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I'll Wait Up For You, Dear

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After a solid twenty hours inside his apartment, driving on the busy streets after last call has Derek’s senses on overdrive. He’s always surprised by the number of people around in the wee hours of a random Wednesday night/Thursday morning, but it is the city after all. Everyone’s got somewhere to be, someone to see, steam to blow off.

He takes a left as the lights change, moving in the direction of the pickup location. The storefronts morph from traditionally painted and floodlit to sleek and colorful, and the average age drops by half a decade: The club district.

Derek never was the clubbing type. He picked up some bartending work when he needed extra cash, even door security here and there after he bulked up for it, but the chaos of the music and lights and close proximity to sweaty, intoxicated strangers never seemed all that appealing. How was that a good time? Give him a quiet pub any night of the week.

He slows to a crawl, mindful of drunk kids and other cars. The streets are crowded now that the clubs have let out; there are still clusters migrating slowly and drunkenly in the direction of the subway or the parked taxis, yelling and laughing with continued euphoria of a night spent partying. He sighs heavily through his nose when he has to brake hard at one point, narrowly avoiding a group that appear to be doing a synchronized dance, regardless of the fact it’s in the line of actual fucking traffic.

Derek glances at the screen of his phone, the little map indicating that his customer is waiting down one of the smaller side streets tucked between the buildings.

Erica had been the one to suggest he sign up for the service. His license was clean and the Camaro was new enough to fit within the company’s strict guidelines. Who was he to turn down a little extra cash? His tech support job meant he kept nocturnal hours anyway - there was a running joke among his friends that he’d audibly crackle if he stepped out in direct sunlight - so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice. Honestly, he kind of likes it. Driving has always been something he took pleasure in, and despite popular opinion, he isn’t a complete recluse. He enjoys meeting new people for short sections of time, getting a window into their life and where they’re going, where they’ve been. He might start a blog.

His phone lets him know he’s reached the destination, and Derek stops, scanning the area for someone called “Stiles”. He’s not exactly sure who he’s supposed to be looking for, but when a door on the side of one of the building opens and a small group come out, he guesses he must have the right spot. There’s a young girl, all red hair and pout, and a couple of guys in tight black t-shirts talking loudly to each other, like they’re not yet used to the volume outside the club yet - but it’s the last person who has Derek doing a double take. He forces his eyes away before he’s caught staring, but can’t help but look back.

The guy can’t be any older than twenty-one, just about legal enough to work somewhere that serves alcohol. He’s not wearing a lot: skin-tight black pants slung low on his hips, a bow-tie and a button-down vest, a bowler hat with a little tuft of dark hair peeking out the front, and... not much else. He’s shirtless under the vest, his toned arms, collarbones, and a small patch of chest hair on display. When he takes a glance at his phone and over-dramatically flips his hat off to his friends in goodbye, Derek realizes he’s got thick, false lashes fixed around his eyes. He’s incredibly striking, like, in a you’re-so-beautiful-I-may-injure-myself way.

And he’s headed right for the Camaro.

Derek stiffens a little in his seat, remembering what he’s doing here - not to sit ogling young men in the dark of night - and rolls down the window when the guy crouches by the passenger side door.

“Uber?” he says by way of greeting, the genial smile on his face faltering slightly when he gets a look at Derek. Laura always says he’s got resting bitch face, which said a lot, coming from her. Shit.

“Uh, yeah,” Derek croaks, throwing in a nod like an actual functional person. He can see right down this guy’s vest; to the little groupings of moles dotted here and there on the pale skin. Most distracting, though, is the body glitter dusted over the hollow of his throat and his clavicle, and Derek now knows that he’s got some piece of looping script tattooed right above one of his little pink nipples. He didn’t think that was one of his kinks, but the way his mouth goes dry when he notices it tells another story.

