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Cherrybomb

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Shit, shit, shit.  Stiles is so totally fucked.

On the rare occasions he gets made, he’s usually chased by an overweight cop or a part-time mall security guard who only gives half a fuck in the first place – someone who gives up after a quarter mile when it’s obvious they’re never going to catch Stiles anyway and rationalize that he’s just not worth their time.

This guy is not a fat mall cop.  This guy is a fucking Olympic athlete.  And while Stiles has a slight edge when it comes to agility, in the obstacle-free alley in what passes for the pathetic “downtown” section of Beacon Hills, this guy is rapidly cutting Stiles’ significant head start down to nothing.  If Stiles can just make it to the fence, he’ll probably be—

He doesn’t make it to the fence.

No, Stiles makes it face-first into the ground instead, his nose stopping mere centimeters above the concrete only because when homedude tackles him, he wraps an arm around Stiles’ chest first.  An enormous arm that’s currently squeezing Stiles hard enough that he can feel the flex of every muscle.  When Stiles tries to roll out of the grip, a broad, hard chest pins him to the ground and keeps him there.

“You’re not going anywhere, kid,” the guy growls in Stiles’ ear, and is it fucked up to be a little turned on by this?  Because Stiles is a little turned on by this.

And he’s got every reason to be a perfect little shit about it.  Since he can’t free himself from the guy’s grip, he arches up into it, rubbing his ass against the guy’s crotch.  “I think that’s a little inappropriate, officer,” he tries to purr, though it comes out as more of a wheeze.  “But I’m up for it if you are.”

The guy’s off him in a second, but Stiles is yanked up to his feet so fast that his world spins and his shoulder aches and he’s a second from screaming police brutality! when he gets a good look at the cop’s face. 

Holy shit.  Stiles was just tackled to the ground by a fucking underwear model with a badge.

So when the zip tie comes out and Stiles’ arms are yanked behind his back, he’s more than a little turned on by this.

&&&

Officer Derek “Nothing Comes Between Me and My Calvins” Hale is brand new to the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Office.  He had been, until very recently, one of New York’s finest, in fact.  Nobody seems to be saying much about him other than that, including why the hell he’d leave New York to come back to this shithole of a town.

Stiles finds all this out from a very loquacious transvestite (transgendered?  Stiles isn’t certain of the proper nomenclature here, but he wants to be respectful) prostitute as they both wait at the station to get processed.  Connie Lingus is quite impressed with Officer Hale, however, and she seems very regretful that he hasn’t been the one to bust her yet.  Stiles assures her that there’s still time.  This pleases Ms. Lingus greatly.

So when Hale comes out and yanks Stiles up by his still-aching arm without so much as a “stand up,” Connie shoots him a jealous pout and Stiles winks at her.

As Stiles gets dragged through the station, he hears variations on mumbles of “the Stilinski kid again,” which really isn’t fair, because he doesn’t actually get hauled in that often.  He likes to think of himself as a rumor on the wind of the fringes of Beacon Hills’ depressingly small dark side.

Which is probably an overly romanticized way of being known for cherrybombing toilets, but whatever. 

He’s been expanding his repertoire with small explosives lately.  Garbage cans, light fixtures, most recently a streetlight.  Which is what got him caught.  Not actually rigging the thing up, but standing around grinning like an idiot when he triggered it remotely and it blew.  This Hale guy just happened to be coming out of his favorite coffee place at the time and just happened to see the look on Stiles’ face, and Stiles probably wouldn’t even be here if he hadn’t run.  Hale was in plainclothes, but he had a badge around his neck and Stiles panicked.

He’s not panicking now, though.  Hale’s got nothing to definitively tie him to the exploding streetlight save for the remote in Stiles’ pocket, and that’s just a repurposed garage door opener whose only purpose is now in little pieces all over Third Street.

Hale slices through the zip tie with something Stiles doesn’t see, but must be frighteningly sharp.  Then the guy shoves Stiles down into a chair, walks around his desk, and sits, ignoring Stiles in favor of picking up the folder in front of him.  There’s a lot in that folder, but Stiles happens to know that “alleged” is the most frequent word in there, so if it’s intimidation Hale’s going for, it’s not going to work.

Stiles takes the opportunity to get a good look at fine, upstanding Officer Hale.  The shape of his shoulders and chest are perfectly evident through his dark gray Henley, and those arms, fuck.  New York must have infinitely higher standards of physical fitness, because most of the cops around here don’t look like they could do a single push-up.  Hale looks like he could bench press an armored tank.

And he’d been wearing a leather jacket before, which is probably a good thing, because if Stiles had gotten a look at the shoulder holster under it, he’d probably have run toward Hale, tongue first.  Speaking of, how would all that non-regulation stubble feel against Stiles’ tongue?  Scratchy-good or scratchy-bad?  Stiles is all about testing hypotheses, and not all of them involve black powder and public property.

Okay, Stiles needs to rein it in now before he has to reach down and adjust himself in his jeans.  Time to get this show on the road.  “Interesting reading, Officer Hale?”

Hale keeps reading for precisely 34 seconds – Stiles watches the ancient clock on the wall – before slapping the file closed and setting it on the desk.  “Not particularly.  High school senior with a tragic tale of misspent youth and wasted potential.  It’s almost cliché.”

Stiles wasn’t expecting that, and he rankles a little, though he tries not to show it.  Fucking cliché?  “Really.  You’ve seen someone melt a homecoming parade float with acetone?  Allegedly, I mean.”

“It’s all the same.  I’ve seen thousands of you.  You think you’re hot shit, too smart for your parents, your teachers.  Everyone.  And you are.  Someone just told you somewhere along the way that you were a fuck-up, and you believed them.  So you decided to be the best fuck-up in town.”

Now they’re back in familiar territory.  “That’s… that’s brilliant!” Stiles gasps.  “You’ve analyzed me perfectly!  I’ve seen the error of my ways and I shall repent.”

That doesn’t even get Hale to raise one of those distressingly thick eyebrows.  “You think you’ve been careful?  Or maybe just lucky?  You haven’t.  I’m going to tell you something that no one else here will tell you.  Anywhere else, you’d have been arrested ten times over.  You’d be in juvie.  You’re blowing shit up in an era where blowing shit up gets adults sent to Guantanamo.”

Stiles laughs.  “Really.  So… basically you’re saying all your new co-workers are completely incompetent?  Because I wouldn’t lead with that one at the Christmas party.”

“I’m saying all my new co-workers pity you.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“You heard me.  They feel sorry for you.   The town’s most decorated sheriff gets shot dead on a simple domestic call, leaving behind a wife and a ten-year-old son.  The wife, she has to work even longer hours to make ends meet.  So naturally, that son’s going to get a little rambunctious.  Act out a bit.  Best to just let him get it out of his system.”

Stiles’ jaw is on the fucking floor.  No one talks to him about his dad.  That’s the one rule around here.  Nothing Stiles has done has ever hurt anyone.  Will ever hurt anyone.  And no one talks about his dad.  When Stiles finally finds his voice, it’s broken glass and rusted nails.  “Fuck.  You.”

Hale continues like Stiles hadn’t said a word.  “But you’re running out of time to get it out of your system.  Looks like you’ve got about… five months.  Probably sounds like decades to you, but let me tell you, you pull shit like this the day you turn 18, they’re going to have to stop looking the other way.”

Stiles has said all he needs to say.  Anything more would be redundant.  But Hale keeps going.

“Do you even stop to think what this does to your mother, what she—”

Stiles is over the desk in a heartbeat, his fist connecting solidly with Derek’s jaw.  And it’s not like Stiles has been in a lot of fights – he’s not that guy – but he’s landed a punch before, and it didn’t feel like slamming his knuckles into a brick wall.  A stubbled brick wall.  Jesus, he might have just broken a finger, and Hale didn’t even flinch.

So fuck it – Hale wants to fight dirty, Stiles will fight dirty.  His fingernails aren’t long, but he claws at the cop’s face.  Or he tries to.  Hale has both of Stiles’ wrists locked together in one immensely broad hand, leaving Stiles sprawled humiliatingly on his stomach across the desk.  When Stiles tries to squirm away, Hale just grabs the back of Stiles’ hoodie with his other hand and hauls him the rest of the way over the desk – paper and pens flying everywhere – like Stiles weighs nothing at all.

