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A Love Like Religion

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“Derek, my man, you missed an epic party on Saturday. Seriously, dude, I know morning Mass is like, your thing, but come on. You’re missing on out so much life has to offer, bro.”

Big hands land on shoulders with a thump and a squeeze while Derek stands at his locker, loading his gigantic calculus book into his backpack. He gives his best friend a practiced sidelong glare, which of course just encourages him. “You’ll change your mind when I tell you who sucked me off in Lydia Martin’s bedroom,” Stiles snickers into his ear. 

Despite himself, Derek is curious. He tries to hide it by focusing on his books, but he knows the heat in his cheeks betrays him. “Who,” he asks, giving in, knowing he will eventually.

Stiles, in his typical outfit of ripped-at-the-knees khakis and blue-sleeved raglan shirt, cackles and uses Derek’s shoulders for leverage to launch himself into the air, tossing his gangly but still-graceful body into the lockers next to Derek’s. “Guess,” he teases, eyebrows darting up towards his Mets hat, sweat-stained and worn backwards, as usual.

Derek pushes his glasses up his nose and studies Stiles’ face for a minute; his bright brown eyes are shining with mischief, and his smile is wide with excitement. It’s a familiar expression these days, ever since Stiles, several months ago, started having sex and telling Derek every last detail, repeatedly, despite Derek’s own solemn vow of celibacy. 

He tries to remember all the girls Stiles has gone on about, the ones he’s fooled around with and ones he wants to. “Allison?” Derek whispers, feeling a small rush of guilt talking about this, especially in the hallway at school. No one is paying attention to them, but still, it always feels a little…improper, talking about girls like this. But Stiles is his best friend, and there’s nothing Derek won’t talk to him about, and nothing he wouldn’t do for him either.

“Nope,” Stiles answers, popping the p in that way he has and rolling his eyes. “She showed up with Lahey though, that scarf-wearing douchetron.”

“I like Isaac,” Derek says. “And his scarves.”

Stiles rolls his eyes again, all playful teasing this time, punching Derek lightly on the shoulder. “Well you wear bowties and cardigans, Old Man Hale, so we all know your fashion sense can’t be trusted." 

Derek smiles and straightens his sweater, remembering the Star Wars tie Stiles gave him last week, the one he said he found at Goodwill and that he could feel, like the force, would be good luck for Derek’s next Mathlete competition, which is the only time he even wears bowties (well, for chess matches too, and sometimes to church.).

“Come on, guess,” Stiles urges, elbowing him in the side. Derek settles his backpack on his shoulders and shuts his locker, Stiles falling in step beside him as they navigate the crowded hallway towards their first period Spanish class.

“Erica Reyes?” Derek ventures, trying not to think about what Stiles told him about having oral sex with her in his Jeep. Stiles smiles and shakes his head. “I assume it wasn’t Lydia,” he guesses again.

“Getting warmer,” Stiles teases as they walk in the classroom and take their seats.

Derek’s cheeks flame with sudden heat, strange pang of confusion stabbing through his chest as he suddenly realizes who Stiles is talking about. “Jackson,” he whispers, just as the bell rings. 

“Sí,” Stiles smirks, waggling his eyebrows.

Señora Gonzalez starts class with a rapid flurry of loud Spanish, and Derek is grateful that he has an excuse not to reply; he just shakes his head at Stiles and gets to taking notes, but he quickly finds that he can’t focus. He can’t stop glancing over at Stiles, who’s chewing on his pen and texting under his desk. Is he texting Jackson, he wonders, surprised at the hostility he feels. 

He knows Stiles is bisexual – Derek was the first person he told, back in freshman year – so the fact that Stiles has fooled around with a guy doesn’t surprise him. It actually…intrigues him?

But Jackson Whittemore? He’s a senior, captain of the lacrosse team, and until a couple of weeks ago, was dating Lydia Martin, junior class Homecoming Queen and Derek’s Mathlete co-captain (and his main competition for valedictorian).

And well, Jackson’s…a jerk. Derek tries not to think mean things about people, strives to be kind in thought as well as deed, just like his dad had always taught him was the foundation of their faith. But sometimes Derek thinks his dad (he mentally does a quick, reflexive sign of the cross) -  and maybe even Christ Himself – would have a hard time thinking anything nice about Jackson Whittemore.

So that’s got to be why the thought of Jackson and Stiles…together…the thought of Jackson doing that to Stiles has Derek so discomfited. He shrugs, his sweater feeling too tight all of a sudden. He fidgets in his desk, determined to focus on irregular verbs and the subjunctive tense.

Jackson’s not bad looking, he supposes. He’s actually quite handsome, almost pretty, Derek admits, thinking about Jackson’s big eyes and his full mouth. Did they kiss? Did Stiles like it as much as when he did things with girls? Did he do that for Jackson too?

“Hola, Dereko.” Stiles’ fingers snapping in front of his face bring him out of his entirely too-imaginative thoughts, thank the Lord.

Derek swallows, his throat feeling dry, his cheeks starting to burn as he realizes that he’s…aroused. “Huh?” He squirms again, hoping he’s not being terribly obvious, nervously spinning the circle of ichthys-engraved silver on his left ring finger, his chastity ring (which Stiles has taken to calling his cockblock ring).

“Dude, are you okay? We’re supposed to be practicing these conversations on page ninety.” Stiles jerks a thumb towards the textbook on his desk, and Derek glances around the room to see that he’s the only one without his book open. He doesn’t even remember hearing Señora telling them to get their books out.

Derek fumbles with the zipper of his backpack to avoid Stiles’ gaze. “Yeah, I’m fine.”


“Our new house is next door to my boss, the sheriff,” his mom said from the front seat of their new car, eyes glancing up to meet Derek’s in the rearview mirror. “He has a son too, who just turned nine, like you. You’ll have a friend." 

She smiled then, trying hard to look hopeful and happy. Derek remembers very clearly, because it was the first time he could remember lying to his mother – and all he did was smile back.

When she looked back at the road, Derek looked back to his lap, letting his dad’s black agate rosary beads fall between his fingers while he poked at the thick, raw pink scar running down the length of his left forearm, the stitches removed just a few days prior.

A fresh start is what they both needed after the accident, his mom had said when she told him they were leaving San Francisco for some place in the middle of nowhere called Beacon Hills. Some place quiet where they could grieve and move on in peace, she explained.

Derek was certain he’d never know peace again no matter where they lived, but he didn’t tell her that.

When they arrived at their new house, the movers were already there awaiting them, talking to the sheriff, standing on the sidewalk between their houses. Derek had no interest in touring the house or seeing his new room, or meeting the neighbors, or doing anything but running to the darkest corner he could find so he could pray the rosary until he cried himself to sleep like he had every night since the accident.

