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Balloon Animals Are Awesome

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Stiles has been in love with Lydia forever. Forever. Well, since third grade, which is pretty much the same thing. It’s one of those epic romances, probably, that hasn’t got a lot going for it in terms of action yet, but it’s got longevity. It’s a sweeping grand saga of a love story that will echo down the ages. Poets will write sonnets about it. Bards will compose songs about it. It’s the sort of love story that should come fitted with Technicolor sunsets and an orchestral soundtrack that will swell into a triumphant barrage of noise when Stiles and Lydia finally get together at the end. With the kissing. And the other stuff that comes after the kissing. Stiles has spent a lot of time thinking about the other stuff.

A lot.

Way, way too much time.

He’s pretty much at the point where he’s going through a bottle of shower gel a week. And he’s not scrubbing his back with it.

So after years of unrequited love that would make a great movie, and almost as long of Quality Alone Time in the shower – which would make an entirely different sort of movie. Not the sort that would win critical acclaim, probably—Stiles is incredibly shocked one day to realize that he isn’t in love with Lydia anymore.

He’s in love with Derek Hale.

Derek Hale who pretty much hates him.

It could not be any worse.

Oh, wait. It totally could be.

And it totally is.

Derek Hale is a werewolf. A werewolf who has only barely been suppressing the urge to rip Stiles’s throat out since the day they met. At first Stiles had thought they were engaging in amusing banter. Everyone loves Stiles’s banter. It’s charming. And then, one night, Scott drew him aside and said, “Man, you really need to dial it back with Derek.”

“What do you mean?”

“The way you never shut up.”

“It’s called banter, Scott, and it’s charming.”

“Banter is like the tango, Stiles. It takes two.”

Bantering about banter. For a second Stiles had gotten distracted by the awesomeness of that, the sheer absurd meta-ness, but then the truth had hit him: Scott was right. Derek never responded to Stiles’s constant verbal prodding, except with grunts, growls, and the Intricate Dance of Disapproval performed entirely with his eyebrows.

So how is he possibly in love with Derek Hale?

Stiles does the only thing he can think to do:

He stages an intervention.

Except obviously he isn’t going to tell anyone about this, so he stages a solo intervention one night. It mostly involves caffeine, Cheetos, self-recrimination, and internet porn that is absolutely 100% straight and, even when it isn’t, definitely does not involve older hot guys with dark hair and piercing eyes who made growling noises.

No. Definitely not.

Scott sends him a text message a little after nine: Where r u?

“I am wallowing in my bed surrounded by cheesy dust, tissues, and shame,” Stiles tells his phone.

He types out: Home.

What r u doing?

“Oh, Scott. Scott, Scott.” He sighs loudly. “Scotty McScott-Scott. You really don’t want to know the answer to that.”

He sends back: Studying.

Scott doesn’t answer for a while, and Stiles feels a little stab of guilt. Especially since Scott might actually be the one feeling left out for once. “Studying” has been their code for “pizza and video games and trash talk” since forever. Until just now when Stiles changed the meaning to “self-loathing and chronic masturbation”. Which he’s certainly not going to tell Scott.

He flicks a tissue onto the floor, making a face at it as though he had nothing to do with how it got to be in such a disgusting condition.

R u ok? Scott finally texts back.

Stiles can almost hear the suspicious worry behind the question. Scott has kind of (by which Stiles means absolutely) eclipsed him this past year. He’s always been better looking with unfairly awesome hair, and even slightly better at lacrosse, which didn’t really matter since they were both benched so often, but suddenly he’s a wolf, and suddenly he’s the best player on the field, and suddenly he’s got a girlfriend, and he’s even probably (by which Stiles means absolutely) having sex.

And it absolutely, totally, unreservedly sucks ass.

Stiles has been feeling a little left out for a while now. He tries to make himself useful to Scott, to help him through all the wolfy weirdness, but how useful is he, really? He researches stuff, but it’s not as though that’s difficult. Everything is only a Google search away, right? He’s certainly proven that tonight.

Time to delete his search history: free porn gay hot brunet

And… now it’s deleted it never happened.

No, siree. The last three hours never happened at all.

Stiles shuts his laptop and looks at his phone again. He still hasn’t answered Scott.

R u ok?

Stiles really has no idea how to answer that.

Scott, I am suffering a momentary psychosexual aberration. I hope to be cured after another box of tissues and a good night’s sleep.

Scott, go and do wolfy things and don’t worry about me. I am okay. I am beyond okay. I am peachy. 

Scott, for future reference “ruok” is not a word. It is the sound an asthmatic frog makes.

In the end he goes for a version of the truth that isn’t exactly what’s going on, but, with the right sort of smooth-talking lawyer, would get him acquitted on a technicality: 

Just having an early night. See you tomorrow.

