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What We Called Love

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“So then he fricken tells me that he likes to masturbate with onion peels!”

He talked.

“And I was like what? Onion peels? How does that even remotely feel like a vagina?”

He always talked.

“So then I said, ‘What the actual fuck, Greenburg! Not that I like vaginas. But onion peels? Seriously? They’re dry and flaky!'”

It was like his job to talk.

“And then he told me he made a mistake! And I was like oh thank god. But then he said he meant onion slices, not peels. So he’s actually cutting up onions and rubbing them on his dick which is so nasty! So I said, ‘Oh God! Get away from me, you Onion Dick!’ And now I know why he’s always smelling like onions when he’s sitting next to me in Thermodynamics”

Stiles heaved, finally catching his breath after a thirty-minute rant about classes that morning. He picked up his glass of Dr. Pepper and took a sip, staring at the person sitting across from him at the table. He swallowed and waited for a response, tapping his fingers lightly, knowing better than to wait too long. After a few seconds, he took a deep breath and winded himself back up again.

“Anyway, I’m just glad I never had to have Intro to Cell and Bio with him freshman year. I don’t think I could’ve watched him struggle during that mitosis lab.”

It’d been decided a long time ago that Stiles was most definitely the one that talked. Not that he was particularly good at it or anything. Just that the lacking side of the conversation really seemed to stem from the other side of the table. Naturally, Stiles’ side had to pick it back up. Which was fine. He was certainly cut out for the job.

But usually, Derek’s side of the table tried to listen. Well, kind of, if listening meant responding to emails and looking at your phone the entire time. It wasn’t that Derek couldn’t talk. He could and would do so every so often, but he seemed just fine letting Stiles do all the talking, which was cool. It was like he’d seen how good Stiles was at it or something and had decided to leave all the “speaking and saying words” stuff to him.

Derek was totally not listening. Whatever was going on in his phone was clearly a lot more important than the debauchery of Greenburg. Stiles kept going anyway. It was what he did. So he waited another minute, deciding on what to ramble about next before diving back into yet another one-sided conversation.

It wasn’t like he minded doing all the talking. In fact, he was getting paid extremely well to do so. Though there was really no official job title, Stiles liked to call himself a “sugar baby”. Only because it made him sound really sexy and sweet at the same time, like an x-rated Sour Patch Kid.

A few times a week, Stiles met with an extremely wealthy and handsome man named Derek Hale. They went out to dinners, lunches, and other really extravagant events, and in exchange Derek provided for Stiles financially. Derek literally paid for everything and while Stiles was happy to take the money, he’d never really understood why.

The relationship had begun almost three years ago, early in the summer between Stiles’ freshman and sophomore year. Towards the end of spring semester, Stiles had learned that his scholarship to Columbia wasn’t eligible for a renewal. He’d planned on spending the summer in New York, working and applying for jobs and scholarships and trying to find the money anywhere he could. But the scholarships he’d been applying to were all pretty small, and the most he’d gotten was one with a church. It was from the Mormon Church, and well…Stiles had…well lied a lot on the application, but they were giving him a large amount of money.

He’d thought about taking out some loans, but his dad was against anything that involved credit and debt, and really just the United States banking system in general. Since his financial aid wasn’t going to be much, his father had suggested he come home and take a few year off to work and save up for college later on. Stiles wasn’t one of those people who quit easy, but his hands were tied.

He’d gone out one night with his friends (his super rich and not at all worried about paying for college friends). They’d all gone to a burlesque club in The Village. It was one of Danny’s favorite places, and they’d hoped to have fun and say goodbye before Stiles went back to California. But really, there was nothing fun about saying goodbye to your friends.

Back home in Beacon Hills, Stiles had never really had a core friend group. He’d been a huge nerd and was pretty different from everyone else, so he’d gotten picked on a lot. That had all ended when he’d left home for New York. He was still weird, but in New York it was all right to be different. Here, he’d met his equally weird (but awesome) best friend Danny who was a child actor in various television shows and films. All the kids in Beacon Hills had flipped their shit when Stiles started posting pictures of them together on Facebook. Danny had let Stiles tag around with him, and in the process he’d introduced Stiles to all their other friends. He’d met Caitlin, and Danielle, and Braeden, and Scott, and for the first time he’d finally felt accepted. He hated the thought of leaving that behind.

That night, Stiles decided, would be the perfect opportunity to take his new fake ID out for a spin. He was having so much fun moping at the bar, ignoring all the half-naked girls dancing around the room, and taking shot after shot until he couldn’t see straight. Scott stayed beside him the whole time, trying to cheer him up like the good friend he was. It was no use. Stiles was entirely committed to his depression that not even Scott’s eternal optimism could get rid of his dark mood. Scott had kept reassuring him that he’d figure something out just like he always did, but Stiles was having a hard time believing that. Mostly because he’d messed up his one and only chance to get away from Beacon Hills. Scott gave up eventually and went off to chase after some girl he’d met earlier named Allison. Stiles stayed behind, drinking alone and wallowing in his misery. That was when Braeden showed up.

“What?” Stiles glared crabbily at her when he saw she was holding back laughter. Stiles felt the room spinning and for a second there were two Braedens.

“Some guy just gave me his card.” Braeden’s laugh turned into a full blown cackle.

“And?” Stiles raised an eyebrow.

“And he told me to give it to you.” She grinned. “He heard you complaining all night and said he’d pay for you two to spend some time together.”

Braeden snorted then handed Stiles the card and waved the bartender down. Stiles stared at it. There was no mistaking her tone. Some creep had seriously just offered to pay him money for sex. Someone had actually thought Stiles was so desperate that he would be up to selling his body just to pay his bills. What an asshole! He squinted and read the tiny type. He blinked a few times, making sure he'd read it correctly. Derek. Sounded like a huge dick. Stiles knew that lots of people got into those kinds of arrangements these days, but he’d never seen himself as one of them. He swallowed, forcing himself to put the card down but as much as he told himself no, the idea was already forming in his head.

“Was he hot?” He asked after the bartender had handed Braeden a drink.

“I don’t know. I didn’t really see his face.” She took a sip then paused. “Why? You’re not seriously thinking about this, are you? The guy sounded like you were pissing him the hell off.”

Her tone pretty much said what Stiles thought. The guy was probably just playing some kind of practical joke. Still, Stiles couldn’t help pocketing the number and thinking about it for the rest of the night.

*

As the days drew nearer to his flight, Stiles decided to send the number a text and was surprised when he got a response a few minutes later. Since he was leaving soon, the asshole‒ Derek ‒had texted him with a time and place to meet for later that night. Stiles spent the entire rest of day freaking out over the fact that that he was about to meet up with some stranger to have weird lucrative stranger sex. He’d tried to imagine this Derek guy, visualizing an old saggy Steve Buscemi look-alike with big ol’ man boobs. Stiles wasn’t too sure if he could do the man boobs, but really anything worked as long as they did it doggy style.

The restaurant was this really fancy and upscale French place. Stiles had taken the bus that night and he’d gotten there a bit late. He was glad he’d thought to dress up for the occasion. He told the hostess his name, and she’d perked up like a Disney Princess on crack. She knew exactly who Stiles was dining with and led him through the restaurant while Stiles tried to keep back the mini-meltdown.

She took him up some stairs and onto the upper level of the restaurant. They seemed to be heading to a specific table in the far corner of the room. Of course, they’d be in a corner. Hookers worked corners, and well, Stiles was a hot young hooker for the night. He frowned as they got closer, and he saw the back of a person completely different from who he’d imagined. The guy was a lot younger than he thought he'd be, and he had a head full of hair and these nice broad shoulders that made Stiles think he was possibly going to be attractive. Stiles didn’t do too well with attractive people. In fact, he liked to think they made him break out in hives and gave him all sorts of other skin diseases.

The hostess rushed quickly ahead of him and pulled out his chair, motioning for him to sit. Stiles smiled and seriously considered offering her some of his Adderall. He looked nervously at the seat she held out for him and started to sit down when he got his first glimpse of the man he’d be having dinner with tonight.

“You can’t be Derek,” Stiles blurted the words out and immediately wished he hadn’t.

Green eyes flicked over him briefly then looked behind him to the bouncy hostess who motioned for Stiles to take his seat again. With his jaw hanging open, he sat. He looked behind him trying to figure out if the hostess had made some mistake, but she took off running, abandoning him to skip down some yellow brick road somewhere. Stiles swallowed and stared after her. He felt himself starting to get smallpox. He looked back at his date, eyes wide and his body hot and tense.

“Seriously,” Stiles said. “You’re Derek?”

The guy did nothing to confirm or deny his identity. Instead, he just looked back at Stiles with disinterested eyes, which made Stiles feel really stupid. He tried to control his breathing, not sure if this was some kind of trick. Really, he should be relieved. This guy wasn’t old or saggy, and he certainly didn’t have man boobs. In fact, Stiles was getting shingles just looking at him.

Which was why he was fucked! How the hell was he supposed to get the money now? There was no way this guy was trying to pay Stiles to do anything with him, least of all “spend some time together.” He must have been talking about someone else, and some synapses in Braeden’s brain had malfunctioned and made her think he’d meant Stiles.

Belatedly, he realized his gawking was actually really rude. He tried to come up with something to say since he knew the Vulcan salute was not really considered okay in these circumstances. The best approach was to say something simple and sweet then get to the sex then get the heck out of there. Plan A is what he would call it. Yeah, it seemed like a great plan.

“Um,” he started eloquently. “So I’m Stiles…”

He waited for Derek to say something along those lines. He said nothing.

“The other night, you gave your card to my friend Braeden. She’s a girl Braeden. I mean she sounds like a boy‒ not sounds sounds like a boy. She totally doesn’t sound like a boy.”

God, he should really learn when to shut up.

“I just mean that you'd think she'd be one ‘cause her name sounds like a dude’s, so you get this picture in your head that she’s this big, buff guy with a penis, but she totally isn't, à la the beauty of a unisex baby name. And she's a great girl-Braeden. A wonderful girl-Braeden. And somehow she got the impression that you meant to give me your number...”

Twelve seconds into dinner and Stiles was already uttering the word penis. So much for Plan A. He tried not to cringe when Derek said nothing again.

“Anyway, my friend Braeden- the girl,” he winked because he was a rodeo cowgirl, “She said you wanted to pay me‒ or not me, of whoever you meant ‒money to spend some time with you, and I’m interested in your offer if you meant me. And honestly, I’m still interested if you didn’t.”

Stiles cleared his throat and lifted the glass of water to his dry mouth, taking a giant gulp. If he was penniless and a bum on the streets, he was sure he’d let this guy fuck him for free. But if there was any way this Derek guy could actually have been serious about the relationship he’d proposed, well why not try and see?

Derek still didn’t say anything, and Stiles started to wonder if he could speak. He tried to keep his face calm and polite, but his skin was itching, and he was seriously about to have a panic attack to go along with his plaque psoriasis.

He shot Derek an expectant glance and couldn’t help taking a closer look at him. He could see that Derek had really dressed up for the occasion. By dressed up, Stiles meant that he looked like he’d just rolled out of bed. He was sexy in that scruffy sort of way but his suit was all disheveled and his tie hung loose. He hadn’t shaved, so he had stubble growing along his jaw. He was also slouched deeply in his chair, and he seemed to have no interest in the world. Stiles got it. When you were that hot, pretty much everything stopped being interesting.

Stiles looked away when the waiter arrived, introducing himself and explaining how the tasting menu was going to work. Derek yawned while he did, slouching further in his seat. The waiter asked Stiles if he would like anything to drink and, of course, Stiles said no. He had his fake I.D and it was good, but it wasn’t that good. The waiter lingered a little longer, and Derek sighed rudely and waved him away just before Stiles could ask if there’d be snails. He wasn’t prepared to eat snails.

They sat quietly until the waiter came back with some strange looking bread and a glass of scotch for Derek. Stiles wondered how the waiter had known to bring Derek a glass of scotch. He hadn’t opened his mouth once yet, except of course to yawn. Derek let him put down the scotch but shook his head at the bread and lifted his glass tiredly. The waiter nodded and turned away, leaving them again in their awkward silence.

Stiles didn’t mind awkward. He thrived in it like a fungus thrived in root cellars. He was pretty sure Derek was mute. A mute who clearly didn’t like bread. He’d never met someone that was mute before and being around one probably required sensitivity and a filter, neither of which Stiles had. He was sure tonight would give him the kind of experience that he could put on their resume. He made a promise to look up the word once he got back to his room. He was sure he’d find this guy under the definition.

A bit of time passed as Stiles fiddled around with things on the table. He entertained himself by making origami shapes out of his napkin and tapping his silverware against his glass. He made some bunny ears and held them up for Derek to see, clearly impressed with himself.

“Yeah, how ‘bout that?”

He set it down and reached over and picked up Derek’s napkin to fold him a crane when he’d heard, “So you were saying…”

Stiles frowned. He wasn’t. He hadn’t said anything in really long time, but someone else had. He lifted his head and gaped, fumbling to mask his expression as words left Derek’s mouth.

“You’re interested in my offer.”

Stiles managed to stay cool. “Uh yeah. Yeah, I am.”

Derek’s voice was gruff and it had a quality to it like it hadn’t been used in years. Stiles was sure it hadn’t. His stomach fluttered, wanting to hear it again. He waited for Derek to say something else, but they were interrupted by the arrival of the first course.

“Thank you,” Stiles said to the waiter and rejoiced that it wasn’t snails, then cried out when he took the first bite. “Holy shit! This is so fucking good!”

Stiles looked around, seeing that he had succeeded in offending the entire restaurant. Derek just looked amused as he drank from another glass the waiter had brought.

“Uh. …I mean that’s…that’s good. Really good.”

Stiles took a few more bites and was glad when Derek sat up to eat, his hand fumbling with the fork. Stiles watched him take a bite, but he didn't seem as impressed as Stiles was. Stiles started to wonder if this guy was impressed by anything. He scrambled to pick up where they’d left off in their conversation.

“So anyway, I’ve got some problems.” He realized he should clarify. “Financial problems. I’ve got other problems too, but it’s the financial ones that are the most pressing right now.”

Stiles bit his lip. “See, I’m having trouble paying for this soul-sucking money-grubbing post-secondary education system that our society insists I need in order to survive in it's fucked up capitalistic model.”

Derek stared at him, and he realized he probably shouldn’t say things like that in a restaurant where half the room was full of these wealthy Wall Street types.

“Not that I’m against capitalism or anything.”

He sighed. He was having trouble thinking of what to say next which was new for him. It felt weird to just come right out and start asking about money, so he said, “Hey. Maybe I should tell you a little more about myself.”

Once again, he gave Derek the proper responding time, and once again it wasn’t utilized.

“Unless you don’t want to hear about myself‒ about me. Which is fine.”

Stiles didn’t wait long this time before saying "screw it" and plowing right on through.

“Well…”

In the next two hours, Stiles proceeded to tell Derek his entire life story. He talked about everything and completely forgot that Derek was a stranger that wanted sex and probably mystery from him and didn’t need to hear an in-depth analysis of his potty training. He told Derek about growing up in Beacon Hills, and how it was the place where excitement went to die. He told him about being a loser in high school and being voted “teacher’s worst nightmare”. He’d even surprised himself by telling Derek about his mom, and how she’d died when he was a kid, and what it was like growing up with a dad as the town sheriff. He talked and talked and by the time he stopped talking, they were at dessert, and he didn’t even want to stop.

“Oh, and I got this scholarship from this Mormon Church, which probably means that I’ll have to find some way to become Mormon. I’ll also probably have to attend church every Sunday, but I’m way too against large religious institutions to actually do that so I’ll have to figure something out.”

Dinner was pretty much done. “Anyway. That’s it. That’s everything. Kind of pathetic that I can tell you just about everything that’s ever happened to me in my entire nineteen years of life in just under two hours. I really need to get some adventure in there. Jump off a cliff. Climb Mount Everest. Go streaking in the Grand Canyon.”

Derek smirked and Stiles’ breath hitched.

“Yeah, you’re right. Cactus anywhere near my junk doesn’t really seem like a good idea.”

He’d been pleasantly surprised to find that Derek had listened the whole time. Few people could listen to Stiles go off on a full-blown rant for two hours. He’d wondered if he’d been boring him, but Stiles liked to think he was organically entertaining. Derek didn’t do too much besides blink anyway, although every now and then he gave Stiles a shy smirk that left him grappling for breath.

He’d stopped counting how much Derek had to drink, but he could see that it made him less aloof. The waiter kept bringing glasses to the table, never letting the cup stay empty for long. At some point, Derek had shocked both Stiles and the waiter by saying ‘thank you’.

Stiles frowned suddenly. “Hey. I don’t even know if you’re gay. Are you gay? I’m gay. Well, not all the way gay. Just not that straight. A lot less straight than I am gay. But a little straight sometimes, you know?”

Of course, Derek didn’t give him anything that even remotely looked like a response. He just rubbed his glassy eyes and itched his jaw, looking back at Stiles bleakly.

“You know you’re a real talker.”

He swallowed and bravely tried to broach the subject now that things were more relaxed.

“I just… I could really use something like what you’re offering right now. Mostly because I’d like to get my degree and not become one of those people who fail at life. Not that I mind being a failure. I’d totally love to just sit on the couch and play video games all day. But at some point I’d lose the couch and the video games and end up on heroin.”

Derek’s eyebrows shot up in amazement.

“Yeah…I don’t really know how I got to heroin so fast either, but it seems like my kind of thing.”

He wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen next. It was obviously getting pretty late, and Stiles wasn’t accustomed to how drunk mutes asked for sex. He cursed himself for being so insane. He wasn’t even sure how much money was in it, but he had this feeling he just couldn’t quit. He’d never done this sort of thing before. Not to mention he was having the biggest performance anxiety of his life, and his little pecker wouldn't poke if it was the least bit intimidated.

He kept on talking to push down the nerves. “Honestly bioengineering needs me right now. It’s 2011 and we haven’t got clones. Clones! Why don’t I have a clone sitting next to me right now? We all need clones!”

Stiles almost knocked a glass over flailing his arms.

“And I’m pretty sure I’ve got the cure to cancer somewhere up here,” He tapped his temple. “Along with lots of useless meta-theories about Lord of The Rings. All I need is for someone to give me a plasmid so I can get some really kinky stuff going.”

There wasn’t much indication on Derek’s part about how the night would continue, and Stiles started to get really nervous again. A buff guy that looked like a wrestler suddenly appeared beside Derek at the table, making Stiles jump. The guy leaned down and whispered something into Derek’s ear that made Derek nod and down the last of his glass. He watched Derek push himself up out of his chair and couldn’t help but cringe when Derek tried and failed to button the jacket of his suit. Derek picked up the glass again, sipping from it until he realized it had already been finished. He set it back down on the table with a thud and dug into his pockets clumsily.

“So um…” Stiles hated to ask even though he already knew the answer.

Derek had finally found what it was he was looking for: his wallet. He opened it and pulled out a cluster of bills then counted them. He frowned deeply and counted again, then took a deep breath and sighed, holding out the money.

“Okay,” he said simply.

Stiles strained his ears. “What?”

Derek sighed again. “Okay.”

He lifted Stiles’ arm and slapped the money in his hand, then looked around for the bodyguard, nodding towards him as he stumbled off. Stiles watched him leave, completely confused.

He waited for the waiter to return to ask if the money in his hand was for the bill, but the waiter had told him that the bill had been taken care of already, which meant the money in his hand was for him. He’d left that night with two thousand dollars in his hand and had gotten back on the bus with absolutely no idea as to how he might have earned it. When he’d gotten back to his room, Stiles had decided to pick up a dictionary and look up the word okay. Suddenly, he wasn’t so sure he’d been using it right his entire life.

*

Everything had gotten set up pretty quickly after that. Stiles had gotten a call from some woman named Erica the very next day, telling him that Derek was going to be his sugar daddy. She asked for all this adult stuff, like his bank account information and his current bills. Stiles asked her if she was trying to steal his identity. She told him then that she was Derek’s assistant, and that she’d be explaining how things were going to work for their arrangement. Stiles hadn't been aware that he and Derek had any kind of arrangement. Somehow, he’d missed that between the three words Derek had let slip out at dinner the night before.

Erica told him that Derek would now be paying for his tuition, phone bill, food cost, and any other expenses that Stiles might have. She also told him Derek would be providing him with an allowance of two thousand dollars a week so long as Stiles could occupy three holes in his schedule each week. Stiles tried to say something. He even tried to ask questions, but Erica spoke over him whenever he did then hung up, cutting him off when she was done. Stiles had stayed very still with the phone in his hand. When it had all finally clicked, he’d almost destroyed his room in celebration.

It was pretty rough for them in the beginning. They went on lots of awkward dates where Stiles tried not to talk too much and Derek tried to drink a lot more. Eventually, they both grew used to the rhythm of things and had gotten to know each other better. It was pretty much a dream arrangement. Stiles wasn’t your typical pink Barbie gold-digging sugar baby, and he was still patiently waiting for the day that Derek would ask for sex. After all, it was what he was paying for. He wasn’t really sure what was taking so long. It wasn’t like he could ask Derek. Derek didn’t like to talk. He just liked throwing money at people.

Spring semester of his sophomore year, Stiles’ father had a stroke. He’d been out to lunch with Derek when he’d gotten the call. When they’d told him, Stiles couldn’t even breathe. But Derek could, and Derek had taken the phone out of his hands and got him out of the restaurant before he’d broken down in tears. Derek had fixed it. A lot like he’d been fixing everything in Stiles’ life. In a blur, Stiles was put on a plane, and then in a hospital in California with Derek, and then finally holding his dad’s hand.

No one had ever done anything that nice for him before. He’d been grateful. Truly grateful. He would’ve done anything Derek asked. In fact, he really wanted to feel like he was giving Derek something back in return since their relationship seemed so one-sided. When Stiles got back from California, he was thinking just that. He’d told Derek that if he wanted to have sex with him, he could, but Derek just stared for a really long time.

Stiles was actually afraid he might have broken him. He couldn’t understand why Derek looked so upset. He’d waited, gnawing at his lip nervously, and when it looked like Derek wasn’t going to do anything, he huffed and gripped the back of his neck, impulsively crashing their lips together. It was the most infuriating kiss Stiles had ever had. Derek’s mouth was stubborn, and he stood frozen like a brick wall. Stiles grumbled irritably, lifting a hand to cup his face, pushing their bodies close and grinding against him. He nipped at Derek’s mouth, asking him to kiss him back, then buzzed when Derek inhaled sharply. So he did it again, deliberately scraping his teeth against Derek’s sealed bottom lip and felt it the moment Derek broke his resistance, groaning while he grabbed Stiles and kissed him hard.

He clenched his fist in Derek's shirt, melting and sighing as he let Derek drink from his mouth. His chest throbbed as the first taste of him. Their tongues clung to each other, the both of them panting and frustrated as they tried to set the pace. Stiles wanted it hard and hot and growled when Derek tried to keep things slow and chaste. He’d slid a hand down Derek’s flat stomach, diving towards his belt buckle and trying to move things along, then gasped when he was suddenly being shoved away.

Stiles opened his eyes and glared only to find Derek equally as mad.

Derek’s eyes were dark and tense, his breaths wild as he said, “This.” He motioned between them. “This isn’t what we do.”

“Why the hell not?” Stiles asked. It was hard for him not to raise his voice.

“This isn’t part of our deal!”

Derek stormed out that night, fuming. Stiles was left pacing alone in Derek’s kitchen. He’d tugged at his hair and his eyes stung as he started to panic. He was sure he’d fucked things up. He’d waited a few days for Derek to end things and for them to be done with whatever it was they were. But the week after his and Derek’s first kiss, Stiles had gotten a raise. To this day, he never understood why.

*

And so that's what Derek called it. A deal. Sometimes he even liked to use the word transaction. Stiles never called it anything at all, mostly because he never felt like he was giving Derek anything back in return. So he just tried never to call them anything.

Derek had stayed mad about the kiss for weeks. He’d never said, but Stiles could tell since he was always glaring. Regretting it, Stiles got with the program and went back to doing things the way they normally did. He wasn’t the one that mattered in their arrangement anyway. He was an employee, and he had a job to do.

He’d guessed that if Derek wasn’t paying him for the sex, then he was obviously paying him for the conversation. So Stiles made it a point to talk and never stop. Stiles rambled, and Derek sometimes listened. Stiles shouted about X-Men and porn in fancy restaurants, and Derek sometimes grunted in response. Every now and then, Derek would even look up from his phone and make eye contact and blink, which Stiles would always take as a positive and real acknowledgment to his existence.

And they never had sex. Not ever. No matter how bad Stiles wanted them to, and he wanted them to, oh so badly. But those were the rules. They worked pretty well for them in the beginning, and three years later, they were still following the same rules. Only now, things were a lot more muddled.

Chapter Text

After failing to rouse Derek’s interests with Greenburg, Stiles decided to try again with a list of ‘Reasons Why Scott McCall Is the Worst Roommate Ever To Exist Ever.’ It was a really great list, very convincing and thorough, but Stiles was almost at the end and Derek hadn’t even paid attention to a single part.

“Do you know that they’re never allowed to be separate?” Stiles was saying. “Which is insane! ‘Cause two years! They’ve been together two years and they’re still going at it!”

Stiles took a bite of his burger and chewed, reaching his fork out onto Derek’s plate and taking a scoop of his mashed potatoes. He crammed the bite into his mouth, packing it in along with a bite of his burger, then kept right on going.

“You’d think they’d get over it by now. Same thing! Same parts! You know?”

This was the part where he really would have liked a little more speaker-audience interaction. A head nod really would have sufficed, but he knew he wasn’t getting one.

“Allison pretty much lives with us now. I’m just lucky that my room is far enough away from theirs, because I would totally find a werewolf friend and have him rip Scott’s throat out if they ever woke me up with their ‘sex noises.’”

Stiles felt Derek should at least be a little more interested in that. After all, he was the one paying Stiles’ rent. Derek had gotten Scott and Stiles a condo junior year. The place was huge and he and Scott had gotten into quite a bit of trouble there. They’d been having a great time until recently when Scott had started letting his on-again-off-again girlfriend Allison stay with him in his room. It wasn’t like Stiles paid rent either, but he’d asked Scott to be his roommate. He’d never asked Allison. Allison was there in the morning. She was there in the middle of the day when Stiles finally rolled out of bed. And she was always always there at night when all Stiles wanted to do was play video games and eat buckets of ice cream without being judged. To make things worse, Scott was attached to her side like a squid, and they were seriously starting to make him sick.

“It’s not like I could actually ever have a werewolf friend, but if I did, I would so use him against Scott and Allison and young love in general!”

Stiles took another bite out of Derek’s potatoes, seriously regretting having not ordered them for himself. Derek was still typing away on his phone, scrolling and frowning, then typing some more. Stiles wrapped up anyway, hoping that through osmosis, Derek would pick up one or two of his gems.

“I mean, after a certain amount of PDA, there should be a law that you automatically get chlamydia. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like justice to me.”

Stiles sighed. You wouldn’t think it but being a sugar baby was seriously hard work. Stiles would even say downright exhausting. He reached out for Derek’s plate again, this time going for his steak, and yelped when his hand got violently smacked away.

“OW!”

Derek scowled and ate the piece of meat that had been sitting on his fork for the past twenty minutes, then put his first phone down to switch to his second one. If Stiles had to guess, he’d say Derek was some kind of businessman. Stiles honestly had no idea. In fact, he’d only learned Derek’s last name was Hale last year and not Stale like he’d always thought it was. Okay, he was kidding. He’d always known it was Hale. He’d seen him sign it on just about every receipt. Still, even with all the facts missing about Derek, Stiles felt he knew him pretty well.

While he’d started out desperate for money, Stiles had grown to care about Derek in a way he hadn’t expected. Derek was a lonely guy. He lived alone and didn’t have many friends. Stiles was the only person that was constantly around him, and honestly, he’d stay even without the money, which was largely the problem.

At some point, Stiles had fallen hopelessly in love with Derek. Really, it seemed like a sugar baby cardinal rule not to fall in love with your sugar daddy, but Stiles had to go and break that one anyway. Derek wasn’t all that difficult of a person to fall in love with. He was grumpy literally all of the time. He worked a lot. He hated wearing ties. His favorite food was steak, and he liked it bloody. He also had these two fur coats above his eyes that he liked to call eyebrows. And he was gorgeous. Insanely gorgeous. Unnecessarily gorgeous. And Stiles loved him. Stiles loved him so much it hurt.

“Dude! You’re not even listening to me. How are you not even listening to me? You listen, I talk! It’s what we do!”

Derek looked up from his phone. “I am listening.”

“Oh really?” Stiles picked up his glass. “Then what exactly did I just say? Come on. Play it back.”

Derek sighed. “You have a werewolf friend and you want him to give you chlamydia.”

“I want him to what!” Dr. Pepper spewed all over the table and Stiles looked at Derek like he was a crazy person. “Why would anyone want to get chlamydia, Derek? And how exactly do I have a werewolf friend? FYI, werewolves don’t exactly exist!”

Derek ignored him, looking back down at his phone that sat buzzing on the table.

“Besides, I said I wanted Scott and Allison to get chlamydia, not me. You know, so she can go home for a few weeks. You completely missed the point.”

“I have to take this,” Derek said, holding up his phone.

“Yeah. Sure. Alright,” Stiles said to no one.

They were at the steakhouse where they usually met for lunch. It was fifteen minutes away from campus, which always made it convenient. Combine that with the fact that Derek couldn’t go a week without steak and they were pretty much there all the time. Stiles had been talking pretty loudly about Greenburg, and he wondered if anyone else had been scandalized. He needed at least one other person to commiserate in his disgust. He scanned the tables nearby and almost choked at the sight of strawberry blonde hair.

She was sitting in a booth nearby. Stiles could see her nodding and talking with what looked to be a co-worker. Stiles looked away for a minute and then looked back. God, she was beautiful. Seriously, that hair! It was like the sunset. He gawked. He hadn’t thought about girls like that in a while, but he was certainly interested in this one now.

Technically, there wasn’t any special clause in his and Derek’s arrangement that said Stiles couldn’t be involved with anyone else. However, it was heavily implied. Still, every now and then, Stiles hooked-up with this annoying kid named Liam. The sex was never that great, but it was distracting and distractions were really what he needed. Mostly because Derek’s celibacy vows would cause his death if he actually had to follow them.

Stiles couldn’t help noticing how distracting this girl was. She sat there, effortlessly sucking all the attention away from the rest of the room. Of course, like Derek, Stiles knew he could never have her. She was way too out of his league. It was the story of his life. He watched her until Derek got back, then snapped his attention away when Derek sat up and started to eat his steak. Stiles blushed, feeling guilty but saw an opportunity to start a conversation now that Derek’s phones were down.

“So what’s new with you, Derek?” He asked. “Do anything fun this weekend?”

Derek stared at him drearily, chewing on his steak.

“How’s the stock market?”

Derek swallowed and ate another piece, frowning when his tie almost fell into the steak sauce.

“Are we up? Down? Up and Down? Doing donuts across the freeway?”

Stiles was pretty sure Derek made these things exhausting on purpose. He loathed that about him and focusing on all the negative things he hated about Derek helped to keep the lovey dovey feelings away. Derek wasn’t always so great. He was a meany and a grouch, but he was fun even though to some he might not seem that way. He was also an asshole, and a giant dick, but a super generous dick. He was rude, and sarcastic, and sexy, and sweet. He was also adorable. God, he was adorable. And Stiles knew him. He knew him so well that sometimes it even surprised Derek. Stiles liked to think Derek knew him the same.

Stiles rolled his eyes. He was so over not getting any attention. Clearing his throat, he was once again forced to assume the role of Properly Mannered Derek.

“Oh, business is so troubling Stiles,” an alarmingly shrill voice cried. “It’s just so hard being CEO of the entire stock market!”

Derek’s head flew up and he smirked, his eyes glittering as he listened to his properly-mannered-self engage in exemplary conversation.

“Oh no, Derek,” Stiles said, switching back to his own voice. “I’m sorry to hear that. I know how hard things are for you at work. Everyone loves you. Everyone hates you. You can never catch a break. Tell me, how are Bologna and Svetlana?”

Stiles didn’t know enough personal details about Derek to be Derek so he had to make some up. He’d given Derek two sisters, Bologna, and Svetlana. The three of them had been discovered on the beach as babies and were thought to be the children of a sea turtle.

“They’re doing alright,” Properly Mannered Derek said. “Svetlana’s still breathing fire for the Russian Circus and Bologna’s finally chosen a career path in live action role playing.”

“Live action role playing!” Stiles gasped. “For a girl like Bologna? Oh no, Derek. I think she means porn.”

“No. No. We’ve talked about this extensively over the phone. She’s finally starting to get her life together. Our conversations really seem to be helping her out.”

“Oh, well that’s just great, Derek,” Stiles sighed. “You really are an amazing brother, and let’s not forget, a tantalizing conversationalist.”

Derek's lips twitched, fighting a smile when Stiles pouted and leaned on his elbow in defeat. Derek took pity on him and held out the last piece of his steak. Stiles looked at it glumly but opened his mouth anyway to let Derek feed it to him.

“Seriously, dude.” He chewed. “What’s up with you today? Something going on or something?”

Derek just picked up his phone.

“No! No! Not the phone!” Stiles groaned and slammed his head loudly against the table. He stayed there for at least a minute, lifeless until he perked back up and glanced at his watch.

“Hey. How much time do we have left? Erica said you have somewhere else you needed to be today.”

“Yes.” Derek put his fork down and flexed his jaw. “I actually have to leave right now. I have someone I've got to go pick up.”

“Oh,” Stiles said surprised, and a little jealous that Derek was choosing to spend his afternoon with someone else besides him. “Right now? Like right right now? Oh okay.”

He tried not to look too disappointed, but he was always disappointed when he didn’t get to spend that much time with Derek. They waited for the bill to arrive, and Stiles looked at Derek to pay. He did and stood when the waiter came back later with his card. Derek spared Stiles another glance, just as he was about to leave and paused. Sad violins played as Stiles slumped low in his chair with the most pathetic look on his face. He knew he was overplaying the sad puppy dog act, but his only references were Scott and it seemed to work. Derek’s gaze turned sympathetic and he sighed, digging into his pocket and pulling out his money clip. He dropped a small stack in front of Stiles, and Stiles beamed.

“Aw thanks, dude!” He swiped the pile off the table and opened his wallet, sliding the bills in, then looked up at Derek since he always had to ask. “So I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

Derek nodded, tugging at his tie.

“Alright! See you then!”

He let Derek leave then headed for the door himself. He still had a lot left to do for the day. Graduation was in just a few weeks and Stiles couldn’t wait to burn all his books and smack everyone with his degree. He’d worked really hard in school, not wanting to waste Derek’s money. He’d gotten mostly straight A’s since sophomore year. But he wasn’t ready to jump into the workforce just yet. He still felt he needed some life experience. So, Stiles would be spending the summer backpacking through Europe with Caitlin, which he was really excited about.

The only problem was his dad. Stiles had an extremely hard time keeping his lavish lifestyle away from him. Derek spoiled him rotten and Stiles hadn’t needed to ask his dad for anything in a really long time. His dad didn’t understand why Stiles wasn’t out looking for jobs, or how he was able to afford to spend the summer abroad. Back home Stiles drove an old beat up jeep, slept in a tiny bedroom, and had to watch his father struggle to make ends meet. Here everything was different.

He knew his dad would hate seeing how dependent he’d become on Derek. He’d always wanted Stiles to be able to stand on his own two feet. That was how he’d been raised and that was the way he’d wanted to raise Stiles. But Stiles needed Derek. Derek fixed things, and he’d never once let Stiles down.

Stiles was almost out the front door when he saw the girl again. This time, his heart skipped a beat and his skin did that thing it did when he saw attractive people. She was alone in the lobby, leaning against the wall. Stiles looked to the door, and then back at her, and remembered that she was in another sphere of hotness that Stiles just couldn’t touch. Then he glanced at her one more time and thought, what the hell.

He walked over and leaned next to her on the wall, watching as a few people walked by. He didn’t say anything, hoping that she would talk first. She smelled nice and with how close he stood, their sides almost touched. Stiles looked in the other direction when she glanced over at him, which made things unbearably awkward.

Finally, she said, “Hello.”

Stiles snapped his head around and stammered, “Hello there.”

“Is there a reason you’re standing so close to me?”

She had big pretty eyes.

“Warmth. It’s a little cold out.”

“Cold?” Her brows shot up. “On the last day of April?”

They didn’t call him “Super Smooth Stilinski” for nothing.

“You know how the saying goes. ‘In like a lion…out like a…pterodactyl?”

He was pretty sure that was the one for March and that it went a little differently, but it couldn’t be that different.

She smiles and pursed her lips. “Hmm. You know, I think you’re right. I do feel a breeze coming on.”

Stiles was glad she played along. He took a shaky breath as she stepped closer and stared up at him with light grassy eyes. His stomach was twisting in knots, and he tried to find something else to say but got captivated by how her mouth hung open, and how her lips were slightly parted. He couldn’t pull his eyes away. That is, until she coughed in his face.

Ew! Stiles grimaced as bits of spit landed all over him. He’d probably be more upset if she didn’t smelled so good.

She smiled sweetly. “Maybe you should step back. I think I’m catching a cold.”

Stiles did, putting a bit of space between them, and held out his hand.

“Hi. I’m Stiles.”

“Stiles?”

“It’s a nickname.”

She just scrunched her nose. “Oh, honey. It isn’t a good one.”

She pushed herself off the wall and glanced back at him as she started to walk away, waving a dainty hand. “Buh-bye now.”

“Uh. Wait!” Stiles caught her arm.

She looked down at it, seeming offended that Stiles had the audacity to touch her, then stopped when she caught a glimpse of his wrist.

“Is that‒” She frowned. “Is that an Audemars Piguet?”

He pulled his hand away, but her eyes stayed on his watch.

“Now what would someone like you be doing with a forty-two thousand dollar watch…in a sweatshirt?”

Stiles winced, then cringed, then winced some more. One thing he and Derek never did was talk out loud about money. Stiles didn’t ask for money. He didn’t want to know how much things cost. And he never made any kind of demands when he needed something. He just took everything he got graciously and tried never to annoy Derek by saying no. Still, his watch had always gotten him weird looks and he knew it was expensive. He just hadn’t known it was that expensive.

Derek liked giving him gifts. Sometimes those gifts got to be a little much, or a bit excessive, or downright embarrassing. But other times they were really thoughtful and sweet. They’d just celebrated Stiles’ 22nd birthday a few weeks ago, and the gift he’d gotten from Derek had topped the watch, and just about everything else.

Before his mom died, her favorite thing to do while she was sick was visit the hospital aquarium. Stiles hadn’t remembered telling Derek that, but then again, Derek knew everything about him, so he must have said it in passing. Derek had taken him out to dinner that night, and when he’d dropped him off later, Stiles had walked in and was surprised to find a giant aquarium in his room. The tank spanned an entire wall, and he watched as the exotic fish swam by him in awe. He'd read the card Derek had left for him, and it said how he’d remembered the story about Stiles’ mom, and that he hoped he liked it. Stiles had more than liked it. He’d sat on his bed for the rest of the night, staring at the tank and remembering his mom. He couldn’t believe that Derek had done that for him. He couldn’t believe he’d cared enough.

Stiles shoved his hands in his pocket, always embarrassed when stuff like this happened. He typically tried to dress down as much as he could. He wasn’t the type that liked to draw attention to himself. Plus, it wasn’t a sweatshirt. It was a hoodie. People were allowed to wear expensive watches with expensive hoodies.

The girl eyed him, squinting before she asked, “What are you some kind of white boy rapper or something?”

“No.” He snorted. “More like a bioengineering major.”

“Engineering huh? I graduated from MIT last year.” She grinned when Stiles looked a little shocked. “I’m in consulting now. Aerospace. What can I say? I’m a girl that likes my planes.”

“Mr. Stilinski.”

Stiles turned when he heard the voice of one of Derek’s drivers. Isaac was a young kid Derek had hired a couple of years ago to drive Stiles around. While he was only an employee to Derek, to Stiles he was more like a good friend.

“Would you like me to drop you off somewhere,” Isaac asked.

“Uh, please. I’ll be out in a minute, Isaac.”

Isaac nodded and went back through the doorway. Stiles turned back to the girl, who was still thoughtfully twirling her hair.

“You just got very interesting in five minutes, Mr. Stilinski,” she said and held out her hand.

Stiles frowned down at it, then realized she was asking for his phone. Of course, she was asking for his phone. He fumbled for it in his pockets, almost dropping it on the floor before handing it to her. She smiles patiently and took it, typing her number in.

“Lydia,” She said and handed it back to him. “And you should call me sometime.”

Stiles gaped as she sent him a parting grin then walked off. He watched her disappear through the doors and stuffed his phone back inside his pocket in disbelief. How’d he manage to land that?

Stiles walked out of the restaurant, elated, then froze when he saw Isaac leaning against the car, his ankles crossed and a smug smile on his face.

“Oh god,” Stiles groaned. “Please don’t tell Derek!”

*

Stiles had been a tad late for his appointment with Derek the next evening. Isaac dropped him off in front of Derek’s building on the Upper West Side, teasing him and being an obnoxious asshole about seeing Stiles flirt with Lydia the day before. Stiles rode up in the elevator, peeved, and got off on the 33rd floor practically fuming. He headed across the hall to Derek’s loft. It was a little disrespectful calling Derek’s penthouse a loft, but that’s what Derek liked to call it. Really, there wasn't a single thing lofty about it. The place was huge with three floors and a cool industrial feel to it. Stiles could see why Derek called it a loft. There weren't really any doors except the front one.

Stiles banged a fist on that very door, knocking loudly until someone finally opened up. It was Boyd, Derek’s huge built bodyguard. Stiles smiled at him as he walked in. He liked Boyd. He was Stiles’ favorite out of Derek’s employees. His awesome and sunny personality made him more of a massive teddy bear than a terrifying bodyguard. It wasn't that Stiles didn't like any of the other personnel on Derek’s team. Just that Erica was abusive and Isaac was insubordinate, so if he had to pick one and kill the others, he’d pick Boyd.

“Mr. Stilinski,” Boyd greeted him. “You’re looking sharp”

“Thanks Boyd.” He looked down at his swanky Italian suit, then looked up at the sleek suit Boyd usually liked to wear. “You’re looking spiffy as always.”

Stiles leveled the bodyguard with a serious glance. “Tell me. Is Derek even close to being ready?”

“Nope.” Boyd grinned. “He hasn't even gotten into the shower yet. Still working in the study.”

“WHAT!”

Very few things could make Derek put down his work. Not sleep, not food, and most importantly not important engagements. Stiles certainly wanted to see if sex did the trick.

He took the shortcut through the kitchen, stomping across the loft and shouting, “Derek! Erica said we had to be there by six! So get your ass ready now unless you want me to never have kids because Erica is so gonna rips off my‒”

He stopped, incredibly grateful he hadn't finished that sentence, face beet red as he stepped into the den. There was a man Stiles had never seen before sitting on Derek’s couch. A stranger in a robe and loafers eating popcorn and watching Derek’s TV like he lived there. Stiles wondered if he should call for Boyd. He’d never understood why Derek needed a bodyguard, but maybe this was one of those times.

“Hello,” Stiles said warily. “Who are you?”

The man turned. Stiles gulped when he saw the severe burns all along the side of his face.

“I’m Peter. Derek’s Uncle.”

“Peter,” Stiles said the name slow. “Derek’s uncle…Right. Has Derek always had an Uncle Peter?”

“As far as I know.” He ate a handful of popcorn and looked back to the TV. He was watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

“It’s just...I've never seen anyone else in Derek’s loft before besides Erica and Boyd.”

“Don’t be alarmed. I only arrived yesterday. I’m returning from a long stay at a mental institution.”

“A mental institution? Oh, how nice.” Stiles swallowed and diverted his eyes toward the nook that Derek liked to call his study. “Where’s Derek?”

“He heard you coming and ran for the shower.”

“Glad I have that effect,” Stiles muttered.

“It’s very powerful. You might not want to use it all in one place.”

Stiles sat rigidly on the couch and was thankful that the giant plasma screen was on to fill the room with noise. Peter laughed loudly at something that one of the Kardashians said and held the bowl of popcorn out to Stiles, but he declined. He tried not to look at the burns on Peter’s face, making sure his eyes stayed on everything else in the room. At some point, he decided that Derek’s uncle wasn't an ax murderer in a robe and decided to make small talk.

“So,” Stiles said. “Since we’re just sitting here, why don’t we compare notes... on Derek?”

Peter glanced over at him with interest. “Compare notes?”

“You know, like a Venn diagram.” Stiles shrugged. “Just to see where we overlap.”

“I take it you’re Derek’s boyfriend?”

Stiles nodded. It was a lot easier that way. Shorter and less complicated than explaining their arrangement.

“Then I know the only reason you wish to compare notes on Derek is because, in my nephew’s typical fashion, he’s neglected to tell you anything about himself. Am I correct?”

“Yes,” Stiles sighed pathetically. “You are.”

Peter grinned. “Well, then I’d be happy to tell you everything I know about Derek.”

Stiles perked up, liking him already.

“What’s your name,” Peter asked.

“Stiles.”

“Well, it’s wonderful to meet you, Stiles.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you too,” He grinned. He was glad there was at least one well-mannered person in Derek’s family tree. “Great. So I guess I’ll go first.”

Stiles racked his brains with all the things he’d always wanted to know about Derek. There were lots, endless amounts of questions that he’d stored in the deep cavities of his brain. Derek didn't like questions, not even simple ones, like ‘Can you call 911?’ He dignified nothing with a response. Not even Stiles’ medical emergencies.

“Oh! Um!” He’d finally picked one. “Has he always been so ridiculously good looking?”

He was so shallow.

“No. Not always,” Peter said. “He had this ugly duckling phase after he’d first gotten facial hair. It didn't suit him for some time. Looked like he had little specks of dirt all over his chin.”

“How old was he?”

“Twelve.” Peter smiled fondly.

Stiles sunk back into the couch, getting comfortable.

“Has he always had that sexy muscular fit thing going on?”

“Well I've never seen him exercise myself, but he did have a six pack as a baby. He used to flex in his crib.”

Stiles laughed at that and put his dress shoes up on the coffee table next to Peter’s loafers.

“So what’s he got against ties? They’re like his worst enemy. It drives me nuts that he’s always tugging at them.”

“He has a plainer taste, and I believe he’s never been comfortable in a suit.”

Stiles could see that, even though Derek practically wore one every day.

“It’s not a bad taste,” Stiles said. “Just simple. He has this one shirt that does amazing things to his eyes. It’s blue and every time he wears it I want to‒”

“Stiles.”

He jerked at the sound of Derek’s voice.

“Why are you talking to my Uncle?”

“I like your Uncle,” Stiles said. “He’s very nice.”

“Why thank you, Stiles.”

Really, they were best friends.

Stiles swallowed as he caught a glimpse of Derek standing at the top of the stairs in nothing but a towel. He tried hard not to look at his naked torso, quickly lowering his eyes like a nun, his neck growing hot. He’d only seen Derek’s abs a few times, but he remembered them well enough to dream about licking them every night.

“Looking for your suit?”

He allowed himself a quick glance. Really, it only did more harm than good.

“Errm,” Stiles flubbed. “Erica said everything would be laid out for you in the other room. All the alternations you wanted were made so you should be good, and would you kindly please hurry the fuck up.”

Derek scowled, glaring mostly at Peter before walking away.

“How about that glare? Has he always had that glare?” Stiles asked Peter.

“Always.” Peter chuckled. “Burns doesn't it? Like he’s trying to light the side of your face on fire and melt it off!”

Peter laughed loud and long at that. Stiles shook his shoulders too and pretended to laugh, but he didn't understand the joke.

“Would you like a drink, Stiles?”

So hospitable.

“Why, yes Peter I would. Just a soda for me, thanks.”

Peter walked into the kitchen, and Stiles heard him rummaging through the fridge while thinking of more questions to ask. Peter came back and handed him a bottle of Pepsi then sat back down, punching a tiny straw into his kiwi-strawberry flavored juice box. Stiles stared, envious, but twisted the cap off his own drink.

“So, our Venn diagram isn't looking much like a Venn diagram.”

“Oh?” Peter sucked on his mini-straw. “What’s it looking like?”

“A circle.”

Peter smirked.

“Tell me something I don’t know about Derek.”

“Well, where should I begin?”

“What’s he do for a living?”

“He’s in the mob.”

Stiles’ eyes widened. He’d had his theories.

“No. I’m just kidding.” Peter laughed. “He’s in management consulting. Head Managing Director of Hale and Whittemore consulting group. They’re a private firm with a little under a hundred offices worldwide, ten thousand consultants, and an estimated seven-point-five billion dollars in revenue.”

Stiles choked. He knew Derek was rich, extremely so, but he never imagined him as some kind of business tycoon. Not with the way he let Erica boss him around.

“Anything else?”

Stiles was still too amazed to think of the next question. Peter waited, whistling the jeopardy theme song. Stiles grinned, knowing this was about to be the lightening round.

“Has he always been gay,” Stiles shot off.

“We've always suspected. Next!”

“Is he ever not grumpy?”

“Not unless he’s ruining someone else’s day. Another!”

“Where’d he go to school?”

“Collegiate, all boys! Exeter, boarding! And Stanford for undergrad!”

“Stiles.” He turned and looked up. Derek who was pretty much dressed with only the top of his shirt left to be fastened. He held two satin ties over the railing and looked at Stiles expectantly.

“Dude neither.” He turned back to Peter. “How old is he?”

“A hundred and forty-three.”

“How old are you?”

“Whatever age you are.”

“What about his family.”

“Certainly not my place to tell.”

“Does he have any exes?”

“Stiles.”

He turned again and glanced up at the two new ties Derek held in his hands.

“The black one,” he huffed.

“Good choice,” Peter said. “And I believe he had a little girlfriend named Sage back in the day. Yes, her name was Sage, rhymes with Paige. Or was it the other way around?”

Derek scowled, glancing bitterly between them and stayed in the hall to button his shirt. He hung the tie Stiles had picked around his neck, glaring at it with obvious hatred. Erica mostly chose their clothes for these things. She usually stuffed Stiles in trim fitted suits and forced him to wear thin colorful ties, while Derek got to dress to simple perfection in remarkably tailored suits.

Stiles heard Derek coming down the steps and stood to meet him behind the couch, seeing that he was still struggling with his tie. “Here, let me do that.”

Derek sighed and let Stiles take the pieces of fabric into his hand. He realigned it properly under Derek’s collar then spent some time roping it into a Windsor knot. Derek grimaced when it started getting tighter and tried to pull away before Stiles could finish. Stiles tried to reach for it again, and they squabbled while Derek attempted to wrangle it out of his hands.

“Well aren’t you two just the perfect picture of domesticity,” Peter said.

“He’d be lost without me.” Stiles winked. Derek frowned deeply, but moved his hands away to let Stiles finish the way he wanted.

“It’s almost 6:30,” Stiles whispered. “We have to go. Like go go. Like why do you always do this to me go?”

Derek grunted and turned back around, walking towards the study.

“And the grunting,” Stiles had to ask.

“Always,” Peter facilitated.

Derek picked something up off his desk and stuffed it in his coat pocket. He raised a brow at Stiles that said, You just said we had to go, and you’re standing there looking like an idiot now that I’m suddenly in a rush to leave, even though I only started getting ready when we actually had to leave, and it’s really all my fault that we’re late, but I’m gonna blame you anyway, so come the fuck on.

Stiles rolled his eyes and followed Derek out, but then remembered his new friend Peter.

“It was so great meeting you Peter. I hope we get to see each other a‒ AH!”

Stiles crashed into Derek’s back and almost fell on his face. Peter had magically appeared in an impeccable suit with no robe or loafers in sight. Derek caught him, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ waist and righting him while he did nothing but gawk.

“I don’t get it,” Stiles whispered. “Is he Batman?”

“He just has a penchant towards theatrics,” Derek grumbled.

“Don’t worry boys,” Peter said as he passed. “I’ve got my own limo.”

*

They arrived at the Peninsula hotel just as cocktail hour for the event they were attending was coming to an end. Stiles glared at Derek pointedly, but Derek simply ignored him like always. As the crowd moved into the dining room, Derek turned and punched Stiles in the ribs.

“OW,” Stile cried.

“Come on. It’s time to take our seats.”

They often got into spouts of domestic abuse. Derek was a dark and insidious soul inside, and while he was supposedly the boss of some big shot consulting firm, he’d never been above putting Stiles in a full nelson. Stiles glowered and moved to hit him back, but Derek slinked effortlessly behind Peter then headed towards the dining room. When they got to their table, Derek pulled out his chair for him and Stiles sat, waiting for Derek to settle besides him before asking, “So what is this thing anyway?”

He looked around the room and tried to guess for himself.

“Don’t tell me. Another charity gala?” Stiles grumbled. The room was stuffed with all the same people that were usually at these types of functions. “You know how much I love those.”

Derek quirked his lips and said, “It’s a presentation. It’s…” Stiles waited, but Derek just shook his head. “You’re not gonna pay attention.”

Stiles gasped. “No! I am!”

“You’re just gonna play games on your phone like you always do.” Derek sighed.

“I don’t always play games on my phone! Sometimes I text!”

Derek was one to talk. He was always falling asleep at these things.

Derek rolled his eyes. “It’s the Argent Cross Global Initiative.”

Well, what the hell did that mean? Stiles blinked, then blinked again until Derek finally stopped dragging it out and told him what it was.

“They’re a bipartisan organization that convenes world business leaders every year to form grants and forge solutions that help corporations enact positive global change.”

Stiles’ mouth hung open. He’d never heard Derek utter so many syllables at once.

“And you’re not going to pay attention. No matter how much Adderall you– OW!”

The tables nearby glanced over at them as Stiles innocently took his foot off of Derek’s. Derek scowled, but there was no way Stiles was going to apologize. They sat quietly as the room filled with more people, then both looked over when someone tapped a finger on Derek’s shoulder.

Kira Yukimura was one of Derek’s best friends. Well, Stiles didn't actually know if she was Derek’s best friend. He’d just assumed since Kira was one of the few people besides Stiles that Derek let hang around him. Another person was Jackson Whittemore, who Stiles had a love-hate relationship with since the two were constantly vying for Derek’s attention. Stiles found Jackson to be a terrible influence on Derek, and Jackson thought Stiles was an annoying parasite. But sometimes Stiles found his antics amusing, even though most of his jokes were at Stiles’ expense.

“Stiles,” Kira said when he stood and did that stupid kissy-kissy face thing that rich people did all the time. “It’s so wonderful to see you again.”

He tried not to roll his eyes. He knew that Kira didn't like him. He had no idea why she pretended otherwise.

“So nice of Derek to bring you along. It’s important for young people to sit in on these types of events.”

Kira obviously thought that Stiles and Derek were an eccentric mix. She never said, but Stiles could see how awkward and uncomfortable she was about Derek dating someone so “young” and “beneath him.” Kira took a seat at their table and went on talking to Derek some more. Stiles slouched back in his chair, bored. Naturally, he pulled out his phone and started playing some floppy bird. He’d lost track of the time when he’d gotten a text from Lydia. They’d been texting all day, and Stiles thought she was pretty great. Stiles grinned down at his phone snorting when she sent him yet another cute picture of her little dog Prada.

He looked up from the screen just in time to find Derek smirking at him and got pissed that he’d proven Derek right. He hadn’t paid attention to a single thing the speakers had said in the last hour and a half. He put his phone away and actually tried to listen to the moderator as he echoed from the podium.

“Earlier last month he won our 2014 Humanitarian of the Year Award."

Stiles sighed, already done. He looked over at Derek and thought he looked a bit tense.

“He’s embarked on a relentless mission this past year to house and rebuild shelters for forgotten survivors of earthquakes and tsunamis.”

He reached for Derek’s hand and moved it away from his tie, giving him a stern look that said, quit it before I staple it to your jugular. The moderator continued spitting out the philanthropic rap sheet of their final speaker for the night, and Stiles was sure he was bound to be the most boring one.

“His wonderful foundation has helped countless families rebuild homes after disaster. His dedication to constructing and rebuilding shelters has largely been galvanized by his own personal tragedy of losing his home and almost his entire family to flames.”

With the way the moderator said that, you’d think it wasn’t a tragedy at all, but some item on a shopping list. Stiles shook his head, perturbed.

“However, all of this still honors and continues to extend upon the work of his late mother and our celebrated Argent Cross Goodwill Ambassador, Talia Hale.”

The crowd applauded politely at the mention of that name. Of course, Stiles knew who Talia Hale was. She’d been like the Angelina Jolie of her time. It had been a huge deal when she’d been killed in an arson attack for political reasons. Stiles had only been four at the time, but he remembered his dad saying something about bad things always happening to good people.

Stiles looked around the room for who the speaker could possibly be and saw that some people kept looking over at their table. His eyes fell on the burns on Peter’s face and he stilled. Could it be? Was his last name even Hale? Then again, Derek’s was so... Gradually, the realization dawned on him, his brain working slow to connect the dots. Stiles stared at the moderator. He didn’t dare look anywhere else.

“And so it is with great pleasure that I welcome our final speaker for tonight... Mr. Derek Hale!”

The room broke in applause again, and Stiles closed his eyes, feeling cold as Derek left his side. Derek walked up onto the stage and thanked the man, calling him Chris. He leaned down to speak into the mic but was stopped by the audience rising to their feet. Derek let out a shaky breath as they kept on clapping. Stiles stood too. He could tell Derek didn’t like it. It wasn’t quiet for another minute as Derek stood behind the podium and stared out at the crowd.

It wasn’t like Stiles could be mad. All this time, he’d wanted to know things about Derek and tonight, he’d gotten his wish. He’d been getting filled in on information about Derek all evening. He’d learned stuff about his job, and his schooling, but that‒ he’d never wanted to learn that and not like this.

Peter glanced over at a very quiet Stiles and leaned in, whispering empathetically, “Silly me. I forgot to add how involved with charity he is to my side of the Venn diagram.”

Stiles gave him a withering glare, but looked to the front of the room when everything had settled down and actually started to listen to what Derek had to say. He was just as boring as the rest of them. In fact, he was worse since he used so many big words and spoke in that unexciting dry voice of his. But unlike the other speakers he was pretty, which gave the audience something to ogle at. Stiles was actually able to listen to the entire thing. He never thought Derek could be this way, completely confident as he spoke in front of a room full of strangers. Stiles hated that he didn’t know this about him. That he wasn’t aware of all the different sides of him. He hated the small space he occupied in Derek’s life.

Stiles tried to remind himself that this was his job, and that he needed to reel his emotions in. But nothing. Nothing could stop him from feeling this. Not Lydia. Not Liam. Not even focusing on all the things he hated about Derek. It was pointless trying to keep it down.

The room stood again when Derek finished and he quickly walked off the stage. Stiles had no idea where he’d disappeared to, but told Peter he’d be on the roof getting some air if Derek ever got back.

Only then, when he was in the elevator did he give into the pain in his chest. He was hurt that Derek wouldn’t tell him something like this after three years. That he hadn’t even hinted that something like that was in his past. Stiles didn’t want to learn things from Peter anymore, and he certainly didn’t want to hear them from some bland moderator at a boring political presentation. He wanted to hear it from Derek. Straight from his mouth.

Maybe Derek had assumed that Stiles would have put the last names together. But there were lots of Hales in the world. He couldn’t know all of them. Maybe he’d thought Stiles would have already known that his mother was Talia Hale. Or maybe Stiles was nothing to him and wasn’t important enough to know things like that. After all, he was replaceable.

Stiles stayed on the roof for a while, leaning against the rail, and looking down at the street in a daze. He’d gotten tired of being so deep in his thoughts, but it was too hard trying to stop the thoughts racing through his head.

“Hey!”

He jerked when someone shouted at him and looked over his shoulder and saw Jackson walking up with two glasses in his hand.

“Don’t jump,” Jackson joked.

“Thanks,” Stiles muttered, standing up a little bit and taking the glass that Jackson held out to him.

It was cold, and honey colored, and Stiles couldn’t tell what it was. He leaned back against the rail and lifted the glass to his lips. He’d intended to down it in one go, but the drink was completely different from what he expected, and he blanched, coughing and hacking through a burning sensation in his throat.

“Good God!” Stiles cried, his face contorting. “Did you poison this or something?”

Jackson snorted. “Like I’d really slip something into your juice box, kid.”

Stiles shook his head and handed the glass back to Jackson, carefully placing it in his hand like it was a bomb that was set to go off. Jackson shrugged and happily took sips from his own drink.

He looked over at Stiles then, eyeing him curiously. “You know, I can never understand why he brings you to these things. He’s always saying you’re nothing serious. Like a pimple.”

“Oh,” Stiles said weakly. This was really not what he wanted to hear right now.

“Yet, here you are again.” Jackson sighed. “Same old Jiles.”

“It’s Stiles.” Jackson only ever called him kid. “With an S.”

“And I’m Jackson with J.” He blinked.

“Oh, a J? I always thought it was a G.”

“I think everyone’s name should start with a J.”

“I agree. It would so much less confusing that way.”

Jackson held out the drink again, chuckling when Stiles took it back. He needed it honestly, even if it tasted like death.

“You are twenty-one, right?” Jackson asked. Now, all of a sudden he wanted to be responsible.

“Twenty-two last month.” Stiles plugged his nose and drained the glass. He pounded on his chest and almost vomited. He handed the empty glass back to Jackson then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, feeling uneasy as a mischievous smirk crept up on Jackson’s face.

“So are you and Derek getting serious now?” He asked.

“No.” Stiles shifted uncomfortably.

“Well there’s press here. So when’s the wedding?”

Stiles sighed. “We’re not getting serious.” He looked down at the street. “We’re not getting anything.”

“Well, that’s just great.” Jackson cracked a grin then composed himself when he saw the unhappiness in Stiles’ face. “For the firm’s sake.”

Stiles felt the effects of the alcohol bubbling inside him. Thankfully, he didn't feel anything else.

He hadn’t realized that Jackson was a part of Derek’s professional life. He’d always thought Jackson was some playboy who Derek sometimes liked to party with. Jackson didn’t look like a person with any real obligations or responsibilities. Once, Stiles had even seen him throwing stacks of hundreds into the Hudson. That couldn’t have been too good for business.

Jackson tsked. “It’s bad enough that our MD is sleeping with some scrawny kid. We wouldn’t want anyone finding out about it, now would we? You’re like his weird little kink.”

“Or maybe I’m just his type.”

“Maybe,” Jackson said. “Which is even weirder ‘cause you’re not my type.

