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Sourwolf Candy

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Stiles:

x.x.x.x.

Contest! Grand Prize:

  • Lifetime supply of Sourwolf Candy
  • An afternoon with a member of the Hale Family.
  • $10,000 annual scholarship to the school of the winner’s choice!

 

“Wow,” Scott said, staring at the link Stiles just sent him over their Skype connection.  “I wonder why they lead with the lifetime supply of candy.  That’s definitely the least attractive part of the package.  And that package has Sourface and the rest of the Face family included.”

 

“I’m entering,” Stiles said stubbornly.  “I already wrote the entrance essay.  I found that picture of us eating Sourwolf Candy when we were eight, the one taken where I’m smiling with about twelve of them in my mouth and mom managed to get a shot before I projectile vomited all over the stuffed bear I got for my birthday from Gran.”

 

“You were too old for teddy bears anyway,” Scott assured him.  “We were eight!”

 

That was the thing Stiles loved the most about Scott, he really knew how to put things into perspective. 

 

“You’re entering this?” Scott continued, and Stiles could see through the webcam that he was still reading his way through the rules, eyes darting back and forth across the screen, brow furrowed in concentration.  Then, he seemed to remember something.  Something important.  “But you hate Sourwolf Candy.”

 

“I don’t hate it, Scott,” Stiles sighed.  “I could take it or leave it.  It’s not my fav but in a candy bind I’ve been known to partake in a Sourwolf or two.”

 

Scott looked unconvinced.  “You haven’t partaken in a Sourwolf or two since we were eight and you yacked an entire bag of them over Pooh and they got up your nose and the entire world tasted like stomach acid and cheap candy for daaays.  You showed me chunks of it in your snot days later, Stiles.  It was really gross.  And somehow all those colours melded together into a brown sludge when it came out and I haven’t really been able to eat them either.”

 

“I can pretend to love them for a day.”  Stiles brushed Scott’s points – completely invalid points – aside.

 

“I was there, Stiles. I was holding Pooh!” Scott reminded him in a shrill tone.  “I can’t eat those things without traumatic flashbacks, so I would notice if you had eaten them since.”  Scott seemed to think that this was a valid point.

 

“It seems like you’re the one with the problem with them, then,” Stiles shrugged.

 

Scott gaped at him for a moment, his hair flopping over his eyes until he sighed, tilting his lips upwards so he could blow his bangs out of the way as though Scott was The Little Mermaid.  “Ok, fine,” he finally conceded, “but can you pretend to love the Hales?  Because as much as you hate Sourwolf Candy, it’s still just a candy.  You LOATHE the Hales.”

 

Stiles clucked his tongue.  “I don’t loathe the Hales.”

 

Scott looked skeptical.  “You kinda really do.”

 

“I think they’re the poor cousins of families like the Kardashians, only slightly better looking.  Slightly smarter, maybe, though they named their reality show Hale-o and I spent my teen years trying to figure out if that was a pun off Halo or Hello, and both are equally as stupid names for a reality television show.  Smart is relative.  I don’t loathe them… apathy is more what I feel towards them.”

 

“You went as Zombie Hick Derek Hale for Halloween two years ago,” Scott reminded him.  “You made sure the zombie decomposition on your face was so gruesome I thought old Mrs. Bloom was going to scream for real, and then if that wasn’t insult enough, you added plastic hick teeth so Derek Hale couldn’t even have one thing left.”

 

“Have you even seen his teeth?  I was aiming for accuracy.”

 

“Ah huh. The guy has access to some of the best orthodontists in the country, but no, it’s more realistic that all the sugar rotted out at least three of his teeth and he never bothered to look into that.  Admit it, you did everything in your power to make him unattractive.”

 

“Well, yeah! Derek Hale is the world’s hugest tool.  He’s vain and an asshole, and once spent an entire episode of Hale-o trying to find a way to get a parking attendant fired for dinging his car.  Can you imagine what that poor man’s family felt when seeing the real reason daddy lost his job…” Stiles broke off, narrowing perilously close to rant territory.  “I despise Derek Hale and his stupid hair and his stupid teeth and everything he stands for.  Despise, Scott.”

 

Scott made a sound of agreement, eyeing Stiles closely.  “So you’re really in it for the money,” Scott finally stated.

 

Stiles snorted.  “That scholarship would really help my choices.  I want to go to the school mom went to, but it looks improbable at this point.  What are the chances I’ll actually win?”

 

“Really slim?” Scott offered, appearing unsure of what kind of encouragement and support he was supposed to be giving.  “Nonexistent, really.  People don’t actually win contests, I don’t think.”

 

“It could be worse,” Stiles decided, staring at the contest rules.  “At least they spelled Candy and Contest with a C instead of a K.  I’m not defiling all my personal ethos by entering this thing.”

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

[Lost in an image, in a dream, But there's no one there to wake [him] up]

x.x.x.x.

 

Derek’s life was so hard.

 

He was sitting in the meeting room for Hale LTD’s downtown office, watching as his sister and uncle ran the family’s company into the ground, slouched in the opulent rolling chairs and not moving a muscle as the world moved incrementally around him.  Peter was speaking from a horrifically colourful powerpoint presentation that was specifically geared towards helping Laura pay attention to what he was saying.  The first half showed the impact of her spending habits versus the income their family brand generated.  Sadly, Laura’s spending hadn’t gone down in cost, but Hale LTD was doing better this year.  Laura still claimed it was because of Hale-o, despite it being about five years off the air.  Derek privately thought it was because the new sour liquid drops were being widely used in college alcohol mixes, and in one incredibly horrifying viral internet video, as lubricant.

 

“Meet Stiles Stilinski,” Peter said, clicking forward to a new screen on his SMARTboard.  “Winner of our scholarship contest.”

 

Derek didn’t bother sneering because Peter was well aware of how he felt about that.  Derek was of the opinion that if Hale LTD was going to offer scholarships, they should just offer scholarships, none of these other incentive packages to sweeten the deal.  Both Peter and Laura had vetoed that, stating that the Hale image was the important thing here, not the scholarship money.  It wasn’t about the act of funding someone’s education, but allowing America to know they were funding someone’s education. Derek had given up arguing with them a long time ago.

 

A picture of a kid with a mouthful of Sourwolf Candy flashed across the SMARTboard.  He was grinning inanely, gummy wolves falling out of his mouth. 

 

EUGH.

 

Derek wasn’t the fondest of children.  Part of him knew, rationally, that the contest mandated for the contestants to be between the ages of 16-20, but it was a picture of a kid on the screen in front of them and so it was a kid he saw in his mind’s eye when Peter turned to him and said “and he picked you!”

 

“Derek?” Laura asked in her abrasively shrill tone she used when she didn’t get her way and wasn’t sure why people existed on this earth who didn’t agree with everything out of her mouth.  Basically she used that tone in thirty percent of her interactions. “Why would anyone want to spend the day with Derek?”

 

“Derek has many… qualities,” Peter finished, and Derek wasn’t so nearsighted that he didn’t notice that there wasn’t actually a compliment in there.

 

Laura continued.  “Hasn’t the kid even seen Hale-o?  Oh dear, he probably hasn’t seen the show.  That explains it.  Or maybe he has seen the show,” she sneered.  “Maybe he thinks Derek is cool.”

 

Derek was of the opinion that if this kid chose Derek on purpose over Laura, he was probably familiar with his sister’s character.  Derek chose not to let her see the fact he wanted to roll his eyes at this whole charade, because if he had to listen to the resulting hissy fit, he’d be late for his afternoon plans.

 

Not that he really had afternoon plans other than ‘get away from his family and find himself after spending an afternoon as Derek Hale, reality television asshole ™.’  Maybe he’d go to a ball game or see a movie and call it a date.  A date with his sanity, it sounded perfect, because his sanity was always the first to leave him when he had to spend any amount of time with Laura Hale these days.  He’d need to woo his sanity for days after dealing both Peter and Laura in any kind of capacity.

 

“Seriously, though,” Laura continued.  “He’s in for a surprise if he’s looking for a party.  Derek is boring.”

 

“I spoke with him.  He seemed very…” Peter paused, searching for a word.  “Singular.  Lively.  Very keen to spend the day with Derek.”

 

“Lively.  Did you hear that, Derek?  He wants you.  Think you’ll be enough for him?”

 

Derek ignored her and pulled his phone out of his pocket.  No one had texted him.  Huge surprise there.  He was halfway through a chapter of the book he was reading, though, so he had a way to keep himself occupied while Laura ranted about not getting the adulation she believed she deserved from everyone, blowing enough hot air Derek couldn’t say for sure that the central heating hadn’t kicked on while he wasn’t paying attention.

 

Thinking of things to do with a kid who liked shoving whole bags of candy in his mouth couldn’t be too hard, could it?  Was Chuck E Cheese still a thing?

 

“I think I can handle one kid,” Derek told the room at large.   Derek didn’t exactly want to go to the Pier or Universal Studios, but he could probably manage for one day out of his life. 

 

“Oh?” Laura challenged him.  “Where are you going to take him?”

 

Derek shrugged.  “Around Los Angeles,” he answered, quoting the promise right from the contest itself. 

 

“Are you going to show him where all the ‘hot spots’ are, Derek?  He’s going to want you to sneak him into clubs that turn a blind eye to underage rich kids.  He’s probably after a score.  What do you think he’s going to say when he finds out that you don’t even know where to buy marijuana, let alone actual drugs?  You can’t tell him your whole persona is a lie, you signed the non-disclosure agreement.  So,” she continued blithely, “I thought it would be me, but it doesn’t matter.  I’ve given the driver instructions to take you places that won’t get us into trouble by any disapproving parents or bloggers but that will keep most teens so awestruck that this kid won’t even notice how huge of a phony you are.  Just… remember to be yourself and not smile for anyone. Your unhappiness makes you beautiful – beautifully inapproachable and dangerous, and image is everything.”

 

Derek gave her a hard look, but he knew Laura was immune to anything and everything people outside her narcissistic walls said or thought. 

 

“This way you don’t have to come up with ways to entertain a teenage boy using your limited faculties.”

 

“I was a teenage boy more recently than you,” Derek reminded her.

 

“Yeah, but who wrote your character?”  She gave him a sharp smile.  “Just follow the route I mapped out.  It will be fine.  Offer to buy him something at Kitsons that would amount to all of his earnings working as a bag boy at the local grocery shop in the past year.”

 

“He’s not a Gilmore Girls character.”

 

Laura ignored him.  “Treat him to lunch on a patio somewhere with George Clooney or Leonardo Dicaprio or some other actor who will never win an Academy Award.  He’ll go home and talk about how glamorous it was while wishing he was you, though really it was me who did all the work.  It will always be me behind the scenes pulling the strings,” she sighed.  “It seems to be my lot in life to focus the spotlight on other people rather than myself.”

 

Derek bit back another sigh.  For fucksakes.  His sister.  “I can handle this, Laura.”

 

She continued on blithely. “It’s obvious that you don’t know what’s cool to teenagers.  I blame you for the fact there weren’t as many entries to the contest as we thought there would be.  I told you we should have used a K for Candy and Contest.  Teens love that misspelling thing.”

 

Oh for fuck’s sake.  “It only would have been cute if our company always used a K for Candy.  If we tried it now, we’d come off as douches.”

 

“Do you think we should change the spelling?” Laura mused.  “Peter, have your assistant put that on our agenda for the next meeting.”

 

Oh for fuck’s sake.  “No,” Derek answered curtly.  “I think the reason no one entered is because a scholarship isn’t worth the loss of dignity.”

 

Laura snorted.  “If they don’t have the money to pay for college themselves, they don’t have dignity to lose.”

 

Oh for fuck’s sake.

 

“Laura, retract claws from the poor,” Peter spoke up in placating tones.  Derek really had to figure out how to step back from Laura particular brand of crazy, but he thought apathy might have a lot to do with Peter’s skills.

 

Though maybe it was just that Peter was heavily medicated.

 

“He’s going to arrive in a few minutes,” Peter reminded them, looking at his Rolex. 

 

“It’s today?” Derek questioned, mentally going over his calendar of the timeline.  Of course it was today, Peter would have waited for the last possible moment before telling Laura she wasn’t the chosen Hale, because a month of hissy fits and progressively more aggressive passive aggressive comments were something both the Hale men had learned to avoid when possible.

 

“He flew in last night.”

 

Honestly, Derek couldn’t respect anyone who actually enjoyed Sourwolf Candy enough write a two page essay about it and post corresponding pictures.  Derek couldn’t really respect anyone who willingly purchased Sourwolf Candy at all, really, because Sourwolf Candy was disgusting.  It baffled him how anyone ate them with a straight face.  It was rumoured some people loved the candy.

 

And not just as a way to flavour cheap vodka.

 

It seemed stupid to be disdainful of his company’s eponymous candy considering it paid for his condo, and his condo had a doorman who knew not to allow Laura upstairs so it was pretty much his prized possession, but Derek personally thought that people might be able to buy Sourwolf Candy, but they couldn’t buy taste.

 

Maybe that should be their new slogan.

 

His day went from bad to terrible, because Peter might have avoided months of Laura’s bitching, but now Derek would have to go from dealing with his sister to dealing with a child, and he honestly couldn’t think of a worse day.  Maybe if he was the guy from 127 Hours who then had to sit through 2 hours of James Franco.

 

His date with his sanity would have to wait another day.  He just hoped he didn’t lose it entirely in the process.

 

“Stills Stilinski is here,” Peter’s secretary informed them after knocking on the door.

 

Seriously, what kind of nickname was Stills?  Derek was despairing of everything.  It was the kind of name that someone who loved Sourwolf Candy would use, and he was going to have to spend the day with someone who thought that having a nickname like “Stills” made him cool among his football buddies or whatever.

 

A head stuck through the door, all wild hair of today’s youth and narrowed tawny eyes.  “Actually, it’s Stiles,” the guy said with confident tone as he wandered into the room with his hands in his pockets.

 

Stills!” Peter greeted, hopping up from his chair and extending his hand in welcome, and Derek had to hide a smile.

 

Ok, Uncle Peter was usually a terrible person by default, but he had his moments between womanizing, medicating, and being inappropriately hateful towards both Derek and Laura.  Deliberately antagonizing the scholarship winner was one of those.  Derek wouldn’t be surprised if he had instructed his assistant to use the wrong pronunciation.

 

The guy was now fully in the room, and Derek wasn’t sure if he was impressed by the fact this ‘Stiles’ hadn’t dressed to impress them or not.  It was difficult to know when faced with all that plaid, not an irony in sight.

 

Or an iron.

 

It could be worse, Derek supposed.  The kid could actually be a hipster.  Or a jock.  Or any kind of stereotype Derek could think of that wasn’t the small town redneck that seemed to be before them.

 

Stiles was a hickster.

 

He stifled a sigh and levered himself out of his chair.  It was showtime, and Derek knew how to do his duty to Hale LTD without complaint.

 

Or at least without vocalizing his complaints.

 

He just really hated being around star struck people who seemed to think he was on some kind of pedestal.  And this kid would be the worst, since he chose Derek. 

 

“Derek.  Hale.”  He reached forward to shake the guy’s hand.

 

Eyes narrowed at him, chilling almost perceptively as the guy looked him up and down and scowled before reaching out and shaking Derek’s hand with a strong grip. 

 

“Redundant, Bond, James Bond,” the guy said, dismissing him the moment the handshake was over and sitting in the chair Peter had directed him to.  

 

What the…?

 

That was strange, wasn’t it?  Strange for this guy to have requested Derek over everybody else and then give him a look of such hatred when they met that Derek almost felt like his balls were shrivelling? 

 

“Well, I reported for duty.  I’m really excited to get started,” he cast Derek a look from the corner of his eye, and Derek thought that this was it, this was the moment the kid was going to wax poetics or fanboy out over his presence, and it was going to be awful.  “The sooner it starts, the sooner it’s over, right?  And I can get back to the hotel?”

 

“Not exactly,” Peter said with an amused smirk towards Derek.

 

Oh.

 

That was a million times worse.  That was Peter’s plotting, I-know-something-you-don’t face.

 

Derek needed caffeine.  He needed sugar.  He needed to move to England like Cora had in a quest to be as much like Harry Potter as she could be.

 

This was going to be the worst thing to ever happen to him, he was sure.  Derek poured himself a mugful of coffee and added a dash of sugar.  Then he turned and stared at Stiles, taking in how the guy was balanced backwards with his feet on the table, commiserating with Peter about the time television-Derek crashed a Segway into a pool.  Did Peter even think to jump to his defense and point out that it had been a product-placement gimmick?  No.

 

Derek looked down at his mug of coffee and back at the sugar shaker before dumping more in.  He was going to need it.

 

Derek’s biggest secret?  He might hate his company’s candy, but he loved sugar.

 

“It’ll be good publicity,” Peter reminded him, probably seeing the look on Derek’s face as he drank down his coffee.

 

When Derek was twelve he agreed to do a commercial for Sourwolf Candy where, with all his precociousness, he told Michael J. Fox “Don’t be such a Sourwolf.”

 

The line had been scripted – the entire thing was a gimmick some clever PR person had come up with to boost sales that quarter because kids are cute and Michael J. Fox had played a werewolf that one time.  Derek’s grumpy face was plastered over ads everywhere with “Don’t be such a Sourwolf” scrawled along the top.

 

Then it became the catch-phrase of a generation.  He had a cameo on Lizzie McGuire just to deliver it at the age of 12.  Laura had been insanely jealous.

 

It was his own special form of hell because almost a decade later, people still saw him in the street and yelled “Hey! Don’t be such a Sourwolf!” and then laughed as though they were inordinately clever while he hunched in his jacket and scowled.

 

So when Peter said “It’ll be good publicity,” that wasn’t what Derek heard.  What Derek heard was “sacrifice another decade of your life to being recognised and mocked for something you did that one time when you were a kid.”

 

Fine, but if the brat said the word ‘Sourwolf’ just once, Derek was out.

 

x.x.x.x.

Stiles:

x.x.x.x.

The way Stiles found out he won the Sourwolf Candy Contest was like this:

 

The phone rang.

 

Stiles answered it.

 

The woman on the other end said “Please hold for Peter Hale.”

 

Stiles had just enough time to think ‘what the Hale?’ and wonder if the leftover meatloaf he had for lunch had gone bad enough to cause him to hallucinate.

 

But then, if that happened he would never hallucinate Peter Hale.

 

Derek Hale? maybe, because as much as he hated the guy, even he had to admit Derek was good fantasy fodder, but not Peter Hale. Never Peter Hale.

 

“Hello Stiles Stilinski, winner of the Sourwolf Candy Contest.  Congratulations!” 

 

The only thing Stiles could focus on was the fact that Peter had pronounced ‘Stiles’ as ‘Stills’.  “It’s Stiles,” he corrected.

 

Peter paused for a second, the lack of noise obvious over the phone line.  “Is that your response?” he questioned, and though he sounded disappointed, Stiles was sure it was as faked as all of Peter Hale’s emotions.

 

“Oh, I won. Yay.” Stiles said, deadpanned, as he searched the pantry for leftover pudding cups.  He was sure his dad had bought packs of them last week while they were on sale and hid them. 

 

“You’re not excited?  You can say pass.”

 

“Actually, I’m excited about the scholarship,” Stiles answered automatically, and then paused with the realization that he had just gained ten thousand a year to put towards his education.  Holy crap, that was awesome.

 

“How about the day you get to spend with one of us?” Peter questioned in an overly joyful tone, clearly compensating for something.

 

Probably his family’s shitty personalities.

 

Stiles sighed, because clearly he’d have to do this thing before claiming his money, and the way things stood now, he couldn’t be excited about winning until the rest of it was over.

 

Unless…

 

“Look, neither of us really want to do this, so how about I save you the effort of paying for the trip and giving me the real Los Angeles experience,” he drawled sarcastically.  “And you give me a bit more scholarship money for my first year?  I don’t need a trip to LA. I grew up in California. I’ve been to LA. It’s not that great.”

 

“I’m afraid it’s non-negotiable.  Who do you want to spend your day with?” Peter asked.  “If you pick me, I’ll make sure to show you a good time.”

 

Ew, old man flirting.  Peter Hale was kind of skeevy and Stiles had never been sure if he was just this side of creeper or had gone over the line eons ago.  “Pudding!” Stiles crowed, pushing aside the old bag of flour in the pantry to find chocolate pudding cups.  His dad needed to rethink his hiding choices.  Stiles wouldn’t even consider checking the ceiling panels before exhausting all the other options, for instance.

 

Aww yes, pudding.  He was gonna get his snack on.

 

“Excuse me?” Peter asked.

 

“I guess Derek,” Stiles decided uncertainly, figuring that this was his own no-win scenario. His own Kobayashi Maru.  Not even the pudding cup cheered him up.  “But can I at least have money instead of a lifetime supply of candy?”

 

“I’ll see what I can do,” Peter promised in an annoyed tone.  “Stay on the phone and my secretary will work out the details with you.”

 

x.x.x.x.x.x.

 

The hotel room was amazing.  The bed alone felt like he was sleeping on a memory foam cloud, if a cloud actually had 1200 thread count sheets.  He’d spent the first night texting Scott all the reasons why he’d someday need to buy a mattress like that for Allison once they were adults, just because Stiles was a dick and sometimes fueled Scott’s neuroses.

 

But it was a really superior bed. If Stiles was allowed to spend his two night visit in the hotel room, he’d emerge on the other side of this weekend as a happy contest winner.

 

Unfortunately, he had to meet with the Hales.

 

Meeting the Hales rated up there in the list of unfortunate things in that Alanis Morissette song that caused everyone of a certain generation and younger to have no idea what the proper definition of the word ironic was.  Meeting the Hales was the opposite of being the greatest part of the trip to Los Angeles to claim his prize, and Stiles was planning on skipping out on Derek the first moment he could.  According to Derek Hale’s volatile, macho-male-head persona, it wouldn’t be hard to leave him in a public place and grab a bus or taxi back to his hotel so he could spend the afternoon jumping on the bed and ordering in pay per view on the Hale dime.  Derek probably got confused really easily, and Stiles was nothing if not skilled at confusing people on purpose.

 

The only good thing about the Day of Hale ™ was Stiles had a really awesome plan of how to mock Derek Hale without being caught.  Instead of bringing up Sourwolf like everybody else probably did when they saw his sour face, Stiles was going to call him every other candy he could think of.  Seriously.  He had a list.

