“Hey, do you want some Doritos?” asks Scott, standing thoughtfully in front of the rack of chips with an Arizona in his hand. “Two bags for a buck.”
Derek finishes paying for their gas and turns to regard the display of Doritos with an air of quiet misery and mild offense. “No,” he says. “I don’t.”
Scott squints at him. “You realise by saying no, you’re denying me Doritos, too.”
“No, I’m not,” says Derek flatly. “You can still buy two bags. Just save one for later. Or give it to Stiles. Or your mom. Or literally anybody else. Why is this taking so long?”
“Okay, important question. Has anyone ever actually been able to save Doritos for later?” muses Scott, moving leisurely through this conversation whether Derek wants to or not. “Anyway, Stiles doesn’t like Cool Ranch.”
“Well, Stiles is picky. Can we just go?” demands Derek, bristling. Scott can smell the tension on him, knotted in the base of his neck and spine. He’s reeked of frustration and the faint tang of sour fear all day, throwing pissy little fits over nothing.
“I’ll be done in a second,” says Scott evenly, shrugging one shoulder and then picking out a bag from the display.
The convenience store’s door opens and shuts, the bell dinging. When Scott looks over, Derek is gone.
He shows up again at Scott’s house later that night, skulking on the front step with his hands pushed deep into the pockets of his jacket.
“Derek,” says Scott.
“I got you this,” says Derek in lieu of a greeting, extracting a crumpled bag of Doritos from his pocket. He stares meaningfully at Scott like he’s trying to communicate maybe an entire emotion with just his eyes and brows and doesn’t move until Scott takes the bag.
“Uh, thanks,” says Scott, pleasantly confused. With Derek, it’s usually just best to wait him out. Things are never straightforward. They always unravel slowly, like bits of string.
For a moment, they just stand there awkwardly, Derek shifting his weight from one sneakered foot to the other, Scott cataloguing the chill in the air; it’ll be cold tonight.
“Cora’s not coming back,” blurts Derek. There’s a tangible waver to his voice; it settles into the pit of Scott’s chest.
“Come in,” says Scott. “Derek, come inside.”
Melissa’s on shift at the hospital tonight so Scott was planning on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. With Derek suddenly present, a person-shaped sucking void of hurt standing in his kitchen, Scott opens the fridge and digs out milk, cheese, and butter.
“What are you doing?” asks Derek after a while. His voice comes out rough, scraped.
“Making us some mac’n cheese,” says Scott. “Can you get the macaroni from the cupboard?”
“I’m not hungry,” Derek says sullenly.
Scott looks up and meets his challenging gaze, holds it firmly until Derek flinches and looks away. With a slump of Derek’s shoulders, he submits, and, for now, because Derek needs it, Scott is content to take charge of them both. “Can you please get the macaroni?” he repeats firmly.
Derek doesn’t meet Scott’s gaze again, but he nods.
For the next hour, Scott puts Derek to work grating cheese, boiling pasta, and buttering the casserole dish. He watches the tension drain out of Derek’s body as he works, watches his eyelids droop and his mouth go slack and soft, and when the macaroni and cheese is covered in breadcrumbs and baking in the oven, Scott takes him by the elbow into the living room and they play video games on the couch.
Derek is notoriously bad at anything that requires finesse or stealth or, like, aim, so Scott pops Viva Piñata into the Xbox and neither of them say a word about it as Derek silently trundles all over his cheerful little garden planting seeds and attracting piñata animals called things like “shelleybeans” and “buzzlegums.” It’s a huge concentrated effort not to smile when Derek starts to sabotage his defenceless prey piñatas in favour of the little predator mallowolf species. To be totally honest, Scott would probably do the same thing.
“No, stay put,” says Scott when the timer dings and Derek goes to get up. He curls his fingers around the nape of Derek’s neck, squeezing lightly. “I’ll get it.”
Derek eats three helpings of dinner. Scott carefully doesn’t tease him about apparently not being hungry.
“She said it was safer there,” says Derek, as they sit drowsing on the couch after dinner. His voice is small and low. “And she’s right. I don’t blame her. Look what happened to her here. Hurt, used, poisoned...” The because of me is heavily implied.
They’re pressed shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee. Derek is a tactile creature; if he tips his head a little further to the side, it’ll be on Scott’s shoulder.
“Are you going to...go back? Stay with her?” asks Scott, when the silence stretches too thin between them.
“I don’t know yet.”
“That’s okay,” says Scott softly. “Do you want to play another game?”
“You play,” says Derek. “I can watch.”
Scott loads Mass Effect and lets Derek make all the dialogue choices, at least, until he falls asleep.
It’s lucky Scott kept a save before he started letting Derek choose, because he really didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been paving the way towards heartbreak. He plays a little longer, mulling everything over, trying to figure out why Derek is choosing to stay in Beacon Hills instead of joining Cora’s new pack in South America. Because he has chosen, regardless of what he said before he fell asleep.
He’s chosen Scott.
“You are putting your faith in a seriously green alpha, dude,” huffs Scott. Derek shifts, curls onto his side with his head on Scott’s thigh, his body tense even in sleep. Scott absently rubs the pads of his fingers into Derek’s scalp, stroking his hair, eventually settling a palm over the nape of his neck. Derek responds with a deep sigh, limbs loosening.
It’s unbearably cute, so Scott takes a selfie and captions it ‘let sleeping wolves lie.’
“Why are you the way that you are,” says Derek, not even having the decency to open his eyes. “Don’t you dare send that to anyone.” He rubs his cheek against Scott’s jeans and rumbles happily at the continued hair scritches. Scott is delighted.
“Too late,” chirps Scott. “I sent it to Stiles. He’s charmed.”
Derek snorts. “I don’t believe you.”
“Are you questioning your alpha?” asks Scott dramatically.
For a moment, Derek goes very still. “No,” he says eventually. Scott was half-joking, but Derek very clearly is not. “No, I’m not.”
Scott lets out a slow, measured breath. Squeezes the nape of Derek’s neck again and Derek shudders. “Okay.”