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Stiles Stilinski has always prided himself on being an amazing best friend. Still, when Scott comes to him at the start of term, bursting with enthusiasm, Stiles isn't exactly sure why he can’t share his excitement.

"I made the council!” Scott grins at him as he slaps Stiles across the back, knocking him forwards. Christ, lacrosse has been good for him.

“That's great?” He shoves the rest of his books into his locker and slams the door closed.

“Yes! Our first meeting’s after school tonight and Allison said she would drop me home afterwards.”

“So, we’re not practicing tonight?” He feels like shit when Scott’s face drops.

“Stiles, I’m sorry; I forgot-”

“Don’t worry about it, we’ll do it tomorrow.” He offers Scott a small smile, watches his face relax in relief.

“Definitely. Listen,” Scott drops into step beside him as he starts walking to class, “Allison was telling me about this idea she has for prom. She’s hoping the others will agree.”

“Cool. Decided when you’re gonna ask her out yet?”

“I’m working up to it. She sorta hit a dog on the freeway the other night and I invited her to Lydia’s party.”

“Hold it.” Stiles’ arm shoots out, hits Scott in the stomach, forcing him to stop. “When did this happen and why didn't you tell me?”

“I did mention it this morning in home period.” Stiles frowns, trying to remember if Scott had actually said anything. He vaguely recalls something about an adorable collie but he had been too busy staring at the back of Lydia’s head so it’s not like he can be held accountable.

“You know I don't pay attention in home period!” He hears Scott snort. “What did she say?”

“She said yes. I’m picking her up on Friday at seven.”

“That's great, man!” His bad mood dissipates instantly as he watches Scott’s cheeks flush pink.

“You can still catch a ride with us.” Scott tells him earnestly. “I'm sure Allison won’t mind.”

“Nah it’s cool. Thanks, though.” He doesn't exactly relish the thought of being a third wheel. “Besides you never know, Lydia could agree to be my date.” He adds jokingly.

"Yes!” Scott agrees quickly. They pause outside the classroom, moving out the way as Danny pushes past. Stiles watches him knock fists with Jackson as he sits down next to him. "Now’s your chance.”

Lydia arrives in a cloud of Chanel and the clattering of high heels on the tiled floor. She’s tapping away at her phone and ignores Stiles’ attempts of “Lydia! Hi! Would you like-” as she takes the desk at the front of the class. Stiles looks at Scott, who shrugs his shoulders.

"Sorry, man.”

“Maybe next time.” Stiles goes to grab the desk behind Danny, almost tripping over Derek’s bag which is sticking out from under his chair.

"Watch it, Stilinski.” Jackson mutters as he feels Derek’s hand on his arm, steadying him. He mutters an apology as he pulls free and drops into the chair. His cheeks are on fire and he glances across at Derek to see him still watching him, eyebrows creased into a deep frown.

He ducks his head as the teacher starts talking about the key events of the civil war. Stiles zones out for most it, alternating between staring at the back of Lydia’s head as she argues the power base of the confederates and doodling pictures of angry eyebrows and howling wolves.

Derek doesn't look at him again but Stiles can't shake the feeling that something happened this morning and there was something in their exchange he was missing. Why hadn't Derek let him fall? It would have certainly been more funny.

Derek Hale, all star lacrosse player, member of the popular click, best friends with Jackson and Danny, is everything Stiles hates about the popular kids. Good looking and thinking that makes them deserved of special attention while the losers, like Stiles, have to make do with what they have. Jackson’s by far the worst but Derek’s definitely guilty by association.

The bell sounds loudly and everyone starts packing their things away as Reuben tells them their essay on the confederates is due Monday.

*

The thing is, Stiles forgets all about Scott’s council meeting until he comes into school a few days later and his friend’s leaning against his locker, grinning like a loon as he watches Allison walk away. As soon as he catches sight of Stiles, though, he jumps on him.

"We did it! We got the vote!"

"What are you talking about?" Lydia walks past, acknowledges Scott with a nod as she disappears around the corner. "What the hell was that? Lydia talks to you?"

"She’s on the council and she's friends with Allison." Scott shrugs. "Allison got her idea through the council. For prom."

"Really?"

"Yes! Four votes to two. Jackson voted against but he’s a douche anyway." Well Stiles can't argue with that.

"What's the idea?"

"Okay, so the idea is to get our entire year to go to prom so we’re going to do matchmaking, sorta." Stiles feels his jaw drop.

"What?"

"Basically everyone’s name is dropped in a hat and we pull out prom dates!" Scott’s fingers stretch outwards in a flourishing finish which could mark the end of Stiles’ life.

"My prom date is being chosen by a hat?"

"Yes!" Scott says enthusiastically. “Great, isn't it?" Stiles isn't sure if his horror is actually showing on his face because Scott’s not reacting to it at all. Though, that could be the rose tinted glasses of young love. Stiles would know after all.

"No?" He manages to punch out eventually. "What if I get Jackson?" Even Scott winces at that.

"Well that's worst case scenario, right?" He offers. "Who knows, you might get Lydia?" Scott tries to sound positive but Stiles can't share his optimism. At least if he asked Lydia outright then it's a 50/50 chance. With this it's all down to a scrap of paper in a figurative hat. How many people went to this school anyway?

"And in one conversation, all of Stiles’ dreams have been crushed." He sighs and opens his locker as the bell signalling start of class rings out.

"Look on the bright side," Scott looks at him pleadingly. "If you get Jackson and don’t go to prom then he can't either."

"I hardly think that it’s gonna break his heart if I don't turn up." Stiles says sarcastically as he makes for the stairs. "Come on, we’re going be late."

"No, that's part of the rules. If your date doesn't turn up, you can't go either."

"Small mercies, I guess." He mutters as they reach their class. "All this for a date that you’re probably not gonna get anymore. You’ve kinda messed up your own chances." He watches the small smile spread on Scott’s lips as he ducks his head.

"She’s worth it."

"I hope so." Stiles tells him. "This is worse than joining lacrosse."

*

The notice about prom goes up the following day. Surprisingly a lot of people are on board with the whole idea; only a handful of people seem to share Stiles’ sense of impending doom.

"They can't make me go." He hears Erica muttering one afternoon. "Spending a night with a stranger isn't my idea of a good time."

And that's an opinion Stiles definitely shares. He finds himself eyeing up everyone in the hallway, wondering if they’re going to be his date. The creepy dude who always sits on the same step outside, the girl who tries to blow the biggest bubbles with gum. Hell, even Isaac gets the once over while he’s sat in Math and that guy’s almost as bad as Jackson.

"You know that it's really unlikely you're going to get Allison, right?" Stiles feels the need to remind Scott in the face of his overwhelming enthusiasm for this idea.

"Doesn't matter." Scott grins. "We’re still going to Lydia’s together on Friday."

"They pick names tomorrow. What if your date’s there? Isn't that like cheating?" Scott hits him on the arm. "Ow!"

"You deserved that. I hope you get Jackson."

"Wounded, bro. Wounded."

"McCall." Stiles shoots in the air as he hears Jackson’s voice behind him. Clutching his chest, he turns to find Jackson, in his usual trio, looking at him like he’s a freak. Jackson opens his mouth, thinks about saying something but decides it isn't worth it and looks at Scott. "We’re doing the draw at lunch tomorrow."

"Cool." Stiles rolls his eyes at Scott, catches Derek staring at him. Derek doesn't look away, even when he’s caught staring, his mouth just curls up into a slight smirk.

And that's not worrying at all.

"Later McCall." Jackson walks away and Derek follows with another long look at Stiles. As they walk away, Derek mutters something to Danny, who looks back briefly before they disappear around the corner.

"And that wasn't weird at all." Stiles quickly glances over his shoulder to make sure no one else is sneaking up on him.

"What?" Scott mumbles distractedly, looking through his bag for something.

"Never mind."

*

Stiles doesn't bother going to the draw. He sits on his own in the cafeteria instead, absently stuffing day-old macaroni and curly fries in his mouth whilst trying not to think about his fate being decided across the hall.

It's over forty minutes later when a tray is put down opposite and another next to it. He glances up at the grinning faces of Scott and Allison as they sit down.

"Hi Stiles." Allison says politely.

"Hi?" He looks back to Scott, who’s still smiling widely. "I'm guessing it's done?"

"Yes." Allison says quickly. "There’s a list outside the hall."

"Who did I get then?" He asks Scott, who opens his mouth to answer before another tray is dropped next to him and Danny sits down. Stiles jerks as the chairs on either side of him are pulled out and Jackson and Derek drop into them. "Did you get lost?" He asks Jackson.

"Cute." Jackson doesn't bother looking at him as he unwraps his sandwich.

"What did you think?" Allison leans across the table.

"I got Greenberg." Jackson tears off a chunk of his sandwich and Stiles gives a huge sigh of relief.

"That's not so bad, right?" Allison’s smile slips slightly. Jackson opens his mouth, but shakes his head instead.

"It's fine." He says instead. Begrudgingly.

"Who did you get?" Stiles asks Scott.

"Susan. She’s in our chemistry class." He nods towards a nearby table where a group of girls are chatting excitedly. One of them keeps glancing across at Scott and Stiles guesses she must be Susan.

"And me? Who lucked out with the Stiles?"

"Me." No one else says anything as Stiles looks at Derek in shock. Because that's where the voice had come from.

Derek freaking Hale.

"No. Way." Stiles is aware that it sounds like someone is squeezing his balls but shock does strange things to his voice. Derek's looking at him but his expression doesn't give anything away and still no one else is speaking. "You?"

"Me." Derek stabs at his macaroni. Stiles glances at Scott but he's staring at a piece of limp lettuce hanging off his fork.

The silence stretches out for a long time. Stiles, the one who always has something to say, can't think of anything. Part of him is cheering that at least he didn't get landed with Jackson, while the rest is struggling to wrap itself around the fact that Derek Hale, all star lacrosse player, jock, Jackson’s freaking best friend, is his date for high school prom.

He’s not sure whether Derek is just as bad.

Eventually Derek drops his fork back on his tray and stands. He stalks towards the door, tossing his trash as he passes the can. Danny is quick to follow, but Jackson looks like he has no intention of leaving.

"Boys." Lydia breaks the silence at long last. "So," she turns to Allison, matter forgotten, "what colour are you thinking?"

"Derek Hale." Stiles whines at Scott. "Derek Hale. You chose Derek Hale for me."

"Suck it up, Stilinski." Jackson punches his arm. "You could do a lot worse. Not sure about Derek though." He smirks.

"Witty." Stiles rubs his arm where he’s probably gonna have a massive bruise tomorrow. "I thought this thing was gonna be rigged, you know," he notices Scott’s looking confused, "you would pick Allison and you could get me a nice date-"

"Derek is a nice date." Allison interrupts. Stiles snorts.

"Sure, the dark, brooding, aggressive type is all the rage now. He doesn't speak!"

"Maybe you stun him to silence." Jackson grins widely as though it's insanely funny and Stiles decides right there that he’s gonna ignore everything else that comes out Jackson’s mouth.

The lunch bell sounds.

"Come on, let's go." Scott nudges their trays together. "It won't be so bad."

*

When Stiles finds himself at Lydia's party later that night, Scott’s words playing themselves over and over in his mind, he can't help wondering if it will be that bad.

Everyone is talking about prom and there have been quite a few surprising groups forming. Maybe Allison’s idea wasn't so bad after all. The only problem is that Stiles’ date is Derek Hale and after today’s incident in the cafeteria, he isn't even sure if he's going to prom anymore.

His soda’s warm in his hand, bubbles no longer rippling on the surface. He’s stood with a few guys from his history class, Erica shooting awkward glances at Boyd, the quiet one who always sits on his own at lunch and who she had pulled out as her date.

He saw Scott arrive with Allison, but they’ve disappeared in the crowd and he’s not about to get in the way of Scott’s date.

"You got Hale, right?" Isaac’s been quiet so long that Stiles forgot he was standing with them.

"Yeah," He mutters, taking a sip of the flat soda. "You?"

"A girl in my chem class." He’s staring over Stiles’ shoulder and Stiles turns slightly, realising with a start that Scott’s standing there as Allison laughs at something he’s said.

"Allison?"

"What? No," Isaac looks at him in confusion. "Her name’s Courtney."

