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you know you're on my mind

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If there’s one thing Derek’s learned in life, it’s that crushing on someone who lives on an entire other fucking continent is probably a bad idea.

He’s got dozens of photos of Stiles saved to his phone, and a whole box of letters from Stiles, and years’ worth of emails from Stiles, and a whole wall of postcards from Stiles pinned up on the wall over his bed, and none of it is enough.

He wants to do things to Stiles, okay, things besides just watch movies together in two different time zones or talk on skype.

…which… is kind of a new feeling.

Derek didn’t even know he liked guys until three years ago, freshman year of high school, when Stiles came home from a party raving about this girl he’d kissed, Malia something-or-other, and how Malia’s hair was so soft, and how Malia had the prettiest brown eyes and the best laugh, and—and suddenly Derek wanted to throw his computer against the wall.

“I have to go,” he’d snapped, and slammed his laptop shut and thrown on some jogging clothes.

He was five miles deep into the Preserve before it really sank in, not just the jealousy but the absurdity of the jealousy. He and Stiles had never even met, technically. They were probably never going to live in the same country. There was no logical reason for them not to date other people. Especially given that Stiles might not even like guys, or like him.

Still, he was secretly, guiltily, viciously satisfied when Stiles and Malia broke up barely two weeks later.

And since then the crush has gotten, if anything, worse.

*

They weren’t always even that close. They didn’t write to each other every week, or even every few weeks, not at first.

At first it was just Derek in his second grade classroom, the teacher passing out their first letters from their new Polish pen pals, all shaky too-large handwriting on paper colorful with crayon doodles. Derek’s was from some kid named Mieczysław Stilinski. (Stiles didn’t go by Stiles yet.) Not even Derek’s teacher could pronounce it.

It was almost Thanksgiving—an American holiday but not a Polish one, apparently; Derek was aghast—and Stiles’ class was learning about American culture. Stiles had drawn a turkey, sloppily tracing his hand and adding feathers. The other kids’ pen pals had colored theirs in various shades of brown, red, and yellow; Stiles had given his green and purple stripes.

“What a weirdo,” one of the other kids had sneered, so at recess Derek pushed him off the monkey bars and gave him a bloody nose.

Derek still has the turkey card in a box in his closet. It’s where he keeps all his letters from Stiles. He’d been embarrassed about it for a long time, until one day a few years ago when Stiles admitted offhand that he had a similar box under his bed.

At this point he can’t really remember what it’s like not to be pen pals with Stiles.

He’s known Stiles through all his weird phases: that one year he was embarrassingly obsessed with Tobey Maguire, and that brief period when he took to sketching strangers’ shoes on public transit, and that month he wanted them to write to each other only in Elvish because they had both gotten hooked on Lord of the Rings at the same time. He knew Stiles back when he still pronounced “ship” like “sheep” and thought a daffodil was a species of bird. He was there when Stiles had an awkward Bieber haircut and an even awkwarder crush on this girl in his class named Lydia. He was there when Stiles’ mom died.

And Stiles was there in fourth grade for Derek’s intense obsession with wolves, when he took to memorizing wolf facts, referring to his mom as “the alpha,” and practicing his howling just in case he was ever stranded in the wilderness and adopted by a wolf pack. (He read Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves fourteen times in a row that summer, and probably would have kept on reading it if he hadn’t accidentally dropped it in his cousin’s pool.) To this day Stiles sends him snapchats of every wolf-themed thing he stumbles upon, mugs and T-shirts and ads on the tram, and whenever Derek is in a bad mood, Stiles calls him “Sourwolf.” He thinks it’s hilarious. (So do Derek’s sisters, and now they’ve started calling him that, too.)

Everyone at school thinks Derek is cool, but Stiles knows better. And Stiles likes him anyway.

These days they skype every chance they get, although that’s not as often as they’d like, thanks to the nine-hour time difference between Beacon Hills and Warsaw. Most days they text each other good morning and good night. They send each other copious amounts of postcards. They have a standing date every Friday afternoon (Derek) / Friday night (Stiles) to watch movies together on Netflix. And Derek has already planned every detail of their wedding in his head, down to the flowers (peonies, Stiles’ mom’s favorite), the color scheme (red and black), and the cake flavor (red velvet).

At this point he’s not sure which fantasies are more embarrassing, the wedding ones or the… other ones. The ones where Derek is there with Stiles, curling up with him in bed, undressing him, exploring, coaxing moans from Stiles’ mouth and kissing his moles.

Usually, whenever he sees Stiles on skype, he’s wearing at least two layers, more often three—some kind of hoodie over some kind of plaid over some kind of graphic tee. In winter he’s likely to be wearing a beanie and scarf as well. Derek hates when Stiles wears scarves, even though Stiles looks good in them, because then he can’t sneak glances at Stiles’ neck during their skype calls.

Sometimes, though, when it’s late enough at night, Derek gets to see Stiles stripped down to just his plaid pajama bottoms and a well-worn Wonder Woman tee that’s so large it nearly reaches his knees. It’s Derek’s favorite of Stiles’ shirts because it hangs so soft and loose on his lanky frame, showing off the lean cords of muscle in his arms and giving Derek a tantalizing glimpse of his collarbones and the hollow of his throat.

That’s Derek’s favorite thing to fantasize about, Stiles in nothing but the Wonder Woman t-shirt. Just thinking about it always sends a low swoop through his belly, like the drop in a roller coaster.

Still, it’s not like anything’s going to happen. Poland is almost six thousand miles away, a number so huge it boggles Derek’s mind. It’s the very definition of impossible.

Derek just has to keep reminding himself of that.

Sometimes Derek entertains himself imagining absurd scenarios. Moving into a Sims house with Stiles in place of a real one. Marrying Stiles over Skype, both of them holding up their rings in different countries, kissing the screen to seal the deal. Texting each other flower emojis every Valentine’s Day, cake emojis every anniversary. Derek, one hundred years old and in a nursing home, nearly blind but still crouched over his (now ancient) laptop and skyping a wizened, grey-haired Stiles in a bathrobe and slippers.

It’s kind of depressing.

*

Sometimes they talk in Polish, more often English.

Polish is a giant headache, written Polish even more so, but after a certain point, when Derek finally got the spelling rules down and stopped worrying so much about grammatical nuances, it started to feel easier.

Derek likes to switch over to it if he’s talking to Stiles in public, or around his family. It makes the conversation more private, and thus more infuriating to his eavesdropping sisters, but… Honestly, it’s mostly just so he can impress strangers. In his experience, most people can’t even tell what language he’s speaking. One girl in Derek’s history class spent close to a year thinking Derek was fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

(“How does that even happen,” Stiles laughed when Derek told him.)

Most of the time, though, they stick to English. Stiles’ English is, annoyingly, a lot better than Derek’s Polish. Sure, Stiles still has an accent—it’s especially noticeable when he talks fast or gets really worked up—and sometimes he mixes up a word or two, but his grammar and grasp of slang are practically native level by this point, just like his knowledge of American pop culture. Stiles illegally streams a ton of American shows and movies, way more than Derek, who would usually rather shoot hoops with Cora than watch TV.

Derek, meanwhile, speaks Polish like a child.

No, probably way worse than a child.

He didn’t start trying to learn it until he and Stiles started getting more serious about the pen pal thing around their middle school years, whereas Stiles has been learning English as a second language practically his whole life. Derek flubs a bunch of his endings, because it’s pretty much impossible not to, and flounders along with an accent so thick that Stiles inevitably spends half the conversation just mimicking his pronunciation and laughing at him.

“’S'not your fault, dude,” Stiles said once. Derek thought he was going to follow it up with something reasonable, like how Stiles has had a shit ton more opportunities to practice his English than Derek does with Polish, but instead Stiles had just grinned smarmily, reaching up to scratch his messy hair under his backwards baseball cap, and said, “I was obviously just born smarter than you.”

“Fuck you,” Derek had grinned, flipping him off. “And fuck your language and all its stupidly complicated grammar.”

“Wow, it’s like you’re not even familiar with the giant ‘fuck you’ that is the English language. Do you realize how hard it is to keep all the irregular shit straight in my head?”

Yeah. They have a lot of debates about whose language is harder or more ridiculous.

Privately, though, Derek does think Stiles is smart. Brilliant, actually. It’s just one more thing Derek is never going to tell him about how he feels.

Chapter Text

Two weekends before their winter exams, Boyd, Erica, and Isaac show up at Derek’s house to take him to a birthday brunch at the diner downtown. It’s a tradition they started a couple years back when they all first started hanging out together. Derek’s birthday isn’t technically for another three weeks, but he learned early on in life that when you’re born on Christmas Day, you can’t have a birthday party on your actual birthday. So he and his friends pick a random weekend in advance when they’ve all got some free time and do this instead. Last year it was a steak dinner. This year it’s banana pancakes.

Their server is a girl they kind of know from school, but Derek has to glance at her nametag to remember who she is. Heather. Right.

She keeps making strangely intense eye contact with Derek as she takes their order, and at one point she winks at him and trails her fingers teasingly down his arm as she talks.

“You know she’s flirting with you, right?” Isaac says as soon as she walks off.

Derek huffs. “Yes. I’m not blind.” He’s also not interested.

He successfully manages to change the subject after that, at least until Heather comes back over at the end of the meal. She leaves her number for him on a napkin.

“Don’t get your hopes up for this one,” Erica tells her, throwing an arm over Derek’s shoulders. “He’s chronically unavailable because he’s hung up on this random guy who lives on another continent.”

“No I’m not,” Derek hisses, elbowing her. “It’s not like that.” Or at least he’s trying to pretend like it’s not like that, because Erica’s right to imply it’s completely illogical.

“Oh yeah?” Erica whispers back. Heather is giving them an uncertain look. “Prove it, then.”

This is probably a bad idea, but then again, it’s got to be better than the dead end that is continuing to pine after Stiles. He touches Heather’s wrist lightly before she can walk off. “Erica’s just making stuff up. I’m free. Do you want to get dinner tonight?”

Heather beams. “Oh, okay. It’ll have to be early, though. How’s 5 sound?”

Derek nods, ignoring the way Boyd and Isaac are looking at him judgily from across the table. “5 sounds good. It’s a date.”

“This should be interesting,” Erica says when Heather’s gone.

“Shut up,” Derek groans.

