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the banana bread incident

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A paper plate flies through the kitchen doorway – the door itself has been conspicuously absent since their second day inside the apartment, due to an incident that Derek still swears has nothing to do with him – and clips Derek around the ear. Derek watches it skim the surface of the coffee table before landing next to a heap of laundry and an old pizza box, and then he turns his attention back to the news just as Stiles starts yelling from the kitchen. Derek reaches for the remote and turns up the volume until Stiles’ squawking fades into the background, mixing with the sound of Scott wailing Leona Lewis in the shower.

“This kitchen,” Stiles snaps, appearing in front of Derek, “is fucking foul. Did someone fucking die in the fucking oven?”

“You swear too much,” Derek says absently, taking a bite of his Lucky Charms. Stiles snatches his bowl away and holds it over his head, slopping milk over the sides. Derek simply blinks at him – he’s taller than Stiles, and if he could be bothered to get up he could totally reach the bowl, but as it is, he just sits there, well-used to Stiles’ antics by now. It’s been a year of living together, all three of them, and if he can’t deal with a little cereal theft every now and again, then he may as well just never buy another box again.

“Are you eating this with a plastic spoon?” Stiles demands, his horrified stare whipping from the bowl to Derek’s placid expression.

Derek leans around Stiles to stare at the television screen.

“Yes,” he says, frowning at the subtitles. Ever since Scott sat on the remote and pressed some kind of invisible button with his ass, they’ve listening to every programme in German. At least, Derek thinks it’s German.

“Wish it was Spanish,” Derek mutters, not for the first time. He’s fluent in Spanish, and pretty good with Latin, although that’s his own slightly pathetic secret. Not that there’s anything wrong with languages or learning, but there’s something a bit sad about Derek learning languages because he was miserably friendless for a while. Not to mention the fact that Stiles would tease him mercilessly.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yes, yes, Scott’s ass is hella fine but also the bane of our existence, yada, yada, now answer the question Derek. What is this?”

He holds up the plastic spoon, grimacing as milk drips down his wrist, and Derek arches an eyebrow.

“Have your criminology classes finally taken care of those last few remaining brain cells?” Derek drawls. “It’s a spoon, Stiles. You know, the utensils that you use to eat food with. There’s three of them in total, a knife, a fork –”

Derek ducks as a spoon whips past his head. He sighs, gives up his cereal as a lost cause and reaches for his tea instead. It’s Raspberry Leaf, and Laura wastes no time in teasing him for drinking Period Tea every time she visits, but it helps with his headaches and Derek gets cramps when he stresses, okay, and degrees are stressful. Degrees are the goddamn definition of stressful.

“I know it’s a spoon,” Stiles says, exasperated. “The question is, why the fuck is it a plastic spoon?”

“Why is it a spoon?” Derek collapses back against the couch, careful not to spill his tea. “I take literature, Stiles, not philosophy.”

“Fuck it,” Stiles mutters, throwing his hands up. “I’m surrounded by idiots who don’t know how to use the kitchen to find actual cutlery.”

“I know how to use a kitchen,” Derek protests lazily. “It’s just that all the other spoons were dirty.”

“There’s this revolutionary new invention,” Stiles says, widening his eyes in mock-amazement. “It’s called a sink.”

Scott skates out of the bathroom amidst a cloud of steam, a selection of towels wrapped haphazardly around him, still humming under his breath. Stiles launches the nearest object – Derek’s packet of highlighters – at him, and Scott snatches them out of the air and saunters towards them, smiling sunnily.

A moment later, the smell hits their nose, and Stiles and Derek both clutch their throats and flail around – Stiles does it a little more dramatically than Derek, but that’s nothing new.

Scott scowls at them both. Then his expression turns worried and he bites his lip. “Too much?”

“You have an aura,” Stiles announces solemnly, slumping down next to Derek on the couch and jostling him with his thigh. Derek cups a hand around his tea protectively and glares at Stiles, who just nudges him again, harder this time. “And that aura can also be called a fucking cloud of cologne, man, dial it down unless you want Allison to choke to death on your second date.”

“First,” Scott corrects him immediately, like Stiles knew he would. “It’s our first date. That last one was just a massive mistake, and we are starting new. A fresh start.”

Stiles shares a look with Derek, who grins into his tea. The Not-First Date had involved: sushi; a badly-timed stomach bug; Scott racing out of the restaurant to avoid vomiting all over Allison’s perfect face and perfect hair; and then a solid four days of him leaning over the toilet and moaning about how he’d ruined everything and how fish should be illegal. They aren’t memories that Derek will treasure, exactly, but he’s certainly not going to forget them any time soon.

“Sure it is, buddy,” Stiles says, winking. “First date. Sure.”

Scott lobs the highlighters back at Stiles, who gracelessly flails and yelps when they collide with his face. Derek could have caught them, but the alternative is always funnier. Unless it involves banana bread. Nobody talks about the Banana Bread Incident.

“It is,” Scott insists, disappearing into his bedroom. “And it’s probably more exciting than whatever you’ve got planned for the evening.”

Stiles scowls and shouts, “Low blow, man! Don’t pick holes in my lifestyle choices unless you want to deal with a full-on existential crisis. I will ruthlessly cry all over you.”

Derek shudders. “Please, no. The last one was bad enough.”

Stiles sinks further down the couch and digs his feet into Derek’s thigh, simply wiggling his toes when Derek swats at him.

“Got any plans?” Stiles asks, picking at the skin around his thumb, and Derek’s heart skips pathetically. It’s just a casual nudge of a question, just Stiles making conversation. Don’t read too much into it, he tells himself firmly.

“Oh yeah,” Derek says, nodding solemnly. “My schedule’s chock-a-block full of important meetings and extravagant dinner plans. Such is the life of a University student. Honestly, it all gets a bit tiring sometimes.”

Stiles huffs a laugh and smirks at him. “Got room in your busy life for a lowly commoner like me?”

“Depends on what you’ve got in mind.” Derek lets his hand rest on Stiles ankle, lightly, like he doesn’t even realise he’s doing it. He’s practiced at this, by now, at making Stiles think his interest is casual, friendly.

Stiles grins. “I was thinking maybe catch a movie, order some Chinese Food, since the kitchen is literally a fucking hazard zone right now, and I don’t feel like cooking.”

“Only if I can kick your ass at Mario Kart afterwards.”

“You wish.” Stiles kicks him, and hot tea goes fucking everywhere.

 

*

 

Stiles skids past Derek on the shopping cart, whizzing towards a tower of tomato soup cans at a ridiculous speed. Derek groans, watches almost in slow motion as Stiles careens into the tower and yells, swearing loudly as soup cans roll across the floor with an almighty crash. A can rolls towards Derek and comes to a stop at his feet.

