Actions

Work Header

The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)

Work Text:

See, the thing is, magic exists.

It exists and Stiles has seen it, and there is no way that he can leave it at that. The thought kind of sits on the backburner while things are intense, but once bodies stop showing up on a regular basis, he starts to do some research.

Poking around the internet is a giant waste of time at first – seriously, so many terrible graphics and overdramatic declarations -- but then he realizes that magic would have existed long before Hot Topic opened, so he starts to look up old manuscripts. He bribes Danny into discovering a workaround into some of the supposedly secret archives that he finds referenced on a suspiciously obscure message board, and soon, he's found actual spells.

Only, it turns out, most actual spells revolve around really gnarly shit that Stiles really doesn't want any part of. He doesn’t want anyone's livestock to die, thank you very much, and he's not doing anything that involves goat pee as an ingredient just as a matter of principle.

Then he finds an innocuous looking spell. Innocent! Barely even a spell, really. All it does is generate affection, and everyone knows that what the world needs now is love. There's a song and everything. Multiple songs.

And, most importantly, he doesn't need anything's bodily fluids to cast it.

So, he does.

Casting it involves standing under the light of a waning moon and reading some Latin out loud. Stiles is pretty sure that he mangles the pronunciation, but not too badly, since he spent a little time watching some Latin 101 videos on youtube. He expects some sparkles or maybe an abrupt flash of light or even some spooky wind out of nowhere, but once he finishes reading the spell, absolutely nothing happens. He stands around for a few extra minutes, hoping that he gets an unexplained chill or something, but, nope. Nada.

He goes back into his house, writes, "FAILURE" on the printout of the spell in bright silver sharpie, then shoves it in the drawer of his desk that he's relegated all of the disappointing magical experimentation print outs to, and goes back to his Econ homework.

*

He picks Scott and Isaac up on his way to school the next morning, because Scott feels guilty riding his dirt bike and leaving Isaac to walk. Isaac had offered to ride with Stiles alone, but Scott had quickly said he wanted to come, too, to save on gas, which Stiles friend-decoded to mean, Scott didn't want Stiles sharing any awkward stories about pre-werewolf Scott with Isaac.

It's kind of adorable, really, their giant glaring mutual crushes.

Things get kind of weird immediately, when Isaac and Scott have a brief tussle over who gets shotgun. Isaac never wants shotgun. Isaac usually actively avoids shotgun, because he and Stiles have a toleration-based relationship, whereas Scott actually cares about the things Stiles rambles about.

But here they are, with Isaac wrapping one of his too-long arms around Scott’s neck like he knows how to give a decent chokehold, come on, anyone who has watched more than five minutes of MMA fighting knows that form is completely wrong. Scott responds with a tittie-twister, and Stiles just sits there, staring, flummoxed, like somehow this is going to end on its own.

Finally he says, “Um, guys? We’re going to be late. Er. Later than we already are, unless you cut it out.”

Their heads swivel around so fast to stare at him that Stiles actually feels unnerved, like he’s a mouse shoved into a cage with two hungry pythons. Scott’s wearing that one expression he’s convinced is sexy that Stiles has, on multiple occasions, personally sat him down and told him is creepy, never do that in front of anyone you want to kiss, they will run.

Isaac’s face is a new variation of serial-killer-in-training, with a slightly uplifted eyebrow and some serious eye action going on, and…

Oh god, is that Isaac’s come hither look? Stiles covers his face with his hands, then peeks out. The look is still there. “Are you two okay?”

“Fine, but not as fine as you,” Scott says smoothly. Well. Scott-smooth. Stiles pretends not to understand the entendre.

Isaac just nods and then delicately brushes an errant strand of hair away from his face, giving Stiles more come hither eyes.

“Are you Blue Steel-ing me right now?” Stiles asks. What in the world.

Scott snickers, which means that somewhere in there, he’s still Scott. That at least is reassuring.

Isaac pretends not to hear the question, though he does turn his face down a notch. Stiles appreciates it. “So seriously, is this a moon thing? Because we’re a little ways off from the full moon.”

“Nothing’s wrong with us,” Isaac says. Stiles doesn’t entirely believe him.

“Maybe I should take you guys somewhere that isn’t school,” Stiles says slowly. He has a vision of the two werewolf sex-facing it up around the halls of Beacon Hills High, and… no. Just, no.

“You can take me anywhere,” Scott says, and winks. Winks! Stiles can’t ignore a wink, so he just stares at Scott and says, “How did you ever get Allison to date you, seriously, you couldn’t be a bigger cornball if you tried.”

Isaac smirks at him. “You can take me, too.”

Stiles isn’t prepared to deal with these sorts of werewolf shenanigans. This is the kind of shit Alphas – well, former Alphas who presumably have a little more knowledge about weird-ass stages of werewolf puberty -- were invented for. “Hop in,” he says, decision made.

There’s more tussling until Stiles declares that they’re both going into the backseat. They climb in sullenly, and Stiles keeps an eye in the rearview mirror most of the drive, watching for sudden movements and/or hands snaking up to goose him.

They trail after him up to Derek’s loft like ducklings, and really, Stiles expected some sort of complaint. Some bitching about how school was way better than having to deal with Derek Hale, maybe. Isaac making a sad puppydog face. Scott suggesting they see Deaton instead, despite the fact that he knows that Stiles thinks Deaton is shady as fuck. But nope, they just give him dreamy looks and followed him upstairs.

It was really creepy. Derek had better know what kind of weird-ass werewolf problem they had. And if he didn’t, Peter totally would. This was definitely in Peter’s wheelhouse.

…Granted, Stiles didn’t particularly want to have any conversation with Peter about werewolf sex, given that he was one hundred percent sure that Peter would be unable to resist making extremely uncomfortable comments.

Stiles knocks on the door. Silence.

“He sleeps late,” Isaac explains. “He stays up late brooding.”

“Of course he does.” Stiles glares at the door. “Doesn’t he have those crazy alarms on here? I mean. Dude’s got talent at making enemies. What kind of security does he have, that we can just stand around outside his door and be forced to wait forever?”

“We could find something to do, if you want,” Scott suggests smoothly. “Like make out.”

“No,” Stiles says. Then he feels like that’s way too harsh, Scott would probably be awesome at making out and he should let him down a lot easier. “Not while you’re all… moon-whammied.”

Scott grins at him, all soppy and sweet, and Stiles pats him on the shoulder. “Let’s get you fixed, buddy.”

Derek answers his door a million years later, wearing sweatpants. Only sweatpants. Stiles tries his best to avert his gaze, lest Derek think he’s affected by whatever werewolf problem that Isaac and Scott are operating under.

“Fix them!” Stiles says, giving Isaac and Scott little shoves towards Derek.

Derek looks between them, clearly thinking it’s way too early for this shit. Stiles knows that feeling. Stiles is considering writing a concept album about that feeling, maybe Derek will join his band. “Fix…what?”

He sounds doubtful, and Stiles realizes belatedly that no one ever asks Derek to fix anything, much less moonstruck werewolves. “They’re acting weird.”

“Weird how?” Derek asks Stiles, ignoring the clearly ailing werewolves. Stiles wonders wildly if he’s affected, too, because then Stiles is totally screwed, okay, three werewolves Blue Steeling him is his limit, especially when one of them looks like Derek Hale.

Then Derek turns his attention on the werewolves, and clearly, Stiles must be moonstruck-adjacent if he thought that Derek would be pulled into this weirdly Stiles-centric wooing.

“Well, they’re all… amorous,” Stiles says after a pause.

“Amorous,” Derek says doubtfully, frowning at him. “With each other? Because that’s not anything new.”

“Don’t scowl at Stiles!” Isaac cuts in with, completely ignoring any commentary on his confusing relationship with Scott. He glares at Derek, and Stiles is a little relieved to see that it’s a totally different expression from the creepy one he’s been getting all day.

Derek blinks at him.

“A bit like that, mostly,” Stiles says. “Scott’s fond of pick-up lines.”

“One of them will work on you,” Scott tells him earnestly. “You’re gonna be so charmed.”

“See?” Stiles tells Derek despairingly. “It’s very awkward. So if you could just figure out what kind of werewolf pon farr is going on…”

“There’s no…” Derek shakes his head. “Is there any way to take away your internet?”

“Nope, it’s everywhere,” Stiles says as Isaac starts with the sex eyes again>. Stiles backs up to the door. “So I’m just going to leave this obviously supernatural problem here. With you. Since you’re a supernatural creature and all. Seems right up your alley. Toodles.”

“Wait—“ Derek begins, but Stiles slips out the door, after he gives Scott an apologetic look for abandoning him like this.

*

Stiles goes to school, because he really doesn’t need to deal with an unexcused absence right now. His dad is annoyed enough with him without having to field calls from the principal.

He’s walking to his locker, feeling strangely lonely without Scott at his side, when Lydia walks by, phone glued to her ear. “Jackson, seriously,” she’s saying, and then stops, mid-step.

Stiles raises an eyebrow at her. If she wants a Jackson-related insult, boy did she come to the right guy.

“One second,” she says, then lowers the phone. “Hi, Stiles.”

Her voice is weirdly breathy, like she’s been running. Stiles says, “Hi.”

She cuts her eyes down and then glances back up at him, a smirk forming. Stiles blinks. That was…. That was totally Lydia checking him out. “Looking good.”

Jackson’s voice is loud enough that Stiles can hear it clearly from the phone loose in Lydia’s hand. “Lydia, you did not just compliment Stilinski. Did you hit your head? Did he put a love spell on you? I will get on a plane and come kick his ass!”

Lydia hangs up on Jackson with a swipe of her thumb, and then she smiles prettily at him. “Don’t listen to him. It’s just that I hadn’t noticed how buff you were getting.” She runs a hand up Stiles’ bicep, which is the same exact size as it had been yesterday and the day before that and, oh, the months before that.

Stiles takes a half-step back, and bumps into the bank of lockers. “Erm, Lydia, are you okay?”

“Never better,” she says. She reaches out and touches his bicep again. Stiles stares down at it, like his arm is a foreign body that has somehow attached itself to him in the night. Something is deeply, deeply wrong.

“You didn’t… I don’t know, take a wiff of red wolfsbane or something, did you?” he asks nervously. This is veering entirely too close to Stiles Fantasy Land for his comfort. He’s pretty sure that some variation of this scenario played out in his mind about five times a day in seventh grade alone. He takes in a deep breath. Lydia is still giving him bedroom eyes, she is clearly affected by whatever whammied Scott and Isaac.

“Lydia,” Stiles says slowly, “I think Jackson had a valid point, about this being wildly out of character.”

“Mmm?” Lydia says, trailing her hand up and down his arm now.

“And I think I’m going to run away before this gets any more awkward than it already has,” Stiles says, “though I do appreciate the sentiment.”

Lydia was too busy gazing adoringly to spring into immediate action when Stiles darted around her and down the hall, weaving through students like the hounds of hell were after him.

He finally ducks into the least-popular boys’ bathroom, the one that’s always smelled vaguely like smoke after someone set the toilet on fire that one time. (Stiles doesn’t know, and doesn’t want to know.)

