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One of Those Couples

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When they arrive on campus, both Stiles and Derek are presented to the Alpha of the local Pack, the Kerrigans. It's all very bureaucratic, to be honest. They even have a notary.

The Pack is stationed in the back of the copy shop for move-in day. Derek, Stiles and Mrs. Hale arrive promptly at 9:00 a.m., Stiles armed with a large coffee, but there's already a line that goes out the door and past the Subway next to the copy shop. Mrs. Hale is unfazed by the line of werewolf college students standing resentfully next to their Alphas, but Derek is more high-strung than Stiles has ever seen him.

"Oh, a witch," the notary says as she looks over Stiles' paperwork. "We haven't had one of you in years."

"Yeah, most of us don't live this long," says Stiles.

The notary stares at him, clearly horrified.

Stiles smiles. Behind them, another young werewolf edges up, and Derek snarls at him viciously. Again.

Mrs. Hale sighs.

 

"Hey," says Stiles, barging into Derek's room.

It's about a third of the size of his and Scott's double two floors down. There's a Justin Bieber sticker on the wall that the college either hadn't been able or hadn't been bothered to remove, and one of the dresser drawers is cracked in half.

Stiles drags the garbage bag in behind him and looks around at the mess of boxes, clothing, and rolled-up posters. "Where do you want this?"

"I thought you said Deaton told you to limit the number of books you took to a single bag?" Derek asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah, well, he didn't specify what kind of bag, now did he?" Stiles replies. "He's lucky I didn't pick up a roll of those contractor-grade trash bags, or he would have lost his entire collection."

Derek rolls his eyes and dumps a bag of socks into a drawer.

"You promised you'd take them," Stiles reminds him. "Since your parents are shelling out for a single and all."

"When I promised that, I wasn't aware that you were bringing a damn library with you," Derek says irritably, and dumps a basket of t-shirts into the drawer as well.

"Whoa!" says Stiles, letting go of the bag and rushing over. "Dude, no, you can't put your socks in the same drawer as your shirts! You'll smell like feet!"

"This whole dorm smells like feet," Derek says grumpily.

Stiles elbows him out of the way and opens the drawer below it, deftly relocating Derek's t-shirts.

"Where am I supposed to hide your stupid magic books, anyway?" Derek demands, scowling down at the bag. "It's not like you're the only person who's ever going to be in my room, you know."

"Just, like, shove them under your bed or something," Stiles says.

"Shove them under your bed," Derek retorts.

"Scott and I are bunking," Stiles tells him as he grabs a second basket of t-shirt and adds them to the drawer. "And I called top bunk."

"Great," Derek says.

Stiles frowns. "Dude. I just figured, like, it would be super uncool of us to sexile Scott when (a) his girlfriend is gap-yearing in DC or whatever and (b) you've got a single two floors up. That's… cool, right?"

"Yeah, it's fine," Derek says, though his tone actually says leave me alone to die.

Stiles drops the basket. "Okay. What's the deal?"

"It's nothing," says Derek. Resentfully. "I'll hide your stupid books, it's fine."

"No, it's not nothing. You're being a major dickwad and I'm, like, 80% sure that I haven't done anything to deserve it."

"It's. It's not you," Derek says finally, after a long pause. "Just—it smells bad. It smells like another Pack. Other wolves. I don't… like it."

"Oh," Stiles says. "Uh. Well. We can buy some Febreeze? That pet-smeller-getter-outer stuff? Burn some incense? Have lots of crazy, stinky sex?"

Stiles' brain is actually a giant gumball machine of solutions. That's just how he rolls.

He'd make a terrifying wedding planner.

"I'll get over it," Derek mutters. "It's fine."

"You should Skype Laura, ask her what she did when she went to college," Stiles suggests.

Derek makes a face, and uses his foot to push the bag of books under his bed. "I'm not Skyping Laura. Fuckface will be there."

Fuckface is Laura's boyfriend. His real name is Faakhir, and he likes exactly three things in life: obscure French movies, fondling his goatee, and hanging off of Laura like an overgrown octopus.

"Eugh," says Stiles, his face mirroring Derek's. "I keep forgetting. Never mind."

Derek opens his mouth to reply when the door is thrown open and Linus bursts in.

"GOTTA GO SAY BYE!" he yells, and grins toothily when Derek winces at the volume. "Mom and Dad and Cass are waiting, and Dad says you can stop macking on your boyfriend for two minutes to say bye. And I know what macking means."