 

  1. 3 Musketeers
  2. Snickers
  3. Butterfinger
  4. Big Hunk
  5. Toxic Waste
  6. Sugar Daddy
  7. Life Saver
  8. Smarties
  9. Dum Dum
  10. Nerd
  11. Fun Dip

 

And finally, if he was really ambitious and it turned out Derek was particularly dumb, he’d try for 12. Sour Patch Kid

 

The idea was for Derek to never notice Stiles was insulting him.  It was inspired.  Scott had just rolled his eyes at the idea, but Stiles would show him!  If Stiles could once spend an entire day making veiled references to the fact Jackson highlighted his hair, Stiles could mock a celebrity he didn’t even know to his face.  If Stiles could spend a weekend inserting blow job jokes into conversation in front of Allison’s father without Scott being castrated, he could pull this off.  If Stiles could sign his dad up for online dating and then set himself up as the first person his dad connected to, then he…

 

Actually, that one hadn’t worked out very well.

 

x.x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles’ first impression was that the Hale genetics were strong. 

 

Stiles’ second impression was that Derek was just as stunned in person as he appeared on television because he tried to introduce himself.  As if Stiles didn’t know who Derek was.  As if Derek didn’t know who Stiles was, though if he tried to call him “Stills”, Stiles would probably end up throwing him in a vat of liquid, steaming candy.

 

Seriously, why would Derek feel the need to introduce himself?

 

He’d had this dumb, vague hope that Derek Hale wasn’t the character he acted as on television, but nope.  Turned out he was dumb as a rock beneath those large lichen eyebrows.

 

“And here’s the first box of your lifetime supply of candy!” Peter said with a flourish. 

 

Eugh, Stiles’ third impression was Peter was the worst.

 

Stiles was sure he was in some level of hell and that was the Hale-o reference he had never quite figured out.  Not only was he in a room with the three people who singlehandedly drove their own reality show into the ground within two seasons, but he was forced to spend a day with one of them.  It really said something that Derek was the best choice.  Peter might be the least offensive of the three, but the fact he used flirting as a tool in every scenario, even those with someone’s Stiles’ age, made Stiles think of all those stranger danger warnings he had to sit through as a kid, and then all the subsequent lectures from his father about how Stiles had just as much to worry about from his funny uncle as he did a stranger.

 

Stiles did not have any creepy uncles, but Peter brought back the particular trauma of those warnings and made Stiles realize ohhhh, that was what his dad meant

 

It almost made him forget about the real issue at hand, which was that he absolutely did not need a lifetime supply of Sourwolf Candy.

 

“Can I at least have them in liquid format? I’d be the most popular guy at every party.  No?  Well, how about the Sweetish Berries, can I have bags of those instead?”

 

“No, we know how much you love Sourwolf Candy.”

 

Eugh, the worst.

 

Stiles stared at the box of candy with the sinking sensation that he had been duped into a day with his least favourite things. 

 

There was only one way Stiles could think of that would make this worse.

 

Every time Stiles thought of Los Angeles, he thought about his mother, because she had loved the city more than anything.  She’d loved everything about it, from Hollywood and the lives of the rich and famous, right down to the seedier aspects.  It felt strange to be there without her in the same way that Beacon Hills was now associated with a familiar sensation of loss, and it made Stiles feel terrible to be there now and unable to enjoy himself.  Knowing his luck, Derek Hale would try to take Stiles to Universal Studios.  It wasn’t like he’d never been to Los Angeles before, he was born and raised in California.  The last time they had made the ten (plus) hour drive, Stiles had been too young to really appreciate any of the places they visited and he kicked up a fuss right in the middle of the tour his mother had made the trip for.

 

When Stiles was in his early teens, before she had gotten sick, his dad had promised they’d go again – next summer.

 

And, well, it was obvious how that story ended.

 

The moral of the story was that the only way Stiles was stepping into Universal Studios was with his dad at his side and a bouquet of flowers for his mom or something equally as sentimental.

 

If Derek Hale even tried to get close to Studio City, Stiles was going to hit him over the head with a box of Sourwolfs and bail.

 

x.x.x.x.x.

 

He might just do that anyway, he reflected, as Laura hinted that she was probably a better choice for the day by aggressively listing all the places in the city he might enjoy while covertly putting her brother down.

 

It might be a mercy knock-out, if Derek’s long-suffering expression was anything to go by.

 

It was kind of funny, but only because Stiles made his own fun by mentally placing thought bubbles over Derek’s head that ranged from ‘my hair looks super fly like a duck’s tail today’ to ‘if Laura doesn’t shut up I’m going to feed her to Paris Hilton’s ego’.

 

That got old right around the time Peter took his hand to bid him adieu and reminded Stiles they’d all meet again for supper and Stiles was left in the meeting room with Derek.

 

“So I think we’ll start with a tour of the office?” Derek questioned, staring down at a piece of paper in his hands, portraying a world of awkward Stiles usually would have sympathy towards, but it was really Derek’s choice whether he actually gave Stiles a tour, so Stiles was not impressed when he actually went through with it.

 

Like, in retrospect, Stiles thought that might be Derek’s problem – going along with stuff, even if he didn’t want to.  Hale-o made a lot of sense if he considered that.

 

Bored. Boredbored.

 

Stiles entertained himself through the tour of the Sourwolf offices by watching how many people saw Derek and avoided him in the hallway (three, which wasn’t actually terrible considering they passed about fifteen people so far), and how many ways he could get rid of the box of candy in his hands.  So far he’d managed to dump a handful into garbage bins, an open desk drawer, an unmanned coffee mug, a plant, and the fountain in the lobby (he hoped they swelled up into being three times their size).

 

Boredboredbored.

 

He was so intent on getting rid of the Sourwolfs that he didn’t even notice the security guard watching him until a hand closed around his shoulder.  Derek was still leading his tour of the perpetually boring, Stiles had tuned him out like a floor before because this wasn’t even the factory that made the candy, it was just the head office, and there was absolutely nothing interesting about a bunch of offices.

 

Boredyboredbore.

 

“Come with me,” the guard said in a tone that was probably menacing, but Stiles had a difficult time taking seriously, because 1. The man worked at a place called Sourwolf Candy, and 2. Stiles’ father was the Sheriff, and that meant that Stiles had a really hard time not humanizing cops and people who worked security.  It was really difficult to see someone as threatening after he’d witnessed the employees of the police station during the annual Fourth of July BBQ and the annual Christmas Party.

 

Derek was about three offices ahead of him, blithely continuing with his tour despite the fact he’d lost his audience of one.  Which, how hard was it to keep track of one person?  How hard was it to entertain one person?  How hard was it to realize the one person you were supposed to account for wasn’t even there anymore.

 

“Derek!” Stiles called out, holding his ground.  “Hale-p.”

 

The security guard took his hand off Stiles’ shoulder and backed up when Derek turned towards them, a scowl on his face.

 

Or it was his normal face, Stiles had no idea.

 

“He’s with me,” Derek said with a nod, not giving the security guard the chance to tattle on the fact Stiles was acting like a five year old.  Then he turned his disapproving expression on Stiles as Stiles walked forward, rolling his eyes at the fact that Derek thought he was intimidating.  Stiles had been more concerned with the security guard, and what was the security guard gonna do?  Throw him out so that Stiles wasn’t able to finish the tour…

 

Aww, damn.  Stiles hadn’t thought that one through.  He could have been escorted out and asked not to return, which would have been such a shame.

 

Such a shame.

 

“Why did you pronounce it like that?” Derek asked suspiciously once Stiles reached him.

 

“What?”

 

“Help.”

 

“What’s wrong with the way I pronounce Hale-p?” Stiles questioned in confusion.

 

Hale….p,” Derek sounded out.

 

“I don’t mock your accent, dude,” Stiles managed to get out in his most affronted tone without laughing.

 

Derek narrowed his eyes.  “You’re making fun of me.”

 

“Believe me, making fun of you is easy.  If I was making fun of you, I’m pretty sure you’d notice it.”

 

“Would I?” Derek mused.  “You seem too clever to use the usual tactics.”

 

“Oh, you’re a Smartie.”  Stiles rolled his eyes, waiting for Derek to look ahead before he threw the candy in his hand at a passing business woman.  Immediately he felt bad because Sourwolfs were hard projectiles and he had done it quickly so Hale wouldn’t notice, and that was bound to bruise.  He checked out of the corner of his eye to make sure he didn’t do any lasting damage, but the candy seemed to have missed the woman entirely.

 

What did Derek even mean when he said Stiles seemed too clever to make fun of Derek the usual way?  Was Derek possibly smarter than he looked?

 

That was a conundrum, because on the one hand it seemed like Derek might be on to him already, which was remarkable all things considered, but then on the other hand Derek had done a bunch of things on national television (and also over the last hour) that indicated Stiles would never have any kind of respect for the man.

 

Stiles waved cheerfully at the security guard as they emerged in the lobby.

 

“And that is the end of our tour,” Derek said in a rehearsed, monotonous tone, and actually stifled a yawn.  It was possible that Derek was just as bored as he was, which was his own fault, really. Stiles had zero sympathy.

 

Stiles gave him a mock gasp.  “What now?  What invariably more entertaining tasks must we perform before this day is over?”

 

Either Derek Hale didn’t get sarcasm or he was attempting to keep his sanity by ignoring everything Stiles said.  Stiles recognised the signs in the dead, glazed eyes looking back at him in a flat manner, as though rebooting from ‘annoyed’ to ‘don’t care’ and getting stuck somewhere around ‘don’t kick the little jerk.’

 

Derek pulled the piece of paper out of his pocket and scowled at it.  “We’re going shopping.”

 

“As in ‘get in loser’?”

 

“What?”

 

“Fetch,” Stiles said sarcastically.

 

“I’m not a dog!” Derek barked.

 

There was a really mediocre sourwolf joke in there if Stiles cared to explore it.  He didn’t.  “Wow, watch a movie.  That one came out in 2004, isn’t that your generation?”

 

“What?”

 

It would be far too easy to just throw out another Mean Girls quote to see the way Derek’s brow crinkled in a combination of confusion and anger, but Stiles was bored now.

 

Derek’s back was turned and Stiles stealthily poured the last handful of candy in the box into the garbage right beside the automatic doors.  He took a step forward and into the blistering heat just as the SUV pulled up out front.  It was the kind that Stiles saw on tv all the time, black and kind of ubiquitous, a vehicle that could blend in with anything on the road. 

 

Cool, Stiles would love to pretend that he was a special agent with the Criminal Investigative Unit or a drug lord, what with the tinted windows, only that kind of honour had been spoiled for him years ago when he first got to be in the back of the Argent SUV.

 

Seriously, the Hales were losing such cool points here.

 

“A friend of mine has a car just like this,” Stiles told Derek, settling into the rich leather seats.  Of course, the Argents didn’t have some of the more luxurious interior, but Stiles was difficult to impress, ok?  Unless there was a minibar, or cloaking technology, or ejector seats, and then this SUV would become a thousand times cooler than anything Chris Argent owned. 

 

He could eject Derek, turn on the cloaking, and relax while consuming the contents of the minibar.

 

“So does a concussive sonic blaster come standard on this thing?” he asked.

 

“It’s not the batmobile,” Derek scowled, staring out the window like he hadn’t grown up in LA and was actually the tourist.  That kind of intentness could only mean he was avoiding Stiles, which was fine.  Stiles didn’t exactly want the attention of someone who thought the batmobile came with a concussive blaster anyway.

 

Stiles rolled his eyes, because for a moment there it seemed like Derek might actually be referencing Batman, but instead it looked like Derek was trying to formulate some kind of bond between them based on making vague references to things he thought Stiles might like, and it was a weak and pathetic attempt.

 

Well done, Derek Hale.

 

That was right around the time Stiles realized he was holding an empty box of Sourwolf Candy, and really, it was kind of an accomplishment that he’d managed to get rid of the whole thing without having to eat a single one of them.  He did feel a little bad about the trail of crumbs he’d left behind him, like a reverse route back to the wicked witch in her house of candy…

 

And hey! That metaphor was kind of apt, Laura Hale considering.

 

Derek’s eyebrow raised judgementally as that one final candy slid in the box Stiles was trying to throw away.  He looked at the box and then back at Stiles with a meaningful look.

 

Aw hell, Stiles was going to have to eat that last candy.  He thought he’d done so well, too.

 

Eating the final Sourwolf in the box wouldn’t be that huge of a sacrifice.  It wasn’t like he forced down the other 200 g.  It would be fine, he could fake his way through one.  Stiles smiled around the last candy, a particularly disfigured wolf head in a puerile green colour.  He was tempted to just swallow it whole, but knowing his luck it would get lodged in his throat and Sourwolf himself would have to perform a Heimlich.  The only reason Stiles was sure he would try was the fifteen minute sermon Laura had given both of them about smiling for the camera. Stiles consoled himself with how uncomfortable his day-mate seemed to be the entire time.  If there was one person in the world who disliked Laura Hale more than Stiles did, he was sure it was Derek.

 

Finally, Stiles forced himself to swallow (which, he imagined, wouldn’t be an entirely foreign experience in his life) and grinned at Derek.  “Well, one box down of the lifetime supply.”  He tried for cheerful, but he was afraid it came off sounding bitter because Derek gave him an inscrutable look that was all eyebrows and sneered lip.

 

“Here,” he said, shoving another box into Stiles’ hand.

 

“Where the heck did that come from?” Stiles questioned incredulously.

 

Derek gestured to a basket beneath the seat of the SUV.

 

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Stiles mumbled.

 

Derek’s head jerked sharply towards him and Stiles wondered if he had something against swear words or something – though he wasn’t sure how Derek had even heard him.  Stiles had elite mumbling skills.

 

“MmmmMMMmmmmMM,” Stiles covered when Derek stared at him as he opened the package of candy.  “So worth it,” he told Derek, grinning and bearing it as he ate a yellow wolf that tasted like a combination of lemon and Mr. Clean.  The scholarship, he meant.  The scholarship was worth almost throwing up in this swanky car, because the scholarship would give Stiles a lot of leeway about which school he would choose.

 

“We’re here,” Derek noticed in an unhappy tone.  Stiles was really feeling the enthusiasm.

 

Well played, Derek Hale.

 

“Do we really need to go shopping?” Stiles asked, seeing the line of stores extending in front of him, each more pretentious than the last.

 

“Do you have anything to wear to supper tonight?” Derek asked, dare Stiles say it? Derek almost seemed hopeful.

 

Stiles gestured down at his outfit.

 

Derek sighed, surveying Stiles with an unimpressed expression.  “Then yes, we need to go shopping.”

 

Shopping bleh.  Derek was going to regret that decision.

 

Stiles was not going to make it easy for him.

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

[Smile for the camera, 'cause they're all about to trash ya]

x.x.x.x.

 

No matter what Laura recommended, Derek would never be in the mood for Kitson.  It was more like Kitschon, right? Right?  That was just asking for trouble for various reasons, half of them starting with the word “pap” and the other half ending with the fact that Stiles’ personal style looked like it came directly off the rack there, but at a significantly smaller cost, and that they’d probably end up standing in the store for three hours while Stiles touched everything and loudly claimed he was pretty sure he could buy something similar at the dollarstore.

 

So Derek took him to his favourite men’s wear store, a place where the prices were a little high, but for items that were worth the cost (mostly), and where they could pick up something for Stiles to wear out to supper with his sister of the discerning tastes. Alterations could be done on sight, but without the whole ‘custom made’ tailor thing, and basically it was the best decision Derek made all day, because it would make his life easier rather than harder.

 

Laura’s itinerary?  Like everything she ever did, made his life so much more difficult.  Derek wouldn’t have been surprised if she specifically picked Stiles because she thought Derek would hate him on sight, and then feigned a hissy fit so he wouldn’t suspect.  She’d be right, because Stiles seemed like nothing but an annoyance, and the things out of his mouth?  It was like the writers of Glee walked around in his brain scripting things.  Actually, Derek couldn’t be entirely sure this wasn’t some new reality television show where a famous person (cue eye roll) was shoved into a situation with their antithesis and forced to spend the day together. 

 

Or Punk’d.  He was possibly being Punk’d.

 

“So I can buy anything?” Stiles asked, hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched as he looked around the store, a bored expression on his face. Stiles was an 18 year old boy from small-town Northern California.  He didn’t need a $20,000 (or higher) suit.  Derek owned three and he wasn’t even sure he needed a $20,000 suit.

 

“Within reason,” Derek retorted.

 

“What’s reasonable?  Give me a limit.”

 

“I don’t know!” Derek snapped back, mentally going through what he could remember of the budget they had left after paying for Stiles’ flight, his hotel, the over the top supper Laura planned, and all the smaller, hidden costs.  Derek imagined it was like $5.  So Stiles would be able to buy a sock.  One.  He couldn’t even get the matching one to make a set, not at those prices.  “Five hu…”

 

“Ooooooh sunglasses!” Stiles exclaimed, and then disproved everything Derek assumed about his tastes by reaching directly for the most expensive pair on display.   “Wow, ok, I look like a douchenozzle in these.”

 

“Everyone does,” Derek grunted in return.

 

“Didn’t you own a pair in Hale-o?  Yeah, that scene with the pool and the eye-searing Hawaiian print swim shorts.”

 

Oh for fuck’s sake.  He did own a pair. “Product placement.”

 

Stiles shot him a curious look that Derek didn’t even want to try to interpret.  No matter what Stiles thought he knew about him because he watched some stupid show that had been off the air for half a decade, it was pretty much guaranteed to be wrong.

 

“How about these?”

 

Those Derek owned and actually liked, so he just shrugged in return.

 

“Yeah, I like these,” Stiles decided.  “But I don’t know.  Do I like them that much?”

 

“Pick out a blazer or something,” Derek snapped impatiently.  It wasn’t like the next place on Laura’s list was any better, but he’d made a serious error in judgement in bringing Stiles somewhere he actually liked.  He could see it now.  Banned for life from his favourite store.  “You’re going to be having supper in public tonight.”

 

“I’ll have you know I have a blazer that a friend of mine bought from the sale rack at Target.  They make those for rich people too, right?”

 

“Are you trying to be deliberately obtuse?” Derek questioned, barely refraining from pinching the bridge of his nose.  “Rich people have tailored suits, not…”

 

“Oh, then I want one of those!” Stiles exclaimed, interrupting Derek entirely.  Derek looked around to see what it was that Stiles wanted, before realizing he meant a suit itself.  “In a bright red.  It’ll go wonderfully with this year’s prom colours of lime green and magenta, and then I can wear it again at my wedding.”

 

Derek gaped.  “You’ll get one in a normal colour, like charcoal or black.”

 

“Boring you colours,” Stiles pointed out, slipping a second pair of sunglasses into the hands of the sales associate who had just walked up behind them before she was able to start her spiel.  “Do you guys have any of those plastic carrying things, or is that your job?  To hold all the stuff I want to put on the Hale charge card.”

 

“I’m Carrie, and I’m here for your service, sir, but I can find you something to carry your selections in if you wish.”

 

“Kinky,” Stiles decided, staring at a third pair of sunglasses.  “Hugo Boss, he’s the guy who was a Nazi right?”

 

Derek stared up at the ceiling and tried not to picture strangling Stiles too clearly or else he might actually carry through without realizing it.

 

“Correct,” Sales Associate Carrie said. 

 

Wait.

 

What?

 

“Cool!” Stiles said.  “Not the Nazi thing, but that Wikipedia binges give me useful knowledge for my everyday life.  Suits are over there?”

 

“Yes,” she said, trailing after Stiles.  “We have a number of styles ranging from tuxedo to European cut, in a range of colours and materials.”

 

“Awesome, you work on commission, right?”

 

She nodded tentatively.

 

“Consider this a Pretty Woman scenario, only without the prostitution.  I just won a contest to spend a day with Derek Hale, here, and he doesn’t want me to disgrace him with my clothes from Tar-get.”  Stiles gave it a French pronunciation that had Derek wish the ground would swallow them both whole, deposit Stiles in the middle of Target, and leave Derek wherever the hell wasn’t around Stiles.

 

Maybe in front of an actual bullseye in an archery competition or something.  He’d take his chances.

 

“I’m not going to buy a billion dollar suit,” Stiles confided with her.  “It’s a bit extravagant for some who will only wear a suit maybe three times, but if you don’t mind sticking around and helping me through this, Derek will tip you personally.”

 

Derek would give her whatever she wanted if she just kept Stiles from addressing him directly.

 

“We have a very vibrant red silk suit within your budget,” she told Stiles, pulling it off the rack and giving him a charmed, shy smile.  “I overheard you mention one.  But if I can give you advice, I’m not sure it would match your prom colours.”

 

Stiles just stared at it for a moment, unable to form words.  Derek wasn’t really sure what was about to come out of Stiles’ mouth, because on the one hand the suit was terribly ugly, but on the other hand Stiles was wearing green and pink plaid that was way too loose to be purposefully hipster, and so far everything out of his mouth left Derek feeling a shade away from verifying he was being Punk’d.

 

“That’s uhm… wow, it’s really red. And whatsit? Uhm… could anyone pull that off without looking like a mob boss?  Or a villain from the DC ‘verse?”

 

She put the suit back on the rack.  “We can find you something else.  There’s a nice English cut with notched lapels that may suit you.”

 

“Aha, suit,” Stiles said, elbowing her gently.  “Good one.  I bet you’ve gotten tired of saying it, though.”

 

“Barely even notice anymore,” she answered him ruefully, pulling the suit off the rack and showing it to Stiles.  Derek had to give her points on that one, because the few times he’d been shopping with Peter, which was something he never wanted to think about or do again, the sales associate always, always, always deferred to Peter because he was older and supposedly had better taste.  Stiles had already admitted that he didn’t know what he was talking about, but Carrie didn’t seem to mind the fact she was talking to someone who didn’t know anything.

 

“You better show Sugar Daddy,” Stiles said, waving in Derek’s direction.  “It looks fine to me.”

 

God.  Derek internally cringed.  Sugar daddy?  What?

 

“The biggest factor here is fit, so we need to find something that fits your shoulders.  What size are you?”

 

“A large?” Stiles questioned.

 

“Oh honey,” she said sympathetically.  “No.”

 

x.x.x.x.

