Stiles comes back to Beacon Hills with low expectations. College is great and all, but after a year of it he’s burnt out, homesick, and single. Honestly, all he wants for the next few months is to reconnect with friends, spend time with his dad, eat some home cooking, and maybe go to the movies a couple times. But even that is too much to expect, because Beacon Hills is a shitty hellmouth of a hometown.
“Oh, come on,” Stiles whines. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, dude,” Scott says. Isacc and Derek are backing him up, and look significantly less regretful than the Alpha. “Deaton thinks maybe it’s a witch thing? We don’t know exactly, but it’s clearly going for guys under thirty with Polish heritage. I promise we’re going to figure it out, but in the meantime…”
In the meantime Stiles can’t be trusted to protect himself, is the upshot; he’s in too much danger without any supernatural powers. Finding someone to stay with him wouldn’t usually be a problem, except that Scott is going on vacation with Isaac and his mom, Erica and Boyd stayed in Davis this summer to do couple-y things, and Allison is still in France. The Sheriff isn’t an option, either. He might be able to fend off whatever supernatural nasty they’re up against, but he’d eventually have to clock in for his actual job and leave Stiles alone.
Stiles is just starting to think he’ll have to flee back to Berkeley and somehow un-sublet his apartment when Isaac pensively offers, “Derek is around. Like, all the time.”
“Wait a minute, Stiles doesn’t…” Derek says at the same time that Stiles says, “I’m not sure that I really…”
Their protests go unheard. Scott has a big goofy grin on his face, and he says over both of them, “Great idea, Isaac. Derek could take a witch on as well as any of us. This is perfect!”
And just like that, it’s agreed: He and Mr. Sourwolf need to be roomies for the foreseeable future. Stiles can only hope that said foreseeable future isn’t going to end abruptly when one of them finally snaps and murders the other for like, eating too loudly or something.
Because here’s the thing: strained friendship, he and Derek can do. They can have one another’s back in a fight, they can banter over pack dinner, and even exchange a few funny texts while Stiles is away. But living together? There is no way this ends well.
Stiles drops his bag in the hallway and takes in Derek’s new apartment. It seems nice, if minimalist. Good light, feels like there’s air conditioning.
“I am not changing anything about my routine because of this.” Derek snaps. “I like living alone.” He glares at Stiles like he might challenge this fact.
Which, haha, not likely. “Jeeze,” Stiles says. “You can keep doing whatever creepy werewolf things you need to do. Trust me when I say I will not interfere.”
Derek, true to his word, goes about his life exactly as if Stiles wasn’t there, to the point of not making eye contact even when they’re in the same room. But if you made a venn diagram of what Stiles was expecting (shirtless workouts, glowering sessions in front of the mirror, eating raw steaks, more glowering) and what living with Derek is actually like, it would resemble the diagram of things Stiles has imagined doing in bed and things he has actually done. Which is to say, there would be two circles with a small sliver of overlap that would be “eating steak” in the first example and “masturbation” in the second.
These are the things Stiles learns about Derek’s home life over the next week:
Derek’s design sense is minimalist but expensive. Feet are NOT allowed on the couch, as made clear by the tick in Derek’s right eye whenever Stiles does it.
Derek cares about espresso, like, way more than is normal.
Derek has a huge bed (why does he need such a huge bed?) and makes Stiles sleep there while he uses the couch. Very gentlemanly.
Derek does the NYT crossword every morning, using the actual physical copy of the paper that he has delivered. And he wears glasses.
Saturday morning is Wait Wait time, and so help him if you talk over Carl Kasell.
So, Derek is miraculously a fully functional adult. When did this even happen? He used to live in a big industrial loft that Stiles kind of remembers not even having a kitchen, for God’s sake, and that itself was a huge step up from the abandoned train car. And now he has an espresso machine and a subscription to the Times? Stiles thinks he’s doing well when he’s still got clean underwear on laundry day and manages three square meals that don’t primarily consist of potato chips. Derek has a linen closet.
