Stiles has a legit reason why he owns Hello Kitty pajama bottoms, and it has to do with Lydia and a bet—and is exactly why Stiles should never make a bet with Lydia—but they sometimes come in super handy on laundry day. Because Stiles likes to stretch his resources to the limit, he tries to go approximately two weeks without having to wash his clothes, and he has exactly fifteen pairs of boxer briefs. Today is day number sixteen, so Stiles is free-balling it, but at least the pajama pants are nice and fleecy.
It isn’t always this dire. Usually, Stiles can borrow a pair of shorts from Scott for his bi-weekly laundry extravaganza, but Scott’s down to his skivvies, too, and is staying with Kira for the weekend. Stiles had weighed the pros and cons of wearing the suspect pair of basketball shorts he’d found under Scott’s bed with the chances of seeing anyone that would actually care what he was wearing at 2 am on a Saturday night at the 24 hour laundromat. He decided the pjs were the less gross option.
He regrets his choice almost instantly when he sees that Hot Angry Tank Top Dude is sitting on top of a washer and glaring down at his copy of Emma like it’s personally offended him. His tank top is a soft dove gray today and Stiles tries to maneuver his way through all the machines without flashing his kitty-covered ass.
Hot Angry Tank Top Dude has been at the laundromat two other times with Stiles in the past two months, so it’s not like they’re regulars together. It’s not like this happens all the time. They’ve said approximately three words to each other—if grunting on HATTD’s part is considered a word—and Stiles has stared at the dude’s massive biceps, because he has no shame.
Normally, Stiles isn’t wearing girl pants.
Stiles accidentally bumps a chair with his bag and the dude looks up at the sudden loud scraping sound across the tile floor.
Stiles says, “Uh.”
The dude’s mouth twitches, but then he looks back down at his book.
Stiles nods to himself and sets up camp. That went well.
He stuffs all his underwear and towels into one washer and then the rest of his clothes get dumped in another, regardless of color, and he debates taking off his socks and stuffing them in, too.
He hitches his pants up and stares down at his socks and tries to remember how many days he’s been wearing this pair and almost misses the snort.
He jerks his head up and stares at HATTD. He catches his eye and arches a silent, questioning eyebrow.
HATTD just shakes his head, but he’s almost full-on smiling now, it’s—weird. HATTD has never been anything but Hot and Angry.
And then the dude’s dryer buzzes and he hops down, turns to take out his clothes. He’s gone from the building in less than five minutes, and Stiles shrugs and goes back to his own wait.
The next time Stiles sees Hot Angry Tank Top Dude he’s not wearing a tank top. He is, in fact, shirtless, which would normally turn Stiles into a big pile of incoherent goo, except he’s shirtless standing over the industrial sink, scrubbing at what looks like a bunch of clothes with blood all over them. Lots and lots of blood, and isn’t that something he should be doing in the comfort of his own home? Or, like, maybe he should just bag it and toss it and call it a wash? Is this dude a serial killer? That would be so disappointing.
“Dude,” Stiles says. “Dude.”
The guy glares over at him, then starts filling the basin for what looks like a cold soak.
“Dude,” Stiles says again. “Is that blood?”
The guy says, flatly, “I cut myself shaving,” which is a classic serial killer line here, and the dude has thick stubble all over his face, is he joking?
“Um.” Stiles takes a giant step backwards. He watches the dude’s nostrils flare and then he glares at Stiles even harder, and what is this? “I’m, uh—”
Stiles grips his bag to his chest and slowly backs out the door.
Stiles manages a full month and a half of avoiding Hot Angry Murder Face Dude—previously Hot Angry Tank Top Dude—and it basically involves Stiles sneaking quietly past the laundromat and only going inside when it’s absolutely empty. It’s been tough on his cleaning schedule, but Stiles tells himself it’s worth it.
He’s got his Hello Kitty pants on again, he’s humming James, shaking his hips, when there’s a loud rattle-scrape at the front glass door. He jumps and spins and freezes when he sees—a freaking hulking black dog staring at him. It’s got eerie green eyes and it’s as big as a very large wolf—is it a wolf?—and Stiles is fairly sure it wants into the building to eat him.
“Holy crap,” Stiles says.
The wolf-dog lifts a huge paw to the glass again and dips its head.
Stiles says, “Yeah, no,” and then the beast totally collapses. Just slumps onto the ground right up against the door—it’s not graceful, so Stiles tends to think it wasn’t on purpose, either, but that still means he’s basically trapped inside the laundromat now, unless he wants to go and try to shove it aside. It could totally be faking, too.
