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Meet Me At My Window

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            The first time that Stiles Stilinski meets Derek Hale, he’s rendered with a peculiar combination of all-consuming fear, respect, sympathy (and, admittedly, arousal…but hey, let’s just shove that embarrassing fact to the side and stick a pin in it, shall we?) And of course, because Stiles wants absolutely nothing to do with the sociopathic sourwolf with the burned and broken past, and because his life is just a big pile of nonsensical bullshit, that’s the exact opposite of what he gets.

            After a while, Stiles starts to lose track of the number of times he ends up saving Derek’s life…whether it’s reluctantly agreeing (under the threat of a brutal mauling involving the removal of his head from the rest of his body) to cut off Derek’s arm so that the poison from a Wolfsbane bullet won’t spread to his heart…or harboring Derek in his bedroom to keep him hidden from the authorities…or holding onto a temporarily paralyzed two-hundred-and-something-pound werewolf in the middle of the Beacon Hills swimming pool for hours on end to keep him from drowning while, oh yeah, fighting off a gigantic, homicidal lizard…he isn’t exactly sure which of those times had officially sealed the deal, but somewhere along the line, Stiles actually starts to give a damn about whether Derek Hale lives or dies.

 

• • •

 

            After his brief romantic entanglement with Kate Argent (or, as he likes to call it, the horrific incident that had lead to the death of his entire family and the destruction of his home in an inferno,) Derek Hale is, understandably, a little reserved, a little distrusting, and generally, all-around unpleasant company. For years following the incident, Derek had mostly just kept to himself, locked away from the rest of the world as he hid in the shadows of his dilapidated old home, wrought with all-consuming guilt and regret, and only poking his head out when his sister had all but dragged him into the Camaro to take them on destination-less road trips across the countryside, whenever the memories of their old life became too much for them to bear. They were all each had anymore…all throughout those long and lonely years, Laura had been Derek’s anchor, the only thing that had kept him tethered to his sanity, the one and only person that Derek swore he would ever trust…that is, until she’d been taken from him, too.

            Nearly six years after the fire, and not too long after Peter had murdered his niece for the chance to become the alpha, a boy called Stiles Stilinski had come along and utterly demolished that carefully crafted façade that Derek had worked so hard to build. Mind you, not all at once…after all, Derek’s first impression of Stiles hadn’t exactly been all that positive. Even now, after all that they had been through together, how a loud, loquacious, opinionated, and irritating whirlwind of a teenager could have possibly woven his way so deeply under Derek’s skin is still beyond him. Although, the fact that Stiles had saved Derek’s life more times than he can count could’ve possibly had something to do with it. And no matter how hard he tries, Derek can’t seem to escape the memory of one of those nights in particular, his mind repeatedly piecing together every infinitesimal detail with perfect clarity.

            Polyester and denim hugging saturated skin. Beads of water rippling down his pale, freckled face, neck, and shoulders, caught on the edge of his reddened lips. The rhythm of Stiles’ heartbeat thrumming against his back as he’d held him close, head tipping forward to rest on Derek’s shoulder, mouth absentmindedly brushing against the dampened strands of Derek’s hair. The sound of their ragged breathing echoing across the hall of the swimming pool as they fought to stay afloat. Stiles clinging onto Derek for dear life, arms coiled tight around his torso, like he’s afraid to let him go. Paralysis. Submersion. An all-consuming fear of abandonment, at war with the blissful desire to welcome his inevitable death as he’d sunk to the depths of the pool. And then, finally, just moments before he’d lost consciousness…the terrifying realization that someone actually cares enough about him to keep him from drowning. Because Stiles had come back for him. Because Stiles had plunged to the bottom of the pool and pulled Derek back to the surface. Because Stiles had saved Derek’s life. Again. He could have run, could’ve heeded Derek’s warning and gotten himself to safety, could’ve just let go and left Derek to die, could’ve saved himself instead of exhausting all of his strength over the course of two hours just to make sure that Derek didn’t drown.

            Initially, Derek writes it off as the intrinsic, primal, and entirely human need for self-preservation, because Stiles is clever enough to understand that Derek is integral to his survival. After all, a werewolf stands a far better chance of defending itself against a massive, murderous, reptilian hybrid of a monster than a skinny, gangly human does. For Stiles, keeping Derek alive means keeping himself alive. It’s as simple as that…and yet, Derek can’t help but wonder why Stiles had saved his life countless times before that night, well before the kanima had ever presented itself as a threat…why Stiles would continually beg Derek to trust him, to trust that he wouldn’t let Derek down, even though, at that point, they were practically strangers.

            In spite of a sarcastic running commentary of complaints and unconvincing threats, Stiles had taken care of Derek when he’d been shot with a Wolfsbane bullet, had been willing to burden himself with a lifetime of nightmares just to keep Derek alive…Stiles had invited Derek into his home when he’d been on the run for a false murder conviction (thanks, Scott.) And the strangest thing of all is that it keeps happening. Stiles keeps saving Derek’s life, over and over again in a multitude of ways, often risking his own in the process, and never expects anything in return.

            It’s only after that night that Derek actually starts to take notice of all of the positive qualities that Stiles possesses, and finds, ironically enough, that he actually quite likes having him around. Stiles is compassionate, observant, logical, and realistic when it matters the most. Stiles is a challenge, a constant battle of wit and fury to rival his own. Stiles is comfort in the form of foolishly optimistic reassurance, shaky laughter, and self-deprecating humor, staving off the never-ending waves of fear and desperation that threaten to consume them in every seemingly hopeless predicament that they find themselves in.

            In time, case after mad, perilous, life-or-death case spent in each other’s company becomes addictive and exhilarating, rather than irritating and obligatory. Melodramatic death threats carelessly thrown without cause start to lack conviction. Playful banter and lighthearted shoving all but replace heated quarreling and violent bursts of physical rage. After a while, thrusting Stiles up against hard surfaces becomes so much more than a necessity for garnering fear and respect…it becomes a game.

            They’re outside of a club one night, tracking down the kanima’s latest target, and Derek has got Stiles pressed up against the jagged, brick-embellished wall of the building, black leather jacket and tight-fitted jeans crushed against worn plaid flannel and dark blue denim. His hands are fisted in the front of Stiles’ shirt, his nose nuzzled into the curve of his neck, canines grazing Stiles’ ear as he growls out weak death threats. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, nothing Derek hasn’t already done before, (most effectively, he muses, against the wall of Stiles’ bedroom,) except that, this time, Stiles smells different, like cinnamon and wood smoke and black currant wine, twisting into an intoxicating helix and radiating throughout his entire body, swimming in his veins, inexplicably evident with every pulse of Stiles’ heart as it thunders against his ribcage.

            Derek would be lying if he said that he hadn’t caught a hint of that scent before…a subtle, lingering aroma, hidden just beneath the surface of Stiles’ skin, every time Derek had gotten too close for comfort. Before now, he had never quite been able to place it, had never concentrated hard enough to bother with riddling it out. Never before had it been this potent, this intense, this…oh. With a sharp twist, the cogs inside his head finally start to turn, and Derek realizes that he is a complete idiot, because Stiles smells like pure arousal, like all-encompassing desire, and honestly, how could he have not known, all this time?

            In that moment, Derek is finding it increasingly difficult to let Stiles go, wanting only to press himself further into Stiles’ personal space and drink in that warm, inviting scent. Eventually, he does, tearing his eyes away from Stiles’ retreating form as he makes his way back into the nightclub in a flustered huff, and, after the events of the evening have been sorted, Derek locks himself in his bedroom and has a proper mental breakdown.

            The next morning, Derek wakes with a cold, calculating satisfaction, convincing himself that emotions are evil and self-destructive, and that his interest in Stiles is merely an infatuation, hoping like hell that these foreign feelings will falter and disappear on their own. The terrible, tragic truth of it all is that Derek simply refuses to allow himself to ever fall in love again, far too broken and beaten and haunted by the ever-present guilt of losing his family, of loving and trusting someone so much and so blindly that it had cost him everything and everyone he had ever loved. After Kate, he had written off romance for the rest of his foreseeable future with a grimace of disgust and animosity. He had promised himself that he would never make the same mistake of falling for someone as hard as he had fallen for her.

            It’s in shameless illogicality and childish avoidance that Derek places the blame (at least, partially,) on Stiles. Convinces himself that he hates Stiles for making him feel this way. Hates himself for having fallen victim to Stiles’ frustratingly adorable charm, for having foolishly let him weave his way under Derek’s skin in a way that Kate never could. Finds his fear of the unknown, of the thought of what inevitable heartbreak Stiles could cause him, as perfectly justifiable grounds for taking out all of his unresolved tension and vexation on Stiles, repeatedly shoving him up against walls at random, shouting at him for no apparent reason other than because he can, using any excuse he can think of to get closer to Stiles, to pull him deeper into pointless, repetitive arguments in order to spend more time in his company, delighting in the way Stiles’ heartbeat hammers in his chest and the flush of emotion floods his features whenever he fights back, reveling in the way Stiles’ clever, zealous words rip through Derek’s skin, latching onto every fiber of his being and lighting up his nerves like a live wire.

            It’s easier this way, pretending that this connection between them doesn’t exist, that it’s merely a figment of his imagination gone rogue, a looming nightmare desperate to capture him and swallow him whole. Besides which, even if Derek could entertain the idea that he’s even capable of having romantic feelings for someone else, let alone Stiles, of all people, there’s still the complication of their age difference, of his own moral integrity…of unrequited love. Derek knows full well that Stiles is, and always has been, madly in love with Lydia Martin. Even if he wanted to, Derek couldn’t possibly convince Stiles to change his mind, because, as Derek finally comes to realize one quiet afternoon spent in the company of his pack, loving someone isn’t a choice. Love takes hold of you, whether you want it to or not. So Derek keeps his mouth shut, torturing himself, day after day, by continually, willingly placing himself in Stiles’ company. It’s stupid and selfish and masochistic, but Derek doesn’t care anymore.

