Stiles wouldn’t be one to say he suffers from habitual bad luck, but he’s inclined to believe that if something unlucky is going to happen within a certain radius around him, he’s likely going to be the poor sap who’s struck. Case in point: he rushes home because: shit, rent is due; and finds a sleazy stranger (from the back, at least) with waxy hair and a winter coat that’s frayed enough to raise an eyebrow but not enough to have someone call the cops to clear out a homeless resident, standing in front of his door ripping some kind of notice off the glass. Stiles clears his throat and gets half a glance at the paper in question.
30 Day Personal Property Notice
Pursuant to the foreclosure sale-
is as far as he gets in reading before the paper crumples and disappears into the stranger’s pocket.
“Ah,” the man murmurs, trying to duck around Stiles and flee.
Confused, but not stupid, Stiles blocks his way. “What was that?”
“What?” The man’s eyes dart around, never meeting Stiles’.
“The paper you took off the door.” Of all the suspicious and creepy people Stiles has seen and met over the past three years, this guy might make the top fifteen. Though it’s in large part because he’s outside Stiles’ apartment and proximity means a lot when talking about suspicious and creepy people.
Stiles rumbles out a growling harrumph that makes the man jump again and take half a step back, and then a full step back when Stiles slides up into his space. Touching strangers isn’t Stiles’ thing, in fact, he rather prefers to keep a nice buffer around himself, but it’s New York City, and even asking for an inch is too much most days on the subway. Getting up in this guy’s space isn’t a problem, reaching into his pocket might border on sexual harassment, but they both know this guy isn’t telling anyone jack shit. Still, Stiles doesn’t do it. He just stares the man in the eyes and says, “The notice.”
A heartbeat later there’s a crumple piece of paper in Stiles’ hand and he’s almost on his ass as the man shoves him back and runs down the street. Stiles watches until the stranger disappears around the corner before turning his attention to the wad of paper in his hands and pulling it open.
30 Day Personal Property Notice
Pursuant to the foreclosure sale on November 4 th, 2014, this property is in possession of Bank XXX. Tenants have 30 days from November 4 th, 2014, to remove personal property from the building.
The positive part, he thinks as he unlocks the door and makes his way up four flights of stairs to his apartment, is that he’s two days late on rent and still has the check in his pocket. The negative part makes him hum low in the back of his throat as he pushes his way into his closet of an apartment and looks around. The negative part is that he has two days to move everything out and zero time to find out where he’s going to be living after those two days are up.
* * *
His office is small, but not so small that he can’t shove the chair meant for visiting students into the far corner and open up enough space to sleep on, legs fully extended and everything. It pays to be a lecturer with an office. Actually, he pays to be a lecturer with an office. Or, if one really wants to go into semantics, the school and the government pay him to pay for being a lecturer with an office. No matter what way it’s spliced, though, Stiles has an office for which he is entirely grateful because now it’s his apartment and what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in being a roof over his head and having heat. The bathroom is just down the hall and because it’s a university when he’s caught brushing his teeth in the sink two days after moving into his office the student who walks in on him doesn’t even blink. He’s just a dude who likes to keep tooth maintenance, even while on campus.
Explaining the fact that he’s bundled in a sleeping bag on the floor of his office at 4am in the morning on Thursday when Vincent the janitor unlocks the door and nearly bludgeons him in the head with a vacuum cleaner, however, is a little more difficult to explain.
“I’ve seen people asleep at their desks before…” Vincent muses as Stiles crawls out from his sleeping bag burrito just to realize he’s wearing his flannel snowman bottoms that make the janitor’s bemused expression dissolve into unabashed amusement. “You know, professors aren’t supposed to sleep in their offices, Professor Stilinski.”
“It’s not permanent,” Stiles assures, bundling up his sleeping bag and wondering exactly what he thinks he’s doing. There’s no hiding this. “I promise.”
Vincent just stands there with his vacuum, watching.
“I got evicted. I’m just here until I can find a place to live.”
Except he doesn’t have time to look for a place and he doesn’t have nearly enough money in savings to get a place. He could ask his dad, but then he’d have to admit that the Sheriff was right about the apartment that was too good to be true and rent that was too cheap to be New York, and there’s no way Stiles is suffering through that. He will sleep in his office for the next three months until he can afford it on his own before he lets his dad tell him, ‘I told you so,’ over the phone in not so disguised exasperated judgment before giving him money.
No. He worked for weeks to convince his dad that the apartment wasn’t a scam. Each year Stiles has brought it up: the fact that his apartment is perfect and wonderful and so affordable. Crawling back to his dad and telling him that Stiles’ rent has, apparently, been going to lining the pockets of his landlord’s illegal retirement after skipping out on mortgage payments and, probably, the country, is the last thing he’s going to do.
“I’m not here to judge, Professor,” Vincent says.
“Soon. Just a couple more days,” Stiles says, clutching his sleeping bag. “Maybe a little more,” he adds after a moment, because it won’t be as embarrassing getting caught sleeping on the floor again if, at least, Vincent expects him to be there. Maybe.
Vincent just shrugs, says, “I’ll come back,” and walks out with his vacuum.
* * *
“I sent you a Christmas card that got sent back to me.”
Stiles’ coffee stops halfway to his mouth, heart rabbiting in his chest as his mind runs frantic circles. This is it. He’s been sleeping in his office for a week and he’s finally going to get caught. An hour ago he told Vincent to keep up with the afternoon vacuuming because Stiles is a reasonable person and he’s not going to have the money to get a place any time soon, and now he’s going to suffer a double dose of humiliation by having to finally admit his biggest failure of his adult life to his dad and ultimately take exasperated pity money, and it’s not like his dad is made of money. Stiles prided himself on putting himself through college, and after graduating: moving across the country on his own finances.
“Stiles? You there?”
“Hey dad, yeah, sorry, drinking coffee.” The recovery isn’t quite quick, but at least it’s there, which is something. “You sent a Christmas card?”
“I send one every year, Stiles,” is the kind of deadpan that screams a warning at Stiles. The warning that his dad knows something is up: something shifty and ultimately Stiles, which means surprising but not at the same time.
“Yeah, right,” is an automatic response as Stiles grasps for something, anything, that will keep him from having to admit to his father that he has been living in his office, brushing his teeth in the public bathroom, and showering at the university gym for the past seven days. An excuse that doesn’t make him tell his dad that he sold all of his furniture for ridiculously low prices on Craigslist, that he gave the remainder to city of New York delivered on the curb, that he has all his worldly possessions stuffed in his jeep that he has parked on campus and prays every day is not broken in to.
“Did you get a new apartment?”
A flicker of an idea sparks. It’s not nearly formed well enough for him to say, “Yeah, actually,” and when he follows that with, “I moved in with someone,” he wants to punch himself in the face. He’s living with someone?!
“You’re living with someone?” It’s the same voice and tone as the one in Stiles’ head, just thirty years older.
Two things keep Stiles from bashing his face onto the table: there’s a steaming cup of coffee in the way and, more importantly, his dad will definitely hear. “A guy,” he says, hoping a car crashes through the glass windows of the coffee shop and strikes him down right here. Not dead, just a broken leg or arm or punctured lung—a really good reason to get off the phone. Someone passes by in front of him and a semi-familiar book cover catches his eye. “Derek Hale,” he muses, and stops. No. That wasn’t meant to be out loud.
“Derek Hale?” his dad asks.
Stiles wonders how bad of a son he is that he is crossing his fingers that his dad just passes out and forgets their conversation. Nothing life threatening, just going unconscious, tripping at the office and hitting his head, something, anything. Instead his dad continues with a, “Stiles,” that demands an answer.
This is a spot Stiles knows well: placed between two very deep holes he has dug personally, by hand. It’s almost second nature, looking between the two and having to make the decision as to which one looks shallower. So he nods. “Yeah. Derek Hale, Derek.”
“I didn’t even know you knew Derek outside of Thanksgivings and that one birthday.”
“You used to make me have, like, weekly check in’s with Talia. You made her take me to lunch one a month so you could not so secretly spy on me. We work on the same campus. Of course I know Derek,” he huffs.
“Well enough to be… you two are dating?”
Stiles is ninety percent sure he should be offended by that tone. “Yes. I mean, I know he’s, like, muscly, scruffy, and semi-famous, but I have stuff that’s good too.”
A heavy sigh whooshes through the phone. “Alright. Alright. I’m just… I’m just surprised. I thought you would have told me if you were seeing someone. Especially if you were serious with them.”
“Well, I don’t know about serious.”
“You’re living together.”
Wincing, Stiles picks at the cardboard heat-protector around his coffee. “It’s a casual cohabitation.”
“Casual?” his dad asks back. His voice is raising its eyebrows.
“Casual,” Stiles says back, with conviction. Maybe.
“Right.” Another sigh. “Alright, Stiles. I’ll send you a new Christmas card,” a slow, deep breath, “to Derek Hale’s address.”
There’s little doubt in his head that he chose the wrong hole, but when he hangs up the phone he’s determined. He can make this work, he’s sure of it.
So, because parents are the worst gossips since thirteen year old girls, we should definitely have coffee in the next ten minutes.
Stiles presses send. Considers for a moment, and immediately follows with:
Correction, I’ll be outside your building in ten minutes and wait there until you come down.
Yes. I will make a scene.
It’s not that he’s pushy, it’s just that he’s at Defcon 1 and freaking out a little. Between the high alert and the caffeine he just had, his leg is jumping the whole bus ride down Broadway. He’d considered taking his bike, but decided against it because, while crashing and spending the next week in the hospital might be preferable to the situation at hand, it’s not the adult thing to do. The fact that lying to his dad about having a boyfriend he doesn’t have and living with said boyfriend he doesn’t have to get around being scolded for renting a shitty apartment is also a very not adult thing doesn’t escape his notice, he just decides to ignore it.
Don’t do anything drastic.
Ring up when you get here.
Getting the messages goes a small way toward calming him down. Then again, there’s a whole conversation to have and, while Stiles doesn’t know Derek entirely well, he’s pretty sure he knows the man well enough to expect a hard-
“Wait. Hear me out.”
They’re not at a coffee shop, which is probably good, because Stiles might actually end up making a scene, and not even on purpose, he’s just at the end of his rope and when he gets there he tends to become animated. Instead they’re up in Derek’s apartment, sitting in the living room that is the size of Stiles’ old apartment, and that’s being generous—to Stiles’ old apartment. Derek has a coffee (from his French French press, as in, actually from France) while Stiles nurses a glass of sparking water because Derek had given him one look and said, ‘You don’t get coffee,’ before brewing some for himself.
It was a quick kick in the unconscious that rattled loose a pile of why Stiles never hung out with Derek much. The guy’s quick witted, and normally Stiles would be all over that, but it’s a dry, exasperated, I-don’t-like-you-and-I’m-not-hiding-it quick wittedness.
“I heard you,” Derek says, not even giving Stiles a chance to continue. “You got evicted and have been living in your office for the past week, and instead of telling your dad you need a loan to get a new apartment, you told him that you’re dating me and we’re living together.” A thick eyebrow rises. “That about it?”
Damn Derek and his literary skills of summarization. Stiles puffs a breath and sinks back into the chair he’s nestled in. “Yeah,” is in no way a pout.
“And now you want me to lie, on your behalf, so your dad doesn’t find out the truth.”
Stiles sighs into his sparkling water, disillusioned by life. He wonders how he thought this was a better idea than telling his dad the truth. He grits his teeth and stares into his glass. Before he has to come up with a response, his phone buzzes. Sliding it out of his pocket he glances at the screen, eyes wide when he looks up at Derek.
“Your mom,” he says back before shrugging and answering. “Hey Talia.”
“What happened?” is matter of fact and laced with very real concern.
“Nothing happened,” Stiles starts slowly, can feel the pressure of Derek’s gaze on him, and deflates into the chair some more. “My landlord ran out on the mortgage and I got evicted.”
“That’s why you’ve been sleeping in your office?”
He straightens. “How did you know I’m sleeping in my office?”
She huffs. “Vincent is a friend of mine. Also, he’s seen us talking before and knows we know each other. He was concerned,” she tacks on.
Really, Stiles can’t blame the man, if he’s honest, he’s been a little concerned for himself as well. He should be happy Vincent didn’t tell the university on him. Living in your office has to break some kind of rule.
“And why can’t you just tell your dad about the eviction?” Talia wonders, voice soft and warm and non-judgmental—at least so far.
Leaning forward, Stiles props his elbows on his knees. “He told me not to rent the place. I’ve rubbed it in his face for years.”
“Oh,” has a hint of a laugh in it. “It’s that place.”
Stiles groans. “See. There. It was kind of a big point of contention for awhile. I can’t tell him he was right the whole time. Also,” he takes a breath, “I know he’d give me the money to get a new place but…” he trails off and watches as he swirls sparkling water around in his glass. “I don’t want to ask.”
“Boys,” Talia half mutters half laughs. “Alright. I just wanted to make sure that you were safe.”
“That’s it?” he asks, stunned.
He sits up. “No lecture? No telling me how stupid I am? No declaration that you’re going to tell my dad?” That’s what he’d been expecting. Not that Talia’s really one to chew him out. He’s seen her chew out her own kids pretty good, but he’s not her kid. Well, there was that one time she picked him up from school when his parents were at the doctor and Scott was home sick with Melissa, and he might have spilled a cone of ice cream in her car, but he’s pretty sure he remembers her yelling at Laura, who was the one who kicked the back of his seat hard enough to fling him forward. There’s also the fact that he’s spent three Thanksgivings and a birthday with the Hale family over the past three years.
“No, Stiles. I’m just making sure you’re okay.”
In no way completely buying it, he nods nonetheless. “Okay then,” comes out carefully.
They hang up and Stiles doesn’t have a chance to explain to Derek before a sharp trill of a familiar tone fills the air—one of the standard smartphone rings—and Derek is pulling out his own phone. He glances at the screen but doesn’t wait to explain to Stiles before picking up.
Stiles raises his eyebrows at him, but Derek just shrugs a shoulder and takes a drink of coffee before saying, “I heard. … Because he’s here. He just explained it. … I said no.” He frowns, a harsh scowl that makes his brows furrow and scrunch up like massive fuzzy caterpillars inching closer to each other. “No. … I don’t care,” is emphatic, and Stiles wonders what exactly Talia is telling her son on the other end of the line that makes him frown even harder. Derek Hale, muscly, scruffy, and semi-famous, is pouting on his living room couch like a nine year old receiving a scolding. “No,” is harsh, but followed by a heavy sigh. “Fine,” rips out of him as though he’s Indiana Jones getting his heart ripped out. “Yes. I understand. Alright.”
When he hangs up, Stiles has a pretty good idea of what to expect. Leaning forward, grin pulling at the corners of his lips, he asks, “I’m moving in?”
Derek’s eyes roll up toward the ceiling, as though he’s praying. When they come back down to meet Stiles’, he nods, and says, “Yeah, you’re moving in,” as though he’s telling someone he just backed over their new puppy.
Mindful of his new living space, Stiles doesn’t leap to his feet and dance around in victory like he wants to, he’s holding a drink after all, but he does punch his free hand into the air. “I love your mom!”
“Yeah, well, I don’t have a second bed, so you’ll be on the couch. Also, I don’t have a lot of extra space, so wherever your stuff is now, it’s staying there.” Then, even though it’s more than a little obvious he doesn’t want to, he asks, “Where is your stuff?”
Raising his free hand, Derek massages his temple. “We’ll take it to my parents’ place.”
Stiles shrugs. “That’s alright. My car’s on campus. It’s not like I drive it anywhere.”
“We’re taking it to my parents’ place,” Derek says, and that’s the end of that.
* * *
The irony of moving in with Derek is that it’s the day before finals, finals that Stiles has to grade because he’s actually teaching two classes on top of doing his own studies. What it means is that he doesn’t really see Derek until the following Monday because what better way to deal with grading than to take advantage of the art of living in his office, which he has perfected now. It also means he’s so exhausted he doesn’t even care that his face is plastered against the side of a New York building, and who knows where it’s been, as he jams his finger in a not-so-steady rhythm against Derek’s ringer.
He might be ringing for half a second or an hour for all he knows before Derek’s voice, thoroughly annoyed, snaps out, “What?”
“What if I were some eleven year old selling Girl Scout cookies and you answered like that?” Stiles asks, idly wondering if Derek will walk down and carrying him up the stairs. The answer is probably no. Derek barely helped him unload the jeep on Friday, opting to ‘make hot cocoa for everybody’ or something. It doesn’t matter if it was the most delicious chocolaty delight Stiles had ever had, the point is he didn’t help.
“If I’m half dead, am I still fully me?” This is an important question. Does he answer to Stiles? He doesn’t really feel like Stiles anymore. Can he not feel like Stiles? What does it mean to feel like Stiles? Wow, whoever was at the end of his grading pile either won the academic lottery or is an unlucky sonuvabitch. Stiles can’t remember the last grades he handed out, so he won’t know until the complaints roll in after break.
“Are you alright? No,” Derek cuts in, stopping Stiles as he takes a breath. “Are you bleeding? Do you need an ambulance?”
“Do I get to sleep in the ambulance?”
The only response he gets is the harsh buzzer of the door unlocking for him. Damn, he has to walk up by himself. Except, when he pushes through the door he looks up and remembers that Derek’s building is an Upper West Side building. There’s an elevator in this mother, an elevator Stiles plans on using until it breaks. Tomorrow. Today he’s going to use it to get up to the third floor and proceed to pass out on Derek’s couch, probably inconveniently, because there’s more likely than not some hockey or football or some kind of sports game on and Derek’s the muscly kind of guy who probably watches sports.
What is fully unexpected is to trudge out the elevator on the third floor and see Derek standing in the doorway of his apartment, mug of something in hand, because Derek always has a mug of something as hot as he is, staring down toward the elevator like it might tell him it’s pregnant and leave him with the kids. It kind of does, because it leaves Stiles.
“Awe. You’re making sure I get home alright,” Stiles chuckles. His book-bag drags at his shoulder and he’d rather drag it on the ground than carry it anymore, but he won’t treat his computer like anything less than the queen that it is (and the bag is almost rags, it might just fall apart on him), so he adjusts it and keeps walking. Derek rolls his eyes and disappears into the apartment. There’s a moment, walking down the hall, when Stiles thinks he should apologize or tell Derek the truth, which is that he wouldn’t have remembered Derek’s apartment number and that he’s actually grateful. What ends up happening instead is he closes the door a little too hard behind him because he can’t be bothered to turn around if it doesn’t close on the first swing, crosses to the couch, drops his book-bag on the floor, and flops down on his stomach, feet dangling off the edge, head hanging off the side, and proceeds to pass the fuck out.
Or so he assumes, because when he blinks awake in the dark hours of the winter morning, bladder bursting with the need to pee, he doesn’t remember having provided himself with any blankets that would need crawling out from under, and he’s pretty sure that the last time he saw them his shoes were on his feet and not… wherever they are now.
On his way out of the bathroom he notices Derek’s room is still dark, which makes sense, especially once he piles back into his warm huddle of blankets and cracks open his laptop to realize it’s six thirty. At this hour, he can justify rolling over and going back to bed, but he feels awake for the first time since he got kicked out of his apartment because he’s actually slept, so instead he opens the internet and goes on the hunt for the best coffee in the vicinity. When he finally gets around to checking his email it’s apparent he hasn’t in the blackout days of his grading, and there’s an email from his dad from two days ago.
Saturday, December 11 th, 2014
From: John Stilinski
I hope you realize Derek’s coming home with you for Christmas. Otherwise, tickets are going to be expensive.
Stiles scrambles for his phone. There’s a missed call from his dad from yesterday and a voicemail that gives him anxiety just looking at it. Instead he texts.
The Hales do their own Christmas thing.
The Sheriff replies almost instantly, which, given the time difference, should and does concern Stiles.
And the Hale in question will do the Stilinski thing this year.
You are not doing this to me.
You’re LIVING with someone, Stiles. So that someone is going to come, sit in my house, eat my holiday ham, and be interrogated like someone you’re serious enough to live with SHOULD be.
Stiles growls in frustration and changes tactics.
Why’re you up so late/early? Big case?
Derek is coming to Christmas, Stiles. Period.
* * *
“How about a thank you breakfast?” Stiles greets from his station in the breakfast nook where he’s been on his laptop and planning for the past hour, waiting for Derek to get up.
Awake, showered, hair weighed down and still wet enough to leak slow drops onto his shirt, Derek stares across the apartment at Stiles. He looks barely conscious, which undoubtedly means he’s a morning coffee person like Stiles. Today, adrenaline is doing the work of caffeine and Stiles is alert and focused on the task at hand. What he gets, however, is a bland, “You’re broke,” in response from a Derek unfazed with the idea of crushing Stiles’ masculinity by pointing out his failings as an adult and a person.
A minor setback. “Not broke enough that buying you a thank you breakfast is going to mean I get off your couch any faster, but it might just make you look a little less grumpy,” Stiles chirps, shutting his laptop and standing up. He’s dressed and ready for the day, already grabbing his wallet and phone from the table. “I found a place nearby that looks good.”
From the look on Derek’s face, he’s not going anywhere.
“And you’re out of coffee,” Stiles adds. Or Stiles may have just hidden it away in his suitcase under his clothes, but that’ll just be a secret between him and his laundry.
With a heavy breath and a sigh that makes Derek sound as though he is in physical pain, he says, “Fine,” before retreating back into the bedroom to grab his things.
Soon enough they’re tucked away in a corner booth by a heating vent that starts putting in time unthawing Stiles the moment they sit down. When they’d come around the corner and headed the direction of the five-star Yelp reviewed breakfast café, Derek made a noise in the back of his throat that sounded like approval. Now they’re looking at a menu that’s half delicatessen coffees from around the world and half breakfast meals that are making Stiles’ stomach rumble. More correctly, Stiles is looking at the menu. Derek hasn’t even touched the one that was set down in front of him, which confirms the suspicion that it’s a place he’s not only been to but even frequents.
Stiles decides to busy himself with looking over the menu until a waitress comes around, certain that his chances of being heard out will be significantly higher once Derek not only has a coffee he has to finish, but a meal as well.
“Morning Derek,” a female voice greets and Stiles’ head cracks up from the menu in curiosity. It’s a waitress, bright eyed and cheerful, not even waiting for Derek’s response before turning her gaze on Stiles, eyebrows raising. “And what do we have here? A morning guest? Not that you don’t look amazing like the rest of them, but you don’t quite look like family.” She winks and Stiles feels himself blush.
Forgive him if he’s spent the last many, many years of his life in a bubble of academia and is so far behind in the flirting game he barely knows what to do with compliments anymore.
Whitney, or so the nametag reads, chuckles in delight. “Oh, you are cute. Must be special if you’re bringing him around here,” she muses, throwing another wink, this time in Derek’s direction.
“He’s a family friend,” Derek replies without skipping so much as a beat.
Eyes rolling, Whitney sighs. “For a man who looks like you, in a city as full of people as hot as this one, my one dream in life is to see you bring one of them down here after a night of good old fashion debauchery.”
