked around in a while, hadn’t seen where he was living. Not really.

Stiles had lived in his fair share of shitty college apartments. He’d let dishes pile in sinks until they threatened to create their own eco-system. He’d done the thing where every surface was covered in empty bottles and plastic cups. This place wasn’t like that. He kept it neat, did his chores. He folded his clothes away when they came out of the laundry and vacuumed every second Sunday. The place wasn’t immaculate but it wasn’t dirt that made it fairly unlivable. It was more that this place looked like he was ready to move out tomorrow.

He was back on shift before he’d been able to do more than pull a handful of books out of one of the boxes.

 

“That friend of yours is here again.” Callahan leaned against the doorframe as Stiles craned his head over the back of the old, beaten up sofa.

“Friend?” Stiles waited for clarification but Callahan, the dick, had wandered off. Stiles pushed himself up and followed him.

Derek was standing in the door of the Chief’s office. “Hey.” His face was a little guarded, like he was bearing bad news and didn’t really know how to tell Stiles. Whatever it was had nothing to do with the Chief, who was effusively thanking Derek. “Stiles will show you out.”

Stiles wanted to protest but there was nothing reasonably short of the alarm being raised that would get him out of the task. “It’s this way.”

In the past, he probably would have pestered Derek to tell him exactly what had been going on and why he was speaking to the Chief. He could remember, with a flush of embarrassment, the summer between his sophomore and junior year, where he’d basically annoyed Derek all summer long to find out about werewolves and supernatural creatures that went bump in the night. Derek had been a whole lot more closed off then, as well. Now he bit his tongue and led Derek to the closest exit.

“Stiles.” Derek paused just shy of where Stiles was holding the door open. “One of my clients gave me tickets for an ice hockey match.”

“Game. They’re games.” Stiles had been to one, with some of the guys, tickets donated through some charity. They’d had shitty seats and he hadn’t known what was going on, but the beer was good and so was the crowd.

“Game. Tomorrow night.” Derek stopped talking again, obviously waiting for Stiles to say something, to pick up on the clues he was leaving. Instead Stiles let the silence stretch. He might even have learned that from Derek. “We could go. Catch up. Grab some food first.”

“Sounds suspiciously like a date.” Stiles could feel the spot between his shoulder blades tighten with tension.

“Friends catching up. Or old acquaintances.” Derek’s smile twisted into something reminiscent of the days when he was so caught up in anger and worry that he found it difficult to let himself enjoy anything. “Or just someone that you used to know.”

That made Stiles feel guilty. “Yeah. Okay. Tomorrow. You can pick me up here? Around five?”

Derek’s expression flattened out and he smiled, although it didn’t quite meet his eyes. He pulled out their phones and swapped numbers, Stiles feeling another part of his new life slipping away. Derek was smiling more genuinely when he tucked his phone away.

“See you then.” And he slipped out of the door, past Stiles. They didn’t touch but Stiles could swear he felt the heat of Derek’s body as he went past. Stiles lingered at the door a moment, only going back into the station when he realized he was watching Derek’s ass in his suit pants, the way the material clung across his thighs, the breadth of his shoulders.

Old friends. He could do that.

 

Stiles pulled his toque lower over his ears and checked his phone again. Nothing from Derek. He checked the time. It was only quarter past. And if you calculated in Chicago traffic for someone who wasn’t familiar with it, there was every reason why Derek hadn’t shown up yet. Stiles shivered inside his heavy coat and clapped his hands under his armpits too keep them warm.

He was debating how much longer to leave it when a rental car pulled to the curb and Derek leaned over and started apologizing even before Stiles had a chance to properly close the cold air out again.

“I’m sorry but the traffic…” Stiles held up his hand to cut Derek off. He was starting to regain feeling in his fingertips anyway.

