“I want to get married,” Stiles says, petulantly.
Derek’s heart races at first, speeds with the excitement and exhilaration of the idea of it, before he realizes Stiles is holding Isaac’s wedding invitation, heavy card stock with the pretentious french parfum wafting through the air.
“You just want presents,” he says, holding the door open and stepping back, so that Stiles can come in.
“No,” Stiles says. “I mean, yes, obviously I would have the world’s coolest registry and wouldn't waste my time with crystal stemware, but that’s not my point.” He throws himself backwards onto Derek’s couch in a huff.
“You want to get married,” Derek repeats dryly.
“Exactly, my friend,” Stiles says, pointing at him. “Exactly.”
Stiles takes over the pack meeting with his crisis, once everyone gets there. It’s not as big a deal as it sounds; Beacon Hills hasn't had a villain and/or horrible death monster in many years, so the meetings do tend to be a weird mix of a family reunion and group therapy.
“I’m not going to Isaac’s fancy Parisian wedding single. We have six weeks to make this happen,” Stiles says, pacing the floor. “Failure will not be tolerated.”
“Stiles, you can’t force—” Scott starts, gently.
“Nope,” Stiles says, pointing a finger at him. “I have tried your way, and you know where that got me?”
“Well, I know what it got me,” Derek says. “Stuck here for this conversation.” Stiles flips him off and he smirks back.
“Your problem is that you make everything so complicated,” Erica says. “Just make a profile online, go out with a few creeps, meet someone less creepy, date them.”
“I have a profile,” Stiles says.
“You have Tinder,” Erica says, rolling her eyes. “And you swipe left on everyone, ever.”
Stiles scowls. “It’s not my fault everyone in this stupid town sucks.” He crosses his arms belligerently. “Here’s the deal. Everyone in this room is going to set me up with someone.”
“Absolutely not,” Lydia says. “I refuse to inflict you on any of my friends.”
“Yes you will,” Stiles says, firmly. “You’re each going to set me up, and you’re going to set me up with someone awesome or I swear to God, I will start dating Greenburg.”
Derek has never met Greenburg, nor has ever fully been able to grasp what it is about him that is so awful, but the threat makes everyone gasp, makes even Boyd quirk an eyebrow.
He raises his hand. “Am I exempt?” He usually is, when it comes to dating, dating advice, sex, true love, relationships, or feelings.
“Normally you would be,” Stiles tells him, “but we’ll see how the next six weeks go.”
Stiles’s first date is with one of Scott’s coworkers at the elementary school. He teaches kindergarten, and Scott seems weirdly obsessed with the quality of tupperware in which the guy brings his lunch.
“No, I’m with him on this,” Lydia says. “Committing to good dishes is an attractive quality. We’re grown adults, we've moved past men who eat out of old butter containers.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that.” Stiles says, scowling.
“That’s why you’re single.”
“I’m trying to read,” Derek says. “Don’t you people have homes of your own?” He’s trying desperately not to look at Stiles, at the way the tight dress shirt is pulling on his shoulders, his fingers as he tries to fasten his shirt cuffs.
“None as welcoming and hospitable as yours,” Stiles says. “Are these things rigged?”
“Jesus,” Derek sighs, puts down his book and strides over to where Stiles is struggling. He takes one wrist in his hand and gently turns it over, straightening Stiles’s arm. He takes the cuff links from Stiles’s other hand, and fastens them. When he’s done, he drops Stiles’s wrist and reaches for the other. “Stop freaking out,” he tells Stiles, uncharacteristically quiet and still under Derek’s hands. “It’s just a date. You've been on a million of them just like this. He’ll either like you or he won’t, and if he doesn’t, the world’s not going to end.”
Stiles huffs, but he stays pliant until Derek’s done, and Derek takes the opportunity to run a hand over the lines of Stiles’s shoulders, smoothing out the wrinkles and creases in his shirt.
“I think he’s here,” Lydia says, breaking the spell. Stiles’s eyes go wide for a moment, so Derek holds him still, makes eye contact until Stiles visibly forces himself to relax.
“Okay,” Stiles says. “Okay.” He nods once at Derek, high fives Scott and hugs Lydia before bounding down the stairs to the waiting car.
“Isn't his date gonna find it weird that he’s picking Stiles up from an apartment not his own?” Derek asks, watching the taillights.
Scott shrugs “Stiles is Stiles,” he says, enigmatically.
Stiles goes out with Nick twice more. “He’s really nice,” Stiles says, slumped into Derek’s couch cushions, rubbing his face against the throw pillow. Derek watches, trying not to think about what it’ll smell like later.
