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a mountain to climb

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Derek’s been home from college for almost two months when he meets Stiles Stilinski. It’s the last week of July, the weather hot as summer begins to peak. He’s not usually one for middle-of-the-woods drunken carousing—that’s more Cora’s shtick—but Laura’s back from a month in Kansas and as Laura says, slinging an arm around his shoulders, it’s a nice night, perfect for a bonfire.

Derek’s not sure her idea of a bonfire involved so many people—there are Laura’s friends, Cora’s friends, his old high school friends, people he’s never seen—but they’re all pretty low-key, and they bring their own booze, so he doesn’t care. It’s Laura’s party anyway; he’ll put all the blame on her if things go south. It’s only fair, he reasons to himself as he makes a Jack and Coke with much more Jack than Coke, after all the times she got him in trouble in high school for things he didn’t do.

Derek stands mostly around the edge of things, watching. Cora skips up to him and calls him a creeper; he tries to take away her beer and she socks him in the arm, hard. It hurts; Derek flashes his fangs at her and grabs at her again, but she ducks away through the crowd, laughing. Derek’s just about to chase after her when he gets a hint of a scent that makes his head snap around to find the source.

Nostrils flared, he spots it; there’s a lithe boy working his way through the crowd toward the fire, a flush high on his cheeks and two bottles of beer held loosely in his long fingers. Derek’s not the only one who’s noticed him; he spots other people turning to watch the boy, who doesn’t seem to notice the stares of those around him at all. Derek watches him reach another boy, dark-haired and shorter, and pass him a beer. They’re both vaguely familiar, but they’re closer to Cora’s age than his; he doesn’t know who they are.

Derek shrugs it off, even though the scent of the kid got his heart pumping, and gets caught up in a conversation with a couple old friends from the high school basketball team. He keeps catching himself looking around, eyes seeking the boy who’d smelled so good. Derek catches glimpses of him through the crowd—over by the fire, and then across the clearing talking to Cora’s best friend, Lydia Martin. He makes eye contact with the kid once by accident, when the kid’s over grabbing a drink out of the coolers. Derek jerks his head away, but the next time he turns around, the boy’s standing behind him, head tilted to one side curiously. Derek gets a lungful of the boy’s scent, hot and alluring. It sends heat prickling down his spine. 

“Hi,” he says.

“Hi,” Derek replies uncertainly.

“You were watching me,” the boy says, one side of his mouth lifting in an impish grin. There are two moles right by his mouth that move with his smile and Derek wants to taste them, wants to lick at that blush on his cheeks until it covers his whole body.

“I—was not,” Derek argues, his cheeks going hot.

The boy just grins wider, taking a casual sip of beer. Derek swallows, watching the rise and fall of the boy’s adam’s apple.

“You’re Derek,” he says, “Cora’s brother. I’m Stiles,” he adds. The name sounds familiar—maybe Cora’s mentioned him.

“Hi,” Derek repeats quietly, watching Stiles drain the last of his beer. He’s not in heat, but he feels like he’s on fire, Stiles’ scent making his body burn with want. He's not sure why this seems so daunting tonight; he's hooked up plenty of times at school. This isn't new, but there's something almost intimidating about the way Stiles stands before him, body screaming casual though his heart beats fast. "What are you drinking?" Derek tries, attempting a smile. "Can I get you a refill?"

Stiles' eyes flicker down his body. "Nah," he says, and raises his eyebrows significantly at Derek.

"Oh," Derek says, deflating a little. He's never been flat-out rejected like that.

"I mean," Stiles adds. "It's not a drink I want."

"Oh," Derek says, getting it now. He gives Stiles an appraising look, dick twitching in his jeans when Stiles drops his empty beer bottle to the grass and spreads his arms, a sarcastic twist to his lips—he’s enjoying himself. Stiles may be lean, slim in the hips, but his shoulders are broad, and Derek can tell he’s got strength to him. “Yeah,” he breathes, and reaches out, grabbing Stiles by the wrist and towing him through the crowd. Stiles laughs a little breathlessly, trotting to keep up as Derek leads him out of the clearing and through the trees. He’s not sure where he’s going—back to the house, maybe, where they won’t be interrupted—but Stiles pulls back as they reach the edge of the light from the bonfire, the night tinted orange.