“You’re not mine either, dude.” Stiles scrunched his nose.

They both looked up as the elevator sounded, and the doors opened to let Derek out. Jackson hastily moved away, pointing an accusing finger at Stiles. “Derek, Stiles said he wanted to try crystal meth!”

Stiles snapped his head around in shock. He’d almost forgotten that they were in a competition to the death.

“Did not!” Stiles cried. “Liar liar pants on fire!”

Jackson walked away, whacking Derek hard on the back, then hopped into the elevator and said, “Great talk buddy!” He gave him two thumbs up. “Looks great for the firm!”

Jackson stuck his tongue out at Stiles, and the doors closed, leaving Stiles and Derek all by themselves. For a guy that liked to play the perpetual cock block, Jackson sure knew how to abandon a kid.

Derek raised a brow at him as he sent a scowl towards the elevator doors. Stiles huffed, “He is a giant douchebag! Giant!”

Derek chuckled and the rooftop grew quiet again. Stiles stopped avoiding Derek’s eyes and made a weak attempt to smile at him but failed when he saw what was in Derek’s hand.

He steadied himself, focusing on looking calm and collected. They’d done this before. A handful of times. But he couldn’t help looking a bit alarmed each time.

“I uh brought you a drink,” Derek said. He tried to make it seem casual, but his voice was pinched. “I can tell you’ve already had too many so...”

“Pssht, dude.” Stiles swallowed. “I could always use another one.”

Derek didn’t move to hand it to him, so Stiles stepped up, waiting patiently. He held his hand out and frowned when Derek’s grip only tightened. Stiles decided he’d be the one to take it then and placed his hand over Derek’s, extracting the drink from his hand.

“Thanks, man,” he said.

“Yeah. Sure. No problem,” Derek mumbled.

Neither of them said anything else.

He knew Derek wouldn’t want him to talk about it. It’d been obvious from the start that Derek had a drinking problem and one that wasn’t always so easy to hide. It’d been hard for Stiles to sit back and watch him struggle the way he did, especially when he’d grown up the child of an alcoholic. He wasn’t sure how or why, but at some point Derek’s drinking had curbed. Course, Stiles was grateful it had and offered as much nonverbal support as he could, but Derek didn’t pay Stiles to get all up in his business. He paid him to talk and ramble about nothing in particular. Stiles was great at that. He was a good sugar baby. He’d never cross those boundaries.

Seeing as they didn’t talk about much, it was hard to gauge just how bad things were for Derek. But one thing Stiles had learned over the years was that when Derek bought him a drink, it wasn’t because he thought Stiles was thirsty. Stiles scanned the rooftop for a potted plant or something where he could empty the glass. He looked over at Derek once he was done and saw him leaning against the rail, staring down at the traffic. He walked over and stood next to him, soothing a hand down his spine. It was always hard to think about something to ramble about on the spot. His emergency go-to topic was pigeons. There was lots to be said about them. But a lot of the time it was much easier to ramble about something he’d seen on TV. He’d been watching a marathon of Myth Busters earlier that day, so he went into a detailed episode by episode summary while Derek stood there and listened, loosening his tie.

“So then they did this thing about pennies, right,” Stiles said. “'Cause you know that quote, ‘Drop a penny from the Empire State Building and someone dies.’ Well, I’ve always known that was a crock of shit, ‘cause pennies are only 2.5 grams. Too small to do much at terminal velocity.”

His tongue was moving a mile a minute. “But, I don’t think Jamie and Adam really explored all the penny killing possibilities. I mean what if you emptied an entire jar of pennies off of the Empire State building? It’d have to kill someone right? It’d be like raining little copper daggers! Everyone would have to at least lose an eye, and if that can’t kill a person, well it could sure kill a newborn! I mean I could become a serial killer from up here!”

He flailed and climbed up onto the rail, shouting, “Killing all the newborn babies with inertia!”

Derek grabbed him by the arm, yanking him back down before he fell over the railing and became a splat on the concrete. His fingers dug into Stiles’ arm and he clearly looked pissed. Stiles smiled; glad to see that they were back to their usual form of communication. Except, he wasn’t all that glad.

“You know, you’re always letting me talk,” Stiles addressed this issue. “But you can talk. You talked a lot in there! Gave a whole speech,” He whined. “What’d I’d do for you to give a whole speech to me!”

“I hated it in there.” Derek scowled, looking super annoyed as Stiles pouted at him. “And I don’t like talking when I don’t want to talk.”

Stiles sighed. He wasn’t satisfied, but he’d let it go. He’d give it another minute before he started in on another rant. Pigeons. Maybe he’d talk about pigeons.

“I’m sorry.”

Derek looked over at him and frowned. Stiles frowned too. He hadn’t realized he’d said anything.

“About your family.” He cringed. It was all just stumbling out. “I didn’t mean to– I didn’t know. I am an awful human being for making jokes about you having sisters. Had I known, I would’ve never– that was so so wrong of me and I’m sorry!

He couldn’t breathe or swallow past the lump in his throat. Derek’s hand came up and squeezed the back of his neck, like it always did when his heart started racing too fast. Stiles exhaled, his eyes fluttering closed. Derek gave him a moment before saying anything but didn’t move his hand.

“I do still have sisters, Stiles," he said. "Two actually. Which is why I find it funny whenever you talk about‒ Wait. What are their names again?”

Stiles cracked an eye open. “Bologna and Svetlana.”

“Right. You gave me a family exactly like my real one. You didn’t even think about giving me a dad or a brother or a… mom.”

Derek dropped his hand, and Stiles let out a shaky breath. Derek drew him closer to his side, probably knowing Stiles would feel safe there.

“Well that’s because you look like someone who has sisters that stuffed him in dresses and made him wear makeup.”

“And heels,” Derek grumbled. “They were always making me wear heels.”

Stiles grinned. “What are their names?”

“Laura and Cora.”

“OH!” Stiles snapped his fingers. “SO CLOSE!”

Derek threw his head back and laughed, startling Stiles with how strongly it came out. He felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He loved it when he could make Derek laugh. Derek didn’t laugh often enough for him.

Stiles nudged him with an elbow. "Hey. You were very cool in there. I paid attention the whole time. Now I know all about working towards global disaster preparedness and response through business partnerships and strategy in highly populated areas.”

Stiles smirked when Derek almost hurt himself rolling his eyes.

“It’s very cool you’re like Gandhi.”

“I’m not like Gandhi.”

“You’re right. You’re a lot hotter than Gandhi.”

Derek glowered.

“Fine. Not by much.”

Stiles shrugged. “I’m just proud of you, you know. You always try to help people, especially me. That time with my dad. You didn’t have to do anything like that for me but you did.” He swallowed. “I always think of that.”

He ducked his head. “I’m just glad other people see and acknowledge what a great person you are too.”

“Stiles, I’m not really a–”

“Derek.” Stiles stopped him and shook his head. He wouldn’t let him diminish that. He wouldn’t let him hide it either. “Trust me. You’re the best.”

Derek stood still, staring at him, which kind of reminded him of the first and only time they’d kissed. His gaze slipped helplessly to Derek’s mouth, and he started to get anxious again. He hardly remembered what Derek’s lips felt like, yet he yearned for them. He’d learned his lesson the first time though. He could still hear Derek’s words, reminding him that this wasn’t what they did. Still, he kind of wished he could lean closer and just plant one on him.

Then Derek’s mouth was on him, and Stiles’ eyes flew wide. He had no idea who'd initiated the kiss, but he’d be damned if he didn’t participate. He let out a muffled moan, arms flinging around Derek’s neck, loving how hard and unrelenting Derek’s mouth felt. He hissed when Derek roughly snagged his bottom lip with his teeth, then practically melted when he soothed the bite with his tongue, gathering Stiles close. His thumb trailed gently along Stiles’ jaw and Stiles felt something tighten in his chest. Probably his lungs, since Derek wasn’t letting either of them come up for air. Stiles felt so warm and eager, shuddering when Derek licked into his mouth, then like before was shocked when Derek pulled away too soon.

“We should get back inside,” Derek said, his chest dragging in heavy breaths. He looked down purposefully at the ground. “I’ve got to show my face. Shake some hands.”

“Yeah okay,” Stiles said, but he couldn’t understand how Derek could stand there like he hadn’t just kissed Stiles senseless. He took a step back, trying to piece his life together again. He felt woozy and wasn’t too sure if it was from the kiss or the alcohol he’d had early. He shook his head to get his thoughts to fall back in order and nodded towards Derek’s tie. “Hey.”

Derek glanced down and grumped, fidgeting with the thing as Stiles watched. He lacked Stiles’ finesse, but he got the job done. Stiles would’ve offered to help, but his brain wasn’t working currently, and it felt strange between them. Awkward.

So, he tried to fix it the only way he knew how. He kneed Derek in the balls.

“AH!” Derek cried and doubled over.

Stiles took off. He ran towards the elevators and jabbed at the button but was surely going to die before it came. He tried to find something to cower behind, but Derek was cornering him and growling.

“Fancy place, Derek! We’re at a fancy place!”

There was no reasoning with him when he got like this. Derek grabbed him by the legs and threw him over his shoulder.

“Wait! No! Derek! You can’t throw me off the roof!” Stiles cried as Derek totted off with him. “After we just talked about this!”

*

Later in the car was when things got weird again. This time Stiles wasn’t so sure it was his fault. Really, if he had to blame anything, he’d blame pheromones because the car was a fricken breeding ground. The seats were hot. The air was sticky. And Stiles was just about ready to combust. He’d never had a more uncomfortable boner in his life. Waves were passing through his dick as it lay rigid against his thigh. He ached to reach down and adjust himself, the pressure being too much in his tight dress pants. He took deep long breaths while they drove through Central Park. He really wanted to roll down the window and get some fresh air, but the A/C was on and it was a pretty big limo. Stiles couldn’t be the only one struggling though. He was sure Derek had to be sweating like a pig. But looking at Derek was a risk right now and one he didn’t want to take.

He heard Derek curse as the car drove over a speed bump and jostled the both of them. Stiles would’ve cursed too had he not been busy biting his lip and stifling moans. He heard Derek curse again, shifting in his seat. Stiles leaned his head back against his headrest and tried to focus on boner killing things.

He kept his eyes out the window, looking at the lights as they streaked by. Even breathing was starting to get too hard, and he felt sweat trickling down his chest as his lungs begged for air. When they finally reached Stiles’ building, he could almost faint in relief. Isaac got out of the car and walked around to open the door for him, and he was grateful when a cool breeze wafted into the car.

He was about to scoot out when he glanced back at Derek and said, “Hey. Do you want to come up?”

Derek looked surprised, then quickly looked away. It was the first time Stiles had ever asked, and his body throbbed with want as he waited for Derek’s response.

“I‒ I can’t,” Derek said. He looked stiff and uncomfortable. “I’ve got a flight to catch in the morning.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He didn’t care if that was a lie and that Derek really just didn’t want to have sex with him. He wasn’t sorry he asked. He’d just pretend it never happened and burn it out of his brain as soon as he got upstairs and got a hand around his cock.

“So I’ll see you Saturday night, right?” He asked.

Derek seemed too distracted by something outside and didn’t look Stiles’ way.

“Cool,” Stiles said anyway. “See you then.”

Once Stiles got out of the car, things didn’t ache as much. Isaac closed the door behind him, and Stiles headed for the door. But just as he was about to step inside, he heard a "Psst."

Stiles swiveled around. Isaac was staring at him, and Stiles was seriously going to punch him in the face if he was just going to tease him about Lydia again.

Instead, Isaac flashed him a secret grin. “Don’t worry, Mr. Stilinski.”

He spoke only loud enough for Stiles to hear, but Stiles couldn’t help looking back to the tinted windows of the car.

“I won’t tell anyone. It’s not my place. Besides‒” He nodded towards the car. “We all know how good you are for Mr. Hale.”

Stiles wished he could see if Derek was looking at them right now. If he thought they looked suspicious. But he tore his eyes away and smiled. “Thanks, Isaac.”

He didn't look back to the window as he turned and walked through the doors. But for some reason, he was sure that he could feel Derek’s eyes watching him as he walked all the way inside.

*

It was a true testament to Stiles’ strong sense of self-control that stopped him from googling Derek's name. All of Friday afternoon, he’d sat with his computer in his lap, arguing with himself about all the reasons why he should and shouldn't do it. It was like there was an angel and a devil on his shoulders. Stiles didn’t know who to trust. He was just about to break down when Scott‒ oh glorious Scott‒ walked through the front door with his gym bag over his shoulder.

“Hey man,” Scott said as he entered the living room, and dropped himself onto the couch, throwing down his keys. He was still sweaty from his work out.

“Hey!” Stiles slammed his laptop shut, shoving it onto the coffee table. If Scott thought he was acting weird, he'd just tell him he was watching porn. “Where’s Allison?”

Even normal things that people typically did alone, Scott and Allison did together. They went to the bathroom together, to the gym together, and only ever ate meals off the same plate and would actually starve if one or the other wasn’t around to eat with them. It was madness! Absolute madness!

“She’s having lunch with her dad,” Scott told him.

Stiles’ eyes widened. “And she didn’t take you?”

“No,” Scott sighed. Stiles could tell he wasn’t too happy about that. “Her dad doesn’t like me much.”

“What do you mean he doesn’t like you?” Stiles asked. “You’re impossible to hate. Well not completely impossible since I hate you all the time. But he should be grateful that a man such as yourself is courting his daughter’s hand!”

Scott sunk deeper into the couch, bummed, then perked up to change the subject.

“Allison and I are going bowling tonight,” he said. “Wanna come?”

“And be the third wheel? No thanks.”

“Why don’t you invite that girl you’ve been texting? The one you met the other day. Lydia.”

“No,” Stiles said simply.

Scott’s brows dipped. “Dude, you’ve been texting her nonstop. Aren’t you going to ask her out?”

“Nah. I’m not asking her out.” Stiles stood, walking around the island counter and into the kitchen. Two could play this avoiding the topic game.

“Why not?”

Stiles wanted to stick his head in the fridge and hide, but he sighed and said, “You know why.”

Scott groaned. “Oh no! Not this again!”

They’d had this conversation hundreds of times.

“I’m in love with Derek, Scott,” he said as plainly as he could. “People in love don’t go out on dates with people who aren’t the people they’re in love with.”

Stiles went back to searching the fridge for sustenance and pulled out some leftover Chinese food. But Scott sounded like he was dying on the couch.

“You are not in love with Derek, Stiles. You’re in love what he does for you. Buying you stuff. Taking care of you. You’re not in love with Derek!”

Stiles thought about that, then discarded everything he’d said. To Scott, love was brushing each other’s teeth in the morning with the same toothbrush.

“No. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with Derek.” He opened the microwave, placing his food inside. “I’m also pretty sure that that’s not going to change for a while. So I’m not asking anyone out.”

“Well, what’s going to happen when your little deal is over, huh?” Scott hopped up from the couch, coming into the kitchen.

“What are you gonna do then?”

Stiles looked at the microwave, watching his food warm up. He’d much rather get radiation poisoning than have this conversation right now.

“You’ve spent all this time with Derek, and then he won’t be there anymore," Scott said. “Maybe you should get a friend so it won’t hurt as much. A friend like Lydia.”

Stiles wasn’t really too sure why it mattered. Nothing was going to change how he felt. Derek had kissed him the other night. Kissed him. Which made what Stiles felt so much more real. Stiles knew Derek wanted him. He was just holding himself back. And Stiles could wait. He could wait as long as it took for Derek. He’d already waited long enough.

Stiles was grateful when the microwave timer went off. “Derek is a very territorial person, Scott. If I went out with Lydia, somehow he’d know.” He opened the door and took his plate out, burning his hand.

“How?”

Stiles shrugged. “I don’t know. He’d smell it on me or something.” Stiles was only half kidding about that. “Besides, it’s not like Derek and I are ending anytime soon.”

“You should still have friends,” Scott stressed. “Girl friends. And hang out with your friends in a group instead of staying home all lonely for someone who’s paying you and isn’t even actually your real boyfriend!”

Stiles could’ve dropped his plate. He felt like he’d just been smacked. He glared at Scott, clenching his jaw.

“Okay. Okay. I’m sorry,” Scott apologized but only looked kind of sorry. “That was rude. But seriously, Stiles. You know even I’m a little bit in love with Derek.”

That was true. In doing lots of things for Stiles, Derek had done a bunch for Scott too. Which was why Stiles never understood why Scott pestered him so much about having feelings for Derek. He never listened anyway. He was stubborn, and it wasn’t like they weren’t things he hadn’t thought about himself. Scott was just trying to be a good friend and were this a different situation and anyone but Derek, Stiles probably would’ve been grateful. It was just that Scott didn’t get it. Explaining things to people only worked if they tried to understand. Scott was never going to try. So it was pointless for Stiles to waste his breath.

“You don’t even know what Derek’s thinking, Stiles. Much less how he feels," Scott said. "You have no idea what’s going to happen in the future and you’re gonna regret wasting all this time."

Stiles glanced down at his plate. Suddenly, he wasn’t so hungry anymore.

“Text Lydia dude.” Scott picked up his phone off the counter, pressing it into his hand. “Ask her to come tonight. Derek can’t smell her on you if we all go.”

*

Stiles did end up asking Lydia out that night, but not because of anything Scott said. He did it because he wanted to. Stiles thought they could be good friends. Lydia had a great personality, and to top it off she was drop-dead gorgeous. She was also super witty, and with friends like Scott and Danny, Stiles could use more witty friends.

They’d gotten to the bowling alley late that night. Stiles was actually very glad that Lydia had come along with them because Scott and Allison were trying to conceive their first born right there in the middle of the bowling alley. He and Lydia just ended up competing against each other. Stiles wasn’t so great at bowling, and Lydia won every game. Then again, Stiles also had a terrible teammate who Allison kept distracting. After that, they’d gone out to eat and he and Lydia got to talking some more. Lydia was brilliant. Actually brilliant. She was like a child prodigy or something, and even though they were the same age, she’d finished school super early, and had a job and was focused on her career. Her life was totally put together. Stiles was only just starting to figure his out.

Stiles could really relax with her. He’d even stopped thinking about Derek. That didn’t mean he’d actually ever stop thinking about Derek entirely. Once Scott and Allison stopped sucking face and Allison and Lydia found they were on the fast track to becoming best friends, Stiles got a chance to pull his phone out and check his text messages. He frowned when he saw that Derek still hadn’t answered any of his text.

The two of them didn’t exactly text, per se. It was more like Stiles texted Derek, and Derek acknowledged his texts with his read receipt. Sadly, this displayed the one-sided conversation that was their entire relationship. Stiles tried hard not to laugh as he read over the texts he’d sent that morning when he was supposed to be focusing in his classes:

Morning sugar daddy xx

Read: 9:38am

Hey, you know what relieves stress? Genitalia. Just saying…

Read 9:45am

Dude if you saw me in my lab coat rt now....

You’d totally be spending a lot less time trying not to put your dick in my ass...

And idk actually put your dick in my ass

Delivered 2:13pm

oh come on dude! it was a joke. Don’t freeze me out!

Delivered 3:25pm

Stiles bit his lip and wondered if he might have gone too far. Derek really didn’t like when he talked about sex or intimacy of any kind. He was a prude like that. What if Derek blocked his number or something, or came over and spanked him. Well, Stiles wouldn’t mind the spanking part, but he didn’t want to make Derek super uncomfortable either. He looked down at his phone and started typing out new messages:

Hey!

Still not talking to me?

Delivered 11:05pm

Derek!!!

Dereeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!

Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

eeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

rrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Delivered 11:10

Talk to me Sugar Daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jkfdhglhrslgjlrjg erjglhlgjlrjlghlrejg

:(((((

Honestly, was it so hard for Derek to imagine them having sex? Stiles could imagine it. He thought about it all the time. He saw nothing wrong with it, even if Derek didn’t care for him in that way. He’d always imagined they’d be great together. Derek was the silent type, and Stiles was sure that meant he was an animal in bed. He typed an apology anyway:

Fineee. I’m sorry!
Delivered: 11:25


He guessed it wasn’t good enough:


I promise I won’t say anything like that ever again!
Delivered 11:30pm

This time he’d been earnest. He waited to see if Derek had gotten it and kept checking his phone under the table while his friends laughed. He grinned when he finally saw: Read 11:36pm, happy to be forgiven. Then smirked and started typing more things to make Derek mad all over again.

*

With only two weeks left of his college career, Stiles was starting to get antsy. Thankfully, he had an appointment with Derek later that night, which he was looking forward to. Seeing Derek always had a way of making him forget about his problems. But there was still just something not right between them.

Derek picked Stiles up in the Ferrari, and Stiles went about his usual antics of trying to make Derek deaf. He’d blasted the car with Nicki Minaj, which usually made Derek livid, but he didn't pay Stiles any mind and that completely sucked all the fun out it.

When they’d gotten to the restaurant, things still hadn’t changed. He was kind of miffed about that. Stiles had wanted to formally invite Derek to his graduation that night, but he wasn’t about to do it if Derek was in such a bad mood. Stiles didn’t care that it’d be weird for Derek to come to his graduation. He didn’t even care if Derek met his dad. All he cared about was that Derek was there and got to see how much he’d done for him. Stiles wouldn't have gotten to where he was without him.

Stiles hoped there was a way he could casually slip the subject into his usual ramblings. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal if Derek said no. But Derek was completely distracted and didn’t even look at him once, even when Stiles kept calling his name.

“Derek.” Stiles huffed. “Derek?”

He was getting no response. Finally, he just shut his mouth and pushed the food on his plate around. He wasn’t hungry. He found he wasn’t hungry a lot these days. Derek’s appetite seemed just fine though as he cut into his steak and chewed on large chunks of meat. Stiles looked down at his watch and saw they had thirty more minutes of this. Usually, Stiles loved to spend as much time with Derek as he could, but he didn’t like this. He wanted things back to the way were.

“So.” Derek broke the silence and started a dinner conversation for the first time, like ever. “How was your date?”

Stiles’ jaw dropped and he completely lost all words. Derek just looked at him with knowing eyes.

“It‒It wasn’t a date.”

Derek raised a derisive brow and chewed on another piece of steak. Stiles felt his cheeks burn in shame. He could tell that Derek wasn’t convinced.

“What!" He snapped. “It wasn’t. Scott and Allison were there, and they were going bowling, and Scott wanted me to invite Lydia so that we could be a foursome, and I wouldn’t be the third wheel! Then, we all went out to dinner, where I texted you the entire time! So it wasn’t a date. It couldn’t even remotely be considered a date! Every time Lydia and I were near each other there was at least three feet between us. And okay, I may have flirted with her the first time we met, but I was straight for like two seconds! This time it was all nerd stuff. It was like a fucking science convention! All we talked about was engineering and fields medals. There’s nothing fucking sexy about engineering and fields medals!”

He glared bitterly and said it in case he hadn’t said it enough, “And it wasn’t a date.”

He picked up his fork and stabbed into a piece of broccoli, but he didn’t actually want it. He was too busy seething that Isaac had opened his stupid mouth and made a small situation a lot bigger than it was.

“So Isaac told you?"

Derek just shook his head and smirked. “No.”

Stiles let his fork clatter down onto his plate and stared. “Then how’d you know?”

“Apparently I took a very good guess.” Derek laughed and wiped his mouth with a napkin, finished with his food. He leaned back, relaxing in his chair. The look he gave Stiles made him feel like he was on trial.

“Look Derek‒”

Derek stopped him before he could even start. “It’s no big deal, Stiles.”

Obviously it was.

He flashed an attractive grin. “I’m happy about it actually.”

He was so nonchalant and neutral, and Stiles hated that. He hated when Derek was fake with him. Derek looked him right in the eye and for the first time, Stiles couldn’t discern what he was really thinking.

Derek took a sip of water and cocked his head and asked, “Where’d you guys go, anyway?”

“Bowlmor,” Stiles said. “Then Naka Naka.”

“Oh. What’s she like?”

Stiles shrugged. “Smart.”

Derek waited for him to say more.

“Pretty. A little scary.”

“Huh,” was all he said.

Stiles gnawed on his lip then blurted out, “We’re not going to be anything more than friends, Derek! I’m not like that!”

Derek’s smile only grew brighter. Stiles felt like a mouse in a maze.

“Do what you want Stiles.” Derek chuckled and picked up his glass again. “I don’t own you. You’re not mine.”

*

Stiles knew it was coming, but that still didn’t make it okay. They went out a couple more times before that. Derek had done most of the talking, and Stiles couldn’t even listen to him, too busy wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. He’d guess that it would happen sometimes after graduation, but he was wrong. Friday night, after returning from a yacht party for one of Derek’s colleagues, Isaac had slowed the car down in front of Stiles’ building and stepped out to give them some privacy. The car was dark and the way the shadows slanted made it difficult for Stiles to see Derek’s face. Derek appeared to be in a good mood though. Stiles fiddled with the door handle and looked at the people walking in and out of the building as he waited for Derek to say the words.

So,” he said finally. “I take it you’ve noticed that Erica hasn’t called you about next week.”

Stiles didn’t say anything. All he did was play around with his watch.

“Given that you’re graduating next week, I thought it’d be best if we ended our arrangement now.”

It was weird, but the words didn’t hurt as much as he thought they would. He’d prepared himself. He’d run the scene over and over in his head and made a list of all the things that could possibly happen and what he would and wouldn’t do. Stiles wasn’t going to beg. He wasn’t going to cry. Above all, he was going to be fine. Derek would say what he needed to say, and Stiles would let him. Then he’d be dismissed, more like fired really. He'd get out of the car, wave goodbye to Isaac and walk right into the building. After a while, he’d carry on with his life. That was the way it was going to have to be.

“It’s been interesting,” Derek said. “But it’s time. I’ll take care of the rent and everything else until the end of the year. That should give you plenty of time to find a new place or stay there if you decide to."

He paused, but it wasn’t like Stiles really had any say on the matter.

“The furniture and everything in it is yours. Your allowance will terminate at the end of next week, but if you ever need anything, you can always contact Erica. She’ll still be made available to you.”

Stiles just stared down at the ticking hand on his watch and looked out as a pacing Isaac walked by. He wondered what would happen to Isaac now that Stiles wouldn’t be there for him to drive around anymore. Then he realized that Derek had offered this deal to him, and there were probably lots of other college students that needed this kind of offer too. Isaac would be fine. He liked to think that Isaac was going to be fine.

The minute hand moved, and Stiles just kept waiting for it to be over.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice prodded him. “Is that alright?”

Stiles looked up at Derek, nodding. "Yeah. It’s alright.”

Derek let out a deep breath. “I hope everything works out for you with graduation, and you should go out with that girl. She sounds like someone you’d like.”

Stiles swallowed.

“Alright then,” Derek said and wiped his hands on his slacks, settling back into his chair.

Stiles inhaled deeply and told himself it was time. He pulled at the latch, and Isaac moved to hold the door open for him. He knew that he was supposed to get out of the car and go inside, but as soon as his foot touched the ground, he just couldn’t do it.

“No,” he breathed and turned back into the car, pulling Derek to him. His kiss was broken and desperate, and he made a fist, clutching onto Derek shirt. His tongue delved into his mouth, savoring it. Savoring him. Stiles would never forgive himself if he didn’t do it. Derek wouldn’t kiss him back, but Stiles held onto him for as long as he could until he remembered and forced himself to pull away. Derek was staring at him, astonished, and Stiles realized it was because there were tears falling from his eyes.

“Shit.” He jumped out of the car, hastily rushing into the building and ignoring Isaac who called after him.

It was safer inside like Stiles knew it would be. He pressed the button for the elevator and waited for it to come. Some woman and her dog walked up and he smiled at her, letting them go in first. Stiles asked her what floor was hers and pressed it, then the doors closed, and he leaned against the wall and tapped his foot. Stiles waved as she walked out, tugging at her pit-bull who so obviously wanted to eat Stiles.

The elevator started moving again, and he arrived at his floor. He took out his keys and unlocked the front door. It was dark inside, and a little past midnight, which probably meant that Scott and Allison were out or in their room making “sex noises.” Stiles dropped his keys on the coffee table and turned on the TV. He walked around the island and into the kitchen and pulled the fridge open. He was starving since he hadn’t eaten a thing at dinner, so he warmed up a plate of the lasagna Allison had made the night before. He grabbed a beer and grimaced at the mess of plates Allison and Scott had left on the counter. They must have had people over while he was out. The two of them never fucking cleaned after themselves.

The microwave beeped, and Stiles took out his food. He got himself a fork and put the hot plate down on the island. He blew on his fingertips and thought that at some point they would probably need to buy oven mitts. Stiles had lots of money. They could afford to buy oven mitts.

He was just about to dig in, lifting a bite to his mouth when he felt it coming on. He hadn’t had one in a long time, but he could always tell by the tingle in his toes. He looked down at the plate, but it was so far away. Then he was lurching, falling onto the counter top and heard the crashing of the plates. He staggered back and slid to the floor, dropping his head in his hands.

“Fuck!”

Needles were stabbing every inch of his skin.

He was never going to see him again.

He swore his heart was going to rip right out of his chest.

He was never going to see Derek again.

“Oh fuck! Oh fuck!” He wheezed then heard, “Stiles!”

“Scott! The glass!”

Scott was kneeling in front of him. “Allison! I think he’s having a panic attack!”

Thanks for stating the obvious Scott.

“Stiles.” Scott slapped him lightly. “Count with me, Stiles!” He held up a finger, but Stiles just closed his eyes and pressed his face into his knees. “Stiles!”

But he wouldn’t let Scott calm him down. He didn’t need to breath. He was fine. He didn’t need to count. He was going to be just fine.

Chapter Text

Stiles bought nothing but the best for his fishes. Which was why he often traveled an hour and a half away to an expensive aquatic retailer for top-notch high-quality fish flakes. The trip was insignificant compared to the lives of his little guys. He wasn’t about to let any of those fuckers die on his watch.

Scott had come along to keep him company though Stiles kind of wished he hadn’t. Traffic had put them behind schedule, and Scott complained the whole time about them being late to dinner with their friends. Stiles promised he’d make it quick, but he also had to get a new filter for his tank, and that wasn’t a decision one made on the fly. The bags of flakes he wanted were high up on the top shelf. Stiles reached for them then frowned when he caught a glimpse of his watch and saw time was running out much faster than he would’ve liked. He hastily yanked the bag down then grabbed another bag of freeze-dried krill. He was about ready to head towards the filters when he glanced over at Scott.

“I just don’t understand why your fish can’t eat coco puffs like other fishes.” Scott was scowling down at a box of fish pellets.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Because they’re not that cool, Scott.”

He’d let Scott watch his fish over the summer while he was off backpacking through Europe with Caitlin. He hoped Scott hadn’t been feeding his poor innocent babies any kind of breakfast cereal. Chocolate killed dogs. Lord knows what it could do to fishes.

Scott followed him as he led the way into the next aisle where the filters were. Normally, he would’ve liked to weigh the pros and cons of which Wet/Dry filtration system was best. But that could take some time and since time wasn’t something that they had, he ended up picking the two he liked the best. He’d return one when he had more time to decide.

“You’re a good fish dad, Stiles,” Scott said as he leaned carelessly against a shelf full of expensive aquatic filtration systems. Clearly, Scott didn’t understand the concept of you break it, you buy it. “Kind of like Nemo’s dad.”

Stiles was touched. It wasn’t every day one got compared to a single father who tirelessly scoured the ocean for his son. “Aw thanks Scott,” he said and thought there might actually be a tear in his eye. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

Scott beamed and helped Stiles out with some of the stuff he was carrying in his hands. “I love you, man.”

Stiles’ heart melted. “I love you too.”

Scott took his hand and laced their fingers together, swinging them as they walked down the aisle. Sure, some people in the store would probably think that they were a couple, but Stiles knew that Scott was comfortable enough in sexuality not to care. Stiles also knew that no one could compare to Allison in Scott’s eyes. Stiles was fine with that. Really, there were lots more fish in the sea.

“Did Braeden say Danny would be coming tonight?”

They stopped in front of the wall full of glass fish tanks and watched the fish swim around.

“Yeah. He’s got a break in filming. So he’ll be there.”

“Good. That’s good.” Scott gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m happy that everyone’s back together again. You and Caitlin are back. Danny’s back. You and I have awesome awesome girlfriends.”

Scott grinned, and Stiles looked down at the filter in his hand.

Someway, somehow Stiles had started dating Lydia Martin. Over the past couple of months, he’d gotten so many people coming up to him and asking him how he’d done it. Honestly, Stiles had no idea how or why Lydia was with him. She was beautiful, and smart, and so well put together. She was way too good for him, and Stiles was just lucky to have her.

They’d only been dating for three months, ever since Stiles had gotten back from his trip to Europe. They’d texted and talked the entire time Stiles was away, mostly whenever he could get reception. When he’d landed at LaGuardia airport, Lydia had been there to pick him up, and she’d leapt into his arms and kissed the living hell out of him. And that was how Stiles got Lydia Martin to be his girlfriend. Yeah, it wasn’t the most thrilling of tales, but it was theirs and hopefully one they would someday tell to their grandchildren.

“I mean, you’re doing so well!” Stiles tuned in again as Scott talked more and more about what a great state their lives were in right now. Scott's voice sounded so happy and excited. “You’re not even thinking at all anymore about‒”

Stiles instantly looked away and turned his attention back to the filters again. He wished he could read some reviews online before making such life changing purchases. But these were the risks one had to take in the exhilarating world of fishkeeping. Stiles ignored it when Scott stared at him, whistling and reading the back of the box. Scott must have forgotten. He must have forgotten that they didn’t talk about it. That it’d been five fricken months and Stiles still couldn’t hear his name without his lungs closing up.

For the most part, he was doing okay. After the first panic attack, he’d spent weeks in a hyper anxious state constantly getting them. The attacks felt endless and left him so drained. No one really knew about them except Scott and maybe Allison. Stiles felt bad that he’d put his friends through that. He didn’t like that he was burdening them with his shit. Of course, Scott told him he didn’t mind. He just wanted to make sure that Stiles was okay and be there for him, and he had. But Stiles wanted the panic attacks to go away and never come back. He didn’t want to have to depend on anyone anymore.

Stiles could sense that Scott was realizing his mistake and was conflicted with what to do next. Scott leaned over and started tapping on the glass of one of the tanks. Stiles wished he wouldn’t. More people needed to respect aquatic animals. These fishes had lives. They had families. They didn’t need to be a constant source of entertainment for the general public, especially not in their own homes.

“Hey, Stiles!” Scott hollered even though Stiles was literally right behind him. “Why don’t you get another fish brother for your fish kids?”

“I don’t need another fish kid, Scott,” Stiles mumbled but peered over his shoulder anyway to see which one he was looking at. “College tuition is already looking crazy enough as it is.”

Scott grinned. “My mom says children are a joy.”

Sure she did. A little teddy bear like Scott would probably make any mom happy. Stiles looked down at his watch and saw that it was getting close to five-thirty. They were supposed to be meeting up with Lydia and Allison at seven and since Lydia didn’t like taking taxis, he’d have to call an Uber. Lydia was a pretty high-maintenance girlfriend. She liked to go out a lot and as strong and independent as she was, she still held onto the traditional view that men paid for the check. Stiles hadn’t started working yet. He knew it would take time before he found a job in this economy. For now, he was trying to be careful with his spending. He had a lot of assets and quite a bit of cash, but keeping a girl like Lydia happy cost a bundle, especially if their relationship went the distance.

He was excited about seeing her tonight though. Lydia had a tight schedule, having a real world job and all as a management consultant, but she still made time for him. Stiles and his friends were going out to a new Sushi restaurant for Braeden’s birthday. This would be the first time Lydia was going to meet everyone. He was a little worried since his friends were fucking crazy, and Lydia was really mature and refined. He already knew he was going to have to spend most of the night monitoring how much Danny had to drink and making sure Caitlin didn’t hit on Lydia.

“How do you know which fishes are boys and which fishes are girls?” Scott asked him after spotting a particularly colorful one.

“It depends on the species. Male fishes tend to have more color, spots and stripes. They also have longer fins if you know what I’m saying.”

Stiles held up his hand, and Scott laughed, smacking it with a high five.

“We should totally get you another fish, dude. Oh look at this one! He…She…It looks funny.”

Scott was staring in awe at a small puffy faced fish as it floated around in its tank. Stiles couldn’t help but smile. He was pretty adorable.

“What kind of fish is he?”

“O. cubicous.” Scott turned and looked at him with baffled eyes. “A yellow boxfish...”

Honestly, he didn’t understand how Scott graduated from Columbia on the dean’s list.

“How do you know that?”

“I’m a fish owner,” Stiles said. “It’s my job to know.”

“Oh my god,” Scott cried. “He’s looking right at you!” He tapped the glass eagerly. “Hi fishy! Hi!”

“He’s venomous, Scott.”

Stiles hid his smile as Scott let out a high-pitched shriek and yanked his hand away. He might have forgotten to mention that there was no way the fish could have poisoned Scott through the glass, but it was better that Scott thought so. That way he could stop terrorizing the poor dears.

“I think he likes you.”

“That’s no reason to get a fish,” Stiles told him. “This is a major life decision. I have to do research. Prepare the tank. Find ethical‒”

“I think you should get him anyway.” Scott obviously hadn’t heard a word he’d just said. “You’re the type to give him a really nice home.”

Stiles looked at the small little boxed thing and couldn’t help but fall in love. He wondered what kind of adventures the boxfish went on, being a cube and what not. He wondered if he knew he was a square. Did the other fish in the store pick on him about it, or did they think he was too cool for school? Stiles worried about taking him away from his friends. Change was a strenuous thing. Stiles knew that all too well. But Scott had persuaded him. Damn those brown eyes!

“Alright.” Stiles sighed. “I’ll get the fish. Just don’t complain when I ask the sales associate a lot of questions.”

Scott's face lit up with joy. “What are you going to name him?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“You should name him‒”

“No Scott. I’m not naming him Allison.” Stiles let out a tired breath.

Scott tapped his chin, then grinned, “How about something dirty,” he snickered. “Like Willie Dicker.”

“No.”

His best friend was a two-year-old.

“Seymore Butts!”

“Absolutely not.”

“Master Pussy!”

“Now you’re not even trying.”

“Pee Hole!”

Stiles eyed the fish. Since he was yellow, it kind of worked.

“Alright. Fine.” Stiles rolled his eyes, and Scott pumped a fist in the air. “Anything to get you to stop.”

*

The meeting between Lydia and Stiles’ friends hadn’t gone as badly as he would’ve expected. Had his friends acted insane? Sure. Had they been completely inappropriate and immature? Absolutely. But Lydia didn’t seem to mind. She even found some of their antics amusing which said a lot since Stiles didn’t think anything his friends did was funny. Stiles was actually glad they hadn’t embarrassed him too much. They were all really welcoming, and he was thankful for that. He liked Lydia a lot and was glad his friends did too.

Unfortunately, Lydia had to leave dinner early for a work function. Once they’d finished singing "Happy Birthday" and Braeden had blown out the candles on her desert, Stiles stood to help Lydia into her coat.

“Oh, Lydia! You’re not leaving already, are you?” Danny asked.

Lydia grew a bit flustered. Stiles knew she hadn’t expected to meet Danny tonight. A lot of what she knew about him was probably from the tabloids or TV. Most people were surprised to find that Danny was just a friendly and personable guy.

“I told you she can’t stay,” Stiles reminded him. "She’s got a…a…”

“A women’s leadership conference,” Lydia filled in. “We’ll be meeting and discussing how to turn innovative thoughts and ideas into feasible and attainable content.”

The table blinked, and Stiles knew his friends were just thinking about how drunk they were going to get tonight. Lydia smiled patiently at them and said, “But I’d much rather be hanging out with you guys.”

That got everybody smiling and on the same page again. Lydia turned to him, standing on her tippy toes, and Stiles bent a little so she could press a chaste kiss to his mouth.

“Don’t have too much fun tonight, Stiles,” she said, wiping the remains of her lipstick away before blowing him another kiss and prancing off.

Stiles dropped back into his seat and watched her go. He wasn’t leaving yet. The night had only just begun, and Braeden was one of his all-time favorite people. He wasn’t going to miss out on celebrating with her on her special day. He frown when he realized the table had gotten eerily quiet. Much too quiet to be his friends.

“What,” he said when he looked up and saw all eyes focused on him.

Danny was the one having the most trouble containing his laughter. “Well, isn’t she pretty.”

“Yeah?” That was obvious. You didn’t even need to look at Lydia to tell that she was hot.

“It’s just that, now that you’re not gay anymore, you’ve changed.” Danny took a sip of his wine.

“Excuse me?”

Stiles knew he was teasing, but that hit a sensitive spot for him. He didn’t think his sexuality had changed all that much now that he had a girlfriend. It wasn’t like he was obsessed with her the way Scott was with Allison. He could still talk about dick for hours and dream about someone putting it in him. He hadn’t even had sex with Lydia yet. Mostly, they’d just made out. Lydia had a strict three months no hanky panky rule that Stiles was happy to follow. It wasn’t like he was going to pressure her or anything and the deadline for that had come and gone. They were just taking things really slow and getting to know each other.

“Hasn’t he changed guys?” Danny kept ribbing him. “Look, he’s not even spazzing out anymore or talking all the time. He’s actually sitting still in his seat. It’s like he’s a grown up!”

It’d been quite some time since Stiles had last seen Danny, so Danny hadn’t really seen all the changes that Stiles had undergone in the past few months. Stiles had been a mess after graduation. Going away for the summer kind of made things better. But Lydia was the best thing that had happened to him since. She was good for him. She was so much more mature and organized than he was. Stiles was learning a lot from her. Still, some days it was hard keeping up the act. It couldn’t always work, pretending to be happy.

“Oh leave him alone, Danny,” Caitlin interfered. “Stiles hasn’t changed that much. You still like boys don’t you, Stiles?”

Stiles nodded. He liked people in general.

“Well, I want to know where the old Stiles went. You know the one that used to make monsters out of the wasabi and try to catch flies with his chopsticks like in the karate kid.”

Stiles would’ve liked to know where that Stiles had gone too, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted him coming back. That Stiles had been blissfully ignorant of the pain he knew now. He’d been sheltered and cared for by someone. He hadn’t even known how to be on his own. Stiles didn’t care if he wasn’t as fun for his friends anymore. He’d had his heart broken. Of course he was going to be a little different.

The table grew quiet, and Stiles hated that he was killing the mood. Scott seemed to sense that things were getting uncomfortable for him, so he set out to remedy that. He reached across the table and made a grab for Danny’s drink just as Danny was lifting it to his mouth.

“Hey, Danny. Let me help you with that man,” Scott offered. “I mean, we all know how tiny your hands are.”

Nobody at their table was going to miss that diss, and it was enough to make everyone OoO and start to laugh. A couple of months ago, Danny’s nudes had leaked all over the Internet, and well… Stiles had seen Danny’s dick before. The first night they’d met, Stiles had been star struck by Danny and his dimples and had been so excited to be asked back to his room. When they’d gotten there, Danny told him that he’d never topped. Stiles had never topped either. So they ended up trading blowjobs.

Only, the internet wasn’t as courteous as Stiles was. People were shocked that Danny had nudes. Then they were even more shocked by the fact that Danny could cover his entire junk with one hand. Yeah, Danny was small, but he still had way more sex than Stiles did and wasn’t the least bit ashamed of his body.

“The penis jokes are getting old, Scott.” Danny rolled his eyes. “I’m a devout bottom. Devout.” The emphasis had Scott looking totally grossed out. “And as for my ass, I’ve never gotten any complaints.”

Danny’s eyes landed back on Stiles, an evil glint in them. Stiles seriously wished Danny would go take a dive in the koi pond.

Danny looked at him demurely. “You used to love to bottom too. Didn’t you, Stiles?”

Fuck yeah, he loved to bottom. That was a stupid question. He absolutely adored it. He’d gained some experience topping after that night with Danny, but all it’d done was make him an even better bottom. It was unexpected, the sensations he felt, knowing he could make some poor guy weak like that. He was always surprising himself with how much he could take. It was something he’d never get enough of. But he was fine getting sex anyway he could, and he never knew what Lydia might be into.

“Don’t worry.” Danny winked and took more sips from his wineglass. “I get it. Sometimes you just wanna stick your dick in something.”

Stiles loosened up once they finally changed the subject and started talking about something else. They debated on where they should go for the night. There was tension over whether they should go to a nightclub or a strip club. Half the group was all for the strip club, Braeden included, while the others wanted to go dance. It was Braeden’s birthday, so in the end, it should be about what she wanted. Besides strippers danced. They could all still dance with strippers.

This was one of those times where Stiles wished he had a remote control to mute his friends. He glanced around the restaurant when the voices started to raise, hoping that no one was getting too mad or that they were in danger of being kicked out, and that’s when he saw him.

Boyd was standing across the pond, talking to one of the servers as he towered over her. The girl looked scared out of her mind, and Stiles wanted to laugh since she was like only one of Boyd’s thighs. But he couldn’t laugh. He couldn’t do anything but stare at the bodyguard he knew so well, securing the area for him.

He’d imagined it for months what seeing Derek again would be like. He’d never been sure if he should talk to him or leave him alone. Stiles didn’t think he could not not talk to him. After all, they’d known each other for so long. Still, Stiles hoped Boyd had other clients. Clients who looked nothing like Derek and completely ignored his existence and just enjoyed their meal.

The restaurant wasn’t even Derek’s taste. Derek hated sushi. He also didn’t like rice, and he was always jealous of Stiles for how well he could use chopsticks. There was also that thing about hating fortune cookies, which Stiles didn’t understand. He guessed the fortune thing was too idealistic for a guy like Derek. Stiles crossed his fingers though as Boyd walked back out and prayed that Derek had decided to go eat somewhere else.

If Stiles knew Derek as well as he thought he did, then Derek was going to order the beef teriyaki combo with shrimp and vegetable tempura. Then he’d eat the beef, completely ignore the shrimp tempura and the vegetables, leaving them for Stiles since shrimp was his favorite. On the way home, he’d ask Isaac to stop so he could get a burger. Then, while Derek ate, Stiles would read him an endless amount of fortunes from fortune cookies, since he would’ve probably stolen three dozen by the time they left the restaurant. But Derek wasn’t with him anymore, so he probably did things differently now.

Stiles could barely sit still. He hoped that Scott or any of his other friends hadn’t noticed that he’d completely checked out of the conversation and wasn’t participating in any way, shape, or form. All the noise completely drowned out of his ears when he saw Boyd again, guiding Derek deeper into the restaurant. Stiles felt it, like a punch in the gut, the second he walked in. He looked so good dressed in a steel gray suit that made his features look sharp, and rugged, and mouth-wateringly handsome. Stiles’ eyes could do nothing but feast, having been unable to get their fill for months now. But then his heart sank when he saw that Derek wasn’t alone.

Of course. I mean, what else did he expect? Derek had gotten himself someone new. Someone to fill his place. Lots of guys were probably up for the job, but this guy was perfect. He was ten thousand times hotter than Stiles was. He definitely looked like Derek’s type, build, and muscular, and hot. He looked nothing like Stiles’ pale skinny ass. The two of them took their seats at the table directly across from Stiles and his friends. Only the koi pond and a small garden separated them. All Derek would need to do was turn his head to get a clear view of Stiles across the room. His friends were still being really loud and obnoxious, drawing attention from a few of the other tables in the room. Stiles hoped to god none of those tables would be Derek’s.

He thought it best to give Derek and his new sugar baby some privacy. It hurt a lot seeing Derek with someone else. The position he’d held for three years belonged to someone else now. He wondered how their dynamic worked. He wondered if Derek talked to him and had conversations with him, unlike the way he did with Stiles. He wondered if they got to have sex. If Stiles were Derek, he’d totally have sex the guy. He looked like a fucking model. Derek must have found himself someone really great. Someone interesting, and exciting, who could be good company. That was all Stiles wanted for him anyway. He hated the thought of Derek being alone in his loft, burying himself in work. He’d never wanted anything so bad than for Derek to find someone that could make him laugh, even if that person wasn’t Stiles.

He stared down to his untouched desert and fiddled with his fork, not able to take a single bite of his chocolate cake. Scott turned to Stiles then, laughing and ready to tell him something. Stiles quickly fixed his posture, in an attempt to appear like nothing was wrong, but it was useless. Scott’s face filled with concern and concern wasn’t a good look on Scott.

“Oh shit!” Scott cried when his eyes slid enough past Stiles’ shoulder and across the pond. He grabbed their jackets, already pushing out his chair and looking at Stiles to do the same. But Stiles couldn’t move. Bad things would happen if he moved. Like panic attacks that made him feel like he was going to die.

“Come on, Stiles. Let’s go.”

“No,” Stiles said firmly.

“Stiles, we can leave right now. Just get up.”

“Scott, I’m fine.”

Scott would know that that was bullshit. That was how it always started with Stiles claiming he was okay or fine, only to end up rolled up in a ball inside his shower, trying anything and everything to get himself to breathe again.

“What’s going on?” Danny looked away from the conversation he’d been having with Danielle and frowned.

No one said anything until Scott sighed and nodded towards Derek’s table, running a frustrated hand through his hair. Stiles didn’t look at anyone. He didn’t even try to meet anyone’s eye.

Braeden was the first to break the silence. “Hey! Why don’t we all go?”

His friends all made noises that said they agreed, but Stiles shook his head.

“No. It’s fine. You’ve all been too busy arguing to finish desert. Danny hasn’t drunken nearly enough wine. And Danielle hasn’t even thought about dunking my head into the pond, so we’re staying.”

His friends all looked at him skeptically, but slowly the conversation started up again, although a bit weak. A waitress walked over to Derek and the new guy’s table to ask them for their orders, and Stiles didn’t even try to hide. He blatantly stared.

New Guy certainly talked as much as Stiles did. He waved his arms around and spoke excitedly and barely even stopped to tell the waitress what he wanted. Derek was much slower about it. He carefully flipped through the menu, examining each page while the waitress and New Guy waited patiently. Finally, he lifted his head and opened his mouth to place his order when his gaze drifted and inadvertently landed on Stiles.

He’d been caught, and still, Stiles didn’t even have the decency to look away. Derek’s gaze captured his; the two of them searched each other for the familiar. Stiles realized it was still Derek, his Derek, and felt like he could wave now without it being weird. But then New Guy cleared his throat, and Derek snapped himself away, quickly telling the waitress something that made her nod and take away the menus.

“Yikes,” Danny muttered while all his other friends pretended like they hadn’t just seen what happened.

Stiles hadn’t been aware of just how badly he needed to exhale. He looked down at his sweaty palms and took controlled breaths. He listened as Danny took everyone’s attention away, regaling them with some story from set. He didn’t stop taking peeks at Derek from the corner of his eye and caught it the moment New Guy stood up and headed towards the bathroom.

“Stiles! Don’t!”

But he was already halfway across the restaurant before Scott could even finished that statement. It was pure instinct. There was no hesitation or second-guessing. He just walked right over to Derek’s table and plopped into the seat right across from him. It felt natural to be there with him again. Safe. Derek always had a way of making him feel safe.

“Stiles,” Derek said, like nothing unusual was going on.

“Derek,” Stiles said in an equally drab voice, biting back a smile. “How are you?”

Derek gave his shoulders a little shake, and Stiles had to smile. He was glad to see there’d been no change to Derek’s awful communication skills.

“I’m fine too, thanks.”

Derek leaned back casually in his seat while Stiles fidgeted under his gaze. He felt like he was roasting and decided to do a bit of staring himself. It was overwhelming seeing Derek this close again. He looked different now yet still the same. He’d grown his facial hair out, no longer the clean-shaven Derek he’d known. He kept his stubble trimmed and well-groomed though. Stiles liked it a lot and thought the look suited him.

“It’s weird seeing you here,” Stiles said after a while. He cleared his throat and forced the jitters down. “I mean it’s weird seeing you in general. Not that seeing you in general is weird. Just that I haven’t seen you in forever. Well, forever’s not exactly five months. But still forever.”

Derek tilted his head, eyes assessing Stiles, considering him before asking, “How was graduation?”

That one hurt. Stiles hoped he hadn’t visibly winced.

“It was cool. My dad cried a lot, but that’s what dads do. Also, the commencement speeches weren’t too bad. Caitlin and I went backpacking through Europe after that. It was amazing. I really liked Prague, and Barcelona, and Budapest. Also Krakow. I really liked Krakow. I still feel like I haven’t even begun to see everything. There was so much to see. And you know how terrible my French is. The only word I knew was croissant, so I ate a lot of bread.”

Stiles dug his teeth into his bottom lip. He wanted to say more. He wanted to tell Derek everything that had happened over the summer. Catch him up on what was going on in his life. But he wasn’t sure if that was allowed.

“I got back in time for my dad’s wedding,” Stiles blurted out. “He married that nurse, you know. The one from that night. They decided to elope, those crazy kids. She’s Melissa Stilinski now. Yeah, I feel bad for her too. I’ll be seeing them again around Thanksgiving. But you know me and PDA. Not sure how I’ll handle the whole newlyweds thing.”

Derek nodded, and Stiles twiddled his thumbs.

“So I see you found my replacement.” He checked to see if New Guy was coming back, but he was nowhere in the immediate vicinity. Stiles laughed though the moment was tense. “Dude great choice. Real upgrade. What’s his name?”

“Ethan,” Derek said.

“Ethan,” Stiles repeated. “Derek and Ethan. Sounds like something you’d engrave on an invitation if you know what I mean.”

Derek snorted but didn’t seem bothered. “Yeah well, I don’t see it working out that way.”

Stiles looked up as the waitress came back, dropping off Derek and Ethan’s plates. He smirked at the beef teriyaki combo that sat on Derek’s plate, trying to subdue his laughter that he’d guessed right. But he didn’t need to try for long because the waitress came to the table again, placing a glass in front of Derek which had Stiles frowning all over again.

He looked disapprovingly at the glass, then back at Derek, then at the glass again. Derek sometimes liked to drink a glass of scotch before dinner. He also liked to drink it during and was quite fond of it after. It also wasn’t just one glass of scotch. It was many glasses. Many many glasses. And Derek could fool lots of people but he couldn’t fool Stiles. Not if he was drinking again.

“We should get a drink sometime,” Stiles said deliberately once the waitress had left and Derek picked up the glass. “Catch up. You know as friends. The gang and I are going to get drinks at some bar later if you wanna come. You remember those nut jobs?”

Derek looked over at his table, and Stiles saw that all his friends were looking at him like he was insane.

“We can be friends right?”

He waited to see what Derek what he would do now that Stiles had sort-of-but-not-really said something about it. He watched intently as Derek placed the glass back on the table and set his hand aside. But for Stiles that wasn’t enough. He wished he could say something for real, even though they hadn’t seen each other in months and he’d never been allowed to say anything before. He wished he could tell Derek he was better without it. He wished he could ask him how long he intended to do the whole ‘got it under control’ thing before he crashed and burned.

But instead Stiles just said, “Sorry. I used to consider us friend, at least.”

Now was probably the time where Stiles should have felt that his visit was unwelcome and that maybe it was time to leave. New guy would be back soon and probably wouldn’t be too happy to see that Stiles had taken his seat. But all he did was get mad. Really mad.

“Oh fuck this!” He cried. “You know, I never thought it’d be awkward if we ever saw each other again! I mean we had a good thing! We spent a heck of a lot of time together! I don’t see why this has to be weird!”

Derek sighed. “We were never friends, Stiles.” At least they were saying things out loud for once. “We had a contract and you were someone I hired.”

“Yeah and fired.” Stiles clenched his jaw. “Why exactly did you do that by the way? Just so I know.”

What he needed most was closure. It kept him up at night. It stayed constantly on the back of his mind. He needed Derek to confirm that meeting Lydia had cost him their relationship. That he’d betrayed him somehow by talking to her and Derek was never going to forgive him for it. After that, he’d be okay.

Except Derek gave him an answer completely different from what he was expecting.

“Because no one keeps anything for too long anymore, Stiles.” Derek snorted. “You should’ve learned that by now. Everyone wants something better than what they have. Something more.”

He picked up the glass again, this time putting it to his lips and downing the whole thing defiantly as Stiles watched.

Stiles got it. He understood. Ethan was that something more. Stiles had gotten too old for Derek or too boring. It made sense for a guy like him to want a new toy. So Stiles hadn’t messed things up. Derek had been planning on getting rid of him all along, and Lydia was perfect timing. Basically, Derek had finished with him and had thrown him in the trash. Stiles didn’t know if that made him feel better or worse.

No worse. It definitely made him feel worse. Mostly because all of his pain could have been avoided had he been honest with himself from the beginning, instead of fooling himself into thinking that all of Derek’s money and gifts meant he cared. He’d rather blame himself and his flirting with Lydia for the reason things went south. He’d didn’t want to taint his memories. He didn’t want to regret them.

“It was good seeing you again, Derek,” Stiles somehow managed to say.

He didn’t wait for Derek to say anything back. He stood from his table and walked back over to his own, taking the jacket that Scott held out to him. He really didn’t feel like going out anymore. He kind of felt more like going back to the condo and hiding under his bed.

Scott sent a harsh glare over to Derek’s table then led the way out of the restaurant. Stiles didn’t mean to look back but he had to. Ethan was there again, talking up a storm. Derek wasn’t paying him any mind though. He just slumped in his chair, bored and sipping from another glass. Stiles smiled weakly, remembering their first dinner together. Then, he forced himself to walk forward and out of the restaurant, having been officially dismissed.

*

“So,” Stiles clapped his hands together, “What do you think?”

They were apartment hunting in Brooklyn. Stiles liked Brooklyn. It was a lot bigger than Manhattan and cheaper too. It would be so much harder to run into ‘people who were never your friends’ in Brooklyn.

“I don’t know,” Scott said, frowning as he swept his gaze around the unfurnished apartment. “I don’t think it’s spacious enough for everything we have in the other place.”

Stiles shrugged. “I could sell some stuff.”

“What about your monster aquarium? Where will that go?”

“I don’t know. I’ve always thought we never really needed a kitchen. Maybe it can go it in there.”

“There’s a gas stove in there, Stiles!” Scott gasped. “What if something happens, and the stove combusts, and the fish tank gets hit by a flying oven door, and the water from the tank pours out onto the fire and combines with the gas and makes an even bigger fire that blows up the building and then everyone dies?”

“Wow.” Stiles was speechless. “We really need to get you some cognitive therapy for that negative thinking of yours, buddy.”

“I just think we can find better.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Stiles said, then pulled back the curtains to scope out the view.

It was only the first place they’d checked out, and it was cool, but definitely not what either of them were used to. Most cheap places in Manhattan were a shoebox compared to this, and Stiles really couldn’t go from his huge spacious condo to some hole in the wall in SoHo. So they decided on Brooklyn. Stiles was all ready to convert to the hipster life. He’d gotten himself a beanie and a flannel shirt. The only thing was that Lydia said she wasn’t going to visit him if he lived in Brooklyn, so he’d end up spending most of his time in Manhattan anyway.

He’d already anticipated that this move was going to be a hard one. Mostly because he really fucking loved his place. He had such nice neighbors, and it was so roomy and comfortable. He also had an amazing view of the city, and there was all this natural light. He had his room decked out exactly the way he wanted, and it would probably take a few moving trucks just to transport all of Stiles’ video games and comic books. Most of all, it felt like home, and it was going to take a lot of time before he felt that way about another place.

Stiles wasn’t going to be able to afford the condo once Derek stopped covering rent. Rent was close to ten thousand dollars a month, and Stiles couldn’t even fathom spending that much of his own money on a place to live. He couldn't believe it when he found out how much Derek paid each month. Stiles honestly didn’t need to live in such luxury. He was a small town kid from Beacon Hills. He would’ve been happy anywhere, especially if it was free.

Life was interesting now that Stiles was paying all his own bills. He was finding out more and more about how much things cost. He’d really taken it for granted having someone else pay everything for him. It was hard remembering to be frugal. Being with Derek, Stiles had developed rather expensive tastes. Dining at some of the city’s best restaurants, splurging on all kinds of electronics and gadgets and wearing only designer clothes; Stiles was used to getting everything he wanted. He knew he’d probably never make the kind of income he was making with Derek. So, it was time to say goodbye to the good life.

Stiles closed the curtains and wandered into the master bedroom, trailing his fingers along the cool bricks. He liked the bathroom and the old fireplace, but nothing else really stood out to him. Scott entered the room after him, taking a quick look around, then looked over at Stiles, not even attempting to be the least bit subtle.

So…” He said. “What’d you and Derek talk about last night?”

“Nothing. Normal stuff.” Stiles paused before saying, “He asked me about graduation.”

“That bastard!

Stiles didn’t say anything else. He just looked up at the ceiling, appraising the light fixtures.

Graduation day was something he’d really rather not talk about. It’d been a pretty good day at first. Stiles had gotten out of bed that morning and had dressed in his cap and gown. He’d promised himself that he wouldn’t let what happen with Derek ruin one of the most important days of his life. All his hard work was finally paying off, and he was getting his diploma, and making his dad proud. But as the day went on, things started to get harder. It was hard pretending to be happy and excited with his dad and Melissa. The hurt was still so fresh, and he had to plaster on a fake smile and take a bunch of pictures. He’d put on a good act. Even Scott had been sure he was doing okay. But he wasn’t.

He was angry. So angry. With himself and with Derek. Because Derek wasn’t there. Derek had always been there for him and now he wasn’t. He didn’t understand why Derek couldn’t have waited another week before ending things with him. What was so hard about waiting? It was just one week. One more week and Derek could’ve watched him walk across that goddamn stage and get that stupid ass piece of paper he’d paid so much for. It was just…Stiles never got to thank him. He never got to thank him for everything he did. He hated that.

His dad took them all out to some fancy restaurant after the ceremony. It was a place he’d been to once with Derek, and the memories were killing him. He didn’t like his dad was spending that kind of money on him, especially when it could’ve gone to better uses, but he let him anyway. He did his best to act excited about everything, and when it got to be too exhausting, he excused himself from the table and went to the bathroom. Scott came looking for him after Stiles had been gone from the table for a while and found him crying and hyperventilating alone on the bathroom floor.

It was the longest panic attack Stiles had ever had in his life. He’d been so scared that he’d die there. That he’d never be able to leave that bathroom and that no one would find him in time. It took so long to reach the peak and even longer to slow and decline. Scott had helped him through it and even covered for him with his dad. Ever since, Scott had been over vigilant about the panic attacks.

“That was pretty much it,” Stiles said and opened the closet doors to take a look inside. “Nothing really important.”

“Well, it looked important. You guys kept staring at each other.”

