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nine voices out of ten

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“I can’t actually believe it’s so busy tonight,” Scott admits, letting his eyes wander around the wide room and the dancing people. He turns back to the bar to order his drink.

Stiles takes in the moving crowd in for a second before he says, “It’s Valentine’s, dude. Desperate singles out to find someone to share their love with.”

Scott raises his eyebrows at him. “So we’re desperate, needy singles now, looking to get laid?”

Stiles considers it for a moment, lets his eyes wander around again and shrugs. “You’re a desperate, needy single looking to get laid but that’s not what we’re here for, dude, it’s bro night. You know, you and me bonding over—” Stiles picks up a heart cut out of red paper that’s lying around on the counter of the bar; there are dozens of them all over the place—“paper hearts. Be my Valentine?”

He holds out the heart to Scott. Scott makes his happy puppy face, all with the eyes and the dimples and the crooked smile, and Stiles knows if the guy wasn’t practically his brother he’d be already humping him—public place and all. Stiles grins when Scott takes the heart and gets a safety pin out of his wallet, sticking the cut-out to his shirt. He gives Stiles a heart in return, lending him another safety pin—seriously, what is with the safety pins and why is he carrying them around?—and Stiles pins it to his sweater.

They get their drinks from the barkeeper, clink glasses and chug the booze down in one sweep.

“I am not in need of getting laid,” Scott informs him then, shaking his head. Stiles has been counting the minutes until Scott protested. “Allison and I—”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Allison and you are on break. Again. That’s like the third time in two years. Have you considered that maybe you guys don’t work out as perfectly as you love to think?”

Scott looks deeply affronted. “I resent that,” he huffs and waves for the barkeeper. “Plus, you’re one to talk. You’ve been pining after Derek for years, and before that after Lydia.”

Stiles opens his mouth but Scott doesn’t let him speak. “Have you considered that maybe you should actually do something about your schoolgirl crush?” He throws Stiles’ words right back at him. “Or maybe, you know, move on?”

Stiles stares at him, flabbergasted, and splutters. Scott smirks smugly at him.

“Give me that heart back,” Stiles wails and tries to grab the paper heart stuck to Scott’s chest but Scott dodges his hands and smacks them away. “I am not pining. Derek just happens to be a super-hot, super cranky dude with epically expressive eyebrows and cheekbones and a jawline that would make Michelangelo weep. I’m just admiring what’s on display.”

“And you’re telling me I’m waxing poetic about Allison,” Scott says, rolling his eyes in a way that would even give Peter a run for his money. Seriously, when Scott bitchfaces, he goes full force. There’s no in-between.

“That’s because you are,” Stiles retorts. “In the cheesiest ways possible.”

Scott’s face goes soft suddenly, he gets wide-eyed. “Derek has cheekbones and a jawline that would make Michelangelo weep,” he croons dramatically, like the five-year-old he is, and fans air at his face with one of his hands. Stiles shoves at Scott’s stool with his foot with as much force as he can gather. Scott is shamelessly cackling and it turns into a full-blown laughing fit during which he has to repeat his order to the barkeeper three times until the guy gets it, and Stiles glowers viciously.

“Your impression of me is fatally flawed,” Stiles informs him, kicking at Scott’s stool again.

“Yeah, I forgot the trail of drool out of the corner of your mouth,” Scott says, making himself laugh harder again, and Stiles is seriously considering revoking Scott’s status as best buddy. He doesn’t even have anything to get back at Scott since he stopped taking offence at being called out on going on and on about Allison.

Stiles settles on a solid, “Shut your face,” and Scott laughs so hard he’s not even making noises anymore.

Eventually, Scott calms down enough to drink again. They turn on their seats to face the dance floor and start making up stories for different people, sort out the desperate singles, the depressed ones, the overly enthusiastic and the ones who overdo the flirting.

Stiles is slightly buzzed when his phone starts vibrating. He fishes it out of his pocket to see that the Frost Queen is calling.

“Oooooh, my favourite queen, to what do I owe the pleasure?” he greets her, and Lydia snorts. He can picture her flicking a strand of her hair over her shoulder.

“Please,” she says. “I’m your One and Only.”

“You would be but you don’t let me.”

Lydia snorts. “That sounds like a line from a stupid boyband song.”

“You would know,” Stiles says. He can hear her scoffing at that. “What’s up?”

“Grab Scott and get your asses over to my house. We’re celebrating the glory that is singleness.”

“‘We’?” Stiles asks, glancing at Scott who’s downing a bottle of beer like it’s water.

