It was three days after the "pool incident" when they were attacked by the kanima and barely made it out with their lives. Their success was thanks, in no small part to Stiles- he felt justified giving himself a pat on the back seeing as no one else did. He was still sore in muscles he didn't even know he had and there was a slight throbbing building behind his left eye.
It was his second night on a stakeout with Derek “The Grumpy Alpha” Hale. Not his first choice for a companion for an all-night stakeout but Scott was with Allison (he didn't trust anyone else with her protection apparently) and Boyd, Isaac and Erica were on a stakeout by the school and were supposed to call if they saw anything. Stiles drew the short straw apparently.
They were looking for anything suspicious that could lead them to the kanima. So far they were coming up empty handed. This kanima thing wasn't going to be found unless it wanted to. To be honest, part of Stiles was hoping it would stay hidden, at least until they came up with a plan. He was pretty sure right now their plan didn't go beyond finding the thing.
It was only a little after ten but they had already been sitting there for two hours and Stiles was getting restless. Derek had barely spoken two words since Stiles got in the car and the police scanner Stiles stole--temporarily misappropriated- from his dad had been quiet all night.
He really shouldn't have taken that extra dose of Adderall before coming. He started tapping his fingers and bouncing his leg impatiently and a whole minute and a half went by before Derek tore his gaze from the window to glare at him.
"Will you stop fidgeting and sit still?" he snapped.
Stiles rolled his eyes but stopped the tapping. "You know you could at least ask nicely." He was rewarded with silence.
He sighed and reached for the radio where Derek's iPod was hooked up. "Let's see what music the big bad wolf listens to." He turned the radio on. "The Black Keys...interesting. I would have pegged you for more of a---"
Stiles threw up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay...relax, jeez. Don't get so huffy ." he mumbled, turning off the music and slumping back in his seat.
Derek rolled his eyes. “Wolf jokes...really?”
“You liked that? I’ve got tons more--”
“Don’t you dare.” Derek warned.
Stiles continued, ignoring Derek. “My Derek, what big teeth you have...”
“All the better to rip your throat out with if you don’t shut up , my dear .”
Stiles very maturely stuck out his tongue but didn’t say anything else. He wasn’t sure how far he could push Derek before he actually made good on that threat and he didn’t really want to find out.
Derek went back to looking out the window. Stiles did the same but it was so dark he could barely see anything. The street was quiet and deserted and Stiles tried not to think about how close to the woods they were and how alone they were. Or that he was alone with Derek. Alone with Derek in a very small space. Yeah, especially not that.
A while passed in silence. Stiles got a text from Scott saying that everything was still clear but that Allison had to go before her grandfather got suspicious of her whereabouts. Derek gave a curt nod when Stiles read him the text, not even looking away from the window. Stiles frowned, pocketing his phone. Since Derek seemed to be making a point of NOT looking at him, Stiles took this opportunity to study him.
Derek seemed tense tonight, on edge more so than usual. Stiles knew this kanima stuff in addition to trying to train his new pack and the hunters were weighing heavily on him but Stiles wondered if something else was bothering him as well. He took in the hard line of Derek's jaw, the tense lines of his shoulders and back to his fists clenching and unclenching on his thighs. The dark circles under his eyes could almost give Stiles' a run for their money.
Stiles already hadn't been sleeping well since the night at the mechanic's ... and then the incident at the pool happened. He wouldn't admit it to anyone but he’d be having nightmares for a long time to come.
Derek hadn’t seemed as shaken but his appearance said otherwise. Stiles had never seen him quite so visibly...un-Derek-like. Derek was a master at hiding his emotions. He didn’t just ace Poker Face 101, he taught it. Stiles sometimes found himself wishing Derek would show a bit of weakness, something that revealed that he wasn’t just the monster he sometimes came off as. But somehow knowing that Derek was up at night tossing and turning like Stiles was very NOT comforting. In fact, it made Stiles more nervous than he already was.
Before this whole mess, he thought that Derek becoming the alpha was a good thing. Now that he was the alpha and on their side, they would be fine and now that Peter was gone they wouldn't have anything to worry about as long as they stayed on the Argent's good side. Derek was the most powerful person (or werewolf rather) that he knew. Peter was the scariest and Derek beat him (granted, not without their help) so Stiles had felt pretty comfortable betting on Derek to keep them safe; even if Derek did hate him. At least... that's what he thought until Derek put himself in danger to save him the other night. Now Stiles wasn't so sure. And if Derek couldn't stop this thing, this kanima or whatever, Stiles wasn't sure who -or what could.
Maybe Scott was right and they should tell the Argents. Maybe if they all worked together for once they could beat this thing, hopefully before it killed someone else.
