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Stiles’ eyes flutter closed and he tips his head back, moaning as the other guy kisses him. His thoughts come hazy and scattered; he’s not entirely sure how he got here, but the guy he’s with is aggressive and insistent, biting at his lips and licking into his mouth with a wolfish growl that makes Stiles’ knees go weak. He’s only staying upright because the other guy has him pushed against his Jeep, pressing his whole body against Stiles, grinding their hips together hard. Stiles’ hand is scrabbling at the guy’s shirt, warm palms skittering across his absurdly muscled torso. Stiles’ other hand is tangled in his thick, dark hair.

“Stiles,” he groans, and Stiles opens his eyes to see Scott staring back at him.

“AAAUGH!” Stiles yells, jerking away from Scott and…tumbling off his bed in a mess of flaily limbs and tangly covers. He lies on the floor for a while, panting, willing his erection to go down because he does not want it.

“Worst. Sex Dream. Ever,” Stiles finally says aloud to his dark and empty room. And then, resentfully, jerks off while thinking only about Princess Amidala. Who is a girl. With boobs. Because he likes girls. And also boobs.

And even if he didn’t, Stiles tells himself, Scott McCall is like the antithesis of all things sexy. He’s basically a sexual black hole. Everything he touches turns to, like, primordial ooze levels of unsexy. Seriously (Stiles insists - still to himself), are we forgetting that one time Scott made a comment about how Number Six from Battlestar Galactica had an asymmetrical mouth, and then every time Stiles watched her, all he could think about was her asymmetrical mouth? And it’s not like Scott really has room to talk, considering his stupid, asymmetrical face. But Scott ruined Tricia Helfer for him, so the fact that Stiles is having graphic make-out dreams about Scott is just a betrayal by his subconscious, as far as he’s concerned. But it’s fine, whatever, your subconscious does crazy shit, right? Soooo…let’s all agree to never speak of this again, Stiles tells his subconscious. His subconscious does not respond.

 

But when he gets up for school the next day, sleep-deprived and hollow-eyed with the horror of what he has witnessed, Stiles realizes this is gonna be a bigger problem than he thought.

“Hey dude,” Scott says, popping up at his locker before first period. Stiles freezes. Do not think about Scott making out with you, do not think about Scott making out with you…CRAP.

“Hey,” Stiles says carefully.

Scott cocks his head at him. “You OK? You smell kinda funny.”

Stiles laughs slightly hysterically. “Sure, of course, why wouldn’t I be?” he says in a voice that’s a little too high to be believable.

“Um…OK?” Scott asks, giving him a weird look. “So anyway, I have an awesome story from werewolf training last night. Boyd brought over this pineapple, and then he and Derek made this bet…”

“Uh huh,” Stiles says, trying not to look at Scott and trigger flashbacks of last night’s trauma. He wonders if Scott would catch him before he could fling himself out a window and make a break for it.

He’s actually calculating distances in his head when Scott goes, “Seriously, man, what is going on?”

“Huh?”

“I just showed you a picture of Derek glowering in a “Bieber Fever” T-shirt, and you didn’t even laugh! Is someone dying or something?” Scott’s eyes widen. “Ohmygod Stiles, are you dying?”

“What? No, I’m not dying, dumbass. I just…had a weird dream last night?”

“I get that,” Scott says sympathetically. “But don’t worry. If you dreamed you accidentally mauled your girlfriend, it probably didn’t actually happen.”

“It would be hard,” Stiles agrees. “Considering my lack of girlfriend.” Or boyfriend, says his subconscious. Shut up, what do you know? Stiles tells his subconscious back. And since this conversation is skirting dangerously close to Scott-related things Stiles would rather suppress, he’s desperately glad the bell rings just then.

 

But Scott is annoyingly persistent when he wants to be, so at lunch, the first thing he says when Stiles sets down his tray is, “What was your nightmare about?”

“I forget,” Stiles says shortly, staring at the gelatinous, goopy mass that is supposed to be chicken pot pie.

“Dude, I know you’re lying,” Scott sighs. Stiles thinks it’s the one werewolf power he really regrets Scott having (aside from the loss of control and homicidal urges, obviously). “Was it scary? Was it embarrassing? Was it like that time you dreamed about eating S’Mores and bit my hand and we thought I had rabies? Was it—”

“Ugh, fine, itwasasexdream,” Stiles mumbles.

Scott winces. “Oh, sorry, you don’t have to—”

“About you,” Stiles finishes, because now that he’s started, he may as well tell the whole sordid truth. Scott’s mouth snaps shut.

“Oh. Oh. Um…I’m flattered? But see, me and Allison, I know we’re broken up, but--”

“Ohmygod, please stop there. I don’t like you. That’s what made it weird. It was like, I was just making out with some dude, and all of a sudden you were there, and it was confusing and gross.”

Rude,” Scott objects. “Lotsa people are lining up to have sex dreams about me.”

“Yeah, well, they can have mine,” Stiles grumbles. There’s a long pause, in which they both stab at their pot pies half-heartedly.

“I hope,” Scott begins, with an earnest puppy dog look up at Stiles, “that you know, if you have any confusing feelings or…moments of self-discovery…you can tell me, right?”

“Huh?” Stiles asks, still focused on whether he just saw something in the pot pie move.

“You know…just…I’m here for you. If there’s anything you ever want to share. Any identity you want to…identify with…”

“Dude, I’m not gay,” Stiles says, finally catching on. “Unless...do you think I might be? Is that a possibility? I didn’t know dreams were allowed to do that! Crap.”

