They’re all freaked out right now, freaked out and panicked and upset, so much so that Stiles almost doesn’t register it when Scott says “It’s Derek. It’s Derek Hale.”
Stiles’s jaw drops open in shock, giving Jackson enough time to say “Derek killed the janitor?”
Allison starts to say something but Stiles barrels right over her. “No. No, no, no, no.” The vehemence in Stiles’s words makes Allison jerk back away from them.
Scott stares at him, giving him that look that says play along. “Derek’s here. His car’s outside.”
Stiles is not playing along. No way. He did not nearly chop off Derek’s arm for this. “No way, Scott. You are not throwing him under the bus.” Images of the murdered bus driver flash through his head and he winces. “Figuratively. Or literally. No bus-throwing.”
“Stiles...” Scott’s looking at him like he’s the crazy one.
“Well if Derek’s not the murderer, why’s he here?” Lydia asks. “Where is he?”
“Out there with that... thing. Probably dead too.” He looks Scott straight in the eyes as he says it, daring Scott to challenge him. Derek could be dead for all they know but Stiles is not letting him die a murder suspect. Not when the real one’s still on the loose. “Derek was here to meet me.”
“I knew he was a drug dealer!” Jackson looks far too delighted.
“What? No!” Stiles licks his lips, trying to think of an excuse, any excuse why he and Derek would be meeting at all, let alone at night in the high school. “He’s... he’s my boyfriend.” Four shocked expressions meet his pronouncement. He bounces slightly on his feet and keeps going with it, trying to make it more believable. Scott is giving him this look of profound disbelief so Stiles starts with him. “Scott doesn’t like him. He disapproves. Thinks Derek’s just toying with me. That’s why he said that about Derek. But Derek’s not a murderer, alright? It’s not him.”
Lydia raises a very judgmental eyebrow. “You meet up with your boyfriend at school?”
Stiles shrugs. “Harris was a dick today. We were gonna do it on his desk.”
Jackson and Lydia both jerk away from the desk they were leaning on like it was covered in spiders. Gross, icky, homosexual spiders.
“So if Derek didn’t kill the janitor, who did?”
Scott pointedly looks to Stiles. “Another mountain lion?” Stiles says.
Lydia rolls her eyes. “Cougars are solitary hunters.”
He hadn’t known that. Curse Lydia’s gorgeous genius brain. “Maybe we killed its mate? It’s out for kitty revenge?”
“This is stupid,” Lydia says. “I’m calling the police.”
Stiles thinks about the bloodbath they’d have on their hands if the police showed up and tried to fight the Alpha. “No, Lydia, hold on a second.” He steps toward her, hand reaching out for the phone she’s already dialing but Jackson steps in the way. Shit. He can hear it ringing.
“Yes,” Lydia says into the phone. “We’re at Beacon Hills High School. We’re trapped, and we need you to-“ Confusion crosses her face. “But-“ Lydia pulls the phone away from her face. “She hung up on me.”
“The police hung up on you?” Allison says.
They argue. Stiles calls his dad and gets his voicemail. They argue more about how to get out of the school. Scott suggests trying to get the key from the janitor. Both Allison and Stiles stand in front of the door and refuse to let him through, both for different reasons. Allison thinks there’s a wild animal out there, and she’s partially right. Stiles knows what’s out there and he’s not letting Scott out of his sight. It’s a whole mess of shouting that only cuts off when they hear the blissful sound of police sirens.
Stiles sits through the lecture of a lifetime when he gets home. His dad is pissed, not as much about the dating a guy thing, which surprises Stiles, but about dating a much older guy and keeping it a secret and trespassing on the school grounds. The cherry on top of the surprise sundae is that the thing that most pisses his dad off is that Derek left him at the school when the mountain lion showed up.
“He was hurt, dad. Like really bad. He probably went to seek much needed medical attention.”
“Not here, he didn’t,” John grumbles, pacing the same tread in the kitchen floor as he had been for the last twenty minutes or so.
