On a Thursday in December, dangerously close to Christmas, Stiles wakes up to an empty bed with a pair of tickets to the California Academy of Sciences laying on the pillow next to his sleepy eyes. After he shakes the heavy weight out of his limbs and stretches out across the space, he stumbles into the kitchen and presses himself up against Derek’s back as soon as his slow hands find him. Derek’s standing at the counter getting them cereal for breakfast.
“Morning,” Derek hums, pressing his back and ass up against Stiles’ body, plastering them together from their shoulders to their thighs.
“Hm,” Stiles agrees, leaning into the touch. “What are these for?” His face is smashed so hard up against Derek’s back that his words come out jumbled, but he waves the tickets in front of Derek’s face for clarification.
“It’s our one month anniversary, Stilinski,” Derek tells him, grabbing the tickets out of Stiles’ flying fingers.
“Shit,” Stiles swears. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he mutters, not releasing his hold on Derek’s chest, hoping that a crushing hug will somehow make up for forgetting.
Derek doesn’t even flinch. He rubs his big hands over Stiles’ forearms and scratches his nails lightly over Stiles’ skin, and Stiles pulls him tighter as he presses a kiss to the back of Derek’s neck.
“I thought maybe you could take me to the museum,” Derek says.
“You’d let me do that?” Stiles asks, tired and excited, finally releasing his grip long enough to turn Derek around and grin at him.
“Well, I know how much you like watching me play those games where they make me guess where my piece of pottery is from,” Derek tells him, and Stiles snorts.
“Man, you never get that right.”
“We can’t all be anthropology majors, Stiles,” Derek answers, and Stiles pulls him in for a kiss. He smiles into it, all teeth and searching lips, and when he pulls away he laughs.
After that, Derek celebrates their anniversary every month, and it only takes Stiles eight of them to remember what day it is, but Derek never seems to mind. Stiles wakes up to soft, urgent kisses every time and Derek lets him choose their entire day, and Derek doesn’t even complain when Stiles abuses his anniversary right of getting to be right about everything for twelve straight hours. By the end of the day, Stiles is drunk on power and wondering when the hell he got so lucky, Derek trailing behind him, a hand at his back, a hand on his hip, his lips always ready and willing.
Derek stares back at him, brow furrowed and confused. "I asked what time your game was?" He tries to smile around his cereal, but Stiles thinks it looks more deranged than anything. A little milk dribbles down the side of Derek’s chin and he tries to catch it with his tongue, failing entirely. Stiles can’t even take a moment to appreciate what’s happening in front of him because he’s so bewildered by the question.
The thing is, Stiles had joined a recreational baseball team about a month ago, and he had immediately banned all questions about the tight uniform pants and ordered everyone in his life to back the hell off. In what was probably the most shocking and first-time-ever display of respect that his friends had ever shown, mostly everyone had let it drop. His dad made jokes sometimes about him playing for the As, everyone made jokes sometimes about whether he was going to be the pitcher or the catcher, and then everybody just sort of forgot about it. Stiles went to practices on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons and he always showered before Derek showed up for date night, and nobody asked about it again.
Until now, the day before the first pitch of his season.
“You want to come to my game?” Stiles asks, snapping out of it and reaching out to wipe the milk from where it’s traveling slowly toward Derek’s neck.
“Yeah, I thought it might be nice. I can come cheer you on,” Derek mumbles around his food again, his eyes lighting up in a smile even though his mouth can’t. He looks hopeful, and Stiles almost cries from joy right then and there, because his boyfriend is actually the best.
“Yes, you can come and cheer me on,” Stiles says, scrunching his nose and leaning over for a kiss. He cups Derek’s cheeks in his hands and slides their lips together, a sickly sweet show of love, and then he leans back, away from the counter, and rests on his heels for a minute. “My boyfriend, the cheerleader,” he marvels, and Derek pretends to scowl. Stiles knows better, and he spends the next ten minutes wondering how he got so lucky.
The next day, they pack into the Jeep (who is miraculously still kicking, thanks to the amount of money that Stiles has spent on her when he could have bought a new car for the same price) with Stiles’ equipment in tow, and they head over to the field. Stiles spends the entire car ride alternating between watching the road and watching Derek try to balance the six tupperware containers of orange slices that he brought for the team to eat during the inning breaks. It turns out that being a werewolf doesn’t magically give you enough finesse to keep orange slices from falling all over the foot of the car when you’re in an old Wrangler and there’s a Stilinski behind the wheel, so when they step out, Derek’s lower half is practically covered in orange juice and rinds.
“It’s fine,” Derek says, stepping out of the car when they get to the field and kicking an orange slice off of his foot. “I stowed two more in the back.” He flashes a smile at Stiles and trots off toward the bleachers along the first base line, where Stiles can see him settle in on the ground level seats and wait patiently for the game to start.