Derek turns, wondering if Stiles has changed his mind, but Stiles just leans back against a tree and tugs Derek in for a wet kiss, his lips already slick and warm like he’s been biting at them. Derek can’t help but groan into his mouth; Stiles tastes even better than he smells, his mouth wet and welcoming against Derek’s. This close, he can smell that Stiles is an omega—no wonder he smells so good—and even though he’s weeks off from his heat, the smell of Stiles sets his body on fire. The full moon was just a day ago and he still feels the pull of its power keenly. That, combined with the siren song of Stiles’ scent, makes him fight the frantic urge to shift and claim.

He manages to ask, as they pull apart, chests heaving, “Are you in heat?”

“Couple days past,” Stiles says, shaking his head. His dark eyes glitter in the darkness, reflecting the faroff firelight. He’s got his hands fisted in the back of Derek’s shirt and tugs him in closer so he can drag his nose against Derek’s jawline. Whatever he smells seems to please him; he hums, hands tightening in Derek’s shirt. “Alpha, huh?”

Derek’s skin breaks out into goosebumps at the feeling of Stiles’ hot breath ghosting against his skin, barely managing a strangled, “Yeah.”

Stiles slumps back against the tree, watching him with sharp eyes, lips parted and flushed from kissing. Derek can smell the heat rising to the surface of his skin; it’s making his entire body pulse with want.

“What are you waiting for?” Stiles asks.

That’s all Derek needs; he surges forward, meeting Stiles in a hungry kiss, digging his fingers into Stiles’ hips. Stiles opens his mouth to Derek eagerly, making a low, satisfied noise that sends Derek’s heart racing even faster. He makes the noise again when Derek tilts his head and digs his teeth into the soft skin under his jaw, just below his ear.

“Fuck,” Stiles breathes, hands flying up to grip at Derek’s shoulders. “Fuck, just let me—” He hooks a thigh over Derek’s, grinding up against him impatiently.

Derek groans into Stiles’ throat; he’s been hard for what feels like hours now, and Stiles’ move rubs up against him in not quite the right way. He gets a hand under Stiles’ thigh and yanks him up further, aligning him so they can rut against each other, Stiles panting in his ear as Derek sucks a bruise into the hollow above his collarbone. Stiles is starting to sweat, his scent going enticingly spicy. If they had the time, Derek would hold him down and shove his face into his armpits, would scent him all over—but as it is, he’s growing impatient, eager to get off.

Stiles is becoming restless, grinding hard against Derek, his long fingers digging into Derek’s shoulder blades. Derek, still holding Stiles’ thigh up in one hand, moves the other behind him, finding the waist of Stiles’ jeans and slipping into his underwear. Stiles makes another low noise when Derek squeezes his ass, digging his teeth into Derek’s shoulder to keep from making too much noise. Derek has to muffle his own groan when he presses a finger against Stiles’s hole and Stiles gives easily against him, his skin slick and burning hot.

“Fuck,” Derek mutters. “You’re still—“

“Yeah,” Stiles pants. “It—takes a few days to go away—“ He breaks off with a sharp noise, back arching as Derek presses a finger inside him. Derek’s lips part at the easy way he’s let in, fangs itching against his gums. Stiles’ scent only grows more delicious, tinged with the lingering smell of his heat and the slickness gathering between his legs. Derek pulls his finger out and presses back in with two with no difficulty at all, exhaling harshly when Stiles makes another low noise, pressing his forehead against Derek’s neck, his hips hitching upward. “Please,” Stiles groans. “Are you gonna—”

Derek pulls his hand out of Stiles’ pants. “Turn around,” he says quietly, and Stiles scrambles to obey, yanking down his pants and underwear. Derek begins to unbutton his own pants but freezes, mouth watering as he watches a drop of wetness roll slowly down Stiles’ thigh. He wants—Derek’s eyes flicker in the direction of the clearing, where the bonfire roars and the party’s as loud as ever. There’s time, he thinks, to indulge a little, so he says, “Spread your legs,” and sinks to his knees.

