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until it hurts sometimes

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Me, 5:45 PM : Your bday is coming up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daddy, 5:46 PM : So it is.
Me, 5:49 PM : I need a list of demands in my e-mail by midnight tonight, mister.
Daddy, 5:55 PM : I don’t have a list of demands.
Daddy, 5:55 PM : I’m really not much of a “birthday” person.
Me, 5:56 PM : ………?
Me, 5:56 PM : …? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? / ??????????????????????? ???????????????????
Me, 5:57 PM : Were you born? Are you living? Do you have a birth certificate?
Daddy, 5:59 PM : Yes, I have a birthday, ha. I just don’t care for it as much as you seem to.
Me, 6:02 PM : Daddy, you’re getting birthday bullshit from me. Resistance is futile. I want the list of demands by midnight. Tonight.
Daddy, 6:03 PM : Oh, my God.
Daddy, 6:03 PM : I can’t think of a single thing I even want.
Me, 6:05 PM : Really???????????
Daddy, 6:06 PM : You forget, I’m rich beyond human understanding. What do I want for?
Daddy, 6:07 PM : I have eight cars and a penthouse and all the best things money can buy.
Daddy, 6:08 PM : Not to mention, you. I think I’m set.
Me, 6:10 PM : Make it kinky demands then, I don’t care. Morning, afternoon, and night blowjobs???
Me, 6:10 PM : Want me to wear the schoolgirl skirt?
Me, 6:11 PM : Cook you dinner in my underwear?
Daddy, 6:13 PM : I can’t really say no to any of this. But it’s not necessary, baby, honestly. It’s not even an important birthday. 28, big deal.
Me, 6:14 PM : It’s a big deal to me ):
Daddy, 6:14 PM : Okay, angel. I’ll send you demands.
Me, 6:15 PM : Bullet point format, please.
Me, 6:15 PM : You’ll loovveeeee birthdays when I’m done with you (:

***

Cook me waffles. Not in your underwear. Naked.
And yeah. The schoolgirl skirt.

***

Stiles isn’t surprised by the brevity of the list in the least bit – and he’s really not surprised that Derek is chasing after Stiles’ suggestion to wear that stupid pink skirt that he’s had in the Stiles box for months and months. It’s not like Derek has ever necessarily pressured Stiles into putting it on before or even that he ever would, but he has…brought it up, before. Many times. Stiles isn’t really opposed to the skirt, in the right setting and for the right reasons, but he doesn’t want Derek to think that he can just buy Stiles skirts all the time and put him in them.

It’s definitely a special occasion type of thing. At least he seems to realize that.

He chews on the end of his pen and uses his free hand to grab at one of his notebooks, flipping it open to a page where he already has a pretty impressive shopping list lined up. He adds waffle mix to the list, chews on his pen some more. He taps his fingers on top of the notebook and almost doesn’t notice it when there’s one finger less to tap. Almost.

It’s been a month since all that happened and his finger, or what’s left of it, has almost completely healed. Mostly due to Derek’s mother henning of the thing, if he’s being honest. It’s still wrapped up and will stay that way until it’s all nice and smooth skin, but it doesn’t hurt to move it anymore. He’s trained himself to type his articles with only four fingers and is actually getting his WPM speed up, slowly but surely.

And, more importantly, he and Derek are fine. It was rocky, at first. But Kate Argent is dead and the nightmares have started to subside, and Derek loves him so much and treats him like the most important person on planet earth, and Stiles is…well. Happy might be pushing it, for the moment. He gets phantom limb pain sometimes in the middle of the night, wakes up grabbing for that finger and finds nothing but dead air for his troubles. He can still smell Kate’s perfume in tendrils, every now and again.

Derek is obsessively protective of him. Insists that he sleeps over at the penthouse more nights a week than he stays at home with Scott. Which is fine, by Stiles – the whole only having sex on the weekends thing started to get old, considering the fact that Stiles isn’t allowed to get himself off. But sometimes Stiles feels like he’s being treated like some delicate little bird that Derek has or one of his fancy hundred thousand dollar cars, kept in a garage and taken care of to be shiny and pretty.

Yes, Derek bought him a gun. A very, very nice gun. And yes, Derek tells him more and actually lets him listen to phone conversations and meetings so Stiles knows the general gist of what’s going on at any given time. But he still acts like Stiles is his precious little thing that needs to be watched over and protected.

Stiles can’t say he minds as much as someone else might. He likes being pampered, after all. It just gets under his skin sometimes to think that Derek worries about him so much, like the thought of something happening to him drives him crazy.

With a sigh, he turns in his desk chair a bit and collects his phone from his pocket, still chewing on his pen as he rifles through the contacts. Derek had taken his phone and put in the numbers of his underlings before Stiles had anything to say about it – truthfully, he had thought he would never in his life use any of them except for cases of emergency.

But here he is, pressing the phone to his ear and palming his forehead, listening to the rinnngg…rinnngg

“Hello?”

“Hi,” he sits up straighter, clearing his throat. “It’s uh – Stiles. Stilinski. Stiles Stilinski.”

“I know,” Lydia’s voice is curt and to the point. “I have caller ID.”

“Oh.” Stiles blinks and frowns at his wall. “How do you…have my number?”

“You think Derek didn’t force it on me? What do you want, Stiles? You need something?”

“Uh –“ he runs his hand over the back of his neck, biting on his lip. If he had any other options, he wouldn’t be calling Lydia like this – but Boyd is as useless and boring as watching paint dry and Erica is a fucking bitch no matter how nice she pretends to be just to get on Derek’s good side. And none of his other friends have money. So… “…Derek’s birthday is coming up, and I want to throw him a party.”

There’s silence on the other end of the phone. Because Stiles can’t see her face, he doesn’t know if it’s surprised or displeased silence. She clears her throat and says, “I see.”

“It’s a surprise party,” he goes on, nervously scratching at his cheek. Only one finger scratches instead of two, and he frowns and pushes forward. “So uh – don’t tell?”

“You want to throw Derek Hale a surprise party.”

“Yeah. It’s gonna be Halloween themed because he hates Christmas.”

Another pause, this one longer. Stiles honestly thinks about saying forget it and hanging up, scrubbing the whole thing before it even gains any traction. Then, Lydia laughs on the other end of the phone. She laughs, and laughs, and laughs. “And you’re inviting me?” She asks, still catching her breath around another round of giggles.

A bit miffed by her evident mocking of the entire thing, Stiles glares at his wall. “Well, yeah. Also, I need your help uh…financing.”

“Using daddy’s credit card to pay for his own party isn’t that romantic, huh?”

That gives Stiles about five solid seconds of pause. He hadn’t known that Derek told Lydia (or Erica or Boyd, for that matter) the exact specifications of he and Stiles’ relationship. They know that Stiles calls Derek “daddy?” He can’t decide if he doesn’t care or if it makes him just the slightest bit uncomfortable.

Lydia goes on. “Of course I’ll help you with the party,” she sounds bored, at best. “Do you like dogs?”

Stiles blinks. “What?”

“Do you like dogs?”

“Uh – yeah, of course.” Who doesn’t, he wonders? And then, after that – what does that have to do with anything?

***

Lydia deposits a very small dog in Stiles’ arms the second she walks through his front door, practically thrusting it at him. Stiles cradles it a bit, looking down to see it’s a fluffy white thing with beady little eyes, and frowns as Lydia bursts into the living room and makes herself at home on he and Scott’s couch.

She’s already spreading out a planner when Stiles comes in after her, holding the dog and sitting down right next to her. The dog has seemed to take an instantaneous liking to him, rubbing its head into Stiles’ hand and licking at his fingers. “Derek has about zero actual friends,” she starts, and Stiles is about to open his mouth to argue because, uh, hello, Stiles exists and he’s Derek’s very best friend in the entire world, but then she plows forward before he can say anything. “But he does have a lot of people who pretend to be his friend. I’m thinking you don’t know them so well.”

“Not really.” The dog blinks up at him. “What’s this guy’s name?”

“Marshmallow,” she answers, and Stiles scritches Marshmallow behind the ears. Marshmallow, at least, doesn’t seem put off at all by Stiles’ missing finger. Sometimes when he’s reached out to shake people’s hands or held his hand out to give people something, they’ve recoiled on instinct. It’s…well. It is what it is. “I’ve got a guest list ready and I’ll do the inviting. I don’t know how thrilled Derek is going to be at the prospect of having every person who semi-hates him being made aware of the fact that he’s got a huge weakness now, but –“

“He’s too paranoid for his own good,” Stiles interrupts, shaking his head of the thought.

“He’s paranoid for good reason. I thought you would’ve learned that by now.”

“Can we not have a doom and gloom conversation right now?” He snuggles closer to the dog. “We’re planning a party.”

“Okay,” she says through grit teeth. God, it’s so funny how much all of Derek’s little underlings fantasize about punching him in the face, but none of them can. It’s incredible. “In spite of the fact that they all hate him, they’ll be there. You won’t get a single RSVP that’s a no-answer. Trust me.”

“Oh,” Stiles blinks. He was kinda imagining a really lowkey affair in his living room with a store bought cake and some streamers. It sounds hokey, but he knows that’s exactly the kind of a thing Derek would appreciate. He has lavish stuff all the time; paper plates and pigs in a blanket cooked in an oven after being frozen for three months is quaint, to him. All he’d care about is that Stiles took the time to plan it and make him feel special. “So uh –“

“I think we should book the gold room.”

“Uh….” The Gold Room is like Beacon Hills’ Plaza Hotel – it’s in such a high demand it’s likely booked solid for months to come. How Lydia plans on finagling herself a reservation for some random rich dude’s birthday is beyond him, but he’s more than positive she can pull it off. Easily, at that.

“It’s the only place in town big enough to house this many people for an event. Or at least, the only place in town big enough that isn’t garishly ugly. And your Halloween theme, Stiles, really? I’ve already planned one tacky Halloween party this year, I don’t need to add another to my portfolio.” Stiles slowly starts to sink lower into the couch, holding onto Marshmallow and accepting his fate. “I think it should be red and gold. Holiday, but not too Christmassy. We should have a tree but lightly decorated, lightly, tastefully, right?”

Stiles scratches at Marshmallow’s fur. This was a huge mistake. “I was thinking we could just…have it here?”

“Here.” She repeats, eyes very big in her head. She looks around herself, slowly taking in the full sight of it. They’ve got framed Bioshock posters up on their living room wall. There’s a handful of Stars Wars figurines lurking on the windowsills. A pile of Scott’s dirty laundry stuffed into a hamper by the front door, piles of shoes all over the place, books haphazardly arranged on the bookshelf – she takes it all in like she’s observing in real time a nightmare she had once. “You want Derek’s important contacts and partners coming here?”

Stiles swallows. Lydia has a bizarre tendency to make him feel very, very small. Not even Derek can make him feel this pathetic – probably because Derek actually likes him. “I don’t want those people coming at all? Honestly? I don’t think Derek –“

“Nonsense,” she snaps, and then keeps moving forward as if Stiles hadn’t spoken at all. “I’ll have the cake ordered and the caterer picked out by tomorrow, and I’ll expect you to wear what I tell you…”

Stiles sinks even more deeply into the couch, looking down to meet Marshmallow’s eyes as Lydia talks, and talks, talks. He really didn’t think this one through, not one fucking bit.

***

Me, 4:45 PM : Are you ready to be disappointed
Daddy, 4:48 PM : Did you buy another BMX bike?
Me, 4:49 PM : Worse ):
Me, 4:50 PM : I wanted to throw you a surprise party at my house, you know? Balloons and cake and whatnot.
Daddy, 4:52 PM : I feel the core tenant of the surprise party is…the surprise.
Me, 4:53 PM : Well. I asked Lydia to plan it for me.
Me, 4:54 PM : So now there is no surprise party. She’s throwing you, like, a hell-party at the gold room with all the people you hate and it’s my fault ):
Daddy, 4:55 PM : Ah.
Daddy, 4:56 PM : You see now why I might not be so partial to birthdays, baby?
Me, 4:57 PM : I’m sorry. I was trying to do something nice. I forgot Lydia isn’t really nice.
Daddy, 4:59 PM : First of all, it’s not your fault.
Daddy, 5:02 PM : Second of all, no she’s not. She just sees this as an opportunity to network more, or show off how rich we are and how well we’re doing. She couldn’t give a shit about my birthday, Stiles.
Me, 5:05 PM : Well I give a shit about your birthday!!!!!!!!!!!
Me, 5:06 PM : Even though we have to go to this ugly party now under penalty of death, you’ll still have the best birthday ever. I have my ways.
Daddy, 5:08 PM : Waffles and you are all I need.

***

Stiles pats Derek on the cheek again and again, hovering over him like something out of a horror movie – a huge grin on his face as he pats again, and again, until Derek’s eyes flutter open. He looks annoyed beyond all belief, squinting and turning his head to the clock on his bedside table. Five thirty in the morning. He grumbles, pushing Stiles' hand away from his face groggily. “No,” he says, turning over as if to try and shake Stiles’ grip off him – to no avail.

Stiles clutches harder and grins bigger. “Birthday!”

“Not for another two hours.” He makes a valiant effort to pull the covers back up, to flip his face so it’s hidden in the pillow away from Stiles’ hands and mouth and everything. It all proves fruitless.

“I did the research, pal. You were born at 5:32 AM on December 22nd, 1989 at Beacon Memorial Hospital –“

“Jesus Christ.”

“On this exact day at this exact time, you came out of your mother’s womb –“

“I’m begging, begging for a mute button.”

“…and entered into the world to become…well.” Stiles cocks his head to the side as he appraises Derek in all his glory. He’s not much to look at right now, eyes half closed and a look of annoyance so fucking deep on his face all his features may as well just fall right off. But really, there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe what Derek has grown up to become.

A lot of people would say he grew up to be scum. Stiles just knows him a bit better than that.

“Happy birthday!” He caws, peppering Derek’s reluctant face with kisses. “Want your waffles now?”

“I want my waffles at eight am. Three hours from now.”

“I love grumpy, barely awake Derek,” Stiles pokes him on the nose and Derek recoils, grumbling as he flips back over onto his side and goes still. Stiles stares at his back for a minute, biting his lip and cackling quietly to himself.

At exactly eight, Stiles is waking Derek up again, this time more forcefully. He shakes Derek’s shoulder until he hears a grunt of acknowledgment, and then keeps stroking Derek’s back up and down until Derek’s eyes open all the way, blinking up into Stiles’ face. This time, instead of being grumpy and annoyed, he smiles, just a little. “I can’t believe you’re twenty-eight. You’re almost thirty.”

“I’m not almost thirty,” he grouses, but he reaches up and paws at some of Stiles’ hair affectionately. “I’m young and spry, still.”

“You want your waffles?”

“Yes,” Derek sits up, just a bit. Just enough to lean his head against the headboard instead of the pillow, and then raises his arms to rest his head in the palms of his hands. “Are you going to take off those clothes, or…?”

Stiles blinks at him, making a face. “You really want me to do it naked?”

“That was my imperious demand,” he says this in a mocking tone, smile going mischievous.

Never one to turn down a birthday command, Stiles pulls his white undershirt up and over his head, tossing it off to the side. He stands up from the bed and takes off his pajama pants, kicking them off his feet once they’re around his ankles. He points down at himself, at his very adorable polka dot underwear, and raises his eyebrows. “You really don’t even want me to –“

“Completely naked.”

“God,” Stiles laughs, but he slides his underwear off all the same, shaking his head. “What if Heidi were to walk in and see me, bare assed in front of the waffle maker? She’d hate me even more than she already does.”

“Heidi isn’t working today.” He gets this look on his face – this way too pleased look. Stiles is sure that Derek gave her the day off because it’s his birthday and he expects nothing more and nothing less than to dick Stiles down so many times he blacks out. Which is…more than acceptable to Stiles, if he’s being honest. “My stomach is rumbling.”

Stiles throws his hands in the air. “You’re not even going to come watch?”

Slowly, Derek shakes his head back and forth, a shit-eating grin on his face.

“You literally just asked me to do this to see if I actually would, didn’t you?”

Derek shrugs, but says nothing aside from a quick burst of laughter that he immediately tries to stifle down. Stiles turns on his heel with a huff, vanishing naked down the hall to go and do Derek’s bidding. It’s funny, when the tables are turned like this; typically, Derek is the one doing everything Stiles asks, happily at that. On any given day, if Stiles imperiously demanded that Derek cook him a four course meal wearing absolutely nothing but a bow tie, Derek would do it.

Of course, after that was all said and done, Derek would likely tie Stiles up and edge him stupid, but hey. It’s all give and take, here.

Twenty minutes later, Stiles comes tip-toeing back into the bedroom with a tray in his hands. He nervously moves forward, afraid of knocking over the glass of milk and ruining his entire creation, while Derek watches with an incredibly amused smirk on his face. He’s enjoying every last second of this, from the bottom to the top; which was the point, so Stiles doesn’t mind.

He manages to set the tray up over Derek’s lap and then gestures to his work. “Ta-da,” he says. “Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. And look,” he points to his art work, a huge grin on his face as he watches Derek’s eyes trace over it. “A smiley face.”

There is, indeed, a smiley face that Stiles had piped on with whipped cream, leering at them both. It’s very crooked, and it sort of looks like the thing is grimacing more than smiling. Still, Derek smiles at him with all his teeth before leaning up to kiss Stiles on the mouth. “I love it,” he says, genuine as he ever is. He strokes his fingers up and down Stiles’ bare chest a couple of times before picking up his fork and slicing a triangle out of his first waffle.

Stiles watches, leaning back on his haunches on the bed and nervously chewing on his lip. The fact that he’s naked sort of floats into the background – he’s terrified that he undercooked them or messed the batter up or something even more ridiculous than that. But Derek chews and then takes another bite, so they must at least be halfway decent.

After two more bites, Derek gestures to him up and down. “You didn’t make yourself any?”

“I figured I could just have some of yours.”

With another smile, Derek carves off a big bite and then holds the fork out. Stiles’ initial reaction to having a fork pointed at his face is to reach his hand up and grab it, so he makes a move to do so – Derek catches his wrist and pins it down into the sheets gently. He surges the fork forward a bit more, raising his eyebrows and trying to get Stiles to take the hint.

Stiles does. Derek wants to feed him. Slowly, Stiles opens his mouth, and Derek pushes the fork and the bite in for him. Stiles chews, not breaking Derek’s eye contact, and he’s relieved; they are good. Pretty damn good, actually. “I’m the Iron Chef,” he says after swallowing, and Derek already has another bite loaded up on his fork, bringing it up to Stiles’ mouth. “I think I want to get into cooking, actually,” Stiles takes his bite and chews, chews, swallows. “Can you teach me how?”

“I’d love that,” Derek says earnestly, and Stiles could just melt sometimes, with how sweet and kind Derek can be to him. Even now, when it’s his birthday breakfast that Stiles made just for him, he’s sharing. Beyond that, he’s taking the time to hand feed it to Stiles.

He’s such a genuine, true daddy-dom. It stills blows Stiles’ mind sometimes.

“Can I say for the thousandth time how sorry I am about this party tonight?” Stiles says when the plate is cleared and Derek is just finishing off the last of his milk. “I know you’re really dreading it. I feel like such an idiot, going to Lydia, I should’ve known –“

“It’s fine, also for the thousandth time,” Derek assures him, placing his empty glass on the tray with a soft clink. “She’s a steamroller, and she takes over projects without a care for anyone else’s objections or thoughts.”

“You sound like you really, really like her.”

Derek shakes his head. “I love her. I don’t like her, not at all.”

Again, Stiles is struck by just how lonely Derek’s life is. Doesn’t he ever get tired? Alone all the time, with no one to talk to, no one to confide in? Of course, now he has Stiles, but still. Stiles is his boyfriend – he should have other friends, at least to bitch about Stiles to. He thinks about buddying up Scott and Derek a bit as he takes the tray and the dirty dishes back into the kitchen, but then that would never work. Scott is too…and Derek is so…well. They’re opposites.

He comes back into the bedroom to find Derek standing up from the bed, stretching his arms out and turning the second he hears Stiles’ footsteps padding along on the carpet. He takes a second to appraise Stiles in all his naked glory, looking him up and down with a satisfied smile, and then he jerks his head toward the door of the master bathroom. “Shower with me,” he says, not a question or a request.

“I love the idea,” Stiles says. He walks over to the side table that resides on the half of the bed he always sleeps on – so, his side table for all intents and purposes – and pops open the top drawer. “But the sexiness of it all may be diminished by…the glove.”

He pulls said latex glove out with a flourish, and Derek barely reacts to the sight of it. The glove is what he has to wear over his hand whenever he showers to keep his bandages nice and dry and to keep his wound on the right track for healing. It’s almost done, his bandages ready to be off permanently, leaving Stiles with a nub of a finger for the rest of his life, but it’s still fragile. He slaps that thing on every morning and then tapes it down against his wrist, and the best part is when he has to remove the whole thing at the end and rip half his arm hair off in the process.

Even with the epic boner killer of the glove, Derek takes Stiles into the bathroom and starts the water. Stiles makes quick work of putting on and strapping on his glove, grimacing at the way one long rubber finger just dangles against his palm with nothing to support it. He tugs on it, so it slaps. “Bah,” he mutters. “I should get a handicap parking spot.”

“That is reserved for people with serious disabilities,” Derek says, though not unkindly. He strips himself of his boxers and steps into the shower, so the water pelts against his bare skin.

“My texting and typing is hindered, I say. The greatest millennial disability there could be.” He climbs in after Derek, into the steam and warmth, and then he doesn’t exactly know what he’s supposed to do. He and Derek have never showered together before, and beyond that, he’s never really showered with anyone. He just stands there and gets wet, feeling a little awkward.

Derek grabs at his body wash and loofa, and trust that Stiles has made fun of that loofa before, before lathering it up and gesturing for Stiles to come close. Stiles does, moving into his personal space, and is rewarded with a few gentle passes of the suds on his skin. Stiles leans into the touch, pleased, as Derek washes his arms and chest, scrubbing gently so the water runs with soap bubbles into the drain.

When Derek’s hand drifts to give a few perfunctory washes to Stiles’ dick, Stiles makes a small noise and pushes into it, biting his lip. Derek smiles at him, but leaves Stiles’ half hard-on alone after that, focusing on sudsing the rest of him generously. “This is very sensual,” Stiles says, and Derek grins at him. “We should shower together more.”

Derek’s hmm’s in agreement, and then hangs the loofa back on its hook. “Get down on your knees, and I’ll wash your hair.”

Not needing to be asked twice, especially not to get on his knees for Derek, Stiles complies. He turns, so his back is facing Derek, and drops down into the small rivulets of water created by the spray above their heads. As Derek is scrubbing shampoo into Stiles’ scalp, in a way that has him shivering in spite of the all the steam and hot water, Stiles says, “shouldn’t I be doing this for you? It’s your birthday, doofus.”

Derek massages the soap into Stiles’ hair slowly, spending way more time on it than Stiles ever does for himself. “I think you forget that my main kink is taking care of you,” he answers, very matter-of-fact. “I like pampering you, you know that.”

Stiles does know that. He leans into Derek’s touch and smiles up at the ceiling, loving the feel of Derek’s fingers in his hair.

“Tilt your head back. Don’t wanna get soap in your eyes.”

Stiles does. Derek takes the shower head from the wall and rinses Stiles’ hair, and it’s probably the best feeling in the entire world – he gets chills up and down his spine, the good kind, and his limbs feel like jelly. “This is like being in a spa. Or like being a dog.”

“A dog?” Derek sounds amused, running his hand through Stiles’ hair to make sure he got all the soap out.

“Yeah, you know – a dog’s life is all belly rubs and grooming. Laying on your back, getting scratched behind the ears…”

“I’m happy to fulfill your fantasies of being like Lydia’s pets.”

Derek finishes washing out Stiles’ hair, putting the shower head back in its place on the wall. Stiles opens up his eyes slowly, met with the sight of the shower wall. Derek’s shower is big, because of course it is, so there really would be ample room to come in here some day and have crazy shower sex. It’s a wonder they haven’t done so already.

Slowly, Stiles turns his head, looking up to meet Derek’s eyes. Derek is looking back down at him, cocking his head to the side with a soft smile that’s all reverent and loving, and Stiles just…remembers.

Why he didn’t leave, when other people might have said he should have.

He turns all the way, so he’s facing Derek – and, more specifically, Derek’s crotch. What Derek had said earlier about how his biggest kink is taking care of Stiles is apparently the truest thing on planet earth, because Derek is…hard. All he did was wash Stiles’ body and hair, and here he is, hard as a rock, balls drawn up tight. Stiles licks his lips, looks up with big eyes as if asking for Derek’s permission.

Derek is amused. “You’re the one who suggested blowjobs,” he reminds Stiles with a light laugh, and Stiles shakes his head with a small smile of his own.

He leans forward, taking the head into his mouth. He flicks his tongue against the slit, before taking Derek down as far as he can go, pulling back up and repeating the motion over and over again.

Derek grips onto Stiles’ wet hair with a pleased sigh, and when Stiles looks up at him, he’s got his head tilted back and his eyes closed, just like always. “Good boy, Stiles,” he says, so Stiles gets the same set of butterflies in his stomach he always gets whenever Derek praises him. “My best good boy.”

Pulling off briefly, Stiles says, “your only boy.”

“My only one,” Derek agrees without hesitation.

***

Stiles cooks Derek a grilled cheese and canned tomato soup for lunch – because it’s really all he knows how to make. Well. He’s also very good at boxed macaroni and cheese and microwaveable ramen cups, but he figures that he should probably put at least some of his true culinary expertise to the test for Derek’s birthday.

Even though it’s just about the dinkiest thing on planet earth, Derek eats the whole thing and acts like it’s the best thing anyone has ever done for him. Stiles watches with a thin smile on his face, poking around in his own soup, as Derek inhales his food and compliments it to no end, as if Stiles had just cooked an entire homemade dinner for him from scratch.

“The food will probably be a lot fancier at the party tonight,” Stiles remarks, leaning back in his seat after finishing off his own soup and sandwich. “There’ll be, like, caviar, huh?”

“It’s going to be fucking boring. Like watching paint dry.” He gives Stiles a bit of a wry smile, shaking his head. “You’ll get to meet some of the worst people in this city and the surrounding areas. I hope you’ve mentally prepared yourself.”

Stiles blinks. He hadn’t, actually. Lydia had hinted to the fact that many of the people who would be in attendance at this party would be some of Derek’s “partners” or “associates” or, uh, people he knows from doing various things. Stiles had briefly imagined a handful of arms dealers and drug dealers, maybe a junkie or two for good measure. A sea of black clothing and people who talk like they’re from the gutters.

To hear Derek say it, it sounds like it’s going to be full of…very rich, very powerful, very scary people. Stiles swallows and rubs his hand on the back of his neck. This is what he signed up for.

“Now, I do believe it’s the afternoon.” Derek wipes his grilled cheese-grease hands off on a paper napkin and lifts a single eyebrow. “And I also believe I was promised morning, afternoon, and night blowjobs.”

“I never promised,” Stiles reminds him with a finger in the air. “But since the birthday boy demands, I will oblige.”

“Birthday man,” Derek corrects, pointing to the big silver balloons reading 28 that Stiles had set up in the kitchen before Derek fully awoke this morning. Satchmo is swimming in his tank right beside it with streamers going across the front of his glass, and if Stiles didn’t’ know any better, he’d think he were moderately annoyed about it.

“Birthday daddy.”

“That’s better,” Derek grins, accepting his kiss when Stiles leans down to provide it.

“Come into the bedroom,” he backs away slowly, gesturing with both hands for Derek to follow him. “And we can get all set up. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“Yeah?” Derek stalks after Stiles quickly, a predatory glint in his eyes that makes Stiles’ heart jump in his chest because he loves it when Derek looks at him like that – like something to be held down and taken control of.

In they go, and Stiles pushes Derek towards the bed. “Sit,” he commands, and Derek does, right on the edge. “I have some…supplies.” He waggles his eyebrows a bit as he says this, vanishes into the open bathroom door.

He comes back out with a small pile of towels and a rustling grocery bag he had hidden underneath the sink yesterday afternoon, setting the bag down on the ground beside Derek’s feet. Then, he spreads two towels out on the floor right where he plans on kneeling himself down, and then gestures with two fingers. “Up,” he says, and Derek gives him a critical look. His brow is furrowed, and he looks at the towels on the ground, the grocery bag, and then up to Stiles’ face.

“Just what are you planning on doing to me?”

“It’s a surprise.” Again, with the gesturing. “Up.”

Derek seems vaguely reluctant, probably imagining what kind of a heinous mess Stiles could be about to be making that requires towels to be laid out all over the place, but he complies. Stiles spreads the towel right underneath where he’ll be sitting, carefully arranging it so all the fine bedding is covered up and safe.

“Okay, so – get undressed, and I’ll be right out.”

Derek cocks his head to the side, but his hands go to his belt buckle, slowly undoing it with deft fingers. He watches Stiles saunter into the bathroom and bites his lip, probably knowing god damn full and well what he’s about to put on and loving every second of it – which is half of why Stiles even agreed to do it in the first place. If it really turns Derek on that much, then fucking fine, he’ll do it. It’s not embarrassing if only Derek sees it, after all.

He pulls his pile of clothes out from under the sink as well, shaking them out and appraising them, rubbing his hand on his chin. It’ll do for making Derek horny, at the very least, so he shrugs and takes his jeans and t-shirt off. He’s already got on the lacy pink underwear with the big bow in the back, its ribbons reaching down to his lower thighs, so he just slides on pink and white striped thigh highs, his white crop top, and, last but not least, the idiotic pink schoolgirl skirt.

It fits, which is the sad part. It buttons right up around his waist and sits just perfectly on his hips – which makes Stiles wonder something he’s wondered many times before, when this skirt would come up in conversation. Did Derek buy this for Stiles, months and months ago, just biding his time until Stiles would crack and agree to put it on? It just…fits too well. And Derek has that eye for sizes.

He adjusts himself a bit, stares at himself in the mirror, and pinches his face together. God almighty, he feels stupid. He might as well put little pink bows in his hair and call himself Sandy for the entirety of a scene, for fuck’s sake.

Women’s lingerie – is fine. It looks good on him, and it’s sexy, and everyone likes it. Actual women’s clothing? God, no. But whatever. Derek is a kinkster, and Stiles can play along.

He pops out into the bedroom again and stands there with his hands on his hips for a second, raising his eyebrows. Derek had been sitting there naked on his towel, poking around on his phone – when Stiles emerges, he looks up, and nearly fumbles his phone onto the carpeting. He catches it at the last second, looking back up to stare at Stiles some more, lips parted.

Stiles taps his fingers on his hips a couple of times, shaking his head. “I look ridiculous, but let’s do this.”

“You,” Derek starts, voice very low as Stiles approaches him – his eyes sweep up and down, up and down, again and again. “…do not look ridiculous.”

He stops right in front of where Derek is perched on the edge of the bed, licks his lips and make a big show out of stroking the hem of his skirt. “Do I look like your feminization fantasy come to life?”

Derek swallows. It’s thick, hard, so his adam’s apple bobs with the movement. Then, he manages to rip his eyes away from the skirt to stare up into Stiles’ eyes. “Yes.”

And now, the reasoning for why Stiles did it all make sense. He, personally, feels a bit ridiculous and silly, but not uncomfortable. It doesn’t make him feel weird, to put the skirt on, and it doesn’t humiliate him or squick him at all; he just isn’t that into it. That being said, the fact that Derek is…sorta makes him a bit into it. Just a teeny tiny bit.

“This fits perfect,” Derek says, reaching out to play with the waist of the thing. He runs his fingers underneath it, testing how much give it has around Stiles’ waist. “I really am good at sizes.”

“So you did buy this specifically for me because you did suspect that I would give in?”

Derek shrugs, which is really all the answer that Stiles needs. “Why do you think I got pink? Looks good on you.”

“Pink looks good on me,” Stiles repeats back to him, a little incredulous. “I think purple looks better.”

“Then I’ll buy you a purple skirt.”

“You say that like I’m actually gonna be wearing a skirt for you ever again.”

Derek looks up at him, a grin on his face so wide it’s a wonder Stiles doesn’t go blind staring at it. That, Stiles knows, is going to be a conversation for another time. Derek seems to really, really like Stiles in the skirt, so they might have to actually honest to god sit down and work out the issue. Which is fine. Stiles loves a good kink negotiation.

Without saying a word, Derek takes Stiles by his hip and turns him, so Stiles is facing the wall and looking over his shoulder, while Derek is appraising Stiles’ backside in the pink plaid. “Perfect,” he says, and Stiles has to agree there – it’s short as shit, way shorter than any schoolgirl could get away with wearing to actual school, let’s say. So it sits in such a way that it barely covers his ass. His cheeks peak out a bit from underneath, and the ribbons from his bow hang down and tickle his skin.

Derek lifts the skirt, maybe just to see the whole picture bit better, and then he freezes. “Are – are you…” Stiles grins, ducking his head to hide the smile. “…are you wearing a plug?”

“Yeah,” Stiles doesn’t hesitate before answering, looking over his shoulder with a bit of a blush on his cheeks. “It’s your birthday. I wanted to be ready for you whenever you wanted.”

Derek does another one of those very turned on, very stressed out, very dramatic swallows. Stiles swears to god he can see a bead of sweat dripping down his temple, and it makes him laugh.

“You’ve never worn a plug.” He sounds like he can’t believe it.

“You don’t buy me any? Soooo…”

Big hands grip onto his hips, all possessive and harsh, pulling him around to face Derek again, and then forward a bit. Stiles staggers forward with a light gasp, feet slipping in his stockings on the carpeting. “Brat,” he accuses, but with that tone of voice that’s harsh and gentle at the same time – endearing as it is simultaneously meant to be demeaning. Derek is very good at that.

“Are you done staring at me, now?” Stiles grouses, leaning down to peck Derek on the cheek. “I wanna get started.”

“All right. What’s in the bag?” Derek gestures to it, sitting forgotten on the floor by his feet, and Stiles grins.

He gets down onto his knees, right in between Derek’s spread legs so his hard-on is very close to his face, and picks the bag up. He had tied a knot with the handles, so Derek really has no idea what’s going on inside of it – didn’t even get a peek.

He undoes it slowly, biting his lip to keep the hysteric and anxious giggles at bay. When he gets his hands on the first two objects, he looks up and meets Derek’s eyes, drawing the suspension out nice and long. Then, he rips them out of the bag and holds them out for him to see, waving them around a bit. “Ta-da!”

Derek stares. He looks down into the bag to see what else Stiles has got – stares some more. Then, he looks at Stiles. “You’re joking.”

“Nope.” He sets aside the bottle of chocolate sauce - used mostly to top off ice cream but in this case… - and focuses on tugging the cap off of the whipped cream. “And I got sprinkles, and m&m’s…”

“You’re going to lick candy off my dick,” he shakes his head, a bit incredulous. “I’m surprised, but I think I shouldn’t be.”

“You really shouldn’t be.” Stiles shakes the whipped cream a bit, leans forward like he’s going to start squirting it all over Derek’s body, and then pauses. Chocolate sauce first. He picks that one up and undoes the plastic around the spout, tossing it off to the side. Then, he angles it right over Derek’s cock, erect and big, and douses the entire thing in the stuff. It drips down slowly, and Derek inhales a breath like it’s a bit cold, but he doesn’t move away from it. “Yeahhh, see? You like it.”

“I’ll like it a lot more when you have to clean up the mess you made with your mouth,” he says, stroking a hand through Stiles’ hair.

Stiles takes his time. He squiggles some sauce up on Derek’s chest, on his thighs, over his balls. Then he takes the whipped cream and has some fun with it – drawing smiley faces on Derek’s legs and chest, giving his dick a little whipped cream hat, two whipped cream eyes, and a smile right on his ball sac. The further he goes, the funnier it gets to him; and it’s so much fun to find sex funny and sexy at the same time, to be hard as a rock but to be laughing as well.

He dusts rainbow sprinkles all over Derek’s body, and it catches and sticks to the chocolate and whipped cream. Then, he deliberately places m&m’s all over the place, in as many places as he can find, until he gets bored of it. On Derek’s dick, sprinkled along his chest, by his belly button, and on and on, until he’s satisfied.

He appraises his work for a moment, licking some sauce off his finger tips and feeling very pleased with himself. “It’s my masterpiece.”

“It’s your mess,” Derek corrects, voice all scratchy and horny. Stiles wants him to fuck his brains out, but hey – he’s gotta clean up, first. “Make your pretty, slutty mouth useful.”

“Aw, dirty talk,” Stiles leans in, flicks his tongue against a dribble of sauce that dripped down Derek’s leg a bit. “You think my mouth is pretty?”

Derek’s breath hitches a bit when Stiles licks one long stripe up the side of his cock, collecting all the chocolate and whipped cream and sprinkles in his path. “Especially when it’s wrapped around my cock.”

“Mmm,” Stiles murmurs, sucking the whipped cream hat off of his cockhead and moving to his chest. He has to spend a long time, there, because he really went crazy – it must take him somewhere in the realm of five minutes to lick all that sugar off of Derek’s chest, until he’s clean from the hips up, and by the time he’s done, Derek seems a bit fed up.

He takes Stiles by his hair and tugs him back to his dick, still half covered in all that candy and cream. Not having to be asked at all, Stiles licks. He cleans it as best as he can, looking up briefly to try and catch Derek’s eyes – they’re hooded, dark, intense. They stare at one another for a moment, and then Derek, in true form, is clearing his throat and asking, “can I take a video?”

Stiles nods his assent, and Derek pulls his phone from next to him on the bed. He takes a picture or a video about half the times they have sex, so it’s not a surprise he keeps the thing close to him even when they’re in the throes of it.

He lifts it up and points it at Stiles, so Stiles looks right at the little camera lens as he flicks his tongue against Derek’s balls. He’s sure there’s chocolate and whipped cream all around his mouth, sure that he’s a complete slutty mess at the moment, on his knees in a skirt playing with Derek’s dick, but that’s half the point.

He keeps his eye contact with the camera as he slowly pulls the entire thing into his mouth as one final clean, sucking and lapping with his tongue at the underside. When he pulls off, Derek’s free hand comes close to his face, two of his fingers pressing against Stiles’ lips. Stiles takes the hint and sucks them in, sure to make a slutty moaning sound in the back of his throat like he’s loving every second of it – and, trust that he is. Genuinely and truly.

Derek lowers his phone, so the video must be done. But he keeps his fingers there by Stiles’ mouth, so Stiles licks and sucks at them for a moment more, just following silent orders. “What do you do with all those videos? You just watch them?” He pulls Derek’s index finger into his mouth, looking up and waiting for an answer.

“My life is very stressful, baby,” he says back, finally pulling his fingers away so Stiles can get to work on cleaning off Derek’s thighs. Stiles attacks them quickly, working fast and efficient so they can get to the next part of all this. “I jerk off a lot. Best stress reliever there is. I like to watch these videos and come, that’s all there is to it.”

“Mm,” Stiles pulls his mouth off of sucking chocolate from Derek’s inner thigh. “You could call me to your office, sometimes. I’d come.”

“Yes,” Derek says, the double entendre there not going over either of their heads. “You would.”

It’s only a couple of minutes later that Stiles is wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand, sitting up onto his haunches and feeling pleased with himself. “All clean, daddy.”

“I see that,” he says with a soft smile. His cock is hard in between his legs, standing up right and proud and red, and Stiles likes to see it like that. His balls full of come, tight against him and heavy, and his cock all angry and desperate.

“Would you like me to finish with my mouth or do you want to fuck me?”

Derek laughs. “As if you even need to ask me that,” he shakes his head, and then moves slowly to stand. He bunches up the towel and tosses it off to the side, and then he snaps his fingers and gestures. “Up on the bed, let’s go, baby.”

Stiles does ask he’s asked. He climbs up onto the bed, hefting his knees up with Derek’s help behind him, and moves to the center. “Knees and elbows. Ass up.”

They started saying knees and elbows after the whole, you know. Losing a finger fiasco. It still hurts to put too much pressure on it, so getting his lights fucked out while pressing all his weight onto his chopped off finger just was never an option. So for the past seven weeks, or at least ever since they started having actual sex instead of just hasty blowjobs because of Stiles’ condition, Stiles has been leaning down on his elbows.

It's actually a bit better this way. It’s easier to arch his back and really get himself up in the air. Once Stiles is in position, Derek is kneeing his way onto the bed beside him. He comes forward, right next to where Stiles is perched, and leans down.

He kisses Stiles’ cheek, caresses his hair. Softly, like he’s whispering before a movie starts, he says, “tell me your safe word.”

Stiles clears his throat. “It’s safe word.”

“Good boy,” he ruffles Stiles’ hair, and then straightens up to move behind Stiles instead of right next to him. Stiles feels his big hands grip onto his hips, for just a moment, and then he’s lifting up the skirt and revealing Stiles’ lacy ass for his eyes to peruse. He strokes gently at the fabric for a moment, moving his hand against the plug and then rubbing at his erection and balls, stroking with his fingertips all soft and quick. It’s teasing, that’s all it is. Stiles burrow his face into his arms and sighs, wiggling his ass a bit.

Derek tugs at the panties until they slide down his legs, pulling them off and off so they’re gone completely. Stiles sees them dropped down onto the ground from the corner of his eye, and he swallows and lifts his ass higher.

“Does this feel good?” Derek asks, tapping his finger on the end of the plug.

“Felt weird, at first,” Stiles admits, his voice quiet. Submissive, it gets sometimes. He can’t help it, when Derek goes all dom on him.

“Do you like wearing it?”

“Yes.”

“Then you should, more often. I’ll buy you more,” he pats Stiles gently on his bare ass, once, twice, like he’s being rewarded for doing something right. “Whatever my good girl wants.”

That word girl sounds like gunfire in Stiles’ ears. It’s not just the word itself – it holds no power, none whatsoever, all alone – but it’s…everything. It’s the fact that Derek has got Stiles hunkered down like a common slut, ass high in the air with a plug shoved into it so Derek just has to rip it out and then fuck him to his heart’s content. It’s the fact that Stiles is in a skirt, and knee highs, and a stupid slutty crop top. It’s the fact that Derek has all the control. Suddenly Stiles realizes why Derek had asked Stiles to repeat his safe word, at the start of it.

This is limit pushing. It’s just a word, but in a scene, when there are headspaces to deal with and everything is like toeing the line, a word is everything. It’s the difference between fun and not, sometimes.

He and Derek have actually talked at length about feminization before, because it seems to be one of Derek’s biggest turn-ons, and Stiles likes it himself as well. But the lines started to get blurry the more they talked about it, because again, wearing skirts never particularly grabbed Stiles before, but Derek was super into it. They’ve talked about it, gone over what’s definitely okay and what’s definitely not and what’s kinda…grey area.

And calling Stiles a good girl? Grey area. They’ve never done it before, and now Derek is testing it, gentle and slow. He called him good girl and rubbed his skin all affectionately, still is at this moment as Stiles is processing it.

Stiles’ dick twitches, and he licks his lips. Ah, okay. It’s okay. It’s fine. He likes it. It’s hard to know sometimes, until it’s happening.

Taking the cue from Stiles’ silence, Derek kisses him on one of his cheeks and then lowers himself more. “I’m going to play with your clit, okay?”

“Daddy,” Stiles shudders, that word clit always getting a reaction out of him. “I – ah –“ Derek licks him, using his hand to pull it down from rubbing precome against Stiles’ stomach, licking it again, and again. Stiles makes a quiet whimper into his arms and his toes curl, entire body locking up tight under the pleasure.

He pulls his mouth away to hold Stiles’ dick with one big hand, pointing the head down at the bed. His other hand comes up to rub two fingers around the slit, just the way someone might rub at a woman’s actual clit, and Stiles shakes. “That feels good? Right there?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“So polite,” Derek stops rubbing, so Stiles can breathe out, a relieved sigh to be free from that kind of intense teasing. “Such a good girl. So pretty, in your outfit. Do you like getting dressed up?”

This is more talking than either of them ever do in a scene. Typically it’s just dirty talk, and dirty talk, and more dirty talk – nothing more, nothing less. But apparently, Derek wants him to talk this time. Answer questions, this that and the other thing. It’s likely just to get him comfortable, or make him feel like Derek is still Derek, and he’s right there, even though this whole thing feels distinctly other, and strange.

“I like it a lot, yes.”

Slowly, Derek pulls Stiles’ plug out. Stiles bites his lip and listens to the sick squelch of it popping out of him, all that lube helping it along, and then Derek gently deposits it on the bed. Fingers prod at his entrance, likely red and ready to go. “Good. You are so pretty and sweet, you know that?”

“Thank you, daddy,” Stiles blushes a bit, hiding his face in his arms again. “Please – please fuck me.”

“Absolutely,” he agrees, and Stiles feels the head of his cock pressing against his entrance not two seconds later. It presses, and then pushes, until Derek is shoving all the way inside and bottoming out against his cheeks. The skirt is still on, hitched up to allow Derek room, and Stiles spreads his legs a bit wider, arching harder.

The steady rhythm of skin-against-skin starts, Derek holding onto Stiles’ hips and using both his own thrusts and his hands to push Stiles back onto his cock, fucking him with abandon. He grunts, leaning over Stiles’ body and fucking up at a certain angle that has Stiles seeing stars for a second, his cock dripping precome onto the sheets underneath them.

One big hand slaps him on the ass, just once, and Stiles simpers but doesn’t move away. He likes it, every now and then. Derek does it again, so Stiles’ eyes roll back into his head and he moans, long and loud. “You like that, huh?”

Stiles doesn’t much answer. He’s being fucked too good – he just whines and his jaw hangs open, fingers of his good hand curling into the sheets.

“You want me to put you over my knee sometime?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, mindless. He’s given it thought in the past, Derek spanking him for real, and he thinks so long as they went over it exactly, gave it guidelines and parameters, it would be…fun. “Rub my clit, daddy, please?”

Derek laughs. It’s weird, how he can be fucking Stiles so hard, so fucking intense, but he can laugh. When he gets into domspace, he’s…a little nutty, if Stiles is being honest. He’s all powerful, all controlling, and at the same time, all soft. He laughs and smiles and strokes Stiles all gentle and gives Stiles what he asks for, if Stiles asks nicely. That’s all Derek wants – Stiles’ respect. Please and thank you, and a good blowjob, and Stiles on his knees. “Of course,” he obliges, wrapping his hand around Stiles’ cock and stroking in time with his thrusts.

“Oh, my God,” Stiles whines, squeezing his eyes shut and biting down on his lip. It gets too much, sometimes – how good Derek is at fucking, how well he knows how to twist his hand to make a reach around incredible, and fuck. Fuck. “I’m gonna – I’m gonna come, can I? I’m – please, can I?”

Derek twists his hand one more time and Stiles shudders, so close, so close, but Derek hasn’t said yes yet, and he has to wait on daddy’s word. If he comes without permission, even if he begs and begs, until he gets the solid and clear yes, coming is off the table. He can’t do it. He’s pretty sure he’s, for lack of a better word, trained well enough now that he physically cannot come without the go-ahead from Derek.

Still. The thought of coming without permission terrifies Stiles, when he’s in subspace. He knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he’d be in trouble. Because he’s so good, most of the time – so fucking good. He’s never come without permission, not once. If he ever does it, Derek will be so…surprised, he’d bet. And he would probably take way too much joy and pleasure in punishing Stiles in the wake of it.

“Please, please, can I, can I, can I –“

“You can come, baby,” Derek says, like he’s doing Stiles a fucking favor. And Jesus fuck, he really is. The second the words are out of his mouth, Stiles is letting loose like fucking Vesuvius – coming his fucking guts out onto the sheets and crying about it. Literally, whimpering and half-sobbing and pounding his good hand into the mattress.

It’s not too long after that Derek is coming inside of him, and Stiles is still whimpering, for whatever reason, like he after effects of his orgasm are still rocking him to his core. Derek strokes his fingers up and down Stiles’ thighs, so Stiles shivers and licks his lips, opening his eyes back up and blinking serenely across the room at the wall.

Yes, he thinks, feeling light like he’s on a cloud. This feeling.

The feeling of the plug sliding right back into his ass is just something he accepts, no commentary, no thoughts on it whatsoever. He takes it back in happily, knowing that it’s keeping Derek’s come stuffed up inside of him and not hating the thought at all. Derek turns him over, flipping him gently so he’s on his back, and the first thing he does is grab at his bum hand.

He always does this, every time they have sex. He has to check to make sure it’s okay, that they didn’t jostle it or anything, even though it’s almost completely healed. “Hi, baby,” he says, stroking his hand up and down Stiles’ gently. “You doing all right? You did so well. I am so proud of you, asking for permission and waiting patiently for it.”

“Hmm,” Stiles murmurs happily back, licking his lips and soaking in this feeling. “I’m good.”

“You’re good, huh?” Derek sounds amused, cocking his head to the side as he appraises Stiles from the top to the bottom. “You’re in a bit deep. Let me help you out of your costume, okay?”

Costume. That was a very, very deliberate word choice. Derek is talking him down. They did a scene, his outfit was a costume, he’s not a girl, Derek knows he’s not a girl. It’s fine, it’s good.

Derek undoes the buttons on the skirt and tugs it off, tossing it off to the side so it’s out of Stiles’ eye line. Next, he rolls the stockings down and off Stiles’ legs, those vanishing into nothingness as well. “That was very fun, right?” Derek clarifies, looking up to test Stiles’ reaction.

“Fun.”

“What do you need from me? Huh? Talk to me, baby.”

“Mm,” he says, and then closes his eyes. “I dunno.”

Derek is used to having to think for Stiles whenever he gets like this. And really, that’s half of why it feels so nice and good and safe to be in a headspace like this – because Derek knows exactly what to do, and he takes care of it, and Stiles doesn’t have to worry. Not about anything.

“Hot tea? Warm clothes?”

“Please,” he agrees quickly, and Derek rubs him up and down, all along his chest and his arms.

“I love you, so much. You are such a good boy, doing all that just for me. You are the kindest, smartest, and best partner I could ask for.”

Praaaiisseeeeee. Stiles smiles all big and doofy, reaching one hand out to cup Derek’s cheek all affectionate and soft. “Happy birthday.”

Derek smiles at him, and then moves. Likely to go get Stiles some sweatpants, to put the kettle on, but Stiles grabs at him and keeps him from moving. “I know that you think it’s stupid and maybe birthdays – were bad, before.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk too much right now, love,” he suggests, but Stiles steamrolls right over him.

“But your birthday was real important to me. You’re really important to me. My daddy.”

“Okay,” Derek says, gentle, a bit surprised. “You don’t usually say so much when you’re like this. You seem to be uh…feeling a little sappy.”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Need me to stay another minute? Or can I set the kettle and get you clothes?”

“You can go, I’m okay.”

Derek nods, though he eyes Stiles a little suspiciously even as he gets up to leave. “When I come back, we’ll discuss the scene. Okay?”

“Okay.”

Quickly, Derek pulls on a pair of boxer shorts and looks at Stiles some more, before vanishing into the walk-in closet. Stiles can hear him puttering around in there, rifling through his doors, and mostly, he just lies there and pokes at the bandages around his finger. It’s only a moment later that Derek is emerging with clothes in his hand, walking right up to Stiles and shaking the sweatpants out. He slides them up Stiles’ legs, and Stiles pushes his body up to get them over his hips without needing to be asked. “Good boy,” Derek says, and Stiles gives him a bit of a look – you’d think Derek had overused that term by now, to the point where it doesn’t even have an affect anymore.

The problem is, it still does. It likely always will.

Next, Derek puts Stiles in one of Derek’s shirts. It’s too big and hangs off his bony shoulders and collarbones like he just put on a potato sack, but it’s soft and comfortable and smells like him, so Stiles allows it. As Derek is fussing like somebody’s mother over how the shirt sits on Stiles’ skin, he says, “you want black tea? Orange? Peach?”

“Ginger.”

“Ginger tea,” he agrees, propping Stiles up against a little pile of pillows and kissing him on the forehead. “I’ll be right back. Five minutes.” He holds his hand up to illustrate his point – five perfect fingers there.

Stiles holds his own hand out. “Make it four.”

“That’s not funny,” Derek says, even as his lips are curling up at the corners. Stiles shrugs, because it is funny, and even if it’s not, it feels good to laugh about it, now. No use in crying over spilled milk or missing fingers, as the saying goes.

Derek does return in five minutes with a mug of steaming tea, handing it off to Stiles, who cradles it in both hands and sits up a bit straighter. He sits criss-cross on the bed and snuggles deeper into his shirt – feeling all warm and safe, surrounded by Derek’s scent. Derek sits down right in front of him, also criss-cross even though he looks ridiculous, and watches him as he sips at his tea. They sit in quiet for a moment, both of them content to just be in each other’s company in silence, and then Derek clears his throat.

“Do you have any commentary?”

Stiles swallows a big, hot sip of tea. “About you calling me a girl for twenty minutes?”

“Yeah, that.” He rubs at the back of his neck and looks away, as if he’s bashful about it, now.

“It was fun,” he says. “It was – fine. Sexy, fun, all that. It was just roleplaying, right?”

“In a way,” Derek tips his head in agreement, tapping his fingers on top of his knee. “I really want to buy you another skirt.”

“I know you do,” Stiles rolls his eyes. “I don’t hate the idea. Just…don’t get carried away, thinking you’re gonna put me in a skirt every time.”

“That’s fine,” he says hastily, because after all, he’s still getting what he wants. The dude is such a type, it’s insane; of course he wants Stiles in fucking skirts all the time. If he were anyone else on planet earth, Stiles would be laughing in his face, but it’s Derek. “But you had fun, then? You didn’t uh…” he reaches his fingers out to stroke Stiles’ bare ankle, revealed from his pants riding up a bit. “…feel weird about any of it?”

Stiles shakes his head. “It was good. Although, my stomach sort of hurts, now.”

“Because you ate all that chocolate.”

“Oh, right,” he smirks to himself, shaking his head. “I forgot about that, almost.”

Derek reaches out, dragging a finger across Stiles’ cheek. When he pulls it back, there’s just a little bit of chocolate sauce there, and he raises his eyebrows. “I think that was more of a treat for you than me. You’re the one who got to eat all the chocolate.”

“You want some? There’s still m&m’s left.”

“No,” Derek shakes his head, a smile curling up his face. “No, thank you. I just want to sit with you for a little while longer.”

And, okay. Stiles can do that. He could sit here with Derek all day and all night, wearing his boyfriend’s clothes and talking with him until the sun came up, nestled away in the safety and privacy of his penthouse. There is an outside world, Stiles knows, and later they will be forced into it surrounded by sharks in the open ocean, and Derek isn’t always this gentle, especially not with other people.

It’s just so easy to forget, sometimes. He compartmentalizes too much.

***

Derek materializes behind Stiles in the mirror, staring at him up and down. As luck would have it, Derek buying all those ludicrous clothes for Stiles that he would never wear in day to day life actually paid off – he uses them for work, sometimes, and now he’s using them for this ridiculous party that neither he nor Derek actually want to go to. Derek says, “you look good.”

“I know,” he clucks his tongue and adjusts the collar of his shirt. “It’s a shame I have to waste my good looks on this garbage.”

“Listen,” Derek starts, and Stiles turns to look directly at him instead of just catching his eye in the reflection of the mirror. They’re dressed almost identically, in all black – but Stiles has got on converse instead of nice leather shoes, like Derek. “This might go without saying because you might have already figured it out, but being with me…” he gestures his hands a bit as he searches for the right words. “…it puts you in a certain position. People, ah…treat you a certain way.”

Stiles can’t help the smirk that crawls across his face as he listens. “I have sort of figured that out, yeah. Your underlings have practically groveled at my feet before.”

This seems to amuse Derek almost as much as it does Stiles. He smiles and rolls his eyes, probably imagining Erica playing nice with Stiles just so she doesn’t end up in the dog house. “What I’m saying is, it goes beyond just the people immediately underneath me. You’re…important, for being with me.”

He mulls this over in his head, and the first thing that he can think of is Allison Argent. She had been so kind to him, wrapping up his wound as best as she could and holding him and stroking his hair. Maybe some of that is just because she’s a kind person, deep down and all around, but he knows that a large majority of it isn’t just because she wanted to defy Kate. It was because Stiles is Derek’s, and like she said – being nice to Stiles can only be good for her.

Since then, he’s learned that the Argents are a family of illegal arm dealers that had previously been led by Kate and is now headed by someone who must at least be slightly less crazy than she was – but Allison and Derek are tentative allies. The only reason Derek even considered speaking to her is because Stiles told him to.

It’s startling, sometimes, when Stiles thinks of how many of Derek’s strings he can pull with just one word. Lucky for him, Stiles just isn’t that manipulative.

“It might be a little...odd. I’m just letting you know.” He takes a moment to adjust a strand of his hair in the mirror, pushing it a bit in one direction and then in the other, furrowing his brow. “Personally, I think it would be a good idea for you to not come at all.”

“I think it’s a great idea for me to go. You can’t afford to let people think I’m your naïve, innocent fucktoy.”

Derek’s lip purse, but he nods his understanding. They’ve been over this, again and again, but Derek proves himself to be reluctant to have Stiles involved with damn near any of this, no matter how frivolous and stupid it seems to Stiles. It doesn’t do at all for Stiles to be a faceless mystery boy that doesn’t know any better and is left home alone while Derek goes out and does a dishonest man’s work – he’s a sitting duck, like that.

He needs to show his face. Walk into the lion’s den with a big smile, wrapped around the arm of the most powerful man in the room. Half of this lifestyle is simply the politics and hierarchy, Stiles has learned. He could be seen as dangerous just from the way he acts tonight, if he manages to play his cards right.

The venue is huge and ominous looking, especially from the outside, with all its gargoyles and pillars and high floor to ceiling windows. Derek pulls up to the valet and glares out his window, a polar opposite expression from the awe written all over Stiles’ face. He’s seen this place only from a distance before, never been close enough to make out the details. And Christ almighty, are there a lot of details to a place like this.

“This is Versailles,” Stiles says as he unbuckles his seatbelt and a kid around his age in a little uniform comes around to the driver’s side of the car.

Derek huffs. “It’s Guantanamo Bay.”

“That seems dramatic.”

He mostly just grunts in response to that, and Stiles looks somewhere at an imaginary camera to share his utter amusement at Derek’s melodrama. Derek is probably the most mature person in Stiles’ life if he’s being honest, and he’s so in charge and no-nonsense, most of the time. But he can, on occasion, be a fucking baby. Like right now. Lydia has thrown him a hundred-thousand-dollar birthday party, and you’d think he were being dragged through hot coals as opposed to handing the keys to his Mercedes off to a friendly and eager valet boy.

Stiles had said it best in one of their oldest bickering matches – he’s a fucking silver spoon asshole, no two ways about it.

The walkway to the front entrance of the building is paved with perfectly arranged and bright red bricks, surrounded by beautiful poinsettia plants that line the entire walk up. There are trees with twinkle lights in every direction, the building itself is decorated with red bows and long strings of garland. It looks like Santa’s workshop, if he were a millionaire.

“This is nice!” Stiles caws, elbowing Derek in the side as they start walking up through the poinsettia jungle. “I mean, my party would have been better. Pin the tail on the Santa, and all that.”

“Have I ever told you how much I despise Christmas?”

Derek has said as much only about a dozen times. It becomes more clear when they come into the foyer and are greeted with a Christmas tree as tall as the ceiling and Derek glares at it like he wants to set the thing ablaze and take the whole party down with him. What it is that he despises about Christmas so much is anyone’s guess; it’s his birthday month, after all, so what could there really be to detest?

The entrance to the actual party hall, sounding loud and bright from where Derek and Stiles are standing, is guarded by a bored looking girl covered in tattoos. She’s got on a sparkling silver dress that’s very on theme, a headset, and she’s popping bubble gum between her teeth as she wields a clip board and glowers at the contents of it.

Stiles and Derek approach, and she doesn’t look up. All the same, once they’re within hearing distance, she snaps, “name?” at them.

“Derek Hale,” Derek says, and that gives her some pause. She looks up from her clipboard and nearly chokes on her gum, very quickly going from a disenchanted twenty-something tasked with a minimum wage shit job to a nervous, overly excited fangirl.

“Right, of course,” she says hastily, clutching her clipboard against her chest like it’s her security blanket. “Uh – yeah.” Her eyes swivel to Stiles almost manically, and she looks him up and down as if she’s assessing him. “And this must be your uh – this is uh –“

“I’m the plus one,” Stiles points to himself, nudging Derek in the side again.

“You’re on the list,” Derek snaps, in a way that suggests that if he isn’t on the list, someone is going to be in very, very big trouble, even though it doesn’t really fucking matter. Standing next to Derek Hale at all is all the ticket Stiles needs to get inside this party, maybe to get in anywhere. “He’s on the list. Stiles.”

“Uh –“ the girl is sweating. There’s a line forming behind them of people trying to get inside, and this girl is honest to god sweating in December as she fumbles her way through the pages with shaking fingers. Her brow is furrowed, and every couple of milliseconds she shoots Derek this anxious glance like she almost expects him to start yelling at her. Derek, for his part, just stands there stoically and waits, his hand coming up to rest on the small of Stiles’ back. “Yeah – okay. Stiles. Here it is. Stiles is on the list.”

Plus one,” Derek repeats back to Stiles in a disgusted tone of voice, giving him this disappointed look like Stiles had been so stupid.

“This must be your uh – uh…” This again. Why it’s of any interest to her what Stiles is or isn’t to Derek is beyond him, but all the same. He wraps his arm around Derek’s neck and grins, all his teeth out in two neat rows.

“I’m his favorite butler,” he says, matter of fact, and the girl looks between he and Derek again and again as if waiting for the punchline. “I clean the toilets.”

She gapes at him, and Derek moves quickly to sweep Stiles into the party before he can run that gag any farther than it already went. As they move along, Stiles looks over his shoulder and sees the girl looking over her own right back at him, slack-jawed. She’s probably wondering how a toilet-butler has managed to weasel his way into a party like this on Derek Hale’s arm. She is, more likely than not, very jealous.

“We need to keep that one going for the whole night,” Stiles says, nudging Derek in the side for ten thousandth time tonight. “It’s a good gag.”

“Everyone in this room knows exactly who you are,” Derek says, and Stiles turns to find him adjusting the lapels of his jacket and running a hand through his hair. “Not to ruin the fun.”

Stiles looks at the side of his face, a bit stupefied by that, and then takes the time to actually look around himself, at the party, at the room, at the people. He pauses for a moment, even while Derek puts his hand back on Stiles’ back and tries to guide him forward, and just stares. The room is elegant and beautiful and the decorations are over the top, food everywhere in wasteful piles, alcohol, and pretty lights, and the muted noise of a string set nearly drowned out by chatter.

But none of this is the most interesting part of this event. Not even close.

It’s the people. It’s one thing that they’re all the kind of rich that looks rich in demeanor and clothing alone. And it’s one thing that they’re all dressed up as if they’re at the most important party of the year, miles of lace and sequins and glitter. But what really gets Stiles about all of them is the way that they stare.

They stare at Derek, and then as soon as Stiles is in their line of sight, they stare at him even harder. Longer, as though they don’t care that they know they’re doing it. All of them. The crowd parts like the red sea as Derek guides Stiles through it, and everyone stops and turns their head to watch Stiles walk past them, as if he’s much more interesting than Derek could ever hope to be.

Underneath their scrutiny, Stiles swallows and looks to Derek for aid. For his part, Derek is staring straight ahead with no expression on his face, but he does draw Stiles in closer to his body and wraps his arm tighter around Stiles’ shoulder.

“Do I have something on my face, like…?”

Derek’s lips twitch. He seems very uncomfortable, almost as much as Stiles is. “A target,” is Derek’s response, and Stiles breathes in through his nose. Of course. Of course everyone at this fucking party wants to stare at him and analyze him and try and figure out exactly what it is about him that makes him so important to Derek Hale.

The first person that actually intercepts them is an offputtingly cheerful woman in a glittery red dress. She practically throws herself into their pathway, the alcohol in her glass spilling a bit onto the fine marble floors underneath their feet. “Derek!” She chortles at him, and Stiles looks at the side of Derek’s face to gauge his reaction to this unfortunate individual. “Happy Birthday! I haven’t seen you since last year, I think at that charity dinner, you remember?”

Derek looks at her, his face unreadable. “Not quite.”

As if he hadn’t spoken at all, her eyes land on Stiles and go a bit hard around the edges. She looks him up and down, runs her tongue over her bright red lips as if she wants to take a bite out of him or something, and puts her nose into the air. Her smile goes even faker than before, and Stiles is at least pleased to see there’s some lipstick on one of her front teeth. “And this must be your....” she trails it off, unable to find the word just like the girl at the door had been.

Stiles sticks his hand out, the left one, and offers it to her to shake. She looks down at it, all four fingers out on display, and her smile goes crazy. It goes tight and unsure and her eyes go huge. But the hand just hangs there for a moment, in dead air. “Stiles,” he says, grinning wider the longer it takes her to make a move.

Maybe only because she doesn’t want to incur Derek’s wrath, she tentatively reaches out and takes Stiles’ hand. She acts like she doesn’t know how to do it; she grips the fingers awkwardly, as if him missing a finger means the entire hand is bum now, and gently moves it up and down instead of actually shaking it. It’s one of the funniest things Stiles has ever seen in his life.

“And Stiles is your date,” she rips her hand away from Stiles’ at the earliest possible convenience, settling her eyes back on Derek as if Stiles has ceased to exist.

“My boyfriend,” Derek corrects, his tone clipped.

Even with Derek’s icy fucking cold reception of her, this woman is not quitting. She leans in a bit closer, high heels clacking as she moves, and flips a curl over her shoulder. Derek seems unimpressed. “Who did you bring to that charity dinner? It was that blonde girl,” she snaps her fingers, as if just remembering it. “The pretty one. Right? She was nice. And then to that gala Lydia threw, it was that girl with the – well, you remember.” She pokes him in the chest as if they’re in a dirty little secret together, and Stiles’ eyebrows pinch together. She’s annoying the living daylights out of him. “You’ve just brought sooo many different dates to these things, I have trouble keeping up! I’m sure next time I’ll see you, it’ll be someone else on your arm, right?”

And Stiles gets it. She’s trying to psych Stiles out, naming all these random big-titted women who Derek has been taking to these useless cocktail parties for years, like it’s supposed to be some big threat to him, or something.

Stiles looks at her. He says, “it won’t be you, though, huh?”

Derek’s laugh is abrupt and mean. It bursts out of him like they’re making fun of someone in a high school hallway, while she stares at them with her mouth hanging open, as though she’s never been more offended in her entire life. She looks between the two of them, lips parted and drink long forgotten in her hand, and glowers.

“Nice seeing you,” Derek says, leading Stiles away before one of them gets a drink in their face. Stiles looks over his shoulder as they go, eyeballing the way people whisper and chuckle to themselves as if they just caught that entire conversation. “That was Jennifer Blake,” Derek says, meandering over toward, blessedly, the open bar. “One of the most odious people I’ve ever had the misfortune of sleeping with.”

“I thought I was the most odious person you’ve ever slept with,” Stiles says, lifting a single brow as he turns away from Jennifer and the scene itself.

“You are,” Derek promises, a teasing note to his voice. “She’s a solid number two. You’re not jealous, are you?”

Stiles snorts, and then can’t help himself from full on laughing. They’re at the drink table, where a pretty girl with purple hair is waiting to collect their orders. “I don’t really get jealous,” he admits, which is mostly true. He’s never been the type of person who hounds after his boyfriends’ exes and makes sure their numbers aren’t in his phone, or who goes all batty at the knowledge that they’re in the same room with an ex, or any of that shit. No, he doesn’t love encountering exes, but he’s comfortable with himself. “Even if I did, it wouldn’t be of fucking Lipstick-Teeth McMess over there. Frankly, I’m just surprised you ever slept with her. Really, Derek?”

Derek blinks at him, a bemused smile on his face. Maybe to buy him some time to think up a response, he turns to the bartender and says, “whiskey neat and a vodka-soda with a lime for him.” Then, right back to Stiles. “She’s pretty,” he defends with a shrug.

Stiles just raises his eyebrows and makes a face.

“Oh, okay,” Derek snorts, being handed his tumbler of alcohol while Stiles is still waiting for his own. “I’m sure everyone you’ve slept with is a solid ten, then?”

“Tens only. In fact, I downgraded a bit with you.” He gets his drink, sips it all haughtily, and can’t help but burst into a smile at the same time that Derek does. Leaning up against Derek’s side, he plays with the lime floating around in his drink and kisses him on the cheek. “You know you’re, like, a solid fifteen to me. And my ex-boyfriends are scum anyway, so there’s no comparison.”

“My ex-everythings are…colorful,” is what he chooses to say. And god damn, they really must be, when you’re someone like Derek Hale.

The night passes almost as if Stiles is experiencing it from someone else’s perspective instead of actually living it himself. All the people here seem so well put together, smart and rich and classy, but Stiles knows what’s really going on underneath all the façades. These are some of the worst people this city and the surrounding areas has to offer. These are people that do things that would have Stiles’ skin crawling if he knew the exact specifics of any of it – but then, it’s so easy to forget, in the shroud of money.

People do for the most part seem to know who he is, but they do that same thing that Jennifer and the girl at the door had done. They say, and this is your…, trailing off and letting the sentence hang there for Derek to finish. It’s as if they need clarification, they need to be sure that Derek is really walking around with a twink that’s only got nine fingers and calling him his boyfriend. He shakes hands, always the left just to get a reaction out of people, and smiles and mostly just stands there while people focus all their attention on Derek.

The most that Stiles gets are stares and long once-overs, as though they’re all sizing him up. There’s gotta be something special about him, they must be thinking. There’s gotta be something that makes Derek keep coming back for more again and again, when it seems that he’s more of a one-and-done type of a person.

There’s gotta be something about him. The truth is, Stiles doesn’t know that there’s much of anything.

Derek has two whiskeys, does the rounds of the party and greets everyone he feels that he should. He sits at a table with Stiles and they eat some of the catered food, which is, of course, very very good. They talk and sit uncomfortably close to one another, while people try sitting next to them to talk to Derek only to be shooed off by Erica or Boyd or both of them. Derek seems annoyed all night long, pressing his body as close to Stiles’ as he can get it and all but growling at anyone else who tries to get too close.

This is Derek’s life. A sea of people he cannot trust, always trying to get him to trust them if only to get that leg up on everyone else. There is almost no one for him to rely on, no one for him to put his full faith and credit into – nearly no one to watch his back.

The only person he has that he can trust implicitly is Stiles. To most people, Stiles is just the little fucktoy twink that Derek took home like a stray puppy, buying him expensive things and taking him out to dinner because he’s just so good looking and cute. And stupid, they think he is. A little idiot flashing credit cards and sucking Derek off underneath the table. They don’t know how powerful Stiles is, just from being the one person whose word matters at all to Derek Hale.

They’ll find out.

Derek is done two hours in. He takes Stiles by the elbow and starts directing him toward the exit, moving quickly, too quick for anyone to stop him. “Let’s go,” he says into Stiles’ ear, and Stiles is surprised.

He moves along with Derek, looking over his shoulder to meet his eyes. “But they haven’t even done the cake yet?”

“I’m fucking over this,” he snaps, and Stiles would shrink back or feel attacked if he didn’t know any better. Derek is rarely, very rarely if ever, annoyed at Stiles. He’s never mad at Stiles, he never yells at Stiles, and so Stiles knows better than to be affronted by his tone. He’s mad at everything else in the world, aside from Stiles. His emoting can be off, sometimes. He’s a harsh person. “I’m tired of everyone staring at you like you’re a piece of fucking meat.”

Stiles sighs through his nose but makes no argument – he doesn’t really have one, on that matter. He’s getting pretty fucking tired of it too, and this is Derek’s birthday party, and if he wants to leave, then he can go whenever he wants.

Derek seems tense as they stand and wait for the valet to bring their car around. He continues to seem tense as they get into the car and drive away from the venue – he is quiet, and annoyed, and Stiles is unsure what to say for a minute. He understands why Derek might have his feathers ruffled right about now, but he’s at a loss for what to say or do to fix it.

Finally, once the silence has gotten to be too much, Stiles clears his throat. “My party would have been way better than this.”

Derek’s lips quirk. It’s the first time that Stiles has seen Derek genuinely smile in hours.

“There was going to be cheap beer, a cheap cake, and it was going to be Halloween themed. Since you hate Christmas.”

He turns to look at Stiles, smile big on his face now, and he shakes his head like he just can’t believe it. Stiles smiles back at him, leaning his head back against his seat and reaching his hand out to rest on Derek’s thigh. He rubs his fingers into Derek’s skin and bites his lip. “I’m sorry if your birthday wasn’t that great.”

“My birthday was great, before this party,” he says, genuine. “All the time I spent with you – that’s what matters to me. None of this bullshit with all the money and the pomp and circumstance, none of that matters to me.” He slows to a stop sign, so they can turn and look at one another right in the eyes. Derek strokes his fingers across Stiles’ cheek once, drifting them down along his neck where the choker and the little blue fish are resting against his skin. “My time alone with you is all that matters to me.”

Stiles leans into his touch and sighs in contentment. Things are – well. There really aren’t words for what things between he and Derek are like, anymore. They’re just them, and they’re fucked up and weird, but Stiles has never felt more safe with anyone in his entire life.

That’s foolish. Love is, most of the time.

Chapter Text

Me, 4:45 PM : There’s an emergency ): I am…horny as fuck
Daddy, 4:46 PM : That’s not news.
Me, 4:46 PM : I am really, really turned on. I’m lowkey embarrassed to be texting you like this, but I’m in a bad place
Me, 4:47 PM : I no joke need to come. Like NEED to.
Me, 4:47 PM : Can I touch myself just this once plz plz plz plz
Daddy, 4:48 PM : Ha. No.
Me, 4:49 PM : Daddy please, please PLEASSSEEEE
Daddy, 4:51 PM : Seriously? Just take a cold shower, you’re not coming.
Me, 4:53 PM : I NEED TO COME I’M NOT KIDDING LIKE THIS IS CAPS LOCK SERIOUS. I AM BEGGING YOU DADDY PLEASE 911 911 911 911
Daddy, 4:54 PM : Jesus. Fucking. CHRIST.
Daddy, 4:54 PM : Come to my office and I’ll get you off, holy shit.
Me, 4:55 PM : (:

***

Stiles has never actually been in Derek’s office building before. He knows where it is and has seen it, but never set foot inside the actual place. It’s pretty nondescript – in a tallish building at the edge of downtown, big windows and a nice little courtyard out front with a hot dog man and some potted greenery. Stiles inspects the building map in the main lobby when he gets inside, greeted by a waving Santa and mistletoe hanging right over his head – it’s Christmas Eve. Stiles got the day off, of course, but Derek is Mr. Work, so he’s been holed up in his office pretty much ever since his birthday party ended.

Stiles hasn’t come in two days. These days, that’s a long time.

He finds the title of Derek’s business and elevators his way up to the floor indicated. The doors open to a cheery little enclave with a secretary puttering away on her keyboard, chewing on a pen sticking out of her mouth and seriously considering something on her computer screen. Stiles approaches, and she looks up at the sound of footsteps.

Her face goes from bored to excited in a split second, pen dropping out of her mouth as she gives him a grand wave, ripping her headset off her ear. “Hi!” She all but screams at him, and Stiles stops short in his place. He gives her a nervous smile, a bit put off by her enthusiasm. She grins wide and waves some more. “You must be Stiles!”

“Uh –“

“Mr. Hale is expecting you!” She says this like she’s announcing the birth of Christ herself. “I’ve heard a lot about you, well not a lot, just general information, and it’s so great that Mr. Hale has a boyfriend now he’s a loott easier to deal with now that he’s – well. You know.”

Stiles stares at her for a moment with a polite smile. This is the strangest person he’s ever met in his life – and not because her unbridled optimism and sunny disposition is in and of itself off putting. But that, coupled with the fact that she’s, of all people, Derek’s secretary. Derek Hale’s secretary. Sitting up here with three bowls of rainbow candy in a bright pink sweater with sequins on it grinning from ear to ear like she’s constantly on a caffeine high…that’s fucking weird. He wonders how Derek doesn’t snap her neck on principle alone.

Before Stiles can get a word in edgewise, she’s got her headset back on and is pressing a button on it pointedly, not breaking Stiles’ eye contact. “Mr. Hale!” She shouts into it, and Stiles watches as she smiles wide and gives Stiles an encouraging nod. “Stiles is here! Ookkkaayyy, roger that!” She beckons him down the hall, pointing again and again in the same direction. “Go on down! Last door on your left, right next to the water cooler, his name is on the door, you can’t miss it!”

Her peppy voice follows him down the hallway, and Stiles breathes out a sigh of relief. She’s okay, he guesses, but it was remarkably uncomfortable for him to be standing there talking to a girl who seems like her favorite past time is baking cookies and collecting unicorn figurines while he has a raging hard on tucked into the elastic of his underwear.

He comes to the last door on the left, which does indeed have Derek’s name emblazoned on a placard on the front of it, and he knocks twice. There’s a pause, and then Derek’s voice calls for him to come in, and so he does.

There’s nothing spectacular about Derek’s office. There’s a window and a ficus, a bookshelf and a desk and a spinny chair that Derek is occupying. He’s got a computer and a phone and all kinds of folders piled up around his desk, and a couple of picture frames. He has no framed pictures at his apartment that Stiles has noticed, so when he spots them, he kinda zeroes in on them and tries not to be too weird about studying them.

“Daddy,” Stiles greets, closing the door behind him with a thump. Derek leans back in his chair and clicks a pen, again, and again, and again. “Your secretary. She samples the product, huh?”

“She is a very big fan of caffeine,” he says by way of explanation, shrugging his shoulders as he looks Stiles up and down. He has a better eye for spotting the erection than the girl out front does, only because he’s looking for it Stiles guesses, and he raises his eyebrows when he sees the bulge around Stiles’ crotch. “Come here. Sit down.”

Stiles does as he’s told, sweeping across the carpeted floor to park himself on the edge of the desk on the side Derek is currently sitting on. He leans up against it, folding his arms over his chest, and he bites his lip as he looks at Derek in his little work outfit – nice slacks, button down shirt, loafers. “You look daddy as fuck right now.”

“Fitting,” he says, licking his lips before making a hurry up gesture with his hand. “Pants open.”

Not needing to be told twice, Stiles pops the button on his jeans and undoes the zipper, revealing the lacy fabric of his panties and the head of his erection, popping out from underneath it. Derek smiles when he leans over and gets a good look at it himself, eyes crinkling at the corners. “One of my favorite pairs,” he says, stroking a single finger along the fabric as if in thanks. It’s the red pair that Derek had first got for him; incidentally, one of Stiles’ favorites as well. “Good boy.”

“Mmmhmm,” Stiles agrees, moving his hips up in an attempt to chase after Derek’s finger. “I was promised an orgasm, I believe.”

Derek looks up at him, pulling his finger away before Stiles can get any more friction off of it. He has this look on his face, this expression that Stiles recognizes all too well – it’s his dom face. Which isn’t altogether out of place, for the situation, but it does make Stiles a little bit…anxious. There’s not a doubt in his mind that he’s not going to get away with simply getting a handjob and being let off the hook. That’s just not how it works. Derek tells Stiles when to come and how, and that’s just part of the deal Stiles agreed to.

Stiles half demanding that Derek make him come isn’t in the deal. This isn’t going to be that easy.

“You’ve got two choices,” Derek strokes his hand along Stiles’ thigh, slow and sensual and teasing, and Stiles knew it. Two choices, of fucking course. He swallows and listens, spreading his legs open a bit more as an invitation that Derek all but ignores. “The only reason I’m even giving you a choice is because you did the right thing, and asked me to make you come instead of doing it yourself.” He licks his lips again, a habit of his that he gets whenever faced with Stiles’ underwear – it’s like all he wants to do is lick it, but is holding himself back in favor of other things. “When’s the last time you touched yourself?”

Stiles clears his throat. It’s gone heavy with nerves. “It’s been months, at least.”

That seems to please Derek a lot, and of course it would. There’s almost nothing on planet earth that gives Derek a bigger hard on than controlling Stiles’ orgasms. It’s whatever, because Stiles is super into it himself – and he likes it when Derek says weirdo shit like your cock is mine, because he’s a gross pervert, but that’s already been established six times over. And anyway, his cock literally is Derek’s, for all intents and purposes. And he takes good care of it, let’s leave it at that.

“You’re a very, very good boy, and good boys get special treatment,” he says this, sickly sweet and smooth, and Stiles likes being talked to like this. Derek gently rubs at the exposed head of Stiles’ cock with a single finger, barely any contact at all, but Stiles nearly goes cross-eyed with how desperate he is to fucking come, to be touched, anything. “You want to come so bad, huh?”

“Really, really bad, I swear it’s almost torture,” he pants, tempted to grab Derek’s hand and rub it against his entire dick through his underwear. The only thing stopping him is that it wouldn’t be very well received, so he manages to behave himself.

“Since you want it so bad, you can come five times,” he says, and ah – there it is. The catch. “Or not at all. You pick.”

Five times doesn’t mean he gets to come five times in a nice, spread out, manageable way. Five times means Derek is going to force five orgasms out of him whether his body can do that or not, until he’s fucking coming dry and dehydrated and sweaty and – and it’s too much. Even two orgasms back to back is sometimes a bit much, from the overstimulation alone.

Five? Five? It’s unthinkable.

“You can come five times, right now, or you can be patient and not come until Friday. What’s it going to be?”

Stiles bites his lip and tries to think for a moment. Not being allowed to come until Friday is…absurd. First of all, tomorrow is Christmas. And he had been expecting some wild Christmas style orgasms tomorrow. He picked out a really cute outfit, even. There’s bells. He has to have an orgasm tomorrow, at least one, and he isn’t willing to give it up. Second of all, he needs to come right the fuck now. Derek is sitting there all daddy’d out, domming him just the way that Stiles likes it, and he really thinks Stiles is going to say no? He really thinks that?

“Five,” Stiles rasps, and Derek grins at him. It’s this really satisfied, almost malicious grin. Derek is getting exactly what he wants, and he knows it, and so does Stiles. “I’ll do five, okay? God dammit.”

“God dammit,” Derek repeats back to him, his smile only growing wider and wider.

***

Stiles sits on top of Derek’s desk with his legs dangling down off the edge. He’s naked, completely, not even his underwear left on this time, and his hands are tied behind his back. He huffs out a breath as he watches Derek rifle around some more in his bottom desk drawer, kicking his legs a couple of times. “You really just have this shit on hand?” He asks, narrowing his eyes. “At work?”

“Of course,” he says, like it’s a no brainer. Maybe it should be. Stiles wouldn’t be that surprised if he learned that Derek has some stash of kink shit in all of his most frequented haunts – this office, his favorite cars, various rooms around the penthouse, and on and on. He comes back up and he has a vibrator in his hand, which makes Stiles’ dick jerk in anticipation. It’s an old school big one – he has to bend down underneath his desk to get to the power strip in order to plug the thing in. He comes back and buzzes it for a second, as if testing that it still works, and it does. The sound of it has Stiles’ eyes nearly rolling back into his head, because god damn, he needs that. Right. Now.

Next, Derek fishes a cock sleeve out from his drawer of goodies, and Stiles gets instantly how this is going to go down. It’s one of those ones that hooks onto the vibrator, hugging the shaft of the dick and leaving the head out and exposed – he’s never worn one before or had it done to him, but man. He can fucking imagine. That is going to make him come five times easily. He won’t have any way to get out of it. It won’t stop.

Derek sets it up, and then he rolls a bit to get right in front of Stiles, putting his hand on Stiles’ thigh. “Legs closed.” Stiles closes them, and Derek watches. Then, he lubes up Stiles’ cock with a few quick passes of his wet hand, rubs some on the sleeve for good measure, and slides it over Stiles’ dick. Stiles nearly thrusts up into the thing, uselessly, and then it just sits there, stuck on. Derek rests the vibrator in between Stiles’ thighs, looks him in the eyes. “Hold it, like this.”

Stiles squeezes his legs on it so it’ll stay in place, wondering exactly how Derek thinks he’s going to be able to force Stiles to stay like that around orgasm three when he’ll be very close to crying. More likely than not, he won’t even bother. He’ll just hold it there himself, ignoring Stiles’ pleas for mercy.

Derek stands up, holding that old pink and blue ball gag in his hands. “The only reason I’m gagging you is because of where we are,” in Derek’s fucking office – god only knows what these people would think if they heard shit like this going on just down the hall from where they sit. Nothing good, more likely than not. “This is something I’d normally like to do where you can very easily safe word out.” He strokes Stiles’ hair, before fitting the ball gag into his mouth and securing it behind his head, leaving Stiles chewing on it and breathing through his nose. “You’ll just have to kick me this time, if it gets too much. Okay? No repercussions for safe wording, none whatsoever. You picked this option, so even if you can’t see it through to the end, you’ll get rewarded. All right?”

Stiles nods. It’s going to be…hard. Amazing, yes. But physically and mentally taxing.

Derek sits back down in his swivel chair, so it creaks a little bit under his weight. He looks up to meet Stiles’ eyes, a thin smile on his face as he cocks his head to the side and hovers his finger over the controls for the vibrator. “Ready?”

Stiles nods. Yes.

As soon as it’s on, Stiles is tilting his head back and closing his eyes, quietly moaning up at the ceiling, lost in how good it feels. The sleeve does exactly what Stiles suspected it did, bringing the vibrations all around his cock in a way that’s almost unreal and impossible to describe – instead of just a vibration in a centralized location, like normal, it’s....everywhere. It feels so good. Stiles is still and quiet, while Derek watches him like a hawk. There’s no need to squirm or resist or even be that loud – he’s enjoying himself, plain and simple.

It doesn’t take him too long to come, the first time. A minute, if that. He locks up and whimpers, squeezing his eyes shut, and comes in streaks across his chest and a bit along Derek’s desk. He keeps coming over the vibrations until he’s done, going limp while it still buzzes and buzzes along on his cock. There’s about five seconds, if that, of post orgasm bliss.

That feeling of content and satisfaction. Having gotten what he wanted. Fucked out and happy.

Then, the buzzing doesn’t stop. And he remembers that he’s gotta do it four more times. And each time is not going to be as nice as this one – that becomes apparent, as the overstimulation feeling starts to kick in. He bucks a bit, breathing harshly through his nose, and then tries to relax into it. He can’t lose it at the second time, he thinks, even as his eyes are rolling back into his head with how hard it is to sit, still.

Derek picks up a sharpie pen from his desk. Uncaps it, and scrawls a tally mark across Stiles’ thigh in black ink. One. “Getting what you wanted?” Derek asks, a teasing, mocking tone of voice. “You begged to come, and now you’re going to get just what you wanted, right?”

Stiles nods. Obedience, he thinks, is good in this situation. He sits as still as he can, even while his hands are shaking in their bindings and his legs are wobbling, and endures the stimulation. It takes a while, having just come, for the second one to arrive – he breathes and pants and whimpers and goes stiff from being so still, but finally, he gets it. He comes, again, a bit less than the first time, his body hitching up and then going limp all over again.

Derek draws a second tally. The buzzing continues, and Stiles tries to break out of his ropes. It’s no use, because Derek has always been very, very good at tying knots. It’s his specialty, Stiles is certain of it.

It’s bad enough being overstimulated at all. But the most sensitive, most insanely delicate part of a man’s body after he’s come even once is the head of his cock. It’s torturous to screw with a dude’s head. It is, literally, post-orgasm torture. Torture. Stiles cannot stress it enough.

It only makes sense then, that as time three is building up and getting very difficult to deal with, Derek reaches out and rubs gently with two fingers at Stiles’ head. That is, plain and simple, the worst thing that’s ever happened to Stiles. He half-screams behind his gag, angling his body away from Derek’s touch as best as he can, to no avail. “Shhh,” Derek coos, pulling his hand away for just a moment. Compared to that, the vibrator stimulation feels easy to deal with, so he relaxes and breathes gently, unwinding. Then, Derek’s fingers are back, and Stiles swears to God he nearly safe words out. Nearly. “That hurt?”

Stiles nods. It’s a very hard feeling to explain, in all honesty, and pain isn’t where he’d immediately go. It’s…like being tickled too hard, for too long. It almost feels like his dick is going to come off, or something. He makes desperate pleading noises behind his gag, and Derek pulls away and gently pats him on his thighs.

It’s not too long after that Stiles is coming again, three pathetic little spurts that don’t even really feel good. It’s forced out of him, for the most part, and he almost starts crying. Derek draws the third tally mark, and gives Stiles a few pats on the cheek. “My good boy,” he praises, and Stiles nods mindlessly. He had better be a good fucking boy, putting up with this shit.

He comes dry on time number four, his dick twitching and his balls aching. It’s a wonder, it really is, that Stiles’ cock even manages to stay hard for the fifth time, but it does. It stays erect and angry-red looking from all the touching and rubbing and vibrating, his thighs covered in his own come, Derek watching him still with hooded eyes and a serious set to his mouth. He looks so fucking serious, which would be funny given the situation if Stiles had any humor left in him at all.

Derek’s fingers come up and stroke along his thigh, right where the four tally marks are lined up on his skin. Stiles guesses it’s meant to be some kind of a comfort, but he’s so tired. He can’t come one more time, he knows he can’t. It’s physically impossible, his body can’t do it, he’s tapped out, he’s fucking done. He could wind up sitting here for hours, and hours, until the vibrator manages to wring one last orgasm out of him like squeezing at a limp wet towel. It’s the least sexy imagery Stiles can imagine, even as Derek is still staring at him like that.

More likely than not, he is waiting for that safe word. He’s watching Stiles’ every twitch and struggle and movement, hanging on to make sure Stiles isn’t about to crack. Honestly, Stiles is about to crack. Right down the fucking middle.

Even though it’s impossible and even though Stiles is as good as dead, the fifth orgasm befalls him like a thief in the night. It happens, happens, happens, paired with a truly devastating whining-grunt from Stiles and a dry-come, legs shaking and body jerking with his eyes closed. This is, truly, the most wrung out he’s ever been in his life. Like, literally wrung out. His balls have been depleted.

As soon as it’s over and tally number five is on his skin, everything stops. It almost feels surreal to be free of the vibrator, to have the sleeve sliding off with a slick pop. For just a minute there it seemed like his fate was sealed. Trapped in Derek’s office in BDSM heaven-hell (because when it comes to the pleasure/pain phenomenon, it’s always both, isn’t it?) with Derek’s dark eyes on him for the rest of eternity.

But Stiles’ wrists get untied and the gag comes off. It ends and Stiles is free, but he can’t…move. His legs are popsicle sticks and he is just the popsicle, dripping and useless.

“Let’s get cleaned up,” Derek says, and Stiles is fairly certain he has said more than that in the last thirty seconds, but he’s either missed all of it or forgotten it already. He usually goes off on a litany about how great Stiles is immediately after a scene that intense, and Stiles is sure that he did that, he had to have done that, but he fucking missed it, and he could cry because of it. Derek pulls a pack of wet hand towels seemingly from out of nowhere, like magic, and quickly tugs one out and sets to work sopping up come. It’s so gross. Fucking god, it’s gross, just like they are.

He swipes and swipes at Stiles’ first leg, at his chest, and then moves onto the next. Stiles, for whatever possible reason, is upset almost instantly as the gentle wiping starts up right on his thigh. “Don’t erase my tallies,” he snaps, and it might have come off a lot more venomous if only he didn’t feel so kittenish right now.

“I wouldn’t erase your tallies,” Derek says as if it’s not stupid or childish or only coming from a weird place inside of Stiles’ head. “I wouldn’t dream of it, you earned them.” To reiterate the point, he swipes only around the tallies, cleaning the surrounding areas of his skin expertly with a deft, steady hand. He’s got that same serious look on his face, Stiles notes, but more importantly, he’s got a hard-on. An erection as serious as his expression.

Sort of in an out-of-body experience, Stiles immediately reaches his hand out to do something about that. He paws without a care in the world at the front of Derek’s pants, and is baffled when his fingers are pushed away hastily, as if Stiles’ touch is burning Derek, or something. “No,” Derek says, and at Stiles’ wide-eyed and likely hurt expression, he curls his own fingers around Stiles’ and softens his tone a bit. “No, this is about you.”

About him.

“This is your time,” Derek goes on as he stands from his chair and hooks one arm underneath Stiles’ dangling legs. Before Stiles has anything to say about it, he’s being picked up and carried off to a comfortable looking couch set up on the opposite end of the office. The pillows are mostly for decoration, so when Stiles plops down on top of one he makes a face and Derek smiles. “My office isn’t the best place for aftercare,” he says with that really handsome and really charming smile that always makes Stiles’ heart speed up.

Derek feeds Stiles water and ignores a phone call or two, sitting next to him on the couch and warming him up with his body heat. Stiles feels a little silly as the time goes on, sitting naked in a professional office space, and that’s how he knows he’s starting to come out of it. He sips on his fourth cup of water from the cooler and focuses on Derek’s hand running through his hair in a rhythmic way – again, and again, in the same way, the same pace, over and over, soothing like all repetitive and sure motions are.

“You took all my bodily fluids,” Stiles accuses in a low voice, and Derek’s hand stills. “I’m a shell.”

“Are you okay?” He ignores the joke, jumping right into the serious stuff as soon as he figures Stiles is okay enough to string together full sentences.

“I’ll never be able to reproduce again because my sperm is gone, but –“

“Hey,” Derek takes him by his chin, fingers a bit calloused and rough from doing things that Stiles pushes to the back of his mind and pretends he’s accepted, and makes Stiles look him in the eyes. Stiles does, brown to hazel, and blinks at the part of Derek’s lips and the furrow of his brow. “I’m not kidding with you, my love. I need to hear you’re all right.”

Derek is almost never like this after a scene, but then that’s only because they’ve never really done anything so completely physically straining before. It took a lot of him, and Derek knows that and boy does Stiles ever fucking know it, so Derek is right; it’s not a time for Stiles’ fuck-off jokes. “I’m okay,” Stiles says, leaning back so his neck dangles off the back of the couch. “I just came five times, I’m phenomenal.”

“You enjoyed that?”

“Uh –“ he makes a clicking sound with his tongue as he thinks, casting his eyes across the room, back to those pictures on Derek’s desk. “Yeah?”

“You do not sound sure.”

“When I ran out of come, I started spitting my brain cells out through my dick, so forgive me.”

Derek huffs a laugh, shaking his head and pressing his forehead against the side of Stiles’ face. He kisses Stiles’ cheek, a soft graze of his lips that leaves a damp spot on Stiles’ skin.

Truth be told, now that it’s all said and done, Stiles can admit that was likely the craziest, best quasi-punishment he could’ve asked for. It wasn’t always pleasure, not by a long shot, but it was always intense and hot and…you know. More of that weird kink shit they both like, who fucking knows? Stiles has stopped trying to ascertain what it is specifically he likes about what he likes. He just…does.

***

Derek sits in the car with his hands on his steering wheel, gripping hard. He has a twist to his mouth, staring blankly up at the winter sun, not moving a muscle. Stiles looks at him for a moment, holding a tray of badly done Santa cookies he had forced Derek to make with him in his lap, and he can’t help his lips from quirking upwards. It’s mean, to take glee in Derek’s evident and abysmal misery, but it’s also just so…funny.

“How about I say happy things before we go inside and then you’ll feel better about it?” He suggests, struggling to keep from grinning. Derek has little to no response to that other than a single continuous stare up at nothing through the windshield, so Stiles presses forward. “Sunshine. Puppies. Hot tea on a cold morning. Lilac bushes. Kittens and puppies getting along. Bubble baths –“

“These all sound like things that make you happy,” he says, finally turning away to thinly smile in Stiles’ direction. “I’m indifferent to most of those things.”

“You’re indifferent to puppies and kittens being friends. Really.”

Derek shrugs. While it’s true he’s never particularly struck Stiles as a big animal person, that’s just…unacceptable, in his mind. Stiles once spent half an hour, stoned out of his mind, downright sobbing over a picture of a kitten sleeping on a big dog’s paw.

“All right. I’ll try again. Hundred dollar bills,” he suggests, and Derek nods his head like it’s working. “The smell of a new car.” Another head nod, paired with a big sigh like he’s really imagining it. “Good champagne. Diamonds. The way your hands feel after handling a lot of money.”

“You are very good at this.”

“My underwear drawer.”

“We’re about to set foot in your father’s house on Christmas Day, and you’re really bringing that up?”

“I lost my shame long ago, you forget,” Stiles winks and smiles. “He walked in on me jerking off to BDSM porn years ago, dude. When I came home from college in the Summer before Scott and I got our place, he found panties in my laundry. C’mon.”

Derek seems flabbergasted by this information, like he doesn’t even know where to begin with any of it. Likely, the thought of his mother finding his BDSM gear is entirely unthinkable to start with, if only because she’s…well. You know. RIP. That aside, pictures that Stiles has seen in Derek’s apartment and on his office desk have lead him to believe that his family was, uh, religious. It’s almost funny to think about, considering all the other factors that made them the Hales.

“Let’s go in,” Stiles says, popping open his door so the cold air breezes over his sweater. “The faster we go in, the faster we get to the drinks.”

“The drinks,” Derek repeats a bit dreamily. “On a scale of one to ten, how in the dog house would I be if I get shitfaced at your father’s house?”

“Twenty,” Stiles says without even needing to think about it. He climbs out of the car and balances his tray of cookies delicately, before slamming the door at the same time Derek finally crawls out himself. He looks a bit smaller today, for some reason, as though the prospect of having Christmas at the Sheriff’s house is shrinking him down into the smallest possible version of himself. He’s just in a dark black sweater and black pants, dressed the same as usual, but Stiles swears he seems less menacing than he typically does.