Derek snorts. “That’s your one dream in life?”
“Alright, one of my dreams,” she bites back.
Stiles picks at the corner of his menu, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. He can’t tell if Whitney is genuinely flirting with Derek, and he’s some kind of weird family-related third wheel, or if this is just friendly banter. He’d leaning toward flirting until Derek says, “Just take the order Whitney,” in a tone too harsh to be flirting but not harsh enough to be openly irritated.
“Righty’o then,” she says, jotting something down as she continues with, “So, the usual with added kitchen-spit for Mr. Grumpy, and what about you Honey Eyes?”
“California omelet and… some kind of coffee you recommend with that.” Stiles likes coffee, don’t get him wrong, but he’s not a coffee connoisseur. A good week is when he’s able to splurge and buy a specialty blend that’s not Dunkin’ Donuts.
Whitney chuckles and Derek eyes him as though in a new light, and not a particularly flattering one at that. “Alright then. Be back in a bit.” Picking up the menus, she cuts her way through the tables and the people back toward the kitchen, leaving Stiles to pick at his napkin and wish he had a different conversation topic than the one currently in his figurative pocket.
“So… thanks again. I mean, I don’t know if I said thanks before, I’ve been kind of busy. But thanks for taking me in,” he says finally, after an uncomfortably long pause during which it becomes apparent that Derek is, in no way, going to make this breakfast anything short of torture.
The man in question shrugs. “One does not simply say ‘no’ to Talia Hale.” A phone buzzes and he fishes it out to read the screen, brows furrowing, as Stiles stares at blinks and tries to convince himself that Derek is not a closet Tolkien fan, much less one nerdy enough to do what he just did intentionally.
By the time Derek slips his phone away and looks back up, Whitney is back delivering them coffee and clicking her tongue. “Table manners, Derek. Besides, what could possibly be on your phone that’s more interesting than Honey Eyes right here?”
His blush comes back full force, is worse because he can see Derek just staring at him from across the table, and almost literally chokes around saying, “St- Stiles. Please, just Stiles.”
“Don’t like Honey Eyes?” Whitney wonders, grinning.
“Just Stiles,” he assures.
With a shrug she sighs, “Alright, Just Stiles,” and slips away again.
“So, you had something you wanted to talk about?”
Stiles is sure the only reason he doesn’t flush more vibrant at the mention of his conversation point is because of the amount of dread that flows in to him. In fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if he loses a few shades. “Right.” He adds sugar to his coffee for something to do, feels the heat of eyes on him and glances up to see Derek watching his hands, or, more specifically, the sugar in his hands with a narrow-eyed intent that makes Stiles feel like he’s on a cursing tangent in church instead of sugaring his coffee. Fascinated, he keeps going until Derek’s hand snatches across the table, thick fingers wrapping around Stiles’ wrist. “Uh…”
“No more,” and Derek sounds wounded.
The PhD student in him makes him consider keeping a page in his Thinky Thoughts About PhD Stuff notebook dedicated to charting out how much of the time he manages to make Derek sound as though he’s in pain without actually causing physical damage to the man. Lost in thought, it’s not until Derek’s fingers tighten that Stiles’ attention snaps back to the man across the table and he gives a slow nod. “Alright.”
Derek doesn’t let go of his wrist until he starts moving the sugar away from the rim of is coffee mug.
Silence settles. Stiles stirs, Derek sips his black coffee as though it weren’t steaming and very possibly still boiling. It’s nine kinds of awkward and Stiles can still feel the ghost of fingers around his wrist. “So…” doesn’t go very far in breaking the ice or forwarding is agenda, but now that he’s faced with the task the gung-ho spirit he’d mustered behind the screen of his laptop when he’d come up with this idea has fast faded.
“So,” Derek echoes.
“Breakfast boys!” Whitney announces, cutting through the almost-silence with two plates of food: a California omelet and some egg-white scramble thing with wheat toast that of course Derek would eat. With an, “Enjoy,” she’s gone again and. Derek already munching on a piece of something green that might be kale and Stiles hopes is something more edible, like spinach. He goes for broke.
“My dad says you I have to bring you home for Christmas in Beacon Hills,” is a rush of words that may or may not sound like a single sentence.
“If we leave the twenty-third,” Derek says around his toast.
Stiles waves his hand and forges on. He’s thought this through. There’s a numbered list with a correlating pie chart and even a graph back on his laptop, which, maybe he should have brought it. He doesn’t know if Derek’s the type to be swayed by charts and graphs, but then again, he hasn’t seen Stiles’ charts and graphs. “Now, I know this seems crazy, but there are some pretty good perks to going to a Stilinski Christmas. First: my dad makes a mean Christmas ham. It might be the best ham you’ve ever had, or meat, period. It’s pretty good, and really good on leftover sandwiches for the next three days. Second: there are festivities. Now, there some drawbacks, but overall I think the perks make up for it. Free liquor slash open bars at most of these festivities is one-”
“Stiles.” Derek’s voice, hard but low, cuts through his carefully constructed lecture disguised as rant.
Stuttering to a stop, Stiles blinks across the table. Derek’s holding is fork in loose fingers and the corners of his lips are twisted into what might be evidence of a shadow of amusement. “As long as we can leave before the evening of the twenty-third, I’m game.”
“Uh…” Stiles wasn’t expecting this and wishes he weren’t so confused so he could enjoy feeling relieved and happy. “Flights are kind of expensive,” he says instead, which is the opposite of convincing Derek to go along with his plan, but he rushes to add, “but I can split it with you, definitely.” Maybe. He’s been trying to convince himself to look at his bank account but just can’t make himself do it prior to the end of the month. Then again, he does still have the money from the rent he never paid.
“It’s fine Stiles, I can pay for my own ticket.”
Derek rolls his eyes and takes a bite of his egg whites and greens. “I’m sure.”
* * *
They fall into a bit of a routine. Stiles finds out that Derek typically wakes up, blends together things that look like they should not be blended, and goes for a run despite the fact that it’s cold as blazes outside. Waking with to the song of the blender, Stiles fixes up the couch while grouching about being up so early, makes coffee, pours all the sugar he wants into it while Derek isn’t around, and futzes around the internet while eating cereal. Derek gets home, cheeks and nose flush with cold, eyes bright, light sweat a sheen along his throat—it’s a scene Stiles unwittingly witnesses Sunday morning, ignores from there on out, and agonizes over for having been burned into his memory so well—showers, changes, and makes breakfast. A runner’s breakfast is eggs and sausage. Toast is, apparently, just a Saturday thing, because, while he makes it, he always gives it to Stiles. Derek eats, they may or may not discuss the latest thing Derek hears on NPR or Stiles sees while surfing the web, then disappears into his office to work and Stiles lazes around until the coffee kicks in and he’s able to shower and dress himself, which, more often than not, inspires getting actual dissertation work done.
Some time between noon and three one of them inevitably gets hungry and scrounges around for food, which they make a double serving. Stiles starts this routine, because it just seems like the polite thing to do. When Derek does it, Stiles thinks he’s being punished because while he makes delicious sandwiches, Derek makes salads or mixes yogurt and granola. Seriously, how a person like Derek survives on lettuce and semi-solid sour milk is beyond him. Stiles has to have a second lunch when Derek is first to get to the kitchen.
Halfway through the week Derek gets back from his run with snowflakes melting in his hair and, really, the guy is insane about running and just—if Stiles weren’t so far in this hole he’d consider coming clean to get out of this place and hopefully retain his sanity. As it is, Derek has now officially starred in a very adult dream of his last night and it made waking up to the blender this morning potentially horrifying. Luckily they don’t talk in the morning and he got by rolling into the back of the couch and taking deep, steady breaths and thinking about things like Saw I – VIII and his dad’s old case files he snuck looks at as a kid.
Looking up from where he’s glaring at his computer screen and attempting to hate snowflakes and Derek’s hair, Stiles blinks at the quirk of lips and bushy raised eyebrows he’s met with. “Huh?”
“My mom invited us to lunch,” Derek says. “You free?”
That’s a laughable question. They are both free, all the time. All Derek does is hide away in his office and, Stiles is pretty sure, just hits his hands against the keyboard and pretends to write. At least, he assumes, because if he was getting work there wouldn’t be a reason for all those aggrieved conversations with his agent and editor and dodged phone calls. Stiles, at least looks at his dissertation data and has a word minimum for each day. He has to get something done before he officially closes the documents once he lands in Beacon Hills and his dad commandeers his laptop for the duration of Stilinski Christmas.
“Ah, right. Sure. Sounds good.”
Derek sighs and rolls his eyes. “Great, I’ll let her know. We’ll head out at noon.”
* * *
Stiles now realizes that Derek is not just a dedicate runner, but very plausibly half bear, or wolf, or other creature well furred to survive winter. They’re hiking their way through Central Park because of course they’re walking to the Upper East Side, which Stiles wouldn’t be nearly as irritated about had he not forgotten his gloves at the apartment and wasn’t currently occupied with keeping himself from losing his fingers to frostbite.
“Baby,” Derek murmurs, breath a puff of white in the afternoon air.
“Stuff it,” is muffled behind the scarf wrapped tightly around his neck and covering half his face. Hands deep in his pockets, he clenches and unclenches his fingers in an attempt to keep blood flowing and assuring himself still moving them is still possible.
“It’s like it’s your first New York winter,” Derek muses. There’s laughter in his voice and all Stiles can do is shift his gaze and shoot a glare at the man, and even then the movement makes his eyeballs cold.
“Nobody can go from California to this so thoroughly. You’re just a winter weathered freak,” he retorts, tasting cotton on the tip of his tongue and hating the way his scarf is moist with his breath but knowing it will be so much worse if he pushes it down and reveals his face.
“That guy’s doing alright,” Derek counters, raising an ungloved hand and gesturing further up the path to a man running in spandex shorts and a tank toward them. “Well, maybe. It’s cold,” he continues in a low whisper a few moments later as the man jogs past them, spandex leaving nothing to the imagination.
Stiles chokes on his scarf as he tries to bite down on a loud and rude laugh. “Tucked for warmth,” he replies, then adds, “Clearly a member of the Polar Bear Club.”
Derek grins. “And her?” Another gesture brings Stiles’ attention to some girl in a winter coat but no pants, or, more realistically, a mini skirt that doesn’t go further than the coat, and ballet flats.
“Walk of shame,” Stiles says. “She had leggings, but her date literally tore them off her, and now she has to suffer the walk home in the cold.”
A low chuckle and Derek’s shoulders shake. “Oh, look, one of your kindred spirits.”
Stiles catches sight of the hunched over form Derek’s nodding his chin toward. He huffs. “That guy’s just homeless.”
Turning to him, Derek smirks. “I know.”
“Oh, low blow, Hale.”
By the time they make it to the restaurant they have etched out the lives and hobbies of well over twenty people, each with a more dramatic story. They passed the excommunicated Duchess of a little known European country with a dog obsession that rivals her love for porcelain babies thirty seconds ago and the only downside is that the tears Stiles laughed out are frozen on his cheeks and he can’t bring himself to pull his hands out of his pockets to wipe them away.
Derek holds the door open and Stiles can’t quite help but sigh and deflate a little at the prickling sensation of warmth hitting him in what’s exposed of his face. There’s not even a second to glance around the restaurant before a woman with long brown hair that is vaguely familiar and far too young to be Derek’s mother leaps to her feet and waves. “Little bro! Little bro’s boyfriend!” which… Stiles flushes, is grateful he can blame the heat, and busies himself with de-scarving himself as Derek lets out a rumbling groan and prods Stiles’ shoulder, pushing him toward the grinning woman in question. Laura, Stiles remember halfway to the booth, is sitting beside her mom who has the same smile as her daughter, though not quite as wide.
“Why are you here?” Derek mutters, shoulder nudging Stiles into the booth and sitting down, though his movements are rather slow, jerky, and reluctant.
“Awe, little bro, you wound.”
Stiles glances between the siblings, head cocked as he watches Derek fight between rolling his eyes and glaring while Laura grins, eyebrows dancing. What Derek ends up doing is looking over at his mom. “Why is she here?”
“I wanted to meet your boyfriend,” Laura quips.
Dragging his gaze away from her, Stiles eyes Talia, who watches him straight back, smile still small and half-hidden, but he sees it for what it is: laughter.
Her eyes leave Stiles’ to address her son. “Derek.”
“She told me a boy was living with you,” Laura interrupts, leaning forward. “Who’d’a thunk? You and Itty Bitty Stiles.”
“Itty bitty?” Stiles echoes, pretty sure he should be offended. Beside him Derek is making some kind of choking sound, which he’s sure is a terrible disguise for laughter, so he doesn’t bother looking over to check. Then Laura’s eyebrows are dancing at Derek, and he turns anyway. Surprisingly enough, Derek isn’t, actually, laughing. Though he might look like he’s trying to keep himself from dying. There’s a flush in his cheeks that not even the New York winter garners and his eyebrows are doing something expressive that Stiles can’t interpret but make Laura laugh.
Still chuckling, Laura gestures between the two of them. “When did this happen?”
A glance in Derek’s direction reveals some kind of semi-veiled mental argument waging in him before he finally sighs and says, “It hasn’t been long. Don’t get all… sensitive about it.”
Stiles chokes on nothing, receives a fleeting glance from Laura, who looks less concerned about his health and more inquisitive about working out the story behind her brother’s new relationship. With an overly dramatic sigh she says, “I’m just curious. I mean, ever since Jen,” and rolls her eyes in a way that erases any doubt that the two are related, “and all those abysmal blind dates-”
“That you set me up on despite my expressive desire that you don’t,” Derek cuts in.
“Abysmal blind dates,” she repeats, steam rolling through him. “It’s just hard to imagine you getting all,” a have waves in Stiles’ general direction, “up close and personal and letting someone in your space.” At that she locks eyes with Stiles, says, “He’s touchy about his space,” and then returns her attention to her brother. “So that’s why I’m here.”
Unimpressed, Derek blinks at her. “To make my boyfriend feel awkward and regret agreeing to go to lunch with my mom?” he shoots back.
With a huff, she sits back, crosses her arms over her chest, and glances back at Stiles. “You don’t regret it, do you?” she’s grinning, though it feels a hell of a lot more threatening than reassuring.
“Uh…” is about all Stiles manages before clearing his throat and saying, “Not particularly,” seems to be a neutral enough answer to keep him out of trouble.
“How’s the whole PhD thing going?”
He’s honestly surprised she even remembers that. The last time Stiles met Laura was Thanksgiving the year before. This year she’d been absent due to work. “Good. Busy. The same.” He shrugs. “How was… Dubai?” he remembers something about Dubai, or maybe Ethiopia, or somewhere else. Laura gets around and Stiles doesn’t make it his business to keep track.
“Lovely.” A glance at her brother comes with a biting, “See Derek, perfectly pleasant,” before she turns back on Stiles, smiling brightly. “Now see me perfectly pleasantly figure out why you’d give up the Hale Holiday Bash to go home with Itty Bitty for Christmas.”
* * *
“Sorry about that.”
They’re walking home, because Derek laughs when Stiles shivers as they walk outside and says he needs to build up ‘weather stamina,’ to which Stiles acts like a five year old and mimics ‘weather stamina’ in a high, whiny tone that makes Derek looks to the heavens as though praying or gathering strength. “For what?” is a genuine question.
“My sister, for one,” Derek mutters, still sour. There was a moment during breakfast when Stiles thought the fancy mini French press might clear the air, but instead Derek just brewed his coffee with a dash of self-indulgent bitterness.
Stiles shrugs. “Really, not a big deal. I’ve met Laura before.” Doubt it, she hasn’t ever been so intense in the past, apparently because Stiles was just family friend the Hales were inviting to crash their turkey and not, supposedly, boning her brother. The fact that she seems to fully believe that makes his insides gurgle. He can’t tell if he’s proud or just embarrassed, which, he’s the one who came up with the story, so he can’t well go around being embarrassed by the idea of being Derek’s significant other. “Though,” he continues, not able to help himself. He’s been curious since the first time he heard it, and by now he’s bordering on desperate for the answer. “What’s with the ‘Itty Bitty’ thing?”
Derek makes a choking sound and, for the most part, reacts a whole lot like he had at the table.
“I mean, I might not have your broad Harlequin shoulders, but I don’t think I’m small.”
More sounds die out to a strangled, “No. That’s not it.”
“Well, it doesn’t seem good.” Derek’s reaction to the name doesn’t help anything.
With a breath, Derek releases a heavy sigh. “I’m actually surprised you hadn’t heard it before. She started calling out that back in Beacon Hills.”
Stiles stops walking. He might be gaping. “What?”
Derek’s not looking at him. In fact, it looks like he’s trying pretty hard not to look at him. “Actually, I might have started it,” he admits, running his hand over his face, scratching at his stubble. It’s distracting, which interrupts Stiles getting mad.
“You started it? When? How? I don’t remember it.”
Another heavy breath. “You were in elementary school or something, about a year before we left, and you were trying to grab a comic book off the top shelf at that place downtown. I was walking by and saw you.”
Stiles’ eyes go wide. He remembers this. Well, now he remembers it. It was a long time ago. “You tried to help me out.”
“Yeah,” Derek nods. “And you elbowed me in the stomach, said you could do it by yourself, and climbed up the shelf.”
“It totally fell down,” he finishes, chuckling. There had been comic books everywhere and a lot of yelling. The instant he realized he wasn’t dead or bleeding, he grabbed his Spiderman backpack and made a run for it, dragging Scott, who’d been looking on in abject horror, after him.
“The shelf bludgeoned me in the head, which is why it didn’t crush you,” Derek adds. Glancing over at Stiles there’s a frown tugging at the corner of his lips, but there’s no sting or anger to it. The light of amusement in his eyes makes it all the more harmless. “I got blamed for the fiasco, had to spend two hours cleaning up, and paid for six comic books I bled on. When I got home I got grounded—first for being late and second for the mess I’d caused. When I told Laura I think I called you ‘Itty Bitty Stiles’ when I was complaining about your climbing the shelf,” he finishes.
Stiles is grinning. He’d winced, at the thought of Derek’s head having an up close and personal meeting with a comic book bookshelf, but obviously Derek’s turned out fine. “I always wondered how I got away without getting into trouble. I thought I was so slick.”
Derek rolls his eyes and huffs. “No. I just took the fall for you.”
“So Laura calls me ‘Itty Bitty’?”
“She seemed to like it at the time.” He shrugs, but he’s scratching at his scruff again and looking around the park.
“Do you call me Itty Bitty?” Stiles wonders, itching for the answer.
There’s an extended silence in which Stiles is sure Derek is hoping some event will happen to deter the conversation, or perhaps hoping Stiles suffers a random amnesiac event and forgets what they’re talking about. Neither happens, and he finally gives a slow nod. “On occasion.” Out of the corner of his eye, he glances over at Stiles. “Laura’s jargon tends to rub off on the rest of the family.
Stiles nods, small and quick, mainly to himself, not sure what he thinks about that. What he thinks about Derek is that he’s adorable from embarrassment right now. What he thinks about the nickname is that he should probably be embarrassed about it too. Then again, he was six at the time.
“Anyway,” Derek continues, “I wanted to apologize about not telling her the truth.”
“Uh,” Stiles starts. A look over at Derek shows his gaze still isn’t quite meeting Stiles’. He breathes a chuckle and knocks his elbow into Derek’s arm. “Dude, it’s okay. I’m the one who started it. I mean, it kind of surprised me a bit. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out why your mom hadn’t told her the truth.”
Derek sighs. “Laura’s always trying to set me up on dates,” he mutters, and there’s definitely still some bitterness lingering in his tone. “Constantly. I’ve tried to get her to knock it off, but she’ll make plans with me and then I arrive and it ends up being a blind date and some stranger is waiting for me.”
Laughing probably isn’t the best response, confirmed when Derek shoots him a glare. “Sorry. That’s just… As an outsider, it’s kind of hilarious. As your… friend,” the word hitches in silent question, because who knows what he is, with luck it’s something beyond ‘unwanted roommate,’ “yeah, that’s shitty.”
“Anyway, it seemed like a good way to get her off my back, at least for the holidays. Mom must have thought the same thing, which is why she didn’t say anything.” Derek’s small smile for his mother is endearing and makes Stiles’ heart throb in his throat until he diverts his attention to the trail ahead of them. “Hope you don’t mind.”
“I’m the one who told his dad he was living with you and had to weasel my way into making that work out, I think the least I can do is be your fake boyfriend and shield you from horrible blind dates. It’s totally fine,” Stiles assures. “But, uh, what was that about the ‘Hale Holiday Bash’?” it struck him as odd, but nobody else had brought it up again after Laura’s allusion to the party and he’s feeling shitty at the idea that he’s kidnapping Derek for Christmas and making him miss some big family tradition.
Derek releases a heavy breath of air and Stiles frowns into his scarf. He’s a douche. He hasn’t even considered Derek’s holiday plans, has just been so desperate to not have to admit to his dad that he he’s lying and reveal the reason why.
“It’s this big party my family throws every year at the office. A bunch of authors and agents and editors and publicists,” he explains.
Jesus, Stiles not only destroyed a holiday tradition, but some kind of amazing marketing scheme as well. Derek’s an author, doing author related shindigs like the Hale Holiday Bash are probably part of his bread and butter.
“I hate that party,” Derek grumbles.
A handful of words and Stiles’ spiraling thoughts and rising tide of guilt wash away. “Really?”
“That’s why I said I’d go if we could leave before the evening of the twenty-third,” Derek explains with a glance, judging Stiles for not having caught on already. It’s a thing worthy of being judged.
* * *
It’s two o’clock the day after lunch with two of the Hale women and there’s nothing in the fridge, which Stiles would have realized had he made lunch yesterday like he’d been planning on, since he wasn’t about to suffer through another ‘yogurt and granola is as much a lunch as your BLT’s’ stare of judgment from Derek when Stiles goes for second lunch. Not that it matters, they went out to lunch, Stiles didn’t have to make anything, and now the fridge is empty and there are enough days left before they leave that not groceries is not an option. Raising his arms high over his head, he arches from one side to the next, back popping delightfully, before pushing to his feet and moving down the hall. A break from his screen, data, papers, notes, books, and dissertation is more than welcome.
Derek’s office door is cracked open, which is more of a sign that he wasn’t paying attention when he came back from his coffee break however long ago than any growth in his ability to not literally lock himself away to work, and Stiles is about to give it a knock when he hears the low mutter of, “Fucking Ginny.” Freezing, hand raised, he waits, listens to a fierce clattering of keys that’s followed by a low huffing sound that is awfully close to Derek’s laugh when he’s trying to mute himself and mostly failing. The, “Oh, fuck you Ginny,” that follows isn’t nearly as bitter as the first sour mutter and has more than a hint of gleeful humor to it.
Grinning, Stiles shoves the door open. “I knew it.”
Derek jumps. There’s a sharp thud, a curse, and he’s rubbing his knee and glaring through a wince as he spins his chair around to face his intruder. “What?”