Stiles sits up. “What? You checked?”
John gives him a look. “Of course I checked. He’s a potential witness in a murder investigation.” John’s eyes narrow. “Again.”
“Whoa!” Stiles holds up his hands. “He was exonerated last time!”
John halts and points a finger at Stiles. “After you accused him.”
“Falsely! Falsely accused. I apologized. We’re friends now. Bros.”
John rolls his eyes and returns to pacing. “Boyfriends, you mean.” He runs a hand over his face. “Jesus, Stiles.”
“There’s no body this time. Maybe the janitor’s still alive.” He’s not. “No body, no crime.”
John shoots him a pointed glance. “You know better.”
Stiles is just about to argue the point when someone knocks at the door. Stiles’s mouth snaps shut and he frowns. Who the hell’s visiting this late at night? One of his dad’s deputies? He starts to rise, eager to snoop on the case, but his dad points at him again and says “Sit.” Stiles sinks back in his chair. He tilts his head back to watch his father go to the door. He’s out of his chair as soon as he sees who’s on the other side.
“Mr. Hale.” There’s ice in his dad’s tone. “You’re looking surprisingly healthy for someone who was attacked by a mountain lion.”
“Sir.” Derek looks just as uncomfortable as Stiles feels. He’s changed shirts so there’s no awkward bloodstains as proof, which is probably good considering his injuries have likely healed over by now. There’s no way either of them can explain that.
Stiles slides to a halt next to his dad and tries to wiggle through the doorway so he can have a word with Derek in private, but his dad yanks him back by the collar. “Why don’t you come inside?” John says. “Both of you.” He shoves Stiles back toward the kitchen and Stiles sullenly marches back to his seat.
Derek takes the chair between Stiles and his father. A wise move.
“Where were you earlier this evening?” John asks.
Derek looks at Stiles and it’s not quite a glare but it could be. If Stiles’s dad wasn’t standing there, it probably would be. “I think you know that, sir.”
“Funny. We couldn’t find you when we searched the building.”
Derek jerks his gaze back to John. “I got lost in the woods.” That statement looks like it physically hurts Derek to say it. “When I found my way back, everyone was gone.”
John looks expectant. “And you’re here...?”
Derek flicks his eyes toward Stiles. “To make sure Stiles and his friends are okay.” Derek turns back to John with something just shy of a challenge in his eyes. “I assumed you wanted to speak to me as well since you had my car towed here.”
“What?” Stiles bolts upright. He stares at his dad, incredulous. “You did what?”
John doesn’t even look ashamed. Stiles is aghast. John shrugs. “I would have had it towed back to wherever you were staying, but you’re not checked in to any of the hotels here and the only property your family owns is condemned. So, tell me, Derek, where are you staying?”
“Jesus, dad, did you run a background check on him too?” John doesn’t flinch but there’s something in his eyes that gives him away. “Christ, you did, didn’t you?” Stiles turns away and throws his arms up. It’s his turn to start pacing. “Are you going to do this with every person I show an interest in?”
John frowns at him. “I think this qualifies as more than just ‘interest’, Stiles.”
Stiles turns and glares at his dad. He almost forgets that he’s not really dating Derek, that this is all a ruse to keep Derek out of trouble. He’s surprised his dad even believes it at all. In what universe does someone like Stiles land someone as hot like burning as Derek? Not this one. “I’ve known him less than a month. It’s still in the interest phase.” Stiles risks a glance at Derek and finds Derek leaning back in his chair, watching the two of them and obviously trying to hide his amusement. Stiles wants to stick his tongue out. This is all Derek’s fault. Well, technically, it’s Stiles’s, but it was on Derek’s behalf.
“Is that it? So you’re meeting up late at the night at the high school just based on interest?”
Stiles flushes. He has exactly zero experience dating anyone. He can’t think of anything innocent they’d be doing at the school. Thinking about what they might be doing at the school just leads to uncomfortable places. Sexy, uncomfortable places. “Yes,” he says, but it comes out so weak he doesn’t even believe himself. He throws himself back in his chair and sulks.