That was just how they were used to communicating. They never spoke about anything real out loud. But he couldn’t tell Scott that. Scott wouldn’t understand.

“I hope that’s the last time you ever have to see him,” Scott grumbled.

“Why?” Stiles frowned.

“Because you’re in a great place now, Stiles. You’ve got Lydia and you’ve been having less panic attacks. You’re getting awesomer and awesomer every day and he’s not.”

“I asked him out for drinks,” he came clean, then stepped inside the closet, closing the doors behind him.

“What! You what! Why would you do that?!”

“I’m a masochist,” he muttered, liking how dark it was in the closet.

“Dude, we don’t ask Derek out for drinks! We don’t ask Derek out for ice cream! We don’t ask Derek out for anything!”

“He said no,” Stiles sighed and cracked the doors open again. “Besides I wasn’t thinking. I have Lydia.”

“Yeah,” Scott said, but he looked so damned disappointed. “You do.”

Stiles was grateful when his phone rang in his pocket, putting an end to the whole awful conversation. He saw it was dad calling and motioned to Scott that he needed to take it, then went out into the other room.

“Daddy Dearest!” Stiles cried once he’d answered the phone.

“Stiles,” His dad said, less enthusiastically.

His dad never sounded happy to talk to him on the phone. Probably because he missed him so much and wanted their conversations to be in person. At least that was what Stiles liked to tell himself.

“Hi honey,” another voice said, this one much bubblier.

At least his step-mom, Melissa, was always glad to hear from him. It was great having Melissa as a part of their family now. Most kids who lost a parent took it really hard when the other parent remarried. But Stiles had wanted nothing more than for his dad to marry Melissa. His dad had grieved the loss of Stiles’ mother for a long time. He'd never even taken off his wedding band. But the night of the stroke, Melissa had been the nurse on duty, and the moment Stiles met her, he knew she was the perfect woman for his dad.

There was just something so special about her. She’d been so kind and had taken amazing care of the both of them. When his dad started to get better, they’d flirted a bit, but never took it past that. Stiles actually had to beg his dad to ask Melissa out on their first date, even acting as his wingman. Watching them fall in love was like watching two teenagers, and it was nice to see his dad happy again. He knew he didn’t have to worry about him as much anymore now that Melissa was in the picture. And they were just so dang cute, especially when they called him and both talked to him on speaker like this.

“Dad. Melissa. I’m a little busy right now. Did you need something?”

His dad scoffed. “What’s got you so busy you can’t even talk to your dear old dad?”

“Scott and I are looking at apartments.”

“Apartments?”

“Yeah.”

“What was wrong with your place now, honey,” Melissa asked. “That place is huge.”

“It’s too expensive.”

“Darn!”

His dad sighed. “I’m glad to hear you say that. I was always worried you were digging yourself holes up there. That place never looked like anything a couple of college students could afford.”

Stiles rolled his eyes and drew up the same old lie. “I told you, Dad. It’s a sublet. The dude that lives there’s in Chile on his Mormon mission.”

Melissa just snorted. “Oh, don’t listen to your father, sweetheart. He’s just shocked at how well you’ve done for yourself up there. He’s always complaining that you never ask him for money.”

“Aw, Dad!”

Stiles kind of felt bad about that. He’d always need his dad. No matter what.

“And don’t you even get him started on that watch!”

Stiles flinched.

“What do you mean don’t get me started? Do you know how much that thing costs? It must be worth at least 10,000 dollars! Did you know that?”

“No,” Stiles said, but if they were trading random facts, Stiles had a good one for him. “Did you know that the moon moves farther and farther away from the earth every year? 1.5 inches. I know. It’s insane!

“I did my research son.”

Stiles sighed. Who gave his dad access to the internet?

“I have no idea how you found that thing on ‘ebay’.”

“I was thrifting, Dad. Being thrifty.”

Usually, if his dad was around, Stiles took extra precautions to hide all his possessions. He wore plainer clothes and moved heaps of stuff into storage. It was really hard to pull a fast one on the Sheriff. But when his dad and Melissa had visited for graduation, he hadn’t exactly been in the best mindset. He’d done a pretty good job cleaning up the condo, but he’d made one very big mistake. He’d forgotten to take off the Audemars Piguet.

It was mostly because he was still hurting. He just couldn’t separate with the thing, even for a small period of time. It probably wouldn’t even have been as bad if it was his Rolex or Patek Philippe since they weren't as flashy. But the Audemars Piguet had been the first nice thing he’d ever gotten in his life, and Derek had given it to him so he rarely took it off to wear his other watches. It showed that Derek had thought about it before picking it out for him. He’d chosen a watch that exactly matched Stiles’ personality. It was funny looking like him and unique in that you saw peeks of the watch’s mechanics and insides, all its quirky gold and silver wheels exposed.

When he’d first laid eyes on it, he’d completely geeked out. He wasn’t really a watch guy, but this one was cool, and it reminded him of robots. But his dad had taken one look at the watch on his wrist and started hollering about what bank he’d robbed or what jewelry store he’d held up. For the rest of the week, Stiles had fielded questions left and right about how he was able to afford things, and since he wasn’t the most creative of liars‒ Mormons. Yeah, Mormons.

His dad wouldn’t let go of the subject that easily though. “I was just telling Melissa that you should sell that thing. Get yourself some savings.”

“I have savings, Dad,” Stiles said, tired of telling his dad and everyone else how fine he was. “I also have a degree from a prestigious university and a beautiful girlfriend.”

His dad tried to interrupt him, but Stiles wasn’t going to budge. “Hey, can we just be glad I’m not Danny Mahelani?”

His dad chuckled. “You need to tell that friend of yours to keep his tongue in his mouth. Every single picture, there’s that damned tongue. What’s wrong with him?”

“Lots of things,” Stiles sighed. “But I’ll tell him.”

“I just worry about you, kid. If you’re ever in any troubles up there, I want you to come to me so we can work things out.

“I will Dad,” Stiles promised. “I’m just trying to be the self-made man you’ve always taught me to be.”

“Yeah,” His dad said softly and let out a deep breath. “Yeah. I guess you are.”

*

He didn’t even know why he’d sent it. He wish he could say it was a weak moment, or that he’d drank too much and had gotten all emotional and sent out a drunk text, but he hadn’t.

Today, 12:01am

I miss you
Delivered

It was the truth. His truth. And he was tired of hiding it from people. He was out with friends, and he was supposed to be having an awesome time letting loose with them at Dave and Busters, but he couldn’t stop thinking about seeing Derek the other night. He should probably be cursing him out since Derek had been an utter and complete asshole to him. He was such a dick, and Stiles hated him. Well...not really.

He needed to tell someone the truth. He needed to be real for one second and stop pretending, or he was going to go insane. Stiles had always been able to be honest with Derek, and there was no one around that he could talk to. No one that would understand.

He missed him. He fucking missed him and seeing him the other night hadn’t done anything to help that. It’d just broken something in him all over again. It was honestly pathetic. Why would Derek even care if he missed him? He’d probably already deleted Stiles from his contact list. They were never friends so why would he bother to keep it? Derek had tons of people hitting up his phone, far more important than Stiles.

I miss you so much and I hate it

I hate missing people

I hate missing you!

Delivered 12:05

He didn’t know what he expected Derek to do with that. Was Derek supposed to run back to him and forget all about Ethan? Then they could spend another three years going out to dinners and charity events and never develop into anything more. He knew Derek didn’t want him. He wanted someone better, like Ethan. Well, fuck Ethan! Ethan could go fall in a ditch somewhere! And even if they were never going to happen, he couldn’t let go of hope. So he waited. He sat in a booth alone and waited for Derek to at least read his desperate messages while his friends got sloppy drunk and played Dance Dance Revolution.

Stiles was used to Derek reading his messages promptly and without fail. He just wanted Derek to know that he didn’t want much. He’d just like some small contact. Maybe they could text each other or meet up every once in a while. Derek couldn’t just disappear from his life for good. He couldn’t handle it.

Some time passed, and there was still no change. Derek’s read receipt said delivered but not received. Stiles bounced his knee and stared at the screen as he leaned against an elbow, reading the messages over and over again. He started wondering if he’d used the right ones or if he should try and say more. But Derek wasn’t reading, and after an hour, Stiles started wondering if he ever would. Derek wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t there on the other end of the line. No one was.

*

It was Friday night and Lydia wanted to go out, so of course they were going out. There was an event at a club called Alpha Pack that she wanted to go to. Apparently, everyone was going to be there, or so she kept telling him. It was supposed to be this big deal, but Stiles wasn’t all that into it.

Derek still hadn’t read his messages, and Stiles had come to accept the reality of the situation. It was time to move on. He was being a child. Heartache was a part of life and lots of people dealt with it. He couldn’t keep letting this eat him up inside.

They stood outside the club, waiting in line to get in. Lydia turned to him, an impish grin on her face, and wrapped her arms around his neck. “We reserved a table for tonight, didn’t we?” She pecked his lips.

“Yeah,” Stiles said, kissing her again. “We did.”

“And bottle service?” She smirked. “We’re so getting plastered tonight.”

Stiles laughed then spotted Allison and Scott walking up and waved for them to join them in line. Finally, when people started moving, they were able to get inside the club. Stiles thought the place was cool; it was all psychedelic and futuristic looking which was probably really great for people who did LSD. There were all kind of geometric patterns running along the walls and bright colors everywhere. It was packed to the brim with people, and they had to battle their way through the masses to get to the table Stiles had reserved.

After dancing for a while and drinking a bit, Stiles kind of wanted to take a break. He’d been forcing himself to have fun, and he’d been successful for the most part, but it was so exhausting. He was sweaty, and hot, and tired of being pushed around by waves of people. He leaned down to tell Lydia that he was going to go sit down, and she said she’d come with. It was hard getting them through the crowd. More people had come, and it was starting to look like a fire hazard. He held onto Lydia’s hand and led the way. He tried to apologize to those whose toes he’d stepped on without losing balance. Then, he’d crashed into one individual particularly hard, enough to make the guy spill his drink all over the floor.

“Excuse you!”

Stiles was just getting ready to apologize when the man spun around and Stiles found himself face-to-face with Jackson. Jackson was scowling fiercely at him, and Stiles wondered if he should take a picture of him and send it to Abercrombie.

“Oh, we’re so sorry, Mr. Whittemore!” Lydia stepped in front of him. “Stiles, aren’t you going to apologize?”

Why? It was just Jackson. Why would he ever need to apologize?

“Its fine, Ms. Martin,” Jackson said through his teeth. “It’s obvious your friend here doesn’t have any manners.”

Stiles was so ready to snark something back, but Lydia spoke before he could. “He really is very sorry, Mr. Whittemore,” Lydia said. “So sorry.”

“Yeah,” Stiles echoed. “So sorry.”

Course he didn’t actually mean it.

“It’s alright,” Jackson said as he wiped down his custom-tailored suit and fixed his hair even though his hair hadn’t been affected at all in the collision.

“Stiles, this is Mr. Whittemore,” Lydia said, presenting Jackson and blinking at Stiles in Morse code like he was supposed to know what that meant. “He’s one of the senior managing directors at the firm.”

Oh. Oh. Oops. Jackson was her boss.

“Nice to meet you, Mister…”

Stiles frowned down at the hand Jackson held out to him. They already knew each other. They didn’t need to be introduced. It was weird having to pretend like they did. Stiles shook his hand anyway and said, “Stilinski.”

Lydia slid an arm around his waist and smiled. “Stiles, here, is my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Jackson’s brows shot up and he looked over at Stiles.

“Yes,” She said happily. “We’ve been dating for three months.”

“Three months?” Stiles could see he was suppressing a laugh. “Congratulations.”

“You know, he’s a really great guy,” Lydia gushed. “He just loves watching the Notebook with me. No matter how many times he’s seen it

He wished Lydia would stop. They were one big joke to him, and Stiles didn’t like being mocked.

“Oh I’m sure he does.” Jackson winked then looked towards the VIP section. “It was good seeing you Ms. Martin. Mr. Stilinski. You two enjoy the rest of your night.”

Lydia waved and Stiles glared after him because for the first time he’d let Jackson win. Jackson had actually won. Fuck he’d won. The second Jackson was out of Lydia’s line of sight, he was already giving Stiles the finger and mouthing “Suck on this, Kid.”

Stiles sighed and looked back down at Lydia who seemed to be deep in thought. Allison rushed over and grabbed her when a new song came on, pulling her towards the dance floor. Lydia laughed and let herself be pulled. “I’ll be right back,” She called to him, blowing him a kiss.

He made his way over the bar. After that confrontation with Jackson, he needed a drink. It was weird running into Jackson like that. Sure, Stiles hated him, but it was sort of nice to see him too. They had their share of memories. Like the time Jackson had taught him how to smoke his first Cuban cigar. Or the time Jackson had taken him to his first Casino. Or the time‒ Okay. So Stiles wasn’t going to come up with any memories of Jackson that didn’t include the total corruption and degradation of Stiles’ innocence. Then again, if he was never friends with Derek, then he must’ve never been anything with Jackson either. The thought kind of depressed him.

The bar was in a much calmer lounge area, and Stiles was just happy about that. There weren’t too many people around where he stood which was nice. He leaned over, raising a hand to flag down the bartender, when a Vesper Martini slid out in front of him.

It wasn’t what he was going to order, but it was his all-time favorite drink. Not many people would know that. Because if they did know, they’d also know that Stiles had discovered he liked boys after watching a bunch of James Bond movies. And there was only one person that knew that.

“Derek,” Stiles said and turned his head, his heart hammering in his chest when Derek came into view. “What are you doing here?”

Derek nodded towards the VIP section. “The owners. They’re good friends of mine.”

Stiles looked up to where he’d motioned his head and stilled when he saw two Ethans standing on the balcony. Either Stiles was really drunk and seeing doubles or Ethan had a twin. As if they’d felt Stiles’ eyes on them, the twins turned around and raised a glass at Derek.

“Huh,” was all Stiles said when Derek waved back. He blushed at having made the wrong assumption the other night. Ethan was obviously a business associate and not a new sugar baby. Derek was an asshole for letting him think otherwise.

Derek pushed the martini towards him again. “The drink you wanted the other night.”

Stiles took a breath, a little winded. “Right. Yeah. Thanks.”

Derek leaned against the bar, and Stiles felt nervous all of a sudden now that he was there. He was happy to see him though. Derek looked great in a sharp-looking midnight blue suit. Stiles had always liked him in blue. He lifted the glass to his mouth and hid a grin as he took a small sip. The drink was good, but it was more than that. Derek was trying to be his friend. Derek had broken it and now he was trying to fix it. Like he always did.

“Want to come up,” Derek asked, flashing him a gorgeous smile. Stiles inhaled sharply. Maybe he should tell Derek he didn’t need to try so hard because that smile had almost killed the both of them.

“Uh.”

Derek didn’t wait for him to respond before he turned and walked away, starting up the steps. Stiles hastened to follow, leaving the drink behind. He never liked drinking in front of Derek anyway. The bouncer let them in, and Derek led them to a quaint corner in the room where they took their seats. Stiles sat next to him, anxious. They’d done this so many times before, so it should be easy. Only this time, Stiles was surprised to see that he had Derek’s full and undivided attention.

“So,” Stiles tried to make small talk. “I take it nothing’s new with you?”

Course Derek wasn’t going help out, so he scrambled for something to talk about.

“I see you nixed the tie tonight.” He glanced down at Derek’s collar, where his neck was exposed, and the top few buttons had been left unfastened. “Did it die a horrible death? Was an axe involved? An axe was totally involved. Did you put it in the shredder? You so put it in the shredder. Run it over with your Ferrari? You look like you ran it over with your Ferrari.”

Derek sighed, shaking his head. “Really, Stiles. Drunk already?”

“Drunk?!” Stiles gasped. “I’m not drunk!”

Derek lifted a brow.

“I’ll have you know that wasn’t even my first drink of the night! And if you would’ve let me order wine at dinner before I was twenty-one, then I’d have a much stronger tolerance today, and that would be the end of global warming.”

Derek shrugged. “It’s your fault. You’re the one that told me your dad was a sheriff.”

On the other side of the country!

“Still a sheriff.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t take you as someone who’d be so afraid of law enforcement. Besides, I wouldn’t have let him arrest you. Shoot you, definitely. But not arrest you.”

Derek chuckled then looked away, eyes wandering off. Stiles followed where they’d gone and found that Derek was glaring at some woman sitting at a table with Jackson. The woman had her chin haughtily up in the air, glaring back at Derek just as menacingly.

Stiles blinked, not understanding what he was witnessing. “Is that your arch nemesis?”

“Sister. Same thing.”

Stiles gawked. She was Derek’s sister? She didn’t look a thing like him. She was paler compared to him, and her hair was a few shades lighter too. Derek’s family obviously had some amazing genes, because Derek’s sister was seriously hot. Stiles wondered what kind of relationship she and Derek had. It couldn’t be a good one if they were glaring at each other in the middle of a nightclub.

“Which sister,” Stiles asked, so intrigued.

“Cora,” Derek said and a corner of his lip hiked. “Svetlana.

She kind of looked like a Svetlana. She was so severe looking and had her hair in a tight bun. Cora must’ve taken after Derek because she scowling at everyone, most especially Jackson, who’d popped a champagne bottle open and spilled some on her.

Stiles grinned and shifted closer. It wasn’t necessary for them to be so close. There was lots of room on the cushion, and Derek wasn’t having any trouble hearing him over the music. Derek didn’t seem to mind anyway.

“Hey, are parties even your thing?” Stiles asked. “You look like the kind of guy that would flip over a DJ booth.”

Derek sighed “No. They’re not my thing.”

“How’d you know I was drunk so fast?”

“You talk gibberish when you’re intoxicated.”

Stiles snorted. “Well, I always talk gibberish.”

“It different when you’re drunk. It’s like you think you’re saying words but can’t hear yourself talking and don’t realize everything that’s coming out your mouth sounds like one big gargle.”

Stiles jaw dropped, and Derek threw his head back and howled at the offended look on his face. Stiles glared, but the laughing only got harder. He waited but it didn’t stop. Stiles rolled his eyes. Derek wasn’t even a little bit funny.

“Yeah well, you understand me don’t you?” Stiles said over the cackling. “You’ve always been the only one that does.”

Derek got quiet then and gave him an odd look. Yeah, Stiles might have poured it on a bit thick there. He liked this though. He liked that they were friends.

“Um. Thanks again for the drink,” he said and stood, looking over at the stairs. “But I should probably get back.”

“Yeah,” Derek said and looked over at Jackson and Cora. “I should too.”

*

“Fuck, Stiles!”

His back slammed hard against the bathroom door as they both stumbled their way into the room.

Stiles moaned, twisting his fingers in Derek’s hair, their mouths barely parting as Derek got them inside. He yanked at the flaps of Derek’s suit, wanting him closer, needing it. He was starting to feel light-headed. Derek had an arm wrapped around his waist and a hand palming his ass, and Stiles just couldn’t deal. Derek’s touch was a little too hot for him. He felt like he was dissolving in flames.

“C’mere,” Stiles said after glancing around the surprisingly empty bathroom.

He led him towards the stalls, walking backwards with a good grip on Derek’s shirt. They managed not to brain themselves as they fell clumsily into one of the stalls. Stiles only had a second to breathe before Derek was claiming his mouth again and crushing him against the stall door. He whimpered as Derek attacked his mouth. It felt glorious, Derek giving him what he wanted. Stiles wanted even more.

"Show me your dick,” He panted. “Right now. I wanna see it.”

Derek wasn't paying attention, too busy rubbing his prickly stubble along the groove of Stiles’ neck and sucking bright red marks into the sensitive skin there. Stiles cried out, his eyes popping open as he trembled. Derek’s mouth covered his again, smothering all the noise he was making.

He yanked at Derek’s hair, pulling him off. Derek tried for his lips again, but Stiles turned away. He didn’t want kissing anymore. He wanted to see Derek’s dick. And if it wasn’t out in the next five seconds, he was seriously going to kill something.

He growled. “Show it to me.”

Derek grunted but let himself be pushed away, sighing and reaching for his belt. Stiles licked his lips and watched as Derek’s shaky hands struggled to unbuckle his pants. He decided he should help out.

“Let me do it. You’re taking too long.

“I’ve got it,” Derek muttered.

Stiles doubted that.

“I said I’ve got it.”

Stiles tapped his foot testily.

“You know this would go a lot faster if you weren’t so-”

Stiles cut him off, undoing his belt buckle in a matter of seconds. Derek grumbled something indignantly as Stiles nibbled at his ear and didn’t pay him any mind. He pushed Derek’s pants down further. This was the first time he was ever going to see it. Derek’s dick. He didn’t want to rush it. He wanted to go slow, unwrapping him like a present. Stiles slid a hand over the bulge in Derek’s boxers, and Derek hissed, his breath loud in the quiet bathroom, the music thumping away in the distance. Derek’s eyes were hungry and so intoxicating, and Stiles could tell how desperate he was for his touch. Stiles grinned and pushed down the band of the boxers, delicately unveiling him.

He was kind of scared to look. Because after three years of imaging what Derek’s dick looked like, he’d be pretty pissed if it wasn’t up to par. It had better be the prettiest dick he’d ever seen. The unicorn of dicks. Which only came out every three years because Derek was such cock tease. Ugh, Stiles hated him. He hated him so much. Well...not really.

The second Stiles caught sight of Derek’s girth, his mouth went dry. Derek was beautiful. Seriously beautiful. Stiles couldn’t do anything but stare in amazement. He wrapped a hand around Derek’s cock, giving it a light squeeze. He liked how it curved a bit. He also liked that Derek was uncircumcised. Stiles loved his cocks uncut.

Derek breath hitched, and he groaned as Stiles took firmer strokes. “I always thought you’d be small.” Stiles chuckled, his voice hoarse. “Since you never wanted to have sex with me.”

He stared down, slowly gliding his hand. “You’re supposed to have bacne.”

Derek lunged out a hand, unbuckling his jeans.

“A third testicle. And-”

Derek wasted no time, reaching into his pants and pulling him out.

“Genital herpes.” Stiles moaned, closing his eyes. He leaned his head back as Derek clasped a hand around his dick, swiping a thumb against the leaking head. “You don’t have herpes right?”

Derek shook his head. Stiles sighed and leaned forward, rubbing his cheek against Derek’s coarse one. He loved the smell of Derek’s cologne. Loved his broad chest and shoulders. Loved how good it felt to be with him again.

“Deep down, I knew you’d have to be perfect,” Stiles said. “Since the universe just isn’t fair.”

Derek’s eyes were blown as he lifted Stiles’ chin, tilting his head back. He didn’t kiss him though. Their lips barely touched. For a moment, Stiles couldn’t believe they were really here together. That this was really happening. He’d thought about this a lot. Maybe a little too much. He’d waited though. He’d waited so long.

Derek stuck a hand under Stiles’ shirt, his touch boiling against Stiles’ skin. Stiles wanted to touch too, but Derek’s shirt had too many buttons. Way too many buttons. So, he dug his nails into Derek’s firm ass, pulling Derek towards him until their stiff cocks were nudging against each other.

“Fuck!” Derek cried.

Stiles arched, adding more pressure as he grinded against him until Derek was groaning, helplessly rocking back and forth. He wedged a hand between them, grabbing the both of him in his hand. He stared down at the two of them rutting against each other. He was getting close, and he could see Derek was too.

“Good?” Stiles asked.

Derek nodded.

“Yeah,” Stiles murmured. “So fucking good.”

He pumped his hand faster, frantic now to get them both off. They swore, and groaned, and cursed as they got closer. Derek was squeezing his eyes shut, and Stiles saw he was only seconds away. He quickly pulled away.

Derek’s shout was loud at the loss of contact. He growled dangerously, reaching for Stiles who easily eluded him.

“Sorry, dude,” Stiles smirked. “But I’ll die if I don’t get to suck you off.”

Stiles traded places with him, leaning him back against the stall. He dropped to his knees in front of him, waiting while Derek got control of himself. Derek ran a thumb along his bottom lip, his eyes starving and black. Stiles simply parted his lips, and Derek cursed, then pushed himself in.

He took as much of Derek in as he could, slurping dirtily until Derek’s cock was slick and wet and leaking onto his tongue.

“Mother of-,” Derek cried, hitting his head hard against the stall.

Stiles would’ve laughed if he wasn’t gagging on cock. Derek had never asked, but Stiles considered giving blowjobs to be a talent, and Stiles was very talented. He pulled off, teasing the tip with a flattened tongue. He looked up, not wanting to miss a single expression on Derek’s face, so pleased with the wrecked look on Derek’s face when Stiles swallowed him and Derek hit the back of his throat.

Derek’s fingers trailed lightly along the base of his neck, driving him insane. He took him deep, over and over again until Derek was arching and gripping hard onto his hair.

“Shit. Stiles,” Derek groaned. “I’m gonna‒”

Stiles hummed.

“Holy shit!”

He wanted to taste him. He wanted Derek to come in his mouth.

“Fuck! Fuck! Stiles!”

His tongue worked skillfully, his mouth wet. He pushed him in until his nose was buried in the nest of hair. Until Derek was shouting and shaking, completely arched off the stall, legs quivering as he burst into Stiles’ mouth and shot down his throat.

Things got a little hazy after that.

*

Sunlight streamed in through his window, roughly waking Stiles up. He groaned and pulled his pillow over his head, trying to block out the light. He didn’t know what hurt more, the headache from the hangover, or his boner. Really, Stiles was too old to be having wet dreams, but that dream with Derek was hot.

It wasn’t the first time he’d dreamed about him. But that one was so surreal. He reached out to his nightstand to feel for the top draw. Got out the bottle of aspirin he so desperately needed. Opened it. Swallowed a pill dry. Then, stuffed his head back under his pillow again.

He’d dozed off for a bit, and when he opened his eyes again, the clock said noon and he knew it was time to get up. He searched for his phone. He couldn’t get out of bed without looking at his phone. It was a morning ritual, right along with his morning piss. He found it under the covers and was glad to see it wasn’t completely dead even though he’d been too drunk to put it on the charger. At least he hadn’t slept naked on the rug again. That had happened too much. With some squinting, he saw he had two new messages:

Today 4:21am

Ttoo drumnlk goingdf hfome witth Alleison

Eeext emeee geet home
Read 4:22am


Homne

Stiles laughed. If he wasn’t so obsessed with Derek, he’d probably think he and Lydia were perfect for each other. He was glad to know she’d made her way home okay. He had no idea how he did. He’d call her later to see how she was doing and if she was hungover too. If she was, he’d try to bring her some greasy foods to make her feel better.

Stiles closed out of their conversation and frowned when he saw that the other message was from his bank. He opened it, then shot up, not sure if he was reading it correctly. He texted back again but still saw the same thing. Nope, Stiles hadn’t deposited any money into his account. He hadn’t even gotten out of bed, yet. Stiles had no idea where that was coming from.

“What the actual fuck?”

He frowned, then reached deep into the back of his mind, really reached, trying to remember what he’d done yesterday. Had he gone to the bank yesterday, or the day before, or was it the day before that? Then his brain froze, and his eyes widened, the phone dropping right out of his hand.

*

Stiles didn’t even bother with a polite knock. He went for the loud fist banging one. The one people got when they’d been masturbating for too long in the shower. Stiles hoped Derek was asleep. He hoped Derek was passed out in his bed, snoring peacefully and cuddling with a teddy bear. He hoped he’d been scared out of his mind by the loud banging. But it was one o’clock in the afternoon, and guys like Derek never slept past one ’o’clock in the afternoon.

So, he hoped Derek was taking a cat nap or a little siesta! He hoped Derek was doing something important and was so engrossed in it that Stiles’ knocking would make him piss himself. He hoped Derek was baking a soufflé! He hoped he was smoking pot! Stiles liked the pot idea best, because Derek would think it was a SWAT team breaking down his door instead of a very pissed off ex-sugar baby. But Boyd was the one to answer.

“Mr. Stilinski,” Boyd said. Stiles felt bad. He hoped he hadn’t scared Boyd too much. He was such a gentle creature. Boyd was looking at him like he was trying to figure out if he was coming in peace or was a threat. Hell yes, he was a threat! Boyd should really be in fear for the life of his employer.

“Sorry Boyd,” Stiles said, walking right past him. “Can’t talk. Really hungover and pissed. But for the most part, hungover.”

He stomped into the loft, wincing as his brain jostled with every step. Then he cried out in pain, trying to shield his eyes from the burning rays of sun that came in through the loft’s giant windows. He ducked through the kitchen and located Derek in the study on the phone. Stiles went right to the refrigerator, knowing that Derek had spotted him, and pulled out a bottle of Gatorade. He needed the electrolytes.

“I’ve got to go, Laura,” Derek said to the person on the phone, then mumbled, “No. I won’t call you back.”

He hung up and stood from behind his desk. Stiles glared pointedly at him and chugged Gatorade. If looks could kill, well…

“Stiles,” Derek said as he walked into the kitchen.

“Derek,” Stiles said back, though with much more scorn. He finished the first bottle of Gatorade, then went back into the fridge and got out another one. He was going to need like a pack of these.

“I see you remembered last night.”

“Last night?” Stiles played dumb.

“You got very drunk, and I took advantage of you.”

“Took advantage of me?!” Stiles screeched.

So that's what Derek thought? Was he a fucking idiot? Did he really think Stiles was some kind of damsel in distress? They’d both jumped each other simultaneously at the club, but Stiles swore he’d been half a second first.

“How could you, Derek!” Stiles blasted, his tone dripping with sarcasm. “How could you take advantage of me like that and allow me to get on my knees and perform sexual acts on you that I’ve been dying to perform on you for the last three years! How dare you inflict your sexual willies upon my sexual willies!”

Derek rocked back on his heels. “It easily could have been a mistake. You were in no shape to be doing what we did, Stiles.”

It hadn’t been a mistake, though. For either of them. Not with the way Derek’s eyes had just slid down to his mouth. He tingled, remembering how Derek tasted, and how good he felt against him, then remembered that he was supposed to be mad. He revved up his anger again, prepared to throw knives if he had to.

“So,” Derek said, “Aren’t you going to tell me why exactly it is that you’re mad?”

“Because!” Stiles slammed the bottle down onto the counter. Gatorade flew everywhere. “You paid me!”

Derek winced.

“You paid me six thousand dollars for a blowjob! Like I’m some escort! Am I that good, Derek? Six thousand dollars? What the fuck is wrong with you!”

Derek furrowed his brows. “I don’t understand.”

“What part didn’t you understand?”

“The part where you’re mad about me depositing money into your account when you’ve never been mad about me depositing money into your account before.”

“That’s because you ended the deal, Derek!” Stiles stabbed a finger in his chest. Derek had pushed him too far this time. He was now forced to assume the role of Muted Barbarian Derek. “Don’t you remember? You were all, ‘we’re done here’ and I was all, ‘Oh…?’ Then you were all, ‘we were never friends’ and I was all, ‘Oh.’”

“I used to sound like Mary Poppins. Now, I sound like a slow Arnold Swartzennerger.”

“That’s because you are a slow Arnold Swartzeneger, Derek!” In actuality, he’d been shooting for Bill Clinton. “Take it back!”

“No.”

“Take it back right now! You are not paying me for sex! So get this out of my account!”

“No,” Derek said and walked away back into the den.

Stiles stalked after him. “No?” He climbed up onto the couch. “You’re saying no?! I just found out my mouth is worth six fucking thousand dollars! Which means you can never tell it no!”

Derek sighed, ignoring him.

“Well, alright then, Big Guy.” Stiles hopped down from the couch and unzipped his hoodie, tossing it over his shoulder. “If you’re not going to take it back, then you’re going to have to actually fuck me.”

“Stiles.” Derek looked alarmed.

“It’s called compromise. Actual fucking problem solving Come on. Let’s go. Let’s do this.”

He took Derek’s face into his hands, drawing him toward his lips, so close to pressing their mouths together when Derek turned his head.

“I can’t.” He pried Stiles’ hands off.

“Why not?” Derek certainly hadn’t had a problem doing this last night. Stiles was honestly going to kick him in the shin if he did that whole ‘this isn’t what we do’ thing again. “Have you actually come to your senses and realized how stupid it is to pay for sex that someone’s offering you for free?”

“No,” Derek said. “Because it’s a bigger deal.”

“Excuse me?”

Was Derek saying what Stiles thought he was? Had sex been a big deal for him this whole time? Did he have a promise ring? Was he saving himself for marriage? He kind of threw that all away when he’d let Stiles jack him off and stuck his dick in his mouth.

Sure, Derek was a monk, but he couldn’t have meant it that way. Sadly, this was one of those awful times where Derek decided to have an entire conversation with him using solely his eyebrows. Derek’s bushy brows did some raising and dipping, then a little more dipping, before one raised and stayed there. It was obvious Stiles was missing something.

“A deal.” Derek finally laid it out. “Like before.”

Stiles found himself getting more and more confused. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Our last arrangement ended, Stiles. And like everything else between us, last night was a transaction.” Derek paused. “Now, I don’t usually like to make the same deals twice...”

Stiles' stomach dropped. He couldn’t believe this was happening again. That he'd let Derek hurt him once more. Was this going to be a pattern? Where he opened himself up and poured his soul out only to have Derek completely shut him down? But then Derek’s eyebrows were doing a dance, and they seemed to be telling him otherwise.

“…But you will for me.” He paced himself, trying not to get his hopes up. “Is that what you’re saying? There’s a deal on the table?”

Derek nodded. “I don’t expect you to agree. Mostly, because you’re involved with someone else.”

Stiles didn’t even want to know how Derek knew about his relationship with Lydia. Maybe Jackson had said something.

“What’s the deal,” Stiles asked.

This was a bad idea.

“A couple times a week, you come when I want and we fuck.”

A horribly bad idea. A terribly, horribly bad idea. Yet, Stiles burned for it. He wanted it so bad.

“What’s in it for me?”

Derek shoved his hands in the pockets of his slacks. “In exchange,” he paused, “I’ll give you nine thousand dollars-”

“Nine thousand dollars!”

“-a week.”

Stiles squawked, standing in a state of shock. He took long deep breaths and counted to ten. He thought he might be having a panic attack and didn’t even know it. It was a while before he could speak again.

“Who have you actually ever offered this deal to before? I’m a college graduate with not a cent of student debt thanks to a church of helpful Mormons and an idiot sugar daddy. What the actual fuck would I be doing with thirty-six thousand dollars a month? Some people don’t even make that in a year!”

Derek shrugged.

“I don’t need nine thousand dollars to have sex with you, Derek!”

Derek snorted. “Which is why I never offered.”

There was an insult in that somewhere, but Stiles wasn’t going to waste his time trying to figure it out. Derek took a seat in one of the armchairs, leaning back and kicking his feet up onto the coffee table, his eyes watching Stiles, and Stiles wondered if there’d ever come a day where he finally understood him. All his past experience was telling him that he shouldn’t do this. That he should run like hell from this deal. Derek was a dangerous man to do business with. That he already knew. He should walk out right now. Get out of there and never look back. He could even head over to Lydia’s with some take out and spend the day with her. But this was Derek, and Derek had a way of messing with his self-control.

“Twenty-five hundred,” he said weakly.

Derek dropped his feet, sitting up straight. “What? “

“Twenty-five hundred,” Stiles said again. “Like before.”

Derek stared at him, his falling open slightly. “You’re considering the-”

“Of course I’m considering the deal,” Stiles snapped.

Derek sat back and looked like he was thinking carefully about the offer. He pursed his lips, tapping his fingers against the armrest.

“No,” he said.

“Why not?” He was getting real tired of hearing Derek say no to him.

“Because this won’t include dinners, and dates, and Ericas. This is sex. Just sex. When I want you, I get you. Nothing else.”

Something hot pooled deep in the pit of Stiles' stomach, and he felt the willpower melting away inside of him.

“Okay.”

“I won’t accept your negation of twenty-five hundred dollars a week. Not if you’re paying all your own bills.” He muttered, “You don’t even want to know how much I used to spend on you in a month.”

“Why am I so expensive?”

“Erica says you’re a growing boy.”

Stiles tried to think of a number he’d be comfortable with, but truthfully there wasn’t a single one he could think of. This was ludicrous. Stiles wasn’t even worth a penny, much less nine thousand dollars. Derek was seriously getting ripped off.

“How about four thousand a week,” Stiles said.

Derek scoffed.

“I really don’t need the money, Derek. I’m doing okay, and I’ve got some saved up.”

“What about that girlfriend of yours? Doesn’t she get expensive?”

Stiles chewed on his lip. “Forty-five hundred? Eighteen thousand a month should be good.”

Derek shook his head. “Nine thousand”

Stiles took a deep breath. “Fifty-five hundred.”

“Nine thousand.”

“Fifty-six?”

“Um… let me think about it. Nine thousand.”

“Dude, you have got to come down!”

“Why?” Derek laughed.

Stiles gritted his teeth. “Because you do!”

“Fine. Eight thousand nine hundred.”

“Six thousand!” Stiles shouted, growing more and more irritated by the second. He was going to wring Derek’s fucking neck.

“Eight grand.”

“Six!”

“Eight!”

“Six!”

“Eighty-five hundred!”

“ You can’t go back up after you just came down!”

“Eighty-seven hundred!”

“Seventy-five!”

Derek stopped, cocking his head. “Seventy-five?” He nodded. “Okay.”

Stiles sighed, because that was just stupid. “Okay.”

“So…” Derek crossed the room, holding out a hand. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, though his heart beat wildly in his chest as he shook it, probably trying to warn him. “We have a deal.”

Chapter Text

He’d been summoned. Stiles got the first text from Derek, early that Monday afternoon, telling him to come to his office. Stiles didn’t work so, of course, he could be at Derek’s beck and call. But he decided to show up a half hour late anyway, just because he didn’t like being told what to do. He was surprised to be asked to come to Derek’s place of work. It appeared that Derek was a much kinkier guy than he would’ve thought. Because office sex? Seriously? In the middle of the day? Then again, Stiles kind of liked the idea of having sex on top of Derek’s desk. As long as he didn’t get any paper cuts.

Stiles had never been to where Derek worked before, so it was weird walking into Derek’s empire. Because that’s exactly what it was. An empire. Derek had a castle. A large humongous castle, and Stiles couldn’t stop asking himself, “who the fuck is Derek Hale.” Clearly, he didn’t know. Derek owned an entire building in Manhattan. A giant skyscraper with Hale & Whittemore plastered all over it like it was some kind of pissing contest. Stiles didn’t understand how he couldn’t have known this. He’d lived in the city for a few years now and felt like he’d wandered just about everywhere.

As he signed into the building and rode the elevator up, he wondered if Derek ever did the same. No, Derek couldn’t possibly be seen taking something as measly as an elevator. He had to have landed on the roof in a helicopter or a private jet every morning, and then had Boyd carry him down all the flights of stairs. When Stiles had reached the right floor, Erica was waiting for him and led him to a set of doors. She opened them, revealing Derek in his office and all its grandeur. Course, Derek’s office was just as impressive as everything else, so Stiles cuckooed to see if he could hear his own echo, which made Derek roll his eyes. Stiles grinned, glad that Derek was happy to see him too.

“So,” Stiles said once he’d sprawled himself out onto one of the chairs, slinging a leg over the arm. “What exactly do I have to sign to get this ball rolling?”

Paperwork sometimes had to be involved in their last deal, mostly where property was concerned. In the beginning of their previous dealings, Stiles had even signed a contract listing all the terms and conditions of their arrangement. He hadn’t minded signing that contract and wouldn’t mind signing this one either. It wasn’t like he was actually going to read the thing.

Derek was too busy dillydallying on his computer to answer him, and Erica intruded on them then, busting through the doors without knocking to deliver coffee. She smiled brightly at Stiles as she put a cup down in front of him, then placed another one in front of Derek. Stiles wasn’t going to drink his though, because Erica’s coffee probably tasted like shit. After all, she was the devil. He glared at her as she snickered her way back out of the room, closing the doors behind her then snickering some more. He so didn’t appreciate her.

Derek eventually looked away from his computer and glanced over at him. “You don’t need to sign anything,” he said, picking up his coffee cup. He grimaced after he’d taken a sip. “I don’t expect there to be any legal issues. Do you?”

Actually, Stiles loved the idea of taking Derek to court and demanding he pay child support, but he was also confused. “Well then why are you paying me? Isn’t there some Fifty Shades of Grey-esque clause or something?”

Derek blinked. Stiles wasn’t buying that. Derek totally had to have read Fifty Shades of Grey. Derek was the kind of guy that read all the New York Times Best Sellers.

“Aren’t you going to slap me around and give me Indian burns? Stick pins in my nipples? Make me do animal noises? Dude, I do a good horse.” He shrugged. “I’ll do whatever. Just don’t piss on me or light me on fire.”

“Derek, Mr. Katashi on line three,” Erica’s voice broke in on the intercom.

Derek sighed and picked up the phone. “We’re not doing anything unusual, Stiles,” he said. “Nothing you don’t want to do.”

Stiles mulled that over but still didn’t understand. This deal wasn’t even remotely about him. This was about Derek paying him for a service. He’d never really cared about being good at a part-time job. When he was in high school, he’d worked at 7/11 and was always taking naps in the break room. But Derek was paying him a fortune, so Derek had damn well better get exactly what he wanted. Stiles’ degree was in bioengineering, not prostitution. He was going to need a little direction.

He was still a little bitter about having been offered the deal in the first place, and by a little, he meant a lot. But it was cool. Stiles could play Derek’s "little games". He just wasn’t going to lose this time. He’d be keeping his cards close to chest. Sticking to the rules. If the terms were sex and just sex, then sex was all they’d be having. He wasn’t going to let any of his stupid feelings get involved. He already knew what it felt like to be dealt a bad hand.

Derek put the phone to his ear and spun around in his chair until the back of it was facing Stiles. Stiles’ own phone buzzed in his pocket, and he took it out to see that Lydia had texted him, asking him to take her out later. Stiles still wasn’t sure what he was going to do about that, so he just stuffed his phone back into his jeans, ignoring her.

Derek’s phone conversation was running long. It had to have like two minutes already. Stiles leaned in closer, nosey to see what other business affairs Derek had going on, besides hiring Stiles as his rent boy. Then he gawked when he realized Derek was having a lovely and delightful conversation, speaking completely in Japanese.

That was so unfair! Derek didn’t even talk that much to Stiles in English. Now he was all gabby over tea with some foreign business associate. His glare drilled into the back of Derek's chair.

“Just give me a second.” Derek spun around, holding up a pointer finger.

Sure. Stiles would totally give him a second. He nodded, pretending like he was one of those people with patience and common courtesy, then shot right out of his chair. He coasted around the edge of the desk and was on his knees in front of him before Derek could even get out another word. Derek made a choking sound and tried to smack his hands away as Stiles got to work on his belt.

Nuh uh. They weren’t having this stupid belt fight again. Either, Derek was going to have to stop wearing belts, or Stiles was going to cut both his hands off. Their spat ended with Stiles being victorious, anyway. Derek only prolonged the inevitable. He snapped Derek’s belt buckle open and unbuttoned his pants, yanking them down until he was glaring irritably at Derek’s cock.

Aw, man. Stiles really should apologize to Derek’s dick. It wasn’t him Stiles was mad at. He liked Derek’s dick. He hated Derek. His recollections from the other night hadn’t really done Derek justice. Just the sight of his thick cock had Stiles’ mouth watering, eager to get it in his mouth. And that was Derek totally flaccid. Well more like half-hard. Oh no, Derek’s hard on was definitely growing right before his eyes, stiffening and expanding as Stiles watched.

It would be better this time now that Stiles wasn’t drunk. Less sloppy and half-assed. He could take his time torturing him, because Derek deserved to be tortured. Who knew, Derek might even be into CBT. Derek kept talking to Mr. Katashi as Stiles stroked him lazily, his fingers skimming along the shaft, a thumb circling the sensitive folds of his foreskin. Derek’s cock jumped in his hand, elated by all the attention, very different from the agitated stoic face Derek had on.

Stiles parted his lips and leaned in, calculatingly letting the warmth linger from his breath. Derek slumped down in his chair, opening his legs more so Stiles could move between them. He looked up and found Derek watching him, eyes hooked on his every move, his pupils dilated. He seemed to be having a hard time focusing on the conversation now, his flow botched and less sophisticated. He still got away with it though as he strained to get his cock in Stiles’ mouth. Stiles was a charitable guy, so he gave in a little, pressing light kisses against the tip. He grinned when Derek struggled to hide a groan, trying to cover it up by faking a cough.

He trailed his lips along gently, giving soft licks when he needed to, and scrapping his teeth whenever he wanted a hiss out of Derek. Stiles wondered if he could make him come just like this without ever actually taking him into his mouth. Derek fussed in his seat, raising his hips and gripping a hand in Stiles’ hair, greedy for more. Mr. Katashi was barely getting words now, just short clipped ones as Stiles tapped and swirled his tongue around the head.

Finally, he took all of him into his mouth, humming as he sank down, trying not to laugh when Derek bucked and stifled a groan. He pulled back, teasing him some more, stroking him with a tight grip before relaxing his jaw and taking him down his throat. His own cock craved to be touched, but Stiles wasn’t going to focus on that right now. He was just going to bob his head and slurp until Derek wasn’t even the least bit clued in on his conversation with Mr. Katashi, except to say, “Uh-huh,” and that really wasn’t Japanese, now was it?

The grip in Stiles’ hair got tighter as Derek started thrusting up into his mouth. He was speaking rapidly now, his voice tense as he gritted his teeth, fucking in and out of Stiles’ mouth faster and faster. Then he raced to say goodbye, bidding Mr. Katashi adieu, and cried loudly as he slammed the phone down and came hard in Stiles’ mouth.

Derek heaved, groaning and taking harsh breaths as he rested his head against the back of the chair. Stiles pulled off and smirked, swishing cum in his mouth, then lifted his hand and squeezed Derek’s sensitive cock hard. Derek snapped up and cried out in pain. Guess he could cross CBT off Derek’s secret kink list.

Derek glared menacingly and Stiles shrugged. For a man who’d just gotten a blowjob, Derek sure was grumpy.

Someone here seriously needs to work on their patience,” Derek scolded.

“Really,” Stiles said and looked behind him. “I don’t see anyone like that around.”

Derek stood, pulling Stiles to his feet too, and buckled his pants. Stiles licked his lips and dabbed the corners of his mouth with his sleeve, making sure he hadn’t missed any drips. “Where’d you learn how to speak Japanese anyway?”

“I did a semester abroad,” Derek grumbled.

Wow. Someone should mark this day in history. The day Derek Hale had actually answered one of his questions with a direct response. Course, Derek could just be pulling his tail. He hopped up onto Derek’s desk, fidgeting eagerly.

“Can we have sex now,” he asked. “Right here on your desk?”

“No,” Derek said.

“No! What do you mean no!”

Someone here arrived a little late, and I have a meeting at three.”

“Ugh! Who’s this someone you keep mentioning! There’s no one here but us!”

Derek dropped back down into his seat, speaking seriously, “I won’t be able to see you again until Thursday. I actually asked you to come here today because I thought we should talk. In case you had any questions. I know how fond you are of questions.”

Stiles pondered that, then said, “Mmm, I don’t wanna talk. I wanna come.”

“Stiles,” Derek said sternly.

He hopped down off the desk and plopped himself right into Derek’s lap, fondling him, pulling at his shirt, and nibbling on his ear. He’d learned the other night that Derek had a strong reaction to Stiles' teeth being there, and sure enough, Derek inhaled sharply as Stiles’ dug them in.

Derek tried to push him away. “I only have half an hour before I need to be in front of a conference room full of people.”

Stiles ran his fingers through his hair, moving his bites down to Derek’s neck and kept right on molesting him.

"We’re not doing this for the first time on my desk.”

He slid his hand down Derek’s chest, pawing and petting until he felt a nipple harden under his palm.

“Would you stop groping me in my office!”

Derek shoved him, brushing himself off disgruntled. He looked over at Stiles when he was done only to find sad violins playing as Stiles stared down at the floor, his shoulders sagged and face long as he sulked. The sad puppy dog act had worked once. Stiles might as well make it a regularly thing.

Derek softened and sighed. “Fine. Turn around. I can at least return the favor.”

Stiles beamed and Derek rolled his eyes.

He spun around, then paused, looking over his shoulder. “Wait. What exactly are you doing to me? Just so I know. Is it spanking? It’s totally spanking. Is your kink that you want to beat my cute little bottom raw? Cause if it is I’m down.”

Stiles thrust his ass back and said in an exaggerated lusty voice, “I’ve been a bad bad boy, Sugar Daddy.”

Derek closed his eyes and prayed to the ceiling. He was sure Derek was regretting making their deal now.

“Have you ever been rimmed before,” Derek asked him.

“No.” Stiles shook his head.

Stiles had never actually been in a relationship before Lydia, and the relationship he had with her was currently non-sexual. He’d also never been comfortable with the idea of a stranger’s tongue in his ass and wasn’t super tight with any of the guys he’d slept with. Course, he still thought it was hot and had always hoped to try it someday.

Derek pulled him back against his chest and chewed on his neck which sent sparks directly to Stiles’ already aching cock. He groaned as Derek cupped him through his jeans, his eyes falling closed.

“Then I guess that’s something you’ll be doing for the first time with me.” His breath scorched the back of Stiles' neck. “Stiles, is that okay?”

“Yeah.” He swallowed. Just thinking about it made him want to come. “That isn’t like gross for you or anything? Does it turn you on?”

After all, this wasn’t just sex. This was his job. A regular nine-to-five. He even had a briefcase. A briefcase full of dildos, that is.

“I guess.”

Wonderful. The vague unclear answers were back.

“Do you need me to pretend to be someone? Like a sexy secretary? Or a slutty IT guy here to check out your hard drive? Or an irresistible business rival coming to take Hale and Whittemore down!”

“Stiles,” Derek snapped crabbily. “Just bend over.”

He didn’t need to be told twice. He shoved his pants down to his ankles, exposing his ass and bent himself over Derek’s desk. He wrapped a hand around his neglected cock, giving it a rough tug before making slower languid movements, abating the want in his groin. Derek’s hands were cool against his hot skin, and Stiles jumped at the contact but loved that Derek was touching him. Well liked. He certainly didn’t love it. In fact, he downright hated Derek’s touch. He hated it so much, he wanted Derek to touch him some more.

Derek sat down and positioned him exactly where he wanted him, palms kneading his ass and pulling him apart. He jerked when Derek licked a thumb and ran the wet fingertip over his hole. Derek chuckled, and Stiles got annoyed by how slow everything was going.

“Would you do something already,” he snapped. Maybe Derek was right about his needing to work on his patience. “Anything. Hey, here’s a stapler. You could staple my-AH!”

It was the surprise that made him cry out more than the feeling. Derek’s tongue was wet and moist against his hole and it felt weird. Stiles pushed back, investigative and curious once he started to get used to it. He wasn’t exactly familiar with proper ass-eating etiquette, but he hoped that squirming and shoving his ass back in Derek’s face was allowed. Derek’s stubble rubbed roughly against his skin, his tongue skirting delicately around his hole. It tickled but other than that it felt good. Different but good.

“Keep doing that,” Stiles said. Derek licks had become firmer, his tongue dragging back and forth, sucking up his hole. Stiles moans grew loud, and the hand on his cock pumped faster as he panted. But then Derek’s tongue stopped doing the thing he liked, and dammit, Stiles really liked the thing.

“Hey! Did I tell you that you could stop?” Stiles scowled. He looked over his shoulder and almost came at the sight of Derek’s face buried in his ass. He totally forgot what he’d been yelling at him about. “Wow. You really do get off on this, don’t you?”

Derek poked his tongue out, pushing past tight rings to make it’s way into Stiles’ body. Stiles cried out, head dropping down onto the desk, knees shaking. His tongue was so slippery yet firm, and it wasn’t long before Stiles was leaking and desperate to come. He gasped when someone took Derek’s tongue away. Who could be the evil person that would take Derek’s tongue away! Course, it was Derek himself, because Derek was giant asshole that Stiles had seriously grown to abhor.

“Dude! What the hell!”

“Seriously? You can’t wait three seconds?”

“No. I can’t wait three seconds! I can’t even wait two! You have zero seconds. Zero seconds to-”

Oh. A slick finger pressed into him and a loud groan escaped without his control. Derek’s finger curled, making exquisite calculated movements that left Stiles sighing contently. This was good, but Derek’s finger was lonely in there. It needed a friend.

“Give me another one.”

A second finger went in, and his cries intensified when they found his prostate. Derek shushed him, and he tried to stay quiet, but he really didn’t care anymore. He just needed to come.

“Another one!”

“Say please,” Derek grumped.

Ugh, why’d he even have to?

“Please,” he stammered out.

Finally, he had three fingers inside him, stretching him and opening him up. It hurt exactly the way he liked, and he struggled to keep his moans low. He reached back behind him and grasped Derek’s hair, missing his tongue.

“More,” he said.

Derek obliged, spreading him open with two fingers and slipping his tongue back inside. Stiles cursed, his nails clawing at the surface of the desk. Derek was doing everything rough, his tongue darted in and out, his fingers jammed in Stiles' ass, moving hard and fast, and fuck!

Anyone near Derek’s office had to have heard Stiles’ shouts as he came.

It was a while before he could catch his breath, trembling and supporting himself on the desk. Derek had to have gotten hard after that, so Stiles reached down, wanting to get him off too. But Derek moved out of his reach.

“No,” he said and made a beeline for the bathroom.

“But dude I’m not that…” The word he was going to use was selfish, but Derek closed the bathroom door before he could. He sighed and pulled up his jeans, buttoning them. He found a tissue, cleaning up the cum that had spilled, and then dropped himself into Derek’s chair. The sound of running water turned off, and Derek emerged from the bathroom, his hair neat and tidy again.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles confessed, “But I’m still trying to figure out whatever strange thing it is you like to do in bed that has you paying me all this money.” He glanced around suspiciously. “Where’s the green fingering alien?

Derek smirked. “There is one but it isn’t green.”

He came back around to his desk again, grabbing his suit jacket, and sliding it on. Stiles stood, unconsciously reaching for Derek’s tie to fix it before he stopped himself and dropped his hands back to his sides. That wasn’t what they did anymore.

“So…,” He said, because sex was certainly something they did. That they were hopefully going to be doing lots of. Why not start right now?

“I need to get back to work.”

Stiles frowned. Derek was acting so normal. So unaffected. Had he even liked it? Was Stiles’ brand of lanky, pale, and mouthy even attractive to him? He watched as Derek collected his things for his meeting and decided that he shouldn’t care if Derek liked him or not. This was sex and just sex. You didn’t need to find a person attractive to use their hole.

“Or you could just fuck me right now.” He hopped up onto the desk and started tugging and pulling on his jacket, trying to get him to come back over to him. Derek chuckled and let himself be pulled, finally starting to pay Stiles some goddamn attention for once. He leaned forward, his mouth poised over Stiles’, inches apart.

“I want to” he said, his breath cool and minty as their lips barely touched. Stiles closed his eyes. “But I’m not going to, so bye.”

He pulled away abruptly, grabbing a folder off his desk, and Stiles' jaw dropped.

“Oh no.”

“What?” Derek looked up and frowned.

“That’s it. That’s the weird twisted kink.” A bad taste infiltrated Stiles’ mouth, and he thought he might puke. “Ew! How disgusting! How perverse!”

Derek’s brows dipped.

“You really are a tease! Questions! You could give a rat’s ass about my questions! When you called me here today, you knew I was going to jump your bones! Now I’m all hot and bothered and you’re saying I have to wait until Thursday!” He snarled, “All I’m going to be thinking about is you until Thursday! And that’s what you want isn’t it?”

Derek struggled to maintain a straight face.

“Derek, that is diabolical!

“You have to get off my desk now.”

“Please! Derek! Please!” He begged, using Derek’s favorite word.

Derek just pulled him down onto his feet.

“What are you seriously doing over the next few days that’s more important than having sex with me?”

“I’m going to be out of town.”

“Yeah. Conveniently out of town,” Stiles sneered.

“My meeting starts now.”

Stiles just shook his head and tried to close his mouth which was still hanging open from the shock. If he weren’t so mad, he’d actually be kind of impressed. He already knew he was playing a master at this, but he was determined not to lose.

Derek started for the door. “I’ll see you Thursday, Stiles. This time try not to be late.”

Stiles glared after him then glanced down at the front of his jeans. Hell yeah, he’d better see him on Thursday. His poor poor cock.

*

Stiles wasn’t the least bit excited for Thursday. Seriously, Thursday could take its sweet time getting there, because he sure as hell didn’t care. He totally wasn’t horny out of his mind or anything. He also wasn’t constantly thinking about what had gone down in Derek’s office. In fact, he didn’t even think about Derek at all. Especially not while he was plugging himself and fingering himself open in preparation for taking Derek’s stupid dick.

In fact, when Thursday finally came around, Stiles hadn’t even realized. He’d just woken up that morning like it was any other day. He played video games, hung out with Scott and a few of his other friends, and skyped his dad. He hadn’t gotten impatient. He definitely wasn’t counting the hours or awaiting Derek’s text. And when the text finally came, he’d stayed completely cool, not even the least bit sexually aroused. He left his condo and hailed a cab, telling the driver to take the scenic route. Stiles was getting paid seventy-five hundred dollars a week. He didn’t care about the fare. When he got out at Derek’s building, he took the time to have a lengthy conversation with Derek’s hilarious doorman, Finstock. Not many people would stop to have a conversation with a doorman and ask him how his wife and kids were doing. Only, Finstock’s wife and kids had left him a few weeks ago, and Finstock started crying, and Stiles absolutely did not make a break for the elevators.

He was standing outside the loft, pondering what kind of knock to use, when the front door opened right up. This time it wasn’t Boyd.

“Cutting it a little close, aren’t we,” Derek said then lifted Stiles’ wrist to look down at his watch. “You only had a minute left.”

Stiles snatched his arm back. “Well, then I guess I’m staying out here for another five.”

“Suit yourself.” Derek shrugged and disappeared back into the loft, leaving Stiles out there on the doormat alone. Stiles rocked back and forth on his heels, whistling and playing some Trivia Crack while waiting for time to go by. He’d waited for what felt like hours before checking his watch again and saw that only a minute had gone by. Well, he guessed that was enough. Derek would get the point.

He found Derek in the kitchen pouring drinks. “Want anything?” Derek asked.

“No thanks,” Stiles said then looked him over. He was half-dressed in a marvelous looking tux. “Don’t tell me you’re all dressed up for me?”

“I had a fundraiser.” He pulled at his bowtie until it slipped off his neck, then peered closely at Stiles while he unbuttoned his cuffs. “You’re nervous.”

Hell yeah he was nervous. He was half-scared out of his mind. But he wasn’t going to let Derek know that, so he snorted. “Nervous? Dude, I don’t get nervous about sex. Not ever.”

Stiles headed towards the den and flopped himself down onto the couch. “What’s there to be nervous about?”

Besides STDs, pre-mature ejaculation, body confidence issues, staying hard, feelings and emotions, cleanliness, and prepping oneself.

“In fact, if I had to use an emoji to describe how I’m feeling right now, it’d have to be the flamingo dancing girl.” Stiles wiggled his brows. “Yeah, I bet you’d love to see me in a red dress.”

He was still working on the trying to find out Derek’s kinks thing. Derek came over and took a seat next to him. He sipped from his glass then lowered it down and rested it on his knee.

“What exactly are you worried about?" Derek asked.

“Nothing," Stiles told him, "Because I’m not worried." Really, he was only a little worried. Just a smidge bit worried. But that was natural. It came with the territory of having another man shove his dick up your ass. He'd calm down once they started doing the deed.

Derek lifted his glass again and drank then put it back down but still didn’t put the moves on Stiles.

“What? Do you need me to pinky promise,” Stiles snapped. “Can we hurry this up? I don’t know if you know this but now that I’ve established a career as a professional fuckhole, my life is full of busy obligations. So let’s get this going.”

If this deal was going to work, then Derek was going to need to work on his timing. They both could've already been coming by now.

Derek raised his glass to take another sip of his drink, but Stiles stopped him and took it out of his hands. He set it down on the coffee table and ignored the butterflies in his stomach as he straddled Derek’s lap. His eyes fell down to Derek’s mouth. They hadn’t kissed since that night at the club. Stiles wondered if kissing was part of their deal or if his life had just become a Pretty Woman remake with dicks.

He wanted to kiss him though. He wanted to kiss him all over. But he wasn’t going to make the first move. This was Derek’s game, so it was his call. He slid his hand down to Derek’s shirt, popping a few buttons open. Derek caught his wrist, wrapping his fingers around them and stopped his hands. He cupped the back of Stiles’ neck, pulling him down until their lips touched and Stiles was letting out a satisfied moan. He deepened the kiss, squirming until he was pressed up against Derek’s hard chest, searing their mouths together. Derek’s tongue was warm and savory as it filled his mouth and his lips tasted tangy, like scotch.

Derek pulled away. “Upstairs,” he said, his voice hoarse. He pushed Stiles off, grabbing his drink and headed up the steps.

“Gee, Derek.” Stiles sighed “It makes me so hot when you forget to use full sentences.”

Stiles wasn’t slow to follow though. He wasn’t like Derek. He had far better timing. Impeccable timing.

He’d never been in Derek’s bedroom before. There’d never really been a reason for him to. But he was surprised to discover how Derek-like it was. It was so organized and clean. Decorated like the rest of the loft with modern decor and dark color schemes. Stiles glanced around, taking in the atmosphere, but mostly the California king bed since they were going to be rolling around in it soon.

Derek set his glass on the nightstand, and Stiles walked over and settled himself down on the bed. He watched as Derek got the other buttons undone, and then tossed his shirt to the floor. He was a little stunned to be with Derek like this. That he could run his hands along that chest, those abs, and the slants of his hips as much as he wanted to. That he could explore all of him.

He swallowed when Derek knelt down on the bed, scooting them backwards towards the center. Their mouths came together again. Derek’s hands under his shirt molded against his skin. He groaned as Derek bit into his neck, his broad chest rumbling while he teethed at Stiles’ collarbone. Derek’s body felt so hot on top of his. Like a furnace. Stiles shifted against the sheets, feeling overheated and flushed by the heavy weight on top of him. His skin tingled and burned with every touch. It was like every part of his body had been set ablaze. He could barely breathe; his breaths were locked inside his lungs. It was all so dizzying. It was all too much.

By the time he realized, it was already too late. His heart was galloping at an erratic speed and the terror had slithered its way up his spine. This couldn’t be happening. Not here. Derek’s tongue raided his mouth, probably mistaking Stiles’ pants as encouragement. But Stiles wasn’t breathing. Why wasn’t he breathing?