“You hate your books,” Stiles states. “I knew it. I’ve told Scott for years. He’s going to owe me so much money.” His glee has brought him all the way into the room, and when he stops moving, semi-frozen by Derek’s stare, he’s equal distance between the author and the door.
“I don’t hate my books,” doesn’t, in the least, sound convincing.
“You hate your books,” Stiles argues, because he is right. “You hate them so much.”
“I don’t hate them,” Derek repeats, less convincing than the first time.
“You hate them so much you can barely disguise it. Or, at least, that’s what I thought. It’s like you have every intention of getting yourself kicked off the best sellers list for life,” Stiles laughs. “I thought anyone with half a brain would notice, but Scott fucking loves your series that I can’t even call it shitty because you’re writing’s just that fantastic.” Brain catching up with his mouth, his laugh stutters before he attempts to keep it going. He does, but it doesn’t sound natural.
“You’ve read my books?” Derek wonders, brow raised and, as Stiles is coming to realize, not one to let anything slip. “You like my books?”
“I-” Stiles starts, stops, then continues with, “I appreciate writing good enough to make the ridiculous shit that goes on in your books worthy of the best sellers list.” He feels himself flushing with awkwardness of his honesty. “But that’s beside the point,” he drives on, cracking smile because Derek hates his own books, and that, he reminds himself, is hilarious. “You hate your books. You probably resent them being on the best seller list.”
Derek’s features pinch and Stiles chortles.
With a sigh, Derek’s brow loosens as he relaxes back into his chair, shaking his head as he admits, “I stopped actively trying to get pulled by the third book. Now I just see what I can get away with.” There’s a smile playing under the surface now and Stiles should probably mention groceries and flee, but instead he walks over to the bookshelf lining the wall to his left and pulls out Derek’s first book: Blood Wolfe. “I hate that book,” Derek mutters behind him.
“Because it’s the first?” Stiles wonders, knowing that he will never not be amused by this.
“Because Erica forced me to write that after my first book flopped. I didn’t even try. I went to the bookstore, took a look at the stuff on the displays, and threw it all together. I wrote that book in a month,” Derek says, shaking his head. He looks exasperated, but it’s the kind of expression Stiles knows from his own father. It’s an exasperation of love. Derek may have genuinely hated the books at some point, but he’s come to peace with them now.
The more important part, though, is the mention of, “First book?” Stiles hums in question and turns back to the bookshelf, scanning through the books as he replaces Blood Wolfe. “Wait…” There’s nothing on the shelf, but now that he’s thinking about it, he remembers reading a book by Derek Hale—not Geoff Kale, Derek’s terrible pen name, and that is definitely going to be another conversation, but actual Derek Hale. “Snow Doves?” he wonders. With the verbalization of the title the cover pops to mind instantly, along with the story. “That was an amazing book,” he says, whirling around and not even minding anymore that he’s gushing. Not stupid nerd gushing over Derek’s stupid books that Derek knows and admits are intentionally terrible, but legitimately literature gushing over Derek’s- “That was- I loved that book. I mean, I think you got a little too wrapped up in being historically accurate, which might have been a drawback for some people, but I’m kind of,” he waves at himself in a gesture that’s intended to mean, ‘I’m a fucking history doctorate’ and ‘Duh’ all at once. “But seriously, Snow Doves was phenomenal. And now you’re writing… Ginny Wolfe.” He doesn’t know whether to laugh or wince. Instead he hovers in careful neutrality because Derek is staring at him as though he’s grown a second head or he’s suddenly realized Stiles doesn’t have pants on.
A quick check confirms he has pants.
It doesn’t feel like he has a second head.
“Really what?” Stiles asks back, cautious.
“You liked Snow Doves?” Derek’s eyes are wide and guarded at the same time, like he’s trying to keep himself from building his hopes up too much but too excited not to.
Stiles huffs, the unease of over exposing himself welling back up with a vengeance. Still, he somehow manages to make it worse by answering with, “I still have a copy of it laying around somewhere in those boxes in your parents’ house. It’s worn to pieces,” because Derek is staring at him in what he’s realizing is shock at the idea of someone liking Snow Doves, which is worse than any social embarrassment Stiles might face.
“Erica said it was an over existentialized piece of historical vomit.”
Stiles doesn’t know who Erica is exactly, but he is pretty sure he wants to punch her in the face. “Erica doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”
Derek laughs, loud and genuine and Stiles should back out and run, because Derek’s laugh might be better than his sweat-slicked neck after his morning run. Or maybe Stiles is just becoming desensitized to the former. Not that it matters when he’s faced with the latter, which he is definitely not desensitized to. “Erica’s my agent.”
“Erica has an agenda, because Snow Doves was great, much more deserving of being on the best seller’s list. Not that- Not that the Wolfe series…” he can’t even allude to the Wolfe series being half as good without rolling his eyes. “What’s sad is that people don’t realize why the Wolfe series is making the best seller,” he finishes with.
“And why is that?”
Stiles opens to his mouth and stops, eyes narrowing. The open awe of meeting someone who liked the book that never made it is gone and Derek’s just grinning now. “I have a feeling I might have puffed up your ego a little too much in the past ten minutes to keep going.”
“No. Really, I’m curious,” doesn’t even make it out free of the chuckle Derek’s trying to swallow down.
“Pft.” Stiles rolls his eyes. “Anyway, we need groceries.”
Derek raises an eyebrow but doesn’t does pry for any more compliments. “Groceries.”
* * *
“Same guest two Saturdays in a row,” Whitney observes with a low whistle and a wink in Stiles’ direction. “Honey Eyes, you really are special.”
“Stiles,” Derek says, eyeing the menu as though he needs to. The man has a regular order and a waitress who knows his name and the likely guests he comes in with, there’s no reason for him to be looking at the menu.
“Sorry, Stiles,” Whitney says, the emphasis of his name rolling off her lips and accompanied by another wink. At least he’s starting to realize that’s just a thing she does and not some kind of flirting. Whitney, apparently, winks at everything. She’d tell you it’s raining cats and dogs and that you need an umbrella, and then wink at you. The woman might not know how winks are supposed to be used. “So, you know what you want?”
“Well, seeing as someone on Yelp said that the French toast here is possibly literally good enough to die for if Heaven includes actually getting it, I’m going to go with that. I’ll let you choose the coffee.”
Whitney smiles, wide and bright. “Derek hasn’t turned you into a coffee snob just yet?”
“Don’t know how that’s supposed to happen in a week,” Stiles answers, handing over the menu.
She shrugs casually as she says, “Well, you live together, right?”
“Uh…” Stiles glances across the table to Derek who’s staring holes in the side of Whitney’s face.
“Is it a secret or something?” She wonders, glancing between the two of them.
“No,” Derek answers. “He’s just trying to figure out if you’re magical or psychic,” is deadpan, but there’s that shadow of a smile that Stiles is getting used to seeing as an almost permanent fixture on Derek. It’s endearing, and dangerous because of that.
“Am not,” Stiles snaps out, but he is curious.
“I saw you coming back from the market with groceries together the other day,” she laughs. “Not surprising. You’re dating, right?”
“Yes,” Derek says so steadily Stiles almost believes him.
* * *
“I should get something for your dad,” Derek says out of nowhere once Whitney’s come and gone with their orders and coffee. Really, completely out of nowhere. They’ve been talking about Ginny Wolfe since their coffee came, Stiles trying to point out Derek’s ‘this is hilarious’ parts versus the ‘this will never make it to final print’ parts and the ‘I hate this character and these books’ part. At first Derek had rolled his eyes and told Stiles he wasn’t playing, but he couldn’t hide his amusement and within ten minutes Stiles had coaxed out one of Derek’s rare loud, full-bodied laughs that made the people next to them give them sideways glances and made the tips of Derek’s ears turn pink.
“Uh, okay?” Stiles doesn’t know why this is a concern suddenly, so he makes sure to say, “You know you don’t have to, right? Like, we’re flying. I don’t check stuff. Presents are always kind of small.” Non-existent right now, actually. He’s been waiting for inspiration to strike, but instead he’s just been procrastinating and now it’s three days until they head out and he’s still got nothing.
Derek shakes his head, like the idea of not getting a present for Stiles’ dad, whom Derek probably hasn’t spoken to since he was twelve and the Hales were still living in Beacon Hills, is somehow offensive. To whom, Stiles isn’t sure. “We’re getting something- I’m,” he corrects, “getting something. What does your dad like?”
“Other than his job and having some free time to do projects around the house?” Stiles wonders, because, really, those are the things his dad lives for.
“Anything a little more upscale than a gift card to Home Depot that I can get him?”
Stiles laughs. His dad would probably love a Home Depot gift card, but if Derek wants to make a good impression like some kind of… he stutters over the mere thought of Derek being so dedicated to his roll of fake boyfriend. Then again, he’d told Whitney they were dating without missing so much as a beat. It’s probably good practice.
“He appreciates a good whisky,” Stiles replies.
“You won’t be able to take a bottle on the plane.”
Derek shrugs. “We’ll get one when we land.”
“No we won’t,” he chuckles. “My dad’s going to pick us up from the airport, and if you want to try to get out of that well,” raising his hands, he leans back in his chair, “you can fight that battle on your own.”
Derek sits, considering, and his frowny thoughtful face is almost as charming as his laugh and every other freaking face he makes. Stiles sighs and pointedly stares at his mug and not across the table. “I’ll check my bag.”
“You really don’t have to. I mean, unless you are already, but we’re only going to be gone a handful of days.” He’d automatically assumed Derek would be a light packer like him, but maybe he’s wrong. Maybe Derek takes a full-size suitcase for a seven day trip and that’s what Stiles is fake dating. Though, who is he kidding, Derek’s laugh makes up for being a shitty packer.
He shakes his head. He did not just think that.
“It’s fine, it’ll only be for the trip there.”
So Derek is a light packer. Not that it matters, Stiles reminds himself, because they are fake dating, so it’s a moot point.
“So, you two have plans for the holidays?” Whitney asks when she comes back to drop off the bill and collect their plates.
“California, to have Christmas with my dad,” Stiles answers, because he’s not going to leave Derek to solo carry on their fake relationship. If he can’t talk about his fake relationship and say he’s dating his fake boyfriend to a relative stranger, how the hell is he going to look his dad in the eyes and talk to him about it?
“Oh. First time meeting him?” she wonders to Derek. “That’s a big step. Hope you’re bringing something good to put under the tree for them, and nothing too embarrassing for this one.” Elbow nudging in Stiles’ direction, she winks.
Stiles wants to hit himself. Of course he needs a gift for Derek. They may be fake dating, but there’s no way to get a fake Christmas present.
“So, what do you want?” he asks when Whitney’s far enough away she can’t hear.
Raising an eyebrow, Derek asks, “For what?” with genuine curiosity.
“Christmas,” Stiles sighs. Off Derek’s blank stare he continues with, “Because we’re…” he gestures between them.
An eye roll he only manages to catch and stop hallway through. “Well, yeah. Fake, but yeah.”
Derek shrugs. “You’re a grown up, you can figure something out.”
Why Stiles is surprised by this, he’s not sure. For as nice as Derek’s smile is and bone-melting his laugh, he has a snide stubborn streak in him that drives Stiles up the wall when put to use. “Alright. Maybe you don’t get where I’m going here. You tell me what to get you, I tell you what to get me, and we basically buy our own Christmas presents. That way we’re not wasting any more money on this thing. I mean,” he huffs, “I feel bad enough you had to buy that ticket.”
Another nonchalant shrug, but the cherry on top is the smile shining in Derek’s eyes despite his stoic expression. “I already got you a present, Stiles.”
Stiles runs his fingers through his hair. This Christmas is a disaster. If he’s lucky a bike messenger will clip him as they walk out, resulting in a broken leg bad enough to make his dad forget about the trip home and easily explain late Christmas presents shipped home. “You won’t give me a clue anyway, will you?”
The resulting laugh isn’t loud, but it’s not soft either.
“But I’ll help you with your dad,” Derek offers as he finishes his coffee and leaves a tip on the table as Stiles wraps his scarf around his neck and pulls his winter coat off the back of his chair.
“I got my dad covered,” he explains before ducking his chin into his scarf as they push out into the chill of aging December.
“Except you don’t have your dad covered,” Derek reminds, helpful as ever.
“I know what to get him, which is, like, half the battle.”
Derek snorts. “Ten percent max, at this point. The rest is trying to find it in a store and then actually get it.”
“Your positive outlook on life is really one of the reasons I started dating you,” Stiles informs.
“Sure it wasn’t because the other option was being homeless?”
“Har har. Also, that really doesn’t make you look all that good, given the other option.”
Derek shrugs as he pulls at Stiles’ elbow, turning them the wrong direction at the street corner. “At least I’m not homeless.”
“You know, the homeless jokes are going to have to go into hibernation when we get to California,” Stiles reminds. “It’s cheap humor anyway.”
“Unlike some people, I can afford it,” Derek says, grinning so wide that Stiles finds himself with the crisp mental image of young, tiny Derek Hale coaxing a cat out from the other side of a strange yard’s fence and scratching it behind the ears.
It’s a memory Stiles wasn’t even aware he’d had to remember and it makes his stomach grow warm as it flops. Muttering, “God, you’re insufferable,” in the most sour tone he can muster, which is sour but lacks any real bite, is the only way he is prepared to deal with the sensation.
Derek laughs some more.
* * *
Stiles has gifts for everyone by the end of the day, though Scott’s is going to be late because it’s being shipped, but that’s because Scott’s his bestie and his bro and deserves something worthy of being shipped.
“Unlike your dad?” is Derek’s bantering response, for which he receives an eye rolling. Also, it makes Stiles all the more pleased with the purchase he managed to phone in during the thirty minutes Derek spent with some guy at the liquor store that, Stiles is sure, cost them money just for walking through the door and simply smelling the booze. It was high end and Stiles’ dad will probably be wrecked for affordable whisky for the rest of his life after this Christmas. He’d seen an antique shop a few blocks back and after some Googling and a few minutes standing in a corner trying to gather himself and stop from cackling in the middle of the very high end liquor store, he’d placed his order. What better way to convince his dad of the validity of his fake relationship than a present nobody but his fake boyfriend will appreciate? Without a doubt, having inside jokes is a token of proof for any relationship.
Of course, his anticipation for Derek’s face when opens said present on Christmas day is also a high.
They’re not quite loaded down with bags when they get back to the apartment, because the gifts have to be suitcase-sized, but they’ve definitely gone shopping. Pushing through the main doors, Stiles is trying to convince Derek to order in for the night instead of walking back out to the market, and doing a fairly good job of it, when Derek stops dead just inside the door, bringing them both up short. Mouth open to comment, he closes it as his gaze follows Derek’s to a tall blonde woman in the lobby who is curves, breasts, red lips, and white teeth shining through a smile that makes a chill run up his spine.
“Derek Hale,” the woman says, turning around fully to face them from where she’s waiting for the elevator. There’s a slick black rolling suitcase at her side with a large leather bag that is so casual it must cost a baby’s soul—which is what the price of purses may as well be judging from his latest chat session with Lydia on the matter.
“Kate.” Derek’s voice is low and chill, the word clipped out of him through the sheer base politeness of not ignoring her.
Glancing between the two, noting the way Kate’s eyes rake over Derek’s body, it doesn’t take a giant leap to rough out a summarized past between the two. From Derek’s body language, it doesn’t take much more to figure how it ended. One hand already free, Stiles takes a half step closer to Derek, until he can feel the heat of him, and slips his fingers into his front pocket. Derek doesn’t so much as twitch, so he gives a tug.
Green eyes snap to Stiles, expression frozen in hard neutrality.
“Let’s go up. I’m cold,” is the first thing Stiles can think of, and as if on cue his body finally registers Derek’s heat and he shivers, recognizing exactly how true the statement is.
“Who’s this?” is a hard, evasive question from the woman, Kate, at the elevator.
Throwing a hard glance Kate’s way, Stiles says, “None of your concern,” and pulls harder at Derek’s pants.
A warm, heavy hand lands on the back of Stiles’ neck, pushing him forward and guiding him toward the stairs. “Come on, Stiles,” is low and soft but still not quite right.
“I’m in the building, so I’ll see you again soon, Derek. Stiles,” she calls after their retreating backs.
Stiles wants to clench his teeth and shoot a glare back at her, but instead takes a breath as he half pulls and is half guided toward the stairs. The bags aren’t large but the stairwell’s really only wide enough for a person and a half anyway, Stiles arms are long and his fingers stay trapped in Derek’s pocket while the hand remains on his neck. It’s not until they’re in front of the door that Derek’s hand slides away and Stiles has to take his hand back so the pocket can be plundered for keys.
“Ex-girlfriend,” Derek says once they’re through the door. Dropping his bag in the entryway, he moves into the kitchen and starts making coffee. Stiles might be concerned it’s some kind of reaction, that Derek’s in shock, but after a little more than a week living with the guy, Stiles knows this is just him and there’s a reason the apartment perpetually smells of coffee.
“Yeah, I kind of… caught on to that.” Picking up Derek’s bag, Stiles takes the whole load to the couch where he dumps unwrapped Christmas before cozying up to his usual stool at the kitchen bar. “Not good, I take it?”
“Her family is in the publishing business as well. She was my editor for awhile, for my first novel, before Snow Doves-”
“You had a novel before Snow Doves?” comes out before Stiles can stop himself, and when Derek turns around he waves his hands. “No. Sorry. Sorry. That just- Sorry. Go on.”
He’s not as sorry, though, when Derek gives him a small smile before walking over as he waits for the kettle and continues. “She destroyed it about a week before I sent it in to my publisher.”
Stiles gapes. There are no words, just shock.
“So…” Derek takes a breath. “That was the end of that relationship.”
“She destroyed your book,” comes out as hollow disbelief because, seriously, Fahrenheit 451 isn’t meant to be played out on modern-day books, or authors for that matter. Not to mention the fact that Stiles is bumming a room off the man and has developed a healthy appreciation for exactly how hard Derek works. For someone to not just witness the writing of a novel, but be involved with it’s crafting, to then destroy it. His teeth clench.
Warm fingers wrap around his wrist, jolting Stiles back to the present. He’s half off the stool with Derek reaching over the bar holding him in place, smiling. “Going to fight for my honor?”
Stiles frowns, huffs, rolls his eyes, and sits back down. “Someone should.”
It’s a moment before Derek lets him go. “Thanks for the sentiment, but that was ages ago. Just now… I was shocked more than anything. I haven’t seen her for years. She left the family business to become… something.” The kettle whistles and he turns back to the stove. “I didn’t keep tabs.”
Good thing too, Stiles thinks. There’s no reason keeping up to date with something as terrifying at that. It’s a little chilling, actually, to think of her in the same building—and they don’t even know where she is exactly. Around the corner or-
Derek glances over his shoulder as he pauses from pour from the kettle into the French press, a single bushy eyebrow arched high, amusement lacing his features. Stiles feels heat in his ears, coughs. “Did I…” he’s trying to say ‘say that out loud,’ but the thought is a little too horrifying to put into words, so he just sits and stares as Derek’s lips turn into a smile and his shoulders shake with a chuckle as he turns back to the press.
Stiles isn’t sure why he’s surprise or embarrassed, this is his life after all.
“You’re right though,” Derek says as he turns back around and walks over with the press and two mugs, “it would definitely be better knowing where she is.”
* * *
When Stiles wakes up on Sunday it’s with morning wood hard enough to be uncomfortable and the dream sensation of Derek’s body against his to the definitely-not-dream sound of the blender. With a groan that he hopes sounds like irritation at being woken up and not irritation at not having a mouth on him, dick in him, or fingers pressing bruises into him, he rolls over, makes another low noise at the weight of his dick being pressed into the couch, and breathes low and deep as he thinks about things that won’t make him thrust into the cushions until he comes. Seriously, he needs to get ahold of himself. So he concentrates on the blender and the idea of vegetables and fruit being sent to their horrifying death until the thought takes a turn for the worse and he’s seeing Derek’s hands on the blender, holding it in place, instead.
Silence falls over the apartment when the blender stops, and Stiles switches gears, thinking about the horror movie marathon he’d had over Halloween. A series of movies compiled by himself and Scott, and watched together, over Skype, while eating popcorn and candy. But he needs to be thinking more about the blood and the gore and the stupidity of college students going out and staying in cabins in the woods and then hunting after strange noises and not paying attention to ominous messages from ominous gas station attendants who look all together ominous.
When the door finally closes behind Derek it’s not nearly soon enough because Stiles’ mind can’t focus on one thing this early in the morning, and instead of thinking about idiots being slashed and hacked to death and the pure terror of it all, Stiles has started to think about being in a creepy cabin with Derek and how, of course he would be distracted enough to get murdered. Derek’s distracting enough just being himself, with his smiles and his laughs, but he also knows what Derek’s naked chest looks like and how his legs look in tight runner’s leggings and-
“Jesus Christ,” rips out of his throat as he throws himself off the couch and stumbles to the bathroom. He can feel the wet spot on his boxers from his precome, which should be gross, but just makes him think about having just had his face inches away from cushions where Derek’s ass finds home every once in awhile. Now he’s thinking about Derek’s ass as he kicks the door shut behind him and turns on the shower, not that he makes it into the shower. Instead he pushes down his pajama bottoms and boxers, hissing between his teeth as the fabric brushes over the head of his erection, and proceeds to sprawl onto the cold top of the toilet. Legs splayed, he twists to reach and take a pump of hand lotion, barely used, but paired with the sink hand soap, before fisting himself.
The lotion’s cold enough to make him jolt at the first touch, but as his finger’s slide around his dick, pumping slick and slow, it becomes warm and good and his head falls back far enough to almost send him sliding off the toilet completely.
There’s a not so silent part of him that reminds him that this is kind of FUBAR, jacking off to Derek, who’s bathroom he’s in, who is just taking pity on him because his mother made him and because he’s nice enough to not let someone he kind of knows live homeless on the streets (or university offices) of New York. He’s in the man’s apartment, in his bathroom, thinking of having that head of dark hair between his legs, or being between Derek’s legs- his dick jumps at the idea, nerves hot with the thought of kneeling down in front of Derek, zipping open his jeans, nosing at the coarse dark hair and the heady scent at the base of his cock.
Stiles comes with a choked off breath, body tense, bare feet pressed hard against the bathroom tiles, head hitting the wall behind. When he melts back, hand covered, stomach dotted, ground not having gotten by completely unscathed, he mutters, “Shit,” because Derek’s his fake boyfriend and only just maybe his real friend.
The bathroom’s steaming with heat from the shower by now, so he jumps in, scrubs himself clean. He wipes down the floor and toilet with wet, lightly soaped tissue paper with a towel wrapped around his waist and hopes he doesn’t have to live through anything this personally humiliating in at least another week. Derek’s still running, which isn’t a surprise, he’s usually gone for at least an hour, shorter if it’s cold enough to get to him, so Stiles towel dries his hair, tosses on clean clothes, and decides to freeze the hotness of Derek out of his bones by getting coffee.
