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Sharing Food

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It started oddly, like so many of the firsts between them had.

Derek was alone at home one night reading on the bed where he’d moved it up against the enormous loft windows, when he heard the jeep pull into the parking lot. He followed Stiles’ progress and waited for the knock on the door before opening it, despite having been waiting at the bottom of the landing steps since he’d left the elevator.

“What is it, Stiles?” he asked, exhausted and wanting nothing more than to be left the hell alone. After everything that had happened lately, Erica and Boyd… fuck, he just wanted to be left alone.

Stiles stood in his doorway, a perplexed expression on his face before it slipped away and he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Just wanted to make sure you were doing okay,” he said a little awkwardly, his shoulders hunching forward beneath the black hoodie he wore, scent tinged with nervousness and a little anxiety.

Derek just looked at him for a moment before lifting his arms out from his sides in a still here, can’t you see? type movement, sure his expression was conveying more of the same.

To his eternal surprise, though, Stiles’ anxiety increased and he blurted out his next words so fast that it took a moment for Derek to decipher them.

“I was wondering if maybe you want to come over and have dinner with me and Dad tomorrow night?”

It was so blatant an invitation, not to mention the delivery, that Derek just blinked and stared at Stiles in confusion as he said “yes,” without any real thought or consideration.

They stared at each other some more before Stiles nodded once, jerkily, and then turned to leave. He hesitated just outside the door, casting a semi-suspicious glance at Derek before leaving for good, the rabbit-fast racing of his heart echoing in Derek’s head for the rest of the night.

*

That was the first dinner of what somehow managed to become a tradition, and it was fucking weird. Derek wasn’t sure what Stiles had told his dad, but the Sheriff was unnervingly congenial when he answered the door the next night and welcomed Derek inside, a small grin playing around his mouth when he took the bowl containing the tiramisu Derek had made from scratch from his hands and leading him into the kitchen.

There was Stiles, sitting on the counter and reading a book he held in one hand and worrying at the thumbnail of the other, his brow furrowed in conversation. From the look of him and the way his heartbeat remained steady, Derek knew he’d not heard his father welcome anyone in, so it was oddly satisfying when he glanced up as John entered the kitchen and he saw Derek following behind.

“Holy shit, you came,” Stiles breathed, mouth falling slightly open in surprise.

“Language,” John reprimanded with the long-suffering air of a parent who’d repeated the same thing a million times before.

“I said I would,” Derek told him. “Uh, I made dessert.”

“Derek is welcome back any time he likes, so long as he continues to provide m- us with delicious desserts,” the sheriff pronounced grandly.

“I’m sure he’ll be thrilled,” Stiles said drolly as his dad lifted the cling film off the top to inhale the sharp espresso and sweet cheese scent of the tiramisu in something approaching rapture.

Stiles slid off the counter, tossing his book behind himself, and stirred whatever was in the pot on the stove. Derek could smell tomatoes, coriander and cumin, and his stomach growled audibly and made John laugh.

“Looks like you got here at just the right time,” he told Derek, clapping one warm hand on his shoulder. “There’s beer in the fridge if you want one, and if Stiles doesn’t yak your ear right off, there’s baseball on the tv.”

“I-- thank you, Sir,” Derek said slowly, very fucking off-balance. He wasn’t sure where the easy acceptance of his presence in the Stilinski home had come from, but he was probably more surprised by the fact that the easy and unlooked for kindness didn’t quite feel like an axe waiting to fall.

John just nodded once and disappeared in the direction of the living room, leaving Derek standing awkwardly in the kitchen behind Stiles. Derek shifted uneasily, not sure what he was supposed to do until Stiles glanced over at him and rolled his eyes. “Dude, we’re not going to shoot you, you can relax a bit,” he said bitingly, though the tone was gentle. “Get yourself a drink-- glasses are over there if you want one -- and sit your ass down. I like your sweater, by the way,” he added, his eyes flicking across Derek’s torso in a way that was not remotely invasive. “Looks soft.”

Derek could feel his eyebrows shoot up as he glanced down at his own chest, the soft dark purple fabric shifting a little with his movement. “Oh. Uh, thanks,” he said, still awkward as fuck (and what was he even doing here, how had this happened?) before he did as he was bid and helped himself to a beer.

“Can you grab one for me too, while you’re there?” Stiles tried.

“Sheriff?” Derek called.

“Nice try, Son,” came floating back to them, and Derek felt the corner of his mouth tick upwards as Stiles scowled.

“I should have known, you colluder,” he hissed at Derek, but the way his eyes lit up at Derek’s slightly-uncertain smirk took away any sting the words may have had.

 

The rest of that night went pretty smoothly, which only added to the weirdness of it all, because it was dinner with Stiles and his father in their home, but it really was as easy as that. Stiles filled up the empty space in the kitchen with his explanation of dinner-

(“It’s called harira, and it’s Moroccan, but I switched the lamb for chicken for Dad.”