Up to the front door they go, passing Scott and Melissa’s cars on the way there. They stand there for a moment, because Derek stares at the front door instead of knocking on it, his brow furrowed and his lips in a firm line. It’s the most pathetic Stiles has ever seen him, if he’s being perfectly honest.

Because he has mercy, he takes pity on Derek and pats him on the shoulder a couple of times, clucking his tongue. “Think about later tonight. You and me, our first Christmas, all that stuff.”

“You realize, if I didn’t love you so much, I’d not be doing this,” he glares at the door a bit harder.

“I know.” He does know. Derek agreed for one reason and one reason alone – because it’s important to Stiles that he and his father at least try, trryyyy to get along. In spite of everything else, he really thinks that they could be civil if they just learned to put some things aside. It might be his rare naivete talking, but he doesn’t care.

All the same, Stiles knows today is a bad day for Derek. It’s Christmas, which Stiles has learned is his least favorite day of the year because it’s all about family and Derek…has none. And he’s at the Sheriff’s house, the house of a man who hates him and would shoot him in the leg given half a chance. It’s a perfect storm of bad, bad times. Which is why Stiles sucked Derek off twice in a four hour period of time before they hit the road – once in the shower, and then once again in the parking garage.

“Fucking cut my balls off, why don’t you?” He mutters, but knocks on the door all the same.

Scott answers, which Stiles is beyond thankful for. A friendly face at the start of this bullshit makes it all seem a little less bleak – though Scott seems serious as soon as his thousand-watt grin fades away and they’re all huddled in the foyer of Stiles’ childhood home together. Derek frowns and looks around himself, looking remarkably out of place in this setting; even moreso than he does in Scott and Stiles’ condo.

Here, he looks like a figment of Stiles’ imagination. Something he made up when he was a teenager jerking off in his bedroom.

“He’s had a beer and a half,” Scott says in a secretive tone of voice, lowering himself down as if to make himself invisible to the Sheriff’s all-seeing eyes. “There’s pigs in a blanket, courtesy of me, so he’s in a decent way so far.”

There is nothing, nothing on God’s green earth, that Stiles’ father enjoys more than a pig in a blanket. Stiles would even go so far to say that, depending on the day, he loves those tiny little hot dogs more than Stiles. This is fantastic news. Pigs in a blanket may be the only thing standing between them and an outright screaming match right next to the tree.

“My mom is here, and she’s a good buffer,” he goes on, and it’s all so fucking serious like they’re planning a heist, “but I see this being uncomfortable either way.”

“Uncomfortable is fine. I’m going for, making it out unscathed.”

Scott and Stiles both set their eyes on Derek, who seems to very studiously be observing a picture of Stiles on the T-ball team hanging on the wall. Scott slowly shakes his head, meeting Stiles’ eyes again, and Stiles knows what the silent message in those eyes is – that this was a terrible fucking idea. Stiles’ main goal should be keeping them apart at all times, he should never let them be in the same room, and frankly, should try his hardest not to mention the other’s existence while in conversations with them.

But Stiles just cannot fucking live like that. He can’t do it. He loves his dad, and he’s probably going to marry Derek. It’s not going to fucking work if they can’t at least shake hands and drink beers together in uncomfortable-but-tolerable silence.

“You brought food?” Scott seems surprised, glancing down at the tray in Stiles’ hands.

“Cookies,” he says back with excitement in his tone.

Scott stares at him, and then the tray. Then, he looks at Derek. “I hope you did most of the work.”

Offended, Stiles clutches the tray tighter against his chest and frowns. “Hey, I’m not that bad.”

“Last time you baked, I nearly lost a tooth.” Right. The great peppermint-bark failed experiment of 2014. Stiles had nearly forgotten about that humiliation.

“First of all, they’re store-bought cookies from a roll with Santa’s face baked into them,” Derek says, and Stiles kicks him in the ankle as hard as he dares. He swore he’d pretend they were homemade. “Second of all, I did all of it. Your teeth are safe.”

“You’re really going to stand there and talk about me like this? On the Lord’s Day?”

With a wry smile, Derek steps a bit closer to him in a way that sort of boxes Scott out of the conversation – which he’s gotten used to. He floats back off into the living room where they can hear voices and chatter, the soft tinkle of Christmas music playing in the background, and Stiles and Derek are alone in the dim foyer for just a moment. The last moment, before heading into the lion’s den. “You have fifty thousand amazing qualities, truly you do. But you cannot cook to save your own life. It’s okay, baby, you’re still cute.”

Frowning, Stiles glances down at his tin foil wrapped cookies – that Derek really did mostly make himself while Stiles ate the raw dough and chattered over his head – and shrugs. Whatever. Derek is a good cook, so Stiles will milk him for food as often as is possible.

With one final kiss to the cheek, Stiles guides Derek forward into the living room, and the holiday starts. Stiles introduces Derek to Melissa, who’s polite and friendly with Derek in spite of her clear surprise that Stiles’ boyfriend is…well. This guy. And Kira is also there, citing something about her parents going away to visit extended family for the holiday leaving her orphaned and now under Scott’s wing. She shakes Derek’s hand with a tight smile on her face, looking at Scott like really?

It’s because he’s so...intimidating. Stiles is this ball of energy, quick and charming and witty and big eyed and unassuming. And by contrast, Derek in his dark colors and furrowed brow and minimal commentary seems almost scary. Kira seems to be staring at the two of them for longer than is necessary, trying to add up what the two of them see in each other, most likely.

But she, nor Melissa, know what he and Derek are really like together.

The Sheriff, for his part, shakes Derek’s hand with a brusque greeting. It’s the most Stiles expects the Sheriff to say to Derek all night, that simple acknowledgment of Hale, and nothing else. Then, his father’s eyes change when they land on Stiles. He reaches in for a hug and a kiss on the forehead, wishing him a merry Christmas and happily taking the cookies from Stiles to place with the rest of the desserts. Derek seems completely unaffected and unoffended by this, but Stiles knows better.

It does bother him, genuinely and truly, that he can’t be a normal guy. He can’t just get along with Stiles’ father. He can’t share a beer and do small talk and have good holidays with his serious boyfriend that he cares about very, very much. All because of who he is and what he does.

“You want a beer or a whiskey?” Stiles asks Derek almost immediately after his father is walking back to the kitchen to set the cookies down. He gestures to the drink table and the cooler, and Derek follows the motion with his eyes.

“Whiskey,” Derek answers, and Stiles obliges. As he sets to work pulling out a plastic cup with a happy snowman on the side and scooping up some ice, Derek looks around himself some more. Kira is hovering by the tree flickering her eyes between Derek and Scott again and again, like she’s nervous about him or something, but Derek pays her no mind. He looks at the couches and the windows and the pictures on the wall and the staircase disappearing upstairs, as if this is all of very big interest to him. “You grew up here?”

Stiles nods, holding the drink out for Derek to take. “Born and raised in this exact house. My mom spit me out in the bath tub upstairs. She was a bit of a hippy, you know?”

Derek takes his drink and zeroes in on a particular picture on the wall, right by the entrance to the kitchen. He walks closer to it, while Stiles pilfers a beer and pops it open, following a couple of steps behind. Pointing to the framed picture in question, Derek asks, “this is her?”

It’s a picture of Stiles and his mother at a baseball game a very, very long time ago. Stiles’ hat is too big for his head and drifts down to cover his eyes almost all the way, while his mother is grinning and happy with a sun tan and her own hat on, holding onto Stiles like he’s the most important thing in the whole world. “Yeah. We used to really bond over baseball, because my dad was never that into it like we were.”

Derek stares, cocking his head to the side. “She looks just like you.”

More like him than his father does, at least. His dad has green eyes and dark blonde hair – so, while Stiles inherited his height and his general stature from his father, his facial structure and features is all his mother. The hair, the eyes, the shape of his face, his moles, all of it, down to the details.

“It’s eerie, dude,” he agrees with a small smile. “It’s a compliment, though. She was – she was really beautiful.” Stiles shrugs, because he doesn’t want to be sad on Christmas, and he is at the point in his life where his mother’s death doesn’t have to be the earth-shattering thing it was for years, not anymore. He can look at pictures of her and smile, now. He’s a grown-up. “You look just like your sisters, from what I’ve seen.”

“My older sister, I think you’re referring to,” he looks away, as if he doesn’t really want to discuss it but also doesn’t want to brush Stiles off. “We’re twins.”

Stiles blinks at him. “You just called her your older –“

“She’s two minutes older. It’s just – it’s what we call each other. Older sister, younger brother. But we’re twins.”

“Oh.” Stiles is surprised. Derek hadn’t mentioned that. But then, he shies generally away from discussing his family at all costs, even the ones still living. Stiles hasn’t missed the fact that it’s Christmas and yet Derek didn’t have any plans to see his sisters, none at all, but won’t bring it up just because he doesn’t want to pry. “Is she the photographer?”

“That’s my younger sister,” he shakes his head, sipping at his drink and then giving Stiles a half-hearted smile. “The one that still talks to me.”

There’s a lot to think about and analyze about that statement, and even more questions to ask. Stiles never gets the chance, because his dad starts hollering about dinner coming out of the oven right then and there. Stiles drinks his beer and Derek slumps a bit at the prospect of having to be seated at a table with this particular group of people, but he walks like he’s going off the plank anyway, moving toward the dining room with the rest of them.

Stiles sits right next to him and then makes sure to wedge Scott on the other side. A united front, to the best of his ability. He presses himself and his chair as close to Derek as he can get, so they’re knocking elbows and touching knees constantly, and eats off Derek’s plate and vice versa. “Get more potatoes so I can eat them,” he says to Derek at one point, who looks at him with a single brow lifted.

“Why not just put more potatoes on your own plate?”

“Because this way it’s not really like I’m taking the mashed potatoes for myself,” he says in a no-duh tone of voice. “You take the potatoes, and even though I eat them, it’s almost like I didn’t because it’s off of your plate.”

“Air tight logic.” He reaches out and spoons some more potatoes onto his own plate, while Stiles watches him and the conversation continues over their heads. Stiles thinks they’re all talking about old Christmases they had or their favorite Christmases or something along those lines; truthfully, he hasn’t been listening for five minutes, focusing only on Derek.

“Calories don’t exist when it’s off of another person’s plate.”

“Since when do you care about calories?” Derek nudges him a bit in the side and Stiles laughs, giggles more like, while Derek sets the big spoon back in the bowl in the center of the table. Before Stiles can answer that question, Derek shovels up some potatoes onto his own fork and then holds it out for Stiles to eat off of.

Stiles does, leaning forward and pulling the potatoes off into his mouth, without even thinking about it. As he’s chewing and swallowing, his eyes trail away from Derek’s face to land on his father.

His father, who’s sitting right across the table from them watching this entire thing. To Stiles it’s not that big of a deal or even that suggestive for him to eat right off of Derek’s fork, but from the way the Sheriff is looking at the two of them you’d think Derek just grabbed Stiles at the dinner table and shoved his tongue directly down Stiles’ throat in front of the entire world. He’s got his silverware clenched in his hands so tightly his knuckles are turning white, his face set in a deep frown, and he seems about two steps away from flipping over the entire table.

Stiles shifts a bit away from Derek, lowering his eyes back onto his own food and hoping his father will just get forget about it. Or, at least, let it go. The conversation has continued over their heads and Stiles isn’t really listening to it, absorbed in his food and Derek’s knee right next to his own under the table.

Blessedly, Stiles notices his father going back to his own food. He’s silent, however, not speaking a word to anyone. Whatever’s going on inside of his head right about now, Stiles could probably paraphrase – stabbing Derek with his steak knife, punching him so hard his nose breaks, ripping his hair out of his head, on and on and on.

Stiles makes quick work of clearing off his plate, looking over to Derek’s to find that he still has a small pile of potatoes and a bit of meat left. He has his utensils set down as if he’s done eating, leaning back in his chair close to Stiles’ shoulder, one ankle propped up on his opposite knee. Stiles eyeballs him for a second, licking his lips.

And then, the worst possible thing that could ever leave his mouth in front of his father…leaves his mouth. It’s innocent, completely innocuous, and it just comes out, unbidden and before he can stop it. All he wanted was a god damn roll. A god damn roll, for Christ’s sake.

He says, “can you get me a roll, daddy?”

Once the words are out of his mouth, the mistake is realized, and Stiles freezes right in his place. Derek reacts on instinct, because yes, Stiles was talking to him, and yes, the basket of warmed rolls is sitting literally right next to him.

Derek reaches to get it while Stiles sits there with his eyes popping out of his skull, and at the exact same second, the Sheriff moves too. He reaches for the basket, having to stretch his arm much farther than Derek does to get to it, and then freezes when he sees Derek doing the same.

There’s this split second of time where Stiles can see it all adding it up in his father’s head. Stiles sits there making a long exhalation that sounds a lot like a tire letting out air, deflating nice and slow as the reality of the situation comes over him. His father looks at Derek. He looks at how close Derek was to the rolls. Looks at Stiles. Looks at Stiles sitting there looking like a bomb just went off.

Melissa palms her forehead and ducks her head low, like she might be laughing but doesn’t want anyone to see it. Kira seems oblivious, still, probably too innocent to think anything of it, but Scott’s eyes are about to roll out of his head.

The silence persists. Derek clears his throat and removes his hand from the rolls, while the Sheriff’s arm is still extended. A staring match.

“I am loving this steak,” Scott pipes up, voice a little hysterical as he shifts his eyes between Derek and the Sheriff again and again. “The steak is – I mean – wow.”

There is no doubt in Stiles’ mind, none whatsoever, that his father now knows that his son calls another man daddy. And it’s not just any man, so sirree bob, not just any fucko off the street. It’s Derek Hale. It’s Derek fucking Hale, the guy who’s been in the station dozens of times with that know-it-all untouchable smirk on his face, waving his money around like he’s immortal or a god and nothing can get to him, putting his hands all over Stiles and most likely corrupting him in the Sheriff’s mind – and this is just the cherry on top.

The final straw. The thing that broke the camel’s back.

In a split second, the Sheriff is up out of his chair. He stands up so fast his seat goes careening down onto the floor, while the man himself literally lunges across the table at where Derek is sitting. He nearly makes it, sending food and silverware and plates scattering to the ground in a cacophony that only adds to the mayhem.

He gets his hand on Derek’s collar, tugs it like he’s thinking of choking the other man out. It’s absurd. It’s completely out of character for his father, and only speaks to how fucking insane the thought of Derek being with his son actually makes him. He’s cracked.

Dad,” Stiles hisses, reaching out to try and paw his father’s hand off of Derek. In the background, Kira is standing from the table and backing away, while Scott races over to try and break it up before it becomes an actual honest to god fist fight between two grown ass men. “Dad fucking stop - are you kidding me?”

“You son of a bitch, you complete piece of shit –“ that’s his dad’s voice. Stiles has never heard him speak like that before, and it astounds him. Even as Derek stands up and rips the Sheriff’s hand off him, even as Scott comes around and pushes and shoves the Sheriff off the table to keep the two apart and separated, Stiles is a bit dumbfounded. It would be funny, if he were watching it, but he’s not watching it. He’s a part of it.

So, it’s still funny. Just a bit overshadowed with the severity of the situation.

Derek is standing and the Sheriff is on the other side of the room. Melissa says, “Jesus Christ, John,” in the mommest voice of all time, all judgment and disappointment and shock.

There’s food all over the floor. A glass of wine tipped over and spilled onto Derek’s pants. Stiles is up from his chair, shooting his eyes between his dad and Derek over and over, hands clenching and unclenching, all the while Derek is standing there with this look on his face. This look. Stiles has seen it before.

It’s the look of someone who has killed people for far less than what the Sheriff has just gone and done to him. The look of a person who has a temper with a fuse so short it’s Lilliputian. Of someone who you really don’t mess with, no matter the situation, no matter who you are.

Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s stiff body, tugging on his shoulders and meeting Derek’s eyes directly as best as he can. “We’re going,” he says, voice low. “We’re leaving, and you need to walk away.”

Derek is still. He’s deathly still, dangerously still. Stiles has to acknowledge in this moment that not only had he not realized just how much the Sheriff hated Derek Hale, he hadn’t realized just how much Derek hates him right back. It seems naïve now, when he considers all the run-ins the two of them have had, how both of their lives center around either evading or hunting down the other one, and really, Stiles should’ve seen a physical altercation coming at some point.

But not today. The Sheriff tried it, and Derek isn’t hurt, and no one’s hurt. No one will get hurt.

“We’re leaving.” Stiles says more forcefully, pushing on Derek’s shoulders to get him moving when he stays still again. It’s slow, but it happens. Derek moves. He turns on his heel and allows himself to be led out of the dining room and into the hallway, his footsteps loud as he all but stomps his way out of the situation. Stiles turns his head as he goes, appraising the chaos of the scene he’s leaving behind, and glowers. “Are you fucking out of your mind?” He hollers at his father, who’s standing back with Scott still bracketing him to keep him from following Derek and Stiles.

“Are you out of your mind?” His dad calls back, and Stiles shakes his head. “I’m not going to stand back and pretend like any of this is normal anymore!”

Stiles can’t. He just cannot have this fucking argument, conversation, bickering match, whatever the hell it even is, not one more fucking time. He’s sick of it. It’s exhausting, and Derek is so angry he looks like he’s about to fucking snap in half like a string being pulled too tight.

He just leaves. Out the door, which he pointedly slams behind him.

***

Derek is quiet. It’s a dangerous sort of silence, paired with a harsh grip on the steering wheel and two eyes set dead-ahead, intense and almost burning. Stiles fiddles with his seatbelt in the passenger seat and stares at the side of his face, waiting for him to speak – but he doesn’t.

And, see, Stiles knows why. He knows exactly why.

He straightens up a bit and sighs through his nose, while Derek speeds through a yellow light, in the middle of the intersection right as it turns red, and nearly rear ends someone in a minivan. He switches lanes lightning fast, barreling through traffic going twenty over the limit, and Stiles rubs his face with his hand.

“Okay. I’ll say it all for you.” He starts, and Derek doesn’t react much. “You want to go back there and beat his face in, you should’ve ripped that place apart and tore his head off, you won’t stand for being disrespected, he’s a cockroach – is that about right?”

Derek’s lips are a tight, thin line. He nods, once, quick and harsh.

“There. I said it. Now, you don’t have to feel bad for being the one to say all that to me about my father.” There’s some more silence, Derek’s face not changing at all, and Stiles reaches out to poke at one of his cheekbones with his finger. “Don’t be angry, it’s not fun.”

“Your father just climbed on top of a table to try and strangle me because you called me daddy in front of him,” Derek says this like Stiles needs to be reminded. Stiles winces, still, hearing it said out loud. What a fucking mess. “If anyone, anyone else on earth had done that to me, they’d be…”

Very badly hurt. You don’t come for Derek Hale like that, and you don’t mess with the people he loves, and there’s a fucking reason he’s the head of a food chain hidden underneath the seediest underbellies this city has to offer. It’s because he doesn’t fuck around. Insults and slights against who he is are just as offensive to him as physical attacks; and the Sheriff had done both, essentially.

Worst of all, it was about Stiles. Derek’s favorite, favorite person, and the Sheriff is going to try and drive a wrench between them.

“I know,” Stiles says, shrugging. “You wouldn’t do that to my father.”

“No, I wouldn’t.” This comes out like he’s fucking pissed off about it, and he likely is. “A year ago, oh yeah, I would have. But now –“

“Now, you’re my boyfriend. And he’s my father.” He raises his eyebrows. “So what are you gonna do about it?”

Derek has been wound up tight, tight, tight, the pressure of his anger pressing down on him from all sides so harsh and hard it’s a miracle he hasn’t burst yet. But in the wake of Stiles saying this, he all but melts. The tension drains out of him, like acceptance. He says, “nothing.”

“Yup.”

“Because I’m in a relationship with you, and how you feel about things actually…” he clears his throat, and doesn’t meet Stiles’ eyes. They stay on the road, locked onto a red light hanging above their heads. The roads are nearly empty. It’s Christmas, still. “…that actually matters to me more than my ego. Believe it or not.”

Stiles smirks quietly to himself; he can believe it, but he wouldn’t be surprised if other people around him couldn’t. Derek Hale, going soft for some stupid little twink he met on the internet? Yeah, that’s about the size of it. Derek is very, very soft when it comes to Stiles. He’s rock hard, spiked, covered in nails and broken glass, for just about everyone else.

But not for Stiles.

He reaches out and strokes his fingers across Derek’s cheek, soft and affectionate. “You don’t get any brownie points for not physically fighting my father on Christmas day. It’s the bare minimum you could’ve done to walk away.”

“It took a lot of self-restraint,” Derek argues, and Stiles knows that to be true.

“Oh, yeah? You got a lot of pent up aggression?” Stiles lowers his hand down onto Derek’s shoulder, and then drags it down his arm, along the soft fabric of the black sweater he’s got on. “I could think of some other things that might help to work that out, you know.”

“Jesus Christ,” Derek bursts out, making the sharp turn into his building’s parking lot. “Your father and I almost just killed each other and that’s what you’re thinking about?”

Stiles shrugs. Whatever. He can compartmentalize.

“You are a god damn slut,” Derek accuses, and Stiles grins at him. “But we’ll get to that later.”

“Later?”

“After,” Derek corrects. He seems to be slowly but surely calming down, bringing himself out of the haze of righteous anger and mellowing out into a baseline. Being alone with Stiles might be helping a lot with that, if he’s being honest. “It’s still Christmas.”

“I thought it was Boxing Day,” Stiles quips as Derek slows to a stop in his usual parking space in the garage. Derek looks at him, an unamused frown there on his lips. “Get it? Because it’s Christmas but you and my dad almost fought, so Boxing Day?”

“I’m mentally gagging you, right now.”

“You love my jokes.”

Stiles’ phone buzzes in his pocket a couple of times as they make the trek through the garage and into the main building, and both times when he checks, he sees his father’s name flashing across the screen. Now, Stiles is an understanding person, and he’s logical, and he’s not stupid. He knows that his father is perfectly right to not like Derek and Stiles being together and he knows that while it wasn’t necessarily rational for his father to leap across the table like a wild animal to try and squeeze the life out of Derek’s neck, it was perhaps somewhat understandable. There are certain things about the situation that Stiles knows he can’t entirely fault his father for. After all, most of the things that the Sheriff suspects are going on…are going on. Because he’s not stupid either.

All the same, the guy tried to physically harm Stiles’ boyfriend at the Christmas dinner table over the word daddy. He’ll ignore the calls for as long as he wants.

Derek notices Stiles hitting the ignore button, but doesn’t make any comments on it. Really, what’s there to say? He simply keys his way into his apartment and in they go – and Stiles runs a hand over the back of his neck as they walk inside.

It takes him a moment, Derek setting his keys and wallet down in the same place he always does by the front door, but Stiles notices something off as he walks into the living room of Derek’s penthouse. He had been here just the night before, eating Chinese food and watching A Christmas Story while curled up against Derek’s side on the couch, so he remembers that there wasn’t a hint of Christmas to be seen anywhere in his place. And of course, there wouldn’t be. Derek hates Christmas.

Now, however, there is Christmas. There’s a huge tree set up right by the windows, lit with rainbow string lights and decorated grandly with gold and silver ornaments, a star at the top, glistening bright. Underneath it, there are piles upon piles of presents, each wrapped in a shimmering red paper and topped with cheap black holiday bows, and the first thought that Stiles has when he sees them all lined up like that is that Derek, without a doubt, forced Lydia to wrap these all for him. There’s no way anyone else but her did it, from how pristine and perfect they all look sitting there, like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine.

Stiles turns to Derek slowly after taking in the entire scene, biting down on his lip to try and keep the outrageous grin from lighting up his face. The first thing he can think to say is, “you hate Christmas,” in an accusatory tone.

Derek, with a big old smirk on his face, shrugs. “You don’t,” he answers, as if that’s all the reason in the world he’d need to give for any of this.

And it’s true. Stiles really likes Christmas, and all holidays generally. He likes decorating and doing seasonal things like drinking peppermint lattes and he likes Christmas trees and he likes presents, and Derek knows all that. He can be, for the most on-theme adjective of them all, a bit of a Grinch when all is said and done, but Stiles guesses that his heart goes right on ahead and grows whenever Stiles is involved.

“Wow,” he looks again at the spread under the tree, stepping forward to examine them a bit more closely. “You got some for everyone under here, huh?”

With a quizzical look on his face, Derek cocks his head to the side and follows after Stiles’ footsteps, moving toward the glowing lights of the tree. “Those are all just for you.”

“What?” Stiles looks again at all of them there under the tree, and he blinks. There are so many presents underneath that fucking tree, piles upon piles of them, spreading out across the carpet like a sea of black and red. This is more presents than he got even when he was a little kid, an only child at that and spoiled to boot, so it boggles his mind a little bit to even see it. This many gifts? Just for him?

“I think you tend to forget that you have a sugar daddy,” Derek nudges him in the shoulder a bit affectionately, before reaching out to card his fingers through Stiles’ hair. “Of course you weren’t going to make it through Christmas without presents.”

“But –“ Stiles sputters for a moment. “…this many?”

God, Stiles can just imagine Derek at the mall on the trip he took to buy all this shit. He likely spent the entire day there, terrorizing the department store staff and racking up a bill so astronomical Stiles would drop the fuck dead if he knew even the start of it, driving off with a trunk so full he could barely close the door on it.

“I figured Christmas at your father’s would go absolutely apocalyptic, so I wanted you to at least get nice things,” he comes around so that he and Stiles are facing one another, and then stuffs his hands into his pockets. “It was all about you, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t get me anything.”

Stiles stares at him for a moment, as a slow smile spreads across his face. “Didn’t get you anything?” He asks, incredulous, as his smile only gets wider and wider. “Didn’t get you anything?”

As Derek looks at him with confusion written all over his face, Stiles turns on his heel and waltzes to the long forgotten and hardly ever used coat closet sitting off to the side of the front door. He pulls it open, looking over his shoulder – “the last place you’d ever think to look,” he explains, and Derek looks mystified.

Stiles bends down, pushing aside some old boxes and dusty outdoors gear that all looks like it’s been used exactly once, to reveal a big cardboard box he had hidden there some few weeks ago and has been adding on to every time Derek wasn’t looking. He pulls it out, sliding it across the carpet to reveal it in all its glory. “It’s not as much as you got me,” he says, pushing it over towards the tree while Derek watches with his lips parted. “But it’s the thought that counts.”

It’s a decent pile of things, Stiles got for Derek. None of it very expensive and most of it just silly stuff he thought would make Derek laugh, but still. It was all bought with love and care, and Derek will know that.

“I’m the money,” Derek says, watching Stiles meticulously place Derek’s presents under the tree along with Stiles’. “I don’t care if you never buy me anything.”

Stiles snorts. “You deserve presents just like I do,” he places the last gift on top of the pile and smirks. “Not as much as me, but you know.”

“Ha, ha,” Derek intones, but he looks very pleased all the same. More likely than not, Derek isn’t very used to getting gifts anymore. What’s anyone supposed to give him, anyway? He has everything, everything in the world he could want – except for the handful of things that money cannot buy. But still, there is something to be said about the gesture of a gift. It’s not always about what’s underneath the wrapping, it’s about the fact that a gift is being given at all.

“Can we open them now?” Stiles asks, gazing across the sea of presents with a longing glint in his eyes.

“I’ll make hot chocolate, and then we can start.”

Hot chocolate?” Stiles is shocked out of his socks. He didn’t even know Derek had any hot chocolate on the premises. “You’re like pod-Derek right now.”

“With Bailey’s,” Derek says by way of explanation as he moseys towards the kitchen at a leisurely pace, hands still in his pockets. Ah, Stiles thinks as he watches his retreating back. That makes a lot more sense, where Derek is concerned.

Derek makes the spiked hot chocolate and they sit on the floor together in front of the tree, picking presents out one by one to open. Derek insists Stiles opens the biggest one first, and so he does, ripping the paper off like an animal and exposing its hidden innards – an espresso machine. Stiles stares at the box for an inordinate amount of time, looking between it and Derek again and again as if waiting for the punch line to come, or for Derek to admit it’s just a box of rocks and he’s playing a prank.

But, no. It’s a real, giant, espresso machine. One of the nicest ones on the market, practically official Italian café grade, all shiny and new. A separate gift is some very fine espresso beans from Italy itself, and another is a series of different syrups for him to use. It’s the nicest gift out of all of them, so it’s no wonder that Derek milks it for several presents on end, adding on to it again and again. Derek must have gone to town in Williams Sonoma, to say the least.

The rest are all general Stiles type things; he gets video games and books and gitchy little things like fresh baked cookies air fresheners for his car, a new pair of shoes he had been salivating over, a notebook with gold trimmed pages.

Stiles is broke and a starving writer still, so Derek’s presents are all very simple. Stiles got him a water gun as a joke, which thankfully does make Derek laugh and will likely be used against Stiles time and time again in the weeks to come. He got him a new tie with a neat design on it, some of his favorite candy, a bottle of the best whiskey he could afford, and a coupon book he made by hand himself a couple of weeks ago. It’s full of tooth rottingly sweet things like one free snuggle and extra kisses anytime, alongside a series of darker ones like one under the desk blowjob and semi-public sex (just this once!!). Derek loves all of it in that genuine way he always does when it comes to the things Stiles gives him, thanking him profusely and kissing him on the lips after he opens each and every one.

The last one comes up, and Stiles huffs a breath as he lifts it up off the ground and places it in Derek’s lap. “Open this,” he says, leaning his chin in his palm and watching with shrewd eyes. As Derek starts to tear the paper off gingerly, Stiles says, “it was very last minute. As in, mere days ago.”

Derek nods along, revealing a white box underneath the paper that he opens up to discover tissue paper. He pushes it all aside, exposing the present there underneath, and as soon as he sees it, Stiles watches as his lips quirk up in sheer delight. “I said I’d buy this for you,” Derek tells him in a low voice, reaching his fingers out to gently play with the fabric of the clothing inside.

Stiles shrugs. “It’s more of a gift for you than it is for me.”

With reverent hands, Derek picks up the purple and white pleated schoolgirl skirt from out of the box. He holds it up for both of them to look at, short and ridiculously slutty, and he meets Stiles’ eyes a bit hungrily. Christ, even just the sight of the thing not even on Stiles’ body likely gets him hard. It’s absurd. “Look, I want to talk to you about this,” Stiles says, shoving aside a mound of wrapping paper and a handful of gifts to scoot a bit closer to him on the carpet. “We need to – we gotta negotiate this, because I wanna understand it.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees, folding the skirt up in his lap like it’s suddenly his most prized possession.

“I like feminization, but my reasons for it are…” he struggles for words for a moment, while Derek listens intently as if this is the most important conversation he’s going to have today. “…I like colors and pretty things. I’m a homo, I don’t know, I like lace and ribbons and bows and I think it’s sexy. But remember when we first started going out, I said dressing up entirely like a girl weirded me out? Like, in a kinky way at least?”

Derek nods. Of course he would remember; Stiles knows he keeps a weirdo journal that logs their kink shit down to exact details. He’s seen it before. It has Stiles’ likes, soft limits, and hard limits all perfectly detailed in neat little lists. He’d say it were psychotic if it were anyone else’s, but Derek is detail oriented and Type A, so what else could Stiles expect?

“It’s because, like, dressing me up like a girl as a kink thing feels…it’s like a kind of degradation? Almost? And you dressing me up like a girl just to degrade me feels really…sexist? You know? So it – I just need to know what you think of and what you like about the skirts. Tell me, so I can understand it.”

Derek grips the fabric of the skirt in his hand, licking his lips. “It’s not about degradation,” he shakes his head, which is a relief to Stiles, honestly. “I just like it when you look soft. I like it when you’re pretty and kittenish, for lack of a better word – it’s not meant to humiliate you or anything like that. When you put on a skirt, you get gentler. I can’t explain it well.”

Stiles nods his head as he listens. That makes sense, and it doesn’t skeeve him out at all. Frankly, if Derek’s whole thing with the skirts is just to make Stiles pretty and gentle, then that’s beyond fine with him; Stiles likes being pretty and gentle and twinkish. He likes Derek being stronger than him. He likes kinky shit, that’s all there is to it. He wants to have fun in bed, nothing more, nothing less. “Then I’ll wear the skirt, when you want me to. I’m willing to try new things.”

“I know,” Derek says, in this adoring, soft voice that Stiles sort of wants to climb inside of.

“You know what I think we should do?” Stiles scoots even closer to him, so that their knees are touching where they sit on the ground. “We should each get a day a month where we get to pick something new to try, within reason. Like, you get a day and I get a day.”

“Okay,” Derek nods.

“And we’ll negotiate and talk about it and then we’ll do it and see what it’s like,” he thinks about it for a moment, smirking across the room and nearly dissolving into a fit of giggles just at the thought of it. “I love sex, dude. I’m so happy I found someone to do kink shit with.”

“I already know what I want to do for my day,” Derek blurts, and Stiles raises his eyebrows. Jesus Christ, he thinks, watching Derek caress that fucking skirt. The man is such a fucking weirdo daddy-dom, it’s not even funny sometimes. “I want to pick an outfit for you and I want you to wear it all day.”

“All day? Like…”

“Just around the apartment,” he corrects quickly, before Stiles can conjure up images of Derek forcing Stiles to go out in some fetish shit. Stiles’ humiliation kink extends to Derek’s eyes only; public humiliation is faarrrr from his thing, and Derek knows it well.

“But then how long is the scene?”

Derek blinks at him. “All day,” he repeats, and Stiles is quiet for a moment. The longest scene he thinks he and Derek have ever had was maybe a couple of hours, sex extended only by Derek dirty talking to him and putting him deep in a headspace. Even then, Stiles remembers it being particularly intense – fun and satisfying like you wouldn’t believe, but intense all the same. Long periods of being in subspace do tend to make Stiles nervous, because it’s almost like losing control, or giving it entirely up to someone else. It’s nerve-wracking.

But the thing is, Stiles trusts Derek almost implicitly. To the point where he’d let Derek do just about anything within reason to him, so long as they talked about it first. He would never, never even if his life depended on it, purposefully do anything to freak Stiles out in a scene.

Stiles’ silence must read to Derek like hesitation, because he sweetens the deal a bit, leaning closer and smiling at him. “I’ll make you come again and again. No over-stimulation, no edging, just…whatever you want.”

Now that, Stiles can’t say no to. He’s been living a five orgasms at most a week life for months now, which is fine and good enough – but not great. A single day filled with five or more orgasms, and it’s not an over-stimulation nightmare? Oh, yeah. Stiles can get down with that. “But what do you want to do all day? Is it literally just going to be a normal day, except I’m in a skirt and you’re domming me?”

Derek nods his head. “Taking care of you,” he corrects, and Stiles swallows.

He loves being taken care of. He can be pampered for an entire day. He can do that. “Okay,” he agrees, and Derek grins at him before leaning forward to kiss him on the lips. “I love having sex with you. And I love all my presents, and you’re the best boyfriend in the entire world, and I love you.”

Derek sets the skirt aside to wrap Stiles in a big, patented Derek bear hug. His hugs are the best, warm and tight and safe, and Stiles melts into him with his eyes closed, sighing in contentment. Even with everything that went wrong today, with his father and Christmas and all that mess, Stiles doesn’t regret his decision to stay with Derek.

Not yet.

Chapter Text

Stiles leans down into the limousine expecting to see Derek. He expects Derek’s shoes and his pants and the smell of his cologne, a tumbler of liquor already in his hands and a lit cigarette dangling from two fingers. After all, Derek is the one who invited Stiles to this shindig in the first place, so it would only stand to reason that he’d be the one waiting on the inside of the car for him.

But, no. Stiles leans in and sees Derek’s front desk secretary, chewing a bit maniacally at a twizzler she’s plucked out from a family sized bag right next to her on the seat. When she sees Stiles about to step inside, she bites down on her snack hard and waves enthusiastically, waiting until she’s finished chewing until she starts talking to him. “Stiles!” She greets, not a note of false excitement anywhere in her tone; she’s genuinely excited to see him. “Nice to see you again!”

Stiles plops down next to her and sighs. He’s since learned that her name is Ginger and she never actually finished college – she’s got a ring on her finger that shimmers in the dim lights of the street as they drive along, perfectly done pink glittery lipstick, and a pair of bright purple six-inch heels on her feet. She smiles almost like her face got stuck that way, ceaselessly and earnestly, and doesn’t say anything that isn’t deeply laced with pep in a high-pitched valley girl voice. “I don’t presume you know why Derek couldn’t come to get me.”

She chews another bite of twizzler. “He is very busy,” she says, and she must say that thousands upon thousands of times a day. Turning people away on the phone or at the front desk, shaking her head and sounding very apologetic, repeating her litany of Mr. Hale is a very busy man, he’s a very important man, you have to make an appointment, he doesn’t have time, not today, sorry. “He said he was meeting you at the club! I don’t spend a lot of time there as you might imagine but it’s certainly not the kind of place he’d let you go into alone, if you know what I mean,” she talks a mile a minute, that sentence finished in half the time it would take anyone else to say it all.

Stiles stares at the side of her face, chewing on his bottom lip and narrowing his eyes. She’s got caked on mascara and dark eye-liner, and when she catches Stiles staring at her she turns and smiles grandly at him, completely unperturbed. Stiles has to ask. He just has to. “Ginger, can I ask you something a bit rude?”

Ginger blinks at him, smile stuck in place. “I guess!”

“How has Derek not either chopped you up into little pieces or at least just fired you on the basis of annoyance alone?”

With a good-natured and hearty laugh, Ginger throws her head back and chortles up at the ceiling. Her body shakes as she does so, and it sounds particularly high and light in the tight confined space they’re in. “Mr. Hale’s temperament does tend to reside on the more extreme side of the spectrum and he does often have very little patience for me, I can’t tell you how many times he’s hung up on me in the middle of a sentence,” she bites into a twizzler for a break to take a breath through her nose, and then starts up again. “But there is one very nice thing about me that Mr. Hale seems to appreciate.”

They slow to a stop outside of a familiar looking building, people flocked around outside smoking cigarettes and drinking out of beer bottles or dark black tumblers. Stiles doesn’t look around, because he doesn’t have to; he’s been here before. Used to come all the time, as a matter of fact. He just looks into Ginger’s pretty eyes, her full pink lips and her perfectly beach-waved hair, waiting for her to finish.

She does. “I don’t ask questions,” and she says it with a wink, popping open the door on her side of the limo and clacking out in her heels. She slams her door behind her and click-clacks over the pavement to Stiles’ side, while he mostly just sits there, dumbfounded.

Running two operations, one legitimate and one not so much, must be stressful. Stiles always knew that. What he didn’t consider was how hard keeping the two of them separate might turn out to be; right now, this situation with Ginger and the limo and the fucking club…this is worlds colliding. They’re not meeting someone to talk about financial bullshit at a BDSM club, Stiles will tell you that right now, but Ginger is here. In her pretty outfit and smiling face, pulling open Stiles’ door to beckon him out, she’s standing here looking so out of place she might as well be wearing a nun’s habit.

Stiles could see why it might be an asset to get a girl manning the phones who either isn’t interested in what Derek does with his time spent outside of their shared office, or knows all about it and couldn’t care less.

Once Stiles is out of the car, she puts her hand on the small of his back and guides him forward. She sort of walks like a little bird, bouncing up even in her heels so her curls move with every single twist and turn she makes. It reminds him of watching sparrows pecking at the ground looking for worms and then coming back up, that incessant bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce…

“Hi!” She caws at a severe looking bouncer. He’s got nineteen piercings in his face and a tattoo of a snake crawling up the side of his neck, and as soon as he spots Ginger coming towards him, his frown deepens. It’s like he sees her all the time and dreads each and every encounter as one might dread the dentist. “Hello, hi! It’s me! Ginger, Mr. Hale’s secretary?” They’re right upon him now, mere feet away, and he decides to act like Ginger doesn’t exist – focusing all his energy on Stiles.

He looks Stiles up and down, from his converse shoes scuffed up with dirt all the way up to his plaid flannel shirt, and observes him like an insect he’d like to squish. Yeah; Stiles has gotten that look at BDSM clubs before. It’s like if you’re not showing up in assless chaps and wielding a whip or being lead in on a leash, you may as well be going to fucking Church. Which is why Stiles stopped coming; this really isn’t his scene.

Leather and whips and people getting fucked ten feet away from him? God, no.

“This,” Ginger says when the silence goes on too long, her manicured pastel nails digging into his upper arms while she leers at the bouncer with all those straight white teeth, “…is Mr. Hale’s special person.”

Another long, calculating look from the bouncer. “Derek Hale.” He says the name out loud and narrows them, as if he needs clarification. Like he’s not quite buying that the person standing in front of him is really Derek Hale’s boyfriend.

“Derek Hale,” Ginger presses with her eyebrows raised. “He’s inside?”

“He’s inside. What’s your name, skinny?”

Stiles is flabbergasted for a moment, looking all around himself to see if there’s someone else standing nearby that this man is addressing. He finds no one, so he just points at himself and scowls. “Me, skinny?”

“You, skinny. Name.”

He’s got a clipboard with all the VIP names on it, wielding it a bit aggressively. As though if Stiles rattles off a name that isn’t there, he’ll smack Stiles upside the head with it and knock him out, putting him in with the trash to be carried off the following morning.

“Stiles,” Stiles says, leaning over to try and get a peek at the list as he flips through it. “It may also be under Derek Hale’s butler.”

There’s not much of a reaction to that from the bouncer, but Ginger giggles almost maniacally as though she thinks Stiles is just the funniest. Stiles looks at her, and she snorts she laughs so hard, and Stiles understands exactly why Derek has hung up on her in the past.

He runs the tip of his pen down the page with all the S’s on it, handwritten names for the night as they were called in and given to him. Then he stops, seeming a little annoyed about it (he was likely looking forward to kicking Stiles and more importantly Ginger off to the side of the road), and huffs. “Here it is. Stiles.”

With a sweeping gesture, he undoes the velvet rope that had been keeping them from the grungy front door for the past five minutes, frowning as he holds it open for them. “Derek Hale is going to be on the third floor. Try not to get eaten alive on your way there.”

Ginger laughs like it’s funny, but Stiles knows that it really isn’t. His previous experiences at this club in particular have been…colorful, to say the absolute least. It’s anyone’s guess why Derek would want to meet in a place so fucking seedy and disgusting, but then, Stiles has never been on the third floor before. That’s the lounge area that costs thousands of dollars a month to get access to, so Stiles spent most of his time here on the bottom floor being leered at and pawed by people who wanted to do things to him that made his skin crawl. Hopefully, up on the third floor, there’s more privacy.

Last time he came here, he turned around and was very abruptly getting a first row seat to a knife-play scene. To say that he literally fled the scene would honestly be a bit of an understatement.

Ginger leads him inside by the small of his back again, and the second they’re in, Stiles nearly vomits from the smell alone. It smells like sex and weed and liquor and latex, and he gets intrusive memories of being a lonely twenty-something sleeping with gross guys just for company. They burst into the foyer where they keep the shop, a heinously garish place with chains and whips and all manner of, in Stiles’ opinion, torture devices. God damn, he hates coming here.

They go right past it, shuffling through the crowd at Ginger-speed which happens to be very, very fast, and make it to the elevator. Ginger slams a pastel green finger on the up button and stands primly in her spot, while Stiles shifts his eyes around himself and feels like he’s got a target painted on his back as the two of them get stared at.

There they are – a girl in all bright colors and heels with her collar buttoned all the way to the top holding twizzlers in her hand, and a boy who looks like he just got out of Philosophy 101. It’s like walking into a wolf’s den as a couple of little sheep. The amount of eyes he can feel on the back of his neck is absurd, and the hairs there stand up on end the longer they stand there.

Finally, the doors ding open, and they bustle inside. They manage to only have to share with one other person – an incredibly tall girl wearing nothing but a see through mesh shirt and booty shorts. Stiles stands in the corner of the elevator and catches her staring at him more than once in the short ride up, meets her eyes with a tight smile that she doesn’t return. She just stares.

It gets to the point where right before the elevator stops with a big red three above their head, he feels the need to say something. “I’m gay,” he points out, and she barely reacts. She just blinks, cocking her head to the side, while Ginger latches onto his arm and hustles him out the sliding door as soon as they open.

They come to a hallway, first thing. It’s wide and open and has a cooling breeze in the air, very few people mingling about against the wall. There are people smoking indoors which is surprising, but Ginger barrels past them all and goes past door after door, each marked with a number. It takes them only a moment to descend upon a number thirteen, which Ginger screams to a stop at before knocking very hard three times.

A voice Stiles doesn’t recognize calls for them to come in, and come in they do. It had been bright outside in the hallway, lit up with grand chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, but it’s nearly pitch dark on the inside of the room Ginger leads him into. There are lights, yes, but covered up with tapestries with the aim of being sexier or some bullshit like that, Stiles is positive of it. As a result, everything is sort of lit up red like blood or purple like plums, casting shadows in the oddest ways across both of their skin as they move in.

“I’ve got your precious cargo, Mr. Hale!” Ginger chortles, guiding Stiles forward with both of her small hands on his shoulders. She can barely see where she’s going with Stiles’ much taller, much broader frame in front of her, but she manages to guide them into the main room through a short hallway just fine.

Stiles stops short when he sees the scene awaiting him in the room, having to physically restrain himself from bursting into hysterical laughter. He had thought, okay. Worst case scenario he walks in and there’s someone tied to the ceiling getting whipped, and if that were the case, he would just declare himself uncomfortable and flee, likely with Derek hot on his heels anyway. And then, best case scenario : there would be nothing going on. There would be snacks and liquor and Derek rubbing his back, nothing more, nothing less.

It seems the universe settled on directly in between worst and best.

A surprised laugh bubbles out of his throat before he can help it, and then he quickly covers his hand with his mouth. There’s a woman laid out on a low hanging coffee table, completely naked, but all of her most private bits are covered up with, what else? Sushi. It’s one of the most absurd things Stiles has ever seen given the people and the setting and the everything, and he can’t help it, cannot help from laughing. There are couches set up around it and Derek is in one of them, holding a glass of something before he stands up at the sight of Stiles, adjusting his jacket and smiling at him.

The laugh turns into a full blown chortle, because Derek has got a California roll on a napkin in one hand – he took that off this girl’s naked body. Probably didn’t even hesitate, either.

“Here he is!” Ginger goes on once Stiles is almost at the couch where he assumes he’ll be sitting – right next to Derek, across from a man whose face he can’t make out given the lighting and his position across the room. Derek stands, placing his food down on top of the girl’s stomach and adjusting his jacket with a pleased smile on his face as he looks Stiles up and down. Then, so does this guy he’s having a meeting with, slowly rising to his feet after taking Derek’s cue.

The details that Stiles received on what this meeting was to be about were few. What happened was that Derek had said he couldn’t have dinner with Stiles because he had an important meeting, and then Stiles pouted about it and demanded to know why he couldn’t cancel the meeting, and then Derek threw his hands in the air and suggested Stiles just tag along.

“After all,” he had said, stirring his coffee with a thoughtful expression on his face, “it’s good for these people to see your face.”

“Baby,” Derek greets him now, holding his arms out with one of those patented smiles of his that always make Stiles’ chest light up with butterflies. “You made it.”

Before Stiles can get a word in edgewise, even as he’s being pulled into Derek’s arms for a big hug, Ginger is talking. “We had a great conversation on the way over, I always knew that he and I would get along given half the chance!”

Derek breaks the hug first, setting his eyes on Ginger a bit shrewdly. “Thank you for picking him up,” he says, which is a clear and evident dismissal.

All the same, Ginger stands there in her nice clothes in the backroom of a BDSM club with a naked girl, a drug dealer, and whoever the hell that stranger that Derek is meeting with is, and keeps going. “You know, I’ve never been up to this floor before, I have to say, it’s a lot nicer than the first floor.” She pauses, her face pinching as if she’s said something unsavory. “Not that I spend a lot of time there, either.”

Stiles looks to Derek, eyebrows lifting up. It’s a miracle, one of the earth’s great wonders and mysteries, how Derek doesn’t wring her fucking neck every single fucking day. He brushes past Stiles and puts his big hand on Ginger’s shoulder, leading her off to the exit as she keeps talking, and talking “…and I’m married now, remember, I can’t exactly spend all my time at clubs like this, what would people think?”

“Thanks again, Ginger,” Derek says as he opens the door for her and ushers her forward and out into the hallway. “Have a good night.”

“See you tomorrow, Mr. Hale!” She waves enthusiastically right as the door is all but slammed in her face. Once it’s closed up tight and they’re alone with the relative quiet of the music thumping from underfoot, Derek pinches the bridge of his nose and huffs out a deep, long-suffering sigh. Stiles imagines that half the time spent in his office, Derek sits and listens to Ginger’s incessant chatter about things that either are relevant or aren’t, depending on the hour of the day.

Once he’s collected himself, he brushes across the floor and takes Stiles by his elbow to tug him along toward the couches and the coffee table with naked sushi girl. Stiles approaches her a little warily, eyes wide and a shocked smile on his face, but soon his attention is completely taken over by the shadowy figure standing on the other side of her.

“Stiles, this is an old friend of mine,” he says, and already there’s a pale hand reaching out over bare skin. “Theo Raeken.”

Stiles offers his own hand, only to have it enveloped in a tight, clammy grip. Something about it makes him remarkably uncomfortable, but he keeps his smile in place even as he meets chilly, ice cold blue eyes. There is a distinct otherness about this person, a suggestion that he’s not like normal people and as such is one to be avoided, but Derek doesn’t seem to even notice it.

“Nice to meet you,” and that voice isn’t what he’d expected to hear. It’s oddly gritty, not smooth or sinister at all. He sounds like a kid in an art class Stiles took in college, or something. He seems young, from what Stiles can see of his features in the dim lighting. Barely older than Stiles if he is, at all. “I’ve heard a lot about you. Not just from Derek.”

As Stiles is taking the group cue to sit down at the same time as Derek and Theo do, he swallows. There’s a lot about that statement that he doesn’t much care for, not one fucking bit. “Uh – people talk about me?” He side-eyes Derek for a moment, who seem very preoccupied with stuffing his California roll into his mouth.

“Of course,” he tips his head, and Stiles’ eyes flit to the girl lying on the table. He can’t help it; it’s the most interesting thing in the room, yet the two of them act like she’s barely even there. “Derek hasn’t been in a serious relationship in…years.”

“Years,” Stiles repeats back.

“And, plus, with a name like Stilinski…” he inhales a deep breath and then lets it out, like he’s getting some kind of a hard-on just from thinking about having the Sheriff’s son in his midst as they speak. “It’s all very juicy, isn’t it?”

“The juiciest,” Stiles agrees, at a loss for what else to say. Stiles doesn’t like him. His mind has been made up, and he tries to mentally convey this message to Derek by meeting his eyes as he finishes off the last of his sushi. But Derek, oblivious for perhaps the first time in his life, doesn’t catch the brainwaves at all.

“Stiles came along mostly just for something to do,” Derek explains, reaching his hand out to grab at another piece of sushi. This one, he collects off her left breast, exposing her bare nipple to the open air and Stiles’ eyes. He parts his lips, because holy shit, he’s never seen a naked woman in person before and this is just now dawning on him.

His eyes hyperfocus on the nipple as Theo and Derek keep chattering over his head, and he’s a bit baffled at his predicament. The thought how the hell did I get here? occurs to him, and he shakes his head. What the fuck.

“…you and I, I think we have the same ideologies and goals for ourselves,” Theo is saying, while Stiles taps his fingers on his knee and tries to avoid looking directly at the sushi-girl. “I’ve always known that.”

“It’s interesting to me, then, that it’s taken you so long to ever approach me about going into business together,” Derek drawls, his voice and posture and general state of being radically different than the Derek that Stiles is familiar with. This is Derek in his element, at work, doing what he does best – Stiles only knows the Derek that’s all soft and sweet and eager to give Stiles exactly what he needs or wants.

“Well, the timing never seemed just right,” Theo leans in, a bit of a leer on his face as he briefly looks Stiles up and down before quickly turning back to meet Derek’s eyes before Derek could catch it. “With how things are shaping up for you now, I could see the pieces falling together rather elegantly.”

Derek makes a vague noise of interest, and it dawns on Stiles then and there.

This isn’t even interesting. This is fucking boring. Nobody’s talking about shooting people in the head and there’s not dramatic saxophone music playing over their heads; they’re just having what would sound like a completely normal business conversation to any naïve ears. It’s like being a fly on the wall in an office building somewhere, listening in on a job interview, for fuck’s sake. Theo has a gun on his hip, which is likely the most interesting thing about him, but other than that…yyyawwwwnnn. Stiles really should have known better.

As a result, the two of them keep talking and Stiles feels like Derek’s fucking trophy wife. He sits there with his chin in his palm, while the men talk business and this that and the other thing, staring down at his shoes. Derek’s hand rubs up and down his back absentmindedly, and Stiles leans into the touch with a long suffering sigh. He never should have come here. He should tag along on actual drug deals, not just meetings with other random criminals at large.

About ten minutes into it, Stiles leans a bit over the sushi-girl and appraises her, from top to bottom. In other instances where he’s seen people eating food off of women’s bodies, sushi especially, there’s been seaweed leaves or whatever the hell covering up the most intimate spots – but not today. The only thing covering her at all whatsoever is the sushi, so each time Derek or Theo pluck something off her body she gets more and more naked – it’s almost eerie, in a way. She’s stock still, barely even blinking as she stares at the ceiling.

It’s not the most blatant or uncomfortable form of objectification Stiles has ever witnessed in a BDSM club or even this club in particular, but there’s still something about it that has him itching in discomfort. And it’s not just about never having been in the presence of a naked woman before.

He leans over her all the way, right over her face, and smiles at her a little serenely. “You like this line of work?” He inquires, because right now, she’s ten times more interesting than Derek or Theo could ever hope to fucking be.

She shifts her eyes away from the ceiling to stare at him, but her expression doesn’t really change. Theo, apparently very interested in these proceedings, gives Stiles a bit of a wane smile. “She isn’t supposed to talk,” he says, and Stiles frowns.

All the same, he persists. “How much do you make hourly to put up with this?”

A slight twitch in her red lips, and Stiles grins at her, lifting his eyes to meet Derek’s. He, for one, looks wholly amused and somewhat pleased with him, eyes crinkling at the corners. Theo just sort of stares at him, cocking his head to the side like he’s never seen something so strange in all his life.

He taps his fingers together, tip to tip, and then he sits forward with a bit of a snide look on his face. He gives Stiles that same once-over from before, before settling his eyes back on Derek. “What’s the nature of your relationship?” He asks, and Stiles finally removes his attention from the sushi-girl. He squints, cocking his head to the side, and turns to Derek. The nature of their relationship? The hell is that supposed to mean?

Derek doesn’t seem confused. He meets Theo’s gaze steadily and without even so much as blinking, lips set in a smug smirk. “My boyfriend and I’s relationship isn’t for anyone else.”

“Huh,” Theo intones, slithering those snake-eyes right back to Stiles. “I’m just assuming he’s not your sub, if you let him run his mouth off all the time.”

Woowwww,” Stiles says, eyes going big in his head. Following that bombshell of a statement, Stiles is about six different things at once; offended, shocked, confused, grossed-out, and most importantly, angry. “Really?”

Derek’s upper lip curls, turning to Theo with a murderous glint in his eyes maybe only because Stiles seems upset. If Stiles had just rolled with the punches and been a smartass instead of getting angry, maybe Derek would just be sitting there smirking and shrugging. Instead, Stiles is upset, and so Derek is angry.

“I’m not Derek Hale’s stupid fucktoy, all right?” He points an accusatory finger over the table, or over the naked girl, who follows it with her eyes and seems to be enjoying the show. Derek’s hands come up on Stiles’ shoulders and attempt to wrangle him back, maybe just so the situation doesn’t snowball any worse than it already has. “He’s not my master, you piece of shit, he’s my –“

“Okay,” Theo’s hands go up in the air as if in surrender, an unexplainable expression on his face. He doesn’t look necessarily pleased with this turn of events, but he also doesn’t look that put off. He almost looks…intrigued. It’s hard to put into words. “I apologize. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

And yet here Stiles is – offended. Derek’s hand fits itself in between his shoulderblades and he rubs a bit, a calming, placating gesture that shouldn’t work like a tranquilizer as easily as it does. But Stiles is still angry, staring at Theo with his jaw set down hard. Mostly just for something to do with his hands, he reaches out and plucks a piece of sushi off of the girls’ belly button and shoves it into his mouth, chewing quick and hard.

“I just assumed, what with Derek’s past relationships –“

“I didn’t have relationships with anyone, not for years,” Derek brusquely corrects, and when Stiles turns to look at him, he finds the man seeming particularly bashful looking while maintaining that annoyed façade. Stiles swallows his sushi and wonders, not for the first time, exactly what kind of BDSM bullshit he used to get into. He’s seen the evil box opposite the Stiles box, so he’s had some vague kind of an idea; but no specifics. Nothing about the actual dynamics of the relationships he used to have.

It must have been radically different than what he and Stiles have. Almost on another plane of existence.

“I didn’t realize you were doing something different now, is what I meant.” His voice is even and careful, and Stiles swears to God if he looks at Stiles one more fucking time with that weirdly intent once-over, Stiles is going to flip. “Forget I said anything. Let’s move on.”

Derek, for his part, seems more than happy to do exactly that. He sips his drink and eats his sushi and straightens back up into professionalism, and Stiles goes quiet. Even though he shoots Stiles looks that suggest he’s a part of the conversation and even though he leans into Stiles and refuses to act like he doesn’t even exist, Stiles feels…pretty much just like that. Like to Theo, he may as well not.

Stiles is put-out and upset for the rest of the meeting, with the way Theo acts towards him. And Stiles has to remind myself that Theo is part of a certain community. He’s part of a certain world, where there are two types of people. Dominants, and submissives, and they’re sitting here in a private lounge of a BDSM club that caters to exactly those types. There’s a girl in the middle of the room who isn’t allowed to talk, is meant to sit there and be decoration like she is the table herself. It’s fucked up and weird, the longer Stiles thinks about it, but then he has to admit he gets what Theo had meant.

He had meant that in his mind, those from the other class of people don’t speak unless spoken to. It’s like his entire life is the dynamic, the sex, the fetish, and those are the exact types of people that Stiles has spent a great deal of his time avoiding. They’re scary, those people. Sadism means something much more sinister than the word kink can really be applied to, when it comes to people like Theo.

As such, Theo pretty much says nothing to him for the rest of the meeting. Looks at him, yes, in this way that suggests permission to stare and possibly even touch at some point is just a granted because he’s an alpha-male type. But doesn’t speak to him. Why would he? Stiles is a pet.

When all is said and done, Theo and Derek stand to give each other a handshake, and Stiles stays seated if only to maybe make a point. He glowers at the two of them, left on the couch like a forgotten toy, and downs the rest of his drink in one go.

“I hope to hear from you soon,” Theo says with a blinding smile, giving Stiles one last look. He has to look down from his standing height at where Stiles is still seated, and that’s probably just how he likes it; looking down on everyone beneath him, all the time. “It was nice to meet you, Stiles.”

The desire to be petty and childish and spout out a go fuck yourself is almost too much for him to ignore. But he does, if only for Derek’s sake. He bites his tongue and nods politely, before casting his eyes down to the ice leftover in his glass, poking at it with the little black cocktail straw.

“Ready to go?” Derek asks him, holding a proffered hand out for Stiles to take. Stiles stares at it for a moment, lips pursed, and then sighs. He drops his glass down onto the table, right next to the sushi-girl’s hip, and stands after putting his hand in Derek’s. It’s the four-fingered hand, completely healed now with what’s left of his finger out on display in a way that has some people recoiling. But Derek uses his own finger to stroke gently at his deformity as if it doesn’t bother him at all, not one bit. Even though Stiles is a little upset, his cold-dead heart does melt just the tiniest bit at that, while they walk out of the room and back into the open hallway.

Derek holds his hand and stops at the elevator, pressing the down button and waiting with his eyes cast up at the little screen that tells them where the elevator is and how long it’ll take it to get to them. He looks at Stiles. “You and Ginger are friends, huh?”

Stiles looks right back at him, lips quirking. “How can you stand her? I like her just fine, but…you?”

“First of all, she’s actually very good at her job,” he explains even as he’s smiling like it’s a gigantic joke. “Second of all, you learn to tune her out. She’s a nice girl.”

“Oh, yes. Nice she is.”

The elevator dings, the doors pull open. They huddle inside and Derek presses the ground floor button, leaning back against the rail of the elevator and sighing. As soon as those doors are closed and he and Stiles find themselves alone together, Stiles is rounding on Derek with accusation in his tone and in his general posture, like a switch has been pulled. “I don’t fucking like that guy, I cannot believe you’re really considering even – even being in the same room as him.”

Derek seems unsurprised. He blinks and nods his head, cocking it to the side with a wry smile. “I got the impression you didn’t like him about fifteen seconds in.”

“What a despicable fucking cockroach. How he talked to me – and you shook his hand!”

“Politics,” Derek waves his hand like it’s all the answer in the world, and Stiles fumes.

“I can’t believe you’re going to go into business with him, after all that, after how he –“

“I’m not.”

That gives Stiles some pause. His mouth hangs open and the elevator slides down and down, almost at their destination. “You.”

Derek meets his eyes steadily, shrugging his shoulders like it’s nothing to him, nothing at all. “You don’t like him, so why would I make a deal with him?”

Speaking his exact thoughts out loud, Stiles can only say, “it cannot be that easy.”

Crowding Stiles up against the wall a bit more than he already had been, Derek looks down at him. Sometimes, that two-inch height difference between them can feel so, so much bigger than that. It can feel like Stiles is tiny, like he’s five feet tall and Derek is six and a half, hovering over him all powerful and controlling; and this is just such an occasion. He seems huge, in the confines of the elevator, pushing Stiles up against the wall. “Your word, to me, is law,” his voice is low, and the elevator stops. “You say jump, I say how high.”

The doors open, and they stay like that. Stiles pressed up against the wall, Derek crowding against him, even as the noise and roar of the ground level of the club pours inside and all around them.

“How much money is that?” Stiles asks. Someone comes click-clacking into the elevator wearing a cat suit and a collar with a bell, and not even that is interesting enough for Stiles to take his eyes off of Derek. “That you’re giving up from not making a deal with him. How much?”

“Two million, potentially,” Derek says, matter-of-fact. God, he just fucking says it, like it’s the same as ten dollars. Two. Million. Dollars. Gone, in the blink of an eye, all because Stiles didn’t approve.

This is what he had been talking about, before, when he referred to the power he has over Derek and, as a result, the entire operation. He just flushed a possible two million dollars down the drain because he didn’t like something about the way it was to be obtained. His body tingles, as that feeling of complete and utter control washes over him.

It’s laughable. Theo talking to him like he’s just Derek’s stupid little sub who kneels at his feet and does as he’s told. It’s hilarious.

“You want to get a drink?” Derek says, taking Stiles’ hand to slowly guide him out of the elevator and away from the cat girl. “I know you don’t like these clubs, but we’re here.”

He squeezes Stiles’ hand gently and looks over his shoulder to where Stiles trails behind him, waiting for an answer. It’s true, Stiles doesn’t like these clubs much. He didn’t even like them when he used to go to them, prowling the floor for someone who could offer him what he was looking for. All he ever found were creeps who tried to whip him within ten seconds of taking him home, and the odd guy who’d wind up to be incredibly vanilla. Nobody was ever who Stiles was looking for, so the clubs were always a representation of discomfort and disappointment.

Here, with Derek, everything is different. “Yeah, okay,” Stiles agrees, leaning forward to peck Derek gently on the side of his face. Derek accepts his kiss gratefully and then turns forward again to shove through the crowd to make room for both himself and Stiles. It’s mostly what one would expect to find on the bottom of a BDSM club; a real mish-mash of types of people. Most of the reallyyy hardcore people travel up at least to the second floor, or to one of the VIP lounges where unspeakable things that make Stiles’ skin prickle occur.

Out here, it’s everybody. Bachelorette parties of extremely vanilla girls who blush and laugh at some of the outfits they see, flashing lights and loud music, a bar packed with six different types of people who are all here for the same thing. Derek shoves until they’re standing at the bar, and even though there are ten different people who have been standing here for way longer than either of them have waiting to get served, the second the bartender sees Derek, she flits over lightning fast to take his order.

Derek says his own, and the bartender’s eyes land on Stiles. She looks at him for a moment, and then turns to Derek with a brow lifted. “For him?”

She could’ve just asked Stiles directly – but then he remembers. They’re in a BDSM club. Of course she wasn’t going to ask him personally, she has to ask his dom. It’s so fucking stupid, but this is an insult and a slight that he lets go. Whatever. Derek orders him the right drink because he knows what Stiles likes, and they’re sitting in front of them before Stiles can even blink.

They turn away from the bar and meander a ways away, hiding off in a corner where they can lean against the wall and face each other. Derek seems pre-occupied, scanning his eyes over the crowd and landing on a particularly enticing scene across the way; two girls making out with one another on a couch almost completely naked. Derek sips at his drink and stares, and Stiles has to remember that Derek is also attracted to women. So of course.

Stiles leans up and presses his mouth next to Derek’s ear, shouting just a bit to be heard over the music. “Are you really not going to take that deal?”

When Stiles pulls back to look Derek in the face, Derek purses his lips and rolls his eyes. Like Stiles is so daft. He leans in to Stiles’ ear and says, “what you say goes, we’ve been over that before.” His fingers reach down to run up and down the small of Stiles’ back slowly and gently, so Stiles leans in closer to him and licks his lips as Derek keeps speaking. “You could ask me to take care of that bartender for treating you like that and I’d have her fired with a snap of my fingers.”

Stiles grabs onto the lapels of Derek’s jacket before he can move away, licking his lips before he talks again. “But you’re supposed to be my dom, not the other way around.” It’s said mostly just to tease him – push his buttons and make him growl under his breath and put his hands somewhere decently inappropriate; but Derek laughs.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know your place.”

Stiles does know his place. That’s the whole thing about all of this; Stiles and Derek’s relationship is so complex sometimes he could see how someone else, someone like Theo, might not be understand it at all. They are just boyfriends, most of the time – two people in love who tell each other everything and sleep together and obsessively text and do romantic things together. And then there are no “places” in that dynamic; they’re equals.

But when it comes to the kink and the fetish and all that other bullshit, they’re not really equals. They have give and take. In some situations, Derek is in control of everything and tells Stiles what to do and holds him down, and Stiles’ place is under him. In other situations, Stiles is as good as royalty, getting whatever he wants and telling Derek what to do and being treated like the most important thing in the entire world.

It gets confusing, but they balance each other out. It’s why the terms dom and sub don’t always apply to them. They’re weird. It’s how they like it.

Stiles pulls away from Derek’s body and sips his drink, giving him an appreciative smile. Derek returns that smile and they stand in each other’s company for a moment, listening to the music and drinking. He has this bizarre desire to take Derek by the hand and drag him into a bathroom stall to suck him off, but then he remembers he’s been there and done that in this specific club even, and it wasn’t that great. So he settles for just leaning his body against Derek’s instead, loving the feel of his bigger body boxing him in.

His eyes scan with no real goal in mind, just observing all the people and colors and lights – and then they settle on something that has his blood turning cold.

He turns, quick, hiding his face in Derek’s chest shoulder and huffing out a sigh. “Don’t look,” he warns, voice low. “My ex-boyfriend is over there.”

Derek, of course, does look. Stiles looks out from his hiding spot to see Derek narrowing his eyes and scanning the crowd in the exact location Stiles had been looking before, frowning. “The jean jacket guy?”

Yes, the jean jacket guy. But Stiles doesn’t want to give him any more fuel, so he just swallows and looks into Derek’s face. “I wanna leave,” he says, quick and abrupt, and Derek’s frown deepens as he looks away from Stiles’ ex.

Derek is perceptive. He’s always been. It’s not surprising when he asks, “is there a problem?” A problem. In Derek’s world, problems only exist to be solved, by any means necessary.

“Can we just go?” He pleads, a bit desperate now. He looks over his shoulder and Christopher is still there, standing up and drinking liquor out of a bottle in a roped off section of the club, surrounded by his underlings that don’t know any better.

“Yes,” Derek agrees, but he doesn’t budge. “You just seem very upset.”

“Look,” Stiles begins with a frantic lilt to his voice. “He’s not – he’s not a good person, and he’s a huge part of the reason I have so many squicks. I don’t want to see him. He used to…he used to get me into subspace just to make me do things he knew I had problems with and then he’d barely help me when I dropped,” it comes out of him in a rush, and as he speaks, Derek’s eyes flit back over to where Chris is standing. “It wasn’t something I could take to my father or anyone else, so I got trapped for a while, and now I guess he’s…” here. Just like he always used to be, even when they were together. “I just hate seeing him, and I wanna go, let’s go.”

Derek’s expression and posture is unreadable, but his eyes aren’t on Stiles. He says, “he’s coming over here,” and Stiles all but passes out.

He looks over his shoulder and clutches his fingers into Derek’s shirt; swears when he sees that Christopher has indeed spotted him and is indeed coming over here. He steps over the velvet rope with ease from his long legs, and as he walks that old riding crop he always wears on a loop in his belt swings around in the open air. The sight of it has Stiles recoiling deeper into Derek’s chest, blinking furiously.

He’d repressed a lot of this. Almost all of it. It’s been three years since he’s seen Christopher, and an entire year of that was spent meticulously undoing everything that had happened to him. He used to beat Stiles with that thing if he’d refuse to do something, and he –

“Don’t say anything to him,” Stiles says quickly, holding onto Derek’s shirt harder. “Just don’t say anything. I’ll handle him, he’s my problem.”

The thing is, he was also Stiles’ problem back then. And he didn’t get out of it himself. Scott is the one who ultimately put his foot down and got rid of Chris for good, even though the police couldn’t do anything about it. There was no evidence. Some of the marks on Stiles were from things he had to admit he enjoyed, and it was hard to distinguish between good hurt and bad hurt. It wasn’t fair, the things he got away with.

And is still getting away with, because he thinks he has any right to walk right up to Stiles like he is right now, to smile that smile that tricked Stiles in the first place, to look him up and down the way he used to. Like ownership. Like Stiles has nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t even look in Derek’s direction, like the other man isn’t there at all in spite of the fact that Stiles’ back is pressed right up against him, his fingers curled into the hem of Derek’s shirt. He smiles and looks Stiles right in the eyes. “Stiles,” he greets, and Stiles wants to evaporate. “Long time no –“

A split second. Chris hasn’t even been standing in front of them for more than three seconds.

Derek’s arm reaches out from behind Stiles and punches Chris directly in the face, hard enough that he goes down instantly. Stiles had been close enough; he swears he heard something crack. Stiles watches him hit the ground and stays stock still, because it came out of nowhere. Chris barely even uttered a full sentence, and the next thing any of them know, he’s down. Hard.

Stiles is gently maneuvered out of Derek’s way with two big hands, moving him aside, and Stiles just goes with it, numb with shock. Derek steps forward once Stiles isn’t there anymore, moving with agile feet to bend over where Chris is lying on the ground clutching his own face. Derek picks him up by the collar of his shirt, and just starts hitting him, again, and again, and again. Stiles stands back with his jaw slack and has a brief, passing thought that maybe he should be trying to stop this.

He doesn’t move.

There’s a small crowd forming, but no one is moving to help Chris. They all just watch, some of them actually laughing, maybe some of them thinking this is some weirdo gonzo scene from a bizarre crevice of the internet, the rest just wide-eyed and shocked. Derek hits him, and hits him, and Chris makes these low grunts and tries to use much weaker hands to shove Derek off of him, to no use.

And Stiles watches. He has nothing to say. He won’t do anything, say anything, to keep Chris from getting hurt. He shuts his mouth and stands and isn’t happy about it or at least he’s not necessarily enjoying it, but he doesn’t hate it.

Derek deems himself done when Chris is unconscious, standing without a scratch on him. Jesus Christ, Chris hadn’t even gotten a single fucking hit in, and Derek runs a hand through his hair all casual like it’s nothing to him. There is blood, all over his knuckles, and Stiles focuses on that. How red it is against his skin.

He meets Stiles’ eyes, still standing over Chris’ completely unmoving body. He shrugs. “You just said not to say anything.”

Stiles stares, nodding his head. He did, indeed, say that, and nothing more.

***

Scotty Boy, 7:48 PM : WHAAAATTTTTT? HE BEAT CHRISTOPHER’S ASS?
Scotty Boy, 7:49 PM : MY LONGEST YEAH BOI EVER
Scotty Boy, 7:50 PM : YAS KING BOW DOWN
Me, 7:51 pm : GOD DAMMIT LMFAO
Scotty Boy, 7:52 PM : DJIOAJGAOIRKAA,AERGAREGKEGPOKGRGAERJI
Scotty Boy, 7:52 PM : WHERE?!?! WHEN!?!?!?!? DJAFOIJOAIEGKAREPGKAEPOGKARPGOKARGPORKGPROAE
Me, 7:55 PM : At Erotique! We ran into him and I was like I want to fucking leave and you know I can’t ever just NOT TELL Derek something. So I tell him general details about our relationship and idk, he seemed calm???
Scotty Boy, 7:56 PM : But there was an uncontrollable rage boiling inside…
Me, 7:57 PM : I fucking guess, because Chris barely got two words out before Derek was hitting him. Like, HITTING HIM, dude.
Me, 7:58 PM : And then he stood up all victorious while Chris bled out of his face all unconscious and half-dead on the ground, and security. Did. Nothing.
Scotty Boy, 7:59 PM : JESUS
Me, 8:01 PM : They just stood there!!!!!!! LAUGHING!!!!!!!!!!! KDIOAERGKGPOAEKG
Scotty Boy, 8:02 PM : DJFAOIERGJAREIOGJAOIAKEPGOAE
Me, 8:04 PM : It’s because they know him. They literally stood there like oh, Derek Hale beating another poor soul’s ass, whatever.
Me, 8:05 PM : Then, Derek just took my hand and walked me out and it’s like nothing even happened…he didn’t even mention it. Wiped the blood of his hand and dropped me off and kissed me.
Scotty Boy, 8:07 PM : That dude compartmentalizes. He’s kinda crazy, lmfao.
Scotty Boy, 8:07 PM : Like maybe not in a bad way.
Scotty Boy, 8:08 PM : But KINDA in a bad way.
Me, 8:09 PM : He snapped and then snapped back into being normal.
Scotty Boy, 8:11 PM : I just think how he is with you because he loves you is different, ja feel?
Scotty Boy, 8:12 PM : I think he really is that guy who beats people unconscious and carries a gun and does whatever else, but with you he’s…you know. Boyfriend Derek.
Me, 8:14 PM : You know what the most fucked up bit of it all is???????
Me, 8:14 PM : I really… liked watching him beat Chris up. Lmfao.
Me, 8:15 PM : Even weirder, it lowkey turned me on.
Scotty Boy, 8:16 PM : Uh, DUH it did.
Scotty Boy, 8:16 PM : Your man beat your abusive ex-boyfriend for no other reason than he fucked with you once.
Scotty Boy, 8:17 PM : HE’S WHIPPED!

***

“Stiles.” The Sheriff’s voice is gruff on the other side of the phone, and Stiles leans up against the sink counter in Derek’s apartment as he speaks. They have spoken only once since Christmas, and it was a very brief, very awkward phone conversation in which the Sheriff forced himself to apologize for what had happened through grit teeth.

Stiles knew he wasn’t sorry. Not about leaping over the table like a jaguar to try and rip Derek’s throat out, at least. But he was certainly sorry that he was, time and time again, driving he and his son farther apart with his inability to conceal the way he felt about Stiles’ boyfriend. So now, Stiles guesses they’re on okay ground. But not great ground; a phone call from him isn’t something that Stiles is ever exactly thrilled about.

“Is Derek around?” He asks, and Stiles looks up at the ceiling and glowers. Derek is around; he’s in the living room with a Netflix movie paused, sitting on the couch waiting for Stiles to return. As soon as Stiles had looked at the caller ID and seen his father’s name there, he had excused himself to the bathroom, just in case this conversation turned into a fight.

“Why?” Stiles asks, narrowing his eyes.

“Because I got a very interesting phone call this morning from that ex-boyfriend of yours,” he says, and Stiles can imagine him leaning back in his desk chair at work and looking smug, smug as all hell. Stiles’ heart skips a beat, as he lowers his eyes to stare directly at himself in the mirror across the wall. His eyes are big, his lips parted, and his face has gone even paler than usual. “Apparently, someone whose name he doesn’t know but that he is certain is your boyfriend beat him unconscious on the floor of a club downtown. Apparently, you were there.”

Stiles clears his throat, palms his face.

“And he’s looking to press charges against this mystery man who put him in the hospital. He’s looking for someone to pay his bills, I would imagine. Derek’s got that kind of money, doesn’t he?” He isn’t even trying, not at all, to try and hide the fact that he’s smiling on the other end of the phone. Nailing Derek for absolutely anything, anything at all no matter how trivial, must be like stumbling upon a pot of gold for the Sheriff’s Department.

“Well,” Stiles says, because he can’t think of anything else to say. He can’t very well deny it; if they want to, they can pull the security camera footage. It would amaze Stiles if they hadn’t already just in the interest of identifying Derek Hale for certain. Stiles was there, and Derek did that, and there’s no use in pretending like none of it happened.

“This is your great, wonderful boyfriend? Beating the shit out of people in clubs? He’s a grown man, Stiles.”

Stiles sets his jaw and balls his hand into a fist – thinks about punching the wall, just for something to let his frustration out. “You know Christopher abused me.”

A deep, heavy sigh on the other line, and then some shifting around – like he’s uncomfortably moving in his desk chair. “Be that as it may –“

“He made my life a living hell for seven months, so yeah, Derek beat the shit out of him,” he spits, and the Sheriff tries to say something but Stiles just talks right over it. “I can’t believe you’re calling me all fucking smug about Derek having charges pressed against him by the man who beat me every day when I was nineteen. Fucking listen to yourself.”

Instead of responding to any of that, a single word of it, the Sheriff just changes trajectories completely. “Tell your boyfriend to come down to the station or we’ll have a warrant out for his arrest,” and Stiles hangs up on him.

He all but throws his phone across the counter and thrusts his face into his hands, breathing in and out deeply into his palms and shaking his head. Sometimes, his father makes him so fucking angry he thinks he could black out – he hasn’t had a conversation with the man that wasn’t exactly like the one he just had in months, and he misses his dad, he does, but he makes it so fucking hard. For no reason, he makes it hard.

Stiles doesn’t understand why he can’t see that his son is in love. Then, he pulls his hands away to stare at them and counts only up to nine, and thinks maybe he understands exactly why, but just doesn’t want to admit that.

When he steps back out into the main room, Derek is predictably just sitting there dicking around on his phone while the movie is stuck frozen on the screen. He’s absentmindedly pulling handfuls of popcorn out of the bowl and shoveling them into his mouth, scrolling through what looks like a Buzzfeed article he’s completely immersed in. It would be funny or cute, if it were any other situation.

Stiles takes in a deep breath as he approaches the back of the couch, so that Derek turns and swallows that popcorn in his mouth, lifting his eyebrows. “Everything okay?” He asks, because he had seen the caller ID and knows that almost every conversation with his father leaves Stiles remarkably upset.

He puts his hands down on the back of the couch and meets Derek’s eyes. “My father says Chris is pressing charges against you.”

Derek blinks. “I see.” He doesn’t seem that concerned about it.

“He says if you don’t get to the station there’ll be a warrant out for your arrest.”

“All right,” Derek blinks again, gently setting the giant bowl of popcorn onto the coffee table. He leans back into the couch and has no visible reaction to the information; just files it away, it would seem. “Can’t have that.”

Stiles’ fingers dig into the fabric of the couch a bit, leaning over and staring at the side of Derek’s face. “What’re you…?”

“I’m going to take care of it,” he says, and Stiles might have seen that answer coming a mile away. There’s a reason Derek Hale doesn’t get arrested and why there are no warrants out for his arrest, not now and not ever – because he takes care of things before they become a problem.

And what take care of means changes, depending on the context.

Derek presses his phone to his ear and runs a hand through his hair, sucking in a deep breath as he listens to the ringing in the receiver. He looks up and meets Stiles’ eyes. “What’s this guy’s full name?”

Stiles shouldn’t say. But he does. “Christopher Strickland.”

Nodding his head, Derek taps the fingers of his free hand on top of his knee, staring blankly at the wall across the room while Stiles keeps his own eyes trained on the side of Derek’s face. “Hey,” Derek says, shifting in his seat a bit. “Christopher Strickland. Pick him up.” There’s a brief pause, where Stiles can barely make out a feminine tone on the other end of the phone; it’s gotta be Erica. Without a doubt. “Stiles’ ex-boyfriend. Yes, that one. He went to the cops. Explanation enough?”

It must be so, because two seconds later, Derek is ending the call without a word and standing. He brushes popcorn dust and kernals off of his clothes, straightens up his shoulders, and gives Stiles a very small smile. “Wanna go for a ride?”

***

Stiles twiddles his fingers as he leans up against Derek’s car and wonders if he’s made the wrong decision. He asks himself that question a lot, right on the brink of sleep and not, because it’s the only time he’ll really let that question come to him. There’s so much about all of this that has Stiles second guessing himself. Derek is not a good person, but it’s not the same way that Chris isn’t a good person.

Because Derek is a good person, underneath it all. He’s just…been conditioned to see the world in a certain way. He was raised and bred into this life, and there’s no way out, and this is who he is. Stiles signed up for it and nodded his head and agreed.

It’s just that, sometimes? He wonders.

Right now, Stiles is standing on the precipice of the old, abandoned, and closed off bridge that they shut down some time ago for instability. It runs over the length of the fastest and shallowest portion of the river, so the sound in Stiles’ ears is loud as he stands back on the border between the bridge and not-the-bridge, where both the cars are parked. It’s too dangerous for cars to drive up and down the bridge, of course, but people sure can walk up on it.

Stiles has his arms crossed over his chest and watches as the unmistakable form of Christopher is dragged bodily by Erica and Boyd toward the center of the bridge where Derek is standing and waiting, no discernible expression on his face from this far away. Stiles shouldn’t even be watching this, he thinks, turning his head briefly away to stare into the surrounding forest. He should get back in the car.

There’s a bag over Chris’s head like he’s a torture victim in a movie, but as soon as he’s within reaching distance, Derek tugs it off his head and throws it off to the side, leveling him with a steady gaze. Whatever Christopher’s reaction to seeing Derek standing there before him again is lost to Stiles, but Derek’s distant voice says, “remember me?”

There’s a pause, Derek smiling with all his perfect, white teeth. And quick as lightning, he grabs Christopher by the collar of his shirt, and dangles him off the edge of the bridge by his legs. Christopher hollers on deaf ears, because there’s no one around for miles, literally, to hear him scream. Stiles can’t see him hanging off the end from his angle, but he can certainly make out the angry and threatening rush of the water underneath.

This time of year, it’s likely just above freezing cold. It’s shallow, filled with sharp rocks at the bottom, and if Derek dropped him…well. If the impact of the hit didn’t kill him, the hypothermia likely would. Stiles wonders if that’s what’s going through Christopher’s mind, or if he’s too scared to even think straight.

And then, it’s funny. Chris used to make Stiles so scared he couldn’t even think straight. Maybe it evens itself out.

“Do you know who the fuck I am?” Derek demands in a harsh growl, shoving Chris forward so he jerks down lower maybe just to scare him even more. It works, because Stiles can hear that Chris is begging and pleading with him, maybe even crying. “What, are you scared?”

Stiles breathes in and out through his nose, tightens the hold of his own arms around his body.

“Are you going to go to the cops and tell them you drop the charges?”

This response, Stiles can hear, because Chris is practically screaming it at the top of his lungs. He says yes, yes, desperate and loud and terrified. Stiles scuffs his feet in the gravel underfoot and watches Erica and Boyd standing there, snickering to each other like this is the best show they’ve seen all week.

“I know where you live, I know where you work, I know every last god damn thing about you. If you try to fuck with me again –“

“I won’t, holy shit, please don’t drop me –“

“And if you ever, ever,” at this point, Derek leans down even closer over him, as close as he can get with the other one dangling off the edge of a bridge, nearly snarling in a threatening growl that even has the hairs on the back of Stiles’ neck standing up. “…come near my boyfriend ever the fuck again, if you even so much as look at him, or think about him, I will fucking chop your balls off and shove them down your throat until you choke.”

It’s not an idle threat. Derek doesn’t bluff. He says things that he means, and that message is translated absolutely crystal clear to Chris, who is, as a matter of fact, sobbing-crying. There’s a part of Stiles that feels like he’s doing something he shouldn’t, and even beyond that, doing something inherently wrong by just standing back and letting them do this. Omission is a sin just as much as action is, after all.

But he has to remember. There was a time when Stiles was too afraid to speak without being spoken to first, and that experience colors everything that he does now, effects what he likes and what he doesn’t and what’ll send him into a panic attack. He’s afraid of so many things, because of Chris. And, yeah, Derek mostly just wanted to scared the shit out of him so he’d not go running to the cops, but still.

Stiles shouldn’t feel sorry for him. And he shouldn’t feel guilty, and he shouldn’t feel like Derek is scarier than he actually is. He is scary, for the rest of the world. But not for Stiles. Never.

Satisfied, Derek pulls Chris back up off the railing and rights him onto his feet. They look at each other for a moment, Chris a blubbering, shaking mess, and then Derek just jerks his head in the direction behind them. “Run home,” he says, and Chris doesn’t need to be told twice. He doesn’t even glance in Stiles’ direction, even though he surely knows that Stiles is standing right there leaning up against Derek’s Audi, and takes off like a fucking bullet.

His foot falls pitter patter on the bridge until he hits solid ground, and then he vanishes into the surrounding woods, leaving just the four of them behind.

For his part, Derek immediately turns and starts coming back toward where Stiles is standing, stuck still on the spot. Boyd and Erica both seem to want to talk to him, but he brushes them off easily and with a hint of annoyance, leaving them standing there watching him go with twists to their faces as if they’re aggravated with him.

Stiles keeps his arms crossed even as Derek comes upon him, and for whatever reason, Derek actually looks a bit nervous. It’s amazing how he can do something like what he just did, can hang a man off the edge of a high bridge over an angry river, and not even hardly blink. But approaching Stiles in the wake of doing it…that’s what makes him nervous.

“Are you all right?” Derek asks him, voice radically different than it had been when he was speaking to Christopher.

Stiles shrugs his shoulders and has to clear his throat before speaking, because he knows that otherwise his voice will just be all cut to shreds. “A bit shaken up,” he admits, because there’s no point in lying to Derek. He knows everything that Stiles doesn’t say, because they know each other too well anymore to keep secrets.

Stepping in close to him, so he can press his lips against Stiles’ temple and then scrape them against his ear, he speaks in a low whisper. “What he did to you, the universe needs to pay him back for ten times over. I was only doing my part. Don’t feel sorry for him.”

Don’t feel sorry for him, Stiles repeats to himself in his head.

“Don’t get in your head about this. This is what I do, remember?”

Stiles blinks over Derek’s shoulder, inhaling his cologne and his natural scent and just…him.

“I love you,” Derek tells him, kissing him on the neck and then sucking a mark there, gripping onto Stiles’ hips. It feels out of place and strange, to be doing this right after what just happened, but then Stiles is starting to get used to the absurdity of living in Derek’s world.

Nothing here works the way Stiles was taught that it works. Stiles was taught rules and laws and good and bad and right and wrong. He’s the son of the Sheriff, a cop’s kid through and through, so he knows the ins and outs of what he’s supposed to participate in and what he just isn’t.

In Derek’s world, right is wrong and wrong is right. Even more to the point, things are so grey sometimes it becomes hard to know which is which. Yes, Chris abused Stiles and took advantage of his trust and ruined him, in some ways – but does that…justify anything? Does that make what happened here okay?

Stiles doesn’t know. He just lets Derek kiss him, and he files the rest away to sit and rot with everything else he chooses not to think about.

Chapter Text

Daddy, 4:35 PM : Valentine’s Day is next week.
Me, 4:36 PM : Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daddy, 4:37 PM : I was thinking about doing our all day scene that day. Seems like the best way to do it.
Daddy, 4:39 PM : Just you and me alone at my place, all day. I’ll take you out to a nice dinner afterwards, of course, but you’ll be all mine for ten hours. How’s that sound?
Me, 4:40 PM : Okay! Consider it your V-day gift…I’m super broke this month ): rent went up like a hundred dollars.
Daddy, 4:42 PM : Need a little money?
Me, 4:45 PM : Nah, we got by. Thank you though (:
Daddy, 4:46 PM : Come stay at my place the night before and we’ll go over details. Pack all your things so I can look through them.
Me, 4:47 PM : You mean my naughty things
Daddy, 4:48 PM : Yes those exact ones.

***

Stiles wakes to a hand rubbing up and down on his back, rousing him gently from sleep at the same time a warm mouth sucks on his neck. He blinks across his pillow and yawns awake, shifting in his spot a bit and smacking his lips. He sits up a little, so Derek’s mouth falls off of him but the hand remains on his bare back, and looks around.

“Scene?” He asks, a little groggily with a rasp in his voice. Derek smiles at him gently, shaking his head as his fingers stroke up and down Stiles’ skin.

“Not yet. You should probably be awake, first,” he winks, and then he gestures off to the other side of the room where Stiles hasn’t looked yet. “Plus, I have something for you.”

Taking the cue, Stiles turns around to the side of Derek’s room where the closet resides, and he smiles at what he sees. There’s a big bouquet of roses on Derek’s dresser that certainly wasn’t there the night before, with a couple of balloons sticking out that read HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!, shaped like hearts and adorned in reds and pinks. Stiles smiles at the sight of it, stretching his arms above his head and cracking his knuckles. “Aw, daddy.”

“I have lots of gifts for you today,” he says, pressing his lips right against Stiles’ hair and then pulling back to gently lick at the side of his face. “All you have to do to earn them is be daddy’s good boy. Can you do that?”

Stiles swallows, twiddling his fingers a bit in his lap. He’s not nervous, per se, but then, he sort of is. He’s not worried anything absurd is going to happen and he’ll drop or anything like that, but he is…sort of nervous about not doing a very good job. Which is so stupid; all he needs to do is what Derek tells him to.

But he wonders how useful he’ll be if he goes into a headspace too early on and winds up as a rag doll for the rest of the day. He bites his lip and nods, looking down at his hands. “Yes,” he agrees.

Derek strokes his hair, eyes seemingly transfixed on the side of Stiles’ face. “Should we go over the ground rules again?”

“Might as well,” Stiles chews on his thumb nail and shrugs, eyeballing his roses again.

They had gone over all of this last night, talked in length about what to expect and what they were mostly going to be doing – and Derek had been very clear. There isn’t going to be any part in any of this where something should be too intense. The intensity for Stiles is likely just going to come from the sheer amount of time spent dressed up and under Derek’s thumb, being told what to do and when to do it. Which isn’t hard, by any stretch of the imagination, but it might be…well. Serious.

“You know you can safe word whenever you want for whatever reason. Safe wording isn’t going to ruin anything. I need to know at all times that you’re comfortable and okay with what’s happening, otherwise, that ruins everything, okay?”

“Yes, okay.”

Derek strokes his cheek. “Remember you can come anytime you want. I’m not going to tell you you can’t come or to wait, but you need to ask me. Every time, you need to ask if it’s okay. You know how to ask when you’re gagged, as well, so there’s no excuses. You’ll be gagged for some of the time, but I’ll take it off every now and again to give you a little break, okay? If you need it off, just give me the signal and it’ll come off.”

Stiles chews on his lip and nods along as Derek speaks, a sudden thrill of excitement going through him. They’re really doing this. Jesus Christ, they’re honestly doing this, and Stiles is going to come so many fucking times without any strings attached.

It only becomes more real when Derek sits up straighter in bed, gesturing to the bathroom with his hand. “Shower, and then jazuzzi. Then we’ll go from there.”

Stiles simply nods his understanding, clearing his throat and stretching out his limbs before climbing up out of the bed and following along behind Derek as he plods into the bathroom. Once they’re inside, Derek shuts the door behind them, quickly turning the water on and holding his hand out underneath it to wait for it to get to the perfect temperature.

Once he deems it so, he pulls back the glass door to provide ample space for both of them to climb in. But before he does, he leans in close to Stiles’ ear and breathes there for a moment, putting his hand on Stiles’ bare chest so his fingers ghost along the elastic of his panties. “Starting now,” he says in a low voice, and Stiles nods.

Here we go, he thinks, while Derek uses both hands to shuck Stiles’ underwear off down to his feet and then off to the side out of his way. He beckons Stiles over to the shower, pointing down at the bath mat as he does so. “On your knees, there.”

Stiles does as he’s told. He climbs in and hunkers down on the actually pretty comfortable bath mat, so the spray of warm water hits his back and feels good, dripping all along his skin. He bends his neck so he head is lowered, and Derek climbs in behind him, staying on his feet. “Hands behind your back.”

Stiles takes his wrist in the opposite hand behind his back and licks his lips, feeling warm and comfortable with all the steam and Derek hovering right behind him. A big hand comes down to rest between his shoulder blades, and then there’s abruptly shampoo being dumped into his hair. It’s massaged in just like the last time he and Derek showered together, but something about this time feels pointedly different.

Neither of them speak. Stiles doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say or if he should be saying anything, so he stays silent and just enjoys the feel of Derek massaging the soap into his scalp. Derek washes it out with the shower head, tilting Stiles’ head back and stroking at his throat with gentle passes of his fingers. “Good boy,” he comments at one point, maybe just to say it, and Stiles nods his head along with the praise in agreement.

There’s a brief period of time where Stiles is just on his knees in front of Derek, patiently waiting while Derek washes his own hair and cleans his own body, and Stiles mostly just listens to the sound of Derek moving behind him as a source of comfort. He stares at the wall and enjoys the steam and the warmth and Derek’s body so close to his own, in want of nothing else for the moment.

Some two minutes later, Derek is shutting off the shower water and patting Stiles on the head. “Let me get something ready. Just stay put, okay?” He opens up the sliding glass door to the shower, and then almost closes it all the way. He leaves it open only a crack, so the steam doesn’t all leave and abandon Stiles in only cold air. When he steps out and moves over to the Jacuzzi, turning on the knobs so the water comes splashing out, Stiles figures the only reason he left it open at all is so Stiles could see him, and not feel like he’s been left all by himself.

Stiles waits patiently, watching the muscles of Derek’s back move as he turns the jets on and pours bubble bath into the water. It foams up and smells like something perfumey and relaxing, so Derek stands back and watches it for a moment until the water must get to an acceptable level for him.

He turns and comes back for Stiles, opening up the glass door all the way so the cold air hits him and he shivers. “You want some candlelight?” He asks, a small smile on his face.

Stiles says, “yes, please.”

Not having to be asked twice, Derek moves over to underneath the sink where he pulls a series of big fat white candles from, setting them out on the sink counter and along the edges of the Jacuzzi. Stiles had taken note of those a few times whenever he’d get stuck changing the roll of toilet paper or hunting for hand towels or something, and he’d never really given much thought to what they were actually for. And now he knows, watching Derek light them all one by one with a lighter from the odd drawer off to the furthest side, shutting the lights off and leaving them in flickering ambiance.

He pads back over to Stiles, still kneeling on the bath mat, and gives him another soft smile. “C’mon,” he says, leaning down and scooping Stiles up into his arms as easily as if he weighs nothing, in spite of him being a fully grown man. “Everything okay?”

“It’s perfect,” Stiles says, and Derek grins at him.

“In you go.” He dumps Stiles very gently into the water, so it barely ripples even as he slowly descends entirely into it. One of the jets digs directly into his back and feels otherworldly good, so his eyes roll back into his head as he settles into the warmth and bubbles. Before Stiles has really even had a chance to get entirely immersed, Derek is taking one of his wrists hostage and pinning it down on one edge of the tub. Stiles is momentarily confused, until he sees him produce one of those suction cup handcuff things he’s seen in kink stores everywhere – you know. The ones that look like they’d be about as effective as restraining someone with a piece of badly tied yarn.

Still, Derek suctions it and then traps Stiles’ wrist inside of it. Does the same to the other one so he’s stuck in the water, and smiles down at him. Stiles gives him a skeptical look right back, raising his eyebrow. “You know I could break out of this as easily as snapping my fingers.”

“Yes, I do know that,” Derek agrees, bending down to rifle around for something else he needs. “I also know you wouldn’t do that because you want to please me. Right?”

Stiles huffs and gently tests the limits of the suction-cuffs. He barely pulls at them and he can feel give, so he rolls his eyes and nods his head. “Yeah, yeah.”

The movement of the water feels incredibly good on Stiles’ body, hot and bubbly and scented. Derek produces a box that looks a lot like Stiles’ present boxes, so he perks up instantly upon seeing it, nearly breaks out of his suction-cuffs just to get his hands on it. “Look what I got you,” Derek is smiling, like he’s about to burst out laughing even as he undoes the red ribbon and pops the black box open himself.

He sets the box aside and pulls out a ball-gag not unlike the other ones Stiles already has – but this one is…on theme. It’s black and red, just like Derek seems to enjoy, but the actual ball part is shaped like a big red heart. Derek’s eyes crinkle at the corner as he produces it for Stiles to look at, while Stiles just leans in closer to make sure he’s seeing things right. “Oh, my God.”

