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The Spaces Between the Words

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Stiles rests his chin on the heels of his palms, whistling through the little hole in the lid of his pen. He knows how much it annoys Jackson, so he makes sure to do it every shift, and now it’s become habit whether Jackson is there or not.

He stares through the foggy window at the road outside, currently obscured by a curtain of heavy rain. He sighs. He likes the rain, but it usually means business is slow, and Stiles doesn’t really do slow. He’s wiped down every table and chair, re-filled the sugar, salt and pepper stashed behind every menu, and whipped up a new soup recipe in the hope that there may at some stage be an actual real-life customer.

He starts to absently doodle sketches onto napkins – the sort of silly cartoons he and Scott would have exchanged back in high school, during boring classes. He shoves aside the pang of longing that washes over him in favour of setting a reminder on his phone to facetime with Scott later. He isn’t really inclined to wallow in his homesickness, preferring where possible to figure out some sort of plan of action to make himself feel better. He’s been in London for over a year now, so he’s getting pretty good at figuring out how to distract himself. He pens out a cartoon of Scott as Wolverine, bangs falling thickly over his forehead as he wields a guitar in the air. He adds the caption ‘I don’t like metal guitar but I LOVE to shred!’ and smirks to himself a little, tucking it into the apron that’s wrapped round his waist, so he can send it to Scott tomorrow.

He thanks all the gods daily for quick convenience of skype and facetime, but he loves sending little tokens by snail-mail too, things he finds that he thinks Scott and his dad will appreciate. There’s nothing quite like getting a parcel from home; holding the physical representation of someone’s love and care in his hands. It’s like the Californian sunshine has somehow seeped into the packaging and has waited until it can unfurl through his skin, spreading warmth through his veins.

He jumps a little when the bell rings to signify someone’s arrival, barely stopping his elbows from sliding out from under him to slam his chin into the counter top. He straightens up awkwardly and adjusts his apron and then his glasses.

‘Hey, man,’ Stiles catches a glimpse of the new arrival out of the corner of his eye, and gets a definite impression of tall and ruggedly handsome. He’s a little older than Stiles would usually go for, but he has pretty eyes and great bone structure, and if nothing else he's given Stiles a purpose in life for the next hour or so. His shift is suddenly looking up. ‘Come on in!’ He claps his hands together heartily. ‘We welcome all those who seek shelter from the storm!’

The man just stands, dripping gently onto the reclaimed wooden floorboards, and looks at him. Stiles wonders if he’s been stunned into silence by the force of the rain which has left him sodden from head to toe.

Stiles is undeterred by his silence. ‘You really got caught in the downpour, huh? Can I get you something to warm your cockles?’

The man narrows his pretty, blue, unimpressed eyes. ‘What?’

Stiles watches him with interest as he shucks his soaking jacket, impressed at how put-together the guy still appears to be. He himself does not pull off ‘wet cat’ nearly as well, even though under Stiles’ curious inspection the guy seems to be rapidly segueing into ‘grumpy cat’. Oops.

‘Figure of speech,’ Stiles explains, suddenly realising how it might have sounded. The guy just keeps staring so Stiles keeps pouring out words to try to fill up the silence. ‘It’s not a come-on. I’m not, like, hitting on you. It’s actually to do with your heart. You know, the ventricles? Sometimes people call them cochleae cordis.’

The man frowns. ‘You’re offering me something to warm my heart?’

American. Interesting.

‘Um,’ Stiles feels heat creep up the back of his neck because the guy really is quite a bit older than Stiles would usually go for, and something about his expression is hard, almost calculating, even though he’s clearly hot as hell. ‘Well I meant it in a sort of ‘can I get you a delicious beverage to bring you warmth and contentment on this nasty-ass day’ way. Usually people know the expression. I take it you, uh, didn’t?’

‘No.’ Grumpy-guy frowns a little, then rubs a hand over his stubbled chin. It makes a faint rasping noise that leaves Stiles a little weak at the knees. The biceps that strain the cotton of his sleeves don’t help, either. ‘I’ll take a tea, though. And…’ He steps closer and leans his hands on the edge of the wooden counter top. Stiles swallows audibly as the guy flicks his eyes over him, obvious and appraising.