He fumbles in his pocket for his phone. He finds it, straightens up, and…

Danny is smiling at him. It’s a full-dimple smile. Stiles gulps. “Hi, Danny-boy!”

“Hey.” More smiling. A bit of sexy leaning, his hip against the sink. Stiles hopes that it’s cleaner than it looks. “So you remember my offer?”

“Your offer… Oh! The completely not-charming fake one?” Stiles asks.

“It’s for real, this time.” Danny starts to lean in, like he’s going to kiss Stiles or some nonsense.

Stiles stumbles backwards. Danny looks... really sad, actually, like not getting to kiss Stiles was the worst thing that’s ever happened to him. Stiles feels a little guilty, because making Danny sad is like one of the cardinal sins, but not as guilty as he’d feel if he let a clearly out-of-his-mind Danny kiss him.

“I appreciate it, I really do,” Stiles says quickly, holding his hands out as if to fend off an unwanted barrage of kisses, “but I think that you might not be thinking clearly.”

“I’m thinking very clearly,” Danny says, “about exactly what I’d like to do to you.”

Danny was thinking about doing dirty things to Stiles, okay, the balance of the universe was clearly off-kilter. Stiles says a hasty, “Thank you for your consideration,” and flees out the bathroom door.

This time as he hurries down the hall, he notices heads swiveling in his direction, and yeah, he’s pretty sure he saw porn that started out this way once. Worse, he’s pretty sure he saw an episode of Buffy that began this way, too, and given that his life is pretty damn Sunnydale, there’s a pretty big likelihood that this is going to end in angry mobs.

He hurries to the Jeep, and locks his doors before calling Derek. Derek wasn’t affected by whatever was in the water supply, and he could tell Stiles if Isaac and Scott had returned to normal.

It goes to voicemail the first time, and why does Derek even have voicemail set up, Stiles wonders, it’s not like he has a job or friends or anything. Then Stiles realizes that was super mean, especially given that Derek is the only person acting sane around him right now, and briefly apologizes to the beep.

He calls back again, and then again, until Derek, sounding aggrieved, answers.

“So… I think there’s something hinky going on,” Stiles starts out with, because it turns out that “I’m a shining beacon of sex to everyone I meet!” isn’t actually something he can actually say out loud.

“You think?” Derek grumbles. “Scott and Isaac getting into arguments. About who appreciates your smile more.”

“Well clearly Scott should win that,” Stiles says dumbly, because, wow. Like that was even an argument to get into.

“You don’t find this odd?” Derek says, and his voice is strangely cutting, like Stiles should be ashamed of himself or something.

“Well,” Stiles says, “I would have twenty minutes ago, when I thought it was a werewolf thingie, but then I went to school and had to fend off advances from the hottest people in school. Something is clearly going on. Something Stiles-centric.”

“Clearly.”

“But you’re immune!” Stiles says brightly. “So you can help me figure it out. I’ll be there in ten.”

“But—“ he hears Derek say as he hangs up. Stiles is pretty sure that Derek’s objections boil down to something along the lines of, ‘I need to sit and scowl over my life choices, not help someone with a clearly pressing issue.’

When he looks up, there is a small crowd standing around his jeep. One girl blows him a kiss; another guy holds up a notebook with a number scrawled on it.

Stiles gives a half-wave, because he doesn’t want to be rude to the people who are clearly infatuated with him, but there’s no way in hell he’s getting out of this car. No matter how cute his admirers are.

He turns the key in the ignition and slowly pulls out, waiting on people to move away from his car, and drives back to Derek’s loft.

“Hello again,” he tells the building as he walks in, because it’s not every day he comes by here twice before 9am. It’s not until he knocks on the door that he remembers that Scott and Isaac are still here and still whammied by whatever weird-ass mojo that Stiles is putting out today.

Derek answers, looking harried. The same sort of harried that Stiles associates with an elementary school teacher after a field trip, actually. He peers around Derek, who is thankfully fully clothed this time, and sees Isaac giving Scott a noogie.

“Well,” Stiles says blandly. “At least they aren’t drawing blood.”

“What did you do?” Derek’s voice is nearly at a growl, and as Stiles squeezes by him to get inside, he sucks in a sharp breath through his nose, like an angry animal.

“Nothing!” Stiles says. “This is all just happening around me, and it’s very disconcerting. I found someone’s number in my pocket, and I didn’t even notice them putting it in there.”

Derek scowls at Stiles’ pocket, as though it might be the source of all this mayhem.

Once Stiles gets in Derek’s living area, which Stiles refuses to call a living room even though it’s more habitable than his last two hovels due to the complete lack of homey touches up to and including the lack of a television, Scott and Isaac both swivel their heads to stare at him. It’s a little eerie, like he’s being eye-stalked by two birds of prey.

“So guys,” he begins, a little nervously, despite the fact that he knows the number one rule with dealing with wild animals is to show no fear, “I’d really appreciate it if you acted normal. I mean, like usual. Just be Scott and Isaac! It totally plays to your strengths, you can do it.”

Isaac rolls his eyes, and for a glorious moment Stiles thinks the weirdness has magically gone away, but then Isaac says, “As long as you tell Scott here that I love you more.”

“No way, dude, I am the president of the Stiles fan club,” Scott protests.

“He’s right,” Stiles says. “Pretty sure he’s got a card somewhere to that effect.”

Eighth grade math class had been unbearably boring. Stiles has a card declaring him Scott’s number one buddy, too.

Isaac’s eyes flash briefly, and Stiles recants a little, not wanting an incident to occur. “But you’d make a very lovely vice president! That’s the swank job, you know. All the glory, none of the stress.”

Derek made a noise that might have been a suppressed laugh, and Stiles manages to not whirl around and stare. He didn’t want to take his eyes off Isaac. He’d always had a bit of the serial killer vibe, and Stiles had seen more than enough horror movies about where serial killer love could end up.

Stiles decides to do a little experiment. “Scott, could you call Allison to ask her to come over?”

“You can,” Scott says, instead of diving for his phone like usual.

Allison,” Stiles says again, a little more emphatically. “About ye high,” he holds a hand at approximate Allison-height,” and brunette and lethal with a number of scary weapons? Dimples? Any of this ringing a bell?”

“I know who Allison is,” Scott huffs.

“I should hope,” Derek mutters. Stiles holds in a smirk.

“Yeah, go call her,” Isaac says, taking a step forward, apparently somehow completely forgetting that he was the one currently dating Allison. Scott gives him a death stare. “I’ll keep Stiles company.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles says despairingly. He turns to Derek. “Do something.”

“Me?” Derek raises his eyebrows.

“Yes, you, Mr. Grumpy Pants,” Stiles says. “Growl them into submission. Well. Growl Isaac into submission, and maybe Scott will get defensive enough to forget his all-encompassing love for me.”

There were some sentences you just could never anticipate would come out of your mouth until they showed up, fully formed and totally disturbing.

“It doesn’t really work that way…” Derek begins, trailing off as Stiles mouths, “Pretty please?” while clasping his hands hopefully in Derek’s direction. He’s really concerned about the way Isaac and Scott are glaring at each other.

Derek follows his stare, then sighs and growls at Isaac like he’s still his beta. He seems more surprised than Stiles when it actually works, with Isaac keeping his eyes averted from Stiles for two glorious minutes.

Stiles offers his fist to bump with Derek, but he refuses it.

Stiles spends the two minutes sidling up to Scott, asking to borrow his phone, and texting Allison to come babysit Scott and Isaac. He doesn’t dare do it from his own phone; who knows how far-reaching the spell is.

Spell.

“Oh shit,” Stiles says out loud.

Three heads swivel to look at him.

“I… may be partially responsible for this whole hoopla,” Stiles admits.

“You’re responsible for my hoopla,” Scott offers with a totally subtle gesture towards his crotch.

“For everyone’s sake I hope your pick up lines are being muddled by the magic,” Stiles tells him, because, seriously.

“How?” Derek asks, succinct as ever.

“I may have tried out a little spell I found last night,” Stiles says, and when it’s out there, all verbalized and shit, it’s pretty fucking obvious that he should have put two and two together a lot more quickly.

To be fair, there were a lot of beautiful people declaring their intentions for him today. Stiles is only human.

“Dude,” Scott says, and for a second Stiles thinks that the reprimand he’s got coming is going to break through the love-haze, but Scott just looks at him adoringly and says, “You worked magic! That is so flipping cool.”

…Scott does have a point. Stiles high-fives him.

Derek huffs like the giant diva that he so clearly is and Stiles sighs. This is who he is going to have to use as his go-between between Stiles and the world. He gives Scott a plaintive look. “Why weren’t you the one immune?”

“Love you too much,” Scott shrugs, and yeah, good answer. Isaac kind of glares, and Stiles isn’t one hundred percent sure who he’s jealous of.

“What kind of spell?” Derek has the same look as right before he punches something. It’s truly a testament to how far their relationship has come that Stiles isn’t ducking right now.

“It was totally innocent! Barely a spell!” Stiles says evasively, because in hindsight, anything involving magic and affection should have had a giant flashing ‘bad idea’ alert on it. He is an idiot.

Derek growls, and Stiles sputters out, “Some sort of general affection spell, okay? That clearly went terribly, terribly wrong. I didn’t want everyone to want to jump me! I just wanted to try some magic and it was a lot nicer than all the ‘make your enemies’ guts shrivel’ spells I was finding.”

“I don’t know if you noticed,” Derek says slowly, “but magic is bad.”

“Well, yeah, the examples we’ve seen,” Stiles agrees, “but there has to be some awesome magic. Like some Harry Potter shit, you know? And I thought I found some.”

Even Scott and Isaac are giving him skeptical looks, which, what the hell. They’re supposedly in his corner, what with being magically in love with him. He sighs, but is saved from further recriminations by the door buzzer going off.

Stiles jumps; he does every time. Derek’s fucking Dr. Strangelove security system, man. Apparently it only works when it wants to.

Derek inclines his head towards the spiral staircase, and Stiles is super confused, until he realizes that he doesn’t want Allison madly in love with him, too. He hurries to the stairs, tripping over his feet a little as he takes them two at a time.

He’s out of sight by the time the door swings open. He can still hear what’s going on, sitting up at the top of the stairs, and hopefully the spell is based on sight. Love at first sight.

Ugh, he’d better figure out a way to fix this. He’s not built to be a hermit, and that’s the only viable path for him, if this never abates. Living alone in the woods. Maybe Derek will lend him the Hale house, no one in their right mind would ever go there.

“So what’s the big emergency?” Allison demands, her voice loud and strident. He realizes suddenly that Allison probably doesn’t want to be dragged over to the loft belonging to the person she considers responsible for her mother’s death to help out her ex-boyfriend, no matter how good of terms she’s on with said ex-boyfriend.

“There was an incident,” Derek begins.

“Yeah,” Isaac interrupts, “Scott thinks his love for Stiles is more pure than mine.”

“Yours is pure lust,” Scott puts in. “Mine is multifaceted.”

Stiles pulls out his phone and texts Scottie a good vocab!, since he’s not able to clap him proudly on the shoulder.

What.” Allison’s face is probably hilarious. Stiles wishes he could risk a glance, but Allison won’t be willing to keep Scott and Isaac occupied if she’s also mooning over Stiles.

