Stiles is going to kill Scott.
Okay, maybe just maim him a little. Just, at least pinch him really hard, okay? He's gotta do-
"I don't feel comfortable doing this," Stiles calls over his shoulder, disgruntled. The car idling on the curb revs and Stiles sighs, turns back to the small girl standing in the doorway in front of him, blinking large, adorable green eyes and with her bottom lip wobbling. She's clutching a fuzzy black lump to her chest and Stiles sighs again because he did not exactly have take puppy away from small child as a to-do on his bucket list.
The fact that the puppy was actually going to grow up to be a Hell Hound was beside the point.
"Look, is your mom or dad home?" Stiles asks. The girl had been rightly hesitant when opening the door and more so when Stiles had stated he was there to relieve her of her new pet.
"My mom's upstairs in the shower," the girl says, which is probably not something you should say to a perfect stranger on your front step.
"In that case, yoink!" Stiles says, snatching the puppy out of the girl's arms and running back down the front walk. He winces when the girl starts wailing behind him but doesn't look back. He's already scarred for life as it is from this whole thing. He runs around the car on the curb, shoves the puppy into the box on the backseat through the window and then hurls himself into the passenger seat with a, "Drive!"
Derek just looks at him.
"You are a terrible get-away driver!" Stiles shrills.
Derek just keeps looking at him as he sedately puts the Toyota in gear and rolls away from the curb at a snail's pace.
"I'm so dipping Scott's hand in a bowl of warm water when he's asleep," Stiles grouses, slumping down in the seat.
Scott had gone back into the clinic for more adoption forms and had spotted six tiny black dogs that were in the cage at the back. He thought Deaton had maybe just forgotten this extra box of super-cute puppies and dutifully trundled them back to the fair across the street. What he hadn't noticed in his enthusiasm was the sign tacked to the front of the cage that said, Not for adoption Scott!.
Deaton should've known better.
The small black, indiscernible-breed puppies were plainly adorable and snapped up by eager adopters in no time. Scott had been shuffling the forms, proud of himself, when Deaton had realized what had happened and had come tearing out of the clinic, far, far too late as it turned out.
Fast forward to three days later and Stiles with the six adoption forms, tracking down the puppies with Derek because Scott couldn't afford to miss more school but Stiles could. "Why does he even need me?" Stiles had complained when Scott had come to ask him for this very, in his opinion, unreasonable favor. "Why can't Derek get them back on his own?"
Scott had looked back at Derek standing in front of the Toyota and scowling at the world in general and Stiles had slumped. Stiles was the kind of boy that would get his cheeks pinched by grandmothers in the street. Derek was the kind of guy that those same grandmothers would hit with their purses if he got too close.
It was going to take a deft hand to talk people out of their new puppies and a not-so-recently-released-criminal look wouldn't exactly help matters.
"The least he could've done was found homes for them that were local," Stiles grumbles, probably for the thirtieth time. He looks down at the forms in his lap morosely. The closest had been the little girl, only a few blocks from the clinic. The rest were much further out. "Silver Lakes, Tippet and ugh, Warrington," Stiles reads out.
"Let's drop this one off then head for Warrington and work our way backwards," Derek proposes.
"Fine," Stiles says, putting his foot up on the dash and then taking it down again when Derek gives his sneaker a death-glare.
"I don't know why you're annoyed. I had stuff to do this week," Derek says, reaching back without looking and grabbing the puppy that had taken a tumble out of the box and into the foot well with a squeak. He puts it back in the box and pushes the flaps down.
"Yes, those ancient books of yours won't read themselves, the mailman won't glare at himself," Stiles says.
Derek flicks him on the forehead.
"Real mature," Stiles grumbles when he gets back to the car.
"Maybe you guys will stop playing put on Derek when I fall asleep around you," Derek smarts back and Stiles pokes his tongue out at him.
"Is this... this isn't permanent marker is it?" Stiles says, rubbing at the mustache pretty ineffectually and scowling at the side mirror when it doesn't seem to be budging. The mustache looks like one of those villain ones favored by men who like tying people to train tracks.
"It's washable. Don't be a baby," Derek says, using the squeegee in the bucket by the pump to rub over the windshield.
"You know people use those things to scrub the gas off their cars. You shouldn't use them on your windows."
"Talk to me when you have a windshield that isn't held on with duct tape and wishful thinking."