Hale falls back into the chair with ease, and the way he’s holding Stiles means that Stiles ends up in his goddamn lap, their chests almost pressed together.  Stiles shoves back, and Derek – Officer fucking Hale – lets him, but just until Stiles is barely perched on the edge of Derek’s knees and leaning back against Derek’s side of the desk, Stiles’ wrists still solidly held in the guy’s iron grip.

Stiles swears he sees blue flash in Derek’s eyes, but it must be some weird effect of the flickering fluorescent bulb, because then they’re just intensely dark, focused on Stiles like nothing else exists or has ever existed.

“If you’re thinking I’m a total asshole, you’re right.  I have no right to talk about your family, and I’ll let you punch me again if you want to.”

Derek abruptly lets go of Stiles’ wrists, and Stiles’ hand throbs at the very thought of punching Derek.

To his credit, Derek doesn’t smirk.  “I won’t bring them up again.  I will, however, be the asshole that makes sure you get treated just like any other little punk who goes around skipping school and destroying public property.  Because that’s all you are to me until you prove otherwise.”

“You think that ‘Scared Straight’ shit is gonna work with me?” Stiles snaps, though his voice is about a dozen times as shaky as it should be.

This time, Derek does smirk.  “I have my methods.”  Then he shoves Stiles off his lap.  “Maybe you are lucky.  In New York, they could charge you as an adult starting at 16.  This time, you’ll probably get off with a fine and community service.”  He stands.  “Someone here usually drive you home?”

Stiles nods, not trusting his voice.

“Too fucking bad.  Phone’s right there.”

Even the call to his mom, the silent drive home, and her tears that start the moment the two of them get back to the house don’t stop Stiles from curling up in bed and jerking off to thoughts of Derek – Derek’s weight pressing him down, Derek’s stubble rubbing against his thighs – until his dick is almost as sore as his hand.

He really is a useless fuck-up.

&&&

Stiles goes to school when he needs to.  He shows up for the quizzes and tests and does fine, which only proves the fact that everything in between is basically unnecessary.

Besides, everyone there is pathetic.  It’s not like Stiles thinks of himself as Holden Caulfield or some shit like that, but everyone in the elaborate primate hierarchy that is high school treats him like he’s invisible anyway, so he doubts they even notice he’s gone.  Scott would’ve – but Scott’s dad moved clear across the country when they were in middle school, got a high-priced lawyer, and somehow got full custody of Scott just to spite his mom.  They Skype, but Stiles only gets to actually see Scott on two court-appointed weekends a year, at most.

His teachers treat him as if he’s invisible, too.  Maybe they even wish he actually was, since they long ago gave up on him.  When he’s in class, he’s forever fidgeting and asking questions (that he strongly suspects they don’t know the answers to), so everyone’s happier if Stiles just does the bare minimum to get by.

Stiles only dabbles in vandalism these days.  It was a kick when he was younger, but now he realizes there are only three types of people who are into tagging: the true artists, the gangbangers, and the stupid kids who can’t think of anything more creative to do.  Since Stiles is none of these (well, not the last one anymore), he doesn’t usually bother, but the town’s public library has just been painted, and the large, blank back of the building just begs for it, and Stiles does love paying homage to the classics.  He still hasn’t decided on the appropriate quote – not that 90% of the idiots in this town, even the ones who actually visit the library, will appreciate it.  Philistines.

But he’s barely got the can of spray paint out of his back before he hears a voice behind him say, “Graffiti?  Really?”

Okay, how the fuck did Derek – Officer Hale, Stiles has got to stop thinking of him as Derek – get behind him?  Stiles isn’t stupid; he knows no one was around just seconds ago.  But he’s not going to give Hale the satisfaction, so he just says, “Maybe you can help me out.  I’m trying to decide between the pithier ‘So it goes’ or the lengthier ‘Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.’”

To his surprise, Derek looks thoughtful.  “Pretty bleak choices there – a reminder of death or an actual epitaph.  I was more of a fan of Cat’s Cradle, myself.”

“Really, and you’re calling me bleak?”  All right, so the bastard knows his Vonnegut.  So fucking what?  “You following me now, Hale?”  It’s been four days since the incident at the station, and Stiles wasn’t expecting to see Derek again anytime soon.  Well, outside of his head.

“Heard from the truant officer that you weren’t at school today.  Budding intellectual that you are, I thought you might be here.”

That’s bullshit, but it’s bullshit in sinfully tight jeans and a worn leather jacket that Stiles’ hands actually itch to touch.  “Well, here I am.  Ta-da.”

Derek swaggers – there’s no other word for it – over to Stiles and plucks the can from his hands.  “Why don’t I take you back to school?  No phone calls this time.”

“You think you’re doing me a favor?” Stiles asks, but he’s already following Derek around the building to the parking lot.

“Hold that thought,” Derek says, sounding far too amused.  Then he holds out a key fob and presses a button, and the lights flash on a sleek black Camaro.

Holy shit.  If Stiles puts up a struggle, will Derek pin him up against that thing?  Bend him over the hood and put another zip tie around his wrists and grind his crotch against Stiles’ ass until—

Okay, that line of thought needs to stop right now while Derek still assumes Stiles is only drooling over the car.  “Good to know our tax dollars are being spent so sensibly.”

That gets an outright laugh.  “First of all, when you get a job and start paying taxes, then you can complain.  Second, this is my car.  I have a portable siren if I need it.  Third, which do you think is more effective in a car chase – an early ‘90s Crown Vic or this?”

“Get into a lot of high-speed pursuits in Beacon Hills, do you?” Stiles snarks, but he’s already climbing into the hugely-impractical, sexy-as-fuck car.  He doesn’t even care that his own Jeep’s parked at a gas station two blocks over.

“Not yet, but there’s always hope.”

The inside isn’t outfitted like a typical cruiser, but it’s got a radio, and a few moments after they pull out of the parking lot, Derek calls in his location.  He mentions a “truant high school kid,” but not Stiles or the spray paint, so Stiles figures this whole thing must have just been to scare him, to trick him into thinking Derek’s always watching him so Stiles will behave.

Fat fucking chance.

They get to the school in ten minutes, because who the hell is going to tell Derek to obey the speed limit?  Derek doesn’t say a word all the way there, and if he’s trying to get Stiles to spill about his horrible tragic childhood, it’s not working, because Stiles is too busy watching Derek’s hand on the gearshift.  And trying to subtly check out the backseat, which – no, no way in hell are two grown men (well, one overgrown, gangly kid and a bodybuilder) going to be able to fit back there.  It’s a damn shame.

But then Derek’s pulling up in front of the school, telling Stiles to get his ass in the building, using nothing but his eyebrows.  Is that something they teach at the New York police academy?  “You shouldn’t have,” Stiles says.

“You’re welcome.”

“No, I mean you really shouldn’t have.  I’m just in time for chemistry.  I could go in there and invent ice-nine and destroy the world.”

“I’ll take my chances,” Derek says.

Stiles rolls his eyes and heads up the steps.  Great, fine, Derek’s proven his point – Stiles is just going to have to be more careful.  No way is Derek catching him next time.

&&&

Except he totally does.

Usually before Stiles even does what he’s planning to do.  He gets his stash of illegal fireworks confiscated when he’s setting up an impromptu light show behind the water tower.  It’s pitch-black outside and Stiles lets out a very manly shriek when the beam of his small flashlight flashes on Derek’s face.  Once again, Stiles hadn’t heard a thing.

“What the hell, man?  Are you some kind of bomb-sniffing dog?”

Derek actually laughs at that, but he’s also packing up and carting off at least three years’ worth of pilfered pyrotechnics that are probably just going to rot in an evidence locker somewhere.  Or worse, Derek’s going to stage his own fireworks show – just like Stiles is sure that most of the weed that gets confiscated in Beacon Hills somehow ends up in the pocket of that one officer who Stiles has never seen without a bag of Fritos in his hand.

