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Derek Hale hates libraries.

It really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, despite common misconceptions about writers. Because libraries have people and Derek Hale does not like people. Amazon, he’s fairly certain, is the best invention of the 20th century, because he can now order all the books he wants without even having to interact with a cashier or so much as leave his house.

(Erica claims his Amazon related habits are unhealthy and disturbing, but Derek once managed to go a full week without any human contact whatsoever, which counts as a win in his book.)

Unfortunately, not all books can be ordered on Amazon.

Which is why he’s currently standing outside of Stevenson Library – which houses Beacon Hills University’s rare books and special collections. He can’t help but glare at the door a little. For a moment, he wonders if writing another book is actually worth it. His first did well enough, and he has a fairly hefty inheritance to fall back on, anyway. It’s not like he needs to write another book.

Derek sighs and enters the library.

He’s surprised by the relative peace inside. University libraries, he’s come to realize, are notoriously noisy and packed with students, and most librarians have given up on maintaining silence and order. Here, though, he could probably hear a pin drop.

Derek follows the signs to make his way to the Beacon Hills History Archive office, pushing his way through the glass door, rattling the cheery, “We’re OPEN!” sign.

There’s a man at the front desk, squinting at his computer screen as he bites his lower lip, glasses slipping precariously down his nose. The door clicks shut behind Derek, but the man doesn’t appear to hear, instead muttering something under his breath as he holds up a slip of paper, the material yellowed and fragile-looking in his hand.

For a moment, Derek’s distracted by the long curve of his fingers as they wrap delicately around the paper, but then he catches himself and tears his eyes away. He clears his throat pointedly.

“Whoa – oh! Hey!” the man – beta? – says, startling and looking up at Derek. “Do you need any help?”

“I’m looking for the Beacon Hills History Archive,” Derek replies, his voice gruff, a little annoyed.

“Ah, you must be Derek,” the man says, his face splitting into a grin as he stands up from the desk and comes around to greet Derek.

Derek opens his mouth to reply, but is temporarily caught off guard as the man gets closer, a sharp spike of scent hitting him, a scent which is distinctly alpha – not beta as he’d previously assumed. Similarly, he sees the alpha blink at him for a moment, surprise flitting over his face, before he regains his neutral, polite expression.

It’s not exactly an uncommon reaction for Derek. He’s aware that, by most accounts, he doesn’t look much like an omega. He’s on the tall side, definitely, such that the alpha in front of him only has a few inches on him. He’s muscular, too, bulkier than most – not exactly the dainty omega stereotype the media likes to play up. Still, he’s been told he’s pretty enough to be an omega more times than he’ll ever be comfortable with.

“I’m Stiles,” the alpha introduces himself, extending a hand for Derek to shake. Derek takes it after a moment of hesitation, grateful that the alpha – Stiles – hasn’t made any comments, unsavory or otherwise, about his dynamic.

“You’re Dr. Deaton?” Derek asks, studying Stiles carefully. He looks a little… younger than Derek had been expecting.

“What? Oh! No, Deaton had to fly to Amsterdam last night,” Stiles answers, making Derek frown. “There’s a conference he’s presenting at. I’m actually the curator for the Gender, Dynamic, and Sexuality Archive, but I worked with Deaton in the Beacon Hills History Archive when I was getting my master’s, so.”

Derek resists the urge to sigh. He’d sort of liked Deaton, from the few emails they’d exchanged. A little cryptic for his tastes, but not one for longwinded conversations – or much conversation at all.

“Right, so, before I show you to the reading room, I’m gonna have to take some of your stuff,” Stiles says, gesturing to Derek’s backpack. “We don’t allow any food, drink, pens, you know, in the reading room. For good reason, of course. Once I was working late and almost spilled my coffee on a letter from Frank Kameny to Barbara Gittings.”

Briefly, Derek wonders how the hell Stiles ever got employed by a library – much less became an archive curator.

Reluctantly, Derek hands over his backpack. Stiles noses around in it for a moment, before handing back a handful of pencils, along with Derek’s notebook, laptop, and charger.

“We have lockers here where you can store the rest of your stuff,” Stiles says, nodding towards the wall behind Derek. Derek nods and picks the first open one, pocketing the key.

“So, general rules,” Stiles continues as he pushes open the door and makes his way down the hallway, Derek following a few steps behind. “Obviously no food or drink is allowed inside. Keep the noise level to a minimum to avoid disturbing other researchers. Whenever you want to leave or come in, you have to sign in or out with whoever’s monitoring the reading room. I think it’s Malia today – she’s really good at keeping people quiet – ”

Derek finds himself tuning out Stiles a bit as he babbles on. The reading room rules were all posted online, so Derek figures he’s not missing much.

However, he frowns a bit when they reach the reading room. It’s like being in a fishbowl, a circular room in the middle of the floor, surrounded by glass walls. Not that the other researchers appear to mind, too focused on their work as they leaf through books, letters, and pamphlets.

“Hey, Malia,” Stiles says, leaning up against the reading room’s front desk, grinning at the pretty alpha manning it. “Derek Hale’s here to sign in.”

Derek finds himself abruptly pinned by dark brown eyes, but Malia just nods sharply and then pushes a booklet towards him and orders, “Time in and signature. When you leave, it’s your time out and signature again.”

Derek nods just as stiffly and accepts the pen, signing quickly and efficiently.

“Right then, let’s get you set up,” Stiles says, leading him over to a free table. “Unfortunately, researchers aren’t allowed to browse the stacks, so if you need anything, I’ll have to bring it up to you. I already have a couple of boxes picked out for you, based on what Deaton told me about what you’re researching, so I’m gonna go down to the basement and get those now. Just hang tight here for a moment.”

Stiles is already headed towards the door before Derek can get so much as a word in edgewise. Derek sighs and wonders if Stiles’ blabber on, steamroll the conversation attitude is curtesy of his alpha dynamic or if it’s just part of his personality. Still, he could be worse, Derek supposes. At least he doesn’t seem to expect Derek to actually participate in the conversation.

As he waits, Derek occupies himself with setting up his laptop. He suppresses a grimace as he pulls up the word document which contains his research notes. It’s pathetically small, with only a few bullet notes. Unfortunately, there’s not much on the internet about Beacon Hills in the early 1940’s, which is how Boyd – his editor – had finally convinced him to try the history archive.

He sighs and leans back on his chair, settling in to wait for Stiles.

Thankfully it doesn’t take too long for Stiles to reemerge from the stacks, pulling with him a cart carrying a large cardboard box and a cardboard tray of books. He wheels it over to Derek and then hefts the box and books over onto Derek’s table, setting them down with a loud thud.

“This one’s Josephine Malcolm’s records from 1939 to ’42,” Stiles says, gesturing to one of the boxes. “She was the first omega to work in the Beacon Hills sheriff’s department, although she was a records clerk. Deaton said you were writing historical fiction about an omega private detective in the ’40’s, so I figured they might give you some insight.”

“Thanks,” Derek says, a little surprised. It certainly wasn’t something he’d have thought to look for, but he supposes this is why Stiles is the librarian, not him.

“The books are all on the general history of Beacon Hills,” Stiles continues, gesturing to the tray. “When you get a better idea of what specific things you want more information on, talk to me.”

“Right,” Derek replies, nodding, already reaching for the box with Josephine Malcolm’s records.

“Great,” Stiles says, giving Derek a slightly lopsided grin before turning to head back to the archive’s main office.

Derek tears his eyes away from the broad expanse of Stiles’ shoulders, slips on his reading glasses, and carefully opens the first leather-bound journal.

---

“Still here?” a voice asks, jolting Derek from the comfortable rhythm he’s fallen into.

“What time is it?” Derek replies, frowning as he looks up from his book to see Stiles standing next to him.

“Just about five,” Stiles informs him, gesturing to the clock hung near the front desk. Derek blinks at it for a moment, surprised. “I don’t mean to kick you out or anything, but I have to bring the books back downstairs. You know, so that they’re in a climate controlled area and all.”

“Right,” Derek sighs, closing the journal he’s been working his way through and removing his thick-framed reading glasses. “Do you need help?”

“Nice try, but I can’t let you down there,” Stiles laughs, picking up the tray of books and placing it back on a cart which is already carrying a few more boxes. “Valuable stuff, you know? Not that I think you look like a suspicious character or anything. It’s just protocol.”

Derek arches a skeptical eyebrow at Stiles as his eyes dart between Derek’s leather jacket and dark stubble. He’s aware that he’s not the most approachable person, despite being an omega, but that’s the way he likes it, actually – fewer cocky alphas trying to approach him. Hopefully Stiles will get the hint and keep an appropriate distance.

“Oh, hey, by the way, I forgot to tell you earlier, but you might want to talk to Kira Yukimura at some point,” Stiles babbles on. Derek’s momentarily distracted by the flex of his biceps as he picks up the other box, heavy with documents, to move it to the cart. “She runs the Japanese-American Archive, but they have a bunch of shit on World War II, and her dad was a history professor specializing in that era, too.”

“Thanks,” Derek says, once again surprised – pleasantly, though. He’s never had an alpha be so genuinely helpful without… well, without being at least a little flirty about it. Or demanding.

“It’s my job, man,” Stiles replies, shrugging. “Anyway, you should probably head out. Malia looks like she’s getting antsy.”

Derek glances over at the alpha still manning the front desk, but he honestly can’t see any difference between her current demeanor and her earlier one. Not that he’s always the best judge of emotion or character.

“Really?” Derek asks, frowning.

Stiles lets out a small bark of laughter.

“Yeah, I know her expressions pretty well,” Stiles replies, shooting Derek a grin. “We used to date.”

Oh. Oh.

Derek tries to suppress a blush. He’s always thought of himself as open minded – and versatile, even – but somehow he hadn’t given even the slightest thought to Stiles’ sexuality. Or, rather, to him not being attracted to omegas. Granted, Derek barely knows him, but the fact that he’s the curator of the Gender, Dynamic, and Sexuality Archive should have been a dead giveaway.