“For which I am ever so grateful, Stiles.”)

-gossip from school-

(“Danny apparently got white girl wasted at Harper Jansen’s party on the weekend and tried to give her dad a lapdance, oh my god.”)

-and updates on lacrosse-

(“Coach tried to lecture half the first line using a quote from Measure For Measure-- you know, ‘our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt’, but I think he just confused them about whether or not they were actually supposed to try scoring any goals, so it was a bit of a fail.”)

-and it was all just so easy. The food was delicious, John had no problems joining in their conversation, and by the time ten p.m. approached and Derek caught Stiles yawning widely behind one hand as he studied on the floor with his shoulder just close enough to brush occasionally against Derek’s calf where he sat on the couch, he was startled to realise he had had a good time. A pretty great time, actually.

“It’s late,” he said abruptly, shoving to his feet and startling Stiles. “I’m going to go now.” Stiles scrambled to his feet as Derek turned to John. “Thank you for having me,” he said to the older man, bewildered sincerity audible to his own ears. “I-- the food was good.”

John’s answering smile was understanding as he extended his hand for Derek to shake, his grip warm and firm. “It was a pleasure seeing you, Derek. We’d love for you to come back again, okay?”

Derek wasn’t sure he was ready to commit to that, so he just managed a tight smile and left, Stiles following him out the front door and into the street where the Camaro was parked. He was so filled with confusing emotion that the turned on Stiles as they reached the car, his expression thunderous.

“Why?”

“Why what?” Stiles asked, jerking to an abrupt stop.

“Why did you invite me here? What was the point of this? What do you have to gain?”

Stiles gaped at him for a moment before something in his wide, expressive eyes closed off. “You know, that’s not the first time you’ve implied that I have ulterior motives where you’re concerned,” he said, frustration twisting his voice into something rough and maybe even hurt, “and I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve it, but it’s hurtful.” His eyes searched Derek’s for a moment, skin made sallow by the street light across the road from where they were standing and the hollows in his cheeks making his cheekbones appear especially sharp. He eventually just sighed and turned to return to the house when Derek spoke, his voice sharp like a whip crack in the otherwise-silent street.

“It’s been a long time since… I don’t- this isn’t something I do, Stiles,” he managed to get out.

“I know,” Stiles shrugged, jamming his hands in his pockets the same way he had the night before when he’d first issued the invitation. He waited, but when Derek didn’t speak again he just continued towards the house. “That’s why, by the way,” he called as he walked. “That’s the reason I invited you. Because you don’t do this. And now you can. If you want.”

Derek turned the radio off for the drive home, lost in his own thoughts as he replayed Stiles’ parting words, and the way his thin cotton tee had stretched across his back as he’d climbed the front steps of the house and let himself inside, all without looking back.

*

The invitation that came the next week was issued by text, but Derek showed up again, this time with his Aunt Jessie’s baked chocolate cheesecake.

*

Then, somehow, it transpired that almost a year passed and Derek found himself in the Stilinski’s kitchen on their regular Thursday night, smirking as Stiles cursed a blue streak for having been chopping chilis and then chewing on his nails as they prepared dinner together, John laughing and chiding Stiles for his language from where he was sitting at the table and watching them over his case files.

“Shut up, you,” Stiles told Derek, poking a finger into the ticklish spot beneath his bottom rib and making him yelp a startled laugh and dance away. “Oh ho ho! ” Stiles exclaimed delightedly, realising that he’d finally found a potential weakness of Derek’s to exploit, and then next thing Derek knew he was trapped with his back to the fridge by Stiles’ startlingly large body pressed against his as his damnably long fingers danced along his ribcage and exploited every sensitive place they could find.

“Stiles, cut it-- Stiles, dinner,” Derek gasped, his abs clenching as he laughed the pained laugh of the oversensitive, “oh my god, stop--

And just like that Stiles had frozen in the worst way and was taking a step back, only for Derek’s (stupid, traitorous, fucking idiotic) hands to shoot out and grab his hips to halt his reverse momentum, the two of them standing and staring at each other in wide-eyed bewilderment.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles eventually murmured, his expression wavering between confused and guilty as hell.

“No, it’s okay,” Derek told him. “I wasn’t… you weren’t… it just tickled,” he finished lamely. “I’m very…”

“Ticklish?” Stiles supplied helpfully.

“Yeah.”

“I’ll remember that,” Stiles said quietly, and it was absolutely a promise. Derek just didn’t know what he was promising to do .

Derek reluctantly relaxed his fingers from where they were still clutching at Stiles hard enough to make his fingers ache, and steadfastly refused to meet John’s eyes as he returned to the counter and resumed chopping vegetables for dinner. Stiles eventually did the same, slotting in at his side as comfortably as if he belonged there.