“Awesome,” the guy enthuses. “It’s usually a nightmare trying to get a cab this late.” He opens the back door and tumbles in, all limbs and chaos and infectious energy. The tenor of his voice adds maturity to him that his looks don't, and Derek watches him in the rear view mirror for a spell, realizing belatedly that he’s just idling there in park, when it’s almost dawn and this guy has somewhere to be. Derek’s muscles eventually to have to be forced to face forward. The pull of the desire to turn around and gape seems to be a strong one, but, you know... manners.

The purr of the engine fills the silence for the most part. In the back, the guy - Stiles - is lit up by the screen of his phone as he fires off text messages, interrupted here and there with the vibration of an incoming message. More than once Derek can feel eyes on him, and at one point locks gaze in the mirror with him and his engaging baby-deer stare, and they both shyly look away.

“Just finished your shift?” Derek asks, stupidly, when it happens again. He’s pretty sure he just picked him up at the staff entrance, but it doesn’t seem like his fare wants to be left alone if the curve of his parted lips and the way he keeps drawing breath - as if to speak - is any indication.

“Yeah. My feet are killing, dude,” Stiles sighs ruefully, pulling his hat off to ruffle at his hair. A little sprinkle of glitter falls out, resting over his shoulders and chest and mixing with the sparkles that already cling to his skin, and for some reason, that’s incredibly endearing. The kid has freakin’ fairy dandruff and Derek is all over it, fuck his life.

Derek nods sympathetically as if he can relate, but he supposes that if he tries, he can remember how tiring it was when he didn’t have to sit at his desk all the time.

“Rough one?”

“At least I didn’t have heels on tonight. Who knew shaking my ass for money was so much work?

He shoots Derek a lop-sided smile in the mirror as he rolls his neck; Derek has to concentrate not to run a red light. The complaint makes him look at the guy with further curiosity - the clothes, the makeup, the glitter. Is he a go-go dancer or something? The idea of that lithe frame gyrating to thumping music is distracting enough that he’s fighting the urge to close his eyes and savour the mental scene for a loaded moment.

“Worked there long?”

"Started in college," Stiles shrugs, glancing out the window at the passing streets. "My friend Danny knew I needed cash and told me I had ‘the look’ as soon as I was legal, which wasn’t creepy at all.” He jerks his eyebrows at nothing, like he’s in the midst of an old argument, and Derek’s mouth twitches uncomfortably. Barely legal? He must have been so young.

“Pays better than an internship, I guess,” Stiles continues, oblivious. “Security’s tighter than most places if people get grabby."

“That’s...good.” Derek has no idea how to talk to this person.

“So how the hell did you--” Stiles starts, “I mean...most people in your line of work are...but you’re...Are all of your colleagues also, like...?” He trails off like he’d reached a point in the muddle of words, but Derek, lost, just shoots him a look in the rear-view mirror, and he closes his eyes. “Oh, god, don’t do that.”

Derek glances at him again.

“Seriously?” the guy half-groans, “Do you rehearse that? The ultra-suave eyebrow-only statement? It’s--”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Derek frowns, looking at himself in the mirror. He wasn’t doing anything. Suave?

“Of course you don’t,” Stiles mutters.

“Tech support,” Derek offers after an awkward pause, steering the conversation back to a point that he actually understands.

“What now?”

“My real job, I work in tech support for an overseas company. Work nights. This is just on the side.”

Stiles’ face does the thing where he finally checks back into the conversation. “Oh.That makes sense. Well, actually no, but slightly more sense than--” he gestures at Derek like something’s obvious. “I was gonna email your company and suggest you put out a calendar.”

What?

“This is my street!” he exclaims suddenly. He leans forward between the seats to peer out the windshield. He smells good, despite the cling of - what must be - stale liquor to his clothes. Stop sniffing the clients, weirdo. “Dude, anywhere here is good. ThanksI’mStiles!”

He hops out of the car and disappears inside an apartment building, leaving Derek to just scowl after him, the little sprinkle of glitter on the back seat the only confirmation that this entire thing wasn’t a hallucination fuelled by his own sexual frustration or cabin fever.

Maybe he needs to get out more.