Of course one of the few alphas who hasn’t made any sort of unwelcome advance on him or off-color comment about him not looking like an omega doesn’t swing that way.

“Right. I should go,” Derek says awkwardly, gathering up his stuff. Stiles gives him a curious look, but doesn’t comment on his tone or temperament.

“Here, let me just let you into the office so you can get your stuff,” Stiles replies, starting to push the heavy-looking cart towards the reading room door. Derek takes a quick moment to sign out, trying to ignore Malia’s heavy gaze on him.

“I’ve got it,” Derek says, voice gruff, as he moves quickly to hold the door from Stiles, who shoots him another slightly lopsided smile in thanks.

Stiles parks the cart outside of the special collections office and rummages around in his pocket for a moment before he makes a small noise of triumph, coming up with a lanyard with a key attached.

“What’s the point of the lanyard if you’re just going to stick the key in your pocket anyway?” Derek snorts, arching an eyebrow at Stiles again.

“Scotty gave it to me,” Stiles says sounding a little affronted.

Derek frowns when Stiles doesn’t bother to elaborate on who “Scotty” is and why that should make any difference. He could still actually use the lanyard, couldn’t he?

“Right, well, here you go,” Stiles says, pushing through the doorway and waving a hand vaguely in the direction of the lockers. “Are you gonna be here again tomorrow?”

“Probably,” Derek replies vaguely.

“You’re not much of a talker, are you?” Stiles snorts, but he doesn’t sound legitimately angry or annoyed – more amused than anything. Derek just shrugs as he digs the locker key out of his pocket and stuffs his laptop and notebook back into his bag.

“Right, well, I’ll probably see you tomorrow, then,” Stiles says, giving Derek a little wave. Derek just nods in response and turns to leave.

As he walks away, he hears Stiles mutter under his breath, “Goodbye to you, too, Stiles.”

Derek tries not to feel too guilty and mostly fails.

---

He arrives at relatively the same time the next day.

Stiles is exactly where he was last time – at his desk, bent over a faded letter as he squints at the scrawled cursive dotting it. He’s chewing at his lower lip, tongue darting out to lick it again in a way which has Derek averting his eyes quickly, face heating.

“Can you read this?” Stiles asks suddenly, startling Derek.

“The signature?” Derek asks, leaning in to get a better look at the letter Stiles is holding out.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, pointing towards the writing in question with a long, slender finger. Derek tries to focus on the text instead of Stiles hands, and finds himself leaning back slightly as he inhales a lungful of Stiles’ scent, this far in his personal space.

“Well, the first letter looks like a K,” Derek replies, clearing his throat. “Kathleen, maybe?”

“Hmm, yeah, I suppose that makes sense,” Stiles says, still studying the writing. “But, as you can see, I’m no handwriting expert.”

“Were they even still teaching cursive when you went through school?” Derek snorts, pulling away from Stiles and trying not to be too obvious as he takes in a deep breath of air untainted with alpha scent.

“Hey! I’m not that young,” Stiles protests, sounding a little affronted. “I’m twenty-seven.”

“Is that supposed to convince me you’re old?” Derek asks, but his tone is teasing, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Why are you so set on making yourself seem like a senior citizen?” Stiles huffs, but Derek catches a glimpse of a smile playing on his lips.

Derek opens his mouth to reply, but before he can, Stiles’ phone starts blaring out a loud, obnoxious sounding pop song. Stiles’ cheeks go a little pink as he scrambles to answer it, digging in his bag and then accepting the call with a slightly breathy, “Scott?”

Derek can’t hear the response on the other end of the line – not that it’s any of his business. Instead he turns back to the lockers behind him and picks out the same one as last time.

“I am absolutely free tonight,” he hears Stiles say behind him. Somehow he doesn’t even have to turn around to know that Stiles has a bright grin on his face. “We doin’ the usual?”

Derek turns to shove his bag into the locker, having already removed his laptop and notebook from it. He feels awkward standing there, eavesdropping on what is clearly a very personal conversation.

“See you tonight, then, Scotty,” Stiles says as Derek turns towards the door, on his way to the reading room.

He’s already got the door halfway open when he hears Stiles say, “I’ll bring your stuff up in a moment!”

“Thanks,” Derek replies, voice a little gruff.

He signs into the reading room, nodding stiffly to Malia, who still looks at him like she thinks she can see right into his soul if she just stares a little harder. This time, though, he glares back at her, jaw clenched, and something seems to shift in her expression, turning it to something akin to approval.

Derek’s happy to see that the table he used last time is free again – but then again, maybe it shouldn’t be so much of a surprise, considering how few people seem to visit the special collections library. However, as he sits and boots up his laptop, he can’t help but stew a little, embarrassed. Derek’s not unfamiliar with the feeling of sexual attraction, yet the small spark of desire itching under his skin when he interacts with Stiles makes him feel awkward, and skeevy, even. The fact that Stiles is clearly attracted to alphas – and maybe even has a boyfriend, if the phone conversation is anything to go by – only makes him feel worse.

Not for the first time, he wishes he could control his attraction. It’s probably just his more primal instincts anyway – not even conscious enough to be classified as a crush. He’s attracted to alphas. Stiles is a decently attractive alpha. It’s a simple as that.

“Hey!” someone says, jolting Derek from his thoughts. He looks up to see Stiles with his cart of books – only this time there are more items than yesterday. “So, I’m not trying to, like, overwhelm you with information or anything, but I did some digging and found these – ”

Stiles holds up a cardboard tube triumphantly, and pops off one of the plastic end pieces to slowly and carefully remove a roll of paper.

“They should really be stored in a flat filing cabinet,” Stiles continues as he carefully lays out what looks like some sort of map. “Of course, the guy who started the archive wasn’t a trained librarian or archivist and knew shit about organizing and preserving materials, so I guess I should just be glad I was even able to dig these up.”

“It’s Beacon Hills?” Derek asks, digging his reading glasses out of his pocket and placing them on his nose as he carefully inspects the yellowing paper of the map spread out before him.

“Yep,” Stiles answers, popping the ‘p,’ voice tinged with an almost childish sort of excitement. “Made by a local in 1937, so they should be pretty accurate for your book, if you wanna use them as references.”

“This is – ” Derek starts, blinking at the maps. Too much, he wants to say, because how much extra work does this mean Stiles has done for him? He’s only one researcher. Not that the extra attention actually means anything, he tells himself. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Stiles replies, looking pleased with himself. “If you wanna take pictures, though, don’t use flash. You know the drill, right?”

Derek nods idly, already beginning to get absorbed in the map, studying the town’s layout. It’s not drastically different from modern Beacon Hills, but it’s more different than he would have assumed.

“Right, well, I’ll leave you to it,” Stiles continues, hefting the boxes back onto Derek’s table. However, this time Derek’s too focused on the map to trace the flex of his arms, which is probably for the better, anyway.

---

Derek actually manages to remember to keep an eye on the clock this time and has everything packed up neatly, come closing time. He signs out and makes his way back to the main office.

However, as he pushes through the door, he freezes.

“Hey Derek,” Stiles says from where he’s leaning back against the edge of his desk. There’s a handsome alpha standing next to him with dark eyes and a slightly crooked jawline, which somehow only serves to soften him slightly. It’s painfully obvious, however, that Derek’s interrupted a private conversation.

“Stiles,” Derek replies gruffly, awkwardly. “I’m heading out now.”

“Great!” Stiles chirps, then grimaces. “I mean – I was about to leave, too, is all.”

He gestures to the alpha next to him and Derek stiffens slightly as he realizes that this must be Scott, the boyfriend. Or, well, he doesn’t technically know that they’re together, but it’s a reasonable enough assumption from how closely they’re standing together, clearly comfortable in each other’s space.

“Thanks again for the maps,” Derek mutters, averting his eyes as soon as he realizes he’s been staring.

“No problem,” Stiles replies easily.

“Maps?” Scott asks, the question clearly directed towards Stiles, his tone a little judgmental in a way which makes Derek frown. Out of the corner of his eye, Derek sees Stiles give Scott a look clearly begging him to drop the subject.

Derek bites the inside of his cheek to keep himself from assuring Scott that he’s not trying to steal Stiles, no matter what a fine specimen of an alpha he might be. He hasn’t even developed a real crush yet, just an idle attraction – he’s no threat.

“Goodbye,” Derek grunts nodding at Stiles as he slings his backpack over his shoulder and starts heading towards the door.

“See you tomorrow!” Stiles replies, just before the door swings shut behind him.

---

The next morning, Derek bypasses Stiles to track down Kira Yukimura, the curator of the Japanese-American archive. He finds himself waiting outside of her office for a moment, though, uncharacteristically nervous.

When Stiles had first mentioned her, Derek couldn’t help but feel that the name was vaguely familiar. He’d googled her last night – and it had become immediately obvious where he’d heard of her.

He has a bit of a star crush, not that it’s obvious.

Because Kira Yukimura has written a series of amazing op-eds to the New York Times about how the media – news and entertainment – portrays omegas, the pinnacle of which had been a ruthless article about the treatment of East Asian omegas as sexual objects (particularly female omegas). While Derek’s non-stereotypical appearance brings with it its own forms of discrimination, he’s never felt more humbled while reading an article.

So he’s nervous.

Her Wikipedia article hadn’t included a photo, either, so he has no idea what to expect. Someone sleek and intimidating, maybe, if her demeanor matches her writing style.

Derek takes a deep breath and knocks on the door.

“Come in!” a remarkably cheery sounding voice says – not that it puts Derek much at ease, unfortunately.

Derek enters and almost has to do a double-take.

He knows he shouldn’t have made assumptions, but Kira Yukimura is… not exactly what he expected. She’s… petite, small and pink cheeked, and clad in a soft pink, flower-patterned sweater. Her sweet omega scent only softens her further. Derek’s not sure he’s ever met someone who seems so easily approachable, and he feels embarrassed for assuming now.

