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When You're Close I Feel the Sparks

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“Whoa,” Stiles breathes, trying to keep his voice down. He jerks his chin toward the tall guy at the other end of the hallway, who’s staring down at a sheet of paper with a furrowed brow. “Who the hell is that?”

He could be a teacher, honestly, with that level of facial hair—more than Stiles will likely be able to grow in his lifetime, ever—but considering the backpack and the stack of textbooks under his arm, he’s probably a student.

“I think that’s the new kid,” Kira whispers back. “Darren. Derek. Daryl. Something like that, my dad mentioned it.”

“Is he a senior, too?” Stiles asks. “He must be, he looks like 22.”

“I think so.”

Immediately intrigued, Stiles hums. The guy is hot as hell, sure—leather jacket and glasses, Jesus, be still his poor, bisexual, beating heart—but more importantly, it must really suck being new on the first day of senior year.

“We’re adopting him,” he decides, tugging Scott and Kira by the elbow in that direction. “Let’s go.”

Stiles strides across the hall, narrowly dodging a terrified-looking pack of freshman girls, and walks right up to the guy, who looks up and seems surprised that someone’s actually talking to him.

“Hey!” He tries to pitch his voice as cheerful but not too manic. Probably a lost cause. Whatever. “You’re the new kid, right?”

“Uh, yeah.” He still looks a little wide-eyed behind those glasses, and it’s not a bad look. “Yeah, I am. I’m Derek.”

“Nice to meet you, Derek,” Stiles says, enjoying the way the name sounds coming out of his mouth. “I’m Stiles. This is Kira, and this is Scott.”

“Hi,” Derek says. He shoots them all a tight, slightly cautious smile that shows off fucking bunny teeth, and yeah, Stiles is done for. He shakes his head a little and tries to recalibrate. Helpful new friends, right.

“This is your schedule, I presume?” he asks as he tugs the piece of paper out of Derek’s hands. He doesn’t wait for Derek’s response before he starts to scan the page. “Okay, let’s see...ooh, look at all those AP courses. So you’re smart,” he says appreciatively, and Derek chuckles a little, looking down as his cheeks flush.

“I guess.”

Awesome. I could use some more competition for valedictorian. I mean, there’s Lydia, of course, and a couple of the new exchange students, apparently, though I’m not sure they should really count. But yeah, anyway, we need fresh blood.” Derek blinks at him, clearly surprised by his tangential rambling, but Stiles just barrels on. He’ll get used to it. “Looks like you’re in AP physics and calc with me, Spanish with Scott, and history with Kira. Plus, we all have the same lunch period. That’s pretty good.”

The warning bell rings right above their heads, signaling two minutes until first period, and Derek winces. “Uh, physics now, right?”

“Yep,” Stiles confirms, rocking back on his heels and jerking his chin to the left. “Other wing, so let’s book it. You need to go to your locker?”

Derek shakes his head, and Stiles just barely manages to resist grabbing him by the elbow. He should probably let the guy get used to his presence before he starts with the constant personal space invasion.

“Bye, Derek!” Kira calls out cheerfully from behind them, and Derek waves over his shoulder.

“She’s aggressively nice,” Stiles says, and Derek laughs. “It’s almost scary.”

“Good to know. What about Scott?”

“Equally nice, but in more of a puppy-dog, nonthreatening way. They’re together, obviously.”

“Obviously,” Derek repeats dryly, and Stiles gives him a look. “What about you?”

“I’m not a part of their relationship, if that’s what you’re asking,” he says, and Derek snorts.

They reach their physics classroom, which is full of students milling among the long lab tables. Stiles bites his lip. It’ll be a bit of a risk, but he’s going for it.

“You wanna be lab partners?” he whispers.

Derek eyes him, a little smirk twisted on his lips. He’s got very expressive eyebrows, and Stiles is quite pleased to see that he’s apparently got a bit of snark to him. “You sure you’re smart? What if you’re just trying to take advantage of me?”

Stiles somehow manages to swallow down his response to that and instead smirks back, bumping their elbows together. “Well, now, you’ll just have to trust me, won’t you?”

Derek mutters something under his breath that Stiles doesn’t catch. He hasn’t actually answered the lab partner question, Stiles realizes, but just then Derek grabs him by the shoulder and pushes him down into a chair at a lab table smack-dab in the middle of the room. Stiles resists the urge to smile as he pulls a notebook from his backpack.

“You know anything about the teacher?” Derek asks, leaning close, and Stiles shakes his head. He tries to remember what words are. Derek smells really good, fuck. Is it his deodorant? His shampoo? More investigation is clearly required.

“Uh, no, not really,” he says lowly. “I think she’s supposed to be good, if somewhat of a hardass. But literally anyone on planet Earth would be better than Harris in chemistry last year, so...”

Derek grimaces as he sits back in his chair, and Stiles can finally breathe. “Glad I missed it.”

The first day of school is as boring as usual—here’s the syllabus, keep up with the reading, watch out for pop quizzes, etc., etc.—and Stiles meets back up with Derek at lunchtime to lead him to their usual table.

Stiles emits a sound of envy when Derek pulls a brown paper bag from his backpack. “Oh, man, a packed lunch.”

Derek frowns a little as he takes out what seems to be a peanut butter-banana sandwich. “What, is that weird? Do people not do that here?”

“Oh no, you’re totally fine, I’m just jealous. It’s better than whatever the hell this is,” he says, poking dubiously at what he’s assuming are chicken nuggets. Seriously, how can the cafeteria mess up chicken nuggets? “I like to bring mine, when I actually remember.”

“So how was your morning, Derek?” Kira asks cheerfully, and Derek gives her another one of his tight smiles.

“Fine. Even though I’m not sure about my physics lab partner,” he says, his tone impressively dry as he tilts his head just a touch toward Stiles.

Scott and Kira laugh, and Stiles feigns a gasp. “Oh, you asshole. I’m gonna stick you with all the shitty sections of the lab reports.”

Derek snorts. “I’d like to see you try,” he says, and Stiles rolls his eyes, trying to hide how enamored he is with this guy already.

“Okay, time for your first lesson in BHHS sociology. Those are popular kids, obviously,” Stiles says, jerking his chin toward the table in the middle of the cafeteria. “The redhead is Lydia. My aforementioned competition for valedictorian. Also, student body president, prom queen, etc. She and I are actually friends, somehow, but mostly only for school stuff. The unfairly handsome guy next to her is her boyfriend, Jackson. He’s a douche, but he’s our lacrosse captain, so—”

“You guys play lacrosse?” Derek asks.

“All three of us!” Kira says.

“On the men’s team,” Scott adds, clearly proud, and Derek looks impressed.

“Wow. That’s awesome.”

“Kira’s better than me,” Stiles admits freely, and the smile Derek shoots him definitely looks fond. “What about you? You definitely look like you play sports.”

Derek looks down at his food. “Nah. I run and lift weights and stuff—”

“Obviously,” Stiles cuts in, before he can stop himself. Shit, that might have been too much. Derek doesn’t really react, though.

“But other sports aren’t really my thing,” he finishes.

“Just don’t let Finstock see you.” Stiles gestures at Derek with his fork. “He’ll get one look at those biceps, and suddenly you’ll find a lacrosse stick in your hands.”

Jeez, Stiles has got to get his mouth under control. Thankfully Isaac drops down across the table from them, next to Scott. “Whose biceps are you talking about this time?”

“Not yours,” Stiles shoots back, glaring at him. He’s still adjusting to Isaac and Scott’s sudden best-bro-ship, it’s fine. “Derek, this is Isaac and Boyd and Erica,” he says, nodding to them as they all sit down in a line, like usual. “This is Derek, he’s new.”

The three of them wave, grunt, and smirk, respectively. “Are you talking about the game on Friday?” Isaac asks.

“What game?” Derek asks, turning to Stiles just as he’s forcing down a mouthful of something dry that’s apparently masquerading as a cookie. He coughs.

“Our first lacrosse game is Friday night.” He holds his hand over his mouth to avoid spraying Derek with crumbs. “Against our biggest rival. It’s kind of a big deal.”