Derek doesn’t always get there in time, but it seems like he’s always there.  Stiles tries to sneak a copy of Skyrim under his jacket, and Derek’s the first one there when the alarms go off.

Derek takes a look at the game.  “Huh.  I had you pegged for an Assassin’s Creed kind of guy.”

“If I wanted to see American history being butchered, I’d go to school,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes to disguise his shock.  He has a really hard time picturing Derek with an Xbox.  “Plus: dragons.”

The manager decides not to press charges, though he makes Stiles actually buy the game, and fuck, there’s $60 down the drain.  Not that Stiles didn’t want the damn thing in the first place, but it’s not like he can hold down a job, and as much as his mom works, they still have a hard time breaking even.  What’s worse is the look on the manager’s face.  Not anger.  Anger, Stiles could deal with.  For the first time, he’s paying attention, and he thinks he sees resignation, maybe even pity.  It pisses him off.

But it turns out that was getting off easy, because Derek’s true to his word and files official reports whenever he catches Stiles doing something illegal.  Most of it doesn’t stick, but he does get a few more fines – increasing amounts that his mom really can’t afford.  And he can’t even get good and drunk without Derek hauling his ass in to spend the night in the holding cell at the station.

Stiles can’t figure out if it would be better or worse if Derek weren’t so fucking hot.  Stiles has only ever seen him in plainclothes, but when he shows up in Stiles’ fantasies, half the time he’s in full uniform.  And there are handcuffs.   Hey, Stiles is totally allowed to be a walking cliché when a guy who looks like that keeps showing up in his life, frowning as though he’d like nothing more than to turn Stiles over his knee for a spanking.

Which, hey, that’s a good cliché, too.

But Stiles isn’t stupid – he knows the juvie court takes his record into account every time he’s charged with something, and his record is growing fast.  They’re mostly just infractions, the occasional misdemeanor, and it all gets wiped clean when he turns 18… but then he’ll be charged as an adult.  So he really, really needs Officer Hale off his back.

Or Officer Hale on his back.  Either will do.  Both would be awesome.

Stiles is actually pretty mad at himself that he didn’t think to do a simple Google search on the good officer right after they met.  The most recent hits are news articles chronicling his heroics in New York.  And they are pretty damn heroic: drug busts that brought down cartels, hostage situations that ended in shootouts, even a car chase through Brooklyn.

Even though Derek seemed to have joined the force soon after high school, his record is a little too impressive for someone his age – he can’t be more than 24.  It seems he made a name for himself a little over two years ago by rescuing a kidnapped girl, and then somehow managed to get involved in every dangerous situation since then.

It appears like the NYPD figured that out, too.  It’s hard to tell from the newspaper articles – which never have a good picture of Derek’s face, but there’s no mistaking the name or that body – but statements from witnesses or other cops usually seem to indicate that Derek wasn’t technically supposed to be wherever it was that shit went down.  He just showed up out of nowhere and saved the day.  And never managed to get seriously injured – at least, not from what Stiles reads.

There’s no way Derek could be actively involved in starting all those different types of crimes all over the city, setting himself up to be the hero.  Well, without being some kind of major crime boss, which he obviously isn’t.  Where would he find the time?  But if Stiles can put it together and find it a little suspicious, he’s willing to bet Derek’s superiors did, too.  Maybe that’s why he left New York.  But why come to a tiny little place on the other side of the country like Beacon Hills?

Past the first few pages of Google results, Stiles gets his answer – Derek grew up here.  Even went to Beacon Hills High School and played varsity baseball.

Until his entire family burned to death in their home.  Only Derek and his older sister Laura survived.

Jesus.  That was nine years ago, and Derek was just 15.  Maybe that’s why no one at the station talks about him – they all already know.  Stiles can’t remember it, of course, but he does remember his father occasionally referring to “that horrible fire.”  Did Derek meet Stiles’ dad?  He would’ve been involved in the investigation at the very least, even if he wasn’t actually at the scene.

Except he was, because there’s a grainy, black and white picture of Stiles’ dad draping a blanket over the shoulders of a boy whose face is turned away from the camera.  There’s no caption, but the kid has to be Derek.

It makes Stiles furious.  There’s not much that whips Stiles into an honest-to-god rage, but for some reason, this innocuous, decade-old photo makes him want to break something, hurt someone.  Hurt Derek.  Forget punching that brick wall of a face; Stiles imagines getting his fingers around Derek’s throat, squeezing and squeezing until Derek’s face turns red, his eyes bugging out in desperation…

It scares the hell out of Stiles, how strong the urge is, how vivid the fantasy – he has to look down to see that his hands are clenched painfully around the edge of his desk.  He not only closes the tab, he deletes the browser history, as if that could wipe the image of his own father practically hugging Derek fucking Hale.  It doesn’t matter that Derek was just a kid at the time.  It doesn’t even matter that Derek had just lost not just one, but eleven members of his family.  All that matters is Stiles’ dead father comforting the guy who’s currently making Stiles’ life a living hell.

Stiles doesn’t even try to be sneaky.  He ditches school the next day, driving his impossible-to-miss blue Jeep too fast through town, out to the edge of the woods where there’s an old abandoned car in a ditch.  It’s been there for years, and Stiles has been saving it for something good.  He’s been trying to get his hands on some thermite, but a few gallons of gasoline are going to have to do.

He’s just finished dumping the gas and trailing a line of black powder to a safe(ish) distance when the Camaro pulls up and Derek gets out, looking stupidly hot as usual.  Stiles fists his hands at his sides and waits for Derek to speak first.  After a few long moments, he asks, “So, what’s the illegal science project of the day?  Gonna try to bust out the windows with sound waves?”

Stiles doesn’t have to say a word, because the wind, which had been blowing away from them, suddenly stilled, and Stiles could tell Derek caught the smell the gasoline even before Stiles did.

If he hadn’t been specifically looking for it, Stiles might not have seen the way Derek’s eyes widen slightly, a muscle in his jaw twitching.  But Stiles is watching, and he sees that he’s found just the right nerve.

“Stiles,” Derek says slowly, “We’re right on the edge of the woods.  And with this wind, if even a spark—”

“Oh, that’s right,” Stiles says sweetly.  “I forgot.  You’re the expert on fire.”

And then he lights a match.

This time Derek’s eyes do turn an icy blue – Stiles is sure of it – but he has no time at all to process it because the match is blown out and he’s face down on the grass with an arm twisted painfully behind him.  This time, Derek’s full weight isn’t on him, but Derek’s knee is pressing into his lower back, right into his kidney, hard enough to make tears spring to Stiles’ eyes.  Whatever, it just makes it easier for him to twist the knife.

“So I’m you’re little pet project, huh?  Thought you’d play the hero again by stepping in to save the sheriff’s little boy from himself?”

“That’s not—”

But Stiles has no intention of letting Derek talk.  “When were you going to have us bond over our tragic pasts?  You want to throw my dad’s death in my face, tell me it’s made me into the fuck-up I am today?  Well, let’s talk about your little hero complex, which I’m guessing has something to do with the death of your entire family.”

“Shut up, Stiles,” Derek growls, his voice more animal than human, and though his knee lets up a little on Stiles’ back, all Stiles can see is that picture of his dad, hand on young Derek’s shoulder like he’s his own son.

“You want to know what I think?  I think you blame yourself.  They never did find out what happened, did they?  All they know is that it was a chemical fire.  Do you blame yourself because it really was you?  Is that why you want to save everyone else, a guilty conscience?  Why you want to save me?”

Derek roars – Stiles has never heard a sound like that in his whole life – and it feels like he flings himself away from Stiles, leaving Stiles’ face still in the dirt.

When Stiles gets up, slowly, he’s a little surprised to see Derek still standing there, staring at him like he’s filth.  “You want to ruin your life?  Fucking fine with me.”

“It’s none of your goddamn business what I do with my life!” Stiles yells, shocked at the volume of his own voice.