“Derek Hale?” she asks, smiling warmly at him. “You emailed me, right?”

“Ms. Yukimura,” Derek replies, nodding slightly. “Ah, yes, I did. I was hoping that maybe – ”

“Oh my gosh, you’re making me feel tense just by looking at you,” Kira interrupts, laughing. “Take a seat, make yourself comfortable, and please don’t call me Ms. Yukimura.”

“Thank you – ” Derek hesitates for a moment. “ – Kira.”

“So, you mentioned working on a book?” Kira says, eager curiosity on her face.

“Yes, historical fiction set in 1940’s Beacon Hills,” Derek answers, his nervously returning as he picks at the hem of his henley sleeve. “Stiles said you might be able to help me.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Kira answers, shooting him a bright smile. “What’s the plot?”

“I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure,” Derek says with a soft huff of laughter. “After starting my research, I feel like every new thing I learn makes me want to take the story in a different direction. But the general premise is that a young omega private detective is trying to solve what he believes is a murder, but which the police have ruled an accidental death.”

“Oh, that sounds great!” Kira replies, megawatt grin only growing brighter. “I’m not really sure how you want me to help you, though.”

“Well, after reading a bit about Oak Creek Internment Camp, I was thinking that maybe the victim should be Japanese-American,” Derek says, fidgeting slightly. “It would explain why the police aren’t looking into it as thoroughly as they could be.”

“Now you’ve definitely caught my attention,” Kira replies, and something shifts in her expression to make her, well, sharper, almost – but not any less warm or open. “I can certainly help you with that – starting by pointing out that internment camps weren’t under the jurisdiction of civilian police, but were instead guarded and regulated by military police.”

“Oh,” Derek says, face flushing in embarrassment. To have already fucked up his research –

“Hey, it’s alright,” Kira reassures him with a soft smile. “A lot of people don’t know much about internment. I’m kinda just glad that you’re taking an interest in it. That’s more than most people do.”

“So you’ll help keep me from fucking this up?” Derek asks with a wry smile.

“Absolutely,” Kira answers. “As long as you give me a free copy when it comes out, of course.”

“At this rate, you’ll be high up in the credits, too,” Derek says, finally starting to relax. “Thanks.”

“Well, it’s my job, isn’t it?” Kira replies. “I’ll find some basic books for you, and how about you email me with a more comprehensive plot summary?”

“I don’t have much,” Derek mutters, his cheeks flushing again.

“Maybe I can give you some more information which will help you direct the flow of your story a little more,” Kira says. “I’ll take whatever you’ve got.”

“Thanks,” Derek replies, finally managing a small smile. “I’m sure you have your own writing to work on, so I really appreciate – ”

“My own writing?” Kira asks, frowning slightly.

“I’m, uh, a bit of a fan,” Derek mutters, ducking his head slightly. “I love the op-eds you’ve submitted to the New York Times. I haven’t gotten a chance to start reading your book yet, but - ”

“Really?” Kira squeaks, her cheeks going a little pink. “I wasn’t sure anyone actually read those. I got kind of… rant-y.”

“I wouldn’t really call it that,” Derek protests. “It was sharp, but eloquent.”

“Thank you,” Kira replies, her smile a little shy. “I better let you get back to Stiles now, though. He’s probably thinking I’ve stolen you from him by now.”

“Stolen me?” Derek repeats, frowning, but Kira just shakes her head, grinning.

“Don’t worry about it,” she says, but there’s a glint in her eyes just the wrong side of mischievous which puts Derek on edge.

However, when he goes back down to the history archive’s office, Stiles gives him such a bright smile that Derek wonders if he’s missing something here. Maybe he’ll be able to pry it from Kira eventually.

---

The next time Derek enters the library, Stiles isn’t there to greet him. There sign on the door has been flipped around to say, “Sorry! We’re CLOSED!” and there’s another, smaller sign below it which says, “Go to room 217 for assistance.”

Derek stares at it for a long moment before reluctantly making his way down the hallway to the stairwell. The room he eventually arrives at is structured almost identically to the office a floor down, but inside is an alpha with long strawberry-blonde hair and a much neater desk than Stiles’.

“Derek Hale?” she asks when he enters, giving him a critical once-over, which makes Derek’s skin prickle uncomfortably.

“Yes,” he answers simply.

“Well, put your belongings in one of the lockers and head down to the reading room,” the woman replies, her tone a little dismissive. “I’ll have your books up in a few minutes.”

Derek does as she instructs. They don’t exchange any pleasantries or small talk, and she certainly doesn’t bring him any extra materials which he hasn’t specifically requested. Normally, he’d love it, but somehow it doesn’t sit right with him.

Somehow, he finds himself missing Stiles.

---

Derek feels a strange sort of relief when he arrives at the library the next day to find the sign on the door of the Beacon Hills History Archive turned to the “We’re OPEN!” side. He tries to convince himself it’s just because of the familiarity of it, but he knows that’s not entirely true.

“Heya, Derek!” Stiles chirps when Derek enters, a bright smile overtaking his mouth which makes a strange sort of warmth spread through Derek’s chest.

“Stiles,” Derek replies evenly, trying to ignore the feeling.

“So, you survived Lydia?” Stiles asks, making Derek frown.

“Lydia?” he repeats.

“Lydia Martin?” Stiles clarifies, his tone going strangely wistful in a way which makes Derek want to grit his teeth. “Head Librarian, genius, and strawberry-blonde alpha goddess?”

“She was fine,” Derek replies dryly. “Professional.”

The smile shrinks from Stiles’ face at that and his expression goes a little blank.

“Right, sorry, I, um – ” Stiles stutters, fiddling with the stack of documents in front of him. “I guess I’ll just get your stuff then. Just – do your thing.”

Before Derek can so much as open his mouth to ask what’s wrong or protest, Stiles is striding away, the door to the office swinging shut behind him. Derek frowns, the fuzzy feeling in his chest having firmly dissipated. He shoves his things into one of the lockers and then makes his way over to the reading room.

Malia nods at him as he enters, and Derek feels a little of his anxiety dissipate at the simple, now familiar gesture. However, when Stiles returns with his cart of books and artifacts, there’s almost nothing familiar about him. His stance is tense and he avoids eye contact, and Derek wants to ask what he’s done wrong, but Stiles slips away before he can, without so much as a, “Have fun!”

After that, Derek finds it remarkably difficult to do his research. The cursive in Josephine Malcolm’s journal gets harder and harder to read and Derek finds his thoughts straying as he wonders why Stiles is suddenly acting so strangely. Derek knows it must have been something he said – when is it not? – but there’s nothing in particular about their conversation which stands out to him.

Then again, maybe it has less to do with him and more to do with this Lydia Martin character. Stiles had seemed a little, well, enamored, and maybe Lydia’s only attracted to omegas and therefore – but no. No, Stiles is in a very happy relationship with Scott, the handsome alpha with the crooked jawline.

The question continues to gnaw at him, to the point where Derek finds himself breaking early for lunch.

However, when he returns, there’s a new folder sitting at his workspace, on top of his other books. Stuck to the top of the folder is a note with a message scrawled in messy hand. Derek frowns and picks it up to read it.

I want to apologize for my lack of professionalism. I didn’t realize it was making you uncomfortable – which isn’t an excuse, of course. I was going to give you these police files this morning. They’re all murder cases from the 1940’s, but technically I’m not supposed to let just anyone access police records, so please don’t tell anyone. And I’m not expecting any sort of payment or favors or anything for this, I promise. I know what it looks like, but I just wanted to help you with your research. I’ll give you your space from now on. – Stiles

Derek stares at the message for a moment and then reads it again. He has to read it a third time before he can actually puzzle out what Stiles is talking about, though, and when it hits him, he finds his chest flooding with pleased warmth again.

Not that Stiles isn’t being an idiot, of course, but it’s the thought that counts, Derek supposes.

Malia gives him a curious look as he leaves the reading room again, abandoning his research. Derek makes his way back to the history archive office, glad to see that Stiles is at his desk as usual, biting at his lower lip as his fingers fly over his computer keyboard. However, he startles as Derek swings the door open.

“Derek!” Stiles exclaims, a little wide-eyed. “I – ”

“Don’t apologize,” Derek interrupts, which doesn’t do anything to change Stiles’ surprised expression. “When I said that Ms. Martin was professional, I didn’t mean to imply that you aren’t.”

“But – ” Stiles starts.

“You don’t make me uncomfortable,” Derek says awkwardly. It’s true, as far as sexual harassment goes. The only ways in which Stiles makes him uncomfortable are entirely his own fault. Stiles can’t help that Derek finds him a bit attractive. “I appreciate the extra effort you’ve gone to to help me with my research, and I didn’t – I understand it was just about the research.”

Not that Derek would be opposed to it being about more than just Stiles’ love of research, but he’s not about to turn this harassment misunderstanding back around on himself.

“So, uh,” Stiles replies, a little awkward. “So you’re okay with me helping you with your research?”

“I’m not – you’ve done more than enough, but if you want – ” Derek says.

“I do,” Stiles interrupts quickly. “It’s an interesting topic.”

“Thank you,” Derek replies, finally relaxing a little. “For your help. And for the police reports. I promise I won’t tell anyone about them.”

“Thanks, man,” Stiles says with a slightly relieved smile. “I mean, Kira’s ranted to me before about alphas overstepping their boundaries, and I don’t want to be one of them, you know?”

“You’re not,” Derek says softly. It’s a problem in and of itself, though. Not that Derek doesn’t appreciate the refreshing lack of harassment. “I should let you get back to work.”

“If you want to answer my emails, I’d gladly let you at them,” Stiles snorts, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips. “You do my emails, I do your research, yeah?”

“Nice try,” Derek snorts, finally earning him a full-blown smile from Stiles.