Yelp tells him a good place that’s far enough away that he’ll have time to sufficiently regret his decision, so he makes his way out, scarf wrapped tight around his neck, winter coat buttoned up, gloves without proper fingers that make Derek rolls his eyes whenever he sees them wrapped over his hands. He takes the bus and texts.
How do you stop yourself from crushing on someone?
Haven’t we had this conversation before?
Stiles huffs at his phone and wonders, not for the first time, how Lydia, of all people, has become his go-to person for relationship advice. Of course, with Scott married and in a completely different time zone, with a job that doesn’t allow him to have constant access to his phone, Lydia has become Stiles’ go-to person for a lot of desperately needy advice and conversations.
Who’s the new victim?
A friend, which is why I can’t be doing this.
You masturbate with him in mind yet?
Stiles can’t be held responsible for the warped noise that strangles out from the back of his throat. In his peripheral vision he sees at least two fellow bus riders turn to give him a wary glance. It’s a love-hate thing with Lydia. She gives good advice, is hard enough on him about it that he usually takes it because he’s afraid of what she’ll do to him if he doesn’t. On the other hand, she’s painfully upfront and frank about things, and even though he usually is too, she makes it a point to be when he doesn’t want her to.
I’m 78% sure you have.
So what’s the advice?
Sleep with him or stop being friends.
Your crushes are like Haley’s comet. Infrequent and unstoppable.
It’s exactly what he didn’t want to hear from her. He grits his teeth and glares at his phone, but that’s mainly because she’s undeniably right. Stiles doesn’t do well with crushes. It took him four years to get over Lydia, including the six months after she finally told him, to his face, that she wasn’t interested and it was never going to happen. Luckily they were in high school and it’s one of those memories he’s been able to chalk up to teenage stupidity and hormones. Shoving his phone back in his pocket, he glares out the window of the bus, pulls down on the stop line unnecessarily hard, and almost brains himself on the frozen sidewalk when he stomps down the steps onto the icy sidewalk
He’s in line for coffee at some hole in the wall place looking up at coffees that cost more than a coffee he’s ever bought has before, well, up until he started having brunch with Derek that is. Quickly he’s becoming intimidated by the list of coffees and blends that are making him astutely aware of how much he is not the clientele for this shop, his phone trills.
Just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean you get to have a hissy fit.
You really like this guy, don’t you?
The second message arrives just before he can jam his phone back into his pocket and halfway through his mental note to cancel the order for Lydia’s traditional flowers and Christmas chocolates this year. Resigned, he texts back:
Then you should definitely go for it.
He’s not sure how to tell Lydia he can’t ‘just go for it’ without upsetting a very delicate balance, mainly because he would then have to tell her about said delicate balance, and that will open a whole can of worms he is not ready to tackle. The can involves a lot of laughing, more laughing, choice words about Stiles’ mental faculties, and more laughing. It also, in all likelihood, doesn’t close—ever. If Lydia finds out, it’s guaranteed to be dug up and paraded out at his future wedding, if and when that should ever happen, as well as his funeral. Instead he says:
While consciously not tacking on the ‘for nothing’ that’s echoing in his head.
Fortunately, he doesn’t have to dwell on it for long because the line’s moving and in a second he’s faced with a barista who oozes coffee knowledge and snobbery, and, from the down turn of her lips, knows he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.
“Um…” isn’t the best way to start out, and the guy behind him sighs like he might be dying from old age or fighting back the urge to clobber Stiles on the back of the head so he can jump up in line. “Two coffees.”
The barista stares at him with unbridled disgust. “What kind?” makes him feel like the kind of freshmen who wanders into his upper division course by accident. The ones he desperately wants to pick on but can’t bring himself to—as long as they look as frightened as he feels right now.
“Any? Kind?” Somehow, both words are questions. “Just… something good.” Derek’s the coffee man in this not-relationship, and from the Yelp reviews, anything from here will do the trick.
She rolls her eyes and starts typing something into the register when he almost leaps across the counter with, “But make one of them sweet. Sugary. Anything,” because, as he’s just reminded himself, Derek is the coffee guy and, being all by his lonesome, Stiles can delight in the kind of coffee he loves and had made Derek look like he wanted to die of shame through association when he ordered it while Christmas shopping yesterday.
Now it’s the barista’s turn to utter a put-upon sigh as she types whatever it is she types in the computer and Stiles has to shell out nearly twenty dollars for two coffees. His heart breaks a little as he sees the bill disappear into the register and receives a small handful of ones and pittance of change back.
He gets lost in the ray of light shining down from parted clouds glory that is whatever the barista ordered for him when he picks up his two coffees after he hears his name called and takes the first sip. As soon as he has a free hand he’s contributing to the positive Yelp reviews, and he doesn’t even review places, just shamelessly uses the reviews of other people who care more about them than he does. This, however, is a delight worthy of putting some effort into to spread the word. Licking the frothing cream from his lip, he turns around to head out, suddenly aware he’s just standing in the shop, just to run directly into a body. A warm body, but not as warm as the scalding coffee that suddenly splashes the leg of his pants. He squawks part in pain, part in surprise, and part at the loss of a drink he doesn’t have the money to replace.
There’s froth on his shoe.
There’s froth on the stranger’s shoe too, and Stiles looks up to see a man glaring back at him. “Thanks,” is sardonic and frigid off the guy’s tongue.
“Not my fault you were so close to me,” Stiles bites back, because his hand hurts and his delicious drink is half gone, and the only thing saving his mood is the fact that Derek’s coffee has been spared except for a little spill from the opening of the lid.
They exchange a last glower before Stiles walks away, moving his lips to mock the growl of, “Asshole,” he hears muttered behind him. The stain on his pants practically freezes as he steps out of the shop and it’s a cold, wet, miserable bus ride back to the apartment.
* * *
“Let me get that for you,” is sweet honey of a voice and Stiles automatically stops in front of the door to allow the helpful stranger to oblige. Blonde hair and dark lips enter his field of vision and he instantly regrets the choice and wonders if turning tail and briskly walking away is completely out of the option. Instead of fleeing, he waits as Kate opens the heavy building door and props it open, waiting patiently for him to slide past her into the foyer. “Getting Derek Sunday morning coffee?” she wonders as they stand, waiting for the elevator.
Stiles’ skin itches, he’s cold, his leg is freezing, but he could take the stairs. He should take the stairs, but Kate’s hand is on his shoulder holding him in place. There’s nothing keeping him from brushing her off and walking away except that her nails are digging into his jacket enough he can feel the pressure through his layers and it kind of scares the crap out of him. If they were in public he’d be attempting to make eye contact with absolute anyone and working all his facial expressions to emit exactly how much he needs an adult, a more of an adult than himself, to get him out of the situation.
“How domestic,” comes after too long of a pause. Her voice implies he’s been inspected thoroughly, judged, and found wanting. “How’s Ginny Wolfe treating Derek these days?” The question would be innocent if he didn’t know what he knows about her, and the jab is just enough to knock some sense back into him.
He shrugs his shoulder.
She doesn’t let go.
“Can you…” he shrugs again, “let go of me?” Having to ask makes him feel like a kid in all the worst ways.
“Oh Stiles, I just want to have a friendly chat.”
Her fingers dig in a little more and he’s certain she does it just to make him aware of the fact that she’s doing anything but letting go. It goes from uncomfortable to violating in those few heartbeats and he clenches his teeth, thankful he’d already thrown away his cup so he has a free hand to reach up and grab her arm. Except he doesn’t have to, because there’s already a hand there, thick fingers Stiles is familiar with.
“I believe the man asked you to let go of him,” Derek growls out from behind them, knuckles going white as he tears Kate’s hand off. As soon as her hand is empty Derek releases her and reaches out though he doesn’t need to—Stiles is already a good two steps back with blossoming shame at having been rescued.
“Oh, Derek,” Kate greets as though he weren’t glaring at her in an unveiled attempt to bore holes into her head and possibly make it explode. “I was just asking Stiles here about Ginny Wolfe. The series seems to be treating you well.” She’s smiling, all dark lips and bright teeth and sharp, dangerous eyes.
Stiles kind of wants to punch her in the face.
Something of the intention must telegraph, because Kate’s eyes dart from Derek to him at the same moment Derek’s hand comes up to rest on the back of his neck. “Stairs, Stiles.”
“Hope to chat again soon, Stiles,” she calls after them.
“Only if it’s to your tombstone,” he bites back before the stairwell door closes behind them.
Derek sighs. “That…”
Glancing up, Stiles sees a smile and chuckles. “Was better than my escape attempt?” he wonders, still feeling self-conscious about the lack-there-of of one.
Derek’s smile becomes a little brighter. “You were getting there.” Then, attention sliding to the cup in Stiles’ hand, “What’s that?”
The look he gives Stiles is withering, but it’s Derek’s withering, not Kate’s, which means all it does is make Stiles think he’s cute. “I can smell that.”
“For you,” he adds, holding it up to grab.
Derek’s sleek and smells of sweat and cold as he reaches around Stiles to grab the cup that’s, by now, a disappointing lukewarm. Despite the fact, he takes a sip and makes a low, pleased noise that makes Stiles’ mind bleach white and he almost trips. The hand on his neck tightens just enough to keep him from falling completely and breaking his nose.
“It’s cold,” Stiles replies, because he’s desperate to play it cool and not think too hard about the fingers wrapped around his neck and how deliciously hot they feel against his child skin.
“This place is a ways away,” Derek comments, as they walk and he drinks.
“Yeah, needed to get out for a bit,” Stiles admits.
“You could go running with me.”
Stiles laughs. “No. No I really couldn’t. That’s not something you want to see.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“You look like you could run,” Derek counters, and Stiles never needed to glance over his shoulder and see Derek’s eyes scanning him from shoulder to ankles.
He shivers and Derek’s fingers massage at his neck, which is all kind of unhelpful. “Yeah, well. I didn’t mean I couldn’t run,” he says in a hurry, turning back around and focusing hard on the stairs and not on the fact that Derek really doesn’t have any reason to be touching him anymore. “I run just fine. A good portion of my life is running. Running when it’s ball-shrinkingly freezing outside, on the other hand, is not my thing.”
Derek hums in consideration, and waits patiently for Stiles to open the door to the third floor hall. Not that he gives Stiles a break by letting him go once they’re through or anything. “Once you get going it’s not that bad. Warms you up pretty fast. Especially with the right gear.”
“Great,” Stiles replies, neither needing to think about Derek getting going, warming up, or with any gear. What he needs is another shower, a cold one, and someone to tell him to stop this ridiculousness. Obviously that someone isn’t going to be Lydia, because her advice is terrible.
“Thanks for the coffee, Stiles,” Derek says as they walk into the apartment, fingers running up through the hairs on the back of his skull before he wanders off to the bathroom and the shower Stiles needs a hell of a lot more.
Instead he opens his laptop and starts research apartments.
Four hours later Derek comes into the kitchen to make lunch and Stiles, in a pit of despair, is watching Netflix. There’s nothing he can afford, and what he can afford looks a hundred times as shady as the place he was just evicted from.
* * *
Stiles is looking forward to sitting in his own seat and mulling over how weird and awkward and potentially horrible and disastrous Christmas is going to be, alone, without Derek, who’s seat is ten rows up on the other side of the plane. Instead, Derek goes up to the check-in counter, gets their seats changed, and then puts his hand on Stiles’ wrist when he grabs for his bag at ten thousand feet and says, “Your dissertation will still be there, believe it or not, after Christmas.”
Rolling his eyes, Stiles sits back and taps his phone against his leg. “Just because Erica told you to take time off of writing, doesn’t mean I have to.”
A tense, pained expression crosses Derek face. For how much Derek hates Ginny Wolfe, he sure loves to write the stories. Since first finding him laughing, Stiles’ heard a lot more of it. “If I can’t work, nobody gets to work,” he says finally.
Stiles snorts out, “Right,” but the next time he digs into his backpack all he pulls out are his headphones and a book. It’s a history book, and he can all but feel Derek’s stink eye. “Hey. It’s all I have. If you’d let me know about the work embargo before packing, I could have found something more suited to your vacationing tastes. Maybe a good supernatural mystery thriller?” He grins at Derek’s tight press of lips, and takes the silence as approval.
Until Derek takes his highlighter that is.
“I can’t read this and not highlight. Do you know how helpful highlighting is to the learning process?” Stiles protests, not caring that his voice is getting high and whiny, or that the woman in front of them just turned around to shoot a stink-eye of her own.
“Actually, not very. Taking notes is far more efficient.”
“Great,” Stiles says, reaching for the highlighter and sighing as Derek tosses it into his other hand and holds it out into the alley, nearly stabbing the seven year old across from him with it. “Then that means it’s not really helping me work, which means you can give it back to me.”
“It doesn’t work like that, Stiles.”
“Moooom,” the seven year old moans, and Derek’s eyes go wide, arm retracting so fast he goes from almost stabbing a child with a highlighter to barely avoiding bludgeoning Stiles in the face with his shoulder. Not that Stiles minds, because he welcomes the distraction and grabs the highlighter back with a crow of triumph before folding in toward the window.
“Nope. I got it back, mine. Fair and square.”
He sits, reads, and spitefully highlights with his left hand, furthest from Derek, even if it means the lines are wobbly and the side of his hand is yellow by the time he wakes up, head on Derek’s shoulder, as they start their descent. He doesn’t blush and Derek doesn’t say anything about the wet spot of drool on his shoulder.
* * *
It’s not until they’re at baggage claim that Stiles allows himself a moment to address the messages that had filled the screen of his phone as soon as he took it off airplane mode.
My mom said something about you’re bringing Derek Hale to dinner tomorrow?! You’re LIVING with him? Dude. DUDE. How do I not know about this already?
Is something wrong with him? Or you? I mean. DUDE. I better be getting some info when you get here.
Please tell me your life is awkward enough that the man you have a crush on and can’t tell is the man you’re supposedly dating and currently living with.
I told Lydia.
By accident. I was checking to see if she knew something. Since she’s your dating guru now that I’m married.
I can still be your dating guru.
Stiles sighs. He texts Lydia back first, because that’s the easy one.
Plead the 5 th.
Then Scott, which is also easy, but reminds him he needs to figure out a way to get some one on one time with his best friend so he can relive the horror that is his life currently in private.
Tell you all about it soon. Just landed.
My mascara is running and my stomach hurts. You’re lucky I’m not in a meeting.
The fact that his life is so messed up it’s enough to make Lydia, the Ice Queen, cry from laughter isn’t much of any consolation.
Nice. See you soon!
Looking up from his phone he finds Derek, in front of him, close, possibly in his personal space, suitcase by his side. Stiles doesn’t mind, he’s getting used to Derek being in and around his personal space. “Hm?”
“Spacing out there a bit,” Derek says with a smile. “Ready?”
Slipping his phone back into his pocket, Stiles grabs the handle of his suitcase and nods. “Yeah.”
His dad’s waiting at the baggage claim curb in the cruiser. Derek raises an eyebrow at the sight. “If he’s in the cruiser nobody bothers him about parking and staying,” he explains right before they’re spotted.
“Hey dad!” He jogs up, sighing into the warm hug his father gives him that makes him feel like he’s small again, being embraced and overwhelmed. It’s comfortable and familiar and very much home.
When they pull apart Derek is there with both suitcases trailing behind him looking, for the life of him, like a boyfriend meeting the parents for the first time. A pointed glare in Stiles’ direction makes him aware of his grin and he consciously chokes down the laughter that’s threatening to bubble up. Then the Sheriff says, “Derek,” short and overly polite and Stiles can’t help but snicker. The fact that he tries to hustle Stiles into the front of the cruiser, leaving Derek in the back, behind the metal grating, makes it all the more hilarious.
“You’re not putting him in the back by himself,” Stiles laughs before crawling into the back. A moment later his dad is heaving a sigh and Derek climbs in after him, features still strained and nervous but now there’s a shadow of a smile playing at his lips. It’s the first time in days Stiles is feeling anything close to alright regarding this whole trip.
Once they’re piled in and pulling away from the curb, his dad glances into the rearview and asks, “How’s the family, Derek?”
He’s been a Sheriff’s son long enough, and Stiles isn’t ignorant to what’s happening. Amusing enough, though, is the way Derek shifts under the brief scrutiny and the reminder that the Sheriff, his fake boyfriend’s very real father, knows his family well enough to know how they are without having to ask. The cruiser doesn’t help, no doubt, and while it’s not a lie that it helps with parking at the curb, all the Sheriff really has to do is flash his badge and a friendly smile. There is something to be said that he’s not in uniform with his gun flashing. Then again, with the shotgun hooked between the front seats and in clear view, the uniform isn’t all that necessary. Stiles doesn’t know if he should be embarrassed, amused, or flattered that his dad is breaking out the intimidation methods—he’s only seen it once before, when he was an undergrad and brought Luke home over spring break his sophomore year.
Beside him, Derek is saying something about the family being fine, seems to get a grip on himself after the initial discomfort, and starts a real conversation. “Laura’s biting at my dad’s heels to become CEO and push him into retirement, which, honestly, might be the death of him. I don’t think my dad can so much retire as he can sprout wings and fly.”
John laughs, says, “Him and me both,” and Stiles rolls his eyes. He’s been trying to get his dad to leave for the force for a few years now. He may be Sheriff with a team of deputies under him, and Beacon Hills may be a small town, but working in law enforcement isn’t without its dangers. From the beginning it’s been a loosing battle, and worst is that his dad knows it and Stiles is smart enough to know he should have quit pushing ages ago. “What about your mom?”
“She’s good—the same as any other year: students and university politics. I’m sure Stiles knows more about the kinds of things she’s dealing with than I do.” Derek’s knee jostles Stiles’ and Stiles shoot him a look that he hopes shows how very unimpressed he is with the gesture and how very much he’s already paying attention.
“Very not exciting, if it’s anything like my life,” he chirps, for the sake of saying something.
“I wouldn’t say that. You’re life seems to have gotten pretty exciting as of late,” his dad muses.
When Stiles looks up, his dad is staring at him in the rearview with uncomfortable intensity that makes him want to squirm in his seat—he doesn’t, but it’s a near thing. If he thought Talia were the kind of person to go ahead and tell his dad what happened despite Stiles asking her not to, he’d think his dad might know the truth and be putting him through the grinder out of fatherly spite. Talia’s not that person, however, so Stiles’ concerns are unfounded. More likely than not it’s his dad’s jab at Stiles living with someone he’s never heard about, at least, not in regards to a relationship. In that case, Stiles has it coming.
“Very exciting,” Derek says beside him.
With a frustrated growl, Stiles turns just enough to punch him in the arm. It’s not subtle at all and when he looks back at the mirror his dad’s eyeing him again. “He’s making fun of me,” he says as way of explanation and relieved that it actually works—kind of.
An uncomfortable tension hangs in the car that definitely does not show any indication of fading over time, but before Stiles has a chance to break it with a joke or the harmless ramblings of how much he still enjoys lording his new educator power over undergrads, his dad opens his mouth. “So, Derek-”
Certainty of impending embarrassment and horror fills Stiles so suddenly he spasmodically jerks in his seat, receiving a sharp, questioning glance from Derek. A quick calculation tells him he won’t be able to open the door and throw himself out quite soon enough. His dad doesn’t disappoint.
“I’m sure Stiles forgot to mention it,” he throws another glance up in the mirror at Stiles, “but he typically participates in the Deputy Auction at the Sheriff’s Department Christmas party.”
Stiles’ stomach curls in around itself, squishing a suffering moan out from his lungs. Beside him, Derek’s eyebrows are raised a fraction, eyes sliding from the back of the Sheriff’s head to Stiles. ‘Deputy Auction?’ he mouths silently, a smile growing on his lips and brightening his eyes. The exact moment his mind makes the connections and his features dim in budding confusion is painfully clear. “Deputy Auction?” he says, out loud this time.
From behind the wheel, the Sheriff hums in affirmation. “Did Stiles not tell you? He’s a Reserve Deputy.”
“No,” Derek says, and Stiles pointedly does not look at him because he can already feel a blush crawling up his neck. “He didn’t.”
“Has been since his undergraduate days. Even has a few arrests under his belt,” and Stiles is caught between a rush of satisfaction and his still very present mortification at the sound of pride in his father’s voice. “Anyway, all single deputies take place in the auction. So you’ll be on your own for the second half of the party.”
“I’m not single anymore,” Stiles points out, fully aware of railroading Derek’s question. He may have forgotten to mention the specifics of what Stilinski Christmas would mean, but really, it’s Derek’s fault for cutting him off that morning at brunch, the Sheriff’s Department Christmas Party was on his list of events for the holidays—equally fun and detestable.
“You’re not married,” his dad shoots back.
Nobody can argue with that one, so Stiles settles back, arms crossed over his chest. He does, however, say, “I can’t leave Derek alone for half the party.”
“You also can’t disappoint your fans.” Now his dad has crossed the line between informative and joshing at Stiles’ expense.
“Fans?” Derek wonders.
Stiles sneaks a peak, finds Derek’s decided to roll with the confusion and take as much pleasure as the Sheriff in making Stile’s first hour back in Beacon Hill a terrible one. So he tries to get out, “No. He’s being-”
Interrupting effortlessly, the Sheriff answers, “A number of Beacon Hills residents have been vying for my son’s attentions for years before you walked into the picture.”
“Really now?” Derek raises an eyebrow in Stiles’ direction before he has the chance to look away. It doesn’t do anything for the hot burn that’s now claimed his neck and cheeks.
“And now we talk about something else,” Stiles declares. “Like how Derek’s in the middle of writing a new Ginny Wolfe book, and how much he loves it.”
Derek’s eyes widen, his head jolting back as though he’s been slapped, before his brow furrows. Someone might call the look murderous, Stiles calls it sweet, sweet justice.
Then his dad says, “Well, it’s nice someone in the house is making a paycheck that keeps you off that instant noodle stuff you nearly killed yourself on last year,” and Stiles resigns himself to the worst Christmas ever. At least he’ll be able to escape to his room for some peace and quiet for a bit when they get to the house, a break from his embarrassing father and Derek’s increasing list of question he sees piling up in his head.
Unfortunately they get to the house and, as they grab their bags and walk up to the door the Sheriff says, “I’m not under any reservations,” and pauses after unlocking the door, looking back at them over his shoulder.
If Stiles were a luckier person, the tight, nervous closing of his throat would clamp shut completely and he’d pass out and or die on the spot. Instead it just makes him incapable of speaking while Derek wonders, “Sheriff?” besides him.
“But I just want to remind you,” sharp eyes bore into him, “these walls are thin.”
Derek makes a kind of choking noise and Stiles wants to run into the street and jump in front of the next car that passes. Of course, on their street, in Beacon Hills, that could take twenty minutes.
“Of course Sheriff,” Derek answers for the both of them, sounding very proper about the whole thing, which is how Stiles finds himself alone, with Derek, in his old bedroom. Except it’s not quite the same as it was when he was a kid. There’s a queen bed now, from those summers he’d been in Beacon Hills during his undergrad, as a reserve deputy, and decided he’d outgrown his narrow twin bed and wanted something a little more grown up. His desk is still there, lined with books, but they’re university text books that he was too dense to sell back because he thought he may need them again and then got stupidly attached to. The Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Call of Duty posters are still up because they still are and will always be awesome.
