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Stiles always thought that confessing his feelings to Derek would change everything, it’s why he’s put it off for so long. Two days ago, it had slipped out. It wasn’t how he’d imagined it would go down, there were far fewer roses, and far more monster guts lying around. But nothing’s changed with Derek, he continues to treat Stiles the same as before, with serene amusement. It’s nice that Derek hasn’t changed his behaviour towards him, because it means Stiles doesn’t have to change anything either. Not that it doesn’t suck that Derek doesn’t return his feelings, but at least he hasn’t lost a friend.

It’s the pack that treats him differently. They’ve started teasing Stiles, analysing his every move and word, narrating what they see as his courtship of Derek. It’s a little hurtful, especially since they make it sound like he doesn’t stand a chance.

Thankfully, he has Scott and Derek in his corner. Whenever the teasing gets too much, all he has to do is throw one of them a look and they’ll put a stop to it.

Tonight is the first pack night after his confession. He’d considered not going, dawdling at the station for so long that he’s the last to arrive. After changing out of his uniform, he walks into Scott and Allison’s living room to find that the only spot left is next to Derek. He rolls his eyes. They’re really not subtle. Isaac wolf-whistles when Stiles sits down, and Stiles flips him off.

For ten minutes, Stiles thinks that’ll be the extend of it, one wolf whistle.

‘Classic,’ Isaac says, nodding at where Stiles set the bowl of popcorn between him and Derek. ‘Hands innocently brushing against each other. By “accident”, of course.’

Stiles shoves a handful of popcorn in his mouth.

‘You think he’s gonna do the yawn and stretch next?’ Hayden suggests.

‘What’s the yawn and stretch?’ Liam asks.

From the corner of his eye, Stiles sees Hayden and Allison yawn and stretch at the same time. Hayden throwing her arm over Liam’s shoulder and Allison throwing hers over Kira’s. He rolls his eyes and changes the popcorn for M&Ms, holding them up for Derek before grabbing a handful himself.

‘I think he’s just gonna seduce him with food,’ Kira thinks out loud.

Stiles clenches his jaw. The comments are already getting to him. He bites his lip so he doesn’t say anything back, he’s learned from experience that only makes things worse. Pushing himself a little further into the couch cushions, he directs all his focus to the movie. Even though he has no idea what movie this actually is.

‘I don’t think the snack food is working,’ Allison says.

‘Will you all shut up?’ Lydia grumbles. ‘I’m trying to watch a movie, not Stiles’ tragic love life crash and burn.’

‘Hey, guys. Knock it off,’ Scott says sternly.

Lydia’s annoyance and Scott’s reprimand seem to work. Everyone falls silent, and Stiles relaxes. The reprieve doesn’t last long.

‘Hey, Derek, would Stiles have more luck if he got you a pie or something?’ Isaac asks.

‘I prefer cake,’ Derek says casually.

It’s like a punch in the gut. Stiles can’t breathe. His ears are ringing. His vision blurs for a moment. He needs to get out. Somewhere he registers that the others know they’ve gone too far. It’s so quiet you can hear a flower petal drop.

‘I don’t have to take this,’ he says as he stands up.

‘Stiles.’ Derek grabs for his arm, but Stiles recoils, pulling his arm free. He all but runs out of the house, only remembering to take his jacket because his car keys are in it.

The key is in the lock when he feels a hand on his shoulder. He whirls around, fists clenched, expecting it to be Derek. It’s Scott.

‘I’m sorry. I should’ve said something sooner,’ Scott says. He’s the only one who knows how much Stiles actually likes Derek, the only one who knew before Stiles blurted it out in front of the entire pack.

Stiles just nods. He doesn’t actually blame Scott, but Scott’s the only one here, apologizing.

‘Here.’ Scott pushes the bag with Stiles’ uniform, and gun, in his hands. ‘Where are you going?’

‘I’ll let you know,’ Stiles says. He gestures at the house. The others are probably listening. If they know where he’s going, they’ll show up either tomorrow or in a few days, and Stiles really doesn’t want that right now.

‘Okay,’ Scott says and squeezes Stiles arm.

On his way home, Stiles calls his dad to ask for some time off. Things are pretty quiet at the moment, both in the supernatural and the normal world, and Stiles doesn’t have to do much persuading.

He doesn’t need much for where he’s going, and is out of his apartment and back in his car with a packed bag in ten minutes.

