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Stiles is pretty sure something has possessed his students today. They are loud and running around, refusing to sit on the mats when he tells them to. Maybe this is normal, and maybe the students aren’t being that bad, but the speakers from the fire department are going to be here in a few minutes, and Stiles would really like to have an attentive, yet well-behaved, class waiting.

But that, of course, doesn’t happen. Stiles has gotten half of the class onto the mats when he hears the knock on the door. His head snaps up, and he sees a few faces through the window and the faded yellow firefighter’s uniform.

“I’ve got it, Mr. Linski,” Mabel, a little girl with dark hair in uneven pigtails, yells as she runs across the room. He probably should tell her to let him answer the door, but he’s currently coaxing his two most difficult students, Jess and Kyle, onto their mats.

“Did we come at a bad time?” a female voice says. Stiles glances up to see a dark-haired woman smiling sweetly at him. He may be in love, because dimples and porcelain skin and a firefighter’s uniform? Sign him up.

But then the rest of the group filters into the classroom, and Stiles kinda just stares with his mouth hanging open wide because these aren’t real firefighters.They’re all too attractive. He’s starting to worry that he called that stripper place he’d used for Danny’s last birthday because they kinda look like the people in the firefighter and police officer porns he’s watched. But they’re wearing too many clothes, so maybe it’s just Stiles’ lucky day and he gets to drool over four fucking hot firefighters for the afternoon.

“He’s the teacher?” one of them grunts. And, oh yeah, super hot with his dark hair and scruff, but the eyebrows are arched like he’s not sure Stiles is capable of handling other people’s children all day. Stiles is absolutely capable, and certified to boot – he’s even got a Master’s in elementary education and a specialization in literacy. That makes him a T-6, the best you can be without a PhD, thank you very much Mr. McJudgey Fireman.

“Mr. S?” Lin whispers, tugging on the tail of his untucked shirt. “It’s rude to not invite them in.”

Stiles shakes his head and reaches out to grab the collar of Kyle’s shirt just as he darts past him. “Hi. I’m Mr. Stilinski.”

“That’s a mouthful,” the busty blonde says, but she’s grinning lewdly at Stiles, and damn his cheeks for flushing.

“You can set up wherever you need to,” Stiles instructs as he leads Kyle over to his mat. “Let me try to wrestle these little guys into their assigned places.” He looks around the room, and at least most of the kids are seated. There’s still one boy chasing a girl, and two girls playing with their dolls in the back of the classroom.

“Listen up!” McJudgey announces, and that gets the kids’ attention. It definitely gets Stiles’. “Who wants to learn some really neat information and roll around on the floor?” All the kids raise their hands. “What about meet our mascot, Sparky the dog?” The hands go up with even more fervor. “And who wants a cool hat to take home?”

That does it. All the kids are seated cross-legged on their mats, staring with apt attention at the four firefighters. Stiles is staring at him with awe, and McJudgey catches Stiles’ eye and smirks. Asshole.

“I’m Firefighter Derek.” So, his name is Derek. Not that Stiles needs this information or anything. Stiles tries to pay attention to what Firefighter Derek is saying, and not to his biceps and chest in that navy department t-shirt that may be just half a size too small. Not that Stiles is complaining. “And this is Firefighter Allison, Firefighter Erica, and Firefighter Boyd.” A hand goes up in the front of the room. Derek smiles at him and nods, and wow. That smile could melt the polar ice caps. Pure sunshine.

Get your head together, Stiles! he thinks to himself. There is no reason to be crushing on Firefighter Derek. The other three are just as hot, and probably much much nicer.

“Girls can’t be firemen!” the little boy, Ted, says. “They’re fire-men.”

“Not always,” Firefighter Allison replies, with her sweet smile. Stiles doesn’t blame Ted when he giggles and blushes. “Derek and Boyd are firemen, but Erica and I are firewomen. Girls can be firefighters, too!”

“You can be whatever you want, girls,” Firefighter Erica interjects from the back. “And don’t let any guy tell you otherwise!” A few of the little girls clap and start chattering excitedly, and Stiles sees Derek roll his eyes and sigh. Stiles stifles his giggle.

“Firefighter Allison is correct,” Derek starts, and after Erica clears her throat loudly, Derek adds, “As is Firefighter Erica. Boys or girls can be firefighters, police officers, or anything else. It’s not just for boys.”

Stiles finds he actually enjoys the demonstration. Though he doesn’t look like it, Derek is quite good with the kids. He explains a little bit about what being a firefighter is like, and then Boyd shows them the uniform, the helmet, and the breathing apparatus. He even puts it up to Ted’s face as if he was wearing it. He and Allison put the full uniform on, and it freaks a few of the students out at first, but as Allison and Boyd talk to them, they start to relax. Allison explains the dangers of fires, while Erica goes over common ways houses are set on fire and children get burned. She actually gets them involved by giving them pieces of paper and having them write down ideas before she goes over them.

After that part is over, Boyd looks around at the faces seriously. “I need a volunteer.” Twenty five hands shoot up. “I need an experienced volunteer, someone who is maybe a little older.”

“Mr. Linski is super old!” Brittany yells out.

“Thanks,” Stiles drawls as the whole classroom giggles.

“Mr. Stilinski, would you care to be our volunteer?” Boyd asks.

“Sure!” Stiles enthusiastically jumps up from his chair and crosses to the front of the room.

“Now,” Boyd says, turning towards the classroom, “who knows what you’re supposed to do if your clothes catch fire?” A few hands go up, and Boyd points to Mabel. “Go ahead.”

“Stop, drop, and roll!” she recites proudly, and all four firefighters nod. She beams as she sits back down.

“Exactly. Now, Mr. Stilinski, would you mind showing your students how to do that?”

“You want me to stop, drop, and roll?” Stiles asks. Boyd nods. Stiles glances at all the dirt, glitter, and construction paper pieces on the floor and then at his white shirt and grey sweater vest. He sighs. “Sure thing, Firefighter Boyd.”

Stiles drops to the floor, and despite feeling like an idiot because four hot firefighters are watching him, he rolls over on the floor, then pushes himself into a sitting position.

“Okay,” Erica says to the children. “We’re going to tell you where Mr. Stilinski made a mistake.”

“Hey!” Stiles exclaims as his students laugh.

“Mr. S was wrong!” someone says in shock.

Erica smiles at him. “Mr. Stilinski purposefully showed you the wrong way to stop, drop, and roll so you would know what not to do.” She winks at him. Erica explains about the proper time to use stop, drop, and roll, and how they should always cover their mouth and eyes.

“Now,” Allison asks. “When should you use stop, drop, and roll?”

“When you burn yourself!” Carlos yells out.

“What kind of burn?”

“Any kind?”

“Like your finger?” Allison asks.

“Yes!” Carlos responds.

“No. A burned finger is not the right time. Mr. Stilinski, can you show your students what it would look like to stop, drop, and roll if you burnt your finger?” Allison smiles at him sweetly, and he’s pretty sure they’re just making fun of him now. But whatever. His students need to learn.

Stiles mimes touching a hot stove. “Ouch! I burnt my finger!” Then he drops, covers his face, and starts rolling, which causes the students to laugh.

“Why doesn’t Mr. Stilinski need to stop, drop, and roll here?” Derek asks.

“Because his clothes aren’t on fire!” Jasmine answers.

“Exactly. You only stop, drop, and roll when your clothes catch fire.” Derek then breaks the kids into four groups, a group with each firefighter. They have the students practice stop, drop, and roll before giving out small cards with a picture of the station mascot on one side and fire safety tips on the other.

“Now, who’s ready for the big surprise at the end?” Allison asks as Erica and Boyd help corral the kids onto their mats.

“You mean the card isn’t the surprise?” Kyle asks.

“Not even close,” Erica responds, ruffling his hair lightly.

A moment later, Derek enters the room with a large Dalmatian on a leash. The kids are immediately on their knees, oohing and chattering as Derek leads the dog to the front of the room. The dog sits and stares at the kids patiently.