            Because sometimes, he'll get foolishly hopeful. He’ll catch a hint of that familiar, intoxicating scent, paired with the quickening pace of Stiles’ heartbeat every time they accidentally touch, a simple brush of skin against skin that sends an electric spark through Derek’s chest, the way Stiles’ pupils dilate every time they lock eyes…but, because Derek is stubbornly self-deprecating, he simply writes those moments off as coincidence, as Stiles’ inherent nervousness and social awkwardness, chalking it up to curiosity and raging, teenage hormones. And even if, by some miracle, the near-constant aroma of Stiles’ arousal is because of Derek, well…that alone isn’t enough.

            There’s no evidence of affection behind lust, after all…and one night with Stiles isn’t what Derek is after. If Stiles ever agrees to be with him, what Derek wants is a permanent connection…life-long, even, if he’s allowed to be so lucky. But the sad, horrible truth of it all is that Derek simply doesn’t believe that he’s good enough, thinks that he isn’t whole enough, that he hasn’t healed enough to be the companion that Stiles truly needs. Despite Stiles’ infectious optimism that could change the hearts and minds of the most stubborn, foolish, and broken of people, Derek isn’t certain if he’ll ever be able to. So he resolves to keep his affections hidden, waiting in vain for a boy who will likely never want him as he is.

 

• • •

 

            Time wears on, as it always does, and in the summer following Stiles’ sophomore year of high school, after the events of Gerard Argent’s death and of Jackson’s transformation from kanima to werewolf, permanently binding Lydia and Jackson as soul mates, Stiles finds himself rapidly losing interest in his pursuit of Lydia Martin, convinced that he never had a chance with her to begin with, and is honestly just content with the fact that she finally seems happy, even if it isn’t with him. The imposing threat of the alpha pack ends up being much less dramatic than they had originally anticipated…apparently, the alpha pack is comprised of a makeshift council, containing alphas from each pack in the surrounding area. According to Peter Hale, there have been several werewolf packs living in secrecy across the west coast for quite some time now. They’d primarily just kept to themselves…that is, until they’d taken a macabre interest in the events surrounding the kanima, convinced that so many deaths connected to this creature could risk the exposure of werewolf kind. The council congregated and travelled to Beacon Hills, with the sole intent of putting an end to the problem in the only way that they saw fit: by murdering the alpha responsible, acquiring the remaining members of their pack, and dividing them amongst the alphas of the council and their respective packs.

            In a rare moment of bravery (or perhaps stupidity,) Peter takes it upon himself to negotiate a compromise, and travels to the hidden location of the council. Consequently, the alpha pack is never heard from again, nor is Peter Hale. It can only be assumed that one of three things happened: either the council mistook Peter for the alpha of the Beacon Hills werewolf pack and murdered him on the spot, living up to their legend; he somehow escaped their conviction and is currently on the run; or, more likely, sassy, silver-tongued Peter Hale talked his way into joining a new pack, and he now runs with an entirely different class of werewolves. Whatever the case, Derek is relieved to finally have him gone.

            In the beginning of the summer, Derek forges a peace treaty with Chris Argent, agreeing to work together in the event of future catastrophes, and the group of reckless, misfit adolescent werewolves and humans becomes a hybrid pack. Derek, Stiles, Scott, Allison, Lydia, Jackson, Isaac, Erica, and Boyd spend their summer lounging around in the remnants of the desolate Hale house, regarding Derek’s rules, regulations, and attempts at training them with reluctance and rebellion. On the edge of summer’s end, Derek finally gives in to Stiles’ relentless insistence that Derek might actually require Stiles’ help reigning in his newly formed pack, and so, much to Derek’s indignation, Stiles becomes the official designated researcher of all things supernatural, and, infuriatingly enough, Derek’s go-to guide for advice.

 

 

• • •

 

            Over the course of his junior year of high school, Stiles and Derek are wrought even closer, collaborating over ideas for pack activities and training exercises. And, staying true to his new role in the group, in nearly no time at all, Stiles becomes incredibly well-versed in pack dynamics and werewolf lore, presenting Derek with detailed sketches of his plans for strengthening werewolf senses to full peak, rooting anchors for emotional control, physical defensive and combative strategies, and, most importantly, pack bonding. Slowly, gradually, the tension between the two of them shifts, ever so subtly with each passing day, and before Stiles can even register that it’s already happened, his attention veers, rather reluctantly, toward Derek.

            And, okay, just so we’re clear…let’s set the record straight here: Stiles has always known that the guy was attractive…that much isn’t really an arguable factor. He’s not one to dismiss physical beauty worthy of a statuesque Greek god so willingly, even if its owner happens to be a snarky, sassy, surly sourwolf with a penchant (or perhaps a kink) for shoving him up against random, hard surfaces as a means of intimidation.

            Yeah, he gets it. Derek is hot. Derek is really fucking gorgeous, actually, in an almost sinful how the hell are you not Photoshopped kind of way, with his dark, tousled hair, his devil-may-care shadow of facial hair skating across his skin, and his perfectly-sculpted body…not to mention the fact that his eyes are this indescribable combination of blue, green, and hazel that Stiles can’t even put a proper name to…and let’s not even touch on the subject of Derek’s blood-red alpha eyes, which, to be honest, still freak him out a little bit. Unfortunately, Stiles’ body tends to react of its own accord around ridiculously attractive people, so it’s not his fault that he happened to find Derek’s deep, gravelly voice as he thrust Stiles up against his own bedroom wall (and, consequently, the brick wall of the nightclub) a little bit of a turn-on.

            And okay, fine. Maybe he’d imagined that night at the swimming pool more than a few times while he was in the shower, and maybe he’d called out Derek’s name in a low, throaty moan as he’d reached climax…but it’s totally not his fault, okay? Because yeah, Derek is inhumanly beautiful…but just because Stiles sometimes thinks about Derek in a totally non-platonic way, doesn’t mean that he’s in love with him or anything. And, yeah, okay, even if maybe he was starting to, you know, develop actual real feelings for Derek in all the time that he’d been spending with him, that still doesn’t mean that anything could actually ever happen between the two of them.

            First of all, there’s the obvious attraction factor…Stiles, in comparison to Derek, with his short brown hair that’s slowly growing out at awkward angles, his awkward, gangly physique, and his constant flailing, fidgeting, and Adderall-induced word-vomit, isn’t exactly the most alluring romantic prospect…or so he keeps trying to convince himself.

            Second of all, Derek is…complicated. Mercurial. Cynical. Distrusting. And Stiles gets it, completely. Because he knows full well that Derek is this broken shell of a man, drowning in undeserved survivor’s guilt, haunted by his past mistakes and regrets…he’s resentful, and skeptical, and probably only tolerates Stiles’ company because Stiles is useful. Derek Hale doesn’t really do feelings…or even friendship, probably, for that matter…at least, not with a guy like Stiles…and certainly not willingly. And…well, then there’s the matter of the age difference…Derek is basically a whole college and master’s degree older than Stiles…he tends to forget that bit, though, given how childish Derek can act sometimes.

            Third of all, Stiles isn’t entirely certain of their current relationship status. They aren’t enemies, nor are they anywhere near the same level of friendship and trust that Stiles has with Scott, and he isn’t about to test their constant-state-of-flux boundaries by admitting that he is possibly sort of completely in love with him. It would be awkward and embarrassing to the point of torture, and Derek would probably definitely rip his throat out…with his teeth (ugh, and really, Stiles wishes that he could stop finding that phrase so goddamned hot.) Worst of all, it would mean no more Stiles and Derek bonding time, which Stiles has grown rather fond of…so, despite the fact that Derek has become a constant presence in his life, Stiles promises himself that he’ll keep his affections secret, that he’ll never let Derek know how he truly feels.

 

• • •

 

            Over time, as hard as he tries to ignore it, Derek grudgingly comes to terms with the fact that Stiles has become a permanent fixture in his life, and, terrifyingly enough, the one person he’s come to trust most in this world. Which would explain why, over the year that follows, Stiles also becomes the one person Derek comes to whenever he’s wounded. Unfortunately, that tends to happen quite a lot, given the number of times that Derek crosses paths with rogue werewolf hunters, or accidentally strays into another pack’s territory. The majority of Derek’s injuries, however, are the direct result of involvement in foreign pack drama, which is difficult to avoid, given how reckless, rude, and impulsive Erica and Jackson can sometimes act.

            Despite his constant string of curses and complaints, Stiles always ends up taking care of Derek. In fact, Stiles becomes so accustomed to playing werewolf doctor that he starts keeping a makeshift first aid kit hidden under his bed for just such occasions, courtesy of Dr. Deaton, the local veterinarian and supernatural specialist. The kit is filled with all manner of implements, from Spiderman Band-Aids, to gauze, to dissolvable stitches, as well as twenty-seven different poison antidotes, a dozen lighters, and spare Wolfsbane bullets. Sometimes, if Derek is on his best behavior, Stiles will even share a pint of Ben and Jerry’s with him, because, obviously, ice cream is the cure to everything.