*

Stiles, 3:01 p.m. a date, huh? who’s the girl?
or guy, i’m not assuming anything here

Derek, 3:02 p.m. It’s a girl. Met her at the diner today and she gave me her number.

Stiles, 3:04 p.m. lucky you.

Derek, 3:04 p.m. You don’t sound too happy for me.

Stiles, 3:05 p.m. just tired i guess. listen, i gotta go. talk later?

Derek hesitates. The hard thing about text conversations is that sometimes it’s so hard to get a read on Stiles. Like right now. He gets this hunch that something’s wrong—it’s midnight over there; where could Stiles possibly have to go?—but unless Stiles tells him what it is, Derek will never know.

For the millionth time, he wishes he didn’t live so far away.

In the end he sends back a simple, Sure. and closes out of the app.

*

The date goes terribly.

Heather is totally, blandly nice, and Derek can’t stand it. Maybe because he isn’t saying much, she just keeps talking on and on about all her after-school volunteer work and her favorite things to get at the farmer’s market and her opinions on yoga and kale. He’s sooo bored, and even though he knows it’s rude, he can’t resist checking his phone every few minutes under the table for messages from Stiles, even though Stiles hasn’t texted him at all. 

About twenty minutes into the date, she catches him doing it and pauses mid-sentence with a little frown, but she’s even too nice to say anything about it. He smiles politely and puts the phone away, gritting his teeth.

Stiles would probably teasingly call him an asshole and kick him under the table, or try to steal his phone to see who he was texting, or distract him by throwing straw wrappers at him or something, but then again, Derek wouldn’t even be on his phone if it were Stiles here and not Heather, because a date with Stiles would never be even a little bit boring, and—

And Erica was probably right. He’s doomed to be single forever, because Stiles is never going to happen and Derek is never going to get over it.

Chapter Text

As soon as Derek gets in his car after the date, he dials Erica.

“Ooh,” she says when she picks up. “Are you bailing out early? Was there drama? Did she throw hot coffee on you and storm out while everyone gave you dirty looks?”

Derek sighs and closes his eyes. “Nothing that bad, but…” He can’t quite keep the defeated tone out of his voice. “You were right, I’m ridiculously hung up on some guy on another continent. Congratulations.”

On the other end of the line, Erica is uncharacteristically quiet. Derek checks twice that the call hasn’t somehow disconnected before her voice finally comes through. “I have an idea. We’ll make a deal. By this time next year, you’ll tell Stiles how you feel and I’ll tell Boyd.”

“Vetoed. Telling Stiles will just mess everything up.”

"Not vetoed, on the grounds that that’s exactly what I keep saying about me and Boyd!” Erica says, sounding exasperated. “I still maintain it’ll ruin our friendship and make everything awkward, and you keep insisting it won’t because he definitely likes me back, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll be cool about it.”

“That’s different,” Derek insists. “If he doesn’t like it—not that that’s even a possibility, but for argument’s sake—then you can show up at his house and make him talk it out. If Stiles doesn’t like it, he can just delete my number and ignore anything I mail him, and that’s the end of that. I can’t exactly go knock on his front door.”

Erica sighs. “I mean, I get that. I do. But… it’s Stiles. If there’s anyone who you should feel like you can talk to, it’s your best friend since birth.”

“Second grade,” Derek corrects absently.

“Same thing.”

“Erica, I just can’t.”

Erica growls. “I would strangle you right now if this were an in-person conversation, I just hope you know. He obviously likes you.” Yeah, right. “I don’t know what you’re even afraid of! Just… Look, do we have a deal?“

Derek thinks for a minute. "What happens if I agree to this and then chicken out and don’t tell him after all?”

“Then… I dunno, you still won’t know how the guy of your dreams feels about you, even after literal years of dying to know, and that’s just ridiculous, so I’ll have to dare you to do something really drastic. Loudly and publicly ask Jackson Whittemore to go to senior prom with you, maybe. Bonus points if you make it really embarrassing, like flowers-and-a-boom-box levels of trying too hard.”

Derek makes a face. “Why Jackson, though?”

“Because he’s just enough of a douche to loudly and publicly reject you, but not enough of a douche to do anything homophobic like punch you. It’d be kinda embarrassing but not dangerous.”

"Okay,” Derek decides. At this point it doesn’t sound nearly as intimidating as saying a simple “I like you” to Stiles. It’s not like he cares if Jackson says no or a bunch of people he doesn’t know laugh at him for it, but Stiles… If Stiles turns him down, he’s probably going to spend the rest of his life wincing at the memory. Also eating his weight in ice cream and listening to “Somebody That I Used to Know” on repeat.

Derek frowns. “Wait… What’s your punishment in this scenario? I mean, if you don’t tell Boyd.”

Erica laughs. “There is no ‘if.’ I said I’ll do it, so I’ll do it.”

Derek believes her.

*

“How was the date?” Laura asks when Derek comes trudging through the front door. He can tell from her tone she’s making fun of him a little, but he’s not in the mood to snark back, so he just slumps down next to her on the couch. She and Cora are watching Frozen, a massive bowl of popcorn set out on the coffee table between them.

Cora leans around Laura to look at him. “Seriously. You’re back awfully early. How was it?”

“Lackluster,” Derek says shortly, and his sisters give up. He slouches down a little more into the couch and pulls out his phone, bringing up his chat window with Stiles.

Derek, 5:48 p.m. You awake?

It’s a bit of a long shot, since Stiles said earlier that he was tired and in Poland it’s already almost 3 a.m. the next day. Then again, Stiles is a night owl and it’s the weekend, so.

It only takes a minute before Stiles responds.

Stiles, 5:49 p.m. unfortunately i am

Derek, 5:49 p.m. Bad night?

Stiles, 5:50 p.m. i guess. just been spending too much time thinking about things i really want that probably aren’t going to happen.

Derek can definitely relate to that feeling. Before he can ask what kind of stuff Stiles means, though, Stiles is already sending him more texts.

Stiles, 5:50 p.m. my dad is out on a shift and I’m drinking his beer
i’m kind of… what’s that word in english

Derek, 5:51 p.m. Drunk?

Stiles, 5:51 p.m. less drunk than drunk

Derek, 5:51 p.m. Tipsy?

Stiles, 5:51 p.m. yep
that’s the one
hey should you be texting me while you’re on a date??

Derek, 5:53 p.m. Not on it anymore
She liked kale

Stiles, 5:54 p.m. yikes
that’s definitely a deal-breaker

Derek smiles at that, feeling marginally better.

Derek, 5:54 p.m. Now I’m back home, hanging out with my sisters. They’re watching Frozen. Again.

Stiles, 5:55 p.m. yikes (again)

Derek laughs, and Laura pokes him in the arm without looking away from the TV.

Stiles, 5:56 p.m. if i were there right now i would totally be bored out of my mind and trying to get you to pay attention to me

Derek, 5:57 p.m. And I would be telling you how annoying you are

Stiles, 5:57 p.m. (even though you secretly love it)

Lies, Derek sends back, just to rile Stiles up and not because it’s actually true.

There’s a bit of a pause. Derek starts half-heartedly watching the movie, but he can’t keep his mind on it, waiting to see if Stiles is going to say anything else.

It takes a while, but finally his phone buzzes.

Stiles, 6:09 p.m. do you ever get this feeling like you want to do something and you think it’d probably be totally amazing, but at the same time… the thought of it going wrong scares you shitless?

Yeah, Derek sends back, thinking about what he’s promised Erica. What’s the thing? Hang gliding?

Stiles, 6:09 p.m. haha, no
i’ll tell you, just…
not yet.

Derek, 6:11 p.m. What, you’re going to keep it a secret from me?

Usually Stiles tells him everything. Or Derek thought he did, anyway.

yeah, like you don’t keep anything secret from me, Stiles replies almost right away, and Derek can almost feel the eyebrow-raise through the screen.

Derek, 6:12 p.m. Okay, fair

Still a little aggravating, though. Derek can already tell it’s going to nag at him, wondering what it is.

Stiles, 6:13 p.m. ya know, it’s normal

Derek, 6:13 p.m. What is?

Stiles, 6:14 p.m. this. secrets.
it doesn’t mean we’re not close
and i mean it, i’ll tell you sooner or later

Derek feels a little better, reading that. He sends back, Yeah, I know. :)

There’s another pause, and then he gets:

Stiles, 6:20 p.m. alright, it’s 3 in the morning. i’m going to bed, dude.

Derek, 6:20 p.m. Good night then. Have pleasant dreams :)

Only, he looks at it again after he’s sent it, and what it actually says is: Good night then. Have pleasant dreams ;)

Derek stares at the little winky face with a dawning sense of embarrassment. Why do phone manufacturers have to put the semicolon right next to the colon on the keyboard, anyway? It’s a recipe for disaster.

Before he can even begin to say anything, though, a new text from Stiles pops up.

Stiles, 6:20 p.m. lol, anything in particular you want me to think about while i’m going to sleep? ;)

Derek just stares at it until his screen goes dark, heart pounding. He can’t believe that just happened. He shoves his phone back in his pocket and glances around guiltily, but his sisters are still staring straight ahead, watching the movie. On the TV, some guy is swinging a sword at Elsa, but Derek’s lost the plot. He’s barely watching it. He shifts on the couch, angling away from his sisters even though as far as he can tell they’re totally absorbed in the movie, and pulls out his phone again. The text is still there. He didn’t dream it.

Derek shouldn’t do it, he shouldn’t, but he does anyway.

Derek, 6:22 p.m. You could think about me

Stiles types for what feels like a long time, the little “…” going away and then appearing again several times, and Derek really starts to wish he could un-send that text. And scrub the memory of it from Stiles’ brain for good measure, and—

Stiles, 6:29 p.m. oh yeah? will do that then. about to have a VERY good night ;)

Derek definitely isn’t paying any attention to the movie after that. He must make some kind of noise, because Cora shoots him a knowing, grossed-out look.

“I’m—going to bed,” he gets out, standing up abruptly. Laura wolf-whistles at him as he scrambles up the stairs. He slams his door shut on her laughter.

*

The next morning, he wakes up to a string of silly texts from Stiles about cheese. No mention of what was said last night or what it might mean—although, honestly, Derek can’t think of any non-homoerotic way to interpret it.

Except maybe that Stiles was tipsy, and joking around. Yeah. That’s a distinct possibility.