“Stilinski!” One of his teammates yells at him from the bench.
“One second,” Stiles yells back, not turning around to look. He keeps his eyes trained on Derek, just appreciating the view, until Derek turns to look at him and raises his hand in a little wave, a lopsided smile.
“There it is,” Stiles smiles, and he turns on his heels and heads for the dugout.
“Stilinski,” his coach says, clapping him on the back. “Maybe next time spend less time staring at your boyfriend and more time getting here when you’re supposed to.”
Stiles snorts and nudges the guy next to him, Allen. “He wouldn’t be saying that if he’d seen my boyfriend’s biceps when he waved, I mean, am I right?”
“Derek,” Allen tells him, long-suffering, like he hears this all the time. “Your boyfriend’s name is Derek,” he deadpans, and Stiles rolls his eyes at him.
“Man, you’re no fun, Allen,” Stiles says, but he does feel a little bad about the blatant objectification he just perpetuated. Just a little.
The game starts slowly, and Stiles’ team is in the field for the first part of the first inning. The coach is cruel, so he stuck him out in right field, and Stiles spends the first ten minutes of the game just standing there in the middle of the grass. He stares at his feet, he watches the pitches, he tries to choreograph a tap routine. Derek stays focused on the game, not Stiles, so sometimes Stiles gets to sneak glances over at the bleachers without him noticing, gets to see him follow the ball across the field, see his head whip toward first when the shortstop drills it over for a close out.
A couple of minutes in, the batter pops a fly directly toward Stiles. He literally doesn’t even have to shuffle his feet to get under it. He just sticks his glove up and the ball lands safely in the web, no danger of going anywhere at all.
Since nobody’s on any of the bases, Stiles lobs it nice and easy back toward the pitcher, and then he hears a slow and steady clap coming from somewhere to his left.
When he looks over, Derek is just stoically nodding his head up and down, clapping determinedly in his direction. “Good hustle, Stiles,” he shouts, looking around at the other people on the bench with him, trying to get them to join in. “Good hustle,” he repeats.
Stiles would be mortified, but he’s too amused to care.
“I didn’t even move my feet!”
“It was a good hustle,” Derek says one last time, raising his hands in a more triumphant clap, elbowing the woman next to him. He nods again in Stiles’ direction and gives him a thumbs up.
“Man, Stilinski,” Allen says, jogging over from center field. “You should really keep that one around.”
Stiles just smiles a bemused smile back at him and says, “Believe me, Allen, I’m trying.”
The rest of the game almost passes without real incident. One time Stiles looks over and Derek is FaceTiming with Scott on Stiles’ phone, held up so that Scott can see the field from where he’s sitting in his living room. Jesus, his life is weird.
Then, in the seventh inning, Derek decides that the third base coach isn’t doing his job well enough and comes over to give him some pointers. From where he’s standing on first, Stiles can see a flurry of hand motions as the batter tees up and as the hit drills out toward center field, the third base coach huffs away and Derek takes his place.
The hit is long, so Stiles rounds second and breaks for third. As he slides in, Derek motions for him to stay, not to steal home, and Stiles stands up and wipes the dirt off of his thigh.
“What are you doing here?” Stiles asks frantically, trying to keep an eye on the game and talk to Derek at the same time.
“I had some ideas,” Derek says, totally innocently, and Stiles can’t help but laugh.
“Babe,” he says, whipping his head around as he hears the bat make contact. It’s a foul, and he drops just a little of the tension in his shoulders for a second. “You have to let the coach do his job. You have to let the coach do the coaching,” he explains, a hint of amusement in his voice.
Derek backs off immediately. He makes placating gestures with his hands and says, “Alright, okay, sounds good. You want an orange slice?” He produces a tupperware container from somewhere behind him, and Stiles laughs as he takes off for home when the batter slams one toward left field.
Stiles’ team loses spectacularly, but at the end of the game the dugout is in good spirits because they’re all sucking down oranges and water bottles their significant others have brought them, laughing and joking about all the stupid shit they tried to pull.
“Stilinski!” Allen yells across the dugout when the coach finishes giving them a forlorn we’ll-get-em-next-time speech. “Derek should come to all the games! He’s the best,” Allen sighs, and it’s maybe a little too dreamy for Stiles’ taste, but hey, he’s not arguing.
“Yeah, he’s the - oh, hey babe!” Stiles reaches up behind him from where he’s sitting on the bench and wraps an arm around Derek, who’s just sauntered in. He cranes his neck up for a kiss and Derek leans down and humors him and half of the rest of the team fake gags.
“Stiles,” Derek says when he pulls away. He flips open his phone and shoves it in front of Stiles’ face. “Tell Scott to stop texting me if he’s just going to freak himself out.”
