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Theory of Overprotective Canines

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Theory of Overprotective Canines

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice is the low rumble that Stiles has long since gotten used to. It also sounds vaguely disapproving. Stiles is pretty used to that too.

“I know, I know,” Stiles replies putting up a hand before Derek can finish. “I said that there would be an elevator, but I thought there was! How was I to know it’s been broken since the 80s?”

Which is unfortunate since he is on the fourth floor and they have to bring up all his stuff, but he doesn’t have that much stuff. And Scott and Derek arewerewolves so, really, they should not be complaining.

“You cannot live here,” Derek continues, as if Stiles hadn’t spoken.

Stiles blinks.

“Why not?” Behind Derek, Scott is looking around as well. His face also seems to be a bit pinched. “Is there something supernatural? Oh my god, I can’t believe my luck with these things!”

“No,” Derek says. “No, not supernatural but this is… Stiles, this is a terrible part of town.”

Scott nods. Stiles frowns.

“What?”

“He’s right, dude,” Scott says, his voice raising in its worry. “This is… this place is a dump. You do not want to know all the things I am smelling. I’m pretty sure someone died nearby not too long ago.”

“Oh shut up,” Stiles replies, rolling his eyes. “You guys are just too used to Beacon Hills and all the fresh air. This place is nice! It has character!”

More importantly, it’s cheap. His scholarship doesn’t include room and board and he’d taken out a loan last year to pay for Freshman housing, but this year he decided he was done with that strategy. He has a good on-campus job as an IT guy and this place is right in his price range. No more student loans for him. Maybe lots of Ramen or sneaking into the dining halls for free meals, but no loans. He’s taken that one econ class last semester. He knows loans are bad.

“Is it even close to Stanford?” Scott asks. “I’m not sure we’re even in Palo Alto.”

“It’s right next to it!” Stiles says. Both Derek and Scott glare at him. “Sort of. It’s… it’s like an hour walk. But I’m going to ride my bike so that’s okay!”

“What about when it rains?” Derek demands. He looks personally offended by Stiles’ decision-making skills.

Which is just too bad. Not everyone has secret under-school vaults filled with money just lying around. Under the school.

“Then I take ole Roscoe,” he says. “A few of my friends have a place closer to school where I could park her.”

“If she’s not broken down,” Derek mutters.

Stiles wants to grin at him because it’s been four years and he’s finally gotten Derek to call his baby a girl consistently. But, of course, the message had still been insulting. Roscoe does not break down that much. He settles for grinning and then sticking his tongue out. That conveys the message well enough. Derek scowls at him.

“At least it’s California,” Scott sighs. “It like never rains here.”

“That’s my boy, Scotty!” Stiles says, walking over to throw an arm across Scott’s shoulders. “Now, c’mon, let’s go use that werewolf strength of yours to empty this car!”

“Wait, no,” Derek says. “It’s still… it’s not safe, Stiles.”

“And I’m pretty sure this is lead paint,” Scott says, pointing at the wall. Which is peeling a little bit.

Guys,” Stiles says. Honestly, Scott’s Alpha protectivness and Derek’s general disapproval of Stiles’ life is getting out of hand. “We spent high school literally fighting off the forces of darkness and hell. At one point, we were captured by deranged doctor demons. And that was after a round of assassins! I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”

Both werewolves look unimpressed. Scott opens his mouth, doubtless to point out that Stiles had spent the better part of a month in the hospital after the doctor demons performed some type of surgery on him.

And,” he barrels on before either of them can interrupt. “I’m sure it becomes some sort of community bonding thing. And the rent is so cheap, I could afford a second bedroom! That’s a game room, Scott! A room for games!”

“You have a second bedroom?” Derek says. For the first time he sounds like he might calm down about this whole mess.

“Yes,” Stiles says. “So if this is lead paint, I can just hang out in there. Crisis averted. Now let’s-”

“Perfect,” Derek interrupts. “I’m moving in.”

“What?”

“Dude, would you?” Scott says and he’s beaming. Scott is beaming. Why would Scott be beaming right now?

“Yes,” Derek says, looking towards Scott. As if Scott is the one whose permission he needs. “If that’s okay.”

“That would be great!” Scott replies. “I know I wouldn’t worry about Stiles as much if you were here.”

“I can clean up this place, too,” Derek offers and, mother of pearl, he’s already looking around as if cataloging all the changes he’s going to make. “And install air conditioning.”

“We’ll unpack Stiles’ stuff and then drive back and get yours,” Scott says.

“Hey!” Stiles tries. “Hey, wait a minute!”

Both of his friends look at him as if just remembering he is there. He needs new friends.

Stiles focuses his glare on Scott. Derek can be forgiven for overstepping his boundaries because that’s what Derek does. Their friendship is based on Derek stalking them from the woods and barging into Stiles’ bedroom whenever necessary. Even four years of personal growth can’t take that level of creeper away. Last year, Derek had texted him at least once a day to make sure he was still safe. Honestly, Stiles is surprised he hasn’t tried to move in sooner.

But, Scott, Scott should know better. Scott should recall Stiles’ professed excitement about living on his own and his wish to decorate his entire apartment with Star Wars posters and, most importantly, Scott should recall the totallyridiculous crush that Stiles has on Derek and should not allow Derek to move in with him!

“I don’t need anyone to move in with me,” Stiles says. “Scott, remember what wetalked about, when I said I was totally excited to live alone this year? Remember that?”

He’s trying with his eyes to convey that really Scott should be remembering the crush that every so often consumes his life. But, Scott is Scott and as such, completely misses the point.

“Stiles,” Scott says and it sounds like the boy is trying to be comforting. “I’m a werewolf, remember? I could hear that you were totally lying during that whole speech. You don’t want to live alone. And last year, you were pretty miserable being so far away from the pack.”

Sometimes Stiles wants to beat Scott with a baseball bat. Not too much and, obviously, Scott would recover quickly but…

After that, it all happens too quickly. Stiles protests, trying in vain to get Derek to see that he has a life in Beacon Hills, a life that he can’t just abandon, but Derek is quick to point out that actually he works from home and as long as he’s near pack, he is home and Stiles is pack.

(Stiles doesn’t blush at that. He doesn’t.)

Meanwhile, Scott is there nodding along and throwing his Alpha authority onDerek’s side and, when they call, even his own father seems relieved that Derek is moving in and isn’t Stiles supposed to be an adult now? An adult who is capable of making his own living situation decisions?

And he does not want this.

Okay, yes, maybe he had lied and told Scott that he was over his unattainable crush on Derek Hale and, yes, maybe he had tried to convince himself that he no longer wanted to trace the lines of Derek Hale’s abs with his tongue, but he never expected to be living with the guy.

They are friends now! Derek sometimes smiles at Stiles’ antics and his eye rolls are almost completely fond and Stiles can’t ruin this.

He won’t.

He just has to focus.

He tells himself that all day. Scott and Derek move his stuff in and then are gone in an instant, promising to return the next day with Derek’s things. Derek glares at every inch of the apartment as he leaves; Scott tells him to lock the door.

He tells himself that when he wakes up too, when Derek and Scott return with Derek’s things (aka like two suitcases full of jeans and henleys), when they all head out to the nearest Ikea and then (after getting briefly lost in Ikea), spend the next five hours putting everything together.

