Derek expected a lot of things in his life to change after the fire but he didn’t expect that he’d be able to fall in love again. That one was a tricky idea to come around to. But then it turned out to be with Stiles and that…that needed some serious debriefing time with himself.
Because, seriously? Stiles?
The kid was hyperactive, ridiculously spastic, unable to focus on anything for longer than thirty seconds, flailed like he was permanently swatting swarms of flies, and was loud. So loud. Add to that his totally unbearable smirk and that mischievous glint in those honey orbs and well, let’s just say Derek may or may not have spent a solid minute beating his head against the bathroom wall, if only to attempt to correct any brain damage.
Derek thinks it only made it worse though because later that same day, Stiles came in wearing jeans that actually fit well and Derek couldn’t stop staring at his ass the whole day. It was only a miracle Stiles didn’t catch him (because he was too busy fawning over how Lydia got into MIT, Harvard, and Yale) but judging from Scott’s knowing look, he wasn’t as subtle as he thought he was.
But still, see Derek had thought he could just resign himself to a lifelong feeling of butterflies in his stomach every time he saw Stiles but then the idiot had to go and fall in love with him too. And kiss him. And woo him. And well, there’s only so many times Derek could say no, or Stiles, you’re still too young, you’re in college and you should be exploring your choices, or I’m not good enough before Stiles started to whack him over the head like he was a goddamn mole and silenced every protest with a firm, knowing kiss.
So slowly, over the course of five months, Derek and Stiles became DerekandStiles and it was…nice. Adorable even, if Derek was feeling particularly sweet (slash, had a few shots of wolfsbane-laced tequila).
Thing is, there was a small gnawing in the pit of his stomach every time he saw Stiles and Lydia together because as much as he loves the way Stiles touches him, holds him, runs his fingers through his hair, Derek’s always afraid that he was going to lose Stiles to Lydia at some point. Worse, that Stiles would never love him the way he loves her.
He’d heard Scott talking about it once a long time ago; he was telling Allison about the now infamous crush on the great Lydia Martin. How Stiles had seen her for the first time when she moved to Beacon Hills in grade two and by grade three, he was smitten. How Stiles would give her the bestest crayons, the bestest toys, would give her the bestest books when she threw away the toys with a scoff. How Stiles’s crush only grew stronger and mightier with each rejection. Derek had heard about the five-year plan, which evolved into the ten-year plan, and then the fifteen-year plan.
Derek doesn’t even think Stiles had a one-month plan for him.
So yeah, sometimes there’s a dull ache in his heart when he sees the way Stiles’s face lights up when Lydia does something amazing - hell, even when she enters the room but it’s okay. Derek figures any time with Stiles is worth whatever comes in the future. At least he got the chance to have Stiles love him; after all, the only other person who made him feel that way was Paige. He’ll stay for as long as Stiles wants him and if the expiration date comes sooner rather than later, well, Derek’s prepared for it anyways.
Considering all that, it comes as a surprise to Derek when Lydia is the one to stick around after a pack meeting.
“Aren’t you going?” Derek asks, pausing from putting the packets of chips away.
“We need to talk,” she says simply. Despite what anyone else might say, Derek isn’t scared of a twenty year-old petite redhead. He’s not, okay?
Stiles hovers in the doorway, unsure, but before Derek can say anything, Lydia turns around and raises a brow at Stiles as if to ask why are you still here?. It makes Stiles flush and he quickly stammers out a goodbye before fleeing.
Traitor, Derek thinks but looks at Lydia warily. She leans back, folding one leg over the other, the prime picture of a Queen holding court.
“We have to talk about Stiles,” she says primly. A cold dread washes over Derek because what if— “You’re being an idiot.”
He asks as much, earning a judgemental eye roll in response.
“You are being an idiot,” she repeats. “Why are you so threatened by me?”
Derek’s throat dries; trust Lydia to go straight for the bullet.
“I have no idea—,” he quietens when she holds up a hand.
“Don’t think me a fool, Derek Hale. I’m not stupid, nor am I blind. You’re threatened by me because you think Stiles is just with you until he gets bored and moves on,” she replies. She’s not angry, Derek notices. Just thinks I’m stupid. He sits down on the big chair that Stiles loves in the lost, feels comfort in the warmth of the seat.
“Isn’t he?” Derek mutters, looking down, fidgeting with his hands in his lap. Lydia scoffs.
“Derek, I’ve always believed you’re reasonably smart and far-sighted. You’ve shown a remarkable depth in strategizing and you have an amazing gut instinct,” she starts kindly but this is only the nice before the ruin. “But you’re being unreasonably and irrational when it comes to Stiles. You don’t think he can ever really love you, do you? You spent so much of your life losing everyone you care about that now you can’t see you’re doing the same to yourself.”
“He’s been in love with you for eight years,” Derek murmurs, clenching his fingers into fists. “You don’t just get over someone like that when the next piece of meat comes along.”
“There’s two things wrong with that statement,” Lydia starts, her voice soft and gentle this time. “First, Derek Hale, you are a lot of things but you are not a piece of meat. Not to any of us and certainly not to Stiles. He loves you for you, as cheesy as it sounds, and it’s true. Second, Stiles is not in love with me.”
