"One last con," Laura had said, and neither of them could ever possibly have known it would truly be her last.
Derek has nowhere left to run, which leaves him with severely limited options. He has no favours left to call in – none that would do him any good, anyway – and he’s shit out of luck as far as disappearing is concerned. He’d know, after all. It’s not like he hasn’t tried.
When he reads a newspaper article detailing Jackson Whittemore’s recently lost fortune, a plan starts to form. It’s nothing short of asking for a leap of faith from anyone he involves, and God knows that Derek has never been a team player, but it’s not like he has anything left to lose.
Laura would know what to do.
One phone call and a red-eye later, and Derek finds himself sitting in a living room that doesn’t look even remotely like it belongs to someone who just lost their entire inheritance.
Jackson doesn’t look particularly pleased to see him when he enters the room, but it’s less impressive when Derek can see how haggard he looks; black craters under his eyes, skin paler than usual and pulled taught across high cheekbones.
Derek knows he doesn’t look much better himself.
“What can I do for you, Hale?” Jackson all but sneers.
Derek takes a deep breath, and then launches into his plan. He doesn’t sell it the way Laura would have, because he’s no good with words. He doesn’t promise Jackson anything he can’t deliver on, and he doesn’t bullshit about the risks involved.
Jackson just looks at him when he’s done, and for a painful moment, Derek thinks he’s read the situation all wrong, and that Jackson isn’t as desperate for the money as he thinks he is.
Then Jackson says, “So, who’ve you got in mind?” and Derek finds he can breathe again.
“No,” Jackson cuts in, so sharply that Derek half recoils in surprise.
“He’s the best there is,” he tries again.
“Find someone else,” Jackson says, flatly. “If you bring him into this, I’m walking.”
Derek is silent for a moment, calculating how serious Jackson is. He’s known Danny for a long time, and he’s nothing short of a computer genius. Derek had been counting on Jackson wanting to work with Danny. He’s not sure what their relationship is, exactly, but he knows it’s never been entirely ...platonic.
Jackson’s jaw clenches obstinately.
“Alright,” Derek agrees. “What about Lydia?”
He knows the antagonistic relationship Jackson has with Lydia has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they used to date.
Jackson considers. “I’ll get you her address,” he says.
He finds Lydia in Marrakech. She takes one long look at him, and tells him he’s taking her to dinner.
They eat at the most expensive restaurant Lydia can find, and apparently she’s on the guest list, because they’re let in and treated like royalty. Derek doesn’t want to know how she managed to swing that.
“So,” she says, curling red nailed fingers around her glass of wine. “What is it this time?”
Her smile reminds him just why Laura liked her so much; pretty and devious. Pretty devious, Laura had said, with a laugh.
Derek’s already on his third whiskey. “I’m putting together a crew,” he says, voice low.
Lydia’s smile widens, and she looks like a Cheshire cat.
Derek’s expression is one of comical surprise when she says, “I’m in.”
They eat dinner, Lydia pays, and they don’t talk about old times. When they get back to her apartment at three in the morning, they’ve worked out the majority of the details to Derek’s plan.
In the morning, she hands him a scrap of paper with a phone number written on it.
“Tell her I sent you,” is all she says, and ushers Derek out the door.
The number belongs to Allison Argent, and Derek finds himself heading back to California.
She has a house in the suburbs, there’s a black BMW in the driveway, and when she answers the door, Derek feels certain that he has the wrong place.
“Come in, Derek,” she says, all dimples.
She leads him into the house, offers him a drink, and then takes him down to the basement. Derek isn’t entirely sure what he’d been expecting, but the arsenal he comes face to face with? Definitely not it.
Allison’s smile widens, a sharper edge to it, as she notices the way his eyebrows raise.
“Tell me what you need,” she says, and Derek does.
He doesn’t say “I need my sister back.”
Isaac and Erica are in California, too, so Derek heads down the coastline to see them.
They pull him into too-tight hugs when they see him, don’t say I’m sorry about what happened, and make him go out with them.