“Sit!” Stiles states, pointing at Kyle who has gotten to his feet. “Or it’s the time out corner and no dog.” Kyle drops and crosses his arms petulantly.

“This is Sparky,” Derek explains as he runs a hand over the dog’s head, “our station’s fire safety dog.”

“Can we pet him?” Carlos asks.

“One at a time, you can pet Sparky if you tell me something you learned today,” Boyd says. So, while the kids approach Derek and Boyd in groups of five, Stiles, Erica, and Allison move the rest of the students to their tables. Erica and Allison hand out coloring pages with fire trucks, which all the students start coloring happily.

After all the kids finish petting Sparky and are seated and coloring, Stiles takes his turn. “Thanks for coming to my classroom,” Stiles says to Derek as he scratches the dog behind the ears.

“Not a problem,” Derek says with a smile. Stiles doesn’t like the way his heart flutters a bit at the sight. “We like it when schools invite us in to speak. Kids tend to be scared of firefighters when there’s a fire. They get freaked out by the uniform, the breathing apparatus – “

“Well, you do look like some kind of space alien,” Stiles quips. “Or Darth Vader.” The side of Derek’s mouth quirks, and Stiles starts internally fist pumping.

“Never been compared to Darth Vader, but it’s not a bad comparison,” Derek says.

“Please tell me you’ve done the thing,” Stiles says.

Derek lifts an eyebrow. “The breathing apparatus is not a toy. And I’m a professional.”

“Oh come on,” Stiles argues, “you can’t tell me that you haven’t at least once, during down times, put it on and gone, Luke, I am your father.” Derek’s face is not impressed, and Stiles is starting to think maybe he’s oversold Derek’s previous reaction. That’d be like him, getting a crush on someone in only an hour and then reading every nice word as evidence that they were interested.

Apparently, Stiles needs to get out more. And get laid.

“Derek’s favorite movie is Star Wars,” Erica says as she joins them. Derek frowns in her direction, and she gives him a saccharine smile. In that moment, Stiles wonders why he’d even considered flirting with Derek. It’s so obvious that he’s straight, and Stiles wonders if maybe there’s something going on there between him and Erica. Stiles doesn’t know why he’s so disappointed; it’s not like Beacon Hills is the nexus of gay culture. He’s not even sure how Jungle stays in business.

“That’s because Star Wars is the best movie ever,” Stiles states.

Erica leans closer, like she’s divulging a secret, and stage-whispers, “He’s totally done the thing. We all have.”

Derek tries to look angry, but Stiles can see the tips of his ears turning pink. He tries not to find it cute – and fails. One of the girls asks for Erica, so she leaves Derek and Stiles standing alone with the dog. Stiles can’t help but feel awkward.

One of his students thankfully saves him from the awkward silence. “Excuse me,” Jasmine says. Derek smiles down at her like he’s relieved she’s interrupted them. “I colored this for you.” She holds out a picture of a pink fire truck that she colored. “I was hoping you could put it in the station. My grandpa is a fireman in Louisiana.”

“Of course.” Derek takes it and holds it to his chest proudly. Jasmine hugs him around the waist then prances off to join the other kids at her table. “A pink fire truck,” Derek says, looking at the picture. “Erica will probably see this and try to petition the city to let us paint one pink.”

“Could use it to promote breast cancer awareness,” Stiles points out.

Derek glances at Erica, then back to Stiles helplessly. “Please don’t let her hear you say that. You don’t know her like I do.” Stiles chuckles, and Derek smiles at him.

Boyd approaches, causing Derek to turn his gaze from Stiles. “Ready to go, Derek?” Stiles glances behind him and sees Erica and Allison hugging some of the kids goodbye.

“Yeah,” Derek says as Sparky starts for the door. “It was nice meeting you,” he tells Stiles.

“You, too! All of you!”

“Thanks for having us,” Allison says as she passes.

“Awesome kids,” Erica grins on her way out.

After they leave, Stiles lets the kids spend the rest of the school day drawing pictures of firefighters. He listens as they talk about how cool firefighters are, about how much they love Firefighter Allison and Firefighter Erica because they are girls, and how they all want Dalmatians. They all keep the cheap red plastic hats on their head until Stiles leads them to the bus yard and the car pool awning.

Stiles can’t stop thinking about Firefighter Derek and his stupid smile.

*

The next day in class, Stiles’ students are still talking about the firefighters. It does nothing to help Stiles get his mind off Derek.

“I’m going to be a firewoman when I grow up,” Mabel tells the classroom right before lunch. “Just like Firefighter Allison and Erica.”

“Me too!” Jasmine and Lin chime in.

“Girls will never be real firemen,” Jess says. “I bet Allison and Erica just answer the phones.”

“Or clean,” Ted snickers.

“I don’t think that’s what they do,” Stiles says as he stands beside their table. “They go into burning buildings just like the guys.”

“But…they’re girls,” Jess scrunches his nose. Stiles rolls his eyes and decides it’s time to include some more women into his lessons if this is the kind of education these kids are getting at home.

“Girls can do anything,” Mabel exclaims. “Firewoman Erica said so.”

“I won’t believe it until I see it,” Jess says.

That gives Stiles an idea. So, after school, he pulls up his e-mail program.

To: ereyes@bhcfd.gov
From: sstilinski@bhpublicschools.org

Dear Firefighter Erica,

Hello! I’m Stiles Stilinski, you visited my third grade class yesterday? Some of the students are still having a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of a fire-WOMAN, despite meeting you and Firefighter Allison yesterday.

I was wondering if your station allows elementary school field trips? I think it would be great for them to see a real fire station and to see what firefighters do, especially female firefighters. It’s totally cool if that’s like against the rules.

Anyway, thanks for coming to my class yesterday. All four of you were awesome. The kids are still talking about it, and three of the girls said they wanted to be “firewomen like Firefighter Allison and Firefighter Erica.”

Have a great day,
Stiles Stilinski
Third grade teacher
Oak Grove Elementary School

Stiles hits send, packs up his messenger bag, and goes home.

*

Erica’s response is waiting for him in his mailbox the next morning. She enthusiastically tells him they’d love to have his class visit the station, and gives him a list of dates that works for them. The field trip is approved for the next week.

As the bus rolls to a stop in front of the station, Stiles’ eyes immediately find Derek. He’s wearing that same snug fitting t-shirt and black pants. He blushes when the bus rolls close by him, and quickly darts his eyes away. After the bus stops, he steps off before the kids and stumbles on the last step. Stiles refuses to feel like an idiot because the firefighters just witnessed him almost face plant on the pavement. Even if Erica is laughing and Derek’s rolling his eyes.

“Find your line buddies!” Stiles instructs his class as they fall into line behind him. Each child steps beside their partner and makes sure they are behind their line guide. Half the class is waving at the nearby firefighters, and the four of them smile and wave back at the class. Jasmine and Mabel break away from the group, and despite Stiles calling after them, they run up to Derek and Erica and give them hugs. Stiles can’t be too mad, not when Derek looks pleasantly surprised as Jasmine squeezes him tightly and then rushes back to her line buddy.

“Now,” Stiles starts, “a fire station is a serious, important place. This is not a playhouse; you must stay in line with your line buddy, listen to the firefighter’s directions, and most importantly, you will not…?”

“Touch anything!” the class replies in unison. Stiles smiles and turns to the firefighters.

First, Boyd takes them on a tour of the fire station. Stiles trails behind, watching the students closely. He’s terrified Kyle or Jess is going to end up turning on a hose or exploding an extinguisher. But the students are obedient, and Stiles finds himself relaxing as the morning wears on.

While Allison is showing the kids the different parts of a fire truck, someone steps up beside Stiles. When he turns, he’s surprised to see that it’s Derek and gives him a surprised smile. “Hey!” Stiles greets quietly.

“Hey.” Derek glances at Stiles’ class. “I see they didn’t get enough the other day.”

“Oh no,” Stiles says. “You four are like superstars in my class right now, especially Allison and Erica.”

