Stiles moves to America for college.
He comes from a country no one has heard of that still has the outdated concept of kings and queens and princes and princesses. He sort of hates it, hates the rules he can never break, hates the pressure of being in the public eye.
He needs a taste of freedom – of a simple life where things like being a prince aren't so important. Hopefully college will be the answer.
It’s not the first time he’s really, really glad he has a nickname. He gets to be anonymous and it’s fantastic. People don’t cast him a second glance and Stiles is happy to be invisible, happy not to have everything handed to him. Stiles has to actually work for his grades, and he likes the extra push, likes the satisfaction of getting something because he earned it.
He managed to persuade his father to let Scott be his bodyguard, giving his best friend the opportunity to study abroad. Scott doesn’t do a fantastic job of trailing around Stiles wherever he goes, and Stiles doesn’t care, it’s better this way. Besides, it’s not like he needs a bodyguard. Not here, not when no one knows he’s a prince.
Stiles still has trouble biting his tongue. It’s hard to grow out of and he manages to piss off his snotty roommate, Alistair, on the very first day.
He thinks he manages to piss off his lab partner in the first minute of meeting him, because Stiles is running late and he knocks over the conical flask as soon as he arrives.
His lab partner is Derek Hale. His lab partner has what looks like soft lips, stunning eyes, thick eyebrows, and a forever grumpy expression. As much as Stiles likes being anonymous, likes having no one pay attention to him, Derekcertainly notices him and the way Stiles constantly ruins their experiments.
“What,” Stiles says, “That was totally you that time – I don’t know why you’re making me clean it up!”
Derek scowls, lowering his eyes to the floor. “It was you and you know it. You’re the one who distracted me by –” He abruptly cuts himself off.
“By…” Stiles says lightly, trying not to smirk.
Derek meets his gaze. He shoves the cleaning equipment into Stiles’ hands. “Stop making veiled comments about my ass, Stiles, and maybe we can get through one of these labs without ruining something. If it continues I’ll ask for a new lab partner.”
Stiles pouts. “You wouldn’t. You like me.”
Derek turns away, but the tips of his ears have gone pink. “No, I don’t. You’re the reason my grade in this class is so bad.”
That makes Stiles feel guilty. He stops trying to sort of accidentally flirt with Derek even though the temptation is still way too great. Stiles knows he shouldn’t be flirting at all. Not with anyone and especially not with Derek. It’s not like the world knows he likes guys yet.
He gets to work and the next day Derek gives him a wide smile when they make it through the lab without setting something on fire. Stiles is thrown by how beautiful Derek looks, by the way his eyes crinkle and how he actually looks happy to see Stiles for once.
“Good work, Stiles,” he says kindly, putting a hand on Stiles’ shoulder as he walks past. “Knew you could do it.”
“Yeah,” Stiles says, searching for something to say. “Yeah.”
Their good luck doesn’t last. A week later Stiles leaves Derek’s eyebrows smoking from the Bunsen burner.
“I’m sorry!” Stiles says. “This one was actually an accident, I swear!”
“Actually an accident,” Derek echoes. “You mean the other ones were on purpose?”
Stiles falters. “Only the ones that wouldn’t ruin our grades,” he says quickly. He can still smell the smoke.
Derek reaches up and brushes his hair down his forehead, but it’s not long enough to cover the fact that his eyebrows have been singed. He looks ridiculous, but still unfairly handsome.
“You owe me,” Derek says, voice stern.
“Okay,” Stiles squeaks.
Derek rummages in his bag and then stuffs some books into Stiles’ arms. He looks down. They’re about poetry.
“You need my help with this?” Stiles asks, sceptical. He can do poetry. He’s been taught this stuff since he was a kid, and the poem Derek’s meant to be focussing on is about ugh love, but Stiles could help Derek. He did burn his eyebrows, after all.
“Yes,” Derek huffs.
Derek is sort of awful at reading poetry. His latest grade was a C-, but he listens quietly while Stiles talks about the words on the page, while Stiles talks about allusions to great love stories and tries not to throw up. (Stiles has been in love before. He doesn’t recommend it.)
Stiles sits down on a nearby chair. “Did that help?”
He swears Derek’s cheeks have turned red. “Yes,” he says. “Thank you. You’re good at reciting it.”
He disappears before Stiles can say anything else.
Derek starts looking at him a little differently after that. He searches for Stiles’ gaze as soon as he walks into a room, he’ll laugh quietly at Stiles’ terrible jokes. His shoulders relax around Stiles and he doesn’t order Stiles about during their labs, trusting Stiles to do things properly.