“There was a spell incident,” Derek clarifies. Stiles can literally narrow down his projected eyebrow movement down to either his slightly upturned look of feigned skepticism or maybe his furrow of snark. It’s a tough call.

“Why would Stiles put a love spell on Scott and Isaac?” Allison asks. She’s lost the strident edge to her tone, but her voice still cuts more clearly through the air than anyone else’s. Leadership qualities, Stiles thinks.

“It’s more of a general anyone who sees him type of deal,” Derek says.

Allison laughs, loud and clear. “Did you try to kiss him or something?”

“Derek is immune,” Scott says.

“Immune,” Allison says flatly. “To a magic spell that’s supposed to affect everyone.”

“He’s probably too cranky for it to work properly,” Isaac adds. Stiles really has not been giving Isaac enough credit, apparently. They could probably be buddies, if Isaac would just ease off on wooing Stiles’ best friend.

Allison sighs, and Derek makes a hilariously cranky noise, proving Isaac totally right. Stiles really wishes he could see their faces.

“The point is,” Derek says after a moment, “we need to fix this.”

“How?” Scott asks.

“How long does it last?” Allison asks.

“Scott and Isaac have been smitten since this morning,” Derek says. “I thought that you could take them with you, see if you can find any information.”

“And you can keep Stiles sequestered,” Allison nods. “We don’t need a mob of love-crazed werewolves rampaging through town.”

Allison had apparently seen the same episode Stiles had.

“Wait,” he yells. “What do you mean by sequestered.”

*

“This is the worst,” Stiles complains, flopping onto Derek’s couch. Cora and Peter have been called and informed that they are banned from the loft for the day, due to it being a Stiles-quarantine zone, which means that it’s just Stiles and Derek, alone, for the whole day.

And for however long this stupid spell lasts. Stiles regrets his decision to try magic.

Like, a lot.

Derek is across the room, sitting on his bed with a book open, presumably attempting research. Stiles has a laptop and has been instructed to find the spell, which is tricky without his bookmarks, but he keeps getting distracted by the fact that Derek has his shoes on his bedspread.

Derek seems oblivious to Stiles’ horror.

“Dude,” Stiles finally says, “I know you were raised by wolves and all, but there is no excuse for that.” He gestures wildly towards Derek’s feet.

Granted, from across the room, the gesture is probably too vague to understand, but seriously. Shoes. On the bed.

Derek looks around and then finally realizes what Stiles is on about. “I have to be prepared for attack.”

“You have to…” Stiles clunks his head on the table in front of him. “Imminent danger is no excuse for shoes on the bed. I bet you leave your socks on, too.”

Derek flushes.

“Can you grow weird toe-claws like Kali?” Stiles asks. “Or would that even work with shoes?”

“No,” Derek says shortly, without clarifying which question he’s answering. Stiles sighs and scrolls through another website.

“I really need to use my own computer,” Stiles says. “I have everything saved on there.”

“We’re not taking you to your house,” Derek says.

“Why?” There’s a whine in Stiles’ voice, and it comes from being cooped up for a whole… Stiles glances at the clock on the computer. Fifty minutes. He’s only been here fifty minutes. Today is never going to end.

“Do you want to run into your father?” Derek doesn’t even look up from his book.

“Damn you,” Stiles says after a moment of pure horror and mental images he’s never going to be able to erase. “But all the information…”

“Allison already stopped by your place and gotten it all,” Derek continues. “She filled Lydia in on everything, and all four of them are working hard on undoing what you’ve done. Last update, Lydia was starting to look for the spell.”

“Lydia’s on my laptop,” Stiles says blankly, his mind having grasped onto the most horrifying part of the sentence. “No.”

Derek turns a page in his book, trying to play casual, but Stiles totally sees that he’s holding back a smile. “This isn’t funny, dude. Lydia. On my laptop. I’m going to tell them only Scott is allowed to touch it.”

“She’s not going to look for anything but the spell,” Derek says. He doesn’t sound convinced. He also sounds totally fucking amused.

Stiles clunks his head against the table again and hopes that he remembered to close out any truly embarrassing tabs, even though he knows himself well enough to know that he definitely didn’t.

“Maybe,” Stiles says after a moment, “she’s so whammied by the love spell that she will find my porn charming and adorable.”

He’s pretty sure he just made Derek Hale snort. He doesn’t look over to check, because he might spook him.

So that leaves Stiles with nothing to really do but poke around Derek’s laptop. He eyes it up. Somewhere in that hard drive, he knows, lays the key to neverending teasing, if he can just find out what Derek’s dirty secrets are. Nevermind his own abject fear at the thought of Lydia seeing his own dirty internet secrets.

He dives in with gusto, pulling up Derek’s history.

“What are you doing?” Derek asks.

Stiles glances up and reflexively pulls the laptop closer. “Nothing.”

Which is true, as so far all he’s found are a shitload of Ikea links.

“Are you…. Are you going through my computer?” The way Derek’s voice goes up at the end, like he’s a hairsbreadth away from panic, tells Stiles that there is definitely dirt on here somewhere.

“No,” Stiles lies, scrolling rapidly. How many damn bookshelves does one man need to look at, anyway?

“Don’t.”

“Did you just try to alpha-voice me?” Stiles stares at Derek. Derek is now on the edge of the bed, like he’s going to launch himself towards Stiles and snatch the computer away if Stiles doesn’t back away from the internet history.

“Stiles,” Derek replies shortly. “Weren’t you just terrified of Lydia going through your computer?”

“I’m not your Lydia,” Stiles says dismissively. “So this is just funny, not mortifying. Though dude, you have a serious Ikea problem. There are other websites, I promise.”

Derek shakes his head, though Stiles isn’t really sure why. “Leave it.”

“Ugh, fine,” Stiles says, and then his eyes fall on a link at the bottom of the list. “Oh dude, really? You’ve added facebook stalking me to your repertoire? Are you trying to get a masters in creeping or what?”

Derek goes a little pale, drops his book, and totally launches himself at Stiles he so called it. But he doesn’t have time to gloat over Derek Hale’s predictability, because suddenly Derek is there and Stiles throws himself backwards on the couch, holding the computer over his head like somehow that’s going to keep it out of Derek’s werewolfy reach.

“Give it,” Derek growls, and now he’s on top of Stiles and reaching out for the laptop. Stiles squirms a bit, feeling absurdly like he’s wrestling with Scott over the last few Doritos, and then Derek’s hands close around his.

It’s weirdly intimate, Derek pressed in close, a knee between Stiles’ legs and his face inches away from Stiles’. His eyes are focused on the laptop, not Stiles, which is the only things saving this from being truly awkward.

Stiles knows that it’s a lost fight, so he cuts his losses and lets Derek grab the laptop. But as soon as Derek takes it, he reaches down and tickles Derek’s side, just so he knows that Stiles does not approve of being tackled for a little thing like invading Derek’s internet privacy.

…Okay, not such a little thing. But it’s not like there was even anything incriminating!

Just then Derek giggles.

“Oh my god, you’re ticklish!”

“No,” Derek says, holding himself suspiciously motionless, like he’s manfully holding in his mirth. Stiles tickles him again, right on the side, fingers accidentally sliding underneath the hem of Derek’s henley to ghost over tense muscles. Derek is roughly zero percent body fat, but there’s still a little softness to his side, just enough for the flesh to give in slightly as Stiles tickles him.

Above him, Derek goes very, very still. Their bodies are close enough that Stiles can feel the muscle spasms in his stomach as he tries to hold in laughter.

Then Stiles meets Derek’s eyes.

They’re dark and looking at him with intent, like he wants to devour Stiles. Stiles’ mouth goes a little dry as he suddenly doesn’t know whether to squirm away or tilt his head expose his throat. He’s never had the urge before, but he thinks about what it might feel like, if Derek’s stubbly skin brushed against the sensitive skin there, what it would feel like if he kissed it better afterwards.

Derek makes a low sound, his body still tense, and before Stiles realizes that he’s actually tilted his head, leaving his throat bare, Derek’s nuzzling into his neck.

Stiles’ hand is still rucked under Derek’s hem, and Derek’s thigh is pressed in close to his inner thigh, close enough that Stiles wants to cant his hips and press himself against it. But all that fades away as Stiles realizes that Derek is kissing his neck, mouthing against it, hot and wet, and his stubble is rasping against Stiles’ skin in a way that’s just right.

“Oh god,” Stiles gasps.

Derek mumbles something against his neck. The words are just a deep rumble, and Stiles wonders wildly if werewolves purr. Derek lets go of the laptop and drags one hand through Stiles’ hair.

And then Stiles remembers the spell.

“Oh god,” he says again, panicked. Derek’s mouth is still hot against his neck, but now it makes Stiles feel guilty instead of giddy. Squirming away and pulling his hand out of Derek’s shirt would have seemed unthinkable just a minute before, but he manages it now with a speed that surprises him.

Derek pulls back, looking dazed for the briefest of moments before his face falls into a much more familiar expression of regret. “I’m so sorry.”

“No, dude,” Stiles says sadly, “you’ve fallen victim to my spell.”

“Your…” Derek shakes his head a little, like he’s trying to remember how to think. Stiles’ eyes dart downward before he can stop himself, and yeah, he totally turned Derek Hale on. But with magic, which means that Stiles is a creep and a terrible human being and yeah, he’s just going to go hide in a hole in the ground for the rest of his life.

This feels worse than earlier, with Scott and Lydia and everyone. Probably because they hadn’t borderline made out.

Stiles hides his head in his hands, not wanting to look at Derek.

“Let’s just forget it happened,” said Derek after a few moments.

“We need to stay apart,” Stiles says. “Maybe your immunity to the spell just doesn’t hold up to physical contact.”

“Yeah,” Derek says in a strange tone. “That’s definitely it.”

Stiles stares at his hands for a few more minutes. “I’m sorry I creeped on your computer.”

“You should be.” Which is actually a Derek-like answer, so… maybe Stiles didn’t irreparably break him. With his neck. Which is probably covered in red marks from Derek’s scruff and oh god what if he has a hickey? What if Derek Hale gave him his first hickey?

Stiles shakes his head, dropping his hands finally. There hadn’t been any actual neck sucking. Just sweet, sweet kisses and nuzzles, but no neck sucking. He probably doesn’t have a hickey.

Derek shifts his weight, and Stiles clings to the arm of the couch, scooting further away from him so as to avoid another incident. Another neck-nuzzling incident. That Stiles was super into, apparently, since he can’t think of anything else.

Stiles sighs. “Do you want to call Allison and see how they’re doing on cracking the spell?”

“Yes,” Derek says, practically scrambling off the couch in his haste to get away.

He disappears up the stairs, and Stiles is left alone.

*

He’s itching to tell Scott what happened, only he can’t because Scott will probably storm over in a jealous rage and scowl at Derek until he apologizes for being born. Scott’s scowls have really upped their game lately.

He fiddles with his phone. He knows he can’t actually call anyone, for fear that the spell will whammy them, and Stiles is acutely aware of just how sucky this spell is at the moment. In retrospect, he should have really paid closer attention to the fine print, because anything involving magic and love is a terrible idea. And there’s no one to casually text that he had some erotic neck-nuzzling time with Derek that hasn’t already fallen magically in love with him and thus does not want to hear about erotic neck-nuzzling.