A small smile spreads across Derek’s face as he looks at the women affectionately. “They tend to have that effect on people.”

“Thanks for letting us come visit,” Stiles says.

Derek smiles at Stiles. “No problem. We were glad to see the class again.” Derek walks off then, stopping beside Erica and leaning close to whisper something to her. She laughs and slaps his shoulder before disappearing out of sight. Stiles feels that same disappointment he felt in his classroom; he really needs to stop getting crushes on straight guys.

Stiles joins his class as they climb onto the fire trucks, sit inside the cab, and even spray the water hose. Stiles watches Jasmine and Kyle spraying the small hoses into the grassy area behind the station as someone behind him turns on a siren and the lights on one of the trucks.

“Hey Mr. S!” Kyle yells suddenly, turning towards Stiles – and spraying him in the face with a gush of water. “Oops! Sorry, Mr. S.”

Stiles splutters as he wipes water from his eyes and nose, his hair and shirt drenched. “No problem, Kyle.”

“Mr. Linski needed a bath!” one of his students yells, and they start giggling.

“Yeah, he smelled!”

“Real funny, kids.”

Boyd walks up to Stiles, holding a towel. He’s laughing, and Stiles tries to glare. “I’m regretting my decision to bring them here,” Stiles states as he takes the towel and tries to control the damage. Boyd just claps him on the shoulder and goes to take the hose away from Kyle.

“Hey,” Allison says, coming up as Stiles towels his hair. “There’s an extra t-shirt and maybe some sweat pants in the lounge room. It’s just through there.” She gives him a sympathetic smile. “Better than teaching the rest of the day in soggy clothes.”

“You’re a life saver.”

Stiles makes his way through the fire station, peeking inside offices and supply closets before finding the lounge room. The place is rather roomy, with a couch, television set, and three sets of bunk beds. There’s a small table with four chairs around it and a deck of cards sitting on top, a counter with a microwave and coffee maker, and two vending machines in the corner. Along one wall is a row of lockers, and beside those, an open cabinet where Stiles spies navy fabric. He finds a t-shirt in his size, and strips out of his soaked shirt. His pants didn’t get as much of the spray as his shirt and hair, so he decides to keep the khakis.

He is wringing water out of his shirt when he hears a door open to his left. He turns around to find Derek striding inside the room, wearing nothing but tight black boxer briefs, and carrying a large Dalmatian costume. Stiles can’t stop his eyes from roaming all over Derek’s bare skin. Lean lines, hard muscle, and pale skin that Stiles wants to just run his hands all over. But the longer he looks, he starts to notice knotted scar tissue marring the skin across Derek’s lower torso, sides, and legs. When he finally catches Derek’s eyes, he knows he’s flushed.

“What are you doing?” Derek snaps angrily.

“Um, one of my students soaked me with a hose,” Stiles explains, pointing to his hair and holding up his wet shirt. “Allison said I could have a t-shirt.” Stiles doesn’t know why Derek suddenly looks so pissed, but then he’s distracted when Derek’s eyes rake down his own body before he turns around. He must be imagining things, because there’s no way Derek just checked him out. As Derek steps into the large costume, Stiles’ eyes catch sight of severe burn scars stretching across most of Derek’s back and thighs.

When Derek bends over, Stiles can’t help but stare at his ass. Yes, Derek’s stepping into a Dalmation costume, because what? The last thing Stiles expected was Derek dressed up as a cartoon dog.

Stiles shakes his head to force himself to stop staring at Derek’s ass and waist (and the swirling tattoo right in the middle of his back, untouched by scars…) and tugs the shirt over his head hurriedly. Then he gets the hell out of that room before Derek catches him drooling with half a boner. The last thing Stiles needs is a hard-on while trying to deal with his students.

While Stiles impatiently waits for Derek to make his entrance dressed in costume, his mind drifts back to Derek’s half-naked body. This is not good, not at all. Stiles’ crush is totally not lessening. And Stiles wants to know the stories behind the scars, if they were from one fire or multiple. He realizes he wants to know just about everything about Fireman Derek.

When Allison tells the students they have a surprise visitor a few minutes later, Stiles finds himself as eager as his class. Out from the rear of the station emerges a large, rotund Dalmation with a huge head and an even larger firefighter’s hat. “Hello kids!” a deep voice booms, and Stiles laughs at Derek’s fake baritone.

“Hello!” they chorus.

“My name is Firedog Blazer. How did you like your visit today?” The kids start jumping up and down, trying to tell Firedog Blazer all about the things they got to see and do during their visit. When the class is under control again, Derek says, “For being such cool fire safety experts, I have a little gift!”

Allison brings out a stack of red plastic firefighter’s hats, and Derek starts handing them individually to each student. When Derek gets to Stiles, Stiles tries to keep a straight face, but fails. He grins widely and winks at Derek. Firedog Blazer fits a red plastic hat on Stiles’ head before turning back to the students.

“Who wants their picture with Firedog Blazer?” Erica asks, and twenty-five hands shoot up into the air. “Okay, everyone gather round!” Half the class starts pushing each other as they try to get beside Firedog Blazer, so Boyd and Allison got into the picture to try to ease some of the arguing.

“But what about Firewoman Erica?” Lin asks. “She needs to be in the picture!”

“Yeah, I can take the picture,” Stiles says, heading in Erica’s direction. “I look pretty horrible anyway with this wet mop of a head.”

“Thanks, Mr. Stilinski.” Erica winks at him and joins the group.

“Wait! Where’s Fireman Derek?” Jasmine yells, looking around.

“He had to go take care of some important firefighter business,” Erica says, taking her place beside her. Jasmine pouts and folds her arms across her chest. Stiles tells everyone to smile, and then snaps the shot.

The kids immediately start hugging Firedog Blazer, and Stiles watches as Derek gives every kid a hug. It doesn’t seem to fit, the hot firefighter that has glared at Stiles more than anything else, and this guy perched on one knee as he listens to Holly tell him about the time her grandparents’ house caught fire.

Stiles turns away and focuses on something that is less frustrating. Because Fireman Derek is definitely frustrating.

*

To: sstilinski@bhpublicschools.org
From: ereyes@bhcfd.gov

Dear Mr. Stilinski,

Thank you so much for your visit to our station. I hope that it helped show that women can be firefighters just like men. If I need to come back and reinforce the point, let me know!

I’m attaching the photo you took of your class. We’ve put it on the department website, and I thought you might want a copy for your class.

Also, since you have shown such an interest in our fire department, I thought I’d let you know that we run a canned food drive every Thanksgiving. Local schools get involved some years, and I thought your classroom might be interested in participating. We can forward you the information if you like.

Take care ;)
FireWOMAN Erica

*

“Look Mr. Linski,” Lin says as she waddles into the room one morning. She’s having trouble walking because she’s loaded down with two huge bags filled too full with canned goods. “For the food drive!”

“That’s awesome, Lin!” Stiles exclaims as he takes the bag. Of course, the moment he takes it from her hands, the plastic breaks, and three cans fall onto his feet. “Owowowow,” he yells, biting his tongue to keep from cursing loudly.

“Oh no! Mr. S got hurt!” A few of the kids run towards him and grab the cans rolling across the floor.

“It’s okay,” Stiles says, though his foot is throbbing. “Mabel, you want to count up the cans and put our new daily total on the chart?”

“Can I help?” Ted asks, and Stiles nods as the two students start counting cans.

After Stiles received Erica’s email, he went to Principal Deaton and asked if the school could help with the fire department’s canned food drive. He enthusiastically agreed, and now it’s a competition between the classrooms for a pizza party on the last day of school before winter break.

So far, Stiles’ class was winning by a long shot.

“We have 126 cans,” Mabel announces as she colors the chart on the wall.

“Excellent, kids!” Stiles beams at them as they add today’s cans to the pile. They were so going to knock this out of the park.