But his mom gave him that hopeful smile again when they pulled into the driveway, twisting in her seat to look back at him. “I think you’re really going to like it here, Der,” she said. “Let’s go say hi to John and Stiles, okay?” 

“What’s a Stiles,” Derek grumbled, mostly to himself, but he unclicked his seatbelt and slid out of the SUV to follow her.

“Talia,” the sheriff called out. “Welcome home!” He was wearing his uniform, and smiling, but there was a haunted sadness in his eyes that Derek was all-too familiar with, and that he found comforting. “And this must be Derek.” John reached down and offered Derek his hand, looking him over carefully. “You, young man, are the spitting image of your father.”

Derek’s eyes shot up. “You knew my dad?”

John nodded. “I did. He was a great attorney, and a great man. We’re going to miss him.”

Derek swallowed and nodded. He’d heard all this before. 

“And you must be Stiles,” his mom said then, smiling down at the boy walking up behind John. “I’m Talia, and this is my son Derek. He’s going to be in your class at school.” 

“And Talia is going to be a deputy at the station,” John added, nudging the boy forward. He was shorter than Derek, and smaller too, but Derek was intimidated nonetheless. He never really got along with the other boys at school; he was too quiet and liked books too much and didn’t like teasing girls at all, was an easy target for mockery because of his glasses and too-big teeth. 

Stiles had huge brown eyes that seemed to take up most of his round face; his cheeks were spotted with moles, and his nose was upturned in a way that almost made him look mean, reminded Derek of those boys at his old school. His dark hair was buzzed close, so short his pale scalp shone through and made him look even weirder, scarier somehow. He was wearing a dirt-smudged Pokemón t-shirt and plaid shorts, and around his skinny waist, a belt and holster, but instead of a toy gun, it held a plastic green lightsaber, the collapsible kind that Derek once hoped he would get for Christmas.

“Hi Derek,” Stiles said, like he was cautious too, but he smiled, and Derek felt a little better.

“Hi Stiles,” he answered, still getting used to the strange name. “Your lightsaber’s cool,” he offered, knowing how badly his mom wanted him to make a friend. 

“Do you like the Mets?” Stiles demanded, loud and insistent.

Derek was thrown by the sudden change in topic, but he managed to answer. “I like the Giants,” he answered, because that was his dad’s favorite baseball team.

Stiles’ brow furrowed in disapproval, but before he could object, one of the movers walked up and gave Derek his bike, the new black and red ten-speed his grandparents got him after the accident that was still too big for him.

“Whoa, dude, awesome bike!” Stiles exclaimed, his wild energy and rapid jumps from thought-to-thought leaving Derek a little stupefied, but strangely mesmerized. “Wanna go for a ride?”

Derek nodded, and he even smiled a little when he realized that he really did want to.


A couple of hours later, after pedaling through town to the tune of Stiles’ near-constant chatter, they ended up in the Preserve, at a stream that Stiles said was the best place to find tadpoles. They sat on the bank, cross-legged with a bucket between their scraped, dirty knees, watching their catch bounce around in the murky river water, and for the first time since they met, Stiles was quiet.

 “So your dad died,” he said finally, not looking up from where he was trying to feed the tadpoles tiny pieces of grass, the river murmuring beside them, songbirds chirping above.

“Drunk driver,” Derek explained, self-consciously scratching at the scar. “I was in the car.” Derek remembers letting out a loud, heavy breath, remembers feeling like they were on the verge of something he didn’t fully understand but knew that he wanted, needed.

“I was with my mom,” Stiles said, just as quiet, rubbing a hand over his shorn hair. “Cancer. It was just me and her when she…”

Derek looked up at Stiles then, imagining a pretty woman with big brown eyes and beauty marks and how much she probably hated that her son had to watch her die. He wondered if her eyes had the same look of despair that his dad’s had.

The whisper of the river became the tearing, scraping scream of metal-on-metal, the friendly chirps of the birds became shattering glass, the smell of clean, rich earth turned to gasoline and blood. Derek closed and his eyes and took five deep, steadying breaths, just like his mom taught him to do when the memories got too strong.

“I was unconscious by the time the ambulance showed up. They all think I got knocked out right away,” Derek told him, opening his eyes, relief flooding through him to finally tell someone the truth. He hadn’t told his mom, or their priest. Only God knew. And now Stiles. “Or they think I passed out from shock because of the glass in my arm. But I didn’t pass out until later,” Derek admitted. “Not until after he died.” He looked up, and Stiles was watching him, eyes wide and earnest. “We got to say goodbye,” he whispered. “And we prayed together one last time.” Derek thought about the rosary, how it was slick between their fingers with their blood.

After a long, still moment, Stiles reached over and gently, silently, ran his fingers along the length of Derek’s scar, the twisting pink ribbon of raised flesh running from elbow to wrist where a large sliver of the windshield had lodged, the only physical injury he suffered.

Stiles’ fingers were rough and dirty, but they felt smooth on the scar, cool and soothing.

Tentatively, Derek reached up with his other hand and ran his palm over Stiles’ head, his too-short hair stinging his palm.

It was strange, this oddly intimate touch with a boy he barely knew but for their shared grief.

Derek smiled softly to himself, still stricken, but no longer alone in it, peaceful.


After that first afternoon, they became inseparable. They grew up side-by-side, racing through the streets of Beacon Hills on bikes, exploring every inch of the Preserve, swimming at the community pool, pooling their allowances to buy comic books that they shared, sneaking into movies they weren’t allowed to see (always Stiles’ idea, of course). It wasn’t long before they practically lived at each other’s houses, planned sleepovers with sleeping bags in the basement giving way just falling asleep on a couch or floor or bed as they got older, Derek feeling just as home at the Stilinski house as he did in his own, and Stiles at his.

Stiles went to Mass with Derek sometimes, doing his very best to sit still through the service and always asking dozens of questions afterwards, which Derek always tried to answer as thoughtfully and thoroughly as possible. Other kids either mocked Derek’s religious devotion or regarded it – and thus him – with distant curiosity that often bordered on suspicion, but Stiles never did. From the very beginning of their friendship he had understood and accepted Derek’s faith, accepted him. He liked to tease him about it too, because Stiles, but Derek never felt belittled or offended by him.

Stiles understood, even when they were two sad, lonely kids, that his faith was about more than just religion; he knew that Derek’s dad had been a deacon in the Catholic Church and understood that their shared faith had been a huge part of their relationship, and that after his father died, Derek found solace and comfort in that, felt like he could still have his father with him, in some way, by loving God the way he had taught him.