Stiles looks down at Derek’s phone, where there are four messages from Scott, each one more frantic than the next.
“He sent them after we hung up,” Derek explains, and Stiles reads them.
from: scott, 4:02 PM
ha ha stiles looks so dumb in those pants you’re dating him
from: scott, 4:03 PM
haha you have to sleep with him afterhe wears those pants wait
from: scott, 4:04 PM
wait i take it back can u assure me you have never touched him please
from: scott, 4:04 PM
DEREK i need u to assure me PLEASE
Stiles snorts and murmurs, “Thank you for putting up with him,” and he leans back up for another kiss. Derek melts down into him, and for a minute Stiles forgets where he is. When Derek straightens up, Stiles chases his mouth just a bit, and then he hears Allen yell, “Seriously, Stilinski, get a room!”
Stiles doesn’t even have the decency to blush.
“Derek!” Stiles yells, running into the living room of his apartment. He’s just gotten off the phone and computer with Scott, and he stands in the middle of the room buzzing all over with excitement.
Derek looks up with genuine interest written all over his face and Stiles pauses for a minute to appreciate it. Nobody else in his life pays even a little bit of attention to the things he yells, so it’s a marvel every time that Derek does.
Stiles grins. “Jimmy Eat World is going on tour, and Scott and I have tickets.”
Derek smiles at him. “General admission?”
“Yeah,” Stiles waves it off, “But we’re totally going to get there like six hours early to get in line. Obviously.”
“Oh, obviously,” Derek agrees.
The week before the show rolls around, Stiles plays nothing but Jimmy Eat World in the apartment. He plays “Big Casino” when he goes for runs and comes home to Derek’s homemade protein shakes. He plays “Movielike” when he’s driving to get takeout with the windows down, open air streaming through his car and both hands on the wheel. He plays “Hear You Me” when the picture of his mom that he keeps in his wallet accidentally goes missing for four hours and all he can do is sit on his bed and weep while Derek finds it for him.
One morning he’s standing in the kitchen making eggs and playing “Futures,” singing along like we’re wide awake and we’re thinking, my darling, believe your voice can mean something, when he hears Derek slide into the space behind him and squeeze his hips, a soft sturdy movement.
“It’s our song,” Derek murmurs into Stiles’ neck, and Stiles thinks he must have been blessed to find someone who humors him so wholly.
“Yeah, babe,” Stiles says, turning so their chests are pressed together and ignoring the pop of the frying eggs behind him. “Things will look up, and they look up,” he teases.
Derek just smirks and says, “You’re gonna burn breakfast.”
Scott and Stiles go to the show the next day. They get there early enough that they’re in the second row in the middle of a smushed-in crowd of dudes their own age. They wear band merch because they never cared that it wasn’t “cool” etiquette to do that. They scream like tiny children when the band plays their favorite songs. Scott totally cries and makes Stiles promise not to tell anyone, and they get wasted and have to call Derek to come and pick them up because they’re an hour’s drive away from home and they miss the last train back.
To his credit, Derek doesn’t even hesitate.
After they drop Scott off, Derek shoves more water into Stiles’ hands and pets his hair as he makes the turns for home. Stiles looks at him and smiles. Derek is so cool. Derek is the coolest. Derek is so supportive. Derek is so supportive of Stiles’ friendship with Scott and them having “best friend time” that it makes Stiles a little bit suspicious sometimes. In fact, he’s a little bit suspicious now.
“Do you ever get jealous of me and Scott?” Stiles asks. He is clearly angling and he is unashamed.
Stiles narrows his eyes as Derek suppresses a laugh.
“But, like, hypothetically,” Stiles continues, only barely slurring his words in Derek’s direction. “What if I told you Scott was into me? Then would you be jealous?”
“Scott’s not into you, Stiles.”
“Babe, I’m telling you,” Stiles presses on. “Last weekend when we were dancing, he totally tried to kiss me.”
“Stiles, Scott didn’t try to kiss you.”
“People might want to kiss me! You don’t know!” Stiles wails.
Derek deadpans a look at him. “I do know, Stiles. I sympathize with those people. We are brethren,” he says, and Stiles swoons so hard he almost falls out of the moving car.
He is unashamed of showing up at Scott’s apartment and asking if something that’s happening with his dick is weird or not. He runs every sexual dilemma by Scott, like if he isn’t sure if something some guy said to him in bed should be cause for alarm, or to see if Scott thinks he’s going to get deathly ill because his own hand’s the only one that’s touched his dick in more than a week. There was one time that Stiles was particularly proud of when they were Skyping during their junior year; he’d taken off his shirt to show Scott a dark and intricate bruise pattern from a throwaway, drunk one night stand, and Scott had almost cried. “It’s so beautiful,” he’d whispered, hand up to his mouth in awe. That was when Stiles knew that Scott understood that their little sex chats were for life. Scott was literally never going to be able to get away from them, so he better keep up. For the most part, Scott gives as good as he gets, and Stiles valiantly pretends that he doesn’t think about Allison naked sometimes when Scott tells him thinly veiled stories about weird places they’ve banged.
