Actions

Work Header

Who's Who: An Owl Watcher's Guide to the Stars

Work Text:

“Derek?”

“Hmm.”

“Derek.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Derek!” A pen came flying at his head.

“Oh, thanks,” he said absently as he picked it up and made a notation on the dataset in front of him before comparing it to the appendix he was working on.

Mom!” Cora yelled as she stomped down the hall. “He’s still a dissertation zombie! Can I invite Stiles over?”

Good. Whatever Cora had wanted, it was clearly someone else’s problem now. Derek stopped paying attention.

***

Stiles was bored. B-O-R-E-D, bored. He loved his dad, he really, really did, and he wasn’t sorry he’d come home to visit, but if he didn’t get out of the house soon, he was going to drive them both straight up the wall. His dad had looked positively relieved to get an emergency work call during his vacation, though he tried to look doubly apologetic for it as he left. Stiles thought he should be insulted, but he understood. He was starting to drive himself nuts.

His phone rang and he dove to answer it, not even checking the caller ID. He’d talk to anyone right now. Anyone. Fortunately for the hypothetical unsuspecting telemarketer he was halfway expecting despite being on every do-not-call list known to man, it was Cora.

“Answering on the first ring? That’s kind of desperate, Stilinski.”

“You know I always strive for that note of verisimilitude, Hale. Gotta make the audience feel for the character.”

“So you’re saying you really are that bored.”

“You have no idea. I can’t even risk going out for coffee unless it’s a drive-through, not after last time. Save me from myself, please.”

“Good, you can save me from my boring-ass brother. I’ll come pick you up.”

Thank you.

***

Thirty minutes later, Stiles trailed Cora into the Hale house living room, enjoying the feeling of nostalgic familiarity. They’d rehearsed for a lot of high school plays here. He fought down the instinct to go stand on the fireplace hearth like a stage.

“Oh my god,” Cora exclaimed, “he has emerged from his cave!”

Stiles followed her gaze to an unfairly attractive, rumpled-looking guy sitting at the kitchen counter, looking back at them wide-eyed, like he’d been caught doing something illicit rather than just making a sandwich at three in the afternoon.

“I missed lunch?” he offered.

Cora rolled her eyes so hard Stiles was concerned she might sprain something. “Yeah, I know. I tried to get you to come downstairs five times.”

The guy scowled and finished putting his sandwich together.

“Stiles, I don’t think you ever met my brother, Derek. He was already at college before we met. Derek, Stiles, my friend from high school.”

Derek offered a vaguely polite nod and picked up his plate.

“Oh, no you don’t!” Cora said, leaping to catch his arm before he could head for the stairs. “You are going to sit in the living room with us for at least the length of time it takes you to eat that.”

“But—”

She shoved him toward the couch and he gave in.

“So, Derek,” Stiles started, figuring he might as well be polite, “what do you do?”

He’d barely finished the question before Cora had slapped a hand over his mouth. He immediately licked it, of course, and she pushed him over on the other end of the couch.

“There’s a moratorium on him discussing anything related to his dissertation while he’s eating,” she explained, scrubbing her hand vigorously on her jeans.

Derek gave a disgruntled snort at that and concentrated on eating, apparently having decided to minimize his enforced socialization time. Rude, thought Stiles.

Cora could clearly tell Derek was about to bolt as well. “We’ll watch a documentary with you,” she said, somewhat desperately.

Derek narrowed his eyes at her. “You hate watching documentaries with me.”

“That’s because you always correct the announcers when I just want to look at cute animals, but Der, come on, I’ve hardly seen you since you came home. Summer stock is nearly over and then I’ll be leaving.”

Stiles thought Derek actually looked vaguely guilty at that.

“Sorry, I was just really on a roll with my results section.” Derek scrubbed a hand through his hair and then sank back into the couch will ill grace. “Okay, fine, one documentary, but then I really have to get back to it.”

Cora smiled, triumphant. “Wolves!”

“No!” Stiles and Derek said in unison.

Derek glanced at Stiles in surprise before countering with, “Owls.”

“No owls outside of your room!”

Stiles raised his eyebrows.

“They’re his specialty,” Cora explained. “We all know way more about the burrowing owl now than we want to.”

Stiles sat forward. “But that sounds really interest—”

“No,” Cora said, holding up an imperious hand, “I mean it. Ask him later after I have to leave, if you must.”

“Birds, at least,” Derek insisted.

Fine, whatever.”

Derek’s answering grin at Cora’s capitulation was not at all reassuring.