He ends up staying for a week, and almost forgets the hole in his heart and the ache in his bones.
When he finally gets around to bringing up the job, Erica’s eyes light up like he’s just offered her Christmas morning. Isaac is a little more cautious, but it’s obvious that they’re going to take the leap of faith that Derek needs them to.
When he says his goodbyes, his heart hurts just that little bit more.
“Whatever it is, the answer’s no,” Boyd says, and hangs up on him.
Derek heads back to Jackson’s place, and can’t contain the surprise written all over his features when a half-naked Danny opens the front door.
He guesses that answers that question about their relationship.
Danny smiles, gesturing him inside, and Derek numbly goes where he’s ushered.
“Did he tell you?” Derek asks, finally.
Danny nods. “Of course,” he says, like it’s obvious.
“Why won’t he let you in on it, then?”
Danny’s smile falls, and he shifts almost uncomfortably. He’s saved from having to answer, however, when an equally half-naked Jackson strides into the room. He looks healthier than he had the last time Derek saw him, and he wonders if that has anything to do with the third man in the room. Not that it’s his place to be wondering.
“None of your business,” Jackson snaps, predictably.
Derek doesn’t press the issue. “Then I still need someone on intel,” he says, looking between them expectantly.
“I’ve got someone,” Danny says, placing a calming hand on Jackson’s shoulder as he crosses out of the room.
He comes back in a moment later, phone in hand. “I’ve emailed you his address, but uh,” he hesitates.
Derek raises his eyebrows. “But what?”
“He’s a package deal,” Danny answers, finally.
Derek’s not sure his eyebrows can rise any higher, but he tries anyway. “Meaning?”
Danny shrugs. “Meaning that if you want him on the team, you’ll have to hire his getaway driver, too.”
“His driver?” Derek echoes, dumbly.
“Yeah, Hale, his personal escort,” Jackson interrupts, peevishly.
Derek can already feel the headache forming.
“His partner,” Danny says into the silence. “They work as a team. You’ll have to cut him in on it, too.”
“I don’t need a driver,” Derek snaps.
“That’s not what Jackson says,” Danny shoots back, mildly, ignoring the way Jackson shoots him a betrayed look at the same time Derek shoots Jackson one.
Danny’s email gives him strict instructions to arrive with a Caf-Pow and a fifty dollar bill, which Derek does.
The last thing he expects is for the building to be one of New York’s more popular strip clubs and he wonders if Danny, or more likely Jackson, has set him up.
Laura would be laughing.
He figures that explains the fifty, though, and bypasses the queue to slip it to the bouncer. The tattoo covered man looks at Derek for a long moment, then eyes the Caf-Pow, and finally lets Derek through a door nobody else is using.
The steps are long and steep, and the stairwell is dark, and when Derek finally emerges, blinking, into the bluish green light permeating the room below, it takes him a moment or two to adjust to his surroundings.
‘His surroundings’ being a room filled with towering servers and several different types of computer. Derek weaves between it all, trying not to look too closely at various bits of obviously completely illegal tech.
He’s seriously starting to wonder what Danny has gotten him into, in fact, when he finally comes across a bank of computers with somebody working at one of them.
The person in question is wearing a headset, and his fingers are moving so fast that they’re practically a blur.
Derek stands and watches him for a long moment, and then finally clears his throat and gets out, “I’m looking for –“
“Shht!” The kid interrupts, loudly, jabbing a finger viciously in Derek’s direction, but not bothering to look up as he continues typing.
Derek waits for a full minute, scowling, before trying again. “I said –“
“Shhht! Shhhhhht!” The kid interrupts, again, still not looking up at Derek, although he’s definitely making unhappy faces at the computer screen.
Derek rolls his eyes, and then leans back against one of the desks to settle in for the wait. He’s worked with enough eccentrics before to know that that’s pretty much his only option, especially since he’s so desperate for someone to work the technical end of things.
Twenty minutes later, the kid lets out a loud whoop, fist pumping the air, before throwing the headset unceremoniously down on the side.