*

Stiles bursts through the hospital doors, panicked and shaking. He had been sitting on his couch, grading a spelling test, when Deputy Parrish called him and told him there had been an accident involving his father. Stiles hadn’t even let Parrish finish talking before he had hung up and was running out the door.

“Where’s Sheriff Stilinski?” Stiles yells at the nurse sitting at reception.

“I’m sorry, sir, but you need – “

“No, you need,” Stiles retorts. His entire body is vibrating, and he’s slowly losing his grip on himself. If he doesn’t see his father that very second, he’s going to go into a full blown panic attack. “I’m his son, now where in the hell is he?”

“Stiles?”

The name snaps Stiles out of his fury towards the nurse, and he turns towards an unfamiliar voice. Walking through the swinging double doors, covered in ash and soot, is Derek. His hair is matted against his head, and he’s wearing his uniform, which is just as filthy as his face.

Stiles’ first instinct is to, of course, panic.

“Oh god, what happened to him? Was there a fire? That’s the only logical explanation because you’re here, and you smell like burning, and is that a, oh god, that’s an open burn on your arm and – “

“Hey,” Derek says, grabbing Stiles’ hands from where they’re frantically flailing around his face. “Calm down, he’s fine.”

“Then why are you here? Or him, for that matter. They won’t let me see him.”

“Come on,” Derek says, ignoring the nurse and leading Stiles gently by the wrist through the double doors. They walk into the emergency room, and Stiles doesn’t see anything as he searches for his father. “He’s over here,” Derek says quietly. He’s still holding on to Stiles’ wrist, and Stiles is glad, because right now, he’s pretty sure Derek’s hand is grounding him and the only thing between him and a complete breakdown.

The sheriff is lying in a bed, covered in a similar layer of dark grime as Derek, with a few scrapes and bruises. Otherwise, he looks okay.

The moment the sheriff sees Stiles, he sighs. “Kiddo, don’t look at me like that. It’s not serious.”

“Not serious?” Stiles asks. “Not serious? Dad, you’re in the emergency room.”

“I’m fine. I was called to the scene of an automobile accident, and the car was leaking fuel, and the next thing we knew, it was up in flames. Hale saved my life, got to me just before the flames exploded out of control.”

Stiles glances beside him, but finds Derek isn’t standing there, so he turns back to the sheriff. “Derek saved you?”

The sheriff looks at him in question. “You know Derek?”

“Yeah, he’s the fireman that came to my class. Remember? I told you about the field trip?”

The sheriff shakes his head tiredly. “Yeah, I remember. I didn’t know it was Derek, though.” He closes his eyes. A doctor comes in at that moment, and Stiles steps outside the curtain, out of the way. He walks around, poking around curtains until he finds Derek sitting on a bed with his shirt off while a doctor does something to his back. Before he can stop himself, he crosses the room and stands tentatively beside Derek’s bed.

“How bad is it?” Stiles asks.

Derek looks up at him, his face weary and drawn. “Not too bad.”

From this angle, Stiles can’t see the wound, but his eyes drift to the burn on Derek’s arm, near some older scars. “What happened?”

“A few pieces of debris fell on me.”

Stiles steps to the side and gets a glimpse of the large strip of burned skin across the middle of Derek’s back. “While you were saving my dad,” Stiles adds.

“It’s my job,” Derek states simply.

Stiles shakes his head. “It’s more than that,” he says, tearing his eyes from the red, angry skin. “I can’t thank you enough.”

Derek gives him a tired smile. “I’m just glad that I was there.” He glances over to the curtain beside him. “Erica got a pretty nasty burn, too. But no one got seriously hurt, which is the important thing.”

Stiles nods, and then glances back at his dad’s curtain. “I should probably get back to him, but I just wanted to say thanks.” Derek nods and holds his eyes for a few moments, until finally Stiles turns away and crosses back to the sheriff’s bed.

“Where’d you go?” the sheriff asks.

“Oh, to thank Derek for saving your life.”

The sheriff lifts an eyebrow, clearly amused. “Is that really what you were doing over there? I hear Hale is considered quite a hunk.”

“A hunk? Really, Dad? You’re lying in a hospital bed, you shouldn’t be saying lame things and meddling in my love life.”

The sheriff smirks. “Thought so. He seemed your type.”

Stiles glowers. “I hate you, really.” The sheriff chuckles.

They let the sheriff go, so Stiles paces in the waiting room while he waits for his dad to finish up with the doctors and the paperwork. He’s biting his thumbnail down to the quick when Derek and Erica come walking down the hall, looking tired but laughing together. Erica whispers something to Derek, waves at Stiles, then walks down the hall while Derek stops in the path of Stiles’ pacing.

“You both look much better,” Stiles states.

Derek smiles. “It was a good day, despite the minor injuries.” Stiles nods, still chewing on his thumb. Derek glances at his mouth, then gently tugs Stiles’ hand away. “Why are you so anxious? Your dad is fine.”

Stiles starts fidgeting and brings his hand back to his mouth, but Derek stops him. “Things like this, what happened today, remind me how dangerous my dad’s job is. He’s all I have left.” He taps his foot and drums his fingers on his legs, hoping he doesn’t have a breakdown in the hospital hallway with Fireman Derek watching him.

“But he’s okay,” Derek points out. “So, there’s nothing to worry about.”

“This time.”

Derek’s eyebrows scrunch together in the middle, concerned, a small frown around his lips. “I’ll see you around,” Derek says, nodding to the sheriff as he steps through the doors. As he walks down the hall towards Erica, he turns around and says, “Oh, Stiles? Like the shirt.”

Stiles glances down in confusion and realizes he’s wearing the BHFD shirt he’d gotten weeks ago when he’d visited the station. At least Stiles is too relieved to see his dad walking towards him uninjured to care what Derek might make of him wearing the shirt.

*

Stiles changes his mind like five times in the car on the way to the station. But despite his hesitation, he pulls the Jeep into the parking lot, parking beside a shiny black Camaro. Deciding it was too late to back out now, Stiles grabs the basket and walks into the front door.

No one is behind the counter, and Stiles is about to turn around and walk out when Allison walks in from out back. She gives Stiles a bright smile when she recognizes him. “Hi! Come on back, everyone’s in the lounge.”

“No, that’s not necessary, I just – “ But Stiles doesn’t get to finish because the door shuts, leaving Stiles alone. He takes a deep breath and follows Allison.

In the lounge, he finds Derek, Boyd, and Erica sitting around the table, playing cards, and Allison taking her seat. The others look up at Stiles when he enters, and he feels like an idiot, standing in the doorway, holding a large gift basket.

“Is that…” Erica stands up and walks towards him, laughing giddily. “Is that a gift basket?”

Stiles feels his face redden; this was seriously the worst idea on the planet.

“Is that for us?” Boyd asks, confused.

“Um…” Stiles stammers. He looks around the room before finally looking at Derek. Derek’s watching him carefully, and Stiles just feels like an idiot. “Yeah. As a thank you, for, you know.” He shrugs.

Erica turns, her blonde curls whacking Stiles in the face. “This is for you, Derek.” Stiles really wants the floor to open up and swallow him whole. She turns back to Stiles with a grin. “After all, he’s the hero.”

“Erica,” Derek groans, standing and walking over to them. Stiles fumbles as he basically shoves the basket into Derek’s chest.

“Thanks for, you know, saving my dad and stuff.” Stiles looks at Derek for a moment, then at the floor. He’s too embarrassed to look Derek in the eyes.

“This is really nice, thank you,” Derek says, and Stiles chances a peek. Derek’s smiling at him, and there doesn’t seem to be any malice in it. He genuinely means it.

Erica rolls her eyes as Allison hooks her chin over Derek’s shoulder so she can look through the basket. “What’s in here?” She starts moving stuff around. Stiles just put some snacks and energy drinks in there; he thought he couldn’t go wrong with that stuff. “Ooh, a gift card.” She turns her face and grins at Derek. “It has your name on it.”

“Um, I should, uh, be going,” Stiles blurts, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. He’s about to die of humiliation, and now the idea of giving Derek a gift card to the best pizza place in town seems like the worst idea ever. Actually, this whole thing had been a horrific idea.