So he starts to do some internet research on how to remove a love spell, and most of the results are variations of ‘you can’t,’ which is so unacceptable that Stiles decides to not even recognize it as a possible outcome.

He’s beginning to lose himself in a research-spiral (on the surface, marmosets have nothing to do with love spells, but somehow he clicked a link and here he is so there has to be some connection) when Derek comes downstairs. Well, comes halfway down the stairs, then stops and leans on the railing, looking down at Stiles, like keeping a railing, a ten foot drop, and the entire length of the loft between them is going to keep Derek safe from the love mojo Stiles is currently putting out.

“Apparently,” Derek says tightly, “Lydia keeps getting distracted by how brilliantly incohesive your research organization is.”

Stiles perks up a little. “Hey, if she’s making fun of me, then the spell’s effects must fade on their own!”

Derek shakes his head. “No, I mean, Allison says that Lydia keeps waxing poetic about it. It is, and I quote, ‘supremely creepy’.”

Stiles sighs and leans back against the couch, staring up at the ceiling in despair. Derek has actual rafters in his loft. He wonders if Derek has ever tried to swing from them like a monkey. He shakes his head at the mental image and says, “They are never going to forgive me.”

Derek sits down on the stairs, watching Stiles through the railing. “That’s not true.”

“This is a monumental fuckup,” Stiles says before remembering who he’s talking to.

Derek gives him a look. A very pointed one. “No one’s dead.”

Stiles doesn’t really feel like that’s a fair comparison. His screw-up might not be on the same level that Derek Hale works at, but it’s still major enough to angst over, if he so chooses. “So I’m guessing that no progress has been made?”

“Got it in one,” Derek says.

Stiles grabbed his phone and texted Lydia very specific instructions to find the incantation he’d tried. Probably he should have thought to do it hours ago, but he’s been a little distracted.

His hand drifts up to rub lightly against the skin of his neck, where he can still feel the ghost of Derek’s stubble rubbing against him.

When he looks back up, Derek has a white-knuckle grip on the stair railing.

“Are you okay?” Stiles asks.

“Yes.” Derek doesn’t sound okay. His voice is low and dark and it sets all of Stiles’ nerves zinging. Stiles blinks rapidly. He has clearly fallen down the rabbit hole, because he’s now in a world where everyone is super in love with him except Derek, who apparently is what Stiles is into these days.

Lydia’s relationship with Jackson suddenly makes so much sense to him.

“You don’t look it,” Stiles says, even though Derek clearly is not interested in having feelings time.

“Stiles.” Derek loosens his grip on the railing. “Drop it.”

Now there’s officially something to drop, so of course Stiles can’t. “Is this about the whole nuzzling thing?”

Derek looks like he’s in actual physical pain. No, wait, Stiles has personally seen him in great physical pain and he’d looked happier than this. “No.”

It so, so was. “It’s okay, dude, a little bit of sensual nuzzling can happen to anyone. Or so I’ve heard.”

Derek actually facepalms. He literally puts his face into his palms. Stiles has officially broken him. He wonders if he should write an apology letter to Cora. Sorry I broke your only remaining non-psychotic family member.

“Can we never talk about that again?” Derek says through his fingers. Stiles tries really hard to not be offended.

“Yeah, okay,” he says instead, lightly as he can.

*

The hell of it is, it’s barely lunchtime. Stiles hasn’t even been under this spell half a day yet. He stares at the walls, then paces around for a bit, then flops on Derek’s bed and stares up at the ceiling for a while.

He is so bored that he’s pretty sure that leaving the loft and risking creating Stilesmania is totally worth it.

“What are you doing?”

Stiles continues to stare at the ceiling, hands tucked up under his head. Derek’s bed is a surprisingly comfortable place to mope, which makes a depressing amount of sense. “Dying of boredom.”

“Why are you dying of boredom there?”

Stiles actually looks over at Derek. He has this odd expression on his face, one that Stiles can’t place. “Because I’m sick of the couch, and there is a limited amount of seating in this place?” He wiggles his toes. “I took my shoes off, see? I’m not a heathen.”

Derek’s gaze drifts slowly down to Stiles’ feet. Stiles suddenly becomes hyper-aware of the fact that his shirt is rucked up a bit when Derek pauses on his torso. His stomach swoops, and he aggressively tries to ignore it by talking loudly. “I mean I appreciate that you’ve upgraded from your previous abodes, and the fact that you have a bed at all is really a step in the right direction, but you have to admit that the seating around here is very scarce. I’m not saying you did that on purpose to herd people to your bed, but…”

And Stiles stutters to a stop, because what the hell, mouth, that was the opposite of helpful.

Derek’s weird expression has intensified, and Stiles doesn’t know whether he wants to demand Stiles leave his loft forever or give him a knuckle sandwich or maybe just roll his eyes so hard that they fall out of his head. Derek just stands there a moment, then says in a slightly strangled voice, “Lydia needs to know where you performed the spell.”

“…okay,” Stiles says dumbly, and sits up, tugging his shirt down with forced casualness. He texts Lydia the pertinent information, along with a demand that she fix things as quickly as possible.

Her reply is… Well. Stiles actually deletes it, because once the spell is broken, he’s pretty sure Lydia will be less than pleased that she sent him something that was for all intents and purposes a sext.

When he glances back at Derek, his face is its usual level of stony. It’s only the return to the default that lets Stiles realize just how open and exposed he’d been moments before.

And lets him finally realize that he’d seen that look before, right before Derek had nuzzled him.

Stiles almost trips over his feet, hastily suggesting that they eat lunch. He was afraid if he sat there a second longer, he’d say something really unfortunate that he couldn’t take back.

*

“So,” Stiles says after lunch, “I’m thinking that maybe you aren’t as immune to the spell as you thought?”

“It’s fine,” Derek says. He’s back to reading his book, doing his best to ignore Stiles, apparently unconcerned with the fact that he’s currently in love with him. Stiles feels slightly insulted, really.

“But in case you feel overwhelmed with passion for me,” Stiles says, “do we need some sort of safe word? Like, you use it, and I’ll leave the room and let you come to terms with the fact that you suddenly think I’m hotsy totsy?”

“I can control myself,” Derek says, not looking up. He deliberately turns a page. Stiles resists the urge to approach him and poke him or something, to test this supposed control.

“So you admit that you are in love with me,” Stiles says, because, what the hell. He’s pretty sure Derek will never speak to him after this, and he’s increasingly aware of exactly how much that is going to suck, so. Might as well get while the getting is good.

“Stiles,” Derek sighs, “drop it.”

That was totally a yes.

*

Stiles’ phone rings that afternoon, and when he sees his dad’s name, he hastily throws the phone at Derek. “Explain it to him!”

Derek looks panicked for a moment, staring at the phone like it was a live grenade. “No!”

“He knows I skipped school! And that I’m not home, probably! You have to let him know I’m not dead in a ditch somewhere.” Stiles wonders briefly if there’s some sort of sexy, pouty look he could give Derek to make him do what he wants, but immediately recognizes that as the panicked terrible idea that it is.

Derek, to his credit, sighs and answers the phone. “Sheriff.”

Stiles gestures for Derek to put the phone on speaker, but Derek shakes his head. “Derek Hale. Yes, the werewolf.” Derek glares at him.

Stiles shrugs. He’s glad his dad finally knows everything, and frankly finds his habit of naming everything out loud charming. Stilinskis like to face things head-on. Well, when they aren’t actively avoiding it like the plague.

“Stiles is fine. Really. No, he’s not in danger. He’s just a moron.” Derek actually cracks a smile at whatever Stiles’ dad says in reply to that. Stiles wishes for super-hearing. He totally should have found a spell that granted superpowers, not the mess that he stepped into. Hindsight really is 20/20. “He cast a spell that makes everyone fall in love with him, and in order to avoid a lot of awkwardness, he doesn’t want to talk to you.”

There is a long pause. Stiles tries to guess what his father is saying, based solely on Derek’s reaction face, and he has no clue. Derek ‘s fighting to hold in a grin. Then: “I agree that it was a good call. So we’ll let you know when it’s safe to be around him again…”

Derek’s expression goes still. “I’m… not unaffected.”

It’s adorable that Derek thinks he can be vague at the town sheriff. Stiles learned his mastery of vague non-confessions from the expert, after all, and Derek is in the beginners class.

His dad is clearly on the same page, as Derek immediately makes a truly hilarious expression of horror. “No, I’m definitely not a danger to your son’s virtue.”

Stiles’ shoulders shake in silent laughter. He points to the faint stubble burn on his neck and mouths, “Yeah, right,” at Derek.

Derek hangs up so hastily that the Sheriff probably thinks that he immediately went to ravish Stiles. Which, okay, not a terrible mental image, insofar as those things go.

There’s a long moment of silence, followed by Derek apologizing.

Stiles stares. Derek Hale is not really known for off the cuff apologies. Derek has always struck Stiles as the type to hoard apologies and only to offer them in times of extreme need.

“Why are you apologizing?” Stiles asks, because Derek looks faintly miserable.

“For…” Derek gestures vaguely towards Stiles’ head region.

“For… wait, you aren’t allowed to apologize for that,” Stiles says. “First off, we agreed to not mention it, which, I broke that deal, sorry. But secondly, I’m the one who cast the stupid spell! If I’d known your immunity wouldn’t hold up to close proximity…”

“That’s just it,” Derek says miserably. “I wasn’t immune.”

Stiles blinks again. “Yes, you were.”

Derek shakes his head. “I just… was used to it, already.”

Then he gets up and leaves, shutting the loft door behind him with a soft click. Stiles’s stomach drops like he’s on a rollercoaster. For a moment it’s like the air has been drawn out of the room with the revelation that Derek had just dropped, and Stiles tries to make his brain accept what he just heard.

Derek was already used to feeling things about Stiles. Love-shaped things.

There was no universe in which that made sense.

“What the everloving fuck,” Stiles tells the empty loft.

*

Stiles tries to keep his revelation to himself and go about life like everything’s normal. It lasts about five minutes before he picks up his phone and calls Scott.

“Light of my life!” Scott exclaims on the other end.

“My moon and stars!” Stiles replies automatically. He chews the inside of his cheek. “Please tell me that you all have figured out a quick fix-it.”

“Well,” Scott says cheerfully, “it looks like since you cast the spell under the waning moon, it has to be broken under the waxing moon.”

Stiles shakes his head rapidly a few times. “No. Dude, that’s not gonna fly. I have to have this spell broken pronto.”

“It’ll be okay,” Scott says.

“It most definitely will not,” Stiles says. He lets his desperation in his voice, hoping to goad Scott on. “Just… for me, buddy. Figure something out.”

He’s the worst person.

“Sure thing,” Scott says immediately, sounding like he was about to launch out and figure out a new solution. “Anything else?”

There was so much else that Stiles wasn’t sure where to begin. So he goes with the biggest one.

“Why do you think Derek was immune?” Stiles asks, even though he doesn’t actually want to hear the answer.

