Derek isn’t entirely sure when his reaction to Stiles Stilinski changed from, ‘Oh god, it’s Stiles, annoying, mouthy, tagalong friend of Scott's. I just want to make him shut up for five fucking minutes, possibly with my fist,’ to, ‘Oh god, it’s Stiles, he’s so smart and funny and handsome. Look at the way his eyes gleam whiskey gold in the fading winter sunlight. I kinda want suck him off? Or maybe mutual handjobs? Because his hands are pornographic. Who even opens a bottle that way? It ought to come with an R rating. Look away. Look away. Oh god. Now he’s looking back. Glare at him. Glare. Keeeeeeeep glaring. That’s right. Now he’s scowling and rolling his eyes. He suspects nothing. Good job, Der. Good job. Your secret is safe.’
He doesn’t know when that happened, but he’s vaguely horrified to realize that it has.
It’s just a weird crush, that’s what he tells himself, like his Jeff Goldblum phase back in 8th grade. Okay. No. He stands by that one. Jeff Goldblum is a sexy motherfucker and Derek still totally would. But Stiles? Stilinski? The skinny, motormouth definitely-not-a-kid-anymore, who chews with his mouth open and dances like someone attached electrodes to his balls and turned the power on? That guy? Really?
Or, his brain supplies unhelpfully, is Stiles the guy who, at twenty years old, is now broad shouldered and surprisingly muscular under all the plaid. Not to mention smart as a whip, belligerently devoted to those he cares for and snarky as hell.
Fuck off, brain, thinks Derek viciously, you aren’t helping things. And, when his brain inevitably tries to argue the point, Derek reminds it that Stiles Stilinski isn’t interested in grumpy, loner, leather-jacket wearing werewolves. Stiles Stilinski likes petite, red-haired math geniuses who go to MIT. Always has done. Always will.
And even though Derek is 99.9% sure said red-haired math genius doesn’t reciprocate, it doesn’t change the fact that his own stupid, pointless crush is, well, stupid and pointless.
So he tries to talk himself out of it. Tries to move on. Tries to convince himself that it’s nothing. Temporary. A blip.
If he waits long enough he’ll get over it. There are plenty of terrible things about Stiles. He just needs to focus on them. God knows he used to find the guy annoying enough. It shouldn’t be that difficult to remind himself why and then whammo… no more feelings. Right? Right?
Negative things about Stiles. Bad points. Flaws. Derek can do this.
He can totally do this…
Goddammit. There has to be something. What is wrong with him?
Like, okay, what about the way Stiles is always talking? God, he talks so much, has so many opinions. Always ranting about this TV show or that book that he’s just read. Always making obscure pop culture references that Derek only gets about 50% of the time. Always disappearing off on some tangent. Male circumcision. Chicken Soup. Winnebagos. Just three of the topics that Stiles managed to derail various pack meetings with when he was back from college over the summer.
God, Derek misses that.
Maybe he should call him. Sure he’s back at college at the moment and they don’t really have that kind of relationship, but it wouldn’t be weird, right? He could come up with some excuse. Fake an emergency or something, just to hear Stiles’ voice. Even if he just ends up arguing with him, it’ll be worth it. He likes arguing with Stiles. It’s one of life’s great joys. He wishes he got to do it more often.
Sometimes when Derek’s out getting groceries, he imagines Stiles is with him, holding his hand while they wander the aisles, bickering over which cereal to buy or what brand of washing detergent is best. Of course, his brain supplies, if they’re arguing about detergent and cereal then they’re probably living together. What would that be like? Living with Stiles. Waking up with Stiles curled round him on a cold winter morning, warm and snug under the sheets. There’d probably be pillow-talk and breakfast in bed and shared chores and...
Annnnnd… yeah. The whole ‘let’s focus on Stiles' flaws' plan is-- well-- it’s a work in progress.
The most disconcerting thing is that he can’t pinpoint when or how this crush on Stiles began. Surely, Derek thinks, if a timeline of their relationship existed he should be able to point to one moment and say, “Aha! This! This is when I developed all these inconvenient feelings!” And then maybe fix it? Or at least stop gawking openly at Stiles performing mundane tasks without his entire brain shutting down. Honestly, though, he can’t. He’s spent longer than he’s comfortable with trying to make sense of these feelings and all he knows is-- they exist, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Which is why he views the upcoming Christmas break with a strange blend of dread and euphoria. Stiles will be coming home and Derek is full of stupid feelings that have nowhere to go. The stress is giving him stomach cramps.