Stiles definitely starts off thinking it’s fucking hilarious that Derek-sourwolf-Hale does crosswords and cares about scuffs on his furniture. He actually takes notes so he can do a full write-up later for Scott and Isaac to laugh about: Derek has more cleaning products than bath products, and he has plenty of bath products; Derek has at least five very well thumbed cookbooks; Derek listens to fucking NPR and grinds his own coffee beans. When Derek pulls out the grapefruit spoons the first weekend morning they spend together, so they can eat the the organic grapefruit from the farmer’s market, Stiles almost busts a gut trying to hold in his laughter.
But at around two or three days in, “fully functional adult” somehow becomes… not a joke. In fact, before Stiles quite knows it, the not-joke has morphed into something incredibly hot.
So, this is a thing that’s happening. He’s fantasizing about a live-in relationship; that’s new. Stiles gets himself off in the shower, thinking vaguely about someone tall, dark and scruffy who is definitely not Derek doing laundry of all things. On the way out of the bathroom, he bumps into someone tall, dark and scruffy who definitely is Derek, and who demands, “What were you doing in there? You took forever, there better be hot water left.”
And just like that, masturbating in the shower is out. There is also no way in hell he’s making himself come in Derek’s bed. Werewolves can definitely smell that shit, and honestly it would be crossing a line even if they couldn’t. By the end of the week he’s incredibly horny every waking moment, and it’s affecting his brain.
The evidence? Everything is turning him on. Derek in sweats and bare feet, nudging his glasses up his nose while he does the Sunday crossword? Unff. Derek filling out forms to get some renovations on his property approved? Oh God, yes. Derek putting away groceries and bitching that the corner store was out of the right type of Greek yogurt? Take me now, Stiles thinks, worrying at his lower lip with his teeth.
This can’t be normal.
Not that it means anything particular about Derek, of course; it’s like, a fetish or something. There’s no who about it, this is just Stiles’ subconscious working out his desire for stability or being cared for or something Freudian with his mom probably. Him and Derek? They’re still frenemies at best.
It probably has something to do with spending his freshman year trying to keep up with everyone else's boozy partying when he really wanted to nerd out in the library, is all. So sue him, he likes a little domesticity! And maybe a tiny, very small portion of how much he’s coming to enjoy living with Derek could be how waking up in his huge, pillowy bed feels almost like it's where he belongs, especially when Derek’s already got the bacon on. It feels quiet and homey, like a boyfriend making him breakfast. Not Derek, clearly, but a random other boyfriend that Stiles could theoretically have. You know, in the future.
Just… living like this is easy to get used to, is all Stiles has to say about that.
“Hey Stiles, I’m going to be out tonight. Alarm’s set, so you should be safe as long as you stay in. Can you take care of yourself for food?”
“Sure,” Stiles says, gleefully picturing the frozen hot-pockets he’d insisted Derek pick up last trip to the store. Not that he doesn’t love Derek’s cooking (Derek’s cooking) but honestly without some MSG he’s going to waste away. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to see Ms. Morell,” Derek says, almost nervously. “Look, I know, just…don’t say it.”
“No, I wasn’t going to! Uh, I mean…good for you?” Stiles blurts. It’s great that Derek’s following his basically healthy fling with Braeden up with another functional, adult relationship. Like, usually he’d be on to another psychopathic killer by now so…yeah. It’s great, good for Derek. Stiles is happy for him.
Derek huffs a sigh, rolls his eyes, and leaves.
The hot-pockets are not nearly as exciting as Stiles was imagining.
About a week and a half into their cohabitation, Derek’s long since eased off his “I’m going to pretend you don’t exist” routine to include Stiles in basic household chores and conversation. On the other hand, he’s also starting to show the strain of sleeping on his couch every night. He keeps rolling his head in a way that shouts ‘I have a massive crick in my neck.’ There are bags under his eyes, and his shoulders look permanently tense.
Stiles sighs, looking at him across the breakfast table set with real maple syrup and the waffles they made from scratch. Derek’s hunched over a crossword puzzle, absently massaging his own shoulder and wincing.
"Look, I think we can admit that this witch or whatever is going to be at large until Scott and Isaac get back, and that's like another two weeks. No way you're sleeping on the couch in your own home that long, it's not right."
