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The Color Purple

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3 cadre

The Color Purple

Prologue

If uncle Peter wasn’t already dead, Derek would have killed him with his bare hands for doing this to him. He did a screaming match with his sisters for not going; he was acting like a petulant child, but he didn’t care. Because now, he was here, in France, in Provence, trying to sell the piece of land his uncle dumped on his nieces and nephew’s shoulders in his will.

When I die, I give my land, named Lavandre des Hales, to my two nieces, Laura Hale, Cora Hale, and my nephew, Derek Hale.

With his job, and his life in California, he doesn’t need to deal with it. Laura is the CEO of their company and as a boss, and as a scary older sister, she made him go here. He tried to pass it off to his younger sister, but really, who was he kidding? Cora was still in college before joining the family’s company and wouldn’t know a thing about selling this. But it still wasn’t fair. They should do this as a family; but instead, they send him here, alone, bitter and angry. He has a plan, though. He’s going to sell it as quickly as possible, and leaves just as quickly in a wind of dust.

But of course, that was until he met Stiles Stilinski. And his job got a little bit more… complicated.

Chapter One

It’s with a bitter taste in his mouth that he lands on French ground. If he had to spend quite a while here, better doing this in style; he rents a silver jaguar. The expensive car reminds him of his Camaro back at home in California and he suddenly feels better, like a sense of familiarity in this wasteland. His dad always said that the car you choose shows a man’s success in life.

He was right, he snorted to himself as he accelerates. He is going to see the place, then find a nice hotel. If he finds one in this place.

He sees the endless purple fields stretching in the horizon and knows he isn’t far, now. His knuckles tighten on the steering wheel as he remembers, for a fraction of a second, when he used to spend his summers there; the warmth of the sun on his tan skin, playing hide and seek with his sisters in the fields, then- nothing. He stopped going a long time ago.

He stops the car abruptly as he nears the big sign on the side of the road, saying LAVANDE DES HALES. He knows that his French is quite rusty, but he isn’t stupid. HALE’S LAVENDER. He is here. With a sigh, he drives the narrow and rough road leading him to a place he hadn’t been in years.

Everything is quiet when he arrives. He didn’t expect much; his uncle died for a while, now. His employees must have left. Any activities weren’t supposed to happen, now. The house is empty. The things Peter wanted his family to have was sent their way a couple of months ago and the rest was giving to strangers.

The house- no, the manor, was as big and beautiful as he remembers. He got out of the car and examines the house with an air of vulnerability, which is a first, because businessman Derek is not afraid of anything. He was right, this place is going to sell like warm bread. The house, build by a Hale 200 years ago, has all the splendour, refinery and beauty that France possess.

It is three story high with two big balconies for the two predominant bedrooms in the front. The whole manor was made of cobblestone and vines are tracing the stones in intriguing patterns. The big and heavy doors are painted a vibrant red, which contrast beautifully with the dark colors of the house.

What really got his attention, was the flowers in front of the manor; vibrant yellow, purple, red and pink. Oddly enough, for such a deserted place, it looks well kept. As he enters the house, he expects it to smell like abandoned places are supposed to smell, and as a person who works in empty buildings, he knows the smell. But instead, it smells like lavender. Which, of course, this is a place where they produce lavenders. It isn’t dusty; which leads to the conclusion that somebody uses his uncle’s place to stay.

He decides to deal with this after he takes a nap, because he is jetlagged. But as he steps into the spacious kitchen, he hears a thump upstairs. He jogs quickly up the stairs, because no way in hell someone is going to stay just to get a free place to stay. He slams a guy against a wall –screw the polite etiquette, because this guy has no right being here- and snarls in his face.

“Who the hell are you?’’ he asks in a low and scratchy voice.

‘’I could ask you the same thing! God, let me go,’’ the guy whines, kicking Derek’s shin. He let out a pained cry and let go of the boy. Derek massages his leg gingerly.

‘’You son of a bitch,’’ he sneers.

‘’That’s what you got by manhandling me.’’ The guy says proudly, putting his hands on his hips.

“This is private property,’’ Derek says once he straightens himself. The guy rolls his eyes; big, round brown eyes.

‘’I know, dude. But you see, the owner died a few months ago. Who do you think take care of this place?’’ he asks rather sarcastically and that was that; Derek haven’t the time, nor the patience to deal with this.

‘’Yes, well, uncle Peter died and it means that all his fucking employees need to go,’’ he says as he grabs forcefully the young man’s arm and yanks him down the stairs, ignoring the man’s protest.

‘’Uncle Pe… hey, watch the shirt!’’ he shrieks as Derek pushed him out of the door.

‘’You need to leave,’’ Derek says coldly and this voice makes his employees shaking with fear and his younger sister looking down at her shoes, but this man, this boy, looks at him like he personally insults him and kill his doggie.

‘’What the hell, man? I work here,’’ he exclaims indignantly, eyes narrowing. He glances at the park car, then study Derek up and down and he feels judged, all of a sudden, which is weird because he never cares what people thinks about him. ‘’Flashy car, leather shoes, American, uncle Peter... you must be the estranged nephew.’’ He concludes with a smirk, eyes sparkling with something akin to mischief.

‘’Yes,’’ Derek admits. ‘’And as his nephew, I now own this place. Which means that if it wasn’t already done, I’m firing all the employees working here. So, how do you say get the fuck out of my property in French? Oh, yeah, barre-toi!’’ He shuts the door behind him.

‘’Your French is terrible, by the way,’’ he hears the man shouts. He closes his eyes, sighing deeply. So much to just sell and get the fuck out of there. He is going to just sleep on the only couch that wasn’t ship elsewhere when he hears another thump upstairs.

‘’Mother fucker,’’ he curses as he makes his way upstairs. The same man is standing in one of the main bedrooms. ‘’What the- how did you climb all the way there?’’ he yells.

‘’The vines, dude,’’ he says and shrugs, like it was no big deal. ‘’I do it all the time. I always scared Pete shitless when I did this, though.’’ Derek looks at him, perplexed and all anger he resents toward the younger man evaporates. Now, he just wants him gone. ‘’Anyways, you have no right to do what you just did,’’

‘’What? Kicking a total stranger out of my uncle’s manor? Yeah, I think I have the right.’’ He retorts.

‘’You think you can just show up and wreck havoc on what your uncle has built? On what your family has built? I’m no stranger, here. You are.’’

‘’I’m not wrecking anything- just,’’ he rubs his eyes eagerly. ‘’I’m just fucking tired. Can you just go?’’

The young man still doesn’t move. He looks at Derek with hope, curiosity and uncertainty shining in his dark eyes. ‘’Are you going to take over? Peter told me about how you’d be the perfect man to replace him. You’ll definitely need help at first, but I work here for years, now. I can help you,’’

Derek chuckles; hard and severe with no trace of humor. ‘’You’re fucking kidding me,’’ he murmurs to himself. ‘’I’m not taking the reins of this place,’’ he says slowly, like he was talking to a young child. ‘’I’m selling it.’’ He simply explains it and sees the young man’s wide eyes fix on him.

‘’You can’t do that!’’ he exclaims.

‘’Sorry, what’s your name again?’’

“I never told you,’’ he murmurs, eyes flashing of anger and sorrow. ‘’It’s Stiles.’’

‘’Well, Stiles, I’m… grateful,’’ he grits his teeth, ‘’that you took such great care of this house, but in a couple of months, this place will be sell and the new owner will do whatever the fuck they want with this place.’’

‘’I won’t let you do this,’’ Stiles says vehemently, inches away from Derek’s face. Derek chuckles again, because it’s simply adorable.

‘’There’s nothing you can do about it, I’m afraid.’’ Stiles stays silent. ‘’You know where the door is, I’m sure. Let yourself out.’’

Stiles leaves the house in a flurry, cursing and insulting Derek –he was sure of it- in French. But he doesn’t care about it right now, he has something to sell.

-X-

 

‘’And I’m telling you, Lydia. This guy’s bad news.’’ Stiles says as he helps his friend pealing carrots.

‘’Maybe you judge him too soon,’’ Lydia retorts as she pushes her red curls out of her eyes.

‘’Too soon?’’ he repeats. ‘’Too soon! The jerk came out of nowhere this morning, pushing me out of the door. He was a douche. He didn’t even say Hello and Who are you, like a person with manners would do. He practically yelled at me like the devil was chasing him.’’

“Someone would do that if they see a stranger in their home,’’ she shrugs.

‘’But it’s not his home! It’s Peter’s,’’ he grumbles.

‘’And he gave it to his family in his will.’’

‘’You’re supposed to be on my side.’’

Lydia sighs. ‘’I’m always on…’’ her eyes go to the window that separate the kitchen to the outside. ‘’C’est pas vrai,’’ she murmurs and goes to the window and yells. ‘’Erica! I’m paying you to serve the clients, not to flirt!’’ When she comes back to the table where they are pealing vegetables, she grumbles: “That girl will never learn.’’

Stiles scoffs at that; Erica is flirty by nature. He doesn’t think that she knows what she’s doing.

‘’You’re going to lose your business if he sells the land,’’ he reminds her nonchalantly. The purse of her lips and the way her jaw moves make it clear she was thinking about it since he announces, this morning, that the new owner had.

‘’I know,’’ she grits her teeth together, ‘’But he has every right.’’

‘’What, a big shot American comes here and basically ruins what we built? We have to do something.’’

‘’Well, Peter was naïve to give his family the benefit of the doubt for believing that they give a shit about this place.’’ He eats a tomato out of the bowl.

‘’Stop eating all the food!’’ Lydia shrieks at him, and he puts his hands in the air, smirking. He goes to the ovens and smells the fresh smell of lavender and vanilla. The lavender macarons are almost ready. ‘’If you don’t have anything to do instead of crying about the uncertain future, go and buy me some fresh butter milk.’’ Lydia orders as she cuts a celery with the fine precision that only great chefs possess.

‘’Yes, chef,’’ he salutes Lydia with a goofy smile. They are not out of the woods yet, but having his friends by his side can just straighten their weaknesses. As he steps out of the restaurant, he stops and takes a big gulp of air. This is his home; he has no intention to leave it. Lydia’s restaurant, a quaint little bistro in the middle of the village, is always busy with customers and the smells when you pass it are always so divine. With Lydia’s leadership and talent in cooking, it wasn’t long for the bistro to gain popularity.

The bistro, like any other houses and buildings in the village, were centuries old. The whole village, named Gordes, was built on a hill, which was so beautiful because the houses weren’t on the same level. It’s a truly magnifying village and Stiles is proud to say that Gordes was listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

He watches as Erica completely ignored what her boss just said a few moments ago and is chatting a guy sitting outside of the bistro, a menu forgotten by his side. She wears the all black attire that Lydia insists that the waiters and waitresses should wear, but her skirt is a little short and her pink bra is visible. Her long blonde curls and red lipstick only exist to make as much tips as possible.

He nods at her when she looks at him with a side smirk. He rolls his eyes at her behavior and continues walking. He turns the corner and walks a cobblestone street and nods at people he knows. Some of them are tourists, but it wasn’t the season for them yet.

He goes to the market where Lydia usually goes to buy food she needs for the restaurant. With two galloons full of butter milk, he returns to the bistro.

‘’Dude, I can’t feel my arms anymore,’’ he says breathlessly.

‘’I can put them on good use, if you want. I guarantee you you’re going to feel them again,’’ the newest member of the staff, Mason, says with a big smile. Stiles rolls his eyes; he is used to Mason hitting on him.

‘’Shut up, Mason. Go back to work.’’

“You’re not the boss.’’ He retorts with a sleazy smile.

‘’No, but I am.’’ Lydia says as she approaches them. ‘’Now, go back to work,’’ She orders the young man as he rolls his eyes and go back to the dining room.

‘’What’s up with you hiring overly flirty people?’’ he asks as he puts the milk in the refrigerator.

‘’He is good-looking,’’ she shrugs. ‘’Good-looking people is a great advantage when you serve costumers,’’ she says in her business voice. Lydia is about to decorate a lavender cake. He goes in the bowl to scrap some of the cream, but Lydia swats his hand away.

“Stiles!’’ She yells, frowning at him. Stiles giggles and kisses her cheek. For a fraction of a second, he glances at the window that connect the kitchen and the dining room and his eyes widens when he sees a familiar set of green eyes and a severe frown, like he’d rather be somewhere else.

‘’Oh god, it’s him,’’ he says urgently and Lydia glances up from what she is doing.

‘’Who?’’ she asks.

‘’Peter’s nephew, who else?’’ he whispers urgently. Lydia goes to the window and looks Derek up and down and her green eyes shine with something Stiles was too familiar with and he does not like that. Not one bit.

‘’He’s a fine piece of man. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised considering who his uncle was; great genes flood in their veins.’’ She remarks.

‘’Lydia!’’ he says. ‘’This isn’t funny.’’

‘’Well, if you can’t change his mind about selling the land, maybe you can change his mind in other… areas.’’

‘’Lydia, please, stop talking,’’

“Then what are you doing here? Go! I know that Erica or Mason will snatch him.’’ She says with a smirk.

‘’Shut up. I’m only going because I still want to talk to him about,’’ he makes a gesture with his hand. ‘’Everything.’’

‘’Sure, you do.’’

As he enters the dining room, he shoots both Erica and Mason, who were ready to bounce on the newcomer, a glare saying that he was the only one to serve him. Derek is sitting at a table near one of the biggest window that opens on the busy street. They could hear faintly someone playing the guitar near the restaurant. Derek’s eyes are fixed on his cell and he jumps when Stiles, not so gently, asks him if he wants coffee.

‘’You want coffee, sir?’’ he drawls the last word. Derek looks up and surprise is written all over his face, but it’s soon replaced with contempt and annoyance.

‘’Yes,’’ he says. Not even a Please, okay, then.  

‘’But sorry, we don’t have the finest porcelain,’’ he says sarcastically.

Derek grunts a response and looks back at his cell he puts on the table. Stiles rolls his eyes and he does the only thing he sees fit doing right now. It’s the kind of behavior his dad doesn’t approve of, but he unfortunately inherited form his mother. He pours the hot liquid just next to the cup, watching with satisfaction as the liquid splashes the pricy I-phone, or I-Pad, or I-whatever it is Derek has.

‘’Oops,’’ he says nonchalantly.

‘’What the fuck!’’ Derek yells as he stands. The other patrons look at the scene, mildly amused, because they all know Stiles, and mildly confused because they had never seen Derek Hale. ‘’What is wrong with you?!’’ he continues yelling or yapping; Stiles isn’t sure.

“Mon dieu, laissez-moi vous aider!’’ Erica says right behind Stiles, a cloth on one hand as she is ready to go for it and put in on the man’s crotch, where a stain grew bigger and bigger. You perv, Stiles thinks as he pushes her away from Derek.

Derek grabbed the cloth forcefully. ‘’What is wrong with you?!’’ he screams in Stiles’ face again.

‘’It was an accident,’’ he nonchalantly replies with a shrug.

“No, it wasn’t.’’ Derek retorts. Lydia arrives in a flurry of red hair and extremely clean apron.

‘’What seems to be the problem, here?’’ she asks, looking at Derek with calculating eyes.

‘’Your waiter drops fucking boiling coffee on me,’’ he seethes.

“Stiles, apologize.’’ She says.

‘’I am not apologizing for this,’’ Stiles says. He did it on purpose, he admits, but Derek was not his favorite person and he dealt with it the best way he could.

‘’Apologizing?’’ Derek scoffs. ‘’He should be fired.’’ He declares.

‘’It’ll be hard to fire him since he doesn’t work here,’’ Lydia says and Erica nods vigorously. Derek looks at the three of them, and shook his head.

‘’This place is so fucked up. I am so done,’’ he murmurs to himself as he picks up his wet cellphone, and of course, because it’s a 2016 or whatever, it’s waterproof. He leaves, ignoring the patrons’ curious gazes. Lydia turns sharply and looks at Stiles death in the eye.

‘’If you wanted to have Derek on your side, I think you just lost your chance.’’

‘’But, Lydz…’’

She purses her red lips, and Stiles knows he is in deep trouble. Even though they grew up together, and are the same age, she still has that motherly slash big sister instinct in her, and when she uses it, Stiles has no choice but obey.

‘’If you want us in Derek’s good grace, find a way to redeem yourself.’’

‘’But he started it at Peter’s house!’’

’Je m’en fiche!’’ she exclaims. ‘’Right now, he’s the one with the power to do what the hell he wants with the fields, so don’t screw this up!’’

‘’What do you want me to do?’’ he asks with a sigh.

‘’Tell him some bullshit about being an orphan and that the lavender fields are the only thing that makes you smile –Stiles rolls his eyes at that- or have angels pooping out of your asshole to impress him, or seduce him with your vindictive self, I don’t know and I don’t care, but find a way.’’ As she turns around to go back to the kitchen, she caught Erica and Mason looking at them, wide-eyes. Erica had a Cheshire smile, though. Stiles knows how much she enjoys seeing him in pain, or in Lydia’s mercy.

Find a way was more difficult that he could have imagined. He hasn’t seen Derek for a couple of days. Because he lives on Peter’s land, he knows, for a fact, that Derek doesn’t use the manor to live while he’s in France. With some snooping around –he’s good at it- he found out that he rent a hotel room at La bastide, which was a luxurious hotel in Gordes. He couldn’t expect any less from the rich businessman, but it’s a shame, really. The Hales’ manor is such a nice place to live in. His little cottage that he shares with the other workers, Isaac and Liam, is in the same style as the manor. Very old, but very beautiful. It is much smaller, but Stiles likes it. It’s well lived in and far away from the manor to have his own little privacy, even though that now that Peter has passed away, not much is happening on the land. Stiles and the other workers still works to produce the lavender and they do so until the next owner was going to show up. They only need a new boss; and Derek did show up; but not with the same intentions as Stiles had hoped for. It was now a matter of time before Les Lavandes des Hales close for good.

‘’What are we going to do?’’ Isaac whines, sitting ungracefully on the couch, a coke in hand.

‘’Let me deal with this, man. Don’t worry,’’ Stiles says after he had explained everything to Isaac and Liam. Both of them haven’t seen Peter’s nephew yet, and it isn’t because they don’t want to. The man is just never here; he is probably in his 5 stars’ hotel down at the village, by the pool, cursing the French people or something. ‘’We’ll just keep working and everything will be fine.’’

‘’We all know you were Peter’s favorite worker,’’ Liam scoffs as he joins Isaac on the couch. He is the youngest of them all; Isaac and he were from the USA. Isaac came to France with Chris Argent who came back because his whole family is living in Gordes, including his daughter. As for Liam, he’s a seasonal worker, and craves for adventure and decided to study aboard in his sophomore year of college. But if Derek does sell the place, he may have to find another place to work. ‘’And that he taught you everything you need to know about this place; but we can help.’’

‘’It’s okay, guys. Leave him to me.’’

‘’Why? You want to fuck him or something?’’ Isaac says with a crooked smile, his blue eyes shining with mirth.

‘’You are so Erica’s friend.’’ Stiles replies.

‘’Then, what are we going to do?’’ Liam asks. ‘’I love this job. It sucks.’’

‘’Nobody is going to lose their job.’’ Stiles vows, looking at Liam straight in the eye. Liam’s pale eyes are shining, trusting the older boy to make things right. He falls on the couch, making the other men bounce and put his head on Isaac’s laps and his legs on Liam’s. Isaac brushes his hair absently. As they live together, and share literally everything together, they grew to be very touchy feely. Moments like this make Stiles misses his oldest and closest friend, Scott. They were in June, now, and he and his girlfriend, Allison, decided to go to Spain for some time. They’ve been gone for months. They know about Peter’s death, but Stiles made him promise with very violent threats, that he shouldn’t come back and ruin his trip.

‘’I’ve seen him at the village, today,’’ Liam suddenly says. ‘’Wasn’t hard to find; he was the only one with the Louis Vuitton’s bag,’’ he scoffs. ‘’He may be a douche, Stiles, but I’d totally tap that,’’ he admits absently, rubbing Stiles’ foot, until he kicks him, chuckling.

‘’You dog!’’ Stiles exclaims, laughing. Isaac, after a moment of teasing, decide it’s time they come back to their first conversation.

‘’What are we going to do?’’ he asks to no one in particular, blue eyes lost in thoughts, but they all know the question is directed to Stiles. He gives his friends what he assumes to be a reassuring smile.

‘’We’ll be okay. This is our home, guys. I’ll- I’ll find a way, I promise,’’ he says, knowing full well that maybe he won’t be able to keep that promise. But he needs to try. Peter always believed in him, always said he needed someone like him to take over. Maybe he had hoped that this someone would have been his nephew.

Chapter Two

‘’No, I told you, Laura. As soon as I sell this place, I’m going back home,’’ Derek says, frowning.

‘’I’m just saying, little brother, that you should make the most of it. You’re in Provence, Derek. Eat cheese and baguette and wine and…’’

‘’How stereotypical of you, Laura,’’ Derek deadpans. ‘’Besides, the business needs me.’’

‘’Oh, as if. I’m sure I’ll survive a couple of more weeks without you here.’’ She scoffs.