“You don’t have to go,” Derek says.

Erica’s already opening the gift card, which is accompanied by a small thank you note Stiles had written. She reads it, grins, then hands it to Derek. “Yeah, you should stay and eat pizza with us,” Erica says.

“I’m not sharing my pizza with you lot,” Derek teases, reaching for the gift card just as Erica moves it out of the way. “It’s all my pizza.”

“You’re gonna eat fifty bucks worth of pizza?” Erica challenges.

Derek forgets about Erica and turns to Stiles, completely surprised. “Fifty dollars? Stiles, that’s too much.”

“Dude, you saved my dad’s life,” he replies. “That’s hardly enough.”

“You should stay and eat pizza with us,” Derek says. Erica and Allison are both watching them closely, and Stiles just feels awkward. How is he supposed to hide his enormous crush for an entire evening? It’s just made worse by Derek’s girlfriend watching him.

“Okay,” Stiles says despite himself.

*

Surprisingly, dinner is fun. Erica, Allison, Boyd, and Derek are actually really awesome, once Stiles calms down enough to enjoy himself. Derek orders three large pizzas, which they polish off easily. Boyd even whines when there’s none left.

Stiles is finishing off the crusts when Erica turns to him. “Thanks so much for the food.”

“You’re welcome.”

She turns to Derek. “Derek is such a dashing hero, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely,” Allison giggles.

“I’m into him,” Boyd deadpans. Stiles glances at Derek’s face, which is as sour as always, then at the others. He can’t figure out if they’re making fun of Derek or him, or both.

“I keep telling everyone Derek should be our mascot and not Sparky.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Don’t let Sparky hear you; you’ll break his heart.”

“Can’t you see Derek’s face on our website or on the cards?” Erica continues.

“You are very handsome, Derek,” Allison says.

“I believe they call him hot,” Boyd chimes in. Stiles can’t help but laugh, more at Derek’s increasing frustration than the actual conversation.

“Did you know that he’s also one of the best firefighters in the department?” Allison asks. “He’s saved more lives than anyone else here, even the ones with more seniority.”

“Guys, can we change the subject now?” Derek groans.

“And the kids love him,” Boyd states, ignoring Derek. “You’ve seen your own class with him. If only he had that way with adults.”

Derek stands up and glares at his friends. “I’m not sharing my pizza with you three ever again.” He yanks the empty pizza boxes from the table and stalks out of the lounge to the separate, full-size kitchen.

“It’s nice that you did this for him,” Allison says seriously as soon as Derek’s out of earshot. “It means a lot to him.”

“Really?”

“Derek went out of his way to save your father,” Erica says. When Stiles looks at them in confusion, she clarifies. “Boyd was closer, but Derek was the first to figure out the car was going to blow. Your dad was the closest to the blast, but instead of getting Boyd to cover him, Derek crossed over to him as fast as he could.”

Stiles shakes his head. “But why would he do that? It doesn’t make sense.”

The three share a look before Allison shrugs. “Derek’s an enigma.”

“Sucks you two got hurt because of it,” Stiles says. “He said your burns were worse than his. But his looked pretty nasty, especially the one on his back. I hope it’s healing okay.”

“You saw his burns?” Allison asks. Stiles nods as they share another look.

“On his back?” Erica asks. Stiles nods again. “So, you saw his scars.”

“I’d already seen them,” Stiles replies. He’s really confused about why he’s being grilled about this.

“You had?” Allison asks.

“Yeah, that day you gave me the shirt. He was changing into his costume.” He glances at the three faces. “Why?”

“Derek doesn’t let anyone see his scars,” Erica says quietly. “He never goes without a shirt.”

“Really?” Stiles asks, confused. “With that body?”

“Yeah, he – “ But Allison stops talking when Derek reenters the room. He catches the sudden end of conversation, then lifts an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Erica says, not-so-innocently. He glares at her, but she just smiles.

Stiles stands up. “I really need to be going.”

“Do you have to?” Erica pouts.

“We have foosball, and Derek and Erica are hopeless at it,” Allison says.

“Yeah, gotta get ready for work tomorrow. But hey, thanks for dinner.” He smiles and starts towards the door.

“Thanks for the basket,” Derek calls after him. Stiles glances back at him, and Stiles tells himself the look Derek’s giving him doesn’t mean anything. The soft smile, the bright eyes – just friendliness and gratitude.

“Any time.” Stiles gives them a final wave and leaves.

*

Stiles drives to the First Response fall cookout with his father. He knows that Derek’s going to be there, because all county departments will be there. He’s honestly not looking forward to it.

After the dinner at the station a few weeks ago, Stiles hasn’t been able to think about anything but Derek. The whole night had been weird, despite the fact that he had fun. But the way everyone was acting just seemed a bit off to him. The thing he can’t really stop thinking about is Erica and Allison’s reaction to the burns. Stiles doesn’t know what the big deal had been about seeing Derek’s scars – especially since both times had really been accidents. Maybe that’s why Derek had seemed so angry the day at the station. But neither time did Stiles get the impression that Derek felt uncomfortable or ashamed of his body.

Besides, Stiles didn’t think there was anything to be ashamed of, scars or not.

“Hey, Dad,” Stiles asks as they drive. “What do you know about Derek Hale?”

The sheriff smirks. “Any particular reason you want to know?”

“Don’t be a jerk.”

“You seem to have taken an interest in him lately,” the sheriff points out.

“Yes, I have. Now, can we move on and you answer my question?”

The sheriff chuckles. “He’s been a firefighter for years. One of the best in the county, could probably transfer to one of the bigger departments in a city like San Francisco, Sacramento, or LA and have a better career, but I think he’s made it his mission to protect Beacon Hills.”

“Why?”

“When Derek was sixteen, he saved most of his family from a house fire. He came home to find the house on fire and everyone trapped inside. He got most of them out, but I think an aunt and a cousin died. Derek almost died trying to get them out.”

“The scars,” Stiles whispers.

“Scars? Yeah, they said he had a lot of burn damage, on his back and legs especially.”

“So, he saves his family from a fire and becomes a fireman? You’d think he’d run from it.”

The sheriff shrugs. “People deal with things in different ways.”

*

The fall cookout is packed with First Responders and their families. Stiles mingles with the sheriff’s department, talking to people he’s grown up with over the years. He can’t help but scan the crowd every few minutes looking for Derek. When they sit down for dinner, he spots Boyd in line for dessert, but can’t find the rest of his team.

Stiles has just about given up on finding Derek when he sees Derek winding through the crowd. “Stiles!” He’s surprised that Derek is making his way towards him, but feels giddy at the thought. “I was hoping you’d be here with your dad,” Derek says when he makes his way towards him.

“Yeah, can’t miss a cookout. I think I’ve been to every single one since I’ve been born.”

Derek tilts his head to the side. “I wonder how I’ve never seen you before?”

Stiles shrugs. “Lost in the crowd, I guess.” He looks around. “Where are Erica, Allison, and Boyd?”

“I lost them awhile ago,” Derek laughs. “Want to get some cake? I hear Mrs. Hollis has made some banana thing that’s delicious.”

“I never say no to cake,” Stiles grins.

They walk through the crowd, unable to talk as they dodge people and speak to just about everyone who passes by. When they get to the cake table, Derek pulls out a stack of bills and pays for Stiles’ piece.

“Dude, you didn’t have to,” he says as he chooses a plate. “Here, let me give you my part.”

“My treat,” Derek says, shaking his head.

“Why? I should be buying you cake as a continued thanks.”

Derek pauses and looks at Stiles seriously. “You really don’t have anything to thank me for.” Stiles nods, takes his cake, and walks away thoughtfully.

Stiles meanders away from the crowd, to a set of bleachers facing the soccer field near the cook out pavilion. Derek follows him and walks up to the very top, taking the seat beside Stiles.

“Erica said you protected my father, even though Boyd was closer,” Stiles says slowly. “That doesn’t sound very smart or professional.”