There was no comment from John, barely a rustle of the papers he was reading, but Derek just knew he hadn’t missed the exchange. He wondered if he was going to be asked not to come back for dinner next week, if there were going to be pointed comments about age in his future and he knew, okay? He knew Stiles was too young for the kind of dependence Derek had formed around him, that this thing that was forming around them was a thousand times bigger and scarier than that, but Derek was helpless to control it, because he didn’t even truly know what it was.

The rest of the night was uneventful, but there was a sense of something building, like thunderheads on a far horizon, and Derek felt it creep beneath his skin like an itch he couldn’t find to scratch. When dinner was finished, the dishes washed and put away, and the sheriff gone upstairs to get some sleep before an early start the next day, Derek and Stiles sat together on the front porch, their feet resting on the balusters and their shoulders pressed together.

Derek nursed a bottle of beer, Stiles a mug of sweet black tea, and the silence between them was charged but easy. They spoke quietly and laughed softly in the muted purple light of the settling evening, then eventually lapsed back into silence.

Stiles sighed and shifted slightly, resting his head on Derek’s shoulder. Contentment radiated from him in a near-palpable aura, and it settled the uneasiness within Derek like nothing else could have. He rested his own cheek against the top of Stiles’ head for a moment, then told him that it was time he began heading home.

“I hate this part the most,” Stiles told him candidly. “It feels wrong, you leaving.”

Derek smiled a little. “It would probably feel more weird if I stayed.”

Stiles’ head rolled a little on Derek’s shoulder in a lazy shake. “Nah, it’d just feel like family.”

“Stiles.” The word was punched out of him, and Derek felt gutted. He felt Stiles tense up, but in order to stave off his panic, Derek blindly reached for his hand and threaded their fingers together, sure his grip must be too tight to be comfortable, but Stiles didn’t say anything.

*

Derek didn’t stay that night, but it was well after midnight by the time he left.

*

Another six months passed, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s all spent with the Stilinskis. The season changed and from one day to the next it got seriously hot, hot enough that neither Derek nor Stiles could tolerate being stuck in the hot kitchen to cook dinner, and John gladly accepted a shift at work because it meant air conditioning.

Stiles suggested getting something quick and easy to eat and heading out to the lake for an evening swim, packing the jeep with everything they thought they might need, and less than an hour after that Stiles was manoeuvring the jeep along the overgrown path that led to the lake.

They sat in the back with the door swung wide open to eat roasted deli chicken on fresh bread rolls and drank root beer gone mostly warm as the twilight settled and the occasional firefly flitted through the trees. The lake was quiet and still, reflecting the stars as they slowly began to appear in the darkening sky, and the lack of any kind of breeze at all meant that even by the water it was still hot.

Derek slid from the jeep, the sudden redistribution of weight making the suspension groan shockingly loudly in the relative quiet of the forest. It also made Stiles bark out a laugh, which cut off abruptly when Derek reached down and lifted the hem of his shirt to tug it up and over his head. He balled it up and tossed it at Stiles, hitting him squarely in the face.

“Oh real nice, asshole,” Stiles grumbled, tossing the slightly sweaty fabric aside as he climbed out and toed off his sneakers, glancing up as Derek continued to strip down to his boxer briefs and head towards the small dock built out over the water’s edge. Once there he just stood, seemingly content to wait for Stiles as he finished removing his own clothes.

They stood together and looked out at the water once Stiles joined him, standing close enough to touch but not actually coming into contact.

“There’s nothing in here, is there?” Stiles asked suddenly.

Derek’s mouth twitched up. “No, Stiles.”

“But you’d totally rescue me if there was, right?”

Derek pretended to think about it, huffing a quiet laugh when Stiles elbowed him in the belly. “Yes, I would rescue you if something dark and sinister with many tentacles reached up from the shadowy depths to curl around your legs and drag you down to its watery boneyard.”

“Awesome!” Stiles said chirpily after a moment of blank pause. “I’ll just wait for you right here so we don’t have to even entertain the possibility.” He made to crouch and sit on the dock but gave an aborted yelp as Derek laughed, planted a hand between his shoulder blades and shoved him off the dock into the water.

Stiles came up sputtering and spitting imprecations, lifting both hands out of the water so he could give Derek the finger. Derek just smirked at him and executed a perfect dive in to join him, barely a ripple on the surface to indicate where he’d entered the lake.

“You’re such an asshole, Hale,” Stiles shouted when Derek resurfaced, yelping loudly when Derek managed to get his feet around his calf and dragged him down a little ways into the water. “Such an asshole!”

Derek just laughs and turned to freestyle lazily towards the middle of the lake, his wet skin glistening in what little light there was to see by.

It was nice, sharing space like that. They swam around each other for a while, speaking a little but mostly staying close, hands and feet brushing occasionally beneath the dark surface, hesitant eyes meeting more frequently than that.

They eventually lost track of time passing and by the time the evening breeze picked up they had well and truly cooled down, skin pruny and bodies beginning to tire. They hauled themselves back up unto the dock and laid there together, side by side, staring up at the sky.

“Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you hadn't stayed here to help Scott out?” Stiles asked quietly, his body oddly still beside Derek’s.

It was apropos of nothing, like so many of the questions Stiles asked, but Derek gave it serious thought before he answered, Stiles apparently content to wait silently as he did so.

“I try not to,” he said eventually, his own voice as hushed as Stiles’ had been. “I used to, after the fire. ‘If only I had done this, if only I hadn't done that.’ I made myself crazy with the what-ifs. So I try not to do that anymore.”

“Sometimes I wish you hadn’t,” Stiles confessed, his voice the quietest of murmurs, but before Derek could even register just how much that stung Stiles continued. “I wish you’d stayed in New York, wish you’d been able to move on with your life away from all this.” His sigh was tired and Derek turned to watch as he pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes the way he did when he had a particularly bad headache. “You deserve so much better than this, so much more.

There was a despondency to Stiles’ voice that Derek really didn’t like, so he rolled onto his side until he was close enough for his front to press against the cool skin of Stiles’ arm where it lay at his side. “Don’t be defeatist,” he said gently. “The choices I’ve made have been mine alone.” They both contemplated the accuracy of that statement for a moment, Stiles’ eyes wide in the darkness and filled with silver stars reflecting up at Derek where he lay, until Derek quirked a tiny smile. “Besides,” he said with faux casualness he knew Stiles wouldn’t be fooled by, “it brought us here, didn’t it?”

Stiles seemed to contemplate that for a moment before returning Derek’s smile with one of his own, startlingly open and sweet. “I like to think that we’d’ve found each other anyway, one way or another.”

Derek let the steady rhythm of Stiles’ heart ground him as he tried not to show how that simple statement had flayed him wide open, leaving him dangerously vulnerable and feeling jittery and raw. He knew he’d been unsuccessful when Stiles began to withdraw into himself, his gentle smile souring. It was more than Derek could tolerate, so he reached out and ran his thumb gently over Stiles’ cheek, freezing him in place as effectively as if he’d screamed a warning.

“I think so too,” he told Stiles, and was so distracted by the wide grin he received in response that it wasn’t until many hours later, at home and alone, that he realised he’d been telling the truth.

*

A still-uniformed John found Derek in the baking aisle one Monday in September, his cart coming to a halt beside the bags of sugar before Derek was even aware he was there. He felt a smile curve his mouth in greeting before eyeing the sheriff’s cart disapprovingly, taking in the package of steak and pre-made potato salad.

“Don’t start,” John warned him with a wryly raised eyebrow. “Stiles has been busy with assignments and I’ve been busy at work.”

“You should have called me,” Derek replied without thinking as he reached out for a bag of chocolate chips and tossed them into the cart. “It wouldn’t have been a problem to come take care of you guys.” His head shot up when he realised what he’d said, only to find John staring at him with a crooked smile on his face.

“Yeah, I probably should have,” he said slowly, and he was just like his son in that Derek could practically hear the quiet snick of pieces of some kind of Derek Hale-shaped puzzle slotting together in his brain. Derek felt a flush begin crawling up his throat, prickly and hot, but to his relief John just shed the speculative look and sighed. “Come on, then.”

“Uh, Sir?” Derek asked, but did as ordered and turned his cart to follow John who’d turned back the way he’d come.

“Let me go put this stuff back and we can get some healthy stuff for dinner. Saves us both having to argue with Stiles when we get home.”

Home. The word settled comfortably in Derek’s chest and he had to stare down at his hands wrapped around the cart’s handle to hide his smile. “Keep the steak, Sir,” Derek told him conspiratorially. “I’ll slice it up and put it in a stir fry.”

The sheriff side-eyed him. “You don’t want to use that heart-smart-joy-free crap that Stiles always buys?”

Derek’s smile returned. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

John laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re a good kid, Derek.”

The parental approval warmed Derek from the inside and he sighed happily, pleased when John’s hand lingered for a moment. He wasn’t sure what he’d done to deserve it, but he knew better than to question it.

They continued their shopping, conversing easily as Derek collected the vegetables Stiles liked and the ingredients he needed to make John’s favourite chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. He also added a big box of Froot Loops, which made John snort a laugh.

“Don’t tell me you eat that rubbish too,” he said with a roll of his eyes.

“No,” Derek said disdainfully as he headed further down the aisle looking for the kettle corn, “but Stiles likes to eat it dry when he’s studying, the weirdo.” He felt John’s eyes on him and glanced up, stilling. “What?”

John was silent for a moment, looking as though he was about to say something before hesitating, the first time Derek could ever remember seeing him so off-balance. “Are you in love with Stiles, Son?”

The question was asked gently but Derek still felt all the colour bleed from his face and his stomach tumbled nauseatingly. He couldn’t manage to speak, could barely manage to breathe, but that seemed to be all the answer John needed. He nodded firmly, eyes still locked on Derek, then reached out and gripped his shoulder tightly, ignoring the way Derek flinched from the touch.