“You should come, Derek,” Erica says suddenly. She leans forward, resting her chin in her palm and giving him one of her slow grins. “You can sit with me while we watch these guys play.”

“Uh, okay,” Derek says. He shifts a little in his chair but doesn’t really respond to her beyond that, and Stiles feels weirdly protective. Erica’s attention can be a little overwhelming to someone who doesn’t know her.

She winks at Stiles, and he frowns. He never really knows if she’s with Boyd and/or Isaac—or neither and therefore possibly interested in Derek, because who wouldn’t be? But she nudges his foot under the table. For you, she mouths, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

The conversation has drifted off to something that happened in Derek and Scott’s Spanish class, which they share with Isaac, and Stiles tunes out, not listening to what they’re saying in favor of staring at Derek, hopefully surreptitiously.

He seems to always look a little bit guarded, a little on edge, and Stiles just wants to, like…wrap him in a blanket and give him a hug. Or something.


Back when Stiles figured out that he was probably-slash-definitely bisexual at the tender age of 16, he adopted Danny as his gay Yoda—Danny hated that nickname, it was pretty hilarious. He was helpful, though. They snuck into Jungle together, though Stiles didn’t really like the scene as much as Danny did. Somewhat-anonymous sex held zero appeal to him, it turned out. He lost his hand job virginity to Danny and had fooled around a little with a couple other guys, but that was it.

But one of the things Danny told him—along with lessons in how to correctly apply a condom and a lecture on the importance of lube—was the despair of crushing on a straight guy. I mean, you’ll do it, Danny said at the time, clapping him on the shoulder with an earnest look in his eye. But it sucks, man.

And now it looks like Stiles has his own test case. He knows better than to assume that everyone is straight, obviously, but statistically most people are straight. He hasn’t gotten any sort of vibe from Derek, either—not that Stiles is good at that sort of thing, though, at least according to Danny.

Something nudges his elbow. “Yeah,” he says loudly, snapping to attention and blinking rapidly. Derek’s frowning at him, looking a little concerned with his cute eyebrows.

Wow, if Stiles is thinking cute thoughts about Derek’s eyebrows, he really is screwed.

“The bell just rang,” Derek explains, and Stiles looks around. Sure enough, the cafeteria is a mass of humanity, with everyone bottlenecking at the three trashcans like usual—seriously, why can’t the school spring for more trashcans?

“Right.” He refocuses again and draws his attention back to Derek. “Give me your phone?”

Derek’s frown gets deeper, but he obediently shoves his hand in his pocket and drops his phone in Stiles’ hand. “Okay.”

Stiles taps away, entering his number and quickly taking a ridiculous selfie of himself to save as the contact photo. “So you have my number now,” he explains. “Text me so I have yours.”

He hands it back with a blinding smile, and Derek smiles back, if a little more hesitantly. But it’s fine—friendship by force usually works for him. It’s how he got Scott.

Derek steps over the threshold and takes a greedy deep breath, inhaling the familiar, comforting smell of home and pack. It always takes a little while for him to get used to the overwhelming crush of scents at school, and the first day is the worst.

Cora pushes past him with a huff and drops her backpack in the foyer before flouncing into the den, and he drifts after her. His mom is at the desk, typing at her laptop, but she smiles warmly at them and lowers the screen when they walk in.

“Hey, guys. How was the first day?”

Cora shrugs and yanks her phone out of her pocket as she falls down onto the couch. “Fine, I guess.”

His mom throws Derek a commiserating, exasperated look, and he gives her a little smile. Cora wasn’t talkative with him either on the drive home. “Just fine? How’s the new school?”

“Fine,” she says again, messing around on Snapchat or Instagram or whatever new app the young kids are onto now. Derek already feels old, how is that even possible? “My history teacher seems cool.”

“That’s nice to hear. What about you, Derek?”

“Classes are good. Made a friend,” he says, even though it makes him sound eight instead of 18.

“Oh, yeah?” his mom asks. Her eyes light up in surprise, and Derek can’t blame her, really. He’s not exactly known as a people person.

He nods. “He’s in a couple of my classes. Showed me around, introduced me to some people, stuff like that.”

“What’s his name?”


“Stiles who?” she asks, pretending to be casual, and Derek sighs. He deserves the suspicion, sure, but he’s looking forward to having his parents’ unconditional trust again. Someday.

“Stilinski, I think,” he says, and she hums.

“Stilinski…that’s the Sheriff’s name, if I’m remembering right. Can’t be that many Stilinskis in town.”

Derek shrugs. “Dunno.”

Their conversation is apparently scintillating enough for Cora to peel herself away from her phone. “Is he tall? Brown hair, moles?” she asks suddenly, her eyes glinting, and Derek hesitates.

“Yeah, why?”

“I overheard him talking about you outside my English room,” Cora says, and their mom frowns.

“Cora,” she admonishes, “we’ve talked about that, that’s rude.”

Cora rolls her eyes—the perfect picture of a petulant 15-year-old—but Derek freezes. His biggest fear is that Stiles was nice to him just because Derek…has grown into his looks, as his mother likes to say.

“What—what’d he say?” he asks, trying not to sound like he cares. And probably failing.

Definitely failing, if Cora’s smirk is anything to go by. She doesn’t mention it, though, because sometimes she isn’t the worst. “He just said that he bets it’s hard being new for senior year. Told some girl to be nice to you, I don’t know who. He said you were cool, for some reason, so he’s obviously not cool.”

She rolls her eyes and Derek huffs. “He’s cool,” he says lamely, defending Stiles. “He plays lacrosse.”

Whatever, Cora mouths, and he frowns at her.

“Well, he sounds very nice. You should have him over sometime, Derek,” his mom says, with that tone that suggests it’s more of a demand than a suggestion. He nods dutifully. “Time for chores. Who’s helping me in the garden, who’s helping dad in the kitchen?”

“Kitchen,” Derek answers quickly, before Cora can get a word in edgewise. He can hear a lot of people outside in the yard—Peter and his kids, at the very least—and after a full day of having to be at least marginally social, he’d rather hide out with his dad in the kitchen and avoid people for as long as possible. Cora starts to complain, but Derek doesn’t stick around for that and heads to the kitchen.

“Hey, kid,” his dad says, without turning around as Derek steps through the arched doorway to the kitchen, and Derek snorts. His dad is human, but they all swear that after so many years together, he’s absorbed some of his wife’s enhanced senses.

“Hi, dad.”

“You survive the first day?”

“Yeah,” he says, wincing. “Too many people trying too hard on the first day and wearing too much perfume and cologne.”

His dad laughs. “Yeah, well, they’ll probably stop making an effort by the end of the week.”

“God willing,” Derek mutters, as he washes his hands. “How many are we cooking for tonight?”

“Everybody,” his dad answers, and Derek grimaces. Everybody means the whole pack, and that’s a lot.

“What’s the occasion?”

His dad shrugs. “Just everyone’s first day of school, I think. Your mom’s idea.”

“Of course,” he says with a laugh. His mom’s always up for any kind of family gathering. “How can I help?”

“Finish chopping those potatoes,” he says, pointing with his knife. “And then make brownies.”

Derek nods and gets to work. His dad is great for many reasons, one of which is that he never pushes Derek to talk. They’re happy to work side-by-side in silence, and Derek works through the stack of potatoes easily. His dad is the main chef in the family, and he’s been teaching Derek ever since he was tall enough to stand on a stool and see over the counter. He loves it now, likes sequestering himself in the kitchen and working with his hands to make something that the whole family will share.

He dumps the potatoes onto the baking sheets, as instructed, and starts carefully flipping through their cookbook of family recipes to find the peanut butter brownies that are Cora’s favorite.

He’s just about done with the batter, stirring in the flour, when he hears the distinctive pitter-patter of light steps coming into the kitchen.


“Hey, squirt.” He stoops to pick up Maggie when she crashes into his legs, and she clutches at his shoulder.