“It wasn’t,” Derek replies.

Stiles studies Derek carefully. “Then why did you do it?”

Derek shrugs. “I thought it was obvious.”

Stiles turns to his cake, staring at it as he takes another bite. He’s trying to make sense of Derek’s words when he hears someone call his and Derek’s names.

Erica’s standing by the bleachers, holding the hand of a tall man with curls. Stiles glances between them and Derek. “I was hoping I would see you tonight, Stiles,” Erica greets. “I wanted you to meet my fiancé, Isaac. Isaac, this is Stiles, the teacher I was telling you about.”

Fiancé? Stiles’ mind is reeling, because this changes everything.

Isaac smiles widely at him. “You’re Stiles? I’ve heard a lot about you. I can’t tell you how much Erica goes on and on about your class. I think they’ve made her year. She’s decided she wants to start speaking at elementary schools about changing the perceptions of careers for young girls.”

“Damn straight,” Erica laughs. “I want all little girls to know they can be a firefighter, a pilot, or whatever they want.”

Stiles grins. “Well, I’m glad my little third grade class could be so helpful.”

“We’re gonna go find Boyd, but I’m glad I found you Stiles,” Erica says with a soft smile. “You should come to dinner at our house sometime. We can have a board game night.”

“Dude, that sounds awesome,” Stiles exclaims. “I love board games.”

“It’s on then,” Erica agrees. “I’m gonna kick your butt.”

“She’s lying,” Derek leans over and whispers to Stiles. “She’s kinda terrible.”

“I heard that, Hale.”

Isaac rolls his eyes. “You have to watch out for these two, they’re vicious competitors.” Erica gives them another wave, and then she and Isaac walk away.

Stiles’ head is still spinning. He’s not even sure what to do with this new information. Erica engaged, not to Derek, but Isaac. Derek sitting here, away from the festivities, alone with Stiles. Derek not seeming to mind when Stiles saw him without a shirt. Derek saving Stiles’ father.

“I think I want another piece of cake,” Derek starts, “do you – mmph!” Stiles cuts him off by pressing his lips to Derek’s. It’s a clumsy press of dry lips, their mouths not meeting properly, and Derek seems too surprised to respond. When Stiles pulls away, Derek’s looking at him like he’s crazy.

“What was that for?” Derek asks.

“I thought you were dating Erica,” Stiles blurts.

Derek’s eyebrows furrow. “Erica?” Then he throws his head back and laughs. Stiles can’t help but chuckle himself, the sound of Derek’s full laugh glorious. “She’s basically my sister. We’ve been friends since high school.”

Stiles is blushing now, feeling once again like an idiot and suddenly wondering if he overstepped a boundary by kissing Derek. Just because he isn’t with Erica doesn’t give Stiles permission to kiss him. But before Stiles can stammer out a jumbled apology, Derek is leaning in and kissing him again.

This time, the kiss isn’t clumsy; it’s warm, and wet, and Stiles loses track of how much time they sit on the bleachers, clutching onto one another’s arms and learning each other’s mouths.

*

Maybe Stiles is stupid, but he feels like a twelve year old with his first crush where Derek is concerned. Every time Derek’s name flashes across the screen of his phone, whenever he calls him on his way home after a twenty-four hour shift, Stiles gets butterflies in his stomach.

Erica makes fun of him for an entire week after she finds out he thought she and Derek were dating. When Stiles brings the firefighters dinner, she spends the entire night calling Derek “honey,” slapping his ass, and making lewd remarks. Derek just glares at her and keeps his arm around Stiles.

The Friday before Thanksgiving marks the end of the school canned food drive. Stiles crouches on the mats with his students as they listen to Principal Deaton read off the winners.

“Third place goes to Ms. Yukimura’s fifth grade class,” Principal Deaton’s voice rings out from the PA system. “Second place goes to Mr. McCall’s kindergarten class. And first place goes to Mr. Stilinski’s third grade class!”

The entire class erupts into cheers, Stiles probably cheering louder than anyone. He jumps to his feet and starts dancing around, and soon, the entire class is on their feet, dancing. That’s why he doesn’t hear the door open or realize anyone is standing there until he hears the excited shrieks from the kids.

Standing at the door are Derek, Erica, Allison, and Boyd. They’re grinning as the kids run to them and give them hugs.

“On your mats! We have special visitors!” Stiles calls out as most of the class follows directions and sits on their assigned mat. After everyone is seated, Stiles included, the firefighters walk to the front of the classroom. Stiles catches Derek’s eyes and gives him a small wave. Derek’s bright smile makes Stiles’ heart lurch in his chest.

“Congratulations you guys!” Allison exclaims while clapping her hands.

“Like we expected any different from our favorite class,” Boyd says.

“Over four hundred cans,” Derek says. “That is really impressive. Now, do you know why it’s so important that you collected that many cans?”

“So we can get pizza!” Kyle yells.

“You do get pizza,” Derek says, “but there’s an even more important reason. Anyone know what?”

Bradley raises his hand. “Because these cans help feed people who don’t have food for Thanksgiving.”

“Exactly,” Erica says. She explains to the students how the cans are used to help those in need, and why it’s so important to help their community.

When she’s finished her speech, Boyd says, “Now, we have a surprise for our favorite class.” Stiles shoots Derek a questioning glance, and Derek just winks. Derek and Allison step into the hallway and return a moment later with Sparky and a plate of cupcakes.

“Sparky!”

“CUPCAKES!!”

Stiles directs the class back to their tables and distributes napkins with Erica. Derek holds on to Sparky’s leash and leads him around the room for the kids to pet. When Derek finally gets to Stiles, he looks so happy and relaxed that Stiles just want to kiss him stupid.

“Nice dance moves,” Derek says, eyebrow lifted.

Stiles covers his face with his hand. “Oh god, I was hoping you didn’t see that.”

“Oh believe me, I saw. I even think Erica took video.”

He cuts his eyes over to Erica. “Then we must steal her phone and delete this video pronto.”

“I hope this was okay,” Derek says, dropping his voice. “I should’ve asked, but Erica and Boyd wanted to surprise them for doing such a good job. We also gave cupcakes to the other two winning classrooms.”

Stiles grins. “It’s fine. They’re all so excited to see you back.” He reaches down and pets Sparky. “I didn’t expect to see you today, so this is definitely a plus.”

“We had to pick up the cans, and none of us could resist the opportunity to visit.”

Stiles picks up a cupcake from the table beside him. “Saved you one.”

“So thoughtful.” Derek reaches for it, but Stiles lifts it to Derek’s mouth instead. Derek rolls his eyes but takes a bite, getting icing all over his nose and in his scruff. Stiles laughs as he takes a bite of the cupcake.

Oo-ooh!” Stiles hears from the classroom, and turns to see the entire classroom watching them and giggling. Erica’s in the back, cackling happily, and Stiles knows this is entirely her fault.

“Mr. Linski likes Fireman Derek!” someone shouts.

“Mr. Linski and Fireman Derek, sitting in a tree,” another student starts.

“If you want to keep the pizza party,” Stiles warns in his teacher voice, “I suggest that you stop that right now.”

A few of the kids giggle, and Stiles turns to Derek, who still has icing in his scruff. Stiles decides the damage is already done, and reaches out to wipe it away with his thumb. The class giggles again as some of them start making kissing noises.

He is so going to kill Erica.

*

After Stiles gets off work, he drives over to the fire station. He finds all four of them, along with a few other firefighters he’s met over the last two weeks, sorting through boxes of canned goods.

“Can I help?” Stiles says in greeting as he drops to the concrete beside Derek.

Derek grins and leans over to peck him on the lips. “I didn’t expect you to show up.”

“You surprise me, I surprise you. Sadly, I have no cupcakes though. But I might be persuaded to chip in for pizza.” Stiles reaches into the box Derek’s working through and takes two cans. “Thought I would help with this stuff. So, put me to work.”