“It’s perfect,” Derek says, barely stifling another laugh while Stiles just stares with a disbelieving smile. Without any more adieu, he leans forward and presses the red heart into Stiles’ mouth, strapping it onto his head quickly and then pulling back to appraise his work. Stiles chews on it a bit, and it feels strange – a lot weirder than the usual ball does, at least. It has a shape to it, so his teeth dip into the curves of the heart and the point of it digs a bit into his lower lip. It’s all right, though – something he can certainly live with.

Derek finally climbs inside the tub, letting out a much relieved sigh as he sits down on the left side of Stiles, spreading out and leaning back against the wall of the tub. He sits down deliberately on top of Stiles’ legs, so Stiles is completely and totally immobile. Trapped in the water, gagged and bound, waiting patiently either for instruction or for Derek to do something to him.

Instead, Derek leans back and closes his eyes, relaxing. It’s nice and safe and comfortable here, Stiles has to admit – in the dim ambient lighting, resting in a Jacuzzi tub with Derek spread out on top of him. The only real entertainment Stiles has, however, is staring at the side of Derek’s face. So he does. He stares and he stares, fidgeting a bit in his ridiculous suction-cuffs, sucking at the heart in his mouth and waiting. Nothing happens, for minutes on end. Just Derek with his eyes closed, marinating in the warm water and relaxation.

About five minutes of that, and Stiles is complaining. He shifts as much as he can in his place, making quick little aggravated noises behind his gag. Derek pops open one eye at the first notes of Stiles’ voice stirring, a thin smile curling up on his face. “You want attention?”

Stiles nods. Yes, yes he does.

Always happy to oblige, Derek reaches down under the water with a splashing sound. One big hand snakes its way up Stiles’ thighs, and the contact is surprising enough that Stiles tries to jerk – to no avail. Derek’s weight is heavy and solid on top of his legs, trapping him.

His fingers curl around Stiles’ erection underneath the water and he pumps, up and down. It’s not too fast, and it’s not too slow – just a steady, even rhythm that he never picks up or slows down from. He works it over and keeps his eyes trained on Stile’ face the entire time, while Stiles whimpers and tilts his head back against the tiled wall. He breathes harshly through his nose and nearly breaks out of one of his suction-cuffs, stopping himself at the last moment.

He doesn’t necessarily know what Derek would do to him if he disobeyed a direct order during this kind of a scene; frankly, part of him kind of wants to find out.

When he feels himself getting closer and closer, he looks Derek right in the eyes. He makes his own huge and pleading, like he’s begging for a treat, and whines. He curls his fingers into fists when Derek smiles, pumping him just a bit harder for a moment. “You may come,” Derek obliges, and Stiles’ eyes roll back into his head.

It’s only a second or two more until Stiles is spilling. It feels weird to come underwater, when Stiles has honestly gotten used to his orgasms either being fucked out of him so he’ll splatter against his own stomach and chest or being wrung out of him so he’ll go all over his thighs and stomach and Derek’s hands.

He doesn’t feel it this time; it just drifts into the water. It’s a little gross if Stiles thinks on it for too long, but he doesn’t. He’s just had an orgasm, no strings attached, so he’s all fucked out and blissful, comfortable underneath Derek’s heavy weight and cuffed to the tub. He leans back against the tiles and sighs in contentment through his nose, meeting Derek’s eyes only briefly.

Derek says, “good boy,” and strokes him up and down on his chest with gentle fingers.

It was no real indication of what the rest of the day held for him; but it was a good start, nonetheless.

****

Derek dries Stiles off thoroughly, rubbing him down with a towel and then actually taking the time to blow dry his hair for him. Stiles sits on the edge of the tub like a pampered cat, while Derek rubs his hands through his hair and blows him with hot air, practically purring into the touch every time his hand passes through.

Once Stiles is deemed good enough, Derek takes him into the bedroom where he pulls a small Rubbermaid box out from under the bed. Stiles lifts his eyebrows when he sees it, because Jesus Christ does the dude just have an entire storage unit somewhere filled with Rubbermaid boxes just to house his kink shit?, and even more when Derek angles the lid in such a way that as it’s opened Stiles can’t see all of its contents. When Derek catches Stiles looking, he smiles a bit crookedly. “All of our toys for the day are in here. I don’t want any surprises being spoiled.”

Stiles smirks. He always did love a good surprise.

The things that Stiles are allowed to see for the moment all consist of his outfit – and none of that is very surprising, not at all. It’s white thigh highs with red bows, lacey white panties, Stiles’ old and most favorite crop top, and of course, a red plaid skirt. Derek dresses him easily, pulling the shirt over his head and sliding the panties up his legs, pulling up his stockings and arranging the bows how he wants them to be. He buttons the skirt around Stiles’ waist, pats him on his bare stomach affectionately, and then sits him upright.

“You look very nice,” he compliments, standing up and leaving Stiles sitting by himself on the edge of the bed. He cocks his head to the side as he appraises Stiles in all his glory, from his feet in the stockings to his hair all soft and perfect from its pampering. “But there’s just a couple of things missing. I got you more presents, my love.”

“My favorite thing,” Stiles purrs, watching Derek dig around in that dorky Rubbermaid box again before coming up with two more of those little black boxes. The sight of them is like a hair-trigger, now, if Stiles is being honest – even though he just came, his dick jerks in his panties and he licks his lips, ecstatic.

Derek doesn’t give them to Stiles to open. He simply pops the first one open himself, pulling its contents out with no thought to the ceremony of it. He dangles a pair of red leather cuffs in his hand, and the first thing Stiles really notices about them is that they’re lined inside with something very, very soft, that’ll likely feel nice as hell on his skin even as a method of bondage and restraint. They look expensive, at that, which is really all Stiles needs to know about them to be pleased.

“Let’s get you all bound up,” Derek says, leaning over Stiles and pulling his wrists together behind his back. The first cuff goes around his wrist and is tied there, strapped down, and then the other is cuffed right alongside it. The two cuffs are connected by a very, very short length of chain links, that clink a little as Stiles tests their limits. “And the other…” He opens up the second box, tossing the lid off to the side and letting the bow fall down onto the floor under their feet without a care in the world.

He pulls out a collar. Not a choker like the one Stiles has on now and always wears, and not a necklace, but an honest to God collar. It’s red, because of course it is, and there’s a little golden bell hanging off the front like a charm alongside a solid gold heart pendant. Stiles stares at it for a moment, before looking up with big eyes to meet Derek’s in astonishment.

“This is a very special gift for you,” Derek explains, holding it out in both hands so Stiles can take a good long look at it. And yeah. That’s a collar, no doubts about it – red leather with a velvet lining on the inside, clunky and heavy looking, the charms ting-tinging against each other as they move in the air. “It’s not like your other one, because it’s only for play. And only certain kinds of play, right?”

“Yeah,” Stiles rasps, and then he clears his throat because he doesn’t want to sound nervous.

“Do you like it?” He holds it out again, waiting expectantly to hear Stiles’ answer.

It’s not a hard question to answer. “Yes, I do. Thank you, daddy. It looks expensive.” Stiles can just imagine Derek buying a fine leather BDSM collar off the internet, having it shipped to his apartment, ordering the charms separately and then taking all the time to put it together and wrap it up himself. It’s a dom thing, yeah, but it’s also…incredibly nerdy.

“It was,” Derek smirks, leaning down to wrap it gently around Stiles’ neck. It’s easier for him to operate with the collar tightening method than it is the choker-clasp way, because he gets it on and fitted in no time. He runs his finger underneath it to make sure it’s not too tight, and then he leans back to take a look at his handiwork.

He arranges the bell and the heart charm, fiddling with them for a moment with his fingers and smiling softly like he’s just so, so pleased with how it’s all turning out. “I should get this engraved,” he murmurs, mostly to himself as he plays with the heart charm. “Have it say baby or something, would you like that?”

Stiles blinks up at him, taking in the full sight of him. For his part, he had dressed like it were any other day. He’s got on a black cashmere sweater and black slacks, all of it tied together with a belt that has a gold buckle and nice dress shoes on his feet. As usual, he looks two steps away from pulling Stiles over his knee and spanking him for being bad, and it’s almost too much for Stiles to handle. The most notable piece of it all is his hard on, bulging out from the front of his paints and around his zipper, sticking up toward the waist.

Stiles can’t help himself. He leans in, putting his face very close to Derek’s crotch, and licks. His tongue pushes a nice wet stripe against the entire length of the erection, even as he’s asking himself what just came over him – but then he knows what it was. Everyone knows what it was. He doesn’t even have to explain it, does he?

Derek lets him lick two more times, tongue swiping all slow and precise, before he fits his big hand into Stiles’ hair. He uses the leverage to tug him off and away, and when Stiles looks up at him with big eyes, Derek looks stern and amused at the same time. His face pulls it off so effortlessly. “Did I say you could do that?” He asks, voice low.

Stiles blinks up at him, licking his lips. His eyes are huge. “No, daddy.”

“No, I didn’t, did I?” Even though his voice is harsh and it sounds like Stiles is in trouble, the hand in Stiles’ hair strokes affectionately and gently. “You’re only going to do exactly what I tell you to for the remainder of this day, do you understand? Nothing more, nothing less.”

With a heavy, thick swallow, Stiles nods his understanding.

“You’re mine,” Derek tells him, gripping his hair again and tugging his head so he’s staring at the ground instead of up at Derek’s face. “Be a good boy.”

***

Derek makes him breakfast.

He stands at the stove mixing and frying and spraying down pans, while Stiles sits in one of the stools at the island, hands still bound behind his back. Derek concentrates completely at the task at hand as Stiles just watches and waits patiently; Derek hasn’t said he couldn’t talk and likely wouldn’t ever say that to him without the use of a gag because it’s too tall of an order for Stiles to follow…but Stiles doesn’t have much to say. Derek cooks, Stiles watches, and that’s all there is to it.

Eventually, Derek brings two plates over to the island and sets one down right in front of Stiles. It’s Stile’s favorite – French toast and sausage, still steaming, the toast powdered with sugar and berries. Stiles smiles as he sees it, looking up to deliver that same smile right to Derek’s face. “Thank you,” he says, and Derek smiles right back at him.

“Anything for you,” he promises, kissing Stiles on his temple. He sets his own plate down and then ignores it in favor of picking up the only set of utensils there and setting to work on Stiles’ food. He cuts the two pieces of toast down into bite sized bits with his knife and fork, decimating the entire plate until even the sausage is down into manageable bites. Then, he takes the syrup and douses the entire plate, just the way Stiles likes it. Stiles watches all this with a salivating mouth, tugging on his restraints more than he even does when Derek edges him – he wants to eat that, god dammit.

But instead of Derek taking him out of his cuffs, he sets the fork and knife down. He picks up a single tiny square of toast with his fingers, and holds it out in front of Stiles’ mouth.

Ah, Stiles thinks, going cross-eyed at the syrupy morsel in front of him. Derek wants to hand feed him. They’ve done this before, but Derek has only ever fed him with a fork handy unless it was a finger food to begin with; this is entirely new territory. There’s syrup all over Derek’s fingers, dripping all over the place, and Stiles knows he’ll have to clean that mess up. That’s half of why Derek even chose this breakfast in particular in the first place; half because it genuinely is Stiles’ favorite (second only maybe to coconut French toast, but then that’s just getting too specific) and half because it’s…you know. Nasty.

Stiles leans in and sucks the piece off of Derek’s fingers, swiping his tongue a bit to collect all the excess syrup. Derek smiles at him, pleased, and then picks up another piece which Stiles treats the same way – eats it off his fingers, licks his fingers clean, repeat. “It’s really fucking good,” he says in between bites, right before a piece of sausage is being offered for him. He swipes it up with his mouth, chews, and swallows. “You are the best cook in all the world.”

“I’ll tell the Iron Chef I’ve knocked him out of first place.”

“I’m demanding French toast every day from now on,” he licks a dribble of syrup that had drifted down to Derek’s wrist up, doesn’t miss the way Derek’s eyes go all dark and intense as he does so.

They go on like that until Stiles’ plate is completely clean, leaving behind only little puddles of syrup that Stiles if half-tempted to lick up. It’s then that he realizes that Derek hadn’t even touched his food the entire time they were doing that, leaving it to grow cold as he focused on Stiles and Stiles alone.

Now, he picks up the fork and knife and pats Stiles on the leg with his free hand, before carving into his first piece of toast. “Sit patiently and digest that, okay baby?”

“Okay,” he agrees, shifting a bit in his seat so his bell jingles as he does so.

Derek eats quickly, decimating the plate in about half the time it took him to handfeed Stiles’, and then he leans back in his stool and pats his stomach. “That was good,” he says, turning over to look at Stiles with a very pleased expression on his face. Stiles is just sitting there, because what else is he supposed to do with his hands cuffed behind his back? Derek appraises him for a moment, and then his lips quirk up. “You’ve got a little…” he gestures around his own mouth, so Stiles knows what he means.

Stiles can’t use his hands to wipe anything away, so he just runs his tongue around his mouth. He tastes a bit of maple syrup, but he knows it’s still on his face. He gives it another valiant swipe, probably looking ridiculous – and then absolutely looking ridiculous, because Derek stops him.

Derek leans forward abruptly, and then without warning, runs his tongue on the length of Stiles’ chin, all the way from the tip to the bow of his mouth. Stiles is a bit flabbergasted for a moment, pulling back in surprise so the bell around his neck jingles with the heart charm, and then he stills. Derek licks his face a couple more times, maybe just for good measure, and then he pulls back with a soft, fond smile on his face as he cards his fingers through Stiles’ hair. “Better,” he murmurs, and Stiles gets butterflies in his chest for reasons he can’t fathom.

Derek has this way of being so soft and yet so harsh at the same time. For Christ’s sake, Stiles is sitting here, arms bound, collar around his neck like a bitch, after getting hand fed for twenty minutes – there’s no doubts in anyone’s mind about who’s in control here. And even licking Stiles’ face like that was an act of control in and of itself; but it was so…gentle.

Stiles is just obsessed with him, is all – the gentle and the harsh parts of him, both.

***

Derek sets Stiles up on the couch, kneeling and bent over so he has to rest his cheek against the upper-back where the upholstery kind of digs into his soft skin. He’s gagged again, still with his wrists bound up behind his back, staring out across the room because he can’t see Derek from this angle.

The familiar buzzing of the pink hitachi wand Derek had given him as a gift a couple of months ago starts up, and Stiles’ body tenses in anticipation. He presses it against Stiles’ hard length from under his panties, and Stiles jerks forward and closes his eyes.

Derek stops. “Stay still,” he commands, the buzzing still going off over their heads. He presses forward again, rubbing it up and down Stiles’ length, but still Stiles can’t help it. There’s something about the particular feel of a vibrator on his cock that makes him want to both chase it and run away from it; it’s too much, especially the way that Derek does it.

He moves away, and Derek spanks him once on his right cheek. “Stay still,” he says again, much more stern, and Stiles nods his affirmative to this command if only to get the sensation back on his dick.

It comes back, loud and buzzing and quick and harsh, and Stiles…pulls away, legs shaking.

With a heaving sigh, Derek tosses the vibrator off to the side so that it plops on the cushions, and Stiles would be lying if he didn’t admit that he was a little nervous about what’s to come. Derek told Stiles twice to stay still and three times he disobeyed it, completely inadvertently yes, but it happened all the same. He worries for a moment that he won’t be allowed to have the vibrator back and he whimpers an apology, fiddling his fingers where they’re pressed against his lower back.

But, Derek takes him by the hips and flips him over so he’s on his back in the cushions instead of kneeling up. His arms dig into the couch uncomfortably, yes, but he ignores that in favor of staring up at Derek with some level of adoration. “Spread your legs,” he says, and Stiles does. As wide as he can get them on the confines of the couch, so Derek has ample room to climb in between them and then hook Stiles’ legs by their knees up and out of his way. He observes Stiles for a moment, gagged and dressed up, and he smirks. “You look like a slut, opening up your legs like you’re showing me your cunt.”

Stiles blushes fiercely. Something hot and terrible – that Stiles likes – bubbles in his stomach at the words, the dirty dirty c-word most of all, and his cock twitches in interest in his panties.

With a cluck of his tongue, Derek switches the vibrator back on and presses it gently to Stiles’ erection behind all the lace. Stiles has nowhere to go, now, can barely move, trapped between Derek and the couch and the pleasure, so he just writhes as much as he can and makes desperate, pathetic little noises.

“There we go,” Derek says in a coo, rubbing the head of the vibe up and down Stiles’ cock nice and slow. “You need someone to hold you down, don’t you? You need someone to take care of you?”

Stiles nods, eyes rolling back into his head. He does need that. He needs it a lot; he needs his daddy, all the time, always. To tell him what to do and how to do it and when to come and whether or not he’s even allowed. On some level it’s unhealthy to think like that, Stiles knows, but then it’s just a scene. He’s still levelheaded enough to remind himself of that. Just a scene.

Derek spends some time pressing the vibrator against Stiles’ sensitive balls, rubbing and caressing them with the harsh buzzing, and Stiles would be kicking his legs if he had any space to do so. Derek’s only commentary to Stiles’ shaking legs, whimpers, and panting, is to stroke him gently on the part of his stomach exposed by his crop top and say, “you are so beautiful.” Which, Stiles doesn’t get how he could be, like this, sweating and desperate and slutty, but – Derek says it. So Stiles believes it.

Stiles’ bell rings almost maniacally as he twists around on the couch, lifting his hips up into the pressure as much as he can in his current predicament. When the time gets closer and closer, and right when he feels like he’s about to unravel from the sensation, he sits up as much as he can and tries to catch Derek’s attention.

Begging to come isn’t impossible with a gag on, as Derek has taught Stiles before. It’s just…slightly more humiliating. Let’s put it that way. Lucky for the both of them, that’s sort of Stiles’ thing.

He hoists himself up in a way that’s really, really straining for him without the use of his hands, body all tight and stretched. With his hugest bambi eyes, as Derek calls them, he meets Derek’s and pleads. It sounds a lot like please, please, please, pleeaasseee, only without the syllables or the vowels; just the sounds, the emotion of begging and desperation.

Derek smiles at him. “Go on and come, sweetheart,” he invites, and Stiles thumps back down on the cushions in relief, panting through his nose and almost crying when his orgasm builds. He hitches up tight against Derek’s body and curls his legs around him, stretching his head back in a way that makes his bell jingle as he closes his eyes and invites the pleasure.

He comes, hard and without warning for Derek, making long mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, sounds that get mostly swallowed by the heart-gag. The vibrator buzzes for only a moment after that, before it shuts off and Derek tickles his stomach playfully. Stiles doesn’t react much to that, too fucked out in his post-orgasm haze to care.

Then, Derek sighs. “You came all over your nice white panties.” It’s accusatory. Like, Stiles has done something wrong even though Derek, by all the counts, is the ringmaster of the entire situation.

Even still, Stiles gently apologizes behind his gag even though he knows he’s not wrong. Things are starting to get a little bit hazier.

“It’s okay, my love. I have another pair right here you can put on. Let’s just get these dirty ones off…” he pushes the skirt up all the way and then tugs gently on the elastic of the lace, pulling Stiles’ legs together as he slides them down along his bare thighs, along the cloth of his stockings, off of his feet and off altogether. “There. There’s mess all over your cock, too. Jesus, you’re fucking filthy.”

Another one of those pangs in his gut that feels badwrongmean, that nearly makes tears spring to his eyes because it feels so negative and harsh and Stiles himself is so soft, but that…he can’t explain. That hurt/not-hurt, bad/good, like/hate feeling.

As if it’s a great tax on his entire life, Derek heaves a sigh and rifles around in the drawer of the little end table that he has off to the side of his nice couch. He comes up with a little pack of wet wipes, pulling one out with a shake and then leaning back over Stiles’ body. He swipes the come off gently, working quickly and efficiently – he tugs a bit on what little pubic hair Stiles keeps, collecting the come from there as well, and Stiles whines and tries to pull away. “It’s not my fault you’re dirty,” he says with a shrug, and Stiles blinks.

It’s over before too long, Derek tossing the wet wipe away into the nearby trash. Stiles feels all fresh down there, much more comfortable than he usually does after coming all over himself. He rubs his legs together a bit, satisfied, but his cheeks are still hot with shame. There’s something inherently embarrassing about having to be cleaned up with a fucking wet wipe, and he’s betting Derek knows that. Even more to the point, he’s betting that’s why Derek did it.

Derek leans over him, soiled panties in hand, and then works on taking Stiles’ gag off behind Stiles’ head. It comes off easily, the straps falling open as Derek unbuckles him, and Derek tosses it aside with a thump on the couch cushions.

He gently massages Stiles’ jaw, checking to see if it’s sore or hurts at all maybe, and Stiles blinks up at him without commentary, even though he has the freedom to speak, now. He just…doesn’t much feel like it. At one point, Derek holds Stiles’ mouth completely wide open, and Stiles doesn’t think much of it. Just testing to make sure he’s not hurt, Stiles thinks.

And then, Derek pushes those dirty panties right into Stiles’ mouth. The whole thing. Bundling them up and stuffing them in there like they belong there, using his index finger to shut his mouth completely once the fabric is all tucked inside. Stiles looks up at him with big eyes, and Derek cocks his head to the side and lifts a single eyebrow; waiting for Stiles to either indicate that this is okay by not spitting them out, or to safe word out by doing just that.

They hold each other’s eye contact for some time.

This is the most Derek has ever degraded him before. Shoving his own dirty fucking panties into his mouth that are covered in his own come…Jesus Christ. It’s filthy, it’s nasty, it’s terribly degrading in every sense of the word. But all the same, Stiles doesn’t spit them out.

He keeps them there, moving his tongue along the fabric with a hot, ashamed gut as Derek stares at him. Once enough silence has passed and Stiles has still got them in his mouth, Derek tips his head and says, “they’re not coming out until you clean them.”

Stiles huffs a sigh through his nose. As he feels along the fabric in his mouth he’s thankful that they weren’t on for very long – really, all he can taste is fabric, the barest hint of laundry detergent, and his own come. And Derek has shoved Stiles’ come into his own mouth a dozen times before, so it’s nothing new, really.

As he sucks dutifully to swallow all the traces of his come off of the lace, Derek lifts up a pair of flashy red panties that lace up on the sides, holding them up so Stiles can look at them. Another present, because Stiles has never seen those before. “You like these?”

Stiles sucks and nods, so Derek pats him on the stomach like a good boy and makes quick work of sliding them up Stiles’ legs. When they’re up, Derek is sure to tuck Stiles’ cock into the elastic of the waist, so the head sticks out just the way he likes it to. When that’s all said and done, he leans over Stiles’ body, cradling it with his knees and cocking his head to the side as he looks down on him, a soft smile on his face.

“Do you like it when I humiliate you like this?” He asks, voice soft. Stiles swallows, running his tongue along the fabric to make sure they’re as clean as he can get them.

He nods yes.

Derek makes a come on gesture with two fingers. “Open up,” he commands, and Stiles does, revealing the bunched up and soaking wet panties there in his mouth. Derek reaches in with two fingers and plucks them out, holding them up in the air for both of them to look at. Even though the things are covered in Stiles’ saliva, Derek unballs them and appraises them in all their glory for a moment. “Very good,” he praises, tossing them off to the side like they don’t even matter even though Stiles had been a good boy and done as he was asked with them. “Very, very good, sweetheart.”

He reaches down and fiddles with Stiles’ bell and heart charm, like he’s seemed so fond of doing from the second he put the damned collar on to begin with. Hell, even before he gave it to Stiles he probably sat around playing with the charms absentmindedly, like some big creep. With an adoring, loving look in his eyes, he says, “you’re my good boy,” voice all smooth and dreamy sounding in Stiles’ ears.

Yes, Stiles thinks, basking in the praise in the wake of so much humiliation. Yes, he is.

***

Stiles sucks on Derek’s cock where it’s coming out of his pants, the balls fat and heavy and drawn up, the cock itself erect and red. He runs his tongue along the head of it, basking in the silence and vague solitude of his task.

He’s underneath the desk in Derek’s office, a room he’s never once set foot in because why the hell would he, perched in between Derek’s spread legs in the relative dark. He’s got his ankles tied together as well as his hands this time, and Derek had used silk ties with triple knots to get the job done before stuffing Stiles down here like a whore to suck and lick at him while he gets work done.

It’s quiet. The ticking of the clock, the swipe of Derek’s pen on paper, and Stiles’ mouth moving along Derek’s hard flesh. Every now and then, Derek will make a noise – a grunt, or a panting, or murmuring something like good boy, or your fucking slutty mouth, Jesus Christ, or I should just keep you like this.

Derek grips Stiles’ hair like he’s done a dozen times since Stiles was put down here, and uses the leverage to pull his mouth off of his own cock. He presses Stiles’ cheek into his thigh and pats the opposite cheek, a silent now stay there, before running his fingers through Stiles’ hair. He’s done this so many times, now; it’s been forty-five minutes, at least, and Stiles has been sucking and sucking and sucking, but every time Derek gets close, he pulls Stiles off and pats him on the cheek. Leaves him to stare longingly at the erection in between his legs.

Stiles figures Derek is just trying to make the experience last as long as possible. But it’s crazy, because he’s essentially edging himself using Stiles’ mouth, but he’s so…controlled. He just sits up there and does his work and doesn’t act at all like Stiles does when he’s edged. Which is like the entire world is coming to an end, or something.

But Derek just sits, works, pats Stiles on the head like a favored pet. It’s mindboggling. Then, Stiles guesses that’s why he’s a dom and not a sub – control, plain and simple.

Suddenly but slowly, maybe so as not to startle Stiles too much, Derek rolls his chair out enough for him to peek underneath the desk and look in on Stiles. Stiles can’t imagine what he looks like – lips all red and shiny, face flushed, eyes a little glazed over, but Derek smiles like he likes what he sees, so Stiles doesn’t worry about it. “You can talk to me, if you want,” Derek says with a cock to his head, looking Stiles up and down. From this angle, his hard on in his brand new panties is evident, legs open wide enough that Derek can see up his skirt. “You’ve been very quiet.”

Stiles considers this for a moment, opening and closing his mouth. Then, he ducks his face into Derek’s leg and shakes his head, like he’s embarrassed by the attention. Derek curls his fingers into Stiles’ hair and sighs through his nose. “No? Not in a talking mood?”

When Stiles doesn’t answer, not even a shake of his head, Derek gently twists Stiles’ head so he has to look directly up at Derek. And Derek’s face is sort of changed now, as he leans in very close and takes both of Stiles’ cheeks in his hands. He says, in his normal Derek voice and not his dom or his daddy voice, “are you okay? Do you need to stop?”

The lines between subspace and subdrop can be blurred, sometimes. It’s not always obvious that when Stiles goes quiet like this that he’s okay or if he’s just not, because Stiles won’t talk to him. Stiles knows this, and he also knows that it can sometimes make Derek crazy, because he, literally, won’t talk sometimes. It just gets harder to think clearly when he’s in either state of mind, but he needs to let Derek know that he doesn’t feel bad, he feels good. He feels really, really good, and safe, and comfortable, down here between Derek’s legs, and he’s not scared or unsure or anxious, at all.

He licks his lips. Derek can turn domming on and off as easily as anything else, even when he gets into his own headspace, but Stiles…can’t do that. He’s stuck. “I just wanna make you come, daddy,” he rasps, and Derek traces his face some more with his eyes. Searching.

Finally, he sits back up. He seems satisfied that Stiles isn’t about to have a mental breakdown, at least. “Okay,” he agrees, wheeling himself back in. Derek’s cock is right there again for Stiles to look at, so he licks his lips and waits patiently for the go-ahead. “Make that mouth of yours useful.”

“Yes, daddy,” he says softly, leaning in and sucking it back into his mouth.

***

Another spoonful of yogurt comes into his face, and Stiles dutifully takes it into his mouth, sucking it clean and then pulling off of it so Derek knows he’s ready for the next bite. He’s kneeling on a pillow in between Derek’s legs, hands still behind his back, and Derek is feeding him lunch. It’s lunch time. Stiles has no concept of that time, no idea the exact hour or minute of the day, but it’s lunch time, and Derek is feeding him.

“We are going to have a big, beautiful dinner tonight, so lunch is a little light,” Derek tells him, ripping off a piece of toast with nutella spread over it to feed into Stiles’ mouth. “You wanna have lots of room to eat anything you want, right?”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, voice low and strange in his own ears. “Are you going to fuck me anytime soon?”

Derek sort of eyeballs him. Then, he stuffs Stiles’ mouth full of yogurt so he has to shut up. “When I feel like it, yes. How’s that?”

Stiles swallows his yogurt and narrows his eyes. “I’m fuckable.”

“Yes, very,” Derek promises, rolling his eyes a bit at where this conversation is going. “But I decide when you get fucked, don’t I? So be quiet and eat or I’ll put you in the corner.”

Stiles pouts, annoyed and bratty. But when another finger pinch of food comes to him, he licks it up and chews obediently; he doesn’t want to wind up in the corner. He wants Derek to pay attention to him and pamper him and make him come more, and he doesn’t want to get punished.

“Good boy,” Derek praises.

***

The rest of the day passes by in a blurry endless haze where everything all sort of blends into one endless scene. Even though Derek had set it up in such a way that there’s a scene, and then comfort, and then another scene, and then comfort, it feels like it’s all…one. There’s one point where Derek jerks him off and forces him to lick his come off of Derek’s fingers, and then strokes his back up and down and suggests they try and watch a movie.

The movie happened, but mostly, only Derek watched it. Stiles favored curling into Derek’s chest with his head on his lap and napping, safe and comfortable enough to do exactly that with little problems, even without his pillow. When he woke up, Derek was stroking his hair and cooing at him and the credits were rolling, so Stiles just stretched and wondered what they were going to do next.

Derek spent so much time fiddling with Stiles’ collar affectionately, like it’s just his favorite thing in the world, and Stiles spent a lot of time not speaking, not a word for hours at a time, and there were orgasms and Derek’s hands all over him, and, most importantly of all, never a single second of it where Stiles was unsure or afraid.

The time spent out of his own head is incredible. Stiles has never felt more weightless.

Right now, Derek is laying Stiles back on his bed and rubbing his stomach up and down, up and down, smirking at him. He’s naked, cock speared up and lubed and ready to go, while Stiles stares up at him with big eyes, licking his lips and fussing in his skirt and socks. Derek leans over, presses a kiss to Stiles’ cheek, fisting his hands into Stiles’ little shirt. They kiss for a moment, Derek gripping the crop top harder and harder while Stiles is distracted, and then – rrriiipppp.

Derek rips the entire thing right down the middle. Stiles blinks in surprise, while Derek pulls out of the kiss and then admires his own handiwork. Jesus Christ, Stiles thinks, observing the mess with his own two eyes. It’s ripped all right, clean down the center, so his bare chest is out on display.

Stiles looks at him, and pouts. “That was a nice thing you bought for me, daddy.”

Derek shrugs, like it doesn’t matter to him. It likely doesn’t, not at all. A material, replaceable thing. “I’m going to fuck you, now,” he says, matter-of-fact, and yeah, Stiles had figured that. The guy spent a solid thirty seconds lubing his cock up and then scissoring his fingers in and out of Stiles around his underwear – he sorta deduced. He’s not that far gone.

He’s pretty far gone. But two plus two is still four.

Stiles had expected Derek to tear his panties off and plunge in then and there, like Stiles has been dying and waiting for, but instead, he smirks. It’s his bad smirk. Stiles knows it well; it’s the one he uses when he’s going to do something to Stiles that’s dirty. Fucking is pretty dirty, but not as dirty as other things, Stiles has learned. There’s really nothing filthier than Derek rimming Stiles while demanding that Stiles beg him to “eat his pussy harder” throughout the entire thing, so his threshold for gross has gotten pretty high.

Of course, it’s another vibrator that Derek produces. Stiles sort of (almost, barely, not at all) rues the fucking day he revealed to Derek that he loved vibrators. At this point, they share about twenty of them, all different types and colors and sizes. There’s these two little tiny ones that are like key chains that Derek has stuffed into Stiles’ underwear before just to lean back and watch the show – they’re freaks, for God’s sake. The point being, they have a lot of vibrators, and it should really stop surprising Stiles when Derek whips them out so often.

He bites his lip and pulls back Stiles’ underwear, allowing him ample space to tuck the thing in right against his cock. His erection and the vibe sit side by side, both trapped in the confines of the lace, and Derek lifts his eyes and tickles Stiles’ chest, bared by the earlier ripping session. “This will only stay put if you do,” he says, fiddling absentmindedly with a nipple. “So I suggest you stay still, baby.”

Derek hasn’t got Stiles bound up in any way, shape or form. His hands are free, arms moving all over the place, and he isn’t even gagged. Stiles had thought he was just sort of over it after an entire day of it, but now, he’s more than certain he’s just fucking with him.

The one time Stiles has to stay completely still, and Derek isn’t even going to help him with that at all. Of course.

Derek runs his fingers along the lace that protects Stiles’ entrance, licking his lips and eyeballing Stiles’ face. “You are so pretty. You did so well all day.”

Stiles nods, swallowing heavy and thick. Nervous, he is. He doesn’t think he can stay immobile for an entire fucking. Not without a little help.

“Have you been thinking about my cock inside of you all day?” Before he gives Stiles an opportunity to answer, he curls his fingers around Stiles’ balls and tugs them a bit, making Stiles cry out. “Tell me you have.”

“I have, daddy.”

“You have what?”

Stiles bites his lip and looks at the ceiling. His face is hot, flush with embarrassment. He can’t look Derek in the eyes, but he can say it to nothing and no one, up to the ceiling light. “I have been thinking about your cock inside of me, daddy.”

“Yeah?” He strokes, gentle, gentle, at his cockhead. “You want it?”

“Please,” he begs, twisting and baring his neck with the choker and the collar there, almost in submission. “I’ve been so good, I deserve it.”

“I know, baby. Oh, I know you deserve it, my good, good boy.” Without any warning whatsoever, Derek is doing the same thing to Stiles’ panties, the brand fucking new ones, that he had done to the crop top. He rips them, but only in one spot.

Like an animal, he tears away at the back side, leaving an ample sized hole back there for him to fuck in and out of – but the rest of the panties, that is, the part holding his cock and the vibrator, remain intact. Stiles sits up, hefting himself up onto his elbows. “Daddy,” he chastises, voice thin and upset. “Those were new. I liked them.”

“I’ll buy you a new pair,” he snaps, arranging his hips and lining his cock up with Stiles’ entrance. “You have dozens of pairs already in that exact color.”

“But I liked those.”

“Brat,” he says with all the accusation in the world. He slides his cockhead in, so Stiles’ breath goes shallow and he clutches at the sheets, mindless. “My money paid for your things and I’ll rip them if I want to.”

Still vaguely disappointed about losing his brand new panties before he even got a chance to really look at himself in the mirror, but accepting the fact that Derek is bottoming out inside of him and there are much more interesting, pressing matters at hand (and that he really does have fifty pairs of panties, at this point, and he’s being spoiled getting upset about one), he just stays quiet and takes his fucking.

Derek’s balls slide up against his ass, rubbing into the lace of what’s left back there. With no warning whatsoever, Derek flips the switch on the vibrator, turning it up to medium where it’ll likely stay no matter what Stiles begs to have happen, and Stiles whines. “Ah –“ he bites his lip and fidgets his legs in Derek’s grip. “It feels – daddy –“

“Shhh,” Derek says, fucking in and out once, so Stiles clutches into the sheets and has to put every inch of his effort into not moving his body any more than that. “Shhh, baby.”

Stiles screws his eyes shut and drops his mouth open, fingers curling and uncurling again and again. Derek has always fucked him as hard as physically possible, so even though Stiles isn’t moving himself at all, Derek is moving him. Quite a bit, at that. The force with which he dives into Stiles again and again has his bell tinging, his body moving up the bed and sliding along the sheets just a bit with every thrust, so Stiles has to push his hand up against the head board to keep from moving any farther. “Oh, my God…”

Derek hefts Stiles’ legs up, angling them so he can get a better lock on pounding into Stiles’ hole with abandon. Stiles is mindless. He reaches down as if he’s going to get that vibrator and control it, run it where he wants and how along his cock instead of just pressing against the side and giving him only the minimal amount of pleasure it could.

Then, he stops himself at the last second, pulling his hand back and turning his head off to the side to whine. Derek sees this, smiles as he pants between his teeth. “You don’t even need me to tie you anymore, do you? I’ve trained you,” he coos, his soft voice the polar opposite of his harsh fucking. “You’re my little kitten, you don’t do anything until I say so, is that right?”

“Yes,” Stiles agrees, breathless. “Yours, all yours, please –“

“Please?”

Stiles doesn’t know why he said that, he just…said it. His brain is in an overload of too many things, too much, all too much, and not just from what’s happening here; from the entire day. He’s been humiliated and controlled and on his knees and gagged and turned into Derek’s toy, and the cherry on top is this; Derek not actively controlling him at all. Stiles’ hands free, his mouth free, the vibrator in perfect reach of being stopped or controlled as opposed to every other time when Stiles is trapped and bound, tortured with the sensation.

He’s being tortured, now, in the most blissfully perfect way. And he could stop it all and get his own orgasm, he could – but he won’t. That’s the point. Derek is right.

Their relationship has progressed so far that when Stiles says he knows his place, he means it. He’s nothing, nothing at all in the bedroom and in a scene, except for what Derek says he is.

With the help of the vibrator and Derek’s constant pursuit of Stiles’ prostate, his orgasm starts coming on him faster than Stiles would have expected. He’s come four times today already; you’d think he’d be fucked out – but no. He wants more, his body wants more, and really, what it wants is what Derek has to give. He wants to be fucked, and owned, and he wants Derek to humiliate him again and call him a dirty slut and spank him, and – anything. Anything Derek wants to do to him.

“Can I please come, daddy, please?” He begs, curling his hands and arms against his chest in a mockery of them being tied there.

Derek doesn’t answer right away. He fucks and grunts, pushing Stiles’ legs up again. All the other times Stiles asked today, Derek had instantly granted permission – this time, he is quiet for a moment, while Stiles gets closer and closer and still with no go-ahead from Derek.

Stiles cries out, nearly crying for real as tears build in his eyes from the feeling of being ignored, and the pleasure, and the…everything. He’s fragile, right now. Sensitive as his own dick, for God’s sake. “Please, please,” he begs, a single tear streaming out of his eye and down his cheek to itch along his skin. “Please, daddy, tell me I can come, daddy, daddy, sir, please –“

“Come,” Derek says, like a command. And fuck, if it doesn’t work.

Stiles does. Right as Derek says he can, and Stiles’ entire body quakes. It’s like he’s freezing, his body shaking and jerking as the vibrator and Derek’s cock wring the thing out of him. He rides it out, and then immediately goes still when it’s over. Tired, and fucked out, and useless.

He knows Derek comes because he feels it. But for the most part after it’s done, he goes away in his own head. All he needs is Derek’s hands on him, which they are, and Derek’s voice speaking to him, which it is, softly over his head, and he’s set. He doesn’t think. He just…lets it happen.

Derek undresses him out of his outfit quickly, leaving Stiles naked as the day he was born on Derek’s bed, curling into the sheets and leaning up into Derek’s touch on his bare back. “It’s six o’clock,” he says, and Stiles hasn’t known the time all day. He had suspected Derek kept it from him as some weird form of control, but now Stiles knows.

It’s six o’clock. They started at eight in the morning, so it’s been ten hours. Ten straight hours of all of that, and it feels like it passed in the blink of an eye.

“I need you to say something to me, baby.”

Stiles closes his eyes and wants to go to sleep, but Derek pats his cheek frantically but softly, so Stiles blinks them open and glowers. “I need to know you’re not dropping, baby, please talk to me. Please, love.”

With a huff, Stiles grabs at one of Derek’s pillows and cuddles it. “I want sweatpants and hot coco.”

“Yes, of course,” Derek promises, stroking up and down on Stiles’ bare skin, all over him, and it feels so nice. “Anything you want, anything. In just a minute. I can’t leave you alone just yet.”

“Mmkay.”

“Let’s just sit here for a minute, okay? Don’t sleep.”

“Tired.”

“I know, but don’t sleep. For me? Stay awake for me. I’d like you to speak more, can you do that? You’ve barely said five full sentences in six hours, so I need you to talk to me, now.”

Stiles tries to flip through his head and think of something to say, but his head is…blank. It’s not usually like this, not for him. He’s always got something to say. He used to get kicked out of classrooms for not being able to shut up, shoved into detention for his big mouth, disappointing his father with his embarrassing hyperactivity and proclivity to get into trouble, but now…silence.

Blessed, blessed silence.

“You ripped my nice underwear.”

Derek huffs. It might be a laugh. “I did, I’m sorry. I’ll buy you another brand new pair, how about that?”

“Okay.”

“We’ll go shopping. Let’s make a list of things you want together, okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, happy to have something solid and asinine to focus on. “Um – new pants. Black pants. I want potato chips.”

“Underwear, pants, potato chips.”

“Some new furniture. I want a new bed frame.”

“Perfect,” he rubs at Stiles’ shoulders, like a massage, and Stiles melts into the touch with a light sigh. “Anything you want, you can have it.”

“Mummified remains of the great Megalodon.”

There’s a pause, Derek’s hands pausing, and then he’s leaning down and resting his weight on top of Stiles entirely, kissing the back of his neck. “There you are,” he murmurs, nuzzling his nose into Stiles’ ear. “I love you so much. I love you so much.”

Stiles accepts the touch and the praise, smirking as he sheds his headspace and comes back into reality. “I love sweatpants and hot chocolate.”

“Yes, right, of course,” Derek says frantically, hefting himself up off Stiles’ body and quickly shoving his legs into his boxer shorts. Stile watches, sitting up a bit and smiling at Derek’s broad back as he practically trips over himself to give Stiles what he wants. “I’ll be right back.”

He is right back. He comes back into the bedroom in three seconds with grey sweat pants, dresses Stiles in them as he kisses his chest and stomach and showers praise and love all over him. “You are so fucking special to me, you cannot imagine, I’d do anything for you. I just want you to be happy, that’s all I want, and I want to treat you like you deserve and – and –“

Stiles has to actually press his finger to Derek’s lips, squelching down this surge of overzealous affection he’s getting. It’s domspace. Or, it’s the after effects of it. It’s like he can’t fucking deal with how much Stiles just did for him, how good he was in all the scenes, how he subbed for Derek just like Derek wanted him to; now, he owes Stiles a lot. As if Stiles didn’t enjoy every second of being his little fuckdoll for ten hours. “Baby wants hot chocolate,” he murmurs, finger still pressed against Derek’s lips. “Extra chocolatey. Steamed milk. Whipped cream. Please, thank you.”

“Yes,” Derek agrees, standing from the bed and bustling off to do Stiles’ bidding. “Be right back,” he calls from down the hall. Then, distantly, “holler if you need anything, anything at all.”

Stiles mouths anything, anything at all to himself along with Derek as he says it, rolling his eyes. The mottos of their relationship would be yes, daddy and anything, anything at all anything for you my love I love you so much I’d die for you I’d sell my penthouse and live in a box with you, and on and on and on. He just gets so…anxious, after a scene.

Stiles would say that he “takes care” of Derek as much as Derek takes care of Stiles after all is said and done, but the reality is, Stiles doesn’t need to lift a finger to take care of Derek in the wake of domspace. All Stiles has to do is allow himself to be pampered and doted upon, accept Derek’s mountains of praise and bizarre romantic declarations, and kiss him a lot. He’s easy.

Derek reappears with Stiles’ steaming hot chocolate, in a huge mug towering with enough whipped cream to feed a family of five their daily caloric intake, and presents it to him like a cat offering its master a dead mouse. “Thank you, daddy,” Stiles says sweetly, taking the mug in both hands and sipping.

“We need to talk,” Derek says, climbing up onto the bed and sitting criss cross in front of where Stiles is all spread out, propped up on the pillows and drinking his treat. “Let’s go over everything, every last detail. No stone left unturned. Let’s start with the shower –“

“We don’t need to go over the shower,” Stiles insists, tiredly shaking his head. “We don’t need to go over anything, I promise. I’m okay. I didn’t drop. You’re a good dom. You did everything right. Please, can we nap? I’m so sleepy.”

Derek stares at him, lips parted. Then, he argues. “But I just think that we can’t –“

“I would tell you in a heartbeat if you did anything to me that we had to go over,” he promises, reaching out and clutching at Derek’s hand with his own – warm, from the drink his hand. “Let’s have a nap, we both need one. Come on,” he pulls on Derek’s hand to get him closer, and closer, until he manages to press Derek’s head down into the crook of his arm, his face resting on Stiles’ chest. He sips his coco and plays with Derek’s hair, leaning his own head back and feeling warm, and light.

“Dinner is at ten o’clock,” Derek says in a low voice. “I set the alarm for eight.”

“Okay.” Stiles agrees, licking some whipped cream up. “We’ll talk when we wake up.”

Derek falls asleep first. Almost instantly, at that. He snores and drools on Stiles’ bare stomach, cradling him like a stuffed animal and twitching in his sleep.

***

Stiles is in the mirror, adjusting his hair with gel and squeezing until he gets the perfect spiked effect that he likes so much, pushing and pulling his strands in every which direction. He’s focused intently on his task, all dressed up for dinner but barefoot still.

For a few moments, he works on adjusting his shirt collar and then smoothing out his pants – and Derek is suddenly there in the mirror. He just appears out of the corner of Stiles’ eyes, a dark shadow in all black hovering right behind him, and Stiles nearly jumps out of skin.

When he realizes it’s just Derek, he puts his hand over his pounding heart and turns away from the mirror slowly, looking over his shoulder at Derek standing there right behind him like a fucking ghoul. “Announce yourself,” Stiles snaps. “Don’t just stand there silently after sneaking in the room like a cat.”

“Sorry,” Derek says, but he’s clearly not sorry at all. He snickers and puts his hands in his pockets with a big grin, edging himself closer to Stiles. And then closer. Closer, still. Until his front is pressed right up against Stiles’ back, snaking his hand around Stiles’ hip and squeezing it affectionately. Then, he starts fussing.

He adjusts Stiles’ collar the way he likes it, fiddles with his belt buckle, suggests that maybe Stiles should wear a jacket because it’s going to be cold, and then – worst of all – he starts putting his hands in Stiles’ hair. The hair that Stiles has just spent copious amounts of time detailing down to perfection.

Stiles pinwheels his arms, turning around until he’s lightly hitting Derek with them, shoving him off and away. “Stop hovering, oh my God! You’re, like, obsessed with me right now!”

“I’m obsessed just because I think you should wear a jacket?” He raises his eyebrows, a smirk on his lips.

It’s not just about the damn jacket. Not by a fucking longshot. Ever since they woke up from their nap, Derek has been all the fuck over Stiles. He insisted they shower together for the second time today, and they didn’t even do anything sexual; Derek just had to have Stiles in there with him for whatever reason as he shampooed his damn hair. And then Stiles kept catching him staring in the mirror while he brushed his teeth and scrubbed his hair with a towel; and it wasn’t a casual stare. Oh, no.

This was intent eyes, serious twist to his face the way stalkers look at their prey in Lifetime movies, minutes on end, staring. It’s almost as if Derek strongly suspects that Stiles is going to go up in flames at any moment, or start crying, or get all fucked up and upset about something. Which is bizarre; because all Stiles has done since coming out of the scene is nap and snack and clean himself. It’s not exactly the marks of someone about to jump off the deep end.

“I’m fine. Your mother-henning is driving me up a wall.”

“Well, excuse me for making sure you’re okay,” Derek defends a bit haughtily, pulling on the lapels of his jacket with a big huff. “That was an intense scene. I put dirty underwear in your mouth.”

Stiles’ face goes beet red, and he whips around to stare at himself in the mirror. Which is a bad idea, because, you know…self-awareness theory. He stares at himself for a moment, face all splotchy and his lips parted, and he becomes aware that yes, yes he had dirty come-underwear in his mouth like the grossest, kinkiest human being alive.

Worse still, he liked it. “Why are kinks always so fucked up when my dick is soft?” He grouses, looking away from his own eyes as if he’s ashamed by himself looking at himself.

Derek’s mouth is abruptly on his neck, peppering kisses all along it and up towards his jaw while his hands wrap around Stiles’ waist. Stiles blinks, nearly getting knocked over by the intensity with which Derek all but attacks him with affection, and then rolls his eyes when Derek starts talking. “I just love you so much,” he murmurs before licking a stripe up Stiles’ neck; Stiles squishes his face together but allows it, because Derek’s tongue has been in way worse places than that before, ho-boy. “I want to melt into you, I want to be inside you again, I want –“

“Oh, my God…” Stiles pushes Derek’s face away from his neck with two fingers and turns on him – Derek doesn’t seem concerned. He looks all starry-eyed. “You need, like, a serious fucking spa day or something, Derek. Or, you need dom-therapy. I think I broke you.”

It reminds Stiles a lot of the couple of times he slept with dudes who had never slept with another guy before, or were just realizing that they were gay. They’d get crazy attached after fucking Stiles that first time, call all the time even though Stiles had been clear it was a one night stand, follow him around like lost little puppies because Stiles had completely messed with their heads just by having sex with them, or something.

That’s the look on Derek’s face right now, has been since the second he unfurled Stiles from his outfit. The lost puppy look. Apparently, doing an all-day scene and being his submissive little doll for hours on end has got Derek all fucked up over Stiles, the same way Stiles used to fuck up ‘straight’ boys.

“I can feel myself being a little crazy,” Derek finally agrees, slowly. “I don’t know, I just – I can’t help it. I wanna take care of you so bad…”

“Then take me to dinner,” Stiles sighs, figuring there’s no way out of this tonight. Derek is going to fucking spoonfeed Stiles at the restaurant, he’s almost positive of it, and fuck it. Whatever. The man has proven himself time and time again to be one who doesn’t half-ass anything, so fine.

They go out to the restaurant, and they’re one of the few people actually there. Which is surprising, considering it’s Valentine’s Day – and then Stiles remembers that it’s ten o’clock at night and Derek must have paid his way into a reservation this late, so of course, it’s just them and the other rich fucks at the restaurant. It’s a nice place, one that Stiles has actually never been to before; there’s fine table cloths and servers all dressed up and a ton of red balloons everywhere. He still prefers the fountain room, but this’ll do just fine.

Their waitress pops champagne for them even before asking them how they’re doing, stuffing it into the ice bucket after pouring them both tall flutes of the stuff. Surprisingly, Derek doesn’t try to reach over the table and slowly feed Stiles his drink as if Stiles has suddenly lost all bodily functions – he just sits there and sips his own, watching Stiles like a hawk.

They order, Derek getting a steak because of course and Stiles settling for the fancy hamburger they have on the menu, and then Derek is back to the staring. Even when Stiles pointedly looks away and drinks his champagne harder, Derek watches his every movement.

“I feel like I’m the victim in a slasher film.”

“Huh?” Derek blinks, as if coming out of a trance.

“You’re fucking Friday the 13th staring at me, dude.”

Derek taps his fingers on the table-top, lips pursed. He clearly didn’t think that was funny, and Stiles has learned that when Derek thinks things are unfunny, he gives Stiles a lecture of some sort. This proves to be true yet again when Derek straightens up in his place and clears his throat, opening his mouth to start in. “You haven’t said anything about what you actually thought of what happened –“

“I told you I had fun and enjoyed it,” Stiles counters.

This, apparently, isn’t good enough for Derek, because he continues. “I want details. What specifically did you really like or just sort of like or – anything, for fuck’s sake. I’m worried about you, you went three hours without saying anything, that’s not – that’s not you.”

It really isn’t him. Stiles can’t pin down the exact time period that Derek is referring to, because he knows he went several very long stints of comfortable silence, where he didn’t have to think up something clever to say, or think about anything at all. He really liked that. But he can see why it might be disconcerting to Derek, even after it’s all said and done.

“Okay, okay,” he puts his hands up, surrendering. “Look, I like to not-talk sometimes. I know that sounds weird coming from me, right now, but uh…yeah. You know I can be quiet sometimes.”

“Not for that long,” Derek says as he stares at Stiles’ face, as if he’s checking to make sure Stiles isn’t just saying that to assuage Derek’s fears. “I mean, you were…refusing to speak, at some points.”

Stiles shrugs. “I didn’t need to say anything. I was…safe.”

That gives Derek some pause. He seems to roll the word around and around his head for a moment, before licking his lips and leaning a bit over the table. Then, he repeats it. “Safe.”

“Yeah,” Stiles nods, a smile pulling up at the corners of his lips. “Which is just how you make me feel, because again, you’re a good boyfriend and a really attentive, amazing dom. I don’t know why we have to keep going over this, like you either think I’m make of glass and am going to break or you’re just…terrible, or something? Do you think that?”

“What?” Derek pulls his eyebrows together.

“Do you really think you’re terrible and are going to hurt me all the time?”

Derek laughs. It’s this low, sarcastic, bitter thing – that’s out of place, for how Derek has been acting and talking for the past several hours. He’s been soft. This isn’t. “I don’t think that,” he shakes his head. “I am terrible. I do terrible things.”

“That is not the you that I’m familiar with,” his voice is low and careful as he speaks, because when Derek gets like this, it…upsets Stiles. A lot.

“Other people could tell you all about it,” he mutters mostly to himself it would seem, before downing his entire glass of champagne and frowning.

“I don’t care about other people, I care about you and I, and I’m telling you that you’re good to me. So fuck everything else,” he narrows his eyes and stares at his bread plate, crumbs the only thing left.

Derek is always going on and on about this. How he’s the worst and he’s awful and he sells drugs at a mass level and isn’t that so despicable and woe is him, self-flagellation and personal guilt trips and getting blackout drunk so Stiles has to carry him back to his bed and long, endless pity parties. Sometimes, Stiles wants to speak to him frankly about it.

He wants to say that he is clearly not happy doing what he does. He thinks that money and nice things are all he needs to be happy, but that’s not true. He’s unhappy. He is miserable. Stiles is the only thing that makes him happy, and that is a burden too big for Stiles to bear alone, and Stiles loves him with all his heart and he wants Derek to be happy.

But he knows Derek would just shirk him off or get angry with him or change the subject. Because deep down, Derek knows it’s true. And sometimes, Derek has a really hard time facing the truth or even looking in the mirror.

“We got off track,” Derek says after being quiet for a moment or two. He presses a smile onto his face and pours himself another glass, and Stiles watches and hopes that he doesn’t get drunk tonight and ruin everything. “I’m sorry, I upset you.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, shifting around in his seat. Derek’s dark moods come and go lightning quick, and Stiles wishes he’d talk to Stiles more or at least talk to somebody. He went from having his family burned alive straight into running the underground crime ring they left behind. Stiles knows that he’s not mentally healthy, not all the way, and even more to the point, strongly suspects that Derek has depression. PTSD, maybe.

But Derek won’t talk to him about it. So it remains buried, springing up in ugly ways, like right now. “I had a good time tonight, I don’t wanna talk about…bad stuff.”

“Then we won’t,” Derek agrees, leaning over to top off Stiles’ glass as well. “The takeaway from this is that I love you, and I just needed to check on you. Maybe I am a little overbearing.”

Uh, understatement.

“I did stuff dirty underwear in your mouth, so I just need to make sure –“

“Oh, my God.” Stiles covers his bright red face with his hands, hiding himself from the eyes of the restaurant and from Derek, who’s laughing. “Stop bringing that up. You’re killing me.”

“Your humiliation kink is so fucking intense in the bedroom, but as soon as we’re out of it, you’d rather die than be embarrassed.”

“I know, I’m a freak,” he uncovers his face slowly, giving Derek a slow smile. “So are you. You bought me a collar.”

“As if that’s so weird,” Derek rolls his eyes and smirks. “You liked it, I could tell.”

“Yeah, it’s cute,” Stiles fiddles with the stem of his glass, face still a bit warm but cooling off quickly in the haze of a happier conversation than the one they had been having not five minutes ago. They get whiplash, sometimes, from how quick they can change the subject from what it is that Derek does to anything, anything else.

Buried things, Stiles thinks. They always come back up.

Their food arrives and Stiles starts eating even before the waitress has fully put it down in front of him – he swipes a big bear paw of fries and shovels them into his mouth, half-mad with starvation. Sex can take a lot out of a person; especially hours upon hours of endless sex – even though Derek fed him twice, it wasn’t enough, not by a long shot. Stiles could eat a horse. Derek, on the other hand, primly picks up his utensils and lays his napkin on his lap, carving his steak into bite sized pieces and eating them daintily.

Stiles inhales his hamburger in half the time it takes Derek to finish his own food, clearing his plate and then reaching over to peck at Derek’s fries once he has none left for his own. Derek allows it, rubbing his leg up against Stiles’ underneath the table while he eats.

Derek puts his knife and fork down at one point, even though a good chunk of his steak is leftover on his plate and Derek is a renowned plate-clearer. Then, he wipes at his face with his napkin, and sits up a bit. “Baby, I’d like to ask you something.”

Stiles freezes in the middle of chewing a mouthful of fries. That sounds serious. He figures he shouldn’t have chipmunk cheeks during something like this, so he swallows hastily and nods his head. “Uh, okay.”

“We’ve been together for almost a year, now. That’s the longest I’ve ever been with anybody.”

This is not news to Stiles. For as far as he knows, he’s had only three relationships, actual relationships at least, and they’ve all ended fairly quickly. Within the first six months, quickly. The rest of Derek’s whatevers have been based entirely around kink and Derek has admitted he wouldn’t have called them any kind of serious; just fun. For the most part.

“I have never asked anybody this before, and I’ve been alone ever since I was eighteen years old, but I’d…” he seems to struggle to find his words for a moment, while Stiles blinks owlishly at him and cannot imagine where this conversation is going. “…I was wondering if you’d want to move in with me.”

Derek produces a largeish jewelry box, sliding it across the table in Stiles’ direction and popping it open to reveal a key card. Stiles recognizes it; it’s the one for Derek’s apartment. He stares at it, stares, tries to process. “You know I already have one of those.”

“It’s ceremonial.”

“Ceremonial,” Stiles repeats, snorting. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, I’m just –“ he laughs harder, shaking his head and ducking down behind his hand. “I’m not laughing at you, I’m just; you want me in the penthouse?”

“Yes, I do.”

“You want me in your nice, expensive penthouse.”

“I’ve had you in the penthouse before,” he says, and he sounds amused. When Stiles finally chances a glance at his face, he finds a big smile there.

“Yeah, but…me, living, all the time? I’m a mess. And you know I can’t pay my share of the rent, so –“

Now it’s Derek’s turn to laugh. He laughs and laughs and laughs, while Stiles hyperfocuses on the ceremonial key card and tries to imagine himself living in a fucking penthouse. It doesn’t add up. “You’re not going to be paying rent, baby.”

“Oh,” he blinks, a bit surprised.

“You won’t be paying for anything. Think about it,” he taps his temple, and Stiles swallows and looks at his lap, furrowing his brow. “You don’t pay for rent, or utilities, or internet, or groceries, or anything. I’ll give you your own space in the apartment to set up your video games or whatever, but you’ll sleep in my bed and be taken care of. Every single day. This is what you wanted when you made that dating profile in the first place. Wasn’t it?”

Stiles licks his lips. It certainly was. But thinking about it in the abstract and thinking about it in the solid are two completely different things; abstractly, yeah, probably everyone wants a sugar daddy to pay for everything for them. But in the concrete when there’s actually a dude that you love sitting across from you talking about you never have to fucking pay rent ever again…it can be a little much.

He has a moral compass, so he’s moderately uncomfortable with just being, for lack of a better word, a hop-on. Sucking all of Derek’s money clean out of him. “I don’t wanna be, like, a moocher.”

“Hey,” Derek’s voice is quiet, commanding and sincere and gentle all at once, as he leans over the table to get closer to Stiles, as close as he can with the table in between them. “You know how these relationships work, we’ve been over this. I don’t get nothing out of this arrangement – you get money and nice things, and I get you on your knees. We balance each other out, so there’s no mooching. And in case you forget, I get my jollies from giving you shit. You know that.”

Stiles does know that. Really, he knew what his answer was going to be the second Derek asked him, but he just had to voice his concerns. He had to get it all out there in the open, so that if things do wind up going South, he can say that he had concerns at the start. He bites his lip and takes the key card out of its box, and Derek watches him do it with intent eyes, following his every single movement. “Okay,” Stiles agrees, a smile finding its way on his face. “I’d love to move in with you.”

Derek’s face splits into a grin, something that must be rare for anyone else aside from Stiles to ever see, and he leans over to press a kiss to Stiles’ lips. “Get your things together and I’ll have a crew come and take it all for you, so you don’t really have to lift a finger.” And it’s that easy. Big decisions with Derek are made in the blink of an eye, everything already taken care of, all the arrangements made, and all Stiles has to do is sit back and let it happen.

“Okay,” Stiles agrees, nuzzling his nose against Derek’s before leaning back into his seat. He sighs in content, just thinking about it; all the money he makes, he can spend on whatever he wants. God damn, he can pay off his student loans. He can buy ten thousand boxes of macaroni and cheese. He could get a dog.

Derek seems like he’d say no to the dog at first. But Stiles will press on him and he’ll get his way. After all, he nearly always does.

“Oh, and here,” Derek snaps his fingers as if he just remembered something, and then produces a white letter envelope from his pocket and pushes it across the table. “Your last present. Buy yourself something nice.”

Even though he already knows what it is, Stiles picks up the envelope and looks inside of it. And, yeah. Five crisp hundred dollar bills, tucked safely away inside. Stiles grins at the sight, because there’s really nothing like money for free or like money period, and pulls it out to handle in his hands. “Thank you, daddy,” he says, while Derek picks up his knife and fork to go back to eating the rest of his food.

Stiles sorts through the bills just to feel the money in his hands, and freezes when he gets to the fourth one. He draws it out from the stack, pulling it into the light.

There’s a blood stain on it.

Quickly, he shuffles the money into his wallet, fumbling it a bit with only four fingers, and clears his throat, acting like he saw nothing and nothing is there. He’ll just go to the bank and get it changed out if it makes him uncomfortable – or, he’ll go buy a soda and get all fresh bills from the register, or, or…

He looks across the table at Derek, who smiles at him when they meet eyes. Stiles smiles back, but it feels tight on his own face, not reaching the corners of his eyes.

Chapter Text

Scott had been reasonably upset when Stiles first dropped the news that he’d be moving out. After all, they’ve been living together ever since college – from dorm room, to dorm room, to on-campus apartments, to their condo. It would stand to reason that neither of them can actually function as independent adults without having the other one there with them, and Stiles is only lucky that he’s moving in with Derek, of all people.

Derek has a maid and people who wash and wax his cars and a personal chef he can call when he doesn’t feel like cooking and someone who does his laundry, changes his bed sheets, cleans the toothpaste stains off the sink. He never has to lift a finger, and so by extension, neither does Stiles.

Scott, on the other hand…let’s just say that Stiles and Scott had very good give and take living together. Stiles was awful about picking up his wet towels from the floor, so Scott would do that. Scott was awful about picking up his dirty dishes from the coffee table after having a five course feast in front of the television during a Netflix binge, so Stiles would clean up after him. Stiles is honestly worried about what’s going to happen to him living all by himself for the first time in his life.

Stiles, as such, voices these opinions to Derek.

“He’s not like the rest of us, Derek,” he says over the phone, shoving another wad of clothes into a box haphazardly before reaching for another. “He needs a support system.”

“He’s exactly like the rest of us, and he doesn’t.”

“I’m just saying, you’ve got the spare room.”

“Are you honestly trying to convince me that your friend, a grown adult man, is so incapable of being alone that you’d bring him along as your plus one to this important milestone in our relationship?”

Stiles purses his lips. Derek can, on occasion, be a little…what’s the word? Uncompassionate. Selfish, is another term for it. “I’m just saying.”

“He can’t come along. You know it’s weird to even suggest it, you just worry about him.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, eyes glancing down the hall toward where Scott’s bedroom sits, the door all locked up. He’s pouting in there, Stiles is sure of it. “Maybe I didn’t think this through enough…”

“Listen. Scott is going to be just fine,” whatever Derek’s doing on the other line, Stiles has no idea – he just called and started ranting before Derek could get a word in edgewise. For all he knows, there’s a team of degenerates staring and blinking at Derek while he has this semi-argument with his boyfriend. “I think it’s cute you worry about him so much. Of course he’s welcome anytime, but he’s not moving in. You’ve gotta let the bird out of the nest sometime.”

Stiles slowly moves another pound of clothing into his box and sighs deeply through his nose. “And then there’s the matter of telling my father.”

On the other end, Derek snorts. It’s not an attractive or very nice sound at all. “Who’s telling him anything?”

“Me,” Stiles says without question. Of course, he has to tell his father he’s moved, for god’s sake. He doesn’t necessarily need to mention it’s into Derek’s multi-million dollar penthouse on top of the most extravagant building in the city, but…then again, he probably should at least hint at that portion of the news. “I know he tried to kill you once, but he’s my dad.”

“Can’t we just focus on the positive aspects of us moving in together?” Derek sounds almost whiny – almost. “You worry too much about everything and everyone. Just be happy with me and forget the small stuff for a minute.”

Stiles knows that he’s right. Ever since he accepted and started packing and went through the process of informing everyone that he’s moving and that mail should be redirected to Derek’s address, he’s been stressing the fuck out about it. Which is funny, because this is going to be, hands down, the easiest move of his life. Derek is having people come and pick up his things, bring it all into the apartment for him, set it up and unbox and then take all the boxes away. There’ll be no driving back and forth with loads, no staggering up the steps with a six hundred pound couch, no awkwardly trying to fit the flat screen through the front door.

It’ll all just…happen. Like fingers snapping. The way that Derek is so used to and Stiles can’t really imagine.

The stress is coming from the other factors; the ones that no one can really control. Scott’s melancholy and poorly veiled hurt feelings. His father’s most probable anger. The fact that living with Derek will give him nowhere to hide from certain things and realities that he’s been trying his damnedest to hide from.

“You’re right,” Stiles agrees, and he picks up some more clothes from the top drawer of his dresser to move into another box. As he does so, it reveals that shiny gun that Derek had bought for him – left dormant in this exact spot for months, untouched and unneeded. Stiles stares at it for a second, phone pressed to his ear, and then he clears his throat and drops his eyes. “I guess I’m just nervous.”

“Don’t be,” Derek says, though the evident command is lessened by the softness of his tone. “Everything will be fine. We love each other, and that’s all that matters.”

And that’s all that matters, Stiles repeats to himself like a mantra. He’s had to tell himself the same exact thing sometimes, just to help him sleep at night. That’s all that matters.

***

Stiles comes into Derek’s apartment (which he is still only just learning to refer to as also his apartment now, as well), thumps his messenger bag down on the ground by the couch in the living room, and squints when he sees what’s going on at the kitchen island.

The gang is all here. Derek, of course, is seated at a stool wielding a very large stack of what appears to be fifty dollar bills, going through the motions of piling and facing them so they’re neatly organized. Erica and Lydia are there as well, both drinking giant goblets of red wine with lipstick on the rims, tapping their sharp fingernails on the marble counter top and turning their heads at the sound of Stiles’ entrance. And Boyd, for his part, is manhandling another section of money, setting it up in a bill counter before pressing the button that has them all flying as the red numbers glow up into the several hundred’s.

Stiles stands there for a moment, in his work outfit with the tie still not undone, and then he shrugs. He guesses these are the types of sights he’ll have to learn to get used to if he’s going to be living here. Without much more thought given to it, he approaches the kitchen and is met with varying levels of vague distaste, which he’s gotten used to – save for the genuine smile Derek gives him the closer he gets.

“Don’t mind me,” he says as he enters the sanctum – and it smells like money in the kitchen. Stiles has never once been in a room so full of the stuff that the room itself reeked like that, like ink and paper and god knows what else, but here he is now. As he passes Derek, he runs his hand in a gentle caress over his shoulders in greeting, sliding by and approaching the cabinets.

As he thumps them open, pawing through the snack contents he had bought for himself upon moving in because Derek never has snacks, there’s silence behind him. No one says a word, but he can feel without having to look that Lydia and Erica are giving each other scowls and Boyd is annoyed and Derek is ignoring it all.

Stiles is sure they’ll never like him. He’s accepted it, and frankly, he doesn’t really care all that much. Derek likes him about fifty thousand times more than he could ever like any of them, so he’ll settle for being the favorite of the one person who actually matters.

He finds the pop tarts and grabs himself a shiny pack, ripping it open in a way that’s incredibly loud in the silence of the room. He turns and leans up against the counter, breaking off a piece of one of the tarts and popping it into his mouth as he observes the proceedings in front of him.

Boyd rubber bands a stack of money harshly, so that the slap of the rubber against the paper sounds like the slap he wishes he could deliver to Derek for thinking it’d be a good idea to have Stiles involved in any of this. “That’s ten,” he says, voice low and gruff as he drops the bound money down on top of a pile of similarly arranged bills.

Stiles wonders if that’s ten thousand. Probably, it is.

“You don’t really think he’d short us, do you?” Erica asks Derek, as her eyes slide snake-like and suspicious in Stiles’ direction. For his part, Stiles just chews and watches silently, turning to Derek as he waits for the answer.

“I think he’d try,” is what he says, and Stiles swallows.

“Who?”

They all turn to look at him at once, Derek included. Lydia takes a long, long sip of her wine as if that’s all she needs to hide her massive eye roll, but Derek simply smiles thinly at him and shrugs. “An old contact of mine.”

A contact. Derek uses that word so often it might as well be his fucking slogan. All he has are contacts.

As if on cue, one of the more elusive members of Derek’s little rag tag pack of baddies slides open the glass door to the balcony, leaning inside and frowning intensely as he sees Stiles standing there. He’s got a lit cigarette in his other hand, ashing it onto the concrete of the balcony with a shrewd gaze. He points the thing in Stiles’ general direction, before quickly looking at Derek. “Should he really be here right now?”

Before Derek has a chance to answer, Stiles steps forward and smirks. He puts on his best 1920’s New York accent, waving his hand like they do in the movies – “you think I’m gonna rat ya out to the fuzz?”

They all glare at him, except for Derek. His laugh is short and abrupt, because apparently he’s the only one who finds Stiles funny in the given audience, and Stiles can’t help but grin in response. “He’s one of us, Isaac, you know that,” he says, even while he’s still laughing a bit. He puts his own stack of bills into the counter and presses the button, flapflapflapflap. “He can see anything he wants to.”

“Plus, in case you forgot,” Stiles steps forward and slaps his hand down on the counter top so everyone can see it – even Isaac, still finishing his cigarette a bit hastily from the balcony – and moves his four fingers to make the point. “…I already had my initiation.”

“Awww,” Erica says, eyes all big as she doles out a very, very mocking baby voice. “It must be so hard to type your little stories at work with that awful debilitation.”

Stiles has got a response locked and loaded. Really, he does. Years of being the awkward weirdo in middle and high school have prepped him in the arts of responding to nasty taunts. He squares his shoulders, gives Erica a broad grin, and parts his lips, getting ready to really let her have it, and –

Derek slams a stack of ones on top of the counter, so loud it echoes in the small confines of the room, and everyone jumps. Instead of following that one up with any kind of a warning or a shut the fuck up, he simply lifts an eyebrow and takes a long sip of the whiskey he has sitting on his left.

In spite of the fact that he hasn’t really said or done much of anything threatening, Erica clears her throat a bit nervously and averts her eyes. “Journalism is a great profession,” she mutters, staring at her nail beds like a chastised little kid being told she can’t go to Disney World.

Stiles grins, shoveling another load of pop tart into his mouth. Sometimes, it’s so fucking easy being Derek’s boyfriend – everything is just handled and taken care of for him, like pressing the easy button from Staples.

With a huff, Isaac comes slithering back inside the apartment, sliding the door shut behind him and padding across the carpet in heavy boots. Stiles has only ever met him a couple of times, and even then he’d say he’s only ever really seen Isaac a couple of times. He’s like a ghost. What the exact parameters of his job are can be particularly unclear, but Stiles has often times thought that he’s likely the one who…you know.

Assassinates people, or something. Snipers them down from roof tops. Stiles has a good imagination, but something tells him that’s about as close to the reality as Stiles will ever be able to guess.

Incidentally, he’s also the only one who isn’t necessarily openly hostile to him and hasn’t ever been. He regards Stiles with suspicion sometimes, sure, but otherwise keeps his mouth shut. He’s likely Stiles’ favorite on principle alone. “Is there food?” He asks, and Derek looks up at him as he rubber bands another stack.

“Help yourself,” he offers, and Isaac immediately steps forward and attacks the fridge. “Some of it is Stiles’, though.”

“I love to share,” Stiles says earnestly, gesturing to the fridge and cabinets in a silent manner of take what you want. “Not like I paid for it.”

Seeming a bit put off, but with a smile on his face, Derek leans back in his chair and gives Stiles his full attention. “So, when I wanted one of your ice cream bars and you told me to go fuck myself even though I bought them for you –“

“That’s different,” Stiles fires back, pointing a finger in Derek’s face. “You don’t touch a man’s ice cream without asking first.”

“Are we close to being done here?” Lydia asks, dropping her wine glass on the counter with a harsh and annoyed clink. Likely, she can’t stand seeing Derek and Stiles being all domestic like this. “My dinner is threatening to make a reappearance.”

Isaac fishes a go-gurt from the depths of the fridge and rips it open with his teeth, squeezing half the tube into his mouth in one go. “It’s not like we need you here anyway,” he snaps in her general direction, and she makes a mean-girl-from-high-school expression at him that he mostly just ignores. “When we need your input on Spring fashion lines, we’ll give you a call.”

Apparently, Derek only cares when his underlings bicker with Stiles, because he says and does nothing about this exchange. He actually seems to completely tune it out, focusing on banding up the last stack of money and leaning back with a sigh, pleased with his finished work. Stiles chews and observes – he doesn’t usually get the opportunity to see what the dynamics in the pack are actually like.

From what he’s seen so far, he’s assessed one thing and one thing alone; they all viciously hate each other. Stiles suddenly doesn’t feel so alienated from the rest of them, now. Apparently, he just fits right in.

“And on that note,” Lydia hisses, putting her glass down again in a way that sounds like it’s about to crack as she stands up and collects her sweater and purse from the table of the breakfast nook. “Maybe you’d be interested to know, Derek, that I received another one of those terribly threatening notes from Laura,” she shoves herself into her sweater and pulls her long silky hair out from under it as she speaks, frowning and not meeting anyone’s eyes.

“Saying?” Derek asks, sounding half-bored.

“The usual,” she click-clacks out of the kitchen and into the living room, vanishing before all of their eyes even as she’s still speaking. “Stay away from my sister or I’ll insert chosen half-assed threat here. Thought you’d wanna know.”

Derek’s lips purse, and he watches Lydia vacate the apartment like it’s on fire with a look on his face that Stiles can’t read, but he says nothing. The door slams, and everyone just keeps doing what they had been before. Erica drinks, Boyd arranges the money piles neatly, and Isaac finishes off his go-gurt.

“Man,” Erica speaks up, staring at the empty spot Lydia had left behind. “That’s still going on, huh?”

No response. Isaac seems amused, slurping on what’s left of his snack uncouthly.

“Doesn’t that, I don’t know…bother you?” She waves her hand a bit aggressively in the air, and Stiles turns to Derek with expectant eyes. “I mean, none of us are even allowed to look at baby-twink over here the wrong way without fear of getting our heads bitten off, but Lydia boinks your sister and you’ve got nothing to say?”

Stiles would be offended about the baby-twink comment , if only the rest of that sentence hadn’t been so interesting to him. Derek has spoken about his sisters only in passing, or only in ambiguity. From what he knows of Laura, she’s…well. The one that doesn’t really speak to Derek anymore, not at all, not even to call or send a card for his birthday.

Cora, the younger one, he knows more concretely. She’s a photographer still in college and she sends post cards all the time, ones that Stiles has read himself because Derek doesn’t hide them. She seems like a pretty average twenty-something.

But, still, the both of them are illusive figures in Derek’s life and Stiles can’t figure out why he hardly ever speaks about them. This is the most intimate and important information he’s gotten about either of them since he and Derek first got together; he’s perversely interested in the details. Lydia and Derek’s younger sister…it almost doesn’t fucking make sense.

Predictably, Derek’s answer is to not answer at all. He stands up, running his hands over his shirt to work out the crinkles, and frowns. “You can all leave, now,” he intones, and Stiles frowns and watches as the rest of them slowly and silently collect their things. Erica shoots Derek anxious glances as she picks up her bag from the floor, but says nothing else.

Apparently, someone crossed a line. Derek’s eerie silence speaks for itself.

After everyone has gone and the pizza has been ordered, since Derek cited something about not wanting to cook, Stiles is in bed clicking through Netflix selections with his tie off and his shirt untucked. Derek emerges from wherever he had shoved all that money, likely in the safe behind his shirts, and Stiles sets his eyes on him. “So,” he starts, while Derek climbs up onto the bed beside him and releases a heaving sigh, “Lydia’s boinking your sister huh?”

Derek runs his hands down his face, once, twice, and breathes out from behind them. “Yes,” he says. It sounds like he might be smiling. “Lydia has been known to on occasion boink my sister.”

With a raise of his eyebrows, Stiles hovers over the icon for Spawn : The Movie and turns to give Derek his full attention. “Is your sister a raging bitch too, because otherwise, I don’t see how it could possibly work.”

“Actually, that’s the surprising part,” he mutters, frowning as the automatic mini trailer with the dramatic music starts up the longer Stiles hovers over Spawn. “Cora is a very nice person. She was somewhat, uh…shielded, growing up.”

“Shielded,” Stiles repeats, and he guess that makes sense. Cora is the baby of the family, so they might have sheltered her from the harsh realities of what it is that they did – or, they all died before she had a chance to really learn. As a result, she may have grown up with a much better moral compass than the rest of them.

“She didn’t really express much interest in becoming, you know.” He gestures, and the dramatic music is still playing over their heads. “…like me.”

“So, then, does it bother you? Her and Lydia? Because being with Lydia, I mean…” it doesn’t really afford a lot of room for pretending the monsters under her bed don’t exist. Stiles would know about that better than anyone.

Derek sighs. “I’ve accepted it. She’s my kid sister, so yeah, it fucking –“ he makes this face, all grit teeth, as he curls his fingers a bit like he’s fantasizing about strangling the life out of Lydia. “…it annoys me, from time to time, especially since Cora doesn’t really know any better, but, she’s an adult. She can make her own choices. Laura, on the other hand….”

“…sends threats to Lydia any chance she gets,” Stiles finishes for him, and Derek tips his head like that’s just about the size of it. “Wow. You know, we could make a killing on a reality show.”

Derek snorts.

“What’s Laura’s deal, anyway?” He dips his toes into the water on this one, a bit cautious, because he has gotten the sense in the past that this isn’t a subject Derek particularly loves to chat about. As expected, Derek sort of shutters up a bit in the wake of the question, eyes going far away like he’s not really here or a part of this conversation.

All the same, he does answer, which is the only surprising part. “After the fire, there were choices,” he says evenly, rubbing at his jaw and not meeting Stiles’ eyes. “She made one choice, I made the other. She’s never really forgiven me and likely never will. And, of course, Cora and Lydia is all my fault and I should burn in hell for tainting our little sister, but that’s another matter.”

Stiles fiddles with the hem of Derek’s shirt absentmindedly, puffing his lips and sighing. Derek’s family life has always sounded complicated, even excluding the bits where they all burned alive.

“Come on and pick something,” he pats Stiles on the back and points to the screen – because they’re certainly not fucking watching Spawn. “The pizza will be here soon.”

He tries to shimmy away to the other end of the bed where his wallet is sitting, but Stiles grabs onto him by his pants and holds on, so Derek stops and looks at him. There’s a beat, where they’re just staring into each other’s eyes and not saying anything, and Stiles searches his face.

Derek can be so close and so distant at the same time. Sometimes it’s not fair.

“You know you can talk to me about this stuff or anything else, right?” He asks, voice low, and Derek doesn’t look away, but he doesn’t say anything either. “I’m your best friend.”

“I know.” He reaches out and cards his fingers through Stiles’ hair, gentle and smooth. “Some things, I’d just rather not.”

***

Living with Derek has actually proven itself to be fun. Stiles had thought he’d spend most of his time alone, with Derek in and out and gone more often than not, disappearing to one of his two jobs and returning home at three o’clock in the morning. While there has been the occasional late night and broken promise for dinner plans, Derek is home a lot more than Stiles figured he’d be.

They play card games at the breakfast nook table after work over Chinese takeout, watching the sunset fade across the rest of the city from the highest building around. They talk about work and joke around and avoid Heidi like the plague before she says anything disparaging about either of them, watch movies until three am, snuggle on the couch a lot, drink coffee together in the mornings, and most importantly, have sex whenever and wherever they want.

One late evening Derek comes home from work and finds Stiles in the kitchen poring over a cookbook, still in his work khakis and button down. “I’m going to cook,” he announces, and the brief silence he receives on Derek’s end speaks volumes. “It’s just a meatloaf. It can’t be that hard.”

Derek, again, is quiet. He undoes his tie and unbuttons the top button on his shirt, a bemused expression on his face.

“Except I’m not touching raw eggs.”

“It’s an essential part of the meatloaf,” Derek leans back against the counter and raises his eyebrows. “Gotta touch the raw eggs. And the raw meat, at that.”

Stiles frowns, peers over his recipe again. “Can’t we pay someone to do that?”

“Spoken like a true spoiled brat. I’m ordering pizza.”

“Hold on,” Stiles flips over to another page frantically, while Derek moves over to the fridge and opens it so the light spreads across his tan skin tone. “…what about spaghetti and meatballs?”

“More raw meat.”

“God,” he grouses, slapping the cookbook closed and putting his hands on his hips. “Why don’t I just become a pastry chef instead? Nothing raw on that end.”

“Raw eggs, again,” Derek pulls a diet coke out from the fridge and cracks it open, taking a long sip. “Where is this sudden and irrational fear of raw foods coming from?”

“It’s not sudden, and it’s not irrational. Try and tell me you like how raw egg feels between your fingers.”

As if he’s imaging it, Derek does rub two of his fingers together, making a bit of a face. He sets his eyes and Stiles and shrugs, about to say something before his eyes dart a bit to the left and whatever it was dies in his throat. He points, eyebrows going up into his hairline. “What the hell is that?”

Stiles turns, alarmed, and finds something he had bought at the store earlier that day sitting perched on the counter, innocent as the day it was made. “Bag N’ Box!” He chortles, reaching out to pat it on the top of its box. It is, indeed, a Bag N’ Box – like boxed wine, only it’s twisted tea, with a little plastic spout on the end. “Scott and I used to drink this all the time on camping trips – it’s just fun to have around.”

Derek stares at it. He’s got this look on his face, like the Monopoly Man watching an average person get on the Subway. “I won’t have that in my house.”

“Oh, so you’ll touch all the raw eggs you can get your hands on –“

“How is that even what I said –“

“…but Bag N’ Box is an unacceptable demonic presence? It’s just too middle class,” he rolls his eyes and leans against Bag N’ Box as if affectionately.

“Middle class isn’t what I’d say,” he says this slowly, a smile spreading across his face. “Lower middle class is closer to the reality.”

I’m lower middle class,” Stiles points at himself, and Derek shakes his head.

“Not anymore.”

Stiles is about to retort that – but then he stops. Derek might actually have a point about that. In his bank account he has four thousand dollars just sitting there, and he doesn’t even have anything he needs to spend it on. Not on bills, because Derek pays them all. Not on rent, because Derek pays that. Not on groceries, or necessities, or anything, anything at all. Derek buys it all. In a way, Derek’s income is his own, because it pays for everything he needs or wants.

Thinking about it like that, he feels a little…well. He was going to say weird, but then he’d just be pretending he wasn’t as obsessed with money as Derek can be from time to time.

“We’re not getting rid of Bag N’ Box. Matter of fact,” he lifts a finger into the air, and then leans up to rifle around in the cabinets until coming up with two pint glasses. “We are going to get drunk off of Bag N’ Box.”

“I don’t drink Twisted Tea,” Derek says, as if he’s really going to be able to get out of this one.

Mocking him, Stiles puts on a 1920’s rich fuck voice as he pours some tea out from the spout into his own glass and says, “if it’s not a top shelf liquor shipped over from Japan I just won’t drink it, and if the label on my wine is in anything but French it won’t touch my lips.”

“Why do you take my money and then make fun of me for it?”

“It’s what you signed up for,” Stiles holds a glass out to him, full of twisted tea and practically spilling over. “Now drink this and order the pizza.”

Derek is reluctant, it would seem, staring at the amber liquid like it personally offends him the same way raw eggs do Stiles – but he sips all the same. It’s the peach flavored one, and if Stiles does say so himself, it’s the best one. He can’t possibly hate the taste as much as his face would suggest, so Stiles just rolls his eyes and drinks his own. “Just like camping. Let’s set up a pillow fort in the living room. And make s’mores.”

“I don’t know if we have stuff for s’mores,” Derek says, sipping his drink again and making another face like he’s drinking battery acid.

“You forget,” Stiles taps his temple and grins, slowly opening up the furthermost cabinet, “that I made Heidi’s grocery list this week.” Out comes tumbling a big bag of marshmallows and several bars of hershey’s – Derek shouldn’t look as surprised as he does, honestly.

So they spend forty-five minutes constructing an elaborate fort out of couch and throw pillows from various spots around Derek’s apartment as well as pristine white sheets, eating pizza and drinking all the way so there are random grease spots from fingers all over the fine linens. In the end, it comes out pretty well, lit up with a couple of hanging lanterns Stiles had brought over from his old bedroom at the condo.

By the end of the entire fiasco, they’re both pretty drunk. Twisted Tea has a habit of sneaking up on a person, especially when it’s unclear how much either of them have had when it’s all boxed up like that. But suffice to say, the box is much lighter once the pizza is done and they’re huddled in their fort, hidden away from the rest of the world. “It’s comfortable down here,” Stiles says, referring to the floor of pillows underneath them as they lie tangled up together under the sheets in the dim lighting. He snuggles his cheek into Derek’s chest, sighing in content. “You wanna fuck?”

“I think –“ Derek starts, and then pauses, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. “…I think I’m too drunk to get it up.”

“Not possible,” Stiles shakes his head, snaking his hand down into Derek’s pants and tugging haplessly at his cock. Derek sort of shifts, huffing out a laugh and spreading his legs wider to give him more room to work.

“I’m telling you I get limp dick when I’m drunk. If you’re turned on, I can just suck you off.”

“I want you to fuck me,” he insists, tugging more on Derek’s cock – but he might actually be right. No matter how he works it over, it’s not getting fully erect. It gets harder, sure, but…not up to its full glory. “I can’t believe you get whiskey dick.”

“It’s not whiskey dick,” he snorts, leaning his head back into the pillows as his laughter shakes his entire body. “It’s tea dick.”

“What if I put on one of the skirts? Huh? He’d have to wake up for that.”

Derek’s smile is drunk and lazy, as he shakes his head slowly. “I don’t think it’s gonna happen tonight. Come on, and lie down,” he’s slurring, Stiles finally takes note of this, and huffs a sigh. This is what happens when a man who typically only drinks fine liquors shipped from overseas has too much of the cheap shit, he guesses. “I’m tired. Let’s sleep.”

“In the fort?” He asks, leaning down to lie against him anyway, curling into his chest.

“Mmmhmm,” Derek agrees, patting Stiles on the back a couple of times before rubbing at his shoulder blades. “I have a lot of fun with you.”

“Right? Who else would build a pillow fort and get you drunk and make s’mores?”

It’s nice to get drunk with Derek when, for once, Derek isn’t turning into a giant bag of self-hating mess. Typically when Derek drinks, he becomes almost intolerable with all the guilt and the self-loathing and the this and the that and the other thing – but mostly because when Derek usually gets drunk, he does it by himself. Which is just sad on so many levels Stiles can’t get started.

But here, together, Derek was fun. He can be fun, when he wants to be.

“I love you,” Derek says into his neck, and Stiles hugs him tighter. Stiles loves him right back. Sometimes, he thinks, too much for his own good.

***

Stiles wakes up to the sound of the bedroom door opening and closing, blinking blearily out at the glowing red numbers on the clock to see that it’s three in the morning. He scrunches his face together and huffs, burrowing deeper into the covers and attempting to immediately fall back to sleep.

Instead, Derek keeps making noise. There’s two distinct thumps, which must be his shoes coming off, and then some rattling that’s the familiar sound of him pulling his watch off and placing it on his dresser, followed immediately by his wallet.

“Baby,” he whispers this, as if there’s anyone else he needs to worry about waking up aside from Stiles – who’s already the fuck awake. “Are you up?”

“I’m down,” he slurs, hiding in his pillow. “Come back tomorrow.”

Derek climbs onto the bed, the mattress dipping underneath his weight. Then, his hand is on Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles is annoyed. “I’m so fucking turned on right now.”

“Mmmm,” Stiles mutters into the bed, half asleep again already.

“Do you want to?”

“Sleep.”

“No, fuck.”

“I’m asleep,” is his response, to which Derek mostly just pats him on the shoulder about and then immediately retracts his hand. There’s silence. Stiles curling into the sheets again and smacking his lips, wiping a bit at some drool he collected on the side of his face in his sleep. A bit of rustling in the sheets behind him, the sound of Derek undoing his belt, and Stiles is falling asleep again.

A pause.

And then, somewhat horrifyingly, the impossible to mistake fapfapfap.

Stiles’ eyes shoot open and he’s awake, fully, even though seconds earlier he had been almost dead to the world. He blinks blearily in the dark, sitting up and turning his body to face Derek’s silhouette in the darkness. “Are you fucking jerking off right now?”

“Yeah,” Derek says this. He says it like it’s a no-brainer, like it’s ridiculous that Stiles would even ask. Meanwhile, Stiles gapes and nearly falls out of the bed from shock.

Stop it.”

“What?” Derek is aghast.

“Don’t fucking jerk off next to me while I’m trying to sleep!”

Derek shifts, and Stiles can still really only make out profile, a bit of his skin in the dim lights shining through the windows. “I’ve jerked off onto your face, in your mouth, all over your body – but I can’t rub one out next to you?”

“No, it’s weird.”

“How is it –“

“Go into the bathroom like a normal person and finish up,” Stiles commands imperiously, waving his arm in the general direction of where the bathroom sits. “Are you, like, staring at me and jerking off?”

There’s a pause, which answers Stiles’ question anyway.

“Because I’m so sexy right now, in my sleep clothes, covered in my own drool –“

“Are you really going to banish me to the bathroom? In my own apartment?”

“Yes.”

Derek sighs, but it’s the sigh of acceptance. He mutters something under his breath that Stiles can’t catch and doesn’t care about, and the next thing Stiles knows, the light in the master bathroom is going on and Derek’s silhouette is vanishing into the brightness. Stiles furrows his brow sleepily as he watches, decides that he’s too tired to be interested in these proceedings, and immediately goes back to sleep.

***

A bright light shines on Stiles’ face, and his eyes flutter open before he squints against it. Derek is home, he knows that much, but all the other details of the situation are sort of fuzzy for just a moment, while Derek approaches him with what Stiles would quantify as a very apologetic expression.

Stiles shifts a bit, feeling the couch cushions underneath his hands and his skin – most of it bare – and then he remembers. And suddenly, Derek’s expression makes a lot more sense.

Stiles fell asleep on the couch waiting for Derek to get home from work, which Derek had sworn up and down would be around eight o’clock. Stiles put on an outfit, because they haven’t had actual sex in a week and a half because of conflicting schedules or what have you, so he fell asleep in a purple school girl’s skirt, knee high socks, and no underwear. Just sat there, waiting and waiting for Derek to get home.

Eight o’clock came. And then nine o’clock, and a phone call that he’d be home as soon as he could. And then ten. And then eleven. And midnight, and then…well. Stiles must have fallen asleep before one AM came around.

Stiles rubs at his sleepy eyes and frowns, looking down at his long pale legs in the ridiculous get-up, while Derek squats down to be on his level. “I am so sorry,” he says, reaching out to pat his hand on Stiles’ leg.

Stiles retracts the leg immediately, nearly kicking Derek in the head in his haste to get it out of his reach. “No,” he says, shaking his head. “No touching. Your privileges have been revoked.”

The reaction Stiles receives for this is mostly just a frown and a sigh. Derek knows he deserves the dog house, at least. “I got stuck and I couldn’t find a chance to call you –“

“You could’ve texted me,” Stiles interrupts, and Derek shuts his mouth. “I put on a skirt for god’s sake, just for you, and you can’t at least text me to let me know you’re not going to make it?”

At this, Derek’s expression instantly shifts. It goes from morose and openly remorseful, to…annoyed. And it’s a bit of a weird expression for Stiles to see, especially directed at him personally, because Derek is almost never angry or upset or even annoyed with him. Or if he ever is, he seems to be particularly adept at hiding it.

Now, though, he’s not hiding it very well at all. He says, “I can’t constantly be at your beck and call, Stiles. Or did you forget where all the money you like so much comes from? Certainly not your fucking writer’s salary.”

Stiles laughs. It’s this short, abrupt, unhappy exhalation of breath. Without saying a word, he stands up from the couch and starts making his way off toward the hallway, annoyed and hurt and angry all at once, shaking his head.

“Stiles,” Derek calls at his retreating back, and in his tone Stiles can hear instantaneous regret for what he had said. Throwing the money thing right back in Stiles’ face is never fair, and Derek knows it, because they both agreed to this relationship – and it’s so shitty that Derek thinks he can bring it up like Stiles is somehow wrong for participating in the same relationship that Derek does. Not to mention, it was just fucking condescending and shitty, given the circumstances. “Stiles, come on.”

Stiles undoes the buttons on his skirt and it comes flapping off. He tosses it onto the floor by the kitchen, where it lands in a heap of fabric softly. He says nothing, just pads down the hall not towards the master bedroom where Derek is likely expecting to be able to corner Stiles so they can bicker it out, but towards the room a door down.

Derek is right behind him. He sees where Stiles is going, and immediately, he’s trying to talk Stiles out of it. “I’m sorry I said that, okay? Don’t make me sleep alone.”

“Oh, so you sleeping alone is absolutely unthinkable,” Stiles hisses, wrapping his fingers around the door knob for his room, “but you make me do it every other night like I’m your pet or something, just waiting for you to come home all the time.”

“Jesus Christ, that’s not what I meant,” Derek huffs, and Stiles has already got the door open and is just about to vanish inside of it, not to be seen again for the rest of the night. “Please –“

Stiles slides inside and shuts the door behind him. Derek at least knows better than to try to knock or to, heaven forbid, just burst inside anyway and make a scene. They decided when they first moved in together, really barely even three weeks ago, that this is Stiles’ personal space. All the things he has that might drive Derek crazy, like his video games and his bean bag chairs or what have you, are stuffed inside this room, along with a pretty nice couch and a window with a decent view of the city.

Stiles had honestly never thought it would come to him having to curl up on that couch, naked for all intents and purposes, using his Captain America blanket for warmth – but here they are. Derek isn’t strictly allowed in this room unless Stiles invites him, and they agreed upon that, and Stiles is alone for the night, and so is Derek.

He sits on the couch, bare assed in nothing but knee high socks, grabs the blanket furiously and unravels it, spreading it across his naked body. Then, for good measure, he pops on the television and finds the first not-annoying background noise he can find, before huddling underneath his cover and grousing up at the ceiling with an angry, furrowed brow.

Derek can be a fucking dick sometimes. Stiles has always known this, has even accepted it, and most times, finds it funny. It’s just not that funny when it’s directed at him, for no god damn reason, when Stiles is the one who by all counts should’ve been upset and angry. He can just be so…mean.

The last person on planet earth he should ever be mean to is Stiles. He should really know better.

Still, even as angry as Stiles is, it takes him forever to fall asleep without Derek there next to him, or at least without being in Derek’s bed, where their combined scent lulls Stiles to sleep like a baby every time. Tonight, he tosses and turns.

It’s not a surprise that in the morning, after a fitful sleep that leaves him more exhausted than he was before he ever got onto that couch in the first place, he opens up his door to find Derek camped out outside. He hasn’t been there all night, evidently, because he’s showered and dressed in a suit for work and has got two steaming mugs of coffee next to him on the ground – but he’s at least been here for a minute.

Once Stiles is in his sight, still naked because he doesn’t have any clothes in that room and he regrettably tossed his skirt off in a fit of rage the night before, Derek stands up from where he had been leaning up against the wall on the soft carpet and takes one of those mugs of coffee with him.

He offers it to Stiles like a dog nudging a bone at its master, face openly soft and sincere. “I’m sorry,” he says, and this time, he actually means it. “I never should’ve said that, I should never say anything like that. I should never talk to you that way.”

Stiles takes the coffee, wrapping both hands around the warm mug and sipping. It’s done how he likes it – milk and sugar added just how he would do it himself.

“I just had a very long night and I didn’t get anything to eat and I was…cranky. I’m sorry that sometimes I put the burden of making me feel better on you, it’s not fair.”

It’s really, really not fair. Derek’s entire life outside of Stiles is absolute shit, complete fucking mayhem and stress and bullshit, endless supplies of it. And he really expects to just come home to his doting boyfriend who’s going to be in a good mood all the time, who’s going to fuck him all the time, who’s going to dress up like he likes it all the time – like Stiles doesn’t have his own shit to deal with.

“It’s okay,” Stiles decides, because it is. Truthfully, he understands why Derek puts all that on Stiles himself. After all, who else is he going to put it on? “So long as you acknowledge you’re being a dick.”