What it really comes down to is that Stiles is cool about sex. Like some remarkably chill aficionado, if he does say so himself.
What Stiles could never have anticipated is how much cooler about sex Derek is.
Much to Stiles’ delight, Derek is the ultimate “I don’t care if you go down on me but please let me suck you off, please, I need to suck you off, please, please” boyfriend. He’s so cool that he doesn’t care about reciprocation, although Stiles is extremely enthusiastic about giving it (and let it never be said otherwise). He’s so cool that he doesn’t mind when Stiles wants to fuck in public places because he likes the thrill of getting caught. They always get caught. Stiles can’t keep his mouth shut when he’s buried to the hilt in Derek’s ass, so they always get caught, and Derek doesn’t even have the decency to fake a look of embarrassment anymore. When he notices approaching footsteps that Stiles can’t hear, he just opens his chest wide, fucks himself harder against Stiles’ hips, squeezes tight around Stiles’ cock and makes him shake apart in front of whatever stranger is just about to walk in on them. That’s how cool he is. Derek “The Dude” Hale, Stiles sometimes calls him.
When they first get together, they go entire weeks where Derek will give Stiles at least two or three blow jobs every day in addition to whatever other fucking they do, which Stiles isn’t protesting at all, but he thinks it seems a little bit excessive. It takes Derek almost no time to figure out how Stiles likes it: messy, open and warm, choking Derek until he can barely breathe, a pinky finger slipped inside him as he comes. As soon as Derek figures it out, it’s all he wants to do. He wants to do it instead of cooking and eating dinner. He wants to do it instead of showering before he goes to work. He wants to do it instead of being on time for weekly dinners at the Sheriff’s house, which is something Stiles refuses to let happen (mostly because he is wildly uninterested in explaining their tardiness to his father). Stiles starts to get concerned that it’s all Derek will ever be interested in doing.
“Bro,” Stiles says to Scott one day when he shows up unannounced at the apartment Scott shares with Allison. When he walks into the living room, she’s on the couch reading what Stiles chooses to assume is a dirty romance novel.
“I think Derek is straight addicted to my cock,” Stiles tells them, flinging himself over the arm of their sofa and into Allison’s lap.
“Yeah, that’s my cue to leave,” she says, shuffling his head off of her thigh.
Stiles’ head dips into the indent she leaves when she gets up, and Scott says, “I don’t see the problem here.”
“Is this a werewolf thing? Are you addicted to going down on Allison?” Stiles asks, and from the other room he can hear her yell, “I swear to god, Scott, if you answer that you won’t get to do it tonight!”
Scott just raises his eyebrows and waggles them in Stiles’ general direction.
“Maybe it’s a werewolf thing,” they agree, and that’s the end of the discussion until later that night.
They’re all sitting at the diner in a big booth with some chairs shoved up to the end of the table when Allison takes a bite of her sandwich and looks directly at Derek and says, “I hear you like giving head.”
“Oh my god,” Stiles groans, letting his forehead fall forward onto the table. Boyd and Isaac and Lydia all stop chewing, and Danny smirks harder than Stiles thinks he ever has before. At least Scott has the decency to look apologetic, but Stiles turns to Allison and accuses, “This is for making Scott tell me where your ticklish sex spots are, isn’t it?”
She holds her hand up and doesn’t dignify that with a response, opting instead to stare at Derek as she waits for an answer to a question she didn’t ask.
Derek perks his eyebrows and turns to Stiles, who is flushed as red as that damn hoodie he sported all through high school, but Derek just turns back and smiles a slow, knowing smile at Allison before he speaks. “It’s not a chore if you love doing it,” he drawls, one hand dropping to squeeze at Stiles’ knee.
“Jesus Christ,” Stiles mutters, but he’s not surprised. This is how cool Derek is about sex.
“The thing about dicks is,” Derek continues, and Isaac suddenly looks like he’s about to cry down at the other end of the table. Derek pauses for a moment, looking around the group. “Wait,” he says. “Is everyone cool with me talking about this?”
Lydia drops the rest of the roll she’s eating onto her plate and looks at him dead in the eye. “Please,” she says drily, one perfectly shaped eyebrow raised as high as it will go. “Tell us what the thing about dicks is.”