            After a while, Stiles stops freaking out about Derek’s Black Widow-esque skills of secrecy and silence, stops flailing every time he turns a corner in his house and Derek is suddenly just there, slinking out from the shadows with a self-satisfied smirk, stops reprimanding Derek for his inability to use the front door like a normal person, as opposed to climbing through Stiles’ bedroom window whenever he sees fit. Sometimes, Derek drops by with special research projects for Stiles, or for collaborative planning sessions for pack training tactics and exercises. And then, more often than not, Derek just randomly shows up on the ledge of Stiles’ bedroom window, seemingly without reason or intention, claiming that he’s bored and would rather spend time in Stiles’ company than stay at home by himself.

            On just such occasions, Stiles tilts his head to the side in confusion, studying Derek’s convoluted expression, and chokes out a disbelieving, Really? And Derek just rolls his eyes like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, shrugs his perfectly sculpted shoulders, and asks if Stiles knows how to make grilled cheese, cheesy pasta, and chocolate chip cookies. And no matter the time of night, or how much it kind of freaks Stiles out (because, really, Derek Hale wants to come over to his house and just…what, hang out? Like two normal people? Like they’re friends?) Stiles always obliges, immediately dropping whatever it is he’d been doing and leading Derek to the kitchen, setting up camp in the living room and spending the rest of the evening curled around opposite ends of the couch with a massive bowl of buttered popcorn between them.

            Hesitantly, like he’s afraid that one wrong move will send Derek running, Stiles turns toward him, manages a shaky, so, have you ever watched Doctor Who? and then gets this impish little look in his eyes when Derek shakes his head. From that point on, Derek can’t help but roll his eyes and laugh whenever Stiles insists on singing along, very loudly and off key, to the lyric-less theme song.

            Derek never really cared much for television, but he likes watching Stiles re-watch his favorite shows and films, loves the way Stiles gets so worked up over seemingly insignificant details, the way his entire body flails as he attempts to describe the plot twists and character revelations in BBC Sherlock, Firefly, and Supernatural, the way he continually compares Derek to Wolverine and salutes everyone, even the humans, at pack meetings with the phrase mutant and proud. (After all, Lydia is inhumanly brilliant, and Allison is basically the Hawkeye of archery.)

            One time, Stiles delves into a twenty-minute monologue about his appreciation for Tom Hiddleston’s acting, defending Loki’s innocence and claiming that he isn’t really a villain by definition, that he’s simply misguided and misunderstood, that he’s broken and haunted by his past, and that all he really needed was for someone to love and appreciate him for what he is. Derek can’t help but admire Stiles’ willingness to forgive (because, honestly, Derek had thought that Loki was kind of a little shit…not that he would ever dare mention that in front of Stiles) and he wonders, for a brief moment, if that’s why Stiles decided to give Derek a second chance.

            And then there’re those rare, magnificent little moments in between, nights when they don’t watch anything at all…instead, Stiles talks about his mother, about the tragic accident that had taken her life, about all of the different destructive and detrimental ways in which his father had dealt with his grief, about how Scott had been there for him, every step of the way…and sometimes, Derek shares tiny little fragments about his family, too…brief glimpses into the life he’d led before the fire, before Kate Argent had taken away everything he’d ever loved. It’s those moments that are the most difficult for Derek to own up to, and maybe that’s what makes them so precious. Because Stiles is the only one who understands the constant, all-consuming pain and self-inflicted guilt that Derek has been going through for over seven years now.

            Because Stiles is incredibly easy to talk to, and even easier to listen to. Because Stiles doesn’t force Derek to open up about his past, doesn’t expect him to continue, even if he’d stopped speaking mid-sentence. Because Stiles fills the silence where Derek had trailed off with his own words and memories. Because Stiles is the first and only person with whom Derek feels comfortable enough to talk to about his family. On more than one occasion, Derek has to stop himself from wandering into the dangerous territory of time rewritten, wondering what life would have been like if Stiles could have met them, if Derek could have met Stiles’ mother, if neither of them had been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the heartbreak that death often brings.

            Because, it’s like Stiles always says, “Death doesn’t just happen to you. It happens to everyone around you,” and he’s right, because it truly does…because the loss of loved ones latches onto you and eats you alive…and Derek can’t help but admire how brilliant and broken Stiles truly is, and how well he keeps it hidden from the rest of the world…can’t help but find solace in the fact that he doesn’t have to anymore…that neither of them do…now that they’ve got each other to confide in. And that’s…Derek doesn’t want to call it hope, exactly…but that’s definitely something.

 

• • •

 

            Without word or warning, Stiles starts to find himself in Derek’s company at least three times a week, their night-owl movie marathons a tradition in the making. Sometimes, Derek falls asleep on Stiles’ shoulder, his heavy, sprawled-out form sinking into the couch cushions as he coils his arms around Stiles’ waist, his grip like a vice, all but pinning Stiles to his seat…and Stiles will have to try and coax a sleepy, surly werewolf upstairs before the Sheriff wakes up, threatening Derek with the responsibility of having to explain to Stiles’ father why Derek is practically lying on top of his only son at such an ungodly hour of the morning. (Because, let’s face it, there’s no way they’re going to be able to talk themselves out of that one.)

            It’s to no avail, though, because once Stiles finally does manage to drag Derek up to his bedroom, Derek proceeds to fall asleep in Stiles’ bed, leaving Stiles to create a makeshift nest of blankets and pillows on his bedroom floor. And the worst part about it is that, after Derek leaves in the morning, Stiles’ bed always smells like sourwolf…his blankets, pillows, and sheets embedded with Derek’s scent…it’s an oddly comforting, earthy fragrance…like petrichor, like rain-soaked grass and autumn leaves, like home…not that Stiles would ever actually admit to that…instead, he just pretends that it pisses him off…especially when his best friend starts to take notice.

            One afternoon, Scott comes over after school to study for an upcoming history exam. Scott is doing slightly better this semester than he had been all last year, but he still needs Stiles’ help, or he is definitely going to fail the majority of his classes. Scott barrels into Stiles’ bedroom and sprawls out on his bed, digging his nose into the comforter and just lying there like a pathetic little kid, pretending to cry over the mountain of notes and textbooks that Stiles has laid out in front of him. And then, startled by a peculiar scent, Scott arches up and cocks his head to the side.

            “Dude,” he says, wrinkling his nose in disgust. “Why does your bed smell like Derek Hale? Has he…has he been sleeping here…with you?”

            Scott was never really one for subtlety…he’s more or less a potato in human form, only with less tact. Of course, Stiles’ initial reaction is to lie, but then he remembers that Scott is his best friend, and that, oh yeah, he also happens to possess supernatural werewolf senses, and could catch him in a lie just by listening for the subtle shift in his blood pressure. So Stiles puts on his best scowling face and starts rambling.

           “Ugh, I know, dude, it’s totally weird. Okay so, you know how often Derek gets himself into trouble, right? Well, the bastard always comes to me, with, like, no regard to the time of night, and I fix him up, because, you know, the whole not wanting to get mauled to death by a werewolf thing, and then, because Derek basically never sleeps, he just claims my bed, right, and I’m stuck in a mess of blankets on the floor. Seriously considering getting a lock for my window…of course, Derek would probably just break it and come in anyway…”

            No, hang on. That makes it sound like Derek would resort to vandalism just so that he could get to Stiles, and that’s…no, that’s not how Derek works. But then…come to think of it, Stiles isn’t entirely certain why Derek always chooses to come to him, of all people, anyway. It’s not like Stiles is the only person who’s capable of fixing Derek up after a fight…there’s Deaton, and Isaac, and Erica, and Boyd…people who’ve studied werewolves far longer than Stiles has…people who actually are werewolves…

            Stiles interrupts his own reverie and glances at Scott, hoping like hell that his short attention span has already moved on to other, more distracting topics (Allison… Lacrosse… Allison) and has already forgotten the fact that Derek’s scent is not only all over Stiles’ bedroom, but also all over Stiles himself, which, yeah, okay, he totally knows what that probably looks like to Scott, but that is so not ever going to happen between the two of them because, well…Stiles just isn’t that lucky. But Scott’s got this look on his face like he’s genuinely concerned and a little bit uncomfortable and definitely grossed out to the point where he might actually start crying…and he’s fidgeting with the hem of his sweatshirt and averting his eyes and then, horror of all horrors, he asks, “Are you and Derek dating, or something?”

            Tact, Scott. You should try it sometime.

            Stiles sighs dramatically, throwing his arms into the air and making odd little whining noises that have got Scott legitimately worried now.

            “Ugh, what the actual fuck, Scott? That’s disgusting. Why would you even say that?” Stiles chokes out, the discordant crack in his voice completely giving him away. And now he’s screaming internally, faux exasperation, all-consuming embarrassment, and, admittedly, relief at having finally been caught in the biggest lie of his life (because, hey, pretending not to have feelings for someone is exhausting) waging war for control inside his head. Scott raises his hands in surrender, offering Stiles his most convincing, innocent puppy dog eyes (there’s a joke in there somewhere, but Stiles just doesn’t have the patience to make it right now.)

            “Okay, okay, fine, just…calm down, dude. So you’re not dating Derek, I got it, but then…” Scott trails off, reaching underneath his ass to pull out a slightly lopsided stuffed wolf that he apparently hadn’t realized he’d been sitting on for the past ten minutes.

            “Why do you have this?” he asks, quirking an eyebrow. Without thinking, Stiles launches onto the bed and rips the little plush toy out of Scott’s hands, stroking the top of its head and pressing its little black plastic nose into his cheek.

            “Dude, don’t sit on Sourwolf, okay?” he says softly, and seriously, he’s going to murder Scott for the ridiculous grin that spreads across his face at the mention of the wolf’s name.

            “Isn’t that what you call Derek?” he asks, just barely biting back laughter.