He needs to prepare himself. He needs a plan. Some way to deal with it that will stop him making a fool of himself in front of everyone. He spends days panicking over it trying to come with something, anything. Anything at all that might help. In the end he writes a message to himself on a post-it and sticks it to the mirror in his bedroom.
Don’t make it weird.
He repeats it to himself every morning as he does his push-ups. As he drinks his coffee. As he goes to sleep at night. Basically any time he catches himself daydreaming about Stiles.
He can do this.
He can totally do this.
It’s just a dumb, unrequited crush. He can power through this. Get over it. And when he does, they can get on with being friends.
Something settles heavily in Derek’s stomach at that thought.
They’ve been a lot of things to each other over the years.
But friends? He takes a breath in through his teeth and sighs.
Don’t make it weird, he tells himself. Don’t make it weird.
The pack trickles into at Derek’s loft for the first meeting since they all returned from their various colleges for the holidays. Scott and Kira get there first and soon end up curled round each other on the couch. Then Lydia wafts through the door in a cloud of expensive perfume and coconut shampoo, she casts an imperious eye over Derek and the loft, then takes a seat in the armchair. Ignoring the cans of soda and lone bowl of Cheetos Derek put out earlier, she produces a bottle of fancy water from her purse. Liam and Mason tumble through the door next, bickering over some TV show they’re both over-invested in, and soon everyone is chattering, happy and relaxed. Everyone except Derek that is, who looms in the doorway to the kitchen, waiting for the inevitable to befall him, unable to relax.
Ten minutes later Stiles bursts into the loft with cheerful exuberance singing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ at the top of his voice. He greets Scott with a crushing bro-hug, plants a smacking kiss on Kira’s cheek, claps Liam and Mason on the back. Then, turning to Lydia, he drags her out of her chair, twirls her round and says, “Lydia, light of my life, strawberry-blonde goddess of my dreams! How is MIT?”
“It’s fine,” Lydia says, rolling her eyes fondly. “Now let go or I’ll spill my water.”
“Oooh.” Stiles says, peering at the bottle. “With added minerals and electrolytes. Mmmm. Delicious.” She elbows him in the ribs and he huffs out a laugh. Turning he seems to notice Derek for the first time. “Derek!” he steps forward, smile turned wide and beaming, arms flung out and for one terrible glorious moment, Derek thinks he might be about to be hugged. But then Stiles seems to check himself, his arms drop to his sides. There’s an awkward beat and then he sticks out a hand instead. Derek takes it, and they shake. It’s all oddly formal. Like two strangers or a couple of businessmen who have just completed a deal. “It’s good to see you,” says Stiles.
Derek nods awkwardly. “You too,” he says, trying, and failing, not to notice just how broad Stiles’ shoulders seem in that particular shirt.
“Yeah?” Stiles looks pleased and Derek’s eyes rake over him, trying to catalogue all the little changes since they last saw each other. His face is a little fuller, hair a little longer but he’s whole and healthy and filled with that energy that seems to electrify every room he enters. Stiles clears his throat, “Can I-uh--have my hand back?”
Mortified, Derek glances down to see he still has Stiles’ hand in a death grip. He lets go immediately and, mumbling his excuses, goes to take a seat next to Mason on the window seat, still able to feel the ghost of Stiles’ touch.
It doesn’t get any better from there.
Not least because in the absence of other chairs, Stiles joins him on the window seat, his body a warm line of heat pressed along Derek’s left side.
Scott starts to go over what the plans are for the next couple of weeks, and Derek knows he should be listening to him, but how is he supposed to concentrate? Is the universe actively trying to fuck with him? Briefly he considers getting up and going to sit on the floor as far away from Stiles as possible, but then it will be obvious. Everyone will realize he has a ridiculous crush. No. He’s better off staying put, just like he would have done if it were any other member of the pack. Don't make it weird, he reminds himself, if you move, you're making it weird.
It’s awful though. For one thing, Stiles’ warm, spicy scent is goddamn intoxicating, then there's the relentless thump of his heartbeat, which Derek is so familiar with now, he’s convinced he could pick it out anywhere. Not to mention the constant fidgeting. About an hour in Stiles starts tapping a pen against the seat and it demands all Derek’s focus. On some level he’s aware that he’s like a cat with a laser pointer, but he can’t drag his attention from Stiles’ hands. From the noise. The movement. The way every ten beats or so Stiles twirls the pen between long fingers with an artful flourish like a drummer. Ugh.
