It starts because Stiles has no self-control or sense of self-preservation. That’s how Scott will later describe it, at least. But, come on, it’s Scott’s fault anyway for making him play messenger, forcing him to drive out to the Hale house to talk to Derek because Scott is too busy having a forbidden tryst with Allison to go himself, leading him to find Derek sound asleep on the couch.
And he must be out good, because he doesn’t wake up even when Stiles approaches him. Granted, he’s tiptoeing, but that shouldn’t matter to werewolf ears, right?
Anyway, he’s just lying there on his ratty couch in his drafty house, asleep. Shirtless. Who does that?
Stiles just wants to see if those stupid abs are real, okay? Because how are they even. So, without pausing to think of the potential consequences, he drops down to his knees and brushes his fingers over Derek’s abdomen.
Derek twitches and curls in on himself a little, and Stiles draws his hand back sharply, but Derek doesn’t wake up, so, because once isn’t enough, he reaches out again, this time laying his palm flat on his stomach.
Jesus Christ, Derek has abs of steel or something—
“Whoops.” Stiles tears his eyes away from Derek’s six-pack to look at his face and—holy crap, is he smiling?
He is, but he also looks like he’s making a huge effort to stop. Not that it’s working. It all makes for a very hilarious expression on his normally grumpy face.
“What are you doing,” he says, voice flat.
“Um.” He glances at his hand, which is still running up and down Derek’s stomach, and quickly pulls it away, wiping it on his thigh. “Nothing?”
Derek seems to collect himself and growls, fangs extending and eyes glowing, like he’s trying to make up for his…whatever that was just earlier.
“I’m going to rip your throat out.”
Stiles laughs nervously. “No, you won’t. I know you won’t.”
“You know, you really are all bark and no bite. Despite your very intimidating fangs and claws. I am so not afraid of you—”
Derek lunges forward and Stiles yelps and scrambles backwards, throwing his arms up defensively, but Derek stops right in front of where he was a second ago, snapping his teeth.
Stiles’s heart is racing, but he still grins and says, “Wow, you are just like an overgrown puppy trying to be scary. What’s wrong, anyway? I was just admiring your stupidly perfect abs.”
And then, because he for some reason isn’t afraid of getting his hand bitten off, Stiles leans forward to give Derek’s stomach a pat.
“Stiles,” Derek says, and he sounds warning, but Stiles can see the corner of his mouth twitching.
“Oh my god, do you like having your belly rubbed?” Stiles asks.
“You do!” Stiles’s grin widens as he rubs circles, gauging Derek’s reaction.
Derek’s face is doing the I’m-trying-really-hard-to-glare-but-I-can’t-stop-smiling thing again, and he slumps down, leaning his back against the couch. “Stiles—stop it.”
“Nooo, no way, this is the best,” Stiles manages to say before he starts laughing. “I’ve found the Big Bad Alpha’s weakness. Belly rubs.”
This lasts for about a minute, until Derek grabs his wrist and chases him off.
Stiles drives away marveling this newfound knowledge, and it’s only when he reaches home that he remembers that he never even delivered Scott’s message. Whoops.
“Dude, I am telling you, Derek Hale totally likes belly rubs.”
“Are you crazy?!” Scott shouts into the phone, which is all he’s been saying since Stiles tried to share the news.
“I’m serious; try it if you don’t believe me.”
“Because I value my life? And my hand? You have no sense of self-preservation, I swear.”
“Says the guy sneaking around with a hunter’s daughter,” Stiles shoots back.
Scott is silent.
“Need some ice for that burn?”
“No, but seriously, think about the possibilities. It’s like a secret weapon. I can stop Derek with the rub of a belly,” Stiles says, giddy.
“You have no self-control.”
It’s after his chat with Scott that the aforementioned ‘it’ starts. ‘It’ being Stiles taking advantage of Derek’s weakness for belly rubs.
The first time is when Derek and Scott are having a spat over Allison and whether or not Scott should keep seeing her. It wouldn’t be the first time, but they’re both getting seriously pissed and Stiles is getting concerned that they might start physically fighting.
Seeing as he’s not in the mood to drag bloody werewolf asses to their respective houses, Stiles decides to intervene, stepping between the two of them.
“Back off, Stiles,” Derek says.
“No, I’ve got a better idea. How about you two just take a step back and calm down?” Stiles suggests. He pats Scott’s shoulder and leans forward, hovering a hand over Derek’s stomach area. “Does the grumpy wolf want a belly rub to feel better?”
“Don’t—” Derek starts, but Stiles is already rubbing, and the Alpha lets out a weak huff. “Stop it.”
“Aww, you like it,” Stiles coos. “You can’t even deny it, I see you trying not to smile. It’s not working, by the way.”
“What the hell,” Scott says.