            “No…maybe…whatever, fuck you,” Stiles says, shoving Sourwolf under the covers and pacing the length of his bedroom, his holiday-themed socks sliding across the hardwood floor.

            “Okay,” Stiles sighs, rounding on Scott. “So, how long have you known, exactly?”

            Scott merely chuckles and tilts his head to the side, studying his best friend with a look of pure amusement.

            “Probably longer than you have, buddy,” Scott laughs, fixing Stiles with one of his signature, heart-melting, crooked smiles.

            Stiles maintains that Scott more than deserved getting punched in the arm.

 

• • •

 

            One evening in late April, during a thunderstorm dredged up from the deepest depths of hell, Derek catches Stiles walking home in the pouring rain…or rather, Derek rescues Stiles from the potential threat of pneumonia. Stiles’ Jeep is in the shop again, his dad is working late at the station, and he’s just missed the last running bus, so he’s resorted to walking home from lacrosse practice, in the middle of what can only be described as a soft-core hurricane…without an umbrella, or a raincoat, or even proper footwear…just a pair of muddied-up sneakers and a bright red, rain-soaked hoodie. Derek heaves a dramatic sigh as he pulls up alongside the walkway, rolls down the windows of his Camaro, and shouts, “Get the fuck in the car, Stiles.” Stiles jerks up at the sudden noise, his eyes lingering on Derek’s darkened features through the sliver of the window, before a huge, ridiculous grin spreads across his lips and he immediately jumps into the passenger’s seat of Derek’s car, curving his back into the heated leather, and moaning in a way that should be illegal.

            Derek keeps his eyes averted as he drives Stiles home, berating and lecturing him the entire time about how stupid he is, and how he’ll probably catch a fever, and when he does, he can drag his own sorry ass out of bed to get himself hot tea and a bowl of soup, because Derek sure as hell isn’t going to be there to take care of him. Stiles bites back a laugh, taking it for the bullshit lie it so clearly is. Finally, they pull up in front of his house, and while Stiles’ eyes are averted, Derek takes the opportunity to really take him in…clothes clinging to his lightly toned muscles, trickles of rain streaming down the surface of his skin, lips stained red, blushing from the tangled mix of hot and cold air, steam clouding up the windshield as Stiles breathes out spirals of heat against it. It’s intensely beautiful. Stiles is intensely beautiful, and it makes Derek want to lean in and smother him in kisses until the day he dies, to cover every inch of his pale, gorgeous skin with his tongue and his teeth. Stiles turns back around, fixing Derek with a curious expression as his fingertips toy with the handle of the door.

            “Don’t…” Derek starts, clearing his throat and cursing his voice for having gone so weak. “Don’t ever let me catch you doing that again, got it?”

            “Oh my god,” Stiles says slowly, a brilliant smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “You actually do care about me, don’t you?”

            Derek freezes, breaking his transfixion and rapidly readjusting the hinges of his masque…he can’t lose control…can’t let it show…not after he’d worked so hard to hide it. He’s got to stay calm. Nonchalant. Casual.

            “You’re pack. Of course I do,” he says, with as much composure as he can manage.

            Stiles bites his lower lip to keep his smug little smile in check, and it’s so fucking adorable that Derek just can’t help himself. Before Stiles can open the door, Derek fists one of his hands into the front of Stiles’ hoodie and pulls him close.

            “If you die from pneumonia, or whatever the fuck you might’ve caught out there, I will kill you, and that’s a promise,” Derek growls, the ghost of a smile skating across his lips.

            Stiles merely rolls his eyes, fighting back the urge to laugh, and climbs out of the car, stumbling onto the pavement like his limbs are at war with gravity. He reaches the front door and turns his key in the lock, looking back with a hopeful grin, and gives Derek a little wave before he steps into his house. Derek drives off in a make-believe huff, while Stiles sinks down the length of the door, slumping to the floor with a permanent smile on his face, hardly caring that he’s soaking wet and frozen to the bone. Nope, none of that matters, because Derek had just admitted that he cares about Stiles. And that’s definitely something.

Chapter Text

            One thing that Derek absolutely hates about Stiles is his taste in music. Stiles blasts the shit out of his Jeep’s speakers, singing along with a truly horrible excuse for music at the top of his lungs. After one too many dub-step remixes, Derek has no choice but to insist that they take his Camaro out on their pack training sessions instead. The alternative is smashing Stiles' iPod to bits, which Derek would normally have no qualms about doing, but it's just...well…Stiles had worked really hard to be able to afford that iPod, and Derek would feel terrible if he broke it on purpose…which is kind of really fucking annoying. He did try hiding it once, but Stiles found it almost immediately, and nearly tore off the pockets of Derek’s leather jacket in the process.

            The summer following their junior year of high school, Derek decides to take the pack on a road trip up to the mountains for a couple of weeks of private, intensive training sessions. The entire trip had been planned several months ahead of time, a collaborative design developed by Stiles and Derek to make the pack stronger, more alert, and more tightly-knit via training exercises and sessions that Stiles had charmingly christened packtivities (Derek has developed a bad habit of smacking Stiles across the back of the head every time he uses that word.) Unfortunately for Derek, since Stiles’ Jeep is far roomier than Derek’s Camaro, Derek, Stiles, Isaac, Erica, and Boyd all pile into the powder blue death-mobile for one agonizingly long drive up the mountainside, with far too much exposure to Stiles’ terrible taste in music. (Erica is an evil little instigator…she sings just as loudly and just as off-key as Stiles does.)

            Meanwhile, in the disgustingly adorable couples’ carpool, sits Scott, Allison, Lydia, and Jackson. When the nine of them finally arrive, they set up camp at the edge of the mountain, in a secluded, little clearing surrounded by pine trees and berry bushes. The tent-sharing set-up goes as follows: Scott and Allison to the first tent, Lydia and Jackson to the second, Erica and Boyd to the third…leaving Derek, Stiles, and Isaac to share the last tent (at least they’d all thought to bring separate sleeping bags.)

            Once everyone has unpacked and settled in, Lydia and Allison light up a campfire, while Stiles and Derek drive five blindfolded betas to the very top of the mountain for their first trial in following scent. Stiles gives Scott, Erica, Boyd, Isaac, Jackson two items of clothing: one with Stiles’ scent, and one with Derek’s. Their instructions are to wait at the top of the mountain for half an hour, taking time to get acclimated to their surroundings and giving Stiles and Derek plenty of time to trek their way back to the campsite. Then, after their thirty-minute period is up, they can take off their blindfolds, and find their way back to the campsite, using only their sense of smell to track Stiles and Derek down.

            As they turn to leave, Stiles puts on his best Capitol accent, and says, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” earning a sarcastic eye-roll from Derek.

            “This isn’t the Hunger Games, Stiles. It’s not like they’re fighting to the death.”

            “Dude,” Stiles says, shamelessly gaping at Derek. “You actually got that reference? I don’t even remember watching that with you.”

            Derek responds with a simple shrug, sliding into the passenger’s seat of the Jeep.

            “So,” Stiles muses as he climbs into the driver’s side. “How come you didn’t tell me you were a closet fanboy? I’d always thought you were just humoring me, you know? Watching all that sci-fi stuff with me. But it would appear that I have converted you.”

            “Shut up, Stiles,” Derek sighs, a small smile creeping its way across his lips.

            “You know, I’ve got the trilogy in hardcover, if you ever want to borrow—“

            “Shut up and start the car, Stiles.”

            Stiles does as he’s told, but his smirk is as smug as ever.

            As they drive back down the sierra through verdant woods, the golden rays of the sun bleeding into the citrine skyline as the rolling hills of the mountainside swallow it whole, the two of them sink into a comfortable silence, neither of them feeling the need to fill the void with idle chatter. Stiles has, thankfully, turned the volume of his iPod down to a soft lull, and is no longer trying to balance driving with conducting the score to The Avengers. Stiles stares straight ahead, his fingertips drumming along the edge of his steering wheel in a steady rhythm, a small, contented smile painted on his lips. Derek focuses his attention on the patches of dirt embedded in the carpet of the passenger’s seat, most likely his own doing over time, and absentmindedly scrapes his black leather boots over the tears in the fabric, somehow managing to make them even worse. He keeps his head down, resting his chin against his palm, and slowly, ever so slightly, lifts his eyes to peer at Stiles from underneath his lashes. If Stiles takes notice, he never lets on.

            When they park the Jeep in the clearing at the edge of the mountain, they notice that the campfire has recently been put out, its remaining embers a dull orange, melting into the charcoaled ash of the burning tree bark. Lydia and Allison have, by the looks of it, retreated to one of their tents for the night, waiting for their boys to come back to the campsite. Stiles gets an inkling that Derek has no desire go anywhere near the campfire until it’s died out completely, so Stiles perches atop the hood of his Jeep, lies back against the windshield, and pats the spot right next to him, arching his eyebrows suggestively. Derek gives him an exasperated glare, before rolling his eyes and shuffling over to the car, vaulting onto the hood in one smooth, graceful motion, and easing into the space beside Stiles.

            Neither of them say a single word as they lay there, staring up at the star-strewn sky through a tangled mess of tree branches, shoulders and thighs pressed right up against one another. By the time the beta werewolves return to their campsite, Derek and Stiles have already fallen asleep…and the image of Stiles’ head draped over Derek’s chest, Derek’s arm wrapped tight around Stiles’ waist, both of them softly snoring on the hood of Stile’s Jeep, is enough to send the five of them into hysterics. Throughout the entirety of their two-week camping trip, in spite of their alpha’s murderous glares, the pack never stops giggling about what they’d accidentally witnessed.

