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I've Got A Whole Bunch of Ways

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Stiles had forgotten his favorite hoodie at Derek’s house after a pack meeting and it was the one he wanted to wear at Lydia’s party that night. He wanted to look good, not because he was still in love with Lydia – was he ever really in love with her or was he pretending to be because it was the one constant in his life that made him quite normal? He had no idea and didn’t want to think too much about that – but because he was part of a pack of freaking models. Seriously, all the members, including Scott since the start of his furry epic adventure of epicness, looked like they belonged on the cover of GQ or Vogue, and how was that even fair? So Stiles had to at least try and look a bit less like a hobo when one of them was throwing a party opened to other people too.

He drove to the Alpha’s with his window rolled down, breathing in smells of flowers and fresh air, and whistling to the song he was half-listening to, thinking that he then should stop by the grocery shop to buy soya burgers for his dad. The sheriff probably would not eat them but at least Stiles would feel better.

Once there, he parked besides the Camaro and took time to observe the now renovated mansion. It was really impressive what a pack of young and strong werewolves could accomplish in a couple of months when they put their minds to it. The once burnt shell of a house was now a nice and elegant mansion, complete with a luscious garden and clean front yard. There were colorful flowers and plants everywhere – Allison and Lydia’s feminine touch to the exterior – and a porch swing gently moving in the wind. The door and the window frames were painted a nice emerald green color, and the windows all had curtains in order to hide what was going on inside. An inside that was also nice and cozy: comfortable large couches and chairs everywhere, modern all equipped kitchen and bathrooms, rooms for every and each member of the pack – and Stiles had been left speechless when he had first learnt he was an actual member of the pack, when did that happen and why had Stiles known nothing about it before the girls were talking about colors and materials for the bedrooms? – a basement made werewolf-proof in case of need, a home gym, and even an entertainment room complete with flat screen, video games, board games, and an honest-to-god jukebox.

Stiles decided to stop wasting time thinking of how cool the new house was and how homey it had become to each one of them, helping a great deal with pack bonding, and headed towards the front door. He noted that it was closed and wondered where Derek could be since his Camaro was parked in front. He got his keys out of his pocket – yeah, because being an official part of the pack apparently meant free access to the Alpha’s den or whatever, which was awesome and gave Stiles fuzzy feelings (friendship. family. acceptance. belonging) that he didn’t want to identify or talk about, never – and entered the house. He went to his room – his room – but didn’t find his hoodie. He then went to look into Scott’s room, even tried Danny’s and Jackson’s, but he couldn’t find it. After basically searching the entire mansion, he concluded he needed to find Derek and ask him. Since he wasn’t inside, Stiles thought he might be working out outside, doing pull-ups or push-ups or all those exhausting Stiles didn’t even want to consider outside of lacrosse practice.

He went to look in the garden and finally spotted Derek at the limit between the end of the garden and the beginning of the woods. He was lying in the grass – which was weird, because Derek was always looming, always somewhat threatening, and lying down wasn’t really scary or anything – with something covering his face. Approaching, Stiles discovered that what he had first thought was a cloth of some sort was in fact a book. Derek had apparently fallen asleep while reading a book. It probably shouldn’t be as mind-boggling as Stiles thought it was but… Derek. Reading. In the middle of his new pretty garden. With a butterfly – a pink butterfly, come on! – flying around his head. This was not your typical threatening/dangerous/dark/brooding/sour werewolf behavior. The whole picture made no sense; the Alpha was wearing one of his countless black shirts that let his biceps – which could easily be as large as Stiles’ head – visible, a pair of worn dark jeans and biker boots. His signature leather jacket was placed under his head, rolled up to be used as a pillow. He looked as dark as always but he was softly snoring and there was a feeling of peace and quiet in the air that even Stiles didn’t want to break by talking.