‘’I hate this place,’’ Derek admits as he put some milk and eggs in his little cart.

‘’Don’t bullshit me, Der. You used to love this place!’’ she exclaims over the phone.

‘’Yeah, when I was a kid.’’ He retorts. ‘’There’s this annoying kid who thinks that he can just do everything he wants. He fucking stepped inside our uncle’s place like he owns the fucking place and he deliberately pour hot coffee on me.’’

‘’Wow, you have such the struggle,’’ she deadpans.

‘’Don’t patronize me. Anyways, I’ll sell this shit hole. After that, I’ll come back and that’s final,’’

There was silence on the other side of the phone, because Laura talks about, quietly this time.

‘’Is it as beautiful as I remember?’’ she asks gently, almost hesitantly. Derek stops walking in the aisle of the cereals and sighs. He knows she means if the lavender fields are as endless as she remembers, if the beautiful purple flowers still make a vivid sea of that color, it the manor where they used to play hide and seek is just as splendid and gracious. The answer to all of that is yes, and yet, he can’t wait to sell the thing and get the hell out of there.

‘’Yeah, it is.’’ He responds. ‘’Even more so.’’ Laura hums in agreement.

‘’Well, I don’t hold you any longer. And come back to be your workaholic self.’’

‘’Says the CEO of the company,’’ he says, chuckling.

‘’Bye, Der,’’ Laura says and hung up.

Derek stops in front of the Special K. And this is when the only person he’s not in the mood to see pops out of nowhere.

‘’Special K?’’ he asks, scrunching his nose in disgust. Derek feels the urge to roll his eyes and sighs deeply to try and control his temper. ‘’That’s boring,’’ he continues to say.

‘’It’s also healthy,’’ he surprises himself by participating in the conversation.

‘’Mm… I like Nesquik better. They’re my favorite.’’ Derek looks at him as he takes a box of Special K.

‘’How old are you?’’ he asks rudely.

‘’21 and all my teeth!’’ he says, showing off all his white teeth; that kid has a big mouth, Derek notices. But really, who cares? ‘’How old are you?’’

‘’Older than you,’’ he responds gruffly, and starts to turn and walk aw… but the kid never shuts up.

‘’But, come on. It’s chocolate, everyone loves chocolate!’’ he shows the Nesquik box in front of Derek’s face, who scowls in return.

‘’No. I’m leaving,’’

‘’Hey! Wait for me!’’ he grabs Derek’s forearm and he turns so quickly that the glare he shoots Stiles could have freeze him to death. ‘’I’m taking my hands off,’’ he puts his arms in the air, one hand still holding the box.

‘’What do you want? Are you done stalking me?’’

‘’Stalki… wait, who says I’m stalking you? Gordes is a small village; we were going to run into each other eventually.’’

‘’Well, now that we did, I’d like to pay and get the hell out of here.’’

‘’You’re so moody.’’ Stiles murmurs as Derek go to the check out. Once he steps out of the grocery store, it’s not long before Stiles does the same. He groans, hoping that Stiles get the message and just leave him alone. He has no such luck.

‘’You know; you can have a great trip if you smile a little. You’re in Europe, enjoy!’’ Stiles beams at him like he just wins the lottery, or something. It unnerves him.

‘’This is not how I intend to spend most of my summer.’’

‘’Maybe not, but you can do something positive about it,’’

‘’What are you? My therapist?’’ he asks and rolls his eyes.

‘’No, I just, hey, would you stop?’’ Stiles asks as Derek tries, once again, to walk away from him. ‘’I’m in the middle of, okay, listen,’’ he says as Derek is shooting daggers at him. ‘’I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. About maybe coming on too strong. Lydia always tells me I should tone it down a little, but I never listen. Scott says that when I’m nervous I tend to talk a lot and really, really fast.’’

‘’Like now?’’ Derek interrupts, arching an eyebrow. Stiles stops talking and blush; and, okay, even though Stiles’ an annoying kid, the blushing is cute.

‘’Yeah… I just, we got on the wrong foot. I’m sorry I poured coffee on you.’’ He mumbles, like a child who admits to have done something wrong.

Derek may be a lot of things; hard working, serious and –yes- a capitalist businessman, but he’s not mean and vile. He can yell at his employees when they do something wrong, but Stiles doesn’t need to suffer the bitterness that he has by going to France. His sisters may think that he’s antisocial, only likes one night stands and can scare people off just by looking at his eyebrows. He admits, he’s those things, but if someone apologize, he won’t be a dick about it. Plus, he may have been in the wrong, too.

‘’I’m sorry, too. At Peter’s house,’’

‘’I- yeah,’’ for once, Stiles is at lost for words. ‘’I- do you want some?’’ he asks, practically shoving the whole cereal box in Derek’s face.

‘’With no milk?’’

‘’Well, it’s chocolate, dude.’’ He shrugs as he opens the box and shove his hand in there.

‘’No, thanks,’’ Derek shakes his head as he watches, amused and a little bit horrified, as Stiles shoves a mouthful of cereal in his mouth.

‘’You are something else,’’ Derek admits.

‘’I am?’’ Stiles asks as he shallows the cereal. Derek realises that he said it out loud.

‘’I should get going,’’ Derek points at an invisible destination to his right with a forced smile, because he just needs to go. He has no problem holding a conversation with his sisters, or with business partners, but he doesn’t know what to do with an outgoing, embarrassingly cute French country boy. Who still has no accent at all; he should check on that. Not that he’s curious, or interested in the kid, but only for the sake of who his uncle used to work and hang out with. Only reason.

‘’Going so soon?’’ Stiles asks hesitantly. ‘’I was hoping we can grab something to eat. If you’d like. If you don’t have anything more interesting in your hotel. Maybe a coffee, because I pour it on you? My way to repay you? To…’’

‘’Stiles, stop talking.’’ Derek interrupt and he’s surprise to feel that he’s smiling at the younger man and finds his nervous and rambling adorable. Adorable. He never finds a guy adorable. Hot, sure. But adorable is on a whole new level of weirdness. ‘’I’d love to.’’ He says and again, surprising himself by accepting an offer of someone he should despite.

‘’Great!’’ Stiles exclaims, flailing his limbs and almost –almost- stumble and Derek feels the urge to roll his eyes and wonder, once again, why he accepts to spend time with the man –the boy- who he assumed just got out of college, or never went. Anyways; he doesn’t care. He does not.

‘’Then… lead the way,’’ he simply says and Stiles beams at him, all warm friendliness like they know each other for years.

‘’Lydia’s restaurant is just around the corner, and she’ll literally kill me if I go to her rival,’’ at Derek’s confused face, he elaborates. ‘’La table haute,’’ he says.

‘’I went there last night. It was good,’’ At Stiles’ horrified face, he wonders if he said something wrong, until he remembers that he’s talking to Stiles and even though he doesn’t know him for long, he already knows he wear his heart on his sleeve.

‘’Don’t ever say that to Lydia. She’s going to kick your butt from wherever you come from.’’ He laughs, throwing his head backward, closing his eyes. His laughter was carefree and there was no ounce of awkwardness.

‘’I’m from Los Angeles,’’ Derek says. Stiles, still smiling, looks at him softly.

‘’What?’’ he asks.

‘’Wherever I come from; it’s L.A.’’

‘’Oh,’’ he says and even if his smile is wide, it became wider, showing perfect white teeth. ‘’That’s cool! My dad comes from a small town in Northern California. Beacon Hills; that’s where I’m from too but I’ve moved to France at a very young age, so I don’t really remember the town.’’ He shrugs and opens the door of the bistro.

‘’That’s why you speak English,’’ Derek wonders out loud and the odd look Stiles gives him made him self conscious, then he giggles and lead the way to a table at a corner. ‘’I mean, you have, like, zero accent when you speak English.’’ He admits. ‘’Not that French people can’t speak perfectly well a language, I just mean…’’

‘’Relax, businessman,’’ Stiles says with an easy smile. ‘’You’re all flustered, it’s cute.’’ He winks at Derek, because, why the hell not? ‘’Long story short, my mom is from here, in Provence. She wanted to study in the USA, meant my dad in a coffee shop near her campus, and they started dating.’’ He gestures to Erica to come over their table. ‘’I was born in Beacon Hills, but my mom wanted to be with her family again and my dad didn’t have anyone, so we packed our things and when I was seven, we moved here. When my mom died, we couldn’t just leave again, so we made a life here.’’

This is so god damn sentimental, Derek thinks, but somehow, he can’t find it in himself not to care. He never thought he will have this kind of conversation –or any conversation- with this kid, but there’s something about him that made him so damn interesting.

‘’Mm… Stiles, je lui ferais pas mal,’’ Erica says, hands on her hips with a smirk. Stiles knows she’s using the pose reserved to her patrons that want some eye candy.

Stiles widens his eyes. ‘’What did you say?’’ Derek asks, utterly confused.

‘’Nothing! She absolutely said nothing,’’ Stiles is quick to say. He wouldn’t say that she basically admits that she wouldn’t hurt him in the, like, dirty way. ‘’What do you want?’’ he asks, not even giving the menu a second look. He knows the food here inside and out, and he always choose the same thing. A turkey sandwich with extra mayo and tomato with two stipes of bacon. It’s simple food, really, but Lydia makes the best sandwiches in town and her dessert, which are her speciality, are dying for. Her desserts are all dependant on the lavenders they produce, so if Derek decides to sell and leave, Lydia probably wouldn’t have luck to stay open.

‘’Uhm…’’ Derek says, now realizing the menu on the table.

‘’He’ll have a croque-monsieur, Erica,’’ he says, giving her a blinding smile. ‘’You already know my order!’’ he says at her retiring back,

‘’Turkey, extra mayo, tomato, two stipes of bacon, I got it, Baby,’’ Erica shouts as she disappears in the kitchen. Stiles turns to look at Derek’s half confused, half amused face. ‘’You’re in France, man. You gotta appreciate the local food,’’ he shrugs and winks at him. ‘’I’m sure in that fancy hotel of yours, you only indulge yourself in American cheeseburger.’’ He smirks slowly when Derek wants to interrupt him. ‘’Oh, it’s true. You’re Special K kind of guy. A veggie burger, then.’’

‘’And you shouldn’t put that chocolate shit in your body,’’ he reminds him, still as serious as ever. Stiles scoffs and rolls his eyes.

‘’My dad is the one to worry about it. Besides, I have a hot slim little body,’’ he jokes as he stretches, showing a line of skin when his shirt rode off. Derek’s eyes wander to that patch of pale skin and shallows hard. ‘’I think I can indulge myself a little bit,’’

‘’Turkey sandwich for my baby,’’ Erica says as she puts the place in front of Stiles, ‘’and a croque-monsieur, for monsieur,’’ she winks at Derek and leaves, swinging her hips. Derek would like if he says he doesn’t watch that ass go away; Erica is gorgeous, and he’s only human. He has to admits that.

Stiles doesn’t seem phase by Erica’s flirting habits and munch on his sandwich very, very loudly. Derek is actually quite intrigue by Stiles’ eating habits. He eats fast and like he only has two minutes and is the last food he’ll ever get.

He bites into the croque-monsieur, which was a ham sandwich with cheese melting on the outside. He doesn’t live under a rock, so he already has multiple versions of the sandwich back at home, but that is heavenly. Nothing compare to that version and he doesn’t realize it when a sound came out of his mouth.

‘’I know, right?!’’ Stiles exclaims, obviously proud that Derek likes the food. ‘’Lydia’s food is the best.’’ Derek can’t disagree with that.

He keeps eating, listening to whatever Stiles has to say. He always has something to say. And Derek is not a big talker by nature, so he just listens; about Gordes, about Stiles’ friends, his dad, how he adores working at the lavenders’ fields and how he has to reconsider his offer to sell the place. He must admit that the kid knows how to bargain and to talk about a cause he loves. But even with his wit and eloquence, Derek won’t budge.

‘’I didn’t see you in the fields, yet.’’ Stiles remarks as he sips on his lukewarm coffee.

‘’I don’t need to,’’ Derek shrugs. ‘’I’ve said goodbye to this place a long time ago.’’

‘’I’m sure Peter’s house needs another soul to become alive again,’’ Stiles says lightly, but Derek knows, deep inside himself, that the fact that the house is deserted make Stiles’ heart ache. And there’s something wrong, so deeply wrong that Stiles misses Peter more than him. That Stiles probably consider his uncle as family while he considers the man as stranger as the years went by.

‘’I’m sure you can go if you want. To lighten up the place.’’ Stiles’ big eyes brighten with joy and trepidation.

‘’Really? You made it pretty obvious you don’t want anyone there,’’

‘’You obviously love the place,’’ he says. ‘’Plus, you don’t live too far from there, do you?’’ he asks with a smirk. Stiles’ mouth made a O shape.

‘’You know where I live?’’ Derek only nods.

‘’It’s my job to know who lives on my family’s land. You father is the groundskeeper, am I right?’’

Stiles nods vigorously, obviously happy to know that Derek took the time to know these things, even if it’s only for knowing who lives on his family’s property.

‘’Yes, he is. With a property like the Hales, he always got his hands full. He got the job shorty after we’ve arrived to France. He was scared shitless, because his French was horrible.’’ He laughs lightly. ‘’But Peter gave the job to him anyways. He was a cop in Beacon Hills and Peter always joked that it was good to get someone who can protect the land. My mom and your uncle; they grew up together,’’ he said after a moment, like an afterthought. ‘’I think they even dated once,’’ he says with a horrified expression, then shrugs. ‘’Peter’s always been there for me,’’ his voice was distant, his eyes unfocused. ‘’Anyways,’’ his sadness vanishes like nothing happens. ‘’It’s always been a family business, so there weren’t like a thousands of people working for Peter. Isaac, Scott and Liam are the remaining workers. The other few, decided to leave the minute Peter died. I can’t blame them, really.’’

‘’But you do realize you’ll have to leave soon, right?’’ Derek asks slowly, like he’s scared of Stiles’ reaction.

‘’This is my home, Mr. Hale.’’ Somewhat, the formality feels wrong coming from Stiles. ‘’And I hope you’ll realize that this is your home as well.’’

Before Derek can respond to that, Stiles eyes the cakes displayed in the dessert’ counter in the corner of the restaurant.

‘’Cakes!’’ he exclaims and all previous seriousness evaporate. ‘’I hope you’re ready to get blown away by some seriously good lavender cake.

Lavender cake…. He hadn’t a lavender cake in a very long time; since the last time he visits his uncle all those years ago. His mouth salivates just thinking about it and Stiles must sense it as well, because the next think he knows, he got up and almost run to see the displays on the beautiful and well decorated desserts. It’s like going to a chocolate factory and see all the wonderful goodies. Stiles just looks like one of those kids, with his hands on the glass.

Stiles comes back with two big pieces of cakes. ‘’Glazed lavender lemon cake!’ Stiles exclaims loudly and proudly. The inside of the cake was yellowish and spongy and the glaze covering the cake was a beautiful pale shade of purple.

He likes that color. He doesn’t know why; he just always did.

‘’My favorite cake is moist earl grey chocolate with lavender ganache and cream cheese frosting, but as you mocked my chocolate obsession earlier, I decided not to indulge myself,’’

‘’Wise choice,’’ Derek retorts with a nod just to see Stiles rolls his eyes at him. As he takes a bite, his cell that was on the table made a sound. He receives a text message and in big letter, it says-

‘’Who’s Kate Argent?’’ Stiles asks. ’’Your girlfriend?’’ he asks, teasing. Then, he frowns. ‘’Wait… Kate Argent? I know her! Or at least, I know her niece.’’

‘’She’s interesting in buying.’’ He only explains.

‘’Wait, what? You’re going to sell to her?’’

‘’What’s the matter? You said you know her. It’ll be great, then. It’s a small world!’’

‘’Uh, no.’’ Stiles deadpans. ‘’I don’t know her very well; she moved to Chicago to do some business. From what Allison told me -that’s her niece- she’s a coldblooded bitch; well, I added the bitch, because from what I heard, she doesn’t hesitate to get what she wants. In the dirtiest way possible. You can’t possibly consider…’’

‘’I don’t know, yet,’’ Derek interrupts too quickly. ‘’She’s flying in a couple of days. But she’s my most serious buyer, so we’ll see how it goes.’’ He concludes in a firm voice, indicating that he doesn’t want Stiles to make a fuss about it. ‘’I have to go, Stiles,’’ he replies softly and Stiles loses his frown, replacing it by a smile. ‘’It was fun.’’

‘’We can do it again some other time?’’ Stiles asks hopefully. Derek only smiles and nods before standing up.

‘’Bye, Stiles,’’

‘’Bye, Derek,’’ Stiles replies breathlessly as Derek leaves the restaurant. Erica and Mason pretend not to look at Stiles, but as he glares at the both of them, they soon scatter away.

Chapter 3

‘’I can’t believe it,’’ Stiles grumbles. ‘’He wants to sell to Kate Argent? She’s a fucking bitch, everyone knows it.’’

He continues to whine, knowing perfectly well that Lydia only half listen to what he was saying. She is smiling and laughing with her boyfriend of two years, Aiden. He’s a nice guy, Stiles thinks. At first, Lydia told him they were just friends with benefit. A gorgeous man traveling with his twin and never really left because of Lydia. Two years ago, their relationship developed into something more serious, and now, Aiden works at the bar of the bistro. He knows how to make a wonderful daiquiri.

‘’Here; it’ll cheer you up,’’ Aiden says as he gives the drink to Stiles. He shakes his head, scowling.

‘’Nothing will cheer me up,’’ he whines.

‘’Do you want me to go see him and rearrange his face?’’ he asks, showing off his big arms. Lydia rolls her eyes, but smile happily at her boyfriend. Aiden and he are not best friend by any mean –that right is still reserved to Scott- but they grew to be close friends. He used to tolerate him when he was just fucking his childhood friend, but as the relationship grew, and Aiden permanently stays in Provence, they developed a friendship and Aiden –just like his twin- is fiercely protective towards his friends.

‘’Don’t you dare damage that beautiful face,’’ he scowls. ‘’Or else, I’ll make sure to rearrange your face so that you won’t be an identical twin anymore,’’ He doesn’t know why he protects a guy like Derek Hale, but he still does and it feels damn good.

‘’Damn, cranky,’’ he remarks as he cleans a glass. ‘’Maybe it’s time you get laid, you won’t be so tight in your pants.’’

‘’Shut up, Aidan.’’

‘’Maybe Kate Argent has humble intentions; you never know, Stiles,’’ Lydia says, perch on the counter.

‘’Yeah, right. She works in a company that their job is to destroy buildings and rebuilding into massive cooperation. She’s a money-leech. Even Allison calls her that.’’ He retorts. ‘’I doubt that she wants to keep the lavender fields for the locals.’’

‘’Well, I say fuck them,’’ Lydia says.

‘’Fuck them,’’ Aidan repeats.

‘’Fuck them!’’ Stiles exclaims as Aiden pours three daiquiri and Stiles drowns his in one go.

‘’Isn’t it too early for drinks?’’ a man says behind Stiles. Stiles turns around and smile at the older, but handsome man, standing there, with a warm smile on his face.

‘’Hi, dad,’’ he greets as he hugs his father. Aiden and Lydia nod in his direction. He has a box full of lavender flowers. It smells divine. He shakes it and looks at Lydia.

‘’Isaac gave me these this morning,’’ he explains. ‘’We can’t produce them; I thought you can still use them in your restaurant,’’

‘’Awesome, John!’’ Lydia says as she walks around the counter and goes to take the box and smell the flowers. ‘’They are beautiful,’’ she murmurs. ‘’Thanks, John. You know I always love free flowers,’’ she winks at her almost-father, and goes to the kitchen to fetch a vase to put these flowers in.

‘’Want something to drink, dad?’’ Stiles asks.

‘’Just coffee. I’m not into drinking my worries away at 9 in the morning,’’ he teases, but Stiles knows it has a deeper meaning; John used to drink a lot when Stiles’ mom died and it takes Peter to bring him to stop when he reminded John that because of the drinking, his job suffered and his relationship with his son suffered as well. With that in mind, he suddenly stopped.

John Stilinski, just like his son, lives on the Hales land, but not with Stiles, Isaac and Liam. He lives in a small, but cozy cottage. With Stiles’ worries about Derek Hale coming back a few days ago, he hadn’t the time, or more he hadn’t the time to think about spending some quality time with his father.

‘’Thanks, son,’’ he says as Stiles gives him the drink. He wants to go back to the bar and whine some more to the unfairness of life to Aiden, but John’s hand grabs his forearm and with a simple look, he gets the message. He wants to talk. He wants to spend time with his son. But not the ‘’Let’s go fishing!’’ type of hanging out, but more in the ‘’Something is happening and it worries you, let’s talk about it.’’

As Stiles sits across John, his father sips his coffee and takes a moment to look at Stiles before talking. ‘’I’ve seen Derek Hale yesterday. He went to visit Peter’s house. He told me he already met you.’’ Stiles shrugs.

‘’He was a douche, at first. Albeit I guess I was one, too. Then we lunched together. He’s a little bit reserved, and has a lot of eyebrows action going on,’’

‘’He seems like a nice guy,’’ Stiles shrugs again.