Stiles glances over his shoulder at Derek, eyes widening when he sees Derek kneeling behind him, and hurries to obey, though he can only go so far with his pants around his knees. Derek doesn’t mind; he bites at one of the soft swells of Stiles’ asscheeks, eliciting a sharp gasp from him, before spreading him open and pressing his mouth to the wet ring of heat between his legs. Derek’s eyes nearly roll up inside his head at the taste of Stiles; he loves eating people out, and it’s rare he gets to go down on an omega so close to their heat. He licks and sucks at Stiles until there’s spit and slick dripping off his chin, Stiles growing wetter by the second, and his thighs are shaking from trying to keep himself upright.

“Derek, please,” Stiles begs, reaching behind him to fist his hand in Derek’s hair. He doesn’t seem sure whether to push him away or pull him in closer. “Fuck me, c’mon, please!”

Derek caves reluctantly, rubbing his hand over the bulge in his pants. When he stands he reels slightly, feeling drunker than before—drunk on Stiles and his intoxicating taste. It takes him two fumbling tries to get the button on his pants open and then he shoves his pants down to his thighs, freeing his dick. Stiles moans lowly at the sight of him and turns to the tree, pressing his forehead against the bark. Derek breathes in deep and puts one hand on Stiles’ hip, using the other to slowly guide himself inside. He tosses back his head at the feeling of Stiles, so tight and warm around him, and inhales through his nose, his heart beating frantically in his ears.

“Oh, fuck,” Stiles is groaning, biting down on his lip. “Fuck, fuck—”

Derek makes himself stop once he’s pushed in all the way, makes himself breathe in and out for a long moment, makes his claws retract into blunt human fingernails. Stiles’ breath hitches; he sounds angry when he says, “Are you going to fuck me or what?” Derek snarls low in his throat and Stiles smirks. “Come on, alpha,” he teases. “Show me what you can do.”

“Fine,” Derek growls, and fucks into him hard, driving Stiles up onto his toes. Derek hauls him back, hands on his hips, and thrusts into him over and over, hard and relentless. His blood is on fire, body strung tight as a wire, heart pounding with the overwhelming combination of the night air and the close proximity of other people and everything about Stiles. He’s not going to last long, too keyed up from eating Stiles out, the taste of him still strong on his tongue. Stiles isn’t either; he’s got a hand on his dick, jerking himself off frantically, and Derek leans into him so he can help, setting his teeth to Stiles’ shoulder as he wraps a hand around Stiles’ dick. Stiles whines when he comes, his whole body shaking.

Derek breathes frantically through his nose, inhaling the scent of Stiles’ release, his sweat, his slick, flexing his hips as he seeks his own orgasm. It hits like a freight train and he bites down without meaning to; Stiles yelps in pain.

“Sorry,” Derek mumbles, groaning through his teeth as he spills inside Stiles. It's a long moment before he can get his thoughts coherent enough to open his jaw and let go of Stiles, pulling out of him in an uncomfortably wet slide. No condom, he thinks ruefully, though it's too late now. His mom would have smacked him upside the head if she knew he'd been so stupid.

Stiles presses his forehead to the tree bark for a long moment before he pulls at his pants, hitching them back up his narrow waist. Derek watches Stiles' pale ass disappear behind his jeans, sad to see it go; it's a nice ass, as asses go. Stiles turns around, tugging at his shirt collar in an attempt to see where Derek bit him. "Am I bleeding?"

Derek leans in to see. "No," he says, though there's going to be an impressive bruise there later. Mom wouldn't have approved of that, either. "Sorry."

"'S all right," Stiles says, shrugging nonchalantly. He gives Derek another crooked grin. "That was fun."

Derek returns Stiles' grin with a faint smile of his own. "Yeah."

Stiles jerks his head toward the clearing. "I'm gonna head back. You?"

"I'll be along," Derek says, and Stiles nods, a quick dip of his head, and saunters back toward the clearing. Derek doesn't miss the way Stiles winces a little as he walks, and smiles to himself, deeply satisfied.

He doesn't end up going back to the party, but turns and heads for the house, walking the casual pace of the well-fucked and extremely content.

-

Cora scowls at him when she comes into the kitchen the next morning to find he's made breakfast—blueberry pancakes and bacon. "Why did you make breakfast?" she asks suspiciously. "Why do you look so happy?"

