"Well," says Stiles.
"No," says Derek.
"—boyfriends," says Stiles. He puts his arm around Derek's shoulders and gives his father a shrug. "Surprise!"
The Sheriff stares at the two of them. He stares at what must surely be an extremely calculatedly innocent look on Stiles' face, and then Derek's own werewolf-in-headlights expression. (The expression that says, I know I will ultimately survive this, but I'm not sure how much it will hurt.)
Then he turns and walks out of the room.
It starts, unfortunately, like this:
"That's completely unfair!" Stiles says. "Biased! The system is biased against single alphas! How are you okay with that?!"
"That's just how it is," Derek says, exasperated. "And there are reasons for it. Alright?"
"Old, stupid reasons, I bet," Stiles huffs. "So you're going to have to be pretend-dating Erica just because stupid werewolf law says Alphas have to be in relationships, and probably that they have to be in relationships with other werewolves, and more specifically that they have to be in straight, potentially baby-making relationships with other werewolves. Is that it?"
"Stiles," Derek sighs. Erica, who had looked positively gleeful a moment ago, is now glaring at both of them.
"No!" Stiles says. "Look, I am going to tell you right now why pretend-dating Erica isn't going to work. First—you werewolfy guys can smell when people are banging, can't you?"
Derek's mouth goes tight. Erica glances at him and grins.
"I'll take that as a yes," Stiles says. "So there's no way you'd be able to convince them you were banging Erica unless you were actually banging Erica."
"I wouldn't be opposed to that," says Erica, while Derek's brain is still tripping over the fact that Stiles has just said the word bang, multiple times, in a serious fashion. Then he scowls.
"She's underage. I'd be waiting until she turned eighteen."
"Dude, Erica's super hot," Stiles says. "No one will believe you. If you're gonna pretend to date someone who they know you aren't banging, it's got to be someone that they'll believe you wouldn't be banging."
Erica's eyes are narrow. "I'll take that as a compliment, then," she says.
Derek's face hurts.
"Second, Erica checks all the boxes too well," Stiles says. "You don't come off like someone who actually dates people, so this all looks a bit too convenient. Suspicious, even."
"What do you suggest," Derek asks flatly.
"If you want them to actually believe you're in a relationship, which it sounds like is the key," Stiles says, his eyebrows wiggling obnoxiously, "you've got to do it with someone unexpected. Someone who's a little bit wrong."
Derek doesn't think he can frown any more than he already is. "And by wrong you mean..."
Stiles raises three fingers and ticks them off. "Someone who's not super hot, isn't a werewolf, and maybe even isn't a girl."
"Dude," says Scott from the sidelines, after a beat. "Stiles, do you even know who it sounds like you're describing?"
"I don't know, Greenberg?" Stiles asks. Then he pauses, uses his brain, and says, "Oh, shit."
"I mean, this isn't so bad," Stiles says. "We just have to spend a lot of time watching movies together and like, cuddling and shit so we smell right. Right?"
For the past few days, Derek has been paying close attention to the sound of his teeth eroding as they grind compulsively together. It provides a convenient distraction from the sound of Stiles.
"Dude," Stiles is saying. "It's only going to work if you look like you don't hate me."
"I don't hate you," Derek grits out, and pulls Stiles uncomfortably close, until there is a knobbly elbow digging into his side.
"Right, um," Stiles says. Slowly, he rearranges himself, until his arm is around Derek's waist. "Operation: Soothe the Savage Beast, phase one."
"That's not even how the quote goes," Derek says.
"I know, but my version makes for a better pun," says Stiles. Derek rolls his eyes.
They watch the movie.
"So, do you think there will be any pretend making out to go along with the pretend dating?" Stiles asks, idly swirling the straw in his milkshake.
Derek chokes on his hamburger.
"Not that pretend footsie isn't fine—" Stiles kicks his foot under the table, "—but I was kind of hoping, you know. To get a little cherry-popping action out of this."
Probably the only less-than-awful thing about this situation is that Derek can't choke to death. He wheezes around the piece of hamburger for a few more moments before managing to cough it up.
"Dude, gross," Stiles says.
"No," Derek rasps.
"No... more spitting up half-masticated bits of cow?" Stiles asks hopefully.
Derek grabs Stiles by the collar and pulls him forward roughly, over the diner table. He regrets his decision immediately upon realizing that he can now feel Stiles' breath on his face.
Stiles' breath is coming in quick, hot puffs, out his mouth rather than his nose, milkshake-flavored. Stiles' eyes are dark and wide and his heart rate is abnormally fast. Stiles can probably feel Derek's breath on his own face. Derek can see Stiles' wet tongue.
"No making out," Derek says hoarsely, and then lets him go.
They watch another movie at Stiles' house. Stiles has brought some homework to do to help him pay attention (Derek doesn't understand, but Stiles sounds sincere enough), and he alternates between doing math problems against his knee and leaning against Derek's shoulder to watch the screen.
Eventually, somehow, Stiles starts to doze off. Derek collects the papers from his lap so nothing gets crushed, but doesn't otherwise move. He's never seen Stiles at rest.
Then he falls asleep too.
And that's how the Sheriff finds out.
"So that wasn't actually that hard," Stiles says after everything is dealt with and the other Alphas have been sufficiently confused by Derek's supposed attraction to a gangly, teenaged, male human. "I guess we're done then? Time to break up?"
Derek grunts. "What are you going to tell your dad?"
"Dunno," Stiles says. He kicks at a rock. "That you're too old for me and that I need to find someone else my own age? Preferably someone who'll put out."
Derek scowls. It'll work.
Stiles is watching him. "So... I guess that's that."
Derek doesn't know the words are sitting on his tongue until he opens his mouth and they come tumbling into the open. "Do you want to make out?"
"Do I... sweet holy jesus god fuck," Stiles says, and stumbles over in an uncoordinated whirlwind of teenage hormones. Derek wonders what has come over him, that he is actually considering this.
Stiles steps into Derek's space like he owns it. It's good—they had been practicing to achieve almost exactly that—but it makes Derek shiver. Just standing together, their mouths are closer than they have any right to be.
"What are you going to tell the pack?" Stiles asks. He doesn't seem to know what to do with his hands.
"Nothing," Derek says, and cracks a smile. "After all that, they wouldn't believe me anyway."
"Fuck," Stiles says, and finally settles with his hands on Derek's waist. "I'm a genius."
"Debatable," says Derek.
"No, it's really not," says Stiles.
They make out.