“Yet another fucking store we can no longer shop in,” Derek mutters, scowling as he bends down to pick up the can. He manages to yank the cart out of the wreckage whilst hoisting Stiles up and apologising profusely to one of the shop assistants, who watches them leave with a longsuffering expression.

Derek drags Stiles to the checkout, pays quickly and then kicks the back of his shin until the other boy races across the car park.

Derek takes the remaining grocery bag out of the cart and shoves it in the trunk of the car, wedging it between an unnecessarily large amount of kitchen towels and a bag crammed full with energy drinks; both purchases are courtesy of one Stiles Stilinski, unsurprisingly. When he turns around, Stiles is clambering into the shopping cart with an expression of unholy glee pasted across his face, sunglasses slightly askew. Derek blinks, raises his eyes skyward in the hope that a deity happens to be glancing down and decides to spare him, and then resigns himself to a solid thirty minutes of wrestling a skinny man-child out of the trolley and into the car so that they can get home before Scott decides to cook.

“Not gonna happen, buddy,” Stiles says cheerfully, before Derek can even open his mouth. “Like, three laps around the car park, at least, or I’m going to shove this cart in your car. And I promise, big guy, it’ll fit.”

Derek swings his keys around his index finger and says, “This is a lot less enjoyable than the last time a guy promised me that.”

Stiles chokes on air and jolts so hard that the cart tips over, sending him tumbling to the ground. Derek smirks down at him. He can’t tell if the dazed look in Stiles’ eyes is horror or a concussion, but either way, it’s totally worth it.

“I can’t even plead the need for brain bleach,” Stiles says sadly. “We all know what you look like. It’s pretty good imagery.”

Derek snorts and shuts the trunk, stalking around the side of the car and opening his door. Stiles is always saying shit like that, always winking at Derek after a slow, pointed drag of his eyes over Derek’s ass, always taking bites out of Derek’s pastries and moaning. He asks Derek to marry him when Derek brings him coffee during a late-night revision session. He kissed Derek on the cheek once, sloppy and drunk and smiling stupidly, right in Derek’s sober face.

Nothing ever comes of it, though. Stiles flirts with everything and everyone, blows kisses to the elderly woman in the apartment across from them, smiles slyly at cashiers and once, when he was very drunk, he made out with their television because Scott had paused the show on a picture of a hot, shirtless guy. Derek remembers cleaning the television pretty bitterly and erasing all evidence of the show from the DVR in a fit of rage.

The point is, it doesn’t mean anything, the things that Stiles says and does. It’s just Stiles being Stiles.

“You can take the cart back, since you’re so attached to the damn thing,” Derek says, sliding his sunglasses on his face and slipping smoothly into the driver’s seat. He leaves the door wide open so that he can listen to Stiles grumble and whine as he picks himself up and grudgingly takes the cart back, almost crashing into the side of the supermarket as he tries to avoid running over a dog tied up outside.

Derek snorts loudly as Stiles bends down to pet the thing and then jumps back, flailing, as the dog starts yelping.

“Asshole,” Stiles says as he slams the car door shut behind him. He props his feet up on the dashboard and Derek slaps his ankles until he curls his legs up and puts them down, a safe distance away. “Alright, alright, dude. Quit being all happy-slappy.”

Derek pauses. “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

Stiles waves a dismissive hand. “I knew what I meant. Now, drive quickly before the ice cream melts.”

“We didn’t buy ice cream.”

Stiles expression shifts to one of slight panic and guilt, and then he hums obnoxiously loudly, twiddling his thumbs as he stares out of the window. Derek sighs, puts the car in gear and pulls out of the parking space.

“It better not be that expensive shit you’re addicted to, Stilinski. I do actually enjoy having a bank balance, you know.”

 

*

 

Campus is busy, hundreds of students making their way to and from lessons, binders tucked under their arms as they slink across the grass in groups. Derek finds a tree and sprawls underneath it, basking in the hot sun. He’s got a free period now but it’s hot and there’s barely even a breeze, so he knows attempting to study will be futile. He spreads his work out nonetheless, searching through his bag for a pen that isn’t all chewed up (Stiles likes to borrow his pens and pencils and then put them in his mouth when he inevitably zones out, which in turn sends Derek into a trance, because oral fixation).

Something collides with Derek’s shoulder and he’s knocked sideways, crumpling his bag beneath him. He shouts and shoots upright, fist already clenched, but it’s just Stiles.
Stiles raises an eyebrow at Derek’s fist and pats him on the shoulder. “Chill, buddy. It’s just your very best friend, that’s all. No terminator, no criminal, so put the hand down, slowly.”

Derek rolls his eyes and sits up properly – which is when he notices that Stiles is practically in his lap.

This in itself isn’t a problem – it’s sort of normal, actually, since Stiles does this thing where he doesn’t look before he walks or moves or sits (one too many books have been crushed beneath his ass whilst Derek is in the middle of reading them) – but this all happens in the comfort of their own home. Stiles doesn’t usually make a habit of getting comfortable in Derek’s lap in public, where people can see them and make assumptions that Derek desperately wishes are true.

Thus, instead of shoving Stiles off, he freezes.

Stiles pokes him in the nose. “Something wrong? You’ve got your panic-moonwalking face on.”

Derek instantly scowls. “I do not panic-moonwalk.”

“Deal with it, Derek,” Stiles says, snorting. “You totally do. It’s one of the best things about you, besides your face and your impressive physique. Like, being able to moonwalk is a precious gift that would put you at the top of my list on any given day, but the fact that you do it in situations when you panic, is just, like the ultimate cherry on top of the cake. You should be proud, man.”

Stiles doesn’t look like he plans on moving anytime soon – he throws his bag on the grass and waves at a few students across the grass, a redhead that Derek vaguely recognises and a couple of typical frat boys – so Derek settles back against the tree, Stiles sprawled all over him, and rummages in his squished bag for a book to read. Stiles just closes his eyes and yawns, leaning back against Derek’s shoulder and sighing contentedly.

“Comfortable?” Derek drawls.

“Mmm, very,” Stiles says, and then he’s out like a light, his breath hot against Derek’s neck.

Derek is so busy trying not to move or nudge him or breathe that he reads the same sentence five times before he realises his book is upside down.

 

*

 

The washing machine breaks on a Wednesday, and two weeks later Derek realises that he doesn’t have any clothes left. His room is a tip, which is unusual, since he usually keeps it pretty tidy – that behaviour doesn’t extend to the rest of the house, much to Stiles’ annoyance. There are clothes everywhere, all of them dirty, and his room is starting to smell.