“Nice room,” Derek notes. There’s a smirk in his voice and on his face.
“You can sleep on the floor,” Stiles shoots back.
Derek huffs a laugh and tosses his carryon bag onto the bed. “No way. I’m giving you a place to live and spending Christmas with you dad, I’m sleeping right where I should,” he catches Stiles’ eyes, “on the bed.”
Stiles doesn’t have a response to that one, so he mutters sourly under his breath as he hooks his backpack on the back of his desk chair.
* * *
Stiles looks at himself in the mirror and tugs at his collar for the umpteenth time in the span of five minutes before grumbling a curse under his breath and loosening his brown tie to pop open the first button. It’s a battle he fights and looses against himself every year, knowing all the other deputies will be buttoned up to the neck with their ties snug under their Adam’s apples, but it’s just too uncomfortable. Besides, it’s Beacon Hills. He’s known these people since he was born, or they were born. A little informality isn’t going to harm his reputation any more than he’s managed to on his own.
Stepping out of the bathroom, he pops into the bedroom to grab his coat and wallet before heading downstairs where Derek’s lounging on the couch watching some kind of sports game that isn’t nearly as interesting as the line of the back of his neck or his dark hair. “Yo.”
Derek glances over his shoulder, and keeps twisting, until he’s halfway turned around on the couch looking at Stiles.
“I know, alright. I’m supposed to be buttoned up, but it makes me feel like I’m being choked by some kind of Gremlin,” Stiles groans, shaking out his jacket as he slides his arms into it. “Also, we’re running kind of late.”
“Yeah,” is Derek’s oddly hollow response, or maybe just muted thanks to the game, which clicks off a second later. “I actually kind of thought your dad was joking about the whole…” he stands and waves his hand in Stiles’ general direction, “deputy thing.”
With a snort, Stiles reaches for the keys on the side table. “Not so much. Come on, let’s go,” he encourages, carefully keeping his eyes off Derek, because he’s ninety-something percent certain that if he looks at him for more than a handful of seconds at a time he’ll never be able to look away. Nobody should look that devastatingly handsome, ever. He should have bitten his tongue three days ago and never told Derek to pack something nice.
His dad had a deputy pick him up a couple of hours ago to go to the precinct. There was a mention about last minute paperwork, which Stiles grumbled about, but quietly, because if last minute paperwork means his dad gets to honest to goodness take the next three days off, then he’s fine with it. It leaves the Sheriff’s squad car for Stiles and Derek to drive to the party, which is just plain weird. Stiles has only ever driven the Sheriff’s car a handful of times, and that was when he was learning to drive before his dad got him the jeep.
The car’s dark and he steals a few glimpses of Derek in the passenger’s seat because he can. Black slacks, dark blue button-up tucked in, deep maroon tie, dark heather gray sports coat. Once he starts looking, it’s a little hard to stop, so he clenches his hands on the steering wheel until his knuckles turn white and his fingers hurt and glares at the road like it personally offended him. It hasn’t, but Derek’s clothes have with all of their… being there, on Derek. He gets a momentary flash of Derek clothes not being there on Derek, nearly swerves into the oncoming lane, which isn’t actually dangerous because it’s Beacon Hills and there’s nobody in the other lane, but would be embarrassing. Then again, that’s a constant state of living for Stiles, particularly since they landed.
* * *
They’re not even through the doors and Scott has spotted them, sliding through people like a fish before bounding forward for a hug that’s just as warm and welcome as his dad’s.
“Hey, Scott,” he answers back as they pull apart and he steps back, overly aware of Derek, who hasn’t moved and is just standing, watching them. “This is-”
“Derek Hale. I know,” Scott interrupts, eyes already on Derek, considering, smile not quite as bright. He reaches out and Derek takes it without pause. “Nice to see you. Or meet you, again. I don’t think we ever really got to know each other before your family moved.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Derek agrees. “You’re Scott?”
Scott rolls his eyes. “Dude. Do you guys not share photos or something?” he accuses Stiles, which is a perfectly valid complaint and Stiles is just happy he’s apparently enough of a failure that Scott doesn’t even bat an eye at the idea. “Come on, come on already,” Scott urges, sliding up on Stiles’ side opposite Derek and throwing an arm over his shoulder. “You guys are missing out on the free booze.”
“What about you?”
“I’m DD’ing tonight so Kira can have some fun,” Scott laments, though there’s not much heart in it. “You’re sitting at our table,” he adds, as though there were a question. They’re always at the same table. They’ve been at the same table since they were in college and could actually start attending this twenty-one and over event that had been so mysterious and amazing and closed off to them before that. Scott loved his first Sheriff’s Department Christmas Party. Stiles had spent it agonizingly sober and every bit jealous of his tipsy friend.
“You know, you can always get one of the deputies to drive you home later.” It’s their job tonight. Well, one of them. The deputies act as designated drivers when the night ends, making sure all attendees get back home safely and without accident. If his dad had told him that Stiles would have held off on becoming a reserve until he was at least twenty-two.
“Naw. We got a babysitter for Cassie, but Kira and I can’t both be hung over tomorrow.” He sighs tragically. “Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. She’ll get up almost as early as Christmas, and trust me, that does not for a good early morning hangover waking make.”
Stiles winces at the thought. He’s been the bearer of one of Cassie’s wake-up calls. It came with a high pitched cry of “pancakes” at around the same time as an foot on his stomach and, after a quick fall, an elbow on his temple that would have been in his eye had he not been folding in on himself from the foot. The idea of going through that when hung over isn’t a pleasant one.
“So, Derek, you alright with seeing Stiles paraded around by someone else for the second half of the night?” Scott wonders behind Stiles’ head while raising the hand not around Stiles’ shoulder to pinch him in the ribs. A sharp reminder that they have a talk coming up and Scott’s got questions that need answering.
Derek chuckles. “I think I’ll manage.”
“You sure? Ms. Peppernick got a little handsy last year.”
“Oh God, Scott,” Stiles moans, eyeing the bar in desperation. He wants a drink—badly.
“She pinched your butt,” Scott says, as though it’s his duty as Stiles’ best friend to remind him of the horrors of his past and shove them in the face of his boyfriend, who Scott doesn’t even know is a fake boyfriend. Sometimes it’s a wonder that they’re best friends. “I think I even saw her reach for-”
“Nope,” Stiles yelps, jumping forward. “Nope. Nope. Nope. Kira!” They’re too far, but he shouts it anyway as soon as he spots her at their usual table, and rushes forward. He’s not running, but nobody wouldn’t call it fleeing.
Kira stands for a hug, and whispers, “Nice job,” as they pull away. He doesn’t have to follow her gaze to know who she’s looking at, and he tries not to blush because Derek and things involving him are making him blush far too much these days. Nothing’s wrong with blushing, but he’s about as masculine as he ever gets in his deputy uniform and turning beet-red kind of ruins the image. He knows because it’s happened before.
“Ah, well, don’t go complimenting me just yet,” he warns under his breath. Once he tells Scott, Kira will know everything.
She gives him a questioning look, but then Derek and Scott are there and Kira’s holding her hand out and introducing herself. “So, you’re my drinking partner tonight.”
“I wasn’t really planning-” Derek starts, and doesn’t get any further.
“Doesn’t matter,” Kira says. “Scott and I are looking to make Cassie an older sister,” she says with a smile and a wink to Stiles who grins and turns to high-five Scott, “and work on that starts after the holidays. This is my last big bash before I go dry, so.” She settles him with a hard look and repeats, “You’re my drinking partner tonight,” in a tone that doesn’t leave any room for question.
At Derek’s look, Stiles shrugs and holds up his hands. “I got nothing. But I will be sober to drive us home,” he says with a smile. If he’s honest with himself, he’s interested to see what Derek will be like with a few drinks in him. Perhaps drunk. He’s seen Derek with a few casual holiday drinks at Hale family Thanksgivings in the past, but if Kira’s looking to party, well, this has a likelihood of turning into something else completely.
There’s not much to say after that, so Derek lets himself get dragged off toward the bar and Stiles gets dragged into a seat beside Scott. “Dude. Explain. Now.”
Stiles, with a heaving sigh, does, and he doesn’t really appreciate the way Scott laughs at him. Loud enough that they get more than few looks.
When Kira and Derek come back, double fisting drinks, she’s in the middle of saying, “I can’t believe you’re putting up with this,” and Stiles wonders when Scott texted her.
Derek shrugs and takes a drink from one of the cups. “My mom-”
“Oh my God. Stiles, his mom knows about it?” Kira sighs, rolling her eyes as she takes her seat on the other side of Scott. “You know your dad wouldn’t-”
“Nobody tells my dad anything,” Stiles jumps in, voice strained. “Nothing.”
“Nobody tells me what?”
Stiles goes ridged in his chair before slowly twisting around. His dad’s standing a few feet behind him looking caught between serious and amused. “That I’m drinking tonight,” Stiles says, reaching out blindly with his hand until he finds a cold cup in his fingers. His dad stares at him and he raises the cup to take a large gulp.
“Deputies aren’t allowed to drink.”
“Which is why you weren’t supposed to know about it,” he retorts, taking another drink because, well, why not?
After a second his dad raises a finger. “One drink, Stiles. You’re supposed to be a designated driver for God’s sake.” With a sigh, a look Heaven-wards, and a mutter under his breath, he walks off to what Stiles calls the Adult Table and is officially unofficially known as the Elites of Beacon Hills table where people donate exorbitant amounts of money to the Sheriff’s Department to sit with Sheriff Stilinski and the mayor for dinner.
Turning back around, Stiles melts in his chair and chugs the rest of the drink as his three table-mates stare at him. “What?”
“How long are you staying again?” Scott wonders.
“Until the thirtieth,” Stiles answers, crunching on a piece of ice. He’d considered making some excuse and going for a shorter amount of time, but in the end it’s been five months since he’s seen his dad and Derek said he was okay with taking the time.
Kira barks a laugh. “Good luck with that one.”
Derek pats him on the arm and Stiles wallows, not even able to take marginal pleasure in the illicit drink he’s had.
What does bring him unexpected pleasure, however, is the easy conversation that they have over appetizers and drinks—even if his are painfully virgin. With a few not so virgin drinks in him, Derek smiles more easily, the big, toothy smile that makes Stiles feel like puddling on the floor, though also a surprising amount jealous that other people get to see it so easily. Back in New York, over the past two weeks, he’s had to work for those smiles. Not all that hard, but still. He almost forgets about the second half of the night until the lights dim and the stage brightens and his dad walks up to the podium.
Derek raises an eyebrow at him and Stiles desperately wants to take the drink out of his hand. He never likes this part. Once it’s over with, he’s fine, but it’s the build up that kills him.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending this years Sheriff’s Department Christmas Party. As you all know, the money raised here goes directly toward the Sheriff’s Department. This year we’re hoping to raise funds to replace the radio system that might be the same one that was in place when I first became Sheriff.” There’s a light, polite chuckle in the room.
Stiles doesn’t quite keep himself from muttering, “Finally.” He’s been bugging his dad about those radios for years. They’re old and shitty.
“So, as per usual before our holiday dinner this evening, we’ll hold the Deputy’s Auction.”
A raucous applause doesn’t quite drown out the few cat calls that join the clapping. Groaning, Stiles pushes himself to his feet. “Well, gentlemen, lady,” he says, nodding to Kira, “I’m off to do my duty. Please, remember me fondly when I’m gone.”
Scott rolls his eyes. “Jesus, Stiles. You make it sound worse every year.”
“It is worse every year,” he moans back. Maybe because every year it’s a painful stab of a reminder of just how single he’s remained.
“Just go already. It’ll be worse if they have to call you out and find you.”
Kira’s right about that one, so Stiles slides out of his chair and makes his way to the front with the half-dozen other single deputies.
Thankfully, his dad isn’t the one in charge of the auction. If it weren’t bad enough that he gets auctioned off in front of his father, it would be downright lethally awkward to get auctioned off by his father. Layne, the dispatcher, is actually in charge of that one. She’s enthusiastic and most of the town recognizes her voice, which Stiles lets fade into the background of his running thoughts as he waits his turn at the back of the line. While the back means having to be in the uncomfortable position of being last, it almost means a few less minutes of being with whoever purchases him, and God forbid if it’s Ms. Peppernick again. He might die. Of course, the lineup isn’t his decision, it goes alphabetically, and there just hasn’t been someone beyond ‘S’ in the alphabet for about—well, since Stiles became a reserve.
“And last, but definitely not least, is our much loved reserve deputy,” Layne announces. There’s applause and some whistles, like with all the others, and Stiles shifts uncomfortably. “Get out your wallets and checkbooks ladies and gentlemen, because word on the street is that this fine young man brought someone home this Christmas.”
Stiles feels himself burn, suddenly and completely. He wants to bury is face in his hands, but, while it’s dim, people can definitely still see him. He also wants to fall into a hole and die. This is not his life, except it shouldn’t be a surprise because it definitely is.
“Our hearts might break, but you have to wonder: Could this be the last time you get to buy this fine gentleman?” Let nobody say Layne’s not good at stirring the crowd. It’s the other reason she’s in charge of the auction. “Deputy Stilinski, if you would…” She steps back and he walks up onto the stage, into the blinding light, to his mark, and beams out at the crowd like he’s delighted to see them and hopes he’s not still blushing. It’s hard to tell, with the lights bright and hot as they are.
“And the bidding starts at fifty dollars.”
He’s not insulted. That’s where the bidding starts for all the deputies. Beacon Hills isn’t overflowing with people rolling in cash.
A familiar, wavering voice calls out, “Fifty,” and Stiles begs all the potential gods and goddesses and supernatural creatures of the world to not let Ms. Peppernick be the winner.
Stiles’ grin becomes a little more genuine at that. Three hundred is the max any deputy’s gone for in the past five years. The fact that he’s getting so close is actually pretty flattering.
“Three hundred,” is Ms. Peppernick’s wavering voice.
There’s a lull. Layne says, “We have three hundred dollars from Ms. Peppernick. Going once-”
“Five hundred dollars,” is a very familiar bass.
Stiles’ eyes bug, jaw dropping as he tries to look out at the crowd and can’t see much beyond the lights. He thinks he sees Derek, standing, with his hand raised, but he might just be imagining things. Like he’s imagining hearing the amount, because that’s just-
“Oh. Alright. We have-” Layne coughs the surprise out of her voice. “We have five hundred dollars from the gentleman at table seven.” There’s an indignant squawk in the background that might be Ms. Peppernick, but she doesn’t bid again. “Going once. Going twice. Sold! To the man at table seven. Come on up and receive your deputy!”
The room is unnervingly quiet as Stiles waits and, in moments, Derek appears, smiling softly like he’s pleased with himself instead of shelling out five hundred dollars for Stiles. It’s ridiculous. More so when he holds out his hand and Stiles takes it, feeling hot and nervous all the sudden and very self-conscious. It’s nothing compared to how every nerve in his body lights when he steps off the stage and Derek moves in, far too close, and presses his mouth to Stiles’. The kiss is chaste and dry, but it wipes Stiles’ mind so blank Derek has to put a hand around his neck and push him forward to get him moving once they’ve parted.
“What?” is the only word he’s managed to think, much less form, by the time they’re back at their table and he’s sitting next to a grinning Scott and Kira.
“It would be a little weird if your boyfriend didn’t at least try to win,” Derek answers, taking his seat next to Stiles.
“But…” Stiles blinks, shakes his head, and turns on him. “Five hundred dollars? That’s not trying. That’s… that’s wiping out the competition.”
Derek shrugs. “You have a rich boyfriend.”
“I have a rich fake boyfriend,” Stiles reminds them, or mostly himself, definitely himself. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“You’d rather spend the evening with Ms. Peppernick again?” Derek asks, eyebrow raised.
Stiles jaw shuts so fast his teeth hurt.
“That’s what I thought.”
* * *
Stiles wakes to the sensation of being shoved onto his back. It’s not necessarily rough or sexy, just is, and he blinks awake groggily because whatever time it is, it is too early. “Too early,” he grumbles, just to make sure whoever’s doing the shoving knows.
“For you maybe,” Derek mutters, “but I’m ready for my run and I can’t do that if I’m trapped against a wall.”
The bed shakes under him and Stiles half opens an eye to see Derek weaseling out from a narrow space between Stiles and the wall and climbing over him. In half a second he’s instantly awake, terrified the only running Derek is doing is from being trapped between a wall and Stiles’ morning wood, except there is no morning wood, and with that knowledge, he wants to be back asleep. “No working,” he grumbles, eyes closing again.
Derek’s huff is a warm, sour wash of morning breath. Stiles wrinkles his nose and turns more on his stomach to bury his face in his pillow. “It’s not work, it’s a run.”
“Ugh. You’re ridiculous,” is a thick muffle of words into his pillow.
The bed dips a final time before springing back as Derek finally crawls off. “I have a routine,” Derek says, then sighs. “Just go back to sleep.”
Stiles doesn’t need the permission, but he does just that. Unfortunately, being woken up the one time means he doesn’t quite reach that blissful state of unconsciousness again, and he’s waking up for real, and none too happy about it, not too much later, which is unfair because while Derek and his dad got home around eleven, Stiles wasn’t done driving people home until twelve-thirty. More than a few people take advantage of the designated driver deputies to get their babysitters back home as well. By the time he got home he just crawled into bed with Derek because it’s his bed and he didn’t remember where his sleeping bag was.
“Awful generous donation Derek made last night,” his dad comments when he stumbles into the kitchen, following the smell of coffee.
Rolling his eyes, Stiles pours himself a mug and moves over to the fridge. Eggs, spinach, and bacon: the makings of a fine breakfast. He pulls them out. “It was for a good cause,” Stiles says over his shoulder.
“For the department, or keeping you out of Ms. Peppernick’s clutches?” His dad’s grinning at the paper.
“Jesus. Does everybody know about Ms. Peppernick?”
A shrug. “Anybody who’s been to the party and has eyes, Stiles.”
“I should have arrested her for sexual harassment last year,” Stiles complains at the eggs as he cracks them into a bowl. “You eat?”
His dad hums. “But I’ll have some bacon. And Derek hasn’t.”
“Duh. Derek only has shitty protein shakes before he runs, and since your blender broke last year, I don’t think he even had one of those.” He cracks an extra two eggs anyway. Either his dad will eat them or he and Derek will.
“Did you at least give her a drive home?”
“Ms. Peppernick?” Stiles asks back, rhetorical. “She wouldn’t let anyone else do it. Still even managed to get in some seriously inappropriate groping.” He wrinkles his nose at the memory, can still feel her bony fingers pinching his ass. The back door opens, letting in the cold and Derek. “You need to lay down some ground rules about how to treat the deputies.”
“I think I did alright,” Derek muses, sliding up beside Stiles to reach up and grab a glass from the cupboard. How and when Derek found out where glasses are in the Stilinski kitchen, Stiles doesn’t know.
“We’re talking about driving Ms. Peppernick home,” his dad supplies.
The faucet runs and Derek asks, “Your ass alright?” humor lacing his voice.
“No, actually. I think I’ve bruised.”
“Like a peach,” Derek chuckles. “Such a shame.”
“It is,” Stiles insists, lifting the fork he’s whisking with and turning to jab it in Derek’s direction. “My ass is fine. Pristine. Top of the line. Prime real estate.”
Derek takes a drink.
Derek shrugs. “I’m not disagreeing.”
From the table, John coughs, loudly, chair scraping as he stands up. “Alright, new house rule.”
Stiles and Derek turn in question.
“I get two extra piece of bacon and you two stop talking about my son’s ass.”
Stiles flushes, too embarrassed to find the way Derek’s eyes are suddenly anywhere but him or his dad amusing. Long moments pass as his dad stares them down until Stiles gets with the program and nods. “Yes. Sure. Yeah, but you know, we were just-”
“I don’t care. I don’t want to hear it.” With a rustle of the newspaper, his dad walks out. A second later the TV is on.
“So…” Stiles says, turning back to his thoroughly whipped eggs. “I’m going to just… finish breakfast.”
“And I’m going to take a shower,” Derek supplies, but before he leaves he lingers and asks, “There enough for me?”
Stiles snorts. “Yes, idiot. Of course.”
* * *
The day passes with a quiet kind of ease that seems too… easy. Derek and his dad watch sports while Stiles makes pies for Christmas Eve dinner at the McCall house, eventually joining them once they’re in the oven and the timer’s on. His dad’s in his chair and so he lays down on the couch and puts his feet in Derek’s lap, because it’s the best split between his desire to inhabit the couch and doing something coupley, he supposes, that doesn’t involve sitting all up in Derek’s space. He might be feeling a little bad for having shoved Derek into the wall over the night as well—but his sleeping habits of being in the middle of the bed are pretty strong.
Derek rests his hands on Stiles, fingers wrapping around his left ankle. A glance over at him doesn’t show any indication that Derek’s even aware of what his hands are doing. He’s watching the game with the same intensity as twenty seconds ago, and when there’s a comment about some foul a sour, disgusted look crosses his face and he snorts. From the chair, his dad grunts in disappointment. The oddest thing is that it doesn’t feel weird or out of place, having Derek there. It’s only been him and his dad for more years than not, so it should be weird, having a third wheel has every right to be weird, on paper. In his head, he’d been sure it would be weird.
It’s weird that it’s not weird.
His phone chimes.
He bought you at the auction for $500?
He’s amazed it took her this long.
It’s a charity auction and he was sparing me from a bad experience.
And this year’s Darwin award goes to…
Stiles refuses to stick his tongue out at his phone and puts it away. Lydia may be his dating guru, but she doesn’t always know what she’s talking about. He is, after all, still single. If she were the amazing mystical dating guru she and Scott seem to think she is, he’d be hitched already. Really, the joke’s on her.
* * *
Christmas Eve dinner at the McCall house starts around the same time as the senior’s dinner at the diner. Well, the eating doesn’t, but that’s when the Stilinski men, this year with one Hale man in tow, show up after a slow Christmas Eve day and starving for some holiday cheer that seems directly proportional to the number of people present. Since the arrival of little Cassie McCall four years ago, things are even more exciting. Nobody gets in the spirit of Christmas quite like children. Of course, it’s also a time when Stiles’ dad makes little noises, sighs really, and flits not too subtle looks Stiles’ way, in a very unsubtle way of telling his son that, yes, he wants grandchildren before he is too old to enjoy them, thank you very much.
“Uncle Sti’es!” Cassie runs to the door and jumps.
He may not get to see her often, but Stiles is an expert at catching her. Not that he has much of a choice, unless he wants a bruised, bleeding four year old at his feet. Scott’s told him before he’s concerned she’ll try it with someone new who won’t have the slightest clue and, well, bad news bears. Stiles tries to tell him he’s got to give his kid more credit than that—and humanity in general.