He pushed at Derek’s chest, scurrying down from the bed. He needed to get out of there. He fell onto the ground and crawled along the floor. He tried to take a breath but there was no way he could get any air. His back was against a wall, and he coiled into a ball, pressing his face into his knees.

“Stiles?”

He looked up and scrambled further back when Derek stood from the bed.

“Stiles. Come here.”

“Can’t!”

“Of course you can.” Derek took a step closer, holding out a hand. “Come here.”

Stiles wasn’t going anywhere. It was too hard. Nowhere was safe.

“Come on,” Derek urged. “Get up and walk over here to me.”

“I just told you, I can’t!” He shouted. “I can’t!”

“Just try for me,” Derek said. “Please?”

Stiles peeked out from his arms and saw that Derek had moved close. He bit his lip, weary as he debated it.

“Please?”

He pushed himself up on shaking legs. It wasn’t really a walk that he did. It was more like a stumble and a tripping kind of thing until Derek caught him in his arms. The room had tilted after the first few steps but now everything whirled.

“Tell me it’s okay that I’m touching you.”

Stiles was hysterical now.

“Say it,” Derek pressed.

“Yeah.” He managed to get out. “It’s okay.”

Derek was moving fast. He sat Stiles down on the bed, grabbed his drink and pressed it against the back of his neck. Stiles jerked as the cold ran down his spine.

“Sorry.” Because Derek really didn’t deserve this. “I’m sorry! I’m so so sorry!”

“Be quiet.” Derek scowled. “You’re not bothering me so shut up.”

Derek got onto his knees, keeping the glass on Stiles’ neck. Stiles tried his best to breathe, tried to remember all the things he usually did to ground himself. Derek raised a hand and pressed it to his cheek, and the warmth from his hand and the ice from the glass had a weird reaction in him. He focused on it.

“You’re going to breathe for me, alright,” Derek said. “Deep breaths in, starting now.”

He nodded, inhaling and exhaling the way Derek demonstrated, but it wasn’t even close to the end. It hadn’t even reached the peak. He covered his face with his hands when it did, and he started to hyperventilate. He didn’t want Derek to see this. He never liked when anyone saw this.

He was going to die. He was going to die, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Nothing anyone could say. He was dying, and he wasn’t ever going to see anyone again. Not Scott. Not his dad. Not Derek. The list went on and on. He kept his hands pressed to his face, trying to force the thoughts out of his head, begging them to stop. Because he was so tired of this shit. Fucking anxiety. It was such a bitch.

“Stiles, you’re with me.” He heard.

But he wasn’t. Derek didn’t know anything. He didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. Stiles was in a grave somewhere. Six feet underground.

“You’re right here in this room with me.”

He gripped onto Stiles’ shoulder and squeezed. Stiles let his hands fall to see if Derek was lying or telling the truth.

“That’s it,” Derek smiled softly. “You’re fine. You’re with me, okay.”

Stiles inhaled and exhaled, dragging in deep long breaths until his heart slowed.

“Again,” Derek said and watched him take a few more.

When it finally passed, Derek removed the glass from his neck and threw it back, downing it before standing up. Stiles was too drained to care where he went, but then Derek was back again and pressing the rim of the glass to his lips. Derek tilted his chin with a finger and let him guzzle down the water, taking the glass away when he was finished. But Stiles couldn’t look at him. He was too embarrassed.

Derek sighed and dropped himself down onto the floor, wiping a hand over his face. “I don’t even know why you tried it,” he chuckled. “You’re a terrible liar.”

Stiles closed his eyes. He didn’t think he’d ever been so mortified. “I’ve just thought about this for a long time…with you. That’s all.”

“Yeah well, keep freaking out like this, and you’re gonna cut my dick off, if I can even get it inside you.”

Stiles head snapped up and his mouth fell open. He glared at Derek, seriously wanting to kill him. Who said shit like that to a person who’d just had a panic attack? Was he fucking stupid or fucking stupid? But then Derek leapt up from the floor and tackled him down onto the bed, and Stiles knew he was just messing with him. He certainly hadn’t missed this. He grunted as all of Derek’s weight fell on top of him, pinning him down onto the bed. Stiles was pretty sure he was the only person that ever had to put up with this Derek. The annoying idiot Derek that picked on him because he was smaller.

“Ugh! Get off!” Derek was seriously obese.

He never won when they fought like this, but he definitely always tried. Stiles wrestled to get out from under him then flailed when Derek got him into one of his holds. He tried to knee Derek in the chest but only ended up hurting himself.

“Want me to punch you in the face?”

“No!”

“Cause I can if you want.” Derek grinned like mad.

Stiles dodged the punch as it landed right beside his head. “Why would I want that!”

“It’ll soothe you! It’s very soothing!”

“Yeah?” Stiles finally kicked him off. “Next you’ll tell me it’ll make me jizz everywhere too.”

Derek wrapped an arm around his middle, rolling them around until he was laying on top of him, pinning Stiles down on his stomach. Stiles took that opportunity to elbow Derek in the ribs. Derek fell off, groaning in pain, and Stiles sat on his head, which made Derek groan in even more pain. Derek threw him off easily, and they were wrestling again. They rolled around like that until the fighting turned into kissing, which never used to happen before.

Stiles frowned when Derek sat up and hopped down from the bed to pick up his shirt. “Go home, Stiles,” he said. “We’re not doing anything tonight. Not while you’re scared.”

“I’m not scared of your dick, Derek!!” He threw a pillow and it smacked Derek in the back of the head, knocking him off balance.

Derek laughed hard and toppled over as Stiles launched down on top of him.

“I could just hold you tonight!”

Stiles kicked him.

“Check under the bed for monsters!”

He punched him repeatedly in the gut.

“Get you a blanket and a nice bottle of warm milk to help you sleep!”

He slammed Derek down and sat on his chest, wrapping his hands around his neck and strangling him like he’d wanted to do for so long. Derek’s chest rumbled as he pulled Stiles’ fingers off.

“I’m serious, Stiles. We’re not-”

“No,” Stiles cut him off. What made Derek think he was in charge of this anyway? “We’re doing this. Tonight. Take off your pants.”

Stiles stood and unbuckled his own, dropping them to the ground and stepping out of them. He tore his shirt off too and threw that down as well. He glared over at Derek to do the same. “Seriously. Take off your pants.”

He climbed back onto the bed and waited. Derek didn’t move, peering at him skeptically.

“Derek, I said take them off!”

Derek sighed. “You’re sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, I’m sure.” He blushed, still embarrassed. He wanted this, and he wasn’t going to keep letting his anxiety defeat him. “Ugh! What are you waiting for? Get over here and fuck me already!”

Derek let out a deep breath and shook his head. Finally, he dropped his pants and kicked them off. “Alright. Fine. But we’re taking things slow.”

“Whatever. Just as long as you get over here.”

He grabbed Derek the instant he got back onto the bed, kissing him hard and pushing him down onto his back. He and Derek had very different definitions of slow. Stiles leaned on his hands, pressing his hips down, and moaned at the sensation of their cocks grinding together through thin fabric. Derek turned them over and Stiles arched when Derek’s hips rolled too, and he swept tongue along the seam of Stiles’ mouth.

“We need to hurry this up,” Stiles said.

“We’re taking things slow.”

“Well then, let’s slowly hurry the fuck up.”

Derek just ignored him. Why the hell was Derek always ignoring him? Stiles shoved him off, getting his boxers down and throwing them onto the floor with the rest of their clothes. He laid back and watched as Derek stripped his boxers off too. Stiles ran his eyes over him, breathless by the sight.

“I want you to suck my cock,” Stiles said, then remembered that Derek liked it when he used his manners. “I want you to suck my cock right now.”

Derek arched a brow, a smile pulling at his lips.

Stiles sighed. “Please?”

Derek dipped down and kissed his belly, biting his hip before taking Stiles entirely into his mouth. Stiles groaned and clutched a hand in his dark hair.

“I just need you to-” But Derek already knew what he needed. “Yeah! Like that! Fuck!”

Stiles could barely watch his cock disappear in Derek’s mouth. He gasped as Derek bathed his cock with his tongue, then practically screamed when Derek swallowed him again. He pulled harder at Derek’s hair, unintentionally pushing himself further and further down his throat. Derek’s fingers dropped down to his hole, and Stiles parted his lips and moaned when one slid into him. Derek was the one that was more surprised though, probably by how relaxed Stiles’ hole was. How loose and prepared.

“You stretched for me,” he whispered and slid a second finger in, a little awed.

“You’re welcome.” Stiles smirked.

Derek’s tongue slid into his mouth, a little salty and tasting like him. Stiles groaned and sat up, flipping them over so that he was on top. Derek seemed to agree with the switch, using it as an opportunity to nibble at his chest. He caught Stiles’ nipple in his mouth, biting and sucking, nipping around the edge until it ached and pebbled. Stiles was going to need them to move even faster than this before he embarrassed himself by finishing too soon.

“Stiles?” Derek pulled away, looking up at him questionably.

“I want you inside me.”

Derek nodded and reached over and opened a drawer, pulling out condoms and lube. Stiles stomach started fluttering and his hands started to sweat, but he was able to calm himself down by reminding himself of where he was and who he was with. Derek looked over at him, concern in his eyes once again.

“Ugh! You’re getting on my fucking nerves! Give me those!”

He confiscated the lube and condoms, ripping open the foil and rolling the condom onto Derek himself. His fingers trembled as he lubed them up, but he was ready for this. So ready. He poised himself on top of Derek’s lap, taking deep breaths to relax himself as Derek’s cock pressed against his hole. Gently, he slid the tip in, his eyes falling closed as he slid down further. He hissed, blunt fingernails digging into Derek’s shoulders at the stretch and burn. The pain wasn’t unmanageable though, and this was his favorite part. Challenging himself. Seeing how much he could take.

Derek’s hands clenched down on his hips and he sputtered, “You don’t have to take it all at once.”

But he did. “Shut up, Derek.” Derek opened his mouth again. “I swear to god if you say another word.”

Derek swore once all of him was buried deep. Stiles shifted, getting accustomed to the feel. He felt full, overwhelmingly full, and leaned down to drop a kiss on Derek's mouth. He was nervous again, mostly because he really wanted to make this good for Derek. He rocked himself back and forth in his lap, squeezing him with his muscles. Hesitantly, he rose up and slid back down.

“Fuck that hurts!”

Derek tensed.

“Good hurts,” he managed quickly. “Hurts good. Ugh! Didn’t I tell you to shut up? Be quiet!”

“But I wasn’t-”

Stiles covered his mouth, not wanting to hear from him anymore, and wondered if there'd ever be an occasion where they didn’t argue endlessly. He started moving, which did loads to dull the ache, then dropped his hand away from Derek’s mouth and hit a steady rhythm.

Derek felt unbelievably good inside of him, and Stiles got lost in all the sensations, crying out shamelessly as he moved. Then he halted, frowning down at Derek. “Well now you’re being too quiet.”

“Which one do you want, Stiles?” Derek griped. “Make up your goddamn mind.”

“Well, I definitely want you loud when I’m on top of you like this.” He raised then lowered his hips painfully slow, smirking when Derek’s eyes fluttered closed and he let out a trapped moan. “Lay back. I wanna ride you.”

He didn’t really wait for Derek to follow direction, because Derek didn’t follow directions well. He got no gold stars in school. So he just shoved him down onto his back and rode him until the room was filled with Derek’s pained grunts and devastated moans.

“Open your eyes,” Stiles said, leaning forward on his hands. “I want to see your eyes. Need to-”

Derek eyes opened up, ravenous as they stared up at him. He smoothed his hands down Stiles’ back, digging his nails into his hips, making Stiles jolt when he pushed up to meet every thrust.

“Oh, fuck!” Stiles cried, grinding down ungracefully, his moves frantic and desperate now. “Fuck!”

He tried to hold back, but it just felt too good. Shouting, he came all over Derek’s chest, but was displeased that he hadn’t gotten Derek off too. Despite being spent, he still made an effort, clamping down and bouncing until Derek couldn’t handle the tightness, and Stiles couldn’t endure it anymore. Thankfully, it didn’t take much longer, and Derek grunted and came inside him with a deep groan.

Stiles slumped down on the mattress, sweaty and panting. Then, he yelped when Derek reached down and grabbed his sensitive cock, squeezing hard. God, he was such an asshole, and apparently, Stiles didn't like CBT either. He melted though when he saw Derek grinning widely. Derek kissed him, and Stiles pulled away and stared at the smile still stuck on his face. He told himself he felt nothing as they kissed again. Absolutely nothing. Sorry, but no dice.

*

He woke up in bed a little later alone. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but he’d been pretty exhausted after they’d gone again, and panic attacks usually left him drained for a few hours. He sat up slowly, his ass kind of sore since he’d let Derek get rougher with him the second round. He glanced around the room anxiously, wondering where Derek had gone off to, then heard footsteps coming up the stairs.

Derek appeared with a glass of scotch in hand, looking so tired and disheveled. Stiles was sure he looked the same, and if they both weren’t so tired, he’d probably ask Derek to take him again. Derek was hands down the hottest person he'd ever been with which pissed him the hell off. They could have been doing this the whole time they'd known each other, and it was Derek’s sheer stupidity that had stopped them.

“Three years we could have been having sex!!” He sprung up from the bed, blinded by fury and grabbed the bottle of lube that sat next to him, unscrewing the cap. “THREE FUCKING YEARS!”

He squeezed and shook the bottle until all the lube shot out and squirted all over Derek.

“Stop! Stop!” Derek cried and shielded his face with his arms, backing away and struggling to stay upright.

“I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE A HUMANITARIAN!”

Stiles chucked the whole bottle at his head. Here’s the thing about lube, it wasn’t exactly water. And so, while he’d gotten Derek good, he’d mostly gotten it all over the floor.

Derek glared at him, wiping his dripping oily face. “You just wasted an entire bottle of lube!”

Stiles took a deep breath, much less angry now, but still a little angry. “Dude, don’t you have another one?”

Who didn’t have an emergency bottle of lube? Everyone should have an emergency bottle of lube. Just like a fire extinguisher, it was an essential item that should always be stored in one’s home. Derek was a dumbass, so it was possible he didn’t know about the emergency lube thing. But Stiles wasn’t going to feel bad. This wouldn’t have happened if Derek wasn’t the world’s biggest cocktease.

“Yes, I have another one.” Derek gritted out. “I just wanted to get you scared.” He slipped and skidded as he tried to make his way towards the bathroom then barked, “Clean this up, you little shit!”

Stiles plopped back down onto the bed. He leaned against the headboard then said to no one, “I’m not cleaning anything up.”

He heard the water turn on, which meant Derek was taking a shower. Stiles didn’t even understand why he was taking a shower at all. He’d just had a very nice one with the lube. But as the water was running, Stiles wondered when it would be appropriate for him to leave. He wasn’t sure if he should still be there when Derek got out. Derek had said this was just sex, so maybe Stiles was supposed to jump out of bed the second they were done, put all his clothes back on, and bounce. Then again, he was Derek’s mistress. He was getting paid a little too well to be considered a hooker, and a little too consistently to be considered an escort, so maybe Derek might want him to sleep there. Which was totally gross. Stiles didn’t want that at all.

Derek emerged from the bathroom, scrubbing a towel through his hair. He slipped a bit on the yet to be cleaned lube and glared at Stiles as he tossed his towel down onto a chair. Carefully, he made his way over to the bed and got in under the comforter. He laid down on his stomach, bunching the pillows up, and paid Stiles no mind as he closed his eyes, set on going to sleep.

Stiles wrung his fingers and cleared his throat. “I have a question.”

“What is it?”

“Do I leave after…?”

Derek shrugged. “If you want.”

Stiles frowned. That wasn’t really an answer or Derek asking him to stay. Which was cool, because he totally didn’t want to stay anyway. Absolutely, he wanted to leave. He was dying to get the hell out of Derek’s giant warm bed. But he had other things he wanted clarity on too.

“What else?” Derek eyes were on him now.

“You’ll give me a heads up when you want me right? Like twenty-four hours.”

Derek nodded, and Stiles swallowed and looked away.

“Stiles, whatever it is, just spit it out.”

“Do you find me even the slightest bit attractive,” Stiles asked in a teeny tiny voice.

Derek frowned then grabbed his head and slammed it against the headboard.

“OW!” Stiles cried and rubbed the back of his head. “What was that for!”

“For asking stupid questions,” Derek said, then turned onto his side, fluffing his pillow again and closing his eyes.

“I don’t see how that’s a stupid question or why it warranted for aggravated assault! You’ve never said anything particularly nice about me before, and everyone’s always surprised about us ‘cause I look like me and you look like you.”

He waited, preparing himself for the worse.

Derek just huffed. “Stiles, I don’t see why I’d be deep throating-”

“Oh god!”

“-Or swallowing the cum of-”

“Seriously no my ears!”

“-Or tongue-fucking the asshole of someone I wasn’t physically attracted to. I don’t know about you but I don’t just stick my dick in anything or my tongue either.”

"Okay! Okay!” Stiles cried, blushing furiously. Derek should know he was a lady. “But you kind of still didn’t answer the question…”

“Yes, Stiles.” Derek sighed. “I obviously find you very attractive.”

“Very? I got a very?” Stiles grinned. “Well, that isn’t too bad.”

He crawled out of bed and grabbed most of the clothes he could find before heading towards the bathroom. But then his foot stepped in something slippery, and he found himself ass up in the air, flailing and then landing down hard on the ground.

“OW!”

Someone needed to call an ambulance. Stiles needed to get to the hospital right now. He rubbed at the pain in his ass, sure he’d broken his tailbone. He looked up at Derek, who’d witnessed the whole thing, to ask if he knew CPR.

Derek just stared, shaking his head in amazement. “You are an actual idiot,” he said, before dropping his head back down on his pillow and going right to sleep.

*

They were having sex now. So much sex. In fact, too much sex. Anyplace. Anytime. Stiles didn’t know if he’d ever had this much sex in his life.

“Stiles, we can’t have sex in the hallway.”

“Then, I guess we’re having sex in the hallway closet.”

They didn’t talk anymore. Stiles wouldn’t let them. Not even to ask how each other’s days were. Stiles wasn’t going to let Derek get the chance to mess with his head. So they didn’t talk ever, except for in bed of course, and barely even there.

“Stiles, we’re not having sex on my dining room table.”

“Why?” Stiles said between kisses while lowering him down onto it. “You never use it anyway.”

The money helped. God, the money helped. It was so much money. Stiles had no idea what to do with it. He should probably do something awesome, like buy an amusement park. Maybe if he invested it or something, one day he could afford to buy Disney World. Who didn’t want to own Disney World? Really, Stiles didn’t understand how Derek expected him to fit seventy-five hundred dollars into his Ninja Turtle piggybank. But the money kept his head in the right place. He never forget what he was getting paid for.

“Stiles, we’re not having sex in an elevator.”

Ugh! He was so tired of hearing where they could and couldn’t have sex.

“People have sex in elevators all the time, Derek.” He rolled his eyes and tried to ease Derek’s concerns. “Look we’ll just press all the buttons and-”

“That’s not how you do it, you idiot!” Derek slapped his hand away before he could touch anything. “You’ll just have everyone on every floor seeing us naked.”

Derek stepped back and put proper distance between them. He fixed his suit that Stiles had rumpled, and then looked up at him again. A single sad violin was playing as Stiles wallowed in misery, moping and drooping in the corner.

“There’s going to be a day where that face stops working, you know.”

But that day wasn’t today. Stiles beamed when Derek sighed and pushed the stop button.

And that was how it went, their torrid illicit affair. Stiles liked to call it a torrid illicit affair, because it sounded torrid and illicit and like the name of a serial crime drama. Stiles also called it that because he was lying to everyone. He was usually never good at hiding things, but he’d learned now. Because Derek. Derek!

It was hard covering the stubble rashes left all over his pale skin. It was also hard covering up the bright red hickeys that were visible on his neck. Stiles was lying to Lydia. He was lying to Scott. He was lying to all his other friends. He was lying to his dad and Melissa. But when he was with Derek he forgot about that. He didn't think about it; not when he was arching and writhing under Derek.

He woke up one morning to find someone shaking him awake. At first he thought it was an earthquake and decided he could sleep through an earthquake. He was happy to be crushed by rubble as long as he didn’t have to get out of bed.

But then he heard Derek’s voice. “I’m leaving soon."

Stiles opened his eyes, disorientated about where he was, then remembered. He’d spent the night at Derek’s. Stiles had never spent the night before. It wasn’t because he wanted to or anything. They’d just had a super late night, and Stiles was way too beat to go anywhere.

Derek walked away, and Stiles meant to get up. He truly did. But for some reason his eyes were closing again, and he was drifting back off to dreamland. Then, the shaking started again, scaring him shitless this time. He jerked up quickly and frowned when he saw Derek still getting dressed for work. He sighed and thought about getting up. Really thought about it. Weighing all the pros and cons. There were so many more cons. But Stiles didn’t sleep there. He didn’t spend the night. It wasn’t what they did, so he sat up and wiped his eyes, readying himself for a trying and difficult journey.

“Stay.” A set of keys dropped down onto the pillow next to him. “Just lock up when you go.”

“Okay,” Stiles said cautiously, scooping the keys up in his hand. “Should I leave these with anyone? Like Finstock?”

Derek shrugged. “It’d be more convenient if you kept them, honestly.”

His heart was pounding in his chest. Derek just turned and fixed his collar in the mirror. Keys. Derek was giving him keys, and he was leaving and letting Stiles stay in his bed. Keys weren’t really a big deal. They didn’t mean anything. Not within the terms of their arrangement. They were probably just so Stiles could have better access for late night booty calls.

He frowned when he saw that something else was attached to the key ring. At first, he thought it might be a lighter but then saw it was a car key.

“What’s this key for?” He asked then sighed. He should’ve known the question was far too direct.

He turned the key over in his hand and looked down, peering at the seal. Then, his eyes widened.

Holy shit! You’re giving me the Lamborghini?!”

Screw sleep. Stiles jumped out of the bed and tackled Derek to the ground.

“No! No!” Derek grunted in pain. “Stiles! I’m not giving away my car!”

Stiles squeezed him tight.

“You’re so sweet and thoughtful, Derek.” He snuggled against him. “I’ll gladly take the car off your hands.

“I’m taking the keys back!”

“No!” Stiles cried and got off of him, hopping back onto the bed and guarding the keys fiercely against his chest like they were precious jewels. “Why are you giving them to me anyway?”

Derek brushed himself off. “I thought you might like to be the first one to drive it.” He shrugged. “I haven’t even yet.”

...A present? Derek used to love to give him presents, and this was one in its own special way. Derek had just traded his Ferrari to Jackson for Jackson’s Lamborghini. The two of them were mega car geeks and really bonded over it. It was super gay. Derek used to let him drive his cars sometimes, but he’d always been in the passenger’s seat, and Derek was the world’s most annoying back-seat driver. Stiles didn’t know if he should accept this. He was shocked Derek was trusting him with his car.

“Dude, I’m totally gonna wreck your shit. Wrap it around a telephone pole or something. I can’t wait!”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Just wear a helmet.”

Stiles watched him fix his tie in the mirror before coming over and sitting on the bed to pull on his shoes. He wasn’t sure how much time Derek had before he had to go to work, but Stiles was up for a morning quickie. He crawled over to him on his hands and knees, then slipped a hand around his waist, kissing the back of his neck, his shoulder, and nibbling on his ear. Derek turned his head, and Stile smirked, leaning in and giving him a kiss that he knew would incite a response. But Derek put the fire out before it could even start, moving away to finish putting on his shoes.

“I have to get to the office.”

“But! But!” Stiles made grabby hands as Derek got up and slipped on his coat. “You just did something super nice for me, and I have to pay you back with hot hot sex! It’s what we do!

“Some other time then.” Derek looks down at his watch. “I’ve got to go. Isaac must be downstairs by now.”

He’d forgotten to ask about Isaac. He’d worried about him when Derek had ended things. Worried that he’d lose his job too. But he was glad to hear that he hadn’t. Derek was just about ready to leave, and Stiles tried not to be bitter about getting turned down. He couldn’t be too mad because he was getting to stay in Derek’s bed and was getting to drive an awesome car. Derek turned back to him and gave him a stern look, the kind of look Stiles was used to getting from his dad.

“Do not eat or drink anything in my car.”

“So lots and lots of Chick-fil-a. Got it.”

“And don’t drive too fast.”

Stiles squinted. “Is two hundred miles per hour really too fast?"

“And wear a seatbelt.”

“Hands-free driving. You bet.” He yawned, his eyes having trouble staying open.

“Go back to sleep,” Derek said and started down the steps. “And be careful!”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Stile flopped back down, pulling the comforters back over him. He still had the keys in his hands and stared at them, gripping them tight until the metal was digging into his palm. He wasn’t being careful, was he? No. He may have even just tipped his hand.

*

It was a little before noon when Stiles woke up again, which was so much better than six o’clock in the morning. He still wasn’t a big morning person even though his mornings were in actually afternoons. He took a shower and got dressed in the clothes he’d worn the day before. He borrowed a pair of Derek’s boxers though, because Derek wore Armani boxers. Derek was also a certified douchebag.

He locked the door to the loft, and it felt weird to know that he now had infinite access to it. He linked the keys to his own for his condo and took the elevator down and headed out the building.

Isaac was waiting for him outside, holding the door open to the town car. “Funny seeing you here, Mr. Stilinski.”

Stiles should really just take a cab to the private storage unit where Derek kept his cars. It was really no hassle.

“I had a feeling you’d be back.”

Why had he even worried about Isaac’s job security anyway? Derek should have canned his ass years ago.

“The pining! Oh the pining! It was only a matter of time!”

Stiles blushed and hopped into the car, slamming the door behind him. How’d Isaac know he’d been pining? It probably wasn’t that hard to assume. Stiles was so obviously pathetic. It must be a given.

The drive wasn’t that long, and Isaac eventually stopped teasing him. Isaac parked, and Stiles let himself out of the car. “Come on,” he said, even though he still hated Isaac’s guts.

Isaac followed him as he led the way through the garage, then helped him remove the cover off the sleek sexy black sports car. Stiles gawked, trying his best not to smile too hard. He honestly couldn’t believe he was getting to drive this beauty. He looked up at Isaac and saw that he too was just as amazed.

“Get in.” Stiles smirked.

Isaac grinned. “Thank goodness you’re back.”

*

They didn’t go far, just enjoyed the scenery of River Road in the fall. Stiles returned Derek’s car back to the garage with no casualties and had Isaac drop him off at the condo. Isaac didn’t even tease him when he’d asked to be dropped off a few blocks away, in case Scott or anyone else saw him getting out.

He hoped that no one had been looking for him at the condo. He also really hoped that Scott didn’t think he’d been kidnapped. He unlocked the door and walked in, shoving his keys back into his pocket. It didn’t seem like anyone was there, so Stiles headed towards his room to change.

He thought he was in the clear when he heard, “Stiles! Dude!”

Scott and Allison were sitting at the kitchen counter, a single plate between them. They were probably doing that gross, chewing and kissing between bites thing they did that always made Stiles want to hurl.

“Where have you been?”

“Uh,” was all Stiles could say.

He hadn’t prepared any good lies for where he’d been all night. It would’ve been just fine if this was just Scott. Stiles didn’t really need to tell Scott quality lies. But Allison was there too, and yeah, he was fucked.

“I went to your room last night to see if you wanted to watch a movie, but you weren’t there,” Scott said.

“Oh I was just-” Stiles cleared his throat, “What movie?”

Course, Allison wasn’t going to let him distract Scott that easily. “Were you with Lydia,” she asked.

“No.” He almost shouted, then in a much calmer voice, “No.”

Allison laughed. “Oh my god! He was! Look at his face!”

Stiles was blushing but that’s because that was what his face did. It totally wasn’t because he was guilty of anything. “I wasn’t with Lydia,” he said. “I wasn’t with anyone. I was just studying…” God. “…for the GREs.”

That was such a shit lie; Stiles wouldn’t even have believed it himself.

“I’m taking them soon, and I just spent the whole night at Starbucks…,” This was just getting worse and worse. “…Studying.”

Allison smirked. “I don’t believe him.”

“Oh come on, Allison.” Scott gave him his most trusting of smiles. “Stiles never lies,” He snickered. “He’s just so bad at it.”

*

He should feel guilty. Really guilty. People like Scott were giving him trust he didn’t deserve, and he was taking it for granted. Course, he felt guilty. But it was hard to feel guilty about stuff when you were getting pounded into a mattress.

“OH FUCK!”

They’d been having sex for two hours. There was a reason people shouldn’t have sex for two hours, because things started getting excruciating after thirty minutes. Stiles had come twice already, and he didn’t think he had anything left in him.

“Okay now hard.” Derek did as he said. “Harder. Yeah,” He coaxed, “As hard as you want!”

He’d told Derek he wanted to go for as long as they both possibly could to pay him back for letting him drive the car. But now this had become downright torture. They were both dripping with sweat, totally exhausted, and watching Derek was the saddest part. He looked to be in severe pain with every thrust. Stiles was in severe pain too, but it was a good kind of pain. The kind of pain that made him weep and beg for more.

“You can go harder than that, Derek!” He whined. “Fuck! I know you can!”

Why’d Derek listen to him anyway? Stiles never had good ideas. Derek should know that he never had good ideas. But what was done was done, and all Stiles could do now was wrap his legs around Derek's waist and hold on for dear life.

“Dude! Are you even close?”

Derek grunted, which Stiles was going to interpret as a yes, because if it was a no, then they were both going to be spending a night in the hospital. Derek with a broken dick, and Stiles with a wrecked asshole.

“Derek,” he panted. “If you don’t cum soon, I’ll- I’ll-” He squeezed his eyes tight and moaned. “Fuck! I can’t think of a legitimate threat right now. But just you wait!”

Stiles pushed him out, because they needed more lube, and Derek looked like he needed an inhaler. Stiles took a deep breath then said, “Stick it back in.” He winced. “Slow.”

Derek repositioned them, laying them on their side and pressing Stiles’ back against his chest. He lifted Stiles’ leg and entered him carefully, and Stiles sighed.

“Now slide all the way out.” He groaned. “Keep going.”

He shook his head in disbelief. “I hope you know, I’m gonna die here. You’re killing me with your penis. You’re gonna be that guy on the news that killed someone with their penis. Is that really what you want?”

“How. Are. You. Still. Talking?” Derek stared at him incredulous, punctuating each word with a thrust.

Stiles' eyes rolled back. Derek moved faster now, slapping in and out of him, and Stiles couldn’t believe he was going to shoot off again.

“Come on. Come for me!” He cried. “I need you to come. I can’t-” He lost his breath and thought there might be real tears in his eyes. “I can’t! Now, Derek” He gasped. “I said now! Please! Please!

And Derek was coming, shouting loudly as Stiles blacked out, seizing violently, short spurts leaking out of him. Derek came for what seemed like an eternity then collapsed beside him. Stiles hoped Derek knew his ass was going to be out of commission for at least two weeks. And they were never doing that again. Ever.

Derek pulled out, soft now, and got up onto his feet. He took a step and buckled. “Fuck! My legs!”

He limped to the bathroom, and Stiles wanted to applaud him because there was no way he could’ve gotten up if it was him. Derek came back exhausted and made his way back over to the bed. Then he just collapsed, his head landing on Stiles’ stomach. Stiles grunted and poked him to make sure he was alive. He pried an eye open with his fingers and saw that Derek was just asleep.

Derek always fell asleep like this. He totally had narcolepsy. It was a new fact Stiles had learned about him, along with a few others. Derek snuggled deeper into his stomach like it was a pillow. Stiles stared up at the ceiling. He knew he should move him and leave, and he would, in just a few minutes.

He looked back down at Derek, running his hands through his hair as he slept, smoothing his fingertips along his lips, his cheekbones, his eyebrows. Derek was adorable like this, and he couldn’t help watching him as he slept. Stiles didn’t love him. He didn’t. Love wasn’t part of their deal. And he didn’t love him.

At some point his eyelids fell closed, and he was lost to the world too until he woke up startled by a loud rumbling sound. His eyes popped open and he looked down at a still sleeping Derek. He hoped Derek hadn’t heard the noises his stomach was making, but the rumbles happened again, this time much louder. Derek rustled, and then his eyes opened, and he blinked.

“What was that?”

“My stomach.”

“And why’d it do that?”

“I’m dying of starvation and this is where I decided to spend my last remaining moments?”

Derek glared at him like he committed murder. “When was the last time you ate?”

Stiles sighed. “A little after six.”

It was one o’ clock in the morning now.

“And you weren’t going to say anything!”

Derek got up and dragged himself towards the closet. Stiles, always ready to argue when he got in trouble, said, “Well, you said you wanted to fuck me today so.”

Derek walked back into the room and raised a brow. Stiles blinked at him because Derek really couldn't be that dumb.

“…I usually eat pretty light on days you wanna stick your dick in my ass…?”

“Oh Christ!” He threw a pair of sweatpants at Stiles' head.

Good. Because Stiles really didn’t feel like talking about how he got bottom-ready.

“Come on.”

Stiles watched Derek leave the room in horror. “No!” He cried. “How can you even walk anywhere after that! Derek!?”

It seemed he was expected to get up too. He pulled the sweatpants on dramatically, crying “OW” loudly as he took every step down the stairs so that Derek would know all the trials and tribulations he'd overcome. He found Derek in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator, and grumbling irritably to himself. Stiles needed to tell Derek that if he was going to talk shit about him under his breath, he should probably stop talking out loud. People were going to think he was psychotic if he kept it up with the mumbling thing. He ducked under Derek’s arm to get a look in the fridge, almost taking him out with an elbow.

“I can’t believe you weren’t going to say anything.”

“Hey, just be grateful I’m so nice to you, okay. Sex is a lot more important to me than food.”

Derek grabbed a beer then held one out to him. Stiles shook his head and Derek put the other one back. He tried not to count how much Derek had to drink on a regular basis, but sometimes it was hard not to. Stiles grabbed the carton of milk instead and unscrewed the cap, pouring about half the gallon of milk into his mouth.

“Stiles! You’re getting milk all over the goddamn floor!”

Another new fact he'd learned about Derek was that he had a cleaning fetish. He wasn’t really surprised. After all, Derek looked like the type to be anally retentive. It was just one of the many facts that he could add to his collection of facts about Derek. A collection he didn’t even remotely care about in the least. He knew Derek would clean up the milk if he just left it there. So, Stiles walked away, and let Derek mumble under his breath, and mop up after him. He took a seat in one of the chairs at the counter and winced, shifting until he was in a comfortable position where his ass didn’t hurt.

Derek was making them ramen. Stiles couldn’t even believe Derek had ramen. Derek pulled one of the chairs away from the counter and sat it in front of the microwave, taking a swig of his beer. He set the timer, took another swig of his beer, then fell right to sleep again in his chair. Stiles chuckled, then picked up his phone which he’d left on the counter when they’d gone upstairs before. He had three miscalls from Lydia and a couple of text from Scott. He sighed and put his phone back down.

“So I'm thinking about breaking up with Lydia.”

Derek jerked out of his sleep and looked over at him with drowsy eyes.

"Huh."

Relationship advice from Derek Hale. Fantastic. Why hadn’t he replaced Dr. Phil already?

“I’m cheating on her, and I’m not a good cheater. The other day she asked me where I was going and I said tennis practice, even though I don’t play tennis and was just going to have lunch with Caitlin. I got so paranoid and that’s what came out, and I’m sure lots more would have too if she kept grilling me.”

Derek shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t see how this is considered cheating. You’re getting paid.”

“You know, it’s a good thing you don’t have sex with girls, ‘cause girls don’t care if you’re getting paid. They care that you’re having sex with someone else! Especially when it’s buttsex!”

Stiles’ stomach got happy when the microwave beeped.

“Besides, it’s a shitty thing to do to someone.”

“What about your feelings for her?” Derek asked as he took the bowls out of the microwave. He finished his first beer then went into the fridge for a second. He came over and set the bowls down in front of them then took the seat next to Stiles.

Stiles shrugged uncomfortably, avoiding his eyes. He didn’t have feelings for Lydia. He never had.

“She’ll probably be the one that’s more heartbroken anyway. Girls love the Stiles. I’m like a god to them.” He picked up his fork. “These skin and bones just do something to the ladies, and I generally get a little something more than very.”

They ate in silence. Stiles tried to be good. Really, he tried. He’d already been so strict with himself. He hated to see that all unravel now. It started with one word, then a few more, and ended with Stiles in a full-blown rant. Derek listened like he usually did and shocked him when he’d started asking questions and Derek actually answered them back.

“Have you slept with lots and lots of women?”

Derek snorted. “No,” Then paused before elaborating, “But I was engaged once. To a woman."

Stiles swallowed a mouthful of noodles then asked tightly. “What was her name and was she pretty?”

It wasn’t fair that Derek got to be engaged to someone else. Stiles had never been engaged to anyone.

“Why? Jealous?” Derek smirked.

“No.” Stiles scowled.

“Her name was Kate,” Derek said. “And she was a real piece of work. I honestly think she might’ve even turned me gay.” He shrugged. “It was never going to work. It was done the second she refused to sign the prenup.”

Well, that made it sound like there was no love lost between them, which was all Stiles really needed to know. So, he switched to the next subject.

“How old were you when you lost your virginity?”

“Fifteen.”

That was pretty young. Stiles had lost his when he was eighteen during prom, but then again, Derek knew that story. Derek knew all kinds of things about him.

“Oh! I have a better question. How old are you now?”

Derek’s fork froze in mid-air and he stared. “…Stiles, you don’t know how old I am?”

“You’ve never told me anything about yourself, Derek. Ever. I had to learn from Peter that you weren’t actually in the mob.”

Course, that got Derek yelling. “You talked to Peter about me!”

“Yes,” Stiles yelled back, “And he didn’t tell me everything so I don’t feel bad!”

Derek took a deep breath and said more calmly, “I’m thirty-six.”

It was a few more years than Stiles would’ve guessed, which was more of a compliment to Derek than an insult. He really didn’t care what age Derek was anyway since Derek acted like a five year old. Still, he grimaced.

“What?”

“I just…I didn’t know you were so old.” He tried to keep a straight face. “I think there’s laws against us”

Derek scowled.

“What’s your favorite color, Derek?”

Derek sighed and took a gulp of his beer. “Don’t have one.”

“Oh come on. There’s gotta be one. There’s red. There’s yellow? There’s blue?”

Derek ignored him and ate his noodles. Stiles decided to shout all the colors of the rainbow into his right ear.

“Candy Pink! Aubergine! Burnt Orange! Dutch Cream!

“Blue!” Derek shouted over Stiles’ shouting to get all the shouting to stop. “My favorite color’s blue!!”

“See. Learning facts.” Stiles smiled. “What’s my favorite color?”

Derek was obviously getting annoyed by all the questions, but still, he answered, “You like blue too.”

“I did that to prove a point,” Stiles told him. “I don’t think it’s the least bit fair that you know everything there is to know about me, and I know zero zit squat shit about you.”

Derek snorted. “What makes you think I know everything?”

“You’re right.” Stiles could rise to this challenge. “There’s one thing you can’t know. What’s the first letter of my name? My real name.”

Derek probably didn’t know Stiles even had another name. The information was top secret. Only a handful of people knew and had already been asked to sign non-disclosure forms. Which was why Derek would never be able to guess. Stiles waited, watching Derek drink more of his beer.

Derek sighed and looked at him, laughter already in his eyes. “W,” He said quickly. “But when you say it out loud it sounds more like a-”

“No!” Stiles shrieked and lunged for his throat, knocking him off his chair. Derek hooted when Stiles strangled him.

“How do you know that!” He shouted. “How the hell do you know that? I’ve never ever told you that!”

Derek could barely stop laughing to get the words out. “Boyd!”

Stiles was banging the back of his head against the floor over and over again.

“OW! He had to do a background check when we first met!”

“My dad had my name changed when I was fifteen!”

“Do you want me to say it?” Derek asked even though his face was red from lack of oxygen. “Cause I can.”

He got Stiles’ hands off from around his neck and tried to run away, but Stiles hopped up onto his back and got him into a chokehold.

“I can say it perfectly!” Derek tried to throw him off. “Stiles, just let me say it! I practiced! It took a really long time!”

“NO!” Stiles jumped down and stomped back over to the counter. He picked up his fork and stabbed at his bowl of noodles. “So unfair. So un-fucking-fair.”

Derek's laughter settled, and he grinned, leaning against the counter. “Alright. Fine. Then, let’s make a deal. You get to ask me one more question. Just one. It could be about anything you want, and I’ll answer it. After that I’m banning questions. Deal?”

“I could take that bait,” Stiles said. “Just let me think.”

He really wanted to make it a good one. Not like the questions he’d asked Peter. But there were just so many things that he didn’t know about Derek that he wanted to know about him. So he decided on one he’d been the most curious about over the past few weeks.

“Er...have you ever been the…receiver… in bed?”

He was nervous to look at Derek but when he did, Derek was laughing quietly. “A bunch of times.”

Stiles eyes widened and he flushed, because the idea. Oh god! The idea. “Sorry. I should have asked. Did you…do you… would you want me to do that to you sometime maybe?”

Derek smirked, then shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know." He nabbed a wet noodle and flicked it onto Stiles’ face. "You already used up your question.”

He cackled as he opened the fridge and got out another beer, and Stiles could still hear him laughing as Derek went upstairs. It was hard for him not to smile too because he loved it when Derek laughed. Then his smile gradually fell as he stayed behind in the quiet kitchen. Yeah, he’d lost. Badly. He could admit that he'd already lost. Everyone was always telling him he was a shit liar and he knew he was. He couldn’t lie to himself anymore. He had to fold.

*

It was a sad tale, a California boy being forced to endure the cold seasons of the East Coast. Stiles so wasn’t made for this. Darwin would agree. Stiles had no place being outdoors in New York when it was below fifty degrees. But Lydia wanted to take a walk through Washington Square Park, so they were taking a walk through Washington Square Park. Thankfully, they had hot chocolate, and Stiles had on a pretty warm jacket and was wearing the scarf he’d gotten from Isaac last Christmas. They walked for a bit but didn’t really talk except for awkward conversation every now and then. They stopped at a bench to sit down, and Stiles stuffed his gloved hands in his pocket as Lydia shivered next to him.

Stiles had never broken up with anyone before. He had no idea how to get out the words. Derek had broken up with him once so maybe he should channel that. But he really didn’t want to hurt Lydia’s feelings. He’d still like them to be friends if they could.

“So Lyds, I’ve been thinking-”

“Stiles, are you trying to break up with me?”

He swallowed and looked down at the ground. “Yeah. I think I am.”

It was silent for a moment, and Stiles waited for the tears, the fireworks, for Lydia to throw her hot chocolate in his face. But Lydia just busted out laughing, holding her stomach as she went through fits and fits of giggles. Well, that definitely wasn’t the reaction he was expecting.

“You’re not allowed,” Lydia said once she’d composed herself.

“What?”

“You’re not allowed to break up with me.”

Stiles tensed and furrowed his brows. “Why not?”

“I’m me, Stiles.” She flipped her hair. “You can’t break up with me. I’m the one that’ll most likely break up with you, and I’m not ready to do that yet."

Stiles frowned. “But I’m clearly making you unhappy.”

She pursed her lips. “And you should fix that.”

“And there’s someone else,” he revealed. It felt good to get it off his chest.

Lydia just sipped her hot chocolate and said, “Then you should fix that too.”

He sat there dumbfounded, having no idea what to say or do next. He was flattered that Lydia still wanted to be with him, but he didn't know how to let her down gently. He was really sorry that he’d done this to her. That he’d started a relationship with her when he wasn’t even close to being over someone else. He felt so bad that he’d used her to try to distract himself from Derek. That he was still so much in love with Derek and doubted he could be what Lydia wanted him to be.

“Also, I’m coming with you this year to thanksgiving with your dad,” Lydia said.

Stiles gaped. Was this a thing? Had anyone ever been taken hostage by a girlfriend before? Well, he’d seen Misery. He’d never thought of Lydia as the psycho girlfriend type, but he was a little scared now. He had no idea what was happening.

Lydia’s smile widened. “Honestly, Stiles. Did you really think that was going to work?” She patted his cheek and walked off. Stiles stood too, still confused, but followed her down through the rest of the park like a lost puppy.

*

Stiles was so happy to see his dad and Melissa again. He’d missed them, and it was nice to be back in Beacon Hills. Some things had changed around the house. It had more touches of Melissa which he liked.

It was also awkward that he was bringing a girlfriend home for the very first time for Thanksgiving. He’d never really talked to his dad about his sexuality or told him about all the guys he’d slept with because ew. But Lydia had charmed the pants off him. His dad kept glancing over at him with the same look everyone else did. How’d you land that?

He helped Melissa in the kitchen while his dad and Lydia bonded over football. He hadn’t been able to see Derek before he’d left. Derek had spent a week away on a business trip and while he was coming in, Stiles was heading out. Which means that they hadn't seen each other for two weeks. He missed him, but Derek had been reading all his texts, even the filthy ones which he used to hate so much.

Stiles was in the dining room, setting the table up for their feast when his dad came in. His dad looked older than when he’d seen him last. There were a few more friendly crinkles around his blue eyes, but for the most part he looked good. That was a testament to Melissa he was sure. He was doing much better health-wise. His dropped his eyes down to the cane in his dad’s hand and was happy to see he didn’t lean on it as much.

After the stroke, his dad had a lot of motor difficulties that he was still working on. But he was able to go back to work and was moving much better than before. His dad set his cane to the side and walked stiffly over to him, offering to help him set the table. Stiles handed him a pile of silverware and napkins and went back to setting down glasses for everyone.

“Hey, son.”

Stiles looked up.

“I’ve got something I’m looking into and I was wondering if you could help me out.”

“Sure, Dad.” Stiles loved helping his dad on cases.

“It’s not exactly a case. I’ve just been doing some digging.”

Stiles set down the last glass and looked over at him. He loved to help with research too, but he was wondering just what kind of thing his Dad was digging into.

“I’ve been looking into all these medical bills,” he said. “Trying to get them all sorted out. But some numbers just aren’t adding up. I honestly can’t make heads or tails of it.”

“What do you mean?” Stiles swallowed.

“It’s just strange that I was in a hospital bed for so long and haven’t really needed to pay as much money as I should have. At first I thought it was just some insurance perk or some kind of mistake, but it’s not. I mean, I was in rehab for a year, and now I’m starting physical therapy.”

He dad shook his head. “We should be paying a lot more money than we have. Especially, with the amount of stuff the insurance doesn’t cover.”

“I- I have no idea, Dad.”

“Guess I’ll just have to do some more digging.” His dad sighed.

He shouldn’t be worried. He’d asked Derek to pay his dad’s medical bills in cash and to be very discrete. Derek was a very smart man when it came to money, but his dad was a detective by trade. It was dangerous to leave any traces behind.

Lydia and Melissa walked into the dining room with the turkey and set the bird down in the center of the table. Dinner was pretty uneventful. Lydia impressed his dad with her brilliance while Melissa talked to Stiles about the possibility of her and his dad finally going on their honeymoon. Stiles wished he could offer to pay for it. They really deserved it.

After dinner, they played Hedbanz which was a lot of fun. The house got quiet around eleven o’clock at night with Lydia and Melissa heading up to bed. He watched a little TV with his dad before his dad started complaining about how television kills brain cells. So, they turned it off and decided to play a game of chess. It was an old routine in their house, midnight chess. He told his dad he’d be right back before they got started. He wanted to make a phone call.

He listened as the phone ring and took a seat on the porch steps. He smiled when the phone picked up and crickets chirped on the other side of the line.

“Really? Dead Silence. You’re not even gonna say hello?”

“Stiles,” Derek said, his voice raspy. “Why are you calling me?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never called you before. I thought you’d be less grumpy over the phone. But you’re even worse.”

He fiddled around with his shoe lace. “Why don’t you try speaking to me in Japanese? Maybe you’ll be nicer to me in another language.”

Derek grunted, and Stiles realized this was why animals weren’t allowed to use phones. “What are you doing right now?”

“Work.”

“On Thanksgiving?” Stiles frowned. He did sound tired. “Did you even eat with your family?”

“My family doesn’t gather on Thanksgiving.”

Stiles gasped. “But it’s a sin not to celebrate the holidays.”

“I don’t do holidays.”

“Don’t do holidays!” Stiles shouted, just because he knew it would annoy the hell out of him.

“Is there a reason you’re calling me?"

“Yes. Happy Thanksgiving even though it’s over.”

“Huh.”

“You’re not going to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving back even though it’s over?”

“You just said it was over.”

“Yeah but you still have to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving otherwise all my happy memories will turn into bad ones.”

Derek sighed and things got quiet again.

“You sound like you miss me.”

“I don’t miss you.”

Stiles smirked. Derek was too easy to annoy. He cleared his throat and decided to bring up a more serious topic. Something that had been on his mind for the past few days.

“So, I saw you gave me a little Thanksgiving bonus.”

It was nine thousand dollars and Stiles really wasn’t happy about it. He’d already donated the whole thing to charity. There were too many people who went hungry on Thanksgiving and needed it more than him.

“I’m not gonna argue with you, but it gets a little hard for me to do the math when you keep putting all this goddamn money into my account!”

Derek sighed heavily, and Stiles could just imagine him rolling his eyes.

“Anyway, I wasn’t calling for that. I was just calling to-”

Derek coughed roughly and Stiles frowned. “Hey. Dude, are you okay? You sound…”

Off. Derek sounded off. The last time Derek started acting weird, he’d ended their deal and walked away from him. Derek wouldn’t do that again, would he? Things had only just begun. But this was just sex, and sex got boring. Maybe Derek was tired of him already.

Stiles searched for something else to talk about instead, shaking off his negative thinking, but the front door opened up and his dad walked out.

“I’ve gotta go,” Stiles told Derek quickly. “But I’ll see you when I get back right?”

Stiles frowned when Derek didn’t say anything. His dad was eyeing him now, but he wasn’t hanging up if Derek didn’t answer the question. Derek had to answer the question. He might not like all the other questions, but he had to answer this one. He knew he did.

“Right?” He asked again. He looked back at his dad who was waiting patiently and gave him a small wave.

“Yeah,” Derek said finally. “You’ll see me. Happy Thanksgiving, Stiles.”

He hung up and let out the breath he’d been holding in, but it wasn’t a sigh of relief. Derek wasn’t okay. Stiles was on the other side of the country and Derek wasn’t okay.

“Who was that,” his dad asked.

“Oh. Just Scott.” He shoved his phone back in his pocket and got up onto his feet.

“You boys can’t be away from each other even for a second, can you?” He smiled. “It’s good. I’m glad you made some great friends up there. Except for that kid Danny. Did you see that he peed in that bucket at some restaurant? That kid’s not doing anything with his head.”

Stiles chuckled but his mind was miles away.

“Hey.” His dad nudged him. “Your ol’ lady. She’s a pretty great girl.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “She’s beautiful.”

“She is but that doesn’t matter to you, right,” his dad asked.

Stiles looked over at him and frowned.

“I mean she’s sweet and all, but I don’t know. I don’t think she’s right for you.

He was used to hearing it from everyone else. Now he was hearing it from his dad too. “Because I could never get a girl like that in a million years?”

His dad shook his head. “Just the opposite. I don’t think there’s anyone out there that’s good enough to deserve someone like you.” He clapped a hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get inside so I can wipe the board with you.”

Stiles watched as he leaned on his cane and walked into the house. He wasn’t going to let himself think about Derek tonight. He was just going to play a game of chess with his dad.

Chapter Text

The Thanksgiving bonus hadn’t exactly been a bonus but a raise. It was nice to be appreciated at work. Stiles was glad to see all the effort he’d been putting in getting the recognition it deserved. In actuality, the raise made his skin crawl, but he was going to accept it anyway. He certainly wasn’t going to argue with Derek about it. He already knew how that conversation was going to go and would much rather slam his head into a concrete wall. Still, he kind of wished he could get his hands on a copy of his performance review.

“I hate Christmas.”

Stiles rolled his eyes for the trillionth time that night. “Yeah. Yeah. We get it already,” he said and hung another ornament on the tree. “You’re the Grinch with your grinchy eyebrows and hate the merry little laughter of merry little children.”

He leaned back and examined his placement of the glittery bulb on the tree then decided it needed to go somewhere else. Stiles was a perfectionist when it came to decorating Christmas trees. All the ornaments had to be matched and evenly dispersed amongst the branches otherwise Santa wouldn’t love him anymore. He was going for a red and white theme with this tree but more upscale. He was a bit of a Christmas tree snob, so there’d be no candy canes or fake snow on this tree. Far too generic. Stiles took the bulb and hooked it onto a lower branch. He decided that the new spot was superior then hopped down from the step stool and walked back over to a scowling Derek.

Stiles had felt weird about asking Derek to decorate the loft for Christmas. But Stiles loved Christmas and couldn’t stand the fact that the loft looked so barren and sad. It’d taken some begging but Derek ultimately agreed. Stiles had gotten the biggest tree he could find and a bunch of ornaments and decorations from a craft store and drenched the loft with Christmas cheer! Derek was a terrible elf though, and a very drunk one at that. He contributed to the tree decorating process by slouching on the couch, drinking half a bottle of scotch, and begrudgingly handing Stiles all the ornaments. Course, he christened each ornament with a nasty glare before handing them to him, and Stiles just wished there could be peace on Earth.

Stiles took what would be the last ornament on the tree from Derek. It was time he ended the poor guy’s misery. He circled the tree about five times before finding just the perfect spot then got super excited as he picked up the extension cord and plugged it into the wall. The tree lit up with glowing bright lights, so beautiful and radiant in Derek’s dark den.

Stiles turned and waited, staring expectantly at Derek.

Derek blinked, then glowered, then sighed. “Alright. I like the trees.”

Stiles beamed.

“But everything else is total bullshit.”

He walked back over to the couch, exhausted from a hard day’s work. They’d been decorating the loft for practically forever, and the den was a mess of ribbons, boxes, and all sorts of decorations. Stiles wasn’t going to clean any of it up though. He was pretty sure cleaning was an orgasmic experience for Derek and tried never to clean up after himself while he was there. Who was he to deny the man his pleasures? Course, there was one pleasure Stiles seriously wished Derek would give up.

“Hey, can I have the rest of this?” He asked, motioning towards Derek’s drink. Derek's eyes were closed as he leaned against an elbow, but he nodded. “Thanks,” Stiles said and picked it up from the coffee table.

He took the drink into the kitchen with him then poured it out into the sink. He would’ve liked to pour the whole bottle down the drain, but he knew how alcoholics worked far too well to do something like that. Derek would just set his mind on finding a way to get another one by any means necessary, and that was the far more dangerous circumstance. Still, Stiles had to set some boundaries. He wasn’t going to stay in any room where Derek was drinking himself to death. He didn’t need to see that.

Stiles had known, more or less, what he was coming back to when he’d gotten off the plane from California. But he wasn’t there to rescue Derek. He also wasn’t there to enable him. Stiles was there simply because he was an idiot and was so fucking in love with the man and didn’t want him to feel deserted. He knew that Derek didn’t have a lot of people in his life that he was close with, and he didn’t want Derek to think that he had no one. Because he did have someone. He had Stiles. And while Stiles was scared for him, he wasn’t going to let Derek’s disease infect him too. He’d learned from growing up with his dad that there was a way to love a person, even if you didn’t love their mistakes. So boundaries. They were going to need lots and lots of boundaries.

Stiles grabbed a box of cookies and headed back into the den, getting happy all over again when he saw their tree. He still needed to decide on the tree topper, which could take a few weeks. There were currently five nominees that he needed to wheedle down to one. Of course, Derek hadn’t been of much help when Stiles had asked for his input.

“Douchebag riding round on reindeer and shitting in chimneys.”

Derek was so getting coal this year. Stiles wished he could figure out how Derek got to be so dark and jaded inside. He really did. For a number of reasons...

He sat down on the couch and tore the box of cookies open, cramming four cookies into his mouth and fluttering his lashes seductively at Derek. Derek made a disgusted face then extended a hand out to the coffee table, frowning when his hand didn’t find what it was he was looking for.

“Did you take my drink?” He asked.

“You gave it to me,” Stiles said. “Two seconds ago. Remember?”

“Oh.” Derek frowned then moved to stand. “I’m just gonna go get another one then.”

“No.” Stiles caught his arm and pulled him back down.

Derek was a big boy and could make his own decisions. Stiles wasn’t going to focus on the drinking too much, and he definitely wasn’t going to try and control it, but he really didn’t feel like leaving the room just yet. He still wanted to sit and admire their tree.

A muscle ticked in Derek’s jaw, and he leaned in close with a hostile glare, baring his teeth. “Who made you the boss of me?”

The look Stiles gave him back was bland. He snapped a bite out of another sugar cookie and chewed noisily. Stiles knew he didn’t need to worry about getting hit. Derek wasn’t like that. Sure enough, after a few seconds, Derek was grinning and drunkenly dropping wet messy kisses all over his face. Stiles shifted in his seat and corrected the kissing, guiding them until their lips were properly sealed together.

Derek was a very different alcoholic from how his father had been. His dad’s drinking had almost ruined their lives. It’d certainly ruined Stiles’ childhood. But Derek seemed fine to everyone else, and no one would suspect anything if they didn’t look closely. He had a much higher tolerance than his dad did and appeared to be functioning like usual. He sipped all day to keep the shakes out then caved in on himself at night, sitting somewhere for hours and drowning himself until his eyes were blank and lost. While his dad would get sloppy. He’d curse the world for losing his wife. Destroy things. Get into fights. Sob and blackout. Some nights he wouldn’t even come home. And Stiles always had to worry about his fists. Stiles didn’t know which one was harder to watch.

Stiles flushed as Derek’s tongue traced along the underside of his lip, then hummed when Derek kissed and nibbled at his pulse point. He tilted his head to offer Derek more of his neck, knotting his fingers in his hair.

“But seriously, what the hell did you do with my drink?” Derek’s head came up.

“Ugh! Keep kissing me!” Stiles cried and kissed him until they were both breathless.

Derek grouched, “I want to do a lot more than kiss you, you idiot.”

He laid down and spread himself out on the couch, resting his head in Stiles’ lap. They weren’t having sex if Derek was like this. It was another one of their boundaries. Even though Derek was a high-functioning alcoholic, Stiles wasn’t going to sleep with someone that he couldn’t totally trust to be in control of themselves. He was fine being with him when he was sober though.

Stiles combed his fingers through Derek’s hair then undid his tie, tuning out the incoherent mumbling that never made any sense. It was risky staying with him, Stiles knew that. God, he knew. He even felt like he was dooming himself. But he was probably the only person that knew how to help Derek, and he’d already committed himself to doing this, so he wasn’t backing out now. For Stiles, this wasn’t business anymore. He was throwing out the terms and conditions of their deal. He wanted to be there for Derek, but he was only doing this under his own provisions.

Stiles heard Derek mutter something about atoms and monopoly and stuffed his mouth full of cookies so he would shut the fuck up and go to sleep already. He was ruining the Christmas tree’s Zen.

“Stiles? Are you even listening to me?” Derek slurred, crumbs falling from his mouth.

“I am,” Stiles lied. “I just missed the last part. What’d you say?”

“I said I’m wooing you.”

He looked down, furrowing his brows. “Wooing me?”

“With potatoes.”

“Potatoes!” Stiles could definitely be wooed with potatoes.

“If I got you an entire truck full of curly fries right now, would you stop this and have sex with me already?”

Stiles opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to figure out how he should respond. A part of him wanted to know more about these curly fries, and if the truck could be upgraded to a 10-foot pool. But another part of him needed to let Derek know that he couldn’t be bought with food, even though he would so love it if he could be bought with food.

“Stiles! Pay attention! This is a serious offer!”

Stiles sighed. “I don’t want any curly fries, dude. What was the part about monopoly?”

“That I prefer Jack Daniels.” Derek closed his eyes again.

“Okay,” Stiles said because there wasn’t much one could say when talking with an inebriated Derek. Derek only made sense to Derek when he was this way.

“So you’re not hungry?”

“Nope.”

“Then why aren’t we having sex right now?”

“Because you’re shitfaced.”

He’d already told him five times that night why they weren’t having sex, but Derek was so ditzy and forgetful sometimes. Stiles was more than happy to remind him. He’d even thought about writing it down on a post-it somewhere.

Derek groaned. “Just tell me what you want, so I can go get it and you can stop doing this to me!

Stiles felt for the guy. Really, he did. But he was sticking to his guns and maintaining the boundaries he’d put in place. Derek did this to himself anyways.

“I don’t want anything,” Stiles told him.

Derek snorted. “Course, you do. Everyone wants something.”

He cocked his head and contemplated that. “Yeah, I guess they do... So what do you want for Christmas, Derek?”

Figures now would be the time Derek chose to fall asleep. Obviously, because there was a question involved.

“Hey.” Stiles patted his face gently. “What do you want for Christmas?”

“For the whole day to be wiped off the calendar,” Derek mumbled.

“Come on. Really?”

Stiles didn’t understand why Christmas wasn’t Derek’s favorite holiday. Derek was Santa. He was always showering Stiles with gifts, and he used to give him a gift for Christmas before he left for break. Stiles liked to give Derek a Christmas gift too, but he wasn’t as good at making them special the way Derek was.

“I don’t want anything,” Derek said finally.

“Why not?” Stiles asked.

“I never want anything.”

“What’d you want last year?”

“Nothing.”

“What’d you want when you were a kid?”

“Nothing.”

“Balls! Everyone wants something when they’re a kid. So what’d you want?”

“I wanted to be around the other kids in the refugee camps. I wanted to help hand out food and water. I wanted to-”

“Seriously?”

Derek chuckles then got very quiet. “You wouldn’t get it because you didn’t know my mom. We never got presents. She always told us it was more of a reward to help others, and she’s right. It is.”

Derek shifted in his lap, playing with his fingers as he talked. “We’d spend our Christmas breaks with her in some other part of the world, raising awareness for her latest cause. Usually, about refugee populations and bringing aid to certain war zones, which I still strongly support. And when you’re helping people like that, you forget about bullshit like Christmas.”

He clumsily laced their fingers together, and Stiles swallowed, his throat feeling dry. He wasn’t sure if Derek would want him to hear stuff like this if he was sober. Stuff about Talia. Especially when he’d never offered up any information about her before. He kind of wanted to wipe it from his mind. Stiles was very open when it came to talking about his mom. He liked talking about her and sharing his memories. But Derek was closed off about a lot of things, and it felt wrong to hear stuff that Derek wouldn’t normally share.

