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what you got, boy, is hard to find

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Derek comes back with new pants.

Or—maybe they're his old pants, Stiles can't really tell the difference between artfully fake-worn and violently deconstructed, but they fit differently. Derek used to wear pants like Sandy Olson's in the last scene of Grease: they were the pants of someone who was truly committed to the life path of stepping around their dick. Derek's new groove is softer, a little less sewn-in. Kind of… cuddly.

Stiles has always strategically avoided looking at Derek's ass the way he avoids looking at Erica's boobs, but now he keeps getting caught staring. It's unfair. He can't just have normal dirty thoughts about Derek's beautiful everything like every other person under the sun; no, Stiles looks at the gentle drape of Derek's jeans over his thighs and thinks, I want to give you a hug.

Stiles doesn't actually mind realizing that he might be into dudes as well as ladies; it's not like he's never looked at Danny and thought about kissing him. To be fair, though, Stiles is pretty sure everybody has thought about kissing Danny. Scott has probably thought about kissing Danny, and Scott has somehow managed to miss Isaac's giant, neon-sign-flashing desire to make out with him and then maybe cuddle a little, or make out with Allison and then Scott and crawl into some sort of den space with them both. Stiles is staying out of that one.

When Derek starts becoming Stiles's literal teenage dream, though—well, it's weird. Instead of sexy werewolf passion, Stiles just dream-spoons the crap out of Derek's objectively beautiful back and feels all warm and happy with nary a boner in sight.

Stiles has slept in the same bed as Scott a ton of times. They've cuddled, and it wasn't like, they cuddled, no homo—they're bros who cuddle, no shame, not even a thing. But Stiles wants to cuddle Derek with intent. Premeditated. He wants to get up on that the way you get up on your very favorite piece of furniture, except Derek is a person and that's a really weird way to objectify someone. One of many, many problems here. Stiles's flirting vocabulary is basically fisting jokes and buying people TVs, and his game is traditionally I'll wear you down with my love, with a side of hey wait why are you kissing me.

Stiles could be into kissing Derek. That—yeah, that seems pretty gay.

Except when he tries to imagine going further than kissing—because kissing is pretty gay but what about sex? like he'd totally kiss Scott in a non-gay way—Stiles's brain just seizes up. Not in a sexy way, like in a nope does not compute out of cheese error sort of way. Which is weird because Stiles should absolutely want to have his dick and Derek's dick in the same area doing things. He should be thinking, I want to hit that like the wrath of God.

Stiles really likes his dick, is the thing. Like they're total bros and they've had some good times together, doing the solo tango and shaking the disco stick. If there's a thing you can do by yourself he's probably done it. He likes porn too, just as much as your average teenager or maybe a little more: his collection is, to say the least, comprehensive. He just can't really get the whole mental CTRL+C, CTRL+V down, can't put himself on screen.

Google is unhelpful without a clearer string of search terms. Scott will make a betrayed puppy face at him for making him think about Derek in a context like that, and Lydia—Lydia is his favorite forever, but she's also kind of a jerk. Stiles is absolutely not asking his dad about this. Nope, nope, nope. It was bad enough when his dad tried to give him the Talk and they ended up staring silently at each other over a pile of pamphlets and trauma.

So he goes to Melissa McCall.

Stiles waits until Scott's off doing werewolf things with Derek and the others before he drives over to the McCall house. He brings a couple pints of ice cream and a box of Whole Foods bakery cookies, like his mom used to do when Melissa was having a bad day after the divorce. He even rings the doorbell and waits for Melissa to open it.

She looks at the bag in his hand, then at him, and says, "If there's something seriously wrong or dangerous that you've gotten yourself into, you are turning around right now and going to tell your father about it, young man."

Stiles squawks, "What? No!" and flails enough that the cookies almost fall out of the bag. "I just wanted to—I thought you'd like some ice cream!"

"Oh, boy," sighs Melissa, but she steps aside for Stiles to come in.

"So," Stiles says. "Hypothetically—" That's a great opening. Historically, one of his favorites. "Have you ever—"

Melissa looks at him for a moment and deliberately lowers her spoon to the ice cream carton.

Stiles tries, "I'm asking for a friend."

"What are you asking?" Melissa says.

"Is it gay if I want to not touch someone's dick," Stiles says. "Wait. That didn't come out right."

Melissa watches him for a long moment before she turns and reaches into the cabinet behind her. "This sounds like a conversation that's going to call for Magic Shell. I have Oreo or Heath Bar Crunch."