"That," says Laura, who is halfway through her own stack of pancakes, "is a Derek you might not be familiar with, and by that I mean that the Derek who stands before you has gotten laid, and if you play your cards right, there might be pancakes for breakfast all week if you don't ruin it."

Derek can't even find it in himself to be annoyed; he just smirks lazily and flicks a blueberry at Laura. Cora scowls deeper, even as she piles a plate with food. "Gross," she says, heaving herself down at the table. "Who was it?"

"I'd like to know that too," Laura says, giving Derek her best I'm the alpha look.

"I don't kiss and tell," Derek says, with great dignity.

Cora gives him an even more suspicious look. "Was it one of my friends? I'll kill you if you fucked Lydia."

"It wasn't Lydia," he says truthfully. He's not even sure Cora and Stiles know each other—Cora would have mentioned him before if they were friends.

"It probably was," Laura tells Cora cheerfully, her mouth full of pancakes. "He worked his way through all my friends; now it's your turn."

No one gets any more breakfast after that; Laura hits the ground with a very un-alpha-like squawk after Derek tackles her across the table. Cora joins in happily; she's on the wrestling team at school and has a mean chokehold. The whole tray of blueberry pancakes gets upended in the chaos, but they're all laughing too hard to notice.

-

Derek doesn't see Stiles for nearly a week and a half. Now that Laura's home, she becomes aggressive about building the pack bond and forces her siblings on a two-week camping trip to the lower Cascades. It's mostly wet and miserable. Cora tries to get Laura to give up on the trip by putting half a dozen bullfrogs in her sleeping bag and Laura retaliates by shifting into a wolf and rolling all over Cora's clothes, getting long wolf hairs everywhere. Derek mostly ignores both of them and spends three days building a neat lean-to from branches, which Cora, being pursued by a full shift Laura after stealing all her underwear and dumping it into the creek, promptly crashes into the moment Derek steps back to admire his work. Laura finally sends them home after Derek threatens to tie Cora to a tree and let bears eat her.

Once back in Beacon Hills, Laura spends the rest of the summer trying to convince some local omega to join the pack. Cora knows him, and Laura keeps trying to drag Derek to meetings with the boy—"You're the cool factor, Der; you've got a leather jacket!"—and Derek protests that it's only pleather and always manages to slip out of her reach.

He sees Stiles for the first time since the party during the town’s annual arts festival; Laura's dragged them into town for yet another bonding experience, and this time it's watching the fireworks. The whole main street gets blocked off at both ends and turns into a carnival of fast food and tents full of paintings of wildflowers and the ocean. Derek doesn't like it; he's not fond of crowds, nor the smell of hot frying oil, and something like a frisson of relief zips up his spine when he sees Stiles sitting on one of the police barriers at the end of the block, looking bored and surly in ragged jeans and beat-up sneakers. When Derek makes deliberate eye contact with him, though, a bright smile floods his face and he jerks his head to one side in the time-honored gesture for you wanna get out of here?

Derek does, very much.

They fuck in the back of Stiles' car, an ancient sky-blue Jeep, parked on a disused forest road at the edge of town, the bright lights of the fireworks coloring Stiles' pale skin blue and red and green. The bruise on his shoulder is gone but Derek leaves another there, more careful this time, and afterward they go through the McDonald's drive-thru and order twenty dollars worth of Dollar Menu items, which they split between them.

"You want a ride back to your house?" Stiles asks after they've both eaten their fill. Derek shakes his head; he doesn't want Laura or Cora to see and start asking questions. Derek likes his privacy, and he knows that if they find out about Stiles, there will be no end to the inane questions. "Okay," Stiles says easily, and drives them back to Main Street instead, where most of the crowds have dispersed. "See you around," he says as Derek gets out of the Jeep, and Derek tosses him a wave over his shoulder.

Three days later, Derek's sprawled out on the couch, half asleep as he watches Back to the Future with Cora, when his phone buzzes. He plucks it off the coffee table and frowns at the screen and the name displayed there—Stiles. Just when did he get Stiles' number? And why is Stiles texting him?

My dad's working tonight, the message says when Derek opens it. You want to come over?

It's followed a moment later with another message: yes, I stole your phone while you were stuffing your face with apple pie at mcdonalds. Sue me. Or fuck me. Your choice.