Stiles shrugs, taking a large gulp of his drink as he glances around the rest of the room. It's packed, almost everyone from their year seemingly cramming themselves into Lydia’s house. He watches someone pushing their way through the crowd towards him, realising with a start as they lift their head, that it's Derek Hale.

Someone nudges his shoulder.

"Derek Hale is coming over here!" Erica breathes excitedly in his ear, muffled over the loud music.

"I'm sure he’s just walking past," He tells her as Derek is pulled into a hug by Danny. "See? Just looking for Danny."

But Derek doesn't stop long with Danny. Stiles watches them, sees Danny glance across at him and then Derek’s moving again. Straight for him.

"Whatever you say." Erica sniggers next to him, falling quiet as Derek finally reaches them. He nods at Erica, turns to Stiles and stares at him for a long moment.

"Er hi?" Stiles says eventually, uncomfortable with this strange attention.

"We need to discuss our arrangements." Derek says at last.

"Arrangements?"

"For prom." Derek doesn't roll his eyes, but he looks like he’s dying to. Stiles is confused.

"I thought we weren’t gonna go." He thinks back to the cafeteria, where Derek couldn't even stand to sit next to him for lunch, let alone spend an entire evening together. Derek scowls at him.

"We’re still going," he says brusquely, "besides, we don't have to spend the entire night together, just arrive at the same time." And doesn't that sting just a tiny bit. Even though Stiles knows he’s one of the jocks, knows he's only doing this so he can get drunk in the bathroom or spike the punch, it still hurts that Derek wouldn't even consider spending the night with his prom date.

"So what did you want to discuss?” He asks, swallowing around the lump in his throat. It suits him better after all, if they separate when they arrive, he can spend the rest of prom sat with Scott, which he was totally gonna do anyway.

"Suits." Derek says shortly. "We need to match."

"It's very early to decide that, not," he continues, noticing Derek’s look, "that it's a problem."

"So suits?"

"I was just planning on wearing my normal suit.” He thinks of the pants and jacket shoved at the back of his closet, had been there since he was nine and was now probably covered in dust.

"We need to match." Derek repeats, frown deepening, creasing his brow.

"Ugh, fine, what do you suggest?"

"We’ll need to go suit shopping." Whatever Stiles thought he was going to say, it wasn't that.

"Suit shopping?" Derek nods. "But my suit is fine. Maybe we could buy the same tie or something?" He thinks longingly of his savings, savings which are gonna pay for his road trip up the west coast, or Roscoe’s repairs, whichever comes around first.

"Sunday at the mall suit you?" Stiles wants to laugh at Derek’s pun, despite the fact that Derek’s ignored his argument and now it looks like he’s about to blow his entire savings on a freaking suit.

"Fine." Over Derek’s shoulder Scott is still talking to Allison but Lydia and Jackson have joined them.

"Meet me by the donut stand at 11." Derek waits for Stiles’ nod before he turns, disappearing back into the crowd.

"He seems nice?" Erica offers and Stiles groans.

"I'm gonna die," he rubs his hand over his face. "They’re gonna find me in the garbage behind the mall, tie perfectly noosed around my neck, a warning to all those who think that putting attractive lacrosse players with nobodies on prom night is a good idea."

"You never know, he might like you?"

"I wouldn't count on it." He wants to go over to Scott, tell him what's just happened, but Lydia and Jackson are still there, and, despite the wasted opportunity to talk to Lydia, he has a promise to himself after all.

*

By Sunday morning, Stiles is freaking out.

Well, maybe freaking out is a little harsh, although he’s changed shirts about three times, hyperventilated into a paper bag and repeatedly dragged a brush through his hair.

What the hell is he supposed to say? It's not as if Derek actually speaks much and what if they go to one of those expensive places on the top floor, the ones where the suits are exchanged for the blood of sacrificial virgins. Derek’s family is crazy well off and Stiles doesn't know if he’s gonna be able to afford his sense of style.

He hasn't told Scott yet, and he doesn't know why. At the party he’d been surrounded by Lydia and Jackson for the rest of the night, but yesterday they’d hung out playing COD.

Everytime Stiles had tried to bring up his chat with Derek, his tongue had felt like it was glued to the roof of his mouth, and he hadn't been able to force the words out. Now he just feels like even more of shit friend for not telling him.

At 11am Stiles is standing next to the donut stand by the entrance, watching an over sized Mexican donut trying to hand out coupons to a bunch of freshmen.

"Stiles." He jumps as someone puts their hand on his shoulder, and spins around. Derek’s standing behind him, a holder with two takeaway cups in his other hand.

"Hey!" He cringes, aware that he’s basically shouting.

"You showed." Derek doesn't sound surprised, more a statement of fact.

"I said I would." Stiles says defensively. Derek doesn't argue; instead he takes one of the coffees and holds it out. "What?"

"Take it." He shakes the cup slightly, coffee sloshing onto the lid. Stiles takes it hesitantly, staring at the cup in fascination. "It's not poisoned, you know."

"Wha-Oh! Sorry." He takes a sip quickly, humming in surprise as caramel bursts on his tongue, underlaid by the rich roast from that place on seventh that always makes the best coffee. He glances up to see Derek’s staring at him. "Thanks."

"No problem." Derek clears his throat, takes a sip of his own coffee. "Where do you want to try first?" And Stiles wasn't expecting that. His face must show his confusion because Derek sighs, "what?"

"Nothing!" He racks his brain quickly, remembering that discount menswear store near the food court. "I know where we can try." He starts walking to the escalator as Derek falls into step beside him.

"Did you enjoy Friday?" Derek asks after a long moment. Stiles looks at him in surprise, something he seems to be doing quite a lot at the moment.

"I guess? I mean I saw Lydia but then there was also Jackson and he's the biggest douche I know, not," he adds, realising who he’s talking to, "that it's a bad thing necessarily. I mean, there has to be douches in the world, right? To even-"

"It's okay," Derek interrupts, "He is a douche." Stiles can hear the humour in his voice, feels a reluctant bark of laughter burst out his mouth.

"Whoa! Dude, isn't that like blasphemy?" Derek grins at him, white teeth flashing everywhere and Stiles is so not prepared for that. "Don't worry, your secret’s safe with me."

"Thanks." Stiles is grinning as he steps off the escalator, unable to believe that Derek Hale actually has a sense of humour.

The discount store is empty, mannequins in nearly pressed suits seemingly the only thing human-shaped around. Now that they’re actually here, Stiles isn't sure what's supposed to happen. He’d thought Derek would choose something for both of them but he seems happy enough to follow him around as he runs his fingers over a stack of folded white shirts.

"So, are we going traditional black or something a bit more..adventurous?" He gestures to a lurid pink suit hanging on one of the racks, watching Derek grimace.

"Black is fine." Derek says, still looking at the pink suit like it's personally offended him.

"Relax man, we’ll discover your effeminate side another time."

"I don't need any help with my effeminate side," Derek says tightly and whoa, if that's not a confusing comment.

"Is Lottie from Math helping you find it?" He tries to make a joke but Derek frowns instead and Stiles can't help but feel like he’s fucked something up. Though how he could do that and why he would care so much is beyond him.

At that point the saleswoman arrives in cloud of floral perfume.

"Can I help you gentlemen?" She asks brightly, either not noticing Derek’s black look or trying to combat it with a toothy smile.

"We’re good for the moment," Derek bites out and Stiles suddenly wishes he could be anywhere but here, standing in a suit store with a lukewarm cup of coffee and a guy who is clearly struggling to tolerate him and likes to be super prepared for upcoming events.

Like who buys their prom suit this early anyway?

The saleswoman walks away and Stiles feels like following her. Derek exhales a deep sigh.

"I'm sorry." He says reluctantly, like he doesn't use the word often and it pains him to have to now.

"No problem." It is a problem, really, but Stiles doesn't know what else to say. He walks over to a rack holding black suits and looks through them slowly, not paying attention but needing to do something. "What do think of this one?" He asks, holding up a simple black number.

"It's fine." Derek pulls out another suit.

"Shall we try them on?" Stiles doesn't wait for him to answer before he grabs one of the white shirts and heads over to the changing rooms. As the lock slides closed, he heaves a sigh of relief, unable to think how he's going to get out of this. And it had started so well.

The suit fits fine, much better, he has to admit, than his old one had. He's just about to take it off again when someone knocks on the door.

"Be out in a sec!" He looks in the mirror again and unbolts the door to find Derek standing there, dressed in his suit, and Stiles is unable to prevent the small hitch of breath as he looks at him.

Stiles has always known that he's bi, checking out the guys in the locker room being a bit of a giveaway, but this has always come second to the all-consuming love he has for Lydia. Seeing Derek in his suit, though; it's certainly eyeopening.

The suit looks like it's been tailored for him, the pants clinging to his legs while the jacket stretches across shoulders, tucks in at his waist. Stiles drags his eyes up to Derek's face, finds him staring back with an unreadable look on his face.

"That's a good fit." He's aware he sounds like he's being strangled but Derek in a suit should come with a warning label because he is so not prepared for this.

"So's yours." Derek gestures vaguely. They both stand there awkwardly for a long moment, still staring at each other.

"Shall we get changed?" Stiles asks eventually and Derek nods. He closes the changing room door again, realising, as he glances in the mirror, that his face is bright red.

He changes out of the suit quickly and finds Derek waiting for him near the checkout, his own suit slung over his arm. As Stiles gets to him, Derek takes Stiles' suit from him and puts them both on the counter.

"I'll pay for mine," Stiles moves to grabs his suit but Derek bats his hand away.

"My family has a tradition," Derek says quietly, "we buy our dates' outfits for them."

"This isn't suggesting that I'm a woman in any way, right?" Derek raises an eyebrow, "not that I believe in outdated ideals about gender identity." Derek doesn't say anything but Stiles can see the smile threatening at the corner of his mouth, and just like that it feels like the tension from before has been lifted.

Derek pays for the suits. Stiles does try to put up another token resistance, but secretly he is kind of relieved. At least now he's not dipping into his savings to buy a suit he doesn't really need.

"Do you fancy some lunch?" Derek asks as they leave the store and look over at the busy food court. Stiles isn't exactly sure where Derek’s going with this; they’ve got their suits, obligation complete. He’s not going to suddenly decide not to go just because Derek doesn't feed him.

Honestly, Stiles is getting whiplash with Derek’s mood swings.

But, after all, they are going to be spending some of their prom night together so why not make it more bearable? Plus, food.

"Sure," Stiles says at last. "But we’re going to the chicken place."

"Okay," Derek grins at him, expression tinged with what looks like relief, although Stiles isn't sure why. "Chicken nuggets?"

"How did you know?"

"Lucky guess."

*

"So you went on a date with him?"

"It wasn't a date, Scott."

"What would you call it then?" Scott’s looking at him over his cheeseburger, ketchup dripping over his fingers.

"Shopping." He stabs a fry into some sauce, making a satisfying squelching noise.

"So buying you a coffee, your suit and twenty chicken nuggets doesn't count as taking you out on a date?"

"No," Stiles says defensively, “besides, I told you it was a family tradition!"

"Right." Scott clearly doesn't believe this but takes another huge bite of his burger.

"Anyway, he was probably just getting it out the way now," Stiles feels the need to justify, "so he doesn't have to do anything else before prom."

"Uh huh," Scott says, "so that explains why he’s on his way over now."

"What?" Stiles whips around, even though he’s convinced Scott’s fucking with him. But there’s Derek, walking toward their table, dinner tray in hand, Danny following behind him. "What's he doing?"

"It looks like he’s coming over here." Stiles turns to scowl at him, and by the time he looks back, Danny and Derek are upon them. Any hopes he has that they’re just passing to the next table are dashed when Derek’s tray is dropped next to his own.

"Hi," he says quietly as he sits down and Stiles forces a smile at him.

"Hi?" Stiles looks across at Scott who seems just as astonished as him.

"How did you find the test?"

"The test?" Stiles’ mind must be currently offline, because he’s having difficulty processing Derek’s words.

"The Math test? We just had?" He hears Danny snort.

"Right! The Math test. The one we just had." Derek’s looking at him expectantly. "It was good, fine! I mean it was fine." Derek’s grinning at him and yeah, Stiles didn't know he smiled this much.

"He did say they’re only gonna get harder."