“I think that’s something you need to figure out for yourself,” Scott answers wisely, squelching his pot pie around his plate.

“How the hell am I supposed to do that? I am not at all prepared to deal with this kind of introspection.” Stiles gets the weirdest feeling that his subconscious is just deliberately messing with him now. That bastard. Scott, meanwhile, is deep in thought.

“In every great hero’s story, there comes a time when he must put aside childish things, and engage in a journey of reflection in order to understand his true nature, and the source of his power. He goes out into the desert, only to come back a changed man. Superman…Buffy…Jesus. It’s totally a thing.”

“So…you think I should go on a vision quest to find out if I’m secretly gay and secretly in love with you?”

Scott nods solemnly.

“Dude, that’s awesome! You’re gonna help, right?”

“Of course!” Scott answers, affronted. “I’m your Spirit Guide. Whatever you need, buddy.”

“So…where do I start?”

“Don’t worry about anything,” Scott assures him. “I’ve got this.”

 

***

 

Stiles is seriously reconsidering placing his trust in Scott when he swings by to pick him up that night, and Scott directs him out towards the woods.

“Wait, we’re actually going into the desert? I thought that was a metaphor! Why can’t I engage in a process of self-discovery in, like, the boy's locker room? I feel like that's traditional.”

“The desert is a metaphor,” Scott says, rolling his eyes. “Because we’re in a forest right now? Duh. And anyway, you need solitude and isolation to complete your quest. Honestly, it’s like you’ve never even seen a sci-fi movie, it’s embarrassing.”

“It’s cold,” Stiles mutters resentfully, but he follows Scott out of the Jeep and into the woods, their flashlights throwing up weird shadows as they bob against the trees. Stiles really hopes there’s no supernatural evil in the woods tonight. That would suck.

Scott seems to have somewhere specific in mind, because he leads Stiles very deliberately toward a clearing about 10 minutes away from his car, and settles down on the ground.

“OK,” he says, his face distorted by his flashlight. “So first we have to meditate. Relax. Find your Inner Stiles.”

Apparently, his Inner Stiles, much like his Outer Stiles, gets easily bored. Scott is watching him narrowly, like he expects Stiles to immediately have a revelation and burst into exposition-y and feelings-vomit-y song. Clearly, Stiles needs to wean him off Glee. Which Scott insists is just a guilty pleasure he watches “whenever it’s on,” but Stiles has seen Scott’s TiVo queue. Scott has no secrets from him. And really, after Santana and Britney broke up, was there really any point to—oh. Right. He’s supposed to be self-actualizing.

Stiles squints his eyes open. Scott is playing on his phone.

“Dude!” Stiles exclaims. Scott looks up guiltily. “I’m going through a personal crisis, and you’re playing Angry Birds?

“I’m sorry! This is just…really boring.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Stiles sighs.

“I thought this might happen,” Scott says wisely. “Sometimes the hero is resistant to the messages of the Spirit Realm. It’s cool. Because there are some other things I could try…”

“Go for it.” Stiles thumps Scott on the back.

“OK, so see that cave?” Scott points his flashlight a distance away, where there is, indeed a cave. It’s small and dark, with jagged rock edges around the sides.

“I’m sorry, what’s gonna happen with the cave?” Stiles doesn’t know if it could even properly be called a cave. More of a hole? Or maybe a pit. If you want to be literal about it. Which apparently Scott does not. 

“OK, so you’re gonna go into the cave--”

“There is no way I’m doing that,” Stiles assures Scott, but Scott ignores him.

“So once you’re in the cave, you have to face the darkness within you. The possibility that you may turn to the Dark Side--I mean, have sex with men.”

“You’re just blatantly stealing from Empire Strikes Back right now. You know that, right?”

“…No I’m not.”

“Oh my God, I’m supposed to be Yoda.”

“Stiles! I’m your Spirit Guide. That means I know best, and it means you have to do what I say! Remember?”

“Ugh, fine, I’ll go sit in the creepy, dark, wet cave. But if there are any bats, I’m screaming like a girl and making you come rescue me.”

“Stiles, if there are any bats, I’m running away. Do you know how many diseases those things carry?” Grumbling, Stiles walks toward the cave.

“What if there are wild bears in here?” Stiles calls to Scott, who’s currently settling back down in the clearing with his flashlight and his phone. To play more Angry Birds, Stiles thinks resentfully.

“I’d smell them. Probably,” Scott yells back.

“I hate you,” Stiles informs him, before he ducks into the cave. It is exactly as cramped and gross as it looked on the outside. The rock floor is covered in rotting leaves, which, as Stiles discovers when he flings himself down on the ground, doesn’t do much to make it comfortable.

“Ow,” Stiles mutters, rubbing at a newly scraped elbow. He shines his flashlight around, and resigns himself to sitting against the cold stone until a respectable amount of time has passed, and Scott has gotten sick of Angry Birds, and they can all go home and forget the entire mortifying experience.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to figure this stuff out. It’s his life, after all. He’s the one having the disturbing dreams featuring Scott McCall. So yeah, he’d kinda like that to stop, and maybe he does need to do some self-examination. Open himself up to…whatever it was Scott was trying to get him to open himself up to. But it’s like, so many of his formative teenage years were spent being Lydia-sexual (except, unfortunately, not in a fun way), that this all feels weird.

