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Home is where the Heart is. Mine is six Feet under

Chapter Text

"Haley!" Abby yelled again. "You're going to be late for school."

There were still no noises coming out of her daughter's bedroom so with a sigh Abby dried her hands and made sure that the waffles were in the toaster and that the toaster was actually toasting before she left the kitchen. She needed a new one, this one only worked when it felt like it but that was pretty much at the bottom of her list. There were way more pressuring things she needed to take care of. Like getting Haley out of bed.

"Haley!" She cracked the door to her daughter's room open and sure enough, she was still in bed. Just a tuft of curly hair peeking out from under the covers.

"Haley," Abby said softer and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Hey, time to wake up." Through the blanket, she rubbed her back. "C'mon, get up. I made waffles." Which she should get back to, there was a slightly burned smell coming from the kitchen.

"Shit." She sprinted out of the room just in time to save the waffles. One was pretty dark on one side but Abby scraped that off with a knife and nobody would be the wiser. At least behind her, the bathroom door fell shut. Looked like sleepyhead had finally made it out of bed.

While her daughter was nibbling at her waffle, Abby was downing her second mug of coffee. She didn't say anything about the barely touched waffle and just made sure that Haley had her lunch with her. Hopefully, she would get hungry over the day.

"You have everything?" Abby asked to which Haley nodded. "Okay, off you go."

Once Haley was out of the door, Abby grabbed her keys and hurried to get going as well. She was late already and traffic was a pain at this time of the day.

She made it to the office ten minutes late which got her a pointed look from Karen. Who had been there on time, of course, sometimes Abby wondered if her co-worker was sleeping under her desk.

"Morning," Abby greeted her nevertheless and turned on her computer. First a few hours of paperwork and a few calls, then a viewing, lunch, two more viewings and then, if she got a contract, more paperwork . The day didn't look too bad.

"Did I tell you?" Karen broke the silence between them. Abby had just opened her emails but she forced a smile on her lips and looked up to listen to whatever Karen wanted to tell her. "Terry and I are going on a cruise this summer."

"That's nice." Abby turned her attention back to the screen in front of her. She couldn't remember the last time she had been on vacation. Did visiting her parents in Wyoming count? Her last trip had actually been with Marvin, she remembered. For his brother's wedding.

Abby had to pause for a moment. Bits like this still crept up on her. Somebody said something or did something or it was a goddamn smell that brought back the memories. She remembered the big things just fine, the ups and downs of her life with Marvin, but what threw her off every time were little bits like this. Like the three day trip to attend Rick's wedding. Marvin had been his best man.

Abby tried to clear her throat as discreetly as possible, eyes fixed on the screen in front of her without seeing anything.

While she had been lost in thoughts, Karen had kept talking. About how hard it had been to come to a decision. Terry wanted to visit Europe but Karen had been set on a cruise. They had agreed on Europe next year.

"We still have to figure out where we want to go." Karen didn't even notice that Abby wasn't really listening. "What do you think? Paris or Rome?"

"I don't know," Abby answered more clipped than intended. "Sounds both lovely, why don't you do both?" Because why not? Terry was earning good money, they didn't even need the meager income his wife got as an estate agent to go on a cruise this summer and travel through Europe next year, no problem. Abby bit her tongue and didn't tell her that she needed a new toaster and didn't have the money for one.

Abby almost fled the office when it was time to meet her first clients of the day at the apartment she hoped to sell them.

They were nice people, Abby had gotten along with them quite well and she thought that she had found just the right apartment for them.

However, they were nitpicking at everything. Still friendly and polite but the bathroom was too small, the kitchen too big, it was taking too much off the living room. It was ground level and with that a way too easy target for a break-in.

"I sleep with the window open," the wife told Abby in a low whisper as if she was admitting something scandalous here.

They didn't take the apartment.

But they assured Abby that she was doing a wonderful job and that she should keep looking. Abby promised to stay in touch and then went for an early lunch. She ate her sandwich in the office, updating the file of her clients with details like no ground floor and big bathroom. It would have been nice to know things like this beforehand but more often than not people didn't think of things like this until they were noticing them in the viewing. Most assumed that Abby just knew what they needed. Abby saved the file and went to get more coffee. It felt as if she was living off coffee these days but last night had been a short one. Again.

"Oh, Abby." Karen came around the corner with a fake smile on her lips and a file in her hand. Abby fought the urge to roll her eyes and in her head, she was already calculating where she could make some time. "I hate to ask but can you take over this viewing for me?"

"I have two viewings scheduled for the afternoon." Abby tried to get out of this one but she knew that she would take over Karen's appointment anyway. Otherwise, the other woman would be sulking for days and maybe even complain about her and Abby couldn't risk that. She needed this job.

"Don't worry, they say they are free all day. Just give them a call, you can do their viewing after you're done with yours," Karen said as if she was generous because she didn't demand that Abby rescheduled her own appointments. Abby forced a smile on her lips and took the file.

"Who is this?" She asked, already leaving through the file of the apartment she was supposed to show the clients.

"It's a couple," Karen told her. "Two men. They are gay."

"That's usually the case with two men." Abby tried to gloss over the comment and to focus on the file in her hand. "What do they do for a living?" The financial records were in here but it was easier to just ask.

"They are artists," Karen said as if it was the most ridiculous thing in the world. And in this point Abby had to agree with her, artists usually didn't come with a regular income. Which meant no reliable client. "But this checked out?" Abby skimmed over the financial record.

"I don't know." Karen leaned against the counter, looked like this would turn into a round of gossip. "I only met one of them, handsome young man, but when I googled his name, Abby dear, you have no idea what I found."

"What did you find?" Abby took the bait.

"He's a photographer." Karen made a dramatic pause. "A pornographic photographer. I never closed a window this quickly in my life." She shuddered. "I'm a good Christian woman, I don't have to see this ... this ... smut."

Abby bit her lip to keep herself from smiling but she did make a mental note to google the client herself. She was curious what counted as pornographic in Karen's mind. Most likely she had seen a nipple.

"And the other one? He a photographer too?"

"No." Karen snorted. "He makes comics."

Apparently, they had a lot of requests for their new home. It had to be big, at least four bedrooms, and no stairs.

"They're young folk," Karen dismissed the last one. "They're just lazy. Can't hold a job and most likely sleeping all day. I'm telling you, the youth today ..." and with that, she launched into another rant about how lazy the kids were today. Every time she went into that spiel Abby wondered if she also counted as one of the young folks, she was just over thirty after all, but she never dared to ask.

Abby gave her new client a call to set up a time for the viewing. She didn't know if she had the comic artist or the pornographic photographer on the line but whoever it was, he sounded pleased that they would get to see the apartment today.

She would be home late and she didn't want Haley to come home to an empty apartment so she shot her daughter a message that she would pick her up after school. Haley could have a snack in the car and maybe start with her homework while Abby did the viewing. With that set up Abby had to hurry to her next appointment.

She was on time but her client wasn't. Great. She gave him a call which he didn't answer but he did show up fifteen minutes late when she was about to leave.

"Sorry." He gave her a wide grin. The smell of weed came off him in strong waves but Abby kept it professional. She showed him the apartment, just a furnished room and he really seemed to like it but when she told him the rent, he backed off.

"Can't do that, man." He raised his hands in defense. "That's way too much."

He tried to thank her with a joint and she had a moment of worry that he would insist but when she declined he just gave her another wide grin. "More for me, then."

Abby didn't make a contract with her next client either, it was just one of those days. And then she had to pick up Haley from school.

"How was your day?" Abby asked while she eased the car back on the street. The apartment she wanted to show her new clients was a bit outside, an hour's drive at least. If they managed to avoid the rush hour.

Haley gave her a nod as an answer and Abby threw her a glance. She had become pretty good at reading her over the last few months. Because Haley had stopped talking. She hadn't said a word since ... well, since. But they managed. Abby had taken her to the doctors but physically there was nothing wrong with her. Two times they had been to a child psychiatrist. Abby would have liked to keep up the visits with the psychiatrist, Haley had seemed to like her, but the bills had been piling up and they had to stop.

"Give her time." Had been the last advice Abby had gotten from her, free of charge, and she knew that the psychiatrist was right, it had only been a few months, but seeing her usually loud and chatty child now quiet, just watching the world with dark eyes, it was hard.

"Sorry, Karen put this one on me," Abby tried to fill the silence between them. "I don't know the apartment and I don't know the clients, I hate it when she's throwing me into the deep end like this."

Haley typed something on her phone.

She's a bitch, Abby read when she glanced over.

"Language, young lady," she scolded her but she had to admit that Haley was right with her statement. Karen was a bitch. But they were sharing an office and for the better part of the day, they were working side by side so Abby did her best to get along with her.

They even were a few minutes early so Abby parked the car and made sure that Haley had snacks and something to drink and that she would start with her homework right away. She would most likely be on her phone most of the time but it was worth a try.

Then another car pulled up and parked two slots to her right.

"That must be my clients," Abby told Haley and grabbed her purse and the file and she took a second to check in the mirror that her hair was still sitting right. Her bun still looked professional even if some hairs had gotten loose and were now curling up. She liked it but some clients had a problem with that.

"Okay, I'll be quick." Abby hugged Haley and then she reached for the door. And stopped dead.

The man from the passenger seat was already out of the car, a handsome young man with a scruff and a leather jacket, and he was now watching the driver who was getting something out of the back of the car. There was also a big dog watching the whole process from the back seat and Abby took a moment to curse Karen for not telling her that the place had to be pet-friendly because she was pretty sure it wasn't.

However, what the second man was getting out of the car made her curse some more.

"Lazy my ass," Abby said when the man smoothly transferred over to his wheelchair.

 

Chapter Text

They had wanted a place together for a while now but it wasn't easy to find one. At the moment Josh was living on Derek's couch, he would need a room for himself. Of course, a master bedroom for Stiles and Derek, with enough room to play but that was optional. Stiles was a master at improvising, Derek had no doubt that he could spice up their sex life even if they were living in a shoe box. Which they currently were, kind of, hence them looking for a bigger place. Derek needed a darkroom, that was not negotiable, and an office big enough for Stiles and Derek to have their own workplaces would be nice too. Plus, enough room for Jack and Ginger. A park or something like that nearby would be awesome as well, Jack needed the space to run. The Bernese Mountain Dog was a breed meant for herding, they needed to move.

And of course the place had to be wheelchair friendly, that was a given.

Lydia had recommended a realtor but when Derek met with one of their agents, he kind of doubted Lydia's judgment. He wasn't even sure if the woman really listened to what he was saying. She took notes but only now and then and she barely asked for clarification on something.

It wouldn't hurt to see the apartment she had picked out for them but if he was honest, Derek didn't expect too much from this. Following the GPS Stiles had brought them here and when Derek peeked out of the window to have a look at the building his heart sank even more. It didn't look inviting at all.

"C'mon, don't make such a face." Stiles had followed his gaze and he was sounding more enthusiastic than Derek but only slightly. "If nothing else it will be a good experience. So we'll know what we liked and what we didn't like and what questions we have forgotten to ask."

He had a point there. Derek nodded and got out of the car.

Stiles needed a bit more time to get his wheelchair out so Derek used the moment to have a look at their surroundings. Concrete, lots and lots of concrete. Most of it tagged. He might find some good motives around here, though. If he dared to go out at night with nothing but an expensive camera.

"Is that her?" Stiles pulled him out of his thoughts.

A woman had stepped out of a car just a few slots down.

"No, that's not her." Which was a pity, the dark-skinned lady coming their way looked way friendlier than Karen with her dyed hair and bleached teeth.

"I think we spoke on the phone?" The woman approached them. Her eyes kept flickering to Stiles and the wheelchair but her smile stayed genuine. "I'm sorry, Karen couldn't make it so I jumped in. I'm Abby."

Maybe this wasn't going to be that bad after all.

They shook hands and introduced themselves and of course Jack had to meet the new friend as well. Abby provided some scratches behind the ear without hesitation which made her even more likable.

"Is he going to be fine, waiting in the car?" She asked when Stiles shooed Jack deeper into the car to close the door.

"It's okay, it won't be long," Stiles assured her. "Okay, let's go." He turned on his back wheels but let her lead them to the entrance.

"I have to be honest," Abby said while she was pulling the keys out of her purse. "I don't know this apartment. It's one of my co-workers and I only know what is in the file. But let's find out together, shall we?" With that, she opened the door and froze.

"Ehm," she made, staring at the three steps leading up to the elevators. Down here were the mailboxes but it was beyond Derek why somebody would build something like this. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know. I ..." At a loss, Abby just stood there, most likely trying to will the stairs away.

"It's okay," Stiles spoke up and moved forward to the bottom of the stairs. "I can manage three steps."

He didn't even have to ask, Derek had moved with him and with a practiced move they got Stiles up the few steps. Abby was watching them, still mortified.

"I'm so sorry," she repeated. "I don't know why Karen picked this one for you."

It was clear that they wouldn't take it. Stiles was okay with a few steps now and then but not as the entrance to his own place.

"We can cancel this here and I can look for something else," Abby offered. Derek and Stiles shared a look and came to a silent agreement.

"We're already here, let's have at least a look," Stiles decided.

There was an elevator, the apartment was on the fourth floor, but judging by the noises it made on their way up Derek didn't want to rely on it on a daily base. If it broke down, and he had the suspicion that that happened quite often, Stiles would be stuck.

The apartment was nothing like what Derek had told Karen. There was at least one room missing, all in all, it was too small, they wouldn't even be able to set a corner of the living room aside for their workplaces. The door to the bathroom was almost too narrow for Stiles and the bathroom itself was too small to navigate with a wheelchair.

And Abby had to tell them that the place didn't allow pets.

Things were piling up, this was not what they had been looking for and Derek felt kind of sorry for Abby. She was visibly uncomfortable with the situation but she still tried to stay professional and didn't openly blame everything on her co-worker. Who, Derek had no doubt, totally deserved all the blame.

"Okay," Stiles said when they were back in the living room, it had been a short round. "We all agree that this is not what we need."

"I'm sorry …," Abby started again, desperately clutching the file in her hand.

"Your co-worker is completely incompetent and I think that we're going to have better luck with you," Stiles told her matter-of-factually. "So let's all sit down and start from scratch."

And with that, they gathered around the table.

Abby actually did take notes when Derek told her the same things he had told Karen the other day. That aside from the dog there was also a cat and that for the time being Derek's cousin was living with them.

"How old is he?" Abby asked.

"Eighteen," Derek answered. "Why?"

"Just to get an idea what kind of room he needs. A toddler has different needs than a young adult. You probably don't want to share a wall with a young adult." She winked at them which made Derek laugh.

"Hell, no," Stiles burst out but Derek was pretty sure that he wasn't thinking about the noises they would probably hear from Josh. More the other way around.

"You said, you need a darkroom." Abby went back to the list she was making. "Any specifics for that?"

They went through the specifications like that and Derek had to say, he really liked her professional attitude. She was sweet but could keep up with Stiles and she wasn't above a well-meant joke here and there. However, there was one topic she had clearly on her mind but didn't know how to approach.

"You can ask," Stiles offered, knowing what was left on her list as well.

"I get that stairs are a no-no for you," she said carefully. "What else should I keep in mind?"

Stiles told her what he needed which wasn't that much. Enough room to move around, a bathroom big enough for him. Lower kitchen counters would be nice but he could deal without or maybe they could make some kind of deal with the landlord? Abby noted everything down without questioning if he really needed this or that. And she didn't tell him that he should just deal because what they were looking for was next to impossible to find. No, she just went over the list with them one last time, making sure that she got everything, and then she was looking at them and asked if they had any questions.

Derek left the apartment with the feeling that now they were in good hands.

"And don't let your co-worker anywhere near that file." Stiles pointed at the file in Abby's hand. "She's out, you're in. You can tell her that."

Abby laughed at that.

Derek helped Stiles down the steps at the entrance and then they were outside again.

"And if you can manage it, something with less concrete would be really nice." Stiles gestured at the gray walls. Even the tags didn't help to brighten them up if anything they made everything even sadder.

"I'll try." She waved them goodbye and then she was heading towards her car while Stiles and Derek turned the other direction.

"I thought I closed the door," Stiles said when they reached the car. "Did he learn how to open that too?" He muttered under his breath while Derek reached for the handle. He could hear noises from inside so Jack was still in there. Derek yanked the door open.

"What the ..." Stiles started but then he was just gaping at the girl who was sitting there with Jack's head in her lap. She was giving them the deer in the headlights look while Jack raised an eyebrow at them, silently asking why they were interrupting his quality time.

Derek blinked but the girl stayed where she was.

"Haley?" Behind them, Abby was calling a name to which the girl perked up. She didn't respond, though. "Haley? Where are you?" There was a hint of panic in her voice.

"Abby?" Stiles yelled back. "Are you looking for someone?"

The next second Abby was rushing towards them and Stiles had just enough time to get out of the way before Abby basically crawled into the back of the car.

"Haley." She was hugging the girl, not caring that Jack was wedged between them. "What are you doing here? You can't run off like that."

Derek and Stiles exchanged an amused look

"I wanted to pet the doggie," the girl said in a low voice, still scratching Jack behind the ear.

"What did you say?" Abby brought the girl to arm's length, staring at her with wide eyes, but Haley just buried her face in the fur of Jack's neck.

Suddenly Abby was crying.

Derek glanced over to Stiles, not sure what to do with the situation. Abby had her daughter with her and she had sneaked into the car to pet Jack, so far he could follow. But what was happening now he had no idea. Abby was crying and she was hugging her daughter as if she hadn't seen her in ages. He was clearly missing something here.

Stiles shook his head to indicate that he didn't have a clue either. This was starting to become awkward.

"I'm sorry." Abby wiped the tears off her face with the heel of her hand. "C'mon, Haley. The gentlemen want to leave now."

The girl gave Jack one last hug and then she scrambled out of the car.

"I'm really sorry," Abby repeated. "She shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

She did feel sorry and maybe a bit embarrassed over the whole situation, that much Derek could tell, but on the other hand, she looked as if Christmas had come early this year.

They said their goodbyes and Abby promised to call them soon and then she was ushering her daughter over to her own car.

"Well, that was strange," Stiles said when he hoisted himself into the driver's seat and put his chair in the back.

"Hmm," Derek made, watching the other car leave. "But I still like her better than Karen." He empathized the name which got him a snort from Stiles.

Stiles drove them over to Derek's place where they had left Ginger. Josh wasn't home yet, he was still at school, some after class activity, the creative writing one? Was that today? Derek had lost track of the things Josh was up to. Nothing bad and he was home most nights but he had made some friends here and at the weekends Derek rarely saw him. He didn't come home drunk and always answered his phone so Derek was okay with it. Josh's mother called him almost every week to confirm that Josh wasn't just making stuff up and that he was actually doing his homework before he went to a party.

"I'm going to start dinner," Stiles announced. "Can you take Jack for a walk?"

"Sure."

Stiles had stuffed the leash between his thigh and the side of his chair, he carried most of his stuff that way, and when Derek bent down to get it, Stiles used the moment to hook a finger under Derek's collar. It was just a slim leather band, unremarkable enough to pass as a fashion statement, but it bore quite some meaning to them. Stiles used it to draw him in for a kiss.

"Josh staying out late tonight by any chance?" Stiles asked.

"We could sleep at your place."

"I wasn't thinking about sleeping." Stiles gave the collar a firm tug.

 

Chapter Text

Haley had spoken. She had said her first words in four months and Abby had lost it. She had lost it right in front of her clients. Abby didn't want to think about what they might think of her now. Most likely she was the crazy woman who instead of scolding her daughter for wandering off like that cried over how adorable she was with the dog. Or something like that. She couldn't really focus on that because Haley's voice was still echoing through her head.

They had been to the therapist only two times but the woman had given some good advice, among others that if Haley did speak, Abby shouldn't pressure her into talking more. That one word might be followed by weeks of silence again. Patience, that was the big word here. But hell, it was hard. Abby kept glancing over to Haley, who was on her phone again. Skipping through pictures of that dog it looked like.

"It was nice, hearing your voice again," Abby said in hope that the damn was broken and that Haley would answer. Instead, she just nodded and kept looking at her phone.

"Did you get some homework done?" Abby asked to change the topic.

Haley shook her head. Figured.

"When we get home, I'll make dinner and you, young lady, are going to do your homework," she said in a stern voice but on the inside, she still felt all giddy. Haley had said something. She had spoken. Abby still thought she was dreaming.

That night she was lying in bed but sleep wouldn't come. In her head, her daughter's words were playing in a loop.

"She had said something today," Abby said into the silence of her too empty bedroom. It wasn't the room she had shared with Marvin, not even the same bed, but she still had the feeling that he was there, watching over them.

"She's going to bounce back from this, I know it." Abby had been telling herself this for months now but today there had been proof that Haley was making progress. Abby had talked to her like usual over dinner and then she had helped her with her homework but Haley hadn't spoken again. Every question had come through her phone.

"We just have to be patient," Abby told Marvin. "But it's not easy. Nothing has been easy since you're gone." The last words came out barely a whisper but she refused to feel sad. Not tonight. In her mind, she went back to her daughter with the dog in that car. It was a good memory.

The next morning, Haley got up on her own which was a nice surprise. Usually, Abby had to drag her out of bed but today she was at the table for breakfast with more than enough time to actually eat. If she ate.