***

What it is, Stiles decides the next week, is some weird kind of transference. Or some other psychological term he’s picked up from daytime television and possibly never properly understood. Anyway. What’s happening here is clear. He obviously wants to learn everything he can about wolves, thereby getting more quality time with Scott with the added ego boost of not always feeling like a weak, scrawny waste of space, and his brain must have figured out that the way to be most valuable to Scott is to find a way to ally himself to the closest thing Scott has to a wolf mentor: Derek. And since Derek obviously doesn’t enjoy conversation, or have any discernible hobbies apart from brooding and advanced eyebrow calisthenics, Stiles’s subconscious zeroed in on the one thing every guy, and every wolf-guy, wants:

Bow chicka bow wow.

So there it is. Mystery solved.

It’s not love. It’s not even physical attraction. It’s purely psychological: he wants Derek to want him. And, because he’s an emotionally stunted chronically hormonal teenager, his sixteen-year-old brain can only process that need as sexual, when it isn’t.

It so clearly isn’t.

As theories go, it’s pretty solid.

Yep. Pretty damn solid.

And it will stay that way, as long as he doesn’t examine it too closely, right?

So now that’s figured out, he can get on with his life.

Right?

So he does.

***

In July, Stiles gets stabbed in the chest in the woods.

“Funny story,” he wheezes in the passenger seat of Derek’s Camaro.

“Shut up, Stiles,” Derek says, which Stiles chooses to believe is just another way of saying, dewy-eyed with emotion, “Shh, don’t try to talk.” But probably isn’t. Anyway, if this is Stiles’s action hero and/or death scene, he’s going to soliloquize the fuck out of it.

“Funny story,” he begins again, doggedly, “but until tonight I didn’t even believe in dryads. Until one attacked me.”

“In what?” Derek glares at him.

“Dryads,” Styles informs him. “Tree spirits that are apparently nasty and vengeful and in league with the Alpha pack.”

Derek’s eyebrows do a complicated dance.

“Stabbed me,” Stiles says. “Right here. Dude, it came out of nowhere. So fast.”

“There is no such thing as dryads,” Derek tells him. “You tripped over and impaled yourself on a stick.”

Stiles reaches out and grabs him, clawing at his knee. “When we tell this story later, we’re going to go with my version, okay?”

Derek looks down at Stiles’s hand on his knee, looks back at Stiles’s face again, then glares out the windshield.

“Okay,” Stiles says, removing his hand. Personal boundaries and growly wolves and whatnot. “So we’re agreed.”

The next morning though, when he’s recounting his tale of dryad-related horror for Scott, he can’t help but think from his skeptical glances that Derek got to him first.

What an asshole. 

***

In September, just when Stiles is thinking he’s finally on top of this deeply disturbing man-crush, he accidentally gets messed up in this thing with a bunch of hunters. And he’s done. Seriously done. Because even if he thought Derek was a complete and utter douchenozzle, and, okay, a part of him still does think that, when the window shatters and Derek leaps through looking all vengeful and wolfed-out and he’s there to rescue Stiles…well, what’s guy supposed to do? Stiles isn’t made of stone. Well, except for that one part of him.

And now Derek’s looking down at his crotch. Awkward.

“Anyway,” Stiles says brightly. “Thanks for the rescue.”

Or at least that’s what he intends to say. What comes out instead is: “Anyway. Thanks...” and lots of hitching breaths and gasps and a few things that sound suspiciously like tears. Because okay, he was legitimately fucking terrified for a moment there. He’s been terrified before— hardly a day goes by now when he’s not terrified by something on some level—but these guys were terrifying in a whole new way. Stiles is almost used to things that want to kill him. He’s not so used to things that smile at him like they want to violate his virginal body in unspeakable ways first. And mouth-breathe all over him.

Derek looks awkward. He reaches out, and for a second Stiles thinks he might actually deign to pat him on the shoulder in a comforting yet manly way, but instead he withdraws his hand before he makes contact.

“You smell like them,” Derek says, his mouth turning up in a silent snarl.

“Oh, okay,” Stiles says. “Well, next time I’ve been kidnapped I’ll try and shower and spruce myself up a bit before the rescue, shall I? Maybe spritz a little Armani Acqua di Gio while I’m at it?”

Derek’s eyebrows shoot up. Seriously, they are like the only part of him that is able to express emotion. Then they knit together again in a customary scowl. “Acqua what?”

“It’s a cologne,” Stiles explains, grabbing his hoodie from the floor. “Apparently it’s woody and herby at the same time. I might have been doing some early Christmas shopping online for my dad last night, although he’s always been a fan of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Blue.”

How the hell has this even turned into a discussion about cologne? And why is Derek looking at him like he’s speaking a foreign language.

“What are you talking about, Stiles?”

“Cologne. I’m talking about cologne. Obviously.”

“Why?”

Stiles waves his hands. “Because this is how conversation works, Derek. Between people. We talk about the weather, and that new coffee place that’s opened up where the dry cleaners was, and Obamacare, and who J-Law is dating, and what sort of cologne I should buy.”

Derek’s eyebrows leap again. “You don’t need cologne, Stiles. You already smell kind of woody.”

Stiles holds his hoodie in front of his erection. “Well, that happens to be a fear response that’s perfectly normal.”

Derek actually takes a step back. “I didn’t mean...”