 

The worst thing about clothing shopping was how boring it was if you weren’t the one looking for new clothes.  It had the same kind of tedium a board meeting with his sister at the helm had, and Derek found himself sitting in a chair in the tiny lounge area off the changing rooms with a glass of sparkling water and a weak cookie that was supposed to discourage him from eating the whole plate.  It worked pretty well, because Derek didn’t even want to eat that one.  He didn’t maintain abs like his by eating gross cookies.

 

He saved his sugar addiction for things that were actually tasty.

 

Stiles was now on his second or third suit, Derek wasn’t really paying attention.  He’d wandered around the store a little to see if they had in any new designs in the jean label he preferred, but they didn’t.  There wasn’t much more for him to do but wait for the guy to finish finding a suit so they could leave.  Contrary to belief, this wasn’t a movie with a make-over montage. 

 

Laura would really have his head if Stiles showed up for supper in a t-shirt.  It was actually a tempting prospect.

 

“Uhm,” Stiles said from within his changing room.  “How do I tell that it fits, because I’m not sure it… I have skinny jeans looser than these pants.”

 

“Come out,” the sales associate said.  “So long as you’re wearing everything and all the buttons are in place.”

 

“Maybe not for long,” Stiles muttered through the curtain.  “I’m not sure it fits,” Stiles said.  “I thought suits were supposed to be boxy.”  He wandered out of his changing room to see himself in the four-angled mirror, craning his head to see his ass.  “Could I sit without bursting the seam?” he asked, hands casually slipping into his pockets.

 

The sales associate went still beside him.

 

Derek brought his eyes down from the string he spotted hanging from the air vent, the only spot of dirt he’d seen since leaving his condo that morning (indoors – anything outside didn’t count).  It made him feel slightly more attached to reality to see it there.  He was actually kind of terrified Stiles had already ruined the suit.  Money wasn’t just money when they were talking about $20,000 – or $7,000 as the case may be.  It was still out of budget, as far as Derek was concerned.  There was a barb on his lips about laying off candy as his eyes travelled down the length of Stiles’ back, not quite taking in the sight of wide shoulders, tapered waist, and long, lean lines until he reached Stiles’ ass.

 

Stiles’ really great, pert ass.

 

.

.

.

 

Wait.

 

What was happening?

 

Derek’s mouth opened as his eyes tracked back up Stiles’ back, this time seeing what was in front of him.

 

Shit.

 

He was definitely being Punk’d because Stiles was really gorgeously proportioned and had the mouth of a virgin porn star and it was really kind of unfair that Derek was noticing this all at once.

 

“Bend over,” the sales assistant said, and her voice was a little breathless. 

 

No, that was a terrible idea.  Such a bad idea.

 

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Stiles answered uneasily.  “These feel really tight.”

 

Such a good idea.

 

“Bending over is a legitimate way to tell. Don’t force it,” Derek coached.

 

Stiles practically bowed at the waist, wriggling a bit as he tested the pants.  Encouraged that they weren’t going to rip, he tried a few more motions by squatting like he was sitting down in a chair, thigh muscles flexing visibly.

 

The sales associate sighed.  “I love my job.”

 

Derek wasn’t sure if he should offer a high five or if that was going a bit beyond the companionable silence they’d adopted as Stiles changed.

 

“Don’t tell anybody I told you this, but Klein, Epstein & Parker have this red suit design like the one your friend described.  Their store is in West Hollywood.  I can get you the details.”

 

“Not really necessary,” Derek told her, discretely checking the price tag on the suit Stiles had finally settled on.  No major alterations needed to be made with the exception of slimming the arms a little, because underneath all those terrible layers, the guy turned out to have the kind of body made for wearing suits.  Marginally expensive suits.

 

“Are you going with it?  The other one didn’t look as good, but it was half the price.”

 

Carrie really understood him.

 

Oh well, it wasn’t like Laura didn’t drop the same amount on shoes every month, Derek thought struggling not to wince.  Sometimes it felt like he was the only one who realized how precarious the company was.  Sure, candy sales were up, but so was the cost of production and sometimes it felt like he was the only one who noticed.

 

Stiles emerged from the dressing room with his clothes back on, but he wasn’t fooling Derek anymore.

 

“This is… really good, isn’t it?” Stiles asked him, smiling in a way that made his face shine in what could be excitement.  If so, that was possibly the first positive emotion he’d seen from the guy.  “I mean… so long as I don’t grow much, I could wear that thing to more than just prom, wedding, funeral.  It’ll be good for job interviews, and dates maybe.  A guy who owns a suit like that is the kind of guy who does stuff like going to the opera and movie premieres and fundraising suppers and… am I that guy?  I don’t know yet, but I could be, right?”

 

There was about as high of a chance of Stiles being that guy as there was of werewolves being real, but Derek couldn’t really crush that kind of earnest potential.

 

“Yeah, let’s go with it,” Derek decided, dropping the price tag.  “Get him some shoes and a tie.”

 

Carrie’s eyes lit up at the prospect of the sale and she dragged Stiles off in the right direction as he paused at a display of shoe horns and eyed them dubiously.

 

Derek was not Richard Gere.

 

He wasn’t.

 

Despite the fact he ended up buying Stiles the three piece suit, spending extra on same-day alterations, a pair of shoes, a bow tie (because apparently they were cool?), a t-shirt that had caught his eye, three dress shirts that actually fit the guy and weren’t plaid, and the two pairs of sun glasses.  Then he paid to have them all sent to Stiles’ room in the hotel.

 

But he wasn’t Richard Gere.

 

“Thanks Carrie,” Derek said as she packed up Stiles’ sunglasses, wrapping each set in tissue paper.  Stiles stared at him with a thoughtful expression.

 

“Did you want to take these with you or should I send them back to the hotel with the suit?” she asked, her attention moving from Derek to Stiles.

 

Stiles hummed in thought, looking between Derek and the sales associate.  “Send them back to the hotel.”

 

Carrie took his card, glancing at his last name as her face lit up.  “Oh! Don’t be such a Sourwolf, he’s going to look great!” she said with a smile.

 

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

 

x.x.x.x.

Stiles:

[Hollywood infected your brain, You wanted kissing in the rain]

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles was actually feeling really good about his suit.  There was nothing like coming out of a changing room wearing something and having the eyes of every single person within a ten foot radius linger on you, including the Sales Associate and Derek Hale.  It made him feel awesome.

 

What made him feel less awesome was the obvious fact that Derek was trying to get some with the Sales Associate while he was in the changing room.  But then, he shouldn’t have expected anything different from Derek Hale, nephew of Peter Hale: playboy.  Derek hadn’t been too obnoxious about it as a teenager with a reality television show, only trying and failing at flirting a few times over the run of a season, but it just stood to reason that he’d developed some game now that he wasn’t catering to an audience of more than one.

 

“Next on the list is…” Derek said as they emerged from the store and Stiles ended up squinting against the sun.  Dammit, he should have kept his new sunglasses on him. 

 

“Well?” Stiles asked after Derek had been silent for a while. 

 

“Dammit, Laura,” Derek said, shaking the paper in his hand.  And ok, so Derek did swear.  That was good to know.  “She never remembers to account for travel time.  She’s lived here all her life and still thinks people get place to place magically.”

 

“Oh yeah, it’s because she falls asleep,” he answered automatically, holding a hand over his face to block the light.  The sun was really, really bright.  Didn’t Derek feel how searing it was?  Probably not, because he had his own sunglasses on and Derek was used to being uncomfortable in the spotlight.

 

“What?”

 

“Ok…” Stiles said, trying to put his theory into words as he got into the back of the SUV Derek had directed him to.  The driver was still in the front seat reading a novel, and Stiles felt kind of bad for him until he thought about what that job might entail.  Driving around a bit, sitting in an air conditioned vehicle for hours reading, maybe stopping in at nearby sandwich shop and getting a sandwich, reading novels, playing on his phone, and all the while wearing a sweet suit.

 

Hey, he owned a sweet suit now.  Maybe he should aim for that to be his future job. 

 

“So, you know how you guys basically have a driver because Laura falls asleep when she’s travelling long distances, and the city is basically one long drive?”

 

“Yeah, sure,” Derek answered. 

 

“So, your sister sleeps through the journey.  Of course she thinks it takes 10 minutes to get to and from places.”

 

“That makes sense,” Derek decided.  “Does it make sense to you, Dorian?”

 

“I don’t get involved in conversations about Ms. Hale anymore,” Dorian said from the front seat.  Stiles made grabby hand for the piece of paper in Derek’s hand as he and the driver had a bonding moment.  He let it go without thought.

 

“Oh, see, I can simplify this for you,” Stiles said, staring down at the itinerary.  “I don’t want to go to Universal anything.  I’ve been to Exposition Park.  Wax museums creep me out… wow, Disney, really?  All in one day?”

 

Derek bit off a sigh and looked at the itinerary, leaning into Stiles space.  “Let’s just find somewhere to eat.”

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“Let’s find somewhere else to eat.”

 

“No,” Stiles said stubbornly, staring at the menu.  “I really want to eat at this traditional… what kind of food is this?” he asked, staring at the trees projected on the cement walls.  The projector seemed to be spinning slowly, like one of those children’s mobiles.  It made Stiles feel like he was in a nature-themed disco.

 

Derek shrugged.

 

“Why doesn’t my phone work?”  That was really the important question.

 

Derek took his out of his pocket and stared at it.  “I never get texts anyway.  I’m not getting a signal.”

 

Yeah, right. “Aw, that girl seemed into you.”

 

“Who?” Derek questioned in surprise, jabbing his phone against the table a few times, like hitting it would make it suddenly work.  “Mine doesn’t work either.”

 

“The sales associate at that store we were in.  She was pretty… your type?”

 

“My type?” Derek echoed back, his eyes tracking one of the trees going around the room. “You mean Carrie?  No, not really.”

 

“Seriously, this place is creepy,” Stiles said, ignoring the waiter as he came up behind Derek without making a sound.  It was like an underground bunker, and had a really unfortunate meat locker feel to it.  “Why doesn’t my phone work?” he asked, aggravated.

 

“A forest doesn’t have wifi, but you will make a better connection,” the waiter said serenely.

 

Derek jumped visibly at the sound of the voice behind him.  Stiles barely refrained from laughing at how startled Derek was.

 

“Is it a 4G connection?” Stiles asked.  Derek stared at him before he started to smirk, snorting into menu as the waiter gave them both an aggrieved look.   That just made Derek shake harder with hidden mirth, obviously trying to get his face back into some semblance of control but failing at it.  Stiles liked that, it made him feel surprisingly warm.  He hadn’t set out to make Derek laugh, and he couldn’t remember Derek laughing on Hale-o at all, with the minor exception of a background scene in season 1 when Laura had become the victim in the fall out from her own machinations, and Derek looked like he was almost peeing himself with laughter.   Season 2 had seen the emergence of the blank-expressioned man sitting across from him, and Stiles pointed at Derek with a smirk of his own, wondering if he could do it again.  “Fuck you Snickers McGee, don’t judge me."

 

The waiter looked between the two of them, aggrieved.  “I see you are still deciding.  I will return.”

 

“Thank you, Christophe,” Derek answered.

 

“Seriously,” Stiles said, leaning across the table.  “What kind of place is this?  The meals are just a number and say things like ‘meat free option.’  Is it… trendy?”

 

Derek was still eying the waiter suspiciously.  “I don’t know.”

 

“I’m not urbane enough for this,” Stiles told him, frustrated.  “I don’t understand not telling people what they’re eating.  How do I know what I want if I don’t know what I’m getting?  And this,” he said, jabbing his finger at the warning sign.  “Tell your server if you have any allergies.  What? So they can then serve it to you and make sure you die and then drag you into the chilly back room and serve you to the next people who come in here?”

 

“Shhh,” Derek hushed.  “They might hear you and kill us both by turning the temperature down three degrees so we freeze to death.”

 

It sounded overly dramatic, but it felt like Derek spoke nothing but truth.

 

“There has to be something redeemable,” Stiles said, looking at all the people dining around them.  “Is that Johnny Depp over there?”

 

“Definitely not.”  Derek didn’t even look.

 

“Want to leave?”

 

“Yeah,” Derek said, standing.

 

Stiles decided he couldn’t entirely hate Derek after that.  Someone concerned with making a good impression on Stiles would talk up a place like this until Stiles was convinced that it was a hot spot, even if it wasn’t.  Derek, on the other hand, seemed just as baffled by the trend as Stiles was, and there wasn’t a lot that he appreciated about Derek Hale, but he could appreciate that.

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

[Let you put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans, be your teenage dream tonight]

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles sighed in relief as they emerged from the restaurant, and Derek eyed him suspiciously as he immediately started moving his fingers over his phone, texting rapidly.  The idea that Stiles was planted to make his day difficult was still a possibility, and Derek wasn’t sure if it was prudent or paranoid to wonder if his sister was attempting to pitch a new show idea and was using him as a guinea pig.

 

“Is there anywhere good to eat around here?” Stiles asked.

 

Derek shrugged.  “Random guess, that place,” he said, pointing towards a restaurant that seemed to be doing decently well over the lunch hour.

 

“Good enough,” Stiles shrugged, straightening his shirt from where it had bunched off his shoulders as he dodged out of the bunker door of the last place they had tried eating in.  He didn’t pay Derek any attention as he dodged people on the sidewalk, still texting and walking with all the skill of someone who grew up with a phone in his hand.

 

Derek didn’t have that kind of practice because no one ever really texted Derek.

 

They entered the restaurant just as a family of four walked out, one of the children tripping and grabbing onto Derek’s leg to balance itself. Himself. Itself. Fuck. Derek didn’t know.  Were children people?

 

If hard-pressed and in a moral debate, Derek could answer that with “yes.” But standing there with a 3 year old wiping it’s snotty nose over his jeans, Derek just wanted to blame the parents standing there with an indulgent smile, and gently pulling the kid away without scolding it or anything.

 

“Wow, your face right now,” Stiles said as Derek continued into the restaurant.  He could feel the unhappy expression on his face, lips curved down in disgust and horror at the small smear of bodily fluid across his knee.  “You don’t like kids?”

 

Stiles seemed delighted by that fact.

 

“Oh, hey, don’t be such a Sourwolf!” the waiter exclaimed, happily, when he saw Derek’s scowling face.

 

He really, really hated his catchphrase.  Sometimes he wondered if that was how Paris Hilton felt.  Bruce Willis.  The Olsen Twins.  The Govinator.  Jeff Probst.  Matt LeBlanc.  Christopher Walken.

 

Though, as far as catchphrases went, Don’t Be Such a Sourwolf was probably less of a knee-jerk reaction to people seeing his face than More Cowbell was.  Mostly because Derek wasn’t all that popular except for with Californians of a certain demographic who were exposed to the commercial for about three years.

 

He probably should have moved out of state.

 

Stiles’ eyes narrowed.  “Oh, hey, you’re a waiter. Are you making us wait, or…?” he trailed off, expression congenial and full of good humor, but there was something about his tone that made Derek give him a considering look, like the joke hadn’t been a joke, it had been a subtle reprimand.

 

And, well… no one had ever really stood up for him before, even if it was done in such a way that Derek couldn’t be entirely sure that Stiles wasn’t just adding to the joke.

 

“If you and your date will come with me,” the waiter said, directing them towards the back.  Derek scowled at Stiles, noticing the way Stiles’ mouth skewed and he studiously avoided looking directly at Derek instead of correcting the guy.

 

That was… interesting.

 

x.x.x.x.x.

 

Derek wasn’t sure what analogies to draw about Stiles’ eating habits.  Stiles ate like he talked, putting his whole body into it.  He hadn’t minded the dramatic hand movements as Stiles told him the story of the time he broke his clavicle trying to mountain bike with his best friend, but it was a whole different thing when the food came and Stiles segued into a tale of his first time surfing and how he’d almost lost his new board because of a seagull with the full fountain cup of Pepsi in his hand.

 

It was aimed directly at Derek’s face.  Of course he flinched.

 

He was surprised that Stiles was still hungry after finishing off 2 boxes of candy in such a short period of time.

 

“Oh god,” Stiles moaned around the burger.  “This isn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it’s really high up there.  The cheese to grease ratio is really good and I think I can detect a smidge of garlic and a hint of smoky hickory.”  He took another bite.  “I’m a connoisseur of these things.  I’m only 30% making stuff up.”

 

“I couldn’t tell.  How do you still have tastebuds?” Derek asked in surprise as Stiles attacked the burger.

 

“Easy,” Stiles said around the mouthful of beef.  “Sourwolf candy is disgusting. I ate maybe 10 of them and used the rest to throw at people behind your back.”  Then he stared at Derek in alarm.

 

Derek found himself hiding his amusement behind his own burger, but his shoulders shook once with the effort, and if the attention Stiles was giving his chest was any indication, he had noticed.  “Sourwolf candy IS disgusting.”

 

“Really?” Stiles eyed him with suspicion.  “You’re not going to take away my scholarship for false claims or anything, are you?”

 

Derek looked at him sharply, confused, because for a moment he forgot that this was all for PR.  “What do you mean?  Why would I revoke your scholarship just because you don’t like our candy?”

 

“Uhm, because those are the rules?” Stiles answered with a confused expression on his face.  He went so far as to put his food down and really stare at Derek.  It was kind of unnerving.  “I had to accept all of the prizes or I couldn’t get the money.  The candy, the day with you, all of it.  I mean, fine…” he shrugged.  “The scholarship is worth it the inconvenience and the lies, but still.”

 

“You don’t want to be here?”  That actually explained a lot.  All the eye rolls and the snide remarks, at least.

 

“I would have opted out of the ‘win a date’ scenario in a heartbeat but your uncle set the rules in stone, so I had to pick one of you.”

 

“It’s not a date,” Derek sneered.  “How was I your best option?  I’m everybody’s least favourite.”

 

“At least you’re aware you’re the world’s hugest asshole,” Stiles agreed, then he hesitated like he had more to say.

 

“But…” Derek prompted.

 

“That’s sad.  Are you fishing for compliments? No buts. No caveats. You’re an asshole.  I thought your assholeyness would be more entertaining than your sister’s fake boobs.  They just sit there.”

 

Derek glowered.

 

“Kinda like you’re doing now,” he said offhandedly, eating a fry.  “It’s not… look, I don’t mean that I’m having a terrible time.  It hasn’t been too bad, but I asked if I could just have the money instead of the cost of travel and the hotel and that would have been more convenient for all of us.  I could have used it,” he fidgeted.  “Even applying for schools costs money and I’ve just about exhausted the savings from my summer job on it. I mean, 80% of it went into a college fund, but… why am I telling you this?” Stiles stared at him in confusion.

 

Stiles was being far more honest with Derek than Derek had expected from anyone in his position, and if there was one thing Derek appreciated, it was honesty.  Derek shrugged.  “I have an honest face.”

 

Stiles snorted, almost choking on his large drink.  He fumbled with the straw a bit, seemingly unable to thread the small straw through his large mouth, which made Derek feel weird in a way he wasn’t quite able to place.  “You?” Stiles asked incredulously as he finally managed to locate his straw with his tongue.

 

Was he five or something?  Did Derek need to go buy him a sippy cup?  Derek frowned at Stiles with a cross expression on his face.  He was a good person, he didn’t deserve to be judged based on what Stiles thought he knew about him.  Derek did have an honest face – or, he considered himself an honest person, anyway.  Maybe his face looked slightly foreboding, even he could admit that.

 

“I don’t care how much you dislike our candy.  You’ve been less demanding of me than I thought you’d be, I think we can agree that so long as you don’t demand anything from me, I don’t demand anything from you.”

 

“Deal,” Stiles said, reaching a hand towards him to shake on it.  And damn, Derek needed to stop focusing on the guy’s mouth because now he was looking at his fingers, fingers which Stiles had just used to eat a handful of fries and then licked, and that just made Derek more willing to shake his hand, which was a bad sign.  Not caring about saliva was one very thin line away from actually swapping it.

 

“Is everything okay here?” their waiter asked, giving Derek a wink.

 

“Can we get the check?”

 

“No problem.”

 

“Thanks, Doug.”  Derek always made it a point to learn the names of the people serving him, a habit he developed early when leaving the house with his sister and uncle.  He never knew when he’d need to return to a particular place to pay for damages and assure a manager that their employees weren’t at fault.

 

Or, on rare instances, complain.

 

Plus, Derek just thought that it was nice to know someone’s name because it made him feel less like a rich asshole who wanted someone to cater to all his whims.  People treated him like that without him asking, and it always left him feeling like he was taking advantage.

 

“Whoa. Is that your type?” Stiles asked incredulously after Derek had paid and the waiter had left.

 

Derek turned his head as they both approached the door and watched the guy serve another table.  Not really. Derek kind of liked guys who were as tall as him or taller.  And slim.  He really liked slim guys.  He turned back to Stiles and shrugged.  “Not really.  He called me Sourwolf for one thing.”

 

Stiles’ eyes widened and his mouth popped open.  Derek thought that maybe he’d caught the underlying admission that at least Stiles had gotten the gender right this time, when Stiles’ hand shot out and grabbed him.  “Oh my god, Derek!” Stiles said, tugging on his sleeve as they stepped up to the SUV.  “Derek, that’s Katy Perry.”

 

Derek frowned at him, following the subtle point of Stiles’ fingers and the not so subtle twitch of his eyeballs over to the left.

 

“You need to get me her autograph… no, I mean – can you get me her autograph?”

 

“Are you serious?” Derek asked.  “You didn’t even ask me for my autograph.”

 

Stiles snorted as though Derek was telling a joke as he climbed into the SUV, and Derek glared at him, eyes cutting across the back seat.  Stiles’ mouth was skewed into half a smile, one he was unsuccessfully hiding.  “I’ll totally fix that if you can get me hers. Come on, I know you know each other.  You were rumoured to be dating right before she married Russell Brand.”

 

Derek had never dated Katy Perry.  Derek had met her once, inside one of Los Angeles most popular lunch venues.  She arrived moments after him and the maître d’ had promised them he could find them a table if they combined their parties.  Derek had been too hungry to say no, but with the way the paparazzi showed up suspiciously soon after, he was betting on it being a common set up.  It was probably why the place went under a year after.  In retrospect he should have found a chain restaurant, like The Cheesecake Factory.  It would have been less drama, or at least less awkward conversation against the flash of photographs.  “I don’t enjoy being reminded of that time,” he said instead, vaguely amused as Stiles’ mouth opened in surprise, like Derek had just confirmed something he hadn’t expected.