"Yeah, so study hard!" He cringes as Derek laughs loudly. If he wasn't sat in the cafeteria he might have smacked himself in the face by now.

"Yeah, study hard." He looks back over the table where Danny and Scott are watching them. Scott looks kind of horrifyingly confused while Danny just looks bored.

Derek and Danny sit with them until the bell signals the end of lunch, Derek asking questions and looking ridiculously interested in Stiles’ answer. Jackson doesn't show and Stiles is glad for it. Derek might be okay but Jackson’s a whole other ball game.

"What the hell was that?" Scott asks as soon as they leave the cafeteria.

"Dunno," Stiles shrugs. "Maybe he wants to be friends?"

"Why this? Why now?"

"I dunno, but I thought you were all for promoting inter school relations."

"I am," Scott sighs, "but it's a bit weird don't you think? He gets your name and all of a sudden it's like you’re best buds."

"Don't worry, you’ll always be my best bro." Stiles slaps him on the shoulder but Scott doesn't look convinced.

"That's not what I’m-"

"I know, don't worry I can look out for myself. But thanks," he adds, "I've always wanted a big strong man to take care of me."

"You know I'm okay with you liking him, right?" Scott’s looking at him so earnestly and Stiles really didn't plan on having this conversation right now.

"Yeah I know." He’s pulled back suddenly as Scott grabs his arm and stops him.

"I mean, if you and Derek started dating, you know that would be cool."

"There will be no dating," Stiles hurries to correct him, "no dating for Stiles and Derek Hale, nope, definitely not."

"But if there was-"

"You will be the first to know," Stiles promises. "But it's not gonna happen." No matter how much he finds himself liking Derek’s company or watching him smile.

Definitely not.

*

If Stiles thought that Monday’s lunch date, even though it wasn't a date, with Derek Hale was an isolated event then he would be wrong.

Tuesday found Derek’s lunch tray next to his own even though he could see Jackson sitting at a table further down the hall. Wednesday and Thursday were the same, and pretty soon it’s was the norm for Derek to sit with them at lunch.

Sometimes with Danny, sometimes without, but always in the same spot next to Stiles. He doesn't talk much, but Stiles has been able to learn some things about him, like the fact that he has two sisters, one older and one younger, who love to tease him constantly, and an uncle who lives with them but who Derek thinks is creepy.

Scott keeps shooting them looks across the table everyday, but Stiles is determinedly ignoring him. No matter what he says, Derek isn't trying to date him and Stiles doesn't want him to.

But then Derek even starts walking with him to history after lunch on Thursday, ignoring Jackson’s questioning looks as they pass his table. They still sit in the same seats but Derek will turn around and look for Stiles if Reuben says something funny, as though to share the moment with him or to roll his eyes when they get landed with a two page essay due for tomorrow.

One week, at the end of October, Derek’s off with the flu, and Stiles is ashamed to find that he misses him. He keeps expecting him to sit by him at their usual table, or turns to laugh at something Scott’s just said, but he’s not there.

On the following Monday when Stiles is strolling down the corridor for his locker and spies Derek reaching into his own, Stiles has to restrain himself from tackling him right there and then, just to make sure he’s okay.

In reality he makes himself walk over, flushing slightly as he catches himself staring at Derek’s ass in those tight jeans. His eyes snap up as Derek turns round, definitely not focusing on the bulge in those tight- god oh so tight- jeans.

"Stiles," Derek says as he realises he’s standing there.

"Hi," He feels like his face is on fire, "how are you feeling?"

"Much better, thanks."

"I would have phoned to see how you were - not that I was worried or anything but you know how much I miss your grumpy face at lunch - but I didn't have a number and I don't know who your sisters are and-" he shuts up, realising how insane he probably looks now. But the look on Derek’s face isn't freaking out; he looks kind of touched.

"It was just the flu, but thanks for the concern." He takes his bag off and roots through it, pulling out a pen and a scrap of paper. He writes something on it quickly and hands it over to Stiles. "But if you want to check up on me again, here’s my number."

"Derek!" Derek turns as they hear Jackson shouting down the corridor and he smiles apologetically at Stiles. "I’ll see you at lunch?" Stiles nods, unable to find his words as Derek jogs after Jackson and Danny, and stares down at the messy scrawl of numbers on the paper, the name ’Derek’ across the top.

Maybe this situation is getting kind of out of hand.

*

Halloween is always a big deal at Beacon Hills. Too old for trick or treating, the students at the high school tend to throw numerous parties all over town which his dad will often come home berating. Stiles normally spends Halloween at Scott’s eating crappy food and watching all the R rated horror films they can get their hands on.

They’re discussing this at lunch the day before Halloween when Derek arrives.

"So, I've found this Japanese horror film that's supposed to be the scariest film ever made," Scott’s telling him, "at least, that's what it says on the box."

"Cool, I've got the complete Saw collection this year."

"You do realise that they’re gory?"

"It happened one time, all right?" Stiles throws at curly fry at Scott’s laughing face.

"What are you talking about?" Derek asks as he unwraps his sandwich.

"Just a couple of months ago, we found a dead deer in the woods and Stiles started throwing up everywhere." Scott tells him, even though Stiles is kicking his feet repeatedly under the table.

"Its guts were everywhere, okay?" He feels the need to justify. "I don't faint at blood, but that wasn't just blood."

"What were you doing in the woods in the first place?" Derek asks.

"There was a rumour that a girl’s body was missing in there." Stiles tells him. "We thought we could help."

"Got grounded for a week instead." Scott adds.

"Worth it though." Stiles grins.

"What are you doing for Halloween?” Derek asks him.

"Going to Scott’s for a movie night." Stiles shoves the last of his curly fries in, feels his cheeks bulging.

"Yeah, you should come too!" Scott says excitedly. Stiles chokes on his mouthful and Derek has to pat him on the back hard. He takes a deep shuddering breath as he swallows the mashed up potato and coughs loudly. Derek looks at him worriedly and he waves a hand to say he’s fine, even though his throat feels like it’s on fire.

"I’m good." He manages to croak out, taking large gulps of water. Derek’s still staring at him. "Seriously."

"So what do you say, Derek?" Scott asks again, ignoring the fact that Stiles almost died.

"I guess," Derek looks to Stiles for confirmation but he’s so not gonna be made to be the dick here. Fuck Scott.

"That’s great," Stiles says exaggeratedly, already thinking about how Scott’s not going to be the godfather to his first born. Serves him right.

*

"Why did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"You know what.” They’re walking home from school together. Just because he’s pissed at Scott doesn’t mean he wants to walk home alone.

"I thought you liked him?"

"I already told you that nothing's going on between us." He kicks a stone hard, watches it barrel off the curb.

"We can just hang out then," Scott’s tone indicates exactly what ’just hanging out’ will entail.

"I thought you were supposed to be supporting me in the ten year plan to make Lydia the next Mrs Stilinski,"

"I am supportive, but maybe it's time to give up on that plan and make a new one," Scott shrugs, "ten years is a long time."

"So you’re pushing Derek Hale instead?"

"I don't see what the big deal is, you like him and at least he talks to you which is more than Lydia does."

"I don't like him." Scott’s looking at him disbelievingly. "I don't."

"Sure." Scott starts talking about the lacrosse matches coming up next year, but Stiles isn't paying attention.

He doesn't like Derek; well not in a like like kind of way. Sure, he’s good looking but so is Jackson and Stiles wouldn't touch that for all the money in the world. But Derek’s a friend. That seems more like the word he should use to describe them.

Friends.

*

After school on Halloween sees Stiles pacing his bedroom floor, silently - or maybe not so silently- having a little freak out.

At lunch today, they’d arranged for Derek to pick Stiles up tonight so that he wouldn't get lost on the way to Scott’s. But now Stiles realises that he hasn't told Derek where he lives and the only option is to use the number Derek had given last week but has just sat in his phone like some imposing time bomb.

He flicks through to the number, stares at the name for a long moment before he pulls up a new conversation.

Stiles: Hey, just realised you don't have my address.

Stiles: It's Stiles btw.

It doesn't take long for a message to come back.

Derek: On my way. Be there in ten.

Be there in ten? He doesn't have the address and hasn't asked for it. Stiles shoves his phone in his pocket. Maybe it's because his dad’s the sheriff, even though he didn't think that would make their address public knowledge. But Beacon Hills is a small town after all, and there are those who make it their business to know everyone else’s. Not that Stiles would have pegged Derek for a gossip.

When a car horn beeps outside ten minutes later, Stiles honestly isn't sure whether he’s expecting it to be Derek or not. But there’s the familiar black camaro parked against the curb and Derek halfway up the driveway. He’s wearing a leather jacket that Stiles has never seen before and yeah, he’s seriously re-evaluating his take on leather.

Stiles is standing on the porch by the time Derek reaches the door and he really needs to work on his brain to mouth filter because the words are out before he can stop them.

"How did you know where I live?" Derek starts like he wasn't expecting that and there’s a brief flicker of hesitation before he answers.

"My mom," He says, "She’s the mayor.” He trails off but his family connections suddenly come rushing back to Stiles. Of course he knows Derek’s mom is the mayor, his dad certainly went on about her enough, but it’s in the way that the sky is blue or they have mac and cheese for dinner on a Wednesday. It was something that just was, but not something he really pays any attention to.

Which explains why he’s only just realising this about Derek now.

"Of course," he says loudly, half-laughing although it probably sounds kind of hysterical. Derek’s looking at him like he’s a tiny bit crazy and Stiles is starting to wonder whether that might be true.

"Shall we get going?" He asks, gesturing to his car on the curb.

"Yes!" Stiles grabs his bag from inside the door and shuts it behind him. "Lead the way."

Derek snorts quietly and sets off down the front yard, Stiles following, internal mantra in his head don’t look at his ass, don't look at his ass playing over and over. It's kind of successful.

"So, where does he live?" Derek asks as he starts the engine and the car rumbles to life.

"Over on Pine," Stiles tells him, "near the preserve." He kind of wonders how Derek seems to know his address but not Scott’s but shrugs it off. He probably asked his mom before he left

The drive to Scott’s is uneventful, despite the fact that Stiles can't seem to take his eyes off the way Derek’s fingers are curled loosely around the steering wheel, how they tap along to the beat of the cheesy song playing on the radio.

He doesn't bother knocking when they get there, slides the key he’s had made into the lock and finds Scott in the kitchen with Allison making popcorn.

"Stiles, Derek," she says as she catches sight of Derek in the doorway.

“Hi, Allison," Stiles says, watching the guilty expression on Scott’s face. "You here for the movie night?"

"Yeah, Scott invited me," she grabs the bowl of popcorn and heads for the lounge. "Derek, come and help me set up."

As soon as they’ve disappeared into the lounge, Stiles spins on Scott.

"That's why you wanted Derek here."

"It wasn't the only reason." Stiles looks at him disbelievingly. "Alright, so maybe it was part of the reason. She asked me what I was doing for Halloween, what was I supposed to say?"

"And the reason for Derek?"

"You always complain threes a crowd and you and Derek are at least friends now right?" Stiles doesn't quite like his choice of words. What the hell does ’at least friends’ mean anyway? "Now you’re not on your own."

"Thanks," he sounds sarcastic and he’s not sure why. He does get on with Derek, he admitted it to himself before, so why does the idea of Scott pushing him towards it feel wrong somehow? Unless it's the idea of realising he wants something, only to live with the constant fear of having it ripped away from him.

"Dude, I'm sorry-"

"Don’t worry about it," he forces a smile and grabs a bag of chips. "Let's get started."

The film Scott’s brought, a Japanese horror that forces Stiles behind a cushion more often than not, does little to diffuse the notion that this is like a double date. Derek’s sat next to him on one of the sofas and keeps bursting out in laughter every time something makes him jump.

Allison and Scott are curled up together on the other sofa and Stiles isn't really sure how much of the film they’ve been watching. They keep muttering quietly to each other and maybe Stiles is kind of glad for Derek because three may be a crowd, but this would have been like tagging along awkwardly to someone's first date.

By the time they’re putting the first Saw on, Scott and Allison have lost all pretence of watching the films and have gone upstairs.

Stiles is glad that at least one of them is getting some but this was definitely not how he pictured his night playing out.

"Bit obvious." Derek observes as they listen to them giggling up the stairs.

"Well Scott’s had a thing for her since the start of the year so..” he trails off but Derek nods.

