Stiles always kinda thought Derek meant to leave Beacon Hills again, maybe for good after junior year (aka Year of the Shitstorm aka Hello Darkness My Old Friend aka We’re Supposed To Be Applying To Colleges RN R U SRS!?). What with the way Derek kept his clothes in a neat pile next to a ratty, navy blue backpack halfway between the door and his bed (which was in the living room, because Derek never made sense whether it was his age or his choice of leather jackets. I mean, the sleeves. Too long, amirite?). Anyway. What with Derek’s tendency to live like he’d either die today or run away tomorrow, it wasn’t too farfetched in Stiles’ opinion.
So odds were that Derek, if he didn’t fatally injure himself in the next ghoul attack or whatevs, would eventually pack up his monochrome wardrobe and get the hell out. For reasons Stiles didn’t like thinking about, the idea of Derek Hale leaving Hale territory (even if he wasn’t the Alpha anymore) brought with it a sense of niggling panic. Sometimes to counter said bad thoughts, Stiles imagined Derek finding himself, maybe going to Sedona and getting his chi cleansed or something, maybe setting up a vegan dog wash in Portland or – okay, Stiles thought he was funny at least.
But, Derek didn’t leave. The year after the nemeton business died down and everyone was getting at least 1000% more sleep, he hired an architect and then the pack didn’t see much of him for the next, like, three months. Stiles only noticed because Scott started hosting pack meetings at the McCall house. Definitely not because he missed Derek’s stupid caterpillar eyebrows and the way he pursed his lips when Stiles made bad puns, like his rainbow eyes weren’t smiling enough to give him away. Shut up.
It was nearing finals when Derek texted Stiles out of the blue, demanding he get off his ass and help him over at the apartment. Stiles, who’d spent the weekend in a lump of blankets in front of his computer after delivering flowers to his mom’s grave, paused his Netflix Alias binge and threw himself into the shower.
The apartment was not the apartment anymore. Like, it was—it was out of some magazine, yo. And there wasn’t a gaping hole in the wall, and there was like… a bowl of apples on the kitchen table and photos of Derek and Cora climbing Machu Picchu next to these awesome huge windows that let in all this light and—
Basically Stiles knew he tended to breath with his mouth open, but it might be stuck that way.
“You cut your hair,” was the first thing Derek said to him, making his way down the spiral staircase. He looked good--like more good than normal. There was a big painting up on the wall behind him, and Stiles gestured incredulously at his surroundings before being distracted by the sound of the ice-maker in the brand-spankin’-new fridge in the open-plan kitchen.
Stiles looked back to Derek for a moment, taking in the set of his shoulders before shaking himself and running a hand over his newly buzzed hair.
“Got annoyed with it,” he said, and knew Derek heard his heart skip. "You need help with something?"
“I’m shitty at Ikea instructions,” Derek said after a long moment—a long moment punctuated by more of Stiles’ awe at the flat screen on the other end of the apartment, and the dark blue sectional by the giant window that the pack had spent many a night strategizing under.
Derek pointed upstairs.
“Oh, dude, yeah. Sure I’ll help. Sorry,” said Stiles, and up they went.
If Stiles was speechless before, he was losing brain cells by the time they reached the top of the stairs, because there was a wall of glass revealing a view of the city, and a small terrace beyond it with a porch swing and a small wicker table. There were two bedrooms as you moved away from the windows—the smaller one a guest bedroom, probably—and that was where Derek was headed because of course Derek “Sexy But Angry About It” Hale needed help putting together his bedroom. Frick.
After too long putting screw A into barely drilled out hole B et cetera et cetera, probably barely avoiding a noise complaint from the neighbors, and Stiles staring at Derek’s ass as he knelt and listened to Stiles translate the instructions for the SNARFBLATT or whatever it was, Derek hauled his mattress over from the corner of the room, shoved it into place on the assembled bedframe and wiped his forehead with the edge of his Henley. Stiles wrenched his gaze from the vee of Derek’s hips and faceplanted over the bed.
“Man, that was exhausting,” he gusted out, stretching his arms above his head before settling in. “Hale, your bed is comfy as shiiiit.”
The mattress dipped and next thing you know, Stiles had a perfect view of the dreaded caterpillar brows and rainbow eyes. Derek toed off his shoes and settled on his back, head turned toward Stiles.
Bed sharing. Unexpected, but awesome.
“You literally just yelled at me for an hour, how are you tired?”
Stiles grinned. “Takes a lot out of a guy,” he said. Stiles pillowed his arms and waited for the telltale Derek Hale Is Trying Not To Laugh Face.
It was great as always. Then, Stiles realized he was gazing into Derek’s eyes and that was making his tummy go nuts and oh God he was probably broadcasting feelings all over the place.
“You redid your flat,” Stiles said—because, hey, he never claimed his distraction tactics involved intelligent observation.
“I guess I needed a change that didn’t involve uprooting my life,” Derek muttered, looking away.
“Dude, this place rocks. It suits you.”
Derek turned back to him. Gave him a considering look. “You cut your hair,” he said, again.
“We’re good at redundant, aren’t we?” said Stiles around a smile.
“It suits you, too,” Derek continued. Stiles looked at his hands to try and keep from blushing. “In a weird, Stiles way.”
Stiles punched him in the arm and scrambled from the bed. Derek smirked at him, still stretched out like a smug cat.
“I saw some other Ikea boxes downstairs; think you can handle a little more yelling?” Stiles held out his hand and pulled Derek’s arm until they were standing toe to toe at the end of Derek’s bed.
The smirk went from a 3 to a 10, and Stiles’ stomach did a couple more backflips when Derek replied, “You bet.”