Derek is pacing his carpet ragged and biting his nails to stubs. He vaguely remembers Laura demanding the keys to the Camaro some time ago, but he can’t remember if he gave them to her, or even responded to her. Probably not. He’s been too busy rehearsing his speech and listening for the sound of Stiles’ Jeep to pay attention to anything else.
Finally, Derek hears the Jeep coughing itself towards the house. The front door opening. The sound of voices. Footsteps on the stairs. Footsteps on the landing. Nothing for a couple seconds, then Derek’s door opens.
Derek stops his pacing, standing rigidly in the middle of his room, holding his breath.
‘I’m only here because Scott wouldn’t stop with the puppy eyes,’ Stiles says as he steps inside and closes the door behind him. He stays by the door, coat still on and backpack on his back. His arms are crossed defiantly in front of his chest.
‘I know.’ Derek’s voice sounds strange to his own ears. His heart is beating so fast it’s making his hands shake. The fact that Stiles looks just as pissed as he did yesterday isn’t helping with the nerves.
Derek can’t blame him, though. Stiles has every right to be angry. Derek can’t even imagine what he would’ve done if it had been him and not Stiles who-
But that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that he makes things right.
‘Can you please sit down?’ he asks.
‘Right.’ Derek exhales slowly as he walks to the record player his mom loaned him for the day. He told her he could just download the song, it would be so much easier. His mother sighed and said that youngsters had lost all sense romance.
When Derek came home yesterday, sad and angry, he didn’t have a clue how to fix things. His mom knew, she always did. She hugged him after he told her the entire story, how he’d finally realized that Stiles was his soulmate, how Stiles had rejected him, and how it was all his own fault.
Derek never thought he’d be grateful to Harris for something one day, and he doesn’t think anything stranger will ever happen to him. The Chemistry teacher always insisted Stiles use his legal first name on his tests and essays, instead of his nickname. Derek had been called on to collect the pop-quiz of the day. For the first time in their four years of high school together Derek saw Stiles’ given name written in Stiles’ handwriting. It was an exact copy of the name on Derek’s left thigh. Derek had flushed, then paled, and then gotten really lightheaded. He’d tried to hide it as best he could, and must have succeeded because the only person who realized something was off was Boyd.
Finding your soulmate when you’re seventeen is almost unheard off. The marks appear when you turn sixteen, but most people don’t find their soulmate until they’re in their twenties. Not that it matters much at what age you find them. It’s not a guarantee that things will work out, or how they will work out. People change, people fight, people are often idiots.
It had taken Derek until the end of the school day to gather his courage to talk to Stiles. Derek met Stiles by his locker, asked him if he maybe wanted to study together sometime, and Stiles turned him down without hesitation. As Stiles walked away, Derek realized with horror that the other boy must’ve known about their connection before him, and that all the people Derek has dated in the past two years must have felt like rejections. Slaps in the face from the one person who is supposed to be your safe haven.
Scott was there too when it happened, even though Derek didn’t notice him until Scott glared at him and started threatening to ride him over with his own car. Derek had haltingly tried to explain about how he’d only just found, stumbling over his words, not getting too many of them past the growing lump in his throat. Somehow, Scott understood. Scott promised to talk to Stiles, and left with one parting threat to Derek’s life if he ever hurt Stiles again.
Derek’s hands are still shaking when he starts the turntable and lowers the tone arm to the right spot on the record. His breathes in and out slowly, trying to calm himself. His mom will kill him if he damages the record.
Derek steps back and breathes a sigh of relief as the music starts drifting through the speakers. He keeps his eyes on his hands as the words follow. The only part of Stiles he can see are the noses of his sneakers.
You’re more than a number in my little red book
You’re more than a one night date
All it had to take me was just one look
My heart began a thumpin’, babe you had it jumpin’
Stiles doesn’t move. Or, his feet don’t. Derek’s not sure if that’s a good sign or not, but at least Stiles isn’t leaving. Derek feels himself relax a little and the courage to peek up at Stiles’ face growing.
Cause’ you’re more than a number in my little red book
You’re more than a one night stand
In case you get to thinkin’ that you’d been took
You’re more than a number written in my little red book
Oh, baby, give us a chance
Don’t let the small town rumours end our first real romance
Now, I admit I’ve loved a few but there was never one like you
So darlin’, don’t believe a word they say
Stiles’ backpack hits the floor and Derek jumps, muscles locking again. Stiles takes an aborted step forward. Derek’s heart is beating out of his chest, but nothing more happens. Stiles doesn’t come forward any further, doesn’t make any other move.