Haley wrote on her phone and pushed it over to Abby to let her read the message.

Are you going to see the men with the dog again?

"I'm looking for an apartment for them," Abby answered, already knowing where this was heading. "I'll show them more apartments but I don't know if they'll bring the dog again." And usually, she had those viewings scheduled while Haley was still at school.

Can I see the dog again?

Any other day, Abby would have found a way to say no without disappointing her too much. Today she couldn't. It had been the dog that had coaxed Haley into using her words. She couldn't say no to that.

"I can ask," she offered. After the scene she had caused yesterday, she was lucky that her clients still wanted her to find a place for them but even if a request like this would look strange and maybe would lead to losing a client, Abby had to ask.

Haley gave her a grateful smile and finished off her waffle. That was a first as well.

Today Abby was even a bit early in the office and she used the time to enjoy another mug of coffee before she started her work.

"How did it go with the client yesterday?" Karen joined her, fixing her own mug. "He didn't take it, did he? Of course not, I already got him something on the lower end of his budget and let's be honest here, there's no way some artists can afford that kind of money." She laughed her fake laugh, fully expecting Abby to join in. Abby hid her grimace behind her mug.

"They didn't take it," she said. "Mainly because you got them something with stairs."

"What? They can't bother to take a few steps?" Karen dismissed her. "Told you, lazy. Never worked a day in their life, I'm telling you."

"Actually one of them is in a wheelchair." Something Derek has told you, she added in her mind. Because of course had Derek mentioned it.

"What? He didn't look that old." Karen shrugged. "Did he get himself a grandpa? It's because of the money, isn't it? When the old guy dies he'll get all the money."

"Stiles isn't old." In fact, Abby was pretty sure that Stiles was a bit younger than Derek.

"He's faking it, then? The disability thing?" Karen looked pretty proud of herself for figuring that one out. "Just another lazy bum who lives of welfare. Should we report him somewhere?" Her gaze went distant as if she was actually wondering who to call.

"No, he's younger than me and he really is in a wheelchair," Abby tried to get through her thick head.

Karen patted her shoulder with a sympathetic look. "You're so gullible."

At least after that Karen left her alone for a while.

Abby buried herself in her work, since she had that unexpected appointment yesterday, some of the paperwork was still on her desk. Plus, she was kind of determined to find the right place for Stiles and Derek. And not only because that would give her a chance to ask about the dog. They had been spending an hour together yesterday, tops, but Abby had to say she liked them better than the weed guy or that nit-picky couple. Not that she wasn't looking for options for them as well.

Over her lunch break, when Karen was out for her own lunch, Abby googled Stiles' and Derek's names. She had wanted to do that yesterday after work but her mind had been on other things. Derek was the photographer that much she had learned about him but the topic of his pictures hadn't come up yesterday. According to Karen, they were pornographic so Abby was expecting everything and nothing.

However, what she found had not even been on the endless list of possibilities she had come up with. Derek had a website, showing examples of his work. There were photos of Stiles but of others as well. Men and women in different states of being undressed. But that was not the scandalous thing Karen had meant. That would be the rope, the handcuffs, and the gags. Among other things. Sometimes the pose alone made it clear if the picture showed a dominant person or a submissive one.

Abby had never been interested in this kind of thing but she had come across some stuff. This was not like anything she had ever seen before, though. It was not pornographic, even if there were naked models in some of the pictures and there was more than one full frontal photo, Abby wouldn't even count some of them as erotica. There were no sex acts, no hard dicks, nothing like that. Just aesthetic posing. It was breathtaking.

Abby clicked through the photos. Some of these she could imagine on her bedroom wall. Just because of the aesthetics.

When she followed the link to Derek's Instagram, she expected more photos like that. But he surprised her once again. The pictures there were normal. Of himself and Stiles, their dog and a cat. But there were also landscapes and pictures of places at night, only lit by streetlamps and neon lights.

"He's good," Abby had to admit while she scrolled through the pictures. "Really good." She didn't have to think twice to hit follow.

Next was Stiles. Karen had said something about a comic.

Stiles had a website with his art as well but his pictures were drawn. Apparently, he had done some work for different companies, among other things the design of a box of cereals and a logo with a corresponding comic for a youth program, but the centerpiece of his work was a webcomic. Abby skimmed over the first page. Tyler, a werewolf, lost his whole family in a fire. And the arsonist turned out to be his girlfriend who he thought loved him but had only been using him. Abby had to stop there, her lunch break was over, but she knew what she would be doing tonight. The rest of the day she couldn't stop thinking about Tyler who had lost his whole family. She knew how it felt to lose someone.

Later that evening, when Haley was in her room and hopefully sleeping, Abby sat down with a glass of wine and got comfortable to read a webcomic. Yesterday she would have laughed at the idea of reading a comic of all things but even after that short glimpse earlier she was already hooked.

Abby took a sip from her wine and then she lost herself in the pages. She followed Tyler who was trying to catch his sister's murderer because of course he had to lose the only family he had left.

Tyler met this energetic teenager who he couldn't get rid of and who he actually didn't want to get rid of but he wasn't telling him that. Instead, Tyler told him to shut up and to stay out of danger but Dylan never listened to him anyway. They made a great team and had great dynamics and if she squinted she could see Derek and Stiles in these characters. She had only met them briefly but Tyler had obviously been created with Derek in mind. And the other one, well, he did talk a lot and he stood never still, something she had seen in Stiles as well.

The comic was still ongoing, Tyler and Dylan hadn't solved the murder mystery yet, but they were getting close. Abby let out a frustrated groan when she reached the last page. She refreshed the site in the faint hope that it had been updated in the last couple of minutes but no such luck. She did, however, click the button to receive updates on the story.

Then she sat there, her forgotten glass of wine in her hand again, and just let her mind drift. The story left her with so many questions but there were also the moments that had made her laugh, some had made her cry and at the moment she just needed to let all that sink in.

It was already past midnight and she should go to sleep but that story kept her mind busy. To calm her mind down, she checked out Derek's website again and then she got lost in his Instagram. Damn the puppy was cute. And that cat. Who's name apparently was Ginger despite the fact that the cat in question was gray.

That night Abby went to bed with a smile on her lips.

The photos on Derek's website weren't really appropriate for an eleven-year-old but when Abby noticed that Haley was skipping through the few pictures of Jack she had on her phone, she couldn't stand it any longer. She got her laptop and showed her Derek's Instagram and just hoped that Haley wouldn't find his website.

Haley's eyes lit up when she saw that stupid dog grinning at her and she slung her arms around Abby's neck in a quiet thank you. She hadn't spoken another word but that smile alone was thank you enough.

"Stiles, the man in the wheelchair. He has a comic," Abby said and switched to another tab. The comic had a few gritty parts but nothing too bad and all in all it was more on the light-hearted side, and Haley had always been reading a few years ahead of her age. And damn, this story struck a cord in Abby, maybe Haley would enjoy it as well.

"I read it last night and I really liked it." It was the reason she had been living off coffee again all day but it had been totally worth it.

Haley looked at it with interest but at the moment the puppy was more important.

"I'll send you the link," Abby offered. "But don't read all night, you have school tomorrow."

Perks of being an adult, Abby thought, she could read all night if she wanted to. But in the morning she also had nobody else to blame but herself.

That night Abby saw light coming through under Abby's door for way too long, tomorrow was a school day after all, but tonight Abby pretended that she wasn't seeing it.

 

Chapter Text

They hadn't heard from the estate agent in a few days but that had been expected. Derek doubted that there were many places available that fit their needs. And they didn't have to move out by the end of the month or something like that so a few days or even weeks didn't matter.

However, when Abby called Derek did get that excited feeling in his stomach. With her, he was sure that she would show them something they would actually consider taking. She told him the address and they agreed to meet there tomorrow but when he was about to end the call, she held him back.

"I know this is kind of weird but ..." She paused, searching for the right words. "Could you bring your dog again? My daughter, she ... well, she would like to see him again. Maybe she can keep an eye on him while we're inside?"

Derek hadn't planned to bring Jack again, he had only come along last time because they had been short on time so they hadn't dropped him off before they went to the viewing.

"I ... actually, he's Stiles' dog," Derek answered not sure what to say. He remembered the scene in the car but he still didn't know what to make of it.

"Please," She said but then she caught herself. "My husband, he died a few months ago. Haley hasn't said a word since then. But the other day, with your dog ..." Her voice broke, overwhelmed with emotions. Derek just stood there, dumbfounded. He didn't know this woman. But he had seen her tears over one sentence from her daughter.

"We ..." Derek had to clear his throat to bring out the words. "We can bring Jack, no problem. She can walk him if she wants. Or they just stay in the car, whatever she wants." What else was he supposed to say? His brain still hadn't caught up with the information that apparently the girl hadn't said a word in months. Derek wasn't that big of a talker himself but this was insane.

"Thank you." She was almost crying now but she tried to keep it together. Derek didn't want to torture her more and hurried to finish the call.

Bringing Jack wouldn't a problem and if the girl wanted to pet him for an hour, Jack would be the last to complain. Derek texted Stiles that they had an appointment with Abby tomorrow and added: We need to bring Jack

The girl?

Derek knew what Stiles was thinking, a little girl obsessed with a puppy, but he didn't know how to explain this in a short message, so he just wrote that they would talk later.

Later turned out to be much later because Derek was staying over at Stiles' for the night and they had left the pets with Josh at Derek's apartment.

Which meant a long and frustrating night for Derek. He was looking forward to it.

Stiles had cooked for him and they were having dinner with Derek wearing his cock cage and the medium size plug and nothing else. Stiles was still fully clothed and he acted as if nothing was amiss.

After dinner, Stiles told him to clear the table and to meet him in the bedroom when he was done. That would give Stiles time to set up whatever he had in mind for the night. At least Jack wasn't here so Stiles couldn't make him walk the dog while he was caged and plugged. Derek had worn this plug quite often over the last few weeks so it didn't bother him too much but bending down to put the dishes in the dishwasher still jostled the plug in ways that were exciting and uncomfortable at the same time. But that was only the beginning.

When Derek came into the bedroom, he found the bed with only the sheet on, blanket and pillows were gone. Next to the bed was Stiles, bare-chested but with loose sweatpants around his hip. The only toy Derek could see was the riding crop Stiles was holding as if it was some kind of scepter. The throne picture came to mind.

"On the bed, lie down on your front," Stiles ordered and gestured with the riding crop to indicate where he wanted him. Without hesitation, Derek stretched out in the middle of the bed. "Spread your legs."

Derek had to wiggle a bit to find a position where the cage wasn't poking him but then he was lying there with his legs spread wide.

"You can do with your hands whatever you like but you will keep your legs open," Stiles told him while the tip of the riding crop trailed along the inside of his right leg. It sent a shiver of anticipation through Derek.

The first flick of the crop was almost playful, Derek flinched more out of surprise than anything else. But then Stiles started to work him over. He started on the inside of his right leg, just above the knee, and he methodically worked his way up until he reached the base of the plug. He gave that a few hard swats, sending jolts through Derek's core, before he went down Derek's left leg. And then the same tour in reverse. At first, it really didn't hurt, Stiles was warming him up, but it didn't take long for the swats to get more of a bite. Stiles spread the hits a little but eventually, they had to overlap. And he didn't show any intention to stop any time soon. He kept his rhythm and moved up and down Derek's thighs, focusing on the soft skin on the inside. It was almost hypnotic.

"Nice and red," Stiles observed and ran the tip of the crop along the path he had been following for what felt like hours. Derek was pretty sure it had only been minutes but he tended to lose sense of time when he let Stiles take control.

Derek hissed, even the edge of the folded leather felt like it was cutting into his oversensitive skin. Of course, Stiles did it again.

When he stopped, Derek felt pressure on the base of the plug and he had only that moment to brace himself for the hard taps. Stiles put all his strength behind those swats and they sent tremors through Derek's body, making him moan.

"You like that?" Stiles asked, circling the base of the plug, making Derek's hole twitch around the intrusion.

"Yes." Derek breathed into the sheets. He hadn't even noticed but he was fisting the sheets with both hands but now he forced himself to relax his hands, to take the breather Stiles was granting him. "I like it."

"Do you want more?" The tip of the crop never stopped moving and Derek didn't know when the soft trailing would turn into swats again.

"Yes, please."

"Do you want me to make your ass red as well?" He tapped Derek's right cheek lightly, almost considering.

"Yes, please," Derek said. He knew his game and for once he didn't hesitate to add: "Please make my ass red as well."

"As you wish." Derek didn't need to see the diabolic grin on Stiles' face.

Then the first hits rained down on him and Derek was too focused on breathing through the pain to think about anything else. At first, Stiles altered between his left and right cheek, littering them with hard swats, but then he included his legs again.

Derek could imagine how his backside looked, at least his butt felt raw and swollen and there was a heat throbbing deep in his flesh. And Stiles still kept going. The swats were steadily raining down on him.

Derek moaned and couldn't help his hips moving. Pain and pleasure melted together and he wasn't sure if he was humping the mattress or pushing into the blows but that didn't really matter.

"Keep your legs open," Stiles' voice pierced through the fog in his mind. Derek licked his lips and spread his legs wide again. The muscles were now spasming under the blows and he had to focus to not give in to the urge to protect himself from the crop by closing his legs.

"Damn, you look so pretty," Stiles said and only with a delay, Derek noticed that he had stopped. Derek dared to take a breath but then Stiles raked his fingers down his leg, making Derek scream. His leg cramped under Stiles' hand but he just moved on to the other one. And then he put both hands just above the swell of Derek's butt.

"Take a deep breath," Stiles told him and then he raked his fingertips over Derek's butt and down his legs. It felt as if he was slicing knives through his flesh. Derek howled and twisted under his hands.

"Where are your legs?" Stiles asked and hit him with his open hand on his left cheek.

Whimpering Derek sorted his legs out again.

"My hand or more of the crop?" Stiles asked while he was tapping the base of the plug again.

"Your hand," Derek managed to say without really thinking about the question. And the consequences. He just knew that he wanted to feel Stiles and not something distant.

"I can do that." Stiles gave his other cheek a slap. "And when I'm done with you, I want you to ride me. I want to feel the heat of your ass on my skin."

Derek wasn't really in the right mindset to comprehend what Stiles was saying but then he was spanking him with his bare hand and Derek got lost somewhere between pain and pleasure. Stiles' hand had another bite to it and it didn't take long until Derek was squirming under it. Stiles had to remind him to keep his legs open a few times and it became harder and harder to follow that order.

Stiles gave the plug some attention as well, it was a nice change but by now Derek's prostate felt sore and he was lying in a puddle of his own precome that was now constantly leaking out of his cage.

"Derek?" There was a cool hand on the nape of his neck, kneading the muscles there. "You with me?"

Derek managed a nod. Hadn't Stiles just started with the spanking? Why had he stopped already? Had he done something wrong? Derek's muddled brain tried to figure out what was happening but he was drawing a blank.

"You did good," Stiles assured him. He was rubbing soothing circles into Derek's neck but with his free hand, he was reaching for something. "Here, drink."

A bottle with a straw appeared in front of Derek's nose and for a moment he just squinted at it, not sure what to do with it. But then he drank greedily.

"You're doing so good. So perfect for me." Stiles praised him and Derek couldn't help the warm feeling spreading in his belly. "You good now?"

"Green," Derek said and took another sip before he let go of the straw for real. The short break had helped to clear his head. He was still kind of floating, the pain in his backside only a faint throbbing, but he was there again.

"I'm going to make you come soon," Stiles promised. "But first you have to do something for me. Can you do that?"

Derek nodded, whatever Stiles was asking from him, he would do it.

"Scoot over." Stiles nudged him in the side to get him moving. At some point, Stiles must have lost his sweatpants because when he hoisted himself over to the bed, he was already naked. And hard. Derek couldn't help but look at Stiles' erection with hungry eyes.

"I'm going to take out the plug now," Stiles informed him. "And then you're going to ride me."

Derek winced at that, the air felt too heavy on his skin, riding Stiles? That would be one hell of a ride. However, his first problem was to get his legs folded under him so that he could get into position for what Stiles wanted. His legs felt like jelly and he had to help with his hands to get them where he wanted them to be.

"And I thought I'm the one with the paralyzed legs," Stiles joked but made no attempt to help him. He was just watching with amusement while he was lazily stroking his cock. Derek bit back a comment but then he was in position and thanks to the plug he sank down on Stiles' shaft without resistance. The bad part, however, came when his butt touched Stiles' thighs. Derek hissed. Stiles even pushed his legs closer together so that his abused insides were pressed against Stiles' legs.

"Move," Stiles told him and with his hands on Derek's hips, he guided him up and down. Derek couldn't hold back the hisses of pain every time Stiles slammed him down but it didn't take long for Stiles to went rigid under him. Holding him in place, Stiles' cock pulsated deep in him, spurting jets of come into him.

"That was good." Stiles breathed into his neck. Then, finally, he showed mercy and let Derek roll to his side. A moment later the cage was gone and while there was still come leaking out of his hole, Derek spilled his release over Stiles' hand.

 

Chapter Text

Abby had never thought that Derek would just agree to bring the dog, they were basically strangers and Abby knew enough people who were very picky when it came to who was allowed to pet their dog and who wasn't. She was just glad that Jack had turned out to be a gentle giant. She didn't want to think about what would have happened if Haley had approached a less friendly dog like that.

Haley had hugged her when she had told her that she would see Jack again and here they were again waiting for the clients to arrive. Haley had been basically been bouncing in her seat since Abbey had picked her up from school and she had asked at least three times via text message if they would really bring Jack.

"Derek said they would," was all Abby could say to that. She just hoped that he hadn't forgotten about it and that nothing had come up and for whatever reason, they couldn't bring Jack today. Haley would be devastated.

But then the car from the other day rolled into the parking lot and this time Stiles parked right next to Abby. Through the window, Derek smiled at her but by then Haley was already out of the car and around to Stiles' side where he would get out his chair any second now. And with that, he would open access to Jack. At least Abby really hoped that Jack was in the car as well. Slower Abby followed her daughter, making sure that she had the keys and the file with her.

"Hey, you rascal." She heard Stiles from the other side of the car. "Here's somebody who missed you."

There was a wuff from Jack and a delighted sound from Haley.

"Thank you," Abby said to Derek who had joined her.

"No problem," he assured her but she could tell that he had questions. But he didn't ask them here with Haley in earshot. Since Haley had stopped talking, Abby had met way too many people who thought that just because she wasn't talking, she had to be deaf as well. And some were even convinced that she had to be stupid too. Abby didn't want to think about Karen but there was a reason she hadn't mentioned Haley to her.

They walked around the car to where Stiles had successfully transferred into his chair, which was still a phenomenon Abby wasn't quite used to, wheelchair and driving didn't get along in her mind but here was Stiles who didn't care about her opinion and did it anyway.

Through the open door, Abby could see Haley who was sitting in the back with Jack on the seat next to her. He was lying on his back with his head in her lap, wagging his tail while she gave him a belly rub.

"I have a leash here," Stiles offered. "She can take him for a walk if she wants to."

Haley perked up at that, tapping her hand on her knee rapidly. It had become their sign for Can I? Can I? Can I?

"Aren't you worried that she's going to kidnap your dog?" Abby asked.

"That one's constantly kidnapping my dog." Stiles pointed at Derek. "Besides, you won't run off while we have your mother, right?" He gave Haley a look that might have been intended to look creepy but it only made her laugh.

"If it's really okay with you." Abby wasn't sure, she didn't want to impose too much on them, they were already doing her a favor by bringing the dog.

"Under one condition." Stiles raised a finger. "There are bags under your seat. If he poops, you have to clean it up, deal?" He held out his hand and after one look at Abby, Haley took his hand and shook it with a serious face. Then she took the bags and the leash and scrambled out of the car. The dog didn't seem to mind, he was happily walking with her.

"Your dog is stupid, he would go with anybody," Derek said while he watched them walking away. There was a park just half a block down the street which Abby hoped was already a plus.

"You're noticing that only now?" Stiles shot back. He turned his chair on the spot, front wheels in the air, and was now facing the building. It was fascinating to watch. "Okay, what are we looking at here?"

"An apartment." Abby glanced one last time at her daughter who had almost reached the park by now but then she focused on the task at hand. She told them the year the building had been built, 1992, but it had been renovated just two years ago. There were no stairs at the entrance and the elevator was large and comfortable.

"It's on the second floor," she told them and pressed the button for that level. Even with Stiles' wheelchair, they didn't have to stand cramped together.

The apartment was more of a studio with lots of space in the main area but rather small rooms. There was a spiral staircase leading up to a single room upstairs which had a balcony to look down into the living room. The other rooms were all on ground level.

"I was thinking the upstairs room for your cousin," Abby said to get that out of the way. It wasn't easy to find something with the number of rooms they were looking for but with no stairs. "There's a small bathroom up there but the main one is right here." She gestured at one of the doors.

Stiles was eyeing the staircase suspiciously, there was no way he could ever go up there, and Abby cringed inwardly but she tried to keep her professional smile on.

"He would like a place for himself," Derek agreed. "May I?"

"Sure, go ahead."

While Derek was exploring the upstairs area, Abby showed Stiles around the rest of the apartment.

