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Stiles sauntered into the loft, threw his stripped off hoodie onto the couch with nary a glance at Derek’s disapproving brow.

“Hey shitface,” he drawled. “What you doin’?”

Derek, nonverbal and reading the paper over by the arching windows of the loft, just growled low in his throat.

“Oh, chatty today, lucky me.”

“What.” Derek sighed out, feeling extremely burdened.

“You better keep a lid on that excitement there, buddy, someone could get hurt.” Stiles sniggered.

“Why are you here, Stiles?”

“I’m staging an intervention,” he announced, and strode up to the vast table where Derek was sitting. But because he’s Stiles and Stiles likes to ruin Derek’s life, instead of taking the chair next to him he hitches up his hip and plants his ass on the table right at the edge of Derek’s newspaper, legs swinging over the edge. “Dude, as if you read the paper. Why do you need to know current events? Oh my god, you’re reading the politics section. Wait. Wait, I’ve just realised you’ve probably voted before. You’re a voter, a person who votes, a person who goes specifically to vote – aren’t you?”

“Yes, Kronk”. Derek said without looking up.

Stiles spluttered, gross and shameless. Derek kept his head down to suppress his smirk.

“Oh my god, you did not just say that, who are you?”

“Stiles, what are you doing here?” Derek finally raised his head to look at him, and schooled his face into careful indifference despite the pleased little curl in his belly at having Stiles in his space. Gone were the days when Derek would be alarmed at Stiles’ sudden arrival. The pack still faced supernatural hijinks regularly but Stiles seemed to materialise out of nowhere whenever he felt like it, emergency or no; specifically to test Derek’s commitment to Scott’s ‘no kill’ policy, it seemed. His presence hadn’t meant impending danger in a long time and if anything, had become one of the few things that could actually set Derek at ease.

Which, he was absolutely not going to analyse. Nope. Not at all.

“Oh! Right, intervention. Your intervention. You need a new place, or, at least, a place less shitty. You need to consider sprucing up the joint. I mean not that the loft isn’t great just the way it is, especially this cosy gloominess and your shabby chic minimalist décor, but, how are we supposed to have super funtime pack movie nights with only one couch? And I read something that said under-floor heating is great for open plan living like this, so there’s that.”

“You want me to renovate the loft.”

“How do you do that? It’s like you’re asking a question but you’re not, there’s literally no inflection, and yet I still feel like I have to justify myself. You should be a police interrogator. People would confess out of sheer confusion-“

“Stiles.”

“Right. Thank you. Yes, I think you should renovate the loft. Or get a new place entirely.”

Derek paused.

“I don’t want a new place.”

Stiles looked at him, blinked, and seemed to frown in his considerations.

“Are… Are you sure? I mean, you don’t have to stay here. I know you have a thing about living in places that are difficult to live in for whatever reason, hideout or martyrdom or whatever, but if you don’t want to be here anymore, you don’t have to. You’re…” Stiles blew a harsh breath out through his nose, frustrated. “You’re allowed nice things, for fuck sake.”

Derek blinked at him and sat up a little straighter, like a sudden bolt of electricity had slithered up his spine.

“Yeah I - I know that, Stiles,” he swallowed thickly. “It’s not that, I’m just used to this place.” Usually Stiles would let him get away with vastly inadequate explanations. Not this time, apparently, if Stiles’ impatient gesture that meant something like ‘elaborate’ was anything to go by. Derek sighed. “It takes a long time usually for born wolves to get settled in a new den, get your scent to cover up what was there previously. And for me, it takes even longer, for reasons I’m sure I don’t have to recall to you. Call it a sense of dwelling impermanence. I’m finally settled here. I just- I don’t want to start over.”

Stiles was nodding slowly, eyes on the floor but clearly listening.

Derek stayed silent and grasped the corner of his page between his fingers, played with it until the newsprint ink rubbed off onto his skin, folded it over in a harsh line.

“Would that, the scent thing, be a problem if you renovated?”

A shrug. “Not for as long as a totally new place.” It would be like painting onto a fresh canvas, instead of painting over a work that already existed. But he was getting the sense that there was more behind Stiles’ words today than usual. Derek studied Stiles for a moment, and to give him his credit, the kid held his eye all the while, letting him. “Stiles… why are you really so intent on this?”

