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A Slow Dive Down, A Fast Distraction

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A few days into ninth grade Stiles had to sit through a lengthy conference that he remembers mostly as the principal and his dad tiptoeing around facts like

it's only been two months

and

you have to understand. He's always required some extra attention, and now...

Eventually they stepped outside to talk about him in private, and probably in far more candid terms. Stiles wondered why they didn't just ask him to leave -- like, conservation of energy and only one body set into motion and all, hello -- but he sure as shit wasn't going to waste his breath calling them out on how they went about getting out of earshot to discuss just how screwed up he was.

Especially not when the sight of his academic file sitting out on the desk was the only thing other than the ceiling over his bed that had engaged his attention for longer than thirty seconds in weeks. He was on it in a flash and mostly just found it kind of amazing, really, how many different ways teachers could apparently find to say the same thing.

Stiles is a big fat failure at impulse control.

He might be slightly less screwed up these days -- emphasis on the might, okay; learning how to function again hadn't involved getting delusional or anything -- but progress on the impulse control has been pretty much nil.

Which probably goes a long way towards explaining a few things in the here and now. Still trapped in the cage of Derek's clinging hold, Stiles spares a stray thought or two on the idea that he maybe, just possibly, might have gone and waded in way over his head this time.

But then Derek rubs the tip of his nose against Stiles' nipple and sits up with an easy, "I'll start dinner," and Stiles watches the shift of muscle under his skin and moves right along into considering whether he particularly cares.

At the moment, he decides? Not really.

Derek heads into the bathroom instead of towards the kitchen. The shower handle shrieks loudly at being turned and the pipes clang somewhere in the walls for the entire two minutes he apparently deems necessary to attain a satisfactory state of slightly less disgusting. Stiles uses the brief time to do his very best impression of a body at rest and settle into the realization that two hours ago he was hard at work curing boredom by balancing a sharpened pencil on the tip of his index finger, and now he's in the midst of his first major post-coital...something or other.

He doesn't really know what to make of it. Hell, he's not even sure which of the two of them got the better end of this deal yet.

The latter question comes a lot closer to being answered when Derek stalks out with a towel around his hips and starts rummaging around for clothes. Stiles tries and fails to be circumspect about staring. "Problem?" Derek asks absently.

"Existential crisis, don't mind me." Derek gives him a strange glance as he sits up and scratches his stomach with a wrinkle of his nose. "Should I bother hoping your hot water will hold out?"

"It'll be fine." Derek dresses in quick, efficient motions, shorts and jeans and a t-shirt that manages to be loose and cling suggestively all at once. He doesn't look at Stiles even when he's done and lingering by the dresser, but Stiles can't really pinpoint whether it's Derek being all avoidy, or trying to give him and his nudity some space, or just being his weird-ass self.

Whatever it is, it's a relief when Derek finally knocks it off with a quick, "Towels are under the sink," before walking out.

Derek's shower turns out to be some kind of after school special on the subject of not judging plumbing by its ominous death rattle. The water heater is, near as Stiles can tell, fueled by the actual fires of Hades, and Derek has gone and installed a complicated shower head that apparently came with tiny invisible masseuses in the packaging. Stiles wonders if Derek would have any objection to him sneaking over to take blatant advantage every morning from now on.

A thing so glorious should really be shared, after all.

By the time he talks himself into turning off the water his skin is pink and sensitive from the slightly scalding heat. After finding his clothes scattered across the floor and determining his jeans and boxers to be salvageable and unstained, but his shirt another story entirely, Stiles helps himself to the stack of neatly folded t-shirts in Derek's drawer and tugs it over his head as he stumbles out of the bedroom. Derek is over in the kitchen, moving with a practiced ease, though he falters when he catches sight of Stiles going to scoop up his backpack from where he dropped it upon coming in.

His gaze drags slowly over Stiles' neckline, his chest. Then he goes back to what he's doing without a word.

Stiles is left hovering awkwardly at the end of the kitchen island, annoyed at feeling out of place all of a sudden. "I, uh. I have some pre-cal due tomorrow, I thought I'd -- I can do it on the couch, if I'd be in the way."

Derek points to a clear spot on the counter. "There's room," he says simply.

The invitation feels good, Stiles isn't gonna lie. It just also conflicts with actually getting work done, a fact he realizes when he catches himself staring for the fifth time at Derek kneading the ball of pasta dough he's mixed up. Derek finally cracks at the scrutiny with a self-conscious, "What?"

Stiles rolls his pencil between his fingers. "You really know what you're doing."

It's not that he'd thought Derek was lying about any of it. He's seen the hints and clues of this; he's seen Derek buy food and have food on hand, he's seen all the pots and pans and utensils and gadgets he can't even identify in the midst of random kitchen raids. But he's never seen it in action and it's sort of weird.

Like…Derek does domestic. Film at eleven.

But Derek shrugs like it's nothing and sets the dough aside. He turns away and messes with whatever he's got simmering in a saucepan on the stove. "My father," he says after a second. "He wouldn't eat pasta that wasn't fresh."

Stiles makes himself take steady, even breaths. Part of him likes how this happens, how Derek makes these abrupt disclosures.

But part of him hates it, too, hates how Derek manages to tug on something in him and pull up memories of his own, like how his mom grew tomatoes in the back yard and would stand in the kitchen and eat them like apples, lightly salting each bite. The plants died off after she did; he and his dad don't have a single green thumb between them.

He doesn't want to go there. It's not worth it.

He's saved by Derek picking up his own thread. "Someone was always cooking in my house," Derek adds. His words come out stilted and Stiles realizes he can count on one hand the times he's ever heard Derek talk about his family without the duress of impending danger forcing information out of him. "Dad or my grandmother or, or my Aunt Gail – she was Peter's wife, they met in college. She grew up in a pack from Colorado."

Stiles chews his lip absently. He'd known Peter was married, just like he'd known Derek once had a cousin who was fourteen when his body was found right next to his mother's. He feels strangely guilty all of a sudden, like he went and spoiled something meaningful by reading police files he had no business reading.

"So that must have been love," he says, aiming for light. "I mean...c'mon. Gail Hale?" Derek huffs out a breath that Stiles decides to decipher as startled amusement. "How does that work, anyway? Switching packs, is it like -- just whatever? Or some big deal?"