Stiles spends all afternoon sorting cans according to Boyd’s intricate organizational plan. When they have over half the cans sorted, Stiles helps Derek pack them into boxes and carry them into a storage room.

“What are you going to do with them now?” Stiles asks as he sets a box on the floor and then wipes his forehead. Derek isn’t even winded, the bastard.

“We’ll take an inventory of what we have, and then put them together into packages. Some of it will go to the Beacon Hills Food Bank to help with their dinner Thursday, and some will go out to needy families in the area,” Derek explains.

“You’re amazing, do you know that?” Stiles asks, stepping closer to Derek. Derek moves until his back is against the shelves, and he smiles as he settles his hands low on Stiles’ hips.

“Yeah?” Derek gives him an easy smile, and Stiles just has to kiss him.

Kissing Derek still feels so new and exciting, despite the fact that they have kissed as much as possible over the last two weeks. That’s as far as they have gone, but Stiles is okay with that, because he’s still enjoying the twelve year old with a crush feeling. Just being in the same room as Derek makes him giddy.

“We should probably get back,” Stiles mumbles against Derek’s mouth.

“Mmmhmm,” Derek hums as he kisses along Stiles’ jaw, then licks along the underside. “We probably should.”

“If they need us, they’ll call us, right?” Stiles asks as he noses against Derek’s cheek. Derek nods as he captures Stiles’ lips again.

When they pull apart minutes later, breathless and flushed, Derek says, “I have something to ask you.”

“Okay…” Stiles says, curious.

“I know it’s short notice, but tomorrow is the Fireman’s Ball. I was, uh, I was hoping you’d be my date.”

Stiles’ face breaks into a wide grin. “Are you crazy? Of course I’d love to go.” He throws his arms around Derek’s neck and jumps up, wrapping his legs around his waist. He kisses him again.

They don’t leave the supply closet for almost half an hour.

*

Stiles pulls at his tie, trying to adjust it again. Derek slaps his hand away. “Leave it; you look great.”

“I never dress like this,” Stiles says. He’s wearing a navy suit, and despite Derek telling him how sexy he looks, he feels self-conscious in it. Especially next to Derek in his dress uniform. Stiles almost climbed him like a tree right there in the doorway of his house.

Derek grabs Stiles’ hand and threads their fingers together before kissing his cheek. “You look great.” Derek holds his hand as they walk to the event hall, a small place in City Hall on the main street in Beacon Hills. The room is large, lights low with hanging white twinkle lights and candles on the tables. Couples are dancing on the dance floor, and Stiles catches sight of Erica’s blonde curls sweeping around and her tight red dress. He mentions it to Derek, who chuckles and responds, “That’s Erica for you.”

Derek leads Stiles over to a large table, where the only people he recognizes are Boyd and Allison. “Guys, this is Stiles. Stiles, this is Liam, Mason, Ethan, they’re also in the department. This is Allison’s girlfriend Lydia, and Boyd’s girlfriend Cora, who is also my little sister.”

Stiles waves, paying particular interest to the sister he didn’t know Derek had. “Hi, nice to meet you.”

“So, you’re Stiles,” Cora asks as Stiles takes his seat. She arches an eyebrow at Derek. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Really?” Stiles barks out an embarrassed laugh.

“Oh yeah,” Cora says. “Wait till I find Laura and tell her.”

“Laura?” Stiles turns to Derek.

“My other sister. She’s married to one of the precinct chiefs,” Derek explains.

The evening turns out splendidly. All of Derek’s colleagues are interesting and funny, and he hits it off especially with Lydia, Cora, and Mason. Erica pulls him onto the dance floor at one point, and Isaac and Derek laugh at them as Erica tries to make Stiles dance, but Stiles knows his limits. Dancing is one of them.

After Erica lets Stiles off the dance floor, Derek takes his hand and leads him to the other side of the room. “Want a glass of water, wine, beer?”

“Beer and water, please,” Stiles tells him. Derek leaves him and ends up talking to a few people at the bar before returning. Stiles leans against one of the tall tables and watches the room, bobbing his head along to the music.

“Stiles?” a dark-haired woman asks as she approaches the table.

“Yes?”

 

“I’m Laura, Derek’s sister.”

Stiles smiles widely. “Oh! Hi!” He holds out his hand to shake it, but Laura pulls him into a hug. “Well, hello there,” he says awkwardly as he pats her back.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” Laura says as she pulls away. Stiles can see the resemblance now, in the hair and eyes. All three Hale siblings look eerily similar. “Derek talks about you all the time, and Erica, too.”

“It’s nice to meet you, too.”

“You’re as attractive as Derek said and more,” she says with a smile. “He tells me you’re an elementary school teacher?”

Stiles nods. “Third grade at Oak Grove Elementary.”

“My daughter just started kindergarten there this year!” Laura smiles. “Mr. McCall’s class?”

“Scott’s your daughter’s teacher?” Stiles exclaims. “He’s my best friend! We’ve been friends since middle school! You’re daughter is in great hands.”

“Oh yes, we love him, and April, well, she just adores Scott.”

“Yeah, he’s the best,” Stiles smiles.

“I hope she’s not bothering you,” Derek interjects as he joins them. He’s carefully holding two beers and a water, so Stiles steps aside as Derek sets them on the table.

“No, we were just talking about April’s teacher,” Laura says. “He’s Stiles’ best friend.”

“Really?” Derek laughs. “Small world.”

“It is Beacon Hills, dude.”

Laura smiles. “That’s very true.” She glances around distractedly. “I have to find my husband, who has disappeared yet again.” She turns to Stiles. “He always says these things are supposed to be fun and romantic, but he ends up talking to the fellow captains or guys he used to work with all night.” She squeezes Stiles’ arm affectionately. “You’ll get used to it.” She hugs Derek and then Stiles. “I hope you get to meet Justin soon. Boyd, Cora, Erica, Isaac, and Derek usually come to our house every few weeks for dinner. You should come with Derek next time.”

“I’d love to,” Stiles replies.

“Enjoy the rest of the night,” Laura says, and then she takes Stiles’ hand. “And Stiles, it was so nice to meet you.” With a final smile, she disappears into the crowd.

“What was that all about?” Stiles asks Derek.

“What?”

“The hugs and stuff. I mean, you’d think that I was her oldest friend or something.”

Derek takes a drag from his beer. “That’s Laura. She loves everyone, and she especially loves you.”

“Why?” Stiles asks. Derek doesn’t look at him, and even in the low light, Stiles can tell the tips of his ears are turning pink. “What is it?”

“I don’t date much,” Derek admits. “I mean, I go on dates, but I rarely go on multiple dates.”

“Wait, what?” Stiles asks.

Derek looks at one of the gold buttons on his uniform. “I don’t really do relationships.”

“Why?” Derek just shrugs. Stiles wants to press, but realizes this probably isn’t the proper time or place. “Okay, but why the reaction from your sister?”

“She’s happy that I’m finally dating someone.” Derek shrugs again, clearly uncomfortable.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had sisters?” Stiles asks, slapping Derek’s chest lightly. “And a niece at my school?”

“I was going to tell you,” Derek says, leaning forward and kissing Stiles’ temple. “There’s just so much to talk about. Especially since you talk so much.”

“Hey!” Stiles frowns, and Derek kisses him lightly.

The music changes to something slower and softer, and Stiles sets his beer down on the table, takes Derek’s hand, and leads him onto the dance floor.

Derek’s arms go easily around Stiles’ waist, and Stiles rests his hands on Derek’s shoulders, cheek pressed against Derek’s. His stubble scratches at Stiles’ skin, and it makes Stiles smile. The music is a romantic ballad, and with the dim lights, Stiles lets himself melt into Derek’s arms. There are numerous people around them, but they barely register on Stiles’ radar. He’s completely lost in the moment with Derek.

“Why me?” Stiles asks halfway through the song. He pulls back slightly so he can look into Derek’s face. “We’ve been on multiple dates, so why me?”