The guy nods once, apparently satisfied with what he sees. ‘I’ll take a moment of your time, if I may? I have a proposition for you.’

Stiles pushes his glass back up onto the bridge of his nose. ‘What sort of proposition?’ His heart thumps madly in his chest, although it’s not quite the usual sweet-sharp anticipation of being asked on a date. If Stiles is completely honest, the feeling is shot through with something a little uncomfortable. Something that feels like fear.

‘My name is Peter, and I was wondering…’ Peter gestures to the pot of hot soup, behind Stiles, ‘…if you do home deliveries?’


A few hours later, Stiles stands nervously outside a hotel room door, the anxious shuffling of his feet muffled by the plush carpet that lines the hallway. Everything about the place says luxury and discretion and hush, and Stiles-in-soggy-chucks does not say any of those things. He scrunches his nose up as his socks squelch against the inside of his shoes. At least he's technically off-shift now, and can go right home to a hot shower after this.

His rap on the door is so incongruously loud that he can’t help but wince and cast a few looks around him, just in case some burly security guy materialises out of one of the walls, picks him up bodily and escorts him away. Stiles gives himself a half-second to explore that further because it’s not, like, the worst fantasy he’s ever had. Maybe there’d be handcuffs. He barely gets himself in check enough to spin around in time when he hears the click of the door latch.

He figures he might be a little pink cheeked (and maybe a tiny bit glazed over, if he’s completely honest), and a lot gawky and out of place, but that still doesn’t really account for the depth of the disdain in the gaze levelled at him from the one eye visible in the inch-wide crack that appears between the door and the frame.

He stops himself from rearing back a step because really, fuck this judgy eye (not, like, literally, obviously, because ew). Instead he opts for his friendliest wave. ‘Uh, hey,’ he says, ‘I’m Stiles.’

‘You’re a what.’ The response comes in a male voice that’s just as judgy as the eye to which it presumably belongs.

‘I’m a Stiles,’ says Stiles, then, ‘No wait, I’m not a Stiles, I’m the Stiles. Not in like, a celebrity way, not, like, The Edge or whatever, just, I am Stiles. Stiles is me. See?’ He does vague jazz hands in the vicinity of his face, and the movement makes his messenger bag bump against his hip which reminds him, oh right - ‘And because it’s your typical London summer it is of course, soup weather. So… voila. Soup.’ He finishes, lamely, gesturing to his messenger bag.

‘Soup?’ says the voice. It sounds appalled.

Stiles takes exception to that, because his soup is fucking excellent, fuck you very much judgy disembodied voice. ‘Look, dude,’ he says, taking a frustrated step towards the door. ‘Peter sent me, he paid me in advance, I’m right here with your goddamn soup, do you want it, or not?’

Some part of that seems to be the magic password, because, after a heart-beat’s worth of hesitation, the door swings inwards, revealing a slightly dishevelled but entirely gorgeous man who is in fact in possession of two (rather lovely greeny-bluey-grayish) eyes, although now both of them are levelling that pissed-off, scowly glare at Stiles.

Stiles finds he’s willing to overlook that though, by focusing his own attention elsewhere – like on the guy’s inky-soft hair, or on the thick tendons of his neck, or on the wide musculature of his shoulders beneath his expensively distressed tee, or the powerful thighs that are giving the seams of some designer jeans a hard time.

There’s a loud, pointed cough, which makes Stiles wrench his gaze back upwards. ‘Hi,’ he says again, lamely.

The guy’s bold, aggressively expressive eyebrows are both raised. ‘Are you coming in, or what?’

‘Coming in?’ Stiles licks his lips unconsciously, but is entirely, painfully conscious of the guy’s eyes tracking the movement.

Oh. A tiny flicker of something lights up in Stiles’ chest.

‘You generally do this sort of thing in hotel hallways?’ One eyebrow moves ever so slightly and all of a sudden the guy looks half amused, half impatient. Stiles is muzzily aware of bare toes below the jeans, which is oddly sweet given how inexplicably scowly and mad the guy seems to be.

‘Um.’ Stiles blinks. He doesn’t generally do many of the cafe's home – or hotel – deliveries at all, because Jackson insists he’s the better equipped of the two socially, which, whatever, Jackson’s a dick and probably just wants to pocket the tips. So honestly, he’d expected to shove the soup container (biodegradable bamboo because London is hipster heaven) at the guy and make tracks, but it occurs to him now that maybe men in very plush hotel rooms in very plush hotels expect counter-to-counter service. ‘I don’t know. No?’