“Allison excluded. She’s out with her college friends,” Lydia elaborates shortly. “I can’t get my hands on Derek, though, and no, I don’t mean it literally.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Scott snorts beside him, having chugged down the alcohol and looking pleased with himself. Stiles shoots him a dirty look.

“You’re so pathetic I don’t even know why I’m still talking to you.”

“Let’s be real, you love me.”

“Oops, you think I’m in love.”

“Stop quoting Britney Spears lyrics, Lydia,” Stiles sighs and rubs a hand over his face to Lydia laughing at him.

“Be here in ten,” she commands and hangs up before Stiles can even start to protest. He stares at his phone for a second, then stuffs it into the pocket of his pants and turns to Scott. Stiles doesn’t even have to say what’s going on as Scott has been shamelessly eavesdropping. He just nods and they get up, get their jackets and leave the club to make their way to Lydia’s.

It’s cold and dark and there are couples everywhere Stiles looks. He gags a little and Scott grins amusedly.

“Why exactly are we following Lydia’s orders?” Scott asks and jumps light-footedly over a puddle. They exchange a look, and then Scott snorts and mutters, “Why do I even ask.”

“Wait!” Stiles cries when they pass a store, and he swiftly walks inside, looking for flowers. There are some leftover roses that look just fine, and he picks up two single red roses, one for Lydia and one for Erica. He grins to himself when he thinks about how they’ll look at him when he presents them with the flowers. Scott rolls his eyes at him.

Stiles rounds the isle and runs straight into a brick wall. Or rather, the brick wall that is Derek Hale. That should be his tagline: Derek ‘The Brick Wall’ Hale. Definitely. Stiles might have said that out loud, because Derek is staring at him funnily.

“Are you drunk?” Derek asks, narrowing his eyes a little.

Stiles measures the level of drunkenness between his thumb and index finger and admits, “Only a little.”

Derek does this thing again where he purses his lips ever so slightly and sighs dramatically, tipping his chin a little, looking annoyed all around. He has a shopping basket in one hand that is filled with all kinds of things, with—bananas. Stiles instantly gets the image of Derek eating a banana, and it does terrible, terrible things to him, on top of frying his brain crispy.

“You eat bananas?” he asks before he can think better of it and hears Scott groan behind him. Derek’s eyebrows lift and position themselves in a judgy way.

“Do you?” Derek counters sarcastically. Stiles tips his head. He’s not a horny fifteen-year-old at heart, he is not.

“Occasionally,” he answers, grinning, and Derek’s face flickers for a moment there before he quickly schools into his favourite face, the Stiles Is Annoying Me, Again that is. “So, you’re out shopping on Valentine’s?”

“No, I’m handing out condoms to rabid couples.”

“Whoa, do you have so many spare condoms lying around your loft that you can walk around throwing them at people?”

Derek shrugs nonchalantly. “All sorts, colours, tastes and sizes. Some glow in the dark,” he says, deadpan.

Scott makes a gagging sound, and Stiles can’t do anything but stare speechlessly at Derek.

“Don’t you have better use for them?” Stiles asks eventually, because well, he has some ideas how to put those condoms to a really fucking good use. Quite literally.

Derek grins shark-like. “Who says I don’t?”

Stiles gapes at him, dumbfounded, and there’s nothing he can counter with; his brain refuses to provide anything useful and instead supplies a stream of shirtless Derek images from his memory. Not helpful. At all.

“I’ll wait outside,” Scott announces and stalks out of the store. Stiles huffs out a breath and follows Derek to the cash register.

Derek gestures to the paper heart on Stiles’ sweater. “What’s that about?” he asks.

Stiles pats the heart gently. “Scott gave it to me. He’s my Valentine.”

Derek arches an eyebrow. Again with the judgy expression to it.

“Well, platonically, of course, you know, my buddy—my Brolentine.”

“Moments like that tend to cement my assumption that you’re insane.”

“I am offended. Nine voices out of ten in my head say I’m not crazy.”

“And the tenth?”

“Hums the Star Wars theme.”

“Naturally.”

“So,” Stiles says while Derek pays for his stuff. “What are you up to?”

“Gorging myself into a food coma,” Derek answers. The cashier sends him an amused look.

“Valentine’s Day makes you particularly hilarious,” Stiles comments sarcastically, making Derek shooting him a wry grin. “You’re such a delight.”

“Some say humour is attractive,” Derek drawls, moving aside when it’s Stiles’ turn to pay for the roses.

Stiles snorts. “Does this mean you’re fugly? Sarcasm does that to you.”

“You and me both, Stiles.”

Stiles grabs the roses and stalks out of the store with Derek in tow. “You’re just grumpy that no one gave you a paper heart for Valentine’s Day.”