"The jeep is perfectly up to code," Stiles sniffs and scrubs harder at his upper lip. A dry finger isn't doing it so he sacrifices some of his Mountain Dew. He ends up with a sticky upper lip that has a big black smudge on it for his trouble. "I'm going back in for wet wipes. Do you need anything else?"
"Nope," Derek says, popping the 'p' on the word and smiling at Stiles. He's definitely a lot more good-natured these days, more relaxed. His default face is still pretty much a murder-face, but Derek smiles more easily when he does feel the urge. Even only a few months ago he wouldn't have been so pleased about the prank he pulled.
Hell, he wouldn't have played a prank at all.
Stiles isn't still one hundred percent sure this more relaxed, willing-to-draw-on-his-face Derek is necessarily better, but Scott seems to think so and Stiles wonders if maybe he's just adjusting. He was so used to having a healthy fear boner where Derek was concerned, that just having the regular kind is confusing the hell out of him.
"I don't think we should try and hit up someone this late for their newly adopted puppy hell spawn. It's just rude," Stiles says through a yawn.
"We'll park on the side of the-"
"Dude, motel!" Stiles says, pointing across Derek and nearly smacking him in the nose. "No way I'm sleeping in the car. I need a shower and a real bed."
"You'd rather sleep in this place than in the car?" Derek says, sounding dubious. He doesn't argue though as he pulls into the motel's parking area. It is pretty skeevy-looking, all neon buzzing sign with the requisite amount of burned out letters to really sell the creepy vibe but Stiles thinks anything would be better than such close quarters with Derek.
He knows Derek knows about his unfortunate feelings, but there's Derek knowing and Derek being stuck smelling them all night.
"It'll be an adventure," Stiles says cheerily, getting out of the car and stretching with a grateful groan. He catches Derek watching him and pulls a face at him, knowing he probably looks terrible after nearly a whole day in the car.
"I thought you might have gone off roadside motels," Derek says and oh yeah, that's right. The last time Stiles had been in one it had been more than a little traumatic.
"What are the odds of happening upon two murder motels, huh?" Stiles says, going for jovial and probably missing by a country mile.
"I'll get us a couple of rooms," Derek says.
"Just the one," Stiles says and then grimaces when Derek gives him a look. "I mean, save money, right?"
Derek seems to decide that Stiles gets a free pass on this one and just shrugs, making his way to the motel office that has a sleepy-looking clerk at the desk that Stiles can see through the window.
Stiles scuffs around the Toyota while he waits, pulls out his cell phone and dials his dad. It only rings once before his dad picks up, sounding warm and affectionate and normal. "Hey kid, how's the hell hound hunt going?"
It's so much easier now his dad's in the know to do stuff like this. Stiles knows his life being less filled with lies is probably still not worth the risk of his dad knowing, but it's definitely a bright side.
"We're packing it in for the night," Stiles says, scratching his nose absently and watching Derek wave a credit card at the motel clerk to get the guy's attention away from the baseball game he's watching.
"You staying somewhere safe?"
"Um..." Stiles says, looks up at the buzzing sign and sighs. "Just Shacking Up Motel."
"I swear. I'll send a picture," Stiles says. "Oh hey, they have a refreshing poo," Stiles adds, noticing the unfortunately burnt out 'l' that should have been on the end of that word. "Definitely doing a selfie in front of that one. Scott will love it."
"Scott feels terrible about all this," his dad says.
"He owes me so many bags of Funyuns and an epic, no-pants gaming weekend."
"You haven't lived until you've played Mario Kart sans pants."
"I'm going to have to take your word for it," his dad says and then there's a heavy pause before he adds, "So, you okay with, uh, being alone with Derek?"
"It's fine," Stiles hisses, fighting the urge to hold his hand over the phone. Derek is still talking to the motel clerk, but Stiles knows that he underplays how much he can hear for the humans' benefit sometimes.
"Maybe you should think about telling him-"
"Nothing! There is nothing to tell him," Stiles says, mortified. He doesn't really want to be having this conversation outside a roadside motel right before he's about to steal a bunch of probably-by-now cherished pets from people and Derek is in eyesight.
He's had a bad enough day.
"I know you don't think-"
"Dad, I gotta go. I'll call you in the morning," Stiles interjects, only feeling a little bit bad about hanging up on his father. Derek is coming out of the office though, twirling a key around his index finger.
"There's some kind of festival in town. There was only one room left anyway. Queen bed," Derek says.
"Oh, uh, that's okay?" Stiles says. "I can totally sleep on the floor. Apparently it's good for your back."