“Worth a shot,” Stiles replies, eyes sparkling with mirth.

The rest of Derek’s day passes surprisingly quickly, considering how unfocused he was earlier that morning. He’s remarkably productive, too, and he realizes that it really shouldn’t take him much too much longer until he’s gotten enough research done to actually start writing.

For some reason that doesn’t make him nearly as happy as it should.

---

“So, Tomiko’s brother is murdered before she’s sent to Oak Creek,” Kira confirms as she reads over Derek’s notes, tapping a pen against her lips. “And she hires Roy to look into it before Executive Order Nine-Zero-Six-Six is issued, because she suspects it was actually a hate crime?”

“I figured it would deal with the issue of military versus local police jurisdiction,” Derek says, shrugging. “They correspond via mail while she’s in the internment camp.”

“Except mail was censored,” Kira points out. “I suppose they’d have to develop a sort of code. You know, keywords and such.”

“Would it look suspicious if they’re corresponding consistently after not having much contact prior?” Derek asks, frowning.

“Maybe,” Kira answers. “But I highly doubt the military would care too much about two omegas exchanging letters. One of the only advantages of stereotypes, I guess.”

Derek makes a noise of agreement, jotting down a few notes on his outline.

“I’ll see what I can dig up for you on mail censorship at Oak Creek,” Kira says, making some notes of her own. “I’m also going to send you Satomi Ito’s contact information. She was actually an internee at Oak Creek and can probably give you a better idea of how feasible regular correspondence would be. She was in her early teens then and is in her late eighties now, but she’s still sharp as a tack.”

“Thanks,” Derek replies, giving her a small smile.

“No problem,” Kira replies, smiling back. “How’s your research with Stiles going?”

“Fine,” Derek answers, trying to keep his tone steady, neutral. “He dug up some helpful maps for me.”

“Yeah?” Kira laughs. “He always seems to know what you’re looking for before you figure it out yourself.”

Derek nods in agreement.

“But you know,” Kira continues, a glint in her eye which sets Derek on edge, “he only puts in the extra effort for people he actually likes. He must really like you to try and find maps for you.”

“It’s not like that,” Derek retorts glaring.

“Uh huh,” Kira says with a grin.

“Shut up,” Derek grumbles, the tips of his ears growing hot. “If you’re just going to make fun of me, maybe I should go back to the reading room and get some actual work done.”

“Alright, alright,” Kira sighs. “You’re no fun. I guess I’ll just have to save my teasing for Stiles.”

Derek sincerely hopes Stiles sets her straight, so he doesn’t start getting the wrong idea about Derek’s interest in him.

Or, you know, the right idea.

---

Derek’s fallen into a comfortable pattern over the few weeks he’s been researching at Stevenson Library. It’s… nice. Most of the time Derek’s left to do his work in peace, but Stiles always finds some new and unexpected material for him to use and invariably they end up talking for longer than Derek should be comfortable with. The strange thing, though, is that he is comfortable with it.

So maybe he’s developed a bit of a crush on Stiles. It’s harmless, really. It’s not like it could actually go anywhere anyway, considering Stiles is both attracted to alphas and in a relationship, but Derek finds himself indulging in his attraction in small ways.

“Wait, so you said Roy is mated to Adrian?” Stiles asks, drawing Derek back to the current conversation. At first he’d tried to be careful about how much he told Stiles about the book, but he’d quickly given up on that as he’d come to realize that Stiles’ insight is too good to pass up in fear of him posting spoilers on the internet or something.

“Yes,” Derek replies, shifting his chair a little so he can better see Stiles, who’s half blocked by his large desktop computer.

“And Adrian’s an alpha?” Stiles continues, frowning slightly. “And Roy’s an omega?”

“Yes,” Derek repeats, arching an eyebrow at Stiles.

“Well, that won’t work,” Stiles replies, and now it’s Derek’s turn to frown. “Same-gender bonding wasn’t legal in California until 1948, even for Alpha-Omega pairings.”

“Huh,” Derek finds himself saying. It’s not exactly a secret that heterosexual Alpha-Omega pairings are still viewed as the “ideal” – Adam and Eve and all that – but same-gender coupling is still slightly more accepted than same-dynamic.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies, nodding. “Same year that California legalized interracial marriage. You know, because, statistically, most alphas are male and most omegas are female, and then Immanuel Kant decided to popularize the idea that alpha male-omega female pairings are more ‘fertile’ or whatever and therefore better. What an asshole, right?”

“So now I have to – ” Derek grumbles, but Stiles cuts him off.

“I mean, you can still have them courting,” Stiles suggest, biting his lower lip and adjusting his glasses slightly. “They just can’t be legally mated. And it’s not like same-gender couples didn’t live together back then. We have a recorded oral history in the Gender, Dynamic, and Sexuality archive of a female alpha and omega couple who moved to Beacon Hills in the mid 40’s and lived together. People pretty much turned a blind eye to them or assumed they’d grow out of it, and then it was legalized, so. I can get you a copy of the recording, if you want.”

“Thanks,” Derek says, that annoying warmth flooding his chest again.

They fall into silence for a moment as Derek jots down those extra notes and Stiles continues to click through his emails.

“Hey, uh, so I was wondering,” Stiles says, breaking the silence. “Would you want a tour of the archive?”

“A tour?” Derek repeats, a little blankly, confused.

“Yeah, I mean, normally it’s just for the bigwigs and people we’re trying to get donations from, but I could show you the stacks,” Stiles elaborates, fidgeting a little.

“Are you allowed to do that?” Derek asks, trying to keep his voice level and not sound too giddy at the prospect.

“Psssh, I’m a curator. I do want I want,” Stiles answers, shooting Derek a wide grin. “So is that a yes?”

“Sure,” Derek replies, a small smile spreading across his own lips.

“Come get me around closing time, then,” Stiles says, standing up from his chair and stretching. Derek can’t quite help the way his eyes track the flex of Stiles muscles, and his cheeks heat as his eyes catch a glimpse of a thick trail of hair peeking out from under the waistband of Stiles’ jeans.

It’s little moments like this that remind Derek of how Alpha Stiles is, even if he doesn’t act like it. And sure, it’s not like Derek himself isn’t muscular or hairy, but even then, his happy trail is sparse at best and he’s worked for his muscle definition, while Stiles’ seems more… natural, effortless.

Derek suddenly wonders if it’s a good idea to seclude himself with Stiles in the stacks.

---

“Alright, time to show you where the magic happens,” Stiles announces with a grin as he pulls the lanyard – Scott’s lanyard – with his keycard out of his pocket and swipes it, the door in front of them opening with a soft click. “Or, well, where the magic is kept, or something.”

Derek follows Stiles through the door and towards the elevators and pushes the down button, bouncing on the balls of his feet impatiently. Derek isn’t sure whether to find it endearing or annoying. Maybe both.

“So,” Stiles continues as they step into the elevator. “We’re heading approximately eighty-two feet underground. See, when we’re that far below, we’re a lot less affected by changes in surface temperature, and can keep a constant temperature of about sixty-two degrees and relative humidity of fifty percent to better preserve the books and other artifacts.”

“Glad I brought my jacket,” Derek says idly, and Stiles laughs.

“Yeah, sometimes I have to bring, like, two extra layers if I’m gonna be down here for an extended period of time,” Stiles agrees, although that apparently hasn’t stopped him from wearing a t-shirt today. Briefly, Derek wonders how spontaneous this tour offer was. “Re-shelving books can be a pain.”

They lapse into silence for a moment.

“I like it though,” Stiles finally says. “It’s kinda like Hanger Fifty-One from Raiders of the Lost Arc sometimes. Maybe not quite as cool, because I don’t think anything in here can kill you, but close.”

Derek makes a little noise of agreement, unsure what else to say. The elevator comes to a stop then, and the doors slide open, leading them out into another hallway.

“It’s technically a loop, but let’s go this way first,” Stiles announces, leading Derek off to the right and through two very tall doors, into a loading bay type area. “This area’s kind of boring, though,” Stiles continues as he swipes his keycard so that another set of tall doors swing open automatically. “It’s just a loading dock. But through here, we have some cool shit.”

“Is that a technical term?” Derek snorts.

“Yeah, it is,” Stiles huffs, his expression almost a pout. “But you’ll see, as soon as we get through the airlock.”

Derek blinks at the far end of the small stretch of hallway and realizes that huh, it really is an airlock. Stiles glances back over his shoulder – probably to make sure the other doors have closed behind them – and then swipes his keycard yet again to open the second set of doors.

When they finally swing open, it takes Derek conscious effort not to gape. Apparently he’s not as successful as he’d like, though, because Stiles smirks at him.

“The cavern’s about six hundred feet long,” Stiles says, walking fully into the room. “And each self is approximately thirty feet tall.”

“These are all the special collections?” Derek asks, moving forward to get a closer look at one of the shelving units.

“God, no. I wish we had that much space,” Stiles laughs, sidling up next to Derek. “These are all books that belong to the university or to the Beacon Hills and Beacon Heights public libraries. They aren’t in circulation, but are books that might still be worth keeping. It’s storage, basically.”

“How are they sorted?” Derek questions, frowning as he gets a better look at the trays of books lining the shelves.

“By size,” Stiles answers with a grin. Derek can’t help his slightly startled look. “It’s because we need all the space we can possibly get, and this way we don’t lose space between the tops of books and the bottom of the next shelf. We can adjust them to fit each book height.”

“You must love having to find them,” Derek snorts.

“Not my job, thank god,” Stiles replies, reaching past Derek to tap at the label plastered to one of the book trays. “They’re all barcoded and in our database, though.”

“Ah,” Derek says, trying to ignore the feeling of their shoulders brushing lightly together. He breathes a little more shallowly as he catches a hint of Stiles’ scent, thick and musky, like old books and coffee.

“We have about six hundred thousand books down here,” Stiles continues, running his long fingers along the shelf. “Pretty awesome, right?”