Derek smiles thinly at him, and then leans down to kiss him on the cheek. His hand comes up to rub gently at Stiles’ bare lower back, up and down, soothing and soft in a way that has Stiles’ eyes fluttering closed. “I missed you last night,” Derek says into his ear, and Stiles shivers as his breath ghosts down his neck. “I’m sorry I’m not around enough.”

And what is Stiles supposed to do about that? Be angry about it? Derek is right – the money comes from somewhere. If Stiles wants his lifestyle, then he has to be willing to accept some things.

It’s just harder, now, living in the space where it all happens.

***

“We haven’t had sex in two weeks,” Stiles says into the phone at work, heedless to whether or not anyone’s overhearing this conversation as he leans back in his swivel chair and sighs. “It’s like we’re in a drought.”

“Two weeks,” Scott repeats back to him, faking shock and awe. “Wow, he must be going limp down there or something!”

“Shut up,” Stiles clicks a pen again and again, scanning across the rows of desks around him. Most people have gone to lunch, but Stiles is sitting here bitching and complaining to his best friend on the phone while eating food from the vending machine. “Even when we could only see one another on the weekends we still had sex three or four times a week. And, let me remind you,” he leans forward and lowers his voice, hunching into his desk and hiding behind his computer screen, “I’m not allowed to jerk myself off.”

“TMI.”

“I haven’t come in two weeks, Scott. I’m this close to texting him and begging him to let me jerk off in the work bathroom.”

“Oh, my God…” Scott’s voice is low and scandalized.

“And we’re bickering all the time, and he’s mean lately.”

“He’s mean most of the time.”

“But mean to me. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, or like, why suddenly we’re having issues…”

“More likely than not, it’s the no-sex thing with him too,” Scott explains, and that gives Stiles some pause. “You guys boned constantly before, and now never. He’s probably agitated because of that and so are you, and so you’re…you know. Taking it out on each other.”

Stiles leans back and chews on his bottom lip, thinking it over.

“It sounds to me like you guys used sex as stress relief, him especially. And considering the uh…type of sex? I’d say he’s just wound up tight because he isn’t getting any.”

It makes a lot of sense. Hell, it makes all the sense. Stiles just hadn’t thought of it before because, again, at least Derek gets to fucking jerk off when he wants to. And he has all those nasty videos of Stiles that he likely watches on a daily basis, and Stiles isn’t even fucking allowed to watch porn. True, he’d be allowed to watch those videos like Derek does but, uh…watching himself beg to be fucked? Not as appealing as it is to Derek.

The point is, Derek can jerk off and watch his weirdo kink videos, yeah – but half the release of the sex they actually have is in the act of it. It’s not just about coming, it’s about doing it. It’s about the control and the dirty talk and having someone to tell what to do, for him.

“I just don’t get why us moving in together has made us sexless. Add that math up.”

Scott snorts. “You guys used to plan sex the way normal people plan birthday parties,” he says, and Stiles blinks. “You didn’t just expect it to happen, you made time for it and shit. You’re not doing that now, are you?”

“Uh.” Stiles blushes. It’s all so fucking obvious now. “No?”

“Why am I always solving your relationship problems?” Scott sounds annoyed on the other line, grumbling to himself. “I don’t even like the guy and yet –“

“Wait.” Stiles sits up all the way, pressing his phone closer to his ear. “…you don’t like Derek?”

A long, long pause. It sounds to Stiles like Scott has only just realized he said that out loud, or at least, loud enough for Stiles to hear it. “…well, I – I mean…if you’re asking.” Another pause, with Stiles staring with a furrowed brow across his office at a potted plant, listening to the silence on the other line. “…not that it’s any of my business, or anything. But, uh. No?”

“No?” Stiles repeats, voice high.

“No, I don’t like him?”

There’s a couple dozen thoughts that filter through Stiles’ head at once, in the wake of this admission from his best friend. Things like, hey, maybe Scott is absolutely and completely within his rights to not like Derek. Things like, after all, Derek is a mafia crime boss. Things like, uh, Stiles is missing a finger because of Derek’s lifestyle. Not to mention, he can be very, very prickly. He’s always been perfectly fine towards Scott personally, but Scott has seen Derek be particularly…unfine to other people, before. It makes sense. Stiles knows that it makes sense that Scott doesn’t approve.

Still, what winds up coming out of his mouth is, “you just don’t know him like I do.” And then immediately after that, Stiles wonders exactly how it is that Stiles knows Derek.

Is there anything that actually redeems him as a person? Stiles feels guilty for thinking it.

“Well,” Scott says, awkward and stilted. He’s not great at confrontation. “Yeah, maybe.” There’s no sincerity there, but Stiles doesn’t want to argue with him. After all, Scott is the only person that Stiles can really talk to about Derek, or at least about him down to the exact details.

The conversation ends shortly after that, albeit a bit awkwardly, and Stiles hangs up and rubs his fingers against his temples. More and more lately, being away from Derek is hard. And not because they’re so in love they can’t stand to be apart necessarily, but because whenever Stiles actively moves away from him, from his touch and his words and the way he acts when they’re together, he’s only left with the reality to face.

He hasn’t spoken to his father in months.

As he’s sitting there tapping his finger on top of his desk with his chin in his palm, his editor appears like a ghost from out of nowhere. She’s got a mug of tea in her hand, and a frown on her face. It doesn’t bode well.

She slaps a red folder down on top of his desk, that Stiles recognizes as being the folder she uses for articles that need a lot of revision, and lifts a single brow at him. “Rewrite this.”

Stiles blinks at her, sitting up straighter. “Rewrite it?” He clarifies, picking the folder up and popping it open to reveal – yes, his latest piece. It’s covered in red, almost blocking out every black word on the page so it’s nothing but a jumble of wrong, wrong, wrong. “Not just –“

“Completely redo it. It’s almost unreadable.”

Stiles swallows, unsure of how to react. He gets a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, just staring down at his work – failure, more like – and frowns. This isn’t a feeling that he’s particularly used to; after all, he’s a good writer. He’s had to rework things before, yes, and he’s had to revise and go back and cite and fix typos and spelling errors, but…

Nothing like this. Looking at this, you’d think he were just learning the English language.

“I don’t know what’s going on with you lately,” she goes on, moving away from the hardass boss tone she had been using before and into a more concerned, personal tone, “but you seem like you’re not all there. Your work is suffering for it.”

Stiles clutches the article in his fingers and nods, unsure of what else he’s supposed to say. “I’ll do it again.”

She stares at him for a moment, lips puckered. It’s the kind of face that suggests she wants to call the HR rep down to try and psychoanalyze him, pull out all his works from the past month or maybe even longer and compare them to older ones as if they could pinpoint the exact moment he started losing his touch.

He’s just been distracted lately. That’s all.

“Make it good, or you’re off for the week.”

He nods his understanding and she walks away, rubbing at her forehead and probably wondering how the kid she said could be writing features in no time if he just put the work in is now, suddenly, writing her garbage.

Stiles hunches over and puts his forehead in his palm, staring down at all the red marks on the page. God dammit, he thinks, pinching his eyes shut and shaking his head as if to try and get his mind right. There’s just too much going on at once for him to pick any one thing to focus on.

He’s not having sex, Derek is constantly busy, Scott hates his boyfriend, his father won’t speak to him, and for fuck’s sake, there’s no use in dancing around the subject anymore.

He’s dating a bad guy. There’s no way to parse it, or phrase it differently, or put it in a certain light so it sounds better. Derek isn’t a good guy. It was easier to ignore that when they were still in the honeymoon phase.

Now, that’s over. Oh, boy, is it over.

***

Stiles cards his way into Derek’s apartment and then trudges inside, dragging his feet a bit as he goes. He dumps his messenger bag down onto the carpet by the couch and can barely make out the sounds of Derek puttering around on the phone out on his balcony. He does that, sometimes – chainsmokes outside and talks to Isaac or Erica or whoever the hell on the phone for hours at a time, pacing back and forth across what tiny space his balcony allows him. Stiles can hear his voice, monotone and annoyed drifting inside as he pops his shoes off and makes his way towards the kitchen. He figures Derek will, once again, be too busy to humor him much at all.

He passes the balcony and Derek spots him through the wide open sliding door. He has a cigarette dangling from his lips, phone pressed against his ear. As soon as he meets Stiles’ eyes, his own light up and he gives Stiles a wave, pulling the cigarette from his lips so Stiles can see his big smile. For his part, Stiles just waves back at him with a thin, forced smile on his face and keeps going into the kitchen.

Once there, he pops open the fridge and stares into it abysmally, frowning at everything he sees. There’s miles of food in there, veggies and yogurt and snacks and uncooked meat and whatever else he could possibly think of, but he just closes the door and sighs. Derek’s phone conversation ends, which is moderately surprising, and he steps back inside, closing the door behind him with a gentle thwack. Stiles opens up the cupboards and begins pawing through those, back turned even as he can hear Derek’s footsteps approaching.

“Baby,” he greets in a pleased tone of voice, coming up right behind Stiles to wrap his arms around his middle. He places his chin on Stiles’ shoulder and licks his cheek, a quick burst of a thing that’s as aggressive and sexy as Derek himself is. “How are you doing?”

Stiles barely reacts to Derek’s touching, still screwing through all the snack boxes Derek’s cupboard has to offer him. He finds a box of pop-tarts and pulls it out, grabbing at a little foil pack and maniacally ripping it open even as Derek kisses his neck. “Fine.”

Derek kisses him a couple of more times, right in his good spot, and Stiles sort of swats him away, aggravated. He breaks free of Derek’s touch and half-stomps away to the breakfast nook, where he plants himself on one end of it and pulls a pop tart out, chewing on it almost angrily. Derek looks at him for a moment, and of course, he’s not a fucking idiot. He also knows Stiles incredibly well, by now, so it only takes him two seconds to square his shoulders and approach the nook, a frown on his face. “You had a bad day?”

Stiles chews and swallows, staring down at the floor. Bad doesn’t even really begin to cover it; monumentally awful would be closer to how it feels right now, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. He just shrugs, focusing on his snack, the one that he’s barely tasting or even enjoying.

“Hey,” Derek’s fingers are on his chin, pulling Stiles’ face up so he has to look up into Derek’s – there’s a concerned twist to his mouth and a furrow to his brow, and Stiles just stares at him. “What’s the matter?”

With a big sigh, Stiles has to look away from Derek’s eyes, picking apart what’s left of his pop-tart with his fingers. The last thing he wants to do is admit to Derek that he’s failing, that he sat at his desk for hours, hours, hours, trying to rewrite that stupid article – and for the most part, he just stared at the blank screen. He barely got even two sentences down. “Very bad day,” he agrees in a low voice, popping a little piece of pastry in his mouth. “Like, worst day ever. It was so bad I kinda feel like crying, but I won’t, because I’m a grown man.”

Derek frowns even more, pinching Stiles’ chin between two fingers. “Baby,” he says, voice so gentle and soft and understanding. “What happened, huh?”

And this is why. Stiles can get inside his head about things all he wants when they’re apart – but this is why he tends to forget. Derek treats him so well, you’d think he were a saint. A fucking saint.

Stiles shrugs, feeling small and stupid and pathetic. He looks into Derek’s face and shrugs again for more emphasis, pursing his lips and barely holding back the urge to collapse into his arms. “I don’t really wanna talk about it.”

With a long sigh, Derek squats down in front of him to get on his level, cocking his head to the side and patting him on the knee. He rubs Stiles’ thigh up and down a couple of times, his mouth twisted, but a look of understanding on his face. “Then what can I do for you? Anything you need or want, I’ll do for you. I don’t like you like this.”

It’s true, Stiles is generally in a better mood. He wouldn’t necessarily say he has a sunny disposition, not by a long shot, but he does have a lot of energy on any given day. Some of it’s pretty negative energy, yes, but energy nonetheless. Now, he just feels all tired and sad and worn out, and like a failure, and Derek is looking at him expectantly all kind and soft and Stiles feels…awful. Just fucking terrible, for those things that he thought about Derek earlier.

They were true. But nevermind.

He meets Derek’s eyes head on. They’re so warm and hazel and kind, but only for him. Only for him. “I want you to give me a spanking,” he says, matter-of-fact, and Derek’s reaction is instantaneous.

He stands up, an incredulous smile spreading across his face. He looks, in a word, pleased at the thought – and that just isn’t surprising at all. Stiles has seen the evil box under his bed, after all, and he knows that while Derek isn’t strictly a sadist in the most literal sense of the word, he was willing to give a good spanking, and uh….well. Other things that Stiles won’t mention.

But he stands there for a moment, cocking his head to the side, looking at Stiles up and down. The longer he looks, that surprised smile on his face, the more Stiles feels the need to explain himself. Yes, he has said multiple times that he would like to try spanking sometime, and yes Derek has given him playful swats in bed before, but it’s different to actually do it instead of just talk about it. There’s a difference between a playful swat and an actual, over-the-knee, spanking. Stiles knows that. Derek does too.

Abruptly, he sits across from Stiles at the breakfast nook. Stiles turns his body so they’re facing one another, pecking at the last bits of his snack, and he sighs through his nose. Derek is going to sit there and wait for an explanation, Stiles knows, so he scrunches his nose up and powers through. He cannot, and they cannot, do this if Stiles doesn’t explain. If they don’t talk about it first.

People can dress it up all they want; but spanking is hitting someone by any other name. It can be fun and sexy all anyone wants it to be, but it is what it is.

“I want to think about something else, or not think at all, or only think about…one thing,” he starts, keeping his eyes downcast while Derek just listens silently. “I want you to just completely absorb my attention. Do you know what I mean?”

“I do, yeah,” Derek nods up and down, in a very reassuring way.

“You know I’m not a pain play guy, it’s not about the pain, so don’t…don’t really – don’t beat me.”

Derek’s mouth twitches down into a frown. “I would never, ever do that to you.”

Stiles knows that. He just wants it to be said, because things can get out of hand quickly. Derek can hit him too hard, just once, and the entire thing will shatter and be bad and scary instead of fun or what Stiles needs it to be. “And I don’t want you to say that I’m bad, or that I did something wrong, or that I deserve it. I…can you be gentle?”

For anyone else, the answer might have been no. No, Derek cannot be gentle. Derek is all hard edges and rough harsh words and fast and hard and quick and merciless – he’s Derek fucking Hale. What else would anyone expect? But with Stiles sitting there across from him with big brown eyes and that choker of ownership around his neck, Derek cracks. The hard exterior melts away like it never was, leaving nothing but a pillow soft Derek for Stiles to lean against when he needs him the most. “Yes, baby. I can be very, very gentle.”

Finishing off his pop tart, Stiles brushes all the crumbs off the table top and breathes out a sigh from between his teeth. “Make me focus on only you,” he asks quietly, almost begging, and Derek nods. Okay.

***

Derek sits down on the edge of his bed and gives Stiles a very, very soft and genuine smile. He’s probably loving every fucking second of this, is into it as all fucking hell and getting the boner of the century, but he’s reigning it in as best as he can. They’re testing the waters, dipping their toes in just to see how it feels. It’s trying something new, and it’s a game, and it’s meant to be fun or at least enjoyable. He licks his lips and pats his thigh with one hand. “Over my knee,” he directs, and Stiles shivers, bare naked in front of him.

Derek had stripped him down with gentle, slow hands. For a moment, he was allowed to stand patiently and wait in his lacy blue underwear, watching Derek as he rifled around in his drawers for a couple of things, but as soon as Derek was ready, the underwear came off, leaving him completely naked. All his clothes are in a pile right by his feet, and Stiles swallows and feels more exposed in front of Derek than he has in a long time.

All the same, he leans forward and climbs over Derek’s lap obediently, arranging himself so his ass is right over his legs. Derek immediately rearranges him and shoves him this way and that – he parts Stiles’ thighs nice and wide over one leg, using the other one to trap Stiles’ ankles, likely so he won’t kick. He pushes Stiles’ body up a bit, so that he’s now hanging off of one leg on an angle and the top half of him is stretching behind Derek, so he can’t see him and is completely and totally unable to really stop anything he does. Sure, Stiles could reach his hand back and protect his backside from an incoming swat, but Derek would just pin his wrist down against his back if he did that.

A big hand caresses his cheeks, and then his lower back. His upper back, his neck, drifting back down to do it all over again. Fingers reach into his taint, rubbing at his balls and poking gently at his half-hard cock. “I put you like this, so that means I need you to stay like this. There’s no moving, okay?”

“Okay,” Stiles croaks, shifting one last time before going rigidly still.

“Legs open, hands up there, no squirming.”

Stiles breathes down at the bed sheets, biting his lip. “What if I can’t help squirming?”

“A little reaction is fine,” Derek starts, rubbing gently at Stiles’ balls so Stiles licks his lips and flutters his eyes closed. “Control yourself. That’s what I need you to do, and all you need to be thinking about. Keeping your body as still as possible even when you want to move away very, very badly. Your body’s natural reaction to being slapped is to flinch and squirm, right?”

“Yeah.”

“So your only responsibility is to stay still, as still as you can.”

“Is there…” he swallows, nervous and pent-up and turned-on, all at once. “…is there a punishment, if I move?”

Derek parts Stiles’ cheeks and rubs a bit at his hole, making Stiles gasp and thrust his ass up into the touch. “Knowing you didn’t do what I asked you should be punishment enough.”

That is just simply the truth. Especially when Stiles is in subspace, which receiving a spanking over Derek’s knee will absolutely bring on. Doing something that disobeys Derek or even simply failing him while in a scene makes him feel awful, terrible, like the worst human being alive. He typically doesn’t fall short of what Derek asks of him, because Derek never asks too much, never, but this is a situation where he could honestly fail.

It’s a bit scary, but it makes his focus laser sharp. This is something he can handle. This is in his control. Everything else in his life…well. But this he can do, this he can do.

“If at any time, for any reason, you need me to stop – you say…?”

“Safe word,” Stiles finishes for him, and Derek pats him on his lower back.

“Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees. He has to be – he’s the one who asked for it, after all. There’s a brief pause, and Stiles doesn’t know what’s going on, because he can’t see. He keeps his eyes trained on the wall dead ahead, because that’s what he’s supposed to do, and bites his lip with nervous anticipation running through his veins so fast he can hear his heart pounding in his ears.

Derek’s hands aren’t on him, so he doesn’t feel it or hear it or notice it when one of them lifts, and then comes down on his left cheek. Stiles lowers his head in the wake of the slap, biting his lip a bit harder. It’s not anything more than what Derek has done to him in the past, so it’s fine. It’s okay. Feels good, actually. A second hit comes, on his other cheek, and Stiles can feel his skin bouncing and jiggling in response.

Once both have received a slap, Derek caresses with gentle strokes of his fingers, smoothing out the barely-there hurt. There’s some rustling, the sound of a bottle popping open, and then both hands are off of him. Squirt, Derek’s hands rubbing together, and then a wet, lubed tug on Stiles’ cock. Stiles jerks, just a little, surprised by the touch still slightly cold from the lube.

Derek lubes him up and then pours some more into his palm, coming up to his entrance to rub at that just a bit with his wet fingers, making Stiles’ eyes flutter shut. He rubs for just a couple moments more, sliding his fingers back down to his shaft and stroking, before he pulls the hand away and spanks him again. Two slaps, on alternating cheeks. Gentle caresses on the sting, and then back to stroking his cock and rubbing his hole. It isn’t hard to keep his legs open and his ass right there for Derek’s use, so Stiles has no trouble with staying still, for the moment. He moans into the sheet when Derek spanks him, lowering his head and lifting his ass just a bit to meet the hit.

“Hmm,” Derek intones during a caress, switching up the game a bit to deliver two more smacks before he’s stroked Stiles’ cock. “How long do you think until we get this a nice, pretty shade of red?”

Slap, slap. Stiles winces and grunts, shoulders tightening up. It stings, it really does. “I don’t know,” he answers in a small voice, because it’s the honest truth. He has no idea how long it’ll take until his cheeks go from pink to pinker to bright red.

“You don’t know?” Two more, these ones much harder than the others. Stiles gasps and whimpers, panting down into his arms, and he thinks about putting his hand back there to stop Derek from doing it again. It’s his instant reaction, like Derek said it would be, even though if he’s being honest, he’s…enjoying it. Quite a bit, at that. “That’s okay. Shh, that’s all right. I’ll make you nice and red and pretty, baby, don’t even worry about it.”

That’s what this is all about. Stiles not having to worry about anything, because Derek will handle it, all of it.

He captures Stiles’ cock and pumps it in a way that has Stiles opening up even more, lifting his hips up off Derek’s leg as much as he can to afford him more room to work. Even with the spanking, Stiles is still rock hard. Which really says all that it needs to about how kinky Stiles is actually turning out to be – and he doesn’t mind that.

Derek strokes until Stiles is moaning and still, lost in the pleasure, and then he’s back with another slap, quick and fast with a stinging sensation left behind. Caress, caress, slap on his other cheek, and Stiles presses his cheek into the bed and pants with his mouth open, eyes closed. “Do you like being spanked?”

Stiles nods, mindless. “Yes, I – I think I do.”

This next one is loud in Stiles’ ears, and it’s louder still when Stiles whimpers in response to it. “What do you like about it?”

Derek prods at Stiles’ entrance, while his other hand spanks four times in tandem on either cheek, creating a sensory experience unlike any other Stiles has had. Pain and pleasure mixing perfectly, perfectly, so he can barely think straight or come up with an answer. “Being over your knee,” he practically whispers this, but Derek hears it all the same. “You touching me.”

“I know you like it,” Derek goes on, shifting Stiles’ hips over just a bit to give him more leverage for another quick round of slaps, loud and fast and Stiles’ hand reaches back before he can help it. As Stiles had predicted, Derek’s fingers grip onto his wrist gently and push it away, pinning it down momentarily into the sheets, and Stiles doesn’t resist. Hold me down, he thinks perversely, squeezing his eyes closed. “You are such a good boy, a good sub, so of course you like being put in your place.”

“Yes,” he agrees on a whimper as two fingers scissor in and out of him, slick and quick. “Yes, I like it a lot.”

“Hm,” Derek takes a moment to prod and squeeze and massage Stiles’ cheeks after he lets go of Stiles’ wrist, as if he’s examining them closely. “Still just pink.”

“Then do it harder,” Stiles challenges, looking over his shoulder for the first time since the scene started. Derek looks at him right back, his eyes intense and dark in his face – he’s really, really enjoying this. Stiles can feel his erection through his pants against his legs, rubs against it a bit just to tease him. “Spank me like you know I want you to.”

“Yeah?” God, his voice is fucking low, fucked-out and hungry. It’s all the incentive Derek needs to go right back into it, and this time, he sets a real pace. Every three seconds on either cheek, there comes a slap, and that pause and silence in between each one is usually filled with Stiles’ moaning and whimpering, his fingers digging into the sheets.

When he strokes Stiles’ cock this time, he doesn’t stop spanking. It’s just both at once, one hand stroking and the other slapping, and Stiles just lies there with his legs open and burying his hands underneath his own chest just to keep them immobile, taking it all at once. He’s never felt so fucking controlled before, or at Derek’s mercy, or…submissive. Not in his entire life. This, right now, is the closest he’ll ever come to the hardcore shit. And this is fairly vanilla, all things said and done – Jesus, everyone sort of likes spanking.

And, Derek is not hitting him that hard. They’re slaps, yes, but nothing more, nothing less. It’s taking him forever to get Stiles’ skin red because he’s not giving it his full power; if he did, well.

If he did, Stiles would have a hard time walking afterwards. The dude is strong.

Stiles buries his face into the sheets at one point, body locking up as he feels his orgasm building under Derek’s hands. “I’m close,” he pants, and Derek doesn’t stop. He doesn’t even slow down; the hand on his cock speeds up, while the one spanking him stays just the same. “Oh, my God, I’m so close. May I come? Please?”

“Yes,” he says, and Stiles’ body shudders. He lifts his ass up a bit higher to give Derek more room to work him off, and Derek lands two more harsh slaps onto his cheeks before stopping and focusing only on stroking him off. The slick sound of skin on skin is the only noise aside from Stiles’ pathetic little noises from the top of the bed for a moment, and then he comes in quick spurts across Derek’s leg and onto the floor.

As he’s coming down he unlocks his body from its tight curl, allowing Derek to caress his stinging and burning bottom with both hands, one damp with come and lube. “Good, good boy,” Derek praises softly, soothing Stiles’ hurt. “Taking your spanking and coming for me. You liked that, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” he admits, barely ashamed.

“Yeah, you liked that.” He rubs for a couple moments more, while Stiles goes limp and still underneath him, blinking across the room as he comes down from his orgasm. Then, the hands are off of him and there’s another familiar sound of a bottle being opened, something squirting into Derek’s hand.

When his hand comes back this time, there’s something wet and cooling being spread across his cheeks. And it feels good, really good, on his burning red bottom, almost like Vick’s vapor rub during a cold. He leans up into the touch and sighs, content, as Derek slowly works the cream or gel or whatever it is over his hurt. “You did so well,” Derek promises him, caressing and patting him on the lower back. “You took it so nicely, baby. You should see how pretty you look right now.”

Stiles doesn’t much care about that. He just sinks into the sound of Derek’s voice, closing his eyes and melting against his touch like butter, like wax, like putty in Derek’s fingers.

“Come on up and let’s talk about it,” he suggests, pulling Stiles up by his hips. The cream on his ass smells like something fresh and crisp, and it soothes him almost as much as the cooling feel of it does, but it’s not dry. So Derek picks him up and doesn’t set him down, doesn’t even really take him off of his lap – he just pulls Stiles up so he’s straddling Derek’s legs, one knee on either side of him.

Derek has to lean back to look him in his face, and his expression is as open and curious as it always is during aftercare. Like he’s hunting for an issue, searching for a hurt.

Stiles meets his eyes, and Derek lifts a brow. He says, “are you feeling all right?”

For whatever reason, that does it.

Stiles curls his arm around Derek’s neck, holding on for dear life, and everything that he had been burrowing deep down inside himself comes crashing down on him all at once. It’s as though the emotional and physical release of the scene is forcing him to – healthily like he should’ve done in the first place – confront his problems, instead of burying them like he loves to do so much. He’s in a fragile headspace, and this is the farthest they’ve ever gone, and Derek is looking at him all soft and gentle and understanding, and he…cracks.

He shoves his face into Derek’s neck and cries. It all starts with one great big heaving sob, that he tries to stifle down to the best of his ability but fruitlessly anyway, and it keeps going from there. It would probably be funny for Stiles to see it, him fully naked and crying hysterically into Derek’s neck with a red ass smeared all over with something like aloe vera, but it’s not so funny now.

“Okay,” Derek says, voice right in his ear as he pats Stiles on the back gently and sighs. “Come on, and tell daddy what’s the matter. I can fix anything, you know that.”

“Not me,” Stiles says into Derek’s skin, curling his fingers tight into Derek’s shirt. “I’m a failure, I’m failing, everything is wrong, I can’t do anything right.”

“What are you talking about?” Derek’s voice is still so small, like he’s talking to a spooked animal. No judgment, no anger, nothing.

“I’m failing,” he repeats, like it’ll mean anything to Derek. “My work is terrible, I can’t – I can’t focus and I have to rewrite an entire thing because it’s so bad…” at this point, he’s mostly just blubbering, but he can feel Derek nodding along as he’s understanding every word. More likely than not, he is. “And Scott is so far away now and we only ever talk on the phone, and my dad doesn’t – he doesn’t even pick up my calls and I tried to call him and tell him we moved in together but he didn’t even…and I’m supposed to be good at one thing, and that’s writing, and I’m – I’m just – I’m failing, and I only have nine fingers and everyone – and Scott hates you for what you do and why wouldn’t he? I’m just so…”

“Shhh,” Derek finally interrupts, rubbing soothing circles into Stiles’ bare back while he cries, and cries, and cries. See, this is what happens when Stiles smothers things down instead of approaching them. He turns into a complete fucking mess during aftercare. It’s incredible he never learns his lesson on this particular issue of his. “It’s all right. Just calm down, take some deep breaths.”

Derek’s hand on his back is a steady, constant rhythm, and Stiles focuses on it intently. He hides his face deeper into Derek’s neck and sniffles, composing himself to the best of his ability as Derek keeps stroking, and stroking, shh’ing him intermittently.

“First of all, you’re not a failure. You wrote one bad article, you can’t be perfect all the time.”

“It’s been a lot of bad ones,” he argues around a sniffle.

“It’s okay to be going through something, you know. You can talk to me. You always say you’re my best friend and I can talk to you about anything, but you never talk to me, baby.”

Stiles curls deeper into Derek, knowing that he might be right. Stiles has a hard time talking to anyone about anything. That’s why this is even a problem to begin with; he just…digs, digs, digs, these giant holes inside of his chest and his head, and he hides everything he’s ashamed of there. Maybe he tries to unearth it all in a way that he thinks is therapeutic and healthy; i.e., being a gigantic kinkster and wanting someone to humiliate and control him as a way of releasing some of his own demons physically.

But it’s not enough.

“You never say how you really think about what it is I do, and you must think I’m stupid if you honestly believe I don’t notice. You can tell me it bothers you.”

“I…” he isn’t sure how to answer that. He’s too upset.

“You can say anything you need to say to me. Your feelings are not something I’d get angry about, and I know you don’t have anyone else to talk to about this. I know I’m not the, uh…the best at talking. But I can always listen.”

Stiles sniffles and hides his face.

“Here’s what we’re gonna do,” Derek pulls back, and makes it a point to tug Stiles’ face out from his shoulder with gentle fingers, so he’s forced to look Derek in the face. Stiles is sure he looks like a mess, all teary eyed and snotty and gross, but Derek just smiles at him all soft, like a dom, just like Stiles needs, and tilts his head to the side. He wipes away some of Stiles’ tears with his thumbs, pushing them away and sighing through his nose. “We’re going to get you cleaned up and then we’re going to look at your work together. You’re a great writer, I know you are. We can fix it.”

Stiles, childish and petulant for whatever reason, puckers his lips and looks away. “You’re not too busy for that?”

Abrupt and quick, Derek’s fingers grip onto his chin and force his face back to look right back into Derek’s. His eyes are serious, narrow. “If you need me, I’ll be there. All you have to do is ask.”

Stiles hasn’t been asking very much. Or, at all. He just accepted that Derek was busy and got all pouty and annoyed about it, and, yeah, buried that one deep down too, to manifest itself up in ugly, obnoxious ways.

“And I’ll talk to your father.”

“That’s not a good –“

Derek gives him that look. That and that’s final look, that always has Stiles stopping in his tracks, shutting his mouth with a click of his teeth. “I’ll fix it. Don’t even worry about it.”

Stiles cannot imagine how Derek plans on going about doing that, and really he doesn’t even wanna think about it. He just wants to go to sleep, as it stands right now, curl up against Derek’s chest and nap and let Derek do everything for him. That’s what he wants. All his problems can be gone with a snap of Derek’s fingers. In this headspace, he genuinely believes that.

“Scott I’ll just work on,” he murmurs, eyes going far away as if he’s thinking about it. “He’s a malleable simpleton. No offense.”

“True is true,” Stiles mutters, dipping his neck low to rest his head on Derek’s shoulder again. “I’m tired.”

“Take a nap. But you have to be up soon to eat and fix your article, love.”

Stiles hmm’s his understanding, eyes fluttering closed against Derek’s shoulder. He feels…light. Like everything is out of him, all of the weight of his shoulders. His tension and anxiety taken completely away by the spanking, his fears and his negative feelings all vomited out into Derek’s ear, and all of his problems aired out for Derek to take a look at and pick at, examining them until he finds solutions.

It’s, easily, the best he’s felt in weeks. The orgasm also had a bit to do with it, but that’s a no-brainer.

“Thank you, daddy,” he murmurs, and Derek curls his fingers into Stiles’ hair.

“I’d do anything for you,” Derek whispers into his ear, and Stiles has a thought, as he starts to drift off to sleep in Derek’s arms.

How far does anything go?

***

Me, 2:34 PM : Hey, club night!
Daddy 2:35 PM : Ha, what?
Me, 2:38 PM : CLUB NIGHT!! We bar crawl. By we I mean me and Scott and now by extension, Kira. We haven’t done it forever.
Me, 2:39 PM : I know it’s not your thing
Me, 2:39 PM : But I’d love it if you came and did the boyfriend thing.
Daddy, 2:41 PM : Then I will come and do the boyfriend thing.
Daddy, 2:42 PM : It’s a good chance to prove myself as less despicable in Scott’s eyes.
Me, 2:43 PM : Buy the malleable simpleton a drink or two and he’ll forget allllll about what it is you do (:
Daddy, 2:44 PM : I’ll buy all the drinks. Don’t even bring money.
Me, 2:45 PM : I just got so hard in my pants…you are the best at dirty talk.

Stiles smirks at the eye-roll emoji he gets in response and chews on his bottom lip, feeling better than he has in some time. He turned in his new article with Derek’s mother-henning of the revision, and his editor was pleased in that silent well, you didn’t fuck up way, printed it, and now he’s back on track. It’s almost like Derek really does have a magic wand, an easy button he presses to get whatever he wants.

The Sheriff situation, Stiles hasn’t heard about yet. But Derek said he’d take care of it, and even though it baffles him to think of how he could possibly do it still, Stiles has full faith that his father will be calling him any day now to gruffly apologize.

He’s just pouring himself back into his research for his next piece, chewing on the end of his highlighter aggressively and cocking his head to the side as he scrolls, when his desk phone rings. Typically, it only ever rings when it’s someone who’s related to a piece he’s working on; it’s the number that’s on his business card, so all the sources he calls or approaches in person are given the card and the extension number.

It’s never Derek, or his father, or any of his friends, and very rarely is it Scott. So he picks it up and presses it to his ear, letting the highlighter fall out of his mouth as he opens it to speak. “Stilinski,” he says, still half reading a police report on some of the art theft that’s been somewhat rampant in Beacon Hills in the past couple of months.

“Stiles,” an unfamiliar voice greets on the other end, too friendly for its strangeness, and Stiles pauses. “It’s Theo. Raeken. You remember.”

An uncomfortable chill immediately falls over Stiles’ back. He’s barely said three words, but Stiles knows there’s something not right about getting a phone call from him. The only thing he can think to say, for several suspended seconds of silence, is, “how did you get this number?”

“It’s public record,” is the amused response, and Stiles thinks about hanging up.

One thing Derek has never said only because he has never needed to say it, is that Stiles has no business interacting with people from Derek’s world without Derek’s presence. There’s no reason for him to talk to Theo Raeken, or to anybody who isn’t one of Derek’s core trusted few.

But Stiles is frozen still in surprise, and his curiosity gets the best of him, so he stays on the line.

“I hope you’re doing well.”

“I’m fine.” Stiles’ voice is slow, calculated.

“I was just calling in the hopes that you’d deliver a message to Derek for me.”

Last time Stiles was part of sending a message to Derek, he got his finger cut off. He’s not particularly thrilled about being involved in another one, but Theo is speaking before Stiles has the chance to say anything to the contrary.

“I wonder if you’d ask him if he’d reconsider. That’s all.”

The line goes dead, and Stiles sits there listening to the dial tone. For moments, seconds, maybe an entire minute, he listens. Until it beeps, beeps, beeps, and goes to the automated voice telling him the call has been disconnected.

Glacially, he puts the phone back in its cradle with that familiar click of plastic on plastic, and stares out across his office. Around him, things are going exactly as they should be – the plant waves in the early spring air conditioning, the water jug gurgles, people talk and murmur and hunt down sources, and the busy street down below continues on.

But Stiles sits, and he sits, putting his hand over his mouth.

While the content of the conversation itself by the words alone was harmless, Stiles isn’t that stupid. He wasn’t that stupid even before he got together with Derek, and now, after everything he’s seen because of Derek, he’s really not that stupid. If Theo genuinely just wanted to pleasantly seek Derek’s reconsideration of the deal that fell through months ago now, he would’ve called Derek directly. They know each other. They have each other’s phone numbers. It would’ve been a much easier conversation.

But he didn’t do that. Because it was never really about trying to get Derek to reconsider anything.

That phone call was a demonstration of just how easy it is for Theo or anyone else for that matter, to get to Stiles. How easy it would be to come to this office, to go to Scott’s house, to his father’s house, to Derek’s penthouse when Derek isn’t around. How Stiles is a sitting duck, and there’s nothing that Derek can do about it.

How Stiles is the one who killed the deal to begin with, and Theo knows that. Millions of dollars gone, at Stiles’ word. Some people, people like Theo especially, might not take too kindly to that.

It was a message, all right. A threat, for Derek specifically. If he finds out about this, he will be in the car, driving to wherever Theo resides, and blowing his head off to the best of his ability. If Stiles tells him, Derek will go bananas and get himself in trouble. Stiles knows this. He knows because when Stiles told Derek about Chris, it was only seconds before Derek was beating the living hell out of him, a day before the cops were after him on a warrant. He weaseled his way out of that one, sure, but…

Yeah. Derek will kill Theo is he hears about this. Stiles doesn’t want to put him in any kind of trouble.

So he sits up straight and clears his throat. His phone is sitting right there. It’d be so easy to text him, to call him, and tell him what happened.

But he won’t. This is a secret he’ll keep, for Derek’s own good.

Chapter Text

Daddy, 4:34 PM : I’m making a reservation for dinner. What kind of place do you think Kira and Scott would like?
Me, 4:46 PM : Uhhh we don’t eat dinner before crawling!
Me, 4:47 PM : Empty stomach liquor only.
Daddy, 4:49 PM : No. You’ll eat first.
Me, 4:51 PM : omfg…………..rescinds your invitation
Me, 4:52 PM : Come on. We get fried mac and cheese from the seedy place on 5th at like midnight it’s tradition
Daddy, 4:56 PM : No.
Me, 4:57 PM : Fiiinneeeeeee omfg…
Me, 4:59 PM : No place too fancy. Uh idk burgers? You know more about the good restaurants than I do.
Daddy, 5:01 PM : I’m trying to wine and dine your friends, here.
Daddy, 5:03 PM : I’m good at buying people’s good graces.
Me, 5:04 PM : Mine, especially!!

Stiles twirls his fork around in his packed lunch – a rice and chicken concoction that Derek made in bulk and then packaged up in little Ziploc containers for Stiles to take along with him throughout the week – and sighs a bit happily. Derek really does seem like the type who’d drag his feet about things like this, as though Stiles really were the old ball and chain, forcing him into doing things he’d rather eat glass than do. The surprising part is that he’s really not like that, at all; he’s genuinely happy to spend hundreds of dollars on a night of drinking for Stiles and his friends, if only because he knows Stiles really wants him to get to know his pals.

He can be really, really thoughtful. Stiles loves him so much it’s idiotic.

It’s about two minutes after Stiles has put his phone face down to focus completely on shoveling his lunch down his throat that the thing starts to buzz. He swallows and flips it over, expecting maybe Scott to be calling to confirm plans, but instead, Daddy is flashing at him with the heart emojis, plastered atop a picture of a cartoon bunny hugging another pink heart. Stiles had thought it was funny at the time, but now, it’s more close to the unironic truth than anything else.

Expecting it to be an accidental butt dial, Stiles lifts the phone to his ear and swallows. “Wrong number,” he says, poking his fork around some more in his lunch.

“Where are you right now?”

“Uh,” he looks around the office, blinking. “The Taj Mahal.”

“I know you’re at work, smartass. I meant where specifically.”

“My desk.”

“Can you go someplace else?” His tone sounds a bit clipped, but not necessarily annoyed. Just like he’s eager to get the conversation going and is impatient with the introduction. “More private?”

Stiles wheels backwards, looking around himself some more. The bathroom really isn’t all that private, as luck would have it – people spend a lot of time in there around here, and not just to handle their business. He’s walked in on dudes hovering at the mirror tapping away on their phones, or dudes just leaning up against the wall by the potted plants not doing much of anything except for escaping their desk for a blessed five minutes. Stiles has done his own unnecessary lingering in the bathroom before, so the point is, that’s off the list. There is one spot down the hall by the vending machines that he knows almost no one ever visits, chiefly because they had replaced the typical vending fare of chips and chocolate bars with “healthier alternatives.” People didn’t respond well to the flax seed muffin options, and so almost no one ever walks down that particular hallway. “I guess,” he decides, standing and taking his lunch along with him. “What’s up? Is it crime stuff?”

A brief exhalation of breath that’s likely a laugh comes through the other line. “Do you think I’d call you out of the blue with quote unquote crime stuff?”

Stiles walks, probably looking bizarre to his coworkers hefting along his half eaten lunch while talking with his phone plastered to his ear. “I think you would, yeah. Who are we whacking today?”

“Are you there?”

“Jesus,” Stiles mutters, turning the corner to enter the eerie fluorescent graveyard of the buzzing vending machines. As expected, it’s dead as a doornail over here, the sounds from the office distant and down to a low murmur like he’s in another section of the building altogether. He presses himself into the corner between the wall and the last machine, huffing a sigh. As he uses his shoulder to press his phone into his ear, he pecks with vicious stabs of his fork at his food. “Now I am.”

“Good,” there’s no pause. Derek goes from casual and mysterious to right in Stiles’ face with it in a matter of seconds. “I think that now that we’re living together, we should have some more rules.”

Stiles pauses in his chewing, and then starts up again, lifting his eyebrows. “Uh, okay. Rules?”

“You know what I mean,” Derek’s voice is low.

“Oh, man…” Stiles swallows and shakes his head, lifting his eyes up to the ceiling. Yes, he certainly does know what Derek means – he’s just flabbergasted that Derek has called him at work to start discussing them. He couldn’t have waited until they were alone together in their apartment? For fuck’s sake. “What’d you have in mind?”

Again – there’s no pause. Derek has likely been thinking about this conversation all fucking day and has what he wants to say all planned out and ready to go. He says, “I think you should blow me every morning.”

Stiles can’t help it. He bursts out laughing. He nearly chokes on a grain of rice as he does so, hacking up a lung all by himself hidden away where no one can see him and where no one can likely hear him either. “Aww,” he says when he gets his breath back, “what a fun, sexy time that would be for you.”

“Is that a no?” Stiles can hear the smile in Derek’s voice, so he smiles too.

“It depends,” he lowers his voice and checks over his shoulder quickly, just to make sure, before turning back around and hunching lower into the darkness. “Do I get to come every morning too?”

“Sometimes.”

Sometimes,” Stiles repeats, rolling his eyes. “You aren’t selling this at all.”

“Are you saying no or not?”

Stiles grins down at his shoes and shakes his head. Honestly, there’s not much he dislikes about the idea – after all, it’s been well established that he loves dick, and what better way to capitalize on that than to start his day every day with a dick in his mouth? Plus, it might help him to wake up a lot better than he’s been doing lately; Derek has had to shake him awake, pull the covers off him, and half drag him out of bed three times this past week.

And, Jesus, Stiles gets everything he wants. He figures the least he can do is suck Derek off. “We can try it out,” he agrees, and then scuffs his shoes a bit on the carpeting underfoot. “Did you seriously call me at two in the afternoon while we’re both at work to negotiate kinks?”

“I did. I have more.”

“Of course,” Stiles eats some more, talking with his mouthful. “What else?”

“I think you should let me spank you twice a month.”

That gives Stiles some pause. He nearly doesn’t remember to swallow his food, and then quickly does, looking over his shoulder again and feeling his face heat up. “Uh…”

“It was really good for you, this last time. I just sort of think it’s something you need for your own good. And you liked it, didn’t you?”

Stiles did. He liked it way more than he thought he would. A lot of the spanking content he had seen online that had made him so hesitant/curious about it in the first place had been more about the punishment aspect as opposed to anything else. It had a focus on the DSM bits, the parts that make Stiles squirm and did even before certain aspects of it were triggering for him.

But Derek had done it well. Very, very well. It wasn’t a punishment or discipline or any of that; it was catharsis. A release in more ways than one.

“There’s nothing shameful or wrong about needing a little pain to help you every now and then,” Derek’s voice is gentle and soothing on the other line, like it is during aftercare, and Stiles stares down at the ground and bites his lip.

“So, like,” he starts, and then clears his throat anxiously, “uh…what like, days would it be?”

“Whenever I think it’s necessary.”

Ah, so that’s how it’s going to be. One more little piece of control over Stiles’ body that Stiles is going to hand over to him on a silver platter, another thing Derek gets to add to his mental checklist of things he’s in charge of in terms of Stiles’ wellbeing. The dirty part is, Stiles likes that part about it even more than the bit where he’s actually over Derek’s knee. That weird little submissive side of him preens at the thought of Derek owning him like this.

So, really, Stiles can’t say no. He doesn’t want to. “Okay,” he says, leaning back against the wall and sighing through his nose.

“Good boy, Stiles. You’ll see how much better you feel after the first month, and it’ll be fun. You know I’ll make it fun.”

Stiles has no doubts about that. He keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Derek to finally admit he wants to do a naughty school girl roleplay – it’s not like Stiles doesn’t have the outfit for it, after all, and Derek has seen to it that he has a dozen variations of it already. “Since you’re over here making demands, I think I should get to make some, too.”

“Is that right?” Derek sounds amused.

“Yes, that’s right. I want more cuddles,” Derek makes a noise of agreement on the other end, “I demand more chocolate in the house,” some more agreement, “and I want Netflix rule.”

“You’ll have me watching every episode of It’s Always Sunny for the sixth time.”

“Hey, mister. You want your morning suck session or what?”

Derek laughs. His laugh over the phone is all grainy and cute, and Stiles can’t help but smile so hard his nose scrunches up right along with him. “Okay, fine. You may rule the Netflix. Just promise me you’ll be benign and allow me to have veto rights every now and again.”

“No promises. It’s a dictatorship.”

He laughs again, sounding light and carefree in a way he hasn’t for a while. He’s been like this ever since he spanked Stiles, honestly, which is either weird or not depending on how you look at it. Either way, he’s the happiest he’s been since he and Stiles first met each other, and it only thickens Stiles’ resolve to keep Theo’s one time threat to him a secret. After all, it was just the once, and it’s been about a week since – no word. Maybe it really isn’t anything to worry about. “All right, love, I have to go. I’ll text you which restaurant I pick and I’ll meet you guys there, okay?”

Thumping his head back against the wall, Stiles bites his lip. “Please don’t be late, daddy,” he only half-begs, and Derek huffs.

“I promise I won’t be. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll see you then.”

***

Derek is on time almost down to the exact second. Stiles had only just given Derek’s name for the reservation at the counter, just huddled over to the booth with Kira and Scott, just sat down, and then there Derek is.

He comes sweeping into the room adjusting the collar of his shirt, fixing his hair, scanning the room for Stiles. Once they find each other’s eyes, he smiles and his eyes crinkle at the corners, and Stiles leans his chin in his palm and feels very pleased with him. Stiles never stops to wonder what exactly Derek has to rearrange or switch around or cancel just to make time for him; but then, really, he doesn’t much care.

“Hey guys,” he greets as he comes up to the booth, and then slides in alongside Stiles without pausing. They peck each other on the mouth, quick and light and domestic, and then Derek focuses his attention on the two other people blinking a bit owlishly at him from across the table. “Have you ever been here before?”

Scott speaks up, because Kira has this look on her face that suggests she still believes Derek is a hologram of some sort. “No, actually. I thought I’d been to most places in BH but this is a new spot,” he grins, easy like he’s never before said that he dislikes Derek at all. He’s good at being fake – it comes with the “nice” label. Nobody nice is as genuine as they seem, not even someone as stupid as Scott.

“The spicy pepper burger is crazy,” Derek tells him, pointing to the offending item on the menu for Scott to look at himself. “Melt your face off.”

Stiles beams at Derek’s easy going attitude, using his hand to stroke gently up and down his back affectionately.

“I’m sort of surprised you chose this place actually,” Scott says, scratching at his cheek absentmindedly. Stiles may be the only one at the table who knows it’s his go-to nervous tic. “I was expecting the hundred dollar a plate place down the street.” He nudges Kira in the side a bit, and she smiles nervously once attention is put upon her. “Derek is rich, you know.”

“In spirit,” Stiles says, threading his fingers with Derek’s under the table and shooting him a wide grin.

“What is it you do again?” Kira asks, tilting her head to the side. Stiles is sure Scott has spoon fed her the lie before, but it’s funny how quickly people can forget things that aren’t true, especially when they aren’t true in a way that’s painfully obvious.

Derek taps his fingers on the tabletop and smiles, very thin. “I’m a financial advisor.”

“So, you…” she trails off, moving her hand in the air as an invitation for him to finish that sentence for her.

Stiles looks at the side of his face, biting down on his bottom lip. It isn’t strictly untrue – it’s just only half of the picture. Derek is so good at selling it by now he could make an infomercial about it; What I Do for A Living, starring Derek Hale.

“…advise people on their life planning and spending. Widows with rich husbands who pass away and leave them their entire fortune, orphans who’ve lost their family, or just stupid people,” he shrugs. “It pays the bills.”

Boy, does it. Stiles would be interested to see the breakdown of where exactly Derek’s money comes in from – the ratio of how much of it is actual income from his white collar job and how much of it is simply laundered right on through. Stiles is willing to bet only 25 percent, at most, comes from anywhere legitimate.

The waitress appears and collects their orders some time later, scribbling nice and quick in her little notepad, and five minutes later they all have their drinks and the night has truly begun. Even though Derek is the defacto “designated driver”, he has another dude sitting in the town car parked out front named Vincent who’s going to drive them around all night. So Derek gets to drink as much as he wants as well; but he’s more of a private drunk.

As in, he’ll probably have three whiskeys tonight and call it good. Meanwhile, Stiles has physically seen him put away half handles of the stuff in their apartment. It must be that silver spoon thing again – manners and social graces and what have you. Stiles wouldn’t know.

After all, he’s planning on getting absolutely plastered tonight whether Derek does it with him or not.

They finish their food and the conversation feels easy. What Stiles’ father had said about Derek that night, a million years ago now over dinner after Derek had been late and Stiles was upset with him, is actually one of the truer things the Sheriff has ever said. That Derek has a natural ability to be likeable, to be charming, to be almost guileless. Because Kira even starts to warm up to him by the end, perhaps drawn in by his easygoing confidence and the way he keeps his arm around Stiles the entire time and how he smiles when he offers to buy the table another round. He pays the bill, smiles as he signs the receipt and doles out a generous tip to their teenaged waitress, and then whisks them all off in his fancy car with a driver to take them to the next spot.

In Stiles and Scott’s other escapades of similar nature, they’ve just hobbled from bar to bar on foot, deeming the night over either only when the bars closed or when one of them couldn’t walk to the next place. This feels radically different, herded into Derek’s car with the air conditioning and the champagne flutes and the smell of expensive leather.

They wind up at a club downtown that’s so loud Derek has to constantly lean down and talk into Stiles’ ear to even say the most menial of comments. Kira seems perturbed at the thought of them all getting separated in the big crowd, a female fear that’s lost on the rest of them, so they find a corner after gathering their drinks from the snappish and aggravated bartender and huddle there together.

Derek sits on a plush couch right next to Stiles, close as physically possible without them being right on top of each other, and sips. He scans the crowd with shrewd eyes while Stiles yells at top volume across the cocktail table between he and Scott about a video game, waving his hands and nearly spilling Derek’s drink at one point. Derek catches it and doesn’t even make a comment, just sips again and scans, like he’s looking for someone.

Stiles long ago gave up on demanding answers to everything that Derek does. Chances are, the truth isn’t as interesting as Stiles’ imagination. Maybe he is looking for someone – who knows?

At one point, Derek leans down and presses his mouth against Stiles’ ear, so his breath is hot and wet against the tips of Stiles’ hair. “Do you wanna dance?” He asks, and Stiles nearly double-takes him to confirm that, yes, that was Derek Hale that just posed that question to him.

All the same, Stiles rears his neck back in surprise and looks Derek long and hard in the face, eyes big. “You want to dance?”

“If you want to,” Derek shrugs, nonchalant, and Stiles could scream in surprise. All the things Stiles knows for sure about Derek and all the things Stiles could only guess at – one thing he’s always felt fairly certain of is that this is not a man who dances. Not at all. It would’ve never even crossed Stiles’ mind.

“Uh –“ Stiles laughs, eyebrows going up into his hairline. “I’m not much for it. I look like a deranged squirrel escaped from the pound when I dance.”

“Come on,” Derek juts his head in the direction of the dancefloor, with all the lights and pretty cocktail dresses glimmering against them as the girls wearing them move, and smiles. “It might be fun.”

“I don’t think you want to see me try,” Stiles shakes his head, blushing a bit as he looks down into the remnants of his drink. “You’d lose all sexual interest in me after witnessing such a pathetic display.”

Derek stands. Unbelievably, he fucking stands up, puts his half-finished drink down on their table, and uses his now-empty hand to offer it out to Stiles. “Just for a minute,” he says, and Stiles blinks up at him and then looks across the table to Scott and Kira.

They seem pretty wrapped up in their conversation over there, and Stiles bites his lip and feels…surprised, by Derek.

Still, Stiles takes the hand and lets himself be pulled up. Derek laces their fingers together and tugs Stiles along through the crowd, pushing his way through without any excuse me’s because they’d fall on deaf ears either way, until they’re right up against the dance floor and everything feels so much bigger and louder. Stiles covers his face with his free hand as soon as they’re among the other bodies, the music so thick it’s almost visible, and laughs.

“I can’t,” he says, even as he keeps grinning and hiding his face. “I feel so dumb.”

“I can’t dance either,” Derek says this like he’s placating him somehow, wrapping his fingers around Stiles’ hips and pulling his body right up against his own, close as can be. “This isn’t really even dancing,” he explains right into Stiles’ ear once they’re that close, keeping his hands firm on Stiles’ hips. “It’s just moving.”

There is a certain kind of dancing that Stiles guesses he could imagine Derek not only doing but being halfway decent at. Things like waltzes at fancy parties or cotillions, where there’s six inches of space between himself and a beautiful girl in a big ball gown, and Derek is in a tuxedo and he knows all the steps and the girls all fawn over him and his money and his family name.

This is not like that. At all. This is bass thumping, someone getting fingered on the dance floor two people away from where they’re standing, sticky spilled drinks all over the floor, and neon. There’s no decorum or protocol to this. Derek pulls their bodies close and Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s neck loosely, to look him in the face and blush and smile all shy in a way he hasn’t been since they first started going out, and it’s almost surreal.

They do, sort of, dance. It’s nothing like the way Stiles used to embarrass himself in college by getting too drunk and flopping around the dance floor like a fish out of water – this time, he has someone to keep him from doing that. Someone who’s grinding right up against him and making him bite his lip and feel sexy.

Derek’s hands go all over him, and Stiles’ hands all over Derek in return, and they melt into one another. It’s like the first time they met – lightning. Easy and quick, no questions asked. It’s easy for him to fall back into that headspace where he believed Derek was just a wealthy, good looking guy who was miraculously into him. None of the other strings that make things so hard, now. None of the things that keep him awake at night, from time to time. Just them.

Derek’s mouth is against his ear again, and Stiles tilts his neck to allow him better access. Rough, voice a little tight like he’s forcing it out, he says, “I want to fucking tear you apart.”

Stiles huffs something breathy into Derek’s neck and pulls him tighter.

“Do you have any idea how sexy you are?”

“You sound like you’re hitting on someone you just met at a sleazy bar,” Stiles taunts back, even as he smiles and ducks his face to hide his evident delight. It’s not a secret that Derek is turned on – Christ, they’ve been rubbing against one another for two minutes now, Stiles felt his erection as soon as it started. Still, it’s always nice to hear it out loud.

Ignoring Stiles’ teasing, Derek goes on. “I want to fuck you until you can’t see straight.”

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles clutches him, a wave of want going through him so strong it almost knocks him over – further into Derek’s arms. “Too bad we’re in public.”

Derek laughs. Since it’s right there against Stiles’ skin, he can feel it more than he can hear it, that exhalation of breath and the way his chest moves up and down. He pulls back to look Stiles in the face, cocking his head to the side with this little smile like Stiles has said something very, very silly. “I’m Derek Hale,” he says, and Stiles blinks at him. “I can do anything I want.”

Derek knows a guy. Or, he’s been to this club before. Or, he makes it a habit to buy out VIP sections in as many clubs as he can just because he hates crowds but likes drinking, or – who knows? All Stiles knows for sure is one second they were on the dance floor and Derek was being filthy, and the next second they were tumbling up a set of stairs after being let through a velvet rope by a security guy who took one look at Derek and didn’t even blink before letting them pass into top secret, private, expensive territory.

They go up, hastily, and spill out onto one of the balconies in the rafters that’s closed off from the other ones by deep purple velvet curtains. There’s a couch, a couple of arm chairs, and some table space. It overlooks the crowd and the dancing and the lights, the music not any softer up here, but it offers the veil of privacy.

No one around them can see them. Anyone down below can’t see them, either.

It’s all the incentive Stiles needs to let Derek grab him, tear his clothes off in a mess of fumbling kisses and roaming hands and whispered gross bullshit in Stiles’ ear. He falls back onto the couch, naked aside from his shirt, and Derek climbs on top of him. They kiss, again, and kiss, and kiss, and Derek’s belt comes undone and he’s reaching his finger up underneath to poke at Stiles’ ass, and Stiles lets him.

“Fuck,” he mutters at one point, maybe just to say it, maybe because he couldn’t think of anything else, and Derek flips him over.

Hands and knees. Stiles could count on one hand the number of times they’ve done it like this before, weirdly enough. Mostly, they prefer to look each other in the face. Still, the position is as natural to Stiles as anything else, and he happily obliges and goes along with it, arching his back and digging his palms into the leather underneath him. “I want you,” Derek hisses, like this needed to be announced, while shoving a wet finger into Stiles’ ass and curling it in and out. “I fucking want all of you, all the time –“

“You’ve already got it,” Stiles says, turning his head to look across where he can clearly see other people. Oblivious people. This is…insane. Derek puts in a second finger and works it, hasty and desperate.

It’s not long before a third finger joins in, and Stiles hisses that he’s good, he’s fine, let’s do it I wanna do it I want you in me let’s go. It’s just been so long, so long since they’ve actually fucked that Stiles has nearly forgotten what it’s like in those first few seconds of Derek sliding inside him, and he’s been thinking about it so much and fantasizing and wanting Derek so bad he could scream.

He gets it, one long slow push, and his eyes roll back into his head. “Yeah,” he whines, arching harder and biting his lip. “Yeah, yes, fuck –“

Derek puts his hand on Stiles’ lower back as if to keep him steady, fucking in and out almost brutally for how little prep Stiles had for the occasion. He’s only spit-slick and barely worked open with three fingers, but god he doesn’t care. All he cares about is Derek being inside of him.

He knows that he can be as loud as he wants up here. There’s no one that could actually hear him, and even if somebody did, they wouldn’t care much. People have sex openly in the bathrooms in this place; and not just gay couples, either. He’s walked into the men’s room at this club to take a piss and seen a girl’s whole entire vagina getting plowed by some dude over one of the sinks. At least Derek is too classy for that.

Case and point, he doesn’t bother with stifling anything. He moans and curses and whines when Derek hits his good spot, curling his fingers deep into the leather to the point where he’s sure he’s leaving marks. “Harder,” he demands, spreading his legs wider. “Harder, I want it. Hurt me, daddy.”

Always happy to oblige any single one of Stiles’ wishes, Derek does. He grips hard into Stiles’ hair with a big hand and tugs, so Stiles gasps and lifts his neck up – baring it as if in submission. And he fucks. The sound must be loud, it must be deafening, their skin meeting so fast and harsh it’s like a slap every time, but Stiles can barely hear it over everything else. “Say my name, baby.”

Stiles shudders, mouth hanging open in silent pleasure as he takes the fucking of a lifetime. Maybe it only seems like that because it’s been so long since he’s gotten it, but who’s looking at the details? “Derek,” he manages to moan out, and Derek nails him in just the right spot. “Derek, Derek, fuck…”

“Gonna come?” Derek asks, and he sounds nearly almost out of breath. He should be, with the pace he’s setting.

“Yeah, oh my God, yes.”

Derek drapes his body over Stiles’ as much as he can while maintaining that pace, pulling his hand out of Stiles’ hair to instead use it to heft his hips up a bit more. “Go on. Come on my cock, let’s see it.”

Oh, God, it’s been way too long since Stiles has come from a good hard fucking. Really, he’s only come twice in the past month, and that was from Derek’s hand once, and Derek’s hand a second time. Not that there’s anything wrong with a patented Derek handjob, but God damn, god fucking damn, the fucking is so much better. Stiles has been longing for it, dreaming about it, that prostate-given orgasm. The force of Derek’s thrusts nearly pushing him off whatever surface he’s on. The feel of being at Derek’s mercy, of being so little underneath him, of being controlled. He’s needed this.

As a result, he pretty much comes on command. As soon as the words are out of Derek’s mouth, Stiles is half-screaming into the couch and coming his fucking intestines out through his dick, banging his fist on the couch because he doesn’t know what else to do. It’s thoughtless, anyway. He nearly blacks out.

Comes back to, all light and fresh. Blinks out across the club and sees people, all these people who have no idea someone just had the best orgasm of their lives fifteen feet away from them at minimum. It’s so fucking gross, it’s awful, and Stiles looks directly at a girl across the way down below in a sequin pink skirt and smirks, even in the wake of all that.

Derek finishes, hot and wet in Stiles’ body, and slows to a stuttering stop. He pats Stiles’ lower back affectionately, rubbing at his fair skin again and again as if that’s all he can muster the energy to do right about now. Stiles doesn’t blame him, honestly – the dude just won an Olympic medal for fucking, Stiles is pretty sure.

“Sweetheart,” his voice is breathy and far away. Light, barely audible over the music.

“Oh, my God…” Stiles says, panting. “Oh my fucking god. I just – I just…”

Derek slides out, and Stiles barely feels it.

“That felt so good. I feel so much better now. Oh, my God. I need to get cleaned up. Oh my God.”

“I’ve got tissues,” Derek says, and that’s so fucking bizarre to Stiles, right now. He brought a pack of tissues with him? In his wallet? To the club? Was he anticipating the two of them fucking at some point during this night? Either way, whatever the answer may be, it’s only seconds later that Stiles is being gently manhandled up and off of his hands, just to his knees, so his back is pressed up against Derek’s front.

Derek dabs at what little come got on his chest and stomach, and then moves on to scraping it off the couch. That is so fucking nasty, Stiles thinks to himself in his post-orgasm haze, nodding dumbly along to the song playing that he recognizes. He really hopes there’s someone who comes up here and sanitizes these couches – there’s no way he and Derek are the first two idiots to bone like rabbits up here.

Obscenely, he can feel some of Derek’s come spilling out of his backside and relishes in it. Absolutely thrives on the feeling, wiggling against Derek and sighing all content and happy and fucked-out.

“I needed that so bad. I was going to die without it.”

“My dick?” Derek clarifies – it sounds like he’s smiling.

“We should make a pact here and now that we won’t ever go that long without real sex ever again. The Virgin Mother just appeared to me during that orgasm, I swear to you.”

“Ironically enough,” Derek drawls, and Stiles could elbow him directly in the gut for that one. “And that’s not a hard promise to keep. I’d fuck you anywhere.”

Evidently, yes. He would.

They emerge some five minutes later, ruffled and clothed and grinning like idiots. When they return to the corner where they’d last left Kira and Scott, the two are thankfully still parked there talking just the way Derek and Stiles had left them.

Silently, with a bit of an awkward throat-clear on Stiles’ part, they sit back where they had been before and pick up what’s left of their drinks, sipping and leaning up against one another. This catches Scott’s eye, who turns and looks at him with a bit of a narrowed set to his face. “Where did you guys go?” He demands, and Stiles blushes and looks away, leaving the answering to Derek.

Derek shrugs. “Bathroom.”

Scott’s got this look in his eyes like he knows exactly what happened. After all, it’d take a real idiot to not figure it out – unless Derek was taking a twenty minute shit while Stiles stood there and watched, there would be no reason for both of them to be gone that long. Stiles grins and sucks at his drink innocently, shrugging his shoulders as if in agreement.

***

Scotty Boy, 1:45 PM : Okay. I have to hand it to him, he makes a good impression.
Stiles, 1:46 PM : I KNOW
Scotty Boy, 1:47 PM : I guess I can see why you like him so much, even beyond all the money or whatever. He’s, idk…stupid in love with you, my radar picked up on that. He must be pretttyyy smart to be into you like that, so I guess I don’t dislike him so much anymore.

Stiles bites on the tip of his thumb as he reads over the text, feeling all fuzzy on the inside. It’s stupid, really it is, but his best friend not hating his boyfriend is really all he wants or needs in life. He can’t have the two of them bickering and glaring at each other the way the Sheriff and Derek are likely to do for the rest of forever, even if anything is ever resolved between them, because he needs both of them in his life.

“Daddy, read this,” Stiles says, shoving his phone screen into Derek’s face. They’re parked on the living room couch with mimosas and take-out pancakes on the Saturday mid-morning following club night – Stiles hadn’t gotten half as drunk as he had planned to, too distracted by Derek honestly, so he feels generally okay and not too hungover. All the same, Derek chews on a big triangle covered in whipped cream and strawberry glaze, sipping at his mimosa as he zeroes in on the words in the text thread. He smiles a bit, moving his eyes to meet Stiles’. “I’m the snake charmer,” he says with all the arrogance in the world, and Stiles pulls his phone back and huffs.

“Scott is hardly a snake. He’s a mouse. I’m the snake.”

“The point is, I can make anyone like me. Especially people like him,” a pause, as he swallows a big sip of his drink. “No offense.”

“You always say that as if I don’t know Scott is simple in the head. I know it better than anyone else. What he lacks up here,” he points at this temple, “he makes up for right here,” and then at his heart.

Derek nods his head as if in agreement, because who could disagree? It’s funny that Scott and Stiles are such good friends from an outsider’s perspective – but really, they balance one another out in one of the most complementary ways. Scott is kinda stupid, yeah, but he’s really really nice and always thinking of other people before himself. Stiles is not stupid much at all, but he can be really selfish and thoughtless and sort of mean, on occasion. Opposites, but in a good way. They make each other better.

Stiles wonders if that’s happening with he and Derek – if they’re rubbing off on each other. If Derek is becoming less something, or if Stiles is becoming more something. Whatever those traits might be, Stiles doesn’t know.

He pushes what’s left of his breakfast around on his plate, sopping up blueberry syrup with a bite of pancake and puffing his lips out. He clears his throat, not looking up from the mess he’s making in his Styrofoam takeout box as he speaks. “So, uh…did you ever…try to talk to my dad?”

Derek slowly puts his fork down. He makes just as glacial work out of smoothing a paper napkin over his mouth, wiping away any strawberry residue and swallowing whatever it is he had in his mouth. He pauses even farther, taking his sweet time looking at Stiles directly. “I called,” he says, voice a little low. “That was a waste of time. So I went to his office –“

“Derek Hale waltzed right into the police station?” Stiles clarifies, stabbing his fork down into his pancake so it sticks upright without his help. That seems like a particularly stupid idea, even for someone as supposedly immortal and untouchable as the Derek Hale himself – for fuck’s sake. Derek must really be that stupid in love with Stiles to do something that – well. That stupid. “Jesus Christ.”

“I sure did,” he agrees, picking up his glass and taking a long, long sip of his drink as if to give him the courage he needs to finish. “Walked into your father’s office and said what I thought you’d like me to say. You should’ve seen the look on his face.”

Stiles can imagine it. He thinks it might be something like the look Stiles used to get when he’d do something like steal a cookie from the jar before dinner or shatter one of his mother’s fine china glasses because he was playing where he shouldn’t have been. “Well, what’d he say?”

The expression on Derek’s face in the wake of the question would suggest that Stiles maybe doesn’t want to know. Maybe he doesn’t want to know what his father said to him. Maybe he just needs to let it go.

Derek chooses his words very carefully. “I did my best,” is what he says, looking to meet Stiles’ eyes in a way that says he’s almost ashamed. And that’s not really fair, for Derek to feel like that, when it isn’t his fault.

Or, it is, in the literal sense. In the sense of he’s the reason why any of this is happening. But Stiles doesn’t blame him for that.

“Oh,” Stiles says, voice small. That’s all the answer that he ever needed, really. Derek did his best, and he failed, which must not be something he’s particularly used to. Stiles looks at his half finished breakfast and doesn’t feel very hungry anymore, biting his lip and shrugging like it’s no big deal, even though it is. “Okay, whatever.”

“Whatever,” Derek repeats, putting his hand on Stiles’ back and rubbing up and down in slow circles. “I know it’s important to you, and I wish that I could –“

“I know.” Stiles doesn’t want to hear it. “You’re not god. You can’t fix everything.”

Sometimes Derek does think he’s a god. It must drive him crazy when he’s confronted with things that he can’t control, somehow. “Yeah,” Derek agrees in a low voice, scratching at a good spot right in the middle of Stiles’ lower back with dull fingernails. “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to disappoint you. I wasn’t uh – trying to keep it from you.”

Stiles feels a brief pang in his gut when he remembers that there’s something way more important than any of this that he actually is keeping from Derek, but he squashes it down in favor of drinking more, nearly chugging the entire glass in one go. “It’s all right, daddy,” he turns his head and pecks him on the cheek, settling in deeper in his spot on the couch. “Let’s just forget about it.”

They go back to eating, Derek’s hand remaining locked on Stiles’ back as a form of warm comfort, and Stiles tries not to think about it. There is a place in his head where he has learned to put all the things that he doesn’t want to think about, and he’s trained himself to focus only on the other place, more at the forefront of his mind, where he keeps the positive things. Where he keeps the sex, and the money, and the way Derek looks at him. Those are safe topics. Nothing hurts, there.

Maybe his father won’t even speak to him again. Stiles drinks more.

To distract himself, he fingers along some of the various randoms that Derek has scattered across his coffee table – knick knacks, and whatnot. There’s some catalogs that Derek gets in the mail that he never even glances at, a couple of scented candles courtesy of Stiles, old movie tickets, hand lotion, a condom or two (not that he or Derek have used very many recently), and a stack of neatly piled mail. His save pile, that he’ll file away instead of letting Heidi chuck it into the trash.

He picks it up and thumbs through it, which Derek doesn’t seem to mind. Through and through he goes, nothing catching his eye, until he lands on a particularly pretty envelope. It’s black, with Derek’s name and address written in fancy golden script. From Mr. and Mrs. McMorris, it says, and Stiles furrows his brow. McMorris doesn’t ring any bells.

He pulls the card out from the envelope and raises his eyebrows – very tasteful decoration. The card opens up, and Stiles reads, leaning his neck over the contents.

Ah. It’s an invitation to Ginger McMorris’ birthday party. She’s turning twenty-two. Stiles hadn’t thought she was that young, but now that he thinks about it, it makes sense – and of course, a girl has to have a twenty-second birthday party that’s hopefully as fun and tasteful as her card.

“I cannot believe she invited you to this,” Stiles says, waving the card around in the air. Derek shrugs, a smirk pulling up at the corners of his lips. “I’m imagining you there in my head. It’s you, and then it’s all of Ginger’s fresh out of college girlfriends with cosmos and gummy worms applying lipstick and nailpolish.”

“She invited me because she’s very polite,” Derek says, picking the card up and then examining it himself as if he didn’t already look at it when it first arrived in the mail. He shrugs, putting it back down. “And because I paid for it.”

Stiles stops. He puts his wine glass down, turns to give Derek his full attention, and gapes. “You paid for Ginger’s birthday party.”

Another shrug on Derek’s part. “I’ve paid for her last three parties. I heard her twentieth was a real rager. There was a water slide.”

More gaping, endless supplies of it, and Stiles shakes his head. “Why would you – I mean…I get she’s a good secretary, but…”

“She’s a very good secretary, and she’s a very nice girl,” he leans back, rubbing at his jaw for a moment. “…and she keeps her mouth shut.”

It dawns on Stiles right then, exactly at this moment, what it’s all about. He throws his head back, rubs his hands over his eyes, and has to resist bursting out into hysterical laughter. It’s just so absurd, it’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard of in his life, because… “you bribe Ginger into not selling you out to the cops by paying for her birthday party every year?”

“Scott isn’t the only malleable simpleton I can work my charms on,” he winks, and Stiles finally does laugh. He laughs and he laughs and he laughs, because Ginger really is that stupid, God bless her sweet sweet heart, and Derek really is that manipulative and crazy and the entire thing is just so…so…incredible.

“We have to go.”

“God, no. I never go.” He makes a face, like he’d rather eat his own toes off than attend that shenanigan.

“Come on!” Stiles pleads, shaking his arm a bit. “Don’t you want to see what extravagances your money has paid for?”

“I got a charge on my card from an ice sculpting business,” he mutters, eyes going far away as he likely imagines what sort of atrocities Ginger could have a man sculpt for her out of ice.

“Oh, my God. We are going.”

Derek looks sad, staring down at the invitation with a grimace. “We’ll have to find her a present.”

“Uh – you already gave her one?” Stiles half-laughs, gesturing a bit like it’s so obvious. “Her entire party was paid for you by you.”

“I’m not showing up empty-handed to a birthday party like some kind of charlatan.” A charlatan. Stiles bursts out laughing again and nearly busts his gut doing so, shaking with it entirely.

“Okay, okay, okay. I will shop for her present. Give me the card, pleeassee,” he gestures with two fingers expectantly, and Derek gives him a firm look. After two more seconds of Stiles’ best innocent face and Derek’s reluctance, he pulls his wallet out of his pocket and pilfers that familiar American Express out in plain sight, holding it for Stiles to take.

“Don’t buy her any jewelry. She has enough, and it’s tacky for a man to buy a married woman things like that.”

She has enough,” Stiles mimics, air-quoting into the sky. “Women everywhere would beg to differ, but sure. Fine lingerie it is.”

Stiles,” Derek warns, intense and serious.

“Okay, okay! I’m kidding!” He holds his hands up as if in surrender, laughing a bit. “I’ll buy her a cashmere blanket or something. Bunny slippers, I don’t fucking know.”

“Oh, Christ. I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this,” he pinches the bridge of his nose, shaking his head sadly side to side. “We are going to stick out like sore thumbs.”

***

Me, 4:56 PM : Okay. In the park?”
Daddy, 4:58 PM : What?
Me, 4:59 PM : You said you’d fuck me anywhere. So, now. A quiz : the park?
Daddy, 5:01 PM : Ha. All right. Yes, the park.
Me, 5:02 PM : The bowling alley?
Daddy, 5:02 PM : Yes.
Me, 5:04 PM : My kid bedroom?
Daddy, 5:05 PM : Yes. Even if your father were home.
Me, 5:06 PM : GROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m into it
Me, 5:07 PM : Backseat??????
Daddy, 5:08 PM : Not on the nice leather, Stiles, be reasonable.
Me, 5:09 PM : How about………..
Me, 5:10 PM : …on top of a PILE OF MONEY LIKE YOU PROMISED ME MONTHS AGO AND HAVE YET TO DELIVER ON
Daddy, 5:12 PM : Aw. I did promise. I don’t make a habit out of breaking promises.

***

Derek had been spot on. They do stick out like sore thumbs at Ginger’s 22nd birthday party. From the second the valet takes Derek’s car, as they step out onto the pink carpet (not a typo – the thing is as pink as bubble gum) and stare up at the historic venue Ginger had chosen, they are out of place. They walk the carpet and Stiles adjusts the lapels of his jacket, while Derek clutches the small purple-wrapped gift Stiles had chosen for her at the mall.

He got her a set of complementary nail polishes that cost four hundred dollars. It was the only thing he could think of – they’re pastel, at least, which seems to be of her tastes. He had signed the card from himself and Derek, because technically, it really was a joint effort. Derek paid, Stiles chose. That’s likely a very good snapshot of the rest of their relationship together, just that single phrase; Derek paying, Stiles choosing, at every single function and birthday party until the end of time.

“I feel like I’m walking up to the gates of hell as designed by Martha Stewart,” Derek snaps, and the double doors are opened up for them by a pair of good looking guys dressed in white suits with pink bow ties. This is fucking ridiculous. When they walk in and are immediately greeted by the sight of the single hugest set of chrome pink balloons Stiles has ever seen in his life spelling out 22 alongside enough streamers to fill twenty garbage bags, Derek frowns deeper. “This doesn’t bode well.”

“This is going to be fun,” Stiles counters, pressing into Derek’s side as they walk closer and closer to the main entrance of the party, where a small table is set up with sequins splattered haphazardly across fine white linens. There’s a girl there, smacking bubble gum and balancing a pen between two fingers. She’s got a list in front of her, the guest list most likely, and as soon as Derek and Stiles approach, she sits up a bit straighter.

“Names?” She asks, cheery.

“It’s Derek Hale,” Derek chuffs, and she pops her gum and drags the tip of her pen down and down the list, searching for Derek’s name.

“And his plus one,” Stiles chimes in as he leans down, smiling guilelessly at her. “Maybe look under Derek Hale’s butler.”

“That gets funnier and funnier every time,” Derek says this in a voice that suggests it, in fact, only gets less and less funny every time.

“Here you are,” she says, ignoring their antics entirely. “Great! Have fun! Present pile is to your left right when you walk in! Be sure to grab a gift bag on your way out!”

Yes,” Stiles stomps his foot in excitement right before Derek starts tugging him along toward the ominously pinked-out doors to the party. “I love gift bags. Luck be a gift certificate to a spa and a scented candle.”

Derek gives him a look, pausing with his hand on the golden knob that’ll take them inside to their final destination. It’s this look that says that the only reason he ever agreed to this is that Stiles asked him, and he’s wondering just how many stupid things he’ll wind up doing in the future on that basis as well, and the moment someone tries to blow glitter at him will be the final straw. Stiles just smiles back at him, gesturing for him to proceed with the turning of the knob, and Derek looks up at the ceiling.

Then, he opens the door.

“Oh, God.” It’s the first words out of Stiles’ mouth as the door swings shut behind them. They stand there together, shoulder to shoulder, and Stiles puts his hand over his lips in shock. “It’s like Princess Peach vomited in here.”

It’s just…so….pink. Stiles has been in very pink places before – he’s been in Victoria’s Secret, he’s been to a little girl’s birthday party, he’s been to women’s clothing stores and perfume aisles and even baby stores. None of them, not even all of them combined Stiles is pretty sure, have been as pink as this room is right now.

The tables. The walls. The decorations, the flowers, the gifts, the chandeliers, the gift bags, the servers, the heating trays at the buffet, and even the floor. She’s got this sparkly pink substance laid out across what Stiles is sure is a normal hardwood under their feet, and it’s almost blinding to look directly at it.

“I regret this,” Derek says, and Stiles almost does too. There are a lot of people here, most of which Stiles has never seen in his god-given life, nevermind the fact that he’s lived in this city his entire life. They’re all strangers, but they all look…similar to each other. Like they all just got out of the Greek system in college, in that polo-shirt wearing, sleek shiny hair, all solid-colors type of a way. And everyone seems to have gotten the pink memo except for Derek and Stiles, who must look like black sheep in this crowd. Derek literally. He’s in all black, head to toe.

They step forward, albeit cautiously as if they’re about to approach an enemy of some kind when in reality it’s all just pink cotton candy, and Stiles twists his mouth. “There’s a fuck of a lot of white people in this room.”

“Only a white person could enjoy themselves in this place,” he looks around, disgusted, as if they aren’t both white as ghosts themselves. “I need a drink.”

As if on cue, an entirely too happy server who is likely being paid minimum wage and not a cent more is in their face. She all but lunges at them with a serving tray in her hand, cawing HI!! at them so loud Stiles jumps and yells.

She holds the tray out, pig tails tied with pink ribbons. “Ginger snap?”

They both blink at her. “Excuse me?” Stiles says, leaning in close as if he just hadn’t heard her right.

“Ginger snap? You want one?” She holds the tray out again, and Stiles actually looks at it. Atop it are five pristinely crafted cocktails in pink martini glasses, each adorned with brown sugar around the rim. The liquid inside is dark, that much Stiles can tell, which immediately has him suspicious.

But, he gets it. “A ginger snap,” he nudges Derek in the side. “She has a drink named after her. A ginger snap. That’s…cute.”

Again, she pushes the tray closer to them and grins. Stiles isn’t envious of her, not at all. He’s done events like this as a poor kid trying to make ends meet, lost in a sea of rich-fucks who barely gave him the time of day and treated him like a second class citizen.

“Of course. We have to have one,” he smiles back at her and reaches out to take two, even as Derek opens his mouth to start protesting, and hands one off to Derek over the sound of his complaints. Closer up, it looks even more horrible, but Stiles just sort of smiles awkwardly and holds it in his fingers, hesitant to even sniff it.

“I can take that over to the present pile if you’d like,” she points with her free hand at the purple gift still in Derek’s hands, and then gestures off to the side where there is, indeed, a present pile. Again, completely pink.

“Yes, thank you,” Derek hastily agrees, plopping the small gift on her tray, careful not to jostle it too much lest the ginger snaps spill all over Stiles’ perfect wrap-work.

At the same time, Stiles and Derek look each other in the eyes, and shrug. Slowly, they both raise the glass to their lips and sip.

Immediately, Stiles’ mouth rejects the substance. If he thought he could get away with spitting it out onto the floor, he honest to god would – as it is, he has no choice but to swallow while making the most disgusted sound humanly possible, scrunching his face up and nearly not making it through even just that. It’s like someone put out a cigarette in a half-finished vodka martini, dumped some sugar on for good measure, and then accidentally dropped it into a teaspoon of cinnamon with something that tastes suspiciously like tequila.

“No,” Derek says, placing the martini glass back on the girl’s tray. “Absolutely not. You’d be wise to dump those all down a drain somewhere.”

Like she knows and has known all night that the ginger snaps are god-awful, the server smiles at them all benign and shrugs. “It’s not everyone’s taste.”

With that, she’s gone. Stiles still has his drink stuck in his hand, and he doesn’t know what to do because the server is gone, so he just stands there with the terrible drink, face still frozen stuck in disgust. “I’ve tasted the wine from the devil’s table,” he says, holding the glass as far away from the rest of his body as he can manage.

“This is a nightmare.”

“Oh, my God.” Stiles cuts him off, pointing his glass off in the opposite direction from where they’re standing. “I see the ice sculpture. Oh, my God. Oh, my God, Derek look at it.”

Derek does. He turns, and his face goes a bit open with shock for a moment before it finally settles down into outright dismay. He palms his forehead. “Oh, no…”

It’s a sculpture of Ginger, herself. Although the features of the ice person are as vague as could be expected from a structure made of that particular medium, it’s clearly her, down to the details. The most humiliating bit of it all is that she’s got these tiny little swans sculpted down by her feet, the entire thing set up in the center of the room like the main event. This is surreal. She probably thinks this is the best thing that’s ever been at anyone’s party. Stiles is almost struck speechless.

Almost. “She is the most ridiculous person I know,” he decides, and Derek only nods. What must he be thinking, deep down, knowing that his money went to all these atrocities? Stiles can only imagine. “Well…it’s open bar, so…”

“Yes,” he agrees instantly, taking Stiles’ hand. “Yes, let’s go do that immediately.”

They wade through the seemingly endless miles of pink spread out around them after Stiles deposits his drink on an empty table, moving past clouds of Juicy Couture perfume and spilled puddles of ginger snap and the occasional tiny yapping dog in someone’s purse, before finally spilling out at the bar. An incredibly and unbelievably attractive man is standing behind it with a pink tie on over a white shirt, and Stiles leans over the counter top to talk to him.

“Hi,” he says. “I’ll have a vodka-sprite.”

“Whiskey neat,” Derek orders, eyes catching the sight of an ex-sorority girl in a bright sequin dress stalking past them with a ginger snap in her hand.

“Have you had anything besides whiskey to drink in the last ten years?” Stiles raises an eyebrow as he asks this, smiling a bit.

“That sip of ginger snap is likely the last time I’ll be able to physically bring myself to consume anything but,” he mutters darkly, and Stiles leans into him all fond and gentle. A lot of people tend to find Derek’s melancholy and general distaste for most things and people untoward or unlikeable. Stiles, on the other hand, finds it funny and is endeared by it, now. He’s so sour and salty about everything, but sweet as cotton candy when it comes to Stiles.

There’s something to be said about being liked by someone who hates everyone. It’s a special feeling.

The drinks come, and while Stiles makes it a point to shove a fiver into the tip jar, Derek finishes his in a single sip. He pushes the empty glass across the bar back to the tender’s side, and says, “another, please.”

“Yes,” Stiles agrees after taking his own long sip. “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s get drunk and weird at Ginger’s birthday party.”

Weird, I don’t know about,” Derek responds, picking up his second drink and downing that in one go as well while Stiles watches, amazed. “Drunk? Absolutely.”

“You, sir,” he points at the bartender, who blinks in that fuck-off bartender way they all do, “are our new best friend. Unless you’re the individual who concocted the ginger snap. In which case, we politely rescind our friendship.”

He looks at Stiles for a moment, up and down, as if he’s making the decision right then and there that he’s talking to a homo. He looks at Derek, adds up that they’re dating each other, and then settles back on Stiles again. “Ginger made it up herself,” he explains, no shortage of haughtiness in his tone.

“Of course she did,” Derek rolls his eyes, and pats his empty glass. Taking the cue, the bartender sighs and pours him another.

“I’m supposed to cut you off once it becomes binge drinking,” he says in a warning tone of voice, and Derek reaches down into his pocket without even thinking about it. A crisp hundred dollar bill is slid over the bar, and the bartender’s eyes widen and he takes it immediately.

“Right,” he says, clearing his throat. “Nevermind that.”

Stiles is used to this kind of thing by now – getting whatever he or Derek or both of them want just because Derek is willing to pay to get his way – so he more or less just accepts it and finishes his own drink, patting the bar top and asking for another.

It was shaping up to be quite the night. Stiles and Derek have been drunk before, but never exactly together. Stiles has come home to find Derek all weird-drunk by himself, and Derek has hauled Stiles’ wasted-ass into the limo or the towncar or the backseat of his Mercedes Benz a half dozen times by now, but they’ve never gotten fun-drunk together at the same time, save a handful of exceptions. Stiles was actually looking forward to being super inappropriately drunk at Ginger’s birthday party with Derek in tow. Derek is probably a lot more fun publically drunk than at-home drunk.

Sadly, Stiles never gets to find out. As he’s taking the first sip of only his second drink of the night, his eyes scan out across the party absentmindedly and land on probably the worst thing he could possibly think of. Or, more accurately, the worst person he could possibly think of.

He nearly chokes but manages to swallow at the last second before drawing attention to himself, curling away and closer into Derek’s chest unconsciously. There, across the party and standing by the buffet table with a hand in his pocket, is Theo Raeken. The reason he’s so instantly caught by Stiles’ eye is because, just like he and Derek, Theo also didn’t get the pink memo. Or, maybe he did, but didn’t want to put pink on. Which would make sense.

Point being, he’s wearing a blue suit against a pink sky. He may as well be in neon.

“Derek,” Stiles starts, trying to keep his tone even. Derek is sipping away carelessly, turning his eyes onto Stiles as soon as he’s addressed. “What is he doing here?”

Derek looks. Theo is caught instantly, and he cocks his head to the side. He has a weird reaction – he sort of laughs, almost like he can’t believe it, and then waves his hand in the air. “It makes sense if you knew Ginger.”

“I don’t,” he presses, and he hopes his tone isn’t giving anything away. “Tell me why he would be here.”

“There was a time before Ginger was married,” considering she’s only twenty-two, this makes sense, “and she had a bit of a thing for Raeken. Luckily for her and likely all of us, I steered her clear of that one, but apparently there’s something lingering. It’s funny she invited him. Her husband’s here, for Christ’s sake.”

Stiles doesn’t care about any of that. He hasn’t even seen Ginger all night, and now, he really doesn’t care. He curls his hand into Derek’s jacket a bit and grits his teeth, because one of the last people Stiles wants to see is him. “If he’s here, I don’t want to be here.”

“You dragged me here and now you want to leave just because Theo Raeken is here?” Derek sounds incredulous, and of course he would be. Of course he would be. He doesn’t know the entire truth, because Stiles lied about it. Or, he omitted some information. Whichever way you want to look at it. “Look, I know he rubbed you the wrong way, but he’s just a pissbaby. It’s nothing to get worked up over.”

Stiles is evidently getting worked up over it anyway. He puts his drink down and starts pulling on Derek’s arm, even while Derek stays firmly planted in his place. “I wanna go.”

“Are you serious?”

Stiles looks over his shoulder at where Theo had been, and is almost relieved to find him gone. Almost. The moment is short lived, because as his eyes trail and trail over the rest of the party, he sees that the reason Theo isn’t where he was before is because he’s coming towards them, instead.

Stiles and Derek stick out just as much as Theo does at this party. Of course he spotted them, of course, and Stiles is desperately pulling on Derek’s arm to get him to go with him now, but it’s no use – the distance has been bridged, and Theo is stepping out of the crowd and headed right for them. Stiles is stuck. He tightens his grip on Derek’s arm and thinks about saying something – admitting the truth, or coming up with a good lie, or just flat out walking away so Derek has no choice but to follow him.

But, damage done. Stiles has taken too long panicking or trying to decide, and Theo is in their personal space.

“Derek,” he greets, and his eyes slide like a snake’s onto Stiles. Stiles feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, just as unnerved by him as he was the day they were in each other’s presence all those months ago. “And his toy.”

“Can we save the callous remarks for a more appropriate setting?” Derek rolls his eyes, putting his hand on Stiles’ back as if in apology for the fact that Theo would even say something like that.

“All right,” Theo shrugs and moves his eyes off of Stiles, finally. “I just wondered if you’d given any thought to my offer. I hadn’t heard from you.”

Stiles tries to press himself out of this situation, as deep into Derek’s side as he can get, but it’s no use. Derek’s eyebrows pull together and he cocks his head to the side. “Your offer? You mean the one I turned down months ago?”

There’s this second where Theo looks vulnerably confused. He looks at Stiles and then at Derek, frowning and shaking his head. “No, the one that I…” realization dawns. Stiles’ feels his cheeks go hot and he looks up at Derek’s face, trying to read it, mouth opening and closing as if he could think of something to say. A smug, terrible, awful smile makes its way across Theo’s lips as slow as honey, and he looks at Stiles. Right in the eyes.

Stiles feels small, under his gaze. It would likely do nothing but give Theo great pleasure if he knew that.

“You didn’t mention it,” he says, and Stiles is done.

There are few reasons on planet earth for Theo and Stiles to have a conversation that Derek didn’t know about. Even beyond that, there are few reasons on planet earth for Stiles to withhold information like that from Derek. Case and point, as soon as the suggestion that something has happened between Theo and Stiles is out there, Derek is on high alert. His body goes still and stiff, his face goes impassively blank like he’s so good at doing when he’s angry or upset or anything, and his arm sort of tightens around Stiles’ shoulders.

“I…” Stiles starts, and then he has to clear his throat.

“You didn’t tell him. I asked you nicely.”

“Tell me what.” Derek’s voice is toneless. Frightening, almost.

Theo doesn’t take his eyes off of Stiles, not for one millisecond. They stay locked and loaded right there, and Stiles is helpless to even break the eye contact. He’s afraid to even look at Derek right now, and there’s nowhere else to look, and he’s stuck, here. “I just gave your pet a call and asked him if he could convince you to reconsider our agreement,” his lips twitch, as if in amusement. “I see he doesn’t know what’s very good for him. I was starting to think I’d have to take the next step.”

The next step. Stiles doesn’t want to know what that means, but he knows it has something to do with him, and he…can admit that he’s afraid, of what Theo is capable of.

“Are you threatening me? Here? Now?” Derek is still oddly withdrawn and quiet, and Stiles doesn’t know who that is, this person that he’s standing right next to, so he stays silent and finally looks down at his feet, at something, anything, other than Theo.

“No, no, no,” Theo insists, and laughs, as if the idea itself is funny. “I’d never threaten you. I’m just asking you to reconsider. I thought Stiles might be able to convince you to change your mind,” he looks at Stiles, again, but Stiles won’t look at him. “It’s in his best interest to do so.”

Derek takes a step forward, and Stiles just lets him go. There’s not much he can do, and as he looks at the pink floor and the pink walls and the sea of people laughing and talking, he wonders how it is that he got here. Backed into a corner with two people who have done things Stiles can’t hardly think of, vaguely terrified. How did this happen?

“You’re lucky I don’t rip your tongue out right now for talking about him like that,” the tone is light and almost conversational. It’s…not Derek. At all.

“Careful, Derek,” Theo smiles. White teeth. Straight. “You’ve made yourself weak. You can’t even control him – he’s an adorable liability, I’ll give you that.”

With his chin in the air like he’s just won the gauntlet, Theo grins and cocks his head to the side, stuffing his hands down into his pocket. You’d think he were just any other kid, anyone else anywhere, but he’s something else, and he’s someone else, and he’s sinister in a way that’s so casual it’s bone chilling.

Derek is still.

“Reconsider.”

That’s all he says, and then he’s gone. Vanishing into the crowd, leaving Stiles and Derek standing there in the wake of him. Stiles stares at Derek’s back, seconds on end pass, and Derek doesn’t move. It’s a lot like when the Sheriff had lunged at him across the table and tried to choke him out, and afterwards Derek just stood up and hovered there, like a statue.

Because he thinks if he moves, he won’t be able to stop himself from doing something crazy. Stiles stands there and can feel the bartender’s eyes on the back of his neck, swallows thick and heavy, and thinks he should say something.

When Derek slowly turns his head and look Stiles directly in the eyes, he tries. He opens his mouth, then closes it, again and again, and nothing comes out. What’s he supposed to say?

It’s not a surprise when Derek grabs him, though not roughly, by his upper arm and starts leading him away. Stiles just goes with it, his legs like Jell-O or like a puppet or like he’s not even really in his own body at all, and they wind up in the bathroom right near the bar.

Derek slams the door behind them, turning on Stiles quick and fast. Stiles isn’t afraid of him, never, but he is afraid of coming clean and being honest and realizing that maybe he did something wrong, or stupid, so he backs away until he’s up against the wall. Derek corners him there, points his finger in his face, and his eyes are dark. He’s had too much to drink, already.

“You tell me what he said,” he says, and his voice is even. Too even. “You fucking tell me what he said now, Stiles, now.”

“I –“ Stiles shakes his head. “I – it’s just – it’s what he said he said, I don’t know!”

“Do you think this is a game?”

“No, I –“

“Do you think any of this is a joke? Huh? Is that what you think?” He boxes Stiles in, one hand on either side of Stiles’ head, and Stiles breathes. He just breathes, in and out, and Derek is right there, right there, but it’s…that other part of him.

When Derek talks about how horrible he is, how much of a disgusting piece of shit he is, how he’s unforgivable, how he doesn’t deserve anything, how he’s scum – and Stiles says that that’s a Derek he doesn’t know.

This is him. This is that Derek. Bloodshot eyes and whiskey breath and maybe, just maybe, at the very core of him, fear. The thing that keeps him operating. That drives him forward. Fear. Mental illness. Sadness. The one thing he has in the world, being taken away from him.

“I shouldn’t have to tell you that Theo Raeken could have you killed as easily as snapping his fingers, I shouldn’t have to say that to you! Are you crazy? Are you crazy, do you know what I’d do if something happened to you again? Do you have any idea what I’d do?”

“You’re scaring me,” Stiles bursts out, and his voice quivers. “Stop, just – I don’t know! He called me, at work, on my work phone. Okay? He said he just…he said he just wanted to ask me to ask you to…” he closes his eyes and breathes out through his nose. In and out, in and out. It’s okay. This is his life. “…I just knew he only did it to make a point out of how easy it is to get to me.”

“Yes,” Derek snaps, like it’s obvious. It is. “Yes, of course that’s why he did that. He’s not asking me to reconsider anything,” he’s still so close, and he’s still so angry and afraid, and Stiles wishes he were someone else. Still Derek, still his, but in another life. This isn’t fair, not anymore, and maybe it never was, but here they are. “He’s letting me know,” and his voice drops low, dangerous, “that if I don’t pay him the money he would’ve gotten, he’s going to kill you. Do I need to make it that black and white for you to realize that not telling me things like that is never an option?”

“You’d never let him get close enough to touch me –“

Before Stiles can even finish, Derek is yelling at him. It’s so loud, Stiles flinches and nearly cowers, but stands his ground. “I’m not god.” It bounces off the walls. Stiles is small. “If he wants to kill you, he has a million opportunities every day, every day! You think he’s the type of man who bluffs?”

“You’re scaring me!” Since it fell on deaf ears last time, Stiles repeats it, louder, more intense. They’re screaming at each other in a pink bathroom at Ginger’s 22nd birthday party, and it feels almost normal. Someone wants Stiles dead, and this feels normal.

How did he get here?

Derek backs up. He takes three entire steps back and Stiles feels less claustrophobic, and he takes a deep breath in. Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. He looks so angry. He looks so angry, so angry, so angry, and Stiles knows that it’s not all directed at him. In fact, very little of it is. “You not telling me things like that is unacceptable. You not telling me that is fucking unbelievable.”

“Just because we’re in this kind of relationship –“

“It’s not about that!”

“That doesn’t mean you get to just – treat me like that! Like I’m – like I just do what you say, and nothing else! You don’t actually own me.”

“How can you twist this into that?” Derek shouts, and Stiles shakes his head and curls his arms over his chest. “Are you listening to me at all?”

“Am I listening to you fucking screaming at me and talking down to me? Yes!” His voice cracks and he wants to sink into the floor. “I’m equal to you, don’t treat me like I’m not, not here! Not like this! I can tell or not tell you anything I want, and you can’t do anything about it! What are you going to do, punish me?”