Derek was staring off into space, his eyes vacant and flat. Stiles always wondered what he was thinking about when his eyes got like that.

He waited a few seconds before leaning in close and whispering, “What’d you secretly always want?”

He just couldn’t let it go.

Derek busted out laughing and grinned widely. “A dog,” he said. “Secretly, I’ve always wanted a dog.”

*

They were married. Stiles didn’t know if Derek knew this, but they were. It’d been one thing when Derek had given him the key to the loft, but it was completely different now that Stiles had a toothbrush, a drawer, space in the closet, and some of his favorite snacks stocked in the fridge. They bickered, fucked, and fought about the stupidest stuff; mainly Stiles’ lack of cleanliness and Derek’s typical assholery. Stiles had even determined that the reason he was getting paid so much was because he had to put up with Derek’s incessant nagging. Really, Stiles was going to need a lot more than nine thousand dollars a week if he had to keep listening to it.

“Don’t you have your own pillow?” Derek stopped scrolling through his phones and scowled over at him.

“Yeah.” Stiles scooted closer. “But you can go ahead and have that one. I like this one so much better.”

They’d spent the day in bed together. Derek had just gotten back from a short trip, and they were making up for lost time. Christmas was in a few days, and his dad and Melissa would be visiting for a couple’s getaway. Stiles probably wouldn’t get to see Derek as much while they were here. He knew Derek was going to miss him tons. He was going to be so sad having the loft so clean and tidy again. What was he going to do now that Stiles wasn’t going to be around to drop syrup all over the kitchen floor? He knew how much Derek adored stepping on sticky floors.

Derek put his phones down and closed the small space between them, nuzzling along Stiles’ jaw. He captured his lips in a sweet long kiss that had Stiles dying for someone to claw his throat out just to keep himself from blurting out I love you. It’d been happening a lot lately, wanting to say “I love you”. Stiles understood why he couldn’t, but the words had permanently lodged themselves in his throat. And since he’d never been good at controlling his mouth, it was a constant battle to keep them down.

Derek’s hand slid to his hip, his stubble scraping over Stiles’ shoulder as he nosed at his collarbone. He parted his lips when Derek’s mouth floated over his again, their breaths mixing until the asshole was smacking his ass hard.

“OW!!!”

“Get up,” Derek said. “We’re taking a shower.”

Derek hopped over him and down onto the floor. Stiles groaned and buried his head back into the pillow, his ass hot with pain.

“Why do we have to take a shower?” He whined. “Why do we always have to take a shower? I’m not taking a shower. I’m staying in bed with my own filth and yours, and I’m taking a nap! And I’m taking advantage of my time alone to use some singular goddamn personal pronouns for a change!”

Who was he kidding? Stiles loved taking showers with Derek. Shower sex was his favorite thing in the world and Derek knew it. But he liked to put up a fuss anyway because disobedience was in his nature, and he really hated it when Derek tried to tell him what to do.

“Do whatever you want,” Derek called as he disappeared into the bathroom. “Just don’t do it in my bed. The second you fall asleep, you’re impossible to wake up, and I’m not going to be here, so come get your ass in the shower.”

The water started running, and Stiles wondered how long he could stay in bed before Derek started yelling at him.

“Stiles! Get your ass in the shower now!”

Not long apparently.

He sighed and threw the covers off, getting up and hobbling to the bathroom. He would’ve moved a lot faster had he not just been mortally wounded. Stiles opened the shower door and stepped inside. Derek’s shower could probably fit a bus full of people. Stiles didn’t understand why Derek needed so much space in the shower, but it was good for shower sex. Nice and roomy for activities.

Derek shoved his head roughly under the water, and Stiles sputtered, wiping water away from his face and glaring at Derek like a drowned cat. Derek was cracking up, of course. Stiles found that Derek only laughed these days when he was tormenting him, and Stiles was really starting to hate the sound of his laughter.

“I’ll have you know that I wake up on my own all the time,” Stiles informed him, stepping out from under the stream and raising both his arms so Derek could soap his body. “Every morning in fact.”

Derek completely ignored him and spun him around so he could get at his back.

“Yeah I know. I’m kind of a big deal. I’m even expected to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics. So, I don’t think I’ll need you here to wake me up.”

He shrugged. “Besides I have a key.”

Stiles liked to bring up that fact as much as possible, because if Derek didn’t know they were engaged to be wed then he was going to have to figure it out on his own. Stiles wasn’t going to be the one to tell him.

Derek shoved his head back under the water then grumbled, “Didn’t you say you had to meet with your little girlfriend later? You’ll be late.”

Derek had never met Lydia, but he obviously didn’t like her. Stiles didn’t like her either right now. In fact, he’d been hiding from her for the past few weeks. He ignored about eighty-five percent of her texts and phone calls and deleted most voicemails. They weren’t the cute ones he was used to getting, anyway. Scott still really liked Lydia for him though and wanted them to start going on double dates again. But Stiles wasn’t bringing Lydia around. She scared him, and Stiles knew she was capable of brilliance. She could probably get away with cutting his body up into tiny little pieces and disposing of him in a bucket of hydrofluoric acid. And yeah, Stiles totally needed to stop watching episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix.

“No, I don’t have to see her anymore,” Stiles said then stepped back to let Derek rinse off. “And dude, how many times do I have to tell you that Lydia is not my girlfriend?”

“I don’t know. Maybe until you actually break up with her.”

“I’m going to! I just-” Derek cut him off, pressing him up against the tile and latching his mouth onto Stiles’ neck. “She says I’m not allowed. And you know me, I really respect AH!”

Derek dropped down onto his knees and swallowed him whole without any warning. Stiles let out a strangled cry and bucked, forced to grab onto one of Derek's shoulder to keep himself from falling over.

“-laws,” he moaned. “It’s in my-” He watched as Derek’s head bobbed, his mouth silky and incredible around Stiles’ cock. “… genes.”

Stiles leaned his head back and bunched a hand in Derek’s hair, completely forgetting what he’d been talking about.

*

Stiles usually liked to stay in the shower for a while after Derek got out. He liked running up Derek’s water bill and staying in there until his hands pruned and Derek started nagging him about water conservation. He hopped out just as Derek’s lecture turned to water scarcity since that was something that got to him and headed towards the closet room while Derek groomed his face.

He dropped his soggy towel onto the floor and pulled out some clothes, then grinned when Derek walked in grumbling under his breath and picked it right up for him. Stiles got dressed a lot faster than Derek did, dressing in his chinos, a crisp white dress shirt, and his favorite green winter cardigan. He frowned when he saw that Derek was putting on one of his finer gray suits and looking quite dapper. Derek certainly wasn’t dressing that nice for him.

“Where are you going anyway,” he asked, suspicious.

“To a thing.”

One day, Derek was going to have to learn how to answer questions. One day.

“What kind of thing?”

“A thing kind of thing.” Derek held two ties up to himself in the mirror.

“The burgundy one,” Stiles said, then walked over and sniffed him. “You’re dressing awfully nice for a thing kind of thing.” He was really jealous now. “What are you going on a date?”

“I’m not really the one who goes on dates in this set-up,” Derek slighted.

Stiles’ jaw dropped because that was just slander! “You’re not the one with any manners either.”

Derek cinched his tie. “It’s a family thing.”

“Family thing?”

Well, that was interesting.

“I thought you said the Hale family didn’t gather for stuff. You guys didn’t gather on Thanksgiving, which is an abomination, and you don’t seem to gather for anything else. So why are you gathering now?”

Derek shrugged and picked out a pocket square from one of the drawers.

“So, what will you guys be doing at this family gathering,” Stiles asked. “Collectively frowning. Glaring menacingly at your naked baby pictures?”

“I don’t have any baby pictures.”

Stiles cringed, remembering that Derek might not have any baby pictures because he’d lost his home in a tragic fire, which he probably didn’t want to be reminded of right now.

Derek was nice to him though. “I was never a baby.” He stuck his tongue out.

“Yeah. Well, you’re kind of being one right now by not telling me what you’re going to be doing with your family.”

Derek just shrugged and took his time picking out a watch from his watch display. When it came to watches, Derek liked to go for rare, well-crafted, and ridiculously expensive, so the display was filled with all kinds of beautiful pieces.

“You want to come, don’t you?” Derek asked knowingly.

He did. Badly. “What, no man. I know that’s not part of our deal.”

Derek looked over at him. “I could invite you.”

Stiles swallowed and sat down on one of the plush leather seats, pulling on his shoes. “I wouldn’t turn down an invitation. I’m not that rude.”

Derek mulled it over. “I don’t think I’m going to.”

Stiles’ face fell. Derek was still a repulsive tease. “Why not?”

“I don’t think I want you meeting the rest of my family.”

Stiles kept his eyes low and mumbled, “You don’t have to lie or make up some shitty excuse. We can just be honest here. You’re embarrassed of me.”

Derek’s head flew up. “Embarrassed of you?” He scowled. “Oh yeah, I’m real embarrassed of you.”

Stiles shoulders tensed and he grinded his teeth. “I’m sure you are.”

“It’s not like I’ve ever taken you anywhere where there’s important colleagues of mine or press around.” Derek laughed disdainfully. “Yeah, I’m real embarrassed of you.”

“I knew it.” Stiles didn’t say anything else, his grip tight as he yanked at his laces.

The room was quiet as they both finished getting ready.

“I have to go,” Derek said then slammed a drawer shut and left the room.

Stiles flailed after him.

“It’s a good thing you’re not taking me with you.” He caught up with Derek as he started down the stairs. “I’m just glad to finally hear you say you’re embarrassed of me. I’ve known it for a while now, ever since the Gelato incident of 2012. You never wanted to take me out for anything frozen after that.”

“Really?” Derek whirled on him. “The Gelato Incident. That’s the one you’re going with? What about that time you introduced me to all of your friends as your cousin Miguel?”

Stiles floundered.

“Thought I’d forget about that one,” He sneered. “I was real embarrassed of you then.”

He strode towards the front door, and Stiles stalked after him, pressed on getting another word in. Boyd was standing right outside as Derek opened the door, and Stiles waved at him.

“Mr. Hale. Mr. Stilinski,” Boyd said, a secret smile on his face. No one else witnessed them argue as much as Erica, Isaac, and Boyd. Boyd pressed the button to call the elevator and crossed his hands behind his back, finding something super interesting about the ceiling all of a sudden.

“Well, I wasn’t sure if you wanted me introducing you to all my friends as my sugar daddy,” Stiles said, scrambling to pick up the conversation where they’d left off, “But I did anyway, because I’ve never been embarrassed of you, even though I should be because…”

He scanned Derek for something embarrassing, then sighed. “Yeah. I’ve got nothing.”

Derek smirked and lightened up.

“Anyway, I know it’s not our thing.” Stiles dropped his voice low so Boyd wouldn’t hear. “We’re just physical now, you know. You and me UFC fighting on a mattress.”

The elevator reached their floor and they all stepped in.

“I was just curious. Ever since I learned your family’s names, Laura. Cora. Malia. I was wondering if you’re all really related.”

He struggled to keep his expression serious. “Somehow you’re missing an ‘A’ at the end of your name, and I think maybe someone’s not telling you something.”

“Shut up,” Derek said and fidgeted with his collar pin.

“I can’t. The word literally has no effect on me. You started it when you never stopped me from talking before. It’s actually all your fault.”

Derek raised a brow. “Oh, I’m to blame? Really?” He crowded Stiles back into a corner of the elevator. “I always thought it was a birth defect.”

Stiles grinned. “We’ll I’m not even too sure of that myself.” He lifted his hands and hung them onto Derek’s lapels. “We’ll have to pull up my hospital records.”

Stiles felt bad for Boyd. Honestly, he did. Especially since he’d had such strong stances on PDA in the past. Strong stances he’d since retracted. It was a long elevator ride, and they were thirty-three floors up. What else were they going to do besides make out?

“Shield your eyes, Boyd!” Stiles cried as Derek’s tongue found its way into his mouth.

Derek told him a lot of stuff about himself now, Stiles was happy to say. Most of it unprompted. Of course, he didn’t go into much detail, because Derek wasn’t a details kind of guy, but Stiles knew some general facts about his family. He knew that Derek’s older sister Laura was a retired runway model and a dedicated humanitarian. He also knew that the sister he’d seen at the club, Cora, was much younger than the both of them and a busy entrepreneur. He didn’t know much about Malia though; Peter’s daughter and Derek’s ward after Peter had gone into the looney bin eight years ago. Derek wasn’t very forthcoming with information about her for some reason.

Boyd cleared his throat when the elevator doors opened, and they untangled themselves from each other long enough to see that, indeed, they had.

“Okay,” Derek said and stepped away.

Stiles frowned. “Okay?”

“You can come with me if you want,” he said. “Just don’t-”

“Embarrass you! I won’t! I promise!” Stiles cried, jumping up and down, giddy that he was getting to come.

“-get excited.” Derek’s nostrils flared. “I was going to say don’t get excited.”

“Oh,” Stiles said as Derek stormed out of the elevator, looking like he was about ready to take his invitation back. Stiles zipped his mouth shut and slunk after him, while Boyd just laughed and shook his head.

*

The Hale family secret society gathering wasn’t in a dungeon like Stiles would’ve thought but in a luxurious penthouse at the Four Seasons. Stiles felt weird about meeting Derek’s family, mostly because why the hell was he meeting Derek’s family? The two of them weren’t actually dating. Stiles was an ex-sugar baby / rehired sugar baby / slutty mister-ess, and they were just playing house or doing whatever the fuck it was they were doing. Stiles didn’t even try to define it anymore. It honestly made his head hurt so much that he needed to chug a whole bottle of Advil.

He wrung his fingers as they rode up in the private elevator. “Hey am I dressed okay?” He asked.

Derek looked him over and blinked then proceeded to not answer the goddamn question! Stiles let out an exasperated sigh.

Everything he was wearing was designer, but he wasn’t dressed nearly as nicely as Derek was. He wished he was dressed semi-formally, at least. He had no idea what kind of event he was walking into, and as a veteran sugar baby, he knew how important it was to dress the part. Stiles had always made sure to look appropriate for every function he attended with Derek. It was essential for people to get the impression that he belonged there. And the last thing he wanted to do was make his sugar daddy look bad.

It was a long elevator ride again, and they probably could’ve gotten away with a quickie if Derek wasn’t such a pussy. When the elevator finally stopped, Derek stepped out, and like usual, didn’t even look back to see if Stiles was following. To say the penthouse was lavish was an understatement. It was high above the city, and the floor to ceiling windows gave them a gorgeous 360° view of the night skyline. A butler greeted them as they entered and led them towards the living room where he said Derek’s family was situated. Stiles lagged behind as they got closer and he heard the voices of two women arguing loudly.

“I don’t remember me saying I wasn’t going to have any of my assistants do anything!” Cora was shouting. “Of course my assistants were going to do something! I had them order the cake weeks ago!”

“Well, I don’t know why you have to have such a negative aura around you all the time, Cora!” A woman that could only be Laura was shouting back. “You could’ve said that instead making me think my assistants would have to do it all themselves!”

Laura resembled Derek a lot with high cheekbones, dark unruly hair that fell to her waist, thick eyebrows, and Derek’s gorgeous green hazel eyes. It was obvious she’d been successful as a model. She was absolutely stunning with a seriously rocking bod. Stiles knew that because he could see a lot of it. There was a reason why Derek’s other sister was named Bologna. She was the more eccentric one, wild and out there and almost always scantily clad. That was certainly the case now. He wasn’t sure if Laura knew that it was winter outside and that pneumonia was a thing that happened to people when they didn’t wear scarves. She was dressed in a sheer black gown with a plunging neckline that stopped at her navel, and a long slit in the skirt which showed off her amazing legs. Stiles wondered if she wore a similar outfit when she went skiing.

He was also happy to see that he wasn’t the only one underdressed. Peter was there in his signature robe and loafers. Stiles was pretty sure it was his uniform. He haunted Derek’s loft in them. Stiles had had no idea Peter even lived with Derek, until Peter walked in on them fucking in the den a few weeks ago. Derek was adamant that Peter didn’t live there though, even though Peter wafted in and out of Derek’s loft at his leisure, like a very comfortably dressed ghost.

The butler left them in the entryway, and they watched as Derek’s sisters went for each other’s throats. Peter perked up when he saw them and stood from his chair. He cleared his throat and began bellowing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow!”

Peter was a phenomenal singer and an excellent tenor. He sung with a lot of smooth bass in his voice, like some of the men on Broadway. Stiles was thoroughly enjoying his performance, although he didn’t understand why Peter was singing at all, or why he’d chosen that particular song. He also didn’t understand why Derek’s sisters had stopped arguing and joined in, both a little pitchy but well harmonized. This definitely wasn’t flash-mob Christmas caroling.

Derek just stood there and rolled his eyes, like it was every day a chorus line spontaneously started singing to him. Then, as the singing tapered off, a loud squeal pierced through the room, forcing Stiles to dodge out of the way when a petite teenage girl ran out from behind the couch and flung herself onto Derek.

“Malia!” Derek caught the girl in his arms, crushing her to him and burying his face in her hair. He twirled them around.

“Surprise!” She cried.

Derek laughed. “Yeah, and you’re a good one.”

He put her back down on the ground. Stiles couldn’t believe the bright smile on his face as he leaned down and placed a tender kiss on her forehead. “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to get notice every time you leave school grounds, twerp.”

“Well, you are.” Malia grinned. “But Dad’s sane enough to be a parental guardian again, aren’t you Dad?”

Peter pursed his lips. “Well, what is sanity really?”

“So I had them call him. That way I could come here and give you all your birthday punches.” She jabbed one of Derek’s shoulders. “Happy Birthday Derry.”

Wow. A pet name. Malia just called Derek a pet name, and Derek wasn’t punching her in the face. That was so un- Okay, Stiles wasn’t about to be jealous of a fifteen year old girl. But then a record scratched when he registered what she’d just said. Birthday?

The attention in the room shifted away from Derek and Malia and moved over to where Stiles stood awkwardly in the doorway. Stiles started to sweat when no one said anything after a while and looked over at Derek for help, kind of wanting to run away.

Laura was the first to offer him a friendly smile and said to Derek, “Peter told us you’d be bringing someone.”

“Did he?” Derek threw a glare in Peter’s general direction.

“Yes.” Laura sauntered up to him, gazing intensely into his eyes. “Hello, Stiles.” She said then bowed before him. “Namaste.”

Stiles looked at Derek, unsure what to do, and Derek sent him a look back that said, ‘don’t ask’.

“Yeah uh…Namaste to you too.”

“I’m Laura, Derek’s sister. This bright beam of glistening sunshine is Cora, Derek’s other sister. And this blossoming lotus flower over here is our cousin, Malia.”

She motioned towards the couch. “Please. Sit.”

Malia grabbed one of Derek’s arms and hauled him over to the empty spot on the couch. For such a small girl, she had a lot of strength. Stiles took the seat beside them, but it felt like he was intruding. The two of them clearly had some catching up to do. Malia was looking up at Derek with so much adoration in her eyes, like he was her hero, and it was…cute! Stiles had never seen Derek like this before. He honestly had no idea who this person was.

Peter caught him watching them and appeared to be quite amused. Stiles shifted in his seat, still uncomfortable around all these Hales.

“Now back to our conversation, Cora,” Laura started up again. “We have two cakes! Derek doesn’t even like one! If you had just said your assistants would be doing any little thing at all…”

Derek sighed deeply then leaned in and whispered to him, “Now do you see why I didn’t want you to come? It’s not you I’m embarrassed of. It’s them.”

Stiles watched as Derek’s sisters fought, extremely glad to be an only child, then whispered back, “You have a birthday?”

Derek looked at him like he was dumb. “Doesn’t everyone?”

“Yes,” Stiles said tightly. “Everyone does.”

It had taken everything in him to control his anger thus far. Anytime he got even a little bit upset, Derek liked to call it a tantrum, which in turn made Stiles have an actual tantrum. He didn’t want to look like a brat in front of Derek’s family, but he was about to incite a riot.

“Which is why I ask Erica at the beginning of every year when your birthday is,” Stiles grounded out, “And do you know what she tells me? That you were born on a day in a month in a year and that you’ll probably die the same way!”

Derek blinked. “Erica doesn’t know when my birthday is.”

“Why wouldn’t Erica know your birthday? She’s your assistant.”

This was the Argent Cross thingamajig all over again. Derek had to to stop bringing him places without informing him of the context.

“I cannot believe you wouldn’t tell me it was your birthday!” Stiles jumped to his feet, livid. “When I have been with you all day!

“Oh, don’t be too mad at our birthday boy, Stiles,” Peter said. “He’s only trying to downplay his special day.”

“Downplay!” Stiles cried. “When he’s never even told me a special day existed in the last three years!”

“Three years?” Laura raised a brow. “Well, Derek why haven’t we met Stiles before?”

Oh, Stiles would tell her why. “Because he’s-”

“Stop it, Stiles!” Derek snapped.

“It’s my fault really,” Peter said sorrowfully. “I should have included it on my side of the Venn diagram.”

“Peter, there’s a lot you should have included on your side of the Venn diagram!”

“What’s a Venn diagram?” Malia asked.

“I’m confused,” Cora broke in. “You two have been doing what exactly for the last three years?”

“Use your imagination Cora,” Peter crowed. “I certainly don’t have to.”

“It really hasn’t been three years,” Derek muttered.

Cora spoke again, “I’d just like Derek to confirm and state for public record what his involvement is with this ‘Stiles’. That way none of us in the room get confused and make the wrong assumption that this relationship apparently started when Stiles was a fetus.”

“It’s the chart with the rings right?” Malia asked.

“It’s sickening ,” Peter went on. “Those two go at it in just about every room in the loft. No courtesy for the other people that live there at all.”

“Peter. You don’t live there,” Derek stressed.

“As you can see, I haven’t learned much at boarding school,” Malia quickly snuck in. “Which is why no one should be surprised when they see that I’m failing math on my report card.”

“I mean I’ve caught them in the den, in the dining room, in the kitchen which I think is plain unsanitary.”

“Maybe two. But it definitely hasn’t been three years.”

“Stiles, why don’t we try a deep breathing exercise where we take all the negative energy from our minds and expel it out through our wombs,” Laura offered.

But Stiles’ womb was already pregnant with rage. “Figures you wouldn’t remember our anniversary!” He shouted. “Just like you apparently don’t remember the day you were born!!”

He kicked Derek in the shin, satisfied when Derek squalled in pain, then stomped away and dropped into a seat next to Peter while Derek just laughed. Derek always found Stiles’ outbursts endlessly amusing. Stiles would show him how amusing he was one day when he cut off his dick.

The laughter died suddenly, and Derek whipped his head around, shouting at Malia, “What do you mean failing math!!”

Things settled down after that. Derek’s sisters went back to arguing. Derek went back to being cute with Malia. Peter smoked a pipe. Derek was letting Malia talk his ear off, regaling him with all these insane tales from boarding school, which never ended up being true. Derek fell for them every time, and when Malia would tell him that she was just joking, Derek would tell her that he wasn’t sending her to school to become a pathological liar. It was fascinating to see the way Derek was with her. He picked on her a lot, like how he teased and taunted Stiles. But the two were both so quick and evenly matched, so she didn’t get as bothered. They were so much alike. Stiles could understand why. After all, Derek did technically raise her.

When dinner was served, they all moved into a dining room where a table was beautifully set for six. Stiles really must’ve been expected, or Derek had planned on bringing a plus one that canceled on him last minute. Luckily, he had a superbly trained sugar baby at his convenient disposal. Stiles took the seat next to Derek at the table, but he wasn’t going to talk to him. Stiles wouldn’t be talking to him for the rest of the week. In fact, he was making believe that Derek had never been born and was ignoring his existence entirely.

The birthday dinner was definitely fit for Derek. They were being served authentic French cuisine, which Derek loved, by a well-known chef. Stiles had already guessed that filet mignon had to be somewhere on the menu, because it was Derek’s favorite and he was so predictable. Stiles had definitely grown a broader taste pallet since being a sugar baby. He’d gotten to eat at all kinds of five-star restaurants, and he appreciated French foods so much more after spending some time there over the summer. But there was still one thing that Stiles was never going to try.

“Eat it.”

“No.”

“You should try it at least once in your life.”

“Never.”

“It honestly doesn’t taste as bad as you think.”

“I’d rather not, thank you.”

Stiles grimaced down at their starter plate of escargot and nudged one of the shells with his fork before putting it back down. He didn’t understand what Derek found so appetizing about snails. All he saw when he looked down at his plate was Gary from Spongebob.

“Why do we have to have this argument every time?” Stiles asked. “You’re never going to convinced me to put that in my mouth, so stop talking to me. I don’t need liars like you talking to me.”

Derek’s lip twitched. “How am I a liar?”

Stiles wasn’t going to bother answering that question. Stiles didn’t answer idiots. He crossed his arms and kept his nose pointedly in the air and erased Derek from the room entirely.

“Here.”

Stiles squawked when Derek caught his chin and tried to force feed him the slimy goopy thing. He wailed and batted Derek’s hands away. He even tried to bite him. Stiles didn’t actually know if he was allergic to snails, but he was totally allergic to snails, and Derek was going to be real sorry when Stiles’ throat closed up and he died right there on the table. But as greatly as he tried, he couldn’t keep the tragedy from happening. An insect was in his mouth. An insect was actually in his mouth.

Now, Stiles wasn’t one of those people who’d eaten worms as a kid, and he’d never gotten a fly caught in his throat, so he was absolutely disgusted that a creepy crawly critter was sitting on his tongue. His face scrunched up, and he refused to chew, even though Derek had a hand covering his mouth so he couldn’t spit it out. Eventually, Stiles gave in and ate it. He was definitely surprised by the taste. He really didn’t want to like it. It was gross to chew. So gross. But it tasted more like butter and seasoning than anything else. Like really flavorful snot vomit. Stiles decided that it tasted half decent.

Derek dropped his hand, and Stiles picked up his fork, deciding to give another one of those slimy suckers a try. Derek looked smug, of course, so Stiles said, “Now that I know you’re a Capricorn, I’m always going to associate that particular sign with evil.”

“Evil? Huh.” Derek dabbed at his mouth with his napkin and leaned back in his chair. “Jesus was a Capricorn.”

“What?”

“Jesus. If you believe his birthday was actually on Christmas, then he would be considered a Capricorn.”

“You and Jesus? One and the same?” Why wasn’t the sky opening up and striking Derek down with lightening already?

“And let’s not forget-”

Stiles’ face dropped, and he snatched Derek’s tie in his hand, yanking him off his chair.

“Don’t say Santa!” He snarled, menacingly holding a fork to Derek's eye. “Don’t you fucking dare say Santa!”

“I was-” Derek's tongue lolled and he gasped for air. Stiles threatened him again with the fork, ready to strike. “I was going to say Martin Luther King!”

Stiles let go, and Derek clattered to the floor, dying with laughter. Stiles stabbed his fork into one of his snail shells, imaging it was Derek’s eye socket. He’d be fine eating one of Derek’s eyeballs. It’d probably taste delicious with hot sauce. Derek picked himself up and sat back down in his chair, still laughing his head off. Stiles blushed as Derek’s sisters shot them snooty disapproving looks. If Derek didn’t shut up soon, he was going to die. Stiles was going to kill him, and this would be the last birthday he ever had. But Derek didn’t stop, and he laughed through the remaining courses of their seven-course meal. Malia giggled too and smiled at him. Stiles just went back to doing the ‘pretending Derek had never been born’ thing.

They sang “Happy Birthday” after dinner, doing the two cakes instead of desert. Derek refused to blow out his candles though, so Malia did it for him. When they were all finished and most of Derek’s family had moved into the other room, Derek nudged his foot.

“May 22nd,” he said.

“What?” Stiles turned to him.

“Our ‘anniversary’” He chuckled at that. “You said I didn’t remember it. It’s May 22nd.”

It was a fight to the death to keep the words from spilling out his mouth. To stop himself from shouting them at the top of his lungs. He had no idea what else to say besides that thing he really wanted to say. Then Derek swiped a handful of icing down the side of his face, and all Stiles wanted to say was “fuck you, you annoying pain in my ass!” Derek grinned and tossed a napkin at him, then got up. Stiles stayed behind to clean his face. He was alone now that Derek had left the room and let himself smile for the first time that night. He wasn’t all that mad anyways.

*

They stationed themselves in the living room again after dinner. Stiles took a seat at the grand piano and watched as Derek’s sisters fought. The two of them hadn’t stopped arguing the entire evening, and everyone had become immune to it, including Stiles. Derek was sitting on the couch with his arms crossed over his chest, listening to the two of them throw insults back and forth like a ping pong match.

Derek was superb at hiding it. Really, no one would suspect anything, but Stiles could always tell when he was having withdrawals. He usually kept his hands in his pockets or crossed his arms so no one would notice the tremors. Stiles would give it ten minutes before he was leaving the room for some reason to go look for a drink, his family none the wiser. Stiles didn’t judge though. Derek needed help, not judgment. This was a chronic illness that had influence over his every action. And Derek was only fooling himself if he thought he was in control of it.

A weight plopped down next to him on the bench, and Stiles glanced over to find a cheerful Malia. While Malia was adorable, she was also terrifying. She was obviously a person that Derek loved. Maybe even the only person. That scared him for some reason.

“Do you play?” Malia asked and looked down at the piano.

“Do I play?” Stiles scoffed and lifted the fallboard. He sat up straight on the bench and placed his hands on the keys, clearing his throat then proceeded to give the worst piano performance the world had ever seen. Malia even covered her ears. “Yeah, no. I don’t play.”

“I don’t think you necessarily needed to state it after that.” She gave him a smirk that Stiles instantly recognized as one of Derek’s. “Scoot over. Let me show you how it’s done.”

Stiles moved to give Malia more room on the bench. She rested her hands on the keys then closed her eyes, taking a deep long breath. Stiles’ jaw dropped when she began wielding magic with her fingertips. She was a wizard. Her hands ran over the keys expertly, playing a brisk tune that Stiles wouldn’t recognize, because he didn’t know anything about the piano. She must have inherited her musical genius from Peter. The two of them should consider forming a father-daughter indie-folk band.

“La Campanella,” She said when she finished. “It’s one of Derek’s favorites that I play.”

She turned and waved at Derek, who smiled back. Stiles was surprised Derek enjoyed classical music. He seemed more like metal-head to him.

“You’re his boyfriend right,” Malia asked. “Even though you’re mad at him, you’re still his boyfriend?”

“Uh… yeah…” Stiles decided to go with that, even though he felt bad about lying to someone who was probably closer to Derek than anyone else.

“He pays you doesn’t he?”

Stiles stiffened and stayed completely still. He hated when it snuck up on him like that. When he’d almost forgotten about the money for a minute and relaxed, only to remember that it was an ever-present factor in their relationship. It felt like a stab wound every time. He’d be in bed with him and remember, or they’d be showering together and he’d snap back. The money was reality. Stiles didn’t belong there with Derek’s family. He had no right.

“Don’t worry,” Malia said and patted his knee. “He pays me too.”

She put her hands back on the keys with a smile, this time playing a livelier tune. Stiles choked, his mouth falling open.

“Not in the way he pays you obviously.” She laughed. “Different. I was the only seven year I knew with a fifteen thousand dollar monthly allowance, and I get twice that now.”

Stiles stammered, “Derek makes deals with you?”

“No,” She snorted. “I’m just spoiled.” She seemed very proud of that fact. “He did, however, teach me how to negotiate. I should’ve been kicked out of boarding school like six times already.”

The tempo for the song she was playing picked up, and Stiles swallowed and looked over his shoulder at Derek. He was getting restless now. It would only be a few more minutes.

“It just feels like he’s paying me sometimes, you know,” Malia said. “To get me out of his hair. But that’s just how Derek is.” She shrugged. “He likes to dote on me, and I like to be doted on.”

Stiles wanted to ask questions. He wanted to know more and get her to keep talking. But he got so captivated in her piano playing. He could see how happy it made her. It was like she felt every note she was hitting and never wanted to stop. Stiles could understand why Derek was so fond of her. She was full of a lot of life.

She hit one final note and lifted her hands reluctantly from the keys. Then turned to Stiles. “You guys are cute together.” She looked down at his wrist and beamed. “And I can see Derek likes to spoil you too!”

“Yeah,” Stiles said as she looked over his watch. “I guess he does.”

Her smile faltered and she sighed. “Then know that the more he gives you, the more he’s going to keep you away. That’s just how Derek is.”

She dropped his hand back into his lap and carefully placed the fallboard back over the keys, patting the piano like it was her best friend. Stiles could see it in her eyes that she was talking from experience, but she didn’t seem the least bit hurt or upset. It was more like she was well adjusted to the fact. Stiles kind of wanted to ask what she meant, but then again, he didn’t. He looked back over at Derek as he got up and left the room, everyone else too busy and preoccupied to notice he’d gone missing.

But Malia noticed. “He’s not doing okay, is he?” She asked.

“No,” Stiles told her truthfully. “He’s not.”

Her eyes followed Derek as he left, lingering on all the things that Stiles thought only he saw. All Stiles could do was stare down at her in amazement. Because he might have just met the only person in the world that completely understood Derek Hale.

*

He was running late. Stiles knew how much Derek hated it when he was late, but it really wasn’t his fault this time. He’d slept at the condo after getting back from Derek’s birthday dinner, since he wanted to get ready for his dad and Melissa’s arrival. Then, he’d woken up super early to greet them at the airport. After they’d dropped their stuff off at their hotel, Stiles had taken them to all the usual New York tourist spots and ended up spending most of the day with them shopping for gifts and stuff. He’d been having such a good time that he’d almost missed the text from Derek.

He hadn’t been expecting it. Derek knew what day his father was coming, and Stiles had already told him that it’d be hard for him to get away with the holidays being a big thing. He decided he’d stop by anyway since odds were they’d just be cuddling and not having sex. He left his dad and Melissa to a romantic candlelight dinner and headed back to the condo to grab some stuff.

The moment he was heading towards the door, his phone rang and he stopped to pick it up.

“Yeah?”

“Hey it’s Danny,” a familiar voice said. “I’m in town.”

“Hey. That’s great man!” Stiles grinned. “What are you doing here?”

“I got arrested.”

“What?” Stiles plugged a finger in his other ear to make sure he was hearing him correctly.

“I got arrested for hitting some guy and smashing his camera over his head,” Danny said. “I was getting out of a car and he was being obnoxious. Apparently, I caused brain damage.”

Danny sounded like a serial killer. He had no remorse. But Stiles would still totally bail him out of jail if this was a ‘bail me out of jail’ phone call. Danny was smart to call him. Stiles certainly had the money.

“Danny, you can’t do that to people, dude. That’s so messed up.”

“Yeah whatever,” Danny sighed. “Anyway, you haven’t been watching the news? My mugshot’s all over the place. The memes are pretty funny though.”

“No. I’ve been a little busy.

“Well, can I come over,” he asked. “Outside my hotel’s a zoo, and I haven’t been able to go anywhere for the last two days.”

He was in a tough place. Danny was his best friend, so of course Stiles wanted to have his back right now. Clearly, Danny had some issues he needed to work through, and it looked like he would need to get some Anger Management help. They could probably take those classes together since Stiles had to talk himself out of killing Derek every other day. Still, he had his hand on the doorknob and had texted Derek that he was leaving now.

“Actually I’m on my way-”

He opened the door to find no one else but Danny on the other side. Stiles didn’t even know why he was surprised.

“Thanks,” Danny said, brushing right past him.

Stiles sighed and hung up the phone. Looks like he was going to be even later than he thought. Danny waltzed into the kitchen and started opening up the cabinets and drawers then headed to the fridge.

“Hey. Do you have any wine?” He asked. “It’s been a long couple of days.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said and got a bottle out of the pantry.

It was one that Allison and Scott really liked. Usually, she’d sip some then pour the rest into Scott’s mouth like a mama bird. There was no shortage of wine glasses in the condo, but those were just the things that Scott and Allison called love. Danny got himself a glass and took the bottle from Stiles. Stiles couldn’t lie, he was happy to see him. He missed Danny a lot when he was away.

“First of all, don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you stories about jail,” Danny told him and found a bottle opener, getting to work pulling out the cork. “It’s not that scary. The cops are hot; the guys in holding are hot. It might as well be Baywatch.”

He poured himself an ample amount of wine then lifted his glass and took a large gulp. “I honestly don’t know how I haven’t been offered a guest slot on Orange is The New Black yet.”

“Yeah. Uh, Danny.” Stiles felt really awful about this. “I actually have to leave. I’m late to somewhere.”

Danny frowned. “Where are you going?”

“Just... I have this friend I have to meet.”

Danny cocked his head and eyed him suspiciously. Stiles squirmed, and then realized that all of his friends were Danny’s friends so he’d have to fabricate an entire human being. Stiles’ lying hadn’t evolved to that point. He was horrible at coming up with names on the spot. But Scott and Allison had a baby dictionary somewhere in the condo. They’d already picked out the names of their four children: Michael, Stephen, Angela, and Cheyenne. If only he could just get to it.

“A new friend,” Stiles said quickly. “Acquaintance really. Heck I barely even know the guy…girl?”

Danny’s eyes bulged out of his head, and he slammed his glass down on the counter. “Oh my god! You’re cheating on Lydia!”

“What! No!” Stiles screeched and slapped a hand over Danny’s mouth. Allison wasn’t there, but Scott was in his room taking a nap.

“You totally are! I know that face! That’s the Stiles has been taking it face!”

Stiles didn’t have such a face.

“You’re cheating on her with a guy, and she has no idea. Stiles, don’t you know that’s traumatizing for straight girls!”

Stiles couldn’t believe this. He, of all people, was being condemned by someone like Danny. But then Danny leaned against the counter, grinning excitedly and ready to gossip. “So who is it? Do I know him?”

Stiles sighed. The cat was out of the bag, and it wasn’t going to be hard for Danny to guess the rest. So he didn’t say anything. He didn’t need.

“It’s Derek, isn’t it?”

“I know what you’re thinking and what you’re probably going to say, but I don’t want to talk about it, alright,” Stiles said. “I’m fine with things being the way they are. What we have going on.”

“Is it another deal? Because Stiles if you ever need money-”

Stiles shook his head. “This one isn’t about money.”

“How much are you making this time?” Danny asked.

“Nine thousand dollars a week for sex.”

“Sweet shits on tits that’s insane!”

Stiles was glad to see someone else agreed.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” Stiles pleaded. “Scott will flip a shit if he ever finds out, and I’ve been avoiding Lydia like the plague. I tried to do the right thing and break up with her, but she won’t let me.”

“That’s because you’re weren’t stern enough, Stiles. You should’ve called me and let me do it for you. I’m the best at breaking it off with people.”

“What would you have said?”

“I’m too famous for you, bitch! Now get yourself out my life!”

“See that’s how you got yourself arrested. You don’t know how to treat people.”

Danny rolled his eyes. “Paparazzi aren’t people, Stiles.”

Stiles rapped his fingers against the counter, waiting for Danny to promise not to blab. He should really go get a bible and make Danny swear on his first born. Danny had a giant mouth and was always rattling on about other people’s business. But he was also Stiles’ very best friend, and Stiles knew he could trust him, even though he really ought to get this in writing. Maybe even blood.

“Fine,” Danny said finally. “I won’t say anything. As long as you answer one question.”

“Danny.” Stiles glared.

Danny simpered and innocently took a sip of his wine. “Is he big?”

Stiles was far too dignified to answer that question. That was a personal, and Danny didn’t have rights to such information.

“It’s the only thing I want to know. You do want me to keep this a secret, don’t you?”

Stiles took a deep breath, holding it in for about a second, before blurting out excitedly, “Yes! He’s big!”

He could faint. It was so good to finally talk about this to someone. He could never talk about this stuff with Scott, even if Scott did know about Derek. Danny’s brows shot up, and he looked like he wanted to know more, so Stiles told him.

“He’s thick. Like super thick.”

Danny scrunched his nose. He liked skinnier cocks.

“Yeah, I know. It’s like this thick.” Stiles showed him with a hand. “It’s real fat and uncut, which I think is pretty. This one time we didn’t use enough lube, and he slid into me, and I was sure he was going to rip me in half.”

Stiles couldn’t help his smile. “But I kinda liked it.”

Danny laughed. “I’m sure you did.” He grinned and drank a bit more of his wine, before looking over at the door. “Well, are you going to go see him right now?”

Stiles nodded.

“Then can I stay in your room. I need a change of scenery, and I can pretend like I’m you so Scott doesn’t think anything’s up.”

“Course, you can stay in my room,” Stiles told him. “But please don’t try to act like me. We look nothing alike, and I have a little respect for Scott’s intelligence.”

Danny blinked. “But I’m an actor.”

Stiles snorted. “You’re not that good an actor.”

*

It was a while before Stiles made it to the loft. Isaac had given him a lift, but he was still about forty-five minutes late. Stiles was so not excited for the concert of nagging he was about to have front row seats to. It even made him think about asking Isaac to turn around and take him home. But that would only happen if it was Stiles’ Derek. The annoying neat freak, idiot Derek that he loved. Stiles never knew which Derek he’d be meeting with when he went over there at night.

It was dark when he unlocked the door and stepped into the loft. He dropped his backpack on the floor and moved through the kitchen towards the den. Derek was usually either in there or the study working around this time. He faltered when he walked into the room and found Derek sitting on the floor near the coffee table, a bottle open and a glass in his hand.

“Uh…hey,” Stiles said. The room reeked of liquor. Stiles didn’t like the smell or the atmosphere. “Sorry I’m late. I spent the day with my dad and Melissa, and then Danny came over. He’s a fugitive now so he needed a safe house.”

Derek looked like he was in a trance, and Stiles wondered if he’d even heard him.

“S’okay,” he said eventually. “Don’t need you anymore.”

Derek stood and blew right passed him. Stiles inhaled deeply and took a seat on the couch. He shrugged his coat off and waited for Derek to come back. There wasn’t much light in the room except for the Christmas tree, which Stiles still hadn’t finished yet. He was narrowing down his choices for a tree topper and there were two candidates left. Christmas was in two days so he should probably distribute a survey to the public or do a little eeny meeny miny moe. Too bad he was stuck here dealing with a mood swing.

Derek came back into the room, rubbing his glassy eyes, still distant and cold. He slumped back down onto the floor and poured himself another glass but still didn’t look at Stiles.

“You were late,” he said and took a sip from his glass. “I’m not interested in doing anything with you anymore, Stiles. So, you can go. You’re dismissed.”

Derek wouldn’t know how much that particular statement hurt. After all, Stiles was just an employee, so it was to be expected. Derek was his boss, and if he wanted Stiles to leave then Stiles should hop up and get right to it. He surely didn’t t want to get written up or fired. But Stiles wasn’t going to show Derek he felt anything. It was a careful art arguing with an alcoholic.

“Sorry, dude,” Stiles said. “You kind of gave me late notice, but I can leave now if you want. I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Derek itched at the stubble along his jaw. “There’s only one rule in this deal. Come when I need you, and if you can’t even do that, that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t expect me to pay you the same amount that I’ve been paying you.”

“Well, I guess that’s good since I don’t want your money, Derek.”

Derek turned and looked at him finally, his eyes bloodshot and glossed over. Stiles was getting too used to seeing them that way.

“I want your cock on a plate,” He said. “I’m pretty sure I’ve made that obvious. Yesterday, I was even thinking of ways we could walk around the loft with you still in me. That way you’d never have to pull out.”

Derek frowned. “Then why have you been spending so much time here?”

“I dunno. I just thought…”

“What?” Derek asked. “You thought what?”

It was stupid what Stiles thought. Thinking Derek wanted him there. So he didn’t say that.

“If you want me to start paying your rent again, it's fine,” Derek said. “I know your lease is just about up. I’m sure we can strike up another deal.”

Stiles laughed quietly and looked down at his fist in his lap. “You think me staying here means I’m mooching off you? Derek, you pay me enough to pay off a mortgage.”

“Then stop staying here.”

“Yeah. Sure. I will,” Stiles said. “And if you don’t want me around, then why exactly did you give me a raise? Or was it a promotion?”

“I thought it’d make you feel more comfortable paying rent on your own,” Derek said. “And now that I see that you do, you won’t mind getting all your shit out my loft now will you?”

“Huh,” was all Stiles said. Was all he was going to say. He was done here.

“Well, thanks for sharing that with me, Derek.” He stood and grabbed his coat. “I’m gonna leave now before you drink that and I have to watch you projectile vomit. So you might want to make that your last one.”

“That’s another thing we don’t do.”

Stiles stopped in his tracks and turned, interested in hearing this one since he had no idea what they were doing anymore. Maybe Derek could enlighten him.

“The talking,” Derek said. “That was part of our last deal. Not gonna cut it in this one.”

Stiles cracked a smile. “I’m sorry but didn’t you just say there was only one rule in this deal?” Stiles asked. “For me to come when you needed me to?”

Derek put his glass back down on the coffee table with a thud. “I just added another clause.”

“Oh,” Stiles said and stored that in his memory. It might be important later on. It could even be on the midterm. “Whatever Derek. See you when I see you. Enjoy your holidays.”

He saluted the boss man and spun around, headed towards the door. He paused when he heard the faint sound of Derek’s laughter.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said politely, “is something funny going on here?”

“Just according to you, I’m going to be spending the next two days stealing Christmas trees and gifts from little kids.” Derek chuckled. “Grinch remember?” He pointed at his eyebrows.

Stiles stayed quiet. The mood shifted in the room. The dark wasn’t so dark anymore. And Derek was staring at him through heavy lidded eyes, looking like the last thing he wanted Stiles to do was leave.

“Yeah,” Stiles said and took one last look at the exit. “I remember.”

He dropped his coat back down on the couch and took a seat. He drew in a deep breath through his nose and wiped a hand over his face. “You’re giving me whiplash here, man,” Stiles told him. “I’m gonna need you to draw me a map.”

Stiles needed to think. He needed to really sit down and think about this. Because this was where things got difficult. Stiles had no idea what kind of future the two of them had together, and he knew a deal like theirs was set to expire at some point. Stiles couldn’t keep doing this. He wanted too much, and he knew he wasn’t going to get it. Not from Derek. He’d just never thought it was possible for his heart to love something as hard and as fiercely as it loved Derek. And he hated the idea of abandoning him, especially now. But there would come a point where he had to cut his losses and leave. So he was setting one last boundary.

“How about we add this for another clause,” he said. “Don’t ever talk to me the way you just did again, or-” He stopped, hating that tears were welling in his eyes. He kept his voice firm. “Or I’m out of here so fast and I’m not coming back.”

The boundaries he’d been setting had never been about Derek. They were for Stiles. He had to protect himself somehow. Because if anybody was using anybody here, it was Derek using Stiles. And Stiles was happy to let him.

“Do you hear me?” He tapped Derek on the shoulder. “Do you understand?”

Derek nodded.

“Then do we have a deal?”

“Yeah,” Derek said hoarsely. “We have a deal.”

“Then come on.” Stiles stood, gripping onto Derek’s wrinkled shirt and hoisting him up.

“Where are we going?” Derek asked.

“You said you needed me tonight, and I can see that you do.”

He hung one of Derek’s arms around his neck, and the two of them made their way up the stairs and into Derek’s room, stumbling only a little. Derek was already half dead by the time Stiles dropped him down onto his bed. But when Stiles turned to grab some of his stuff and leave the way Derek wanted, Derek reached out and grabbed his wrist, pulling him down too. Stiles grunted as he fell on top of his chest, then chuckled and nestled closer when Derek’s arms wrapped around him tightly. He guessed Derek was okay with him staying then.

*

Things weren’t awkward the next morning. Stiles knew not to take anything Derek did or said when he was drunk personally. It was pointless to hold a grudge. He knew who Derek was. And the Derek he’d dealt with last night wasn’t the Derek that liked to steal the covers and kick him off the bed in the middle of the night. It wasn’t the Derek that loved to wrestle and roughhouse. Or the Derek that snorted milk out of his nose every morning when he graced Stiles with usual round of insults that only he would funny. Or even the Derek that thought up creative ways to surprise him with gifts, just because he liked seeing how Stiles would react.

Derek was a completely different person when he didn’t shut himself down, and if Stiles harbored even a little bit of resentment towards him, then he wouldn’t be there. It was simple as that. He did, however, remind Derek of the deal they made, along with all the other boundaries. Stiles was always reminding him about the boundaries.

He couldn’t stop thinking about what Malia said. He’d thought about it a lot. He didn’t want to lose this Derek. He didn’t want to keep watching this Derek die right before his eyes.

Derek spent half the morning sick anyway, which was punishment enough. He looked horrible as he laid out on the couch in sweats with a pillow over his head to block out the sun. Naturally, Stiles wanted to make his life even more miserable than it already was. So, he hopped on top of him, making Derek cry out in anguish and pain. Stiles loved the sound of Derek in anguish and pain.

“So, where is it?” Stiles asked.

“Where’s what?” Derek muttered irritably.

“My gift.” As if it wasn’t obvious.

“Gift?”

“Yes. My gift,” he said again, straddling Derek’s waist and pulling the pillow off his face. “What’d you do with it?”

He’d never been the patient kind that could wait for Christmas Day to open his presents. It’d been torturous when his parents had forced him to wait as a kid, but now that he was an adult he could do whatever he damn well pleased. And if he wanted to open all his presents on Christmas Eve, then that was his prerogative as a taxpayer. Even if Derek was totally the one that took care of all that stuff for him.

Derek scowled and made a grab for the pillow. Stiles threw it across the room. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he huffed, then laid back down and closed his eyes.

But Stiles wasn’t buying what he was selling. “Am I supposed to look for it or something?” Stiles stood. “Is it under the couch?”

He checked there then thought about it. “Is it even in the loft?” He got super excited. “Dude, did you buy me a yacht? I’ve always wanted a yacht!”

“I didn’t buy you anything for Christmas, Stiles,” Derek grumbled, and Stiles knew he had to be feeling unwell. He may even be knocking at death’s door. Stiles decided that his Christmas gift to Derek would be a neti pot.

“I’m sorry, but did you fall on your head?” He asked. “Is this your evil twin? Do you have a fever?”

Derek opened his eyes, his eyebrows dipping.

“Derek, where’s my present.” He was tired of this.

“I just told you I didn’t buy you one.”

“Derek, this isn’t funny anymore! I want my gift!”

“You should head home, Stiles.”

“Not without my present!”

“Your father will probably want to spend time with you. He doesn’t get to see you enough.”

“Let’s focus on what matters here, Derek! The gift!”

“Did I cause this?” Derek asked. “The bratty whining, the bossiness, these tantrums? Am I to blame?”

“Yes!” Stiles cried. He wouldn’t be nearly this annoying if he’d never had a sugar daddy that said yes to basically everything he wanted. "Now where’s my present!”

“I’m very sorry, Stiles,” Derek said. “I truly didn’t get you anything for Christmas this year.”

“Really?” Stiles inspected his face carefully to see if it betrayed anything, but it looked like he was telling the truth. “Okay.”

Stiles was a little disappointed, but he could buy his own gifts with all the money he was getting each week. And he hadn’t been expecting anything too extravagant, anyway. Last year, Derek had gotten him a Starbucks platinum gift card, and that was when Stiles knew he was in love.

“I’m just kidding, anyway. It’s cool that you didn’t get me anything.” He gave Derek back his pillow. “Trust me when I say you already give me enough.”

He went into the kitchen and made himself a quick breakfast, determined to turn the kitchen upside down. After all, Christmas was tomorrow, and he couldn’t think of anything Derek would like better than a messy kitchen. He even left his dishes on the counter and dropped a bunch of crumbs everywhere since he knew how happy it would make Derek.

Stiles slipped on his jacket and went back into the den.

“I’ll see you next weekend, right?” Stiles asked since he always had to ask. He picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder.

“Uh huh,” Derek grumbled then sneezed.

Stiles looked over his shoulder and said, “Bless-”

A gift box was sitting on the coffee table that hadn’t been there before, and Stiles rolled his eyes. “Dude, I so knew it.” He walked back over and snatched up the box.

Derek smirked. “Don’t open it until you get home.” He gave him a stern look. “I’m serious, Stiles.”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Stiles leaned down and dropped a quick thank you kiss onto his mouth. At least, he’d meant for it to be a quick thank you kiss. Derek pulled him down and made the kiss a little longer and a little deeper, and Stiles wished he didn’t have to go. He just wanted to curl up with him for the rest of the day and annoy him like he usually did.

Derek stroked a thumb over his cheek, then paused. “You didn’t make a mess in there, did you?” He nodded towards the kitchen.

“Uh.”

“Did you put your dishes in the dishwasher from back to front? Wipe the counter down vertically? Put the juice back in the fridge in alphabetical order.”

“Er.”

The scowl on Derek’s face was growing deeper. “I had better go in there and find that kitchen spotless!”

“I plead the fifth!” Stiles cried and got the hell out of dodge.

He closed the door behind him, already ripping the top off the gift box because sometimes it was like Derek didn’t even know him at all. There was no way Stiles was going to be able to wait until he got home to open his gift. The anticipation would kill him alone or at the very least land him in the hospital. Stiles was practically vibrating with excitement as he lifted the lid and peered down into the box. Then smirked when he finally saw what it was.

*

“Did you forget something?” Derek asked when the door shut behind him and he walked back into the loft. Derek was in the kitchen cleaning up the mess, so Stiles took the long way towards the den.

“Of course you did,” Derek muttered. “Maybe you should look for it in the pile of your shit in the den. Or the pile of your shit in the closet. Or the pile of your shit by the bed. Or the pile of your shit on the bathroom counter. Or the pile of your shit…”

Stiles was simply going to let Derek nag, because these “piles” he was talking about weren’t even piles. They were three-to-five items of clutter max, and Stiles had more important things to do right now than explain to Derek, yet again, that he’d been born with a rare disease that left him incapable of picking up things and putting them away.

He grabbed the step-stool and climbed to the top, carefully removing his gift from the box and holding it gingerly in his hands. He delicately set it on the tree and hopped back down, shuffling back a few feet to eagerly examine his masterpiece.

“Dude!!”

Stiles stared breathlessly at the glistening Swarovski crystal tree topper and watched as the star sparkled above him with huge shiny eyes. It was fucking perfect. And Derek needed to stop his goddamn nagging and come see this!

He looked over his shoulder when footsteps sounded behind him and Derek came into the room. Derek clucked his tongue and shook his head disapprovingly, but looked just as pleased as Stiles by how beautifully the star fit with the rest of the decorations on the tree.

“I thought I told you not to open it until you got home,” Derek said with an indulgent smile.

Stiles beamed. “So much better than a yacht.”

*

Christmas Eve at the condo was in full swing by eight o’clock that night. Almost all of his friends were there, since most of them didn’t really get along with their families or their parents were too busy for them. Naturally, they found sanctuary at Stiles’ crib, always comfortable making themselves at home even though Stiles never actually invited them. He loved that though and was glad none of his friends were spending Christmas Eve alone. It was also cool to see his dad looking completely horrified and overwhelmed by the people his son had chosen to consider life-long friends.

Stiles and his dad were sitting on the couch, watching Melissa and the rest of the gang decorated the tree. Stiles wasn’t helping with that travesty though. Those barbarians were actually stringing popcorn and hanging it on the tree. Then, they continued to vandalize one of nature’s beautiful evergreens with candy canes, fake snow, and homemade construction paper and felt decorations. Not a single person had listened to any of Stiles’ creative suggestions. Obviously, his friends didn’t understand that he was the Alexander McQueen of Christmas trees. Stiles was fine with it though. Besides, he already had a tree with Derek and it couldn’t be topped.

The Sheriff had never really been much of a Christmas guy, and Stiles remembered how his mom used to force him into ugly Christmas sweaters each year. Stiles was happy to see that Melissa like to do that too. The sweater his dad was wearing now was atrocious and it glowed in the dark. Melissa clearly loved the holidays. She made the world’s best hot chocolate with accompanying gingerbread cookies. Honestly, she was a national treasure.

The room was bustling with energy and everyone was having a good time, which meant that now was the perfect time for Stiles to slip away and make his escape. He had an important gift to deliver, and he needed to figure out a way to disappear without alarming anybody. Maybe he could tell everyone that he’d drunken too much eggnog and needed to go see a doctor. Or maybe that was just a horrible fucking lie that would get everyone worried and worked up for no reason.

“It’s like he’s Lindsay Lohan,” his dad said in disbelief. He was watching Danny twerk to the sax solo of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.

Stiles chuckled. “I’m surprised you even know who Lindsey Lohan is. You didn’t even know who Britney Spears was when I was a kid.”

“Who?”

Stiles smirked.

“You’re his friend. You should be more of a good influence on him.”

“I try, but even the Pope can’t rub off on Danny.”

The Sheriff just shook his head then frowned when his eyes caught sight of something. “I see that you still haven’t sold that watch.”

Stiles fought a knee-jerk reaction to hide his wrist behind his back. His dad had already seen the watch, so there was no point in taking it off anymore. Plus, he always felt naked and weird without it.

"I don’t think I’m going to,” Stiles said.

His dad didn’t seem happy about that, but he nodded. “It’s a very nice watch. I always respect a man with a watch.”

Stiles looked away because he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t listen to his dad praise him anymore. He didn’t deserve it. He’d hate for his dad to find out the truth. That Stiles wasn’t a man at all. That he was a coward and had abandoned all the principles he’d been taught to sell himself short. That he’d lost himself to someone. That he leaned on them to stand. There was no way his dad would be proud of any of that.

“So, I’ve been looking into this case.”

Now it was Stiles’ turn to look puzzled.

His dad stared back at him. “With the bills…”

That jogged his memory, even though he wished it hadn’t.

“It’s a really good puzzle, Stiles.” he said. “Dead ends everywhere. Not a single trail. But the money definitely had to have come from somewhere, so a third-party’s gotta be involved. Whoever it is a little too slick, though. But like I said, even when you cover your tracks, there’s always that one footprint you missed.”

Stiles reminded himself that this was Derek his dad was dealing with, and a man like Derek didn’t become as powerful as he was without brains. His heart was pounding in his chest, but he needed to remember that. He needed to stop freaking out. If there was anyone he had faith in, it was Derek.

“Uh. Why do you care so much, Dad?” He asked. “Even if someone else was involved, it seems like a nice gesture. I don’t see how that’s a crime.”

“It’s the principle of the thing. A man should be asked if he can pay his own bills. And when I find out what’s going on, I just want to be able to hand whoever this is a check and tell them where to stick their nose.”

Stiles sighed and wondered how deep his dad was going to go with this. The Stilinski men obsessed. It was a strong family trait, and Stiles had seen his Dad get worked up about much smaller cases. He wished he’d just let it go.

“I’ve been asking around and talking to a few people,” his dad said. “I got nothing. But Melissa told me the night I had the stroke, you were there with someone. I never knew that.”

Stiles' heart slammed to a stop, although he tried to act cool. He’d completely forgotten. That day was all so foggy. He’d been so petrified. But Melissa must have seen them together. Derek hadn’t left until he’d made sure Stiles was alright.

“Were you there with someone?” His dad prodded. “That night?”

“Uh yeah,” he said carefully, but he was so tired of the lies. “It was a friend, Dad.”

His dad raised a brow. “Do I know him?”

“No.” Stiles laughed nervously. “It was a boyfriend…”

He bit his lip. If he had to lie about everything else, then he at least wanted to be honest about this.

“He came with me that night for support,” Stiles explained. “But we broke up a few months later so...”

“Oh,” was all his dad said, which really didn’t help Stiles’ nerves.

“Yeah,” Stiles said back, but it was awkward.

“Well, I’ve still got to look into this thing. Talk to some more people. Put this old cop brain to work.”

Stiles nodded. He wished his dad hadn’t changed the subject. He would’ve liked if they could talk more about this. They didn’t really talk about a lot, and as much as he loved his dad, they’d grown distant over the last few years. Maybe he was expecting too much. Maybe that was the problem. It’d be cool if his dad could give him a hug or say he was all right with it, but Stiles really needed to learn to lower his expectations when it came to people. He always got back very little of what he wanted.

Stiles looked down at his watch and cursed when he realized he was supposed to be meeting Isaac outside.

“Um. Dad. I’ve gotta go.” He stood.

“Go!” His dad frowned. “Where are you going? It’s Christmas Eve?”

“I told Lydia I’d be dropping off her present.”

That was a boldface lie. Lydia was Jewish and celebrated Hanukah, but no one else needed to know that.

“I won’t be able to see her tomorrow, since she’s going to be with family.”

“Well, alright.” His dad said. “Tell her I said hello.”

Stiles nods and then got up to leave, wanting nothing more than to shake off that mega awkward conversation.

“And son…”

Stiles turned.

“You know I love you no matter what, right?” His dad said. “Anyway you are.”

“Yeah.” Stiles bit back a smile and felt like some guilt had been lifted off of his soul. “I love you too, Dad.”

He found Danny in the kitchen, of course, pouring himself a glass of wine and taking a bunch of selfies.

“Hey!” Stiles skidded in front of him. “Cover for me, please. I told my dad I’m going to Lydia’s to drop off a present, but I’m really going to Derek’s. I’ll be an hour tops.”

Danny put the bottle back down and lifted his wine glass to his lips. He made a loud slurping sound then looked back at Stiles and said curtly, “You said I wasn’t a good actor.”

“Danny!”

Danny just lifted his chin. “You have to take it back.”

“Alright! I take it back!”

“Now tell me I’m pretty and that I’m better than a good actor. I’m an amazing actor. And I’ll win an Oscar young like Jennifer Lawrence.”

Stiles said all that.

“Alright.” Danny sniffed. “Then, I guess I’ll cover for you.”

Stiles sighed. He knew this wasn’t the end of this. Danny was the Khaleesi, so he was going to have to bow at his feet. He’d worry later about begging Danny for forgiveness.

*

Stiles had already given all of Derek’s personnel their Christmas gifts. He’d gotten Isaac a flat screen TV. Boyd, one of those expensive cameras since he knew how much he loved photography. He’d even gotten Erica something, even though she was the utter and absolute bane of his existence. He’d given her a nice massage chair in the hopes that it’d make her a little more pleasant. But Stiles was sure nothing on Earth could make that happen, so really he’d just wasted his money.

“Mr. Stilinski.” Erica grinned as Stiles walked into the lobby of Derek’s building. “It’s so nice to see you.”

Stiles scowled. “Don’t you even smile at me.”

He walked right past her and pressed the button for the elevator.

“Hey! What’d I do?” Erica pouted.

“You didn’t tell me Derek had a birthday.”

“I never knew!”