At that Stiles did look away, jaw clicking like the thought occurring on his tongue was unpalatable. Derek waited. He’d learned easily enough – in a matter of days, actually – that if he just stayed quiet, eventually Stiles would say something. Often what he said was deflective, or an attempt at levity. But for every ten flippant comments there was one that came out that was raw, unguarded… important.

Stiles blew out a breath.

“I… I don’t want this place to end up like a shrine,” he glanced at Derek, and obviously having confirmed that there was now a deep frown on those brows, ploughed forward frantically in his typical fearless way. “This place hasn’t changed a bit since all of the terrible, awful, very bad things happened here. And I don’t think there’s a single one of us that doesn’t wonder how you can stand it – because we can’t, the pack I mean, I’m pretty sure we all get reminded every time we’re here. And it’s not like it isn’t hard enough already trying to deal with the shit we do, but, seriously how can you live here like- like it’s some kind of timecapsule? You do that, I know you do. You did it with your old house, you did it with your car, and frankly it drives me totally fucking insane. Because you’re not something that belongs in a timecapsule, Derek. Okay? You’re here, with us, and you’re alive and you have things ahead of you. You can’t be fucking frozen in time like this, man. It’s not right, not to mention unhealthy. So, yeah, I want you to renovate, or redecorate or something just to stop me from thinking that you’ve bricked yourself in here like some living reliquary for all the fucked up things done to you. Okay?”

Stiles finally stopped talking, expelling a heavy sigh like it was pulled out from him bodily, and all the while, Derek gaped at him. Although, to be fair, as far as Derek knew his face was exactly the same, but inside, there was definitely gaping. There was a tolling gratitude over Stiles’ concern for him, huge guilt over making the pack come to a place that burdened them, a sadness at being reminded of the worst times here, the pang of defiance and pain at the words ‘things done to you’ rather than ‘things you did’, and an ice cold feeling of vulnerability when he realised just how well Stiles knew him. He swallowed heavily, unable to decide which of the thousands of reactions going through his head ought to be voiced first. What came out was less than desirable.

“Feel better?”

Stiles shot him a glare, which softened at the obviously contrite look on Derek’s face.

“Look,” Stiles sighed. “The point is I want you to feel better… Humour me?”

They hadn’t moved, and Derek had to tilt his head upwards to look Stiles in the eye, which he realised immediately after doing so was a terrible idea. They had leaned unconsciously closer to each other, at some point, and Stiles seemed to be looking at him like a scientist looks at a slide under a microscope, scared of what world altering thing he would find there. It was disconcerting. Derek shouldn’t be world altering, not to anyone.

But it was the ‘humour me’ that got him. In perfect truth, any objections Derek might have voiced would have just been for the sake of talking shit to Stiles, having Stiles give as good as he got; it was the way they worked.

But actually, all Stiles ever had to do was utter some variant of ‘do it for me’ – and Derek would.

Every time.

“Okay.”

Stiles blinked, his shoulders dropping, making Derek realise that they may have been hunched up defensively this whole time. “Okay?”

“I’ll renovate the loft. Am I right in thinking that you already have ideas for what to do, seeing as how you can never let something go?”

Stiles huffed a laugh. “I worry about how well you know me.”

Derek did, too. “Oh god. That’s a yes,” he grumbled instead.

“Pfff, of course that’s a yes. I am this pack’s google ninja, as if I didn’t secretly take measurements of your loft last week and maybe also illegally hack the records of the company that used to own this building and got the blueprints so I knew the dimensions. But we’re not going to talk about that. Look at these.”

Derek didn’t have time to yell at him for any of that before Stiles’ phone was shoved under his nose, open to an album in his pictures gallery. Each photo appeared to be from magazine-ready shoots of stylised living spaces, all open plan, some resembling the loft’s space.

“Where did you get all these, Pinterest?”

“Oh my god, there is no way you know what that is. Shut up.” He tapped a photo, made a scoffing noise, and swiped to the next one. Which boasted a photo of a clinical white open space with minimalist furniture.

“No,” Derek said immediately.

Swipe. Now it was all bright colour, a shag carpet.

“No.”

Swipe.

“No.”

Swipe.

Derek tried so hard not to notice the smile that broadened on Stiles’ lips with every slightly offended ‘no’ he ground out, and failed miserably. When had he stopped being annoyed that Stiles took delight in his bad manner?