The teen tried to read the title of the book; it was Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire. ‘Oh My God’ thought Stiles, bewildered, ‘Derek is reading poetry. Derek is reading and he is reading poetry. Am I dreaming? Do I have a concussion? When the hell did I fall?’ Stiles knew the book; it was one of his mom’s favorite. She read it to him when he was a child and while most parents would not think it was a good read for a kid, his mom always liked to consider him as a mini adult and always wanted to share with him what she though was worthwhile. He liked the book, liked how that French dude could assemble words equally as beautiful and twisted. It was one of those reads that could haunt you. If you gave it time, it could crawl into your head and change the way you saw things. It actually fit Derek; it was a dark and mysterious read. But once again, Stiles didn’t peg his strong and scary Alpha as a reader. Stiles was a bit mad with himself for not thinking that a guy like Derek could not spend all of his time only working out and threatening to rip his throat out. Of course the guy would have other hobbies. It was surprising, and actually nice in some way, to know that Derek had reading as his secret hobby. It made him seem more human. And also even more complex.

And if Stiles was honest with himself, he also made him… Hot. Of course, Stiles had always known that Derek Hale was hot – everybody in town knew Derek Hale was hot as fuck; hell, even his own dad knew Derek was hot, hence the very awkward and embarrassing talk about why Stiles would want to spend so much time at the Hales’ house lately – but it was in a ‘yeah, Brad Pitt’s hot’ kind a way. Because Brad Pitt is smoking hot but he also lives on another planet, far far away from Stiles’, and the same went with Derek. He was hot, he had the body to turn straight guys gay, but he was also so out of Stiles’ league than the teen would have better odds going for Miss Beacon Hills, who, if you asked Stiles, was less hot than Derek but was more popular and had a lot more suitors. But finding that Derek liked to read? It made his mind reel with what ifs and maybes. Maybe Derek would like to share opinions about books with him? Maybe they could trade books, maybe they could read and research about werewolf lore together, and maybe they could be a super team of super readers… They could be the Batman and Robin of research! Because, in Stiles’ mind, a person who loves reading would probably love researching and learning things just as much.

Stiles was thinking a miles a minute when Derek chose to wake up. Pushing the book away from his face, he spotted Stiles and the epic frown was back on his face.

“What are you doing here, Stiles?” The werewolf asked, almost growling.

“Err, just, I was… Just… You know… Fleurs du Mal, really?” was all the teen could muster.

Derek, probably thinking Stiles was making fun of him, scowled and got up, moving dangerously into Stiles’ personal space.

“If you say anything to anybody, I swear Stiles, I’ll kill you and nobody, not even your sheriff of a dad, will ever be able to find your corpse. Is that clear?”

“Crystal clear, yep. Nothing clearer!” Stiles squeaked, gulping.

“Good, now get the fuck away. I’ll see you tonight at the party.”

Forgetting all about his hoodie, Stiles ran to his car and for once, obeyed his Alpha.

DSDSDSDSDS

After that, it was like every time Stiles went to see Derek or just went to the pack’s house – because it was now the new name of the mansion, and wasn’t that cool? – he always found the man reading. And it was distracting as hell. First, Stiles had been able to forget all about the incident, or at least most of it, and thought that all the added hotness was a pure product of his imagination. Then, catching Derek reading on a couch or a counter in the kitchen or the stairs or a fucking tree – the guy seemed to be able to read everywhere and sincerely, Stiles couldn’t blame him for it since he was himself a master at reading in all kinds of weird places – Stiles found himself being very uncomfortable in his own skin. He was terribly attracted to the man and it was all he could think about. Night and day. He was having weird dreams where he was meeting Derek at the local library, starting a nice and for once civil conversation about a book they both liked and then being dragged by Derek between two shelves to discover how flexible a werewolf could get. Stiles was sure he sent enough lust vibes lately on his own to concur with the whole lacrosse team of his high school.

He was positively obsessed with Derek. He couldn’t focus in class – which, admittedly, wasn’t new but got progressively worse, so much that his dad threatened to take away his jeep, his baby – he couldn’t look at girls with Jackson, he couldn’t even watch porn on his laptop anymore, which was a real drama for a teenager. It was probably very sad and pathetic that in all this time of knowing Derek, seeing the guy working out and training almost naked and all sweaty and growling didn’t do quite as much to his libido as seeing him reading a fucking book, sitting with his legs crossed on the carpet in the living room in front of the fireplace, a look of deep concentration on his gorgeous face.

People started to notice too. Lydia made fun of him for ‘drooling in front of the Alpha so much that the new carpets will probably need a thorough cleaning in a couple of days’, Jackson spent his time rolling his eyes at him when he wasn’t listening to him talking about the last lacrosse game, Danny and Allison were giving him looks of sympathy, and Scott wanted him to ‘either man up and go talk to him or just forget about it and start being normal, or as normal as he’d ever get, again’.

