It starts with a cactus.
Stiles presents it to Derek the moment he rolls open the door to the loft, giving him a bright smile as he does. “It looked grumpy, sitting there in the store. Reminded me a lot of you,” he says cheerfully. Derek’s at least as prickly as a cactus, anyway. “It’s name is Fred,” he adds, handing it off.
Derek takes it with a scowl, and Stiles sort of expects him to throw it away.
But when he stops by the loft a few days later, the cactus is there on the sill of Derek’s giant living room window, carefully centered.
The thing is, cacti don’t really require much care at all. They’re pretty boring, if he’s being completely honest.
So, he gets Derek a fern next, one that’s large and robust, with deep green leaves and long fronds. Looking at it reminds Stiles of something prehistoric, and he thinks that’s pretty neat.
But though it needs more frequent watering than the cactus, it still doesn’t do much. It doesn’t grow fast, and it doesn’t flower. It came potted in a decorative basket, and that’s probably the most exciting thing about it.
Derek needs something better.
Stiles stops by to admire Ferny and Fred after he hands Derek the amaryllis, it’s leaves already starting to emerge from the bulb. “It’ll be a beautiful flower,” he says to Derek’s exasperated face before he goes.
After that it’s a miniature rose bush, because Derek seems like the kind of guy to enjoy the delicate, careful pruning it’ll need. And it’s not like Derek doesn’t have the time.
Stiles is deep into his second semester now, and doesn’t have as much time for plant shopping as he’d like. But driving down to Beacon Hills to see Derek is his treat for getting all of his work done, so that at least keeps him motivated.
He gives Derek a cherry tomato plant next, because his balcony isn’t being used to it’s full potential at all. His tiny college apartment only has two windows, and the whole place is so dimly-lit that he can barely keep a spider plant alive. He’s honestly a little jealous of Derek’s abundance of natural light.
He briefly considers getting Derek a bunch of other crops in big pots—lima beans and soy and a deep one for carrots, maybe even a strawberry or pepper plant.
But he knows Derek will just frown, and say something like I go to the grocery store regularly now, Stiles. He can be really defensive about things like that.
He does like the idea of getting Derek plants that are “useful” in more than just a decorative or air-cleaning way. So he goes for herbs next, getting Derek rosemary, sage, and mint.
And though Derek pointedly sighs or rolls his eyes or shakes his head, each plant Stiles gives him ends up with the others, all carefully arranged to give each of them the maximum amount of light. It’s like a tiny indoor garden, and it makes the loft look more vibrant, gives it some life.
It seems to be getting Derek out into the world a little more, too. Stiles notices things like little shears and a container of fertilizer and a fresh bag of potting soil appearing in the loft. He can tell that most of Derek’s frowns and scowls are purely for show, now. Sometimes Stiles even catches him smiling, and it makes his heart feel too big for his chest.
He thinks Derek might continue to accept plants forever, but the day he brings a container of jasmine and a tiny pot with aloe vera is apparently the day Derek decides to draw the line.
“Stiles,” he says with a heavy, long-suffering sigh, but he notably takes both of the plants anyway. “You know the loft isn’t a greenhouse, right?”
“It could be,” Stiles says immediately. “Look how well they’re all doing.” It’s true. The plants all look amazing. The amaryllis in particular is stunning, blooming a bright, brilliant red. Stiles is convinced that super senses make werewolves naturally excellent gardeners.
“Did you change your major to plant science without telling me?” Derek asks, setting the new arrivals down on the kitchen table. “Why do you keep bringing me all of these?”
“Well, it kind of started as a joke, with Fred. But then it looked so much nicer in here with that little plant, it really brightened things up,” Stiles says. Before, all Derek would do in front of that huge window was read ancient tomes and look sad, and he didn’t want that for Derek, not at all. Now Derek spends time in front of that window pruning and watering and fertilizing, speaking softly to the plants all the while. And Stiles has no proof of it, but he has a sneaking suspicion that Derek has moved to reading books he actually wants to read, rather than books he feels like he needs to read to keep them all safe.
“And it looked really good, and you were taking really good care of all of them,” Stiles keeps rambling, because he can’t seem to stop. “And I was always thinking about what plants you’d like, and how you’d pretend you didn’t want them but you really did, and it seemed like they were maybe making you happy? And that’s what I wanted, really, was—”
Stiles’ stream of words is cut off by Derek suddenly being right there in front of him, kissing him. Stiles reels back, lips tingling and heart fluttering, surprise nearly overtaking his excitement.
“Was that not what you were getting to?” Derek asks, suddenly looking hesitant. “I thought that you—”
“You were absolutely right,” Stiles says, deciding it’s his turn to interrupt. “That’s where I was heading, it was just going to take me forever to get there.” Then he pulls Derek into another kiss, because he didn’t get to really enjoy the first one.
Stiles discovers that Derek’s little plant collection looks amazing in the early morning light, and watches the sun rise as he drinks coffee and leans contentedly against Derek’s side.