***

Scarcely had the soothing announcer gotten out, “Behold the majestic turkey vulture…” than Derek was chipping in, “Did you know turkey vultures cool their legs and feet with their own poop and vomit in self-defense?”

Cora glared at him. “Why are you like this?”

Stiles, on the other hand, immediately pulled out his phone to google it.

Watch as they circle,” the announcer said, “waiting for their prey to die…”

“False!” Derek proclaimed from his end of the couch. “They’re just enjoying riding the thermals.”

“But they are carrion birds, right?” Stiles turned toward him to confirm. “Media hasn’t been lying to me completely all this time, surely.”

“Yeah, but they prefer to eat stuff that's pretty rotten already. And they have an extremely keen sense of smell, beyond any other bird I know of. They can smell a rotting carcass a mile away.”

Stiles was utterly delighted to hear this.

Cora slumped down farther between them. “I hate you both. Look, they’re talking about mating habits now. Surely you can shut up and pay attention for that.”

Stiles managed to be quiet for all of thirty seconds. “Okay, but why are they, like, grunting? I was expecting more of a creepy ‘caw’ or something.”

“No, actually, they can’t!” Derek explained excitedly, as if to a particularly bright student. “Turkey vultures lack a syrinx, so they can really only hiss. Or grunt, like this, but that’s usually a courtship noise.”

Stiles had his phone out again. “Wait, how do you spell ‘syrinx’?”

Cora punched him in the shoulder. “You traitor.”

“What? It’s interesting!”

Cora vaulted off the couch as soon as the documentary came to an end. “Next time, mammals, at least,” she said with a dramatic shudder. “Jesus.”

“I dunno,” Stiles said, “I really didn’t think it was that bad. They have really pretty wings.”

“The silver color underneath is even prettier in person,” Derek put in as he rose as well. He hovered awkwardly by the end of the couch, torn between his work and politeness. “I should, uh,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder at the stairs, “I should really get back to it. But it was nice to meet you, Stiles.”

“You, too, man. Good luck with your results section.”

The smile Derek shot him on his way out of the room was small but genuine.

Cora returned from the kitchen with two sodas and handed one to Stiles. “Well,” she said with a sigh, “it was nice while it lasted.”

“How come you never told me your brother was so hot?”

Cora looked appalled. “Because he’s my brother? And, like, way too old for you. And a nerd.”

“I’m a nerd. And we’re not in high school anymore.”

“True. God, you were actually looking up his horrible nature facts. It’s like you were made for each other. You know he only says those things so we won’t make him watch TV with the rest of us, right?”

Stiles raised his nose in the air. “Well, I, for one, actually enjoy learning new things.”

“Dork.”

“Whatever. So tell me about your show this summer…”

***

Derek was able to continue making good progress on his results, but he was disconcerted to find himself smiling as he did it. He hadn’t minded the interruption in his work nearly as much as he normally did, and as much as he did honestly feel guilty about ignoring Cora during one of the rare times they were both home together, it was Stiles his thoughts kept returning to. His smile. His surprised laugh. The way his eyes lit up with interest when he learned something new. Even just the memory was very distracting. He told himself very firmly to knock it off. He was on a deadline, after all. He’d finally managed to force all his committee members to agree to a defense date, and there was no way he was screwing that up.

Nevertheless, when Stiles came back the next day, he found a reason to go downstairs. Just for a while.

And the day after that.

And then the day after that, Stiles came back even though Cora was doing a matinee performance, specifically to ask Derek about his owls. He stayed through dinner.

By the end of the week, Derek was actually agreeing to stay downstairs to watch things that weren’t documentaries at all. Apparently he’d missed out on a lot of movies that both Stiles and Cora considered important.

“No, we can’t start him on the MCU,” Cora insisted. “He’ll get distracted by Falcon and we’ll have to listen to an hour-long lecture on whether they got the flying style right.”

Derek felt something warm in his chest area when Stiles perked up at that. “Do you really think so?”

Cora threw a pillow at him. “Yes! And it wasn’t meant to be a good thing!”

“Fine, I’ll just watch that one with Derek later.”

Definitely warm in the chest region. It was very strange.

“How about Wonder Woman?”

“Oh, yeah, definitely.”

“Has there been anything made in the last five years that isn’t about superheroes?” Derek wondered aloud, pointedly, though he was pretty sure it would have no effect on their movie choices whatsoever.

Cora shot a look at Stiles and started to grin.