Oh baby, you gave me a sign
I threw away the numbers of those old flames of mine
And now they’re tryin’ to put you whilst
Knock me down in my girls eyes
So darlin’, don’t believe a word that they say
In the blink of an eye Stiles is next Derek, pushing him aside so hard Derek barely avoids stumbling into his desk. Derek looks up. He can’t see Stiles’ face, but he can see the hunched shoulder, the way Stiles’ chest is heaving, the taut cords of muscle in Stiles’ neck. Stiles’ tense posture is a stark contrast to how gently he lifts the tone arm off the record and turns off the machine.
You’re more than a number in my little red boo-
‘Am I supposed to buy this crap?’ Stiles asks, rounding on Derek. His eyes are shining from unshed tears. Derek swallows, stepping back in the face of Stiles’ fury. ‘One look? You’ve been looking at me for years, Hale, and it wasn’t until yesterday that you decided to give a crap.’
‘No, that’s not-’
‘I am not done talking,’ Stiles bites out. ‘I had to watch you, my soulmate’—warmth fills Derek’s chest at the word, but it sizzles out in the face of Stiles’ icy stare—‘date, and sleep with, half the school. Do you really want me to believe that after years of taunting me, of rejecting me, you decide you want this?’
‘I didn’t know,’ Derek admits. ‘I didn’t know it was you. It’s not like you’re first name is widely known.’
Stiles winces, guilt mixing with the anger.
‘I’m not blaming you. I mean, it took me almost a month before I could pronounce it,’ Derek adds quickly. He doesn’t add that it took him almost a week to decipher Stiles’ handwriting. ‘And you really shouldn’t believe everything Kate says.’
Stiles huffs moving to Derek’s bed and dropping down on it. A small thrill goes through Derek at the sight, but he files it away for later.
‘The others, they weren’t you.’
‘They weren’t your soulmate.’ Stiles nods like he understands.
Derek shakes his head. He grabs his desk chair and rolls it opposite Stiles. When he sits down, their knees almost touch. Stiles no longer looks angry, he looks confused, his brows contracted and head tilted to the side.
‘They weren’t you,’ Derek repeats. He tries to steady his breathing, but when he continues, his voice shakes, ‘The reason I dated so much was because I knew that if I dated you I would fall in love and if I ever found my soulmate, a lot of people might get hurt.’
Stiles is silent for a moment, then he bursts out laughing, throwing his head back, the tears that were already in his eyes spilling over his cheeks. ‘That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’
‘Sorry,’ Derek shrugs, smiling sheepishly.
‘I can’t believe you were crushing on me all this time,’ Stiles continues, still laughing. ‘Oh man, we have some serious catching up to do.’
‘So you…?’ Hope blooms in Derek’s chest. He hadn’t expected this much from today. All he’d dared to really hope for was the beginning of a friendship, but this sounded like the beginning of something else.
Stiles grins, then he quickly takes off his coat and throws it on the floor. Derek is still processing what is happening when Stiles pulls Derek off the chair and on top of him. Derek catches himself on his forearms just before squashes Stiles under him, but not before their foreheads clash. Derek leans on one arm, rubbing his forehead with the other.
‘That was not supposed to happen,’ Stiles grits out. ‘The forehead thing. You being on top of me was definitely the plan.’
Derek smiles down at Stiles while he makes himself comfortable between Stiles’ legs. He carefully wipes the tears from Stiles’ cheeks, lowering his lips. His lips brush against Stiles and—
‘So Stiles is staying for dinner?’ Laura asks from the doorway. Cora is giggling, probably from somewhere behind Laura, but Derek is too scared to look up in case his mom is there, too.
Derek drops his head in Stiles’ neck and groans, ‘Oh god.’
‘Uhm, I think that’s a yes,’ Stiles says. He sounds both amused and scared.
‘From now on, we’re only going to your place,’ Derek says after his sisters finally leave.
Stiles snorts. ‘You honestly think my dad is any better? He’s worse. And he has a gun.’
Derek lifts his head out of Stiles neck and looks at his soulmate. Stiles is smiling, soft and happy. It makes Derek’s heart flip. He lowers his lips again.
It’s another five minutes until they’re interrupted again, this time by Derek’s mom.