“Cassie-bean!” He lifts her up, steps further into the house each time, and once they’re well clear of the doorframe he tosses her into the air.
Squealing laughter peels through the house and she almost kicks him in the face when he catches her with a grunt. She’s bigger. The fact that he might not be able to do this much longer makes him toss her up again. Maybe he should hit the gym with Derek.
He almost drops her. Hitting the gym with Derek isn’t a thing. It’s not an option. It’s not something that should be entering his frame of mind.
“Again Uncle Sti’es!”
“Again!” he crows, tossing her a third time.
Scott snatches her out of the air. “Daddy!”
“Go say hi to the Sheriff,” he says, putting her on the ground and side-eyeing Stiles. Oh, he’s going to get scolded for sure. “Dude, she’s obsessed with you,” is what he ends up saying when he straightens.
“Who’s this?” is the big, blatant question right behind Stiles, and he turns around to see Cassie, stopped in her tracks to his dad, staring up at Derek.
He crouches down behind her and points up. “That’s Derek.”
Her eyes are huge. “Derek,” comes out almost reverently. “A giant?”
Stiles laughs. “No.” He knows that tone. It’s the tone of a little girl wanting to get one someone’s shoulders. He frowns. “Hey, wait, he’s not any taller than me.”
Ignoring him, she raises her hands and makes grabbing motions with her fingers. “Up.” She demands. “Up. Up. Up.”
He does not whine, “Cassie,” behind her as Derek grins and picks her up, as demanded.
Derek does as told and Stiles thinks he needs a drink. Or twelve. Enough drinks that he can’t see straight, or just can’t see the image of Derek with a small child, because he might have just grown ovaries just to have them explode in this moment.
“So, you’ve been passed up,” Scott laughs, grabbing Stiles’ shoulder and pulling him to his feet. “It’s okay. It happens to the best of us. How do you think I feel when she runs by me to get to you?” He pats Stiles on the back, which kind of helps, but really doesn’t when Derek directs that winning grin his way again. Winning, as in Derek’s clearly pleased with himself for having been chosen over the Sheriff and thoroughly distracting Cassie from Stiles. “She’ll come back to you,” Scott assures.
Stiles is wallowing enough to let the high whine of loss eek out of his throat. “Cassie.”
“Sti’es,” she says, with new authority found in height. “Hot chocolate.” Derek has his hands up holding on to her feet and turns his head down slightly. It does nothing to disguise his grin or hide the shake of his shoulders with his silent chuckle.
From besides him, Scott sighs. “Cassie, what do you say when you want something.”
“Hot chocolate, please.” It’s still clearly a demand.
Scott sighs. Stiles nods, resigned. Derek continues to grin. They all walk back to the kitchen after Stiles grabs the pies from his dad. Kira’s there, peeling potatoes and raising an eye at Scott as soon as they enter. Clearly someone ditched out on their obligations when the doorbell rang.
“Sti’es is making hot chocolate,” Cassie tells her mom from Derek’s shoulders.
Considering, Kira looks up at her daughter. “Really now?”
Kira’s attention turns to Stiles.
“Just a little bit. Real fast.” He’ll do just about anything to try to get Cassie over Derek and off his shoulders as soon as possible.
She rolls her eyes. “Thank god you’re too far away to spoil her any more than you already do.” But she moves over to open up the stove for him to work.
When he’s done making hot chocolate, Derek takes a tray of mugs, Cassie, and Kira, out to the living room, leaving Stiles and Scott to finish with the potatoes and check the meat before joining. Stiles can’t help but think that if Cassie were on his shoulders, Derek would be the one stuck with the potatoes. He peels roughly.
“What?” Stiles doesn’t snap.
Scott raises an eyebrow, but it looks more like he thinks Stiles has dropped a bucket of IQ points than sending a silent message about his best friend’s tone. “Fake boyfriends? Really?”
“You,” Stiles says, pointing his potato peeler, “need to stop talking. My dad’s in the next room.”
“Don’t think it really matters, because I’m pretty sure you’re not fake dating, Stiles.”
“Shows how much you knows,” Stiles tosses back with a puff. “I’d still be sleeping in my office if his mom hadn’t done something.” Setting down the peeler, he gets up to grab an empty wine glass, waits for Scott to debate for a few seconds before nodding, grabs another glass, and raids the fridge for a chilled bottle. “Besides, there’s nothing going on. He’s just a really nice dude.”
The look Scott’s giving him when he closes the door of the fridge isn’t the most flattering one, for either of them. “A really nice dude,” Scott repeats. “Right, because really nice dudes lay down five hundred dollars for the sake of their fake relationships.”
“He’s a rich really nice dude,” Stiles chirps, hunting for a wine-bottle opener and cawing with victory when he finds one amongst the junk in the drawer left of the silverware. “And the auction’s for a good cause. It’s charity money.” These may, in fact, be the same words Stiles had been drilling into his own brain throughout dinner the previous night. Of course, thinking about the auction also makes him think of Derek’s warm, dry lips pressing against his own, and he’s eternally grateful to be casually turned away from Scott. He blushes in private.
“And have you been looking. The guy’s in a whole different league.” The cork slides out with a pop and Stiles sets to pouring two sizeable drinks. Turning around, he hands one out and starts on his. Now he can be flush with liquor and not stupidity.
“I wouldn’t say that. You two look good together.” He takes the offered wine glass but sets it aside as he continues peeling. “I mean, if you hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known any better.”
“Different leagues,” Stiles stresses, plopping himself back down.
“What about a league?” Derek wonders as he steps through from the kitchen, empty mugs in hand.
“It’s a Club, actually,” Stiles corrects, steamrolling himself in hopes of squashing down the embarrassment of continuing this conversation with Derek present. “I misspoke. It’s not a league, it’s a Club. That’s so much more New York.”
Scott rolls his eyes and Derek drops the empty mugs in the sink before propping himself against the counter and watching as they get back to potato peeling and drinking while continuing his prompting with, “Alright, what Club?”
“The Club of Fine-Looking Gentlemen of New York City,” Stiles answers taking another generous drink from his glass.
“Club of…” Derek glances from him to Scott, Stiles eyes follow suite. Scott’s the one who started it after all.
With an overly dramatic sigh, Scott says, “I was telling Stiles that you two look good together, and then he said you were in a different league, and-”
“Club,” Stiles interrupts, because it’s an important distinction now.
“Club,” Scott repeats, rolling his eyes in a way that might hurt were they not best friends. “And then…” he waves his hand in Stiles’ general direction, a motion that’s become familiar over the decades.
“You’re a member of the Club of Fine-Looking Gentlemen of New York City,” Stiles finishes decisively before returning to his wine.
Derek’s bright, intent gaze scans Stiles forehead to toes with an invasiveness that puts TSA screeners and their x-ray machines to shame before tilting his head to the side with a thoughtful hum. “You didn’t get the jacket,” isn’t a question.
“Jacket?” Out of the corner of his eye, Stiles can tell Scott’s just as confused, which, at least, makes him feel better for being lost.
“From the CFLGNYC,” Derek explains, features placid, though Stiles is already grinning. Another hum. “Must have gotten lost in the mail.”
Laughing, Stiles reaches out with his foot to bump it against Derek’s. “I see what you did there.”
From the side, Scott groans. It’s not his ‘I’m about to barf’ groan, or his ‘I just made a bad mistake’ groan, or even his ‘Kira is going to kill me’ groan. Having known each other for as long as they have, it’s no small feat for Scott to produce a groan, or any noise, that Stiles doesn’t recognize—well, with some exceptions that Stiles need not ever be privy to. This one, however, is not one of those. It’s followed by, “You two are perfect for each other.”
Derek makes a noise of his own, low and rumbling, the kind he makes when Stiles tells him his home-brewed coffee is better than the stuff he grabs at the cafés near the university, while Stiles challenges with, “How?”
“You’re complete dweebs,” Scott answers, not missing a beat.
“Derek’s an author, not a dweeb,” Stiles retorts, eyeing Derek who just looks at him, shrugs a shoulder and says, “Dweeb pretty much fits you.” His aghast gasp is mostly lost behind Scott’s loud laugh, which is still going when Derek smiles and admits, “It fits me too,” before grabbing an empty wineglass of his own and filling up.
Remembering how he found Derek in his office, swearing at Ginny and laughing at his own ridiculousness that was his novel, Stiles rolls his eyes. “Sure it does,” isn’t biting and, for the most part, is honest agreement.
From his spot where he’s still peeling potatoes, Scott groans. “Oh my God. Alright already. Derek, either grab a potato peeler or leave, you’re distracting my indentured-server-in-arms.”
Cassie clambers into the kitchen as he talks, squealing, “Daddy!” as she does. Halfway to her dad she shouts, “Derek!” veers off course, and goes crashing into Derek’s legs.
Looking over at his best friend, Stiles tries not to laugh at the way Scott’s wide smile crumbles at the sight of his daughter reaching up and demanding, “Up. Up. Up,” from a man who is not her father. A few chuckles make their way out as he leans over and pats Scott on the shoulder.
“She’ll come back to you,” he quotes back.
Frown snapping in Stiles’ direction, Scott puffs out his cheeks and almost stabs himself through the hand while digging a knot out of the potato he’s holding. He says, “Seriously, Derek,” in a sharp bite that’s only blunted by the pout he’s either failing at or not even attempting to disguise.
Grabbing Cassie under the arms and swinging her up to his shoulders again, Derek says, “Have fun you two,” with a grin before taking Stiles’ god daughter and his glass of wine back into the living room.
“I change my mind,” Scott grunts at his potato, refusing to look wistfully after his daughter like Stiles knows he wants to.
“About what?” With Derek gone, Stiles finally sets down his wine glass and picks his peeler back up.
“He’s not a dweeb. He’s an ass.”
Stiles barks a loud laugh. “Awe, Scotty, you jealous?”
“Hey. You are too,” Scott reminds with a bite.
The laugh dries up with a lamenting, “Oh man. She doesn’t love me anymore.”
* * *
After being abandoned in the kitchen to, more or less, finish dinner by themselves, Stiles is happy to be at the table with food and interaction. Cassie’s nestled between Scott and Kira, directly across from him, and it’s a stretch, but he’s still able to tease her and steal her peas, because she doesn’t like them, and give her his carrots. On his right, Derek makes soft noises that sound a lot like amusement and, at the head of the table on his left, his dad just rolls his eyes a lot.
Finally having had enough of Stiles’ hands on her side of the table, Kira not so gently stabs him with her salad fork. He yelps and withdraws and she smiles so sweetly for a second he thinks it was maybe Scott or Cassie, but she’s the only one wielding a fork like a weapon and not the eating utensil it is. “You have a plate of your own.”
He sighs and grumbles under his breath, not too pleased with the way Cassie is laughing at his apparent pain either. Apparently it’s only the beginning, of his pain that is, because a minute later Melissa clears her throat.
“So, how did you two...” Melissa trails, searching for the right words. Clearly she’s aware that they’ve known each other, but from the short glance she throws his dad’s way he’s thinking the pause is more because she feels awkward asking the question, because it’s not on her own behalf, “start going out?”
The fact that Stiles somehow forgot to think of this question stuns him into silence. It doesn't have the same affect on Derek who says, fluidly, “We went to brunch and I started getting jealous of the waitress hitting on him.”
Without thinking about it, Stiles turns and raises an eyebrow. “Whitney?” Sure he’d thought she might be flirting at first, but it didn’t take a genius to realize the girl was just like that. If anything she was just trying to get a rise out of Derek. He was the one who came in every weekend, whose name and order she’s memorized.
“Who else?” Derek asks back, expressionless.
“You know, I don’t think she even realizes how winking works,” he chuckles. He might also be amused by the idea of Derek—muscly, scruffy, and semi-famous Derek—resenting a few winks. “She does it to everybody,” or so he assumes. Whitney’s not what he’s paying attention to when they go to brunch.
Then again Derek’s, “No she doesn’t,” is kind of emphatic. He tacks on, “And the ‘Honey Eyes’ thing is just... what?” and waits for and answer. Eyeing Stiles with scrutiny.
Stiles shrugs. “I don’t know. I haven’t known her as long as you,” sounds a smudge defense and strained to his own ears.
The snort Derek lets out is loud, making Stiles hyper aware that the table is quiet and absolutely everyone is listening to them. “Which is how I know she was flirting with you,” Derek says with conviction.
“By being friendly?” is a flippant question.
“If ‘being friendly’ is another term for wanting to suck your face in the alley behind the restaurant before doing something a whole lot more inappropriate somewhere more private,” Derek shoots back, like these are real observations he’s made and things he’s thought about.
If Stiles weren’t thrown enough to roll his eyes and say, “Nobody wants to do that with me,” he might be admiring Derek on his commitment to their fake relationship. He still might.
Until Derek raises an eyebrow and says, “I do,” with a very straight, very frank expression that has Stiles’ cheeks flushing hot and witty responses dissolving on the tip of his tongue. Looking smugly satisfied with himself, Derek turns back to Melissa and says, “She still flirts, but she doesn’t call him nicknames anymore,” like the conversation everybody just listened to wasn’t horrifically embarrassing.
* * *
Stiles is bent over, buck naked, when the door opens and he hears Derek mutter a biting, “Merry Christmas,” like it’s a swear.
He isn't dignified enough to get away without squawking, but he does manage to topple to the side and keep himself on his feet with the help of his dresser and doesn’t trip and collapse to the ground. A second later he’s stepping his other foot into his boxers and standing so fast he thinks he hears his spine snap with it. “Derek,” is somewhere between a plea and an accusation. “What the hell?” Instead of turning around he paws through his dresser for a shirt and tries to ignore what feel like eyes on him.
“What, ‘what the hell?’” Derek asks back, the door shutting behind him, because, of course, they’re supposed to be dating, which implies having already been very nude around each other. Agonizing over it too loudly might draw someone’s attention. Doubt it, there’s only one other person in the house, that it’s the only person Stiles cares about keeping the pretense up in front of.
“I thought you were on a run,” he snaps back. Head popping through the collar of his shirt and, semi-covered, he feels good enough to throw a glare over his shoulder.
Derek’s standing there half naked in a towel, hair flat and wet, dripping all over his ridiculous bare chest. Stiles can only hope his strangled groan sounds put-off and agonized and not something very much like attraction and the sudden desire to lick Derek dry, which is the urge that’s reared it’s ugly and undesired head. “What are you doing?”
“Showering,” Derek answers, walking into the room, and Stiles can hear him clawing through his suitcase.
“I thought you were on a run,” Stiles repeats, not quite sure why. Repeating it won’t make Derek suddenly disappear and actually be outside running somewhere. It can, maybe, slightly, just a little bit, distract him from the compulsion to climb the man like a tree.
“Someone told me it was unholy to run on Christmas morning,” Derek says, looking unfairly composed. Well, Stiles is assuming from his voice, he can’t tell what Derek looks like because he’s turned back around in an attempt to block out the glaring fact that there’s a towel between him and naked Derek.
“So you just come back naked?” Somewhere, his mind provides him with a running commentary about just how much he’s freaking out over something that doesn’t need to be freaked out over. It sounds a lot like Derek.
More so when Derek says, “Like I have for the past three days. You alright, Stiles?”
With a huff, Stiles grabs his pants and slides them on with a harsh, “Peachy.” When he turns around Derek is still standing there, in his towel, now holding a pair of boxer briefs, which helps absolutely nothing, and Stiles lets out a groan. “Jesus Christ, put some pants on already. Or is your Christmas present to yourself parading around naked in my room for some allotment of time?”
Derek raises an eyebrow, lips quirked with amusement. “Is that an option?”
“No,” is Stiles’ emphatic response. Then, before he can do anything to make the situation worse or embarrass himself any more than he probably already has, he snatches his hoodie off the back of his desk chair and heads out of the room. Of course, Derek’s between him and the door, and since he just hurtles himself in the direction of escape he trips over a wayward shoe and finds himself with his face licking distance from Derek’s chest and warm, strong fingers on his shoulders.
“Sure you’re okay?” is such a natural, normal question that it grates, because no, he decidedly is anything but okay. The only thing that will make him okay is distance, and maybe getting a lobotomy appointment if he has to spend much longer pretending to be lucky enough to have Derek as a significant other.
“Fine,” is strangled and wheezy. With a sharp breath and a quick mental battle where he makes sure the sane side of him gives this insane, needy part of him a jab to the gut and a swift kick to the balls, he wrenches himself from Derek and bursts from the room. The door slams shut behind him and he almost has another accident with his face getting up close and personal with things they shouldn’t, but this time it’s the wall. Instead he twists, hits with his shoulder, bounces, and lets himself just roll down the hallway a few feet.
Jesus, he needs to get a grip.
Downstairs is quiet. His dad isn’t up yet, which is only to be expected because he’d had the most to drink out of the three of them last night, which is the usual. Well, normally it’s just Stiles and hid dad, but still, Christmas Eve is the night his dad lets himself have a bottle of wine almost completely to himself and grumbles at Stiles to “be a good son and drive your drunk dad home” at the end of the night. It was hilarious the first time he said it and it’s been hilarious for the past eleven years since Stiles got his driver’s license and the not-tradition started.
The coffee is brewing and he’s rolling the cold dough that he made yesterday into what will be fat cinnamon rolls that aren’t quite as delicious as he remembers his mom’s being, when Derek saunters into the kitchen like they weren’t just naked together the last time they saw each other. Upon seeing him out of the corner of his eye Stiles has to go back to his strict mantra of telling himself his knuckles brushed against nothing but towel when Derek saved him from tripping. Nothing but towel—his gravestone will probably say that because he’s pretty sure this vacation is going to be the death of him.
“Your dad’s still asleep,” Derek points out, like Stiles might not have noticed.
He snorts. “It’s a Christmas thing. You bring your present down?”
“Yeah. The coffee ready?”
“No, and don’t try, the pop-seal is broken and you’ll get coffee everywhere.”
“Those the cinnamon rolls?” The question comes from far too close. Close enough that he feels Derek’s heat on his back and breath on his neck.
Stiles starts and almost elbows him in the sternum. “Yeah.”
“They look kind of…”
“Jesus,” Stiles sighs. “Of course they look shitty, it’s just a bunch of dough right now. Give them some time in the oven and a little glaze and they’ll be the best thing you put in your mouth since my pie last night,” because Stiles knows for a fact Derek loved those pies. After the first bite of each one he’d gotten this little smile and made this small noise in the back of his throat and, besides, not to be too arrogant about it or anything but, Stiles knows he makes some bomb pie.
“Well, if your glaze is as good as your pie,” Derek murmurs, still close enough for his breath to be hot on Stiles’ neck, raising goosebumps and-
“Oh for the love of- go away and get your book or something.”
“No-working vacation,” Derek supplies, unmoving.
“Not your book, your book. You were reading something on the plane. Leave me alone, I have to cook,” and have a mental breakdown and existential crisis and try to convince himself that he really is more ashamed of telling his dad about his failure as an adult and a man and an independent person than he is of having developed some king of monstrous, horrible crush on the man he’s pretending to be dating and is currently living with.
With a final, agonizing, breath, Derek says, “Fine,” in a way that makes Stiles want to turn around and see if he looks as petulant as he sounds. He doesn’t, because he’s banning stupid decisions for the rest of the morning. Instead he continues cutting and rolling dough and making cinnamon rolls.
When his dad comes downstairs, the smell of cinnamon rolls is wafting through the house. After hearing the shower running above, Stiles had tossed his Sudoku book to the side and drafted Derek to make bacon while he works on the glaze. “Smells good,” his dad announces, entering the kitchen and pouring himself a mug of coffee. “I noticed a few more gifts under the tree.”
“Duh, Dad. Santa,” Stiles says with an eye roll down at his bowl of glaze.
From his right, Derek snorts.
“What, you don’t believe either?” Stiles shoots at him. “Maybe you should just give all those nice presents back then.”
Derek raises an eyebrow. “All?”
Instead of blushing, Stiles raises his own eyebrows with antagonism and says, “All.” Really there are just a few. After getting his gag gift he started feeling guilty about taking Derek away from his family for this escapade, and then getting gypoed of all his actual presents. He might have also convinced Scott and Kira to get him something and knew Melissa would add something under the tree because she’s just that kind of person. The plan had been to not have an awkward Christmas, which has turned out about as well as any of Stiles’ other plans.
Soon enough they’re settled in the living room with their cinnamon rolls, bacon, and coffee. Crouching in front of the tree, Stiles takes up the mantle of his Christmas morning job of doling out presents. There aren’t a ton—his dad knows Stiles can’t bring much back with him and Stiles knows his dad doesn’t really need or want much. Christmas is more about spending the time together and less about the presents for them, has been ever since mom passed. When he goes to sit back on the couch he almost jumps out of his pants at the feeling of fingers in his back pocket, dragging him down, and a second later he’s flush, side to side, with Derek. Derek, who’s giving him a look that says ‘smooth’ with one hundred percent sarcasm.
“Whatever,” he mutters sourly, but he doesn’t move because his dad’s looking at them with some expression he doesn’t recognize. It’s a little unsettling, being able to read Derek’s face better than his own father’s. Then again, he’s spent the last two weeks living and breathing Derek and he hasn’t seen his dad in almost five months. Still, it irks.
“Derek, you’re our guest, why don’t you do the honors.” Stiles’ dad is definitely grinning behind his mug. The first present is Stiles’ honor.
Either not seeing, or, more likely, ignoring Stiles’ glare of resentment, he grabs a box wrapped in smiling Santas from Melissa. It’s a thick, navy sweater that Stiles knows, without a shadow of a doubt, will looking fantastic on him. If a single good thing happens to Stiles in the remainder of the year, it will be that Derek does not wear said sweater, ever, while Stiles still has eyes.
His dad likes the jacket, but he’s far more pleased with Derek’s bottle of whisky. Stiles can’t even hold it against him. He knows exactly how expensive that bottle is.
Derek gets a bag of Beacon Hills original coffee that makes him smile in a way that indicates Stiles is going to want to grab some more before they head back to New York. He raises an eyebrow and gives Stiles a sideways glance when he opens his mug that announces: ‘World’s Most Okayest Author’ in thick, bold letters. Stiles laughs and his dad seems to appreciate the gift as much as Derek does. Derek’s last present happens to be the one Stiles has been waiting for all morning. Foot jumping rapidly, he doesn’t manage to sit still until Derek lands a heavy hand on his knee and says, “Looking forward to this one?”
Stiles grins, but finds a gift shoved into his hands instead of watching Derek open his. “Uh…”
“You first,” Derek says with a look that indicates he’s more than ready to hold present siege for the rest of the day.
Shrugging, Stiles faces the present at hand. He has a small pile of mainly clothes: a dark green sweater from Melissa, some phenomenally soft scarf from Scott and Kira, a renewal of his AAA coverage and new slippers from his dad. Now he’s holding a box with a little bit of weight to it, wrapped in silver and blue, and a tag with Derek’s name on it. It makes him uncomfortably nervous, to the point where he doesn’t know if he even wants to open it.
Elbowing him in the side, Derek prompts, “Get a move on.”