He just has to focus on the facts. He and Derek are good friends, they will always be good friends, and they will always only be good friends. Stiles is a mature adult. Crushes are stupid.

He just has to not look when Derek walks down their short hall wearing nothing but a towel and covers his ears when Derek starts humming in the shower and not think about Derek taking a goddamn shower. With the hot water. And the steam. And the soup and bubbles and-

Holy shit, is he going to take a shower every night? Because Stiles may not survive this. He’s already hiding in his room, vainly telling himself that his crush is not going to grow back, and that, even if it does, it’s just a crush, not feelings, never feelings and-

Well, Derek has just started singing. Derek sings in the shower.

He’s going to die.

And this is just the first night.

*^*^

Luckily, there is school.

Scott’s argument that Stiles was not looking forward to living alone and had very much missed the pack may actually be a little bit valid. At least, Stiles had arranged to move in only two days before classes started. Read into that what you will.

Though, it works out for him because after the disastrous first night of Derek singing, Stiles gets to get up and head to school.

Beautiful school. Where there are classes to go to and friends to see (yes, he did make friends last year) and then he has to check in with his job and it’s all good. He is feeling confident.

Then he comes home to find Derek cleaning their kitchen.

He’s wearing rubber gloves. The yellow kind.

“Dude,” Stiles says, grinning despite himself. “What are you doing?”

“Cleaning the kitchen,” Derek says. He raises one eyebrow as if Stiles is the strange one. “I’m not cooking in this until every inch of it is cleaned. Twice.”

“But why the gloves?” Stiles says, throwing his bag down. “You know the bleach won’t affect your hands, right? You’re a werewolf, Derbear.”

Derek glares at him. It’s not as spectacular as it used to be. Stiles has become immune.

“Obviously,” he grumbles. Then doesn’t say anymore.

“So, why-”

“Just because I’m a werewolf doesn’t mean I want to touch this mold, Stiles.”

Stiles laughs for a good ten minutes. He laughs until Derek starts throwing disgusting paper towels at him and then he screams, runs away, and calls for a pizza.

*^*^*^

As August turns into September, they both continue their respective quests.

Derek’s quest seems to be turning their dump of an apartment into something liveable. While Stiles is at school or work, he cleans everything, hooks up air conditioning, repaints all the rooms, and rearranges the furniture twice.

Stiles insists on helping to decorate. By which he means, he pulls out the plethora of posters he had been stockpiling for just this occasion and then he and Derek get in a three hour yelling match about whether or not posters are an acceptable form of decoration.

(They compromise. Derek picks two posters that they hang in the living room and Stiles puts the rest in his room.)

Stiles’ quest is simple: Avoid falling in love with Derek.

He fails his first quest.

Chiefly because it’s likely that he’s been in love with Derek for years. He doesn’t like to admit it and certainly doesn’t like to think about it, but he hasn’t dated anyone since Malia and despite all the coming-of-age movies that told him he was supposed to spend Freshman year of college hooking up with a long line of random, attractive strangers, he hadn’t done that at all. He just… it just didn’t feel right.

He likes girls, he just didn’t want to kiss any of them, didn’t feel like bending down to catch their lips with his own when in his gut, he wanted to tilt his face slightly upwards. But then going after boys was even worse because none of the boys he found were the boy he wanted and so-

So, he just became a perpetual wingman. He went to parties and scanned the room for his friends rather than himself and was careful not to drink too much because the one time that happened, he ended up calling Scott and going on a truly epic ramble about how much he hated his brain and how stupid werewolves are and how he will most likely die alone. Luckily, all of this was largely unintelligible so Scott didn’t make too many connections.

And he also fails his first quest because living with Derek is… it’s fuckingamazing.

His quest would have been so much easier if Derek turned out to be annoying or selfish or rude. But that’s not the case. Derek does get up freakishly early to go for a run, but he moves silently so as not to wake Stiles and puts on the water for tea as he leaves. So Stiles always wakes up with tea waiting for him. Derek cooks on the days Stiles has late classes or work and then cleans on the days when Stiles’ cooks. Derek listens when Stiles comes home ranting about his professors and agrees that 99% of Stiles’ classmates are douches and even arguing with Derek is more fun than Stiles has with almost anybody else.

It really shouldn’t be so much fun to argue with someone. But it is. They always end up laughing – at least, Stiles laughs and Derek scowls to keep from laughing – and it’s just… it’s just awesome.

Stiles loves living with Derek. Really, Stiles loves Derek.

So as September continues, he focuses on a new quest: Don’t let Derek knowhe is in love with him.

Surprisingly, that goes much better than his first quest. He stops denying it but stops focusing on it and gradually, it becomes a small, quiet secret that he can keep to himself.

*^*^*^

Their peaceful routine is disrupted on the last Wednesday of September.

Stiles is walking home because his bike popped a tire and his phone died before he could call Derek to pick him up. And he’s particularly annoyed because now it’s almost eleven o’clock and he skipped dinner in favor of eating it with Derek but Derek probably will have already eaten and-

He doesn’t even really notice when a man is suddenly standing in his way. His eyes are on the ground anyway and he actually apologizes as he goes to move around when-

“Give me your wallet.”

Stiles blinks. He’s fifteen minutes from home. This can’t happen here. He’s so close.

“Did you hear me? Give me your wallet!”

From all appearances, it’s just a man. A tall, white male who seems older but notold and… wait, is this happening?

“Dude,” Stiles says. “I’m a student. There is nothing in my wallet.”

“Shut up. Just give it to me. Or else I’ll-”

Stiles can’t help it. He laughs. He laughs because he literally has two dollars in his wallet and he had faced down a pack of crazy alpha werewolves and he also used to be possessed by a thousand year old demon and this man thinks Stiles should be scared of him and the little knife he appears to be waving.

Looking back, laughing was a bad idea.

Stiles gets punched hard across the face, kicked in the stomach, and his wallet and phone get stolen as he lies there groaning.

Joke’s on the bad guy though. He doesn’t take Stiles’ books or his bike, which is worth much more than the wallet and phone combined. And the guy hit his cheekbone instead of his nose. Stiles is putting this one in the win column.

“Stiles!” Derek barks as he pushes the door open. “Why haven’t you been answering my- what happened?

“Hey, buddy,” Stiles says, going for a hopeful smile. His head sort of hurts. He doesn’t need Derek to freak out right now. “How was your day?”

Stiles.

“Alright, alright,” Stiles says, groaning a little when Derek lifts his arm and loops it over his shoulder. “I got just a little bit mugged on the way home.”

“A little bit mugged.” Derek’s voice is flat.

“They didn’t take my bike!” Stiles explains. “Though, I have a flat tire, so maybe that’s why.”

Derek looks unimpressed with his definition. Probably because Stiles’ cheekbone is split open and still bleeding a little bit. Stupid mugger.

Derek dumps him on the couch and then leaves. And returns with a first aid kit that Stiles is almost positive he didn’t bring. Then Derek pulls out some hydrogen peroxide and Stiles knows he didn’t bring that.

“No!” he says, struggling to sit up and away. “Not the fizzing liquid of death!”

“Oh c’mon,” Derek says. “It’s not that bad!”

“Derek, you have literally never had to use that in your life,” Stiles points out. “How would you know? It stings!”