"Not right is buying an extra bed for houseguests when I hate houseguests," Derek shoots back.
"Dude, you've got a California king,” Stiles scoffs. “I think it's big enough for the two of us."
Derek recoils—like a full body roll away from Stiles. "I am not sleeping with you!" he says in a scandalized stage whisper.
Which is a bit hurtful, honestly. Does he stink or something?
"Look, it's not a, a sex thing or whatever. It's just…sharing resources. Scott and I have shared a twin before, do you think we're a couple?" Derek looks skeptical but doesn't argue. "Thought so."
"No shirt, no sweats, no sharing" Derek announces by way of agreement. "And wear socks if you have cold feet."
He snaps the newspaper flat and goes back to his puzzle.
That night is…well, it could probably have been more awkward, though Stiles is hard pressed to think of how. Even though it’s summer, they’re both bundled up in long sleeves and sweats to ward off the mere possibility of touching skin, which of course means Stiles can’t think about anything except touching Derek. That and how much he wants to strip down to boxers, because he’s sweating his balls off.
Then when they’re actually getting into bed it’s all eyes not meeting and accidental butt-bumps, plus a heaping side order of ‘no you’re on my side,’ and Derek being a huge cover hog. Stiles stares into the dark, wide awake, and listens to the werewolf breathing, trying to decide if he’s asleep so Stiles can finally relax. Unfortunately, it seems likely Derek is doing the same thing, and it takes a long, long time for Stiles to get tired enough to just pass out.
That alone should honestly fill his awkwardness quota for the next decade or so, but karma’s never been particularly kind to Stiles.
Stiles swears he fell asleep half falling out of the bed he was so intent on staying on his side. Hand to God, he had no intention of making this weird. But now it’s sunrise, and he’s on his stomach, smack in the middle of the bed, with Derek, well…draped over him.
Derek is laying on his side, curled against Stiles. His arm is curled around Stiles’ shoulders, and his leg is thrown across Stiles’ butt. Stiles refuses to wonder if the soft pressure on his hip is a hand or limb or something else. Turning his head to look at his unexpected cuddle buddy, Stiles is just considering how he can possibly extract himself from this situation cleanly when Derek’s eyes flutter open and meet his.
“Hey,” Stiles says weakly. Derek’s going to rip his throat out with his teeth after all, he just knows it.
Derek stares for a moment, grunts in acknowledgement, and then rolls off Stiles.
“I’ll get breakfast started,” he says gruffly.
And apparently that is the end of that. Stiles says a silent hail Mary at the near miss, and stuffs his feet into his house slippers, neatly left on his side of the bed. Then he follows Derek to the kitchen where they make some quick omelets, not talking about anything more uncomfortable than MCU versus DC. In other words, a normal morning.
It happens again the next night – both the cuddling and the lack of dying – and Stiles has to accept that waking up with his nose pressed up against Derek’s shoulder blades or with Derek drooling on his shoulder is, for whatever reason, going to be considered normal. At least for the next few weeks, anyways. It’s actually kind of nice, if he has to say. Again, to be clear, not because it’s Derek. Cuddling is just one of those universally comfortable, platonic things that he’s been missing out on as a unhappily single freshman. That’s all.
As platonic as morning cuddles are, it still gives Stiles a weird pang of guilt when Derek heads off to his weekly date with Ms. Morell. Plus all the not-exactly-Derek fantasies... He can’t help but feel he should give a little something back.
“You want to have Ms. Morell over this weekend? I can make myself scarce,” he offers over dinner the night after. He can be the bigger person, and miss one of Derek’s home made dinners to help a bro out. Generosity is his...well it’s not his middle name, but it could be.
“What? Why would I do that?” Derek seems genuinely confused—so, maybe he’s not such a perfect adult after all.
Stiles smiles at his plate, weirdly pleased at the reminder that Derek's still Derek. “You only ever see her on Mondays, it’s a pretty weird way to date somebody.”
“I’m not dating Ms. Morell,” Derek says woodenly.