“You know for someone who used to live in a train car, you’re suddenly very picky.”

Derek huffed. “To be fair, when have you ever known me to do something half-assed?”

Stiles tilted his head, conceding. “Fair point.”

Swipe.

“No.”

“Oh my god.”

Swipe.

“No.”

“You are the worst person, I really liked that one.”

“Good thing you don’t live here then.”

Yet.”

Derek paused, there was a challenge in Stiles’ eyes that sparked an unseemly flicker of hope in him. Yet. Except the Derek that Stiles knew wouldn’t react that way.

“Don’t you dare,” he menaced.

Stiles laughed. “Calm down, grumpywolf, I won’t invade your territory, okay?”

Swipe.

“No.”

Swipe.

“That’s marginally better.”

“Ha HA!”

Swipe.

“I don’t hate it.”

“Ain’t that a fucking victory.”

“Shut up.”

Swipe.

“Wait… I don’t mind that one. Maybe a little less country garden. But other than that, it’s… nice.”

Stiles stared at him in over exaggerated shock. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Derek Hale’s got taste. Holy shit. What a revelation.”

“Fuck off,” Derek muttered, even as he smothered his grin into his hand.

“Jerk. But hey, that’s no problem, in fact that’s probably the easiest aesthetic to work with in this space…” Stiles trailed off, eyes flicking between the photo on his phone and the rest of the loft. Derek watched him, could see the calculations rattling past behind his eyes, more than a little gratified at how Stiles lit up now that he was clearly taking charge of the planning process. “All we have to do is get rid of the flowers and that’s the country garden aspect gone. The rest is just making what you’ve already got more sophisticated. The black steel, exposed brick. You could get wooden floorboards in here if you want, but I reckon you could also just polish this concrete and it would look awesome. Dude, look the windows in the photo are even the same shape.”

Stiles was so fixated on his task that Derek felt safe enough to smile, small and content, without being noticed. “Yeah but the ceilings are twice as high,” he said softly. “We’ll have to figure out what to do with those pendant lights.”

This broke Stiles out of his reverie, made him snap his eyes back to Derek in surprise. They looked at each other for a long moment, not uncomfortably, but fixed and unwavering.

“They’d probably have to be industrial ones anyway…” Stiles muttered absently.

Not breaking eye contact, though his heart was hammering, Derek reached out and took Stiles’ phone from his hand. He stood, slowly, and took the two steps needed to stand right in front of Stiles, close. He watched the slight bob in Stiles’ throat as he swallowed thickly, the tremble of his eyelashes when his eyes widened. Derek could make neither heads nor tails of either heartbeat, now.

He looked down at the phone, considering the photo again, and only in the illusory safety of not being able to see the person watching you, stepped up to the table’s edge, between Stiles’ legs, his hips sliding flush with the inside of Stiles’ thighs.

Neither of them said anything, but after a moment Stiles’ hand floated up from where it had been placed on the table and settled itself innocently on the curve of Derek’s hip, and Derek knew that his sheer lack of reaction to it would be all the permission Stiles needed. Sure enough, the fingers tightened on his flesh, and the knowledge of who they belonged to was heady and terrifying; Derek could honestly say he’d never been in a more inescapable situation, being tied up and tortured included. But still he focused on the picture, breathing a little heavier.

“And did you have any idea,” he said. “Of how you wanted your room to look?”

At that Stiles’ heart did a funny lurch, and Derek could hear it. He looked up to see those brown eyes wider than he’d ever seen them, when it wasn’t from sheer terror.

“My what?”

“Your room,” he whispered. “You said ‘yet’, before, and I figure if you’re planning to live here at some point, we may as well get the place ready all in one go.”

Derek watched, fascinated, as a blush crept slow and rosily up Stiles’ neck, watched the little bob in Stiles’ throat as he swallowed again. Lowering his arm Derek dropped the phone – whose screen had long since gone dark – silently to the table, and brought his now free hand to rest lightly against the top of Stiles’ thigh.

“You’d…” Stiles cleared his throat, fidgeted. “You’d actually let me live here?”

Derek nodded, slowly, hoping his eyes were conveying how very much he meant it.

That honey gold turned to liquid and Stiles let out a shaky breath, lowering his eyes just when Derek thought he would be lost in them.