“Some being such a baby,” Derek says, pouring a large amount of it onto a towel. “Here.”

He drags Stiles’ arm away with his face with one hand and then presses the towel to Stiles’ cheek with the other. Stiles whines automatically and then realizes abruptly that there is no stinging.

He looks down. Derek’s veins are running black. Stiles is unimpressed.

“Dude,” he mutters, trying to pull his hand away and failing. “I was just joking. You don’t have to-”

“Your ribs are hurt too,” Derek mutters, more to himself than Stiles. “Why didn’t you tell me that?”

“I literally just got here!” Stiles protests as much as he can with a towel covering half his mouth. “You didn’t let me tell you anything!”

Derek glares. Predictably.

“Where else are you hurt?”

“Nowhere! Honest!”

“Who did this to you?”

“I have no idea,” Stiles replies, grumbling a little at the admission. It all seems a bit silly. That he was taken out by just a regular dude. Silly and more than a bit embarrassing. “Just some random guy, Derek. Nothing supernatural about it.”

He suddenly very much doesn’t feel like talking about this.

“I told you this would happen!” Derek replies, not moving from his spot in front of Stiles. “This area is terrible!”

“Oh, it happened once,” Stiles says, shrugging and then regretting it. Turns out he landed on his shoulder pretty hard too. “And, really, what are the odds of it happening again?”

“We’re not going to find out,” Derek says, nodding to himself. “I’m going with you.”

“Derek, you can’t just walk around with me everywhere,” Stiles says, leaning forward to stand up. It’s time to take a shower. Take a shower and go to sleep and try not to think about what all his college friends are going to say when they see him like this. He’s pretty sure half of them already think he is abused at home given how injured he gets when he heads back to fight the creatures of darkness. And he does have more than his fair share of wicked scars. “It would be weird. And creepy. Remember, we talked about this?”

Stiles doesn’t wait around for Derek to argue with him.

“Don’t worry so much, dude,” he says, ignoring Derek’s glare of defiance. “Not gonna happen again.”

*^*^*^

The next morning, Stiles wakes up and vows to fix his bike as soon as possible. Because humans are not meant to be awake before eight am. They just aren’t. Especially when they are stuck with an impressive black eye and a huge bruise on their chest. He is not in a great mood but then he walks out of his room to find his wallet and phone on the kitchen counter. He smirks. Werewolf powers of scent are good for something at least. He hopes Derek didn’t kill the guy.

Aside from that, everything seems normal. His water is hot for tea and Derek had picked up fresh strawberries so he pops a few of those in his mouth and he’s already to go when-

There’s a wolf sitting at the door. A large, completely black, oddly calm, regal-looking wolf at the door.

“Derek, no,” Stiles says, backing away. “You are not doing this. Absolutely not.”

Derek doesn’t move.

“Seriously,” Stiles says, even as he double checks he has his keys. He really does have to get moving if he’s going to make his 9am class. “You are not coming to class with me.”

Stiles walks over. Derek stands.

“I don’t care if you think it’s not safe,” Stiles continues. “Or if you think you’ve found a socially acceptable way of walking with me. It’s not acceptable because you are not actually a dog.”

Derek huffs a little in impatience.

“You don’t even look like a dog, Derek,” Stiles says. “You are a wolf. You are obviously a wolf and people are going to notice that and I cannot bring a wolf to Stanford.”

Stiles is pretty sure Derek’s favorite part of being a wolf is that he can’t be expected to verbally answer any questions. He can get away with simply blinking his big ole’ wolf eyes and relying on the fact that Stiles will figure out what he means.

“People bring their little dogs,” Stiles tells him. “And they are on leashes! With collars! Are you going to wear a collar? Huh? Are you?”

Derek lets out a little growl.

“That’s right, I didn’t think so,” Stiles grins. “So you can’t come. Goodbye, Derek. I will see you when I get home.”

Stiles opens the door and tries, as he would with a regular dog, to inch his body through the smallest opening possible so that Derek can’t get out. Derek appears unimpressed.

“Stay!” Stiles tries and then he’s getting bowled over completely. He huffs and makes a point to grumble loudly about his horrific rib injury but Derek is already heading down the steps. Completely unrepentant.

Derek is the worst.

“This is so dumb,” Stiles tells him as he catches up and they begin walking. Derek sticks by his side, glaring around at their surroundings as if he believes someone is going to pop out and try to mug them right now. Even though it is eight o’clock in the morning. “What are you going to do all day? Are you going to come back home? Because you probably can’t. You’ll be picked up by the pound. The dog catchers. Like the ones from Lady and the Tramp.”

Derek finally looks up at him for that one. And then his head tilts in the universal dog language for confusion.

“Oh my god,” Stiles says. “You’ve never seen Lady and the Tramp? What iswrong with you? We’ll watch it tonight.”

Derek yips.

“I’m sure it’s on Netflix, Derek,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “We won’t have to illegally download it. Though for the record, that is a ridiculous standard and I can’t believe you are forcing us to pay ten dollars a month just to remain entertained.”

Derek puts his attention forward once more but angles his tail so that it whacks Stiles in the shin.

“Yes, I know that technically you’re the one paying, but still! It’s the principle of the thing, Derek! The principle!”

*^*^*^

After a brief fifteen minute argument about the morality of illegal streaming (in which Derek is able to articulate all his points surprisingly well for being currently in canine form), Stiles manages to refocus on all the problems that are doubtless to arise with Derek’s plan.

His basic thesis remains the same: namely, Derek is a wolf. Derek will be taken to the pound. And Derek will be unable to transform back into a person because Full-Shift Derek means a Naked-Derek upon return to his human state and a naked person running around Stanford is even less acceptable than a wolf running around Stanford.

Derek, predictably, ignores him.

Even when they are on Stanford’s campus, Derek doesn’t turn around and go back. No, he walks right on next to Stiles until they hit his lecture hall and only the fact that it’s too early for people to really be awake and processing the scene in front of them keeps Stiles from looking like a total idiot as he yells at his dog to go home.

“I have work until seven tonight,” Stiles hisses at Derek. The wolf is sitting on the steps calmly. “Now, get out of here! Before they call animal control. I am not picking you up from the puppy jail!”

And then he heads into his lecture and hopes that that is the end of it.

That is not the end of it.

Because when he exits his class, an hour and a half later, Derek is sitting there. Waiting for him.

Derek appears to be staring up at the kids that come pouring out of his classroom, ears forward and alert and Stiles spots him first, so he sees when Derek catches sight of him.

Even if he hadn’t seen, it would have been pretty hard to miss the sudden exclamations of people being practically knocked over as an overly large wolfpads his way to Stiles’ side.

“Holy shit, Stilinski! Is that your dog?”

Stiles winces. It had to be Geoff. Nice dude, but entirely too loud and personable to be a computer science major. Everyone likes Geoff. Which means the entire campus is going to know about this by the end of the day.

“Um,” he says. Derek sits down next to him. “Um, well, not really.”

Geoff blinks at him.

“He looks like he belongs to you. Also he kind of looks like a wolf. Or is it a girl?”

Stiles is tempted. Sorely tempted. Maybe more tempted than he has ever been in his life.

Derek must sense it because a low growl starts in the back of his throat.

“A boy,” Stiles says. “And he’s, uh, part husky I think? And maybe part wolf? I don’t know.”