Stiles does a double-take. “You go out with her every week!”
“She’s my therapist,” Derek says, flushing and declining to look at Stiles at all.
“Oh,” Stiles says, heart fluttering in his chest. Derek taking care of his mental health? Check. Responsibly dealing with trauma and growing as a were-being? Check.
Holy hell, this should not be turning Stiles on like it is.
The Sunday puzzle this week is giving Derek fits, apparently, since he’s still working on it Monday morning. He’s chewing on his pen, eyebrows drawn.
"Stiles, what’s a word for ‘die of cold?’” he asks. “Seven letters, starts with ‘ice,’ ends in an ‘e.’ I just can’t get it."
"Erm," Stiles says, squinting one eye and gazing into the middle distance, trying to think and failing. Ice...death? Too long. Hypo...no, way too long, doesn’t even have the right letters. He’s completely unable to visualize the word. "Uh, can I see?”
Derek slides the paper over. Unfortunately, looking at the puzzle doesn’t help Stiles much. Part of the problem is that Derek’s leaning over his shoulder to look, too, with his freshly washed hair wafting a subtle smell of shampoo. A droplet falls from his bangs onto Stiles’ neck. It’s very hard to think about frostbite or whatever.
"Ah wait, it’s ‘icecube,’ get it? Die as in dice," Derek says, with a pleased little smile. He looks adorably proud of with himself, unguarded and homey. And then he remembers Stiles.
“Sorry,” he says. “I know you don’t care about my boring hobby.”
Only he actually sounds embarrassed, not angry. All this time Stiles thought he was annoyed to have someone in his space, but that’s not it. Derek is shy about all his domestic habits.
Stiles feels his mouth involuntarily fall open in shock, and he trips over his tongue to smooth things over: “No, it’s not that I don’t care, I just suck at word puzzles,” he explains. He’s never going to make fun of Derek’s grapefruit spoons with Scott, or any of the other stuff. It’s not a joke that Derek’s taking care of himself, and Stiles is sure as hell not going to embarrass him about it, ever.
“You mean you’ve never bothered to try them,” Derek says, looking at him askance. “With your vocabulary, you’d be amazing.”
Stiles shrugs, and Derek sighs, and that should be the end of it. But instead, Derek drags Stiles’ chair, with Stiles in it, over to his side of the table. And oh, hello. There’s the original flavor of totally-not-specific-to-Derek attraction—the ‘this guy’s built enough he could pin my knees to my shoulders and fuck me until my legs stopped working’ attraction that’s been awkwardly rearing its head since that one time Derek almost died of wolfsbane poisoning and Stiles almost died of inappropriate arousal.
Derek’s talking, and Stiles tries to focus: “Look, here’s the Monday puzzle. Anyone can do a Monday. Just start going through the clues, and pick out the ones you’re sure of. It’s fine to skip some, getting the first few down will help with the rest.”
Stiles skims down the ‘across’ clues, embarrassed that he doesn’t see anything he knows. Passion for life? Many a Bach composition? But then – “Kyoto currency, that’s totally ‘yen,’ right? That’s like…almost too easy.”
“Yeah,” Derek says with a downright fond smile. “See, you’re fine. Just keep looking for easy ones, and after you get all of those, you can find words that are mostly completed and see if you can guess them from the letters you’ve already filled in.”
“Cool,” Stiles murmurs, turning back to the puzzle. Stiles getting into Derek’s hobbies, Derek’s encouragement, the routine they’ve developed around cooking breakfast and doing dishes, all of it is pretty nice, he has to admit. Reasonably couple-y, yes, but that’s not about them specifically, it’s just…well, actually it is kind of specific to them. Kind of really specific, Stiles admits to himself, with a weird flipping sensation in his stomach.
“Let me know when you’re stuck, I can take a look or we can check the answer key,” Derek offers.
Stiles says, “Thanks,” and just manages to bite back the ‘honey’ that his brain instantly tagged on the end of it. Only…what? He’s calling Derek honey in his head. Honey. When did this happen?