"Do you still want to watch this? I mean, I can give you a lift home if you want?"

"No, it's cool," He quickly presses play before he can change his mind and the opening scene flashes on the TV. For some reason the mood seems different. It might be the low light of the TV casting shadows over the rest of the room, or the fact that it's only the two of them but it's a welcome relief when the film ends. He’s not sure how much of it he actually saw. "Well that was," he pauses, "an experience." Derek laughs.

"That's one way of putting it." He stands up, stretching his arms above his head, and Stiles can make out a thin sliver of skin in the gloom.

He swallows around the lump in his throat, glancing upwards to find Derek staring at him. The air feels full of tension, and he stands abruptly which only brings him closer to Derek.

"Sorry," He steps backwards, tripping over a throw and almost stumbles but Derek’s hand on his waist stops him. "Thanks."

"No problem." Derek’s voice is quiet but sounds deafening in the silence. Stiles gives a bark of laughter and backs away again, this time avoiding landing on his face. Derek’s hands fall away and Stiles thinks he sighs, but the DVD menu starts playing at the same time so he can't be sure.

"We should get going." Derek says as Stiles collects his things. He debates going to tell Scott but the giggling’s stopped now and he loves Scott okay, just not in that way, and he doesn't want to see his bro getting it on with his girlfriend or crush or whatever they are.

He shoots him a text instead as he closes the front door behind them and gets in the passenger seat.

"Sorry it was awkward tonight." Stiles says as Derek’s buckling up, "not that it was awkward because of you, it's just Scott trying to be helpful but he’s really not."

"What?"

"Forcing you into coming tonight. I know you probably had parties lined up or whatever." Stiles shrugs, fiddling with his phone.

"He didn't force me," Derek says, "I had a good time tonight."

"Oh," Stiles doesn't know what to say, "it seems easier to talk to you at lunch."

"Why?"

"I don't know," and he doesn't. For some reason the words flow freely there but here he feels wrong footed all the time.

Derek doesn't say anything as he starts the car and Stiles doesn't know if he’s said the wrong thing.

"Sorry," he feels like he’s apologising a lot tonight and he’s not sure why this time.

"Don't worry about it," But his tone suggests otherwise. Neither of them say anything on the trip back to Stiles’ house.

As they pull up outside, Stiles struggles to think of something to say but draws a blank. In the end he settles on "see you at school" and jumps out of the car before Derek can say anything else.

He locks the front door and takes the stairs two at a time to his room. As he collapses on his bed, he can't help thinking that tonight might be the last time Derek hangs out with them again.

And he doesn't know how to feel about that.

*

By the time lunch rolls around, Stiles has resigned himself to the fact that Derek is not going to be eating with them again. He’s told Scott what happened, repeatedly told him it doesn't matter, even though he’s not sure how much he believes that himself.

So it comes as a surprise to both of them when Derek’s tray is put down next to his as normal. Derek sits down and Scott pauses mid sentence until Derek glances up at him and he kind of flails for a moment before carrying on.

"I was thinking we could tryout."

"No." He manages at the same time as Derek asks, "for what?"

"Lacrosse," Scott tells him, ignoring Stiles. He pauses for a moment, seeming to realise something. "Hey, you’re on the team."

"Yeah,"

"Hey, maybe you could give us some pointers. You know, to better our chances." Scott’s leaning across this table at this point, looking pleadingly at Derek.

"Scott, no-"

"Sure," Stiles looks at Derek in shock as Scott crows with joy.

"Cheers, man," Scott tells him. "Tryouts are next week."

The rest of lunch is spent going over the Beacon Hills Lacrosse team, detailing who does what and giving Scott ideas on how not to suck. Not, Stiles thinks, that it's going to make much difference. At least the prom idea had come without physical pain.

The rest of the week follows in a similar vein. Stiles feels sidelined as they talk tactics but whenever they try to draw him into the conversation he doesn't talk for long. He’s hoping that Scott’s going to drop this stupid idea soon and joining in would only be encouraging it.

By the time the day of the tryouts dawns, Scott’s still pushing ahead with this plan and, like a fool, Stiles finds himself standing next to him waiting to try out.

“All right, I wanna see you all lap the field," Coach blows his whistle, "move, move!" Stiles groans loudly as he sets off after Scott, jogging to the edge of the pitch. "Faster! I’ve seen my cat run faster this, and she’s only got two legs!"

His lungs feel like they’re on fire as people run past him and his legs feels like they’re gonna collapse. Scott’s not fairing much better; he’s gasping for breath and Stiles fumbles in his pocket. He pulls out the inhaler and hands it over.

"Try not to die," He pants as Scott takes two heaving breaths. They can hear Allison shouting encouragement from the stands and it seems to spur Scott into running faster, until Stiles can't keep up anymore.

"Stupid idea, why do I listen to his ideas, they always suck." He’s only halfway round the field and most people seem to be on their second lap. "'It’s a great way to be popular, get the girl.’ What about Stiles, eh?"

"You know, the first sign of madness is talking to yourself." He starts slightly as Derek runs alongside him, looking refreshingly cool in his tank top and shorts.

"Fuck you," There’s no sting to it and Derek knows by the way he grins.

"Come on, you can move faster than this." But he doesn't make any attempt to speed up and leave Stiles on his own.

"I'm dying, go on without me." He feels sick and his feet start stumbling. He almost cries in happiness when Coach blows the whistle and gestures to them to gather round.

“All right we’re gonna try shots. Danny, take goal." Danny jogs over and stands in front of the net. “Right, team first, show ’em how it's done." Jackson starts, running down the pitch. He jumps high, the ball flying through the air and landing at the back of the net. "That's what I'm talking about."

The rest of the team take a shot at the goal. When it comes to Derek’s turn, Stiles watches with a lump in his throat as he takes the shot. The ball sails high, landing neatly in the corner of the net, and Stiles is letting out a whoop of joy before he can stop himself.

"Bilinski, you’re up!" Stiles looks round before he realises that Coach is looking at him.

"Me?"

"You," he pauses, looking down at his clipboard again, "Bilinski?"

"Yes?" Coach gestures to Danny standing in goal.

"Take a shot." He tosses the ball and Stiles flails to catch it in his net. He stares down at Danny who’s looking relaxed, smiling encouragingly.

"Come on, Bilinski!" Jackson yells, laughing loudly. Stiles ignores him, sets off in a jog down the pitch. As he gets close he tries to jump, like he’d seen the others do, but instead slides in the mud and lands on his back hard. The ball falls the ground beside him.

He can hear the others falling about laughing as he lies there staring up at the cloudy afternoon sky. A hand hovers in front of the view and Stiles realises it's Derek’s. He grabs it and Derek pulls him to his feet.

"Thanks." He mutters. Derek nods but doesn't say anything as Coach appears.

"Bilinski, what was that?"

"Improvisation?" Stiles tries. Coach looks like he’s about to say something but shakes his head instead.

"Right, Greenberg, you’re up."

The rest of the tryout seems to pass quickly after that. Coach doesn't ask him to take another shot, and for that Stiles is grateful. Scott takes a shot and, to both their surprise, manages to slip it past Danny to land in the net. Stiles yells along with Allison as Scott high fives him, grinning widely.

"The list will go up tomorrow." Coach tells them as they’re finishing up. Stiles feels like every muscle is aching and one of his fingers may be broken but he’s not sure.

"That was great!" Scott’s breathing heavily as he slaps Stiles on the back, and Stiles can't help groaning in pain.

"Sure," He mutters as Scott takes another deep puff of his inhaler.

"Where do you think we’ll place?"

"On the bench, hopefully." He winces as Scott punches him in the arm. "Dude, less of the violence."

"Sorry." They head for the locker rooms which are almost empty by the time they get there. Surely it hadn't taken them that long to walk across the field? Although Stiles had collapsed at the end, that might explain it. "It was nice of Derek to shut Jackson up though."

"What?" Stiles grabs his towel and heads for the shower.

"When you took your shot. Jackson started laughing and Derek told him to cut it out."

"Oh." Stiles hadn't realised when he was lying on the ground.

"Yeah, and his tactics were good. That's what helped me score that goal." Scott’s chatting away about his tryout and Stiles is listening along halfheartedly.

He hears him mention Allison and some lacrosse move he’s never heard of before while he thinks about just what the hell is going on with Derek Hale.

*

Scott makes the team. Both of them are surprised to see his name sitting amongst the likes of Danny, Derek and Jackson, while Stiles is just relieved that his has been confined to the bench.

*

The week before Thanksgiving, Stiles is sitting in History, doodling on his notepad, when Reuben announces to the class that they’re going to pair up for a project on the American Civil War that's due in by the start of spring break.

He immediately turns to Scott who’s already looking at him apologetically as Allison talks excitedly about their topic. Stiles offers him a weak smile and looks over at Derek, expecting to find him already paired up with Jackson or Danny.

To his surprise, Derek is staring back at him and when he sees Stiles looking at him, offers him a small smile.

"Fancy partnering up?" He asks and Stiles nods quickly. The only other option is Greenburg and last time that happened, Stiles ended up writing an essay about the snail’s reproductive system.

The bell chimes, signalling the end of lesson, Stiles grabs his books, meeting Derek in the doorway.

"Shall we start after Thanksgiving?" Derek asks as they head for final period. "I'm going away for the weekend."

"Sure," Stiles replies easily, "we could go to the library-"

"Or you could come to mine?" Derek interrupts. "My dad has loads of books on the civil war. He’s kind of a buff."

"That would great," Stiles says excitedly.

"Cool."

"You coming, Derek?" Danny and Jackson are waiting for Derek. He smiles apologetically at Stiles.

"I'll see you later?" Stiles smiles and nods and Derek jogs to catch up with the others.

It's only as Stiles turns to head to his own class and sees Lydia coming out of History with Isaac that he realises he didn't even consider her as a study partner.

*

Thanksgiving is always a quiet affair in the Stilinski household and this year is no different. Scott and Melissa come over for lunch but apart from that it’s just the two of them when his dad’s not at work.

Stiles hates the holiday season. Thanksgiving may not be as bad as Christmas but he’s actually relieved when he gets back into school on Monday morning.

Of course, it's then that he realises he’s going to Derek Hale’s house tonight.

*

By the time 3pm rolls around, Stiles is nervously waiting by the steps, filled with the irrational fear that Derek’s not going to show. He doesn't know why when Derek came to their crappy Halloween soirée and is still talking to him, but he can't help his sigh of relief when he spies Derek strolling towards him, an easy smile on his face.

"Hi," Stiles breathes as Derek gets close. "You still on for tonight?" He doesn't know why he’s asking this when Derek had already told him at lunch.

"Yep." Derek agrees, the P popping from his lips. "You ready?" Stiles nods and they head over to where Derek’s Camaro is parked.

The drive to Derek's takes longer than expected. Stiles has never given serious thought to where Derek lives, but now that he’s thinking about it, he realises he has no clue.

They drive out of town, towards the edges of the preserve, until trees are lining both sides. Stiles watches as they get further away from Beacon Hills, slightly worried that Derek’s actually a homicidal maniac and he’s taking him off to middle of nowhere to kill him. The Camaro has a massive trunk after all.

But, with that, Derek turns down a small driveway, the bumps jolting the car from side to side slightly, until it opens out to a large clearing and an impressive house comes into view.

Impressive might be a bit of an understatement.

The house is huge. Bigger than anything Stiles has seen in Beacon Hills. He didn't even think there were houses this far out in the preserve.

"Wow." The word escapes his gaping mouth as he stares up at the house, unable to think of anything else to say. He feels Derek reach over and gently close his mouth, the touch burning where his fingertips brush against his skin.

He pulls back sharply, but Derek just smiles at him.

"You’re catching flies." He gets out the car before Stiles can say anything and he hurries to follow him.

The porch is littered with an array of wellies and boots of different colours and Stiles can make out the sound of children screaming happily inside.

Derek pauses with his hand on the door.

"It might be a bit," he hesitates, "chaotic in here." He pushes open the door and two small girls fly through the hallway, chasing a small black terrier into what looks like the lounge. Stiles can hear them squealing as a man’s voice lets off a roar, and the next minute a tall dark haired man walks into the hallway, a girl under each arm.

"Derek," the man grins at him and Stiles knows who this is before Derek says anything.