Stiles didn’t believe the way Derek did, but Stiles believed in Derek, and Derek loved him for it.


The summer before freshman year, Stiles told him that he wanted to try out for the baseball team. Derek was excited for him, but selfishly, he was worried that this was the beginning of the end; that Stiles, already getting more popular at school, was beginning the inevitable distancing and ultimate abandonment of Derek. After all, it was one thing to be best friends with the quiet, nerdy Catholic kid in elementary and middle school, but Derek was sure that once they got to high school Stiles would drift away from him and to the popular crowd, where he truly belonged. But Derek still helped Stiles practice almost everyday that summer, and even jogged and lifted weights with him, and was genuinely happy for him when he made the JV team. 

The Monday after Stiles won a game with his first home run, Derek was in his usual corner of the library during their shared study hall period, studying his Catechism for his upcoming Confirmation and waiting for Stiles to join him at the table they always shared (not that Stiles ever did much studying, choosing instead to talk Derek’s ear off while rocking back on his chair, tossing a baseball into the air and catching it, the smack of it against his palm a metronome that provided a comforting shape and structure to Derek’s studying).

Stiles sauntered into the library, snapping his gum, and was delayed on his way over to Derek by Jackson and Danny, holding court with Lydia and Allison at the big table by the windows, as usual. They were slapping him on the back and talking about something that happened on the bus home from the game and Derek sat alone in the corner, watching him laugh with those guys, easy and loud and confident and everything Derek wasn’t.

When he eventually joined him, sitting on the table with his feet on the chair next to his, Derek tried to brush off the feelings of jealousy and anxiety, but apparently he didn’t do a very good job, because Stiles demanded to know what was bothering him within a matter of minutes.

Derek shrugged. “Nothing.” He tried to look back to his Catechism book, but Stiles snatched it from his hands and held it above his head.

“Now, Father Derek, haven’t you heard that lying’s a sin? Especially to Stiles. That’s like a mortal sin, I’m pretty sure, lying to The Stiles. I know it says that in here somewhere,” he teased, flipping through the dog-eared and heavily underlined pages.

Relenting, Derek crossed his arms and kept his eyes focused on Stiles’ callused hands – when they did get so big, so rippled with veins and so….capable? – on his book, too ashamed of his lie to look him in the eye. “I don’t mind, you know,” he said quietly, “if you wanna hang out with Danny and Lydia and all them instead of me.”

Stiles looked up at him then, light-hearted smile falling to a concerned frown, his eyebrows furrowing in the shadow cast by the brim of his hat. “What are you talking about, dude?”

Derek huffed, shifting awkwardly in his chair. “They’re all popular and pretty, and you’re like, one of them now. And I’m a nerd who wants to be a priest. I get it, Stiles. It won’t bother me if you’d rather hang out with them.” Derek was about to – pathetically – suggest that he’d even stop talking to Stiles at school, if he wanted – but Stiles doesn’t give him a chance.

“Well it would fucking bother me!” Stiles threw the book down on the table, was loud enough that Jackson glanced over to stare for a minute before scoffing and looking away.

Derek remembers looking up at Stiles then, remembers the strange mix of feelings that made his chest tighten and his cheeks warm: intense relief, yes, but something else too, a bloom of fierce affection, of something he couldn’t define, something that felt at once utterly familiar and terrifyingly new.

“Oh,” Derek said, smiling softly at him.

Stiles patted him on the shoulder, letting his big hand rest there. “No more of this nonsense, all right? You’re my best friend and that’s never going to change, no matter what. Okay?”


Stiles grinned and squeezed his shoulder, then hopped down from the table and fell into the chair next to him. He slid Derek’s Catechism book back to him and then reached across the table for Derek’s history textbook. “Besides,” he muttered under his breath, snapping the book open in mock indignation, “if one of us is going to be joining the pretty people herd, it’s definitely not gonna be me.”

“Huh?” Derek asked, pushing his glasses up his nose, confused, sure he had misheard him. 

Stiles sighed. “Nothing,” he said, giving him his best oh come on, Derek smirk. “It’s time to study, nerd.” 


The summer before junior year, Stiles lost his virginity to a girl named Heather from another school who he met at a party (that Stiles wanted Derek to go to, but he had a church retreat).

Stiles had gone on and on about having sex – how soft Heather’s skin was, and how good her breasts felt in his hands, how warm and wet she was, how crazy fucking good it felt to be inside of someone like that. 

They were in Stiles’ bedroom, watching movies and eating chips and candy, spread out on their bellies on the bed, still wearing sweat-and-dirt-stained clothes from their morning at the practice field – Derek had gotten pretty okay at pitching, good enough that he could help Stiles with batting practice.

Derek had blushed, thinking about Stiles and Heather, imagining his long fingers tracing her skin and exploring her body, wondered how she felt under his hands…wondered what she felt when Stiles kissed her. Stiles is probably a good kisser, he mused, probably good at other things too; he’s so eager and energetic and can be very graceful when he wants to be, and he’s so giving, he’d probably want to make his partner feel good. 

“Oh, sorry dude,” Stiles said, pulling Derek from his reverie.

 “Huh? Why?” Derek shifted on the bed, feeling suddenly very aware that their arms had been pressed together from elbow to wrist.

“I just, uh, realized that you probably don’t want to talk about sex and stuff.” 

“Why wouldn’t I?”

 Stiles looked embarrassed. “Well, you think sex is like, a sin or something right?”

“Sex isn’t a sin. It’s supposed to be like a Sacrament. It’s…special.”

“But sex before marriage is like, a huge sin to you, right?”

“Are you worried I’m going to judge you because you’re having sex?”

 “What? No way. You’re like, the least judgmental person ever dude, just like your main man, Jesus.” Stiles snickered and nudged him in the ribs. “I just don’t want to like, make you uncomfortable or whatever, going on about my sinful ways.”

Derek bit his lip, trying to find the words to explain it. “You know how I’ve been reading my dad’s essays on theology and the Church?” Stiles nodded. “He wrote about premarital sex, and he said, that the Church’s no sex before marriage obsession was political in a lot of ways, and that what really mattered was the spiritual connection between people who love and trust each other.” He looked over at Stiles, who was watching him with golden, thoughtful eyes. “I don’t judge you for having sex, Stiles. If it makes you happy and you feel good about it, I’m happy for you. Just because it’s not something I want to do doesn’t mean I can’t be a supportive friend to you.”

 Stiles smiled and watched him for a long time, with something Derek thought might have been awe, or wonder, or maybe just confusion.

“What?” Derek asked, bashful, awkward.