Once, when they all were in class listening to Professor Harris go on about chemical reactions, Stiles daydreaming again about Derek and a long night of research turning into a good and for once enjoyable working out session for Stiles, Scott started texting him.

(Scott) Pls tell me tht look on ur face means ur thinkin of eatin those lasagna Mom made 4 us yesterday

(Stiles) … No?

(Scott) Dude, im fuckin dyin here. Do sth!! I cant take all that pining away ur doin! About my werewolf mentor or whtv, BTW.

(Stiles) Well hes freakin hot wht can I say?? Also, bitch, pls, dnt talk 2 me bout pinin just bcz A is finally ur official gf, k?

(Scott) Sry, sry, ur right. But at least when she wasn’t talkin 2 me, I made plans, I tried stuff out. Srsly, do sth, im gonna gag wit all that lust cloudin out ur scent all d time now. Also I dnt like u bein mopey. So weird.

(Stiles) Aww, u worryin bout me? Cute. Also, yes thats all nice and dandy, but look at me. Then look at D. Look at me again. C wht I mean??

(Scott) U dnt know, he might be into nerds :p Isnt geek the new chic or sth?

(Stiles) Hav u been talkin wit A and L lately? Coz its freakin me out, jsuk.

(Scott) Whatever. Just admit u cant know if hes into u 2, if u dnt ask him.

(Stiles) Yeah yeah. What am I even supposed 2 do?

(Scott) Dude, seduce him wit cookies! U almost turned me gay wit scones. Don’t be surprised when they get u laid.

(Stiles) That’s… actually nt a bad idea. Thx :D

(Scott) Ur welcome. Now can we listen for a while? If I get detention again, Mom’s gonna blow a fuse!! :(

DSDSDSDSDS

And that’s how Stiles found himself baking trays after trays of homemade coconut and chocolate chip cookies after hearing from Allison that they were the ones Derek bought for himself the most. He perfected his recipe until he baked the perfect ones and brought them over to the pack’s house. He had to dodge Jackson and Danny who almost jumped on his delicious treats, sent a smile in thanks to Allison and Scott who didn’t even try even if they were sniffing the air like crazy, sent a prayer to whoever was listening for Lydia to be on a new diet again – and why was she even doing that to herself? She was a goddess and a werewolf, no way was she gaining any weight – and went to look for Derek.

He found him in the entertainment room, reading what seemed to be a Stephen King novel – could that guy get more perfect? – while sipping from a cup of black coffee.

“Hey Derek! What are you doing here alone? Not that you can’t be here, you know, in your own house, or not that you can’t be alone, you can totally be alone with yourself, ‘cause you’re a very interesting person to be alone with, not that I would… Anyway, can I offer you a cookie? I just baked them and I want to know if they’re good…”

“Cookies?” Derek seemed to be half interested in the offer, half distrustful of why nobody before him got to help Stiles to know whether they were good or not.

“Yep, coconut and chocolate chip cookies. Not sure if you even like coconut but…” Stiles shrugged and tried to look as innocent as possible.

“Yes. Okay. I’ll have one.”

Stiles gave one cookie to Derek and held his breath while waiting for the verdict. It’s when it happened. Derek took a bite out of the biscuit and his eyes almost rolled into his skull while he let out a sinful moan. Stiles stood still, shocked to hear Derek do something else than growling or snarling at him.

“I… You… Are they good?” He asked, suddenly quite shy.

“Stiles. They are so good. Thanks. Can I have another one?” Derek looked at him, hopeful. And Stiles never would have thought that Derek could manage the puppy dog look but apparently, he could, and Stiles was so totally screwed if the Alpha realized he possessed a new power working on the most recalcitrant member of his pack.

“Yeah, sure, you know what, I’ll leave you the plate, and the others upstairs didn’t seem interested…”

“Really? Well, their bad. Thanks Stiles.” Taking the plate from him, Derek gave him something that strongly resembled a smile. Stiles did a kind of shrug/nod of his head/vague grunt that all meant a chilled out ‘you’re welcome dude, that’s cool, see ya’ in his head but probably made him look like an idiot in real life. In his defense, Derek smiled at him, thanking him. So Stiles was sorry if his brain decided to go on strike without further notice but yeah, he had reasons.