"Hi dad." Derek drops his bag by the door. "This is Stiles." Derek’s dad looks at him.

“Stiles; that's an odd name." Derek snorts.

"Says you."

"I'll have you know that it's a family name. You should be distraught you were named after your mother’s family."

"Devastated." The girls start to fidget in his hold and Derek’s dad puts them down, watching as they run off laughing. He turns back to Stiles.

"You staying for dinner?"

"I-"

"Yeah he is." Derek replies before Stiles can say anything else. "We’re doing that civil war project. Come on, Stiles, I’ll show you my room." Stiles hears Derek’s dad snort as he disappears after the two girls.

Derek’s room is nothing like he imagined, and yet when he looks at it he thinks it suits him. It's beige, the bed a chocolate brown and a large bay window bathes the room in the afternoon sunlight.

"Sorry about my dad," Derek says as he drops on the bed. "He has a weird sense of humour."

"I got that." Stiles perches on Derek’s desk chair, not looking at the way Derek’s shirt has ridden up his stomach as he flops on the bed. "Who are the girls?"

"My uncle Peter’s kids." Derek groans as he sits up and reaches for a book off his bedside table. "You’ll meet everyone at dinner."

"Oh." Stiles is starting to feel a little overwhelmed. It's not that he’s uncomfortable in large crowds, it's just that he’s so used to it being just him and his dad. It's a weird idea that he’s met three of Derek’s family already, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

"So, what shall we do for our project?"

They spend the next hour discussing the economic impact of the civil war until someone shouts Derek for dinner.

"Hope you like pasta," Derek says as they head downstairs. "Although Nora’s cooking so I won't blame you if you don't."

"Very funny." A girl a couple of years younger than them is putting plates on the table as they walk in the dining room. "Who’s this?"

"Manners, Nora." An older woman, who must be Derek’s mom judging by the resemblance and the fact that he’s seen her pamphlets as Mayor, follows them in. "Talia Hale." She says, offering her hand.

"Stiles Stilinski." He says politely, shaking her hand.

"Stiles?" Stiles looks across at Nora to see her grinning widely at Derek. "I didn't know you were coming for dinner." Yeah, Stiles doesn't like the emphasis she’s placed on you.

"Well now you do." Derek tells abruptly, seemingly not liking it either. Nora looks like she’s about to say something else when her mother interrupts.

"Nora, maybe you could finish serving?" Nora sighs, but doesn't argue and disappears back in the kitchen.

"Sorry about that," Derek mutters as they take a seat next to each other at the table. "She’s a douche."

"Derek." His mom reprimands.

"She is." He whispers to Stiles this time.

Dinner at Derek's house is completely different to the Stilinski household. For a start there’s more than one person there. Recently it seems like his dad’s always working, and Stiles hasn't realised just how much he missed him until he sits down with Derek’s family.

The second thing is that it's noisy. There's at least ten people around the table, and that's last time Stiles counted, and he’s having a hard time keeping track of them all. The only ones he’s sure of are Derek’s parents and his two sisters. Nora keeps shooting them weird looks across the table, more directed at Derek than Stiles, and Derek’s other sister, Laura, has spent most of dinner on her phone.

"So, Stiles," Nora seems to judge it’s safe to talk to him. "Derek said you’re on the lacrosse team."

"On the bench." Stiles corrects. "My friend, Scott, made the team."

"Nora." Derek growls.

"What?" Nora gives him an innocent look. "I'm just asking questions, I'm allowed to do that. Besides," she grins, "it's the first time you’ve brought someone home to meet the parents."

"Mom!" Derek’s face is flushed and Stiles is sure his own isn't fairing much better.

"Nora, stop it." His mom says. Nora doesn't say anything else but shoots Stiles a wicked grin.

Chocolate cake follows the pasta and Stiles inhales a large chunk of it.

"I’d better get going," He tells Derek as he glances up at the clock. It's after eight; his dad’s bound to be home by now.

"Sure," Derek says easily. "I'll just grab my coat." The rest of the dining room is empty, aside from Laura who’s still messing on her phone. Stiles sits at the table while he waits, listening to the tapping sounds Laura’s phone’s making.

"Nora’s right, you know?" He looks up to find Laura’s paused in her texting and is staring at him.

"What?"

"That he’s never brought anyone home before," She starts texting again. "He likes you."

"It's not like that." Stiles tries to correct her. "We’re just friends."

"Uh huh." She nods disinterestedly as Derek comes back in, that leather jacket wrapped around his shoulders in the best way.

"Ready to go?" He asks, keys jangling in his hand.

"Yep." He gets up and looks back at Laura briefly. "It was nice to meet you."

"And you," she glances up, flashes him a wide smile and Stiles is surprised by how much she looks like Derek. "See you soon."

Derek doesn't say anything until they’re in the car and driving back into town.

"I'm sorry about that," Derek says, "it's their way of showing they care."

"Don't worry about it." Stiles tells him. There seems to be this awkward tension in the car as Stiles keeps replaying Nora’s words in his head. The first time Derek’s ever brought someone home? He’s too good friends with Jackson and Danny for Stiles to believe they’ve never been to his house so what does that leave? A girlfriend? Boyfriend?

Were Derek’s family looking at him like he’s Derek’s boyfriend?

"Maybe we can study at the library next time?" Derek offers.

"Or my house," Stiles forces a laugh. "Seriously, it was fine." Derek’s face suggests that he doesn't believe him but they’re pulling up outside his house and Stiles is glad. There’s too many things going on in his head right now and he just needs to sort it out. And maybe some adderall.

"Sorry, again." Derek says as he stops the car.

"Thanks for dinner," Stiles unbuckles and opens the door. "Maybe we could do it at mine on Friday?" He realises how that might sound, particularly considering his previous thoughts. "I meant-"

"I know what you meant." But Derek’s blushing as well.

"See you tomorrow?" Derek nods and Stiles gets out the car. He pauses with the door open, trying to think of something that will put things back to where they were but gives up and closes it.

Derek’s gone by the time he’s on the porch, and for that he’s grateful. What’s he supposed to say to someone who’s family may or may not be assuming that they’re dating? And if he’s read the whole thing wrong, then Derek’s Jackson’s friend so there’s no way in hell he won't hear about it.

"Stiles, that you?" His dad’s voice is coming from the kitchen. Stiles finds him at the table, case file spread out in front of him.

"Have you eaten?" The kitchen seems eerily quiet after the chaos of Derek’s house.

"Yeah, where have you been?"

"Just at a friend’s. We’re doing a history project." His dad takes off his glasses.

"Does this friend have a name?"

"Derek." His dad looks like he’s running through a list of all the Dereks he knows.

"Derek Hale?"

"The one and only." He turns, about to go upstairs, when his dad’s words stop him.

"Not a bad choice." He knows he’s going to regret asking, but does anyway.

"Bad choice?"

"You know, boyfriend material."

*

The following weeks are surprisingly awkward between Stiles and Derek. Not surprising in the way that both their families seem to think they’re dating, but surprising in the lengths they seem to be going to try and make it not awkward.

Only it's having the opposite effect.

Derek comes to Stiles’ house to do some more work on their project and, for some reason, his dad has finished work early and keeps making significant looks between the two of them. He’s already asked Derek what his intentions are for after school while Stiles blushed furiously, trying to get his dad to shut up.

By the time Christmas approaches, they seem to be dodging the massive white elephant in the room. Well, to Stiles it seems like that anyway.

Derek still sits with them everyday for lunch and they’re still studying together. Plus Derek’s started bringing those amazing coffees with him and Stiles is never gonna turn those down; like ever.

On the last day of term Stiles enters the cafeteria, decorated in the usual garish Christmas decorations, to see Derek already sitting with Scott, and a suspicious-looking item in front of the seat he usually takes.

As he gets closer, Stiles realises with a start that it's a present, wrapped in cartoon Santas that are loudly proclaiming ’HO HO' in giant speech bubbles. He looks at Scott in question, but he just shrugs.

"Not me."

"It's from me," Derek says before Stiles can ask. "Well, my mom."

"What is it?"

"That's not the idea of a present," Derek grins at him. Stiles sits down slowly, staring at the wrapped packaging like it’s about to explode.

"I got one too," Scott pulls a wrapped package out of his bag.

"You got Scott a present too?" Stiles asks.

"My mom," Derek corrects, but he doesn't look at him.

"Thank you?" He says hesitantly, but it seems like the right thing to say because Derek’s still grinning at him.

"No problem." He stands up then. "See you later."

"You’re leaving?" Stiles looks at him in surprise. Never, in all the time that he’s been sitting with them, has Derek left this early.

"Yeah, I'm meeting Jackson," Derek grabs his bag. "Bye." He takes off before Stiles can say anything else. He watches as he meets Jackson at the door and they disappear.

"That was weird," Stiles looks down at the present, picks it up and listens to the paper crinkling. It's pretty light and when he shakes it something rattles loudly. He hopes it's not fragile.

Scott’s already ripped the paper off his present.

"A lacrosse ball?" He says indignantly.

"Maybe he thinks you need more practice?" Stiles sniggers. Scott threatens to throw it at him. "Sorry." Scott tosses the ball in the air, fumbles to catch it and has to duck under the table when it rolls away. "He would have a point though."

"What's yours then?" Stiles looks down at his own present but, for some reason, he’s reluctant to open it. "Go on, open it."

The bell rings at that moment and Stiles is saved from answering. He stuffs the present in his bag as they head for next period.

*

Christmas was always Claudia Stilinski’s favourite time of the year. It also means that it's the time of year when Stiles feels her loss the most.

His dad tends to bury his head in paperwork and Stiles is left to deal with their loss on his own. He knows it's not the best way of coping but neither of them are good at talking about things, especially his mom, and they haven't talked about it since she died nine years ago.

Even his dad can’t hide away on Christmas Day, though, but they’re both subdued, and it's not until the evening that Stiles remembers he has presents under the tree.

The first is from Scott, a limited edition of an X Men comic he’s been after for forever. There’s a box of candy from his grandparents in Oregon and a new computer game from his dad.

It's as he’s collecting up the wrapping paper that he remembers the present from Derek still lying in his bag upstairs. He goes to grab it, shakes the packaging to hear the loud shaking noise again. For some reason he pulls the paper off slower this time, slides his fingernail under the tape carefully, gently pulls the paper apart.

The package contains two boxes. He opens the bigger one first and is speechless when he sees there’s a baseball inside, the familiar Mets logo emblazoned on its curved surface. As he takes it out of the box, he sees that there are signatures scrawled across its surface from what looks like everyone on the Mets team.

He holds it gingerly in his hand, lightly tracing the names of Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, amongst all of his favourite players.

He stares at the ball for a long time, unable to believe what he’s holding in his hand.

Eventually, he remembers the second box. He puts the ball back in the box carefully and turns to the smaller one.

This one doesn't make a sound when he shakes it and as he lifts off the lid, he realises what it is.

Nestled in white tissue paper is a pale blue buttonhole.

*

"He got you what?"

"Focus, dude, don't make this easier than it already is." Scott swears loudly as Stiles takes him out with a single shot. He throws down the controller angrily.

"He got you a signed Mets baseball?"

"Yeah," Stiles puts down his own controller, "and a buttonhole for prom."

"And you still think it’s just friends?" Scott’s looking at him like he’s an idiot.

"Yes?" Stiles says reluctantly. "What's the alternative? The hot lacrosse player dates the nerdy gamer?"

"So you do like him!" Scott sounds ecstatic by his slip up. "How is this any different to Lydia, anyway?"

"I-" The thing is Stiles doesn't know how it's different. But somehow a relationship with Derek scares him more than one with Lydia. "What if it's a joke?"

"Yeah, because when I'm playing jokes on people I get them signed Mets stuff." Scott snorts as he starts a new game.

"You know who his friends are. Jackson Whittemore ring any bells?"

"Jackson’s been looking just as confused as you." Scott tells him. "If this is a joke, it's the most elaborate one I’ve ever seen. Now come on, I’m gonna beat you this time."

Stiles picks up his own controller, wondering if Scott’s right. Maybe his hesitance says more about his own feelings about Derek.

*

He spends New Year on the garage roof with Scott, watching the neighbours setting off fireworks while they share a bottle of bourbon pilfered from his dad’s cupboard.

*

School starts before Stiles is ready to see Derek again. He’s behaving like an idiot but now that he’s willing to admit his attraction to Derek, it's making the whole situation seem more real.