Derek always handles the Bunsen burners. Stiles isn’t allowed to complain.
One evening they’re in Derek’s dorm room, hiding from Stiles’ roommate. Stiles is leaning against a wall, smirking, and Derek rolls his eyes and saunters forward. Derek’s going to kiss him, Derek’s going to kiss him and Stiles loses his breath, but not in the nice way, close to panicking as the smug expression drops from his own face.
Derek stops, lips an inch away from Stiles, second guessing himself. “I, sorry,” he says. “I thought you wanted…”
He begins to move away and Stiles lets out a whine because he does want, he really does, so he lifts his hands to Derek’s face, drags his fingers through his stubble, and kisses him.
It’s – it’s perfect. Derek’s arms are warm, and Stiles knows he can’t have this forever, he’s a fucking prince for God’s sake, in a reaalllly conservative country, so he presses his tongue against Derek’s and kisses him like it’s the first and last time he’s going to.
Derek should know what he’s getting into, and Stiles pushes him away.
“Wait,” Stiles says. “Wait, sorry.” He licks his lips. Derek takes a step back, looking dazed. “I’m not out, Derek. I’m not out.”
Derek sways on the spot, his eyes on Stiles’ lips. Then he glances up. “Oh. You’re not?”
“Yes,” Stiles huffs.
“You flirt with me all the time. In front of my roommate. Erica’s certain you –” Derek looks away, already flushed cheeks burning.
Stiles slumps against the wall, scratching his cheek. He really should have been more careful, but Derek’s gotten under his skin far too easily. The world – well, this small city in America – doesn’t know he’s a prince but they might find out one day.
“Um,” Stiles says. “Well, I’m not out. My Dad knows, Scott knows, but uh, there’s a good reason why I’m not. And there’s something I haven’t told anyone here, anyone at all, which you should know before you get involved with me.”
Derek looks confused, and he takes a cautious step back. Stiles feels his heart sinking, and he doesn’t want Derek to leave, afraid he’ll leave forever.
“Can we still be friends?” Stiles blurts out, eyes wide and hopeful.
Derek lets out a shaky breath. “Um. Sure,” he says, voice weak.
Erica gives him weird looks from then on. Stiles has stopped flirting even though it’s really fucking hard. Derek is always just there, looking delectable, looking cute and hot and sometimes Stiles wants to run his fingers through his hair.
Stiles tries to ignore whenever Erica sends him those murderous looks, and he feels way too on edge because of the way she’s acting. He can’t – he doesn’t know these people, doesn’t know if he can trust them yet. He’s got to figure out what she knows. Stiles pushes Derek into a supply closet after a lecture, glaring at him.
“Did you tell your friend?” he hisses.
“Tell them what?” Derek snaps back.
Stiles relaxes his grip on Derek’s shirt, and there’s only a breath of space between them. He exhales. “Tell her, that we, you know, kissed,” he mumbles.
Derek grimaces but his back straightens. They hear some office supplies falling to the floor, and Derek reaches out, palm cupping Stiles’ face. “I didn’t say anything to her,” Derek whispers. “I said nothing, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know something’s up between the two of us.”
Stiles leans forward, dropping his head to Derek’s shoulder. He’s never had more than three people know about his sexuality before. It scares him a lot. He tries to remember that they don’t know who he is, they can’t use this against him, and it’sDerek. Derek wouldn’t do this to him.
“Sorry,” he mumbles.
“I’ll tell her to stop,” Derek says, a hand on the small of Stiles’ back as they make their way back into the corridor.
Stiles fantasizes about telling Derek all the time. A part of him really wants to, but another makes him stop. He’s been hurt before and he can’t have it happen again. There’s a lot at stake. His father doesn’t need his son to feature in the headlines again.
“Dude,” says Scott. “Stop worrying. You’re here to have fun, okay?”
Stiles sighs, throwing himself on the single bed. The mattresses are thin and they’re bunk beds, complete with the tendency to creak and groan in the middle of the night.
“Easy for you to say, you already have a date.”
Stiles’ roommate leans over the top bunk bed and throws something at him. Stiles’ heart lurches, forgetting he was even there, but Stiles hasn’t said anything revealing. His secret is still safe.
“Get your friend out of here already, I want to sleep,” Alistair sneers from above. Stiles rolls his eyes and watches Scott leave, wishing things were simpler.