‘You don’t know?’

Stiles frowns a little. Is this guy even capable of communicating in something other than questions? ‘Look, I don’t know, dude,’ Stiles says, toeing at the carpet impatiently, grimacing all over again at the damp misery of his footwear. ‘You’re the one with the cockles that need warming, okay, it’s your call.’

The guy makes a noncommittal noise somewhere in the back of his very sexy, very bite-able throat, and steps backwards to allow Stiles in.

Evidently counter-to-counter service is required. Stiles holds back an eye roll because at least it gives him a little more time to ogle the perfection of the guy in front of him, and breathe in a few good lungfuls of the air here because whatever fucking delicious aftershave the guy is wearing has subtly permeated the whole room. It’s woodsy and masculine and makes Stiles embarrassingly weak at the knees.

He clears his throat and makes to pass the guy, heading towards what seems to be the opening to the rest of the suite. He reaches around for his messenger bag and is about to pull out the soup, when all of a sudden he feels strong, warm fingers wrapping around his wrist, yanking him backwards until he’s up against the wall behind the now-closed door, pinned under the weight of the sexiest guy he’s seen in all his twenty three years of life.

‘Woah, hey, okay, happening...’ he says, breathlessly, as the guy simultaneously buries his face in his neck and grabs Stiles by the thighs, hitching him up so he can wrap his legs around his waist.

It vaguely occurs to Stiles that he should probably be putting up some sort of token protest because he doesn’t even know the guy’s name, let alone his star sign or god forbid his number, but then, he never has been one to look a gift horse in the mouth (especially not when said gift horse’s mouth is so very pleasantly occupied sucking open mouthed kisses at the hinge of Stiles’ jaw and down his neck until a warm, wet tongue starts to trace over his collarbone).

He tries to remember whatever Very Good Thing he did that has earned him this much karmic excellence, but nothing comes to mind so he decides not to question his luck any further.

It finally dawns on him that he should probably do something other than clutch desperately at the smooth wall beneath his fingers. The guy certainly doesn’t seem like he’ll be dropping Stiles any time soon – quite the opposite, in fact, given the amount of power that seems to be coiled up in the guy’s solid frame - so Stiles removes his glasses, letting them dangle from the hand currently resting on Mr Handsome Hook-Up’s shoulder because he’s awkward as fuck and has no idea what else to do with them (aren’t glasses supposed to be sexy, not awkward? He obviously managed to miss that class in college, what the fuck).

He lifts his other hand to slide it up the back of the guy’s neck, through the black hair that’s as soft as it had looked, and spreads his fingers to cradle his head. The guy responds to the tug on his hair with a gratifyingly gruff groan – almost a growl, really - that shivers right through Stiles’ chest and settles somewhere at the base of his pelvis.

He bucks his hips unconsciously in response to the sweet-sharp ache, hissing gently when the guy rolls his own in reply, twisting his torso just right so they’re lined up against each other. The guy presses his hips in harder to hold Stiles in place while he rucks up his shirt, palming up Stiles’ stomach, growling again, deep and feral, when he gets his mouth on one of Stiles’ nipples. All Stiles can do is tip his head back against the wall and wish on all the stars that are currently shooting up his spine that this isn’t a dream – or if it is, that he won’t wake up before the really good part.

It seems the gods are smiling on him today because the guy is now working at the button on Stiles’ chinos with fingers that are long and strong enough to make Stiles’ mouth water when he imagines how they’d feel on him, in him, wrapped around him. The fingers pause right as they’re about to dip below the waistband of Stiles’ boxers.

‘Is this okay?’ The guy’s voice is soft, hesitant compared to the assertiveness of his actions.

Stiles swallows hard a few times, trying to find his voice, but it seems to have fled south along with most of his blood, so all he can do is nod. Enthusiastically. So enthusiastically he nearly ends up head-butting the guy in his stupidly cute, stupidly perfect nose, but he manages to miss him by a hair. The guy laughs then, and okay, Stiles is fucking in love because holy god this guy is gorgeous but he also has the cutest teeth and his eyes crinkle at the edges and his everything is rapidly giving Stiles a heart boner to rival his actual boner (which is saying something because Stiles doesn’t think he’s ever been this hard in his life before).