Four years ago in this situation, Derek would have reached over, snatched the pen out of Stiles grip and crushed it in his fist. Now all Derek can think about is offering himself up as a replacement for the pen, desperate to know what those long, dexterous fingers feel like curled around tight around his hard--
His head whips up to find Scott is looking at him with an expression that says this may not be the first time he has called Derek’s name. Fuck. Derek schools his features into an expression that he hopes looks wise and profound, yet caring, and not like he was recently thinking about dicks. He worked out some time ago that in situations like these he can bypass a whole lot of awkwardness with judicious use of his eyebrows and a carefully timed silence.
Then Scott says, “So, what do you think?”
“Hmmm. Interesting,” Derek says, hoping that will be enough. What were they talking about again? Pixies? The weather? The geopolitical situation in Chad? Derek has no fucking clue.
“So you agree?” Nothing about Scott’s tone suggests whether Derek should agree or not. It’s completely neutral, goddammit.
Derek’s either got to admit he hasn’t been listening or take a fucking shot in the dark.
“Yes.” Derek says, trying to make it sound authoritative and weighty. “I agree.”
“Excellent! Thanks, dude.” Scott face splits in a wide grin. “So that’s decided, pack Christmas celebration here at the loft on Christmas Eve.”
“Uh--” What has he just agreed to? Is he supposed to cook? Provide food? For how many people? What time? Oh god.
“Okay,” Scott says clapping his hands together. “Well, I guess we should call it a night and--”
Derek tunes out. This, he fumes inwardly, this is all Stiles’ fault. Nobody should be this attractive-- this distracting--
Distractive, says a voice in his head that sounds suspiciously like Stiles’, distracting and attractive. Distractive.
Yes, Derek thinks triumphantly, exac-- oh fuck--on top of everything else, now he’s internalized Stiles.
With a bitter sigh, Derek gets to his feet and starts to clear away the now empty bowl of cheetos and cans of soda that he put out for the pack when they arrived.
“Here,” says Lydia, grabbing a couple of empty Dr. Pepper cans. “I’ll help.”
He grunts his thanks as he pads out to the kitchen, arms full, shoulders hunched, regretting every choice in his life that has brought him to this point.
They better not be expecting him to cook, that’s all. Last night he cooked chicken for himself that was both burned and raw. Which, okay, admittedly that level of failure in the kitchen is kind of a skill? And his werewolf constitution means he was able to eat it anyway, but it doesn’t lend itself to hosting pack parties.
The front door slams shut and he hears the voices of the pack disappearing down the corridor and away. He heaves another beleaguered sigh. He’ll have to text someone later and check what exactly is going to be expected of him when--
“So,” Lydia says, and he startles. He thought she’d left with everyone else. God. He’s so fucking out of it. “We should talk.”
“About?” He puts the empty cans to one side for recycling and stalks across to the sink to wash the bowl.
“The fact that you’re in love with Stiles.”
Derek’s snaps his head up to look at her, his jaw slack. He almost drops the bowl. “No,” he sputters when it becomes clear that she expects an actual response. “Definitely not.”
In love with Stiles.
Love. That. Ha. That would be ridiculous. That would be-- he can literally feel the color drain from his face. Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod.
His hands shake slightly as he turns the tap on and starts to rinse out leftover cheeto dust from the bowl.
“When are you going to make a move?” Lydia asks, coming to stand next to him. Too close. At this distance that coconut shampoo she’s so fond of is overpowering. Taking a deep breath through his mouth, he steadies himself, then turns to face her, schooling his features into the most derisive expression he can muster.
“You think I’m in love with Stiles.” He pours as much scorn into the words as possible, and he would totally be selling it if he could stop his damn hands from trembling. She can’t hear your heartbeat, he thinks to himself nonsensically, it’s okay, she can’t hear your heartbeat. She doesn’t actually know.
“Yes.” She purses her lips, considering him carefully.
She stares at him for a long moment, and it feels like her eyes are boring into his soul.
“Okay. If that’s the way you want to play it.” She arches one perfectly plucked eyebrow. “Remind me, who’s responsible for bringing the piñata to the party on Christmas Eve.”
Derek swallows and there’s another long awkward silence. This is some kind of test, but he refuses to back down. “That’s a trick question,” he says eventually. “There is no piñata.”
“Liam,” she says, with a smug smile. “Which you would know, if you hadn’t spent the entire meeting staring at Stiles.”
“I did not,” he scoffs, hoping she hasn’t noticed that his ears are burning.
He’s losing this battle. Dammit.
“Attraction and love are not the same thing,” he tries valiantly. “Just because someone might possibly, theoretically, experience attraction to someone else doesn’t mean they’re in love.” That he is sure of. “And anyway, I don’t.”