Sighing, Derek stalks into the kitchen and rummages around under the counter, searching for the grocery bags. There’s a faint scent of cake in the air that means Stiles was recently baking.

“Looking for these?”

Derek turns, scowl slipping away as he blinks at the sight in front of him. Stiles is stood in the kitchen doorway, dressed in a thin white tank top and dangling Derek’s collection of grocery bags from his index finger. The tank top has a unicorn emblazoned across the chest, but that’s not what brings Derek up short.

“Don’t say anything,” Stiles says warningly, glaring daggers at Derek.

Derek’s mouth twitches, and Stiles lowers the bags until they obscure his crotch, but it does absolutely nothing to protect his dignity.

Bright pink, tiny basketball shorts are stretched tight around Stiles’ legs, emphasising the shape of his thighs and generally ruining Derek’s life. He’s not sure if he loves them or hates them. He is sure that he wants Stiles to turn around though.

“Give us a twirl, then,” Derek says, twisting his finger in a circle and smirking as he leans back against the kitchen counter.

Stiles glares harder, and then his eyes glint with something that Derek doesn’t recognise, but he can feel the back of his neck get hot and red. Stiles throws the grocery bags at the counter – they miss and slide to the floor by Derek’s feet – and then does a slow turn in the middle of the doorway, arms held out.

Derek swallows, his arms falling to his sides.

Derek has spent many, many hours contemplating Stiles’ ass. Many more hours than he should, definitely more hours than is fucking healthy, and he suspects that if Stiles knew exactly how often Derek thinks about his ass, he’d be out of the apartment like the place was burning down around him.

But this, this is practically an invitation to look, so Derek does.

“Are you happy now, or do you wanna feel me up too?”

Yes please. Derek swallows, shakes his head and keeps his thoughts to himself. “I didn’t know shorts could be that colour. I didn’t know anything could be that colour.”

Stiles stares mournfully down at his legs and leans against the doorframe. “They’re Mexican Pink. Scott bought them for me, a year ago. He was extremely drunk, I might add, and he said something about me needing ‘a piece of him’ for when I left for college. Hence, the Mexican part of it.”

Derek furrows his brow at Stiles and says, “But you were going to the same college. You guys live together.”

Stiles grimaces. “Like I said, very drunk. Possibly very high, too.”

Derek rolls his eyes, bends down to pick up the fallen bags and then jerks his head at Stiles. “Come to the laundrette with me?”

The laundrette is pretty quiet and almost empty. There’s a girl in the corner, but nobody else is around. The girl smirks at them over the top of her magazine before burying her head in the latest celebrity gossip. Stiles scowls and adjusts his shorts, grumbling as he slings their bags full of clothes onto one of the plastic chairs. Derek tears his eyes away from Stiles’ ass and digs around in his pocket for change. It’s almost impossible, but he eventually yanks out a handful of coins and then watches mournfully as they spill across the floor.

Stiles snickers, flicks a dirty sock at him. “Smooth.”

“It’s these jeans,” Derek says irritably, bending down to pick up the coins. “Everything else needs washing, these are the only pair I’ve got left and they’re too tight.”

Stiles makes a vague noise of agreement, and when Derek glances behind him, Stiles’ eyes are fixed decidedly lower than necessary. Derek smirks and stands up slowly, and Stiles’ eyes snap back to his face, his cheeks a little redder than usual.

“See something you like?” Derek asks innocently, although he can’t hide his smirk for long.

Stiles narrows his eyes, grumbles something incoherent and then turns back to the washing machine, muttering under his breath.

It takes a while to get everything sorted, and once they do, they settle back onto the plastic chairs and watch the clothes go round and round. Derek breathes in the scent of detergent and copper and Stiles, feels something settle inside him. It’s warm and quiet and Stiles is beside him, his long, slender fingers fiddling with an iPod. After a moment, Stiles lets out a stream of swear words and throws his hands up in the air.

“What’s wrong?” Derek asks, as he pulls a book out of his bag.

“These fucking headphones,” Stiles snaps. “They were in my pocket for like twenty minutes, tops, and they look like they lost a fight with a fucking elastic band ball and a skipping rope, look.”

He waves the headphones in Derek’s face and Derek snatches them out of the air and untangles them in a matter of seconds.

He hands them back to Stiles, who accepts them with a dumbfounded look and then says, “Fuck off. You can’t be that perfect. Where exactly are you hiding all of these flaws? You know, the flaws that every single person on this earth are supposed to have? You’ve got to have one, at least, c’mon man.”

Derek rolls his eyes. He has flaws, and usually it’s Stiles that jokingly points them out, the little ones at least. Like Derek’s aversion to washing up and his obsession with shitty daytime TV. He has bigger flaws, too; he hasn’t been in a long-term relationship before, he’s only now getting his degree, and his mother’s told him countless times that he actually needs to communicate if he wants people to know how he’s feeling, for goodness sake, Derek, we’re not werewolves, we can’t tell what’s wrong with you with just one sniff. You have to open up.

Open up. Opening up seems like possibly the most terrifying thing on this planet, at the moment. If he opens up, then all of feelings are going to spill out all over the only person who actually enjoys Derek’s company, and Derek can’t let that happen. He can’t let Stiles know that he’s in love with him.

“Hale’s are all shining examples of humanity,” he says, instead of all that.

Stiles snorts, rolls his eyes and calls foul. Then he proceeds to furiously tangle his headphones up with the most intricate knots he can manage before presenting it to Derek and daring him to beat that.

Derek untangles the knot easily and throws the headphones at Stiles face.

 

*

 

The front door bangs open, and there’s the usual rush of noise as Scott hangs up his jacket, kicks off his shoes and then aims his bag at the couch, with Stiles hollering something about chicken soup in the background. Derek waves absently, mouth full of a homemade bread roll that he’d pilfered from Stiles’ baking tray a few minutes ago, which had resulted in pained noises of frustration from Stiles as he searched high and low for it, banging pots and pans around and swearing under his breath.

“I just talked to the landlord.”

A horrified silence descends over the apartment. There’s a loud clang from the kitchen as Stiles drops whatever utensil he was holding and then skids out into the hallway, and Derek carefully places his textbook down on the coffee table and slowly turns around on the couch. Scott stands in the doorway warily, glancing from Stiles to Derek with growing apprehension.

“Why?” Stiles demands, appalled. “Why would you do that, Scott? What have we ever done to hurt you?”

