“Why are there flower planters on the window sills?”
Isaac glances up from where he’s lounging on the sofa and raises an eyebrow. “I don't know, I thought maybe you got tired of this place looking like you were about to leave at the drop of a hat.”
“No,” Derek answers, staring skeptically at the plants. There's a few different kinds of flowers and two small cacti, along with a miniature watering can at the end of one of the sills. He picks it up, trying to catch any lingering scents. It just smells like metal and the rest of the loft, so he sets it back down.
It was probably Cora.
“Ugh, you finally got blankets and pillows for the couch, thank god.”
Derek watches as a slightly tipsy Lydia curls into a ball with a throw blanket wrapped around her.
When he saw them there the night before, he assumed someone had just forgotten them. He waits for someone to correct her assumption about them being Derek’s, but everyone stays quiet. Maybe they're all just too exhausted to bother.
It’d been a stressful week, everyone taking their finals while trying to fight off what Stiles liked to call the demonic little mermaid . It's hard to fight a siren when they only have to open their mouth to make you stop. Lydia tried to counter it with her own scream, but it only caused all the werewolves to begin writhing on the floor. It was not an experience he wanted to repeat.
In the end, it had been a mixture of Stiles’ and Lydia’s deduction skills that brought it down, but everyone had been soaked with freezing, late autumn water in the fight.
They had changed clothes when they got to the loft, borrowing from whoever was closest to their size, and Lydia had broken out Peter’s hidden bottle of vodka to congratulate herself on a job well done.
“I'm bringing a spare outfit to leave here tomorrow,” Stiles says, rolling down the tops of Isaac’s pajama pants. “And a toothbrush.”
Lydia snorts and he glares at the back of her head.
“If we’re going to occasionally crash here,” he continues, “I'd like to be able to have a clean mouth. Listerine is great and all, but it’s not a toothbrush.”
Derek rubs the side of his face and sighs. “Just go to sleep, Stiles.”
“Fine, apparently I'm the only one who cares about morning breath.”
Lydia snorts again, but he ignores her and turns to climb the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Derek asks, following.
“Your room? There's no place for me to sleep down there aside from the armchair, and I think I deserve something more comfortable after what I've gone through tonight. Unless you want me to go crawl in with Cora?”
Derek growls and pushes him aside to get to the door first, but not before he catches the smirk on Stiles’ lips.
When everyone leaves the next day, the blankets and pillows are still there.
Derek lies on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He’s gotten so used to having people around that it feels too quiet when he’s alone.
He huffs and gets up, wandering out of his room and stopping at the nook by the top of the staircase. Someone’s left books on the small table there, and he picks them up, shuffling through titles like The Song of Achilles , Gone Girl , and 1984 .
He makes a noncommittal noise in his throat and goes downstairs, only to find more books on the coffee and end table. These ones are mostly non-fiction, and he decides to sit and browse the book on psychology.
He’s still reading when Cora and Stiles walk through the door. Cora ignores him, shucking off her coat and putting it on the rack; Stiles drops down next to him and leans over his shoulder.
“Reading anything interesting?” he murmurs, and Derek has to close his eyes against the warmth it sends through him.
When he’s sure he has control over himself, he manages a terse, “Stop breathing down my neck.”
Stiles huffs and kicks off his shoes, then turns so his legs are across the sofa and his back is against Derek’s side. He reaches blindly for a book and flips it open, jumping right in.
Cora raises an eyebrow at them and Derek scowls until she retreats to the kitchen to get something to eat.
Derek stares at the various pieces of art now hanging around his place with a deep-seated suspicion. “Who decorated my walls?”
“Mm, whoever did has exceptionally good taste,” Lydia comments, giving the room an appreciative once-over.
Isaac nods and Stiles plants a hand on her shoulder. “Yes, yes they do, and I'm sure Derek is beside himself with joy right now.” He looks over his shoulder like he’s daring Derek to complain.
He gets a dry, “I'm ecstatic,” for his troubles. Derek suspects Lydia might inflict bodily harm on him if he actually says anything negative.