“Because a paper heart is of so much value,” Derek snipes, getting the car keys out of the pocket of his jacket. “If you excuse me now…”

“Do you want to come?” Stiles asks on a whim, because Derek doesn’t seem to have plans and Lydia implied that she had tried to call and invite Derek too. “Lydia invited us over to her place, to, you know, ‘celebrate the glory that is singleness’.”

“I really rather not,” Derek answers after a short pause. Stiles tries not to show his disappointment. Having Derek around for group activities is always fun, and since they’re all up to making fun of couples tonight, it would have been even better. Of course, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Stiles just likes to be around Derek.

“Fine,” Stiles says, trying really hard to sound nonchalant. He holds out one of the roses to Derek. “Happy Valentine’s.”

Derek honest to god gapes at him with such bewilderment it’s actually overwhelmingly hilarious. Stiles rolls his eyes.

“It’s just a rose, Derek,” he says, wriggling the flower a little. Derek carefully takes the rose, twirling it between his fingers and stares at it in wonder before his eyes snap back to Stiles. He opens his mouth to say something, and that’s when Scott jogs up to them, from god knows where he’s been. Stiles can see how Derek closes off and turns.

“Have fun,” he tells them over his shoulder, walking off to his car, and Stiles is dying to know what Derek wanted to say. He smacks himself mentally for getting his hopes up, because really, Derek probably just wanted to mock him.

“Dude,” Scott says while watching the Camaro leaving the parking lot. “Did you just give Derek a rose?”

It takes a few seconds to sink in but when it does, Stiles gets the urge to run after the car and demand the rose back.

“Oh my god, I gave Derek a rose!” he shrieks, and oh god, that did not just happen. He didn’t even think about it, he just handed over the flower on a whim—“A red rose. On Valentine’s Day!”

“Yeah, you’re supposed to do things like that on Valentine’s Day, you know,” Scott informs him, shrugging like it’s no big deal.

“Yes, to your beloved!” Stiles wails and throws his hands up.

Scott smirks, the jackass. “Close enough,” he comments, and, “Now at least you made your intentions clear, he can have a minor freak out holed up in his loft, and then you can make out.”

Stiles is one second from choking Scott with his leftover rose. “I did not make any intentions clear,” he insists—because no, he didn’t, it wasn’t meant like that, and since when is Scott so appreciative about Derek?

Scott seems to get smugger by the minute and Stiles continue to have a fit on their way to Lydia’s. This night can’t get any worse. Stiles decides to get drunk off his ass tonight to wash the shame away and hope Derek won’t choose to rip him to ribbons. That sounds like a damn good plan, yes.

“It took you long enough,” Lydia says when she opens the door. “I said ten minutes.”

She leads the way to the living room, where Isaac, Erica, Boyd and Jackson are milling around. Stiles is only half surprised that Jackson’s here. He and Lydia have the weirdest relationship. They can’t with each other but they certainly can’t without each other either. Right now, they’re on friendship grounds again but really, it’s just a matter of time until they get back together again. Stiles doesn’t know how they manage this, having this weird thing going on all the time. He figures it works for both of them, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Stiles holds out the remaining rose to her, and she looks surprised for a split second before she takes it.

“I thought we established long ago that you’re not in love with me,” she says, flicking a strand of hair back but she smiles anyway.

“It’s a Bro-rose,” he explains. “To express my fondness of you and my happiness to have you as a bro.”

Lydia huffs with a roll of her eyes. Erica perks up all the while Stiles pointedly ignores the glowering looks Jackson shoots him.

“Where’s my Bro-rose, Stilinski?” Erica inquires, narrowing her eyes dangerously, and Stiles can only do so much not to run away screaming.

And while Stiles is busy coming up with an excuse, Scott answers, “He gave it to Derek.”

Stunned silence settles for a moment, and Stiles knows it’s hopeless, even as he insists, “Yes, I gave Derek a Bro-rose.”

They all snort in unison, and—no. Just. No.

“You can have the heart, though,” Stiles offers in lieu of a rose, and in order to distract from the train wreck that is his life. Also, he should definitely get new friends. He’s never heard them snort in sync before. It’s terrifying, to be honest, fucking terrifying.

“Hey,” Scott protests. “That’s my heart! You can’t go around handing it to other people.”

And with that, the topic of Stiles handing a rose to Derek is forgotten. They settle to watch Valentine’s Day and set rules for a drinking game before they start the movie. Lydia declares that she and Stiles only take a shot every third time something cheesy happens, because otherwise it would be unfair, and then she disappears into the kitchen to get snacks.