“Oh, my God!” Derek throws his hands into the air, and Stiles understands the frustration. In the rational and logical thinking part of his brain, he really, really does understand Derek’s entire point. But Stiles is six different negative emotions ranging from terrified to righteously angry, and he’s a man, so he never quite learned how to properly emote or express any of them, and neither did Derek, so they’re both just…capsizing in on themselves. Stiles isn’t making any sense. He doesn’t mean to say what he’s saying, but maybe he does, but maybe it makes sense, but maybe Derek is right and wrong at the same time. “We’re leaving.”

“I don’t wanna go,” Stiles juts his chin into the air and digs his heels in. “I don’t want to leave, not with you, fuck off.”

Stiles.” It is not said with anger. It is not said the way that Derek had been speaking to him only moments earlier. It is begging. Desperate, and soft, and small, in ways that Stiles wasn’t aware that Derek could be.

But of course Derek can be vulnerable. He is, most of the time, and he was just now when he was yelling at Stiles.

“Please leave with me,” he goes on, and Stiles doesn’t look at him.

They are so fucked up. This entire thing is so fucked up. Stiles can say that, now. It’s becoming more and more impossible to not admit it – what they have is not easy. What they do to each other is not normal. The way they feel about one another is exacerbated time and time again by the circumstances that surround them and make them cling to one another so tightly.

“Fine,” Stiles snaps, but its venom is somewhat cut by the crack in his voice. He could cry, but he won’t. He just waltzes forward toward the door and steps out, where the party is loud and Stiles is left wondering if anyone just heard that. From the way no one gives him sideways glances as he stalks past them all, Stiles would guess not. That’s lucky. It would’ve been hard to explain the context of it to anyone who might’ve been listening in.

Derek is behind him the entire way, even when they’re out at the valet. They stand there, three feet apart and not facing one another. Stiles stares out across the sunset. The days are getting longer. There is so much more time to spend together. Derek looks at the side of his face and Stiles looks back at him and they stare at one another, and the car pulls up.

They drive home in silence. Derek maybe shouldn’t have driven, after all that alcohol, but Stiles said nothing.

They go home to their shared apartment that only Derek’s money pays for with the money that comes from the reason Stiles’ father won’t speak to him anymore, and Stiles sits on the couch. He feels silly in his outfit and Derek sits down next to him, with his hands clasped in between his legs.

Everything had felt like the end of the world just half an hour ago in that pink bathroom. Everything had been loud and chaotic and scary and Stiles’ hands were shaking. Everything was terrible.

Here, it is quiet and Stiles can think clearly. Evidently, so can Derek.

He speaks first. “I shouldn’t have talked to you like that,” he is resolute in this. “I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that, I am sorry, baby. You were right about that. It’s not okay for me to yell at you like that, no matter…no matter what.”

Stiles purses his lips. “You can yell sometimes, it’s normal,” he corrects, and his voice is all raspy. “But you – I – sometimes I get so scared of winding up in another relationship like the one I was in before, like the one where…” he trails off, and in his head he had to forcibly suppress any and all memories the thought itself brings back up, “…you’re not like him and you could never be. I know you know you don’t own me. I know that. We just say it sometimes.”

“We just say it sometimes,” Derek agrees, voice sounding faraway. It’s hard to draw the lines, in these types of relationships. They get so blurry.

“I didn’t tell you that because I was afraid of what you’d do if you knew,” Stiles bursts out, unable to hold it in anymore. Derek turns to look him right in the face, lips parted, like he’s surprised. “I didn’t tell you because I was scared you’d do something stupid and get in trouble, and I don’t want you to go away, I need you too much and it scares me. I didn’t tell you because I was afraid you’d kill him and my dad would catch you and you’d go to prison. I thought – I thought I was protecting you.” His lower lip trembles, and it sounds so stupid coming out. It is so stupid. This whole thing is his fault, how could he be so stupid?

Instead of laughing in his face, like Stiles rightfully deserves, Derek reaches out and takes Stiles’ chin in between two of his fingers. It is so gentle and so soft and so unlike the Derek in the bathroom and so much like the Derek that Stiles knows, and Stiles leans into it and breathes. “Sweetheart,” he starts, and Stiles’ eyes fill with tears. “I do something every single day that could send me to prison. You know that, right?”

“I…” Stiles shakes his head. No, he suppresses that. No, he doesn’t know that. No, he doesn’t acknowledge that.

“It wouldn’t have been any different.” He sets his jaw. “I’m sorry. That’s not what you wanted to hear, but I can’t lie to you.”

No, it’s not what Stiles wanted to hear. But what he wanted to hear is a fantasy something akin to a fairytale, and that’s funny, because it’s what other people consider to be normal. What Stiles wouldn’t give to have Derek be that guy that has a normal job and makes ends meet and has beers on the back porch with his father. What he wouldn’t give. What he wouldn’t do.

Stiles doesn’t want to talk about this anymore, so he doesn’t want to talk at all. What he knows that he wants to say is please stop. For me, please don’t do it anymore. Please go away with me, somewhere far where they can’t find you, and let’s be together and let me help you with what you need help with, please admit to me that you need help, please stop for me, please stop for me, please stop for me.

The words he’s been burying. They can’t come out now.

He doesn’t want to say it because he’s terrified Derek loves the money more than he could ever love Stiles. This is the fear that keeps him awake at night. It scares him more than even Theo does.

Stiles leans in and kisses Derek on the mouth instead of speaking. They kiss, and Stiles chokes back everything, and they keep kissing. Until Stiles pulls back and shakes his head, holding Derek’s face in his hands. “I’m asking you not to go after him,” he says, very seriously, and Derek looks at him like he’s crazy again. “I mean it. Don’t do anything, I’m asking you. I’m asking you, okay? Me.”

Derek grits his teeth. “You’re asking me to make a stupid decision.”

“I’m asking you a favor,” Stiles corrects. “Just this once, let it go. There’s too much at stake for him to really try something, you’d kill him in a heartbeat for touching me, he knows that. Derek,” Stiles rubs at Derek’s stubble, caresses the creases in his forehead, strokes his hair. “Don’t make me worry about you more than I already do.”

Through a sigh, Derek swallows. This must be hard for him, because every single cell in his body must be begging him to take action and kill Theo or do whatever the hell he thinks he has to in order to keep Stiles safe or maybe even just to protect his reputation.

But, he nods. “Okay,” he agrees, voice soft. “Okay, baby, fine. Just this once.”

Stiles is relieved. He’s a lot of things, but relieved is taking the cake in this particular moment. He kisses Derek again, and again, and again, and this entire night has been insane and they’re insane and it’s beginning to feel more and more like neither of them truly have control over what’s going on with them.

They just keep going.

Derek is on top of him and Stiles’ belt is coming undone and he feels so weightless. Derek is all over him and Stiles can only pant underneath him and open his legs wider so Derek can get even closer. “Go slow,” he says, while Derek kisses his neck and sucks marks into his skin. “Go slow, be gentle.”

“I can be gentle,” Derek murmurs, and he can be. Stiles has seen it. Just for him.

“I just don’t wanna lose you,” Stiles says to him, lacing their fingers together while Derek kisses along his bare chest.

“I just don’t wanna lose you,” Derek repeats back to him.

But there is so much, so much, that could take them away from each other. There is so much to lose.

Chapter Text

“No, I don’t wanna do it anymore. I’m done. I’m out. Safeword. Safeword,” Stiles pants, clutching at his side as if he’s in immense pain.

Derek huffs. “You’ve been running for a minute and a half.”

Stiles doubles over and lets the treadmill slowly whirr him off the edge until he’s standing on solid ground again, stumbles a bit, and then collapses face first onto the floor with a heaving breath. Derek, for his part, being the Amazonian man that he is, keeps going without even breaking a sweat. He just runs and runs, his footfalls even and rhythmic and paced exactly the same apart each time, while Stiles lies on the floor like a fish out of water. “Don’t make me do it again, daddy.”

“I literally never made you,” Derek shakes his head, smiling a bit. “I suggested. You said, oh, yeah, sure, great, I’d love to get in shape, yeah. Now look at you.”

Stiles sits himself upright, and then immediately leans back to lie on the floor again, staring up at the ceiling of Derek’s private gym. Before today, he literally only ever set foot in here once to tell Derek his phone was ringing and wouldn’t stop so it seemed important. It’s okay in here – but there are no windows. Derek doesn’t listen to music when he runs, either. So he just comes in here and runs, in silence, staring at a white wall.

No wonder he’s kind of looney.

“That was the hardest two minutes of my life.”

“Minute and a half,” Derek corrects. “I don’t see how you can be so bad at running. I thought you said you did sports in high school.”

“I told you I benched. Yeah, they forced me to run suicides every now and then but that was under penalty of death,” he scratches at the back of his sweaty neck. “Give me an imperative and I’ll run. Otherwise, pass the chips.”

Derek observes him a bit critically from above. It’s absurd to Stiles that he can make anything other than a pained expression while running like that, but there he is, acting as normal as if he were standing still. “I worry about how skinny you are.”

“Here we go,” Stiles throws his arms in the air in frustration – they’ve been here before. Multiple times. “Just say you hate my ugly skeleton body and get on with it.”

“I evidently don’t think that,” he seems annoyed, now, which is fair – Stiles just accused him of something terrible, veiled as a joke as it may have been.

“I’m a twink. It’s okay to be awkwardly thin, you know. It’s my brand. So long as I don’t lose my ass, what do you care?”

Derek huffs a laugh and keeps running, while Stiles stays planted on the floor. They stay that way for a while. It’s weirdly cathartic to watch Derek’s legs move, same way, same motions, again and again and again, like watching one of those de-stress videos on YouTube. And frankly, ever since the event at Ginger’s birthday party with Theo, Stiles has been in need of some destress therapy.

They don’t really ever…talk about it. They should, because they got in a huge fight and then it all ended in them just fucking each other’s brains out, which is on par for them anyway, but still. Derek never mentions it, and Stiles never mentions it.

If one were to look underneath Stiles and Derek’s house, they’d find a lot of buried bones.

“We should have sex after this,” Stiles suggests, and Derek nods his head in agreement.

“I’ve got another five miles.”

“Even hearing that makes me wanna vomit. What should we do?”

“What?”

“The sex. What’s the idea?”

“Oh, uh…” he trails off, furrowing his brow as he pants and thinks. Thwap, thwap, thwap, go his feet on the machine, and Stiles stares at them as they move. It’s mesmerizing. “Ah, I’m just not sure. I’ll think of something.”

Stiles sits up all the way, raising his eyebrows and then sighing all too dramatically. “Is this what we’ve become?”

“Huh?”

“Have we truly lost it? Already? So soon? We can’t think of anything sexy and fun to do for sex?”

Derek makes another face. “Just this one time.” He sounds defensive.

“I can’t believe we’re already that old married couple that has sex only in the missionary position just to get it over with bi-monthly.”

“Now you’re just being dramatic.”

Stiles taps his chin dubiously, cocking his head to the side and back again as if he’s sifting through his own thoughts, rattling them around in his brain. “We need something to spice it up.”

“As if our sex life could get any spicier.”

He has a point about that. To some people, what Stiles and Derek do to one another must be absolutely fucking sick, perverse, weird, on top of a million other unflattering adjectives. Still, they mostly just do the same things again and again. While it’s always fun and Stiles always comes and so does Derek, there’s something to be said for stepping out of their comfort zones. Now, more than ever, Stiles wants a distraction.

So, Stiles snaps his fingers. “We should roleplay.”

“Uh,” Derek seems hesitant, flashing his eyes in Stiles’ direction briefly before seeming to pick up his pace. Like he’s trying to run from the idea. “I don’t think I’d be good at that.”

“It’s not about how good you are at it. It’s supposed to be fun!”

“Uh,” he says again, and his brow furrows. Stiles is mystified at the fact that he appears to be so reluctant to even try – Jesus, it’s one of the tamer things they’ve ever done, truth be told. “Okay?” He does not sound sure, but Stiles will take what he can get.

***

“Okay.” Stiles lifts his leg up to prop his foot right next to where Derek’s thigh is on the bed, to give Derek a nice good look up his skirt so his bright pink underwear are clear in his view. “Tell me I’m failing the class.”

Derek blinks at him. “Have you ever failed a class? In your life?”

With a snort, Stiles shakes his head. “No, fuck no. It’s a joke, or whatever. Just, come on – tell me I’m failing and I’ll have to put in extra credit if I want a passing grade.”

Stiles is in the pink school girl skirt, knee high socks, and one of Derek’s white button downs with a black tie hanging loosely around his neck. He’s supposed to look like a school girl for all intents and purposes, and Derek like a teacher; he manages to pull it off without even really trying. He’s got on a button down and black slacks, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, so he could legitimately be anyone’s teacher at anyone’s school anywhere.

Derek looks at him some more. “It’s just – the shirt is way too big on you to be sexy.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Stiles looks down at himself. And he does have a point about that. Derek’s shirts tend to eclipse Stiles’ mid-section entirely, so the thing nearly hangs down so low the skirt can barely be seen. “Well, do you have a hair tie?”

“Do I what?” His eyebrows go up. “A hair tie? What do I look like, some fuckbag shopping at Whole Foods with unwashed hair?”

Stiles throws his hands in the air. “A rubber band, then! So I can tie this up!” He gathers the excess fabric up into his hand to make a point before unbunching it, so it sits all wrinkly against his skin.

“Not that I know of.”

“Just please, for the love of god…tell me I have to suck you off to pass the class.”

Derek seems to struggle with this for a moment. His lips twitch like he’s seconds away from bursting into laughter, so he covers his mouth with his hand like he’s smoothing the smile off his face. He says, “um. If you want to pass my class, you’ll have to – I can’t.”

Of all the things on planet earth that Stiles thought would make Derek blush, this was not one of them. He has said such filthy, unrepeatable thing to Stiles in bed, such fucking atrocious awful terrible things that would likely land him in Hell if there were such a place, and yet he can’t pretend to be Stiles’ teacher for ten seconds?

“Come on,” Stiles tries, dropping his voice all low and sultry. Maybe he just needs to get more in the mood. He leans in closer, so close his crotch is right there in Derek’s face, and cocks his head to the side all slow and sexy. “Tell me I’ve got to work for it, Mr. Hale.”

Derek makes an unimpressed face. “The shirt is so big on you.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

***

“Okay,” Stiles hands Derek a semi-automatic handgun, one that he pulled out from Derek’s massive collection he keeps in a locked room down the hall. The only reason he has a key is because he had asked for it and Derek has as of late been finding it increasingly difficult to say no to him, for whatever reason. “I’m a hostage. You’re a bad guy.”

Derek takes the gun with the ease of a person who’s handled way too many in his lifetime, confidence and surety in his fingers. Stiles holds guns with reverence and care, even after all the training his dad had given him. Derek holds this one like he’d be ready to shoot someone right in between the eyes in two milliseconds. “I didn’t think gunplay was your thing.”

“It’s not,” Stiles shrugs. “But it’s just a scene.”

“I don’t know if I feel entirely comfortable pointing a gun at you.”

“You don’t have to point it at me,” Stiles says, because frankly, he doesn’t think he’s entirely comfortable with that himself. “Just – it’s a prop. Put it in the waistband of your pants or wherever you normally put one.”

Derek huffs. “What’s the point of this?”

“The point is, I’m just an innocent boy and you’re the big bad dude who’s robbing a convenience store, but you’re super sexy, so we have sex in the back room while the cops swarm the place.”

Derek blinks, and he blinks. The gun is still in his hand, and he’s sitting there on the edge of the bed looking up at Stiles like Stiles is speaking a foreign language. Stiles has got on normal clothes, a plaid shirt and jeans, but underneath he’s got on dark black lace panties and thigh highs with bows on the top. “Since when is this something that interests you?”

Throwing his hands in the air in frustration, both sexual and emotional, Stiles groans. “I’m just trying to keep our sex life interesting.”

Derek sets the gun next to him on the bed, raising his eyebrows. “Yesterday you sucked me off under my desk and I got you off by eating you out and spanking you.” Stiles’ cheeks burn, and he looks away with an embarrassed smile on his face. “That’s not interesting to you?”

“It’s –“ he stutters for a moment, flailing his arms. “It’s just an idea! Come on, can you at least try? For me?” He picks the gun up, wielding it awkwardly. “There’s nothing to worry about. We’re in a closed environment, just me and you being us, and the safety is on!”

To emphasize his point, he squeezes down on the trigger. He expects it to catch and lock, like it should when the safety actually is on, but instead, the gun fires. It bangs, the bullet flying off in the opposite direction while Stiles yelps and practically sees his life flash before his eyes. He drops the gun like it’s on fire, which sends off another bullet up into the ceiling, and Derek is up on his feet in seconds, looking particularly angry.

“Jesus Christ,” he hisses, and Stiles has got his hand pressed to his heart. It’s beating, beating, beating, and Stiles slowly closes his eyes and thanks God almighty that he hadn’t pointed it at Derek. There’s a hole in the wall across the room, and another up above their heads, and Derek is fishing the gun from the ground and examining it. With a slightly murderous look in Stiles’ direction, he makes a big show of flicking the safety on, and Stiles smiles nervously.

“No harm, no foul.” It’s a good thing the bullets fired into the wall between them and the outside and up above their heads – not down into anyone else’s apartment. Yeah, there are holes in Derek’s walls now, but, uh…holes can be fixed.

“You are banned from the gun room,” Derek says, tossing the now actually safe gun off to the side. It lands softly in the bed, not making a sound, and Stiles’ heart is still racing. “No more of this. No more roleplaying, you’re a danger to yourself.”

“You say that like we ever actually roleplayed,” he rolls his eyes and tries to look nonchalant – but really, he’s still thinking about what would’ve happened if he had just angled the gun slightly more to the right that first time. “It was just you stammering and me trying to force you to be attracted to me.”

Derek gives him a look. “That wasn’t the issue.” His voice is low, somewhat dangerous. “The issue was, my interests are specific. You know what I like. You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not for me to get off, you know.”

Stiles licks his lips, his cock twitching in his underwear. He’s been turned on for two hours, trying to get Derek in on all of this, and he’s not going to pretend that the adrenaline from the gun going off isn’t making him even more hard, perversely. Whatever, he’s a man – guns get him going. “Except for when I’m your good girl.”

With a wry smile, Derek nods and looks Stiles up and down. “That’s just a game we play.”

It is quite the game, at that. Stiles always likes how they refer to all of their weird sex kinks as games, or like when Derek holds Stiles down and edges him until he cries they’re just playing, or when Stiles has to beg to come or beg to be allowed to suck Derek off those are just the rules. He never liked it any other way, because referring to it as a game that’s over when it’s over and has no serious consequences is just…safer. “I want you to play with me now,” he hisses, pointing his finger down at the ground petulantly. “You didn’t let me come this morning after I sucked you off and I’m all annoyed and frustrated and you made me run –“

“I suggested.”

“…and I want to come, god dammit!”

Derek’s laughter is low. It’s always like that when he’s being a tease, and he knows it, and Stiles knows it, so it’s no surprise when Derek steps forward and grabs him by the shoulders. Derek’s grip is hard and strong, so Stiles gasps from the back of his throat at how easy it would be for him to just snap Stiles in half, if he wanted to, and his eyes go lidded as he looks up at the bigger, stronger man. Derek says, “you want to come?” God damn, his voice is fucking dark. “I’ll make you come.”

With a throaty exhalation of breath, while Derek undoes the button on Stiles’ jeans and reaches in to thumb along the fabric of his lace panties, Stiles licks his lips. “I love when you say that like it’s a threat, daddy.”

“It is,” he promises, meeting Stiles’ eyes.

“Aw, why?” Stiles lets Derek manhandle him back towards the bed, until his legs press up against the side of it and they’re standing there on the cusp of tearing each other apart. “Haven’t I been good enough to deserve it?”

“You’re very good,” Derek agrees, tipping his head and then leaning forward to lick Stiles’ cheek. It’s this thing he does sometimes, a feral, animalistic thing that comes from a place of control, of ownership, of desire. Stiles leans into it and moans, tilting his head back to give the indication that he wants that same thing on his neck, where the skin is ticklish and sensitive. “I’m not.”

Derek takes the hint and licks a stripe up Stiles’ neck, so Stiles goes cross eyed and laughs in pleasure. “I want you to do bad things to me,” he says, clutching his hands into Derek’s shirt and panting. “Worse than what you do to make money. Do something to me, come on.” All the things that Derek does to Stiles, all the ways he hurts him or controls him or degrades him, none of it could ever really come close to what he does to make his money. But Stiles has realized that he’s started using what Derek does just to get off, and he doesn’t want to think about how fucked up that makes him or makes Derek – that he comes to the thought of Derek being a mobster.

It's better than being afraid of it, in the long run.

With big hands, Derek pushes Stiles’ jeans off his hips so they pool around their feet, and Stiles makes quick work of kicking them off, licking his lips and hissing his breaths short and quick into Derek’s neck. “Tell me what you want,” he says, voice gruff, and Stiles shakes his head and buries his face into Derek’s shoulder.

“No, no, don’t ask me, I just want you to –“ he rubs his erection against Derek’s thigh, shudders. “…I just want you to take it. Don’t ask me anything, I don’t wanna –“

“Okay,” Derek is hasty in his agreement, although there’s a slight doubt in his eyes like maybe that’s a bad idea. Derek and Stiles match up almost perfectly in what they like in bed, especially these days now that they’ve learned more and more about one another and their own likes and dislikes, but Stiles knows there are some things deep down that Derek likes that Stiles would…safe word the fuck out of. As such, it only stands to reason that even as Derek is unbuttoning Stiles’ shirt and pushing it off his shoulders, even as he’s pushing Stiles back onto the bed so Stiles has to scramble up on his limbs to look back up at him, Derek says, “tell me your safe word.”

Stiles licks his lips. Yes. “It’s safe word, daddy.”

“Good boy,” he purrs, taking one of Stiles’ ankles hostage and using it to pull and pull him across the bed until his legs are bracketing Derek’s hips, so Derek can lean down over him and be in complete control of where Stiles can or can’t go. “You want me to hurt you how you like it?”

Stiles could come in his underwear from that and that alone, but instead he just bites his lip and nods frantically. “You know how I like it,” he insists, and Derek does. Stiles doesn’t like whips and he doesn’t like being slapped in the face and he doesn’t like blood. He likes it when Derek holds him down so tightly he’s got bruises in a ring around his wrists. He likes it when Derek fucks him so hard there are blue and purple spots on the inside of his thighs the day after. He likes it when Derek sucks and pulls hard on marks he’s left before so they ache and he writhes underneath him.

Derek knows this. He capitalizes on it so much that Stiles goes weak.

“I’m going to tie you up,” yes, Stiles thinks, while Derek rubs teasingly at the wet spot on the front of his panties. “And play with you until I’m finished. Your only job is to lie there and be a good boy, understand?”

“Yeah,” Stiles breathes, pushing his hands up to rub up and down on Derek’s clothed chest. If this is going to go anyway like he thinks it is, then he knows Derek will be clothed entirely for most if not all of the scene. Sometimes, he really likes to do that. It’s some weird control thing, Stiles doesn’t question it – he just knows it gets him off.

Derek situates Stiles up at the head of the bed, so he’s resting comfortably on the pillows up top. He ties Stiles’ wrists to the headboard expertly with quick fingers, knotting it and then gently asking Stiles if it’s too tight. Stiles shakes his head, and Derek pats him on the cheek adoringly. With a flourish, he bends down and picks up the tie that Stiles had been wearing during his attempt at being a school girl earlier, twisting it around and around in his hands and giving Stiles a mischievous look. “I’m going to blindfold you.”

Oh. Stiles raises his eyebrows and bites his lip. Derek has never done that before. Mostly, Stiles likes to watch what fucked up stuff Derek does to him anyway because it’s half of how he gets off, and Derek likes it when Stiles watches as well. So, this is new, but not unwanted. Stiles nods his consent clearly and Derek smiles at him, reaching out to gently press the fabric of the tie onto his face.

It’s completely black, after that. He ties it behind his head so well that there’s no way it’s going to just slip off, and there are no cracks of light. Frankly, it’s too dark in Derek’s bedroom for there to be much slipping in anyway, so he just swallows. “How dark is it?” Derek asks.

Stiles doesn’t much feel like talking. Since the second Derek tied him here he hasn’t wanted to say anything – he wants to go to his quiet place. But, Derek has addressed him directly and he’ll want an answer, so he clears his throat. “Dark,” he says.

Derek can likely sense that Stiles is going to be quiet instead of taciturn or mouthy, this time, so he just strokes up and down Stiles’ stomach gently and pats him a couple of times. “I’m going to fuck with you for a long time. I have a lot of toys.”

Stiles sinks deeper into the pillows and the bedspread, breathing out shallowly. Sometimes, he gets nervous, but in that anxious excited way. It’s been way too long since Derek has just tied Stiles up and played with him until Stiles was begging to even be allowed to get fucked, and really, it’s one of his favorite things that Derek does to him.

How easy it is for Derek to turn him into this pathetic mess that would do anything to get off. Oh, it’s fucking gross.

“Let me hear what you say if you get scared or uncomfortable, even a little bit.”

Stiles doesn’t want to speak, but this is important. “Safe word,” he repeats, again, and feels all safe and warm inside because Derek cares so much about that. There have been situations before with other people where…well. Stiles doesn’t much think about that anymore.

“Loud and clear, remember?” Something clicks, and Stiles can’t see what it is. His heart sort of races because it’s a familiar sound but isn’t at the same time, and it could be anything, and Stiles can’t see it. He can’t see anything. Abruptly, Derek’s finger lifts underneath the elastic of his panties and then releases it, so it slaps against Stiles’ skin. He’s done this a thousand times, but Stiles has always seen it coming. This time, it shocks him and he jerks a bit, huffing a surprised breath.

God, every single touch from Derek is going to be like that, isn’t it?

This only becomes increasingly evident when a hot, wet tongue laps at the front of his underwear, right along the shaft of his cock, and Stiles shudders. He opens his legs up wider, allowing Derek more room to work. He swipes kitten licks a couple more times, while Stiles whines and hitches his legs up at the knee and pulls on his restraints.

Derek lifts up the front of the lace and pushes his tongue against the slit of Stile’s cock, gently licking up all the pre-come with an expert tongue. Stiles’ legs shake and tremble from the gentle stimulation, in just the right spot for it to be a kind of torture, and then the tongue is gone. “There,” Derek says from somewhere above him. “Cleaned you up.”

Stiles wonders if that’s the only time for the rest of the session that Derek’s going to put his tongue or mouth on his cock. He hopes to god that it isn’t, but prior experiences would lead Stiles to believe that that was nothing more than tease. It had felt so good, though.

A broad palm grabs at his balls, rubbing and caressing them through the fabric. He seems to be experimenting with them, rubbing and feeling like he’s looking for something. “Nice and tight,” he comments, and Stiles swallows. What the hell is this, he wants to ask, but then he…doesn’t want to, either. He’s perfectly content to just let Derek make all the decisions for him. “Could be more drawn up. Here.”

Like he’s doing Stiles a favor, he presses something right up against Stiles’ sack and says, “this should help.”

A buzzing starts up, and Stiles moans. It’s a vibrator, because of course it is. They’ve only got a hundred of those things by now, to the point where there’s one readily available in every single room of the apartment if one knew where to look. Heidi has likely found them before and passed out from the scandalization of it all.

Derek rubs the head of the toy all around Stiles’ balls, and only his balls, a kind of pleasure that’s cruel at the same time that it’s giving. Stiles hisses and feels his foot kick up against Derek’s body, though which part is unclear – Derek doesn’t react much other than to the take the foot hostage and stroke his ankle, so it must not have been a very important part. “Let’s get these nice and full and desperate to empty, huh?” He’s speaking in this soothing, gentle voice. “Of course, they won’t for a while yet. You like to play long, don’t you?”

Stiles does. He vocalizes this agreement with a pitiful whine, trying to thrust his hips so the vibrator will touch him maybe just a little bit on his cock, and Derek stills him with one big hand. “Stay still, or you won’t come at all.”

That’s enough incentive to keep Stiles all but paralyzed. He does as he’s told with a whimper, holding his body firm and tight while Derek rubs and rubs the vibe against the growing sack in his panties.

It switches off, either thankfully or regrettably, and Derek touches his balls again with his fingers. “Better,” he decides, and Stiles pants through his teeth. How is this only just starting?

There are some shuffling noises, and Stiles hopes his underwear is going to come off soon. There’s only so much he can take in the way of this kind of teasing.

The next thing to touch his body is cold and wet. He jerks away from it at first, surprised because that certainly can’t be anything from Derek’s body, but as Derek moves it up and down his chest, dipping low into the waist of his panties, he realizes what it is. An ice cube. Of course. Textbook stuff, here.

He runs another cube along Stiles’ cock, still trapped in the confines of the lace, and Stiles tilts his head back and shakes, from head to toe. It melts soon enough, leaving little wet puddles that warm up against Stiles’ skin, and Derek licks them up with quick swipes of his tongue. There’s a brief moment where the tip of it grazes against Stiles’ cock, and Stiles tries to jerk into the touch almost mindlessly.

Derek grabs him by his hips and stills him, landing a sharp, hard swat with his palm on Stiles’ balls. Stiles shouts, shocked by the quick, shooting ache it sends up his spine.

This is the first moment that confuses Stiles. His head swims for a moment, and in the back of his mind he thinks he can hear someone else’s voice aside from Derek’s, but then Derek is speaking and Stiles can focus again.

“What did I say about moving, my love?” He croons, offering up a gentle caress on the exact spot he had smacked only seconds earlier. Stiles has it on a very good authority that, while he loves to threaten it day in and day out, Derek would never actually deny him an orgasm just because he moved when Derek said not to. First of all, he’s never ever followed through on it even though he says it constantly. And second of all, Stiles wouldn’t allow it. It’s just sort of fun to pretend that the threat is real, so Stiles gets himself back in line.

He stills, again, his head feeling fuzzy.

There’s a second where all Stiles can feel is Derek’s legs bracketing him right by his hips, trapping him in so even if he does squirm he won’t make very much progress with it. Then, Derek is off of him, but keeps his hand firmly on Stiles’ chest as if to just remind him that Derek is right there, that he hasn’t left the room, that he’s not leaving at all. It’s comforting, so Stiles leans into the touch and sighs.

The hand drifts up to Stiles’ neck, holding him steady. Stiles can’t see what’s coming next. It could be anything. The anxiety of this makes his heart pound, adding to the entire emotional range of this entire experience; the arousal, the love, the desire, the trust, all of it. He’s raw, and there’s still a slight sting in his balls from being hit there that has him reminded of something else, something…

…Stiles is distracted entirely by another vibrator. This time, it’s not one of the big ones that Derek uses to rub up and down Stiles’ cock. It’s one of those tiny little ones that Stiles is amazed never get lost – and it’s not anywhere near his crotch. This one is pressed right up against his left nipple, and Stiles just about loses his mind.

As soon as it starts, he’s writhing. “Daddy –“ he gasps, and he can’t help the fact that his legs kick of their own volition. Derek seems to know this, because there’s no punishment for the movement.

He says, “I know, you’re so sensitive right here,” as his other hand comes down to tweak and rub at the nipple not being tortured by a vibrator. Stiles makes a tiny, tiny little noise that’s pathetic and desperate, and Derek chuckles in a way that makes Stiles’ chest burn. Humiliation, hot and strong. “Awww, so, so fucking sensitive.”

It goes on. Stiles kicks his stocking-clad foot into the bed and whines, throwing his head back into the pillow, trapped. It just feels like so, so, so, much, but not enough at the same time. It’s so all-body encompassing, so fucking pleasurable, but it’s not going to be enough to make him come. That’s so frustrating. It’s so unbelievable how good it feels, but how unsatisfying it is.

Derek reaches down and relieves his right nipple for a moment, pushing down on the elastic of his panties so that the head of his cock is sticking out in the open air, so Stiles can feel the cold hit his bare skin. “Let’s see how wet we can get you from doing this, huh?”

Stiles whines. As if on cue, a little dribble of pre-come comes out that Stiles can feel, and he knows that Derek is watching. Derek circles the vibrator around and around, pressing it to the tip and then going along the sides again. Stiles bucks and tries to shy away from it, or at least his body does on instinct, but Derek holds him down again and keeps him in place. “It’s okay. It feels good, doesn’t it?”

It does. Perversely, it does.

Derek turns the vibrator off and Stiles nearly sighs in relief. The satisfaction doesn’t last very long, because it’s only replaced by Derek’s tongue, this time. Stiles hisses and pulls frantically on his ropes as if he could actually get out, legs moving of their own accord down underneath him as Derek laps and laps. After all the stimulation, it’s sensitive to the point where a feather could have him writhing like this – Derek doesn’t stop. Stiles is making these tiny little ah, ah, ah sounds, while his cock pulses and begs for attention, dripping all over his stomach and making a mess out of him.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Derek croons, finally pulling off and ending the torment. Stiles slumps down and stills, but only for a moment. He’s so fucking turned on and he wants his cock paid attention to so bad that he twists around for a moment, as if trying to get friction from his legs on his dick. It doesn’t work, and he makes a short, frustrated noise. “You should’ve just waited to come when I wanted you to instead of demanding it like that, huh?”

Stiles whines and nods.

“That’s okay. You know I’ll do anything you ask to me to,” he strokes Stiles’ hair, gentle fingers, gentle gentle. “I’ll just do it my way.”

Low and small, Stiles clears his throat and speaks for the first time in what feels like a long time. “Please touch my cock,” he begs, and Derek runs his finger along Stiles’ lips as if in praise for speaking to him at all.

“As you wish,” he says.

The panties get pulled down, finally, and Stiles arches his back as much as he can into the touch. Derek pushes down on his chest to get him back lying flat, and then gently, two of his fingers come up to grip the head of Stiles’ cock. He twitches in Derek’s hand, shuddering and groaning already even though nothing is happening.

Then, it happens. Derek rubs and strokes viciously with his fingers – the head, and only the head. Stiles whiinnnesss, because no, no, not like that, not like this, holy shit, holy shit it’s so much, it’s so much. It’s just so sensitize, too much stimulation, and he’s so turned on, it hurts in that pleasure/pain way that both of them are so addicted to. He moans and tries to pull away, desperate with a plea of, “daddy, it hurts –“

As he moves, pulling his body as much as he can away from the stimulation, Derek finds a spot on Stiles’ inner thigh. It’s a spot where he had sucked a hickey in a couple days ago, now tender and sensitive and painful if Stiles puts too much of a finger press on it.

Derek hits him, right there, and Stiles cries out. Things become less clear, right then. The confusion from earlier is back and Stiles is, in the truest and most organic sense, triggered. He can’t see anything, so he thinks he might be back in that old apartment on the other side of town where the lights were all draped with scarves to keep it dark and, as Christopher would say, sexy, even though it really never was. Chris is on top of him and Stiles is begging him to not hurt him again, please not there, please not right there Sir, I’ll be good I swear –

Stiles is trapped, though. No amount of begging ever gets him out of it. No matter what he does, he gets hurt. He doesn’t understand, ever, what he does wrong to deserve it. He just knows that he does deserve it, of course he does, Sir says he does. His hands are tied and he can’t see anything and he’s completely at the mercy of his Sir, his master as he likes to be called from time to time.

This is all in his head. Stiles does not have the presence of mind to know that. There’s this inkling of a knowledge that that’s Derek, and Derek would never do that to him and Derek would stop if Stiles would ask him to, but he can’t see Derek. He doesn’t know that it’s Derek. All he can feel is that stinging pain on his thigh, the fire-burning-deep-in-his-gut feeling of the stimulation on his cock, and Stiles twists away. He has to get away.

He receives a slap on his other thigh for that and he whimpers and shakes. He tries to stay still, to be good, for once. He doesn’t want to get hit with the belt or something worse, and he doesn’t even want to come anymore because Sir always makes sure that hurts too, and he doesn’t want to do this, and he wants to cry, and he could scream, and he wants out. He’s done. No more.

He should safe word. But when he safe words, Sir always ignores it or mocks him or calls him pathetic or says that a safe word is just what weak, pathetic little pieces of shit like him use to get out of punishments. Where is this coming from, the rational part of him asks? Hadn’t he repressed this? Wasn’t he done with this?

It’s lost in the white noise of his head. He can’t make sense of any of it. There’s no rhyme or reason to it now, and he’s just this feral, desperate thing that’s terrified of being hurt again. And so it only stands to reason that he writhes away from being touched, again, and the response is the same.

A slap. Harsh and firm on the bruise on his thigh again. And that, for whatever reason, is when Stiles decides he just can’t take it anymore. No more, no more, no more, he’s weak, fine. He’s pathetic, fine. He’s useless, fine. He just wants it to fucking stop.

“Please stop,” he begs, and his eyes are wet behind the blindfold and it’s all dark and he’s afraid. “Please, please, stop, please, I won’t do it anymore, just don’t – just don’t – just – please, Sir, I’m –“

The hands are off of him. There’s no more touching, and Stiles is alone. All alone. Sir has left him here tied to the bed and crying and hurting and he’s not going to come back.

“No, don’t go, I’m sorry!” He wails, kicking and desperate. In spite of all else, no matter how cruel Sir can be, Stiles needs him – why isn’t he ever kind? Why doesn’t he ever hold him like he used to at the start, and why doesn’t he tell Stiles he’s good when he does everything that he’s asked of, and why does he abandon him all the time? “I’m sorry, don’t leave me alone, please don’t leave me –“

There are frantic, big fingers undoing the ropes around his wrists. Stiles cringes away and they’re gone, for a moment, but then they’re back, even more desperate this time. Stiles cries these big heaving things and just wants…he doesn’t know. Everything is so wrong in his head.

He is so stupid, and ugly, and useless. This is so pathetic, him right now crying hysterically and begging like this – he should’ve just been able to take it. He should’ve been able to do it. Why is he so fucking useless?

His hands are free and he digs them immediately into his hair, turning over on his side and away from the warm body next to him. Sir is going to beat him so he may as well just roll over now and get it over with. Still, he pleads. “Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, I’ll do anything, just not that…”

“Stiles,” it’s said so frantically, and Stiles shakes his head. “Stiles, hey, it’s me!”

The blindfold comes off, untied quickly and tossed aside. Stiles can see, hazily through his tears, that he’s not in that apartment. But he closes his eyes and ignores that, so lost, so fucking…dropped. Off the edge of a cliff. He’s not here anymore, he’s down somewhere below himself where everything, every single thing that he’s buried deep and not spoken about and ignored has come swimming back up to the surface. He has nowhere to hide from it. He’s there, now, and Sir is taking off his belt and he’s going to hit him, and hit him, and hit him, until he’s satisfied.

A hand touches him and Stiles recoils on instinct, shirking away from pain like an animal trapped in a cage. “Don’t touch me!” He screams, and then he’s up off the bed like a shot. His legs are like jelly but they propel him forward, out of this room, out, out, out. A voice trails after him, but Stiles doesn’t want to hear the litany of abusive language, so he cowers low into himself and shudders and stuffs himself into the closet.

He slams the door and doesn’t turn the light on. He’s hidden in here before. It feels much bigger than it used to, but he remembers the good spot – pushes himself underneath hanging clothes and behind them, going fetal. He hugs his knees where they’re pressed against his body, buries his face there, naked and alone and scared.

Sir always finds him, but it’s nice to have a second alone. He sniffles and wonders how he got this way, so afraid and lost in his head, but his thighs sting and he remembers being hurt and he remembers how little he can take, how pathetic he is for that, how he deserved the hits and he knows that.

It all cycles around and around in his head. A washing machine of trauma, his body shaking as he tries to parse what just happened to him.

He doesn’t know how long he sits there, coming out of it. Details start to fall back into place, bit by bit, second by second, and he realizes in a sudden burst of clarity that he had an episode. As he looks up he can make out the finer details of the closet after his eyes adjust to the darkness, and he knows that he’s not in Christopher’s shitty little closet in that shitty little apartment he had like he had just previously convinced himself of; he’s in Derek’s penthouse. These are Derek’s clothes. Derek’s cologne he’s smelling. It was just an episode. Derek hadn’t meant to, but he had caused it, and now he’s alone in here and feeling so stupid. How did this happen?

Wasn’t he over that? He told himself he was over that.

The door opens abruptly and light spills in, bright enough that Stiles blinks against it, lifting his hand to block it out. Footsteps, padding and gentle, and then Stiles can see Derek’s feet pausing right next to his hiding place. Then, Derek squats down and pushes all the clothing aside, to reveal Stiles in all his glory. Naked, shivering, crying still.

When Derek sees him, his face is open with surprise. Or, shock. He just looks nothing like what Stiles had to imagine him to look like when he had that blindfold on, nothing like that at all. The exact opposite of that, in fact. He says, “baby,” all soft and kind and – and nothing like Chris at all. “What happened? What happened, sweetheart?”

Stiles cracks, because Derek is here, and Derek can fix anything. He sobs, this huge thing that shakes his entire body, and reaches out to grab at Derek as best as he can. Derek leans into it, cradling Stiles up in his arms and pushing his head into his neck where it’s safe and warm and Stiles cries there. He cries, and cries, and then starts in on a litany. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, Derek, I was so – I thought you were – oh, God, how could I think…?”

But Derek isn’t angry with him. He shh’s Stiles gently, rubbing his hand up and down Stiles’ bare back. “It’s okay,” he promises, like he means it. “It’s okay. It’s just fine.”

“…and you hit me, you hit me, and I couldn’t – I don’t…” he shudders, and Derek sighs. It sounds very, very guilty. “But I don’t know why I freaked, you’ve done that to me before! You know I – I like it, on the bruises? Derek, I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened. I’m not like this anymore, I don’t – I don’t -”

Derek is quiet. He rubs and rubs on Stiles’ back, patting him intermittently. He doesn’t seem to mind that Stiles is a mess or that he’s still naked, doesn’t seem to mind that they’re on the floor of the closet. He seems perfectly content to sit here soothing Stiles until he’s okay enough to get out of this room again.

“Derek, I don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t know why that happened…”

Derek sighs. He speaks. “I do.” Again, his voice is guilty. “I am so sorry, Stiles.”

“No, it’s my fault, it’s me, I’m messed up, I’m broken and I thought I’d forgotten all that, but I’m so fucked up, I’m not –“

“Shhh, stop that,” he chides, and Stiles quiets and sniffles into his neck. “It’s my fault. I blindfolded you, and we never talked about that before. I’m so sorry.”

Stiles blinks, surprised by this. But as he thinks it over, as he really considers what had happened and goes back to it in his head, in spite of how painful it is to do it and how muddled the memories are now, he thinks he can sort through and see what Derek means. There are entire sections of what just happened that are blacked out by episodic PTSD, drowned in a haze of Chris and pain and that terrible, terrible little room where Stiles got blood and tears all over the sheets, but he can see clearly now.

Derek has smacked Stiles like that a thousand times before. He spanks Stiles over his knee all the time now for fuck’s sake, and Stiles doesn’t spiral into that type of shit, not ever, because it’s Derek. Derek would never beat him like that. Derek would never hurt Stiles just to hurt him. And Stiles loves when Derek leaves a bruise on him and then makes it hurt again later, loves when Derek reminds him that he left that mark and can make another one, loves it, loves it.

But this time, Stiles couldn’t see Derek. He wasn’t there. All Stiles had was his imagination, and there, lurking in the deepest recesses of it, was Christopher. Master. Stiles shudders at the thought itself and holds onto Derek even harder.

“I’m so sorry. This is my fault, not yours. Not you, my perfect, sweet, good boy. I love you so much. You are so important to me, and I would never want to hurt you like that.” He nuzzles Stiles’ neck and Stiles melts into him – Chris would never say anything like that to him, except maybe at the start. When he was tricking Stiles into thinking they were in love.

But Derek doesn’t do tricks like that. Derek says what he means, and he means this, and he loves Stiles.

“It’s okay. Come on, it’s all right. You’re shaking,” he says, rubbing Stiles on the back as if transferring his warmth over. “Let’s get you dressed. Come on, love.”

Stiles is fragile, so he doesn’t move much. Derek has already got a pile of clothes sitting there right next to them, some sweatpants and a warm sweater, because he’s kind and thoughtful and…a dom.

A real one. Christopher wouldn’t know much about that.

Derek slides the pants onto Stiles and then the sweater, using gentle hands and stroking him the entire time. Stiles leans up against him when he’s done, his eyes tired and cried out and his body lax. “I haven’t had an episode like that in so long,” he murmurs, and Derek sighs and doesn’t meet his eyes. He feels awful. He feels just awful, and Stiles made him feel like that. “It’s not your fault, it’s his. It’s not mine, it’s his.”

“Yes,” Derek agrees. His voice is low, dangerous. He’s thinking that he should’ve just let Christopher drop off the side of that bridge that night. He should’ve just punched him hard enough that his nose would break and the bones would go into his brain and kill him. “You’ve never spoken much about what exactly he did to you.”

“I don’t want to speak much about it now,” he shakes his head, but closes his eyes and sighs. “If I had acted that way, just now, and I used to back then when I started realizing he was cruel, I would be lying on the floor by myself right now. He would’ve…” he swallows, looking at his hands. The knuckles are chapped. “…he would’ve beat me with his belt and left me to pick myself up.”

Derek’s body tenses up.

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Stiles says, and he means that. There’s not a day that’s gone by where he’s wanted to talk about it. Even Scott only knows the general details. The truth is, there are entire events, catastrophic ones, that no one, no one, not even his father or his best friend, know.

Sometimes, Stiles pretends not even he knows about them. It happened to someone else, he thinks. It happened in another lifetime.

Derek is quiet for a moment, with a contemplative expression on his face. He’s gone still, the way that he does when he’s feeling particularly murderous, but he says nothing for a long time. Neither does Stiles. They just sit and bask in the knowledge that this just happened, and now they have to find their footing again.

Building trust in a relationship is hard enough. Building trust in a relationship like theirs is even harder. Stiles can only hope that Derek knows that no trust has been shattered here, none of their hard work undone, because it really wasn’t his fault. Yes, maybe he should’ve talked the blindfold over with Stiles, but Stiles is pretty certain he would’ve said yes anyway. He didn’t know this would happen just like Derek didn’t.

“Let’s get you something to eat,” Derek suggests, patting Stiles on the shoulder and then rubbing. Stiles doesn’t disagree, so they go into the kitchen where Stiles sits down at the breakfast nook and watches Satchmo swim around and around in his tank across the room with his chin in his palm. He focuses on his fins moving and the blue of him, calming in a strange way, while Derek putters around with pans and spoons.

Some ten minutes later there’s a bowl of chicken and stars in front of him with a couple of slices of buttered toast, and Stiles smiles up at Derek looming over him. “Thank you,” he says, hoping that Derek catches all the different thank you’s hidden beneath just one.

Derek sits across from him and taps his fingers on the table. He may be doing it unconsciously. He’s acting very strange, Stiles surmises as he spoons himself some soup and swallows. He’s got this look on his face, this calculating, intense set to his eyes, a furrow in his brow. He blinks and meets Stiles’ eyes directly after some silence. He clears his throat. “That wasn’t just a normal backing out of a scene.”

Stiles focuses on his soup.

“You weren’t just uncomfortable with something I did,” he goes on, and Stiles sort of wants to melt into his food instead of talking about this, even while he knows that they have to. “That was…scary.”

Yeah. Yeah, it was. It was scary for Stiles to be in that headspace, scary enough that he hadn’t given a second thought during any part of it to wonder how frightening it may have been to Derek. One second it’s normal and they’re just doing what they do, and the next second Stiles is crying and begging Derek to stop and screaming at him and hiding in a closet.

“It’s just…you never talk to me about this stuff, so how am I supposed to –“

“Like you ever talk to me about your own skeletons in the closet,” he snaps, venomous and defensive. Derek blinks at him afterwards, and Stiles immediately lowers his eyes and puts his hand over his forehead. “Sorry,” he shakes his head and frowns. “Sorry, I don’t mean to – I mean it was true, but I don’t need to say it like that. I’m just really…”

“It’s okay,” Derek says, and it really sounds like it is. “You’re not wrong. We could both, uh – benefit from being a little more open with one another about the things in our pasts.”

Pigs will literally fly on the day that Derek decides to open up to Stiles about literally any single one of his deep-seated issues, but Stiles nods his head in agreement anyway.

Derek is tapping his fingers again. Stiles is at a loss for what this particular tic of his indicates, so he just stares as they tap and tap and tap on the tabletop, picking with his own fingers at his toast. “And, baby, you didn’t safe word.”

“What?” Stiles furrows his brow.

Derek’s jaw tics. “You never said your safe word. By the time I realized what was going on you were already spiraling. We go over it before every scene. Are you…not comfortable, or do you think I’d be angry?”

“God, no,” Stiles insists and reaches his hand across the table to grab at Derek’s, stilling the tapping momentarily. “No, I don’t think you’d be angry with me. I’d be fine safe wording with you in any situation, but that – that particular…” he swallows and tries to think of a good way to explain this. “I was having PTSD. It was triggered, okay? And I thought you were Chris or I deluded myself into thinking I was back in the worst time of my life, and he – he didn’t like it when I said my safe word, so I didn’t because it never mattered to him.”

There’s more of that eerie, still nothing on Derek’s end. A statue. Who knows what’s going through his mind?

“I’d never think you’d be angry with me for safe wording,” Stiles honestly laughs, because the idea is so ridiculous. Derek doesn’t even get mad at Stiles for spilling grape juice all over his pristine white carpets or stealing his phone charger – the thought of him going bananas like Chris would over him safe wording is just funny. “You know what I’m thinking about right now?”

Derek eyes him for a moment. “What?”

“50 Shades of Gray.”

“Oh, God.” Derek makes a sour face. “At this club I used to go to, they used to have nights where they’d all bring copies of that thing and then burn them ceremoniously in a big pit in the middle of the room.”

Stiles snorts. That sounds just about right. “I’m just thinking about how there’s this scene in those books where Christian, like, freaks out because Anastasia –“

“You know the characters by name?” he seems surprised by this, and, frankly, dismayed. “You’ve read those books?”

“I’ve read long dissertations by feminist scholars on the bulk of the text,” he corrects haughtily, and Derek lifts his eyebrows. “But there’s this scene where she safe words and he says, quote unquote, my fucking wife used to safe word me, like it was a problem. I don’t know,” he shrugs, stirring his spoon around in his soup. “I’m just thinking about that, now.” Back when he was nineteen and with Chris, he used to think about those books all the time. It used to make him laugh, people calling them abusive. Either because the abuse that he suffered underneath Chris was so far out of 50 Shades’ galaxy that it made those books look like tea time, or if he was still deluding himself he wasn’t abused, not at all, and so neither was Anastasia, who can say?

Derek sighs, long and loud. There’s not much left for them to discuss. Stiles figures they could go around and around, but really, everything has been said. It’s all understood, now – what happened and why it did, all the details or at least as many as Stiles is willing to give laid out for them both to pick at. It was scary. It was bad. It’s over.

Or, the event itself is. Stiles predicts a long, sleepless night spent staring at his ceiling, remembering all the things he had worked tirelessly to forget.

“What do you want to do now?” Derek asks him earnestly, gesturing to Stiles’ almost empty plate and bowl. “You want to play a game or something?”

They have accumulated a lot of board games and card games as of late – it turns out to be something he and Derek both mutually enjoy, which is odd. They’ve had a couple of game nights with Scott and Kira that have gone well, and Derek is actually quite good at almost all of the ones they play together. Maybe that actually isn’t surprising; after all, the man is logical and calculating and cutthroat.

“Can we just watch a movie?” Stiles suggests in a small voice, and Derek nods his head. “Something stupid?”

“Something stupid, sure.”

***

They end up watching Sing. They end up hating Sing.

It becomes a bit of a meme for a day after the fact, beyond Stiles falling asleep on the couch as the credits rolled and Derek picking him up and carrying him back to their bed without Stiles’ knowledge. Stiles will point to various unseemly objects – a banana peel hanging by a thread over the edge of the trash can, a used q-tip on the sink, a pubic hairball stuck in the drain – and ask, “worse than Sing?”

Derek will shake his head, no matter what it is, no matter how gross or asinine, and say, “nothing is worse than Sing.”

It’s nice to have something not-terrible to focus on for a while, especially in relation to that night.

That night was awful. The scene was awful. Stiles’ PTSD is awful and untreated and he’s never spoken about it really to anyone and he’s going to bury himself underneath all these things he’s not going to say, not ever. But Sing was worse.

Stiles finds himself staring at his eyes in the mirror and flashing back to being young and stupid and naïve, to being that kid who would do anything for a boyfriend, who would do anything to be as adored as he thought Chris adored him, more than once in the following two days. Suddenly, everything makes him think of Christopher.

Leaning over the railing on Derek’s balcony having a cigarette reminds him of when he and Chris used to smoke together after a scene. Sometimes Stiles’ hand would shake as he’d bring the cigarette to his lips, and Chris would ignore it and talk normally like he hadn’t just hit Stiles across the face ten minutes earlier, leaving a blooming bruise on his temple. Sitting alone with a mug of tea working on an article reminds Stiles of being in college and living with Chris in that terrible apartment off campus, how Chris used to say that he was wasting his time, and he wasn’t even really that good anyway and what’s he need a job for, when he has Chris?

Stiles is tired of his mind constantly whirring, constantly churning, constantly coming back to the same thing again and again. He’s just…tired. And he can’t talk to Derek about it.

Derek would beg him to open up to him about it more, Stiles is sure. But Stiles is ashamed, still, of all of that. How long it went on. How long he allowed it to happen. How he tricked himself into thinking Chris loved him and this is what BDSM meant.

No, he’s ashamed. And he won’t talk.

It’s on a Saturday morning in late spring that Stiles’ phone buzzes on the counter of the kitchen, where Stiles is enjoying a cup of coffee by himself. Derek hadn’t been here when Stiles woke up, so he figures him gone for the morning and maybe some of the afternoon, either having an honest day’s work or the exact opposite of that, so he honestly figures it’s Derek calling him to see if he’s awake yet and what he’s up to. He does that sometimes; just checks in, if he knows he’s going to be busy for most of the day. Stiles always likes that.

Instead of seeing the usual flurry of heart emojis, Stiles sees something he hasn’t seen in a very, very long time.

His father is calling him. Stiles nearly chokes on his coffee when he sees the police car and siren emojis, sputtering in his haste to snatch the thing up into his hand and answer it. There’s this moment where he hesitates, letting it vibrate in his hand, staring at the screen with a twist to his mouth. They haven’t spoken in so long; and now he’s calling out of the blue?

To apologize? To be angry? To be disappointed? To say terrible things? To be cruel?

Stiles bites the bullet, and answers. His voice sounds tentative in his own ears, so he clears his throat and squares his shoulders for whatever’s about to come.

There’s a beat on the other line, and then a sigh. “Stiles, it’s your father.”

“It is 2017, dad,” he drawls, putting his mug of coffee down and biting his lip. “Your number is in my phone.”

“For all I know, you deleted it.” He grumbles this, and Stiles lifts his eyes to the ceiling. Please, not a fight. Please, not a fight. “That’s not the reason I’m calling. Listen. Um. This is –“ his father is stammering. Stiles could count on one hand the number of times his father has genuinely stammered before; one of them was the sex talk, and another was when he told Stiles that his mother was sick. There’s a pretty wide realm of possibilities between those two extremes, so Stiles is instantly alert. “I know we haven’t spoken in a while and a lot of that is my fault. This is a, um…particular instance in which I decided to put certain things aside in favor of…what’s important.”

“Are you sick?” Stiles demands, putting his hand over his mouth for a moment as he thinks about it. “Dad, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he says hastily, reassuring. “I’m just fine, it’s not that, don’t worry.”

Stiles breathes out a sigh of relief. When he was a kid, especially after his mother passed of course, he used to have nightmares of his dad getting sick and dying and leaving him all alone and orphaned in the big bad world. His father was like a superhero to him when he was little, being a police officer and then ultimately the Sheriff. It was always terrifying to imagine him being weak or brittle, like his mother was at the end. This is, apparently, a fear that has stuck into adulthood.

“It’s – oh, hell. It’s Christopher.”

Christopher. Christopher? “Christopher?” Stiles is stupefied. He licks his lips and feels the familiar uptick in his heartbeat he always gets whenever that name comes up, dulled only by the fact that he’s been on Stiles’ mind quite a bit in the past week.

“I don’t know quite how to say this, kid, so I’m just sort of going to say it.” A pause. “He was found dead in his apartment yesterday.”

There are no words for the emotion that passes through Stiles as he processes that information. It’s not a joke or a prank and it’s definitely true, because his father would know it was true and would never make something like that up, so there’s no denial period for Stiles, none whatsoever. The words buzz in his head and he goes quiet and paralyzed, staring blankly across the kitchen. “Okay.”

“I just thought you would want to know that, and you’d want to hear it from – from someone. Instead of just finding out.” Another one of those hard, dad-like sighs. “I know what you feel right now is probably very complicated, and I understand.”

Complicated. Yes. There had been a time where Stiles was certain he was in love with Chris and if he died then it would be the end of the world. And then a time when he was certain Chris would kill him, was going to kill him, either on accident or on purpose Stiles was never certain. The two emotions battle it out inside of his head, either being sad or being relieved, and Stiles can’t pick one, so he chooses neither.

He goes numb. “Okay,” he says again, and then clears his throat and tries to sound unfazed. “Was he…I mean, how’d it happen?”

“Ruled as a suicide,” he says, and then that. That gives Stiles some pause. His eyes lift of their own accord, staring out across the room instead of looking at his hand.

There are a lot of things Stiles would say about Chris, all of them incredibly unkind. But he would never, never in his life, think of Chris as the type of person who would first of all have the guts to take his own life or second of all be the type of person who would even consider it to begin with. The only reason Stiles can think of that Chris would ever be suicidal is that he suddenly had an enlightenment and realized that the things that he does to people are terrible, that he became guilt-ridden, unable to live with himself in the wake of everything that he’d done.

And, ha. Ha, ha, ha. Never in a million fucking years. Never.

Which can only mean that he didn’t kill himself. Stiles puts his hand over his mouth and thinks that he knows, he knows, he knows, but he doesn’t want it to be true. He closes his eyes and asks, “shot in the head?”

“Yeah,” the Sheriff sounds surprised on the other line, but Stiles isn’t. No, Stiles isn’t surprised at all. Because Chris didn’t kill himself, he never could – someone killed him, and then dressed it up to look like a suicide so expertly no one is even questioning it. Not even the people who know him best, it would seem.

And there’s someone Stiles knows who would be pretty good at making a murder look like a suicide or an accident.

“How’d you know that?”

“Lucky guess,” Stiles says, detached. “Look dad, I – I have to go.” His mind is roaring, roaring, roaring, so many thoughts, so many, so –

“If you wanted to talk, you could call me, anytime,” his voice sounds a little desperate and Stiles feels sorry and bad that he can’t stay on the line and work things out with his father, not right now, even after all the months he’s spent waiting for this opportunity, but he…can’t. There’s too much. There’s just too much, and Stiles’ hand is shaking where it’s holding the phone against his ear. “I’m around, you know I am.”

“Yes, dad, I’ll call. I’ll call you, I promise,” he looks into this coffee. He can barely see his face reflected back at him, and he almost thinks that doesn’t look like him at all. “I just need to go right now.”

“Okay,” there’s disappointment, but Stiles hangs up.

He puts his phone down, face up. Wraps his hands around his mug and stares, and stares, and thinks.

When Derek had been quiet, that day. After everything had happened. When he had been tapping his fingers, and looking away from Stiles with that precise, intense set to his eyes. He wasn’t just upset, and he wasn’t just lost in his own thoughts.

He was thinking about it. He was planning it. He knew, maybe the second he figured out what had happened and why Stiles had gone off the deep end, what he was going to do. Maybe he even knew it that day on the bridge – if Chris ever made one wrong move again, if the name ever came up negatively…

Stiles grips his mug harder and feels…blank. There’s a part of him that knows his reaction should be horror and dismay, that he should be disturbed and disgusted with what Derek has done.

Really, he’s not disturbed or disgusted. He just isn’t sure what he is.

There’s a clicking sound at the front door. It swings open, slamming shut seconds later, and then Derek is waltzing into the kitchen wearing his usual garb – a black shirt and dark jeans, while he pushes his sunglasses off of his face and shoots Stiles a huge grin.

“Hey,” Derek greets, leaning down to peck Stiles on the cheek. “You having coffee? Is there any left?”

Stiles doesn’t say anything. He sits and stares dead ahead, barely acknowledging Derek’s existence at all. Frankly, Stiles doesn’t know how to react, because just how like how he thinks she should be disgusted, he also knows that deep down, he shouldn’t be affected by this. For God’s sake, Chris was scum and even back then he knew that. Even beyond that, this is sort of…what Derek does.

But then, no. No it’s not. When Derek has killed people he’s done it out of necessity. A me-or-them type of situation, that’s what Derek has always said whenever Stiles has brought it up before. This wasn’t a drug deal gone bad. There was no money involved.

Derek just did this. Planned it out. Thought about it. Ruminated over it. Then he went to sleep after the fact, didn’t lose a wink.

Behind him, Derek is pouring himself a cup. Stiles looks down at his phone and imagines going back in time and not picking up.

“What’re you up to today?” Derek asks him, reaching his hand out to rub it on Stiles’ back. Stiles doesn’t move away from the touch because he doesn’t want to, because it’s Derek, because he loves Derek, because Derek loves him, because this is a person he knows.

This is a person who kills other people. Stiles used to play coy about that. Now, he guesses he doesn’t have that option.

After another prolonged silence, Derek pauses in his ministrations. “What’s the matter, baby?”

What’s the matter? What’s the fucking matter?

“If I asked you something, would you tell me the truth?”

Derek cocks his head to the side, steaming mug of coffee clutched in his hand. He looks so casual, so normal, so…so average. Clean. Guileless. “Of course,” his voice is a little measured, careful. But he can’t possibly know that Stiles knows. He wouldn’t dream of Stiles figuring this one out.

Stiles looks up at him. Right in his eyes. They’re the same color they always have been, and he knows they don’t change from situation to situation. He’s not a different person when he goes off and does whatever he does, and he wasn’t a different person when he went into Chris’ apartment that night. This is Derek, and that was Derek, and he’s never stopped. No matter what he does, he doesn’t stop. “Did you kill my ex-boyfriend?”

A stillness. Derek setting his mug down on the kitchen island right next to Stiles’ arm. Derek blinking and lifting a single shoulder. “I didn’t,” he says, matter-of-fact. “Isaac did.”

There is no blow. This is information Stiles already knew, so when it hits, it just brushes against him gently.

“Ex-boyfriend is a generous term,” he says, narrowing his eyes a bit. Stiles doesn’t know what to say, so he says nothing. “Rapist is more on par.”

Derek has no idea exactly how right he is in that statement, and Stiles would never tell him, so he just keeps his mouth shut and he nods. Up and down, he nods and he nods and his mouth twists and his fingers grip where they’re holding the mug – four fingers, always four – and before he knows it, he’s picking it up and throwing it across the room.

Derek is startled, moving back and away as the thing shatters and coffee goes all over Derek’s nice white walls and nice white carpets and nice white crisp clean life. He scrubs and he scrubs, so everything shines, but Stiles wonders if he could find the blood if he looked hard enough.

“Baby,” Derek’s voice is gentle and placating, and Stiles is shaking. “I had to. I couldn’t sleep knowing that person was out there walking around, after everything he did to you –“

“To me,” Stiles snaps, pointing at himself with his teeth grit. “To me, me, not to you, to me. It was my life. It’s my trauma. He was my problem. Can you justify what you did even knowing –“

“Oh, yes I can.” He says this so effortlessly, so calmly. Stiles is taken aback by the surety in his tone. “You think he wasn’t doing what he did to you to other people?”

Stiles flinches, looking away. No, not that thought. Not that. “I don’t know.” He’ll pretend like he hasn’t lost sleep over that exact thought. How cowardly he had been to not press charges like he should have. How pathetic he was to just let Chris walk free because he was too terrified to drop the r word in his father’s office as he sobbed and sobbed.

He was too afraid to be a victim. So he let other people do it for him instead.

“I’m certain he was.” And he sounds it, too. “I can live with that. Knowing that his death means his victims’ peace of mind? I’ll sleep with that, sure.”

He doesn’t know what to do, or what to say, or how to react. He just lifts his arms and drops them back down to his sides, mouth twisting up as he thinks about crying. Crying would be nice, but the tears won’t come – and Derek is looking at him all soft and gentle like he’s this fragile little thing that he’s responsible for.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Derek demands, and Stiles honestly just has to shrug. He doesn’t know. There are so many thoughts. There is so much to focus on. “Say something.”

Stiles looks at the stains he made on the carpet. Another mess, for Derek to clean up.

After all – he seems to be very good at that.

“I don’t know how I feel about it,” he admits, voice quivering. “I hated him. I hated him, I hated him, I hated him. But I…” Stiles twists away from Derek and holds himself with his own arms, shaking and broken apart.

There’s some quiet, and Derek is behind him, so Stiles can’t see what he’s doing or what his face looks like. Satchmo swims clueless, on and on, and Stiles wishes he were like that. That he could just keep going, no matter what, no matter how much piles on, no matter how many things there are to ignore.

“I had him killed,” Derek says, and his tone carries no emotion. “I sent Isaac over to his apartment, where he broke in and shot Chris in the temple. We looked up whether he was right or left handed so it would be air tight. Isaac left an illegally purchased gun in his hand that can’t be traced back to anyone or anything, clean of fingerprints other than Chris’. And then he left.”

To hear Derek tell it, it sounds so clinical. Precise. Like they’ve done this sort of a thing a thousand times before.

“You understand that I only ever didn’t kill him the first two times I had the opportunity because I thought it would upset you.”

Stiles turns to look over his shoulder, and he finds Derek standing with his hands in his pockets, casual as all get out.

“And you also understand that I’ve done things like this before, that I’ve done them while we’ve been together,” he lifts an eyebrow, and Stiles says nothing. Does nothing. Just stares and listens, his eyes drying up as the tears finally stop. “It was just never anyone you’ve cared about. What’s the difference?”

What’s the difference? Drug peddling scumbags that would’ve shot Derek right back if given the chance, and Chris? Is there a difference? Can we sit and decide whose life matters and whose simply does not, is Derek allowed to play God like that, is this okay, is this how Stiles’ life is going to be, is this…?

“If you’re angry with me or you’re freaked out, I understand,” Derek nods his head. “But, baby. I only did it for you.”

One thought, and only one, passes through Stiles’ mind after Derek says this. It’s an insane thing to say, yes, but then, it really shouldn’t strike Stiles that way.

Because, and this is the thought that Stiles is having even as Derek steps closer to him…this is what Stiles had meant, way at the beginning, when he said that he had control over what Derek does. Stiles hadn’t even asked, hadn’t even considered it, but he didn’t need to.

Derek killed his abuser, once and for all. It’s over, once and for all. And yes, there are complicated emotions warring it out in Stiles’ head right now, but that’s the one that’s winning over all the rest of him. His abuser is gone. He can’t hurt anybody else. Least of all, Stiles.

Stiles turns all the way around and walks into Derek’s arms. As he comes closer, Derek opens them up all wide and big and strong, and Stiles melts against his chest as the arms enclose him and hold him tight and safe. “I hated him,” Stiles murmurs into Derek’s shirt, and Derek rubs circles around Stiles’ back. For the first time in his life, for the first time since it happened and Stiles nearly fell into a hole he could’ve never come back from, Stiles says the words out loud. Just quietly, barely above a whisper, so only Derek can hear them. “He raped me.”

As if it’s a counterpoint, Derek says, “I killed him.”

Stiles laughs. It’s this insane, emotionally raw thing that comes from a place of absurdity From a place of relief – the thought that he’s finally, finally free and no one can ever hurt him again, not while Derek is around. He laughs, covering his mouth with his hand, and he laughs, and he laughs, and he laughs, feeling light. There are so many bursting emotions, and Derek is who he is, but Stiles focuses only on what he wants to. He’s good at that.

Burn in hell, Chris, he thinks. Fucking rot where you belong.

Chapter Text

“Stiles, listen – I know that I made some bad decisions and I didn’t, ah…handle anything the right way. I realize that you’re, ah…an adult. You can make your own choices. Um. I don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but there’s little to no reason for us to not talk to each other. You know, I had a revelation the other day. When I got the call about Christopher I just…remembered a time in my life when I thought I was gonna lose you and you and I are all each other got in the whole world,” his dad gets choked up right at this part, and Stiles covers his face with his hands while Derek raises his eyebrows and makes a face of genuine disbelief. “I don’t like Derek and I never will. But I love you. Give me a call back, okay? Please call me back, son. I miss you, kid.”

The message ends and Stiles turns to Derek expectantly, eyes big in his head, waiting for a reaction. Derek more or less just adjusts his Rolex on his wrist and makes a bit of a face like he’s unimpressed.

Stiles sometimes has to remind himself that Derek’s familial life is…nothing. He may not remember what it’s like to even have a family, anymore. This is one of those moments.

“What do I do?” Stiles whines, grabbing Derek by the arm with both hands and shaking him a bit, as if trying to pour the answer out from one of his ears.

Derek goes along with it for a moment before shrugging Stiles’ hands off of him, swatting them away. “Do you want to call him back?”

“Yeah,” he says this like it’s obvious. “He’s my dad, and he’s not wrong. He’s all I got.”

With an intense eye, Derek says, “you’ve got me.”

“And you’ve got me,” Stiles counters as he sidles a bit closer to him, pressing skin to skin. “But if your sister were to walk through that door right now –“

Derek snorts, like it’s so absurd.

“…don’t pretend like you wouldn’t remember that family is important.”

He doesn’t seem to have much of a response to that. He adjusts his watch some more, frowning with a furrowed brow without meeting Stiles’ eyes. “So why don’t you call back?”

“Because it’s complicated. Obviously. I’m with you, and you’re…” he trails off, struggling to find exactly the right words to use anymore. It feels almost too simple to boil him down to “drug lord” anymore, when there’s a lot more to it than that, but then again, maybe there isn’t. Maybe it’s the label that sometimes freaks Stiles out most of all. “…not his favorite. And he’s gonna be around more if we start talking and that’s more opportunities for him to find something out that he shouldn’t and I don’t want you to go to prison, daddy, I don’t want anyone to get in trouble and I don’t –“

“You’re thinking too much,” Derek says, effectively cutting Stiles off. He’s good at doing that, whenever Stiles loses track of himself. He has this no-nonsense voice that he uses like Stiles really is freaking out over something that just isn’t worth it, and it works almost every time. Stiles takes a deep breath and listens as Derek speaks again. “I’m a ghost, remember? The worst thing he’ll find out about me is that I have tons of porn of his son on my phone.”

“Oh, God…” Stiles covers his burning face. “Please don’t let that happen. I’m begging.”

He laughs, and his body shakes with it. “I would sooner eat this phone than let him see any of those pictures.”

“So you think I should call back,” he says, voice unsure. Derek looks right at him and shrugs, one shoulder lifting up.

“If that’s what you want, then yes, that’s what I think.”

“But if I said that I don’t want to call him…?”

Another shrug. “If that’s what you wanted.”

Stiles reaches out and flicks him directly on the nose, to which he mostly just scrunches his face up and then smiles. “Useless.”

“I’d love to solve all your problems for you, you know that,” he pats Stiles gently on the head, before standing from the table and moving over to the window, looking out over the city with a tense look on his face. “This one’s on you.”

Yeah. This one’s on Stiles. It’s his mess, anyway. One could argue that it’s Derek’s mess too because Derek is the god damn drug lord who’s causing all the problems to begin with, but then it’s not really Derek’s fault that he is who he is.

Or is it? Stiles can’t tell anymore. All he knows for sure is that he didn’t have to kill Christopher, but then again, Christopher didn’t have to treat Stiles the way that he did. And he knows that Derek doesn’t have to sell drugs, but then again, he wouldn’t have the money he does if he didn’t do what he does.

Everything is too muddled. Stiles just wants a blanket, a movie, and his Derek-shaped pillow. No more of these real decisions, real life, real problems.

Derek goes off to work with a goodbye kiss for Stiles, and then Stiles sits at the dining room table picking apart his chocolate chip muffin with his fingers. His phone sits next to him, but he doesn’t touch it, aside from putting it in his pocket when he stands to go to his own work. He goes, and sits at his desk and writes his bullshit and stares out the window, reclining in his swivel chair and clicking his pen.

What’s a good reason to not talk to his father? (Derek could go to prison if he slipped and said too much one day.) Is Derek worth not speaking to his dad? (Derek is the only person who’s ever really understood him.) The Sheriff couldn’t really figure anything out, could he? (Derek may be very good at covering up his tracks, but Stiles would be naïve to think that the Sheriff won’t be surveilling Derek twice as hard as he ever did before, if only because of the circumstances.)

What the fuck, Stiles thinks, poking at his packed lunch. He wishes Derek were poor and lived in a shoebox apartment and had a job as a writer, just like him.

Then, maybe they never would have met.

Stiles picks up his phone with a heaving sigh, and finds his father in his contacts. It’s biting the bullet.

Perhaps literally.

***

“I just don’t think you need the same shirt in six different colors,” Stiles tosses a burnt orange button down on top of his discard pile, shaking his head as he flits through hanger after hanger. “You need the same shirt in three colors, max. It’s incredible I need to say this to you,” he finds a light blue shirt that would look awful with Derek’s complexion and tosses it aside with a gagging noise, “I’ve seen you wear one color since the day I met you. Black, diet black, and black zero. Oh, purple? Wear the purple.”

He holds a royal purple button down out and waves it around at Derek, who’s crouched on the floor counting money and shoving it into a safe hidden behind a mountain of clothing. He looks up and sees the shirt, so Stiles waves it harder. “Purple makes me look like a plum,” he argues, focusing back on the task at hand. He counts a stack of hundred dollar bills, muttering the total under his breath as he counts, and counts, and counts…

“Purple makes you look like a prince, or something,” he insists, holding the fabric against his body. “I’d wear it if only you weren’t a size XXXXL.”

“You’d wear it if only you weren’t a size negative S.”

“Stop making fun of my skeleton body!” Stiles shouts, scandalized as he clutches the shirt against his body.

“So you can bodyshame me,” he slaps a rubber band on his pile and stuffs it into the safe, “but when I do it to you –“

“I’m the innocent one of our relationship,” he points to himself and bats his eyelashes to prove his point, “I don’t know any better. Please wear the purple?”

Derek heaves a sigh and pushes more money into his safe, shooting Stiles a bit of a look. It’s his Stiles is being pushy but it’s not like I can say no to him face. Stiles is getting used to it. “If you really want me to, yeah, I’ll wear the purple.”

“And never wear light blue. Why do you have so many colors in here? I’ve never even seen you in half of these.”

“Why do I have so many clothes in the closet where I keep the unlaundered money?” He lifts a brow, slamming his safe shut and then safely tucking it away behind a mountain of rainbow colors Stiles has never seen him in. “I wonder.”

Ah. Stiles blinks and then makes a face – imagine being so rich you’d buy hundred dollar button downs just to stick them in a closet to hide more money. It’s unfathomable, but here Stiles is seeing it with his own two eyes.

“Here. Want this?” Derek tosses Stiles a short stack of hundred’s, which Stiles catches and raises his eyebrows at.

“Uh…yeah?” He counts, up to a thousand. Licks his lips and thinks of all the top ramen this would’ve bought him in college. Or Kraft. Or, how much of his mother’s hospital bills he could’ve paid off with this had his father ever given him the shot. He tucks the bills into his pocket and thinks about how he’s never had a thousand dollars cash just on his person at any given point in time, while Derek has likely had millions in a brief case before, walking around like any other normal person on any other normal day.

“C’mon,” he jerks his head in the direction of the closet exit, taking two steps in that direction before checking to see if Stiles is following him. “Movie?”

“Yes,” Stiles agrees, shuffling out behind him before pressing his body right up against his and rubbing a bit affectionately, wrapping his arms around his neck and kissing him on the cheek. “Thank you for the money.”

“It was a surplus,” he says by way of explanation, but accepts his kisses all the same without complaint. A surplus, Stiles muses – like they got more than they should’ve? Someone miscounted? He can’t launder another thousand through without it seeming illegitimate?

They sit on the couch and Stiles curls against Derek happily, while Derek hands Stiles off the remote because he still has Netflix rule over this entire apartment. He clicks through titles and sighs, pulling the blanket out to drape over both he and Derek comfortably.

Derek accepts his half of the blanket and wraps his arm around Stiles as if in protection, leaning down to kiss him on the top of the head. Some silence passes, as Stiles clicks through and through movie after movie, and then Derek clears his throat.

He says, “hey you uh –“ and then clears his throat again, like a nervous tick. “…you haven’t said much of anything about the other night.”

Stiles pauses for a moment, and then keeps going, like it doesn’t bother him at all. “Which night?”

“You know which one,” Derek says back in a quiet voice, pressing his lips against Stiles’ temple. “Look, you can pretend all you want, but I know what I do disturbs you. Even if it was the right thing to do.”

Stiles wonders if murder is ever truly the right answer. He had been hysterically gleeful in the immediate wake of the news that his abuser was dead, yes, but he had a hard time sleeping that night. Not just because of the memories of the things that Christopher had done to him, but because someone he had once loved was dead.

And the man who was responsible for his death was lying right next to him. It would keep any decent person awake. But then, since when is Stiles pretending he’s decent?

“Baby,” Derek prompts gently when Stiles is quiet for too long, lost in his own thoughts. “Talk to me. Say something. It’s okay to say anything you want, you know. You can’t offend me.”

Stiles pretends to be fascinated with the Netflix choices, but really, as he clicks through, he’s barely reading the titles. His mouth goes a bit dry and his throat itches, so he clears it and swallows and furrows his brow like he’s really focusing on his movie decision. After a couple seconds of this, Derek takes the remote and tosses it aside, taking Stiles’ chin as a way to force their eyes to meet.

Derek’s eyes are hazel and light, but there’s always something darker lurking behind the irises. “I want you to talk to me,” he pushes, and Stiles flicks his eyes off to the corner of the room and purses his lips.

“I dunno what to say,” he mumbles, which is the honest to God truth. “Like, he made my life a living hell and now he’s dead. What more is there to talk about?”

“Do you repress a lot?” Derek asks, and Stiles looks away and shakes his head like he’s going to laugh. He does laugh, because it’s funny for Derek to talk about things being repressed. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I could get you into some of the best therapy money can buy.”

I need therapy?” He’s shrill as he says this, and Derek looks at him all stern and serious. “That’s rich, coming from you.”

“I don’t understand why you’re angry with me,” Derek shakes his head and frowns even more deeply, while Stiles flicks his eyes away and pretends to not be upset. “I just wish you’d talk to me more, I think you’d feel better if you –“

Stiles moves to get up off the couch and to run away from this entire conversation, but Derek grabs him and pulls him back down so he thumps onto the cushions, wrapped up in his arms and held close against him. “Did my killing Christopher disturb you or not?” He demands, and Stiles grits his teeth and looks away again. “Baby. Look at me. Hey,” he takes Stiles’ chin again, this time gentler, and angles his face back to look him in the eye. “Did it?”

It feels almost shameful to admit it. His lower lip trembles and he just wants to vanish, to disappear, to go back to five minutes ago when they were laughing and joking and pretending like they were normal and like Derek wasn’t counting drug money five feet away from him. “Most of what you do disturbs me,” he says, and Derek blinks and doesn’t seem surprised. “My dad isn’t stupid.”

“Apparently, he is.” Derek smiles. “I’ve been making money right under his nose for years. The fact that I’m fucking his son now shouldn’t have any bearing on how in danger I am or am not.”

“It’s one wrong move, Derek,” he sighs. “You know it is. Just one. Just one. And he wouldn’t hesitate. Why do you think I begged you not to go after Theo?”

Derek’s jaw tics, like the reminder that he let that battle in particular go makes him go almost batty with rage inside his own head. He squelches it down all the same, taking a deep breath in through his nose and then letting it out. “I don’t make wrong moves,” he says in a calculated tone of voice. “I could make it look like an accident, I do it all the time.”

“Derek,” Stiles says his name disproving and scared and quiet, shaking his head. “I want you to…” stop, he thinks, but the words die out in his throat. I want you to stop. “…I want you to be safe, okay?”

A big hand reaches out and cups his face, cradling it gently in warm skin. It rubs, soothing away everything with gentle swipes, and Stiles leans into the touch and wishes it were this simple. Just touching each other, and nothing else. No more strings. No more bullshit. Just them.

“If he comes after you again, I don’t care what you say about it,” the words are as harsh as his touch is gentle. “I’ll kill him and I won’t think twice about it. I don’t think you realize I’d risk prison just to keep you safe – Erica’s right about that. You’ve made me into a fucking idiot.”

Stiles leans into his touch, and he wonders absently if there’s nothing that Derek wouldn’t do just for his own wellbeing. Except the one obvious thing.

Except that one.

“I’ll get rid of all your ex-boyfriends, if you want me to. I’ll get rid of anyone who looks at you wrong,” he shrugs, like it’s nothing to him. How many people has he gotten rid of, Stiles wonders, and then he realizes he doesn’t much care. “Does that bother you?”

Stiles blinks. “No,” he says, because he’s crazy. This entire thing is crazy. Stiles is starting to suspect that he has no way out – nowhere else to go, no one to turn to. He’s in this now.

He sold his soul.

***

Stiles wakes up on a Tuesday morning with a pounding headache, a sore throat, shivering underneath the sheets in the middle of June. He groans and buries his face in his pillow, his entire body feeling like one giant ache. “Nooooo,” he moans into the stuffing, pounding his hand down on the mattress.

One thing that Stiles is a gigantic, unforgivable baby about, is getting sick. You’d think he were dying from the way he acts about even getting the common cold. He starts demanding hospitalization at the slightest twinge in his throat, sulking underneath blankets and having Scott wait on him hand and foot.

“I have to call into work,” he sniffles, pulling the sheets up higher over his shivering skin. “I want to kill myself.”

Derek appears as a shadow looming over him at first, and then Stiles looks directly up at him. Without saying a word, he reaches a big hand out and palms at Stiles’ forehead, cocking his head to the side as he feels the warmth on his skin. “You’ve got a fever,” he assesses, as if Stiles can’t feel that he fucking has a fever all over his body.

“Just bury me outside, in the sunshine.”

“Okay,” Derek rolls his eyes, patting Stiles on the back. “Call into work. I’ll go out and get you some medicine before heading to work, okay?” He smooths Stiles’ hair away from his sweaty forehead, smiling down at him all fond. “Poor baby.”

“I knowww,” he whines, pulling the sheet over his face as he thinks of strangling himself with the fabric. “It’s not worth treating. Just leave me here to rot.”

Derek doesn’t even grace that with a response. He pats Stiles on the head again, before pulling the sheet back against Stiles’ protests and shivering to plop Stiles’ phone into his hand. “Call.” Stiles grumbles, but putters around in his contacts before finding the name of his boss, pressing it to his ear as he watches Derek’s retreating back fleeing the room.

Stiles has never called in before, so his boss is understanding and wishes him to feel better, will accept his article via e-mail whenever he feels up to it. He lies underneath the sheets in Derek’s silent apartment for what feels like a decade before Derek returns with rustling bags, dumping them all onto the bedside table and rummaging through them while Stiles stares with bleary eyes.

“Dayquil, cough drops, some Tylenol to reduce the fever,” he reads out, putting each individual item down as he says their names. “I put some cans of soup for you in the cabinet and there’s stuff to make grilled cheese, as well. Ginger ale and ice cream.”

“Flowers for my grave.”

“Poor, melodramatic Stiles.” He pats Stiles on the cheek and then frowns, probably feeling just how warm he is. “Take a cold shower, okay?”

“God, that sounds awful.”

“Take some of this Tylenol,” without waiting to hear Stiles’ affirmative, he rattles the pills and dumps two out into his palm, holding them and an opened fizzling bottle of ginger ale out for him to take. Stiles does, reluctantly, sitting up even as his body protests. He swallows the pills with the soda, making a face the entire time, while Derek watches like a hawk. “I’d stay home and baby you like you clearly want me to,”

Stiles makes big eyes, pleading, but Derek finishes that thought.

“…but I have things I can’t rearrange. You’ll just have to suffer in peace.”

This is one of the few times Derek has actually said no to Stiles, so he figures it must be pretty important stuff. Still, he’s a brat and he’s cranky and he hates being sick, so he pouts and swaddles himself in the sheets again, sniffling dramatically as he lies back down among the pillows. “When you come home, there’ll be nothing but a dead body for you to –“

“That’s enough dramatics for one day, don’t you think?” He chides, reaching out to fluff Stiles’ pillows for him. “I’ll call and check-in, and Heidi will be around if you want someone to make you something.”

“She’d poison it and you know it,” he mutters bitterly, and Derek gives him a look. Stiles shuts up and pouts some more instead, not meeting Derek’s eyes.

“You’ll survive, I promise. Take that shower and take your medicine.”

Derek leaves Stiles with a kiss on his hot forehead, vanishing out the door in a bustle. Stiles lies there and listens to the door opening and closing, blinking up at the ceiling and feeling death’s icy grip locking around his neck. After a solid twenty minutes of cursing the day he was born, he reluctantly pulls himself out of bed, shuffling over to the bathroom wrapped in sheets, shivering the entire way.

He turns on the water in the shower and hisses at the cold. Shedding the sheet off his body he climbs in and shakes underneath the stream, perfunctorily using body wash just for something to do while he tries to rinse the fever out.

He steps out and feels a bit better, sniffling still, and dresses in one of Derek’s sweaters – several sizes too big for him – and a pair of soft sweatpants he pulls from the bottom of one of his own drawers.

He takes Nyquil at eight AM, and passes out shortly after.

When he wakes, it’s three in the afternoon and his fever has broken. He feels like a dog’s asshole still, stuffed up with a headache and a cough, so he wraps himself in a blanket and moseys into the kitchen. Heidi is indeed here, scrubbing furiously at a stain Stiles had left on the countertop when he spilled red wine. He told her he tried to lift it himself but couldn’t do it so she should just leave it and Derek will replace the countertop, but apparently, she doesn’t give up that easy – so here she is, gloves on, scrubbing like a madwoman.

Stiles tips his head in greeting. “Hey,” he says, and she scowls at him.

“Derek tells me you’re ill,” she gives him an assessing gaze. She must figure that judging by the sight of Stiles alone – bedhead, glassy eyes, in PJ’s mid-afternoon and wrapped in a blanket – Derek was not kidding or lying. “I’ll cook you a cheese.”

“I can make it myself, but that’s nice,” he insists. And then she insists.

She bustles over, ripping the gloves off with harsh slaps against her skin, and starts moving him away from the pots and pans, like he can’t be trusted with them. “No. I’ll cook the cheese, you sit.”

“But I –“

“What kind of soup?” She demands, voice gruff. She pulls open the cabinet to reveal can after can, choice after choice, and Stiles accepts his fate. Heidi is going to cook his lunch whether he likes it or not.

“Extra noodles,” he rasps, and she selects the can and makes quick work of pulling a pot and a pan out and setting them on the stove, shooing him away with big hands. Stiles shuffles out of the kitchen and into the living room, where he plops himself down on the couch and wraps himself deeper into his blankets. She is not a very nice woman, but she is at the same time; like the lady from the Blind Side.

This is a feverish thought. Stiles checks his head and feels cooler, but maybe only just under 100.

The soup and grilled cheese arrives as Stiles turns on an episode of Portlandia, his go-to sick show. He curls up and munches, hungrier than he realized he was, and somewhere through the second half of the sandwich, his phone buzzes in his sweatpants pocket.

It’s Derek.

“Feeling better?” He asks, voice tinny on the other line. They don’t talk on the phone so much anymore, and why would they? They live together and practically take up residence in each other’s assholes for how obsessed they are with each other.

“You mean do I still crave death?” He spoons himself some soup and swallows. “Every second of this nightmare, I crave the sweet release my demise would bring.”

“What are you doing?” Derek ignores him, which is probably wise – Stiles will take any sign of pity and run with it, and Derek knows that.

“Grilled cheese and soup. Portlandia.”

“Aw, so much suffering.”

“It’s like The Shining, but with more cheese.” Derek huffs a laugh and Stiles leans back and wishes Derek were the one here making him grilled cheese, but he’ll settle for what he can get. “What are you doing? What was so important you couldn’t stay home and coddle your sick boyfriend?”

Derek makes a non-committal noise that Stiles can’t read from tone alone. “This and that.”

“Top secret bad guy stuff,” Stiles clarifies for him, and Derek makes another one of those unreadable noises – which must be a yes. “While I suffer…”

“I should be home around ten, okay? I expect you to be deep into a Nyquil knock-out by then.”

“Okay,” Stiles huffs, playing with what’s left of his soup. “Call again?”

“Yes,” he agrees instantly, and Stiles smiles and bites at his finger. “Whatever you want. Feel better.”

Stiles spends some more time watching Portlandia, hours’ worth of it, and then shuffles into the freezer at around six to pilfer the ice cream Derek said he had bought. It’s Stiles’ favorite flavor, and he cradles it against his chest as he melts into the couch and eats spoonful after spoonful. Calories don’t actually exist when you’re sick, he reasons, finishing off the entire pint with absolutely no regrets to speak of.

It’s around the time he’s sick of Portlandia and surfing for something else that he hears an odd clanging sound outside Derek’s windows. Seeing as how he’s on the very top floor of a very expensive building, he doesn’t think very much of it first – probably just the wind, rattling something outside.

Then, it continues. It gets louder.

Stiles furrows his brow and looks out the windows and sees only the night, for miles on end. Glowing city lights down below and the circular tendrils of cul-de-sacs, the long lines of highway lights stretching out and away from the city into the mountains. Stiles frowns and looks back to the television, only to hear the same sound again.

If he didn’t know any better, he’d swear it was the sound of someone climbing up the fire escape. But he does know better. There’s security in this building, and Derek has got cameras set up all the fuck over the place, and there’s someone watching on a screen somewhere, he knows it.

Or, actually, he doesn’t know that. He’s never asked. For all he knows, Derek only watches his security tapes if something happens and no one is actively watching anything that’s going on right now.

The clanging starts up again, and this time there’s simply no mistaking it. It’s footsteps, heavy booted ones, grinding on top of the metal grating of the fire escape. Stiles hasn’t spent a lot of time outside the building staring up at what, exactly, the fire escapes look like, but he does remember making a mental note of the fact that the dumpster on the back side of the building, the one where the windows to Derek’s living room overlook, is perched conveniently below the ladder leading up to the first landing of the fire escapes.

And it goes all the way up, up, and up – to Derek’s balcony.

Stiles is off the couch in a heartbeat, adrenaline coursing through him. He’s all muddled in the head from the cold medicine and his body is fatigued and weak with illness, but terror wakes him up well enough.

There’s a brief moment where he thinks that there was a time when something as trivial as this would not strike the fear of fucking god in him. There was a time before he met Derek when weird sounds outside of windows in the mid-evening were raccoons, or squirrels, or someone who’s drunk and confused about where he’s supposed to be.

That time is behind him. There are real people out there who do bad things. Stiles has met them before.

Footsteps, harsh and quick, and Stiles fumbles in the cushions for his phone. He has to call Derek, he thinks, so Derek can take care of it. Then, he realizes that whoever it is, they’re right outside. Even if he did call Derek, his hysterical mind thinks even as he’s still frantically digging in his blanket and the pillows for his phone, Derek can’t even be here for ten minutes. Stiles doesn’t have ten minutes.

He switches trajectories, flinging himself onto the coffee table and picking up the only thing he can find that he could possibly use as a weapon. It’s a large glass paper weight, one that’s heavy enough to crack someone’s skull open if thrown the right way.

Stiles doesn’t know when he started thinking like that. About skulls being cracked open and the best way to do it.

He wields the thing all the same, breath coming out harsh and quick in the silence of the penthouse. Netflix starts playing an automatic trailer for the show whose icon he’s hovering over – which just so happens to be American Horror Story. The music plays, and Stiles shivers and traces his eyes all along the windows.

There are just so many of them, and it’s so dark. He can’t see anything.

With a gulp, he inches his way over to the panel of switches on the wall that Derek had taken the time to mark up with tape after Stiles had moved in. Likely because he was sick of Stiles trying to flick on the light for the hall and instead flicking off the kitchen light while Derek was trying to eat.

His fingers hover over the switch marked B in Derek’s scrawl, and he grits his teeth. He should really call Derek.

He flicks the light, and jumps back with a huge shout when he sees there is indeed a figure standing outside on Derek’s balcony. He nearly throws the fucking paper weight through the glass at them out of sheer terror and fear of the unknown, but luckily, his shout dies down and he takes the time to actually look at who’s standing out there.

It’s Isaac. He’s puffing on a cigarette with a smug grin on his face, stepping all the way up to the glass and tapping one long finger on it a bit menacingly. Stiles breathes out a sigh of relief and anger, tossing the paper weight away onto the couch with a huge plop. Motherfucker. He almost shit his heart out of his pants.

Let me in,” Isaac mouths, grin curling up his around his lips. Stiles considers just turning the light off on him and leaving him to rot out there all by himself no matter how much he pounded on the glass, but then he thinks Derek wouldn’t care for that so much.

So, annoyed as he is, he traipses across the carpet and unlatches the sliding door, pushing it open to let the cool Summer night air breeze over his skin. Isaac stomps his cigarette out with a big boot, even though Derek has an ash tray and a table all set up for that exact purpose, and looks like the cat who got the cream. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” his voice is taunting, and Stiles narrows his eyes as he steps back to let the taller man inside.

He steps like a cat, sure and cautious at the same time. Must be a learned trait.

“You fucking nearly made me piss myself,” Stiles corrects, and Isaac snickers and then somehow manages to stifle it down behind his hand.

“Oh, who’d you think I was?” He slowly turns back around to face Stiles all the way, his eyebrows up in his hairline. His eyes are eerie blue. “Theo Raeken?”

Stiles’ heart pitter-patters, and he looks away, down at the ground. Because yes. Yes, that’s exactly who Stiles was terrified was going to be outside of that window just now.

With a scoff, Isaac rolls his eyes and throws his hand up in the air. “Yeah, Derek told me about that.”

“He did?”

“He tells me nearly everything. After all, it’s my job to know.” Isaac enters the room entirely and takes in the whole sight of it – the blankets on the couch thrown all over the place. The empty pint of ice cream with the spoon still sticking out of it. Netflix. Dirty dishes on the coffee table. “What’s going on in here?”

Stiles hugs his arms over his chest. Something about Isaac makes him a bit self-conscious, like he’s assessing every last piece of him to figure out some kind of puzzle. “I’m sick,” he says, and Isaac turns to look directly at him with a shrewd gaze. “And what do you mean it’s your job?”

Isaac breathes through his nose. “I know everything. How do you think I got into your ex-boyfriend’s apartment?”

A chill goes down Stiles’ spine. It occurs to him just then that he’s standing in the same room as someone who has killed people. And not just the way Derek has – because Derek has killed out of necessity or for his own life or the life of someone he cares about or has simply just made the kill order.

But Isaac kills people on a professional level. It’s what he’s good at.

“You wouldn’t be so afraid of Theo Raeken if you’d just let Derek take care of it,” he wags his finger in Stiles’ face, like he’s a naughty little kid who’s done something stupid. “But I could always tell you were more skittish than you ever let on.” He waves his hand. “I suppose you don’t want to hear about how he begged for his life.”

“Isaac,” Stiles warns, voice going tight. He doesn’t want to go there. “Don’t upset me.”

Isaac’s mouth twitches, because he knows what Stiles means. One word from Stiles to Derek about how Isaac did this or Isaac did that, and Isaac will be in boiling hot trouble as far as Derek is concerned. To this day, Stiles doesn’t know or understand what it means to be on Derek’s bad side or to earn his ire – frankly, he doesn’t want to know. “I came to check on you, per captain’s orders.”

“Derek sent you to babysit me?”

This time, his mouth twitches for a whole nother reason. “Your words, not mine. You know, if you’d let Derek take care of Theo Raeken…” he repeats, tapping his chin with a dubious smirk.

Stiles might not need Isaac the Babysitter if Derek had just killed Theo to begin with. But things are…more complicated than that. It’s possible that Isaac sees the world as black and white in a way that’s deviant. Where black are people who get to live and white are people who get to die, no in-betweens. He’s told who to kill and he does it, sometimes never even questioning why.

There are just too many levels, because Stiles examines every single angle of every single decision. Isaac just pulls triggers.

“Well, I’m fine, clearly.” He gestures to the room, where there’s no evidence of anything happening aside from nesting.

Ignoring this, Isaac jumps over the back of the couch and thumps his ass down into the cushions, settling in right beside the spot that Stiles declared as his with all his blankets. “What are we watching?” He asks, leaning back into the pillows while Stiles stares at him with his lips pursed and arms crossed.

There’s no way he’s going to sit there and watch Netflix with Isaac. There’s just no way.

Still, it doesn’t seem like he has very many other options. What’s he going to do, go sulk in his bedroom until Derek gets home like a petulant child? Right.

Begrudgingly, he pads across the carpet and sets himself down in his blankets, right next to where Isaac has spread himself out with his feet up on Derek’s nice coffee table. Seeing this, he frowns. “Derek doesn’t like shoes on the furniture,” he says, and Isaac turns to give him a look.

“Teacher’s pet, much?”

“This is an expensive coffee table,” Stiles defends, patting the wood even as Isaac is rolling his eyes. Both feet slowly drop down onto the ground, and Stiles leans back into the cushions, satisfied with himself.