Geoff is looking at him a bit strangely now. Dammit, Stiles had told Derek this was going to happen.

“We found him,” Stiles continues quickly. “In a dumpster. All sickly and gross. He was going to be a police dog but he failed the training.” Derek growls again. “Because he’s too-” Geoff is bending down now. Ready to start petting. Something Derek never allows when he’s in wolf form. “Too aggressive.” Stiles finishes. Geoff snatches his hand back.

Derek so owes him for this.

“But, he’s still really well trained,” Stiles adds. He’s well aware he sounds like a crazy person. “So my Dad gave him to me since I’m living alone this year.”

“Oh,” Geoff sounds a little confused. “Is it safe for him to be not on a leash if he’s too aggressive to be a police dog?”

“Oh yeah,” Stiles says. “He’s, uh, he’s not like going to attack or anything. He just… takes a little while to get used to people. Afraid of crowds and all.”

“Aww, that’s okay, buddy,” Geoff says, bending down again. Derek looks distinctly unimpressed. “Just a little shy, aren’tcha?”

“Yes,” Stiles says. “Very.”

“What’s his name?”

Stiles flounders. He opens his mouth to just say Derek but then remembers that a few people around campus know Derek as Stiles’ friend from back home and they’ve never met him but if they ever come over to his house, they will because Derek is his roommate and-

“Uh, Mi-” Derek barks. Okay, so he’s done with the Miguel codename. Good to know.

God, he has already taken too long to answer this question.

“Sourwolf,” Stiles blurts. Derek looks up to glare at him and Stiles glares right back. This entire ridiculous situation is Derek’s fault in the first place. He’s lucky Stiles didn’t name him fluffy at this point. Or Snoopy. Or Balto.

Actually, Blato would have been pretty good now that he’s thinking about it.

“Cool,” Geoff says. “Well, I’ve got to get to my next class. But he’s adorable! You should bring him around more often. Does he know how to fetch?”

“Of course,” Stiles says, smirking a little. “It’s his favorite.”

He’s not even lying. Derek loves playing catch in wolf form, even if he claims it’s “training.”

“Awesome! We gotta do that sometime!”

“Sure thing!” Stiles says and then thankfully, Geoff bustles off. By this point, more people are looking. Regular dogs on college campuses get an inordinate amount of attention. A freaking wolf is going to draw more than a few looks.

“I cannot believe you,” Stiles mutters, striding away quickly. He then has to change course as he realizes he’s heading in the wrong direction. “Derek, you have to go home. You have a job!”

Derek looks up and blinks at him. Okay, so Derek’s “job” was some mysterious movement of money that he did from his computer and that Stiles suspected only took him a few minutes each day. But still… he must fill his days somehow.

“I hate you,” Stiles says and leaves it at that. People are starting to stare and he has to focus on repeating the same story a thousand times and-

It’s just one day.

Derek will give up eventually.

*^*^*^

Derek does not give up.

Not that day, not the next day, and not the next week.

By the week after that, people have stopped asking questions. Everyone seems to know that Stiles has a dog that looks sort of like a wolf (but wolves are grey, not black so it must be at least part dog, at least that’s what Stiles says loudly and often to anyone who mentions it.) Luckily, everyone also seems to have received the message that ‘Sourwolf’ is shy and doesn’t like to be pet too often. So that’s good.

But it’s still not good because Stiles keeps expecting Derek to give up. And he’s not.

In fact, Derek’s presence by Stiles’ side is becoming a thing.

It’s becoming Stiles’ thing. Like that guy around campus who is known for wearing a cowboy hat or the girl who roller-skates to every class. And in the hallway.

Stiles is becoming “Kid with the huge freaking dog. Who is shy. But very well trained.”

He does not approve.

He had plans to be something cool like, “Kid with the awesome Jeep.” Or “Kid whose oddly muscular when you get close.” Or even, “Kid with the banging hot boyfriend back home.” (Okay, so that last one was back when he was half-hoping to have a chance with Derek.)

Barring all those possibilities, he was content to be no one. Just a regular Stanford student. Going to Stanford. Not the loser, not the sarcastic spaz, not the sheriff’s son who always seems to be at all the crime scenes.

Derek had to go and take his chances at obscurity away from him. In fact, Derek is turning into something of a celebrity.

It starts with his Psychology of Criminals professor. Stiles is busy locking up his bike and Derek is panting next to him so Stiles misses when Professor Stevenson offers Derek a hand to sniff, which Derek ignores.

“Very interesting dog you have there, Stilinski,” Stevenson says, a note of question in his voice.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, Professor,” Stiles says, straightening and stepping so he knocks into Derek. He had told Derek that he had to start acting more dog-like. He doesn’t care if Derek is uninterested in smelling everyone’s disgusting hands, he’s got to do it. Sitting there, smugly looking around at the student population is not how regular dogs act. “A little shy around new people. Okay, stay, Sourwolf. Sta-ay.”

He drags out the command, going so far as to put one hand up. More than one of his friends had noted aloud how he never seemed to need to give verbal commands. They have to start being more careful. His fumbled explanation of discreet hand signals hadn’t seemed very believable.

“He must be very well behaved,” Stevenson remarks. “No collar or leash or anything?”

“Nope,” Stiles says, rubbing the back of his neck in what he hopes looks bashful instead of suspicious. It had to be his criminology professor. “Police-trained.”

“Well, if he’s that well-trained than he is welcome to come in,” Stevenson says. “It’s quite hot out here for a dog. I have three of my own.”

Derek is already standing and heading for the door. He looks entirely self-satisfied.

“Come on then,” Stiles says anyway.

And that’s how Derek starts attending classes.

Stiles certainly doesn’t mention it to his other professors but the other students think it’s the coolest thing in the world (especially when Derek hops up in a seat next to Stiles and sits completely still as if listening to the lecture the entire time.) So, word gets around that Derek is the perfectly behaved dog and it’s a college campus so, of course, that’s just the right level of weird. So the other professors are quickly informed.

The other professors find out and Derek is let in to classes and for a while, the library holds out but then Derek sneaks in somehow and proves himself to be very silent and they give in. People start bringing treats in for him, and Derek refuses all of them, obviously, so Stiles has to admit that Derek only eats people-food and suddenly people are bringing him their leftovers and sneaking him food out of the cafeteria. And it should make him less popular, that Derek still refuses to eat over half of what anyone brings him but it doesn’t. If anything, Derek’s snobbishness just adds to his charm.

It becomes widely known that ‘Sourwolf’ is amazing at fetch,  if you manage to catch him in the rare mood when he decides to play and so people start bringing Frisbees and tennis balls with them, just in case. It becomes something of a challenge to try to figure out how exactly Stiles commands Derek to do anything because basic verbal commands don’t work and the rumor is that Stiles has taught Derek sign language. And, luckily, it also becomes common knowledge that Sourwolf is shy, never licks people, and doesn’t like to be touched. So, it is considered the greatest honor of them all if he decides to let you pet him, even once.

It’s all ridiculous. It’s ridiculous and Stiles should be furious and he should hate it except… except he doesn’t.