Stiles gapes helplessly as Derek talks completely unabashedly about how he loves the weight of a dick in his mouth, in his ass, the heavy dullness they leave when they’re gone, their warmth on his tongue. He uses every obscene way he can find to say that Stiles’ is the best dick he’s ever had the pleasure of tasting in his life without ever mentioning Stiles by name. By the time it devolves into Lydia and Derek getting into a contest to see who can make the most subtly veiled innuendos about their boyfriends’ cocks, everyone has left the table except for Stiles and Boyd, who are commiserating about how they somehow end up going through this every damn time they all get together.
“You want to ditch them?” Boyd asks, and Lydia and Derek don’t even notice. They get up, leaving Derek and Lydia there at the booth, and take a breather lap around the parking lot together.
“How does Lydia even know that much about penises?” Stiles asks Boyd, still impressed by her vast knowledge, years later.
“I make it my business not to ask where she gets her information from,” Boyd says seriously, but he quirks the corners of his mouth up as he finishes. “Plus, she’s a very meticulous researcher,” he says, and Stiles nods knowingly along, well versed in the art of avoiding asking more questions when it comes to Lydia and Boyd’s sex life.
Twenty minutes later, they come back to the table and Derek and Lydia are still going round for round but now they’re sipping newly-ordered milkshakes.
Stiles takes one last, desperate look at Boyd and whistles, “It’s gonna be a looooooong night.”
Later, after they’ve all left the diner and he and Derek are on the way home, Stiles gets a text and snaps open his phone.
from: scott, 11:19 PM
dude i think its justa derek thing, straight upnobody likes dick that much
He responds immediately.
to: scott, 11:20 PM
yeah he already blew me in the bathroom at the diner befroe we left, i guess i’m jst a lucky guy
“Babe,” Stiles mumbles into his phone from where it’s smashed between his cheek and his shoulder. He’s heading home in the car on a Friday, driving faster and faster away from his shit hole room in a dingy apartment that he shares with three international students. Stiles goes home every weekend, lets this drive be his calming moment at the end of the week. A month after Stiles had moved to Stanford, Derek had moved into the Sheriff’s house part-time. He kept the loft for times when they wanted to get away, to be alone, but Stiles remembers being at the grocery store and letting Derek talk to him about how he was just going to keep some stuff at the Sheriff’s house for a little while, not too long.
“It makes more sense that way anyway,” Derek had said. “You don’t want to be carting stuff back and forth all the time and I know how important it is for you to see your dad,” Derek had told him, so Stiles had given up on arguing.
Now, Stiles puts a hand back on the steering wheel and grabs his phone in one hand again, signaling to the right so he doesn’t miss his exit.
“Babe,” he says again, looking out the window as he shifts lanes, “I’m home literally every weekend, and I talk to you every day.”
“Stiles,” Derek tells him on the other end of the line. “Even a day is too long.”
Stiles scoffs and Derek protests, “It is! One day is too long!”
“Alright, well, I’ll be home in a half an hour,” Stiles counters, and they hang up.
Sure enough, when Stiles rolls into the driveway at his dad’s, the Camaro is outside on the street and he finds Derek and the Sheriff in a bitter staring contest over a game of Harry Potter Clue. Derek is Hermione, and nobody is surprised.
“What are you guys do - ” Stiles starts to say, but his dad cuts him off.
“Derek here was trying to cheat,” the Sheriff says.
“Sir,” Derek says, sighing at the pieces on the board. “I told you, you’re allowed to take the secret staircases.”
“I just don’t see where it came from,” the Sheriff tells him, not even looking down. He stares straight at Derek, like he’s daring him to make a move.
“All right, boys,” Stiles interrupts, stepping closer into view. “You’re not even going to welcome the prodigal son home?”
“I saw you last weekend,” the Sheriff says, waving a hand in Stiles’ general direction, but his tone is fond and Stiles swears he sees his dad’s eyes flick away from the board for a half second.
“Sir,” Derek says, “I’m going to say hello to your son now.” John grunts his agreement and Derek stands, wrapping his arms around Stiles next to the table. He nuzzles his nose into the crook of Stiles’ neck, breathes him in deep for a second before he kisses his jaw, his cheek, his nose.
Stiles squirms and squeezes the back of Derek’s neck, presses a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth before he asks, “Do you guys have time to take a break for dinner, or is it my fate to sit and watch your stalemate for another hour before one of you gives up and grabs a beer for the other?”
“Why are you looking at me when you say that?” Derek fakes innocence.
“I know you let me win, Derek,” the Sheriff adds, finally standing up.
“I’ll make enchiladas!”
“Derek, you’re terrible at deflections,” Stiles tells him, but he follows him into the kitchen anyway. They spend the rest of the night talking, the three of them there in the Sheriff’s house. Stiles talks about gearing up to submit his dissertation proposal, Derek talks about wanting to find a job with some carpenters in the area, and the Sheriff watches baseball in the next room while they cook. He never cares if it’s a rerun game, and Derek and Stiles move around each other in the kitchen like a softly turning music box, all fluid limbs and quiet comfort.