He finds his phone after sitting on it, finally, and makes quick work of sending Derek the angry red emoji sixteen times in a row.

Daddy, 10:01 PM : Isaac is there, huh?
Me, 10:02 PM : The joyless luck club is in attendance, yes. You could’ve mentioned that to me – he scared the shit out of me sneaking up the fire escape.
Daddy, 10:04 PM : I don’t think he’s entered a room the normal way in years. It’s in his blood. Sorry if he annoys you, but he’s the only one I could get on short notice.

“Texting daddy?” Isaac taunts, leaning over Stiles’ shoulder to try and get a peek at his screen. Stiles moves away from him with a scowl, shielding his phone screen with his body and hunching over it while Isaac chortles an amused snicker.

Me, 10:05 PM : Aren’t you just about to be home? I don’t get why he needs to be here.
Daddy, 10:06 PM : I’m tied up. I’m not making it home tonight.
Me, 10:06 PM : !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT……………………
Daddy, 10:07 PM : I know, I’m sorry.

Stiles puts his phone down in his lap for a moment and just sulks. Isaac clicks through titles and seems hellbent on picking something he and Stiles will both be interested in, asking Stiles questions about what kind of genres he likes and if he wants a movie or a show, and Stiles mutters one word responses and scratches at his cheek.

It’s not Derek’s fault. He’s a busy man. But he’s still upset, and sick, and he’s trapped here with a member of the Addams Family for comfort.

Me, 10:09 PM : But I still don’t understand why I need to be watched like some invalid?????
Daddy, 10:10 PM : Ha.
Daddy, 10:11 PM : You’re a drug lord’s best weakness. Don’t play stupid.

Stiles puts his thumb over his mouth as he reads the text, again and again, the words making sense and not at the same time.

Daddy, 10:12 PM : This is something you may have to get used to.
Daddy, 10:13 PM : Isaac is annoying but harmless, trust me. At least, where you’re concerned he’s harmless. He’s never had many friends so he’s a bit socially off.
Stiles, 10:14 PM : Gee I wonder why!!!
Daddy, 10:15 PM : Play nice. I’ll be home first thing in the morning.

Stiles shoves his phone onto the coffee table and puts his chin in his palm, while Isaac chatters mindlessly about a show he watched recently that he thinks Stiles might like even though he has no basis for thinking this. “Movie,” Stiles finally suggests, accepting his fate as he leans back into the couch and pops another cough drop into his mouth. “Thriller.”

“Didn’t we get enough of that when I made the mistake of standing on your balcony?”

Stiles gives him a look that suggests one more word will land him in the hot seat with Derek, which shuts him up but makes him smirk all the same. He wonders, as they sift through titles and finally settle on one that looks vaguely interesting, if this is a snapshot of the rest of his life.

Derek had told him to get used to it. Is this what it’s like? Treated like one of Derek’s fine possessions that he has to have watched over and guarded? An expensive piece of jewelry behind glass, or an untouchable artwork in a museum somewhere?

Derek doesn’t mean for it to be like that. He just wants Stiles to be safe. The trouble is, that it is like that. Stiles had nearly thrown a paper weight through someone’s head because he was scared he was about to be offed just to get to Derek – this is what it is.

He’s a bargaining chip and a liability. Derek’s favorite bargaining chip and liability, yes, but all the same. A thing people can use to make more money.

And money, Stiles would know better than anyone, is something that people do crazy things to get.

***

Me, 6:45 PM : Hey, I really need to come ):
Daddy, 6:46 PM : That is bad news, because I’m trapped here until midnight or one at least.
Me, 6:48 PM : NOOOO IT’S AN EMERGENCY ):
Daddy, 6:50 PM : I’d have you come over so I could take care of it but I’m unreasonably booked tonight. I’m sorry, I know how difficult of a time this is for you.
Me, 6:52 PM : I don’t appreciate the sarcasm DADDY
Me, 6:52 PM : You wouldn’t know anything about my struggle, you can jerk off any time you want! You probably already have today!
Daddy, 6:54 PM : Ha, I certainly did.
Me, 6:55 PM : Can’t you make an exception to the rule just this once plz plz plz plz
Daddy, 6:58 PM : Nope. It’s my strictest rule, you know that.
Daddy, 6:59 PM : Also one of the few I even have for you. It should be easier for you to follow.
Me, 7:01 PM : Don’t wag your finger at me!!! PLEASE just this once PLEASE?
Daddy, 7:03 PM : N. O. No.
Me, 7:04 PM : Fine.
Daddy, 7:05 PM : Oh, attitude? Really?
Me, 7:06 PM : UGGHHH no, okay? Sorry, no attitude.
Me, 7:06 PM : I respect your rule, sir.
Daddy, 7:07 PM : Good.
Daddy, 7:08 PM : I’ll be home later, just wait for me, like a good boy.

***

Stiles has not come from anything else but Derek’s dick or Derek’s touch or will in…well shit. They’ve almost been going out for an entire year. Case and point, Stiles hasn’t come of his own free volition in almost an entire. Fucking. Year. When he lays it out like that for him to examine, staring sadly down at the bulge in his jeans as he sits on the couch, it sounds insane to him. Like, it couldn’t possibly be true.

He used to sit in his room watching porn for an hour at a time, almost every night, sometimes twice a night, jerking off like an animal. Lotion all over him, jizz everywhere, tissues spread around the floor. He was an expert masturbator, the best of them, the king of them, and now he’s not even allowed to watch porn anymore.

The sad part is that he got hard watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. Yup. The shame is all over him, on every single inch of his body, but he can’t help what his dick reacts to, all right? But since he can’t watch videos of twinks getting tied up and fucked anymore, his dick will just perk up at anything it finds even mildly interesting.

Most of the time, Stiles is fine with letting Derek control his orgasms. Beyond fine with it, actually, he’s sort of obsessed with the entire idea. But there are times, now and again, where the idea of it doesn’t do anything but turn him on, and then he realizes that it’s not just an idea, it’s a real thing, and he can’t get off.

It turns him on, and he can’t even get off on it when Derek’s not around. It’s a masochism, it really is. Which is what the M in his kind of relationship stands for.

He rubs at his chin and tries to ignore it. He focuses back on Gilmore Girls, eating a couple of M&M’s, but his eyes keep drifting downwards to his cock. He chews his candy, and unbuttons his jeans. Just letting it loose is all, he tells himself, shucking them down his hips a bit to reveal the bulge pulsing against his pink underwear. A little breathing space.

He chews.

Since we’re letting it out, might as well do the panties too. He shucks them down, so his drawn up balls are out alongside his rock hard shaft, the head dribbling a bit of precome. He has this perverse desire to reach out and swipe it away, but he can’t do that. Even that’s against the rules – Derek had been pretty fucking clear about what Stiles could or couldn’t do to his cock anymore.

The list of things he can do are as follows : piss, wash it. The list of things he can’t do is a lot longer. A lot.

He can’t stroke it, he can’t fondle it, he can’t jerk it, he can’t caress his balls, he can’t find friction on it against anything, he can’t fuck anything with it unless given Derek’s express permission, he can’t touch his come or his precome unless Derek wants him to, he can’t rub it, he can’t – well. The point has been understood. The lengths of detail that Derek had gone into were intense, because it’s really and truly one of the few rules Stiles has in their daddy/sub relationship.

Derek could’ve rained him with rules. He could’ve had him on a leash, for Christ’s sake, controlling every thing he does down to the letter – but he’s not into that. He just asks for one, one piece of control over Stiles’ body, and that’s his cock. Stiles had agreed. He’s into it. He loves it. It’s the greatest.

But he peers at his erection now, and thinks that he hasn’t laid hand on his hard cock in nearly a year. He touches it when he pisses, and it’s flaccid, and when he showers, and it’s mostly flaccid then too. What does it feel like, he muses? Can he even remember?

He’s tempted to distract himself by taking a picture of it and sending it to Derek, hoping maybe he’ll see how sad and blue balled it is and take pity on him and let him rub one out, but he knows it’s slim to none anyway. Derek is strict about this one damn thing, and he should really be able to just do as he wants and not touch it. It shouldn’t be this hard, Derek is right.

…except.

Theoretically, if he did touch his cock, who would know? He’s here alone. There are security cameras, yes, but Stiles knows where they are. Heidi isn’t here. Derek isn’t going to be home for hours. And it’s just him, all on his lonesome, and his erection. Derek never has to know. It’s funny how Stiles has never even truly considered it before, but now that he has, and he’s so fucking turned on he can barely think straight, it’s all he can think about.

Derek would never really know. What’s he gonna do, smell it on Stiles? Fucking, yeah right.

Hastily, Stiles stands and pulls his panties up. He leaves his jeans pooled on the floor because who the fuck needs those, and then he waddles with erection-walk down to the bathroom. It’s the guest bathroom, the one Derek never ever goes into, which is the safest bet. Even if some come got somewhere and Stiles missed it and it just sat there as evidence, Derek wouldn’t see it for forever. It would go crusty and unidentifiable.

It’s a fool proof plan.

He closes the door behind him and smells the unfamiliar scent of potpourri instead of how their shared bathroom in the master room smells – like each of their body washes and toothpastes – and shuffles over to the toilet. He pops the lid up and then shucks his panties down and off his body, licking his lips as he stares down at his erection.

He hasn’t done this in so long. His heart is pounding in his chest, because the entire thing is made so much sexier, so much hotter, so much better by the idea that he’s doing something he’s not supposed to do. He’s doing something wrong, that he’d get in huge, huge, huge, trouble for.

The adrenaline shoots through his dick and he grunts, opening up the drawer of the sink and digging around through the never used before toiletries until – yes. A tiny bottle of hand lotion.

He pulls it out hastily and squirts just a bit into his hand, keeping it in his palm as he hovers it over his member. He stares for a moment, blinking.

It’s been. So. Long.

Slowly, he reaches his hand out and spreads the lotion out on his shaft and oh…fuck yeah. Fuck yeah. He strokes, strokes, eyes rolling back into his head. Fuck. Yeah. Grunting like an animal in heat or something, he puts his free palm up on the wall and braces himself, stripping his cock like his very life depends on it with low, guttural noises from the back of his throat. He hasn’t pleased himself without the presence of Derek in so long, he’s honestly forgotten what it’s like to just let loose in a really primal way, you know?

Not that jerking off is better than actual sex, because it never could be. It’s just…different.

It only takes him so long to come in spurts into the toilet water. It plop-plops down into the bowl as he grunts and empties his balls, thrusting up into his hand and panting through his nose. He strips it bare, until he’s completely spent, and then he presses his forehead into his forearm with a heaving pant.

Oh, fuck yeah. That was good.

He flushes the toilet, the evidence vanishing without a trace, and then inspects the ground for any drippings. None. Totally clean. He has to wipe a bit off the toilet bowl and then flush that evidence too, but then it looks just as immaculate as it had in the first place.

Shuffling up to the sink to wash his hands off, he scrubs them and then catches his own eye in the mirror. And then there he is. Self-aware. Looking at himself in the eyes. The entirety of what he just did washing over him.

There he fucking is, like a scoundrel. All red-faced. Cock all satisfied and flaccid against his thigh. Panties on the floor. Hair a mess.

With a deep swallow, turning off the sink, he puts his hand on his face and stares. Holy shit, he thinks, a sinking feeling starting up in his chest.

He just disobeyed Derek. Like, directly. Not drunk. No excuses. He just did something he knew he wasn’t supposed to do, and he did it gleefully at that. Holy shit. He puts both his hands on his face and makes a low, depressed noise from his throat. It’s like a goat crying, or something.

Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no.

But, he reminds himself, in a brief moment of clarity, it’s not like Derek ever has to know! This is something he can genuinely hide from him! There’s no evidence! There’s nothing! No credit card statements this time – there’s only his own knowledge, his own guilty conscience. And Stiles can live with that.

***

Derek comes into the kitchen and Stiles is at the nook, holding a mug with both hands and staring down into his tea with a deep frown. It’s past one AM, and Derek looks worn down and tired. Still, he puts his things down on the island and gives Stiles a big smile, coming over to greet him properly. “You wanna mess around, or you too tired now?”

He’s so genuine. He just wants to make Stiles come. This is so fucking –

“I came,” he blurts, and Derek stops in his tracks and blinks at him in surprise. Spurred on by his guilt, Stiles turns and faces him directly, making eye contact during his confession. “I came, I jerked myself off just like I’m not supposed to, okay? I admit it. I fucking come clean. I went into the guest bathroom because there are no cameras in there and you never go in there,” he points an incriminating finger at the door to said bathroom, and Derek follows the finger and blinks some more, “I closed the door, I took off my underwear and put lotion on my hand, and I jerked myself off into the toilet like a disgusting, bad person. I did that. I admit it.”

In the wake of this, Derek is still and silent for only a second or two. He seems to be processing this information slowly, while Stiles looks at the ground and awaits his certain death. There’s a pause, a way too long one, so Stiles looks up to see what Derek is doing – if he’s going to go cancel Stiles’ Xbox Live or something.

Instead, Stiles looks up to find Derek smiling. Really, really, smiling. In fact, he’s grinning. He seems almost pleased by this information.

And of course he would be. Because – “oh, man,” he laughs, just a little. “You are in trouble.”

Stiles swallows, heavy and thick. “No car?”

Derek smiles at him, like he’s so innocent and naïve and silly. “It’s not that kind of a punishment,” he says, and then jerks his head towards the bedroom. “Come on. Up, let’s go.”

Stiles thinks for a moment about refusing, because he doesn’t want to be punished. He doesn’t necessarily fear what it is that Derek is going to do to him, chiefly because Derek would never do anything totally deplorable to him no matter what and secondly because he knows he deserves it, but he just…doesn’t want to. He wants to be a good boy. He wants Derek to buy him things and give him orgasms and treat him nice and take him to expensive restaurants.

He forgot, because he’s usually so in-line, that he’s expected to act a certain way to deserve the title of good boy. Right. Of course. Now he has to face the music.

Begrudgingly, he stands and shuffles towards Derek, who’s standing there waiting for him in his stupid work outfit that always makes him look like a daddy type. Slacks, nice shoes, button down, sleeves rolled to the elbows, leather belt from a designer whose name Stiles can’t pronounce. It’s a real over my knee type of look, which is fitting. Considering.

Once Stiles is close enough, Derek puts his hand on the back of his neck in a bit of a tight grip and starts guiding him forwards. Toward the bedroom, where certain death awaits him. Stiles drags his feet a bit, but it’s really no use.

They go into the bedroom, and Derek shuts the door behind them. With a flourish of his hand, he commands, “strip,” to Stiles, who blushes but moves his hand down to undo his jeans. He slides them down his hips, while Derek watches him like a hawk, and neatly folds them before setting them down on the little couch at the end of the bed. Then, he pulls his shirt over his head and folds that obediently, while Derek watches with shrewd eyes like one wrong move and Stiles will get another punishment on top of the one he’s already getting.

When Stiles is standing there in just his frilly pink panties, Derek snaps his fingers. “Those too,” he says, and Stiles hesitates only for a second. Then, with a grimace, he takes the panties off and folds them, piling them up with the rest.

There’s something remarkably humiliating and embarrassing, and not in the good sexy way that Stiles likes, about being stark naked, flaccid, shivering, while Derek is fully clothed and observing him like this. It’s a bit nerve-wracking. It’s part of the punishment, Stiles knows, and Derek knows that because he knows Stiles like the back of his hand.

It’s a good dom who knows which buttons to push on his sub.

“Sit,” Derek gestures to the edge of the bed, and Stiles shuffles over quietly and sits down, facing Derek. He folds his hands in his lap, lowers his neck a bit, and swallows. Derek smiles again, putting his thumb over his mouth as if he’s trying to hide it.

“Don’t look so gleeful,” Stiles mutters, and Derek grins a little bit more.

“I wouldn’t talk back to me right now if I were you,” he says, and even with that smile on, Stiles knows that he’s serious. He shuts his mouth and looks down at his hands, frowning and cold. Derek walks in front of him, one pace, and then he does it again, as if he’s thinking. Stiles watches his feet move and bites his lip, wondering what he could possibly want to do to him.

Another ruined orgasm? It would be a fitting punishment.

“Do you remember towards the beginning of our relationship,” Derek starts, pacing still, “when we laid out the basic skeletal groundings for how this whole entire thing was going to work? You can answer.”

“Yes,” Stiles says, and Derek raises an eyebrow. “Yes, daddy,” he corrects quickly, and Derek tips his head and starts pacing again.

“And do you remember the rules I gave you?”

“Yes, daddy.”

“Exactly?”

Stiles flinches a bit. “Yes, daddy.”

He pauses in his pacing, turning to face Stiles directly. He puts his hands behind his back, smiles at him with all his teeth. “Let me hear two and three.”

“Uh –“

“Uh?” Derek cocks his head to the side, grinning. “What’s that?”

“Excuse me,” he corrects, sitting up a bit straighter. “I mean – sorry.”

Derek pulls one hand up and makes a rewind gesture with his finger. “Start over.”

Stiles’ heart pounds in his chest, and he’s not entirely ashamed to admit that his cock twitches at how…dominant Derek is being right now. He clears his throat and breathes out through his nose, trying to get his mind straight. “Number two was that we were exclusive, so we fucked only each other,” he says, and Derek nods. “And number three was that I act appropriately in order to contribute my share to the relationship.”

“Right,” Derek nods, and he stands there and looms over Stiles with this look of pure undiluted glee, because finally. Finally, he gets to punish Stiles again. Derek will probably go on this spiel about oh, he doesn’t want to punish Stiles and oh, he likes it better when Stiles is a good boy – but truth be told, he’s wanted to dominate Stiles like this for a while and he fucking knows it and he’s been waiting for his opportunity. “And number one. The number one rule I gave you,” he taps his chin, as if he honestly can’t remember, and Stiles glares at his hands and feels his face going hot. “Number one means it’s the most important one. Right?”

“Yes, daddy.” Stiles’ voice is low, miserable.

“It’s the one that I expect you to follow exactly. And it’s the one that will have the most severe consequences for being broken. You would think. You wouldn’t know – this is the first time you’ve ever broken this particular rule. You’re going to find out.”

Stiles shivers and looks up at Derek through his eyelashes.

“Tell me again what number one was. My memory’s a bit hazy.”

He sniffles a bit, frowning. “Number one was that I’m not to touch myself under any circumstances without given complete and total permission from daddy.”

“That’s what it was,” Derek says, feigning complete ignorance as if he’s really forgotten. “And what was it that you told me you did earlier today? After you gave me attitude over text message and whined and acted like a brat?”

Oh, boy. Stiles is really, really in for it. He swallows and shrugs his shoulders, opening and closing his mouth. Suddenly, he feels very, very small.

“What was that?” Derek steps closer, grabs Stiles by the chin and forces him to look up and into his face. “I didn’t quite catch it.”

Stiles looks up at him, right in the eyes, and has to clear his throat so his voice doesn’t quiver under the intense scrutiny of…not Derek. Not Derek, and not daddy, but his dom. Sometimes, Derek is just Derek. Sometimes, he’s daddy and he’s the best and he gives Stiles everything he wants.

And then rarely, he’s Sir. This is one of those times.

“I touched myself, daddy,” he admits, and Derek clucks his tongue and shakes his head. “I jerked myself off, and I’m sorry, but I –“

“Ah,” he lifts a single finger, so Stiles quiets immediately. “I don’t want to hear excuses. I don’t want I’m sorry’s. What I want is for you to do what you’re asked, and since you didn’t, you’re going to be punished. Are we clear?”

“But I –“

“One more word and I’ll actually take that car of yours away.”

Stiles shuts his mouth. His jaw clicks with the force of it.

“Now. Let me ask you again, and I expect only the correct answer – are we clear, sweetheart?

He breathes out through his nose. “Yes, sir.”

Finally, Derek releases his hold on Stiles’ chin and takes a few steps back, turning his back on Stiles so he can see the expanse of his shoulders and the breadth of his shoulder blades. Stiles’ cock twitches again and he curses it, because Derek can see every single thing it does right now because he’s completely naked and there’s no hiding it.

“One thing you did do right was tell me the truth. That was very big of you. I never would’ve known otherwise,” he bends down next to the bed, and pulls out one of his Rubbermaid boxes. He tugs it up, places it on the bed behind Stiles’ back so he can’t see it, but he hears the top open and Derek rustling around inside. “As a result, I’ll let you pick your punishment out of three choices. The first is the option you chose from your last punishment, you remember?”

Stiles could never forget. He swallows and the anticipation of this has his adrenaline spiking, sky high, through the roof.

“You can answer,” Derek says, and Stiles clears his throat.

“I remember, yes, sir.”

“Only, with a bit of a twist to match the severity of your transgression. If you pick that one,” something clicking, and then something dropping on top of the bed with a soft thump, “it’ll be nothing but ruined orgasms for a month.”

No. No, no, no, no, no. If that’s option one, Stiles is petrified to hear what the other choices are, but not that one. Please not that one, no fucking way.

“The second will be a series of eight page papers I’ll have you writing once a week for two months,” and not this one either. It’s too humiliating. Stiles knows the subjects will be something that no human person could stretch out to eight pages, but Derek will make him do it and likely punish him worse if he doesn’t meet page quota or doesn’t stay on topic, and Stiles can’t do that once a week for two months. He just can’t. It’d be torturous, and he probably wouldn’t even read them. Or, he’d rip them up in front of Stiles and then give him the next topic.

“And the last is my personal preference,” as he talks, he comes around so that Stiles can see him. He’s holding a box in his hand, a small black box with a red ribbon, done up like one of Stiles’ presents.

But that is no present. Stiles already knows before Derek even has the bow completely off. It falls to the floor, and Stiles swallows thick and heavy as the lid slowly comes off. Derek smiles gently at him, like he’s being gentle or kind when he really, really, isn’t, and bends down to show him the contents of the box.

Stiles stares at it, and then looks up at Derek with big, pleading eyes. “Daddy…” he says, voice low and quiet.

“You don’t have to,” he promises, going genuine for what feels like the first time in ten minutes. “If I were you, I’d pick the papers.”

But Derek wants him to choose the last one. Of course he does. Frankly, as Stiles looks at it, he knows that he deserves this and nothing less – because, yeah. It’s rule number one. And it’s the most important one, and really the only one, and he broke it. He deserves this, he does, so he should just say yes, and do it, and be a good boy, but it’s…

…a cock cage. It’s a chastity device. One of those things that Derek pulled out from the evil box and not the fun Stiles box, a punishment item only, a torture device, a cruel and unusual punishment.

Stiles licks his lips, anxiety seizing every part of his body. “For how long?” He murmurs, and Derek tips his head.

“As long as I deem appropriate.”

That doesn’t bode well. Stiles thinks about the ruined orgasms and mentally rejects it, moves on to the papers and is tempted to choose that one – but then he feels like he’s pussying out. He and Derek both know that he deserves the cage, it’s the only one that actually makes sense for what he did.

The punishment has to fit the crime. Stiles hesitates for only milliseconds more, and then he clears his throat and takes in a deep breath. “Three, please, daddy.”

Derek grins at him. “Good boy,” he says earnestly, looking way, way too pleased. Stiles regrets it almost as soon as it’s out of his mouth.

***

Derek ties Stiles’ wrists to the headboard of their bed and then cuffs his feet to the posts at the end, which he almost never does. Not for play. But then, this isn’t play. This is punishment, and that’s a different ballgame altogether. He spread eagles him like that and then climbs in between his legs, holding the cage in his hand even as Stiles stares at it like it’s going to leap up and bite him right in the balls.

“Just because this is a punishment that doesn’t mean you can’t safeword out at any time. We’ll pick something else if it gets to be too much,” he says, taking the metal contraption out of its packaging and then running a sanitizing wipe over it gently. It’s a bizarrely caring gesture for the situation, and Stiles blinks and his heart burns with affection for Derek. “There’s no shame in backing out. Begging to get it taken off is not the same as safe wording, you know that.”

“Yes, sir,” Stiles rasps.

“I expect you to beg me to take it off,” he goes on, picking up Stiles’ flaccid member and running the sanitary wipe over that as well. Maybe only because it’s ice cold and he wants to make sure Stiles is as turned off as possible before sliding the thing on him. “That’ll be half the punishment.”

Stiles blinks at the ceiling and pulls a bit at his ropes, just for some stress relief. Half the punishment is going to be not fucking knowing when Derek is going to take it off, honestly. That’s the worst part – the not knowing. That’s why he’ll beg. He’ll probably start figuring that if he begs enough, Derek will give in.

“I’ll take it off every morning so you can wash, but you’ll be showering with me. Apparently you need to be closely watched, these days,” Derek winks at him, and Stiles goes red. This is humiliating. So, of course, he’s a little turned on.

“How do I…” Stiles almost stops, afraid he’s not allowed to speak, but Derek simply looks at him expectantly, holding the thing in his hands. “…go? To the bathroom.”

Derek smiles. “You sit.”

Oh, god.

“I’ll wash you a couple times a day, all right? I won’t let you get too gross. You ready?” He poises it, ready to slide on and trap him, a tiny little masterlock dangling from the front, and Stiles licks his lips. “I need verbal consent, my love.”

Stiles clears his throat. Fucking god dammit, he thinks, staring at the ceiling. Jerking off once was not worth this. Not by a god damn long shot. “Yes, sir, I’m ready.”

Derek nods, and locks it on. It slides a bit jerkily, super tight which is kind of the point, and then he clicks the lock shut with the kiss of death. “There,” he says, patting Stiles on the inside of his thigh. “You’ll keep it on until I think you’ve learned your lesson about who that cock belongs to.”

“Yes, sir,” Stiles says, miserably.

He reaches out and tenderly rakes his fingers through Stiles’ hair. “Daddy, sweetheart,” he corrects in a gentle tone, and Stiles could almost cry for how kind he sounds. “Now, do you want to watch a movie?”

***

Derek pats Stiles awake gently, right on his cheek, until Stiles is blinking up at him groggily and smacking his lips in annoyance. “Hey,” he says, cocking his head to the side with a fond smile. “It’s early.”

From the way that the sun has barely reached the carpeting in their bedroom, Stiles could’ve guessed that himself. He stretches, expecting to feel the familiar rub of morning wood against his thigh, but there’s…nothing. Which is when he raises his eyebrows and looks down to his body to find the unfamiliar sight of that cage on his cock. He groans and looks at Derek, frowning. “Forgot,” he mutters, and Derek grins at him.

He has said before that he’s not a sadist. In the strictest sense, maybe that’s true. He doesn’t get pleasure out of physically harming someone with pain or degrading them or making them eat off the floor or anything. But he does get off on being withholding.

Especially about orgasms. There may be nothing he loves in the world more than watching Stiles squirm and beg to come. Which is a form of sadism, whether Derek will ever admit it or not.

“I mean that it’s early enough for you to suck my cock,” he goes on, and Stiles pauses. He turns his head to look directly at Derek, lips parted, and stares at him for a moment. He is genuinely waiting for the punch line.

When none comes, Derek sitting there blinking at him expectantly, Stiles laughs anyway. He bursts out with it, this mean-sounding guffaw that’s all sarcastic around the edges, and shakes his head, while Derek just sits there all confused and stupefied. Stiles says, “are you kidding me?”

“What?” He demands, furrowing his brow even as a slow smile spreads across his face. “Every morning time willing, remember?”

“Uh, yeah,” Stiles snorts, rolling his eyes. “If you think I’m going to suck you off while I have this thing on,” he taps the tip of the metal cage with a finger, “you are out of your mind.”

There’s this moment where Derek looks at him with this expression that Stiles can only describe as half amused and half not. It’s this look that suggests that other subs he’s had in the past would wind up over his knee or punished worse for having the balls to backtalk him like this – but then, Stiles has never really been like any of them, from what little he knows.

“You know that I’m not some subservient toy of yours who leaps at every chance to be on my knees for you,” he says, and Derek nods along like yes, yes he does know that. “If I’m not getting any, neither are you. Welcome to your dry spell.”

Derek cocks his head to the side and seems very impressed. He bites his lip as if he’s considering it for the moment, looking Stiles up and down and probably fantasizing about what he would do to him if he could get Stiles’ consent to do it. “I can still jerk off,” Derek contests, sounding a bit haughty about it.

Stiles waves his hand like it’s inconsequential to him. “Go ahead. Rub one out into the toilet. Try not to be thinking about my mouth the entire time.”

“You are an insufferable brat,” Derek accuses, even as he leans down to kiss Stiles on the cheek and forehead. “And a slut to boot.”

“I know,” Stiles angles his head to capture Derek’s lips this time, briefly tonguing him as he wraps his arms around Derek’s neck loosely. “Love you. Enjoy your blueballs at work!”

“Brat,” Derek hisses again, pulling away to flick Stiles on the nose. Stiles laughs, leaning back into the bedsheets as he watches Derek vanish out of the room.

***

Derek cleans him twice a day. He sets Stiles down on the edge of the tub in the bathroom and then disappears to go fish the key out of whatever top secret location he’s keeping it in, before returning with the tiny thing wielded. He unlocks Stiles, and as soon as the thing comes off, his cock immediately starts making very honorable attempts to rise up to full hardness.

It never really gets the time. Derek is clinical and quick – he dumps a little cup of soapy water on him, towels him off, rinses and sanitizes the cage, and then back on it goes. The entire thing from take-off to put back on takes roughly forty-five seconds. It’s agonizing every time, and Stiles has admitted it before.

“Please,” he says, wrapping his hand on Derek’s shoulder as he works studiously on toweling Stiles’ cock off. “Please, please, just touch it –“

“No,” Derek says, easy as that. He moves to run the cage under the warm bath water running behind Stiles’ back, and Stiles bites his lip and looks down at himself – his cock twitches, eagerly attempting to get an erection before the cage comes back again.

It would be so easy to reach down and give it a quick swipe, right now, since the only thing that’s touched it in a week has been the cold metal of the cage. It was manageable at first, but as the days go by, it’s gotten more and more torturous.

***

By the second week, Stiles is a little more desperate. Mostly because he had thought the thing would be on him for a few days, at most. But it’s been thirteen days, because Stiles has been counting, and he’s starting to get insatiable.

“I’ll suck you if you take it off,” Stiles says, crawling up onto Derek’s chest where he’s studiously trying to read a book, reclining in the pillows of the master bed.

Derek looks down his nose at Stiles, unimpressed, and then goes back to reading with little to no reaction.

“I’ll let you pee on me.”

“What?” Derek is aghast, putting his book own to give Stiles his full attention. “When have I ever given you any indication that that’s something I want to do to you?”

Stiles throws his hands in the air. “I just mean I’d let you do anything to me, if you let me come!”

Derek purses his lips. “No,” he says, and Stiles deflates against his chest. He rubs his cheek into Derek’s shirt and stares mutinously across the room, going back in time to curse himself for ever being stupid enough to touch himself in the first place.

***

“You know, you can come in that thing,” Derek tells him one day after Stiles begged profusely for it to come off for only the five hundredth time. “It’s just not easy.”

“No thank you,” he spits, feeling particularly bitter and wound up today. It’s the three week mark, and Derek is useless and smug and loving every god damn second of it. Stiles knows for a solid fact that he jerks off at work three times a day, so he has absolutely no frustration whatsoever – it’s unfair. It’s completely unfair. “It’s probably painful and slow.”

Derek makes a face like that’s decently accurate.

***

Derek sets a mug of tea down in front of Stiles at the breakfast nook, where Stiles is studiously and furiously tip-tapping on his laptop to finish an article he’s nearly missing the deadline on. He mutters a grunt that sounds something like thank you, eyes intent as he scans and scans for anymore editing that needs to be done, and Derek sits down across from him and nurses at his own mug – it’s likely coffee. It’s ten o’clock at night, and Derek is drinking coffee. Stiles has learned his caffeine tolerance is up there in the sky, so it’s not necessarily surprising – but if Stiles drank coffee anytime after five o’clock, he’d be up until three am bouncing off the walls.

Derek is quiet as he lets Stiles work and finish, puttering around on his phone or looking out the window with a thoughtful expression on his face. Stiles sips his tea manically, burning his tongue but ignoring it, as he finally slams his finger down on the save file button and sighs out in relief. “Done,” he huffs, moving quickly to his e-mail to send it out to his editor. “Fucking finally.”

“Good stuff?” Derek asks, focusing his entire attention back on Stiles now that Stiles is no longer distracted with something else.

“Deliciously vicious stuff,” he winks in response, sending the file out before cracking his fingers and leaning back against the cushioned seat. “That art show I went to was a complete joke. My review is an evisceration. My pen was my knife.”

Derek smiles at him, amused, and watches as Stiles shuts his laptop. He sips on his coffee while Stiles mostly just basks in the relief of a job well finished, and it’s a couple more moments before he speaks up again. “So,” he starts, setting his mug down. “I wanted to talk to you about how things are going.”

“How things are going,” Stiles repeats, cocking his head to the side. “With us?”

“With your punishment.”

“Bah,” Stiles makes a sour face. “It’s only been 24 days. I’m not counting.”

“Of course,” Derek tips his head and seems like he might burst out laughing at any second – which is always how he seems whenever this particular subject comes up. “I just wanted to ask how you really felt about it.”

Stiles is confused, his mouth twisting up. “It’s a punishment, so what’s it matter?”

“It matters. Tell me,” he taps his fingers on the table top, that tell he has that means he’s got something on his mind. “You don’t resent me for it or anything, do you?”

Stiles snorts. “You’re just butthurt because I’m withholding sex, you animal.”

“I’m not butthurt,” Derek counters immediately, and the experience of that specific word coming out of Derek’s mouth is enough to elicit another snort on Stiles’ end of the table. “I’m genuinely interested in your opinion on this, because it’s not just something I’m doing to you. It’s something we’re doing together.”

Derek does have a point about that. For all that Stiles is the “sub” or whatever the hell, nothing that happens between them in the bedroom or beyond is something that Derek has complete and total control over. If Derek wants to control his orgasms, Stiles is a willing participant in that or it doesn’t happen.

“It’s supposed to be an act that we’re both into in some way,” he gestures with his hand. “So, tell me. Do you like it?”

“Do I like you locking my dick up in a metal contraption?” He asks the question out loud, and Derek nods his head. It seems like a ridiculous question. It would be, to anyone who’s a pretty strict vanilla.

But for Stiles, it’s not. There are levels to this, and there are certain parts of it that not even Stiles really understands. “Uh…” he scratches at the back of his neck and feels a blush blooming up his cheeks. “It’s, uh…it’s weird. Because, yeah, it sorta sucks and I want it off. But at the same time it’s like…It like…” he can’t meet Derek’s eyes, because it’s too embarrassing, so he speaks to the window. “…it kinda turns me on. Which is weird, because it should do the opposite.”

Derek’s fingers tap, tap, tap. “You like it when I control you.”

Stiles’ laugh is nervous and strained. “Um. Yeah.”

“That’s not news,” he has a wane smile on his face when Stiles looks at him again. “I just didn’t know it went this far.”

Apparently, it does. Which is either scary or not, depending on how Stiles looks at it. It’s not scary because Stiles trusts Derek implicitly, entirely, completely, and has no qualms whatsoever about handing control over to him when it comes to these kinds of things. But it is scary because it makes Stiles look at himself and become self-aware, to know that he’s a gross freak who’s into stuff that would make other people flinch.

“I’m a type,” Stiles admits in a low voice, looking at his hands. “I like…I like how you treat me.”

“Which is how?”

“Well.” Stiles clears his throat and shrugs, but he knows that Derek is going to demand an answer and a shrug isn’t going to cut it – when it comes to frank discussions about the things they do to each other, Derek expects nothing less than the complete and entire truth. “In relationships like this that I’ve had before, there were so many things that were really similar to us now. All the control and the humiliation. But with you, it’s…different.” He frowns, trying not to let himself go to that dark corner of his head where the memories he pushes away lurk and haunt him. “Because we have a line. There’s us right now talking, and then there’s us in your bedroom. But the important part is that we blur it sometimes.”

Derek stares at him and waits for more. Stiles rubs at his chin.

“Like when you hurt me or control me, it’s not some…some different person who’s mean or abusive. It’s you. You hurt me because you know I like it, not just because you want to hurt me. Do you understand? I know it’s weird.”

Derek shakes his head. “It’s not weird. I understand perfectly. And you understand how much power you have over me, too. Don’t you?”

He has learned exactly how much power he has over Derek. The sheer amount of it is terrifying; Stiles says someone hurt him, and the next day, they’re gone. Stiles says he doesn’t like something and it stops or it’s taken away and never to be seen again. Stiles says he wants this, he wants that, and Derek gets it for him. Stiles says jump off a bridge, and Derek will do exactly that.

Stiles wonders if that ever scares Derek – to think of all that control and power he carefully grooms and maintains in every day life, stripped away from him.

Without a word, Derek reaches his hand across the table towards him, and Stiles immediately takes it in his own. Derek captures it and lifts their intertwined hands up, to lean down and press a firm kiss to Stiles’ inner wrist. “These conversations are important.”

“I know,” he says, biting his lip to keep from smiling.

“At the end of the day, no matter what happens or what you do or what I do in response, we’re still just us. You and me. If one day you decide you don’t want to do this anymore, we can just be normal.”

“You can’t be vanilla,” he accuses with a laugh. “You’re too much of a dominant type.”

“I’d have sex with you in missionary for the rest of my life if that’s what you wanted me to do,” he says, stonecold serious, and Stiles swallows. “But you don’t want that.”

“I don’t.” He doesn’t. Not now, or in the foreseeable future. Their kinks are what brought them together in the first place, after all.

Stiles gets this idea in his head that this might be the night where he’s relieved of his punishment and they’ll finally get to fuck again, which would be a blessing – truth be told, he’s starting to waver in his dedication to blue-balling Derek. He’d take a fucking even with the stupid cage on if it meant getting some kind of action at all, not that he’d ever admit it to Derek. Before he can open his mouth to ask if that’s what Derek is thinking as well, there’s a knock on the door.

Both their heads turn in surprise at the same time, because no one ever comes calling to Derek’s place. The lackies mostly just burst in uninvited and are occasionally kicked out viciously by Derek, and Stiles’ father would never show his face here, and Scott would’ve called first. So when the knocks start up again, more frantic and sounding a bit angry, they meet each other’s eyes and frown.

“It’s not a concern,” Derek says as he slowly lifts himself up. “I would’ve gotten a call from the security guard if it were someone to worry about.”

“Right,” Stiles agrees. “Maybe it’s the FedEx guy.”

“Expecting a package?” Derek asks, striding across the carpet while Stiles stands and trails behind him to see who’s going to be on the other side of the door.

“Yeah, a lockpicking kit.”

“Funny,” Derek’s voice is dry. “Especially because you know damn well you’d never disobey me like that.”

In that respect, Stiles guesses it is pretty funny. Stiles wouldn’t fathom trying to break out of this thing behind Derek’s back – first of all, it’d likely be suicide, and second of all…it just hasn’t occurred to him. It wouldn’t.

Derek unlocks the door and swings it open. From Stiles’ angle, all he can see is Derek’s entire body going stiff, the color draining out of his face a bit – while Stiles is trying to crane his neck to see over Derek’s broad shoulders, a woman comes bursting into the apartment, striding inside like she owns the place, a murderous glint in her eyes.

She scans, sees Stiles and observes him like a cockroach she’d love to stomp on, her teeth grit hard. Derek is still frozen, like this is an event that he is paralyzed by, and Stiles stares at the scene with his lips parted, unsure of whether he should be afraid or not.

When a pair of girls who can’t be any older than ten each come trailing in behind their probable mother, Stiles figures he doesn’t have much to worry about. They’re both enjoying what remains of ice cream cups, scraping viciously at the melting stuff left in the bottom and sucking it off their plastic spoons.

“Where is she?” The stranger demands, whipping around to face Derek – who’s still standing there like he’s gone mute. “You think I wouldn’t find out about this? You think I really have no idea what goes on with you, Derek?”

And maybe it’s how she says the name, or maybe it’s the slope or her nose and the curve of her cheekbones or the color of her hair the longer Stiles looks, but just like that, he realizes who this person is.

It’s Laura Hale. No doubts about it.

“Because you think you’re such a mystery to me, like you can fool me like you fool everyone around you,” as she speaks, Derek slowly turns to look directly at her. He swings the door closed with a hard bang, his jaw set tight. “I hear things. I’m not as disconnected from your life as you wish I was!”

“Nice of you to come visit,” Derek drawls, crossing his arms over his broad chest. Stiles eyes the girls, who seems oblivious. “What’s it been? Ten years?”

“Christmas five years ago,” she corrects with the easiness of someone who’s thought about this detail a lot, constantly, has it in the back of her mind all the time. “You came to my house blistering drunk, I’m not surprised you’ve forgotten.”

Derek’s stony face suggests he does remember. Has tried to forget.

“I just came to see the gold digging scum that everyone seems to think you’re stupid enough to try and marry,” she does that eye-scan thing again, like she’s searching for any evidence of another person being here aside from Derek and Stiles. “You think I wouldn’t hear about this?”

Derek looks at Stiles, who looks right back at him. Stiles mouths me?, and Derek nods his head minutely. Yup. Him.

Stiles is the gold digging scum that everyone seems to think Derek is stupid enough to try and marry. He’s never in his life wished he had a bowl of popcorn in his hands more than right at this exact second.

With a vindictive finger, Derek stabs in Stiles’ direction. “There she is,” he says, venom dripping from every word hard enough that it should be melting the floors underfoot.

Laura spins, looks at where Derek is pointing – right at Stiles – and then searches beyond him. She holds her arms like where the fuck, what are you talking about, looking back to Derek with a questioning expression. The girls are still scraping loudly at their cups, and Stiles wonders why Laura would think it would be a great idea to bring them along to this family reunion. Maybe there was nowhere else for them to go; Stiles has no idea if there’s a dad or if she’s a single mom or…anything.

This is a stranger. She exists in name alone.

Derek raises his eyebrows at her, and gestures at Stiles again. This time, when Laura turns to look at him, the anger melts away. Her face goes open with surprised confusion, staring at Stiles so hard it’s like he’s got an extra head sprouting out of his shoulder.

“Uh,” he starts, brilliantly. “Scum, at your service?”

She stares at him. My God, does she ever stare at him. The gears are turning in her head, her eyes blinking furiously as she tries to process this – and Stiles realizes that Laura has never known that Derek likes men. This is an abject and total shock to her. It seems like she’s never been more stupefied by something in her life.

“Last I checked,” she begins, voice wavering a bit. “…you were dating women.”

“My guess what, I’m bisexual announcement card must have gotten lost in the mail,” he snaps, and Laura turns to him and just looks so angry. So angry. So angry, so angry, and Stiles sort of wants to melt into the carpet, because he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do in this situation. What he’s meant to say, if anything.

“How could you not –“ she starts, and then stops, a bitter laugh bubbling out of her throat. “You tell me nothing. I’m not surprised. I’m not hurt. I shouldn’t be.” She’s clearly very hurt. Stiles looks away, feeling like an intruder on her heartbreak at realizing she doesn’t know her brother, not at all. “You sit up here in your castle and you live your disgusting lifestyle –“ she whips around to Stiles, looks him dead in the eyes, “I’m referring to the nefarious and illegal activities and not the gay sex,” before whipping right back around to Derek, quick as lightning, “and you act like I don’t even exist. And you let our baby sister canoodle with that horrible monster woman –“

Stiles steps forward. He moves towards the girls, who are now not seeming so oblivious – they’re blinking with big eyes between their mother and Derek, confused and probably a little scared. As Laura is saying something about how Derek should rot in hell, Stiles bends down a bit to their level and catches their attention. “Do you girls like games?”

They nod, eyes still big.

“Let’s go into the next room,” he suggests, bracketing them with both of his arms and shuffling them forward, “away from this, and let’s do that. Okay?”

They move with him, and Laura doesn’t seem to mind the scum gold digger taking her children away, so he keeps going. As he moves, he throws another look over his shoulder at Derek, questioning and unsure, but Derek is only looking at Laura.

He looks so upset. Stiles doesn’t know what to do.

He takes the girls into his room and pulls out the iPad, setting them down on the couch and collecting their empty ice cream cups to toss them in the nearby trash. “What games do you guys like?” They can still hear Laura and Derek arguing through the walls, but at least it’s muffled.

“Dress up,” the younger one suggests, blinking curiously at Stiles as he types in the search for dress up games in the app store. “Are you my uncle?”

Stiles clears his throat. “I’m your Uncle Derek’s friend.”

“Mom says Uncle Derek is dead to us,” the older one chimes in, and Stiles doesn’t even know what to make of it. It’s funny, hearing those exact words out of a child’s mouth, so he laughs a bit and picks a princess dress up game to download. “I guess that makes you dead to us, too.”

“Your mom is just upset,” he decides to say. The girls look at each other dubiously, like they’re communicating silently that maybe they shouldn’t be in a room alone with Uncle Derek’s evil gold digging “friend.”

All the same, he sets them up with the game and it absorbs them. As he leans against the wall with one ear listening to the dramatics on the other side, he notes that Laura must be middle class, at most. He doesn’t know why he thinks this, but he does. It’s obvious in how she was dressed and how her kids are dressed, yes, but it’s also obvious in how these two act. They share effortlessly, trading the game off after each princess is dressed, and there’s no screaming or bickering over who gets to hold the iPad or who gets to pick the color of the gown next. They’re not spoiled. Stiles frowns and thinks about what Derek had said, about how Laura chose one life and Derek chose another.

“…made my decisions and I live with them, but for you to come in here like this and say those things about him –“

“Don’t think I didn’t fucking notice how many fingers he has,” Stiles thumps his head back against the wall and scratches at his face, sighing through his nose. “Looks like Argent work. I haven’t forgotten. It’s amazing how you can live with yourself when all you do is hurt everyone around you –“

“What’s it like up there in the fucking land of delusion, Laura? You used to be just like me, and you act like you’re so above it all now!”

“I am! I cut ties! I dropped out! I chose what was best for my family, my friends, my life! I am above it!”

Stiles puts his forehead in his palm. Across the room, the girls are giggling over a particularly ugly dress they’ve designed, hunched over the game like nothing else exists in the world.

“You want to act like you can have normal things like a girlfriend or a boyfriend, like friends, like someone to talk to even! You can’t,” her voice lowers, only minutely, so Stiles can still hear her through the closed door. “I don’t know him, but I know what he wants. He wouldn’t be with you for any other reason, because you’re despicable. You have nothing, you have no one, just people who want your money.”

There’s this itch that Stiles has to burst through the door and tell her how wrong she is, how completely backwards she has it all, because she doesn’t know fucking anything about him or them, and she evidently doesn’t know Derek anymore. Derek is so kind to him and they talk about everything and they understand each other and they love each other and they have fun and Derek makes him laugh and he’s smart and well-read and interesting, and...

…but he doesn’t. He knows that he shouldn’t. It’s not his business. He stays there with the kids and feels small and stupid, for some reason.

“The things you do to afford your ridiculous cars and your penthouse and all these material nothings that have always been so important to you! Those things are unforgivable! He’s a leech, and you’d be an idiot to even consider it!”

“You don’t know him,” Derek says. “You don’t even know the start of him.”

“I know his type. Jennifer, Carla, Kate,” the last name is snarled out through her teeth. “They all wanted something from you, and he’s not different. He’s not different at all.”

“You wouldn’t know. I don’t know why you would come here to try and talk to me out of this, why you would come here at all, after everything. You don’t let me near your children and you tell them horrible things about me,” which Stiles guesses he now knows is fact, based on the few things they’ve said to him, “and you cut my face out of all the family pictures. Fine. But you don’t get to say anything like that about him, you fucking don’t, you won’t come into my house and talk about him like that –“

“You’re a fucking fool,” she snaps, and it sounds final. “When he burns the bed while you’re asleep and collects the insurance off of your fucking head, it won’t be a surprise.”

“Get out,” he yells this. It makes the blood drain out of Stiles’ face to hear Derek sound that angry, that upset, that…hurt. It’s scary, almost. Stiles’ hands are shaking and he just stands there, frozen, as he hears the sure fire footsteps of Laura banging down the hall, and then she’s in the room.

She looks at Stiles once, makes a face of pure and total disgust, and Stiles just stands there and lets her look at him like that. What else is he supposed to do? “Girls,” she says, loud and commanding, and they both snap to attention immediately, tossing the iPad aside on the couch like any other toy. “…we’re leaving. Let’s go.”

The girls are up and filing out of the room, passing by Stiles with some more suspicious glaring. “Bye Uncle Derek’s dead friend,” the older one says, and Stiles blinks after them as they shuffle out of the room. They’re gone and out of sight, leaving Laura and Stiles standing there alone in a room together for just a moment.

She looks at him. Stiles looks back. He says, “why would you bring them here?” It’s all he can think to say.

“Couldn’t afford a sitter. We’re not all sucking off rich men, are we?” The words practically slap him in the face, and Stiles’ jaw drops and he’s speechless.

She’s awful, he thinks. She’s terrible, cruel, malicious, evil, all of these things.

But most of all, she’s in pain. She is sad every day that her and her brother are how they are, and she lashes out because it’s all she can do with how much pain she’s in daily. Crippling, horrible, heartbreaking pain that makes her like this when faced with the reality of the situation. Stiles understands her, so he won’t say anything cruel back to her – it’s a mercy, and she storms off without another word.

He follows her down the hallway and feels a bit shocky, like he just experienced something of a rollercoaster ride that he wanted to get off of the entire time. As she ushers her children out the front door and Derek stands off to the side with that blank, uncaring mask of his that he pulls out whenever he feels too much of an emotion to deal with, she doesn’t even look at him.

The door slams, and then Stiles and Derek are standing there alone. The penthouse is eerily silent. The calm after a hurricane, the eerie blare of a siren from somewhere down the street, the ticking of a clock on the wall.

Stiles steps forward. “Derek,” he starts, shaking his head. “I am so sorry. That was so terrible, you never said it was like that.”

Derek shakes his head. He says nothing, but he just shakes his head.

“I’m so sorry,” he opens his arms and moves to swoop Derek into them, but Derek recoils. Like it’s instinctual to reject comfort, he pulls away and shakes his head.

“It’s fine. It’s just like always.”

He tries to move away, to walk away, to go off and try to pretend to be normal when that just happened, and it was so awful, so awful, but Stiles pushes his hands out to stop him. “No,” he says, forceful and sure. “No, don’t. Don’t do that. Don’t close in on yourself and then drink yourself to death, don’t do that, I’m here,” he puts his hands on Derek, who’s trying to look away, jaw set tight, and envelopes him. “Please, I’m right here. Please, please, I’m so sorry.”

Derek stops resisting. Stiles manages to pull him over to the couch, to sit him down on the cushions and wrap his arms around Derek’s body, holding on tight. “You don’t have no one. You don’t have nothing. You have me, it’s all right. Please let me help you, come on.”

Derek puts his hands over his face. His body is stiff and coiled up tight, and he sits there covering his face for so long. Stiles rubs on his back and puts his head on Derek’s shoulder, quiet and shaking.

It’s a minute before Stiles realizes that Derek is crying. He can’t see it, because Derek is sure to keep those palms plastered against his face in such a way that Stiles can’t even see moisture, but Derek shakes and a choked off sound comes from the back of his throat, like he’s trying his hardest to strangle it.

He’s sobbing. Stiles holds him tighter, and it’s so moving and shocking to see Derek be so small and vulnerable like this that Stiles thinks he might start crying too, but won’t because he can’t do that to Derek right now.

“I’m here,” Stiles says, voice choked. “I’m here. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“I don’t even –“ Derek’s voice is tight and strained, another sob shaking his body against Stiles’, “…I don’t even know their names.”

Stiles’ heart breaks. That’s Derek’s family, those two girls who say that Uncle Derek is dead to them, who barely react to being in his home, to seeing him for the first time maybe since they were babies.

And Derek has no family. They burned. But those girls are new, and Stiles had never considered it, not once, that maybe that’s all Derek wants, deep down.

A family, again. Like the one Laura withholds from him. It’s terrible. Stiles holds him and rocks him, pressing a kiss to his neck and running his fingers through his short hair. “She said terrible, untrue things to you, and I’m sorry she did. You’re not despicable. You’re not a bad person. You deserve to have things in your life.”

Derek doesn’t respond. He doesn’t believe Stiles, maybe.

“What happened to my – to my finger wasn’t your fault. It’s terrible she said that. I hate her for saying that. You’ve never hurt me, it’s okay.”

It goes on that way for a while. Stiles just clings to him like a barnacle and doesn’t stop saying gentle things like that, again and again, until Derek quiets down and pulls his hands off of his face. His eyes are red-rimmed, his mouth set down in a terse frown, and he turns to look at Stiles right in his face.

There are words there, that Derek might be too proud to say. He is humiliated to have cried like that, Stiles knows, and he’s humiliated that Stiles heard all those things that his sister said, and he’s so raw and broken right now that Stiles would never force him to say them, but Stiles knows what they are anyway.

That he’s thankful to Stiles for being here. That he loves Stiles. That he’s sorry Stiles had to see that.

Stiles nods and strokes the back of his hand against Derek’s cheek, soft and slow. “You never said it was like that,” his voice is quiet, and Derek nods.

He looks past Stiles’ head for a moment, going far away, and he speaks a full sentence for the first time in a long while. “We were inseparable, once. She’s my twin sister.” He pauses, and Stiles watches his face. “All I have now are things.”

“And me,” Stiles reminds him, and Derek gives him this slow, sad smile.

“My money, my things,” he acts like Stiles hadn’t spoken, shaking his head at himself. “My cars, my penthouse. I buy you nice things because I think it’ll make me worthy of something. I buy you everything because it fills a hole.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Stiles says, shaking his head.

“It’s true. Money fills holes. Some are just too deep.”

Stiles presses Derek’s head into his chest and holds him there, kissing him on his hair and swallowing thick and tight.

It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it anymore. It makes you miserable. You are so miserable and unhappy because of what you do. I want you to be happy so bad, because I care about you. Not the money anymore, not the money, just you. All of these things are things I could live without, why do you think they’re important to me? When compared to you, they’re nothing. Nothing at all. Quit. I want you to quit. Run away with me. Far away, all the way where they’d never find us.

These are all the things Stiles doesn’t say.

***

Derek seems hellbent on not discussing it, after the fact. Stiles pushes and prods him and wrings emotions out of him like shaking out a towel at the beach, and reluctantly, Derek says more things about the taboo subject. He says that Laura is a bitch, that he hates her, that he resents her for keeping her children from him. He says that he understands why she does, why she hates him right back, that he’s terrible, that he hates himself, that Stiles is the only good thing in his life, and on and on.

Stiles listens. He bites his lip and he listens and strokes Derek’s bare skin and nods and says I’m sorry, and she is a bitch and you’re not terrible, and he sounds like a broken record. But Derek is talking to him about it, and Derek is letting it out, and it’s good for him. It really is good. It’s not good that Laura showed up like that, but it is good that Derek is talking.

What he says is miniscule compared to all the things there likely are to say, but Stiles will take it. Sometimes in the morning he wakes up early and sweaty after a nightmare, being in Kate’s house again or locked in a basement alone with Theo or with Chris’ dead body in that apartment where he cried so much, and Derek is still asleep. Stiles goes to the nook and sits with his coffee and looks out the window.

Curls his four fingers against the mug and wishes he were more brave. Some things are better left unsaid, he used to think – but these days, the words he’s not saying are dying in his throat and their corpses are rotting and he’s sick of living with the decay. It’s all he can taste.

Derek will come out and smile at him all soft. Stiles smiles back.

***

Stiles comes home on a July night, dumps his keys in their usual place, and expects that Derek will not be home. He drops his work bag on the ground and huffs, toeing off his shoes as he stretches and thinks about ordering a pizza to eat entirely by himself while watching a movie.

Instead, he comes into the kitchen and Derek is there. He’s sitting on the chair by the window, an expectant look on his face. He says, “hey, baby.”

Stiles is surprised and pleased. He smiles and shuffles over, voice distorted a bit with genuine happiness. “I thought you’d be at work!” He says, leaning down to kiss Derek on the lips and stroke at his face a bit happily. “Oh, I’m so happy. I want to cuddle with you and watch a movie and eat way too much Chinese.”

“We can do that,” Derek agrees, an undercurrent to his voice. He pats his knee and looks up at Stiles with hooded eyes, licking his lips.

Taking the cue, Stiles perches himself on Derek’s lap and wraps his arms around his neck, smiling as he kisses Derek again and again. “You taste like mint,” Stiles says, and Derek pulls back to look him in the face.

“I brushed my teeth.”

“Aw, you know we’re an old married couple. I can deal with your coffee breath, it’s okay.”

Derek laughs and holds him closer, looking up at him with a mischievous glint in his eye. “You know, I have a surprise for you tonight.”

Stiles is instantly alert, licking his lips and nearly vibrating out of Derek’s arms. “It’s coming off?”

“It’s coming off,” Derek nods his head, fingers already undoing the button on Stiles’ jeans. Stiles nearly vomits from excitement – it’s been over a month. A month. A fucking month, of having to be washed like a kid, pissing sitting down, of no orgasms, no sex, no blowjobs, nothing, and it’s finally…finally…over. “You have been such a good boy, and now you deserve a reward.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees hastily, watching with fascination as Derek pries Stiles’ nice pants open so his lacy black underwear is out on full display. He produces a small key that Stiles hasn’t seen in many, many moons, and slides the pants entirely off of Stiles’ legs. Stiles helps him along, so they flop onto the floor, and then eagerly lifts his hips up as Derek pushes the panties down enough to get at the metal contraption over his cock. “I deserve a reward, fuck yeah, I do. This better be the best orgasm of my life after what I’ve been through.”

Derek laughs again and unlocks him, the click so unbelievably satisfying Stiles nearly goes right then and there. But it comes off, all the way, placed down on the counter next to them, and Stiles immediately starts to chub up. There’s no delay whatsoever.

“It’s going to be very special. I have something for you in the bedroom.”

Stiles is up out of Derek’s lap in a heartbeat, still in his button down shirt from work, nearly taking off like a shot before Derek can even move.

“Hold on,” Derek says, still, annoyingly, sitting down. “You need to put on your nice clothes.”

He gestures, and that’s when Stiles realizes Derek has got a panty and stocking set next to him on the counter, lifting an eyebrow. Stiles licks is lips – it’s red. Derek always puts him in red whenever it’s a really special night. The stockings are thigh high and sparkly, the panties satin and soft.

Quickly, Stiles shucks his button down off and pulls his black ones down off his body. He dresses so fast he blurs, pulling the stockings up leg by leg, fitting the panties up nice and tight around his hips. “Good?” He asks, almost breathless. Derek stands and takes Stiles by the shoulders, leading him toward the hall and, blessedly, toward the bedroom.

He leans down and whispers in Stiles’ ear, low and sexy to the point where Stiles nearly creams himself. “Close your eyes,” he says, and Stiles does, obedient and quick. They walk, Derek much too slow for Stiles’ liking, with Derek guiding him forward step by step. Stiles’ heart flutters in his chest and he starts fantasizing about what could possibly be in that room – a new sex toy maybe, a new vibrator, a new bed, some weird kink thing that Stile can’t even imagine – and Derek stops. They must be in the room.

“Okay,” he says gently, rubbing his hands up and down Stiles’ arms. “Open them.”

Stiles opens them slowly, and just about comes prematurely when he sees what’s in front of him.

The bed is covered, entirely, no open spots in sight, with money. Tons of it. More money than Stiles has ever seen in one place in his life. Stacked high, loose bills and bound sets of ones with the blue hundred ribbon around it, hundreds, twenties, fives, tens, all of it, some of it dripping down over the edge to flutter to the floor.

Stiles is struck dumb for a moment, while Derek circles him and gestures to his work like a proud artist. He says, “do you like it?”

Stiles nearly chokes. “How much money is that?”

Derek shrugs. “Guess right and you can come twice.”

That’s an incentive if Stiles has ever heard it. He steps forward, erection almost painful in his satin panties, and stares down at it. He’s almost too afraid to touch it, for fear that it’s an illusion of some kind. He stares and wonders. Derek has a California King, so the amount of money it would take to even do one line of it across the width would be…easily five thousand in bound 100’s of ones. Easily.

He tries to calculate, and gives up. He blurts his best guess. “Half a million.”

Derek grins, all white teeth, all pleased, all not surprised. “Spot on.”

“No,” Stiles shakes his head, a hysterical laugh bubbling up in his throat. “You’re not – no. This isn’t…”

Derek shrugs. “It’s not that much.”

“What the fuck…” Stiles stares at it some more, dumbfounded. Half a million dollars. Five hundred thousand fucking dollars. He keeps blinking, expecting it to vanish as soon as his eyes are open again, but it stays put. Glistening in the dim lighting of Derek’s bedroom, almost, shining and glittering like it’s diamonds and not just green bills. “Daddy, we can’t. I can’t – it’s too much.”

“It’s not that much,” he repeats again, stepping forward. He crowds Stiles so Stiles has no choice but to stagger back, the backs of his legs smacking against the bed so he squeaks and a handful of bills flutter to the floor. “Sit down,” he says, voice a little menacing, and Stiles hesitates.

He’s going to sit on money. His barely covered ass is just going to…do that.

When he doesn’t move, Derek pushes him down. Money flutters as he flops down, the entire structure rustling. Stiles is stupefied, looking up at Derek with huge, huge eyes. “Daddy,” he says again, and Derek grins at him and leans over to talk into his ear, low and deliberate.

“You can’t imagine how much money I have in private accounts, in lockboxes, in other countries, in the safe, in safes you don’t know about, buried underneath my car garage.”

Stiles hitches his legs up, and Derek touches his inner thigh. “Oh, fuck…”

“Half a million isn’t a drop in the ocean, to me,” he stands up, full height, and pulls his shirt off over his head. Stiles watches, jaw half unhinged, cock throbbing, and can’t move. “My money is filthy dirty, you know that. I think we can make it a little dirtier, don’t you?”

Stiles puts his hands down. They hit bills. He’s got a hundred and fifty and a pile of ones and thousands of dollars underneath him, and he grips it. “Fuck me,” he demands, imperious. “Fuck me, daddy, please, fuck me stupid, I want –“

“That’s right,” he says, undoing his pants and looking down at Stiles with satisfaction. “Beg me.”

“Please?” Stiles tries again, hitching his legs up more so his feet are on the edge of the bed, leaning back and moving up, up, kicking piles of cash off the ends of the bed on all sides. “I need you to fuck me, I need it, fuck –“

Derek climbs up after him, naked and hard and a hungry, predatory look in his eyes. He climbs on top of Stiles, a smirk on his face, as he puts one hand on Stiles’ erection through the satin. “Why don’t we go over what you learned.”

Derek strokes with just his thumb on the head, and Stiles keens. No one and nothing has touched him there anything but clinically in so long, he could burst. “Don’t make me come like that,” he begs, shaking his head frantically. He grabs a handful of cash and hiccups. “Please don’t make me –“

“Tell me,” he starts, pausing his ministrations. “Who decides when you come?”

“You,” Stiles says like a plea.

“Who’s the only one who’s allowed to touch your cock?”

“You. Please, it’s you, don’t tease me –“

Derek leans down and bites his neck, just enough to elicit a squeak, and then pulls back up, grinning. “I want to hear you say it. Prove to me you learned something.”

Stiles pants, like he’s in fucking heat or something, and squeezes his eyes shut. “You’re the only one who gets to make me come, you decide if I deserve it, you’re the only one who gets to touch it. Please, please touch it, I’m –“

“Good boy,” Derek praises, and Stiles goes lax and loose like putty underneath him. Derek reaches down again and paws at the wet patch on Stiles’ panties, stroking and smoothing and making Stiles cry out and writhe underneath him. “On your hands and knees.” He leans back up, giving Stiles room to move. Stiles scrambles to comply, flipping himself over and sending money scattering all over the place in the process.

He arches his back, looking over his shoulder and shaking as Derek presses a thumb into Stiles’ hole. It’s not ready, not even close, and Derek runs his free hand up and around one of Stiles’ cheeks gently, reverently. “You are so beautiful,” he says, like a promise, and Stiles nods his head. Whatever he fucking says right now is fine by him, just fine, just fine –

Derek leans down and licks at Stiles’ hole, and Stiles opens his legs wider, bracing himself on his elbows and shuddering. He tongues at it for a while, panties held down by one firm hand as he works his jaw nice and strong, making Stiles feel good.

“Please,” Stiles begs, tears gathering in his eyes.

Derek ignores him. He laps and laps, pistoning his tongue in and out in a way that has Stiles whining pitifully and hitching his ass up higher, curling his fingers into the money.

“I’m gonna come like this if you don’t – if you don’t stop,” he shakes and cries, tears rolling down out of the corners of his eyes. Apparently, that’s exactly what Derek wants, because he doesn’t stop. He keeps going. Harder, faster. He holds Stiles’ cheeks open with both hands and tongue-fucks him until Stiles sees stars, until all he can do is sob into the money and pound his fist, crying out in ecstasy and frustration.

He comes. Shoots into his panties and makes a mess that embarrasses him, shuddering and sniffling into the cash. Derek licks him some more, maybe just for his own satisfaction, while Stiles is boneless and twitchy underneath him. He’s so sensitive there now, every pass of Derek’s tongue has him shaking, making a small, pained sound into the ink and paper.

Derek stops. He pulls Stiles panties off all the way, balling them up and tossing them off the side of the bed. “That wasn’t satisfying enough, was it?”

Stiles shakes his head, shocky with pleasure.

“You want it fucked out of you nice and good, don’t you?”

He nods.

“Wanna see you,” Stiles mumbles, and Derek puts his hands on Stiles’ hips to help him get down on his back again. Once there, blinking up at Derek and the ceiling in turns, he licks his lips and reaches a hand up to touch Derek’s bare chest, appreciating how smooth and fit it is, how sexy he is, how crazy this entire situation is. “Wanna come again.”

“Anything you want,” he promises, pressing a chaste kiss to Stiles’ cheek. “Whatever you want, baby, anything you could ask for.”

Stiles tests his luck. “I want you to fuck me and stroke me off.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees, grinning big. “I can do that.”

“And I want – I want you to –“ he swallows, looking away. “…I want you to be dirty.”

With a tilt to his head, Derek observes him for a moment. Stiles’ dick isn’t finished; it’s perking up again just at this conversation alone, rising valiantly and freely, happy to be released from its torment. “How dirty is dirty?”

Stiles blushes. “Say bad things to me,” he whispers, still not meeting Derek’s eyes.

Derek hooks his hands underneath Stiles’ legs, using the leverage to pull him flush against Derek’s own body so Stiles gasps, all pliant and obedient beneath him. “You mean like how you look fucking slutty, opening your legs like this for me and begging for it?”

Stiles nods. “Yes,” he agrees, covering his face with one hand and then pulling it away quickly to look at Derek’s face.

“How your cock is so pretty and small next to mine,” to emphasize his point, he tugs on his own erection – menacing and red and thick, while Stiles’ is only just still perking up, soft and pink. “Like a little clit that you have to lick to get off.”

“Can – can you…” he swallows, tears forming in his eyes again. It’s like sensation overload. “…can you lick it?”

Derek feigns ignorance. “What’s that, baby?”

He tries to cover his face with his hand again, but Derek pulls it back, grinning devilishly and prompting him again with two fingers. “Can you please lick my clit?”

“Just a little,” Derek agrees, leaning down and flicking his tongue quick against the head. In spite of only just having come, it twitches. Precome dribbles and Stiles thinks it must be because his balls are full as shit, desperate for it, his shaft aching for any kind of stimulation after all this time. Derek licks up and down a few more times, while Stiles writhes and buries his hand in Derek’s hair, crying out. “So sensitive,” Derek croons, and Stiles whines his agreement.

“Want you in me,” Stiles says. “Want you, need you –“

“Is that how you ask?”

Stiles reaches up and wraps his arms around Derek’s neck, staring up at him with half-lidded eyes. “Please fuck me?”

Derek wraps his hand around his cock, smiling benign and calm at Stiles as he presses the head up against Stiles’ entrance, wet and slick and open from the treatment Derek had given it earlier. He pushes, and Stiles’ breath hitches as he tightens his arms around Derek, mouth opening silently in pleasure.

Derek fucks him like that, in the money. All that money, all of it, and Stiles is so into it and so obsessed with him and everything they do to one another and everything they have, it’s easy to forget all of their problems. The ones they push under the bed or hide like the money in Derek’s safe. Stiles just holds onto Derek and enjoys the feel of having Derek inside of him, of being surrounded by all the evidence and proof of how powerful and wealthy Derek is.

Stiles has nightmares, sometimes. He sits and stares out the window and counts his fingers and plays over the things that Laura had said again and again in his head. But here, in the money, it almost doesn't matter.

It’s so easy to forget. People do crazy things, after all, just to get their hands on a little bit of money.

Chapter Text

Derek’s phone rings at three in the morning, vibrating nearly off the end table before Derek reaches out and slaps it with his palm. He slides it in the dark so the screen is facing him, squinting and frowning against the bright light in the pitch dark room. It’s Lydia, because of course it is. He fantasizes about not answering, but then he knows that she’ll just fucking call again, and again, and then resort to Stiles’ phone when he turns his own off, and then when Derek turns Stiles’ off too she’ll go to the emergency phone in his office, and then on and on and on until she’s at his front door, no matter what time of night it is.

“What?” He barks into the receiver after pressing it to his ear. Stiles finally stirs, shifting and making a small, cat-like noise from the back of his throat as he stretches awake.

“Hello to you, as well.”

“It’s fucking three in the morning,” he grouses, and Stiles buries himself underneath the covers, disappearing from Derek’s eyeline. “Somebody better be lying dead on your front steps.”

Lydia sighs on the other end. “No dead bodies. It’s something I think you’ll be far more interested in.” A pause, likely just for dramatic effect. Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. He fucking hates her. “Money.”

“What about it?” He spits it out through grit teeth.

“Reynolds shorted you forty.”

That wakes him up a bit. He looks beside him to see the lump of Stiles hiding underneath the covers, and sits up all the way. “You’re fucking with me.”

“Nope,” her lips pop on the p, and he grits his teeth. He fucking hates her. “Forty thousand dollars, missing.”

“You are fucking kidding me.”

“Who’s dead?” Stiles’ voice is distant and sleepy, and Derek turns his body all the way from him, hunching over as if to help his voice be quieter.

“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“I figured.” Derek hangs up before he can hear if she has anything else to add onto that fantastic input on the situation, pushing the covers off and putting his feet on his floor. He rubs at his eyes and stands, listening to the sheets rustle behind him as he does so.

“Hey,” Stiles is reaching out, his hand sticking from the white bedding, seeming to search a bit for Derek’s body. “Where you goin?”

Derek is across the room already, pulling the pants he had left strewn on the floor up his legs and fishing around for the shirt to go with it. “Something came up,” he says, and Stiles pulls the covers off his head and blinks at him all tired.

“It’s late,” Stiles says this like it’s an argument – and Derek rubs at his face. He’s dressed now, and Stiles is looking at him like something about this is very disappointing, and Derek just rubs his face.

“I know it’s late, but somebody is fucking with me, and I need to go address the fucking issue.”

Stiles burrows more deeply into his pillows. “Hmm,” is his only commentary. Derek sometimes wonders what it is that Stiles thinks about instances like these, where Derek insists that something is important, that something is of the gravest and most serious importance – what he imagines the issue to be. Derek figures Stiles doesn’t spend a lot of time really lingering on the thought. Most likely, and Derek prefers this scenario the best, Stiles doesn’t think much of anything about what Derek does for his own good.

“I’ll be back soon.”

“I’ll be asleep.”

Derek puts his shoes on, sitting on the end of the bed, while Stiles just snoozes like a cat up top, arms splayed out now that he has all the room in the world to octopus himself in the covers. He stands, looking over his shoulder one last time at Stiles.

He can’t really help himself. He reaches out and traces the length of Stiles’ thigh through the sheets, up and down, and Stiles twitches but doesn’t react much other than that. Derek presses the blunt of his fingernails in a little deeper, curving up over his ass and to the small of his back, so Stiles shivers and makes a small noise of interest, eyes still closed. Derek wants to fuck him until he can’t remember his own name, but instead, he has to go chasing after the money. Again.

It seems, these days, like all his life is anymore is money and Stiles, and money and Stiles and Stiles and money and Stiles and Stiles and money, and…on and on.

He turns on his heel and walks out, hanging his neck low as he pilfers his wallet and keys off the dresser on his way toward the bedroom door. His hallway is dark, and his foyer is even darker and silent with the ticking of a clock, and then he’s in the elevator going down. The moon is bright tonight, and it reflects off the hood of his car as he drives on through the dead and empty streets toward the only location Lydia could’ve possibly been referring to. He knew there was a deal going on tonight because it’s his job to know everything, every last detail of what anyone under him or around him does with the money, and he knows exactly where it is and who is going to be there and what to expect when he walks in.

He parks next to Erica’s unmistakable car in an office building parking lot, pulling himself up and out of the car with a grimace on his face. Glaring up at the security cameras in the lot, he stalks forward and pushes his way in through the front glass doors, unlocked in spite of the late hour, and breezes through the hallways.

It’s easy to pick out the exact room everyone is hiding out in. Erica is standing outside the door blowing bubble gum between purple lips, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed, going cross-eyed as she watches the bubble get bigger and bigger. They settle on Derek when it finally pops, and as he draws closer she pulls the gum back into her mouth all the way with an obnoxiously open-mouthed chewing noise. “Look who decided to come and do his job,” she chortles, and Derek gives her a look.

“What the fuck is going on in there?” He demands, and Erica lifts a single shoulder. She seems amused and smug, which is so unbelievably maddening to Derek he thinks about punching a hole through the wall next to her head.

“You know what I think it is?” She asks, taking a step closer to him, so Derek can smell her perfume. She looks up at him, close, close, close, so close their noses almost touch, so close that when she speaks again her lips brush up against his face. “…I think people suspect you’ve gone soft on everybody.”

“Soft,” Derek repeats. He can’t keep the amusement out of his tone.

She’s closer even still, tilting her head back and flipping a curl over his shoulder. Derek doesn’t know if she’s purposefully trying to make him think of the few times they hooked up in the past, but if she is it isn’t surprising. They only ever fucked because she was there, pretty conveniently and easily, and she knows that. But she always likes to dangle it in his face, now, as though it’s some bargaining chip of hers.

“Well, yeah. You don’t show up half the time, you’re not around to watch what people do, and honestly?” She screws her face up in a smile. “…they’re just not afraid of you like they used to be.”

“That’s funny,” he accuses, and Erica blinks at him.

“Is it? Is it funny that you waste your time with that idiotic twink and now everyone thinks you’re a joke because of it? Oh, Derek Hale, he used to be so big and bad and now he’s just some twink’s fucktoy so sure, short him the god damn money.”

Instead of gracing that with an answer, Derek lifts the back of his hand up and drags it across Erica’s lips. It effectively smears her lipstick across her mouth, her cheek, a bit onto her ear, and she steps back in surprise and hisses her dismay.

Fucker!” She screams with indignation, reaching up to frantically try and wipe it all away. She buys the good stuff, so it stays in place, and Derek grins at himself and wipes the back of his hand on his black jeans, pushing his way through the door with a flourish.

Inside, Lydia is there chewing on her thumbnail, looking up when Derek walks in and sitting straighter with interest, scanning her eyes across everyone else there. There’s a table and a couple people milling around, a briefcase in the center of it, another briefcase sitting in between Lydia’s legs to keep it tucked safe and away.

Derek is half surprised that no one’s been shot yet. But then, what no one ever really says about the people who do these kinds of things is that most of them are reluctant to really go around shooting whoever they feel like.

No. Most of them prefer the drama and the pomp and circumstance. They wanted him to come here. They didn’t want to kill Lydia and run off with the money and the drugs – that would be much too boring.

“Open it,” he commands as a greeting, gesturing to the case on the table. He stalks across the room and as he approaches the table, a man puffing on a clove cigarette turns and meets his eyes directly. It’s Reynolds – a fifty-something asshole who used to do deals with Derek’s mother and now pretty much just spends his time getting morbidly obese and sucked off by hookers. He looks like shit. Derek is amazed he’s even standing upright.

“It’s what we agreed on,” Reynolds says with that sly grin of his that means he’s being a fucking cock.

“We agreed on 50.”

“We agreed on 90,” he shoots back, gesturing to the case again. “Open it. Count it.”

Reynolds stares at him for a moment, as if testing his limits. The funny thing is, Derek really doesn’t fucking have any limits to speak of, not anymore. After an extended silence, Reynolds flicks his head at the underling to his right, and the briefcase is popped open.

Money glistens from inside. The kid pulling the money out and announcing its contents – by the bound thousand – can’t be any older than 19, at best. It’s not surprising. Reynolds loves to bring these random kids in off the streets, foster them into psychotic and brainless followers, and then leave them for dead once they get in his way. Derek glowers and rubs his hand over his jaw, watching the kid count, and count, and count.

He counts fifty. Fifty thousands, and Derek smirks as he looks up to meet Reynolds’ eyes. He repeats. “We agreed on ninety.”

With a twist to his mouth and a long exhalation of dark black smoke, Reynolds shakes his head. “Don’t remember it like that.”

“You’re not going senile on me already are you, old friend?”

“Nothing senile here,” he shakes his head again, puffing and puffing. “Fifty is the offer. Take it or leave it.”

Derek laughs. He pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes with laughter, while Lydia shifts with annoyance in the corner of his eyes and presses her chin into her fingers. She is antsy and aggravated, and Derek is drawing this out. She always says that he likes to play with his food – Derek thinks that’s been pretty well established, in more ways than one.

“Oh, so are you calling the score now?” He laughs some more, and the kid shifts his eyes nervously between them, again and again. “You think you run all this now? I must have missed the memo on that one.”

This seems to annoy Reynolds. It seems to annoy him a lot. He points his cigarette in Derek’s direction, eyes going a bit dark. “It’s fifty fucking thousand on the table, or it’s nothing.”

Derek doesn’t pause or hesitate. He hasn’t hesitated for a very long time, not about much of anything. He reaches into his pocket and there’s a distinct click that most people in the room recognize – but before any of them can react at all, the knife is in the air. Reynolds had been reaching up to take a drag, and Derek’s aim is impeccable. He had to do something with himself, after all, after his family burned alive and Laura stopped talking to him and Cora was kept away from him. So he got good at certain things.

It goes through Reynold’s hand with a sick swoosh, so fast the noise he makes is more surprise than it is pain, just yet. The cigarette falls to the floor and Lydia sighs through her teeth. Reynolds hollers and staggers away, reaching frantically for the gun Derek knows he keeps on his hip.

Derek rushes him. The kid, the nineteen year old, starts coming for him like he’s really going to do something, but Derek barely glances at him as he holds his hand out and commands, “you stay the fuck back.”

Apparently, Erica had been wrong about at least one thing. Derek Hale is still the big and the bad to some people. It works like a charm – the kid stops and all but puts his hands up in surrender, eyes going big in his head with genuine fear, his lips pursing down hard. He doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to die here.

Before Reynolds can fumble the gun in the right direction with his oversized sausages for fingers, Derek is upon him. He punches him so hard the blood is spilling out of his lip almost instantaneously, twisting his wrist in such a way that the gun clatters and Derek kicks it in Lydia’s direction.

She seems unamused as she reaches down to collect it and hold it hostage. She’s likely bored out of her skull, honestly.

“Who the fuck do you think you’re dealing with?” Derek has got Reynold’s shirt bunched up in his hands, shakes him hard, once. The hand with the knife in it flails a bit wildly, like he’s trying to stab Derek with it even while it’s lodged into his own skin – but Derek dodges and snarls and hits him again. “You think because I don’t make house calls anymore that I won’t know when you try and fuck me over?”

Reynolds sputters. He gasps for air. Tries to rip the knife out of his hand to no avail, wincing and shaking and coughing up half his lung.

“I want my money,” he says it like a threat. “I want all of it, not a fucking dime less, tomorrow. Midnight sharp. If you try to fuck with me again –“

“I won’t,” he says, frantic. It’s a far cry from the motherfucker who had sneered and blown smoke in his face not two minutes ago – but Derek is very, very good at making people change their tunes. “Just – fucking Christ, okay. I’ll get you the money, Hale.”

“Don’t fucking play games with me,” he snaps, pushing him back. Lydia is sitting there turning Reynold’s gun over and over in her hands, examining it like she’s considering getting one just like it for herself. She points it across the room, squinting one eye shut as she pretends to fire it out at nothing. It happens to be in the general direction Reynold’s nineteen year old is standing. He nearly pisses himself in fear. “I don’t know who you think you are or who you think you’re talking to,” he shakes his head, reaching down to grab at Reynold’s wrist.

He holds the hand up, and even as Reynolds is frantically shaking his head with wide, pleading eyes, all but begging Derek not to, Derek does. He rips the knife clean out of the man’s palm and Reynolds howls in pain while the blood gushes out with nothing to keep it inside anymore, and Derek pays it hardly any mind.

Derek swipes the blood off with two fingers so it gets all over his hands, and barely cares. “This was my mother’s,” he explains, twisting it again and again.

Reynolds eyes him for a moment, gritting his teeth as he holds his damaged hand against his chest. Derek doesn’t know what it is – if it’s how much pain his hand is in, or how Derek has just made him look like a fool in front of one of his new recruits, or if it’s the fact that he knows he’ll have to pay Derek ninety grand that he may not actually have tomorrow because he’s blown all his money on the product and women, but it doesn’t matter. Reynolds decides to be angry and get smart, when that’s the last thing anyone should want to do when it Derek’s presence.

He almost spits the words out onto the ground, upper lip curling like it disgusts him to even say. “I thought I was talking to the fucking pussy that keeps the Sheriff’s son in his bed like a pet.”

Derek pauses for a moment. Slowly, he clicks the knife into its safety position and then slides it into his pocket. There’s this second where he tries to convince himself to not be angry. Where he thinks that he should just let it go and let some things be, but he’s too far gone for that. He’s already seeing red around the edges of his vision at the sheer idea of Stiles being involved in any of this.

There are two things left on the face of this planet that can get him murderously angry in a fraction of a second. The first is insults against his family, and that even includes Laura, depending on what’s being said. And the second, these days the most prominent, is any mention of negative connotation or mal-intent towards Stiles. People should really know this by now.

Derek nearly knocks him out with the back of his hand, sending him half sprawling across the room. He staggers back and then falls, landing with a hard thump on the floor. “Oops,” Lydia snickers, sitting up like this finally just got interesting. “Big, big mistake.”

He stands over Reynolds’ body, grabbing him by his shirt collar and pulling him up to hit him again, and again. He whites out. All he can think about is this piece of shit knowing anything, anything at all about Stiles, knowing what he looks like, seeing him at all, watching him to get information, and he just…goes off for a moment. It makes him angry enough that he loses all semblance of control for a half a second, moreso than he ever has in the past.

“Well, Jesus, are we trying to kill him?” Lydia’s voice is a bit shrill. She’s out of her chair, waving that gun around in the air, and Derek stands up. He holds his hands up in the air, panting, a little shellshocked, and shakes his head.

“I’m done.” He looks at Reynolds. The face is almost unrecognizable, underneath blood and bruising and a couple of missing teeth. “I’m fucking finished. I’m done.”

Lydia glowers. “We’ll never get the money if we kill him,” she says, like she’s still unsure of how in control Derek is or isn’t at the moment.

“I fucking know that, I’m done.” He’s panting. He hadn’t realized that. “Ninety thousand dollars, Reyn. Tomorrow. Midnight. Don’t fucking play me out.” With that, he turns. “And keep his name out of your fucking mouth, if you know what’s good for you.”

Lydia is hot on heels, while the nineteen year old is bent over Reynolds and shaking him a bit, likely scared out of his mind and unsure of what he’s supposed to do, now. The immediate response that most normal people have is to dial 911 – it takes a very long time to break out of that mindset and to learn that there’s no one who can help you on the other end of that number.

Derek learned it the hard way, at age sixteen. While his family was burning to death they wanted to ask him about his affiliations, they wanted to know what he knew about the family dealings. The Sheriff, Stiles’ father, hard-eying a sixteen year old kid who’d just lost his family over a silver interrogation table. Derek hasn’t forgotten. He likely never will. Stiles is naïve and innocent so he thinks that the Sheriff and Derek will someday be able to play nice with one another. Derek doesn’t know how to tell him it’s never going to happen if only because disappointing his boy is unthinkable, so he pretends that maybe one day it will. He tells himself some lies are for the best. It helps him sleep.

Outside the door, Erica is standing with her face still all purple with lipstick. It’s almost funny. She says, “what is so surprising?” Her voice is cold, and cruel. She is, bone deep, both of those things. It’s why she’s the only person good enough to be his second in spite of all else. “Everyone knows about him.”

Derek looks at his hands. There’s blood all over them. Not all Reynolds’ – there’s a knuckle that has part of a white tooth stuck inside of it. Derek barely grimaces. “If everyone knows about him,” he starts, voice very low. Lydia pretends to shoot that gun again, and Erica makes a face at her. “…then they should know better than to say a god damn word about him.”

***

The sun is coming up when Derek gets back to the penthouse. He beelines it for the guest bathroom immediately, shutting and locking the door behind himself as he flicks on the light and then stares at himself in the mirror. There are bags under his eyes and blood in spurts across his face.

Stiles cannot see him like this. He has come home in such a fashion dozens of times since moving in with his boy, and he’s managed to skirt past Stiles’ assessing gaze and antenna like awareness every time, but the other shoe is going to drop eventually.

He turns on the water as hot as it will go and dips his bloodied hands underneath it. As he clears away the blood and the little fragments of teeth, it becomes clear where he’s hurt himself in the process of hurting someone else – some cracks in his knuckles, a cut here or there, but otherwise, nothing to write home about.

There’s a knock on the door that nearly makes Derek jump out of his skin. “Derek?”

It’s Stiles.

Derek frantically rubs soap over his hands, scrubbing and scrubbing. “Just a minute,” he calls back, shaking with the exertion. The water is still running pink and he swears, looking up to meet his own eyes in the mirror.

There’s still blood on his face. He swears under his breath and swipes at it with a wet hand.

Stiles is quiet on the other end of the door for a moment, and then he pipes up again. “Did you have Mexican food again?”

In spite of himself and the absurdity of it, Derek’s lips quirk up at the corners. “No, I’m just – brushing my teeth.”

“In the guest bathroom?”

There are times when Stiles’ proclivity to be analytical and all-knowing makes Derek want to tear his hear out of his skull. At the start of their relationship, he was likely too enamored with the great and powerful Derek and all his money and nice things to really take the time to analyze things. But now, he sees and notices everything. His antenna is constantly up.

“Didn’t want to wake you,” he says by way of explanation, and it works. Finally, the blood is gone and he wipes his hands dry on the hand towel. For good measure, he rinses his mouth out briefly with Listerine just to get the minty smell and taste in his mouth, and then he opens up the door.

Stiles is standing in jeans and a t-shirt, wet hair like he’d just showered, smirking with his head cocked to the side. “There’s no shame in explosive diarrhea, you know.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees, reaching out to pet him a bit on his hair.

“I’ll admit, there’s a burrito from the Hungry Mexican that puts me in the shitter for hours.”

“I did not eat Mexican food and I wasn’t having explosive diarrhea.” Stiles gives him a dubious look. “I was brushing my teeth.”

With a smile, Stiles leans forward and kisses Derek. His lips are always so smooth and soft, likely because of the fact that he obsessively applies chap stick six to seven times a day, especially in the colder months of the year. He pulls away and smiles bigger. “Minty fresh,” he says, and Derek smiles back at him.

“You’re up early,” Derek comments – because leave it to Stiles to suddenly be an early riser on the one day Derek could really benefit from him sleeping in.

Stiles shrugs. “I was restless without my Derek pillow. Where’d you go? Who died?”

Derek furrows his brow. “Who said anyone died?”

“Uh – you said that someone better be lying dead on the front steps, so I just assumed.”

Sometimes the sheer amount of things Stiles hears and picks up on even when Derek is sure he’s dead asleep or barely cognizant blows his mind. “Just a figure of speech,” he explains, running his hand through Stiles’ damp hair. “No one is dead.”

“So where’d you go?”

Derek goes through his mental Rolodex of half-truths and flat out lies, settling on one almost instantly. “Had to go pick up some money since Erica and Lydia apparently can’t get anything done by themselves.”

“Ah,” Stiles licks his lips and tilts his head back, observing Derek entirely. His eyes zero in on Derek’s hands, immediately lifting one of them up and bringing it up close to his face. “Your knuckles?”

Chapped and still oozing a bit of blood. Derek mentally curses himself and pulls away instantly, much to Stiles’ evident confusion. “Got in a bit of a scuffle.”

“A scuffle,” Stiles repeats. He seems to be churning the gears in his head, putting all the pieces of Derek’s half-fake story together like a puzzle. “There’s not a mark on you otherwise.”

Derek shrugs. “Wasn’t a fair fight.”

“I can’t believe you got in a fight and made money all before seven am.” He cocks his head to the side and smiles, his eyes a bit tight around the edges. “I’m hungry and I want pancakes.”

Even though there’s always something that whispers in his head that Stiles’ proclivity to switch the subject whenever something like this comes up is not a good thing, he can’t help but be grateful for the distraction. One thing that kills Derek and has since the start is the fact that lies have always been necessary in this relationship. Stiles says he wants to know and he wants to be involved and he doesn’t like secrets, but Derek knows the truth.

And the truth is that he doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t need to know, either. Derek lies, and Stiles gobbles it up even though he’s too smart to believe it because he’s scared of knowing what the truth really is. Derek can’t imagine what Stiles’ reaction would be if he said yes, dear, I threw a knife into a man’s hand for shorting me money and then beat the ever living shit out of him for saying something vaguely disparaging about you, and how was your day?

In his head, Derek imagines Stiles flinching and pulling away. It’s maddening. What, are you crazy or something?

Are you a bad person? Do you like hurting people? Why would you do that? Are you that obsessed with money?

“I’ll make pancakes,” Derek says, and Stiles seems pleased enough with this. He goes into the kitchen and presses his face against the glass of Satchmo’s tank, poking his finger and tracing the fish’s path with the tip.

While Stiles tips some food in for the fish, Derek pulls a box of pancake mix down from the cupboard and sets a skillet on the stove, turning on the heat and collecting the butter from the fridge. It’s frightening sometimes how easy it is for them to act domestic and normal. When Derek used to think about his life in the future, he imagined himself alone with his millions and his things in a house where no one ever came calling, and the sick part is he used to find pleasure in the fantasy.

Now, when he thinks of his future, all he can see is Stiles. Domestic. Normal. A house and a bed and a porch with a swing. The issue is that the two fantasies don’t work together.

Stiles appears like a ghost beside Derek, leaning up onto the top shelf of the cupboard and producing a package of Hershey’s chocolate chips. “Don’t forget these,” he says, and Derek nods and dumps them into the batter.

“Oh, god dammit, Derek!”

“What?” Derek is aghast, pointing to the batter. “You just said you wanted them in there.”

“Okay, but you don’t just throw them into the batter like a heathen,” he gestures wildly, and Derek raises his eyebrows. “You pour the batter on the pan, and then you carefully push the chips into the cake so you can control how much chocolate each cake gets.”

“You’ll eat what you get and you’ll like it,” Derek says, and Stiles hurrumphs but accepts this all the same. He dips his finger in and steals a chip, popping it into his mouth, before rummaging in the fridge for the orange juice and drinking it straight out of the container.

They sit at the breakfast nook and eat. Stiles talks to him about his work and his writing and how he thinks he’s doing well and they’re going to bump him up to features, lips moving a mile a minute over the food and the words. He says that he wants his own office and his own desk and he wants to be renowned and he wants to be successful, and Derek nods along and he wants all those things, too, if only because Stiles wants them so bad.

Derek wants Stiles to have everything in the world that he could possibly want. It bothers him that there are too many things that money can’t buy. That bothers him a lot. For example – he can’t buy his way into being that normal person that Stiles deserves to have.

When Stiles announces he has work to get done and vanishes into his room, Derek goes into their shared bedroom and sits on the edge of the bed. Stiles hadn’t made the bed, because of course he didn’t, so the sheets are all mussed and the pillows are all over the place and Stiles’ sleep clothes are strewn about on the floor. Derek sits there with his hands clasped in between his knees for a moment, and then he pinches his eyes shut.

Why had he gone off the rails like that, earlier? He knows that it was about Stiles, because that was the trigger. But why couldn’t he have just let it go? He looks at his hands again, thinks about the bits of another man’s teeth he had to pick from his skin, and he shudders. Not because he’s genuinely disturbed by what he did, but because Stiles would be.

He leans over to his bedside table and pulls open the drawer. There are all kinds of things stuffed inside, like old mail and some trinkets and watches that don’t work anymore. He flips through it all until he gets to the very back, where a small black box sits and waits. He pulls it out, flipping the top open to reveal the ring that he had bought a couple of months back.

Picking it up between two fingers, he holds it there and twists it in the sunlight coming in from his window. He’s had this for months. Stiles has made it clear that he would say yes and Derek has made it clear that he’s going to ask, but the ring just sits. He puts it in his palm and imagines Stiles sliding it up his finger and smiling and saying yes, of course, yes, yes, let’s do it.

Something stops him every time he gets close. Reality, he guesses. In reality, Derek is not the kind of person who gets married and has a happy ending with a porch and a dog, but that’s the kind of person that Stiles wants to have. There is the fantasy, and there is the reality.

See, Derek isn’t that stupid. He knows that Stiles deludes himself into believing the fantasy is money and a powerful man and sex, and nevermind where the money comes from, so long as it comes at all. Stiles really thinks he wants that. He pretends, Derek thinks.

The real fantasy is much simpler. And it’s a shame, that it’s the one that Derek feels unable, entirely, to give to him. Derek is a monster. Derek does the wrong thing all the time. Derek is out of control. Derek clawed his way to the top of the most vicious business there is to get into. Derek does not know how to get back down.

He puts the ring back in the box and stuffs it into the drawer again. He wrings his hands together, sitting on the bed and watching the sun crawl across his floor, and he stays that way until Stiles emerges from his room. Derek stands, then, and puts a smile on his face, and he fantasizes about normal.

***

Stiles is a textbook quick sleeper. It’s interesting to Derek, considering that his mind seems to whirr at a thousand miles an hour constantly – but Stiles can one minute be animatedly discussing something and the next be completely dead to the world, spread out and drooling with light snores. Most of the time when Derek and Stiles have a quiet night (read as : when they don’t have sex for once), Stiles yaps about something for ten minutes on his side of the bed, passes out, and Derek stays awake reading or organizing his e-mails or deleting old e-mails or just about anything in the world he can think of to shut his mind off.

Tonight, Derek has already counted sheep. He has counted Stiles’ breathing pattern, has cleaned out his inbox, has read sixty pages of a book he doesn’t care about, and his eyes are drooping, but sleep does not come. It’s two in the morning and Stiles has been snoring since before midnight, but Derek cannot for the life of him even close his eyes.

He keeps thinking about what Reynolds had said. How easily and quickly he thought of the jab, like it’s simply common knowledge that “the Sherriff’s son” sleeps in Derek’s bed. And he thinks about what Erica had said after; that everyone knows.

Anger tends to be what propels him forwards in regards to most things in his life, and believe him, this particular thought fills him with the stuff. But it’s not the primary emotional response he has.

First and foremost, the thought terrifies Derek. More than anything on the face of the planet – stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid. How fucking stupid could he be? To do this to himself? To let someone get underneath his skin like this?

How fucking stupid could he be to do this to Stiles, who doesn’t know any better? Stiles likes to say all the time that he’s just not that innocent. He even likes to say that it doesn’t bother him, from time to time. The truth is, Stiles has no idea.

He has no fucking idea. If he did, he wouldn’t be in this bed right now. And so in more ways than Stiles would care to know, he is innocent. Stiles is soft. He’s empathetic and thoughtful and gentle, even though he thinks he’s so crass and hard around the edges. It makes Derek feel like ripping his skin off or clawing his hair out when he truly lets himself sit and think about the fact that he has taken someone like Stiles and turned him into…a thing that people try to use against Derek, now. A bargaining chip. A liability.

Derek rubs his eyes. This is fucking insane.

“Baby?” He says, and Stiles stirs. Stiles is also a textbook light sleeper.

“Nn?”

“Are you awake?”

“Asleep,” he counters in a drawl, and Derek turns his body so he’s facing Stiles’ back where it’s turned to him. Derek can’t help it, like he nearly never can – he reaches out and traces his fingers up and down Stiles’ bare arm, feather light. Stiles shivers. Derek loves that reaction, so he keeps doing it.

Derek keeps it up until Stiles shifts and stretches, waking up just a bit more. Then, Derek moves his fingers to his neck where there’s a hickey of a bruise purpling, presses down into the mark. Stiles makes a small noise in the back of his throat, pain and pleasure both, and Derek loves that sound. “Do you know how much I love you?”

“Enough to let me go back to sleep?”

Derek ignores that. “I love you so much.” So much. So much, that if anything ever happened to him like what happened with Kate again, Derek wouldn’t have a problem ripping the spine out of the person who did it with his bare hands. So much, that if Stiles ever came around to his senses and realized that Derek is a monster and a bad person and should be in prison, Derek would go if only because Stiles wanted it.

It’s scary to love someone so much. Derek knows that part of the reason his feelings for Stiles are so intense is because he never thought he’d ever be able to trust anyone ever again. He also knows that the other part of the reason is because the possibility of imminent danger is constant, and that fear of something terrible happening to him makes Derek cling, cling, cling.

