“I need curtains,” Derek says as soon as Stiles opens the front door one Saturday afternoon. “For the loft.”
“...okay.” Stiles rocks on his feet nervously. “And you’re here because, what. You’re gonna steal mine?”
“What, no, I just…” Derek awkwardly pulls on the cuff of his jacket, and Stiles finds himself oddly charmed by the way his fingers peek out of the overlong sleeves. “I’d like a second opinion.”
Stiles gapes. “It’s curtains, not a lung biopsy. Just get some plain linen ones. Black. Like your overwrought soul.”
Derek gives him an unimpressed look. “You’re all going to be spending a lot of time in this place,” he says, sounding rueful about it already. “I’d like it to be comfortable.”
“Comfortable? Last time we were all there you didn’t have anything to drink except tonic water and black coffee. Also there was blood all over your couch.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Derek says, embarrassed. “Are you coming to Macy’s or not?”
“Yes, obviously, I’ll get my coat.”
Though he can’t say he’s given any serious thought to how Derek would behave in a department store, Stiles isn’t actually surprised at all when he turns out to be one of those obnoxiously cautious shoppers who agonize and second-guess and change their minds fifteen times before circling right back to their first choice and rendering the whole process pointless.
“Definitely the navy sateen,” Derek says, decisively (finally). “With the steel rod. Yeah?”
Horrifyingly, hearing Derek say ‘steel rod’ makes Stiles go hot all over. “It looks better with the brass,” he says, not for the first time. He shuffles back a few steps and holds his hoodie discreetly in front of himself, because Derek’s rubbing the hem of the drapery slowly between his fingers now and Stiles is pretty sure it’s not socially acceptable to be aroused by window treatments. “And brass would match that floor lamp we liked, with the blue striped shade?”
Derek makes a tiny considering sound. “You’re right,” he says, grabbing two brass rods off the hardware shelf.
It might actually be the first time Derek’s taken his advice without fighting him on it. It’s fucking curtains, though, so Stiles refuses to feel all gooey about it. Refuses.
“Show me that area rug you thought would look good in my bedroom, again?” Derek asks, looking expectantly at Stiles over an armful of navy sateen, and it’s no use. Stiles melts like butter in a microwave.
“I can’t believe no one else wanted to go to this thing,” Stiles says, smacking the dashboard of the Camaro for emphasis.
Derek swats at his hand. “Get your grimy paws off, I just got this whole thing detailed.”
“I’m gonna lick it if you don’t promise to get me popcorn,” Stiles threatens, ducking closer to the leather. “I’ll do it, too. I get crazy when I’m hungry, and you made me read boring research notes about alpha bites all afternoon instead of eating food.”
“I told you I’d feed you, calm down.” Derek glances at him sideways, and then quickly cuts his eyes back to the road. “You didn’t have to come. When everyone else said no, I mean.”
He sounds a little sad about that, actually. Stiles tries not to smile. “Dude, don’t take it personally, they all had dates tonight. Nothing you could offer them would be more exciting than the possibility of getting laid. Not even a Hitchcock double feature, apparently.”
“Teenagers,” Derek scoffs—companionably, like he’s not including Stiles in that category. “What happened to the kids in this town? The drive-in’s going to go bankrupt unless they start screening the big blockbusters, and then it’ll just be another soulless megaplex.
“Oh my god, you’re such a hipster,” Stiles says, completely delighted. “Tell me: how many records do you have on vinyl?”
“How many ironically-stupid t-shirts can a person wear before it stops being ironic?” Derek shoots back, gesturing at the shirt under Stiles’ blazer that says MUSTACHE RIDES 5¢.
“Yeah, I got sent home early for this one, once,” Stiles says fondly. “Even though I don’t have a mustache.”
“Shame,” Derek says, lip twitching. “You’d look very distinguished.”
Stiles waits until they’re stopped at a light before flicking Derek’s ear, because he’s all about road safety.