Weeks ago, Stiles realizes in a sudden rush. How could he have missed it? This whole time, he hasn’t been fantasizing about being in a sweet domestic relationship with just anyone, he’s imagining being Derek’s sweet domestic boyfriend. The fully functional adult fetish is totally not a fetish, it’s one hundred percent an I’m-in-love-with-Derek thing. Stiles is hopelessly, totally, completely gone on the specific person of Derek and the specific domestic thing they have going on.
Or, anyways, Stiles thinks with a shot of nerves, the domestic thing they having going on for approximately a week and a half more. After that they go back to being frenemies, don’t they? No reason not to. Derek clearly has his life figured out now, from his matching linens to his planned meals, and it can’t possibly have a place for Stiles with his pop-tarts dinners and sniff-test laundry days. He better enjoy this while he can, because it’s sure as hell not a permanent thing.
“What’s a four letter word for ‘digital image format?’” Derek asks absentmindedly. “Second letter’s ‘P’.”
“Hmmm, try ‘JPEG’?” Stiles is doing the dishes, since Derek cooked the blueberry pancakes earlier. He’s still nowhere near Derek’s expertise, but he can legitimately help with anything pop culture or technology, which is nice to know. See, we fit together, a small part of him insists, like he actually has a shot of having any of this for real. He does his best to push it down; he should be satisfied with pretending.
Derek harrumphs in that pleased way he always does when Stiles actually gets a word first and pencils it in, draining the last of his coffee. “Then that makes sixteen down “gregarious...”
“Getcha a refill, babe?” Stiles asks, hoisting the coffee pot.
Derek looks up from the crossword, fixing his gaze on Stiles over the top of his glasses. His expression is blank, his cup paused a couple inches from the table. Both of his magnificent eyebrows slowly lift towards his hairline.
Stiles makes a couple abortive noises, realizes there’s not many ways he can walk “babe” back to safe ground, and gulps instead. He should never have started doing that in his head, of course it would come out of his mouth eventually. Six letter word for fucked, starts with ‘S’.
“Okay,” Derek says softly, “thanks.” He holds out his mug. Stiles’ heart stutters back to life, beating a strange syncopated rhythm but functioning at least. He pours the coffee with a trembling hand and the day continues without another hiccup.
Derek takes the next time in stride too ("hey, move over sweetie, I want to si- sit...down.”) and the one after that (“whatcha want for dinner, hun?”) before Stiles accepts that this is a thing he’s allowed to do. Endearments are safely filed under the same twilight zone acceptability as domestic breakfasts, morning cuddles, and hobby-sharing.
Derek never calls Stiles anything but “Stiles” back, but maybe that's just how he is. It's hard to imagine the word “sweetie” coming out of his mouth naturally, after all. Or maybe Derek isn’t playing along with their fake relationship at all, he just thinks Stiles is a bizarre disaster of a human being and is trying his best to ignore it.
So, yeah. One or the other.
The next thing happens so easily that the only question is why it didn't happen earlier. It’s just a usual night; Derek is reading in bed and Stiles is grumbling about it.
"Your ten minutes are up," he insists. "More than up. I'm exhausted!"
"Just ten more," Derek says dismissively. "End of the chapter."
"Are you sure that monster even has chapters? Lights out, now," Stiles insists, heaving himself awkwardly over Derek’s side to flick the reading lamp off. This is an ill-considered move. It’s a near thing that he’s able to catch himself on the nightstand rather than toppling over onto Derek's face.
"Ugh, fine" Derek grumbles under him, expression invisible in the dark. The heavy book thumps to the floor. "Happy?"
That might be one word for it, Stiles thinks. He’s propped up over the older man, distinctly aware of the heat and weight of him, and what do you know? Not feeling so exhausted after all. He shifts his hand from the nightstand to the bed, near where Derek’s shoulder must be, twisting up onto his hands and knees. His calf is bumping up against Derek’s hip. It’s like morning cuddles, right? Almost the same thing.
"Stiles?" Derek asks. Stiles cuts him off with a kiss. It's so dark he misses first, hitting the soft skin of Derek's cheek just above the stubble. From Derek’s sharp intake of breath, though, the intent came through loud and clear.