‘’I guess. Just like any American capitalist, I think.’’ John gives him a look, unimpressed. ‘’He wants to sell to Kate Argent, dad.’’ He stresses in a snarl.

‘’Then, we’ll deal with it when the time comes.’’

‘’When she arrives, knock at our door and kick us to the curb with no job, no life and no place to go, you mean,’’ he scoffs.

‘’You’re a bit overdramatic, Stiles.’’

‘’I wouldn’t have to be if it wasn’t the truth. I don’t want to deal with it like some Buddhist crap preach or whatever; I want Derek Hale to change his mind, to reconsider.’’

‘’Be careful, son,’’ he warns. ‘’When you have an idea, you go to every mountain to make it possible. Sometimes, it has regrettable outcomes.’’

‘’You’re too reasonable, dad,’’ he mumbles.

‘’I was a sheriff, once,’’ he replies. ‘’It was my job to be reasonable,’’ he gives Stiles a warm smile. Suddenly, a young man with dark skin, doe eyes and a smirk sit next to Stiles.

‘’What do you want, Mason?’’ Stiles asks exasperated.

‘’I couldn’t help but listen to your conversation, guys.’’

‘’Of course you are. You couldn’t be busy being a waiter,’’ Mason ignores Stiles’ remark and continues speaking.

‘’We can throw a little party to welcome Derek here.’’ Stiles arches an eyebrow and crosses his arms.

‘’Go on, I’m listening.’’

‘’You want Derek Hale to get to know us, for him to reconsider selling, right?” At Stiles’ nod, he continues. ‘’We can show him that this is a big family, that we puke rainbows and poo unicorns.’’ Stiles doesn’t know how he feels about this hyperbole. ‘’You make friends with him or have beautiful vanilla sex with him,’’ John coughs and looks pointedly at him. ‘’And you get him attached to Gordes. I guarantee you that by the end of the summer, he will have the word lavender tattooed on his heart,” he concludes.

‘’I don’t know for how long he’ll be there, though.’’

‘’Doesn’t matter!’’ Mason explains. ‘’You fucking make him love us and that’s it! Easy-peasy,’’

‘’Mason! I’m not paying you to flirt, again, with Stiles! Go back to work!’’ Lydia yells from across the bistro.

Mason, nonchalantly, stands up. ‘’I wouldn’t have mind flirting with you, babe.’’ He winks at Stiles and offers to an annoying John, a winning smile.

‘’Him and Erica are strange kids,’’ John muses.

‘’He… wasn’t wrong, though,’’ Stiles says. Realization shine in his too big eyes. ‘’I can totally throw a party.’’

‘’See, you wouldn’t have to hit Kate Argent’s head in order for her to forget her intentions to guy the land,’’ John says.

“That wasn’t my plan,’’ he says. ‘’But it could have been.’’ He shrugs.

‘’Regrettable outcomes, I say,’’

-X-

It was a couple of days later that Stiles decides to invite Derek for a little gathering. He’s now in Provence for more then a week and it’s time for Stiles to put his little plan in motion: How to get Derek to fall in love with the place and its people and convince him not to sell it. Isaac said the plan has a freaking long title, so Stiles shortened it to HGDFL, which seems to be some weird BDSM sexual position, but anyways. It’s effective.

Stiles is waiting on the sidewalk of the hotel Derek is staying. He does not stalk him, but he can say he stays long minutes at a time in the hope to see him. He doesn’t have his cell phone number, from what he gathers from the other nosy and too curious for their own good inhabitants, he doesn’t get out much, he hasn’t seen him since they had lunch together, and it was at least 5 days ago. But today is his luck; he sees Derek, phone pressed to his ear, walk nonchalantly out of the big and pristine doors of the 5 stars’ hotel. He grimaces, obviously not liking what he hears on the phone. Stiles, trying to look casual, cross the street to meet him.

‘’Hey, man!’’ he says, trying to look like he just spots him and he didn’t know he was on the phone. Derek turns around and his severe frown deepen, but soften almost immediately when he sees Stiles’ beaming face.

‘’Stiles,’’ he greets with a nod. ‘’I’ll call you later, Laura.’’ He hangs up the phone but before doing so, Stiles hears a female voice shrieking, so the hanging up is definitely not mutual. Interesting.

‘’Girlfriend?’’ Stiles asks a little bit too quickly for his taste, and he can feel himself blush.

‘’Uh, what?’’ Derek asks dumbly, then realizes. ‘’Oh, no! My sister. She wanted my help on something at our company.’’ At Stiles’ confused and apprehensive look, he explains further. ‘’I wanted to go back there as soon as I can, but the brat doesn’t want me there. I swear, this selling thing was just a plot to get me out of there. Vacation, or some shit like that.’’

‘’She wants to look after you. That’s sweet.’’ Stiles shrugs. As the silence stretch, Stiles remembers why he waited 45 minutes near the hotel (I mean, it’s totally not stalking and the guy needs to go out sometime). ‘’Anyways, I was wondering if you’re free tonight. I’m throwing a party.’’

‘’A… party?’’ Derek says and he looks unsure, very unsure. Stiles backtracks.

‘’Not a big party, if that’s not your thing. There won’t be like a thousand of people with date rape and alcohol and booming bass and… yeah, I’m shutting up, now.’’ He gives Derek a weak smile, suddenly afraid of his response. ‘’I mean, it’s more like a small gathering. A nice dinner. Lydia and I will cook. There will just have the people you already met; Lydia, Aiden, Isaac, Liam, Erica, Mason and my dad. I thought it would be nice if you join us,’’

“Okay,’’ Derek simple replies.

‘’Wait, what? I don’t have to beg you?’’ he frowns and Derek smiles softly and chuckles.

‘’I don’t know what kind of monsters you think I am, but I like to have fun sometimes.’’ Stiles nods vigorously.

‘’Yeah, aure! Totally. You can totally have fun. With me. I-I mean, with my friends and with your friends to, and your sister. I mean, totally.’’

‘’Where, then?’’

‘’At my place,’’ Derek scrunches his nose.

‘’Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve seen your place. It seems like you only have place for like two people.’’

‘’Three, actually. Well, it’s build for two but Isaac is so lanky he takes practically no place. When Peter was alive, I used to spend all my time at his place.’’

‘’Then do the party at the manor,’’

‘’Really?’’ Stiles asks, shocked and flattered.

‘’Yeah. I mean, this time I won’t caught you sneaking upstairs.’’

‘’Well, I didn’t know you were coming that very day.’’ The phones rings and Derek looks down at it and sighs.

‘’Work?’’ Derek nods. ‘’Yeah, of course. I won’t keep you long. I’ll go. I’ll totally go.’’

‘’Stiles?’’ Derek says at Stiles’ retreating back. He stops and looks over his shoulder. ‘’Instead of stalking me, why don’t you come inside and ask for me, next time?’’

‘’I was not stalking you!’’

‘’The doorman says you totally were.’’ Derek hides a smirk as he touches the screen of his super 2016 new model or whatever the hell it is, and leaves in Stiles’ opposite direction, leaving the young man flabbergasted.

 

-X-

‘’Guys, guys! Okay, he’s here.’’ Stiles says as he looks out of the window from the living room. ‘’He’s totally here.’’

‘’You seem awfully excited about this dinner, Stiles. Are you sure it’s not a date?’’ Isaac asks from where he’s sprawled on the wooden floor.

‘’Lydia!’’ he shouts, ignoring Isaac. ‘’Est-ce que le dîner est prêt? Qu’est-ce qu’il va préféré, tu crois? Le fromage bleu ou…’’

‘’Blue cheese is disgusting,’’ Erica retorts from the kitchen.

‘’Shut up,’’ Stiles huffs.

‘’Diner’s ready, Stiles. Don’t worry.’’ Lydia says lightly as she walks from counter to counter in the big kitchen of the Hales. ‘’Calm the fuck down. You’re ready to pass out,’’

‘’Yeah, you don’t want your boyfriend to see you unconscious on the hard cold floor,’’

‘’Shut up, Isaac. Derek was kind enough to give us his uncle’s house for the day,’’ Isaac scoffs at that.

‘’You totally use the house, like, all the time.’’

‘’This is not the point, Isaac. Why doesn’t he come out of his car?’’ he asks urgently. He turns to face Liam and Isaac and point a long finger in their direction. ‘’Behave.’’ He warns. ‘’And don’t start conversation in French just to make him uncomfortable. Understood?’’ He straightens his shirt and his hair to make it looks messier and spikier. Lydia always says that his longer hair suits him perfectly and gives him a bad boy look. He’d take her words. ‘’I’ve never thought I would say that, but Mason is right. We make him love us, and he doesn’t sell,’’

‘’That’s utter bullsh…’’ a knocking interrupt Lydia’s rant and Stiles goes to open the door, but Aiden, who came out of the backward, gives Stiles a sly smirk and opens it. Stiles grits his teeth and hovers just behind Aiden.

‘’Hey, stranger,’’ Aiden says, showing off his white teeth. Derek’s smile wavers, obviously surprise that Aiden is the one to open the door, but his confidence takes control once more when he spots Stiles just behind the brick wall that is Aiden’s defined body.

‘’Hi, Aiden. Stiles,’’ he nods and Stiles waves. ‘’I brought you wine.’’

‘’Oh, good! Let him in, Aiden,’’ He lets the man pass and as Derek was busy looking at the high ceiling and obviously looking for any different the house made over the years, Aiden whispers in his ear.

‘’I did you a favor.’’

‘’What are you talking about?’’ he urgently whispers back.

‘’He totally checked my bod out. It means he plays for your team.’’ He winks at him and made his way in the kitchen to be with Lydia. Stiles turns around to see Derek looking at him, curiosity and… something else written in his green eyes.

‘’You totally heard that,’’

‘’I totally did,’’ he replies and Stiles doesn’t know if he should feel horrified, but the small smile Derek gives him makes him feel at ease. He takes Derek’s wine and looks at it. He looks at the label and giggles.

‘’American wine?’’

‘’Not only France can make great wine, you know.’’

‘’Oh, I’m sure. Now, come on. Everybody is in the backward.’’

And diner was a success, it seems. Derek is charming and eloquent. He answers everybody’s questions, he shamelessly flirts back with Erica and Mason, he compliments Lydia’s food, was introduced to the beautiful nurse, Melissa, who’s like a mother to Stiles.

‘’So, what do you do in life, Derek?’’ the sheriff had asked him around a mouthful of ratatouille and roast beef. ‘’Peter said you own a company.’’

‘’That’s right,’’ he had retorted. ‘’My dad built a company in demolition. When he died, my older sister took over as CEO.’’

‘’So… what’s you job, exactly?’’ Isaac had asked.

‘’He destroys buildings for a living, dummy,’’ Lydia had said, rolling her eyes.

‘’Oh, is that what you’re going to do, here?’’ Liam had asked. ‘’Destroying the land? Destroying the fields’’

And after that, it was silent for a few moments. So, okay. It was almost a success.

‘’Is anyone wants some pie?’’ Stiles says, overly excited to break the discomfort. ‘’I have lemon pie with extra meringue, pecan pie or strawberries pie. Derek, you coming? You can choose your flavors from there,’’ he says, tugging at his sleeve to get him to follow him.

‘’I’m sorry about this,’’ Stiles finally says as he cuts the pies; Derek does the same.

‘’It’s okay,’’ he shrugs. ‘’It’s true, though. I mean, I work in destroying buildings, that’s what my company is here for.’’

‘’Yeah, but…’’ he doesn’t know how, or when Stiles began to take Derek’s side, but at this moment, he does. It’s maybe the hunch of his shoulders, or Liam’s remark, but he can’t help but taking his defence. ’’Those building; you destroy them because people don’t want them anymore. They want to rebuilt something more magnificent than the old ones.’’ Derek stops cutting his pie, and looks strangely at Stiles.

‘’I’ve never thought about this that way.’’

‘’Do you like your job?’’ Stiles asks and by the look Derek gives him, he doesn’t know why he opens his big mouth.

‘’I’m successful at it. I meet lots of people and I make really good money. What’s not to like?’’ he licks some meringue from his finger and put the plates on a big rack to get to the backward, without a glance at Stiles. And the younger man just realize he didn’t say if he loves his job; just the pros of it.

It’s been three weeks since Derek arrived and surprisingly enough, after the dinner they had at the Hale house, he asks Stiles questions about how they produce the lavender and what exactly they do with it. He spends less and less time up in his hotel room with only friend his cellphone, and more and more time outside with, again a surprise, Stiles.

‘’So, this is where the magic happens,’’ Stiles exclaims as he went, one afternoon, deep into the lavender field. It smelled divine, that day. Derek could remember that, and remembers the days he spent running in the foliage with his sisters. ‘’We don’t have a big ass factory where fucking robots do our job; Peter liked it simple. He was approached on multiple occasions to make the business bigger, you know. Going outside of Provence and getting the big dough. But he always refuses. He wanted to give back to the community.’’ He stops abruptly and Derek almost bumped into him. ‘’It’s a family business; always was, always will.’’ Stiles retorts and looks down at the flowers. They were almost at his waist. ‘’Now, we have to cut them. Usually Isaac and Liam can get thirty batch of flowers in 2 hours.’’

Stiles gesticulated so much he had to restrain himself from jumping up and down; it’s been a while since he had to explain to someone new how to produce lavender; it shouldn’t be something big, but for Stiles, it was. It’s his passion, his job, what he grew up around, so he explained all of it to Derek who was surprisingly attentive.

‘’So, when we have a bunch of flowers, we harvest them. We bind them with a sturdy rubber band around the base of the stems. Take the bunches to a drying area as soon as possible to prevent the color from fading. The drying area should be dark, dry, and have good ventilation. The bunches are hung upside-down until dry.’’ He says rapidly. ‘’You do see that big tent at the end of the field? It’s there we stock our products. Then, it’s off on the market! Lydia buy some lavenders, naturally, and the flowers boutiques just love them. But we also sell to the farmer’s market downtown. We specialize on edible lavender, though.’’ He takes a breather. ‘’Any questions?’’ For once in his life, Derek didn’t have any comeback, or anything to say. He is awestruck.

‘’I just… I’ve never seen someone so passionate about something.’’

‘’I always say you gotta love what you do in life. Otherwise, it’s just a miserable life.” He shrugs and yes, in that moment, Derek is oddly silent.

And after that faithful day, Derek came out of his shell a little; Laura wants him to take a break, that’s what he’ll do. He spends time with Stiles whom he found strangely fascinating and entertaining, he’s becoming obsessed with Lydia’s food and doesn’t know if Mason and Erica want to fuck him or just flirt. Stiles says it’s maybe both, so he doesn’t know if he should be scared, or turn on.

But most of all, it’s the strange feeling he has in his guts; that comfortable feeling that he didn’t have for years. That in a month, he already feels like coming back home.

And that’s when he decides to ignore the hotel in order to move back in Peter’s house.

‘’What changed your mind?’’ Stiles had asked on that rainy day that he decides to move all his stuff back. Derek only shrugged, trying to hide a smirk.

‘’I figured that if I stay a while, might as well stay here. And like you said, this house needs another soul to warm its walls.’’

‘’It sounds too creepy when it’s you who said it,’’ and, okay, he decides to move back for two reasons. Number one: the memories of his past when he spent all his summers here don’t leave him alone and he still wants to remember. He still wants to get closer to when he was the happiest. And number two: who are we kidding; if he was going to spend all his afternoons with Stiles, he may as well live closer to him. On a totally platonic reason. That’s all.

And, of course, on the fifth week of his big arrival, at the beginning of July, that’s when shit hits the fan.

Kate Argent came back.

Chapter 4

Derek is cleaning the living room. With Peter gone and with almost zero activity in the house, dust began to fall on the old furniture – well, the furniture still present. He hears a thud upstairs and knows immediately who it is. Rolling his eyes with a fond look, he says: ‘’You know you can use the door,’’ in an empty old house, his voice reasons and he doesn’t need to raise his voice to be heard from upstairs.

‘’And you know I used to…’’

‘’Always use the windows, I know,’’ Derek continues the sentence as Stiles walks down the stairs. He doesn’t know how it happens, but one minute he was annoyed by this kid, and the next, he finds his attitude quite charming. In more than a month, they’ve been from weird acquaintances with a not so great start, to actually be good friends. He thinks that when his time will come to go back to the USA, he’s going to miss his friendship with Stiles the most. ‘’But one day, you’ll break your neck, and don’t you dare come running to me and cry about it.’’

‘’If I break my neck, I’d probably be dead,’’ Stiles laughs. ‘’Nah. It won’t happen. I’m too agile.’’

‘’Says the guy who tripped on the grass yesterday.’’

‘’The grass was wet, so it doesn’t count,’’ he says as he crosses his arms over his chest. ‘’Anyways, since you moved in to my greatest joy, I came to help you cleaning up.’’

‘’How thoughtful of you,’’ Derek replies with a sarcastic scowl, but it soon softens. ‘’The broom is in the closet.’’

‘’The broom?’’ Stiles asks, arching an eyebrow. ‘’In what century to do live in?’’

‘’Uh?’’ Derek says, confused, because what’s wrong with a broom?

‘’A Swiffer, Derek. A Swiffer! What do you think, because we live in the ole’ country side we have to have to live in the last century? Peter always had one in… ah! Got it,’’ he exclaims as he opens the closest near the hall. ‘’Never heard of that?’’

‘’Well, I have my own cleaning lady back in L.A,’’ he shrugs, like having someone cleaning your crap behind you is no big deal.

‘’Oh, of course. With the money you’re making Mr. Businessman, how can I forget you have your own little servant to wipe your ass?’’ Stiles retorts with a teasing smile.

‘’Shut up,’’ Derek says as he cleans a shelf of the library. He looks at it and thinks it looks pathetic; a whole beautiful library with no books in it.

‘’What are you looking at?’’ Stiles asks as he stops cleaning the floor to look at Derek who had completely stop.

‘’Just… how the house is kind of empty. Look at the library; kind of ruin it.

‘’Yeah…’’ Stiles says. ‘’Peter always has it full of books. When I was a kid, I just loved searching for the right book. When I finished it, I came back and found another one. Peter always had new books to his collection, so I always had a new adventure.’’ He sais and his voice was tainted with sadness. ‘’We gave the books to goodwill when he passed away, but I kept a few.’’ Derek looks at him then, and smiles.

‘’You can put them back on the shelfs, if you want.’’

‘’Really?’’ Stiles asks, excitingly. ‘’That’ll be great! I only have enough room for me, Isaac and Liam in our house. No place for books. Well, that and my cereal Nesquick. I literally can’t leave my cereal behind.’’

‘’Don’t you eat anything else than your Nesquick?’’ Derek asks and chuckles.

‘’Nope! Dude, it’s chocolate, and like, the milk turns chocolate, too! Who doesn’t like that?’’

‘’I don’t,’’ Derek retorts.

‘’Yeah, because you’re boring and you only eat stuff like Special K or that granola shit.’’

‘’It’s not boring, it’s healthy. And Nesquick is for kids.’’

‘’Nuh uh!’’ Stiles exclaims as Derek tries to ruffle his hair, he runs upstairs to continue cleaning.

And that’s when, when Derek hears Stiles voice upstairs and the rumble of an engine, that his easy friendship with Stiles will be a little bit more complicated.

‘’Derek,’’ Stiles yells from the stairs. ‘’There’s car, like a freaking luxurious car that’s pulling in front of the house!’’ he informs him.

Derek comes to the big windows and sees an attractive woman with a nice built and shiny blonde hair coming out of the car. She’s dressed entirely in black and Derek knows oh so well her smirk. Derek cusses under his breath. He knows she was going to come soon; she’s the buyer and future owner of the Hale’s lavender. But she didn’t email him or calls him to tell him she was going to come today. He faintly hears Stiles commenting about the nice slick Porsche but his ears are buzzing and his palms are sweaty. He doesn’t know what’s happening to him. He’s usually so confidence while meeting a new client, but maybe it’s because Kate arrives by surprise, and he’s not dressed in suit and tie to welcome her and talk business, or maybe it’s because he knows Kate way too much and intimately to think straight. But she is the biggest buyer; so go big or go home, right?

‘’…Rek? Derek?’’ Stiles repeats, moving a hand in front of his eyes. A knock comes to the door.

‘’Aren’t you going to answer that?’’ Stiles asks. Derek takes a deep breath and exhales.

‘’It’s Kate Argent.’’

Stiles’ eyes widen. ‘’No shit.’’ He comes to the window and peaks outside. ‘’No fucking shit. You didn’t tell me that it was so soon,’’ he murmurs and Derek could hear the taint of bitterness and accusation in his voice.

‘’I didn’t know she was coming today,’’

‘’That bitch is going to strut her stuff like she owns the place, doesn’t she?’’ Stiles asks to no one in particular, scowl well in place.

‘’Technically, she’s going to own the place very soon.’’ He points a finger in Stiles’ face and looks straight in his eyes. ‘’And you behave.’’

‘’Like an angel,’’ Stiles says almost too sweetly, but Derek is already at the door to notice his tone of voice.