The doors opened and they both stepped inside. “You’re his assistant. It’s your job to know these things,” Stiles pointed out. “You and I are supposed to be spy kids working together to find out everything there is to know about Derek.”

Erica just flipped her hair and rolled her eyes. She obviously didn’t take the mission seriously. Maybe he should audition Isaac or Boyd to be his new partner in crime. But Erica was just too resourceful for him to give up. She was irreplaceable.

Stiles looked down at the colorful Birkin bag Erica was sporting and whistled, impressed.

“New bag?”

Erica preened and showed it off. “Yeah. Mr. Hale got it for me for Christmas this year.”

Stiles raised a brow. He guessed Derek was a really great boss. Then again, he was Stiles’ boss too, and Stiles thought he was pretty okay. He inhaled deeply and did a nervous jig as they watched the numbers at the top of the elevator increase. His gaze dropped to his gift Erica had helped him get for Derek. As much as Stiles despised her, Erica had really come through for him. She was the best. Stiles was never going to tell her that, but she was the best. He was still scared though and was really close to pooping his pants.

“It’s a good gift.” Erica smiled at him reassuringly.

“Let’s hope he thinks so too.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened up. Stiles kind of felt like he was walking into doomsday. His hands were shaking as he unlocked the door to the loft and the two of them walked in. All the lights were on which was new. Derek had given him an hour lecture once about the consequences of using too much electricity on the environment. Stiles had taken notes and even applauded him after he’d finished. Stiles had decided that he never wanted to sit through that ever again and always turned off the lights on Derek, even in the most inconvenient times.

Stiles heard a lot of voices coming from the den and wondered what that was about. He followed the noise and motioned for Erica to hang back. Derek was obviously having a little fiesta; it was either that or a Christmas orgy. Stiles must not have gotten his invitation in the mail. He’d seriously be offended if Derek didn’t invite him to the Christmas orgy on purpose.

“Stiles,” Peter grinned when he’d stepped into the room. Peter wasn’t dressed in his usual robe and loafers but in a tailcoat. He looked fabulous and like a real Victorian gentleman.

Derek’s entire family was there which increased Stiles’ anxiety tenfold. Cora and Laura were there, sitting in front of the fireplace, arguing. They hadn’t even noticed Stiles’ entrance, too busy bickering about Christmas stockings. Malia was there too, on the couch surrounded by gifts that she was tearing into happily. And Peter was standing in front of them all, reading A Christmas Carol which totally appropriate since it was Derek’s autobiography. Derek, of course, was sitting slumped in an armchair, no interest in anything or anyone else in the room.

“Uh. Hey…everyone,” Stiles said awkwardly “It’s good to see you all again so soon. I see that you all gather for Christmas. Derek said his family doesn’t gather.”

“We gather,” Laura stopped her conversation with Cora to say. “It’s Derek who doesn’t gather when we do. He’s a lone wolf.”

“What are you doing here, Stiles?” Peter asked. “Does your family not gather for the holidays?”

“No, we gather. Sing. String popcorn. The whole nine.” He almost forgot that he had Erica waiting in the wings, too busy admiring the perfect holiday special that was the Hale Family Christmas Gathering.

His eyes drifted over to Derek. “I just wanted to give you your birthday present-slash-Christmas gift,” he said. “It’s belated and on time, of course, and should count for the last three birthdays, along with the wonderful gift that is my presence. But I have it anyway.”

Derek glanced over at him with dull eyes and said, “Its fine. I don’t need any gifts.”

“Derek!” Laura cried.

Peter just rolled his eyes. “Leave it here, Stiles,” he said. “I’ll make sure he opens it. You know how stubborn he can be, and you’d probably like to get back to your family sometime this century.”

“No uh it’s cool,” Stiles said. “It’s kind of unwrapped, anyway.”

He cleared his throat and beckoned for Erica to come into the room. Everyone was staring at him now and his legs were about to give out. He hadn’t realized how embarrassing it was giving Derek his Christmas present in front of the masses. Erica walked into the room then, her heels clicking as she walked in, followed by a little black and white Border Collie on a leash. He heard Malia gasp as Erica held out the leash to him with a grin. He took the leash from her and the dog looked up at him, the same fear reflecting in his eyes due to all the people in the room. Stiles gave him a comforting pat on the head and walked over to sit on the coffee table across from Derek.

“I just…you said you always wanted a dog…,” He fidgeted. “I hope you still do.”

Derek’s eyes stayed locked on the dog. The dog moved closer, sniffing him out. He was much more courteous to Derek than he’d been with Stiles when they first met. The little pervert wouldn’t stop sniffing his butt. And that’s when Stiles knew that Erica had picked out the perfect dog for Derek.

“Don’t worry, he’s a rescue,” Stiles said quickly when the dog stood on its hind legs and put his paws in Derek’s lap, searching for a pet and trying to make Derek his best friend. “He’s housebroken, so he won’t piss all over your precious loft like I do.”

“Here.” He handed Derek the leash.

Derek took it and pet the dog on his head then scratched under his chin. The dog loved that and their bond was sealed forever. They were soulmates. Stiles was witnessing love at first sight.

“His name is Ash. It’s short for Lord Asher Pikachu Harry Potter Kitty Cat Tony Stark Batman the double-o seventh,” Stiles told him.

Derek looked up and chuckled, his hands trembling in Ash’s hair from the shakes. Ash didn’t mind though. He just drenched Derek’s hand with spit and asked for more pets.

“God Save the Queen, right?”

Stiles realized he had some serious competition for Derek’s affection now. Ash took all the attention when he’d slyly slipped himself under Derek’s hands so Derek could start petting him again. Derek genuinely laughed this time, and Ash wagged his tail. Stiles was happy they liked each other.

“Derek.” Malia came over and sat next to him. Ash looked over at her, excited to meet someone new. “Aren’t you going to say anything…like thank you?” She nudged him.

Derek jerked and looked over at her. He nodded and turned back to Stiles, an amused look on his face. He gave Ash one last pat then scooted forward and leaned in close, lightly pressing a kiss against Stiles’ lips. It took Stiles by surprised how soft and gentle it was. He didn’t want it to ever stop.

Derek pulled away and Stiles opened his eyes, feeling disoriented. “Thank you,” Derek said.

Stiles’ throat was gravel. It hurt this time to keep the words at bay. But the way Derek was looking at him. The way his gaze bore into Stiles’. He had to know. It’d always been so obvious. How could he not? Stiles loved him. Stiles loved him with everything he had, and the knowledge of that was right there in Derek’s eyes. But it wasn’t hard. It wasn’t hard like this to see that Derek loved him too.

“You’re very welcome,” Stiles whispered back then smiled when they kissed again.

*

It was a few days after Christmas when he’d gotten the alert on his phone that twelve thousand dollars had been placed into his account. Most jobs gave end of their year bonuses, but Stiles knew that wasn’t what it was. It left a bitter taste in his mouth. He’d given it all to charity. There were a lot more people that needed it more than he did. He wasn’t going to argue with Derek about it. He already knew how that conversation was going to go and would rather get eaten by a shark. Still, he kind of wished he could get his hands on a copy of his performance review.

Chapter Text

It was inevitable that this would happen. Scott and Allison were breaking up. Well, they hadn’t actually broken up yet, but they were going to. Stiles just wished they would do it already and put him out of his misery. The whole fighting, screaming, and reenacting a telenovela thing was really taking a toll on him emotionally. He spent most nights hiding under the covers, rocking back and forth, and singing Pink’s “Family Portrait” to himself. He was going to need years of therapy after this, he was sure of it.

Things went to shit on New Year’s Eve. Sources said Scott thought he saw Allison flirting with some other guy at a party and the hissy fit he threw got them both kicked out. After, the fighting picked up; first over small trivial things then gradually getting bigger. They kept him up constantly with their screaming matches. Stiles finally snapped and told Scott that if the two of them were going to be doing this then they were going to have to find someplace else to live. Only Stiles’ laying down the law had made things significantly worse. All the anger they’d been harboring was now being released in the form of super-awkward, mega-uncomfortable, passive-aggressiveness. Stiles really couldn’t take it anymore.

He couldn’t even seek refuge at Derek’s because Derek was hiding from him. He’d said he was going away on business, and that he didn’t know when he’d be back. Too bad Stiles had a remarkable talent for spotting bullshit. Derek was running away and Stiles honestly couldn’t blame him. Stiles was absolutely terrifying. Little kids had nightmares about him hiding under their beds. People ran screaming when they saw him walking down the street. It was any wonder that Derek would be so frightened. And since Stiles was in no mood to chase him around, he was stuck here dealing with them.

He wasn’t letting Derek get away with this for long, though. Sources said that Derek had recently returned to town, and by sources, Stiles meant Gossip Girl, and by Gossip Girl, Stiles meant Erica. Stiles was temporarily moving into the loft. He couldn’t stay with Scott and Allison anymore and be the product of a broken home. Plus, he and Derek were married and married people lived together whether they liked it or not. So, he called Isaac and had him take him to the loft tout suit!

Just as he was getting out of the car, Stiles got a rather interesting phone call. It’d been snowing outside and being the spastic spaz that he was, he’d slipped on an icy patch of snow in his haste to answer the phone. He watched as the phone flew out of his hands and onto the ground; the concrete cracking the shit out of his screen. He took a second to mourn his loss, shedding a single tear before picking the phone back up again and pressing it to his ear. It could be important, like NASA or the president calling. Maybe even a hospital paging him to come deliver a baby. However, in doing all of this, Stiles made a fatal mistake. He’d forgotten to check the caller ID.

“Hello?”

Horror music sounded as Lydia’s sweet melodic voice spoke to him through the receiver. Stiles fought back a bloodcurdling scream. He hated that his life had become an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

“Uh… hey Lydia...” he said, careful not to spark the crazy. “What’s up?”

He remembered something about promising to call her last night and had totally flaked. He was an extremely shitty boyfriend. Still, Lydia hadn’t broken up with him. She was obsessed. Addicted to her Stiles juice and couldn’t go a day without a dose of him. Stiles had always known he was a sex symbol but now he had proof. Something about him made chicks lose sanity. He thought about changing his number. He also thought about burying his phone in the snow. Really, his best idea yet was giving it away to Finstock. The man’s wife had just left him, and he might like a new lady friend. As for Stiles, well, he would start a lucrative business in matchmaking that would put Grindr to shame!

Unfortunately, Lydia put an end to all of his plotting by saying, “I’m just calling to say I forgive you.”

“Forgive me?”

“For ignoring all my calls.”

“Oh…”

She did have a point. Lydia had been making such an effort to get in contact with him lately. The least he could do was acknowledge those efforts. He wondered if he should send her flowers or buy her chocolates. Knowing Lydia, she was probably a diamonds and designer shoes kind of gal.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured. “I’m giving you a chance to make it up to me.”

“Oh…?”

“I’ve got another work function tomorrow night. I thought I’d make you my date.”

“Oh…” he said once more before realizing he was walking into a trap. “Er…I mean sorry, Lyds. I can’t. I’ve got other plans.”

Lydia snorted. “What other plans?”

It was an excellent question. Although, Stiles felt insulted that Lydia didn’t think he had a social life. Stiles had plans. A whole calendar full of plans. He just needed to make them up first. One thing he wasn’t planning on doing was going with Lydia to another one of her “work functions.” Jackson had been at all the other ones he’d gone to, and they seemed to run into him a lot. Stiles was starting to question if it was a happy coincidence or some sort of curse. The encounters were never pleasant, and they’d end up in their usual bout of verbal sparring which Stiles prayed Lydia would remain oblivious to. Then again, maybe Lydia would finally break up with him if he got her fired.  

Stiles was in desperate need of a good lie. Luckily, he’d had a lot of practice lying as of late. He’d discovered that what he’d been lacking before was confidence. Now, he lied with his shoulders back and his head held high, no longer stammering or breaking out into uncontrollable sweats. His newfound mastered skill of weaving intricate webs of deceit came especially in handy on such occasions as this.

“You know how my best friend Danny?” Stiles began. “Well, he’s gotten himself into a lot of trouble recently.”

He was probably going to hell using poor Danny and his very public breakdown like this.

“I told him I’d go with him to his anger management classes tomorrow night. He needs me, and I thought we could spend the entire day together. Just the two of us.”

His nose was growing fast like Pinocchio’s and it saddened him that he’d never be a real boy now. While he was at it, he might as well keep going and make the lie extra foolproof. As the saying went, “more is more.”

“I wouldn’t be a good date for you anyway," Stiles told her. "At approximately noon today, I slipped and fell on some snow outside my apartment and did some major damage to my ankle. The doctor said there’s a minor tear to the ligament, and I’m supposed to be taking it easy."

“Also, I haven’t been feeling too well.” He did a rather convincing sneeze then quite a bit of fake coughing. “My temperature is a little high and there’s this suspicious rash. And I think I might have food poisoning because my stomach’s been hurting all day. Scott and I went to Dallas BBQs last night, and I knew there was something wrong with those ribs but I ate them anyway. Also, explosive diarrhea. I’ve got explosive diarrhea.”

Who would dare argue with that?

“Wow…” Lydia said, and for a split second, Stiles thought she might not believe him, then she continued, “You’re really falling apart, aren’t you? You’re so right about Danny. He needs all the help he can get. Ice your ankle and keep it raised and make sure you get that rash checked out ASAP. Take Equalactin for the diarrhea. I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you’re doing. Kisses! Bye!”  

How fortune he was to have escaped that conversation with his life; sadly, at the cost of his phone screen. Happy to be alive, Stiles trekked out of the snow and into Derek’s building, letting Isaac carry his bags in for him. He declined Isaac’s offer to take them upstairs, not wanting to hide behind him when it came time to confront Derek.

On the way up, he thought about the possible reactions Derek might have to his extended stay. It didn’t take a crystal ball to foresee that there would be screaming and yelling. He wondered if this was even worth it. If things with Derek would ever come easy. He wondered what he’d do if they didn’t. He wondered where he’d go.

Surprisingly, he didn’t need his keys to get into the loft. The front door was already unlocked and the lights were on. Stiles slipped inside, dumping his bags on the floor and doing his best impersonation of a cat burglar. He moved carefully, not making a single sound as he crept on his tiptoes. For a moment, he thought he’d successfully broken in. That is until a body suddenly materialized in front of him out of nowhere.

“AH!” Stiles shrieked and collided into the rich softness of a velvet-robed chest.

Peter greeted him cheerfully. “Stiles! How wonderful to see you again!”  

Obviously, Stiles didn’t share the same sentiment. He needed a minute to slow down his heart, but soon he was able to resume breathing. Peter shot him a shifty smile and flashed him the charred side of his face. As much as Stiles had tried, there was no surpassing Peter. He was Champion Creeper, and only he could bear that crown.

“Did Derek know you’d be stopping by?” Peter asked.

“No,” Stiles replied. This was an ambush. Derek wasn’t supposed to see him coming.

A troubled expression crossed Peter’s face, and Stiles was curious as to why. Though their relationship had its ups and downs, Peter was always so welcoming and polite when they saw each other. What changed now?

Finally, Peter said it, “I think it’s best you come by another day. Derek’s…indisposed… at the moment. I don’t think he’s up to company.”

“Indisposed?” Stiles raised a brow. “And what exactly is wrong with him? Let me guess, explosive diarrhea?”

Stiles didn't wait for Peter to respond, wanting to see for himself. The strong stench of liquor marred Stiles’ sense of smell the second he stepped into the den. Derek was conked out on the couch; Ash fast asleep on the floor next to him. Ash’s ears perked when he heard Stiles’ footsteps and he opened one eye to check who it was before hopping up and sprinting over. His tail wagged as he whined for Stiles to crouch down and scratch behind his ears. Stiles was excited to see the little weirdo too. Derek had taken Ash with him on his trip. The two of them were like Aladdin and Jasmine.

So, this was what Peter meant by indisposed. However, Stiles wasn’t afraid to disrupt Derek’s little nap. He reached out his hand and shook Derek’s shoulder forcefully, not stopping until Derek was blinking up at him with beautiful bloodshot eyes.

“What are you doing here?” The first thing Derek did was frown. “I didn’t text you.”

The liquor on his breath was enough to make even Stiles feel dizzy. “I was in the neighborhood. Thought I’d stop by.”

“The neighborhood?” Derek seemed perplexed by the very concept. “Since when were you just ‘in the neighborhood?’”

Wiping the remnants of sleep from his eyes, Derek pushed himself up from the couch and onto his feet. Stiles thought it unwise for Derek to be moving around in his current state. That thought became evident when Derek’s leg bumped into an end table, almost knocking over a lamp.  

“Woah! Got a little swagger to your stagger there, bud?”

The crashing and banging continued as Derek made his way out the room; Stiles didn’t plan on offering Derek any kind of assistance if he fell. Eventually, Derek succeeded in his journey to the study and Stiles heard the sounds of paper rustling. He found it incredibly amusing that Derek would even attempt to work in his condition.

Stiles followed Derek into the study and held out a brown paper bag. “I brought food,” he said. Derek was in desperate need of sobering up. “Chipotle. I don’t actually know if you like Chipotle, but I got you a steak burrito bowl.”

“What, do you deliver now?” Derek chuckled, digging a hand into his pocket, pulling out a bill, and extending it to Stiles. “Sorry, I don’t have anything smaller than a hundred to give you a tip.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, ignoring the money, and placed the bag into Derek’s hands. Derek didn’t open it, though. Just put it aside without offering a thank you or any other form of appreciation. The mood in the room was as frigid as the snow outside, and Stiles thought he might actually be getting frostbite from Derek’s cold shoulder.

“What are you still doing here?” Derek asked, flipping through some important looking documents under the guise that he was busy with work.

“I already told you. I’m visiting.”

“You visited. What are you still doing here?”

“I dunno. I thought we could hang out.”

“Hang out?” Derek’s eyebrows creased in displeasure. “What do you mean hang out? We fuck you and me. That’s what we do. We don’t fucking hang out.”

“Fine." Stiles shrugged. "I’ll hang out, and you can do whatever.”

Had he not been so familiar with the look on Derek’s face—the one that basically said Derek was going to slaughter him—he might’ve actually been discouraged in pushing forward. But since he knew it well, he wasn’t fazed.

Derek tossed his papers down and stood, nostrils flaring as a vein pulsed along his neck. “That isn’t how this works, Stiles. We have rules. You can’t walk in here and start making demands, thinking you can do whatever you like. You come when I want you. That’s it! This isn’t part of our deal.”

A bright smile consumed most of Stiles’ face. That line would never cease to amuse him. “Well then,” he leaned in close, letting Derek in on a secret, “I guess that means you don’t have to pay me.”

Derek’s entire body went rigid and Stiles prepared himself for an explosion of sorts. Like Fourth of July fireworks or something. But just as Derek’s mouth opened, lips perfectly poised for slinging insults, he froze, turned pale, and half-stumbled-half-ran from the room before the show could even get started.

Stiles didn’t go after him since he was certain of what Derek ran off to do. Instead, he relaxed, eating the chipotle bowl before it got cold, then went looking for Derek. He found him slumped over the toilet on the bathroom floor mid-hurl and almost hurled himself. Stiles hated the sound of vomiting. He hated the smell of it too. In fact, he hated everything about it. Thinking about it like he was now seriously grossed him out. Yet, here was Derek choosing to do this to himself over and over again. Stiles didn’t know how he could stomach it.

He turned and covered his ears to block out the sound and felt the telltale sign of someone encroaching on his space.

“I’ll help you get him upstairs,” Peter said, eyes fixed on what was going on behind Stiles.

“No,” Stiles said firmly. “Leave him here.”

While Peter didn’t seem to approve of the idea, he didn’t press the issue further; just took the rest of the burrito bowl Stiles offered now that his appetite had been ruined and walked away. Stiles couldn’t have anyone babying Derek. They’d have to be harsh. Seeing Derek like this reminded him of being fourteen and witnessing his dad in the same exact position. He remembered cleaning up after him and carrying him to bed every night even though he was the child and his dad was supposed to be the adult.

Derek needed to wake up in his own piss and vomit. He needed to learn the hard way that no one was going to swoop in and rescue him. Someone needed to remind him that he was a grown man completely capable of taking care of himself, and that person might as well be Stiles. He wasn’t going to let Peter pick up after Derek either because enabling that sort of behavior could kill Derek.

Stiles knew this. He’d dealt with this for so many years. He was the son of an alcoholic, and now he was married to one too.

Because they were married, goddammit! Stiles was sticking to that.

*

He’d been meaning to ask Derek where he got his sheets. Last night had been the best night’s sleep he’d gotten in a while. There was no shouting. No slamming doors. Just silk sheets and pure bliss. He’d never get out of Derek’s bed if he could. Only, he had this strange feeling he was being watched in his sleep.

“Good morning!” Stiles opened his eyes to see Derek looming over him and growling like a non-human. No alarm clock worked better than a looming-growling Derek. “You’re not really gonna throw me out, are you?”

Derek glared murderously and Stiles grinned.

“I’ve always wanted to be thrown out of somewhere. Can you have Boyd do it? He’s big enough so it’ll feel like a real bouncer. It’s kind of on my bucket list. That and getting arrested.”

“What would you ever get arrested for?”

“Public indecency,” Stiles said as if it wasn’t obvious.

“You can leave now.”

While the sheets at Chateau Derek were to die for, the customer service left a lot to be desired. Derek rolled off of him with a grunt, face diving straight into a pillow. He looked about as good as can be expected after a night of sleeping on the bathroom floor. Stiles, on the other hand, was refreshed and well-rested from his rejuvenating beauty sleep. Now, all he needed was some grub.

He tossed off the sheets and rubbed at his belly. “Actually, I was thinking about staying for the weekend. Man, am I hungry. Are you hungry?”  

He took advantage of the fact that Derek had aged decaying bones and dashed out of the room and down the stairs. Derek was almost forty which meant he was middle aged. Being middle aged was equivalent to being a prehistoric dinosaur. So, Derek was going to have to work a lot harder to keep up with him with those frail arthritic knees.

Stiles wasn’t hungry. He was starving. He wanted omelets, and bacon, and pancakes, and bacon, and hash browns with a side of bacon. Did he mention bacon? He searched the fridge for sustenance and found all the necessary items to get breakfast started. He was already beating eggs into a bowl when Derek entered the kitchen, face tight and hands balled into fists.

“What do you mean stay the weekend?” Derek crossed his arms over his chest. “You didn’t ask me to stay the weekend. You can’t just stay the weekend at my loft without asking me.”

“I’m pretty sure I can.” Stiles winked. “Those third-floor guest rooms never get used. I could probably live there for a year without you knowing.”

Stiles grabbed a skillet from the pot rack above the stove so he could fry the eggs, but Derek snatched it right out of his hand. He got another one, only for Derek to take that one too. It was clear he was being sabotaged here. None of the other chefs on Chopped had to put up with this bullshit.

“Goodbye, Stiles.”

Derek started pushing him towards the door but Stiles stayed firm. “I’m serious! I’m not leaving.”

“Yes, you are! Right now!”

Derek refused to give him back the pans and a little skirmish broke out as Stiles tried to retrieve them. The scuffling went on for a while, and when it looked like Derek was ready to pick him up and carry him out, Stiles fended him off by doing one of those spin moves he’d learned while bench-warming during high school lacrosse. He pulled a new skillet down from the rack, guarding it better this time, and set it onto the stovetop and lit the gas burner. Humming and picking up his trusty spatula, he got to frying some eggs and closed his ears off to anything else Derek had to say.

“Well,” Derek huffed, “Since I see you’re having a trouble understanding English today, why don’t I help you…Get out! I don’t want you here!”

“Dude, I’m not going anywhere, so you might as well help me get started on the pancakes and all the other stuff.”

“Why!”

“Um… who doesn’t like pancakes in the morning?”

“No, why are you still here!”

“Because I like your water pressure, Derek!” Stiles slammed down the spatula, breakfast be damned. “Why the fuck do you think!”

It was like a dam had broken. The anger flooding out of him couldn’t be stopped. Derek was a dead man. Stiles was going to eviscerate him. He was going to smash a skillet over his head. Pummel the entire carton of eggs at the center of his forehead!

“Do you realize how bad things have gotten lately?” Stiles shoved Derek back then shoved him again. “Cause let me tell you, they’re bad! Really fucking bad, and they’re only going to get worse! And it’s cool if you want to keep drinking like this! That’s between you and your goddamn liver! But I know you, Derek. I know how you get when you get like this! So, I’m staying!”  

He couldn’t believe Derek was asking him ‘Why?’. Not when he knew Derek would do it for him. If he was the one that was struggling. If he was the one that needed help. There was no way Derek would turn his back and walk away. And Stiles wasn’t going to do that either.

“Sit down,” Stiles pointed to a chair and spoke in a way that didn’t allow for argument. Wisely, Derek chose to say nothing else. “Now you are going to shut up and help me make breakfast, or I swear to god, I am hogging all the bacon.”

It was a legitimate threat. Thankfully, Derek had the brains to listen to him for once.

*

The rest of the day had gone by without incident. Breakfast had been a feast, and Stiles absolutely gorged himself on bacon. After, they’d taken a shower where Stiles rambled about the Flintstones, and how the cavemen must’ve invented the concept of bacon the second they discovered fire. It was arrogant of modern people to assume that only the civilized enjoyed such delicacies. The cavemen deserved their credit.

Next, Stiles hung around the loft while Derek got some work done in the study. He made himself at home much to Derek’s displeasure and tagged along on Ash’s afternoon walk despite not being invited. When they stopped to give the dog a chance to eat snow and pee on stuff, Stiles told Derek that they should totally have sex in Central Park. Derek said it wasn’t on his bucket list to get arrested for public indecency.

Seeing as Derek had been away for two weeks and his fridge was basically empty, Stiles scheduled a much-needed trip to the local grocery store. It was obvious that no one had ever shown Derek how to browse the circular for sales and utilize coupons. Stiles felt like it was his calling in life to instruct Derek on the essential ways of extreme couponing. Thus, by the time they reached the cash register, Derek was declaring this the worst day of his life, and Stiles had saved them a bunch of money on car insurance. When they got back to the loft, Stiles made his world famous hot cocoa. Not even Derek could deny its deliciousness. Stiles told him the secret ingredient was bacon. Derek told him to stop fucking talking about bacon!

And that was mostly how their day went. All fine and dandy and ultra-domesticated. Also, completely avoiding Derek’s problems. But still a good day overall.

Sunday wasn’t nearly as pleasant, though. Stiles had woken up to discover that Derek was nowhere to be found. Clearly, he’d fled the loft on purpose to avoid having to spend another day of domestic bliss with Stiles. To be honest, Stiles kind of didn’t care. Derek was an alcoholic and alcoholics disappeared. But it was one thing to ditch Stiles. It was another thing entirely to abandon poor Ash.

The dog was absolutely miserable. A fucking orchestra of pitiful violins played as Ash drooped and bewailed in the corner. He refused to eat his breakfast, instead choosing to wait by the front door, whimpering as every minute passed with no signs of his owner. Stiles couldn’t take it. He couldn’t stand seeing that adorable face being so blue. So, he did everything he could think of to distract Ash from missing Derek.

First, he took the little guy out for an early morning walk. Ash loved walks. He loved to sniff the ground and wag his tail, the wind blowing through his fur as he took a massive crap that required not one, but two doggie bags for Stiles to clean up. They also played fetch since Stiles had read somewhere that being up and moving was very effective in preventing severe melancholy. Some cuddle time was added to the mix, and Stiles even slipped Ash a few less than healthy dog treats. By mid-afternoon, Ash seemed to be a lot less down.

Then Danny called to see if Stiles wanted to hang out, but Stiles couldn’t leave the poor dear alone. So, he brought Ash with him, formally introducing him to Danny. Ash loved meeting Danny, probably because Danny was a dog himself. They both certainly loved chasing tail. And voilà, by evening, Ash was back to his usual chipper self, playing with his toys and happily munching away at his dinner. As relieved as Stiles was to see that Ash was okay, it wasn’t his job to take care of Derek’s pet. Derek was supposed to do that. And if he shucked his responsibilities again, Stiles was going to have to alert PETA.

A little after midnight was when Derek made his highly anticipated return. Stiles was reading Ash The Hobbit as a bedtime story. Sure, reading a book to an animal was weird, but Derek’s dog was a total Tolkien head. He'd paid attention the whole time and even barked when Stiles paused too long flipping pages. Of course, the second Derek walked in Ash immediately lost interest, shooting off the couch and letting out a high-pitched wail as he attacked Derek’s legs.

Derek laughed and got down on the floor with him, burying his face into Ash’s fur. He cooed as Ash licked all over his face and tightly wrapped him up in his arms. It was quite the spectacle. Stiles felt like a voyeur. He was also bitter that he’d worked so hard to comfort Ash only for Derek to come in and steal his shine. He didn’t see how that was remotely fair.

Stiles’ greeting to Derek wasn’t nearly as welcoming as Ash’s. He closed his book and dropped it onto the coffee table with a thud, sending Derek a long flat look, unsure if he should be grateful or disappointed that Derek wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere. Derek glanced up at him but didn’t say hello, and Stiles didn’t ask where he’d been all day. He didn’t see the point.

“Dude…you look like shit. Like absolute trash. Like flaming hot garbage. Like—”

It was Derek’s lethal glaring that cut him off from making any more colorful similes but Stiles could’ve gone on and on. He wasn’t one to hold back the truth, even if Derek might not appreciate such sudden attacks to his vanity. Derek looked like he’d been rolling around in a dumpster, his suit mussed up and dirty, and smelling like he’d doused himself with the bottle of scotch as opposed to drinking it. Stiles was amazed he was still standing upright.

“I’m fine,” Derek mumbled, shuffling towards the couch in real life slow-motion. “Just a headache.”

“Yes, of course.” Stiles thunked himself on the head. “A headache. How could I have missed it? You’re showing all the symptoms.”

Derek dropped himself onto the couch and muttered crabbily under his breath. He rubbed at his temples then paused. “Wait, why are you here?”

“Visiting,” Stiles remind him.

“Oh, right.” Derek nodded, astonishing Stiles by not picking a fight.

He couldn’t have changed his stance on Stiles’ stay. Not when he’d spent the entire day getting drunk and avoiding the loft because Stiles was there. Maybe he was more intoxicated than Stiles originally thought. The fact that he wasn’t riled by Stiles’ existence could be a serious sign of alcohol poisoning.

“What did you mean before,” Derek asked. “When you said you know what I’m like when I get like this?”

Derek’s eyes were closed but who else could he be addressing besides Stiles. Unless he and Ash had some Dr. Dolittle thing going on that he wasn’t aware of. The question was abrupt and out of left field, and with Derek so tanked, Stiles debated on how to proceed. Ideally, he’d want this discussion to happen when Derek was sober, but Derek never wanted to talk about anything when he was sober. So, Stiles saw no harm in them engaging in this powwow.

“We’ve been through this before, remember?” He understood if Derek had no memory of the time seeing as he hadn’t exactly been present for it. “There was a period where you kept canceling on me and missing our appointments. I thought maybe you were busy and didn’t have time for me. But then I hadn’t seen you for a whole week, so I called Erica and she started bitching about how you were behaving and how you’d skipped out on work. You disappeared. So, I went looking for you.”

There was no question Derek was listening to his re-telling of this story even though it seemed like he was struggling to stay awake. It was snowing again outside and Stiles let his eyes drift to the loft’s large windows and watched the heavy flakes descend.

“Finstock told me he hadn’t seen you leave the building for days, and when I came up, I had this weird hunch. The place was dark even though it was the middle of the afternoon, and I heard a faucet running, so I called Boyd… You probably don’t remember us fishing you out of the bathtub, huh?”

They’d never acknowledged the time Derek went on a week-long bender, drank himself unconscious, then almost drowned in his bathtub. He’d let Boyd take the hero title even though he’d actually been the one to pull Derek out. With all the stringent rules and boundaries that Derek had set up, Stiles wasn’t even sure he was allowed to tell Derek that he’d been there that day which he knew was ridiculous. Even after the nightmarish ordeal, Derek hadn’t learned a thing. Still drank. Still went off on his own.

“That’s why I’ve always made it a point to ask when I’ll see you next. That way I have your permission to come looking for you if you don’t show up when you say you’re going to.”

He was done with the rambling nonsense. He couldn’t skirt around this topic anymore. Although he stood by his opinions about flu shots— that being that everyone should get one—he wasn’t talking about stupid pointless stuff anymore. Derek wasn’t ready to admit anything to him yet, but who knew when he would be. Stiles had kept this pretense up long enough.

“Look, I’m not here to nag you. That shit never worked with my dad and it’s not going to work with you either. But I’ll help if you’ll let me. I’m here for you, dude. I am so here. But only if your plan is to fix this. I know you hate this just as much as I hate watching you go through it. Derek, I know you.”

“No, you don’t,” Derek snapped. “You don’t know anything about me, Stiles.”

“Well, I’ve always tried to understand you.”

“You can’t.”

Stiles swallowed, feeling like there was too much saliva in his mouth. “Maybe you’re right. I don’t get it and maybe I never will. But I do know how hard it is to explain something when you’re the only one going through it, and I’ll listen if you explain it to me.”

Acting high and mighty wasn’t his thing. He wasn’t about to get on a high horse because Derek was struggling to control an addiction. He wasn’t a pro at this by any means, and he couldn’t point fingers. Not when he had demons too. He barely had his own shit together half the time. He guessed they were both a little messed up.

“People always ask why I can’t think my way out of a panic attack. Fill my head with positive thoughts to force the bad energy out. But it’s been years since my mom got sick, which was when they started, and thinking positively has never stopped a single one. It takes everything in me not to let them destroy me. I feel powerless that I can’t make them go away on my own. But not a lot of people get that so I put up with their unhelpful advice.”

The couch jolted as Derek hoisted his legs up onto the coffee table and crossed his arms. He looked like he was thinking really hard about something; Stiles wanted to know what. He wished it could be as easy as asking Derek a direct question and getting a direct response. But that would never work.

Or at least, he thought it’d never work. Stiles was gravely mistaken.

“Why do you think you drink?” Stiles pried.

“Because,” Derek shrugged, exhaling a long tired breath, “Trying to keep yourself from getting destroyed takes energy. We both know it doesn’t cost anything to destroy yourself.”

Stiles’ mouth opened and closed in search of something to say to that but kept coming up short. He was infuriated, enraged, and saddened by that logic. He knew how easy it was to succumb to those thoughts but Derek should know better. Derek knew how much Stiles hated losing people. Knew of the large role it played in Stiles’ anxiety and panic attacks. And if Derek did something like that to him…Stiles would never forgive him.

“You should go home, Stiles,” Derek grumbled as he stood from the couch, whistling for Ash. He swayed and stumbled towards the stairs. “Your weekends over and this was cute, but I already gave you a raise. I’m not giving you another one.”

*

Peter wasn’t the only magician in the family. Derek was slowly becoming a modern day Houdini. Realizing that Stiles wasn’t backing down anytime soon, Derek packed up and left without a word. Wherever he was going, it was someplace Stiles wasn’t, and that was probably all he wanted right now.

As expected, Stiles had been given the raise that Derek had so callously said he wasn’t going to get. It was an absurd, inordinate amount of money, and Stiles didn’t feel comfortable disclosing the amount to anyone. Ever. It was possible that Derek felt guilty and thought Stiles might need the funds to survive now that he’d been left to fend for himself. However, Stiles abstained from wasting time dissecting the reasoning behind his latest wage increase. Any way he spun it, it was never going to make sense.

Nevertheless, Stiles made sure to text Derek every day to let Derek know that he was alive and doing well—and most importantly— still a squatter in his loft:

Today, 3:23 PM
I put all the dishes in the dishwasher the way you like 

 

He’d taken to sending Derek pictures of chores he was doing while Derek was gone. That way Derek could see he wasn’t just trespassing but was actually contributing to his environment in a helpful way. Except, Derek wasn’t exactly appreciative:

 

Today 11:19 PM
They’re not all facing the same direction

They’re still clean aren’t they?
Delivered 11:20 PM

11:40 PM
Thanks…


You're welcome…?
Delivered 11:45 PM

 

Now, he understood why Derek was the only bajillionaire in the world without a maid. Since Derek wasn’t keen on the idea of him doing chores, Stiles decided it was the perfect time to pick up gardening. He didn’t care that it was dead of winter and that he neither had a gentle touch nor a green thumb. Derek’s plants were crying out his attention:

 

Today 12:30pm
I watered all your plants

 

He sent Derek a picture of every plant in the loft, overflowing with water in case Derek couldn’t tell how much they were thriving under his care. That response was negative as well:

 

12: 31pm
Stiles!!

NONE of those are plants!

Well, I watered them anyway!

Thanks…


You're welcome (:
Delivered 12:36 PM

 

It wasn’t long before Stiles was asked to formally announce his retirement from housekeeping.

 

Being in the loft by himself was starting to get boring, and Stiles was going a little stir crazy. He would’ve attempted to hang out with Scott but the only thing Scott did these days was complain about Allison. Danny was busy with attorney meetings for his impending court cases. And all his other friends had yet to escape the harrowing stress-riddled suckhole that was adulthood. Which was why it was so refreshing that Peter invited him over to his place, giving them a great opportunity to strengthen their weird blossoming friendship.

“Oh, my god! You have a personal masseuse!”

“Oh, my god! You have a movie theater!”

“Oh, my god! You have your own ice hockey rink!”

“Oh, my god! You have a—”

“Do stop this, Stiles,” Peter sighed as they entered his extravagant parlor room.

Derek hadn’t been lying when he said Peter didn’t live at the loft. Peter didn’t even live on Manhattan. Instead, he occupied an upscale fifty thousand square feet mansion in the quiet Long Island suburbs. And to think, Stiles had considered Derek’s place swanky. It was a cardboard box compared to this.

Lots of praise was owed to Peter’s interior designer. Each room was like an enthralling work of art. The parlor they were currently in was something straight out of Buckingham Palace with incredibly tall ceilings, dazzling jewel chandeliers, gold statues, and lush-toned fabrics. So far, Stiles had seen two infinity pools, a bowling alley, a horse stable where Peter kept his real life ponies, a helicopter pad, a tennis court, six full kitchens, and a casino. It was a thousand times better than staying at an all-inclusive resort, and Stiles wondered why Peter chose to loiter at Derek’s when he could be getting deep tissue massages and riding ponies instead.

“I’m not sure I understand why you are surprised that my home looks like this,” Peter said, gesturing down at the luxurious ensemble he was wearing today, which was his usual velvet robe and loafers. “I have phenomenal taste. Not to mention, I was an extremely success businessman in my prime.”

“What, really?” Stiles' eyes went wide. 

Peter nodded. “My grandfather founded Hale Consulting Group, and it was eventually passed down to me. I ran it for twenty years, but then Derek had to take my place when I experienced my mental breakdown.”

While he didn’t know all the gritty details as to how Peter had gotten the burns on his face, he knew from Derek that Peter had lost a lot of important people in the fire. He’d had a family. A wife and three young daughters who perished in the flames. On top of that, he’d lost his older sister. Stiles knew what loss could do to a person, and Peter had more than his fair share. He understood how that amount of grief could suddenly break someone.

“He’s very smart, my nephew,” Peter continued. “Quadrupled our clientele and the merge with the Whittemore Group was genius. But I’m still the one who made our firm one of the most expensive and reputable consulting firms in the world.”

“Wow,” Stiles said, looking around the room and thinking how crazy it was that all of Peter’s accomplishments and success had bought all this stuff. Stiles could only wish to be so innovative.

For some reason, it was funny to see framed pictures sitting on Peter’s fireplace mantle. He’d always thought rich people didn’t take pictures; just had portraits done. But there they were, heartwarming photos of Peter’s loved ones just like at any other regular person’s house. There were tons of pictures of Malia at every age, and some of Laura, Cora, and Derek too. Stiles saw only one of Talia that appeared to be greatly cherished. He was awed by how much Derek resembled his mother. They both had compassionate eyes.

Stiles picked up a frame that had a photo of a scrawny teenage Derek and took one look at the severe overbite and the untamed eyebrows and laughed his ass off. The glow-up was incredible. He placed the first frame down and picked up another one where Derek was wearing a graduation cap and gown. He looked about Stiles’ age, scowling menacingly at the camera.

“That one was taken when he graduated from Stanford,” Peter told him.

“What do you think the photographer did to deserve that glare?”

“I believe he told Derek to say cheese.”

Stiles grinned, easily imagining the scenario, then felt his jovial mood drifting away until he was scowling resentfully at the Derek in the photo. He turned to Peter, holding up the frame. “I should chuck this across the room, shouldn’t I?

“By all means,” Peter encouraged. “I’m sure Laura would say that it’s a healthy way to release animosity.”

Stiles huffed and put the frame back in its place then turned to Peter and asked, “When do you think he’ll man up and come back to face me?”

“I can’t be sure,” Peter said. “He’s all business, my nephew. It could be a while. Are you willing to wait that long, Stiles?”

It was a question he’d been asking himself a lot lately, sometimes numerous times a day. But he still didn’t have an answer yet. Was he willing to wait for however long it took for Derek to get his head out his ass or was he better off leaving and giving up on the possibility of them ever working out? Whichever decision Stiles made, it would have to be what was best for him in the end.

“Let’s finish the rest of the tour, shall we?” Peter said pleasantly.

Stiles nodded, grateful for the change in subject, and followed Peter into the next room.

“Oh, my god! You have an indoor waterfall!!”

*

Visiting Peter had been a vacation Stiles hadn't even know he needed. For the first time in a long time, Stiles let himself relax and worked on realigning his chi. Thank God, Peter had his own live-in spiritual healer who could instruct Stiles on the practice of expelling negative energy from his body so he could be cleansed and revitalized. Peter was a great host and had even offered to let Stiles stay a few extra days, but Stiles decided it was time for him to return to the city. He’d had this strange feeling in his gut that Derek would be coming back soon ever since Peter’s live-in tarot card reader told him that Derek would be coming back soon.

Stopping by his apartment to grab his mail first, Stiles armed himself for battle. He was entering a warzone with Scott and Allison still arguing and trusted his instincts to be operating in fight or flight. Objects whizzed by his head as he ducked and crawled to grab his things. He winced when he heard the sounds of plates shattering as Allison smashed them down to the ground. He hoped for Scott’s sake that the plates were the only fatality.

He managed to get out of there unnoticed, however, the thought of returning to an empty loft wasn’t leaving Stiles too enthused. Even with Netflix and the impressive gaming system he’d taken the liberty of installing in Derek’s loft—which he honestly couldn’t wait to see Derek’s reaction to—Stiles knew he’d be bored to tears in a matter of hours. He could always do grad school applications. He'd been bombarded by brochures in the mail lately. Maybe sitting down and finally reading over them would kill time.

Unlocking the door to the loft, Stiles noticed that the lights were on and heard voices coming from the den which caught him off guard.

“Derek?” He called out, hating the way his heartbeat accelerated. He didn’t want to be happy to see Derek.

With caution, he tread towards the den but was rather disappointed and also greatly confused to see Cora Hale and Kira Yukimura sitting on the couch.

“Um,” Stiles said and stopped in his tracks, checking to see if anyone else was there but it appeared to be just them.

“Stiles,” Cora said, giving him a smile that was too tense and too strained to be genuine. “How wonderful to see you again. Here. In Derek’s loft. With a key. Like you live here.

“Er…”

“You know, Stiles, you’re so young.” She looked over at Kira who was sitting on the other end of the couch. “Kira, isn’t he so young?”

Sitting with her arms and legs crossed and angled towards the opposite direction, Kira’s body language was giving off all the signs that she wanted nothing to do with this conversation.

“How old are you, Stiles?” Cora asked.

“Twenty-two,” Stiles gulped.

“You look like you just finished high school,” she observed, then tried to include Kira again. “Doesn’t he look like he just finished high school?”

“He’s a recent college graduate,” Kira murmured. “Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia.”

“Yes, he is very smart isn’t he…” Her sharp eyes roamed over him like a dangerous animal assessing its prey, searching for weakness. She started grilling him then, “Where’s Derek?”

“No clue,” Stiles said.

“I had his doctor fly in from Paris just to see him. So what? He just up and disappeared?” she asked. “Or did you do something to make him leave you behind.”

It wasn’t like Stiles had forgotten the mean looks Cora and Derek had been sending each other that night at the club. She also had already stated her disapproval of his and Derek’s relationship at Derek’s birthday dinner. Still, it was hard to keep his composure when someone was emitting such a high level of disdain to his face.

“You said doctor.” Stiles frowned. “For what?”

“I’m sure you’ve noticed that my brother has a problem controlling his alcohol intake. It’s something he’s always struggled with. And me being the amazing sister that I am, I decided to fly in Dr. Morell. She’s helped him in the past and is highly regarded in her field. So, if you know where my brother is, tell me now.”

“I honestly have no idea.”

“Useless,” Cora said and stood up, pulling her cell phone from her pantsuit and strutting off.

When she was gone, Stiles let out a long pent up breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in. It was just him and Kira now, and while he was aware that Kira also wasn’t his biggest fan, she showed a little mercy on him by offering him a friendly smile.

“Vicious isn’t she?” Kira chuckled. “I’m sorry for putting you in this awful predicament. I had no idea anyone would be staying here while Derek was out of town. I have a key to the loft for safety reasons, and I thought I’d stop by to check on things. I didn’t expect for you to be here or for my ex-wife to show up and force her way in like she did.”

“Ex-wife?” Stiles’ brows shot up. “Seriously?”

Kira nodded, stifling a laugh.

With how assertive and terrifying Cora was, it was hard for Stiles to envision a romantic relationship between her and quiet, mousey Kira. Which was probably why there was no longer any romantic ties. It made sense given the tense atmosphere in the room.

“Wow. That’s unexpected.”

“Yes, well. Anyhow, I’m very sorry she insulted you,” Kira amended again as Cora  re-entered the room.

Cora scoffed and placed a hand on her hip. “From the looks of it, Derek’s paying him a hefty penny, so don’t go apologizing for anything on my account.”

“Would you stop.” Kira glared, and almost instantly Cora backed off.

Who knew Kira had the chops to keep Cora in line. In fact, maybe Stiles had gotten the dynamics all wrong.

“I thought Derek might be seeing you again." Kira sighed. "But I didn’t think he’d be careless enough to make these sorts of arrangements with no legal parameters. Just how much do you need to go away?”

Stiles gaped. “Excuse me?”

“What are you doing?” Cora asked.

“My job.” Kira squared her shoulders. “We might not be family anymore, but I’m still Derek’s attorney and his well-being is my top priority. I’ve never liked seeing him getting taken advantage of and especially not now that he's drinking again. I’m offering you a settlement.”

Stiles stared as she pulled out a checkbook from her purse and held out a crisp blank check to him. She couldn’t be serious. It had to be some sort of joke. Normal people didn’t get these types of offers. Normal people didn’t make these types of offers.

Kira held out a pen to him. “You can write a number down if you want. As much as you’d like,” she said. “Or I can wire you five hundred thousand dollars right now. Whatever you choose, I’m sure it’ll be enough for you.”

“You’ll take it, and forget you ever knew Derek. Peter. All of us,” Cora piped up then quieted when Kira frowned at her again.

Stiles couldn’t believe someone would voluntarily hand over a lottery winning just to make him disappear. Had she even fully thought this through? What would she say happened to him when Derek got back? He hoped it was something utterly ridiculous, like Stiles suddenly needing to drop everything to take a hot air balloon trip around the word. But if she was Derek’s attorney, she certainly had the funds as all of Derek’s employees were paid handsomely, Stiles included.

Unfortunately, Kira didn’t know the first thing about him. Stiles could not be bought.

“NO! You’re saying NO!” Cora screeched then turned to Kira. “What does he mean no?”

“Not sure.” Kira was grinning, though. “None of the others have ever said no before.”

“They probably didn’t care about him as much as I do either.” Stiles winked.

“Your relationship with my brother is a farce!” Cora stomped over to him, a little too in his personal bubble for comfort. “Do you honestly think Derek’s going to keep you for much longer? He knows a decreasing stock when he sees one.”

And with that, Stiles had just about had it. He could only endure so much. He should be canonized already for withstanding all that he had, but now he wanted to flip some tables like a New Jersey housewife.

“Oh, my god! What is with you Hales!” Stiles hollered. “And I thought Derek was bad. I mean you are Svetlana. You practice fire breathing twenty-four hours a day, and you’re very serious about your role in the Russian circus.”

Cora and Kira both stared at him incredulously.

“But what makes you think I’ll listen to you? I don’t even listen to Derek, and he’s Derek!” He took a breath and looked over at Kira. “Thank you for your offer, but I don’t want anything.”

He turned to Cora. “Say what you want about me, but we’re on the same side here. I want Derek to get help just as bad as you do, and if there’s any way I can help you to get Derek to see this doctor…then tell me and I will.”

*

Sleep hadn’t been his friend that night. It evaded him while his mind filled to the brim with too many thoughts. Eight hours of rest was required for him to function properly, otherwise, he transformed into this half-ghoul half-zombie creature that roamed the Earth looking for happy things to kill.

What made it worse was that the night was passing so unbelievably slow and unhurried. Like nature was spitefully rubbing it in his face or something. Stiles spent most of the evening looking into grad school stuff, and by sunrise, he wanted nothing more than to inject caffeine straight into his veins and eat a hearty breakfast that would tame the lion roaring in his stomach.

He poured himself a bowl of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, because really nothing was heartier than kid’s cereal, but was too delirious to scarf it down. He kept missing his mouth with the goddamn spoon, and at some point he just gave up and plopped his head down on the kitchen table to take a light snooze.

While it wasn’t the most comfortable sleep he’d ever had in his life, it was sleep and Stiles welcomed it with open arms. He cherished it. Darn, he would’ve even liked to have more of it, if it wasn’t for the crude painful slap that came down on the back of his neck, scaring the bejesus out of him and startling him awake.

“AH!!”

He leaped from his chair, eyes swinging wildly in search of the culprit. For a moment, he thought it was a dream or an illusion. Derek and Peter were suddenly there in the kitchen with him. Peter was sitting across from him at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper and eating from an impressive breakfast spread that looked far more delicious than any bowl of kid’s cereal. But then Stiles remembered the pain radiating from the back of his neck and could feel the mark of Derek’s handprint turning bright red. The sluggishness wore off and he realized that this was no dream at all.

You dick!” Stiles lunged for Derek’s throat, wrapping his hands around it tightly and squeezing with all his might. “Couldn’t you have done that a little more gently?”

“I’m never joking when I say you’re impossible to wake up.” Derek coughed, trying to loosen his grip.

To see how much Derek liked retaliation, Stiles jammed his knee into Derek’s wiener. He cackled at Derek’s loud wail of pain, but things went south when Derek fell, taking Stiles down with him. The loss of both of their balances gave Derek the advantage he needed to force Stiles into one of his lethal headlocks.

“Goodness, children, please!” Peter cried as they knocked over a pan that was sitting on the counter and it clattered to the floor.

Stiles managed to grapple his way out of Derek’s hold and twisted Derek’s arm behind his back. He wasn’t able to keep Derek there for long, though, and when Derek shook him off, Stiles went running behind the counter. Derek charged at him before he could get away, tackling him and knocking into his chest so hard it caused Stiles’ to wheeze. The fight got unfair after that, and Derek made a big show of tossing him around. Stiles stomped on Derek’s toe and he was freed.

“When did you get back?” Stiles asked, ignoring Derek’s hysterical laughter.

“About an hour ago,” Derek said.

“And you didn’t wake me?” He meant in the traditional sense. Not tactlessly pouncing on him in his sleep like a coward.

“Trust me, I tried,” Derek muttered like he’d been through some things.

Stiles hopped up onto the countertop, swinging his legs back and forth. He eyed Derek, waiting for just the perfect moment to ask, “How was Dubai?”

He smirked when Derek stiffened up. He probably hadn’t expected Stiles to annoy Erica enough to finally get her to spill. But it’d been three fucking weeks and Stiles was annoying as hell. Eventually, Erica had to break about Derek’s whereabouts.

“I didn’t enjoy it much. Had a lot of work to do and it took longer than I thought.” Derek shrugged then roughly changed the subject. “Why were you sleeping on the kitchen table? You could’ve done some serious damage to your neck. Not to mention the water stains from your drool, and-”

“Oh my god,” Stiles groaned. “Are you forreal? You just got back and you’re already nagging?”

So much for Derek coming back from his long ‘vacay’ with a new attitude.

Stiles sighed. “It’s better than trying to sleep at my place. Scott and Allison are still in the process of breaking up. I went over there last night and it was chaos. I’m giving them another two weeks.”

Derek shook his head, tssking. “I don’t think it’s right that you’re betting against Scott and Allison.”

“I don’t think it’s right that Allison broke all our plates.”

Derek chuckled and looked over at him, eyes crinkling a bit at the corners, peering at Stiles in a way that immediately had him fidgeting. Stiles used his pajama sleeve to wipe his mouth and rub at his eyes. He’d just woken up so there was bound to be crust and drool in various places. But Derek’s gaze didn’t let up and he grabbed the hem of Stiles’ shirt, yanking him down off the counter and slotting their bodies together.

“Huh,” Stiles buzzed when Derek started nibbling on his jaw. He should’ve known. “You haven’t been this nice to me in forever. In fact, you’re usually a giant drunk asshole. And now that you’re back… I’m going to tell you about your fucking self, Derek!”

His punch landed in the center of Derek’s abdomen, causing him to hunch over and let out an extremely painful groan that was immensely satisfying to Stiles’ ears.

“No!” Stiles shouted when Derek reached for him again. “Don’t you fucking touch me! I could kill you, right now! Fuck you! Get away from me! Bye!”

He fought off Derek’s arms as best as he could, jabbing his elbows into soft vulnerable body parts and wiggling away each time Derek seized his waist.

“Goddammit, put me down!” Stiles cried. “Three weeks! You left me here for three weeks all lonely by myself! Three weeks without a cuddle buddy, Derek! Not one phone call to even ask if I’m alive! Or a text message saying ‘Hi, Stiles, how you doing ol’ buddy ol’ pal.’ Not even an e-mail with a funny picture of a cat! And now you’re back, and you think you can just—”

He couldn’t finish the rest of his sentence with Derek’s lips in the way. Not that he wouldn’t still try, though. It appeared his rant had run into some technical difficulties. Derek was licking and nipping away at his irritable scowl, keeping him in place by cradling the back of his neck. But Stiles wouldn’t let this roadblock interfere with his bitching. He was an activist and he wouldn’t stand by and be thoroughly kissed silent.

“You’re a real piece of work, you know that? All you do is get drunk and talk a load of shit, and oh yeah, disappear without telling me where the fuck you’re going! I’m here doing dishes and watering your plants, and I can’t even get a real thank you, you ungrateful asswipe! And now you expect me to just—”

The rest of what he was going to say was lost in a muffle as Derek kissed him longer this time. His tongue flicked against Stiles’, hands diving down the back of Stiles’ pajama pants to cup his ass and bring him closer to roll their hips together. It was far too filthy for this early in the morning. They should’ve waited till at least brunch.

“Christ! Can I eat my breakfast!”

Stiles pulled away and looked over Derek’s shoulder, rolling his eyes. “Peter, you don’t even live here.”

Peter picked up his breakfast plate and folded his newspaper piqued, muttering about manners and basic courtesy as he left. Stiles would feel bad for sexiling the poor guy, but he wasn’t having sex with Derek. Not for a long long time. That bastard would have to keep his hands to himself.

“Ash?” Stiles asked when there was an appropriate amount of space between them.

“In the other room,” Derek said.

He had to say he’d missed Ash way more than he’d missed Derek. And it looked like Ash missed him just as much. He got super psyched when Stiles walked into the room. Even peed a little. He didn’t let Stiles pet him or rub his belly, instead running around in circles, doing something that awfully resembled a cartwheel.

“When did he start doing that?” Stiles asked because Derek was the dog’s father and should know these things.

“No idea.”

“Is it normal that he can stand on his head like that?” He only asked because it looked like Ash was trying to breakdance.

“No,” Derek said. “But figures you’d get me a not normal dog.”

Oh goody! Yet another example of why Stiles was never going to do anything nice for Derek ever again in his life ever.

He didn’t know exactly how to feel about Derek being back. It was weird. He was only just processing the fact that there were other people in the loft besides him. And he wished he could hold more of a grudge but he just plain didn’t have the energy.

“Well,” Stiles crossed his arms, “Did you bring me back a souvenir?”

A corner of Derek’s mouth twitched. “Close your eyes and hold out your hand.”

Stiles entertained him even though he thought it was stupid. He closed his eyes and laid his hand out flat with his palm facing up, only opening them when he felt a slight weight drop into his hand and cool foil met his fingers. What sat in his hand was a large monstrous lump of candy distinctly shaped like a uniquely exotic animal. Stiles couldn’t help but bark out a laugh.

“Is this because you knew you’d be in the dog house?” Stiles asked. “The camel house? Do camels’ have houses? I’m going to name him Ralph. You’re a fat fat piece of chocolate, Ralph. But it’s not gonna make up for the fact that you—”

Derek held up his next souvenir. Stiles blinked at it unimpressed even though he should probably be impressed. There was gold. Also, diamonds. There was a few of those. But Stiles thought Derek must be out of his mind if he thought it was a good idea to give him a fancy dagger. For one, Stiles was uncoordinated and clumsy and would likely break it in less than an hour. And if there was anyone Stiles felt like using a dagger on right now, he’d have to say Derek was his number one target.

“Guess we’re really groveling here,” Stiles mumbled, already fumbling with the knife when Derek passed it to him.

“Gold’s a bargain in Dubai,” Derek said then pulled out another souvenir he’d been hiding behind his back. “So are electronics.”

Well played. Nothing could win over Stiles’ heart like video games and electronics. He liked to refer to himself as a connoisseur and had an impressive collection of limited edition consoles and rare video games. It was his version of antiquing. And Derek was holding up a console he’d been wanting for a while now. Stiles made grabby hands at it, stoked that Derek had gotten it for him, then recalled that it was all a distraction.

“Alright! Enough! No more!” Stiles cried, gesturing towards his presents. “Thank you for these. Seriously. But you’re still on my shit list so take your lusty eyes somewhere else.”

“Well, that’s too bad.” Derek looked up at the ceiling ruefully. “Because I was thinking…”

“What?” Even though he was miffed, he’d been cursed with insatiable curiosity at birth. “What were you thinking?”

“There’s something I want you to do for me.” Derek’s eyebrows did something shady. “More like to me.”

“What?” Suddenly, Stiles was in dire need of a sip of water.

“I’d tell you if you’d let me take you upstairs…”

Derek must’ve thought he’s so slick, tempting Stiles with the prospect of trying new things in bed. As if Stiles’ brain was hardwired to think only with sex in some constant state of arousal. Derek sure thought highly of himself if he believed he had Stiles all figured out. Because if he did think all those things, then yeah, he was totally right.

“On your mark! Get set! Go!” Stiles hopped over the couch and bounded up the stairs, leaving Derek in the dust.

“You’re disqualified!” Derek shouted, chasing after him. “False start!”

*

It was Stiles’ idea for them to get off in the shower first before moving onto kinkier stuff. The last time they had sex felt like forever ago, and they needed to let their bodies get reacquainted after such a long separation. There was nothing better than steamy hot shower sex to take the edge off. Also, Stiles was majorly backed up. Medical professionals would be concerned. Derek’s fingers had barely looped around his cock, and Stiles was already spasming and coming uncontrollably in his hand.

“That was fast,” Derek said when what he really should’ve said was nothing at all.

“So not helping your case,” Stiles gritted out.

When they were done, Derek barely let them dry off. He just picked Stiles up and carried him into the bedroom, unceremoniously dropping him down onto the bed. Derek ignored when Stiles’ teeth started chattering, but really, Derek couldn’t have sparred two seconds to grab a towel? Then Derek began personally lapping up every single droplet of water on Stiles’ skin, and yeah, Stiles could see what he did there. Wouldn’t prevent hypothermia, though

“So what do you want me to do to you?” Stiles asked, squirming when Derek’s tongue licked a strip up the side of his torso. “Is it filthy? God, I hope it’s filthy. I want to do incredibly filthy things to you.”

Derek’s touch was wreaking havoc throughout his body. Stubble scrapped the inside of his thigh where a trickling pool of water was being laved. Stiles was getting toasty now, his eyes fluttering closed and his chest growing a tinted shade of red. He couldn’t be teased much longer without erupting. He wanted his head to be clear for this.

“Do you want me to pour hot wax on you?” Stiles shuddered. Derek blew a gust of warm air, causing Stiles’ skin to pebble. “Call you daddy? Yeah, I can call you daddy.” He was losing it now. “Do you want me to put hooks in your nose? Get you a bottle of milk while I change your diaper.”

Derek’s head shot up and he scowled. “Stiles, what the hell? I want you to rim me. What is wrong with you?”

So, it was possible that Stiles had a delay in his senses due to Derek’s ministrations, because his ears hadn’t fully picked up what Derek said until he was well into getting his brains sucked out through his dick.

“Wait, you want me to what!”

“You heard me,” Derek grunted, then went back to what he was doing before which was sucking Stiles’ cock. Quite marvelously, Stiles might add.

“Yeah, but you have to say it again.” Stiles wiggled in excitement. “And you have to say please. You’re always making me say please.”

Derek snorted. “That’s because you’re a tyrant in bed.”

“Where’s my please?” Stiles held out stubbornly.

Derek smacked him over the head with a pillow and Stiles squawked, almost falling off the bed. Luckily, he managed to keep his balance thanks to a shit ton of flailing but almost lost it again when Derek turned over and laid flat on his stomach. Seeing Derek like this was like a masterpiece being unveiled before his eyes. He figured reciprocating wasn’t Derek’s thing. Stiles had always been game but Derek never asked. Getting eaten out was Stiles’ favorite thing in the world and Derek had introduced it to him. Stiles wanted this to be nothing short of mind-blowing for Derek.

“Well, now I’m nervous!” Stiles whined, chewing his lip.

“Stiles.” Derek released an exasperated breath.

“What, I’ve never rimmed anyone before!"

He didn’t understand how Derek could be so lax about this. Guidance was neccessary here. Derek huffed and grabbed a pillow—the one he’d just battered Stiles with—and stuffed it under his hips so he was in more of a crouching position. Stiles just about died.

Playing it by ear wasn’t too terrible of an option. Derek had done this to him enough times for Stiles to have an idea of how to proceed. He smoothed his hands over the powerful lines of Derek’s back, the shallow grooves of his hips, leaning forward to kiss Derek’s mouth hungrily, eager to take good care of him.

“Can I use my teeth?”