Derek’s waiting for him outside school on the first day back. Stiles was really hoping he’d have more time to prepare for this.

"Hi," Derek says as Stiles reaches him. He looks nervous for some reason. "Good Christmas?"

"It was okay." Derek’s eyes widen.

"Sorry I forgot! I didn't mean-" Stiles realises that Derek knows. About his mom. He stops him before he can give off the usual spiel.

"Thanks for my present."

"No problem," Derek pauses, "did you like it?" God, he sounds so nervous. And that's when it hits Stiles. He’s nervous for his reaction.

"It was incredible." Derek’s face breaks into a wide grin and, whoa, Stiles is not prepared for how that makes his gut tighten.

"Glad you liked it."

"How did you get it?" Stiles has been dying to know.

"My uncle’s the coach. Not Peter." He says before Stiles can ask. "One of my dad’s brothers."

"Thank you," He says again. "I didn't get you anything."

"Don't worry about it." He turns to head into school but Stiles grabs his wrist and stops him. Before he can stop himself, before he can think, he takes a deep breath and leans forward, pressing his lips against Derek’s.

He’s not sure how long they stand there, lips pressed together, not moving. Stiles’ hand’s like a death grip on Derek’s wrist, but he’s not pulling away.

Eventually, the catcalls reach his ears and he pulls back quickly, feeling hot all over. He looks up at Derek’s flushed grinning face, and can feel a matching one on his own.

"Keep it PG!" Stiles looks round and spies Allison and Scott watching them from the parking lot, but it's Coach who’s shouting. "I'm still too young to be this emotionally scarred for life."

"Sorry, Coach." Derek says but doesn't take his eyes off Stiles.

"Sorry?" Stiles tries and Derek laughs. He leans forward, wrapping his arm around Stiles’ waist to drag him closer. "People are staring-"

"So?" Derek leans forward and kisses him. Stiles smiles and Derek takes the opportunity to lick across his lips, dragging his tongue along Stiles’ teeth until he gets the hint.

For his first kiss it's glorious, if a little uncoordinated. It's sloppy and he probably uses too much tongue but Derek doesn't seem to care. By the time they break apart, Stiles’ lips feel raw after being dragged across Derek’s stubbly cheek and he licks them unconsciously, watching as Derek tracks his tongue.

"We should get to class." His voice sounds hoarse and he clears his throat.

"Yeah." But he doesn't make a move. The bell chimes and Stiles leaps back with a start.

"Right, so I’ll see you at lunch?" Derek nods and Stiles takes off towards where Scott and Allison are walking to class.

"Scott!" Scott turns, grinning when he realises who’s shouting him.

"Look at you, man! Where did that come from?"

"I have no idea. One minute we were talking and then I don't even know." Scott slaps him on the back.

"Well done, bro. It's only taken you four months. Four long, painful months of listening to you mope." Stiles pushes him hard.

"Fuck you, man. I haven't been moping."

"Course not." Even Allison’s grinning at him.

"Thanks for the support." He grumbles as they reach their home room.

"No problem." Scott’s still grinning at him and Stiles can't help smiling back, an almost euphoric feeling building in his chest as he remembers the kiss. It was a stupid decision, but one that paid off in the best way. Stiles doesn't know what’s going on between the two of them now, but it feels like the tension that had been building between them for so long has been released.

*

January turns into February and things with Derek only seem to be getting better. Lunch time, after school, they always seem to be together, either at Derek’s or lying side by side on his bed.

Sometimes they study for their History project, but most of the time they spend chatting or making out, lips swollen and hickeys left just below their collars.

Scott’s treating their relationship like it’s the best thing since he found Allison, even though they haven't used the R word to describe what's going on between them yet. But Stiles can't help but be swept along in the excitement, in the amazing way he feels when he’s with Derek. He’s shocked, one day at the beginning of February, when he realises he hasn't even thought about Lydia since before Christmas.

Instead, he warms the bench at lacrosse matches, cheering proudly when Derek scores a goal and Jackson jumps on his back in celebration. He gets into debates with Nora about how Wonder Woman is clearly superior to Batgirl in every way while Derek looks on in amusement. He takes Derek to the spot at the bottom of the back yard where he’s always felt safest, the place he always went to when his mom’s death got too much for him. It's behind the large bushes which hide the fence at the back, and the leaves provide a canopy which light up in beautiful hues in the sunlight.

Derek introduces him to all of his family again and Stiles struggles to remember all of their names. He even hangs out with Jackson and Danny, finds out that Danny has an amazing sense of humour but Jackson is still a douche.

By the time oversized hearts and bright pink balloons start littering the hallways, Stiles is finally starting to think that maybe what he and Derek have is more than just friends who make out from time to time. He finds himself eyeing the bears in Walmart clutching little bouquets of colourful flowers, or hearts, or little messages sewn into their t-shirts and wonders which one he would get Derek. Whether they’re at that stage to do things like this.

Eventually, he decides on a small cuddly wolf wearing a bright red shirt proclaiming that 'You are packed full of love’. When he tells Scott he just laughs.

"What about the 40" TV or the priceless watch?"

"What are you talking about?" Stiles puts the wolf into a gift bag and pours confetti on top.

"You’re normally one for big shows of affection." Scott hands him a chocolate, heart shaped lollipop and Stiles adds it to the bag.

"Didn't feel right,” Stiles mutters. "What?" He asks when he notices Scott grinning at him.

"Nothing," Scott says but he doesn't stop grinning. Stiles ignores him as he adds a pink bow to hold the gift bag closed.

"What did you get Allison?"

"A necklace," Scott says proudly. "It's got an arrow on, you know, for her archery."

"Is that supposed to have a double meaning?" Stiles asks, "for like arrow through the heart as well?"

"Yeah!" Scott looks like he hasn't thought about this before. "That's great."

"I know." Stiles laughs.

*

When it comes to actually giving the present, Stiles finds that he’s nervous.

Like really, really nervous.

It's a school day so he arrives at the front entrance, clutching the sparkling gift bag like it's the key to his survival. He can see others holding brightly wrapped packages but it doesn't do much to alleviate his nerves.

It's a relief when he reaches his locker and shoves the gift bag inside quickly. He can just take it home with him, that's cool, it's not like Derek’s bought him anything and it's just a stupid cuddly toy anyway.

"Boo."

He shoots about ten foot in the air, spins sharply and falls back against the lockers.

"Jesus Christ." Derek’s stood in front of him, laughing loudly as Stiles struggles to get his breathing back under control, trying to calm his heart hammering away in his chest. "Asshole." Derek just grins at him.

"Happy Valentine’s Day." Derek says brightly.

"Yeah, same." Stiles says awkwardly, but Derek doesn't look bothered. He pulls his hands from behind his back and Stiles sees he’s holding something wrapped in bright red wrapping paper. Derek catches him staring and holds it out. "Wh- that’s for me?" Derek rolls his eyes.

"Nope, it's for the other guy I was kissing in my car yesterday." Stiles can't help blushing as he accepts the present.

"Thanks." Derek gestures to him to unwrap it, and he does, slowly, peeling off the tape carefully. Derek’s bouncing on the balls of his feet but he doesn't say anything or try to rush him.

As the paper falls away, Stiles can see that it's a clear plastic cylinder, and as the last of the paper is pulled back, he sees that it contains a bright red rose, the petals still glistening with drops of water.

"It’s-" Stiles doesn't know what to say as he holds the rose in his hands. "Thank you."

"You’re welcome." Derek leans forward, kissing him softly. Every time they kiss, Stiles thinks that this will be the one that just seems normal, mundane almost, but every time he’s proven wrong.

He licks his lips as Derek pulls back, chasing his taste.

"Oh!" He suddenly remembers the gift stuffed in the back of his locker. He spins around, almost taking Derek’s eye out with the plastic packaging, and unlocks his locker. The gift bag sticks out brightly against the plain text books and he hands it over quickly. "Here. Happy Valentines Day."

"Thanks," Derek takes the bag and undoes the pink ribbon. He wraps it around his fingers before he opens the bag. "I love it."

"You don't have to say that." Stiles watches as Derek pulls the cuddly wolf out and reads the message.

"I'm not," Derek grins at him, "I do love it." He leans forward and kisses him again. "Thank you."

"No problem." Stiles smiles back at him, ridiculously glad that he bought the toy. "We still on for later?”

"Of course." The bell sounds loudly. "I'll see you in History." He kisses Stiles one last time and walks down the corridor. As he gets to the end, he turns back and waves before he disappears around the corner.

"You’re in deep, man." Scott’s voice comes from behind him.

"Shut up."

*

Spring break comes by surprisingly quickly. On the last day of term, Stiles and Derek hand in their History project on the economic impact of the civil war. Stiles found that they worked surprisingly well together, excluding the long breaks where they tended to make out on Derek’s bed or Stiles’ sofa.

*

Stiles’ birthday falls during spring break this year. Scott’s there early, new COD game in hand and two pizza boxes.

"Dude, it’s ten in the morning." Stiles tells him, gesturing to the boxes.

"So? It's not like you turn eighteen every day." Scott pushes past him and starts setting up the Xbox in the lounge. "You finally decided to catch up after all."

"We can't all be born in September," Stiles grumbles as he pulls a pizza box towards him and grabs a slice.

"So you’re legal now," Scott muses, tossing a controller at him. "No more jailbait fondlings."

"We haven't done anything like that," His phone vibrates, but it's just a text from his dad. "Besides, how do you know Derek’s not still jailbait?"

"Derek’s a Christmas baby, quite literally. Don't you remember all the jokes and stuff in elementary?"

"No?"

"You know, for someone so intelligent you’re kinda stupid." Stiles throws a cushion at him.

"So I missed his birthday and I didn't give him a Christmas present?" He actually feels a bit shit about it.

"Dude! You weren't even together then. I'm sure he doesn't mind."

"Not that we’re actually together now." Scott scowls at him.

"He gave you a rose for Valentine’s Day. You are together." Stiles doesn't say anything to that.

*

It's after four when Scott puts down his controller and stands, stretching loudly.

"I better get going." He yawns.

"Thanks for coming round." Stiles collects the empty pizza boxes and soda cans for the trash.

"Hey, it's not everyday your best bro turns 18. That’s gotta be celebrated." He grabs the keys for his mom’s car. "Now, I'm going to help Allison choose her prom dress."

"Pretty late, aren't you?" Stiles asks. "Isn't that something she’s supposed to do with her prom date?"

"Not all of us can have our boyfriends as their prom date," Scott tells him, "and she wanted my opinion on a dress she likes." Stiles thinks about the suit hanging up behind his bedroom door, buttonhole already pinned to his jacket. "I'll see you later."

Stiles dumps the rubbish in the trash and heads for his room. His dad doesn't finish work until seven and they’re going for steaks like they always do.

He’s just switched on his laptop and is waiting for it to load when the doorbell rings. It’s probably just Scott forgetting something Stiles thinks as he jogs down the stairs. But when he pulls open the front door, it's not Scott stood there.

It's Derek.

"Wh-Hi," Stiles says in surprise. Derek grins and holds up a present.

"Happy Birthday." He says brightly.

"Thank you," Stiles hesitates. "Do you want to come in?"

"Sure," Derek steps past him. "Shall we go to your room?"

"Uh, yeah." Stiles can't understand why he feels so nervous. Derek’s been in his room loads of times when they were studying, it's not like it's something untoward. But, for some reason, maybe it's the day and its meaning, Derek’s presence seems more important.

Derek takes the stairs two at a time and by the time Stiles catches up with him, he’s sprawled out on Stiles’ bed.

"How did you know it was today?" Stiles asks as he sits down next to him and Derek pulls him backwards.

"Your dad," Derek lies over him, bends down and kisses him softly. "Happy birthday."

"I feel like shit that I didn't get you anything for yours." Stiles tells him.

"Well we weren't together then." And there it is, the big white elephant that's been looming, as far as Stiles is concerned, over them for far too long now.

"And we are now?" He asks in what he hopes is an offhand kind of way, but from how Derek’s looking at him it probably wasn't that successful.

"Do you want us to be?" He does, but he’s kinda terrified that it’s one-sided, that Derek’s just messing with him and Jackson’s hiding in the closet, waiting to jump out with a camera, yelling that he’s been punk’d or something.