Jackson is about to hit the play button when Lydia comes back into the living room—and Derek is trailing her, balancing several bowls with chips, M&Ms and other stuff. He looks mildly irritated and scowls reluctantly, seeming like he doesn’t quite understand why he’s here.

“Oh, the Mighty One decided to join the ordinary mortals,” Erica chimes up, smirking enthusiastically, and Derek shoots her a dirty look. She narrows her eyes at him in return. “I’ll have you know that you stole my Bro-rose.”

Derek freezes mid-movement, and the room falls quiet again, during which Stiles wants to be swallowed up by the ground.

“It’s not a Bro-rose,” Boyd remarks calmly, taking a swig from his beer, and Isaac chuckles.

“It’s a—”

“Alright, we were just about to start the movie,” Stiles interrupts, clearing his throat, and smacks a shot glass in front of Derek when he sits, pouring vodka into it. “Take a shot every time something disgustingly sappy happens.”

“What are we watching?” Derek asks, and when Stiles looks up from pouring the drink, Derek is glancing straight at him. Stiles possibly forgets to breathe for a moment. He may or may not choke a little on his own spit.

“Uh. Valentine’s Day,” he answers, and sees everyone rolls their eyes in his periphery. Seriously, what is it with the sync actions today?

Derek just nods. He’s sitting on the floor in front of the couch with his legs stretched out in front of him, and every other nice place is already taken, and Stiles realizes, begrudgingly, that they all conspired against him, these fuckers. So he just slumps down and takes seat next to Derek and crosses his legs so that his knee brushes against Derek’s thigh. Derek’s body heat seeps through his pants and into his skin, and he absolutely doesn’t shiver at that.

Admittedly, Stiles is surprised that Derek plays along with the drinking game and chugs down one shot after another without complaint. He even willingly holds out his glass to get it refilled.

They never shut up during the whole movie and rather have their own live commentary for it, and even Derek supplies some dry remarks. Stiles laughs so hard his stomach starts aching, and they all miss at least three shots while laughing tears about Derek’s comments. When he thinks back to when he first met Derek he would’ve never guessed that Derek’s actually a pretty fun guy to be around, and Stiles doesn’t think that because he’s got a thing for him. It’s generally easy to interact with Derek, it’s easy to banter with him or conspire in sarcasm and dry wit against the rest of their group, making them all roll their eyes or shoot dirty looks.

“How can someone sit through this and willingly stay sober the whole time?” Derek asks him at some point and waves his glass at the screen before downing the booze.

Stiles chuckles, pleasantly buzzed already, and stuff a handful of M&Ms into his mouth. “Scott would if Allison asked him to watch stuff like this with her.”

Scott nudges Stiles’ head with his foot from behind him before Derek pushes Scott’s leg away. Indistinctly, Stiles thinks it a cute gesture, and he ends up grinning so widely his cheeks hurt a little.

“Allison doesn’t like movies like that,” Scott says, slurring a little, and Stiles mentally bumps his fist into the air, because fuck yeah, Scott’s drunk.

Derek snorts, “Scott would make Allison sit down and watch this with him.”

“And she would put on her big-girl-pants and watch the whole movie without one drop of alcohol, because she’s badass like that,” Stiles adds, looking from Scott to Derek. “Unlike the rest of us.”

“Stop waxing poetic about my girlfriend,” Scott says, grinning goofily—and Stiles doesn’t comment on the fact that she is, in fact, not his girlfriend right now—and tries to nudge Stiles with his foot again.

Stiles finds himself confronted with a lot of arm suddenly when Derek shields him from Scott’s foot, and—Jesus. What is that arm? He pokes at Derek’s bicep and goes wide-eyed when it feels like he pushes against concrete.

“Dude,” he says, and then again, “Dude.”

“What?” Derek doesn’t move his arm away and lets it rest on the couch, halfway draped behind Stiles’ shoulders, and Stiles fights the sudden urge to lean his temple against it.

“How are you even real?”

Derek watches him with hooded eyes, the light from the TV screen casting shadows on his face—the only source of light in the room after Lydia turned off the lamps—and Stiles feels the burning the sensation in his body the alcohol left behind. It’s like now he becomes fully aware of how close Derek is to him and that he can feel his body heat radiating, smells Derek’s cologne and notices the way their bodies touch at several points: their legs, their feet—since Stiles stretched out himself—and Stiles’ shoulder touches Derek’s triceps.

“Get a room,” Jackson mutters, flicking M&Ms at them, and Derek turns to scowl at him.

“I thought we were here to indulge in singleness?” Isaac point out, speaking slowly, deliberately, and Stiles smirks and wonders that even for werewolves they don’t last long.