At the drive-in Derek buys him an absolutely gargantuan bucket of buttered popcorn, but he makes Stiles stop chewing it during all his favorite scenes—which is convenient, because it means Stiles is able to hear the tiny sigh Derek lets out when Cary Grant kisses Eva Marie Saint at the end of North by Northwest.
“You know what the shot of the train going into the tunnel symbolizes, right?” Stiles says around a mouthful of popcorn, swinging his legs over the gear shift so he can nudge Derek’s hip with his foot. “Do you? It’s very risqué. Adult werewolves only.”
“No tunnel is going to let you drive your train through it if you’re always talking with your mouth full,” Derek says primly, and Stiles nearly chokes to death on a wayward kernel.
Derek pats his ankle.
“We can’t just bluff our way out of this one,” Boyd says insistently. “The trolls will see right through it; we’ve tried it too many times before.”
“Exactly,” Stiles says, grabbing one of the takeout containers and spooning a huge helping onto his plate without even checking what it is first. “We’ve tried and succeeded. It shouldn’t have worked with the alpha pack last year, or the fairies back in August, or that wizard three months ago who wanted Scott and Erica as his beta gladiator slaves. And yet.” He stuffs his mouth full of garlic naan and then spreads his hands illustratively. “Every single time. I say go with our strengths.”
“And by ‘strengths’ you mean ‘bullshit,’ right?” Scott says, grinning. He and Allison are leaning against the bottom of Derek’s couch and sharing a container of channa masala. Boyd, Erica and Isaac have commandeered the entire couch, and Derek is on the floor with Stiles because he gave up the last remaining chair to Lydia in a fit of unexpected gallantry (Stiles might have smiled a little goofily over it, but he’s pretty sure nobody saw).
“I’m still kind of pissed off that wizard didn’t want me for his werewolf blood sports,” Boyd says. “I’m basically twice Scott’s size.”
“Hey!” Scott says, spraying rice and plum sauce everywhere. Derek winces and twitches in the direction of the kitchen, like he’s thinking about going for the cleaning supplies.
“That must have been rough for you, sweetie,” says Erica drily, stealing Boyd’s root beer. “What with nobody wanting to force you to kill your friend with your bare hands, and all.”
“Whatever, it would have been nice to be asked,” Boyd grumbles.
“Bleh!” Stiles yelps, because he’s just taken a giant mouthful of the random green stuff on his plate. “What even is this?”
“Saag paneer,” Derek says, smirking at him. “I knew you’d hate it. You hate everything with spinach in it.”
“Well why’d you let me take half the container then, jackass?”
“I like your face when you try new things and don’t like them,” Derek says, leaning over to snag some of it with his fork. “You always look like you’ve been personally betrayed.”
“It’s pretty hilarious,” Scott agrees, and oh no. It’s nice that Derek and Scott are getting along now, but if they’ve started teaming up to mock Stiles then it’s definitely not worth it.
“I dislike both of you more than I dislike spinach,” Stiles declares, taking a samosa off Derek’s plate and biting into it viciously. It’s so delicious that his grumpiness dissolves. “Mmmm, oh god, I love the potato ones.”
“I know,” Derek says, dropping another one on Stiles' plate.
“Aww,” Lydia says, and when Stiles shoots her a glare she just arches her eyebrows and takes a delicate bite of chicken.
Stiles is about to beat Scott at Mario Kart when the doorbell rings. He lets his dad get the door, unconcerned until Derek barges into his living room and says “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Um.” Stiles drops his controller. He glances over at his dad for help, but he just shrugs and sits back down at the table with the Sunday paper. “Good morning?”
“I told you I’d be gone all day Saturday to take care of some business in San Francisco,” Derek says, slowly, like he’s waiting for Stiles to catch up. “I let you know two weeks ago.”
Stiles’ heart drops. “Oh my god, I forgot about Brumhilda.”
“You forgot about Brumhilda,” Derek agrees thunderously.
“Okay, what,” Scott says, throwing his own controller onto the coffee table. “Who the fuck is Brumhilda?”