“No!” Stiles said loudly. “No, there hasn’t been.” He picked up the remote with an air of purpose and Cora settled back into the couch, letting it go, whatever it was she had been about to say.

Derek figured he wouldn’t have gotten the joke anyway.

***

“I’m really sorry, Stiles,” Derek heard as he came down the stairs for lunch the next day. It was the weekend, and Derek was kind of surprised Stiles was back. Hadn’t he said he was home to visit his dad? Had he really spent this much time at the Hales’ during high school? Derek didn’t think he remembered hearing that much about Stiles from Cora then, but he admittedly hadn’t been paying that much attention. It just seemed a little odd now. Not that Derek minded.

“No, it’s cool, don’t worry about it.”

“What’s happening?” Derek asked as he came into the kitchen to make a sandwich.

Stiles was fiddling with his phone in an annoyed manner, and Cora was looking at him apologetically. Stiles frowned down at his screen again. “It’s nothing. I just have this stupid black tie event I have to go to for work, and I was going to take Cora, but…”

“But Mary, Queen of Scots has laryngitis and I have to take her place,” Cora finished for him.

“Oh,” Derek said, for lack of anything more intelligent to say. He suddenly realized he had no idea what Stiles did for work.

“Take Derek,” Cora said.

Derek looked up in shock. “What? No! Why?”

“Stiles hates these things,” Cora said, innocent face firmly in place. Derek had learned long ago never to trust that face.

“I mean, I do, but… Maybe I should call Scott.”

“Please. Scott is running a one-man veterinary practice in the middle of a heat wave. That’s why you’re hanging with me in the first place.”

“That’s not true!”

Cora gave him a level stare.

“Okay, that’s kind of true. But it’s not the only reason I’m hanging out with you!”

Cora cut her eyes to Derek briefly. “Oh, I know.”

Stiles widened his eyes at her significantly. “Oh my god, shut up.”

Derek finished making his sandwich and turned to the fridge to get a drink. “I don’t even know what’s going on here anymore.”

Stiles heaved a sigh. “Derek, would you like to go to this stupid awards dinner with me? I need to take someone interesting enough that I won’t do something accidentally mortifying out of sheer boredom.”

“He’s actually required to take someone with him now,” Cora confirmed. “There was… an incident.”

Stiles shoved at her shoulder. “You’re the worst. I don’t know why I’m even friends with you.” Then he turned to Derek. “Seriously, you would be doing me a huge favor. We checked the plus one on the RSVP and if I show up solo it’ll be a whole thing. My dad can’t go,” he added quickly. “There’s this giant drug smuggling case he’s coordinating.”

Cora caught Derek’s brief look of confusion, much to his embarrassment. “He’s the sheriff.”

“Right, of course.” He suspected he should have already known that. “Um, I mean, I guess? You just need me to dress up and sit with you at a table?”

“Yeah, exactly. Thanks, dude! You won’t regret it. Well, maybe you will, but I won’t.” He looked down at his phone again. “Oh, shit, is that the time? I gotta go, Dad was going to try to squeeze in a late lunch with me.” And then he practically ran out the door.

Derek stared after him in consternation.

Cora grinned at him. “It’s in LA, you know.”

“What?!” That wasn’t just dinner; that would take the whole day. They’d have to fly down! He couldn’t take that much time away from his writing!

“Relax, it’s not until next Friday. We have plenty of time to get you a suit before then. Stiles will have everything else taken care of.”

Derek swallowed. A suit. He hadn’t even been thinking about the “black tie” part of all of this. How had this all even happened? He glared at Cora. “This is your fault.”

“Yup. Not sorry!” She smiled at him in a sunny way that was not at all natural on her face. “Hey, guess you’d better get as much writing done as possible so you can enjoy your outing with Stiles guilt-free. I’ll leave you to it!”

“I hate you!” he yelled after her as she fled the kitchen. Dammit, he really would have to buckle down for the rest of the week now. He took his sandwich back to his room.

***

“Derek! Stiles is here!” Cora yelled up the stairs Friday morning.

“Coming!” Derek slung his messenger bag over his shoulder, patted his pocket to confirm he had his wallet, and then carefully, awkwardly picked up the suit bag. What if it wrinkled? Was he supposed to iron it? He had no idea.

Stiles was waiting for him at the door. “Got everything you need?” he asked, looking Derek over.

Derek shrugged. “I think so? I mean, it’s just overnight, and I travel light, except for, you know…” He gestured vaguely with the suit bag.