As he opens the door, the falsely sweet voice of Kate Argent is enough to make Stiles gag and hang himself. She looks Derek up and down with a predatory look and when she meets his eyes, she frowns.

‘’Wrong time?” she asks as she notices his laid back clothes; dirty jeans with wholes (that Stiles totally thinks hugs his ass perfectly) with a white V-neck.

‘’Well, you haven’t called to say you were coming, like today,’’

‘’I wanted more time to see what I’m going to own,’’ she shrugs good naturally. ‘’Plus, I terribly miss my big brother and my favorite niece. I couldn’t stay in L.A for much longer.’’ She replies. ‘’Besides, I’m staying at La Bastide, and what a surprise when they told me that the Hale heir decided to reside here for the remaining of his stay.’’

‘’Well, I like the place,’’

‘’Mm… won’t you let me come in, or do you want to talk, later?’’

‘’I- huh, no, come in,’’ Kate walks in the hall and looks at the manor with disdain like she owes the place, she looks at it with such attitude and distant interest that it’s like Stiles had never spend the best years of his life here, or that the Christmas parties Peter used to host were not the biggest event of the year, or…

He just hates her.

‘’It’s so old,’’ Kate says, still not looking at the living room. ‘’Once this belongs to me, that’s the first thing I’m going to put to the ground.’’

Stiles is completely and utterly livid. And hurt.

And he still holds the green Swiffer with white knuckled when she acknowledged him for the first time. She widens her eyes, obviously she didn’t think Derek had company, but then a smile grace her lips.

‘’I see you got a cleaning boy, Derek,’’ She says to him with a sweet smile.

‘’Kate….’’ Derek says, but she continues to speak.

‘’Trying to get more money for college, kid?’’ Stiles doesn’t speak, because really, she doesn’t deserve his time, or his breath, or his energy.

‘’You missed a spot, there,’’ she says as she traces a finger on the dusty table Derek hadn’t finished. ‘’Mm… of course, you can’t understand me. My French is a little rusty, but…’’

‘’Oh, please, save your breath,’’ Stiles says and ignores the way Derek stare at him to command him to shut the hell up. She doesn’t deserve his time, but he won’t let her play him like he’s just a stupid kid. ‘’I’m French, I’m not stupid. I can easily insult you in three different languages; but it’s nothing compared to my friend Lydia who can have something to tell about your hideous bleach hair in six languages. Plus, classical and archaic Latin. Now, That’s impressive.’’

‘’Sorry,’’ Kate says in a clipped tone. ‘’But who are you?’’

‘’Definitely not a cleaning boy.’’ He says with hard eyes, because really, it really hurt his ego. And because he saw how Kate looks at Derek and maybe it can be fun to play with it for a little bit as he replies: ‘’But I’m Derek’s fuck boy.’’ And okay, Derek is going to kill him for that, but it’s worth it with the way Kate is looking at him right now. Jealousy; he’s right about her. She so wants Derek. ‘’That’s right; I just gave him the best blow job ever.’’

Before Kate fucking Argent can say anything else, he smiles sweetly at her. ‘’Anyways, I’ll leave you two alone. I’m sure you have plenty things to discuss.’’ He flees the scene, leaving his Swiffer behind, and two dumbstruck people behind.

-X-

Kate is looking at him in a way that unnerve him; it always has. The way she smirks, like she knows something Derek doesn’t and the way she looks at him like she’s in control. It’s annoying.

Kate Argent is a successful businesswoman who left Provence to pursue her own goals. She works in real-estate and with a woman like her; beautiful, headstrong, manipulative and smart, it didn’t take long for her company to built and be big in Chicago. Through various soirées and other events, that’s where she met Derek and had her claws gripping his heart.

When Stiles left in a hurry, Kate turns her sharp gaze on Derek. ‘’What an interesting boy,’’ she says with a smirk. ‘’With a mouth like that, he can go far.’’ She muses.

‘’Don’t even try to persuade him to work for you. He hates everything that is attached with cooperation.’’

‘’Well, he sure talks a lot.’’

‘’His mouth will get him in trouble, someday.’’ Derek grumbles and just realizes that they are still standing in the hall. ‘’Uh, would you like something to drink? I was just cleaning a little…’’ he trails off as he goes in the kitchen. Everything in the house is old and that’s what make it its charm; to the hard-wooden floor, to the tapestry on the walls, except the kitchen. It’s all stainless steel and Derek can actually see his uncle Peter’s modern touch to it.

‘’Make it a chai tea. With some spice in it; you know how I like it spicy,’’ she says and she almost purrs the word Spicy. He ignores it. She leans her whole body unto the doorframe, enjoying Derek works in the kitchen. ‘’For all the years I know you, I’ve never seen you in jeans or a simple t-shirt. You’re always so… uptight, with the suit and ties.’’

Derek gives her a forced smile. ‘’That’s the required attire when you do business. I would have dressed more appropriately if I knew you’d come today. I would have reserved a table at the hotel.’’ He pours the hot liquid in a cup. ‘’I was just cleaning, so…’’ he shrugs.

‘’Mm… just cleaning. I’ve never seen you clean, before either.’’

‘’Yeah, well. I just wanted it,’’ he defends himself. ‘’Stiles helped me. With the house, I mean.’’ He gives the beverage to her.

‘’But you do know that it’s useless, right?’’ she says as she takes a small sip. ‘’This old house is going to be the first thing I burn.’’

‘’What you will do once you own the property does not concern me,’’ he says and he tries to ignore the feeling of his chest tighten when he says these words. ‘’But in the meantime, I live here. I do what I want.’’

Kate is, by this point, snooping around. She opens cardboards like it is her own house and hummed to herself. She opens one cardboard in particular and freeze when she sees the cereal boxes. ‘’Oh, Derek. I may think I don’t know you, but I do. Nesquick? You’ve never eaten it in your entire life. You even told me so.’’

‘’That’s not mine.’’ Kate turns around and tilts her head.

‘’It’s Stiles’,’’ he says simply and watching her going all kind of emotions at once is quite amusing, if he says so.

‘’Funny that you have a boy you barely know slipping into your house, in your intimacy like that.’’

‘’He’s not a stranger,’’ he scoffs. ‘’And I don’t know how it concerns you. He’s always around here, anyways, so might as well have things he likes.’’

She puts the box rather forcefully inside the cardboard and smiles broadly at Derek.

‘’I saw Laura at the COOP Gala the other night,’’ she announces. ‘’She was representing your company.’’

‘’I hope she was, she’s the CEO,’’ he says it seriously, but he hopes that she can hear the sarcasm behind his words.

‘’It’s a shame you aren’t there, though.’’ She pauses. ‘’But the country guy look suits you. It’s sexy,’’ she admits and a few years ago, he would have blush, find it endearing and arousing. But now, he’s only feeling annoyed and empathic towards her.

‘’If you have nothing else to say, I can get the papers upstairs, officialising you as the new owner. You won’t be the owner today, but we can start by looking at the contract, the assurance, and all that jazz. I receive the papers from the bank the other week; if everything goes according to plan, you will be the new owner in a few weeks.’’ He says, clapping his hands together and goes to climb the stairs who were next to the kitchen, but Kate’s amused voice stopped him.

‘’What’s the rush, Derek?’’ she asks. ‘’Tired of me, already?

Yes. ‘’No,’’ he says.

‘’I wasn’t supposed to be here for a couple of weeks, there’s plenty of times.’’ She reaches him and put a gentle hand on his shoulder to make him look at him. ‘’I just flew early, ‘cause I miss my brother and my favorite niece,’’ she says in a overly sweet tone that Derek knew she was lying. ‘’Besides, I want to meet with a contractor, because –‘’ she turns around herself, looking manic with the way her eyes shines -but not in the way Stiles’ shine, so pure and amused- but with a crazed look to it and Derek wonders how, and why, he once found her attractive. ‘’I’m going to turn this place into a resort Hotel business is blooming these days.’’

-X-

Derek finds Stiles on a hill not far from the Hale’s manor a couple of hours after Kate finally decides to leave the property. He needs some air and some time alone to sulk, so he decides to wander around the lavender field, smelling the flowers’ perfume. And that’s when he sees him, sitting on the highest hill surrounding the property. As he climbs it, he suddenly remembers long afternoons in the summers of the glory days with only him, and his sisters, climbing this very same hill and tumbling down, laughing openly, with not a care in the world.

Stiles is playing with the grass and he is frowning. Derek hesitates; he’s not used seeing his friend so down; he’s usually the one to crack a joke or to put a smile on that ‘’broody face of yours.’’ From up there, they can see the endless purple see with the same in the middle of it, like a beacon, guiding people home.

‘’Why the long face?’’ Derek asks as he sits next to Stiles, nudging his shoulder with his lightly. He already knows the answer and hopes that his new fragile friendship with the young man is not going to shatter.

‘’You guess,’’ Stiles grumbles.

Derek sighs. ‘’She’s gone, now. You can come back to the house, if you want.’’ He offers weakly and Stiles shakes his head, looking straight away, eyes narrowed and jaw tight. ‘’You knew this was going to happen, Stiles.’’ He says gently.

‘’You told me she wasn’t going to be here for at least, another month.’’

‘’She wanted to come back sooner because she misses her family.’’

‘’And you believe her?’’ Stiles asks, laughing bitterly.

‘’Whatever her reasons, and no matter if she was suppose to come later, you know the day will come and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.’’ Derek argues firmly.

‘’If you had given me more times, I could’ve persuade you!’’ Stiles says louder, crossing his arms over his chest. There was a pause, then Derek began to talk.

‘’This isn’t a game, Stiles. I’m selling the place and that’s final. You may not love her, but she’s a fierce businesswoman who can turn this place into a real touristic avenue, Stiles. Think about all the job opportunities she will create, about…’’

‘’You still don’t get it, do you?’’ Stiles asks abruptly. He turns to face Derek, his eyes angry and hard. His once light and honeyed colored eyes were now a darker shade of brown, almost black. ‘’Your uncle business is a family business, and a very lucrative one at that. We may not be some sort of fancy international cooperation, and we don’t want to be, but we prosper. Gordes is full of tourists every summer, but we like the fact that we are still a family and that this business stays with family. Peter doesn’t want what Kate wants’’

‘’But Peter is dead,’’ Derek says vehemently and it’s the wrong thing to say, if Stiles’ expression, disappointed and hurt, says anything.

‘’What do you see?’’ Stiles asks as he points at the purple flowers growing, and moving with the gentle wind.

‘’Flowers,’’ Derek says, agitated because there’s nothing he can say or do that will get pass Stiles’ thick skull.

‘’What we do for a living,’’ Stiles says. ‘’Every seed we plant, every flower that grows, we do this for centuries. Your family, Derek, is doing it for a very long time. It’s your blood, Derek. That’s your heritage you’re ready to sell off.’’ Stiles reminds him. He stands up slowly. ‘’I hope you realize that.’’

-X-

Stiles comes to the house when Derek is rubbing his tired eyes. He’s looking at the papers Kate gave him before leaving the property to get a start to destitute him and his sisters as owners and give Katherine Argent all rights for the property. They have to meet with a lawyer and a contractor to get everything in order.

In a month, tops, everything will be done and over with and his sister couldn’t force him anymore to be here and he can go back to work and everything will be forgotten, just like he promised himself the first day he touched the French land, a little over a month ago.

But then, something happened. Or rather someone and, for Jesus Christ, he needs to get drunk. His need and want to leave and go back to California like he originally planned don’t really feel appealing, anymore. It makes it a burden, even. He blames it on Stiles. He blames it on how beautiful and picturesque and calm Gordes is compared to the busy life and over-populated and polluted City of Angels. He blames Lydia and her fucking good food.

He blames everything and everyone, but really, the only one to blame is him; he’s falling in love with the place. As he looks around the Hale house, everything looks the same as he remembers. And when he closes his eyes, he can faintly hear the laughter of a young boy -him- and the distinct voice of Peter, chasing him around the house. He can also hear his mother’s giggle and his father’s rough laugh, even though it was maybe forced. Leo Hale -who had taken his wife’s last name for love- never liked the land, but it doesn’t alter the good memories Derek has of his late father.

He’s fucked. And looking at the big price Kate is ready to give him for the land is ridiculous and he throws the papers away, sighing deeply. And that’s when he hears it; a faint thud from upstairs. Knowing who it is in a heartbeat, he decides to wait for Stiles to come down. The day before, they left angry at each other and now he just feels ashamed and he happens to miss this kid. Quite a lot.

‘’Hey,’’ Stiles says at the doorway, looking unsure. Derek, sprawls on the couch, gives him a nod and a smile. His eyes are soft and Stiles’ loose posture shows him that he’s calm as well, collected.

‘’Hey,’’ he repeats.

‘’You busy?’’ Stiles asks as he eyes the papers on the coffee table.

‘’Oh, no. I’m never busy when it concerns you,’’ Derek says and internally wince; that was so corny but Stiles doesn’t look like he minds.

‘’I’m sorry’’

‘’I’m sorry,’’ They says at the same time. Stiles laughs, relief. He approaches the couch, playing with his long fingers nervously. ‘’I mean, we’re friends, right? I hate to fight with friends.’’

‘’Me, too.’’ Stiles sits next to Derek. ‘’You know what I hate the most? Making you sad,’’ Derek admits.

‘’I was sad,’’ Stiles agrees. ‘’But I was also angry. And I shouldn’t have talk about things that are not my business. I was out of line.’’

Derek studies his face for a long moment; but the quiet is welcomed. It’s not awkward, nor is weird. It’s so different than when he was with Kate. She always needed to talk and complain and do something and if you stay silent, you’re suddenly boring. With Stiles, Derek can just think and be still.

‘’Tell you what,’’ he says. ‘’Tonight, there’s no Kate, there’s no selling, there’s no nothing. It’s just you and me.’’

‘’And lava cake?

‘’Of course,’’ Derek says, beaming at his friend.

‘’Let’s get wasted,’’ Stiles declares as he stands up. ‘’Peter has a wine cellar. Scott and I had a lot of trouble in our youth when we discovered the joy of alcohol,’’

‘’I would have loved to see it.’’ Derek snorts.

‘’Peter, my dad and Melissa were not amused.’’ Stiles muses as he almost run to go downstairs.

An hour later and four empty bottles of red wine, Derek feels relaxed and giddy. He’s laying on the floor with Stiles’ head on his stomach, looking at the ceiling with a content smile and tired eyes.

‘’Can I ask you a question? I want- I want to ask you a question,’’ Derek mumbles, and his words sounds muffle to his own ears.

‘’Wha’zit?’’

‘’What’s a Stiles?’’ he asks sleepily, drawing circles in the air lazily with his fingers. Suddenly, Stiles shakes with laughter. ‘’Was’ so funny?’’

‘’When I moved here, it was the first thing Lydia said to me. S’funny, that’s all.’’

‘’Then… what’s a Stiles? I doubt your parents named you Stiles Stilinski.’’

‘’I changed to Stiles when I was still living in California,’’ Stiles says. ‘’Maybe I was… 4, 5? People butchered my name. It’s not a long name, though. They were just stupid. Stupid people.’’ Stiles says slowly, drifting slowly to sleep, but Derek pinches his side.

‘’I bet it’s a cute French name,’’ Derek teases.

‘’It is. I just always stick with Stiles. It’s easier for foreigner like you,’’ Stiles chuckles and clumsily reach for the last bottle of wine near Derek’s head.

‘’Then what is it?’’

‘’Éloi,’’

‘’Éloii.’’ Derek says with an accent.

‘’See?’’ Stiles giggles. ‘’You butchered. Let’s have a little French lesson, shall we?’’ He sits up and looks down at Derek. ‘’the accent on the E is pronounced like Ey. The letters OI together make the sound ouwa.’’

‘’Oh,’’ Derek says. ‘’How do you say wine, in French?’’ Derek takes the bottle from Stiles’ hand and drinks the last drops of the red liquid.

“Vin.’’

‘’How do you say lavender?’’

‘’You know this one.’’ Stiles scoffs, but plays the game. ‘’Lavande.’’ Derek looks at a painting at the far wall of the living room; it always intrigued him; it was a vast lavender field and the sunset on the portrait make the color purple deeper and more colorful than ever.

‘’How do you say purple?’’

‘’Mauve.’’

‘’Sunset?’’

‘’Couché de soleil.’’ He looks back at the ceiling and Stiles lay back down, head resting in the crook of Derek’s neck and shoulder.

‘’How do you say ceiling?’’

‘’Plafond.’’

They stay like that, in silence, for at least 5 minutes, before Stiles speaks.

‘’Now that you know my real name, it’s my turn to ask you a question.’’

‘’Ask away.’’

Since they become friends, they never really talk about touchy subjects or just personal subjects in general. It’s always superficial stuff that make the other smile, and just overall little things to get to know the other, but now, Stiles is curious. And a curious Stiles is a fidgety Stiles.

‘’Why did you never come back? Peter always said you used to spend your summers here.’’

Derek is silent and for a moment, Stiles thinks he made a mistake and he overstep in his friendship with Derek. But then, he talks.

‘’Family feud,’’ he shrugs. ‘’My mom used to work here, with Peter and the rest of the Hale family. In her early 20, she made a trip to the US. She met my dad, fell in love. My dad was a serious businessman; he was a good guy, a great father. He actually built the company my sister and I own, today. He fell in love with that French girl -he smiles at that- but he never liked our family business. He didn’t want to live in Provence; he had his own thing starting in California, so mom made the choice to follow him. Because of that, Peter and my dad never really got along.

Mom made dad accept our yearly trip to Provence, but then, it suddenly stopped. Dad said we were too old to waste our summers in the country, so it was that. But I think it was more because dad couldn’t stand Peter and how I worshipped the ground he walked on. He even snapped at me once when I talked about something Peter did that made me laugh… after that, it was just old memories and blurry images of lavenders and my dad shaped me to be the perfect little businessman that I am today.’’

‘’That’s… so wrong,’’ Stiles says and looks at Derek quickly to know if he had crossed a line by saying this about how his father raised him. Derek nods in agreement.

‘’But I’m glad Peter had you and your family.’’

‘’He was like an uncle to me.’’ Stiles admits.

They don’t speak for a few more minutes before Derek shifts a little and his face is inches away from Stiles’ face, hot breath hitting Stiles’ pale skin.

‘’Stiles?’’

‘’Yeah?’’ Stiles says breathlessly; he doesn’t know if it’s the effect of the alcohol making him all hot and out of breath, or the closeness he seems to be from Derek.

‘’How do you say kiss me, in French?’’

‘’W-well,’’ He licks his lips nervously. ‘’It’s Embrasse-moi. And don’t forget that…’’

‘’The letters OI together make the sound ouwa, I know.’’

Hot breaths mingle together before Derek presses his lips against Stiles’. They are soft and wet due to their drinking. When they part, Derek notices that Stiles is breathing fast.

‘’Is this okay?’’ he murmurs, cupping Stiles’ cheek with his hand. The younger man only nods and kiss him again deeper and longer. Stiles moans when the gentle kiss transform into something more passionate, hotter and thrilling. As they part again, neither of them had noticed that it’s now dark outside. They don’t know how long they were going at it, but they don’t care. All they care about is each other and to make the other feels good.

So they do, and it feels damn good. Derek guides Stiles to lay down as he kisses down Stiles’ neck. He reaches for his shirt and lift it up. He then caresses the soft and pale skin of Stiles’ abdomen and belly as he continues to kiss his mouth and his neck and he descends to leave a trail of butterfly kisses down his sternum and his bellybutton. At the touches, Stiles’ stomach cave in and he sighs deeply at what Derek does to his body.

‘’Still okay?’’ Derek asks again, ready to take off Stiles’ jeans. He nodded, wide-eyed as Derek finally discovers his whole naked body.

‘’You have to take off your clothes, too. This isn’t fair,’’ Stiles whines breathlessly. Derek only chuckles as he takes off his shirt, muscles flexing and Stiles can’t breathe for a moment. He doesn’t have an imperfection; everything is muscle and healthy skin with a rich tan to color his whole body. Stiles has beauty marks that he’s not always proud of and a skin color that someone can mistake for sour milk; but Derek, wow.

‘’You’re gorgeous,’’ Stiles admits as he reaches a hand to touch his firm skin. Derek scoffs as he grabs his wrist.

‘’No. You are.’’ He looks Stiles up and down and smile sincerely at him. ‘’You’re so beautiful.’’

Stiles suddenly laughs, throwing his head back. Derek arches an eyebrow.

‘’You’re killing the mood,’’

‘’I’m sorry,’’ he says as he stops laughing. ‘’It’s just that as much as I like the sweet talk, can we cut to the chase and fuck me?” he says seriously. ‘’I’m double-parked.’’

‘’You’re ridiculous,’’ Stiles doubles in laughter again and he lay back down and Derek follow him, being on top of him. ‘’You’re weird,’’ he admits with a smile as he tousles Stiles’ hair with his fingers.

‘’Come on, big guy. Make it count. Can you make me scream so people from Gordes can hear us?’’ he whispers in Derek’s ear. Derek trembles as Stiles lick his ear and put the lob in his mouth. That’s so filthy and Derek can’t remember the last time someone did this to him; probably Kate a long, long time ago. And right now, he can’t think about Kate when he has a naked Stiles beneath him.