There’s a long pause, and Stiles wonders if the spell is working on Scott, making him reluctant to talk about anyone else in regards to Stiles’ affections. Or maybe Scott has no opinions on Derek’s feelings about Stiles.

Derek’s feelings about Stiles.

“Well,” Scott says, “I mean. The only new thing I’m feeling is thirst for your hot bod.” Stiles, to his credit, doesn’t actually make a choking noise out loud, so Scott’s feelings are safe. “I already loved you! So. Maybe, you know.”

Scott is as reluctant to say it out loud as Stiles is to think it.

“Ugh,” Stiles says, and hangs up.

He paces around a little bit, and then finally flops in a heap of teen angst on Derek’s bed. He’s got to think this through. The things he knows are: Derek has been acting shady as hell, and there was strong implication that Derek’s so-called immunity was just the fact that he was already in love with Stiles and thus was used to suppressing his… urges.

Stiles is pretty sure that there is no universe in which the second thing is true, except that, well. He can’t actually think of any other explanation, rational or otherwise.

Because the thing is, if it’s true? Then Stiles is so very fucked, emotionally speaking, though the more literal version is… Okay, it’s something he’s thought about long and hard and at length and a bunch of other ways that are extremely dirty, though he always pushed it down in his most secret spank bank.

Stiles shakes his head, staring up at Derek’s ceiling. This is probably where Derek mines his spank bank. Stiles wonders if any of that material is Stiles-related. The thought is like one of those brain puzzles: he can’t quite wrap his head around what he’s picturing, but he can’t actually unsee it either. Derek, hips arched up off the bed that Stiles is currently laying on, hand wrapped tightly around his dick, maybe even biting his lip to keep himself quiet, to keep himself from saying Stiles’ name…

“I’m trying to have an emotional breakthrough here,” he tells his dick firmly. “You are seriously not helping.”

Though, really, his interest level is pretty well established now. So there’s that.

One thing he’s pretty sure of, though, is that he probably shouldn’t be hanging around Derek’s loft in Derek’s bed. It’s kind of super mean, since Stiles is all magically irresistible right now, and apparently Derek is too stone-faced to admit that he’s having trouble resisting.

All this does is remind Stiles that he might have to wait a month to break the spell. He can’t do a month! First of all, he would flunk the hell out of high school, since there’s no way he could attend with the spell in place.

And then there’s the fact that he’s essentially magically manipulated all his friends, and yeah, he’s going to buy everyone apology cupcakes when this is done. Magic is the actual worst.

He sighs. Clearly the number one priority is to get out of Derek’s bed. It might be comfy as hell, but it was also apparently a vortex of depressing thoughts.

He sighs and reluctantly rolls off the bed, looking around for his shoes. He doesn’t want to face the outside world, but he wants to face Derek right now even less. Their next conversation can’t happen while the spell is in effect.

*

One awesome side effect of the spell is that it apparently eradicates asshole drivers. Stiles briefly considers forgetting about removing it after a drive across town that involves never getting cut off and getting waved through stop signs before his turn is even up.

Probably it’s not worth never having a real interaction with another person ever again, though.

He ends up at the Argent’s, since that’s where the research party was going down. Stiles wishes that they had chosen a location with a few less automatic weapons on the premises. He takes a deep breath, silently hopes that Allison will forgive him for showing up before the spell is broken, and heads inside.

Despite the fact that he had had a lengthy text conversation with Scott establishing both where everyone was and the fact that Stiles was coming by to join the research party, it had apparently slipped their minds to have someone already smitten answer the door.

Chris Argent opens the door, takes one look at Stiles, and then leans against the doorframe, one hand loosely resting against it over his head. His expression immediately goes from slightly annoyed to smolder, and the overall affect is like that of a live action Bruce Springsteen album cover.

“Before you say anything potentially psychologically scarring,” Stiles says quickly, “just know that any strange feelings you’re having right now are the result of a spell that is going to be broken very, very shortly.”

Stiles hopes, anyway. No way is he living like this for weeks.

Chris shakes his head a bit, like he’s trying to throw off the spell’s haze, and then he says, “Well, just let me know if you need me for anything.”

The words are innocuous, but his tone is anything but.

Stiles slides past him into the apartment and walks quickly to Allison’s room. Chris starts to follow, but Stiles shoves the door shut behind him.

Everyone stares at him. There are papers spread about, and his laptop is glowing on Allison’s bed, but no one is attempting to solve the problem at hand. Apparently Stiles is more interesting.

“We really need to break this spell,” Stiles says. “Immediately.”

“That is what we’re working on,” Lydia says. “Though I could use some motivation…” She raises her eyebrows suggestively.

Stiles glares at Scott. “Didn’t you warn them I was coming?”

“I didn’t want to ruin the surprise,” Scott shrugs. “I thought it was going to be a Scott-and-Stiles moment.”

Isaac looks like he swallowed a lemon, glaring between Scott and Stiles. Stiles feels a little bad for the guy. It’s not like things weren’t awkward enough for him, given Scott and Allison’s hot-and-cold relationship, with Isaac tangled up somewhere in the middle. A Stiles-shaped magical wrench in the proceedings has to be the final nail in the ‘it’s complicated’ coffin.

Allison beams at him like he’s made out of sunshine and puppydogs.

“I can’t wait a whole month for this to end,” Stiles says, waving his arms around to illustrate this frustration. Most likely, he’s just reinforcing the idea that he’s lost his mind, but he’s working with the tools at hand.

Lydia blinks at him a few times. “Why would you?”

There is no trace of affection in her voice, just one hundred percent Lydia-annoyed-with-ignorance.

Stiles wonders if maybe he could repulse everyone out of being in love with him. He could pick his nose and do math poorly, that would totally make at the very least Lydia fall out of love with him. “Because it depends on the moon?”

Lydia blinks at him several times, and yeah, Lydia’s disdain for ignorance overwhelms even mystical love. “Your best friend is a werewolf and you still don’t understand moon cycles?”

Stiles would take offense, but judging by her face, he apparently has made a colossal miscalculation. “I thought I did?”

Scott shrugs at him. Apparently there’s more to it than keeping up with the full moon.

“You cast the spell under the waning crescent moon,” Lydia says slowly, like she’s trying to teach a pre-schooler. “Ergo, after the new moon, it will be a waxing crescent moon. Waxing and waning aren’t once a month situations. One or the other is almost always happening. If you waited a month, it would just be a waning crescent again.”

Stiles deserved every bit of Lydia’s derision. He is a dingdong. “So we can reverse the spell…”

Lydia types something in her phone. “The new moon is on Sunday, so we can reverse this in four days.”

Four days! Still a while to stay away from humanity as a whole, but Stiles is pretty sure he can manage it. And he can totally avoid Derek for four days. More than four days, even. He’s gone whole weeks without interacting with Derek Hale before. Surely another few days will be a piece of cake.

He does a fistpump.

Isaac rolls his eyes. Stiles wonders if that means the spell is becoming less effective. First Lydia questioning his intelligence and now Isaac lightly mocking him.

It’s food for thought, anyway.

Allison finally speaks up. “So, um. Stiles?”

“Allison,” Stiles replies, since she didn’t give him much of a question to answer.

“You didn’t happen to run into my dad on the way in, did you?” She’s staring at him with an expression halfway between jealousy and horror.

“Yeah, dude, has your dad ever been a supermodel? Because he has posing down.” Stiles shakes his head, because it’s going to be hard to meld the vision of Chris Argent: Werewolf Hunter with the version he just saw.

Then he realizes that everyone in the room is focused on him. Well, not him. His neck area.

Shit.

“Erm,” he says.

“Did you make out with my dad?” Allison asks, horrified.

Isaac raises an eyebrow, looking less horrified, more intrigued by the answer. Scott says, “No way! I totally offered first, dude.”

Lydia looks like she’s a second away from asking to be the filling in that sandwich.

Stiles’ friends all have terrible opinions of his decision making process, apparently. “No! I did not make out with your dad! I didn’t make out with anyone!” Technically.

“You most definitely did,” Lydia says confidently. “That is totally stubble burn.”

Stiles clamps his hand over his neck and wonders why he didn’t stop and buy a turtleneck on the way over. Or a hipster scarf. He could totally have been a hipster, no one would have questioned that at all.

“No?” he says weakly.

Unfortunately, his friends also know exactly whose loft they left him at this morning.

“Dude,” Isaac says. “Derek?”

“You made out with Derek?” Scott’s voice goes a little squeaky. “Stiles!”

“No! I didn’t make out with him!” Stiles tries to defend himself. “I mean. Not really? I wouldn’t call it making out.”

“And what would you call it?” Lydia asks.

“…an incident I’m never speaking of again?” Stiles tries. He doesn’t think they’ll actually drop it, but a guy’s gotta try.

“Do I need to all Alpha on Derek’s ass?” Scott raises an eyebrow. “Because I will.”

“No, there’s no need to go anything on anyone’s ass,” Stiles says.

“I disagree,” Isaac says saucily.

Stiles raises a finger. “This is not the time, Isaac, I’m trying to convince everyone to pretend the last five minutes never happened.”

“Derek, though!” Scott says. He’s looking at Stiles the same way he did after Stiles taught him how to make slug-labyrinths out of salt. “You shouldn’t be smooching him!”

“There was no smooching!” Stiles protests. “There was just some accidental nuzzling. It’s fine.”

Stiles really wishes that he had actually made out with Derek. At least he’d have gotten to make out with someone before having to defend his choices to everyone he’s ever met. He’s pretty sure that getting to at the very least grab a handful of Derek’s ass would have made this whole conversation worthwhile.

“But we’re way better choices,” Allison argues, gesturing around the room. “For make outs, that is.”

“You are all fantastic at making out, I’m positive,” Stiles says. “But I’m not making out with anyone, remember?”

“Except for Derek,” Scott grumbles.

“Come on, at least give the rest of us a peck and see what you’re missing,” Lydia suggests. She smiles at him and yeah, his knees go a little wobbly.

But he shakes his head. “So you’ve figured out what spell I have to do on Monday?”

He can tell, from the glances they keep casting towards his neck, that the whole topic of Derek Hale has not been forgotten, but once Lydia launches into a speech about Latin conjugates and forcing Stiles to tell her how he pronounced the spell to make sure he hadn’t accidentally altered things irreparably, it gets mercifully dropped.

*

He’s still avoiding his dad (for obvious reasons) so he spends the night with Scott. Melissa is working a late shift so Stiles is tucked away in Scott’s room before she gets home, and with luck he’ll be able to slip out in the morning without having anyone else’s parent fall in love with him. Chris Argent had said some extremely disturbing things to Stiles when he’d left the Argent’s. He’s pretty sure that Argent’s offer to teach him ‘the ropes’ had been hinting pretty heavily at things Stiles didn’t really want to associate with Allison’s dad.

He makes Scott pinky-swear that he won’t try to hump him during the night, then they snuggle into bed. Stiles has stayed over enough times that they go to their respective favorite sides without discussion.

Scott clicks off the light and hops into bed, jostling Stiles around a bit, before curling up, facing him like they did when they were younger. “Hey, Stiles?”

“Yeah?” Stiles is exhausted after a long day of emotional realizations and hiding from love-mobs.