“Sorry, dude, I had an important thing, you know how it is. What can I –“ he begins, and it’s obviously his turn to be cut off as he finally looks up at Derek who isn’t bothering to hide his scowl.
“Whoa,” the kid gets out, and Derek can’t help but be amused by the way in which he’s gaping like a fish, even if it does make him look completely gormless.
“Are you Stiles?” he asks, when the silence stretches to breaking point.
“Whoa, dude, yeah. Yes. I am. I mean. Wow,” Stiles breathes, still looking at Derek a bit like he’s never seen a human before.
Truthfully, it’s not exactly the first time anyone’s had that reaction to Derek.
He raises his eyebrows, and says, “Danny told me you might be interested in joining my team.”
Stiles nods, leaning back in his chair like he’s trying to play it cool. “If it’s in the realms of possibility, sure, I can do it,” he says, and doesn’t actually sound too much like he’s overselling himself.
“And your driver?” Derek asks.
“Best damn getaway driver there is,” Stiles grins, like he’s got a personal reason to be proud of that.
Derek vaguely wonders if Danny meant that Stiles and his driver were together in the relationship sense when he called them partners.
“Here’s the plan,” he says, instead of asking.
Forming a cohesive unit is the easy part.
Thank you to everyone who left lovely comments on the previous chapter!
This apparently got away from me, since I just couldn't resist following up the last piece.
There should be at least another chapter to come.
Boyd doesn’t answer his phone, and it takes Derek a while to track him down. He’s in Mexico, and judging by the dingy apartment Derek’s standing in front of, he’s kept his word about staying on the straight and narrow.
When Boyd finally answers his front door, Derek’s pretty certain the only reason it isn’t slammed in his face has something to do with the look of sheer surprise on Boyd’s face.
“You thought I wouldn’t find you,” Derek says.
“I’d hoped,” Boyd shoots back, dry, and then just leaves the door open and heads back inside. Derek takes it as an invitation and follows him.
After a cursory look around to make sure they’re alone, he says, “We’ve got a job.”
“Why else would you be here?” Boyd asks, bitter and rhetorical.
Derek swallows, and ploughs on. “We need you.”
“No, you don’t. I’m clean now. Straight as an arrow.”
Derek snorts, raising his eyebrows as he looks around pointedly at the peeling wallpaper and stained carpets. “You’re not going to choose this over that.”
It’s entirely the wrong thing to say, because Boyd is instantly on the defensive. “What happened to ‘one last con’, Derek?” he says, heated. “What happened to quitting while we were ahead? Getting out while the getting was good?”
Laura would know what to say.
“You know what happened,” he replies, quietly.
“Yeah,” Boyd looks genuinely angry now. “What happened is that Laura died, and you just can’t leave it the fuck alone.”
Derek flinches. Boyd looks like he immediately regrets his words, but he doesn’t take them back. He isn’t wrong, and they both know that Derek isn’t going to insult him by pretending that he is.
“I’m all out of chances,” Derek says finally into the heavy silence. “I’ve got nowhere left to run, Boyd. If I don’t come up with the money, I’m a dead man.”
It’s as close as he’ll get to pleading, and Boyd knows it.
“Fine,” Boyd replies through a heavy sigh. “But if you start taking stupid risks, I’m going to kill you myself.”
Derek grins. “Deal.”
It turns out that Stiles wasn’t kidding about his getaway driver. His name is Scott, and he’s not exactly the brightest crayon in the box, but damn, the boy can drive.
He doesn’t like Derek very much, and he’s pretty vocal about that, but Derek can deal. He’s not here to make friends; he’s here to make money.
Derek’s still pretty abysmal at the whole leadership thing, and the last thing he expects is to find an ally in Stiles. The kid talks ten to a dozen, and Derek is pretty certain that the only time he truly stops talking is when he’s slurping on a seemingly never ending stream of Caf-Pow.
In the first ten minutes of working with Stiles, Derek finds out that he has adhd, that his dad is a sheriff, he and Scott grew up together, he thinks starfish are creepy, and he’s really, really terrible at Monopoly. None of these facts are volunteered at Derek’s behest; Stiles just never stops talking.