“Can we go now?” Stiles asks. “Before this conversation gets any more awkward?” He strides for the door.

“I meant you smell like the woods,” Derek mutters behind him. “All of the time.”

No. No, apparently Derek isn’t quite finished with the awkwardness yet.

It’s going to be a long ride home.

***

“Stiles?” His dad sticks his head around his door. “It’s Friday night. Any plans?”

The worst part about having a dad who is the town sheriff is that sometimes Stiles thinks John is using him as an informant. As though Stiles is cool enough to be invited to the sort of activities the police would be interested in.

Stiles rolls over onto his back, dislodging the book he was reading. “Yeah, I was thinking of going to the big secret party over on Miller Street tonight. Apparently it’s only twenty bucks for all the booze and amphetamines you want. Ten, if you’re willing to have underage sex with the dealers. It’s not totally my scene, but you can’t argue with bargains like those.”

His dad takes a moment of silence, during which he’s probably thinking about where he went wrong. “Actually, I was just wondering if you and Scott are still hanging out. He hasn’t been around much lately.”

“Since he got together with Allison, you mean.” Stiles glowers, but doesn’t mention the other big thing that’s taking up so much of his best friend’s life. Scott has a problem with body hair and fleas when the moon’s full these days, but Stiles intends on taking that to his probably-early grave.

“Ah,” his dad says with a knowing nod. “And ah…”

“And I don’t,” Stiles confirms.

“You don’t have a girlfriend?”

Stiles sighs, glares, rolls his eyes, and then briefly considers other ways he could possibly channel a thirteen-year-old girl at this point, short of listening to One Direction. “Yes. I would think the fact that I’m home alone on a Friday night, and also the fact that I just said that I didn’t have a girlfriend when you asked, would both point strongly in that direction.”

His sarcasm isn’t enough to deflect his dad. The man’s been building up an immunity for years now. He steps inside the room. “So...?”

Stiles does not like where this is going. He doesn’t exactly know where it’s going, but he trusts his instincts. “So?” he asks, voice low with suspicion.

“Ah.” John wrinkles his nose and rubs his forehead.

Sometimes Stiles can hardly believe his dad is the sort of man who can face off with bad guys and be all intimidating and shit to suspects when he apparently can’t ask his sixteen-year-old son a straight question.

“Come on, Dad. Spit it out.” He tries for a grin and it kind of misfires, because suddenly all he think is what if it’s bad news? What if this isn’t one of those Awkward Talks About The Sex that he thought his dad was going for by asking if he has a girlfriend? What if it’s something so much fucking worse that there’s no smartass comeback in the world that’s big enough to diffuse it? He had that doctor’s appointment last week. What if it was bad news? What if this is his dad trying to share all his fatherly wisdom with Stiles in the short time he’s got left? Stiles can’t hold his grin. “You’re killing me here.”

John looks suddenly contrite. “No, it’s nothing, nothing bad.”

They’ve both spent too many hours of their lives here in Stiles’s room, talking through the bad stuff. Half of Stiles’s life has been shadowed by it. It’s the sort of thing that leaves a hole. Even after all this time Stiles can still feel the empty shape that his mom made in his life by being torn out of it. Every day.

He’s not the only one.

John looks shaken too.

“Okay.” Stiles taps his fingers along the cover of his book, and tries to recover his equanimity. “Oh god. You’re not really going to talk to me about girls, are you? Because I think we already had this conversation when I was twelve, and I’m only just starting to recover flashes of the memories I repressed back then.”

His dad laughs. “Well, it’s been a while since I was traumatized as well, you know.”

Stiles sighs, and sits up. “Okay. Hit me. What are those crazy birds and bees up to nowadays?”

His dad sits down on the end of his bed. “Okay. The birds and the bees.” He draws a deep breath, like he’s bracing himself to dive into a cold lake. “Well, sometimes it’s not about the birds and the bees, is it? Sometimes it’s about the birds and the birds, or the bees and the bees.”

“Oh, sweet zombie Jesus. Please tell me this metaphor isn’t going where I think it’s going?” Stiles is pretty sure his eyes are about to bug out of his head. “You think I’m a bee who likes other bees? Is that why you asked me if I had a girlfriend?”

“I don’t think anything,” his dad says. “I just want you to know that, if you were, you know…”

“A bee who likes other bees,” Stiles repeats.

“If you were a bee who likes other bees,” his dad agrees, making a face, “then that would be okay.”

Stiles wrestles with this for a moment, wondering if he has any right to feel outraged here. His dad thinks he’s gay because he doesn’t have a girlfriend? He supposes it’s better than the truth: that he doesn’t have a girlfriend because he’s a complete and total loser. Yeah, he’s pretty sure that’s the truth… and he’s absolutely not thinking of Derek Hale right now. Derek is not at all relevant to this conversation. Not. At. All.

He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Okay, so thanks, first of all.”

His dad looks wary.

“Thanks for assuming the reason I’m single is because I’m closeted, not a gigantic dork who can only get girls to look at him if they’re pointing and laughing. And your speech? Seriously, Dad, that speech needs some work, but it may be the coolest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

John’s face softens.