"Depends." Derek's voice takes on this tone of his that always reminds Stiles of student teachers at school, playing at doing the real deal, doing the job but still settling on a personal style. He thinks Derek would make a good teacher, actually, assuming he could refrain from killing students if -- when they got obnoxious.

Maybe not so much with the actual teaching, then, on second thought. But Stiles is good with this, with watching the lift of Derek's shoulders ease and smooth as he speaks, as if explaining is, if nothing else, a welcome distraction from the flaying open of old wounds.

Stiles gets that. He can roll with that.

"The last thing anyone wants," Derek tells him, "is to see idiotic kids from unfriendly packs going Romeo and Juliet for each other. But it happens. It usually works out in the end, though, they typically run off and establish their own pack. But otherwise when things get serious the Alphas will talk it out, mostly to make sure nobody objects to letting the couple decide who wants to switch packs. That can be an issue, sometimes. Not always. It just…depends."

He pauses. "Peter used to joke that Gail insisted on joining us because she had a crush on my dad. But she told me once that she just finally knew, when Peter introduced her to him and Mom and Laura, Laura'd just been born, what being pack was supposed to feel like. She hadn't before, not with her own."

Stiles gnaws on his pencil. "What about something like this?" he asks suddenly.

Derek goes still, then slowly turns and stares at Stiles. One eyebrow does an impressive job of climbing towards his hairline.

Stiles swallows hard. "I mean, not like, not that we're all of a sudden -- I mean." Fuck, he can feel his heart beating triple-time in his chest and is all too aware that Derek must be all too aware of his discomfort and embarrassment. He groans. "Ugh, fuck. I just mean, how's it work when humans get…involved?"

Once the question is actually posed, Derek loses all levity. "It's rare," he says shortly. "And complicated. None of it applies to this."

"Why not?"

With a sigh, Derek turns back to stir a spoon in his saucepan again, then settles a lid into place before leaning against the counter. "Because this," he says, "is a mess beyond anything I've even heard of. You're sixteen, you're human, and there's no -- "

He bites off the rest before it comes out. Stiles doesn't let it go, can't. It's not in his skill set. "There's no what?"

Derek clenches his jaw. "There's nobody left to tell me how to do this right," he says tightly.

Oh, Stiles thinks, blinking. "Oh," he says. Derek rolls his eyes. "You know," Stiles points out slowly, "that's pretty much been true like...all year. About everything. You've managed…okay. Mostly. Sort of?"

That earns him a quick, derisive snort. "Do your homework," Derek says. His tone says we are done. Let it go. Stop.

Stiles stops. If Derek wants to wallow in self-flagellation over the past, fine. So be it. He can have fun with that and Stiles will just redirect the energy of his magnanimity into wrestling his math problems under control. Which he does, with the kind of intense, determined concentration he can only ever seem to muster when it's all he has left to stave off alternatives that are even harder to deal with.

Even then it doesn't last. It never lasts. He keeps flicking his gaze up to Derek, quick glimpses of Derek efficiently cooking beef and mixing up some kind of cheese concoction. When Derek starts carefully feeding dough through the contraption clamped to the counter, Stiles finally explodes. "Okay, you know that thing I do where I say stuff that should probably...not get said," he blurts.

Derek's shoulders lift in a slight hunch. "I'm familiar," he says warily. "Don't worry about it. It's fine."

Crap, Stiles thinks. But he goes ahead and wades into the pile of shit in front of him anyway, exactly like he always does when there's a lack of viable alternatives. "No, I mean -- well, that, yeah, I'm sorry. But I more meant what I'm about to say." Derek's shoulders practically make sweet love to his own ears, they go so high. Stiles cringes but barrels on. "I just…don't really know what I'm doing, here."

It's basically true facts. He doesn't, like kind of not at all, and if he thinks too hard about it he can almost feel the cloying, shivery edges of panic welling up into a dangerous place in his throat -- which actually makes him sort of grateful in a new and unexpected way when Derek glares daggers at him across the island. It's something to focus on, digging himself out of his own mess. "No, no," he says quickly, shaking his head. "I know what I'm doing, like, here. I mean, hello, was definitely present and accounted for during recent events. Which were, you know, not unenjoyed."

Derek's eyes darken in a weirdly satisfied way that's equal parts flattering, hot, and impetus to babble on even more nervously. "But, like, we had sex and now you're seriously cooking right in front of my face like a normal person." He really needs to shut up. He really needs to -- "And there's tomorrow, and all the days after that, and fuck if I know how that goes. And let's not even talk about the others knowing because that thought is like -- I'm trying not to have that thought yet. 'Cause seriously, man, I don't know what I'm doing. So I just wanted to get it out up front that I'm probably going to say dumb stuff and basically wind up doing it wrong. Like...full disclosure. It's what I do."

Not for the first time -- or the fifth or the tenth or the hundredth -- Stiles sort of resents Derek's ability to stare at him in a way that sparks pure paranoia. For all Stiles knows, the guy could be plotting his death or thinking about kittens.

Or both. Hell, he might be an epic mental multitasker.

"You're not going to do anything wrong," Derek finally says shortly. He starts laying noodles and crap into a deep pan like -- like that's it, end of story.

Like he hadn't just put some seriously loaded emphasis on that you're that Stiles feels sick over not really wanting to go anywhere near. "The point I imagine you're making is taken," he huffs. "Still. Don't say I didn't warn you."

"Noted." Derek's tone is so bemusedly flat that Stiles can't help grinning broadly. Derek shakes his head slightly and gives him a small smile in return. "Relax, would you? Tomorrow you'll go to school and then come over here, there are things you all need to know about the witch situation. And the others will be fine. I can have Erica run interference tonight if you're worried about it."

Stiles goes utterly still. "Worried about what, I – hold on, tonight? Why can't we, like, take a few days to figure out how to -- and what do you mean, Erica? Did she know you were going to booty call me over here before I did? "

Derek sighs. "No, you moron. But she's been aware of my feelings. I could call her. She'd be happy to handle it – once she stops laughing, I'm sure. And you – they're going to know."