Derek swallows. He's always up for a fuck, and it's not like being around Stiles is any hardship. Now? He texts back.

Now, Stiles confirms. Derek swings himself upright, jerking his legs out from underneath Cora, who squawks indignantly.

"Where are you going?"

"Out," Derek says smugly.

"Oh my god," Cora says, staring up at him indignantly. "You just got booty-called, didn't you?"

Derek smirks down at her. "So what if I did?"

Cora makes an attempt to snatch his phone out of his hand, but Derek just holds it above his head and shoves her back onto the couch. "Laura!" Cora bellows. There's a startled crash from the basement, where Laura's doing laundry. "Derek's about to go hook up with his mystery date!"

"It's not a date," Derek says irritably. "We're just going to fuck. He—"

"He?" Laura yells excitedly, from the basement stairs. Derek curses and escapes out the front door before he lets anything else slip.

Stiles texts Derek his address, but Derek, mindful of being caught, parks several blocks over and walks until he reaches the house with Stiles' Jeep parked in the driveway. The porch light isn't on, but there's a light on in the bedroom above, and the window's open, so Derek decides to head in that way. It's an easy jump to the porch roof; he lands lightly and crouches down in front of the window. Stiles is sitting at a desk just past the window, a look of concentration on his face as he stares at his computer.

Before saying anything, Derek takes the opportunity to look around; there are band posters covering the walls, and a narrow twin bed sits against the far wall, clothes strewn across the floor. It smells like sweat and spunk and the inherent smell of Stiles, and Derek breathes in deeply before he leans forward and says, "Hey."

Derek wishes he had a camera ready to record Stiles' reaction; Stiles falls sideways out of his desk chair and it falls on top of him, wheels spinning madly. "You," Stiles wheezes, shoving the chair off himself. "You fucking jerk. What's wrong with using the front door?"

"This seemed more direct," Derek tells him, pulling himself into the room.

"Jesus," Stiles mutters, looking anxiously out the window. "I hope none of the neighbors saw you."

"Why’s that?" Derek asks, a teasing note in his voice. "Am I your dirty little secret?"

Stiles' cheeks go pink. "No, uh—"

"I don't care if I am," Derek interrupts. His voice drops lower when he says, "Come here."

Stiles' bed is old and creaks with every movement, but that doesn't make anything they do less fun. Derek can tell by the way Stiles moves, and the inexpert blowjob he gives Derek, that he doesn't have a lot of sexual experience, but that's fine—Derek was that guy too, once. He cradles Stiles' head in his hands and tells him what he likes, and Stiles is doing better by the time Derek comes down his throat. Derek's more than happy to return the favor.

It becomes a thing they do; Stiles texts Derek when his dad's not home, and Derek's sisters grow accustomed to him leaving abruptly, usually in the late evening. They try without success to guess who Derek's hooking up with, but they don't try too hard; if they really meant business, they'd just follow Derek to Stiles' house, but they're not that disrespectful of his boundaries.

"You could have him over for dinner, you know," Laura tells him, serious for once.

"No," Derek says bluntly. "We're not dating, Laura. You're not going to meet him."

He and Stiles don't go on dates; they sneak hookups at Stiles' place, and in the back of Stiles' Jeep, and, once, in the dusty stacks in the library basement, and Derek's fine with that. It's not that he and Stiles don't get along—they do, surprisingly well—but he's going to be heading back to college at the end of the summer and there's no point in getting wrapped up in anything serious. If they don't always end the night in sex and just watch a movie or something, well, that's fine, too.

Derek doesn't spend the night; Stiles is very firm about Derek leaving before his dad gets home. Derek gets the feeling that Stiles is keeping him just as secret as Derek's keeping him, which is fine; Derek's also getting the feeling that Stiles is younger than he first suspected and though he's not quite willing to ask just how old, he's also fine with staying out of trouble. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. He likes fucking Stiles, and getting fucked by Stiles, and going down on Stiles, and any other act they can think of (and for all of Stiles' practical sexual inexperience, he has a lot of ideas).

Still, Derek manages to fall asleep on top of Stiles one night. He's close to his heat and they got a little rowdier than usual; he got Stiles to come three times before Stiles tapped out, groaning about dehydration. Derek really didn't mean to fall asleep there, but it was fucking comfortable and Stiles always smells so good; he gave into temptation—just this once—and shoved his face into Stiles' sweaty neck, falling fast asleep.