DSDSDSDSDS

A couple of weeks and a succession of baked goods later, encouraged by his previous successes, Stiles brought Derek scones for breakfast. When he entered the house, he bypassed Scott, who got a comical look of betrayal on his face when he saw his favorite pastries in Stiles’ hands knowing they weren’t for him. Stiles winked at him and ninja-like tried to avoid anybody else who might try and steal some scones before Derek got first pick. He found the Alpha in the kitchen, bare-chested, wearing a pair of tracksuit pants hanging low on his hips, with his hair all sleep-tousled. He had his back turned on Stiles who had a perfect view of his tattoo and all the muscles of his back. Stiles felt a sudden surge of desire for this god of a man that he quickly tried to suppress by averting his eyes because werewolves? A little too good at smelling your feelings.

“Morning Derek! What are the plans for the pack today? Oh, by the way, do you want a scone? I made some for my dad this morning but I made too many and they won’t be as good tomorrow so…” That wasn’t even a lie; he had baked scones for his dad too, just to have that excuse to give Derek. The man just didn’t have to know that he first decided to bake for him.

“You baked again?” Derek’s eyes were alight with something close to a kid’s excitement on Christmas’ morning. Stiles felt pride and fondness swell in his chest at the sight.

“Well, yeah, want some?” He asked, nonchalant.

“Sure.”

Stiles first intended to give Derek one or two scones, and then call for the others so that they could get some too, but after watching him devouring the baked goods, he didn’t have the heart to, and just got one for himself, leaving a dozen of scones for the werewolf to eat all by himself. That got him a real smile, complete with shining eyes and some kind of rumbling sound that Stiles thought was hot and cute at the same time.

“Hey Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you bake following precise recipes? Or are you one of those baking geniuses?”

“I’d say I’m more of the latter. Why?” Stiles asked, raising an eyebrow in curiosity.

“Because when I was a kid, my mom used to bake those French pastries called macarons and they were delicious. She loved them and I did too and… I don’t know, I thought you might be able to make some? If you have time? I think they are not that easy to make but with your apparent mad baking skills, maybe if you found the recipe in a book or something? You know what? Forget it.” Derek started to frown again when he saw Stiles not reacting and just staring at him. Stiles was just awed. Firstly, Derek was talking to him, as in really talking to him, with actual words and no growling involved whatsoever. Secondly, he was volunteering information about his past, which never happened. Never. Thirdly, he was being nice and asking Stiles of all people to do something for him.

“What? No! Sure, I’ll make some dude. No problem. I’ll find the recipe on Internet and I’ll male some this weekend, yes? Do you have any preference?” He rushed to ask, not wanting Derek to ignore him again.

“I really loved the pistachio ones. Or whatever you can make.” He shrugged and went back to his scones.

“No problem. I’ll… Yeah. Pistachio’s good, I’ll do that.” Stiles tried a smile. When he received a genuine one in return, he almost fell of his kitchen stool. This day was turning awesome.

DSDSDSDSDS

The following weekend, Stiles baked macarons. And Derek was right; they were not easy to bake. But Stiles was Stiles, the equal of a Mozart in the baking world, so he tried and tried again until the things were perfect - or at least delicious, because how was he supposed to know if they were perfect when he never tasted one before in his life?

The macarons done, Stiles went to Derek’s with his heart hammering for no apparent reason. He went to look for the wolf, and actually found him in his bedroom. He knocked on the door, nervous, and said “Derek? It’s Stiles. Well, you probably already know it’s me, being a werewolf and all, but yeah. Can I enter? Or can you come out? Whichever? I made macarons. You know you asked for macarons and, well, I made some?”

The door opened to reveal Derek who apparently had just woken up from a nap. “You made some, really? I didn’t think you would.” And that? Was not fair. Stiles might be awkward, he might often sprout stupid things at the weirdest moments, he might not be able to shut his mouth for five minutes in a row, he might not be able to focus most of the time, but he never made promises that he didn’t intend to fulfill. He just didn’t. “Well, I did, so… Want to try them?”