So Stiles caves and rips off the wrapping paper with the same vigor as every other present, pops off the top of the box and feels his eyes go so wide he wouldn’t be surprised if they rolled out of his head. “Whoa.” It’s a leather book bag. Real leather. Soft but thick, sturdy under his fingers as he lifts it out of the box and runs his hands over it. The lining is dark maroon with a padded space for that will, no doubt, fit his laptop perfectly. “Wow.” His brain is having trouble processing a gift like this, and with some effort, he manages to rip his eyes away from the bag and look over at Derek. “This is… a lot.”
Derek shrugs, casually, like it’s nothing. It probably is—he has a nice, open apartment in the Upper West Side for Christ’s sake, but knowing that doesn’t lessen the impact of the present. “Your bag is falling apart at the seams,” he says. “It looked like you could use something new. A little more durable.”
Turning back to the gift, Stiles feels himself nod as though he’s watching someone else. “Yeah. Well, this…” He turns again, feels warm fingers sliding behind his neck and then there are lips against his. It’s chaste, like the kiss at the auction, but lasts longer, and Stiles’ eyes flutter shut of their own accord. Somewhere in the back of his mind there are two warring voices, the louder one reasonably chanting that his dad is right there, that this present isn’t the kind that doesn’t go kiss-less, that Derek is unfairly good at playing at this whole ruse. The voice is faint, as they kiss, goes fainter still when Derek pulls back and Stiles opens his eyes to see his small smile.
Oh fuck, he’s in a pickle.
“Thanks,” he rasps.
There’s a high likelihood that he’s in shock, which is why he doesn’t immediately rip his present out of Derek’s hands when he turns to it, still smiling, and starts unwrapping. The daze wears off as Derek lifts the lid of the box and he has the pleasure of experiencing a whole second of blinding panic, shame, and mortifying embarrassment before a loud, bright laugh shatters it all. “Stiles,” comes out with a warm breath of laughter.
Scooting forward in his chair, his dad tries to get a look, features twisted with curiosity. “What is it?”
Still laughing, Derek pulls out the pillow to show him. A small, seven by seven pillow, the front is beautifully embroidered: a dark, cloudless night, dots of white stars, a large, heavy full moon with a wolf’s howling silhouette. Or, at least, it would be beautiful if it weren’t for the bright, bold, purple lettering swirling across the image in perfect looping cursive: Fucking Ginny.
His dad glances from the pillow, to Derek, who’s still grinning and chuckling, and finally to Stiles. “What?”
“Inside joke,” Stiles provides, smiling with equal parts relief and pride.
* * *
They’re on their traditional post-cinnamon-roll-and-bacon Christmas late morning walk around the neighborhood when his phone buzzes with a text.
Unexpected, but he shoots back the same message. He doesn’t even get his phone back in his pocket before she’s responded.
Derek better have gotten you something nice.
And tell him a post-present fuck doesn’t count, even if it’s slow and sweat.
Stiles trips over his own feet and Derek’s hand, suddenly wrapped around his bicep, is the only thing that keeps him from crashing into the ground.
Stiles nods, distracted with attempting to scrub his own brain clean.
Since you missed the Christmas party I hope you plan on coming to New Year’s Eve. Derek’s going to try to back out of it because he’s a big boob about stuff, but he’s not allowed. He’s already missed enough family stuff.
Wow, and if that didn’t kick him straight in the chest, nothing would.
“So, Stiles, how’s your dissertation going?”
The question draws his attention easily enough so he stuffs his phone in his back pocket and starts when he finds it’s already occupied by Derek’s hand. Brow furrowing, he slides it into his other pocket. When he glances up, Derek and his dad are watching him with matching expressions of interest. “Fine.”
His dad sighs. “Great. Don’t see you for five months and I get ‘fine.’ Very descriptive, Stiles.”
Derek smiles that cocky little smile of his that makes Stiles want to roll his eyes. He refrains, however, for his dad’s sake.
“I don’t know what to say. I mean, it’s good. I’m progressing, which is about all I can ask for at this point. A lot of work and research, I’m kind of slacking on the teaching part, which, I know, isn’t good for my students, but it gets overwhelming sometimes, doing my own research and writing—they kind of become this secondary thing I have to remind myself to take care of.” Unadvisedly, his dad prompts him to continue, so he tucks New Year’s Eve into the back of his mind and goes into full description mode on his professional academic life and what his third year of life as a doctoral student has been like.
The short answer is: shit.
The long answer fills up the rest of their walk with long sentences that he doubts anybody really wants to hear, but it helps unload the weight of the stress from his shoulders.
* * *
“You told Laura we’re going to New Year’s Eve.” Derek says as he walks in from the backyard where he’s spent most of the afternoon with Stiles’ dad talking to each other over the hunk of meet on the barbeque.
Stiles has spent the last fifteen minutes watching what he thinks might be a new Twilight Zone episode playing out in the backyard, under the pretense of making hot chocolate. Now he’s faced with a decidedly unhappy Derek, though the rosiness of his cheeks from the cold outside dims the heat of his scowl. “Yeah,” is the appropriate answer, because it’s the truth.
“Because she asked?” He’s not sure why that’s a question.
Derek sighs and saddles up to lean on the counter a few feet away. “You shouldn’t have done that.” A frown tugs at his lips.
“She said you’d try to get out of it,” Stiles replies, finally taking his hot chocolate making seriously and uncapping the milk to pour it in the saucepan he pulled out ages ago.
“And I would have gotten away with it-”
“If it weren’t for you meddling kids,” Stiles finishes. “Well, ‘you meddling Stiles,’ I guess.”
The responding huff is caught between exasperation and laughter. “Yes, basically.”
“What’s so bad about New Year’s Eve? Besides, I already aided and abetted your escape from your family Christmas Party.” He glances at Derek from the corner of his eye to see him heave out a long breath.
“The Christmas Party is the Hale Publishing Christmas Party,” Derek supplies. “It’s less ‘fun family Christmas’ and more ‘author obligations Christmas,’ which is a lot less fun.”
“Right. So what’s wrong with New Year’s Eve?”
Derek grinds his teeth through a wince. “It’s the Argent New Year’s Party.” His voice is a low, displeased growl.
“That doesn’t actually mean anything to me,” Stiles reminds smoothly, taking his eyes off Derek long enough to add chocolate and spices to the warming milk.
“The Argent House is a competing publishing house. Kate’s the eldest daughter, worked there when she was an editor.”
“Oh.” He doesn’t know how else to respond.
Sliding closer, Derek picks up a small cluster of the semi-sweet chocolate chips Stiles is using for his hot chocolate and starts popping them into his mouth. “I’ve never enjoyed going, but at least she hasn’t been around in years. But now…”
The skin on the back of his neck prickles at the memory of his last encounter with the woman. Not only in the city, but uncomfortably nearby.
“There’s no way she’s not going to come if she’s around for it. I was hoping to avoid her a little more.” Derek’s honesty makes Stiles feel even shittier and overall confused. He was just trying to do the right thing, and instead he’s messed things up.
Grabbing the whisk, he starts batting at the darkening concoction in the saucepan as his thoughts run laps. It should be easy enough to just text Laura back and back out of the thing. Or maybe invent terrible stomach pains the evening of the Eve.
Derek rubs the back of his neck and he finds himself taking a breath and calming down. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll go together and it’ll be fine.”
“I’m sure I can think of something.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Derek repeats. Then, leaning in close, wonders, “So, there enough of that for everyone, or are you just going to mock us with it?”
* * *
The days after Christmas fall into a relax pattern of not doing much of anything. Derek still wakes up too early for his own good to go running, crawling over Stiles who crowds him into the wall despite going to bed every night with strict instructions to himself not to end up plastered against Derek in the mornings. Christmas night he wakes up at three in the morning, panting into Derek’s shoulder, and has to slip out of bed and agonize through the most awkward middle-of-the-night jerk off he’s ever experienced. After that it’s an evening ritual in the begging hope to stave off any morning horror.
It works well enough. At least Stiles doesn’t wake up pressing his erection into Derek’s thigh, which is the whole point.
His dad goes back to work, leaving Stiles and Derek to lay around the house by themselves. Eventually Stiles finds Derek typing away at his computer breaking the no-working rule, so they go to the movies, out with Scott and Kira, even babysit Cassie one afternoon to give her parents the day off. Stiles nearly stabs himself in the eyes that day, his heart crushing to a pulp in his chest at the combination of rejection from Cassie (not even his hotdog octopuses had won her over at lunch) and the sight of Derek playing tea party with Cassie and her two stuffed animals of choice: Jasper the Rabbit and Zeal the Pig. He’s just happy she doesn’t rename Zeal at Derek’s suggestion. Zeal was Stiles’ suggestion.
By the time they’re getting dropped off at the airport and he’s wrapped in another one of his dad’s bear hugs, he’s relieved to be heading back to sleeping alone on his couch, having Derek holed up behind his bedroom door as he writes his ridiculous novel, and only really seeing each other during meals.
* * *
“You’ll need to dress up,” Derek says, halfway through the flight home.
“What?” Stiles asks, looking up from his book. He’s highlighting with his left hand again, even though he’s warily sure Derek isn’t going to try to steal it. Derek had given it a look when he first pulled it out though, so he’s just being safe.
“For New Year’s Eve,” Derek clarifies. He’s not looking at Stiles, just staring at the back of the seat in front of him with a furrowed brow that makes Stiles really want to figure out a way to weasel out of the event.
“Yeah, I kind of guessed. New Year’s. Business event.”
Derek’s eyes flicker to him, then down and up his body.
Realization dawns on him. “You don’t think I have any nice clothes,” Stiles says, offended until he thinks back on the kinds of things Derek has seen him wearing. As a doctoral student and a lecturer who barely cares about lecturing, he doesn’t dress all that differently than a college freshman most days. “Okay, I kind of see your point, but I have nice clothes,” is a smidge defensive.
“You have a suitcase of homelessness in my living room,” Derek replies, tense unhappiness replaced by a twisted smirk.
Stiles chuffs under his breath. “Oh great, back to the homeless jokes.”
“You said they had to stop while we were in California.” Derek looks around the plane and shrugs. “I’ve a feeling we’re not in California anymore.”
“Oh, just laugh it up, Dorothy,” Stiles bites back. He doesn’t manage much heat, because Derek’s a fat nerd and a total dweeb and as soon as they land he’s texting Scott just that. “Anyway, I do have nice clothes. They’re packed away in my jeep somewhere. I’ll just need to stop by and pick them up. I wasn’t expecting to go to any fancy balls.”
“I don’t think anyone’s balls are fancy, but some are nicer than others,” Derek says off-handedly.
Stiles laughs until he cries, not even bothered by the complaints of the kid in the seat behind him and how it shakes with her kicks.
* * *
He texts Scott as soon as they’re allowed to turn their phones on again.
Derek is a fat nerd and a total dweeb.
I know. I’m the one who told you.
Does this mean I’m also right about the fact that you’re not fake dating each other?
Pft. No, you’re totally wrong about that.
How many years have you been in the education system again?
Oh go back to trying to win back your daughter’s love. Or is she still wailing about Derek leaving?
All it took was a large frozen yogurt with gummy bears. She doesn’t even remember his name anymore.
* * *
Stiles isn’t grumpy the next morning when he wakes up to the sound of the blender and is buried against the back of the couch instead of the warm length of Derek. He doesn’t scowl in the shower. He’s completely rested and he only has an extra mug of coffee because it’s Derek’s Christmas Beacon Hills blend and it tastes good—that’s it. He doesn’t snap, “I’m fine,” when Derek asks him if something is wrong while they eat scrambled egg whites with arugula and turkey sausage. He doesn’t deflect his non-grumpiness by saying, “I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to find that stuff in my jeep,” which doesn’t come out like a strained pout.
He doesn’t feel better when Derek says, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll help.”
A few hours later they’re walking through the park, Stiles wearing his new scarf from Scott and Kira and consciously telling himself not to stare at Derek who’s wearing the navy sweater Melissa gave him. Derek looks every ounce as good in it as Stiles was terrified he would. It’s unfair and distressing, really.
When they get to Derek’s parents’ house, the door flies open at the first knock, revealing the grinning face of Laura Hale. “Itty Bitty!” is a loud, excited exclamation, followed by a tight hug. “It’s nice to see you.”
From behind him, Derek grunts.
“Derek, nice to see you too,” Laura says over Stiles’ shoulder. She releases him from the hug, but her hand is tight around his wrist and suddenly he’s being dragged into the house.
A test tug shows she’s not going to let him go any time soon and he’s very aware of how not the right direction they’re going. “I really just need the garage,” he tries, attempting another tug for freedom.
“No you don’t.”
Throwing a glance over his shoulder reassures him that Derek’s following. His shrug of shared confusion doesn’t help.
“Why not?” They’re at the base of the stairs now, headed up.
“My dad took your stuff out of the car and put it all in one of the guest rooms. Didn’t want it getting all moth-eaten and everything. I mean, but really,” she throws a sharp look over her shoulder, but it bypasses Stiles and hits her brother full-force, “someone should be able to figure out a way to fit you into their place.”
The sigh that rips out of Derek is just short of pure anguish. “Laura.”
“See what I meant about his space?” Laura asks, attention back on Stiles for a second before she turns back around and drags him up the stairs and down one of the halls. A second later they’re pushing into a room that’s over taken with Stiles’ boxes. “I tried to convince my parents to unpack at least the clothes, there’s no reason to treat them so poorly, but-” she huffs a sigh.
“He’s living with me and not them?” Derek shoots back.
Finally her grip loosens and Stiles twists out from under her strong fingers, takes a few steps away and then heads to his boxes, leaving the siblings to their rivalry.
“I don’t get what the big deal is. I mean, if you’re not going to make the space for him, the least you can do is help him have a place where it’s being taken care of.”
“Maybe you should be more concerned about your own romantic life and not mine.”
“My romantic life is just fine. Bob’s going to propose to me on our post-New Year’s vacation.”
“Really now? And where is your boyfriend?”
“In the kitchen making lunch.”
“You know this isn’t your house, right?”
“Pft, mom and dad love having us.”
Rolling his eyes at the box he’s currently tearing open Stiles is content to feel happy about being an only child. Scott’s the only brother he could ever want. The box is the wrong one and it takes another three before he finds what he’s looking for and winces at the wrinkles. He should have had his nicer stuff on hangers, but it was bad enough keeping his stuff in his car in a city like New York without having the stuff just laying out for people to see. Besides, Derek has a perfectly good iron. Without ceremony, he shoves the clothes into the reusable grocery bag he’d found in box two.
“Alright.” He turns around to find the siblings up in each other’s space looking a lot like two dogs growling at each other. Adorably dogs, but still. “I found what I need,” he says, a little louder. The Hale’s blink, startled out of their argument, and take identical steps back, each tossing a last narrow-eyed glare at the other, but Laura’s smirking the way she does when she’s satisfied herself and mortified one of her younger siblings and Derek’s looking like he’s stepped on a slug barefoot.
They’re almost out the door, having walked back down with Laura singing Stiles’ praises for saying yes to the party, when she crows, “Mistletoe!”
Stiles spares a glance up while Derek sighs like he’s giving up on life. Considering the holiday they spent together, he shouldn’t be as surprised by the arm that wraps around his waist as he is. Then again, he was also sure that leaving California meant leaving the awkward touching and kissing behind. He was wrong.
It’s quick, innocent, like the others, and then Derek’s pulling him out the door and into the street. Laura’s shouts of, “That’s not a real kiss!” follow them.
* * *
When Stiles looks at himself in the mirror he can’t help but be satisfied. He could benefit from a bit of a trim, but other than that, he looks good. It’s a small miracle the white pants survived packing without getting a single mark on them, and it’s been ages since he’s worn them, but they fit just right still, hug him in ways that he might have to remember when he goes shopping for jeans next. The shirt is one of his nice ones, from Lydia a few birthday’s ago and after he looked it up online and found out how much it cost he refused to keep it in his every-day wardrobe—dark navy speckled with small white dots in a pattern that looks almost plaid-ish at a distance. The black waistcoat is all him. He had a thing about them for awhile, thought it was a thing about other people wearing them until he tried one on himself and then, well, he may or may not have lived in waistcoats for his entire first year of being a doctoral student.
Standing in front of the bathroom mirror now and looking himself over, he wonders why he ever stopped. Vaguely he remembers how much it cost to maintain a wardrobe consisting of nice button-ups and waistcoats and- right.
In the kitchen Derek’s ready and waiting: black suit, crisp white shirt, black skinny tie, drinking a coffee and reading the newspaper and Stiles is proud he doesn’t pop a boner right then and there. Still his voice is croaky when he says, “Yo,” attempting for casual and ending up in the familiar territory of embarrassing.
Derek looks up and freezes, eyes widening.
“This was the best I could come up with. It alright?” Yeah he looks good, but Derek looks formal and amazing. His scale of what looks good is spiraling out of control and now he’s nervous. He may never be going to another Argent New Year’s Eve Party, and he may never see the people he meets tonight again, but the last thing he wants to do is humiliate Derek, who has to go every year.
“Yeah,” Derek says, clears his throat, and nods, setting his mug down. “Yeah. More than alright. You look good.”
Stiles smiles, relaxing with the wave of relief that washes over him. “Cool.”
* * *
The party is massive and the moment they walk in he feels all kinds of underwhelming. They get drinks and people come up to them in waves. Derek introduces them all: authors, publishers, editors, agents. Stiles holds his own but is thankful for the drink and finishes quickly before excusing himself to grab another. Hopefully the first will kick in soon and he’ll be just enough outside of sober to lose the jitter of nerves he’s experiencing. Speaking to a mass of students has got nothing on this.
A slender arm hooks around his shoulders as a body forcefully plows into his. He doesn’t loose his drink, but it’s a close thing.
“You must be Stiles,” comes from a leggy blonde with sparkling silver dress that accentuates both her legs and her bosom, which, with her arm so tight, she’s almost pushing his face into.
Putting more effort into straightening his spine he says, “You have me at a disadvantage,” which is the most high-class response he can think of off the top of his head.
The blonde laughs—genuine but somehow scary. “I’m Erica-”
“Derek’s agent,” Stiles finishes, remembering the name.
“Yes, Derek’s agent,” Erica agrees, plucking his drink from his hand and helping herself. “And according to Laura, you’re the man he’s living with.” Her eyes rake over him, glossy red lips curving into a wicked smile. “Scrumptious.” The tip of her tongue pokes out and then her lips peel back to reveal white teeth biting it. “Sure you’re exclusive?”
He manages a choked, “Um… yeah, pretty sure,” before another arm wraps around him, another body pressing against his other side. A quick look reveals Derek, glaring across at Erica and he relaxes. “Derek.”
“Erica introducing herself?” he wonders, eyes never leaving his agent.
Stiles can feel their arms shoving each other against his shoulders. “Yeah.”
“Politely?” Derek snips, hand clutching his opposite arm and yanking him out of Erica’s grasp.
“Perfectly politely,” Erica replies with a flip of her gorgeous blonde hair.
Derek snorts. “I swear, you and my sister. Besides, I wasn’t asking you.” Green eyes slide to Stiles. “Politely?” he repeats.
There’s a squawk of protest from Erica, and Stiles resigns himself to a nod, not willing to get on her bad side. “Perfectly politely.”
Unconvinced, Derek drops the matter anyway. “Stiles doesn’t know anything about my current progress, so there’s no point in interrogating him.”
“I wasn’t interrogating him,” Erica protests. “I was just-”
A man in a striking blue suite cuts through the crowd to wrap an arm around Erica’s slender waist. His expression is placid, but there’s a glint of humor in his eye when he asks, “This one causing much trouble?”
“I’m not causing trouble,” Erica bites back, even while she settles into the man’s grip in a way that speaks of intimate familiarity.
Eyes stopping on Stiles, the man reaches forward, introducing himself as, “Boyd.”
“Stiles.” He takes the hand, tries not to wince at how tight Boyd’s fingers squeeze around his own.
“Boyd’s my editor,” Derek provides.
“Boring,” Erica interrupts. “Stiles, take me dancing. Boyd won’t until he has at least three more drinks in him and Derek is a stick in the mud who never dances, not even if it’s for the sake of his lonely, sad, desperate, beautiful agent.”
Derek huffs, loudly. “Erica, you are one of those things.”
Her eyes are sharp and Stiles glances at Derek, hoping for a rope, a shake of the head, a ‘no,’ a tightening grip on his shoulders. Instead he gets a very unhelpful shrug that’s followed by fingers sliding into the arm of his waistcoat, and then he’s being dragged away. Derek manages an amused, “Good luck,” that Stiles doesn’t think bodes well for him.
“He likes you,” Erica says as she pulls him through the crowd toward a cleared space already packed with people dancing.
Stiles shrugs and tries not to feel too hopeful. He says, “He tolerates me,” to remind himself that he’s not really dating Derek Hale, just being kept out of the shame of homelessness thanks to him.
Erica sighs, “Don’t be modest,” and shoves him amongst the thralls of dancers.
* * *
When he escapes the dance floor it’s only because Erica started complaining about her feet and needing to find Boyd to make sure he was going to be sober enough to massage them at the end of the night, and then he’s left on his own to hunt down Derek. It’s not a feat to be taken lightly. There are masses of well-dressed men and women and though Stiles knows he’ll recognize Derek the moment he sees him, it’s a matter of seeing him that’s the problem.
“Lost?” a voice purrs from the side, familiar and chilling.
Turning to find Kate beside him isn’t a surprise, but it’s anything from pleasant. “Just looking for someone.”
“Derek?” her head cocks to the side, gaze boring into him. “I’m sure he’s around here somewhere. How about you join a lady for a drink though, first?” She reaches out to touch him and he side steps out of her grasp.
He ignores the question. “I don’t know what you’re trying to get at, moving into Derek’s apartment. You know he’s not going to get back together with you, right?” Stiles asks, watching her, trying to figure out what she’s thinking. All she’s doing is smiling. Smiling that creepy smile that reminds him about the absolutely terrible person she is.
“I’m not trying anything. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kate says back, glancing down at her painted nails she checks for show. They both know they’re perfect. “I’m here on business,” she continues, looking back up, meeting his gaze again. “I wouldn’t be back in this wretched city if I didn’t need to be. A friend of mine’s vacationing, I’m just staying in their place.” She sounds convincing, but Stiles has a pretty good bullshit detector and its gong off like nobody’s business.
“Sure. Of all the places in New York you happen to have a friend whose empty apartment is in the same building as Derek.” He settles her with a flat stare. “The world’s not that small.”
Her eyes narrow. It’s as though she wasn’t expecting a fight after their last encounter, which Stiles can’t actually blame her for—he didn’t do that great in front of the elevator. He’s happy to prove her wrong now, though.
“When are you leaving again?” he doesn’t bother to keep the cold, clipped tone of dislike out of his voice.
“A couple of days, actually.” Her brow unfurrows as her features loosen and her lips once again twist into a skin-prickling smile. “It’s a little disappointing, really. I would have loved to work a way into your pants.”