He sometimes catches Derek looking at him curiously, like he’s trying to figure out what Stiles is hiding. He hates those moments the most because Derek could easily find out that Stiles is a prince if he knew what to look for. The internet exists, and Stiles has been in a few local headlines before. He’s stepped out of line once or twice before. His country’s media loves him.
Stiles sits in a History lecture and almost double takes when he sees a picture of his father up on the powerpoint. He holds his breath and sinks into his chair, hoping desperately that he won’t be mentioned.
But it’s his real name, and there’s no picture to accompany it. Stiles covers his face with his hands and tries to breathe, startling when he feels Derek’s hand on his shoulder.
“Are you okay?” he whispers, breath hot by Stiles’ ear.
He tries not to shiver and nods, smiling faintly and returning his attention back to the lecture.
Stiles gets invited to a party thrown by one of their classmates. He’s looking forward to it, an American college party, where his actions won’t be hyped up the next day by the media. He drags Derek along because they’re friends, because Stiles still desperately wants to spend time with him even though they’re not together.
“Why do you look so excited,” Derek grumbles.
“It’s a party, Derek. You dance, you drink, you have fun.”
“I haven’t really been to any,” Derek admits. “I’ve been studying.”
Stiles grins. “Of course you have. But just because you haven’t been to these kinds of parties before, definitely doesn’t mean you don’t know how to dress for one.” The words escape before he can catch them, and Stiles turns away as Derek flushes. He shouldn’t say things like that, shouldn’t flirt, even if Derek’s dressed nicely, jeans tight and shirt snug.
Derek follows him into the crowd of people and somehow they manage to have some fun. Stiles gets them both a couple of shots, the music is loud in their ears, and Stiles makes a fool out of himself on the dance floor. The air is hot and Stiles notices all the couples dancing around them, the way their bodies grind against each other.
He turns to Derek. There’s some girl trying to dance with him and jealously shoots through Stiles’ spine. He stops moving and stares, wanting to dance with Derek himself. Not just next to him, but with him, hands on hips and arms around waists.
Derek’s eyes widen as the girl tries to get closer. He searches for Stiles to help.
“Want to leave?” Stiles yells over the music, and Derek nods.
The girl looks disappointed as Stiles leads Derek away, tugging on his fingers. When they reach the cool air Derek drops his hand and they both look at each other for a second. Derek’s cheeks are red and his eyes are bright.
“Have fun?” Stiles says.
“Yeah,” Derek breathes. “It’s not so bad. You were with me.”
Stiles smiles quietly to himself. They walk side by side on the way to the dorms, the contact of Derek’s shoulder a nice contrast to the cold around them. Stiles doesn’t want to say goodbye to Derek just yet, even though they’re tired and probably need sleep. Derek seems to feel the same way, biting his lip as he lets Stiles into his dorm room.
The time on the clock says three in the morning and Erica is nowhere to be seen. They don’t bother to turn on the light and Derek snorts when Stiles trips over nothing, falling onto the bottom bunk bed.
“Always so graceful,” Derek says, kicking off his shoes.
“Hey!” Stiles says. “I’ll have you know I can be very graceful.”
“Uh huh. Our failed lab experiments certainly attest to that.” Derek pauses. “Can I show you something?”
Stiles bites his lip, feeling the soft buzz of the alcohol over his skin. Derek looks so handsome in the dark, the light of the moon shining bright through the window. He’s surprised when Derek slides onto the mattress next to him, and then there’s hardly room for the both of them to lie on their backs.
It takes a minute, and followed by some more quiet laughter, Stiles is pressed against Derek’s side, staring at a world map pinned to the bottom bunk bed. Stiles reaches up and lets his fingers trail over the green and red pins.
“What’s this?” he whispers.
“This is where I want to go in the world,” Derek tells him. “Green is where I’ve been, red is where I want to go.”
“And blue?” Stiles asks, noticing the random pins.
“Blue is just pretty,” Derek says with a shrug. Stiles takes one of them and places it on his own country. It’s not a secret he’s from there, but they all think he’s some normal kid.
Stiles turns so that his face is buried into Derek’s shirt. He smells faintly of sweat and alcohol, but so, so good all the same. Stiles’ eyes drift shut and he wants to stay here forever, breathing Derek in. He curls closer around the warm body next to him and after some shuffling Derek’s hand starts to trail slowly up and down Stiles’ back.
“I’m not drunk enough to justify this,” he mumbles.
Derek hums. “Justify what?”