John turns his attention back to Derek, who straightens. “You never did say where you were staying.”
Derek actually looks embarrassed for a moment. He hesitates. John clears his throat. Derek sighs and says “At my house.”
John raises an eyebrow. “Your burnt out, condemned house?”
Derek looks away and nods.
“Well that certainly won’t do. We have a guest room. You can use that.”
Both Derek and Stiles turn wide eyes on John. “What?” Stiles’s jaw nearly hits the floor. He can’t stop gaping.
“I will not have my son dating a homeless delinquent. At least here I can keep an eye on you.” John narrows his eyes at Stiles. “Both of you.”
Stiles puts on his most innocent face. “What? Me? I haven’t done anything.”
John waves a hand at Derek as if he’s exhibit A. Derek still looks like he’s been gutted by John’s offer.
Stiles reaches over and pats Derek’s hand. “At least we have heat and running water?” Derek stares at him like he’s lost his mind. Stiles is actually glad his dad offered because it saves him the trouble of campaigning to have his ‘boyfriend’ move in with him. How in the world can Derek stand living in the place where his whole family died? That just won’t do. “No holes in the roof either, so you can stay dry when it rains.”
Derek’s expression shifts. He pulls his hand away. “I... I can’t. It’s too dangerous.”
John looks skeptical. “I think you’ll find the house of the county sheriff to be one of the safest there is.”
Derek just looks at Stiles and Stiles gets it. Hunters. Alphas. The whole murder mess that’s going on. Derek hasn’t checked into a hotel or anywhere else because he doesn’t want collateral damage when someone comes after him. Stiles is already collateral damage, but his dad isn’t, doesn’t have to be. Stiles can also see how much Derek wants it – wants to belong, to fit in somewhere. His family is gone. Stiles can maybe offer him something like one.
Stiles turns back to his dad and squares his shoulders. “So, werewolves.” Derek chokes on air. John frowns.
“Stiles, now is not the time-“
Stiles turns to Derek. Their eyes meet and it’s like a full conversation – argument, really – flies between them in that one glance. “Show him,” Stiles says.
Derek does. John takes a seat at the table. He demands to know everything. They tell him everything, including that they’re not really dating. A look of relief passes over John’s face so fast Stiles almost misses it. For some reason, that hurts, but Derek gets to stay. John is even more insistent of it now.
Stiles only hopes they’re not making a huge mistake.
Stiles lays listlessly on Derek’s bed and idly watches as Derek pulls on his shirt. It should be weird hanging out in Derek’s room, on Derek’s bed, but it’s not. They’ve gotten close in the last few weeks. Killing someone together does that. Peter’s dead – by bullet and claw – and Kate’s dead by Peter’s hand. The Hale House Arson has been solved, though that hasn’t brought Derek the closure that Stiles had hoped.
“You sure I can’t come with you?” Stiles asks for the third time. John had called and asked Derek to look into something going on at the graveyard.
Derek rolls his eyes. Stiles can’t see it, but he can feel it. In his soul, or something lame like that. “No, Stiles. Your father would kill me and he has the wolfsbane bullets to do it.”
Stiles pouts. It is entirely ineffective since Derek isn’t even looking at him. “What if I just happened to follow you?”
Derek finally turns to look at him. “I will tie you to a chair if I have to.”
“Kinky.” Stiles grins. Derek just shakes his head and walks out of the room. Stiles jumps off the bed to follow him. “Come on,” he whines.
“No. Go hang out with your friends. Be a kid for one night.”
“What friends?” The bitterness he feels must carry through because Derek actually stops on the stairs and turns to look at him. Stiles sighs and ticks off his fingers. “Lydia – hospital, doesn’t really like me. Scott – hates me because you killed Peter. Allison – avoiding me because Scott’s avoiding me.” He drops his hand. “And that’s it. We’ve come to the end of the list. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not exactly Mr. Popular.”