But Stiles appreciates that Scott is trying. Most dudes, when they hear their best friend had a sexy dream about them, would not be all cool about it and offer to be your Spirit Guide. Most dudes would probably stop talking to you out of sheer embarrassment.

Stiles exhales loudly and scrunches his eyes shut.

OK. Sexual epiphany. Go.

And that’s when Stiles hears the crunching noise from the inside of the cave. His eyes shoot open and he scrabbles up from the floor of the cave, where he promptly drops his flashlight. It bounces away with a crunch of plastic that echoes alarmingly off the cave walls, going out in the process. Stiles can hear it rolling around somewhere, but his eyes haven’t adjusted to the darkness well enough to see it.

“Scott?” he asks quietly, hating the way his voice wobbles a little bit on the word. The noise is getting louder. It sounds like footsteps on wet leaves, and why didn’t Scott tell him there was another entrance to this cave?

A figure looms in the back of the cave. Stiles makes an unflattering squeaky noise and shoves himself up against the wall. The figure stoops to the ground, and Stiles’ flashlight clicks on to reveal Derek. Glaring at him. Of course.

Stiles lets out a shaky laugh.

“Are you my epiphany?” he asks stupidly, which he’s totally gonna blame on the adrenaline and the terror and all that stuff.

“What are you doing here?” Derek asks. And of course, that’s the moment Scott chooses to use his werewolf super-hearing powers, bursting into the cave and proclaiming happily,

“We’re going on a vision quest to explore Stiles’ sexuality! Wanna help?” Stiles actually thinks his entire body blushes. Can that even happen?

“…No,” Derek says. But he doesn’t leave. Stiles and Scott stare at him. Derek stares back.

“These woods are dangerous,” Derek finally says, like it is actually causing him pain to form the words. Stiles laughs at him.

“What, you think we’re gonna get mauled by deer? Or, like, a squirrel?”

Derek glares at him.

“It’s not a joke, Stiles. You shouldn’t be out here.” Derek’s eyebrows are scrunched in an angry “V” that usually means someone’s about to get punched, or thrown up against walls, or shoved into a steering wheel…not that Stiles is speaking from experience or anything. But now Stiles is having a weird flashback of Derek shoving him into a wall - as Derek occasionally does; it actually seems to be one of his favorite hobbies aside from scowling in silence and pacing moodily in his burnt-down, drifter-hangout-slash-crack-den of a house – and huh, apparently even Stiles’ flashbacks can’t stay on topic. He’d make a terrible Pensieve.

And Stiles is still thinking uncomfortably about the wall-shoving, and feeling grateful that there are no walls in the forest. Though there are trees. Stiles abruptly wonders what it would feel like for Derek to shove him against a tree, crowded close against him, pupils blown out and ducking down against Stiles’ neck, his teeth grazing Stiles’ throat and his mouth--

 “…and since we are here,” Scott is in the middle of telling Derek, bringing Stiles crashing back into the conversation. Scott’s stance is wide and voice is a little too loud. “What are you gonna do about it?” Derek’s eyes flicker from the aggressive tilt of Scott’s shoulders to Stiles, who is desperately trying to suppress the fact that his wall-shoving “flashback” has gotten a little more sexual than he’s used to. He can feel his cheeks flushing under Derek’s gaze, and he suddenly can’t remember what to do with his hands. He finally settles for sticking one in his pocket and rubbing the back of his neck with the other, and he must look like a completely helpless, awkward idiot, because Derek sighs and says,

“Fine. I’ll help with your…whatever. If it’ll keep you out of trouble.”

“‘I don’t go looking for trouble,’” Stiles quotes, with a sidelong grin at Scott. “‘Trouble usually finds me.’”

“Don’t I know it,” Derek mutters, moving toward the entrance of the cave. “C’mon, Harry Potter, and if you have a magic map, I’m confiscating it.” Stiles can’t help it, his mouth drops open and he stares at Derek.

“What?” Derek asks, looking blankly at Stiles.

“You recognized a Harry Potter quote? You actually have some hidden depths,” Stiles marvels, shaking his head at Derek.

“I read,” Derek tells Stiles, sounding slightly offended, but Stiles shrugs.

“Actually, that was a fact that was up for some debate. Because while you might consider punching a book in the face reading…” Derek rolls his eyes and looms in an annoyed fashion in Stiles’ direction. It’s OK. Stiles is used to it.

“Wait, what are we talking about?” Scott asks, squinting his eyes in confusion.

“You’re officially fired as my best friend,” Stiles informs him. “I’m sorry Scott. But I do have certain needs.” Scott perks up like he’s finally figured out what’s going on.

“Right! That’s the whole point! OK, so clearly the whole cave thing was a bust. I definitely thought Luke Skywalker was the way to go with this one. Sometimes there are magic bonfires, in these things. Maybe we need a bonfire! We could make a burning bush?”

“That’s a fire hazard,” Derek tells him shortly.

“OK, Smokey the Bear, we’ll keep that in mind,” Stiles tells him. Derek scowls. Stiles kind of hates that he finds it attractive. Seriously, was there something (possibly hallucinogenic) in that stupid cave?

Stiles knows what Yoda would say: Only what you take with you.

Perfect.

Guess that answers all those lingering questions.

“No, but what are you actually doing out here?” Derek is asking Scott.