__

It’s a couple of weeks before he sees Stiles again. This time, he’s almost at the club before he realizes he actually knows the pickup location, and the customer.

Stiles is waiting alone this time, and Derek would have driven past him if not for the fact he has at some point, in the time since he first met Stiles, started doing double-takes at every lean, bow-lipped, pale-skinned guy in his early twenties he happens to pass.

Alright, he wasn’t aware he was doing it until now, when he recognizes the kid despite the fact he’s wearing a cowboy hat and fucking chaps.

‘Kid’ is not the word to use here.

“Is that sanitary,” Derek blurts flatly, eyeing the pants as Stiles tips his hat up with one finger and beams. It’s a good thing the lighting isn’t better, or Derek would totally be giving away the fact he just melted like a cheap candle.

“It’s you!” Stiles says, before immediately scowling. “What? They’re not ass-less.” He twists enough to reveal that he’s telling the truth - and that he’s got the most pert little butt Derek has ever laid eyes on - before rubbing at his nose in a nervous gesture. “You’re my ride?”

“Looks like it.”

Instead of tumbling into the back like last time, Stiles instead halts for a second and chooses to slide in next to Derek, leather of his get-up creaking as he does. Once again, he’s not wearing a shirt under his suede vest and cowboy scarf, and is the closest thing to a real-life porn cliche without someone getting arrested.

“Get lost on the way back to the ranch?” Derek grunts, watching the oncoming traffic for a space to pull out. It's safer than staring at the gap in the chaps where he can see the skin of Stiles’ inner-thigh, and imagining how many other people stared at that same spot covetously. He might want to do something completely inappropriate, like tear away the rest of the pithy fabric with his teeth.

“Oh, original,” Stiles retorts with raised eyebrows. “That makes me laugh as much as ‘lookin’ for a partner, partner?’ Look, it's a hazard of the profession.’ Derek gives him a side-long glance and Stiles turns fully to regard him. “Have you never been to Chasers?”

Derek frowns. “Uh, doesn’t really seem like my kind of thing.”

“Let me guess, you’re more of a craft beer and modern folk guy,” Stiles snorts, eyeing Derek’s plaid shirt for longer than is maybe necessary. He looks away, clearing his throat. “We do theme nights on Wednesdays - anyone in fancy dress doesn’t have to pay cover and gets a free shot. Last week was a pajama party. That was probably our most low-key.”

“And you have to dress up because of your...” he gestures vaguely, “...line of work”

“It’s kinda fun. My dad was totally wrong when he said I’d never have a reason to wear these cowboy boots again.”

Derek smirks out the windshield despite himself, pulling up to a red light. “I think most people would want to change before they go home.”

“Maybe,” Stiles grunts. “If it wasn’t ass o’clock in the morning when I’m done. Besides, the staff showers are rank. You don’t wanna know.” He faces front again. “So how’s the tech support business?”

Derek shrugs, pausing enough to note that Stiles remembered his job.

“Your passion is infectious, honestly.”

“It’s live-chatting online with strangers. It’s not exactly the secret service.”

“Oh! Spies and Secret Agents. That could be a theme.”

Derek glances over wryly. “You get to come up with ideas?”

“Lydia does, she's the PR master. I think she’s eventually gonna pick one of mine though. Any requests?”

Derek tries really hard not to interpret that as “I’ll be wearing whatever you want me to” and fails. It’s the chaps.

“I’ll let you know,” he swallows.

___

It’s not that it becomes a routine, but Derek never goes more than a couple of weeks after that without picking up Stiles.

Not picking up, like... Giving him a ride. No. Taking him home? Dammit, there has to be a way of saying it without making it sound like what Derek wished it was.

And oh, he wished. Also, maybe he made sure he was around to take a fare at the same time each week. To be reliable, of course. He'd never forgive himself if Stiles got stranded without a ride at 3am, the way he looks.

Derek finally admits he has a problem the fourth time when the guy is waiting for him wearing silver booty shorts, a pair of sparkly wings, and some body paint.