‘Good,’ the guy says in that soft, gruff voice, and somehow he’s managed to get his own pants undone while Stiles was blinded into incoherency by his smile, and wow is this guy good at multi-tasking. He catches Stiles’ gaze, eyes blown and needy, and holds it while he slides his fingers down the groove of Stiles hips and back into his underwear, circling his dick so tenderly it makes Stiles want to cry or sing or something. He frees Stiles from the confines of his underwear, and Stiles might be embarrassed by how hard and wet and needy he already is, only the guy doesn’t seem to be faring any better when he reaches for himself.

He presses their lengths against each other, all searing, throbbing skin and wet-wanting slide, and Stiles can hardly breathe at how hot it is. The guy must be like what he sees too, because he makes a noise of base satisfaction in his throat, and then takes them both in one of those strong, capable hands and strokes them right to the tip.

Stiles’ breath comes back, then, falling from his throat in a guttural gasp that doesn’t even sound like him, but it makes the guy’s pupils dilate even further in his pretty, foresty eyes, and he starts working them both over like he means it.

And Stiles is – Stiles is fucking helpless to it, so blissfully lost to the stroke of the guy’s hand and the heat of his hardness against him that he can’t remember how to speak or move, so he just gives himself over to how good it is.

And fuck, it’s so good, not enough and way too much and when the man murmurs, ‘You smell… god…,’ against his skin, voice and hips stuttering, the knowledge that Stiles has turned this beautiful man on that much that has Stiles spilling warm and wet over that powerful, talented hand.

The guy groans, letting Stiles’ release ease his strokes but not stopping.

Stiles whines a little from the over-stimulation, shocked into silence when the guy kisses him, the barest brush of mouths to kiss the sound right from his lips. The guy tastes like whiskey and want, and his lips curve at the corners when he murmurs, ‘You can take it, can’t you baby? For me?’

Stiles licks into his mouth and clutches at his shoulders in affirmation - truthfully, he can’t think of a single thing he wouldn’t do in the face of this devastating combination of animalistic lust and sweet affection – and lets himself feel a marrow-deep satisfaction at the bruising, clumsy kiss the guy presses to his mouth as he comes, just a few strokes later.

They slide bonelessly to the floor together, a sweaty, viscid tangle, chests heaving. Stiles can’t see the guy’s face since it’s pressed back into the curve of his shoulder, and he doesn’t know what to do with the silence that falls over them, so as soon as he can feel his hands again he braves fisting them into the fabric of the guy’s shirt to try and make sure he doesn’t disappear.

‘Holy fuck,’ he says, into the salty-savoury skin of the guy’s neck, trying to calm the frantic hammering of his heart. ‘Who are you?’

There’s a huff of hot breath into his clavicle, though whether it’s in amusement or frustration Stiles can’t tell. The guy buries his face impossibly further into Stiles’ shoulder, so Stiles can only barely hear him when he says, ‘Derek.’

Stiles flattens his hands, pulling Derek in for something approximating a hug, and says, ‘Hi, Derek,’ because he’s a massive dork like that, but it’s not like shaking hands is exactly appropriate for the moment either, so.

Derek takes a deep breath and sits up so Stiles can finally see him, the sweat dampening his hairline, the pink of his cheeks and neck, and the teeth marks Stiles had bitten into his lip. He looks freshly sexed, rumpled, and fucking glorious.

Derek ducks his head under Stiles’ unabashed stare and says uncertainly, ‘Do you… usually shower? Or…?’

‘Um.’ Stiles blinks, nonplussed, because what sort of question is that? ‘After wall sex with hot strangers in random hotels?’

Derek’s face falls for a second before he hauls it back into stoicism, which, weird but maybe he’s just not into Stiles’ particular brand of sarcasm. It’s not like they’d had much of a chance to find out before Derek had jumped his bones. ‘Yeah. After that,’ Derek says curtly.

And then Derek’s jumping to his feet, way too gracefully for a guy of his size, really, Stiles thinks, unable to stop one of his hands twitching in an aborted attempt to reach out for him. Derek doesn’t see though, since he’s disappeared through a door off to one side, and there’s the sound of running water as he presumably washes away all evidence that he and Stiles ever engaged in hand to glans combat.