“Feel that way. About Stiles.” There. Final. He said it. He goes back to washing the bowl with a frown. At this rate it’s going to be the cleanest bowl in the history of mankind. Also he may be about to have some kind of coronary episode. His heart feels like it’s about to beat out of his chest.
“So you’re not interested?”
“In-ter-esting.” He can feel the weight of her stare focused on the side of his face, and he fails to suppress a shiver. She continues thoughtfully, “That being the case, you won’t mind if I ask him out then?”
Derek’s mouth goes dry. He focuses all his attention on turning the already-clean bowl round and round under the stream of water coming from the tap. Breathes in and out. In and out. Slow and steady. “Do what you want,” he says. Casual. Unaffected. That’s what he’s going for. He isn’t 100% sure he’s succeeding.
“Okay,” she says. “I will. I’ll drive over there now and ask him out. On a date.” There’s a long pause. “Then maybe we’ll make out.” Another pause. “He’s got a nice mouth, right? I mean, you probably haven’t noticed because you’re not in love with him, or even attracted to him, but it’s a good mouth.”
“If you say so,” Derek says stiffly.
“I do say so. I bet he’s a great kisser.”
It’s a trap. He knows it’s a trap, but in his mind’s eye Derek can see it all so clearly. Stiles would say yes. It’s Lydia. Lydia. The light of Stiles’ life. Strawberry blonde goddess of his dreams. He’s been in love with her for years. Everyone knows it. Stiles will say yes. And then there will be kissing and touching and-- and--
“Definitely a good kisser,” Lydia muses. “With that mouth, that tongue-- he’s probably great at lots of other things too.” Bile rises in Derek’s throat, he can feel his canines lengthening, every muscle in his body tenses. Then the bowl shatters in his hands, shards of glass showering everywhere.
Dead silence falls between them. Derek can’t even look at her right now. He’s in love with Stiles. He is SO in love with Stiles.
How did this happen?
Eventually Lydia clears her throat. “So--”
“Don’t. Say. Anything.” He turns his head to try and glare at her but she arches an eyebrow, and he crumbles, adding a soft, helpless, “Please.”
She purses her lips against a smile. “I wasn’t going to ask him out,” she says, patting his arm sympathetically. “But you really should.”
And with that she turns on her heel in a swirl of floaty red hair and coconut shampoo, leaving Derek alone to brood.
Over the next few days, Derek all but wears a groove in the floor of his apartment as he paces up and down muttering angrily to himself about the unfairness of life, the meddling of Lydia and the unbearable hotness of Stiles. Occasionally he takes a break from pacing to eat cereal straight from the box or jerk off. It’s infuriating. Absolutely infuriating. Derek is angry. Angry with himself for being so oblivious to his own feelings. Angry with Lydia for being so perceptive. Angry with Stiles for being so perfect. Too perfect! It shouldn’t be allowed. The hands. The eyes. The furious loyalty. The savage kindness. Even that brash sense of humor. Not to mention the goddamn infuriating quirk of his lips. Plush lips. Full lips. Lips that would look really good wrapped around Derek’s--
He glares down at his crotch. “Go away,” he mutters to his erection. “This is not happening. I refuse.” He’s already jerked off twice today thinking about Stiles. And he isn’t a teenager any more. This shouldn’t be a thing.
On the coffee table is the pen that Stiles was playing with at the last pack-meeting. Long fingers wrapped around it, curled in a tight grip that--
Derek’s dick twitches treacherously. “Fine. Fucking fine,” Derek huffs and stomps off to the bathroom to have a sad little yank all alone.
Later that evening he finally gives in and grudgingly calls Lydia to find out what exactly he agreed to at the last pack meeting. Christmas Eve is looming and he can’t put it off any longer.
It turns out he doesn’t have to cook.
That is probably a good thing.
Instead, he and Stiles were apparently nominated to be in charge of buying the Christmas tree and decorating the apartment.
“Really?” he says suspiciously. “Me and Stiles? ”
“Well,” Lydia says, “It was originally me and you but I’ve decided to step aside for the greater good. I volunteered Stiles to replace me.”
“He’s picking you up at ten tomorrow to buy the tree. He borrowed his neighbor’s pick-up truck. I told him where you need to go. There’s a tree farm in Beacon Falls. It has the best Christmas trees in the area.”
“Go for the Douglas Fir over the Norwegian Spruce. When you buy decorations go with something elegant. Think classic. Timeless. Less is more. Plain lights on the tree, not multicolored. And you’ll need a color scheme. I was thinking silver. Don’t let Stiles talk you into anything weird. He thinks blue and orange go together and that layers of plaid are a valid lifestyle choice. He can’t be trusted.”