(That’s it.)

“What.”

“Fantasy Fairytale Night, dude!” Stiles exclaims, making his little wings quiver. There’s a glittery band securing them around each surprisingly muscular shoulder, and his nipple-tatt says Claudia. Derek needs an adult.

“Aren’t you cold?”

“Kinda?” Stiles admits sheepishly. “Wasn’t in there. Are you gonna make me stand out here all night?” He turns his big Disney eyes up to max and Derek just can’t stop staring, but does manage to unlock the door.

“What are you even supposed to be?”

“A forest sprite. Or a fairy. I didn’t really have a specific idea, but I had these-” he points to the pair of fake pointy ears he’s got on, “from Lord of the Rings Night.”

“Very authentic,” Derek drawls. “And where does one even acquire men’s hotpants?”

“Who said they were men’s?” Stiles asks, plonking down on the seat and rearranging his wings. “All this stuff is from the club - we just have to get it dry cleaned before taking it back.”

His moles extend to all the places Derek can see, and he turns up the radio like it’ll somehow mask his growing inappropriate arousal. Stiles shimmies around with a noise of discomfort, and for his own sanity, Derek tosses the jacket sitting in the back seat at his lap. It doesn’t help much.

“Thanks. Gah, my junk kinda hates me right now,” Stiles complains, adjusting himself underneath the fabric.

And I hate everything, Derek thinks.

___

The procession of outfits gets more and more creative. Greek Night. Pirates. Doctors and Nurses. Cops and Robbers (Stiles’ police uniform looks suspiciously authentic, if buttoned kinda lewdly). Divas (driving around the guy he has a crush on when he’s dressed in full Cher drag, miming along with Believe has to be the most interesting twenty minutes of Derek’s life).

He starts getting a thrum of anticipation each time he pulls up to the alley, curious as to what he’ll find. There’s still the underlying guilt, though. Stiles gets objectified all the damn time at his job -  he’s vented the horror stories of ass-grabs and worse - he doesn’t need a random driver doing the same to him when Derek's car should be his safe space.

Derek takes to keeping a spare pair of sweats in the back as the weather gets colder, and his most comfortable hoodie for the completely shirtless times - it’s only decent. Well, he felt like he didn't really have a choice after Stiles tugged off his fishnets and tossed them out the window on Rocky Horror Night. And then there was the fifteen minutes of torture when Stiles snagged his lip balm out of the glove compartment to apply to his nipples after Oktoberfest-related lederhosen chafing. His mom raised him right, and it makes him feel slightly better about all the indecent pining.

Really, he should be finding a priest to confess to, except he's not sure he'd be believed.

So yeah, Derek tries to be professional and accommodating and tries not to draw too much attention to how Stiles looks like the ‘slutty’ section of a Halloween costumes website, even if he's so painfully into it that it’s all he can think about most of the time. He draws the line, though, at clown make-up.

“Take it off.”

Stiles blanches, the over-exaggerated red grimace pulling into a straight line.

“If I had a buck...” he mutters, before crossing his arms. “I don’t have anything else to wear.”

“Not--” Derek flushes, pained. “The face paint. I’m--I don’t like...”

“You’re scared of clowns?”

“Have you never seen I.T.?

“Dude, it’s just me. God, you’re a cliché.”

Derek grinds his teeth. “Off, or I’m going.”

Stiles manages to slump with his entire body - suspendered pants et al - and disappears back inside for a minute. When he returns, his face is pink and there’s smudged paint still on the line of his jaw, but he’s no longer absolutely terrifying.

"Happy?" he asks through the open window.

"Ecstatic," Derek drawls, unlocking the door.

“I can’t believe you’re scared of clowns,” Stiles snorts, taking up his usual spot in the passenger seat.

“It’s a recognized fear," he defends, clenching his jaw. "And it's not that I'm scared.

Stiles sends him a disbelieving look.

“Aren’t you supposed to be...sexy, or whatever?”