“Stop calling me squirt,” she complains, squirming in his grip. “I turned six last week, remember?”

“Of course I remember, I was there.” The combined racket of two dozen five- and six-year-olds hyped up on sugar was a noise he wouldn’t soon forget. “What about Robbie, can I still call him squirt?”

Maggie’s eyes light up, as they always do when confronted with the opportunity to bug her brother. “Yeah! He’s eight minutes younger than me.”

Derek hides a smile. Yes, and she never lets any of them forget it. “So how was kindergarten?”

Super cool,” she enthuses. “Mr. Lopez is really nice, and he let me lead the whole class out to recess.”

“Wow,” he says, eyes comically wide. It’s good that someone is nurturing Maggie’s bossy side, at least.

“What’re you doing?”

“Making brownies. You wanna help?”

She nods, wrapping her arm around his neck, and Derek shifts her to a more comfortable position on his hip as he hands her a measuring cup. “Chocolate chips, please.”

He holds the big bag as she plunges the cup into it, and most of the chocolate chips actually make it into the bowl. He helps her stir the thick batter and then sets her back down so he can scrape it into the pan and put it in the oven.

“How long until we can eat them?” Maggie asks, sitting down in front of the oven once it’s safely closed.

“Not till after dinner,” Derek says, and he laughs at the anguished noise she makes in response. He swoops her up again, making her squeal, and slings her over his shoulder. “Where’s your dad?”

“Outside,” she says, tugging on Derek’s hair in an attempt to steer him in that direction. He winces.

“At your service,” he says under his breath. They run into Peter just inside the French doors, and Maggie makes a happy noise, leaning off Derek’s shoulders until Peter grabs her.

“Derek and I made brownies!” she crows, and Peter gives her an appropriately impressed look. With Maggie’s attention now firmly fixed on her father, Derek takes the opportunity to duck away.

He detours to grab his camera from the den before joining everyone in the backyard. There are various aunts and uncles and cousins out there, and he answers several rote questions about his first day of school. Once he feels satisfied with his level of interaction, he wanders further into the woods and picks up his camera, snapping random shots of the trees against the fading sky.

It’s as soothing as it always is, and Derek slowly relaxes. He loves his family, of course, more than anything, but sometimes he feels a little bit out of place. Somehow he missed out on the loud, friendly gene and ended up quiet and somewhat gruff instead. He doesn’t feel unloved or anything, far from it, but especially after the events of the past year, there’s a little distance there that he doesn’t know how to overcome.

Stiles loves lacrosse. He loves being part of the team, working hard enough that it actually makes him tired at night, and of course, actually being good at something. He and Scott both started playing in middle school, and after years of hard work, making first line at the beginning of last year is one of his biggest accomplishments.

“Stilinski!” Finstock yells. “Get your head in the game, don’t make me bench you.”

Stiles winces. Okay, he loves lacrosse as long as he isn’t busy worrying about whether or not the guy he has a crush on is in the stands. God, he’s such a cliche.

Derek said he was going to come—both when Erica asked him on Monday and then again when everyone was talking about it at lunch today—but each time Stiles sneaks a look over his shoulder to scan the stands, he doesn’t see him. And he thought he was being subtle about it, but clearly not, if Finstock noticed.

There’s only a few seconds left in their timeout, so Stiles tunes out when Finstock starts discussing a play that he knows by heart. He checks again, just one more time, and…ah-ha! He finally spots Derek, sitting near the front next to Lydia. Well, that’s—that’s definitely weird. Erica’s on his other side, though, and Stiles has a few precious seconds to worry over what they’re talking about before Finstock blows his whistle, making everyone jump.

Stop thinking about Derek, he scolds himself as he pulls his helmet back on and jogs out onto the field.

Beacon Hills wins, and Stiles is fairly pleased with himself—he played most of the game and scored two goals, got an assist on another.

The field fills with students after the game, and Stiles worms through them all, accepting random congratulations and pats on the back along the way, until he spots Derek.

“Hey,” he says, slightly breathless as he skids to a stop in front of him. “You came.”

“Of course,” he says, with a little smile. “Nice job, by the way.”

Stiles hopes his face is still flushed enough from the game to cover any possible blush. “Thanks.”

He staggers at the sudden heavy weight on his back, and he twists his head to see Danny, who plants a smacking kiss on his cheek. “Nice job, Stilinski.”

Derek stiffens a little bit, stuffing his hands in his pockets, and Stiles really hopes it isn’t because of the blatant guy-on-guy action. That would be a little bit of a problem.

“Ugh, Danny, you’re heavy,” he complains, wiggling in an attempt to dislodge him until he finally slides off. “Hey, everyone’s going to Paulie’s. You should invite Ethan.”

Danny snorts and jerks his chin toward the far side of the field, where the other team is sullenly packing up their bags. “Somehow I don’t think he’ll be in the mood to celebrate.”

“That’s why you need to cheer him up!” Stiles punches him lightly in the chest. “If you know what I mean.”

Danny rolls his eyes. “Everyone always knows what you mean.”

“Part of my charm,” Stiles says, with a shrug and a wide grin. “Hey, you know the new kid, right? Derek?”

“Yeah, hey,” Danny flashes the infamous dimples, and Derek looks impressed, as anyone should. “I don’t think we’ve ever been officially introduced, but we’re in the same English class, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” Derek says with a little nod. “Nice to meet you.”

Derek seems relaxed now, so if he’s bothered by the whole gay thing, he does a good job at hiding it. Danny moves along, grinning at the next unsuspecting person, and Stiles runs a hand through his sweaty hair.

“So he’s dating someone on the other team?” Derek asks.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, laughing. “Our biggest rival. When Jackson found out, he didn’t talk to Danny for like a week, I swear. He takes lacrosse a little too seriously.”

“You’re not, uh, dating someone on the other team, are you?”

Stiles grins. “No. Good joke, though.” Derek blinks at him for a second, clearly trying to parse that one out, then blushes when he realizes what he said. Stiles takes mercy on him and keeps talking. “We’re all going to Paulie’s, that little diner in town—you should come.”

“Uh, sure,” Derek says, with that adorable little cute smile of his, and Stiles internally fist pumps.

“Awesome. Everyone’ll probably head out in 10, 15 minutes or so. Be right back.”

Stiles gives Derek an awkward knock to the shoulder and sprints off to the locker room to shower as fast as possible, not wanting to keep Derek waiting a second longer than he has to. Part of him is definitely worried that he’ll just disappear. He ignores everyone celebrating in the shower—it is so homoerotic, sports are so weird—and pats himself dry in a hurry, grimacing as he pulls clothes on over his still-damp body.

He’s panting a little by the time he finds Derek again, sitting at the edge of the bleachers and playing with his phone, and Derek frowns up at him. “You okay? Your face is really red.”

“Oh, yeah,” he says airily, trying to surreptitiously fan himself. “Just, you know, warm.”

Scott jogs past him, and jostles Stiles’ shoulder without stopping. “Hey, buddy,” he calls out over his shoulder, “we’re taking your Jeep!”

Stiles just stands there, baffled, as he watches Scott, Kira, and Isaac hop into the Jeep and speed off.

“Do you guys share a car?” Derek asks, and Stiles shakes his head.

“No, we most certainly do not. He doesn’t have a car, though, so I gave him a key for emergencies—a decision I’m quickly beginning to regret. I’m gonna make that fucker pay for gas now, though,” he says, and Derek laughs. He tips his head in the direction of the parking lot.

“You want a ride, then?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, blowing out a breath. “Yeah, that’d be great, thanks. Sorry.”

Scott is an asshole who totally planned this—Stiles probably shouldn’t have waxed poetic about Derek’s dumb pretty face over text a couple days ago—and Stiles hasn’t decided yet whether he’s going to punch him or hug him.

He decides on hug when he sees Derek’s car.

“Whoa,” Stiles breathes, running his hand lightly over the hood. “You have a Camaro? How did I not notice that before? This is a sick car.”

“My sister and I share it, technically,” Derek admits. “But since she’s away at college…”

“Nice,” he says as he drops into the passenger seat. “Where does she go?”