Because his walk to and from school is a lot more exciting now that he is trying to bike faster and faster to get Derek to admit that bikes are better than werewolves. And obviously, he can’t talk to Derek during class but Derek does pay attention and so their dinners become grand debates over the lectures. He knows Derek isn’t even listening as he sits and works on computers all night, but he talks to him all the same and it makes the hours go by faster. It’s even better on the nights when there’s no computers to fix and they can just sit and play chess while they wait for calls.

And, okay, yes, fine, he does feel a little bit safer coming home alone at night with Derek there.

Not that he didn’t feel safe before. He just… It’s just nice! And it’s stupid, but it’s even nice when Derek plops on the grass next to him and sits just close enough that it’s obvious Stiles is the only one who’s allowed to touch him. It’s nice when Stiles reaches out and pats Derek on the shoulder as they sit and Derek doesn’t react except to slide further into sleep.

He means to keep protesting but he doesn’t and the days when Derek does stay home to do work, he finds that he misses him.

*^*^*^

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, Stiles is in real trouble.

And by trouble, he means, in deep, deep love.

God, he didn’t think it was possible for him to fall anymore in love with Derek but he’s managed it.

Because Derek still makes a point to flinch or growl when anyone else goes to pet him, but sitting close enough that Stiles can reach out and touch him has become commonplace. Because when Stiles lays down to grab a quick twenty minute nap between classes, Derek now lets him use his werewolf tummy as apillow and barks when twenty minutes are up. Because one time, Stiles had woken up an hour later, groggy and confused to see that Derek had passed out as well.

And then, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, there is a mother and young child on campus, probably picking someone up a day early for break. And as Stiles and Derek come out of their last class, Stiles is so focused on texting Scott their ETA that he doesn’t think that for most small children dog means plaything.

He looks up when someone else shouts: “No! He’s not friendly!” and the first person he sees is the mother, an expression of horror crossing her face but it’s too late because the little girl has already launched herself at Derek.

Obviously, Stiles knows that Sourwolf may have a reputation for being weird about touching, but he’s Derek and obviously, Derek is not going to maim a child, but…

But still something in his heart melts when the little girl hits Derek hard enough that he is forced a few steps back before plopping down on his haunches. She must be around four or five and is still shorter than him. She has her tiny arms wrapped around him and is jumping up and down screaming doggie and Derek has gone perfectly still. Even as a dog, he looks entirely overwhelmed and uncertain as to how to proceed in this situation.

“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!” the mother says, rushing over. “Michelle, no, stop that!”

Stiles doesn’t say anything. His insides are too warm and gooey. It’s too cute. Derek as a wolf, with children might be his newest obsession. He’s going to die.

“He’s not usually okay with being touched…” a voice on Stiles’ left says. It’s Cindy. She sounds amazed. The spectacle has attracted more than a few stares. Derek is something of a celebrity. And the scene is too heartwarming.

“Michelle, I’ve told you!” the mother tells her daughter, dragging her away. Derek is still just sitting there. His tail isn’t wagging but he remains seated. “You can’t just jump on strange dogs! Some of them are mean!”

“It’s- it’s okay,” Stiles manages. “He’s not mean! But, uh, your mom’s right. You really should ask people first.”

“The nice man is right,” the mother says. “You have to ask. You have to say ‘May I please pet your dog?’”

“Oh,” the girl- Michelle- frowns as if considering. Then, “Can I pet your dog? Please?”

Stiles glances down. Derek is looking up at him and Stiles tries to read the answer in his gaze, but Derek seems to be willing to do whatever Stiles wants. And, really, Stiles wants to say that Derek’s favorite activity is to be ridden like a horse and, yes, please, little girl, feel free to hug him and yank on his fur all you like. But, of course, Derek is pretty sensitive to being treated like a dog and just because he’s willing doesn’t mean he wants to so…

“He’s a little nervous around people,” Stiles says, reaching for his bookbag. “But, he actually loves fetch. How good are you at throwing things? He’ll bring it right back and everything.”

Luckily, he has a tennis ball at the bottom of his bag and so right as Michelle’s face starts to fall, fetch clearly not a good enough replacement for snuggles, Stiles gets it out and presents it to her.

She continues to look unimpressed.

“Here,” Stiles says, smiling it what he hopes is an encouraging manner. “Watch.”

He tosses the ball towards the middle of the quad, making it high enough that Derek has time to run and leap up to grab it without it bouncing. It’s impressive.

Michelle’s face goes from disappointed to delighted in two seconds. She grins even wider when Derek returns and presents the ball to her instead of Stiles.

Stiles dies inside all over again. Continues to do so as Michelle plays fetch with Derek for a few minutes and then she asks if Derek can do tricks and Stiles tells her he knows some but she is welcome to try to teach him some more and then-

Well, then Michelle “trains” Derek to sit, stay, and come, shake paws, and roll over and Stiles sees more than a few people taking video and he is going to have to get a copy of those later because a four year old girl firmly explaining to Derek that all dogs have to know how to play dead is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him.

And then, Michelle opens her arms for a hug as she and her mom have to leave and Derek walks into the hug and nuzzles her shoulder – just a little bit, but still! There is nuzzling and-

“What was I supposed to do?” Derek grumbles as they sit in the car and Stiles starts gushing about what a puppy he is. “Mangle a four year old girl?”

“You could have at least pretended to not be such a huge softie!”

“She would have cried, Stiles!” Derek says. “I wasn’t going to make her cry!”

“I can’t wait to tell the others,” Stiles says. “Derek Hale, mighty werewolf, master of the long forgotten werewolf art of full transformation, taught to shake both the left and right paw by a four year old!”

“You better not,” Derek says. “Not one word.”

“Too late,” Stiles says. “I already sent the pack a Snapchat of you rolling over on command.”

“I hate you.”

“Dude, you spent twenty minutes playing hide and seek with a four year old. That isn’t even a little bit scary anymore.”

*^*^*^

Thanksgiving is not relaxing, not with an entire werewolf pack crowding into the McCall’s kitchen and the overexcitement that colors all werewolf reunions. Stiles gets hugged by Scott at least five times, Liam three times, and even Lydia offers him a quick kiss and a warm pat on the shoulder. And this is all within the first ten minutes. Kira gets so excited the lights start flickering.

Still, it’s wonderful and warm and Stiles feels more at peace than he ever does at Stanford.

At least, he does until everyone leaves to go to their respective homes and Scott pulls him up to his room.

What follows is one of the most intense interrogations of Scott and Stiles’ friendship. By that, Stiles means that it goes something like this:

Scott raises his eyebrows. Stiles attempts to look innocent. Scott tilts his head. Stiles suggests that they play some Mario Cart since Derek is too terrible to even bother playing. Stiles blushes because he hadn’t meant to mention Derek at all.

Scott nods agreeably but makes no move to set up the TV. Stiles clenches his jaw to stop from rambling.

Dude,” Scott says and then there’s puppy dog eyes and that’s it.

Stiles folds like a cheap suit. Like he always does when it comes to spilling his feelings to Scott.

The whole truth of it comes out. From the crush that never really went away, no matter what he claimed previously, to the singing in shower to the domestic bliss, to how Stiles even forgave Derek when he refused to let Stiles paint one of the walls of their apartment black with the yellow Star Wars logo, to how Derek confessed that he was afraid of Yoda as a kid and how Stiles thought that wasadorable. Scott already knows that Derek comes to school with Stiles usually, but the reason comes out and the fact that Derek is a celebrity and the fact that Stiles loves it and loves Derek and-

“And, dude, the muscles he gains while being a dog like transfer when he’s a human and so Scott, he’s like… his body… I can’t even, man. I just can’t. Him taking his shirt off should be like a crime.”