The next time, Stiles is tailing Isaac because Scott’s worried something’s going to happen (something about his instincts and you don’t understand, just follow him this one afternoon for me and then I’ll take care of it, and I can’t today because Allison finally has a chance to get away so we’re meeting up, so you can do my dirty work for me—well, that’s basically what he said). It’s true that it’s Stiles’s fault he gets distracted by an ice cream shop, but he figured, what can happen in the three minutes it takes to pop in and buy a cone real quick? But, of course, those are the three minutes it takes for things to go to hell.
Stiles isn’t sure how anyone survives without him, seriously.
The point is, he leaves the ice cream shop to find Isaac and Derek in an alley confronting an Omega.
The Omega is cowering pitifully and begging to be let go, he won’t cause any trouble, et cetera, but Derek isn’t having it, and neither is Isaac.
Well, Stiles isn’t having werewolf guts spilled when there’s a chance to settle matters peacefully, so he steps right up to the three werewolves.
“Hey, guys,” he says, trying for casual even though all three werewolves can probably tell his heart is beating a lot faster than it should be. “Nice weather.”
“You should really mind your own business, Stiles,” Derek says, and Stiles shrugs, taking a bite of ice cream from his cone.
“I’m here to mediate. It’s basically my job, which makes this my business. Shut up, my logic is flawless. Now, you.” Stiles tilts his chin at the Omega. “You’re gonna leave and not bother us anymore, right?”
The Omega nods frantically and babbles about how he was just passing through and he didn’t realize there was already a pack here and he doesn’t want to cause trouble; Derek growls and he shuts up.
Stiles smiles at the Omega, then wheels around to face Derek, figuring that if he can calm the Alpha down, the Beta will follow suit. “Now, you are going to let him go without a fuss.”
Derek glares at him. “Stop interfering with pack business—and, no, it’s not your business.”
Stiles pitches his voice low even though it doesn’t matter, because the Omega must be able to hear him anyway. “You don’t need to hurt him, Derek.”
“I need to assert my authority as an Alpha. He’s trespassing.”
“Yeah, well, done. Authority asserted. He’s scared out of his mind already,” Stiles snaps back. His eyes fall to Derek’s stomach, and he grins.
“Stiles, not here—”
“Too late!” Stiles says gleefully, and rubs rapid circles. “You should go now,” he says to the Omega, throwing him a look over his shoulder, and he scuttles off.
Stiles turns back to Derek, feeling smug about his accomplishment. But he isn’t expecting Derek’s knees to give, dragging them both down to the floor with Derek practically on top of him.
“Whoa, okay,” Stiles says, hand still on Derek’s stomach.
“Well, this is an interesting development,” a voice above them says.
Stiles had forgotten that Isaac was still here. He coughs nervously and holds out his ice cream.
“Free ice cream and pretend this never happened?”
Isaac takes it, then says, “This happened and I’m telling the others.”
“I’m going to kill you,” Derek mutters, dropping his head to Stiles’s shoulder.
Stiles is at home trying to focus on homework and not the internet when Erica shows up and climbs through his window.
“I’m going to start locking my window,” Stiles says.
“Are you wishing it was Derek climbing into your room?” Erica asks.
“No. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I’d rather you guys just, you know, respected the privacy of the bedroom.” He crosses his arms, then uncrosses them again a second later. “How did you even climb up here in heels?”
Erica doesn’t answer, just pulls Stiles up from his chair by the upper arm. “Let’s go.”
“Go where, exactly? Why are you even here? I have homework,” Stiles says, dragging his feet.
Erica pulls harder. “As if you were doing it.”
Stiles shrugs and lets Erica tug him out of his house (through the front door this time). “So, are you going to tell me where we’re going?”
“Ah.” He waits for elaboration. It doesn’t come. “Why?”
Instead of answering, she says, “You’re driving.”
“You come and get me. And I have to drive you. In my Jeep. Do you know how often I cart you werewolves around? I should start charging; I waste so much gas on you guys—”
Erica digs her (human!) nails into his wrist. “Get in the car, Stiles.”
“Owowow, okay! Geez.” Stiles looks at her resentfully and yanks the car door open.
Finally, as they’re driving along, Erica explains.
“Derek’s in a bad mood. We want you to calm him down.”
Well, that explained nothing, actually.
“Why me? Derek hates me.”
“No, he doesn’t. Besides, you’re the only one who can.”
Stiles isn’t following. At all. “Uh. How, exactly?”
“Isaac told us about how you stopped him from attacking an Omega the other day.”
“What, the belly rub thing?” Stiles asks in amazement. “Why can’t one of you guys just do it?”
“And get our hands bitten off? No, thank you,” Erica says.
“Oh my god, it’s not that hard, just rub his stupid belly,” Stiles mutters under his breath.
Erica doesn’t respond.
They arrive at the Hale house, and Stiles runs inside after Erica. He’s surprised to see Boyd and Isaac curled up on the ground, Derek standing over them.
“If I was an enemy werewolf, you’d be dead right now,” he tells them, then turns to him and Erica. “Erica! Why did you bring him here?”
“To do us all a favor,” Erica says sweetly, but even Stiles can tell she’s nervous.