"But wh -- oh my god, you totally stealth-marked me." Stiles moans quietly. He has the sudden and distressing mental image of most of his friends gathering around and sniffing him. "You did, didn't you, you eau de Derek'd all over me. I'm that kid with the weird sweat no amount of deodorant can cover now, aren't I? It's not fair, either, you offered me food, I shouldn't have to walk around with a scarlet letter -- scent, whatever -- just because I have a stomach and a sex drive. Ugh. This is so sick, they're all gonna know every freaking time we have sex, aren't they?"

Derek stares at him, brows lifted and lips slightly parted. For a second Stiles could swear he's on the verge of smiling. Which, wow, insensitive.

Only he sounds uncertain, and more than a little hopeful, when he says, "so you'd be okay with having more sex, is what you're saying."

Stiles considers throwing a pencil at him. He settles for pulling a face instead. "That shit better be the second coming of Chef Boyardee, is what I'm saying."

"Chef Boy – Stiles, that comes out of a can," Derek says, plainly horrified.

"Hey now, don't knock Spaghetti-O's. Once upon a time, that constituted gour-freaking-met to me."

Derek rolls his eyes. "I'll do my best to meet the impossibly high bar you've set for me." His mouth twists reluctantly when Stiles laughs, but then straightens out into a serious gaze. "It can wait, if that's what you want. Scott and the others, they'll know you've been with someone, but after another shower they probably won't be able to tell who. Erica might guess, but…I can tell her to keep it to herself."

Stiles stares, tries to figure out what Derek wants from him in this. It's aggravating, him just laying down a choice like Stiles has ever been all that good at making important, considered decisions.

Sure as shit Stiles opens his mouth and says the first words that burble up. "Tell her to take care of it," he blurts. "If they're gonna know at all, don't see why they shouldn't know it's you."

Derek's long exhale tells him he made the right choice. Derek's version of the right choice, at least; Stiles just isn't so sure that the goose and the gander have similar interests in this particular situation. Still, the weird flash of – of relief in Derek's eyes before he turns away to put the lasagna in the oven is just heady enough to quell the insistent jangle of his nerves.

Until Derek picks up his phone and starts thumbing at it, at least. Stiles bites his lip and stares hard at the numbers on the page in front of him. After a minute Derek comes around to slide onto the stool next to him, but Stiles sort of tries to block it out.

Derek's ruins it with a finger tapping down on his notebook. "This one's wrong. You should have subtracted, when the logarithm is -- "

"Damn it," Stiles mumbles, erasing furiously. "I knew that. I don't know how you knew that, but I knew that. You just distracted me."

"I didn't do anything."

"You did --" Stiles gestures vaguely around the kitchen and holds his breath that Derek accepts the distraction. "That. Dick move, dude. Knowing how to cook is, it's foolproof. Everyone finds that hot, I'm sure of it. I bet there've been studies and -- I should look that up, food has like, always been linked to seduction and --"

A hand settling heavily on the back of his neck stops him short. "Are you almost done?" Derek asks mildly. His thumb rubs slowly along the base of Stiles' skull. Stiles blinks at him and nods. He can't help but push into the heat of Derek's palm like a cat seeking affection. "Good. Finish up."

With that Derek draws away and pads off on bare feet. Stiles licks his lips and forces himself to power through his last few problems, then crams his notebook back into his bag with a relieved sigh and hops off his stool. He finds Derek kicked back on the sofa with his feet up on the table, scribbling in a notebook. "Whatcha doing?" Stiles drawls, dropping down with a careful foot of space between them. He peers at the looping scrawl of Derek's handwriting. "Is that – wow, a shopping list? Really? That's a thing you do?"

Derek shrugs and jots down soy sauce - low sodium. "Yes. Can you come over on Saturday?"

"Why, are you gonna need help putting everything away?" Stiles jokes weakly. "You can reach the top cabinets just as well as I can, you know."

Derek scowls at him. "No, this is for – it's for you." He grimaces uncomfortably under Stiles' scrutiny. "There's stuff I thought your father might like. I thought maybe I could show you how to -- it's all easy, really healthy."

Everything suddenly hits home. Stiles is in bizarro world, he has totally landed in bizarro world where Derek Hale wants to do things like partake of his body and feed him and help him wrangle his father's more hedonistic appetites. He swallows hard around a sudden dryness in his mouth. "Why would you do that?"

Derek shrugs. "Because it's important to you. Because I can help. You don't have to, though. It was just an offer."

"Oh." Stiles fidgets his hands in his lap, picking restlessly at the side of one thumbnail. There are about eighteen dozen things going through his head, most of them variations on the theme of what the fuuuuuuck, but he finally settles on licking his lips and nodding. "I -- yeah. That would be -- thanks?"

For a few seconds that feel like forever, Derek side-eyes him and taps the nib of his pen against the page. "What are you thinking?" he asks at last.

"That you confuse the hell out of me," Stiles says honestly, thoughtlessly. Derek's mouth compresses in displeasure and Stiles shrugs. "What, man, you do. But like...in a way that's kind of making me wonder if you wanna make out? If that helps at all."

"You want to make out?"

"Do you want to make out?" Stiles waggles his eyebrows at Derek's taken-back look of consternation. "What? I asked first."

"You said you wondered, that's not the same as actually ask--"

"You know what, forget it, I just changed my mind," Stiles says.

But when Derek tosses his notebook aside and reaches to get a fistful of Stiles' shirt and haul him in, he goes easily. There's a near miss when he comes close to kneeing Derek in the balls as he tries to climb onto his lap, but he ultimately manages to get settled without inflicting pain. He smiles a little uncertainly at Derek. "Still confused," he points out, mostly to distract himself from the awkwardness of this new intimacy. "But I think I can deal."

Derek stares at his mouth. His hands creep around Stiles' hips, fingertips slipping under cotton to rub slow, small circles into the skin of his lower back. "It's not that confusing," he insists, his brow tightening. "I'm not confusing."

"You're completely confusing," Stiles corrects. He rolls his eyes and mashes his thumb against Derek's forehead to smooth it out. Derek's eyes cross in and up to track the offending digit. "Stop it. Looking like you might snack on my face is not as attractive as you might think it is."

"Stiles..." Derek growls under his breath. He tugs Stiles in closer, a quick jerk on his hips, and before Stiles knows what's happening Derek has surged forward to catch his lower lip in a soft, damp suck that segues seamlessly into coaxing his mouth open with a slide of his tongue. Stiles groans into it. This kissing thing, he's really turning out to enjoy it.

Like, a lot.