By the time Derek’s thought of a few possible ways to ask about it without sounding too desperate or gross, the window for bringing it up without it seeming out of place has passed.

Derek screenshots it, though, just because.

Chapter Text

On Christmas morning, Derek wakes up earlier than anyone else in his family, grabs some coffee from the kitchen, and gets on skype with Stiles so they can open their presents from each other together. It’s one of their longest-held traditions. Stiles is technically Jewish, but for all practical purposes he’s not really religious, much like Derek, and they both love Christmas. Even in the years when they’ve done little Hanukkah gifts as well, Christmas morning (well, morning for Derek, afternoon for Stiles) has always been their thing.

This year, Stiles has sent him a cylindrical something wrapped in shiny red paper. It’s so thoroughly taped shut that Derek ends up basically ripping it open. When he does, a bunch of glitter and confetti explodes out all over him. He’s pretty sure he’s going to have glitter in his hair for weeks after this.

On his laptop, Stiles is cracking up. Typical.

“I swear there’s an actual present in there, though,” Stiles says when he calms down, and there is: a bag of Polish candies in weird flavor combinations (peanut butter and jelly and chocolate, peanut butter and coconut…), a packet of glow-in-the-dark stars, and a handful of temporary tattoos that spell out rude words in Polish. Also typical.

“Try some of the candy,” Stiles urges. “I wanna see your face.”

Derek dubiously picks out one of the milk chocolate PB&J bars. It’s not bad, kind of like eating cookie dough with a dab of grape jelly on top. The color is gross, though. He’s pretty sure anything that’s supposed to be a peanut butter filling is not supposed to be this shade of wan white.

“Do people actually eat this stuff?” Derek asks. He’s probably going to give the rest to Cora.

“I do. All the time.”

“I didn’t mean you. I know you eat it. You eat everything.”

Stiles sticks out his tongue at him, and Derek feels so warm and fond, overwhelmed with this surge of Just tell him how you feel, right now. Tell him

Of course, then Stiles has to go and ruin the moment by lifting a candy cane to his mouth and sucking on it obscenely while waggling his eyebrows at Derek.

Derek nearly breathes coffee up his nose, spluttering and turning bright red, and the rest of their skype call is pretty much just Stiles laughing at him. It’s still one of the best Christmas mornings Derek has ever had.

*

Stiles thinks Derek’s reaction to the candy cane thing was hilarious, because of course he does, and then he won’t let it go.

Every time Derek sends him a selfie, Stiles replies with the same She’s the Man gif captioned, “I’d tap that,” and then a winky face.

Derek can’t mention anything about eating or else Stiles will say something terrible and cheesy like, i know something you could eat ;) and Derek will spend the rest of the day forcing himself not to think about that mental image.

Derek can’t mention taking a shower, either, or being cold, or going to bed, without Stiles pouncing on the opportunity.

It’s truly astonishing—but at the same time, not astonishing at all—just how many things Stiles can turn into an innuendo.

It’s not uncommon for Derek to have never even heard of the things Stiles references; he’s starting to suspect a lot of his fantasies are what Stiles would call “vanilla.” Derek gets intimately acquainted with Urban Dictionary. It’s the most thorough sex ed he’s ever had in his life, that’s for sure.

The jealous part of him wonders how Stiles knows so much about sex, but then he reminds himself that this is Stiles, after all. His curiosity probably leads him to all sorts of weird places on Wikipedia. And that’s probably all it is. It’s not like Stiles is going out and hooking up with people left and right. Derek knows Stiles hasn’t been with anyone except Malia; he would have told Derek, because Stiles is constitutionally incapable of keeping things like that to himself for more than five seconds.

Well, except for the “secret” he mentioned the night of Derek’s terrible date with Heather, of course. He still hasn’t told Derek about that. Derek doubts it has anything to do with a girl, though, because why would that be something Stiles wouldn’t want to tell him?

And would Stiles really be sending him this stuff if he suddenly had a secret girlfriend? There’s no denying what it is Stiles is doing—blatantly flirting with him.

Sometimes, rarely and tentatively, Derek flirts back. Stiles always reacts with delighted pride.

Getting a flirty text back from Stiles sends a thrill through him every time. Even that stupid “I’d tap that” gif is enough to get his heart racing. But it’s confusing, too. It’s just a long series of jokes to Stiles, every winky face stamped with an implied no homo. Stiles isn’t trying to, to woo him or whatever.

Unless he is.

Derek can’t tell.

They don’t really talk about it.

*

It’s almost the end of February, roughly two months since the flirting started, before Derek finally breaks down and asks Erica’s opinion about it.

Of course, she immediately negotiates to see the texts herself—the words “It’s private!” don’t mean much to her, and she’s scary good at getting her way. In the end, Derek lets her scroll for a good five minutes before taking his phone away from her. It’s not too hard, given how obnoxiously she’s laughing.

“So?” he prompts.

She rolls her eyes. “You’re an idiot if you still think Stiles is straight.”

After that, Derek lets himself hope. Just a little bit.

*

In March Stiles gets strep throat and ends up housebound for a couple of days. Derek is very aware of how Stiles is doing practically every hour of those two days, because when Stiles starts getting bored, he starts texting Derek. A lot. It’s simultaneously annoying and endearing.

The texts start tapering off by the afternoon of the second day, which Derek figures means he’s either napping or recovered enough to go outside.

Because it’s a Wednesday, Derek has lacrosse practice after school, and then he has to drive across town through rush hour traffic to pick up Cora from ballet. It’s already almost seven by the time he gets home, which means it’s almost four a.m. in Warsaw, which means Stiles is almost definitely already asleep. By the time Stiles wakes up in the morning, Derek will be asleep for the night. They’re probably not going to get to talk until Friday or Saturday. (Time zones suck.)

So he’s surprised when he drops his backpack on his bed and his phone almost immediately buzzes with a new text from Stiles. chat?

k, Derek texts back immediately.

“What are you still doing up?“ he asks as soon as he’s logged into skype. “Isn’t being sick supposed to make you sleepy?”

Stiles shrugs. He’s lounging around in bed, the only light coming from his laptop screen. All Derek can make out of him besides his face is his worn Wonder Woman t-shirt. Not much of it is showing — Stiles is wrapped up in his comforter to the shoulders — but Derek recognizes it by the neckline, which is so stretched out it shows Stiles’ collarbones, sharp even in the low light.

”…was napping on and off most of today,“ Stiles is saying, his voice a little raspy, and Derek guiltily snaps his eyes away from Stiles’ neck to his face. "I think the worst of it’s over, but no way am I tired now. Thought I might as well take advantage of us being awake at the same time.”

Derek smiles. “Did you do anything today besides sleep and text me constant updates about how bored you were?”

“Coughed a lot. Drank a lot of apple juice.”

“Very productive.”

"Shut up. Oh, and I skimmed a couple of the original Peter Pan books. It’s part of my New Year’s resolution to read more stuff in English. But man, this series is fucked up. Did you know Peter is probably based on the author’s brother who died as a child? And he’s originally not from Neverland; he’s this homeless dead kid who haunts the park. At least I’m pretty sure I’m reading that right. You would not believe…”

Derek grins so hard his face hurts as Stiles rambles about how Peter Pan is actually a creepy, murderous, child-stealing ghost.

Finally Stiles yawns so wide his jaw cracks. “Man, maybe I’m more tired than I thought. I’d better go before I nod off mid-word and drool all over my keyboard again.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” Derek smiles. “I should probably go, too. My mom’ll be calling me down to dinner any minute.”

“Bon appetite, then.” Stiles blinks sleepily. Derek gets a ridiculous urge to touch Stiles’ face on the screen. Stiles would mock him about it forever if he did. “G'night.”

“Dobranoc,” Derek says. Good night.

Stiles snorts. “Man, your accent. I will never be over it. Anyway. Dobranoc.”

Derek almost just blurts it out then, how he feels. It’s the closest he’s come since Christmas to saying anything about it. It just feels like the right moment, just the two of them in the dark, happy, in this surreal limbo time when they normally wouldn’t be online at the same time.

Before he can, though, Stiles logs off.

Derek tosses his phone away and flops back on his bed, eyes closed, and lets himself imagine Stiles right now, cuddled into his fluffy blue comforter in nothing but his Wonder Woman t-shirt, but with Derek there behind him, feeling his warmth, curling an arm around Stiles’ ribs. Derek’s spooning him, pressing a slow kiss to the back of Stiles’ neck, sliding his hand down—

And then his mom is yelling, “Derek! Cora! Dinner!” up the stairs, and Derek’s back in his room, alone, blinking up at the ceiling.

It’s just as well, probably. Derek can’t even imagine what Stiles would say if he knew what kind of embarrassing fantasies Derek’s had about him. And even if Stiles did like him back, by some miracle, it doesn’t change the fact that Stiles lives on what feels like the other side of the world.

“Derek!” his mom yells again.

“Coming!” Derek yells back.

He sighs, pockets his phone, and heads down to dinner.

*

In April, Derek and Erica wander around the mall for close to an hour, picking out Stiles’ birthday present. Derek ends up choosing the first two seasons of Elementary on DVD, because Stiles watches unholy amounts of American TV (“It’s language education, Derek!”), and a lurid orange-and-blue New York Mets cap.

As a Dodgers fan, Derek is frankly embarrassed to be seen buying it, but he knows Stiles will like it. Stiles has recently latched onto baseball as the epitome of American culture and the Mets as the epitome of baseball, despite the hundreds of times Derek has tried to convince him they suck.

Derek wonders sometimes about his taste in guys.

*

Derek tends to rotate through favorite daydreams about Stiles. By the time May rolls around, he’s worn out the Wonder Woman t-shirt one, for a while anyway, and he’s moved on to this one where the doorbell rings one day and, when he answers it, Stiles is standing there on the porch in his Mets cap, a duffle slung over one shoulder, smiling at him. Because this is Derek’s daydream, the first thing Stiles does is yell, “Surprise! I bought a plane ticket,” drop his bag, and kiss him. Derek thinks about that a lot, in detail.

Maybe that explains what happens the day he’s baking a cake for Cora’s birthday.

He’s in the middle of mixing up the batter when his phone lights up with an incoming skype call from Stiles. Derek glances at his hands, which are absolutely covered in flour from a rip in the bag, and hits “Accept” with his elbow.

Stiles is in his room, holding up the portrait of his dad he’s been painting for an art class project.