“She’s a junior at Berkeley.”

“Cool. That’s, uh, where I want to go, actually,” Stiles says, stumbling a little over his words. Not many people know that.

“Me, too,” Derek says, giving him a little sideways look. “I’m actually—I’m going to visit her in a few weeks. You could come if you want, if you want to see the campus or whatever.”

Stiles’ jaw drops. “Wow, dude, really? That would be awesome.”

Derek nods and ducks his head, busying himself with turning the key in the ignition. The engine makes a glorious rumbling sound, and Stiles maybe moans a little bit.

Derek raises an eyebrow at him, and Stiles flushes, trying to think of something else to talk about, besides the fact that he might be a little turned on by the combination of Derek and his car and Derek in his car. “So, uh, do you have other siblings?”

Derek nods absently as he carefully backs out of the lot. “Yeah, Cora. She’s a freshman. What about you?”

“Nope. Only child. Can’t you tell?”

“What are only children supposed to be like?”

“Independent, high-achieving, self-motivated,” he recites, grinning broadly when Derek rolls his eyes.

“Oh, yeah?” he says dryly. “Then I’m not sure I believe the whole birth order theory.”

“Really? You seem like a typical middle child to me.”

Derek opens his mouth, then closes it again. “I’m not sure whether I should be offended by that or not,” he says finally, and Stiles laughs.

“No, dude, I totally meant it as a good thing. You’re like, chill.”

I’m like, chill,” Derek mocks, in a frankly terrible impression of Stiles’ voice, and Stiles laughs again.

“And a bit of an ass,” he admits.

“But it’s the only way to get noticed,” Derek says, pulling an exaggerated sad face.

“Oh, I’ll bet,” Stiles says, mock-serious. “How was it, growing up in between two sisters?”

“They’re both evil,” he says immediately. “I got conned into playing a lot of dress up when I was a kid. There were a lot of tea parties.”

Stiles makes a pleased noise. “At least there’s two siblings I could bribe for baby pictures.”

Derek grimaces. “I wasn’t a cute kid,” he says, and Stiles can’t hold back his huff of surprise.

“Yeah, I don’t really believe you. Clearly, the only solution is for me to see the pictures.”

Derek rolls his eyes, and Stiles laughs at him for the rest of the drive to the diner.

The lacrosse team has commandeered several booths in the back corner, and Stiles nods at Danny, who’s sitting with Ethan, Lydia, and Jackson. Jackson attempts to trip him on his way by, and Stiles responds by kicking his shin. “Stilinski. You didn’t completely suck tonight.”

“More goals than you,” he counters, and Jackson makes a face. “Oh by the way, do you know Derek?”

Jackson frowns and gives Derek a little considering glance, probably pissed that he’s no longer the most handsome guy at Beacon Hills High. “No, I—”

“Good,” Stiles interrupts, grabbing Derek by the elbow to steer him away. “He’s too nice for you.”

Derek chuckles as they head toward the next booth, which already has Scott, Kira, and Isaac squeezed into one side. “He’s charming.”

“He’s kind of an ass, but he’s harmless, really. It’s mostly just habit now, the two of us bitching at each other.”

Stiles follows Derek into the empty side of the booth, and he shoots Scott a glare and a pointed nudge under the table for ditching him. Scott just gives him that floppy grin, though, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

You’re welcome, Scott mouths.

Fuck off, Stiles mouths back.

“Hello, losers,” Erica announces as she strides up to their table and sits next to Stiles. It’s a tight fit when Boyd slides in after her, but Stiles doesn’t exactly complain about being pressed up fully against Derek.

“Sorry,” Stiles whispers to him, now squished up against the wall, but Derek shrugs and doesn’t seem to mind.

“You’re wel-come,” Erica sing-songs softly in his ear, but Stiles just glares at her, too, and doesn’t dignify that with a response. Is his crush that obvious? Did everyone take a vote and decide to gang up on him?

Not that he’s complaining. Right now, at least. Derek’s thigh feels solid where it’s pressed up against Stiles’, and basically his entire attention span has narrowed down to all the places that they’re touching. They’re about the same height, which means their shoulders line up perfectly, and Stiles has to forcibly keep himself from leaning into the heat of Derek’s body.

“So what brings you to Beacon Hills, Derek?” Scott asks after they order, and Stiles perks up. Somehow, that hasn’t yet been a topic of conversation.

Derek tugs his water glass closer and takes a long sip before shrugging carefully. “I grew up in Beacon Hills, actually. We moved to the San Diego area before I started high school, for my dad’s job. Then my parents decided they wanted to move back.”

“Right before senior year,” Kira says with a wince. “That’s rough.”

Derek shrugs again, his thigh shifting against Stiles’. “It’s fine. My sister is starting high school now, so it’s a good time for her.”

The waiter stops by with their food then, interrupting Stiles before he can ask more prying questions.

Stiles: Dude, this calc problem set is gonna be the death. Of. Me. *grimacing emoji*

Derek: Yeah, seriously. Is this stuff even in the book?

Stiles: No, I’m pretty sure she just made it up.

Derek: We could work on it together?

Stiles: YES PLEASE. *raised hands emoji*

Stiles: Tomorrow after school? I don’t have lax practice, for once. We can go to my house.

Derek: That's good.

Stiles: Awesome.

Stiles: (Also. Up your emoji game, man. Come on.)

Derek: *angry face emoji*

Stiles: *thumbs up emoji*

Derek snorts and slides his phone back in his pocket. He always at least tries to obey the no-phones-at-the-dinner-table rule, and even when he fails, he’s better than Cora.

“What’s so funny?” his mom asks, and Derek shakes his head.

“Just texting with Stiles. Is it okay if I go over to his house after school tomorrow to work on calculus?”

His mom frowns for a second, and Derek tries to keep his expression as neutral as possible. “Yes, of course,” she says finally, her face softening. “Just let me know if you’re staying there for dinner, okay?”

“Welcome to casa de Stilinski,” Stiles announces, holding the door open with a flourish, and Derek snorts as he walks by him. It’s smaller than his own house, for sure, but it’s neat and homey, clearly lived-in with a relaxed feel. “Or as I like to call it, the bachelor pad.”

Derek frowns. “What about your—”

He cuts himself off awkwardly when Stiles winces. Well, shit.

“Yeah.” He toys with the strap of his backpack as he carefully closes and locks the front door. “My, uh, my mom passed away, a while ago.”

Double shit. Derek feels like a total dick. “That really sucks,” he offers. “I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“It’s okay,” Stiles says. He smiles, but it looks forced. “You didn’t know. C’mon, we can spread out our stuff at the kitchen table.”

They work for a little while, making frustratingly incremental progress, until Stiles groans and shakes his head. “Okay,” he says, pushing back from the table. “I need brain fuel. Study snacks?”

Derek snorts. “We’ve only been at it for 15 minutes.”

“Fine, Mr. Smarty Pants,” Stiles says, flicking an eraser at Derek that he neatly dodges. “See if I share my snacks with you now.”

Derek drops his pencil and stretches. “What do you have?”

Stiles hums and squats down in front of the kitchen sink, oddly. He leans forward to rustle through the cabinet, behind a stack of paper towels, and Derek tilts his head as the motion makes Stiles’ shirt ride up, revealing a strip of skin and the black band of his boxers. “Uh, your standard plethora of unhealthy snacks that I have to hide from my dad,” he says as he turns around, and Derek jerks, averting his eyes. “Sunchips, Pop-Tarts, Oreos.”

“I could go for a Pop-Tart,” Derek admits, and Stiles nods solemnly.

“Solid choice, my man, solid choice,” he says, then stills as he reaches back into the cabinet. “Unless you’re one of those heathens who only likes strawberry or something.”

Derek pulls a face. “S’mores is the only acceptable flavor.”

“Dude,” Stiles exclaims as he shows him the box. “Same, it’s fate.”

He rips open a package and pops both pastries—though that’s a real stretch of the word, to be honest—into the toaster. Derek spots paperwork on the counter next to him, emblazoned with the logo of Beacon County, and the dots connect in his head.