“For the record,” Stiles continues, and then stops. He can’t lie to his dad. Well, actually, if the past few months have proven anything it’s that he absolutely can. And does. Constantly. But maybe it’s the sheer volume of lies that he’s told to cover up all the crazy shit that’s happening in Beacon Hills, to protect his dad from it, that Stiles can’t bring himself to tell another lie now. He meets his dad’s steady gaze and regroups. “Okay, so, for the record, there is some stuff I’m sort of trying to figure out at the moment, and it’s awesome that, you know, that maybe if I ever did bring home a, um, a…”

“A bee?” his dad asks, his mouth turning up in a faint smile.

Stiles’s face is burning. “Sure. If I ever was to bring home a bee, it’s beyond cool that you’d be open to that.”

“Okay,” his dad says, and claps him on the shoulder. He looks relieved. Probably because he’s managed to tackle this subject entirely with euphemisms. “Well, I would be. That’s what I wanted you to know.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“And…” Uh oh. His dad is looking awkward again. “And, um, about being safe. Do you know—”

“Yes!” Stiles cut in. “Let’s spare ourselves the safe sex talk for tonight, please? I’ve taken health classes. I’m up on all the latest theories about putting condoms on bananas and, trust me, Dad, it’s all theoretical, okay?”

There have been no birds, no bees, and no bananas. Just Stiles, his box of tissues, and his internet connection.

His dad’s expression looks like it’s caught somewhere between relief and pity. “Well, it’s good that you’ve waited.”

Waited, Stiles thinks. Yeah, let’s call it that.

Relief. It’s definitely relief on his dad’s face. He clears his throat and makes for the door again. “Good talk, son.”

“Yep.”

“I’m making dinner,” his dad says. “Come downstairs when you’re—”

“Not as mortified?”

His dad cracks a smile. “Hungry.”

“I will.” Stiles picks up his book again but he can’t actually concentrate.

Good talk.

Weird talk.

For a second Stiles tries to imagine bringing Derek Hale home to meet his dad.

“Oh hey. Dad. You remember Derek? The murder suspect? Yeah, we’re like a thing now. Oh, and he’s twenty-two. But you’re still cool, right?”

He snorts at the thought of it.

Lucky it’s absolutely never going to happen. 

***

 It happens. 

***

Stiles is running for his life through the woods—must be a day ending in a Y—when somehow, he suddenly isn’t. He’s lying on his back and the air has been so completely smashed out of him that he can’t suck any back into his lungs. He gasps, winded, waiting for whatever the fuck is chasing him to appear out of nowhere and end him.

Something grips him by the ankle with talon-like claws. Stiles tries to scream, but the only sound that escapes him is a pneumatic wheeze, and then he’s being dragged along the forest floor. He scrabbles for something to hold onto, but only finds a handful of damp leaves and pine needles.

Oh god oh god oh god oh god.

He’s going to die.

He’s so fucking sorry he was ever stupid and reckless and—oh god—this is going to kill his dad.

Then there’s a flash of moment in the darkness beside him. Something travelling fast barrels into whatever’s holding Stiles, and it lets go. In the darkness, Stiles can’t see anything except black shapes. Snarls and the sound of snapping jaws fill the air.

A wolf.

One of the pack.

But he knows who it is. It’s who always rescues him.

It’s Derek.

***

“What the hell are you doing out here, Stiles? Where’s Scott?”

“I am capable of looking after myself, you know.” Except that’s not very satisfying to say when he’s lying on his back on the forest floor after almost being killed by whatever the hell that thing was.

Derek and his eyebrows clearly know it’s a lie.

“Okay, so I can get up, you know.” Stiles’s ankle is bleeding pretty badly, but it’s only the skin that’s broken. His bones are all still in exactly the right configuration.

Derek makes a growling sound. His eyes flash as he inspects Stiles’s ankle.

“Still a little wolfed out, huh?” Now that the action’s over, Stiles feels weird. He’s shaky, and cold, and his heart is still trying to beat out of his chest. It’s the adrenaline dump, he guesses. Any second now and he’ll crash, big time.

Derek narrows his glowing eyes. “A little.” He’s kneeling beside Stiles’s feet, and now he leans down close, like he’s…

“Dude, are you smelling my blood? Because that’s creepy!”

“It smells…” Derek sniffs again. “Like you.”

“Well, that’s because it is me,” Stiles says, drawing his knees up. He considers the implication of what Derek says for a moment, and can’t stop the shiver going through him. Because what if it didn’t smell like him? “What the hell was that thing?”

“I don’t know.”

“Comforting.”

Derek huffs, and climbs to his feet, and holds down his hand. Stiles takes Derek’s hand and Derek pulls him to his feet.

Stiles winces. “Please tell me you’re parked super close.”

“About a mile and a half.”

“Dude, that is not super close at all.” Stiles rubs his cheeks. They’re cold. Then he catches the way Derek’s looking at him. “What?”