Stiles sighs when Derek’s fingers slip under his shirt, making patterns on his hipbone. He tangles their legs together even more, rubs his foot along Derek’s calf.
“Friends don’t do this,” Stiles says.
“I know, but I want to, Stiles. I want this.”
His voice sounds almost desperate, and it might be because of what they had to drink, or the fact that the sun set hours ago, but Stiles can’t find it in him to move away just yet. “But I haven’t – you don’t know – there’s still so much I haven’t told you.”
He feels Derek shake his head. “I don’t care.”
Stiles lifts his head, eyes trying to find Derek’s in the dark. He can barely see anything though, and Stiles is already filled with want, Derek’s words low and intense and hard to say no to. Stiles presses his lips against Derek’s shoulder, kissing the first skin he finds. Derek shivers underneath him as Stiles moves up his neck, teeth scraping against skin before he bites Derek’s earlobe. Derek fists his shirt.
“I don’t care,” he says again.
It’s enough for now. Derek turns his head and then they’re kissing properly, Derek’s mouth warm and wet and everything Stiles has been dreaming about for the last few months. He feels safe here, and they’re soon breathless.
Stiles bangs his head on the bed above them when they try to take off his shirt. Derek whacks his hand on the bunk bed’s ladder as he tries to search for the lube and condoms under his mattress. Stiles laughs and takes his hand, kissing Derek’s knuckles while trying to hide his own smirk. Derek glares at him in the half light of the room.
They don’t have much space and Stiles doesn’t fucking care. It just means he gets to stay closer to Derek, gets to wrap his arms around him as Derek opens him up. His fingers stay in Derek’s hair, gripping it hard as Derek tries to hush his noises, tries to keep him quiet so the whole world won’t know what they’re up to.
When they’re finally moving together the angle is a little awkward. The bed rocks and creaks against the wall, and Derek bites and kisses Stiles’ shoulder, his collarbone. Stiles swears the bed is going to break under them and he has no idea how they’ll explain it but he can’t bring himself to care. It feels too good. Derek feels too good.
They’re sweaty and tired and unwilling to move afterwards. Derek doesn’t stop touching him though, keeps brushing a hand along Stiles’ spine. It’s quiet, and Stiles remembers that Derek doesn’t know enough about him. He lets out a sigh.
“Hey,” Derek says, tilting his head up to Stiles. “Don’t worry about anything tonight, okay?”
Stiles smiles then he nods. He keeps his eyes on Derek as he slides off the bed, going to clean them up. When they fall asleep together again Stiles has never felt more relaxed.
In the morning Stiles wakes up first, and he’s glad Erica isn’t back in the dorm yet. He sits up slowly and Derek stirs. He can’t bring himself to regret the night before, but he knows he’s got to be honest with Derek now.
Derek sits up and kisses his back, moving upwards until his mouth is over the skin at Stiles’ neck. “Morning,” he whispers, and Stiles tries not to shudder.
“Do you want to go to breakfast with me?” Stiles asks. Derek rests his forehead between Stiles’ shoulder blades.
“Okay,” he says.
When they walk outside they don’t hold hands. Derek smiles at him, hands in his pockets, and their shoulders brush as they find somewhere off campus to eat. Stiles worries his lip, unsure how to go about this. He has no idea how Derek will react.
They sit in the corner of a shoddy diner, and Derek lets their legs touch under the table. Stiles remembers everything they did the night before, wants to do it again or at least be able to kiss Derek out here, just because he feels like it.
“Go on,” Derek says. “You can tell me.”
“I trust you,” Stiles blurts out, eyes wide. “I – you’re someone I can trust.”
Derek leans forward, expression suddenly serious. He puts down his knife and fork and stares intently at Stiles, eyes beautiful and eyebrows intact. God, if this doesn’t work out Stiles is going to miss Derek. He’s going to miss the friend he made and the person he got to know. “Stiles,” he whispers. “I’m just here to listen.”
“I had a boyfriend once, you know,” Stiles starts. “I knew him most of my life actually, but uh, it didn’t work out. We had to keep it secret. He was so paranoid about anyone finding out that he even had a pretend girlfriend. She didn’t know about me, but sometimes they slept together whenever he got drunk enough. ‘Just to keep up appearances,’ he’d say.”
Stiles wrinkles his nose at the memory. He didn’t fucking care about what people thought. He really didn’t, but he knows that his father has an approval rating and that he has to keep their country’s people happy. So Stiles told no one and suffered.
“See, I’m not unknown where I’m from,” Stiles says. “People know who I am.”