“Your dad’s the Sheriff, right?”

Stiles snorts. “Yeah. Did kids at school warn you?”

“What? No,” Derek says, confused. “My mom recognized your last name.”

“So it doesn’t bother you?” he asks, and Derek frowns.

“Why would that bother me?”

Stiles shrugs and plucks the Pop-Tarts out of the toaster, sucking briefly at his fingertips after he drops them on a large plate. “Kids can be dicks about it. Think I’m a narc or whatever.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “High school kids are dumb.”

You’re a high school kid,” Stiles says. He rejoins Derek at the table and sets the plate between them.

“Yeah, well, I’m not dumb,” he retorts. Not dumb anymore, at least.

“Good comeback,” Stiles says, with an overwrought wink, and Derek rolls his eyes. “But no, it’s cool. My dad’s the fuckin’ best, I don’t care if it makes me unpopular.”

Derek frowns as he takes a bite of his Pop-Tart. He doesn’t yet have a full grasp of the Beacon Hills High social strata, but he knows that Stiles isn’t unpopular. He says as much, and Stiles shrugs.

“I guess. But Scott and I were nobodies until we got good at lacrosse. And even now it’s—I mean, I like lacrosse and all, but it’s not like my entire life revolves around who scored the most goals against Riverside and who scored the most chicks at Jackson’s party, you know? It’s like…I just want to shake them all and yell this doesn’t matter. And…sorry.” Stiles winces and mimes zipping his lips shut. “You really didn’t need such a deep dive into my psyche, I’m sure.”

“No, no, I get it.”

Stiles snorts and gives Derek a very pointed once-over. “Like you’ve ever had to worry about being popular.”

Derek flushes all the way up to his hairline and ignores that part. “I—I agree with you, that all that shit doesn’t matter.”

Stiles tilts his head and gives him a considering look. He opens his mouth to say something, but they’re interrupted by the front door. Derek didn’t even hear the car pulling up, Jesus.

The Sheriff walks in, in his full uniform, and drops a hand on Stiles’ shoulder. He’s looks stern but also kind, and he instantly reminds Derek of his mother.

“Hey, son,” he says, then narrows his eyes just a bit as he looks at Derek. “Hello.”

“Dad, this is Derek Hale,” Stiles says absently, his eyes still on the paper in front of him. “The new kid.”

“Nice to meet you, Sheriff,” Derek says. He stands and holds out his hand, and Stiles laughs.

“Oh my god a handshake,” he says. “My dad is going to love you.”

Derek flushes, and the Sheriff scowls at Stiles as they shake hands. “And what’s wrong with appreciating people with manners, huh?” he says to his son, then turns back to Derek. “Nice to meet you, as well, Derek. I take it my son has forced his friendship on you?”

Da-aad,” Stiles whines, rubbing at the back of his neck as he drops his head. “Seriously? Come on.”

Derek laughs. “I was worried about being new for senior year, but Stiles seems to have it taken care of.”

“People are lucky to be friends with me,” he mutters. He looks down at his textbook again, and Derek taps his foot with his own under the table. Stiles shoots him a tiny smile, and Derek returns it.

“I know,” his dad says fondly, ruffling Stiles’ hair. “I’m gonna go nap for a little bit before dinner. I might have to go out again later.”

Stiles frowns. “Again?”

“Jake’s on paternity leave, remember? I’m gonna have some extra shifts over the next few weeks. Have fun, guys, good luck with the homework. And if you go upstairs, be sure to leave the door open,” he says, and Stiles winces.

“Oh my god, Dad, seriously,” he groans, but his dad just smirks at him and heads for the stairs. Stiles grumbles to himself and stares intently at their problem set. “Sorry ‘bout that. Telling him I was bi was an awful idea. Now he doesn’t trust me with anyone, ever.”

He has a tentative look in his eye, as if he’s not sure how Derek will react, and he racks his brain for something reassuring to say that isn’t I might be bi, too. “My sister didn’t tell our parents that she was a lesbian until she was 17. She had sleepovers,” he says, grimacing, “with her girlfriend all the time before then.”

Stiles cracks up. “Oh, man, that is positively genius. I can’t lie worth shit, though, so that probably wouldn’t have worked for me. Plus, you know,” he says, jerking his head toward the stairs, “the sheriff. Built-in lie detector.”

“Believe me, Laura is a very good liar,” Derek says with a snort. Talk about built-in lie detectors. He’s actually a little terrified of her. “Alarmingly good.”

They get back to calculus and after a couple hours, have managed to work through most of the problem set.

Stiles shoves his textbook aside and drops his head, resting his cheek against the table. “I don’t think I can go on,” he says plaintively, closing his eyes, and Derek laughs.

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Oh, yes, it was,” Stiles counters. “I need a break before we finish. TV?”

Derek nods. “Sure.”

They move to the living room, and Derek goes to sit down on the couch when he notices a large woven basket, filled with what looks like yarn, on one of the cushions. With one eyebrow quirked, he turns to Stiles, who flushes.

“Oh. It’s embarrassing.”

“I’m sure it’s not,” Derek assures him.

Stiles scratches at the back of his neck. “I, uh, I knit? Sometimes? It’s weird, I know.”

“That’s not weird,” he says, shrugging. He’s a fucking werewolf, it takes a lot for him to find something weird. “How’d you get into it?”

“My mom liked to knit,” Stiles starts, and Derek winces. He opens his mouth to say that Stiles doesn’t have to talk about it, but Stiles waves him off. “I had to go to therapy after she died. Anxiety, ADD, the whole shebang, and the therapist recommended that I try knitting. It calms me down because it’s repetitive, it gives me something to do with my hands when the ADD is bad, and it gives me a connection to my mom. Triple whammy, I guess. It really works, though.”

“Wow,” Derek says, impressed. He pokes through the basket. The yarn is soft, even against his sensitive skin, and there’s a lot of it. “That’s so cool. What do you do with it all?”

Stiles shrugs. “Gifts, mostly. Please expect a hat for Christmas.”

“Looking forward to it,” Derek says seriously. He comes across a tiny hat and snorts, holding it out to Stiles. “I’m not sure this one’ll fit.”

He smiles. “Yeah, sometimes I make hats and blankets for the babies down in the NICU.”

Derek inhales sharply and looks at the hat again. It fits neatly in the palm of his hand. “Jesus.”

“I know, right,” Stiles says, carefully picking up the hat and spinning it on one finger. “Okay, this is depressing. TV? What d’you wanna watch?”

Derek shrugs. “Don’t care.”

Stiles flips channels until he lands on a random sitcom. He chuckles at a dumb joke along with the laugh track, idly chewing at his thumbnail, but Derek is too preoccupied with their position to pay much attention. The couch isn’t small, but there’s only about three inches of space between them. Who sat down last? Derek can’t remember, shit.

He’s a little…startled about his feelings for Stiles. He was not expecting to have a crush on anyone anytime soon, but the other day he found himself staring at Stiles, thinking about how pleasant his laugh is and wondering if his lips would feel as nice as they look.

And at the moment, he wants nothing more than to slide over those three inches and stick his nose in Stiles’ neck—he smells really good. Which is weird. And decidedly not friendly behavior, so Derek should probably get a handle on this whole thing before it spirals out of control. He could really use a friend right now, and he doesn’t want to do anything to screw that up.

Stiles’ stomach makes an audible rumble, and he winces when Derek laughs. “Well, time for dinner, I guess. You wanna stay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“You might regret that once you hear what we’re having,” he says, and Derek narrows his eyes.

“Try me.”

“Turkey burgers, whole grain buns, broccoli, sweet potato fries,” he recites, then lifts his eyebrows in challenge.

Derek shrugs. “Fine by me. Are you the chef in the house?”

“We take turns, with mostly easy stuff. Dad has high cholesterol, though, so I try to keep his diet under control. I’d like to do more, but my abilities are pretty limited.”

Derek clears his throat. “I, uh, cook some. I could show you some stuff, if you want.”