“Hey, do you think my dad’s head looks like an eggplant or does it look okay?”

“It looks a little weird, I guess,” Derek decides. The figure is definitely recognizable as Stiles’ dad, looking off thoughtfully into the distance, but now that Stiles has pointed it out, the head is kind of an upside-down eggplant shape, the forehead noticeably larger than the jaw, and his skin has a weird indigo tint. It almost looks like he’s standing under a blacklight. “Is he supposed to be an alien?”

Stiles laughs. “No, you dick.”

“Well…” Derek bites back a grin. “You can just tell everyone it’s artistic license.”

Stiles shoots him finger guns, looking pleased. “Ah, the phrase that covers all sins.” He squints at the screen. “Are you baking something?”

“Cake for Cora’s birthday,” Derek says, tilting the bowl so Stiles can see the batter.

“Ooh, what flavor?”

“Carrot cake with cardamom,” Derek says. “Found the recipe in a cookbook from the library. I’m making it a couple days in advance in case anything goes wrong.”

“Does anything you cook ever go wrong, though?” Stiles asks. “You’re, like, the master chef.”

Derek can feel himself blushing a little. “You never know for sure with a new recipe. And anyway, how would you know? You’ve never even tasted my food.”

“Yeah, but I’ve seen the photos,” Stiles says. He sighs wistfully. “God, I wish you could send cake through a computer. I’m so hungry right now. I haven’t had dinner yet.”

“You should eat, then,” Derek says, stirring just a little more to make sure there are no baking soda lumps.

“Eh, maybe after I finish this.”

There’s a long silence while Derek pours the batter into a pan and sticks it in the oven, then goes to the sink to wash his hands. When he comes back to his phone, Stiles is zoned out, hunched over his painting again, tongue sticking out slightly as he concentrates.

Watching him, Derek is hit with one of those achy waves of just missing him. It’s ridiculous because they’ve never even actually met in the first place, but, well, that’s what it is.

After another minute or so, Stiles sits back and glances over at him. “Ugh, I give up. I can’t do this on an empty stomach, not knowing there’s one of your cakes being born into the world. I’m having some intense cravings, dude.”

“I wish you could just walk into the kitchen right now and be here,” Derek blurts, far too earnest and open and—shit. It’s not like they’ve never said something like this before, but only when they’re joking around. This, though, this is feelings. This is—Derek feels like Stiles can hear everything in his tone.

Stiles goes very still. “Seriously?” His voice is softer than before. “You’d want that?”

“I always want that,” Derek admits, equally quiet.

Stiles’ eyes go wide, and that’s about when the oh shit I really just said that panic hits and Derek turns off his phone.

Chapter Text

Maybe it’s cowardly, but Derek keeps his phone turned off all afternoon.

Unfortunately, he’s got nothing to do but mull over what he said, and what Stiles didn’t say, all day. School’s out for summer and, unlike his friends, he hasn’t lined up any kind of summer job yet, despite his parents’ near-daily reminders.

Normally on a quiet summer day like this, left to his own devices at the house, he’d probably be texting Stiles on and off into late afternoon, maybe even watching a movie with him. Last year Derek’s family actually signed a petition to get him to put his phone on silent whenever he was in the house—that’s how much he and Stiles usually text.

Every time he so much as glances at his phone right now, though, all he can see is Stiles frowning, waiting to have an awkward conversation with him about how it’d be healthy for both of them to take a step back and get some emotional distance, or something. Or maybe Stiles would just spend the whole conversation calling him “bro” every other sentence and being careful not to flirt at all until Derek got the message.

It’s not even like Derek said, “I have a crush on you,” but he admitted to something, anyway. He basically admitted Stiles meant something to him, which is embarrassing enough. It’s just not how they talk. It’s not what they do.

Ignoring him like this is probably just making it worse, since he’s practically admitting it’s a big deal, but oh well. He just needs some “ignoring the problem” time.

As soon as Cora’s cake comes out of the oven, he plugs his phone into the charger, hauls his bike out of the garage, and heads off deep into the Preserve. He can spend all day out here, sometimes, just meandering around, listening to the birds and the wind and putting everything else behind him. Today is the perfect weather for it, sunny but not too hot yet.

It’s a good three hours later, almost too dark out to see, when he finally circles back and heads for home.

Dinner that night is just him, Cora, and Laura because their parents are off at a human rights conference in San Diego until late tomorrow morning. Derek’s absurdly grateful. This means he can just grab a plate from the fridge and go hole up in his room, maybe do some mind-numbing SAT prep, instead of having to sit through a whole family dinner downstairs. He’s just really not in the mood.

He waits until almost nine p.m., which is six a.m. in Warsaw, to turn on his phone again. That way Stiles will probably be asleep.

Or not.

As soon as his screen lights up, a deluge of new texts and emails and missed calls comes rolling in. He has a hundred and seven new texts alone, all of them from Stiles.

The thread starts out like:

Stiles, 1:34 p.m. hey stop ignoring me or i’m just gonna keep texting you

Stiles, 2:05 p.m. don’t test me on this. you’re not allowed to angst. i’m outlawing all angsting

Stiles, 2:44 p.m. ok here goes….. i warned you…..
derrrrrrrek
hello earth to derek

It keeps going from there for a long, long time, because Stiles is the most stubborn person Derek has ever met. Derek scrolls past the rest as fast as his thumb can take him until he gets to the most recent volley, sent just eighteen minutes ago:

Stiles, 8:39 p.m. derek i’m not going to sleep until you talk to me. so you'd better get your butt in your computer chair and log on to skype or else i'm going to die of no sleep
and then i’ll fail my test tomorrow because i'll be a GHOST
i mean it

Yeah. Stiles doesn’t really do awkward silences.

*

“Finally!” Stiles bursts the instant the call connects. He's pacing in his room, and it looks like he’s been tugging on his hair—it's sticking up all over. It’s hard to see much, though, because it’s kind of dark in Stiles’ room, the footage all grainy and blue.

“Uh, hi,” Derek tries. Testing the waters.

“You can’t just drop a bomb like that and then ignore me for eight straight hours!”

Derek sinks down in his seat a little. “I’m sorry,” he tries. “It just… slipped out. Obviously you can ignore that I said it if it makes you, you know, um, uncomfortable.”

Stiles stops abruptly to lean his elbows on his desk, putting him face-to-face with the webcam. “Uncomfortable. You think it makes me uncomfortable.”

Derek shrugs. It seems like the safest reply, at this point, when he still doesn’t know what Stiles is thinking.

Stiles heaves a sigh and mimes strangling him. Stiles does that a lot, when he thinks Derek is being especially dense. It’s not something he does when he’s legitimately pissed off, though, and Derek can feel himself starting to relax a little.

“Okay,” Stiles says, “there’s something I gotta show you. I was going to wait and surprise you, but maybe this is better. It was probably gonna take me like five years at this rate, anyway.”

“What was?”

Stiles doesn’t reply. He’s got his back to the camera now, digging around in his closet, tossing out all kinds of random junk all over his floor—a yo-yo, a magnifying glass, a lone roller skate... Finally he straightens up and turns around with a victorious little “Aha!”, cradling what looks like a cookie jar to his chest. Derek is lost.

Stiles plops it down on the desk and opens it, tilting it towards the camera. It’s about halfway full of crumpled pieces of colorful paper. In the shadows of the jar, it takes Derek a long few seconds to realize it’s money.

“It’s about one thousand five hundred złoty, last time I counted,” Stiles says, patting the side of the jar proudly. “Every time I add to my university savings, I put a little bit of it here.” He ducks his head, typing something on his computer. “Okay, Google says that’s about four hundred American dollars. That sounds less impressive.”

Derek’s chest feels weirdly tight. “And that’s for…” He almost doesn’t want to say it, in case he’s somehow wrong.

“A plane ticket to California,” Stiles nods. “Or from California to Poland, if that's what you want, because... I mean, duh, obviously I want to see you IRL. I dunno why you think that would freak me out.”

“Oh,” is about all Derek can say. For a moment he gets a flashback to his fantasy about Stiles showing up at his front door and quickly shoves that thought aside. Now is really not the time.

“Anyway,” Stiles goes on, thankfully oblivious, “the bad news is, the cheapest ticket I’ve found so far is about four thousand three hundred złoty, which is…” Stiles squints off into the distance. “Probably over a thousand dollars? So yep, it could be a while.”

“Oh,” Derek says again, more sadly this time.

“Yeah,” Stiles sighs.

“Well, what if…” Derek wracks his brain. He has some savings from birthday and Christmas money and things like mowing lawns the last few summers, but his parents have been having him put most of that away for college to supplement the trust fund from his grandparents… He twists around and digs through his backpack on the floor and comes up with his wallet, shaking it out over his desk.

“That’s not buying any plane tickets any time soon,” Stiles snorts when all ten dollars and fifty-one cents is piled on Derek’s keyboard.

“Yeah,” Derek says, sweeping it hastily back into his wallet. It’s probably not even enough to buy a sandwich at the airport.

Stiles hugs his cookie jar like a pillow. “At least now you know the intent to meet you is there, even if the funds are… not...” His last word gets interrupted by a huge, jaw-cracking yawn, which of course makes Derek yawn, too. “Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, I’m going to sleep. I’ve been up way too long.” He yawns again, hiding it behind his hoodie sleeve, then fixes Derek with A Look. “You know, today it was like you were just… gone. Just like that. Don’t shut me out like that again, promise?”

“I won’t,” Derek says softly, a second before Stiles reaches up and closes his laptop.

Chapter Text

In retrospect, Derek is an idiot.

“Derek and Stiles want to see each other in person,” Cora says out of nowhere during dinner one night, late June. “But they don’t have the money. I heard them talking.”

Mom puts her fork down. Dad goes on struggling to eat his overstuffed taco, a landslide of ground beef and lettuce tumbling into his lap. Laura's head snaps up so fast Derek's amazed she doesn't injure something. At the far end of the table, Grandma Hale perks up for the first time all evening.

Derek forces himself to take another bite of refried beans, to chew. "That was a private conversation."

"Shouldn't have had your door open, then," Cora retorts. "That's practically an invitation."

"No it's—"

"So what did Stiles say?" Laura cuts in, leaning forward eagerly on the edge of her chair. "Are you going to fly across the ocean like Prince Charming to visit him in Poland? That's so romantic, I'm going to throw up a little. Or, ooh, is this going to confirm my long-running theory that this is all an elaborate catfish?"