 

• • •

 

            One morning in mid-July, a few days after they’d returned from their camping trip, Stiles arrives at Derek’s house, his arms overflowing with home makeover catalogues, DIY brochures, and a never-ending packet of paint samples. As expected, Derek slams the door in Stiles’ face. It takes all of four days and an endless barrage of logic and reason for Stiles to convince Derek to change his mind, arguing that renovating and redecorating the Hale house will act as a fantastic pack bonding activity, that fixing the broken remnants of his home won’t chase away the memories that Derek has of his family and of his old life…instead, it’ll make way for new memories, for Derek’s second family, his new pack, to weave their way into his life. It would become a place for all of them to assemble, to come and go as they please, and maybe then, Derek wouldn’t feel so lonely. (The detailed visual of Jackson scowling and covered in paint might have been the determining factor that tipped Derek over the edge.)

            The moment Derek finally agrees, Stiles sets the plan in motion, and the pack spends the rest of their summer relentlessly working together to rebuild the Hale house, sanding hardwood flooring and plastering scuffs and scrapes and holes, reinstalling plumbing and electric, choosing furniture and carpeting and repainting the walls. Each week, they devote their mornings and afternoons to working on a different section of the house, celebrating their hard days’ work with pizza and Chinese takeaway, piling onto Derek’s recently purchased leather couches for movie marathons and video game tournaments, come evening. In late August, Derek and the pack decide to throw a surprise party, complete with flameless candles and a massive chocolate cake, for Stiles’ 18th birthday. As a sort of thank you, Derek decides to bake Stiles’ birthday cake from scratch (which, despite being slightly lopsided, was apparently delicious, if Stiles’ sinful-sounding reaction was anything to go by) making everyone swear that they wouldn’t tell Stiles he’d done so…because he knows full well that Stiles would tease the shit out of him if he ever found out that Derek, big bad alpha wolf, was also a fantastic cake baker.

 

• • •

 

            It’s the very last day of summer, the last day of freedom before classes kick back up and the majority of the pack is pulled back into the dismal routine of high school, homework, and after-school activities…and of course, Stiles can’t sleep. Sure, the dangerous mix of Adderall and Red Bull he’d had the night before were probably the culprits, but mostly, Stiles reasons, it’s nerves. Because, here’s the thing…once classes resume and everyone’s lives go back to being ridiculously busy, now with the added worry of college applications to potentially stir up pack drama, the nine of them won’t be able to spend nearly as much time together as they had been all summer. Worst of all, Derek will be left all alone again, and Stiles can’t help but worry what that’s going to do him.

            Dragging his fingers through his ruffled mess of hair and deciding that there’s far too much daylight pouring through his bedroom window for him to even consider trying to go back to sleep, Stiles springs up from his mattress and makes his way downstairs, hoping for something, anything to distract him from stressing out about Derek Hale, of all people. What Stiles gets instead is an eyeful of his father kissing Melissa McCall. From the looks of it, she’d stayed the night…and from the casual nonchalance of their embrace, it would appear that this has been going on for quite some time.

            Stiles should be shocked, really, but given Sheriff Stilinski’s odd behavior as of late, the way he drifts off mid-conversation with a goofy smile on his face, the hint of perfume clinging to his clothes, and the occasional smudge of a lipstick stain on his cheek, Stiles is honestly just relieved to have finally figured out his dad’s secret. After a few seconds, Stiles recomposes himself and quietly clears his throat, and Sheriff Stilinski and Scott’s mom immediately break apart, Melissa wiping her lips on the back of her hand, the Sheriff awkwardly scratching the back of his head. Stiles presses his lips together, biting back a nervous laugh.

            “So…this is new,” he says, shoving his fists into the pockets of his pajama trousers and swiveling around on the balls of his feet.

            “I’ll just…get your coat, then,” the Sheriff mumbles, averting his eyes from Stiles’ expectant gaze.

            “It’s summer. I didn’t bring a coat,” Melissa reminds him, lips curving into a small smile. She waves an awkward goodbye in Stiles’ general direction and quickly slips out the door, Sheriff Stilinski close on her heels.

            “We’re gonna have a nice, long chat about all of this after I’ve dropped Melissa off at work, alright? Promise,” he says, closing the door behind him with an audible click.

            Stiles sighs and retreats to the couch with a big bowl of Cheerios balanced in his lap, lounging around the living room while he waits, lazily flipping through the channels until he lands on BBC America, which only serves to remind him of his all-nighter sci-fi movie marathons with Derek. Since the beginning of summer, they’d been spending all of their free time with the rest of the pack, which had left little time nor reason for Derek to come by Stiles’ house…a fact that shouldn’t bother Stiles as much as it does. Sure, Derek still came over from time to time to get Stiles’ pre-approval of certain video games and films, still crashed on his bed whenever he’d stayed too late and didn’t feel like venturing back home…but not nearly as much as he used to.

            Fifteen minutes later, Sheriff Stilinski strolls through the door, hanging up his keys and flopping down onto the opposite end of the couch, sighing and rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.

            “So, when’s the official wedding date?” Stiles asks, smirking.

            “Stiles, that’s not—” he starts, but Stiles cuts him off.

            “I mean, it’s not like it would make much of a difference, really…Scott and I are basically already brothers, anyway…marrying Melissa would just make it, you know…legal.”

            “Stiles,” he warns, his voice stern and disapproving as he huffs out an irritated sigh.

            “I’m sorry you had to find out like this…it’s not like we were trying to keep it a secret from you and Scott, it’s just…we didn’t know if we could actually make this work. We wanted to test the waters a little bit, keep it under wraps until we knew for sure that what we have is a good thing, for the both of us, and, most especially, for the both of you. I didn’t want to upset you, Stiles, because I know that your moth—”

            “Dad, it’s fine, really,” Stiles sighs, cutting him off before he can make any more absurd apologies, simply for having found love with someone other than Stiles’ mother…and making his dad feel like he has to apologize for that is all kinds of unfair.

            “Look, I know what you’re going to say, and yeah, it’s still a little weird because of…because of mom, okay, but no matter how long you wait and no matter who you end up with, it’s always going to be weird, because I know that you’ll never love anyone else the same way you love mom. And…and if I had to choose someone for you, not that I ever would because that would just be, like, super awkward and weird, but if I had to…I’d choose Scott’s mom, because honestly, it kind of makes sense, you know? Like it was supposed to happen. And, what it comes down to is…well…I haven’t seen you this happy in years, and…you deserve to be happy, dad.”

            Sheriff Stilinski stares at his son in astonishment, studying his expression intently, searching for the fault line…but in all honesty, there isn’t one. Because there is nothing that Stiles wants more than to see his father happy.

            “Thank you,” he says, pulling Stiles into a gigantic Stilinski bear hug.

            “Suffocating me, dad,” Stiles laughs, squeezing his dad even tighter. When they finally pull away, Stiles mock-punches his dad in the arm and says, “Hey, you didn’t have to keep this a secret from me and Scott, you know. We would’ve been fine with it.”

            Sheriff Stilinski rolls his eyes and shoves Stiles right back.

            “Right,” he says. “Like you’ve never kept any secrets from me.”

            Stiles starts at that.

            "Dad,” he sighs, groaning. “Hey, I'm sorry, okay? But it's all over now, right? I know about you and Melissa, and you know about the whole werewolf pack roaming our town thing, and after that…honestly, dad? There really isn't anything else that I could possibly be keeping from you."

            Without missing a beat, Sheriff Stilinski says, "So you aren't dating Derek Hale, then?"

            Stiles can feel his entire body blushing bright red.

            “Look, son, I’m not mad,” he continues, pretending not to notice Stiles sinking further down into the couch cushions in an attempt to disappear completely. “I know that there’s a considerable age difference, and, admittedly, that still kind of irks me. But you’re 18 now…you’re perfectly capable of making your own decisions. I’d just like to know that you’re happy with him, that he treats you right, that you’re using protect—“

            This isn’t happening. Thisisnthappening. This conversation is totally not happening.

            "Oh my fucking god. Why does everyone keep saying that about us?"

            "Probably because that's exactly what it looks like,” he says, barking out a laugh.

            "Okay, fine, whatever. If me helping Derek plan pack training is the equivalent of me dating Derek, then, yeah, I guess we're dating. But don't tell him that, unless you want your only son to die a very painful, embarrassing, werewolf-related death.”

            "Uh-huh. Yeah, I'll believe that when the werewolf in question stops climbing through your bedroom window at all hours of the night…or staring at you like it's causing him physical pain to be away from you. And don’t give me that look, Stiles. I know perfectly well what goes on when you boys think I’m not home. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve caught you two asleep on this couch together…god knows what you’ve been up to.”

            At that last line, Sheriff Stilinski scrunches up his nose in disgust, shifting uncomfortably on the couch cushions and hoping like hell that he’s not about to find any weird, sexual paraphernalia hiding underneath them. Stiles, now properly shocked and more than a little paranoid, mouths wordlessly at his father, arms at the ready for another bought of flailing. Sheriff Stilinski shakes his head, sighing heavily as he hoists himself up off the couch and reaches for his keys. He’s nearly out the door and on his way to work when he doubles back suddenly, fixing Stiles with a curious expression, and says, “You know…you deserve to be happy, too.”

 

• • •

 

            Later that evening, after Stiles has calmed down considerably from his incredibly awkward (and potentially scarring) conversation with his father, the pack meets over at Derek’s house to celebrate their last night of freedom with a cheesy, romantic comedy movie marathon. Scott takes the news of their parents dating just as Stiles had thought he would, with a surprised, “Really? That’s awesome!” and gives Stiles a high-five, musing over their potential speeches as groomsmen (the more embarrassing, the better, obviously) and getting far too worked up over a wedding that hasn't even been announced, let alone discussed between the couple in question. Being with Allison has really had some interesting effects on Scott.