“I think it looks good,” Scott says, and Derek rolls his eyes.
“I don't know how you can see anything with half of your body inside the fridge.”
Scott pulls himself out with an armful of ingredients and a beer and Lydia looks mildly offended. “Please don't tell me you’re going to try to cook.”
“I've been getting better!”
“And yet most of the things you make are still inedible,” Stiles says, his hand finally dropping away from Lydia as she makes her way to the kitchen, either to help Scott or stand back and critique him until he begins to question his life choices. Both are equally probable.
Derek ignores them to go sit down, and if he brushes against Stiles’ on his way, only he’ll have to know it was on purpose.
It's been a long weekend and Derek doesn't want anything more than to sleep for the next ten hours.
He kicks off his shoes and heads to his bedroom, only to find Stiles passed out on the floor with a photo album opened in front of him.
Derek crouches down and shakes his shoulder. “Hey.”
Stiles blinks his eyes open and pushes himself onto his elbows. They stare at each other for a minute while Stiles wades far enough out of his sleep haze to figure out what's going on. “I fell asleep.”
“I hadn't noticed,” Derek deadpans.
Stiles rubs his eyes and rolls his shoulder before picking up the album and trying to stand. He wobbles and Derek grabs his arm before he can fall and directs him toward the bed. He climbs in without question and shimmies to the far side of it.
“What were you doing in here anyway?”
Stiles pats the empty side of the bed and Derek hesitates, but eventually pulls back the covers and lies down. Stiles hands him the photo album with half-lidded eyes. “I was putting this together. Last step in my Make Derek’s Home Feel Like an Actual Home mission.”
Derek flips open the album and starts skimming; it's a conglomerate of photos of everyone, from candids to selfies. He pauses on one of him smiling, unaware of the camera, and takes a long look at it. He’s been happier lately than he thought he’d ever be since his family died.
It’s not until he’s gone through the entire thing that he realizes what Stiles had said.
“You've been the one leaving stuff around here?”
Stiles scoffs. “I didn't leave stuff around ; I made it look like your place was actually lived in. You've been here for months and neither you, Cora, or Isaac bothered with any personal touches outside of your own rooms.”
“What about the art? I thought that was Lydia.”
“She helped me with it,” he mumbles, stifling a yawn. “She didn't trust me to make all the decisions on my own.”
Derek places the album on his nightstand and turns off the light, listening to Stiles’ heartbeat slow as he falls back to sleep.
When he wakes in the morning, Stiles’ hand is resting on his chest, head on his arm. He reaches out his free hand and touches the side of Stiles’ face, freezing when he’s rewarded with a smile.
“You're up,” he says, and Stiles’ exhales in a way that seems like it was supposed to be a laugh.
“Well, I'm awake, but I'd rather not get up unless I have to. Do I have to?”
Derek lets his fingers move again, tracing the line of Stiles’ jaw. “No.”
Stiles moves closer, until there’s no space between their bodies. “Good.”
“Are you sure this isn't too soon? I mean, you're not going to suddenly feel like I'm overstepping my boundaries and suffocating you, right? This is like, usually a big step in a relationship. I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable.”
“Stiles, we’ve known each other for over two years, have been dating for a month, and you practically live here anyway. I don't think giving you a dresser drawer for your stuff is going to be a deal-breaker.”
Stiles nods and begins unpacking the contents of his duffel bag into the drawer. It's all things he was bound to leave here whether they started dating or not, but he’s still anxious about it, dragging out the process as if he’s afraid Derek will change his mind.
Derek slides a hand under the back of his shirt and leans in toward him. “I'm sure there’s more productive things we could be doing while the house is empty.”
Stiles shudders and Derek closes in on his neck, running teeth along the skin. The duffel bag drops, half full, into the drawer and he turns to fist Derek’s shirt and walk them backward to the bed. “Well, I can't argue with that.”
Derek kisses a trail down his throat, breathing in his scent. This, this is what makes a home, more than any material objects Stiles could have brought in.