‘’I can do that,’’ he murmurs.

‘’Here,’’ Stiles says as he pulls out a condom and lube from his discarded jeans.

‘’Come prepared, I see,’’ Derek says, a little surprise and relief, because he really wasn’t prepared for such activities. Stiles only shrugs.

‘’A guy can hope.’’ And soon enough, with three fingers in him, he was a moaning mess. And as Derek enters him and shush him with hungry kisses, they are just running against time. By that time, everything is dark and the moon is high; the clear light of the moon is the only light they have to reflect two glistering bodies writing on the dark wooden floor of the living room. The only sounds heard are skin hitting skin and the moans and whimpers they let out when things are too strong, when the connection between them is electrified.

And suddenly, it stops. An howl and the owl of a wolf can be heard in the distant, but Derek and Stiles only hear the beating of their hearts, ready to explode out of their ribcage.

The white cum is glistering on Stiles’ chest and when Derek rolls aside, he laughs. Happy and free.

‘’Well, shit,’’ he says breathlessly and Derek can’t agree more. He has a stupid smile on his face; ready to break his face, but he doesn’t remember the last time he had smile as widely. ‘’Usually, people date before they have sex,’’

‘’We’re in 2016, Stiles,’’ Derek says, chuckling. ‘’That’s so old school,’’ he takes off the used condom and wince at the lack of warmth his soft member is now missing.

‘’You slut,’’ Stiles giggles as he pinches Derek’s side.

‘’I didn’t hear you complain,’’ Derek muses and they look at the now dark ceiling, until Derek speaks again. ‘’But that was good. Good. Wasn’t it?’’

‘’Yeah, yeah. Really good. Like, fireworks good.’’

‘’Good,’’ Derek says, obviously content that his sexual drive can still satisfy someone.

‘’Good,’’ Stiles repeats as he takes Derek’s hand in his.

Chapter 5

A few days later, they can’t keep their hands off of each other. It’s intoxicating; the sex is just everything Stiles needs and wants. It’s totally platonic, though. Sex with a friend; friends with benefit. If Stiles says so himself, it’s just sex and nothing more. Really.

The most erotic thing Stiles have ever done was having sex in the lavender fields with Derek. Lydia does plenty outdoors sex with Aiden, and she always brags about it and about how thrilling it is to have the chance to get caught; Stiles didn’t know the thrill of it until he was the one doing it. It’s thrilling, and exciting. And that’s what it is about. Something was missing from his life, and sex with Derek was probably the thing missing.

‘’You have sex with him,’’ Lydia remarks as soon as Stiles enters the kitchen of the bistro. He arches an eyebrow, jaw slack.

‘’Is this so obvious?’’ he asks as he sits on a stool in front of the table where Lydia makes her desserts.

‘’Someone like your dad or Melissa won’t notice,’’ she says. ‘’But someone like me, or Erica, it’s written all over your pretty little face. In flashing lights.’’ She stops what she’s doing to sit in front of Stiles, studying his face. He has a pensive and perplex look. ‘’It’s good that you’re having a good time. When was the last time you had sex?’’ she asks, but it was more a statement, then a question, because she’s Lydia and she just knows every single thing. ‘’Oh, that’s right. Four years ago with that American tourist. What was her name, again? Heather.’’ She says with a smirk and Stiles rolls his eyes. He does not want to know how pathetic and non-existent his sex life was before Derek. Heather was his first and it wasn’t that spectacular; it was messy and too quick for his embarrassing teenager self. Then, there was Ethan, Aiden’s twin brother. They didn’t go all the way, but they messed around when he came to visit his brother a year ago. It was his first gay experience he had and he never mentioned it to Lydia, because as much as he loves her, there are things he wants to keep private.

She takes his hand in hers. ‘’Just, don’t fall in love with him,’’ she says gently, her green eyes scanning his face in her calculative way.

‘’I’m not- Lydia!’’ Stiles exclaims and he suddenly feels very embarrassed, like she is his actual mother talking about flowers and bees. ‘’It’s not like that; we’re just friends who happens to, you know...’’

‘’If you say so,’’ She says but she still holds his hand. ‘’But I also know that when you love, you tend to love too hard. Maybe it’s just sex now, but sex can complicate things, Stiles. This man is not going to stay here forever.’’

‘’Lydia, Lydz… I appreciate your concerns, but I don’t love him in that way. We’re just fooling around. You don’t have to worry about me.’’ He says, trying to smile for her.

‘’Ok,’’ Lydia retracts her hand. ‘’I just- I don’t want to see you get hurt. I just don’t want you to be disappointed when he leaves for California.’’

‘’Thanks, Lydia,’’ he softly says. He leans forwards to kiss her on the cheek.

‘’Ne tombe pas en amour avec lui,’’ she reminds him in French.

‘’I won’t, Lyds.’’

As the door of the restaurant opens and a tall blonde woman enters with a superior air and her nose scrunching in disgust as she looks around, Stiles groans. He looks out the kitchen window, Lydia hovering behind him. They watch as Erica takes her order; coffee, black. Just like his soul. Bitter, black and dull.

‘’Do you want me to spit in her coffee?” Lydia asks.

‘’No, but give me a minute and I’ll pee in her cup.’’ Stiles grumbles. “Derek told me that she wants to open some kind of resort; with a casino and all that jazz. He said she’ll open job opportunities and new businesses in town.’’

Lydia huffs. ‘’Yeah, sure. She’ll close our business to began anew.’’ Erica comes to the window, red lips pursed in kind of duck face. Stiles hates those selfie picture pose, but he has to admit that it looks good on Erica.

‘’The wicked witch wants to see you, Lydia,’’ she announces in a whisper, well aware that Kate Argent can easily hear her. Lydia gives Stiles a reassuring squeeze at his arm.

‘’Follow the yellow brick road, Dorothy,’’ Stiles jokes as she walks away. Stiles and Erica study the two women; first, they talk, then they argue, then they yell and it was all in beautiful French. God, Stiles had no idea French can sound so aggressive when they are at each other’s throat.

Mason had joined them, with an empty plate in one hand, when they had begun to shout at each other.

‘’Wow,’’ he says. ‘’Intense.’’

‘’You don’t say,’’ Stiles says, wide-eyed.

‘’You know, I learnt French and I’m good speaking it,’’ Mason says. ‘’But now they are just too fast for my little brain. What are they saying?’’ The remaining patrons are staying sit as they watch the scene; Lydia’s face has a red hue to match his hair, and Kate is smirking. Thankfully, they are all regulars.

‘’Basically, as soon as the lavender fields close, the bistro is going to go down as well.’’ Erica informs him and no flirty attitude comes, this time.

‘’Lydia’s food is 95% lavender based and that’s what makes it its trademark. You take that off, and the restaurant loses its success,’’ Stiles says.

‘’The wicked witch wants Lydia to work in her resort, but not even as a chef. As some mere employee serving cheap food. She says that she’s even lucky that she considers to give her a job at all.’’

‘’That bitch,’’ Mason exclaims.

As Kate walks out of the restaurant, an half empty and lukewarm coffee in her wake, Lydia comes back, anger bubbling at the surface.

‘’She wants me to work for her,’’ she seethes through clench teeth.

‘’Yeah, we heard that,’’ Mason says.

‘’And go back to work, you two,’’ She glares at Mason and Erica and they scatter away from her piercing green eyes.

After that, things only get worse. Kate, when Stiles sees her in town, act like she owns the whole place. She lifts her head like nothing can touch her, she drives her luxury car at a fast speed like she’s above the law and when she’s out in town with his brother in tow, Chris Argent looks like he regrets having her back in Provence.

Chris owns an archery and guns range a little out of town. When Kate decides to build her own company in Chicago, she asks Chris to follow her and he did. After a while, though, he decides to come back because Alison, after falling in love with Scott and working on the business they had built over the years, had refused to follow her aunt. Some people says it left Kate bitter that Chris left her to come back here.

When he came back a few years ago, he brought a homeless young man he grew attached to; Isaac. Peter took pity on the rebellious and abused teenager, and offered Isaac the job at the fields. And the rest is history.

On a sunny and hot day in July, Stiles and Derek are just walking down the streets. Derek throws his head back when Stiles says something funny and Stiles punches his arm lightly when he says something ridiculous. He couldn’t believe that the serious and broody rich business man has a great sense of humour. It’s so domestically fluffy, it should make him sick, considering they are just friends with a side bonus of fucking, but he could only smile as a woman he knows as the owner of the flower store said they make a great couple.

It was flattering, actually. And his stomach was fluttering.

Derek stops laughing when a tall and tan young man tackles Stiles from behind. Surprised, Stiles let out a shriek, but he automatically beams when he sees who was behind him.

‘’Scott!’’ he hugs the man tightly like his life depends on it. As they part, Stiles quickly makes the introduction.

‘’Scott, this is Derek Hale, Peter’s nephew? And Derek, this is my brother from another mother, Scott McCall.’’ Before Derek can say hi and shakes hands with someone who is clearly loved and important to Stiles, the man quickly speaks in Spanish with mischief in his big brown eyes.

‘’Uhh…’’

‘’Scott!’’ Stiles says, punching him lightly on the shoulder. ‘’Sorry about that, Derek. Scott just likes to speak Spanish to strangers just because he’s a jerk like that,’’

‘’Hey dude, what’s up?’’ Scott says easily with not a hint of an accent.

‘’Scott is from Madrid, actually,’’ Stiles says. ‘’He moved to Provence a little before I’ve arrived. Maybe that’s why we bonded the way we did; two fucking strangers on a new land.’’ Stiles jokes. ‘’What are you doing here, anyways? You are supposed to be in Spain!’’

‘’We spent 6 months in Spain, Stiles. I think it was time we come back.’’

They suddenly hear two female voices rise from the calm and quiet streets. One is clearly Kate and the other one Stiles recognize as Allison Argent.

‘’When from what we’ve heard as soon as we come back, it’s a good thing we come back today,’’ Scott says with a contrite face.

‘’What is going on?’’ Derek asks Stiles, but he shrugs. They turn a corner and see Allison and Kate arguing, Chris by his daughter’s side, trying to calm her down and Melissa trying to calm Kate down.

‘’You always hated that town, anyways,’’ Allison says, arms crossed. ‘’What, now. Chicago doesn’t satisfy your thirst for money and power you have to come here and taking the heritage of this town like the worm that you are,’’ by this point, she’s seething.

‘’I thought it would be a great opportunity to… spend more time with my family,’’ Kate says, her tone too sweet to be true.

‘’Bullshit,’’ Allison says in a hard voice that Stiles never heard before. ‘’You never cared about this family and you always said you were wasting away in this town. If that’s really how you feel, go ahead and leave. We don’t need you, here.’’

‘’What a shame. With a mouth like yours, you could bring some major leadership to my company.’’

‘’Don’t worry. I don’t want to work in a business that its whole purpose is to destroy things.’’

‘’Demolition business is actually in expansion,’’ she shrugs. ‘’But no, you want to stay in that shithole, falling in love with that Spaniard,’’ she says, glaring at Scott with disgust.

“That’s enough, Kate,’’ Chris interrupts her.

‘’Don’t worry, I won’t stay to live in this place. It’s merely business, Allison. I’ll be back in Chicago in no time.’’

She’s about to turn around and get in her car, when Stiles moves forward. ‘’Wait,’’ he says. Kate turns around, arches an eyebrow at him like it’s the first time she sees him.

‘’And you are?’’

‘’Derek’s fuck toy, remember me?’’ Stiles says without losing a beat. By Kate’s face, she remembers him alright. He ignores Scott’s kicked puppy surprised sound, Melissa’s slack jaw or Chris’ not so surprised expression by the Stilinski’s son.

‘’Oh, yeah. I remember you. You the keep boy who helps cleaning his dusty floor.’’

‘’Yeah, whatever,’’ he dismisses, because he’s not standing in front of her for that. But for his friend that after she closes the restaurant yesterday, she sobs on Stiles’ shoulder for an hour.

‘’You have no right talking to Lydia like that,’’

‘’Lydia who?’’ Kate asks.

‘’The red-haired girl at the bistro yesterday. She works her butt off to have this successful place and you’re ready to just take it from her.’’

‘’It’s business, sweetheart.’’

‘’Bullshit, it is. You practically rub it in her face and how grateful she should be that you’re destroying half of this town. You had no right to diminish her like that.’’ He yells in her face. ‘’So, fuck you.’’

Kate smirks, showing off her perfect and fake white teeth, because seriously, no one has teeth as white as hers. Everything is fake with her and from Erica’s perspective, who refuse to say she has any work done, but is surprisingly a pro at plastic surgery, said that Kate Argent totally had a nose and boob jobs.

‘’He’s a wild one, Derek. You better get him on a leash, he can bite.’’

With a cloud of dust, she’s gone.

-X-

Derek is sitting crossed-legs, shirtless with his grey jobbing pants, on his bed. Papers are scattered around him, a pen in his mouth and a severe frown on his face as he tries to concentrate.

He barely flinches now when he hears the usual noise indicating that Stiles is climbing the house. He pockes his head through the window and his smile is blinding and suddenly, Derek feels the pressure and the boredom leave his body.

‘’Hey, stranger,’’ Stiles says as he fully enters the big bedroom.

‘’If you keep climbing my window like that, I’d start to think you’re Joey and I’m Dawson.’’

He goes straight to the bed and starfish on it, making both of them bouncing with the impact.

‘’Stiles, my papers!’’ Derek reprimands but he hardly hid a smirk. ‘’I’m working, asshole.’’

‘’Dawson’s creek, really? I’d never thought I’d see the day where Derek Hale would say a pop culture reference.’’

Stiles doesn’t move and just looks up at Derek curiously. ‘’I thought your sister forbid you to work on your supposedly vacation?’’

‘’It’s hardly a vacation when a tall, blonde and scary woman looms over me.’’

‘’Then, that’s a good reason to ruin these papers. I suppose these are very important.’’

‘’Indeed,’’ Derek replies as he touches Stiles’ hair with the tip of his fingertips but doesn’t try to get Stiles off of the papers. Stiles’ smile falters a little when he let Derek run his hand absently through his hair.

‘’Can I ask you a question?”

“You’re a noisy little brat; it didn’t stop you before.’’ Derek says dryly. Stiles rolls his eyes and sit up, facing the older man.

‘’How do you know Kate?’’

‘’The one million question,’’ he sighs and stretches his neck. He crawls backward to lean again the headboard. Stiles studies him and only declares in the Stiles fashion way:

‘’You banged her!’’ Derek only glares at him. ‘’You totally did! You fucked her,’’ he says like he just one the one million for that question.

‘’Can you be more crude?’’ Derek asks, but it isn’t really a question.

‘’I can totally pull a Sheldon-like impression and says that you’ve had coitus, but it doesn’t have the same effect.’’ Stiles shrugs. Derek just looks at him like he’s lost, until he shook his head.

‘’Okay, okay. Fine. I’ve had sex with her. A few years ago.’’

‘’Do tell!’’ Stiles exclaims.

‘’Why do you want to know that? You hate that girl, I was intimate with her and now, you and I have sex.’’

‘’So?’’ Stiles asks. ‘’I won’t pull the jealous boyfriend on you. And… well, I kinda like the fact that now, it’s my turn to be fucking you. I’m sure she’s jealous,’’ he jokes, but deep down, he does wish that. ‘’I’m mean like that.’’

Stiles is now laying on his back, looking up at the ceiling. ‘’Sometimes, Laura and I have to go to little soirées or events to represent our company. Five years ago, I had to go to this fundraiser in San Francisco and here she was. For me, Stiles, it was never love. We met, I thought she was sexy, we had sex the same night. End of story. But then again, it happened a few more times. We met in different events; it turns out she works in the same field as me- in demolition and building replacement. I guess I was kind of into her because I saw a beautiful and successful young woman. I mean, she was only in her early thirty and she was well-established in the business. I guess it turned me on. But then, something changed. Kate was more persistent that we see again and again and she started to like me. I tried to keep my distance, because I didn’t want a relationship. But she wanted something more.

When I cut all bridges, she was not very happy. When she contacted me to tell me she was interested in buying this land, she told me that she moved on and everything was in the past.’’

‘’But it obviously isn’t. That chick’s crazy. Like, mental crazy.’’

‘’Stop it,’’ Derek pushes gently his shoulder and chuckles.

‘’I hope she was good in bed, then.’’

‘’Too aggressive,’’ Derek says with a shrugs.

‘’Mm… so, you like vanilla sex better, then.’’

‘’When I genuinely like the person, then yes.’’

‘’Do you like me?’’

‘’Yes,’’

Clothes discard, Stiles is straddling Derek and the only noises in the bedroom are the quiet moans and sighs from Stiles and the guttural grunts from Derek as he slides in the younger man. Sweat is coating their skin as they move against each other in rhythm.

‘’Don’t let go,’’ Stiles says breathlessly as he moves his hips quickly, his heart pumping blood fast and loud.

‘’Never, never,’’ Derek promises as he grips Stiles’ hips tighter, closing his eyes in ecstasy. With his hands, he pushes Stiles a little backward and Stiles receives the memo clearly. He stops moving his hips up and down and instead, rotates on Derek’s hard member. Stiles gripping his hips, Derek helps the movement with his own hips. With this new position, Derek leans forward to kiss hungrily at Stiles’ flat stomach, his nipples, then his neck.

‘’Fuck, Derek,’’ he cries, rotating his hips more forcefully as Derek’s mouth does insane things with his neck. ‘’I’m going to come.’’

‘’Yeah?’’ Derek murmurs as he leans backward, back still on the moving headboard. ‘’Come on my stomach.’’ Derek takes Stiles’ long and red erection in hand and pulls hard on it and white cum splatters on his muscle. The hot liquid makes Derek’s own cum boiling inside of him and a few more thrusts, he’s coming inside a very tired, but content Stiles.

Stiles, still breathless, lays besides Derek. ‘’So,’’ he says, trying to catch his breath. ‘’Was I- was I better than Kate?’’

Derek looks sideways at Stiles. ‘’You did not just compare our sexual activities with someone else,’’ he groans. ‘’It’s gross and creepy,’’

‘’Well, was I?’’ he repeats, completely ignoring Derek’s complaints.

‘’You are one of a kind,’’ Derek replies in lieu of a response. He tightens his hold on Stiles as he closes his eyes.

‘’Well… was I?’’

Derek sleepily kisses him in lieu of a response; it does shut him up and it does answer his question.

-X-

To celebrate Scott and Allison being back home, Stiles decides, because he’s totally a good friend, to have a BBQ in the Hale’s house’s backward. It’s a sunny day in Provence and everyone is there. Lydia closed the restaurant for the evening and from Aiden to John, and from Melisa to Mason, they were all there.

Scott is analysing Derek. Nobody notices and people tend to judge him as an easy going young man, sportier than brainy, but Stiles knows him best. And under his puppy-dog looks, he knows things. Chris, his daughter Allison, Melissa, John and Derek are all sitting around the table, eating, and laughing, Scott is dragging Stiles inside the house.

‘’So what’s up with that guy and you?’’ Scott asks, no, demands to know.

‘’What are you talking about?’’ Stiles asks irritably. ‘’Because while I was enjoying a nice hamburger, someone decides to grab my arm forcefully and drag me here.’’

‘’I just want to know! I mean, I came back from Spain and all of a sudden, I see my best friend doing the do-me eyes to that man, a ten-years old your senior man,’’ Scott points out.

‘’I di- did Lydia told you?’’

‘’You’re not denying it!’’ Scott exclaims.

‘’Okay, fine.’’ Stiles crosses his arms. ‘’I’m seeing him. And for the record, he’s only 6 years older than us.’’

‘’Oh... well, I guess it’s okay,’’ Scott shrugs.

‘’That’s it?’’ Stiles arches an eyebrow. ‘’With Lydia, it was harder to convince her.’’

‘’Yeah, well… she’s scary.’’ Scott simply says and that’s why he’s his best friend. It’s uncomplicated between them. ‘’But you know what you’re in for, right? He’s going to leave soon,’’ he gently reminds him with brotherly affection. ‘’And all this,’’ he says, gesticulating with his arms, ‘’Won’t belong to any of us, anymore.’’

Stiles nodded sadly as he looks around the empty mansion. They can hear the distant laughter in the backward, or Mason, Isaac, Liam and Erica shouting triumphantly as they play volleyball on the wide open ground of the property.

‘’Do you remember when we sneaked in the wine cellar and got drunk?’’ Stiles asks with a chuckle.

‘’Yeah. Peter and our parents were so pissed.’’

‘’It was worth it, though,’’ Stiles shrugs.

‘’Remember when we did sleepovers here all the time? Peter told our parents that we were sleeping soundly at 10 sharp, but he was the one to give us an indigestion with pizza and chips until the wee-hours.’’ Scott says and giggles at the fond memory.

‘’Yeah. We used to sleep outdoors near the fields. My dad would’ve had a heart attack if he ever found out.’’ Scott nods in agreement.

‘’Man, I’m going to miss this place,’’ Scott sighs. ‘’Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I mean, you’re not planning on leaving Provence, are you?’’

‘’Of course not, Scott. It’s my home.’’