“Love you,” Stiles murmurs back, smacking his lips and snuffing. It’s not attractive, but Derek is fond of him, so he smiles and presses a chaste kiss to Stiles’ shoulder.

“What do you dream about?” Derek asks him as he strokes at Stiles’ bare skin some more. “I wanna know where you go in your head that I can’t follow.”

There’s a brief pause. Stiles curls his fingers into the sheets, burrows his face a bit deeper into his pillow, the one that doesn’t match the rest of the bed because it’s his own personal comfort object, and the one that Heidi isn’t allowed to wash because then it won’t “smell right.” Stiles says, “nightmares, mostly.”

Derek’s hand stills on Stiles’ wrist. His eyes trail down to Stiles’ hand, and he sees the four fingers there, curling against the white of the sheets. Stiles must be tired enough to be a bit more candid than usual, so Derek presses his luck. “About what?”

Stiles’ eyes are closed as he talks, like he’s only seconds away from drifting back into complete and total dreamstate. “The blood and the carpets,” he mumbles almost incoherently, and then he’s snoring again.

Derek lets go of Stiles’ wrist and turns back over to lie flat on his back. He stares up at the ceiling and slowly closes his own eyes, putting his hand over his face. The blood, and the carpets. Stiles’ own blood all over the fine white carpeting at Kate Argent’s house, and then Kate’s blood after Derek shot her arm off with so much hatred and anger in him he’s amazed he didn’t morph into a different creature from the force of it, and then the blood of Stiles’ rapist ex-boyfriend all over the floors of that apartment, and…

Is Derek’s conscience so shot now that he can live even with this? Even with this?

***

Derek pulls Stiles’ bare back against his clothed front and kisses him on the neck. Stiles tilts to allow him more access, shivering and shifting a bit against Derek’s body. With a hand running up and down the planes of his chest, Derek smirks and runs his nose along Stiles’ jawline. “Doing okay?” He asks.

Stiles’ response is a short, affirmative head-nod. He can’t indicate very much else. Stiles has got his hands tied in front of him, tight and firm with no hope of wiggling free which is just how Stiles likes it. Derek also went through the trouble of gagging him and wrapping that fine red leather collar with the charms on it around Stiles’ thin and pale neck. He’s sat in the middle of the bed with nothing on, not a stitch of clothing aside from the thigh highs he had slunk up his legs with a seductive wink in Derek’s direction, enveloped in Derek’s arms.

Sometimes, when Derek thinks up a scene he wants to do, it comes from a place of need. Yes, he wants to tie Stiles up and play with him because he likes how Stiles reacts and the sounds he makes and how compliant he is, but there’s also something really primal in the act itself that’s a need, an absolute must.

The control. Yesterday, Derek had lost control so badly he’d broken a man’s teeth into his own skin and nearly killed him. But here, in bed with Stiles, Derek has all the control in the world. Stiles is bound and gagged and at his mercy, so trusting and soft and weak, and Derek has complete and total authority.

He kisses Stiles’ cheek, before reaching around to Stiles’ front, where his red and angry cock is standing upright, waiting for more stimulation. He wraps his hand around it, and it’s so slick with lube it glistens even in the dim lighting. He strokes it once, twice, just to hear Stiles whine, and then pulls away. Stiles shifts, panting through his nose. Derek does it again, two short strokes, and Stiles whines again, kicking his feet a bit and thumping his head back on Derek’s shoulder in frustration.

Derek grins. He loves, more than anything else, playing with Stiles’ cock. It’s so easy to control a man by his genitals; Derek has learned that much in his life. Right now, he could likely get Stiles to do anything so long as Derek promised to let him come after he did it – some people would take advantage of that.

But Derek doesn’t care about that. He just wants Stiles to beg.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if I told you when I was planning on letting you come?” He teases, tracing one finger in a slow circle around the head of Stiles’ cock. Stiles bites down on his gag and opens his legs wider, as if that would compel Derek to finally just get him off. “In a perfect world, huh?”

There’s a small series of toys Derek had picked out for the session sitting beside him, some of them he’s already used in the twenty minutes he’s had Stiles tied for him – Derek reaches and grabs the vibrator. As soon as he brings it around front so Stiles can see it, Stiles whines low and pitiful in the back of his throat, nuzzling his nose against Derek’s face as if begging for mercy.

“What?” Derek asks, raising his eyebrows. “You love your vibrators.”

Stiles buries his face into Derek’s skin and huffs through his nose. He knows good and well that he’s going to get mercilessly teased with this thing no matter how much he begs for release, so he pipes down and accepts his fate, breathing shallowly against Derek’s body.

Derek flicks it onto the low setting, running it along Stiles’ shaft in slow, deliberate passes. Stiles goes still and passive, enjoying the feeling even though it’s torturous to be denied the right to come in spite of such good stimulation. “Good boy,” Derek praises into his ear, and Stiles shudders. Stiles really is a good boy in bed – he comes only when he’s told, gets on his knees when asked, puts on outfits and calls Derek daddy, and slips into subspace effortlessly. They’re just in synch with one another, Derek guesses. Derek has gotten so good at reading Stiles’ body he can tell without Stiles even needing to safeword that something is making him uncomfortable or is too much for him, and Stiles has gotten good at the same thing.

Derek just…loves him. The sex is amazing, yes, but there’s no one like Stiles. He could have this exact scene with anyone else on planet earth, and it wouldn’t be as good, because it wouldn’t be with Stiles.

He flicks the vibrator up to its highest setting and Stiles keens. He writhes a bit in Derek’s arms even as Derek strokes his arm with his free hand and shh’s him gently, kissing him all up and down his face.

Stiles’ legs start to close of their own volition in an attempt to get away from the torturous stimulation. Derek leans down and smacks him right on his inner thigh, and Stiles whimpers and pushes his legs back to their original position. “Don’t move those again,” he warns, and Stiles makes an apologetic noise around the moans and whimpers.

Derek’s not a sadist. Stiles might roll his eyes and disagree if Derek said this out loud, but it’s honestly the truth – he gets no pleasure out of really hurting someone. Derek likes to smack Stiles and spank him and pinch him and leave bruises on his neck and legs and stomach because of how Stiles responds to it. Stiles would say he’s really not much for the discipline aspect of what they do, but the reality is, he’s shown in every single scene they’ve ever had that he craves discipline almost desperately.

He likes Derek hitting him when he does things like that. He likes getting spankings, and he likes when he breaks a rule and Derek punishes him. He loves discipline, which is something he won’t admit out loud but that Derek would never ask him to anyway. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, but Derek doesn’t really guess. Stiles likes it, so he does it. Point blank.

Derek rubs the vibe on Stiles’ cockhead and listens to him half-scream behind his gag, and he checks the time on the clock across the room. He’s been edging Stiles for half an hour – that’s plenty. Stiles is shaking and he’s got tears in the corners of his eyes, so that means he’s done.

“You wanna come?” He asks Stiles in his ear, and Stiles nods frantically and makes a constant, low whimper from behind his gag. “Go on and come, then. Let’s see it.”

To help him along, Derek rubs the vibe up and down his shaft while Stiles’ eyes rolls back in his head. His thighs tremble and he arches his back, moans going high and frantic. Finally, he comes. Short strips of white shoot from his cock and he shakes through the entirety of it, legs moving of their own accord as the orgasm is forced out of him by Derek. That’s what Derek likes most about their relationship, because he’s a kinky freak just like Stiles is – controlling his orgasms. Pulling them from him like he has no say in the matter, because he doesn’t. Not really.

Stiles goes still, so Derek shuts the toy off and puts it beside him on the bed. “Feel better, baby?”

He strokes his hands up and down Stiles’ bare arms while Stiles breathes in and out, in and out, staring down at the mess he made on himself and their bed. He has no reaction, other than to just be still and quiet, coming down from an intense orgasm.

“Okay,” Derek says softly, pawing his fingers at the strap of Stiles’ gag. “Let’s get this off, because I want your mouth.”

This is how Derek is absolutely positive and sure that Stiles is drifting in subspace. When the gag comes off, Stiles says nothing. He moves his jaw and licks his lips and runs his tongue along his teeth, but he’s silent. When Stiles isn’t in subspace or he’s just feeling bratty instead of submissive, as soon as the gag comes off he’s saying something or other. He’s always got a comment.

In subspace, he is silent. His mind shuts off. Derek needs to make sure he’s safe, there, not just lost in his own head, so he strokes his fingers up and down Stiles’ back and murmurs praise into his ear. “I love you so much,” he says, quiet, and Stiles nods his understanding. “You are such a good boy. You make me so happy, there’s no one like you that I’ve ever met.”

While Stiles soaks in the words like he’s drifting in a warm bubble bath, Derek uncaps a water bottle he had waiting on the bedside table, bringing it up to Stiles’ lips. “Drink up.”

Stiles does, maybe only because Derek told him to. He sucks on the bottle greedily, cooling his parched mouth and throat, and pulls away when he decides he’s finished. Derek tickles his back and Stiles huffs a laugh through his nose, so Derek smiles and does it again just to relish in his response.

“Okay. C’mon. On your knees.” He puts the bottle down and gently bundles Stiles up in his arms. Stiles isn’t little in the strictest sense, but he’s thin and slight compared to Derek’s muscle and general bulk – picking up Stiles like lifting up a little sack of potatoes, to Derek. He makes quick work of gently setting Stiles down on the ground in front of him, where Stiles immediately arranges himself onto his knees obediently and then just stares up at Derek silently.

There’s adoration, in his eyes. His big, naïve, brown eyes. Full of love and devotion and trust. So much trust. His eyes are so beautiful; Derek has always thought so. Since the day Lydia had shown Derek a picture of the then-seventeen year old Sheriff’s son and suggested they use him against the department as a whole, Derek has thought that.

It’s funny. Stiles trusts Derek so much – Derek still hasn’t told Stiles that he nearly kidnapped him as a teenager to hold him for the ransom of immunity once when he was particularly convinced the cops were onto him and thus desperate to stay out of prison. Derek hadn’t wound up doing it because he couldn’t bring himself to hurt a kid no matter how badly he wanted to keep himself safe, but it almost doesn’t even matter – he considered it. And Derek has told Stiles before that they never planned anything like that, not once, that he only knew Stiles by name. He doesn’t know what Stiles would do with the information, if he knew.

Derek unzips his pants and pulls his cock out, stroking it a few times for good measure even though it’s hard as a rock just from teasing Stiles. He lets it go and leans back, bracing himself in a relaxed position with his hands holding him up behind him. Stiles looks so weak and small below him, with his hands still tied in front of him and the collar around his neck, the bell tinging with every move he makes, and Derek loves him.

Over the guilt and everything else, his love for Stiles is louder.

“Come on, baby. Be a good boy and suck my cock,” he says, digging his hand in Stiles’ hair to draw his face closer to his leaking member. Stiles opens his mouth and sucks it in, bobbing his head up and down and gazing up at Derek with big eyes the entire time, watching his reaction to make sure he’s doing well.

There’s no feeling greater on this earth, Derek is sure, than having Stiles’ lips wrapped around him like this. Stiles’ lips are pillow soft, bow-shaped, so it’s impossible to call them anything but blowjob lips, really. They stretch all pink and pretty around Derek’s huge, offensive length, sliding up and down obscenely as spit dribbles down his chin. He pulls off for a moment to lick at the head lovingly, meeting Derek’s eyes and lapping up the pre-come with greed. He sucks cock like he was born to do it, which is a gross thing to say and Derek knows it, but it’s just the truth of it.

He’s bizarrely good at it. Why do you he has Stiles suck him off every morning?

Not to mention, he looks good doing it to boot. Derek leans down with a grunt of pleasure and runs his finger underneath the collar around Stiles’ neck, as if just to remind Stiles that it’s there at all. “You’re mine,” he growls, voice distorted by the ecstasy of Stiles’ mouth on him. “Your body is all mine, your mouth, your cock, all of it – mine.”

Stiles’ response is just to suck, tongue lapping at the underside as he goes. Derek wants Stiles to say that yes, yes of course he’s Derek’s, yes no one else touches him, yes Derek controls him. But most of all, he wants Stiles to say that he knows Derek wouldn’t do anything bad to him. That he knows Derek is a good person underneath it all. That he knows Derek only does what he does because he has no other options.

It isn’t true. But he wants to hear Stiles say it, in that wispy voice of his, just so Derek could pretend for a moment that it was.

When he feels his orgasm coming on, he grips his hand into Stiles’ hair and pulls him off, but keeps the hand buried into his hair to keep him in position. He tilts Stiles’ neck back, so it’s bared, as he strokes himself angrily with his free hand. He adjusts his position so he can aim his cock at Stiles’ face (his lips shiny and red, spit on his chin, his eyes big and brown and so pretty), and hisses his own pleasure.

He comes. It streaks across Stiles’ face, and he barely flinches as the white hot mess gets all over his fair skin. It drips a bit onto his collar, on his neck, down his chest, and Derek pants his release and bites his lip. God, it’s so fucking sexy to see Stiles like this. A filthy mess with shiny red lips that he licks, eats Derek’s come right off of his own face happily, and smiles thinly at him.

Derek’s heart aches.

“My sweet boy,” he says, and Stiles leans into the gentle brush of Derek’s fingers in his hair. He’s still silent, mute, and Derek is quick to stuff his dick into his pants and stand, because it’s not about him anymore. Stiles is silent and stuck in his head, and it’s Derek’s job to fish him out with praise and warmth and love; he’s happy to do it. “I think it’s bath time, don’t you?”

Stiles makes a face like he’d do just about anything Derek said right about now, and Derek leans down and collects him into his arms. He carries Stiles bridal style into the master bathroom where the floors are heated and places him down on the tile beside the tub. He turns it on hot, leaning over with his sleeves rolled up, switching his gaze between the rising water and Stiles every few seconds.

Stiles sits with his back pressed against the wall, collar still on, with come all over his face, and says nothing. He blinks serenely at the rising steam and Derek, feet pressing against Derek’s legs where they’re spread out in front of him. He nudges his toes into Derek like he just wants contact, and Derek puts his hand on Stiles’ ankle and strokes his fingers there as a comfort. “I love you,” he says, and Stiles smiles at him with all his teeth.

“I love you,” he says back, and Derek wants to ball him up in a blanket and keep him safe from the outside world, forever.

Derek dips him gently into the tub when it’s warm enough, undoing the ropes and tossing them to the side. He takes the collar off as well, gently setting it aside and out of Stiles’ line of sight so he doesn’t even think about that right now. Stiles settles into the wall and sighs, leaning into the steam and spreading his body out long and thin, skin pebbling with steam.

He’s quiet as Derek kneels beside the tub and just waits for him to be ready to talk. Derek leans his chin in his palm and stares at him expectantly, while Stiles floats in the water with a thin, comfortable smile on his face. It goes on for five minutes, easily, before Stiles turns to look directly at him. He says, “that was fun,” in a genuine tone, and Derek breathes out a sigh of relief. “I liked having you so close to me the whole time. It was so…soft.”

“Soft,” Derek repeats. It’s a callback to what Erica had said to him earlier. He had said it with a scoff then, but now…

“Yeah. You can be very soft, daddy,” he says with a wink, and Derek licks his lips and doesn’t meet Stiles’ eyes. No. No, he can’t be. “I liked that scene, let’s do it again sometime.”

Derek traces the side of Stiles’ face with his eyes, while Stiles obliviously reaches for the bath salt and pours some in to emit an aroma that’s similar to a cologne he likes to wear. Stiles thinks Derek hangs the moon. Stiles thinks that Derek is safe and warm and everything a good person should be. Stiles trusts Derek, implicitly, and almost to a fault.

Stiles is naïve.

Chapter Text

Stiles thinks his own snore wakes him up. He jolts awake and blinks, feeling a crick in his neck and blinking in confusion around himself. As he sits up, he realizes that he had been fast asleep on Derek’s shoulder, so he stares blearily at the man in question for a solid five seconds as he tries to put together what just happened.

The television is on, and Derek is sitting with his phone in his lap in sweatpants and no shirt, turning to look at Stiles the longer he stares. Stiles says, “I fell asleep.”

“I became aware of that, yes.”

Stiles blinks some more. “I drooled all over your shoulder.”

“That is also something I was hyper-aware of.”

Stiles rubs at his sore neck and pouts sleepily, before reaching out and swiping away some of his saliva from Derek’s bare shoulder. “Gross, gross,” he winces, and Derek just sort of shrugs it off. Well, of course he wouldn’t think it’s that fucking gross, Stiles wagers – Derek has had Stiles’ tongue inside his mouth more times than either of them could ever possibly count, so a bit of Stiles’ mouth juices getting on his shoulder is likely nothing to him at this point.

After deeming Derek’s shoulder dry enough, Stiles turns his attention to the TV. Suddenly, he remembers why he fell asleep in the first place. “Oh, this shit is still on?” He gestures to the screen, and Derek raises his eyebrows and nods like yes, yes it is.

Stiles had been benign and allowed Derek to choose what they watch for the first time in months, and in all honesty, he’s never regretted anything more in his life. Derek had chosen a docu-series about people who clip coupons. Stiles couldn’t make this shit up if he tried – because, yes. Multi-millionaire drug lord Derek Hale really sat down and decided he wanted to see how the rest of the world lives; he seems fascinated by it. Like he’s never seen a coupon a day in his fucking life. Stiles remembers in the twenty minutes before he passed out that Derek watched in wonderment these people who stock up their basements with canned food and toothpaste and big jugs of soda, lips parted and eyes transfixed, like this is a nature documentary and not real and actual people who clip coupons because saving money is something they really need to do.

“Fuck it,” he grouses, arranging himself on the couch to plop his head into Derek’s lap, “I’m going back to sleep. Wake me when this is over so I can put on Attack on Titan.”

“No more Attack on Titan,” Derek says, stroking his fingers in Stiles’ hair and then down his neck. “I can’t watch that shit anymore.”

“You promised me Netflix rule,” Stiles mutters into Derek’s sweats sleepily. “You’ll watch it and you’ll like it.”

“I hate it.”

“Shhh. Sleep now.”

The last thing Stiles remembers before falling asleep again is Derek’s fingers in his hair, slowly lulling him into dreamstate.

***

Stiles wakes up a second time, and Derek has got his arms around him. Disoriented, he complains with wordless sounds and tries to bat Derek’s hands off of him, to no avail. “Come on, to bed.”

“No,” Stiles says, clueless. “I’m tired, come on.”

Before Stiles can have anything else to say about it, Derek is picking him up that effortless way he always is and carrying him. Stiles sways with Derek’s movements, eyes half-open and grouchy, arms wrung around his neck. “You’ve been working too much,” Derek accuses, and Stiles thinks that that’s an absurd thing for Derek to say. Derek doesn’t come home some nights. Derek has two jobs that drain him half to the point of misery. Derek never really talks about what happens during his days and holds it all inside to slowly eat him away from the center. Compared to Derek, Stiles is a lazy sack of couch potatoes.

None of this is something he can really extend the energy to speak out loud, so he just makes a noise of disagreement vaguely and then flops his head on Derek’s shoulder and closes his eyes. By the time he’s half asleep again, Derek is depositing him gently into the bed. Stiles had been annoyed before, but now he’s grateful for the familiarity of his pillow and the softness of Derek’s sheets. He burrows deep into them, almost out like a light, and then –

Derek is undoing his pants. Stiles smacks his hands so hard the noise nearly echoes in the room. “No,” he snaps, and Derek huffs. “I’m going to sleep.”

“I know that. You’re not sleeping all night in your jeans.”

Oh, okay, Stiles thinks, slowly pulling his hands away and closing his eyes again. Derek does slide Stiles’ pants off his legs, leaving Stiles only in his pretty pinks and a white undershirt, and he has to admit, he’s more comfortable this way. Derek doesn’t put his hands on Stiles otherwise – just pulls the covers over him and pets at his hair. He’s always doing that, Stiles notes half-cognizantly. He’s always touching Stiles’ hair. Stiles supposes that Derek likes it; after all, Stiles conditions. It’s feather light.

Derek plops on the bed beside him, likely to read e-mails or do work or whatever the hell it is that he does. Stiles immediately takes Derek’s closest arm hostage, tugging it against his body and holding on for dear life like it’s a stuffed animal. It’s necessary, and Derek knows it is, so he doesn’t pull away – Stiles never has the nightmares when Derek’s arms are around him. There’s no place safer than Derek’s bed, Derek’s arms, Derek’s anything.

Well. Being in Derek’s life at all is decidedly unsafe. Stiles ignores that.

***

The romantic weirdness begins early the next morning. Stiles isn’t saying that Derek isn’t typically romantic, because he can be and he is, but never to the extent with which he goes at it over the next series of days. Derek’s romance is generally just throwing money at Stiles and fucking him, which is fine enough for Stiles anyway, but he’s never really been big on the sweet nothings – or, read as, the things that don’t actually cost anything or at least not very much at all.

It begins with Derek bursting into the bedroom very early on Saturday morning with a tray of food. Stiles sits up, surprised, eyes big in his head, as Derek’s tray tinkles with the fine china spread out on top of it – there’s a rose in a tiny little vase of water, for Christ’s sake. “Breakfast?” Stiles says, mystified.

“In bed,” Derek tacks onto the end, slowly and carefully setting the tray down in the center of the bed and then climbing up onto Stiles’ other side. He’s still in just sweats and bare chested, and Stiles licks his lips because they’re hanging low on his hips and Derek works out so he’s toned and hotter than hell…but the food turns out to be much more enticing than even that.

There’s pancakes and hashbrowns and some toast with a little saucer of Stiles’ favorite kind of jam, a mug of coffee, a small glass of what has to be fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, and some syrup on the side. Stiles immediately reaches for the knife to slice up his pancakes the way he likes them, but Derek stops him. “I’ll do that, baby,” he says, soft and gentle and sincere, and Stiles could fucking melt like the pat of butter on top of the cakes just from that alone.

True to his word, he cuts Stiles’ pancakes just right. Like a pizza, Stiles always says. “You are being very soft today,” Stiles accuses with a big grin, taking the fork when it’s offered back to him by Derek. “You sample the product, or what?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “So I have to be on drugs to want to do nice things for you?”

“No, it’s just –“ he gestures to the plate, chewing on a pancake triangle and shrugging. “…it’s cute. That’s not really a word I’d use to define anything you do, but this is cute.”

“Try the hashbrowns,” Derek says, changing the subject. “I grated the potatoes by hand.”

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles half-hollers, scooping up a giant forkful of the potatoes and shoving them into his mouth. And, holy hell. Yeah. Those are fucking gourmet good. “What, did you get up at five in the fucking morning to do this?”

Derek tilts his hand around in the air. “Around there. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you.”

Stiles makes a dubious expression. “You just felt bad for forcing me to watch that docu-series about coupon clipping.”

With a huge, shit-eating grin, Derek says, “you got me.”

Truth is, Stiles doesn’t really care why Derek did it. It’s bizarrely thoughtful, even for him, so he just leans forward with a smile and pecks him on the lips. “I have the best boyfriend, everyone says so.”

“Oh, do they?” Derek kisses him again, on the cheek, and Stiles pulls away while making a face before spearing some more potatoes onto his fork.

“Yeah, they’re like – he’s so fancy and cool and sexy and he grates potatoes by hand at five am just to feed his boyfriend. He’s a dreamboat.”

“Stop making fun of me, and eat your food.”

***

The next thing is a small box of chocolate samplers left out on the dining room table with a note taped to the front in Derek’s chicken scratch, sitting beside the remote for the TV so Stiles would be bound to see it. The note reads :

Baby, I’ll be late. I was thinking of you, so I picked these up. Don’t wait for me, and get some sleep. I love you – D.H.

Stiles stares at the note for a long time. Then, he looks around himself in disbelief, as if there’s an imaginary camera he can stare into with an audience behind the fourth wall that’s going to share in his abject bewilderment with him – this is so fucking…dumb. It’s so fucking stupid, Stiles’ face feels all hot and his heart flutters in his chest. He hasn’t felt this way about Derek since they were just sexting each other at the start.

It’s so cheesy. Stiles is gobbling it up. He eats the chocolate and watches TV, falling asleep on the couch with his favorite blanket over the top of him. When he wakes up in a sea of chocolate wrappers, the TV is off and Derek is standing over him, a silhouette in the dark. He says, “I see you saved me absolutely no chocolate.”

“It was for me,” he slurs sleepily, and Derek bends down so they’re at eye level.

The look on his face is adoring. Soft, and gentle, and so, so much love. “Yes, it was,” he says, like there’s a double meaning there somewhere.

***

Stiles walks out to his car on a crisp morning in Derek’s garage to head off to work. Derek had already been gone when he awoke, his side of the bed done up, a note on the fridge white board reading still asleep when I left – there’s coffee made. He’s always vanishing like that, Stiles has taken note of over the course of their relationship. He has a habit of just…going. He’s restless, and once he’s awake, there’s no snoozing in bed. Either he’s fucking Stiles or he’s out of bed, period.

As he comes around to the driver’s side and unlocks the door, he catches sight of something sitting on the windshield, tucked underneath one of his wipers. He furrows his brow and steps all the way around to the front to get a better look at it, and then he can’t help it – his face splits into a grin.

It's a marigold. Stiles has mentioned in passing maybe twice at most, over the course of more than a year, that he has a preference towards marigolds when it comes to flowers. It’s unbelievable that Derek could remember such a stupid, inane detail like that, especially since it hasn’t come up since the last time Stiles mentioned it – but here he is, remembering it. Stiles gently lifts the wiper and picks it up, leaning down to sniff at it with a stupid smile on his face.

There’s a little card attached, so Stiles picks at it and opens it up.

You didn’t think I remembered, did you? – D.H.

Stiles hates him. “Idiot,” he hisses out into the silence of the garage with a big grin on, hugging the flower and the note close against his chest.

***

“And he’s just so romantic these days,” Stiles gushes into the phone, putting on a pot for tea and leaning back against the counter with his free arm across his chest. “He’s always been good at grand gestures, you know.”

“Right,” Scott says on the other end. He sounds distracted.

“Just because he’s got so much money. But, I don’t know…” he looks across the kitchen, to the window beside the breakfast nook, and sighs. “The little things add up. It’s just so…sweet. Which is not a word I’d use to describe him.”

There’s a pause, and then Scott is grumbling something that Stiles can’t make out. “...it’s not a word I’d use to describe him either,” he says, and Stiles palms his forehead.

“I thought we were over the part where you hated him.”

“I don’t hate him,” he immediately defends, though there’s a note in his voice that suggests that maybe, just a little bit, he really does. “I’ve told you, I think that he’s charming. I think he’s cool and charming and laid back and he’s fine to hang around with.”

“…but?”

But,” he repeats, a sour sarcastic note there. “I think that’s also a façade that he puts on because it gets him what he wants.”

Stiles laughs. He can’t help it. His nose scrunches up and he laughs, shaking his head. It’s just so ridiculous. “Derek’s not some manipulative sociopath who only does things to get his way.”

“I’m not saying that. I’m saying, he’s calculated. He’s not really like the way that he presents himself.”

“Uh, so you are saying –“

“There’s the Derek that takes you and your friends out and buys them everything and smiles and acts like nothing bothers him. And then there’s the Derek that turns around and becomes someone else the second you’re not looking.”

With a deep breath through his nose, Stiles hugs himself a bit tighter around the chest. This is not how he expected this conversation to go. He and Scott haven’t spoken very much as of late, which pretty much boils down to Stiles really not hanging around with anyone except for Derek – Scott isn’t his only friend, but he’s Stiles’ only really good friend. So if Stiles isn’t talking to Scott, he’s not talking to much of anyone. He had called and they had talked about Kira and how things are going and Scott is thinking about getting a dog and it had been fine.

And then Stiles brought up Derek. And Scott…got weird. Stiles rubs his forehead and swallows, thick. “He’s not two different people,” he half-laughs as he says it, even as a sinking feeling starts up in his chest as the words come out.

He has had to argue that point too many times. Way too many times. If something really isn’t true, you should only have to argue it once.

“I would say that he is,” Scott’s voice is a bit solemn, and Stiles doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. “I know you think he’s the greatest, but I think…God, okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to be that asshole who can’t be happy for you, but I just think…the money? It clouds your judgment. It was okay when you were just, uh…kinking around with him and all that, but now it’s like…it’s like you’re gonna marry him or something? Which is insane.”

Stiles has got a lump in his throat. “Why is that insane?”

“Uh, because it’s insane!” Now Scott is yelling at him, and Stiles steps away from the counter and starts to pace, fantasizing about hanging up on him. “It’s bonkers, holy shit! The guy is – I mean! He…among a host of other things, he’s unreliable! You don’t know what he does when you’re not around!”

“I know exactly what he does when I’m not around,” he shoots back.

“Then tell me. Tell me exactly what it is that he does.”

“I –“ Stiles starts, and then he can’t finish. His mouth opens and closes. He supposes he could come up with something – he could say any number of things. He could say that Derek does drug deals. That he’s a part of a crime ring. That he has a gun and he beats the shit out of people who don’t pay him when they owe him, that he’s a part of an organization that capitalizes on the weak and vulnerable, that he does all of these things and then he comes home and puts his hands on Stiles and Stiles is okay with that.

But he can’t say those things out loud. Holy shit, he can’t vocalize any of those things, even while knowing they’re the truth. He had said way back, after Kate had cut his finger off, that he wanted to be more involved.

Derek hasn’t involved him in anything. Derek has kept him from it, twisted it in such a way so Stiles felt like he always knew where he was going and what he was doing and why, but Stiles is ignorant. He knows the generals, and even those, he cannot speak.

“You barely even talk to me anymore,” Scott goes on after Stiles’ silence persists for too long. “When’s the last time you called your father, even? You don’t find it odd that he cuts you off from everyone else…”

“He doesn’t do that,” Stiles shouts, because Derek doesn’t do that. But he gets, he really does get, how someone on the outside could think that. Stiles does that. Stiles cuts himself off from everyone else, and Stiles only thinks about Derek, and Stiles is obsessed with him, and Stiles never calls his father back. Derek would never, never, keep him from his friends and family.

But Stiles is gone on this. It’s not Derek’s fault.

“I think the dude is a piece of shit, and I’m sort of tired of pretending it’s normal?” He clears his throat, and Stiles listens to the noise and feels it to be something from a stranger.

“I can’t believe you’re trying to ruin this for me.” This is an accusation, and Scott sighs on the other line in what seems to be resignation. “I can’t believe you’ve got everything so fucking wrong, God, do you think I could be with someone who manipulated me like that? After – after everything that happened?”

“I think you’ve always been drawn to terrible people,” he says, voice very even. Stiles shakes his head – Christopher was an anomaly. A mistake. And, yeah, his boyfriends before that weren’t great either but it’s just because he…it’s just because… “I think you always get the idea in your head that you can change them. Or, like, they’re not as bad as they are.”

Stiles looks at his hand. Curls the fingers against his palm so he can’t really tell what’s missing.

“Derek is a very bad person who does very bad things. Love doesn’t kill monsters, you know?”

But Derek loves Stiles. And Stiles has already made up his mind, monster or not. With a vindictive jab of his finger, he ends the call and throws his phone onto the counter, gripping the edges of it with his fingers as he leans back against it and tilts his neck back, facing the ceiling.

He squeezes his eyes shut. God, it’s not like Scott would know anything about them. It’s not like Scott would have any idea whatsoever what Derek is like when it’s just he and Stiles alone, and it’s not like Scott would know how Derek treats him and talks to him – like he’s everything. Like he’s the most important person on the face of the planet, like nothing could come between them, not now, not ever.

And then, you know, it’s funny. Something already has come between them. Something has been coming between them since the day they met one another. And Derek doesn’t seem to be making any serious strides towards getting rid of it. No, not at all.

Stiles stands there. He puts his hand over his face and he thinks that monsters are things that hide under his bed, or that live in the closet and only come out when the lights are off. Monsters are things that go into shadows and do bad things where no one can see them, and they prey on the weak, and they hide their bad dealings from the world, because discovery would mean instant persecution.

That can’t be Derek. That just can’t be Derek. Stiles couldn’t fall in love with a monster, he couldn’t, he…did once. A long time ago.

Scott had been right at least about one thing. Love doesn’t kill monsters. The only thing that can kill monsters are other monsters. And Derek had…

It’s abrupt, the crying. One moment he’s just standing there, and the next, he is crying. He puts his hand over his mouth and shakes his head, a strangled noise coming out of his throat. In Derek’s multi-million dollar kitchen where everything is shiny and pristine and perfect, Stiles hunches down into a ball on the floor right next to the oven and cries. With his face buried into his knees, he knows, deep down, that Scott is right. That his father is right. That maybe, just maybe, Derek is right to call himself a bad person. That maybe, no matter how much we may love someone, there comes a point where the excuses don’t cut it anymore.

The kettle screams at him from up above, and with an aggravated jerk without thinking about it, he reaches up to push it off of the burner with his bare hand. It burns him, instantly, but the screeching stops. He pulls his injured hand up against his chest with a pained cry and curls in on himself more deeply.

This is not something that he’s going to act on, he knows. The time for acting on any of this would’ve been months ago, maybe even a year ago – and he has stalled. He has put his complete and total faith in Derek, maybe not to do the right thing, but to just…be better. To be someone Stiles could rely on. To be someone he could trust.

Derek has bought him things. Derek has treated him nicely. Derek has shown him off. Derek has been sweet almost to the point of teeth-rotting. But he has never, not once, been who Stiles has deluded himself into thinking that he is. The money.

It always comes back to the money.

Wiping with his good hand at his eyes, he sniffles and pulls his mangled hand up to inspect. It’s bad. It’s a bad burn, he can already tell. On the same hand where he’s only got four fingers, his palm is festering and will likely puss and he needs to put burn ointment on it, but he just sits there and stares at it. The hurt aches, and he thumps his head back against the stove.

There’s nothing that he can do about this now, he thinks, turning his injury over and over again. He’s already sold his soul. It just sucks that he’s too much of a coward to ever really tell Derek the truth about how he feels. Sometimes, Stiles thinks that maybe if he were honest, Derek would change for him. Derek gives him everything else, so why not that?

As if summoned by Stiles’ brain power alone, the front door clicks open and then slams shut – and Derek is back home. Stiles has this thought of getting up and locking himself in the bathroom to wash his face and bandage his burn, saying no no it’s fine just hurt myself on the stove no big deal nothing’s wrong it’s fine in response to Derek’s likely questioning as to what’s going on in there. He thinks about lying, like he always does. Like Derek might always do.

Instead, he just sits there and Derek’s footsteps approach. “Stiles?” He calls, and Stiles sniffles and looks up at the ceiling.

“Yeah?” He calls back, his voice cracking a bit.

“I got you something,” and he appears in the divide between the kitchen and the living room like a ghost. He pauses mid-step, taking in the scene in front of him as his face goes from vague delight at finally being home with Stiles straight to immediate dismay. His lips curl down into a frown and part, his brow furrows. He’s holding a box of candy in his hands.

Stiles holds his arms out as a silent demand for comfort, and Derek doesn’t hesitate. He puts the box on the kitchen counter and hurries over, quickly shutting the stove burner off before leaning down and wrapping Stiles up in his arms.

Stiles presses his face into Derek’s neck and sniffles there, holding on for dear life. “I got in a big fight with Scott,” he murmurs, and Derek rubs his back up and down, up and down, soothing. “It was bad. He said some things…he said some things.”

“What things?”

He burrows deeper into Derek like he’s hiding. “About you.”

Stiles can feel Derek’s body stiffen against him as soon as the words come out, and he closes his eyes tight. Of course Derek already knows what Scott has said about him, of course. They’re likely the things Derek thinks about himself in his own head on any given day. “What about me?”

“Just – he said – he called you…” and his mouth goes dry as he tries to push the word out, “…a monster.”

Stiles didn’t know what he had been expecting Derek’s reaction to be – maybe anger? Indignation? Shock? Something? Instead, Derek pulls away and looks Stiles right in his face, and Stiles can’t read what Derek’s expression means. “Hm,” he says, cocking his head to the side. He almost looks like he’s critically thinking about the word itself. “He said that, huh?”

Not knowing what he’s meant to say, Stiles just turns his face away and stares down the hallway, shrugging. Yes, he said that. Among other things, he certainly said that.

“What do you think about that?” Derek presses, shifting a bit so their bodies are even closer than before. “Do you think I’m a monster?”

“No,” is Stiles’ instant answer, as he shakes his head and wipes at his eyes. “But maybe I understand how he could…think that.”

Derek nods. He looks serious. “Maybe I understand how he could think that, too.”

This is not going how Stiles had thought it was gonna go. It’s not that Derek has a short fuse…or maybe it’s exactly that. It’s one of those things that Stiles doesn’t ever really think about, because his short fuse is sort of reserved for everyone else aside from Stiles – but he knows it exists, and he’s seen it before. This is one of those things Stiles had expected to set Derek off, the sheer idea of someone slandering him in Stiles’ presence, but he seems almost…serene.

“Well it just sucks,” Stiles curls in on himself a bit, hunching. “It just really sucks, it sucks, it sucks. My dad and Scott and everyone else, they don’t know you like I do. I know – I know you.”

Derek looks at him for a moment. He doesn’t say anything, so Stiles keeps talking.

“I know you. And I know what you would do and what you wouldn’t, and maybe Scott doesn’t know that, but I do. He just doesn’t understand.” Where before, without Derek here, he had been sure that maybe Scott was right and maybe things aren’t always what Stiles wants them to be in regards to himself and Derek, the tides have suddenly turned in his head.

Just having Derek here, all soft and warm and kind, just for him…it does things to him. See, this person in front of him right now could never be like what Scott thinks that he is. He could never really be a monster, not like Christopher was, not like the idea that Scott’s got in his head. Nothing like that. Stiles is sure of it.

Derek has nothing to say to this. He seems oddly withdrawn, looking off to the side for just a quick moment before turning back to see Stiles directly. His eyes drift down, and immediately he latches onto the first distraction he can find. “What happened to your hand?” He demands, picking it up gently by the fingers and inspecting the festering wound growing there.

“Oh, I – burned it,” Stiles waves it off, like it’s not a big deal. “On the kettle. It’s fine, it’s –“

“It’s bad,” Derek argues, and then he’s hefting Stiles up to stand on his feet. Suddenly, Stiles is being moved away from the scene of the crime. The distance between him and where he had been yelling at Scott on the phone makes him feel like it happened to someone else, not to him. Derek pulls him along by his wrist into the master bathroom, where Stiles blinks at him as he seriously digs around in his medicine cabinet for wound treatment supplies. He comes up with some burn ointment and a bandage, setting them down on the sink and then gesturing for Stiles’ hand. “Give it here.”

“It’s really not that bad,” he says again, a little whiplashed from this evening as a whole. Fighting with Scott, crying, burning his hand, crying more, Derek acting all weird about everything, and now being in this bathroom while Derek studiously dabs his palm with cream. It stings, so Stiles hisses and tries to pull away at first, but Derek holds him in a vice grip and keeps pressing the stuff into his palm.

Derek finishes it off with some aloe vera that makes the burn feel cool and crisp instead of like it’s on fire still, and then studiously wraps it up with some ace bandaging. He clips it all together and then inspects his work with a twist to his face, before looking up to meet Stiles’ eyes. “I didn’t think I’d have to tell you to not put your hand on a boiling hot metal kettle, but apparently…”

“It was an accident, dick,” he defends, cradling his injury against his chest. “I was upset and the thing was yelling at me and I just shoved it without thinking.”

“It’s okay,” Derek’s eyes crinkle at the corners. “One time I put my hand right on the waffle iron to test if it was hot enough.”

“Oh, and I’m the idiot.”

Derek smiles at him and steps into his personal space, reaching out to poke at the tear-stained spots on his cheeks affectionately. “You know I hate seeing you that upset.”

“Yeah, well…” he shrugs, looking away. What else is he supposed to do? What else are they supposed to say?

“I’m sorry you and your friend are fighting,” is all Derek has to say on the matter, when all is said and done. That’s the last either of them say about it. No mention of the specific things they fought about, no mention of what Scott had said, no discussion of how true it is or isn’t. Derek is sorry that he and Scott aren’t talking and likely won’t be talking for some time, and that’s that.

Stiles is sorry for the same. And more.

***

Daddy, 1:34 PM : I have some terrible news.
Me, 1:34 PM : What??????????????????
Daddy, 1:35 PM : My sister has imperiously contacted me and demanded to meet you.
Me, 1:36 PM : …………okay ……
Me, 1:36 PM : Number one : please do not BEGIN CONVERSATIONS WITH ME WITH “I HAVE TERRIBLE NEWS.” I THOUGHT SOMEONE WAS DEAD
Daddy, 1:36 PM : I said I have terrible news and then mentioned my sister. It all checks out.
Me, 1:38 PM : Oh my GOD….Laura?
Daddy, 1:39 PM : Laura would be a Jamaican beach, comparably.

Stiles puts his phone down on his desk for a moment, raising his eyebrows. The other sister? Stiles had thought that she and Derek at least somewhat got along, seeing as how Cora is the photographer sister that took all of Derek’s facebook pictures, including the one that hooked Stiles in the first place. Not to mention, she’s the one that actually speaks to him.

If Laura is a Jamaican fucking beach as compared to Cora…Jesus, Stiles can’t even imagine.

Daddy, 1:41 PM : She wants to do a double date.
Me, 1:43 PM : oh……………..with the snake queen
Daddy, 1:44 PM : You see now why I used the term “terrible news.” I’d rather a dead body.
Me, 1:45 PM : Well, say no? You’re, you know…you. You can say no.
Daddy, 1:46 PM : The women in my life have always had a tendency of steamrolling me. I said no. She said : see you then.
Me, 1:47 PM : Okay. Well, fine, it sounds fine. What, dinner?
Daddy, 1:48 PM : Dinner. Ballbusting. My pride and dignity hung out to dry under the guillotine.
Me, 1:50 PM : Best Leading Man in a Drama : Derek Hale.
Daddy, 1:53 : Listen. We need to get one thing clear here. Cora is a genuinely nice person. She’s very naïve. But her and Lydia together, for whatever reason, has always been like putting firecrackers in a barrel. I’ve often thought Lydia makes her worse.
Me, 1:55 PM : Worse????
Daddy, 1:57 PM : A negative influence, we’ll say.
Me, 1:59 PM : I’m sure it’ll be fine lmao.
Daddy, 2:02 PM : Well, I’m fucking dreading it.
Me, 2:04 PM : aawwww….would it make you feel better if I sent you a special picture? (:
Daddy, 2:05 PM : You literally always know the exact right thing to do to cheer me up. Let’s see it.

Stiles has started taking pictures of himself for sport, these days. It used to be that he’d only do it when there was an incentive to – like Derek asking him, or if he wanted something, or if he was looking for a fuck and had to get Derek distracted from whatever it was he was doing to get it. These days, since he lives with Derek, there’s not a ton of reasons for him to be taking pictures of himself to send to Derek. Considering the fact that they live together now and Stiles gets fucked more nights than he doesn’t, he doesn’t really need to be sending pictures out even once a week, like he used to.

Still, he likes taking pictures of himself when he’s bored and it’s fun, so he still does it from time to time. He’s got well over a hundred objects of lingerie and clothing to choose from these days, because Derek is obsessed with buying that stuff for him even when he’s got more than anyone one person could need. Sometimes it entertains him to put on an outfit and slut-out in private, especially when Derek is out on a late night. Stiles has to keep himself occupied somehow.

Point being, he’s got a bunch to choose from. He’s got them all in a locked album on his phone, and he figures there’s no better time than Derek freaking out because his sister wants to double date with him to pull them out and use their powers for the greater good.

He opens it up and starts scrolling, sort of hunching himself down over his phone so no one around him in the office can see what he’s looking at. Honestly even if they did, he thinks with a snort, what are they going to say to him? He would love for the homophobe that sits across from his desk to make a comment. He would relish it.

As he goes, studiously examining each image, he chews a bit on what’s unravelling from his burn bandage absentmindedly. He doesn’t even really feel that embarrassed about any of it. There are pictures of him in school girl skirts and knee highs, his legs spread open to reveal satin or lace underwear. Pictures of him in his collar from the lips down, fingers tugging at it almost desperately. Pictures of him in nothing, pictures of him licking his fingers or sucking on them or poking at his hole with them, and on and on and on. And really, he has next to no reaction to any of them. He’s desensitized to his own sluttiness. Probably in big thanks to Derek.

Then, he comes across one that nearly has him choking on his own laughter as he attempts to stifle it. Oh, yes, he thinks, tapping the thumbnail so he can see it in all its glory. This is the winning number.

It’s not the most ridiculous one in his archives (he’s willing to bet what Derek’s got on his phone would make half of the ones here pale in comparison), but it’s definitely top five. He remembers that he had to set his phone up wedged against a candle on the bedside table on its side to get the full image, and then he laughs some more when he thinks of the effort he puts into these stupid pictures on the off chance that he’ll get the opportunity to show them to Derek. Jesus Christ.

In it, he’s on all fours on their bed. He’s wearing baby blue boy shorts and his collar, nothing else – his skin is creamy in the dim light from the lamp across the room. The bulge in his underwear is clearly visible thanks to the lighting and the angle, but the interesting bit of the entire image is the fact that he’s got a hot pink dildo in his hand that Derek had bought him only a few days earlier. Mostly, Derek uses it just to tease him or to watch him fuck himself with it for his own bizarre delight – in the picture, Stiles is licking it. In a big, overdramatized way, too – mouth wide open, tongue wide as it rolls over a silicone vein, his eyes looking directly into the camera. It’s the most campy, absurd image of him he’s ever seen, and he snorts.

He immediately sends it without a second thought.

It is not surprising to him at all, whatsoever that a minute after sending it to Derek, Stiles’ phone is buzzing on his desk. He bites his finger around his bandage and quickly scoops the phone up, hightailing it out of the main office and into the abandoned hallway with the never used vending machines, just like every other time Derek has called him at work.

“Hello?” Stiles says as he picks up, all the innocence in the world.

“When the fuck did you take that picture?” Derek demands, sounding a bit out of breath. He must be hiding somewhere in his own office, too. “You did not take that today.”

“No,” he admits, shrugging, checking over to his shoulder to make sure no one’s listening. “Sometimes I just take pictures of myself. I’ve got tons of them, you’ve never seen.”

“Yeah?” Again, he sounds out of breath. Stiles is beginning to suspect he’s jerking off, but he won’t bring it up just yet. “Send me more.”

“Nope. Those are special pictures. You don’t get to choose when you see them, I do.”

“Is that right?”

“Yup,” his lips pop on the p, and he knows that Derek is going to be driven wild by the sheer thought of dozens of images just like that one being hidden away in Stiles’ phone, used like bargaining chips for Stiles to get what he wants. It’s a lucky thing, then, that these days Stiles just wants Derek to do things to him. Any thing. All the things.

“Fuck,” he mutters, and Stiles bites his lip. “I need you to talk to me off.”

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles hisses a laugh and looks over his shoulder again, before ducking into the space between the last machine and the wall to hide. “You’re really this worked up about your sister coming to meet me?”

“Don’t mention my sister right now, my dick is in my hand.”

“Oh, God…”

“Come on,” he says, breath intense on the other line. “Call me daddy.”

Stiles presses his forehead against the off-white wall, grinning to himself as his cheeks go ruddy red. “I miss you, daddy,” he says, voice soft and low. “I miss your hands on me.”

“Tell me what you want me to do to you, baby.”

Another glance down the hallway, before Stiles ducks himself back into his hiding spot. He leans against the wall and breathes through his nose, lifting his eyes to the ceiling. Derek is so much better at dirty talk than he will ever be, but Stiles can at least fumble his way through it if need be. “I want you to make me cry with your cock. It’s so big.”

Fuck…” He grunts, and Stiles can tell he’s close. He’s going at it so hard Stiles can hear the fap fap fap in the distance on the other line and it makes his own cock jump in his panties, a little drizzle of pre-come dampening the front.

“I want to put my mouth around you and I want to be a good boy.”

“You are,” he promises, and then grunts again. “You are a good boy. Tell me you want to choke on it.”

Stiles puts his hand over his mouth to stifle any laughter. “I want to choke on your cock, daddy.”

That does it. Derek comes, audibly, and Stiles breathes out a sigh from between his teeth, looking down at the slight bulge in his own pants. “All better?” Stiles asks, and Derek pants for a moment before making a vague noise of assent. “You seem really worked up about this.”

“Well,” Derek says, and god only knows what he’s doing over there now – cleaning up his own come or zipping up or just standing there not giving a shit about any of it. “She’s the last of my family that acknowledges I exist, at least. It’s important.”

Yes, that makes sense. Laura is out there it’s true, but she may as well not be. For all intents and purposes, Derek is dead to her, and so Laura is dead to him right back. Cora is the only one left that actually…gives a shit, let’s say. It makes sense Derek would be all nervous about her meeting Stiles, considering it’s the closest he’ll ever come to having Stiles meet his mother.

“And what do you mean you’re not going to show me those pictures?”

“I said what I said,” Stiles steps out from his corner and slowly walks toward the bathroom, where he’ll sprinkle ice water on his dick to get his erection out of here to the best of his ability. “You have to earn them.”

“Insufferable tease.”

“How am I the tease when you get to come and I don’t?”

Derek makes a noise of amusement on the other line, but that’s all he offers for Stiles’ poor blue balls.

***

Those clothes that Derek had bought Stiles on their numerous shopping trips together – the fine shirts and the absurdly expensive pants and the Italian leather belts – have all sat to collect dust in Derek’s closest ever since the day they were brought home and hung up. Stiles occasionally pulls some of it out for big days at work or for nice dinners out with Derek, but mostly, they’re furniture that Stiles forgets even exist.

Today, Derek has taken every last one of them out of storage and dumped them onto his bed. He digs through them, pulls out a shirt, forces Stiles to put it on. Then, he makes a face and all but tears it off of Stiles’ frail body, muttering something under his breath about this that or the other thing, and then it’s on to the next shirt. It’s been going on for the better part of an hour, Stiles standing here in front of the floor length mirror like a rag doll in the pants and belt Derek had miraculously managed to pick rather quickly.

For a while, Stiles was almost too nervous to speak up. But now, as Derek slides Stiles’ arms into a salmon colored button down that will do nothing for his complexion whatsoever, Stiles pipes up. “I thought we decided red.”

Derek’s face is serious. He steps back, observing the salmon shirt. His brow furrows. “Has anyone ever told you that pink does not suit you? Any shade of pink. My God.”

Frustrated, Stiles throws his hands in the air. “I am putting on a red shirt, and you are getting out of my face.” He turns on his heel, throwing the shirt off of his body and tossing it onto the floor. As Derek follows, he actually steps on the thing without a care in the world – like the thousand dollar price tag means literally nothing to him. Which is on par. “And might I remind you, you don’t seem so negative about me in pink when it’s some kinky ass bullshit.”

“Dinner with my sister isn’t kinky ass bullshit, that’s the entire issue,” he grouses, watching with shrewd eyes as Stiles selects a deep red shirt and throws it on. “I need to iron that.”

“You need to iron your attitude.”

You need to –“

“Oh, are we really going to bicker?” Stiles throws his arms out, and the unbuttoned shirt ripples as he does so. “Over this? You’re acting like we’re meeting the Queen of England, not some twenty-something girl and Lydia fuckin’ Martin.”

Derek is moody and quiet for all of two minutes, while Stiles buttons up his shirt and pulls down on the hem to get it looking just right. He, for one, is not that nervous. He’s been gay since before he can really remember, so girls have never, not for one second, made him anxious. And plus, Stiles feels that Derek is exaggerating about this entire thing. Jesus, she’s just a college girl. What’s the worst thing she could really do to either of them?

Then, Derek is speaking again. “We need to get the wine to the table as soon as physically possible,” he says, shoving his feet into his shoes like he’s mad at them personally. “I need to have alcohol in my hand before Lydia says even a god damn word.”

“It’s funny to me you can’t stand her, and yet you work with her.”

“She’s very good at what she does,” Derek reaches out and adjusts a strand of hair on Stiles’ head, while Stiles ducks away from the touch with a scowl. “She is a very bad at being a good person.”

Stiles hasn’t got much of a response to that, seeing as how Derek is likely right and Stiles is more than positive of that. Instead of figuring out something to say directly back, he changes trajectories. “Well, what about Cora?”

Derek waves his hand. “She will be nice, even if she decides she hates you. I just want her –“ he reaches out and fiddles with Stiles’ collar, and this time Stiles just stands there and bears it, “…to see you the way I do.”

“Which is how?”

As Derek is gently running his fingers along the fabric of Stiles’ shirt, he meets Stiles’ eyes. A slow smile spreads across his face. “That you’re different from the others. I don’t want her to think for one second that you’re anything like what Laura has probably told her that you are.”

Laura probably gave Cora quite the earful after meeting Stiles that fateful encounter some odd weeks ago. It makes Stiles’ skin crawl to think that there’s someone out there that doesn’t know him, not at all, but assumes that they do and spreads lies about him for no reason other than it’s easier than dealing with her own issues head on.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Stiles says, to which Derek nods absentmindedly and frets some more.

When they walk into the restaurant and get led off to their table by a friendly hostess, Lydia and the girl who must be Cora are already sitting at their table. It’s a nice one, right up against a wide window overlooking a closed patio with twinkle lights dangling from awnings so the girls’ faces are all lit up in dramatic ambiance. Lydia is and has always been, of course, very beautiful – even when she’s cruel and heartless, she’s beautiful, so it’s not so shocking to see her done up and fitting in with the atmosphere effortlessly like a fine piece of art hung on the walls.

But it is very surprising to see how beautiful Cora is. Laura is as attractive as the rest of them, but she doesn’t have the ethereal glow that the wealthy curate around themselves in fancy clothes and an expert skin care routine. Laura is a mother and has bills to pay and things to really worry about, and it shows on her face.

Cora’s face is young and open and her skin is pristine and her hair sleek and she smiles with all her teeth as soon as she sees Stiles and Derek coming their way. She stands up from the table, dress glittering in the dim lighting, while Lydia just leans back in her chair and purses her lips like she’s being put through a great trial having to sit here in this restaurant making nice with a prole like Stiles.

She’s tall. Almost as tall as Derek in her heels, coming towards the both of them like a seagull about to take flight, arms outstretched already to envelope either one of them in a tight hug. She calls, “hiiiii,” breathy and long and genuine, grabbing Derek first and pulling him close. “Ah, you smell just like you.”

Stiles stands back for a moment and watches them embrace, catching Lydia’s eyes. She lifts a single brow at him, and Stiles just blinks back at her and turns back to the more interesting sight to behold. Cora pulls away from Derek and pats his face with slim fingers, before settling her eyes on Stiles very, very intensely. All the Hales have that way of looking at people, Stiles guesses. It’s not mean on Cora necessarily, it’s just…assessing. Like she’s trying to read his mind.

“You do not look how I imagined you,” she says, though not unkindly. She says it very casually, looking him up and down and cocking her head to the side like she’s examining a puppy at a pet store she might want to take home. “Stiles, is it?”

Her hand is out for Stiles to take, so he does. She tactfully ignores the missing finger and bandaging on his own. They shake and she smiles and Stiles smiles back because it’s a bit infectious. “And you’re Cora.”

“I am,” she says this like she’s agreeing that she’s the Queen of England. “I’m sure you know all about me.”

In spite of the fact that he doesn’t, not at all, Stiles knows that there’s a polite answer to this question, so that’s the answer that he gives. “Oh, yeah,” he agrees, while Derek ushers him over to his chair and gestures for him to sit. Stiles does, and Cora sits right across from him, leaning her chin into her palm.

“That’s funny,” she blinks, guileless. “I know nothing about you. Derek doesn’t really talk to me much about his personal life. Although up to this point, he hasn’t had much of one.”

Like they’re in on some private joke, she winks at him and giggles. There’s something inherently bizarre about her that Stiles can’t put his finger on for the moment, so he just nods along like yes, yes they’re certainly old friends and they’re certainly in on this together.

“That, and it’s not as though Derek has ever taken home anyone worth mentioning,” Lydia says around the lip of her wine glass, and it’s right on time. She’s gone too long without saying something shitty, Stiles wagers as he slides his eyes over to her – it must’ve been very difficult for her to keep her mouth shut this long.

Cora looks between her and Stiles for a moment. She seems to be adding up math in her head. She says, “I hear you write stories.”

“He’s a journalist,” Derek corrects, and Stiles had honest to god almost forgotten that Derek existed for a hot second. He’s surprised at his voice, attention taken away from the women in front of him to focus on the profile of Derek’s face as he lifts a finger to get a waitress’ attention.

Cora’s eyes go sincere with interest. She leans farther over the table while the waitress appears and Derek politely orders a bottle of “whatever your favorite white that you sell here is.” “You write the news?”

“Ah,” Stiles blushes a bit, because people always assume that. Like he’s Christiane Amanpour travelling the world and writing pieces on Sudan and Pakistan and North Korea – things that really matter. “I actually do the arts beat for an online mag. I go to art shows and write reviews and do think pieces and things like that.”

“Stiles likes art,” Derek says, like this is something he’s tacking onto Stiles’ imaginary resume.

“That’s cool. I mean, I don’t get art,” she shrugs.

“Who does?” Lydia mutters. She must be two glasses deep already.

“But it’s cool that you do.” She pauses for a moment, giving him that same bizarre look from before. “Derek’s never dated anyone with a real job before.”

The wine appears. Derek sits up like a dog about to get a treat while the waitress leans over and pops the bottle for them, pouring it into Stiles’ glass first, and then Derek’s, while Cora politely puts her hand over her glass to silently decline and Lydia reaches over to offer her half empty glass of red. She’s mixing red and white together. She’s tying one on a bit tight, apparently.

As the wine is being poured, Derek says, “he graduated with honors from BU.”

Like this is, again, unbelievable, Cora eyes Stiles for a moment. It’s almost as if she expects him to go up in flames at any moment or evaporate like a figment of Derek’s imagination.

“Right,” Lydia agrees, glugging down her horrible wine concoction. “The prestigious ivy covered halls of Beacon University.”

There’s a distinct jabbing noise under the table, like someone’s foot being stepped on very pointedly, and then Lydia is abruptly quiet and sullen, looking away. Cora keeps her smile in place even while hissing a be nice from between her teeth in Lydia’s direction. “So, you’re smart and you have a real job and you seem relatively normal.”

“Relatively,” Stiles agrees.

“Huh,” she leans back in her chair and raises her eyebrows, giving Derek a bit of a surprised look. In return, he makes this face like I told you so, and goes back to silently drinking his wine.

The dinner goes on mostly the same, for some time. Cora is nice and inquisitive and cordial, Lydia is cold and distant and bitter, and Derek keeps talking Stiles up like he’s about ten times better than Cora could ever even imagine. Stiles is a little embarrassed by it, being spoken about like he’s so amazing and so great when in reality he feels sort of (a lot) less than that, but Cora is impressed and interested and Derek is genuine, so Stiles just sort of grins and bears it, nodding along.

Apparently, Laura and Cora were raised on two different poles of the earth. There’s no other explanation for how they turned out so…radically opposite.

Or, maybe not so opposite.

Stiles excuses himself to the restroom at one point, wandering around for a moment before a waitress takes pity on him and asks him if he needs help with anything. She points him in the direction of the bathrooms, in the last place Stiles would think to look, and down the hall he goes.

He’s just about to push open the swinging door into the men’s room when a hand wraps around his shoulder to get his attention. He turns, half expecting it to be Derek following him in here to do god knows what with him, but instead, it’s Cora. She’s smiling and meeting his eyes, pulling him away from the door a bit with gentle tugs.

“You’re not used to being in nice places like this,” she assesses, very matter of fact. There’s no malice there, like the way Lydia might have said it or even Erica. She just says it like it’s the truth – something she’s gathered from observation. “I can tell from how you stared at your course forks like you were deciphering the Rosetta Stone.”

No matter how many times Derek has told Stiles which is the salad fork and which is the entrée fork and which is the beef course fork, Stiles cannot for the fucking life of him ever remember. Typically, he uses the same fork throughout the entire meal and Derek never comments on it – apparently, Cora has noticed. Like she seems to notice just about everything.

“Uh…”

“You went to BU on a scholarship which is why you had to work your ass off to keep a 4.0 so they wouldn’t take your full ride away, so you don’t have money and you never have,” she gets a little closer into his personal space, and Stiles honestly feels like stepping back and hiding in a corner. She’s tall, yes, but she’s slight and feminine and looks as though she’s never lifted a weight in her life – yet, she’s intimidating in a very untraceable way. “You work your own job and make your own money and you seem to really care about what it is you do. You’re obviously wearing clothes my brother dressed you in,” Stiles looks down at himself as if quandering how Cora could possibly know that. Is it that obvious? “And you seem completely unperturbed no matter how many times Lydia throws barbs your way. I’m trying to figure you out.”

Swallowing, Stiles shakes his head. “It sounds like you already have.”

“No,” she disagrees very seriously, eyes narrowing in thought. “Everyone before, I figured out. I was born into money, so I can smell a gold digger a mile away. There’s a certain aura they emit; you know? It’s in the eyes. They’re…ratty. I don’t get that from you.”

Stiles sort of wants to snort. Because, no, he’s not a gold digger in the strictest sense of the word, but he and Derek literally met and get together because Stiles wanted someone to buy him shit. While that part of their relationship is a specific component of a specific weird kink thing they’re both into, it’s still a part of their relationship. It wouldn’t do very well, however, to clue Cora in on this fact, so he simply says nothing.

“Laura seems to be committed to the notion that Derek wants to marry you. She also seems to be very unhappy with this turn of events, but leave it to my sister to turn everything into melodrama worthy of a stage.”

“Laura thought I was a woman up until very recently, so I don’t know how qualified she is to be making judgments about me.”

Cora laughs. Her nose scrunches up the same way that Derek’s does when he laughs, and she throws her head back and laughs, and laughs. It’s this breezy, carefree thing that only a person like her could ever muster from her body. This is turning into the weirdest encounter he’s ever had in a restaurant in his entire life – and that’s including the time he and Scott met a furry dressed as a purple cat outside the bathroom of a T.G.I Friday’s.

“Derek said you were funny,” she says when she’s calm enough to speak. “I like funny. I just thought he meant in, like, a mocking sort of a way.”

Stiles looks at her for a moment. A mocking sort of a way? She thought that Derek meant that Stiles is funny to laugh at? Not with? “Okay,” he starts, holding his hands up a bit while Cora just stands there smiling at him. “Where is this conversation going? You’ve cornered me outside the men’s room and I think you had a reason, so what’s up?”

Cora leans back against the closest wall, breaking up the pretense that she’s cornered him at all. She crosses her arms over her chest and lifts her chin, almost regally, and Stiles guesses that he knows what her and Lydia see in each other. While Cora is nice enough, it’s clear she’s somewhat stuck-up and spoiled. “I think Laura was at least kinda right. I think he is going to ask you to marry him.”

“I sleep with him,” Stiles agrees, nodding. “I have figured it’s been on his mind, yeah.”

“It’s all very interesting.”

“Is it?”

“It’s fascinating,” she insists, and she sounds like she truly means it. “My brother, married. To some poor, smart, ambitious twink.”

“I don’t have the ring on my finger yet.” Yet, Stiles thinks, looking away for a moment.

“He used to say no one was ever going to see anything else in him except for his money,” she leans her head against the wall and smirks, like this is amusing to her. Laura had said the exact same thing. Only she hadn’t found it very funny. “That it would be a waste to get married when they’d just shoot him in his sleep and take all his money off to remote island somewhere. You don’t seem the type to shoot a man in his sleep.”

Stiles lifts his eyebrows. “Uh…not my style, no.”

She laughs like Stiles is some amusing pet she’s screwing with. The more he speaks to her, the more he’s sure her pleasantness is something that’s learned and put on than it is something exclusively genuine. Sure, she’s nice enough, but she’s…somewhat condescending, in a very pompous, subtle type of a way.

“I think he really likes you, and more to the point, I think he really trusts you. So, my point with all this has been,” she steps away from the wall and comes closer to him again, close, close, close, until she’s so close that her face is almost touching his cheek, her voice going down deep into a murmur that no one else aside from Stiles could possibly ever hear. “…if you fuck with him I’ll make it my personal mission to ruin you, and I know that you know that I know enough of a certain kind of people to make that happen.”

Derek had said that Cora is very naïve, very innocent, very nice. Hearing this shit, Stiles thinks that Derek is the fucking naïve one, blinded by his little sister’s big eyes and pretty clothes and make up. This is a not a very innocent thing to say to a person, so as Cora pulls away and looks him square in the eyes, Stiles can only blink at her for a moment, stupefied.

Then, he finds his voice. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” he says, shrugging.

She nods her head. “If you say so. Go to the bathroom.”

With those final parting words, she turns on her heel and vanishes back into the bustle of the restaurant, leaving Stiles staring after her with a scrunched up expression on his face. This entire fucking night, he thinks : The Twilight Zone.

In the car home, Derek is a bit jovial. Which is a weird fucking word to ever use to describe Derek, but there it is – he’s jovial. Just a bit, though. “I think she liked you,” he says, and Stiles makes a noise of assent in the passenger seat, looking out the window. “It’s not like she’s hard to please, but still.”

“Uhhhhhh, yeah,” Stiles snorts, rolling his eyes to the ceiling of the car as Derek moves through an intersection on a green light. “I got the distinct impression that she liked me when she bombarded me on my way to take a god damn piss and said all this stuff about how if I fuck with you she’s gonna whack me off.”

Derek’s laugh is abrupt and loud. He follows it up with, “oh, did she?” He does not sound surprised. Which surprises Stiles to hell and back.

He turns in his seat and faces Derek directly, mouth agape. “You said she was nice and naïve and innocent.”

Derek is still amused by this entire shenanigan, it would seem, because he’s grinning from ear to ear as he drives on, shaking his head. “I meant as compared to the rest of us,” he says this around an incredulous laugh, like Stiles is so daft for thinking she was naïve by the rest of the world’s standards. “For God’s sake, she’s still a Hale, Stiles. She’s crazy.”

Stiles certainly got that impression. She went from smiling and laughing and appearing to be genuinely interested in anything Stiles said to cornering him in a dim hallway and threatening him in the most roundabout way possible. “Does this not bother you? That your sister attacked me in the hall while you were drinking wine in the other room?”

“She’s more bark than bite, first of all.”

Stiles is willing to disagree with that statement. She might not bite that hard, but Lydia certainly does. Something tells him that everything Cora wants done, Lydia does for her.

“And second of all, it’s an empty threat. I think I know you well enough by now to know that you’re never going to screw me over, so what’s there to be upset about?”

“Well,” Stiles sputters, leaning back in his seat as he crosses his arms over his chest. “It was still unpleasant.”

“I think I tried to warn you about that,” his eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiles, “You mocked me.”

“You’ve been wrong before,” Stiles accuses imperiously, and Derek raises his eyebrows.

“Name one time I’ve been wrong.”

Lifting a single finger as he begins to list it off, Stiles begins. “You are under the delusion that pineapple on pizza is good…”

“Oh, God…”

“…you said that otters don’t mate for life and I googled it and they certainly do,” a second finger, “you predicted the Cubs wouldn’t win the world series…”

“Okay, okay,” he waves his hand like it’s all inconsequential. “I’ve been wrong before. I’m generally not wrong about my sisters, and I’m generally not wrong about you.”

That gives Stiles some pause. He watches Derek’s face as the passing streetlights light it up only for moments at a time, casting that strange orange glow over his skin and shining against his eyes. “What do you mean by that?” He asks, squinting his eyes a bit. “That you’re generally not wrong about me?”

Derek shrugs. “I mean that I know you. I know what you would or wouldn’t do, by now. I could guess your next move on most matters.”

“You think so?”

“I know so,” he insists, another smile lighting up his face. He only ever smiles like that, Stiles has noticed, when he and Stiles are alone together. Throughout the whole dinner, the most any of them got out of Derek was tight grimaces or thin lipped smiles that didn’t reach his eyes. “We’ve been together for over a year. I’ve got you like the back of my hand.”

Stiles puffs a breath out from between his teeth. “There are still mysteries to me!”

“Name one,” Derek has a challenging note to his voice, but he’s still just having fun. He lifts his eyebrow and gestures for Stiles to speak. “Go on. Name one thing that I don’t know about you.”

Stiles thinks for a moment. “Okay,” he turns again in his seat, straining against the seatbelt as he looks at Derek head-on. “When I was ten, I went to the beach with my mother and there had been some weird catastrophe in the ocean, who knows – there were dead squid all over the beach and in the tide so any time someone put their body in the water, a squid tentacle or body would brush up against them. As a result, I am terrified of squid.”

Derek is quiet. He seems to be mulling this over in his head, as if he’s trying to remember Stiles ever mentioning this great squid trauma to him in the past. Stiles watches his face, as Derek slowly goes from contemplative to laughter. His shoulders shake with it, as he leans further over the steering wheel to silently shake out his hysterics. Stiles makes a face at him and shakes his head.

“It isn’t funny.”

“So that’s why,” he manages to get out in between peels of laughter, “when I wanted to take you to the Aquarium, you freaked out and accused me of supporting captivity or whatever.”

“It’s not the only reason –“

“You were terrified of seeing a squid in a tank!”

“Keeping animals in captivity is an evil that only shitty humans could ever think of –“

“Oh, man…” Derek shakes his head. He’s wiping tears out of his eyes. “It all makes sense now. This is why you won’t let me take you to the beach, either.”

“What’s romantic about sand?” He bursts out, angry. “Anyway, there it is. One thing you didn’t know about me.”

“Thank you for sharing your harrowing tale.”

They’re slowing to a stop in the parking garage of Derek’s building, the brakes squeaking a bit as they slide into one of Derek’s specially reserved spots, right next to Stiles’ blue and shiny car. Derek takes it in for a wax every now and again, which Stiles says is a ridiculous luxury no one actually needs, but it’s not like Derek would ever give up his little luxuries, no matter how ludicrous they may be.

Derek pops his seatbelt off and Stiles does the same, but instead of reaching for his door handle, Derek snaps his fingers. “I almost forgot,” he says, reaching over past Stiles to pop open the glove compartment. It falls, revealing some old fast food napkins, an owner’s manual, and something else. Derek picks up the last, pulling it up into the light.

It’s one of those cheap chocolate roses, wrapped in painted foil. He presents it to Stiles with a grin, like he’s handing off a diamond. “For you.”

Stiles takes it, but he makes a face. “Can I ask you why you keep buying me these things?”

“Which things?”

“Like – these random cheap things? Not that I’m complaining,” and he certainly isn’t – he’s unwrapping his treat as they speak, breaking off a petal and popping it into his mouth. “But it seems a little off, coming from you.”

Derek almost seems put on the spot for a moment, like Stiles is asking him to bare his soul or something instead of just asking why he’s constantly buying Stiles cheap chocolates and flowers. When he speaks, his voice is very serious in a way that suggests he’s trying to be lighthearted. “There’s more to life than expensive things, you know?”

Flabbergasted, Stiles can only guffaw. “Uh, I know that,” he laughs, pointing at himself. “I thought that you didn’t.”

In the wake of this, Derek seems even more serious. He furrows his brow and traces Stiles’ face and body with his eyes, like he’s committing this moment to memory. “I do know that, baby. Not everything worth having is something you can buy.”

Stiles doesn’t know what to say to that. For a long time, maybe since the day that they met, Stiles had assumed there was just about nothing on the planet more important or infatuating to Derek than money. And why wouldn’t Stiles think so, when the lengths that Derek will go to get his hands on what he believes he’s owed go so far out of the realm of sanity? Derek has killed people for money, he’s beat the shit out of people for money, he’s sold his soul to one of the worst underground markets in the world for money. Stiles would’ve thought there’s nothing that he could want more than money.

As he picks at his chocolate rose with his fingers, feeling Derek’s eyes on the side of his face, he thinks maybe he could’ve been wrong. But only maybe.

“Hey, can I take you out tomorrow?” Derek asks, nudging Stiles in the shoulder with his hand. “We haven’t had a date in a while.”

Stiles perks up, sitting up higher in his seat and nodding enthusiastically. “What’d you have in mind?”

He swishes his head around, like he hasn’t really thought about it much. Something tells Stiles that he’s thought about it a lot, and is only trying to play at casual – but he won’t call Derek out on it. “Maybe brunch? We can go to that place on Peach and go walk over the bridge after.”

“Brunch, yes. Mimosas and steak and eggs.”

“Yes,” Derek agrees, reaching out to stroke at Stiles’ face with the back of his hand. “Nothing too fancy.”

Nothing too fancy, Stiles repeats in his head, giving Derek an odd look. He never would’ve thought those words would leave Derek’s mouth, but they did. He also never thought Derek would waltz into a gas station and pick up a ninety-nine cent chocolate rose just because, but he’s done that, as well.

Stiles wonders what it is that Derek is playing at. It’s clear he’s trying to make a point, but about what, Stiles can’t put his finger on.

***

“So, you don’t really think Cora is going to whack me off?”

Derek puts his palm over his eyes and grunts, rubbing at his forehead a bit with his fingers. They’ve just had morning sex, right as the light was starting to creep through Derek’s blinds and onto his carpet. It was slow and easy and Derek was gentle and whispered things in Stiles’ ear like I want to be in you all the time, while Stiles held Derek’s hands tight with his own. They haven’t done it like that in a while – usually their morning sex is quick fucks and frantic breathing because one of them is late for something or other.

Point being, Stiles is all tangled up in the sheets with only his crotch covered up entirely, and Derek is just bared to the world, wet dick softening against his thigh. And Stiles has brought this up again. “If I thought that, do you think I’d just let it go?”

Stiles rubs absentmindedly at his bare chest, mulling that over. “I’m just saying it was a weird encounter.”

“As you’ve said. And as I’ve said – she’s fucking crazy. Of course it was a weird encounter, it was Cora. You don’t wind up in a relationship with someone like Lydia if you’re not in need of medicating.”

“Well,” Stiles flips over, resting his cheek against his palm as he stares at the side of Derek’s face, “if she were to whack me off, how do you think she’d do it?”

“It wouldn’t happen.”

“Play hypotheticals with me.”

Derek huffs a sigh through his nose, pinching the bridge of it in exasperation. “She would go to Lydia first, which is exactly how I know it wouldn’t happen even if she wanted it to. Going to Lydia is suicide. Lydia would be obligated to tell me, and then I’d have to lose my fucking mind.”

Oh, boy. Stiles can only imagine if Derek ever received solid confirmation that Cora wanted to cause physical and possibly fatal harm to Stiles. He would probably morph into King Kong and start ripping apart the city, brick by brick, until all that remained was Stiles sitting on the one sturdy chair left for miles surrounded by rubble.

Unless Stiles asked him not to. Christ, Derek was likely a half a step away from hunting Theo down and ripping him apart with his bare hands, and all Stiles had to do was politely ask him to not, and Derek hadn’t. Derek is really lucky Stiles isn’t a psychopath of some sort; God only knows what kind of trouble Derek would be in if Stiles were, being at Stiles’ beck and call like this.

“Come on,” Derek says, sitting up and latching onto Stiles’ wrist as he goes so Stiles winds up being forcibly tugged towards the edge of the bed as Derek moves. “Shower.”

“Nnn,” Stiles tries to resist – futile. He slides across the smooth sheets like butter on a hot pan. “I’m boneless. Sex too good.”

Not accepting that for an answer, Derek gets Stiles up and onto his feet. He pulls Stiles along to the bathroom and switches on the water, holding his hand underneath it to test its warmth while Stiles shivers even with the heated floor under his feet. Finally, Derek deems it good enough and gestures for Stiles to step in just as he does.

Stiles stands under the hot spray with Derek, letting the water wash away all the grossness of sex and sweat and come and anything leftover from yesterday, soaking in the steam. He huddles closer to Derek, facing him directly, and tips his head back to smile right in his face. “Hi,” he says, and Derek scrunches his face up with a smile.

“Hi,” he repeats back, before they both lean in for a kiss at the same time.

It goes that way for a minute or so. Just the two of them in the shower, the water pelting them on the shoulders and against the sides of their faces, as they kiss and kiss and kiss. Derek’s hand on Stiles’ hip, the other cupping his face. Stiles’ hand on Derek’s chest. Heat.

When they pull apart, Stiles rests his temple on Derek’s shoulder and sighs in contentment. Derek wraps his arms around Stiles and kisses him on the forehead, and it’s all wet and warm and perfect. For all of Derek’s hardness, and for all that he can be heartless in the eyes of so many, Stiles just doesn’t know him like that.

Stiles knows the Derek that holds him like this. He knows the Derek that kisses him like the rest of the world is vanishing all around them and they’ve only got this last moment, and they need to make it count. Derek always does.

“I don’t care if she does whack me off,” he says into Derek’s wet skin, and then he feels more than hears Derek’s heavy sigh. “I’ve had this moment, so I can die and be okay.”

Derek is quiet for a moment, just holding Stiles against his body in the steam. When he speaks, his voice is nervous and unsure, as though he’s admitting something that he can’t even say to himself in the dark. Like he’s baring his soul, or something. “I wouldn’t be,” he says, and Stiles pulls away to look him right in the eye.

“Then I guess I’ll stay alive,” he rolls his eyes, and Derek rolls his right back.

They get dressed, Stiles in his usual garb because it really is more of a casual place than Derek ever usually takes him to, and Derek in his own. He’s in all black, from his shoes up to his sunglasses, and as they walk down to Derek’s car in the garage Stiles keeps catching himself staring at him.

It’s insane to him that Stiles gets to have this. That this person, who’s so unbelievably sexy and cool and smart and…everything. It’s all his. In testament to this, he reaches up and fiddles with the little fish charm dangling from his choker while Derek starts the car. The symbol of everything they have together.

Halfway to the restaurant, Derek clears his throat and sort of side-eyes Stiles, like he’s about to say something he doesn’t want to. “Have you spoken to Scott? Since…”

Stiles’ lips purse down, hard. He’s been trying not to think about it very much. “No,” he admits, turning to glare out the window at the sunshine. “Got nothing to say.”

A long silence. Derek gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles are going white. “I think you should talk to him.”

“Why? So he can say more bullshit to me about things he knows nothing about?”

Derek’s jaw tics. As they slow to a stop at a red light, Derek taps his fingers rhythmically on the steering wheel – again and again. Stiles glares at them as they go. He recognizes that particular tell of Derek’s. It means he’s got something big on his mind. “He’s your best friend, since you were a kid. It would kill me if you couldn’t talk to him anymore.”

“And that’s the fucking ironic bit,” Stiles bursts out, arms flailing as he sits up all the way and goes from zero to a hundred in less than a millisecond. “That you’re sitting here telling me to go talk to him, and he thinks you’re trying to cut me off from my friends and family. He thinks that! He said that! This is just further proof he doesn’t know dick about you and I.”

“Yes,” Derek agrees, and he slows to enter the parking lot right closest to their destination. “But he only said those things because he cares about you. He worries, it’s normal. I’m the kind of person who welcomes worry.”

He certainly is that. Stiles knows he has to understand Scott’s point of view, but then it’s not fair, because Scott doesn’t listen when Stiles says that Derek is this and Derek is that. He only ever focuses on the negative aspects of things – what Derek does and who he is when no one’s around to catch him.

Are those the only things that matter? Or do they just matter more than the rest? Stiles bites his lips and undoes his seatbelt once they’ve parked. “I love that you care about this, daddy, it’s thoughtful,” he reaches out and pats Derek on the cheek. “But I just want some time away from him to…be not mad.”

Derek frowns, in a way that suggests this conversation just isn’t quite over yet. But he nods and says, “okay,” before popping his door open and stepping out into the sun.

In the restaurant, Stiles sits on one side of the booth and expects Derek to sit on the other. Instead, Derek slides in right next to him, pressing Stiles between the wall and himself. As if this is something he does all the time. Stiles isn’t complaining; he’s always been that gross coupley person that sits on the same side of the table as his significant other, he’s just never had anyone to do it with. Derek usually isn’t so publically straight forward, but today, it seems, he’s put his pride aside in favor of being as close to Stiles as physically possible.

He puts his arm around the back of the booth, so it drapes behind Stiles’ neck. “In any event, I think Cora liked you.”

“Do you mean she liked me in an organic, normal way? Or, she liked me in a she wants to see what my insides look like way?”

Derek huffs a laugh. “The organic way. As organic or normal as she can possibly be, at least. We’ve grown a bit apart in recent years, but I think I’m still decent at reading her, and I got the impression she at least liked you better than anyone else I’ve dated.”

“That was a bit of a theme in her speech to me,” he agrees, but his eyes are narrowing a bit. “Can I ask you something?”

“Ask away.”

“You seem to care a lot about whether she likes me or not. Which doesn’t seem to be a very you thing to give a shit about.”

Derek’s eyes are scanning the perimeter, likely for a waitress, and likely just so he doesn’t have to meet Stiles’. “It’s important to me that she at least tolerates you. Especially now.”

That makes Stiles rear his neck back in confusion. “Especially now?” What the hell is special about now?

Before Derek has a chance to answer that question, their waitress appears as if by magic. She’s at the edge of the table wielding a pen and pad, hollering an enthusiastic hello at them as she plops menus down in front of them both. The menus are paper guarded with that thick, heavy plastic stuff – that’s how not-Derek this restaurant is. There’s no fine Italian menu items, no fancy wines to choose from, no candle light. Just polyester booths and several cartoonish images of eggs with faces leering at them from various spots around the dining room.

Stiles leans over Derek and smiles back at her, while Derek mostly just sits there and pinches his face together as he pokes through the menu. “Can we just get a bottle of champagne and a thing of orange juice?”

The waitress goes a bit tight around the eyes, but keeps her smile in place. “Absolutely. I just need to see some ID’s from you guys…”

Right. Because Stiles has the face of a large infant. He reaches into his pocket and procures his wallet, popping it open and fishing his ID out. As he’s reaching over to hand it to her, he notices that Derek is still just sitting there with that look on his face, completely still. Stiles eyeballs him, and then he says, “that means you too, grandpa.”

“Oh,” Derek jolts, clearly surprised as he hastily gets his own wallet. He gives Stiles an apologetic smile as he hands the girl his card and she scans it. As she reads the name her, her eyebrows raise a bit and she stares at him for just a second too long, cocking her head to the side – but she says nothing.

Stiles wonders how it is that she knows of him.

“I haven’t been carded in a long time,” he explains to both of them with a wry smile while she hands them both their cards back, and Stiles figures that makes sense. Derek mostly haunts the same places all the time, where they wait on him hand and foot and bring him only the best, so people generally know how old he is, or at least that he’s well above age to drink.

This is a place he’s never been before. Likely a spot he wouldn’t have come to otherwise.

It’s only a couple minutes later that she’s back with a tray housing a bottle of what Stiles knows to be the cheapest champagne possible, a vase of orange juice, and two wine glasses. She sets it all up for them, doesn’t even put the champagne on ice, and then asks if they’re ready to order. Stiles shakes his head as he pours himself a mimosa, and Derek has still got his nose buried deep in the menu, so she wanders off with a promise to be back in a few.

As soon as she’s gone, Stiles is rounding on Derek after taking a huge sip of his drink. “All right, pal. The jig is up. Why the hell would you choose this place out of all places on planet earth?”

Derek pours himself a glass of just champagne and sips, furrowing his brow at the waffle portion of the menu. It’s the kind of place that has pictures of the food next to their descriptions, as though anyone could forget what a place of pancakes looks like. “You like it here.”

“I do,” Stiles does. It’s one of his favorite spots, as a matter of fact. He finds the weird sentient egg pictures funny, and the champagne is cheap, and their food is actually pretty good considering the atmosphere, and the wait staff is nice and attentive. But all of these things that make it a favorite of Stiles’ are things that would make Derek absolutely hate it. Derek does not find the sentient eggs very funny, and cheap champagne is abhorrent to him, and pretty good isn’t ever good enough for him, and he could give a shit about whether the wait staff is nice to him or not. “But you hate it and I can see it in your face.”

Derek snorts, taking another long sip of his drink. “It’s not my first choice for fine dining, but it’s pancakes and eggs. I think I’ll survive.”

Stiles purses his lips and glares at the side of Derek’s face for a moment, suspicious of what his intentions are. Derek has never once in their relationship taken Stiles anyplace that didn’t have at least a hundred dollar steak on the menu, and now he’s going to sit there like this is all so normal and they do this type of thing all the time? It’s just weird.

Not that Stiles is complaining. He orders the strawberry banana pancake stack and a huge side of hashbrowns, so he’s happy as a clam anyway. Derek gets Belgian waffles and bacon, and he seems pretty pleased about that himself.

When the food comes, they eat and talk mostly the same way they always do. Stiles is a pretty good conversationalist and Derek is a pretty good listener and his interjections are sparse but actually contribute; it’s why they work out so well as a couple, Stiles has always thought. On the outside, he gets how people could not understand how they like each other, because Stiles is a chatterbox and Derek is a known melancholy silent type. But Derek talks to Stiles more than he talks to anyone else, and it’s not his fault that no one else can really see that.

“Okay. You’ve got one week to live,” Stiles says, sopping up some strawberry syrup with a pancake triangle, “where do you go, and with who?”

Derek chews and swallows what his has in his mouth, turning to give Stiles a lengthy look. They’ve been playing this game for a few minutes now, coming up with bizarre scenarios that always lend interesting answers – Stiles would say it’s a way to get to know someone better, but Stiles predicts all of Derek’s answers almost perfectly right every time, and he’s sure Derek does the same. After a moment, Derek says, “anywhere, with you.”

With a deep crimson blush, Stiles grins and nudges him in the shoulder. “But if you had to pick a specific place yourself?”

Derek wipes his napkin over his face and is quiet. He licks his lips and gets this far away look in his eyes, staring out across the restaurant in the general direction of one of those eggs with eyes. “Somewhere far away and rural. Or remote, even. An island or the middle of nowhere. Just…away. Where no one could find us,” his voice takes on a somber note, and Stiles’ smile slowly starts to fade the more he speaks. “Just you and me, alone somewhere away from all of this bullshit and everyone.” He nods, resolute. “That’s where I would go.”

He’s serious, Stiles knows. It’s just a game, but Derek isn’t playing on this particular subject. Stiles reaches out and rubs Derek’s arm up and down, cocking his head to the side. “I’d go with you,” he promises, a thin smile on his face. “Me and Satchmo.”

Derek’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes, but he nods. “Satchmo, of course.” Then, switching the subject lightning fast, Derek says, “not to be horrible, but he’s lived much longer than I think a beta typically does.”

“It is horrible, but you’re right,” Stiles huffs a sigh. “He’s uh…he’s only got so much time left.”

Detecting the intensely sad lick in Stiles’ voice, Derek immediately turns to comfort him, but there’s amusement in his face. “How about when he does die, I’ll go out and buy an identical blue fish and put him in the tank, and you never find out about it?”

Aghast, Stiles leans away from him. “How do I know you haven’t already done that?”

“Because I promise I haven’t. But I wouldn’t ask me that again,” he warns, that same smile still on his face, “because I won’t lie if asked directly and it’ll upset you.”

Stiles can’t help but laugh a little, because it’s the most daddy thing Derek has likely done or said yet. Going out of his way to replace a dead fish with one that looks just like it before Stiles comes home and sees it for himself just so Stiles won’t freak out or cry or get upset in spite of always knowing fish don’t live that long – it’s something someone who just wants you to be happy does, even though it’s an insanely over the top way to go about doing it. But that’s really Derek in a nutshell. He’s always going insanely over the top, for everything.

“Or, maybe we could let Satchmo go in peace.”

“You’re the one who always says he’s the symbol of our love and if he dies we might as well die with him,” Derek reminds him, and Stiles nods.

“Yes, but I want a cat, and that’s not conducive to having a fish, too.”

“You would ruthlessly let Satchmo and our love die just for a cat?”

Stiles takes a big bite of his food, shrugging before talking with his mouth full. “For a kitten, I’d strangle you myself with my bare hands if it came down to it.”

Derek pays the bill like he always does, and Stiles could laugh at how low of a number it is, compared to what he usually spends on taking Stiles out. It’s under a hundred dollars. Christ, it’s under fifty. Even so, Stiles feels just as pampered as he ever does, with a belly full of pancake and champagne, and Derek holding his hand under the table and looking at him like he hangs the moon, or something.

And then, as they’re walking out of the restaurant and Derek is holding his hand again and leading him off towards the walking trail that goes a bit into the woods and to the bridge, Stiles understands it. All of it. The tiny gestures of chocolate and the cheap flowers and the cards and the handwritten notes on the whiteboard and this ridiculous cheap day out Derek planned just for him…it all makes sense.

As soon as he gets it, he feels like hitting himself, because it’s so obvious. But it took him so long, because for the longest time, for forever, Stiles has thought that money was the thing that Derek held most dear to his heart. And maybe in some respects, it still is, but…not how Stiles used to think.

They come to a stop light and Derek presses the button, glaring across the street as he waits for the big orange walking light to turn on. Stiles turns to face him, still clutching his hand in his own. “Hey,” he starts, and Derek looks at him. Stiles smiles a bit bashfully, but maintains eye contact still because it’s an important thing to say and he wants to make sure Derek knows he means it. “Money isn’t everything to me. You know that, right? I know how this whole thing started and I know that you know that I really like money just like you do, but it’s…” the light goes orange, and the cars are all stopped and they could be walking right now, but both of them are staying still, staring at one another. “…it’s not everything, not even close. You’re everything, to me. Just you. You’re not your money or your things, you’re just you, and I’d love you even if you were poor. Okay?”

Derek seems a bit paralyzed, for the moment. He’s staring at Stiles with his lips parted and his eyes a little bit big, and it’s as though he cannot believe these words are coming out of Stiles’ mouth. It’s like he’s thought about them before, he’s imagined Stiles saying them, hoped that one day he would, and now here Stiles is doing it and Derek is like a kid on Christmas who’s struggling to believe what he asked Santa for is here, physically, for him to have.

“We can stop the sugaring thing at any time, I don’t care. It’s fun, that’s all,” he smiles, enchanted a bit by Derek’s evident stupefication. “Maybe my work will take off and I’ll sugar you.”

This seems to break Derek out of his stupor. He shakes his head, a big, blinding grin coming across his face – Stiles has rarely seen him smile this big, so it’s infectious and he grins right back while the cars zoom past and billow their clothes in the wind. “Even if I only had two dollars left, I’d spend it on you, baby. It’s just how I am.”

Stiles figured Derek would always be too prideful to accept money from him the way that Stiles does, but that’s fine. That’s just fine. Stiles honestly can’t fathom a scenario where Stiles could ever have more money than him, so it’s not like it really matters either way.

They finally cross the street and Stiles has got a bounce in his step. Derek keeps checking on him out of the corner of his eyes as they walk, down the sidewalk and ultimately onto the old dirt path surrounded by trees. It’s as if he’s making sure Stiles is still there and whole and not going anywhere, or like he’s nervous about something. He’s already suffered the torture of the leering eggs, so what he could be nervous about now is beyond Stiles.

But he stays nervous and strange the deeper they go into the woods. It’s only a short little patch of forest, maybe the size of a block, and then they spill out into the green clearing. It’s the start of fall now, so everything is only just starting to die and the leaves are only just starting to wilt and drop to the ground below. The bridge is in sight, and there’s nobody else around.

It sits over a stream that babbles in the quiet, and the nearest people are at the coffee shop and café that sits a bit of a ways away. Stiles can hear the chatter and the whirr of the coffee grinder from here, but it’s distant. Muted.

“I haven’t been here in forever,” Stiles tells Derek as they approach the wooden structure, and Derek nods and smiles at him, but offers nothing else. They step on, and their footsteps creak and bang on the old slats, and they keep going. Derek stops them right in the middle, turning to face Stiles.

They stare at one another for a moment while the coffee grinds and the water sluices over rocks and the fish swim. Stiles smiles at him and Derek rubs at his jaw, eyes skirting past Stiles’ face for a moment. Then, he clears his throat very intensely and nods to himself.

“Stiles,” he starts.

“Derek.”

A pause. Derek opening and closing his mouth. Then, he swears under his breath, and reaches into his pocket to pull out a well weathered piece of paper that looks like it’s been folded and unfolded a billion times. He carefully opens it up and says, “I was hoping I would be able to do it from my head but…” and Stiles watches him. The paper opens up, and Derek’s chicken scratch is all over it. It looks like there’s a ton of sentences that have been intensely scratched out – not just crossed out with a single line, but angrily scribbled upon like Derek got mad at the paper at several points and attacked it.

When he catches Stiles staring at what a mess it is, he ducks his head and says, “I’m not a writer like you.”

“It’s okay,” Stiles insists, because he figures this is some romantic declaration that Derek has been building up to for some time, and he doesn’t want to make fun.

“Uh,” Derek starts, clearing his throat again and bringing the paper up to his face to studiously examine. “When I first met you, I thought that you and I were going to be like, uh…like every other relationship I’ve had in the past. Either you were going to go after my money and the people around me or you were just going to…not be able to take it. What my life is. I know it’s a lot to ask, and I thought you, of all people, with your father and your whole life…I thought you’d leave. You didn’t. Even in spite of everything.”

Stiles nods along, keeping Derek’s eye contact.

“You make me want to be a better person,” at this, he casts his eyes down to the paper and reads it word for word, as he has written. “I want to – I want to be better. And I don’t want to do it because it’s the right thing or whatever the fuck, I want to do it because it’s what you deserve. I know I need to change, and I can start, for you.”

“Change?” Stiles interrupts, and then pulls back and shakes his head. “Sorry, sorry. Just – what do you mean, change?”

Derek parts his lips and looks at his paper for answers again. Finding none, he grumbles and stuffs it into his pocket and then makes a vague gesture with both hands. “I mean – I want to break out of old habits. I want to phase out of what I do, do you understand? I’m…baby, I’m tired,” he grabs at Stiles’ hands, both of them, and squeezes like he’s searching for comfort. “I’m so tired, all the time. I can’t go on like this, and not with you, especially not with you.”

Stiles stares at him for a moment, not comprehending. The gears turn in his head and he furrows his brow and just…stares. “You want to…?”

“I want to be normal.” He says, with a shrug, like it could ever be that easy. “I want to turn everything over to Erica, eventually not right away but…eventually. And just...retire. With you.”

Retire? Retire? Do drug lords retire? Stiles has a mental image of Al Capone in his 1920’s garb and with a thick accent sitting down on the couch and going eh, no more, not for me, and it’s…funny. Because it’s so absurd. People like Derek don’t just stop one day, because like they always say – the only way out is in a body bag. Stiles had never considered for one second that Derek would ever honestly be able to quit.

He fantasized, yes. He held words back. He imagined what it would be like to live someplace where it snows a lot with Derek and a dog and a cat and a big bed, and there’s never anywhere Derek goes that’s a secret and he never lies and everything is perfect, like a snow globe. But that was just a fantasy, and he convinced himself Derek could never actually…do it.

But he’s here now, and he’s saying that’s what he wants. He wants it just like Stiles does, and Stiles grips his hands back even harder and his chin trembles. “Derek,” he starts, his voice cracking. “Are you serious?”

“Yes,” he nods, no hint of hesitance there. He’s thought about this. He’s given this thought. Maybe he even talked to Erica about it, and she immediately agreed because she’s power and money hungry and what does she care if Derek is all in love now? “It’s going to be slow, because you can’t just drop everything and go, but…I just want to be with you,” he cups Stiles’ face in his hand, and Stiles leans into the touch and could cry. He really could. “I’m not a good person. I’m never going to be, you know that. But I can distance myself from certain things, and I hope that…I hope that’s enough.”

Stiles nods. Yeah, it’s enough, it’s fine, it’s perfect. He doesn’t understand the full scope of what Derek is saying to him, what he means by phasing himself out, or distancing himself, and Stiles is sure he can never be rid of that life entirely, but he doesn’t care right now. They can talk specifics later, all the details can be dealt with some other time. Right now, Stiles just wants to be happy.

Derek stares at him for just a second, and then he clears his throat again. He reaches into his back pocket and Stiles expects to see another folded up piece of paper with part two of his speech scrawled all over it, but instead, he hides whatever it is from Stiles’ immediate view.

Then, maintaining Stiles’ eye contact the entire time, he gets down on one knee and holds out a small black box.

Stiles always thought that he would have a good reaction to being proposed to. He always said that he would maintain composure, not freak out, and see it coming a mile away. Hell, he really should have. Taking him to dinner with his (insane) sister, taking him out on a date, buying him all those little trinkets and all those little notes, taking him to the bridge of all places…he should’ve known. County lines over, he should’ve seen it coming.

But he didn’t. So his immediate response is, “oh, my God,” so loud it echoes against the tops of the trees. He puts one hand over his mouth in shock and then immediately pulls it back down, as Derek opens up the ring box and reveals the thing in all its glory, and it’s so pretty. It’s gold, shiny and perfect and immaculate, and Stiles wants it.

He has this thought, unbidden and unwarranted, of what Scott had said. That it would be insane to marry Derek – absolutely batshit insane. That he should want to get away from him at all costs. That he would be stupid to do anything else. You run from monsters. It’s just what you do.

He pushes it down, shaking his head and focusing on Derek as he opens his mouth. “Stiles,” he starts, and Stiles is nodding. “Will –“

“Yes,” he blurts out, and then he puts his hands over his face. “I’m sorry, you – ask me again, I interrupted. I didn’t get to hear you ask, ask again.”

He pulls his hands off, and Derek is looking up at him with this genuinely fond, adoring smile. He cocks his head to the side, and starts over again. “Will you marry me?”