Stiles can’t see Derek’s face, and he’s suddenly nervous about what he’s done. This changes everything, doesn’t it? Endearments and cuddles, that’s one type of thing. But kissing… What if this is the bridge too far?
But then Derek's hand is in Stiles’ hair, pulling him closer and tilting his nose out of the way. Their mouths find each other, lips already open to one another, wet and hot. The kiss is desperate, messy, breathless. When they break apart, Derek lets out a needy moan that’s so unrestrained and open that Stiles whines desperately in return, a pulse of hot need rushing to his groin.
Then it's Derek rolling on top, shoving Stiles flat on his back and straddling him. His solid weight shifts heavily onto Stiles’ hips when he sits up to pull his shirt over his head in one fluid movement. He's just a darker silhouette against the night, but Stiles knows he’s half naked and even that is enough to get him fully hard.
Stiles reaches out with both hands to ghost his fingers down Derek’s pecs and ribs. His skin’s impossibly warm, velvety smooth over firm muscles. This is happening, it's actually happening, Stiles keeps reminding himself. Derek wants this, too. He arches his back to struggle out of his own shirt and chuck it off the bed.
When they come together again it's skin on skin all the way to their waists, Derek's hands running over Stiles’ chest and sides and, holy shit, he is into everything about this.
Making out is even better now that they’re rolling their bodies together in time with the natural ebb and flow of their kisses. Derek noses Stiles’ jaw, nudging it aside to mouth at his neck instead and Stiles moans, digging his fingers into Derek’s back. He can feel the slightly raised skin where the Triskele is; all the times he’s looked, and now he’s touching.
Their sweatpants, chosen so carefully to keep things platonic, aren’t even pretending to do their job. It’s absolutely clear where Derek’s dick is thrusting and bumping up against Stiles’ through the thin layers of fabric. All the same, it’s not enough. Stiles drags his hands away from Derek’s ass (Derek’s ass) to catch the waistband of his own pants and shove them down just enough for his dick to pop free.
Derek’s body tenses above him, and when he reaches down to palm Stiles’ erection, it’s almost tentative. Stiles bucks into his touch, which seems to be encouragement enough. Derek starts working him with a firm rhythm, breaking the kiss to focus on what he’s doing. Their mouths are still so close, though, breathing the same air in uneven huffs and panting. Stiles tries to shift his knees open wider, but the stupid sweats are still in the way.
“Off, off,” he instructs, tugging at Derek’s waistband. He’s rewarded with Derek’s indulgent chuckle, and again when he rolls to the side to shed the pants. Stiles takes the opportunity to divest himself of the sweats tangled around his own legs.
Suddenly shy, Stiles runs his hand over Derek’s hip, biting his lip before letting his fingers wander to the rough line of hair low on Derek’s belly, and finally move lower to loop around his cock and giving a tentative tug. Derek rolls his hips into the loose grip and then mumbles, “c’mere.”
He tugs Stiles back on top of him, and Stiles shivers with the actual feeling of their erections pressed together, the way their bodies slot into each other so perfectly. He runs the tips of his fingers over Derek’s eyebrows, his cheekbones, his rough stubble and soft lips, trying to imagine his expression in the dark. He finds that Derek’s smiling, and it’s such a strangely intimate thing to do, to touch his mouth like this, that he lets out a soft, satisfied laugh. Derek joins him, bumping their foreheads together.
Then he adjusts his grip so it’s circling both of them, and starts to move. He’s stroking with his hand, but then he’s also rolling his hips up into Stiles’, creating a counterpoint rhythm that’s better than anything Stiles has managed on his own. It’s not like Stiles could possibly stay still, either; he pushes into Derek’s hand, rocking with the rhythm at first and then losing it to unsteady thrusts as the intensity of the moment catches up to him—the fact that it’s Derek blending into the purely physical arousal and pooling into something huge, unavoidable.
He thinks he manages to give Derek a bit of warning, but then it’s hard to be very coherent when you’re a minute from coming your brains out, so maybe not. His hips jerk forward instinctively and he’s spilling all over Derek’s stomach, every muscle in his body feeling clenched tight and fizzy with pleasure.