But he’s brilliant at what he does, and he’s at least three steps ahead of Derek whenever he goes to make a request. It’s impressive, in fact, the way that he manages to simultaneously anticipate Derek’s every need, while keeping the rest of the group in some semblance of order.
Isaac and Erica stay out of the picture for the time being, and Boyd refuses to show up until they actually need him. That still leaves Derek with Scott, Stiles, Allison, Jackson and Lydia which is more than enough of a handful, if the truth be told.
Lydia, it turns out, knows everyone in the group, and she revises their plans once she meets Scott, and everything slowly starts to fall into place.
Jackson shows up only to make a nuisance of himself, Derek’s sure, and what’s worse is that he occasionally brings Danny with him.
Derek’s scowling at them one day, in fact, when Stiles pipes up, “Danny’s the reason Jackson lost his inheritance.”
Derek probably shouldn’t be surprised that he knows this, since he apparently knows everything about everyone.
“Why?” he asks, despite himself.
Stiles shrugs, glancing over at the pair. “I think they just wanted to get married,” he says sadly.
Derek looks over at Stiles, surprised at the amount of compassion he can have for them, when Jackson gives him even more of a hard time than he does anyone else. Derek knows that if he were in Stiles’s position, he’d never manage to be the better person about that.
“Anyway,” he continues brightly, when Derek doesn’t immediately answer. “You’re gonna love this. Come take a look.”
Three weeks in, Boyd shows up on Derek’s doorstep and says, “They know.”
Derek doesn’t have to ask which they.
Stiles, because he has a nose for trouble, appears at Derek’s side with a frown. “Who know?”
Derek can’t repress an irritated sigh. “No one,” he says, obviously a lie. “It’s nothing important. Go back to work.”
Stiles doesn’t, of course, and he has the audacity to look at Derek like he’s just uttered something on a Scott-level of stupid. “Uh huh,” he says, looking between them both disbelievingly. “That’s why Boyd’s here a month early.”
Boyd gives Derek a dirty look, like this kid is his fault, and shoulders his way inside.
“Leave it alone, Stiles,” Derek says, suddenly exhausted. “It’s none of your business.”
Stiles’s expression would probably be comical at any other time. “None of my business?” he echoes in an angry hiss. “It’s all of my damn business if you’re keeping me and the team in the dark on something important.”
Derek doesn’t roll his eyes at that, but he also doesn’t protest when Stiles follows him back inside.
There’s no one else around at this time of night. Scott and Allison slipped off early to continue some kind of clandestine romance, Jackson hasn’t shown up for a couple of days now, and Lydia left hours ago to go to the spa, or find a cure for cancer, or whatever it is she does in her spare time.
Stiles, like Derek it seems, is about as big a fan of sleep as he is of leaving the warehouse, which is to say, not at all. For Derek, it’s about the on-going nightmare his life has been since Laura’s death. Whenever he closes his eyes, all he can do is replay the events repeatedly, guilt washing over him in bone crushing waves. Whenever he does sleep, it’s fitful at best. Sometimes, he wonders what it is that keeps Stiles up all night; it’s certainly not just the Caf-Pow.
Boyd slings himself unceremoniously onto the nearest chair, and Derek fixes him a drink. After a moment’s thought, he ends up taking the bottle and two extra glasses out with him, and finds Stiles already sitting down opposite Boyd.
“Who knows?” Stiles asks once Derek has poured them all a generous measure of whiskey.
Boyd holds his glass up in a silent toast, Derek mirrors his actions, and they both down the contents of their glasses without answering.
Stiles’s eyes bug out comically and Derek represses the hysterical laughter bubbling in his chest.
“What do you know about what happened with Laura?” Boyd asks as Derek pours another round of drinks.
Stiles shrugs, expression turning neutral as he focusses his attention on Boyd. “I know that it got her killed,” he says quietly, bobbing his head as he shoots Derek an almost guilty glance.