“Bit different from the three stop signs and one crosswalk, eh?” Stiles leaned back and let himself relax as Derek’s shoulders got more and more tense. They were crawling their way across the city but Stiles found he didn’t mind. He let his mind drift, listening to Derek’s soft mutters of frustration and the low chat on the radio.

“Okay. I think I’m ready for this now.” They were stuck in another long line of traffic, the red taillights dancing in Stiles’ eyes, forming patterns that vanished almost as soon as they appeared. “How’s home?”

Derek sucked in a slow breath. “Scott’s doing well. Isaac got a cat.” He flicked his eyes sideways. “What do you want to know, Stiles?”

Stiles shrugged. “I don’t know. I just knew that I could ask, now.”

Derek concentrated on weaving through the cars, pulling into a lot and handing over cash. Stiles steeled himself against the cold and followed Derek into the restaurant.

 

The conversation had thawed through dinner, helped by the beer that accompanied the really fine steak Derek had sprung for. But it all clammed up again when they found their seats at the game. The really, fucking good seats.

“What the fuck?” Stiles said, leaning forward to look through the glass two rows in front of them. They weren’t right next to it but so close it almost didn’t matter. “What the fuck do you do man?” The woman beside him glared at him but Stiles knew that the kid beside her would be hearing much worse before the night was out.

“I take photos,” Derek said. The teams were skating lazy circles as Derek clasped his hands together. “Good ones.”

Stiles shook his head. “Should have known you’d be some into that. You were always creepily appearing out of corners. This just adds another little soupcon to that.” The lights started dimming and he dragged himself to his feet for the anthem.

“Not those kind of photos,” Derek growled into his ear, the heat of his breath shocking against Stiles’ skin. “It’s artistic.” That sent Stiles into giggles which he muffled under his mittens. Derek grinned ruefully beside him before pulling a card out of his pocket and handing it over.

“Derek Hart.” Stiles flipped the heavy cardstock in his hands. “People don’t really have cards anymore, you know.”

“I do.” Derek settled back into his seat and they watched the ice clear in silence.

“I take it Hale is too well known…in certain circles.” Stiles tucked the card into his wallet, retrieving his coffee from the concrete in front of him and settling in for puck drop.

“I liked the name. Laura used it as our alias. In New York.” Derek grabbed his own drink and let the wall of red stand up around them as he sipped. Stiles had to lean close to hear him over the noise, and it felt like they were trapped – or, perhaps, safe – in their own little world. “You should look me up.”

Stiles got to his feet and cheered as the game got off to a fast start. He tried to ignore how fast his heart was beating – how fast his heart had been beating since Derek pulled up in his rental – and concentrate on willing the home team to victory. He also tried to pretend that he was here to do Derek a favor as well, keep him company while he was in town. But Stiles knew he was fooling himself.

Stiles focused on the slamming of sticks, the way the players tried to knock each other to the boards. He tried to keep his mind on the fast shift changes. He used every trick in the book to stop himself looking over at Derek, tracing the curve of Derek’s jaw with his eyes. He tried, a little desperately, to tamp down the feelings that Derek being here were reviving in him, breaking through the walls Stiles had built in his mind, in his heart, to keep himself away from his old life.

Derek wasn’t just making his heart beat faster. Derek was driving a bulldozer through him.

 

Stiles was glad he had the excuse of work to avoid doing more than exchanging a couple of texts with Derek over the next few days. His sudden willingness to accept a few overtime shifts also coincided with Derek having a whole lot of meetings and lunches and dinners. Stiles even managed to keep himself from looking Derek up for three whole days.

That came crashing down on the fourth. He was curled up in his blankets, letting the warmth seep into his aches from overworking and he ended up watching the local news on his tablet, unwilling to leave the pillows for his TV. When he got bored of dicking around, he finally entered Derek’s alias and settled in to read.