“Derek,” he says, stepping forward.
“What’s going on here?” he asks, glancing at the two Betas on the ground. Oh god, are those broken bones? Stiles winces in sympathy.
“Just training,” Derek says.
“Uh-huh. Well, I think maybe it’s time to take a break.” Stiles takes another step towards Derek.
“Then when? They’re not really in any shape to be fighting anymore.”
“They need to learn to protect themselves,” Derek says, voice low.
Something about his tone gives Stiles pause. Oh god, is there a new threat in town? This is so not good for Stiles’s physical or mental health.
“Yes, well,” he says carefully, still coming closer to Derek, “breaks are still good. Helpful, even. I think we could all do with a nice long break, don’t you think?”
His voice has become coaxing, and it’s amazing how Derek seems to crumples as soon as Stiles touches him. Stiles guides them down to the floor this time, daring to slip his hand up Derek’s shirt to feel warm skin instead of shirt.
“Can the Betas have a break, Derek?” he asks.
Derek hesitates, then says, “Fine. A short break.”
“Thank god,” Erica sighs dramatically. “Let’s go, boys.”
The Betas leave, and Derek drops onto his back, giving Stiles easier access to his stomach.
“Jesus, can you stop trying to glare?” Stiles asks, smiling. “Because it’s not working. Just stop denying that you like it. I mean, you don’t actually hate this, do you?”
Derek doesn’t speak for a moment. Finally, he says, “I hate that I like it.”
“Uh, okay. Well, you know what, you should just embrace it.”
“Stiles, just…” He trails off, closing his eyes.
“Hmm? What was that? Rub more?”
Stiles grins. “Are you losing your train of thought? Is that what’s happening here?”
He’s on his knees now, holding himself up with one hand as he rubs Derek’s belly with the other. Derek twists his body, like a giant cat—or a dog, Stiles supposes. Do wolves typically like having their belly rubbed?
“Oh, come on. Embrace it. Don’t deny that part of you that likes having your belly rubbed. Is it embarrassing? Can this be, like, blackmail for life? I mean, Scott already knows, obviously, and your pack, but, wh—”
Derek knocks Stiles’s supporting arm away and Stiles crashes into Derek on the floor. When he opens his mouth to ask what that was for, Derek stretches up and kisses him.
It’s a really short, relatively chaste kiss that still manages to leave Stiles embarrassingly red-faced and stammering. (What? It was also his first kiss and completely unexpected, okay.)
“Uh, I, that, um—”
“What’s the matter? Did you lose your train of thought?” Derek asks, and, okay, maybe Stiles deserved that.
Derek pushes Stiles off of him and sits up. “That’s enough of that.”
Miraculously, words find Stiles again. Except once he starts, he can’t stop. “Wait, enough of what,” he says, “because if it’s belly rubbing, that’s a no. And if it’s kissing, that’s a no, too. Because that wasn’t a one-time thing, right? That’s a thing that’s going to happen again, right? You know, you can’t kiss someone to shut them up if you have no intention of kissing them again later, hopefully with different intentions, ‘cause that’s not—”
Stiles pouts at him. “Kissing me to shut me up is still an option, though. You should keep that in mind for future reference.”
Derek sighs. “Go home, Stiles.”
Stiles rolls his eyes, but he stands up anyway, dusting his pants off for no reason other than to give his hands something to do. “Fine, whatever. But just so you know, you totally stole my first kiss and it was totally underwhelming—” which was a total lie “—so I hope you feel guilty about it when I tell my future children that my first kiss was with a guy who doesn’t even like me.”
He’s almost out the door when Derek says, “Stiles.”
And because Stiles is a hopeless, romantic fool and closet sap, he rushes immediately back to Derek. “Yes?”
“If it was anyone else—I wouldn’t have let anyone else so much as touch me.”
Stiles stares at him, confused, for a minute, and then he gets it. Wow, so the others really would have gotten their hands bitten off, maybe. Whoops.
But that means Derek likes Stiles, which is awesome. Except—
“So, what’s the problem, then?”
“Really? That’s the problem?” Stiles demands, because he likes someone who actually likes him back and just, no. Age cannot be the issue here.
“Your dad’s the sheriff.”
Okay, he has a point there, but still. Stiles feels like there’s something else. Something more serious.
But if Derek kissed him at all despite whatever internal conflict he’s having, then there’s still hope, right?
“If I rub your belly, will you kiss me again?” he tries.
“Come on, Derek! Do you not want to?"
“I want to. But it’s complicated.”
“It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just tell me what’s wrong, and I—”
Derek kisses him again. Suffice it to say, it’s a lot less chaste than their first kiss.
“Another time,” Derek says quietly, “I’ll tell you everything. But you should go home now. Your dad will be home soon.”
“Yeah,” Stiles says, too dazed to do anything but agree, “okay.”
He’s out the door, then back again, because he’s Stiles, and that means he has to ask one more question. Just the one.
“Can I still rub your belly?”