When Stiles takes another beer to his dad, the Sheriff leans over and catches his wrist.
“Son,” he says, gesturing with his drink toward Derek in the kitchen. “How’d you get so lucky with that one?”
Stiles answers honestly, “Dad, I have no idea.”
Later, when they’re almost done with dinner, Derek leans over to Stiles with a mischievous glint in his eye. He says, “Your dad’s gonna think I spoiled him, but I used low-fat cheese and greek yogurt instead of sour cream,” and Stiles’ heart does a little flip because he’s totally in love with the biggest, kindest dork he’s ever met.
“I won’t tell,” Stiles promises, and that’s the end of the discussion.
The rest of the weekend passes, and when it’s time for Stiles to leave he packs his shit into the Jeep and peals out of the driveway, yelling, “See you later, suckers!” at the two most important men in his life, and he knows they understand exactly what it means.
After a month at the job, some shitty campus job where he sits in a shitty cubicle in the admissions office with people who are more like robots than people, Stiles starts getting letters in the mail from Derek. Evidently he’s complained so much about having to do the job that Derek wants to make him feel better when he’s there since it’s not an option not to be.
His coworkers start intercepting the letters. At first they’re obviously shocked that Derek is real, and one of them, Gary, tries to compare Stiles’ notes that he takes at his desk with the handwriting in the letters to make sure that they don’t match.
“You think I’d send myself love letters?” Stiles asks, incredulous and indignant for a moment before he really thinks about it. “Okay, nevermind, don’t answer that, Gary.”
Every day, a new coworker comes up to deliver an already-ripped open envelope.
“It’s another stupid picture,” Sandy will say, or, “Can’t he do anything interesting for once?”
Derek sends Stiles disposable camera photos of mundane shit that Derek does during the week, so everyone in the office gets bored with trying to steal them before Stiles can get to them. “I mowed the grass!” Derek writes on the back of a photo of his athletic socks covered in grass clippings. “Your dad and I fixed his chair,” is on the back of a photo of the Sheriff holding a wrench and giving the camera a thumbs-up. “I bought new sunglasses,” is what Derek writes on the back of a truly unfortunate disposable selfie that has half of Derek’s forehead and a part of one single sunglass lens in the frame.
Stiles treasures them. One day when a letter shows up from Derek, he opens it and laughs so hard he starts to choke.
“Derek and Boyd tried to go to the movies,” he announces to the office at large when he recovers, “But they got the times wrong.”
“Shut up, Stilinski, we know he’s perfect, okay?” Gary yells from one cubicle over.
“Just making sure,” Stiles answers, vehemently clutching the photo to his chest. “I just wanted to make sure that everyone was aware.”
Stiles still goes home every weekend, but it gets harder to leave each time. He hates the drop in his stomach when he sees Derek and his dad getting smaller in the rear view mirror, and that little game that Derek had played last time of running as fast as he could alongside the Jeep had scared the hell out of him, so he’d put the ban on that too. He just feels like there’s something truly tragic about leaving a part of himself back home every time.
When he meets Lydia for dinner in Berkeley, some fancy meal she’s cooked for him in her tiny apartment, a very expensive bottle of wine on the table next to silverware he knows she got at Target, Stiles tells her about all of it. He talks to her about how he wishes that Derek would just move into the apartment in Stanford with him even though there isn't any room, he talks to her about the pictures. He talks to her about the letters Derek sends him.
Lydia gets more and more drunk, draining the bottle of wine as Stiles talks, and when he’s finished she levels a look at him and says, “I am pretty pissed that I didn’t get there first, Stilinski.”
“Don’t let Boyd hear you,” Stiles laughs, but Lydia brushes it off.
“I mean, who knew, though? Honestly, who could have possibly guessed that beneath that flailing, incompetent, socially caustic exterior there was a perfect boyfriend just waiting to emerge,” she says, tipping the last of the wine into Stiles’ glass.
“I didn’t even know!” Stiles agrees. “I had no idea. Who knew? I had no idea.”
The letters start coming every single day after that. Stiles uses them to decorate the walls of his office, and he gets so used to them showing up in a little white envelope every day that it becomes a part of his routine. When he gets home at night, he calls Derek and asks about whatever he saw, how the movie was, what part of the yard they’re going to work on next. It becomes such a part of them that Stiles notices immediately when it stops.
One Wednesday, Stiles is sitting at his desk at work, his shift in between classes, and Sandy delivers the mail but there’s nothing for him.
“Nothing today, sweetheart,” she says apologetically, and Stiles feels like someone just punched him in the chest.