“My son could do a whole lot worse than you, kid,” he said easily, then tugged the cart from Derek’s frozen hands and continued pushing it towards the front of the store, Derek following dumbly in his wake.

What the fuck had just happened? To say he was stunned would be the grossest of understatements, but Derek’s brain seemed to be literally incapable of processing the sheriff’s words. Derek completed the transaction in a daze, nodded his agreement to John’s instruction to meet him back at the house, and got into the car. He barely remembered the drive, but when he pulled up to the curb at home he had to take a moment, letting his head drop forwards to rest against the steering wheel and take several deep breaths.

How did the Stilinski men seem to have the inherent ability to crumble the foundation of everything Derek thought he knew about himself so thoroughly from underneath his own feet? How had John managed to see what Derek had refused to allow himself to even contemplate, and then give not even tacit acceptance of it, but outright approval? But before all that, before any of that, how had Stiles managed to slide so quietly and unnoticed beneath Derek’s ribs to nestle against his heart?

Because he had, Derek realised far too late. He had become a part of Derek that Derek no longer knew how to be without, and while that fact should have been terrifying-- was terrifying-- it was still somehow exactly that… a fact. A truth, incontrovertible. But the real question then became what now? Because now Derek could admit it to himself, could still see the warmth in John’s eyes as he somehow approved of Derek’s being in love with his only beloved child, now it became something laden with possibility. Something Derek could maybe be allowed to have.

He inhaled shakily and strove for some semblance of inner calm before he climbed out of the Camaro and carried the groceries inside. He left everything on the counter, John having already disappeared upstairs to shower, to go find Stiles and say hi. Derek found him lying on his stomach on the living room floor, papers and books opened all around him, headphones on, fingers drumming restlessly on the floor as he read something on his laptop.

Derek nudged him with one sock-clad foot, utterly unprepared for the huge smile Stiles directed at him when he realised who it was.

“Hey!” he exclaimed, tearing the earbuds from his ears, tinny music filtering up from them until Stiles paused Spotify on his phone. “I was just thinking about you. What’re you doing here?”

“Ran into your dad at the store, he said you guys have been busy so I came over to make dinner for you,” Derek told him as he sat on the coffee table, his stomach flipping at the idea of Stiles thinking about him when he wasn’t around. “Got the stuff for stir fry instead of the steak-and-potato-salad option he had in his cart.

Stiles scrambled up until he was sitting on his knees in a way that looked supremely uncomfortable. “You talked my dad out of potato salad?” he asked incredulously. “In favour of stir fry?”

“I also bought the stuff for those peanut butter cookies he likes, so don’t get excited.”

The look on Stiles’ face was complicated, but he shuffled a little closer to where Derek was sitting so his knees bumped up against Derek’s toes and they were almost of a height. “I can’t believe you’d do that for him,” he began, but cut himself off and shook his head. “I mean, of course I can, that’s kind of what you do, you’re amazing like that-” He silenced himself suddenly, his beautiful eyes wide and intent as they flickered briefly once, then twice down to Derek’s mouth and back up. The scent of his desire slammed into Derek and roused his own, but he ruthlessly stamped it down. “Derek, can I…” He trailed off, let his eyes rove briefly over the taut line of Derek’s shoulders before sighing a little. “Thanks, Hale.”

Confused, the urgency of the moment sweetening into something softer and less immediate, Derek smiled and held Stiles’ eyes. “I don’t do it just for him,” he admitted quietly, and the sudden ruddiness in Stiles’ cheeks was a reward.

John came down the stairs and didn't so much as bat an eyelid when he saw how close Stiles and Derek were sitting, but he did roll his eyes at Stiles.

“I take it you heard the news,” he said easily. “Derek here somehow managed to bamboozle me into buying vegetables for dinner.”

Derek pretended not to notice the way Stiles’ eyes - so like his father's in intent, if not colour - flicked back and forth between John and himself, slowly putting the puzzle pieces in place just like his dad.

“Would now be a good time to tell you about crossroads demons and making deals with the devil?” Stiles asked seriously with a last piercing look at Derek that promised a Conversation with a capital C sometime soon.

To his credit it only took John a moment, but the sudden flare of panic Derek caught was enough to make him stifle a laugh.

“Over vegetables? Of course you would,” John snorted.

“Hey,” Stiles said as he cambered to his feet, bracing a steadying hand squarely on the middle of Derek’s thigh as he went, and then his shoulder for balance, “I'd deal with Lucifer himself for the people I love.”

He didn't look at Derek at all when he said that, but his hand resting high against Derek’s shoulder let his thumb sweep firmly along his collarbone for a moment, and that one simple touch said more than enough.

 

The three of them moved easily around the kitchen together after almost two years of practice as they made dinner. Stiles and his dad made the stir fry while Derek made the cookie dough and wrapped it up to leave in the fridge until after dinner. When it was cooked, they all sat down together, Derek and Stiles side by side with John sitting opposite them.