“In the whole library, or just this cavern?” Derek asks, craning his neck to look up the three storey high bookshelf in front of him.

“Just this cavern,” Stiles replies with a grin. “C’mon, let me show you where we keep the stuff that’s actually cool.”

He starts off down the aisle between the high bookshelves and Derek follows, trying to adjust his eyes to the dim lighting. Another necessity to preserve the books, he supposes. Eventually they reach the end of the cavern and Stiles opens a small door, leading them into a smaller hallway. To their left is a series of doors, and Derek finds himself peering through the small windows in the doors, trying to catch a glimpse of their contents.

“These are for the various special collections,” Stiles explains, and Derek looks up to find Stiles smiling at him in a way that looks almost fond. But then again, he’s probably just happy to see someone else taking an interest in the archives. “Here’s the Beacon Hills History one.”

Stiles swipes his keycard and lets them into one of the side rooms. Inside, it’s a lot more cluttered than the larger cavern. Books, boxes, magazines and other miscellaneous artifacts crowd the shelves, and on the walls hang various paintings and prints – everything from landscapes to political campaign posters.

“We have about six thousand linear feet,” Stiles says proudly, chest puffing up a little, probably the first explicitly alpha mannerism Derek’s seen him display. “Everything from personal journals from early founders to a suitcase John Steinbeck forgot when he passed through in nineteen thirty seven.”

“A suitcase?” Derek snorts.

“An important part of Beacon Hills history,” Stiles replies solemnly, but Derek can tell he’s biting back a smile.

“What about your archive?” Derek asks, and Stiles blinks at him, looking a little surprised.

“Uh, it’s in the next room,” Stiles answers, jerking his thumb in that direction.

“Can I see it?” Derek asks bluntly when Stiles doesn’t make any move to offer.

“If you want to,” Stiles replies, frowning slightly.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Derek counters, a frown of his own spreading across his lips.

“I don’t know, just – never mind,” Stiles says, shaking his head, but he turns towards the door and back out into the hallway, unlocking the next door and letting Derek inside the new room.

However, if the History Archive was cluttered, the Gender, Dynamic, and Sexuality Archive is a mess. Poster tubes crowd the corners and carts half-filled with books fill the aisles between shelves. As Derek looks closer, he sees tubs filled with buttons, and feels his lips twitch up into a ghost of a smile as he reads one which says, “Bi-curious George” with a drawing of a monkey on it.

“So, uh, here’s the archive,” Stiles says, waving his hand vaguely. “We have less stuff than the history archive – only about two thousand five hundred linear feet – but we have some pretty cool stuff, both old and new. Like this – ”

Stiles reaches up to grab a slim box off the shelf. He pulls it apart to reveal a thick, old-looking book. What really catches Derek’s attention, though, is the bottom right corner of the book. It looks… charred.

“Do you know who Magnus Hirschfeld was?” Stiles asks.

Derek shakes his head.

“He was a Jewish German physician during the second World War,” Stiles explains, running a hand over the book’s cover. “He formed the first gay rights organization in the world, along with the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, where they did research on sexuality and performed some of the first sex and dynamic reassignment surgeries. But then Hitler came into power and the Nazis burned the institute’s library. This – ” Stiles holds up the book. “ – was one of the few volumes saved from the fire.”

“It’s about the Marquis de Sade?” Derek asks, frowning as he reads the French writing on the cover, and Stiles laughs, sharp and bright.

“Yeah, so it’s not even directly related to the topic of my archive,” Stiles answers, grinning. “But this book – I mean, it’s not really about the subject. It’s more about the history of it, its origins. Because most archives are worried about protecting significant artifacts from being forgotten or neglected, but for us… we have to worry about protecting our history from people who’d want to actively destroy it.”

He indicates the burned half of the book, the blackened edges of the delicate paper.

“This book is a reminder of that,” Stiles finally finishes.

Derek thinks he falls in love a little.

“Anyway!” Stiles announces, placing the book back into its box. “Enough of that sad stuff. Did you know we have books in over fifty-eight different languages?”

As Derek listens to Stiles babble on, he realizes that he’s so, so head over heels.

---

When he touches himself later that night, curling his fingers inside himself, for a brief moment he wonders what Stiles’ knot would feel like, filling him up and stretching him wide. He comes with Stiles’ name on his lips and tries to ignore the guilty feeling in his chest when he cleans up afterwards.

---

It only takes a few more days for Derek to finish up his research. Well, maybe he’ll have to come back a few times to clarify details, but he has enough to really start writing now.

Of course, that means that he doesn’t have an excuse to see Stiles anymore.

Which is why he’s currently at his usual table in the reading room, trying to look like he’s actually researching instead of just writing the first chapter of his book. It’s day three of operation “get some work done while also hanging out with Stiles” and so far it doesn’t look like anyone suspects anything.

Well, except for maybe Malia. The way she’s been looking at him recently has almost been – well, curious. Maybe even suspicious. Then again, she’s always kind of looked at him like she’s puzzling out his intentions.

Derek’s chest feels a little tight as he wonders if she’s figured it out – his attraction to Stiles.

If she has, though, she doesn’t call him out on it. But Derek tries not to dwell on it, and pushes his concerns to the back of his mind. He has work to focus on.

Soon enough, though, comes Derek’s favorite part of the day. He gathers up his supplies and signs out with Malia before heading to Stiles’ office to get his stuff from the locker there – but, more importantly, to see Stiles for a few minutes and maybe talk about his research a bit or any other topic that might come up.

(He tries to ignore the guilty jealousy that claws at his chest whenever that topic is Scott.)

However, when Derek enters the Archives’ office, he finds some already talking to Stiles. Her scent hits him immediately, something floral, but somehow it’s enticing without being overwhelming. She has blonde hair that curls gently and a soft face with pink cheeks. She’s the textbook picture of an omega, small and delicate with a rich scent that probably turns heads wherever she goes.

Derek can’t help but notice how close she and Stiles are, and he finds himself stopping in his tracks as he observes the tilt of Stiles’ body, curling towards the unfamiliar omega. There’s an unmistakable interest to his body language, his pupils blown wide and dark.

“Uh huh, and what do I get if I help you?” Stiles drawls, but his tone is playful. Familiar, too, like he and this omega are close.

“What you’ve been after for the past two years,” the omega snorts, but she’s smiling. “As a show of gratitude for the archive’s support, of course.”

“Then I would be more than happy to help,” Stiles says with a grin, eyes bright. Derek feels another surge of jealousy as he wonders if Stiles has ever looked at him like that. But at the same time, he feels a strange anger building in his chest – because doesn’t Stiles have a boyfriend? He hadn’t pegged Stiles as the type to fool around behind his partner’s back.

“I’ll stop by tomorrow then,” the omega replies, and then Stiles stands up from his desk to give her a brief hug. Their bodies press flush together, and Derek scowls at how neatly her small body fits against Stiles’ larger one, in a way Derek’s own bulk never could. He has to make a conscious effort not to glare daggers at the omega as she strides past him out of the office. She even gives him a small, polite smile, which makes him feel even more like an asshole.

“Hey, Derek,” Stiles says, finally breaking Derek out of his jealousy-induced trance.

“What about Scott?” he blurts out, before he can stop himself.

“What about Scott?” Stiles asks, frowning.

“You – Scott’s your boyfriend,” Derek says, hands clenching into fists at his side.

“Uh,” Stiles replies, looking a little surprised. “No he’s not.”

“But you – ” Derek starts, unsure how exactly to say what he wants to say. “He picks you up all the time. And you smell like each other.”

“Dude, we’re like – Scott and I are basically soulmates,” Stiles says slowly. “But we’re not romantically involved or anything. Plus, I’m pretty sure he has a thing for Kira, and the only reason he hangs around here so much is so he can go flirt with her while he’s waiting for me to close up shop.”

“Oh,” Derek replies awkwardly. “Then you and…?”

“Heather,” Stiles supplies. “And no, we’re not… involved.”

There’s a certain hesitation to his tone, and Derek wonders if that means he wants to be.

“Sorry,” Derek mutters, averting his eyes. “I didn’t mean to insinuate – ”

“It’s fine,” Stiles says, waving off his concerns. “You’re not the first person to make that mistake. Heather and I have known each other since we were, like, in diapers. Our moms were friends.”

“Ah,” Derek replies, unsure what else to say.

Stiles nods stiffly, and Derek turns to gather his belongings, wondering how he’s supposed to deal with his ever-growing infatuation, now that he knows that Stiles is actually attracted to omegas, too.

---

“What are you still doing here?” a voice asks as Derek enters the library the next day.

He frowns and turns to find an alpha with long, strawberry-blonde hair giving him a cool look, a sort of challenge in her eyes. It takes him a moment to place her as Lydia Martin, Head Librarian.

“Excuse me?” he replies, frowning, trying to think of what he could have done to warrant this.

“You finished your research four days ago,” Lydia elaborates. “So why are you still here?”

“How do you – ” Derek starts.

“Malia is more observant than most give her credit for,” Lydia answers easily. “My question?”

“It’s a good writing environment,” Derek lies. He might like Stevenson Library better than most, but it’s still a library.

“Try again,” Lydia snorts, looking unimpressed.

“Why do you care?” Derek snaps, resisting the urge to bare his teeth at her.

“Because I care about Stiles,” Lydia replies simply. “And Stiles is the sort of person who needs an outright acceptance or rejection.”

“What do you mean?” Derek asks, his brow furrowing.

“I mean that you should either ask him out or nip this in the bud,” Lydia explains – not that it’s much of an explanation, to Derek at least. “Don’t draw this out. And if you do reject him, don’t worry about him persisting. Thankfully he’s managed to mature out of that habit.”

“I don’t think you understand,” Derek replies, finally starting to puzzle out what Lydia is saying.