“Nothin’, man, it’s just....” Stiles looked him over, bright eyes darting over his shoulders, skipping down his back before looking him back in the eyes, cheeks a little splotchy. “You’re gonna be a really good priest someday, Derek,” he said finally, almost sounding resigned, but surely Derek was imagining things.


Stiles only dated Heather for a couple of months, and when they broke up, he began fooling around with other girls, and Derek heard every detail. Anyone else, Derek wouldn’t have listened, wouldn’t have wanted to hear such personal things. But Stiles never spoke about any of his dates or hook-ups disrespectfully, and he wasn’t bragging or showing off. He never talked about them with anyone else, Derek knew, and he told Derek because they always told each other everything.

Stiles talked about Heather and Braeden, Kira and Erica, with a sense of slightly-confused wonderment, going on and on about how pretty they were, how good their hair smelled; Derek heard, in great detail while they were playing video games, just exactly how Erica used her pierced tongue on him in the backseat of his Jeep; while they passed comics back and forth in Stiles’ basement, he learned that Braeden liked to be on top, which made Derek blush wildly; when they were fishing at their favorite spot in the Preserve, Stiles taught him about g-spots and told him how Kira showed him the best ways to go down on a girl.

Derek got more comfortable with talking about sex with Stiles (but only Stiles, too awkward to even mention the subject to anyone else, except to Father Deaton, but only in confession) usually able to put aside his shyness and just listen and help Stiles try to figure out how to use his newfound skills and experience to seduce Lydia Martin away from Jackson.

But sometimes, when Stiles had been particularly explicit about the details of his adventures, Derek would find himself thinking about it later, in bed, in the dark with his eyes closed tight, hovering on the edge of sleep and letting his carefully disciplined mind wander, imagining what all those beautiful girls felt when Stiles touched them. He wondered what they liked about him, how they kissed him, what he looked like when he…. 

Usually, he’d be able to rein in his imagination, push his mind away from his sinful thoughts and his arousal, mumbling pitiful acts of contrition as he tried not to writhe against the mattress, but even when he could control his urges and fall asleep, he’d often wake up with a shameful mess in his sheets. The twinge of lingering guilt he always felt upon discovering his body’s weakness was nothing compared to the guilt he’d feel after those rare nights he was too weak, too human; when he gave in, unfisting his hands from the sheets and slipping them into his boxers, touching himself furtively, quickly, biting his lip and trying not to make any noise, mind flooding with a wild array of fantasies, warm mouths and eager hands and hard nipples aching to be sucked, wet, hot bodies clenching and the spill of come across smooth skin, images supplied from Stiles’ vivid descriptions.

Surely that’s the reason why, when, once he’d give in completely to the forbidden pleasure, hips bucking up urgent and awkward, toes curling when he came himself, he was always thinking of Stiles, of what he might look like when he loses himself in pleasure, what it might feel like to have Stiles’ warm mouth on his, his eager hands on his cock, to suck on his sweet nipples when he comes in hard, hot spurts on Derek’s belly.

Surely that’s the reason why.


After hooking up with Jackson, Stiles decides that he’s ready to explore his attraction to guys more aggressively, and soon Derek is hearing about what it’s like to kiss someone with stubble and how a guy’s hands are bigger, rougher. He tells him about jacking off Danny in the locker room after practice (almost getting caught by Coach Finstock), about getting fingered for the first time by a college guy he met at another party, about how different it feels to get a blowjob from a guy than a girl, how hard it is to give a blowjob (after a few dates with Jordan, a senior lacrosse player), “what with all the sucking and slurping and trying not to choke to death.”

For some reason, just like the first time Stiles talked about that first time with Jackson, it’s more difficult for Derek to push these images out of his mind; with every new detail Stiles shares with him, he catches himself dwelling on the images they conjure long after Stiles has moved on to talking about the Mets and the latest Star Wars movie casting rumor and a dozen other things.

And even on the nights when he was strong enough to fight off his desires, there were still mornings where, in the shower, he was so hard it was nearly painful, had to make himself come just to get some relief, sin or not, unable to stop himself from hearing Stiles’ voice in his head and seeing the vivid images his words paint; Stiles, on his knees for Jordan, his red mouth enthusiastic and eager to please, moaning in unexpected pleasure when Jordan comes all over his face, making Derek come at the thought of looking down seeing those big, sweet brown eyes looking up at him, that sinful mouth smiling around his spurting cock.

Derek starts skipping morning Mass to jog the two miles to school to workout in the weight room before first period, trying to channel his sexual energies and his frustrating, confusing feelings about Stiles into physical activity. It works, a little, and is at least a distraction, but has some unintended effects. 

After a couple of months, he’s noticeably bulked up – so much so that most of his nice shirts and sweaters don’t fit anymore, and he’s stuck wearing too-tight v-necks that make him feel oddly exposed – and he can’t help but notice that people…well, that people notice him a lot more than they used to; eyes track his body when he walks across the classroom, heads turn when he walks through the halls, boys and girls, some of their stares shy and furtive, many of them openly wanton. The new attention is unsettling, and any brief moments of flattery he feels are sucked away by guilt at giving into pride.

One morning a few days before winter break, Derek walks out of the showers to his locker after his workout to find Stiles standing at his own locker next to his. Like Derek, Stiles is wearing nothing but a towel; but his skin is red with exertion and shiny with sweat where Derek’s is red with heat and damp with water that’s also dripping from his wet hair, mirroring the rainwater dripping from Stiles’, onto his shoulders and running in little rivulets down his chest.

Derek swallows, surprised to see him at school at this hour, suddenly feeling very self-conscious and incredibly aware of the fact that there’s nothing but two too-small threadbare towels keeping them modest. “You’re here early,” he says, trying to concentrate on remembering his locker combination.

Stiles rolls his shoulders and grins, tossing his clothes into the locker. “Yeah, I figured I’d follow your example and start jogging to school. Got to get back into shape for the season and shit.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? We can run and lift together like we used to, if you want.”

“Yeah? That’d be awesome, dude. I figured this was like, your special solo time, you know? What you do instead of jacking off like the rest of us.” He’s matter-of-fact and tactless, classic, perfect Stiles.

“Um,” Derek starts, not sure how to respond, but fortunately Stiles saves him.

“I get it, big guy,” he grins. “The whole celibacy thing, using physical activity to redirect energies and stuff.”

 Derek feels his cheeks coloring, his eyebrows rising in surprise. “You know that’s why,” he asks sheepishly.

“Like you’re the only one who can read your ‘how to be a good Catholic boy’ books.” He shakes his head, smiling. “Is it working? The exercise? Does it make you want to jack off less?" 