"A what?" Cora says.

"For the last time, Laura, he's not some creepy pervert in a basement pretending to be a teenage boy," Derek says. "And I’m not going to Poland."

"Well, why not? What kind of young man doesn't want to visit his boyfriend?" Grandma Hale pipes up, and the table goes quiet.

"Grandma, I'm not. I mean. He's not—" Derek splutters after a pause even he can tell was too long.

"Derek, we all know you like boys," Grandma says. She takes a dainty sip of her ginger ale, eyeing him over her glass. "You don't need to pretend to be one of those heterosexuals."

"Um," Cora says.

"Can we not talk about this?" Derek groans.

"Oh man, this is going to be better than reality TV," Laura says, gleeful.

Mom shoots her a warning glare, then turns expectant eyebrows on Derek. "You two aren't having a fight, are you? Did you break up?"

They're really not going to let this go. Ugh. "We're just friends," Derek says, more emphatically than he feels. Grandma Hale looks distinctly disappointed. "And yes, he does want to meet me, here or in Poland. We just can't afford a ticket."

Dad pauses in wiping up the mess in his lap. "Why didn't you ask us, Derek?"

"Uh, because it's over a thousand dollars? That's kind of a big deal. Not to mention, if I ended up visiting him, it would mean traveling alone internationally, and I’ve never even been outside California before."

“You should have said something sooner, Derek,” Derek’s mom says, putting her knife and fork down. “Your dad and I thought you’d ask about this years ago. We both think it’s a great idea, especially now that your Polish is getting to be so good.”

“Oh.”

Derek’s mom looks amused. “I think you’re old enough now to travel on your own, and Stiles is such a nice young man.” Figures she would say that. Stiles has always been annoyingly good at acting respectable around Derek’s parents when one of them has happened to walk in on a skype session in the past. “So we already decided we’d help you get your passport and pay for a ticket, assuming Stiles’ dad is okay with you staying over.”

“I… I’ll have to ask,” Derek says, faint.

Derek’s mom reaches over and ruffles his hair, fond. “Okay. Let me know if he says it’s okay. I’ll leave my credit card on your desk upstairs.”

And just like that, Derek has a way to see Stiles.

*

Derek lasts a whole ten minutes before he breaks down and sneaks his phone out of his pocket to text Stiles under the table.

How is my Polish? Honestly?

it’s shitty, but i can usually understand it, Stiles texts back less than a minute later. why?

I'm at dinner w/ my family and my mom just said she's going to buy me a plane ticket to Warsaw.
I mean, if you think that’s a good idea, me visiting you instead of the other way around

There’s a pause of about half a minute, and then his phone starts buzzing with a rush of new texts.

Stiles, 7:09 p.m. dude!!!
DEREK
this better not be a joke
if this is a joke i am going to KILL YOU DEAD

Derek doesn’t have the chance to reply before Cora spots what he’s doing and rats him out with a delighted, “No phones at the dinner table, that’s the rule!” Probably revenge for when Derek laughed at her a few minutes ago for asking their mom if she could have a plane ticket to Europe, too.

Derek sticks his tongue out at her and makes a show of putting his phone away and picking up his burrito again.

Still, he can’t stop grinning all through the rest of dinner and dessert, feeling his phone buzzing and buzzing in his pocket.

*

Derek’s grandma is probably the slowest eater in the history of ever, and Derek isn’t allowed to go upstairs until they’re all done eating and have said goodbye to her at the door, but finally, finally, she’s making her slow way down the driveway to her car, escorted at the elbow by Derek’s dad, and Derek is free to race up the stairs to his room, scrambling to pull his phone out.

17 missed calls, Stiles Stilinski

Stiles, 7:21 p.m. ANSWER YOUR DAMN OHONE
*phone

stiles, 7:25 p.m. hello
derek
?????????

Stiles, 7:30 p.m. i don't even get why you would ask me if this is a good idea
it is not a good idea. IT IS A GREAT IDEA, A BRILLIANT IDEA, A YOU-ARE- A-GENIUS IDEA
why are you even asking me
JUST BUY THE DAMN TICKET
RIGHT NOW
I WANT TO SEE UR DUMB FACE

Stiles, 7:35 p.m. why don't you ever check your phone at the dinner table like a normal teenager, this is so aggravating

Stiles, 7:39 p.m. why are you doing this to me
are you deliberately trying to drive me insane

Stiles, 7:43 p.m. i'm going to feed you so much pierogi

Stiles, 7:50 p.m. fuck, where are you going to sleep
i think i need to buy you a sleeping bag
ahhh you are going to be sleeping on my floor! this is so exciting!!!

Stiles, 8:01 p.m. i just ordered a sleeping bag for you off the internet
so you better be serious or else i’m making you pay for this

Stiles, 8:05 p.m. can you please just CALL ME i'm going to do something drastic if i don't get to talk to you right now

Derek bites his lip against a laugh and calls him.

*

After Stiles finishes yelling excitedly for about five minutes, Derek manages to get out, “You still have to ask your dad if it’s okay.”

Stiles doesn’t sound even remotely worried. “Oh, he'll say it is. He thinks you’re such a good influence on me.” He snorts, as if of the two of them, Derek is the one who’s a bad influence. Yeah, right. “Anyway, even if he doesn’t say yes, I have certain ways of negotiating with him.”

“You make that sound so ominous.”

“It is,” Stiles says, mock-serious. “I can make sure he doesn’t see another doughnut for all the rest of his living days. It’ll be his personal nightmare.”

“Oh, the horror.”

“Yeah, exactly. And if that fails, I’ll smuggle you into our apartment if I have to. I’ll hide you under my bed and tell him he can’t come in because I’m doing a science experiment in there. I’ll sneak you in and out through the window.”

Derek has no doubt Stiles means it. 

“Holy shit, I’m really going to meet you,” Stiles says, quieter than before. “Holy shit.”

“Yeah,” Derek echoes, closing his eyes. Like this, with Stiles’ voice soft in his ear, it’s almost like they’re already together. 

Chapter Text

Derek’s flight is set for the last week of June, the day after Stiles’ school lets out for the summer.

Every night, Derek crosses off another day on his Scenic Poland wall calendar and sends a snapchat of it to Stiles, who replies with increasingly long strings of exclamation marks.

Every day, he squeezes in a bit of Polish practice, usually by texting Stiles every chance he gets.

"Jesus Christ," Erica complains when they’re hanging out around her house one day and Derek's phone buzzes for the fifth time with a new text. "How do you have that much to say to him? You've been talking to him for, like, ten years already."

"He’s telling me how much my Polish sucks," Derek explains. “Which I already knew. We’re doing a roleplay thing—”

“Ew,” Erica says automatically. She leans forward and peers blankly at his screen. “I’m morbidly curious, what am I seeing? How smutty is it, on a scale of one to ten?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “It’s not that kind of roleplay. I’m pretending to order food and Stiles is pretending to be the waiter, except he’s mostly just making fun of me right now because I accidentally ordered a blowjob.”

Predictably, Erica bursts out laughing. “Smooth.”

“Shut up. Anyway, so we’re doing that, and we’ve been making trip plans.”

Well. Technically Stiles is making trip plans. He’s compiling a list of “Essential Things to Show Derek.” So far it’s fifteen pages long, and getting longer by the day. Derek is only going to be there for three weeks. Stiles insists they can get it done. He has a plan.

Derek doesn’t have any plans, just a jumble of vague fantasies. They’re walking around Warsaw together, shoulders bumping, Stiles pointing excitedly to everything and talking too fast. Derek is, by some miracle, speaking Polish well enough to impress Stiles. They’re standing on the little balcony of the Stilinskis’ apartment, looking out at the city skyline, or lounging around together in the living room, watching TV, Stiles’ fingers curling around his in the near-dark. They’re curling up together at night, kissing in the dark, whispering, Stiles making the inevitable jokes, Derek finding out what Stiles looks like under his clothes.

Most of it is stuff he’s thought about before, only now there’s a new thrill to it, imagining it might be real soon enough.

Then, of course, there’s the inevitable follow-up thoughts, the “He’s not gay” and the “He does like guys but he doesn’t like me” and the “He lives too far away and it would never work.” Plenty of options to choose from, really.

*

The night before the flight, when Stiles should still be asleep, he sends Derek a text: IT’S TODAY, TODAY’S THE DAY!!

Before Derek’s finished deciding whether that merits a reply, Stiles adds, or i guess i should say tomorrow, since it’s still yesterday over there. but... fuck i can’t sleep. this is like the third time i’ve woken up, i give up. you all packed & ready?

Derek types a few things, erases them all, sends back a simple Yep. His screen is so bright in the dark of his room that it hurts his eyes a little bit, but he doesn’t want to sit up in bed to turn on a lamp. As of this afternoon, the AC in the house is broken, and it’s like a swamp in here. He’s just sprawled on his back on top of the covers, sweating and listening to the rain tapping on the roof, too lazy to move.

Maybe Stiles senses his gloomy mood, because a few seconds later Derek’s phone lights up with a new call from him.

Derek fumbles for a few seconds, trying to stick his earbud cord into his phone in the dark, and then flops back down and hits ‘Accept.’

Stiles opens with, “Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet?”

“No.”

Stiles snorts. “Whenever you start talking in single syllables, I know you’re upset. Dead giveaway.”

Derek shifts his leg a little, seeking out a cooler patch of blanket. “Sorry.”

“Two syllables, wow! Making progress. Seriously, though. There’s something you’re not telling me.”

"There's something you're not telling me."

Confused silence.

"The secret?" Derek reminds him.

"Oh. Okay, true, but at least I told you I wasn't telling you!"

"I'm not sure that actually makes it better."

Stiles sighs. "I'll tell if you will?"

"You first," Derek says.

"Why do I have to go first?"

"For reasons," Derek mumbles.

"Look. Can we just agree that whatever is said tonight will be forgotten in the morning if it's embarrassing or soul-crushing or whatever? I'm already freaking out about you visiting me and, like, whether you're going to go to the wrong place in the airport and accidentally end up in, like, Australia—"

"I'm not going to end up in Australia, Stiles."

"—and I don't want to be freaking out about this, too. So if we could just make this a no-judgment, no-consequences zone and get it all out in the open, that would probably be good."

"I can't just forget stuff on command. Like, if you tell me you murdered someone, I'm going to judge you."