"Maybe both," admits Stiles.

They end up with bowls of Rocky Road, Raspberry Bear Tracks, and Pistachio Toffee Crunch covered with two layers of Magic Shell and some maraschino cherries that were lurking in the back of the fridge. The combination is disgusting and amazing and Stiles is on his way to the blissful land between sugar high and food coma when Melissa says, "So, who's the guy? I'm guessing it's not Scott."

"Scott knows I don't want to touch his dick," Stiles says fondly. "No, uh—nobody you know."

"It's that Hale kid, isn't it," says Melissa. She sounds resigned more than anything.

Stiles turns beet red and shoves another spoon of sugary, frozen deliciousness in his mouth. He swallows and says, "Why would you think that?"

"Oh, Stiles." Melissa sighs and pulls the Rocky Road closer to her.

At the next pack meeting, they watch Easy A, eat five bags of microwave popcorn, and debate whether or not they need a talking stick. (Scott's been reading up on consensus-based decisionmaking.) Stiles spends a lot of that discussion thinking about euphemisms for the talking stick and not paying very much attention to Lydia's argument about the fallacy of non-hierarchical government, so when Scott says, "Stiles, you agree, right?" Stiles jerks his head up and stalls mid-nod when Derek's ass turns out to be directly in his line of sight.

Lydia gives him a look.

"I move that we table this until next meeting," Stiles says. "The pizza's going to be here in five minutes, right?"

Erica mouths something that looks like, Nice save.

Then Stiles has to watch Derek eat three slices of Hawaiian pizza, wipe sauce from the corner of his mouth, and drop a piece of canned pineapple on his shirt and glance down in dismay. Derek's shirt looks like a refugee from a Downy commercial, cotton worn so perfectly that it probably feels like a cloud. The entirety of Derek's wardrobe is conspiring against Stiles.

Even his stubble looks pettable.

Stiles crams another piece of pizza into his mouth and doesn't meet anyone's eyes for a while.

It all comes to a head about a week after Stiles recovers from the crushing awkwardness of his talk with Melissa. They pinky-swore never to speak of it again and Stiles is working diligently to forget it ever happened.

Derek stops him on the way out of the meeting at his apartment and says, "Why are you staring at me more lately?"

Good old Derek, blunt as a crowbar. Stiles is thankful he'd waited until the other werewolves were presumably out of hearing. Boyd's cool and a bro and all, but he's also sort of entertained by other people's pain and he would never, ever let Stiles live this conversation down. He tries to figure out what to say. I want to platonically stroke your beautiful ass and touch your arms? I think I've gone gay for cuddles with you? Hey, Derek, are puppy piles a thing, because I want to pile all over you.

Because Stiles is the most awkward person alive, what actually comes out of his mouth is "I want to sleep on you."

Derek stares at him.

"I mean—" Stiles says, "Actually, no, I really do want to sleep on you."

Derek's eyebrows climb slowly up toward his stupidly attractive hairline. "Is this some weird thing you found on the internet?"

"What do you think I find on the internet?" says Stiles, although that's a fair question. There may have been an incident involving the tenth page of results from Google and an extremely sketch 120 page PDF file.

"I try not to think about that," says Derek, extra dry, and Stiles feels his heart swell up again, like he's the Grinch and Derek is Cindy Lou Whoo.

"You just look really comfortable," says Stiles.

Derek folds his arms and leans back agains the door frame. He does not look particularly comfortable right now.

"I mean," Stiles says. "In general. Generally."

Derek frowns. "Did you step in a fairy ring? Should I call Scott?"

"No, I didn't step in a fairy ring," says Stiles. "Wait, there's fairy rings here? Where? Have you seen a fairy? Oh my God, what if Isaac steps in a fairy ring? What if Scott does?"

"Focus," says Derek, too seriously.

"Why would you think I would only want to sleep on you if I was high on fairy dust or whatever?" Stiles feels a little insulted on Derek's behalf.

"Stiles." Derek's voice holds the barest hint of a rumble, not a growl, just enough to make Stiles pay attention to him instead of the terrifying smorgasbord of ideas lighting up in his mind.

"I just —" Stiles could probably explain this, if he tried, but he doesn't really want to. Everything's so much simpler in his head. U + ME = NAP, CUDDLE-YOU-LUST, something like that. He sighs.

Derek says, "Okay."

Stiles slumps in relief. "Thanks," he says.