Derek doesn’t answer. Just shrugs off his leather jacket and holds it open. Stiles is too cold to argue. He wraps himself in Derek’s jacket. In Derek’s warmth, and Derek’s scent, and has Derek ever jerked off while wearing this jacket?

“So, um,” he says. Baseball. Capital cities. The periodic table. Anything to not think about Derek and his jacket and his dick. “A mile and a half, you said?”

Derek doesn’t answer, which is par for the course really. Derek hardly ever answers. Just stares at Stiles for a second, then starts walking.

Stiles shoves his hands inside the pockets of Derek’s jacket and limps after him. “Ow. Ow. Ow.” He takes a breath. “Ow ow ow.”

Derek stops. Turns. Huffs. Glares some more.

“What, dude? I’m injured, remember? Physically, and, I’m gonna be honest here, a little emotionally.” That cannot be a packet of gum in Derek’s pocket. Derek wouldn’t do anything as normal as chew gum. “I mean, you know I’m hurt, and you’re just striding along like Paul Bunyan. Is a little consideration too much to ask?”

Sometimes Derek gets this look like he’s trying really, really hard not to laugh. And sometimes he gets this look like he’s going to punch Stiles in the face and then rip his throat out. And one day, Stiles swears, he’s going to figure out the difference between those two expressions.

Derek takes a step toward him, and Stiles takes one back. “You don’t want to get blood on your favorite jacket, do you? Or is it your only jacket? Same thing, in that case, am I right?”

Derek tilts his head. “What?”

“Your jacket.” Stiles hunches his shoulders. “It’s a very nice jacket, and it’d be a crime against fashion to get my blood all over it.”

“Why would…” Derek stops, and shakes his head rapidly like a dog trying to get water out of its ears. “I’m not going to punch you, Stiles.”

“Are you sure?” Stiles sags with relief. And then sneezes all over Derek’s jacket. It’s kind of snotty.

“I was,” Derek says. “Now I’m not.”

“Oh, funny.” Stiles sniffs.

Derek steps toward him, jostles against him, and Stiles flails. He’s aware of heat and strength and a scrape of stubble against his hand that’s gone before he even registers what it was. Oh shit. He has no idea what’s going on, but did he just smack Derek in the face?

“Oh, um.” Stiles’s arm is stretched out along the wide plain of Derek’s shoulders, and Derek’s holding it there. His grip on Stiles’s wrist is firm and hot. Just like the rest of him. Stiles feels like he’s leaning against an incredibly ripped radiator.

Also, seriously, what the hell is going on?

“Come on,” Derek says, and oh, okay, Derek is helping him walk. That’s what’s going on here. Which is kind of nice, really, and would be a hell of a lot less awkward if his proximity wasn’t doing embarrassing biological things to Stiles.

A mile and a half is a long way to walk with a throbbing… ankle.

Yeah, ankle. 

***

 “So, how’s the pack?”

Derek doesn’t answer. Of course Derek doesn’t answer. Stiles doubts he’d tell someone the time, even under torture.

“Where are they anyway? Chasing rabbits?”

That’s definitely a growl.

“Well, tell them I said hi.”

Actually, Stiles hates Derek’s pack. Most of the time, anyway. They’re dicks. Of course they’re dicks. Derek took a bunch of teenage malcontents and gave them super powers. What else would they be? Sometimes Stiles thinks about how quiet Erica was before she got turned, and how she told him that he’d never even noticed her. Of course he hadn’t. He was too busy being not noticed by Lydia.

Nobody noticed Isaac either, or all his bruises.

Or Boyd.

High school was living hell for Derek’s pack back when they were regular kids, but making them wolves hasn’t made things better. It’s just made them stronger, and crueler. And a gazillion times more confident. Stiles is pretty sure they’re all having sex as well. Loud, aggressive wolf sex. With biting.

At this point, Stiles will settle for any sort of sex he can get. Which is none, obviously.

God, why does Derek have to be so hot—in both senses of the word—and strong and muscular and why does helping Stiles to the car involve so much touching? Stiles feels like he’s about to implode here.

“Oh my god. How long is this walk? I’m going to die a vir—” Holy shit. He did not almost say virgin. “Old age. I’m going to die of old age.”

Derek looks at him narrowly. Sometimes Stiles wonders how his jaw doesn’t just pop right out, he clenches it so hard.

“Awkward silences are my favorite,” Stiles sighs, and they continue on through the reserve. 

*** 

His dad is on night shift. When Stiles finally limps through the front door, the house is dark and quiet, and for a second Stiles hates it. He’s tired, and he’s hurt, and sometimes it would be fucking nice to have someone say Hey, are you okay? and maybe make him a hot chocolate with a marshmallow in it.

Stiles doesn’t make a hot chocolate. He barely has the energy to climb the stairs and get in the shower. If he didn’t have half the woods stuck to him, and that whole bloody ankle issue to deal with, he would probably just collapse face-down on his bed and crash. The shower revives him a little, but not enough that he can be bothered go downstairs and fix himself something to eat. He’s more tired than he is hungry.