“You say it like it’s a disease,” he says instead. “Nice is good.”
“Maybe,” Stiles says, but he doesn't sound convinced.
Derek isn't surprised when Stiles demands to move on.
“This is my cousin,” Boyd says, extending a piece of paper to Stiles. It’s got a phone number written on it in Boyd’s careful, neat script. “If you hurt or mistreat her in any way, there will not be anything anyone can do to bring you back.”
“Got it,” Stiles says. “Honestly Boyd, I’m honored you’re allowing me to go out with one of your family members.”
Boyd shrugs. “Pack is family too.”
Stiles looks at him, a genuine smile blooming over his face. “Thanks,” he says, and clutches the paper tighter.
Two days later, Stiles bangs into the apartment viciously. “Did you meet this girl in a Subway and pay her to pose as your cousin?” He screeches, outraged.
“Yes I did,” Boyd says, and shoots a blue shell at Derek, who groans and falls off a giant mushroom.
“Jokes on you,” Stiles says, “because I love her and I think she’s the one.”
“You’re welcome then,” Boyd says. “I expect to be thanked at the wedding.”
Stiles throws up his hands and leaves, slamming the door behind him.
He dates Monica for three weeks before she dumps him to get back together with her ex. Stiles mopes for three days, unshaven and gross smelling before Scott and Derek lets themselves into Stiles’s apartment and forcibly shove him under the cold shower spray.
“Fine,” Stiles says, looking like a drowned kitten mutinously angry at the floor of the stall. “But I’m never eating Subway again.”
Lydia flat out refuses to set him up. She does, however, show him an online dating profile she set up for him, a real one, with a good headshot of Stiles smiling genuinely and unselfconsciously into the camera.
“You did this for me?” Stiles says, scanning it. “This is amazing, Lydia. Christ, even the About Me stuff is good.”
“Derek helped,” Lydia says, and Derek wants to protest, because he hadn't exactly known what Lydia was up to when she was asking all of those questions about what Stiles liked. He doesn't say anything though, because he thinks maybe admitting that would make him weirder than letting Stiles think he was just helpful.
The whole subject is derailed, however, when Lydia refuses to give him the username and password to the account.
“It’s my profile!” Stiles says, shrilly.
“You can’t be trusted,” Lydia says. “Tell me who you want to message, and if I agree, we’ll message them together.”
Stiles turns to Scott for help, but Scott just lifts a shoulder at him. “You’re the one who wanted to date by committee.”
“Yeah, but I still thought I’d get to be doing the dating.”
Derek comes home to find Stiles on his couch, asleep with a book on operas resting on his face. Derek lifts it, marks Stiles’s place and touches Stiles’s shoulder, waking him gently.
“Opera?” he says, when Stiles blinks at him blearily.
“Lydia says I should cultivate better interests,” he says, yawning. “Can I sleep over?”
“Yeah,” Derek says, and carries him to bed.
Derek makes them pancakes when they wake up, and Stiles hops up on the counter to watch, swinging his legs back and forth.
Derek can’t help but poke at it. “Why are you in such a rush for this?” he says.
Stiles shrugs. “I’m tired of being alone,” he says.
“But why now? Why the hurry? Because it’s Isaac?”
“Not like—it’s not a competition thing. It’s just,” and Stiles waves his hand around. “the pack.”
Derek knows what he means. He doesn't know if it’s a wolf thing or just fate, but their pack is full of high school romances that have flourished, endured. Even Lydia and Jackson have remained in each other’s orbits, circling and reconnecting as often as they break up.
“I’m not with someone,” he feels compelled to point out.
“Yeah but you could be,” Stiles scoffs. “You don’t date because you choose not to, not because you can’t have someone.”
You’d be surprised, Derek thinks, and lets it go. “Don’t try to fake anything for anyone,” he tells Stiles. “I mean, learn opera if you want, but whatever. Don’t fake it.”
Stiles steals a pancake right out of the pan. Derek laughs at him when he burns his finger.
Malia’s plan is simple. She takes them to a club, makes Stiles do a shot and points out four or five people who smell interested around Stiles. “Pick one, go home with them, and then buy them breakfast in the morning,” she says. “End of story.”
“That feels so cheap,” Stiles says. “I want to be appreciated for more than my body.”
“You mean despite your body,” Derek says and Stiles punches him in the shoulder, scowling.
He does however, head off towards one of the people Malia had indicated. Derek watches, as Stiles leans in, smiling, gesturing towards the empty stool. The guy waves him in, and Stiles’s smile grows into a grin, pleased and interested, and Derek abruptly doesn't feel like watching.
