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when I look at you (oh, I don't know what's real)

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When Stiles was little, the walls of his room were pale yellow and his windows were hung with white curtains with green elephants appliqued at the hem—cutesy stuff that his parents picked out for the nursery long before they ever brought him home to it. He painted the walls blue with his mom when he was six; they took down the curtains together and folded them to put away, changed the spread on his bed from stained green to dinosaurs on a searing orange background. They painted his old bookcase orange, too, to match. "What a grown-up bedroom," his mom said, standing in the doorway next to him at the end of the day. "I can't believe you're so big already."

Stiles straightened his spine and crossed his arms over his chest. He'd spray-painted his bookshelf all on his own, spread out the newspaper on the driveway beforehand to catch the drips and stray bursts of paint. "I am so big," he said.

The only things left in Stiles's room now that his mom picked out are the blinds in his windows and the frame of his bed; it has a new mattress, new sheets and new covers. The walls are still blue, visible in a handful of spots between newspaper articles and printouts, handwritten notes and evidence bags. "It's quite a statement," Lydia says when she comes over, tracing the strings linking crimes and unexplained animal sightings together. "Do you think of yourself as more of a Sherlock Holmes or a Fox Mulder? We could get you a poster."

"They actually solved stuff," Stiles says sharply. "Did you translate the thing?"

Lydia shrugs her designer purse off her shoulder. "If you mean the article in the Bestiary, yes."

The blinds on the window next to tree have gotten crumpled over the years; Stiles sneaking out and, more recently, sneaking people in. Someone broke the latch last month. Scott, probably.

Stiles got the new mattress around the time he discovered his dick the way you discover your dick when you're in middle school, so it's basically always been jizz central. The first time he woke up with his boxers full of cooling spunk, his cheeks flushed with shame—all he could think was, Dad just bought this mattress, and he couldn't hold any of that in the same thought, let alone the same breath. He flopped on his back and did the breathing exercises his therapist made him practice over and over until he calmed down. Then he wiped himself off with a tissue, dragged a hand over his sweaty, bare chest, and slipped his hand beneath the waistband of his boxers. This was normal. This was—it was totally normal. No one had to know, no one was going to be mad.

He opened his windows to air things out before he went back to sleep, just in case.

After the first flush of puberty, those kind of dreams came few and far between. Stiles was pretty dedicated to jerkin' it on the daily, once before he got out of bed, maybe another time in the shower, and a nightcap before bed, just to take the edge off things and send him into dreamland. That one is the first to go when his life turns into werewolf-o-rama; he starts passing out with his face in a book or on his laptop keyboard, waking up to find his MMORPG parties abandoned and his homework irrevocably keysmashed. Sometimes there's not even time for a starter round in the morning. Stiles tells himself it's okay: there'll be more orgasms in the future, if he can live long enough to see it.

Then he starts dreaming again, comes to with his hips grinding against the beds, whining and shaking, desperate. Stiles feels like a kid, humiliated and frustrated. Half the time, he can't even get off the whole way, wakes himself up with it, and he stares blearily at the red glare of his alarm clock while he fumbles his fingers around his dick.

"Your room smells weird." Scott's nose crinkles as he steps into Stiles's bedroom, juggling a 2-liter of Mountain Dew: Code Red and three bags of Cheetos. "Are you sure you want to study up here?"

Stiles dumps the contents of his backpack onto his bed, pulls his notes on the sacrifices out of his biology textbook. "Dad's on days this week. He's probably going to be home soon."

Scott sighs and shoves Stiles's stuff to the side so he can sit down on the bed. "Okay," he says. "Yeah, I know—okay."

Before Scott leaves, he bends over Stiles's desk to raise the blinds. "Dude, you should fix your window," he says, pushing at the latch. "You should put mountain ash in or something, too. I don't want you to get alpha packed or virgin sacrificed."

"Hey, if somebody would help a guy out—" Stiles spreads out his arms like he's William Shatner in that one Star Trek movie he's seen clips of on Youtube. "Bachelor #1 at your service."

Scott punches him in the shoulder. "You'll be fine," he says. "Just—lock your window."

Stiles used to dream about Lydia, and those were nice dreams. Sometimes he just dreamed about her hair, which was long and smelled like girl shampoo, strawberry Jolly Ranchers or visceral bubblegum. It was always loose and unbound, and he'd bury his nose in the nape of her neck, his hands cupping her shoulders, and—that was all he needed, right there, enough to send him off like a rocket. Lydia, whole, herself, was almost too much.

When Stiles dreams about Derek, he imagines Derek pushing him down against his mattress, blanketing Stiles's body with his own and dragging his mouth along the line of Stiles's jaw in some perverse reversal. If Lydia is Stiles's untouchable goddess, Derek is her dark mirror, his body familiar under Stiles's hands, every swell of muscle a suggestion of danger. In his dreams, Stiles takes it all, wants it all. "Derek," he says. "Please. Do it."

He wakes up in the morning cold and filthy, dick scraped against the rough cotton of his boxers. His math textbook is squashed against his cheek and his alarm is going off, sun shining bright through the broken blinds on the window. Stiles gets halfway through his shower before he remembers it's Saturday.

Scott slows his pace during cross-country, falls back from Isaac to join Stiles near the back of the group. "Hey, have you seen Derek recently?" Scott says, faux-casual, like Stiles hasn't watched him try to lie to their parents since they were five.

"Nope," Stiles says, lungs heaving. "Not since—you were there—at the—the loft. Are you—did something—?" He stops, braces himself on his knees while he catches his breath. They're the last ones on the trail now—even Greenberg has passed them.

"No, I saw him last night, with Boyd," Scott says. He frowns. "You'd tell me if something was going on, right? If Derek was bothering you?"

"Of course," Stiles says. "I haven't seen him in a week." Unless he counts the Derek he dreams about on the regular, but if Stiles has learned anything from Lydia Martin and his umpteen-year-plan, it's that the people in your dreams and the people in your reality are never one and the same.

Stiles puts a new latch on his window and buys new blinds. "They're just dreams," he says to himself as he screws in the latch, shiny brass bright against the strained wood. "Totally."

When he wakes up at 3AM, his hand is fisted around his dick and he's staring at the green digits glowing on his alarm clock. He rolls toward the wall, pulls his pillow over his head; tries not to think about anything at all.