“You like Derek, don’t you?” Scott sounds a little sad, and Stiles isn’t entirely sure that it’s spell-induced jealousy.

“It’s really fucking complicated,” Stiles says after a moment. “I mean, I didn’t really think it would ever be an option, you know?”

“Not really,” Scott says. “You’re awesome and everyone knows it.”

“Everyone is magically inclined to think it, you mean,” Stiles says. “You know my romantic history, dude. It’s about three sentences long.”

And mostly ended in death, now that he thought about it. That was something he could talk about with Derek. Hey, the girls we wanted to lose our virginity to died in terrible ways involving the nemeton! Look at how much we have in common. Though at least from there Stiles’ romantic trajectory diverged. At least, he hoped that there weren’t any Kates or Jennifers in his future.

Just Dereks, really, if he thought about it. But that was alarming and overwhelming in a different, strange way that left him with a pit in his stomach that was at least part excitement, and part terror.

“No, but…” Scott trails off, like he’s collecting his thoughts. “Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a catch, and if Derek thinks he deserves you, he’s going to have to go through the Scott McCall ‘So You Think You’re Worthy of My Best Friend’ lecture series.”

Stiles laughs. “I really don’t think you have to start writing speeches yet.”

“I started on them over the summer,” Scott says. “I used my SAT words and everything.”

“I didn’t even say if I thought he was dreamy or whatever!” Stiles protests, pushing Scott’s shoulder lightly.

He can see Scott’s wide grin even in the darkness. “I’m your best bro, dude. You don’t have to say. You’ve been giving him freaking Bambi eyes. It’s kind of gross.”

Stiles is horrified. “Oh god. I have not.”

Scott’s shoulders start shaking.

*

When Stiles wakes up, Scott is drooling on his shoulder, somehow draped completely over Stiles’ left side like a giant puppy. Stiles starts to untangle himself to head to the bathroom when he realizes that Isaac is there, too, squished down at the foot of the bed, somehow fitting all his gangly limbs on the mattress.

Scott makes a soft protesting sound when Stiles slips out from under him, and when Stiles makes it back from the bathroom, Isaac has moved up and has his cheek pressed against Scott’s back.

It’s kind of annoyingly adorable. Stiles is going to have to give Isaac his own version of the ‘So You Think You’re Worthy of My Best Friend’ lecture, just as soon as the spell is all cleared up.

*

Melissa is still in bed when Stiles slips out of the house after Scott and Isaac head off to school.

Stiles couldn’t help but notice that they seemed far more normal around him today. Granted, Isaac invited him to shower with him, and Scott leans in and sniffs him in a really awkward way right before he leaves, but overall, there aren’t any noogies given over Stiles’ affections. It’s progress.

He slowly cruises up to his house, double-checking that his dad’s car is gone before pulling in the driveway and going inside. He has time to kill, and his own home is the safest location.

He reads over the notes that Lydia made the day before on a new printout of the spell he’d tried, and spends a few moments basking in awe that Lydia is his friend, because she is ridiculously smart. The translation of the spell makes him look like a bigger moron than before. The first few lines are about increasing affection in a pretty neutral way, yeah, but then it quickly escalates into romantic love and how it’s supposed to reveal….

Stiles squints at the translation again.

The spell is made to alter the behavior in those who don’t already love you, and according to the footnote it was used mostly to reveal, through the lack of response, who should be trusted with your heart.

Stiles spends a few minutes with his head thunked against his desk. He accidentally cast the world’s most unfortunate love detection spell.

He reread it again, paying even closer attention to the exact implication, and was somewhat relieved to realize it didn’t mean that Derek was already in love with him.

What it meant was that Derek had the capacity and inclination to be in love with him. He turned the page over and Lydia had scrawled a note -- Spells can’t change something as fundamental about someone as who they love. This one just amplifies behaviors and temporarily tricks the brain into thinking there’s lust and affection where there wasn’t previously. Immune doesn’t mean in love with either – magic can only detect intent and purity of feeling, not something as intangible as true love.

Intent and purity are pretty big words, though. Especially when they’re referring to Derek Hale’s Stiles-shaped feelings.

Stiles takes a deep breath. He’s not going to talk to Derek about this until the spell is broken, but that doesn’t mean Derek has to be in the dark. He snaps a picture of the annotated spell and Lydia’s note, and sends them to Derek.

Then he hides his phone under his pillow where he hopefully won’t hear it buzz in response, and settles in front of his tv with a giant bowl of cereal and Netflix.

*

He checks his phone roughly seven times a minute. He’s weak, okay? Weak.

Derek doesn’t respond.

*

After further reflection, Stiles shouldn’t have sent those pictures to Derek. He glares at his phone, wishing for a way to un-send things.

What if Derek thought he was accusing him of something? Stiles really wasn’t on close enough terms with him to be theorizing about the purity of his heart or whatever. In a moment of weakness, he grabs his phone and texts Lydia, telling her what he’d done.

Several minutes later, his phone rings. He answers quickly.

“Stiles,” Lydia sounds exasperated. “What the hell are you freaking out about?”

“What if Derek thinks I was trying to see if… I don’t know, he thought I was his one true love?” Stiles rakes a hand through his hair. “I’m not that close to him, Lydia! We are not on the level of acquaintance where declaring true love is acceptable!”

Lydia is silent for a moment, and he can practically envision her rolling her eyes at him. He can hear the bustle and noise of the corridor between classes behind her. “You mean the fact that you actually shared information with him instead of letting him sit around thinking… god knows what, knowing Derek.”

Stiles hadn’t thought of it like that. “Wait. Are you saying I didn’t fuck up?”

“Not on this particular topic, but I’m sure if you keep talking I could find a few ways you have.” Lydia used her teasing tone that she only busted out for friends, and Stiles feels warm and content inside.

Then he figures he might as well ask, since she’s already joking about him fucking up. “So, I can’t help but notice that you seem a little less in love with me today?”

“Because I’m not offering myself to you? Take me, Stiles,” Lydia says, making her voice breathy.

“I’m just saying that you totally did yesterday,” Stiles says, “and today you’re just making fun of me.”

A short pause. “That’s an interesting observation. I didn’t actually notice anything was different.”

“But you’re less in love with me,” Stiles says happily.

“I think so,” Lydia says carefully. “Though it’s difficult to quantify levels of love.” He hears her locker door slam, and she says, “Relax, okay? It’ll work out, one way or another.”

She hangs up with that. Stiles doesn’t think that her advice is as reassuring as she thinks it is.

*

The next few days, Stiles keeps skipping between his own house and Scott’s, avoiding parentals whenever possible and waking up snuggled with Scott and Isaac, which is a lot cozier and less awkward than Stiles would have anticipated.

Derek never responds, and when he oh-so casually asks Scott if he’s heard from Derek, Scott says a hasty, “No!” that Stiles takes to mean, “Yes but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.”

Scott doesn’t give any indication that Stiles’ life is about to come to a screeching, terrible stop, though, so Stiles doesn’t press it further.

“The thing is,” Stiles tells Scott on Sunday night, “I didn’t think we even liked each other. Like… Normal like, not like-like.”

Scott throws a shell at Stiles on the screen, letting out a whoop as he overtakes him on the Rainbow Road. “I want to pretend like I didn’t understand you just to see if you can get all those ‘likes’ straight again.”

“Ha ha,” Stiles deadpans. Isaac is downstairs watching a movie with Melissa, so they have at least another hour of uninterrupted bro-time, and Stiles is determined to crack the Scott and Derek secret agenda.

Scott scratches the back of his head and then says, “You had a moment with him, right?”

“I wouldn’t call it a moment,” Stiles says obstinately, despite the fact that they absolutely had a moment.

“And all I’m saying is that your spell has had less and less of a hold on us ever since,” Scott continues.

“You noticed that too, huh?” Stiles slides down to the floor so he can rest his back against the bed, sprawling his feet out in front of him.

“So I was thinking that maybe intent on the part of the supposedly immune person isn’t the only thing the spell takes into account,” Scott finishes, punctuating it by winning the race.

“Are you saying that you’re not in love with me now because I want into Derek’s stupidly tight pants?” Stiles asks glumly.

“Don’t even pretend like you’ve never cared about him,” Scott says. “You’ve saved the dude’s life more than once.”

Scott has a valid point. Stiles just… doesn’t want to admit it right now. There’s a lot he doesn’t want to admit. So he steers his cart with stony silence, attention focused on the screen.

Scott clears his throat, like he’s giving himself time to gather his words carefully. “And he’s done a lot for you, too.”

Stiles turns his steering wheel a little too aggressively, sending his kart careening off the track. “I know that you didn’t have a heart-to-heart with him, Scott. Derek doesn’t do emotions.”

Scott pins him with a sharp look. “Whereas you’re so open and sharing about yours? Derek doesn’t talk about things that matter and you talk about anything but what matters. Probably you’re a match made in stiff-upper-lip heaven.”

Stiles blinks a few times. “Did… did you just go all Alpha on my ass?”

Scott looks vaguely embarrassed, but nods.

“I’m pretty attracted to you right now. If that spell’s still working, here’s your chance,” Stiles says. He knows Scott well enough to know that if he came to that conclusion and actually shared it, then… Derek was probably asking about Stiles. Stiles’s emotional responses.

And that means there’s an overwhelming mountain of evidence supporting the fact that Derek and Stiles are into each other, and fuck, that means that once the spell is gone… They’re going to have to address it. Everyone knows, it’s not like they can just sweep it under the rug.

Stiles feels a strangely giddy feeling inside, like things are about to change drastically, and for once, it might not be for the worse.

He tackles Scott, pressing a smacking kiss onto his cheek as they tumble into the pillows. Scott retaliates by blowing a raspberry against Stiles’ stomach, and of course that’s when Isaac walks in, face going alarmingly red when he sees Scott’s mouth pressed up against Stiles’ bare skin.

It makes Stiles feel a little better, knowing that he’s not the only one with a weird unrequited thing going on.

*

Monday afternoon, while everyone else is at school, Stiles gets fed up with staying hidden away from society and goes out to grab some fast food.

He ends up sprinting out of the restaurant, fending off some serious cheek-pinchage of the southern variety from a bevy of geriatrics. But on the other hand, his food was free.

*

Lydia comes alone to help him with the spell. They meet in his backyard, and trek to the spot where he performed the spell in the first place.

Okay, it’s like twenty yards, hardly a trek.

Lydia gives him one last lecture on the Latin – remember the diphthongs; don’t screw up the S’s – and sends him forward with a final – actual, physical – shove as soon as the sliver of the moon shines overhead.

He hesitates briefly over the second line, but other than that, he sees Lydia’s nods of approval as he makes his way through the spell.

When he’s done, he feels exactly the same. There’s still no fireworks or magical sparkles as the reversal supposedly takes place, but then…

Lydia looks at him. Then she blinks, slowly, and when she looks at him again… It’s Lydia, it’s the Lydia he’s always known, and there’s such relief in her eyes that he wants to hug her, but he holds back.

“It’s gone,” she breathes out.

“Back to normal?”

“I thought it was gone, earlier, but it was just muted,” she confesses. “Now I’m thinking clearly again.”