“Sent out the last of my college applications today,” Stiles told Derek as they began to eat. “I’ve applied all over the place, so keep your fingers crossed that I get a full ride somewhere.”

“Even if you didn’t, I’d pay it for you,” Derek said sincerely.

“Ugh, how do I keep forgetting you’re, like, obscenely wealthy?” Stiles asked, twisting his fork to capture some noodles and failing spectacularly when they all slid off again. “Why are you even slumming it with us common folk, anyway?”

“You have a comfier couch than I do,” Derek said adroitly, loading his own fork with noodles and smirking at the scowl on Stiles’ face.

He kicked Derek’s foot under the table, then a moment later his own bare foot returned to rest against Derek’s, barely touching where they rested together on the floor. It was still enough to make Derek’s throat hitch for a moment, obvious enough that John raised a curious eyebrow before returning to his own meal. Stiles somehow managed to look shy and preening at the same, truly a feat of anatomy.

“You could buy a better couch with your squillions, though.”

“But then who would I have to sit next to and kick off of it when he gets scared of the D-grade Halloween movie he chose on the stormiest night we’d had in a year when he screamed at a loud clap of thunder?”

“How curiously specific of you to consider that exact eventuality,” Stiles said primly, pinching Derek’s thigh and making him huff out a startled laugh.

“Fine, you got me,” Derek rolled his eyes, nudging Stiles’ glass towards him to get him to take a drink. “I really just miss having a yard of my own that I can piss all over to establish territory.”

Stiles’ spit-take was a thing of beauty, but the deep belly laugh that followed was even better. Derek watched with a wide grin of his own as Stiles clutched at his stomach and tried to wipe water off his chin, only to dissolve into hysterical laughter again when it looked like he was about to settle.

That should have been it, Derek thought to himself afterwards, but Stiles had instead sighed, smelling so strongly of happysafehomecontented love that Derek couldn’t breathe. Which was bad enough, but then Stiles had reached over and curled his hand around the back of Derek’s neck and it had been so long, so fucking long since anyone had touched him like that without design or agenda or intent, like he was family and was loved enough to be worthy of this simple reassurance of affection that Derek had frozen, eyes wide in startled bewilderment.

But the nail in the coffin had been Stiles gently smiling like he knew what his touch was doing to Derek-- because this was Stiles, so of course he knew-- eyes all lit up and open and honest and steady on Derek’s when he spoke.

“I love you, you know.”

And Derek knew, okay? He could tell from the utter lack of arousal in the air that Stiles meant familial love, and the platonic philia love between friends. There was no ulterior motive, no expectation, not so much as a hint of anything other than stark honesty. Even the usually-rapid thump of Stiles’ heart had slowed a little and calmed, as though saying the words had helped the world become a better place for him, even if it was only for a moment. The last time Derek had received such easy and uncomplicated love had been when his family was still alive, when he’d been able to reciprocate that love unabashedly and without even the concept of rejection to regulate his response.

It was family, Derek realised, sitting next to him with a hand on his neck and across from him with kind eyes and generous heart. Somehow, in spite of his own best efforts and shortcomings, Derek had managed to find his way back to family. So he leaned forward, eyes open to revel in the way Stiles’ mouth widened in an enormous smile as he realised what was happening, and kissed him, feeling his own puzzle pieces finally coming together, complete.

Derek lifted his hands and cradled Stiles’ perfect, beautiful face within them, using his touch to explain just how much he meant to Derek, what he was worth in his eyes and how he would spend the rest of their forever worshipping him for allowing Derek to have it all. Stiles laughed delightedly against his mouth and grabbed the front of his shirt to pull him closer, tilting his head slightly to kiss him deeply, their tongues sliding briefly together before he withdrew, cheeks flushed and eyes glittering with something that looked suspiciously like tears.

“I love you too,” Derek told him, lips brushing against Stiles’ cheek as he spoke the words in a voice quieter than a whisper, but Stiles heard him. He always did. He laughed again and grabbed one of Derek’s hands, dragging it to his mouth to press a firm, lingering kiss to the back of it before letting go and wiping his eyes unapologetically, smile still firmly in place.

Movement caught his eye and Derek glanced up to see John positively beaming at them, his faded blue eyes just as expressive as Stiles’. He sat back in his chair with the air of a man ecstatically pleased with his lot in life, and Derek thought maybe he could have done a whole lot worse in the dad-department himself.

Conversation gradually resumed and Derek had to laugh as they were clearing the table when he looked from Stiles to John and back again and found them both radiating their happiness as they both seemed incapable of wiping the smiles from their faces.

“This is fucking surreal,” Stiles grinned, bumping Derek’s hip with his own as they stood at the sink together. He turned his face to Derek, expectant, and accepted the kiss Derek offered as his due, then changed it from easy and affectionate to deep and intense without so much as touching Derek.