Derek chooses to interpret his answer to mean ‘everything’. “That’s who knows,” he supplies, and then raises an eyebrow at Boyd.
“I don’t know how much they know,” Boyd says, not bothering to nurse his drink. “But they’ve been sniffing around, feeling you out. They’ve been getting in contact with anyone you’ve ever been associated with,” he pauses, looking Derek dead in the eye and saying grimly, “Isaac got a visit last night.”
Stiles swears loudly, and Derek does his best to shove down the panic rising in his chest. “What happened?” he asks, voice somehow steady.
“He’s not hurt,” Boyd answers, “They shook him down, that’s all. He and Erica took off straight after. I came as soon as I heard.”
Derek nods, reaching across the table to put a hand over the top of Stiles’s glass as he goes to drink it. “How long do we have?” he asks, ignoring the protests from Stiles.
Boyd shrugs. “Two weeks, if we’re lucky.”
At this point, Derek knows they’re all in too deep, and part of him regrets involving the people that come closest he’s ever had to friends. Of course, it’s too late to be thinking about that now.
“I’ll call Lydia,” Stiles says, and Derek nods, grateful.
Uh, a pretty Sterek centric update, this one. This is less plot and more schmoop, to be honest. Sorry.
This new timeframe isn’t going to work, and they all know it. They’re not prepared for this; don’t know how to put all the pieces into place when they just don’t physically have the time to do so.
Derek can feel the pressure mounting whenever they’re all in the room together; he can feel it building behind his eyes, pressing against his spine, holding his shoulders down. He knows he should just tell everyone to go.
Quit while we’re ahead, Laura had said.
Derek might not have anything left to lose, but these people are people he cares about, in some strange way, and he knows they all have too much to lose.
Stiles is the first to say it. It’s so late that it’s early, and Derek can’t remember the last time he slept, the last time he left the room, the last time he saw real, honest to God daylight.
“We’re not leaving you,” Stiles blurts into the oppressive silence, looking at Derek askance like he can hear his thoughts.
Derek raises his eyebrows. “You might not have any choice,” he says grimly.
Stiles snorts out a laugh, and it’s harsh and hysterical. “You think we’re all squeaky clean, Derek?” he asks, sarcastically amused. “You think none of us have gotten our hands dirty before? You think we’re all innocent to all of this? That we haven’t tangoed with shit like this ever since we got into the business?”
Derek hesitates, unsure which, if any, of those questions he’s supposed to answer.
Stiles plows on. “We all get it, you know. You’re not the only one that’s in trouble, here. We all knew what we were taking on. You don’t think some of us do our research before we take a job? You don’t think people talk?”
“Stiles,” Derek grits out, and he knows it sounds tired rather than threatening.
“You think of me as a kid,” Stiles continues, ignoring him. “You act like I think this is all just a game, and Derek,” Stiles is smiling at him now, sardonic and almost pityingly. “I’ve been doing this as long as you have. I know the risks, and so do the others.”
“Stiles,” he tries again.
Stiles continues to ignore him. “You’re stuck with us, whether you like it or not. We’re not just gonna let you go down alone. I’m not going to let that happen.”
Derek has to swallow down the barbs burning the tip of his tongue, because he’d only prove Stiles right. He does think of him as a kid, and the truth is that Stiles is only three years younger than him. The truth is that Derek has read Stiles’s file, and he knows that the first time he hacked into a government database he was only thirteen years old. Stiles has been playing this game longer than Derek, and unlike Derek, the person he’s always been reliant on isn’t dead.
“Laura would have liked you,” he says finally, quietly, shocking himself as much as Stiles as the words leave his mouth.
They stare at each other for a long moment, both too surprised to do anything else, and then Stiles grins. “Come on,” he says as he stands, “We’re going to get something to eat.”
Derek doesn’t argue.
Isaac has a black eye and Erica looks pissed when they show up. Derek knows it’s because she’s been scared, and he knows also that she’s dangerous like a cornered animal right now.
Isaac’s grinning, though, and fist bumping Stiles, who he apparently knows, and Derek watches the way that Erica visibly relaxes into the welcoming atmosphere.