“Oh, please, like they can stay out of each other’s faces for more than two minutes at a time,” Erica retorts, rolling her eyes.

“I need to pee,” Stiles announces, and gets up.

It earns him a scoff from Jackson. “That was some vital information, Stilinski.”

“How about you shut your face, asshat.”

“You’re so eloquent.”

“Why are you even talking?”

“Why are y—”

“We get it,” Lydia interrupts and motions Stiles away with a dismissive wave of her hand. He stumbles out of the living room and rubs a hand over his face. Somewhere during the movie and the shots he’s lost his sense of time. He sends Dad a text after using the bathroom, saying, At Lydia’s. Be home late. Early? Early. Late? Stiles frowns at his phone until he decides his father will get the idea.

His mouth is dry from the alcohol, so he goes into the kitchen to get some water, and after that steps outside to get some fresh air. It’s still pretty cold but the night air feels soothing on his burning skin. He thinks about how easy Derek’s been the whole evening, even after that rose thing, and maybe Stiles needn’t have freaked out so much about it. After all, he still doesn’t know what Derek wanted to say, because Scott interrupted them, and maybe it wasn’t something mocking, maybe it was something…else. For all he knows Derek was a second from dropping on his knee and proposing to him.

“Heh,” Stiles says to himself at that thought, and scowls at himself the next moment.

Scott opens the door that leads back into the kitchen and sticks his head out. “Hey, buddy,” he says, a dopey grin on his face. “Allison called. I’ll go to meet her.”

Stiles smiles and steps back into the kitchen, offering Scott his fist to bump. Despite what he said earlier, Stiles still can’t picture them not together. He knows Allison makes Scott happy, and Stiles is thankful for every person who acknowledges Scott for the good person he is.

“Tell her I said hi,” Stiles tells him as Scott nudges Stiles’ fist with his own, and Scott nods happily before he grabs his jacket and heads out.

He pours himself another glass of water when he hears shuffling footsteps. Stiles smiles to himself. There are only two people who care enough to make their presence known around him, and one of them just left the house. He turns around to find Derek standing rather closely behind him. His eyes roam over Stiles’ face attentively.

“You okay?” Derek asks quietly.

“Yeah,” Stiles answers, nodding. “Just needed some water and a little bit of fresh air.”

Derek dips his head in understanding, stepping a little bit closer. He brings up a hand and presents a tiny flower, folded out of candy wrapping paper. Derek has this constipated look on his face, like he can’t quite decide whether to be embarrassed, determined or proud.

“They were out of roses,” he explains roughly. “And I couldn’t find any paper hearts.”

Stiles stares dumbly between the little flower and Derek’s face. This is—he doesn’t even know what to say. This is the single sappiest thing that has ever happened to him, and it’s coming from Derek, and not ten minutes ago they made fun about things like that. It makes him ridiculously happy. Stiles feels his face almost splitting in half with his smile as he takes the flower.

“That’s okay,” he says, running the fingers of his free hand up Derek’s arm, over his shoulder and to the nape of his neck. “The voices in my head say I can accept paper flowers.”

“What else do they say?” Derek asks, smiling small and private, as he steps closer yet.

“Well, nine voices out of ten demand kisses. Lots of kisses. Loads, really.”

Derek fans his hands out over Stiles’ hips and leans in, noses over Stiles’ collarbone and along his neck and jawline. “Yeah?” he asks, pressing a tender kiss behind Stiles’ ear before he moves on to kiss the hinge of his jaw, the shell of his ear.

“Yeah,” Stiles replies breathlessly, arching into Derek’s touch. He puts the flower next to him on the counter before sliding both of his hands into Derek’s hair while Derek continues to pepper his face with sweet, feathery kisses.

Derek kisses the corner of Stiles’ mouth softly. “That enough?”

Stiles hums approvingly. “Not quite,” he answers, and presses his lips tenderly against Derek’s. It’s chaste and sweet, and they move their lips against each other, and then Derek licks over Stiles’ bottom lip. Stiles can’t help the breathless moan that escapes him. He opens his mouth, and then there’s nothing chaste and sweet about it anymore; it’s hot and wet and hungry, leaving Stiles gasping for air when Derek gently nips on his bottom lip.

“What does the tenth say?”

“The tenth hums Can you feel the love tonight.”

“Of course it does,” Derek says with a mocking tone to his voice but there’s a fond smile tugging at the corners of his lips, and he ducks in to kiss Stiles again.

From out of the living room Stiles hears the first beats of Can you feel the love tonight, followed by a collective exasperated groan. And Derek is smiling widely against his lips.