Derek trails his fingers along the side of Stiles’ face, then curls them around the nape of his neck. “One day, I had to go to this third grade classroom for a demonstration. The teacher was this cute man who rolled around on the floor and made Star Wars jokes, but the thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was his beautiful eyes.”

Stiles bites his lip because, wow. No one has ever said anything like that to him before. He doesn’t know what to say, so instead, Stiles leans forward and kisses him.

*

“Want to come in?” Stiles asks when Derek pulls into his driveway after the ball. “For maybe some hot chocolate, or shameless making out?” He waggles his eyebrows.

Derek puts the car into park and unbuckles his seatbelt. Stiles is internally fist pumping, because he has plans for tonight. Plans that involve way less clothes. He and Derek have been on quite a few dates the last couple weeks, and one of them ended with making out on Derek’s couch, but that’s as far as they’ve been. Everything above the waist and on top of the clothes.

Stiles thinks tonight is the perfect night to move that forward. The ball really was perfectly romantic, with him and Derek dancing together for hours after Derek said possibly the most romantic thing Stiles has ever heard. The perfect ending would be falling asleep in Derek’s arms, sated and happy.

As soon as the front door is closed, Stiles kisses Derek. Derek responds enthusiastically, and it doesn’t take long for their tongues to slide inside each other’s mouths. Stiles bypasses the couch and heads straight down the hall to his bedroom.

Stiles is nervous when they get into the bedroom, so he stands in the middle of the room with his arms around Derek as he nips along his neck. He’s waiting for Derek to bolt, and when he doesn’t, Stiles pulls away and looks at his face. The open desire on Derek’s face causes Stiles’ cock to fatten, and it takes all his self-restraint not to start rubbing off on Derek’s leg.

“Is this okay?” Stiles asks. Derek glances at the bed, swallows, then nods. Slowly, Stiles starts unbuttoning the uniform jacket, then pushes his hands beneath it as he slides the jacket off his shoulders. Derek pulls away for a moment, carefully folding the jacket and neatly laying it on a nearby chair. He pulls his shirt tail out of his pants as Stiles takes off his own jacket.

Stiles takes his time unbuttoning Derek’s shirt, leaning forward between each button and dropping a kiss on Derek’s bare chest. When he gets to the first evidence of a scar, Stiles feels Derek tense beneath him. Stiles opens the shirt wide and traces the line of scar tissue with his tongue. Then he drops a kiss to Derek’s nipple before straightening. He takes Derek’s face between his palms, looks him in the eye, and says, “You’re beautiful.”

Derek doesn’t say anything, so Stiles pushes the shirt the rest of the way off Derek’s shoulders, then drags his fingertips across scars on Derek’s hip and along ones he finds on Derek’s back. When he looks at Derek’s face, there’s a look of confused wonder on his face. “You have to know all of you is beautiful,” Stiles whispers.

“I don’t like it when people touch them,” Derek whispers, and Stiles stills his hands but doesn’t remove them.

“Do you want me to stop?”

Derek shakes his head. “No, please don’t.”

Stiles gently leads Derek down onto the bed, and immediately starts kissing and licking Derek’s chest and torso, making sure to pay extra attention to his scars. By the time Stiles makes it to the waist of Derek’s pants, there’s a large tent in them, and Derek’s above him making small noises of pleasure.

Stiles crawls up Derek’s body and straddles him. Derek’s eyes fly open, and he immediately attacks Stiles’ mouth. In a flurry of hands and kisses, they divest each other of their pants and underwear until Stiles is on his back and they’re rutting against each other and panting into each other’s mouth.

“Fuck, Derek,” Stiles breathes, his fingers scraping down Derek’s back as Derek reaches between them and wraps both their cocks in his hand. Derek hums against Stiles’ neck, where he’s sucking a bruise into his skin. Stiles can barely think he’s so lost in Derek, so he just wraps his legs around Derek’s hips and fucks up into his hand. Stiles comes with a moan, Derek’s teeth biting gently on his nipple as his fist slides faster between them. Derek kisses Stiles again, breathing heavily into his mouth as his hips stutter and he comes.

Derek drops on top of Stiles, a heavy but comforting weight. Stiles can feel his rapid heartbeat against his skin, and he drops his head to the side and kisses Derek’s sweaty shoulder. Derek rolls onto his back, and Stiles pushes himself up so he can grab a few tissues from the nightstand. He hands one to Derek as he wipes most of the mess from his skin. He tosses it in the direction of the trashcan, uncaring of whether he hits it or not.

“Thank you,” Derek says as he lies on his stomach beside Stiles. “For this. For…everything.”

Stiles rolls onto his side and runs his fingers through Derek’s damp hair. “My dad told me about your family, and Erica told me about how you never take off your shirt.” Stiles glances at Derek’s back as his fingers dance over the skin. “I know it doesn’t mean anything, but that’s not what I see.”

“I know,” Derek says. At Stiles’ quizzical expression, he adds, “That day in the station, when you walked in on me getting into costume.”

“Um, I think you walked in on me changing clothes,” Stiles ribs. Derek rolls his eyes.

“That day, you’d seen more of me than anyone had in a long time. But you didn’t stare at the scars, or look at me in disgust. You looked at me like you wanted to jump me right there.”

“And that’s exactly what I was thinking,” Stiles grins.

Derek grabs Stiles’ hand and brings it to his mouth. He drags his lips across the knuckles. “That’s when I knew I had to get to know you better.”

“Because I was checking out your ass?” Stiles asks with a chuckle. Derek nods. “Well, thank god for my lack of subtlety.”

Derek laughs and crawls on top of Stiles. “Definitely.”

There’s so much that Stiles wants to tell Derek, like how brave he is and how he’s one of the most wonderful men he’s ever known. He wants to tell him over and over how beautiful he is until he believes it. He wants Derek to tell him about the night at the fire, about the two people he lost, and why he felt he had to become a fireman. He wants to know more about Derek’s family, meet his niece and his parents and go to Laura’s house for dinner.

But Stiles knows tonight isn’t the time. Tonight, he’s going to hold Derek in his arms and kiss and touch him until he’s discovered every inch of his body. There’ll be other nights when he gets to know Derek, and nights when he tells Derek about his mother and his own past.

But now, he wraps his arms around Derek as Derek leans down and kisses him.

*

“Mr. S!” Mabel, Jasmine, and Lin all approach his desk right before school ends on Monday. Stiles glances at them, tired and ready for the school day to be over. Derek had stayed with Stiles Saturday night, and then yesterday, they did nothing but have sex, eat, and watch television. Of course, they hadn’t gone to bed until late despite the fact that both of them had to go to work this morning.

“Yes?”

The three girls look at each other, then grin. “Can Firewoman Erica come to our pizza party tomorrow?” Mabel asks.

“And Fireman Derek!” Jasmine interjects.

“Because he’s your boyfriend,” Lin says.

“And Firewoman Allison and Fireman Boyd, too!” Jasmine adds.

“Please?” All three girls stick their lips out and bat their eyes pitifully.

Stiles laughs. “I’ll ask, okay?”

“Yayes!” The three girls hug him around the neck and return to their tables.

Stiles glances around, then surreptitiously pulls out his phone to text Derek.

The class wants their favorite firefighters to come to their pizza party tomorrow. Can you? Don’t feel obliged to say yes. They’ll get over it.

It’s our day off, so we’re in.

You’re the best, Derek, do you know that?

You can remind me tomorrow night. ;)

I intend to.

Good.

I won’t be opposed to you showing up tonight either, in your fireman’s uniform. Pretty sure there’s a fire you can put out with your hose. ;)

I’m never having sex with you again.
Because of that comment.
Full uniform or just the casual clothes?

Whatever you want. You won’t be wearing it long.

“Mr. Linski, what are you laughing at?” Kyle asks.

“Nothing,” Stiles replies, locking his phone and slipping it into his pocket. “I have good news!”

“They said yes?” Lin asks.

Stiles nods. “They said yes!”

The class cheers, and Stiles tries to focus, but really, he’s just thinking about Derek showing up at his door in uniform.

-fin