Derek’s about to argue but she holds up her hand again. “No, shut up, he’s not. He thinks he was because I never gave him the time of day. I was the White Whale to his Ahab. But you? You’re real in a way that I never was.”
“He had all these plans for you,” Derek says, and feels hollow as he remembers the way Scott told Allison about them.
“Stiles has plans for everything,” Lydia dismisses easily, ignoring the way Derek scoffs.
“Apparently, not for me.”
This time, Lydia’s the one who scoffs.
“Derek, do you know why Stiles and I never happened?” At Derek’s head shake, she continues, “It’s partially because of those plans. Look one of few things my dad taught me was that many people spend so much time making plans and building plans and perfecting plans that we often forget to act on them. We forget that after planning something, we actually have to do it. Stiles had the five-year plan but he never fought for me. Sure, he bought me a TV and a couple of hundred dollars worth of jewellery but what did he do when Jackson asked me out? Bitched about it to Scott and maybe modified a couple of things in his five-year plan to make it a ten-year plan.
“With you, all he’s done is act. The second he realized how he felt about you, he acted on it; made his feelings known and fought for you even when you thought you could persuade him not to. He didn’t want to risk not having you even for one second. So tell me, Derek, do you want the Stiles who just makes plans to have you some day or do you want the Stiles who makes sure he has you now?”
When Lydia puts it like that, Derek can’t deny he wants the latter. Of course he does. But there’s still—
“You have no idea how he still looks at you,” Derek argues, somewhat weakly. “He looks at you like you’re sparkles and unicorns and everything amazing about this world. I can’t compete with that.”
“Derek, you’re so busy dissecting how he looks at me that you’re completely missing how he looks at you!” Lydia exclaims, throwing her hands up in the air. Derek raises his eyebrows at her, bemused. “Look, Derek, I don’t know what I can do to convince you of everything you don’t see. But as someone who’s destined to win the Fields Medal by the time she’s thirty, know this: There’s no dimension in this world where us getting together will work. But you and Stiles work in every dimension, except in this one apparently,” she adds the last bit with an exasperated eye roll.
“No, especially in this one,” Derek corrects, finally looking at her with sheer determination. He stands up, gives her a small smile when she beams at him. “Thanks, Lydia.”
“He loves you, Derek. He may not have said it yet but I suspect it’s because Stiles has only just begun to understood what the word really means. He loves you and he will for as long as you let him and even when you don’t. Keep that last bit in mind.”
Derek nods and finally, the ache goes away. Finally, he feels settled.
“You gonna tell me what Lydia wanted to talk to you about?” Stiles murmurs, winding his arms around his waist, using his chest as a pillow.
“It was nothing important,” Derek says, wrapping one arm around Stiles and using another to card through Stiles’s damp hair.
“Liar. Lydia doesn’t do small talk or mindless talk unless it’s with Allison. And that’s only because they’re epic bros.”
Stiles looks up at him, eyes wide and expectant. Their chests rise and fall together and it makes Derek ridiculously content.
“Maybe Lydia and I are epic bros too,” Derek smiles, loving the way Stiles wrinkles his nose at the thought.
“Uh, yeah right. Get in line, buddy. She’s definitely my epic bro first. And according to the bro code, one bro should only have two epic bros. All other bros are just plain old, normal bros,” Stiles sniffs. Derek laughs. This is the idiot he’s in love with, god help him.
“I thought Scott was your epic bro.”
“Oh my God, Derek! No, Scott is my brother - that’s different. Okay, listen. Scott’s my brother, Lydia and Allison are my epic bros. Erica is my Catwoman and Boyd is well…just Boyd. Isaac is the little brother I never wanted but have to love anyways because of you and Scott and Jackson’s - well, he’s whatever.”
“You forgot someone,” Derek says, narrowing his eyes when Stiles pretends to think about it.
“Oh, riiiiiight. You.”
Derek tickles him over his ribs, greedily absorbing the spurt of shrieking laughter that erupts from Stiles.
“Okay, kidding kidding! You, Derek Hale, are the moon of my life, my sun and stars—“
“I’m cancelling your Game of Thrones marathons.”
“—the Saturn to my Jupiter, the wind beneath my wings—“
“Please, stop,” Derek groans, throwing an arm over his eyes, ears flaming with embarrassment.
“—the Wolverine to my Storm, the Steve to my Tony, the Peeta to my Katniss because fuck Gale—“
“We’re breaking up. I’m leaving you,” Derek decides, making to move up but Stiles laughs, gripping his arms around Derek even tighter.
Stiles kisses the underside of his jaw, looks up at Derek, eyelashes dark and fluttering, and smiles.
“Hey, I—,” he pauses, biting his lips and looks away for the briefest of seconds, the rare declaration of nervousness clear in his eyes, before his schooling his face back to calmness. “I’m really happy with you,” Stiles says instead. His eyes are big and earnest, all bright-eyed and Derek can’t bring himself to look away. There’s a small hesitant smile on Stiles’s lips and from the way his heart starts skipping, Derek thinks he knows exactly what Stiles meant to say but held back instead.
It’s okay, Derek won’t push. Stiles can take his time because this time, it’s real and Derek doesn’t mind waiting one bit.
“I’m really happy with you too,” Derek murmurs with just as much softness, and leans down for a kiss, hoping to convey exactly what he wanted to.
From the way Stiles smiles into the kiss, Derek thinks he got the message.