He's also willing to give an enthusiastic thumbs up to Derek's hands sliding further up his shirt to spread across broad expanses of his back, and to Derek laving his tongue over the hammer of Stiles' pulse in his neck, and most definitely to Derek's arms tightening around him in momentary warning before he tips Stiles to the side and presses him down into the sofa, rocking up into the spread of his legs to slot against him just so.

"Whoa," Stiles says on the tail end of a hiss of approval. "Deja vu."

Derek ignores him. He braces up on one forearm and his other hand slips under Stiles' shirt to rub up and down his side, fingers playing over his ribs. Stiles bites his lip and arches up into the touch. The movement rubs their groins together and Derek pushes him back down in a roll that eases into a heavy pin. His mouth presses hot and wet to the line of Stiles' throat. "Yes," he mutters. "I'd be okay with making out."

"No shit," Stiles says. His voice cracks even before Derek shifts and lines them up. "Oh, fu -- uh. So you know, I'm thinking maybe we have different definitions of making out? 'Cause I would call this more -- more frottage, you know, sort of in the vein of actually getting off, it'shmmph--"

Derek sucks lightly on his tongue. His arm slips under Stiles and lifts him into the next push of his hips, and Stiles decides that whatever dictionary Derek is operating out of is just fine with him, thank you. He hooks his feet behind Derek's knees for leverage to move with him. "Do you have some sort of problem with getting off?" Derek breathes into the corner of his mouth.

Blasphemy, Stiles thinks indignantly. Instead of giving Derek any answer, though, he twists and paws at his purloined shirt to try and wriggle out of it. He wants to be naked, he suddenly very much wants to be doing the super awesome naked and touching everywhere thing again.

But Derek bats at his hands and bites his nipple through the cotton. "Leave it," he says roughly. "It smells like – it's mine, it makes you smell like -- leave it on, I want you in it."

"Oh my god," Stiles says thickly. His dick hurts, he's so turned on suddenly. "Oh my god, that, that is stupidly, possessively hot, why -- why is that hot, oh my god --" Derek just rumbles softly and ruts down against him, pace picking up. His mouth maps out a damp trail up Stiles' neck and jaw until he's panting quietly in Stiles' ear while their bodies push together. "Derek," Stiles tries. "Derek, for real, dude, c'mon. There's only so many times my pride can take coming with my pants still on in one night, you know? So like, maybe if those could go? They're mine, totally smell like me and me alone. What do you say, buddy?"

Derek – the asshole – grunts and drags his weight even harder against Stiles' erection. "Fuck," Stiles hisses. His traitorous hands spasm and clutch at Derek's ass, urge him not to stop. "Don't say I didn't warn you - you are so lending me something to wear home, you fucker, jesus --"

A sharp beeping erupts in the kitchen.

In an instant, Derek pushes himself up and off of Stiles to stride away. Stiles is left gasping for breath and trying to will away his throbbing hard-on. "I hate you, you know," he calls out towards the kitchen.

"You won't in ten minutes," Derek calls back, sounding completely unconcerned. Judging by the aroma starting to assault Stiles' nose, he's most likely correct.

Still -- ten minutes. Stiles can accomplish a lot in ten minutes. He presses a hand down over his dick and rocks up helplessly, sucking in a sharp breath at the pressure.

Within seconds Derek's face appears over the back of the sofa. He's wielding a small basting brush and looks irate. "You can do that," he snaps, "or you can have your garlic bread. Choose now."

"Oh, for fuck's -- fine," Stiles whines. He sits up and glares sullenly at Derek. "Fine, I said! Go! Begone!"

Derek's expression settles into a smug smirk. "Good. Otherwise I was going to have to blow you, and come and lasagna aren't complementary tastes."

In his hurry to surge to his feet and tell Derek off for being a complete bastard, Stiles trips over the coffee table.

He crashes down, arms flailing all the way. "So much hate," he groans. He pushes up and struggles to his feet only to be confronted with Derek's supremely unimpressed look, and he pulls a teeth-baring sneer in return and stalks for the kitchen to raid the fridge for a cold soda. He presses it against his crotch instead of opening it. "Not. One. Word," he snarls.

Derek wisely chooses to keep his mouth shut and start slathering melted butter over bread slices that he layers onto a baking sheet and sticks into the oven. Stiles limps his way back onto a stool, trying -- unsuccessfully -- to think unsexy thoughts while he stares at Derek's ass.

Then the smell that bursts out once Derek starts cutting the lasagna makes mincemeat of Stiles' sense of smell and sanity both. "Ohhh, fuck me, that's good," he groans. "I wants it, precious. Give it to me."

Derek turns on his heel and looks at him with wide, amazed eyes. The spatula in his hand drips a saucy glob of cheese onto the floor, but Derek pays it no heed.

He just bows his head and starts shaking. Stiles' brain catches up right around the moment Derek outright snorts. "No!" he yelps. "Rewind! I didn't say that, it didn't happen! Oh my god, I hate everything so much."

He does – except, maybe, just a little, the sight of Derek laughing more openly than Stiles has ever seen before.

Or the small, slightly embarrassed smile Derek quirks at him when his chuckles taper off, or how he doesn't actually comment on Stiles' complete, horrifying lack of any kind of filter.

When the hell any of that started mattering to Stiles he doesn't know, but he can't ignore the heat suffusing his cheeks. He fiddles with a salt shaker and clamps his mouth shut until Derek thunks a plate down in front of him with a clatter – and then he might whimper, just slightly, at the tantalizing sight of melted cheese and oozing sauce.

He peeks at Derek, who has his own plate but is just sitting on the other side of the island, staring at him expectantly. "Dude. Scrutiny. I am feeling pressured."

"Sorry," Derek mutters. He grabs a fork and attacks his food, but Stiles can feel the attention still on him, Derek stealing glances every few seconds.

He's never felt so much riding on a freaking plate of food. He crams a heaping forkful into his mouth out of sheer, stubborn determination to override the nerves.

His mouth promptly explodes with joy. "Holy shit, dude, you're magical," he blurts in the middle of chewing. "What the fuck, mmph, seriously, what did I even do to warrant this?"

Derek tips his head to the side. "You – " he starts, but then sighs and shakes his head. "Laura," he says suddenly instead. "I would cook for Laura. We always made sure to be home, at least four or five nights every week."