Derek wakes to Stiles' hands tapping urgently at his sides. He lifts his head, squinting blearily down at Stiles. "Hm?"

"Get up, get up!" Stiles hisses frantically. "My dad's home!"

"Shit," Derek groans, scrambling out of bed, grabbing at the clothes he's left strewn across the floor. He gets dressed in record time and heads for the window, where he freezes at the sight of the police cruiser sitting in the driveway next to Stiles' Jeep.

"What are you waiting for?" Stiles hisses.

Derek ducks down as a sandy-haired man climbs out of the cruiser, humming quietly to himself. "You didn't tell me your dad was the fucking sheriff," he hisses back.

Stiles blinks, a light flush slowly working its way across his face. "I thought you knew," he says.

"Like hell I did!" Derek whispers fiercely. "I wouldn't have—"

Stiles' expression goes sullen. "Wouldn't have what? Fucked the sheriff's kid? Fucked a teenager?"

"I didn't know that, either!" Seeing Stiles' lips go thin, he adds in a mutter, "Wasn't sure, anyway."

Stiles glowers at him and then swings himself out of bed with a sigh as a car door slams outside the window. "I'll distract him," he says. "You make your escape."

"Thanks," Derek murmurs. Stiles just shrugs a shoulder at him as he slips on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt and disappears out the bedroom door. Derek listens to him head down the stairs, and then there comes the faint murmur of conversation. Derek makes his break for freedom then, slipping out the window into the gray light of very early morning.

He feels like he can't be blamed for feeling blindsided by the fact that Stiles is Sheriff Stilinski's son—it's not like Stiles ever told him, and if there was any evidence of the fact in Stiles' house, Derek never saw it in the hallway or the bathroom, which is the furthest into the house he's ever gone. He's halfway home before realization hits him like a freight train; he's been fucking the sheriff's underage son. Oh, god, he's going to jail—that’s if the sheriff doesn't just shoot him outright.

When he gets home, there's a text from Stiles waiting on his phone: are you mad

Derek stares up at his bedroom ceiling for a long time before he responds with a question of his own: how old are you?

17, Stiles replies, and Derek swears through his teeth. Stiles follows it up with: does this mean we have to stop

Derek stares at his phone for a long time before setting it aside. He doesn't reply.

Derek's heat hits two days later and he uses it as an excuse for why he hasn't responded to Stiles. He spends most of it in a grumpy haze on the couch in the den, sweating through a t-shirt and boxers, staggering to the bathroom to jerk off whenever the need arises, knotting his hand over and over.

He tries not to think about Stiles when he does, but it's inevitable; Stiles is his most recent partner, and the sex with him is good. Derek loses himself fantasizing about how amazing Stiles always smells and the way he laughs when Derek drags his nose along his jaw. Derek's body aches with want for him—his heat would be so much better with an omega around, especially Stiles—but he resists the urge to text him; they'll both be better off this way.

"Wouldn't this be easier with your boyfriend?" Cora asks one evening, leaning through the doorway, watching Derek watch old Gunsmoke reruns because the only station the TV in the den gets is TV Land.

"He's not my boyfriend," Derek snarls.

Cora wrinkles her nose in disgust. "Sorry, jeeze." She disappears into the hallway and then pops back in a moment later. "You need a shower, by the way. You stink."

Derek snarls at her again, angrier, and props himself up like he's going to go after her. Cora yelps and vanishes into the kitchen. She's right, though; he reeks of sweat and jizz and heat-stink. He takes a shower that night and after, when he's feeling mostly human again, checks his phone for the first time since his heat began. There are two messages from Stiles: dad's gone - you want to come over? and then a day later, okay.

Derek rolls his eyes and texts back Sorry for being AWOL. I got my heat.

Oh, Stiles replies. And then: I could have helped you out.

Derek bites at his lip because he really would have liked that. Maybe next time.

I’m going to hold you to that. Tonight?

No, Derek types back regretfully. I go back to school in a couple days, need to pack.

dad’s working a double tomorrow

Derek hesitates, listening to his sisters laugh in the living room, and then replies, I’ll be there.

-

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says after Derek pulls out of him and thumps down on the bed next to him.

