“Here you go,” Derek says, tossing Stiles a Pez dispenser.
It’s shaped like Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Stiles actually thinks it’s pretty cool (even though the candy is, eeuugh, grape-flavored), but he narrows his eyes suspiciously anyway.
“Why did you get me this,” he says, looking around to see if anyone else got a novelty candy holder. He appears to be the only one; Erica looks like she’s dying to make fun of him but can’t decide what joke she wants to start with, and Isaac just looks envious.
“You told me you liked that show,” Derek says. “This was the only thing I could find. It’s mostly kid’s toys, and stuffed animals.”
“Oh my god, I knew I shouldn’t have told you that,” Stiles groans, dropping the Pez dispenser onto Derek’s coffee table. “It was a long time ago, okay? I was in middle school. What is this, a joke about how immature I am? Ha, ha, Stiles and his Ninja Turtles Pez dispenser? It isn’t funny. Screw you, I’ve got homework.”
“I…” Derek drops his eyes, shrugging minutely. “Okay. See you.”
Stiles is so flustered that he almost leaves his sweatshirt, but Derek throws it to him before he gets out the door.
The joke stings, and Stiles won’t lie to himself. He knows why. It’s just more proof that when Derek—strong, gorgeous, grown-up, in-charge-of-his-own-pack Derek—looks at Stiles, he sees a kid. A skinny, hyper, still-in-high-school child. And that sucks, a whole lot, because Stiles doesn’t feel like a kid when he looks at Derek. Hell no, he feels like a man, okay. A man with needs.
(Needs such as: running his fingers down the line of Derek’s back, or licking that crease between Derek’s hip and thigh that Stiles can see when his jeans ride low, or coming all over Derek’s abs. He has a lot of needs. Specific ones.)
And even though he knows that the likelihood of ever indulging any of these non-childish desires is definitely zero, it’s not like he enjoys being reminded of that. He’d like to get through just one more day without having to remember that the actual man of his dreams (well, werewolf of his dreams, anyway) sees him as basically twelve years old.
Which is why he groans loudly in frustration when he reaches into his hoodie pocket later that night and finds the Pez dispenser.
“Damn it, Derek!” he yells, and throws it against the wall.
“Derek’s not in there right now, is he?” his dad calls from across the hall. He sounds insultingly unconcerned about Stiles’ answer, which probably just means he’s being realistic about Stiles’ chances of ever getting laid.
“Derek’s in the fucking doghouse, is where he is,” Stiles shouts back.
“Yeah, you tell’m, son,” his dad answers, and Stiles glares at the wall because everyone is making fun of him today.
He’s grateful to have the candy at 2am, when the sugar rush gets him through his last chemistry assignment. But he’s never ever going to tell Derek that.
“You wear baseball caps, sometimes,” Derek tells him, when he comes over to use the computer later that week.
“…yes,” Stiles agrees. “I do, in fact. Is there… more, to that observation?”
“I got you this.” Derek hands him—damn it.
“A Ninja Turtles hat, really, Derek? We’re still doing this?”
“Do you not like the color,” Derek says, reaching over to brush the purple brim with his fingers, “or—”
“This continues to not be funny,” Stiles says, poking Derek in the sternum, “and I’m putting this on under protest. Because my hair is terrible today. I should just shave it off again.”
“It looks fine,” Derek says, and he runs his fingers through it before settling the hat on Stiles’ head. Backwards, the way he likes. “You should keep it long.”
Okay, so that time maybe isn’t so bad.
The next time, however, is the last straw.
“A lunchbox,” Stiles says, flatly. “A child’s Ninja Turtles lunchbox.”
“Well. You’re always bringing lunch to the Saturday training sessions, and I thought—”
“Can this joke be over?” Stiles shoves the lunchbox back against Derek’s chest, and then gives it an extra push just to make sure Derek doesn’t try to give it back. “Yes, fine, I liked Ninja Turtles when I was little. Yes, maybe I even like them a little now! That doesn’t mean—I’m an adult, Derek!”