            At around 10PM, everyone starts to clear out and head home, complaining in low, grumbling voices about their inevitable workload for the semester, comparing each other’s schedules with excited squeesand exhaustive groans. Stiles stays behind to help clean up, just like he always does, collecting plates covered in pizza sauce and glasses half-filled with soda and bringing them into the kitchen, where he does the washing up and leaves the clean dishes in the plastic rack beside the sink to dry, while Derek lurks in the living room, pretending that he doesn’t know how to work the soap dispenser. As Stiles makes his way to the front door, he finds that his path has been blocked by the alpha. He tries to skate around Derek’s massively muscled form, but Derek just darts in front of him.

            “Dude, I have to get home,” Stiles says, arching his eyebrows for emphasis, but Derek just continues to stand there, blocking Stiles’ only exit. Several seconds pass before either of them say anything, and then finally, Derek speaks, shuffling his feet and wringing his hands likes he’s...like he’s nervous. Is that even possible?

          “I just,” Derek starts, clearing his throat with a brusque sigh. “I never got the chance to actually thank you for convincing me to fix up the house,” he says, his eyes darting around the finished walkway, from the polished, cherry oak hardwood floors to the scarlet runner dancing down the stairwell, to the freshly-plastered walls concealing old scuffs, scrapes, and holes, covered in thick coats of dark, rich paint. In reality, it isn’t the finished home itself that Derek appreciates, or even the effort that Stiles had put into making the house a more livable place. It was because Stiles had given Derek a family again, and for that, he was truly grateful.

            “So…thank you,” he finishes rather lamely, locking his eyes onto Stiles and fixing him with an intense stare, hoping that it’s enough to convey everything he hadn’t said aloud. They’re only a few inches apart now, and Stiles can almost taste the warm, comforting scent of Derek’s breath against his lips, inviting him closer. Stiles worries his lower lip, drags a hand to the back of his head to attack a phantom itch, and says, “Yeah, of course, man…I mean, it’s no big deal, really…I just…I care about you, too, you know?”

            It happens in a matter of seconds, in a whirlwind of nerves and tension that had been plaguing the two of them for over a year now, in a rush of adrenaline grounded in misguided confidence and the optimistic possibility that maybe, just this once, something could actually work in his favor. The sight of Derek’s lips twisting into a devilish, heart-clenching smile is what draws Stiles in, pushing him over the breaking point until he’s lost all control of his common sense, giving in to his villainous hormones and clandestine desires as he presses his lips against Derek’s, fisting his fingers into the neckline of Derek’s shirt and pulling him impossibly closer, pouring every last drop of affection, passion, anger, and frustration into that kiss, delighting in the delicate moan that he conjures out of Derek’s mouth as his teeth graze the alpha’s lower lip. In an instant, the mood shifts from euphoric to tempestuous, and Stiles can feel the muscles of Derek’s body tense against his own, the realization of how vulnerable and submissive Derek had just made himself sound, rapidly sinking in. Derek pulls back abruptly and pushes at Stiles’ shoulders, nearly knocking him to the ground as he fights his way to the bottom of the stairwell.

            “We can’t do this,” he says, almost too quiet for Stiles to catch. “I think you should go.”

            Without so much as a backward glance, Derek races up the stairs and rounds the corner, disappearing down a distant corridor. There’s the telltale slam of his bedroom door, leaving a deafening silence in its wake. Stiles shakes his head, narrowing his eyes at the empty stairway, completely dumbfounded. A small, disbelieving sob rips its way through his chest and crawls up the length of his throat, and Stiles scrunches up his face as the searing pain of having to hold it all back winds its way through the bridge of his nose. The muscles of his legs start to tremble, giving out as he stumbles to the hardwood floor. With a grimace, he grasps the brass doorknob and indelicately wrenches it open, practically throwing himself out onto the front porch and into his Jeep. He turns the radio dial to full blast, drowning out the rest of the world in mottled beats and bass lines, and runs three red lights on his way home, traffic laws be damned. The moment he’s safely concealed inside his room, Stiles collapses face-first onto his bed, which, seriously, fuck his life, because his sheets and pillows and blankets still smell exactly like Derek, and right now, that scent is pure torture.

            In a fit of frustration, Stiles grabs Sourwolf and throws him across the room, where he collides into the wall with pathetic little thump. And, of course, because Stiles is a fucking bleeding heart, he actually feels bad about having hurt the little plush toy. Because really, when he thinks about it, it’s not the inanimate bag of fluff’s fault that Derek is a gorgeous, convoluted, life-ruining asshole, nor is it his fault that Stiles just happened to be stupid enough to fall for him. Stiles glances at his phone, his brain churning out a thousand different clever one-liners that he could send to Derek, but instead, he simply lets it fall to the floor, into a rumpled pile of clothes that he’s pretty damn sure contains one or more of Derek’s tight-fitting t-shirts. There’s nothing he could say that could possibly fix this. Because Stiles had fucked up. He’d fucked up big time. And there was no coming back from this.

            Stiles doesn’t sleep well that night…he gets maybe a good ten minutes in before his alarm clock is screaming at him to wake up. He’s about as surly and sour as Derek himself that first day back, biting back bitter comments when people tell him how exhausted he looks, which, really, what is the fucking point, because telling someone that they look tired is just a polite way of saying that they look like shit. So instead, he puts on a fake smile, trudges through the hallways, comes home, and collapses onto his bed, falling into an uneasy sleep and trying his damnedest to ignore Derek’s fading scent on his bed sheets. The rest of his week follows in a similar pattern, and Derek never comes to visit him, not even once.

Chapter Text

            It’s Friday, less than a week after Stiles’ humiliating encounter with Derek, which, miraculously, no one else seems to have found out about. He’s parked his tray at a table in the corner of the school cafeteria, waiting for the rest of the group to show up. At the moment, his only company is Danny Mahealani, which is a little awkward, because Stiles has never actually had a proper conversation with the guy before. But Stiles suspects that that’s all going to change soon…after all, Danny is well-versed in werewolf lore by now, due to the fact that Jackson had immediately clued him in the night he’d turned…which makes it so much easier, honestly, not having to hide a secret that isn’t even his from yet another person. But at the moment, Stiles is too damned exhausted and irritable to scrounge up good conversation material, so he just sits there in uncharacteristic silence…which apparently bothers the shit out of Danny, enough that he’s actually willing to talk to Stiles for once.

            “So, about the alpha,” Danny prompts, because of fucking course Danny would want to talk to Stiles about werewolves right now. After all, being the only two humans in a human-werewolf hybrid clique that aren’t romantically involved with any of said werewolves finally gives them something to talk about, something that they have in common.

            “It’s um…it’s Miguel, right?” Danny asks, but his cheeky smile would suggest that he already knows otherwise.

            “Oh, right…um, yeah, sorry about that,” Stiles says, sighing heavily. “I lied…he’s not actually my cousin…and, um…his name’s Derek.”

            "Yeah, okay. Derek Hale, lone survivor of the house fire, right? Tall, fit…gorgeous. I kind of figured the alpha wasn't actually your cousin...but then…he did spend an awful lot of time in your bedroom...” Danny trails off, and oh my god, is he really going to go there after what had happened between him and Derek last Sunday? Does Stiles really have to deal with this shit right now?

            Yes, as it happens, he does.

            “So, humor me, Stilinski. Are you and him...?" Danny asks, arching his eyebrows suggestively. Stiles groans, burying his face in his hands.

            “No, Danny. We’re definitely not dating,” he sighs dejectedly.

            "So, he's available, then?"

            Stiles full on spasms, his head snapping back up so fast that he nearly gives himself whiplash, and fixes Danny with an incredulous glare.

            "Oh my god, Danny, no, you can't have him,” Stiles blurts without even thinking.

            "That's what I thought," Danny says, a smug little smirk edging its way onto his lips, like he’s the fucking all-knowing love guru of Beacon Hills…which, admittedly, he might as well be. Luckily, to save Stiles from further embarrassment, Scott, Allison, Lydia, and Jackson finally show up, followed closely by Erica, Isaac, and Boyd. The eight of them immediately launch into a discussion about their classes and the mountain of homework they all have to do this weekend, which serves as a nice distraction…for a little while, at least, until they all start raving about some ridiculous house party that’s apparently going on this weekend. Scott, all smiles and sunshine and fucking rainbows, throws an arm around Stiles’ shoulders and says, “You’re coming, too, right?”

            Stiles scrunches up his nose in disinterest, earning a disapproving look from the rest of the group.

            “Aww, come on, dude,” Scott whines. “You’ve been acting miserable all week. Might be good for you to get out for a little bit.”

            “Yeah, come out with us tonight, Batman,” Erica jests, flashing him her best smile. “Maybe a drink or two will wipe that sad little frown off your face.”

            “We’ve all been pretty worried about you,” Allison chimes in, giving him a look of absolute pity, well-intentioned though it might have been.

            “Everything okay, man? You smell like…I don’t even know. It’s kind of hard to make out,” Isaac says.

            “A little bit like hopelessness…I’ve been getting that, too,” Boyd agrees.

            “Me? No, I’m fine. I am completely one hundred and three percent fine…it’s not like anything happened to make me, you know, not fine. So…yeah. Everything’s…great,” Stiles says, placing special emphasis on the t, like he’s mocking it just for existing. The pack falls silent, glancing around at each other awkwardly.