~

Stiles has been with Auntie Jules for almost a week. She’s not really his aunt, but an old friend of his mom’s. She often watched him when his mom got sick and in the couple months after the funeral, when his dad wasn’t coping very well. They still exchange Christmas cards and get coffee sometimes, and she didn’t even let him finish his explanation before she told him he could stay as long as he wanted. The only other people who know where he is are Scott and his dad, and they’ve both sworn not to tell anyone else.

He does miss the rest of the pack, the rest of his friends, but it’s nice not to have to constantly tell himself that the teasing and the ease with which Derek brushed away his confession away, don’t bother him. Because it hurts like hell. When he thinks about it. Which he tries to avoid at all costs.

Auntie Jules has kept him busy with little chores, like pulling weeds in the garden, oiling the hinges on the doors, moving furniture so it’s easier to vacuum. He suspects she does it on purpose, to keep him from sinking back into the melancholy mood he’d arrived in. He doesn’t mind. He’s always been a fan of the “ignoring a problem until it goes away” strategy. Part of him doesn’t want to go back, just move in with Auntie Jules and move around furniture every morning for the rest of his life, because going back means having a serious talk with Derek.

He’s just finished bringing down some boxes from the upstairs study to the car, brushing the dust from his jeans and arms, and into the flowerbeds.

‘I’m going to take these to the dump, then get some groceries. Any special wishes for dinner?’ Auntie Jules asks.

‘No, but I saw you were almost out of bread.’

‘I’ll get that tomorrow. Fresh from the bakery.’ She ruffles his hair as she passes him on her way to the car. ‘Your phone started going off like crazy while you were busy. You should probably check that,’ she says, then steps into her car and drives off.

Stiles waves goodbye, and closes the door.

Who could possibly be in that much of a rush to contact him? The pack has barely sent him anything after he didn’t answer any of their texts or calls the first day. It can only be Scott, or his dad, or maybe Melissa.

Oh fuck.

What if something happened to his dad?

Stiles races to the kitchen, where he left his phone, nearly shoving it into the sink in his clumsy hurry. There are four missed calls and a couple texts from Scott.

From Scott:
I think Liam overheard me talking to your dad about where you are

From Scott:
I’m sorry

From Scott:
I told the rest of the pack not to bother you, but Derek wouldn’t listen

From Scott:
He just left, so if you don’t want to see him, I hope you see this in time.

Stiles looks at the timestamp. The last text was sent only fifteen minutes ago. Auntie Jules’ is at least a thirty minute drive from Beacon Hills, that still gives him fifteen minutes to make himself scarce if he wants to.

But he doesn’t really want to. As much as he wants to put this off, he’s had a week to think things over, heal a little. He can handle seeing Derek. Probably.

He sends Scott a couple texts consisting of exclamation points back, then makes coffee for himself and tea for Derek. He sets out some cookies. He texts Auntie Jules they might need an extra plate for dinner. He changes into clean clothes, then changes back into the dusty ones.

He’s just decided that, no, it’s better if he’s wearing something clean, when there’s a knock on the door. Stiles’ heart jumps into his throat. He tries to calm his heart and breathing as he walks down the stairs. His palms start sweating, and he quickly wipes them off on his jeans before opening the door.

‘Hey,’ he says. Wow. That is much steadier than he expected.

‘Hey.’ The corner of Derek’s mouth tilts up into a brief, crooked smile. ‘Can I come in?’

‘Would be a waste of tea if you didn’t.’

Stiles leads the way to the living room, the weight of Derek’s presence against his back. It feels warm and comfortable, but just a little bit too heavy. His heart and breathing are already going crazy again. Stiles lets it be. There is no need to pretend. He’s upset. He’s allowed to be.

Derek sits down at the very edge of the couch. Stiles sits back, sinking into the cushions, letting it take his weight.

‘I’m sorry,’ Derek says. ‘I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I hurt you, and I’m sorry.’

‘Not entire– Are you kidding me?’ Stiles says incredulously, sitting straight up. ‘I told you that I was in love with you, and while I’m not excited about everyone else teasing me about it, it really fucking hurt when you joined them. I thought you were letting me get over it, but then you suddenly became a dick about it.’

Derek doesn’t move. He doesn’t even blink. He’s just staring at Stiles, his face three shades paler and eyes wide as saucers.

Stiles pokes Derek’s knee. ‘Dude, did you break or something?’

‘You meant it?’ Derek asks. His voice breaks on the last word.

‘That I’m in love with you? No, that was a joke, because I always joke about that,’ Stiles snarks.