“Why don’t you just come with us, if you have so many opinions?” Derek grouses.
“I can’t,” she says, feigning a weak cough. “Flu.”
“Lydia.” It’s almost a growl. He isn’t stupid, he knows this is a set up. He just doesn’t know why. It’s pointless. Even if they spend the entire day together, Stiles likes Lydia.
“Remember what I said,” she says, ignoring him. “Less is more.”
“I hate you.” Derek hangs up and returns to his regular schedule of angry floor pacing, interspersed with sad jerking off.
He had a plan goddammit. A whole plan. A good plan. A sensible plan: Ride out this visit. Don’t make it weird.
Lydia is ruining his plan.
He wakes up the next morning feeling petty, irritable and extremely contrary.
How is he supposed to survive a whole day alone in a car with Stiles without making it weird? Without blowing his cover? How?
Lydia he thinks as he grinds his teeth in the shower. Fucking Lydia. Thinks she’s the boss of everything. Thinks she’s the boss of me.
Years ago anger was his anchor and he embraces it now, welcomes it like an old friend.
Anger will get him through this. He’ll make Lydia regret the day she interfered.
It’s always distressing to watch Stiles eat, but when Derek walks up to the bright red pickup truck Stiles has parked outside his apartment complex the next morning, he’s dismayed to find Stiles is not only eating Twizzlers but has apparently found time to stop for a milkshake too.
Twizzlers AND a drink with a straw?
Seriously? Derek metaphorically shakes his fist at the universe, before opening the door and sinking into the passenger seat next to Stiles in sour silence.
“You alright, big guy?” Stiles turns to look at him, one eyebrow quirked. “Did you wake up on the wrong side of your wolfy lair today?”
Raising one eyebrow, Stiles stares at him as he worries the straw of his milkshake between his teeth, then he takes a real long slurp that makes his cheeks hollow. “Hey, where’s Lydia? She said she was meeting us here.”
Unbelievable. Unbe-fucking-lievable. She lied to Stiles to get him here? Seriously? That devious, conniving little b--- banshee. His mother always warned him about the fae. He should have listened.
“She had to cancel,” says Derek.
“Oh, so it’s just--uh-- me and uh--” Stiles gestures between them his free hand.
“Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool. Uh. That’s cool.” He doesn’t sound like he thinks it’s cool. He seems nervy and unsettled, cheeks flushed as he gnaws at his lip, long fingers tapping restlessly against the steering wheel. Does he wish Lydia was here? He probably does, Derek thinks bitterly, and something settles heavily in his gut. Stiles clears his throat. “Okay, well then, I figure we’ll go to the Christmas tree farm out by Beacon Falls first. I don’t know if Lydia mentioned it to you? But it’s supposed to be amazing and they probably have decorations there but if not there’s this place on--”
“No,” Derek says.
Stiles gaze slides over to him. “Walmart? Seriously? But Lydia said--”
“Walmart,” says Derek firmly.
“It isn’t like you can’t afford--”
“It’s my apartment. I can decorate it how I want.”
“Yeah, but Lydia--”
“Lydia’s not the boss of me.”
Stiles squints across at him. “Are you sure? She’s the boss of most people.”
“Walmart,” Derek says and jabs a finger at the road.
“When this comes back to bite us on the ass,” Stiles says, twisting the key in the ignition so the engine turns over. “I want the record to show that I tried to stop you.”
“Are you--” Stiles trails off, staring at him and then down at the mound of cheap, incredibly tacky Christmas decorations that Derek is accruing in his shopping cart. “Are you deliberately trying to piss Lydia off?”
“No.” There’s a tree in front of them. A fake one. It’s six feet tall and the branches are made of scraggy pink tinsel. It’s horrific. Easily the fakest, gaudiest, most tasteless Christmas tree Derek has ever seen. It’s perfect. He picks up a box containing one and shoves it in Stiles’ cart, which is currently mostly empty.
“Oh my god,” Stiles says, voice filled with shock and awe. “What did she do to you?”
Derek picks up a sinister looking Elf on a Shelf and contemplates it’s creepy little plastic face. “We’ll take five of these,” he says, shoving them in on top of the tree. “And one of each of the decorative Christmas plates.”
Stiles gawps. “Are you having some kind of breakdown? Is that what’s happening? Is there someone I can call? Cora? Or--wait, maybe--” He presses long fingers to Derek’s forehead to check his temperature, and mutters, “You don’t have a fever.”