“That’s no problem. The car service is used to it. C’mon.”

Derek’s brow furrowed when he saw the town car waiting for them. Stiles had a car. Derek knew he did. Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to park at the airport? They were only going to be gone a day. He handed the suit bag over to the driver in confusion, clutching the strap of his messenger bag tightly. His laptop was in there, after all.

Stiles noticed him staring at the car. He sighed as he reached for the rear door. “Work arranged it. I swear, it’s like Lydia thinks I can’t be relied on to get anywhere on my own.”

“Can you?” Derek wondered, as Stiles slid across the seat so Derek could follow him in.

“Yes!” Stiles insisted, indignant. “Honestly, where’s the love?”

And then the driver got in, checked to make sure they were settled, and set off for a smooth, strangely hassle-free ride to the airport… where they went through expedited security and into the first-class lounge.

“What is this dinner we’re going to again?” Derek asked suspiciously.

“Just an awards thing,” Stiles said, playing a game on his phone while his leg bounced incessantly.

He seemed nervous enough that Derek decided to drop it. He’d find out what the dinner was all about soon enough, he supposed. He pulled out his laptop to try to proofread his introduction before they were called to board.

Flying in first class almost made Derek second-guess his decision to go into conservation. No grant would ever pay for that much legroom, he thought wistfully, as he stretched luxuriously and fished out his laptop again once they reached cruising altitude. It wasn’t a long flight, but he could get a little more done, at least.

“Can I read it?” Stiles asked over his shoulder.

“I… what? I mean, I’m just proofreading it now. I’m sure you won’t find it very interesting.”

“Can I do it? It’s way easier to have other people proofread for you. Please? I need something to do, or I’m going to drive myself batty.”

Slowly, Derek passed him the laptop. “Okay…” He did have his tablet with him, after all. He could just… read a book, he guessed.

Stiles grabbed the laptop eagerly.

This whole trip was very surreal.

Derek had actually made good progress on a mystery novel that had been languishing amongst his ebooks for months and Stiles appeared to have proofed a good third of Derek’s dissertation by the time the landing announcement came on. Derek kept looking over at Stiles discreetly, expecting to find him nodding off at any minute, but every time he checked, Stiles seemed intently focused. And interested.

Surreal.

Another town car was waiting for them at this end, and took them to what was apparently Stiles’ apartment building, which seemed obvious now that Derek thought about it, because Stiles had basically nothing with him.

“Are you, uh, are you coming back to Beacon Hills after this?” he asked, trying to ignore the impending sense of disappointment at the mere thought of going back alone.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I still have another week until my next project starts, and Dad swears he’s going to have more time off before then. This was just an unavoidable work thing. I figured Cora wouldn’t mind coming with because she knows some of the people who’ll be there, but…” He gave a what can you do shrug and then gestured vaguely around the apartment. “Anyway, make yourself at home, or whatever. We’ve got a couple hours until we have to be ready. I’ll order us some lunch, I guess. I don’t think I really have anything in the fridge right now.”

While Stiles started banging through what sounded like every single drawer in his kitchen in an effort to find take-out menus (which he probably could have found quicker on the internet, but Derek didn’t point that out), Derek let himself wander around Stiles living room for clues about, well, Stiles. He’d realized on the plane that he really knew very little about Stiles other than his opinions about superhero franchise movies and Cora’s latest play.

Stiles’ living room was very… plain. There was a couch and a chair and a table and an entertainment center, but that was basically it. No bookshelves, no pictures on the wall, no collection of knickknacks, just one wall with a bunch of thumbtack holes that was currently as blank as all the others. Derek was used to living out of a suitcase at field stations and furnished graduate student apartments, but he was pretty sure even he accumulated more life clutter than this.

“Pick something,” Stiles said, shoving a menu in front of Derek’s face, phone already held up to his ear.

“Uh, this one,” Derek said, pointing more or less randomly at what appeared to be a list of wraps.

“Cool.” Stiles rattled off their order and then slid his phone back in his pocket, suddenly looking at a loss for what to do.

“Do you actually live here?” Derek blurted out, and then kind of wanted to smack himself.

“Oh,” Stiles said, looking around blankly like he’d never actually noticed his apartment. “I travel a lot. I haven’t really gotten around to, you know, decorating or whatever.”

“I should send you an owl when I have to go back up to BC,” Derek said absently.

Stiles blinked at him. “Come again?”

Derek could feel himself flushing. “Uh, a wooden one, I mean. Not a real one. I know a guy through the owl survey who carves amazingly realistic birds, and I’m not allowed to get anymore for myself.”