Very, very slowly, Stiles sneaks up to the door. The floodlights in front of the shop are bright enough for Stiles to see that the dog is actually in pretty bad shape. Matted fur and dark, sticky stuff that looks enough like blood to make Stiles cringe.
“Shit,” he says.
He heaves a sigh and says, “Okay, big guy,” and starts pushing open the door—the animal slides, heavy and boneless, across the cracked sidewalk.
He says, “Shit,” again.
Scott tries to kneel down next to the dog and gets a snarl-growl in his face for his troubles, big, sharp teeth bared—he scrambles back and falls on his ass on the pavement.
Stiles doesn’t know what to make of that, considering the fact that all animals normally love Scott and hate Stiles, and this dog is letting Stiles scratch behind his ears.
Scott says, “I can’t help him if he won’t let me near him.”
Stiles blows out a breath and says, “Yeah.” He’s going to have to call animal control. He doesn’t want to call animal control. Chances are with an injured half-feral like this they’ll have to put him down.
“Crap,” he says. “Okay, let’s figure out how to get him into the jeep.”
Scott doesn’t even look at him weird, just goes and pulls Stiles’s jeep up as close to the entrance as possible and keeps a safe distance while Stiles curses his soft heart, weighed down by a beast that feels like it’s about two hundred pounds of solid muscle. He bangs his head on the door frame and practically shoves it into the back seat, wincing in sympathy as it lets out these pathetic little whines. Once it feels better it’s probably going to rip Stiles’s face off.
He steps back and looks at Scott and says, “I am so screwed.”
The wolf—“This is definitely a wolf,” Scott says, “or, like, some wolf-dog hybrid.”—is reluctant to be touched, and Stiles mostly just lets him lay in their kitchen and tries not to think how horrible it’ll be when it dies there, since after he dragged it—him—inside on a blanket sled, the wolf refused to let Stiles anywhere near him again.
He’s a hostile, half-dead, probably feral animal and he’s blocking the cabinet where Stiles keeps his Lucky Charms. His dad is going to kill him when he finds about this. He probably should have called animal control.
But then he looks at the sad fucker and his liquid, pain-filled eyes and he just ends up placing a bowl of water next to him and giving him all the deli ham they had in the fridge.
Scott calls Dr. Deaton and Deaton makes a very rare house call—there is no way Stiles is moving him again—and is cryptic as shit but gives Stiles some powdered medicine to place in his bowl, and also manages to muzzle him long enough to clean his wounds.
Deaton says, “He should be fine in a few days,” and Stiles says, “Really?” because he feels like he should already be digging a hole out back.
Deaton looks up at him from his crouch and says, “Yes. Really.”
Stiles says, “Huh.”
Deaton’s words prove true, and in a few days not only is the wolf healed, but he’s gone. Completely vanished, which, okay, Stiles is not going to complain about.
He eats three bowls of Lucky Charms and stares at the empty kitchen floor and is totally okay about it all, for real.
Hot Angry Murder Face Dude shows up at the laundromat while Stiles is transferring all his wet clothes into a dryer and there’s nothing he can do about it. He can’t abandon his clothes now, and if he attempts to take them home wet they’ll just start growing mold, he’s tried that before.
Stiles stares down at the dryer with fierce concentration, like he can somehow will it to dry faster—dry like the wind!—but the guy is some cat-footed ninja because he’s suddenly right next to Stiles, so close their arms are touching, and Stiles spins and bumps back against the machine in surprise.
“Whoa,” Stiles says, and the dude says, “I’m Derek,” like—what the hell?
Stiles says, “Oookay,” looking over at him, wide-eyed.
Derek just stares at him. It’s—super creepy, Stiles isn’t going to lie, what with all the glowering and blood from before, even if he’s wearing a tank top again. It’s black, Stiles prefers the white, but only because it makes his skin glow.
And then Derek says, “And you are?” with his teeth clenched, like it’s physically paining him to have this conversation, when he’s the one who initiated it.
Stiles would like to tell Derek to back off, but he’s still not sure Derek doesn’t have a dozen dead bodies buried in his backyard, so instead he says, “Stiles.”
Derek nods. No, Stiles? What the hell is that? He just nods, like he already knew how this was going to go down, and Stiles is doubly-sure he’s going to end up in Derek’s torture basement sometime in the not-so-distant future.
Then Derek’s hand is hovering over the side of Stiles’s neck, he leans forward just the slightest bit, and Stiles heart feels like it’s stopped completely. Derek’s palm softly scrapes over Stiles’s throat, down to his collarbone, there’s a line of intense heat that flares up along Stiles’s skin.
Derek drops his hand.