Stiles forgets, momentarily, how to swallow. After a few seconds he twitches back into his right mind and gulps. "Oh," he says faintly. "Is that why you want to teach me to – "

"Your father is important to you," Derek says carefully. "You take care of those people. Especially if there aren't many of them. You do what you can."

For a long stretch they just stare at each other, the air suddenly feeling oppressive with the weight of the dead hanging in it. All Stiles can remember is the day he Googled a prescription he found in the medicine cabinet and fell down a rabbit hole on WebMD that started with high blood pressure and got progressively worse from there.

"I used to wish my parents would have another kid so that I could be a big brother," he finally says, poking at a stray noodle on his plate. "After my mom – I don't know. I think about it a lot, uh. How I'd be alone if anything happened to him."

"You have Scott, his mother would – "

"I know." Stiles shrugs. "But it's not the same, is it? Is Isaac? Are Erica and Boyd?" When he glances up, Derek gives a tiny jerk of his head. "Right. So I meant it. Thank you."

"Yeah," Derek acknowledges quietly. "Laura would have liked you, you know."

Stiles' head snaps up in surprise. Something painful twists in his chest as his heart hammers out of control. "Yeah?"

A series of twitches roll through the muscles in Derek's face, his eyes pinching at the end. "Yeah," he mutters, bowing his head. "She – she would have adored you. For having a brain you actually use, for one thing. She wanted something, someone like that for me."

Stiles wonders about the tension in Derek's voice. He wonders about the years Derek was gone from Beacon Hills, how he and Laura spent them, what patterns and rhythms they established to help them keep going. He wonders how Derek managed to keep breathing after losing her, too. He wonders what she was like as a sister, what Derek was like as a brother, if they teased each other and comforted each other and argued with each other.

He wonders a lot, almost too much to pick a single direction. "Huh. Do I detect a slight whiff of someone having disapproved of your past -- uh."

"Anonymous hookups," Derek fills in bluntly. He tosses another piece of bread onto Stiles' plate and meets Stiles' blink of surprise with a challenging stare. "She wasn't fair about it sometimes. They could have been rocket scientists for all I knew -- it's not like I was trying to solve the mysteries of the universe with them. We were just getting off."

He shrugs and falls into eating silently. Stiles waits him out; there's an unfinished thought there that he can feel dangling, unsaid.

"It was the only way I could," Derek eventually admits, quietly. "If they didn't know my name, or where I lived, or where I came from or what I was, then they couldn't -- they couldn't. It was safe."

"Right," Stiles says slowly. He licks butter and garlic from his lips. "I know those things."

"Yeah," Derek says. He picks up his empty plate and takes it to the sink. "I know you do."

Before Stiles can even begin to unpack the red hot mess Derek just loaded into four dismissive words, both their phones vibrate against the counter. He frowns at Derek's back as he grabs for his.

Erica's text makes him immediately regret the entire history of mobile communication.

Derek manned up -- Isaac wins the pool. Anyone gives Stiles crap, JACKSON, I'll claw your face off to wear for Halloween and leave the rest for Derek. Lydia, call me? Physics is destroying my soul.

"There was a pool?" Stiles squeaks faintly. His forehead hits the counter with a thunk. Derek growls under his breath, something about spines being ripped through noses, and Stiles decides he likes that plan. It's disgusting, vicious, and vengeful, some of his favorite things.

It's also never actually gonna happen, which leaves him screwed.

"I'm moving to Sweden," he announces to the floor.

"...Sweden."

"I hear good stuff," Stiles mumbles. "They have IKEA. And meatballs. Meatballs at IKEA, even, so...you know."

"Sacramento has IKEA," Derek points out. "Is there anything you wouldn't do for food?"

"I won't do that," Stiles sings randomly. He sits upright with a groan. "Very little, actually. It's Scott's fault, he set me down a dark path of warped reward seeking. When we were eleven I ran out of allowance and he said he'd buy me a scoop of ice cream for every worm I ate." Derek stares at him and he grins. "Once I got through six he was only going to have enough money left for one scoop for him, so we split a massive brownie sundae instead."

"You two knuckleheads couldn't hammer out the concept of sharing without worms being involved?"

"What's the fun in that?"

"You're insane," Derek says flatly.

"You're a werewolf," Stiles retorts. "And I have it on good authority that something about my insanity revs your engine, so…you know. Bite me."

Derek just shakes his head and snatches his plate away to start washing dishes. Stiles taps his fingers idly. "Anyway – any objection if I slipped Erica just the tiniest little bit of wolfsbane?"

"There's a weak variant that causes vomiting, not much else," Derek mutters darkly. "I'll get you some."

Something about Derek's irritation – on his behalf, Stiles is pretty sure it is – eases his own tension. He hops off his stool and reaches Derek's side just in time to pluck a wet plate from his hand. "You won't be offended if I check that variant with the doc, right? I mean, I don't want to accidentally kill her or anything, and you and botany –"

"Shut up," Derek grumps. He casts a sideling glance at Stiles, an aggravated curve tugging at the corner of his mouth. "I do get fuzzy on some of the rarer strains. Checking wouldn't hurt."

With a snicker, Stiles sets the plate in his hand carefully in the drying rack. Derek's self-deprecating smile brings a sudden, tingling flush of heat creeping up the back of his neck and a tightness in his throat he can't really explain to himself, can't quite latch onto and pick apart. He veers instead for the familiarly mundane stir of his cock and goes for what it wants.

"So listen. I'm pretty sure you promised me more sex," he says with a confidence he's pretty sure he dredged up from the corner of Imaginary Lane and Non-Existent Boulevard. "Better sex. Good sex. I wish to collect."

Derek's eyebrows knit together as he dries his hands and hangs the towel over the edge of the sink to dry. "You said it was good." He sounds confused. Hell, he sounds sort of wounded. Stiles wonders about the wisdom of trying to seduce a werewolf he apparently can't read worth shit.

But in for a penny, and all. "Yeah, but that was more in the -- you were all 'we'll do better' and I was all 'it's all good, man.' Like if you owed me a hundred bucks and only coughed up ninety, I'm not gonna sneeze at ninety freaking dollars in hand or anything. But it doesn't mean I don't want the other ten, do you know what ten bucks'll get you these days? I mean, not a lot, fucking inflation, shit, but --

"Are you seriously saying it was only ninety percent good," Derek says.

