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Reversal of Fortune

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His first full day in his new apartment, Derek wakes up with the sun on his face. He always used to sleep too late at the loft; the window faced west, and somehow it threw off his whole day. This is nice. He could get used to this.


He rolls out of bed, throws on some crappy workout clothes, and heads out for his run.


His new apartment is located on the far side of the preserve from the old Hale house, at such a distance that even Derek’s oversensitive nose can’t catch a whiff of ash on the breeze. Birds chirp. Insects buzz. When he rounds a turn in the path, he catches sight of a mama deer and her twin fawns grazing on a patch of clover. They don’t seem to have heard him, so he stops and watches for a minute. It’s nice. Even when the mother deer raises her head, obviously having noted his presence, she doesn’t react with fear.


Since there’s no one around to ogle, Derek decides to finish his workout outside in the sun. By the time he’s ready to go home, he’s pleasantly buzzed on endorphins and vitamin D.


His apartment building smells like baked goods. When his next-door neighbor opens her door to leave as Derek’s coming in, he comments on the wonderful scent and is rewarded with a freshly iced cupcake. He thanks her profusely and eats it in three bites the second he has the door closed behind him. It’s the best thing he’s ever tasted.


The water pressure in his new shower is phenomenal, easily washing away the sweat of his workout, even from his hair, which is thick enough to pose a problem in lesser showers. And the water stays hot long past when it would’ve gone cold at the loft. Moving looks like a better decision every minute.


He still needs stuff, though, like curtains and a vacuum and a mop and all the other things that keep an apartment from looking like a condemned warehouse, so he dresses and grabs his keys off the handy hook by the front door—he likes that; he’ll never lose his keys again—and heads for Home Depot. He finds a vacuum he likes, but the only one in stock is the floor model, so he gets a 50 percent discount. The guy cutting blinds happened to miscut a set the day before, and the size is perfect, so he gets a deal on those too.


Finally Derek heads to the grocery store. All new apartments need their fridges stocked, and with the way Scott, Stiles, and Isaac eat when he has them over, he should probably buy a bunch of nonperishables too. Possibly he should buy stock in Whole Foods.


But when he gets to the grocery store, things go crazy, because the parking lot has been turned into a car wash benefitting the Beacon Hills High School lacrosse team.


Well, Derek thinks, he does have packmates on the team. The least he can do is show his support. Besides, the Toyota needs a wash. Derek sees Scott a few cars down and gives him a wave. Scott grins and smiles back.


And then


Then someone knocks on the window and Derek’s good day goes right to hell. He swallows hard and rolls down the window.


“Derek!” Stiles says brightly. He’s freckling in the sun, glistening with water and sweat, and wearing only flip-flops and a dangerously sagging pair of board shorts. There’s a thick line of dark hair leading down from his navel. Derek doesn’t look at it. “Come out to support the team?”


“Go Wildcats,” Derek says faintly. Stiles’s nose and shoulders are starting to burn.


“Cool,” Stiles says. “If you turn the engine off and hop out, we can detail the inside too.”


Derek’s car does not need detailing on the inside, because he absolutely prohibits eating of any kind and makes the pack wipe their feet before getting in, but he finds himself climbing out anyway, drawn by Stiles’s inexplicable magnetic pull.


His very good day is going to end with him getting arrested by Stiles’s father, he thinks sadly as Stiles bends over to run the vacuum over the floorboards. Fuck his life.


Then Stiles turns around and catches him staring. “You okay, dude?”


Derek says, “You should put on some more sunscreen.” He can smell the first layer under the newer scents of soap and sweat.


Stiles glances at his own shoulder and makes a surprised face. “Yeah, you’re right. Hey, can you get my back?”


Why does Derek ever open his big mouth, he wonders as they stand off to the side, a little in the shade, and Stiles wiggles his shorts down a few inches so Derek can make sure he doesn’t burn along the waistline. This isn’t fair. All Derek wanted was to restock his fridge. Now he somehow has to find the willpower to draw his thumbs away from the dimples on either side of Stiles’s spine.


“I think you’re good,” he says hoarsely after he’s coated Stiles’s back seventeen times. He definitely never once thought about rubbing a different white substance into his skin. (It was at least four times.)


“Thanks,” Stiles says, just as thickly, and suddenly Derek registers that his isn’t the only heart beating too fast. After a second, he continues, “Hey, um.”


Derek freezes before he can turn away and makes sure Stiles knows he has Derek’s full attention.


Flushing with more than just the summer heat, Stiles says, “So tomorrow’s my birthday.”


Derek needs a second to process that. It seems sort of out of the blue—


Oh. “Oh?” he says carefully.


Stiles nods. “Yeah, you know. And I thought instead of buying cigarettes or lottery tickets or going to a strip club I might do something I actually want to do.”


Derek must be dreaming, because he’s not this lucky. “And what might that be?”


“I want to take you out to dinner. On a… date.”


He’s nervous—his heart’s still beating too fast, and his fingers are twitching. But he holds Derek’s gaze anyway, and Derek…


Derek can’t say no. Doesn’t even want to. “Okay.”


Stiles blinks in surprise. “Okay, like, it’s fine that I want that? Or okay as in—”


“As in yes, Stiles, I will go on a date with you.”


Stiles smiles. It’s a big, dumb, goofy smile that probably matches Derek’s exactly. Fuck. Thank God he doesn’t have to pretend to be an alpha anymore, because he couldn’t do Grumpy Eyebrows right now to save his life.




Nodding, Derek says, “But maybe you should make it breakfast.”


“Breakf….” He sees the exact moment Stiles registers the implications. “Breakfast?” he repeats, with a slight break in his voice.


“Well, your birthday technically starts at midnight, right?”


“Are you… are you…?”


Derek’s ears heat as he realizes that might’ve come off as pushy. “I mean. Only if you want.”


Stiles runs a hand through his hair, making it stick up in sweaty clumps. Derek wants to bite the skin under his arm. “I will be over at eight. You should have snacks and movies or other distractions unless you’re willing to commit a felony.”


Derek ducks his head. “I guess I’ll see you at eight.”


He stops to give Scott a hundred bucks on his way back to the car, gets in, and leans his head back against the seat. He’s halfway down the street before he realizes he forgot to get groceries.


It doesn’t matter. It’s still the best day Derek’s ever had.