Without another word, Derek goes back to his own things and Stiles goes back to staring at his dryer and he hightails it out of there as soon as it buzzes, even though the clothes are still a little damp.
“Why are all the hot guys crazy?” Stiles tells Scott, phone squished between his shoulder and ear as he sorts his underwear out.
“He’s probably okay,” Scott says, but he sounds distracted. “Are you good now?”
Stiles would rather have Scott on the line for the entire time he’s at the laundromat, but Scott has class and also Kira and there is no hope for that actually happening. Scott’s a bro, but Stiles understands he’s being slightly ridiculous. Probably. Besides, it’s early evening, if Derek happens along there’s nothing he can do with four other people doing their laundry, too.
Unless he takes down the whole place with an Uzi, but that doesn’t seem like Derek’s style.
Unfortunately, the place clears out within an hour, and Stiles doesn’t notice until it’s too late—he’s nose deep in a copy of The Sherbrook Bride that someone left behind when the door bangs open and Derek comes stumbling through, clothes torn and bloodied.
Stiles drops the book and scrambles to his feet.
They stare at each other for a stunned moment, and then Derek staggers forward, clutching at his side where there’s, like, a gaping wound.
Derek’s face says hide me, and Stiles shouts, “What the hell is wrong with you?” and reaches out without a thought, grabs Derek’s arm and drags him toward the sink at the back of the room.
Derek keeps looking over his shoulder. It’s dark out, there’s nothing outside the pool of light in front of the laundromat except Stiles’s jeep.
Stiles says, “What is wrong with you,” again as he runs the water, tries to wipe off the worst of the blood.
This is crazy. This is insane, why is he helping this dude? Whatever is after Derek is possibly his seemingly easy prey out for revenge; Derek probably deserves this, right?
There’s a nasty looking claw mark down Derek’s neck, and Stiles dabs at it carefully with a wet paper towel.
Derek’s voice is hoarse when he says, “Thanks.”
Stiles tries to coax Derek out to his jeep, tries to get him to tell him his address, but Derek seems spooked; it’s totally weird. He manages to get Derek through the front door by wit and trickery, because Derek is visibly exhausted and—kind of out of it, honestly.
But then there are distant howls and Derek looks both instantly clear-headed and panicked before he pushes Stiles back into the laundromat and locks the door.
It’s not a good sign, Stiles admits that.
“Is this when you kill me?” Stiles says, surreptitiously scanning the place for any kind of weapon.
Derek bends over and slides a freaking knife out of his boot and Stiles’s heart jackrabbits up into his throat—he’d been kind of joking, shit—except then Derek is flipping the handle out and giving it to Stiles.
“What the hell, Derek!” Stiles yells.
“Is there a back door to this place?” Derek asks.
“How the fuck would I know?” Stiles says, staring down at the very sharp, slim knife in his hand. He wants to drop it like a hot potato, but he figures that’s a bad idea; the howling, if Stiles isn’t mistaken, is getting closer.
There are four of them, it ends up. All of them various shades of gray, pacing back and forth in front of the glass doors, snarling and snapping, covered in blood, looking viciously unhinged.
Derek is breathing heavy. He shoots Stiles a look, says, “Don’t freak out,”—ha!—and then—
And then Derek’s body is suddenly grotesquely reforming into Stiles’s black kitchen wolf, shirt and pants ripping apart, and the wolf looks much bigger all up and alert than it did sprawled out bleeding all over his tile floor.
Derek-the-wolf has his ears flat, teeth showing, a low growl deep in his chest, but none of that is directed at Stiles. He herds Stiles backward, using the curve of his body, muzzle never wavering from where it’s pointed toward the pack—it’s a pack of wolves, this is crazy—milling in front of the laundromat.
They’re weaving around each other, eyes glowing blue and gold.
Stiles backs in between the rows of machines until he fumbles with an Employees Only door, thankfully finds it unlocked—there’s a back exit off the end of a short hallway, but Stiles pauses.
He says, “My jeep’s out front,” and Derek snaps at him, more a gesture of annoyance than a threat.
Stiles says, “I know, I know,” and, “Hang on, I’ll call Scott.”
Stiles isn’t exactly sure how they make it home. It involved Kira and Scott’s motorbikes and an epic peel-out and losing a shoe to too-close wolf teeth. But now he’s staring at a sheepish looking Derek—wearing Stiles t-shirt, it’s so tight on him, and the Hello Kitty jammies because Stiles couldn’t resist, okay?—across the kitchen table, Scott leaning against the counter behind them.
Derek says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t—” He cuts himself off, looks down at the table.