He looks significantly between Derek and Stiles.

"Do you know what justifiable homicide means?" Derek asks.

"Chicken butts!" Linus shouts, and then runs away, laughter echoing off the halls.

"You're only supposed to say that if someone says 'guess what'," Derek grumbles.

"Kids these days," Stiles agrees. He drops the now empty basket on Derek's bed and shuts the drawer. "I'll be in my room unpacking for Scott so I don't climb out of bed tomorrow morning and shishkebab myself on a pile of hangers. He brought wire ones, you know. There is an actual risk of death."

"Spend the night here," Derek says.

Stiles raises an eyebrow. "Dude, we've talked about this. We are not going to be one of those couples. We are going to make friends and hang out with other people and then when you dump me in November, I'll have people to buy me cookie dough and put up with my gross sobbing."

Derek frowns. "Don't you have Scott?"

"Not the point," Stiles insists, and leaves Derek to his familial goodbyes.

 

Stiles knocks on Derek's door at 2:00 a.m., pillow tucked under his arm.

"Not a word," he orders when Derek opens the door a second later. He wields a finger at Derek as he marches inside. "Scott snores. And if you dump me in November, you have to find me at least three friends first to nurse me through the heartbreak."

"Shut up and get in bed," Derek says, locking the door behind them.

 

Stiles' concerns about codependency turn out to be unfounded, as he adds about sixty phone numbers and over a hundred and fifty friends on Facebook within the next three days. Which is kind of amazing, given how much homework he already has.

"Shit," says Stiles, staring at his computer. "I have three tests on the same day. Fuck everything."

He flops back on Derek's bed with a moan. His head hits a pillow. Derek has always had a truly unnecessary number of pillows at the bottom of his bed, all of them thick and soft and perfect for flopping on. Stiles has been jealous for years.

"I thought all your math tests were take-homes?" Derek asks, turning a raised eyebrow on Stiles from his desk chair.

"That's really not as comforting as you think it is," Stiles replies. "It's discrete mathematics. He'd give us the test in class, except they won't let him reserve the room for eight hours."

Derek shrugs. "So drop the class."

Stiles moans again.

Thank God he's initiated. He can't imagine keeping up with witch lessons on top of all of his college work.

"No. It's fine," he sighs. "There's one girl in the class—you know Jackson Whittemore's girlfriend? Lydia Martin? She goes here. Turns out she's like a super-genius or something. I just need to get her as my study buddy."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"Well, we all know I'm not above using nudity to make a point," Stiles offers, before sinking into actual thought on how he's going to get Lydia to take pity on him and help him out.

Derek rolls his eyes and goes back to the PDF he's reading on his computer.

Minutes later, Stiles is drawn out of his devious plot to ensnare Lydia by the sound of paper rustling near his ear. It's been sort of white noise up until now, but then a shadow passes over his face, and his eyes snap open.

Floating above him, moving toward Derek, is his bright red Principles of Computer Science syllabus, and it's folding itself.

Folding itself.

And after a beat, during which Stiles can only stare dumbly, he realizes that it's folding itself into an origami heart. And heading for Derek.

Stiles lunges forward and snatches the heart out of mid-air, crumpling it in his fist.

Derek turns immediately, frowning.

"Ahahaha," says Stiles, still poised mid-lunge. He tries smile and convey that everything, especially his magic, is under control. Absolutely.

Derek raises his eyebrows.

"I'm. Uh. Stretching," Stiles says, extending his leg back a little further.

"Uh-huh," says Derek skeptically, and returns to his reading.

 

Stiles figures that it's an isolated incident, something that he'll ask Deaton about when he goes home for Thanksgiving, and instead focuses on getting Lydia to like him enough to partner up. He's been bringing her a white chocolate raspberry muffin every morning, but he thinks that this has now just resulted in her expecting him to feed her.

Like a cat.

Or a dominatrix. Lydia is definitely dominatrix material.

But then Stiles meets up with Derek after his tap class (shut up, he tried out and made it into the advanced class, okay, it's cool) and as they're walking back to the dorm it happens again.

"He's using this class to work on his paper," Derek is griping. "He has no actual interest in teaching. He's just using us so that he can perfect the arguments in his paper."

"Uh-huh," says Stiles, mentally compiling a list of what he needs to get done tonight.

"He'd better not do this when he grades our essays," Derek says with a scowl.

"Ye—ah!" Stiles abruptly notices a tornado of flowers that are pulling themselves out of the ground and up into the air as they walk, collecting in a mix of orange and blue and pink.