"This would be your bedroom." She opened one of the doors. It wasn't that big but it had nice windows going almost from the floor to the ceiling. The room, like the rest of the apartment, was still furnished. The bed wasn't that big but comfortable enough for two people and there was still enough space to move around. It always helped the clients to picture the rooms with their own furniture and it made it easier to get the relations. The way Stiles was hmming to himself, he was doing exactly that.

But apparently not enough. Stiles moved deeper into the room, testing the space. He could get through the gap between the foot end of the bed and the closet with his wheelchair but he couldn't keep his hands on those steel rings on his wheels, he had to use the door of the closet and the bed to move forward.

"Nope." He shook his head. There was not enough room for him to turn so he had to roll backward to get back out. "I need to be able to move around the bed freely," he said it as if that was an important thing.

"You could use this side of the bed and Derek the other one," Abby offered. The bed was easily accessible from this side even with a wheelchair.

"That won't do it." Stiles shook his head. "Let's check out the other room, if it's bigger, we can use that as the bedroom and this becomes Derek's darkroom.

The other room was currently an office. It had the same luxurious windows but it was even smaller.

"The part upstairs is really nice." Derek joined them and peeked through the door. "If this is going to be my darkroom, I'll have a lot to do to blacken out the windows."

So much for luxurious windows. Abby cringed. She hadn't thought of the fact that the darkroom kind of needed to be, well … dark.

"The rooms are too small," Stiles informed Derek. "The way they have the bed is the only way a bed would even fit in there and I can't really get around it. At least not quick enough. And I don't have room to move around."

Derek nodded as if that made perfect sense to him.

It's a bedroom, you don't have to move around that much in there, Abby was about to say but she stopped herself at the last second. The photos on Derek's website came back to mind. Pictures of Stiles in ... poses. At first, she had thought that they were just pretty pictures but now she started to wonder if that was actually something they did in the bedroom. Not as if she had any idea what that would look like. Derek's pictures didn't show any sexual acts and Abby hadn't felt the need to dig deeper into that topic.

She glanced between them, trying to figure out the dynamics between them. She didn't even know what she was looking for, though, and if she was honest, it was none of her business what they did in the bedroom.

The open kitchen was nice and Stiles really liked the bathroom but with the small rooms, the apartment was out.

"It has quite some nice aspects," Derek tried to play it nice. "But not exactly what we're looking for."

"Three times is a charm, right?" Stiles took it easy as well.

Abby had one last look around to make sure they hadn't left anything before she ushered them out and locked the door.

"I'll keep looking," she promised.

"Admit it." Stiles fell in step with her. Could she say that? Stiles couldn't walk, could she say things with walking? Abby was just glad that she hadn't said it out loud. She was so busy freaking out over her almost faux pas, she almost missed what Stiles was saying next: "You don't want to show us the perfect place just yet so your daughter can keep playing with Jack." He grinned at her.

"You got me," she admitted but that reminded her of something. Haley was still out with the dog.

"I should send her a message." Abby got her phone out to tell Haley that they were done here. Then something occurred to her. "I just hope she didn't let him off the leash, she can't call him back." Why hadn't she thought about that earlier?

"Derek said she hasn't spoken since your husband died?" Stiles took the opening. If she was honest, Abby was surprised that it had taken them so long to ask these questions. But on the other hand, Stiles might also be waiting for the questions.

Haley was still nowhere in sight so this was probably the best moment to talk about this.

"She was with him when it happened," Abby said. She was clutching the papers in her hand, it was still not easy to talk about this.

"Some kind of illness?" Derek asked.

"Car accident," Abby corrected. Derek and Stiles looked at each other but she didn't want them to ask too many questions or worse, say all the phrases she had heard way too often. "It had been a rainy night. He must have lost control." She was now wringing the papers in her hand but she wanted to get it over with. "They say he has been dead instantly. Haley … she wasn't hurt that bad, she was lucky. But the car was upside down and she was stuck and couldn't get out by herself. She was stuck in that car with her dead father for hours."

"My god," Stiles whispered.

"Yeah," she made and just wished for the moment to be over.

"We'll bring Jack next time as well if that's okay," Stiles offered, glossing over the moment. For some reason, he understood that she didn't want to hear how sorry he was and all that. Derek was following Stiles' lead and didn't push the topic either. And then Haley came into sight.

Abby breathed easier once she saw her heading their way. She hadn't been worried, not exactly, this was a nice neighborhood, it was the middle of the day and she had a big ass dog with her. Abby hadn't been worried. She did, however, feel better seeing her daughter.

"Did you two have fun?" Stiles asked and got a smile and a nod from Haley and a lap full of dog from Jack.

For a second Abby was worried that the big dog would throw Stiles out of his chair but it looked practiced. The dog seemed to know how to climb Stiles' lap without causing an accident. Abby glanced over to Derek but he didn't even seem to notice, his eyes were on Haley.

"We didn't take the apartment," Derek informed her. "Looks like your mom has to show us more."

At that Haley turned to Abby, a hopeful expression on her face, and how could she say no to that?

"And before you ask, we'll bring Jack again and we'll need somebody to look after him while your mom shows us another apartment. You don't happen to know somebody who would like to do that job, do you?"

Haley grinned at him, pointing at her own chest, and just in case that wasn't clear enough, she said: "Me."

 

Chapter Text

"Awesome," Stiles answered as if it wasn't a big deal that Haley had used her words. Well, one word.

Abby, however, was covering her mouth with her hand and her eyes were way too shiny. Derek looked away, he didn't want to pry.

"Hey, guys." Stiles lit up with an idea and Derek didn't know if he wanted to slap his hand over Stiles' mouth to prevent him from spurting out whatever was on his mind or if he wanted to hear it and regret it later.

"Do you have plans for dinner?" Stiles blurted out.

"We …" Abby started, searching for the right words to say no to dinner with them, Derek had no doubt.

"I cook." Stiles didn't let her time to come up with an answer. "And I usually cook way too much. Just ask Derek, he's sick of eating the same stuff for three days."

That got him a laugh from Haley.

Besides, Stiles wasn't wrong. Since Josh lived with them Stiles had to up the portions to three people and for some reason, he couldn't get it right. Cooking for two was no problem but with three all bets were off. It didn't help that Josh was a healthy eater, easily counting for two.

"We don't want to impose," Abby said politely.

"You don't have to if you don't want to," Stiles told her. "But we would be happy to have you. And Haley can play with Jack a bit more."

That was a low blow. Haley's face lit up at that and she was jumping up and down in excitement.

"I don't know," Abby said, clearly uncomfortable with the situation.

"Please, Mommy," Haley said. She slung her arms around Abby's middle and buried her face in her belly. Abby held her close, tears now openly running down her face.

Derek shared a look with Stiles, this was becoming rather uncomfortable.

"There's no way I can say no now," Abby gave in. She wiped the tears off her face but she looked happy.

"You can follow us but I'll give you my address, just in case." Stiles had already his phone out and was texting away. A second later there was a short pling coming from Abby's purse.

She checked the address and then laughed.

"You're kidding, right?" She shook her head. "That's not ten minutes from where I live."

Stiles snorted to that. "Derek and I met here in New York. Turned out that our parents live in the same small town in California. We never knew."

They got in their cars and with Stiles in the lead, they drove to his place.

"You think this is a good idea?" Derek asked in the privacy of the car. They barely knew the woman. And her daughter. It was nice that Haley had started to talk and Derek would happily bring Jack next time but ambushing them with an invitation for dinner?

"It just feels right," Stiles told him and there was no arguing with that. Besides, it was too late anyway. When Derek looked in the mirror, he saw Abby's car right behind them. "I think she needs a friend."

"Abby or Haley?" Derek asked. It was tragic what had happened to them but Stiles had no right to invade their private lives like this. "Is this because of what happened to Haley?"

Stiles had lost his mother the same way. Granted, he hadn't been stuck with her dead body for hours but he had lost his ability to walk in that accident.

"I didn't feel much like talking either," Stiles said quietly.

Derek couldn't imagine a quiet Stiles, that idea was so alien. Stiles was loud and chatty and he talked enough for the two of them. Stiles was never quiet.

"Okay," Derek just said.

Stiles parked in his usual spot and Abby right next to him. While Stiles was still busy with getting his chair out of the car, Haley was right there to take Jack's leash. She grinned happily, one hand already in Jack's fur again, and Derek couldn't help but wonder when she would start asking for a puppy. If she hadn't started already.

"Home sweet home," Stiles announced when he let them into his apartment.

"It's nice." Abby had a look around. Coming from her Derek wasn't sure if she was just polite or if from her professional eye it really was a nice place.

"I like it." Stiles pushed his chair farther ahead into the living room. "But it's too small for all of us."

Ginger came around the corner to check who was coming home but when he saw two strangers, he hurried to get under the couch.

"Don't mind him," Derek excused his cat's behavior. "He needs time to get used to new people."

Haley's eyes were big and Derek could tell that she was determined to make Ginger her friend. Lucky her Ginger usually needed about half an hour and then he was sitting in your lap as if you were old friends. He just hoped that he wouldn't make an exception with Haley.

"Derek, take care of our guests, I'll start dinner," Stiles announced and with one sharp ninety-degree turn he was behind the kitchen counter.

"Is there anything I can help with?" Abby followed him, now looking even more uncomfortable than before. Maybe because now it as obvious that it really was the man in the wheelchair who was about to cook dinner for her. Or she just wanted to be useful. Derek didn't know and he kind of was holding his breath on how Stiles would react. He tended to have some harsh words for people who doubted his ability to cook or to do anything an able-bodied person would do without even thinking. For a second he looked at Abby but then he put her on onion duty.

Which left Derek with Haley. She was still petting Jack but her eyes were on the couch.

"Want to try to get him out?" Derek asked.

That's how he ended up on the floor, rolling a ball back and forth with an eleven-year-old in the faint hope that Ginger would get interested in the game. Of course, he didn't, he was a cat.

However, Jack thought that they were playing with him and he constantly tried to steal the ball. It ended with Ginger still under the couch and Haley playing fetch with Jack.

Derek reminded her to not actually throw the ball but rolling worked as well, Jack wasn't picky. She nodded in earnest and then carefully rolled the ball, checking in with Derek if that was okay. Abby had most likely had a talk with her about behaving on the drive here. They were Abby's clients after all.

"Don't worry, you're doing fine," Derek assured her which got him another smile.

With her busy Derek decided to check on Abby and Stiles. Maybe he had to rescue her or something.

Sure enough, Stiles was chatting away while he had his head in the fridge, looking for something.

"You're not vegetarian, are you?" He came back up with a package of ground beef. "I can make it just a tomato sauce. And you're okay with dairy?"

"No vegetarian and dairy is okay," Abby answered, more amused than annoyed. And curious. The way she was watching Stiles she had a million questions.

"You can ask," Derek encouraged her. "He might never stop answering but you can ask."

Stiles rolled past him, the ground beef in his lap, and he used the chance for a slap on Derek's butt. It was playful and not at all like what they did when they were playing and judging by the look on Abby's face, she thought it was adorable.

"But seriously," Stiles said. "I like open questions way better than stares and assumptions behind my back."

"I didn't mean to stare." She hurried to look back at what she was doing. She was done with the onions and was now chopping tomatoes. "But … well, I have never really met somebody in a wheelchair before. Were you born this way?"

"No." Stiles threw a glance over the counter to where Haley was still playing with Jack. She wasn't looking in their direction but she might be listening. "Car accident. I was just a little bit older than Haley." He paused, it was never easy for him to talk about this. Derek stepped up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. "I was in the car with my mom. She didn't make it." He gave her a weak smile. "Let's just say, I understand."

Abby didn't know what to say to that, that much was obvious. For a long minute, an awkward silence was lying over them, nobody knew what to say next.

"Anyway …" Stiles started, silence never sat right with him, but then Haley came around the corner and a second later she had Stiles in a fierce hug. She had her face buried in his chest and for a second Stiles didn't seem to know where to put his hands but then he just hugged her back.

"Are you still sad?" Haley asked. Her voice was muffled by Stiles' shirt but the words were still clear.

"Yes," Stiles said, his voice on the verge of breaking. "I'm still sad. Not all the time anymore but I still miss her so bad."

They hugged for a little while longer but then Haley let go of him and without another word she went back to playing with Jack. But the ball wasn't rolling that often any longer, she seemed to be deep in thoughts.

"What a happy little round we are," Abby tried to lighten the mood but the sadness was still hanging heavy in the air.

"My sauce!" Stiles turned on his back wheels and then he almost crashed into the stove to save his sauce. Derek didn't smell anything burning so he hoped that the sauce was fine.

They were having pasta with tomato sauce, easy to make and fail-proof when it came to children, and by the time they were sitting at the table with full plates in front of them, the conversation had moved on to lighter topics.

Abby admitted that she had been checking them out online and apparently she had binged Stiles' comic and was now waiting for the next update.

"Nope, I'm not going to tell you anything." Stiles blew her off when she was not so subtly fishing for information. "You'll have to wait like everybody else."

"Haley read it too, didn't you, honey?" Abby pulled out the big guns and Haley, fully playing into it, nodded and was now looking at Stiles with big, pleading eyes.

"Still nope." Stiles let the word pop. "But Haley, you should ask Derek to show you his Instagram. There are a lot of pictures of Jack and Ginger. Some of me as well but he doesn't love me as much as he loves our pets." He made a pouty face which earned him a grin but then Haley got her phone out. It was her way to express more complex things, Derek had learned that much already, so when she turned her phone to him, he expected a written message. However, he was looking at his own Instagram.

"Sorry, she's already addicted to that," Abby told him.

"You like my pictures?" Derek asked and threw a helpless glance at Stiles. If she knew his Instagram, there was only one small step to his more adult website. Stiles gave him a nod.

"Which ones do you like best?" Derek asked and while Haley was showing him her favorites, Stiles was asking Abby in a hushed voice if she knew about Derek's website. Derek wasn't ashamed of his photos, quite the opposite, but he doubted they were appropriate for an eleven-year-old. But if Abby had been stalking them online, she most likely knew about it already. But better give her a heads-up, just in case.

"Haley, your dinner is getting cold," Abby reminded her daughter who huffed and then poked at her pasta with her fork. She was more poking than eating but Abby didn't push it.

"I'm sorry, it is delicious," she assured Stiles. "But Haley is not much of an eater." Anymore, hung unspoken over the table. Haley did finish half of her plate which apparently counted as a success.

After dinner, Abby thanked them but Haley had school tomorrow and she had still homework to do so they left shortly after. And the thank you was not only for dinner, that much was clear.

"Anytime," Stiles said and to Haley he added: "We'll bring Jack next time. And maybe you can walk him on the weekend if that's okay with your mom."

Haley nodded happily and Abby didn't know what to say so she just said that she would call as soon as she found something for them and with that they left.

"That's one messed up kid." Derek dropped on the couch.

"Yep."

 

Chapter Text

That night Abby was lying in bed, still wondering if the day hadn't just been one wonderful dream.

Haley had spoken.

Abby didn't know how a dog of all things had made that possible but she would take it. And if Haley walked that damn dog every day after school, so be it.

Finding the right place for Stiles and Derek had somewhat become a priority for Abby so the next day in the office, that was the first thing she did. With no luck. She had quite a few apartments and houses on her list but nothing really fit. It was either too small or it wasn't wheelchair friendly. Or there were no pets allowed. Or, or, or.

Frustrated Abby leaned back in her chair. She had to wait for new things to come in.

"I need coffee," Abby decided.

She fixed herself a cup and then she was sipping it slowly. On the other hand, at the moment Stiles lived only ten minutes from her own place. If Stiles allowed it, Haley could see Jack from time to time. That was a selfish thought but for a moment Abby indulged in it. Then she finished her coffee and went back to her place, she still had work to do.

"What are you doing?" Abby asked, startling Karen who tried to not make it look as if she had been reading on Abby's screen.

"That's my client." Karen pointed at the screen.

"You gave him to me," Abby reminded her. "And you seemed glad to get rid of him."

"You were supposed to show him that one apartment," Karen almost hissed. "And not to steal my client."

"What you picked out for them was not at all what they are looking for." Abby crossed her arms over her chest. "And they asked me to find something more suitable for them."

Karen harrumphed to that.

"I'm not sure if we want that kind of client," Karen continued. "Not that people associate us with … that kind."

Abby didn't ask what kind she was talking about, Karen had made her point clear the other day. Lazy bums who lived of making comics and pornographic photos. And on top of that, they were gay. And Stiles was in a wheelchair.

"Well, they are a nice couple and they want me to find the right place for them." Abby took her seat again, forcing Karen to back off.

Karen kept sulking the rest of the day but at least that kept her mostly quiet and Abby got some work done.

When she got home that day, Abby was in a good mood and she kind of hoped that it was the same for Haley. Yesterday she had been so energetic, Abby hadn't seen her like that in months.

However, when Abby entered their place and called out for her daughter she didn't get an answer. Usually, Haley would clap her hands or make some other noise to indicate that she had heard her.

Haley should have been home for over an hour now and she always came home from school right away. She didn't have friends she would hang out with after school, not any longer.

So no answer was alarming. There wasn't even music playing, so if Haley was here she should have heard her.

"Haley?" Abby called again with rising panic. It wasn't rational, she knew that, but she couldn't help it and almost sprinted to her daughter's room.

Haley was lying on her bed, on top of the covers, sleeping. Yesterday must have sucked all energy out of her, she didn't even flinch when Abby burst into her room. It had been a pain to get her out of bed in the morning, which wasn't unusual but this was.

For a second Abby stood in the door, watching her daughter sleep, but then she tiptoed over to her and felt her forehead just to make sure she wasn't sick. Her temperature was normal so Abby let her sleep for a little while longer.

Later, Haley sat at the dinner table with bleary eyes which she rubbed with the back of her hand like a five-year-old. She yawned a few times but she did pick up her fork.

"You're really tired," Abby observed and didn't bother to hide her smile. "Did something happen at school?" For a while, they had problems with a bully but things had been quiet lately.

Haley shook her head.

"Because of yesterday?"

That got her a nod.

Haley returned to poking her food and occasionally taking a bite but then she got her phone to write something.

Can I see Jack soon?

"I haven't found an apartment for them yet," Abby told her. "I have to wait until something comes up."

Stiles said I can walk Jack

"I can't just call him like that," Abby said. For some reason, the fact that Stiles was in a wheelchair made her even more uncomfortable with this. She couldn't just call him and ask him to hand over his dog.

Please? Haley wrote. He said he wouldn't mind

"People say things like that," Abby tried to reason with her. "And at that moment, they really mean it but …" She made a helpless gesture.

He means it. Haley shoved her phone into Abby's face, an angry scowl on her face.

"Okay." Abby gave in. "I'll give him a call tomorrow. But if he says no, he says no. Okay?"

Haley gave her a happy smile and to celebrate her victory she only left a small pile on her plate tonight. Abby took it as a win.

She had promised to call Stiles but it turned out harder than expected. All morning Abby was telling herself that she would do it in her lunch break when Karen would be out for her own lunch, but when lunch break rolled around, she thought that it might be better to call him after work. She didn't want to ruin his lunch break. Which was a stupid thought because she didn't even know if or when he was taking a break. It wasn't as if he was working nine to five. Which led to wasted five minutes in which Abby was musing over the hours of an artist.

But then her phone buzzed with a new message from Haley.

Did you ask him yet?

Abby glared at the screen.

Going to do it now, she answered and with that, it was set. She took a breath and tapped the call button. Part of her was hoping that he wouldn't answer but of course, Stiles picked up after the second ring.

"Hi, it's Abby," she managed to say.

They exchanged pleasantries and Abby thanked him for dinner again.

"I don't have anything for you on file, we'll have to wait until something new comes in. But I'll keep looking," she promised and with that, she was out of things to say aside from what she had called about.

"Haley is bugging you about Jack, isn't she?" Stiles asked, letting her off the hook.

"Kind of?" She couldn't help a relieved smile. "You told her that she could walk him and I'm supposed to pin you down on it."

"Could have been Derek's niece, she's the same," Stiles said easily. "She has made her mother make some calls as well."

Derek seemed to have a big family which for a second Abby was jealous of, just a little bit. After Marvin's death she could have used some family, still could use some help sometimes but this was not the moment to dwell on that.

"What am I going to tell Haley?" She asked instead.

"Do you have any plans for Sunday?"

"Not really?"

"Sweet. Derek is going to be on a job all day, which means I'm stuck with walking Jack," Stiles said. "I could use some help."

Abby wondered how he managed on his own, he didn't have a hand free for Jack's leash but she didn't ask that question.

However, now she and Haley had a date with a dog on Sunday. And with Stiles.

She texted Haley the good news and got a row of hearts back in return.

On Sunday Haley was basically dragging her out of the door. She had been ready to go an hour ago and was bouncing around the living room until they could finally go.

"Easy." Abby tried to slow her down. "Jack will still be there in five minutes."

On their way, Abby stopped at a coffee shop to get coffee for herself and Stiles, a hot chocolate for Haley and donuts for all three of them. It did cut into her money for groceries but she didn't want to arrive empty-handed. It didn't sit right with her, Stiles was doing them a favor. And they could live on ramen for a few days, no problem.

Haley glared at her for the delay but the promise of hot chocolate and a donut helped.

Stiles opened the door for them but they couldn't enter just yet. First, Jack had to greet them properly. Abby managed to save the drinks but Jack was not really interested in her. He had quickly noticed that it was Haley who had both hands free and was eager to greet him.