"Well, yeah, but... We can agree not to make it weird, right? Also, why is murder the first place your mind goes when I tell you I have a secret? No, wait, don’t answer that.”

Derek rolls his eyes. Even knowing Stiles can’t see him, he can’t resist. “I think you’re the only person I know who I’d trust to dispose of a body and not get caught.”

“Don’t sell me short here, man. I know of multiple ways to properly dispose of a body. Um. Hypothetically.” Stiles laughs. “Wow, this conversation took a weird turn fast. Anyway. Talking. We were gonna do that.”

Right. Derek takes a breath, wiping at the sweat on his forehead. “Okay. We won’t make it weird.”

"Great! You go first."

Derek laughs. It helps ease his nerves, just a little. "Give me a hint first. What is your secret about?"

Stiles goes quiet. Derek waits, holding his breath.

Finally Stiles says, "Sometimes I wonder, you know, if we'd gone to the same school, or grown up on the same street or whatever, if we ever would've been friends. If you ever would’ve talked to me."

"Why?"

"You're just... you. We have pretty different tastes sometimes, and you're this gorgeous, sporty specimen of a human being" (Derek's stomach flip-flops) "and I'm, like, this weird twig... Oh god, make me stop talking. This is embarrassing."

"You're an idiot," Derek blurts.

Stiles' huff of laughter is a crackle over the phone. "I know."

"You're not a weird twig."

"Whatever. Forget I said that. Just answer the question."

"Okay." Derek moves forward more carefully now, not even sure how to phrase it but sure it needs saying. "I don't think we would've been friends in the same way. I mean, the way we got to know each other matters. Maybe I've told you things sometimes that I might not have said if we'd been talking face-to-face. It's easier to talk to you, I guess, because sometimes it feels like you're just this person living in my phone, or this person writing me letters from another planet or something. You don't know anyone in my life except through me, and I don't know anyone in your life except through you, and things between us always just feel, I dunno," intimate. "—private."

"Yeah," Stiles whispers.

"But I think we would've been connected somehow. I can't imagine any universe where I wouldn't notice you, or want to know you."

There's another one of those long silences, and Derek is just about to say something to lighten the mood when Stiles' voice comes through, low and earnest. "I think about you all the time. Not just in a friends way. You're so attractive I can't even deal, sometimes, and you're one of the most important people in my life and I just... Not being able to be with you drives me crazy. I don't even know if you, um, feel like that about me, but it's how I feel about you."

"Is... Is that the secret?" Derek asks, too stunned to say anything else.

"Kind of." There's a rustling sound, like Stiles shifting around in bed. Then, in a rush: "The secret is that I'm applying to some universities in California. Partly it's for respectable educational and professional reasons, but... Honestly, I really like you and I don't want this visit to be the only time we ever see each other. It's a lot of money, I know, but I’ve been saving like I told you, and my dad said he'd help some, and... it's worth it to me. You're worth it to me. God. Am I coming on too strong? You need to tell me to slow down or someth—"

"I like you, too." Derek is clenching the bedcovers so tight it's actually painful. "A lot. That's my secret."

"Like, in an 'I want to kiss you, Stiles' kind of way, or—"

"Yes."

"Oh." Stiles laughs a little. "That's awesome.”

Derek laughs, too, and relaxes his grip on the covers. “I can't wait to see you. We can talk more about schools and… stuff.”

“Yeah, stuff.” Derek doesn’t even have to see him to know he’s doing something ridiculous with his face, like waggling his eyebrows.

“Stuff, got it,” Derek says, playing along. “Better add it to your list of ‘Essential Things to Show Derek in Poland’ or whatever.”

“Oh, trust me, it’s going at the top of the list.”

Derek curls his bare toes against the covers at the thought. “Okay. And I won't end up in Australia. Promise."

"That's good." Stiles' voice sounds like he's smiling. "I'll be there when you land. I'll probably do something embarrassing, just a heads up."

"I hope so."

"Oh, screw you."

Derek snorts. There's a pause, but a good pause, content, broken only by Stiles yawning and then mumbling, “I should probably go.”

“I don’t want you to.”

“I don’t really want to, I’m just trying to be responsible.” Stiles yawns again. “Ugh, fine, you win. Just a few more minutes.”

Derek falls asleep a while later, listening to the rain on the roof and Stiles' soft snoring in his ear.

In the morning his phone battery is completely drained, his earbud cord tangled up around his arm, and Derek’s mom is yelling up the stairs for him to wake up because he slept through his alarm.

Derek’s never leaped out of bed faster.

Chapter Text

The day he’s leaving is a flurry of last-minute packing, fighting off nerves-induced nausea, making a playlist (with Stiles’ help) to pass some of the time on the flight, and squeezing in just a little more Polish practice. Oh yeah, and reviewing his flight schedule about fifteen times, because all Stiles’ talk about him ending up in Australia has got him paranoid now.

His plane is scheduled to leave at 6 p.m., so they leave for the airport at 4.

His whole family comes along to see him off. He feels like throwing up for the entire ride, clutching his bag in his lap and clenching his jaw. His dad rubs his back soothingly while Laura laughs at him and takes blackmail pictures from the front seat.

Derek slumps down in the back seat and pointedly ignores her, pulling out his phone to text Erica.

Derek, 4:05 p.m. On route to airport
I told Stiles I like him
He feels the same
Probably going to have a rom-com moment in warsaw airport

Yes!! she sends back, plus six thumbs-up emojis and an eggplant.

Derek, 4:08 p.m. ABSOLUTELY NO EGGPLANT ACTIVITIES ARE HAPPENING IN THE AIRPORT

Erica, 4:09 p.m. Aww :(

Derek rolls his eyes and switches the subject. So… remember our agreement? Your turn to tell Boyd how you feel now

Erica, 4:11 p.m. Oh fuck

Derek, 4:11 p.m. :)))

Derek feels slightly better, after that.

*

At his gate, they all hug him, one by one. His dad’s hug is so ferocious that Derek almost drops all the stuff he’s carrying, his bag and his plastic-wrapped sandwich and his water bottle. Derek’s mom not-so-discreetly wipes at her eyes. His grandma slips some mints and condoms into the top of his carry-on bag, then—before he can protest—winks conspiratorially and retreats to the back of the group, looking innocently away.

Right as he's about to board the plane, Cora yells, "Have fun kissing Stiles!" loud enough for literally everyone else in the boarding line to hear. Laura cackles and adds, “Yeah, get it!” Several people shoot him curious glances. Derek gets on the plane still blushing.

*

He bought the cheapest ticket he could find, which means he spends pretty much the entire night on a series of flights and layovers: Beacon Hills to Sacramento, Sacramento to LAX, LAX to O’Hare, and O’Hare to JFK International.

At JFK he has the longest layover yet. It’s well past daybreak by then, although Derek’s body clock, which is still on California time, insists it’s more like 4 a.m. He spends most of the day waiting for his 5 p.m. flight, wandering around the airport and guzzling coffee in the fight to stay awake. He’s scared someone is going to steal his bag if he sleeps, although he’s pretty sure he nods off a few times anyway with his neck tilting back at a weird angle. It’s hard to stay awake when, outside, everything is gently grey and drizzly.

The only good part about it is getting to text Stiles, who’s been glued to his phone, tracking Derek's progress with growing excitement. He keeps sending Derek things to keep up his morale: rambling messages about what he’s doing right now, and cute baby animal gifs, and even cuter selfies Derek immediately downloads to his phone, and links to YouTube songs that take two forevers to load on the shitty free wifi at the airport.

Derek’s not sure how intelligible his texts are—he’s never felt so exhausted before in his life—but at least it keeps him (mostly) awake until it's finally time to board the plane to Warsaw.

What Derek expects to happen on the flight is eight and a half hours of hyperventilating about flying across the entire Atlantic Ocean, and several thousand miles of Europe, alone, to see Stiles.

What actually happens is that he nods off before the plane even leaves the runway. He even sleeps through takeoff.

He wakes up, groggy and a little cold, when they’ve already passed the border into Poland. He has vague memories of half-waking a few times during the flight when the woman next to him climbed past to get in and out of her seat, and one middle-of-the-night trip of his own to the bathroom, but other than that… nothing.

His wristwatch, still set to Pacific Time because Derek can’t remember what button to push to change it, is telling him it’s 10:30 at night, but the screen on the back of the seat says it’s closer to 7:30 a.m. Through the nearest window, he can see wispy clouds flushed orange with early morning light. It’s a weird feeling, like being outside of time. He really is on the other side of the world.

By the time they land, he can barely sit still. He’s really here. He can see Poland out the airplane window, holy fuck. Even if it is just tarmac and close-mown grass and, at the far end of the field, Warsaw Chopin Airport, all gleaming glass and metal.

Somewhere inside that airport, Stiles is probably seeing this same tarmac, this same grass.

Maybe he's even watching Derek's plane taxiing up to the gate.

*

Stiles isn’t waiting for him at the gate. Derek has about fifteen seconds to worry, ridiculously, that Stiles is here but Derek just hasn’t recognized him for some reason before he remembers Stiles isn’t going to be here anyway. Derek has to get his passport stamped and go through customs first, and then Stiles is planning to meet him in an entirely different part of the airport; he texted Derek about this while Derek was in Chicago. Right.

That stuff takes almost half an hour. It gives him time to relax a bit, standing in one line and then another and, in between, ducking into the bathrooms to run water over his face and brush his teeth and generally freshen up.

Outside the bathroom, he poses for a selfie by a bilingual sign and sends it to Stiles as a sort of “Hey! I’m here.” He adds a photo of his stamped passport, too, for good measure, but he doesn’t get any immediate reply. Oh well.

The nerves he was expecting earlier are definitely back, but… it’s almost like he’s passed some kind of nerves threshold, like he’s been anticipating this for so many hours, so many days, that it’s more of an annoying background noise now than anything else, and he can ignore it and just be excited, waiting to see what’s going to happen, hoping it’s going to be good, knowing it probably will be.

It’s a little later than he thought it’d be when he clears customs, takes the nearest escalator down, and finds himself standing in what he supposes is the main terminal. It’s a huge and bustling space, and Derek doesn’t see Stiles anywhere.

A part of him feels very, very small, and another part of him just wants to laugh because he did it. He made it. He’s really here.

Then he checks his phone and stops feeling like laughing. Stiles still hasn’t replied to his arrival text.