‘Shower’s in here if you do want it,’ Derek calls, and something about his voice is different – harder, more closed off. ‘And, uh, you said Peter paid you already?’

‘Alrighty,’ Stiles mutters under his breath. ‘Guess that’s it, then.’

He gets to his feet, shakily, straightening up his clothes and doing his chinos up. He feels vulnerable enough without being all on display. He didn’t expect a marriage proposal or anything, but he doesn’t see why Derek couldn’t be at least a little friendly even now Stiles has his pants back on.

Derek reappears, freshly scrubbed and sort of glowery, and brisk in a way that makes it clear the sex is something Not To Be Discussed.

Stiles polishes his glasses with the hem of his tee, until he realises he’s probably just making them dirtier, slipping them onto his nose with a small grimace. He makes a grab for the messenger bag that had slipped to the floor sometime in the early stages of Derek debauching him against a wall without warning.

‘What are you doing?’ And wow, Derek’s almost snarling now, which is making Stiles simultaneously (and somewhat confusingly) a little scared, fairly pissed off, and a lot turned on.

‘Your, uh, soup,’ he mutters, fumbling uselessly with the clasp of the bag which has evidently been invented by the same guy that came up with the Rubik’s cube.

Derek snorts. ‘You bring soup to all your customers?’

Stiles frowns at the derision in his tone as he finally figures out the clasp and sets to rummaging through random papers, loose change, half-packs of gum and a few unidentifiable cables until his fingers find the receipt from Peter. ‘Sure. Unless they want sandwiches, or, like, scones.’

He glances up to find Derek looking at him like he’s certifiable, which is a little rich given that Derek is clearly a sociopath or a nymphomaniac, or some combo of the two (a nym-ociopath? Is that a thing? It should be a thing because that is totally what Derek is).

He bristles a little at the shame he feels prickling at his cheeks, because Derek was just as complicit in their random hook up as he was - arguably more so - so he doesn’t see why the judgy eyes are back, and he’ll be damned if he’s letting Derek glower him out of the room like he’s the nym-ociopath here.

He shoulders past Derek into the large hotel room, which is tidier than Stiles’ would have been but oddly dark owing to all the drapes being shut tight, despite there being several more hours of August evening light left. He shivers a little at the chill of the air-conditioning – jesus, what is this guy doing, trying to make this into a cave? – and shoves the container of soup onto the low table between two armchairs.

He turns to Derek, raising his nose as high in the air as he can, and asks haughtily, ‘Clearly I’m not about to bought dinner or anything, but could I at least have some water?’

‘Oh.’ He can’t be sure in the low light, but Derek seems to blush before he says, ‘Sure. Yeah.’ He crosses the room in long strides (not that Stiles is watching his legs or his ass as he does so, obviously), and grabs a bottle of water from the top of a small dresser.

He tosses it over, and Stiles only fumbles the catch a little (he attributes the bungle wholly to the uselessness of Finstock both as a coach and as a man), which he chooses to ignore in favour of not spilling water all over himself. He manages to twist off the cap and down about half of it like a normal human being which he’s fucking proud of himself for, especially considering that Derek watches him intently the entire time.

He can’t control the blush that creeps up his neck, though, pressing the cool bottle to his over-heated cheeks to try and subdue the technicolor event currently happening all over his skin.

Derek’s eyes are still trained on him but he doesn’t say anything, which is hella awkward, so Stiles looks around for some sort of distraction.

He should leave, he knows, but he’s fucking stubborn and sort of an asshole and he wants to piss Derek off as much as Derek’s pissed him off because fair’s fair, after all.

His eyes alight on an open suitcase that’s been set reverently on a dresser, lid propped open to display about thirty carefully packed books. ‘Holy shit,’ Stiles says, ‘Did you bring all these with you?’

Derek makes a noncommittal sort of noise that Stiles decides means, ‘Why yes, yes I did, please feel free to take a closer look my good fellow,’ so he does, leaning in close and running his fingers reverently over the spines. All the books are well worn and well loved, spines creased and cracked – books at their most beautiful, in Stiles’ opinion. But still. ‘This must have cost you a ton in baggage charges – have you never heard of a kindle?’