Then the big dog was lying in the doorway, effectively blocking it, and enjoyed his belly rub.

"Sorry, he knows how to milk new friends for belly rubs," Stiles said and let the dog, and Haley, enjoy it for a few moments longer.

"Jack, enough," he finally ordered and with a huff, Jack rolled to his feet and trotted deeper into the apartment.

"He's well trained," Abby observed. With Jack out of the way, they could actually step through the door and close it.

"I wouldn't have let Haley just walk off with him if he wasn't." Stiles shrugged and gestured for them to follow him into the living room. "I really hope one of the cups is for me." He said over his shoulder.

"And a donut," Abby added. "I didn't know how you like your coffee, I have cream and sugar on the side."

"Just sugar, thanks." He led them over to the kitchen table where Abby set out the cups and Stiles got plates for the donuts. He put them in his lap and then he turned on his back wheels, something that always made Abby's heart skip a beat because she was sure that he would topple over but he didn't and he even managed to close the door of the cupboard somewhere in between.

Jack had his head in Haley's lap and he was clearly eyeing the donut Abby was handing her daughter on a plate. He didn't beg but he was watching.

"Don't feed him pieces of donut, please," Stiles said but didn't tell the dog off. "Sugar isn't good for him."

Haley nodded and then made a point of pushing the plate farther onto the table. Scratching the dog behind the ear with one hand, she altered between her donut and the hot chocolate with the other. She got distracted quite often but she did finish both.

"Ready to go?" Stiles asked when they were done and the table was cleared. He had the leash in hand and Jack was already waiting at the door.

The park was just across the street and as far as Abby could tell, it was a nice place. Not that much litter, the grass was cut neatly and so far she hadn't seen any weird people.

Haley and Jack were running ahead while Abby and Stiles followed more slowly. It was kind of weird at first but it didn't take long and Abby fell in step with Stiles. She still didn't know if that was a phrase she should use but she didn't know how to ask.

"So Derek is on a job today?" She asked just to say something. But if she was honest, she was curious. She had seen the photos Derek had on his website.

"A private photo shooting with a couple," Stiles explained. "You know, like the ones he has online."

"That's still weird," she admitted. "He looks so normal."

"Normal is boring," Stiles answered. "But honestly, I'm kind of surprised. Not everybody is okay with what Derek is doing for a living. Or with this." He tapped the side of his wheelchair. "And with other things." He added after a moment and Abby got the feeling that he was not only talking about them being a gay couple.

Abby had noticed the leather collar Derek was wearing. It could be nothing, some people just wore things like that, but with the kind of photos he was shooting and what Stiles had said about the bedroom the other day … it got her thinking.

"I know." Abby shrugged off that thought. "Karen, my co-worker, she had said some not so nice things about you two."

"But you're okay with us?" Stiles asked. "Because if not, we should stop this before your daughter gets too attached to my dog."

Abby didn't know what this exactly was but she knew that it was good for Haley.

"People say some not so nice things about Haley as well," Abby said quietly.

 

Chapter Text

Derek came home from the photo shooting tired but happy. It had been a long day. The couple he had worked with was into Shibari, she was a real artist with the rope, but it had taken quite some time to get her partner tied up. And they hadn't just done one series of photos, they had gone through five different set-ups. It didn't sound much for one day but aside from getting the rope on, they had to get it off again. Then she had worked lotion into her partner's skin to lighten the marks the ropes had left on his body before she could start with the new rope-work.

Most of the day Derek had been sitting around, waiting. It hadn't been boring, though. Quite the opposite. He had seen pictures of Shibari art but seeing the process was fascinating. It had something sensual, almost hypnotic, he could understand how someone could sink into this. Sadly Stiles had made it clear right at the beginning that he didn't have the patience for this kind of rope-work.

"How was your day?" Stiles asked after he had kissed him properly. With a hand on Derek's butt. Stiles was not jealous or something like that, he wasn't worried that Derek would do more with the naked bodies in front of his lens than taking pretty pictures of them, but after these private sessions, he did become a tad more possessive.

Derek told him about his day but he didn't show him the pictures and Stiles didn't ask. If somebody agreed to Derek posting them on his website, he did show them to Stiles, but in cases like this, where the photos were for the couple alone, he kept it discreet and professional and didn't show them to anybody else.

"And your day with Abby and Haley?" Derek asked once he had finished his summary of the day. Stiles had let go of him at one point and now they were sitting on the couch. However, Stiles was sitting closer than strictly necessary and his hand had found its way to Derek's knee.

"I think we have a professional dog walker now," Stiles answered the question.

"Do we have to pay her now?"

"More like the other way around." Stiles slumped back until he was leaning comfortably against the back of the couch. His hand had moved with him and was now resting in the crease of Derek's hip. It didn't look as if Stiles wanted to go anywhere with this, though.

"Abby brought coffee and donuts," Stiles elaborated. "I think she feels bad for imposing."

"Who wouldn't?" Derek got more comfortable as well and stretched out his legs. Aside from sitting around the job had involved quite some crouching and crawling around his models.

"Maybe we should pay her," Stiles mused. "Haley for walking Jack, I mean."

"She's eleven, a bit young for her first paying job," Derek pointed out. "Don't you think you're getting a bit too involved in this?"

"I like her." Stiles shrugged. "And Abby," he added with a delay.

"Do you see yourself in her?" Derek asked softly. Stiles had never really gone into details when it came to his accident. He always stated the facts, if he couldn't avoid the topic altogether, but he never went into details. Scott most likely knew more about it, he had been there, and of course John and Melissa but they never talked about it either. Which was more than fine with Derek. It was Stiles' story to tell, if he ever wanted to tell it.

"Maybe a little bit?" Stiles admitted. "And c'mon, if it helps her to take Jack for a walk once or twice a week, why not?"

Stiles had a point there.

"Did she talk today?"

"No." Stiles snuggled into his side until his head rested on Derek's shoulder. "But that's not what this is about. And we shouldn't try to pressure her into talking."

"Of course not." Pressuring her would only make her clam up even more.

"I should get a dog whistle tomorrow," Stiles said.

"Hm?" Derek made, not able to follow the change of topic. Not that that was anything new with Stiles. He wasn't sure if Stiles even noticed what he was doing and somehow Derek doubted that there was a lead-up to the new topic Stiles just didn't bother to say out loud.

"A dog whistle," Stiles repeated. "Haley can't call out for Jack so we need a dog whistle."

"Does Jack know what to do when he hears the whistle?" Derek asked. If Stiles had to get one first, the answer to that was most likely no.

"He loves to learn new shit."

"Yeah, like pushing over people who just want to be friendly," Derek grumbled. Stiles had trained Jack to knock people over when they tried to get up when they thought that they had petted him enough. Jack had done that to him a few times but by now Derek knew how to get up from a crouched position without Jack sending him back on his ass.

"You shouldn't stop with the belly rubs," Stiles teased him. Haley had been Jack's latest victim but she didn't seem to mind. "But teaching him new tricks would give Haley more to do than to just walk around with him."

"Do you know what to do with a dog whistle?" Derek dared to ask. Stiles had successfully taught Jack quite a few commands and tricks but Derek had never seen him using something like a whistle before.

"Not yet." He straightened up as if he wanted to change that right now.

Derek held him back with an arm across his chest.

"You are not going to spend half the night researching dog whistles," Derek told him in a stern voice.

"I wasn't …" Stiles started but then he deflated. "I was just going to have a quick look."

"I know your quick looks." Derek knew them way too well. "And maybe you should ask Abby first if it's okay before you set up a practice schedule with Jack and Haley."

Stiles grumbled to that but agreed to call Abby first thing in the morning.

After dinner, he did jump right into a research spree and Derek had to promise him a blow-job to get him to bed.

In the morning Derek moved over to his place, he needed some peace and quiet to get some work done.

When he came in and let Ginger out of the carrier, Derek called out for Josh but wasn't surprised when he didn't get an answer. His cousin should be at school by now. Not that that had ever been a problem since Josh had moved in with him. He probably feared that his parents would force him to come home if he skipped school too often. For which Derek was glad because he was the responsible adult around here and Josh's mom plus his own would lay into him if he was too lax with Josh. Not that he had spoken with his mom in months. According to Peter, she was still not over him throwing her out. And there was still gossip going around about the Dom Series he had shown at the gallery. Apparently, Talia couldn't even do the groceries without people asking inappropriate questions.

So Josh was at school, at least that, but he had left the apartment in chaos. Derek had never been nit-picky and he tended to use the vacuum cleaner less frequently than he probably should but he had never been this bad. He didn't care that much about what Josh was doing while Derek was over at Stiles' but there were dirty socks on the floor, the couch and the carpet in front of it were littered with crumbled chips, used plates and glasses were stacked on the couch table and an open coke bottle was just waiting for Ginger to come home to push it over the edge.

"We need to have a talk," Derek said into the empty room and then he had to hurry because Ginger was already exploring the couch table.

Derek had wanted to start with work right away but he didn't even have some free space to set up his laptop. And he needed to air the room. He probably should vacuum the chips as well before they got dragged everywhere.

When the washing machine and the dishwasher were running and the table was not sticky anymore, Derek dared to set up his workplace on the kitchen table.

He hoped that Abby would find something for them soon, at least then Josh would have his own room and the only one who had to live in his filth would be Josh himself. But for now, they would need some ground rules. Which Derek had failed to establish in the beginning. But that had been right after his exhibition when he'd kicked out his mother and Cora and he had just been glad that somebody from his family was still on his side. He hadn't thought about dirty underwear under the cushions on the couch back then. Which was a thing he'd found today.

"I got you housebroken," Derek told Ginger who had curled up on the other chair at the kitchen table. "Josh can't be worse."

Ginger just flicked his tail and didn't answer.

Derek actually did get some work done and in the afternoon he sent the pictures from a photo shooting he had done last week to the client. He did printouts if the clients asked for it but in most cases, it was easier for him and cheaper for the client to send them the digital copies for them to do whatever they wanted to do with them.

To get a break from editing, he still had to touch up the pictures from two other photo shootings including the one yesterday, Derek went online to check on his social media. That was still the part he liked least but he got that it was an important part of his job. He put some new photos on his Instagram, all of Jack, and then he thought why not? and tagged them #foraspecialgirl.

Derek was still busy with answering comments and emails when Josh came home from school. He must have sensed that something was wrong, most likely the freshly cleaned living room gave it away, because he sat down his bag carefully.

"Didn't expect you home so soon," he said lamely.

"I noticed." Derek pushed his laptop away and leaned back in his chair. "I live here and occasionally I am home."

Josh cringed. "I wanted to clean up before you got home."

Derek let out a sigh.

"I get it, not having a room for yourself sucks," he said. "And I don't expect everything to be spotless all the time, I'm not that big on the cleaning thing either, but can we keep it to a level where I don't have to clean half the apartment before I can start with work?"

Josh slumped down in the chair next to him.

"I didn't mean to leave it like that," he said almost pleading. "I'm sorry."

"Hey." Derek ducked his head to look him in the eye. "I'm not going to kick you out. You'd have to do way more than leaving your dirty underwear under the cushions to make me kick you out."

They had been living like this for a few weeks now and Derek had the suspicion that Josh was just waiting for the day Derek had enough of his school stuff all over the place even without the addition of dirty clothes and used dishes.

Derek had been there, stranded in New York and abandoned by his family, he would never do that to Josh. He knew that Josh's parents always had an open door for him but he still wouldn't just kick him out.

"And once we find a place for us all, you'll have a room just for yourself and you can be a slob in there as much as you want," Derek said with a smile which seemed to ease off Josh's worries. "But until then? I think I have a hamper somewhere around here and you can do the laundry once in a while. And the dishwasher is right over there." He pointed at the still running machine just because.

"Understood." Josh nodded and then he hurried to change the topic. "Is Stiles coming over or are you going back to his place?"

That they would stay at different places for the night didn't even seem to be an option but if Derek was honest, he couldn't even remember the last time he and Stiles had slept in different beds.

"He' coming over." Derek reached for his laptop again, with any luck he could get some more work done before Stiles arrived. "He brings dinner. For some reason, he thinks I can't feed you properly."

"He knows you."

 

Chapter Text

Abby ended the call and then she set her phone on her desk, still not believing what had just happened. She wasn't used to people just being nice to her. She and Marvin never had many friends and after Marvin … after the accident … they had all left, one by one. They didn't have family around here which left Abby alone with Haley. She had to sell the house in a rush and pick a small apartment but the bills had kept piling up, with the funeral and Haley's medical treatment after the accident and Abby had needed a new car, leaving her no time for her own grief let alone maintain friendships. So in the last few months, it had been just Haley and her and they had to fight tooth and nail to keep the little they had.

Then Derek and Stiles came along with their dog. They didn't get mad when Haley sneaked into their car to pet Jack. They didn't get weird about Haley. They just took it in stride and invited them over for dinner. And then for a walk in the park. Stiles especially seemed to be set on helping Haley. He could relate, Abby got that, but they were basically strangers to him.

And now this. Stiles had called her and asked if Haley would like to walk Jack twice a week. He even offered money, saying something about professional dog walkers being a thing, "look it up if you don't believe me" and that that would give Haley the feeling that she was doing him a favor and not the other way around. Abby had the suspicion that he was thinking about her with the favor thing as well but before she could say something to that, he was already talking about dog whistles.

"It was that or a normal whistle but this way she can call Jack without the whole park staring at her." Stiles had kept going without a pause. How he didn't run out of breath was beyond her. "And Jack loves learning new tricks, they can bond over that. I'll start with him beforehand so that he'll at least have an idea what this is all about but how about Sunday?"

Abby had needed a second to realize that he had stopped and had actually asked a question.

"Sunday?" She had repeated.

"To train with the whistle," Stiles had explained.

Abby had nodded as if she knew what he was talking about but then she had remembered that he couldn't see her so she'd said "okay".

And now she was sitting here and was trying to comprehend that Haley had a job as a dog walker. And that she would learn how to direct a dog with a whistle. A dog who had no idea what to do with said whistle.

Stiles was erratic and loud and he had this idea only yesterday and now he was just running with it. Abby should have found a way to say no, this only could end in disaster and she didn't want to disappoint Haley. Not with this. Since the accident this had been the first thing she had shown interest in, hell, she had broken her silence to make clear how much she wanted this.

However, it actually did sound like fun. And Abby got the feeling that Stiles could pull this off, that he would not abandon this idea after two days because teaching a dog new tricks to entertain a mute girl he barely knew was not as easy as it looked.

"Are we having a date on Sunday?" Karen almost sing-songed. Stiles had caught Abby at work, looked like Karen had been eavesdropping.

"Haley has made friends with a dog," Abby said. "I just spoke with the owner, she can walk his dog twice a week."

Abby hoped that that would be the end of it, she had avoided talking about Haley to Karen, she didn't need to hear whatever the other woman had to say about her mute child.

"His?" Karen picked up on that. "Hope you're not stupid enough to just let her go on her own." Karen gave her a look as if she thought that Abby actually was stupid enough to let Haley just walk off with any stranger who happened to have a dog. "Wouldn't be the first time a guy uses his dog to lure in some little, innocent child."

"He's not a stranger," Abby defended Stiles. She had been at his place and she hadn't gotten any bad vibes from him. Or from Derek for that matter. Even if Derek had this bad guy vibe going on, she had seen him with Haley and Jack, he might have a rough surface but under that, he was a marshmallow.

"It's about time you start dating again," Karen said, most likely labeling Stiles boyfriend in her mind already.

"We're not dating. Remember that gay couple you dropped on me?" Abby asked, and no she did not steal them. "One of them has a dog. He brought him to the viewing and I had Haley in the car …" She made a helpless gesture.

"The one with those sinful photos?" Karen gasped. "I wouldn't let my daughter anywhere near a man like that. Who knows what else he's going to do?"

"Actually, the dog belongs to the one with the comics," Abby said coldly. "But Derek, he's the photographer, is a very nice man."

Of course, she wouldn't just leave Haley with two men she barely knew, no matter how nice they were, but Stiles had stressed the point that he wanted her to come with Haley so that she knew what they were up to. And when it came to walking Jack on her own Abby would think of something to make sure that Haley was safe. But Haley wanted this, she had used her voice to make clear how much she wanted it, there was no way Abby would deny her this.

Karen went on with the potential danger. Apparently, gay men were suspicious on their own but artists and Derek's choice of topic for his art made them people one did not associate with. They might even be liberal. But for sure they were pedophiles.

Abby didn't tell her that she would be more worried about Karen's husband Terry around Haley. She didn't really know the man but every mugshot of a serial killer she had seen on TV looked a lot like Terry to her. It didn't mean that liberal, gay artists were safe per se but statistically speaking …

While Karen kept ranting, Abby amused herself with wondering where Terry would hide the bodies.

Over dinner, Abby told Haley about Stiles' offer. First, her eyes went big, then she nodded hard enough that Abby was worried she would give herself a concussion and then Haley did her best to suffocate Abby with a fierce hug.

"I take that as a yes." Abby laughed and hugged her back.

On Sunday things couldn't move along fast enough for Haley. She barely touched her breakfast and was basically bouncing off the walls until it was time to drive over to Stiles. To keep her busy for at least a little while Abby asked if she wanted to draw something for Stiles.

He can draw better than me, Haley wrote on her phone with a disgruntled face.

"I bet he would love a picture from you," Abby assured her and reluctantly Haley got her pencils.

She drew Jack in the center with Stiles next to him, he was easily recognizable by the wheelchair. On Jack's other side she drew herself with Abby standing with her. Derek came in as a bit of an afterthought but he got his place at Stiles' side.

When they were ready to leave, Haley rolled up her picture carefully and now she was clutching it in her fist.

"He'll love it," Abby promised again when she parked her car at Stiles' place. There was a black sports car parked next to Stiles' car but otherwise, the parking lot was fairly empty.

It was Derek who opened the door but he was quickly pushed aside by Jack who greeted Haley enthusiastically. Haley laughed and crumbled her picture even more in her attempt to fend off the dog and petting him at the same time.

When it became too much, Derek told Jack to stop and the dog did back off immediately. Abby hadn't really paid attention to this before but since they were here to work with the dog on new comments she did notice how well behaved Jack was. Sure he had tried to basically climb Haley and he had knocked her over the other day, but at the same time he was gentle and when Derek or Stiles gave an order, he obeyed. Like now, he trotted back to the living room and settled down on his blanket with only a word from Derek.

"Sorry, he really likes new friends." Derek stepped aside to let them in. "Stiles is in the living room."

The second Haley saw Stiles, she became shy and tried to hide behind Abby. The paper in her hand was crumbled in the middle because she was holding on to it way too tightly.

"Let's say hello to Stiles, shall we?" Abby put a hand between Haley's shoulder blades to encourage her.

"Hey there," Stiles greeted them while he turned towards them. On his back wheels with the front ones in the air, a sight Abby had still not gotten used to, she still expected him to topple over any second.

Haley didn't look him in the eye, or anywhere in his direction, but she did step forward, holding out the picture to him.

"For me?" Stiles asked and when Haley nodded, he accepted it with a thank you.

"My, this is pretty," he said when he had carefully unraveled it. "And of course Jack is the center of attention." He huffed in fake annoyance which got him a smile from Haley who now dared to look at him.

"Okay, this is me." Stiles pointed on the figure in the wheelchair. "And this is Derek? You got the eyebrows right, I like it."

Next to Abby Derek furrowed said eyebrows but didn't say anything to that.

"And this is you and your mom, right?" They were more or less brown blobs, a small one and a bigger one. "I like it, I like it a lot. Thank you."

He studied the picture for a moment longer while Haley was giving him the toothiest smile ever.

"Do you know that I'm an art teacher?" Stiles asked to what Haley shook her head. That was new to Abby as well but she hadn't really dug deeper once she'd found his comic. For which she was still waiting for the next update. "Can I give you a little advice?"

Haley didn't seem so sure about that but she did give him a nod.

"You got Jack's fur with the black, brown and white." Stiles pointed at the dog in the middle. "It's clear that it's Jack and not some other dog. You have my chair and Derek's eyebrows, that makes us recognizable as well. But you and your mom? There is nothing telling me right away that this is you and this is your mom."

Haley followed his finger but then she nodded, biting her lip. She got her phone out and typed something. Stiles just waited patiently until she showed him the screen. Abby couldn't read it from this distance but it was hardly a guess what she was asking.

"It doesn't have to be something big," Stiles assured her. "Just something to recognize you by. With you it could be your phone, you use it constantly, it would make sense if you have it in hand."

Haley thought about it but then she nodded, agreeing with him. She wrote more.

"With your mom, I would go with the hair," Stiles answered her next question. "I have only seen her a few times but she's always wearing a bun."

Now everybody was looking at her and Abby fought the urge to touch her hair.

"It's practical," She defended herself. "And I like it."

"Not saying anything against it," Stiles assured her but then he turned to Abby again. "What do you think?"

She typed her answer.

"Of course, I have pencils," he answered. "Derek has threatened to throw out the old ones if I dare to buy more but I say the same thing about his folders with photos so he can't do anything." He stuck out his tongue at Derek.

"Half of your markers are dried out and you have a whole collection of pencils so short you can't even use them with that extension any longer."

"You don't know what you're talking about." Stiles put the picture in his lap and then he turned his back to Derek in a dramatic way. "This way, milady."