Stiles’ eyes light up, and Derek swears he can feel it warming his chest. Shit.

“Yeah,” he says, his smile soft. “That’d be great.”

“Fuck, you’re so hot,” Derek mumbles against his lips, pressing him up against the closed door in Stiles’ bedroom. Stiles tries to say likewise in response, but it’s difficult to get the words out when Derek is so thoroughly devouring his mouth, not to mention robbing him of the ability to even think.

Stiles just groans instead and pushes harder against Derek, shifting his hips so that they’re pressed fully together. Derek slides his hand, torturously slow, from Stiles’ neck down to the waistband of his pants. He pauses there, and Stiles flails in his strong grip, biting Derek’s lower lip in retaliation. Derek laughs and finally slips his hand down that blessed inch, squeezing, and—

Stiles jerks into full consciousness and muffles a whimper into his pillow, thrusting mindlessly against the mattress. Holy shit.

He gasps, trying to orient himself to what’s actually real. His brain is pissed—that Derek’s not here, pressing him into the wall, or at the very least that he didn’t get farther in his dream—but his body is hopelessly turned on. He’s a healthy 18-year-old who therefore wakes up hard just about every day, but normally he can at least wait until he gets in the shower. Not today.

“Fuck,” Stiles hisses, worming his hand into his boxers. It should be too dry to really be comfortable, but one, he’s leaking like a faucet, and two, he doesn’t think this is going to take very long, anyway. His dick is almost painfully sensitive, and he shivers down to his toes when he swipes his thumb over the head.

Everything is hazy and warm under the blankets, and it’s easy to put himself back into the dream, so easy to imagine Derek yanking at his zipper, curving a broad hand around his dick, or maybe even dropping to his knees and—

Stiles groans as he comes, curling inward and managing to catch it all in his hand to avoid messing up the sheets. He shoves the comforter down with a harsh exhale, shivering when the cool air hits his overheated skin.

His crush on Derek is officially overwhelming. He just likes the guy, so damn much, and after today, it’s probably going to get so much worse. They’re going to the lake, along with Scott, Kira, Lydia, and Jackson, which means that Stiles is going to see Derek shirtless.

It’ll be fine, he tells himself.

Stiles is not fine.

He’s put a lot of brainpower over the past couple weeks into imagining what Derek looks like shirtless, but the reality is even better than his dreams, which isn’t exactly supposed to happen, he doesn’t think. Derek has abs, like a lot of them, and a very nice light layer of chest hair that Stiles just wants to rub his face against. That’s probably weird.

It’s distracting enough that he barely even notices Lydia in her bikini—his crush on her might have faded over the past few years, as they became actual friends, but he still has eyes—and intimidating enough that he hesitates before taking off his own shirt.

He’s decently ripped, he thinks, thanks to lacrosse, and his shoulders are broad, but he’s still a little gangly and definitely paler than Derek, with far less impressive chest hair. But Stiles finally just does it, taking a deep breath and stripping off his shirt, and at least Derek doesn’t run screaming or anything.

“Nice tan, Stilinski,” Jackson calls out, already in the water up to his chest, and Derek sidles closer to him, doing something under the water that makes Jackson fall over with a sputter and a splash.

Everyone’s laughing, even Lydia under her wide-brimmed hat, and Stiles doesn’t think before he’s splashing through the water and plastering himself onto Derek’s back. “My hero,” he croons, and Derek laughs as he hooks his hands around the back of Stiles’ knees.

He moves to slide off, but Derek’s hands spasm a little bit, as if…as if he’s maybe not too uncomfortable with their current position. So Stiles takes a chance and passes it off as shifting his weight, hopefully, and slumps more against Derek. He holds his breath, anxious, but Derek doesn’t react at all as he continues talking with Scott. Stiles exhales carefully and tries to be still.

“Hale!” Jackson yells. “Race, let’s go.”

Derek tips Stiles off his back without a second thought. He sputters indignantly and resurfaces with a flailing splash, but Derek’s already taken off after Jackson.

“Jerk,” Stiles mutters, wading out further. Scott and Kira are heading for the shallows, probably to make out or something, so Stiles swims to the floating dock a little farther out. Lydia watches him climb up gracelessly and gestures for him to sit next to her.

“I think he’s competing for your affections,” she says, and Stiles grimaces.

“Oh my god, shut up,” he hisses, hoping that the sun is a decent cover for his sudden flush. “Don’t jinx it.”

She laughs and scoots over to give him some space under the umbrella.

Derek seems to enjoy needling Jackson, much to Stiles’ delight, and after he’s thoroughly proved that he’s a faster swimmer, Derek hauls himself up and leans his weight on his forearms on the dock, his legs dangling. The movement makes the muscles in his shoulders bunch very nicely, and Stiles lets himself stare for just a second.

“Don’t move,” he warns, and Derek freezes. Stiles turns around and backs toward the edge of the dock, his heels almost bumping up against Derek’s folded arms.

He takes a deep breath and flings himself up and back, back-flipping into the water and landing behind Derek with a vicious splash.

“That’s pretty cool,” Derek admits, and Stiles grins, scrubbing his hair out of his face.

“Been practicing that move since I was 10.”

“Okay, let me try,” Derek says, and Stiles hangs back to enjoy the view of Derek’s clingy swim trunks as he climbs up onto the dock.

“Lydia!” he calls out. “Tell us who has a prettier back flip.”

“I don’t really care about your courtship rituals,” she says with a smirk, and Stiles rolls his eyes, ducking down under the water for a second to avoid making eye contact with Derek.

Derek tries to argue that his back flips are better because he can make a bigger splash, but he loses steam after Stiles points out loftily that size doesn’t matter, Derek. After about 10 flips, he’s feeling a little dizzy and staggers over to Lydia again.

“Good to know you can show off, too,” she says under her breath. “You guys are like chimps. Next thing I know, you’ll just be presenting your asses to each other.”

Derek trips, falling off the other side of the dock, and Stiles snorts as he crawls over to make sure he didn’t hit his head or anything.

Scott produces a Frisbee, and after a couple hours of a viciously competitive game, Stiles hauls himself back onto the dock with a wince. It’s well past the time to reapply sunscreen, and since he can feel his skin tightening, he should probably sit under the umbrella for a little while.

It’s cozy, even against the rough boards of the deck, and Stiles almost dozes off, so relaxed that he shrieks—he’d like to pretend otherwise, but it was definitely a shriek—when a wave of cold water lands on his stomach.

“Jesus Christ,” he says, clutching at his chest as he rolls over on his side to face the water. “You are quiet.”

Derek grins up at him, looking weirdly proud, and Stiles’ breath quite literally catches in his throat as the sun highlights all the different colors in his eyes. Goddamn, he’s sappy.

Derek jerks his head toward the shore, where everyone else has gathered. “Everyone’s hungry,” he says. Stiles groans and rolls off the platform, slipping into the water.

“Ugh, ‘m tired,” he mumbles, sliding both hands through his hair, and Derek drifts closer, turning around.

“Then hop on.”

What the fuck, Stiles mouths, grateful that Derek can’t see him grinning like a loon. But he obeys, hooking both arms over Derek’s shoulders and loosely wrapping his legs around his waist. He dares to rest his head against Derek’s hair, cool under his cheek, and just hangs on as he swims back to shore.

“It’s so early,” Stiles whines, pressing his face against the window, and Derek rolls his eyes as he backs out of the Stilinskis’ driveway. Stiles looks ridiculous, sprawled out in the passenger seat and hiding in his hoodie, and Derek is screwed because he thinks it’s cute.

“It’s basically the same time as we would get up for school.”

“Yeah, and today is a day off,” Stiles retorts. “Which means I shouldn’t even think about being awake right now.”

“I can take you back home,” Derek says mildly, and Stiles winces.

“No, sorry,” he says quickly. “I’m just tired. I didn’t sleep that well last night, and then my dad drank all the coffee this morning. I’m really glad you invited me, this is gonna be awesome.”