“Are you sure?” He knows he sounds weak and small, which is ridiculous, but he also feels like he might throw up on the floor right in front of everyone, so he lets it slide and cuts himself some slack. Stiles sits at his desk and has no idea what to do with himself. He opens the same tab over and over just to close it over and over again. He staples things that don’t need to be stapled. He pretends to read an essay.
Stiles is about to well and truly panic when an arm reaches around him at his desk and Derek’s chin hooks onto his shoulder as he sticks the camera out and takes a shot of them during Stiles’ surprise.
Derek nuzzles up to him, wraps his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and plants a wet kiss on his jaw. “Surprise,” Derek whispers into his ear, and Stiles crumples back into him, feeling safe and warm and caught again. Derek rubs his shoulders as the panic slowly eases out of him, and then he whirls around and meets Derek’s stare.
“How did you pull this off?” Stiles can’t stop staring at him, happy and incredulous and entirely undeserving.
“Well, I had a little help,” Derek says.
In the next cubicle over, Gary’s arm shoots over the wall in a thumbs up signal. “You’re welcome, buddy,” he yells, and Stiles laughs so hard he almost falls over.
“You’re amazing,” Stiles tells Derek, watching the flush on the apples of Derek’s cheeks rise. “You’re just amazing.” He pulls Derek in for a kiss, opens his mouth and sighs against him, pushes with his tongue until Derek opens up for him and leans back, pulls Stiles with him.
“I’ll get fired if we do this here,” Stiles whispers, totally serious, like taking a break during the middle of your work shift to go have sex with your boyfriend is an acceptable thing to do.
Derek considers it and says, “How long of a drive is it to your place?”
A week later, after Derek has gone back to Beacon Hills, Stiles gets the photo of them in the mail at work. On the back of it, Derek has written, “I surprised my boyfriend at work and he was totally shocked. I did it!” In the picture, Derek is leaning into Stiles’ neck with his eyes closed, happy, and Stiles’ mouth is a perfect little ‘o’ of surprise and delight.
Stiles makes 80 copies and hands them out like flyers to his coworkers, who all crumple them up angrily and toss them back over Stiles’ desk at him while Stiles gives Derek a play-by-play and laughs down the other end of the phone.
He knows his friends don’t mean it, he does, but it doesn’t stop him from slipping into the bathroom at work and freaking out about it.
“Jesus Christ,” Stiles breathes, flipping open his phone in one of the stalls. He has too much time to himself, too much time just to think, to realize that every time someone talks to him about how perfect Derek is, he answers with, “I don’t know! I don’t get it either!”
He has a tendency to do this. When half of his life is spent listening to people tell him that they have no idea why Derek is being so good to him, he spends the other half of his life either wondering whether he’s good enough to deserve it or wondering if something tragic is going to happen that would put an end to the magic too soon. He spins elaborate stories in his head: Derek rides a recently purchased motorcycle over the edge of a cliff and into the ocean while simultaneously being paralyzed like he was that one time in the pool at the high school (because the impact clearly wouldn’t have killed him, but the drowning would). Derek is working on a house and a beam falls on top of him and he breaks his back and it doesn’t heal. Derek chokes on a peanut. That one’s the most terrifying, really, because it’s the most likely to happen. Stiles doesn’t want to admit how much time he spends avoiding peanuts.
That’s what he’s doing now: avoiding peanuts. He has no idea how to let the misplaced panic go without calling Derek, so he does. He barely even waits for Derek to answer before he says something.
“Are you okay?”
Stiles can hear Derek’s bewildered look take over on the other end of the line.
“Yeah, Stiles. I’m okay. What’s going on?”
“I don’t know," Stiles moans, sinking back into the wall. “I just got worried that maybe you had gotten into a car crash and were lying in a field of pollinating wolfsbane, or something, and you were dying, and I was just sitting at my desk doing my best limp dick impression, and I don’t want you to die while I’m doing my best limp dick impression, you know?”
The pause from Derek is deafening, and Stiles can hear the question coming for a minute before he asks.
“What,” Derek says very carefully. “What does a limp dick impression look like?”
“You know,” Stiles offers, starting to ease back into himself. “Totally gratuitous and just, like, taking up space.”
Derek finally laughs, loud and full, and Stiles dissolves into the sound, lets it hit him like a warming wave, and when they finally hang up he throws his bag over his shoulder and readies himself for the drive home.
The first summer Stiles and Derek live together, it’s in a little leased apartment in Sunnyvale on the first floor with more sunlight than they thought was possible and a quiet little street they like to lay in on cool evenings. They rest with their cheeks on the pavement in the middle of the road, sweating out their days and dripping into their nights, and they tumble in the door when it gets dark and fuck on every surface of the house.