“Like I said, we’re on a vision quest. Stiles is having confusing sexual feelings, and--”

“Please stop,” Derek says, getting a hunted look on his face and very carefully not looking at Stiles. Stiles can sympathize. “Just…if you two start smoking peyote, I’m calling your parents.”

“We won’t,” Stiles assures him. “Or will we? That would be kinda awesome, because let me tell you, this vision quest, up until this point, has been kinda traumatizing, and maybe drugs would--”

“What’s peyote?” Scott asks. Stiles sighs. Resignedly, he settles back down on the ground in the clearing, kicking at a few leaves with his feet.

“Well, I guess we should try something else,” Scott says, frowning like he’s thinking hard about it. Stiles opens his mouth. He’s not sure what he’s gonna say. Actually, dude, your stupid Star Wars ripoff totally worked; I’m a Gay Jedi now! Or maybe: Well…turns out I’m having confusing sexual fantasies all the time now, about everyone I know and barely like, so I think we’ve figured out this whole sexual orientation thing. But then he looks at Derek, who’s scowling at him like Stiles just ate the last piece of his peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, and Stiles shuts his mouth abruptly. Yeah, no way is he having a conversation about being sexually attracted to Derek, in front of Derek. He’s already gone through enough today, okay!? Also, Derek would probably smack him, and unfortunately, Stiles is starting to think he wouldn’t super mind. And that would just be awkward for everyone.

So he just sighs, and says, “OK, Scott, what’s next?”

“I came prepared.” With a proud flourish, Scott pulls a stack of photos out of his backpack.

“We’re going to do a Gay Rorschach Test,” Scott says, like Stiles should be thrilled.

“That’s not a thing,” Derek says shortly.

“Why do you have a headshot of Heidi Klum in your backpack?” Stiles asks.

“It’s part of the Test! You hafta free associate. So…what do you see?”

“…Heidi Klum.”

“Also, there’s a weird guy in the background,” Derek offers helpfully.

“Derek, stop messing it up, you’re interfering with the psychic energies,” Scott whines.

“Heidi Klum’s psychic?” Stiles asks. “Is that a thing? Can people be psychic? I mean, they can be werewolves, right, so why not--”

“Stiles! What do you experience when you see this picture?” Scott shakes it a little bit.

“Mostly concern. Derek’s right, that guy looks super-creepy. Is he wearing an animal pelt around his neck?

Scott gives an exaggerated sigh, like Stiles is the one making things difficult here.

“Fine. What about this one?” He flips to a picture of Anne Hathaway.

“Um, I have loved her ever since The Princess Diaries,” Stiles breathes. “All those internet haters have no clue what real talent looks like.”

“I thought her Fantine was a little melodramatic,” Derek mentions off-hand, like he hasn’t just driven a sword through Stiles’ heart.

“I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you,” Stiles snaps at Derek. Derek and Scott both look slightly disturbed.

“Ookay, moving on,” Scott says, as if he didn’t already remember the unfortunate phase where Stiles practiced his Royal Wave in the mirror every day, and…actually, it might be better if he didn’t remember it. Also, Stiles is starting to think that maybe this whole Questioning his Sexuality thing didn’t come out of complete nowhere…

“Alright, what do you feel when you see her?” Scott flips to a picture of Gina Torres.

“Turned on. Also, a little bit scared.”

“That settles it. You definitely like girls,” Scott says, with a satisfied nod.

“Well we already knew that, or did you miss the whole past-and-potentially-ongoing-except-it’s-kinda-obvious-she’s-actually-in-love-with-Jackson-in-a-‘I-would-feel-like-a-douche-breaking-them-up-if-I-actually-ever-had-a-chance-anyway’-way thing with Lydia?” Stiles takes a deep breath. Scott rolls his eyes.

“Kinda hard to miss,” he assures Stiles. “And I was just trying to be thorough. Like, all scientific method and stuff.”

How is this method scientific?” Derek asks, raising his eyebrows at the next picture - a paparazzi shot of Angelina Jolie drinking a Starbucks.

“Just tell me what you feel about this one,” Scott grumbles resentfully, holding up a picture of Brad Pitt. Derek’s face does some weird tightening thing, and Stiles wonders idly what Derek’s problem is with Brad Pitt. Maybe Derek is an avid Jennifer Aniston fan? Weirder things have happened.

“Aw, no way,” Stiles complains. “He’s in that weird, scruffy, long-haired homeless phase right now. Nobody can take him seriously.”

“Fine,” Scott huffs. “Just imagine it’s, like, Fight Club Brad Pitt.”

“Um, but he was crazy in Fight Club,” Stiles reminds Scott. Obviously he’s not gonna be sexually attracted to anyone who was crazy in Fight Club.

“Yeah, but—whatever. What about Troy Brad Pitt?”

“It was historically inaccurate,” Stiles says simply. “What’s the next one?”

“Argh, fine! Daniel Craig, he’s hot, right?”

“I dunno, man. His ears kinda stick out in a weird way, right?” Stiles sticks out his tongue pensively as he studies the picture. “Yeah. Definitely sticking-out ears.”

“OK, um…what about him?”

Robert Pattinson? How are we even friends?” There’s a ghost of a smile on Derek’s face now, and Stiles almost grins back before he remembers that then it would be pretty obvious that Stiles has been secretly looking at him, and also, that he doesn’t actually like Derek. Anne Hathaway-hater that he is.

Scott sighs and holds up the next picture, a glamour shot of Jensen Ackles from Supernatural. Stiles rolls his eyes.