“Stiles,” Derek hisses, the flush creeping down his neck, half-embarrassed and half-confused, trying to figure out which of his several guides for the modern Catholic youth he’s stolen from him.

“Well,” Stiles needles, smirking now. “Does it work?”

Derek does his best to slip into his boxers without revealing too much and uses the towel to dry his hair. “Mostly,” he mumbles from underneath it, blessedly hiding his burning face.

Stiles snorts and snaps his locker shut, crossing his arms and leaning on one shoulder, pale, skinny thigh sticking from the ends of the towel hanging precariously on his narrow hips. “Well you’re definitely going to be the hottest priest anyone’s ever seen,” he says matter-of-factly, bright eyes bold at they dart up and down Derek’s torso.

“You’re ridiculous,” Derek tells him, but he can’t help but grin, heart racing for some reason. After all, this is Stiles, his Stiles, just being his normal absurd self. There’s no reason why his compliment should fill Derek with such excitement, and such pride too, but an odd, new pride that doesn’t feel tinged with guilt like when others comment on his appearance. It feels nice, feels right somehow, when Stiles looks at him with appreciation. 

“Just sayin’ man,” Stiles goes on, tapping his knuckles along the lockers in a rapid tattoo as he turns away to head for the showers. “That if you do ever decide to give up on the whole celibacy thing, you’ll have your pick of girls.” Stiles hesitates at the end of the row, eyes darting to Derek’s and then away again, lightning quick, knocking his knuckles against the metal one last time. “Or guys,” he adds, voice a little quieter, but with the edge of a question, maybe even a challenge, but he disappears around the corner before Derek can say anything.

Derek stares at the spot where Stiles was just standing. I choose you, he thinks; it’s unspoken but resoundingly loud nonetheless, echoing through his mind and jolting from his gut, his heart, like a reflex, like instinct.

Like Revelation.


“Bless us Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”

Derek finishes the blessing and he and his mother cross themselves and quietly and begin eating dinner, the lasagna Derek made so she’d have a good, hot meal waiting after her double shift.  

“Thank you for dinner, Der,” she says, looking very tired but happy, smiling with delight as she takes a bite. “I didn’t think it was possible, but your lasagna might be better than your dad’s.”

“It’s his recipe, I just used fresh tomatoes instead, the ones John gave us from his garden.”

“Well it’s perfect. You could be a chef, if you wanted. A good backup plan in case seminary doesn’t work out, huh, kiddo?” She smiles at him and sips her wine, giving him an all-too-knowing look.

“Well actually, um, I’ve uh…” he starts, still reeling a bit from his locker room epiphany last week. “I’m starting to rethink some plans,” he says cautiously, watching closely for her reaction.

“Rethinking the Jesuits?”

Derek nods, no longer feeling the same surety he once did about wanting to study and become ordained at the Jesuit School of Theology, just like his dad had once planned before he met and fell in love with Talia Hale. “I’m actually rethinking whether or I not I still want to be priest,” he says softly, small pang of guilt snarling in his chest, but something like relief too, to finally be admitting it.

She nods. “That’s normal, honey. What’s changed your mind?”

Derek feels his cheeks start to flush again. He pushes a sauce-stained noodle around his plate, into his untouched salad. “I think…” He takes a deep breath. “I think I have feelings for someone. For Stiles.”

Her smile is – well, it’s huge, and excited too, and she looks at him with utter delight. “John and I have been wondering when you two were going to figure it out. Looks like he owes me a six-pack,” she smirks. “He keeps saying it won’t happen until you’re in college.”

His fork clatters to the plate in shock. “You know? You…knew?”

“Sweetie, the way that boy looks at you, has always looked at you? And you’re happiest when he’s around, no matter what you’re doing. We always figured it was just a matter of time before the two of you realized it.”

Derek smiles softly, chest warming at the idea that maybe Stiles feels the same way about him, but that excitement falters a bit quickly. “Does this mean I’m gay? What about the Church?” he asks quietly, fear souring his stomach at the thought that he’s been avoiding ever since he started realizing his attraction to Stiles, terrified of what it means for his faith, his relationship with God.

His mom puts down her fork and reaches for Derek’s hands, holding them tightly in hers, strong and reassuring like always, even though his are the bigger pair now. Her casual, matter-of-fact attitude is all gone, and she’s looking at him fiercely in that way she has, her gaze vivid and fiery, just like the day after his dad’s funeral and she swore to him that she would never leave him, that she would always take care of him.

“Derek,” she says firmly. “You know I love the Church, and you know how much it meant to your dad. And I know how much your faith and your devotion to God means to you. But you also know that we both struggled with the Church’s more narrow-minded views on a lot of things, and there are some things that we don’t agree with, and that’s how we chose to raise you, to always think for yourself, even if it feels like you’re challenging the Church, or even God.”

Derek nods. He’s read his dad’s essays and journals half a dozen times, has talked to his mom about all of this before, and has even had many spirited, good-natured discussions about doctrine and the Church’s stance on homosexuality with Father Deaton, a very progressive priest in his own right.

She squeezes his hand tightly again. “I don’t know if your feelings for Stiles means you’re gay. That’s only something you can figure out. But I do know that the God I believe in, the God your father believed in, loves you, all of you, and that being true to yourself, and loving someone else, anyone else, is celebrating and loving God. And if your dad were here today, he’d say the same thing. And then he’d sit Stiles down and terrify him with a lecture about being good to his only son.”

Derek smiles, relieved and so incredibly grateful for his incredible mother, the familiar feeling, as usual, tinged with longing for his father, for how much they loved each other and how much she misses him too. “I guess you might have to do that then,” he teases, imagining his mother, casually cleaning her shotgun while lecturing Stiles about curfews and parking in cars.

Her laugh is bright and loud, and she finally lets go of Derek’s hands and returns to her dinner. “No need. John loves you like his own son, so I’m sure he’ll have that covered. And besides, Stiles adores you. You’re in very good hands.”

Derek snorts a laugh and picks his fork back up, and can’t keep seem to stop smiling.


After the surprising ease with which Derek was able to tell him mom about his feelings for Stiles and his evolving sexuality, telling Stiles, proves much more difficult.

A dozen times a day Derek wants to tell him. The words tangle on the tip of his tongue when they stand side-by-side at their lockers; when Stiles insists on taking him out for celebratory milkshakes after Derek wins the regional chess tournament; whey they’re fishing in their favorite spot; when they’re having their usual Sunday dinner out with their parents; every time he gets too distracted by his smile and his eyes and the way that in certain light, they glimmer with gold like the gilt-edge pages of Derek’s Bible; he catches himself looking for the adoration and awe his mother says has been there all along, and then realizing, heart racing, that his own face must be bearing a very similar expression, and then wonders what colors Stiles might see in his own eyes.