“Some people have a clown kink. Who are you to judge?” Stiles shrugs, but tilts his head before he fully relaxes into the seat. “Wait, so you think my costumes are sexy?

“Star Wars,” Derek blurts, panicking.

“Huh?”

“You should do a Star Wars theme night.”

Stiles’ eyes go wide like the mysteries of the universe have finally slotted into place.

Dude,” he breathes.

___

Stiles is oddly quiet the next week. Derek wonders if he’s finally picked up on his crush, and tries to make neutral conversation and strictly not mention the black catsuit and full KISS face paint he’s still got on. He fails.

“Lose your wig?”

Stiles stops jiggling his knee long enough to scoff, but continues to fidget with the sleeve of Derek’s jacket.

“Got itchy,” he explains. “Hey, you doing anything next Wednesday?”

Derek unconsciously steps on the gas at the random meander of conversation, but saves the both of them from near death in time to make the turn on to Stiles' street. That could have been embarrassing. Sorry, Officer, I drove straight into oncoming traffic because it sounded like the beautiful man was going to ask me out. Erica and Laura would keel over.

"Um, same as always," he manages, making himself sound yet more boring than Stiles probably suspects he is, for fuck sake. "How come?"

There’s a little shuffling around in response, and then from somewhere Derek would really rather not know, Stiles produces a folded up piece of paper. The car rolls to a stop and Derek takes the offering, unfolding it with a frown.

“It’s a flier for next week’s theme,” Stiles explains as he unbuckles his seatbelt. “You should come! It’s to coincide with the release! If you want to come... You probably don’t want to come.”

Derek stares down at the Star Wars font and the list of drinks promotions dumbly. Is Stiles inviting him as a date? Does going to a club even count as a date? Should he really be thinking this hard?

“I’ll be there. If that makes a difference. I have to work, but...”

Oh god, Stiles will be working. As in, he’s going to be dancing. In front of him. Fuck.

“Sure. I’d love to,” he lies. Okay, so he wouldn’t love to, but he’s got a feeling he’d witness a live autopsy if Stiles was the one inviting him, low-level anxiety notwithstanding. The chance to see the guy for longer than a three-block car trip is cancelling out his dislike of loud music and butt-grinding...

With strangers. Stiles can grind his butt wherever he wants. Derek would actively encourage him because he’s a evidently terrible, terrible person.

(Who has been morally compromised by a grad student in spandex.)

“Yeah?” Stiles says, eyes all wide and stomach-flipping despite the creepy face paint.

“Uh, sure.”

"Awesome," he breathes, fumbling for the door. "You have to dress up, though. Otherwise I revoke the invitation."

Derek swallows "Fine, I'll come, and I'll, uh, I’ll dress up. Happy?"

Stiles turns with an impish grin before he closes the door. "Ecstatic. Wait, you have my number, right?"

Derek glances at his phone, still flashing the customer details. “Right,” he says, and then watches Stiles go all the way inside the apartment building before tilting his head into the headrest.

--

He doesn’t go.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to - he really, really wants to, if he’s honest with himself - but when the time comes to actually leave, Derek thinks back to Stiles telling him that he’ll be working tonight. He thinks about Stiles complaining about the creeps playing grab-ass, thinks of how he gets a wave of nausea every time he imagines Stiles up on stage or wherever it is he does his thing with all those eyes on him as he moves his body, and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to keep that ugly, jealous pallor off his face.

Derek likes privacy; he likes long, lazy sunday mornings and quiet corners of cafes. He likes whispered I-love-yous and dark movie theaters. He wants Stiles, but he wants Stiles to himself - and if Stiles sees how selfish he can be at the mere hint of someone interfering with that, then it’ll all be over before it begins.

He doesn’t want Stiles’ lasting impression of him to be a bad one.

__

Stiles just sends a sad-face emoji in response to being shot down. Maybe he wasn’t that into it anyway? It’s not like he can be short of offers, right?