“You don’t have to stick around,” Derek tells her quietly as she crosses over to him, and she just laughs at him like he’s really fucking precious.
“We’ve got your back,” Isaac says from across the room, despite the fact that he couldn’t possibly have heard what Derek just said, and Erica looks up at him and smiles, soft and sincere. Derek feels so much like he’s intruding that he has to walk away.
Surprisingly, Lydia isn’t the first one to leave. They’ve been stretching themselves past breaking point for a while, now, and Scott is the first one to go. It’s difficult to tell when they crossed the line between normal arguing and something else, but Derek watches in the same muted horror as everyone else when Scott storms out.
Allison follows after him with what Derek thinks is a vaguely apologetic smile.
“Derek –“ Isaac begins, and Derek cuts him off with what can only be described as a growl. He knows everyone is looking at him like he’s a bombing just waiting to explode, but he can’t bring himself to care. If they don’t make this work, he’s a dead man, and quite possibly, so are they.
It only takes an hour for him to alienate the rest of the group. Derek knows he’s being unreasonable, that he’s angry and grumpy and snapping and biting at everyone’s heels. It frustrates him more when they continue to tiptoe around him, and he knows logically that the night is a loss. Nobody can get any work done with his attitude.
Lydia’s the next to leave, which leaves Boyd, Isaac, Erica and Stiles. Derek doesn’t know what Stiles says to the other three, but whatever it is, it’s enough to persuade them to leave. He’s too angry to look into it too closely, and instead settles for glaring at the marker board in front of him. He hasn’t gotten anywhere with it, unsurprisingly.
He expects Stiles to leave as well, so he’s surprised when he turns around to find the younger boy just standing there looking at him.
“Come on, sourpuss,” Stiles says finally. “We’re going to get some air.”
Through his anger, Derek is vaguely aware of the fact that he’s looking at Stiles like he’s an alien.
“C’mon,” Stiles says again, firmer now, and crosses over to Derek to pin him with an expectant look.
Derek’s eyebrows furrow, and he considers telling Stiles to go fuck himself. Instead, he says, “Why?”
It’s Stiles’s turn to look at him like he’s an alien. “Because, you socially inept wall of muscle,” he enunciates slowly, “That’s what friends are for.”
Derek knows that his expression reads: we’re friends? And that Stiles ignores it.
“Let’s go,” he says, briskly. “Chop chop. People to do, places to see.”
Because Derek is clearly losing his grip on his sanity, he actually ends up leaving the warehouse with Stiles.
They walk down to Stiles’s battered blue jeep, and Derek lets Stiles drive, and Stiles talks and talks and talks and talks. Derek isn’t really sure that he’s even really saying anything, but his mouth doesn’t stop moving the entire time.
Occasionally, he glances over at Derek, and Derek manages a grunt of assent or dissent or whatever it is that Stiles is looking for from him, and Stiles is seemingly satisfied by it, because he launches into yet another topic of conversation.
Strangely, Derek actually finds the stream of chatter pretty comforting, and when it abruptly stops, he realises that he’s not only leaned back into the chair and closed his eyes, but that he might actually have been drifting into sleep.
Stiles is looking at him, concern etched into the corners of his mouth. “We’re here,” he says, so quietly that Derek just looks at him.
There’s a tense moment, and then they both exit the jeep, and Derek finally takes a look at where they are. They jeep is parked in front of a block of apartments, and Stiles is heading up one of the paths purposefully.
It’s too late to back out now, so Derek follows him, curiosity getting the better of him as he asks, “Is this place yours?”
Stiles glances back at him, and Derek can’t quite tell in the dark, but he thinks there’s an amused grin on his face as he replies, “Yeah, sure, why not?”
Derek takes that to mean that he shouldn’t ask, so he doesn’t.
Stiles does have a key, however, and he lets them into one of the flats at the top of a flight of stairs. The door opens into an open plan living room and kitchen area, with another doorway in the kitchen that Derek surmises probably leads into the bedroom.