“Oh, don’t I?” Lydia replies, challenge in her tone. She looms a little, alpha-like, despite her short stature. “Because Stiles doesn’t give tours to just any researcher.”

Derek wants to ask how she knows about that, surprised, but he manages to keep himself from asking.

“Just make up your mind,” Lydia says, gaze hard and unwavering. “For Stiles’ sake.”

She stares at him for a moment longer and then turns on her heel, leaving him to his thoughts. He tries to process the conversation as he watches her leave, high heels clicking against the floor.

He wonders if maybe he has a chance after all.

---

Unfortunately, despite Derek’s encounter with Lydia, he can’t stop thinking about Heather. Or, rather, he can’t stop thinking about Stiles’ reaction to Heather, every line of his body shouting his interest. Because Heather is…

Well, she’s everything Derek isn’t.

Delicate, where he’s sturdy. Small, where he’s almost Stiles’ height. Blonde, where his own hair is dark and coarse. Sunny, where Derek’s a storm cloud. Obviously an omega, where Derek could pass for a beta with little effort.

Just as he finds out he might have a chance with Stiles, it looks like he actually doesn’t. He’s the very antithesis of Stiles’ type.

His instincts, however, seem to think that he can fix this. Which is why he’s pulling a tray of cookies out of the oven, swearing under his breath as a plume of blackish smoke comes with them. So much for omegas being innately good at baking.

It’s stupid, he knows it is, trying to change himself to get Stiles’ attention. Either Stiles likes him as he is, or he doesn’t, but a part of him says that maybe if he just gets Stiles to see him an omega instead of a researcher or friend, then he’ll –

Derek slams the oven door closed in frustration.

He takes a deep breath and tries to cool his anger. He hates what his attraction to Stiles has done to him, what it’s reduced him to – a pathetic, needy little thing clambering for an alpha’s attention. It’s something he thought he’d never be reduced to again, not after Kate.

Not that Stiles is anything like Kate – which is part of the problem, really. Stiles is kind and funny and hardworking and he doesn’t treat Derek like he’s inferior because of his dynamic.

Derek sighs and looks at the cookies. A few of them are a little blackened around the edges, but some of them look okay. Might as well bring them in if he’s already put this much effort into making them. The thought of Stiles thanking him is enough to make him transfer them to a plate and cover them carefully in plastic wrap.

When he arrives at Stevenson Library, Stiles is hunched over his desk as usual, chewing on the end of a pencil as his eyes scan a document. He looks up when the door swings shut with a soft click, and Derek could almost swear that his expression brightens.

“Hey, Derek! How’s – ” Stiles starts, but he cuts himself off suddenly as his eyes land on the plate of cookies in Derek’s hand.

Derek opens his mouth to offer one to Stiles, but before he can, Stiles exclaims, “Dude what the fuck.”

Derek blinks at him, thrown off guard.

“I told you on, like, the first day that food isn’t allowed in the library,” Stiles says, scowling. Derek suddenly wishes that the ground would open up and swallow him whole. Immediately.

“Sorry,” Derek mutters awkwardly.

“So, like, you’re going to have to get rid of them, or I’m gonna have to confiscate them or something,” Stiles sighs, running a hand through his hair and making it even messier than normal.

“Just take them,” Derek grunts, shoving the tray into Stiles’ hands.

“Sorry, but the rules – ” Stiles starts, his expression softening somewhat, but Derek just shakes his head sharply and turns back towards the door.

“Derek – ” he hears Stiles call after him, but Derek doesn’t slow down, his cheek burning in embarrassment.

Looks like he can’t do anything right.

---

Derek doesn’t go to the library the next day, still smarting from his last encounter with Stiles. And really, there’s no reason for him to go to the library anymore. All of his research has been finished for a while now, and Stiles –

Well, Stiles is just a distraction from what he should be doing: writing. And it’s not like he ever had a chance with Stiles anyway. Better to let it go now.

Still, he finds himself restless, cooped up in his apartment, as his first week away from the library drags on. He has no one to help him fact check, no one to bounce ideas off. He feels almost… lonely.

It’s been a remarkably long time since he’s felt lonely.

So he picks up his phone.

“My, my,” Erica drawls when he picks up. “To what do I owe this pleasure? Do you need bail money or something?”

“Why do you assume that I would only call you for bail money?” Derek huffs, scowling.

“Because you’re a hermit who hates human contact?” Erica quips, and Derek can tell she’s grinning, even if he can’t actually see her.

“I don’t – I’m not a hermit,” Derek retorts, his cheeks heating.

“Der, last time you got drunk you told me your greatest accomplishment was going a full week without any human contact,” Erica counters. “You’re a hermit.”

“Well, I was going to invite you to lunch, but it looks like you don’t actually want to,” Derek drawls.

There’s silence on the other end for a moment.

“Who are you and what have you done with Derek Hale?” Erica finally says, and Derek scowls again. “Normally I have to bribe you with chocolate cherry scones to even get you out the door, but now you’re inviting me out for lunch?

“Shouldn’t you be happy then?” Derek grumbles.

“No, I’m concerned,” Erica replies. “Oh my god, are you dying? Have you been diagnosed with brain cancer? Is this going to be our last meal together?

“How are we friends?” Derek sighs. “But no, I’m not dying. I just need to get out of the house for a bit.”

Another stretch of silence fall over them.

“Stella’s?” Erica finally asks.

“Sure,” Derek answers.

“But if you show up looking like you’re on death’s doorstep, I reserve the right to force you to go to the hospital,” Erica continues. “And Boyd’s coming, too, so I have back up.”

“Fine,” Derek grumbles. “But I’m not sick.”

“Suuuure,” Erica replies, sounding less than convinced. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Which is how Derek finds himself seated in a booth in Stella’s Café, trying to ignore the suspicious but concerned looks Erica and Boyd are giving him as they slide into the seat across from him.

“You look like shit,” Boyd says bluntly and Derek has to suppress a grimace.

“Nice to see you too, Boyd,” he retorts.

“But you don’t look quite bad enough to be dying,” Erica adds, scrutinizing him carefully. “So, what’s going on with you?”

“Why does there have to be something going on with me?” Derek asks, exasperated.

Erica and Boyd just stare at him, unimpressed.

“Fine,” Derek relents, glaring down at the table. “There might be an alpha involved.”

“What?” Erica exclaims, and Boyd says, “Who do we need to kill?”

“No one,” Derek sighs. “It’s not like that. I just have this stupid crush.”

“So you need seduction techniques,” Erica says, her eyes bright with mischief.

“No, I don’t – he’s not interested in me,” Derek replies, hoping he sounds less whiney aloud than he does in his head.

“Ergo my seduction techniques,” Erica counters, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“They’re not going to work, Erica,” Derek sighs, picking up his menu and fiddling with it.

“They got me Boyd,” Erica protests, looking to her boyfriend for support.

“That’s because he was already head over heels for you,” Derek says, raising his eyebrows at her in challenge.

“Hate to break it to you, babe…” Boyd agrees, draping his arm over Erica’s shoulders. “Not that your seduction techniques didn’t help speed things along a little.”

“So?” Erica huffs, but she doesn’t try to dislodge Boyd’s arm. “My seduction techniques will help speed Derek’s relationship along.”

“Who is it?” Boyd asks, looking away from Erica and over at Derek. “The alpha?”

“One of the librarians I was working with for my book,” Derek admits.

“Of course you’d fall for a librarian,” Erica snorts, earning her a glare from Derek. “Did you two geek out over books together? Does he have a jacket with elbow patches? Do you two read thesauruses together in – ”

“Derek?” an all-too-familiar voice says, interrupting Erica. “Hey, Derek!”

Derek turns to find Stiles heading towards him across the Café. The sight is devastating. Stiles’ cheeks are flushed a pleasant pink, and his glasses are slipping down his nose. For once, he’s not buried under layers of plaid, the thin fabric of his purple-blue henley clinging to his biceps instead. Derek’s mouth goes dry, and he’s unable to do anything but sit there, frozen, as Stiles stalks forward towards him.

“Oh my god, dude, Kira and I thought you were dead or something,” Stiles announces when he reaches the table, and Derek is finally able to tear his eyes away just long enough to see Kira next to Stiles, looking concerned. “Seriously, where have you been?”

“I finished my research,” Derek says awkwardly, unsure how else to respond.

“Oh,” Stiles replies, deflating a little, his face falling.

“You still could have told us,” Kira says, frowning slightly, and Derek resists the urge to slide down out of his seat and under the table, like he’s ten again.

“Shit, were the cookies…?” Stiles asks, his eyes widening. “Fuck, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize – ”

“It’s fine,” Derek replies.

“Cookies?” Erica repeats, a grin spreading across her face which makes her look like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. “Since when do you bake, Derek?”

“Since I felt like baking,” Derek replies, scowling at Erica.

“Care to introduce us, Derek?” Boyd asks, nodding towards Stiles and Kira, who are looking at Erica and Boyd with equal curiosity.

“Erica and Boyd, Stiles and Kira, the librarians helping me with the research for my book,” Derek says, his tone a little stiff. “Stiles and Kira, my friends Erica and Boyd.”

“Nice to meet you,” Kira says with a polite smile, and Stiles nods.

“I approve,” Erica purrs, slowly looking Stiles up and down. Stiles blushes a little and looks over to Derek for help.

“Erica,” Derek growls in warning.

“Fine, fine,” Erica huffs, before turning back to Kira and Stiles. “Nice to meet you, too. And congratulations on dealing with Derek’s grouchy attitude for so long.”

Derek glares at her.

“Grouchy attitude?” Kira repeats with a frown.

“He’s not so bad,” Stiles says with a grin. “When he’s not abandoning us without so much as a Dear John letter, that is. Seriously, you’re going to have to stop by again so you can give us a proper goodbye. Also I think we still have your plate, from the cookie incident.”

Both Boyd and Erica turn to Derek to give him identical looks, which Derek tries to ignore.