"We can share, Stiles. It's fine," Derek says, dismissive and Stiles swallows before rallying a smile and a nod.
"Or we can share. Totally also fine."
"Are you alright?" Derek asks, giving Stiles a raised eyebrow.
"Scott says I drool in my sleep," Stiles says, because apparently his brain hates him.
"Just keep it on your side," Derek says.
Derek makes a noise of inquiry when Stiles eases back inside, but quickly goes back to sleep when Stiles promises he was just out stretching his legs. He knows that Derek is only ever a heavy sleeper when with pack and it warms him a little to know that he can move about the room without waking him.
Not enough not to exact revenge for the drawn-on mustache that he's still wearing the shadow of.
He's in the shower the next morning when Derek bangs on the door and then pushes it open.
"I'm naked!" Stiles protests shrilly. The mold-speckled shower curtain is thankfully not completely see-through but Stiles can still make out the blurry shape of Derek on the other side and Derek's vision is much better than his.
Stiles is left wondering how well werewolf-eyes can see through opaque stuff and whether he should be covering his junk right now.
A towel is tossed over the rail, making the point moot and Stiles switches off the shower, still with a thin layer of soap over his body and quickly wraps the towel around himself. Derek gives him only long enough to barely have the towel situated before he's yanking back the curtain and shoving Stiles' empty bottle of Mountain Dew from the day before at him.
Empty that is, except for Derek's phone inside.
"How the hell did you even do this?" Derek demands, shaking the bottle. The phone thumps dully inside, chirruping happily. Stiles had taken the liberty of changing Derek's ring tone to Whip My Hair before securing the phone inside the bottle.
"Trade secret," Stiles says and Derek growls, shoving the bottle into Stiles' chest. He grabs it, bobbles it for a second because he'd been using both hands to hold the towel and then slips since the motel hadn't seen fit to invest in those sticky-grip things for the bottom of the shower. Derek swears and grabs for him, hands sliding because Stiles is still well and truly soapy. He ends up clutching Stiles awkwardly against his chest, their arms tangled and Stiles' hold on the towel gone so it's only being held up in the front because it's pressed between their bodies and his ass is out in the breeze.
"You couldn't have waited to do this until after I was out of the shower?" Stiles complains.
"Deaton keeps calling. I couldn't listen to that song anymore," Derek says, sounding breathless and with his eyes straining ceiling-ward because he's got his chin tucked over Stiles' shoulder the way he's holding him so would get a completely unimpeded view of Stiles' butt if he looked down.
"Close your eyes for a sec," Stiles says and when Derek opens his mouth to protest, Stiles whaps him in the back of the head with the bottle. "I don't want to ruin you for life, dude. Once you have pasty and skinny, you never go back."
"You're not-" Derek starts to say, seems to think better of whatever he was going to say and closes his eyes although there's a frown line digging deep between his eyebrows when he does.
Stiles rights himself carefully, pulls away even more so. He situates the towel first, picks up the bottle and then pushes Derek in the forehead to signal that he's decent. Derek blinks his eyes open.
"Why didn't you just rip into this thing with your claws?" Stiles asks, peeling the label back he'd carefully reattached and waggling the bottle to show the carefully cut, phone-shaped hole behind it. A pocket-knife and superglue were always in his bag. You never knew when that kind of stuff would come in handy.
"I... didn't think of that," Derek admits, cheeks going a dull red.
"It seemed like a better idea to barge in on me?" Stiles asks, tweezing the phone out of the bottle with his fingers and handing it over, right when it starts to ring again. Derek stabs the ignore so viciously that Stiles thinks that Derek might have just gotten his phone back to break it.
"Maybe it's important if Deaton keeps calling?" Stiles says, crossing his arms over his chest after he pitches the bottle into the trash.
"You're still having trouble sleeping?" Derek says, completely out of left field.
"Um, I've always had trouble in strange places," Stiles hedges. When Derek looks unconvinced, Stiles rolls his eyes and says, "Okay and yes, and there's that... other thing."
"If you ever need to talk to anyone," Derek offers and Stiles doesn't know why he's surprised by it. He makes grouchy jokes about Derek all the time, but Derek's definitely been more settled and open lately, like he'd finally found his natural groove and had relaxed into it like a well-worn chair.
It suited Derek and Stiles is left more than a little saddened that they are now only just getting to see the person Derek was always meant to be, before tragedy and loss stripped him bare.