‘’I can ask Chris if you can join in his business. It’s good work and it’s actually really fun to teach people how to shout. Until they shoot your foot,’’ Stiles grimaces at that; remembering all too well when, 3 years ago, someone accidentally shot Scott’s foot and land him in the hospital with a frantic nurse/mother.

‘’Thanks, but no thanks. Maybe Lydia and I are going to do business. I mean, she can be scary, but she always accomplishes what she wants.’’ He tries to chuckle, but it comes fake to his own ears. ‘’I mean, I don’t know, man. All my life, all I have ever wanted to do was to work on this land. Work with Peter and make our product the best there is. That’s all I wanted. I’ve never thought about a plan B, about getting to college or leaving Provence. It’s the job I always wanted.’’

Scott looks at him sympathisingly. Scott may not work in the lavender business, but he grew up here and he knows how important this family business is for the community, for business values, for Stiles. And now, he’s going to lose it.

‘’I’m sorry, man. Maybe if you talk to Dere…’’

Stiles shakes his head. ‘’No. It’s not his fault,’’ he shrugs. He might have hate the guy when he first arrived, but now, he realizes that it’s not his call. The land belongs to Derek and if he doesn’t want it, he has the right to sell it. To the most self-obsessed, money-hungry, bitchest of the bitch woman Stiles has ever met. Yes, he just invented a word. Owning a land like this takes work and time, and Derek’s life is obviously on the other side of the ocean, so logically, he knows he has to give it to someone else. Even if that person wants to transform it into a resort with a 077-type casino.

They hear Lydia’s voice announcing who wants cake outside. Stiles gives Scott a soft smile. ‘’Come on, give your best friend a hug,’’ Scott exclaims, squeezing Stiles in a bear hug. As they separate, they make their way outside. ‘’Don’t tell dad about Derek and I, okay?’’

‘’Bet your ass I won’t. I won’t tell my almost father how his dear son likes it up the ass by the guy who will make them live on the street sooner or later,’’ he jokes.

‘’Shut up, asshole.’’

As they laugh, they haven’t notice Derek who had been up the stairs, listening to their conversation. The phone he wanted to get from his bedroom hand loosely in his hand. With a conflicted expression, he descends the stairs.

-X-

Three weeks after Kate has arrived and brought havoc in Provence, Stiles watches with bitterness as she walks around the land like she already owns the place. How come she just flaunts her ass in front of Derek and just… stay here? Stiles has no idea about how to sell a property and he doesn’t give a fuck, but get a move on, already! If she wants to add salt to the wound, it’s done. Now, Derek and her can just sign the papers and be done, already. From what he hears from businessman Derek, it’s more complicated than that. It takes longer to have everything settle. But from blissed-out, sex-fucked Derek after an orgasm, he tells him it can be quicker, but Kate seems to drag it out and, when sleeping against Stiles’ warm skin, he doesn’t mind at all.

Stiles likes to believe Derek actually wants to be here.

Stiles looks at Kate as she laughs a little too loud, when she gesticulates too widely, when she smiles too brightly and when she leans in Derek’s space too much, that’s when jealousy flares and decides he needs Aiden to pour him some Jack Daniel’s. Dry.

‘’So, what do you think, Derek?’’ Kate asks too brightly for Derek’s taste. He grimaces, looking at the wide purple fields in front of him.

‘’What you do with it once it’s yours is your business.’’

‘’Come on, Derek. You’re no fun!’’ she giggles, flirty her ass off with him. He feels the urge to roll his eyes. ‘’I want to get your advice.’’

‘’And why is that?’’ he asks with fake interest, smiling falsely.

‘’Because your opinion matters to me.’’ She gently says. ‘’You matter to me. I mattered to you, once.’’

‘’Kate…’’

‘’I think we can be a great team, you know.’’ She continues, looking at the fields.

‘’Don’t go there.’’ He warns her, but she ignores him.

‘’We are both successful, we are both driven, we can make millions, no, billions, with this place, Derek.’’

‘’Not interested,’’ he simply says and began to turn around and go back to the house, but Kate grabs her forearm.

‘’We were good together, once. We still can be.’’ Derek looks at her and just see, again, the girl that can’t take no for an answer.

‘’When you told me you were interested in this place, you told me you moved on. That’s why I considered you,’’ he explains and yanks his arm. ‘’We were never together, Kate. I told you over and over again. As gently as I could, but you refused to listen.’’ He says in a deep voice. ‘’Now, I tell you again; back off.’’

‘’Oh, come on, Derek,’’ Kate sneers with a laugh so cold Derek learnt to hate. ‘’You wouldn’t turn a chance to sleep with me,’’

‘’That was back then,’’ Derek says as he turns his back and start to walk away.

‘’It’s that French boy, isn’t it?’’ Kate asks as she follows him. ‘’But he’s irrelevant; one way or another, you’re going to get bored of him.’’

‘’What, now? You’re going to attack him like you attacked Laura?’’ he asks bitterly, and even the thought makes his blood boil. He had buried this episode far, far in his head. When Laura warned him when he used to sleep with Kate on a regular basis that she wanted more with him and it was verging on the obsession, she told him to break it off. He tried to let her down gently; that he wasn’t in love with her, but he liked being with her, but that was it. Unfortunately, she didn’t take the hint. He tried to make her understand without being cruel, but it was already too late. Laura had gone to her and blatantly told her to leave her brother alone. Kate tried to strangle his sister and it was the last straw. That’s when Derek realized she wasn’t too well in her mind. He tried to get her to live with the consequences, but money talks and she was free. He never saw her again, until she wanted to buy the property. She said she’s moved on and she was truly sorry and it would be strictly business.

He was sadly wrong to believe in Kate. He is disgusted by himself. And by her.

‘’If she didn’t interfere, I wou…’’ Derek stops walking and spin around and glares at her.

’Watch it,’’ he growls. Kate stops talking for once, wide-eyed. ‘’From now on, it’s strictly business. I tried to be nice with you, but I can’t anymore. It’s too much; you’re too much.’’

‘’So that’s it?’’ Kate asks, venom dripping from her hard voice. ‘’After everything we’ve been…’’

‘’We were never together, Kate!’’ he yells in her voice, face red with annoyance and rage. ‘’How many times do I have to tell you?! We used to sleep together, but that was it. Why can’t you understand? If you hoped to come here and to come after me, you’re wasting your time.’’

A flicker of hurt is reflecting in her eyes, but she doesn’t let it alter her. She stays still, her back perfectly straight and her face is control and void of all emotion; a perfect and fierce businesswoman.

‘’You take what you want, and you never look back, Derek. I admire that.’’ She nods. ‘’Very well. Then, we’ll get to business and the land is going to belong to me as soon as august turns around.’’

There’s a week left before the month of July ends.

‘’Tomorrow, we’ll have a meeting with Deucalion.’’ Derek nods and stays silent as he watches her turns her back on him.

-X-

Things, after that, got worse and they just escalade in a big mountain of shit. Stiles knows it was going to happen, but not so quickly, or not as a big pile of goo.

Stiles is biting his nails as he sits on a bench, glaring at a restaurant across the street. In front of a big window, there was Derek, Kate and another guy Stiles can’t care less about.

‘’What are they doing?’’ Liam muses as he sits heavily next to Stiles. He doesn’t look in his direction; he continues on staring. ‘’Careful. If you continue shooting daggers at them, your little boyfriend would find you creepy”

‘’And he will dump you,’’ Isaac replies as he too, find a seat next to Stiles, the two young men sandwiching Stiles.

‘’They’re discussing business. That guy, Deucalion-something, he’s a lawyer.’’ Stiles says quietly. ‘’Derek told me he was the best.’’

‘’The best in what? Looking like a creep?’’ Isaac asks with an eye roll.

‘’Shut up, Isaac.’’ Stiles says. Liam looks at him with these blue eyes of his and gives him a gentle and encouraging smile.

‘’You know, it’s alright, man.’’

“What are you talking about?’’

‘’You said that we’d be okay,’’

‘’But we’re not,’’ Stiles murmurs.

‘’We are,’’ Liam assures him.

‘’No, we’re…’’ Liam flashes a hard glance at Isaac over Stiles’ shoulder to shut him up.

‘’We totally are,’’ Isaac replies with another eye roll.

‘’You’ll see. We’re going to be okay. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. I love this place!’’ he exclaims, just to get a smile out of Stiles.

‘’Yeah, Stiles,’’ Isaac says, forcing himself to be supportive instead of a dick, for once. ‘’Maybe you won’t get to cry your feelings in a bunch of purple flowers for the rest of your life, but I’m sure you will find happiness somewhere else.’’ Stiles groans and rolls his eyes.

‘’Thanks, Lahey.’’

Stiles still looks at the restaurant across the street and see Derek, as serious as he possibly can, looking down at a file. Kate has a vindictive smile, her breasts are showing for the world to see and her hair is as golden as ever and her dress just show people how much she succeeds in life. And Deucalion looks like an old prick. It makes him sick.

Liam looks curiously at Stiles. ‘’Scott told me you are head-over-heels for the guy,’’ Stiles looks at the younger man sharply; firstly, he did not say such things to Scott, secondly, he’s not head-over heels over Derek, he has mind-blowing sex, yes, but… anyways, why would Scott go around telling people that? He will go to Allison and say things extremely embarrassing about Scott, then.

‘’Scott doesn’t know shit,’’ he quickly says.

‘’He knows enough to know the look in your eyes when you look at Derek,’’ Liam shrugs.

‘’And since when did you become a sap?’’ Stiles retorts, folding his arms. Isaac, sprawling his long limbs all over the bench, therefore almost all over an irritated looking Stiles.

‘’Since little Liam is himself in love with Hayden.’’

‘’Hayden who?’’

‘’And you go your answer, short stuff. Hayden, that girl who study abroad. She came here four weeks ago. Liam’s been drooling all over her. If you haven’t noticed her, or how Liam’s been acting like an idiot for a month, that’s because you were far gone on hot guy over there.’’

‘’That’s not, that’s just… pff. You’re wrong. I was just focusing on keeping it together while I still have the lands. God knows where I’m going to be tomorrow.’’

‘’Stop being such a martyr,’’ Isaac retorts.

‘’Yeah? And what are you going to do, then? Going back to living under a bridge back in the USA?’’ Stiles knows a remark like that won’t hurt Isaac. They spend most of their time bickering, but it’s all friendly banter. Isaac is all crude honesty, but loyal. Stiles is all sarcasm, but no bite. And Liam is just cute Liam.

Isaac scoffs. ‘’You wish. And hell, no. Papa Argent is the true family I’ve ever had; no way I’m going to give it up.’’ Stiles nods, understanding. Since Chris Argent opens his arms, and his heart to this stray boy, Stiles knows Isaac found a new family and wouldn’t abandon it for the world and this world in Provence, away from all his problems, away from his abusive father, was a great start and he would stay here.

Stiles turns his attention to Liam, then, and smiles at him like a proud big brother.

‘’In love, hen?’’

‘’I don’t know, maybe.’’ He mumbles.

‘’Well, I can’t wait to meet her. I’m sorry I was in my head this summer,’’ he says, his smile faltered.

‘’I understand. I’m worried, too. You know?’’

‘’But you’ll go back in college in California in no time,’’ he ruffles Liam’s hair.

‘’Maybe I won’t,’’ he says, swatting Stiles’ hand.

‘’What?’’ Stiles asks, surprised.

‘’Because of Hayden,’’ Isaac sing-songs.

‘’No,’’ he sighs, eyebrows furrowed. ‘’But maybe I’ll spend another year, here. A lot of people does that; you know? I’ve got this friend who went working in south Korea and loved it so much, she stayed longer. Learning the culture, and the language and…’’

‘’And Hayden,’’ Isaac teases.

‘’Shut up! Seriously.’’ Liam rolls his eyes. ‘’But really, though,’’ he continues, veering the conversation back to where it all started. ‘’You love him, don’t you?’’

Instead of answering right away, or denying it, he’s lost in a flashback that let him zone out as Liam and Isaac were bickering, the later saying something like it’s the sappiest thing Liam could ever say, and Liam arguing about something involving true love, and Hayden.

It was the night before, and Stiles was sitting on Derek’s bed as the older man was picking up his suitcase from the closet. Stiles looks at it sadly and Derek looks at it almost hesitantly.

‘’You’re going back home soon,’’ Stiles says, trying to sound cheerful, but it was anything but. ‘’Back to Los Angeles. Back to work and your little routine. I’m sure you miss it. I’m sure you miss your sisters.’’ He added for good measure.

‘’Yeah… I- I’ll be out of your hair in no time,’’ he teases, looking at Stiles, but it looks false, almost pained to say it.

‘’I got used to it. To you,’’ Stiles added weakly.

‘’Can you believe it’s almost two months since I’m here?’’ he went to sit heavily next to Stiles, like he had the world upon his shoulders. ‘’Everything is almost officialised and I’ll be back at the company.’’

Stiles giggled faintly. ‘’It’s been two months since I climb through this window, having no idea that Peter’s nephew was in town and you basically threw me out as fast as you could. It was a bad start.’’

‘’Most people use doors.’’ Derek deadpanned. ‘’And I was already in a sour mood to be the one to come here.’’

‘’I’m not most people,’’ Stiles retorted simply. ‘’And are you in a sour mood now?’’ Derek smiled faintly and his eyes softened. He cupped Stiles’ jaw with his palm and traced the moles on Stiles’ left cheek.

‘’No, not anymore. You kinda helped with it.’’

‘’Well,’’ Stiles said breathlessly and shakily. ‘’We don’t have much time together, now. Are you going to do something about it?’’

‘’Like?’’ Derek said innocently. Stiles didn’t respond; he touched Derek’s belt and started unbuckling it, but Derek stopped him. Stiles looked up at him questionably.

‘’I don’t want sex,’’ Derek said.

‘’You don’t?’’ Derek shook his head.

‘’I want,’’ he licked his lips. ‘’I’d like to just lay down. With you. Just hugging. I just need to be close to you in the simplest way.’’ He whispered. ‘’Would you like that?’’ his lips ghosted over Stiles’.

Yesyesyesyesyes

‘’Yeah, I’d like it very much.’’

And they did just that. He woke up the next morning, still fully clothe, a mess of limbs, but no sore limb. Just a numb contentment, because he was happy to wake up like that, but then he remembered that it wouldn’t last. Derek will leave and it’s then, with them sleeping together, but not having sex, that Stiles realized it was more than that, that he was attached to this man, and he was going to leave Provence, leave him.

It upsets him that morning, but as Derek woke up, he forced a bright smile and made Derek eat his chocolate cereals.

‘’Tiles… Stiles!’’ Liam says, waving a hand before his eyes. ‘’Where’d you go?’’

‘’Wha…?’’ Stiles asks and remembers where he is; on a bench, with two of his closest friends.

‘’We were talking about your love life,’’ Isaac reminds him, impatiently. ‘’And all you give us is a blank stare.’’

“So, you really love him?’’ Liam asks again, blue eyes lighten up. What he says, even if Liam asked the question, shock the three of them.

‘’Yes, I do.’’

‘’Well, damn,’’ Isaac replies. They watch numbly as Derek and Kate shake Deucalion’s hand as they leave the restaurant and after exchanging no less than 3 words, Derek leave Kate coldly with a grim look.

And then the goo began to grow. It continues with Lydia.

As he makes his way over to the restaurant, he notices Erica and Mason leaving in a hurry.

‘’Hey, what’s the rush?’’ he asks. Mason looks pissed and Erica looks annoyed, even though when they stop in front of Stiles, he can see her big eyes watering and her lips wobble.

‘’Lydia fired us.’’ Mason says, jaw tighten.

‘’What?!’’

‘’Lydia fucking fired us!’’ Erica exclaims, enraged. ‘’Your little girlfriend was in a fucking fit and she just fired us. Just like that. That fucking bitch-‘’

‘’Hey, hey, Erica,’’ Stiles tries to calm her, but to no avail. ‘’But who cares, right?’’ she asks in an uncomplimentary sneer manner. ‘’This place is going to close anyway.’’ She sniffs. ‘’Come on, Mason,’’

Mason gives Stiles an apologetic shrug and follows Erica. Stiles sighs deeply and enters the place. Luckily, there was no people this early in the morning. People tend to dine and spend their evenings in here with the amazing talent of one Aiden to mix drinks like no one’s business. He put the close sigh on the door and goes where he hears noises. He sees Aiden hovering by the kitchens doors, trying to calm a distraught Lydia.

‘’What’s going on, in here?’’ he asks harshly, because really, nothing goes according to his plans and everything seems to crumble around him, like a card castle. First, he’s going to lose two of his closest friends, one he began to consider like a little brother, and then Lydia. What else can go wrong?

‘’I’m leaving,’’ Lydia says matter-of-factly.

‘’And your first great move by doing so is my firing your staff?’’ he asks coldly.

‘’Don’t worry; they’ll find something else. Especially since Erica knows who to work those boobs, they’ll be find.’’

‘’Don’t give me that crap. Even with their tendency to flirt everything that moves, they are still the best workers you’ve ever had! And I know you care about them, as much as they care about you!’’ he’s screaming at this point, and he knows that the last time they argued, was when they were twelve. He doesn’t remember what it was about, but he was sure it wasn’t as serious as right now. ‘’Do you think they stay here, waiting tables just for kicks? No! They stay because they believe in this place, they wanted to be a part of one of the greatest restaurants there is in Gordes. They told me so.’’

“But not so great anymore, Stiles,’’ Lydia replies icily. ‘’Look around you! Open those Bambi eyes of yours and realize that this place is closing up! With no Lavender products, this place is sailing. And before Kate barge in with her stupid smirk and her ugly stilettos, I prefer to leave on my own.’’

She continues filling boxes with knives and pots. He glares at Aiden.

‘’Do something!’’ he orders to him.

‘’I tried,’’ Aiden says, glaring back at Stiles. ‘’But it’s a loss cause,’’ he shrugs. ‘’And let’s face it, Stiles. Lydia is right.’’

‘’So that’s it, then? You’re leaving? You were what, planning your big escape tonight, with no goodbyes?’’ he jokes, but it seems all false to his own ears, even his voice cracked. Lydia rolls her eyes.

‘’Don’t be so melodramatic. I told you, you can come with us. Come to Paris with us; we’ll open something so big and magnificent that the wicked witch would be green of jealousy.’’

‘’Lydia’s right. There’s nothing left for us, here.’’ Aiden says.

‘’No, thanks,’’ he responds coldly, crossing his arms over his chest. He looks like such a child, but right now, he doesn’t care. ‘’I prefer to stay and save whatever’s left.’’

‘’You’re losing your time, Stiles,’’ Lydia replies, slightly annoyed, slightly angry by her friend’s stubbornness. ‘’You’re acting like a child who can’t have another cookie.’’

‘’At least, I’m not running away when things go awry.’’

‘’I’m not running away!’’ Lydia’s voice echoes the walls. ‘’And things don’t just go awry; they’re pretty messed up and we lost the game. But come on, go ask your fucking boyfriend whose fault is that our lives have changed. Come on, go on. The next time you suck his dick, remind yourself whose dick it’s attached to!’’ she yells. By this point, Aiden’s mouth is wide-open, looking at his girlfriend with some reservation.

She steps closer to Stiles, breathing raggedly. ‘’When that man is going to break your heart and leave you to wipe Kate’s ass and be at her every beck and call, because you hadn’t the guts to run away, well, I won’t be there to clean up the mess.’’

‘’Lydia, that’s enough,’’ Aiden says gravely as he realizes the gravity of her words and the effect they have on Stiles.

‘’No,’’ Lydia retorts. ‘’He acts like a child; he needs to see the reality of what’s really going on. But no, he’s too busy hiding in that man’s silky sheets.’’ She sneers.

And the last drop of goo, is his father.

He runs -okay, no- he walks at a fast pace, breath ragged and tears at bay, cheeks flush in humiliation and betrayal as he arrives on the Hale’s lavenders to go straight to his dad’s cottage just near the forest’s borders. He just needs his father, right now. When everything is going wrong in your life, when friends are turning their backs on you, when other friends lose hopes and part ways, when something you hold dear to your heart, the land you grow up on is going to disappear, just like that, on a blink of an eye… you just need the warmth of a parent’s embrace and a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese. His father is no cook, and he needs greasier stuff and anything else, but he knows how to lift up a spirit with his own tomato soup and grilled cheese.

But as he arrives, his father is outside, piling up boxes.

‘’No, no, no, no,’’ Stiles chants as he walks faster. ‘’What, now?” he asks to himself. ‘’Dad!’’

His father turns around, fully expecting to see his son and sighs and gives him a weak smile, but Stiles knows him too well; he’s defeated, disappointed and even, maybe, a little mad.

‘’What’s going on?’’

‘’Ah, I- well, Stiles… wait, are you okay?’’ the ex-sheriff asks as he lightly touches Stiles’ red cheeks.

‘’It’s fine.’’ He lies. ‘’Just ran all the way here.’’