“Language,” calls Stiles’ dad from the kitchen. “But actually, yeah. Who’s Brumhilda?”
“Mrow,” says Brumhilda, darting out from behind Derek’s legs and leaping up onto Stiles’ lap.
“Hey, Broom-Broom,” Stiles sighs, burying his fingers in the fluffy white fur at the scruff of her neck. “Sorry, baby girl.”
“Broom-Broom,” Scott repeats faintly.
“Stiles, I’m fairly certain I told you no pets,” says his dad, coming over to look at Brumhilda over the back of the couch. “Especially this one. This one looks like a shedder.”
“Oh, she is,” Derek says, leaning down and scratching under Brumhilda’s chin. She head-butts into his palm, purring loudly.
“She’s Derek’s,” Stiles explains, trying to keep his heart from speeding up just because Derek is hovering close and petting a kitten, get a grip. “Some asshole left her in a box outside Deaton’s a few weeks ago and Derek bonded with her, it was amazing. Love at first sight. They basically ran toward each other in slow motion through a meadow.”
“When Stiles first saw her, he squealed,” Derek says mildly.
“It was a sneeze,” Stiles says, trying to appear dignified while Brumhilda starts kneading his stomach with her tiny paws. (It totally wasn’t a sneeze, but Stiles defies anyone to not have a similar reaction when faced with Derek cradling a fluffy kitten against his chest.)
“Can we talk about the name, though,” Scott tries.
“No,” Derek says, scooping her up and tucking her under his chin. “She clawed up the entire couch, Stiles. Next time you say you’re going to check on her while I’m gone, how about you actually do it.”
“Stop nagging me, I said I was sorry!”
“I don’t think you did, in fact.” Derek glares at him over Brumhilda’s head, and Stiles is already mentally calculating whether he can afford to buy her one of those awesome felt-covered climbing-trees to make up for his negligence.
“Okay, just. Okay.” Scott holds both of his hands up, looking frazzled. “You two basically co-own a cat, how did I not know about this?!”
“I have to go,” says Derek, ignoring Scott completely. “Sorry to bother you, Sheriff.”
“Good to see you as always, Derek,” says Stiles’ dad, saluting him with his coffee mug. “I apologize for my son.”
“You suck,” Stiles tells him, picking up his controller and starting a new game. “Derek, we still on to go running tomorrow morning?”
“Yeah, okay,” Derek says grudgingly. He flips Brumhilda on her back in the crook of his arm, so he can rub her belly with gentle fingers. She wiggles ecstatically. “Six miles, and I’m not slowing down for you this time. I’m going to run you into the ground.”
“If I die, you’ll have nobody to watch your cat,” Stiles points out.
“Brumhilda, though?” Scott says.
Stiles barrels through the hospital’s Emergency entrance, making a beeline for Mrs. McCall as soon as he spots her. “Oh god, where is he, what the hell?!”
“What the hell is right,” she says grimly, keeping her voice low. “Something was strange about the arrows we pulled out of him. He’s not healing as fast as he should be.”
“Can I see him? Did you call anyone else?” Stiles takes out his phone and tries to compose a mass text that doesn’t sound hysterical. “How serious is it? Is he conscious?”
“I’ve only called you, so far,” says Melissa, taking his phone away from him gently (a wise move, since his group text so far reads DEREK PROBABLY DYIGN!!! and that’s not going to be helpful to anyone). “And, speaking of—since when are you Derek’s emergency contact?”
“Oh, that.” Stiles shifts his weight nervously, feeling his face go red. “I’m not sure. A few months, maybe six? I volunteered. He hasn't had one since Laura… yeah.”
“Well, that’s…” Melissa puts a soothing hand on the back of his neck, and Stiles sways toward her, feeling dizzy and groundless. “He’ll be fine, Stiles. He’s stable, he’s lucid. In considerable pain, probably, but he’s handling it well.”