“The Banana Bread Incident,” Derek points out, shuddering, and they all take a moment to wince. Stiles shakes himself out of it with a grimace and then points his finger in Scott’s face.

“Besides that,” Stiles says firmly, waggling his finger. “Why would you suddenly decide to take us all out like that? Have I not cooked for you? Have I not cared enough? No soup for you, amigo. I’m gonna eat it in front of you.”

Scott pinches Stiles’ finger and carefully pushes it away from his face. “I talked to the landlord because I wanted to know if we could get a cat, not because you’re a shit flatmate.”

Stiles stares for a second. “Oh.”

Then, “Really?”

Scott nods, his face lighting up with excitement. Derek sort of hates him for having such an expressive, loveable face, and Stiles must agree because he takes one look at the way Scott’s grinning and sighs.

“I assume he said yes, since you’re literally bouncing up and down, buddy,” Stiles says. “Either that or those are some seriously well-disguised moonboots.”

Scott nods ecstatically. “He said he doesn’t actually allow pets, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. I think that means yes, anyway.”

“The old lady upstairs has a bearded dragon,” Derek offers, brandishing a bit of bread roll at the ceiling.

“The people across the hall have gerbils, too,” Scott says, and of course he’d know, he spent a good two weeks desperately trying to get invited over so that he could pet them. Stiles had hit the roof when he realised that Scott had used his precious, Stilinski-family-recipe lasagne to woo a couple of gerbils. Derek had hit the roof because Stiles had been giving him the silent treatment for three days over the missing lasagne. Derek doesn’t even like lasagne.

It didn’t matter, in the end, because Stiles had baked him a tray-full of chocolate muffins, and Scott hadn’t been allowed to eat any of them.

“Wait,” Scott says, frowning suddenly. “Why didn’t you want me to talk to the landlord?”

Stiles shares a slightly guilty look with Derek. “No reason, really. Just self-preservation.”

“He’s not that scary,” Scott says. “His beard is a little intimidating, but Derek’s got a beard too.”

Derek nods happily. He’s quite proud of his beard actually, and he runs a hand through the scruff as Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, but Derek’s beard is hot, not terrifying,” Stiles says blithely, and Derek chokes on his bread roll. Why does Stiles have to say stuff like that? Why can’t he let Derek live in peace, without fear of blushing so hard that one day he just self-combusts?

“It’s not his face we’re afraid of,” Derek says, when he’s got back the ability to breathe. “It’s his ability to throw us out when he sees what we’ve done to the apartment. We usually try to avoid him, considering there are about ten cracks in the kitchen tiles, courtesy of one Stiles Stilinski, a hole in your bedroom wall and a massive, irremovable stain under the couch.”

“Why do you think I’ve shoved you into the elevator so many times mid-conversation?” Stiles asks Scott exasperatedly. “Did you think I was just expanding my horizons when it came to quirky hobbies?”

“You used to collect ornaments, Stiles,” Scott points out. "Quirky hobbies are sort of your thing."

Figurines, McCall,” Stiles says, narrowing his eyes. “We both collected figurines. Just because my collection beat the fuck out of yours doesn’t excuse you from having an embarrassing childhood. S,o the next words out of your mouth better be an apology or I swear to every deity out there, I will pour my delicious soup in your bed and hide all of the clean sheets somewhere where you'll never find them.”

Scott perks up. “We have clean sheets? You guys fixed the washing machine?”

Stiles throws up his hands, storms towards the kitchen and then swivels around and points at Derek. “Don’t think I didn’t notice your little affair with my bread roll, either. Keep your paws off my food, both of you.” Then he stalks dramatically into the kitchen with his chin held high.

Derek arches an eyebrow. “He should have taken theatre.”

“He did,” Scott says fondly. “In high school. He gave up after the third broken nose.”

Derek looks at him, alarmed, and Scott shrugs. “Our school had an abnormally high stage, and he’s not exactly the most coordinated dude in the dude bouquet.”

 

*

 

The cat thing isn’t brought up again until the next week, when Derek opens the door to find a blonde, curly-haired guy standing in the corridor, long limbs arranged artfully and a scarf wrapped around his neck despite the sweltering heat. Derek is in a tank-top and shorts, and Stiles is on the floor of the living room with an ice lolly, having pushed the coffee table out of the way to give him more time to sprawl.

“Hey,” says the guy, a faint hint of British accent lingering in his drawl.

“Who are you?” Derek asks bluntly, and Stiles snorts.

“Don’t mind him, he gets grumpy when it’s hot and recedes back to his caveman ways.” Stiles pushes himself up on his elbows, orange lolly popping free from his lips with an obscene sound, and frowns. “Dude, it’s like living in Satan’s ass-crack out here, are you seriously wearing a scarf?”

The guy pauses for a second, arches an unimpressed eyebrow and says, “I appreciate the imagery.”

Stiles waves a hand, flops back down on the floor. “No problem man, I’m here all week. That one was free of charge, but you gotta pay for the next burst of creativity.”

The guy doesn’t bother answering that, just snorts like he’s not sure what he expected, and then kicks a large plastic bag at his feet towards Derek.

“What’s this?” Derek asks, bending down to pick up the bag. Stiles makes an appreciative noise behind him, and Derek would turn around but he’s busy trying not to blush.

“Cat stuff,” the guy says. “I’m Isaac, by the way. Scott asked if I could drop this stuff by whilst he gets Pumpkin ready, since I’m on my way to work and he’s nearly finished.”

Isaac turns around to leave, flaps one hand over his shoulder in farewell and then heads towards the elevator without looking back once. Derek blinks after him, shuts the door and turns to look at Stiles who’s frowning faintly.

“Pumpkin?”

 

*

 

Derek sighs, pinches his nose between his fingers. Pumpkin simply blinks at him, her tail flicking gently through the air, an expression that says I really don’t give a shit pasted across her furry face.

“There are six rooms in the house,” Derek tells her impatiently. “Seven, if you count the hallway. In total that’s over twenty surfaces put together, and I’m pretty sure at least one of them must be free, which means there’s at least one other place for you to sit that isn’t on top of my fucking laptop.”

Pumpkin lifts her paw and washes it calmly with her little pink tongue. Behind her, the screen lights up as his word document fills up with a hundred consecutive letters, and Derek wants to shove the cat in the corridor, but he knows as soon as he does that Scott will appear to stare at him in disappointment. Scott is a master of the I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed look. It drives Derek up the wall, which is apparently the only place he can safely sit and do his essay without a cat staring him down.

“Headache?” Stiles asks, poking his head around the kitchen door. He makes a sympathetic face when Derek nods and then cheerfully beckons him over. “C’mon, the kitchen is a cat-free zone today.”