“This is awesome, bro!” Scott says, practically squirming with excitement. “When are you gonna tell him?”

“Or he should at least give some- tell him?! Scott! No! I’m never gonna tell him. Don’t be crazy!”

“But- you just said-” Scott says.

“Scott, we’re roommates. Roommates do not tell each other about their weird crushes on each other. That’s not allowed.”

“But, you said you love him,” Scott insists. “You… you have to tell him!”

“People do not go around telling people that they are in love with them,” Stiles insists. Since Scott isn’t going to do it, he stands up to turn on the TV and pull out the controller. “That’s not real life.”

Scott continues to frown, doubtless because his life is like that. Scott sends puppy eyes at a girl, girl automatically falls in love. Well, how could they not? Scott is the most loveable bro on the planet. Stiles is sarcastic and rude and, if Derek is to be believed, ruins everything he eats by putting entirely too much salt on it. And it’s Derek. And he’s Stiles.

Scott is silent for a time, mulling it over.

“Well… are you sure you should be living with him?” he muses, jaw going even more uneven and his mouth twists.

Stiles frowns. There’s no way he’s giving up living with Derek. No way.

“Of course not. It’s not like I’m pining,” he tells Scott, pretty sure he’s lying. “I’ll get over it.”

He’s almost positive he’s lying about that too, but he can’t find a point in setting the record straight.

*^*^*^

As usual, admitting his feelings aloud does not help keep a lid on his everlasting love but luckily, the three weeks before Christmas break are busy enough that he manages. There’s exams to study for and presents to buy and an argument that spans over three days as to whether it is “worth it” to decorate the apartment for Christmas.

(In the end, Derek lets Stiles put up Christmas lights but flat out refuses to get a tree. Stiles sneaks in a little fake one from Target anyway. Derek ends up buying ornaments. And putting his presents underneath first.)

When Stiles studies in the library, Derek goes full-wolf and curls up by his feet, occasionally biting Stiles’ ankles when it’s time to eat. When Stiles studies at the apartment, Derek quizzes his, reclining on the couch while Stiles paces around the room spouting facts. Derek makes dinner, nods along when Stiles goes on rants that grades are a social construct that don’t matter, and then pulls a blanket over him when Stiles passes out on the couch after studying for hours anyway.

“It’s going to be weird not seeing you as Sourwolf every day,” Stiles comments as he dismounts his bike at the apartment after his last exam. Derek hadn’t been allowed in the examination room, but he’d waited outside so they could go home together. Even though it was only 3pm in the afternoon and no one is going to mug a dude on his bike. Stiles is pretty sure it’s impossible.

Stiles isn’t sure how he does it, but Derek looks pleased.

“Do you want to stay shifted and stick your head out of the window on the drive back?” Stiles asks, only semi-seriously.

Derek hip-checks him hard enough that Stiles stumbles over, laughing.

And then he laughs harder when Derek does try it for a good half hour.

*^*^*^

Break goes by quickly. He hangs out with his dad at the station and Scott at Deaton’s and one night when his dad is working and Scott is at Kira’s, he shows up at Derek’s doorstep.

“You’ve got me too spoiled,” he says as Derek opens the door, hoping he sounds casual instead of desperate. “I need someone to listen to my rambles these days.”

“I’m never actually listening to you,” Derek says as he steps back to let Stiles in. “You’re delusional.”

“You miss me,” Stiles says, flopping onto the couch.

“Like I said,” Derek mutters. “Delusional.”

*^*^*^

Returning to Stanford in January isn’t nearly so bad as it was last year. Primarily because going back to school means going back to living with Derek, but also because the start of the next semester means the return of Sabrina.

Sabrina is by far Stiles’ favorite of his Stanford friends. She’d been studying abroad last semester and is notoriously bad at keeping in communication but had managed to e-mail him demanding that he take one English class with her and so she should be-

“STILES!” Her voice is loud and piercing and, next to him, Derek’s whole body goes tense, and then Sabrina is tackling him.

Luckily, she’s all but 5 foot nothing and only weighs over a hundred pounds when her mess of dark hair is wet, so Stiles doesn’t have a problem staying on his feet.

“Sab!” He says, recovering enough to get his arms around her and lift her in the air. “How are you?”

“Much better, now that I’ve been reunited with you,” she says, kicking him as she puts him down. “I’ve been destitute without you, my prince.”

Stiles laughs. Sabrina has been declaring her love for him since the first night they met at a Freshman mixer. Sabrina declares her love to all her friends. To Stiles’ knowledge, she’s never actually dated anyone.

“Of course,” he replies. “I’ve spent many a night pining myself.”

“Naturally,” she says, nodding. “Is this the semester we’re finally going to get together?”

“Hopefully,” Stiles replies. “If the-”

He cuts off because there is a noise coming from-

Derek is growling. And not quietly, not the small rumble of unhappiness he does for Stiles’ ears only when one too many people are speaking to him in baby voices. He’s growling loud enough that Sabrina frowns and jumps back and a few other people look and-

Stiles tenses instinctively, positive that something must be wrong. There is no other reason for Derek to be growling like that. He glances around for the threat, his hand drifting towards the knife he keeps on him at all times and-

He doesn’t see anything and so he looks back down and Derek’s eyes are locked on Sabrina.

“Stiles,” Sabrina says softly. “I heard about your dog but… but did you get one of those dogs that hates black people?”

“What? No!” Stiles says. He rams his hip into Derek. Hard. “I don’t know why he- Dude!”

Luckily, the motion seems to jar some sense into Derek. At least, he blinks, shakes himself, and stops growling.

“I’m sorry,” he says, glaring down at Derek. “He’s- he’s bad with new people, but he’s not- he would never hurt anyone.”

Sabrina still doesn’t look comfortable. Stiles doesn’t blame her. Derek had been showing fangs a second ago. And he’s still staring at her as if he doesn’t particularly like her.

Stiles knocks into his side again until Derek looks up at him.

“Sit,” he commands. Derek doesn’t get to complain about this later either, not after he was freaking rude to Stiles’ Stanford best friend. Some of his annoyance must show in his glare because Derek sits back instantly. “Now stop being a dick.”

Luckily, that seems to do the trick. Sabrina laughs and bends down to say hello and-

“Maybe it’s ‘cause I sort of attacked you,” she says, offering a hand that Derek doesn’t bother smelling. “He seems a bit protective.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says. “Ex-police dog and all, but still… he’s not coming to class if he can’t behave himself.”

Derek rumbles again, but it doesn’t seem threatening and Stiles lets it slide. He doesn’t have time to deal with this anyway.

“Milady?” he asks, offering his arm to Sabrina who takes it with a regal nod.

“Milord.”

Instead of walking next to him, Derek falls a few steps behind.

*^*^*^

He’s not any better after class. He allows a few of Stiles’ friends from last semester to pat him exactly once but he snarls at Sabrina when she tries and refuses to fetch any of the balls she throws even though he plays quite happily with Geoff and Cindy and Sabrina doesn’t seem to mind, but Stiles spends the day getting gradually more furious and-

When they arrive home, Derek goes immediately to his room to shift back and throw on clothes. Stiles waits a few moments before barging in after.