 

Chapter Text

Haley followed Stiles out of the room, leaving Abby and Derek in the living room.

"Sorry, that's the teacher part coming out," Derek excused his partner's behavior. "This might take a while. Please." He offered her a place on the couch while he took the chair.

"He's good with kids," Abby observed.

From the other room, Derek could hear Stiles' voice but it was too low to make out words.

"He's a teacher," Derek reminded her. "At least at the side. But his students are usually older. His main job is his art and the commission work."

Before this could turn into an awkward silence, Derek had no clue what he should say, small talk was more Stiles' thing, they were saved by Ginger.

"Wow." Abby almost jumped out of her seat when Ginger climbed the back of the couch and basically jumped into her lap. After a moment of shock Abby laughed and let the cat sniff her hand.

"Most of the time he's friendly," Derek assured her. "And he gives fair warnings."

"Assuring?" Abby threw him a glance but then Ginger decided that she was acceptable as somebody to pet him and made himself comfortable in her lap. He didn't have to ask twice, Abby was already scratching his chin.

"You're stuck now, hope you know that," Derek teased her, remembering the times he had been stuck like that. Technically, one could just throw off the cat but nobody would ever do that.

"Looks like they won't be back any time soon anyway." Abby shrugged. She could have been stuck with worse things than petting a cat, Derek had to admit.

"Stiles has been working with Jack a bit already," Derek changed the topic.

"With the dog whistle," he explained when Abby didn't seem to follow his jump in topic. Stiles must be rubbing off on him. "It's far from perfect but Jack knows that the whistle is important and that there are treats involved if he gets it right."

"That's good," Abby said. "To be honest, I was a bit worried that Stiles would just jump in with no idea what he was doing. And that he would get frustrated and call it off if things don't work out the way he wants them to."

"I had to drag him off his laptop," Derek told her. "Otherwise he would have researched everything there is to know about those whistles. And I mean everything. From where and when they have been invented to how people on the other side of the globe have used them a hundred years ago, things like that." He shook his head. "But don't worry, the first thing he looked up, was how to use them and how to get the dog to do what you want with them."

"That's good." She paused. "If they ever get to that today." She gave the door a pointed look to which Derek gave her an amused snort.

"Even if not, we can do this another time," he said. "Stiles is thinking long term, just so you know. If you want to run, do it now."

"Since she has met Jack ..." Abby started but didn't seem to know how to put her thoughts in words. "Haley's more alive lately."

Derek got what she meant. He didn't really know the details but from what Abby had told them, he understood that Haley had not only stopped talking. Abby hadn't said it but he would bet money that she didn't have many friends if any. And apparently, she hadn't shown interest in anything until she had met Jack.

Plus, he had seen her eating the other day. She hadn't eaten that much but Abby had looked so grateful that she had eaten at all. Haley was thinner than she should be, Derek had noticed.

"You know," Abby continued. "You met Karen, my co-worker, right?" Of course, he had. He had been the one talking with her about the apartment they were looking for. He had instantly disliked her.

"She got wind of this thing with Haley walking Jack."

"Let me guess, she has her own opinion on this?"

"She thinks that you have ulterior motives," Abby told him. "The other day she wouldn't stop talking about the danger I'm putting Haley in."

That made Derek think. He hadn't really seen it from that side.

"What do you think?" He dared to ask. She was sitting her alone with him, a man she barely knew.

For a moment she kept her eyes on Ginger, fingers still buried in his fur, but then she looked up.

"I'm not sure if you're just nice or if you're aiming for something here," she said more honestly than he would have expected. "But Haley wants this and if there is a chance that this works out, I'll take it."

"We're not a threat." Derek felt the need to say. Stiles was usually not seen as a threat even if he was the more dangerous one of them. Derek on the other side knew what he looked like with his scruff and the leather jacket and his thick eyebrows. Stiles never got bored of telling him that those eyebrows gave him a brooding look. He did look like the kind of man parents warned their children about.

"I wouldn't be here if I thought so." She gave him a smile. And then she continued to tell him everything her co-worker had said about them. It was quite amusing.

"You two having fun?" Suddenly Stiles spoke up behind them while Haley was already rushing to Abby's side to show her the pictures. Derek recognized the one she had brought with her, the paper was crumbled in the middle, but the other one was new.

"That's me with the bun?" Abby asked and this time Derek got a good look at the picture. Haley had added her phone and her mother's hair and Derek's eyebrows did look as if somebody had fattened them up as well, with a thick black marker. Derek threw Stiles a glare who just ignored it.

"And what do you have here?" Abby put the first picture aside to have a look at the other one. Haley must have prepared her answer on her phone because she just shoved it in Abby's face.

"I showed her a little trick to get the proportions right," Stiles explained and came around the couch. "It's a bit more tricky with me sitting and with Jack of course but I think she got the hang of it." He ruffled her hair which made her giggle.

The second picture was basically the old one again but Derek could still see the faint lines and circles which helped to get the proportions right. Derek had seen Stiles sketching that way many times and it was still amazing how a few lines turned into a face or a whole body that looked right and not as if the arms were too long or the eyes were too low in the face. It was like magic.

Derek rather stuck to his camera, he knew how to work with that.

"Is this for Stiles as well?" Abby asked but it turned out that the second one was for Abby, Stiles would keep the original.

"Okay." Stiles clapped his hands. "There was something about teaching Jack new tricks if I recall correctly."

Instantly the drawings were forgotten and Haley was standing to attention in front of Stiles. He had at least trained her well so far.

Abby was still stuck with Ginger, the cat didn't look as if he wanted to move ever again, and Derek didn't really want to get caught in this either, so they stayed back while Stiles and Haley moved over where they had more room.

"Okay," Stiles said. "First you have to get a feeling for the whistle." He got a piece of paper out of his pocket. "These are the basic commands, we can build up from there."

The basic commands were apparently come, stay and stay close which all had a different tune to it. Come was one sharp blow with the whistle and they started with that.

Haley tried a few times to get the hang of it but even if Derek couldn't hear it, it looked as if she got the sharp whistles right. Jack, who was the only one able to hear it, came over to find out what this was all about. For which he got his first treat.

Stiles had used the combination of Jack's name with the whistle a few times so the dog at least had an idea what this was about.

Stiles did this a few times now, the verbal command followed by the whistle, before he handed the whistle back to Haley.

Then he sent Jack to his blanket.

"Try calling him," Stiles encouraged Haley.

Jack gave them a questioning look but then he hesitantly, still eyeing Stiles, not sure if he was doing something wrong by leaving his place, Jack came over to Haley who had a treat waiting for him.

"Good boy," Stiles told him while Haley covered the petting part of the praise.

They did it a few more times but it looked like Jack had gotten the idea. At some point, Ginger had fled into the bedroom, looked as if Jack wasn't the only one able to hear the whistle and it must come as a relief for the cat when Stiles decided that they were ready to take this outside.

The next hour Derek spent with Abby on a bench while they watched Haley and Stiles with Jack. By now Stiles was sending Jack off quite a distance but the dog always came back to Haley to get his treat when she blew the whistle.

"Stiles said that I have to train with him as well," Derek said after a while. "And Josh too. So that Jack gets used to the whistle." At least the whistle was not audible to human ears, he would feel stupid if he was blowing a whistle all over the park. He might look stupid with an apparently silent one as well but seeing how much fun Haley had, he didn't really mind that much.

Watching them got kind of boring after a while, they were doing the same thing over and over again, so naturally, he and Abby started to talk. Derek had never been that much of a talker but with Abby, it was kind of easy. At first, they were talking about the place Abby was trying to find for them. Which brought them to Josh who would move in with them. Derek didn't tell her that he broke with part of his family and that Josh had been kind of the result of that clash but he did tell her about him finishing school here in New York and that he wanted to study journalism. While he was already working on his first book.

"Josh is hogging my place," Derek said with an exaggerated sigh. "His stuff is everywhere, he needs a room for himself. Or maybe a small apartment on a different floor." That option had come up as well but two apartments weren't easy to find either and they had to keep an eye on the financial part.

"Working on it," Abby promised but Derek knew that what they were looking for was hard to find.

She did bring up his photos at one point. Derek wasn't surprised, everybody asked sooner or later, but Abby didn't seem disgusted.

"You're taking this easier than most," Derek said. "Most see it as pornographic and nothing else."

"C'mon," she said with something like outrage in her voice. "Some of your photos I would hang in my bedroom. They're beautiful."

"I know the artist." Derek leaned over to her as if he was telling her a secret. "I can get you a good deal."

"Thanks, but they are way too expensive for me."

Derek didn't think of his photos as that expensive even without the deal but they had a price. The gallery had set kind of a high bar for the ones from the exhibition and Derek had kept that up with the follow-up series, at least for the originals. With the rest, he kept to what Stiles had told him but they were affordable, especially the digital version.

"The offer stands," he said and then they were talking about his art. It was quite an unusual topic he had chosen, of course it raised questions. Derek had known that before he had even put the first BDSM picture out there. By now he was quite used to this kind of questions and he maneuvered them without revealing too much about himself and Stiles but he left enough hints for people to get the picture. Derek still didn't like it, it always felt forced and stilted, but Kira and Lydia had both trained with him so he wouldn't stammer into the mike, Lydia's words not his.

"Can I ask you something personal?" Abby asked once he had finished his explanation. He could guess where this was heading but he nodded anyway.

"You're wearing ..." She gestured around her own throat to indicate that she meant the collar he was wearing.

His fingers found their way on their own to the slim leather band around his neck.

"Is that ...?" she started. "I mean, you and Stiles ..."

 

Chapter Text

Derek talked about his art in a professional way, his answers felt practiced, but Abby didn't get the feeling that he fell back to a statement he would give in an interview to keep the distance between them. Today they had spent quite some time together and Abby got the impression that Derek retreated to this practiced answers because he didn't really know how to put this in words of his own.

He didn't outright say anything about his relationship with Stiles but his pictures spoke for themselves and he gave more than enough hints to fill in the blanks.

Abby had noticed the collar and she had wondered about it before. It could just be something Derek wore because he liked it, Abby had seen similar leather bands a few times, but he had a few photos too many on his website with people wearing collars to just brush this off as something fashionable. So she asked.

Derek's hand came up to his throat but she doubted that he even noticed that he was doing it.

For a second he was clearly thinking about the answer, he could just tell her that it was something between him and Stiles and none of her business but in the end, he did answer.

"The pictures of Stiles are not staged," Derek said. "Well, they are but they show how I see him. As my dom." He paused and glanced over to her. He had a short text on his website, explaining BDSM and the lifestyle, so the word dom wasn't new to Abby but she hadn't looked farther into this. She liked the pictures but she wasn't interested in the thing itself and she got the feeling that she would get an eyeful of real porn if she dug deeper into this.

"So, you're his ... sub?" She wasn't sure if she remembered the term right.

"Yes." He nodded. "We are engaged. Instead of a ring, he gave me this." He slipped his thumb under the collar with a dreamy smile.

"And he ... dominates you?" She didn't want to pry but for one she was curious and two, she was about to trust these men with her daughter, she needed to know.

"Yes," Derek confirmed. "But only in defined scenarios. Right now he's my boyfriend and not my dom. And we would never do something while Haley is around. It's private, like every other love life."

He sounded sincere and Abby believed him. What other people were doing in the bedroom was none of her business anyway.

Then something occurred to her.

"Is that why Stiles needs to be able to move around the bed freely?"

"What?"

Abby blushed, maybe she shouldn't have blurted it out like that.

"The other day at the viewing," she explained. "Stiles said that the bedroom was too small, that he wouldn't be able to get around the bed quickly enough. It didn't make sense to me because why would he need to do that? He could get over there and the side by the door was easily accessible for him." She was babbling now, the words just tumbling out of her mouth.

Derek gave her a look as if he wanted to tell her to shut up but then he seemed to come to a decision.

"He has to have access to me all the time," he said with his eyes now on Haley and Stiles who were still working with Jack. "It's harder for him because of the chair, he can't just run around the bed. And he can't reach that far."

Abby hadn't really thought about this. She had never met somebody in a wheelchair but she had been amazed how easily Stiles managed the everyday tasks and obstacles. She didn't know how Stiles managed the BDSM part, she hadn't really seen anything in action just the pictures on Derek's website, but thinking about it, it made sense.

"Okay, I'll keep a big bedroom in mind." She nodded, making a mental note. "Anything else I should keep in mind for your new apartment?"

Derek let out a relieved laugh.

"What?" She asked. These were important information for her job.

"You're the first who just accepts it," Derek said. "Most doubt that Stiles is able to be a dom. Some think he's abusing me or something like that." His voice became quiet and he was looking down on his hands hanging between his knees. "Some think I'm weak or even sick because I want this." His voice broke over the last words.

Abby didn't know what to say to that. Following an impulse, she put her hand on his forearm.

"I've seen you and Stiles together, the way you interact," she said carefully. "You're not afraid of him. I know it can be an act but I doubt it. You love him, that's obvious. And he loves you. That's all that matters."

He nodded, the fingers of his free hand playing with his collar again.

"If you're done holding hands …" Stiles came up to them and stopped his chair with a ninety-degree turn that sent the gravel flying.

"We're not ..." Abby pulled her hand from Derek's arm as if she had been burned. "I didn't ..."

"We're done with the training." Stiles gave her a broad grin. "Jack needs to run off some energy now."

"I swear we didn't ..." Abby tried again. She didn't want for this to stand between them. She did not have any intention towards Derek.

"Sure." Stiles drew out the word. At least he seemed to have fun and wasn't outraged or yelling at them.

"Stiles, stop making her uncomfortable," Derek scolded him and stood. "Don't mind him, he knows there's nothing going on."

"You're no fun." Stiles pouted but he really didn't seem to mind. "I'll take Jack for a sprint and then we can finish with a normal walk."

Abby didn't understand what he was talking about and it didn't become clearer when he clicked both ends of Jack's leash into the dog's collar.

"What the ..." She started when they took off. Like a horse in front of a carriage, Jack was pulling Stiles along the path.

"He does that from time to time." Derek followed them in a slow walk. "Don't know who's having more fun, he or Jack."

With one arm over Haley's shoulder, Abby started walking as well.

"Did you have fun?" Abby asked to which Haley nodded without taking her eyes off Stiles. It did look like fun and Abby had to admit that she felt jealous herself. Just a little bit.

By now they were way ahead but Stiles' laughter still carried over to them along with his yells of "on your left" whenever he passed someone.

Haley finally tore her eyes off him to type something on her phone.

Stiles says I can walk Jack alone now

"We should set a date, then." Abby couldn't resist and kissed the crown of her head and holding her close. In response, Haley snuggled into her side.

Can he teach me art as well?

"You want to draw?"

Haley nodded.

That came as a surprise. Haley had drawn from time to time and had filled a few coloring books but she had never shown interest in making that into something more. Abby glanced at Derek who was a few steps ahead of them now.

"Maybe he can give you tips here and there," she said vaguely. Private lessons were expensive. "And you can start practicing on your own, things like that need a lot of practicing."

YouTube tutorials, Abby thought. There were tutorials for everything online, why not for this. If Haley was still interested in this in a few days, it was worth a look.

"Are you talking about drawing?" Derek asked over his shoulder. He slowed down to match Abby's pace. He must have heard what she had said but had missed Haley's part of the conversation.

"Stiles got her interested in drawing," Abby told him.

"You can ask him," Derek said. "But be prepared for an answer. A long answer." He made a suffering noise which got him a giggle from Haley.

Abby was worried that Haley would bombard Stiles now with her questions but since Derek had offered so freely she could hardly forbid it.

"Just don't pester him too much," she reminded Haley who nodded with an earnest expression.

They caught up with Stiles at an hot-dog stand. Jack was already chewing on an hot-dog and Stiles was waiting for them with four hot-dogs sitting in his lap.

"Take these off before I burn things I really don't want to burn." He made a face.

"You can't even feel your legs." Derek rolled his eyes at him but picked up two of the hot-dogs and offered them to Abby and Haley.

"Exactly." Stiles gestured wildly without doing something about the two remaining hot-dogs in his lap. "I could have third degrees burns without even knowing."

"I don't smell anything burning." Derek didn't seem concerned in the slightest and was more busy with handing one hot-dog to Haley who took it with a smile and giving Abby the raised eyebrow when she didn't reach for hers.

"We can't ..." Abby started but didn't know how to finish that statement ... pay you back, would have been the honest answer but she didn't want to give away that she was waiting for her next paycheck. Commissions were nice but not reliable.

But Stiles wasn't having any of that.

"The hot-dogs are already paid for and I'll just give Jack the leftovers if you don't want them and that wouldn't be good for Jack. One hot-dog without the bun and everything is okay but not the whole thing, let alone two."

Just to shut him up, Abby accepted the hot-dog from Derek. The man managing the stand was already looking at them with an amused expression.

They ate while Jack was running around, playing with the other dogs in the park. He seemed to know the other dogs and the owners were greeting Stiles and Derek as well but since they had company today, nobody tried to engage them in a conversation.

"You come here every day?" Abby asked. The hot-dog was good, she couldn't deny that and even Haley took a few hearty bites before she slowed down.

"It's the closest park to my place," Stiles answered and wiped mustard off his chin with the back of his hand. "When we stay over at Derek's we have other places of course."

Right, they had mentioned that they were altering between their places, one of the reasons they were looking for something bigger where they could live together.

They watched Jack play for a little while but when Stiles had finished his hot-dog, he called him over and slowly they started the walk back. Haley and Derek were still eating but they could finish while they were walking. It took a moment for Abby to realize that Stiles couldn't eat and move at the same time. It was weird how different even these little things were for him. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she just took whatever Haley was shoving into her hand. When she looked down, it was the empty wrapper from her hot-dog.

"Did you eat the whole thing?" Abby asked without even thinking. Haley gave her an annoyed look and then hurried to catch up with Jack.

"Eating is a problem, too?" Stiles asked. Of course, he had noticed her comment.

"She eats," Abby hurried to assure him. "But not much," she added after a beat. "I think this is the first thing she has finished this month."

She waited for their comments and advice, everybody seemed to have advice on how to deal with her traumatized daughter, but neither Stiles nor Derek said anything in that direction.

"I didn't feel like eating either," was all Stile had to say. Then he gave his chair a push and a second later he was way ahead of them. That thing was fast.

Which left Abby with Derek again. They walked in silence. Derek had his hands deep in his pockets and he seemed lost in his own thoughts. Abby didn't feel the need to fill the silence with him so she just followed the others and kept an eye on Haley who was running back and forth with Jack, playing tag or something like that.

"She's having fun," Derek observed.

"Yeah. It's good to see her like this." She couldn't even remember the last time Haley had been this carefree.

"Don't worry about imposing or bothering Stiles too much," Derek said out of the blue. "And don't hesitate to call him off if he gets too clingy."

"He does that?"

"Stiles doesn't trust easy," Derek said. "He doesn't just let people in."

That was absolutely not the impression she had gotten. Stiles had been understanding and there right from the beginning. When she told Derek that much, he just smiled.

"He likes Haley and he likes you."

 

Chapter Text

"That was fun but I'm glad it's over now." Stiles moved from his chair to the couch and sank into the cushions with a sigh. They had parted with Abby and Haley when they had left the park.

Abby would bring Haley over on Wednesday and Sunday so that she could walk Jack. Derek didn't know what Stiles had planned for those days but he would bet money that Haley wouldn't just walk the dog and leave again.

"They're nice people," Derek said and took his seat next to Stiles. Then he put Stiles' legs in his lap and started to massage his calves and feet.

"I'm good," Stiles tried to protest but got more comfortable when Derek gave him a look.

"You're so bossy," Stiles muttered but then he closed his eyes. Derek knew that Stiles wasn't feeling anything of what he was doing down here but it always helped Stiles to relax.

"Haley wants to start drawing," Derek suddenly remembered and it might be good to give Stiles a headsup.

"She said that?" Stiles blinked his eyes open and tried to come up to a sitting position. Derek pushed him back down and kept massaging his legs.

"Abby said something about asking for your advice here and there." He didn't know about Haley's side of the conversation. "But don't start with a schedule right now. She's a kid, tomorrow she probably wants to play the drums or she wants to dance."

"You're probably right." Stiles relaxed again. "But she's persistent with Jack. She would have practiced with him for another hour if I had let her. But Jack needed a break."

Derek looked over to Jack who was on his blanket, already sleeping. Ginger had snuggled up to him, it was a cute sight. Cute enough for him to abandon Stiles' legs for a moment and to take a picture which he instantly put on Instagram.

"You are going to be a social media addict soon," Stiles predicted but he hummed in content when Derek put the phone away and started on his legs again.

"Abby asked about my pictures," he said after a moment. "And the collar."

"What did you tell her?" Stiles didn't even crack an eye open at that. Everybody asked those questions sooner or later.

"The usual." Derek shrugged. "And a bit more."

That did get him a reaction from Stiles.

"Did you tell her that you're wearing the cage?"

"Of course not." When she had asked about his relationship with Stiles, the cage had come back to mind but otherwise, he hadn't thought about it all day. This was his third day locked up and by now he was so used to it that he forgot about it most of the time.

"And she's okay with it?" Stiles asked.

A lot of people weren't. Especially with a kid around. Derek didn't really understand that line of thought, he would never expose a kid or anybody for that matter to his sex life not matter if it was vanilla or kinky.