__

It’s all Erica’s fault, really. Alright, well, he can’t exactly blame her. She just sounded so sad when she called last minute. Her ex, Boyd, was apparently bringing some ‘new skank’ to their office Holiday party, and Derek, being her stock Dating Age Male whom she hadn’t ever dated, was called upon to escort. He didn’t really mind, except Boyd had showed up skankless, and this was after Erica had insisted on wine followed by shots, so now they’re in the club district, and Erica and Boyd are having an entire conversation that consists of whispering into each others’ necks, and why does this place look familiar?

Oh, right. Stiles.

Derek’s standing in line, frowning up at the sign outside Chasers before he’s really all that aware what’s happening, He’s just sober enough to acknowledge that he’d never have the courage to go in there sober, yet just tipsy enough not to care.

Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody is pounding through the front entrance every time the doorman opens it, and several of Boyd and Erica’s colleagues are crowing along. Somehow Derek acquired felt antlers. It’s a whole thing.

“Erica,” he says, batting at her, “The beauti--Stiles works here. Erica. Erica.”

She extricates herself enough from Boyd to throw him a delighted grin. “The stripper?”

“They have strippers here now?” Boyd asks dubiously. His button-down is covered in candy canes, yet he still manages not to look dorky, somehow.

“I’m buying you a dance!” Erica decides gleefully, and Derek’s brain shuts down for a minute. His mouth wants to say yes, but his hands are already twitching as if trying not to reach out and touch the phantom-Stiles gyrating in front of him. Maybe Derek could deal with it. Maybe if he got to keep Stiles, at least some of the time, he could accept that sometimes other people get to fantasize about him too?

Maybe he needs more shots? No, Stiles may not even be working right now. Shots won’t help either way.

“Shots?” Erica asks once they get inside, and Derek swallows, then nods.

He spends some time - after Boyd and Erica resume plotting the inside of each other’s mouths with their tongues - skirting around the dance floor, dodging out of the way of the crowd going absolutely freaking nuts for Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, and trying not to look at any of the podium dancers too closely. They’re wearing Santa Hats in strategic places, and Derek has no hope of getting presents this year if he catches sight of Stiles in that.

“Derek!” Erica calls as she gets a hold on his arm. “Bad news, can’t buy dances here.” He’s not exactly sure if he’s relieved with the information until she continues, “The shot boy told me,” and spins around a very familiar set of shoulders in a barely-there elf costume, and Derek needs another drink because his mouth is now completely dry.

“Stiles,” he breathes, registering the parade of surprise, then guarded curiosity, bloom over the guy’s face. Green glitter makes his eyes look fucking ethereal, and Derek instantly hates himself for ever cancelling on him.

“Derek?” Stiles’ mouth shapes, straining over the music with a little crinkle between his brows, “thought this wasn’t your scene?”

“Erica,” he yells back, pointing at her in explanation, her attention back on pouring liquor into Boyd’s mouth. Stiles doesn’t really look like he understands, but there’s a bulge in his tights that has Derek reaching for the shots left on the little plastic tray, and... the rest is a blur.

__

Derek knows it’s bad when the scent of his sweet mistress, Coffee, makes him bury his nose further into his pillow. His stomach churns with a burning sensation he knows can’t be healthy considering the night he had.

“What w’zzin those shots?” he croaks to the movement in the room, scrunching his face against the influx of light. His mouth officially tastes like burned carpet, and he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to lift his head again.

“That’s a state secret,” a voice which is definitely not Erica replies. Derek lifts his head, instantly regretting it, to catch the sight of Stiles standing in a pair of his own sweatpants and a worn tee, holding the aforementioned coffee.

Oh shit oh shit. Images start flooding his brain of the later hours of the night before.

‘These are my favorite sweats and you should have them because you’re my favorite..’

“‘tiles?” he manages dubiously.

“Morning sunshine. Feel like going for  a run?”

Derek groans, hoping if he keeps his eyes shut some more, a magic, non-humiliating explanation for this whole thing will materialize.