“Fine,” Derek says, trying to ignore the butterflies that flutter in his stomach when Stiles smiles at him.

“I’m holding you to that,” Stiles threatens, but his tone is playful. “Unfortunately our lunch break isn’t that long, so…”

“It was nice seeing you,” Kira says with a smile, giving a little wave to Derek, Boyd, and Erica.

“Right back at’cha,” Erica says with a grin that does not bode well for Derek.

Stiles flashes one more smile at him before walking away, and Derek tries not to stare after him, but he’s not terribly successful. A faint hint of Stiles’ scent still hangs in the air around their booth and Derek feels a little dizzy with it.

When he finally looks back at Boyd and Erica, they’re giving him identical knowing looks.

“So,” Boyd says, giving Derek an unimpressed look. “That’s the librarian, right? Stiles? And you claim he’s not interested in you.”

“He’s not,” Derek mutters, his cheeks flushing.

“Please,” Erica snorts. “He looked like he wanted to fuck you senseless and then handfeed you strawberries.”

Erica,” Derek hisses, his face growing even hotter – partially from her teasing, but also somewhat from the mental image. “He didn’t – ”

“He did,” Boyd interrupts, and Derek glares at him. Traitor. “Hey, I’m just calling it as I see it.”

“Yeah, c’mon Derek,” Erica urges.

“Fine,” Derek relents. “Fine, I – I’ll talk to him.”

“You’re heat’s in a week or so, isn’t it?” Erica asks, arching an eyebrow at him. “You better hurry up.”

Speaking of heats,” Derek says, latching onto the chance to change the topic. “What’s going on with you two and Isaac?”

“We have a date on Friday,” Boyd answers easily, a smug smiles on his face.

“And any alphas who say betas can’t satisfy an omega’s heat can suck on that,” Erica says with a sharp grin.

Derek sighs and wonders how everyone but him seems to have their lives together.

---

The next morning, Derek wakes up feeling strangely warm and uncomfortable in his own skin. It feels tight, almost, and itchy, and he finds himself restless as he goes about his morning routine. It’s not until he goes to change out of his pajamas, though, that he realizes how wet he feels between his thighs, damp with slick.

He reaches a hand back to feel his hole, wet and already a little loose. Another wave of warmth washes over his body, and even through the slight cloudiness in his head he can recognize what’s happening.

He’s gone into heat early.

For a moment, he’s unsure what to do. He was going to go over to the library today, talk with Stiles some and finally ask him out, but he can’t do that now. He might only be on the very edge of heat right now, but it’s never a good idea to go out in this sort of condition.

Derek collapses back on his bed, staring at the ceiling as he wonders what to do.

His thoughts stray to Stiles, over him, in him, filling him up and nipping at his skin. Stiles would make him feel better. And it’s not like he wasn’t planning to ask Stiles to help him through his heat anyway. He just hadn’t expected it to be quite so soon.

With that in mind, he fumbles for his cell phone, which is lying on his nightstand – only to pause when he realizes that he doesn’t actually have Stiles’ number. It’s like a shock of cold water to the face.

He ends up scrolling through the university library’s website until he finds Stiles’ office phone number on his employee profile. He can’t help but stare at Stiles’ profile picture for a moment, though, drinking in his appearance and wondering what those plush lips will feel like against his skin, against his throat.

He dials, and hopes to god that Stiles is the one who picks up.

“Hello, Stevenson Library, Stiles Stilinski speaking,” Stiles says, much to Derek’s relief, his voice warm and smooth like honey.

“Stiles,” Derek replies, all too aware of how rough his own voice is.

“Derek?” Stiles says, sounding surprised. “Hey, you’re not calling to cancel on me, are you?”

“I – kind of,” Derek admits, embarrassed as feels his body reacting to the sound of Stiles’ voice, even though he isn’t physically here with Derek. “I’m in heat.”

“Shit, well, that’s certainly a good excuse,” Stiles replies, a note of sympathy in his voice. “I suppose it’ll be a while until I see you, then, huh?”

“No,” Derek blurts out. “No, I was hoping you could… come over.”

Stiles is silent for a moment.

“Derek, you don’t know what you’re saying,” Stiles finally replies, his voice a little strangled.

“I do,” Derek argues. “I was going to ask you today, but my heat came early.”

“Derek, you’re not – ” Stiles protests. “You haven’t show any interest in me before – ”

“You’ve been driving me crazy for weeks now,” Derek interrupts, and he wants so badly to reach his fingers back and slide them inside his hole, but he needs to be aware for this conversation, needs Stiles to know that this isn’t just because of his heat. “You smell so fucking good and I just want to – I even tried to bake for you – ”

“Those cookies were for me?” Stiles blurts out, clearly startled. “But I – ”

“Come over,” Derek breathes. “Please, just…”

“Derek, the heat hormones are fucking with your mind right now,” Stiles says, his tone soothing. “They’re just making you think you need an alpha, and I’m convenient – ”

“You’re not convenient,” Derek protests, because, really, Stiles is anything but. “If I wanted convenient, you’re not the one I’d ask. I want you.”

“Derek – ” Stiles sighs, but Derek cuts him off.

“I lied,” Derek interrupts, trying to ignore the ache in his body and the heat starting to addle his thought process. “I said I stopped coming to the library because I’d finished my research, but I actually finished it four days before.”

“What?” Stiles sputters. “But – ”

“I wanted to see you,” Derek admits, feeling raw and exposed with the admission. “And the cookies – I’ve been planning on asking you. It’s not just because I’m desperate for an alpha.”

“Well – but – I mean, that was then, but what about now, you don’t – ” Stiles continues to babble, and Derek feels a frustrated growl build in his throat. “And are you sure you want me? I’m not – ”

Stiles,” Derek snaps. “If you don’t want this, just tell me and I’ll take care of it myself. I don’t need you here, I just want you.”

Stiles is silent for a moment. Derek wonders if that’s his reply – that Stiles doesn’t actually want this, but then Stiles softly asks, “You’re sure you want this?”

“For the last time, yes,” Derek replies, his voice rough and throaty. “I want this. But not if you don’t.”

“I do,” Stiles finally says, and relief floods through Derek. “Fuck, alright, I have some stuff I have to finish up here, and I need to find someone to cover for me, but I’ll be there in a bit. I promise. You’re lucky I don’t have any important meetings scheduled for the next few days. Lydia’s definitely going to make me do so much overtime, though. Shit, and I’m going to have to fill out an emergency heat leave form – ”

“Sorry,” Derek says, grimacing slightly to himself. Maybe springing this on Stiles wasn’t his best idea ever.

“Yeah, well, Deaton’s back in tomorrow, and he owes me,” Stiles replies. “It’ll work out.”

“Thanks,” Derek replies.

“What’s your address?” Stiles asks, and Derek is struck by the oddness of this situation. They’ve only ever met on neutral ground before, but now here he is, inviting Stiles into his territory when he’s at his most vulnerable.

He rattles off his address anyway. He trusts Stiles.

“Get yourself ready for me, okay?” Stiles adds, his tone dipping into something akin to a purr. It makes Derek shiver.

“Fuck,” Derek groans, and Stiles laughs, before hanging up.

Derek throws his phone aside and does as he’s told.

---

Derek doesn’t know exactly how long it takes Stiles to get to his apartment. He spends his time falling deeper and deeper into heat-daze, fingering himself lazily and bearing his neck, frustrated with the lack of pressure there, no teeth biting into his skin, no one there to claim him.

He all but falls out of bed in his hurry to get to the door when someone finally knocks.

He tries to take a moment to collect himself when he reaches the door, embarrassed by his own desperation, but he can already smell Stiles, coffee and old books and alpha musk. Sure enough, when he opens the door, Stiles is on the other end, hands laden with… grocery bags?

“Hi,” Stiles says, pupils already dilating and his tone a little breathy.

“Hi,” Derek replies, suddenly awkward, all too aware of how desperate and needy he must have sounded on the phone. “Come in.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Stiles drawls, shooting Derek an amused grin. Derek’s cheeks flush in response, but he steps aside to let Stiles inside. “So, uh, I thought you might need some groceries, because you didn’t sound super prepared. And, I mean, I know I’m not that good at the whole providing thing – I tried with books and stuff, but – ”

“Providing?” Derek repeats, blinking at Stiles, who ducks his head a little, embarrassed.

“It’s what alphas do, right? To show interest?” he mutters, holding up the grocery bags. “And I know old police records aren’t really that romantic, but – ”

Derek backs him up against the door and slots their mouths together before he can say anything else. Stiles freezes up for a moment, clearly surprised, but then he surges back against Derek, kissing him deeply. Derek hears the grocery bags get dropped onto the floor and a moment later Stiles’ hands are on him, one cupping his chin and the upper sliding up under his shirt.

Fuck, you smell so – ” Stiles pants, pulling away for a moment, before leaning back in to bite at Derek’s neck, right under his jaw. Derek’s knees go a little week as he feels Stiles’ teeth scrape against his skin. His underwear is already uncomfortably wet, and if he doesn’t get it off now it’s going to end up a complete mess.

“Shit,” Derek hisses as he feels one of Stiles’ hands slide down the back of his sweatpants and underwear, dexterous fingers feeling at him as he gushes out even more slick.

“Bedroom,” Stiles manages, voice rough. “I need to put some of the groceries in the fridge but then – ”

Derek slots their mouth together again in a short, desperate kiss, but Stiles breaks away all too soon.

“Just a couple of minutes,” Stiles pants, pupils blown wide and dark. “Then I’ll fuck you nice and good, alright?”

“Be quick,” Derek replies, his voice rough.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Stiles says, drawing his hand back out of Derek’s pants and bringing his fingers up to his mouth, sucking the slick off of them. “I will be.”

If Derek wasn’t already in heat, that sure as fuck would have been enough to trigger him.