Speaking of facing danger and self-sacrifice and all that, Stiles was still waiting on a thank you. Hell, he'd settle for a pat on the back or even that infamous "nod of acknowledgment" that tough manly guys sometimes gave other guys when they wanted to save their wounded pride and still show their gratitude. Instead Derek just acted like it never happened at all, that ungrateful arrogant little...were...wolf jerk ugh. He thinks it’s about high time to wrestle a little gratitude out of him.
"You know...I'm still waiting on my thank you." Stiles said, breaking the silence. Once again, Derek ignored him. He looked down at his hands and tried to pretend it didn’t bother him. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting and he probably should have just shut up, but you know, in for a penny...
"Typical Derek. I saved your life! I didn't risk my life treading water and holding your ass afloat for two hours because I need you to survive or whatever bullshit you think.” He turns in his seat to look at him, clutching his seatbelt. Derek is pointedly staring out the window even though there is nothing out there to see. Stiles continues anyway, “I did it because I didn't...I don't want you to die. Because despite everything, I actually kind of like you. The least I could get is a thank you!"
Stiles should have been embarrassed by his impromptu confession but he not so much as heard, but felt a growl building low in Derek's chest. And unfortunately, Stiles seemed to hold the firm belief that once you start putting your foot in your mouth you might as well not stop until you've managed to shove the whole thing in there and win a freaking Olympic gold medal or something.
"Why did you even turn your back on that thing to save me if you hate me so much?" He had been dying to ask since that night. He wasn't surprised when he didn't get a reply, he hadn't been expecting one.
Stiles shook his head. "Man, would it kill you to say thank you once in a while? Maybe just a little 'thank you for saving my life, Stiles. Again. You're the best human in all of Beacon Hills. The most amazing, handsomest, brav---"
"I might kill you if you don't shut. Up."
Derek's threats used to scare Stiles...well okay, they still did a little, but Stiles thought that things would be different between them since the pool. That maybe things had changed. Not that he expected to be viewed as an equal but he thought maybe he’d finally gain a little respect. Guess he thought wrong.
Before Stiles could come up with a sufficiently witty comeback the police scanner went off. He jumped about a foot in the air and nearly knocked it off the dashboard as he scrambled to grab it and turn the volume up.
Through the static of the radio the woman's voice was reporting a disturbance at the gas station, someone had been attacked and there was an officer down. They were calling for backup.
Stiles exchanged a stricken look with Derek and then he struggled to pull his cell phone out of his pocket with shaking hands. He dialed his dad's number, his heart hammering in his chest. "Please pick up please pick up please pick up..." He hung up and tried again, his chest constricting with each unanswered ring, Derek was silent beside him as he drove them to the gas station and the sheriff’s son in him tried hard to ignore all the traffic violations and laws that Derek was breaking as they sped to the scene.
Finally, as they were pulling to the side of the road a little ways away from the gas station-turned crime scene, flashing red and blue lights lighting up the night sky, Stiles' dad finally picked up.
"Stiles, what ? I'm extremely busy right now."
"You're okay? Oh, thank God..."
"What? Yeah, I'm okay but I won't be if I lose my job. Have you been listening to the police scanner again? What did I tell you about that? I have to go. Stay inside and make sure you lock up. I'll be home late."
"Wait, dad! No, don't its danger-" There was a click on the other end. "-ous..."
Stiles slid his phone back into his pocket with still-shaking hands. What happened at the mechanic's playing over and over in his mind. The guy lying there, helpless, waiting to die and Stiles couldn't do anything about it. The kanima rendered Derek helpless within seconds and Derek was a werewolf and an alpha at that. Stiles' dad was only human. He had guns yeah, but they'd be useless against this thing.
He was met with an overwhelming visual that almost made him double over (he was certain Derek would literally rip him to shreds if he threw up in his car): in his head the mechanic suddenly became his dad, lying there paralyzed and calling for help that would never come. His father’s eyes begged him to come help, Stiles could see his hand trying to reach out to him. Suddenly Stiles found it hard to breathe.
He could barely hear Derek's voice over his rising panic and the frantic pounding of his heart in his ears. "Stiles, your heart rate...calm down. Take a deep breath."
"I...can't...” he gasped, trying to wipe his sweaty palms on his pants, “p-panic...attack..."
He leaned forward in his seat and frantically unbuckled the seat belt. He rocked forward and put his head between his legs. His head was swimming, and he fought back the dizziness and nausea. It’d been a while since he’d experienced one of these. God, this was humiliating. Derek was just about the last person on earth Stiles wanted to have a panic attack in front of. Everyone already thought he was weak and now this. Derek would never let him live it down.
Thinking about that just made it worse and Stiles' chest constricted painfully, as he saw his dad lying there, paralyzed and there was nothing Stiles could do but watch helplessly. He couldn't lose his dad. He couldn’t .