“I think I’m going to head home,” he says, downing his beer in a gulp.
“You could do something about this,” Scott says. “Really at any time. Sooner is probably better than later.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Derek says.
Three heads turn, almost in unison, to level him with the exact same look.
“We spend too much time together,” Derek says, standing up and slinging his jacket over his shoulders. “I’m moving to Alaska.”
“Remember that time a few years ago,” Lydia says, tapping her chin, “when Derek tried to take some time off from the pack so he could find himself?”
“No,” Malia says. “But I do remember that year he grew a weird gross beard and lived in a tent until Stiles held that intervention.”
“Which brings me back to my point,” Scott says. “You could do something about this.”
“I think Cora’s calling,” Derek says, waving his silent phone. He leaves to a chorus of scoffing and insults, all of which he deserves. He is well-aware.
The thing is, he doesn't really want Stiles to have a date to Isaac’s wedding. He’s been dragged to weddings before, and the only thing that makes it even halfway tolerable is when he’s seated with Stiles, and gets to listen to Stiles shittalk everyone’s ugly hats while he tries not to snicker, gets to blow wadded up straw wrappers at Stiles while Stiles fails to shoot them back, when Stiles inevitably trips over someone’s discarded heels and goes flying into someone’s grandmother.
He doesn't want Stiles to bring a date, because he doesn't want Stiles’s attention to be split. He wants all of it for himself.
He could do something about that.
He groans. Goddamn Scott.
Stiles skids into his apartment ten minutes early, wearing a freshly pressed button down, open just a little at his collar. “Where’s the dream date you promised,” he asks, looking around.
“I didn't promise you a dream date,” Derek says. “I promise you a date. Let’s manage expectations right off the bat.”
“Oh God,” Stiles says. “It’s your exterminator, isn't it? You set me up with that creepy roach guy from last year.”
“No,” Derek says. “Although that’s definitely still an option. I have his card somewhere—”
“I’m good,” Stiles says quickly. “So where is he? Or she. I didn't even ask, what’s wrong with me?”
Derek looks at him, and wants to jump off a bridge. This is such a bad idea. “Me,” he says. “It’s me.”
Stiles laughs. “You’re such an asshole,” he says, snorting. “C’mon, who is it? Or did you chicken out?”
“Don’t be a shithead,” Derek says. “I know you heard me.”
“You’re my date,” Stiles says, folding his arms over his chest. “You want to date me.”
“When I imagined this conversation, you sounded happier about that,” Derek muses.
“Did you also imagine me with model good looks and great tits?”
“Is that your problem?” Derek says, perplexed. “You don’t believe I’m into guys?”
“No, I—” and Stiles stops, scrubbing his face. “I don’t believe you’re into me.”
“Well, I don’t know what to tell you,” Derek says. “I want to take you on a date, right now. And I want to be your date to Isaac’s wedding, and I want to make fun of people in hats, and I want to possibly dance to some dumb song with you. And at some point, if you could sound in any way happy about any of that, I would want that.”
“You’re serious,” Stiles says, slowly. Derek gives him a look, and he laughs. “You’re serious, you want to date me.”
“Now he gets on board,” Derek says, and looks at the ceiling for help.
Stiles laughs again, and the hard, skeptical look is melting off his face, replaced by something brighter, delighted, hopeful. “You want to date me, and we’re gonna do it all over every surface in this apartment.”
“Not the kitchen,” Derek says. “I cook in there. And definitely not until we go on our date; what, you want people to think I’m fast?”
“Fast?” Stiles snickers. “No one’s impugning your reputation, Aunt Edna. All the—” and then Derek kisses the sass right out of him. Stiles is warm in his arms, and it’s better than he imagined, more right, and he kisses Stiles until he’s a little lightheaded and has to stagger back to catch some air.
He doesn't manage to take Stiles out that night, doesn't manage it until five days later. Getting Stiles out of his bed turns out to be much harder than getting him into it. Derek doesn't mind, really.
He does kind of mind that their first date involves taking a plane to Paris, involves dressing up as a groomsman and walking with the bride’s cousin down the aisle. Stiles makes faces at him from the third row, and after, when he finds Stiles at the reception, Stiles’s first comment is “Two o’clock, check out the peacock feather.”
Later, when everyone’s had a few drinks, and Isaac’s gone off with his beautiful bride, a old song comes wafting over the speakers.
“I’m interviewing people to dance with,” Stiles says, grinning at him. “I’m thinking of asking everyone for a recommendation.”
Derek blows a straw wrapper at him.