“Now get going,” Stiles orders, reaching down to grab the groceries again. Derek watches him head over to the kitchen, insides flushing with heat at the thought of a strong, capable alpha in his home, providing for him.

He stumbles into his bedroom and collapses on the bed, already wiggling out of his clothes, practically ripping his shirt off over his head. He probably should feel overly exposed now, but that’s one of the things heat does to you – lowers your inhibitions. He ends up turning over onto all fours, aching to present.

His face burns as he feels a bit of slick drip down his thighs. Kate always said he looked slutty like this, like a little –

“Fuck,” a voice says, breaking Derek from his increasingly unpleasant thoughts. “Fuck, you look – ”

Derek braces himself.

“ – gorgeous,” Stiles breathes, reaching to run his hands over Derek’s thighs and ass, spreading him.

“What?” Derek asks, thrown off guard.

“Fucking beautiful,” Stiles breathes. “Can I – just let me taste a little – ”

Derek lets out a low moan, his head falling forward as he feels Stiles’ tongue press against his hole. He can’t help but grind back against Stiles’ face, somehow becoming even wetter. Stiles moans against him, fingers digging into Derek’s thighs, and pushes his tongue deeper, fucking Derek open with it.

However, with each lick and kiss a familiar ache builds inside Derek. Because as amazing as it is, having Stiles’ mouth on him, it isn’t enough. He needs something bigger, thicker, harder –

“Stiles,” he says, voice strained. “Stiles, I need – ”

“Yeah?” Stiles asks, pulling away for a moment, voice raspy. “What do you need, Derek?”

“More,” is all Derek manages, canting his hips upwards.

“Gotcha,” Stiles replies, and a moment later Derek hears the sound of Stiles undoing his belt a zipper – he hasn’t even undressed yet? – and the tell-tale crinkle of a condom wrapper.

“You ready?” Stiles asks, moving up to press a light kiss against the back of Derek’s neck.

All Derek manages in response is a small nod, but apparently it’s enough for Stiles, because he soon feels a blunt pressure against his hole as Stiles slowly slides inside him.

“You okay?” Stiles asks once he’s finally all the way inside, filling Derek up and making him tremble a little.

“I’m not going to break,” Derek retorts, rolling his hips and grinding back against Stiles who lets out a hissed, “Shit,” hips snapping forward automatically.

“Alright, well you asked for it,” Stiles laughs, nipping at the back of Derek’s neck.

Then, he thrusts, hard and strong. It knocks a breath out of Derek, and he barely has a moment to take it in before Stiles is fucking into him again, his pace fast and firm. He thrusts a few more times before pausing for a moment to nudge Derek’s knees open a little wider and then resuming his pace.

Derek bites his lip and slides down onto his elbows, overwhelmed at how good it feels to have Stiles inside him. He rolls his hips back, trying to match the movement of Stiles’ thrusts, and he groans as Stiles’ thick cock brushes against his prostate, consistent and perfect.

“Feel good?” Stiles pants against his neck.

“Fuck, Stiles,” is all Derek’s able to manage, but he can feel Stiles grinning against his skin.

“That good, huh?” Stiles asks, all cocky and self-confident. “God, you feel amazing, though. Wish I could fuck you for hours.”

“And here I was hoping you’d make it through the three days of my heat,” Derek pants, earning him a reprimanding bite to the neck.

“Smartass,” Stiles mutters, he reaches around to stroke Derek’s cock, though, and Derek lets out an embarrassingly high pitched keen. “There we go.”

Derek can already feel his orgasm building as Stiles continues to fuck him and play with his cock. Stiles must be getting close, too, though, and Derek can already feel his knot swelling, starting to catch at his rim.

“Can I knot you?” Stiles asks, nuzzling against the back of Derek’s neck. “Fuck, please Derek, let me – ”

Derek’s a little thrown off guard for a moment. He’s never had an alpha actually ask before – normally they just take what they want – and hearing Stiles say it, hearing Stiles ask, makes him want to bare his neck and let Stiles bite, bonding them together.

But it’s too early for that, and instead Derek just says, “Please.”

“Fuck,” Stiles groans and redoubles his efforts, glossing into Derek fast and strong until his knot finally seals them together. He comes with a low groan, Derek’s name on his lips.

Derek whines, suddenly frustrated with the condom keeping him from really feeling Stiles in every way, but he’s soon distracted as Stiles jerks him faster. Between Stiles’ hand and knot, it only takes Derek a few more moments to come, gasping Stiles’ name as he spills across the sheets below him.

“There we go,” Stiles murmurs, pressing soothing kisses to Derek’s shoulders and back, before easing them over onto their sides until he’s spooned up behind Derek.

They’re silent for a moment, basking in the afterglow. Derek feels so full and warm and safe with Stiles behind him, an arm slung over his stomach, pressing them close.

“So,” Stiles finally says, breaking the silence. “What’s the verdict?”

“The verdict?” Derek repeats, still a little dazed.

“Yeah, you know, ten out of ten, would fuck again, or ewww, get away from me now,” Stiles elaborates, and Derek can’t quite suppress a huff of laughter.

“The first one,” he replies.

“Oh, thank god,” Stiles says. “Because I’ve never done this before. You know, been with an omega in heat.”

“Well then you certainly have beginner’s luck,” Derek replies, rocking back on Stiles’ knot, smug when it earns him a strangled moan. “You were very… thorough.”

“Let’s hope I can keep my stamina up over the next few days, then,” Stiles says. “Which means we should probably grab a quick nap now before round two.”

Derek grunts his agreement and lets his eyes slide shut. It doesn’t take him long to drift off, pressed securely up against Stiles’ chest.

---

After these few days, Derek doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to spend a heat alone again. Stiles alternates between fucking him, feeding him, and arguing with him about Star Wars, and Derek, well. If he wasn’t already head over heels, he certainly would be now.

(Stiles even hand feeds him strawberries at one point. Somewhere, Erica probably feels suddenly, inexplicably smug.)

Derek can honestly say it’s the best heat he’s ever had. In fact, after being thoroughly fucked in almost every position imaginable, he’s almost disappointed to wake up at noon on the third day to find his hormones settled and the itchy, tight feeling under his skin gone.

“Morning,” Stiles says, and Derek turns to look at him, eyes half closed and hair even messier than usual (sex hair, from all of the times Derek’s fisted his hands in it), skin dappled with the sunlight streaming in through the apartment windows.

Derek doesn’t even really think about, just leans in to kiss Stiles, slow and lazy.

“I think my heat’s broken,” he says when they finally pull apart. He feels suddenly vulnerable as he admits it, because this is new territory, isn’t it? When Stiles came over, it was with the promise of a heat, of getting Derek through a few days of desperation.

They never really agreed to more.

“I fucked it out of you, then?” Stiles asks, a smug smile spreading across his lips.

Derek glares at him.

“Alright, well, we should probably shower,” Stiles continues, pushing himself into a sitting position and stretching, muscles rippling in a way Derek still doesn’t find any less distracting than before Stiles fucked him six ways to Sunday. “There’s this place not too far from here, Sunny Side Up? It has a great brunch menu.”

“Sounds great,” Derek says with a soft smile.

“Normally I would suggest conserving water,” Stiles continues as he stands up and starts heading towards the shower, “but I’m pretty sure my dick’s gonna fall off if I don’t take it easy for at least a few more hours.”

“Don’t worry,” Derek snorts. “I know the feeling.”

“Great!” Stiles says with a grin. “We’re already respecting boundaries in our relationship.”

Derek’s entire body feels warm and tingly when Stiles says “relationship” and his smile turns into a full-fledged grin.

Relationship, indeed.

---

“You know,” Stiles says after swallowing a mouthful of waffle. “When you stopped coming to the library for a few days, I totally thought I’d scared you off.”

“Scared me off?” Derek asks, frowning, his brow furrowing.

“I thought you’d figured out about my huge pathetic crush on you and freaked out,” Stiles answers, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. “I mean, it’s not like I was subtle or something.”

“You weren’t subtle?” Derek repeats, deadpan. “I thought you were only attracted to alphas until I saw you flirting with Heather.”

Flirting?” Stiles sputters, his cheeks going pink. “I wasn’t flirting with her!”

Derek gives him an unimpressed look.

“Dude, she’s very happily mated to another omega, Danielle,” Stiles elaborates. “In fact, she only found out she was gay as fuck when she tried kissing me at her sixteenth birthday party. It was a complete disaster.”

“Oh,” Derek says awkwardly. “But she said there was, uh, something you were after.”

Stiles blinks at him for a moment, confused, before he bursts out laughing.

“Oh my god, no, that’s – ” Stiles replies, trying to stifle his laughter and catch his breath. “That’s – she and Danielle have a couple of signed volumes of poetry by Audre Lorde. I’ve been trying to get them to donate the books to the archive for years, but Heather’s be wary of parting with them – which I get! But sometimes I have, like, nightmares about their house flooding and the books being destroyed or something.”

“You’re such a nerd,” Derek says with a smirk, earning him an offended, “Hey!” from Stiles and a kick to the shin under the table.

“Seriously, though, I can’t believe you were jealous of Heather,” Stiles huffs.

“Well, she and I… we’re not exactly similar,” Derek admits, staring down at the eggs on his plate. Stiles stares at him for a moment, clearly confused, before Derek sees realization dawn on his face.

“Dude, no, that’s – do you have any idea how handsome you are?” Stiles asks, reaching over the table to take Derek’s hand in his. “I swear, the first time I saw you I was pretty sure you were, like, a Calvin Klein model who’d gotten lost or something.”

Derek isn’t quite sure what to say to that, so he just squeezes Stiles’ hand in gratitude. Stiles seems to interpret it correctly, because he smiles softly.

“Alright, how about a toast?” Stiles says suddenly, raising his coffee mug.

“To what?” Derek asks, frowning.

“To my hot new boyfriend,” Stiles says, and winks.

“I think I can toast to that,” Derek answers.

Stiles’ answering smile is definitely worth it.