“Really?” He raises an eyebrow, hoping it’s a good deflection from how completely thrown he is. “I didn’t think I was your type.”
When she says, “Well, it’s the thought of the look on Derek’s face when he finds out, really,” he’s simultaneous unsurprised and revolted.
Tempering down the knee-jerk reaction to punch her in the face, he goes with a sneering, “I’m not one to betray people I care about,” instead.
Smile widening, she coos as she reaches out. Her fingers make his skin crawl as they land, feather-light, on his shoulder and trail down his arm. “Derek told you,” is a purr of content. “Did he tell you he was refusing to publish with my family’s house?” Her fingers wrap around his wrist, tight enough he feels his bones grate together and clenches his teeth to swallow back a wince. “I knew it was a great book. I just wanted him to make the right decisions.” Hooded, menacing eyes pin him in place as she speaks.
Stiles thinks she might well be legitimately crazy, or a sociopath—though she’s taking far too much pleasure from this interaction for that to be the case. “Anything I can do to expedite your departure?”
The corresponding laugh is crisp and sinister. “No. You’ll just have to put up with me for a couple more days. Who knows, hopefully we’ll run into each other again before I leave. Give Derek something to remember me by.”
“I think it’d be better if you stayed away from us,” Stiles growls.
Her thin smirk takes on a whole different look as she tilts her chin, sharp eyes raking him from head to foot. His skin crawls with the sudden urge to take a shower, seer himself under scalding water and scrub himself red with a loofa. He doesn’t even have a loofa, but he’s a few seconds away from leaving the party with the express purpose of buying one to use as soon as he gets home.
“I don’t want to see you again,” he warns, voice low and icy.
Pristinely plucked eyebrows raise in surprise. A heartbeat later her brows flatten and she becomes the dark, threatening person she is. “Really now? Is that so?” Impossibly, the fingers around his wrist tighten. There’s going to be a bruise later.
“Yes,” he answers. Twisting his wrist and arm, he breaks her grips, sliding out from the weak point where her thumb and fingers meet. “Stay away from Derek. Stay away from me.”
“Or what?” she murmurs, leaning forward until he can feel her breath against his face. To his disdain, she loops an arm around her shoulder and waves off into the crowd.
Following her gaze, Stiles sees Derek: standing with two other men, staring at them. He looks half a breath from grabbing the nearest champagne bottle, breaking it in half on the floor, and storming over to stab someone. Hopefully Kate.
Stiles doesn’t threaten people. He grew up in the house of a county Sheriff and learned better ways to deal with people, more diplomatic ways. None of them come to mind at the moment. Attention flickering from Derek, he glances at Kate out of the corner of his eye and says, “Accidents happen.” He isn’t expecting Kate’s corresponding laugh to be the most genuine thing he’s heard from her.
“Oh, you do have some sting. Maybe I should come back again—sometimes soon. This,” she runs a finger down his chest, “would be so much fun.”
Before he knows what she’s doing she’s ducking in and laying a hard kiss on his cheek. With a parting grin, she waggles her fingers and turns around to cut her way through the crowd. Scrubbing the back of his hand over his skin hard enough to, hopefully, rub away the feel of her lips he frowns, wondering if Derek will find a new apartment if he suggests it. By the time he turns around, rubbing fiercely at his cheek again, Derek’s beside him, features stony.
“What was that?”
Glancing off into the crowd, Stiles doesn’t see a sign of Kate. His impulse is to shrug it off as nothing, but he knows he’s tense and his face definitely doesn’t say it was nothing, so he settles with the truth. “An uncomfortable encounter of the Kate kind.”
Fingers touching the wrist that still aches from Kate’s grip, Derek asks, “You alright?” and Stiles wonders exactly how much he saw.
Now, he does shrug. “I’ve been better.” He abandons scanning the party guests to look back at Derek, whose brow is furrowed in concern. Stiles dredges up a smile. “It was better than the elevator,” he gives, hoping to lighten the mood.
“Really?” Derek raises a bushy eyebrow, despite being too serious for Stiles’ liking.
“I got to throw out a vague mafia threat. ‘Accident happen,’” he says in his best attempt at a terrible Italian accent.
For a moment, Derek just stares at him. “Are you joking?” Stiles shifts, concerned he came off less funny and more Kate, but then Derek’s features relax and he’s smiling in the way that reminds Stiles he’s in a different kind of trouble.
With a huff, Stiles punches him in the arm. “Almost made me have a heart attack.”
Derek laughs. “Don’t want that. I think ambulances would really ruin the atmosphere.”
There’s a massive clock opposite the wall of massive glass doors leading to a large balcony Stiles is itching to get out on at some point to see the city. Sure enough it’s already closing in on midnight.
“Want to go outside?”
Grinning, he nods. “Swear you read my mind.”
When Derek lays his hand on Stiles’ neck as they walk, it’s warm and comfortable and familiar and Stiles knows he should shrug it off, but he doesn’t. Instead he thinks about how he needs to start taking his apartment search seriously and find something, anything, that is affordable, will fit his things, and, maybe, doesn’t make him feel like he’s going to be murdered and or robbed blind in the middle of the night. If he doesn’t get out of Derek’s apartment soon, he’s going to do something stupid and awkward and possibly ruin the Stilinski-Hale family relationship.
God, who would he spend Thanksgivings with?
Of course Talia would invite him, but he can barely stand the hypothetical awkwardness. Trying to eat a turkey dinner while experiencing the real thing would probably send him to the hospital.
Cold, fresh air hits him in the face and he feels his flesh prickle as he takes a deep breath and lets Derek guide them to the railing. Heat lamps stand every two dozen feet or so, lending small rings of warmth to fight the New York winter, but they’re crowded, already taken up by other clusters of people, so Stiles steps closer into Derek’s space and takes advantage of his heat as he looks out across the city. The night is black, the stars above chased away by the light of the stars of the city—the glint of apartments, buildings, cars, billboards.
For a second Stiles is confused, thinking he’s the one who said it. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the city like this before,” he confesses. It feels special.
“I’m glad we came then,” Derek murmurs, fingers massaging gently at Stiles’ neck.
A waiter with a tray of flutes has stepped beside him and Stiles takes two with a nod of thanks, and hands one to Derek. “What time is it?”
Derek, who’s chugging down his champagne like it’s water, glances at the watch Stiles hasn’t even noticed. “We have a couple of minutes.”
“Sounds good,” Stiles says, to say something, sips at his champagne and leans into Derek a little more. He sighs, feels embarrassed about it, and then Derek’s walking them toward a heat lamp near the building. “Thanks,” is a breathy chuckle.
Derek’s kept them moving, past the heat lamp and now he has Stiles crowded against the cold brick wall of the building.
“I can’t do this,” is a low growl of words.
“Can’t do what?” he’s forgotten what it is they’re doing. He’s not sure about anything except the cold brick and the heat of Derek. The wall's leaching the heat out of him fast enough his back is going numb. Stiles isn’t sure if the roaring in his ears is because blood is rushing up to his brain to keep him from dying, or the sound of the party inside, dialed back up to an eleven now that they’re officially celebrating the ball dropping.
“This ridiculous relationship,” Derek hisses. He might do something with his eyes, but Stiles doesn’t see because all he’s looking at is Derek’s mouth. In the past week he’s been closer than this to those lips, but he’s never been paying enough attention to really appreciate Derek’s mouth being so close.
The words finally percolate his brain and his eyes drag from Derek’s mouth to his eyes, gut as cold as his back, churning. He frowns with the guilt that wells up in him. “I know. I’m sorry. I should have just told my dad the truth. I didn’t meant to-”
“That’s not what I mean,” Derek interrupts with a growl, and then he’s moving in closer. His lips are warm against Stile’s, and it hurts that he’s starting to get familiar to the sensation of these chaste, dry kisses, except that is not what this is. A wet tongue laps at his lips and Stiles starts with a breath. With a low sound of approval Derek shoves against him, hands gripping his hips, chest flush against his, tongue sliding between his lips. Another low noise rumbles up from Derek’s chest, but it’s not until Stiles feels cold fingers wrap around his neck, that he becomes aware of his own fingers, buried in Derek’s hair, locking him in place.
Derek kisses like a man starved. Stiles isn’t much better, intoxicated by the wet heat and taste of Derek, the sweetness of the midnight champagne that he chases away with his own tongue. When Derek pulls away they’re panting, Stiles tugging at his hair, saying, “No. No. Back,” and then groaning when he feels warm lips and a hot tongue on his neck. The hands on his hips tighten, pull Stiles up the wall, shifting him, and then he’s moaning, “Fuck, Derek,” at the sensation of Derek grinding against him, hard and thick against his thigh.
“Stiles,” is a low growl of a word that sends a shudder up his spin and Stiles wrenches, harder than he should, until Derek’s mouth leaves his neck and they’re kissing again.
A throat clears somewhere close by, loudly, and Derek tears his lips off Stiles with a soft, whining, grunt. Glancing over finds a guest Stiles doesn’t recognize and Derek doesn’t either or doesn’t care, because all he does is step just enough out of Stiles’ space to let him slide off the wall. One of the hands releases his hip and wraps around his wrist.
Derek’s eyes are dark, voice rough, when he asks, “Home?”
Entranced by his wet, red lips, Stiles nods dumbly. Then grins when he thinks about what exactly that means. “Yes. Home. Yes. Definitely.”
* * *
Derek has Stiles’ waistcoat and shirt open, hands on his chest, by the time they fall through the apartment door. With hands groping him, it’s been frustratingly impossible for Stiles to reciprocate, so he’s settled with pawing Derek’s ass, carding his fingers through Derek’s hair, pulling at his hips and shoulders and letting the endless babbling of, “Yes. Touch. More,” from his brain spill from his mouth. He hears a pair of shoes kick off somewhere and follows Derek’s lead and then he feels the bump of a bed behind his legs and Derek’s crawling over him, grabbing him by the waist and hiking him further up the bed until just his socked feet are hanging off the edge.
“Jesus, Stiles,” Derek pants against his chest, something between a prayer and a curse, it makes Stiles flare hot.
With a well placed foot and hand, Stiles flips them, smirking at the way Derek’s eyes go wide. “Shirt,” Stiles says as he peals out of his top layers and watches Derek scramble to do the same. Then it’s flesh on flesh and he’s muttering mortifying things like, “Wanted to do this for so long,” as he licks and nips and relishes in the salt of Derek’s sweat, the smooth of his skin, the hard of his muscles.
Derek’s fingers pull at his hair and Stiles lets himself get dragged back up to Derek’s lips, moans into his mouth when a hand presses to his crotch, fingers wrapping around his straining erection as well as they can with pants and underwear in the way. His hips buck forward a handful of times before he pulls back to take a shaky, steadying breath. “Wait. Want to do something,” he murmurs, kisses Derek quickly, and then ducks back down, hands scrabbling at Derek’s pants.
A load groan of relief fills the room when he slides Derek’s pants and boxer briefs over his hips down his knees, and then off completely. All that’s left is Derek, naked, and Stiles aches at the image.
“Stiles, what the hell?” knocks him out of watching, and he bends back down, wraps his hand around Derek’s cock, hot, hard, head moist with precome. Derek’s whole body shudders as he pumps the first time, and then goes still, quivering, “Fuck,” punched into the dark room when Stiles takes it in his mouth. His lips close around the soft tip and he takes a moment to lick it clean, chest swelling with self-satisfaction at the noisy nonsense spewing from the man below him. Opening his mouth more, he slides down the shaft, keeping a hand at the base, wrapping around what he can’t fit.
He pumps a few times before going lower, taking a breath through his nose and opening his throat, keeping relaxed when he feels the head of Derek’s cock hit the back of his throat, and then keep going. His eyes water, he hasn’t done this in a long time, but it feels so good, he wants to make Derek feel good.
“Shit, Stiles,” Derek moans, hand fisting in Stiles’ hair, but it’s not demanding or shoving, just there, tight enough to be just the edge of painful.
Stiles bobs, taking Derek to the base a few times before hooking a hand under Derek’s knee and pushing his leg up. The hand in his hair tightens, pulls him up so fast Derek’s dick slides out from his lips with an obscene pop and smears down his chin. For a second his heart pounds in a way that has nothing to do with sex and arousal and desire, and then Derek’s hauling him up for another deep kiss.
“Yes,” Derek says when they pull apart. He’s flush, sweating, hair clinging to his forehead. It makes Stiles want even more. “First thing tomorrow morning, but please,” is a whiny beg and not something Stiles can say no to. So he doesn’t, because the thought of having Derek in him has him rutting against Derek’s stomach, tingling with need.
What he doesn’t expect is finding himself on his stomach, and he’s about to tell Derek he wants to be able to look at him when he feels hot hands on his ass and an even hotter tongue licking him there. Every nerve goes hot as he gasps in surprise, jolting under Derek’s hands. Except it doesn’t come again and Stiles looks over his shoulder to see Derek sitting back, watching him, expression serious.
“Is this- This okay?”
Stiles nods, emphatically. “Yeah. Yeah, definitely. More than okay. Please,” he finishes, getting his knees under him just enough to lift his ass and grinning when Derek’s eyes instantly shoot back down to where his hands are still spreading Stiles apart.
Even expecting the tongue, it still sends a shock through him, and then he feels the insistent press and he buries his head into a pillow that smells entirely like Derek, and moans. When Derek’s tongue works past his ring, presses into him, he whines, high and loud. It’s warm and pressing and opening him, but just not enough. He wants more, says as much with a breathy chant of, “Please, Derek, please, more,” and is rewarded with the press of a finger alongside Derek’s tongue.
It’s only saliva, but with the tongue and finger working together, soon enough Stiles feels the digit sliding in, past the loosened breach made by Derek’s tongue, easing to the knuckle and then slowly thrusting. Stiles squeezes his eyes shut, pants into the pillow, fists the sheets. “Fuck. Fucking fuck. Me. Derek. Need more than that.”
Derek’s finger slips out and his tongue is gone and Stiles opens his eyes to glance over and see Derek up beside him, cock straining, leaving his stomach wet with precome, as he digs through his nightstand and flashes a condom and lube with a smile. Crawling back, he drags a hand down Stiles’ spine, a sure pressure along his back, and Stiles tries not to thrust into the bed.
A hand is back on his ass, massaging him, thumbing at where he’s still wet from Derek’s mouth. “Doin’ alright?”
“Yes,” Stiles insists.
With a hum, Derek’s hand moves from his ass to his hip as he slides a slick finger into Stiles, quick and to the knuckle. Stiles closes his eyes again, breaths into the pillow, tries to control himself, relax into the bed, and soon Derek’s working a second finger. Muscle stretches in a way Stiles knows and enjoys as he feels the fingers thrust into him, crook and scissor and stretch.
“’nother,” he groans after a few thrusts, and Derek complies, working in three fingers as he uses his knees to spread Stiles’ further apart and his hand on Stiles’ hip to lift and scoot him back, until Stiles’ thighs are laying on his, ass propped in the air. It’s good, then Derek’s fingers crook and twist and Stiles feels his body light in a wave of pleasure. He writhes on the bed, gasping, “Yes!”
A soft chuckle rumbles out of Derek as he repeats the motion until Stiles doesn’t remember what words are and the room is filled with their panting. Returning to regular thrusts with his fingers, Derek rasps, “Ready?”
He’s having trouble making his tongue work, so Stiles just nods into the pillow, unclutches on hand from the sheets, to reach back. His fingertips brush Derek’s cock, and he grips it, pumping until Derek has to grab his wrist and pull his hand away with a low, broken, “In you,” that makes Stiles make another needy sound.
Derek’s fingers slide out and a moment later he’s lifting Stiles’ hips, sliding a pillow under him, propping him up. There’s the sound of a condom wrapper tearing open, and Derek’s sharp, shuddering breathing as he puts it on and tries not to come. “Jesus, Stiles. I’ve dreamed about this,” is the whispered confession that makes Stiles’ cock throb as he feels the head of Derek press against him.
The burning stretch is more than any of the fingers, and Stiles breathes his way through it, keeping calm and relaxed, relishing in the feeling of Derek sliding into him. Then Derek’s against him, flush, skin against skin, pressing against his ass and the back of his legs, leaning over him, heat radiating from his chest and soaking into Stiles’ back. “You feel so good,” Derek murmurs against the shell of his ear, nose pressing into his hair, hands rubbing up and down his sides. “So tight. So hot. So perfect.”
Stiles groans, feels his face flushing even more than he already is. “You’re embarrassing me,” he groans, already feeling comfortable with Derek’s girth inside him, already wanting to get fucked into oblivion.
“It’s true,” Derek insists, giving an experimental thrust that makes Stiles eyes roll and his breathing hitch. “I got jealous when Whitney was flirting with you,” he says, thrusting again, shallow, not even really moving. “Then you made fun of how I hate Ginny,” he continues, hands leaving Stiles’ sides to plant on the bed as he pulls out and thrusts again, slow and agonizing and perfect. “And then you said you read Snow Doves,” is followed by another slow thrust that makes Stiles whine and scramble at the sheets in desperation. “You like it. You love it. You think it’s amazing.” He tosses Stiles’ words back at him, panting between sentences, as though he’s torturing himself half as much as he is Stiles.
“You make fun of the world by writing intentionally shitty books, how am I supposed to ever want to leave?” Stiles groans into his pillow, and then tenses. “Oh-” Shit. He might as well have said he loves the man.
“What makes you think I’d ever let you leave?” Derek growls, pushing himself up and pulling out at the same time. Stiles has enough time to release a surprised sigh before Derek’s flipping him over and finally- finally he’s looking up at Derek, seeing his flushed cheeks and dark eyes and lips quirked into a satisfied smile. “Better?”
A second later Derek’s lining himself up and sliding in with ease, hands gripping Stiles’ hips in a vise-like grip as he thrusts, a slow, steady rhythm. “Just want,” he pants, looking up from where he’s been captivated, watching himself disappear into Stiles with every thrust, “want to do this all night.”
Stiles’ laugh is wheezy, a hand shooting out to grab Derek’s wrist. “Want to wreck me?” he pants, eyes fluttering, losing himself in the feeling of Derek filling him up him back up with each thrust.
“Destroy you,” Derek groans.
“Oh God. I’m in trouble.”
Derek’s sound of inquiry is strained.
“I want you to,” Stiles explains between breaths, gasping when Derek’s hips snap forward. “Oh fuck. You like that?” he wonders, smirks when Derek can only nod. “You know, I give as good as I get. Hope you don’t have any plans after tomorrow morning.”
“Shit. Stiles.” Derek rolls against him, not loosing his pace entirely, but moving faster. “Feel so good.”
Despite the breathy banter, Stiles isn’t going to last much longer, not with this new pace, not with Derek telling him how good he feels, how tight he is, how hot, how perfect. Then Derek’s lifting him, shifting, and a handful of thrusts later his nerves turn to hot liquid, his muscles tensing as he gasps, “Fuck. Yes. There.”
Derek takes it as advice and permission and encouragement and doesn’t stop, snaps his hips forward, grinds into him. The world falls away, Stiles can barely catch a breath, is holding on to the bed to keep him grounded, taking panting breaths when his lungs feel like they’re going to burst. The sudden quiet doesn’t seem to bother Derek, who’s filling it with murmurs of praise.
Heat pools in Stiles’ abdomen, his cock thrumming with it, thudding wet and thick against his stomach with every thrust as Derek pounds into him. He tries to let go of the sheets, get a hand on himself, and then Derek is shifting his weight and Stiles eyes fly open as fingers that aren’t his wrap around him. Slick and tight and hot, Derek pumps him at the same rhythm he fucks, murmurs, “Perfect. Wonderful. Come on Stiles.”
His legs tense, heels digging into the mattress, lifting his hips further, spine bowing, and then his world is flooding and he’s coming with a loud moan, feels it hot and wet on his chest, Derek’s hand pumping him through it. He’s barely come back to himself when Derek’s hand leaves his cock to grab at his hip against, pace becoming erratic as he buries himself deep and thrusts deeper and deeper, making Stiles groan. Then Derek’s hands tighten, his body going rigid as he comes with, “Stiles,” on his lips.
It takes a few shaky breaths before Stiles feels Derek hands release his hips and he pulls out. Stiles watches, from under hooded eyes, as he ties off the condom and lumbers up the bed to drop it in the trashcan before thumping onto his side and rolling over. He lays an open hand on Stiles’ chest, rubs Stiles’ come between their skin, and lifts his hand to taste.
Stiles groans. “Fuck. Derek. I just came. You can’t do stuff like that.”
Grinning, Derek licks his hand clean.
“As soon as I can move again, I’m getting my hands in your ass.”
“Yeah,” Derek says, voice raw. “That sounds good.”
* * *
“Whoa. It’s not Saturday and,” Whitney looks up, across the restaurant, and back down, “it’s definitely not brunch anymore.”
“We just got out of bed,” Derek replies, voice bland, but he’s smirking in a very non-bland way. In fact, it’s a smirk that makes Whitney’s eyes go wide and Stiles move to slap him on the arm, hard enough to get a thick whipping sound and wipe the smirk off with a wince.
“Derek.” Stiles is blushing, though he’s not sure if it’s from the mortification of having Derek flaunt the fact that they were having sex up until twenty minutes ago, or with the memory of what he was just doing to Derek twenty minutes ago.
“Well,” Whitney starts, recovering quickly—quickly enough to send a wink in Stiles’ direction and make him try to drown himself in his glass of water. “New year, new traditions, right?” Her eyebrows dance and Derek watches the interaction, scowling. “Give you a couple minutes to decide?”
“Yes,” Derek bites out, and watches her out of the corner of his eye as she walks off.
“Oh my God, you are jealous,” Stiles laughs, putting his water down.
Looking, for the life of him, like he’s about to cross his arms over his chest and pout, Derek rolls his eyes and agrees in a round about way with, “I wasn’t lying last night.”
“Or during Christmas either,” Stiles jumps in. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I could say the same to you,” Derek deadpans, but keeps going without waiting for a response. “Besides, I thought I was. Stiles, I bought you at a charity auction for five hundred dollars. Scott told me the unofficial cap was three hundred.” He’s looking across the table at Stiles like he’s grown another set of eyeballs or is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Stiles sputters. “I thought you were being nice.”
“I kissed you. Multiple times.”
“Playing the part.”
“Jesus, how many years of school have you been through?” Derek wonders, eyebrows raised.
His jaw drops. “Did Scott tell you to say that? No. Wait. It doesn’t matter. We were faking dating!” he settles with.
Across the table, Derek sighs and reaches out to tangle his fingers in Stiles’ hand that’s still lying by his water. “Which has made me trying to real date you difficult for the past three weeks.”
“Does it count if I wanted to real date you?” Stiles wonders, smiling down at their hands and then across at Derek, one hundred percent sure he looks like a doughy idiot.
Derek shrugs. “Not really, but I don’t mind.”
Snorting, Stiles stands and leans across the table. He can’t reach the whole length and he has to roll his eyes, pull on Derek’s hand, and say, “Come here already.”
With a grin, Derek does.