“They’ve been bothering you for a while, huh?” Stiles says, because at least he can gather that much. It makes sense now, the bloody clothes, the hurt wolf. What doesn’t make sense is why this is all happening with Stiles.
Derek shrugs one shoulder. He says, “I wasn’t supposed to be here that long,” and flicks a glance up at Stiles through his lashes.
“You, uh.” Stiles isn’t going to say it. It makes no sense, so Stiles definitely isn’t going to say it.
Scott says, “Deaton says wolves are territorial,” nodding. Like the local pack of werewolves having a beef with a lone wolf is just normal. “We can call him in the morning.”
“Scott,” Stiles says, incredulous. “Did you know about this?”
Scott grimaces. “Not really? Just—some stuff Deaton mentioned. I kind of figured? A little?”
Stiles groans and drops his face onto folded arms. He hates everyone. He says, “I’m going to bed,” words muffled by his sleeves.
He pushes back his chair and pauses when Derek does the same.
“You,” he says, pointing at him. “You get the couch.”
Derek looks like a kicked puppy, and he looks ridiculous in those pants, god, but Stiles is holding his ground, there has been a serious lack of communication between everyone in this room and Stiles is not happy.
He wakes up to black hairs all over his sheets; he gives Derek a narrowed-eyed stare over his breakfast but doesn’t say a word.
Deaton asks Derek questions like, “Where is your Alpha?” and, “How long did Alpha Felix originally give you to stay?” and, “Did they try to contact you before attacking?” and, “Have you brought this to the council?” and Stiles just stares at them like they’re speaking an alien language because what?
Dr. Deaton is a freaking vet.
But Derek gives stiff, one word answers and Deaton makes a couple calls and does this thing where he threatens without actually saying anything overtly threatening and that’s apparently that.
Derek uses Deaton’s phone and he says, “Stop crying, Laura, I’m fine,” and then, “Stop laughing, I hate you,” and the longer he talks to this Laura the looser the set of his shoulders gets, and then he’s like the liquid-eyed soulful dog-beast that healed himself on Stiles’s floor, he’s saying a quiet, “I know,” and, “It’s okay,” and, “I miss you, too.”
He looks right at Stiles and says, “I think you’ll like him,” and that’s—seriously. Seriously.
Stiles does his laundry on a Tuesday. It’s 2 am, he no longer even owns Hello Kitty pajama pants—he’s got a pair of Scott’s Beacon Hills cross country sweats on with the elastic stretched out of them, the only thing he could find in either of their rooms, and the waist band droops so low on him he has to keep hitching them up with one hand.
Hot Wolf Guy—previously Hot Angry Murder Face Dude—is reading The Sherbrook Bride, but Stiles knows he’s staring at his ass. It’s totally not Stiles’s fault he keeps accidently flashing him.
Stiles viciously spins the washer knob and pulls it out. He says, “I’m not your mate, you know, that’s—”
“Okay,” Derek says.
Stiles straightens up and stares over at him. It’s not the first time they’ve had this conversation. They’ve had this conversation almost every day for the past week, because Derek refuses to move off their couch and Scott refuses to make him and Stiles—Stiles has problems, obviously.
“Okay?” Stiles says. How can he just be okay with that, Derek has been annoyingly persistent on this point; apparently Stiles smells right and also took care of him a couple of times and also looks hot in girl pants. Derek insists that last one was the tipping point.
Derek carefully marks his place with a finger and looks up at Stiles. “Okay.”
“But—” Stiles deflates. “Why?”
“No means no, Stiles,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. “I’m not—this is a you seem nice, I like you, please be, uh—”
“Yours?” Stiles says, smirking a little.
Derek stands up. “Yes,” he says. He stalks closer to Stiles, placing the book down on the machine next to him.
Stiles fidgets with the hem of his shirt, accidently drops hold of the pants, and has to scramble to keep them up over his ass. “So, like, not in a soulbond, mate for life—”
“I want to stay and date you, Stiles,” Derek says, soft.
“Right,” Stiles scoffs. “You almost got torn apart by a pack of werewolves because you want to date me.”
Derek cages him up against the washer, hands on either side of Stiles’s hips. He says, “Someone spent a really long time avoiding me.”
“Someone spent a really long time looking like they wanted to murder me,” Stiles says, but he lifts his hands and rests them on Derek’s face anyway, feels the soft scruff under his palms. His butt is leaning into the washer, and that’s basically the only reason his pants haven’t fallen to his knees yet—he could be persuaded to shift a little bit.
He opens his mouth under Derek’s, their lips nearly touching, and says, breathless, “So you don’t have a torture basement, right?”
Derek huffs a laugh. He says, “You’re just going to have to wait and find out.”