Eyes widening, he snatches at the mass of flowers, grabbing and shoving them to the ground at the same time, and luckily the flowers don't fight back and are on the ground by the time Derek turns around.

"Stiles?" Derek asks, frowning.

"Bee!" Stiles says, knowing that Derek can hear his pounding heart and probably see his trembling fingers right now. "There, uh, bee. In my ear."

Derek gives him a weird look. "Okay."

"Sorry," says Stiles. "Um. So. Yeah, Professor Dickwad. Carry on."

Luckily, Derek is still in a bitchy mood and starts carrying on about his professor again instead of looking at the flowers scattered on the grass.

 

Stiles would investigate the whole my-magic-seems-to-be-going-sentient thing. He would.

It's just that he has fifty pages of sociology reading, a program to write, two more math problems for the week, his financial aid has apparently disappeared, and also he is sore as fuck from tap dancing.

 

It keeps happening. A brownie floats off of a tray. He wakes up to his manual drip already assembled and brewing a cup of Derek's favorite coffee. He and Derek are studying in the dorm kitchen and when Derek leaves to go to the bathroom, the kitchen starts making pancakes. Heart-shaped pancakes.

His magic has gone sentient, and apparently what it wants with its newfound liberty is to romance his boyfriend.

...their boyfriend?

Then Jackson Whittemore gets it in his head that Stiles is attempting to woo Lydia with his muffins—which, okay, he is, but not in a sexual way. Did Jackson completely miss the fact that, save for the first half of Stiles' senior year, he'd been with Derek for most of high school?

Apparently, Jackson had forgotten that, because he pins Stiles against a wall that night and delivers some appallingly uncreative threats. Of course, then Stiles gets mouthy and Jackson gets angrier and…

Yeah.

Stiles is definitely going to have bruises tomorrow morning.

Why his magic couldn't go all sentient now and, like, throw Jackson out a window, Stiles has no idea.

And to top it all off, he gets into a fight with his dad because Stiles hasn't gone to Financial Aid to sort out the bill his father was sent.

"Stiles, I don't think you understand that this bill is due in two days," his father grinds out. "We don't have this kind of money. If they charge us interest—on a bill this big—do you have any idea how much that's going to be?"

"I'm sorry!" Stiles cries. "I'll get there, okay? But, you know, I'm not just sitting around playing video games. I have homework, like, all the time, and I—"

"Just get up there and sort it out, Stiles," his father interrupts. "Tomorrow."

The heavy disappointment in his voice—and the fact that he doesn't even want to listen—makes Stiles feel like crying.

"Fine," he says, and hangs up before his father can reply.

 

Four weeks into college and Stiles is bruised and sore, he's behind on homework, his magic is wonky, his father is mad at him, he's figured out that most of the people he met in the first week are actually assholes, and he hasn't had a circle in three weeks because he's so tired that he's afraid he'll fall asleep during the meditative exercises.

He trudges up to Derek's room, because Scott and their hallmates somehow all have the time for a freaking video game marathon, and knocks once before pushing the door open.

Derek's curled up on the bed, but the lights are on so he can't be asleep.

"Hey," Stiles says.

Derek rolls onto his back.

Stiles frowns as he approaches. "Dude. You look like someone ran over your hamster with a lawn mower."

Derek glares, halfheartedly.

"Shove over, you broody lump," Stiles says, toeing off his shoes and dropping his bag. "Tell me why your life sucks so I can stop thinking about my own."

Derek shifts as Stiles climbs onto the bed and arranges it so that they both have enough pillow.

"I swear your bed is comfier than mine," Stiles mumbles, his eyes sliding shut as exhaustion swamps him. He savors the feeling for a few minutes, but eventually nudges Derek's shoulder with his own. "So, what's up? It's not your dad, is it? 'Cause last I heard he was still doing really well."

"He's fine," Derek says. "It's—it's just a stupid werewolf thing."

It's probably actually his exhaustion that keeps him quiet, but Stiles tells himself that he's learned to be patient and let Derek speak on his own over the years.

"My sheets barely smell like Pack anymore," Derek eventually mumbles.

"Oh, shit," Stiles says, jolting and flailing. "Shit, sorry, I'll get up, this is like the worst thing—"

"Stay here, you idiot," Derek says, grabbing Stiles' hand and pulling him back down.

"But—"

"Stay."

Stiles huffs and lies back down.