“For what?” Derek murmurs, mouthing absently at Stiles’ neck.

“For, uh, not telling you about my dad,” Stiles says. He flushes. “And, um, not telling you I’m seventeen.” Derek makes a noncommittal noise and Stiles tenses slightly. “Is that okay?”

Derek snorts. “Do you think I’d be here if it was a problem?” He’s given it some thought; he knows that what they’re doing is illegal, but there’s only a four-year age gap between them, which isn’t all that huge. He’s being selfish, probably, but if anyone’s going to get in trouble it’s going to be him, not Stiles, and they’ve done fine so far. Anyway, he likes having sex with Stiles, and even just spending time with him, and he’s not entirely willing to give up on that.

“Okay,” Stiles says. He smells relieved. “Cool.” Derek doesn’t say anything; he senses Stiles is thinking about something, building up the courage to say it, and he’s right; eventually Stiles says, “I really like what we’re doing but, um. Have you thought about moving forward?”

Derek lifts his head, propping himself up on one elbow so he can watch Stiles’ face. “Moving forward?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, his eyes flickering over to Derek before he looks away. “I was just thinking—about becoming official. Dating. You know?”

Derek looks at him for a long, silent second. “I’m going back to college in three days,” he says, and Stiles deflates.

“Right,” he says. “Right. You probably—it was just a stupid thought.”

“I didn’t say no,” Derek says, and Stiles shuts his mouth, his eyes widening. Derek tilts his head, thinking. He hasn’t let himself think about this possibility; through everything, he always had the thought at the back of his mind that this was just a summer fling and it’d end when he went back to school. He’s kept things casual for that very reason, hasn’t let himself get caught up in attachment, and it’s been working; even though there’s an obvious attraction between them—they wouldn’t still be doing this if there wasn’t—they’ve kept things cool. They don’t spend time cuddling, Derek doesn’t spend the night, and ninety percent of their encounters end in sex.

Derek hasn’t dated anyone in a few years, which isn’t to say that he’s against the idea of it—it’s just that none of the people he’s been with in the recent past have been interested in commitment, which was fine with him. Still. He’d be lying if he didn’t admit to himself that the reason he hasn’t let himself think about dating Stiles is that he wouldn’t mind dating him, but knew it wasn’t in the realm of possibility, and there was no point daydreaming over it. Now, though…

“It’s okay,” Stiles says, fidgeting. He seems unnerved by Derek’s silence. “We can just stick with what we’re doing, it’s fine.”

“No,” Derek says quietly. “I’d like to, but I...think we should wait. Until you’re eighteen.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” Stiles agrees. “I don’t want my dad arresting you. But—” He hesitates for a moment, and then continues, “but we can still do this, right? I know you’re going back to school, but when you’re home—”

“Yeah,” Derek interrupts, smiling faintly. “I’d like that.” Then it’s his turn to hesitate before he says, “Maybe you could come visit.”

Stiles’ eyes light up. “Seriously?”

“It’s only two hours away,” Derek says. His skin’s getting hot just thinking about Stiles in his bed, surrounded by Derek’s scent. They’ve never even fucked in Derek’s car, let alone been anywhere near the house—Derek’s too afraid of one of his sisters catching on to who Stiles is, even though he probably comes home reeking of him. “You could spend the night.”

One side of Stiles’ mouth quirks up. “That turn you on?”

“Shut up,” Derek mutters, cheeks heating up.

Stiles grins. “I’m keeping that in mind.” He shifts around a little, drags his fingertips up Derek’s arm in a gesture that’s oddly intimate. “I wish you could be here for my next heat.”

“Just text me,” Derek tells him, his throat constricting at the thought. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Cool,” Stiles says quietly. He shifts again, rolling onto his side, and after an expectant moment Derek rolls with him, fitting his chest up against Stiles’ back, curling an arm over his side. He’s not going to fall asleep, he tells himself, but considering what they just talked about, he thinks it’s okay to have this for a little while. Stiles smells pleased, anyway.

After a while, Stiles asks, “Is it hard, being away from your pack for the school year?”

Derek presses his mouth to Stiles’ shoulder for a long moment, thinking before he answers. “Yeah, but my pack is also my family. I don’t know if I miss one part more strongly than the other, because they’re the same thing.”