Hale nods once, jaw so tight he looks like he’s too furious to speak, as if he could actually glare Stiles to death.  Finally, though, he stalks over, rips the box of matches from Stiles’ hand, and then makes him turn out his pockets.  Wordlessly, he searches Stiles’ backpack and the Jeep’s glove compartment, taking away a lighter he finds there.  Stiles isn’t sure it’s legal for Derek to search his car like this, but Stiles is actually panting with rage, and there’s nothing for Derek to find, anyway.  He just wants Derek gone.  Out of his life for good.

When Derek pockets the matches and the lighter and goes back to the Camaro, Stiles is pretty sure he’s going to get his wish.  Though of course, Hale has to get in a parting shot.  “You think you’re only hurting yourself, but you’re wrong.  You’ve still got somebody left to hurt.”

Just when Stiles thought it wasn’t physically possible to get any angrier, Derek shuts himself in the Camaro and guns the engine so that he can’t even hear the raw, bloody scream by the time it finally makes its way out of Stiles’ mouth.

Stiles has to sit in the Jeep for a full ten minutes before his hands stop shaking enough for him to drive.  Even then, he has to take it grandma-slow, because his reflexes for doing things like stopping at red lights seem to have disappeared completely.  Miraculously, he makes it back home.

At first, he’s surprised to find the house empty.  Then he realizes it’s barely noon – of course, his mom’s still at work.  Even so, once he gets upstairs to his bedroom and vomits bile into the trash can, he holds a pillow to his face as he keeps screaming and screaming.

&&&

The next time Stiles opens his eyes, he hears the front door open.  He looks at the clock – 5:30.  His mom’s home, and at a decent hour, too.  At some point, he must have either fallen asleep or passed out.  Either way, his face is now crusted with the dried remnants of snot and tears.

He stumbles to the bathroom and the face that stares back at him in the mirror looks about 12 years old.  Only he knows he didn’t look so pathetic and empty at 12.  That was just before Scott left, just before he bought his first dozen cherrybombs from a high school kid.  It would be another two months before he would work up the courage to use one on his neighbor’s mailbox, before he felt his first rush from the simple act of doing something he wasn’t supposed to, something dangerous. 

His mom had been furious.  When had that stopped?  When had she realized that Stiles wasn’t worth the anger?

As Stiles washes his face, he realizes that’s not a rhetorical question.  He actually wants to know the answer, even if it hurts.  There must have been some point when the scales tipped and he went from “good kid with problems” to “problem kid.”

The walk downstairs feels like trudging through muck, but it’s nothing compared to the moment his mom sees his face.  She drops the mail – just drops it, right there on the floor – and gapes.  “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?”

There are a thousand things that Stiles means to say, ask, beg – but all that comes out is a weak “Mom.”

She’s there in an instant, arms around Stiles, a hand rubbing across his back.  It takes a dozen choked breaths before he can say, “I’m sorry, Mom.  I’m so, so sorry.”

She just holds him tighter and he realizes he can’t even remember the last time they hugged.  “I love you so much,” she says, and it’s like a knife to his gut.  “Whatever’s happened, I love you.  Nothing you can do will ever change that.”

“I know,” he sobs, tears starting to fall again as the words pour out, jumbled and nearly unbearable.  “And I didn’t— Not this time.  I almost, but I didn’t.  But then I kind of… did?  I’m sorry for… for being me.  I’m just sorry.”

She pulls back to look at him, putting a hand on his cheek.  He’s been taller than her since he was 14, but she can still pin him to the spot with a single look.  “Never apologize for who you are.  Only for what you do.”

“Then I’m sorry for everything.  All the stupid shit I do.”

She doesn’t even admonish him for the swear word, just pulls him close again and whispers, “I’m the one who should be apologizing.  I just—I haven’t known how to talk to you for so long.  I’ve been so afraid of saying the wrong thing that I haven’t said anything.  Not even how much I love you.”

“You say that sometimes.”

“But do you believe it?”

Stiles doesn’t know how to answer that.  He’s always sort of known that his mom loves him, because good mothers love their children, and she’s a good mother.  She works so hard and always gives Stiles more than he deserves.  But she doesn’t know the things he’s done.  She knows that he skips school sometimes and that he gets in trouble.  If she knew the details…  Who could love that?

“Mom, you don’t know.”

“What don’t I know?”

Stiles takes a deep breath.  “All the things I’ve—”

“Blown up?  Stolen?  Spray-painted penises on?  Though the way I hear it, you’ve long moved past your penis graffiti stage.”

Stiles’ arms and his jaw go immediately slack, all rational thought gone, because a) his mom knows about his unofficial criminal record, and b) his mom just said “penis.”  Twice.  “You know?”

“Sweetie, I didn’t stop having friends in the sheriff’s office after your father… after he was killed.  I have lunch with Janice all the time.”

Janice is the ancient receptionist that Stiles blows kisses to whenever he’s brought to the station.  Suddenly, something slots into place in his brain and he feels incredibly childish for not having known: his mom has a life.  She doesn’t just work and cook and fret about Stiles.  She has friends she goes to lunch with while Stiles is out destroying things.  “But… if you knew…”

Now Stiles’ mom looks away, flushing with shame, and Stiles just keeps finding lower and lower emotional depths to sink to.  “That’s why I need to apologize.  After all those therapists didn’t work, after you were kicked off the lacrosse team, I didn’t know what to do.  I thought anything I said would make it worse, make you want to rebel even more.  You weren’t hurting anyone and you were still managing to pass your classes, if only barely, so I guess I thought… I thought you just needed to get the anger out of your system.”

And there it is – almost the exact words Derek had used the day they met.  “I think…” Stiles starts, his throat desert-dry.  “I think it might have finally worked its way out.”

Stiles’ mom looks alarmed, but she doesn’t let go of his arms.  “I know I’ve never said this before, but you’ve been really brave today, so… I want you to tell me.  Everything.  I won’t… well, I can’t promise I won’t get angry, but I need to know.”

Stiles nods, and he’s surprised to find that he does want to talk.  “There’s… there’s this cop.  Officer Hale.”

“Derek Hale?”

“You know about him?”

“Honey, every woman – and a good number of the men – working for or around the sheriff’s office knows about Derek Hale.  I didn’t know you knew about Derek Hale, though.”  She looks suddenly suspicious.  “You two aren’t—”

“No, nothing like that!” Stiles yelps.  Not outside my head, he doesn’t add.  There’s another talk he needs to have with his mom, but that definitely needs to wait for another day.  “He’s just been… looking out for me, I guess?  He said everyone on the force was treating me differently because… because of Dad, and he wasn’t going to do that.  So he’s been, like, trying to stop me from doing stuff.  And making sure I get in trouble if I actually do it.”

“I see,” his mom says evenly.  “That explains the fines.”

Stiles soldiers on into the worst of it.  “But I didn’t know until yesterday about the fire.  I mean, I sort of remember Dad talking about a fire, but I didn’t know it was the Hales who… I didn’t know it was Derek’s family.”

Stiles’ mom nods.  “It was awful.  Your dad was one of the first ones on the scene, but there was nothing he could do.  He was there when Derek got home from school and saw the fire.  Derek was… he must have been about your age then, maybe a little younger.  Your father just felt terrible for him and his sister, but especially Derek.  He kept saying how horrible it would be if it were his own— Oh.”

And Stiles doesn’t even have to say there was this picture or it’s not fair or that should have been me because his mom just knows, somehow.  Maybe it’s a mom thing, or maybe it’s a Mrs. Stilinski thing – Stiles really should have been paying better attention all this time.

“I kind of… baited him today,” Stiles says to the floor, because he can’t look his mom in the eye.  “And I said some stuff… some really terrible stuff.  On purpose.”

“Well, then you’ll apologize for it.”

That makes Stiles look up in shock.  “Mom!”

“Exactly.  It’s time for me to start being a mom.  And you don’t have to tell me what you said, because I know exactly how sharp that tongue of yours can be, but you will apologize to Officer Hale.”

“Mom, I…”  Stiles feels a hot flush start to rise up his neck.  “I don’t think I can look him in the face again.  Ever.  Also, he has a gun.”

“There’s this fancy new invention I believe you’re aware of, since you have one in your back pocket.  It’s called the telephone.  I’m told nearly everyone has one these days.”

