“You’re being too hard on them, you know.”
“C’mon, it’s just a party.”
“They can take care of themselves.”
“You can barely take care of yourself!”
Derek decides to shout, throw a scathing glare his way, just as Stiles tries to casually lean against the doorframe and he ends up missing the damn thing entirely. When he sets himself back to rights, that damned glare remains firm and a lot more “I told you so”-y. Shit, not too good for his argument, huh? How can he still be so intimidating when he’s elbow-deep in dishes?
Stiles shrugs, offers his best grin. “Well, if the pack was able to go to the party, I’d have all the protection I’d need. Besides, who’s the one who saves their asses the mo—”
A plate hits the sudsy water with a sploosh and a clank. “Don’t even—”
“I’m just saying—holy fuck!” Stiles splutters when he gets a face-full of damp rag. Dishwater dribbles down his chin and he spits. “Ugh, seriously? My mouth was open and everything!”
Derek ignores him, reaching for the steel wool now. “They are not going to that fucking party.” He’s scrubbing at that pot so hard, muscles tensing and mean, that Stiles is sure he’s going to punch through it.
Time for phase two, then. Stiles licks his lips, runs his hands over his head. Operation: Seduce is a go.
Stiles slinks up behind his mate, sliding his fingertips down those arms oh so fucking sensual and shit. Derek goes still and Stiles knows he’s got this shit in the bag. “Everything’s going to be fine, Derek. It’s just Danny’s birthday party.”
There’s an explosive sigh as Derek drops the pot and Stiles is pretty fucking sure something’s broken in that sink right about now. Not, uh, the response he was expecting from Operation: Seduce, he thinks, as he takes a step or three back, because the look on Derek’s face when he turns is lethal.
“Do you remember what happened at the last birthday party you went to?”
Stiles winces, because, oh yeah. “Yeah, well, now we know not to put Lydia in charge of drinks, am I ri—oh.” The sentence falters when Derek’s mouth does this thing, this frown. Sure, Derek’s the king of the frown, but this one? This one is new. This one pulls heartstrings. “Derek?”
His mate leans back against the skin, scrubs at his face. “Look, I’m just . . .” Derek always has a problem with this one word—worry—even though it’s the one main thing he does besides lurking and brooding. So, instead, he grits his teeth and folds his arms; his glare returns tenfold, but it’s turned to something past Stiles’ shoulders.
The sound of mutters and banged elbows and scrambling are unmistakable and Stiles finds himself smiling. He can just imagine—
“I said out, Boyd!”
Stiles turns and Boyd is still in the doorway, shifting from foot to foot. You guys are fighting, his drawn face says, I’m not sure what I do to fix this, but Stiles shoos him out with a chuckle and a wave. There are no words to describe Derek’s face when the wolf listens and trudges back into the skeleton of the Hale living room.
Derek points at him accusingly. “Since when do they listen to you?” he demands.
A shrug. “Since I said they could go to Danny’s party, I guess.”
There’s a groan as his mate pinches the bridge of his nose and Stiles mewls, “D’aww,” and wraps his arms around his dishwater-wet waist.
“It’s not like they hate you—”
“I wasn’t thinking that.”
Stiles pats him soothingly. “I know, I know. I promise you, though,” he declares into Derek’s chest, “I promise that they’ll—we’ll—be okay. We’ll all come home in one piece and even bring you a piece of cake, all right?”
After a moment, Derek deflates and he returns the embrace with strong arms, big hands. He still seems painfully unconvinced, but eventually mutters, “Fine.”
Stiles pulls back with the grin. “Really? Cool—”
“On one condition.”
They level their gazes on each other, exchange serious looks. Stiles narrows his eyes.
“You can’t come, Derek.”
Derek scowls, thwarted. A second and he pokes at Stiles’ chest. “There better not be coconut on that cake. Anywhere,” he amends with his best growl.
Stiles snorts, kisses the tip of his mate’s nose. “Can do, babe.”