"No! I -- that was -- it was a for example, dude, don't get your panties in a -- " It occurs to Stiles that this is not going well at all and that he should probably do a hard reverse away from emasculating Derek any further. "Ninety percent is totally respectable, anyway, that's an A. That is exceeds expectations. I mean, not that I really had any expectations, it's been all like, porn and the imagination for me. And yes, I totally get that porn can give youth completely skewed ideas of normal sexual interactions. I told you, I read things! It's not like I ever let myself think it would turn out to be all insanely buff dudes and monster cock and multiple orgasms and -- oh. Oh."

Stiles blinks rapidly as his careening thoughts all converge, like they sometimes do, into an unexpected gnarl of realization that hits his vocal cords before he can stop it. "Holy shit," he breathes, twitching slightly. "You're like my own personal skin flick."

Derek's murder-or-kittens stare is back.

And Stiles doesn't even care. He licks his lips absently, caught up in the dazzling brilliance of having abruptly pole-vaulted straight to a gold medal in the sex life Olympics, no prelim rounds necessary, thank you very much. He pays little attention to Derek stalking him down like prey.

Turns out to be for the best. He winds up crowded against the counter next to the sink, white-knuckling the Formica edge for dear life as Derek kicks his feet apart and insinuates himself, up close and personal, overly warm and so fucking solid. "Monster cock, really?" Derek grumbles, without heat. His hand rises to tip Stiles' face up with a finger curled under his chin, and his thumb drags down Stiles' lower lip. He lets the nail catch on teeth, levers Stiles' jaw open like he's a fucking rescue worker trying to free the gasp that's aching to break loose. His hips -- his hips and his stupid monster cock -- rock lazily against Stiles. "You're sure that's not wishful thinking? We're not that far off each other."

Stiles pushes Derek's thumb free with his tongue. "I didn't, uh. Didn't exactly get a chance to do a thorough comparison earlier. But it felt pretty monstrous when you had it in mrraammphhh -- "

Derek is, Stiles notices, developing a really rude habit of not letting Stiles finish his sentences before shoving his tongue in Stiles' mouth.

Not that he's complaining. Just noticing. In the same way he notices Derek swinging him away from the counter and backing him through the loft, hands strong on his hips to ensure that none of his many stumbles have disastrous, injurious, sex-hindering consequences. Once there, there's a strange naturalness that Stiles wouldn't have predicted to peeling each other's clothes off, his own hands just seeming to know what to do, and before he knows it he's stretched across the tangled sheets with Derek's mouth at his throat and slick fingers pressing into him.

And even with the stinging ache that feels like pressure over a cut over a bruise, it's good – it's beyond good, it's freaking awesome, in fact, things are going in a highly approved direction.

Until Derek chooses to detonate a nuke right in his face. "You should fuck me this time," Derek says, as idly as he might comment on the weather.

Stiles chokes on air, like, he seriously manages to choke on nothing. But whatever, the craziness his life has become is a tough pill to swallow even if it is intangible. "You -- I -- what?" he sputters. "Why?"

Derek pushes a third finger in and fucks him lazily with them, each deep plunge matched to a quick, suckling kiss to Stiles' neck. "Because you never have and you should. You should know what it feels like, find out if you like it," he murmurs. "And because I like it. I want you to."

It is, admittedly, a little hard to find words when Derek's fingers keep short-circuiting his brain. "I know what it feels like, I have a fleshli-- wait. You've done that before?"

"Yes," Derek says with exaggerated patience. "Do you have a problem with that? And why the hell do you have a --"

"I'm sixteen and holy shit, have you ever tried one of those things? Besides." Stiles makes a vague effort at jazz hands. "Lefty and Righty here were both a little too tender to take care of business for awhile, thanks. But seriously – you kind of take the euphemism out of 'alpha male', man, what the fuck."

"I wasn't always an alpha," Derek points out in his Stiles, you are stupid and also the bane of my existence voice. "Besides. Being an alpha doesn't mean -- that's not how it works."

"Excuse me for buying into modern stereo -- oh, oh jesus fuck -- " Stiles claws at the bed as Derek twists and spreads his fingers. "Derek, wait, wait, I'm gonna -- "

Derek works him as surely as he'd worked the pasta dough, fingers pressing in with determination. Stiles digs his heels into the mattress and rides Derek's hand in hard jerks of his hips as he comes helplessly. He blinks forlornly at his streaked stomach. "I think that's what we would call counterproductive."

"Not really," Derek says. He sounds utterly unconcerned. Or possibly a bit grumpy. It's a close call. "I can wait. Now you might actually last long enough to get it in."

Stiles frowns, but stays silent. It's not like Derek doesn't have a point.

A completely dickfaced point, but a point nonetheless.

And a point he rapidly buys into when Derek stretches out close against his side and hooks a forearm under his neck. He dips in for long, languorous kisses while his hand sweeps curious arcs over Stiles' skin. Stiles tangles their legs together and twists as close as he can, and he loses track of time but has dark marks peppering his chest and Derek grinding against his hip, panting into his neck, when Derek finally palms his dick and finds it starting to firm.

Stiles jerks into the loose, coaxing curl of Derek's fist. "Shit," he gasps. "Like that, that's good –"

"I'm not trying to get you off," Derek mutters. "Again. Jesus. You ready?"

Something hot and uncomfortable unfurls in Stiles' stomach. "Sure," he manages. "Uh. How do you want – I mean, should I…"

Derek shifts onto his back, nudging Stiles with his elbow to make room. His legs sprawl open easily. "Have at it. However you want."

What Stiles wants is some direction, okay, but that's never really been Derek's strong suit. At least not without a heavy dose of a form of dickishness that Stiles could do without. He grimaces and crawls between Derek's knees, deciding that imitation is flattery and an excellent strategy for faking it ‘til making it.

That lasts all of five seconds before his mouth kicks back in. "This isn't going to be good," he says. Derek shrugs. "It might actually be incredibly bad. Especially if you define ‘might' as ‘probably-approaching-definitely'."

"It's not going to be bad," Derek says impatiently.

"Yeah, you think. Only I'm kind of spastic, dude!"

"I kind of noticed, dude!" Derek rolls his eyes to punctuate his totally excessive and uncalled for sarcasm. "Fine. It's going to suck. But then it'll be over with and you'll know what to expect next time."