‘’Oh, well. As you can see, I’m moving out,’’ and what’s wrong with people moving to other places without telling him?! By Stiles’ outraged expression, he quickly explains. ‘’It was really short notice, Stiles. I only heard from it last night.’’ He piles another box, where it’s written in black sharpie ‘’KITCHEN STUFF’’. ‘’There’s this blonde gal- Kate Argent? The new owner? Well, she knocked on my door last night. She said I had to move out right away.’’

‘’But she can’t do that!’’

‘’Actually, yes, she can, Stiles.’’

‘’But it’s your home. It’s our home!’’

“Peter gave it to us with the kindness of his heart when your mom and I started working for his business. There’s no business anymore.’’

‘’Yeah, but- but, she’s not the owner, yet!’’

‘’Not entirely, but she has the papers that say every remaining resident needs to leave as soon as possible. Big changes are coming soon, Stiles. I’d better not be here when they burn the cottage to the ground.’’

‘’It’s still wrong, dad! I’m going to talk to Kate. I have a tongue as sharp as a kitchen knife, I’m sure…’’

‘’Stiles,’’ he interrupts his son, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. ‘’You forget I have worked with law enforcement. I am in the obligation to obey to the future owner, son. And please, Stiles, please, don’t go see her and stir troubles. It’ll only get you into serious matters. I’m not a sheriff anymore; I can’t get you out of a speeding ticket,’’ he says lightly, but his words weigh a ton.

‘’Where are we going to go?’’ Stiles asks.

‘’Melissa said we can come stay with her. I will go there, and you can, too, but if you prefer to stay with Lydia, or Scott, I wouldn’t mind.’’

Stiles thinks for a second. Melissa, Scott’s mom, was always like a second mom to Stiles. She is a lovely nurse and an amazing mom, but having two other mouths to feed on such a short notice…She is always busy with work and even when he knows she wouldn’t mind; he can easily find somewhere else to go. Lydia: out of the question. She can already be on a train for Paris, or Avignon, as we speak. Scott; yes, Scott. He lives alone with Allison in the middle of the village. He can ask to crash on the couch for a couple of days. He still has so much shit to go through that he doesn’t want to bother his dad with all of this. Staying with him will just look suspect, he needs time to figure things out on his own.

He can go to Derek, but he will leave soon, and this realization after the terrible day he’s having, leave a terrible taste in his mouth.

But he just needs to go to the Hale’s house for, maybe, one last time.

‘’I’m a big boy, dad,’’ he smiles, trying to reassure his father. ‘’I’ll be fine. Do you need help packing?’’

-X-

Stiles heaves a sigh as he climbs one of the side-walls covered in vines of the Hale’s mansion and curses as he doesn’t focus like usual and almost cut his hand on a rough edge of a vine. The window is already open so he enters the bedroom.

‘’You’re going to get hurt someday if you continue doing that,’’ a soft voice says close to the closet, back turned to him.

‘’Yeah, well. I do this since I was like eight, so I think I master the climbing techniques just fine,’’ and if it comes out bitter and harsh, it’s not his fault. He’s just beyond frustrated. About everything and everyone. About Peter for dying, about his family and friends for giving up, about Kate, and about Derek.

Yes, he’s pissed about Derek.

‘’Someone’s unhappy,” Derek says as he sits on his bed. His suitcases are all line-up next to the door, ready to go, ready to never come back and somehow, seeing these fucking Louis Vuitton’s suitcases, because of course, it’s Derek Hale, why would he travel in anything less than the fashion genius, all packed and ready to go make Stiles’ blood boil. He knows Derek was going to leave, eventually. He knows that. But it still hurts like hell knowing the guy he’s been seeing for months, the guy he knows he’s been falling for, is going to leave and all that, everything it ever was, was just a transaction. A business trip. A fuck to pass the time between two meetings.

Peter’s land is going to burn to ashes and Stiles is hurt.

‘’Lydia and Aiden are leaving. For Paris, Avignon, Nice. I don’t fucking know.’’ Stiles mumbles, looking out the window. The sky is grey and cloudy. A storm is going to hit, soon. It didn’t rain a lot this summer. Somehow, Stiles can see the irony in the only day that everything is going bad for him, the day he loses everything and everyone, is going to rain. He continues talking. ‘’Isaac is leaving to work for Argent. Liam, I don’t know. He’s a kid in love, I guess. My dad is obligated to leave our family house, our house, for-for what, a transaction?’’ he turns to see Derek, still sitting on his bed, staring at him.

‘’Stiles…’’

‘’No, Derek, no! You all told me to shut up for months, but I won’t do this! This is my house, my home. I dreamt of growing old here. I won’t move out because some bimbo bitch wants to do a resort with the place.’’

‘’Stiles…’’ Derek tries again calmly.

‘’Everybody is giving up, everybody is leaving, especially you! How can I be so stupid?’’

‘’Stiles, come on. Sit next to me. We’ll talk.’’ Derek says gently, but Stiles is having none of that. ‘’I know you don’t want to hear that, but you knew it was coming.’’

Stiles turns again to look out of the window. ‘’I thought I could’ve prevent it. I thought- I fucking thought I could talk you out of it.’’ He mumbles. ‘’But it’s getting all so real, now.’’ He whispers, watching the first raindrop hitting the glass. ‘’How can I be so stupid?’’

A hand land on his shoulder, but he shrugs it off. ‘’Don’t touch me,’’ he grits through his teeth. ‘’This is your fucking fault to begin with!’’

Derek’s eyebrows furrowed dangerously low and Stiles recognizes that frown; the don’t-fuck-with-me-cause’-I-fuck-with-you.

‘’How is this my fault, Stiles?’’ he asks in a rough voice.

‘’You’re the smart, successful businessman, you figure it out,’’ Stiles pits at him, eyes ablaze.

‘’I know you’re angry, but you have no right taking it up on me.’’

‘’It’s all about you, Derek,’’ he sneers. ‘’You’re the one to be so fucking ashamed of your family that you’re ready to give up on your heritance. You’re the one to come up here and just ruin everything.’’ Derek looks at Stiles in a frighteningly calm manner, then his lips quirk a little and he gives Stiles a smirk so cold and devoid of any emotion that it makes Stiles’ skin crawl.

‘’You didn’t seem to mind when I had my dick up your ass. You didn’t seem to fucking mind when you were begging for it, Stiles. For months we were fucking and you liked every fucking minute of it. Don’t be an hypocrite right now. You’re just butt hurt because you realize that for the first time in your little life, something doesn’t go your way. Well, grow up, Stiles. I didn’t know I was fucking a child!’’ He takes a step forward and looks at Stiles straight in the eye.

‘’You knew damn well what was my motives by coming here. Don’t lie to yourself. You may not like Kate, but she’s bringing business. She’s opening jobs in this god-forsaken place!’’ Stiles’ eyes are wet; he isn’t angry anymore. He’s overcome by sadness and disappointment. He tries to keep the tears at bay, but everything Derek say to him go straight to his heart. But he deserves it, in a way. He’s the one that started the fight.

His tears make his eyes shinier, makes the orange hue of his amber eyes come through, but he hopes Derek’s anger keep him from noticing any weakness, any vulnerability. The last thing he wants is for Derek to know that he regrets everything.

‘’God, Stiles. How are you ever going to grow up? How are you ever going to listen from time to time?’’

‘’And be what, a good little lap-dog?’’ he shouts back.

‘’I’m leaving tonight,’’ Derek says matter-of-factly.

‘’I’m staying here.’’

Derek goes straight to the doorway, but doesn’t turn around. ‘’Then you’re going to crumble with this house.’’

Stiles stays in the house long after he heard Derek’s rented car grumble to life and he knows he won’t hear the sound of this sleek sound anymore. It’s not a couple of raindrops he can hear, but the sound of a hundreds of raindrops hitting the windows and the roof, like knifes hitting any surface they can reach.

He’s sitting on the floor of the bedroom, the suitcases are gone, the room darkens, but Stiles doesn’t notice. His tears had made tracks on his cheeks and his eyes are red and his nose runny, but he doesn’t care. He’s numb, replaying his last conversation with Derek. If it’s really how Derek feels, then he’s been a complete fool.

He almost doesn’t hear it when soft footsteps climb the stairs. He almost jumps at the chance that maybe, just maybe, Derek came back and says that what he said weren’t true, and Stiles would apologise for starting a useless fight, but the steps are too soft to be his.

Wet red-hair is all he sees as a small woman crunches to his level, put a gentle and delicate hand on his shoulder. It’s all it takes for him to break again and crumble against the soft curves, the firmness of the body next to him. His body is racking with sobs.

‘’Lydia…’’

Lydia makes soft noises in his ear to appease him and she rubs his back. After he calms down, he says: ‘’You can tell me I told you so. I’m ready to hear it.’’

‘’I won’t say such a thing,’’ she scoffs. ‘’But Derek is a douchebag. That, I can say.’’

‘’I was one, too.’’ He mumbles against her neck.

‘’Maybe, I won’t argue with that. But as your friend, I’m obligated to be on your side.’’ Stiles chuckles at that, even if it’s weak. ‘’I was a total bitch, too. A cruel one at that,’’ she says softly.

‘’Lydia… what are you doing here? I thought you were leaving.’’

‘’I was. But then, I realized that my friend needs me.’’

Stiles looks at her, then, wiping his tears the most none-manly way possible, gives her a small smile and kisses her on the lips. ‘’I love you, Lydz.’’ He says as he envelopes her in a hug.

‘’Je t’aime.’’ Lydia repeats in French.

‘’And for the record, you’re not cruel. A bitch, yes, but not cruel.’’

Lydia laughs a little, muffles by Stiles’ t-shirt. ‘’I’m so sorry, Stiles. So sorry.’’

They lay on the floor, looking at the ceiling as they talk of everything and nothing, and Lydia tries to help Stiles forgets his troubles, forget Derek for one hour, or until the rain cease and the night is just one silent affair. Lydia stands up and gives her hand to Stiles.

‘’Come on, let’s get drunk. Men’s best invention to forget our problems. Aiden is making the best potion for that.’’

‘’I need rum, Lots of that.’’ Lydia hums at that and as they slowly walk down the stairs, Lydia says: ‘’You know Ethan, Aiden’s brother?’’

‘’Yes?’’

‘’He’s coming to town in two days. I thought you might want to know.’’

‘’And why is that?’’ Lydia gives him the most annoying look.

‘’Come on, Stiles. You two were screwing. I thought you’d like a repeat of that. Sex is the best way to move on from assholes like Derek.’’

‘’Wait, who did you…’’

‘’I’m Lydia Martin, Stiles. I know everything.’’ Stiles rolls his eyes.

‘’Of course you do.’’

‘’And Ethan can’t keep his mouth shut with his twin.’’

‘’Of course not,’’ he mumbles as he gets in Lydia’s car. The ride to Lydia and Aiden’s place is silent, but Stiles wishes that his thoughts would just stop spinning out of control. He’s fine here with Lydia; she makes him think of other things, but it wouldn’t be too long before he cracks again.

 

Chapter 6

Derek comes back in his apartment in Los Angeles three weeks ago. In these three weeks, he mopes around. His place is sterile, with white, dark brown and grey as the predominant colours in the deco. Before, he thought it was classy. Now, though, he thinks it’s cold and there’s a lack of warmth he can only find in the Hale’s house. Before, the cars honking and the streetlights lulled him to sleep, now though, it keeps him awake and he only wishes to hear the soft breeze going trough the lavender fields or the distant and quite howls of lone wolves and owls. Or falling asleep to the soft snoring of Stiles. Now, his king-sized bed in achingly empty. Before, having an apartment, and an office to the top of the building, looking down at people like ants and having an amazing view of the metropole was power, and envy. Now, though, jumping off the edge seems like a good idea.

It took Derek two weeks to call Laura to tell her that he was actually back home; she didn’t ask questions, nor she prompt about how it went with selling the land, she knew his voice was off and asking more questions would make him push her away. She didn’t ask him to come back to work right away, as she’s technically her boss. She gave him space and still didn’t ask questions when she came by later and saw pizza boxes all over the place, and beer bottles half empty.

On the third week, he came back to work, under Laura’s watchful eyes. He kept to himself; he shaved himself, he washed, too, to Laura’s orders. She still doesn’t know what’s going on with her brother, but she knows it’s connected to his trip to France. Laura may be many things, but she knows when to give people their space and Derek is grateful for that. Unlike Cora, who’s just going to try and try to find information to quench her curiosity.

He’s silent to the long days at work and help organize the demolitions they need to do on some decrepit buildings on the outskirt of L.A. If Lydia were there, she would say he was trying to demolish his heart. Over and over again.

On Friday night of the third week, Derek looks forward to a week-end of Don’t-do-anything-except-to-pee, when Laura opens the door without knocking. She is in casual clothes, but she is gripping a bag.

‘’Little brother!’’ she greets as she enters the kitchen where Derek is sitting on the stool, a bowl of cereal in front of him. He grunts his acknowledgement of her present before she disappears in the bathroom. She comes out a few second later, her hair neatly pins in a beautiful French braid and a long, sexy but classy black dress that just screams ‘’Look at me, I’m a 30 years old female CEO and I slay.’’

‘’Can you zip it up?’’ Laura asks as she turns around to show her naked back to Derek. He takes the zipper and close the dress. ‘’Thanks!’’

‘’Where are you going?’’

‘’Derek!’’ Laura explains, exasperated. ‘’You’re so far gone these past few weeks that you forgot, didn’t you? It’s the fundraiser! Our company needs to be there.’’

‘’Oh, yeah. People clapping each other’s back between two flutes of champagnes, congratulating each other to be the best.’’

“Hey, why so bitter? You like these kind of parties!’’ Laura says with a smile that dims rather quickly. ‘’At least, you used to.’’ She looks at the cereal bowl. ‘’Since when do you like these?’’ she asks as she grabs the cereal box of Nesquick with the brown bunny on it.

Derek shrugs and continues eating.

‘’Like, you’re the guy for whom they invented Special K and granola bars! Derek Hale does not eat fat, sugary goodies like that. Your words, not mind.’’ She dugs into the box and grabs a handful of cereal.

‘’People change. And I like them, now. I didn’t know I had to have anyone’s consent to buy one of these.’’ He says defensively. He stands up and puts the empty bowl in the sink. Laura watches him, notices his sweatpants and his naked chest and says:

‘’So, I take it you’re not coming?’’

‘’Nope. I’m not. I guess I’m just going to sleep. I’m tired.’’

Laura laughs at that. ‘’On a Friday night, at 9 p.m.? You’ve never done that since you hit puberty.’’

Derek only shrugs as a response. Laura frowns.

‘’Don’t give me the cold shoulder now, Derek.’’ She says firmly. She can be the happy-go-lucky and funny girl that she is and that her employees and family came to appreciate, but she can also be stern and severe-looking when she sees fit. ‘’Ever since you’ve come back from the country of Molière, you’ve been moody and sulky. Not that you weren’t like that before, because you always rocked the ‘’don’t fuck with me look’’ with those eyebrows of yours, but this is on a whole new level. You’ve been depressed and I don’t know why.” She states, crossing her arms and challenging her little brother with an icy glare to disagree with her. ‘’What happened?’’ she finally asks when Derek stays silent for too long. He’s leaning against the sink, adverting her gaze.

“Nothing.’’ He mumbles. ‘I happen to feel under the weather.’’

‘’For almost a month? I don’t think so. Now, it wasn’t going well over there? Did Kate did something to you? I swear, Derek – I told you over and over again, no, I warned you not to do business with her. She’s crazy. It’s not because she apologizes that she can just…’’

‘’Laura-‘’

‘’No! That bitch almost killed me but she pulled some strings and here she goes, free as a bird and trying to seduce you again. You’re so naïve, little brother.’’

‘’She wasn’t flirting with me. Okay? And you know why I accepted her offer.’’

‘’Yeah, because she was the first one to call you and you wanted to get rid of this land as soon as you can.’’

‘’Because you pushed me to go instead of, I don’t know, you.’’ He says bitterly and he knows it’s not fair. Laura is the CEO of the company, and Cora is still in college, doing college things, so going a whole summer there was a job with his name written on it.

‘’And now, instead of coming back overjoyed, you’re angry and depressed and I don’t know what’s going on with you anymore.’’ She exclaims. ‘’If it’s not about Kate, then what is it?’’

Derek studies her worried face and he instantly feels bad. He thought he was only hurting himself by acting the way he is since he came back to L.A; be a recluse, spend time working on himself and try not to think about him, he didn’t think he was hurting his family as well.

‘’Fine…’’ he comes back to sit on a booth at the kitchen island, fixing the now empty cereal box. The bunny is judging him; he can tell. ‘’It’s about this boy.’’

Derek was sure his sister was going to comment on it, eyes glowing and exclaims ‘’Ohh, juicy details! My brother is in love. Does he give great heads?’’ as disturbing as it may sound, it’s her style and she doesn’t know anything about boundaries; she actually asked him that very question with everyone he’s ever been with; including Kate. But seeing his brother like that, with this grave voice and the seriousness of it all, she doesn’t dare commenting something unpleasant. Instead, she lays a hand on his arm.

‘’He’s a French boy I met in Provence. Well, he’s actually from Northern California but he moved to France when he was really young. He grew up on this land… Peter- his mother worked for Peter and they were both very close. I remember the first time I saw him. (he makes a sound between a laugh and a sob,) It was this ball of energy and I hated it. He was like advocating against selling the place. Obviously, I didn’t listen to him.

We became friends and not long after, we hooked up. It was great- his friendship, I mean. He’s funny, entertaining and he’s not afraid to fight for what he believes in. And in the end, I hurt him.’’

Laura is silent, obviously busy registering the fact that a lot more was happening with his brother in Europe and the turmoil he is in now.

‘’Do you love him, or did you just like to hook up with him but by hurting him, it makes you guilty?’’ Derek looks affront at that.

‘’Of course, I love him,’’ he says easily and only then, does he realize what he just said. The bunny on the cereal box is still mocking him. ‘’I- I love him. Laura; I just feel so damn happy and at ease by his side. Everything is so uncomplicated with him, but I made everything so damn complicated.’’ He sighs. ‘’He made me love Provence again. He made me care about the lavenders again, Lau.’’’

Laura takes his hand in reassurance, silently coaxing him to continue talking.

‘’You remember when we used to go there every summer when we were kids? With Cora, we used to play hide and seek in the fields, or when Peter was chasing us in this old house? It was before dad made us stay away.’’

‘’I remember,’’ Laura softly says with a gentle smile.

‘’Well, when I got back there, I was bitter, I hated to have to come back. But Stiles…’’

‘’Made the hard Derek Hale softens?’’

‘’Shut up,’’ he scoffs with an eye roll.

‘’And that’s why you’ve been moping for weeks? If a guy is able to have this affect on you, don’t let him go, little brother.’’ She shakes his head to emphases her words.

‘’It was a lost cause, anyways,’’ Derek says as he gets up from the kitchen island, pacing back and forth, frustration written all over his face. ‘’It wouldn’t have worked. He’s there, I’m here. We wouldn’t… it wasn’t serious. It can’t be. Maybe it’s for the best that he hates me, now. I mean…’’

‘’Don’t put the victim crap on this, Derek. You’re better than this. If you really want to, even if your loves are very different, you would have make it work. I don’t know the whole story, but I know you’re acting like a dick. I’m your sister and I usually take your side, like I fucking did with crazy Kate -who, by the way, fucking tried to choke me to death- but now, you’re acting like a giant and smelly dick.’’ She crosses her arms over her chest. ‘’Oh, and by the way, I never understood why you choose fucking Kate Argent to do business with.’’

‘’You know why, Laura.’’ He sighs. ‘’She said she changed and I figured, why not? I was eager to sell this place and be gone as soon as possible. Plus, she has family there- a well respected one, so I thought it would just be benefit in the long run.’’

‘’I’m glad this Stiles showed up in your life, then. You need fucking balance.’’

‘’Thank you,’’ Derek replies sarcastically.

‘’So, would you apologize to him for being a giant dick?”

He glares at her. ‘’ It’s not that simple.’’

‘’Oh, no? I don’t know… just go back there, say sorry and kiss him passionately. Don’t do it via skype; it’s totally not romantic as the internet sex is so not the same.’’

‘’Laura!’’ he says. ‘’It’s- it’s not a rom-com cliché. It takes more than me at the airport, running in his arms and spinning him around, spilling my undying love for him.’’

‘’You’re right; it makes my stomach aches in discomfort just to imagine that.’’

‘’And there’s my job to consider,’’ she reminds her. She may be the CEO, but he also has an important role in the company as vice-president. He can’t just take off when he feels like it.

And just to insult him, or to add fuel to the fire, she rolls her eyes.

‘’Come on, Derek. We both know you don’t particularly love the job. Dad made you love it.” He adverts her eyes as he replies:

‘’What are you talking about? I love my job.’’ She scoffs at that.

‘’No, I love my job; here’s the difference. You love the notoriety, the pay and the security the job provides you with.’’

‘’But I’m good at it.’’ He retorts weakly.

‘’Yes. You’re damn good at it. But I know you don’t have this fire inside of you that ignite the passion for the company. I remember, Derek. You used to argue with Dad because you didn’t want to join the business, you even told me so on a couple of occasions.’’