The hint of a smile playing at her mouth finally makes Stiles’ heart begin to descend from where it had lodged in his throat.  “I don’t know, I was thinking more along the lines of a telegram.  Or the Pony Express.  Are there still carrier pigeons?”

The smile breaks full across her face, but her eyes are unwavering.  “Joke about it all you want, as long as you do it.  And Janice can tell me whether or not she’s patched you through.”

Fuck, she’s actually really good at this “mom” thing.  Why that’s what finally makes Stiles’ eyes well with tears, he doesn’t know, but he does put his arms around her again and hold her tight.  “I love you, too.  I know I’ve been a really bad son, but I love you.”

“You’ve never been a bad son.  I’ll admit I’m biased, but I’m also the only one qualified to make that call.  You’re too smart by half, you’re angry and you’re lonely and you’re in pain, but you’re not bad.  You never were.”

Stiles buries his stupid, watery smile against his mom’s hair.  “So you don’t think I’m a fuck-up?”

“No, but don’t think I won’t wash your mouth out with soap, young man.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

&&&

Surprisingly, the cherrybombs aren’t all that hard to give up.  Stiles’ mom gives him unlimited permission to destroy any of his own personal property in the backyard – at an appropriate distance from the house, of course – but the “permission” and the “his own property” thing kind of take away the fun.

He does give therapy another go and really tries this time.  It’s amazing how different it is when he walks into the session of his own volition, not convinced he’s going to hate the therapist at any cost.  That’s not to say he doesn’t hate her sometimes or try to skip the occasional appointment (which his mom never lets him do), but it turns out all that “opening up about it” shit has some merit.  The anger doesn’t go away, but he learns how to control it, how to feel it move through him and let it go.

The worst is school.  Most of the teachers are surprised to see him around regularly.  One or two of them actually seem happy.  Mr. Harris just seems pissed off that he isn’t going to get to fail Stiles.  But even in the better classes, he can’t keep still.  His brain takes something the teacher says and spins off with it until he’s wondering if a Molotov cocktail is named for a real person when he’s called on to talk about the symbolism of eyes in The Great Gatsby.

(It totally is, by the way – some Soviet dickhead unfortunately named Vyacheslav Molotov who pissed off the Finnish.  The Finnish.  Who knew?  Other than Google.)

Still, he knows the exact number of days he can afford to ditch before they automatically fail him, and he’s got a few left.  So he metes them out, one at a time when he really, truly can’t take it, and deals with the subsequent groundings.

His 18th birthday present is a surprise visit from Scott, plane ticket paid for by Stiles’ mom (and Stiles knows exactly how lucky he is – the therapy is already straining their budget to the breaking point).  The most amazing part is that Scott managed to keep it a secret through several of their weekly Skype calls.

“Yeah,” Scott admits, scratching the back of his neck.  “I kind of had to put a Post-it note above the monitor that said DON’T TELL STILES ABOUT THE THING.”

He’s already 18 and is planning to move back to Beacon Hills after he graduates.  Apparently, he’s been working for a local veterinarian in New Jersey, but he spoke to Beacon Hills’ one and only vet, who said Scott could have a job while he took courses to get his assistant certification.

Stiles is too focused on holding everything together until he graduates to think about what he’s going to do after.  He tells himself it’ll be a clean slate – just like his police record, which got sealed like magic on his birthday.

And Stiles did call Derek to apologize, though it took three weeks of his mom’s nagging after their initial conversation to get him to pick up the phone.  She promised not to listen in, though.

“Stiles!” Janice said, when he identified himself.  “Never expected to hear your voice on this line.”

Me neither, Stiles thought grimly, but asked politely to be patched through to Officer Hale.  He didn’t know how much the rest of the department knew about Derek’s one-man quest to save Stiles from himself, but Janice’s complete lack of surprise when he made the request was a pretty good indicator.

After a few rings, Stiles heard a click and a gruff “Derek Hale.”

“Uh, hi, Officer Hale.”

“Stiles,” Derek growled, and he didn’t sound at all pleased to hear from him, but Stiles was still amazed how the gravel of Derek’s voice could make him shiver all the way down to his toes – and not in fear.

He had had this whole thing scripted out in his head, but he hadn’t written it down and Derek’s voice made him go completely blank.  “Did you want something?” Derek snapped, nothing but impatience, but at least it sparked Stiles’ memory.

“Yes!  I wanted to… to apologize.  For what I said to you.  And what I was about to do.  I was— There were reasons I was angry that day, but they don’t excuse the things I said.  I’m sorry.  You didn’t deserve that.  I know you were trying to help me, and I was a total dick about it.”

There was a long pause, though Stiles could still hear Derek breathing.  Finally, he said, “Is that all?”

That was really not what Stiles was expecting.  He hadn’t expected them to make friends or anything, but he at least thought Derek would have accepted his apology.  Or gotten righteously pissed off.  So he tried again.  “Uh, I really am sorry.”

“I have work to do.”

And the line went dead.

It was Stiles’ first lesson that even the best intentions can’t tie everything up into a neat little bow.

&&&

His second lesson hits him even harder, because naturally everything goes great.  Until it doesn’t.

They won’t let him walk.  He’ll graduate – and by more than the bare minimum, though not much more – but he’s not allowed to sit with the rest of his class and hear his name called and walk across the stage to get a diploma.  They’ll mail it to him.  Something about his truancy record and disrespect for teachers and that incident in the chem lab at the beginning of the year.  Stiles strongly suspects that Harris had something to do with this.

It’s such a stupid fucking punishment – he’s graduating, for god’s sake, that should be the only thing that’s important.  It shouldn’t bother him that he doesn’t get to parade in a cheap red polyester gown in front of a bunch of his Neanderthal  classmates, none of whom he gives a shit about anyway.

But Stiles has to tell his mom, and the look on her face… The disappointment that she quickly covers – but not quickly enough – isn’t directed at him, he knows that.  Especially after she reassures him that she’s no less proud of him, then walks away muttering something about “academic fascists” and “can’t pull their heads out of their own asses” that Stiles is pretty sure he’s not meant to hear.

Still, his mom is disappointed.  If he had gotten his shit together a little sooner, his mom wouldn’t be disappointed.  And she would get to see, in front of everybody, that Stiles did something right for once.

His therapist suggests he attend the ceremony – which he’s invited to, of course, just to rub his nose in it – and it’s just about the most idiotic piece of advice he’s ever heard.  He doesn’t storm out of the session like he wants to, but he doesn’t hear a word she says for the rest of the hour.

It flips some kind of switch in his brain and he starts planning again.  He wants to destroy something, watch something crumble or burn or explode and think “I did that.”  He wants to do something nobody can ignore.  The problem is, when he starts planning, he stops thinking.

There’s an abandoned railway station just outside of town – he used to go there to do test runs, see how much powder he needed or figure out the ignition timing.  It’s all concrete and metal and glass – not exactly easy to destroy (which is why he picked it as his testing grounds in the first place).  But he doesn’t want to take down the building – or he does, but he knows he can’t – so maybe taking out one of the railway cars will be enough.

He can get most of what he needs from the hardware store, and the rest can be pilfered from the chem lab on the last few days of school while Harris is taking a smoke break.  He stocks the stuff in the back of his closet and bides his time, only feeling a little bit sick whenever his mom smiles at him like he’s finally turned into a good kid.  Except he’s not, he never was, and she’s going to have to find out sooner or later.

She doesn’t expect him to go to the graduation ceremony, at least.  When she leaves for work that morning, she kisses the top of Stiles’ head and says, “I’m proud of you, kiddo.  Stay out of trouble.”

As soon as she leaves, he throws up a stomachful of Lucky Charms into the sink.

In a fit of nostalgia, he plays Evil Dead all day, trying not to think about those morons who sit (well, sat) next to him in class walking across the platform set up in the dinky auditorium and waving stupidly to their families.  Stiles keeps on destroying virtual things until it’s time to destroy real ones.

Fortunately for him, his mom is working late, so Stiles waits to set out until the sun begins to go down.  It’s been an unusually cold May, and even though he’s layered up and the heat in the Jeep is actually working, he just can’t seem to get warm.  He’ll be warm soon enough, though.