“I’m so, so sorry,” Stiles says again, because he still can’t believe he mind-whammied everyone he knows.

Lydia smiles at him. “You’re a moron, but you didn’t take advantage of the situation. So I forgive you.”

Stiles hopes everyone else is as understanding.

*

He goes to bed, afterwards, weirdly drained.

He sends out a mass message to the pack that he thinks the spell reversal went well, and then hesitates as his finger lingers over Derek’s name. He finally sends him a private message, asking to talk.

Twenty minutes later, just when he thinks Derek isn’t going to reply, his phone buzzes. One word shows up: tomorrow.

Stiles stares up at the ceiling, suddenly unable to sleep, despite the exhaustion that’s weighing down his bones.

*

The next morning he gets up and goes to school, because while his dad wrote a note excusing him for the past few days he missed, he really can’t miss anymore. Especially not because he’s nervous over someone liking him romantically. Stiles Stilinski is not the kind of guy to do that.

…Nevermind that’s exactly why he missed the past few days. At least that was a matter of quantity and really, Stiles staying home had been a public service.

At least he has a note from his dad, scrawled on police department letterhead, explaining he’d been sick, to sheepishly give the office when he goes in. He sees a few of the people who unabashedly had given him numbers and come-ons last time he’d been here, and they gave him a second glance, slightly confused like they had no idea what that had been about, before going on their merry way.

When he sees Scott, Scott drops to his knee and says, “Stiles, you are my sunshine. Marry me?”

Stiles rolls his eyes fondly and says, “Pretty sure Allison and Isaac would both have something to say about that.”

Scott stands up and leans against the locker. “Wait, so that’s not just me? They’re both…?”

Stiles stares. “Dude. You do realize that Isaac thinks the moon shines out your ass, right? And Allison’s right there with him.”

Scott looks vaguely gobsmacked.

“I thought you knew,” Stiles says. “I mean. Remember week before last, when they went on a date to the vet’s office to watch you play with puppies?”

Scott says, “I think… I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Go get ‘em, tiger,” Stiles says as he watches Scott walk quickly towards the corridor Allison’s locker is in.

The school day is perfectly average. And if Stiles keeps peeking around corners and out windows, expecting to see Derek lurking about waiting to have their conversation – which was written in giant block letters in his mind, ominous and glorious all at once – well. There was precedence.

Lunch was a bit strange, since Scott and Isaac were suspiciously absent. Allison appeared for long enough to give Stiles a hug, whisper, “Thanks!” and then dart off to… Well, Stiles isn’t thinking too hard about what she was darting off to do.

That left him sitting at a table with Danny and Lydia, and… yeah, this is Stiles’ life now. Lydia and Danny want to have lunch with him. Well, admittedly, more Lydia than Danny, who keeps giving Stiles really odd looks, like he’s never actually seen him before.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Stiles finally says through a mouthful of broccoli.

“Did I just get transported back to fourth grade?” Danny replies, raising an eyebrow sassily, but looking slightly more at ease, like he’s been convinced that Stiles isn’t a pod person after all.

“Stiles never left,” Lydia offers. She fiddles with her water bottle lid. “But Danny, in case you were wondering about your sanity… it happens to the best of us.”

Danny shakes his head. “No offense, it’s just… I had some weird ass thoughts about you, dude.”

Stiles shouldn’t say it. He really, really shouldn’t. It’s low-hanging fruit. The words burst forth anyway. “So it is possible that I’m attractive?”

Danny throws a broccoli floret at Stiles, who beams back at him.

Lydia rolls her eyes. “I hear you’re going to find out the answer to that from a very specific person tonight, Stilinski.”

Stiles scowls at her. “Why would you bring that up, Martin? I’m trying to bask here.”

“Wait, Stiles has a date?” Danny sounds shocked, and Stiles scowls some more. The usual order of the universe has been restored and while he appreciates it, that doesn’t mean he needs his nose rubbed in it.

Though having a feelings-date with Derek Hale isn’t really the usual order of the universe. Unless it goes well, in which case… it will become the norm for Stiles and dear god, that thought was more terrifying than anything he’d stayed up half the night thinking.

Stiles. In an actual relationship. With Derek. And it would just become part of his life and every day he would wake up and the possibility of touching and kissing and maybe even sleeping with Derek would exist and there would be dates and…

Just the thought sent his stomach into enough twists and turns that it could probably win X-Games gold.

“Oh god, you broke him,” Lydia says, fascinated.

“I’m having a moment,” Stiles manages, waving his hand.

Danny looks fascinated. “Is it anyone I know?”

That snaps Stiles back to the present. He tries to think of explaining to Danny who he’s got a maybe-date with and all that comes out is a strangled, “No.”

*

The rest of the day crawls by, and Stiles makes the executive decision to skip cross country that afternoon. He waves his note in the direction of Coach, saying as quickly as possible that he’s been sick and is avoiding practice so that he doesn’t upchuck on the course, and Coach waves him on with a “God, please stay away until you’re certain the contents of your stomach are going to stay there.”

He goes home, dumping his bag by the door and going straight into his room. He swings open the door and freezes.

Derek is standing guiltily in the center of his room, moving his arms awkwardly from his sides to crossed then back to his sides, like he suddenly forgot how to have arms.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Derek says after a second.

Stiles’ jaw drops. “Me? It’s my bedroom. It’s literally the one place on earth I can be at any moment and it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

“Yet,” Derek explains. “You’re not supposed to be here yet.”

They both pause to contemplate the stupidity of that statement.

“Do you often…” Stiles gestures wildly around the room. “Lurk?”

Derek shakes his head. “I…” He takes a deep breath, like he’s bracing himself, then says, “I wanted to make sure.”

“Make sure of what, exactly?” Stiles asks. The shock of the sudden appearance of Derek is fading and it’s being slowly replaced by the need to know exactly where they stand, but Derek looks skittish enough that even Stiles knows better than to push it.

Derek seems to make a decision, and says, simply, “You.”

Stiles takes a hesitant step forward, remembering how their last conversation went. “And are you sure?”

“There’s no magic between us now,” Derek says. He shuffles his feet slightly, and Stiles thinks he probably didn’t even notice that he did it. It’s oddly endearing, that Derek would forget to keep up his big bad wolf act around him. “And I came here to make sure…”

Stiles blinks at him. “Oh my god, Derek, were you jealous?”

Derek’s stony silence was answer enough.

“Okay, look,” Stiles says, “I’m going to make this very clear. I’m untouched. Woefully so.” He gestures to his body grandly. “But it’s yours for the taking.”

Derek makes a noise deep in his throat, like Stiles just blew his mind or something, but still doesn’t take another step forward. “About before…”

Stiles waits for it.

“I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you,” Derek says. “Or made you feel like you were taking advantage of me, like the spell was to blame because I couldn’t resist.”

“Derek,” Stiles says, with a lot more patience than he’s feeling, “please stop apologizing for the single hottest moment thus far in my sad, sexless life.”

“But…” Derek looks terribly, terribly earnest. “It’s important to me that you know that.”

And then a few of the facts that Stiles knew in the abstract click together: Paige receiving the bite without her consent, Kate’s seduction-based murder plan, Jennifer’s secret identity, and he realizes exactly why Derek got so upset when Stiles made that stupid crack about being taken advantage of.

Stiles is an asshole. He’s going to put a clause in his will demanding that go on his headstone. Hell, it might be his cause of death, knowing this town.

“Derek,” Stiles begins again, “our situation is nothing at all like any of your previous… entanglements.” It was the most diplomatic word he could come up with for Derek’s romantic disasters. “I mean, let’s be honest, we know more shit about each other than we really want to know. And yet, here we are, still ready to go for this. I think. Unless you’re trying to tell me you’ve suddenly and cruelly changed your mind?”

“No,” Derek says hastily. “I just…”

“You just have a guilt complex the size of Jupiter,” Stiles summarizes.

Derek pauses. “Why do I want to make out with you, again?”

“Beats the hell out of me,” Stiles replies, as he steps forward and goes in for an actual, on-the-mouth kiss.

Their noses bump because Derek seems frozen for a moment, his mouth unmoving against Stiles’. Stiles is about to pull back, certain that he’s going to get punched or threatened with a good old fashioned ripped out throat or possibly just glared at sternly, when Derek gently rests his hand on either side of Stiles’ face – and oh god, his hands are big enough that his thumbs rest against Stiles’ neck – and kisses him back.

When Stiles pictured this, he always thought Derek would be the aggressor, would devour Stiles, push him against a wall and take what he wanted. But instead the kiss is tentative and almost sweet, with Derek letting Stiles take over, choosing the pace and being the one to open his mouth first, the first to explore Derek’s mouth.

Derek’s thumbs trace soft patterns on the tender skin just below Stiles’ ears, and Stiles rests his hands on Derek’s hips, dipping one hand back enough to feel the firm swell of Derek’s ass. Derek moans a little when Stiles’ teeth graze his lip, and when the kiss breaks, Derek’s cheeks are flushed.

Stiles probably looks like a lobster, himself, and he should probably let go, but Derek’s still got his hands on Stiles’ cheeks, and they stand there, close enough that when Stiles’ eyes finally drift open, it’s hard to take in all of Derek’s face. Instead he seems to focus on single features – the redness tinging Derek’s cheeks, the way his eyelashes look against his cheek, his blown pupils when he finally opens his eyes, looking for all the world like he expects Stiles to be gone, like he expects it all to have been in his mind.

Stiles’s having a hard time believing it, himself. The moment stretches on, Derek just looking at Stiles like he’s the answer to a question that he’s been too afraid to ask, and Stiles has to break the silence, has to break the moment, before things become too real.

“That was awesome,” he babbles wildly, like Derek somehow managed not to notice. “I think we should do that again sometime. Maybe lots of times. For science.”

He isn’t even making sense.

Derek’s right hand drifts down from his cheek, curls around the back of his neck and pulls him closer for another kiss. This one’s just as gentle, like Derek is afraid Stiles will break, or maybe Derek is afraid of breaking himself.

Like he thinks that if he lets go, everything will crumble.

So Stiles kisses him back with as much feeling as he can, tries to reassure Derek with the shape of his mouth and the stroke of his tongue and the press of his lips, to tell him just how he feels about him, just how much he doesn’t want this to end. His beard scrapes gently against Stiles’ face as the kiss deepens, and Stiles thinks Derek must not have trimmed it since the neck-nuzzling incident, because the hair is somehow a little softer, now.

Stiles gets distracted and his mouth slides off of Derek’s as he rubs his own bare jawline against Derek’s scruff. Derek doesn’t seem to mind, just nuzzles him back until Derek’s lips are pressed against the shell of Stiles’ ear, and he breathes softly on it. Stiles shudders, exhaling audibly as Derek delicately traces the shape of Stiles’ ear with his mouth, sending tingles down through Stiles’ body.

Derek pulls away slowly, and when he moves his hands off Stiles’ skin, Stiles can feel how flushed he actually is. He doesn’t want to know if he looks as wrecked as he feels, all from a few kisses that could have been shown in a freaking PG-rated movie.

Derek takes a deep breath, as if to center himself. Then he breathes out, “Stiles.”