They do other things, too, like cook their dinners separately but eat them together. They passive aggressively buy the wrong kind of shampoo because neither of them can agree but nobody wants to spend the money on buying two different bottles. They stick a pack of cards in their back pockets whenever they leave the house and play rummy every time they go out to eat.
Their next door neighbor is an old woman with a meyer lemon tree and an overgrown lawn, and Stiles watches Derek eye them longingly for weeks before he finally decides to do something about it.
“I think I’m going to offer to mow Mrs. Mason’s lawn,” Derek tells Stiles one morning when they’re eating pancakes and lounging in lawn chairs on their sidewalk. They’re absolutely in everybody’s way.
“Oh,” Stiles says, entirely unsurprised. “For nothing in return, I’m sure,” he adds.
“I don’t need anything in return,” Derek insists, but he comes home the next day with a basket full of lemons and Stiles smiles knowingly.
The rest of the summer is a haze of lemon-flavored glory. Derek mows Mrs. Mason’s lawn three times a week and she pays him in dollars and lemons, and it’s Derek’s mission to find a new recipe every time. He candies the peels, makes lemon preserves. Derek fails spectacularly at lemon meringue pie and Stiles decides that a year is an appropriate amount of time to mock him for it.
Stiles comes home to a lemon filled house every few days, and he gets so wrapped up in the scent of it that it starts to remind him of Derek. He’ll walk into the grocery store and catch a hint of the lemons in produce and smile. Someone at work will use lemon-scented cleaning fluid and he’ll send Derek a quick text to ask what the menu of the day is.
His favorite days are when he gets home and walks in the door and Derek is standing there in an apron and stirring the lemonade he’s been chilling all day. It’s got fresh basil and a pinch of zest, and he makes it every time he has no other plan. Stiles will tumble in the door and Derek will greet him with it, pressing a glass into his hands as he slides his bag off of his shoulder and leans in for a kiss.
Sometimes he gets to drink it before the ice melts down and even a good stir can’t save it. Those days he savors it, the sweetness on his tongue, the sugar on the underside of Derek’s spit-slick bottom lip pouting out at him, the invitation in every single sip.
Stiles knows that Derek likes to watch him pick out produce, so at the Sunnyvale farmers’ market in September, he lets his long fingers linger over the last of the summer’s tomatoes for a second too long so that he can catch Derek staring. He skims over the eggplants, testing their firm skin with a squeeze, and he digs his hands into the barrels of green beans that won’t last another month out in the fields.
Derek laughs at the sight, a teasing, raucous sound, and Stiles wonders how weird it is that this has become their foreplay. They bicker, they fuck. They cook, they fuck. They pick out produce at a market and they go home and drop it on the living room floor and they fuck.
“Do you want to get some corn?” Stiles asks, swaying his hips toward the open back of a vendor’s truck, the flatbed full of sweet white stalks still laying in their husks.
“What do you want to do with it?” Derek counters, and Stiles shrugs.
“We could grill it. Make some elote. We could make some fritters, or a corn and tomato salad,” Stiles says, thinking out loud. “There are just so many possibilities, babe.”
“Well, when you put it like that,” Derek says.
“Better get a dozen?” Stiles supplies.
“Yeah, you choose. I’ll pay over there,” Derek tells him.
Stiles gets to work, shucking the tops open enough to see the crisp ends of the ears. He checks for bugs, checks for rot, and slides the good ones into their bag as he goes. He’s trying to decide what he wants to do with them first when he hears Derek’s conversation with the vendor, a young girl around their age, floating through the air.
“And my boyfriend’s picking out a dozen ears of corn,” Derek tells the girl, gesturing with his thumb over to where Stiles continues to studiously work, pretending not to hear them.
“He’s with you?” she asks, and Stiles guesses that Derek nods.
“Yeah,” he says, repeating himself. “That’s my boyfriend.”
“He’s cute,” the girl allows.
“He’s hot as fuck,” Derek corrects, a happy sort of awe creeping into his tone. The vendor laughs, a rich and ringing noise that Stiles takes a moment to revel in, and then Derek keeps talking some more. “Plus, he’s smart as hell. He’s funny, he’s kind, and he’d do pretty much anything for me. He’s amazing.”
“He sounds perfect,” the girl tells Derek, and if you ask him later, Stiles would swear on Buckminster Fuller’s life that he heard Derek sigh.
“I love him,” Derek offers, and then he hands over the money and walks back over to Stiles.
“Everything good, Stilinski?” Derek asks.
“Yeah, babe,” Stiles tells him, heart ringing in his own ears. He curls his hand around Derek’s wrist, threads their fingers together as they walk out the door, waving to the vendor as they go. She gives them a little smile, and god, Stiles just really loves his life sometimes. “Yeah,” he says again. “Everything’s really, really good.”