 

The kid was far too easy.

 

Then his eyes turned sly as he looked between Derek and Katy Perry as she continued walking down the street. 

 

His mouth was still open, Jesus Christ this kid was trying his patience.  Why couldn’t he actually be the 8 year old with the mouthful of candy and the stupidly proud grin Derek had seen in the picture?  He needed to find a way to make Stiles close his mouth.  “I’ll go get you an autograph if you eat an entire box of Sourwolfs.”

 

Stiles grimaced widely.  “That’s mean.”

 

Derek shrugged, like ‘dems da rules, sugah’ as he held up a full 200 g box of candy. Then he regretted even thinking that in any tone of voice.

 

“No, I just told you how I feel…” Stiles started, still giving him an expression of disgust as his eyes tracked Katy Perry’s progress down the street.  “No, Sourwolf Candy is so nasty and gross and she’s getting away ok I’ll do it!” Stiles grabbed the box out of his hands.  “I’ll eat the stupid candy, you asshole.”

 

Derek gestured for him to go ahead, entirely unconcerned. 

 

“Derek,” Stiles whined.  “I promised.  She’s almost out of sight.”

 

“And give you a chance to slither out once I give you what you want? You go first.”

 

“No, seriously Derek,” Stiles said, leaning so far out the window he was in serious danger of slamming his head against the window of the car parked next to them.  “She’s gonna get in her car and drive away.” He gestured sharply.

 

“You know what you have to do.”

 

“You can’t make me!”

 

Derek raised an eyebrow, enjoying this immensely.

 

“No,” Stiles said.

 

“No.” Stiles repeated emphatically.

 

“Oh no,” Stiles moaned, upending the box into his mouth.  “Are you happy now?” he questioned around half the box of candy, glaring at Derek with chipmunk cheeks as he poured more candy into his mouth, chewing viciously.

 

Derek was actually severely unhappy.

 

Derek wasn’t sure what had happened to a day he was sure he was firmly in control of because there he was, approaching someone he didn’t know, didn’t move in the same circles as, just so he could get an autograph for some guy who had done nothing but insult him.  The same guy who had managed to fit the entire goddamn box of candy into his mouth and was chewing aggressively and incompetently like some deranged wild animal, Sourwolfs spilling from his mouth because it was just too full.

 

Derek was impressed despite himself because Stiles was actually managing to hold on to most of the candy in his mouth.

 

Then he really severely hated himself for provoking Stiles into doing that, because now both of them were miserable.  There were certain things Derek could stand not knowing, and how much Stiles could fit in his mouth ranked up there next to Peter’s preferences in bed.  Peter because ewww. Stiles because… well Derek didn’t need to have some unrealized fantasies about the mouth of some guy he’d probably never see again.

 

Talking to Katy Perry was actually easier than sitting in the SUV with Stiles right now.  She seemed to recognise him, or at least was gracious enough to allow him to get through the explanation that he was hosting a contest winner who wanted her autograph but was too overcome by shyness to ask her himself.  Then he gestured at Stiles, who was making the most hilarious grimaces around his mouthful of candy that Derek couldn’t help but pull out his phone and take a picture.  He might not ever see Stiles again, but this moment would make him laugh forever.

 

Derek was kind of mean like that.

 

Derek approached the SUV and handed the napkin through the door to Stiles.

 

Stiles promptly stuck his head out the window and spit out his mouthful of candy, gross gagging sounds included.

 

“Are you going to throw up?” Derek questioned uncomfortably.   “Dorian, get ready to drive the moment Stiles finishes.”

 

Stiles waved his hand, dismissing the idea.

 

“You’re a Life Saver,” Stiles breathed, giving him wide, appreciative eyes that made Derek feel like a hero as he climbed into the back of the SUV.  Derek rolled his eyes at him on the outside.

 

“And you’re a slitherer-outer,” Derek pointed out.

 

“Yeah, I can’t face my own wickedness,” Stiles automatically responded and then his eyes went wide with surprise (something Derek was becoming familiar with) as he turned to stare at Derek, kind of more suspiciously than this situation warranted.  “Was that a quote?  Did you just quote Howl’s Moving Castle?”

 

Derek shrugged.  “Guess.”

 

“I don’t know, that’s why I asked.”

 

“Well if I give you a hint and tell you it’s a hint, it’ll just be information,” he quoted.

 

“Then don’t tell me!” Stiles snapped, giving him an expression that was half frown and half pout.  “Wait…”

 

Derek raised an eyebrow.

 

“I don’t know what to do with you anymore,” Stiles sighed. 

 

“Then don’t do anything with me,” Derek said easily, and then regretted saying that because 1. Hello innuendo, and 2. Hello innuendo that hinted at the exact opposite of what Derek thought he might be starting to want.

 

“Pfft, fine,” Stiles said, slouching down in his seat as the SUV started.  “I don’t really want to.”

 

Well, that settled it.  Derek might be focusing on Stiles’ mouth a bit too much, but he didn’t really do unrequited, so if Stiles wasn’t attracted to him, that was fine with Derek.  If Stiles was even a hint interested, he wouldn’t have been able to resist returning the flirtation in Derek’s tone.  Probably.

 

“So what’s next?” Stiles asked, affecting boredom but his eyes were shining as he touched the napkin reverently.

 

Derek had no idea.

 

Wrong.  Derek had an idea or two.

 

“We could go back to the mansion and take a Fun Dip in the pool,” Stiles suggested.  “No, wait.  That one was bad, I tried too soon.  I can come up with better.”

 

“The mansion is off limits anyway,” Derek told him, not entirely sure what Stiles was talking about.  “It’s one of the places I’m not permitted to take you.”

 

“Really?” Stiles asked, and Derek wondered how it was that this kid was better at catching his lies in one day than… ok, he wasn’t actually that great of a liar.

 

“No, but I’d rather not go there.”

 

“I think that’s fair,” Stiles said.  “I left my sunglasses in the store anyway, I’d probably get snow blindness from all the marble.”

 

He might have been right in thinking that finding things to do with a kid who could shove whole boxes of candy into his mouth wasn’t hard.

 

Thinking of things to do with an adult boy who could shove whole boxes of candy in his mouth wasn't difficult either. Hard was another matter.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles:

[Celebrities want sympathy, All they do is piss and moan, Inside the Rolling Stones, Talkin' about how hard life can be]

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“Why are we here?” Derek asked.

 

Stiles was still stuck on the fact that Derek had gotten him Katy Perry’s autograph.  Not only had Derek gotten him the autograph, but he was turning out to be someone Stiles didn’t really mind spending time with, and his prejudices against him were rapidly shifting based on them having just a few conversations that Stiles would label as fun.  Talking with Derek Hale wasn’t supposed to be fun unless Stiles was covertly mocking him.  Instead, Derek seemed to be able to follow along, and turned out to be kind of decent about the whole fact Stiles didn’t like Sourwolf Candy, forcing him to eat a box of it notwithstanding.

 

But then, they did have a deal.  A deal where if Stiles didn’t ask things from Derek, Derek wouldn’t ask for things in return.  The way Derek’s brain worked for quid pro quo was kind of inspired.

 

So, it was difficult to remember why Stiles didn’t respect Derek when Derek in person was so different from the Derek on Hale-o.

 

But then, that had always been one of Stiles’ theories, and the fact Derek was proving him right… well, Stiles wasn’t sure he could be happy about that.

 

In fact, he was pretty sure he wasn’t.  If Derek turned out to be awesome, Stiles was going to feel pretty miserable about the fact he’d wasted his time with Derek finding ways to get ‘Butterfingers’ or ‘Nerds’ into the conversation when they could be mocking other celebrities.

 

Derek was… not exactly a conundrum.

 

“Miss Laura gave me firm instructions to bring you here,” the driver said as they pulled up in front of what looked like a warehouse.  There was a blinking sign over the doorway that told Stiles it was more than just a warehouse.  Or, it was an immensely fun kind of warehouse.

 

Derek drew the itinerary out of his pocket and frowned at it.  “This isn’t on her list.” Derek did not look happy.  Derek never looked happy, but there was a difference between that and his expression now.  If Stiles had to name it, he’d say Derek was furious.

 

“She called while you were at lunch,” the driver explained.

 

“Go to the next location,” Derek said through gritted teeth.

 

“Whoa, hey! What if I want to go to the… what is that?” Stiles inserted into the conversation.  “A club?”

 

“You’re a seventeen year old minor,” Derek reminded him, scowling.

 

Yeah, thanks Derek.  Stiles really needed to be reminded of his own age.  “Eighteen.”

 

Derek gave him a look as though that distinction meant so little to him that he was really judging Stiles for saying anything.  “We’re not going in,” Derek told him as they watched someone stumble out of the door.  “It’s a terrible idea.”

 

“Hey!” Stiles answered in an indignant tone.  “What if I want to go in?  What if I think it’s a fantastic idea?  This day is about pleasing me, and you haven’t pleased me yet, Derek.”

 

“You’re still underage,” Derek snapped, shutting down whatever it was Stiles was going to say. His face was doing a thing.  That was totally the only descriptor Stiles had of the thing Derek’s face was doing, all complicated expressions that seemed resigned, like a man about to witness his own execution.

 

Maybe lunch wasn’t sitting well?  Stiles had never exactly been the Sherlock Holmes of facial expressions.  His accuracy rate was about 60% on his own father, so understanding a complicated stranger probably wasn’t as cut and dry. 

 

“They probably have a bathroom in there,” he pointed out.

 

“If you need to go, the Taco Bell on the corner probably has a bathroom too.”

 

“Oh ew,” Stiles skewed his face.  “Oh ew. Taco Bell bathroom, really?  I’m not that picky about my urinals, but that’s barf.  Maybe literally.”

 

“Are you really going to push this?” Derek asked.

 

Stiles looked at him from under his eyelashes, “are you going to offer other suggestions of what we can spend our afternoon doing?”

 

OH SHIT. That was flirting. Defcon whatever was the highest number. Defcon 1. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t, no matter how charming Derek was.  And that was the thing, Derek wasn’t trying to be charming at all, and that’s why he was working his way beneath Stiles’ stoic resolve to hate him.

 

Derek stared at him for a moment, blinked, sighed, and got out of the SUV.  “Get out of the car, Dorian.  Go home.  I don’t need you for the rest of the day.”

 

“But…”

 

“You don’t only answer to Laura,” Derek reminded him.  “I’ll remind her of that.  I don’t care what kind of instructions she left you, it’s become obvious to me that she shouldn’t be in charge anymore.”

 

Stiles watched as the driver pulled off his hat and tossed it in the driver’s seat before exiting the vehicle and handing the keys over to Derek.  “Your funeral, Mr. Hale.”

 

Derek just scowled with his arms crossed over his chest.  Then he climbed into the driver’s seat.

 

Stiles thought was strange how uncomfortable Derek seemed about the club.  The simple answer was that Derek just didn’t enjoy clubs in the middle of the afternoon when no one was there, because clubs in the middle of the afternoon? They were sad, sad places.  As far as he could see it was pretty much the same phenomenon as casinos in the middle of the afternoon.  Not the casinos on the Vegas Strip, either, because Veeegaaaas.  No, those independent casinos where the only people there in the afternoon were gambling addicts and old people on vacation.

 

The Derek Hale of Hale-o fame fit in with the people spilling out of the club at slow intervals, dance music and bright flashing strobe lights following them out into the alley.  Through the doorway, Stiles could catch glimpses of sweaty, drugged out people wearing clothing drooping more than their eyes were.  It wasn’t glamorous, not by a long shot.

 

So, if things were simple, Derek just didn’t enjoy that scene.

 

The more complex answer?  Stiles was just starting to work his way through the intricate web of it as he fell through the gap between the front seats, getting into the passenger side with a flailing jumble of limbs as Derek opened the driver’s side door.

 

“I’m not underage,” Stiles continued, leaning forward with a grin.  “For alcohol, sure, but I’m legal where it counts.”

 

Derek stared at him for a beat, swallowing before averting his eyes.  “Fine,” Derek growled, fingers tight around the steering wheel.  “If you want to go in, we’ll go in.”

 

“Wait,” Stiles said, grabbing Derek’s arm.  Derek looked back at him, all that fury and... fear? obvious in his expression. Indigestion?  “I didn’t say I wanted to go in.  There’s a puddle of puke by the door and about three people have stepped in it so far and haven’t even cared.  That’s really not my definition of fun.  That’s even below Taco Bell bathrooms on my fun scale.  The people in there look like they’re under some kind of dancing curse where if they stop, they die.  Like in Hocus Pocus, remember?”

 

“Everybody knows coming here during the day is a bad idea.  Even I know that.”

 

“Except your sister,” Stiles said slowly.

 

“Yeah,” Derek answered, but didn’t seem fully committed to agreeing with Stiles as he started the SUV.  “Sure.”

 

It made Stiles irrationally angry for some reason.  Some reason he wasn’t going to look too closely at.

 

“Seriously, fuck Laura.  She has the worst ideas.  Like, wasn’t it her idea to cover the pool that time with the party and put the live band on top of it?  People could have died.  And somehow this is a worse idea than that.  Not only am I underage, but back home my dad’s the sheriff, did you know that?  Like, genuinely the head-cheese of law enforcement.  It probably wouldn’t be the best press for the Hale company representative here – I’m talking about you, by the way –“

 

“I got that,” Derek said sardonically.

 

“It probably wouldn’t be the best press for someone with your rumoured past to be seen bringing an underage contest winner such as myself into a club like this.”  It was funny, because the moment he said it, the possibilities of what was actually happening opened.  Laura never hid the fact she was a scheming manipulative bitch from the cameras, and her brother always seemed to get the worst of it. 

 

The pool incident? Blamed on Derek.

 

The time someone drove the Hale limo into a park fountain? Blamed on Derek.

 

$1,000 went missing from a baby shower Laura was hosting? Oh yeah, Derek’s fault as well.

 

The time Derek was babysitting an 18 year old kid from Beacon Hills and got caught bringing him to a sketchy club that was probably full of dubious characters and easy accessible drugs?

 

Derek’s fault, entirely.  Because who else could it be?

 

“I can’t dance anyway,” Stiles mumbled as he thought that over.

 

Derek paused for a moment, clearly analysing the olive branch Stiles was offering.  “I’m not surprised that someone who goes by the name Stills can’t dance,” he finally settled on.

 

Stiles couldn’t help but laugh at that.  “Can you?” Stiles asked suspiciously.  “Or are you one of those people who gets in a dance club and just stands there and scowls like a Toxic Waste of space?”

                                         

“I can do the White Man Shuffle better than anybody in there,” Derek informed him primly as they turned the corner, putting both the club and the Taco Bell behind them.

 

“Oh my god, that was a joke!” Stiles grinned over at him.  “You’re gonna have to prove that to me.  Seeing is believing.  Dance off, buddy.  I challenge you here and now.”

 

“You’re on, Stilinski.”  Derek smirked.

 

“I’m serious, pull over.  We’ll use the speakers from the SUV.  I bet this thing has a pimping sound system.”

 

“I’m not pulling over,” Derek told him. 

 

“Be spontaneous,” Stiles cajoled because he’d like nothing better than for Derek to make a fool of himself in public.  Stiles did it all the time, it was kind of refreshing.  It might take care of that stick problem Derek seemed to have up his ass.

 

“There has to be something you want.”

 

“I don’t know!” Stiles exclaimed with frustration.  “Just take me somewhere you usually go at this time of day. It’s not that difficult of a concept, Derek.  If it’s somewhere you’d be uncomfortable bringing me, fine, but know that my regard for you couldn’t get any lower than it already is.  I don’t care about appearances, so do your worst.”

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Derek:

x.x.x.x.

 

Shit.

 

Derek really kind of liked the guy.  He was clever and rapidly catching on to Laura, and Derek was starting to like him.

 

It was bad.

 

So bad.

 

So, so bad.

 

Really, monumentally terrible.

 

But he had hit on all of Derek’s weaknesses in the span of five minutes.  He was smart, and attractive, and surprisingly flexible, and funny enough that Derek was finding it more and more difficult not to enjoy himself.  Derek wanted to bring Stiles places that were real, that were part of a day-in-the-life of the real Derek Hale.  He wanted to share his life with the guy, and he didn’t even know him.

 

Derek Hale rarely took risks.  Laura had always taken them for him and then made him deal with the consequences, and it made him very careful about his own life.  But looking at the way Stiles slyly glanced at him out of the corner of his eye as they drove, full of good humor, made him switch directions of the SUV and pull into more familiar territory, because fuck it.  Fuck it all.  This was something he wanted to do.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles:

[I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me]

x.x.x.x.

 

 

Half an hour later they pulled into the parking lot of an area that looked vaguely familiar to Stiles, as though he had spent some time looking at the Google Street View of this area or had seen it in a magazine something.  Nothing that would have given him an intimate knowledge of where he was, or an instant recognition, but something that showed him enough details that he was struck by a case of déjà vu.

 

“Wait!” he said as Derek ignored him, automatically locking the car doors as Stiles scrambled out of the passenger side.  Stiles ran after him as he ducked across the street, avoiding traffic entirely.  When Stiles tried it, he received a honk in return from a car that was still at least eight feet away.  “I know this place. I’m pretty sure.”

 

Derek gave him a deadpanned look, clearly unimpressed, but not hinting at any reasons for Stiles to recognize the hedge they were standing next to.

 

A hedge!

 

How in the world did Stiles recognize a hedge!

 

“I haven’t been here before?” Stiles mused, tacking on a question mark with a hint of uncertainty.  He was hit with the awareness that he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were about to turn a corner and see a large building constructed of walls of glass and cement.  It was weird because he really shouldn’t know that, and it wasn’t like his memory was infallible, but he was usually good at placing locations he seemed to know well enough that he could recognize parking lots and hedges!

 

“How should I know?” Derek asked, circling around the edge of the hedge.

 

Stiles threw his hands forward sarcastically, miming strangling Derek for responding to a rhetorical question.  It made him feel a bit better, so he stepped forward to clear the hedge from his line of sight, and found himself in front of the ugly monstrosity of architecture that he expected to find.

 

Things seemed to click now that he was able to see it in context.

 

“Oh hey!” he said, with far more excitement than was really necessary considering.  “This is the library at…”

 

“Come on,” Derek said impatiently, but he was actually waiting as Stiles gawked, looking around at his surroundings.  His hand reached out, fingers curving around the curve of Stiles’ shoulder as he navigated him around a tour group of high school students and their chaperones.  For a second Stiles considered that Derek knew that this was the school Stiles desperately wanted to go to.  It was in his top 2 choices of places that had yet to accept him, but also happened to be outside of his price range.

 

Or, it had been before the scholarship.  Now, the possibilities were opening slightly. 

 

For one stupid second, Stiles thought Derek might have brought him there on purpose, that it was for him.

 

Then Derek stalked through the doorway of the library, navigating with a surety that only came through 1. experience, or 2. a really good ability to fake it.

 

Spoiler: Stiles had watched season 2 of Hale-o.  All 304 minutes of (bonus material included) shitty television it was, and Derek couldn’t fake his way through a truly terrible blind date then and he couldn’t fake a firsthand knowledge of UCLA campus now.

 

“You GO here?” Stiles asked incredulously, and then started to laugh.

 

Derek glowered at him.  It was the same look he’d given the child outside the restaurant, and it set Stiles off even more, because that had been hilarious.

 

“Oh man,” Stiles crowed as Derek led them up to the third floor of the library.

 

“Shut up,” Derek groused.  “You said you wanted to experience where I’d be right now, well I’d be studying for my upcoming midterms.  So sit down.”

 

Stiles settled into the chair across from Derek as Derek draped his leather jacket over his own seat and disappeared into the stacks.  He stared at the leather jacket, clearly quality material against the cheap nylon weave of the chair it was on, and debated Derek’s presumptuousness that Stiles would watch his stuff and whether Derek had slipped out a side exit to leave Stiles behind entirely.  Then he debated the likelihood of that versus the likelihood of Derek actually being a student there.

 

Derek emerged from the stacks with a book and started reading it, pausing to make notes on his phone.  Stiles watched him for about 20 minutes, fascinated by Derek’s concentration on the documents in front of him, before he got up silently and went downstairs to grab a coffee from the café in the lobby.  It was stupid, but one of Stiles’ favourite things about the idea of college was easy access to coffee, food, gyms – a whole contained environment geared towards being a student.  Some high schools had coffee shops now.  Heck, some public libraries had adjoining cafes, but Stiles didn’t come from a town where either of those possibilities were a reality, so just the concept of standing inside of a library in a school that he dreamed of attending so much that he memorized every picture and google street view detail that he could, was the highlight of his entire day.

 

Stiles wasn’t sure what that said about him, but he was pretty positive of how it reflected on Derek’s ability to be entertaining.

 

“Here, liberally sugared right?” he asked, shoving a second drink across the table at Derek once he returned.  When they met, Derek had gotten up from the table in the conference room and had poured himself a coffee, adding sugar.  Then he had looked across the room at Stiles, eyed the sugar shaker, and liberally poured until his coffee was probably more gritty, wet sugar-sludge rather than coffee.

 

Leave it to the heir of a candy franchise to be addicted to sugar.

 

It… actually made sense.

 

And was possibly cute.

 

“Thanks,” Derek said in a distracted manner, looking up from the page in the book in front of him and then back at the notes in his phone, scrolling through them with a scowl that was surprisingly academic.  Then he seemed to find what he was looking for because his eyes lit up with excitement and an accomplished grin crossed his face before he was jumping towards a photocopier at the end of the corridor. 

 

“You’re surprised I can read, aren’t you?” Derek asked once he got back and read through a few more pages of the textbook, winding down in his focus.  A sneer was evident in his tone, as though he was judging Stiles for judging him based on what info was available to the public eye.

 

But, maybe there was so vulnerability there as well, because Derek kept watching his reaction and Stiles wasn’t giving him one.

 

Stiles was thoughtful for a moment. If he was honest, he was surprised – pleasantly, at that – because in a way he wasn’t surprised at all.  “Do you know why I chose you?”

 

Derek shrugged, his lips turning down in an expression that said he didn’t care, but he also gestured for Stiles to continue.

 

“I came here to prove something to myself.  You know, my favourite scene of yours – of Hale-o’s in total actually – was in season 1.”

 

“I wasn’t in season 1,” Derek pointed out.  “That was firmly the Laura and Peter show.”