He parks the Jeep in the field around back, where it can’t be seen from the road – not that there are any cars on the road, anyway.  Lugging all the stuff inside is a pain in the ass, but even he’s not stupid enough to have mixed it at home and driven it over here.

When he starts combining the chemicals, carefully measuring them out and putting them together in the right order, his mind is completely calm, focused.  He ends up with four corked flasks full of volatile liquid that should combust if they’re subjected to enough force.  Like being chucked into a train car.

He takes the first flask and holds it up to the light.  The mixture is almost clear – you could almost mistake it for slightly rusty water.  Stiles positions himself at a good angle so that he can throw the flask through the open door of the car.  If he aims them right, he might be able to cave the walls in with the heat, watch it burn from the inside out.  He cranks his arm back, readying for the throw.

And someone grabs his wrist, so hard that the flask slips out of his hand.

Then the hand is immediately gone, and it’s a good thing Stiles’ first instinct is to take off running anyway, so maybe he won’t immediately burn to death.  After a second, though, the fact that his back isn’t on fire tells him that he fucked up the mixture.  After two seconds, he realizes he never even heard the flask hit the ground.

He hesitates ever so slightly, knowing he should just keep hauling ass but also wanting to know who in the hell was fast enough to keep them both from bursting into flames.  He doesn’t turn around, but he gets his answer when he’s tackled, a familiar arm coming around to keep his face from hitting the floor.  Again.

“Derek?” Stiles asks, shock giving way to anger as the body pinning him down doesn’t move.  “What the fuck are you doing here?

“Other than keeping you from committing second degree arson?” Derek rasps.

“How did you even know where I was?”

Naturally, Derek doesn’t bother to answer the question.  “That’s five to ten years in prison, Stiles.  If you had thrown that, you’d officially be a felon.”

“So fucking what?” Stiles yells, struggling to get some kind of leverage to move and failing completely.  “It’s going to happen eventually.  Might as well get a head start.”

“Why would you say that?  You’ve been doing so well.”

That only serves to piss Stiles off even more.  “How the hell would you know?  You made it pretty clear you’d washed your hands of me.  Unless… oh my god, have you been watching me this whole time?  That’s not surveillance, that’s fucking creepy.”

“Is it?  To keep tabs on a kid who managed to pull himself together and then almost threw his whole life away just now?

Derek pulls up enough for Stiles to flip himself over on his back, and he has no idea why he thought that would be a good idea, because he’s still shoving futilely at a wall of solid muscle, except now he has Derek’s disturbingly penetrating glare to contend with.  “Fuck you.  You don’t know anything.”

“I know more than you think.  And I’m not letting you do this.”

“Why do you even care?” Stiles all but screams.  His eyes and throat are burning, but not from the chemicals.

“Because you’re so much better than this.”

Stiles fists his hands in Derek’s shirt – if he can’t hit him (without hurting himself) and he can’t get away, he’s damn sure going to take it out on something, even if it’s only fabric.  “Maybe I’m not.  Maybe this is just who I am,” he grits out.

“It doesn’t have to be.”

“Look, I know what happened to you is a thousand times worse than what happened to me and you still turned out all well-adjusted and shit—”

Stiles’ thinks it’s supposed to be a laugh, but what comes out of Derek’s mouth is a rolling growl that Stiles can feel at every point where their bodies are touching.  Which is to say: everywhere.  “I’m not well-adjusted,” Derek says, his voice deeper and rougher than Stiles has ever heard it.

Stiles ignores the way his whole body lights up like a pinball machine on tilt and gets right in Derek’s face.  “Yeah right, Mr. Heroic Resc—”

Then Stiles suddenly isn’t talking anymore, because Derek’s mouth is on his.  Derek’s mouth.  Is on his.  And Stiles has a split-second to think that New York cops must be allowed to get away with some dirty, underhanded interrogation techniques before he isn’t thinking at all, because Derek’s hand is cupping his face, thumb pressing at Stiles’ chin until he opens his mouth just a little, and oh, that’s Derek’s tongue, distressingly gentle across Stiles’ lips but still firm enough to make his whole body shiver.

Derek must feel it, because he pulls away.  “I’m—”

Stiles doesn’t give a fuck what Derek is as long as he keeps kissing him, so Stiles yanks hard with his hands still twisted in Derek’s shirt until he gets Derek’s mouth back.  As an added bonus, he also gets more of Derek’s weight pressing him down onto the cold concrete floor, which is not great for his back but is doing all kinds of good things for his front.  Maybe it’s just the contrast with the floor and the night air, but Derek’s whole body is hot – like, furnace hot – and Stiles can feel all that muscle shift against him as Derek leans up and in to press deeper into Stiles’ mouth.

Derek is kissing him.  Fuck, Stiles is being kissed by Derek fucking Hale, hot and deep and urgent like Derek’s starving for it, like he can’t get enough of Stiles and has no intention to stop trying.  And it’s so good, spine-meltingly good, with Derek’s tongue doing dirty little sweeps of Stiles’ mouth before letting Stiles reciprocate.  One of them groans – hand to god, Stiles can’t tell if it’s him or Derek – and Stiles feels it all the way down to his toes and back up again, heat catching low in his belly on the way up.  He might be embarrassed if Derek weren’t grinding his hips down shamelessly, friction condensing the hazy pleasure into something sharp.  Also hard.  And growing harder by the minute.

This time, when Derek pulls away, Stiles doesn’t try to stop him, because they both know where this is heading, and Stiles may be a horny, inexperienced teenage boy, but he’s aware that they’d be skipping quite a few important steps.  Good steps, steps Stiles doesn’t want to miss out on.  (Plus: concrete floor.  Ouch.)

So the first thing he says when Derek pushes up and off him is “Don’t you fucking dare apologize for that.”

“Wasn’t gonna,” Derek mumbles as he rolls over to lie beside Stiles.  They must make quite a picture, sprawled breathlessly on the dirty floor a few feet away from enough chemicals to set fire to a train car.

It’s oddly romantic.

Stiles waits until the silence gets weird to finally ask, “So have you been watching me this whole time?”

“Didn’t have to,” Derek says.  “Janice is a well-informed woman who enjoys visiting my desk whenever I’m trying to do paperwork.”  He pauses.  “That, and sometimes I go up on your roof and watch you through the window while you sleep.”

Stiles flails as he rolls over on his side to face Derek.  “Oh my god, seriously?”

Derek frowns at him.  “What do you think?”

“I think you give off just enough of a creeper vibe for that to be plausible.”

“Stiles, I’m a cop.”

“Exactly!  You’ve got access to surveillance equipment and you’re probably trained in all kinds of stealth tactics and god knows what the Patriot Act lets you do to a delinquent teenager with a cherrybomb problem.”  He pauses.  “An alleged former cherrybomb problem.”

Derek cocks an eyebrow.  “How did you manage to pass U.S. Government?”

Schoolhouse Rock is on YouTube,” Stiles says defensively.  “And you’re deflecting.”

That earns him a glare.  “No, I did not sit on your roof and watch you sleep.  You don’t think someone would’ve noticed me going up there?”

Okay, so creepy Mr. Burke next door has a window facing Stiles’ room and never shuts his blinds, so the roof thing is unlikely.  Still… “How did you know I was here?”

“Janice told me they wouldn’t let you walk at graduation and you were really upset about it.  I was worried you’d do something stupid, so I drove by your house a couple of times today, and the last time, your Jeep was gone.”

“Yeah, but how did you know I was here?  You didn’t follow me.”

“I know you’ve blown stuff up here before, so I went on a hunch.”

It still sounds kind of fishy to Stiles, but now that his head’s clearer – thanks to that kiss, holy fuck, that shit’s better than Adderall – he realizes how close he came to doing something he couldn’t take back.  “I thought you didn’t care about me anymore.  After what I said.”  Stiles hates how fragile his voice sounds, how young.

Derek stares back up at the ceiling and doesn’t answer for a long time.  “I didn’t want to care.  Even when you called, I was still angry.  But… I like you, Stiles.  Um, obviously.  You want people to underestimate you, so they do.  It’s easier to let yourself feel like a permanent fuck-up than to risk failing at something important.  I didn’t want to watch you go down that road when I had to fight so hard to keep from going down it myself.”