            “O…kay. Well, good. So…everything’s fine, and you’re definitely coming with us tonight, yeah?” Scott pleads. Stiles rolls his eyes and buries his face in his palms again, scrubbing his fingers through his hair and reluctantly nodding his consent, while Scott punches the air in triumph. Yay, Scott managed to talk Stiles into being dragged to yet another horrible social event…another affair of couple-infused bullshit, serving as a cruel reminder of the fact that Stiles is still painfully single, and that less than a week ago, all because of his stupid, rash decision-making, he’d been rejected and had lost a really great sort-of friend all in one go. But Scott thinks he’s done right by Stiles…thinks that, somehow, a lame high school party will solve all of his problems…and he absolutely hates making Scott sad, so Stiles will just have to suck it up and pretend like he’s having a good time, no matter how much he knows he’ll end up despising this evening.

           

• • •

 

            Derek Hale is freaking the fuck out. Okay, so storming off in a terrified huff probably wasn’t the best way that he could’ve handled that situation…but then again, he hadn’t ever expected Stiles to kiss him like that, much less…well, ever. No matter how many times he’d imagined that exact scene playing out in his head, over and over in a multitude of ways until he’d all but perfected it, he had never expected that Stiles would be the one to make the first move. He’d been so caught off guard by Stiles’ bold, forward, fervent willingness, that for a moment, he actually thought he’d been dreaming. Stiles had taken complete control of the situation, of Derek himself, to the point where, if he truly wanted to, Stiles could irrevocably destroy him, could tear down that fabricated apathetic masquerade bit by bit, before Derek could so much as blink. And he couldn’t…no, he wouldn’t let that happen. Not again.

            Because Derek had spent the past year convincing himself that he could never have this, that nothing could ever happen between them. Because Derek knows that he would never be good enough for a guy like Stiles. Because Derek is reckless and stupid with his feelings and his intentions, and was bound to get Stiles into trouble if he kept this going between them, even for a second longer. And the worst part of all of this is that that exact commentary had been running through his head as he’d kissed Stiles back that night, seeking solace in the comfort of Stiles’ embrace, weaving his fingers up the length of Stiles’ neck and lightly tugging on the tendrils of his disheveled dark brown hair, swallowing back Stiles’ elicited moans like he was starved for them…and still, like the selfish, needy bastard that he is, he hadn’t even tried to stop it. And then Stiles had done something amazing with his teeth that had fractured all logic and reason, unraveling Derek in a way he’d never experienced simply from kissing someone. In that moment, Derek had felt himself surrendering everything to Stiles…and the very notion of sinking to that level of vulnerability all over again had scared the ever-loving shit out of him.

            Over the week that follows, Derek vows to stay away from Stiles, to give him the space he tells himself they both need, allowing himself plenty of time to think everything through. After five days of critical self-analysis, involving heavy bouts of conscience-bashing and repeatedly slamming his fists into his suspended punching bag, Derek arrives at the inevitable conclusion that he’s just being stupid. Stiles isn’t some ticking time-bomb of a stranger with a secret ruse, rooted in vengeance and bloodlust, to destroy every last bit of Derek’s life…by now, he’s more than proved his worth, more than earned Derek’s trust and respect and affection. Stiles a goddamned adult who’s perfectly capable of making his own decisions and mistakes, and Derek is a fucking idiot if he thinks that he can get away with turning him down.

            Confirming that Stiles’ slightly dented, powder blue Jeep is still parked in the driveway, Derek scales the side of the Stilinski house in one swift, fluid movement, climbs up the shingles, and perches atop the little ledge outside of Stiles’ bedroom window. He holds back laughter at the thought of what Stiles would say about his super-sleuth, secret agent-esque sneak attack skills, at the image of Stiles’ startled expression when he opens the window and casually climbs into his bedroom, just like old times. But, much to Derek’s disappointment, the room is empty. Stiles’ bedroom door is closed, all lights extinguished, the crescent moon casting eerie shadows on the walls as it slips in and out of the curtain’s view. The only light in the room is the soft glow of the little white apple adorning Stiles’ laptop, the only sound the gentle whirring of the motor as it sleeps, waiting for its owner to return from…well, wherever he is. Derek quietly slips into the room and paces the hardwood floor, searching for signs that might clue him in as to where Stiles has gone tonight.

            He runs his fingertips along the battle-scarred, wooden edges of his desk and dressers, across the soft fabric of Stiles’ blankets and sheets that have long since lost Derek’s scent. He frowns, realizing just how long it’s been since he’d last stopped by, and makes a mental note to scent-mark the hell out of Stiles’ bed, reclaiming it, and consequently, Stiles, as his. Derek wanders to the edge of the bed and takes his usual spot, sinking into the mattress like his shape belongs there. He collapses backward onto the soft, plush pillows, inhaling the lingering remnants of Stiles’ scent. He catches hints of worry, restlessness, and anxiety, and he can’t help but grimace, hoping he’ll soon be able to fix that. To fix Stiles. Derek had been purposely avoiding him all this past week, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot to convince Stiles to forgive him, but he’s willing to wait. After all, in a way, he’d been waiting for Stiles all this past year, waiting for something that he thought would likely never happen. He would wait all night if he had to.

 

• • •

 

            At around three o’clock in the morning, Stiles bursts through his bedroom door, staggers toward the nearest piece of furniture, and clings to it for dear life. Derek startles awake, but is careful not to make a sound, watching as Stiles kicks off one shoe, and then the other, laughing like an idiot as they collide with his bedside table. He stumbles in the semi-darkness, collapsing onto his bed and snuggling into the comforter, accidentally smacking Derek across the face in the process. Derek swears loudly, rousing a muffled scream from Stiles as he leaps off of the bed and crashes to the floor.

            “Holy fucking shitballs,” Stiles shouts, scrambling backward on his hands and knees. Derek rushes to his side, grips him by the collar of his shirt, and snakes an arm around his waist, hoisting him upright. Stiles’ eyes grow wide as he takes in the sight of Derek’s disappointed scowl, anger contorting his features in the muted moonlight. Derek can hear Stiles’ heart start to pound in his chest, can smell the anxiety and nervousness coursing through his veins. Having lost all control of his limbs, Stiles just lies there on his bedroom floor, staring up at Derek with an odd combination of adoration, embarrassment, and shock. He clears his throat once, twice, shifting his weight so that the back of his head is pressed right up against Derek’s chest.

            “Heeeey, Derek,” Stiles says in what he hopes is a casual tone, biting his lower lip and attempting to tame his tousled mess of hair. In his drunken state, his hands miss his head by several inches, and he ends up flailing instead. Derek rolls his eyes and tries not to smirk.

            “How’d you even get in here? Am I dreaming again?” Stiles asks.

            “You smell like a fucking brewery,” Derek growls, ignoring his inquiries. “How much have you had to drink?”

            Stiles starts counting on his fingers, holds seven of them up to Derek’s face, and says, “Couple of shots of vodka, I think…I lost count after the fourth…oh, and then I had sex…on the beach…which was awesome…oh, wait, no, not like that, I didn’t mean…the drink, obviously…I meant the drink,” he slurs, hiccoughing and giggling to himself.

            “Where were you?” Derek asks, his eyebrows knit in confusion.

            “Party. Biiiiig party. Laaaaaame party. Everyone was paired off by the end of the night, making out in various corners of the room…everyone but me,” Stiles lilts, his voice laced with maudlin angst.

            “Right. Okay, you need sleep, like, right now,” Derek decides, dragging Stiles up by his underarms and carrying him back toward the bed. He lays Stiles down gently, cradling the back of his head with his palms.

            “Why’re you even here, though?” Stiles asks. “I thought you hated me.”

            Derek winces, a suffocating ball of guilt manifesting in the back of his throat.

            “Don’t be stupid, Stiles. Of course I don’t hate you,” he says, fixing Stiles with a wounded glare.

            “Oh. Well, how come you’re here, then? Pack meeting’s not ‘til tomorrow,” he yawns.

            “It’s not about pack stuff…it’s about us, Stiles. But that doesn’t matter right now…we can talk about it when you’re sober,” Derek says, pulling back several layers of blankets and sheets and coaxing them around Stiles’ stubborn legs.

            “Hah…nope, I don’t buy it…because I’m here to talk about us is totally not something that the real Derek would ever say to me. See, Derek doesn’t do feelings...he’s about as emotionally constipated as Dean Winchester…which I guess makes me Cas…but anyway, yeah, I’m just going assume that none of this is actually happening and that my brain is just playing another cruel trick on me…okay, Dream Derek?”

            Derek sighs audibly, rolling his eyes and shrugging off the blatant insult.

            “Whatever gets you into bed,” he says, and then immediately regrets having done so.

            “Bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you, Dream Derek?” Stiles growls, shrugging out of his t-shirt and throwing it across the room, where it lands in a heap with the rest of his laundry. Stiles is now drunk and shirtless, and he’s being incredibly cheeky and forward, and Derek is hovering just mere inches above him…this can’t end well. Stiles’ fingertips move to unbutton his jeans, but Derek stops him before he manages to slide them all the way down, hands just barely ghosting over his. Stiles closes his eyes and groans miserably, quickly covering his mouth with the palm of his hand as another wave of nausea hits him full-force.

            “Yeah, that’s so not going to happen right now. Come on, Stiles, get up. You need to put pajamas on…I know you don’t sleep well without them,” he urges, but Stiles doesn’t budge, lying flat on his back with his hands fisted into his sheets, his eyes squeezed shut. Stiles shakes his head, moaning in mock-agony, and mumbles, "Fuck no. Seriously, dude, I’m so goddamned dizzy right now, if I even open my eyes for a second, I'm going to throw up."

            “Alright, fine,” Derek grumbles. “I don’t need your sick all down the front of my jacket, anyway. Just lay still and let me tuck you in before you flail out of control and give yourself a concussion.”