 

“Yeah, you were. Maybe not one of the 3 Musketeerswe saw in the next season, but you were there. There was this one scene where Laura was yelling on the phone about her boyfriend and you were in the background reading a comic book. I noticed because it was a special edition and I had just saved up enough to buy it the day before, so the cover was something that caught my eye right away.  We both know the welcome message in the beginning of the show has Laura giving this little – scripted – speech about how nothing in the show is scripted, but she was really hamming up that conversation like she hammed up everything and in the background the comic book you were reading changed depending on what she was yelling.  At one point you even changed shirts and the continuity of the scene was completely ruined, and no one even noticed, and I thought you were amazing.  I was actually excited when they announced you’d have a larger role in season 2.”

 

Derek looked stricken, absolutely frozen, and surprisingly hopeful.  “You saw that?”

 

“I would have watched the hell out of a show with that guy in it. You would have stolen every scene.  It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, if your sister knew that and made sure that no one would ever like you again.”

 

“I’m not a drug addict,” Derek confessed like it was his hailing grace.  “I don’t even know what Circle K means.”

 

“Dude.” Stiles rolled his eyes.  “Everyone saw how surprised and confused you were when Laura staged the intervention.  That much was obvious.  But you never did anything about it afterwards, and that’s on you.”  Then Stiles paused, thinking over what Derek just said.  “And Circle K isn’t some kind of street name for cocaine or something, it’s a convenient store chain.”

 

Derek’s brow crumpled in confusion.

 

Stiles started to laugh, but it really wasn’t that funny.  “Dude, why is your sister trying to ruin you?”

 

Derek just shrugged helplessly. 

 

“I’m serious.  This is the first time I’ve ever seen you say no to her and follow through.  I’m kind of impressed, because the Derek on the TV show wouldn’t have.”

 

“You don’t know me,” Derek pointed out, getting to his feet and shoving the books he was using onto a shelving cart.  “Just because you watched some show doesn’t give you insight into my life.  Like you said, most of it was scripted.

 

“No,” Stiles said, following after him.  “I’m not a hardcore fan of yours or anything, in fact there are a lot of things I hate about you and the Derek Hale we saw on Hale-o, I’m just starting to see that maybe all those things weren’t real.”

 

“I’m real!” Derek said, rounding on him just as they got off the elevator, pointing his finger in Stiles’ face. “I’m a person.”

 

“I know that…” Stiles answered.  “Dude, I’m not trying to pretend otherwise.  It’s just stuff I observed, and I think I might be kind of right in my Derek meta because you’re not refuting anything.”

 

“Good for you,” Derek said sarcastically.  “You’ve figured out what isn’t true.  That doesn’t mean you know what is.”

 

“Fine, then tell me something that is,” Stiles dared, crossing his arms over his chest as he trailed after Derek.  “Or are you too afraid to be genuine?”

 

Derek paused.  “What do you want to know?”

 

Stiles was a bit taken back.  He didn’t expect Derek to capitulate so easily considering the trust issues he probably had.  “How about your type,” he suggested, thinking back to the conversations they’d had earlier where Derek had been evasive.  “You know, type.  Of person.  You’re attracted to.”

 

Stiles really kind of needed to know what Derek’s type was, because there were certain bills he couldn’t fill, like female or gorgeous.

 

“You want to know my type?” Derek asked, nodding towards the glass with a meaningful tilt of his chin.

 

Stiles squinted, trying to see through the window, but all he could really see were their reflections.  “I can’t really see through it without sunglasses on.”

 

Derek just rolled his eyes.  “You’re not supposed to be able to see through it,” he answered, all sass and sarcasm.  “That’s the point.”

 

“Your type is you?” Stiles asked incredulously.  Well, it kind made sense.

 

Derek gave him the flattest, most sarcastic look ever.  “Let’s just go.”

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

[I'm your number one fan, give me your autograph, Sign it right here on my heart]

x.x.x.x.

 

Derek was starting to wonder if he’d overestimated Stiles or not, because Stiles had been an asshole about him going to UCLA, then he’d been an asshole about Derek’s role on season 2 of Hale-o, but in a way that echoed what Derek knew to be true and to be something he actually regretted, which showed that same ability to see through events in Derek’s life.  Finally, Stiles had been an asshole about Derek’s type, and Derek wasn’t even sure that was deliberate or if he was just obtuse.

 

Possibly the guy had no idea that he was attractive, which was seriously an interesting concept.  Derek hadn’t met too many people who weren’t so self-aware of their own attractiveness that they tried to capitalize on it.

 

The only thing that Derek knew for sure was that Stiles liked comic books, so he brought him to a comic book store.

 

But he wasn’t trying to impress the guy, right?

 

Ok, he couldn’t even delude himself on that.  He was totally trying to impress Stiles.

 

Stiles walked into Meltdown like he was genuinely excited to be there, which was the reaction Laura anticipated from her carefully selected list of places for Derek to entertain a teenage boy.  Derek felt smug about that, because the comic book store?  His idea.

 

His idea entirely.

 

“This is more like it,” Stiles said, taking in the large comic book store in front of him.  “Wow, look at this thing.  In Beacon Hills it’s either the shitty comic book section of the town’s only second hand bookstore, the library, or the internet.”

 

It was the first time Derek had heard Stiles open enough to compare something he showed him to the things he was used to. It made Derek feel successful, like he had finally made a choice that Stiles was opening up about. 

 

“So… can I buy stuff?” he asked.  “Or, will you buy stuff for me?”

 

“You went over budget buying yourself two pairs of sunglasses,” Derek reminded him.

 

“I didn’t know you were gonna bring me here,” Stiles pouted.

 

Fuck.  Derek find himself nodding once, almost not sure what he was agreeing to, because of Stiles’ mouth.

 

“Oooh,” Stiles said, distracted and walking the length of the store with the intensity of someone who spotted the one thing they were passionate about.  Derek had long since let go of the idea that Stiles was a fan of his, but part of him wanted to prove himself to the guy.

 

“Hey Mary,” he waved as he walked by the cashier, wandering over to Stiles’ general vicinity and looking through one of the bins across from him.

 

Stiles was leaning against the side of one of the comic book bins, flipping through the 2009 Batman and Robin series.  Derek watched him with his head lowered, able to see Stiles if he looked up through his lashes as he flipped through a separate bin, not entirely paying attention to the books in front of him.

 

Stiles jerked suddenly, almost losing his balance from the way he was leaning, legs crossed in front of him in a show of casualness that didn’t work well with sharp movements.  His eyes met Derek’s, wide and amazed.

 

“The batmobile has a sonic blaster,” Stiles said with confusion, staring at Derek sharply as though his eyes could see right through him. 

 

Derek shrugged.  “In that edition, yeah.”

 

“Buy it for me?” Stiles asked, pointing at the hardcover edition.

 

“It’s $75,” Derek pointed out.

 

“Duh,” Stiles answered, rolling his eyes.  “Why do you think I’m not trying to buy it for myself?”

 

“Fine,” Derek finally conceded.  “But I’m going to need you to do something for me.”  Derek wanted to smile, but didn’t.  Stiles never should have made that promise.

 

“Anything,” Stiles vowed in a breathless tone.  “Anything at all.”

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“You can’t do this yourself?” Stiles asked, laughing as he shoved three packages of Jolly Ranchers into his cart, moved three inches down the aisle and grabbed Starbursts.  Derek flicked his finger towards the Sour Patch Kids.  “Oh my god, really?” Stiles asked incredulously, unable to reach for the packages because he was laughing too hard.  He needed to clutch the handle of the cart as he doubled over.  Derek watched the movement from the corner of his eye, mouth turning down as Stiles shook with laughter.  “Oh my god.  Oh my god, yeeees.  This is priceless. I’m not one to repeat really old jokes,” Stiles crowed, staring up at him in delight, “but you’ve never looked more sour than you do now, Sour Patch.  Holy shit.”

 

Derek was not amused.  Nothing amused Derek less than being reminded of his catchphrase, but the way Stiles talked around it eased a bit of the tension he’d developed when he thought Stiles was actually going to say Sourwolf, because if there was one thing Derek hated enough to ruin a budding attraction and friendship, it was that.

 

“Don’t tell anyone,” Derek hissed, shoving Stiles up against the cart so that his lower back was arched around the edge of the handle.  It made Stiles stop laughing, which was his intent, and also made it so they were almost chest to chest.  Derek braced one hand next to Stiles’ hip on the bar, bring is other up to Stiles’ face, threatening.   “Do you hear me, Stiles?”

 

“Who would I tell?” Stiles questioned, eyes flicking down to Derek’s mouth.  He licked his lips, a sight Derek was distracted by, and then he looked boldly into Derek’s eyes and raised an eyebrow.  “What would I say?  Derek Hale has a secret sweet tooth, bring your microphone?”

 

“Something like that,” Derek agreed.

 

“Newsflash,” Stiles responded.  “It’s not candy the paparazzi want to catch you sucking on.”

 

“Yeah?” Derek questioned, leaning forward into Stiles’ space with a smirk, boxing him in so that he had to bend backwards over the cart handle, chest brushing against Derek’s.  “What do you think they’re hoping I’ll suck on today?”

 

Stiles’ eyes bugged out.

 

Yeah, Derek always won at gay chicken.

 

Probably because he never actually started it with someone he wouldn’t care to lose with, which… not something he wanted to think of, really, considering the way Stiles’ mouth kept obscenely closing over things in Derek’s general vicinity.

 

Stiles sucked in a breath and parted his lips as though he was going to say something.  His tongue traced along the line of his bottom lip again, and Derek fought not to obviously watch its progress.  For a second Stiles pressed closer to him, crowding up against him and for a moment Derek didn’t realize that he was trying to escape Derek’s hold.  Then Derek took a step back, reaching out automatically to straighten Stiles’ shirt where it was riding up at his hipbone.

 

Stiles smirked at him.  “So, how many Sour Patch Kids do you want?”

 

“I like the peach ones,” Derek said, shrugging.

 

Stiles stared at him, mouth opened.  “Agreed,” he finally said, throwing five bags in the cart.  Derek was about to tell him that five was way too many, but the last time he’d managed to find a way to buy them without anyone seeing him was almost a year before, and his sweet tooth got particularly vocal during exam time, which was in about three more weeks. 

 

“What else?”

 

“Sweetish Berries,” Derek mumbled.

 

“Don’t you get those for free?”

 

“Nothing in life is free,” Derek responded tragically.

 

“You own the company,” Stiles pointed out.

 

“I don’t actually want to go in to the building to get a supply, and we’re here now,” Derek rationalized.

 

Stiles shrugged.  “Seems wasteful to me, but whatever.  I’m still stuck on why you can’t buy these on your own.  You’re an adult, you can buy candy if you want.”

 

“I tried once.  There was a picture of my face on the front of one of the tabloids at the cash.”

 

“Oh my god,” Stiles said, laughing.  “This is your illicit habit.  Some people get ashamed buying cigarettes or meat but you get ashamed buying candy. Cocaine habit my ass. That’s…”

 

“My parents are dead,” Derek reminded him sharply.  “It was their company first.  It feels like I’m going against their legacy and bringing dishonour on the Hale name because I don’t enjoy Sourwolf Candy and I would rather eat our competitor’s candy than the family formula for gummy wolves.”

 

Stiles looked like he was weighing another joke, and Derek wasn’t sure he could take someone making light of his guilt.  “Ok,” Stiles said finally, putting another bag of Starbursts into the cart as a peace offering.  “One question, though?  How do you eat this much candy and keep your abs?  I mean, have you seen your abs?  Because I have, many times, and maybe I’m wrong in thinking this, but based on the shirt you’re wearing, they’re probably better now than they were when you were sixteen.”

 

“I only consume sugar when I’m stressed,” Derek told him.

 

This time Stiles actually laughed.  “Oh man, but you look like you’re always stressed.”

 

“Am not,” Derek muttered, tensing as an older woman came by the aisle and grabbed a tube of Pringles, eying both of them.  “Shut up.”

 

x.x.x.x.x.

 

Derek realized he was tense, almost worried about what Stiles thought of his home and it made him wonder why this teenage boy had gotten under his skin so quickly.  The year before, Derek had been dating someone for three months and the one time he invited him up to his condo, he certainly hadn’t encouraged the guy to snoop through his things.

 

“Feel free to look around,” he said to Stiles, the words coming out half sarcastically as he noticed that Stiles was already flipping through the books on display in Derek’s living room.

 

“If you have any secrets you may as well tell me now,” Stiles told him.  “My dad’s a sheriff, remember.  I inherit my extreme nosiness from him, though he’d claim it was called inquisitiveness and prudence. But nope, I can be honest with myself. I’m nosy.  And extremely observant.”

 

“I’ve noticed.”

 

Stiles looked up and rolled his eyes at Derek.

 

What?  Derek thought it was kind of clever.  Ok.  So it wasn’t his best joke, but it wasn’t like he’d just resorted to mocking the guy’s father or anything.

 

Stiles bent, nose practically pressed against the bottom shelf of Derek’s bookcase.

 

“They’re in the bottom cabinets,” Derek indicated, pointing at the doors that hid the bottom half of his bookcases from view.

 

“What?” Stiles asked, jumping slightly like he had been caught red-handed.

 

“My comic books,” Derek answered confidently, smirking at Stiles as he threw open the door. 

 

“Hidden away,” Stiles said sagely.

 

“No one comes up here,” Derek corrected him.  “They’re just stored.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles whistled.  “To archival standards.  Holy shit.  You Nerd.”

 

People had called Derek a lot of things over the years, things that were rarely flattering, but he thought that being called a nerd by Stiles might be the most sincere compliment he’d ever received.  “Thanks.”

 

Stiles blinked at him and then grinned.  “Have your candy hidden?” he asked, jumping back up to his feet and taking one last lingering look around the living room.

 

“Yeah.”  He thought about offering Stiles a tour, showing him through his limited edition comic books first, and then the other rooms in the condo.  There wasn’t much space that Stiles couldn’t see in the open-concept downstairs, with the comfortable and utile couch and the small eating area off the kitchen.  Upstairs just had two bedrooms, one Derek used as an office slash small in-home gym for the days he didn’t feel like going down to the one located on the first floor.

 

There wasn’t really anything special about the place, and Derek thought that might impress Stiles more than all the marble entrances or weird pop-art wall murals of the Hale mansion.  But Stiles was someone Derek would be saying goodbye to at the end of the day, someone who might immediately get online and tell his story, finding ways to get around the non-disclosure agreement they had him sign.  Knowing Laura and Peter, there were clear loopholes in the document.

 

“Come on,” Derek said, gesturing towards the door with a jerk of his head.  He wasn’t sure why he had brought Stiles up in the first place. 

 

“It’s a nice place,” Stiles told him, and didn’t sound even the slightest bit surprised or contemptuous.

 

Derek kind of regretted that it was the end of their time together and that he’d have to drop Stiles off at his hotel and that the next time they saw each other it would be at the supper banquet hosted by Hale LTD to celebrate Stiles’ win.  With Laura around, Derek wouldn’t even get the chance to talk to Stiles.

 

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded, looking around the space.  “It’s nice.  Comfortable, very… ohmigod how do you live without a tv?”

 

Derek rolled his eyes.  “It took you that long to notice?” he asked.  “Obviously it’s not as big of a priority as you let on.”

 

Stiles gaped at him.

 

“I thought you were the observant one,” Derek finished, feeling kind of pleased with himself.  “I just don’t feel the need for one.  What would I use it for?”

 

“But… television,” Stiles made a complicated face, like he wasn’t really sure how to handle Derek.  “Television.  You’re on it.  You should at least own one.”

 

“Follow the evidence Horatio,” Derek said with a roll of his eyes.  “It’s upstairs so I can study without a distraction.  This is my quiet area.”

 

“And your bedroom typically isn’t?  Quiet…?” Stiles asked with a smirk.

 

Derek rolled his eyes, but could feel the back of his neck prickle with heat as his skin flushed.  He barely refrained from offering to show Stiles first hand – ok, that was a lie.  It was easy to refrain from offering Stiles the chance to make his bedroom loud, but the fact that the idea crossed his mind in the first place actually said far more than Derek not saying the words.

 

“It’s getting late,” he said instead.  “We need to get back to your hotel.”

 

x.x.x.x.

Stiles:

[Whatever happens, I'll leave it all to chance. Another heartache - another failed romance]

x.x.x.x.

 “Are you enjoying the hotel?” Derek asked as he parked the SUV.  “It’s comfortable?”

 

“It’s fine,” Stiles assured him.  “It has a really amazing bed. Like clouds.”

 

“Yeah?” Derek asked.  “Maybe I should try it… uh, get the manufacturer.”

 

“You’re really terrible at human interaction,” Stiles said, softly amused at the way Derek fidgeted, body leaning into him for a moment before he jerked away, as though remembering himself.

 

Derek just shrugged.  “Thank you for,” he gestured vaguely.

 

“Yeah, no,” Stiles shook his head.  “Politeness dictates I thank you for making my wildest dreams come true.” He emphasized the last bit in a flat, sarcastic tone that made Derek wince.  “But it also dictates that I apologize for some of the things I said.  I overstepped, waaaay overstepped in some cases, and it’s really none of my business what you do with your life.”

 

“Yeah, well,” Derek muttered, and then shrugged again, as though he wasn’t entirely sure why he was still there, or what he was trying to say, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave, either.  “Bye.”

 

“Bye,” Stiles answered.

 

Derek didn’t move.

 

“I do have this one wild dream,” Stiles said, before grabbing the lapels of Derek’s leather jacket and kissing him, because why the heck not?  It was almost a shame to win a date with a D-list celebrity whose mouth made up a good deal of his unimaginative wank sessions at age twelve and not kiss him.  Derek’s mouth remained closed, lips tight and jaw tense, obviously not into it.  Stiles pulled away quickly and all at once, breaking contact with Derek entirely and reeling two steps backwards, out of his space.  “Oh shit, dude, I’m sorry.”

 

“Why would you...?” Derek looked frozen, eyes wide.  “You spent the last six hours heavily judging me and berating my life choices.”

 

“Of course I did! I had such a huge crush on 15 year old you it wasn’t even funny.  You just sat in the background rolling your eyes, and you were perfect, and then I come here expecting to meet Derek Hale, the Douchebag I grew to despise, and instead you’re… you.  You’re him, and I don’t know what to think about that.”

 

“I thought you made what you think of me very clear,” Derek answered.

 

Shit.  Shit, Stiles had definitely messed up.  He should have known better, really.  The surprising camaraderie they developed had made him forget, for a moment, that they weren’t anything to each other.  Stiles had felt like he’d known parts of Derek forever, which was exactly the type of thing a crazy fan did.

 

“Sorry,” Stiles muttered, overcome by shame.

 

Derek stared at him for a beat.  Stiles could just imagine all the things going through his head, all the accusations he was about to make about Stiles’ presumptions and wondering why Stiles thought Derek would ever be receptive to having another guy kissing him.

 

Having Stiles kiss him.

 

Stiles fled.

 

Stiles was halfway across the lobby of his hotel, moving quickly to put Derek behind him both physically and metaphorically.  He’d been working half on instinct when he kissed Derek, because there was something about the way Derek hovered uncertainly that reminded Stiles of the way he had ended every single first dates he ever had – that way a person had of awkwardly telegraphing a desire to be closer while simultaneously leaning away due to fear, uncertainty, and a lack of trust in the other person and their desires  The kiss had been mostly in response to that, and now Derek probably thought he was just another wide-eyed fan who took too many liberties because he thought it was his right, like Derek was public property.

 

Shit.

 

He almost pitched backward when fingers circled around his wrist and he jerked to a stop, his momentum spinning him half around in a circle as Derek practically smashed their faces together.  At first he thought Derek’s intention was to headbutt him, which was rather uninformed on his part because Stiles was known for his hard head.  He wasn’t entirely sure what kind of offensive strategy a headbutt was, but then a lot of Derek Hale’s choices baffled him.

 

But, he realized, as Derek reached out a hand to steady him before leaning the last few inches forward and slotting their mouths together, Derek wasn’t exactly familiar with Stiles’ forward momentum and tentative grasp on balance.

 

The kiss was delicate, for all that it had a potentially violent start.  Derek seemed unsure of his welcome, and when Stiles looped one of his arms around his neck and moved forward slightly, Derek returned the gesture by placing his hand, all broad palms and long fingers, against Stiles’ back.  Despite the fact that Derek’s mouth was soft, all minute movements and simple shifts in pressure, keeping the kiss strictly in PG territory, Stiles could feel the thrill down to his toes.  His heart started beating quickly and his brain went a bit melty from it.

 

Because he was kissing Derek Hale.

 

Holy shit.

 

If there was one thing Stiles would not admit upon pain of death, even to himself, Derek was his only big celebrity crush.  His version of Ton Hiddleson or Jennifer Lawrence.  He might not have a blog or a website or a RP account dedicated to Derek Hale, but he did have a number of pictures and clips of him shirtless saved in his porn folder.

 

So…

 

This?  There was a side of him who was a confused twelve year old boy who had his first gay (or bi, as the case may be) fantasy about kissing Derek Hale.  That boy had turned into an eighteen year old young adult who still fantasized about Derek Hale, to his shame, and who wanted to flail and tackle him to the ground and maybe accidentally bite his lip really hard in the process at the idea that he was actually kissing Derek Hale.

 

Derek Hale was kissing him.

 

And really, maybe biting was a good idea because if this was Stiles’ only chance (well… second chance at an only chance – it made sense, shut up) then he was going to make it memorable.

 

Stiles nipped at Derek’s bottom lip, overcoming his surprise enough to test the boundaries Derek was putting on the kiss.  He was starting to get mildly light-headed, not enough to force him to stop, but just enough that he ended up inhaling sharply through his nose as Derek returned the gesture.  He wasn’t surprised. Nope.  He was just slightly out of breath.  By Derek opening his mouth slightly so he could run his tongue over the plump meridian of Stiles’ bottom lip, the motion slick but dragging a little in the best of ways.

 

Stiles made a noise of encouragement in the back of his throat, a high pitched hum that tapered at the end as Derek’s hand spread downwards, along Stiles’ side, until Derek’s fingers were wrapped around his hip bone.  He leaned forward, closing the last distances between them, only to jump visibly as his phone buzzed in his pocket.