“I can’t believe you’d trust me like that,” Stiles muttered lowly, shaking his head. Something dark twisted in Derek’s gut, knowing that the remark wasn’t in regard to his own innumerate trust issues so much as it was to how, deep down, Stiles still thought they should have been wary around him. Stiles equated being trustworthy with being a good person; believing that he wasn’t the latter meant he couldn’t possibly be the former. But it didn’t work like that. Derek trusted Stiles without question because he knew him, understood him. He knew Stiles’ faults and darknesses, and trusted that in the right circumstances, Stiles would do what a good person could never permit. There was security, there, in such a certainty.

“I know you,” was all he said, though, punctuated with a slight squeeze of his hand on Stiles’ thigh.

Stiles nodded weakly, still not meeting his eyes. It wasn’t something that could be fixed in one conversation, which was fine. Derek could wait.

He cleared his throat, and when he spoke it was lighter, dispelling the tension in the room. “Although to be honest, whenever I’ve imagined you living here – “ at that Stiles snapped his head up.

“You’ve imagined it?”

Rude. Don’t interrupt,” Derek said churlishly, and the playfully annoyed look on Stiles’ face rewarded him. He smirked and let his voice go soft. “Whenever I imagined you living here, I’d never, actually… imagined you needing your own room.”

Stiles balked at him, his breath making a near inhuman sound as it cut off abruptly in his throat. His eyes were so comically wide that Derek felt like contacting some sort of authority to have them measured, see if they broke any international records. The grip on Derek’s hip was suddenly tight, inescapable. The only thing that was easing Derek’s anxiety over his forwardness a little bit, was the unmistakable glimmer of hope etched on Stiles’ face. He looked about to speak, but the words were bitten back by the unrelenting clench of teeth over that ridiculous bottom lip; where Derek’s gaze lingered far too long.

“Ohh, oh my god,” Stiles suddenly whined. “Derek, fuck, just… Just what the fuck are you saying here? Please for the love of god just tell me because unless it’s what I really, really, hope you’re saying, this is about to get super incredibly humiliating for me and I would like it over with sooner so that I can go book my fucking ticket to Reykjavik or somewhere where I intend to live as a hermit and not ever have to see your stupid face again. Fuck.”

“Stiles.”

“WHAT.”

Derek brought his hand up, curled it around the fist that had wound its way into the fabric of his shirt as Stiles grew increasingly frustrated. Stiles looked at their hands in surprise, his own apparently having made the journey up Derek’s chest of its own accord.

He doesn’t know what possessed him, but all the aching and sweetly silent devotion that had been tamped down and trodden over for years came finally spewing out in a flurry of blushing words, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

“I mean,” Derek said firmly, shifting his weight, and his heart still hammered hopelessly when Stiles’ eyes settled on his again. “That if you were ever to live here, I wouldn’t want you sleeping anywhere but my bed. Our bed. Because I couldn’t stand you living here in any context other than us being together. And unless you’ve got some pretty immediate objections, right now I want to kiss you. Then I want to take you on ridiculous dates, suck up to your father so he approves of me, and gross out the pack with how much I can’t stop touching you. And I want to be the one you can call late at night when you wake up from one of the nightmares I know you still have, and the one that will sit with you and watch any inane stupid movie you want just because you enjoy it, and the one who’ll wake up to your tired puffy face and hideous morning breath and still never want to be anywhere else. Until I get to wake up to that every day, because maybe you’ll be here, and I won’t be imagining it anymore.”

As someone who had quite literally spilled his guts before, or had them spilled by other evil parties, Derek could safely attest that it was a pretty good metaphor for what he felt like he’d just done. Everything he was, was now open and raw. He dropped his eyes from Stiles’ frozen, shocked gaze, and was halfway to chastising himself for ever being this vulnerable when Stiles’ brain apparently came back online.

“Holy shit,” he spluttered, and the hand on Derek’s hip let go, only to clap around his neck, instead, urging his jaw up until his gaze was caught up in Stiles’ wide eyes, again. “Holy shit, Derek. You love me. You fucking love me.”

He nodded helplessly, leaning into Stiles’ palm.

“Yeah,” he breathed. “I really fucking do.”