Derek rears back. “No. Of course I don’t.” He scowls at Stiles.
“Then why are you trying to turn your apartment into the land that taste forgot-- Ooohh- a Farting Santa Butt Holiday Ornament?” Stiles lunges for it, grinning down at the plush Santa buttocks, then digs his thumb against the little sticker that says press here . It farts out ‘Deck the Halls’ in a series of cheerful, tuneless toots. Stiles looks overjoyed.
“We’ll take three of them,” Derek says, leaning over Stiles’ shoulder to observe the monstrosity with grim satisfaction. “And grab one of those Santa Toilet Covers, too.”
Stiles stares across at him, expression torn between horror and delight. “Oh my god,” he murmurs. “Who are you?” His mouth is hanging open and Derek takes the opportunity to pluck the Santa butt out of his slack grip and toss it into the cart.
“Go on, grab a couple more,” he says, smirking.
Stiles stands there jaw still slack, blinking at him, then seems to startle himself out of it, says, “They--uh--they had a cat nativity set back there.” He jerks a thumb behind them. “It was pretty weird--”
Derek’s smirk widens into a shark like smile. “Show me.”
They get into it. Like. Really, really into it. Trying to outdo each other to find the worst Christmas decorations ever. Lights, so many lights, in the shape of candles and holly and snowflakes and reindeer, enough that he isn’t sure he’s going to have space for them all, or money to pay for the resulting electricity bill. As well as the lights, they buy a twee Christmas diorama that plays Jingle Bells, a six foot inflatable snowman, a creepy lifesize santa in a rocking chair and a selection of the gaudiest Christmas sweaters Derek has ever seen, one for each member of the pack. Derek even lets Stiles talk him into buying two grotesquely garish Christmas onesies for them to wear on the night.
It’s-- It’s everything Derek ever thought it would be: The banter and the weird competitiveness that has been a hallmark of his and Stiles’ relationship sublimating into a kind of gut-wrenchingly happy dysfunctional domesticity.
Basically he wants to bicker with him like this for the rest of time.
Once the pick-up truck is piled high with more Christmas decorations than Derek’s apartment can possibly hold, they make their way back. Stiles insists on making a pitstop at Chipotle, and they sit in the truck together eating burritos as Stiles holds forth about his criminology course, his Dad’s refusal to stick to his diet and the vagaries of the college dating scene. He has sour cream on his lip and Derek wants to lean forward and lick it off. He takes a vengeful bite of his burrito instead and stares out the window at the parking lot. Watching as a pigeon struts round the parking lot, pecking at stray crumbs. Pigeons have it easy, he thinks, they don’t have to deal with unrequited love or navigate friendship or heartbreak. They just get to be.
“What about you?” Stiles says suddenly. “Are you--uh-- seeing anyone?”
“Seeing anyone?” Derek looks up so sharply he almost gives himself whiplash.
“You know? Dating?”
Stiles raises one eyebrow. “Dating. Courting. Going steady. Is there a special werewolfy word for two people who like each other and explore that potential by spending time together?”
“No. Jesus. And I know what dating is.”
“Good, just checking.” Stiles rolls the straw of his soda between his teeth before finally taking a long sip. Honestly. Derek’s at the stage now he’s willing to petition every restaurant in a ten mile radius to be banned from serving Stiles a drink with a straw.
He huffs out a sigh and looks away. “I--No. No dating.”
“No--No reason. Just wondering.” Stiles colors a little and picks at the fraying cuff of his winter coat with long fingers. Perhaps if he wore gloves that would be best. Then Derek wouldn’t have to look at those hands, with their broad palms, pronounced veins and expressive fingers. It’s probable even gloves wouldn’t contain them. If only there were a way to subtly suggest mittens without raising suspicion. Across from him, Stiles dips his head, seeming suddenly and unaccountably bashful. Subtly Derek inhales, scenting the air. Stiles smells-- well, like he always does, warm and spicy and home, but the slight edge of arousal that always seems to thread through his scent is combined, today, with a bitter edge of embarrassment or maybe nervousness.
Derek eyes him suspiciously. “Why? Are you dating someone?” Is he about to try and talk to Derek about his feelings for Lydia?
Stiles all but flinches, coloring an even deeper blotchier pink. “Hah. Me? Why? What have you-- Oh, funny. You’re funny. No. I haven’t dated in awhile, you know that.” Derek nods his head, pleased, and turns back to look at the pigeon, relief coursing through him. Next to him Stiles mutters, “Apparently all I do is crush on unattainable, supernatural badasses who are completely oblivious to my affections.”