This time, Stiles lets the question flood over him. He looks at Derek, and then at the ring, and then at the water underneath their feet, and at the coffee shop where a few people are staring at them and watching Stiles get everything he wants, and then he looks back to Derek again. This is it. He and Derek are doing this, in spite of what everyone else might think about them, and Derek is going to stop doing what he does as soon as he can just to make Stiles happy, and everything is coming into place right before his eyes.

“Yes,” Stiles says again, a hysterical laugh coming out of his throat. “Yes, I will marry you, yes. Oh, my God. Put it on me, put the ring on me.”

Derek picks the ring out of its box and, without thinking, Stiles immediately thrusts his left hand out so Derek can slide it up his ring finger. As he’s holding it out and spreading the fingers, he sees only four, the ring finger gone, and a pang hits him, hard enough it nearly knocks him over. It nearly ruins the entire moment and he curls his hand against his body, ashamed because people are watching and Kate had done that to him because she knew this would happen, and for just a split second, it’s almost entirely fucking ruined.

But Derek immediately grabs at Stiles’ right hand, still kneeling there on the ground, and uses that ring finger instead. He pushes it up and it fits perfectly, and Stiles forgets what happened before and grins from ear to ear. He holds his hand up, while in the distance he can hear that the on-lookers are cheering for them, and he admires the golden band. “That’s the engagement ring,” Derek explains to him as he rises up to his feet. “Of course your wedding ring will be much more extravagant.”

“I don’t care,” Stiles says, breathless. “Fashion me a ring out of sticks, I don’t care.”

Without another word, Stiles practically leaps into Derek’s arms and holds him. Derek picks him up a bit, so Stiles kicks his legs and laughs, manically, until kissing Derek on the lips, and on the cheek, and on the forehead.

When Derek sets him down, Stiles immediately holds his hand up again and looks at the ring. He fiddles with it a bit, twisting it around, and Derek watches him with rapt attention. “You like it?”

“I love it,” he says, honest. Truth be told, Derek could give him a ring made out of a tin can and Stiles would cry and say he loves it – it doesn’t matter. “We’re getting married,” he says, and Derek nods his head in confirmation of this. Yes, they are. They’re getting married.

It’s finally happening.

And then something else happens.

Stiles is holding his arm out. Someone from the coffee shop yells congratulations at them. A moment passes like lightning, but this one feels long. Stiles, arm up. Congratulations. Derek smiling like he’s never been happier in his entire life. Blood splattering across Derek’s face.

He doesn’t feel it, at first. He just sees the blood, on Derek. Sees Derek flinch and seem confused. He doesn’t know it’s his blood, until the pain hits him. And it hurts, holy shit it hurts, and he looks at his arm again because that’s where the pain is, and there’s blood dripping all down his skin. from a wound he doesn’t understand how he got.

Derek reacts instantly, because he must know this better than Stiles does. He’s reaching out to grab Stiles, envelope him in his arms and maybe jump off the bridge into the water where it’s safer, or even just wrap Stiles up and shield him with his body – but he doesn’t move fast enough. As Derek is reaching out and grabbing Stiles by his shoulders, it happens again.

The aim is better, this time. Stiles can feel it instantly – he’s been shot in the back. He jerks and cries out and Derek has got his hands on him and everyone at the coffee shop is finally catching up to what’s happening and there’s commotion.

Stiles can only hear ringing in his ears.

The next thing he knows, he’s on the ground. He’s on his back on the ground and Derek is over him, his face right in Stiles’, and he’s frantically touching him all over. Hands on his arm and then on his chest, clutching him and then patting at his face. “Baby,” he says, and then there are more faces in his general line of sight. There’s Isaac, and for a split second he thinks Isaac has shot him, Isaac is the one with the good aim – and then he, aimlessly, thinks that Isaac has better aim than this. Isaac would’ve shot him in the head. “Baby, baby, baby, no, no, come on,” Derek is shaking him, and someone is telling him to stop doing that. “Don’t touch me. You’re okay. You’re okay. It’s okay, baby, it’s fine. Don’t, don’t – please don’t….”

Stiles can’t speak. He tries and he can’t. He sputters blood, coughs it out, and he knows that’s a bad sign. Something has been ruptured inside of him, something has been seriously damaged, and he’s bleeding out of his mouth. In the distance, over the ringing and Derek’s voice and the murmurs of everyone standing over him, he thinks he hears sirens.

And then, nothing.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up in increments. His mouth is dry. His body is stiff and hurts in more than one place as soon as he groans and tries to move – so he freezes and can’t open his eyes just yet. There’s footsteps somewhere to his left, and he’s afraid and isn’t sure where he is, so then he has to force them open.

Blinding white lights strike him instantly, so he winces and tries to burrow into his covers.

“Stiles, baby,” it’s Derek. Stiles would recognize his voice just about anywhere. Derek is standing next to him, right next to him, very close. Stiles grunts and opens his eyes again, much more tentatively. Through a squint, he can see a hospital room. He’s in a hospital gown. He’s in a hospital bed. There is a television softly playing The Price Is Right across from him, and his door is wide open so he can see nurses and doctors flitting past along with just regular people in regular clothing. “Hey. Hey, it’s okay.”

Derek’s hand is in his hair, and Stiles grumbles and leans against his pillows. Someone had gone to the trouble of getting Stiles’ personal pillow into this hospital bed, and his money is on either his father or Derek – likely Derek, since he’s the one with the key to get into that apartment. He doesn’t know why he’s focusing on this tiny little detail, but all the tiny little details seem so huge to him right now.

“You know where you are?” Derek asks, as he thinks he surreptitiously hits the button to call the nurse, but Stiles sees it nonetheless. “You remember what happened?”

Stiles thinks for a moment. He remembers brunch and the eggs with faces, and he remembers dinner with Cora but that was another day, and he remembers Isaac hovering over him and Stiles thinking that Isaac had shot him, and then he remembers. He got shot. Someone shot him.

In a rasp, Stiles says, “I told you she wanted to whack me off.”

In a fit of almost hysterics, Derek laughs. He laughs and laughs, reaching out to stroke Stiles across his forehead. It’s laughter of relief, pure and simple, and then Stiles wonders how long he’s been asleep in this hospital bed. How long they weren’t sure he was ever going to wake up. His heart sort of clenches at the thought of Derek being that scared that Stiles was going to die - of Derek sleeping in the chair next to Stiles’ bed, pacing the halls of the hospital up and down, night and day. “No, Cora had nothing to do with it.”

Before Stiles has the chance to ask a follow-up question, the nurse appears through the door in a cacophony of swishing scrubs. And as luck would absolutely have it, it’s Melissa McCall. She comes bursting into the room quickly, tailed very hotly by Scott and the Sheriff, and Stiles groans and wants to melt into his bed sheets because he’s all fucked up.

It occurs to him that he’s medicated. Holy shit, he must be – everything feels very distant.

“Awake, I see,” Melissa says to him, and Stiles wants to say something sarcastic but can’t find the energy in him. He instead focuses on the fact that the Sheriff and Derek are in the same room right now, looking between the both of them again and again.

Nothing much happens. Derek looks at Stiles’ father for just a moment, and they meet eyes, and something charged and intense goes on in between them. But the Sheriff doesn’t start hollering for Derek to get the hell out, like last time, and Derek doesn’t make a snide remark. They just both focus their attention back on Stiles, and Stiles is confused. About a lot of things, he’s confused.

“How long was I sleepin’?” Stiles asks, voice small.

Melissa smiles, as she checks on his machines and makes notes on a clipboard, before pressing two fingers to his neck like she’s checking for something. “About two days.”

Two days? Jesus Christ. For the first time since he opened his eyes, he looks down at himself to assess the damage.

His right arm is in a sling, hugged close against his body – likely so he wouldn’t thrash around and jostle the wound in his sleep. The bullet must have hit bone, or something. It hurts like hell even through the haze of his pain meds. Underneath his hospital gown he can make out wrappings going around his chest and back, the second spot he was shot, and he grunts and furrows his brow, trying to piece together what had happened in his own head. It seems forever ago.

“Hey, buddy,” Scott says, looking a bit sheepish behind the Sheriff. He gives a half wave and puts his hand on Stiles’ leg through the sheets, leaning over to get a better look at him. “You look like shit.”

“Funny,” Stiles grumbles. “I feel like shit. Don’t you have anything stronger to put me on? Meth?”

Melissa gives him a bit of a look, and then assures him he’s on the best pain meds available to him. Stiles sits there in the bed and blinks sleepily, Derek’s hands on him and Melissa poking around and checking on him, his father fussing over his pillows and his blankets, Scott just staring. It feels surreal. He can’t bridge the distance between the last time he was awake and being here right now, and he feels like crying or screaming or hitting himself because…he got shot.

Someone shot him. He’s just a twenty-four-year-old writing bullshit art reviews and still wearing the same Converse he got when he was eighteen, and now he’s here in this hospital bed because someone hates him enough to shoot him. Crying would be nice, but he can’t muster the moisture, so he just sits there and feels small and weird and hazy.

Abruptly, another memory occurs to him that has his mind going from one place to another like a moth bumping from lightbulb to lightbulb. He grabs at Derek’s shirt with his good hand (funny – his good hand used to be the right one, the one with all the fingers) and clutches. “Hey, you asked me to marry you,” he says with accusation, and Derek smiles at him thinly and nods. “I said yes. We’re getting married. Everyone, Derek and I are getting married.” Then, louder, though a bit slurred. “Hey, everyone, Derek and I are getting married!”

“I think your pain meds are just strong enough,” Derek tells him with all the patience in the world, patting him serenely on the head.

Nobody looks very surprised by this revelation that Derek and Stiles are getting married. Which means that they already knew, and Stiles missed the part where he got to tell everyone he got engaged and he missed his father’s reaction (a bad one, most likely, so maybe that’s for the best), and his friends’ reactions and everyone’s reactions. He feels sad and bitter, incredibly sad and bitter. Like, to a level that far exceeds anything he can remember ever feeling and even beyond what is really necessary for the situation. He thinks about picking up the nearest thing and throwing it across the room.

“Congratulations would be nice,” he snaps, and Derek shushes him while Melissa just gazes at him steadily.

“He’s fussy,” she assesses, like he’s a baby that’s been woken from a nap. “He lost a lot of blood and the transfusions can be very tiring. I think he needs to rest some more.”

“He just slept for two days,” his father defends, gazing at Stiles with a long, sad stare. Stiles feels awful suddenly, and he doesn’t know why or where the feeling comes from. Oh, right, he thinks – he and his father haven’t seen one another in so long, and now they have, and Stiles is in a hospital bed. Right.

“There’s too many people in here and you’re crowding him – Scott, go on. I’ll send a doctor in,” when Scott stays planted firmly in his spot, Melissa takes him by the shoulders and ushers him away. As he’s being forced out of the room, he looks over his shoulder with big puppy dog eyes like he’s sorry about something, and then Stiles remembers that he also hasn’t seen or spoken to Scott in some time either. They’re in a fight. Or they were.

Right. Everything is really fucked up. Stiles has slept for two days and woken up and everything is still just the same, relatively.

That leaves Stiles alone with Derek and the Sherriff. And it’s funny to him for some reason, so he chuckles a laugh, snorting a bit as he points at the Sherriff, then at Derek, then between the two of them again, and laughs some more. Derek sighs.

Stiles sobers up a bit and gets serious, taking in the sight of Derek in his entirety. And really looking at him this time, instead of just acknowledging that he’s there.

He looks bad. He looks real, real bad. He’s got these bags under his eyes that speak of several days without real sleep aside from quick bursts of his body shutting down out of necessity. He’s got on wrinkled clothes with some coffee and toothpaste stains, his hair is a mess like he hasn’t styled it at all, and he smells like potato chips like he’s been living off of vending machine food.

“Did you think I wasn’t gonna wake up?” He asks, tactless and delirious.

“I don’t know what I thought,” he admits, looking up to meet the Sherriff’s eyes. “I don’t know. I’m just so happy you’re awake.”

“Who was the one who –“

“Shhh,” Derek hushes him, shaking his head. “Don’t worry about anything. Just rest. You’re so tired.”

“I’m not tired,” he argues, even as his voice slurs with exhaustion. “I’m pumped up. Pumped full. I’ve got drugs in my body. Did you know some people get so high on psychedelics they believe they’re capable of, like, impossible things? Like lifting cars. I could lift a car.”

“I did not know that,” Derek says. It occurs to Stiles that everyone is babying him right now, treating him like he’s completely gone stupid, but then he forgets about that and moves onto the next thing.

“I’m engaged. To be married. Dad,” and then he’s reaching over to grab at his father’s hand, gripping it as tight as he can. With only four fingers, it’s not as tight as it used to be, but the Sheriff still seems surprised. “I know you hate it, but you need to walk me down the aisle. It’s important to me. You need to walk me down the aisle, okay?”

His dad opens and closes his mouth, for just a moment, and then he reaches out and pets Stiles’ hair like he used to do all the time when Stiles was a little kid. “Of course, kid. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.”

“Even though Derek sells puppies on the black market?”

A pause. Then, “what?”

“Rare breeds,” Stiles goes on to explain. “Illegal breeds. There are Dalmatians like you wouldn’t believe. And if anyone tries to make a coat out of them, Derek freaks out.”

“Yes. Even though Derek sells Dalmatians on the black market, I will walk you down the aisle.”

“Mmkay,” Stiles is placated for the moment. He blinks steadily at the ceiling while Derek and his dad both just stand there staring at him, the seconds passing by either very quickly or very slowly, Stiles can’t really tell right now. His emotions are muted for moments at a time, and then intense and blinding for other moments at a time, and it just goes back and forth, and back and forth. Finally, the doctor comes waltzing in. He’s got on a coat and everything, with pens and stuff sticking out of the pocket.

He talks all doctorish. “Hey, sleepyhead,” he greets, and Stiles resents him for reasons he cannot fathom. “I see you gave everyone quite the scare.”

“What are you, like a scientist?”

“I think he needs to go back to sleep,” Derek says, while Stiles uses his good hand to poke at Derek’s arm and then caress it. Derek tries to lean away from the touch, because there’s something inherently sexual in how he’s rubbing at Derek, but he can’t weasel his way out of it.

“He is going to need lots of rest,” the doctor agrees, checking on all the same shit that Melissa had. “But it looks to me like he’s doing just fine. Transfusions went well and we got both the bullets out fairly easily, so I’d say he’s just got some healing to do. You’re very lucky, Stiles.”

Stiles is still angry at this stranger, so he just glares at him and then looks at Derek like can you believe this fuckin’ guy? Derek stifles a laugh and then adjusts his face to look serious when he catches the Sheriff staring at him.

“We’ll have to keep him around just to make sure he’s healing properly, but just a couple days,” with those parting words, he sets Stiles’ clipboard down on the foot of his bed, hanging from a hook that Stiles can’t see, and then he rolls up his sleeves before sliding some gloves on his hands. “Let me just check what’s going on underneath the bandages and then leave him to sleep, huh?”

***

Stiles wakes up again. This time, much more clearheaded. Unfortunately, that means that all of his pain is amplified by a thousand, and the first thing he does as soon as he’s awake is make a tiny noise of discomfort. He tries to move a little, thinking maybe he’s just in a bad position, but that is…worse. A lot worse.

Derek is there in an instant, hands hovering over him as though he’s too afraid to touch for fear he’ll jostle something and hurt him worse. “Don’t move too much,” he insists, and Stiles stills and frowns.

He looks at Derek, up and down, and sees he’s in the same clothes Stiles saw him in last. And he looks just as exhausted as before. “Have you gone home at all?” Stiles inquires. “You look awful.”

“I look better than you,” he accuses, just the tiniest curving of his lips upwards to indicate a smile. Stiles figures he’s right. “Melissa said she’d give you a sponge bath when you woke up.”

“I’d rather drown.”

“Well,” Derek doesn’t look sympathetic. “You need a bath.”

“Who shot me?” Stiles demands, looking around the room to see that they’re alone. Derek’s face goes sour, and he looks for a moment like he may not answer the question. Which is just absolutely batshit insane to Stiles on about ten different levels; the sheer idea that Derek would try to keep that information from him for even a fucking second, while he’s sitting here all fucked up and broken and hurt. “I deserve to know.”

Sighing like this is the worst thing that’s happened to him in the history of his life, Derek pinches the bridge of his nose and says, between grit teeth, “it was orchestrated by Theo Raeken.” That’s…not surprising. Stiles blinks and barely reacts to the information. “He had been tailing you, us, for some time, just…waiting for the perfect moment.”

And boy, what a perfect moment he got. Seconds after Derek asked Stiles to marry him, after what would’ve been one of Stiles’ most cherished memories. Right. A perfect fucking moment. “I suppose maybe I shouldn’t have told you not to deal with him.”

“Yes,” Derek spits, harshly grabbing at Stiles’ pillow to fluff it up some more, like he’s getting his frustration out on something. “Yes, I suppose maybe you shouldn’t have fucking asked me that knowing I couldn’t say no.”

He sounds so angry, and Stiles guesses that on some level, he has a right to be. Stiles was insistent on Derek leaving Theo be even in spite of Derek’s warnings that it wasn’t a very good idea to let sleeping dogs lie on this particular issue. He had been very foolish, and maybe he even knew that at the time. But all he could really think about was keeping Derek out of trouble. As if he had the power to do that, knowing who Derek was. Stupid, he had been. There is a second or so where Stiles doesn’t say anything and he just hurts, so he sits there under Derek’s anger and feels very small and silly.

Faced with what is likely shaping up to be Stiles’ kicked-puppy expression, Derek is back peddling. “I’m sorry, shit.” He rubs at his face, hard scrubs like he’s trying to get something out of his skin. “I’m exhausted, I’m sorry. It’s not your fault.”

“I want pain medicine,” he says, quiet. “It hurts.”

Derek gets an abysmal look on his face and then presses the call button. It beeps, and then they sit there in the quiet, just waiting for someone to arrive.

Derek says, “you’re lucky he has shit aim.” It may be the only thing he can think to say.

“I thought Isaac had shot me, when I saw him. He was there. Or I was delusional.”

“You were not delusional,” Derek promises, patting Stiles on his hair. “Isaac follows us around. He’s a bodyguard.”

“He’s a shit bodyguard, I’ve been shot.”

“He couldn’t have fathomed a sniper would be lurking on a roof somewhere,” he defends softly.

“Does he always do that? Just follow us?”

Derek purses his lips. Then, “yes. Most times. Almost every time we’ve gone out he’s been close.”

Stiles leans against his pillows and frowns, staring blankly across the room. “You have never mentioned that.”

Derek doesn’t get a chance to respond to that, because Melissa is finally walking in, giving Stiles a weak smile. She swishes in her scrubs over to his bedside, examining him a bit closely. “How are you feeling?”

“I want more medicine,” he says, and Melissa instantly moves to fiddle with the IV they’ve got stuck into his wrist. That’s when he notices he’s all tangled up in wires, hooked up to a machine that’s beeping at him rhythmically. It’s weird for him to acknowledge that’s his heartbeat, and then even weirder to think he almost didn’t have one, for a moment there.

“Other than the pain, how are you feeling?” She pushes, and Stiles frowns.

“Bad. My head hurts. I want to go home. I want my dad.”

“Sherriff had to go back to the station to deal with some pressing issues,” her eyes, bizarrely, drift to Derek as she says this, while Derek pretends to not notice and instead focuses on fluffing Stiles’ pillow more. “He’ll be back and he promised to bring tacos.”

Stiles immediately perks up, grasping to this lifeline of something normal and not crazy or painful or hard for him to understand. “Tacos!”

“Until then,” she pulls a pudding cup out from her scrubs along with a plastic spoon, holding it out for him to take. Stiles does, greedy, realizing how fucking starved he is. “You need to take your pills with food, every time. Okay?” As he’s struggling to tear open the lid with just one hand, she holds two small white pills in the palm of her own.

Derek grabs at his pudding cup and peels the lid off easily, placing it back in Stiles’ lap. Then, Stiles struggles to spoon some out without having a hand to hold the container down with, gets frustrated and wants to cry, and then Derek picks it up again.

He spoons some out for him, and then holds it up to his mouth. This is no different than the dozens of times that Derek has hand fed him before, except maybe a little less kinky. All the same, Stiles doesn’t hesitate, he leans forward and takes the spoonful, and it’s delicious. One of the best things he’s ever had in his life, but that’s likely just the delirium talking. “Thanks,” he says to Derek, who just nods and scoops some more up, taking the pills from Melissa with a word of I’ve got it.

Melissa eyes Derek nice and hard, like she suspects him of some great villainy, and then sighs like there’s nothing she can do about it anyway. She’d be right. If someone tried to remove Derek from this room, after everything that’s just happened, he would throw a fit to rival Verruca Salt in Willy Wonka.

He eats his pudding and takes his pills, and then Melissa is taking the trash away and dumping it out. “Bath time,” she says, moving over to the door to close it to afford some semblance of privacy. “I just need to get another nurse to help me, and then we’ll –“

“I don’t want another nurse,” he says, petulant. “I want Derek.”

That gives her some pause. Derek says, “that’s fine,” because of course it would be – Derek has bathed him before, after all.

“Okay,” she says this slowly, like she’s trying to imagine her and some strange man she barely knows bathing Stiles together – but she’s a professional, so she just pulls Stiles’ covers back and starts helping him move.

***

The Sheriff does return with tacos, as promised. He even brings one for Derek, which blows Stiles’ mind so hard he nearly blacks out, but maybe that’s the pain medicine talking again. They eat in relative silence because there’s not much to say and too much to say at the same time, and Stiles has questions, questions, questions that he can’t ask because he’s afraid to hear the answers and doesn’t even know if he’d get them at this point, but it’s comfortable silence, for the most part. Stiles focuses all his energy on his taco, eating like an animal.

After another fifteen minutes of his dad fussing over him and asking a zillion questions about what he wants or needs and this that and the other thing, he huffs and says he needs to get back to the station, and Stiles understands. He gets a kiss on the forehead and a lingering hug, and then he’s out the door again, looking over his shoulder at he and Derek sitting there in the hospital room.

Stiles has got flowers and stuffed animals that say hope you squeal better, a plate of cookies that look like Kira’s handiwork, and a handful of cards stacked up for him to read at his leisure. He chooses instead to settle back into his bed, exhausted again. Derek sits in the chair closest to the bed, hand over his mouth, staring blankly across the room. He looks so tired and worn down, and Stiles hates to see him like this. “You should go home for the night and rest,” he says, yawning. “I’m about to turn in myself.”

“No,” is his immediate response, shaking his head without glancing in Stiles’ direction. “I’m not leaving you here alone.”

“Derek, you look like a homeless man. You need a shower and a good eight hours of sleep, come on. I’ll be fine here by myself,” he gestures around himself. “I’ve got a team of people to attend to my needs.”

Derek shakes his head again. “No, I’m not going.”

His pain meds this time around are much weaker than the first set, so he’s not so delirious as to just let this one fly. “But I want you to bring me things from home,” he whines, knowing exactly which buttons to press on Derek to get his way. “I want my own blanket. I want my phone charger. I want a pop tart.”

Heaving a sigh, Derek rubs at his face. It takes him a second, but under Stiles’ begging gaze and his own pressing exhaustion, he admits defeat. “Okay, I’ll go. But I’m coming back here first thing in the morning, understand?”

“You say that like it’s a threat.”

Standing up from his seat, stretching his legs out and rubbing his eyes, he smirks. “You love when I say things like they’re threats.”

“I sure do,” he agrees, blushing only a bit.

Derek picks his light jacket up from where it’s hanging on the back of a chair, shrugs into it, and then stuffs his wallet and phone into his pocket and gives Stiles one last lingering gaze. He leans over and kisses him on the lips, soft and gentle, before pulling back and stroking his face. “Sleep well,” he says, and Stiles licks the tip of his nose and smiles at him.

He’s fast asleep pretty much instantly, once Derek is gone.

***

In the morning, he wakes up to his father. It’s only six am yet, so it’s not surprising that Derek isn’t just immediately here, waiting to be at his beck and call. Stiles sits up and winces, but the pain feels slightly less than it had been the past two days.

This is his last day in the hospital. He gets to go home tonight, to Derek’s big king bed and Netflix and all the junk food he can eat. He’s so excited at this prospect after this entire horrible experience that he could cry, while his dad stands up to come and lean over his bed with a wane smile. “Hey, bud,” he greets, taking Stiles’ good hand hostage, stroking the back of it with his thumb. “You doing all right?”

“I feel better today,” he says, mostly just to placate his worry wart father so he doesn’t freak out and call the nurse again.

“Good.” He hyper focuses on his own thumb, stroking his son’s skin, watching it move and move. “You scared the hell out of me, kid. I got the call and I must’ve broke ten different laws getting here to you. Normally it’s me who’s…in that line of fire.”

This must be hard for him. It’s even hard for Stiles to grapple with, the sheer idea that he got shot. He got shot. And it’s true that his father is the one that out of the two of them was more likely to ever have something like this happen to them, but then, neither of them ever expected that Stiles would be with someone like Derek, who welcomes events like this the way the sun rises.

“Sorry,” Stiles says, genuine. He doesn’t like to make his father worry. They’re all each other has left in the world as far as family goes, and it would kill him – literally kill him if he lost Stiles. Stiles is sure he couldn’t get out of bed another day without Stiles being all right and alive, somewhere in the world. “I’m sorry, dad. I…I made a bad decision. I know you think it’s Derek’s fault, but it was me. I told him – I said –“

“That’s fine,” he says, shutting Stiles down effectively before that line of explanation can go any farther. Likely, the Sheriff just doesn’t want to fucking hear any defense in Derek’s name whatsoever. “Derek Hale is…I don’t like him. I’m never going to like him. I think he’s scum and whenever I think about him putting his hands on you I just…” he grits his teeth for a moment, closing his eyes as he attempts to regain his composure. Slowly, he opens them again and breathes shallowly through his teeth. “But I know that he’s very special to you, all right? I get that now. And I know you’re very special to him, and you’re going to marry him, and I gotta learn to be…okay with that. For the sake of our relationship if for nothing else. And, kid?”

He steps closer, so he’s towering over Stiles to the point where Stiles is almost dwarfed by him.

Slowly, he says, “I know that you lied to me. You told me Derek wasn’t involved in all that anymore – you swore it.”

Stiles’ blood goes cold, but he can’t say anything. This is just like every other time he’s been caught in a lie by his father; when he was a kid, it meant writing lines or getting his mouth washed out with soap. When he was a teenager, it meant grounding or having his car taken away. But this is worse. This isn’t lying about where he was last night or lying about drinking or smoking or stealing money out of his wallet. This is lying about…everything. And his father is just looking at him all stern and Stiles is sitting here with holes in his body from having bullets picked out of his skin, and he has no defense.

It’s so obvious, now. This lie that he’s fostered for month, after month, after month has now turned into nothing but the steely truth and there’s no way that Stiles can hide from it, this time. Intrinsically, he knew this day would have to come. Lies have a way of unearthing themselves like shallow graves in a rain storm.

This is Stiles’ buried body. His father is just looking at him.

“I had to,” he defends, feeling very pathetic. What else is he meant to say aside from the truth, now? “I – we –“

“I don’t care. I know, now.”

Stiles swallows, thick and heavy. He never imagined that it would happen like this. Maybe he thought it would be more dramatic, when his father finally found out the truth. Or maybe he thought that by then Stiles would already be miles away with Derek so there was nothing that the Sheriff could do about it anymore. Or maybe he thought that he could get away with lying forever. That’s just silly, but it may be the truth. Stiles is the king of avoidance, after all. “Then why isn’t Derek rotting in a prison cell somewhere?”

With a particularly heated grunt, the Sheriff shakes his head. “You’ll have to ask him that question. It’s not my story to tell you.”

“But –“

“You think I wouldn’t find out eventually?” He accuses, cocking his head to the side. “I don’t get re-elected every term because I’m a chicken with my head cut off, Mieczyslaw.”

Under the attack of his real name, Stiles cowers and purses his lips, looking away. Something about his full name always makes Stiles feel like he’s two steps away from getting a slap in the face, maybe because the only person who ever used it was Stiles’ mother. And last time he saw her, standing and living, she was hitting him – she forgot who he was. “I had to lie,” he says, voice low. “You wouldn’t get it, and you’d put him away. He’s a good man, I know he is.”

The Sheriff snorts. “You’d love to think so.”

Oh, would Stiles love to think that. Would Stiles love to cling to that notion like driftwood after a shipwreck. Would Stiles love to say that Derek is just a financial advisor, that he makes an honest living and how dare his father accuse him of any kind of treachery. Stiles looks away, at his four fingered hand and his other arm in a sling and closes his eyes and he knows now, in this moment, more than ever, the truth.

Derek has made bad choices. He has done bad things. He has been a criminal. He has been a liar. He has been wrong. Stiles was just willing to go along with it for a while because he thought that it was dangerous and sexy and cool. As the son of a relatively not wealthy Sheriff, of course he was drawn to Derek’s lifestyle like a moth to a flame, enticed by the money and the danger, pretending it was all a game. He guesses he’s learned the hard way, twice now, that it’s not a game. It’s never been a game. But even while knowing this, Stiles has to say that Derek is no monster. The life he lives is the monster. Stiles doesn’t know how to say any of this to his father, so he just curls in on himself a bit and pouts.

“I’m not having this argument with you, father. I’ve been shot.”

“Okay,” the Sheriff puts his hands up in surrender, shaking his head. “Okay, all right. I just – my point is, I get that there’s nothing I could ever say to change your mind about him, and I need you to be in my life, so…” he rolls his eyes to the ceiling, like it causes him great pain to do this. “…I accept it. You and him. I can’t fight it anymore. He’s a disgusting bag of filth, but apparently you’ve found his redeeming qualities.”

“I can’t wait for your toast at our wedding,” he spits, pulling his covers up higher with a huff. “And I don’t understand how you can stand there and say that you’re okay with it, when you’re –“

“Just talk to him about it,” he says, vaguely, and Stiles narrows his eyes and gets the sense that there is something he’s not being told. A huge thing, at that. He also senses that his father isn’t going to tell him no matter what he asks or says, and Derek is definitely the weaker of the two men when it comes to falling to Stiles’ desires and wants, so he lets it be, for now.

He relaxes and meets his father’s gaze. “I missed you, dad.”

His father reaches out and cards his fingers through Stiles’ hair, a small, sad smile crossing his face. “I missed you so much, kid, you have no idea.”

Actually, Stiles does have an idea. But he just stays quiet and basks in the knowledge that, finally, after all this time – a year and a half, for god’s sake – his father has given in. The inevitable has a way of doing that to people; making them accept the things they don’t want to. And Stiles and Derek certainly are inevitable, there’s no use in denying it. For God’s sake, Stiles is sitting here shot and he’s not even thinking of walking away even while knowing it would be in his best interest.

Though, what’s in his best interest is debatable.

As if summoned by sheer mention alone, Derek materializes in the doorway. He doesn’t even pause or hesitate at the sight of the Sheriff standing there, where before he might have turned tail and walked the other way on principle alone. Which is weird. Them not going for each other’s throats at all has been weird the past two days, and Stiles had chalked it up to the fact that Stiles’ wellbeing took precedence over whatever petty problems they have with one another – but now, it just seems…wrong. Off.

In any event, he’s got a small bag of things in his hand. He walks right up to Stiles’ bed and plops it down at Stiles’ feet, pulling it open. He pulls out Stiles’ favorite fluffy blanket, a box of pop tarts, the book Stiles had been reading and left on the bedside table with a marker sticking out somewhere towards the end, and a chocolate bar.

“My charger?” Stiles asks, hopeful. Being cut off from the outside world is only cathartic when you’re doing a cleanse or something; Stiles needs his social media fix like any other normal millennial, even trapped in this hell hole.

Derek says, “your phone was shattered.”

Deflating, Stiles pouts. “Oh, god dammit. There was so much on that phone. Pictures, addresses, important e-mails –“

Like magic, Derek reaches into the bag and pulls out one last glittering object. It’s a brand new iPhone X, shimmering in its packaging like he just picked it up from the store. Stiles should be surprised at the sight of it, while Derek hands it off to him like offering up a solid gold bar, but he…just isn’t. “Of course,” Stiles huffs a laugh, taking the phone in his hand and picking at the plastic wrap around the box with a blunt nail. “You don’t change.”

“We’ll get all your stuff from the cloud on there, don’t even worry about it,” he puts the bag on the ground and then stands there. These are the kinds of things Derek does; anything is broken or ruined and he replaces it. Anything worries Stiles or makes Stiles anxious and Derek finds some way to make it a non-issue. He looks at the Sheriff, briefly, and there’s a terse moment of eye contact before he immediately averts to look right back at Stiles – who is still happily tearing into the packaging to get at his shiny new toy.

“Oh, cool, you got me the gold one.”

“Yes, gold.”

Stiles picks the charger out of its packaging and makes a valiant effort at reaching the nearest socket, nearly goes spilling out of the bed before Derek catches him with a huffing laugh. He takes the charger and the phone both, plugging them in deftly before setting the phone down on the closest surface to let it suck up its juices.

Once that distraction is gone, they’re all three just sitting there in a cloud of discomfort and unspoken words. Stiles imagines this is how family events in the future are always going to go; silence and the unspoken and the things they won’t say to each other unless they’re angry enough to shout them.

“Welp,” his father starts, putting his hands on his hips and sighing. “I best get going. You need a ride home tonight, kiddo?”

“I can take him,” Derek cuts in almost before the man is even finished talking, and the Sheriff glares at him. Really, really glares. Like, in a how dare you type of capacity, like it’s so absurd Stiles’ fiancée would drive him home from the hospital.

And huh. Derek is Stiles’ fiancée. That little detail keeps getting forgotten, in the face of so much else, and maybe that’s what makes him angriest about this entire thing – that that moment is stolen from him, now. That he can never get it back.

“Got nothing better to do,” Derek says by way of explanation, and Stiles wants to pinch him. If he and Stiles were alone Derek would say oh yes of course I can drive you home we can go anywhere you want I’ll take you for ice cream I’ll drive you to the moon there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. But since they have an audience and it happens to be Stiles’ father, Derek is distant.

There are so many cutting zingers the Sheriff could say back to that one. Stiles can see it in his eyes. But for everyone’s sake, he simply leans down to kiss Stiles on the forehead before bidding them both a gruff farewell, stomping out of the room like he’s angry about the entire thing. It seems very on par, so Stiles just blinks after him and pulls his fuzzy blanket over his body.

“So, that’s weird,” he observes, and Derek pulls the closest chair up to the side of the bed and then sits in it with an audible plop.

“What is?”

“You and him. Not tearing each other’s throats out.”

Instead of really giving a response, Derek just shrugs and looks off to the side past Stiles’ head. It’s an avoidance tactic. And not a very good one, at that. Stiles’ antenna goes up. He adjusts his place on the bed, turning to face Derek more directly, and gives him a very stern look. “There’s something you’re not telling me.”

With a self-deprecating laugh, Derek shakes his head. “Baby, you don’t know the start of what I don’t tell you.”

There’s not a response in the world that Stiles could think of for that, so he opens and closes his mouth like a fish for a moment, flabbergasted. That is more honest than he thinks Derek has ever been with him about this particular line of questioning, so it baffles him for just a hot second. Then, he collects himself and focuses on the matter at hand. “Let’s focus on this exact thing, shall we?”

“Which one?”

“The thing that you’re not telling me now, right now, whatever it is.”

He shakes his head again. “Why don’t you just play with your new phone and relax, you’ve been –“

Derek.” The name comes out like it’s six different words instead of just one – every syllable pronounced, every letter drawn out, the k ending with a harsh staccato. It makes Derek shut his mouth very, very quick. “Don’t baby me. I am sitting here with a fractured wrist and a hole in my body because Theo Raeken shot me on account of money you refused to pay him for whatever reasons you had. The absolute least you could do is tell me the god damn truth about whatever it is you seem hellbent on keeping from me.”

Stiles has always been very good at putting together an itinerary for a nice little guilt trip, so it’s not surprising that Derek sits there in the wake of that looking like a kicked puppy. He frowns and pulls his eyebrows together, for all the world seeming like he could start crying at any fucking second, not meeting Stiles’ eyes. It goes that way for just another second more, until Derek finally sits up straight and takes in a deep breath. Then, lets it out.

Stiles prepares himself for the worst.

“You must wonder why I’m not sitting in a jail cell right now,” he begins, voice low.

“The question occurred to me, yes. My father refused to tell me why, so the question fucking remains.”

Derek runs his hand over his jaw, that way he does when he’s aggravated or stressed or upset. He brings his fingers together over his chin and pinches it, hard, as though he’s angry, too. “When you went into the hospital, I was there with you. In the ambulance. I held your hand,” he is sad, here. “I thought you were going to die. And my immediate response was grief, because you…you just don’t know how much you mean to me. I could tell it to you a thousand different ways and you just couldn’t imagine it, no matter how well I put it. I was…” he trails off, searching for the right words. “…reminded of being sixteen, watching my house and my family go up in flames right before my eyes. I’ve been there before. I’ve felt that before. Everything I have, taken away.

“And so my secondary response was anger. Or, no, that’s too small a word,” he smiles, a dark, twisted thing that doesn’t seem right on his face. “I was infuriated. And when I get like that, my mind goes to very dark places. I sat there holding your hand and it was limp and the paramedics were yelling over my head about how you were flatlining, how you were unresponsive, and I thought about how I would do it. Killing Theo.”

Stiles is rapt, his lips parted. He doesn’t know how this story is going to end.

“I thought that I would find him and start with the fingers. One by one. Or maybe just the fingernails. I thought I’d electrocute him until he broke his teeth from biting down that hard and then force him to swallow all the jagged little pieces –“

Shaken, Stiles closes his eyes and shakes his head against the images that flood his mind as Derek speaks. “Derek, please don’t –“

“No, you need to know this side of me. You need to know this.” His eyes are wide and serious in his head and he’s almost yelling, so Stiles shuts his mouth and stares at him. This is the scariest that Derek has ever been. Raw and honest and ruthless. “I know how to torture someone. I bet you’d like to think that I don’t, or that I wouldn’t do something like that, but I have before and I would’ve done it to him in a heartbeat for taking away the one – the one god damn thing I’ve had in my life that made me feel like a human being. I would’ve done it. Do you understand me?”

Stiles says, “yeah,” in a low rasp.

Leaning back into his chair, Derek seems to assess Stiles intently. It’s as though he’s just waiting for Stiles to rip his IV out of his arm and go running for the hills even just in his hospital gown, as far away from Derek as he could possibly get. Stiles stays put, listening to the quiet of him still, and Derek opens his mouth again. “They got you breathing again. And this – this – this feeling. Like warm water going down my back, just came over me. That I couldn’t do any of those things to him, that I couldn’t even scratch the surface of what I wanted to do to him, because I’d fucking get myself locked up in super max and I’d never come out and you would just be…” he trails off. Doesn’t finish. He doesn’t need to, anyway.

If Derek went away to prison, especially fucking super max, Stiles couldn’t deal with that. He’d sit there and he’d wait, and he’d wait, until the day they’d let him go. And it would be forever. It would never end, the waiting. Stiles couldn’t live with that.

“They took you in and said I couldn’t come and the Sheriff was there and he punched me in the face.”

“Oh, my God…” Stiles puts his hands over his face. God, he can just fucking picture it, the insanity of it all. Stiles’ father throwing the hugest scene imaginable in the hospital waiting room while nurses try to hold the two men back from beating the shit out of each other while grieving and anxious people sat and watched.

“He screamed at me that I did this. That he knew all along I would do this. That I don’t deserve the oxygen it takes to keep me living. And he started –“ Derek runs his thumb over his mouth, looking pointedly out into the hallway like this. This part. This is what really gets him. He doesn’t know if he can speak it out loud. “…he started crying. He thought his son was going to die and he wasn’t wrong about me. I did this. I know that I did.”

“That’s just not –“

“When are you ever going to stop defending me so blindly?” He laughs again, that hollow, unhappy thing that makes Stiles sad. “When are you ever going to stop telling people I’m anything but what I am?”

Stiles doesn’t have an answer to that. Or, he does, but it’s not what Derek wants to hear right now, so he keeps his mouth shut and curls his fingers together in his blanket.

“If you had never met me, this would’ve never happened. It’s sick and it’s selfish, but I can’t go back in time and wish that we hadn’t. You know I should want that, but I can’t want it. You almost died and I still couldn’t want to keep you away from me.”

Nearly fed up, Stiles asks, “why are you telling me all this?”

“Because I did something. I didn’t hunt Theo down to whatever hole he was hiding in, and I didn’t kill him, and I didn’t rip his fingernails off. They arrested me. I had your blood all over me. They took me in and sat me down and accused me of involvement, that I knew something, that they were going to gut everyone for information from Erica and Lydia to the kids that sling to my sisters until they figured out how I was involved. Your father was going to have my head if he had to charge me with tax evasion, of all things, just to get me put away.”

There’s no doubts about that. To the ends of the earth, the Sheriff would hunt and hunt until he thought he had finally gotten justice – and justice to him, likely in those first moments of Stiles going through surgery and transfusions and whatever the hell else they had done to him, would’ve been nothing short of Derek in prison. For good. Away from his son. For good.

“So what’d you tell them?” Stiles is almost afraid to hear the answer. “You obviously told them something to get out of it, so what was it?”

A melancholy smile crosses Derek’s lips, slowly revealing all his white teeth. “The truth.”

“The truth?” It almost means nothing to Stiles, now, after all the time they’ve spent cultivating lies together. The truth is nothing. He can’t even fathom it.

With a heaving sigh, Derek leans forward again and clasps his hands together between his knees, hanging his neck like he’s got something to be ashamed of. “I told them that Theo Raeken either shot you himself or had someone else do it for him, and if they didn’t believe me, they could check the bullets the doctors hacked out of your body for his insignia. I told them that he had been after you for some time and had made threats. I gave them the addresses of places I thought he might be hiding out, I gave them the names of people he works with, I wrote down giant lists of buyers and sellers and everyone around him. I told them everything. I handed Theo and half of his mob over to them on a silver platter to do with what they wished, in exchange for one thing.”

He looks up. Looks Stiles right in the eyes. In this hospital fluorescent lighting, their colors are not dulled – green and yellow and brown, all at once. “I cut a deal. I said I’d practically lead them to Theo’s front door if they’d give me immunity.”

The words don’t add up all the way in Stiles’ head, not just yet. He furrows his brow and rears his neck back in amazement and vague distrust, like this is something he simply cannot believe. “They…went for that?”

“God, you think your father could resist it?” He rubs at his face some more, looking away and frowning. “The man who tried to have his son killed and leagues of names from their most wanted list all behind bars? In exchange for just one of them walking free? They couldn’t charge me with anything and he knew it, they’ve never had anything on me. He couldn’t say no.”

“But he…but you…”

“Stiles.” Derek reaches up and strokes Stiles’ face with the back of his hand, tender and smooth and so adoring it almost hurts to see that look in his eyes. “The man who hurt you is locked up. It’s not justice as I know it, but it’ll…it’ll just have to do.”

It’ll just have to do. It will just simply have to do. Stiles leans against his pillows and he tries to process anything that Derek just said to him, but there was so much. He can’t pick what to focus on – the in-depth descriptions of torture Stiles could have done without and the images they brought in his head, the thought of Derek holding onto Stiles’ half-dead hand and thinking it was all over, that he was willing to spend his life in a maximum security facility because he had nothing left to live his life for without Stiles, that he managed to man all the way up and tell the truth in Stiles’ best interest. That he’s here, now. That they’re not going to take him away.

Stiles puts his hand over his face and cries. It rattles out of him like he has no choice, and he doesn’t. He doesn’t know if he’s crying from relief or if he’s finally crying over the trauma of the past three days or if he’s just crying because he doesn’t know what else to do – but he does. He sobs and curls in on himself, while Derek stands and puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder.

“It’s okay,” Derek says, voice soft. “It’s okay. C’mon.”

Stiles immediately leans into him, burying his face into Derek’s broad chest and heaving great big messy sobs into his shirt.

“All right.” Derek rubs Stiles’ back, up and down, up and down. “Everything’s all right. He’s gone and he’s not coming back and I’ll never let anything like this happen again.”

He believes that. With his entire being, even in spite of everything that might whisper to him that that’s a promise Derek cannot make and keep for certain, Stiles has no choice but to believe it as irrefutable fact. Derek would never let it happen again. Not as long as he lives.

Let this be it, Stiles begs fate quietly in his head while Derek holds him. Let this be the last they have to suffer, until the ending.

***

Isaac is leaning up against a light post in the roundabout entrance of the hospital, smirking as soon as he sees Derek and Stiles coming into sight. Once he’s close enough he chortles, “they really put you in a wheelchair, huh?”

Derek certainly is wheeling Stiles towards Isaac as they speak, with a backpack slung over his shoulder that has all of Stiles’ possessions in it. Apparently, the clothes he had been wearing when he got shot are in there as well, all wrapped up in plastic bags. Stiles is curious as to why they aren’t just locked up in an evidence room somewhere, or why they’d think he’d want them back, but they’re in there.

“I’m simply milking this for everything it’s worth,” Stiles says imperiously in response, wrapped in his blanket and clutching his brand new shiny phone. “There’s only so many times a person gets to be treated like a King.”

Isaac stands all the way up, stepping towards them in heavy boots to meet them half way. “I’m glad you find being treated like this is the equivalent to being a King.”

Stiles looks up at Derek. “Why is he here?”

A pale, bony finger points to a familiar looking Escalade parked up against the curb. It very evidently has red paint reading AMBULANCE PARKING ONLY KEEP CLEAR all over it, but apparently, that means nothing to Isaac at all. “I’m driving you home. Or should we just wheel you into oncoming traffic and hope for the best?”

“Let’s get him in the car before someone tows us away,” Derek says, and Isaac thankfully turns and pops open the rear door with a hellacious grin on his face. This is very amusing to him; Stiles the invalid, all pathetic and pale and skinny looking from his time in the big house. They help him in, and Stiles can walk just fine – he’s just a little shaky and it hurts to move too much. He slides inside and is thankful for the dark tinted windows, because it’s like being in his own little cave as soon as they shut the door.

There’s this moment in time where Isaac is in the car, the driver’s seat, lighting a cigarette, and Derek is walking back to return the wheelchair, so they’re alone together. Isaac looks at him in the rearview mirror as he takes a drag, blue eyes calculating.

“I thought you had shot me,” Stiles tells him, and Isaac lifts a single brow. “When I looked up and you were standing over me. I thought you’d shot me, at first.”

“Ah,” Isaac nods his understanding, glaring out the windshield. “If I had wanted you dead, you’d be dead.” He starts the car with a purr, while Derek is emerging once more from the automatic doors. “I’ve got deadlock.”

“Deadlock?” Stiles has never heard this word used before – or at least, not the way Isaac is saying it.

“It’s a word we used where I was trained,” he looks at Stiles in the mirror again, smoke billowing around his features. “It means I’ve got the areas of the body that instantly kill someone locked. And I don’t miss.”

Derek pops open the passenger door, sliding over the leather and slamming it shut. Isaac clicks on his blinker and slides into drive, holding his cigarette between his lips as he grins and turns the wheel. “Are we ready kids?”

Derek’s apartment feels like a Jamaican beach. As soon as they step inside, Stiles hobbles right over to his favorite spot on the couch and deflates, sinking into the cushions like a balloon that’s having the air slowly let out, huffing a relieved breath. While Derek fusses with handing him his blanket and insisting he take his shoes off, Stiles just relishes in the fact that he’s here at all.

He never really got the chance to have the thought of I’m going to die, because one second he was shot and the next he was waking up in a hospital bed, but he has had time to reflect on it. And he has reflected especially on the fact that he almost died without first getting the chance to sit on this couch one last time, so this, right now? Luxury hotel levels of incredible.

His eyes catch the fish tank out of the corners, and he gleefully notes that Satchmo is still alive and swimming. For some reason, he imagined that in all the hubbub no one was here to feed him and he’d die the worst death – but Heidi has likely been here. She’s not so heartless as to let a fish go out like that, at least.

Instead of bidding them goodbye and leaving, like Stiles expected him to do instantly, Isaac closes the door behind himself and clomps inside. Honestly, Stiles doesn’t get how he’s supposed to be this mysterious creature of the shadows with the shoes that he wears; it’s like listening to the beaches of Normandy being stormed even as he just treads over the tile until hitting carpet in the living room.

When he beelines it for the kitchen and starts digging around in the fridge, Stiles looks over his shoulder and then turns to Derek, whisper-hissing at him. “Why is he still here?”

“Your distaste for him is tiring,” he says, matter-of-fact, and then follows it up with no explanation whatsoever. “You want some real food? I can make you some pesto pasta, how about?”

“Okay,” Stiles agrees. “Thank you. Don’t feel like you have to baby me,” he says, even as Derek is walking away to the kitchen to shove Isaac aside to get at a specific cabinet. “I can do stuff on my own, I’m just…tired.”

Exhausted, actually. Emotionally and mentally drained. There is still so much he hasn’t had time to linger on or really examine critically, especially not in what Derek had told him earlier today. It was…a lot to unpack. Stiles’ mind is still scrambling through the suitcases of it all, honestly.

He picks something to watch on Netflix – The Office, because it’s funny and it makes him feel better and it’s got nothing to do with the mob whatsoever – and Derek brings him food on a steaming plate. It’s loaded with more than Stiles could ever eat in one sitting, so he eats until he physically can’t anymore.

The entire time, Isaac is sitting at the dining room table eating his share in silence. Stiles feels like he’s being watched.

It only gets weirder when night falls entirely and Isaac is still. There. Derek helps him into his pajamas, working around the sling expertly, and as Stiles settles into the covers in the dark he can hear Isaac and Derek talking out in the hallway in hushed tones about something that sounds moderately serious. Stiles is annoyed, because why in god’s unholy name would Derek want Isaac to fucking be here at a time like this? Stiles just got home from the hospital. From almost being dead. You’d think Derek would want to spend one on one time just with Stiles.

And then in the morning. Stiles comes out after a harrowing ordeal with the shower (the sling had to come off and the cast was revealed, ugly and terrible and needing to be wrapped in saran wrap to keep it dry while he bathed), and Isaac is sitting at the breakfast nook in the spot Stiles usually sits at, drinking coffee. He grins when he sees Stiles, turning in his place. “I made coffee.”

Stiles has no choice. He plops down at the nook right across from him after pouring his own cup one handed, sinking into the cushion and huffing. “I didn’t take you for an early riser,” he says, examining the fact that Isaac is dressed, showered with dry hair, and seeming to be two cups deep already.

“Oh, yeah,” he nods, shrugging. “I get up at six at the latest.”

The more things Isaac says, the more Stiles starts to think he’s got him sort of figured out. Of course Stiles may never get to the true bottom of things, but from what he’s gathered on observation and his word alone, Stiles figures that Isaac was at one point in a military program of some sort and then went rogue or something. Maybe even a top secret military operation – who knows? It would explain a lot about him, honestly.

Derek comes over and Stiles perks up at the sight of him, smiling big. The invasive thoughts of him talking about ripping people’s finger nails off occur to him quickly, but he had thought about all of that as he was falling asleep last night. Derek had said that Stiles would love to think that Derek doesn’t “know how to torture people”, and he wasn’t wrong. That’s exactly the type of thing Stiles has loved to think about Derek this entire time, ever since first finding out about who he really was – but in the back of his mind, Stiles always knew.

He lived with it then, he can live with it now. Derek is…well. He is who he is.

“Here, baby,” he says, setting a plate of food down in front of him. It’s eggs and hashbrowns done just how Stiles likes them, and he tilts his neck back in offering of a kiss. Derek pecks him quickly, patting him on the back, careful of where the wound is all patched up with fresh bandages.

Isaac watches all of this like a person who files information away the way other people file taxes, eyes hawkish. He says, “nobody cooked me eggs or called me baby, this morning.”

“There’s yogurt in the fridge,” Derek all but snaps at him, and Isaac seems to be used to this sort of treatment, because he just hides his shit-eating grin behind his mug as he sips. Stiles happily digs into his food, though it’s hard to navigate the plate with only his bad hand to work with. A person would be amazed at the amount of things having only four fingers hinders – it’s like being a cat. The fork nearly topples out of his hand a few times, but he manages fine if he goes slow. “And I thought you were seeing a girl who was calling you pet names.”

“Like most people,” he starts, slowly, leaning back into the nook, “she bored me. Most of them do.” He sets his eyes on Stiles. “I’m thinking of switching over to your team, you know?”

Stiles swallows what he has in his mouth and glares. “That is such a straight white guy thing to say.”

Isaac raises his eyebrows, all sarcastic. “Tumblr user skinnypaleblog weighs in.”

“Derek, seriously?” Stiles gestures at Isaac with his fork, while Derek putters around in the sink washing his dishes. “Why, with this fucking guy being in my face?”

“If you two can’t get along, I’ll just quarantine you both to two separate ends of the apartment.”

Isaac and Stiles look at one another, and then go quiet for their own good. Incurring Derek’s wrath wouldn’t be good for either of them. Stiles eats the rest of his breakfast quietly and Isaac sips his coffee, staring out the window. Although every now and again, Stiles catches him shifting his eyes this way or that, like he’s making mental notes about their surroundings. As far as Stiles can tell, there’s nothing going on in the apartment at all. Derek is finishing the dishes and Stiles is eating and Satchmo is swimming – what is he adding up in his head, Stiles wonders? Which objects in the room can be used as weapons, if need be?

Stiles finishes and stands, clutching his plate with his hand and walking it over to Derek and the sink. He plops it into the sudsy water and kisses Derek on the cheek, leaning against his body as Derek’s arms work over the dishes. “I thought this is what Heidi was for,” Stiles says into his ear, pressing his nose against Derek’s cheek.

“Can’t just sit around doing nothing,” he says back, scrubbing furiously at the plate with a blue and black sponge. “I’ll go out of my mind.”

With a sigh, Stiles steps back and observes Derek from head to toe. He’s got on sweatpants and a v-neck, both black, and he’s got bags under his eyes. Stiles slept like the dead last night, but he’d be willing to bet that Derek tossed and turned, thinking of God only knows what until the sun came up and it was time to baby Stiles some more. “No work today?”

Derek side-eyes him. From the nook, Isaac coughs into his hand. “No. I’m staying home with you, are you kidding?”

That only stands to reason. Stiles is useless by himself right now. If he had his way, he’d just melt into the couch eating ice cream while watching Sex and the City and getting hopped up on pain pills for hours on end, dead to the world. “Speaking of work, I should call. I imagine someone got to them and let them know I had been whacked off.”

“Please stop saying whacked off,” Derek shuts the water off and dries his hand off on a dish towel, brows furrowing.

“They don’t say that for real on the inside?” He makes a face, unimpressed. “Then what do you call it?”

“Yes. Work knows that you were injured,” he chooses to ignore Stiles, which is likely for the best. He puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder and guides him out of the kitchen, while Isaac’s icy blue eyes follow their every move like they’re his favorite show to watch. It gives him the absolute creeps. “You don’t have to worry about that.”

“I should e-mail, at least,” he argues, even while Derek is sitting him down on the couch and fluffing up the pillows for him, gathering them up behind his back so he can sit up comfortably without irritating his wounds. “Let them know I’m still at large.”

“They know you’re at large,” he puts the xbox controller in Stiles’ reach to use if he wants, so Netflix and all his apps and games are readily at his disposal. “Just relax, don’t worry about it. Okay, sweetheart?”

Stiles makes a face. “Tomorrow, then.”

“Yes, tomorrow,” he agrees with a light smile. “Work all you want. Dictation will be a big help.”

“I thought I’d dictate my works to you and you’d type it up for me.”

Stiles is kidding, of course he is, but Derek doesn’t see it that way. He says, “of course,” like it’s an absolute no brainer that he would do that for Stiles. Drop everything and be at Stiles’ beck and call even for something as ridiculous as that. “If you need anything, I’ll be right down the hall,” he says, stroking at Stiles’ hair. “I’ll be organizing the closet.”

Right, yes. Organizing the closet. Shuffling the money around. Whatever he wants to call it.

He stands and pads away, leaving Stiles alone with the television and his phone – but Stiles can still tell that Isaac is sitting at the nook. Just sitting there. He rolls his eyes and decides that he doesn’t want to spend another second wondering what it is that Isaac is up to, reaching for the controller to turn on his Xbox.

The television comes to life after the chirp the console makes at him, and then he’s faced with his homescreen. The icons for Netflix, Hulu, and a handful of games shine at him, but he makes a face as he clicks through all his games and apps. He has a handful of first person shooter games that make him flinch and remember what it was like to watch his own blood splatter across Derek’s face, and then a handful of horror games that make him flinch and remember what Derek had said about ripping Theo’s fingernails off, and then a handful of adventure games with villains that make him flinch and remember the way Theo had looked at him that night at Ginger’s birthday party.

In the end, he turns the Xbox off and stares at his own blurry reflection in the glass coffee table. His chest hurts and his arm aches and Derek is strictly limiting his intake of his pain meds to the point where he won’t even tell Stiles where he’s keeping them, so it’s not like he can get whacked out and forget all his problems. He leans into the pillows and holds his phone in his hand. It’s different than his old one, heavier and sleeker and brand new.

He tests its weight in his palm, puckering his lips. There’s a phone call he has to make.

For as long as he can, he just sits in silence and listens to Isaac tapping his fingers on the nook in the adjacent room, and the distant sounds of Derek shuffling and moving things about in the closet in the master bedroom. He knows that if he stood up and sought Derek out, Derek would instantly be at his beck and call, willing to do anything with or for him that Stiles asked.

But Derek has been Stiles’ maid for days now, even when he was still in the hospital, and it’s starting to make Stiles feel guilt. Derek has done everything for him, and, like, bared his entire soul and all that shit, and Stiles thinks Derek deserves an hour alone to rustle around in his closet being a weirdo.

He twirls the phone some more. Avoidance. If only Derek had just let sleeping dogs lie, for once, and not immediately sprung to buy Stiles a new phone as soon as they handed him the shattered one along with the rest of Stiles’ belongings. If his phone were broken, then he’d have an excuse to not call.

As it is, he doesn’t have one. And days have gone by since they’ve seen one another, and this is his last loose end from…before.

It seems that before getting shot and after getting shot are two completely different universes and two completely different stories.

With his metaphorical tail between his legs, he opens up his contacts and scrolls until finding a familiar name. It takes everything in him to not hesitate before pressing call, and then even more still to press the phone to his ear.

It rings, and Stiles curls and uncurls his fingers where they rest against the edges of his cast. It still feels like a foreign object against his skin, and even worse is the sling that keeps his arm completely out of commission – but nothing quite rivals the deep penetrating pain of the wound in his back. It’s all shitty, and he’s not sure yet if this conversation is going to make any of it better or worse.

Scott answers on the second ring, his hello?? sounding more intense than it does casual. Stiles looks down at his knees and then leans forward – stopping abruptly when that movement tugs just a bit too much on his injury.

“Hey,” Stiles says, and then he clears his throat. “Um…it’s me.”

“Yeah,” Scott sounds a bit breathless on the other line. “I know. Hey.”

“Hey,” he repeats again and feels stupid for it, lifting his eyes to gaze up at the ceiling. Conversations between them should never be this stilted and awkward, and Stiles spends a second reflecting on how it got to be this way. Maybe it’s his fault. Maybe it’s Scott’s. Maybe it’s Derek’s – is there any point in trying to lay blame on any one person?

After a silence, Scott clears his throat. “How are you doing?”

“I’m not dead,” Stiles decides on. “That’s what, like, matters, I guess.”

“Yeah…” Scott trails the word off. “I’m glad you’re not dead.”

“Same. Uh, look…” he shifts in his spot on the couch and wonders if Isaac is listening to this, every last word of it, and then wonders if that should bother him. “…I’m sorry for how things have been –“

“No, I’m sorry,” Scott insists, and of course he does. Scott has always been the more altruistic one of the two of them, the one with more of a conscience – the one who, if he were in Stiles’ shoes, would’ve turned and walked away from Derek the exact second he should’ve.

“Are you?” Stiles can’t help but smile, sad and guilty. “Everything you said was true, and I’ve got the scars to prove it, now.”

“But maybe I shouldn’t have said it like that. I could’ve been more understanding.”

There is no argument that, actually, he was wrong. There is no denial for the fact that all of this is only the result of Derek’s life, and why would there be, at this point? Still, maybe Stiles wanted to hear Scott say that he was wrong after all, if only because he’s selfish and wants to hear the words out loud, no matter how much of a lie they really are.

“When I heard what happened, I…I just hated myself, you know?”

Stiles furrows his brow.

“For fighting with you like that and saying all that stuff, and then…just leaving it like that. I couldn’t have, like, lived with myself if you had died after that, man. You know?”

“Isn’t it weird that I almost died?” Stiles scrunches his nose up and looks to the windows, where the city is sitting in a mid-morning glow. “Isn’t it weird that my life is like this, now?”

“Very weird,” Scott agrees. “And now you’re marrying him.”

It sounds so stupid, when it’s said like that. Even in spite of all of this, everything he’s just said, Scott can’t seem to keep the judgment out of his tone, and maybe that’s fair. “Well, I’m in love with him. What do you want me to do about that?”

A deep, all-suffering sigh echoes from Scott’s end. It is a sigh of someone who is simply just resigned, no fight left in them. “So you’re just…okay with this?”

“I’m not okay with this. I lost a finger. I got shot. I’m not okay with it, all right?”

“Well then why –“

“He said he was going to change,” Stiles cuts him off, voice loud. “Before he asked me to marry him, that’s what he said. He said he was going to change for me and let someone else take over and…he said he was going to change, okay?”

“And you believe that?”

There’s no hesitation when Stiles says, “implicitly, yes. He wouldn’t lie to me about that.”

“He’s lied to you about a lot of things before,” there’s accusation in his tone, and maybe Stiles just sort of has to accept the fact that Scott will always resent Derek for one thing or another. Stiles can’t rightly blame him for that, not after everything that’s happened. Hell, he’s right. Derek has lied a lot. Who’s to say this isn’t another lie?

“I just know he means it, okay? I can’t explain it. I just…he wouldn’t lie about that. Not to me. Look, I am going to marry him, that’s just how it’s going to be. I don’t want you to be mad at me about that.”

“I’m not mad at you,” Scott says, genuine, like he’s never meant anything more in his entire life. “I’m not mad at all. I just…I guess I just wanted better for you, is all.”

Better? Better? Than Derek? And who is ever going to be better than Derek? Except, of course, a guy who isn’t in the mafia and who has never killed anyone and who makes his money the honest way and who tells the truth and who does what he says he will. But then, that person wouldn’t be Derek.

“I just want you to be happy.”

“I’m happy with Derek,” Stiles counters, and Scott sighs again. That same sigh from before.

Scott must decide that he doesn’t want to have this conversation anymore, or at least he realizes that there’s nothing on planet earth that he could say to get Stiles to change his mind. Because he says, “I just want you and I to be okay, you know?”

“I know that I can be all uh…wrapped up in my own bullshit, and all, but your friendship is seriously so important to me, dude. I hated not talking. Like, hated it.”

“Me, too, Let’s not do that again, okay?”

“Yeah, definitely. Friends no matter what.”

No matter what, indeed. “And, of course you have to be my best man.”

“Oh, God…” he sounds torn at the prospect, and then, “well, yeah of course. Sure, yeah. Christ. You’re actually getting married.”

Stiles doesn’t have the ring on right now because they took it off to put his cast on and sling his arm up, so Derek has it tucked safely away who knows where – but yeah. Yeah he is.

In spite of all else, yes he is.

***

After falling asleep on the couch without realizing it, Stiles wakes up and hurts. He frowns and sits up all the way, realizing he had somehow toppled over and landed directly on his injured arm and hand. With a wince he stands, making his way towards the hallway leading down to he and Derek’s shared bedroom. It hurts to move this much and he grits his teeth, turning his head as he shuffles along to see Isaac still sitting at the breakfast nook, scribbling furiously into a tiny black notebook.

It’s likely filled with all the information he’s collected about Stiles since the day they first met, or at least something of equal creepiness.

Agitated, he says, “thanks for just leaving me there to sleep on my wound and fuck myself up.”

Isaac looks up and narrows his eyes a bit, and then immediately doles out another one of his shit-eating grins. “You think I check up on you more than I ever would.”

Rolling his eyes and much too annoyed and hurt to care for being dishonest, he says, “you check up on me constantly, it’s your job.”

Isaac blinks like he’s surprised, face going a bit slack as he realizes he has no barb to zing back to that particular statement – after all, it’s simply the truth. Stiles goes into the dim hallway and pushes open the door to the master bedroom all the way, revealing bags upon bags of money lying all over the floor.

Stiles eyeballs them critically, cocking his head to the side. One, two, three, four, five…he counts five. Five bags filled to overflowing with nothing but stacks of cash. He puckers his lips and steps over them, making his way through the maze carefully so as not to trip and fall and hurt himself any more than he already has.

Derek comes into sight deep in the closet, pulling big wads of money out of one of his safes. He’s dumping them into another bag by the stacked handful, squatting down and barely looking at the money as he transfers it from one place to another.

He’s alerted to Stiles’ presence when Stiles comes in, probably looking a mess. Derek looks him up and down, from the messy bed head to the sourpuss expression on his face to the rustled clothing, and gives him a smile. Like he thinks Stiles is cute.

“Daddy, I want my pills.”

Derek snorts and dumps another stack of hundreds into his big black bag. “That sounds like a Lana Del Rey song.”

“What do you know about Lana Del Rey?”

With a shrug, Derek slams the empty safe shut and zips the bag with a quick flick of his wrist, standing up to his full height. “I know enough. You seem a little fussy.”

“I’m not fussy,” he snaps, and Derek raises his eyebrows like this is only further proving his own point. “I’m annoyed. Isaac is still fucking here and I’m tired and I slept on my arm and it hurts and you won’t even let me have dominion over my own god damn pain medication and what are you doing with all this money?”

Derek looks at him for only a second more, like he’s adding up all the variables to conclude that Stiles isn’t really mad at any particular thing or person – he’s just fussy, yes. Then, he steps around Stiles with a hand pressing to his shoulder gently in a comfort, moseying over to exit the closet. Stiles follows.

As they go towards the bathroom, Derek says, “burying evidence.”

“Oh,” Stiles is sidetracked by this momentarily, while Derek flicks on the master bathroom light and they pad onto the heated tiles. “But I thought –“

“Your father and the department have promised to leave me alone, yes, but believe it or not,” he squats down and opens up the forlorn cabinet where nothing but toilet paper is kept, “I don’t trust a single one of them as far as I could throw them. I’m just taking precautions.”

“Precautions.”

“I as good as admitted my own involvement,” he reaches inside and shuffles the rolls around, arm stretching all the way into the back, before he comes up with a rattling orange bottle of pills. “Your father is a lot of things, but a chump? Not one of them. He may be here before day’s end to search this apartment. Who knows?”

Oh. Stiles had…sort of thought that would be it. He had truly believed that Derek handing Theo over like a pig to be slaughtered to the police would be enough to get him off the hook for the rest of his life. But then, he supposes Derek is right. Even if his father is accepting of their relationship, the department at large would see it as a sign of weakness if he just let this shit slide.

Derek opens up the bottle and produces two pristine white pills, holding them out in his palm for Stiles to take. “Now I know where the secret hiding place is and I can get them whenever I want,” he says, taking the pills from Derek and swallowing the first one completely dry in his desperation for the pain to stop.

With an amused tilt to his head, Derek smirks. “I have a dozen different hiding spaces in this room alone. I’ll find a new spot. Drink some water, you animal.”

Stiles is about to dry swallow the second pill too, when Derek catches his wrist at the same time he leans over to grab at a water glass sitting on the sink. He releases Stiles to pour some water into the glass and then hands it over, so Stiles dutifully drinks water and then swallows the pill along with it.

“So,” he asks when he’s done, placing the water back down on the counter, “where are you gonna put all this stuff? The money, I mean.”

Derek eyes him for a moment. It seems like he’s wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to fill Stiles in on this particular piece of information – like he’s suspicious that Stiles may be questioned and if he is, he might crack. Then, he folds. “I said I was burying evidence.”

With a twist to his face, Stiles waits for further explanation. When Derek offers none, Stiles has to snort. “You’re really going to go somewhere and dig a hole and stick a bunch of money in the hole?”

“More or less,” he shrugs, like this is no big deal. Stiles thinks it’s hilarious, personally, so he laughs and laughs even as Derek herds him out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom. “How’s everything feeling?”

Sobering up, Stiles sits down on the edge of the bed, watching Derek bend over to zip up all his bags and collect them in a big pile in the center of the room. “Bad. Nobody ever says getting shot hurts this much. It just looks cool in movies.”

As Derek is dragging the last bag into the pile, he stands up to his full height and regards Stiles entirely – from top to bottom. His tired expression and his slung up arm and his general state of being completely pathetic. He steps forward, close into Stiles’ personal space, and squats down so he’s not just at Stiles’ level. He’s beneath it. He looks up into Stiles’ face and takes his good hand hostage, squeezing it firmly. “I know I’ve said a lot of stuff to you since all this happened,” he starts, and Stiles can feel that there’s a bit of a speech forthcoming, “but one thing I haven’t said yet is how sorry I am that this happened.”

Stiles looks away and shrugs. “It’s more my fault than it is yours –“

“It’s my fault,” he insists, voice hard. There is no room for argument in his tone, and Stiles knows better than to try it when Derek uses that voice. It’s final. “No matter what you said to me about Theo, I should have known better. I should’ve handled it. I didn’t. And even then, I should’ve…I should’ve known better than to drag you into all this.”

“You keep saying all this stuff like I had no free will,” he rasps, finally looking back to meet Derek’s eyes. “I chose to stay with you. Even knowing…even knowing all that.”

A small, weak smile crosses Derek’s face. “You have been naïve since the day I met you. It’s not your fault. Okay? None of this is your fault. I’m sorry. I won’t let it happen again.”

“So, then you meant it. What you said to me before you asked me to marry you?” He pushes, squeezing Derek’s hand right back and holding on for dear life. “You really mean that you’re going to…stop?”

Derek looks him right in the eyes. Dead on. “I don’t have much of a choice.”

There is sadness in his tone as he says it, and Stiles squints his eyes and shakes his head, like he doesn’t understand. “What do you mean you don’t have a choice? You have a choice. You…”

“Stiles,” he cuts him off, but his voice is gentle instead of forceful. He takes Stiles’ hand in both of his own, now, cradling it like Stiles is so soft and simple. “Baby. I think you’re not grasping the full scope of what I’ve done. What I did when I turned Theo in. Okay?”

“But…”

“I flipped.” He says it like Stiles is supposed to just…get it. Stiles doesn’t. So he blinks and blinks, and Derek sighs through his nose. “I flipped the script on everyone. There’s more common terminology for it – maybe snitching makes sense to you.”

Stiles’ mouth goes dry. Yes, he’s familiar with the term snitch. It doesn’t have very positive connotations associated with it.

“People don’t take very kindly to those who do what I just did. I’m in big trouble, now.”

Trouble? Trouble? But they’re supposed to be out of trouble. This was supposed to be the last shitty or scary thing that was going to happen to them, and they were supposed to be out of the woods by now, and they were supposed to be…done. All of it, done. “I don’t…”

“There are people who are going to try and kill me for what I did. I need you to understand that.”

“But –“

“You said you were tired of me lying to you. Well, I’m not lying now. I need you to be able to get this. This is reality. This is the situation I’m in, now. Why do you think Isaac is here, right now?”

That makes sense, Stiles thinks, as he closes his eyes and shakes his head. That makes sense. Isaac being here. After all, he’s the one who’s been silently watching over he and Derek this entire time, making sure nothing was going to happen to them and if anything did, he’d be there to handle it. The sniper incident was an anomaly, if only because it came out of literal nowhere – instead of hunting Theo down to kill him, Isaac chose instead to come out of wherever he was hiding to help Derek deal with the aftermath.

Now, he’s here. Standing guard, like he’s just waiting for something bad to happen. Someone to come for Derek or Stiles or both of them, at once.

“That’s not safe. The situation isn’t safe at all, not for you.” He clears his throat and strokes the back of Stiles’ hand with his thumb, refusing to meet Stiles’ eyes. “I was waiting to tell you this until you were feeling better because I know it’ll…upset you. But you need to see that it’s for the best. Okay?”

“What?” Stiles demands, voice small. “What is it?”

Derek looks him in the face. “I need to leave for a little while.”

“Okay…” Stiles says, slow and even.

“I have to go away until things sort of…die down. Even after everything is settled, I won’t be able to show my face in this city ever again. I’m on a blacklist of sorts, now, and some of the worst possible people to have for enemies are now my enemies because of all this. I don’t…I can’t ever come back here once I leave.”

Again, Stiles repeats. “…okay.”

Now this, Stiles can tell from the look on Derek’s face, is going to be the death blow. “And you are going to stay here with Isaac until I come back to –“

“No,” Stiles shakes his head, cutting him off. “No, I’m not staying if you’re going.”

Closing his eyes like he knew it was coming, Derek inhales a big breath and only opens his eyes when he lets it go again. “Stiles. You need to understand –“

No,” he hisses, more forcefully this time. He rips his hand out of Derek’s grip and shoves at his shoulder, but Derek barely moves. “You’re not leaving me here, are you kidding? Are you kidding?”

“It’s not safe for you to be around me –“

“It’s not safe for you to leave me here!” He hollers right into Derek’s face, and Derek flinches and grits his teeth. Stiles stands up even though it hurts to do so, and Derek stands up right after him with his arms held out, like he’s going to usher Stiles back into a sitting position.

“You shouldn’t move that quickly –“

“What are you talking about?” Stiles demands, whipping around so he’s looking Derek right in his stupid face. “What are you even saying? Why would you say that?”

Derek breathes out through his nose, and then pinches the bridge of it with one hand on his hip. He’s got this expression on his face, and there in his posture, like this is the worst conversation he’s ever had to have in his life. Stiles is starting to feel the same way. It only gets worse when Isaac appears in the doorway like a ghoul, from thin air almost, blinking serenely in at the scene that awaits him. “I heard raised voices,” he says by way of explanation. Stiles just grits his teeth and looks away, too angry to even grace Isaac’s presence with acknowledgment.

“You’re not listening to me,” Derek starts, putting his hands together and gesturing them in Stiles’ direction – like he’s giving a lecture at the front of the class, or something. “What I did –“

“I know what you did, I’m not stupid! What I don’t understand is how you can stand there and say you’re just going to leave me behind in this stupid city and wait for you to come back, like I’m some kind of –“ he waves his free hand around in the air, wildly, and Derek traces the movement with his eyes, “…just one of your possessions you can set aside whenever you feel like!”

“That’s not fair of you to say,” Derek says, voice low. Apparently, this statement has struck some kind of a chord. “That’s not what this is about. I told you. It’s not safe for you to be around me when –“

“How could it possibly be safe for you to just abandon me? All by myself?”

With a guilty expression on his face, Derek juts his chin in the direction of where Isaac is standing. He’s leaning up against the doorframe with his arms crossed, watching this entire argument like a hawk. God, isn’t there anything better on television? “I’m leaving Isaac with you.”

Stiles shakes his head. This cannot be happening. But clearly, Derek thinks that it is happening – is already in the process of happening as they speak. Derek has thought about this. He’s made arrangements. Isaac isn’t only hanging around to watch over the two of them up until the coast is clear. He’s here to move in so that when Derek is gone, he can just be here, 24/7, watching Stiles’ every move to make sure no one tries to shoot him through the windows.

It’s insane. The fact that this is his life is fucking absurd, but he’s living it.

“No,” he hisses, shaking his head again. Derek steps forward like he’s going to touch Stiles with soft hands, placate him, coo at him about how it’s the right thing to do and he’s just fussy and baby him and Stiles won’t have it. He says, “no,” again, louder, curling his arm up and dodging out of Derek’s hands. “If you’re going, I’m going. You can’t make me stay here. I’m going.”

“My decision is final –“

Fuck your decision!” Stiles tries to do his trademark flailing arms argumentative tick without thinking, tugging on his injured arm so hard a pain shoots up his spine and makes him cringe and wince.

Derek is coming towards him in a second, arms bracketing him but not touching quite yet. “You’re going to hurt yourself. This is why I was waiting to tell you –“

Ignoring that, Stiles just dodges away from Derek’s embrace and stands his ground, on his own. “I have had this conversation with you before, and I know you remember it! You think you can tell me what to do just because that’s how it works in bed, but you only get to say that you own me when I decide that you get you to say that.”

Isaac is still standing there listening, so maybe Stiles should be slightly ashamed that he’s heard this intimate detail of he and Derek’s sex life – but Isaac doesn’t look particularly surprised. Stiles is unsure how forthcoming Derek is about his personal life with his underlings, but Stiles always assumed it wasn’t that forthcoming. Maybe he had been wrong.

“I don’t think that,” Derek argues, shaking his head, but Stiles doesn’t listen.

“You obviously do. You clearly do. You think that you are charge of everything all the time because that’s what all your little goonies act like when they’re around you,” he gestures to Isaac, who makes a face like true, and Derek grits his teeth. “I’m not one of your sidekicks. I am not your subservient toy who follows your every command in real life. That’s a scene. That’s a game. I’m not playing games with you right now. Either you don’t leave, or I come with you,” he lifts his chin in the air, defiant, and Derek isn’t meeting his eyes. “You pick.”

Derek is quiet for a long time. He rubs at his jaw and looks at the carpet, and Stiles stands there staring at him, waiting for him to say anything. Anything at all. A part of Stiles half expects Derek to go ballistic and start packing his bags over Stiles’ protests, because Stiles can tell that Derek’s mind had been completely and utterly made up on moments ago. He is as stubborn as Stiles is, Stiles has learned that about him. He may not budge on this particular issue. Stiles doesn’t know what he would do, if Derek left him here.

All of this. All that has happened to him. And Derek leaves him here alone because it’s “what’s best” for him. It’s not fair. Derek has to see that it’s just not fair.

Isaac clears his throat. “He’s got a point, boss.”

“You shut the fuck up,” Derek hisses at him, and Isaac just sighs and turns his eyes toward the ceiling, puckering his lips. Turning his eyes to Stiles, his face softens immediately, mouth going slack, eyes going a bit wider with honesty. He says, “you don’t really think I treat you like that. Do you?”

“I –“ Stiles starts, and then shakes his head. “You don’t do it on purpose or to be malicious, but you do it. You just decide things all the time. You decide when I get to know something, and you decide what’s “best”, and you decide this and that and then you think you can tell me that that’s final.” He scoffs, rolling his eyes. “I decide when I want you to control me. It’s my rules that you operate under the command of. I let you think that you own me because it’s fun and dirty and I like fun and dirty. The reason you fell in love with me is because I’m not really like that, and you know it,” he steps closer, into Derek’s personal space – and Derek is quiet and somewhat chastised, looking guilty as sin. “You don’t get to make my decisions for me. So again – either you stay, or I come with you.”

Derek’s jaw works silently, while he lowers his eyes and seems to try and work this all out in his head. He’s trying to find his way out of this one, Stiles knows. He really and honestly believes that taking Stiles with him would only lead to danger where Stiles is concerned, and Stiles gets that. He does.

But it’s his life. And if he wants to risk it just to be with Derek, then fuck it. He’ll do that. Derek doesn’t get to choose what Stiles does or doesn’t do just because he thinks he knows what’s best. He evidently doesn’t know what’s best, anyway – he’s a fucking crime lord for fuck’s sake. He can’t even make half way decent decisions for himself.

Finally, Derek meets Stiles’ eyes. “If you want to come with me, I need to tell you some things.” His voice is soft. He sounds anxious.

“Okay,” Stiles nods, eagerly stepping forward. He feels like he’s won. “What is it?”

Derek sighs and shakes his head. “It’s not just…” he thrusts his hands out, like he’s struggling to find the words. “It’s not just one thing, and I can’t just…I can’t just say it. But I’m – if you’re going to come, I’m asking you to give things up. You realize that. Don’t you?”

Stiles hesitates. He hadn’t realized that.

“Your job, and your friends, and your father. All of it, for a long time.”

“How long?”

Derek shrugs, slow and precise. “I don’t know, sweetheart. I don’t know.”

The job, Stiles can…accept. He was really getting somewhere and maybe he would’ve been promoted to features and start to gain his footing and make a name for himself and bring in his own money and have a real career. But he can always go to another paper, maybe a bigger and better one, and do just as well there. He’s talented, he knows he is. He can do it no matter where he is. Maybe he’ll write a book – he’s always thought about it, after all.

But Scott. And his dad. And this town, where he grew up. Where his childhood house still sits with the etchings in the doorframe of his height catalogued by his mother all through his youngest years. All of his things, all of his memories, all of those non-material things that Derek just cannot buy for him. There is no price tag on his hometown, or his father, or Scott. Derek knows it.

He's always known it.

“If you’re going to give those things up, for me, then you need to know me. You need to know me, all of me,” he looks away, to Isaac, who is quiet with his eyes averted uncomfortably. “Then you can decide if you really want to risk everything to be with me, after all these things I’ve done.”

Stiles stands in his spot and can’t think of anything to say. He has known ever since the truth about Derek came out that there were things Derek wasn’t telling him. He has always known there were lies and half truths, and he learned to live with them because maybe he just didn’t want to know everything. Maybe he wanted to live with the shadow curtain that only showed the silhouettes, and never the full picture. Stiles does not know how much blood is on Derek’s hands. You can’t see that through a curtain.

Trying to lighten the mood because it’s all he really knows how to do, Stiles says, “well I already know you think about ripping people’s fingernails off, so…what’s worse than that?”

Derek looks at him. He looks at Stiles like Stiles is just so silly. So naïve.

So young and stupid and starry-eyed.

***

Stiles has got a mug of candy cane hot chocolate with a huge pile of whipped cream on top. He’s sitting on a pillow in front of the coffee table, comfortable with a blanket around his bottom half, and Derek is sitting across from him, on the couch proper. He’s got a huge handwritten pile of garbage in his hands.

It’s three or four pages of lined yellow paper, filled to the brim with Derek’s writing. Stiles bites his lip as Derek sets it down, and he knows that there is nothing on those pages except for the truth.

The one that Stiles has been scared of for so long. He drinks his hot chocolate and curls in on himself a bit. As he does, Isaac comes inside from where he had been smoking on the balcony, sliding the glass door shut behind him.

Instead of making himself scarce like any sane person would do, he simply approaches them and plops down on the couch right next to Derek, leaning into the cushions and making himself comfortable. Derek doesn’t seem to mind this at all, flipping through the pages as if he’s looking for a good place to start, but Stiles is mystified.

“Does he really need to be here for this?” He asks, narrowing his eyes at Isaac with incrimination.

“He’s here for most things,” Derek rubs at his face and scowls. “Maybe that’s a good starting point – Isaac has been following you for months.”

Isaac leans his chin into his palm and grins, grins, grins, eyebrows lifting in mockery. “I know about how you like to say you don’t go to fast food restaurants because you don’t support their slaughterhouses, but then once a month you get a Big Mac and eat it alone in your car after parking in the Wal Mart lot, all the way in the farthest corner.”

Stiles is aghast. Completely and totally taken aback. No one knows about that – not even Scott. Not even the people on the other side of the fourth wall. That is his dirty, dirty little secret, even dirtier than the fact that he exclusively wears women’s underwear. “What the fuck –“

“Your favorite spot for coffee is the little café on the corner of 10th and Cherry, you treat yourself to a donut once a week, typically with rainbow sprinkles, you like to sit outside for lunch –“

“That’s enough,” Derek snaps at him, and Isaac just grins and shakes his head in Stiles’ direction. Stiles is flabbergasted, turning to Derek with a look of explain this, and Derek just looks at him for a moment. He seems only mildly guilty. “You were threatened. Someone needed to keep tabs on you.”

It shouldn’t be surprising, he guesses. But all the same, it is. It’s a bizarre violation of his privacy, even by Derek’s standards. “There’s – you didn’t take pictures did you?”

“God, no,” Isaac seems offended. “Christ, can you imagine? My picture collection of you? And here’s Stiles on May 22nd, shoveling an entire Krispy Kreme into his mouth in one bite –“

“I don’t eat them in one bite,” he defends, color rising to his cheeks.

“Uh, you do.”

“The point is,” Stiles changes trajectories, face still aflame, “I – you know. If you wanted to have someone follow me, you could’ve at least…told me?”

Derek regards him with scrutiny. “Go back in time to when Theo first threatened you. Imagine me coming up to you and suggesting Isaac trails you for a while until we’re sure Theo isn’t going to make a move. Imagine your reaction. Imagine your first thought.”

Opening and closing his mouth for a moment, Stiles does. He imagines it all in vivid color. Derek coming home after work and sitting him down and laying this all out on the table for him. Being completely reasonable, explaining this is how things in his life work, that if Stiles is going to insist on Derek not taking care of Theo then he has to be willing to accept this.

He imagines himself scoffing and refusing to go along with it. “Okay,” he says slowly, narrowing his eyes. “But one could argue it wasn’t even worth it in the end, because he couldn’t even keep Theo from shooting me.”

“I’m good at my job. I’m not a fucking superhero,” he hisses, seeming genuinely put out that Stiles has insulted his capabilities as a…whatever the hell he actually is.

“This isn’t even the start of it,” Derek waves his hands like they’re completely off track, now, going back to his papers and shuffling them obsessively again. Stiles doesn’t know what he’s looking for in there – maybe an easy, soft place to start. The path of least resistance, leading into the path of most resistance.

He does it again and again, lips pursed, sighing through his nose and scanning his own words with quick eyes. Stiles watches him and looks to Isaac, who is watching the same thing with a dismayed expression on his face. It’s likely he doesn’t want Stiles to know all of this.

Or even more likely yet, he doesn’t want Stiles to hear this and go off the deep end. Freak out and leave Derek so Derek is inconsolable, leaving Isaac to deal with the fucking mess.

Does Derek think that’s what’s going to happen, when he admits all of this? That Stiles is going to want to leave, no matter how nicely he manages to frame the truth? That Stiles is going to run away and be done, forever?

What could possibly be so terrible? Any worse than what’s already happened?

Derek looks up after finally settling on one point. That’s exactly what he thinks. Stiles can tell just from the look in his eyes.

It feels monumental, this moment. Like there should be dramatic music and cinematography and an entire crowd of people with their breaths held, waiting for Derek to speak. Everything has been leading up to this.

But there isn’t. It’s just Stiles, and Derek, and Isaac. All alone in the highest apartment in a building all the way on the edges of town. No music. No angles. No way to capture things in a way that is any more beautiful than reality is. This is reality – and for once, there is no money on the table to cloud anyone’s judgment.

Derek starts.

***

Stiles sits on the balcony. He puffs on his third straight cigarette, staring out at the fading early winter sunlight, the sun falling behind the mountains of his home. He knows those mountains like the back of his hand – he could draw them from memory, except he’s shit at drawing. He’s shit at most things aside from writing. His one talent. The only thing he has ever been able to do.

He smokes, and smokes. Lights up another as soon as the last one is stubbed out.

Derek had been brutal, in his honesty. Stiles is still shaken, and as his hand reaches up to bring the cigarette to his lips, he notes that it’s shaking. Whether because it’s cold outside or because he feels so raw and torn open, who can say?

It’s only been forty-five minutes, or so. Stiles has been alone out here watching the sunset. Derek finally slides open the door and steps outside, coming around the back of Stiles’ chair to sit in the one right next to him. Stiles doesn’t look at him. He smokes, glaring out at the line of orange peeking out from behind the mountains, and Derek picks up the pack and pilfers his own cigarette. Takes Stiles’ lighter. Uses it.

Then, he stares at the side of Stiles’ face. Like he’s waiting for Stiles to say something.

During the fucking testimonial or whatever one might want to call it, Stiles had been silent. He had just listened, even when things shocked him enough that he could’ve started yelling – he just sat there. Everything came at him, one after the other, and he just nodded along or sat frozen or blinked his understanding.

When it was done, he sat quietly for a full minute. Then, he excused himself to the balcony, and has been out here ever since in his blanket, bare foot, staring out at the sky. Having it all dumped on him at once like that was…maybe not the best way to go. But he figures Derek didn’t have much of a choice. It was now, or it was never.

After a full two minutes of Derek just staring at the side of Stiles’ face, likely terrified that the next words out of Stiles’ mouth are going to be that his done, that this is over, that Derek disgusts him and he wants nothing to do with him ever again, Stiles finally speaks. He says, “you were really going to kidnap a teenager, huh? Me.”

Derek huffs a breath from his nose. Doesn’t take his eyes off of Stiles’ face. “It was a suggestion,” he says.

“You thought about it. You had my picture.”

“Yes.”

“I was…” Stiles stubs his cigarette out, vindictively angry, and Derek doesn’t even flinch or move, no matter how abrupt the movement is. “At seventeen, I was…playing lacrosse. I was on the honor roll. I had a really stupid boyfriend who was at least stupidly nice, and I was applying for colleges and getting into my top choices that I couldn’t afford, and…” he looks at Derek. Finally, head on. “…did you know that? Did you know that about me, then?”

Derek breathes smoke out from between his lips. “I knew you were Stiles Stilinski and what kind of car you drove and what times of day you were typically alone in the house.”

For some reason, this, out of everything that Derek said, is what he’s stuck on. It won’t budge out of his head. Derek had told him things about murder, and stealing, and the kind of things he would do just to get his hands on a little more money, who he had to cheat out of it, who he had to hurt, where he had to go, what kind of gun he used to do it, all of it – and this. This one little thing from years ago, years ago, is what Stiles cannot let go.

“Why didn’t you do it?” Stiles asks, voice thin. “I was an easy target. Why didn’t you just do it? You said you were this close to going to prison, and I was your last option. So why?”

Derek shakes his head. Looks at the sky. At the ground. At Stiles’ eyes. “I couldn’t…make myself. Do that. You know I’ve hurt a lot of people, you know that. But not a kid. Not…not a boy in school. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Erica would’ve fucking picked you up in a heartbeat and tied you in her basement if she had any say in it, but I told her not to.”

This is another timeline altogether. A world where Derek had gone through with this is hard to imagine – but there is a timeline, because the decision was almost made. Somewhere in the multi-verse, Derek kidnapped Stiles and held him hostage and maybe Erica hurt him and maybe they killed him, and maybe…maybe who knows? It sends a chill up Stiles’ spine to think of it. He doesn’t want to think about it anymore.

Matter-of-fact, he shrugs. “You are a bad person,” he settles on, and Derek nods. He knows. He has always known. The shitty thing is, Stiles has always known it, too.

Yes, the gory and graphic details of the things he’s done in this business, for money, were startling and horrifying. Yes, Stiles is rattled by the information. Yes, he’s disturbed. Yes, it is hard for him to imagine that the Derek that touches him nicely and gives him whatever he wants is the same Derek that did all this, and he is struggling to make the connection between the two of them (like there’s Dr. Jekyll and then Mr. Hyde).

But this isn’t…really news to him. If Stiles had spent a single second of his time actually pondering what it is exactly that Derek does instead of shoving it all underneath the rug or only focusing on how sexy it is that Derek knows how to use a gun, then he would’ve figured all this out himself. He would’ve known that Derek has tortured people for money, without even needing to be told.

He would’ve known that Derek has killed people for next to no reason other than he could. He would’ve known that Derek is liar. He would’ve known. It’s not rocket science. He’s a bad person. He’s a bad guy. He does bad things. Stiles has said that in his breathy sexy voice when they’re alone with the lights low, do bad things to me please I want it you’re so bad show me how bad you are, like it was a joke.

It isn’t a joke. Derek is a criminal.

“I don’t think I’m too good of a person either,” he looks out off the balcony, frowning at himself. “I must not be.”

“You are,” Derek insists, and Stiles shakes his head.

“No.”

“Baby,” Derek reaches out and puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder, and Stiles should recoil and say don’t call me that, but he doesn’t. He stays put. He likes how Derek says it. “You don’t know the start of a bad person. You don’t even know where to begin with it. You are – you want to write about the bad you see in the world so other people will see it too. You want to help people. You were going to be a cop. You are so smart. You are so compassionate. You have empathy for – for – for animals and other people and you have friends. You’re my sun, don’t you get that?” His hand goes up to Stiles’ face, strokes, gentle and soft. Stiles doesn’t recoil, again. “I’ve never had anyone like you in my life. You are so…you can be sarcastic and you can be mean, but you don’t know what it takes to be bad. You couldn’t ever be.”

Stiles meets Derek’s eyes. He can feel himself starting to cry, but he doesn’t want to – sometimes, he just can’t help it. He is weak. Derek is right about that. “Then how come I can’t leave you?”

Derek sighs through his mouth and doesn’t have a response to that.

“How come – if I’m such a good person – I can’t get away from this? Nothing you say to me can make me stop loving you, I don’t know why,” he swipes viciously at his tears and scowls. “I don’t know why. A good person would’ve left you because of what you do, and I stayed. I stayed. Look at me. I’m – Jesus, I’m disfigured!”

“Okay,” Derek says, placating and soft.

“I just can’t stop. I can’t stop loving you. It’s not my – my fault.”

Stiles cracks completely, covering his face with his good hand to cry into it. Derek is upon him in seconds, scraping his chair across the concrete underfoot as he gets as close to Stiles as he can in the limited space afforded to him. Once he’s close enough, he’s wrapping Stiles up in his arms and holding on for dear life, shh’ing him and kissing the top of his head.

If Stiles could pull away, he would. But he can’t. He wants Derek’s comfort and he wants Derek’s arms and his skin and the way he smells and how warm he is and how he’s always there for Stiles, always, how he always says the right thing and knows just what to do, and…God. Stiles is so fucked.

“I’m done,” Derek tells him, right into his ear. “Baby, It’s done. It’s finished. No more, I’m not doing it anymore. I won’t do it to you anymore. I’m done. I promise you, I’m finished.”

Stiles clutches his fingers into Derek’s shirt and hides his face in his shoulder.

“I quit, do you understand me? We’re going to take my money and we’re going to just go. I’ll take you anywhere in the world you want to go, and you don’t have to worry about any of this anymore. We can start over.”

Pulling out of Derek’s embrace, Stiles wipes at his face and sniffles, searching Derek’s face. He finds no trace of a lie there – and Stiles has gotten very good at reading Derek’s lies. He finds only open honesty, completely boldfaced. Brave, almost.

“I lied to you too,” Stiles admits, and Derek cocks his head to the side in interest. “I – I used to think all the time. I wanted to tell you that I hate what you do. I wanted to tell you that it makes me…it makes me sad, because it makes you sad and you would get so miserable and you have a drinking problem. Okay? I said it,” he accuses, and Derek sort of looks away like he’s ashamed, but doesn’t argue it. “You have a problem and I always wanted to help you but I didn’t know how to say it, so I’d just lie. I’d lie all the time. You would drink yourself to death and then I’d just take you back to bed and I’d never even mention it. I wanted you to be done for so long. I never said anything because I’m a coward, I am. And it would make me so sad sometimes, when I…when you would go away and be doing all that stuff, and I wanted you to take me away,” he grabs at Derek’s face, his fingers pressing into his sharp jawline, holding on tight. “I wanted to run away with you so bad. Even knowing that you were out there doing what you were doing, I still wanted to find a way to be alone with you. I want to be alone with you somewhere, where no one…no one can find us. They won’t find us, please – please take me –“

“Yes,” Derek agrees quickly, grabbing at Stiles’ wrist where Stiles’ hand is still pressed against his face. He holds on, the fingers soft. “I will. If you want to go with me, then I will take you. I am so sorry for everything. I can’t even begin to say how sorry I am. I put you through it, I know I did.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees, sniffling. He’s been through it. Everything.

They finally pull away from one another. But even when they give themselves enough space, they hold hands. Clutching onto each other as the evening blue glow settles across both of their faces. There are a million reasons for Stiles to give all of this up, to give Derek up, and not a single one of them can really hold a candle to how it feels when they look into each other’s eyes.

Derek saying Stiles’ name in a dark room. The color of Derek’s eyes when sunlight hits them at just the right angle. The way Derek holds his hand, tight and sure like he’s a balloon that might fly away otherwise. The feel of Derek’s arms around him.

Is he crazy? Is he out of his mind?

“Where do you want me to take you?” He asks, using the hand that isn’t holding Stiles’ to swipe away some of Stiles’ remaining tears, the ones that are making his cheeks itch from their saltiness. “I’d suggest one of my beach houses but…there may be squid present.”

Stiles squeezes his hand tighter and shakes his head. “No more California. I want – away. I want far. I want snow. I wanna go North.”

“North,” Derek repeats, nodding his head. “I’ll take you North.”

It almost doesn’t feel real – but Derek says it so sincerely, like there’s not a single bone in his body that has any intention of backing out. They are going to pack their bags and Derek is going to take all that money, and they’re going to get on Derek’s air plane and fly away to some remote place in Canada, or Washington, or Montana, and they’re going to be alone. For the first time in as long as Stiles can remember, they will be alone together.

Without the crushing weight of Derek’s life bearing down on them any longer. It is a dream that Stiles has head, and now it is a reality, and Stiles just wants to forget everything. Like pressing erase on an old cassette tape, he wishes he could get rid of all that they have been through and begin again.

He wants the snow to cover everything in white. Hide the blood and the bodies until Stiles can bear to look at them again in the spring, and see Derek for who he is. And love him anyway.

“I want to do everything, with you,” Stiles says, quiet. They are the only two people who can hear it. The sun is gone. The night is blue. “I want you to be who I wanted you to be, at the start.”

Derek is a shadow, in the dark. “We’re done with this part, now. It’s done.”

It’s done. There is nothing left but to start over.