After his shower he dresses then dabs antiseptic lotion on his ankle, stings at the hiss, and hobbles to his room. He burrows under the blankets and drowses in the warmth. Then he remembers he really should text Scott and let him know he’s not dead. So that’s exactly what he texts:

Not dead. FYI.

He’s not really surprised when his phone rings immediately. “Hey, Scott.”

“Are you okay? What happened?”

“I was in the woods. This thing happened. And Derek rescued me.”

“Derek did?” Scott’s voice is low with suspicion. He and Derek have an uneasy relationship. Scott doesn’t want to play beta wolf to Derek’s alpha. He’s not interested in being in his pack. And that’s before the whole Argent thing. They’re never going to see eye to eye on that.

“Yeah.” Stiles peels down the end of his comforter and checks. Derek’s jacket is still hanging off the back of his chair. So he didn’t imagine that part. “He was pretty cool about it. Not a single death threat.”

Which is right when Stiles spots the glowing eyes at his window.

His stomach lurches and clenches. His skin prickles. His heartbeat races. All symptoms of being unexpectedly confronted with the supernatural. The erection suddenly tenting his pajama pants? Not so much.

“So anyway, I’d better go,” he says as his window slowly opens. He ends the call without waiting for Scott’s response. Derek climbs in his window, and somehow doesn’t end up in a tangle of limbs on Stiles’s bedroom floor. Stiles would, if he tried it. Somebody that hot deserves to be as clumsy as fuck. Also, if he was as dumb as a rock that would be okay too. But of course he isn’t. It’s just more proof that the universe is patently unfair. Not that Stiles needed any proof. “Hey, did you come back for you jacket?”

Derek’s gaze flicks to his jacket, then straight back to Stiles. “No.”

Stiles’s heart is beating so fast that he knows Derek can hear it. Shit. Who’s he kidding? Derek could probably hear it from the other side of Beacon Hills. He swallows. “Um…”

“Stiles.”

“Yes? Yep? That’s me. That’s my name.” He’s blathering. It’s what he does best. It’s Stiles 101. Actually, maybe Stiles 102. 101 is flailing. He’s doing that now too. Somehow a casual stretch just to show how fucking calm he is about Derek Fucking Hale being in his bedroom turns into a spasm. “Well, not actually my name in that it’s not on my birth certificate, but seriously, god, my actual name looks like Satan vomited up a Scrabble set. So we don’t mention it. At all. Ever.”

Derek moves closer. No, not moves, prowls. He fucking prowls, muscles rolling smoothly underneath his skin, eyes narrowed, and Stiles has never felt more like prey in his life. Well, in the last half an hour anyway. He’s felt like prey plenty of times. Just not the sort of prey that might want to get caught.

And great. That awkward erection? It’s wet now. Just a tiny drop of precum that’s immediately swallowed by the fabric of his pajama pants, but Stiles doesn’t miss the way Derek’s nostrils flare and his narrowed eyes flash red. He knows. He can smell it, which is simultaneously the hottest and most disgusting thing Stiles has ever encountered.

How the hell do werewolf kids go through puberty with their dignity intact if every other wolf in the vicinity can smell a boner? Stiles has always thought of himself as pretty cool and easy-going, a realist when it comes to the awkward teenage sex stuff—his conversation with his dad about bees notwithstanding—but there’s a difference between making the occasional joke about needing his special private time and asking if he’s attractive to gay guys, and broadcasting loudly on every frequency to everyone in the vicinity that he’s sexually aroused. Stiles is pretty sure he couldn’t have handled that sort of pressure at thirteen. Actually, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle it now.

Derek’s gaze drops to Stiles’s crotch. The comforter is hiding any actual sign of it, but yeah, this could probably not be more humiliating. But it turns out that maybe Stiles is totally kinky or something, because when every part of his body should be shriveling up in embarrassment, his erection just keeps on keeping on. 

He wants to make some joke about still smelling woody, but their weird conversation about cologne was weeks ago, and Stiles isn’t sure he should bring it up now. Trying to diffuse an awkward erection situation by referencing an exchange they had so long ago? By showing that he remembers every word of it? Why the hell doesn’t he get a My Little Pony journal, start a page entitled “Squishy and Tingly Feelings I Have For Derek Hale” then read it aloud for Derek and offer up what sad little shred of dignity he has left? Offer it up for immolation on the incredibly burning hot altar of Derek and his abs.

“Stiles,” Derek says again. His left eyebrow quirks. Just the left. Seriously, the amount of eyebrow control he has is amazing. Probably a supernatural thing too.

“What?” Stiles rasps. His mouth is dry.

Derek stalks closer until he’s standing right at the foot of Stiles’s bed, the fabric of his jeans rasping gently against the comforter. He tilts his head slightly. “You talk too much.”

Stiles closes his mouth. He’s pretty sure he stopped talking a while ago, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. And it’s totally possible that Derek is talking in general terms, since that seems to be most people’s opinion about Stiles. He’s been getting a variation of that on every report card from every teacher since kindergarten, except for the year his mom died. The year Stiles stopped talking because he had nothing to say and he was afraid that every time he opened his mouth it wouldn’t be words that would come out anyway, but some long-drawn miserable howl that would put a wolf to shame. The words came back, in time. Stiles uses them to drown the silence, to fill the hole inside him. He talks and talks and talks because he’s half afraid of silence and the things he might hear if he listens to it.