He doesn’t remember much after the shots, but at least Stiles is smiling.

“Where’s Erica?”

“She left you in my care to go have, what did she call it? ‘Athletic make-up bangs’ with that guy Boyd. She got us safely to your apartment and then bailed.”

“‘M so sorry.”

“If you weren’t such a cute drunk I may have been pissed about it.” There’s a shift of movement on the couch, and then Stiles is sitting on the edge. “But you really did make me believe you wanted to make up for cancelling on me with snuggles.”

Derek groans louder, but it’s comforting that he can feel laughter through the cushion.

“I didn’t...?” He cracks an eye open.

“You insisted on taking the couch, dude, chill.” He takes a sip of the coffee thoughtfully. “So what was this about ‘still being into me even though you thought I was a stripper’?”

Derek pulls the blanket over his head. “You can leave now if you want,” he grumbles sheepishly, “I’ll pay for a cab.” This is literally the worst sequence of events that could have happened.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered you think I’m hot enough to be a stripper, but... what?” There’s a little tug on the blanket, and when it falls away Derek can see traces of green glitter still gathering in the unshaven parts of Stiles’ grinning face, and if he’s not still wearing eyeliner, Derek may as well throw himself out the window right now since nobody’s eyes should be naturally that beautiful.

“Got jealous,” Derek mumbles, making a show of sitting up and rearranging his pillows and determinedly not looking at Stiles. “I’m not great at sharing.”

Stiles’ toes, encased in a pair of Derek’s too-small socks, do an endearing little squirm.

“Yeah?” he croaks, “Well, it seems like you came to some conclusions last night...”

“I wouldn’ care if you danced nak’d for money, I’ll accept y’h.”

“I’m so sorry I made an ass of myself,” he says pathetically, finally steeling himself to look back up. Stiles, contrary to expectation, just looks exasperated.

“Are you kidding me? Look, I’m not ashamed of my job, but you’ve seen me in some pretty embarrassing situations.” He rubs a spot between his eyebrows. “I seem to remember applying lip balm to places which weren’t my lips in the confines of your car at four in the morning? In my defense, that was a really weird night and I totally lamented to Lydia the next morning how much of an ass I felt but.. God, no wonder you cancelled.”

Derek swallows. “I didn’t mind.”

Stiles, though his cheeks are ruddy, manages a smirk. He looks down at his cup, thoughtful. “So, since it’s my first time seeing you in daylight and all, I wanted to still give you an out. In case my Bauble Bombs somehow corrupted you.” At Derek’s frown, he clarifies. “That’s what I called my shots.”

“You invented those?” Derek’s pretty sure he could taste gasoline.

“It was a long and arduous process,” Stiles retorts loftily, “I rejigged the whole thing after Scott threw up the first batch.” Derek has never met Scott, but he’s pretty sure his stomach just lurched in respectful sympathy. Catching sight of the cautious look on Stiles’ face, he remembers the ‘out’.

“I stand by what I said,” he confesses quietly. “Even if you’re not actually a stripper.”

The beam he gets at that would outdo every single one of Laura’s gaudy Christmas decorations; it’s radiant.

“Cool,” Stiles says, downplaying the excitement his bouncing knee betrays. He holds up another cup of coffee from the table opposite. “Then you should drink this, because I have a tried-and-tested Stilinski hangover cure that I’m willing to share with you, out of the kindness of my heart.”

__

As Derek breathes in the crispness of the air at the outdoor ice rink, and watches Stiles’ surprised joy when he manages to skate all the way over to meet him without landing on his ass, he feels a whole different turning in his stomach. A lighter, happier one, brought on by the flush of pale cheeks and the realization that out of every ridiculous, revealing, inappropriate outfit he’s ever seen Stiles wear, his favorite is this one right now; wrapped in a scarf Derek’s grandma gave him when he went off to college, and a hat that Cora left in his apartment once last winter; like he’s a part of Derek’s life already, and Derek -  he can’t wait to see him in every season, every month, for as long as he’s allowed.