Maybe Stiles’ phone battery died? Or maybe he just fell asleep, finally, after so many hours of staying up to follow Derek’s flight. Or maybe there’s a problem with Derek’s international phone plan and his texts didn’t even go through?

Derek’s huddled against a column and poking at his phone, trying to muddle through the Polish instructions to connect to the airport’s free wifi so he can email Stiles instead, when someone punches him lightly in the bicep.

He looks up.

“Hey, you,” Stiles says, and oh. He’s here.

He’s standing close enough to touch. He’s got his hands shoved in the back pockets of his jeans in a way that stretches the cotton of his t-shirt tight over his chest, and his messy hair is sticking out in all directions, and—it’s cliche as fuck, but Derek’s breath literally catches in his throat. He’s spent years looking at Stiles through a grainy webcam and studying his face in low-res phone selfies, and now Stiles is so close that he can see a scattering of tiny, golden freckles across the bridge of his nose and the peach fuzz on his cheeks and the subtle flecks of gold in his dark eyes. Fuck, Derek can even smell him a little, some kind of spicy cologne that makes him want to bury his nose in Stiles’ neck.

For a long moment they just stare at each other, silent. Then Stiles smiles at him, a little shyly, and all Derek’s nerves evaporate.

"You’re real," Derek says, stupidly, and Stiles throws his arms around him in a hug so enthusiastic they almost topple over. It's amazing. Derek lets his eyes close and just basks in it.

When they finally pull back, Stiles looks him up and down and says, “Wow, we’re the same height. I thought you were gonna be shorter.”

Derek laughs. “Ditto. You look basically twelve on a webcam.”

“Ouch,” Stiles says, still smiling so hard it looks like it hurts. He leans forward and squeezes Derek’s arm. “Okay, so you’re just as fit as you look. Wow. That’s nice.”

Derek shoves him off, hoping he’s not blushing. “Shut up.”

“Anyway, you weren’t even looking for me. I made you a sign and everything and you didn’t even see it.” He gestures at a poster abandoned on the floor by his feet. Pasted at the top is an unflattering skype screenshot of Derek looking befuddled, caught mid-word. It’s captioned in Polish, LOOKING FOR THIS AMERICAN. PROBABLY LOST. HOPEFULLY NOT IN AUSTRALIA, in an eyesore of orange and blue glitter.

Derek can’t help an exasperated eye-roll. “Mets colors, of course. I should have known.”

“Nothing but the best for you, kochanie.”

“Did you just call me ‘babe’?”

“Something like that. Testing the waters, you know.” Stiles lifts a hand and slowly, deliberately pokes Derek’s forearm. “I can touch you whenever I want now. It’s surreal.”

Derek swallows. “You want to touch me?”

“Like you don’t want to touch me just as much.”

“Yeah,” Derek admits, soft.

Stiles takes his hand. His palm is warm, a little sweaty, as he tugs Derek into another hug. This time Derek buries his nose against Stiles' neck and stays there, breathing in Stiles' scent, until Stiles finally pulls back a little, nose brushing Derek’s cheekbone in a way that gives Derek goosebumps.

“You’re shaking.”

“Low blood sugar. I didn’t eat breakfast.”

“Oh,” Stiles says with an exaggerated nod, “that’s all it is, is it?”

“You know   what it is. I’m worried I’m going to do something embarrassing.”

“Like what?” Stiles prompts, looking coy, like he already knows exactly what.

“Like faint. Or kiss you.”

Stiles’ eyes get this gleam that makes Derek feel like there’s suddenly not enough air in his lungs. “I think I should kiss you, then. Before you faint.”

“Probably a good idea,” Derek manages to get out, and the last word is swallowed by Stiles’ mouth as he tilts his head and swoops in. And oh god, butterflies. Derek has them.

Kissing Stiles is... an experience. He's eager and grabby, hands everywhere, and shamelessly noisy in a way that feels ten times as obscene given that they’re standing in the middle of an airport terminal. All Derek can do is push Stiles up against the column, half-hiding them from the crowd, and lose himself in it.

When Stiles finally pulls back, looking satisfied with himself, Derek's stomach does a low swoop and he can't help but let his gaze drop to Stiles' mouth.

Stiles looks like he’s thinking about saying something. In the end, though, he just shakes his head a little and tugs Derek in again instead, kissing him harder than before, and okay, that’s his tongue. Touching Derek’s tongue. Derek is going to die. It’s amazing.

A minute later, or maybe more like five, or ten, someone clears their throat pointedly from over Stiles’ shoulder. Derek reluctantly drags his mouth away (Stiles mutters a little protesting “No, come back,” and tries to keep kissing him) and blinks open his eyes, dazed.

It’s Stiles' dad, holding two to-go cups of coffee and staring at them. Derek instantly feels his face going red.

Stiles’ dad nods hello to him, looking equal parts awkward and amused in a way that really reminds Derek of Stiles. “You must be my son’s friend,” he says in deliberately slow, clear Polish. “It’s good to finally meet you. Welcome to Poland.

Derek belatedly untangles himself from Stiles and takes a safe step back. “Thank you, sir.” (Stiles snorts, either at the ‘sir’ or Derek’s Polish, maybe both.)  “You too, sir. I mean—not, welcome to Poland to you too. Obviously, you live here. I only meant—”

Stiles’ dad looks like he’s trying not to laugh. “I get what you meant. Thank you.

Beside him, Stiles’ hand finds Derek’s and squeezes. “Dork.”

Derek squeezes back, feeling—despite the embarrassment—like this is the beginning of something really good.

*

The Stilinskis’ apartment is familiar and not all at once. It’s the same rooms Derek’s seen a hundred times on a webcam, but everything feels slightly different now, brought to life around him. He gets a better since now of the scale of it and how it all fits together.

“I feel like I’m on a movie set,” Derek admits when they get to Stiles’ room. It’s surreal, standing in this space, looking at the blue walls, the bed against the wall with its fluffy grey comforter, the window opposite with the white curtains, muted noises of traffic beyond it. He kicks off his shoes and pushes them with one toe until they’re piled next to Stiles’ by the door, and to Derek’s jetlagged brain that feels surreal, too, that their stuff is together. Little pieces of their lives finally sharing space.

Stiles grins and hops up on the bed, bouncing a little, tucking his hands under his thighs. “I guess it’s kind of like you are on a movie set. Except I cleaned up a little bit, so it’s not exactly what it looks like on skype.”

“Yeah. I can tell. A lot less weird junk all over the floor than usual. Let me guess—all stuffed in the closet?”

Stiles laughs. “You know me so well. So…” He licks his lips, pointedly. “What do you wanna do first?”

Of course, that has to be the moment a yawn sweeps over Derek, so wide it brings tears to his eyes.

“Oh… tired?” Stiles guesses, shoulders slumping minutely.

“Yeah. I slept a lot on the plane, but I think I need a nap. It doesn’t feel like daytime.”

“Oh, okay. Yeah. I got you a, um…” Stiles’ eyes trail down and Derek follows his gaze. There’s a blue sleeping bag unrolled on the floor, flat and sad-looking, parallel to the bed.

“Oh,” Derek says. “Perfect. Thanks.”

Stiles nods. Derek nods. There’s just a lot of awkward nodding.

And then Stiles stops nodding and says, “Do you really want to sleep on the floor?”

Derek shakes his head.

Stiles looks pleased. “Okay, cool.”

“I just need to change into PJs first.”

“Sure.” Stiles waits, watching him expectantly and not moving at all from the bed, and oh. Is he expecting Derek to change right here, right in front of him? Can Derek just do that? Would it be like, like locker-room rules, or like… foreplay?

God, Derek can’t even think that word without blushing.

Stiles rubs a hand over the back of his neck. “Oh. Um. Right. The bathroom is down the hall on the left if you want to change in there. I forgot you didn’t know already.”

Sure he did. Derek doesn’t miss the way his eyes scan down Derek’s body, curious and not trying very hard to hide it. If Derek were braver, he’d take off his clothes right there and see what Stiles did with that, but.

But Derek wimps out and grabs his bag and goes down the hall.

The bathroom is one of the few rooms in this apartment that Derek has never seen before, since it’s not like they skype while Stiles is in the shower or anything. And that’s a mental image Derek needs to stop right now before he gives himself a boner, god.

The bathroom is small, blue walls to match the bedroom, shower curtain decorated with little turtles. Derek tugs on his plaid sleep pants, puts his toothbrush on the edge of the sink next to Stiles’ and tries not to get feelings about it, and bends down to put his rolled-up jeans in his backpack to re-wear later.

One of the bright purple condoms from his grandma falls out onto the tile floor.

Derek isn’t sure what his face is doing right now, but he knows Stiles would be laughing at him right now if he could see.

*

Derek gets back to the room just in time to see Stiles stripped down to his boxers and pulling off his t-shirt. He sees broad shoulders and sharp shoulder blades, the long line of Stiles’ spine and the flex of supple muscles under his pale skin—and then Stiles turns his head, spotting him, and jumps a little. He drops the shirt on the floor.

Derek looks away awkwardly. “Sorry,” he mutters. “I didn’t mean to—”

Stiles makes no move to put on pants or a shirt or even cross his arms over his chest, just stands there, letting Derek see. “I like when you look at me. You don’t have to look away all the time.” He doesn’t wait for Derek to reply, just flops down on the bed and burrows under the sheet, then pokes his head out. “C’mon.”

Derek’s a bit worried about his heart rate right now because fuck, Stiles wants to sleep next to him in his underwear. That’s a thing that’s happening. The adrenaline rush is almost enough to make Derek think he doesn’t need a nap right now after all.

*

Derek can’t sleep.

His brain is fuzzy with how tired and just plain off he is from all the travel and time zones and airplane food and nerves, and in Stiles’ room it’s cool and dim with the curtains drawn, but—he can’t sleep.

He twists around onto his side to face Stiles, and Stiles’ eyes flutter open.

“I thought you were tired,” Stiles whispers.

“Yeah, me too,” Derek whispers back. He’s not sure why they’re whispering. Stiles’ dad is watching TV in the living room, so it’s not like they’re going to be overheard. Maybe it just feels like a whispering kind of moment.

Stiles’ fingers steal across the sheets to run up Derek’s arm absently; Derek shivers. “I never realized how hairy your arms were.”

“Uh. Thank you?”