“How many do you have?” Stiles asked in fascination.

Derek looked away. “Six,” he muttered.

“Can I see them?”

Startled, Derek looked back at Stiles to see if he was being teased, but he seemed utterly sincere. “Sure. Any time.”

“Awesome. Wait. When you go back to BC. Are you going back to Canada?” Now he looked vaguely upset, for no apparent reason Derek could fathom.

Dealing with Stiles was very confusing.

“Yes? I have to go back for my defense, so…”

“Oh, of course.” Stiles lost some of the tension he’d acquired. “What will you do after that?”

“The burrowing owl program I’ve been working with up there wants a northern California extension, because so many of their birds are migrating down here,” Derek explained, and then stopped. “How do we always end up talking about me instead of you?”

Stiles’ phone buzzed at just that moment, of course. “Oh, look, the food is here!”

Derek sighed. How someone could talk as much as Stiles did and never actually say anything was a mystery. Derek wished he didn’t find that so fascinating.

***

Derek in a fitted suit was a revelation, and while Stiles was really starting to regret bringing Derek as his not-a-date plus one for a variety of reasons, he was sincerely glad he hadn’t missed this.

Also, Derek had no idea how to tie a bowtie.

“Let me,” Stiles said, and then did his best to ignore the way Derek swallowed beneath his fingers, and how wide his multi-colored eyes were. What real person had eyes like that anyway?

Dammit, this would have been so much easier with Cora. Stiles didn’t have time for feelings right now.

“There, now you’re perfect,” he said, stepping back and turning Derek back toward the mirror. “Did Cora help you pick that out? She did a good job.” And she had, staying within the entirely classic box of black suit and white shirt but making sure it fit him to a T. He suspected she’d been trying to make it possible for Derek to blend into the background, but Stiles personally doubted it was going to have the intended effect.

“Thanks,” Derek said, sounding as uncomfortable as he looked about the whole being dressed up thing. “You look good, too. Did you, um, pick the suit yourself?”

Stiles grinned and looked down at his jacket, which was, well, mostly black. It just happened to also be embroidered all over with roses and thorns in reds and greens so dark the color could hardly be seen. He loved it, in part because it annoyed people to have to squint at it as they tried to figure it out. “I just wear what Lydia tells me to,” was all he said, though.

“Is Lydia… your girlfriend?” Derek asked cautiously. That didn’t seem quite right, but it was the second time Stiles had mentioned her today.

Stiles barked a laugh. “Oh, didn’t I use to wish! No, she’s my agent now.” He glanced at his watch and tugged gently at Derek’s elbow. “Time to go.”

Derek spent the car ride pondering all the professions that might involve an agent. Athlete? Not that Stiles was out of shape, but that seemed unlikely. Author? Maybe, although that made all the detail of his suit seem like overkill. And then the driver opened the door and Derek became aware of the outside world again and that—that was a red carpet. Surrounded by cameras. And reporters.

Actors. Actors had agents. Stiles was friends with Cora from school, after all.

“Stiles,” Derek said carefully, “are you, by chance, famous?”

“Um,” Stiles said, holding a polite hand out toward Derek as he followed Stiles out of the car, “little bit.”

“It might have been nice to know that earlier.”

Stiles gave him an embarrassed half-smile. “I know. I’m sorry. I was just enjoying being around someone who didn’t know.” Which was, admittedly, a point Derek hadn’t considered, and made him feel like slightly less of an idiot.

A frighteningly stylish redhead on a mission approached them, and Stiles’ smile grew. “Derek, this is Lydia. She’ll take care of you for a few minutes while I deal with…” He waved a hand to encompass the madness of the red carpet, and Derek was relieved he wasn’t expected to have anything to do with it.

Lydia gave him a tight smile and led him along the edges of the crowd, one eye always on Stiles. “Did Cora tell you what your job is?”

“To try to make sure he doesn’t get so bored he embarrasses himself?”

“More like embarrasses me, since I’m not sure Stiles can actually feel embarrassment anymore, but yes.” She looked him up and down and then hooked a hand through his elbow in a manner that managed to be both condescending and possessive. “Now that I’ve seen you, I don’t think you’ll have any problem distracting him sufficiently.”

Derek didn’t know what to do with that comment at all, and therefore elected to ignore it. The knowing look Lydia gave him when Stiles finished talking to reporters and posing for photos and started toward them was harder to ignore. Derek would have wondered what it was about, but he could tell he was smiling. Like an idiot.