Derek looks conflicted for a second before turning away and continuing down the stairs. “What about the gay one?”
Stiles scoffs. “The gay one? Really Derek? Stereotype much? His name’s Danny and we’re not friends. Besides, he’s besties with Jackson, who also hates me right now, thank you very much.” Derek bends over to pull his shoes on. “No, really. Thank you. Biting Jackson would have been the mistake of the century. I’m proud of you for not doing it.”
Derek mumbles something that Stiles can’t catch.
Stiles steps closer, curious. “What?”
Derek sighs as he straightens. “He wouldn’t have gotten along with you, so he can’t be pack.”
Stiles blinks. A strange but familiar emotion twists inside of him and he clamps down on it, hard, before Derek can smell it. “Oh.”
“I have to...” Derek waves towards the door.
“Yeah.” Stiles doesn’t offer any further protest. “Be careful. Come home safe.”
A small not-quite-smile crosses Derek’s face, like it does every time Stiles says those same words. Being in the Stilinski house had been good for Derek, like an almost family. Stiles doesn’t want to ruin it.
Derek leaves without another word and Stiles flops on the couch. He clicks the TV on and flips aimlessly through the channels until he finds a documentary that seems at least half interesting to watch. He’s half asleep when the front door opens. He mumbles a hello to Derek and wonders if he can get Derek to carry him up to bed. He doesn’t want to move.
“Can I get you anything?” Derek asks.
“Sleepy,” Stiles mumbles into the couch cushions.
“No thanks,” another voice says.
Stiles bolts upright and stares at Isaac Lahey. Isaac, who Derek has obviously brought into their house. “Um, hi.”
Isaac shifts in place. He looks nervous and uncomfortable, which is a somewhat standard Isaac expression.
“You two know each other?” Derek asks. He looks at Isaac. “Take a seat.”
“Lacrosse,” Isaac and Stiles say at the same time. Stiles smiles, trying to look welcoming. If Derek brought Isaac here, there has to be a reason. Stiles has nothing against Isaac. He’s never really talked to the guy but Isaac has always seemed nice enough, if distant.
Isaac sits hesitantly on the armchair next to Stiles. Derek drops onto the other end of the couch. A slew of questions fill his mouth, waiting to be released, but before he can talk, the door opens again and his dad walks in.
Stiles frowns. “Aren’t you still on shift?”
“Witness interview,” John says. He takes a seat in his usual armchair, positioning himself across the coffee table from Isaac. “Go ahead, Isaac. Tell us what you saw.”
Isaac glances at Stiles, obviously confused why Stiles is allowed in on this. Derek and John have learned that trying to hide things from Stiles never ends well. “Um, I didn’t see much. There was a man... in the graveyard.”
“What was he doing there?” John asks.
Isaac looks to Derek. “I don’t... I mean, I didn’t see, but it looked like he was... eating? Maybe?”
Stiles tilts his head. “Eating what?” There’s not exactly much good meat in the graveyard, which Stiles presumes is what something supernatural would be going after.
“Liver, mostly,” Derek says. “I think some entrails. A medical examiner would know.”
Stiles frowns. “From what?”
Isaac licks his lips. “The guy we buried yesterday.”
Stiles gags. “Eww. Gross.”
“It was an omega,” Derek says. “A lone wolf.”
“What?” Stiles’s eyes go wide. “Another were-“ He cuts off and shoots a look at Isaac.
“He knows.” There’s something more that Derek’s not saying.
Stiles glances between Derek and Isaac. He can see the resemblance. Isaac has always been a bit of a loner. It makes sense. “You want him for your pack.”
“Our pack,” Derek corrects. He looks to John.
“I’ll need to have a word with Mr. Lahey,” John says and all of a sudden, Isaac goes tense.
“Can we... not?” Isaac asks, small and pitiful.