"You should talk to Laura," he tells Derek, after a moment. "About the scent thing, I mean."

"I don't need to talk to Laura," Derek says sourly. "I'm fine. I'll get over it."

"Obviously. The whole curled-up-in-a-puddle-of-misery thing is really normal," Stiles retorts. "If you—"

"Stiles, can you please just lie there and be quiet for a while? Or at least not harass me? You're not the only one who's been having a shitty time, lately," Derek snaps.

There's a sharp stab of hurt in Stiles' chest, and he shuts his mouth almost automatically.

He lies there in silence for a minute or so, misery increasing with every second that passes, until he's about to get up and leave, maybe go out to the woods to have a circle so he can throw up some wards and be miserable in privacy. But…

Goddamn his curiosity.

"You wanna talk about it?" Stiles asks hesitantly.

"No," says Derek.

Stiles exhales. "You can't—"

He feels something soft and plushy fall on his leg. He lifts his head, puzzled.

The pillows are migrating up the bed.

Of course they are.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," he says, kicking at the pillow that's inching up his leg. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."

Derek raises his own head. "Are the pillows…"

"I have no idea whether they're going for smothering or snuggling, but yes, they're crawling up the bed," Stiles confirms. He shoves a few more back to the bottom of the bed. "It's kind of been a thing, lately. Shit."

Derek gives him an irritated look. "It's just your magic, right?"

Stiles stops mid-punch. "Uh. Yeah. Why do you sound suspiciously chill about my magic being completely out of control?"

"Stiles," Derek says, staring at him like he's very stupid, "every morning when I eat my cereal, the fruit bits rearrange themselves into a heart. Last week I came back and there were—flower petals. Everywhere. It's okay."

"Oh my God," Stiles says faintly. "Oh my God, my magic is seducing you."

Derek shrugs.

"My magic is seducing you and it's working," Stiles says in horror.

"Is it bad?" Derek asks.

A pillow creeps onto Stiles' thigh, and he punches it into submission. "I don't think it's good. It's definitely not normal. Unless you're going to tell me that this shit happened in high school, too?"

"No," Derek admits.

"Wonderful," Stiles sighs. "I'm just going back to my room, then. I hope you and my magic are very happy together."

"Stiles."

"I'm not going to lay here and listen to you radiate misery. You can't just tell me that I've been ignoring you and your angst, and then refuse to tell me what's wrong," Stiles snaps. "This is why we broke up last year, remember? This passive-aggressive bullshit."

Derek puts a hand over his face. "Stiles—dammit. I'm not being passive-aggressive, I don't want to talk about it. I just want you to stay here."

"Yeah, well, too bad," Stiles says, pushing himself out of bed. "I have shit to do, and I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour."

"Well, I'm glad to know where I rank," Derek says bitterly.

"Excuse me for wanting to at least get something right tonight," Stiles replies waspishly as he jams his feet into his shoes. "I thought it would be you, but I guess it's going to be math and sociology."

Derek doesn't reply.

Stiles slams the door shut behind him.

 

"Stiles—Stiles, fuck, wake up!" Someone shakes him roughly, and hisses out another frantic, "Stiles!"

Stiles blinks his eyes open, with effort. They burn from lack of sleep, like they've been dried out to eye-raisins.

"Get up," Derek says in a furious whisper, looking unreasonably angry for whatever fuck o'clock hour of the morning it is. It's still dark outside. Jesus.

"Whahz?" Stiles asks, manfully resisting the urge to close his eyes again.

"Your magic," Derek whispers. "It's—fuck, you have to get up and change it back."

Stiles is suddenly wide awake.

"What did it do?" he asks, heart leaping up into his throat.

Derek's eyes widen, and he jerks his chin down to the bottom bunk.

Right. Scott.

"What did it do?" Stiles repeats, this time in a whisper. He starts to creep out of bed, trying and failing not to make the bed frame creak and groan as he does so.

"The scent," Derek says, eyes darting around the room. "Everything smells like home. Like my Pack."

Stiles inhales, and yeah, it smells a lot less like piss and feet than it usually does.

"Just, like, the dorm?" he asks, his stomach beginning to churn.

"Everything," says Derek, shaking his head. "I went outside to check."

"Fuck," says Stiles.

His mind is racing, but he has no idea how to fix this. He's never heard of anything like it—spells, rites, blessings, wards, charms... hell, not even hexes. His mind flashes on the sylphs, who had been able to change the composition of air without even trying, but this is clearly Stiles' magic at work, not a displaced air elemental.