"You -- you're already planning next time." Stiles' voice cracks embarrassingly. "I appreciate the show of faith, I do, but –"

Derek pulls a face. "Stiles. I told you, I like it. And I want to like it with you. I want to have incredibly bad sex with you that I will like and want to have again because it is with you. What is the comprehension problem here?"

Heat steals into Stiles' face, burns beneath his cheeks. He ignores it resolutely in favor of steeling his will and girding his loins and whatnot. "I'm just gonna," he says lamely, his hands fluttering uncertainly over Derek's thighs before settling lightly. His fingertips skate over a heavy dusting of hair and Derek lets his legs splay even wider. His dick twitches, smearing a shiny patch onto his stomach.

Stiles bites his lip. Hard. "Right, um. Where's the --"

Derek shoves the bottle of lube into his hand. "Don't use too much," he says tersely. "Or worry about being too careful. Quit worrying in general, would you?"

"You decided to bed a sexless wonder," Stiles snaps. "You can just deal with the strings that come attached."

Derek just rolls his eyes. Scowling fiercely, Stiles pours some lube into his hand and reaches hesitantly to touch behind Derek's balls, stroking until his fingertips flutter against the promise of entry. At the first real hint of pressure, Derek sighs in apparent satisfaction and jerks his head in a nod. "Go ahead."

He takes the slow slide of Stiles' finger with the same ease, and the second is a tighter fit but if there's any sign of displeasure, Stiles is at a loss to recognize it. He tries to let everything go and simply concentrate on what he's going – which is fingerfucking Derek Hale's ass, like, when did this become a thing that could even happen to him? – and within a minute Derek grabs his wrist and stills it.

"That's fine," he says. His voice comes out in a rough scrape that startles and worries Stiles until he peeks and sees Derek's eyes, heavy-lidded and fixed on him. Derek tugs on his arm, urging him up to loom over Derek's body. "Do it."

Stiles freezes instead. It feels a little like his brain actually stops working, like, everything but emergency life support goes utterly offline at last. He knows he must be staring at Derek like a startled animal but jesus. He's got his own dick in his hand and Derek sprawled easily in front of him, ready to let Stiles put it in him, wanting Stiles to, and the reality of Stiles' life before now might have involved a night or two – or fifty – of trolling personals ads online or thinking about getting tanked at Jungle and praying someone took advantage because he just thought sometimes that maybe that was what it was going to take, is all. And now.

Now.

Now Derek Hale is asking to be the first person Stiles' cock ever feels from the inside.

Stiles' brain starts failing on the survival front. He can't fucking breathe, he can't --

Derek's palms suddenly wrap over the sides of his neck and his mouth is warm and careful against Stiles'. "Close your eyes," Derek orders, in his firm-but-not-totally-douchy Alpha voice.

Stiles squeezes them shut. It's better, leaves him with the blurrier version of Derek in his mind's eye instead of the paralyzingly high-def reality in front of him. Derek drags him down slowly, letting Stiles fumble blindly for the mattress to brace himself, and when they're settled he works a hand between them and guides Stiles' cock, presses the tip to him.

"Only if you want to," Derek says softly against his lips.

If he wants to. Instead of letting hysterical laughter escape, Stiles shoves forward into the strangling heat of Derek's body.

Derek inhales sharply. But almost immediately his hands are on Stiles' ass and his hips are lifting, tilting, every motion drawing Stiles in deep. Stiles blinks slowly as his throat works convulsively to swallow around dryness. "I," he manages, high and strangled. "Derek, I can't --"

"Quiet." Derek brings a hand up to palm the back of his head and hold him into a hungry kiss, tongue sweeping and tangling. His other hand squeezes and pulls and his hips tip up even more. "Be quiet and fuck me."

Stiles supposes that what he does technically counts as fucking Derek. It's just nothing he's ever going to hold up as a shining moment of smooth moves or refined skill. Mostly he just fails at getting any sort of control over the feedback loop going on between his dick and his brain, and he winds up humping into Derek with less grace than even the most frantic points in his extensive masturbatory history, rough and uneven and jarring.

It is, in a word, awful.

It's also blazing hot and tight and Derek, Derek's hands trying to brace and steady him against and through the tremble building under his skin, Derek biting at his lip and licking sweat from his skin and letting Stiles -- he's actually fucking encouraging Stiles to, he wanted Stiles to, wants Stiles --

Stiles lurches into an abrupt orgasm that feels like being rear-ended, something greater than himself making him slam in and spiral out. He winds up dazed and rattled from the force of it, gasping wetly against Derek's cheek.

After a long, silent minute, he tries to get his shit together. "God, sorry," he mumbles, pulling out with a soft hiss. His cheeks still feel hot. "I --"

Derek bites gently at his jaw. He shifts, and his trapped cock slips between them as if to remind Stiles of its continued existence. "It's okay. I'm just going to – " He shifts Stiles off and onto his side, presses close behind him. His cock nudges into the still-slick cleft of Stiles' ass and Stiles sighs, tucks a pillow between his shoulder and arm. "Okay?" Derek murmurs, fingers playing over his stomach.

Stiles nods. He closes his eyes and leans back into heat of Derek's body, relaxing into the slow rock that keeps Derek's cock rubbing across his skin. Part of him is relieved; his body is done, it is so done, he's got nothing left.

Another part, the part that has never known what's good for him, makes him open his mouth and sigh out, "you can – it's fine, I mean, if you want…"

Derek groans against his neck. It doesn't hurt when he pushes in, just the pressure of being filled, and his hand flexes on Stiles' hip to keep him from tipping forward. "Stiles," he whispers. He sounds pained, needing. His hips roll like he can't stop himself, can't do anything but push deeper and deeper, and his lips brush behind Stiles' ear. "Fuck, you feel good."

Mindlessly, aimlessly, Stiles twists his head to seek out Derek's mouth. Derek's tongue curls around his with the same leisurely insistence as his steady grind into Stiles' body, until his arm slips around in a crushing squeeze and he jerks in, a minute and then two before he finally shudders to a halt. "Stiles," he breathes one last time.

Stiles finds himself at a rare loss for words of his own. Derek doesn't seem inclined to let him go; he stays pressed in close, inside, and lets his mouth trail over Stiles' jaw to eventually rest, slack and breathing heavily, against his shoulder.