“They’re not on good terms,” Derek explains. The look on John’s face says that they’re not finished with that conversation, but he nods anyway. Derek turns to Stiles and it takes Stiles a minute to realize he’s being given a choice. He has a say in this. He looks at Isaac, who’s scared and hopeful at the same time. He can’t say no. He nods and that’s it.
Derek bites Isaac on the side and John bandages it. They let Isaac sleep on the couch while they all disperse to their own beds.
Derek’s pack is growing.
Stiles’s face meets a wall of lockers hard enough that he knows he’s going to have a bruise. He turns and instantly doubles over from a punch to the gut. It’s Jackson, again. Stiles is not surprised. He’s waiting for another hit but then someone’s in front of him.
“Leave him alone,” Isaac says.
Both Stiles and Jackson stare at Isaac in surprise. Jackson’s the first to recover. He shoves Isaac’s chest with a “What are you going to do about it?” Isaac doesn’t even move. Jackson might as well have been shoving a wall. Surprise flies across Jackson’s face, followed by understanding and even more anger. Jackson walks off in a huff and his cronies follow after.
Stiles leans back against the wall. “Thanks.”
“Do you need to go to the nurse?”
Stiles shakes his head. He claps Isaac on the shoulder and heads to his next class.
He thinks that’s the end of it, but when Stiles sits down at his usual table, he’s not alone for long. Isaac sits across from him and starts eating like it’s nothing, like he sits with Stiles all the time. Relief washes over Stiles and it’s so profound that he has to take a moment. He’s been sitting by himself for a while, even before the whole Derek-killing-Peter debacle because Scott’s been insufferable, but now that he’s not alone it just... it feels so good.
He leans back and surveys the cafeteria. Stiles starts to make a plan.
The junk room on the first floor has been turned into Isaac’s bedroom ever since Isaac’s fight with his dad. John’s got formal custody paperwork going through the official channels. Erica and Boyd are over more often than not, making the house feel alive like it hasn’t since Claudia died. On the downside, if Stiles wants a moment with his dad, he has to go into the sheriff’s department to get it.
John looks up from his computer as soon as Stiles walks through the office door. “What’s up?”
Stiles makes sure the door is firmly shut behind him. He rubs his palms on his jeans and takes a seat opposite his dad. “I have a problem.”
John turns his full attention on his son, waiting.
Stiles’s throat feels tight. It’s harder to talk about this when it’s real. When he wants it to be real. “You know... you know how I said I was dating Derek? Back with the school incident?”
John raises an eyebrow and settles back in his chair. “Hard to forget.”
“So, it wasn’t true then, but what if... what if I wanted it to be?”
For a long moment, John says nothing. Then he leans forward and folds his hands on top of his desk. “Have you talked to Derek about this?”
He shakes his head and stares at the floor. “I wanted... I just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t...”
“You know I wouldn’t do that.” A small bit of tension inside of Stiles melts away. “I can’t say I’d be entirely happy about it. You’d do better with someone closer to your own age. Lydia?”
Things with Lydia have been complicated. She knows there’s something more to what happened on prom night and her subsequent naked romp in the woods and she knows Stiles knows what that is, but her relationship with Jackson and her friendship with Allison keep her away. Stiles thinks maybe if he could win Scott and Allison back to his side, she’d come too, but that’s still a long time away.
He shakes his head. It’s hard to say what the difference is, but he tries. “It’s different. Lydia is... Lydia was this unattainable goal. I admired her intelligence and her looks, but deep down I think I knew it would never work. And Derek... Derek’s unattainable too, but I just feel... It feels different. It... It hurts, and I just want. I want to stop waiting. To just get crushed and be done with it.”
The pitying look John gives him is almost too much for Stiles. He has to look away. “I don’t think Derek would be that cruel.”
Stiles shrugs. He can’t speak right now. He’s not sure what would come out.
John sighs. “Look, if you really... if you think this is as big of a thing, then you should talk to him. Tell him how you feel. It’s the only way.”
Stiles risks a glance at his father. “Promise you won’t shoot him?”