It wasn’t entirely surprising that there wasn’t a lot of information about Derek and his work online but Stiles was able to find a few of Derek’s images, a rough guess at what Derek was probably making and a rather depressing series of pictures of the Hale house, atmospheric and creepy. Stiles spent a long time looking at one of Scott and Isaac, backs to the camera, bent over some old book. It looked staged, like something for the front cover of some gothic novel. But Stiles knew it would be real, for all that it was a part of his life that he thought he’d managed to leave behind.

It was almost a relief to pull on his uniform and, with it, everything new about himself.

 

Derek was in the Chief’s office again when Stiles wandered past, ostensibly to drop off paperwork. The Chief waved at him to come in while Derek shook the Chief’s hand, nodded to Stiles and headed out the door, immaculate in another suit and a vivid lavender tie. He met Stiles’ eyes for a long time before walking down the hallway leading out.

“Your friend is going to save us a whole lot of bother.” The Chief rubbed his hands together before grabbing his mug. Stiles dropped the files into the in-tray and waited. “He’s going to shoot our calendar.”

“Derek?” Stiles wondered if Derek could still hear him. He shrugged. “We going artistic?”

The Chief just shook his head, grinning a little too toothily for Stiles’ complete comfort. “You’re in charge of making sure the guys keep hitting the gym. And maybe you should hit that. If you know what I mean.”

Stiles glared at the Chief who very seriously took a long slurp of his coffee and ignored Stiles’ raised eyebrows.

“Thank you for that vote of confidence,” Stiles finally said. “If that’s everything…”

Stiles was sure he heard the Chief muttering, “Go get ‘em, tiger,” as he left. The old guy reminded him more of Finstock than his dad, that was for sure.

 

Derek left town the next day, sending a goodbye text from O’Hare. Stiles couldn’t decide if he was glad or unhappy, but he still didn’t pick up the next time he was out. Or the time after that. And maybe he came a few times with Derek’s name on his lips. It was entirely understandable. The guy had taken him to a hockey game. He wore suits that wouldn’t be out of place on a model, let alone the guy behind the camera. And he was Derek. He was a piece of home that Stiles wondered if he could perhaps let himself keep.

Their texts continued. The day Stiles honest-to-god rescued kittens from a tree. Derek taking a trip to Canada. It was inane and the only thing remarkable about it was the fact it was Derek Hale, who had never been the best of communicators, and him, who had been ignoring everything that even smacked of home for the past five years. Stiles didn’t delete a single one of them. Then, all too soon, Derek was back in town and Stiles really had no idea what to say to him face to face.

 

The day of the shoot was going well. The other guys had taken their gym time half-seriously at least, joking around about being Mr. July or whatever. Stiles had broken up a few competitive treadmill contests as well. And the shoot itself was a laugh, with beer and people laughing as they posed, stereotypically. The Chief had left Stiles in charge of most of the logistics, heading off after lunch to some meeting.

Everyone else headed off after they were done, posing around the station, Derek following them with his lights and a camera and looking cool and collected and professional. Stiles was feeling anything but professional. In fact, Stiles felt awkward as he peeled off his t-shirt when his time came, before pulling his suspenders back over his shoulders. Derek was dressed casually today, forgoing the suits for jeans and a Henley, his usual Beacon Hills attire. The jeans were just as tight even if they looked newer and cleaner than anything Stiles could remember Derek wearing. The Henley looked soft and worn though, a deep olive green that made Derek’s eyes look brighter, more vivid.

Derek lifted the camera in hands and snapped a picture, pulling the camera away to look at the tiny screen. He was scowling.

“Stiles, this is supposed to look hot. You remember? For your fans.” Derek raised an eyebrow and Stiles raised his middle finger and mouthed ‘fuck you’. Derek took a long moment to look at him before saying, mildly, “Well, we can do that if you want.”

“What?” Stiles looked around. It was just him and Derek now, the others drifting away to do better things. “I’m just – what if someone recognizes my scars? Or the tattoos?”