Then again, so was Stiles.

Lydia relinquished Derek’s arm, practically handing him over to Stiles, really, and said, “I’m trusting you to find your way to your seat on your own, Stiles.”

“Your faith in me is so touching, Lydia, really.”

She smirked at him and walked away, already flagging down someone else.

“Well, that went well!” Stiles said.

“Did it?” Derek wondered.

“Hell yeah. She didn’t fix my hair, straighten any of my clothes, or bitch me out for having brought a male date. Solid win.”

Derek froze briefly. “Was… that likely to be a problem?”

Stiles snorted sardonically. “In this town? I think we’d have to copulate on the table before they’d admit we were anything other than bros.”

And while that relieved Derek’s mind on the subject of whether Stiles would get in trouble for bringing him, now there was the niggling thought in his brain: Was Stiles thinking of this as a date, or was it just work like he kept saying?

…And did Derek want it to be a date?

Stiles took his arm and introduced him to someone he wasn’t interested in and would never remember, and Derek was suddenly very sure he wanted it to be a date.

How unfortunate.

***

An interminable while later, they finally made it to their seats. The room was increasingly full, but no one else was at their table yet. Derek took the opportunity to lean in and ask, “So, what am I supposed to know you from?”

Stiles flushed and started fiddling with his silverware. “It’s this stupid werewolf show.”

Derek covered his hand before he could start spinning his knife through his fingers, and if anything Stiles flushed harder. Derek started to take his hand back, but Stiles’ fingers tightened on his own, so now Derek was holding his hand and that was probably a bad plan, but he found he didn’t care.

“It wasn’t supposed to get this popular,” Stiles confessed. “It definitely wasn’t supposed to make me famous. I hate coming to these things.” He darted a look up to meet Derek’s eyes again and squeezed his hand just a little bit more. “Thanks for coming with me.”

Derek was helpless to do anything but squeeze his hand back and say, “Of course.”

Then the other members of Stiles’ show’s cast started arriving, and talk turned to more general things. Now that Derek had a better idea of what his job tonight here really was, though, he settled in to watch Stiles for signs of stress. It was a lot like wildlife observation, really. Once Derek spotted a sign, he just had to find a way to touch Stiles—a hand on his shoulder, a brush against the back of his hand, a nudge of the knee—and Stiles would relax again. Derek may never have seen Stiles’ show or really have any idea why they were here, but he could do this. He even seemed to be good at it.

Everyone at the table suddenly appeared extremely focused on the stage. Derek tuned in for the first time that evening.

“And the Standing Ovation award for Best Supporting Actor goes to… Mieczysław Stilinksi in Howlers!”

Stiles had stopped breathing beside him. His co-star was shoving at his shoulder, saying, “That’s you, man!” but Stiles was clearly frozen in shock. Derek reached over and took his hand again.

“Hey,” he said, and Stiles finally blinked at him. “I think you need to go up there.” Stiles nodded. “So you might want to breathe,” Derek added with a smile, and the laugh that startled out of Stiles was enough to break the paralysis. Derek stood to pull his chair out of the way and Stiles threw his arms around him in an unexpected hug before heading for the stage.

By some miracle, Derek managed to sit back down in his chair and not on the floor.

When Stiles came back to the table and collapsed back into his own seat, he reached over to take Derek’s hand again and didn’t let go, not even after the end of the ceremony, when Lydia came to direct them to a hallway where Stiles needed to wait to be interviewed about his win.

Derek looked down at their hands and then at how nervous Stiles was, and leaned closer to ask quietly, “Hey, Stiles? Was this a date?”

Stiles looked over at him with wide eyes, but it was a definite improvement over the borderline looks of terror he’d been shooting the reporters around the corner. “Um. Yes? I mean, I kind of wanted it to be, but you hardly know me, so I understand if you don’t want to think of it that way.”

“No, I’m pretty good with that.”

A slow, incredulous smile broke across Stiles’ face. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Think you want to do it again?”

“I mean, I’d probably prefer that not all of our dates be quite so surprisingly public, but yes, definitely.”

Later, Derek would catch hell from Lydia for running his hand through Stiles’ hair when Stiles leaned in and kissed him, but he felt it was absolutely worth it for the look on Stiles face when the interviewer asked him who his date was.

“Oh, that’s my boyfriend.”

“Is he a big fan of the show?”

“Never seen an episode of it in his life,” Stiles said with satisfaction.