Like his mom’s rasping breath and the beep of the heart monitor that punctuated all their last hours together. That sound he’d hated so much, each tiny beep a sharp jab into his nerves, until it was gone and there was nothing left but that horrible fucking silence.

It’s been wrapped around him ever since, trying to choke him. He talks to kill the silence, to smother the fear. Words are his only protection.

“I…” Stiles can’t tear his gaze away from Derek’s mouth. It’s downturned. Nothing new there. He probably traded the ability to smile in some supernatural deal with a demon to get the most threatening eyebrows in the history of the universe. Also, that stubble is totally working for him. And those cheekbones deserve some sort of recognition for everything they’re doing. God. Again, how is the universe at all fair when people as hot as this are allowed to exist? People that have all the blood rushing straight out of Stiles’s brain and down to his dick so fast that it’s possible he could pass out. “I know I do. Talk too much. Always have. When I was three I almost drowned at my kiddy swimming lesson because I kept trying to talk underwater. My dad says I was trying to talk to the mermaids, even though I’m pretty sure there were none in the Beacon Hills Municipal Pool.” He shrugs. “Although, Beacon Hills. Anything’s possible, right?”

Derek’s eyes narrow further. “Stiles.”

“What?”

Derek reaches down and grips the ends of Stiles’s comforter and, in one sharp yank, pulls it off him.

It’s unexpected.

It’s cold.

Stiles’s erection is totally right there.

“Dude!” Stiles pulls his legs up. “What the hell?” There’s a tirade ready to be unleashed, just on the tip of his tongue, but it dies in a single fucking heartbeat when Derek drops the comforter onto the floor, and kneels forward so that his knees are on the end of Stiles’s bed. Stiles can feel the way the mattress dips toward him like his whole world is about to tip. “Derek, what are you…”

Derek is on his bed. Walking up it on his knees, and how the hell can he make a move like that seem smooth and sinuous? Then his hands are closing around Stiles’s ankles, and he’s pulling his legs straight.

Stiles has no words for this. Apart from “Uh.” Which, while although not a word, Stiles likes to think contains multitudes. He compiles a short list of things uh translates to in his head, in a vain attempt to distract himself from what’s happening—what is happening?—and stop himself from flailing:

Derek, you appear to be touching me. Why is that?

I find this physical contact confusing. It feels sexual, but if it’s some weird wolf thing please let me know now before I completely embarrass myself.

Derek Hale is touching me!

Please don’t stop. Wherever this is going, please don’t stop.

Oh fuck, I really, really want to come.

With his legs pulled straight, there’s no hiding Stiles’s erection. Stiles jams his fists on either side of his thighs. The instinct to cover his dick is strong…and totally pointless. Because not only is he sure that Derek can smell how aroused he is, Derek’s also staring down at the way Stiles’s erection is tenting his pajama pants and that mouth of his, the mouth that never smiles, twitches at one corner as though he really, really likes what he sees.

Fuck.

All this time when Stiles wanted Derek but totally pretended that he didn’t, is it possible that Derek wanted him too? Because that would be awesome. And, in Stiles’s history, totally unprecedented. Love is so much easier when it’s unrequited. He can obsess over it, and let it consume him, but he doesn’t have to bring anyone else in. He doesn’t have to complicate things by talking about feelings, by laying them out like cards from a deck and hoping that they match another person’s. Maybe he should use Scott for this. Have him turn up to whatever condemned property Derek has moved into with a note in his pocket:

Stiles likes you.

Tick the box.

a)    You like Stiles too.

b)    You think Stiles is gross.

c)     Stiles who?

Then at least he’d know, right? Although the way Derek is crawling up him, his heated gaze fixed on Stiles’s deer-in-a-headlight wide eyes, should kind of give him a clue. It might not be chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day, but it’s definitely sexual.

And Stiles is over the fucking moon about that.

Terrified, but also over the fucking moon.

He moistens his lips with his tongue. “Uh.”

Derek looms above him, planting his hands on either side of Stiles’s shoulders. He’s hot. And not just aesthetically. He’s strong enough to hold himself above Stiles without touching, and he’s still warmer than the comforter he wrenched away. And that is definitely the start of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Not so talkative now, huh?”

Oh, okay, sure, whereas Derek suddenly wants to play Twenty Questions. Stiles juts out his chin, stubborn, and not-so-secretly hoping to bring their faces, their lips, closer together. “You think? I bet I could talk for hours yet. Actually, I’m hoping you’ll find a way to shut me up.” He leers.

Oh god. That’s probably his first and last attempt at sexy banter, and it’s incredibly lame. Maybe Stiles isn’t one of those guys who can do suggestive and flirty. Maybe he should just stop trying and go straight for unambiguous and filthy: Fuck me hard with your massive cock, Derek. Except there is no way in hell he can say that with a straight face, is there? God. Maybe he should have spent less time watching porn, because however informative it’s been in so many other ways it’s not really great with the dialogue.