Stiles doesn’t even know what to say to that.  He never expected any of that from Derek, least of all a verbal admission that he actually likes Stiles.  That’s… pretty novel.  “Thanks.  Thanks for not giving up on me, I guess.”

Derek turns his head to face Stiles again, a smirk playing on his mouth.  “Besides, you as a career criminal?  You’d make my life a living hell.”

Stiles laughs, then groans.  “Oh god, don’t bring up careers.  I’ve got a diploma, but I still have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.”

“You could always join the force,” Derek says so casually that there’s absolutely nothing casual about it.

Stiles gapes.  “Was that…  With the…?”  He gestures spastically.  “A recruiting strategy?”

He expects Derek to glare at him some more, but instead he gets a thoughtful frown.  “Did it work?”

Stiles blinks.  Should he?  “Almost.  Still not quite convinced.”

Derek rolls toward him again.  “Perhaps I can be more persuasive this time.”

&&&
Four Months Later
&&&

Hnnnngh, fuck,” Stiles wheezes.  “How is it that you’re not even sweating?  I’m dying over here and you still haven’t broken a sweat.”

They both slow to a jog as they near the end of their run.  The sight of the Camaro through the trees nearly makes Stiles burst into tears with joy.  Instead, he wheezes a little more.

Derek, the bastard, just laughs.  “Buck up, cadet.  A couple months from now, they’re going to have you running seven miles a day.”

“How long was today’s?”

“About four and a half miles.”

“Motherfucker,” Stiles groans, struggling to walk around slowly to cool down instead of just collapsing into the soft-looking leaves on the ground.  He can’t even look at Derek – except, yeah, he totally can, because Derek’s shirt had come off somewhere around mile two and the only thing that gave Stiles any incentive to keep going was chasing the rippling muscles and bite-worthy tattoo on Derek’s bare back.

Well, that and the fact that police academy training is kicking his ass.  Not the academic part, but the physical fitness part.  Stiles maintains – loudly, to anyone who’ll listen – that he’s really more of a sprinter.  He’s a fucking gazelle over short distances.  Of course, he leaves off the part where he’d usually been running from the cops.

He’d half-thought Derek was joking that night in the train depot about joining the force.  With Stiles’ history – well-known to the entirety of the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Office, and thus the county – he thought there was no way they’d even consider him.  But since he had no felonies on his record, it stayed sealed.  Then he worried about the psych eval, but from what the shrink said, it sounded like former juvenile delinquents becoming cops was not a rare phenomenon.  Stiles now has a month of academy training under his belt with five more to go.

Assuming he learns how to run more than four miles without wanting to pass out, because that last half-mile was mostly hormones and shame-prevention.  If there really is such a thing as a “runner’s high,” Stiles is on the no-fly list.  Which, he supposes, serves him right.

Still, Derek looks fresh as a goddamned daisy.  “How is this fair?” Stiles whines, plucking at his own sweat-soaked shirt.  He’d love to just whip it off at the slightest provocation – like somebody does – but there’s still enough early fall sunlight filtering through the trees to burn his skin to a crisp lobster red.  “Half of the Beacon Hills cops don’t look like they could catch a bus, let alone run seven miles.”

Derek just laughs – he does that a lot more now, or at least lets Stiles see him do it, and it never fails to make Stiles’ heart leap.  “They can’t now.  But they could back in the day.”

“Yeah, yeah, ran uphill both ways in the driving snow.  Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of periodic re-evaluation obstacle course or something?”

“Supposed to be,” Derek says, rounding the car.  “But quit whining about them and focus on yourself.  You’re getting better.  It just takes time.”  He ends up standing right there in Stiles’ personal space, wiping the sweat from Stiles’ forehead with a towel he grabbed from the car.  It’s weirdly intimate, standing here in the middle of the woods that are still Hale property, even though Derek actually lives in an apartment in the center of town.

But out here, there’s nobody around for miles, and Derek is shirtless and very, very close to Stiles, who is past the initial my-lungs-are-on-fire stage and might be starting to tingle a little from all that rushing blood, and did he mention there’s no one around?

Stiles grabs the towel and loops it around the back of Derek’s neck, yanking him even closer.  Derek might not sweat much, but he doesn’t seem to mind Stiles being soaked in it.  In fact, Derek’s nostrils flare like he’s trying to get an even better smell.  Maybe that should weird Stiles out, but if Derek wants to sniff him, Derek is absolutely free to sniff him.

Stiles toys with actually saying it, since Derek practically needs a written, notarized invitation before he’ll get up in Stiles’ space in the fun, spanky way.  It took Stiles months to get them past second base (not that those weren’t some highly enjoyable, creative months, very thoroughly exploring all the things they could do with their clothes on).  But today, Derek doesn’t hesitate to bury his head against Stiles’ neck, slowly licking at the sweat he finds there.  Derek has a serious oral fixation, too – licking, sucking, biting – and Stiles has zero complaints.

Unless Derek does something insane like suddenly let go of Stiles, leaving him standing there with a half-open mouth and a neglected bulge in his basketball shorts, to go back to the car.  He’s not even watching to see Stiles’ indignant flail.  “The fuck, Derek?”

Derek doesn’t look up from digging around in his glove compartment.  “Take off your shirt.”

Yes, Stiles is going to do it anyway, but it wouldn’t kill Derek to be polite about it.  “What’s the magic word?”

“Take off your shirt now.”

Eh, close enough.  Stiles whips off his t-shirt, glad to have the sweaty thing off his skin.  Even a month of academy training has forced him to build up some muscle, fill out a little, but his body’s still nothing like Derek’s.  Never will be.  Derek doesn’t seem to mind, though, if the way he’s raking his eyes over Stiles is any indication.  He looks downright greedy, and Stiles is drawn toward him before he even realizes his feet are moving.

They sort of collide, still figuring out how they fit together, but the feeling of skin on skin is so good, and when Derek brings his hands to Stiles’ hips to steady him while they kiss, Stiles can feel he’s got something in his left hand.

Stiles has to pull away; he’s smiling too hard to kiss.  “Tell me that’s what I think it is.”

Derek holds up the condom and packet of lube, all fake nonchalance.  “I was a Cub Scout.”

Stiles laughs and slides his hands all over Derek’s broad chest, and Derek groans against Stiles’ mouth and presses into the touch.  It still amazes Stiles that he can do this, can get Derek so riled up with just his hands and his mouth.  And then Stiles remembers where they are and he can’t stop his hips from thrusting forward, seeking contact.  Derek’s going to fuck him here, right out in the open, and that’s on the top ten most-played list of Stiles’ fantasies.  Speaking of which…

“Tell me you’ve got handcuffs in there,” he murmurs against Derek’s lips.

It takes Derek a second or two to answer, but that’s probably because Stiles is pinching lightly at his nipples because he knows it drives Derek to distraction.  “Yeah, I’ve got ‘em,” Derek gasps out.  “But you don’t get to wear them.”

“Why not?” Stiles whines, taking his hands away petulantly.

Now it’s Derek’s turn to laugh.  “Because you’re really going to need both hands to brace yourself.”  And then Stiles is being spun around and shoved down, his palms landing… on the hood of the Camaro.

Oh hell yes.  Top three territory here.

He tries to pull down his shorts, but Derek’s immediately leaning over him, shoving him back down.  “Keep your hands where they are,” he growls, and Stiles feels the sound reverberate up his spine and emerge from his own mouth as a pleading moan.

Derek yanks down his shorts and underwear for him – but only to his knees, which feels infinitely dirtier than if he were just naked.  Derek’s hand runs up and down his back, settling possessively at the nape of Stiles’ neck as the slick fingers of his other hand start to tease at Stiles’ hole.

Stiles is still new enough to this that it takes time, but Derek doesn’t seem to mind.  He allows Stiles to adjust to each finger, slowly thrusting them in and out, letting Stiles feel the thickness of each knuckle as it breaches him.  By the time they’re up to three fingers, Stiles is panting, rocking his hips back shamelessly and blushing all the way down to his feet.