Derek’s still staring at him, waiting for his answer but there's no sign of impatience or anything other than mild curiosity, and that's what prompts Stiles to answer.

"Yeah?" It sounds more like a question than an answer, but Derek takes it as one. His smile is blinding as he rolls completely on top of Stiles and kisses him hard, sloppily, dragging his tongue against Stiles’.

"Thank God," The words are mumbled against his lips, almost like he’s not supposed to hear them but Derek can't keep them in. He’s touching Stiles everywhere; his hands are sliding up and down Stiles’ sides, touching bare skin where his shirt has ridden up and he can't seem to stop kissing him.

For his own part, Stiles’ hands aren't exactly idle. He vaguely notes that his hands have found their way under Derek’s shirt, nails biting into his back, and their legs are tangled together.

Derek’s lips slide to his neck, stubble burning as his fingers fiddle with the hem of his shirt.

"Can I take this off?" He feels the words vibrate against his neck. All their previous gropes have been clothing fully included and Stiles isn't the most body confident, especially with Derek made-of-muscle Hale lying on top of him. But the elation he’s still feeling from the fact that he and Derek are actually together, as well as Derek’s drugging kisses, means that he’s nodding before he realises.

"Sure," His voice sounds hoarse, deeper than usual, and he coughs slightly to clear his throat. Derek tugs the shirt a little harder.

"You need to sit up then." He tells him with a grin.

"Oh! Yeah," he sits up suddenly, almost knocking Derek out and can feel his cheeks heating up. He grabs the shirt and is about to pull it over his head, when Derek places his hands on top, stilling him.

"Hey, we don't have to do this if you don't want to." He says softly.

"I want to," Stiles says quickly. "Will you…” he clears his throat again. "Will you take yours off as well?" The grin Derek flashes him is dirty.

"Of course." He lets go and drags his own shirt off, tossing it off the bed to land god knows where. Stiles sucks in a deep breath as he takes in all the beautiful bare skin above him. He takes his own shirt off before he can change his mind, wrapping his arms across his chest and staring up at the smooth white ceiling of his bedroom, feeling Derek’s eyes on him.

Derek doesn't do anything for a long moment; just looks down at him while Stiles feels himself flushing hotter. He’s just about to push Derek off him and grab his shirt off the floor when Derek leans down and presses their lips together.

"Beautiful." He mumbles into his lips.

"Shut up." He feels uncomfortable, Derek trying to use cliché words to flatter him only making him more self-conscious.

"You are." He says it as though it's a statement of fact, like it's not an opinion and pushes Stiles’ arms into the pillow beside his head, holds him by the wrists.

"I'm not." Derek ignores him, just kisses him again which is proving to be ridiculously effective.

"You are to me." He feels hot all over, lessening the anxiety and self consciousness. He groans loudly as Derek shifts, grinding down against him and pulls him closer, burying his face into his neck.

The hard line of Derek is pressing against his and Stiles tilts his head back, gasping for breath as Derek starts rocking against him. His lips feel raw and his neck itches where Derek's stubble has been grazing him.

"So hot," Derek pants in his ear, hips moving faster. He’s straining against the seam of his trousers and drops a hand down to flick open the button. "Yeah, good idea." Derek bats his hand away and pulls down the zipper. As he lifts slightly, Stiles can see a similar bulge in his pants, moulds his hand to it before he can realise what he’s doing.

"Jesus." He’s not expecting it to be so hot, even with the layers of material between them. Derek’s button flicks open easily and his hand is inside Derek’s boxers before he can think this through.

"Yes." Derek surges forwards, catches his lips again as Stiles wraps his hand around him inside his boxers, jerking slowly, the angle awkward on his wrist. "Can you-“ Derek sucks in a deep breath, "can you move faster?"

He starts jerking faster as Derek’s hand slips in his own boxers and wraps a hot hand around his dick. It feels slick, like his palms are sweating, and provides amazing friction against his foreskin.

They’re still kissing, but it's not really so much kissing as exhaling great gasping breaths into each other’s mouth. Stiles’ entire body feels like it's on fire and there's a tingling sensation that started in his toes, but it's spreading, creeping up his legs, down his arms and centering in his dick.

"Fuck," He needs to say something, needs to release the pressure that's building inside him. "I think I'm gonna-"

"Me too," Derek moans, pulling back and licking his lips. Stiles can’t help but think that Derek must be tasting him and it only makes him hotter. "So close."

Derek rocks down against him hard, grinding, as Stiles rubs at his nipple and that's it. He watches the long line of Derek’s neck as his head jerks backwards, a long, loud moan spilling from his lips as he comes in his boxers.

Derek’s head drops forwards and Stiles can see the hair sticking to the sweat that’s glistening on his forehead.

"Now it's your turn," Derek starts jerking his dick again, this time far more brutal. His wrist has to be hurting but he doesn't pause, doesn't even slow down. Stiles needs to be touching him, as much of him as possible. He tangles a hand in Derek’s hair and drags him into another sloppy kiss. "Come on, babe, come for me."

It's the ‘babe’ that does it, that finishes him off. Derek’s voice, lower, more husky than normal, whispering that word, that endearment at him. Well, Stiles doesn't really stand a chance.

It still catches him off guard. One moment he’s teetering on the edge, everything feeling like it's too much, and the next he’s falling, explosively, arching off the bed into Derek’s chest as he shoots into his boxers.

He collapses back onto the bed, feeling boneless.

"Best birthday present ever." He gasps, hands flopping uselessly on the bed. Derek’s breathing just as hard but he manages to grin down at him.

"Glad you liked it." The effect’s ruined by the fact that Derek’s just as red faced as him.

"You had to wait until my birthday?"

"Your dad’s the sheriff!" Derek looks affronted, "and my mom’s the mayor. I don't have a death wish like my sister." Stiles wants to try and look more annoyed but, to be honest, he’s just too blissed out.

*

It's not until after they’ve been for steaks with Stiles’ dad that Stiles remembers Derek’s present. He inhales sharply as he unwraps Derek’s lacrosse jacket, the musky smell of his bedroom still lingering on the fabric.

*

The last couple of days of spring break pass in a blur of hand jobs and Derek. By the time he starts his final term, everyone is awash with the buzz of prom and how it suddenly seems a lot closer than it had before.

Stiles, for his part, gets just as swept up in the excitement. He’s going to prom with a hot guy, and not just any hot guy, but his boyfriend. His all-star lacrosse playing boyfriend. His excitement is only increased as he watches Jackson talking to Greenberg, discussing when and where they are going to meet.

Derek’s already told him he’s picking him up and they’re going for food before the dance.

*

The Monday before prom marks the last lacrosse game of the season. Stiles doesn't need to see the line-up to know that he’s warming the bench, but now lacrosse games are more about cheering on his best friend and his boyfriend than making first line.

The final game is at home, and Stiles finds himself running late after Reuben caught him in the corridor, praising his and Derek’s work on their civil war project.

By the time he makes it to the changing room, most of the players seem to be already warming up on the field, but he can hear Jackson’s voice echoing from inside.

"So, when are you finishing this, Derek? Isn't it getting a little old now?" The question makes him pause, hand on the door handle.

"What do you mean?" Derek sounds muffled, like he’s pulling on his lacrosse shirt.

"With Stilinski? Had enough yet?"

“No, not yet. Think I'm gonna wait until after prom." Derek sounds unconcerned. Stiles feels his chest tighten.

"Got your priorities right then." Jackson’s laughing now and there are others joining in while Stiles feels like falling to pieces outside the changing rooms. He knew it was too good to be true, god damn it. Derek’s sudden interest, his need to keep Stiles sweet, it was all just a big ploy to go to prom.

But Stiles can't understand why Derek’s made all this effort in the first place. No one else has and he would have gone to prom with Derek without all this.

Now, though, it just feels like one big joke. All of him. Mess with Stilinski, he’s just that flailing jokey mess that's been pining over Lydia Martin since third grade. Why not have some fun with him?

He lets go of the handle and backs away, feet stumbling over each other until his back hits the opposite wall and he slides to the floor. His chest feels so tight, and he’s taking great gasping breaths as black spots start dancing in front of his eyes. He can still hear them laughing and joking, but it sounds far away.

"Stiles, Stiles!" The shout punches through the vacuum that seems to have formed around him and he looks up to see Scott in front of him, panicked look on his face as he tries to pull Stiles to his feet. "Come on."

Stiles tries to speak, but it doesn't feel like he’s drawing in breath quick enough and every inhale seems to be making his chest tighter.

"Come on, Stiles, stand up." Scott’s got an arm under him now and manages to pull him to his feet.

"It was a joke," He gasps out, stumbling after Scott into the bathroom. He grabs onto the sink, struggling to hold himself upright. "I'm a joke."

"Stiles, you need to calm down." Scott’s placating tone only seems to make things worse.

"I don't!" He spins around to look at Scott but almost trips up and has to grab back onto the sink. "He fucked me over. It was just a big joke."

"Who?" Scott asks, as though it’s not obvious.

"Derek!" Stiles drops his head forward, all the fight gone out of him. His chest is loosening now but, to be honest, all he feels like doing is crying. "I just heard him."

"I'm sure you must have-"

"He said he was waiting until after prom to end it." He swipes a hand over his eyes quickly. "Isn't that good of him?" Scott doesn't say anything. "I don't know why I thought it would be different." He laughs, but it sounds hollow.

"I'm sorry, man." Scott grabs his shoulder. "I thought you two were the real deal." Stiles shrugs, swipes at his eyes again. He can hear the crowd cheering outside.

"You better go." He tells Scott. "I'm gonna head home."

"You sure?" Scott doesn't look convinced.

"Yeah, you're first line, you can't miss it." He manages a slight smile as he pushes Scott towards the door. Scott doesn't argue but he pauses at the door, looks back at him for a long time.

"You’ll be okay?" He asks eventually.

"I'll be fine." He tries to sound reassuring, but he's not sure how successful he is. "I'll call you later." Scott smiles at him and leaves, the bathroom door closing with a loud bang behind him.

Stiles doesn't leave the bathroom straight away. He stands there, holding onto the bathroom sink as the starting whistle echoes around him and wondering what he’s supposed to do now.

*

He gets ten missed calls in the first hour after the match ends and countless texts, before he turns off his phone. Scott shows up soon after, still in his lacrosse kit, grinning widely at their triumph.

"And even Jackson patted me on the back," he says excitedly as Stiles grabs them both a soda from the kitchen. "It was incredible."

"Sorry I missed it," Scott seems to remember what happened and his face drops.

"Sorry, man, I didn't-"

"I know, so your winning goal," He asks, changing the subject, "did Allison see it?"

Scott bursts into an excited recount of Allison’s cheer when he scored, how, afterwards, she had run onto the pitch to hug him.

When he leaves Stiles is feeling slightly better than he had, but not by much. He doesn't bother turning his phone back on when he crawls into bed, doesn't want to hear Derek’s false words of affection. He let himself be fooled once, let himself fall hard, and he's just got to get himself back on his feet.

*

The final few days leading up to prom are probably some of the worst in Stiles’ life, barring losing his mom. Everywhere he looks, he feels like people are staring at him, laughing behind his back at his stupidity. Jackson’s smug face seems to be around every corner, grinning like he knows some secret that, of course, Stiles knows now as well.

And Derek. Derek follows him around for the first couple of days, trying to talk to him, still sitting with them at lunch. But after Stiles ignores him and after Scott’s constant glaring, he seems to back off. Stiles hasn't bothered turning his phone back on so he has no idea what's going to be on there.

For some reason though, every time Stiles finds himself staring at Derek, which happens more than he would like to admit, Derek looks devastated.

Stiles really doesn't know how to feel about that.

*

The day of prom dawns bright and sunny, and it feels like it drags on forever. Stiles has already decided he’s not going but the suit hanging up in his bedroom always seems to be in sight, likes it's constantly mocking him. He thought about shoving it in the spare room, or hell, even in his dad’s closet, but he can't bear to move it yet. Like Derek’s lacrosse jacket, it's still in his room, a reminder of what Derek’s done to him.

By the time 7pm rolls around Stiles is sat in his room, ratty shirt on and the boxers that have holes along the hem. He’s got his headphones in, MCR blasting away-because he’s allowed to feel a little teenage angst okay?- when his bedroom window starts sliding open.