‘But you do!’ Derek counters. ‘You say it to Scott all the time. And to Allison. And to Kira. And to Mason. And to… To everyone!’

‘Well, I obviously meant it with you!’

‘How was I supposed to know?!’

‘You’re a werewolf! You have wolfy hearing and smell!

‘My nose and ears were a little full of swamp goo!’

‘Everyone else seemed to know!’

‘They didn’t! They make the same jokes about you and Scott!’

‘That’s…’ Stiles snaps his mouth shut. Derek’s right. They do make the same jokes about him and whoever he last declared his love to. He’d just noticed it more when it was about him and Derek, because with Derek it was all real.

He scrambles his thoughts together. It’s not easy, with Derek sitting so close, chest is heaving, cheeks and ears red from getting worked up. He also looks a little tired, Stiles didn’t realize that until now. His beard is longer than Stiles has ever seen, his shirt is wrinkled, and his hair looks like it hasn’t seen shampoo for the better part of a week.

‘So, uhm, why exactly are you upset you didn’t know I meant it?’ he finally asks.

‘Because I would’ve said it back if I had,’ Derek says.

Stiles’ jaw drops. When he picks it up again, he swallows. Holy shit! He had not seen that coming.

‘You can still say it back,’ he offers, his heart hammering in his chest.

Derek visibly relaxes. He shoulders drop and the drawn look on his face melts away, replaced with a smile that crinkles the corners of his eyes.

‘I’m in love with you, too,’ he says.

Stiles launches himself out of his spot, at Derek, who catches him easily. They fall against the back of the couch, Stiles half on top of Derek. Derek presses their foreheads together. His eyes bore into Stiles’. Stiles can see the million different colours in them.

‘I’m in love with you, too,’ Derek repeats in a whisper.

Stiles presses his face into Derek shoulder. He’s smiling too much to kiss, right now. Derek moves him so Stiles is sitting in his lap, and he can lean back. He trails his nose along Stiles’ neck, inhaling deeply.

‘Well, I wasn’t expecting this,’ Auntie Jules says.

They jump apart. Stiles hits the coffee table with his leg, and almost knocks over their cups.

After a moment of awkward silence, in which Auntie Jules stares at Derek with her eyebrows raised and Stiles tries to find his words again, Derek jumps up.

‘Sorry. I’m Derek Hale. It’s nice to meet you.’ He holds out his hand.

‘Julia Shafer. Stiles calls me Auntie Jules. My friends call me Jules.’ She shoves the grocery bags into Derek’s arms. ‘But for now, you can call me Miss Shafer. And it’s nice to meet you, too,’ she adds, almost as an afterthought.

‘Where do you need these, Miss Shafer?’ Derek asks.

Stiles doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Derek looks terrified, like one false move is going make Auntie Jules obliterate him, and Auntie Jules looks like she would do so with glee.

While Derek puts the groceries in the kitchen, Stiles tries to convince her that everything’s okay now, that it was a misunderstanding. She only looks half-convinced, but it’s enough that she invites Derek to stay for dinner. Dinner goes as well as Stiles expected. Auntie Jules upgrades Derek to calling her Jules, but not before threatening to kill him if Stiles ever shows up on her doorstep again because of him.

After helping with cleaning up, and more coffee and tea, Stiles packs his things.

‘You sure you don’t want to stay another night?’ she asks.

Stiles shakes his head. Things between him and Derek might be cleared up, but there’s a very good chance the rest of the pack will show up here in the middle of the night. He has no idea how he’d explain that, so it’s best if he just goes back home.

‘Thanks for letting me stay here,’ he says, wrapping her in a tight hug.

‘Anytime,’ she assures him.

‘Thank you for dinner. It was lovely,’ Derek says. He holds out his hand, but Auntie Jules pulls him in, squeezing so tightly Derek’s eyes bulge.

Stiles presses a hand to his mouth to keep in his laughter.

Derek slips his hand in Stiles’ as they walk to their cars. A warmth spreads from Stiles’ hand through his entire body. He doesn’t want to let go. Ever.

‘Damnit,’ Stiles sighs, looking from his car to Derek’s. He holds on a little tighter.

‘Let’s go home. There, we’ll have plenty of time to talk and be together,’ Derek says. He lifts Stiles’ hand and presses a kiss to the knuckles.

Stiles giggles at the gesture, then pulls Derek in for a quick kiss on his lips.

‘Yeah. Let’s go home.’