In his peripheral vision, Derek shrugs. ‘I like paper. I like how it smells.’

Which Stiles gets, sure, but it also sparks up some synapse or other in his brain, and he turns to look at Derek in a new, appraising light.

Derek, who is super into scent. Derek, who is muscular and powerful and so very strong. Derek whose eyes and voice slip into something feral now and then, when he’s on the edge of his self control. Something clicks. ‘You’re a werewolf.’

Derek raises one thick eyebrow. ‘Peter didn’t tell you?’

‘No,’ Stiles replies, with a shake of his head. ‘It’s not like I asked for your medical records or whatever.’

The second eyebrow rises up to join the first, leaving Derek looking baffled in a way that is not cute at all. ‘You probably should’ve, don’t you think?’

Stiles gives Derek some judgy eyes of his own because paranoid much? He sighs, now resigned to the fact that Derek makes no fucking sense at all. He turns his attention back to the books because they’re constant and lovely and not chronically paranoid nym-ociopaths.

‘Oh my god…’ Stiles pulls out a battered copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, running his hands reverently over the curling edges of the cover. ‘This has been my favorite for, like, ever.’


‘Oh, yeah. My mom was an immigrant, so I guess it resonated with her.’ Stiles runs his fingers over the spines of the other books. ‘Oh, man. The Virgin Suicides, The Son…’

‘You like to read?’

Stiles plucks The Son from the row and holds it aloft as he says, in his best Texan drawl, ‘The difference between a brave man and a coward is very simple. It’s a problem of love. A coward loves only himself … The brave man loves other men first and himself last.’

Something like a smile catches at the corners of Derek’s mouth, a whisper of the laugh that struck Stiles so dumb not so long ago, only this smile is wistful and a little sad.

‘What?’ Stiles asks quietly, because yeah, he should leave, but it turns out he really wants to know the cause of that expression.

He wants to know the cause of all of Derek’s expressions, even the tenebrous ones.

Derek shakes his head. ‘I always think it’s interesting, that’s all. The things people take from that novel.’

Stiles tilts his head curiously. ‘What do you take from it?’

‘That is the story of the human race. Soil to sand, fertile to barren, fruit to thorns. It’s all we know how to do.’ There’s a moment where Derek forgets to school his face, and Stiles gets a glimpse of something unutterably sad behind his eyes. All of a sudden, Stiles realizes how very lonely Derek is, because nobody who is thoroughly loved could look so bereft of hope.

‘Well,’ Stiles says, darting his tongue out to moisten his dry lips. ‘You need to work on your accent, buddy, not gonna lie. And the whole effect could be improved with a cowboy hat. Then again, there’s very little that’s not improved with a cowboy hat.’

Derek ducks his head to hide a real smile, and takes a tentative step closer. Stiles lets him. He mumbles something Stiles doesn’t quite catch.


Derek steps closer still, hands jammed in his pockets, but he looks Stiles right in the eye when he says, ‘Stay.’


Derek’s eyes flick down to his mouth. ‘Would you stay? The night? With me.’

The flicker of warmth that ignited in Stiles' chest out in the hotel hallway flares hotter, brighter. He hasn’t imagined this moment of understanding between them, the way the books have built a bridge of common ground. Derek fucking likes him. He allows himself a small, satisfied smile (okay so maybe it’s a massive shit-eating grin, but whatever, details). ‘Oh. Okay. Yeah.’

Derek looks pleased. Or at least, he looks as pleased as his eyebrows allow. ‘Is… Would five hundred be enough? It’s all the cash I have.’

Huh. Awesome, now Stiles is back to not knowing what the fuck is going on. He blinks rapidly. ‘Five hundred… what?’

And then it hits him.

‘Oh my god!’ He smacks at Derek’s chest, in outrage. ‘You think I’m a hooker!’

Derek blinks. ‘Um… Are you not?’

’Dude!’ Stiles says, spinning between horror and amusement. ‘What the fuck?’

Derek’s jaw is set but his ears are pink, even in the shadows. ‘I don’t know,’ he grits out. ‘You said Peter sent you.’