Derek’s laugh is warm and a little breathless this time, which has Stiles’ toes curling in his sneakers.  “You ready?” Derek asks.

“You know I am.”

“What was that?”

“Sir, you know I am.  Sir.”  Okay, maybe he’s mixing fantasies a little bit here, because the police academy isn’t quite boot camp, but Stiles is never not going to get off on Officer Hale bending him over and punishing him when he gets snarky.

Which is why all three fingers pull out at once, leaving him whimpering pathetically and trying to twist around to look without moving his hands.  He’s barely turned his head before Derek’s hand is turning it back.  “Eyes forward, cadet.”

So Stiles has to wait, bare ass thrust in the air, and listen to the sound of Derek tearing the wrapper open, Derek moaning as he slides the condom on, Derek slicking himself loudly and thoroughly.  The feeling of a hot hand spread across the small of his back is enough to make Stiles gasp, the sweat already cooling on his skin, and Stiles is nearly clawing at the hood of the Camaro by the time Derek starts pushing in.

He goes slowly, which simultaneously makes Stiles grateful and crazy because it’s too much and not enough all at once.  Derek goes still once he’s all the way in, lets Stiles breathe through the burn of it for a few moments.  He doesn’t grab for Stiles’ dick immediately, which forces Stiles to focus on the length of Derek filling him up, buried deep in his body, and even though it still hurts a little, it’s pretty fucking hot, too.

But of course Stiles can’t keep still forever – or even for a few minutes – so he humps back against Derek’s hips and is rewarded not only with that growl, the one that makes his insides quake in the best way, but also Derek’s hand on his cock.  Derek still doesn’t move yet, but he strokes Stiles in long, slow pulls.  It has Stiles cursing and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet to fuck into Derek’s grip until he slowly realizes that Derek is working him up to the rhythm he wants – leisurely and deep.

Still, Stiles has never been one to do things by half-measures, so he groans, “Derek, c’mon, harder.”  And because Derek doesn’t do half-measures either, Stiles gets what he wants.

It means Derek has to let go of his cock so he can get both hands around Stiles’ hips, but it’s totally worth it for the way it makes Derek grunt and break rhythm for a second when he shoves hard into Stiles.  It hurts a little, but Stiles’ dick doesn’t get the memo, because he’s totally starting to drip precum.  Onto the hood of Derek’s car.  Holy fuck.

But that is 100% Derek’s fault, and Stiles is just about to inform him of that in case he gets pissed off about it afterward when Derek howls, a sound that seems to echo off the trees around them, and hitches Stiles’ hips up until his toes are barely touching the ground.  Stiles is infinitely grateful he’s got both hands to hold himself up.  The handcuffs can totally wait for another day (or later tonight, if he’s lucky).

The angle puts Derek almost too deep, but with Stiles’ back bowed and hips in the air, it’s doing great things for his prostate.  Great, teasing things, because Stiles can’t come like this, practically suspended in the air with no way of getting a hand on his cock.  But it hardly matters when it feels so good and, behind him, Derek sounds like he’s about to die of bliss.  Stiles moans in sympathy and tries to push back with his shaking arms, but it’s all he can do not to collapse.  He has no idea how Derek is managing to hold him up like this for so long, but dude must do some serious chin-ups.  Stiles is going to have to ask him his secret, because his own arms are seconds from giving way.

But before that can happen, Derek’s thrusts become erratic until he shudders, pushes deep, and holds, letting Stiles’ feet drop back to the ground so Derek can bend over Stiles’ back as he comes inside him.  He bites down on the back of Stiles’ neck and it stings, yeah, but it feels like another form of connection, of Derek wanting him even closer, and it’s good.

Stiles is a little worried that Derek’s going to go boneless and Stiles is going to end up sandwiched on the hood of the Camaro, but instead, Derek is yanking Stiles up to stand on his feet.  He’s still buried deep in Stiles, still hard, and that’s another thing Derek likes, staying inside Stiles after he’s come.  And Stiles likes it, too, especially when he hasn’t gotten off yet, because Derek can stay hard, like, forever, and coming while stuffed full of Derek’s dick?  It’s like sex-Christmas.

Thankfully, Derek has one arm looped around Stiles’ chest and the other is reaching down to stroke Stiles’ cock, because Stiles’ own arms are pretty much out of commission for the near future.  “Look at yourself,” he hears Derek practically purr into his ear, and it takes Stiles a few seconds to fight through the sex-haze to realize that he can see both their faces reflected in the windshield.

Ah, so that’s what he looks like hauled upright like a rag doll and impaled on Derek’s cock while Derek works him over with a rough hand.  Good to know.  But even better is the look on Derek’s face as he watches Stiles – tender and fiercely possessive at the same time.  And Stiles must be seriously high on endorphins, because he could swear that Derek’s eyes are almost glowing, they’re that intense.

Stiles is helpless against all of it – Derek’s eyes watching him hungrily, Derek’s body caging him in, Derek’s hand stroking him expertly – and when Derek whispers “Come for me,” Stiles is helpless against that, too.  His whole body jerks with it, made better by the arm holding him tight and the hardness inside him he can clench around, and he tosses his head back against Derek’s shoulder and lets loose with his own feral howl.  Derek strokes him through it, pulling the last stinging sweet pulses right up from his toes, until Derek finally lets go and loosens his hold.

Fortunately, he doesn’t take his arm away entirely, because there’s no way Stiles would be able to remain upright without it.  And now he’s definitely high, because he looks down at the despoiled hood of the Camaro and giggles.  “Hope you wanted racing stripes.”

Derek laughs into the crook of Stiles’ shoulder.  “You’re just lucky I don’t make you clean it up.  With your tongue.”

That’s another of Derek’s predilections – licking cum off Stiles’ stomach.  It’s one that Stiles doesn’t quite share, because blowjobs are one thing, but cooling spunk is another, but Derek doesn’t seem to mind that Stiles isn’t into it.  In fact, he usually smears at least some of his own onto Stiles and licks it off himself.  Okay, so Stiles has a boyfriend with some oddly specific kinks.  So what?

Just the fact that he’s got a boyfriend at all, much less a hot, kinky cop boyfriend, still kind of blows his mind.  They’ve never actually said the b-word, but they’re totally engaging in some naked, vertical cuddling in the middle of the woods, so Stiles is just gonna call this one.

“Sorry,” Derek murmurs in advance before he pulls out, and yeah, Stiles could do without the empty, achy part.  Pulling up his shorts at least makes him feel a little less vulnerable, and he turns around to see Derek knot the condom and toss it towards the treeline.

“Litterer!” Stiles yelps, poking Derek in the chest with an accusatory finger.  “That’s a violation of California Penal Code Section 374.4.”  Because he has to memorize shit like that now.  And “penal” will never cease to be hilarious to say.

Derek just shrugs.  “It’s my property.  You want to throw it away, you go and find it.”

The poking turns into something more like one-fingered petting.  “Mmm, I always knew you were a bad boy at heart.  I think that’s how you always knew where to find me.  They sure as hell didn’t teach you that at the police academy.”

Derek laughs, but it’s oddly predatory, and he pulls Stiles close like he’s still hungry for touch even after what they just did.  “Well, you’re right about one thing – I didn’t learn that at the academy.”

And his eyes glow blue.  It’s just for a second, but Stiles is so close that he knows it’s not just a trick of the light.  “Officer Hale,” he says coyly, because whatever this is, it feels dangerous, and what the hell else is he gonna do but flirt with it?  “I think you’ve been holding out on me.”

Derek buries his nose against the sweaty patch of skin behind Stiles’ ear for a long sniff before practically groaning, “Ohhh, Stiles.  You have no idea.”

Suddenly, Stiles gets that rush again, the one where he’s playing with something that could potentially blow up in his face but is in all likelihood going to end in fireworks.  It’s been a while since he’s felt that.  And he likes it.  “What if I wanted to know?”

Derek’s hands still at Stiles’ waist.  “I’m not sure if you’re ready.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Stiles insists.

Derek’s laugh is a quiet growl that sends excited shivers across Stiles’ skin.  “I have so much to show you.”