“Not in Scott’s opinion,” Derek says, but he stands up nevertheless, shooting Pumpkin one last glare.

Pumpkin yawns, curls up on top of his laptop and shuts her eyes.

“If Scott wants to eat what I cook him, then the kitchen remains Pumpkin-free,” Stiles says. “And since Scott is the only person I know capable of burning fucking ramen noodles, I think I can get him to agree with me. Besides, cats in the kitchen is just fucking disgustingly unhygienic.”

Derek collapses on the stool, folds his arms on top of the island counter and rests his head there, watching whilst Stiles searches for Derek’s favourite mug and fiddles about with teabags. The scent of raspberry leaf is soothing as Stiles slides the mug across the counter – a big red mug with the words “I’m not grumpy, I’m just surrounded by people who are too happy,” written on the side.

He takes a sip, burns his tongue but doesn’t care. He can already feel the headache receding.

“Better?” Stiles asks, smirking. “You’re such a girl, man.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Derek says, taking another sip. “Most of my family would happily kick you in the balls for suggesting that women are inferior in any way.”

It's a joke, obviously, because Stiles is furiously passionate about destroying gender roles and breaking down stereotypes, but it's also true, still. His family is made up of badass, terrifying people.

Stiles snorts. “I’m aware, thanks. Your sister said she’s wear my testicles as earrings the last time I saw her. Which is just fucking wrong, man, but still. Creative. I can get behind that.”

Derek laughs into his tea. “Laura or Cora?”

Stiles winces. “Both, actually.”

Derek laughs again, and has the pleasure of watching Stiles’ face soften considerably. There’s a large part of him that’s pretty insistent that that’s because of him, that Derek made Stiles’ face go all soft and sweet and fond, but there’s still a tiny part of him that shakes its’ head emphatically and points out all the girls and guys that Stiles flirts with, in the coffee shop, in the street, in the hallway.

There’s nothing wrong with it, but it makes Derek’s chest ache.

The thing with Stiles is, he gives out little pieces of himself to everyone he meets. Bits of humour, shards of a smile, little casual touches; friendliness, openness. His good friends and his family have the biggest parts of him, his heart and his laugh – God, Derek loves the way he laughs, with everything he’s got, so unashamed, with his whole body. He gives out pieces of his heart.

Derek wishes he could do that. He wishes he could be open with more than one person, wishes he could make touches seem casual rather than meaningful, but the truth is the opposite. He’s only ever had eyes for Stiles, these past few years, and it’s obvious. It’s so, so obvious, but Stiles hasn’t said anything.

Which must mean he doesn’t want to say anything, right?

Still, when Stiles’ eyes light up like this, it makes Derek hope.

“What are you cooking?” Derek asks quietly. There’s sunlight streaming in through the big open windows above the counter, gauzy curtains flowing slightly in the breeze. Pot plants litter the windowsill, and there’s soft music pouring from the dodgy radio on top of the microwave.

Stiles turns to the oven and frowns at the bubbling pot. “Stew,” he says, frowning. “It’s not working, though. There’s more bread in the oven too, and I think I might try some baking afterwards.”

“Not banana bread, right?” Derek asks warily, and Stiles pulls a face.

“Never again,” he promises, and Derek grins over the rim of his mug.

“Cake, though,” Stiles says, after a short pause in which he stares at Derek. “Simple stuff is under-rated. Mum used to make the best Victoria sponge you’ve ever fucking tasted, although she made her own jam, too. I’ve tried preserving once, and it didn’t go too well. Like that time when I made my own wine when I was fourteen, only less explosive. Dad went nuts, and we couldn’t use the attic for like, another year, at least. Shame, that. It would have tasted fucking delicious, mark my words.”

“Consider them marked,” Derek says quietly, and he sits there as Stiles talks and talks, chatting about food and his latest essay and the time he and Scott tried to build a treehouse and ended up almost breaking their necks, and about the dickhead of a guy in Stiles’ class who licks his lips slowly on purpose every time Stiles looks at him, and about something else that Derek doesn’t hear because he’s too busy watching Stiles’ mouth as he tests the stew thoughtfully, mouth wrapping obscenely around the spoon.

Scott finds them still in the kitchen when he gets home from his shift at the Animal Shelter. There’s two Vitoria sponges on the side; one black and burned to a crisp, and one perfectly fluffy, carefully decorated masterpiece.

“Guess which one Derek made?” Stiles says, grinning, and Derek sighs into his hands.

God, he wants it to always be like this.

 

*

 

There’s a round of thumps and bangs from Scott’s room, and Derek chews on his chicken with a grimace that has nothing to do with the food.

Stiles, sat next to him, winces and reaches for the television remote. There’s some programme on about architecture, but neither of them are paying any attention to it, despite trying really fucking hard to pay attention to anything but Scott’s room. Stiles turns the volume up again, and it makes absolutely no fucking difference.

There’s a high-pitched giggle that belongs to Allison, and then a soft moan, and Stiles leaps up from his seat. His face is flushed red and Derek’s is no different.

“So,” Stiles says stridently, wincing as another thump reverberates through Scott’s bedroom wall, “What do you think of this show, then? Good buildings, huh?”

“Fantastic,” Derek agrees loudly, practically yelling to cover up the horrific noises. “Look at that crown moulding!”

“Personally,” Stiles shouts, over a very loud moan, “I’ve never seen a better demonstration of eighteenth century gothic influence on design!”

There’s another moan, and Stiles hisses hysterically, “Fuck it.”

Derek puts his practically-full plate of food down and shudders as another excited noise echoes through the wall. “We need to leave,” he says solemnly, and Stiles nods his head frantically.

“Excellent idea,” Stiles declares, vaulting over the coffee table to get to the front door, just as the sound of creaking bedsprings fills the room. They both shoot an apologetic look at Pumpkin, who was banished from Scott’s room only a few minutes earlier and looks extremely put-out.

There’s a mad scramble for shoes, and then they’re both rushing out of the apartment and down the stairs until they reach the car park. The cool air is pleasant against Derek’s embarrassed face, and he lets out an explosive sigh.

“That might be the most awkward experience of my life,” he says, even though it’s not true.

He catches Stiles’ eye. Stiles’ mouth twitches.

They both burst into laughter, snickering in the doorway and leaning against each other helplessly.

Crown moulding,” Stiles hisses, between breaths, and Derek hiccups, straightening.

“I don’t think you had the right era when it came to gothic influence,” Derek tells him solemnly, and Stiles’ shoulders start shaking again.

Eventually, they come to the realisation that Derek’s keys are back in the apartment, and there’s no way in hell that they’re risking going back.