“Are you allergic to anything?” Stiles asks, crossing through to the kitchen area and throwing his keys down carelessly on one of the counters.
Derek looks up to find Stiles pinning him with one of those all too familiar expectant looks, and he shrugs. “No.”
“Good,” Stiles says, and gives him a brief, supernova smile, before rolling up his sleeves and beginning to root around in the fridge and the cupboards.
Derek’s vaguely aware that Stiles has started talking again, but he habitually tunes it out. It’s not until Stiles is standing right in front of him, waving a hand in front of his face and saying, “Dude. Earth to Derek? Hello?” that he realises that he’d completely zoned out.
Maybe the lack of sleep is finally catching up with him, he thinks.
“Maybe the lack of sleep has finally caught up with you,” Stiles says, and Derek wonders if he said it aloud the first time. Judging by the worried look Stiles is giving him, though, he probably didn’t.
“I’m fine,” he manages, gruff, and uncomfortable with the current scrutiny he’s apparently under.
Stiles sighs, long suffering, and then leaves the room. He comes back a moment later, shoving a set of towels into Derek’s chest, so that he’s forced to take them if he doesn’t want them to fall to the floor.
“Take a shower,” Stiles is saying, “I know the water pressure in the warehouse is shit, and you look like you need the hot water.”
Derek doesn’t have it in him to argue with that, so he just silently clutches the towels to his chest and heads toward where he assumes the bathroom is. When he catches sight of his reflection in the mirror and realises just how much he looks like death warmed up, he thinks that Stiles’s spiel about hot water was surprisingly charitable.
When he finally exits the shower, he finds a clean set of clothes laid out on the side, and instead of arguing the point with Stiles, Derek slips into the soft material of the sweatpants, zipping the hoodie up over his torso a moment later.
The smell coming from the kitchen is mouth-watering, and Derek’s stomach gurgles shamelessly as he makes his way through.
He finds Stiles leaning against the counter with a glass of red wine in his hand that he’s sipping from as he idly stirs the pan in front of him.
He smiles when he sees Derek.
“Help yourself,” he says, gesturing to the bottle of wine, and although Derek doesn’t usually drink it, he still crosses over and pours himself a glass, clinking it automatically against Stiles’s when he holds it out in a silent toast.
“You can set the table, if you like,” Stiles offers, as though he’s already anticipated how useless Derek feels. He gestures at the table wear set out on the side, and Derek silently does as he’s asked.
It’s only once they’re sat down at the table and actually eating Stiles’s delicious concoction that Derek realises that Stiles hasn’t said a single word. Glancing over at him, he finds that Stiles isn’t eating, just sitting there looking at him, head tilted slightly to one side.
Derek finds himself grunting a defensive, “What?” before he can even think about it.
“Nothing,” Stiles shoots back all too quickly, eyes wide and innocent as he digs into his food.
They finish eating, and sit in unusually companionable silence until Derek asks, “Why did you take the job? I know you don’t need the money.”
Stiles tries to hide his smile by sipping on his wine. “I get bored easily,” he says, and while Derek can very well believe that, it doesn’t quite ring true.
He finds himself quirking an eyebrow and replying, “And?”
Stiles shrugs. “And Danny said you needed the help.”
Derek looks at him for a long moment, trying to work out whether or not he’s simply messing with him. While the distrustful side of him can’t believe for a second that Stiles would take on a dangerous job because some stranger ‘needed the help’, there’s another side of him that thinks that’s exactly what Stiles would do.
“I should get going,” Derek says eventually, because he’s pretty certain this isn’t a conversation he actually wants to get into. Besides, he feels heavy after the food, and his bones ache, and he just wants to lie down for a couple of hours.
“No,” Stiles says, surprising him into nearly sitting back down again. “I know you haven’t been sleeping in a proper bed,” he looks almost sheepish, “Stay here tonight.”
Derek thinks he’s actually completely lost his sanity when he finds himself agreeing.
In the morning, Derek wakes up to his phone ringing and Stiles sprawled across his chest.
He turns his phone off.