He finally finds the courage a couple weeks after he talks to his mom, on a Saturday when both of their parents are working the night shift. Stiles comes over for dinner and makes his specialty, macaroni and cheese with hotdogs, and they watch movies in his room, spread out on the bed on their stomachs, socked feet on the pillows until Derek starts to doze off around midnight.

“I should get going,” Stiles says, his voice thick with sleepiness, stretching a tanned, mole-speckled forearm over his head as the credits roll on Mad Max. He rolls off the bed, all nubile, graceless elegance, and Derek wants more than anything to pull him back to his bed and into a kiss, his first. 

Instead, Derek sits up and reaches towards him, grasping at his fingertips and gently pulling him back towards the bed. “Or you can sleep here.” He swallows hard, throat feeling thick and dry. “With me,” he adds, voice sounding far steadier than he feels.

They haven’t spent the night in the same bed since before high school, and Derek sees the exact moment when Stiles realizes what Derek’s asking, sees the way his sleepy eyes spark with recognition, watches his half-cocky grin blossom into a wide, glowing smile. Stiles looks him over, searches his face for a long beat before answering, fingers curling around Derek’s. “Um, yeah man. That’s…yeah, I’d like to.”

Derek lets out the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding and smiles too. “You can borrow pajamas,” he tells him, heart racing with nervous excitement.

Stiles nods and releases Derek’s fingers, the touch of his skin on his lingering like a promise. He helps himself to Derek’s dresser, grabs some clothes and then ducks out of the room to the bathroom, leaving Derek alone to change, and hopefully, settle his nerves. He doesn’t really know what he’s asking for, what exactly he wants, other than to touch Stiles and be touched by him, to be close to him and learn, finally, what it feels like to be wrapped up in those long legs and deceptively strong arms.

Derek stands to change out of his own clothes, stripping out of his jeans and t-shirt with hurried movements. He pauses at his dresser drawer, left open by Stiles, unsure what to change into. He sleeps hot, so he usually just wears boxers and nothing else to bed, but he’s not sure about that now. He settles on pair of thin cotton pajama pants, a little too short and too tight around the thighs, but slightly more modest than just his underwear, he hopes.

He’s debating on whether or not to put on a shirt when Stiles returns, a pair of Derek’s sweats hanging precariously low on his hips and one of his workout shirts, a white tank top, clinging to his pecs, a small wiry spray of dark hair peeking out from the top. It’s a little overwhelming, the sight of Stiles in his clothes, a hot rush of pride and satisfaction warming Derek all over. It’s hardly the first time he and Stiles have shared clothes, but there’s something different, a new intimacy, a promise in it now that makes Derek a little lightheaded.

“Bedtime?” Stiles asks, eyes flitting down Derek’s bare chest, lingering on his stomach.

Derek nods and makes a small noise of agreement, sure Stiles can hear his racing heart. Stiles snaps off the light and they move to the bed in near-darkness, the foggy slices of blue moonlight slipping in through the blinds lighting their way. He crawls in first, scooting towards the wall on his side, leaving his back to Stiles, who settles in behind him, just close enough that his chest brushes Derek’s bare back, his hips just a hairsbreadth from cradling Derek’s ass. “This okay?” He asks, a slight tremor to his voice, his breath hot, ghosting through his hair.

“Yeah,” Derek nods, his voice a barely audible whisper above the roaring of his heart. “This is nice.” He almost laughs at the sheer absurdity of the understatement, the excitement and bubbling joy he feels to be so close to Stiles like this, hovering on the edge of something they’ve been drifting towards for so long now, maybe since that very first day they met and somehow understood each other, somehow knew each other in ways no one else did or maybe ever could. It’s more than nice; it’s everything. 

Stiles lays a hand on his shoulder, tentative and cautious, cool skin against Derek’s warmth, sending a shiver down his spine. Silent except for the slight shuddering his breaths, like he’s overwhelmed too, he trails his fingers around the curve of Derek’s shoulder, down the rounded curve of his newly bulging bicep, taps a soft, gentling rhythm against his elbow. Derek’s eyes are closed, and he feels like he’s melting under Stiles’ touch, so new yet so familiar, all the guilt and shame he usually feels about arousal nowhere to be found, exorcised by the affection he feels in Stiles’ touch.

Stiles drags his fingers down Derek’s forearm, featherlight across the scar, still a gnarled knot of raised flesh, but faded pale now, stretched thinner in its longer track from elbow to wrist.

Derek moans softly at the touch, that same cool, soothing feeling of comfort and understanding shaking through him like it did that very first day as kids, when they found each other. Stiles covers Derek’s hand with his own, twisting their fingers together. “Is this okay?” he whispers, lips grazing the back of his neck.

“Yes,” Derek answers, pulling him closer to tuck Stiles’ hand and arm in close to his bare chest, Stiles’ own chest in Derek’s shirt pressed flush against his back, his hips notching in against Derek’s ass, fitting together like puzzle pieces. They lie still and quiet for a long time, rigid, nervous bodies relaxing once they settle into this new intimacy.

He can feel Stiles’ heart against his back, pounding in tandem with his own, and it’s so extraordinary, being this close to him, and he can’t even begin to imagine what it might feel like to share even more physical closeness with him. Derek moves their entwined hands, slow and deliberate, down his chest and stomach, stopping at the waistband of his too-tight sleep pants, a clear invitation.

Stiles goes rigid and alert again, a shaky, throaty, moan quivering into Derek’s ear, a quiet but sundering sound that rolls straight to his cock, already hardening fast, hips jerking back instinctively. “Derek,” he breathes into his hair, “as much as I want this, and oh fuck, you have no idea how much I want this, how much I want you, isn’t this…not okay? With your celibacy thing and stuff?”

Derek smiles into his pillow – only Stiles could sum up the Catholic Church’s problematic relationship with sexuality and queers and Derek’s radically changing faith with the perfectly inflected celibacy thing and stuff. He untangles his fingers from Stiles and rolls over so they’re face to face, bodies still close. Stiles rests his arm on the v of Derek’s waist, long fingers dipping into the dimples at the base of his spine, fingertips dragging in small, soothing circles. “Remember how you said that if I ever changed my mind about celibacy, I could….” Derek bites his lip, watching the curious curve of Stiles’ grin in the moonlight.

“Have anyone you wanted?” There’s wonder and awe in his voice, relief and a hint of pride too, a new timbre to his voice, deeper and richer than Derek’s ever heard.

Derek nods. “I want you,” he says, voice barely a whisper, inching closer.