Which is ridiculous. Lydia definitely isn’t oblivious. Thoughts of her casually talking about asking Stiles out float through his mind and he realizes, too late, that he’s popped his claws, puncturing his empty cup. “Well, maybe you need to stop wasting your time pining after someone who isn’t interested and open your eyes to all the people around you who are,” Derek bites out with feeling.
Stiles stares at him strangely, mouth tight, eyes wide with hurt and betrayal. “Right. Okay. Well,” Stiles says, voice strained, scent gone suddenly sour. “Good to know how you--uh--” He swallows. “I guess we better be getting back.” He turns the key in the ignition, scent suddenly so thick with sadness that Derek could choke on it.
In that moment, Derek knows he’s fucked up somehow, that he’s hurt Stiles profoundly and he needs to fix it, wants to make things right, even if it means his own feelings get trampled on in the process.
Reaching out, he places a hand on Stiles’ arm to still him. “What?” he says, a little harsher than he means.
Stiles glares at him. “What do you mean, what?”
“Gee. I don’t know Derek.” He yanks his arm out of Derek’s reach. “What could it possibly be?”
“Look, I get it, okay? Message received, loud and clear. But you can’t just expect me to stop ‘wasting my time pining,’ overnight.” He does the air quotes with his fingers and everything. Then sighs unhappily, shoulders slumping in defeat. “It’s been years, okay? Years. And. It’s going to take a while.”
Stiles’ words confirm all Derek’s worst fears. Taking a deep breath, he sighs. “Look. I know it’s difficult when you really like someone and they don’t feel the same way.” Oh boy, does he. “But given time--”
“Oh god. Please stop. Please don’t do this.” Stiles sinks into his seat, hands covering his face. “I get it okay? We’re not even in the same league. Jesus. We’re not even playing the same sport. So just: No. I don’t need a pep talk on this, okay, not from anyone, but especially not from you.” He looks so sad and deflated, Derek just wants to gather him up in his arms and squeeze him tight. Kiss his forehead. Then maybe sniff his hair, but not in a weird way.
Once again, he selflessly chooses to try and be a good friend instead.
“For what it’s worth,” he says, “I think you can do much better.”
“Hah! Really,” Stiles narrows his eyes, glaring at him. “Better than--Really? God! Your martyr complex never gets old.”
“Lydia might seem like a good fit for you, but seriously--” Derek trails off as his brain catches up with what Stiles just said.
Then he says, “Wait. My martyr complex?” Just as Stiles spits, “Lydia? ” in a voice brimming with incredulity.
Mentally Derek revisits the last ten minutes of the conversation with mounting suspicion. “You--You’re in love with Lydia,” he says uncertainly.
Stiles is staring at him like he’s certifiably insane. “Yeah. No. Not since my junior year of high school, dumbass.”
Stiles just stares at him, flushed but resolute, one eyebrow arched, and oh. OH.
All the pieces are falling into place with alarming speed.
“Wait,” Stiles says, “So when you said I should stop pining-- you thought I meant--”
Derek doesn’t let him finish the sentence. The pick up truck is big, bigger than the jeep or the Camaro, but that doesn’t mean there’s an awful lot of room when Derek climbs across the center console and into Stiles lap. Still, he’ll take the painful dig of the steering wheel against his spine any day because his mouth is finally, finally on Stiles’.
At first Stiles doesn’t respond, just kind of sits there, arms akimbo, mouth open, while Derek goes for it, then with a low groan he bursts into life. Hands sliding under Derek’s leather jacket to clench in the thin cotton of his henley. Tongue flicking in and out of Derek’s mouth in a clever tease. Derek cups Stiles’ face between his hand and licks the sour cream straight off his cheek, then grinds down with his hips, cock thickening in his jeans.
“Oh my god,” Stiles mumbles, through frantic kisses, “Seriously? In a parking lot. In broad daylight.” Derek slips a hand under all that plaid, hands skimming up the taut skin of Stiles’ chest, fingers grazing over one plump, nipple. Stiles hisses, arching up into the kiss and pushing Derek straight back onto the horn which blares loudly, echoing round the lot and breaking the spell. Derek scooches forward to stop the noise as Stiles stiffens under him, paralyzed with shock. Dipping his forehead Derek rests it against Stiles’ shoulder, shaking with laughter.
“You’re a goddamn menace,” Stiles says, breathless. “I can’t believe you.”
“You’re the one who pushed me into the horn,” Derek points out.
“Not on purpose. My nipples are very sensitive!”
“Duly noted,” Derek says, smirking.
“Oh my god,” Stiles whines. “Don’t say it like that.”