Derek smirks. “I come from a small town. They all know me as the guy who wears leather jackets and drives motorcycles.”
Stiles gives him a weak, unimpressed look. “I’m a little more known than just the lady down the road knowing your name and your mode of transportation preference.”
“Yeah?” Derek says.
“My Dad’s sort of in charge? Well, not so much anymore because otherwise that would be archaic, but uh. He’s the leader of where we’re from?”
Derek blinks at him.
“Um, sort of, the leader of the whole country?”
“You’re either the leader of a country or you aren’t,” Derek says, eyes narrowing. He sits back in his chair and untangles his legs from Stiles. Stiles stares at him hopelessly, and he’s almost said it, just a couple more words and the cat will be out of the bag.
Stiles clears his throat. “He’s the leader. And we still have a monarchy, so I’m the prince.”
He closes his eyes, when he opens them again, what looks like hurt is over Derek’s face. Stiles is stunned. He doesn’t know what to say.
Derek’s voice cracks when he speaks. “Are you – are you making fun of me? Look if you didn’t want a relationship you could’ve just said.” He looks down at his unfinished food. “I’m going to go, yeah, I’ll just leave.”
“Derek,” Stiles lets out, voice harsher than he means it to be. His hand snakes out and clasps Derek’s wrist. “I’m serious, I’m deadly serious, okay? Please stay, please. At least look it up on your phone and you’ll find something there, I promise.”
“You’re – you’re serious?”
“You’re a prince?” he breathes out. He sinks back to his seat, looking dazed. Derek still looks it up on his phone while Stiles sits there patiently, trying not to vibrate out of his skin. Derek’s still shocked when he stares up at Stiles, totally butchering his first name as he tries to say it aloud.
Stiles rolls his eyes. “I wouldn’t lie to you about this, Derek. But you had to know.”
“I love you,” he says.
Stiles looks up at him, mouth dropping open. Derek looks like he wants to take it back, eyes searching over Stiles until he finally ducks his head, face and neck burning red. Stiles has no idea what to do with that. God, it makes things so much worse because there’s so much he can’t ask of Derek. So much.
He clears his throat. “I can’t expect you to – it’s not fair for you to be in a relationship with me. Even if you were a girl or something, if they found out they’d still shove the cameras in your face. The fact that you’re a guy would make it a thousand times worse. I can’t – and it’s not fair to you to have to hide it. It’s just not.”
Derek glares at him, but it still looks as if he’s processing it all. “I – can you let me decide that for myself?”
Stiles stares at him. Then he nods.
They eat the rest of their meals in silence, and Stiles watches Derek think. Every word after that holds more weight, and when Derek drops Stiles off at his dorm he checks that no one’s about before he drops a kiss to Stiles’ lips. The brush of their mouths together is soft, over too soon, and when Stiles steps inside his dorm he’s met by his roommate.
“Finally got laid last night?” he smirks.
Stiles rolls his eyes.
A few more weeks pass. Derek is still his friend. Even though they slept together, even though Derek said he loved him, they clearly aren’t anything else. There’s no time, nor are there any hidden spaces to kiss him. It’s hard, and all Stiles wants is to know what Derek’s thinking.
Then, then one day his roommate approaches him.
“Guess what I found out today?” he says.
Stiles groans, collapsing on his bed. “Dude, I do not need to hear about the fact you finally learnt that the earth orbits the sun.”
Alistair scowls. “I knew that.”
“Really?” Stiles says. “Didn’t you think the world revolved around you?”
He’s met with a sneer. “Shut it, Stiles, you’re not in the position to be making jokes with me. I know where you’re from. I found out, and I’m not above telling everyone that you’re a prince.”
Stiles sits up in his bed, whacks his head hard enough to bruise. His mouth goes dry, and his roommate looks so self-satisfied. Stiles offers him money, anything to keep him quiet. There’s agreement, and Stiles shoves all he has out of his wallet, a couple hundred dollars.
His roommate takes it.
“Too late,” he says. “I’ve already told your secret.”
Stiles pales. He calls Scott, but his Alistair’s already disappeared. Stiles is one second away from a full blown freak out and he curses landing that complete idiot to share a room.
The cameras are there the next day. Scott stays by his side and keeps him safe, but all the people who thought they were friends give him dirty looks. He’s a prince, he’s a stupid prince and now everyone knows. Stiles goes to his classes and when he sees Derek, his eyes look wide.
They do their lab work together in silence, and Stiles can barely concentrate. He almost sets Derek’s lab coat on fire.