Stiles moves too, so close their noses brush together, their foreheads press close. “Derek,” he whispers, a throaty, thick purr that’s somehow still teasing, quintessential Stiles, pitched perfect to crawl under Derek’s skin and light him up even more, “do you want to be sinful with me?”

Derek shakes his head, and Stiles’ eyes widen in surprise but before he can say anything, Derek closes the distance between them, finally, and presses his lips to Stiles’ open mouth, reaching for his first kiss. Stiles recovers quickly and pulls him closer, deepening the kiss, licking hungrily into his mouth, hands gripping harder at his back.

“You don’t feel like a sin,” Derek murmurs against his lips, letting his hands run down Stiles’ back.

“Oh yeah?” Stiles rolls his hips, hard and insistent, making sure Derek can feel his cock tenting his borrowed sweats, jutting into his hip. 

Derek answers in kind, rocking his hips, so hard now the tip of his own cock is poking through the fly of his pants, and he’s wet too, streaking a line of precome across Stiles’ – Derek’s – sweats. They’ve barely touched each other and Derek already feels overwhelmed, dizzy with new lust, one that doesn’t feel shameful, but achingly pure, true and good and absolutely perfect.

Derek cups his face and stares into eyes for a long moment before kissing him again, gentle and loving, whispering against his lips. “You feel like a sacrament.”


 “Show me,” Stiles whispers, even though they’re alone in the house, as if this new intimacy is fragile and must be handled with care. They’re naked now, and Derek is panting, laid out on his back in the middle of the bed, neck and stomach shiny with saliva and red with blossoming hickies; Stiles is on his knees between his spread legs, looking down and Derek and grinning at the mess he’s made of him, his hands anchored firmly on his quivering thighs. “Touch yourself for me,” he commands, voice still a whisper, but now a needy, aching one.

Derek obeys, gratefully, untwisting one hand from the sheets to fist around his dick, which Stiles still hasn’t touched, this devious, beautiful boy who he loves so much; who, after Derek admitted his weaknesses, took a cocky, delighted pleasure in mumbling a rant of curses and appreciation for the sprouts of dark chest hair and his newly rippling abs while slowly kissing his way down his body, and then sat back on his heels and demanded to see how Derek touched himself those nights he gave into his fantasies about Stiles.

Derek slides his palm over his tip to get some slick, pulls and teases at his foreskin, eyes locked on where Stiles’ tongue is dragging back and forth over his lips. He strokes himself quickly, too close to the edge to be slow or teasing, if he even knew how to tease. Hips buck up into his hands as he strokes faster, Stiles urging him on with hungry grunts, one hand still gripping at his thigh, the other now stroking his own cock. “Fuck, Derek,” he moans, hand working faster, harder, the hand on his thigh dragging up to cup at his aching balls. Stiles seems like he’s going to say more, but instead he lets out a groan, and his back arches in a gorgeously swooping arc, his hips jerking wildly, his thick, warm bursts of come coating Derek’s hand, still stroking hurriedly over his own dick. 

With Stiles’ come slicking him more, the sizzle of it lighting up his skin and sending pulses of hot pleasure through his body straight to his core, Derek comes with a shout, Stiles’ name half-formed on his lips, spilling heavily onto his stomach.

Stiles, awed expression cast in blue moonlight, watches, mouth open and panting, eyes wide and glittering like he’s seeing something miraculous, and through the shivering trembles of his pleasure, Derek looks up at him, overwhelmed, because he feels the exact same way.


Seven months later


“Stiles, I’ve been to our fishing hole a thousand times, why on earth would you need to blindfold me?” Derek tries to undo the knot in his Star Wars tie that Stiles wrapped around his eyes after he drove them to the northernmost trailhead in the the brand new Camaro his grandparents got him for his seventeenth birthday.

Stiles swats his hand away, taking him by the wrist and leading him along the well-trod trail they’ve raced each other down for years. “Because it’s our anniversary and I have a romantic and sexy surprise planned, nerd.”

Derek snorts and let Stiles lead him along the path, veering off the main path to the less-frequented, overgrown trail that leads to the small clearing next to the creek Stiles brought him to the day they met years ago. It’s just after dark, and Derek can see a tiny sliver yellow light from the flashlight Stiles is carrying up ahead of him, his long fingers circling Derek’s wrist. 

He grins, elated, because his adorable, absurdly beautiful boyfriend has spent the afternoon preparing a special surprise for him, and not just for their anniversary: this is also the night they’ve decided to have sex for the first time.

They’ve been taking it slow for the past several months, easing into the change in their relationship, exploring their sexuality and their feelings for each other together, slowly, intimately, as only best friends can. They stay up late countless nights talking about the difference between spirituality and religion, faith and love, trust and honor, commitment and sex.

Stiles has never had anal, and of course neither has Derek, and they decided together to wait until they both felt completely ready; Stiles has gently eased Derek out of his celibacy, making sure he’s been comfortable and pleased every step of the way, as they’ve helped each discover what they like and what they don’t. They’ve shown each other new ways to know their bodies, have explored and kissed and worshipped every inch of each other’s skin, have learned so many ways to make each other tremble and gasp and cry out in joy, and it feels right and good to Derek, because Stiles.

They’ve watched porn together, Derek red-faced and shy at-first but losing his modesty quickly, and they’ve done all kinds of research on hygiene and safety and preparation. Stiles always used condoms with everyone he was with before Derek, and of course, Stiles’ is Derek’s first everything, but they both get tested just to be smart. They’ve learned everything they can about being responsible and safe, and they know each other’s bodies as well their own, and Derek is practically dying to make love to him, finally.

Stiles is insistent that Derek lost his virginity the moment he came with Stiles’ assistance, but they both know tonight is something special, Derek giving himself to Stiles in this way, Stiles offering himself in return.

Derek has reconciled his faith with his sexuality and his desires, necessarily pulling away from the Church a little, but feeling happy and supported in that decision, knowing in his heart that his dad would be proud of him.

He still goes to Mass a couple times of month, and sometimes Stiles still tags along (the last time, he lured him into the confessional for a quick blowjob, and any residual guilt Derek had simply fueled his lust, and the pleased, self-satisfied smirk on Stiles’ come-streaked face was so fucking beautiful it made him believe in God even more).

“Just one more minute,” Stiles says, stilling Derek’s walk with a hand on his hip. The blindfold is still on, but Derek is pretty sure he knows exactly where they are – he reaches out his left and takes a step sideways until his fingers brush the smooth surface of the large, almost-flat-topped boulder that rests on the bank of the creek at their fishing hole. He smiles, pleased with himself, and cocks his head, listening to Stiles move around; he hears the whirr of a heavy zipper, and then Stiles muttering to himself, something about hoping the batteries still work. “Okay, it’s ready,” he says finally, just as Derek hears the unmistakable pop of a champagne bottle uncorking. “You can take off the blindfold.” 