Derek braced Stiles’ arms and turned him so they were facing each other. “Stiles...Stiles look at me. You need to calm down.” he squeezed his arms but Stiles shook his head. “Can’t...” he gasped. Derek shook him gently trying to get him to focus but to no avail.
Suddenly, there was a warm hand on his neck and he was being pulled forward. It took him a few moments but then he realized he was being kissed.
Stiles fisted Derek's jacket in his hand not sure whether he was going to push him away or pull him closer. Derek's lips were warm and soft and nothing like what Stiles imagined. He thought kissing Derek would be rough. All heat and teeth and desperation. Stiles mouth opened against Derek’s and he returned the kiss eagerly. He’s pretty sure he let out an embarrassing noise that sounded way too close to a whimper for his liking and he could feel the heat flare up in his cheeks and he half expected Derek to pull away laughing. But Derek didn't seem to mind, in fact he pulled Stiles closer with a large, warm hand cupping his jaw. Stiles brought his free hand up to rest on the back of Derek's neck, curling his fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck, pulling him even closer (as close as he could anyway with the console in between them, keeping them enough apart to drive Stiles crazy). Derek nipped at Stiles' bottom lip and Stiles opened his mouth to him, groaning when Derek's tongue slid against his.
This wasn't Stiles' first kiss, if you count the one time in sixth grade at a birthday party during a game of spin the bottle. A girl named Kelly, a cousin of the birthday girl, spun and it landed on him. He had been so nervous his palms were sweating and he couldn't stop licking his lips. He remembered Kelly's friends laughing and sniggering as she had leaned in and kissed him. A quick peck on the lips and it was over. And then once in his freshman year at a house party that Stiles was certain he and Scott only got invited to because they were on the lacrosse team. The girl’s name was Amanda Stirling and she had been heavily intoxicated. The kiss was wet and sloppy and tasted like cigarettes and cheap booze but it wasn't entirely unpleasant.
So maybe this was his first real kiss. It was certainly the first time someone had kissed him of their own accord, because they wanted to and not because they were drunk or playing a game. He wasn't even sure werewolves could get drunk.
Although he didn't have much to compare it to, it was hands down the best kiss he ever had.
Derek may have been out of practice but he certainly knew what he was doing. He was warm and firm and everywhere . His scent and heat seemed to envelope Stiles, until he couldn't think about anything else and he was light headed because he kept forgetting to breathe.
Stiles had half a mind to crawl over the console and into Derek's lap but before he could work up the courage to do just that Derek started to pull away. Stiles whispered a tiny "no", chasing his mouth. He felt Derek's chest rumble beneath his hand still clutching Derek's jacket, and Stiles opened his eyes expecting to meet glowing red eyes and an angry alpha but Derek wasn't growling, he was laughing .
Stiles blushed and let go of Derek's jacket, shifting back in his seat.
"So, the-great-and-brooding Derek Hale has a sense of humor after all." Stiles mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. This just seemed to make Derek laugh harder and Stiles couldn't even be mad because he had never seen Derek laugh before, not really. Not like this with his eyes scrunched up and his head thrown back, face red and clutching his stomach. "Go ahead. Get it all out. At least I'm good for something.”
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." he said breathlessly, wiping his eyes. He was still smiling and even though it was at his expense, Stiles found himself smiling too.
As they sat there, watching the scene at the gas station from afar, a silence filled the car heavy and awkward so Stiles did what he did best in awkward silences.
Made them more awkward.
"So...not that I'm complaining but...what...what was that for?"
"Your panic attack is gone isn't it?" Derek asked his eyes reflecting off the headlights of a car driving by on the other side of the road.
Stiles sat back in his seat. "Huh." His panic attack was not only gone but he had almost forgotten about it completely.
When they felt certain that nothing else was going to happen that night and still no luck finding the kanima, Derek drove him home.
"Uh...thank you? Not for...you know...the kiss...but for helping me with my panic attack. Not that I didn't appreciate the kiss. I appreciated it a lot actually. Maybe I should get panic attacks more often if that's how you-"
"Right. Shutting up."
Derek didn't seem as annoyed as usual though. His tone lacked its usual bite and if Stiles didn't know better he'd say there was a small smile tugging at the corners of Derek's mouth.
Stiles climbed out of the car and closed the door. As he turned to walk up the driveway Derek stopped him.
"Hey..." he called out and Stiles ducked his head in the open window. "Thank you."
"No problem." he managed to get out as Derek pulled away,
Stiles was left stunned in his driveway, gaping at the tail lights of Derek's car as they disappeared down the street. He felt pretty sure the nightmares wouldn’t be returning tonight. Derek might be an arrogant jerk but he certainly knew how to thank a guy.