“If anyone recognizes Oni claw marks, they’re not going to say anything.” Derek put his camera down on the table and drifted closer to Stiles. His expression was clearer as he got closer, concern and an amount of affection that made Stiles nearly afraid apparent in his eyes. “And your tattoos tell them exactly how you survived.”

Derek hesitated, his hand outstretched for a moment before Stiles nodded. Stiles shivered as Derek drew a soft finger over the curve of his bicep, tracing one of the lines of his tattoos. They covered the scars, a little, made them less noticeable. At least that was the excuse he gave to anyone who asked. Derek knew that they kept back the poison that had threatened his life – threatened all of them, killed some of them. It was one of the many things that had driven him out of Beacon Hills.

But Derek’s touch wasn’t reminding him of how painful the injury had been, how long the fever it brought on had lasted. Instead it felt like Derek’s fingertips were drawing a line right to his dick. Stiles had never experienced that particular side effect before. Derek seemed to know what was what, because he started stroking down the line of Stiles’ tattoo all over again, making Stiles shiver.

“I can stop.” Derek sounded like he really didn’t want to stop.

Stiles took a step back, heaved in a sigh, tightened his abs and swung the fire axe up around his shoulders. “I’m not saying no.”

“What are you saying?” Derek kept his eyes on Stiles’, open and honest. It was that as much as the fact Derek had asked a question, asked for clarification like a fucking adult, that made Stiles realize how much both of them had changed. He might even go so far as to say matured.

“I’m saying let’s get this done so we can go back to my apartment or your hotel – whichever is nearest – and we can keep going.” Stiles nodded. “In a sex way.” Maybe matured was a step so far. All the same, he was startled by the clear peal of laughter Derek let out, pure and unforced. Stiles could feel a blush starting to work up his cheeks, pleasure at making Derek react like that.

Derek bent forward and brushed his mouth over Stiles’ in an almost chaste way. It was definitely hesitant. Stiles grabbed at Derek’s shoulders, hauling him close, opening his mouth in a way that dropped a pretty clear hint not to hold back. Their kiss turned filthy pretty much immediately, and Stiles could feel the prickle of sweat at his temples, the way his heart beat faster and a definite stir in his pants. Derek looked just as affected as he pulled away and walked back to his camera on what looked like unsteady legs.

It was one of the quick pictures Derek took after he turned back around, in control again, that he seemed happiest with. Stiles didn’t care. He just wanted to get this over with and get to later. Derek seemed to think in much the same way, not taking him time over sticking his equipment back into its cases. His eyes would sweep over Stiles now and again, as Stiles threw on his street clothes and stored everything back into his locker.

“Done?” Derek asked, on the edge of breathless. Stiles had to press him to the wall behind the door and kiss him again. Derek opened his mouth immediately, welcoming Stiles in, lips wet and soft and eager. There was the hint of teeth there too, as Derek pressed wet, open mouthed kisses down Stiles’ neck, stubble leaving that drag of near pain behind. “We need to go.”

Stiles had never really thought about getting fucked in the locker room (despite some of the porn he watched) but right now he was rethinking that entire strategy. Derek’s cock was stiffening against the thigh Stiles had angled right against it and it felt amazing. Luckily a noise from elsewhere in the building had them breaking apart.

“Home. Lube. Condoms. Bed.” Stiles muttered the words to himself as he grabbed his coat and waved Derek ahead of him. He knew Derek would have heard him anyway, but the flash of a wicked grin was reassuring all the same. “Mine or yours?”

“Yours.” There was no caution or hesitation in Derek’s voice. “Hotels smell weird.” There was a moment where Stiles could see a memory of something breaking through the heat that was threatening to overwhelm them both. “I took a cab here today.”

“I walked. It’s not far.” Stiles pulled on his gloves, waved a quick goodbye to the guys on shift and led Derek onto the street. “It’s nothing glamorous.”

Derek looked at him, evenly and clearly. “But it’s yours.”