"The Kerrigan Pack isn't going to like this," Derek warns him, and fuck, Stiles hadn't even thought of that.

"They have me on record," Stiles realizes. He actually feels the blood drain from his face. "Fuck, they know exactly where I live—they said I was the first witch in their territory in ages. Fuck, fuck, fuck."

Derek steps back, staring at Stiles like he's waiting for directions.

Stiles tries to think.

"What—when did this happen?" he tries.

Derek shakes his head. "I don't know. It was that way when I woke up ten minutes ago."

"I—okay," says Stiles. "Fuck. I'm going to have to call Deaton. He's going to kill me."

"We should go up to my room," Derek says, rocking on his feet slightly.

Stiles stares at him incredulously. "Are you serious? That's a terrible idea."

"If the local Pack shows up—"

"Hiding only makes you look more guilty," Stiles hisses. "How do you not know that?"

Derek glares.

"This is just great," Stiles mutters, slumping into his desk chair.

Scott lets out a snore.

"Wait, aren't we fighting?" Stiles asks, last night suddenly coming back to him.

"Shut up and call Deaton," says Derek.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Stiles mutters, pulling his phone off of his charger and unlocking it. "Shit, this is gonna suck. Okay. I'm gonna go out in the hallway to talk, so I don't wake Scott up. You… try to look less like a serial killer."

Derek scowls.

"That's not helping."

"Stiles, this really isn't the time—"

Derek cuts himself off. He goes absolutely still.

"Wha—" is all Stiles manages to get out before the door is thrown open and Samuel Kerrigan, the Alpha of the Kerrigan Pack, is standing in the doorway.

Faster than Stiles can blink, Derek is wolfed-out and facing the door, planting himself squarely in front of Stiles and crowding him back against the dresser. He snarls when Stiles tries to move out from behind him.

Scott blearily raises his head.

Mr. Kerrigan flashes red eyes. Behind him are Betas. Stiles can't see how many, but there's at least four.

"Genim Stilinski," Mr. Kerrigan rumbles.

"It was an accident!" Stiles yells from behind Derek. "Really, I promise!"

"What?" Scott says, blinking around. Then he catches sight of Derek and his jaw goes slack.

Derek starts to inhale, his back expanding against Stiles' chest, and Stiles quickly brings his hands up to Derek's shoulders and clamps down hard.

"Derek, for fuck's sake, don't roar," Stiles whispers furiously. "We're in a dorm, you'll probably set off the freaking fire alarms."

Derek twitches and huffs.

If Stiles weren't already in trouble for his magic, he'd definitely zap him. Where were Mrs. Hale's Alpha eyes when you needed them?

"Look, seriously, it was an accident," Stiles tells Mr. Kerrigan over Derek's shoulder. "I didn't mean to—offend you. Or whatever. And I can undo it, I promise, I just need to call my mentor so he can tell me how to fix it."

Mr. Kerrigan's expression is inscrutable.

Derek shifts.

"Mr. Hale," Mr. Kerrigan says at last, "if you would allow Mr. Stilinski to come out and discuss this like the adults your mother promised me you both were, it would be appreciated."

Derek goes stiff.

Stiles gives him a little shove.

"We're not here to hurt him, we just wanted to talk," Mr. Kerrigan promises.

"Derek," Stiles hisses, when Derek does not immediately move.

He's released a moment later, albeit reluctantly.

"Maybe next time you want to 'talk', leave the eyes and the Beta army at home," Stiles says under his breath before he can stop himself.

Derek grips his arm. Hard.

"Thank you," Mr. Kerrigan says, graciously ignoring Stiles' remark. "Now, why don't you explain what you mean by 'accident'?"

"Uh," says Stiles. "My magic's been, um, a little… free? Not in a bad way! Just, it keeps trying to make Derek happy? And I guess he was missing home, so it… fixed it."

Mr. Kerrigan studies him. "Are you aware that this act—replacing our scent with the scent of another Pack—is not a threat, but a direct challenge to our territory?"

Stiles' heart rate practically doubles.

"No?" he squeaks. "I, uh, I definitely don't want to challenge you to your territory. Seriously, it's all yours. I take it back. I never gave it in the first place. What would I do with this territory, anyway? Not that it's not nice! It's very nice. I can see why people would want it. But not me, I don't want it, not—"

"Stiles," Derek mutters.

Stiles shuts up.