 

He was able to ignore it the first time, leaning back towards Derek when the phone vibrated again.

 

New text from Scott:

Dude I twitter-alerted Derek Hale and there’s a pic that looks like you’re kissing him.

 

New text from Scott:

OMG YOU’RE KISSING DEREK HALE WHY ARE THERE PICTURES OF YOU KISSING DEREK HALE ALL OVER THE INTERNET?

 

It vibrated again in his hand.

 

New text from Scott:

Good job, mystery guy Derek Hale is cited as kissing.

 

“So, uh…” Stiles said, rubbing at the back of his head sheepishly as he squinted at Derek. His mouth felt absolutely swollen, holy crap that was hot and wasn’t doing anything to stop him from kissing Derek again, because Derek looked exactly the same as Stiles felt – like he’d been hit over the head and then kissed within an inch of his life. “That’s, uh… on the internet already.”

 

New text from Scott:

Way to stick to your indignant hatred Milk Dud.  Should I be worried I’ll find pictures of you making out with Harris next?

 

Heh, milk dud.  Good one, Scott.

 

By the time Stiles looked up from this most recent text, Derek was taking a step backwards away from him, a miserable and suspicious expression on his face.

 

“They’re all from my best friend,” Stiles blurted out with a dawning sort of horror.  “There aren’t multiple people.  This wasn’t some plan or something to get my face over the internet.  It’s just one person making fun of me, and… I’m making it worse, aren’t I?”

 

“I need to go,” Derek said, leaving Stiles standing there in the lobby of his hotel with his phone in his hand.

 

x.x.x.x.x.

 

“I’m not surprised Derek isn’t showing his face,” Laura said, dismissing her brother with a flick of her wrist.  “He’s a child about disappointing his family.  And gay pictures on the internet? I’m so disappointed in him.  He could have least have been caught in the general vicinity of Zachary Quinto.”

 

“They’d be an eyebrow power couple,” Stiles agreed, completely distracted by the fact that he was standing right in an apex between the main room and a hallway, and from where he was standing he could see Laura complaining about Derek not showing his face, and Derek’s face where he was standing in the hallway with a finger over his lips and rolling his eyes at his sister.  Not letting on to Laura that he was actually staring right at the object of her criticism was a lot harder than it seemed, and he was hardly even paying attention to her shrill words.

 

“I do have to give him points,” she continued.  “Homosexuality is a hot ticket button these days – five years ago we had to fake a drug addiction, but people these days are much more interested in sexual identity crisis than they are cocaine addictions when it comes to draaamaHale-o’s ratings would go through the roof, if…” she trailed off, eyes glazing over.  Probably at all the terrible scripts she could write for Derek if she could convince MTV to pick them up again.

 

‘WOW’ Stiles mouthed at Derek, Laura’s eyes still glazed over with the ways she could capitalize on Derek’s gay street cred, which was what Stiles was about 65% (and horrifically) sure she was muttering about.

 

“Come on,” Derek whispered, tugging on Stiles’ sleeve inconspicuously from around the corner.  Stiles was truly impressed by Derek’s ability to avoid his sister, as she was basically a foot away from him and she had no idea.  Stiles allowed Derek’s hand to trail down his arm, fingers entangled as he took one final look at Laura to make sure she wasn’t really paying attention to him as he slipped away from the room, following Derek down the length of the hallway.

 

“What is it?” Stiles asked.

 

“This,” Derek said, pressing Stiles up against the wall in the hallway, hands braced on either side of Stiles’ slim torso.  Stiles could feel Derek’s wrists brushing against his waist, even through the thick layer of his vest, and was aware of every breath he took caged within Derek’s arms.  He had to rest his own arms on top of Derek’s, awkwardly at first until he slid his fingers along the back of Derek’s collar, feeling along the warm skin as his other hand touched along Derek’s shoulder, toying with the knot in Derek’s tie as he slowly manipulated his body closer with small touches.

 

“This?” Stiles asked, their lips only a fraction of an inch apart.  Then he jolted, struck by realization.  “I’m your type, aren’t I?  It was me you were pointing at.

 

“You’re so…” Derek said in a soft tone, exasperated as he huffed at Stiles and gave him just the tiniest smile.  He leaned closer, and they were so intimate in that moment, and not just because of the way their bodies aligned.  In was in the way Derek didn’t look away from Stiles’ eyes, except to glance down at his mouth for a moment, and the way the Stiles didn’t care that Derek had left him to deal with the Hales on his own for an hour before showing up.

 

“I’m…?” Stile prompted, tilting his head and tangling his hands through Derek’s hair.

 

Derek blinked, eyelashes brushing against Stiles’ cheek as he leaned in to speak directly into Stiles ear.  “So attractive.  You look so good in this suit.”

 

Stiles laughed, snickering as he rubbed his nose against Derek’s hair, smelling the gel and shampoo Derek used.  There was something sweet and coconutty about the scent, like Derek was Stiles’ own Almond Joy bar.  The thought made him laugh more, because obviously Stiles was the one who brought the nuts to their… makeout sessions. 

 

He hummed in appreciation as his fingers grasped Derek’s scalp, breathing Derek in.  Derek’s mouth was dragging down the line of Stiles’ jaw as Stiles trailed his fingers up the ridge of Derek’s spine, turning his head at the last moment to ensure their lips met finally, finally in a kiss.  Derek tasted better than he smelled, like a hint of sour candy (obviously not Sourwolf) and the heated flavour of someone who wanted Stiles in return.  Stiles took the time to savour him, learning the contours of Derek’s mouth – what made him sigh, and what made him pull slightly back but not entirely away.  He learned that Derek liked the way Stiles licked along his bottom lip, and he canted into Stiles when Stiles tried using his teeth on the same area, a repeat of their earlier exploration.

 

Stiles also learned that Derek enjoyed running his tongue along the tip of Stiles’ and retreating for a quick breath by placing an open mouthed kiss at the corner of Stiles mouth, which he’d normally find weird, but with Derek it was kind of awesome, like he still wanted to feel Stiles’ lips from all angles.

 

And Stiles?  Stiles wanted as much as he could get for the last few hours he was in Los Angeles. 

 

Stiles turned them, caging Derek into the corner of the hallway as they continued making out, mouths becoming more lax and precise the longer neither of them were able to draw in a full breath.

 

Neither of them cared that there were people walking past them as Stiles stepped backwards, led by Derek’s body urging him with insistent nudges and wandering hands.  His knees hit against the back of something solid and he fell backwards onto a settee, Derek landing on top of him with the sound of surprise and air leaving his lungs. 

 

Stiles arched upwards, getting his hands under the fine material of Derek’s pants and scraping his nails against the slope of Derek’s ass and lower back.  Derek arched against him breathlessly, bracing one of his hands against the back of the piece of furniture as he slid one of his legs free from where the two of them were tangled and immediately upset the delicate balance both of them had.

 

Derek’s eyes widening was the last thing that registered in Stiles’ mind before the world tilted.

 

“Oooph,” Derek managed in surprise as he landed on the floor.  Stiles blinked down at him, taking in the sight of his reddened, wet lips and the expanse of skin exposed from Derek’s button-up shirt riding up at his hips and the three buttons Stiles had managed to unbutton.

 

“Oh my god,” Stiles laughed, falling back against the decorative love seat.  “You’re too hot to stare directly at.  Like a solar eclipse or something.”

 

Derek paused for a beat.  “Good job I bought you sunglasses,” Derek muttered, rubbing where he landed on the floor ruefully as he stood.  “You’re… god, Stiles,” he swallowed, gesturing down.

 

Stiles kind of knew what he meant, because if Derek found him even the slightest percentage as attractive as Stiles found him, Derek’s brain was probably leaking a bit at the sight.

 

Stiles was not elaborating on which brain.

 

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Stiles suggested, eyebrows rising as Derek pulled out his phone in response, a hint of a playful smirk at his lips.  “Like what you see?” Stiles asked, arching slightly as he stretched and spread his legs a little wider, enjoying the way Derek fumbled for his phone.

 

“I’m just doing as you suggested,” Derek said in a smooth flirtatious tone.  “Making it last longer.”

 

Stiles winked at him.  “I like this mutual appreciation society we have going on,” he smirked, using Derek’s body to help pull himself up off the couch.  He pressed a kiss into the corner of Derek’s mouth. 

 

“Come on,” Derek said, pulling Stiles into the middle of the hallway.  “I promised you a dance off, and I can’t think of a better opportunity than Nickelback.”

 

Stiles was about to tell Derek that they couldn’t make out anymore if that was Derek’s taste in music when Derek started to dance in place, his movements really awkward and painfully self-aware, and Stiles remembered that he hadn’t challenged Derek to a dance-off to see which of them was the best dancer, he’d challenged Derek to a dance-off to see which of them had perfected the best white-man-in-club dance.

 

Stiles wheezed as Derek stepped to the side, his fists held in front of him like he was playing a Gameboy.

 

This was the guy Stiles could really fall for.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Derek:

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“So I guess this is good night,” Stiles said, leaning towards Derek with his mouth open, telegraphing his intent and a hundred half-realized fantasies Derek had about his lips.  Derek met him half-way, eager to get his mouth on Stiles’ for the last time.  To him, the kiss tasted like promise and Derek regretted that he’d never get the chance to explore that fully.

 

Of course the first time he’d actually needed and wanted to be with someone with the kind of intensity that itched beneath his skin, prompting himself to give away far too much of himself too soon, they were only staying for a weekend.

 

Because while Stiles was saying good night, Derek was more realistic than that.  He knew this was goodbye.

 

“Good night,” he echoed, sealing their lips together in a chaste kiss before he pulled away for his own sanity.  “Bye Stiles.”

 

Stiles gave him an inscrutable look before closing the door to his hotel room with a small click, leaving Derek in the hallway with his hands balled into fists, struggling against the urge to knock and ask Stiles to let him in.

 

In to his hotel room.  Into his life.  It didn’t make much difference because to him the gesture would mean the same.

 

Derek hated spending the night at the Hale mansion, but it was closer than his own condo and there was something about saying goodbye to Stiles that left him exhausted, a soul-deep wariness that left him unable to make the drive home safely.  He could feel happiness slipping through his fingers.

 

“You didn’t tell him, did you?”

 

Derek jumped at the sound of his uncle’s voice coming from the library.  He’d been sure he was alone with his thoughts.  “Tell him what?”

 

Peter sighed and rolled his eyes.  “God, you’re stupid.  You didn’t tell that boy that you wanted a relationship with him.  You just said goodbye to him.  Kid, you’re not even mine, and you’re repeating my mistakes, because once he figures out that while he was thinking of ways for the two of you to work long distance, you were letting go of him, he’s going to think you used him for his damn indecent mouth.”

 

“I didn’t use him,” Derek answered.  “And it wouldn’t work between us.”

 

“The only Shakespearean tragedy here is your face,” Peter told him, picking his drink back up and saluting Derek with it.  “Stills isn’t going off to war.  It can’t be that difficult to make things work these days, what with Facetime and texting.”

 

“You mean Facebook?” Derek asked, not even sure why he was still participating in this conversation.

 

“I mean Facetime, you Luddite.  When was the last time you upgraded your phone?  2004?”

 

“I’m going to bed.”  Derek had a really good day, he didn’t want to ruin the memory of it with his drunk uncle.

 

“Fine,” Peter sighed, taking a pull from his drink and finishing the tumbler.  He shook the glass a bit, looking tragically disappointed in the size of it before turning back to Derek with what looked like a third of the bottle in his hand.  “I’m not much of a father figure,” Peter said from deep within his whiskey decanter.  “The best thing I ever did for any of you three was encouraging my ex-wife to take custody of Cora when she returned to England, and even that… the three of you round each other out.  It was a mistake to break you kids up, I see that now.”

 

“Cora’s happy where she is…” Derek began. LA would have been terrible for Cora.  His sweet little sister wouldn’t have survived it.  Laura would have seen to that.  Derek had very few reasons to thank Peter, but Cora not experiencing the same teen years Derek had was one of them.

                                                                                                                                                    

“You’re not,” Peter interrupted bluntly.  “You’ve spent so long adapting to a toxic environment that you’ve forgotten how to live outside of it.  Your sense of purpose was always as a protector, and without someone to protect you lost yourself.  He’s good for you.  Don’t let him leave without telling him that, it’s a mistake you can never take back and the knowledge of that is worse than the risk you take saying a few words.” Peter snorted into his decanter.  “And I’m drunk.  Call that cute little maid to give me a turn-down service, won’t you?”

 

“No.”

 

Peter just shrugged.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles:

 

x.x.x.x.

 

 

It had taken Stiles a while to recognise the unease he felt upon waking up.  He’d been so tired the night before that he’d flopped onto the awesome hotel mattress and slept through the night in his dress clothes and it wasn’t until he was halfway through his shower, thinking about the way Derek’s cheeks flushed as Stiles had slid his hand over the front of Derek’s pants, palming his erection through the layer of cloth as Derek’s head tilted backwards towards the wall.  Stiles swallowed heavily, revisiting the events in the privacy of his shower.  The sight had been the highlight of their make out session, and the kissing had been extremely good, so that was saying something.

 

Stiles thought about how they had said goodbye and how he should have dragged Derek into his hotel room for the night.  Derek would have, maybe, if Stiles had just asked, or repeated the scene in the venue hallway at his door as Derek was saying goodbye.

 

The realization that Derek had actually meant it when he said ‘bye’ the night before hit Stiles faster than arousal had, and he was left feeling chilled and exposed in the middle of the bathtub.  He had to turn off the water and dry off, his fingers shaking around the towel, and shit.

 

That was the exact opposite of what he wanted.

 

Not that he would tell Scott when he Skyped him for company while packing.  He didn’t need that kind of sympathy when he was still away from Beacon Hills.

 

“What do you want me to say, Scott? We kissed.  A few times.  It was good.”

 

“Good?”

 

“What do you expect me to say? It was wet and kind of squishy with the sharp, awkward clank of teeth, but it felt super good! Come on, you’ve kissed someone before.  You know it either doesn’t work out or it does, and this really, really did.”  Stiles kept out the sunglasses, hooking them into the pocket of his shirt as he finished packing away his suit in the bag the store had provided.  It seemed like a bit too much effort to carry with him on the plane, but the Hales flew him in the best seats possible, so there’d be room.  He liked the way it made him look, like he was good enough for the Lydia Martins and Derek Hales of the world.

 

Though Derek actually liked him, Stiles Stilinski, the guy who wore too much plaid and not ironically.

 

(but, that tiny voice in the back of Stiles’ mind spoke up.  He doesn’t like you enough)

 

“And?” Scott prompted.

 

“And what? It’s not like we had sex or anything,” Stiles continued, realizing that was what Scott had been hinting at when his friend sighed in relief audibly over the phone.  “Really, man?”

 

“I’ve heard things, Stiles.  Things about the way famous people use their fame to get laid and trick star struck…”

 

“I’m hardly star struck by Derek Hale,” Stiles said, interrupting.  “Because 1. He’s Derek Hale, he couldn’t even get sugar to melt on his tongue.”

 

“Are you calling yourself sugar?” Scott asked, in a strained, confused tone as though he thought he knew what Stiles was saying, but really didn’t want to go there.

 

“No! I’m just saying the guy is grumpy like most of the time, and has a horrible family, but he’s not all bad.  The parts of him I like are the ones that have nothing to do with his fame, so I think I’m safe in that regard.” 

 

“Wear protection,” Scott said sagely.  “Over your heart if you can.  I’ll dig out your shoulder pads.”

 

“I’m not going to have my heart broken,” Stiles said, but he wasn’t entirely sure because he’d woken up feeling this sense that something was missing, that he’d lost out on something fantastic, because neither of them had said anything about continuing this beyond Stiles’ stay, nothing concrete anyway.

 

Scott must have heard the uncertainty in Stiles’ tone because he answered with, “It’s ok if you do. It’ll be a great story, right? And you never really liked Derek Hale anyway.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles said, but he wasn’t even sure he meant it.  “He knows peoples’ names,” Stiles blurted out.  “Like, he takes the time to learn the names of the people serving him, and he remembers them.  I don’t think it’s faked, I think he’s just that kind of guy.”

 

“Stiles…” Scott said sympathetically.  “I’ll see you tonight.  We’ll talk then.  Allison swears by ice cream for these kinds of conversations, do you want some?”

 

“Well it couldn’t hurt.”

 

He tried to give Derek the benefit of the doubt, but there was no sign of him as Stiles had breakfast or dragged his suitcase downstairs to check out.   Derek wasn’t in the car as Dorian pulled the back door open for Stiles, and he realized that yeah, Derek actually had meant goodbye.

 

Asshole.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

By the time Stiles arrived at the airport he was sure of two things.  The first was that Scott had been wrong.  Derek wasn’t using him or, more specifically, wasn’t using his fame to take advantage of eighteen year olds.  Secondly, Derek considered their day together as being it.  He wasn’t going to pursue the idea of more with Stiles, and Stiles couldn’t blame him.  Long distance relationships were a lot of work, and while Stiles was willing to give it a shot, he had also been dumb enough not to find out a way to contact Derek.

 

Derek might not be famous famous, and Stiles might know where he lived and where he went to school, but it wouldn’t be that easy to do from Beacon Hills, and anything not easy had the distinct feel of stalking.

 

He was so convinced of those two things that he didn’t bother looking around the airport as he got out of the back of the towncar, this one a bit classier than the SUV.  He had his luggage in his hand and was starting towards the automatic doors when he heard his name.

 

Only, Stiles had been down that road before.  Many-a-times.  Typically, when he heard his name someone was talking about fashion.  Obviously, Stiles had very little to do with styles.

 

And seriously? Fuck One Direction.

 

Stiles.”

 

“What the…” Stiles said, squinting against the early morning sun despite the sunglasses over his eyes.  It seemed to be a million times brighter in front of the airport, maybe the sun was glinting off the glass windows or reflecting off the planes overhead.  Something.  And there was Derek. “Are you on a motorcycle?” Stiles asked, incredulously.  “Did you chase after me, to the airport, on a motorcycle?  My heart is all atwitter.”

 

Derek frowned at him, pulling off his helmet.  His hair was really tragically smooshed over his forehead, so at least he wasn’t entirely perfect. Just mostly perfect. He shrugged, obviously not seeing what the big deal was.  “I just… I have something I want to say to you. No one has pointed out all the things wrong with me in a long time – and actually noticed the real things wrong with me and not just rehashed over old material that wasn’t even true.  I just,” Derek appealed, palms up and looking incredibly uncertain.  “I don’t want that to be over.”

 

“You’re ridiculous!” Stiles said, even as his heart wanted to go melty like the traitor it was.  “You want me to keep verbally abusing you?”

 

“I want honesty!” Derek answered, eyebrows raised as Stiles crossed his arms over his chest.  He had the distinct impression this wasn’t going the way Derek had planned already, and part of Stiles was amused by that, but another part of him refused to make it easy for Derek.

 

“Then be honest with yourself and give me the respect of being honest in return.  What do you want?” Stiles crossed his arms over his chest.  “Do you ever just go after anything you actually want?  Or do you let other people walk all over you constantly?”

 

“You,” Derek said emphatically, without taking a moment to pause and think of his answer. He scowled as the word floated between them.

 

“Yeah, I want you too,” Stiles said, taking pity on him.  “I don’t know why, this whole thing is pretty cheesy and right from a romance novel, but it turns out I’m ok with that so it works.  But you know, if you wanted my number, you should have just asked me, man.  My number is really easy to get, you pretty much had it first moment you rolled your eyes at me.”

 

Derek huffed, and Stiles knew that he was secretly amused.

 

“See!” he said, “you have it now.  But also,” Stiles reached forward, tugging Derek towards him and patting his hands over the pockets of Derek’s leather jacket until he found which one held his phone.  “This is a really nice jacket.  There’s a little bit of bad boy in you after all, isn’t there?” he asked with a smirk as his fingers unzipped the jacket pocket.  “Do you think there could be some bad boy in me, too?”

 

Derek snorted, fingers reaching out to clasp at Stiles’ waist as he let go of Derek in order to put his contact info into Derek’s phone.  “And you think my lines are cheesy.”

 

They stood there, a tableau of a couple tangled loosely in each other’s arms.

 

“Hey!” Stiles said, offended, as he texted himself an initial greeting so he could make sure he typed in his number correctly.  It was a little difficult to function considering Derek. Hale.  “That line was hot. It totally makes you want to do me.”

 

“Uh, no, not really,” Derek disagreed, leaning forward the last fraction of an inch and kissing him, distracting Stiles from the text he was trying to send so that when he checked his phone later, it just said ‘testinnnnnnnnnnnnnnn’.  Derek’s kiss wasn’t different from the ones they shared in the hallway the night before, only slower, all soft intentness and brief hitches of breath as their hands wandered, exploring at the same leisurely pace as their mouths.  There were certain limits neither of them passed while in public, so there wasn’t the same air of franticness involved, and Stiles took a moment to relish the feel of Derek’s stubble in his hands, and the solidness of his shoulders and chest pressed against Stiles’.

 

“I’m pretty sure I just detected you slipping me some tongue, you Big Hunk,” Stiles winked, biting his lip to keep from laughing outright, unable to resist one last one.  “I’ve got to go catch my plane, and you’ve got to make sure your motorcycle doesn’t get towed,” he said, gesturing at the security officer standing beside Derek’s bike about six feet behind them, already writing a ticket.  “But I appreciate the romantic gesture.”

 

“Oh for...” Derek started.  “Stiles, I…”

 

When it was obvious Derek didn’t actually have anything else to say and was just staring at Stiles with a mixture of frustration and sour-faced man-angst, Stiles took pity on him.  “Yeah, me too.  It’s been a Hale of a weekend.”

 

“Stop doing that!” Derek said, walking backwards.

 

“Text me!” Stiles said with a wave of his hand.  “Like, no wait-three-day bullshit. I’m going to be bored for most of my trip.  You never know, I might meet the heir of something else I really hate… like whoever came up with the idea to package microSD cards in those plastic clamshell packages.  I could really fall for that asshole.”

 

Stiles was smiling as he went through security, his sunglasses tucked into the front of his shirt.  And here he’d been worried that Derek actually meant it when he said goodbye.

 

New text from unknown number:

You can open those packages with a can opener.

 

Life changing moment.

 

x.x.x.x.

6 Months Later

x.x.x.x.

Stiles:

x.x.x.x.