“We’ll have to go somewhere within walking distance,” Stiles decides. He loops a finger through Derek’s belt loop and tugs him away from the car park, out onto the street. The sky is a wash of red and orange, tinged with pink as the sun begins to set. It’s pretty, Derek thinks, but not as pretty as the boy in front of him.

They end up outside of a bowling alley, Stiles waggling his eyebrows whilst Derek sighs and fishes his wallet out of his pocket.

“Your feet are tiny,” Stiles says delightedly, as Derek mumbles his shoe size over the counter. “You’ve got dainty little toes, oh my god. I don’t know what you were talking about Derek, ballet is totally a valid option for you. Pursue your dreams, my man.”

He says it all loudly, just as the girl behind the till passes them both their shoes. Derek takes his with a flat look, determined not to let his mortification show, and Stiles cackles when Derek ducks down to put his shoes on and shoves him over.

“I’ll get you back for that,” Derek warns him, and Stiles races towards their bowling alley with a gleeful look.

“Prove it, big guy,” Stiles says, clapping his hands together and smirking. He gestures towards the variety of bowling balls, and Derek picks one up, rolling his eyes.

“Just aim for the middle, Der, you can do it,” Stiles calls, giving him a mocking thumbs up. “You can use the little ramp if you want. I promise, I won’t think you’re less of a man. We all need a bit of help sometimes.”

Derek calmly takes a step forward, takes his aim and smoothly rolls the bowling ball down the lane. It knocks every single pin down. He smirks, turns to look at Stiles’ dumbstruck expression and arches an eyebrow.

“Your turn.”

“Fuck,” Stiles sighs. “I’m going to need a lot of beer.”

 

*

 

A lot of beer turns out to be roughly seven bottles, and then a few large gulps of Derek’s fourth bottle, plus something fruity and pink that he’d ordered on a whim and then downed immediately. The night progresses from Derek beating Stiles at bowling three times, to Derek beating Stiles at air hockey five times, and then to a drunken, stumbling piggy-back ride back to the apartment.

“Go through the paaark,” Stiles insists, tugging on Derek’s hair like it will force him to change direction. Derek isn’t quite as drunk as Stiles, but he’s still pretty far gone, so he staggers in the direction of the park gate. He’s got the little pink umbrella from Stiles’ cocktail tucked behind his ear, and he’s pretty sure he left his jacket behind in the attached bar.

“Did I pick up m’ wallet?” Derek asks, frowning as he reaches the park. He knows he paid for the drinks, but he can’t remember if he picked it up or not. He hopes so, because walking back in the dark with Stiles attached to him like a koala isn’t exactly appealing. Well, the last bit is, but not the fir-

Stiles!”

Stiles hiccups, laughing happily as he squeezes Derek’s ass. “’M checking for you’re walle’, man. Don’t be weird.”

“Wallets go in pockets,” Derek says, swerving into the park gate. “Not asses. That would not be comfor’ble.”

Stiles slides off of his back with an oomph and lands shakily on the sidewalk. Derek hauls Stiles’ hand out of the back of his jeans and turns around to face him. Stiles grins at him dopily, tangles their hands together and starts to pull Derek through the park.

Derek grins down at their joined hands. He feels lighter than ever, and his head is full of cotton wool, or something equally soft. Stiles. Stiles is soft. Stiles has soft skin and soft eyes and soft hair. Derek reaches up, sighs happily as he pats Stiles’ hair, and Stiles tips his head upside down like a dog just to catch a glimpse of Derek.

“Let’s feed the ducks!” Stiles shouts happily, and Derek shakes his head sadly.

“We don’t have bread,” he says mournfully, and Stiles looks visibly distraught for a second. His eyes spin over the shadowy park, taking in the grassy banks and the little cluster of trees, and then his face lights up as he spots something in the far corner. He starts to drag Derek towards the opposite end of the park, occasionally patting his own shoulder and instigating conversations with the trees.

“Where r’we going?” Derek mumbles out of the corner of his mouth. It takes a while to get there, what will all the almost-tripping and stumbling, but when they do, Derek comes to a stop with wide eyes.

It’s a kissing gate.

It’s a large arched gateway, painted a dark green. Flowers are wound around the metal, and there are several sprigs of fake mistletoe tied to the top. A metal bell hands down from the top, and Stiles reaches up and pushes it gently. The chimes echo around the park, disturbing the silence.

“Pretty,” Stiles says, hiccupping. “Like youuu.”

Derek snorts, pushes Stiles under the gate. He forgets that they’re holding hands though, and ends up ducking under the archway with him.

“You say that ‘bout everyone,” Derek says, and he can’t help it if he sounds a little sad.

Stiles looks at him firmly, and he doesn’t seem half as drunk as he did a second ago. Derek’s heart flips over in his chest.

“I do,” Stiles admits, slurring a little. “But I only man it to you. Mean it. I mean it to you.”

Stiles huffs a sigh of frustration as his words get tangled together, and then his eyes light up, and he gets a hand on Derek’s collar and hauls him in.

It’s possibly the best kiss Derek’s ever had in his entire life, although that might have something to do with the beer. He can taste alcohol on Stiles’ tongue, bitter but delicious because it’s Stiles. His lips are so soft, like petals or something. Clouds, Derek’s drunken mind supplies. Clouds are soft, and so is Stiles’ mouth. He kisses him harder, chasing the taste and feel, and Stiles moans beneath him.

Derek blinks down at amber eyes, surprised to find that he’s pushed Stiles up against the kissing gate, holding him there with his body. Stiles is a long, languid line of heat against him, and it makes Derek a little crazy. He pushes a thigh firmly between Stiles’ legs, presses them chest to chest and leans down to swallow up Stiles’ little gasp.

 

*

 

Derek wakes up alone.

Sunlight streams in through the window, the curtains left open. Derek winces, presses a hand to his temple where the pain is worse. He sits up reluctantly, sheets pooling around him, and groans as the room spins around him.

Hangovers, he thinks grimly, are unkind.

“How much did I drink last night?” Derek asks himself, and then he freezes. His throat closes up, his teeth crashing together as he slams his mouth shut. He feels sick, and it’s not from the hangover. He glances tentatively around the empty room, and his heart drops painfully to his feet.

Stiles isn’t there.

Derek remembers bowling, the usual flirting. He remembers the piggy-back ride through the streets, remembers staggering into the park together, whispering and giggling like four-year-olds. The kissing gate, he remembers that. And the kiss.