Stiles lets his hand drop away, but not too far, the backs of his fingers just barely resting against Derek’s chest. “Sorry, I’m weird.”

“Don’t say sorry for that.”

Stiles smiles and shoves Derek’s arm lightly, his palm settling warm and casual on Derek’s bicep afterwards. “What are you thinking about?”

“Just... the fact that we’re really here.”

“Yeah. Same.” Stiles’ eyes drop to Derek’s mouth, and well, Derek can take a hint. He wriggles in closer and kisses Stiles, soft and then not so soft when Stiles bites at his lip a little.

“I think—” Stiles says, between kisses, “we should—yeah—just do this for a while. Mmm.”

“We should.”

“Like, you know what, screw the list. Let’s just do this for three weeks.”

Derek laughs and kisses him again.

Chapter Text

MEETING MY BOYFRIEND FOR THE FIRST TIME

A video from Stiles' youtube channel, filmed in English with Polish subtitles.

 

The camera pans across a busy airport terminal, then zooms in on Derek, who's standing about twenty feet away with his duffel bag at his feet, frowning down at his phone.

Stiles' voice, excited, comes from just off-screen. "That's him, that's him! Oh my god. Why isn't he looking up?" He switches to Polish. "I'm gonna go over there. Dad, could you just, uh, give us a few minutes?"

The camera cuts briefly to Stiles' dad as he's saying, "Sure, I'll get coffee and come find you. Don't get up to too much trouble."

"You know me. I would never," Stiles laughs.

His dad walks off.

The camera swings back around to Derek, briefly going out of focus and then sharpening again. Stiles breathes out a long breath. "I really hope he likes me. But that's dumb. He definitely likes me. I just worry. Okay. Here goes. I'm gonna go talk to him. Wish me luck."

.

Stiles and Derek are walking through the airport, trailing behind Stiles' dad. Stiles turns the camera on Derek, who looks tired but pleased. "Everybody, this is Derek. We met twenty minutes ago. Also we just had our first kiss. We are probably gonna do it again when we get to the car."

.

They're in bed. Derek is shirtless, belly-down, apparently asleep, until Stiles moves the camera closer and he cracks one eye open lazily. "Stiles, are you filming this? I just woke up."

“Exactly,” Stiles says, “you’re cute.”

“Am not.”

Stiles turns the camera on himself. "Yeah, so, confession time, we never used the sleeping bag. We've just been cuddling. Derek here may look grumpy, but he's a champion cuddler—"

Derek groans, "Stop destroying my air of mystery," and shoves his hand in front of the camera.

.

They're sitting on a wall at the top of a grassy hill, looking out over the distant city at sunset. Stiles waves cheerily at the camera, resting his head on Derek's shoulder, then flips the view around. The camera pans across the skyline, orange sun flaring across the lens, and then down to show their dangling feet, side by side, Derek's black sneakers bumping Stiles' bright red ones.

.

They're outside a restaurant, Derek leaning forward a few feet away to look in the display window.

"Yay, look at that," Stiles says, swinging the camera away from Derek and down, zooming in jerkily on a little rainbow flag sticker on the glass door. "I always look for these stickers when I go places, and if I see one, I usually buy something from there, even if it's just a little thing. I like these places. Just makes me feel a little safer, you know? So yeah, kudos to them. Good job." He opens the door, gestures for Derek to go first. To the camera he adds, "I'm about to buy Derek his first makowiec, and then I'll probably laugh at him when he gets poppy seeds stuck in his teeth."

.

They're in the Stilinski kitchen. The camera is propped on the kitchen counter, taking in the scene. Stiles' dad is sitting at the table, watching with raised eyebrows while Derek attempts to teach Stiles to bake a cake. Derek licks frosting off his finger absently and Stiles watches, rapt, and accidentally drops an egg yolk on the floor.

Stiles' dad shakes his head and takes another sip of his coffee, going back to reading his newspaper.

.

"We're at the National Museum," Stiles whispers. Behind him is a huge painting of a battle scene. "I've already been a few times, so I'm mostly here to inject some culture into Derek." He makes a face at the camera. "Did that sound unintentionally dirty to you, or is that just me? Anyway. I was gonna take him to the Dollhouse Museum, but he vetoed that as being too creepy." Stiles glances around, then looks back hastily into the camera. "Okay, so the security guard is still watching us—"

Off-screen, Derek coughs.

"Fine, watching me—because I keep forgetting you're not supposed to touch stuff. It's just really hard, okay? I always want to touch stuff when it looks interesting. I can't help it."

The camera shifts a little to reveal Derek standing beside him, giving him the side-eye. "That's what she said."

"He said, you mean," Stiles whispers back, winking. "Also, god, I love that I'm rubbing off on you. You're learning so well." 

Derek shakes his head and walks off to the next painting.

.

Derek is eating pierogi at a cafe table while looking pensively out at the street, people-watching. Stiles narrates in a whisper from off-screen, "This is Derek's first authentic pierogi experience, so I'm documenting it. It's very important."

.

They're huddled together under the same umbrella, walking down a rainy street. Derek is talking on the phone, saying, “Yeah, Mom, we just went out for a little while to a museum and now we’re headed back to the apartment…”

Stiles winks conspiratorially at the camera, then leans in and whispers, just loud enough for the camera to catch, "Hey Derek, I think about you when I jerk off," and laughs when Derek obviously loses his train of thought, blushing bright pink.

On the phone, his mom says, distant and tinny, "Derek? Are you still there? Derek?"

.

They're in Stiles' living room, Derek curled up asleep on the sofa with his head on Stiles' lap, Stiles' fingers carding through his hair. 

"Derek has had a long day of walking around Warsaw and putting up with me," Stiles whispers conspiratorially to the camera. "So I'm just petting his hair now. I didn't want to wake him up. He has very soft hair. It's reminding me of the pet bunny rabbit I used to have. His teeth remind me of bunnies, too. It's very cute."

.

Stiles is standing in his room, holding up a stack of papers. "So this is my List of Essential Things to Show Derek. We got through about half of it. I should've calculated in more time spent napping and making out and, um," he winks, "doing other very enjoyable stuff that I should probably not talk about right now." He not-so-subtly tugs at the neck of his t-shirt, giving the camera a glimpse of a hickey dark against his collarbone. "But yeah, so… we've still got some sightseeing stuff we can do, you know, next time. If there is a next time—which there will be! It's going to happen."

.

They're at the airport again, standing by a window. Stiles is wearing his Mets hat; Derek is wearing Stiles' red hoodie.

"I wish I could forge you a fake ID so you don't have to leave," Stiles says, hugging Derek tightly.

Derek wraps his arms around Stiles, too. "Of course your mind would go there.”  

"Do you really have to go?"

"Yeah."

"Text me when you land," Stiles says.

"Duh," Derek says.

.

Through a rain-spattered airport window, the camera catches Derek's plane taking off. It drifts up, up, and then is swallowed by the clouds.

"Thus begins the longest year of my life," Stiles sighs. 

The screen goes black.

 

***

 

REUNITED IN CALIFORNIA, F YEAH!!!

Video from Stiles’ youtube channel, filmed in English with Polish subtitles.

 

Stiles is walking through the airport, talking to himself in various clips edited together.

"Okay, my hands are shaking. I didn't even have caffeine, I swear."

“This is giving me flashbacks to last year when Derek visited, except I've got so much more luggage than he did. Ugh, my arms are sore."

"Oh, I almost forgot! Check out my shirt." He holds the camera out at arm's length. His shirt reads, "Both? Both. Both. Both is good," in big letters in the colors of the bi pride flag. Stiles angles the camera back up to his face. "Nice, right? I ordered this online like a month ago, but this is the first time I'm wearing it outside the house. I thought it was appropriate for the occasion, you know? Back home I didn't have the courage to wear this out on the streets, because inevitably someone would be giving me the stink-eye for it, but so far no one here has even looked at me twice. It's nice."

“Man, I think I’m lost. No wait, there’s the sign. Ha.”

“Well then. U.S. Customs just confiscated my banana. I don’t get why. I got it from the airplane. I want you to know I was very tempted to videotape myself eating it like, sexy, you know," he pokes his tongue against the inside of his cheek, "and send it to Derek, but I restrained myself.”

"I wonder how many people I can fool into thinking I'm American. I'm gonna keep a tally in my notebook. I can do a mean New York accent. I’ve been practicing. Listen to this. I’m from Queens, dude. Yeah. Queens."

“So if you’re wondering what I’m carrying, this is my pillow, very important, can't sleep without it. Although maybe if I did ever forget it, Derek could be my pillow. I like napping on him, he's very comfortable and he puts out a lot of heat.”

There’s blurry video footage of everything he passes, a family in line at Starbucks, a little boy discreetly picking his nose, a guy in cargo pants strolling by with hip hop blaring from the phone in his shirt pocket, a bored-looking janitor mopping the floor by the bathrooms, a woman with a bright red mohawk.

“So,” Stiles says, flipping the camera back on himself, “the story is, I’ve got two weeks to spend on a road trip with Derek and then we’re moving into the dorm at Berkeley. Guess what, Internet, we’re rooming together. No more skype sex for us, nope.” Stiles smacks his forehead. “Uh, wait. Dad, if you’re watching this, pretend I didn’t just say that. Anyway. Yeah. Roommates. It’s gonna be epic.”

.

There's a bit of blank footage, and then Stiles is running, the camera shaking like there's an earthquake, passersby shooting him startled glances. Derek looks over and spots him about two seconds before Stiles throws himself at him, just barely remembering to hold the phone away to capture their first kiss in a year.

Stiles wraps his legs around Derek's waist and opens his mouth, their tongues brushing and Derek's eyes fluttering shut.

The camera, forgotten in Stiles' hand, tilts up to stare blankly at the airport ceiling.

.

They step outside, over to where Laura’s got their mom’s sedan parked against the curb. She spots them and takes off her sunglasses, waving.

“I’ll pay you to put in your earplugs from the plane whenever she starts telling embarrassing childhood stories about me,” Derek says.

“Dude. Don’t you know? She’s already told me all of them. We’re facebook friends now.”

“Oh god,” Derek says. Stiles laughs.

.

They’re in the back seat, holding hands. Stiles brings Derek's hand to his mouth and kisses it, the camera lingering on Derek's face as Stiles crows, "Ha, made you blush!"

"Shut up," Derek grumbles, right before Stiles leans in and kisses him again. The video ends.