Derek isn’t sure why he invited Stiles to go visit Laura with him, practically just after they met, but now that they’re actually friends, he’s glad that he did. Stiles is his closest friend at school, probably, and he’s trying to focus on that instead of on his growing crush.

But as he swings by Starbucks on the way to the highway and enjoys Stiles’ noise of gratitude a little too much, he doesn’t think he’s doing a very good job.

“You’re the best,” Stiles says under his breath, and he perks up considerably once they’ve been through the drive-through, coffee and muffins in hand.

The caffeine was perhaps not the best idea for being trapped in a car with Stiles, who sings along with the radio—loudly—and flips stations every four seconds.

“Ooh,” he says delightedly as he stops on one station and starts to sing along. “In touch with the ground, I’m on the hunt down I’m after youuuuuu.”

Oh, god.

“This is a dumb song,” Derek grumbles as he reaches for the radio, but Stiles slaps his hand away before he can touch the dial.

“Dude!” he exclaims. “What the hell. Do you have something against Duran Duran?”

“It’s just a dumb song,” he repeats, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Stop being ridiculous. This is an awesome song. My mom loved Duran Duran,” he says, humming the tune. “C’mon, you gotta know the song, everyone knows this song.”

“I know the song,” Derek says with a sigh.

And I’m hun-gry like the wollllllf,” he sings, even louder than before, and despite Derek’s attempts to contain it, his mouth twitches into the tiniest smile. Stiles spots it, though, and grins.

They fight over the radio for the rest of the two-hour drive, and by the time they find a parking spot at Berkeley, Derek’s stomach hurts from laughing.

“You had fun,” Stiles accuses, hooking an arm around Derek’s neck as they walk to meet Laura. “Don’t even deny it, I saw your grumpy face smiling.”

“Shut up,” he mutters, shaking his arm off. He can spot Laura wading through the crowd toward them, and she’s going to give him so much shit about Stiles, he can tell.

Laura jumps into his arms from about three feet away, confident that he’s going to catch her, and he wraps his arms around her gratefully, taking in her familiar scent. It’s only been about a month since he’s seen her, and even though they talk just about every day, it’s not the same as being with her.

“Missed you, bro.” She plants a smacking kiss on his cheek before she lets herself down.

“Missed you, too. This is Stiles,” Derek says, gesturing, and Stiles grins at Laura, his hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Hey. Thanks for letting me crash your brother-sister weekend.”

“You’ll keep us from killing each other,” Laura says cheerfully, and Stiles’ eyes go a little wide.

“You—you guys seem to get along pretty well.”

Laura smirks. “Yeah, well, the claws haven’t come out yet.”

She winks at Derek, and he rolls his eyes as Stiles laughs. “So where are we going, oh wise one? My future is in your capable hands.”

“Classes first. Anthropology and sociology,” she says, and Stiles’ eyes light up.

“Awesome. Those are your majors, right? That’s what Derek said, anyway. How’d you decide?”

There’s nothing Laura loves more than being an authority on something, and Derek trails behind them as they chatter away wildly about different majors and professors.

Stiles is looking a little star-struck by the time they get to the lecture hall, and Derek is stupidly, irrationally jealous. He cannot cope with the guy he has a crush on also crushing on his sister. Just…no.

“You’re not allowed to have a crush on my sister,” he leans over to say under his breath, and Stiles flails.

“No, dude, no.” Stiles makes a face. “Just…no.”

Derek frowns. “So she isn’t good enough for you?”

“Oh my god,” he wails, covering his face with his hands, and Derek smirks. “Your sister is very attractive,” he whispers, still hiding behind his hands, “and is undoubtably a catch. But no crush, I swear.”

His heartbeat is steady—no lie.

“Okay,” Derek says, satisfied.

Stiles has way too much fun in the two classes they sit in on, and Laura has to practically sit on his hands so that he doesn’t contribute to the conversation.

Afterward, Stiles professes a need for more caffeine, and he insists on getting drinks for all of them as a thank you. Derek stands with Laura off to the side and idly watches him worm his way through a line of people at the coffee cart.

“Thanks for having both of us,” Derek says to her. “Really.”

“You know I’m always happy to have you visit. Plus, I had to check out your little crush,” she says, grinning widely, and Derek turns to gape at her. There’s no point in denying it—she’s the good liar in the family, not him.

“How’d you know?” he says instead, sighing, and Laura snorts.

“I do talk to Cora, you know. And Mom. They say you won’t shut up about him.”

“Damn it,” Derek whines, and she laughs, wrapping an arm around his waist just a little too tightly.

“Don’t worry. I won’t embarrass you—much. He’s cute.”

Derek sighs again and leans against her just a bit. “I’m kinda still trying to deal with it. It’s surprising.”

“What, why? Cause he’s a guy?”

Derek frowns. “Not really. I just…wasn’t exactly expecting it. You know.”

Laura’s eyes soften. She opens her mouth to say something in response, but they’re interrupted by Stiles, walking carefully as he balances three drinks in his hands.

“An iced latte for the lovely lady, and a mocha for Derek. For his secret sweet tooth,” he says with a wink, and Laura bursts out laughing.

Derek frowns down at his drink. “How’d you know that?”

Stiles taps his temple, grinning. “I pay attention.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about your crush being unrequited,” Laura says, too soft for Stiles to hear, and Derek flushes.

Laura disappears in the afternoon to work on a group project, and Derek and Stiles wander the campus. They meet back up for a late dinner, and Laura offers to take them to a party.

“Like a frat party?” Stiles asks, and Laura wrinkles her nose.

“No, frat parties are lame. Are you interested in pledging a frat?”

Stiles shakes his head. “Nah, not really. I think I’m getting my fair share of lax bros in high school, that’s plenty.”

“You are a lax bro,” Derek points out, and Stiles gasps, pretending to be offended.

“I am not, you take that back.”

“You are literally wearing a backward snapback right now.”

Stiles pouts, his shoulders slumping as he sheepishly turns his hat around.

The party’s at a sprawling, somewhat-rundown house just off campus, with music and people spilling out of it.

“Do not embarrass me,” Laura says lowly, pointing at each of them in turn. “And if anyone asks, I don’t know you.”

“No falling-down drunk, got it,” Stiles says, with a mock-salute, and Laura snorts.

“Yeah, like I’m gonna give the Sheriff’s kid alcohol. No drinking allowed, I’m serious. I’ll know if you do.”

Stiles looks appropriately terrified. “I don’t know how she would know,” he whispers, once Laura flounces away. “But I believe her.”

Derek smirks. Laura could smell a drop of alcohol on Stiles from 10 yards away, and he almost wants Stiles to drink just to see what she’d do. He’s not actually that cruel, though, so he just shoves Stiles in the direction of the front door.

It’s overwhelming inside, loud and full of unpleasant scents. Derek can just about keep track of Stiles’ familiar heartbeat, if he tries, and he tries to focus on that to keep himself steadied.

The music is loudest in the living room, where there’s a crush of people dancing, and Stiles stops right in the middle of them, suddenly enough that Derek runs right into his back. He starts wiggling his hips to the beat, and Derek winces.

Oh, dear. He definitely can’t do this without getting hard.

He lets his hands linger on Stiles’ hips for a few extra seconds as he forcibly separates them and keeps them moving toward the kitchen. He keeps a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, under the guise of staying with him as they worm through the crowd.

“Just leaving me hanging like that? Harsh, dude,” Stiles says, even though he isn’t resisting.

“The music sucks,” he says, which isn’t a lie.

The drinks are in the kitchen, as he expected, and even though they aren’t drinking, Derek would really appreciate having something to hold in his hands so he isn’t tempted to do anything dumb like hold Stiles’ hand. There’s a row of soda bottles on the back counter, so Derek grabs two red cups and heads in that direction. Someone bumps against his side in what seems like a purposeful manner, and he looks over.

“Hi.” It’s a girl, blonde and very pretty with thick curly hair spilling over her shoulder. She smiles at him, her eyes bright, but Derek just gives her a tight smile in response and averts his gaze, focusing on pouring. She gets the message, he thinks, because the weight moves away after a second.