Lots of kisses, hot and sweet and excited. He remembers pressing Stiles against the rough brick of each building as they stumbled home, unable to keep their hands off each other, desperate not to move away. They had sprinted up the stairs and fallen easily into Derek’s bed, devouring each other with hands and mouths and whispered words, little noises and gasps filling up the quiet.

He remembers skin on skin, the feel of Stiles’ hair between his grasping fingers.

Derek clambers out of bed and stands there, naked. There’s no evidence that Stiles was ever in his room; the sheets are mussed and there are clothes on the floor, but those are all down to Derek. Stiles, he realises, must have gotten dressed hastily in the early hours of the morning, must have sprinted from the room once he realised who he woke up next to.

“He could still be here,” Derek tells himself, although he doesn’t feel hopeful at all. He pulls on sweatpants, adds a jumper in an attempt to stave off that vulnerable feeling that creeps into his chest the longer he's alone. He pads out to the kitchen, intent on finding something that might take away his headache, and stares hopefully around the flat.

Stiles isn’t there.

“Fuck,” Derek says quietly, his heart sinking.

“Derek?”

Derek whips around, but it’s Scott that’s standing in the doorway, a curious expression on his face as he takes in Derek’s lost look.

“Stiles went out this morning,” Scott offers, voice plain. Derek feels his face twist and hastily rearranges his expression. It’s fine, he expected this.

“Oh,” Derek says lamely. “Thanks.”

“Did…” Scott says hesitantly. “Did something happen? I thought I heard you two come back late.”

“No,” Derek says. “No, nothing happened. I thought – but, it, uh, it doesn’t matter. Just a misunderstanding, that’s all.”

Scott arches an eyebrow disbelievingly, but thankfully doesn’t say anything. “Alright,” he says agreeably. “You look like shit though. Sit down, I’ll make you tea before I go. Headache?”

“I can make it,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. “I’m not a child, I think I can handle a kettle.”

It’s fine, everything’s fine. Stiles just left to think, that’s all. It was just a stupid mistake, something their friendship can survive easily, as long as Derek isn’t weird about it. A stupid, drunken mistake.

“Sure you can,” Scott says, shrugging. “I’m doing it anyway, though. Go and sit down.”

He gestures to the counter, and Derek sighs harshly and then sits. Scott doesn’t get mad, not really, which is why Derek doesn’t bother snapping or saying something he’ll regret. Scott gets quiet and upset and doesn’t deal with it, and Derek doesn’t want to ruin another friendship just because he’s in a mood.

Pumpkin jumps gracefully up onto the counter and butts Derek’s chin with her head. Derek strokes her silky orange fur, scratches behind her ears and smiles faintly as she starts to purr; it’s soothing.

“I guarantee, whatever happened between you two,” Scott says lightly, as he pours hot water into Derek’s mug. “It probably isn’t half as bad as you’re imagining. You guys are close as close can be, and nothing’s going to break that apart, okay?”

Derek nods glumly, accepts his tea with a half-hearted smile.

Scott taps his hand, holds Derek’s gaze. “Give him a chance, okay? He’s stupid about this stuff, but he always comes around after a while, and then he’ll feel like shit for a bit, apologise, and everything will be fine. Maybe more than fine.”

He winks, strokes Pumpkin, and then slips out of the kitchen with a thermos full of coffee. Derek stares after him, a bit stunned. Still, it’s not really a surprise that Scott knows something’s up – Derek’s never exactly been subtle about his affections, and they probably weren’t quiet last night.

Derek winces at the thought – the whole reason why they had left had been because Scott and Allison had been noisy fuckers, quite literally. He shakes any unwanted images from his head and gulps down his tea. It doesn’t taste as good as when Stiles makes it, but whatever. It’s the thought that counts.

Besides, it's not like Stiles is here to make it himself.

 

*

 

Derek is curled up on the couch, raspberry leaf tea in hand and a blanket tugged around his shoulder. It’s warm and there’s rain pattering gently on the windows, and the apartment is empty – Scott slunk back in and then out again an hour ago, and Stiles is still, well. Not around.

Derek’s cycled through several ranges of emotion in the course of the day. At first he was dismayed, spent a good half an hour avoiding his room and nursing a cold cup of tea. Then he got pissed, stormed into his room and stripped off the bed, throwing everything into the laundry basket. He cleaned furiously, fashioned several angry messages to Stiles that he didn’t actually send, and then settled in front of the television.

Which was about when the melancholy set in.

Derek flicks miserably through the television and lands on an old episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. He mutes the TV, takes a sip of his tea and glumly settles in for another pathetic evening.

The door flies open and crashes into the wall, leaving another dent in the white plaster.

Derek jerks, tea splashing over his wrist, and struggles to sit upright as Stiles comes barging in through the door, slamming it shut behind him. In the apartment below them, someone thumps against the ceiling, and Derek frowns at the carpet before glancing up at Stiles.

His hair is flat and wet, his skin is damp and pale and there are dark circles under his eyes. His shirt is buttoned up wrong and his shoelaces are untied, like he rolled through a wardrobe on his way here and just hoped for the best. There’s a wild look in his eyes and he’s still, undoubtedly, the most beautiful person that Derek’s ever seen. Any lingering anger drains out of Derek's body.

“Stiles,” Derek utters, but Stiles thrusts a finger in Derek’s face.

“No talking. You,” Stiles says, spitting the word out and flailing his other arm. “You know what you are, Derek Hale? You are the most goddamn finicky person I have ever had the fucking pleasure of meeting. You are a giant, attractive contradiction. You’re a fucking enigma with abs, okay?”

Derek freezes, still under his blanket and clutching his tea. He stares at Stiles in confusion as the other boy rants and raves.

“You eat your fucking peas one at a time!” Stiles yells. “One at a time! Who does that? And you’re generally a mess of a person, a fucking disaster of a human being that doesn’t know how to polish surfaces, right, but if I go into your room all I’m going to see is like, a made-up bed and a clean carpet and your stupid fucking plant that you’re so proud of. My carpet hasn’t been vacuumed in years, okay?”

Derek tries to talk, but Stiles steamrolls over him aggressively.

“You eat things with plastic spoons to avoid washing the dishes. You eat cereal with marshmallows in. Little tiny pink and green marshmallows. Your books are arranged by the Dewy Decimal System and you can read fucking Latin, man, don’t even try to deny it. You send your sister virtual hugs and you get this look on your face when you see a dog like you just want to run across the street and steal it, which I would not recommend, by the way.”

Stiles pauses to take deep lungful’s of air and Derek seizes his chance. “What the hell is going on? Where have you been? I woke up this morning and you weren’t …” He falters, sets his jaw. “You weren’t here. Look, I get it, you regret what we did, but you could have at least had the decency to say it to my face in the morning.”