“All--” he waves a hand. “Sexy. Like you’re thinking about my nipples in sexy ways.”
“But I am.”
“Jesus," Stiles blushes, pleased. Then he adds, "Someone’s probably already called the Sheriff’s station. If we stay here my dad is gonna arrive and arrest us for public indecency.”
That’s a good point. Derek leans in for one last filthy kiss. Then he clambers awkwardly back across to his own seat. When he looks back, Stiles is staring at him with a dopey grin on his face, hair muzzed, pupils blown.
“You should drive back to my place,” Derek says decisively, “We can continue this there.”
“Oh. My. God,” Stiles says, starting the engine and pulling away in a peel of rubber. "It's like you're trying to kill me."
“Oh my god,” Scott says when Stiles and Derek open the door to the loft on Christmas Eve wearing matching Christmas onesies. “This place looks--” He trails off, taking in all of the… everything.
“Like the trashiest Santa Grotto ever?” Stiles suggests with a wide grin.
“Uh… yeah.” Scott wrinkles it’s nose. “And it smells like--like--” He clasps a hand to his nose, pinching it tight, as realization dawns. “Oh, you guys! You guys! I’m so happy for you!”
“Of course!” And Derek finds himself being pulled into a big three person hug. “I mean,” Scott continues. “I’m gonna be breathing through my mouth for the rest of the night. But seriously. So happy.”
They all stand there clinging to each other, and then Stiles’ right hand slides down Derek’s back to cup his ass. With a happy sigh Derek leans in closer, burying his nose into the crook of Stiles' neck.
“Oooookay,” Scott says, disentangling himself quickly. “Yeaaaaah. I’m gonna need you to stop groping each other long enough to open a window.”
Later that evening Derek is warm and happy and pleasantly buzzed on wolfsbane-laced nog. Sure, his apartment looks like it was decorated by elves high on acid, but he has his pack around him and the man he loves keeps making stupid kissy faces at him from across the room. The Sheriff even dropped by and invited him over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Basically he’s feeling warm and kind of fuzzy around the edges and generally happy with the world. Christmas, he reasons, is not so bad. Everything has worked out. Everyone is here and--
There’s a knock at the door. Derek goes to open it.
And that’s when he realizes--
He opens the door to find her rifling through her purse, head down, and then immediately tries to shut the door a little, angling it so she can't see past him into the room, but it's too late. He knows it's too late. For one thing he's wearing a bright blue and red Christmas onesie covered in ugly looking Santa faces and a pair of glow in the dark reindeer antlers. A rictus grin spreads across his face. Shit. Oh shit.
He is in sooooo much trouble.
“Derek! Merry--” The greeting dies in Lydia’s throat as she finally looks up and sees Derek in his onesie, and then slowly tilts her head to look past him, taking in the abomination that is his apartment.
“Lydia!” Stiles bounds over wearing an equally hideous green and gold onesie covered in three-legged reindeer and sporting a Santa hat at a jaunty angle. “You’re here!”
Lydia doesn’t answer, just stares round the apartment, pale with shock. “What--What did you do?”
“Lydia, love what you and Derek did with the place! Heads up!” Kira calls gleefully, throwing a Christmas sweater at Lydia, who catches it reflexively.
“We got one for everybody,” Stiles whispers. “Yours has a helpful little elf on it.”
“Oh my god,” Lydia says faintly, staring down at it. And then with more conviction. “Oh. My. God.” Her head snaps up and she glares at Derek. “They think I---What did you do?”
“Uhhhhhh-” Yup. Derek’s got nothing.
Next to him, Stiles, who has been drinking egg nog continuously since three this afternoon, leans forward and says in a loud whisper, “Derek totally loves me, Lyds. Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone but we totally did it in on top of the giant Santa in the rocking chair earlier.” He gives her a blurry thumbs up.
Somewhere behind them Derek thinks he hears Liam mumble a horrified, “Oh my god. Oh my god-- Is that what that smell-- oh goddddd!”
“Uh-huh,” Lydia grinds out, still glaring at Derek, who manages a sheepish smile.
“Merry Christmas?” he tries.
She scowls at him, and for one moment he wonders if he actually has to fear for his life, but then Stiles takes his hand, tangling their fingers together and leans in to place a sloppy kiss on Derek’s cheek. Immediately something in Lydia’s expression seems to soften. “You owe me, Hale,” she says, tugging on the helpful elf Christmas sweater over what he’s fairly sure is a designer dress. Squaring her shoulders she takes one last baleful look round at the apartment. “You owe me big. Now get me nog. I need nog.”