 

Derek didn’t comment on the pile of boxes in the corner of the living room or the fact that the kitchen counters were cluttered with take-out boxes. Derek didn’t even look askance at Stiles’ unmade bed. Instead he kissed Stiles again the moment they got the door locked behind them, struggling out of his coat and trying to get Stiles out of his too all at the same time. It was fucking hot.

“Stiles?” Derek broke away as he pulled his Henley over his head and paused before diving back in.

“Yeah?” Stiles took the respite to drag in air, something he’d been in danger of running out of. He still kicked off his shoes.

“You know… This isn’t just because.” Derek ran his hands down Stiles’ bare chest. “Fuck.”

Stiles took a moment to just glare at Derek. “Are you stopping making out to talk about feelings? Who are you and what have you done with Derek? Do I need to get the anti-possession stuff out?” Stiles forced down the memories and had to stop talking as Derek ran his fingertips over his tattoo again, intimate and caring.

“I don’t want this to be a one time thing.” Derek looked like it pained him to get the words out. “But I’m not going to move.”

“Me neither. But, Derek, it’s you and me. We don’t do casual.” Stiles had tried – he knew he had. But it looked like he was as possessive about boyfriends as he was about everything else in his life. And he knew Derek almost better than anyone else in the world, he knew Derek’s history, and it struck him that what he’d been feeling all the time that he and Derek had been texting was more than just friendship and/or lust. There was a scary new word for what he was feeling.

Maybe he’d been feeling it all along.

“Especially since I’m apparently in love with you.” Stiles could feel his mouth twisting in an attempt to stop the words coming out. He really didn’t feel comfortable admitting it. He was half expecting Derek to freeze or run away or something. He was hoping Derek would maybe keep kissing him. He would not have predicted the way Derek cupped his face in his hands.

“Me too. I mean. I love you.” Then Derek kissed him. There was a different flavor to it now, a frisson of longing that went beyond just the whole physical side of things. Which were getting more insistent again, as Stiles pulled Derek closer, hands finding the waistband of Derek’s jeans and trying to work inside them.

“Now fuck me,” Stiles ordered when Derek pulled back again to unfasten his pants. Stiles stumbled on the way to the bedroom before he managed to kick off his own jeans and finally get totally free of his shirt. He landed on the bed in just his boxers, stretching out to grab the lube from under his mattress. Derek had shed his underwear and was warm all over as he stretched beside Stiles, kissing his shoulder, his arm, everything he could reach.

“You could fuck me?” Derek said as Stiles handed him the lube and contorted on the bed to wriggle out of his underwear. That made Stiles freeze.

“Next time?” Then Stiles caught sight of Derek’s cock and he felt his mouth start to water. “Or the time after that?” He needed to suck Derek down, feel him come down his throat. There was so much he wanted to do with Derek. “Remember – this is not just for now. I’m not… I promise I won’t disappear on you again.” Stiles punched Derek in the arm. “You’re not allowed to disappear on me either.”

“Promise.” Derek brushed his fingertips over Stiles’ hip, tickled up his side before cupping Stiles’ cheek and kissing him deeply. “Love you.”

Stiles breathed into the kiss and widened his legs and let Derek in.

Derek teased him, unfairly, tracing a finger around his rim for entirely too long before he eased his finger inside. He also took way too long stepping up to two, no matter how much Stiles begged. Because he begged and begged, shameless. He also kicked Derek as hard as he could in the side, digging his heel in to make it hurt. Derek didn’t even flinch. But he did crook his fingers to brush across Stiles’ prostate in a way that spoke of experience and determination.

“You gotta fuck me, right? You wouldn’t not,” Stiles begged as Derek slowly twisted his fingers in and out. “C’mon, Derek.”

“Don’t want to hurt you,” Derek muttered as he bent himself over Stiles to kiss him deeply, working his way down Stiles’ neck, leaving unmistakable marks, the burn of his stubble making shivers climb up and down Stiles’ spine.