Derek could never figure out who moved first, but liked to think it was a mutual synchronised thing. The kiss, when it came, wouldn’t have been pretty to anyone watching; it was too desperate, too biting. There was no slow progression, just fierce pressure as soon as their lips touched, staking claim, the grip around Derek’s neck tightening when he brought a hand up to cradle Stiles’ jaw, feeling the joint work as Stiles opened up for him instantly, instinctually. Derek’s eyes shut so tight there were sparking misfires of light on the otherwise blackness, like goddamn fireworks as he licked into Stiles’ mouth like he were trying to crawl inside. There’d been too much leading up to this moment, so much riding on it now, and Derek felt the weight of it all as he tried to carve a space for himself in Stiles’ life with his tongue and his lips.

Stiles’ legs only curled around him and drew him in closer.

Teeth suddenly bit, sharp and bright, into Derek’s bottom lip and something just seemed to unlock in his chest, primal and raw. With a groan, he used the slight height advantage of their position to angle his head downward, forcing Stiles to lean up into the kiss, and tried just that little bit harder to eclipse every kiss he’d had before. Derek’s shoulders had risen higher and higher, and when he brought his other hand up to cradle Stiles’ face between his palms, he realised he was trying to curl around Stiles and envelop him like armour, like he could shield him from everything. Even though he knew it was only because Stiles was tolerating it. Humouring him.

The hand that had been clenched in Derek’s shirt snaked its way down and around his side, until Stiles had him by the small of his back, pressing closer, ever closer. Derek could feel each fingertip, heat searing into his skin as little shocks ran happily up his spine. The gasps they were letting out sounded pained even though, actually, they were the result of an overwhelming, bone deep relief that was, thank the fucking gods, entirely mutual.

Suddenly there were fingers in Derek’s hair and with a gasp he was being pulled away, eyes flying open. A whine built up in his throat at the loss, but was cut off.

“I love you too,” Stiles blurted, voice raspy and wrecked, and he leant forward and rested their foreheads together, grinning blindingly in a way Derek couldn’t handle. He was instantly attached to those words falling from that mouth. “Sorry,” Stiles was panting. “Didn’t mention before. But yeah, all that? That you said? I want all of that. With you. Because the feeling is so fucking mutual it’s ridiculous. I love you. Ugh, you absolute asshole. I really love you.”

It was so Stiles, forever frustrated and rambling and a little disgusted with himself. Derek found himself shaking with breathless, probably delirious laughter, as his thumbs passed back and forth over Stiles’ cheeks, reverent and not a little bit adoring.

Derek heard a hitch in Stiles’ breath. Without warning, a very animal growl began rumbling from Stiles’ very human throat, reverberating in the space of the loft, all low and dripping with intent.

Like a base instinct, Derek’s heart kicked into overdrive and his blood, pounding in his ears, headed decidedly south. His laughter had stopped as a shiver ran up his spine and he wondered, not for the first time, whether Stiles ending up in a wolf pack had truly been just by chance. There was only a slight tug on his hair and Derek let his head fall back, exposing his throat like he hadn’t done for years. He was a little shocked at himself. A little terrified at how easily it came, how easily he let Stiles make him vulnerable.

Derek caught Stiles’ gaze from under hooded lids in time to see Stiles’ eyes go dark and molten, trained on the long line of Derek’s neck, like he knew what it meant, like he felt it as strongly.

The growl took on a frustrated edge for half a second, before Stiles launched himself at Derek, pushing them both away from the table and leaping on him with such momentum that Derek could do nothing in his surprise but try to catch him as they fell back.

The impact hurt, but somehow just didn’t matter, both of them ending up sprawled on the floor as Stiles pressed down into him and kissed Derek absolutely senseless, before moving onto his neck, muttering something about ‘stupid fucking eye crinkles I swear to god’. Derek grabbed frantically at any skin he could find, his eyes flaring blue for an instant when Stiles bit down on a tendon at the base of his throat, moaning helplessly when their bodies finally lined up perfectly and Stiles rolled his hips down, the hardness in his jeans lighting Derek’s nerves on fire and dispelling any doubt at all that he was dreaming.