New text from Stiles:

I GOT IN!!!

 

New text from Stiles:

WE CAN BE TOGETHER FOR A WHOLE YEAR BEFORE YOU GO TO GRAD SCHOOL

 

New text from Stiles:

If I decide to go to UCLA and if you want me there.

 

New text from Derek:

Congrats! C: please do. And we can be together 3 years because the program gives me 2 years to work in an actual business.

 

New text from Stiles:

You used an emoticon. You mean it! Awwwww.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“Have you made a decision on UCLA yet?” Derek asked, his face trying for a casual sort of disinterest, but Stiles knew how much weight the question actually carried.  Derek had been so excited when Stiles was accepted at UCLA. His dad had been so excited when Stiles was accepted to UCLA.  Stiles had been excited for about an hour before reality hit and he started worrying about how to pay for it.   It was easy for Derek, who had enough money to pay for his own education, and his dad couldn’t imagine Stiles going anywhere other than where his wife had gone, but Stiles… well, Stiles had other options.

 

Options that didn’t seem as great, but that would also cut down on the crippling debt he’d have once emerging with a degree he might not even be able to use.  He’d done his research on that.

 

“You know I want to. So much. Even before us… you and I… I wanted to go there, and they offered me a decent scholarship and financial aid package, but the cost of tuition is... I could probably manage if I worked part time throughout the year and full time during the summer, but that doesn’t account for the cost of living.  I’d practically have to go hungry and homeless to be able to attend.  University of Oregon just makes a lot more sense.  They gave me almost a full scholarship and a decent incentive package, and it just costs less to live up there, and…”

 

“You can live with me.”

 

Stiles stared at him, unable to move, or even form words. 

 

“I think our connection is frozen,” Derek frowned at his computer screen.

 

“You want me to live with you?” Stiles questioned incredulously.

 

“I have a two bedroom condo close to campus,” Derek shrugged as though his offer was no big deal.  “You’ve seen it.”

 

“Yeah, but live with you?”

 

“You don’t have to say yes,” Derek responded, crossly.  “You worry about money, but when I offered to help financially by supplementing your scholarship with my inheritance, you turned me down.  I understand that, but you should understand that it’s difficult to hear you turn away your dream school because of money when it’s something I can easily help you with.”

 

“Just because I have a mega rich boyfriend doesn’t mean I’m going to take advantage of him like that,” Stiles answered crossly.

 

Derek snorted.  “I’m never going to be mega levels of rich and you know that, but I’m comfortable enough to give you an interest free loan for school.”

 

Stiles shook his head, pursing his mouth angrily as he stared at Derek over the connection.  “I just need someone to listen to me talk it out.  I can’t talk to my dad about it.  You should have seen his face when he saw I wouldn’t have enough for UCLA.  When my mom was alive they had both incomes and they used to tell me I could go anywhere I wanted.  I guess I never really shook that mindset.  And once she died, I want to go to the place she was happy as a connection to her that could continue after I leave Beacon Hills.  It’s a difficult decision as it is, Derek.  Please just let me make it.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay?”

 

“Okay, I’ll listen to you and stop offering to help so long as you don’t completely dismiss the idea.  No matter where you go, you’ll end up with a roommate. You’ll probably still average about 3 hours of chatting with me a day, so why not just merge the two together?  It makes sense.  In business we’d call it…”

 

“I’m stopping you again,” Stiles said with a sigh.  “I don’t want to hear about why it’s good business.  Give me one good reason that isn’t based in practicality.”  He pointed at the screen.  “And you can’t. Because you don’t have one.”

 

“I don’t understand the question,” Derek frowned at him.  “Maybe because I want to give you the world, but I can’t give you the world, I’m just in the position to give you this one small piece of it.”

 

“Excuse me, what?” Stiles asked incredulously, dropping the pen he was twirling around his fingers.  “Derek, that’s… suspiciously like feelings.”

 

Derek rolled his eyes.  “I didn’t make the decision to ask you to move in with me easily.  You’re probably right, it’s a bad idea.  If you don’t understand where I’m coming from…”

 

“Uh, yeah, having your own place away from your sister and the other insane members of your family?  You really love having the autonomy and space for yourself.  Another person in your private sanctum… I understand what you’re offering, but do you?  I’m loud and I talk all the time, and I’ll eat everything in the fridge and drink out of the milk carton, and I really like television.  I’d need the television.  And… you’d really, really hate me.”

 

“It would take a lot more than that for me to hate you. I’m not even sure even you could manage that.”

 

Stiles took a deep breath because it was finally time to address something they’d never really talked about.  Derek seemed to be on the verge of handing Stiles his heart in a locked box only Stiles could open, and Stiles wasn’t even sure they were dating.  “Do you want me to move in as your roommate and friend or as your boyfriend?”

 

“Are you serious?” Stiles hadn’t heard Derek sound so unimpressed since… well, pretty much their entire day together.  And the time Stiles had asked him for his autograph on a picture of himself in the Michael J Fox commercial so he could bribe someone with it.

 

“We’ve never really defined it.  Am I your boyfriend?”

 

Derek stared at him incredulously.  Stiles felt kind of bad about it until he said, “Stiles, I don’t really like people.”

 

“Right, yeah.  I know that.” Oh shit.  Damn. What did that even mean?

 

“No, I mean… if I didn’t really want you there as both, I wouldn’t have offered for either individually.”

 

“What does that mean?” Stiles squinted at Derek in confusion, but his face was doing that thing where he deliberately hid what he was thinking.  Stiles had once thought Derek was expressionless, but the more he got to know him, the more he saw signs that said Derek had feelings and expressions, he just didn’t allow them to show.  Stiles blamed Laura and her television show for that, in part, but he was sure some of it had to do with Derek being kind of in the public eye from the time he was a young teenager.

 

Derek looked him in the eye.  “Goodnight, Stiles.”

 

They never really said bye anymore.

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

[How'd I fall so far, now no one can find me, Realize in a moment my ambition is a curse, 'Cause it hides all the best in me, but shows the worst]

x.x.x.x.

New text from Stiles:

Picture on ONTD of Laura in white pants. She needs to stop tanning bc she looks like an oompa loompa and that isn’t an association she needs being part owner of a candy franchise.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Derek was glad that summer was approaching because with summer came his internship, and with his internship came a bit more control over Hale LTD.  He’d be working with the current CEO with the understanding that in another year he’d be old enough for his controlling interest in his family’s company to finally pass on to him.  He wouldn’t oust the man out of his position, but it looked like Derek would one day step into the role of CFO.  Laura reign of being an uninformed dictator would finally draw to an end.

 

But for now, unfortunately, Derek was sitting in the board room thinking that the entire concept was a misspelling.  It was more like bored room.

 

Laura just finished passing out a report studying whether they should cash in on Twilight’s popularity and have a wolf/vampire theme, and Derek was already checking out of the conversation and that was only partially because according to Stiles, Twilight was no longer considered cool.  He’d bring that up once Laura finished going through her powerpoint.  He was prepared this time with a graph and everything.  It may or not have been made by his boyfriend and it may or may not be a line graph comparing Twilight’s popularity to the popularity of mosquitos and other blood suckers.

 

But, he was 100% prepared to agree to a Halloween special edition of wolf fangs.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Peter flirting with the head of HR and someone was playing Sudoku on their phone, and Laura was legitimately talking about Robert Pattinson’s abs like she didn’t know they were photoshopped, so Derek didn’t feel bad about checking his cell phone.  Gone were the days where he’d be left bored and without contact with the outside world.

 

He surreptitiously checked his phone to find 3 missed texts and a new email.

 

New text from Stiles:

I sent you a care package.

 

New text from Stiles:

And also, I don’t mean a pic of my dick

 

New text from Stiles:

But I sent you that too, check your email.

 

Derek hid his smile in the palm of his hand and turned back towards his sister.  “We’re not going to make candy abs, Laura.  That’s not our target demographic.”

 

“Maybe not the company’s, but it is yours, isn’t it?” she asked snidely.

 

“Yes, I’m gay,” Derek said with a bored expression and a deadpanned, unexpressed tone.  “It’s old news, we all know that I like licking abs and I’m sure you all know what the liquid candy drops are being used for, but if you want to have a theme that resonates with teens, vampires are not it.  I have a graph.”

 

“A graph?” Laura asked sarcastically.  “Did you finally figure out what a Kinko’s was for?”

 

“It’s FedEx Office now,” someone down the table said.

 

Yes, thank you.  Call Laura on that.

 

Derek walked confidently ahead and pulled the graph up.  Someone snorted. Peter stopped trying to flirt and turned his attention on Derek, the Hale trademark smirk playing along his mouth.  “This is the popularity of Twilight,” Derek said, pointing to the red line.  “And this is the popularity of a mosquito.  As you can see, the mosquito maintains a rather low popularity across the graph, factoring in the benefits to the environment a mosquito has, their level of annoyance, and possible health issues.  Twilight’s popularity is significantly higher right up until this point in 2011 where it dipped drastically.  It currently comes in on par with mosquitos.”  He switched the slide on his powerpoint.  “Werewolves on the other hand…”

 

x.x.x.x.

 

New text from Derek:

Thanks for the candy. But about the pic. WTF? that tshirt?

 

 

New text from Stiles:

I will be wearing it every day from now until forever

 

New text from Derek:

I can’t get a hard on with you wearing that

 

New text from Stiles:

I think you’re lying. 

 

New text from Derek:

I’m really not.

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

x.x.x.x.

 

New text from Stiles:

Prom should be included in 4 letter words.

 

New text from Derek:

I can’t wait to see you in your suit again.

 

New text from Stiles:

Fuck. I think you only like me when I’m dressed up.

 

New text from Derek:

I like the idea of dressing you down.  Sorry I couldn’t make it, for more than one reason.

 

New text from Stiles:

I’ll take pictures and you can undress me with your eyes.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

“How was it?” Derek asked as Stiles’ Skype connection solidified and he came into sight, dishevelled and beautiful.

 

“It was really terrible,” Stiles said, throwing his head back to rest on the back of his computer chair.  Derek could see up the line of his throat, corded and lean like the rest of him.  The collar of his red shirt was skewed, half of it sticking up towards Stiles’ chin and the other half peeled down over the unbuttoned top two buttons, showing Derek a clear landing strip for his tongue if he was there in person.

 

“Fuck,” Derek whispered, distracted by the sight of Stiles’ skin, appearing almost blue-tinted in the poor lighting.  There was the smallest hint of a shadow along his jawline, facial hair that Derek wasn’t even aware could grow on Stiles’ face and showed him what it would be like to wake up next to Stiles in the morning. Derek really liked the image.

 

“Yeah,” Stiles groaned.  “It’s been a long night.” He turned his head slightly and blinked down at Derek, not bothering to lift his skull off the back of the chair.  “I volunteered to be DD since I didn’t have a… well, because you have an exam this morning.  And let me tell you, I’m 100% sure the only reason people think prom is the best night on earth is because they’re high.  Or drunk.  Or both.”

 

“It wasn’t fun?” Derek prompted in a strangled tone as Stiles rubbed his face, clearly exhausted.  His long fingers ran over the length of his jaw, and then over his mouth, and Derek wanted it all.  He always wanted Stiles, and the long distance thing was challenging, but he’d spent so long on his own that even having the idea of someone there for him made his life so much better.

 

Stiles licked his lips.  “I can see the potential, but the only difference between tonight and any other party was that for once I was the best dressed, which means that about three different people spilled alcohol on me over the run of the evening and I came perilously close to being puked on.”

 

“And you wanted to see what a Los Angeles club was like at 1 in the afternoon,” Derek smirked at the memory.

 

“I’m going to change out of this,” Stiles said, exhausted and close to whining as he plucked at his shirt.  For a moment it didn’t seem like he was getting to get up until his hands grasped the arms of his wheeled computer chair and he groaned as he propelled himself to his feet.

 

“Wait,” Derek said as Stiles stood.  “Put the jacket back on. Let me see.”

 

“You’ve seen texts,” Stiles reminded him, but complied, shoving his arms into the sleeves of the tux jacket before throwing himself back into his chair as though standing for a minute was too much effort.  “My dad practically has a camera full of pics, not to mention Scott’s mom and everyone at the prom.  Believe me, you’re not going to miss seeing me in my finery,” he finished, gesturing to his body in a Vanna White gesture.  “In fact, you’re going to be so sick of seeing pictures of me rolling my eyes at drunk people that you’ll weep in relief at my ‘Sourwolf is my Favourite Thing to Suck on’ shirt.”

 

“Doubtful.  I hate that shirt.” Derek scowled.  There was no way that monstrosity was going to grow on him.  The first time he’d seen it on a teenage girl, he’d almost died at the innuendo, because fine the saying was popular, but everyone knew he was Sourwolf, Sourwolf was him.  He was being objectified and felt slightly violated every time he saw someone wear it because it was obvious what it really meant and he had to remind himself not to yell ‘WELL I DON’T WANT YOU TO’.

 

Stiles, though.  Stiles thought it was hilarious.  Derek was marginally sure Stiles had bought a box full of them and actually planned to wear them for the rest of his life.

 

“Just you wait,” Stiles said, leaning forward to check something on his computer.  “100 new notifications, Jesus Christ don’t you people have better things to do? – I’m going to blow you so often wearing it that you’re going to get an inappropriate boner every time someone says the word Sourwolf.”

 

“That will be incredibly unfortunate during board meetings,” Derek agreed, watching the breadth of Stiles’ shoulders as he leaned forward.  Derek wasn’t sure why the sight never failed to surprise him.  He expected to be familiar with Stiles’ illusion of simultaneously being both larger and slimmer than he appeared to be on a daily basis.   He watched as Stiles scowled at his computer screen, half distracted by Facebook, eyes flitting over to watch Derek every few seconds.  It would bother him if he wasn’t used to Stiles’ shocking ability to multitask.  It was a skill most people claimed to possess, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever truly witnessed it until he saw Stiles carry on a conversation with him while doing his homework and repairing some of his lacrosse gear.

 

There were different kinds of genius.  That, Derek was well aware of.

 

Like how his sister was genius at tormenting him.

 

“You look good tonight. I look forward to seeing the pictures.”

 

“Thanks,” Stiles said, offhand.  “I’m going to photoshop you into some. It’ll be like your creepy fanclub and those naked porn pics they pasted your face on.  Only they’ll have me in a suit.  That’s like porn, right?”

 

“Yes. Now take off your jacket,” Derek prompted suddenly, because if you had someone as attractive as Stiles, a deadly combo of perpetually horny, hilarious, and intelligent in front of you, you took advantage of opportunities and you made sure that he had a prom night he’d remember, even if Stiles did end up going to Oregon and they eventually drifted apart.

 

“I just put it on,” Stiles answered crossly, scowling at him.

 

It was good to note that Stiles wasn’t as sharp at 5 AM after a night awake corralling drunk friends.  Most times he’d respond to a suggestion like that with a few suggestions of his own, but in the soft pre-dawn light he simply yawned and shrugged off the jacket, getting slightly violent as his arm got caught in the sleeve and he was forced to jerk it off with aborted motions that showed that he actually did care about what happened to it.

 

“You didn’t stay up all night studying, did you?”  Stiles asked, covering a yawn with his hand before scratching at his neck.  His sleeves were already rolled up his forearms, and Derek watched as his large hand tugged impatiently at his collar.  He was definitely getting aroused just watching him.

 

“No, I slept from 10 PM to 3 AM.  I could use a break.”  Derek licked his lips as he watched Stiles fingers scratch at his neck like the collar was suddenly itchy.  “If it bothers you that much, unbutton it,” Derek suggested.

 

Stiles did as he was told, muttering about someone tagging him in a picture that clearly wasn’t him. 

 

“Maybe your pants,” Derek continued in a casual tone.

 

“Good idea,” Stiles remarked, automatically complying.  Then he paused, skewing his face into a confused grimace.  “I thought I was going to change completely,” he said, hands on the front of his pants.  “Why am I still…” Stiles looked down at his hands and then back up at his computer, eyes widening with appreciation.  “Derek!” he laughed.  “Oh my god, are you initiating Skype sex?”

 

Derek was.  “It’s nice you’re finally catching on.”

 

“If you told me I could be naked by now,” Stiles griped, wriggling out of his pants.  Derek couldn’t see beyond what the camera showed him, but he could tell that Stiles hadn’t bothered taking them off completely and that they were pooled at his ankles, wrinkling on the floor.  Stiles was already half hard and Derek watched as he lightly stroked a finger up the line of his erection, looking at Derek through his eyelashes.  “Are you going to join me?”

 

Derek leaned backwards and ran his fingers down the length of the buttons holding his pajamas together, feeling how hard he was beneath the soft flannel.  His erection was tenting the front of his pants, and he made sure to brace his hands on his thighs for a moment so Stiles could see the way the pull and stretch of the material made the tip of his cock peek out through the gap in the flannel.  “I’m already there,” Derek told him.  “I’ve been thinking about this all morning.”

 

Stiles licked his lips and leaned forward to look, which was definitely one of Stiles’ worst habits during Skype sex.

 

“I bought a special lube for an occasion just like this.”

 

“Lubricant?” Derek asked, thinking about Stiles’ fingers wet and glistening.  He didn’t want to think about how his voice perked up at the thought.

 

“Just wait,” Stiles said, holding up a finger.  “I have just the thing.”  He drew out a bottle of Sourwolf Liquid Drops and brandished it in front of Derek like a prize.  “I’ll just dribble Sourwolf all over my cock until I’m coated with it.  Mrrrow, sexy right?”

 

“You’re deliberately trying to kill the mood, aren’t you?” Derek asked over the sound of Stiles laughing. 

 

“No, I’m serious.  I want to find out if the internet lied about this, because of course I know about the porn video.  I was going to save this for a special occasion so you could lick Sourwolf off of me, but neither of us really like the taste so I wouldn’t put you through that.  Prom is as good a time as any to give this a test drive.”

 

“You know what would make this even more of a special occasion?” Derek questioned.  “If you forgot about the super gross liquid candy and masturbated for me using hand lotion like a normal eighteen year old.”

 

“You have the best dirty talk,” Stiles grinned at him.  “You wanna see it, don’t you?  Watch me get off to your voice and your face and your eyes watching me?”  Stiles started to stroke himself in earnest, rapidly hardening to the suggestion.  “I want to feel you inside of me.  I want to try so many things with you.  Some I’m not even sure you’d go for.  You’ve never... Can you…”

 

“What?”

 

Stiles seemed hesitant.  “Sometimes I think about what you’d look like spread out in front of me, touching yourself.”

 

Derek raised his eyebrow sarcastically, hand closed around his erect dick.  “I am touching myself. That doesn’t take much imagination.”

 

“No, I mean,” Stiles gestured vaguely with his free hand, removing it from where it was spread against his sternum to flick his index and middle finger towards the camera. “I picture you fingering yourself for me, feet planted on the bed and thighs stretched open and holy shit why are you getting up?”

 

“You said you wanted to see,” Derek said, stripping off his shirt as he looked backwards at the computer.  “This way you can see, but you can’t touch.”

 

“Jesus Derek,” Stiles said, his tone reverent and even though he was no longer facing the camera, he knew Stiles’ eyes were on him as he finished removing his pants and climbed into bed.  He faced the webcam again, realizing he couldn’t see Stiles from this distance and rolled to his feet.  Stiles let out an aborted moan as Derek re-crossed the room towards him, not bothering to cover his nudity as he reached for the computer and carried it to his bed, setting it against the headboard and them climbing on top of the sheets.

 

Stiles’ face was already red and lax with arousal, staring at Derek through half-lidded eyes as he lazily dragged his hand down his cock for the contact, trying to last as long as possible as Derek set himself up. 

 

“On your back maybe,” Stiles suggested.  “I want to see all of you.  It’s unfair that I’m going to be robbed of you in 1080p or like ultra high def. This connection is kind of grainy and ohmygod. Holy shit. Derek, Jesus you’re so gorgeous.”  His hand was reaching for the screen like he could touch Derek, despite what Derek had said.

 

“Mmmhmmm,” Derek agreed, adjusting his position so that his feet were braced against the headboard on either side of the monitor.  He could barely see the small preview of what he looked like, but he didn’t need to. He could tell by the way Stiles’ attention wasn’t wandering, focused solely on the screen in front of him with his mouth open and every breath so visibly expanding his chest that Derek didn’t need to even be able to hear him to know that Stiles was appreciating the view.  It was unfortunate that he couldn’t see Stiles that well in return, and he made a mental note to invest in that kind of equipment, or at least remember to drag his HDMI cord from the back of his PS3 so he could see Stiles on the television.  Now that Stiles had mentioned high def.  Dammit.

 

“Are you…” Stiles started as Derek placed his hands on his chest, taking a moment to reach behind him for one of the pillows he’d tossed to the foot of the bed.  His entire body bowed upwards as he stretched.  “Cock. Abs,” Stiles mumbled.

 

“I’m only partially abs,” Derek responded, tilting his hips upwards so he could put the pillow under them. 

 

“Fuck, Derek,” Stiles groaned at the new angle. “I’m so hard that I can barely put sentences together. Catch up.”

 

Derek’s thumb stroked along his balls, slowly, so Stiles could watch the way his touch looked against the skin.  Completely neglecting his dick, he curled upwards towards his bedside table for his lube, knowing that the way his body moved was half of the show.  He didn’t mind for Stiles, because the reverse was true as well – Derek loved watching Stiles, the way he moved, the way he spoke, the way he looked directly at Derek when he came.

 

“Derek for fucksakes if you don’t want… ohh, yes,” Stiles agreed when he saw what was in Derek’s hand. 

 

“If I don’t want what?” Derek asked, pouring a strip of lube down his finger and smearing it across the tips.  He concentrated on reaching between his legs to touch along the opening of his anus, biting his lip before pushing in with little hesitation or display.  “If I don’t want to do this?” he asked, trying to relax through the slight discomfort.

 

“Yeah,” Stiles breathed, leaning so close to his screen that Derek couldn’t see anything but his face.  And that. That was better than being able to see a distant view of everything.

 

“I want you to watch me do this.  I want you to do this to me,” Derek told him, edging the tip of a second finger alongside the first.  This was a bit more uncomfortable, and he slowly worked at it as he spoke.  “I want to do this to you, watching as you fall apart on just my fingers.  I want…”

 

“What,” Stiles prompted, eyes incredibly direct as they watched him. 