"She is. She even promised to get us a bedroom big enough for our needs." He still couldn't believe that part.

"She's awesome."

Done with Stiles' calves Derek moved farther up. Stiles' thighs were tense too and methodically he started to work on the hard strands of muscles. And if he was getting closer to Stiles' crotch, it would just be coincidence, right?

"Are you planning something?" Stiles asked but did nothing to stop him.

"I want you to relax so I don't have to dump you in the bathtub in the middle of the night," Derek said and ran a firm hand down the outsides of his legs and up on the inside. Then he did it again. He always stopped short of Stiles' crotch and moved to the outside. No inappropriate touching, just a good old massage.

"Keep up with that and I might get the idea to let you ride me," Stiles said but he was still lying relaxed and he had his eyes closed again. "I would leave the cage on, get you all hot and bothered, and after I shot my come into you I would leave you just like that. With your dick still locked away and my come leaking out of your used hole. You would be so horny but you would know that you won't get release tonight."

While Stiles talked, Derek kept his rhythm, up on the inside, down on the outside, but he felt the heat pooling in his belly. Then he stopped, hands resting on Stiles' hips with this thumbs in the crease where the leg ended.

"You would like that, wouldn't you?" Now Stiles was looking at him with hunger in his eyes.

"Yes." Derek held his gaze for a moment but then he lowered his eyes. "Please."

"Touch me," Stiles said and Derek's hands flew to his fly. But Stiles stopped him. "Through the jeans. Use your mouth as well."

That he could do. Derek palmed him through the stiff fabric, jeans weren't the best choice for this kind of thing and Stiles was not even hard yet which made it even more difficult. Derek started with gentle strokes, broadly covering the whole area before he started to focus more on the center. Stiles was getting hard under him, the line of his cock becoming more and more palpable. With the heel of his hand, Derek rubbed the base and then firmly along the line of his cock. It got him a sweet noise from Stiles.

"Don't forget your mouth," Stiles reminded him.

Obediently Derek ducked in but instead of sucking he sealed his lips over where he thought the tip of Stiles cock was and blew hot air through the fabric.

"Hmm," Stiles made. His hands came down to Derek's head, holding him in place. "Get me nice and sloppy, it's going to be the only lube you'll get."

That thought sent shivers down Derek's spine and he started to lick and suck in earnest now. By the time Stiles let him free his cock, the denim was soaked through and even Stiles' boxers were damp.

"You have one minute before I shove this up your ass." Stiles grabbed the base of his cock to make his point clear. "And you can only use your tongue to slick me up, you better start now."

Stiles actually took his phone out to measure the minute so Derek didn't waste time. This would have been way easier if he was allowed to take Stiles into his mouth, which was exactly the point, so he tried his best to work up enough saliva and to spread it over Stiles' shaft with little licks.

"Time's up," Stiles announced. He sounded way too composed for somebody who's junk had been under Derek's hand and mouth for minutes now but Stiles didn't give him time to think about that for too long. "Drop your pants and then ride me."

A second later Derek's pants were gone and he was straddling Stiles with the tip of Stiles' erection just nudging his entrance. Derek wanted to guide him in slowly to give his own body time to adjust but Stiles had other ideas. With both hands on Derek's hips, he slammed him down.

Derek let out a strangled cry, more out of surprise than pain, he was used to way bigger things up there, he didn't need any prep to take Stiles.

"Move." Stiles slapped his ass. "And make sure to hit your sweet spot, I want you to be begging me to let you come before I'm done with you."

Derek swallowed thickly but then he started to push up and to slam back down, dragging Stiles' cock just right over his insides.

Spit was not a good lube but Derek liked the burn. Not that Stiles gave him time to think. With his hands on Derek's hips, he forced him into a hard rhythm, babbling about how nice and tight Derek's ass was, how good he was taking him.

Derek felt his own dick straining against the cage but he was not able to get hard. By now he should be used to it, he had worn the cage quite often but it was just as frustrating as the first time. His useless dick flopped between his legs, precome oozing out of the plastic but that was all that was happening down there.

"Are you getting desperate?" Stiles asked. He let go of Derek's hip with one hand to reach between his legs. Derek felt his balls slapping into Stiles' palm with every thrust but that was all he felt, the plastic sheath protected him from every kind of touch.

"Yes." Derek breathed out but kept his rhythm. "Please." He knew it wouldn't gain him anything, Stiles had said that he wouldn't let him come today, but the word still fell from his lips.

"I like it when you beg," Stiles told him and on the next down his hand closed around Derek's balls. It was only when a sharp pain lanced through him that Derek realized that Stiles' hand had not moved with him. Derek switched to more shallow thrusts to keep the stretch on his balls bearable while Stiles kept him in an iron grip, his hand not moving an inch with Derek.

"Keep on moving," Stiles ordered and emphasized it with a hard squeeze.

With a strangled cry Derek fell forward, he had to brace himself on Stiles' chest but he tried to come up higher again.

"Ride me like you mean it."

Derek nodded and sat up straighter again.

The pain came in sharp lances up his spine but he did come up high again. Slamming down on Stiles' shaft was a relief on his balls, short-lived but still. By now Derek's legs were trembling and he couldn't help the pained noises coming out of his mouth but he did ride Stiles like he meant it.

Suddenly Stiles went rigid under him, which meant his hand clamped up as well, squeezing Derek's balls hard, while he was coming deep in Derek.

Derek screamed, it felt as if Stiles wanted to rip his balls right off but then the pain eased off and Derek slumped forward. Head hanging and chest heaving, he tried to catch his breath.

"That was good." Stiles threw an arm over his eyes and for a moment he just lay there, also catching his breath. But for a different reason than Derek. Because Derek was still horny. His balls were on fire but that was not enough to erase the rest. The heat was still deep in his belly and he was hyper-aware of his prostate, a thrumming bundle in his core. And his dick had still not gotten the message and was still trying to get hard in the cage.

"Please," Derek begged. "Please, Stiles. I need to ..."

"You need to come?" Stiles had taken his arm down and was now looking up at him, a dark expression on his face. He reached behind Derek, spreading him so that his spent dick just slipped out of him, leaving him empty.

"Nice and sloppy." He probed his hole with the tip of a finger. "This is how I like you. Your dick locked away, your hole used and you all horny. You're horny, aren't you?"

"Yes." Derek jerked his head in a nod, his ass clenching around Stiles' finger in the desperate search for anything that would give him relief.

"You want me to make you come?"

"Yes. Please." Derek felt tears pricking his eyes when Stiles let go of his hole and reached for his front instead. He braced himself for the pain but Stiles just weighted his balls gently in his hand.

"How long have you been locked in?"

"Three days." Derek didn't even have to think about that answer. It had been three frustrating days. At least when Stiles had used him. But so far he had only demanded his mouth or hand, this was the first time he had actually fucked him.

"Let's make it three more," Stiles decided. "I want these full and ready to burst, I want you to shoot a massive load when I finally let you come."

Derek's brain got stuck on three days. Usually, it wouldn't be a problem but right now it was too long. Three minutes were too long. He needed to come. Now.

"Please." Derek's whole body trembled in need but Stiles didn't show mercy. He played with his balls some more before he let go of him.

"No," he said firmly. "Three more days. And just to make it clear. I'm going to fuck you on all three days and each time I'm going to leave you exactly like this. With my come dripping out of you and you begging for release."

Derek whined deep in his throat but he knew there was nothing he could do. So when Stiles slapped his ass and told him to get going and clean them up, he did exactly that.

 

Chapter Text

On Wednesday Abby brought Haley over to Stiles' place. This was kind of a test drive. Today Haley would walk Jack alone. Abby got that it was more for her benefit than Haley's, there was no doubt that she could walk Jack just fine but Abby appreciated that Stiles wanted to make her feel as comfortable with the situation as possible. Abby wouldn't have always time to stick around while Haley was here and of course, she was worried about her safety.

Today it was Stiles who opened the door but they weren't allowed to come in until Jack had greeted them properly.

"Derek's busy today?" Abby asked when they had made it to the living room. With him, she had spent some time already and they went along quite well, she hadn't spent much time with Stiles and if she was honest, she didn't really know what they should talk about.

"Don't know what's with him." Stiles shrugged but there was a mischievous glint in his eye. "The last few days he seemed bothered for some reason."

"You sure this is okay?" Abby gestured over to where Jack and Haley were on the floor. "If you need time to sort this out with him ..."

"Don't worry," Stiles assured her. "Everything is going to be fine tomorrow."

Abby didn't know what to make out of this but she decided that she didn't want to know. It wasn't her business if Derek and Stiles had problems.

Stiles let Haley and Jack play for a few minutes but then it was time for Jack's walk. Stiles gave Haley the leash and the bags for the poop.

"You know how to use this?" He held up the whistle to which she gave him a sharp nod. "Atta girl." Stiles tousled her hair and got a wide grin in return.

"You have your phone with you?" Abby asked even if she knew that Haley had it on her all the time. She even slept with it under her pillow. It was her only way of communication.

As an answer, Haley patted one of her pockets.

"If you need us, we're only one message away." Abby felt like one of those overprotective moms but she couldn't help it. Since the accident, she had problems letting her out of her sight. The first day back at school had been a nightmare.

Haley rolled her eyes at her and then she left with Jack.

"And off she goes," Stiles commented when the door closed behind them. He turned on his back wheels to face Abby.

"Coffee?" He asked. "Or is it too late for you? I can drink coffee whenever but Derek always says that he can't sleep if he drinks it too late in the day." While he was talking he had pushed past Abby and was already half-way to the kitchen.

"Coffee is fine," Abby said. "Not that I need more to work me up. My nerves a fried already." She tried to make it sound like a joke but Stiles was looking right through it.

"After the accident," Stiles started and Abby steeled herself for his next words. Everybody had the same old things to say when it came to the accident and the life after.

"My accident," Stiles emphasized and tapped the side of his chair to make clear what he was talking about. "My dad didn't want to leave me out of his sight either. He still had a hard time when I told him that I would move to New York for college. He still mother-hens me every time I'm home."

"Is that a bad thing?" Abby dared to ask. She couldn't ask Haley and even if she asked, she doubted that she would get an honest answer. But Stiles had been there. He had been where Haley was now, so maybe he could give her a hint or two on how to deal with her daughter. Since Haley had spoken a few words, Abby had slept better but the last word had been over a week ago now and the fear was back that Haley would never bounce back from this. It kept Abby awake most nights. Along with her own grief and worries about the next rent.

Hence the coffee Stiles was handing her now. Sometimes a late coffee was a better excuse for a sleepless night than the thoughts running through her head.

"Not bad," Stiles assured her. "Not exactly. But it can be suffocating. My dad tried to solve all my problems and Scott, my best friend, stood up against bullies for me at school. They meant well but they never let me fight my own fights. They never let me struggle and figure it out on my own." He paused and took a thoughtful sip of his coffee. "I get where they were coming from ... are coming from, they have not really changed that much." He gave her a smile that was equally sad and fond at the same time.

"My dad lost my mom and he almost lost me. Suddenly, he was a single parent with a child in a wheelchair. He didn't have much time for his own grief, there was so much he had to take care of. I see that now but as a child ..." He paused, eyes fixed on the cup in his hands which he rolled slowly between his palms. "I lost my mom and my legs but Dad was there. Dad was always there and I think that's the important thing, to be there. It gets too much from time to time, it was suffocating and sometimes I just wanted to be alone, but I always knew that he was there. Always." His eyes were shiny now and Abby had to clear her throat and look away to not burst out in tears. "And he still is. He's in California but one phone call and he would jump on the next plane. His door is always open." Stiles nodded to himself.

"Thank you." Abby's voice broke but she smiled. "You're the first one who understands, who don't just repeats the same old phrases over and over again. Just thank you." And he had given her food for thoughts.

"Believe me, I know all those phrases." He wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand. "That's why I love Derek so much. He never said anything like that. He just accepts me like I am with everything that comes with it."

Abby wasn't sure what came with a wheelchair but she got that people often didn't know how to act around a handicapped person. She had seen it on herself when she had first met Stiles and even now, she sometimes didn't know what questions she could ask or how to react to him. She tried to not be that person but she did slip up from time to time, she just hoped Stiles didn't mind.

But she had seen people around Haley. With her, it wasn't visible but people treated her differently the second the found out that she wasn't talking.

"How are things at the apartment front?" Stiles changed the topic for which Abby was grateful. She didn't have news for him but she did tell him about Karen. That woman did or said something that made Abby want to punch her in the face on a daily base but since she couldn't do that, ranting was the next best thing. She just didn't have anybody she could vent to. She didn't want to put this on Haley as well but turned out Stiles liked to hear all the little things she had to say about Karen.

"Derek said that he didn't like her right from the start," Stiles filled a pause. "We picked your office because a friend recommended it but Derek was doubting Lydia's sanity when he came back from that appointment with your co-worker. You should have seen the look of relief when you stepped out of your car and not her."

Abby didn't know what to say to that.

"Ask Derek about his work in retail," Stiles continued. "He wanted to murder people like Karen."

"He worked in retail?" Abby tried but she couldn't picture Derek behind a counter.

"Through college." Stiles nodded. "And then he got stuck there. I had to come along to unstuck him. His mom still blames me for encouraging him to purchase his career as a photographer. And that wasn't even with the kind of pictures he's taking these days." He gave her a feral grin, not in the slightest feeling guilty over upsetting Derek's mom.

"His pictures are breathtaking, surely she can see that," Abby said but she guessed it was a moral thing. Or a money thing. When she had seen that Stiles and Derek were both artists, she had double checked their financial records.

"Maybe she'll come around one day," Stiles said vaguely.

They were still talking when the doorbell rang. Abby hadn't even noticed the time flying by, chatting with Stiles was just so easy and he always changed the topic when things became too serious, keeping the conversation light and easy.

"That should be Haley," Stiles said and before Abby could offer to take the door, he was already down the hallway.

First one coming in, was Jack who greeted Stiles as if he hadn't seen him in days.

Stiles led the way with Jack at his side and Haley followed a bit slower. She hadn't really been outside in a while and Abby had no doubt that Jack had pushed her to her limits.

"Come here." Abby patted the chair next to her.

"You have time for another cup of coffee don't you?" Stiles asked but didn't leave her time to answer. "Because this young lady here has earned herself a nice cup of cocoa. With marshmallows."

Haley's face lit up at that.

"You should at least give me the chance to say no before you offer things like that," Abby muttered but these days she was happy for every calorie she could get into her daughter. So if she wanted cocoa with marshmallows, she would get cocoa with marshmallows.

"That's exactly why I don't." He had his head in the fridge and a second later he came up with the milk. He fixed them their drinks and then they were sitting around the table, blowing at their cups to cool them down a bit. It felt cozy.

"You should pick a safe-word," Stiles said out of the blue.

"A what?" Abby had heard that word before but it took her a moment to trace it back to Derek's website. It had come up in the texts he had there, explaining the lifestyle. It was the all stop in a scene. A sub used it when they had reached their limits. However, Abby had no idea why she would pick such a word.

"A safe-word," Stiles repeated as if that made things clearer. He leaned over to Haley. "Your mom is worried that when she isn't with you, something might happen to you. Or that you're in a situation you want to get out of. A safe-word is a way to tell her that you need her to come and get you."

Haley put her cup down and grabbed her phone.

"She can just tell me." Abby still didn't see the reason behind this. Haley had started typing but now she stopped with a nod. She had been about to ask the same question.

"Everybody can type a message," Stiles pointed out. "Let's see, just as an example. Your mom drops you off here so that you can walk Jack and she trusts me to keep you safe. But what if I was a bad person? I could take your phone and tell your mom that everything is okay when it isn't. So you need a way to make sure things are okay. Actually, you should pick two, one as a general get me the fuck out of here." That got him a giggle from Haley and Abby threw him a glare but he had a point there. "And you need a way to tell your mom if everything is okay or not." He paused to let the idea sink in. "They have to be easy to remember. The first one can be something ridiculous but the other one has to be something you can use in a conversation without sounding suspicious."

Haley typed on her phone again and then turned it for Stiles to read.

"An example would be I'm good," he answered her question. "So if your mom asks if everything is okay and you answer with I'm good, she'll know that everything is fine. But if your answer is anything but I'm good, she'll know that something is very wrong and she'll come and get you. Of course, you can't pick I'm good now and you shouldn't use it too often but you get the idea. And you can't tell anybody about it, that much should be obvious."

Abby left with Haley shortly after, deep in thoughts. Stiles had made a good point. Those words could be a way to let Haley out of her sight without worries. With fewer worries.

Suffocating, Stiles had used that word a few times. And he had given her a tool to feel safe with Haley visiting him alone.

"Any ideas for our safe-word?" Abby asked with a glance at Haley in the passenger seat.

 

Chapter Text

"You're just on time for dinner," Stiles greeted him when Derek entered the kitchen. "How was your day?"

"Busy but good." Derek leaned in for a kiss.

He had met a new client today, a nice couple, and he had spent over an hour with the two ladies to discuss their private session. They had their own ideas and it had been fun bouncing those around until they got something Derek thought would make awesome pictures. Most people had those great ideas in their head but in reality, it didn't quite work the way. However, with these two it had been easy. They weren't set on what they had come up with themselves and left Derek room to twist it until it worked out.

Usually, he used a studio he rented for an hour or two for his photo shootings or if his models wanted something more private Derek visited them at home and worked with what he had at hand there. However, he was thinking about getting his own studio. Maybe he should ask Abby, it couldn't hurt if she started looking.

In this case, however, the couple wanted to do something outdoors. They had a place in mind but Derek had to check out the location before he could say anything to that. He didn't know what they had been doing there when they had been there before but during the photo shooting they would be naked most of the time and Derek wanted to make sure that he didn't have to talk to the police afterward.

Derek's schedule had been full with appointments so he was just glad to come home and have dinner with Stiles. Josh was there as well, he never said no to a home-cooked dinner, but he would grab the pets and leave right after. He wouldn't be able to stand the sexual tension between them any longer anyway, his word's not Derek's.

"How was your day with Haley and Abby?" Derek returned the question.

"Told them to pick a safe-word," Stiles said while he checked on whatever he had in the oven. It smelled delicious.

"You told them to pick what?"

"A safe-word," Stiles repeated as if it was the most reasonable thing ever. "C'mon, she's leaving her eleven-year-old, traumatized daughter with a stranger she barely knows. She can't always stay here, she needs a way to make sure that Haley's safe. And Haley needs a way to tell her mom if things go wrong. She needs to know that it's okay to call her mom to get her out of a situation."

Stiles had a point there, Derek had to give him that. Besides, they had used a safe-word to get out of a family dinner, so there was that.

"You are pretty invested in these two," Josh observed. He had met neither Abby nor Haley but by now he knew the basics about them. They hadn't been gossiping but their names had come up a few times and Stiles was arranging his schedule around his appointments with Haley.

"I like them." Stiles shrugged. "And I have the feeling, they need a friend."

Josh didn't push farther but he did give Derek a pointed look. Whatever he wanted to say with that.

Like promised Josh left after dinner with the pets.

Derek had no doubt that his cousin knew what they were up to. By now it was hard to miss how riled up Derek was. Since Sunday Stiles had fucked him every day just like he had promised and he had left him unsatisfied and horny also like he had promised. What he hadn't told Derek beforehand were the little extras he had put him through. Wearing the medium sized plug for a few hours before Stiles had fucked him with his dick and as many fingers as he could fit in hadn't been that bad. The prostate massager yesterday had been way worse. Stiles had put it in in the afternoon and then he had kept Derek naked the rest of the day. And as if the massager hadn't been enough, Stiles had used the riding crop to make him jump now and then, driving the toy in his ass right into his prostate. Derek had been crying for release that night.

Over the day he had almost forgotten that he was still wearing the cage but with the evening coming closer it had become a constant presence in his mind. Over dinner, Derek had to adjust himself in his pants a few times and he had no doubt that Josh had noticed.

And now he was alone with Stiles and whatever he had planned for today. Stiles had promised him release tomorrow but today would be torture again. Derek dreaded it but at the same time, he was looking forward to it.

"Just you and me now." Stiles came up behind him and put a possessive arm around his hips. "Want me to play with you some more?"

Through the denim of his jeans, he palmed Derek's caged cock.

Derek closed his eyes with a groan but he didn't hesitate to say: "Green."

"Take a quick shower and then meet me in the bedroom," Stiles instructed and just to make clear who was in charge here, he gave Derek's balls a nice slap.

Derek hurried through his shower while his mind was swirling with all the possibilities. Stiles wanted him in the bedroom so he most likely wouldn't make him walk around for hours with the prostate massager. Not that Stiles would repeat that again, he was way too creative for that. Which made him unpredictable. So when Derek padded over to the bedroom in nothing but his cage and collar, he felt dread pooling in his belly along with a strange excitement. He knew that he wouldn't come today but he was still looking forward to what Stiles had in store for him. Masochistic, he wasn't fooling anyone.

Stiles had changed into sweatpants and a worn t-shirt, more in for a long evening than a quick fuck but Derek hadn't expected anything else. Stiles had the riding crop in hand which he held like a scepter.

"On your knees." Stiles pointed at the spot on the floor where he wanted him. "Hands behind your head."

Derek got in position with his knees spread wide, back straight and eyes ahead. With his hands behind his head, he automatically pushed out his chest even more, presenting his vulnerable front to Stiles. Who just admired the few for a long moment.