And he remembers; he even wants to change degree, because business and economy was not what really interested him and got caught in multiple arguments with his father because of it.

‘’Then, it suddenly stops and you join the ranks after you graduate.’’ He nods at that. His dad made him understand that it wasn’t just another company, but a family business, it had to stay within the family. It made sense, at the time. Now, though, he’s just angry that his father made him his own puppeteer that he could just manipulates like he wants.

‘’You’re right. Of course, you’re right,’’ he groans. ‘’But it’s family. It’s a family business: I need to be here.’’

Laura gets up of the stool and offers him a reassuring smile. ‘’So is Peter’s business.’’

That realisation hits him hard.

‘’Come on. I crave some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. We’ll watch Pride and Prejudice because all this talk about love makes me want to be a sap tonight. But the real Pride and Prejudice. Do you know they made a fucking Pride and Prejudice with fucking zombies? How to ruin a classic.’’ She holds his hand to drag him to the living room, but Derek doesn’t bulge.

‘’Wait- what about the fundraiser?’’

She shrugs. ‘’Someone I love very much needs me more.’’ She concludes like it’s no big deal and as they watch Mr. Darcy being a complete stuck-up bitch on screen, Derek knows that he loves his family. The rest of it, anyways.

And he knows where to go and what to do, now.

 

-X-

 

Stiles wants nothing to do with Kate ever again. He’s done with her, with Derek, with everything. She’s going to take everything from him, but he’s done with it. Time to move on. And that’s when, in that particular mindset, four weeks after his disastrous argument with Derek, that Kate decides to contact him again to come to the Hale’s property.

He didn’t want to go, but hey, he figures it may be the only time he has to tell her everything she is, and everything she’ll ever be.

He’s a good, kind hearted man, he knows it. But he also knows he can be sassy, mean and painfully truthful when someone hurt him. He borrows Scott’s car as he still crash at his place and drive all the way to the property. A month is enough to notice the change Kate has done. The fields need people to take care of it, and a mouth without this need, the flowers begin to look tired, and it loses their flamboyant purple. Stiles tries not to look at both side of the road, hands gripping the steering wheels. He doesn’t want to know that all his childhood memories, all his dreams and hopes are evaporating in thin air.

When he comes next to the house, he doesn’t bother knocking on the door. He barges in.

It’s eerily quiet and if Stiles stops breathing, he could hear the wind passing through the wide fields. He takes a step and look around, noticing that every furniture, every little thing is still in place. He thought that Kate would have get rid of all the stuff by then; it doesn’t look like it.

‘’Kate?’’

‘’In Derek’s room,’’ comes her voice from upstairs. As he reaches the second floor, and goes to Derek’s bedroom, Kate is sitting crossed-led on the bed. She’s dressed in her tight black leather pants with an even tighter top. He can see the appeal and why Derek wanted her.

‘’You wanted to see me?’’ he asks, realizing that Kate wasn’t going to break the silence. She’s playing with a lighter and Stiles watches as her fingers play with it with easy practice. She smirks at him, she looks playful, but it looks like a sneer to Stiles.

‘’I wanted you to have a last look to the house,’’ she says, flicking the lighter, watching as the flames grow and grow. ‘’I wanted you to be the first to see in burn to the ground. I’ve told Derek that this is the first thing I want to see gone when I fully own the place.’’

He grits his teeth together, trying to pull himself together. ‘’How thoughtful.’’

‘’I’ve always had a caring nature, French boy. So tell me, do you like to play with fire?’’ she asks and she stands up, coming closer to Stiles. He steps back, swallowing audibly. ‘’Uh, no. Not really, no. But if you’re a pyromaniac and fire turns you on, then sure.’’

‘’You’re funny, do you know that? And smart, and witty. You have such a sense of repartee; no wonder Derek liked fucking you. We have more in common than you’d like to admit.’’ She caresses his freckled cheek in a motherly affection, but it feels wrong. It’s all wrong that his stomach twist when her icy fingers touch his too warm skin. He can’t really imagine her holding Alisson as a young child with faux affection like that, unless she wasn’t the loving aunt. Which she probably wasn’t. He recoils at her touch.

‘’Don’t touch me,’’ he hisses in a low voice.

‘’You know, Stiles, with a boy as feisty as you, we could have been great partners.’’

Stiles doesn’t respond.

‘’We could have been successful together. I’ve watched you over the summer. You’re a young, smart, talented boy. Why would you waste your time in a field picking up flowers when you can do so much more?’’

Stiles still doesn’t respond. All his wit, his sass and sarcasm is gone; replaced by a bitter and stale taste in his mouth.

‘’I knew you were someone special when I saw how important you were to Derek,’’ Stiles gulps at Derek’s name.

‘’You say you’re over him, and yet, you can’t stop naming him.’’ Kate cocks his head and hums.

‘’Is that so? Well, I guess he’s still an enigma to me. Something I want to solve… we were never together,’’ she says as she turns her back to Stiles, running her fingers through the dusty shelves. ‘’But he was something in bed, that’s for sure.’’ She says absently like she’s just talking about the weather. ‘’He liked when I bite him just behind his ear. Does he still like that?’’ she giggles, but it gives Stiles shivers- not the good kind.

‘’It’s none of your business,’’ he croaks.

‘’Of course it isn’t… my apologies. You weren’t officially together, though, no? Does that surprise you?’’ she looks at him sadly, but it looks fake. ‘’He never makes things official; you should have known that before he breaks that heart of yours.’’

He tries to contain his rage he feels coming up. ‘’I’m sorry it never worked out for you; I’m sorry he never loved you the way you wanted him to love you. But it’s not a reason to come here and manipulate me into your little games. What I have, what I had,’’ he corrects, damning his voice for breaking. ‘’doesn’t concern you.’’

He turns around to leave, in hopes not to have to run into her in town so often, when she speaks again. This time though, she doesn’t sound like a confident woman from before. ‘’I’ve love him, it’s true. More than anything; it was driving me crazy.’’ She admits. He stops walking, but doesn’t turn around. ‘’His sister tried to get me away from him; but she simply doesn’t understand. And he doesn’t know what it feels like to be heartbroken.’’

‘’Kate…’’ Stiles says as he turns around. He hates her, he truly does, but he also feels sorry for her. For loving someone who can never love you back. ‘’Why did you come back here? You were hoping if you come in Derek’s good grace, you would win him over?’’ he says it as gently as he could, because he knows it’s what she was hoping to accomplish; reconnecting with your old flame, dreaming about a future together. To be honest, they’d make a good couple; both are in business, they are successful, have the same striving personality, seems to hate the countryside.

What Stiles has to offer Derek after someone like Kate Argent? Maybe it’s true, maybe he has more things in common with her then he’d like to admit. They both fell for the handsome man, ending in their fall on the concrete.

‘’Obviously it doesn’t end like it. Instead,’’ she comes forward, stroking Stiles’ freckled cheek. ‘’I found him with a French cutie. If only you knew how he looked at you…’’

‘’You said it yourself,’’ he says, suddenly it’s hard to breathe. ‘’We weren’t a couple.’’

‘’You know it’s not the case,’’ she states, shrugging. Her hand travel down his neck, to his shoulder, and his arm. ‘’You have something very special with him. No one would want to ruin that,’’ she whispers.

He steps back, her touch making him sick and nervous. But she still grabs his forearm in a vice-grip. He groans in pain and in shock.

‘’You have something I will never have.’’

‘’Kate, let go,’’ he says, surprised by how strong she is. ‘’Let go of me!’’ he yells when she wouldn’t let go. Her eyes are wide and crazed, she’s beaming,

‘’I’d like to see Derek Hale heartbroken just once, to make him feel the loss, the emptiness of a shattered soul. ‘’ before Stiles can say anything else, she hit him hard across the head. He collapses on the floor, a thick red flow drips down from his forehead to the floor.

-X-

As Derek touches the French grounds, he sighs deeply. Here goes nothing, he thinks as he sees a red mini cooper with Lydia Martin waiting for him, leaning against her car at the Marseille Provence airport. When he finished talking to Laura that faithful night a few days ago, he knew he was going to come back. He couldn’t just come back and hoping that everything was going to be perfect, though. He needed to take news from Stiles first, to know what to expect. So he called Lydia.

‘’I’m hanging up,’’ Lydia says after Derek only pronounced an Hi, over the phone.

‘’No!’’ he says hurriedly. ‘’Please, Lydia,’’ he continued gentler. He hears her signs deeply, so he takes it as a sign and he can almost see her twisting a red lock of hair with her finger, frowning as she rolls her eyes, believing he’s the most annoying person on Earth. He’s still not sure how she gets to be Stiles’ best friend.

‘’What do you want?’’

‘’I want to come back,’’ there’s a pause, then Lydia asks in her most bored voice ever.

‘’And? How does that concern me? I know you think you’re like a king in that big tower of yours in L.A, but I don’t give a crap about where you want to go.’’ After that, there is a flurry of what Derek presumes bad words in French.

‘’I know I’m not your favorite person on Earth,’’ he interrupts her.

‘’Damn right you’re not,’’ she says in a cold voice. ‘’What makes you think coming back here is going to be good for him?’’

‘’I wish he’d accept my apologies,’’ he admits quietly in the darkness of his bedroom. It must be early in the morning in France.

‘’He’s moved on, Derek,’’ Lydia scoffs. ‘’You’re not that special. My boyfriend’s twin came to Provence the other week and he made him forget your name,’’

‘’You’re lying,’’ he says gently, because he just knows Stiles; he knows four weeks is not enough to move on, and he knows that tone of voice who wants to protect her friend.

‘’… Fine, you’re right. He’s not fine, Derek. He spent all his fucking time in those fucking fields and you going back here is just going to hurt him more. He has already enough on his plate with Kate; he doesn’t need other bullshit.’’

‘’I didn’t call to ask you permission to come back, Lydia.’’

‘’Then, why did you call?’’

‘’I would like someone on my side when he wants to tear my eyes out,’’

There is another pause and Derek is sure she hung up. And then she speaks; her voice is carefully low, urgent, almost like a growl. ‘’I’m giving you one chance because Stiles is fucking miserable and it’s worth a shot. It doesn’t mean I’m on your side. I’m doing this for him, and if he wants to tear your eyes out, I’ll be on the sidelines, watching.’’

He gulps. ‘’Alrig…’’

‘’I’ll be waiting for you at the airport in two days,’’ then she hung up for good.

‘’Thanks for coming,’’ he says as he approaches the car; he only had one bag where he just threw everything in there in two minutes. She looks him up and down; his rumpled clothes, to his unshaven face and ruffled hair as he passed his hair countless times in the plane, trying to calm down.

‘’You look more like a countryman, this time. You’ll fit right in,’’ she says in lieu of greetings. ‘’Get in, and don’t waste my time.’’

As she drives, Derek asks ‘’Where is Stiles staying?’’

‘’With Scott and Allison. His dad with Scott’s mum until he finds something.’’ He swallows hard.

‘’I didn’t know th…’’

‘’That by selling the place, you’d be selling their lives, too? You think that your choices don’t affect others, don’t you?’’ she says, giving him a hard, irritated look. ‘’You’re a smart man, Derek. Graduating at the top of his class in business school.’’

‘’How did you…’’

‘’I wanted to make sure that who Stiles is fucking is not a psychopath.’’ She shrugs, like it is no big deal. ‘’I’m dropping you off to Scott’s, he should be there. If he doesn’t accept your stupid apologies, you’ll go right back to L.A. before I have the time to say genitalia. Am I clear?’’

‘’Crystal,’’ he mumbles, looking outside the window. She’s scary. But as they drive, just before going into Gordes, smoke is the air.

‘’Lydia,’’ he breathes. ‘’What is that? Is that… it’s smoke. There’s a fire!’’ he says as he points from behind the trees. Lydia looks at her right and her eyes widens as she makes a turn, the tires screeching. ‘’Where does it come from?’’

‘’The Hale property.’’

Before they even reach the property, Derek can smell the burn, his heart beating faster and faster in his chest. Lydia is driving like a madwoman as she stops the car in front of the house, Derek’s heart sinks.

‘’It’s Scott’s car,’’ Lydia says absently. ‘’Shit, Stiles.’’

‘’What do you mean Stiles? What about him? Lydia?’’ Derek asks, but Lydia is transfixed on the burning mansion. ‘’Lydia!’’ he yells in her face, gripping her shoulders tightly. She finally looks at him, eyes brimming with tears.

‘’I told you; Stiles spend his time in the fields. He always borrows Scott’s car,’’ she explains urgently. Derek lets her go and turn around, gripping his hair. ‘’Stiles!’’ he screams, looking to the fields, trying to see a familiar head among the flowers, but nothing. ‘’Stiles!’’ he repeats, but still nothing. ‘’Shit, shit… no, no, no,’’ he mumbles. ‘’Okay,’’ he whispers. ‘’Okay… here,’’ he says, giving Lydia his phone. ‘’Call an ambulance,’’

‘’Derek, what are you- Derek!’’ she says but he ignores her. He goes to the front door, but the handle is burning. He jumps as a window shatters next to him. He takes a step back, thinking about his options. If Stiles is in the house, he must be stuck, somehow. The fire is spreading in the hall, around the kitchen or the living room, Derek guesses. Suddenly, he catches sight of the vines Stiles always use to climb up to Derek’s bedroom.

He tries to climb it, growling in frustration when he slips. Stiles does it all the time; he always complains about him breaking his neck, someday.

‘’Fuck!’’ he screams in frustration when he doesn’t go up. ‘’Come on, come on,’’ he finally did it, breathing hard in the end. When he goes through the window, he coughs. The smoke is already upstairs.

Stiles is laying on the bed, unmoving. He sighs in relief, happy that Stiles is not hard to find. He goes straight to the bed, coughing.

‘’Stiles! Stiles, can you hear me? Stiles!’’ he cups his head around his head and notices the trail of blood and the bloodied pillow. ‘’Stiles?’’ he asks shakily. He passes his trembling hands on Stiles’ cold skin, not knowing what to do. ‘’Stiles!’’ an explosion is heard and he throws himself over Stiles’ still body.

-X-

The first time Stiles wakes up, Melissa, Scott’s mom, was standing by his bedside, writing something in his chart. He’s weak, his eyes are blurry, and he coughs a lot. The second time he wakes up, his dad, Scott, Lydia and Allison and even Aiden are here. He’s still weak, but he’s getting stronger. Lydia only had time to explain what happened before he goes back to sleep again. The third time he wakes up, he’s stronger and it’s like he’s just waking up from a light sleep. Isaac and Liam are here, talking to him before they were ushering out of the room by one Derek Hale. By this time, Stiles is fully conscious. His dad told him that Lydia and Derek got there in time, and that Derek was the one to go in the house to save his sorry ass, as Lydia like to call it. Why he was back in Provence, though, no one wanted to tell him. He suspects they didn’t know much, but he knows Lydia. And she refused to talk.

‘’Look, Stiles, I know you probably don’t…’’

‘’Thank you,’’ he interrupts him, smiling faintly at the guy he chased away a month ago. He’s the same, except for the stubble and the messed up hair and the worry lines.

‘’I- Stiles,’’ he murmurs and to Stiles, it sounds more like a whine, and he wouldn’t say that to Derek. The older man walks further in the room as he reaches the bed, he places a warm, heavy hand on Stiles’ forearm.

‘’You can hug me, you know. It’s okay,’’ Derek does just that, hugging the younger man tightly.

‘’You’re okay, you’re really okay,’’ Derek says over and over again, unconsciously rocking them gently back and forth.

‘’Lydia told me the basics of what happened.’’ Stiles says against Derek’s shoulder. ‘’The fire… but someone knocked me o…’’ his eyes widen; he hadn’t gone that far into what really happened, expect for the fire and Derek saving him, but now, everything is coming back. He pulled away. ‘’Kate, it was Kate. She hit me and…’’

‘’I know,’’ Derek simply says with a sad smile. ‘’You were out for a few days, and we knew it wasn’t accidental. Kate may be smart, but she’s not slick. I called up the best of investigators and every clue was leading up to Kate. She had her DNA all over my bedroom and luckily, this room wasn’t touched by the flames. Kate admits what she did yesterday.’’ He stands up and looks out of the window. ‘’She just laughed, she didn’t even try to deny it.’’

‘’She has a cuckoo head.’’ Stiles retorts, not even the slightest bit sad for her and what is next for her. Derek scoffs at that.

‘’Yeah, well, because of it, she revoked her rights on the property.’’ He puts a stack of papers on the tables, papers which Stiles hadn’t noticed. Stiles frowns at it.

‘’Oh. I guess you’re back at where you started,’’ Derek shakes his head and sits on the edge of the bed.

‘’Not really, no.’’

‘’Oh?’’

‘’Because I’m officially the new owner. I’m here to stay, Stiles,’’ he gently says.

‘’B-but, I thought you…’’

‘’You made me love Provence again, Stiles,’’ he interrupts him. ‘’You made me care about the lavenders and about what my family had built here again. I want it.’’

‘’Well, you’re old enough to know what you want in life, I presume,’’ Stiles replies shakily and his heart monitor is going crazy.

‘’And I brought these,’’ he says, pointing at the papers. ‘’hoping that you could help me with it.’’

‘’What?’’ Stiles exclaims.

‘’Stiles, you know this place better then anyone else, and you love and cherish this place like no one, it would feel wrong to run this without you. Would you be my partner?’’

Stiles is silent

‘’Just business partners?’’ Stiles asks hesitantly, smiling faintly at Derek. The older man looks at him, hope shining in his eyes.

‘’You really mean it?’’ Derek murmurs. ‘’After what I said-‘’

‘’I said horrible things, too.’’ Stiles interrupts.

‘’You were hurt, and you said what you felt. It was justified. I was cruel to you.’’

‘’And I started it.’’ Stiles retorts like a child, and putting the blame on themselves is not what this is all about. Stiles takes Derek’s hand in his. ‘’And you came back here, for me. That’s all I ask.’’

Derek beams at him, relief and love reflecting in his green eyes. He crashes his lips to Stiles’, stroking his freckled cheek with his right hand.

‘’Now I can boss around Isaac like I want to, right? I’m the boss, now!’’ Stiles jokes and laughs loudly when Derek retorts with an ‘’You’re sure are.’’

Epilogue

Ten months later

‘’Erica, stop flirting!’’ Lydia says hurriedly, glaring at the tall blonde woman. ‘’You’re the assistant manager, now, be more serious!’’

‘’Oui, Chef,’’ Erica says dryly, doing a salute with her hand.

‘’Where’s Mason, again?’’ Lydia asks. ‘’We have a full house tonight; I can’t afford to search my waiters!’’

‘’He’s with the new waiter, Brett? Last time I checked, they were making out.’’ Lydia rolls his eyes and goes back to the kitchen.

Stiles watches with amusement as Lydia argue with her staff; people would never know how much she missed Erica and Mason and as soon as Kate was put in jail for a few years for arson, damaging an historical property and endanger the life of a person, they came back. Lydia would never, ever admit it, but she shed a few tears. She asks Erica to be her assistant manager as Mason noticed that Lydia has hired a new guy, Brett when she reopens, everything was forgiven. Lydia’s restaurant is just as packed as ever.

‘’Erica,’’ he calls from across the restaurant. She flashes him a smile with her bloody lips. ‘’The lavenders Lydia was asking for,’’ he hands her a box.

‘’Thanks, Stiles. She’s finally going to stop being a pain in the ass.’’ Stiles laughs and kisses her on the cheek.

He nods and exchanges a few words with Aiden behind the bar before he goes back home, where he belongs. The sun sets and with the well-cared purple flowers over the horizon, it makes the perfect colored contrast. He hums quietly to himself as he walks to the house. Liam and Isaac had worked hard today; during the summers, it’s always the busiest season. Isaac had started training a new guy named Boyd; Erica had eyes only for him and Stiles may or may not be responsible for getting Boyd to bring the lavenders to Lydia’s place.

They had quite a few busy months. Kate is in jail, some rooms had burned, but it wasn’t as bad as they thought. They rebuilt some of it, and they even made it bigger by keeping the old charm of the place. Stiles was worried that the full life in the countryside was going to be tough on Derek, but it wasn’t the case. Laura admitted to him that she had never seen her brother so happy, and it made him ache to know he wasn’t doing what he loved in Los Angeles. He made his dad come back to his old cottage, no nos and no buts.

‘’Derek, I’m home!’’ he says as he enters the house. It’s quiet.

‘’In the kitchen,’’

‘’I brought the flowers to Lydia’s. She’s as busy as ever, that woman. It’s crazy.’’ Stiles stops at the entrance of the kitchen, watching his boyfriend in his favorite tank-top and jogging. The relaxed look suits him like a charm. He’s pouring himself a cereal bowl.

‘’Want some?’’ he asks and Stiles arches an eyebrow, smiling fondly.

‘’Nesquick? Hell, yeah,’’ he pours himself the milk in it. ‘’Derek Hale, after almost a year together, I still can’t believe you agree to eat it. You’re so Special K boring.’’

‘’Sometimes, it’s good to change.’’ He shrugs and winks with a smirk, leaning against the counter. Together, they make their way to the backward, watching the sun completely set behind the purple fields.

This is their home.

Fin