Derek pulls the fabric from his eyes, and nearly melts to the forest floor. Stiles is holding a champagne bottle and two plastic glasses, grinning hugely, standing next to a tent set up in the small clearing next to the river, in the very same spot they sat as children years ago, when they began to fall in love.

The tent is new, and bigger, nicer than the one they usually take camping; it’s been hung with strings of star and crescent moon-shaped lights, glowing white and dreamy in the dark, illuminating the scatter of rose petals, pinks, reds, and whites, all over and around the tent, a path of them leading from Derek’s feet to the open door of the tent, to Stiles. The inside of the tent is lit up too, gentle light spilling from the open door and the half-open side windows; Derek can see that Stiles has laid out an abundant nest of blankets and pillows, every square inch of the tent floor covered.

 “Happy anniversary,” Stiles smiles, holding up the champagne. “I stole this from Jackson’s house,” he explains, glowing smile turning to a devious smirk. “It was either that or try get some communion wine again, and I doubt Father Deaton would appreciate me stealing the soon-to-be blood of Christ so I can more romantically devirginize his favorite former altar boy.”

 Derek crosses the distance between them with two long strides so he can kiss the smirk from Stiles’ face, laughing against his lips. “I love you so much, you beautiful, blasphemous little shit.”


“Oh my God,” Derek whines when Stiles first pushes into him: it’s the first time he’s ever taken the Lord’s name, and Stiles knows it, his eyes huge, awed, smiling down at him, one hand cradling the back of Derek’s neck, the other guiding his slick cock into him. It’s a blistering hot, pleasure-spiked-with-good-pain, a dizzying array of sensation that makes Derek, still heady and reeling from his second orgasm of the night, gasp and swear and buck his hips up for more.

Stiles continues his painstakingly slow push, leaning down to kiss him, licking into his to mouth to drink up his moans, gasping and cursing himself as he settles deeper still, dragging his swollen lips across Derek’s flushed, bristled cheeks. Stiles traces the tracks of Derek’s tears, dragged from his lovestruck eyes when Stiles was licking him open, when he was on his elbows and knees, biting into the pillows but still crying out, Stiles teasing and sucking at his rim, spreading and squeezing his hickied ass. Stiles had scissored his long, spit-slick fingers in alongside his tongue, stretching, delving into him as far as he could, curling his knuckles just so to tease at his prostate, dragging Derek to the edge again and again before finally letting him come again, giving Derek his fist to spill into, using his come to slick his cock, slipping his fingers into Derek’s mouth, demanding that he suck them clean before turning him onto his back and piling pillows under his hips to fuck him properly.

“Stiles.” His hands grip at his back, digs his nails into his sweaty skin. “Please,” he whines, not sure what exactly he’s asking for, except that wants, needs more. He already feels like he’s combusting with how hot he feels, how good, how right it feels to take Stiles inside of him, his body gripping and clenching, instinctive.

 Stiles answers with a firm thrust, burying his cock fully in his ass and his face fully in his neck, biting and grunting. The pain is a bright sizzle that flames into a rush of hot pleasure that burns low in his belly and makes him buck up again, harder and more insistent this time, wrapping his legs around Stiles’ hips, starting to rock in slow, steady rolls. He’s got his hands in Derek’s hair now, tangling his fingers and pulling lightly, just enough to pull Derek’s neck back so he can lick and kiss at his bite marks. Derek grasps his ass and pulls him in harder, faster, his cock trapped between their sweaty bellies, muttering Stiles’ name over and over again into his shoulder, a blessing, a prayer, a benediction.

“Derek, not gonna last,” Stiles words are broken and jumbled huffs into his neck, and his thrusts get more wild, more urgent. “Fuck, you’re so tight…feel so fucking good…oh my god Derek.” Stiles shudders and shakes, a quaking tremor running through him that Derek is blissfully familiar with by now, but this time, it’s so much more. This time, Stiles’ orgasm is reverberating from deep inside Derek, making him feel full and alive, and that’s when he finally, truly realizes that loving someone is loving God.

Stiles’ cock is rocking against his prostate, and the piercing pleasure drags Derek over his own edge again; his nails dig into the tender flesh of Stiles’ flexing and twitching ass, trying to bring him in even deeper as they come together. Derek spills between them, this new ecstasy surging through him longer and with more intensity than any orgasm he’s ever been blessed to have at the mercy of Stiles’ talent and generosity, his love.

He’s not sure how much later it is when they come back to themselves after Stiles slumps over him in an exhausted heap, covering him like a blanket, Derek’s arms wrapping snugly around his back, holding on tight.

Stiles eventually rises up from Derek’s chest, sweat-and-come sticky, up on his elbows, the glittering lights haloing his disheveled hair, sleepy eyes gilded and warm. He runs his fingers through Derek’s hair and kisses him gently, almost chastely, and then gazes down at him with a look that Derek, in his bliss, can only describe as rapturous.

“How do you feel?” Stiles whispers, tracing a delicate finger across Derek’s brow, down his cheek, across the sharp angle of his jaw and over his lips.

 Derek smiles up at him, knowing his own face must mirror Stiles’ look of awe and adoration. “Peaceful.”

“Good,” Stiles smiles, crawling off of him to grab something else out of the bag of supplies he packed. “I have an anniversary gift for you,” he says, curling up next to him and placing a small, leather-bound box on his chest and pulling a soft flannel blanket up over them.

“I thought this was my gift,” Derek says, gesturing towards the tent and the lights, towards Stiles.

“It is,” Stiles explains. “This is for both of us,” he adds, tapping the box.

Derek rolls to his side and props up on an elbow to face him, planting a kiss on his forehead before opening it, revealing two silver rings.

“You’ve stopped wearing your chastity ring, because, duh,” Stiles grins. “But I notice that you still reach for it when you’re anxious.”

“Nervous habit,” Derek murmurs, shrugging.

“It soothed you. I thought these might be a good replacement.” He nods toward the rings, and Derek takes a closer look. The inside of the box is lined with silver satin emblazoned with the Star Wars logo; Derek angles the box and squints, without his glasses, to read the rings’ inscriptions in the low light.

I love you, one of them reads. I know, reads the other.

“Oh my gosh, you nerd,” Derek practically squeals, kissing Stiles furiously, because he’s ridiculous and perfect and his.

Stiles grabs one of the rings - I love you - and slips it on Derek’s finger; Derek follows suit with I know, both of them grinning like fools, and they fall asleep like that, bodies and fingers intertwined, at peace.

the end.