He shoots up in the air, grabs his baseball bat from where it's resting against his cupboard and holds it above his head. Helena is still dying to get in that hearse again, and he yanks the headphones out, tossing the player on the bed.

"Who’s there?" He asks croakily, raising the bat higher. "I have a bat, you know."

"I do now." Derek heaves himself through the window, landing hard on floor. He stands up quickly, brushing off his jacket as Stiles realises he’s wearing his suit.

"What are you doing here? We have a front door, you know."

"I do," Derek says calmly. "I've been knocking on it for about half an hour. I thought you were just ignoring me."

"I would have been." Stiles mutters, uncomfortably aware of what he’s wearing. Derek looks unconcerned as he sits on Stiles’ desk chair, spinning idly.

"So are you getting ready or…?” Derek trails off, gesturing to Stiles’ state of dress and Stiles suddenly remembers why he’s wearing this.

"No."

"No?" Derek asks, eyebrow raised.

"No, I'm not going." Stiles says firmly and Derek looks at him in surprise.

"Is this why you’ve been ignoring me for the past week? Because you didn't want to go anymore?" Stiles can feel all the anger building back up. He’s not sure why it wasn't there in the first place.

"Of course, blame this on me. Make me look like the bad person." Derek looks confused.

"What are you talking about?"

"I heard you, okay? I know what all this," he points between them, "is all about so there's no need for this act anymore."

"Act? I don't know what you’re talking about." Derek has the gall to look hurt and Stiles has just about had enough.

"You know what? I don't have to do this. You know what you said and so do I so just drop the act and get out." He makes to open his bedroom door but stops when Derek grabs his wrist.

"Stiles, please, tell me what I've done." He looks so distraught that Stiles has to turn away, pull his hand free before he cracks and forgives him. He’s not going to make that mistake again.

"I think you should go." He holds the door open but Derek doesn't move for a long time. He sits on the desk chair, head in his hands, rumpled suit that still makes him look so gorgeous that it kind of hurts Stiles’ heart to look at him.

With a long sigh, as though it pains him, he stands up and moves slowly to the door. He pauses when he’s standing beside Stiles and Stiles can feel his eyes on him, even with his own downcast to the floor. Derek gives another loud exhale and Stiles jumps slightly as his hand brushes gently along his cheek.

Derek pulls his hand away and walks out of his bedroom. Stiles stays where he is until he hears the front door shut and the rumble of the Camaro as Derek drives away.

*

The weekend seems to drag by and disappear all at once. He hears about prom from Scott on Saturday, but he’s not really paying attention and Scott must realise because he stops talking after a while. They head out to the preserve instead, walking to the stop they always seem to end up at; the great rock in the middle of a large clearing.

By Monday morning Stiles is walking into school with his head down, listening to the mindless chatter around him about Friday’s prom. He really doesn't want to hear about it and walks faster to escape the sounds of a brunette laughing happily about how her prom date started kissing her by the punch bowl like a cliché eighties film.

Stiles wants to tell her that should have been him, would have been, if he hadn't found out what a massive fraud Derek was. He hasn't heard anything about him, has been too scared to ask Scott, but he can't imagine that Derek wouldn't have got in the prom. He’s a jock, sits on the council with Jackson and Lydia; there's no way he couldn’t have snuck in if he’d wanted to.

The rest of Monday continues in the same sort of way. Prom is the topic of conversation and Stiles keeps hearing snippets of gossip, as much as he tries to avoid them. He knows that Erica and Boyd are now an item and Isaac’s date with Courtney didn't go over too well. Something about constantly talking about another couple the entire time. He knows that Jackson arrived with Greenberg in a horse drawn carriage at Greenberg’s request. Apparently it was the only way Jackson was gonna get to prom. After that it seems the rest of Jackson’s prom was spent with Lydia, who had ditched her date Matt as soon as Jackson arrived.

No one seems to be talking about Derek though, not that Stiles cares one way or another. Derek doesn't sit with them at lunch and, while Stiles isn’t surprised, he’s confused at how upset he is by this. Derek’s sat with them for so long now, it's weird when he’s not there anymore. He also fucked you over, his mind reasons, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference.

He’s walking home that night after school, alone, since Scott’s gone for milkshakes with Allison, when a car pulls up at the curb.

For a second Stiles thinks it's Derek. Heart hammering, he debates what to do since he hasn't actually seen him since he kicked him out of his room on Friday night. When he looks again though, he realises that it's not Derek. It's Lydia.

"Wha- are you lost?" He asks stupidly as she rolls down the window and leans across to look up at him.

"No." She says simply. "Get in the car."

"Get in the car." He repeats. "Why?" She sighs loudly, stares at her polished nails.

"Just get in." He almost trips over the curb as he gets in the car quickly and catches her rolling her eyes at him. She doesn't say anything as she starts the car again and pulls away from the curb.

"This isn't like an intervention or something, is it?" He asks, "because I'm over my little crush on you, I swear."

"No," she sighs heavily, as though all of this is taking some great effort. "This is not that kind of intervention."

"But it is an intervention?” He says.

"Yes." She says, "Derek." Stiles flails, almost whacking himself in the face. He thinks about trying to get out the car, moving vehicle be damned, but Lydia’s one step ahead of him and he hears the locks click shut with a sense of finality.

"What about Derek?" He asks, trying to act casual. Lydia just snorts next to him.

"How about Derek and his ridiculous crush on you since forever, and who you’ve just tossed aside?" She glares at him from across the steering wheel.

"Crush? He was using me!" Stiles exclaims, unable to believe that Lydia would accuse him in this.

"Derek’s been in love with you for as long as I can remember," Lydia says casually, "he fixed the results of the draw to get your name. He thinks that no one knows but give me some credit." She looks at him in confusion. "I don't know why you think he was using you. If that was anyone, it was you."

"Me?" He squeaks. He clears his throat. "I heard him in the locker rooms talking about how he was going to dump me after prom."

"Derek?" She sounds confused. "Was Jackson there?"

"Yes, what does that have to do with anything?" It seems to mean something to Lydia because she nods.

"Jackson’s been teasing Derek about his crush for years. It's got to the point now where Derek just agrees with him to get him to shut up. He used to get so angry about it."

"So when he said-"

"He was just playing along with Jackson." Lydia finishes. "Believe me, Derek would not break up with you. He hasn't been in school today." So that's why he hasn't seen him around at all.

"Why are you doing this?" Stiles gestures around the car. "Being nice to me?"

"I'm doing this for Derek." Lydia tells him. "Jackson wanted to do it instead but that might have got slightly messy." Stiles shudders. Yeah, maybe Lydia’s the better alternative.

"How do I know this isn't just part of another bigger joke?" He’s probably overthinking this but he’s not ready to have his heart stamped on again.

"You don't." Lydia says simply. "But it's not. Contrary to popular belief, Derek is my friend as well and I look out for my friends."

"So you and I-"

"Nope." She cuts him off. "Besides, Derek is a much better fit for you."

"So all this was just Jackson being a douche?" Lydia stops the car and Stiles realises they’re outside his house.

"That's just Jackson," she offers it as though it's an explanation, although, Stiles supposes, it probably is. "I'm glad you got over your crush." She says suddenly. Stiles looks at her in surprise. "And you can leave now."

Stiles opens the car door laughing awkwardly. This whole situation feels a little surreal.

"Oh, Stiles?" He turns, half out the car. "You’re gonna fix this, aren't you?" He nods, not sure what else he’s supposed to do. As he shuts the car door, Lydia drives away and he finds himself watching her car until she turns the corner.

Maybe Lydia’s telling the truth and this is one huge misunderstanding or maybe it's just part of a bigger joke. Whatever it is, he’s taking a massive risk by either trusting her and having it blow up in his face, or potentially throwing away one of the best things to happen to him.

*

He feels like an idiot as he rings the doorbell and waits on the porch. His collar’s choking him and he tries to pull it away from his neck when he hears footsteps on the other side. He feels like he’s going to be sick and almost runs away as the door opens and Laura Hale appears, frowning when she realises who’s there.

"What do you want?" Her tone wipes away any hopes that she doesn't know what's been going on between him and Derek.

"Is Derek here?" He asks, his collar feeling like it’s getting tighter. Maybe this isn't the best idea. "Please?"

"Listen to me, I don't care how cute he thinks you are, you can't-"

"Laura." Derek appears behind her and Stiles gives a sigh of relief before he remembers what he’s wearing. "I can take care of myself." Stiles doesn't actually like to think what that statement means. Laura huffs loudly and spins on her heels, glaring at Stiles as she strides to the kitchen, no doubt to listen in there.

Derek turns back to look at him and they stare at each other for a long moment.

"Erm hi?" Stiles says awkwardly, aware that his face is burning.

"What are you wearing?" Derek asks, in lieu of answering.

"My suit." He holds his arms out so Derek can take in the whole suit, complete with buttonhole.

"You do know prom was last week." Derek crosses his arms and leans against the door, clearly not intending on letting Stiles in.

"Yeah, well…” he’s not quite sure what to say. How to tell the prom date that’s been unceremoniously kicked out that it's all a big misunderstanding. "I thought you might like to see, you know, as the prom date." He says, arms flopping down by his side. Derek’s quiet for so long that Stiles doesn't think he’s going to say anything.

"Lydia spoke to you." It's a statement, not a question.

"Maybe? But now I completely understand and I realise I may have overreacted and this is me trying to make it right."

"You overreacted?" Derek’s tone is still blank and, if Stiles wasn't freaking out so much about standing there, wearing this freaking suit, he might be able to gauge his mood a little better.

"I heard you," he rushes the words out, figuring that might be the best place to start, "with Jackson, you were talking about dumping me after prom and-"

"Wait, what?" Derek’s rubbing a hand across his face. "When did I say that?"

"At the last lacrosse game. I was running late and I heard you-"

"You heard me agree with him." Derek looks like he’s remembered now.

"Yes!" He’s glad they’re finally on the same page. "But Lydia said that it was just-"

Derek grabs his wrist and drags him forward, wrapping an arm loosely around his waist so they’re touching from chest to waist.

"I'm so sorry." Derek sounds devastated, forehead pressed against his own as though he’s trying to be as close as possible. "It’s this stupid thing that Jackson’s been doing forever because he knows how much I like you."

"Lydia said," Stiles tells him, "although I can't believe you’ve liked me for that long."

"Since third grade." Derek admits and even this close together, Stiles can see his cheeks burning. "I may have fixed the prom draw to get you."

"I know, Lydia told me." The flush deepens and Stiles laughs as Derek presses further forward, kissing him hard on the lips.

"I'm so sorry," Derek says again. "I swear I’ll punch Jackson next time I see him."

"Well Lydia said he was gonna come after me to defend your honour so don't be too hard." He pats Derek on the back as he groans loudly, burying his face in Stiles’ neck. "Although, if you want to beat him up, who am I to argue?" Derek sniggers against his skin.

"So, are we good?" Derek asks eventually as he draws back to look at Stiles. He looks so earnest, so desperate for Stiles to say yes that he finds it hard to believe that he's been so full of self-doubt about their relationship.

"We’re good." Stiles agrees, feeling slightly euphoric as Derek grabs him around the waist, lifting him up and spinning around as he laughs brightly. "Okay, you can put me down now."

"You look so hot in that suit." It’s whispered as Stiles can see Laura’s head leaning out of the kitchen.

"So did you." Derek’s hands are all over him, like he’s struggling to let go, and Stiles surges forward to kiss him properly. He hasn't realised just how much he missed this, missed Derek, until he’s standing right in front of him, kissing him.

The only fall apart when someone clears their throat loudly and they see Derek’s uncle Peter standing behind them, shopping bag in hand.

"Well, well," he says, grinning widely at them both. Derek’s blushing again but he doesn't let go of Stiles’ hand. "This all seems very lovely, but maybe there’s somewhere more," he pauses, "appropriate." He concludes.

"C’mon." Derek tugs on his arm and Stiles follows him up the stairs to his room.

"Your uncle’s creepy." Stiles says without thinking.

“He's always like that." Derek agrees, pulling him into his room and closing the door behind him. He pushes Stiles against the door, fingers fiddling with the waistband of his trousers. "But here’s somewhere far more appropriate."

Stiles grins at him and leans forward, can feel the answering smile from Derek as their lips press together.