There’s so much in that one word. The tone is a strange one, and it comes to Stiles slowly that Derek sounds content.

The warm glow low in his belly grows as he realizes how much of an effect he has on Derek, that this means just as much to him as it does to Stiles.

Stiles just stands there, grinning stupidly, and then he hears the front door open, followed by what is unmistakably his father’s footsteps in the front hall.

“Fuck,” he breathes out. “Maybe he won’t want to talk to me?”

Derek smiles at him -- smiles, holy shit, it’s like all Derek needed to turn into a shiny happy person was a few awesome kisses, which both boosts Stiles’ ego and also makes him a little sad, because seriously how lonely has Derek been -- and says, “I’ll see you later.”

“Wait,” Stiles says, “When? Where? I need details, mister,” but Derek has already fled out Stiles’ bedroom window.

Stiles has to give him credit. For someone who gets as little play as Derek Hale does, he has the bedroom escape skills of Don Juan himself.

The Sheriff shows up in his doorway a few minutes later, sandwich in hand. He takes one look at Stiles, glances around the bedroom, and sighs, “Hale went out the window, didn’t he?”

“What? No, that would be… extremely sketchy,” Stiles lies expansively.

The Sheriff rolls his eyes at him. “Well, either that, or he’s hiding under the bed. Should I check?”

Stiles sighs. “No, you got it the first time. How’d you know it was Derek?”

“Please,” his dad says. “He was immune to your love potion number nine? I’d never make any arrests at all if I was that gullible.”

Stiles flops down on the bed. “My virtue is intact, if that’s your concern.”

“Not particularly,” the Sheriff said, coming in the room and settling beside Stiles on the bed. “I want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.”

Stiles nods. “I think I’ve seen every cautionary tale about the dangers of dating a werewolf played out in all their gory glory at this point.”

“Well,” the Sheriff says, “not actually my concern, but I’m glad you at least thought of it. I was thinking more along the lines of, are you ready to let someone new into your heart.”

“When’d you start channeling Hallmark?” Stiles asks, surprised.

His dad pins him with a knowing look. “Stiles, you’ve been crushing on the same girl since before your mother…” His voice trails off, but he doesn’t need to finish the sentence. “And I’ve seen how jealous you are of Isaac taking up Scott’s time. You’re not the type to let people in easily. You get that from me, probably, but I’m just going to let you know…” He pauses, takes the time to twist his wedding band, the way he does when he’s thinking about Stiles’ mom and doesn’t want to say it out loud, because there’s nothing either of them could do to bring her back anyway. “It’s going to hurt.”

“Don’t you mean, you might get hurt?” Stiles corrects before he can stop himself.

The Sheriff shakes his head. “I wish, son. But us Stilinskis… We don’t let people in easily, but once we do, we hold on til the bitter end. Are you sure that Derek is someone you want that with?”

Stiles stays quiet for a moment, trying to think of a way to explain it to his dad that didn’t make it sound like teenage hormones gone rampant. “When Jennifer took you… Derek didn’t know, yet. What she was. And he thought he cared about her. But once me and Scott told him, he didn’t hesitate. He believed us, even though he wanted her to be who he thought she was. And I was there, when she tried to convince him she was still just an innocent bystander, and he just asked her where you were.”

His dad leans back on his elbows, watching him carefully. Stiles chooses his words carefully. “It would have been easy for him to pretend that she wasn’t the Darach, but… Dad, he gave up on his own happiness just like that, all because of what we said to him. He’s a good person, and I think… I think that this has been building for longer than I realized.”

He’s not being as coherent as he wants to be, doesn’t think he’s explained to his dad all the reasons that he and Derek are well-matched, all the reasons that they might make each other actually happy, but his dad nods anyway.

“Just… take care, okay?” There’s something bittersweet in his dad’s tone, and he sits up to pull Stiles in for a one-armed hug.

“Always,” Stiles promises. “And that goes for you, too, mister. Don’t think I can’t smell onion rings on your breath.”

“Don’t think that I won’t put out an APB on a certain someone if I catch them sneaking out your window again,” his dad shoots back.

*

When Scott calls, concerned about Stiles missing cross country practice, Stiles realizes how little time has actually passed. It feels like a lifetime; his entire world has seemingly shifted on its axis since then. The uncertainty is gone, because Derek absolutely likes him, replaced with a different type of nerves.

“I’m fine,” he reassures Scott. “Dandy, even. I’m shocked that you even made it to practice. Didn’t a midafternoon threesome tire you out, or did your Alpha powers kick in for an energy boost after?”

“Stiles,” Scott admonishes, “I didn’t have a threesome at school. That’s tacky.”

“That’s good to hear,” Stiles says. “But… I’m happy if you’re happy. You know that, right?”

He can hear the smile in Scott’s voice. “I’m happy. But what about you? What are you going to say to Derek?”

“I already saw him,” Stiles admits.

“And?”

“I think we sorted things out,” Stiles says, just to prove that he can play it cool.

“Sweet,” Scott says. “Check us out, you breaking that spell was maybe the best thing that ever happened to our sex lives.”

“Screw magic,” Stiles agrees happily.

*

He ends up at Derek’s loft that evening, standing outside the door with butterflies in his stomach and a pizza in his hands, giving him something concrete to hold onto to avoid looking like Derek had earlier in his room, hands fluttering around with nowhere to go.

The door swings open. Cora stands there, hands on her hips. “Is that pineapple?”

“Yes?” Stiles answers, peering past her. Derek is sitting on the couch, watching them with an unreadable expression.

“Good,” Cora says, taking the pizza and carrying it to the coffee table, leaving Stiles standing in the doorway. Derek shrugs at him, and Stiles feels his smile getting kind of goofy, so he gives himself a mental talking-to about not becoming a total goober like Scott did over Allison, and shuts the door behind himself.

Cora and Derek both have already gotten pieces by the time Stiles settles on the couch next to Derek, their knees brushing together.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Cora says after a moment. “If you’re going to try out magic, you should at least do something fun, not a boring old love spell.”

“I’m disappointed in me, too, no worries,” Stiles tells her truthfully. “I’m going to chalk it down as temporary insanity.”

Derek makes an agreeable noise beside him, and Stiles scowls at him because, hey, didn’t kissing each other mean that Derek was supposed to defend him against every slight…

Okay, Stiles is being ridiculous, and if Derek did that, Stiles would be running to the pack yelling, “Imposter! Imposter! Grab the mountain ash, quicky!”

Cora seems to take great sisterly pleasure in spending the rest of the meal watching them with eagle eyes, smirking every time they so much as looked at each other or bumped knees, and frankly it made Stiles so self-conscious that every touch felt magnified a thousandfold.

Derek doesn’t seem to mind, and after a few minutes Stiles wonders if this was what it was like for him with Laura, if just having a sister sitting there silently teasing him was something he’d longed for.

If it makes Derek happy, then, Stiles will put up with it, though he’s still Stiles, so he starts to push things after he realizes what Cora’s doing.

First just a hand brushed against Derek’s thigh, casually. He can feel the muscles stiffen even with that brief contact, which gives him a surge of I did that that goes straight to his groin.

Derek’s expression remains steady at ‘enjoying pizza.’ Stiles decides to up the game a bit, and rests his hand a little higher on Derek’s thigh, drumming his fingertips lightly against the worn denim of Derek’s impressively tight pants.

Cora rolls her eyes, and Stiles resists the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Derek’s frozen underneath his fingers, and after a second, Derek sets down his slice of pizza with studied deliberation.

Then his hand is wrapped around Stiles’ wrist and he pulls Stiles’ hand up to his mouth, kissing his knuckles before letting it go and leaning forward to catch Stiles’ mouth with his.

“Ugh, fine, I’ll leave you two alone,” Cora says, but there’s something pleased under her exasperated tone, like she’d given up the idea of her brother having something simple and happy and was relieved to see that it wasn’t impossible after all.

Stiles was too busy getting mercilessly kissed, pressed down into the sofa with Derek’s considerable weight bearing down on him, to snark anything back at her.

He’s still holding the remains of his slice of pizza, and Derek’s mouth tastes sweet against his. Stiles is having a hard time thinking of anything past the slide of their mouths and tongues against each other, and the pressure of Derek against his groin, and the way Derek’s hand rakes through Stiles’ hair, tugging at it slightly to direct Stiles where he wants him.

It’s filthier than their kiss this afternoon, and needier, and Stiles moans into Derek’s mouth.

He manages to maneuver his hand holding the pizza to the table, setting it down safely so that he can trace down Derek’s arm, feeling the swell of muscle under surprisingly soft skin. Stiles has just managed to twist his hips up against Derek just right when Derek pulls back.

His hair is askew, sticking up in the back from Stiles running his hands through his hair, and Stiles doesn’t even really remember doing it. He curls his hands slightly, trying to recapture the memory of what the curve of Derek’s skull felt like, when Derek says, quietly, “I have a confession.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re secretly married or something,” Stiles says, because nothing good ever started out with “I have a confession.”

Derek laughs softly, shaking his head. “Nothing that dramatic. Just… I overheard you. This afternoon, when you were talking to your dad.”

Oh. Oh.

“You did?” Stiles’ voice goes tight. He feels strangely bare, like he’s exposed in a deeply intimate way, and this is probably how Derek felt when he realized Stiles knew that he had feelings.

He takes a steadying breath. Derek is sitting up, cradled between Stiles’ sprawled-open legs, and Stiles is still laying down, shirt rucked up enough to expose his hip and happy trail, and he’s painfully aware of the press of his boner against the fly of his pants.

He pushes himself up, leaving Derek bracketed between his legs, but it makes him feel slightly less exposed now that they’re looking each other in the eye, though he knows Derek can still see how turned on he is.

Derek takes a steadying breath and says, “You know that I don’t trust easily.”

“Understatement,” Stiles says reflexively, offering a self-deprecating smile. Derek listened in, he knows how miserly Stiles is with his own trust.

“But you’re someone I trust implicitly,” Derek says. “I… When I let Jennifer in, I told her that people get hurt around me. I’m not going to insult you by telling you that. But I want you to know that I’ll do everything in my power to keep that from happening.”

His voice wavers a bit on power, like he’s thinking about the Alpha powers he gave up.

And Stiles smiles at him, leans forward and kisses him, curling his hand along Derek’s jaw reassuringly. When he pulls back, Derek looks relieved, like he’s been worried about Stiles’ opinion of him, ridiculous as that is.

And with that, Stiles knows that they’re going to be good together. Derek still has a serious expression on his face, like every word out of his mouth has to be a soulful confession, and Stiles does what he does best: brings down the tone.

“And I promise not to turn out to be evil,” Stiles tells him, straight-faced. “Unless you’re into that kind of thing.”

“Shut the hell up,” Derek says, scowling at him. But the corners of his mouth keep trying to turn up, and, yeah, this is going to work out nicely.

“Make me,” Stiles says, tugging at Derek’s shirt to pull him down on him again.

Turns out, Derek has a lot more creative ways of shutting Stiles up than just threatening him with his teeth. He has a whole range of other, enjoyable methods of persuasion.

He’ll never confess it to anyone, but magic (well, it’s entirely unintentional side-effects) is totally fucking awesome.