“Dishes first, you two,” John told them as he packed the leftovers away in a container and stored it in the fridge, but he still wore a smile when he left out the back door and onto the porch.

They did as ordered, trading looks and touches in the form of nudges and shoulder bumps, and when they were done Derek took Stiles’ hand in his and led him outside to where John was sitting on the back steps. Stiles sat next to him, Derek next to Stiles, and when John stretched his arm over the top of Stiles’ shoulders to let his hand come to rest on Derek’s, he felt like he’d come home for the first time since he’d lost it.

*

Later that night, hours after John had retired to bed with a hug so long and encompassing and loving that Derek had thought for a moment he might break down and cry, he and Stiles lay together on Stiles’ bed, entwined from chest to ankles and trading kisses and murmured confessions in the dark room.

The alarm clock on the bedside ticked over to eleven p.m. when Stiles ran a curious fingertip over Derek’s bottom lip, pressing gently at it before touching his fingertip into his philtrum and smiling at how perfectly it fit.

“I didn’t expect this, you know,” Stiles said eventually. “When I told you I love you. I wasn’t expecting anything.”

“I know,” Derek smiled. “I can tell.” He curles a finger and runs the back of his knuckle over Stiles’ nose and then down to tap it over his chest over his heart. “It’s the most honest thing anyone has said to me in a really long time.”

“I’m glad you know that,” Stiles whispers back, his eyes glittering darkly where the meagre light of the room catches them. “I’ll spend forever proving it to you, though, just to make sure.” He fell silent for a moment, suddenly uncertain for the first time since Derek had kissed him.

“What is it?” Derek murmured, ever-so-slowly dragging his nose up the front of Stiles’ throat and the underside of his jaw.

“Whatever you want, however you want it,” Stiles told him breathlessly in a rush, his hands clenching convulsively at Derek’s back. “If it’s never anything more than this, or if it’s everything- whatever. We’ll make it work, Derek, I promise.”

Pulling himself out of his reverie as the importance of Stiles’ words began to filter in, Derek closed his eyes against the rush of emotion that flooded through him, pressing his face against the smooth skin of Stiles’ throat.

“Everything, Stiles. I want everything with you. Anything you’ll give me, in return for whatever you want to take.” It shook him, the honesty and implications behind that declaration, but he stood by it.

“Never more than you choose to give,” Stiles swore. He caught Derek’s mouth with his own made his promise an oath. “If you want,” he added eventually, “I wouldn’t be averse to starting now.”

The low-level arousal that had been simmering between them for hours (days, months, years) flared bright and strong, and Drek groaned as he tightened his arms around Stiles and rolled them so that Stiles was lying on top of him, resting in the vee of his legs. They kissed languidly, content to take their time exploring each other, Derek allowing one hand to curl in Stiles’ hair and the other to slip beneath the hem of his shirt to rest hot against skin, fingertips caressing and stroking covetously.

Stiles smiled before licking into Derek’s mouth at the same time as he felt Derek’s fingertips slip beneath the waist of his pants and his hips jerked slightly, both of them sighing like a feedback loop of pleasure as Derek’s cock jerked and he bucked up against Stiles. His hands tightened and held Stiles still for a moment, hearts racing in tandem, until Derek felt he had a firmer hold of his desire.

“Don’t,” Stiles laughed, teasing him with a sultry roll of his hips. “I want it, Derek; want you . So this time, it’s gonna last about twelve seconds because, let’s face it, I have fantasised about this for literally years. But next time-- well, maybe half a minute, but after that, I’m going to spend hours taking you apart. I want to bury myself so deep beneath your skin that you will never be rid of me, sweetheart, want to make it so good for you until you can’t stand it anymore.” His hips moved rhythmically against Derek’s frotting slowly and steadily in a pattern that was going to drive Derek out of his freaking mind.

“Wanna feel your hands all over me, your mouth, your scent. Want you to mark me up, beautiful- think you can do that for me? Leave bites and bruises for everyone to see so they know that I’m yours?”

Whining softly from the back of his throat, Derek used his grip on Stiles’ hips to pull him closer this time, making sure their cocks were perfectly aligned as he planted his feet flat on the bed and began meeting every thrust in perfect synchrony.

“Yeah, love, like that. Oh my god you feel so fucking perfect beneath me. Shit, can I fuck you? If not, that’s cool, because I am so down for having you fuck me, but if you’re into that, can I?”

Derek’s already-tenuous self-control snapped as his cheeks burned with Stiles’ words and the bottomless pool of arousal Stiles had created began to rise from the depths of his groin to curl around the bottom of his spine and upwards.. “Yeah, all of it,” he ground out from between clenched teeth. He shoved his hands down the back of Stiles’ pants to palm the flexing muscles of his ass, skin hot and sweat-damp and so perfect Derek could barely comprehend it.