But instead of rolling his eyes, Derek’s almost-smile ratchets up a fraction and he leans closer. His breath is hot on Stiles’s face, and Stiles tries hard not to wonder if he’s torn any rabbits, or worse, apart lately, but before he can ask Derek lowers his weight onto Stiles, and holyfuckingchristballs Stiles can feel his dick. Hot, heavy, big, pressing against his abdomen.

Stiles doesn’t know what’s more shocking. The feel of Derek’s dick against him, or the honest-to-Jebus smile that Derek gives him when he says “Uh!” again. Okay, so not exactly his finest moment, but Stiles doesn’t care because he’s pretty damn sure his finest moment is about three or four minutes away. Or however long it takes Derek to get out of his jeans. Maybe even five minutes, because those things look like they’ve been painted on.

Not that Stiles is complaining.

“Nothing to say again?”

“To be fair,” Stiles manages, “there is currently no blood in my brain.”

“Mmm.” Derek grinds gently against him. “I noticed that.”

Of course Derek can say something like that without sounding creepy or ridiculous. He’s Derek Fucking Hale. He’s perfect. The asshole.

Stiles lifts his hands to Derek’s shoulders—I’m touching Derek Hale!—and tries not to shiver at the overwhelming rush of arousal that lights him up from the inside. Because this is not some bodice ripper and he’s not some innocent little maiden whose body will ultimately be seduced into betraying her. No way. He and his body are absolutely on the same page here. They want to get fucked. They might not be experienced, but they have enthusiasm on their side and surely that has to count for something. Stiles is ready to throw himself into this wholeheartedly.

Derek dips his face closer to Stiles’s, and rubs his cheek against his. The rasp of stubble against his face makes Stiles’s breath catch in his throat. Holy. Fucking. Hell. He wriggles, parting his legs slightly, hoping to encourage Derek to push into the space between them, so that Stiles can hook his legs around him and eliminate any distance between them. Derek makes a growling sound deep in his throat, a soft note of warning maybe, and Stiles’s skin prickles into goose bumps.

“Did you just growl at me?”

“Slow down.” Derek glares at him. “It’s not a race, Stiles.”

Lucky, because Stiles has a feeling he’s a sprint guy, whereas Derek could turn this thing into a marathon if he wanted.

“Okay.”

“If we’re doing this, we’re doing it right.”

Stiles has no idea how to respond to that. He’ll bow to Derek’s undoubted experience, he guesses, and actually try and follow instructions for once, except… unease uncurls in his gut. Except Derek hardly sounds exactly enthusiastic, so what the hell? Why does Stiles suddenly get the incredibly ugly feeling that whatever is going on here isn’t exactly mutual? He shifts his hands, and pushes Derek up. “Wait.”

Derek stares down at him.

“Okay, so why are you here again?” His heartbeat stutters nervously, and he hates that Derek can hear it.

Derek gets that look that Stiles hates. It’s the one that looks like a cross between painful constipation and the rising urge to kill fluffy kittens. It’s Brooding Derek, and he wears it less attractively than he probably thinks. Slightly. His eyebrows knit together as he scowls. “I’m here because you wanted me here.”

“Okay.” Stiles regrets starting this conversation when Derek leans back, and the cool night air rushes in to replace his stolen warmth. “Um, wait, what?”

Constipation, definitely. “You didn’t want to die a virgin.”

Oh.

Ouch.

Seriously fucking ouch.

Stiles pulls his legs up again, and Derek clambers off the bed. He stands there, glowering at the wall just above Stiles’s head.

“Oh, wow, um.” Stiles scrubs his knuckles over his head and tries to ignore the fact that it feels like Derek has just ripped him open and pulled his lungs out of his chest. Not his heart. His lungs, because he can hardly breathe. “Look at you. I mean, seriously, look at you. Guys like you shouldn’t even exist outside of magazines, where guys like me can look at you and believe it’s ninety-five percent airbrushing. But when you have the audacity to go and exist in the actual world, you don’t even notice guys like me, and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna regret this for the rest of my life, but here goes.” He sucks in a deep breath. “Derek, I don’t want to be a pity fuck. You’re totally hot, and I’m, well, look at me, but it turns out I have just enough self-respect to turn you down.” A startled, choked laugh escapes him. “Self-respect that I’m sure will be self-recrimination by tomorrow, but hey. So, you know, thanks and stuff, but I’d rather save myself for someone who actually has the tiniest amount of respect for me, okay?”

Derek still isn’t looking at him.

“So, yeah.” Stiles’s throat stings. Humiliation doesn’t feel so great after all, it turns out. “Thanks anyway.”

Thanks a fucking lot for that kick in the ego.

Derek moves so quickly that Stiles isn’t sure he even sees him leave. One second he’s standing by the window again, his leather jacket in his hand, and the next second he’s gone.

Totally gone.

Stiles doesn’t cry.

He decides to save that for if he really does get a My Little Pony journal.

He gets out of bed, picks up his comforter, and closes the window.