“C’mon, no fair!” he tells Scott. “That’s not a good test – a 1,000 year old tortoise would find Jensen Ackles sexually attractive. And yeah, maybe the 1,000 year old tortoise is decrepit and lives in the ocean and probably hasn’t gotten any for 970 years, so I guess it would probably be sexually attracted to anything, but…point is, the dude has, like, a crazy perfect facial structure.” Scott turns the photo towards himself and frowns, like he’s thinking deeply about the issue. Finally, he nods decisively.

“Yeah,” he pronounces. “I get that.”

“Right? Seriously, look at his jawline.” Scott tilts his head.

“He does have a nice jawline. No wonder that angsty angel is so into him.”

“He has funny eyelashes,” Derek interrupts abruptly.

“Ookay, that’s a really weird thing to care about,” Stiles informs him.

“I just…” Derek begins, and stops. “Also, his chin is weird,” he adds resentfully, and turns his head so he’s brooding out toward the forest.

“Thanks for the input?” Stiles tells him, shooting Scott elaborate looks to the tune of, Why did we invite the unstable Alpha to an exploration of my subconscious again? Scott widens his eyes and shrugs. Since Derek is clearly not participating in this conversation any more, Stiles turns back to Scott and claps his hands expectantly.

“OK, whatcha got next?” This is starting to get fun.”

“Oh, um…those are all the pictures I brought. Why, do you think they unlocked any hidden urges in you?”

Stiles thinks for a moment. “Not…really?”

“Well…OK…I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this, but…” Scott pulls out his phone and hits a speed-dial number.

“Operation Tom Cruise is a go!” Scott hisses into his phone.

“I’m sorry, you named my bisexual awakening after--Oh Holy God!” Boyd has shuffled into the clearing, wearing nothing but skin-tight Jeans, a sexy fireman helmet, and bright red suspenders that were clearly never intended to actually hold up pants. His eyes widen when he sees Derek, but Scott flaps at him in a way he clearly believes is subtle.

“I’m supposed to incite your passion,” Boyd recites in a miserable, dead-inside monotone. Stiles sympathizes.

“Please don’t,” Derek says.

“Boyd. Have you been hiding out here half-naked just in case Scott maybe calls you?” Stiles asks. Boyd looks to Scott for a cue.

“He wants to be supportive,” Scott assures Stiles, giving Boyd a grin and a thumbs-up. Boyd shivers. Stiles isn’t sure whether it’s from the cold or the horror of his situation.

“Is it possible he could maybe put his clothes back on?” Stiles asks Scott, wincing.

“So no passion incitement? …Huh. What about if I...” And Scott is suddenly completely wolfed out, bounding over to Boyd with a roar. Stiles squeals and trips backwards over his own feet, careening into Derek. Derek clearly is not expecting a person to suddenly cannonball into him, so he overbalances and then they’re both on the ground in a pile of leaves. Stiles can feel his face flush red; he’s struggling to disentangle his limbs from Derek’s, but everything he does just seems to knock them over again.

“Scott, what the--” Derek begins, after he’s managed to right himself. And then Stiles realizes that Boyd hasn’t moved, hasn’t tried to defend himself. Instead, he looks down at Scott’s claws poised at his throat, and sighs heavily.

“Help, help. I am in danger,” he mumbles. “Without immediate intervention, I may die. Who will save me?” He looks at Stiles with a plaintive hope that is clearly not an act.

“Scott, what are you doing?” Stiles says, throwing out his arms. Scott’s teeth retract enough for him to ask,

“Feel any strong emotions? Any repressed urges coming to the surface?”

“None but the urge to slap you,” Stiles assures him.

But Scott is still going: “…Any, like, eyes turning white and skin tattoos glowing?”

“Do you steal all your ideas from movies?” Derek asks.

“Hold on,” Stiles interrupts. “Are you trying to activate my Avatar State by threatening my friends?”

“…No? Is it working?”

“You think the power of my Avatar State is gay sex? That’s a little…no, wait, actually that would be kinda cool. OK. I’m open to that possibility.”

“See this is good! We’re making progress! Open…to…possibilities. Interesting…”

“Not those kinds of--aah, whatever.”

“Can I go home now?” Boyd asks, shoving at Scott’s claws. “Also, I want my 20 bucks.”

“You had to pay Boyd to help me on my journey of self-discovery? What part of that is supportive?” Stiles asks in outrage.

“The fact that I only asked for 20 bucks,” Boyd says simply, which, fair.

“Yeah, whatever,” Scott says, kicking at the ground. Boyd grabs the cash and actually flees. “I’m sorry Stiles, I’m a crappy Spirit Guide.” Aw, Scott’s dejected face is making Stiles’ heart melt. Dammit! And it’s not even fair, because Scott’s Spirit Guiding totally did work, Stiles just…can’t tell him about it. Maybe ever. He’s weirdly conscious of Derek standing behind them, just looking at him, and God, could Derek be creepier if he tried? Of course, leave it to Stiles, the minute he decides he likes boys, to pick the weirdest, most dysfunctional guy to have a thing for. If Derek starts going all Heathcliff and kills his dog or something, Stiles vows, his attraction is so going to be over. Hopefully.

“You’ve been a great Spirit Guide,” Stiles assures Scott, patting him on the shoulder. “We totally bonded over Jensen Ackles’ beautiful face, remember?” Scott perks up.