"D'you —" Derek hesitates for a minute. "Tonight?"

"What?" Stiles says. "I mean, uh, yes, absolutely." He's too loud, but Derek seems to relax a little bit. He doesn't smile, exactly, but his shoulders lower; he looks less tense.

Stiles doesn't sleep very easily, especially not these days. He has to lure himself to bed slowly, carefully: checking Reddit two or three times, taking his pills, finding just the right Pandora station while he squishes his pillow into position. Then he sits on the edge of his bed for a minute, testing the waters, before he goes for another glass of water and a prowl around the doors and windows to make sure they're all locked.

Derek has nearly as many rituals before he can sleep as Stiles. First, he makes them tea that smells like grass and flowers because it's literally flowers. Whatever, the lavender isn't terrible with the chamomile. Derek puts a spoonful of honey in his, so Stiles takes the spoon and honey squeeze bear when Derek passes them along. The tea still tastes like his grandma's closet smells, but Stiles appreciates the gesture.

Whatever Derek's mysterious werewolf grooming rituals are, they take at least twenty minutes and Derek comes out of the bathroom smelling like the manly perfume counter at Macy's. He's dressed in a t-shirt so soft and thin that Stiles can see the outline of Derek's six-pack and that Derek seems a little chilly. His flannel pants are worn, loose, hanging off his hips. Stiles can't decide if it would be weird to go over and hug Derek just because he looks so comfortable. He sits on his hands instead.

Then Derek does yoga stretches, which Stiles watches in utter fascination. It doesn't seem right that someone that muscular can also put his left foot behind his ear while standing on his right foot.

Derek finishes and looks at Stiles. "Well?"

Stiles follows Derek into his bedroom, the sanctum from which the pack has been banned on pain of pain. It's very sparse, even compared to the rest of Derek's apartment, like Derek put all the things that show he lives a sort of normal life where everybody else can see them. The bed isn't a California King or anything, just a normal full bed with about three times the normal amount of pillows. Stiles approves.

Derek stands beside the bed. For a second there's a flash of something—not nervousness, exactly—on his face, and then he takes hold of the hem of his shirt and begins to pull it up.

"Um," says Stiles. "You don't—I was gonna stay in my boxers and undershirt?" He tries to will Derek to understand what he means by his Jedi mind powers.

"Sure," says Derek. "Whatever."

Stiles shucks off his pants and kicks off his socks while Derek pulls the covers down and shoves some of the pillows around so there's room for people on the bed, too. Stiles climbs in before he can think too hard about it; Derek turns out the light.

They lie there for what feels like an eternity before Derek says, "Is this what you wanted?"

"No," says Stiles. Then he thinks, aw, fuck it and turns so his leg knocks up against Derek's. He shifts around so that Derek's arm is wedged comfortably (for Stiles) under Stiles' shoulder and snuggles his head aggressively against Derek's warm chest.

"This is not what I was expecting," says Derek after a long minute.

"It's so much awesomer," says Stiles, half asleep already with Derek's heartbeat ticking away beneath his ear. "Night."

17 naps later:

"Your chin is really sharp." Derek reaches back and pushes Stiles's jaw out of the cozy hollow of Derek's lower back. "Move your head."

Stiles yawns. 'Uh huh." This is actually kind of an odd position, but Scott bought him The Cuddle Sutra as a gesture of support/approval and Stiles has yet to meet a checklist he didn't want to tick off. So far, they've mastered all of the normal cuddles and now they're moving onto the strange ones with names like Melting Butter and The 68 1/2. Today's is Two Peas in a Pod, which has them both on their sides, stacked like Tetris pieces. Stiles is like six inches from using Derek's ass for a pillow, which is kind of funny, considering how all of this started.

"Come on," Derek says after a few minutes pass. "This isn't—let's do the other one."

Letting out an exaggerated sigh, Stiles uncurls and pushes Derek's legs out of the way so he can scoot up the bed. Of course, Derek's favorite position is another weird one, Through the Woods, curled around Stiles with Stiles's legs dangling across his lap. It makes Stiles feel like Derek's doing some weird lawn chair roleplay for a little while, and after that like his feet are falling asleep. "That better?" he says when he's in place, Derek's head just the right height for Stiles to slide his fingers through Derek's hair.

"Mmm," Derek says.

Derek's ass did not lie: Derek is extremely huggable. His body is toned and muscled, ready for action, but supple and sturdy at rest. Stiles yawns, rolls his shoulders, and settles in.