 

“I want you here, in my bed.  Riding me.  Beneath me. Stretched open by my tongue.  I’d do that for you, Stiles.  I’d use my mouth everywhere. I want… I need you to use your mouth on me too.”  He was now taking two fingers and it was feeling less like an intrusion, sparks of pleasure skittering across his nerves.  He could feel his skin grow hot and flush, sensitive to the air around it as his nipples pebbled and he arched his hips slightly as his fingers landed the first touch directly against his prostrate.  “Oh,” Derek said in surprise.

 

“Oh,” Stiles echoed, shocked.

 

He focused on Stiles, watching his wide eyes stare at the sight in front of him, his tongue darting out to wet his lips.  His mouth was reddened and wet as though Derek had kissed him and, he thought, maybe he could drive Stiles so insane that his mouth would be absolutely debauched just from the slide of his own tongue and the scrape of his own teeth.

 

“Is this what you wanted?” Derek asked, his voice rough and silken with pleasure.  Each minute thrust of his fingers against his prostrate left little sparks of light behind his eyes, and every twist of his knuckles left him writhing against the sheets, desperate for more.  The fingers of his free hand were tangled in the blankets, clutching the fabric and pulling it towards him as though the effort would ground him and syphon off some of the intensity.

 

“More,” Stiles prompted, eyes glazed like he wasn’t even aware of the words emerging from his mouth. “You look so good.  So good. I didn’t think you’d say yes. I didn’t imagine this. You’re so much better. You’re always better. I wish I could touch you.  Derek, want you so badly.  So bad. So much and I can’t.  I can’t, Derek you’re too much and I just want more, everything you can give me.”

 

“Not today.” Derek shook his head, trying to collect his words and remember why it was a bad idea to slip in a third finger, because the feel of it would be so good, so thick inside him, and he yearned for that.  He wanted Stiles’ hands, fingers slimmer than his but so much more dexterous.  He might be able to work up to all of them, and the thought left him groaning, and throwing his other arm over his eyes with his chin tilted up, cheeks and chest flushed.  “I have to sit through a 3 hour exam.”

 

“Christ. Derek, holy shit you like it,” Stiles breathed as Derek allowed his eyes to close as his hips desperately moved against his hand, trying to fuck himself open with two fingers. His arm fell off his face, landing on the bed behind his head. He had to open his eyes again to watch Stiles, because watching Stiles’ eyes and their intense focus always pushed Derek just a little bit further. 

 

“Yeah,” Derek said, unclenching his free hand so he could wrap it around his erection.  He was so hard it was becoming painful, and he fucked up into his fist the moment his hand wrapped around his cock.  “Fuck, Stiles, fuuuuck,” he groaned, speeding up his hand.  He wasn’t good enough at multitasking, not like Stiles was, so the fingers in his ass were clumsy and mostly just edging up against the angle that felt best, allowing his body to do the majority of the work as he arched into his hand, almost wanton in the way he moaned and clenched against his fingers until Stiles was cursing right along with him.

 

“Jesus.  Fuck, Derek. Jesus FUCK. You’re…” Stiles tried, swallowing heavily and throwing his head back, neck and chin entirely in frame.  He groaned, his eyes still watching Derek with his mouth wide open as he trembled in his seat and panted as he struggled to keep his eyes open.

 

He looked so amazing, so perfect as he came from watching Derek touch himself, that it all kind of hit Derek at once – his attraction towards Stiles combined with the sensation and intense pleasure he was evoking out of his body, until he was curving his body to the side, shoulders bent backwards as his entire body bowed as he came.

 

Derek wasn’t sure how long he lied there trying to catch his breath, his body shaking as it dispelled the last bits of pleasure soaking through his skin and racing like electricity through his blood.  He felt like moving too soon might drain the phantom sensation of orgasm twitching through his limbs, but he had to see Stiles since neither of them were able to touch.

 

“That was so hot,” Stiles said, staring at him.  He looked relaxed, head lolling back against his seat.  His shirt was still wide open, red framing his flushed skin in a way that made Derek want keep the image in his memory forever.  “We’ll do that again, right?” he asked before yawning.

 

“Go to bed, Stiles,” Derek urged gently.  “Happy prom night.”

 

Stiles snorted.  “You jerk,’ he said fondly.  “You planned that.”

 

Goodnight. I’ll try to clear my schedule to talk again tonight.”

 

“Yeah, I am tired. Good luck on your exam,” Stiles said, maintaining eye contact as he pressed the exit button from the call.

 

x.x.x.x.

Derek:

x.x.x.x.

 

Sometimes, on really busy days, like during exam time, Derek took stock of his life choices and thought it might be easier if he had really embraced the party hard-y business acumen like his sister had.  While Laura didn’t bring in the same amount of cash just for her presence at an event like Paris Hilton did, she did make enough not to bankrupt Hale LTD with her taste in exorbitantly priced handbags and diamond-encrusted knickknacks. 

 

Derek didn’t really get the appeal.  Sure, he’d pay a little extra for a good quality leather jacket and his closet might have one or two (dozen) of them, but he didn’t encrust them with gemstones.

 

(With the exception of the Halloween he dressed up as Billy Idol and even then he’d been more concerned by whether the temporary dye would come out of his hair easily than the state of the spikes coating his shoulders.  It didn’t.  He’d had to get an emergency appointment at a salon downtown so that he didn’t spend the first week of November walking around with chalky grey hair.  It was one life choice he more or less tried to put from his mind.)

 

His point was, it sounded really easy to show up places, look pretty, wear some kind of designer piece he was sponsored to wear, and then leave.  So much easier than this.

 

He had just finished three of his five exams and had a final project due in the days between the last two.  There was stress and then there was third-year, want to do well enough to get into a Harvard Business School stress.

 

Derek tugged at his hair as he stared at the notes spread out across the table in front of him.   His phone vibrated on the desk, and he was tempted to ignore it.

 

New text from Stiles:

BTW I sent you another care package. Forgot something imp! that I think you’ll like.

 

“Is that…”

 

Derek looked up at the hushed tone practically on top of him, the small, pleased smile falling from his lips as he took in the group of people paused in front of his table.

 

He didn’t have time for this.  He might not be a full-fledged star, but there was nothing worse than being recognized when trying to concentrate on work.  Fans invariably believed they were entitled to a few minutes of his time and he’d have to answer questions that ranged from what he was doing in a library to whether it was true that he’d once killed a cop. 

 

It wasn’t.  At least not in that context. Derek had played a video game once.

 

Or twice.

 

It was no wonder that Derek was known for being rude, which was probably where a lot of the rumours about his personality disorders came from, but he couldn’t bring himself to care when he was attempting to do three things at once, had a complex math equation in front of him that had an error in it somewhere, and he was running on less than five hours of sleep, two cups of coffee, and a bag of the only candy left in the poorly stocked vending machine situated across from the elevator on the floor he was on.

 

Sourwolf, of course, because his life couldn’t get any more frustrating.  He had to be faced with the fact that the JuJubes emptied out of a vending machine catering to desperate students before his family’s legacy did.

 

Sourwolf Candy was disgusting, but it was the eponymous candy in their line of candies, even if the Sweetish Berries were a thousand times better and actually brought in most of the revenue.

 

“… yeah, it’s Derek Hale,” someone responded, with the click of a camera phone.  “Of Sourwolf fame.”

 

 “Sourwolf, like the shirt from Hot Topic?”

 

“No, it was his catphrase first.  He’s the Sourwolf.”

 

Technically Michael J Fox was the sourwolf.  Get it right, people.

 

Derek tried to concentrate on his work and ignore it.

 

Sometimes, people recognized him and came over to beg for a bag of candy or to dump a handful of stale Sourwolf in front of him and bitch him out about them. Mostly, they were used flirtatiously and it always left him baffled that someone would try to sexily suck on a little candy wolf in his range of sight, but then he’d practically been seduced by someone shoving a whole pack of them in their mouth, so maybe there was something to be said for appealing to his sense of proprietorship towards them. Those encounters sometimes left him equally as enraged as they did confused, but with a small warmth in his stomach at the fact he was being judged for who he was and not for what he was perceived to have done.

 

There was a thin line there that he couldn’t really explain, but he didn’t want to leave behind the Hale name, just the name he had made for himself when he was sixteen, stupid, and too trusting of his family.  He’d kept his head down for a long time after Hale-o ended for just that reason.

 

“You’ll see a lot of recognizable faces on campus,” someone said in response.  “Remember, your actions as students reflect on the University, and how you act in the presence of famous people on your own time is up to you, but if there are complaints the school will take action.  Take Derek Hale, for example.  He’s a student here and can usually be seen studying in this area of the third floor – he’s just like you, has exams at the same time you do…”

 

Derek looked up mid-speech in horror.  He’d been singled out as a part of an orientation tour.  He shifted uncomfortably, wondering if he should just get up and leave.

 

For fuck’s sakes.

 

“I should complain about this,” he said in a tone that emphasized exactly how unhappy and short tempted he was about a group of high school students staring at him with varying degrees of gawking/disinterest.  “I’m not a zoo animal or a museum exhibit.”

 

“No, no of course not,” the orientation guide answered him, clearly flustered for being called on his bullshit.

 

Yeah, well Derek had stale candy stuck in his teeth and had managed to keep a four-person table all to himself for the past hour like the asshole he was, he wasn’t leaving now and giving that luxury up.  He was seriously not in the mood for anyone’s shit.

 

“Your name?” he asked.

 

“What?” the guy squeaked.

 

“Your actions reflect on the university,” Derek mocked.  “So I think I should take action against those actions and make sure that actions such as this aren’t repeated in the future.”

 

“That’s not…”

 

“Leave,” Derek interrupted him, going back to his notes.  He wasn’t even sure this was a math equation anymore.  He might have accidentally transcribed half of the ingredients from his powerbar and a receipt. 

 

“Where have you been?” the Tour Guide who was probably Paparazzi in training hissed at someone, deflecting the way everyone in his group was tittering in a manner that was annoying Derek. 

 

“Oh, you know…” was the answer.  “Coffee!”

 

That gave him pause because the enthusiasm in that tone was familiar, but he didn’t want to make eye contact with the group again in case he was wrong.

 

He was 95% sure he was right, but then he’d thought someone had sounded like Stiles before and it hadn’t been him.

 

“No, don’t!” the tour guide hissed.  “Don’t bother him!”

 

“Hey!” the voice said as someone slid into the seat across from him, actually dislodging his feet before sitting down.  Derek fumbled with his pen, dropping it on the table and watching as it rolled across to land in front of… someone in a hoodie.

 

“Dude, you’ve got to come with us…!” the tour guide begged.

 

Derek made a sound of dissent from the back of his throat.  It wasn’t a growl.

 

Though, it could definitely be classified as growl-like.

 

“Come now, Butterfingers, I brought you one too.”

 

A coffee slid into his range of sight, getting caught on the edge of one of the books spread out around him and sloshing over his notes.  The damage wasn’t too bad, coffee just soaking into the edge of two sheets, but Derek barely registered the fact he was dragging his notes out of the way as his eyes flicked upwards in the direction of his company, confirming what his ears had already told him to pay attention to.

 

“Stiles,” he greeted calmly, a tiny smile he was unable to completely stop curving at the edges of his mouth.  “Did you just call me a different company’s candy?” It sparked a memory of something.  Of being pleased when Stiles called him a nerd.  And the strangeness of the ‘fun dip’ conversation.  “Have you been doing that all along?”

 

Stiles froze for a second with his coffee half way to his mouth.  “You can’t fool me.  For all your deadpan delivery, you’re secretly really pleased to see me.”  Stiles grinned at him, bypassing the question entirely and taking a sip of his coffee, holding Derek’s eyes with his.  Derek always tried to convince himself it was ridiculous to think Stiles’ eye colour to be anything but brown, but he always tried to come up with more apt, if foolish, analogies.  Burnished gold.  The reflection of the sun in a tumbler of aged whiskey.  The hues of the forest in the autumn after the leaves had changed colour. 

 

Mostly he was left feeling stupid, because Stiles’ eyes were brown, not some unidentifiable colour, just like his were green. 

 

Just green, like it said on his driver’s license. 

 

“Is that so?” Derek asked, smiling a little wider.  “Am I really pleased to see you, or am I just happy for the caffeine?”

 

“I put a mountain of sugar in it, just how you like it,” Stiles mentioned, raising one shoulder like it was no big deal that he remembered that six months after the fact.  “You mentioned you were stressed the last time we spoke.  I almost didn’t come, but you said you set aside some time to chat with me tonight, so…” Stiles threw his arms open. Tada.  “Here I am. Surprise! I’m your care package.”

 

“I meant over Skype,” Derek reminded him, taking a sip of the coffee. He wondered if he’d need to tell Stiles that he didn’t really like coffee, and only drank it while feeling particularly stressed, or if it was something Stiles just knew.  “After I had dedicated my afternoon to working out this assignment and studying.  I have two exams coming up.”

 

“Awww,” Stiles smirked, drawing little circles on the table, dragging a wet line of spilled coffee across the wood with one long finger. Jesus.  That made Derek think things. Things related to what they had done that morning.  “Am I your reward for a hard day’s work?”  He licked his lips and leaned forward, practically draping himself across the table, sleeve dragging along the coffee spill until the cuff was damp and stained brown.  Derek wasn’t sure if Stiles was attempting to be provocative or flirty, or if this was just how he talked with someone he was sitting across an expanse of space from.  “Now that I’m here, maybe I can think of some other way to reward you?”

 

Flirty.

 

Definitely flirty.

 

“… boyfriend,” Stiles finished, looking up at Derek through his long lashes.  The expression wasn’t coy – Derek didn’t think Stiles had it in him to be coy – but it was rapacious, all sharp intent hidden beneath the partially-lidded gaze and unobtrusive body language.

 

Derek ran his tongue across his bottom lip to ease the sudden dryness of his mouth as he slid his calf along the inside of Stiles’ leg, enjoying how their legs tangled beneath the table, all casual, hidden touches.

 

“Why are you here?” Derek asked, not bothering to soften the blunt question with caveats about how he was happy to see Stiles sitting across from him.  He did, however, tuck his leg behind Stiles’ so that their Achilles tendons were curved together, which might be fifth grade, but the symbolism wasn’t lost on Derek.

 

“Well you told me you’re spending the summer working for the old family grindstone – which, FYI, is what I think Sourwolfs are made from – and…”

 

“The ground remains of my family?” Derek interjected incredulously. 

 

Stiles gave him a look of horror, his expression slowly changing into concession as he nodded.  “They certainly taste it.  Gelatin comes from somewhere, right?”

 

Derek gaped at him.

 

“Sorry,” Stiles brushed it aside.  “Tasteless joke, just like Sourwolfs… ok, I’m done now.  Point I was trying to make is that you’re going to be working for Hale Limited for the summer and I needed to tour my new school at some point, and I would rather it be while I can see your sweet face.”

 

Derek frowned at him, trying not to appear too hopeful.  He’d done his best to allow Stiles to make the decision on his own, and while he wasn’t sure it seemed that way to Stiles, there had been so many times he had managed not to say what was on his mind.

 

What was on his mind was that he was tired of being alone, even when surrounded by people who knew his name, and he’d wanted Stiles to be happy only slightly more than he wanted him for himself.

 

“You decided?”

 

Stiles reached half-way across the table and took one of the stale Sourwolf Candy out of the bag, eying the little wolf head as he toyed with it.  “Yeah, I mean…” he took a bite of the candy in a way that Derek learned was casual for Stiles but on anyone else would look like a violent carnivore tearing flesh off with its mouth.  The hand holding half a candy gestured widely around them, but Stiles’ eyes fell directly on him.  “There are some things that you just want so badly that it’s foolish to let them go when they’re practically handed to… oh god!” he said in disgust, looking around frantically before his eyes fell on a garbage can set up beside the table.  Stiles ended up leaning far over, torso and limbs stretched as he spit the candy into the garbage.  “That’s so gross.”

 

He sat up, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. 

 

Derek snorted because people tried to eat Sourwolf Candy in front of him all the time, but none of them quite managed to do it like Stiles did, because Stiles didn’t keep it a secret that he hated the taste and for some reason Derek appreciated him all the more.  There might be some wires crossed in his head at that one, but he thought there might not be anything more attractive than Stiles’ attempts at swallowing.

 

And failing.

 

With candy.

 

Stiles eyed Derek with suspicion, as though Derek had tricked him into eating the candy.  “Is that tour group still here?” he asked, getting to his feet.

 

“Yeah, they’re watching us from a few stacks over.”

 

“Buzzards,” Stiles muttered, shoving Derek’s stuff aside before settling on the table in front of him.  “I have smooth moves, shut up,” he said, attempting to attractively move his foot across Derek’s legs but ended up getting the rubber of his converse sneakers stuck against the seam of Derek’s jeans.

 

“I know you do,” Derek reassured, rubbing his hands up Stiles’ thighs.  “I’m used to a certain standard of living.  I wouldn’t put out for anyone but the best.”

 

“Shut up,” Stiles laughed, leaning forward.  “I watched you chop hot dogs and whatever veggies you had in the fridge into a package of instant noodles the other day and call it stir fry.”

 

“I’m a college student,” Derek reminded him, grabbing the string on Stiles’ hoodie and using it to draw him forward. “You can cook, if it bothers you so much.”

 

“Eh,” Stiles said, pressing his mouth against Derek’s.  “You were so hot this morning.  I’ve been thinking about you all day.  I hardly slept, I realized right around the time you were heading for your exam that I was going to accept your offer.  Take me home.”

 

Hearing Stiles refer to Derek’s condo as home wiped away all the reservations Derek had.

 

“Fuck,” Derek hissed, shoving his papers into his bag.  “I have to work on this project.”

 

“I have a project I’d like to work on too,” Stiles reminded him, a glint in his eye.

 

x.x.x.x.

 

Stiles:

x.x.x.x.

“Wait,” Stiles said, drawing away from Derek’s hands and stepping fully into the living room.  “It’s different.  You moved the television downstairs,” Stiles said with awe, staring at Derek’s living space.  “Derek, you moved the television downstairs.”

 

“Why are you so shocked?” Derek answered, shifting slightly in a movement that actually spoke volumes.

 

Stiles shook his head.  “It’s just… really thoughtful.  Jesus, you didn’t even know for sure I’d say yes, and wait, did you…?” Stiles turned towards the stairs, racing up them.  Despite the fact Stiles had never been in the upstairs area of Derek’s apartment, they’d been on Skype and FaceTime enough that Stiles had seen all the rooms, including the bathroom when a very wet Derek, fresh out of the shower, had answered his phone just to torture him (Stiles was guessing, and not because Stiles had been freaking out and called four times in five minutes).

 

He thought he’d be running up the stairs for the very different reason from this, maybe with Derek chasing him and maybe while stripping off clothing.

 

So he was well aware of which room was Derek’s recreation room where he exercised/watched television/played the occasional Halo game. 

 

Derek was right behind him when he threw open the door and found the walls painted similar shades of blue and grey as the walls in his bedroom.

 

“Derek?” Stiles questioned in awe.  “You changed around your apartment to accommodate me.  This is our happy ever after, isn’t it?  Awww, come here,” Stiles said, making a kissy face.

 

“Don’t be an asshole,” Derek told him, holding Stiles’ chin away from him, Stiles could tell he was secretly pleased, because he had that tiny pleased flush to his cheeks and his cheekbones became more pronounced when he was trying not to smile.  Stiles might not understand expressions well, but he’d just spent 6 months staring at Derek’s face and he knew it better than anyone’s.

 

And there was still so much to learn.

 

“For fucksakes, Derek, I love you too.  Don’t be such an emotionally stunted Sour Patch Kid about it.”

 

Derek glowered at him.  “Get out of my house.”

 

“Our house,” Stiles corrected him, entering the bedroom and flopping on the bed.  Oh my God, the bed.  Derek had bought him the bed.  The 4-star hotel quality bed that he’d been lusting after for months and missed almost more than he missed the man in front of you.  “Want to have sex on my new, really very superior bed?  Quick, before my roommate gets back.  Surly guy, kind of famous before his career tanked…”

 

“I never made a career… would you stop it,” Derek demanded, wrapping his hand around Stiles’ ankle as Stiles ran his toe down Derek’s chest.  His fingers slid up Stiles’ leg, hooking beneath his knee and hauling both Stiles and the comforter beneath him down the mattress so that his legs were hanging off the side, the one in Derek’s hand now hooked around his waist.

 

“I don’t know why you haven’t kissed me yet,” Stiles said, grinning up at Derek.  “We’re having a moment.”

 

“I do love you,” he admitted.  “But I have no idea why.”

 

“Yeah?” Stiles asked, his heart beat racing at hearing the words, spoken so casually.  Derek wasn’t emotionally stunted, but for some reason Stiles kept looking at his face and thinking that he was.  It was probably the glower.  But he knew how much Derek doted on Cora long distance, and how much he had tried with Laura when they were younger.  He knew the story about Derek’s parents and Peter, and how he went from a warm, loving environment to living with his bachelor uncle, and he thought that maybe Derek had completely shelved off that side of him, but he’d learned very early on that it was just lurking out of sight, and each time Stiles broke through a little more with simple things like remembering Derek’s aversion to chocolate cake, a little piece of it crumbled away so Stiles could see all of Derek.  Christ, yes, he loved Derek.

 

But that didn’t mean he was going to go maudlin on him.

 

Stiles unzipped his hoodie and allowing Derek to see the shirt beneath it.  He offered Derek his hands. “It’s probably because I’m hilarious.”

 

“I hate that damn shirt,” Derek grumbled, pulling Stiles into a sitting position.  “Take it off.”

 

“I can comply with that, sir!” Stiles stripped off his hoodie and then the shirt.  He was feeling happy, almost to the point of being annoying with it, but he felt so good to be with Derek, to know that Derek was going to touch him and taste him and allow Stiles to explore his body.  Stiles fell backwards on the bed in what his brain inanely supplied as a ‘my body is ready’ pose.  “I missed you.  It’s funny, right? We talked every day and we really only knew each other for 24 hours, but I missed you.”

 

Derek leaned across the expanse of Stiles’ body and kissed him like Derek missed him too.

 

Maybe it wasn’t that funny after all.  Maybe, for all their snark, it was really very serious between them.

 

Maybe Stiles should stop wearing those shirts.

 

But only if Derek stopped wearing his.