 “Yeah,” he admits. “That was fun. OK, well, there’s one more idea I had.” He looks oddly uncomfortable, and Stiles feels a sinking feeling in his stomach. If Scott is uncomfortable with this, Stiles is definitely afraid. How much worse than Stripper!Boyd can things really get?

Scott turns to face Stile head-on, his eyes wide and serious.

“Stiles. You’re my best friend. You’ve been there for me whenever I needed it. Like, seriously, whenever. And I’m gonna be there for you, whatever you need. OK?”

“O…kay?” Stiles answers, unsure where this is going but fearing it deeply.

“So, because I love you, except not, you know, in love with you, I will make out with you. For your own good.”

Stiles makes a noise that sounds like “Blaghl!” and shoots backward away from Scott. This time, Derek is prepared, and he grabs Stiles’ shoulders with steadying hands before Stiles tumbles into a tree. His hands are shaking, and it takes Stiles a minute to realize that Derek is silently laughing.

“No, seriously!” Scott’s earnest, enthusiastic face is actually managing to make all of this ten times weirder. “I’ve thought about it! How are you s’posed to know who you like making out with, unless you try and see?”

“Pretty sure that’s not how it works,” Stiles mumbles, trying to suppress the horrifying memories of his dream last night, which Scott has now managed to help resurface. Derek is still laughing, and Stiles can tell because he hasn’t actually taken his hands off Stiles’ shoulders. Derek must think he’s just constantly in danger of toppling over, even when just standing there. Which would be annoying and kind of insulting, except it’s kind of hard to think of anything when he can feel Derek’s hands, warm through the fabric of his sweatshirt.

“No, it’s perfect,” Scott announces, like he’s already resigned himself to sacrificing everything for Stiles, and so help him, Stiles is going to sex Scott up, dammit! Stiles kind of wants to die. He thinks fast.

“No, Scott, remember, in the dream it was just weird. You’re too good a friend, it’s like…my sibling. I am in no way sexually attracted to you. It would just be awkward and another one of those things we can never speak of again.”

“Ooh, I get it,” Scott says. “Like the thing with the Pez dispenser and the neighbor’s cat.”

“What’s the thing with--” Derek begins.

We never speak of it,” Stiles hisses warningly at them both.

“OK, fine, I guess you can’t kiss me,” Scott muses. He lights up like he’s just had a brilliant idea. “Hey, what about Derek! You’re not friends with him.” For a moment, the sensation of Derek kissing him against a tree resurfaces in his mind. The image hits Stiles like a wave and then subsides, leaving only heavy panic in its wake. Behind him, Derek abruptly stops laughing and pulls his hands back like Stiles has burned him. Of course, the thought of kissing Stiles makes Derek want to get as far away from him as possible.

“No!” Stiles manages to gasp out. “Terrible, terrible idea, Scott!” Because as much as it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to kiss Derek (to do a lot of things to Derek, his annoyingly loud inner monologue points out), a painful “Take me now” moment, orchestrated by his best friend, isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of. Also, he can practically feel the unhappiness radiating off of Derek right now, and it would be awesome if this day didn’t culminate in a humiliating rejection for Stiles. Just this once.

“You’re right,” Scott muses. “Derek probably sucks at making out, he’s too scowly.” Stiles makes an alarmed noise at Scott, and belatedly, Scott adds,

“No offense, Derek.” Stiles can’t even look at Derek’s face right now, so he’s not sure what expression Derek is making in response. But because Scott is apparently as oblivious as a potted plant, he keeps going:

“OK, so the perfect make-out person would be someone you’re not super-best-from-birth-friends with, but someone you actually like.” Scott has his phone out and has hit speed dial before Stiles can protest.

“Hey, Isaac, so…”

“No!” Stiles bursts out, and grabs the phone from his hand. “I am not making out with Isaac just to see if I’m secretly bisexual!”

“Why not?” Isaac’s voice is tinny and indignant through the speakerphone.

“Because I’m not making out with anyone,” Stiles practically shouts into the phone.

“Well, not with that attitude,” Isaac sniffs back.

“No, I don’t want--” Stiles throws his hands into the air. He has no idea how to finish that sentence. He doesn’t want his friends to pity-kiss him, doesn’t want to kiss some random dude just as a test, doesn’t want to be having these conversations with apparently everyone he knows. Doesn’t want Derek to be avoiding his eye. But he can’t say any of that.

“Hang up,” Derek commands Scott.

“But--” Scott and Isaac both whine.

Now. You’re done here.” Scott is muttering something resentfully about Quest Hijacking as he snaps the phone shut and stuffs it in his pocket. Stiles is staring at the ground.

“It’s OK, dude,” Scott assures him. “Next weekend, we can totally go to that awesome gay bar we found where Danny got venomed. I’ll be your Spirit Wingman!”

“Thanks, Scott,” Stiles sighs. They begin to trudge back towards where Stiles’ Jeep is parked at the edge of the forest. Derek kind of follows, like he wants to make sure they’re actually leaving.

“What were you even doing in the woods, anyway?” Scott is asking Derek while Stiles does a valiant job of pretending that Derek doesn’t exist.

“Going for a run,” Derek says shortly, and Stiles can’t help it, he turns around and stares.

“You’re wearing jeans,” he tells Derek, blinking. “And a leather jacket.”

“…Yeah?” Derek is giving him a weird look.