"Can I finish showering before the deep and meaningful?" Stiles asks wryly, feeling like an ass as soon as he does because Derek's blush grows brighter again. He can't help it though, he's starting to itch with the dried soap and he's never been comfortable hanging out with anyone shirtless. Even more so now that he's surrounded by people with magical werewolf abs.
"Sorry," Derek says, grimacing. "Of course."
Derek backs out of the bathroom so stiffly that Stiles feels like laughing. He switches the shower back on, scrubs the soap off quickly and towels off even faster, pulling on the clothes he'd left piled on the toilet lid before pushing back into the room.
Derek's sitting on the edge of the bed, phone pressed to his ear. "You're kidding," he says.
"What?" Stiles asks and Derek waves at him, makes a few noises of agreement and then hangs up.
"Apparently Hell Hounds set stuff on fire when they sneeze," Derek says when he tosses the phone aside.
"That's... I'm trying to think of a way that that isn't awesome," Stiles says.
"Deaton's been contacted by the remaining five adopters, all very understandably angry."
"What did he tell them they had?" Stiles asks, because black dogs with red eyes that sneeze fire can't be an easy thing to explain away.
"He said they were dogs with a rare genetic defect and they need to be brought back immediately."
"You're kidding. They bought that?" Stiles splutters.
"We can go home," Derek says, sounding oddly disappointed.
Stiles doesn't know why, even though he feels similar. He never really gets to spend any time with Derek, just them. He feels like Derek thinks he's a nuisance most of the time, thrust upon him by virtue of Scott's friendship. He knows they've saved each other's asses more than a time or two, but just recently it feels like Derek has been actively dodging one on one time with him.
Stiles thought by now he'd have built up a thicker skin against rejection, but apparently not.
"Pity we can't-" Stiles starts to say, right when Derek says, "Do you wanna just-"
They both stop and look at each other. "Um, you first?" Stiles tries.
"It's stupid, never mind. You've got school," Derek says, waving a dismissive hand, and now Stiles really wants to know what he was going to say.
Stiles braces himself for looking stupid, but by now he's used to that and proposes, "I can miss a few days. You want to take the scenic route back?"
He doesn't get the exasperated snort and curt head shake he's expecting. Instead, Derek looks up from his hands, smiling gently and says, "Yeah, I'd really like that."
"Just to be clear, you're going to be in a car, with me, for hours," Stiles says and now Derek does snort.
"It might go against the whole, avoid Stiles thing you've got going on."
Derek looks at him sharply, before his expression turns guilty and Stiles winces. A small part of him had been hoping he was just reading too much into the fact that they hadn't been in a room alone together for months. "Sorry about that," Derek offers.
"O-kay, what's been going on? I mean, you've seen me have a crush before. It can't be that big a shock," Stiles says. "I'm good at compartmentalizing-"
"What?" Derek interrupts, blinking.
"I know you probably feel awkward around me, but I swear, I wasn't trying to make you uncomfortable. I didn't mean to get my feelings all over you and I'm sure it will eventually-"
"Stiles, rewind for a second. I'm not avoiding you because you have a crush on me," Derek says, standing up and wiping his hands off on his jeans.
"Then why... wait, you're not serious," Stiles says, gaping at Derek.
"I didn't know you, uh, felt that way."
"How could you not? You have a super-sniffer and I've gotta smell especially ripe around you, especially when you wear, well, anything," Stiles says, flailing at Derek, at his jeans and the Henley that hugs his biceps and pecs in a way Stiles thinks is blatantly unfair.
"Stiles, you smell..." Derek grimaces before saying, "-ripe a lot of the time. I can't assume it's about me."
"You didn't ever think that I don't always smell like that, just always around you?" Stiles asks, raising his eyebrows and watching Derek mull that over.
"Huh," he says eventually.
"I mean, I know I'm eighteen, but there's a limit to how much of my time even I can spend horny. If anyone gets to be understandably surprised here, it's me."
"I don't know why," Derek says, flailing his hands. "Everyone knows that I-"
"Everyone knows?" Stiles interrupts, blinking. "Wait, everyone? Including-"
"Scott knows," Derek confirms.
"Our friends are the worst," Stiles says grumpily.
"So, can I?" Derek asks and Stiles raises his eyebrows at him.
"Can you what?"
Derek steps forward, puts hands to either side of Stiles' face and leans forward. He's just shy of their lips touching when he says, "Can I?"
"That would be an unequivocal, heartfelt yes," Stiles says, pushing into the kiss.