They moved together right there on the concrete, the world around them getting smaller and less important with every well timed thrust, the heat pooling in Derek’s belly helped along and made better than ever by the knowledge of who was on top of him. Hands ended up underneath shirts, teasing at a nipple, tracing over the soft skin of a stomach heaving with laboured breaths. He thought at one point that they were still wearing too many clothes, that maybe they should trade denim for bare skin, but neither seemed willing to let go long enough to manage it. So instead they clung, grinded, grasped and did whatever occurred on impulse, no hope of rhythm at all. And it was perfect. Derek shook and broke apart with Stiles’ name on his lips and his breath in his mouth, completely, utterly, beautifully doomed. His back bowed as he came, violently, groaning shamelessly and loud with Stiles’ fingers in his hair, and hips like literal torture.

Head thunking back onto the concrete, his vision a complete lost cause for now, Derek tightened his arm around the body still moving against him – though very considerately not against where he was too sensitive. He moved his hand down Stiles’ spine and got a handful of his ass, deciding that he was definitely going to have to pay it better attention in future, because, goddamn. The fingers in his hair tightened at the contact, and on the next thrust, Derek rolled his hips up to meet him, pulling Stiles down onto him, hard, with the grip on his ass and hip. He barely registered the ‘oh fuck’ whispered near his ear before Stiles’ whole body jerked, and with a long, filthy moan that would haunt Derek the rest of his days, he shook and clung to Derek as he came in his jeans.

Stiles buried his nose in Derek’s neck, not making any move to get off of him, and puffed shaky jagged breaths into his skin. Ridiculously out of breath and trying hard not to entertain the low level panic in his veins, Derek trailed his fingers up and down Stiles spine, his heart still beating fast. It was a conditioned response, at this point, and he didn’t want it to ruin the moment. So he was a little surprised when of the two of them, it was Stiles that started shaking against him, tremors running through his body and breathing becoming irregular.

“Stiles?” Derek raised his head, bracing for whatever he found on Stiles’ face.

Which turned out to be uncontrollable mirth and an incredibly bright blush. Stiles’ lips finally couldn’t keep it back and he giggled, fucking giggled, into Derek’s shoulder, hiding his face like he knew how ridiculous he was.

“Dude, oh my god,” he gasped as he laughed. “I came over here to give you renovating ideas and that just happened. Way to go on a fucking tangent. Holy shit.”

After a stunned moment of silence – because seriously, what the hell – Derek’s face broke out into a grin and he laughed, low and quiet, but nonetheless happily.

“You growled at me.” He said gleefully. “You actually growled. At a werewolf.”

“Yeah and you fucking loved it, so don’t even, big guy.”

“You’re the one who jumped me.”

“Because you were laughing. There were eye crinkles.”

“You’re an idiot”.

“Asshole.”

“I-“

Derek would have gone on, but there were lips in the way. Which was so profoundly okay by him.

It didn’t stop him from pinching Stiles’ side as they kissed, though, nor from grunting his complaint when Stiles whacked the back of his head in retaliation.

This whole thing was probably a horrible, terrible, very bad idea. But honestly, with Stiles warm against him, laughing into their kisses – who the fuck cares.

……………………………………………………………………..

 

“How is ‘Vermilion’ even a colour? It sounds like a Harry Potter character.”

Derek sighed, so very put upon.

“If you don’t like it, we won’t use it.”

“I didn’t say I don’t like it,” Stiles walked closer to the test patches Derek had just painted on the freshly plastered wall in the upstairs spare bedroom, trying too hard to look discerning. “I just generally object to the institutionalised snobbishness and self-indulgence that is the paint colour naming industry. I always imagine a bunch of white dudes in pince-nez’ and waistcoats with tea saying ‘jolly oath, old squire old boy, that’s a marvellous name’ and then giving it to a colour that had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

“You’re stalling,” Derek grumbled, supressing his smirk.

Stiles whirled on him. “Of course I’m stalling. Thank you, captain obvious. Did you use your wolfy senses for that one?” he tried to flail his hands out, but as they were still in his jeans pockets, the effect was just oddly articulate elbow waving.

Why are you stalling?” Derek walked over to him with his arms crossed and a brow raised.

They’d started the renovations barely a week after Stiles had suggested it, the whole pack coming out in overwhelming support for the whole idea. Stiles still had two semesters of college left and, while it would be difficult, he was still going to stay on campus during semester; but he’d live with Derek at the loft when he was home for holidays, and that way it would be like a test run for how it would be to have him there always. In secret, neither of them felt they needed to test it, were pretty sure this was it for them, but it hurt no one to prove to the others they could do things at a healthy pace.