“Just…you know what, never mind. I don’t even want to know what your weird fetishes are,” Stiles mutters without thinking. And then his brain catches up with his mouth, and he turns bright red again.

“Not that I think you have fetishes. Not that I think about your fetishes. I’m just…gonna keep walking,” he tells Derek and Scott, tripping a little over his feet as he wheels back around, valiantly ignoring the funny look Derek is giving him. So he’s only half-listening to Scott’s and Derek’s conversation behind him, until they arrive at the Jeep and Scott says,

“…so since your new apartment is on the other side of town, Stiles can drop you off after me.”

“Wait, what?” Stiles asks. Clearly he should have been paying more attention, because Scott and Derek both give him identical eye-rolls, in a way that’s actually more than a little disturbing.

“Derek’s apartment is between my house and yours,” Scott tells him like he’s an idiot. Stiles ignores him.

“Where’s your car?” he asks Derek.

“I went for a run,” Derek says, like that should answer all his questions, instead of making absolutely no freaking sense.

“Then why can’t you run back home, too?” Stiles asks. Derek gives him a dirty look. Seriously, is Derek just going to follow him around everywhere now? Is that their new thing? Because he is not OK with that thing. Everything is confusing and feelings-y enough already, Stiles has decided. No more.

 

The car ride to Scott’s house is the awkwardest of all awkward rides. Scott starts out by engaging in a cheerful monologue about all the guys in Hollywood Stiles could now potentially have sex with, as if the thought of banging Neil Patrick Harris (who is in a committed relationship. With children. Really, Scott?) was the one enticement that would decide his sexuality once and for all. And Stiles didn’t think anything could be worse than hearing Scott speculating blithely about whether Zachary Quinto is a gentle lover, but when the grouchiness radiating off Derek reaches Chernobyl proportions, and Scott trails off uncertainly, Stiles kind of thinks the silence is worse.

When they reach Scott’s front door, he tumbles out with a sense of desperate relief, like he’s afraid someone’s going to yank him back in. You and me both, buddy, Stiles silently tells his fleeing back.

And then it’s just him and Derek.

They’re about five minutes from Derek’s apartment when Derek actually speaks, startling Stiles so much he almost takes out someone’s mailbox.

“Scott shouldn’t have made you uncomfortable like that.” Derek’s voice is low and gravelly, and he’s facing out the window so all Stiles can see is the tense line of his jaw. It takes a few minutes for what he said to actually filter through, and then Stiles nearly runs over someone’s recycling bins. Because what?

“Oh, dude, it’s not a big deal. Scott’s setting is pretty permanently on ‘uncomfortable,’ so I’m used to it. This one time, we found this huge cardboard box of cockatoo feathers in the community theater dumpster, dyed like really garish, and--”

“Just, you don’t have to let anyone pressure you,” Derek interrupts, and he sounds kind of like he’s eating rusty forks.

“I know.” Stiles blinks at him. Derek is still looking resolutely out the window.

“Or rush into things. You like to figure stuff out right away, I know, but…there’s time. And when there’s someone you feel…something about…you’ll know. Trust me. I--”

Stiles has pulled up to Derek’s apartment, and Derek chokes off mid-sentence. Without another word, head still ducked away, Derek slams open the car door and bolts out. He’s gone before Stiles can say anything, but it’s not like he even could. He’s too busy staring at Derek’s empty seat with his mouth hanging open. Derek just talked to him voluntarily. About feelings. And actually? Derek gives surprisingly good advice, for a guy who usually has the emotional capacity of a constipated bear. Stiles knew Derek probably had hidden depths, but this is like, Marianas Trench levels of hidden depths. He’s not entirely sure how to deal with it.

Still dazed and blinking, Stiles puts the car in gear and drives home. He’s surprised he even makes it there.

 

He’s just falling asleep that night, in that drowsy half-wakeful state where shadows seem to flow like water around him, when he hears something outside. It takes him a few moments to recognize the sound of the window slithering open, but when he does, he’s instantly awake.

A tall shadow is ducking through, and Stiles is just about to start screaming like a horror movie co-ed for his dad, when the shape resolves itself into something familiar.

“Oh my God, Derek, are you trying to set some sort of creeping-up-on-me record? There’s only so much looming out of the darkness a guy can take in one night.”

Stiles can see Derek’s eyes go wide. “Oh. You’re awake,” he says, sounding shocked and extremely uncomfortable.

“I’m a-what!? Dude, are you hiding in my bedroom to watch me sleep? Is this like a Pack thing? Because even including the whole fiasco with the scent marking, this may actually be the creepiest thing you’ve ever done.”

“No…” Derek starts. Stiles sits up in bed and stares at him.

“No…this is not the creepiest thing you’ve ever done?” he finishes helpfully.

“No, it’s not a Pack thing,” Derek clarifies, the admission sounding like it’s being dragged out of him. “And I wasn’t watching you sleep.” He’s stepping closer to the bed now, and Stiles can see his face more clearly. He looks awkward and defensive, which is not a look Stiles has often seen on Derek. It’s disconcerting.

“I just…thought you might need to talk,” Derek finally sighs. And suddenly he’s right there, next to the bed, leaning down so his face is only a few inches away from Stiles’. Stiles can feel the heat of Derek’s body, his eyes flickering involuntarily down to Derek’s mouth, which is so close and Stiles’ heart is suddenly thumping so loud…

“Talk?” Stiles squeaks, and his brain takes a break from repeatedly buzzing “what the fuck” to briefly appreciate the irony of Derek offering to talk.