“Yeah well, it’s Derek. Handling pain is kind of his main skill.” It’s not even a joke, that’s the worst part. Stiles takes a deep breath. “Okay, let’s do this. Can you contact Deaton for me? I shouldn’t be near a phone right now, and also I need to go find the tackiest teddy bear in the entire gift shop.”
“Get him the purple one with the little t-shirt that says Get Well Bear-y Soon,” Melissa suggests as she dials Deaton’s number. “It’s completely hideous.”
“You’re the coolest,” Stiles says, and runs off to grab Derek a brownie from the cafeteria. He always wants chocolate when he’s been bleeding.
“When were you going to tell me you got into Yale,” Derek says when Stiles shows up at the loft to get Derek for their run. “This is a big deal, Stiles.”
“Good morning to you, too,” Stiles huffs, bending down to greet Brumhilda as she winds around his legs. “And it’s not a big deal, actually, because I’m not going. How’d you find out about that anyway?”
“Your dad is telling everyone, I think. I ran into him at the store yesterday and he told me. And then he told the kid restocking the cereal.”
“Ugh, dad,” Stiles mutters, feeling equal measures of pleasure and humiliation. “I specifically told him not to make a big deal. I’m going to Berkeley, I told you that.”
“Why?” Derek crowds in close suddenly, eyes sharp and jaw tight, and Stiles is so intimidated that he steps back until he hits the wall. “How could you turn down Yale? You want to study law, you’re not going to do any better than—”
“Shut up!” Stiles snaps. “I’m not gonna leave you for four years, dude, are you fucking nuts? Berkeley's a great school. And if you say one word about my ‘wasted potential’ or whatever I’m going to knee you in the balls, I swear to god.”
“Leave me?” Derek’s face has gone soft and wide-open, and his eyes are roving all over Stiles’ face like he’s a puzzle to solve. “Leave me?”
“Or, I don’t know, all of you,” Stiles corrects, panicking. “And Dad, obviously. Our cat. Fuck. Your cat, I mean.”
“Our cat,” Derek corrects firmly. He dips in and leans their foreheads together; Stiles squeezes his eyes shut.
“Just…” He reaches out blindly, squeezes Derek’s bicep and holds on. “We’re cool, right? You’re not going to be a jerk about this?”
“Stiles, look at me.”
“What, no. No way.” Stiles’ fingers tighten on Derek’s sleeve—inexplicably, since he really needs Derek to go away and leave him to his humiliation. “I’m going to avoid eye-contact with you for a week or so and then we’re going to continue never talking about this.”
Derek sighs heavily. Stiles feels his breath against his lips and shivers. “You’re my emergency contact,” Derek says, putting a warm hand on the side of Stiles’ neck. “We co-own a cat and I’ve got four twelve-packs of your favorite iced tea in my pantry. Can we please start having sex now so this relationship finally makes sense?”
“Oh.” He opens his eyes. Derek’s face is very close, and very frustrated. Stiles feels a surge of joy so strong that he has trouble breathing through it. “Yeah, yes. Let’s. Take your clothes off.”
“What, I don’t—I didn’t necessarily mean right now,” Derek says, and jesus, his ears are blushing.
“Fine, kiss me, then,” Stiles offers magnanimously, but instead of waiting he flips Derek against the wall and just goes for it.
Derek makes a sound against his mouth, deep and broken like he’s falling apart. Stiles holds him as tight as he can, humming approvingly when Derek wraps his arms around his neck and lets Stiles take his weight.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles gasps when they break apart, pressing a few tender kisses along Derek’s jaw. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know, I totally suck.”
“Well, that’s one way to make it up to me,” Derek says with a smug, dorky smile.
Stiles groans. “You’re so lucky you’re gorgeous. You have literally no game at all.”
“I don’t need game,” Derek says, smoothing his hands down Stiles’ chest. “You’re going to suck me anyway, aren’t you?”
“Every day for the rest of my life,” Stiles promises, tugging Derek backwards toward the bed. “But not in front of Brumhilda.”