Now, after six months, a few issues with permits and zoning issues, two supernatural crises, a burst water main, and much frustration later, all the structural work had been done and all fixtures in the loft finished, save for a few finishing touches in the kitchen. Derek had been working alongside the builders, a hand in every aspect, his experience in construction in New York serving him well. (The day Stiles had found the one photo of him in his site gear – singlet, helmet, and all – had been a particularly unforgettable evening, for many, extremely happy reasons). Now, finally, they only had cosmetic, decorative concerns left.

Lydia had predictably taken over managing the interior design, but Derek had been pleasantly surprised by how much she honoured his wishes throughout, putting her efforts into making the most out of his taste and ideas rather than imposing her own vision. But this, this upstairs spare bedroom, was the one room he’d made clear was off limits to her prowess.

Because this one was Stiles’ room, and only he was allowed to decide what to do with it.

They’d come to an agreement a few months back while trying to figure out the upstairs floor plan.

…………………………………………………………….

“You know, I still think you should have your own room,” Derek said.

“Why?” Stiles looked a little wary. “You second guessing that original fantastic plan where it would be ‘our room’?”

“No, of course not,” Derek leaned in and nuzzled Stiles’ cheek for the briefest moment before pulling away, the way he’d learned early on could calm Stiles instantly. Again, he questioned whether Stiles wasn’t the least bit lupine. Sure enough, Stiles’ shoulders relaxed as they both hovered over the plans spread out on Stiles’ dining table. “I just think you should have your own space. The loft’s been my territory for so long I don’t want you to feel like it isn’t yours, too, when you eventually get around to living there. And I know you need somewhere to spread out, get your thoughts in order. I haven’t forgotten that spiral of books you made on the floor around yourself a while back; it took up your whole room. Forgive me if I’d actually like to have a clear path to the bed at the end of the day. So. You should have a library, or a study, or something. Something that’s just yours.”

Thinking he’d articulated the point fairly well, Derek looked up to find Stiles frozen in confusion and maybe a little shock.

“Stiles?”

Another two seconds before Stiles blinked at him rapidly and seem to shake himself free of a fog.

“Yeah, you know what dude, if you want me to ever have rational thoughts again, like ever, you probably shouldn’t say shit like that in my presence.”

Derek raised a highly judgemental brow. “Is that you agreeing with me?”

Stiles shot him a glare. “Yes, you overwhelmingly sappy, cuddle bunny asshole. I would love to have my own study, in the home that you are building for us, and – oh wow I can’t take this. God, I hate you. Why.”

“See?” Derek drawled. “Exactly why you need your own space.”

Stiles socked him in the shoulder, then recoiled with an ‘oh shit’ when Derek turned and gave him the most wolfish grin he could.

The sheriff came home ten minutes later to find Stiles shrieking and writhing around on the carpet, Derek’s fingers jabbing relentlessly into his sides while he cackled, as Stiles tried to apparently slap the 200 pound werewolf on top of him into submission, wriggling to get free from this evil ticklish hell.

John sighed, and went to grab a beer from the fridge, before he could break character and look like he approved of what was going on – which he secretly did, but there’s a grace period where he still gets to intimidate his son’s boyfriend and he wasn’t going to miss out.

The two idiots on the carpet didn’t seem to notice him.

…………………………………………………………………………..

Why are you stalling?”

Stiles huffed at him. “I don’t know. Maybe because it’s a really big fucking decision and this all just suddenly got so real and I can’t quite believe it?” He dropped his gaze from Derek’s surprised face, scuffed the toe of his shoe against the drop sheets Lydia had insisted they needed for any amount of painting.

“Stiles,” Derek hedged, worry settling cold in him. “If you want to change your mind about living here, I won’t-“

“What?!” Stiles’ head snapped up. “No. No! That’s not what I’m saying. Of course I want to live here, I want this. I want us.”

Derek sagged in relief, stepped a little closer. “Well then stop freaking me out and tell me what’s wrong.”