"Call your mentor," Mr. Kerrigan says, after a long pause. "Resolve it within twenty-four hours, and we'll leave you with a warning. If it's not resolved, we'll be forced to summon your Alpha."

Stiles nods rapidly.

He does not want to drag Mrs. Hale up here. She'd probably bring his father. And Deaton. That's like the Holy Trinity of Authority in Stiles' life.

"We do have several witches at our disposal, who can be here in less than an hour if we ask them to," Mr. Kerrigan adds, rather pointedly. "Please keep that in mind."

Stiles nods again.

He wonders if that's supposed to be a threat or an offer of guidance, but is smart enough this time to keep his mouth shut.

"And Mr. Hale, please do remember your manners the next time you're approached by an Alpha in another Pack's territory," Mr. Kerrigan says, turning his gaze on Derek.

Derek nods jerkily. "I—apologize," he says stiffly.

Manners are never really going to be Derek's strong suit.

"We'll be waiting," Mr. Kerrigan tells them. He fixes one last look at Stiles, and then withdraws from the room.

Stiles all but collapses against the wall in relief.

Derek stares fixedly at the door, probably listening to make sure that they leave.

"Um," says Scott from his bed. "Guys? Does someone maybe wanna explain to me what's going on?"

Fuck.

 

Stiles sets Derek on explaining things to Scott, and resigns himself to calling Deaton.

Deaton answers on the third ring, which is pretty quick, considering the fact that it's 5:30 a.m.

"Stiles," he says, rather resignedly. "I suppose it goes without saying that this had better be important."

"WEREWOLVES?" Scott squawks in the background.

"It's kind of important, yeah," says Stiles, as he moves out into the hallway.

 

Deaton says that he knows a ritual that will undo whatever Stiles' magic has done, and he'll type it up for Stiles when he gets into the office. He sounds somewhere between exasperated and actually irritated. Stiles thinks that might have a lot to do with the time.

Also, literally hours after Stiles' initiation, Deaton had gone on a two-week vacation to France. He'd brought his packed suitcase to the initiation rites.

Stiles then explains the larger problem at hand—namely, the fact that his magic has become sentient—and Deaton is also largely unfazed by Stiles' out-of-control magic.

"You'll need to create a totem for Derek. Pick up some leather strips from one of the shops on the list I gave you, purify and bless them, and then let your magic take over. It shouldn't take you more than twenty minutes to complete, if it's gotten this bad."

"If what's gotten this bad?" Stiles asks, eyes narrowing. "And why does making Derek a totem fix it?"

"It happens sometimes," says Deaton, rather vaguely. "I suspect I'm right in guessing that Derek hasn't been too happy for the last few weeks. Your magic is only reacting to his distress."

"But it didn't do this in high school, when—my senior year," Stiles points out.

"Well, you weren't initiated," Deaton replies.

Stiles holds in a groan of frustration. "But shouldn't I have more control over my magic now that I'm initiated?"

"Normally, yes," Deaton says mildly.

"Do you normally have to make totems for other people?" Stiles asks. "What about my dad, do I need to make one for him?"

"Just the one for Derek should suffice," Deaton answers.

"But why just Derek?" Stiles presses.

"Because Derek is the one that your magic is reaching out to," Deaton says.

Stiles takes in a deep breath for patience. "You know, I forgot how cagey you can be when you don't want to actually give me an answer."

"Did you?" Deaton asks, sounding amused.

"Yes," Stiles grits out.

"Mmm," says Deaton, unconcerned.

Stiles exhales. "Look, can I at least get a hint? Something to go off of?"

Deaton hums thoughtfully, and descends into silence for a moment. Just when Stiles is about to vibrate out of his body with impatience, Deaton says, "Why don't you start with Brigid of Kildare."

"Ooookay," Stiles says slowly, the name not ringing any bells.

"Yes," says Deaton, "and Darlughdach."

Stiles blinks. "Darg-loo-dock? Can I get a spelling on that?"

"No. I think you're at enough of an advantage, given the number of books that you stole from me," Deaton says pointedly.

Oops.

"Now, I have to go," Deaton continues. "Let me know if you have any questions about the ritual—you should have everything you need for it. It's the actual magic that's complex, not the setup."

"Right. Thanks."

"You're welcome," Deaton replies. "And next time, please call me the first time something goes wrong, so we can have these conversations at a more reasonable hour."

Stiles winces, and hangs up.

 

When he goes back inside, Derek looks about a minute away from murdering Scott, and Scott looks like he's just been told that it's now illegal to put jelly in donuts.