Stiles had to kiss Derek at that, hard and eager. “Fuck you. I’m not a delicate flower. I’m a fucking firefighter, I’ll have you know.”

“Yeah,” Derek snarked back. “A real hero. Who’s begging for my dick.”

“I deserve it,” Stiles told him, seriously, before cracking up. Derek tried to look superior for all of a moment before shaking his head ruefully and stopping Stiles’ laughter with another deep kiss, sucking all the air out of the room suddenly.

“Yeah, you do,” Derek said, guiding himself in, not teasing anymore as he fucked into Stiles. Stiles was so turned on he was begging once more, this time for Derek to move, to fuck him. He tried kicking again, only for Derek to haul his thigh tighter around his neat waist and use the extra leverage to shift into slow, deep strokes.

Stiles flung his hands up above his head, grabbing for the headboard to steady him as Derek used the hand not holding Stiles’ leg to stroke over Stiles’ cock, tight and hot and on the edge of rough. Stiles was so strung out that he wasn’t going to last. A red flush started high on Derek’s cheeks, letting Stiles know he wasn’t alone in being overwhelmed by this.

Stiles cried out, something that might have been Derek’s name, as he came, slick and wet and fast, feeling Derek fuck into him harder, ride out his orgasm before tipping over into his own. He kissed Stiles as he came down, shudders riding his body, echoing the way Stiles needed to recover, get himself together again.

Derek flopped onto the mess of blankets beside him, chest still rising and falling rapidly. Stiles was a mess of come and lube and sweat, breathing hard himself, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Derek leaned over and kissed him before following Stiles’ vague directions to the bathroom, cleaning Stiles up halfheartedly, and then hauling the covers over both of them.

It was still early – the rush hour traffic barely started outside Stiles’ window – and the late sunlight slanted through the shades, catching the odd glint of silver in Derek’s hair. Stiles ran his fingers through the tangled mess, pulling Derek close for yet another kiss, another chance to say everything without speaking. The kissing slowed, becoming soft, intimate and heartachingly good.

“Dinner later?” Stiles asked. “I don’t have to be back at work until Wednesday.”

“I don’t have anywhere to be,” Derek said. He brushed another kiss over Stiles’ lips before rolling over and tugging Stiles’ arm over him. “Sleep. Rest for later. We’ll get take-out.”

“Sounds like a suspiciously good plan for you.” Derek kicked back, softly so Stiles knew he didn’t really mean it. Then he relaxed, totally at ease, and dragged Stiles down into sleep with him.

 

Nearly six months later and maybe Ericsson had a right to look annoyed as Stiles’ phone chimed for what must have been the twentieth time since they’d sat down to eat. It wasn’t like the chicken and pasta was haute cuisine or anything but the meals were team building, a chance to catch up with the guys. Stiles still grabbed it, smiling, ducking the piece of bread that came flying his way.

“I’m on clean up,” he muttered, as he tapped a quick reply. Derek was coordinating his next trip out with Stiles’ days off. “Fuck off.”

“Stiles, why don’t you? I mean. You’re always on the phone with him.” There was a tense and uncomfortable lull in conversation. Stiles looked up to see everyone either studying their food carefully or watching him and Ericsson.

“What?” Stiles tried not to look down as his phone chimed again.

“Not saying you have to fuck off. But shouldn’t you and photo guy be thinking about maybe getting together more? His town’s gotta have a fire department, right?” Ericsson ducked his head but from the nods around the table, Stiles guessed that everyone here had been gossiping about him and Derek.

Stiles had run out of things to say. He’d not thought about it, too caught up in Derek. His mind provided an image of his apartment, half his things still in boxes. It wouldn’t take long to pack. His lease was almost due up. Ericsson threw another piece of bread at him.

“Maybe,” he allowed, before texting Derek back. They could talk it over, next weekend.