“They’re, they’re quite full on,” Derek says under his breath.
“Yeah,” Stiles says. “It will die down.”
It doesn’t. Not for a long time. People try to talk to Derek, try to talk to Erica and all the people he’s made friends with. Derek startles and can’t answer, and Stiles knows, he knows when he slips into Derek’s room one night what he’s going to hear.
“I can’t do it,” Derek whispers, terrified. “It’s too much.”
“I know,” Stiles says.
“How do you manage?”
Stiles shrugs. “That’s why I came here. To get rid of it all.”
Stiles leaves without another word, even when he hears Derek’s call out for him to wait.
After the semester is over, Stiles goes home. He transfers to the prestigious, local university because the hype didn’t die down. It just didn’t. Scott is sad, the girl he met is on the other side of the world. Stiles says sorry to him, and Scott gently punches him in the arm.
“Don’t be stupid. Heard at all from Derek?”
Stiles shakes his head.
It’s a long few months.
Stiles stays out of the local news a lot more than usual, spirit dimmed as he tries not to think about his time in America. As he tries not to think of Derek. He’s glad to see his father again, and Stiles even does the boring tasks he’s required to do as a prince without complaint.
It’s so fucking hard.
Tomorrow he’s got to greet some scholarship students who are spending the semester at the castle. Stiles’ mother had set up the program before she died, and it’s the only reason why Stiles doesn’t treat it like the rest of the pointless tasks he has to do.
“I think you’ll have a good time,” Scott says to him.
Stiles gives him a sceptical look.
“At least,” Scott frowns. “I hope so. I really hope so.”
It’s almost like he’s hinting at something but Stiles doesn’t know what. Dinner approaches – when he’s meeting the students – and Stiles drags himself out of bed and puts on some nice dress pants and a crisp, white shirt. He tries to style his hair with too much gel, the way he saw was done in America, but he can’t get it to work.
Stiles sighs. He should’ve been in the hall five minutes ago.
He walks slowly anyway, hoping the night won’t be a complete bore. As he approaches the hall doors he sees a figure waiting there. Stiles can’t see his face, just sees a lovely head of hair and Stiles’ mind instantly drifts to his time in America.
He thinks about Derek and his frown, Derek and his eyebrows, Derek and his ability to make Stiles’ heart flutter and the way his lips had felt and –
“Stiles?” comes a voice.
Stiles’ lets his gaze fall on the stranger. But it’s not a stranger, it’s Derek, eyes sharp and bright and scared. Stiles’ heart thumps, not sure at all what to say. He wants to say everything, wants to throw his arms around Derek and pretend that they’re in one of those shitty dorm rooms again.
“I – are you really here? I’m not making this up am I?” Stiles says, stumbling forward.
Derek snorts, running a hand through his hair. “I’m here for one of the scholarships. I didn’t want to surprise you – I can, I can go if you don’t want me here, it’s just, I had to see you again.”
Stiles blinks, lips parting, trying not to feel happy because things just don’t work out like this.
“You came for me?” he breathes.
“And for the opportunity,” Derek says quickly. “I do care about my education.”
Stiles’ smile is lopsided. “I know.”
He doesn’t let Derek finish. Stiles lurches forward and their chests collide. He puts his arms around Derek’s shoulders, wanting to feel his warmth, burying his face into Derek’s neck. It’s been months. It’s been months and there might be people around but Stiles doesn’t care, not when Derek’s arms are tight around him.
Stiles pulls back. “Are you here as a friend? As a friend or…?”
Derek licks his lips. “Uh, or,” he says purposefully. “Definitely. Is that okay?”
Stiles nods, and he can’t bring himself to let go of Derek just yet. They almost sway on the spot, holding each other, and then someone clears their throat behind them.
“Shit,” Stiles says, turning around. Derek’s cheeks go red and he takes a large step away from Stiles. “Dad, hi! Um. This is my friend Derek. We met in America, he um, he’s American. Americans hug like this all the time. Bro hugs. It’s a thing.”
His father raises an eyebrow, seeing right past him. “Uh huh. Well, I look forward to meeting your friend properly after this dinner, which was supposed to start fifteen minutes ago.”
Stiles flushes. “Sorry.”
His father smiles kindly at them both, and Derek stands up straighter. As they walk into the room Stiles catches Derek’s eye. Their hands brush together and Stiles can’t help but grin because he gets to have Derek again. He doesn’t know how long he has to keep it a secret but it won’t be forever, not when Derek is forever too.