A small smile breaks out on John’s face. “I promise I won’t shoot him.”
It’s the best Stiles can hope for. Now he just has to face Derek.
Stiles waits until Erica and Boyd leave after dinner. Isaac keeps shooting Stiles looks while they’re doing the dishes and Stiles knows Isaac knows something’s up. Once the last dish is dried and put away, Stiles risks a glance at Isaac, who’s just standing there waiting on him.
“Do you think... I mean, could you...” Stiles feels so bad even asking this. It’s Isaac’s house too and here Stiles is asking Isaac to leave. “I kind of need to talk to Derek. Privately.”
Isaac smiles. “Finally.” Stiles blinks. What’s that supposed to mean? Isaac bumps his shoulder into Stiles’s. “I’ll go for a jog around the block.”
Derek’s waiting for him at the foot of the stairs. He’d obviously heard what Stiles had said, though he seems more confused about it than Isaac had. Isaac gives them both a short wave as he heads out the door, leaving Derek and Stiles each hovering in a different doorway.
“We should sit,” Stiles says. Sitting is good. Stiles collapses onto his usual end of the couch and stares at his hands. Step one, get Derek alone, accomplished.
Right. Words. Stiles wets his lips and tries to come up with a way to say it that will end with the least amount of pain and embarrassment. “So, I just... I wanted to talk... About... um, me... and... and you...”
“You want me to give you the bite?” Derek sounds surprised. They’d never really talked about it but it had always been assumed that Stiles didn’t want it. That assumption still holds.
“What?” Stiles glances up at Derek and shakes his head. “No. Nothing like that. It’s just. I, um, I have this...” Stiles closes his eyes. He can do this. Just get it out. Now or never. “I have these feelings. For you. And I thought... I thought you should know.”
“Oh.” Stiles opens his eyes. Derek looks even more surprised. He obviously hadn’t been expecting it to be love confession time. “Okay.”
Stiles blinks. “Okay? That’s all you can say? Just, ‘okay’?”
Derek frowns. “What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know. Something like ‘I’m sorry Stiles but I don’t feel the same way’ or ‘Thanks, man, but no homo’?”
It’s Stiles’s turn to frown. “No?”
“I’m not going to say that.”
Stiles nods and looks away. “Okay. Okay, then make up your own way to let me down.”
“I don’t want to.”
A brief flare of anger wells up in Stiles and he turns back to Derek. “Well you have to say something. You can’t just leave me hanging here. That’s just... that’s mean.”
Derek slides across the space between them. His hand lands on Stiles’s cheek and it’s like all the blood in Stiles’s body rushes to his face, turning him red as a tomato. That familiar feeling stirs in his gut again, but he knows its name by now. Love.
“I have an answer for you,” Derek says, his voice low as a whisper. He leans in close. Stiles’s eyes fall shut seconds before Derek’s lips find his. As far as first kisses go, it’s pretty stellar.
They’re still kissing when Isaac comes back. “Get a room,” Isaac says and plops down on Derek’s other side. “I want to watch TV.”
Conveniently, they have choices. They end up in Derek’s because the bed is bigger. It’s just kissing but it feels magical. Derek’s weight is pressing Stiles down into the mattress and his hands are under Stiles’s shirt. Stiles finally gets to run his hands over Derek’s ridiculous abs and across his broad shoulders. At some point Derek loses his shirt. Stiles is okay with that because it makes touching Derek easier. At some point Derek’s mouth moves to Stiles’s neck and he’s really okay with that. Hello previously unknown erogenous zone. Stiles moans and the volume on the TV rises so they can hear it upstairs.
The door opens a little later. Two things land on the bed and the door shuts. Stiles breaks away from kissing Derek long enough to stare at the items – a box of condoms and a large bottle of lube. Stiles’s face goes red and he shouts “Dad!” There’s laughter out in the hall. Derek stares at the lube and condoms for a long moment before turning back to Stiles with a lecherous grin.
Stiles doesn’t stay mad at his dad for long.