“Look, I just-“ Stiles swallowed heavily, eyes falling to somewhere on Derek’s chest. “I think I might have been expecting you to change your mind, at some point. Okay? I’m not easy to be around, I’m not easy to live with, and I’ve kind of been going through all the motions because surely, surely you were going to realise this and that you didn’t want me here with you twenty-four seven after all, and I was just going to enjoy it while I could! But you haven’t changed your mind and I’m starting to realise you’re not going to, and so I’m sorry but I’m having a mini freak out about it. Not in a bad way, just like a ‘holy shit’ kinda way. And please don’t you dare try to reassure me, because there is literally nothing you could say that will make me believe I actually get to have this.”

There were so many ways to respond to that. Derek felt something inside squeeze at the insecurity in Stiles’ words, the idea that maybe this whole time he hadn’t realised how serious Derek was about them. Part of him wanted to kiss him stupid and chase away all Stiles’ fears, but another part was just really freaking annoyed that apparently they still weren’t on the same page.

“You thought I wasn’t serious?” he said quietly.

“No, Der, it wasn’t that, okay?” Stiles said immediately, and sighed. “I trust you, you know that. I just- I still get this feeling sometimes, that things aren’t real. That the good things are just some cosmic joke and I’m waiting for the punch line. And you… you’re a very, very good thing. I know it’s irrational, but… it scares me.”

In some terrible way, that was actually reassuring; at least he hadn’t made Stiles think this way. And at least now Derek knew how to react. When Stiles was like this, the worst thing to do was indulge the feeling, because that validated it, made Stiles think maybe there was reason behind it. So long as he knew that it was ridiculous, involuntary as the feeling of impending doom may be, he’d be okay.

So Derek just rolled his eyes, and grunted. “You’re an idiot.”

Aaaaaand…. There it was. The indignant, defiant little spark of outrage in Stiles’ eye – the first thing Derek ever noticed about him, years ago.

“Geez, way to be freaking supportive, love of mine,” Stiles gritted, and turned to walk out of the room, annoyed.

Derek caught him, though, with a palm around his neck and reeled him in, bringing their lips together fiercely with no room for argument. He licked into Stiles’ mouth, grinned into it as Stiles instinctually let him, reacting to whatever Derek offered him until he was clinging to Derek’s paint-spotted shirt and letting out little whines at the assault.

When Derek pulled back only enough to break the kiss, Stiles looked absolutely wrecked, his lips pink and cheeks flushed, eyes heavy but bright. He was so fucking beautiful it hurt to look at him.

“If only you knew,” he whispered against Stiles’ lips. “how insane the idea of not wanting you, sounds to me.”

Derek kissed him one more time, quick and soft, before pulling away entirely.

“I’m going to go make some coffee,” he said, pretending for all the world like nothing had just happened. Stiles looked at him like he’d gone mad, spluttering inelegantly and making a high pitched noise of disbelief. “You,” Derek pointed. “Stop being a moron and choose a fucking colour, already”.

Derek turned and walked out the door, a smirk on his face at the little ‘what the fuck’ whispered from the man behind him. Oh yeah, they were going to be fine.

…………………………………..

Stiles came down the spiral staircase ten minutes later, and smiled small and privately when Derek passed him a steaming cup. He sipped coyly at the coffee, and they stood in silence for a few moments, comfortable.

“I’ve decided on Peridot,” Stiles suddenly announced.

Derek smirked into his own cup. “Why that one?”

Stiles shrugged, leaned a hip against the counter and met Derek’s eyes pointedly. “Reminds me of you, I guess.”

Derek lowered his cup, taken aback. Stiles must have seen it, if the shit-eating grin that spread across his face was any indicator.

“Oh you little shit,” Derek groaned.

“What you gonna do about it, wolfy?” Stiles teased, eyes gleaming, and set his coffee cup down.

Derek let his eyes flash blue and a smirk passed his lips before he was off, launching himself towards Stiles, who shrieked and darted out of the kitchen like a jack rabbit. He sprinted around the loft, over the few remaining construction items, laughing maniacally with Derek hot on his heels.

“And I hate the curtains in our room!” he shouted as he vaulted over the couch. “I want new fucking curtains!” he laughed.

Derek felt his heart swoop at the ‘our’ – right before he spear tackled Stiles into a pile of scrunched up drop sheets they hadn't set out yet.

“Oh my god, why do we always end up on the floor...” Stiles grumbled.

Derek only hummed, and bit softly at his neck.