Stiles makes a thoughtful noise. “Is it hard on full moons?”

“No,” Derek says, shaking his head even though Stiles can’t see him. “My control’s fine, though Laura thinks that being away from home has made it even better.” He thinks, a little guiltily, back to the way he’d bitten Stiles’ shoulder so hard that first time in the woods, and isn’t so sure Laura’s right.

Stiles is quiet for a while before he says, “She’s been trying all summer to get my best friend to join your pack.”

Derek blinks, a little startled. “The omega?” He’s noticed the scent in Stiles’ room, but he’s so accustomed to being surrounded by the scents of other werewolves that he hadn’t thought much of it.

“His name’s Scott,” Stiles says, a little irritated—and right, Derek knew that; Laura’s talked about him enough.

“Laura says he doesn’t want to join us,” Derek says. “Do you know why?”

Stiles makes a noncommittal noise. “I don’t know,” he says, half-shrugging. “He was bitten without consent when he was a kid, so he’s always been kind of opposed to, uh, tradition, I guess.”

Derek frowns at the darkness of the far wall; Laura hadn’t said anything about that. Maybe she doesn’t know.

“Why do you guys want him?” Stiles asks.

“Laura wants him,” Derek says automatically, and then amends, “It’d be good for everyone, I guess. Bigger packs are more stable, and we haven’t been all that stable since—” He cuts himself off, heart aching at the memory of the fire. It’s been five years, but it still hurts, burning deep behind his ribs.

“I know,” Stiles says quietly. “Dad’s the sheriff, so I, uh.” He clears his throat awkwardly. “Saw things. Files.”

“Oh,” Derek says, not knowing how to feel about that. They’re silent for a long, not entirely comfortable moment before Derek continues, “Anyway, I think Laura just hoped—especially since I’m going to be off at school—to stabilize the pack a little, and be able to defend our territory, if it came down to it.”

“Huh,” Stiles says thoughtfully. “Well. I could say something to Scott, maybe. I don’t—maybe your sister’s not going about it the right way—no offense.”

“None taken,” Derek murmurs. “Laura would appreciate it.”

They fall silent then, breathing quietly in the dark room. It might be the longest conversation they’ve ever had, and certainly the most serious; part of Derek’s keep-things-casual strategy is to avoid exactly the topics he and Stiles just discussed—pack, school, the fire. He feels okay with it now, though. They’ve fucked plenty of times, but they don’t really know each other. He wants to get to know Stiles, and the silence welcomes questions, but he finds himself drifting instead, lulled to sleep by the warm press of Stiles’ body against his, the matching beats of their hearts, mind and body content.

That’s when he knows he needs to get up, or else he’ll fall asleep there and risk getting caught by the sheriff, which is not on his list of things to do. Derek says as much to Stiles, who makes a noise of complaint and twists to glower at Derek over his shoulder. Derek snorts quietly and leans in to mollify him with a kiss, soft and slow and completely unlike their usual frantic rush. Stiles relaxes under him after a moment, breaking the kiss but not pulling away. Derek’s thrown by the twist of his stomach when Stiles brushes their noses together because it feels like it means something.

“I—gotta go,” Derek mumbles against Stiles’ lips, even though every part of him is screaming stay!

“M’kay,” Stiles murmurs. It takes every ounce of Derek’s will to pull himself away and get out of bed, slowly pulling on his clothes. Stiles rolls onto his other side, watching Derek dress and walk to where the window’s still open, a warm breeze rolling in.

Derek hesitates before ducking outside. “When do you turn eighteen, anyway?”

“April,” Stiles says ruefully. “Is that—too far off?”

Derek shakes his head. “No, but...if you meet someone else before then...I won’t be offended if you don’t want to wait.”

Stiles props himself up on his elbows, a serious expression on his face. “Okay,” he says slowly. “And—same for you, okay?”

Derek nods shortly. “I’ll see you around,” he says quietly, and pulls himself out the window. There isn’t going to be anyone else for him, he doesn’t think, and he has no clue why. Stiles is aggressive and unapologetic and unlike any omega-type Derek has ever met and yet. And yet, all summer, he’s found himself drawn to Stiles again and again like a moth to a flame. This is it for him.