"Did you get it sorted out?" Derek asks immediately, clearly happy to abandon Scott.

Stiles nods and plops down on Scott's bed. "Yeah. Deaton knows how to fix the scent thing, he's going to send me the ritual via email in a few hours."

"And the whole… magic…" Derek waves a hand demonstratively.

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Congratulations, you're getting a totem."

Derek blinks. "Like yours?"

"I guess," Stiles says.

"Wait, can we go back to the part where you can do magic?" Scott interrupts. "And you never told me about it?"

"I can do magic," says Stiles. "And I never told you about it."

Scott punches him on the arm.

"Ow!"

Scott glares.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Yes, Scott, we can talk about it. But maybe when it's not six in the morning and I'm not failing at everything and have to undo a spell that I didn't even know I was doing, okay?"

Scott looks like he wants to protest.

Derek pushes himself off the wall. "I'm going to back to bed."

"No—wait!"

"Dude!" Scott protests.

"We can talk tonight, okay?" Stiles promises. "I've been kind of an asshole to Derek, and I've got to undo this spell, do a study lunch thing for sociology, that fractals program that's due before lab—fuck, and I've got to get to Financial Aid sometime tomorrow. Today. Fuck, it's morning."

Scott gives him a sulky look. "Fine."

"You're the best," Stiles says, and pulls him into a quick bear-hug before he leaps off the bed and runs after Derek.

 

"I'm sorry," Stiles blurts out as he runs into Derek's room.

Derek, who is about to get back into bed, turns and gives him a blank look.

"Really," Stiles adds. "I am. I was an asshole last night, and I've apparently been an asshole for the last month, too. I should have been paying attention."

"That's what I said last night," Derek points out, raising his eyebrows.

"I know," Stiles says, making a face. "But yesterday was, like, the worst day I've had since we got here—not that that's an excuse, but I was… you know. In a bad frame of mind. And then the whole thing with my magic happened, and I just wanted the whole day to be over with. And I was an asshole."

Derek heaves a sigh and sits down on his bed.

"Do you want to talk about it now?" Stiles asks hesitantly. "Or, like, if you're still mad at me—"

"I don't want to talk about it," Derek interrupts. "I just. Normally you notice."

Stiles nods, because yeah, he tends to be a bit… over-involved in the lives of people he cares about.

"Sorry."

Derek shrugs. "It's stupid. I shouldn't rely on it."

"No, dude, that's like who I am. I'm like Shawn on Psych—I notice everything. Normally. When my life isn't a hurricane of misery. You should definitely count on it."

Derek raises an eyebrow at him. "A hurricane of misery?"

"Don't judge," Stiles says. "You don't know me."

"You wanna tell me about it?" Derek asks dryly, raising an eyebrow.

"No," says Stiles. "I just wanna sleep. This day is going to suck."

Derek climbs into bed.

Stiles hesitates. "Can I—"

"Yes, dumbass."

 

Stiles shows up to class without a muffin.

Lydia scrawls something on the top of her notebook and then shoves it at Stiles.

well?

? Stiles writes.

my muffin?

nope
sorry

10 library sat
you'd better have a muffin

Stiles stares, hardly daring to believe it.

if Jackson bothers you again, let me know Lydia adds, after a moment.

you'll beat him up? Stiles asks.

Lydia pauses, a slow smile curling on her lips. She writes back: did you know that vaginas can break fingers?

Stiles fumbles his pencil and starts rethinking his choice of study partner.

 

He finishes his program in the nick of time and makes it to his lunch study group for sociology.

Thankfully, nobody notices when he slips a salt shaker into his pocket.

Then he runs to Financial Aid (it turns out they'd misspelled his first name, and the forms had gotten mixed up), texts his father to let him know he'd had success, and sits down to start on the next computer lab assignment for the required three hours. Then he heads to tap, which goes badly because he's tired and distracted, but he does get partnered with a really awesome girl named Erica. So there's that.

When he finally gets back to his room, Scott is pouring over one of Stiles' magic books. As Stiles steps closer, he can see three distinct piles happening: Not in English, In English, and Not Yet Checked.

"Derek didn't know if you needed these," Scott informs him, glancing up. "Dude, this is crazy. You don't actually use, like, pee and blood and stuff, right?"

"Wait until you get to the spells that require menstrual blood," Stiles says.

Scott pales. "Nuh-uh."