"Beautiful," he breathed out, making Derek preen. "And all mine to play with."

The folded leather at the tip of the crop was feather-light on Derek's skin when Stiles ran it along his side from his knee, up his flank, and up his throat. It tickled but Derek kept his posture. Under his chin, it came to a halt and with a little pressure, Stiles forced him to lift his head, to bear his throat even more.

"What shall I do with you tonight?" Stiles mused as if he didn't have it planned out already.

"Whatever you want," Derek answered, swallowing around the crop under his chin.

"That's the idea."

The pressure eased off but the tip of the crop wasn't gone. It just went down and was now circling his right nipple. Derek felt the flesh pebble under it. The smack didn't come as a surprise but Derek sucked in a sharp breath nevertheless. The crop had a sting to it.

"Your nipples are sensitive," Stiles observed and hit him again. Rapidly the blows rained down on him, hitting right on the nipple every time. Derek tried to keep his posture but soon he couldn't help it and he flinched away from the crop.

"Ah, ah," Stiles made and with the crop under his chin again he forced him back into position. "Ten more. You are going to count them and you're not going to move. Understood?"

"Yes." Derek gritted his teeth but pushed his chest out again.

Stiles took his time to aim properly and then the blow came down hard on him.

"One," Derek counted.

He made it to ten but by then he was trembling, his nipple was on fire and he was just breathing through the pain. This was the first time Stiles paid this much attention to his nipples, he wasn't used to this.

"There you go." With the edge of the tip, where the leather was rough, he circled Derek' nipple again. "Feels good, doesn't it?"

"Hurts." Derek screwed his eyes shut and just hoped Stiles would leave his poor nipple alone soon.

"It's supposed to hurt," Stiles assured him and flicked his nipple one last time before he let go of it. "Now ask me to do the same with the other one."

Derek licked his lips, this part would never be easy.

"Please ... hurt my other nipple," Derek said with his eyes on the ceiling to not look at Stiles. He felt the heat creeping into his cheeks but what was worse, he felt precome oozing out of his caged dick.

"Since you asked so nicely."

Stiles took his time to turn his other nipple into a throbbing mess as well.

"So pretty." He admired his work while Derek was still catching his breath from those last ten blows. "Touch them."

Derek needed a moment to realize that that was an order he should follow. Carefully he put his hands on his chest.

"They are warm and sore, aren't they?"

"Yes."

"Pinch them. Twist them, I want to hear you moan."

Reluctantly Derek took the nubs between his fingers but Stiles just gave him an impatient go ahead. So Derek took a deep breath and pulled. The pain made his eyes water but he didn't let go. He twisted and pinched his nipples while Stiles was watching him with hungry eyes.

"That's it, hurt them good." Stiles watched him closely, his breath coming in short bursts. This was turning him on. Derek didn't know if it was that, knowing that Stiles got aroused by watching him like this, or if his nipples were actually connected to his groin in some way but Derek pushed out his chest even farther, stretching and twisting the hard nubs between his fingertips even more. It hurt, badly, but he didn't stop.

He didn't even notice when Stiles came closer but suddenly Stiles was close enough to kiss him. He was drinking the pained noises right out of Derek's mouth. The riding crop was in his crotch now, tracing along the trembling insides of his thighs and fondling his balls. Derek felt the slickness of his own precome where the crop left a wet trail.

"Fuck," he groaned, his fingers never stopping to torture his own nipples.

Stiles brushed his lips over his cheek to his ear.

"Want me to bite them?" Stiles whispered. His breath ghosted over Derek's skin but that was not the only thing making him shiver.

"Yes!" Derek almost screamed. He knew that if Stiles bit him, it wouldn't be a love bite, his balls had worn Stiles' teeth marks more than once, but Derek wanted this. The thought of Stiles' mouth on him like that, he thought he might be able to come from that. It had worked with his balls but he had never known that his nipples were wired the same way.

"As you wish." Stiles grinned into the soft skin behind his ear. "Hands behind your head."

Derek got in position, leaving his nipples unprotected. He even pushed out his chest to give Stiles' better access.

"So eager." Stiles kissed his pec right above the area that was still angry red with the hard nub waiting in the middle. Instead of biting him right away, Stiles licked over it with a broad tongue. That alone sent sparks through Derek but then Stiles blew a cool breath over the wet flesh. Derek whimpered.

"You're doing so good," Stiles praised him and then he took him in his mouth. He swirled his tongue around the hard flesh before he sealed his lips around it and sucked. That was not what Derek had expected and he almost doubled over with that sensation.

"Please," he begged, his breath short and he didn't even know what he was asking for.

Stiles hummed around him and then Derek felt his teeth. Stiles dragged them over his nipple without biting down, teasing him even more. Derek groaned in frustration.

And then, without a warning, Stiles bit down. Hard. Derek screamed and jerked back but Stiles wasn't following. The pain was like nothing Derek had ever felt before. Sharp and bright and it shot down right into his groin. Stiles held him like that for long seconds before he let go of him. Derek slumped down, protecting his abused nipple with his arms.

"You're so easy." Stiles gave him a moment to breathe while he moved over to the other side. "Ready for the other one? Color?"

Derek took a few more shallow breaths, every little move set his nipple on fire again, but then he came up and slowly put his hands behind his head.

"Green."

They did end up in bed eventually where Stiles fucked him lazily. They were lying on their sides and Stiles was guiding Derek's hips in a slow back and forth while he had his other hand wedged under Derek to reach one of his nipples. Derek didn't feel anything but his nipples, mainly the one Stiles was torturing, and the constant need deep in his belly. That night he fell asleep in Stiles' arms, crying.

 

Chapter Text

Over the last three weeks, they had found some kind of routine. On Wednesdays, after school, Haley would walk Jack. Most of the time Abby drove her over but she had taken the bike last week and Stiles had also offered to pick her up from school if necessary. Those days they kept it short, Haley would walk Jack for an hour or one and a half and then she would come home. It was the middle of the week after all and she still had homework to do.

Their other date was Sundays. Haley stayed longer on those days. Stiles worked with her and Jack on using whistle commands and last Sunday Haley had stayed even longer for an impromptu drawing lesson. But thanks to the safe-words they had set up Abby wasn't pacing the living room until she was back. It was still not easy, letting her out of her sight but she was getting there.

Drawing was another things in Haley's life now. She had taken Stiles' advice to heart and had practiced almost every day. Even Abby could see the improvement in her work and she felt a bit guilty that she wasn't able to pay Stiles for real lessons.

However, he didn't seem to mind having Haley around.

One day Abby came over to pick up her daughter and Derek opened the door with an amused expression. When she gave him a questioning look he just pointed behind himself. Abby found Stiles and Haley hunched over the kitchen table. There were papers with drawings all over the table, carelessly thrown aside to start with a fresh sheet. But what baffled her the most was what they were drawing with. Crayons. The whole table was littered with them, some had rolled to the floor, and they were both hogging some in their hands or protected in the curve of one arm.

"Thirty seconds," Stiles announced and switched to another color. Haley didn't even look up, too busy drawing whatever it was she was drawing.

"What ...?" Abby didn't even know what to ask, the situation was just so surreal.

"Speed drawing," Derek informed her.

Stiles' phone went off and at that sound, he and Haley stopped abruptly and threw their hands up in the air.

"Awesome," Stiles said and pushed his picture away just to grab a fresh sheet out of the mess on the table. "Another round?"

Haley nodded, already with a fresh piece of paper in front of her and at least five crayons ready to use. Only then they seemed to notice that they weren't alone any longer.

"What time is it?" Stiles asked and checked his phone at the same time. "Shit. Sorry, we got carried away."

"One more?" Haley asked with a pleading look at Abby. Abby wasn't even sure what was happening here but she just nodded, unable to speak for a moment.

"I think we have time for one more," she finally managed to say. Not that she had an idea how long one more of whatever they were doing would take.

Haley grinned at her but then her focus was on the piece of paper again. Like a sprinter, waiting for the signal.

Stiles did something on his phone which suddenly announced: "Three football players dancing."

A second later they both were scribbling away with intense looks on their faces.

"One round is five minutes," Derek informed her in a low whisper. With a nod, he indicated that they should take a seat while the other two were apparently drawing dancing football players.

"How long have they been doing this?" Abby asked, a worried eye on all the drawings on the table.

"They take breaks," Derek assured her. "Stiles says this helps to stop thinking too much and to just do it. Haley is getting really good at it."

Stiles announced the last thirty seconds again and then it was over. They finished with the same pose, hands in the air and a mad grin on their faces.

"Want to show your mom your pictures?" Stiles asked, already sorting through the drawings on the table.

Haley presented her work with a proud grin and Abby had to say that she was impressed. They weren't masterpieces, just rough sketches with blobs of color, crayons weren't meant for detailed work, but it was clear what the pictures showed. The football players had helmets and wide shoulders and they were wearing tutus. There was a fire truck shooting candy out of the hose and a teddy bear in a doctor's outfit. Abby guessed that Stiles was using some kind of generator to randomly come up with these prompts. They were all ridiculous and with that fun to draw, there was no doubt about that.

That night Haley almost nodded off at the dinner table and when Abby checked on her later, she had fallen asleep on top of the covers, still fully dressed. Speed drawing seemed to be exhausting.

For once life was good. Haley was more alive than even a few weeks ago, Abby had finally managed to unpack the last boxes, officially finishing the moving in part and to celebrate that, they had an impromptu house warming party with Stiles and Derek. Abby cooked, Derek brought beer and Stiles had made pie for dessert. It was a nice evening.

Stiles and Derek were the first guests she had over in the new place and it felt right. Abby hadn't any friends left, she had lost contact with most over the last months, but Stiles and Derek where there now and she liked that.

Work went well, too. Abby had made a few contracts, her next paycheck should look good, and aside from looking for a place for Stiles and Derek to live, she was now looking for a studio for Derek as well. Basically, a place where he could have his photo shootings but if there was enough room for an office, he would take it.

"I do work better without him muttering to himself in the background," Derek told her with a sheepish look.

Abby took notes and started to sort through what she had on file. Their first viewing was scheduled for Thursday and she was optimistic that Derek would like the studio. However, he would have to be fast, things like this didn't stay on the market for long, Abby wouldn't be able to hold it for him for more than a few days.

On Tuesday, Abby came home from work in a good mood. She checked on Haley who was already busy with homework, at least that was what it looked like when Abby opened the door, she pretended to not see the half-done drawing sticking out of her chemistry book. As long as she got her homework done eventually Abby didn't mind.

"Dinner in half an hour," she announced.

Then the phone rang with an out of state number. Wondering who that might be, it was not her parent's number, Abby answered.

"Hey, Abby, Rick here," her brother-in-law greeted her. Abby hadn't heard much from him since the accident. She was wondering if Haley would get at least a card for Christmas from him and his wife. Thoughts like that were probably a bit unfair, it had only been a few months and Rick was grieving as well, he had lost his brother after all, but Abby could have used some help here and there over those months.

"Hey," Abby greeted him back but in her mind, she was already wondering what he wanted. But first, he asked how she was doing. And how Haley was holding up. She had been quiet the last time he had seen her.

"That was at the funeral," Abby reminded him. What did he expect? That she was laughing and babbling at her father's funeral?

"Bet she's back to her old self by now," Rick tried to gloss over it. "Kids bounce back like that."

He didn't have kids so what the hell did he know? The whole conversation was rubbing her the wrong way.

"Is there something I can do for you?" Abby finally asked, she wasn't in the mood for games.

"Actually." He tried to make it sound as if he just remembered that there as an actual reason for his call. "There are a few things that came up. You know, legal stuff. You need to sign some papers."

"What kind of papers?" Abby closed her eyes and suppressed a groan. She had thought that they were done with this. She had made all the necessary calls and had signed the papers. There hadn't been much to inherit but that had been sorted out along with the insurance stuff. Since the accident had been Marvin's own fault the insurance hadn't paid a cent but they still had made her fill out forms over forms. Abby had dealt with the funeral home and with the hospital for Haley and all the million other things she had never thought about before. But that was all set and done, it was supposed to be over.

"It's about the inheritance," Rick said. "Some things are not clear."

"Just send me the papers and I'll look over them." Why couldn't it just be over?

"You have to sign them in person. Here."

"What? Why?" So far they had done everything via mail. It was slow but a few days didn't matter.

"Sorry, we have to sign them in front of a lawyer. Together."

"I can't just jump on a plane and fly over to you," Abby reminded him. Even with her paycheck coming in, she didn't have the money for plane tickets. Besides, Haley couldn't just leave school for a day or two.

"It's all set up," Rick said. "We have an appointment on Thursday. If you're not here by then we'll have to cancel."

"This Thursday?" Abby couldn't believe it. "And you couldn't have called sooner?"

"It just came up," Rick said in a way that made Abby suspicious. As if he hadn't planned on having her around but had found out that whatever was going on there wouldn't be going on without her. "I booked you a flight."

"I can't just take Haley out of school in the middle of the week."

"The ticket is for you," Rick said as if it hadn't even occurred to him that she might not want to leave her daughter behind. "I'm sure she can stay with a friend for a few days."

I don't have friends, Abby wanted to yell at him.

They spoke for a few more minutes but it became more and more clear that Rick didn't want to tell her what this was actually about but that it would be a big inconvenience if she didn't show up. Besides, the ticket was already paid for. In the end, he hinted that he would expect the money for the ticket and whatever he would have to pay the lawyer for canceling and rescheduling from her if she didn't take that plane.

"I'll call you back in an hour." Abby hung up on him.

Then she stood there for a full minute, trying to comprehend what had just happened. It was tempting to just ignore him. Rick had done nothing to support her when she had needed it but she had no doubt that he would dump those bills on her and she had a pile of those already, thank you very much.

And she had the feeling that she should go and see what this was all about. It did look as if he had tried to go behind her back and whatever it was, it couldn't be good.

She could take off a day or two from work, Karen would be annoyed but it wouldn't be a problem. The problem was Haley. Abby didn't have the money to get her a ticket as well and she wasn't sure if she wanted to expose Haley to Rick. Marvin and his brother had never been close despite the fact that Marvin had been Rick's best man at his wedding. He had always claimed the distance was the reason but after the conversation with Rick just now Abby had her suspicions about that.

Let her stay with a friend, Abby almost laughed about that. She didn't have friends and as far as she knew Haley didn't have a close friend at school either. It was just them. Except …

"I can't ask them," Abby said into the empty kitchen where she was supposed to make dinner right now. In the end, she didn't have anybody else to call so she dialed Stiles' number.

"Hey, Abby," he greeted her with an audible smile in his voice. Unlike Rick, he sounded pleased to hear from her. "If you're looking for Haley's pencil case, it's here."

Abby blinked she hadn't even known that Haley was missing her pencil case.

"Thanks, but it's not that." She took a deep breath. "I need your help."

 

Chapter Text

They were sitting over dinner, Josh was just telling them about something one of his teachers had done today when Stiles' phone rang.

"Abby," he said after a look at the screen.

Haley had forgotten her pencil case the other day but it became clear quickly that Abby wasn't calling about that. Derek only got Stiles' end of the conversation but it did sound as if they would have Haley over for a night or two. Derek glanced over to Josh, right next to Stiles he might be able to hear more of Abby's side of the conversation but he just shook his head.

"No problem, just send me the details once you know them," Stiles said and then he ended the call.

"What happened?" Derek asked. It did sound like an emergency and there weren't many things coming to mind why Abby would need a place for Haley this quickly.

"Abby has to fly out to see her husband's family, some legal stuff," Stiles said. "She has to catch a plane tomorrow but she hopes that she can fly back on Thursday."

"And she can't take Haley with her?" Josh asked.

"It's the middle of the week, Haley has to go to school," Stiles reminded him. "Besides, it's just a short trip."

They finished their dinner, making plans. Actually, Stiles was making plans. Haley could sleep on his couch and they would watch a movie and have popcorn before they turned in. And over the day they could work with Jack and draw some more.

"You do remember that she has to go to school in the morning, right?" Derek threw in. "And most likely she has homework to do. Instead of drawing you might have to solve math problems with her."

"Spoilsport." Stiles made a face at him.

"Are you going to stay here?" Josh asked Derek which was a valid question. It had been months since he'd slept alone, they were altering between their two places but they always slept in the same bed.

"Don't know," Derek admitted with a glance at Stiles. If he was honest, he didn't want to sleep alone. And he wasn't sure if it was a good idea to leave Stiles alone with Haley. She might end up on a sugar high and would fall asleep in class the next day.

"Let's decide that tomorrow, get a feeling for what Haley prefers first," Stiles suggested which was fine with Derek.

After dinner Josh left, he had some homework to do as well and Derek had no doubt that he was enjoying having Derek's place for himself. So far he hadn't invited any guests but Derek was just waiting for the day he would come home to a party.

Once they had cleaned up, Derek and Stiles got comfortable on the couch and Stiles started to browse Netflix to find them something to watch.

"Isn't it strange that she asked us?" Derek asked when Stiles hadn't found anything after several minutes of scrolling through the lists.

"Hmm?"

"Abby," Derek clarified. "I mean, we're hardly her first choice to watch her kid."

"We're her only choice." Stiles didn't even bother to look at him.

"She has a kid, she knows other people with kids. She could have asked one of Haley's friends." Derek paused, thinking. Haley had never mentioned any friends. Okay, she hadn't spoken about school in general for that matter but she must have a friend or two, right?

"Has she said something to you?" Maybe Stiles knew more than him.

"No." Now Stiles did throw him a glance. "But I remember the time after the accident. Scott was the only one of my friends who stayed. And Dad?" Stiles shook his head. "Right after everybody was like just tell me if you need something, I'm here for you. Bullshit!" The last word came out louder than expected. "Two weeks later nobody was there for us. They couldn't stand seeing him grieving and they couldn't stand seeing me in the hospital bed so they stayed away."

"You think that happened to Abby as well?"

"Most likely. People are like that." Stiles looked back to the screen and randomly picked a movie. "Let's watch this."

They watched a crappy horror movie that made them more laugh than that it scared them but it was a good distraction.

Stiles had never really spoken about the accident and the time after but lately, he brought it up from time to time. Just bits and pieces but slowly they were forming a picture. It was a bit like developing a photo. It took time but slowly the picture got revealed. Derek just wasn't sure if he liked the picture.

The next morning Stiles texted with Abby to arrange everything. On her way to the airport, she dropped off a bag with Haley's things.

"And this is really okay?" Abby asked again.

"Don't worry about us," Stiles assured her. "Sort this out with your family, we'll be fine."

She was still clearly uncomfortable with the situation but she had to hurry to not miss her flight.

When it was time to pick up Haley from school, Derek offered to do it.

He was there a bit early so he parked the car and then got out to wait for her standing next to it. Haley knew Stiles' car but he doubted that she would recognize the Camaro. He and his car got some attention but Derek ignored it and leaned against the driver's door with his hands in his pockets. From here he had the entrance in view and wouldn't miss Haley.

The first bulk of children came out of the door, turning the parking lot into a swarming mess.

Haley was one of the last kids coming out of the school and she was walking alone. So Stiles might have been right with his impression that Haley didn't have any friends at school. Stiles had texted her that Derek would pick her up and he was kind of sticking out so she didn't have to search long to pick him out of the crowd. Not that there was really a crowd left but there were still quite a few people around. Two mothers who already had their kids at their side stood just there, talking to each other instead of going home. They were not so secretly looking in his direction. Derek wasn't sure if they stayed back just in case or if they were admiring the view but it started to become uncomfortable.

At least once Haley had spotted him, she walked quicker and wasn't dragging her feet any longer. Didn't look like school was a fun experience for her.

"Hey," Derek greeted her once she was close enough that he didn't have to yell. "Ready to head out?"

He just wanted to get away from here. He wondered what kind of rumors would come out of this but he couldn't help it.

"Your mom did tell you that you're going to stay with us until tomorrow, right?" Derek asked while he eased the car out of the parking lot.

Haley nodded.

"Good. Because Stiles is totally in sleepover mode," Derek told her. "He's going to paint your nails if you don't watch out."

Derek had no idea what Stiles had in mind, his plans were changing constantly so nail painting was definitely a thing that could happen.

Haley studied her nails and then shrugged, looked like she wouldn't mind painted nails.

Back at Stiles', Haley greeted Jack with lots of cuddles and Derek had the suspicion that they would both end up on the couch for the night. They had left Ginger with Josh so Haley wouldn't get a surprise wake-up from him.

"He could go for a walk." Stiles interrupted the cuddle session. "If you want?"

Of course, Haley wanted.

Haley left with Jack and they would be gone for a while but her bag was sitting there, reminding them that they had a child over. Derek had no idea what to do with a kid. They had Haley over quite a few times before but that had been a few hours max. What should they do if she didn't want to brush her teeth? What if she had a nightmare? What if she got sick?

"Stop thinking so much." Stiles pulled him out of his thoughts. "It's going to be fine. Most of the time she's going to be sleeping or at school anyway." He had a point there but that didn't help to put Derek's mind to ease.

When Haley came back with Jack, Stiles asked about homework to which she made a face but got her things. They set up her workplace at the kitchen table while Stiles started dinner. Derek doubted that Haley would get anything done with Stiles puttering around, he tended to be loud and distracting, but to his surprise, Stiles focused on what he was doing for once and only muttered under his breath from time to time.