Derek heaves a shuddering breath, his chest expanding under Stiles, and follows a moment after, helped along by the slickness of Stiles’ come. For a moment they both just stay there, draped over one another, sweat-slick and drunk on the afterglow; it’s Derek who stirs first, carefully easing out from under Stiles and pulling back to his side of the bed.
Stiles almost whines at the loss of contact, but Derek’s back a second later, carefully cleaning up the mess on his stomach with what feels like a tissue. Because of course Derek would be the one to take care of that, to think ahead about Stiles’ comfort and the laundry. Stiles is taken aback at the intensity of affection that swells through him, deepening the already-dreamy post-coital bliss.
Derek hums happily when they’re both wiped clean, flopping on his stomach and nosing into Stiles’ collar bone. Stiles drapes himself over Derek’s sweaty back, which should be gross but totally isn’t. Stiles loves it when they act like an old married couple, but hot-and-heavy early relationship boning is also something he is very, very glad to be getting a piece of.
They usually reserve this sort of intimacy for the morning and its convenient plausible deniability, but they’ve had sex, now. That means all their weird pretend-relationship couple stuff is validated, right? Cuddling is no longer weirdly acceptable, it’s just straight up something they can do.
Derek’s adult life must have a spot for Stiles in it after all, and that is mindblowingly amazing, because, like all things Derek, he’s beyond gone on the domestic routine Derek’s developed in this new apartment. Stiles loves the familiarity and the newness of them together, the banter, the crosswords, the cuddling, and even the dirty dishes. It seems like this summer, rather than sucking, has turned out to exceed his every expectation.
Derek's already up by the time Stiles blinks awake, but there’s no smell of bacon frying. Stiles frowns. It seems like if you’re going to leave your new boyfriend alone in bed, you at least owe him bacon. He tugs on his sweats, toes on his slippers, and tries to pat his hair into order.
"What's for breakfast?" he calls down the hall, and peers into the kitchen. Derek isn't there, though. Stiles finds him a moment later sitting on the couch with his hands clasped and his elbows on his knees. He looks ill.
"You alright, buddy?" Stiles asks, his stomach tightening.
"Look, Stiles," Derek says. "We can't keep doing this."
"Doing what," Stiles says, too quick and guilty for actual confusion. This was not the morning after he was hoping for, Derek can't seriously mean...
Derek glares. "This," he repeats, with a vague wave between them. “Pretending.”
"No, come on," Stiles squawks in a panic. "We can totally keep pretending. Not pretending! Like…faking it until we make it. Eh?" Stiles wiggles his eyebrows with a toothy smile.
Derek runs a hand through his hair in irritation. "You don't get to just skip straight to living together, Stiles. We don't even...We've never gone on a date. I don't know anything about what you're looking for, and you're going back to school in a few weeks. What happens then?"
"I dunno, we'll work it out when we get there!" Great, trust Derek to have a crisis of confidence the fucking second they bone. Jesus. There’s no way Stiles is letting him back out of this, not when they’d just confirmed it was something real. "Look, it’s…” Stiles says fumbling for leverage. “It’s like a crossword! You just fill in what you know and build on that. I know I like living with you, okay? We can figure the rest out as we go."
"A relationship isn't a puzzle, Stiles." Condescending doesn't even begin to cover how snotty Derek sounds saying that, and his expression matches his tone perfectly. Like Stiles is a stupid kid who’s got no place in Derek's perfect apartment after all.
Stiles' temper flares up to meet Derek’s attitude. Their night together counted, made it real - at least for him. "Oh, that's right, it's a game! There's a magical rulebook that says you have to complete 200 date quests before you get enough XP to unlock the 'moving in' achieve!"
Derek actually growls in frustration. "Great, World of Warcraft! Yes, perfect, thanks for reminding me you’re still a goddamn teenager!"
"Oh, fuck you too! This is not about my age!"
"It is about your age! It’s about everything! Relationships don’t just work like this, it’s too fast. You have this idea of how things will be, and I… but we're setting ourselves up to go wrong!"