Stiles stares at him.

Derek clears his throat. “I’m not mad. I mean, I was mad, I was pissed, but I’m not anymore. I was sort of waiting for this to happen. I won’t hold it against you. I didn’t expect you to want this when you were sober, and I should have had more control last night, I know. Still, you could have fucking stayed.”

Stiles is still staring at him blankly, like Derek just announced that he planned to run away and elope with a fucking pineapple, and Derek starts to fidget uncertainly. He opens his mouth to reiterate his reassurance, because despite how much he loves and wants Stiles, he doesn’t actually expect anything from him, and Stiles needs to know that he’s not angry, not anymore.

Stiles slaps a hand over Derek’s mouth.

“Stop talking,” Stiles says seriously. “I mean it, Derek. You say things like that and it makes me want to simultaneously hug the shit out of you and punch you in the throat, because seriously? How can you be this oblivious? Don’t answer that, no talking, remember?”

Derek looks at him flatly, Stiles’ hand still covering Derek’s mouth.

Stiles concedes with a jerky movement, and then he’s further away, hands tugging at his hair as he paces the room. Derek watches him, mouth half-open in confusion.

“I shouldn’t have left,” Stiles says abruptly. “I woke up with a hangover and I felt like shit, but I also felt good, you know? And I didn’t know why until I looked over and say you there, and then everything came back to me, and God, I feel so stupid. I panicked, okay? Because it was good. All of it was so good and I’ve been waiting so long for it to happen. You were lying there all relaxed and hot and peaceful and shit, I wanted to kiss you but I didn’t think you’d still want to kiss me when we weren’t drunk, so I just panicked and left.”

“Where did you go?” Derek asks quietly. There’s this familiar feeling in his chest – hope, that’s what it is, and this time Derek doesn’t push it down, doesn’t crush it. Is it possible? Is it possible that Stiles wants what Derek wants?

“Lydia’s,” Stiles says, pausing in the middle of the living room. He’s banged his knee on the coffee table a couple of times during his pacing, and the rainwater dripping off him makes him look like a bedraggled, pathetic cat. “She basically force-fed me aspirin and water and then sent me on my merry way with a swift kick to the ass.”

“I’m glad she did,” Derek says lightly, and Stiles looks at him sharply.

“Any more interesting anecdotes you want to spill, or backhanded compliments for me?” Derek asks, smiling a little wryly. “I particularly enjoyed the one about the peas. I didn’t know my eating habits annoyed you so much, or I would have eaten peas more often.”

“You drink raspberry leaf tea,” Stiles hisses, flapping a hand at Derek in general. “You panic-moonwalk.”

Derek narrows his eyes, opens his mouth to deny that last fact, when Stiles blurts out, “I want to kiss you.”

Derek exhales sharply, surprised. His mouth hangs open, and he stares at Stiles, watches the colour drain from his pretty face the longer that Derek stays silent. He feels like his whole body has seized up, because everything he’s ever wanted is right there, right in front of him – a dream. That’s what this has to be, a dream.

“I want to kiss you every day,” Stiles says firmly, even though he looks pale and shaky, like he regrets ever opening his mouth in the first place, and Derek gets it, okay? He gets the look in Stiles’ eyes. It’s the same feelings of doubt and fear that linger in his chest every time he so much as thinks about pushing this friendship into something more, because yes, a relationship where he got to hold Stiles and kiss him and wake up next to him would be astronomically brilliant, no doubt about it, but what if he pushes and he loses everything they already have?

They had sex, and Stiles left in the morning, and they had almost lost all of the good stuff.

“Like, big sloppy, ridiculously sappy kisses in the morning, after I’ve woken up in your bed,” Stiles continues, his voice resigned. “Which is disgusting, by the way, I would like for the record to show that I am truly disgusted by my own emotions. God, is this what Scott feels like all the time? Poor bastard.”

“You want to kiss me,” Derek says uncertainly, still stuck on that. It has to be a dream.

Stiles falters for a moment, and then nods. “Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Derek, I want to kiss you. Did you not get that from my whole dramatic, romantic speech earlier? Was I not clear enough? I want to kiss you! And other stuff too, if you’re into that, or just hug you or something. Kissing, yeah.”

Derek reaches out and pokes Stiles in the thigh.

Stiles flails uncertainly, gesturing at Derek with a concerned look in his eye. “Did I break you? Derek?”

“I was just checking,” Derek breathes, and then he carefully places his tea down on the coffee table, wipes his hand on the arm of the couch and then reaches out to hook his fingers through Stiles’ belt loops.

Stiles’ eyes go wide with disbelief. “Derek?”

“You said you wanted to kiss me,” Derek says lowly, soft. “So kiss me.”

Stiles’ breath hitches, and he makes one last helpless gesture before collapsing onto Derek’s lap. Their noses bump for a moment, and Stiles’ knee collides with Derek’s ribs, and then he’s shifting awkwardly, strong legs wrapping around Derek’s waist, ankles locking behind Derek’s back.

Stiles brings a hand up to cup Derek’s chin, running his fingers along the stubble there a little shakily. Derek waits, quietly, as Stiles drinks his fill of him, and then he hooks a finger under Stiles’ chin and kisses him first, lips chapped and firm. Stiles drags his mouth up and over Derek’s top lip, sucks on it like it’s something sweet and he’s craving sugar. Derek groans a little bit, gets a hand in Stiles’ hair, but before he can deepen the kiss, Stiles yanks his head back and stares at him, wide-eyed and panting.

“You’re not just fucking with me, are you?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “I don’t have a dramatic, vaguely-insulting speech to give, but I do know one thing, Stiles Stilinski. Two things, actually.”

Stiles arches an eyebrow. “Yeah? What’s that then?”

“Well, I love you.”

Stiles sucks in a breath, stares at Derek. Derek feels warm, feels right – he never, ever thought he’d get to say it, and now he ,em>has goddamn it, and it feels good, even through all the fear. Stiles’ face does that soft, warm thing, and Derek knows it’s for him, this time, knows it for sure.

“What’s the second thing?” Stiles whispers, ghosting his lips against Derek’s.

Derek kisses him lightly, until Stiles’ eyes flutter closed. Then he leans forward, kissing along Stiles’ cheek until his mouth is pressed against the shell of Stiles’ ear.

“You definitely can’t be trusted with banana bread.”

“Oh, you dick! Way to ruin the fucking mood, you assho – mmph. Mmm.”

The mood is far from ruined, and the next morning, when Derek opens his eyes, Stiles is still there.