“Dude, what the hell? You know I’ve been psyched to see Sabrina again! What was with the growling?”

“Nothing,” Derek says and then stops. Stiles raises an unimpressed eyebrow. They are not backsliding into the single-word-answer Derek of four years ago. They’ve lived together for almost five months now. And Derek may be allowed to be grumpy to Stiles’ friends, but he’s not allowed to be rude.

Derek scowls at him. “Nothing- I just… I’m not feeling well,” he mutters.

“Bullshit,” Stiles says. “You were feeling fine before!”

“Well now I’m not,” Derek replies. “Just- just go away, Stiles. Get out of my room.”

Stiles gapes at him. Generally, he doesn’t spend time in Derek’s room but that’s because neither of them spend time in their respective rooms except for sleeping but he- he’s not sure when this became a real fight.

“Fine,” he snaps, annoyed that Derek is lying to him and that Derek was rude and just annoyed. Sabrina was Stiles’ closest friend and the whole pack sometimes act like Stiles’ Stanford friends don’t matter because they aren’t freaking pack and it’s just… he wanted them to get along. But fine. Whatever. “Just try not to be a dick to my friends tomorrow.”

He slams the door shut on his way out, feeling oddly unsettled.

For all their arguments, he’s pretty sure this is the first time he and Derek have ever fought.

*^*^*^

Turns out, he needn’t have worried about Derek being rude to his friends because the next day, for the first time since that Thursday in September, Sourwolf isn’t waiting at the door ready to go.

Stiles blinks in surprise and has half-turned to go make sure Derek isn’t reallysick (or dead, maybe he’s dead) when his stubbornness kicks in.

Fine, Derek doesn’t want to go to school with him anymore? Well, that’s great. That’s what Stiles had wanted in the first place. He doesn’t need Derek’s protection and doesn’t want his company and- great. It’s all great.

When Stiles returns, they eat a tense dinner together that’s all stilted conversation and awkward pauses and Derek returns to his room almost as soon as he finishes.

Stiles tells himself he doesn’t care. Even when Derek doesn’t come to school with him the next day either.

It’s nice. This way, when Sabrina sneaks him into the dining hall and they grab a quick lunch just the two of them, he can update her on his life without worrying that Derek will overhear. Sabrina is one of the few who knows of his massive crush on his friend from home and she smacks him none too gently when she hears that they are living together and it takes him a while to explain that no, they aren’t together. They are still just friends. No, Derek doesn’t like him.

She seems highly skeptical of the whole situation and, really, it works out that Stiles is a little mad at Derek because his eyes don’t go completely heart shaped when he talks about him. His argument that living together is actually helping him get over his crush might even be a little bit believable.

Of course, enough people ask about Sourwolf that Stiles might start to believe the repeated lie that he’s home sick. At least, on the third day that Derek remains home, Stiles is half convinced that he must actually be sick. He even begs off work and makes homemade Chicken Noodle soup.

Derek comes out of his room and he stops scowling for the first time in days and-

Sourwolf returns to campus and Derek returns to the living room and that’s that.

*^*^*^

And after that it’s back to normal.

Sort of.

Derek seems to make a point to be extra nice to Stiles’ friends upon his return, especially Sabrina who gets a gentle head bump (which is pretty much all one can hope for when it comes to Sourwolf) and ball-fetching priority (Geoff complains for days) and Stiles doesn’t know why but he still finds himself staring at his roommate-slash-dog and chewing his bottom lip in concern.

Derek just doesn’t seem… right.

As Sourwolf, he misses a few ball that he should be able to catch easily and when Stiles goes to take a nap, he only offers his stomach as a pillow after Stiles pouts a little bit and he doesn’t huff or rumble his disapproval of college-age antics as much as he used to.

And, Derek never talks too much after immediately shifting back, has always taken a few minutes to get used to having vocal chords again, but it now it seems to take even longer. He only relaxes halfway through dinner. He laughs, but not as freely as he used to.

It makes Stiles suspicious. Like maybe something terrible happened and Derek is bottling it up for some reason.

He not-so-subtly asks Scott if he’s heard anything and then blatantly uses his father’s password to hack into the police files to make sure he’s not missing some anniversary that would put Derek in a bad mood and-

He’s so focused on trying to figure out what’s wrong with Derek that he completely forgets about his giant old security breach.

He, Sabrina, and Derek are sitting out on the quad, enjoying a quick snack after class when-

“So, Stiles,” she says and if he weren’t busy staring at Derek who is staring out at nothing, he would recognize her tone of voice and shut it down sooner. Because Sabrina has a very specific tone for when she’s about to pry information out of you. And Stiles has heard it enough times in his life to recognize it. “How’s that crush of yours going?”

Stiles freezes. Derek looks over.

Oh holy shit.

“You mean my crush on you?” he says, going for casual. He can pull this off. Turn it into a joke. Just make sure she mentions no names. Fucking- “You tell me. Are we finally doing this for real?”

“I thought we were waiting for Valentine’s day,” she says. “I want romance, Stiles.”

She grins. He laughs. He prays to every supernatural, immortal creature he can think of that may have some form of control over this that she reads the franticnot now, not now, not now in his tone.

“Oh, I’m ready to romance you,” he continues immediately. “Valentine’s day it’s you and me: flowers, candles, maybe even fireworks!”

“Fireworks? For me? Why, how marvelous!” Her voice dips into a Southern accent and then out again. “But, seriously, Stiles-”

Derek stands up and Stiles jumps on the opportunity.

“Just remembered,” he says, scrambling to his feet as well. “Totally forgot to feed Sourwolf this morning. Gotta go!”

Sabrina looks like she is completely aware of what Stiles is doing. Still, she settles for a quick frown and a roll of her eyes:

“We’re talking about this eventually!” she calls after him.

He waves a hand at her and tries to keep from blushing and luckily Derek must have sensed his desperation because Stiles has to jog to keep up with him and-

Before he knows it, they are flying home. He’s pedaling quickly, as if that might make his quick retreat less noticeable and Derek is running along beside him and, god, Derek is totally gonna know or if he doesn’t, he’s going to ask and-

And there is literally no one that Stiles can even lie about having a crush on. Derek knows all his other college friends and has doubtlessly seen that Stiles has absolutely no interest in any of them and… maybe Stiles could make someone up? A friend who is studying abroad for a year instead of a semester maybe… whose name Stiles has literally never mentioned before…

He’s so screwed. So very, very screwed.

He’s so wrapped up in his own panic that he doesn’t really notice that Derek heads to his room to shift back and doesn’t come out for a while. He may or may not actually be scrolling through Facebook, desperately searching for someone to have a fake crush on when he finally looks up and notices that Derek is holding a bag.

A duffel bag. And his car keys. As if he’s leaving.

What?

“Hey!” Stiles says. It’s Wednesday. Every once and a while Derek heads to Beacon Hills to help Scott with something but Stiles hasn’t received any cryptic texts and he usually waits for the weekend. “Where are you going?”

“Uh, to Beacon Hills,” Derek says, eyes fliting around the room but never looking at Stiles. “I just need to sort some things out. I’ll be back.”