Derek frowns. “I know. You turned eighteen last week.”
“I know. I was there.”
“So was I,” Derek says, like Stiles might have forgotten. “I made your cake.”
“And it was delicious,” Stiles says, honestly, and tries not to soften when Derek visibly preens at the compliment. “But that’s not the point right now. The point is, what you’ve been doing, with the gifts. It’s not funny, and I need it to stop.”
“All right,” Derek says. He doesn’t even look smug about the fact that his turtle-prank has gotten into Stiles’ head. He looks sad, and subdued, and not really surprised at all. “I’ll stop. Do you want me to make you grilled cheese on Saturday instead?”
“Oh! Mm, yes,” Stiles says, mollified. “But god help you if you cut the crusts off.”
“Can you please just keep this,” Derek says, bursting into Stiles room later that night and shoving the lunch box in his face. “I put it on the kitchen counter and I keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye and it’s just… depressing me. So here. I don’t care what you do with it.”
“What’s so depressing about Ninja Turtles?” Stiles scrunches his eyebrows at Derek. “Why aren’t you looking at me?”
“I need some time,” Derek tells Stiles’ shoulder. “Not much, just. I’ll let you know.”
Stiles stares down at the lunchbox, and then opens it, hoping it will contain answers. “Time?!”
“Yes, time, and try not to be a dick,” Derek snaps, looking him in the eye at last, and Stiles throws the lunchbox behind him on the bed and flails in frustration.
“I’m the dick? What is going on, Derek? I know I could have handled this whole prank a little more maturely, but you gotta admit—”
“Prank?” Derek frowns. “What prank?”
“Or, for—the Ninja Turtle stuff! For kids! That you bought to make fun of me!”
“You said you liked the Ninja Turtles,” Derek says, voice high with exasperation. “It’s almost the only preference of yours that you’ve ever voluntarily shared with me, did you know that? Besides food, I mean. You’ve told me all your favorite foods.”
“And you’ve… made them for me,” Stiles says, slowly, because holy shit he’s never realized that before.
“Yeah, I have,” Derek says. He sounds angry, but not at Stiles—at himself. “I know a lot about you. Stuff that… stuff you don’t know that I know. I hear things. I can smell… I know what kind of shampoo you use—two different kinds, actually, I like the one with the coconut better—I know the movies you talk about with Boyd when you’re leaving the meetings, and I know where you buy your clothes because sometimes your tags stick up, and I know your left shoe never fits quite right because you’ve got a bit of a turn-in, you know, when you walk—”
“Is there a point to this?” Stiles says, faintly. He’s blushing hard, and he’s not even sure why.
“I know so much about you, but none of it is... you don’t talk to me.” Derek takes a deep breath, runs a hand through his hair. “It would be creepy, if I bought you the DVD box set of Battlestar Galactica, because I shouldn’t even know that it’s your favorite show.”
Stiles feels a thrum of disappointed longing over that box set, but he guesses he can see Derek’s point.
“And I didn’t want to be creepy,” Derek continues, smirking self-deprecatingly like he knows what a vain hope that is. “I just wanted. I wanted you to have something you liked. From me. But since you never tell me what you like, I…”
“You were being nice,” Stiles says, wonderingly. “Wow. I am a dick.”
“I thought I was making you uncomfortable. With my… overtures,” Derek explains, wincing, and Stiles’ heart gives a sudden, violent ricochet.
“With your what?”
“Whoa, what’s going on with your heart,” Derek says, stepping closer in concern, and Stiles laughs loudly because oh god his life, what.
“Just, for future reference? That’s creepy,” Stiles says, grinning. “But I like it. I like you. I would have loved a box set of Battlestar Galactica, and what’s going on with my heart is that I’m going to kiss you. Right now.”
“Is this a prank,” Derek says suspiciously, and Stiles laughs out loud again and shoves him against the wall.