“It was stupid,” Derek says, and turns to go. Stiles hand shoots out and grabs the sleeve of Derek’s jacket. They both stare at it in surprise.

“Um,” says Stiles, even as he’s tugging at Derek’s arm, pulling him down to close the distance between them. And then Derek is kissing him, hard and desperate, hands tugging at the back of his head, pulling him closer like Derek is greedy and impatient to have all of him, all at once.

It feels like Derek is stealing his breath, tilting into his mouth with a groan. Reluctantly, Stiles tips his head back to catch his breath, panting. Derek makes an impatient noise, and presses against his chest with one hand, pinning him down like Derek is afraid he’ll escape.

“Stiles,” Derek moans, and the breathless sound of him nearly undoes Stiles. It’s like something snaps inside him, and all he can see are Derek’s wide eyes and gasping, swollen mouth in the dark. And Stiles’ hands are sliding under the hem of Derek’s shirt, ghosting against Derek’s warm skin, and Stiles doesn’t remember how they got there, but he doesn’t care because he wants to touch Derek everywhere, and these clothes are in the way. They suck and they need to come off.

Stiles tugs at Derek’s shirt, pulling him down toward the bed and on top of himself. Derek lets himself be pulled, and ends up tumbling in a slightly graceless way to lie flush against Stiles’ body, head tilting back down to kiss him again, slow and deep this time, but still desperate. He leans into Stiles’ neck, teeth ghosting against his collarbone in a way that makes Stiles gasp and arch up against Derek’s body.

Derek’s hands are running along the hem of Stiles’ flannel pajama pants, and Stiles thinks for one hysterical minute that if he’d known he’d be making out with Derek Hale, he probably wouldn’t’ve worn his ancient Pokemon pajama bottoms, and Derek seems to agree, his hands are tugging against them like they’re a personal affront, and Stiles kinda knows how he feels.

He squirms a little bit under Derek, to get a better angle on helping him with the pants –

And then he’s suddenly crashing to the floor in a disturbingly familiar tangle of twisted sheets and blankets, clutching his pillow in a way that he realizes is quite obscene. He stares from the manhandled pillow, to the empty room around him, to the moonlight streaming through his shut window.

“Oh fuck me,” he practically screams into his pillow, and unfortunately he means it literally. Except not to the pillow. It’s probably endured more than enough of that, tonight.

This time, he doesn’t bother thinking about Princess Amidala. She doesn’t even come close.

 

EPILOGUE

 

Scott is away

Stiles: hey dude, thanks for helping with the vision quest stuff tonight

          you were awesome :)

          and btw, never said thanks for that mix cd you gave me on fri

          i put it on my ipod last night, but i think id already fallen asleep by the time it came on

          totes listening to it now tho

Sent at 1:10 AM on Saturday

Stiles: OMG

          this mix seriously starts with hungry like the wolf?

Sent at 1:13 AM on Saturday

Scott has returned

Scott: it’s just a good song ok?

         god

Stiles: why is there an R Kelly song?

Scott: Ignition? Because of your jeep. You know, cuz we drive around in it all the time

Stiles: that’s…not what that song’s about

Scott: huh?

Stiles: it’s not ACTUALLY about a car. it’s all innuendo

Scott: no way!!!!

         get your mind out of the gutter stiles!!!!

Stiles: no seriously

Scott: this mix is about our FRIENDSHIP

Stiles: pretty sure this next song just blatantly said something about having sex with your friend

          soooo…you sent me an uncomfortably sexual mix cd and then i listened to it while i slept

          huh

          no wonder i started having awkward dreams about you

          OMG THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT

Scott: no wait, which one had stuff about sex?

Stiles: ummm… “lying with your friend?”

          do you even listen to these lyrics????

Scott: noooo its LYING, like not telling the truth?

Stiles: argh WHY does everyone have so much trouble with this homonym?

Scott: dude, that word’s offensive to gay people

         not cool

Stiles: ………

          you know what, I’m just gonna let that one go

Sent at 1:33 AM on Saturday

Stiles: anyway, whats up with all the animal stuff?

Scott: cuz im a werewolf DUH. it’s an important part of our friendship. also it’s just personally meaningful to me

Stiles: okkkk

          you know all these songs are about sex, right?

Scott: what? no they're not.

Stiles: “wanna feel your powers, stun me with your lasers, your kiss is cosmic, every move is magic”?

          need I go on?

Scott: it's about the unique experience of being a supernatural creature! Katy Perry totally gets it.

Stiles: Dude. No.

Sent at 1:38 AM on Saturday

Scott: anyway, not all of them are about sex. Not the Toy Story one.

Stiles: clearly you’re not reading the same fanfic as me

Scott: gross

Stiles: no grosser than putting “ET” on a FRIEND mix. Im surprised im not MORE sexually confused right now!!!

Scott: anyway I’m pretty sure the next one’s just about animals?

         “my fingers claw your skin, try to tear my way in, you are the moon that breaks the night for which I have to howl”

         and the song is called HOWL. CLEARLY about werewolves

Stiles: yup. And a metaphor for sex

Scott: seriously???? next you’re gonna tell me that song about mammals on the Discovery Channel isn’t really about watching tv

Stiles: Bad Touch? you didn’t really put that on here, did you?

Sent at 1:47 AM on Saturday

Stiles: ……….

          i hate you

Sent at 1:50 AM on Saturday