“Yes, sure, come in.” The man let Stiles pass him to enter the room and closed the door. Stiles just stood in the middle of the bedroom, not knowing where to sit or where to look. The room was so… Derek. Kinda dark and mysterious at the first glance, but not lacking warmth. The sort of room you could just hide in on rainy days, cuddling under the comforter and whispering secrets at night.

Derek came close to him and gestured at him to sit down on the bed. He then went to sit beside Stiles. The teen thought this felt different, this felt better, weirdly intimate. Stiles kind of liked it, even if it made his heart pound like crazy.

He pushed the plate of pale green macarons at Derek, tentatively smiling. Derek took one and first smelled it like you would do with expensive wine and it made Stiles’ anxiety crank up a notch. Derek bit into it and it was like everything in the room froze for a second or two. When he swallowed and turned to Stiles, his face was troubled.

“Don’t you… Like them? Did I mess up? I’m sorry, I…”

“They’re perfect Stiles, perfect. They taste just as I remember. It’s just… It’s… They were my mom’s favorite, and they just bring me back to those Sundays we spent baking together when I was a child and Laura didn’t want her annoying little brother playing with her and her friends. We spent so many hours just the two of us, talking and baking, and then we would go cuddle on the couch and read her favorite stories while we waited for the pastries to be ready. I’m a bit annoyed by the fact that without her, I’m crap at baking. I miss the smells of baking things in the house, I miss waiting for the cookies to be done, and I miss sharing the satisfaction of something well done with somebody. I miss her too.” Derek said the last part in a whisper, not daring to look Stiles in the eyes. The teen was feeling so many emotions at that moment, he didn’t know which one to settle on so he just decided to do what he did best, he started talking.

“I miss my mom too. She’s the one who taught me how to bake. She always wore that cute apron when she baked, one with a huge pocket on the front that she always kept full of sweets, one which always smelled of warm cookies and cinnamon. I still have it. When I’m feeling down, I wear it and I don’t care if Scott makes fun of me for it because it’s pink and purple. When I bake wearing it, it’s like she’s with me, telling me not to forget the chocolate chips because who would want cookies without chocolate chips?” Stiles softly chuckled. “She used to sing in Polish, you know? I couldn’t understand a word because my parents always thought that, with my ADD, learning two languages at the same time could have proven to be disastrous. But I didn’t need to know the words; I always could sense if the song was a happy one or a sad one. She had such a nice voice too, my dad used to say that if angels really sang, they probably sounded like her. Like your mom, she loved to read too. She could spend hours buried in a book and she could read the dictionary with a smile on her face. She used to tell me that knowledge is power and the key to a better life. So yeah, every day, every hour, I miss my mom.”

“I think our moms could have been great friends” Derek said, looking at Stiles and wiping off a stray tear on the teen’s cheek.

“I’d like to think so.” He added, giving him a watery smile. And suddenly Derek’s lips were on his, tasting like pistachio and sugar and something unique that Stiles immediately fell in love with. It wasn’t a hungry kiss, wasn’t something reflecting the numerous weeks of want and need that had led to that moment. It was something soft, something warm, something full of affection that they both had craved without knowing it. It meant love and connection and peace, at last. It meant everything.

They kissed like that, slowly, gently, for what felt like hours, the time in the room frozen, no noise from the house full of teenagers filtering in. When they separated, their eyes were shining and their breaths short.

“I… Wow.” Stiles said, speechless for once.

“Well, yeah. Hum, macarons?” Derek said, looking unusually unsure, holding the plate.

“Yeah, okay.”

DSDSDSDSDS

Some weeks later, Stiles was making macarons again. But he wasn’t in his dad’s kitchen; he was in Derek’s. He wasn’t wearing his mom’s old apron; he was wearing Derek’s black t-shirt. He wasn’t alone; Derek’s was at the other side of the kitchen island. The werewolf was quietly watching him, his stare a solid presence on the teen’s neck, their favorite book of poems placed in front of him. Things were good, not perfect, never perfect, but good. The house was superb, the pack was slowly growing, their friends were happy, and they were in love with each other. They still missed the person they had loved the most in their life but they had found somebody who would become just as precious, and even more. They sometimes made mistakes, Derek was still a sour wolf, Stiles was still a teenager full of too much energy. But they were learning, they were trying. They had the time, they had the patience, they had the will to succeed. Because that’s what mates are for, right?