“What?” Stiles says. “Sort what things out? Be back when?”

He lied to Scott. He doesn’t want to live alone. He doesn’t like being alone.

“Just- just things, Stiles,” Derek says, his voice going… soft? Sad? “And I’ll be back… I dunno. After Valentine’s day? That would be good for you, right?”

Sometimes Derek isn’t so good with his words but this is a new level of strange. Why would Valentine’s Day matter?

“That’s almost two weeks!” he sputters. “That’s- why after Valentine’s Day?”

Derek looks at him like he’s a bit slow.

“So you and Sabrina can have the apartment to yourselves,” he says.

“But I don’t want the apartment to myself!” Stiles says, rising. “And I don’t think Sabrina wants it either. Her parents can afford a much nicer one. And why should she get our apartment in the first place?”

His voice may be coming out slightly panicky. He should probably calm down. As he pauses for breath, Derek steps in:

“Still,” he says. “If you two are gonna date-”

“What?” Stiles interrupts. “Why are Sabrina and I dating?”

Derek’s face goes pinched.

“Because you literally just talked about dating!”

“What?”

“Thirty minutes ago!” Derek says. “Just because I’m a wolf doesn’t mean I don’t have ears, Stiles. You two are in love. She wants you to romance her. You said there will be candles and flowers and-” Derek cuts off.

“Dude, Sabrina and I are not in love,” Stiles says, walking over. “Those were justjokes. I cannot date Sabrina.”

“You said you had a crush on her!”

“No, I did not!” Stiles tries. This whole thing is ridiculous.

“She asked about your crush and you said-”

“I don’t have a crush on Sabrina!”

“But, she-”

“You!” Stiles blurts. Because Derek looks ready to leave anyway so why the fuck not and he’s not sure what is happening but- “I have a crush on you!”

Derek goes very still.

Stiles tells himself to shut up.

Stiles has never been very good at listening to himself.

“That’s who she was talking about! But she doesn’t know that you are a werewolf and so I had to distract her because I didn’t want you to know that I have like a… fucking supersized crush on you and, really, I’m not sure it’s even still a crush at this point. It’s more like a fucking infatuation except… deeper, or I don’t- just…”

He waves his hands helplessly and then his brain catches up with what his mouth has just spewed and Derek is still standing there and-

“You’re right,” he says, switching tracks. And then he heads for the door. He should open it. He should open it and Derek should leave and he should go have the full-fledged panic attack that he can feel hovering at the edge of his awareness. “You should head to Beacon Hills. This has been a strange half hour. Let’s just forget about it. Crazy times! Duck Syndrome hit a little early this semester, eh? Okay, then. Have a nice trip!”

It’s as he’s squeezing by Derek, trying to get to the front door that Derek finally moves. At least his arm moves. His arm swings forward and grabs Stiles’ shoulder and Stiles jumps but Derek keeps his grip and-

“You like me?” Derek asks the question in almost a whisper. As if he had just missed the entire speech.

“Dude, I- I’m pretty sure I more than like you,” Stiles admits because Derek is standing very close. And then, because Derek is standing very close. “Sorry.”

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice sounds a little hoarse. “I- don’t- Stiles, I thought you likedSabrina.”

“Well, that’s-”

“Why do you think I lost control and growled at her?”

“Lost control? What are you-” Derek is not making any sense.

“Why do you think I ran away today when you two started talking about Valentine’s Day?”

Stiles may be hallucinating but it seems like Derek is moving closer. Like his face is moving closer to Stiles’ face.

“Because I forgot to feed you?” Stiles tries. The world is very confusing. He’s-

“You’re so dumb,” Derek says and then he’s…

He’s kissing Stiles.

At least, his lips are on Stiles’ lips and Stiles sort of gasps and that can’t be attractive so then he panics and his mouth drops open and Derek leans back and then-

Well, then his brain finally gets with the program.

“You like me?” he says and- woah, Derek’s whole body is pressed closer now. His body which includes his strong arms and his abs, which Stiles’ can’t currently see but are probably still very lickable, and his- his everything.

“I’m pretty sure I more than like you,” Derek says and his eyes are focused downwards, his mouth twisting as he’s somehow still unsure and Stiles is pretty sure there’s a red tinge rising from his neck to his cheeks. All he can do is gape, his arms still uselessly hanging by his sides and- just- holy shit.

“You-” Stiles tries. And Derek’s nods. Like… his head jerks up and down in a yes motion that is quick and sure and-

Stiles leaps on him. There’s really no other way to describe it. He throws his arms around Derek’s shoulders and fully expects Derek to be able to take his weight because he’s not even trying to hold himself up anymore and for some reason, it’s just a hug because he’s just happy.

Derek laughs as he catches him. And he’s squeezing Stiles back fiercely and then, wait, they should be kissing. What is Stiles even doing right now? This is no time for hugging but kissing would mean loosening his grip and that also seems unacceptable but he’s so relieved. So relieved even though he still isn’t positive that this is true.

“We should be kissing,” he says into Derek’s neck. “Like, oh my god, this is- I can’t believe you like me and we should kiss now, just in case you change your mind, you know? Because that’s totally a thing that could-”

Derek stops him. He leans back enough and kisses Stiles again (that’s twice in one day!) and Stiles is actually capable of reacting this time and-

Derek doesn’t go to Beacon Hills. In fact, it’s a very, very long time before they even manage to leave the doorway.

*^*^*^

It’s surprising how little things change.

Derek and Stiles still alternate cooking dinner and continue to get into long arguments that tend to remain unresolved and Derek keeps forcing them to pay for Netflix even though mostly they don’t even pretend to watch whatever they put on. Derek insists on taking things slow and for the most part, Stiles is okay with that (even though he whines continuously.) For a while, he even insists on them sleeping in their own bedrooms, but Stiles quickly figures out that Derek won’t kick him out if Stiles pretends to fall asleep in Derek’s bed.

He then realizes that the real reason Derek refuses to move into Stiles’ room is because Derek is still a little afraid of Yoda. Stiles makes fun of him for approximately four days, even telling Sabrina about it while Sourwolf growls next to him before finally taking down the offending poster.

For a while, Derek continues to keep all his things in his room and then Stiles starts dropping hints about having a game room, Derek, please, it would be so fun! In the end, they move Derek’s dresser into Stiles’ room and it turns into half a game room and half a work out room because cardio isn’t everything, Stiles, and, no, you have to stop jumping on top of me when I am doing sit-ups- Stiles! No!

Stiles still dies a little when Derek sings in the shower and Derek still gets out of bed early every morning to make Stiles’ tea.

And almost every day, Sourwolf still attends Stanford.

Not much changes with him either. A few people note that he seems much more friendly recently, but it’s still only with Stiles and, in fact, Stiles now occasionally gets tackled and licked if Sourwolf seems to be in a particularly happy mood, but generally he’s still Sourwolf. Oddly calm for a dog and too smart for his own good and inherently dismissive of most people.

In fact, the one real difference is that Sabrina has gone from Sourwolf’s least favorite person to his obvious second favorite. He stops attending Stiles’ advanced computer science class in favor of going with her to an English class on Gothic Literature.

For the most part though, Sourwolf can still be found wherever Stiles is.

That’s just how Stiles likes it.

End.

*^*^*^