"Oh yeah," Stiles says. He sets the salt shaker on his desk, wipes a notice-me-not ward off of his bottom desk drawer, and opens it to begin taking out the rest of the supplies for his circle.

No robes or purification rites for this. He'll be fine.

Probably.

"Is that your magic stuff?" Scott asks.

"Yep," says Stiles. He smirks, and reaches for the little red vial in the back. "You thought I was kidding about menstrual blood?"

Scott recoils. "Eugh! You've been keeping that in our room?"

Stiles shrugs and puts it back. "It's not like you can smell it."

"Can Derek?" Scott asks. "Like, with the whole wolf-nose thing? Wait—oh my God, can he tell when girls are… you know?"

Stiles had had the exact same question. But when he'd asked Derek, Derek had just rolled his eyes and refused to answer on the grounds that it was a stupid question.

This is why Stiles and Scott are friends.

 

After Stiles performs the ritual out in the woods, he texts Derek.

Attempt #1: success?

Seconds later Derek responds with: Everything smells awful again.

Stiles does a victory dance, since he's alone in the woods and there's no one (read: Deaton) there to judge him.

He packs his stuff into his backpack, scatters the lines of his circle with a quick breeze of wind, and starts to head back to campus. Halfway there, he gets a text from Mrs. Hale, which is a rare occurrence indeed.

          Derek has an appointment to Skype with Laura tonight at 9:00 p.m., regarding his scenting issues. Please make sure he keeps it.

Stiles responds with a quick affirmation, and then hurries to text Derek.

You told your mom?!

         Deaton told her, dumbass.

Oh, right. Want some company for your Skype date?

         Please.

 

"Hey," says Stiles as he enters Derek's room. "I forgot to ask—did you get your essay back? The one from the douche who's using you guys for his paper?"

"He said maybe Friday," Derek says.

Stiles sets his backpack down and crosses over to the bed. "He's probably too busy making notes for his paper to actually grade them. He'll just give you all B minuses and be done with it." He grins. "Now that's evil."

Derek gives him a weird look, because he sucks and has no appreciation for YouTube musicals.

Stiles checks his phone. It's almost time to Skype.

"Hey," he says, as it occurs to him. "Question. Did you like my magic doing that… stuff for you? Like, the flowers and hearts and stuff?"

Derek shrugs. "It was kind of stupid."

"But you didn't seem to mind," Stiles says. "You didn't say, like, 'Hey Stiles, quit seducing me with clichéd romantic gestures, it's stupid'."

"Even I'm not that much of an asshole," Derek replies.

Stiles thinks that's a lie, but he lets it slide.

He's about to try to change the subject—he can't remember what Derek's fourth class is, which just goes to show exactly how wrapped up in himself he's been—when Derek speaks up.

"I'm sorry," he says.

Stiles blinks, staring. "What?"

"I've been thinking about it, and I—I really shouldn't expect you to just notice things," Derek says. "It's not fair to you. I know you said it was okay, but it's not."

"It… really is," Stiles says, frowning.

"I don't want you taking care of me all the time. It's not right."

"Maybe you haven't noticed, but I'm kind of a caretaker by nature," Stiles says slowly. "Nosiness and over-involvement are my hugs and kisses, yo."

"Yeah, well, maybe I want to take care of you sometimes," Derek retorts.

Stiles blinks..

"I. Uh. I'm not really a… being-taken-care-of person."

"Well, you're going to become one, then," Derek says stubbornly. "This is the way it's going to be."

"You—"

Skype chimes on Derek's computer.

"You planned that!" Stiles cries, pointing an accusing finger at Derek.

Derek smirks.

"You—you asshole!"

"Get over here," Derek says. "And pinch me if I start to say Fuckface instead of Faakhir."

Grumbling, Stiles drags himself off the bed and nudges until Derek gives him half of the chair to sit on.

Laura appears on the screen, sitting in Fuckface's lap. He appears to be eating her hair, and she's giggling and shrieking in a way that makes Stiles want to vomit.

He recalls with desperation the Laura from high school, who had proudly gone stag to prom.

Next to him, Derek shudders.

"If we ever become like that—" Stiles breathes, lowest of low.

"Never," Derek vows.

 

Two days later Stiles ties a newly-made totem around Derek's wrist.

He wakes up the day after to a bowl of cereal already poured for him. The marshmallows are arranged in the shape of a penis.

I can live with this kind of caring, Stiles sends, and makes sure to slip a few condoms into his backpack before he leaves for class.