“Like this?” Stiles asked desperately between sucking kisses to the skin on Derek’s collarbones. “Can I fuck you like this so I can watch you when I slide my dick inside? Please, Derek, please?”

“Jesus… fuck… Stiles,Derek choked out, and then he was coming, pulsing hard and hot between them as Stiles laughed breathlessly and stared down where their hips met as though if he tried hard enough he could see Derek’s dick jerking and drooling come all over his groin.

“Oh god, you’re so perfect, so beautiful, Derek you’re mine, I love you, I love you,he sobbed, back bowing and head thrown back with the force of his own orgasm. His heart was sonorous thunder in Derek’s ears, and the way he smelled, like sex and claim and owned and owner made it feel like there was something coming loose in Derek’s chest, something sharp that had been there so long he’d forgotten what it felt like for it not to hurt.

The sudden sensation of wholeness was shocking, and he gasped with it as Stiles collapsed against his chest, the two of them holding each other as close as they could as they slowly came down, hearts and breathing slowing, hands gentle and soft. Stiles murmured wordless sounds of praise and gratitude against his ear as he carefully smoothed hair back from Derek’s forehead until Derek turned his face to kiss him again.

“You let me know when you’re ready for another half a minute of that, okay?” he said eventually as his eyes dropped closed, and the way Stiles’ body shook with his laughter was exhilarating to feel.

“Give me five and I’ll be ready to go,” Stiles laughed as he rolled off and onto his back, slinging one leg over Derek’s and lacing their fingers together. “Mine, mine, mine,” he murmured drowsily after a while, and when Derek opened his eyes and turned his head it was to find Stiles watching him, eyes sleepy but alert, expression honest and exposed.

“Yours, yours, yours,” he promised in return, and that’s how they fell asleep.

 

When Derek stumbled blearily downstairs the next morning in search of coffee, still half-asleep and definitely mostly-dazed, it was to find John standing in the hall about to leave for work.

“Oh- morning, Sir,” he managed to get out, anxiety suddenly crashing over him, discordant against the euphoria he’d been coasting on since the night previous.

“Morning, Son,” the sheriff replied, still as calm and happy as he’d been the night before. He slipped into his jacket and pinned on his badge.

The silence was awkward, Derek not sure if he should comment on the fact that he had spent the night with Stiles or whether he would be better off just slipping into the kitchen to avoid a Talk altogether, when John spoke.

“Be careful with his heart, kiddo,” he said quietly, waiting for a moment with his hand on the door handle. “You break it and there’s a whole lotta smackdown headed your way.”

“I won’t, Sir,” Derek said sincerely, but John just smiled widely and glanced up and over his shoulder.

“I wasn’t talking to you, Derek,” he said easily, then he smiled once more and left for work, the front door closing softly behind him.

Derek turned to find Stiles sitting on the top step, calm rolling off him in glass-slick waves as he watched Derek. He was so gorgeous like this, hair in disarray and one cheek sleep-creased where he sat and reached across his own chest to scratch idly at his shoulder. “He would, you know.”

Lost in his admiration, Derek raised his eyebrows in question. As though he knew the exact bent of Derek’s thoughts, Stiles smirked slow and with lascivious promise. Derek didn’t even try to resist him, just climbed the stairs until he could sit next to Stiles and drew him close to kiss him senseless, fucking into his mouth with his tongue until they were both breathless and glassy-eyed.

“Dad,” Stiles said eventually, the shine of spit on his lip a tantalising invitation.

“Wha?” Derek asked, confused.

Stiles laughed and dragged his nails gently through Derek’s beard, making him shiver. “Dad loves you. If anything ever happened, he’d kick my ass halfway to hell and back.”

“I love him too,” Derek said shyly, his heart aching for a number of reasons as he said the words. “But it goes both ways. I’ll keep you safe, too.”

Stiles’ smile was like the sun rising and warmed him even more. “Of that I have no doubt.” He kissed Derek again, lingering and slow, before pulling away and getting to his feet, reaching down to pull Derek to standing with a strong and capable hand. “Now come and help me make breakfast. We can make egg and bacon sandwiches and take a couple in and have lunch with Dad later.”

“Real bacon?” Derek asked, following Stiles back downstairs and into the kitchen.

“Hell yes,” Stiles smiled, pulling bacon from the fridge as Derek began making coffee. “He’s awesome, and he deserves it.”

*

Later, after having eaten lunch with John in the break room of the station, the sheriff walked them out.

“I’ll be a late home today, though, so don’t wait for me when you want dinner.”

“Sure thing, Dad,” Stiles said, pulling his phone from his pocket and swiping it unlocked as he wandered off towards the car.

“We’ll make sure there’s a plate ready for you whenever you get home,” Derek promised.

“Good man. Now get out of here, I’ve got work to do.”

“Bye, Dad,” Derek said shyly, his hesitation over the name barely noticeable.

“Bye, Son,” John smiled, wide and pleased. “See you at home.”

Derek thought that sounded perfect.