No objection was made by Derek, so Stiles started by sinking his teeth into the dip of Derek’s neck, his shoulder, and the small of his back. He couldn’t believe how fast his heart was pounding as he slowly spread Derek apart, ever so carefully grazing his teeth there too.

“Do I kiss it?”

Derek’s breathing was audible to his ears and Stiles relished in how he hissed when Stiles dropped down the lightest peck, not wanting delve right in. In a little bit, he’d give Derek what he wanted, but for now, he was thoroughly enjoying this little game.

“Can I use my fingers?”

Wetting his thumb with his mouth, he traced and brushed and caressed, earning the most agitated growls from Derek who pushed back and rutted against the pillow, sheets bunched in his fists.

“Stiles!”

His name was said like a curse, and while Stiles was equally as desperate for this, he wanted to try something but was uncertain how Derek would react. He moved tentatively, the tips of his fingers lingering to give Derek a chance to move away but he didn’t. Stiles sucked on his thumb again then rested it over Derek’s hole, gently pressing up to the knuckle. Derek’s chest rumbled a harsh guttural moan that turned beastly when Stiles laughed.

“Maybe I should try licking it now,” Stiles said because, as much fun as he was having, Derek was going to stab him if this went on another second. It was all worth it though when he witnessed Derek writhe and keen at the first touch of his tongue. “Okay, I think I’ve got it now.”

It swept him up in a fog. He was only half aware of what he was doing. His sole focus was making Derek feel good, hearing his moans and watching him thrash and have a hard time staying still. Time got lost on him and he’d happily take Derek apart like this for hours, but Derek’s firm grip on his arm eased him off.

Stiles smiled cheekily, lashes fluttering in feigned innocence. “Did I do good?”

Derek slammed him down onto his back, the mattress bouncing from the impact as he loomed over. The want in his eyes was intense and frightening in a good way. His hands shook as they ran over Stiles’ body and Stiles arched greedily into his touch. It was about time they pressed the fast-forward button on this.

“We need to fuck,” Stiles panted. “Condoms and lube. Now.

Of course, when it came to sex, Derek was so goddamn slow about everything. A century and a half went by as Derek leaned over to grab stuff from the nightstand, unbelievably insensitive to Stiles’ distress. It took another decade for him to rip open the wrapper, roll the condom on, and lube his dick. Then he wasted more time dilly-dallying by pumping dabs of lube onto his fingers and inserting them into Stiles one by one. Stiles would be old, gray, and collecting social security by the time Derek actually got inside him.

“C’mon, hurry up!” Stiles whined so Derek could see this was urgent.

“But—” Derek frowned.

“Don’t bother.” He wound his legs around Derek’s waist and clawed at his back. It was sweet that Derek worried, but Stiles knew himself and when he was this hungry for it, when he wanted it this bad, it was a waste of time being gentle.

Sure enough, once Derek glided into him, he was able to grit his teeth against the pain and savor that divinely intense feeling of being split open. He could barely keep his eyes open, overwhelmed by the breach and desperate for Derek to move. It felt marvelous when he finally did, hips snapping without mercy or breaks. Stiles reached down, wanting to fuck his fist while Derek fucked into him. But Derek didn’t like those plan.

“Dude, what the hell!” Stiles’ eyes popped open as he struggled to free his wrist from where Derek had them pinned above his head. “I need to—”

Derek shook his head, a wicked smile on his face as he sunk deep, sealing them together. “Payback for playing games with me.”

“Oh, god!” Stiles practically sobbed when Derek tore out of him and turned him over onto his stomach. While the sheets rubbing against his cock offered some relief, Derek was still a vindictive asshole.

“You okay?” Derek weight fell on top of him, chest scorching Stiles’ back as his teeth clamped down on Stiles’ ear.

“Shut up, Derek!”

It was ridiculously hot being at Derek’s disposal like this. Being overpowered. His cock was so hard it hurt and the hands around his wrist were only getting tighter.

“Did you miss it?” Derek asked, teasing him by slipping only the tip of his cock in. “Did you?”

He couldn’t fathom why Derek would think he was up to a Q&A when there were other pressing matters at hand. All of which were Derek’s fault. He practically lost control of every muscle in his body when Derek’s finger skimmed around his hole, wedging in next to his cock. Sweat fell from Stiles’ forehead, dripping into his eyes as he failed to catch his breath. Then he realized that this wasn’t some inconvenient try at dirty talk. This was Derek asking if Stiles missed him while he was gone. Not the sex.

But how does one convey three weeks of longing to an emotionally stunted moron? An emotionally stunted moron that was currently driving him insane. At the moment, all he had was his body. A body that was Derek’s if he’d have it.

Derek tssked as Stiles pushed back at him, trying to get him fully inside. “What do we say?”

“Fuck you!” Stiles snapped but quickly gave in. “Please!”

“Please, what?”

“Fuck me!”

He did.

“Hard!”

The pace got brutal and Derek laced their fingers together, still keeping both his hands imprisoned. But something was still missing. Stiles wanted it deeper. He wanted Derek more than just inside him. He wanted him under his skin. In every orifice.

“Ugh, like you hate me! Because I hate you so much right now!”

Derek dropped a kiss onto his shoulder, movements speeding up and driving into Stiles as he screamed.

“Please, Derek,” Stiles begged. He had so much more to give him. So much more he wanted him to take. “Don’t hold back!”

Underneath him, the sheets were soaked, seeping with precum. He was close. So close he could cry. Derek’s mouth captured his, the kiss open and wet and good. So good. Derek pulled them up on their knees, locking his arms around him tight and shifting the angle. His thrusts were strained and frantic as he got closer, doing everything to take Stiles with him.

There was a pull in Stiles’ groin that felt like a sprain, sensitive and torturous. His screams turned voiceless as he was unraveled, the uncomfortable strum in his pelvis getting stronger. He watched with wide helpless eyes as his load burst right out of him and completely whited out.

When he opened his eyes again, he reoriented himself, dragging in deep breaths and stabilizing his tremoring. He went to move but found, once again, that his hands were shackled.

“Can I have my hands back now?” Stiles croaked as Derek peppered kisses all over his face.

“Not until you tell me what I want to hear.” Derek grinned, nibbling Stiles’ bottom lip.

Stiles rolled his eyes but smiled. “Ding, ding, ding. You win.”

*

“Looks like we’re all set!”

“Awesome,” Stiles said, reaching the bottom of the stairs with Ash on the leash behind him. “That’s…just…great.”

Big things were happening at the loft today. Things Stiles had no details of because Derek’s family was primarily comprised of people who showed up without calling first a.k.a the worst kinds of people. He’d answered the door that afternoon not knowing who to expect, and in walked Derek’s sisters along with the esteemed Dr. Morell. They didn’t say much, but he got the gist that they were there to confront Derek about his drinking. Which was good. They were Derek’s family and had a better chance of getting through to him than Stiles did.

“Well, good luck with it,” Stiles said, searching for his coat. “I’m gonna take Ash to the dog park.”

“Aren’t you going to stay, Stiles?” Dr. Morell asked.

A feeling of dread passed over him, twisting and roiling in his stomach. “No.” He shook his head. “Derek’s already going to hate this. He’s going to hate this even more if I’m here. Besides, it seems like a family thing.”

“But you’re a big part of his life,” Laura insisted. “And you’re with him more than any of us.”

That certainly got Dr. Morell surveying him closely. He felt like he was being psychoanalyzed on the spot. Stiles hadn’t determined what to make of the doctor yet. She seemed rather qualified but had she really been the one to help Derek in the past? And more importantly, would she be able to do it again?

“We could really use your input.” Dr. Morell admitted. “But there’s no pressure.”

“Um…I….” He waited for Ash to come to his rescue, praying he’d start begging to be taken outside but he was much too preoccupied with licking his junk. “Er…”

“You have to stay, Stiles,” Laura begged him with her eyes.

“Yes, you’ve just got to,” Cora’s tone was drenched in her usual sarcasm.

Stiles applauded Derek’s sisters for wanting to take action and bringing the doctor here, but Stiles had a better sense of self-preservation than that. Shit was about to go down, and if Stiles didn’t leave now, he’d be in the direct line of fire.

He opened his mouth to give a final and firm refusal but somehow what ended up coming out was, “Okay.”

Laura squealed and rushed forward, grabbing his arm. “Don’t worry,” she assured him. “This will all go fine.”

Maybe things really would’ve gone fine had she not just jinxed them. He was seriously going to need her to knock on a piece of wood.

There wasn’t much time until Derek got back from work. Stiles could only imagine what Derek would be thinking, walking in and finding the dining room table full of his insane family members. Since his trip, Derek had gotten sneakier about his drinking. He switched to vodka so that it’d be easier for him to conceal the scent on his breath and began drinking more during the day as well as at night. And while Derek was miraculously still functioning, it was only a matter of time before something went horribly wrong.

Peter had already taken his seat at the head of the table and motioned for Stiles to come sit beside him. As soon as Stiles let go of Ash’s leash, he was diving under the table and keeping out of sight. That good ol’ canine intelligence. Even Ash had sensed that something was about to go down and had secured himself a good hiding spot. If only Stiles could hide under the table too.

Honestly, the sooner Derek got here, the better. Stiles could never get too comfortable in a room full of Hales, and the stress from this situation alone was enough to give him an ulcer. Dr. Morell got out a notepad, clicking her pen. She looked over at Stiles then jotted something down then looked over again and wrote some more. Which, yeah, did wonderful things for Stiles’ anxiety.

Laura pulled a stick of white sage from her hippie satchel-purse and lit it on fire. “What’s she doing?” Stiles asked Peter.

“Why, she’s purifying the air of dark and evil spirits,” he said as if Stiles was an idiot to ask.

“Do you think it’ll work?”

Laura was skipping and twirling around the room, chanting babbles as a perfumed scent permeated the air, veiling it with smoke. She got down on her knees and waved the stick from side to side, rolling her eyes back into her head as if a spirit had entered her body. Nothing about it looked tranquil.

“I’m not sure,” Peter said, giddy when he heard the sound of the front door opening and closing. “Let’s find out.”

Everyone hushed when Derek entered the loft. There wasn’t a single noise except for the sound of Derek’s footsteps moving towards them. Stiles held his breath. He had no idea what to do or what to say. The whole scenario felt doomed from the start, and he looked to Dr. Morell, the expert in this situation, for some indication as to what to do but she gave him nothing. Maybe Stiles should try being positive for once. If this was for real, it could be good for Derek.

As usual, Derek looked ragged and run down after work. He was already eager to get out of his suit, unbuttoning his collar and tugging off his tie when he entered the room and stilled. It was silent for a beat then Derek took one look at the table full of his relatives and erupted into laughter. Stiles was relieved. The white sage must’ve worked.

“I’m sorry,” Derek said, wiping actual tears from his eyes. “But didn’t we try this once?”

“Don’t spoil it, nephew,” Peter shushed and directed him to sit at the opposite end of the table.

“It’s nice to see you again, Derek,” Dr. Morell said with a cordial smile. “Although, I wish it was on better circumstances.”

“Marin,” Derek said amicably, which surprised Stiles. He would’ve thought that Derek would hate his therapist but it seemed the two had a good relationship. Derek snorted, shaking his head at her in disbelief. “God, they even brought you into this.”

“Well, I’ve never met your sisters before today. I only know what you’ve told me, and I thought it best that I be present. My job here is to oversee.” She set her pen down and leaned back in her chair. “I’ll let your family start.”

Derek let out a tired sigh. “So, what it is this time?”

Laura and Cora both rushed to speak first, tripping over each other’s words. Derek shot Stiles a look across the table, seeming incredibly amused by his family’s attempt to save him from himself. He raised a brow as if he was asking Stiles if he’d prepared anything and would like to join in but Stiles just slumped low in his chair.

“This isn’t an intervention, Derek,” Cora stated firmly. “We’re here to deliberate your future as chairman of the Talia Hale Foundation.”

“Stop it, Cora!” Laura hissed. “Derek, we’re here because we love and care about you.”

“There’s a lot at stake here if you continue with this behavior. Most importantly your role with this nonprofit.”

“What Cora means is that we’d like to see you get better and want to help you get through this.”

They argued back and forth while Derek watched, bored. Dr. Morell was studying them with interest, picking up her pen to take notes. Someone should probably interrupt them and get them back on track. He’d seen Laura and Cora argue before, and they could keep this up all day.

“As co-founders of this organization, we can’t afford to let you spiral out of control! We have an image to protect, and I’m certain the board would agree with me on that.”

“What Cora means is that we’re family and—”

“How much, Cora?” Derek abruptly interrupted. The arguing stopped immediately, as did Dr. Morell’s pen. “How much do you need to put an end to all this?”

Cora’s mouth snapped shut and she glared at Derek indignantly, sitting up straighter in her chair and lifting her chin to hold her head up high. “As if I need anything from you.”

“Don’t play games with me,” Derek chastised. “I play them better than you. So, how much do you need?”

“Derek,” Laura tried, “This is Cora. She’s your little sister. She doesn’t want anything. She only wants to help you. And Peter and I are here because we care too, and we want you to get the help you need!”

“How much?” Derek waited, tapping a finger impatiently.

“Five million,” Cora said.

“Deal.” Derek rolled his eyes.

“Cora!” Laura cried and whirled on Cora, who only looked slightly ashamed. “What do you even need it for?!”

“She’s acquired a rather large debt since her divorce and her many failed business ventures,” Peter told them all. He seemed not at all surprised by how these events were unfolding. “She’s been circling around Derek and me for months just waiting to pounce.”

He meowed at Laura who definitely didn’t appreciate that and forgot her flower child, peace-loving nature for a moment to punch Peter in the arm.

Derek pushed back his chair. “Well then, I guess that concludes this little shindig.”

“Wait,” Laura cried before he could go anywhere. “Don’t I have a say in this too? What about Uncle Peter?”

Peter scoffed. “What about Uncle Peter?”

“Peter, you’ve always been his biggest enabler!" Laura admonished. "He needs real consequences! Most alcoholics don’t have access to the funds he does. And their lives don’t look this normal for long. What’s more important to Derek than mom’s legacy?”

Peter shrugged. “I have no doubts about his ability to perform. Stiles can attest to the fact that he’s well-mannered and functioning until about eight o’clock at night.”

All eyes were on Stiles now and he sunk deeper in his seat, trying to stay as small and unseen as possible. He wanted no part in this family soap opera. Although, this would actually make an amazing soap opera plot. There was the catty arguing between Laura and Cora. And the huge jaw-dropping betrayal of Cora being broke and needing money. All they needed now was for Dr. Morell to have some secret identity as a spy or a pregnant ex-lover. He literally just witnessed Cora extorting five million dollars from her own brother. Derek’s whole family was fucking mental. He definitely understood now why Derek hadn’t wanted Stiles to meet them before.

“You’ve got to give the boy his due,” Peter said, still talking about Stiles even though Stiles most definitely didn’t want to be brought up again. “You’re impossible to live with. You use all the scotch tumblers and there are other people that live in this loft that enjoy scotch too.”

“You. Don’t. Live. Here!” Derek sneered viciously.

Peter waved dissmissively. “My point is that you can’t ask Derek to step down. He’s the face of this organization and it would stir unnecessary gossip.”

Laura shoved her chair back, rushing dramatically to Derek’s side. She fell onto her knees and took his hand in hers, eyes shining with the possibility of tears “If you don’t promise to get help today, then I’ll be the one taking this to the board! I’m not going to be one of the people who watches you die! This is your rock bottom, Derek! Losing mom’s foundation and possibly losing me too!”

“And what exactly is it that you want, Laura?”

The Hales and The Restless! One Life to Hale! Stiles would come up with a better name later. Right now, he was slowly slipping down his chair, trying to inch as much of his body under the table as possible so he could discreetly slink away. He checked to see what Dr. Morell was doing; if she was ready to reveal yet that she had time-travelled from the future to save the world from an evil ice machine, but she just hummed and jotted down in her notebook.

Laura’s eyes widened and she snatched her hand away, opening and closing her mouth multiple times. She looked to Cora for help but Cora was clearly snubbing her hypocrisy.

“What’s your guess?” Peter asked Derek, mouth curving into a smile.

“What’s yours?” Derek returned.

“Nude photoshoot to bring awareness to the manufactured slaughtering of Canadian geese.”

Derek shook his head. “She’s building schools.”

“Schools!” Peter gasped. 

“Modeling schools in Taiwan,” Derek said and turned to Laura, giving her the short explaination of how he knew this. “Boyd.”

“I…I was going to tell you about that, Derek,” she stammered. “I wasn’t ever going to force you like Cora! And I still want you to see Dr. Morell because you’re my baby brother, and there’s only so many holistic treatments for Cirrhosis.”

“How much are you looking for?” Derek asked gruffly.

“Ten...” Laura squeaked. “…million.”

“I’ll think about it,” Derek heaved, turning to Dr. Morell. “Now, are we done?”

“If no one else has anything to add,” she replied

“They don’t,” Derek said, pinning a hostile glare on Stiles in particular.

“Well, what about me?” Peter spoke up and chuckled delightfully when Derek pulled a face.

“What about you?”

“This is an intervention. I’d like my chance to intervene,” Peter said. “Sorry, I left my long sappy speech at home. At any rate, I’ve decided I want to take back my foundation since I’m the one who founded it in the first place.”

Stiles really wanted to leave now. He knew how important Derek’s mom was to him. That he wasn’t quite over what happened to her and that losing her definitely had a part in his drinking. But there was a possibility that this could work. That this could be exactly what Derek needed to lose in order realize he needed to fix this.

“You wouldn’t.” Derek’s jaw clenched.

“I would.”

“I’d never forgive you.”

“And I’m okay with that,” Peter said with a slight nod of his head. “I raised you, Derek. And after my sister passed, I watched you become…this thing.” He gestured at Derek’s general direction with frustration. “All the work you’ve done. I know she’d be proud of you. You were always her favorite.”

“Mom didn’t have favorites!” Laura disputed in what seemed like an ancient argument.

“She most definitely did,” Peter affirmed. “But don’t worry. You’ve always been the one I like best. Apologies, Cora.”

Cora sniffed, lifting her nose. “It’s okay. I’m used to no one liking me by now.”

“Derek, I gave you the foundation because I thought it might help you heal, but Talia wouldn’t want you to be like this. She wouldn’t approve of the way any of you are acting,” Peter noted and Laura and Cora both blushed in shame. “So, I’m taking the foundation back until you prove to me that you are serious about getting sober. This is what my sister would’ve wanted.”

The amount of rage coming from Derek made Stiles scared for Peter’s life, but Peter looked unconcerned that Derek was basically plotting his murder. Stiles couldn’t deal with bloodshed. He had a minor blood phobia and if any violence were to occur, he’d faint with no trusty smelling salts on hand to revive him. But if Peter had some sort of death wish then that was cool too. He could keep picking at this scab. As long as he didn’t drag anyone else into it.

“Well?” Peter leaned in his chair and raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you going to offer me anything to change my mind?”

Derek looked about ready to lunge across the table.

“We both know I’m far richer than you,” Peter told him. “But I’m all about fairness. I’m quite fond of young Stiles, here. Maybe he might be able to persuade me.”

“Peter, that isn’t nice,” Laura hissed.

“I just want to know what he thinks.” Peter turned. “Stiles?”

Did Peter really had to drag him down with him? As much as Stiles had tried to stay on the edge of the fray, the spotlight was on him. He looked over to Derek, met his gaze, and didn’t say a word. He had nothing to say. Nothing to preach. Nothing new he could add when he’d said it all before. And so he decided that his silence would be answer enough.

“So, this is awkward,” Peter cleared his throat loudly after some time had passed. “And it appears the organization will be turned over to me. I’ve been needing something to do with all this free time I have. You can have it back once you’ve pulled yourself together. I hope you know that I’m doing this for your own good.”

Chairs scuffled and scraped as everyone got up to leave. Peter whistled for Ash and carted him off. Dr. Morell packed up her notebook and told Derek that he could call her anytime. Laura and Cora both murmured soft apologies, each placing a kiss on Derek’s cheeks before moseying on. And then everyone was gone and it was just him and Derek.

“Listen to me—”

Derek’s chair crashed down onto the ground and he stormed out. Stiles didn’t even get out another word in.

“Would you just listen!” Stiles followed him to the den where he found Derek taking his anger out on more of his material possessions. “Dude! Always with the furniture!”

Derek seethed, pacing in front of him. “Stiles, you were sitting there at my fake intervention while my family attempted to rob me blind! Did you do this! Did you set this up!”

“No! Laura and Cora—They contacted me!” He knew Derek wouldn’t trust anything he said in this moment but he felt like he needed to try. “C’mon, don’t be like this! I thought they were worried about you!”

“You’re way too smart to fall for one of my sisters’ stunts. And what makes you think I’d want you there even if my sisters have ever given a shit about anyone other than themselves!”

“I didn’t think you’d want me here,” Stiles maintained. “Which is why I tried to leave!”

“What do you think we are, Stiles? This is a deal—”

“Yes. A transaction. I know,” Stiles finished for him, rolling his eyes.

“You just crossed a line that cost me everything!” Derek roared.

“I wanted to help you!”

This whole thing ridiculous. Derek was circling him like he was some kind of detective who’d just cracked a case and Stiles was the criminal. It was like a fucking episode of Scooby-Doo.

“Don’t lie,” Derek jeered. “Don’t act like I don’t know what you’re doing here.”

“I’m not using you, Derek,” Stiles vowed. “The other day, Kira, who by the way I always thought was your best friend, but now that I know that she’s your ex-sister-in-law and attorney, that puts me in the elevated status of being your best friend with Peter, Ash, and Jackson as my only competition—”

“You are not my best friend! You are not my anything!”

“She offered me five hundred thousand dollars to end things with you, Derek! Half a million dollars! That’s what she said she’d give me to leave and never see you again! And do you know why I didn’t take it? Because I don’t think half a million dollars is worth never seeing you again!”

“Oh, you can quit it with the bullshit, Stiles!” Derek scoffed.

Stiles paused and tilted his head. His throat was sore from all the yelling and his lungs felt tight in his chest but he couldn’t miss that insinuation. “What does that mean?”

He understood Derek was mad. But they had a deal. Derek couldn’t talk to him like that anymore. He could assassinate Stiles’ character all liked, but they both knew the truth. Stiles didn’t deserve any of that trash. He wasn’t guilty of doing anything other than being extremely supportive to Derek.

Stiles dared him anyway. He dared Derek to say otherwise. He dared him to cross that line even though they were both aware of the consequences.

For a moment, it seemed like Derek hesitated, hovering in indecision, before finally, he said, “It means that you know staying with me has all the potential to be a lot more lucrative down the line.”

“Fuck! You!” Stiles spat, swiveling on his heels.

“Far more beneficial than Kira’s offer!”

“Go to hell!” He grabbed his backpack, shoving his laptop and anything else he’d need immediately inside.

“And at the current rate of our arrangement, you’d be making that in eight months’ time, and you know that rate is always subject to change!”

“Then stop giving me raises!”

“You also know you’d be left with no source of income—”

“I don’t need your money, Derek!”

“Without a job!”

“I don’t have to be unemployed!”

“And without all the material assets I’ve given you!”

He opened his mouth to shout something back, then stopped himself. He was already at the front door, and there was nothing more pointless than arguing with a drunk.

“I’m leaving now,” Stiles told him. “Have a nice life.”

He only had one foot out the door when Derek’s hand wrapped around his wrist and pulled him back inside the loft. The door shut and Derek pressed his back against it, blocking it off. It looked like Stiles wouldn’t be going anywhere for the time being. He tore away from Derek, stumbling back and out of reach, glaring disdainfully.

Derek let out a long stream of vibrant curse words, muttering to himself as he pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked up at Stiles and cursed once more before letting out a weighed-down sigh. “We need new terms.”

Stiles threw his head back and laughed. “And what exactly do you propose?”

It was quiet again, and Stiles wondered why Derek hadn’t just let him leave? Why stop him? He’d already made it painfully clear that he thought Stiles was nothing more than a bloodsucking leech. Now was his chance to be rid of Stiles for good. To remove the parasite.

Derek scrubbed a hand over his face in frustration. His eyes were grim as they looked up at Stiles and said, “You come here. I fuck you. And then you leave.”

It felt like swallowing broken glass. There was no more deluding himself.

“It’s all I’ve got,” Derek said, stepping closer, gently brushing a thumb against Stiles’ cheek. “It’s all I’ve got to give you, Stiles. There is nothing else.”

Stiles nodded. He could see that Derek was being sincere. That he really believed that they couldn’t be more. Stiles appreciated the honesty. He’d wasted a lot of time knowing that this was coming.

“Let’s both just stick to the terms, okay?” Derek said, stepping away and opening the door for him. “I’ll- I’ll see you Thursday.”

Stiles said nothing. He’d leave Derek to think whatever he wanted to think. He was done having to explain his intentions to people. He was done trying to stop Derek from pushing away. Derek liked to win, and ding, ding, ding, he’d won again. He was getting exactly what he wanted. Stiles was never coming back.

Chapter Text

After a bad break-up, it was only natural to fall into a hole of misery, self-pity, and sorrow. Last time Derek had ended things, Stiles hadn’t even wanted to get out of bed. But now that he’d been the one to end it, he wasn’t depressed or on the verge of a major panic attack at all. He knew he’d made the right decision, and there wasn’t an ounce of him that regretted choosing to walk away.

A week had passed of Stiles ignoring any of Derek’s attempts to reach out to him. When he hadn’t gone on Thursday, he’d assumed that’d be enough to imply to Derek that Stiles wanted him to fuck off. But Derek had Erica call him anyway and send him an email like it was the 90’s and people still communicated via AOL. Stiles deleted both immediately. He didn’t have time for poppycock. Not when he had other hectic things going on in his life at the present.

He hadn’t been the only one to get his heart stomped on. Scott and Allison had split up and Scott was taking it pretty hard. It wasn’t fighting and arguing keeping Stiles up at night anymore, but the sounds of Scott’s heavy sobbing as he repeatedly called out Allison’s name. Stiles knew they’d be back together by the end of the week, but he still had best friend duties to fulfill. He needed to cheer Scott up and nothing did that faster than a classic Bro’s Night of eating their feelings, watching movies, and Stiles whooping Scott’s ass at video games.

“How the hell did you win again!” Scott yelled, throwing his game controller across the room. “This shit is rigged!”

Stiles pumped his fist in the air and danced with yet another victory under his belt. Losing about a dozen rounds of Mario Kart to Stiles seemed to have successfully shaken Scott of his woes. Neither of them had moved from the couch in hours, and their arteries were probably clogged from wolfing down all that junk food. It was also likely that they’d ruined their eyesight leaning too close to the TV. They were getting up in years and weren’t as young as they used to be, so who knew if they’d bounce back.

“Your video game skills suck, dude. I’m always telling you to practice three times a day like a good sensei, but you never listen.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Scott stood up and stretched. Rude. Stiles had been hoping they’d set the Guinness World Record for longest time sitting on a couch and Scott just fucked that all up to go take a leak. “I’m done playing this with you. Can you find something else for us to do?”

“Sure.”

Grabbing the remote and switching over to TV, Stiles searched for a good movie to watch On-Demand. He was extremely pleased to see Star Wars listed. Scott had never seen it before and that was something Stiles had always meant to correct. With Scott’s life currently in shambles, now was the perfect time to introduce him to The Force.

“I should go see her, shouldn’t I?” Scott reappeared from the bathroom suddenly overcome by grief with the most pathetic expression on his face.

“No,” Stiles said sternly. “Give her some space. Give you some space. And don’t bring her back here to break any more plates.”

They still hadn’t gotten around to buying new dishware, and Stiles was miffed that he was currently eating his nachos out of a bowl he’d made using cardboard and aluminum foil. They settled in to watch the movie, dimming the lights and wedging a fresh bowl of popcorn between them. But just as the theme song to A New Hope started blaring through the sound system and the text rolled out on screen, ‘It was a period of civil war’, there was a knock at the door.

None of their other friends had been invited to Bro’s Night, and Stiles hadn’t heard the intercom buzz. If it was Allison, she already had a key to let herself in. Which meant it could only be one other person: Fate. Because for fuck sakes, it was like the universe was refusing to let Scott see this movie!

Either way, Stiles would let Scott handle the door. Odds were it was Allison coming to reconcile and snotty tears would be pouring down her face as she jumped into Scott’s arms, and they’d get all The Notebook on him. But when Scott opened the door and didn’t utter a word, not greeting the person or even telling Stiles who it was, Stiles most definitely knew it wasn’t a girl scout selling cookies.

“Um, Stiles…” Scott cleared his throat awkwardly. “I think it’s for you.”

There wasn’t much strength in his legs after sitting for so long. Each step felt like he was learning to walk again. But he managed to make it to the door without falling on his face. Although, it would've been nice to trip and knock himself unconscious so that he wouldn't have to deal with this. This was bad. Really fucking bad. And he wasn’t sure how the hell he’d be able to spin this to Scott. Derek had never been to his place before. He’d drop Stiles off but never came inside. And after recent events, he wasn’t welcome. No one would blame him if he slammed the door in Derek’s drunk sloppy face.

He replaced Scott at the door, avoiding his probing gaze and leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms. Boyd was there with Derek, standing off to the side and Stiles glanced at him for some kind of explanation as to why he’d escort Derek to his apartment in this state. But Boyd just raised his arms in surrender and stepped off to the side.

“Hi...” Stiles said eventually.

“Hi…” Derek slurred back.

“You’re looking lovely tonight.”

Derek gazed down at his attire and almost lost his balance, his head apparently weighing too much for his neck. He looked dirty and wrinkled and bloated and, there was a purple-ish bruise forming under his right eye. This was pretty much the worst Stiles had ever seen him.

“Can I come in?” Derek asked, swaying as he scratched at his overgrown beard.

A smart person, who’d gone through what Stiles had, would’ve say no. After all, Scott was right there which made it an extremely delicate situation. “Um, sure,” he said anyway and stepped aside to let Derek in, nodding to Boyd as he closed the door.

And just like that, his ex-sugar daddy was standing in his apartment while his best friend who had no idea about their secret relationship looked on puzzled. Desperate to break the tension in the room, Stiles said, “You remember Scott right?”

“Of course,” Derek smiled and Stiles was grateful that he didn’t attempt to shake Scott’s hand. “He’s the one you said you were going to bury somewhere on campus so the archeologist students could find his bones if he kept talking about the mystical powers of vaginas.”

Scott’s mouth fell open. “What?!”

“Excuse me, that one was Caitlin,” Derek corrected. “Scott’s the one you wanted to get chlamydia and have a werewolf friend rip his throat out for all the PDA.”

“I never said that!” Stiles swung around to Scott. “I never said that!”

He grabbed Derek by the shirt and tossed him into his room, slamming the door before Derek said anything else and caused further damage. He muttered, “Now you remember everything I say.”

Stiles!” Scott hissed, marching over to him. “What on Earth is he doing here?”

Stiles swallowed. “I- I emailed him the other day about some financial stuff. There’s a few loose ends from our deal, and I asked him what he wanted to do about it. He said he’d come by so we could talk but obviously he’s drunk.”

Scott narrowed his eyes. “So, why not have his bodyguard take him home?”

“Derek’s a high functioning alcoholic. Very functioning," Stiles manufactured. "I’m sure it’ll be better if he just does whatever he’s got to do now, so I can go on never having to see him again.”

He plastered a giant fake smile on his face. Of course, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Scott found out. Stiles was an adult and what adult didn’t make a few disastrous life decisions every now and then? Unfortunately, he didn’t have the balls to tell Scott the truth now.

For the most part, Scott seemed convinced that nothing shifty was going on, although worry hadn’t completely erased itself from his demeanor. “Alright, I’m going to see Allison now, but I can stay if you need me to.”

“No. It’s fine.” Stiles waved. “Boyd’s right outside. I’ve got this handled.”

“I’ll see you later, then.” And with one last skeptical look, Scott departed.

Never had Stiles let out a bigger sigh of relief. Scowling, he twisted the knob to his room and flung the door open, seething. He gasped and lost his breath as the door slammed behind him, his back hitting against it with force. Derek’s mouth dove down onto his neck, biting and sucking as he hoisted Stiles up off the floor. Stiles whimpered because his cock was Brutus. Why, Satan, why!

“Derek, no!” Stiles shoved at his chest, nervous that Derek wouldn’t know where to draw the line being this inebriated. “Hey, Derek. In case you aren’t aware, you’re super drunk. Like sloppy drunk. Like we should get you to a hospital drunk. And your eye—”

“It’s fine,” Derek mumbled and nipped at his favorite spot on Stiles’ jaw causing Stiles’ eyes to roll back. “I go a lot longer when I’m drunk.”

“A lot longer?” Stiles frowned. “What do you mean a lot longer! The longest we’ve ever gone was two hours. Are you saying you can go more than two hours?!”

Derek smirked cockily. “My records three. Can we fuck now?”

Stiles shook his head.

“Last week was…We could take a shower…” Derek tried but Stiles shook his head again. The issue was dropped with Stiles’ explicit dissent and Derek stepped back, gently placing him back down on the ground.

“Is this your room?” Derek’s eyes lit up when he caught a glimpse of his surroundings, stumbling as he surveyed all of Stiles’ things. “It’s a lot different than how I imagined. Why do you have all these toys in your room?”

“Because they’re awesome,” Stiles griped defensively. Why was Derek imagining what his room looked like anyway? That struck him as odd.

There should really be a ‘No Touching’ sign for all the extremely fragile collector’s item and memorabilia he had displayed around his room. Being that he was a huge nerd with access to a lot of cash, he’d gone a little wild buying all kinds of awesome stuff he would’ve never been able to afford as a kid. His vintage Marvel comic book collection and the gizmos and gadgets he had everywhere had cost him a lot. There was a life-sized Darth Vader that chilled out in the corner, and sometimes it was hard to tell that his walls were painted royal blue since they were crammed with framed posters.

However, it was his Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon and Death Star Lego sculptures that had Derek tossing his head back and laughing his ass off. “This is what you do with your allowance? Buy Legos!”

What else was he supposed to do with it? Every month, his bank statements got more and more absurd. As much as he gave away to various charities, he still had way more than he’d ever need. So yes, he was in an excellent position to buy four thousand dollar Lego sets without setting himself back too much.

“You don’t keep it very clean, do you?” Derek grimaced, swiping his pointer finger along a shelf and holding it up. There was barely any dust on his finger but even the smallest speck was a pig sty in Derek’s eyes.

“Hey, do I come to your ‘loft’ and judge you?”

“You should’ve told me. I would’ve hired someone.” Derek walked backward, moving on to the aquarium. “Are all your fish still alive?”

Stiles nodded, inhaling sharply when Derek flashed a blinding smile that left him dazed.

“Did you name them?” Derek asked.

Stiles scoffed. “How else would I assign them their chores?”

“Who’s this one?” Derek grinned, pointing at a small yellow block of an animal.

“Scott named him Pee Hole.” Stiles sniggered at the face Derek made. “Yeah, I know. My friends.”

“Listen, about the other day—”

“Forget it,” Stiles said. He didn’t feel like doing this now.

“No, I wanted to say—”

“Seriously. Just stop,” Stiles cut him off.

Derek’s tour of his room came to an abrupt end and he sat on the very edge of Stiles’ bed, staring down at his shoes like a reprimanded child. Good. He should feel guilty for what he did. In fact, he should stay in time-out and not be allowed to go to recess or get a pudding cups like the rest of the class because he was a bad bad boy.

Crossing his arms over his chest, Stiles began his rant, “Showing up at my apartment like this…not cool. Scott already thinks something’s up, and you’re just asking for everything to get fucked by being here without giving me any types of heads up! You always know when I’m coming to see you. You’d think you’d give me the same courtesy seeing as you’re such a douchebag about me being in your loft!”

He kicked Derek in the shin then exhaled and walked over to his mini-fridge to grab a bottle of water and chucked it at Derek’s head. “Drink that! All of it! And don’t you even think about throwing up in here or I will incinerate you!”

“What are you doing?” Derek asked between sips of water.

“Untying your shoes." Stiles knelt down and pulled at his shoelaces. "I have a no shirt, no shoes, and sometimes no underwear policy. People in my room are required to be as comfortable as possible and you hate being in a suit.”

Derek finished the entire bottle of water and when he hadn’t immediately hurled all over the place, Stiles crawled into his lap to work on his tie. He knew he’d never be able to stop caring about Derek, but he couldn’t be a part of his life anymore unless things changed. He couldn’t settle. If he couldn’t have everything, then he’d rather have nothing.

“You know my three-hour record? I think I’d like to break it with you.”

“No.” Stiles' face contorted. “No way. Never. I know my ass’s capabilities, and it doesn’t even sound fun to have sex that long.”

“You’re right. It’s not.” Derek chuckled, flopping back onto the bed and closing his eyes. “But Kate, my ex-fiancé, liked it long. Then again, she also liked blowing all my money away in Vegas, gambling and snorting coke with her little boyfriends. And let’s not forget the ‘cosmetic procedures’. I mean, she got everything done, even her pinky toes. Had to be at least twenty-five grand.”

Stiles arched a brow. “What’d she do to her pinky toes?”

“She cut them off!” Derek shouted, shaking his head as if he still couldn’t wrap his mind around it after all this time. “But as far as exes go, Jennifer was by far the craziest.”

“Jennifer?”

Maybe they shouldn’t talk about this anymore since Derek was drunk and probably wouldn’t want Stiles to have such a detailed run-down of his love life, but curiosity won over.

“Before Kate and the reason I had to hire Boyd,” Derek said. “Jennifer didn’t like when you didn’t give her exactly what she wanted. So, she’d throw tantrums, make scenes in my office, and take a bat to my cars. Really, the only good thing about Jen was how many times she tried to kill Kate. I’m proud to say she got pretty close.”

The fact that Derek had to hire Boyd because of an ex-girlfriend threatening his safety and the safety of his property was sort of horrifying. He wondered how Derek could even laugh that off.

“After that, there was Jordan and his double life. Mason who was fine at first, then clingy, then threatening to commit suicide if I didn’t spend every waking moment with him. And then there was Brett…I should ask Boyd if he’s still stalking me. Kira did a phenomenal job with the restraining order but he’s one of the more persistent ones. And I’m always forgetting about Ennis. That snake cost me a fortune and almost single-handedly destroyed my firm. And…”

Derek continued listing off his past relationships, each seeming more and more toxic as he went on. Stiles could feel himself growing pale, sick to his stomach. Was this how Derek saw him as well? He covered Derek’s mouth with his hand before he heard himself on the roster.

“Stop! I don’t want to hear anymore,” Stiles said then swallowed, biting the inside of his cheek. “Not everyone wants something, you know.”

Derek snorted. “Have you met my family?”

“Yeah. I met them.” He got off Derek’s lap and stood, running frustrated fingers through his hair. Derek sat up as well, watching him knowingly. “What are you doing here, Derek? You’re a smart guy. I shouldn’t have to tell you that you broke our deal. You and I are done.”

“Stiles, I didn’t mean for the situation to get as volatile as it did.”

“I don’t care.”

“My family is my family and I don’t have much family left. My sisters will always be a part of my life even though they drive me insane. They know they can come to me whenever they need money, but instead, they went behind my back and used my mom’s foundation as blackmail.”

“I still don’t care.”

“And I know I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on you. I’m really sorry about that, okay. But that foundation means everything to me! They know how much I work on it and how it’s the only thing that keeps me close to our mom. Now that’s gone.”

“I still really don’t care, and I don’t forgive you.” Stiles wasn’t going to budge on that. Sheepishly, he asked, “What happened to your eye?”

Derek furrowed his brows and touched under it then winced in pain. He shrugged. “Don’t remember.”

“You need help, Derek,” Stiles said, shaking his head reproachfully. “You need it soon.”

“I’m—” Derek stopped himself when Stiles’ scowled and fell back down onto the bed again. “Peter’s probably right about my mom not being happy with how we turned out. I’ve put all that work in over the years to honor her legacy and make sure she’s remembered by the public, but I can’t even remember her voice anymore. Obviously, I failed since Peter has it all now.”

“What about talking about her?” Stiles got back on the bed and laid next to him, propping his chin up on his hand. “You know memories? That’s one way. I get that she was an idolized figure, but she was still your mom. She couldn’t have been perfect.”

A line appeared between Derek’s brow as he pondered that. “No, she wasn’t. She was kind of a big disaster.”

“Yeah?” Stiles grinned. “Mine too.”

“When I was nine, she lost me at the Bronx Zoo for two hours and didn’t realize until security found me sobbing next to the gorilla pit and brought me to her. I still resent her for that. How could you not realize your child went missing? Then another time, she gave me and Laura food poisoning making dinner. We spent three days in the hospital. Weird thing was that she said it was vegan.”

“My mom was even more of a spaz than I am,” Stiles told him. “And for someone married to a cop, she sure was a klepto at the grocery store. She had a sweet tooth. More like a rotten tooth. She was obsessed with anything sugar and her whole mouth was cavities.”

Derek’s lip twitched, a competitive glint in his eye. “My mom had a phobia of moths but wrap a snake around her neck and she was fine.”

“Well, my mom flirted with the mailman every day to get free stamps for her stamp collection,” Stiles upped the ante. If this was a contest of who’s dead mother was the bigger hot mess, then Claudia Stilinski had this down pat. “My dad actually tried to arrest the man.”

“My mother made us all learn jungle bird calling so we’d feel we had a special talent,” Derek shot back.

Stiles squinted. “Do it. Right now. Or it doesn’t count.”

Licking his lips, Derek began to whistle, transforming Stiles’ room into a rainforest as bird melodies floated from his mouth. It was unreal. Derek was actually amazing. And Stiles lasted one whole minute in awe before he busted out laughing. Tears fell down his face as he cackled and rolled around on the bed until his sides hurt. Derek continued in his calls, imitating a different bird now that had a shrill squeak and a deep grunt. Stiles thought he might piss himself.

“I’ve still got it,” Derek said proudly but took mercy on Stiles and stopped.

It took him a while to calm down but this match couldn’t be over yet. “This one time, my mom got into a brawl with a PTA mom on a class field trip to the dinosaur museum. And my mom was all brawn so she picked the lady up and threw her into a stegosaurus fossil. Security had to come and carry her out but she sure showed that mom who’s boss.”

Derek laughed long and loud. “That one’s tough but I think I can beat it,” he said, clearing his throat. “My mom wouldn’t let me cut my hair until I was thirteen. I had hair like Pocahontas.”

Stiles fucking lost it. Imagining a thirteen-year-old Derek singing Colors of the Wind while a breeze blew leaves through his long, dark, waist-length tresses had Stiles curled up in fetal position. He thought he might never breathe again. This competition was finished. There was no beating that.

“Oh my god!” Stiles wheezed. “Do you have to win at everything?”

“No, I guess not.” Derek sat up, his face growing somber suddenly. “I should probably go. You’re right. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Wait.” Stiles jumped into his laps, straddling his hips.

He should let him leave. They couldn’t be together anymore. Not even as friends. However, Derek had let his guard down for once, showing vulnerability. With a past full of pain, it must be hard for him to trust someone like Stiles with memories of his mom. But having learned all those quirky details about Talia, he understood why Derek worked so hard to make sure she was honored and remembered for her work.

“Come on,” Stiles coaxed as he stood, ripping his shirt over his head.

Derek watched him as he unbuttoned his pants and shoved those down too. He grabbed a hold of Derek’s arms and hauled him up. “Where are we going?” Derek asked, confused.

Stiles’ lips curved into a soft smile. “We’re taking a shower.”

He amused himself by turning the cold water on Derek a few times until they were fighting over the shower hose and soaked his entire bathroom floor. He got Derek some Tylenol and forced him to eat a pepperoni hot pocket and also drink three more bottles of water. Then they just talked a bunch and fell asleep tangled in each other's arms.

But Stiles might’ve underestimated how fucked up of an individual Derek was, because when he woke up the next morning, Derek was gone, albeit he’d left behind a few things. Stiles fiddled with the money clip in his hand, flipping it around and thumbing through the crisp hundred dollar bills. It’d been waiting for him on his nightstand when he opened his eyes that morning.

Stiles slipped the clip off and threw all the money in the air, letting bills rain down around him. He’d always wanted to lay in a bed full of money, but it was uneventful and not as glamorous as he’d imagined. Also, germs. A ton of germs. He was going to need lots of Purell.

They hadn’t had sex that night. They hadn’t even kissed. Still, Stiles had never felt so cheap.

*

Calling his dad to ask if it was okay for him to move back in the summer ended up being more difficult than Stiles thought. Being a cop, his father’s instantaneous paranoid reaction was to assume that something terrible had happened and that Stiles was in deep trouble with the law. He asked Stiles a million questions about his well-being and threatened to get on a plane and fly to New York no less than five times if Stiles didn’t start telling the truth by the end of the phone call.

Of course, he felt awful for making his dad worry. Stiles assured him that he was fine and there were no hidden motives for wanting to return home. He made a mistake telling his dad that he missed Beacon Hills, because who in their right mind could actually miss Beacon Hills. So, he covered by saying he was looking at grad schools out there and that there were better job opportunities for his field in California. Also, that he missed the weather because New York winters sucked balls.

However, nothing influenced his desire for a sudden change of address more than being completely finished with Derek Hale. He was one-hundred percent done. Cutting ties. And getting out of New York was just step one of a twelve-step program. Oh, and if Derek ever wanted him back, that son of a bitch would have to get on his knees and grovel. Plea for pardon. Beg within an inch of his life. Kiss the dirt at his feet and worship Stiles’ very existence.

He’d neither seen nor spoken to Derek in over a month when all these packages started showing up in his mailbox out of nowhere. He had to tell Scott it was an Amazon shopping spree, even though there was no way these gifts were coming from Derek. Tasteless materialistic crap wasn’t his style. What cinched it was the stunning Hermès overcoat Stiles received one afternoon. Derek would rather die than go clothes shopping.

“You’re making my job so much harder than it is!”

“I want a ping-pong table.”

“I don’t deserve this!”

“And a Squatty Potty.”

“It’s twenty times worse than when you guys broke up before. Isaac and Boyd agree!”

“Also could you send me a new phone tomorrow? Mine’s been cracked for forever and there’s a piece of glass stuck in my cheek as we speak.” Stiles tapped his chin, trying to think of one more thing. “Oh! And I want an ice-cream maker. I’ll text you the one I want.”

Erica had been committing credit card fraud for the past few weeks, using Derek’s black card to send Stiles extravagant bribery. Stiles almost felt bad for her after hearing all her whining, but since she had her hands on Derek’s card, he might as well take full advantage. That way the bribes could be things he actually wanted.

She groused, “Will that be all or would you like anything else courtesy of Mr. Hale?”

“Ummmm.” Stiles chewed his lip. “Flowers are always nice.”

That evil witch sent him a thousand fucking roses! Stiles tripped and shattered three vases just trying to walk into his apartment. He wouldn’t wish this kind of flowery hell on anyone. The card was lovely, though: ‘My boss is an asshole and so are you.’ She was lucky he wasn’t reporting her fraudulent ass to the credit card bureau.

*

Another month flew by and Stiles had to say he was doing okay. He was scoping out potential grad-school programs and planning somewhat for the future. When he thought about Derek now, the anger had faded and replaced itself with an inevitable longing, but it wasn’t too strenuous to bear. It was a work in progress and he did his best to keep it moving. However, Erica’s wasn’t the only campaign calling for a reconciliation between him and Derek.

“Listen you! You are going to get back together with my brother, right now!”

Stiles quivered as Cora’s grip tightened on the front of his shirt and she leaned super close to his face. “Um…how did you get into my apartment?”

“Not important.” Cora let him go and Stiles staggered but quickly caught himself on the doorframe.

Unlocking his front door and finding a hulking mad Cora Hale waiting for him inside had been a shock. But discovering the reason for her visit had left him stunned. He didn’t trust his ears. It sounded like she was demanding for him to mend things with Derek, but that couldn’t be right. He must be entering an alternative universe.

“Er…Derek and I were never together, remember? You basically implied that I was a prostitute.”

“Then allow me to admit that I was a tiny bit wrong!” Cora threw her arms in the air. “How was I to know it was possible that someone like you would be compatible with Derek!”

“Someone like me?” Stiles drew his brows together.

“Yes, a child way too young in years for him! Kids these days with their hookup culture —”

“Kids these days?” Stiles gawked. “You know you can’t be that much older than me, right?”

Maybe it was that overflowing reservoir of rage deep within her that gave her skin such a youthful glow. It was his first time seeing her with her hair down as opposed to the severe bun she liked to sport. She was also wearing jeans. Jeans! Not a stiff pantsuit that aged her sixty years. The way she looked now, she couldn’t be more than twenty-seven. But if she wanted to call Stiles a young whippersnapper, then that was cool too.

“My brother’s never made good relationship choices, and I wanted to save him from another Kate! I’m sure the millionaire matchmakers I’ve hired in the past would’ve found someone much more appropriate for Derek. But how was I to know that you made him insanely happy!”

“Insanely happy?” Stiles snorted. “You’re joking, right?”

Over Cora’s shoulder, he spotted Laura sitting on the couch, a rather solemn look about her. He almost didn’t recognize her without her usual tie-dye, peace, and love, bohemian chic couture. It was weird. She actually looked like a semi-normal person when her head wasn’t in the clouds.

“Stiles, I’m so sorry that we came between you and Derek,” She said with overflowing sincerity in her eyes. “We tend to get a little self-centered and we were completely out of line. Now that we’ve gotten a grasp of reality, we’d like to set this right.”

Stiles frowned. “What about blackmailing Derek?”

“Not one of my finer moments,” she said, pulling a face. “But we’ve gotten so used to Derek and his robotic deals that we forget sometimes that he has feelings.”

That piqued his interest. “He makes them with you guys, too?”

Laura nodded. “We haven’t had the typical sibling relationship in years. Derek always takes care of us but we rarely get the chance to take care of him. As you know, he’s in a bad place right now and I’d like to see what I can do to help.”

Silence lapsed for a period but it wasn’t awkward. In fact, it made Stiles laugh. “You two aren’t arguing.”

Laura looked over at Cora and chuckled as well. “That’s because we very much agree on this. You seemed so good to Derek and then we messed that up.”

It was hard for him to believe that he and Derek had been good for each other. He’d always wanted it to be the case and they’d had a lot of good times. And yeah, he guessed Derek had opened up and let him in, to a small extent. But that was the issue at hand.

Stiles had given it his all. There’d been no restraints. No conditions. Just total and complete abandon. And all Derek gave him back in return was terms, and limits, and conditions. He could fuck but not love. Hold him close but with distance. Lower walls then add more barriers. Stiles couldn’t do that again.

“So, Stiles. What can we do to fix this?” Laura asked.

He was going to answer truthfully but then a devious thought crossed his mind. “Cora has to give me a hug."

Cora stiffened. “What?”

“You have to be nice to me,” Stiles said. “Think you can manage that?”

“I don’t do hugs.” Her nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Then I’ll walk you through it.”

Cora remained rigid the whole time. He held out his arms and pulled her into a giant bear hug, but it was like hugging a rock. No effort was made on her part. He also had concerns about her body temperature. Either Cora was anemic or she wasn’t totally a full warm-blooded animal. It made sense for her to be as icy as her personality. He couldn’t get away from the god awful embrace fast enough.

“That was honestly the worst hug ever,” Stiles confessed. “But now, you won’t be able to resist my charm.”

“I did what you asked.” Cora brushed herself off and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “So, will you get in touch with Derek?”

“Nah.”

Cora lunged, looking ready to club him to death with her surly fists.

“I'm sorry!” Stiles covered his face. “But I really can’t go back.” 

“Useless!” Cora puffed but stopped looking like she was going to enact violence against him.

“We understand,” Laura said dolefully. “I can’t help feeling that this is all our fault.”

Stiles shook his head. “No, it wasn’t you. You guys had nothing to do with it. Derek did this all on his own.”

*

Spring certainly took its time coming around, but when it finally arrived, Stiles rejoiced in kissing winter goodbye. The season change also indicated that he would be turning another year older, celebrating one step closer to death. Twenty-three. He willed himself not to have an existential crisis about it. He did find three gray pubes. He felt it symbolized him growing wiser.

His friends were throwing him a surprise party which, Stiles had no doubts, would be epic. They were terrible at keeping secrets, so he’d have to act like he didn’t know. Fortunately, he had the perfect shocked face and had already searched up a Youtube video of how to cry on cue.

On the day of his birthday, a package was delivered to his door, once again signed from Derek. He didn’t even need to open the fancy schmancy jewelry box to see that it was another one of Erica’s bribes. He thought she'd given it a rest, but maybe she was winding up again. Either way, the federal government would catch on sooner or later. But it was thoughtful of her to send him a birthday present anyway.

He forgot about the gift as he went on with the rest of the day. He did a celebratory brunch with Lydia who was, yes, still his formidable girlfriend. Then there was a Skype call with his dad and Melissa where he was made to suffer through their awful rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. Later that night, he was whisked away by Scott and Allison to an unknown location, which wasn’t revealing at all. And when they went inside and his friends jumped out screaming surprise, it was just the biggest shock of his life!

Overacting was cancer to a young thespian. He might’ve done a little too much which alerted everyone at the party that he’d anticipated this. Botching such a golden acting opportunity was a misstep but he had an amazing time regardless. He’d gotten quite a few presents which were wonderful, but it wasn’t until he got home that he remembered he never opened Erica’s.

The velvet box had to contain something grandiose inside. A hefty debt must’ve been placed onto Derek’s black card. He had no guesses as to what it could be but he wasn’t a huge jewelry person, to begin with. Deciding he wouldn’t remain too long in suspense, he opened the box and saw it was a…a…keychain?

The first time Stiles had ever fully stepped into Derek’s world, it had been on a shopping trip, which he soon learned that Derek despised and they would never do another one. They’d gone to Tom Ford so that Stiles to get appropriate formal attire to accompany Derek to certain events. But having someone offer to spend that kind of money on him was daunting and he needed some time to get comfortable with the idea. Looking at the price tags hurt his soul. He needed a budget. He was too overwhelmed. But Derek said he could get anything he wanted no matter the cost. So, he asked the sales associate to find him the cheapest thing in the entire place and presented it to Derek.

And that item just so happened to be a keychain.

“Seriously?” Derek lifted an eyebrow, unimpressed.

“Hey, you said anything,” Stiles reminded him cheekily.

Derek didn’t buy him the keychain. Instead, they left and went to dinner. Erica started doing all his personal shopping, which was great because Stiles had no sense of style, and he was happier not knowing the prices and didn’t go out of his way to find out. Over time, he started to accept the lifestyle and no longer had the same qualms.

He gazed down at the keychain in his hand now with that memory still lingering. The gold pendant showcased a recognizable Medusa logo. Versace. Color him impressed. There was no note. No letter. But Stiles got the message loud and clear.

Anything.

It was so Derek. He loved it. And it was the perfect gift because he’d been meaning to return Derek’s keys. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his keyring, removing his copy and attaching it to his birthday gift. He dumped them back into the velvet box and would mail them back on Monday.

Anything. He should’ve known Derek was a liar from the start.

*

As predicted, Scott and Allison made up after a microscopic period of angst. They were back to being their disgusting lovey-dovey selves, sharing bubble gum and going back and forth about who had the prettier eyes when drama reared its ugly head again. Allison asked Scott to accompany her to a formal fundraising gala her family's non-profit was having, but Scott wouldn’t stop freaking out about spoons and table manners, and so he begged Stiles to go because he didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of all of the rich people.

Except Allison’s dad was the super dull, boring, monotone moderator from the Argent Cross Global Initiative. And while Stiles definitely knew his way around cutlery, he knew nothing about impressing parents. Stiles agreed to go anyway, and of course, Lydia invited herself as his date. He braced himself for the possibility of seeing Derek. It was an Argent Cross event and Derek was one of their ambassadors so odds were that he’d be there.

On the night of the gala, he and Scott dressed to the nines, looking sharp, clean, and sophisticated. Allison’s parents were a tough crowd and sharing a table with them was dreadful. Chris Argent laughed at none of his jokes and his wife, Victoria, glared heinously at Scott, slicing into her steak like she was imagining it was Scott’s…err you know.

Stiles tried not to look around for Derek but every now and then his eyes swept the ballroom. A couple hours into the evening, Stiles spotted Derek arriving with Jackson in tow. They both looked impeccable in their formal attire as always; Derek looking extra delectable since Stiles hadn’t seen him in quite some time. Derek was also drunk. Very drunk. Which didn’t surprise Stiles at all. The stress on Jackson’s face as he tried to remove the drink in Derek’s hand and replace it with a glass of water said it all. Derek didn’t give a fuck anymore.

After Derek and Jackson showed up, Lydia became uncharacteristically affectionate. She was practically hanging off him, kissing his cheek and resting her head on his shoulder. Stiles just went with it since they were supposed to be a couple. In fact, they were nuzzling noses when Derek and Jackson happened to be walking by their table.

Stiles wasn’t sure what the protocol was for a tense situation like this. How were they supposed to act? Should there be a courteous nodding of heads in acknowledgment of each other? What about a quick wave or a passing smile? They didn’t need to converse but they didn’t have to pretend they didn’t know each other either. They could be grownups.

An elderly man stopped Derek and Jackson, trying to talk their ears off it seemed. It was hilarious how oblivious the man was to their desperate attempts to flee. Very entertaining to watch. Stiles didn’t even realize he was staring until he noticed Derek glowering back at him.

So... they were mortal enemies now. Good to know. Seeing and feeling that amount of hate being directed at him from Derek had not been something he’d prepared for. It left him feeling a little rattled and thrown off course. He excused himself from Lydia’s arms, telling Scott he needed a break from Mission Impossible: Impressing the Argents and went outside to get some air.

He hadn’t taken more than ten steps out the door when he heard, “Why’d you give them back?”

Stiles sighed heavily and pivoted on his heels. Months without speaking and this was how they were meeting again. Derek was no longer a functioning alcoholic. He was just a plain alcoholic. Stiles could hardly make out his slurring, but he understood the question and had already thought of the perfect response.

“Because you couldn’t afford me anymore, Derek,” he said. “I’m way too expensive, now.”

Derek’s hands slipped into his pockets and his eyes fell to the gravel. He gave an easy shrug of his shoulders and said, “Give me a price. Maybe I’ll match it.”

Stiles’ lip curled into a snarl as he lashed out, "You know what, why don’t you just take it? You paid a lot for this right? And I guess I kind of owe you.”

Derek’s nostrils flared. “Yeah, I guess you do.”

“And I’m just using you right?” He laughed sardonically, delighting in the way his words made Derek flinch. “Why don’t I use you some more. I could really use the money.”

Derek’s lips pressed together in a tight line, eyes burning with so much contempt, they almost glowed.

Stiles strode over, eliminating the space between them until they were nose to nose. “I’ve got a real question for you, Derek," he spat. "How about you tell me why you’re always fucking with my head! Then maybe, just maybe I’ll think about letting you put your hand on my dick.”

Derek’s breathing fumed against his cheek and he tensed the more Stiles infiltrated his space.

“Why are you even out here talking to me, huh? It’s been a while. Why haven’t you hired someone else? How about an actual hooker? Why don’t you go and hire one of them?”

He deliberately smoothed a hand down Derek’s front and raised a brow when he saw the intense reaction to his touch. “You can’t, can you? Did I give it to you too good? Was I worth every penny?”

“Stop it,” Derek chided, angrily brushing off Stiles’ hands. He looked around at the other people eyeing them on the sidewalk. “Just shut up, please.”

“I told you already. That word doesn’t work on me anymore,” Stiles retorted petulantly but didn’t say anything else.

He hated this disease. Hated what it did to the people he cared about. Hated the way it turned them into something so mean and rotten. It’d been so long since the last time Stiles had seen Derek sober, and he felt his heart breaking all over again watching Derek having difficulty with doing something as simple as keeping himself standing upright. He hadn’t been around to see when Derek had started spiraling, but there was no way Derek was still effortlessly concealing this from people.

Stiles didn’t know when his eyes started welling up and the tears started falling from his eyes, but Derek’s warm hand came up and cupped his cheek. He hadn’t realized how much he missed Derek’s touch as well, shuddering when Derek’s thumb swiped along his cheek and finding it hard to resist leaning into his pull.

“Stiles?”

Absently, Stiles looked away from Derek and over his shoulder when he heard his name being called. At first, he thought it was a dream and that Scott wasn’t really behind him finding out about him and Derek like this. But there he was. His good old pal, Scott, standing off in the distance, gawking at them like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Stiles couldn’t believe what he was seeing either. Maybe if they both shut their eyes and pretended nothing ever happened, everything would be okay.

Stiles jerked away from Derek so fast that, with how clumsy he normally was, it was a miracle he didn’t bust his head open. If only another miracle could save him from this awkwardness. “Uh…hey, Scott.”

An indistinguishable look fixed itself on Derek’s face and he moved swiftly for the front doors. “It was good seeing you again, Stiles. You both enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Then he vanished back inside, leaving Stiles alone to clean up the mess.

“What were you doing out here with him?” Scott asked once Derek was gone. An assortment of emotions was playing out on his face, the main one being shock. “You know I’m not stupid. I saw the two of you making out.”

Due to the severity of the situation, Stiles refrained from rolling his eyes at the exaggeration. Yes, they’d been standing extremely close to each other, but Stiles wouldn’t have let Derek kiss him. He would’ve snapped out of it on his own at some point and told Derek where to stick. He wouldn’t have let it happened. Well, he’d try not to let it happen. Would he have let it happened?

“How much is he paying you this time?” Scott asked bluntly, scrutinizing him with different eyes like Stiles was some stranger. “Must be a lot for you to do something like this to Lydia.”

The temperature was lovely tonight. Not too hot. Not too cold. And yet, Stiles felt like it was freezing. There was no warmth coming from Scott’s tone at all. Stiles felt like the worst person to ever be a person.

“Seriously, how long has this been going on for?”

“A while.”

“How long have you been lying to me?” Scott crossed his arms over his chest. “Weeks?”

Stiles shook his head.

“Months?” Scott gasped, recognition dawning on his face. “You’ve been lying to me for months! For him! For a guy that throws money at you. Who doesn’t give a shit about you!”

He didn’t argue with him. Scott loathed Derek and everything he was saying right was things he’d already stated in the past. But his words held more weight this time. Like one big ‘I told you so.’ All those times Stiles had defended Derek to Scott, not listening to Scott’s advice because Stiles thought Scott just didn’t get it, was coming back to bite him in the ass. Stiles was completely in the wrong for this.

“Stiles. Buddy. Why?” Scott grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him like he was trying to rattle sense into his brain. Then Scott was hugging him hard, arm winding around him so tight, it felt like a pinch.