Another body quickly replaces her, but Derek recognizes this one.

Dude,” Stiles hisses, elbowing Derek right in the ribs. “You could totally hook up with a college girl.”

Derek winces. “Yeah, I’d really…rather not.” Do that again, at least.

“Why not?” Stiles asks plainly, and Derek shrugs, frowning.

“Don’t wanna ditch you.”

“S’cool, I’ll be your wingman.”

Derek rolls his eyes and thrusts a cup of Coke into Stiles’ chest, holding it there until Stiles’ hand comes up to grab it, his fingers brushing against Derek’s. “I just said I didn’t wanna hook up with anyone.”

Stiles shakes his head, wagging his finger at the same time. “Common misconception. Wingmen—wait, that sounds weird. Wingmans?” Derek lifts his eyebrows, telegraphing his utter lack of an opinion. Stiles rolls his eyes and keeps going. “Anyway. People who wingman are just helpful in general. You don’t wanna hook up with anyone, I’ll keep people away from you.”

Derek snorts and searches in vain for a place to stand where they won’t be pressed together by the crush of people. “You think that deserves its own job title?”

Stiles doesn’t seem to mind the crowd and stops in a random hallway, leaning against the wall. “Have you seen you?” he asks, his face twisted up in a scoff. “I should have brought caution tape or something. Or like, one of those please don’t touch the art signs like in a museum.” He gestures, nearly sloshing his drink onto the floor. “You know, hung around your neck on a chain.”

Thank goodness it’s dark in here because it hides Derek’s blush. You need your own sign, is what he wants to say. “Stop being ridiculous,” is what he says instead. “What about you?” he forces himself to say. “I’m sure you could find a girl. Or a guy.”

Stiles shakes his head, gnawing on the rim of the cup. “Nah. Casual sex’s not my thing, found that out already. I—man, that makes me sound like a slut. Not that being a slut is a bad thing!” he yelps. He winces and covers his eyes with his hand, slumping further against the wall. “Shit.”

Derek laughs. “Relax.”

The needy, curious part of him wants to press and ask questions about every aspect of Stiles’ sexual history, but he manages to restrain himself.

“So,” Stiles says, looking around pointedly with his eyebrows raised. “This is a college party.”

“Lots of loud, drunk people,” Derek agrees. “Not much different than a high school party.”

Stiles sighs. “Yeah.”

“Are you disappointed?” Derek asks, laughing, and Stiles shakes his head with a little grin.

“Nah, I’ve so far managed to resist being swayed by pop culture telling me that college parties are the pinnacle of sexual expression and depravity. C’mon, let’s go outside,” he says, jerking his head. “It’s really loud in here.”

Thank god. “Lead the way.”

They end up stretched out on the grass in the backyard, and Derek wiggles his hips to slide his phone out of his pocket. The trees are different here, and he wants to capture it.

As he frames the photo carefully, Stiles leans over, his chin almost resting on Derek’s shoulder. “Whatcha doing?”

“Taking a picture,” he says dryly, and Stiles groans, the noise vibrating through Derek’s chest.

“No shit. You like photography or something?”

“Yeah,” Derek says, surprised that he’s never told Stiles. “Kind of a lot, actually.”

Stiles hums and doesn’t move from where he’s rolled closer. “That’s awesome. You must have a nicer camera, though, better than your phone.”

“Yeah.” He takes a couple more shots so he doesn’t have to look at Stiles. “But the best camera is the one that’s with you.”

Stiles snorts and finally rolls back, out of Derek’s space. “Deep, Hale.”

Laura finds them a while later and stands over them, her hands on her hips. “Are you guys high?”

Derek shakes his head, but Stiles holds out his thumb and index finger, about an inch apart. “Just a lil’ bit, from those people smoking over there.”

She sighs, but she looks fond as she steps back and jerks her head. “C’mon, this party is lame. Let’s go.”

Derek hops to his feet and stretches a hand down to Stiles, hauling him up easily. “Whoa,” Stiles says, crashing against Derek’s chest and bracing a hand against his shoulder for balance. “You’re strong.”

He winces—way to keep the super-strength under wraps.

They walk back to Laura’s on-campus apartment, which she shares with three other girls. “My roommate is kindly spending the night with her boyfriend,” she says quietly, presumably because the door to the second bedroom is already closed, “so you guys can share her bed. The futon is shit, sorry.”

“That’s cool,” Stiles says with a shrug. He rifles through his duffel bag and disappears into the bathroom.

Derek turns to Laura, who’s grinning. “Seriously?” he says lowly. “Sharing a bed?”

“What did you expect? And do not have sex with him, Derek, I swear to god. I will never forgive you.”

He sputters. “I’m classier than that,” he says finally, and she rolls her eyes.

“Let’s hope so.”

Sharing a twin bed with Stiles isn’t the easiest—neither of them are exactly small, and they keep bumping elbows and shoulders as they both flip around and try to get comfortable.

“Sorry, dude,” Stiles says lowly, laughter coloring his voice as they bump hips again. Derek sighs, trying to sound put-upon as he accidentally jabs Stiles in the ribs with his elbow. Stiles laughs again, apparently ticklish, and retaliates with a knee to Derek’s thigh.

Laura’s sigh is loud from the other side of the room. “Could you two please stop flirting? Just fucking cuddle or whatever, I don’t care, just go to sleep.”

Derek’s face burns in the dark, and he breathes carefully, pointedly not looking over at Stiles.

“I’d let you be the little spoon,” Stiles whispers, still loud enough for Laura to hear, and Derek snorts.

“My shoulders are broader.”

“Oh my god, are you serious? No fucking way. My—”

“Stop it!” Laura yells. “Right now. Go to sleep. Argue about your shoulders tomorrow, when I don’t have to hear it.”

Stiles’ are nicer, Derek thinks idly.

Said shoulders are still vibrating slightly with repressed laughter, and Derek focuses on Stiles’ steady breathing as he drifts off.

In the morning, Derek wakes with the startled alertness that always happens whenever he sleeps in a new place. He cranes his head, looks around—Laura’s bed is empty, but Stiles is still sacked out next to him, on his back with his thigh pressed against Derek’s. Derek lays there for a second, enjoying the shared body heat, before he starts to feel too creepy and carefully climbs out of bed.

Laura’s sitting at their tiny kitchen table, flipping through a magazine and sipping a cup of coffee.

“How’s Stiles?” she says in a sing-song voice, and he glares at her half-heartedly.

“Asleep. Keep your voice down.”

He steals her coffee for a sip, and she pinches him, hard. “Your crush is worse than I thought,” she says frankly, making Derek wince.

“It’s worse than I thought, too,” he admits.

“You should tell him. About us,” she says, and he snorts.

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Not everyone takes it badly, Der.”

He scratches at his beard. “I’m pretty sure Mom won’t let me tell anyone ever again,” he says, and Laura smiles, a little sad.

“I’m not saying you have to tell him tomorrow. Just think about it.”

“Fine,” he says, just so she’ll stop pestering him about it. “It’ll probably happen by accident anyway.”

Laura smirks knowingly. “You think he smells good, huh?”

“So good,” he moans, burying his head in his arms. “I feel like I’m gonna die.”

She laughs and runs a hand through his hair, tugging lightly. “He likes you, it is so obvious. So why don't you just ask him out?” Derek's face must show the utter disregard he feels for that statement, and Laura rolls her eyes. “What, you're just gonna swear off dating forever because of a couple bad eggs?”

“A couple bad eggs?” he repeats, incredulous, but Laura just waves her hand. “And yes, that's exactly what I was planning to do, actually.”

“But I get such a good vibe from him. Don't you?”

“I don't trust myself anymore,” he admits, and Laura's face softens.

“Well, trust me, then. He’s a good guy, I think you should go for it.”

He swallows. “And what, just kiss him or something?”

Laura rolls her eyes again, more dramatically this time. “Oh my god, you caveman. Actually ask him out on a date like a normal person.”

“Okay,” he says, a little dazed. “I could maybe do that.”