Stiles almost takes a step back in surprise. He’s misread Derek again; it’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that he cares too much and it’s freaking him out. Four letter word for trauma, starts with K.
Stiles' anger melts away, and he crouches down between Derek's knees. "Hey, hey. It's not going to go wrong. I'm not that easy to scare away, alright?"
Derek shoots him a nervous look. "How would you know? You have no idea how bad relationships can get. You don't know..."
"I know that the witch could kill me tomorrow," Stiles says. “It’d only take one mistake.” He knows it’s pulling out the big guns, but he needs to make Derek understand somehow.
"Jesus," Derek curses, sucking in a breath like he'd been hit. "Stiles, you're not going to..."
"Nobody's got a signed agreement with the grim reaper,” Stiles interrupts. “Everyone thinks they’ve got all the time in the world to figure it out, so it’s fine to just wait until things happen the way you expect. You know, my mom was fine right until she wasn’t, okay? She'd always say, 'let's go on vacation next year... '" He breaks off with a half laugh. "Come on, tell me you're not so scared you're not even going to try."
"I'm not scared," Derek says, unconvincingly. "It's just..."
Stiles puts his hands on either side of Derek's face and the older man stops talking. "Is having me here nice?" Stiles asks. "Just tell me.”
"It's…it feels right, having you around." Derek says. It looks like it physically hurts him to be staying still, just looking at Stiles, but he's doing it. He's fighting that need to run.
"Okay, good," Stiles says. “I think it's nice too." He pulls in closer and kisses Derek, who leans into it with hungry desperation.
"That part works too, yeah?" Stiles murmurs after they finally break apart.
"Definitely," Derek says, pressing their foreheads together, his hand still cupping Stiles head.
"So we like being around each other and we've got chemistry, right?" That actually earns him a half smile. "I think we at least give it an honest try."
"Okay," Derek admits, and something in Stiles' chest unwinds, something he hadn't even realized was twisted tight until then. "Okay, we'll figure it out."
Scott and Isaac drop by the day after their flight gets in. They're relaxed, tan, and have no idea what they’re walking into.
"Just want to make sure you two haven't killed each other," Scott jokes.
"Not yet!" Stiles says brightly. "Can we get you anything?"
We? Scott mouths at Isaac, who shrugs. "Sure, some tea maybe?"
"Babe, where's the looseleaf?” Stiles calls.
"Up by the stuff," Derek says, busily putting out plates. “And get the—" he waves vaguely, and Stiles nods, somehow already holding two types of tea which he passes into Isaac's baffled grasp.
Then he crosses behind Derek, hand lightly on the older man’s hip as a heads up, and pulls out the sugar bowl like something in the previous exchange actually made sense to him. Derek takes it without looking, juggling two mugs into one hand like a professional.
After setting the bowl and mugs down he holds his hand out again. Just as Scott is about to ask what he's expecting, Stiles passes him a small spoon for the sugar.
Stiles ruffles his hair when he passes behind him, and Derek grumbles, "you know I don't like that," like it’s something he says all the time.
"Do too," Stiles replies instantly. Derek harrumphs.
"So, did you guys get married or something while we were away?" Isaac asks. Scott kicks him under the table.
"No," Derek scoffs like that's crazy talk. "Stiles thinks it's weird when people marry before they graduate."
"Super weird," Stiles agrees. "Like, you need your own identity, right?" Derek nods placidly. "And I don't want anyone thinking I'm doing him for the money. This is an equal partnership.
Derek hums flatly with a studiously blank expression—the nonverbal equivalent of ‘that's what you think.’ It earns him a glare.
“So, what are you doing?” Scott can’t help but ask.
“Filling in the squares,” Stiles answers, cutting his eyes mischievously at Derek. And Scott opens his mouth fully intending to ask what the hell that means—except that Derek is grinning down at his espresso, a slight blush across his cheeks and nose, and Scott’s never seen him look so happy.
So instead, he shuts his mouth, shrugs at Isaac, and they both calmly sip their tea when Stiles starts dropping little domestic kisses all down Derek’s neck.