"Russian judge says ten," Stiles finally says. Derek huffs into his skin, gives a quick nip with his teeth. "Ugh. I don't want to move."

"So don't," Derek mutters.

"I wish." Stiles yawns. "I should get home. My dad may play the whole curfew concept fast and loose, but if I don't show up eventually it'll be like, déjà vu in seriously bad ways."

"Déjà vu?"

"Questions, avoidance, suspicious glares, innocent shrugs. I'm running a pretty good streak on avoiding that whole rigmarole, I'd like it to continue."

"Yeah." Derek eases away from him to stretch out on his back. "Shower's all yours."

There's a tightness to his voice that makes Stiles pause and then roll over. But Derek's eyes are closed, his expression relaxed; Stiles can't tell if it's genuine or carefully set. He sits up and scratches his head. "Yeah," he says uncertainly. "Okay."

He showers quickly this time and dresses in the bathroom. In the bedroom Derek is still sprawled unabashedly, his chest rising and falling steadily. Stiles hesitates, unsure if he's fallen asleep. "I'm gonna go," he ventures softly.

Derek's eyebrow twitches and his chin jerks in…in acknowledgment, or something like it. Stiles shifts on his feet. "I'll, uh. See you tomorrow, then."

He doesn't get any further response. It's cue enough to take his leave.

He beats his dad home by twenty minutes, which at least lets him chalk up another successful evening of being on the receiving end of parental relief at seeing his ass home safe and sound without any fear of lies or obfuscations. Stiles'll take it, however undeserved. He's got enough to freak out about as it is.

Like the completely new kind of craziness that seems to have dropped into his life – and the lurking fear that he's somehow managed to screw it up at record pace.

By morning he's barely slept and has to drag himself to school. Stiles isn't surprised to find Scott loitering in front of his locker. "Hey, buddy," he tries brightly. "What's up, want me to look over your –"

Scott headlocks him without a word and drags him by the neck into the nearest restroom. Stiles manages to disengage by propellering his arms in a mad flail until Scott releases him to stumble against a sink, and he musters up what he hopes is a thoroughly convincing glare once he catches his balance. "What the hell, dude?"

Scott gives him this horrified stare in return. "Oh my god, it's true! You smell like him!"

"Oh my god!" Stiles mimics viciously. "So? What are you, pissed you didn't win the freaking pool you assholes had going?"

It's not really fair. Even without the wounded, taken aback look Scott gives him, he knows Scott wouldn't have had any part of that. But still. Scott wrenched his neck and he's in the mood to lash out. He'll make his amends later.

"I didn't –" Scott sputters. "Stiles. You can't just – it's Derek! You can't just hook up with him, that's – did you guys even think before –"

"Scott," Stiles says with forced patience. "Of course we thought. There was a pool, remember? You are apparently the exception to the rule of it not going unnoticed that Derek has been trying to tap this for like, awhile. This was not some whim – I mean, does Derek even do whims? I'm more your guy for whims, Derek is like...he does dumb things after thinking about them first. It's tragic."

Scott's face scrunches in worry. "Did you have a whim?"

"Wha -- no! Seriously, Scott, remember that whole horribly disfigured and trapped in my room thing? Thinking, it was horrible. It was all there was to do, especially before my hands healed a little. At least after that I could --"

"Stop," Scott blurts, eyes wide and pleading.

Stiles punches him in the arm. "Play video games, asshole. Though I did that, too. And yes, I did it thinking about Derek."

Scott moans softly. "I hate you."

"I accept and validate your hate," Stiles says sympathetically. "But give me some credit, dude, at least I'm not making you hear about how fucking Derek was -- " He stops short at Scott's horrified squeak. "Sorry."

"I'm going to class," Scott says faintly. "I didn't need to hear – was that the bell? I need to go to class."

"Scott," Stiles says, crossing his arms. "Are you gonna be a douche about this?"

"Um. No?" Scott says uncertainly. He scratches the back of his neck and squints, head tilted. "I don't think so. But…if you could maybe give me a day or two to worry about you? And deal with the unwanted thought of Derek's sex life. I didn't want to think about that."

"Two days," Stiles allows generously. "I can do that. Just..." Scott blinks at him, clearly listening. "Look, uh. This wasn't sudden. It's just…one of those things. I haven't felt like talking about it."

Scott's expression contorts through a gradual progression that flirts with familiar echoes of sympathy before falling into something more carefully easy-going. "Tell you what," he says. "Buy me some Twizzlers before lunch and I'll cope by the time school's out."

"You blew your cash on Allison, didn't you?"

Scott shrugs sheepishly. "I don't get paid again until Monday. But also, someone should have your back with everyone else this afternoon."

"Thanks," Stiles mumbles. He exhales hard and rubs his palms over the top of his head. "That's – that'd be kind of awesome, actually. I kind of don't actually know how the hell to handle that."

"I thought we were trying to make me not worry."

"Shut up, dude. You think I've forgotten how you were after you slept with Allison the first time?" He crosses his arms again and glares, but is mollified slightly by the embarrassed – and understanding – grimace Scott flashes. It's warranted; Scott had shown up in his room one night, given him mute fish-face for ten minutes, then walked out without a word. Stiles hadn't actually found out what had happened until the next day. "C'mon, it's time for class. Could we just maybe plan on you needing a ride home tonight?"

Scott pauses with his hand on the bathroom door, half-turned back to Stiles to watch him with an emphatically fuck you, I'm worried face. "Seriously. I'm about to forsake my Twizzlers."

"Oh my god, no need to go to extremes!" Stiles scowls. "It's nothing. Just be a pal and give me an out if I need it. Just today."

"Any day," Scott corrects. He shrugs and grins at Stiles' surprised blink. "Allison still confuses the hell out of me. Don't tell her I said that."

"Two packs of Twizzlers for you," Stiles says faintly. He jostles Scott out into the hallway. "Really. Thanks."

"Yeah, well, tomorrow my unconditional acceptance comes with lectures," Scott warns.

Stiles raises a fist of acknowledgment as he turns to book it to his first class and the quiz he knows is waiting for him.

Later, he tells himself. Later he'll think about what it means, what it says about everything, that the idea of an earnest Scott lecture or two feels preferable to facing Derek again.

Later.