Sagging in relief that Scott wasn’t going to hate him forever and that he hadn’t completely ruined their friendship, Stiles hugged him back. They stayed that way for a long time, probably making rich people loitering on the sidewalk think it was the homosexual agenda.

“Are you going to tell Lydia or should I?”

“Nah, I’ll tell her,” Stiles said, snuggling into Scott’s shoulder.

He felt lighter now that Scott knew, the guilt that had riddled him no longer an onus on his mind. Even though the thought of telling Lydia was intimidating, he wanted to experience the same relief by confessing the truth to her. Then maybe she would finally finally break up with him.

*

“YOU WHAT!” Lydia whispered-yelled-shouted-hissed.

So, here’s the thing about plans. They don’t always go as planned. And he’d had a great plan. An amazing plan. Just the best. He’d mapped out every step and consulted a dictionary and thesaurus to know exactly what to say and how to say it so that no feelings were hurt in the process. He’d figured everything out. He had the perfect way to tell Lydia about Derek.

Unfortunately, things went array from the jump. Stiles had planned to take Lydia somewhere private where they couldn’t be overheard since rich people were extremely nosy. He wanted her to be sitting down for the bad news in case she fainted or was overcome by emotion. But when he stepped back into the ballroom to search for her, Lydia grabbed him first and hauled him to the dance floor.

Stiles didn’t really dance. He could groove at times. Bring a funky chicken or sprinkler to great justice. But ballroom dancing was totally different. He needed to tell Lydia about Derek before all the courage he’d mustered left him there to hang. So, when the waltzing began, Stiles couldn't keep it in anymore. He had to start talking, which was super difficult since he had to multi-task so he didn’t step on her feet.

At first, she was fine with that information that the ‘someone else’ Stiles had mentioned before was there at the Argent Gala. She seemed intrigued even. She started pointing out people in the room, trying to guess who it could be, all of whom were senior citizens and ugly. She certainly wasn’t giving him credit for the catch that he was. Finally, he just told her it was Derek so she could stop bruising his pride.

And that was precisely when the whole cheating thing became a huge point of contention for them.

“Did he know?” Lydia whisper-yelled-shouted-hissed once more.

They were in the middle of the dance floor and almost everyone was watching them now, expecting a good show. It was likely they’d get one. Lydia was red-faced and breathing fire.

“Did who know?” Stiles asked, tripping over his own feet. They were still dancing.

Jackson!” She shouted. “Did he know that you were with Hale this whole time?"

Stiles chanced a glance at Jackson who was sitting at a table by himself watching the whole thing with a smirk on his face. It looked like Derek had left Jackson by himself at the party and he was going to spend the rest of the time being a douche. He laughed when Stiles tripped again and raised a glass in cheers.

“Yeah, he knows.”

“Oh, my god. He’s known this whole time?”

Lydia’s eyes were wide eyes like she was about to burst into tears. Stiles would offer his handkerchief but he wasn’t one of her favorite people right now.

Her face contorted into a mix of anger, betrayal, and disgust. “He’s the head of my firm, Stiles! That is just—You are pathetic!”

Well, that went swell. Made the other plan seem inferior on all margins. Having his captor-girlfriend call him pathetic then storm off while a room full of people watched was the cherry on top of this already disastrous night. Alone in the middle of the dance floor and feeling all these people judging him, Stiles didn’t know how this could get any worse.

“Girlfriend problems?”

He spoke too soon.

“What’s it to you?”

Jackson grabbed his hand and placed his other on the small of Stiles’ back and began waltzing with him. Unlike his dance with Lydia, Stiles had no problems keeping up and didn’t trip or stumble while Jackson whirled them around. It didn’t surprise him that Jackson was a superb dancer. He was all decadence and debauchery and if Stiles was a lady, he’d definitely be swooning right now.

“It’s good that you and Lydia have problems,” Jackson told him. “You shouldn’t be with a girl like Lydia, anyways.”

“Oh? Why is that?”

He’s been told many a time that Lydia was out of his league. That she was too good for him. Too pretty. Too smart. He didn’t deserve her. Blah, blah, blah. He had enough self-esteem issues as it was. But this was Jackson and he was an asshole, so, of course, he’d want to add to the pile.

Jackson shrugged then lifted his elbow to fix Stiles’ posture. “Because I just think you should be with Derek.”

“What?!”

“You and Derek. You should be together.”

Stiles wasn’t sure if he was hearing this correctly. “You want me and Derek to be together?”

Jackson nodded and twirled him around.

“Are you high?” Stiles had to ask.

“No, kid. I’m not high.”

“Did you forget you hate me?”

“Nope. Definitely still hate you.”

Jackson, who constantly cock-blocked him and Derek when they were together. Who hated having to share Derek’s attention with him, stealing it from Stiles whenever he could. And who’d said multiple times that he couldn’t wait for the day that Stiles was permanently out of their lives shipped him and Derek? He must be lying about not being high. He was on some strong stuff.

“Why do you want me with Derek, then?” Stiles asked. His brain would never comprehend this.

“Because,” Jackson dipped him like a modern day Fred Astaire, “It’d be nice to see my best friend let himself be happy for once.”

That was kind of sweet. He didn’t think Jackson cared about anyone other than himself.

“FYI, you are not his best friend.”

“Yes, I am! I’ve known him way longer than you!” Jackson dropped him on his ass and stepped over his body.

*

The door to Derek’s loft was left slightly ajar, and Stiles took that as an invitation to let himself in. It was eerily quiet inside, but the heels of his shoes resounded against the wooden floor, loud enough to notify Derek, wherever he was, that someone else was there. He’d never dreamed of seeing Derek’s loft looking so disorganized. Alcohol bottles littered the kitchen counters. Someone’s grandmother could make a killing at the recycling center trading these in for five-cents each.

Stiles had made up his mind rather quickly about stopping by Derek’s after the gala. Speaking to Derek wasn’t likely to accomplish much, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation he had with Jackson and knew it would nag at him until the end of days if he didn’t do something about it. What did he have to lose? There was no salvaging this already terrible night.

The Pier1 Imports Anger Management program seemed to still be in effect. Overturned furniture was strewn everywhere. Wood chips and splinters crunched under his feet as he walked by an end table with a missing leg. Stiles righted a chair that had been knocked down and continued into the other room to meet The Hulk himself.

Derek was sitting in the carnage that had once been considered the den. It was admirable how he’d managed to flip over the whole sofa set. Loveseat and everything. Most of the damage seemed fresh and Stiles hoped Derek wasn’t still revved up in Terminator-mode. He seemed to be chill and hanging loose now as he sat on the coffee table sipping from a glass in his hand. Stiles’ safety was assured. Brooding Derek posed no threat to anyone but himself.

“Thought you said if you left you were never coming back?” Derek’s voice sounded hoarse like he was about to lose it. His frown got deeper and deeper as Stiles entered the room. “What are you doing here, Stiles?”

“I decided to take you up on your offer.”

Derek’s eyebrows drew together and he cocked his head to the side.

“You asked me to name a price tonight, so I will. I’m here to talk negotiations.”

He walked over to one of the tipped over couches and propped it back up so he could take a seat then crossed his legs and folded his hands in his lap in a very business-like manner. He wasn’t positive Derek would take the bait, but then Derek got up too, hauling up an armchair. Stiles watched as Derek guzzle down his drink then watched him pour himself another one.

“What do you have in mind,” Derek asked.

He got distracted examining Derek with fascination. He appeared gaunt and sickly and was so drunk his eyes didn’t give the impression that they were looking in the same direction.

“Stiles?”

“Just giving you a chance to pull out your checkbook,” he remarked.

Derek’s expression hardened, his tone clipped as he asked again, “What do you want?”

“This deal. Our deal," Stiles said. "I want you to explain it to me.”

Confusion—or maybe acid reflux—emerged on Derek’s face and Stiles didn’t understand why. It was a simple request. Too simple in fact. He wasn’t leaving until he got a solid response.

“My brains practically exploded trying to figure it out.” He scooted forward in his seat, confronting Derek head on. “And after all the shit you’ve put me through: the drinking, the mood swings, my trying to help you only to get it thrown back in my face as nothing but a transaction. You’ve—”

Emotions that he’d shoved down for the past few months came out, cracking his voice. “You’ve broken my heart twice now. Did you know that?” He fiddled with his fingers and gave a mirthless laugh. “And still I came here. I deserve an explanation.”

“Owe you something?” Derek threw his head back and laughed. “You think I owe you something, Stiles? That paying your tuition and taking care of your father’s medical bills means I owe an explanation? No one forced you to take this deal. No one made you accept my money. You had the freedom to end it whenever you liked. I don’t owe you shit.”

“Look, I understand that you’ve been burned by people in the past, but it’s not fair to put that on me! Do you really think the money’s all I cared about? That it’s the reason I’m here right now? Do you think Peter cares about your money? What about Malia? Kira? Hell, even Jackson!”

“This is childish.” Derek rose from his chair and walked to the kitchen. “I think we’re done.”

“No, what’s childish is you dropping all this money on me for years without giving me any reasons as to why.” Stiles stomped after him. “What’s the job here, Derek? Why pay me for something I’d obviously give you for free? All the raises and the gifts and that ridiculous allowance that I absolutely don’t need! It’s not okay with me! And you’re sick, Derek. You are so sick and all I’ve wanted to do was be there for you like you’ve always been there for me! I didn’t sign up for these ridiculous mind games!”

He was panting by the end of his speech and stopped to catch his breath, wetting his lips and drawing much-needed air into his lungs. “I know you care about me, Derek,” he pressed on. “You have to in order for this to make sense. But if you really don’t want to be with me, you don’t need to use the money to push me away. If you want me out of your life, just open your mouth and say so!”

He waited for Derek to shout at him to leave. For him to puff up with the same impudence as before and toss Stiles to the curb. Heck, for even his body language to hint that he wanted Stiles gone. But nothing. There was nothing.

How was it possible to be in a relationship with someone for so long and still have all these mixed signals? Why was Derek so hard to read? He didn’t understand Derek’s language and probably never would, but honestly, what other ways were there for Derek to communicate?

“Oh!” His heart slammed to a stop in his chest. “You’ve told me already, haven’t you? That you love me?”

Derek might not talk but money did. From the wad of cash Derek had slapped in his hand that night they first met to the astronomical bank balance currently sitting in his checking account, Derek’s money had always spoken volumes to him.

“Oh, my god, you more than love me, you idiot,” Stiles groaned, slapping a palm over his face.

He was reassessing just about everything he knew, trying to figure out how to handle this. It baffled him that Derek still hadn’t spoken, but more importantly, that he hadn’t denied a thing. Knowing that he had a precise value to Derek certainly gave him a newfound perception of the term self-worth.

“I want to hear the words,” Stiles blurted out, so much hope in his belly, he thought it might burst. “Out loud. I want to hear you say them. All the money you’ve stuffed down my throat has never let me say them before, but you can. So just do it. Please. Just say it and I promise you, I’ll say it right back.”

Derek looked small and skittish as he stepped back and looked everywhere but at Stiles. Like an animal being backed into a corner.

“I’m not here to hurt you, Derek.” He reached out and touched his arm. “I’m not here to take advantage of you like everyone else. I’m here for just this one thing.”

“Like I care about being hurt,” Derek mumbled.

“Good. Then you should have no problem telling me that you love me.”

Derek remained stoic.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Jesus Christ, lie to me if you have to!”

“Why should I!”

“Because I already know that you love me! Duh!”

Derek’s lips pressed together and he shook his head. “You should go. I’ve got better things to do right now.”

“Drowning yourself in an entire bottle of scotch isn’t ‘better things’ Derek.” Stiles blocked him off before he could maneuver around him. “I’m not letting you leave. Not when we’re this close.”

Derek still didn’t speak.

“C’mon, dude. I’m not gonna ask you again.” He felt his patient smile slipping. “Why are you sabotaging this? Why are you making this so much harder than it needs to be?”

“Because that’s what I do, Stiles!” Derek shoved past him, clenching his fist. “What more do you want from me? Can’t you see I’ve tried! I’ve tried to give you as much as I can. Don’t you think I’d give you anything you asked me for if I could?”

Stiles was so lost. He didn’t understand how he was going from a tiny bit of hope to dashed dreams.

“I’m empty, Stiles. And I’m sorry if that’s what you want I can’t give it to you. Money is all I have! I thought if you gave me time that maybe…but you never stopped. You kept pushing! You kept wanting more! Why do you even want to be with me so bad? All I’ve managed to do is mess up and hurt you and I can’t do that again! There’s nothing good for you here. I’m sorry but I can’t give you something I know I don’t have.”

With that, Derek turned and walked away, giving Stiles no chance for input. Of course, it made him sad that Derek didn’t see all the wonderful things about himself that Stiles did. That he didn’t think he could love and be loved. But Stiles knew better. He wasn’t accepting that bullshit. He saw Derek’s potential and knew they deserved to be happy. If only Derek would fight for it.

“No, but you do have lots and lots of money, Derek,” Stiles called and followed Derek back out into the den. “And if my bank account says anything…you love me…a lot!” He grinned at Derek’s pained groan. “And I’m not going to be the one to say it first. If you want to hear it, you know what it’ll cost you.”

*

Stiles had one goal when entered his apartment later that night, and that goal was to get to his bed as fast as possible. He needed his pillow. His pillow made everything better. It had magical healing properties. Also, super powers. His pillow was a freaking Avenger.

As soon as the front door shut behind him, Stiles was already pulling off his tux and throwing clothing items all over the floor. He kicked off his pinching dress shoes, sending them soaring in opposite directions without a care. Then yanked off his constricting bowtie, balling it up in his hand and tossing it over his shoulder. His suit jacket, vest, and crisp button-up shirt went flying next, and he was already half-way through conquering his tight dress pants when he heard a sniffle come from the couch and realized he wasn’t alone.

“Lydia?”

She was on his couch crying her eyes out and surrounding herself with wadded up tissues. “Scott let me in,” she hiccupped and dabbed at the mascara smears under her eyes. “I’m sorry, I don’t usually let people see me cry.”

“No, it’s cool,” Stiles said, pulling his pants up from where they hung just above his knees. Lydia looked devastated and it didn’t seem like an appropriate time to have a serious conversation in his Poké Ball underwear. “Um…so…what’s up?”

“I wanted to apologize to you,” Lydia said. “For freaking out on you earlier and calling you names.”

“What, why?” Stiles walked over to her and took her hand. “Lydia, if anything, I’m the one that should be spending an eternity apologizing to you. I should’ve been honest and come clean about Derek the first time I tried to end things.”

Lydia shook her head and more tears poured down her face. She bit her lip hard to keep it from wobbling then took a deep breath and confessed, “I’m in love with my boss.”

Shit. Lydia was in love with…with Derek?! But she wasn’t even close to his type! And that would be the worst thing ever. Ugh, fuck this fucking night! Stiles couldn’t tolerate this. He couldn’t have other people plotting on his man.

“Jackson,” Lydia clarified. “I’m in love with Mr. Whittemore.”

Well, that was a sigh of relief. Stiles hadn’t really felt up to challenging Lydia to a duel at dawn for Derek’s hand.

“Everyone wants to know how I got promoted so fast. Well, that’s it. I was sleeping with my boss for over a year, and I thought we were getting serious, but then he dumped me! So, I wanted to get back at him by seeing someone else. You in particular.”

Flabbergasted, Stiles waited for Lydia to blow her nose before asking, “But why me?”

“At the club…” Lydia revealed. “I don’t know if you realized but Jackson despises you.”

“Yeah…yeah, he does…” Stiles said, his brain putting pieces together.

So, their entire relationship was based on lies. Lydia wasn’t in love with him. She probably didn’t even find him sexually attractive. He’d been held hostage and trapped in a relationship with a girl he’d genuinely thought was insane for months, only to find out that she was just using him to get back at someone else. He was insulted that it wasn’t his alluring countenance and inescapable charm that had driven Lydia to madness, but her thirst for revenge and devious planning.

Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t believe he’d been so oblivious. All those boring events Lydia had brought him to, parading him around and bragging about him nonstop while Jackson glowered at them from his seat. And then there was the fact that Jackson was always interrupting their time together, pulling Lydia away to discuss work or inviting himself to their table and messing up the seating arrangements. Stiles had never minded because he knew how serious Lydia took her career and didn’t want to mess that up, but never did he think that he’d be some pawn in her sick twisted game!

“Oh, you bitch!” Stiles yelled.

Lydia startled, clearly affronted. “I said I was sorry.”

How could you! How could you rob me of this golden, once in a lifetime opportunity! I could’ve ruined him for you!”

Stiles shook his fist at the ceiling, ruing this day. The chance to finally defeat Jackson Whittemore had slipped right through his fingers. He wasn’t sure he’d survive Lydia’s betrayal. The pain was too vast!

“Why didn’t you tell me!” Stiles groaned, pacing back and forth, overcome with sorrow. “We could’ve been shoving this in his face so hard, he’d explode from jealousy! I could’ve had him on his knees begging for you to take him back! You want commitment? Well, you would’ve been married by now if only you’d just told me!”

The word ‘marriage’ sparked a thought in Stiles’ brain, and he was down on one knee in front of Lydia with lightning speed. “How mad do you think he’d be if I proposed?” Stiles asked. “I could get a ring by tomorrow morning, schedule a photoshoot by tomorrow afternoon, and have an engagement announcement in the New York Times by the end of the week. C’mon. What do you say?”

Lydia grinned despite the tears but shook her head, squeezing his hand. “Really, Stiles. It’s fine. I’ve already come to terms with how immature I was being by bringing you into it. Nothing’s changed. He doesn’t want me.”

“Hey, everyone’s been telling me how lucky I am to be dating you since we started going out.” Stiles wiped at the stains on her cheeks. “And if he can’t get his head out his ass and see how special you are, then maybe we could stage a tiny make-out session in front of him to spike his blood pressure?”

Unfortunately, Lydia axed that scheme too. However, Stiles had more in his arsenal that she couldn’t refuse. He obviously didn’t know all the ins and outs of her and Jackson’s relationship but he empathized with her pain, knowing it too well himself.

“You deserve better,” Stiles said definitively as he settled next to her on the couch.

Lydia shrugged, staring down into her lap. “I don’t know if I want better.”

“Yes, you do,” Stiles told her. “You shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than what you deserve. Not when it comes to your own happiness.”

It was a notion that would take time to sink in, but eventually, Lydia would realize that she couldn’t put her life on hold for Jackson. Sure, it was possible that Jackson could change and things would be different but there was no guarantee. She didn’t have the power to make Jackson not be an asshole. People didn’t change unless they were ready to change themselves. And Stiles wouldn’t stand by and watch Lydia waste her life away.

He wrapped his arms around her and let her cry on his shoulder, consoling her through the more violent sobs until she seemed to calm down. “So…” Stiles said after a while, “How about a pregnancy scare? We get a test with a fake positive. Wave it around and let Jackson think that there’ll be a Mini-Stiles-and-Lydia gene combo coming to the world in nine months until he’s so scared, he shits his pants.”

“No, Stiles.” Lydia chuckled.

Stiles patted her back on the back and shushed her before she could object to anything else. They’d talk more about their future kids later. Jackson Whittemore could burn in hell.

*

“What are you gonna do about your fish tank?”

Stiles looked up from where he was haphazardly packing another suitcase and sighed. It was moving day, and unsurprisingly, Stiles had put everything off until the very last minute. His dad had flown in from California to help and they were going to rent a truck and road trip it across the country. But having a true adult there to boss him around and tell him what to do had really speeded things along and Stiles was just about done; his room mostly empty.

He was sure he'd hit everything on his to-do list, but it looked like he’d forgotten about his own kids. It must’ve been the pain of separating from them that had caused him to overlook such a vital detail. He wanted nothing more than to stay with them and be their father, but it was June 21st, and Stiles couldn’t break the promise he’d made to himself.

Today was the day he’d pack all his things and leave the whirlwind of his relationship with Derek in his past. He’d given Derek all the time in the world to confess his feelings, but now he had to go. And nothing could stop that. Not even his precious little fishies.

“I was thinking about donating them to an aquarium,” Stiles said, failing miserably at properly folding yet another t-shirt.

“No, don’t donate them!” Scott cried. “I’ll watch them for you in case you change your mind. No Cocoa Puffs this time, I swear.”

“Thanks, dude,” Stiles grinned, touched that Scott would do that for him. “But I’m not changing my mind.”

Glum, Scott went back to helping him pack. He’d refused to believe Stiles when Stiles had first told him he was moving, but with Stiles’ bags all packed, there was no denying the truth. As much as Stiles complained, he was going to miss living with Scott and Allison. But the two of them would remain in the apartment while Stiles took care of the rent, and Stiles promised he’d visit often.

Stuffing the final t-shirt from his dresser into his suitcase, Stiles was officially done packing. He sat on the suitcase to zip it closed, and even then, it was a struggle. Half-closed was good enough.

“Ugh! I should consider selling some stuff,” Stiles grumbled. “It’s not like it’ll all fit in my closet at home. Hey, you should totally sell all my furniture and turn this into an awesome man cave. With all this space, it would be epic!”

“What, no! I’m not selling your furniture! You might change your—”

“Scott,” Stiles said in a warning tone.

“Sorry.” Scott slumped.

Stiles looked around to check if he’d missed anything, but it looked like he was all good. Of course, there was more work to be done like renting the truck and loading the suitcases and boxes. And if there was anything Stiles hated more than packing, it was unpacking, so he had that to look forward to as well. Yeah, moving sucked.

“I thought you said this was a sublet.” Scott and Stiles both jump as the Sheriff’s voice suddenly came from the doorway. “If it is, why would you be talking about selling this guy’s stuff?”

“Uh…um…” Stiles stammered, panicked when he saw the look in his dad’s eyes.

It was the cop look. The one that said Stiles was totally busted and a jail sentence in the form of thorough punishment was about to occur. Except, Stiles wasn’t a kid anymore, so it wasn’t like his dad could actually ground him. Right?

“Er…this is all mine.” Confidence, confidence, confidence. “We put the other guy’s stuff in…storage?”

The Sheriff crossed his arms over his chest, eyes scrutinizing Stiles further. Blatantly lying to his father’s face had never worked for him in the past, so he didn’t know why expected it to change now.

“And just how did you pay for this?”

“He didn’t,” Scott interjected. Stiles could only pray Scott was better at lying to his dad than he was. “Um…we…erm… borrowed it?”

Okay, they were totally doomed.

“Some, we got secondhand off craigslist,” Scott tried. “And…the rest we got on credit…uh, layaway?”

All was lost once the word ‘credit’ left Scott’s mouth. His father abhorred credit. It was his greatest adversary. Stiles was lectured of its dangers constantly. His dad was never going to let this go.

“Jesus, Stiles! Just how much financial trouble are you in?”

“Uh…”

“Couldn’t you have gotten a futon like a normal college kid? None of this looks like it came from IKEA on a student’s dime!”

“Dad, Scott made a mistake,” Stiles said, stopping the shenanigans before things escalated further. “This is my stuff. All mine. I’m not in debt. I can afford it.”

“How! And don’t you dare say eBay! I never bought it then and I’m not buying it now!”

Stiles peeked over at Scott who looked scared for him, his eyes desperately telling Stiles not to give himself up. But Stiles needed to do this. Lying required too much upkeep and he wanted his father to know the truth.

“I have a sugar daddy,” Stiles said, scrunching his nose at the way that sounded. “Well, had. Past tense.”

The look on his dad’s face showed that he didn’t believe a word. Stiles would have to get more candid.

“He paid for everything. All of this,” Stiles gestured at the boxes that surrounded them. “He bought it for me. My tuition for school every year. The apartment. The watch. Your hospital bills. Everything.”

His dad still looked like he didn’t trust his word, so he turned to Scott whose earnest brown eyes immediately confirmed everything.

“Seriously? You’re serious? This isn’t some lie to cover up online gambling?”

Stiles shook his head.

“So what was this guy paying you for? If he was paying for this stuff, what did he expect in return?”

Stiles bit his lip, squirming, so incredibly uncomfortable. “I think you know…”

Despite the overt insinuation, it took his dad a while to get it, but when it finally dawned, his face and cheeks grew a vibrant red.

“Ew, Stiles!” He turned away from Stiles, shaking his head while pinching the bridge of his nose. “I can’t even look at you right now.”

“Dad.”

“No! I didn’t raise you like that! You know I didn’t!”

“I didn’t have the money, Dad, and I had to figure something out!”

“You think you figured something out!” his dad shouted. “How do you think you can do anything for yourself now that you’ve let someone else do everything for you!”

“I don’t think I can! Which is why I’m leaving.”

The Sheriff heaved, placing a hand on his hip and glaring at the walls of Stiles’ room like they’d personally offended him. “What else did he give you? This sugar daddy.” His tone was sour. “You said he paid your tuition. What else?”

“Point to it. He paid for it. He also gave me an allowance.”

The Sheriff snorted at that.

“Nine thousand dollars… a week.”

Both his dad and Scott’s jaws dropped to the ground at the same time. Good thing he didn’t mention his final wage increase. He didn’t plan on revealing that absurd sum to anyone ever. He was taking it to the grave.

“Just how much did you make off this guy?” his dad asked.

“I can’t tell you. I don’t exactly know.”

“How much do you have in your bank account right now?”

“A lot.”

“Give me a figure.”

“I can give you six.”

Slamming his eyes shut and shaking his head with immense disappointment, his dad left without another word. The adrenaline that had been keeping Stiles upright through the whole ordeal left him then, buckling his knees. He caught himself but just barely, blood rushing to his ears and tears burning the rims of his eyes. It was the worst feeling in the world.

“Stiles?”

“It’s not a panic attack, Scott,”’ Stiles said, but it was a near thing.

“Your dad will understand. He’ll come around.” Scott walked over and nudged his shoulder.

“Don’t!” He couldn’t deal with Scott’s eternal optimism right now. “I’m an awful person and a terrible human being and let’s not forget, a shit son.”

“You’re a great person. One of the best people I know,” Scott argued. “And you’re Dad knows you’re a great son.”

He let Scott put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, debating on going after his dad or giving him space and waiting for him to come back on his own. Begging for forgiveness was an option. He could throw himself down on the floor and plead his case until his dad heard him out. He always knew this is how his father would react.

When the Sheriff finally returned to the room, it was with a look of stern determination on his face. Stiles opened his mouth, wanting to say something, to explain himself and ask with genuine hope that his dad find it in his heart to understand. But his dad cut him off before he could.

“This guy. Who is he? I’d like to meet him.”

“Dad, no,” Stiles protested. “I know what you’re thinking and he doesn’t need the money and you and Melissa do. He won’t take it.”

“He’s been doing so much for my son. I think I deserve at least an introduction.”

Stiles winced at the sneer. “I’ll go make a call. See if he’s in town.”

He desperately prayed Derek wasn’t.

“Good,” his dad nodded. “And Stiles, if you want to start over. If you want to do things right. Then you give this guy back everything he ever gave you.”

*

Stiles was pretty sure that he was going to be disowned by the end of this. When he’d called Erica to ask if Derek was available, he’d had both his fingers and toes crossed that she’d say no. But of course, Derek was in town, and of course, he would clear his afternoon schedule to meet with Stiles’ dad. Circumstances were made worse when Derek sent Isaac over to collect them. His dad took one look at the lavish town car and his face turned to stone. Honestly, couldn’t Derek have just let him hitch a smelly cab?

They stopped at the bank so Stiles could sort out his finances. His father made him get a cashier’s check to give to Derek. He had no idea people still used checks in this day and age, but he wasn’t about to fight his dad on anything else today. The check was meant to be symbolic. A testament that he was ready to stand on his own two feet.

“Hale & Whittemore?” the Sheriff said as they entered the building and walked into the elevators. Stiles’ hands trembled when he pressed the button to Derek’s floor. “I hear about these guys on the news. Is he a consultant for the firm?”

“Nah,” Stile murmured under his breath, focusing on the floor numbers as they ascended. “He runs it.”

Erica was at her desk painting her nails when the elevator doors opened and she waved them in, barely looking up. Stiles led them down the hall, taking a deep breath as his hand turned the knob to Derek’s office. Accepting his fate, he pushed the door open with a gusto and walked inside, his dad hot on his heels.

“Hey, Ash! Hey boy!” Stiles grinned down at a super-excited Ash.

Ash jumped on him the second they entered the room, weaving in and out of Stiles’ legs and making it difficult for him to walk. Derek whistled for him to stop but Ash ignored him and whimpered sharply until Stiles leaned down and pet him. Then he reluctantly followed the command after Derek gave him a stern look.

His dad seemed taken aback upon first laying eyes on Derek. Stiles hadn’t mentioned anything about Derek’s appearance to him, and being the hyper-paranoid police officer that he was, his father probably assumed that a sugar daddy was an old geriatric pimp three-times Stiles’ age.

It was surreal having his two “daddies” meeting face to face. And ewwwwwww, Stiles was never allowed to utter such a horrifying statement like that ever again.

“Nice to meet you, Sheriff Stilinski.” Derek stood from behind his desk and came around, cordially holding out his hand. “I’m Derek Hale. Was there something I could do for you today?”

The Sheriff studied Derek’s hand but didn’t shake it, arms remaining firmly at his sides. “Stiles was just telling me about how you’ve been helping him out lately.” He forced a saccharine smile. “I believe the term he used was ‘sugar daddy’. And while that’s very nice of you, Stiles won’t be needing your services anymore.”

It was kind of like being in the principal’s office. His dad giving him pointed looks and ushering him to walk forward and apologize for his actions. He felt small like he was ten years old again. With the fresh check still quacking between his fingers, Stiles advanced and handed it over to Derek, petrified.

“That’s as much as I can give you right now,” Stiles told him. “I’ll wire the rest in a few days when I figure something out. And I already talked to Scott, so you can have whatever you want from the apartment. All my clothes and stuff. I won’t need them. I’m moving back home.”

Derek’s eyebrows knitted together and he stared at Stiles’ handwriting on the check. A muscle ticked in his jaw when he saw Stiles taking off his watch.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” Stiles said earnestly, pressing the watch into Derek’s palm and giving his hand a squeeze. “I’ll make sure to pay it all back. I promise I’ll pay it all—”

He didn’t get to finish before his dad was yanking him back to his side. Stiles deflated, hanging his head and letting his eyes fall to the ground. Even though it was just a piece of jewelry, it was hard for him to part with it. He wore it all the time and felt naked without it on his wrist.

“And I’ll also be returning the money for the bills you took care of,” the Sheriff said, shoving another check into Derek’s hands. “It’s a generous gesture but I’m not the one with the sugar daddy.”

Stiles cringed, shrinking in on himself, having been cut deep by that particular jab. He knew where his dad was coming from. Most people’s kids didn’t go out and get sugar daddies. They worked hard and got odd jobs and picked themselves up by the bootstraps. Stiles hadn’t worked for anything he received. He possessed no traits his father could be proud of. It made sense that his dad would be so ashamed.

Although, Stiles probably should’ve hidden his hurt better because the next thing he heard was the loud sound of ripping paper echoing throughout the room.

“Now just who the hell do you think you are!” the Sheriff shouted, jabbing a finger into Derek’s chest, knocking him back with the force.

“Derek—” Stiles reprimanded, seeking to mediate the situation and calm everyone down but it was too late.

“Easy,” Derek said. “I didn’t rip your check, Sheriff Stilinski. I ripped up Stiles’ check. I understand why you’d like to return this money to me, even though I was happy to offer it and honestly don’t need it, but I won’t accept anything from Stiles.”

“My son wants to pay you back! He knows he didn’t earn that money!”

“Not in the way you would’ve liked. But he does deserve it.”

“Who are you to tell me what my son does and doesn’t deserve?” the Sheriff’s face twisted in a look of disgust. “He told me what you were making him do. If it were up to me, you’d be rotting in a jail cell right now.”

“Yeah?” Derek’s eyes grew dark and he towered over him, snarling dangerously. “Well, he certainly deserves a hell of a lot more respect than you just gave him!”

Stiles should intervene before this got physical. His dad had a bad heart.

“You should be very proud of the man you raised. The kind of person he is. The things he does for the people he cares about. I know he’s done it for you too.”

The Sheriff looked ready to argue but didn’t get a chance before Derek was shutting him down.

“You really think Stiles needed me?” Derek questioned. “That he needed a Sugar Daddy? If you do, then you don’t know crap about your son.”

Stiles blushed deeply, astounded by how fiercely Derek was defending him.

“I’m indebted to him for all that he’s done for me. Staying with me when most people wouldn’t. Trying to help me battle my alcoholism when I wasn’t ready to admit that I have a problem. He’s a better man than the both of us, and he would’ve been fine on his own. So don’t come into my office and put him down in front of me. It won’t end well for you, I promise.”

Stiles glanced at his father who was eyeing Derek with mistrust. His tempered seemed to have settled, though.

Derek fiddled with the check in his hand, sighing and placing it down on his desk. “I’ll make a deal with you, Sheriff Stilinski. If you insist that I accept this check, I will, but only if I have a chance to speak with Stiles alone. I have some things I need to say and I can’t afford to lose him.”

The Sheriff peered over at Stiles, eyes flitting between him and Derek.

Stiles cleared his throat and said, “Dad, could you give us a minute?”

His dad stayed put, setting a hand on his hip and pinning Stiles with a disapproving frown.

“Please.” Stiles tried again, communicating heavily with his eyes.

“You’re kidding me! This guy!”

“Please!”

His dad blew out his cheeks, grumbling a bunch of stuff under his breath then rolling his eyes. “I don’t like this,” he said as if he hadn’t already made that abundantly clear. “Not at all.”

Stiles waited, nervously chewing on his cuticles.

“But you’re right.” The Sheriff turned to Derek first. “Stiles is old enough to make his own decisions, and I’m very proud of my son. He deserves the best so you better treat him right.”

He spoke to Stiles next, “I wouldn’t bring your new boyfriend to Beacon Hills if I were you, Stiles. Unless you don’t mind seeing him handcuffed in the back of the cruiser.”

“Kinky.” A corner of Stiles’ mouth quirked.

“I find a new gray hair every day because of you.”

“Love you too, Daddio.”

The Sheriff chuckled and clapped a hand on Stiles’ back. He sent Derek one last dirty look, then sighed, looking heavenward, before going out into the hall.

Stiles cheered the second the door closed, giving Derek a long round of applause. “Well, way to make a great first impression on my dad!”

Derek scowled, muttering, “He didn’t make too great a first impression on me either.”

“But did you have to be a complete asswipe from the start? All you needed to do was accept the man’s check and make a small attempt at being polite!”

Shrugging, Derek held out Stiles’ watch, observing closely as Stiles fastened it back onto his wrist. “Just when did you plan on telling me you were moving back to California?”

“I wasn’t planning on telling you,” Stiles said truthfully. “I was just going to leave and see how you dealt with it.”

“Stiles, you cannot flee New York City because of me.”

“But I’m all packed!” Stiles whined. “It was a lot of work!”

“That’s fine.” Derek captured his waist and reeled him, propping them up against the edge of his desk. “I’ll call some people to come and move all your things over to the loft.”

“Can you get them to unpack it for me too?” Stiles asked, draping his arms around Derek’s neck.

“Nope, you’re doing it,” Derek said, a playful glint in his eye.

The smile on his face must’ve been humungous to be hurting his cheeks like this, but Stiles didn’t really mind. He was enjoying being in Derek’s arms again after such a lengthy period of time. And yeah, he should definitely stop and really consider the idea of moving in with Derek later before making a final decision, but it was pretty much a guarantee he’d say yes. He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more, actually.

“Dude, what is your dog even doing?”

Ash, who had dashed to one of the far corners of the room when Derek and his dad started arguing, was back now and doing weird circus dog acrobatics once again. But instead of frantic cartwheels and headstands, Ash was doing all these complicated looking stretches and poses.

“Dog yoga,” Derek told him. “I think Laura might’ve rubbed off on him. He’s actually pretty good.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s crane,” Stiles gasped as he watched Ash dragging himself across the floor. “Downward facing dog.” He grimaced when Ash started grooming himself mid-stretch. “No, this is slowly becoming karma sutra.”

He cackled when Ash tried and failed to do a crow pose, falling onto his face and rolling into a somersault. He turned back to Derek to see if he’d also witnessed the glorious cuteness when Derek’s mouth was suddenly crashing down onto his.

God, he’d missed this. It was unbelievable how much. He pressed closer, opening his mouth and shuddered, lost at the first touch of Derek’s tongue. When Derek eventually pulled away, Stiles was forced to grip onto him, fisting his hands in Derek’s shirt as he swayed, unstable on his feet.

Dropping his head down into the crook of Stiles’ neck, Derek inhaled his scent then said, “It scares me how much I need you.”

Stiles raked his fingers through Derek’s hair, humming, “I need you, too.”

A flash of skepticism crossed Derek’s face when he lifted his head, but it quickly disappeared when he saw how forthright Stiles was being. He nodded, breaking out into a soft smile and leaned in, placing a slow, torturous kiss on Stiles’ lips.

Then another one.

And another one.

And then…

“I love you, Stiles.” Derek ghosted against his lips. “I love you so much. You have no idea how much.”

“I think I do.” Stiles beamed, his mind going back to the money in his bank account.

“No, you really don’t,” Derek said seriously, placing a finger under Stiles’ chin and tilting it up. “I’m sorry I couldn’t say it before. Deep down, I knew you never cared about the money.”

Stiles’ throat constricted. “Then why…”

“I’m used to people only being with me for their own personal gain and leaving the second I don’t give them something they want. And I wanted to keep you, Stiles. Badly. But I couldn’t be naive either. Our relationship had always involved the money, and I wasn’t sure just me would be enough.”

“So you compensated for that by giving me a small fortune?”

Derek’s ears pinked, uneasy as he admitted, “Yes, I’m aware I overcompensate with you and my family. I don’t really know what to do to keep you happy and it’s important to me that you’re taken care of. But I’ve got a lot of baggage and I’m sure you could find someone better, so if you have doubts—”

Stiles pinched him. “Hey, I’m not leaving you.”

“My drinking…” Derek’s smile faded and he shook his head. “I don’t know how to be anyone else.”

“Are you going to get help?”

Derek nodded. “Dr. Morell’s helped me in the past and I think she can do it again. I’ll be checking myself into a rehab. Peter’s paying an obscene amount of money to keep everything discrete, but I’m stepping down here.”

For a serious workaholic, Derek didn’t seem too distraught about having to resign. Only sounding a little unsure and afraid for the future. This wasn’t going to be easy. Derek was going to have to really dedicate himself, but Stiles had faith that he could do it, and that Derek would realize he was much better off without the drinking.

“I’ve never been a good fit for the position and it’s soul-sucking work. Jackson doesn’t have a soul, though, so he’s taking over and I trust him.” Derek smirked slyly. “I’m just not going to tell him I rimmed you once, right here on this desk.”

Looks like Stiles was getting vengeance for Lydia after all.

Derek shifted from foot to foot, anxious, regarding Stiles steadily. “I have no idea how to do any of this,” he divulged. “I’m bound to fuck up again but I’m done hurting you, so no more deals.”

“Well…”

“Well, what?” Derek stiffened, his face going blank.

Stiles laced their fingers together, soothing Derek’s nerves. “We’re gonna be in a relationship now which is kind of like a deal. There’s a lot of compromises and things to work out and I have some grievances.”

“Grievances?” Derek’s forehead puckered.

“Yes, would you like to hear them?” He didn’t actually wait for Derek to respond before clearing his throat and promptly listing his demands, “If we’re going to be together you can’t put money in my account anymore. And if I ever want to foot the bill or something I can.”

Not even a quarter of the way into his list and Derek was already grouching and grinding his teeth.

“And presents. I’m giving you lots of presents. A whole room full of presents. And you hate questions, well guess what buddy, you’re filling out a questionnaire. And when things happen to you like birthdays and winning awards, you tell me you fucking asshole! And—”

“Is there an end to this list?”

“And you have to let me take you out for something frozen to rectify the gelato incident. And if I want to call you a pet name I can. And you can never use the word transaction to my face ever again. I’m serious Derek. You will die!”

It was a threat Derek should really be taking seriously. Stiles wasn’t putting up with that shit anymore. There was no going back, only moving forwards.

“You’ll also have to go out there and make nice with your future father-in-law,” Stiles said. “And don’t even think about pushing me away again. Especially not during your recovery. I’m always here for you, Derek.”

Derek nodded, ducking his head.

“And in exchange for following all my terms…”

“In exchange?”

“You still get to be married to me!”

Derek blanched. “When the hell did we get married?”

Stiles gave no further comments and just kissed him, beyond excited and finding it hard to hold himself back. There were a million and one emotions running through him right now. Happiness. Nerves. Fear. If he was being honest, he was really scared. But they’d figure it out, he was sure.

Derek pulled away again and cocked his head, staring at Stiles expectantly. He huffed when Stiles just blinked obliviously at him and said, “You’re really gonna make me ask for it?”

Yes. Yes, he was.

“I fucking love you, Derek!” Stiles shouted, grabbing Derek by the throat and knocking them both down to the floor.

“OW!”

“I love you! I love you so much I can’t stand it!”

Ash raced over, barking for Stiles to stop strangling Derek, and Stiles laughed, releasing him. Derek coughed, sucking in air and pushing Ash’s head away when he sniffed and licked at Derek’s face protectively.

“So, do we have a deal?” Stiles asked, leaning his forehead against Derek’s.

“Yeah,” Derek nodded and kissed him breathless. “We have a deal.”

Chapter Text

Three Years Later…

Today, 11: 35am
Hello…
Delivered

DUDE!

ARE U EVEN ALIVE?!!
Delivered

 

“He hasn’t been answering any of my texts or calls!” Stiles whined. “The last time I heard from him was five days ago. He’s not allowed to do that according to our deal. If we’re going to be a trillion miles away from each other, we talk every day.”

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a trillion miles, but to Stiles, it might as well be. In actuality, it was more like three thousand nine hundred and thirty-four miles, because, of course, Stiles had done the math. With an ocean between them, Zurich and New York were definitely a while away from each other, but today was one of those days where it felt like light years.

“Did you two get into a fight?” Danny asked even though Stiles could detect his eye roll over the phone.

“No!” Stiles frowned. “At least, I don’t think so.”

It could be said that they’d grown a lot as people over the years, but they were still them. They still bickered endlessly and that would never change. But they’d gotten pretty good at patching disagreements up before they festered. Now that Stiles was residing in a foreign country, they’d been strict about maintaining good communication, calling and skyping each other multiple times a day. But Stiles still hadn’t seen Derek in months, and goddammit, long-distance relationships fucking sucked!

“Then I don’t see what you’re so worried about, Stiles.” Danny sighed. “I mean, it’s not like the two of you are ever going break up, right?”

“Of course not.” Stiles laughed at the thought. “We’re married.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, we are!”

It was a near thing. He and Derek had already made a deal that Derek would propose to Stiles on the very day that Stiles finished with grad school. Derek also promised that he wouldn’t skip out on the graduation ceremony this time.

“That’s not what Derek told me when I talked to him yesterday,” Danny mentioned smugly.

“…And why exactly are you calling my boyfriend from jail…?”

“There’s nothing to do in here and Derek’s a great listener!”

Danny’s destructive spiral had landed him in a bat of legal trouble. And while he had the best team of attorneys in the country, the judge refused to give him any special treatment for his celebrity status. He’d been sentenced to ninety days in prison and five hundred hours of community service for misdemeanor theft and a DUI. Stiles had hoped this would be the wake-up call Danny needed to get his act together. But Danny only saw this as an opportunity to change stylist and promote a new bad boy image.

“What the actual fuck! That is so unfair!

“Now I see why he told me not to tell you,” Danny noted. “He says you’re very possessive over him.”

“So he calls you! He calls Scott! He calls my Dad! But doesn’t have time to answer a single text from me? Oh, I am going to kill that son of a bitch!”

“What if he like, left you for me,” Danny sniggered. “I wouldn’t blame him. It’s tough staying faithful in a long-distance relationship, and I’m irresistible.”

Stiles hung up then without saying goodbye, wondering why he’d called Danny in the first place. Normal friend would lend an ear and try and console the other person’s worries by telling them everything was going to be fine, but not Danny. He’d make the worst psychologist. All that conversation had done was leave Stiles even more infuriated.

And to think Stiles’ mind had jumped to the worst conclusion, fearing that Derek might’ve relapsed or something. Of course, he felt guilty for thinking that way, especially after Derek had worked so hard to earn his trust. But Derek’s recovery process hadn’t been perfect. He’d had trouble staying sober after his first two stays in rehab, but on the last round, he’d gotten it right. Two years of sobriety and Stiles was incredibly proud of him but Derek wasn’t cured. Not by any means. This was something he’d have to remain vigilant of for the rest of his life.

It was a shame that, that life would have to be cut short because Stiles was going to castrate him. He knew better than anyone how preoccupied Derek got when it came to work. In fact, his workaholic tendencies had grown ten times worse since leaving Hale & Whittemore to devote himself full-time to humanitarian relief with the Talia Hale Foundation and Argent Cross. But it seemed like Derek had still managed to speak to everyone but Stiles that week.

And it was fine if Derek didn’t need to hear from him all the time. It wasn’t like they were inseparable. But Stiles was still getting used to the different time zones, and hectic work schedules, and the constant phone tag. Just because they weren’t geographically close anymore didn’t mean their relationship had to lack its usual intimacy. Stiles already hated the fact that they didn’t get to see each other every day. He hated the idea of them not speaking every day too.

What was weirder was that Derek had been talking to Stiles’ dad an awful lot. The two of them were like old girlfriends. Gone were the days of Stiles always being caught in the middle of their arguments and having to listen to his dad lecture him on his great disappointment in Stiles’ choice of life partner. Now, they were buddy-buddy and his dad was calling Derek “son” and it was so gross, and Stiles was so not okay with it.

Then there was Scott, who had pledged to die hating Derek, constantly throwing jabs at him and sparking tempers whenever they were in the same room. All of a sudden they were friends too, going to sports games together and doing brunch on Saturdays. This all happened as soon as Stiles left the States, which hinted that Stiles was the problem in the first place, and now that he wasn’t around, there was everlasting peace.

Derek had been a little too encouraging about Stiles going abroad for his studies. Which was why Stiles suspected that Derek was probably in a hot tub eating chocolate covered strawberries and drinking champagne with some floozy. Stiles had watched enough True Crime to know how these things went.

It felt good to finally be doing something with his degree. To know exactly what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Stiles wanted to wake up and help people. Traveling with Derek for his work and witnessing so many people suffering had inspired him to combine his bioengineering background with humanitarian aims. He’d met Dr. Alan Deaton on a mission last summer and had been invited to spend twelve months in Switzerland assisting him on a large project he was undertaking. Stiles couldn’t say no to the opportunity.

The transition was rough at first, being in a new place and not knowing a soul. But he’d quickly made friends and was learning a ton from Dr. Deaton. And oddly, was very close with a few drag queens that performed at a nightclub him and his friends went to a lot. He also adored his roommate Heather. She was seriously the best. Except Stiles was on the outs with her at the moment since she’d abandoned him for the weekend to stay at her boyfriend’s.

It was when he was returning to his empty apartment after leaving the lab that his phone vibrated in his pocket, finally with a text from Derek. Stiles didn’t read it, in a foul mood, and simply replied:

 

Hey thanks for making me look like some crazy psychotic stalker

You’re an asshole.

Bye.
Read 9:30pm

 

He pulled out his keys to unlock the front door when he heard an iPhone ping coming from the other side. He froze, suspicious. Heather had texted him earlier to tell him that she’d left. Maybe she’d forgotten something. What if it was a thief or Peter! Stiles bet on everything that it was Peter. He still did his creepy magic tricks all the time but Stiles had grown immune to them and didn’t scare as easily. Stiles brushed it off and decided that he was probably hearing things due to caffeine and sleep deprivation.

Sticking the key into the keyhole and unlocking the door, Stiles stepped inside and screeched when he saw it was Derek standing in the middle of his living room frowning down unhappily at his phone.

“My love carebear!!” Stiles screamed and launched onto him. They’d have bruises later but right now Stiles didn’t care.

“AH! Boyd get him off of me!” Derek yelped. “Boyd, bodyguard!

Boyd chuckled and walked away, leaving Stiles to squeeze the life out of Derek as he closed the door to the apartment behind him. But Derek’s grumbling was all for show. As soon as they were alone, Derek had him down on his back and was between his legs in a flash, mouth hot against his. It was like no time had gone by at all.

“How fast do you think you can get your dick inside me?” Derek asked, sucking bruises along the skin of Stiles’ neck.

“I don’t know. Do you have a timer?”

Sliding his hands under the hem of Stiles’ shirt, Derek muffled against his collarbone, “On my phone.”

Stiles looked around for the phone, retrieving it from where it’d fallen on the rug, then proceeded to smack Derek with it.

“OW!” Derek barked. “OW! Would you stop! Stiles, what the hell!”

“That’s for ignoring me all week!” Stiles yelled, pushing Derek off him, trying to get up onto his feet.

Derek grabbed him by his wrists, collecting them in his strong hands and forcing Stiles to sit back down on his lap, planting a kiss on Stiles’ annoyed pout. “I’m sorry. I just wanted you to be surprised.”

“I’m pretty sure texting me back to let me know you’re okay wouldn’t have ruined the surprise.”

He relented when he took in Derek’s stupid grin, knowing Derek must’ve gone to great lengths to keep him from finding out. It explained why Heather had dashed out on him so abruptly. She’d probably gotten a heads up and knew that he and Derek would be having sex on every surface of the apartment and wanted to get out of there before she was scarred for life. Although, Stiles’ would’ve approached Derek showing up unannounced a lot more if Derek was already naked and in his bed with an apple stuffed in his mouth.

The weight of Derek being there crashed on him suddenly. He wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck and hugged him tightly, overwhelmed by the butterflies in his stomach.

“What took you so long to get here?”

He meant it in a general sense and knew Derek would understand. He’d been gone since August and it was nearing the middle of November. No doubt, Derek would have some lame ass excuse.

“I thought I’d give you time to adjust. See how things worked for you here,” Derek answered. “You never asked me to visit anyway.”

“Never asked you to—” He was going to wring the smirk off Derek’s face. Picking up Derek’s phone again and keying in the password, he scrolled through their most recent texts and began reading aloud:

“Hey. I miss you. Come visit.”

“Derek, get your ass over here and come see me now!”

“Fuck! I fucking miss you!”

“I really, really miss you!”

“Would you like me to go on?” There was no way Derek could dispute the obvious proof of his neglect. “What took you so long to get here?”

Derek swiped his fingers along Stiles’ forehead, shoving his hair back and away from his face. “Like I said. I was giving you your independence.”

Stiles blew out a puff of air, acknowledging that, yes, he was still a little too reliant on Derek in some regards. Derek had achieved so much in life, having a long established career with a great deal of recognition. Stiles’ career had only just begun, and he was eager to carve out his own successes too. He’d been focused and pushing himself to invent remarkable things. His relationship with Derek in the past hadn’t exactly been healthy, and a lot of effort had been put into changing that and bettering themselves. Derek had been nothing but supportive of Stiles’ desire to branch out on his own. But that didn’t mean that Stiles wanted to distance himself completely.

“I don’t need that much independence,” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Now make it up to me.”

He needed to be more careful what he wished for, because next thing he knew, Derek was forcing him into one of his stupid wrestling holds and cackling at all of Stiles’ failed attempts to escape. Eventually, Derek took mercy on him, releasing him to lick and smother kisses all over his face.

“Couch. Now.” Stiles ordered, hauling Derek up and stumbling backward towards that direction.

They’d argue more about this later. Right now, the desire to fuck Derek churned too deep. Stiles shoved him down onto the couch, scrambling into his lap, mouth diving back onto Derek’s lips. Derek’s arms came around his waist, bringing Stiles as close as possible before he started pulling and tugging at his clothes.

“You know maybe it’s not such a good idea to have sex the minute we see each other.” Stiles squirmed. “I’ve been reading this book by some expert on long-distance relationships and she says it’s important not to spend the entire time indoors having sex. We should do things like sight-seeing and dates.”

“Later,” Derek grumbled, nibbling Stiles’ ear.

“Well, maybe we can talk first at least. Catch up. I can talk about school and you can tell me about work.”

“Later!”

“Or we could cuddle and be cute! Watch a movie or something. Do some cooking.”

“Do you not understand the definition of later!” Derek scowled.

Stiles scowled right back. “Hey! I’m just telling you what I’ve read! Don’t tell me you flew all these miles for some booty call.”

Derek heaved, pushing Stiles off him and scooting over to the other end of the couch. “Fine. You want to talk, then let’s talk.” He ran his fingers through his hair, frustrated. “So…how ‘bout them Mets?”

Stiles blinked at him multiple times then busted out laughing. “Dude, I’m just fucking with you. Get back here!”

Testy, Derek yanked him over, grumbling against his mouth. They kissed for what seemed like ages. It’d been a while since Stiles got to make out with Derek’s stupid face. Their hips grew restless and clothed cocks rutted against each other as they moaned and panted.

“Off,” Stiles growled, motioning at Derek’s sweater.

It was impressive how fast Derek managed to wrangle it over his head and toss it onto the ground. He gripped the hem of Stiles’ t-shirt and tore that off in world record time too. Stiles dropped down on his knees and unzipped Derek’s jeans and lugged them down his legs. He was pleased to see Derek’s cock already impossibly hard, tip leaking and staining the fabric of his boxers.

Though technology had greatly advanced and he and Derek were able to use all sorts of toys during Skype sex to make it an extremely satisfying experience, Stiles had definitely missed the real thing. He missed the closeness of skin on skin. Missed getting the goosebumps and feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as Derek’s powerful hands roamed over him. Missed watching Derek’s muscles flex under his fingers and feeling him tense just as he was about to cum. He missed a lot of things about being with Derek and wondered if Derek had felt the same.

“Hey.” Stiles nuzzled the inside of Derek’s thigh and looked up at him. “Did you even miss me at all?”

He flushed with embarrassment under the intensity of Derek’s gaze and focused on removing the rest of Derek’s clothes, getting Derek to help by raising his hips. Then, he wrestled with his own pants and boxers, kicking those off and leaving himself completely bare. Derek pulled back up onto the couch and kissed him fiercely, sucking Stiles’ bottom lip into his mouth and dipping in with his tongue. It was a good kiss. So good. And Stiles whimpered at the loss when Derek pulled away.

“I’m obsessed with you,” Derek rumbled. He reached out and grabbed his jeans and pulled out a packet of lube, flicking it at Stiles’ forehead like a jerk. “Now, get some fingers in me, you piece of shit.”

Stiles’ favorite thing to do was take his time getting Derek ready. It was no secret that Derek was a dainty princess when he bottomed and needed Stiles to carefully open him up and take him apart on his fingers before they fucked. Derek liked it tender and soft. Liked giving himself over to being putty in Stiles’ hands. Stiles would never get enough of watching Derek’s jaw go slack and his body start to unwind when Stiles found his prostate, eyes fluttering closed and cock dripping against his belly.

Once he felt like he’d tortured Derek enough, turning him into a beautiful breathless wreck, he made Derek get on all fours and lined up behind him. He wrapped his hand around Derek’s cock, stroking it as he smoothly pressed into him. He was absolutely gutted by the time he bottomed out, moaning when Derek moaned and needing a moment to collect himself.

“Just give me a sec,” Stiles gasped, trailing his fingers down Derek’s spine.

“Sure,” Derek hummed. “Take all the time you need. Remember, I’m the one that actually has this thing called patience and—Fuck!”

Stiles pitched his hips forward to shut Derek up. Gritting his teeth, he began moving faster, making sure to touch every inch of Derek’s skin that he could, nails grazing against a nipple and causing Derek to inhale sharply and cry out. Every thrust was calculated, building Derek up for something great.

When he felt the strain in Derek’s body, flesh becoming taut under his palms, he deliberately pulled out just to hear Derek wail and sob. He flipped Derek onto his back and pushed himself in again, knowing Derek was close and knowing exactly how to make this orgasm perfect for him. He licked and chewed along Derek’s jaw, biting down on his ear and grinding his hips. Derek’s nails dug into the skin of his back and held onto him desperately as he thrashed and moaned. Stiles waited until the last minute, just as Derek was gearing up to explode to pull out again. He ignored Derek calling him a bunch of not so nice names and dropped his mouth down onto Derek’s cock, slurping and sucking and swallowing until Derek was arching up and coming down his throat.

Stiles hoped up and kneeled over Derek’s stomach, tugging at his own cock and jerking himself off until he was spilling all over Derek’s abs. Then he dropped down into the mess when Derek pulled him on top of him, boneless, as they both took a while to come down.

“I love you,” Derek murmured into his temple.

Stiles popped his eyes open and snarled, “Don’t!”

Derek tssked, “You can’t still be mad at me after that.”

Stiles most definitely could still be mad. He could be mad forever. No amount of mind-blowing sex could sway him so easily. He got up and went to grab a paper towel, wetting it with warm water in the sink, then walked back over to wipe off Derek’s stomach. He glared at Derek again then went and threw the towel in the trash when he heard whining and scratching coming from his bedroom door.

“You did not bring all of them!” Stiles cried. “There’s no way!”

He swung around to question Derek who just whistled innocently and tossed the blanket from the back of the couch onto himself. Stiles shucked on his pants and rushed down the hall, throwing his bedroom door wide open. Out stumbled Ash, Shadow, Smokey, Venus, and Luna, all five dogs yapping excitedly and jumping on top of him at the same time.

Stiles now understood the reason no one had ever gotten Derek a dog for Christmas as a kid. Derek was a hoarder. No matter how many times Stiles told him no more dogs, he refused to listen. Hence, why they owned a pack of dogs. Stiles wasn’t any better. He couldn’t help but fall in love with them and Derek always let him pick out such regal names.

Having them all there, racing around and climbing over him, totally made it feel like he was back at home. He couldn’t say he’d missed their overweight St. Bernard, Smokey’s obnoxious farthing, though. Or their German Shepard, Shadow’s compulsion for humping everything in sight. And definitely not their Pitbull, Venus’s nervous chewing on expensive shoes and priceless furniture.

“Derek,” Stiles called as he watched Ash hoping across the floor only on his front paws. “What’s he doing?”

Derek looked over and shrugged. “He walks on his hands now.”

Stiles didn’t understand how Derek wasn’t fazed by how weird their dogs were. He scooped up Luna, a tiny Teacup Yorkie, so she wouldn’t get trampled by all the bigger dogs and walked back over to the couch.

“Alright. We need to negotiate some things,” Stiles said, kicking at Derek’s legs until he made room on the couch.

“I just got here,” Derek groaned but gave in when he saw the look of determination on Stiles’ face. “What’s on the agenda today, boss.”

“You have to visit me.”

Derek chuckled. “Why don’t you tell me exactly how much you’d like me to visit and I will.”

“Every day,” Stiles said quickly, making Derek laugh. “You have a private jet and lots and lots of money. It makes sense for you to do most of the traveling since I’m buried here with the project.”

“I can’t say I have a lot of free time to be away either. But I can have Erica leave my schedule open for a weekend every once in a while.”

“What’s every once in a while?”

“Every six weeks if Malia watches the dogs.”

Stiles fidgeted happily. “Okay, so you and your private jet can start coming here every six weeks for a weekend and I’ll come to you whenever I can. And in exchange…”

“In exchange…”

“I’ll let you put your private jet inside me.” Derek threw his head back and laughed. “Deal?”

“As long as we can put an end to the love carebear bullshit,” Derek countered.

“What no!” Stiles shouted in outrage. “I love calling you my love carebear!”

“If you want me here, you have to never say it in my presence again.”

Stiles challenged, “Well can’t I say it not in your presence?”

“In what context?”

“Me and my love carebear.”

“No.”

“My love carebear and I.”

“No.”

“I went to the store and bought a love carebear.”

“Okay.”

“And named it Derek…” He tried, rolling his eyes when Derek gave him a firm shake of his head. “Alright. I’ll stop.”

“We’re not done.”

Stiles frowned. “What else is there?”

Derek’s eyes zeroed in on his jaw. “You have to shave.”

“No!”

“And cut your hair.” Derek scrunched his nose and threaded his fingers through the mop of long, greasy hair on Stiles’ head. “You look like you haven’t showered since the last time I saw you.”

“I wanted to try something new. I like the facial hair look on me!”

“That’s not good facial hair,” Derek grimaced.

As if he was the only one allowed to judge because of his perfect stubble. Stiles had to admit, his beard had gotten a little out of hand lately since he’d started getting lazy about grooming it. It was too long and scruffy and it was true that he’d been mistaken for a hobo once or twice. But Stiles wasn’t chopping it off for just any small price.

“I’m completely attached to this look and will be emotionally devastated if I get rid of it.” Mischief sparkled in his eyes. “What do I get in return?”

“What do you want?” Derek looked wary.

Stiles opened his mouth then stopped to really think about it, mouth curving into a diabolical smile. “You have to wax your dick.”

Derek scoffed. “What?”

“If you want my scruff off, I want your scruff off. Which means you’re getting a Brazilian wax.”

“You’re joking.” Derek squinted at him.

“Nope. They do designs too. I’m thinking a heart or a… teddy bear.” He lifted Luna up and made her wave a cute, tiny paw.

Derek’s expression hardened, growing more and more displeased. Stiles waited eagerly for his response.

“Fine,” he finally grunted out.

“You hate it that much?” Stiles asked but Derek just shrugged.

Their deals weren’t actually binding. They didn’t have to do anything they weren’t comfortable with. It was more about showing that they were both fully committed to holding up their end of the bargain, setting terms and negotiation comprises that were easy to stick too. Like a grown-up pinky promise. Which Stiles thought was super mature.

“Alright. I’ll trim it down for you,” Stiles settled. “You don’t even have to get a Brazilian wax.”

“Gee, thanks,” Derek drawled.

Stiles set Luna down on the floor where she took off running to wreak havoc in Stiles’ brand new apartment with the rest of the dogs. He leaned over and cupped Derek’s cheek, covering Derek’s mouth with his.

“I love you too,” Stiles said, sticking his tongue out and blowing a raspberry.

“C’mon.” Derek stood and forced Stiles to get up with him. “We’re taking a shower and then I’ll do you.”

“Hey! We’re in my loft now buddy!” Stiles argued, poking a finger in Derek’s chest. “I make the rules. And I don’t have to do anything you tell me to.”

Derek growled ferociously and picked Stiles up, throwing him over his shoulder like a goddamn savage.

“Alright! Alright!” Stiles yelled as Derek marched them towards the bathroom. “We’re taking a shower!”