‘He did! I work in a café, he paid me to bring you food!’ Stiles’ nose wrinkles as he processes Derek’s words. ‘Does Peter regularly fix you up with pre-paid sexy times? Isn’t he your uncle? Because that is nasty on a whole bunch of different levels, dude.’

‘Of course not!’ Derek snaps, biting his lip in embarrassment. ‘We argued earlier this afternoon and he… threatened. So when you knocked on my door I just… assumed he was making good on his twink-o-gram threat.’

‘Twink-o-gram!?’ Stiles has no idea whether to be majorly offended or supremely flattered. ‘But, like… Why did you think I kept offering you soup?’

Derek’s hands are jammed firmly into his pockets now, and he can’t meet Stiles’ eyes. He looks for all the world like he’d rather be anywhere else at all right now. ‘I don’t know. I’ve never done this before.' He trails off, glaring at the floor. ‘I haven’t been with anyone since my ex. I heard that some… Uh…’

‘Hookers?’ Stiles supplies helpfully.

‘Yes,’ Derek grits out. ‘Hookers. I heard that some have their own special things or whatever. To cater to specific needs. Sexy shoes, handcuffs, that sort of thing.’

Stiles stares at him. ‘And you… thought my special sexy thing was soup?!’

Derek’s lips twitch. ‘Shut up.’

Stiles can’t control the laugh that bubbles up from his stomach and takes over his whole body. It’s a good few minutes before he gets himself under control again, breath coming evenly enough to speak. ‘Dude.’ Stiles says again, because what the hell else is a guy supposed to say?

‘Shut up.’

All of a sudden something cold and slimy drops into Stiles’ stomach. ‘Oh my god,’ he says, voice hoarse from the laugh (and seriously, this guy – Derek – is gonna think he’s bipolar or something and wait, is that better or worse than being a twink-o-gram with a soup kink? Stiles doesn’t know.) ‘I thought you…’ he waves his hands around near his crotch because it’s not like he has any dignity left anyway, ‘With me… Because you liked me. Or at least… were attracted to me… Fuck.’ Now it’s occurred to him to be embarrassed, he’s fucking mortified. He sits heavily on the coffee table.

‘Stiles…’ Derek crosses the room to crouch in front of him. ‘I did.' He rubs a hand over the back of his neck, briefly ducking his head. 'I am.’

‘Really?’ Stiles arches a brow at him in disbelief. ‘’Cos it seems to me like you just… had an itch to scratch and you went ahead and scratched it on the nearest available… scratching pole.’ He winces a little at the metaphor but whatever, he’s standing by it.

That damned infuriating, attractive half smile is lifting the corner of Derek’s lips again. ‘No. Believe me when I say… I don’t do anything – or anyone – I don’t want to do.’

Stiles snorts. ‘You’re kind of an asshole, you know that?’ Weirdly, despite that, he’s managed to make Stiles feel better.

That enigmatic little smile is still there and Stiles sort of wants to kiss it.

‘Might have been mentioned once or twice,’ Derek says, and somehow his hands have found their way onto Stiles’ knees, just as warm and strong as Stiles remembers. ‘So you…’ he says, with a look of dawning comprehension, ‘Uh, you… with me… because you like me?’

Stiles hits him with an expression that he hopes effectively conveys ‘hopeless incredulity’. ‘Obviously. I let you literally sweep me off my feet and ravish me, and then agreed to stay the night. For free.’

‘You did.’ One corner of that beautiful mouth lifts a little higher, releasing a dimple from the chiselled perfection of Derek’s cheek. It’s ridiculous, and perfect, and perfectly ridiculous, and it strikes Stiles that a guy like this could have anybody.

‘Do you… still want me to?’ Stiles straightens his shoulders, hating the vulnerability in his voice. ‘Because if you do,’ he follows up, in as snotty a tone as he can manage, to cover up his moment of weakness, ‘there's no action guaranteed big guy, it's the pleasure of my company you'll be paying for and I’ll take my fee in burgers, thank you.’

Derek for-real smiles then, and it renders Stiles just as lust-stupid as ever. He looks up at Stiles through thick, dark eye-lashes and it strikes Stiles that he has Derek on his knees right now, so this whole thing could have worked out worse. ‘I think that could be arranged,’ Derek says, beautifully shy, but there's heat in his gaze and then he licks his lips and oh.

Stiles is so fucking done for.