            “That’s mean,” Stiles whines, rubbing his fingertips against his aching temples.

            “But not entirely untrue,” Derek quips, pulling the comforter up to Stiles’ neck and tucking in the sides. Stiles rolls over, an appreciative groan escaping his lips as he snuggles in and curls an arm around a little black and gray stuffed wolf that Derek hadn't ever noticed before. With a heavy sigh, Derek lowers himself onto the edge of the bed, appointing himself as Stiles’ official nighttime guardian, and studies the steady rise and fall of his chest as he drifts off to sleep, arms wrapped tightly around the little wolf as he nuzzles into its fur.

            “Stiles, you ridiculous, adorable little moron…what am I going to do with you?” Derek says, a bit louder than he’d meant to, causing Stiles to startle awake, snorting and mumbling something unintelligible.

            “Didn’t catch that, sorry,” Derek says, at which point Stiles huffs and sighs theatrically.

            "I said, you sound just like Derek…all rugged, and sexy, and Alpha Sourwolf,” Stiles mumbles, baring his teeth and biting at the corner of his pillow for dramatic effect.

            "What did you just say?" Derek laughs, a blush creeping into the corners of his cheeks.

            Stiles wrinkles his nose and shakes his head back and forth against the pillow.

            “Nothing. I said nothing. I am definitely not talking about Derek Hale anymore. Oh, and, before you ask, for the last time, no, we are definitely not dating."

            His eyes are closed, so Derek can only assume that he’s still half drunk and half asleep, completely unaware of where he is and whom he’s speaking to.

            "Who thinks we're dating?" Derek asks, his tone a bit gentler this time.

            "Well…everyone, actually…even my dad."

            “And your dad is okay with it?” Derek asks, hopeful.

            “Yeah, I mean…I guess. He said he just wants me to be happy, and if that’s with Derek, then…you know, cool.”

            "Huh,” is all Derek can manage, until another nagging question pops into his head.

            “So, why do people think that, exactly?”

            "Ha...well...if you mean why as in why would Derek ever be interested in an awkward, gangly, ridiculously-unattractive-in-every-definition-of-the-word guy like me, then the answer is pretty obvious, my friend…he wouldn't. I, myself, found that out the hard way.”

            Derek simply stares at Stiles, flummoxed and a little bit crestfallen. His words come out strangled, a muddled mess of hope and doubt.

            "That’s ridiculous, Stiles. Why do you think Derek wouldn't be interested in you?” he asks, swallowing thickly. “Seems like you’re placing this guy on a pedestal, and…well, he doesn’t sound all that appealing.”

            Stiles barks out a laugh and slowly shakes his head.

            "No, dude, seriously, you don't understand. Derek is..." Stiles stops, sighing and licking his lips in a sinfully cruel manner. Derek’s heart beats wildly beneath his chest, clinging to Stiles’ every word.

            "Wait, what? What's Derek? What were you going to say?" Derek demands, shifting closer to Stiles.

            "Nope, nonononono, I can't. Real Derek might find out, and there's no way in hell that he can ever know that I'm...nope. Not gonna say it."

            Stiles covers his face with his hands.

            "Stiles...Stiles, you can tell me, it’s fine,” Derek urges gently. “What about Derek?"

            "Okaaaaaay, fine, but you have to promise me you won't tell him. Cause he'll totally freak out if he finds out that I'm kind of sort of completely in love with him.”

            Derek’s eyes grow wide as he falls into a contemplative silence, biting back a ridiculous smile that threatens to fracture his evenly tempered veneer.

            “Okay? Promise?" Stiles asks, snapping Derek out of his reverie.

            "I,” he says, his voice soft and reassuring. “I promise, Stiles."

            "Good,” he says, playfully poking Derek through the blanket with his toes. “Now cuddle me."

            “I…what?” Derek laughs.

            “Pleaaaaaase? I’m coooooold,” Stiles whines.

            "O...okay,” Derek concedes, quickly kicking off his boots and crawling the length of the bed, before sliding in right behind Stiles, curving an arm around his waist, and pulling him flush against his chest.

            “So, I’m going to tell you another secret,” Stiles says after a few minutes of comfortable silence, his voice thick with sleep.

            “Yeah?” Derek prompts.

            “Last week, I sort of totally kissed Derek,” Stiles says.

            “Really? How was it?” Derek asks, playing along, his smile so wide he thinks it might actually split his face in two.

            “It was amazing, seriously. I even got him to moan a little bit, which, oh my god, was so fucking hot, but…um…it didn’t end very well. Guess he finally realized what he was doing and who he was kissing and decided to book it the hell out of there. Can’t blame him, really,” Stiles says sadly.

            “Stiles,” Derek whispers, nuzzling into the back of Stiles’ neck and pressing his lips to the soft little patch of skin behind his ear. “I’m so sorry.”

            “S’okay, dude. Totally my fault,” Stiles yawns.

            “No, it wasn’t,” Derek mumbles, barely audible. The two of them lay like that for a few more minutes, Derek’s guilt consuming him whole, until Stiles breaks the silence.

            "Hey, so, I know this is going to sound weird and all, but…mind if I pretend you’re Derek? Like, actual, in-real-life Derek? I know you’re just a terrifyingly real-feeling hallucinatory figment of my imagination, but I thought, hey, might as well be polite and ask…I mean, I don’t know if you’ve got some place to be, or…” Stiles trails off, his voice muffled by the pillow.

            "Not at all,” Derek chuckles, coiling his arms tighter around Stiles’ waist.

            “Mmmm....you smell really nice...and you're really warm...fuck, you're so comfortable. How are you even doing that? You know what, don’t answer that. I’m just gonna chalk it up to the fact that my mind is awesome. Totally loving this dream sequence upgrade.”

            “Shut up and go to sleep, Stiles,” Derek whispers playfully, rolling his eyes and pressing soft little kisses against the back of Stile’s neck as the two of them drift off to sleep, perfectly content for the first time in years.

 

• • •

 

            Derek wakes in a tangled mess of sheets, his body melted into the arch of Stiles’ back. He’s careful not to stir, lest he wake Stiles up, arms wrapped around the slumbering boy’s lanky figure, fingertips absentmindedly tracing a constellation of freckles and moles from the curvature of his collarbones to the dip of his hipbones. He buries his nose in the nape of Stiles’ neck and places a soft, sweet kiss along the edge of his hairline. Startled by the sudden contact, Stiles opens his eyes, blinking rapidly and wincing like the sun has lit his retinas on fire, before rolling over and turning to face Derek.

            “Fuck, oh my god,” Stiles nearly shouts, flailing uncontrollably as Derek struggles to keep a hold of him. Eventually, Stiles’ breathing stills, eyes tracing Derek’s shadowed features, lingering for just a moment longer than is truly necessary on the curve of Derek’s pouted, pink lips. He swallows thickly, vaguely aware of the relentless drumming inside his head.

            “So, um…care to explain why we’re half-naked and cuddling in my bed?”

            Derek actually has the audacity to look down, lower lip jutted out and eyebrows arching up in confusion, like he’s genuinely surprised to find himself shirtless.

            “You were really drunk last night,” Derek sighs, nuzzling into the crook of Stiles’ shoulder.

            “Um…did we…we didn’t, did we? I mean, for your sake, because dude, that’s some bad judgment right there,” Stiles blurts out, his brain having apparently severed the connection to his mouth.

            “Of course not,” Derek snaps, clearly wounded. “Do you really think I’d take advantage of you like that?”

            “No…no, of course I don’t. I’m sorry,” Stiles amends, rubbing at his temples with his fingertips. “So if we didn’t…you know…what did happen last night?”

            “Oh, the usual…you got wasted at some party and I ended up having to take care of you. I didn’t think it was possible for you to be any more garrulous and annoying than you normally are, but apparently, drunk Stiles is quite the talker…I’ve got to say, though…I learned some pretty interesting things last night,” Derek laughs, a smug little smirk tugging at the corners of his lips.

            Stiles’ eyes grow wide in horror.

            “Oh dear god…please tell me I didn’t—”

            “Yup,” Derek quips.

            “How much of—”

            “Everything, I’m afraid.”

            Stiles shoves his face into the pillow and groans, loudly and miserably.

            “What, okay, so like…I definitely, actually told you that I'm in love with you?"

            "Yup."

            "Any chance you'd be willing to just forget everything I said last night?"

            "None at all."

            "Fuck."

            There’s a small little pocket of silence, during which Stiles prepares for the onslaught of rejection. Again.

            "Stiles."

            "Yeah, Derek?" Stiles asks, wincing.

            "You do realize that you're an idiot, don't you?"

            Well, that’s nothing new, but still…ouch.

            "Excuse me?"

            "What part of me constantly coming over just to spend time with you, and me spending the night cuddling you and taking care of your stupid, drunk ass, do you not understand?"

            "That's not...oh. Oh. Oh my god."

            "Yeah."

            "You...do you?"

            "I think you already know the answer to that."

            "Yeah, but I still want to hear you say it."

            Derek sighs, rolling his eyes and nudging Stiles’ cheek with the tip of his nose.

            "Stiles, you annoying little shit, I love you. Against my will and my better judgment, I do. And I was stupid and wrong and all sorts of fucked up for having pushed you away like that…and I hope you can forgive me, because I’m really, really sorry. Okay?"

            "Okay,” Stiles lilts softly, a brilliant smile spreading across his lips. Derek kisses the corner of Stiles' mouth, drawing him closer as Stiles snuggles into his chest. The two of them slowly drift back to sleep, content to spend the rest of their Saturday morning wrapped in each other's arms.