With both of them busy, Derek figured he could get some more work done as well so he joined Haley at the table. For a while they worked in silence with only the noises Stiles was making in the background, but then Haley started to chew on her pencil and was looking at her book with kind of a lost expression.

"Are you stuck?" Derek asked which startled her out of her thoughts. She gave him a shy nod.

Derek switched sides to sit next to her and to have a look at the problem she was trying to solve. How he and not Stiles had ended up helping her with math problems was beyond him but they got them done just in time for dinner.

Haley was more pushing her food around the plate than actually eating it but neither Derek nor Stiles said something about it. Stiles had popcorn and chips for later, maybe she would eat those. They weren't her mom so they had no obligation to feed her healthy stuff. At least that was the way Stiles saw it, Derek had his doubts about that.

After dinner, Haley finished her homework while Stiles and Derek set everything up for the night. With Haley sleeping on the couch, they would retreat to the bedroom early and for some reason, Stiles thought they would have to wait out World War III in there. Both their laptops were already a bit much, they would use only one to watch whatever, but Stiles also stocked them up with water, juice and soft drinks, Derek pointed out that he would have to brush his teeth again if he actually drank those after they had turned in, but Stiles also had bags of snacks piled up next to the bed so they would have to brush their teeth again later anyway.

"I don't want to disturb Haley just because we run out of something to drink," Stiles told him. It was still way too much.

"If you really want to drink all that, you better stock up on diapers as well", Derek muttered for which Stiles rolled over his foot.

For Haley Stiles had already sheets, a pillow and a blanket ready but they would set up the couch when they were actually ready to turn in. For now, Stiles piled more snacks on the couch table.

"Okay, movie night." Stiles had moved over to the couch. He was sitting at one end and Derek would take the other end so that Haley could sit in the middle. Haley wanted it like this so Derek and Stiles obeyed. "What do you want to watch, Haley?"

Before Haley could answer the question, her phone buzzed with a new message. She threw Stiles a questioning look.

"It's most likely your mom, you should answer it," Stiles encouraged her. Haley and Abby were texting back and forth for a moment before Haley put her phone away to study the options on the screen again. But now Stiles' phone started to ring.

"You're lucky we haven't started with the movie yet," Stiles told Abby when he answered the phone.

Derek didn't catch what she was saying but he was pretty sure it was about bedtime and school tomorrow.

"Just one movie and then it's bedtime," Stiles promised her "How was your flight?"

They talked for a few minutes before Stiles ended the call.

"Your mom misses you very much," Stiles told Haley. "And she says that you should behave and that you shouldn't give us any trouble."

"Sure she was talking about Haley?" Derek asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Why hasn't anybody picked a movie yet?" Stiles almost yelled and tried to get the remote from Haley who held it out of his reach.

They did watch a Pixar movie in the end. Haley fell asleep half-way through and she ended up snuggled against Derek's side.

"Stop taking pictures," Derek hissed but he couldn't do anything, Stiles was too far away and he didn't want to wake Haley.

She rose enough to usher her into the bathroom where she brushed her teeth and got dressed for the night. When she came back out, Derek had set up the couch for her and she went right back to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Haley had squealed in delight when Abby had asked her if she wanted to stay with Stiles for a day or two. It was more Jack than Stiles she was excited about but as long as she was fine with the arrangement, Abby was fine with it as well. She still didn't like that she had to ambush Stiles like this but she was just grateful that he had said yes. Abby didn't know what she would have done otherwise.

The morning was hectic. They had packed the night before but over the night Haley had decided that she didn't want her blue shirt and would rather take the yellow one, which was in the laundry. And she had forgotten to pack her drawing things. In the end, Abby put her foot down and just closed the bag.

"It's only for two days," Abby reminded her which Haley accepted with a grumbled face.

Haley still had to run to catch her bus.

On her way to the airport, Abby dropped off Haley's things at Stiles'. She reminded him about bedtime and that Haley had to go to school in the morning and that he shouldn't worry too much if she wasn't eating.

Stiles assured her that they would be just fine and that Derek would be there as well which, if Abby was honest, came as a relief. Stiles was nice and all and Haley loved him but with Derek around, there would be at least one reasonable adult present.

She had an appointment with Derek tomorrow where she had wanted to show him the studio but like all her appointments she had to reschedule that as well.

"Karen can take over," Abby offered. "Or we can do it on Friday but I can't guarantee that it'll be still available then."

Turned out that Derek would rather take the risk instead of doing the viewing with Karen.

"That woman left a real bad impression on you," Stiles teased.

"It's not that urgent," Derek just said.

And then Abby was on the plane with only blurry memories of how she had gotten there. Everything had happened so fast. She hadn't slept that night, her head too full with the things she had to take care of, but now she had time to actually think about the reason for her little trip.

She hadn't gotten much out of Rick but the little she got made her worry. She tried to tell herself that it was just something normal, things tend to pop up even months later, she had gotten more than one latter regarding something she had thought was taken care of already. So most likely it was just that.

However, the way Rick had dodged her questions and how he'd kept his answers as vague as possible didn't sit right with her. She couldn't shake off the feeling that Rick was trying to do something behind her back.

Worrying about that wouldn't get her anywhere right now so Abby tried to get comfortable and to catch up with some sleep. Which wasn't happening, her mind wandered to Haley, wondering what she was doing right now. Abby knew that she was okay, that Stiles would take good care of her but this was the first time they had been separated since the accident and Abby didn't like it. She really didn't like it.

Rick picked her up at the airport.

"You made it, good," he greeted her. Abby hadn't expected a welcome with hugs and kisses but a bit more than a dark face would have been nice. She bit her tongue and followed him out of the building. At least she was traveling light, with only her small bag she was able to keep up with him.

In the car, he seemed to remember that small talk was a thing.

"How's Haley?" He asked.

"Fine. She's staying with a friend," Abby answered. It came out clipped but she didn't care. Rick wasn't giving her the impression that he was happy to see her or even that he wanted her to be here at all so she saw no reason to play nice.

Rick nodded to that and didn't ask farther. He had lost his brother just a few months ago, Abby had to remind herself, maybe seeing his brother's wife brought back memories. That Abby could understand. She threw him a glance, trying to figure him out. But he was just looking ahead with a rather grim expression on his face.

Over the ride, Abby tried to get some information out of him but once again he just grunted something about a legal formality, nothing to worry about.

Abby glared at him but he just turned the volume of the radio up and pretended that she wasn't even there. After a moment, Abby turned her head to look out of the window for the rest of the ride. She breathed easier when Rick pulled into his driveway.

Abby would only stay for one night, she would fly back tomorrow in the evening, so Rick's wife Lisa had offered their guestroom.

You better, Abby had thought. If they made her come here on short notice they better did not expect her to stay at a hotel.

At least Lisa was more welcoming. She greeted Abby with a hug and she seemed genuinely happy to see her.

"You're looking good," she said. "How're you holding up?"

"Good." Abby let her lead her inside. "It's still hard but we're doing better."

"Coffee?" Lisa asked and not much later they were sitting together with a cup of coffee. Rick had disappeared but Abby was kind of glad that he didn't join them.

Abby hadn't seen Lisa that often but they went along quite well and it felt good to talk to somebody who had known Marvin. Abby told her about moving into a smaller apartment and how hard it was to stay strong for Haley. She didn't go into detail with Haley but she mentioned that she was in love with a dog and that she was walking him twice a week.

"She's staying with Stiles, the owner of the dog. She's in heaven." Abby said fondly.

"Is it a he?" Lisa asked with a knowing smile on her lips.

"It's a he," Abby confirmed. She knew what this must look like. Which woman would leave her daughter with a man she wasn't dating? "And he is in a relationship. With a man," she added.

Besides, it had only been a few months, Abby felt far from ready for a new relationship.

Lisa gave her a look over the rim of her cup as if she didn't believe her.

They made small talk and it was nice. Abby had missed this, just chatting with somebody about everything and nothing. To an extent, she had that with Stiles and Derek as well but sometimes it just felt good to talk to a woman.

However, every time Abby tried to bring up the topic of the reason she was here, Lisa claimed that she didn't know what it was about and that Rick could tell her more.

"Some legal stuff." She shook her head. "Something a lawyer makes a lot of money with without doing anything."

Later Lisa showed her the guestroom.

"Dinner will be ready in half an hour," she told her and then she left Abby alone to settle in.

First thing was texting Haley, Abby needed to know that everything was okay.

Haley answered the right way, indicating that things were really okay on her end, and then they texted back and forth, telling each other about their day.

After that, she gave Stiles a call just to make sure that things were okay from his end as well. Apparently, she was interrupting movie night so she just reminded Stiles that Haley had school tomorrow.

With that out of the way, Abby unpacked the things she would need for the night and then she went to have dinner with her brother-in-law and his wife.

Abby hadn't seen Rick since they had arrived but when she came into the kitchen now, he was already sitting at the table.

Lisa had made a roast and it was delicious but Abby didn't feel particularly hungry. Now she understood why Haley wasn't eating. The whole situation was uncomfortable. Lisa tried to pick up the small talk again but Rick acted as if Abby was an intruder, killing the mood instantly. It was clear that Abby wasn't really welcomed here.

So after dinner, she declined Lisa's offer to watch TV with them and retreated to the guestroom instead. She had brought her laptop, she could entertain herself. Besides, she hadn't really slept last night, it might be a good idea to turn in early. Their appointment was at ten and Rick wanted to leave at nine.

Abby didn't sleep well that night either. She got some hours but they were filled with weird dreams.

In the morning, she texted Haley to make sure that she was actually up and on her way to school and just to calm her nerves, Abby called Stiles again.

"Morning," he answered the phone with a yawn. "Hope you slept better than us."

That got her attention.

"Did something happen?"

"Just a little nightmare," Stiles tried to dismiss her. "Nothing Jack couldn't fix."

"She hasn't slept somewhere else in a while." She should have thought about that. In the beginning, Haley had crawled into her bed almost every night.

"With Jack's help it wasn't a big deal," Stiles assured her. "What about you? Did you find out what this is all about?"

At that Abby groaned and fisted her hair.

"Rick isn't saying anything." It was frustrating. "Keeps saying that it's a legal formality."

"I wouldn't sign anything without reading it first," Stiles said. "Just saying."

"I make contracts on a daily base, I live for the fine print." She smiled. "But thanks for the advice."

She joined Rick and Lisa for breakfast and then they left in Rick's car.

Abby didn't even try to get more information out of him, she would find out what this was about soon and the lawyer would most likely be able to answer her questions way better than Rick.

He parked the car and then he was eyeing the building.

"This should only take a few minutes," he said. "Just sign it real quick and we'll be out of here. I have another appointment in a bit so better make it quick."

The last bit sounded like a threat.

Since they had an appointment, they didn't have to wait long and then she followed Rick into an office.

"Mr. Miller." Rick shook the hand of an elderly man with white hair and kind eyes behind glasses with a wire frame. "This is my sister-in-law Abigail Carter."

"Nice to meet you, sir." Abby shook his hand as well. "Actually, I'm not sure why I'm here."

She had a helpless look around but aside from some papers on the desk, there was nothing that would give her a hint.

"Didn't Mr. Carter tell you?" Mr. Miller gave Rick a look over his glasses.

"He said something about a legal formality? Regarding my late husband's inheritance?" Abby summed up what little she knew. "But that has all been sorted out months ago."

"I see." Mr. Miller pursed his lips. "Please, have a seat."

"Just sign it and we're out of here," Rick repeated and with a hand on the small of her back, he pushed her forward.

"We're kind of in a hurry," Rick apologized to Mr. Miller while at the same time he glared at Abby.

"Before I sign anything, I want to know what all this is about." Abby set her jaw.

"Of course." Mr. Miller leafed through the papers in front of him. "Well, this is not exactly about your husband's inheritance. It's about what he or rather you and your daughter in his place now are going to inherit."

"I don't think I can follow."

"Do you know Mrs. Bethany Callahan?" Mr. Miller asked

The name did sound familiar but it took Abby a moment to place it.

"Aunt Betty, Marvin mentioned her a few times," she remembered. "He and Rick spent quite some time at her place when they were kids."

"That's correct." Mr. Miller nodded. "Mrs. Callahan was a close friend of the family."

"I still don't understand."

"Mrs. Callahan left us last week and in her will she left everything to Marvin and Rick, the children she never had."

Abby sat there, not sure if she had heard right.

"Would you stop bitching around and just sign it already?" Rick grabbed one of the papers and shoved it at her.

"What is this?" Abby took the piece of paper and started reading.

"A waiver," Mr. Miller explained. "If you sign this Mrs. Callahan's heritage will go in full to your brother-in-law."

 

Chapter Text

Once Haley was set for the night, Derek and Stiles retreated to the bedroom and got comfortable on the bed.

"Think she's going to sleep now?" Derek asked, straining his ears but there were no noises coming from the living room. They had left Ginger with Josh but Jack was here. He was currently lying on his blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed. The dog had looked with interest when they had brought his blanket into the bedroom but he had accepted the new location without a fuss. Jack would have to go one more time tonight and they didn't want him to wake up Haley for that.

"We'll see," Stiles answered his question with a delay. They listened for a moment longer but when everything stayed quiet, they dared to relax.

"It's weird, having a kid around," Stiles said.

"It's only for a little while."

"Still weird." But then Stiles shrugged and reached for the closest bag of chips and ripped it open. Immediately Jack's head appeared at the end of the bed.

"Didn't you have enough with the popcorn?" Derek asked but when Stiles offered the bag to him, he took a handful.

"What do you want to watch?" Stiles asked with his mouth full of chips. "More Pixar?"

"No Pixar," Derek hurried to say. "And leave the crumbs on your side of the bed."

"Jack can take care of those."

Hearing his name Jack perked up even more but one gesture from Stiles and he settled back down with a huff.

"As if dog hair in the bed is any better," Derek muttered but used the distraction to find them a movie without animated characters in primary colors.

When it was time for walking Jack one last time before they turned in it was, of course, Derek who had to put on shoes again. Because Stiles was so comfy in bed and it would be such a hassle to get back into his chair. Derek just glared at him.

On his way out, Derek checked on Haley but she was sleeping deeply and didn't stir when they sneaked out. She didn't stir when they came back either.

"She okay?" Stiles asked when Derek came back from the bathroom, ready for bed.

"Sleeping like a baby."

Derek woke up in the middle of the night to Jack pawing and whining at the door.

"Jack?" The silhouette of the dog was barely visible in the dim light. "What's up?"

But then Jack got the door open and was out of the room.

"Shit." Now Derek did hear what had gotten the dog so railed up. Haley was crying.

Derek hurried to follow Jack but then he stood next to the couch and didn't know what to do. His first thought had been that Haley had woken up and had no idea where she was. And now she was crying because she was homesick and missed her mommy. Derek had thought that he could deal with that.

However, Haley was not awake. She was crying in her sleep. She was tossing and turning with the blanket already half on the floor. Between little cries and whimpers, she was mumbling but if those were real words, they were too slurred to make them out.

Jack let out a whine and with a look at Derek, he made clear who he expected to fix this. Then Jack leaned in and carefully started to nose at Haley's face and throat.

"What's going on?" Stiles spoke up behind them. "Oh."

"Should we wake her up?" Derek asked in a low voice to not wake her up by accident. Waking up in a strange place with him looming over her didn't seem like a good idea.

"Yeah, but gently."

While they had been hesitating, Jack had already done the job.

Haley blinked her eyes open. She had a disorientated look around and Derek feared that she would be afraid of them while she was still caught in the dream but then she closed her arms around Jack's neck and buried her face in his fur with a strangled noise.

Jack didn't have to be asked twice and hurried to scramble up the couch until he was basically lying on top of her. Not that she seemed to mind.

"Hey, Haley." Derek crouched down next to the couch. "Bad dreams?"

She rubbed her bleary eyes and nodded.

"You think you can go back to sleep?" Derek asked and gently brushed sweaty strands of hair out of her face.

She thought about that for a moment. Worrying her lip, she glanced over to Stiles and then back to Derek.

"Can Jack stay?"

"Of course," Derek and Stiles hurried to say at the same time which got them a watery smile.

Derek helped her to sort out the blanket, not an easy task with a big dog lying on top of it but in the end Haley was tucked in and Jack was lying more wedged between her and the back of the couch than actually on top of her so Derek wasn't worried any longer that the dog would crush her.

"If you need anything, come and get us," Stiles told her but she was already half-asleep again.

After one last look at the two shapes on the couch, Derek and Stiles retreated to the bedroom.

"He thinks she's having a bad day," Stiles explained while he tried to arrange his legs. The rude wakening had sparked the spasticity and his legs refused to obey gravity.

"She kind of is having a bad day." Derek draped the blanket over both of them and under the covers he reached for Stiles' legs to stretch them out with slow but steady pressure. Stiles laid down with a sigh and let Derek deal with his legs.

The rest of the night went by without farther incidents and in the morning they had trouble to get Haley off the couch and into the bathroom. While she was in there, Derek took Jack for a quick morning walk and Stiles prepared breakfast.

Abby called to make sure that Haley was up and about, she seemed to know her daughter, but aside from the nightmare everything was fine on their end and Stiles told her to not worry so much.

Derek wanted to head home anyway so he drove Haley to school. Stiles would pick her up in the afternoon.

"We're the center of attention," Derek noticed. He liked his car but in the parking lot of a school, it drew the wrong kind of attention. Next to him, Haley sank deeper into her seat, making herself as invisible as possible. Derek took mercy on her, and himself, and didn't drive up all the way. Instead, he parked a bit at the side where he let her out.

"Have fun," he called after her and got an annoyed wave in return.

Laughing to himself Derek put the car in reverse before people started to wonder why he was lingering around.

Josh had already left for school but this time he'd left the apartment tidy. Derek didn't mind Josh's notes and books still laid out on the coffee table, it looked as if he had left it in the middle of something and would return to it later, but there were no dirty clothes lying around and the dishes were all in the dishwasher.

"That's all I'm asking for," Derek said into the empty room. It was still time for a bigger place. Josh needed a room for himself and switching between Stiles' and his own place was starting to get on Derek's nerves. Driving back and forth cost so much time. And gas.

On the kitchen table, he found a note from Josh: Ginger is fed no matter what he says

"You're busted, buddy," Derek told the cat who, of course, was circling his legs while announcing loudly how much he was starving.

Derek made himself another coffee and then he set up his workplace at the kitchen table. An office would be nice too. Since the viewing of the studio he had scheduled with Abby was canceled, and no he would not go with Karen, thank you very much, he had time to answer emails and catch up with social media.

He spent the next hours on the laptop, he would have never guessed that being a photographer meant that he had to write this much. But for commission work he had to work out the details with the client which meant an endless back and forth until everything was set. And then they backed out the last moment because they finally realized that Derek really wasn't working for free. And not for a few bucks either. It had happened a few times but it was annoying every single time.

Sick of this Derek opened Photoshop to at least work on pictures and not on words for a while. He got one job done and sent the final version of the photos on their digital journey to the client.

With that out of the way, he shut the laptop. He needed something real. So Derek grabbed his camera, the Canon which used real film which he would have to develop in the darkroom later, and left the apartment.

He had wanted to check out the location his latest clients wanted to use for their photo shooting so that was where he was heading. That way he felt like he was actually working and not just aimlessly strolling around.

The place was beautiful. He could see why someone would pick this place for a romantic date. And it was remote. Derek had to park the car and walk the last bit. It was a nice day but there was nobody else around.

"This could work," Derek said to himself, pictures already forming in his mind. In fact, this could turn out quite nicely. Old trees, one with a bench looking over a small pond, grassy areas and some thick bushes. He could definitely work with this.

It was a beautiful place even without models posing in BDSM gear so Derek took some pictures. Stiles liked his landscapes and lately, Derek had rarely the opportunity to take some simple pictures of nature.

Derek filled the whole roll of film. With this kind of photography one had to choose wisely because the roll only held a very limited amount of pictures but that was one of the things Derek loved about analog photography.

Back at his apartment, he went straight for the darkroom to develop the pictures right away. Aside from actually taking the picture, this was the part he loved most. He could get lost in this work.

"Derek, you in there?" Josh pulled him out of his thoughts. Derek had locked the door but Josh didn't even try to open it. He knew better than that. Now. In the beginning, when they still had to get used to living together, Josh had opened the door at the wrong moment and had ruined some of Derek's work.

He had thought that Derek would kick him out over it, Derek had been working with one of the film rolls from their trip to California, there had been some private moments on that roll, but in the end, those were just pictures. Derek had more than enough private pictures from that trip, he wouldn't miss a few. Much.

Josh had never again tried to open the door to the darkroom again and Derek had started to lock himself in.

"Yeah," Derek answered. He had no idea what time it was but it had to be pretty late if Josh was back from school. "Dinner at Stiles' later, think you can survive on your own until then?" Which reminded Derek that he didn't have lunch either but he didn't want to leave his work unfinished.

"I'll try," Josh yelled back and left most likely to raid Derek's fridge. Where the teenager left all the food was beyond him, he must have hollow legs, but at least Josh's parents were sending money for housing their son.

Derek heard Josh walking around the apartment but for a teenager, he was a very quiet housemate, he didn't even listen to music without his headphones on, so Derek let himself get caught up in his work again.

"Derek?" Josh pulled him out of his work again but it must have been a while since he had come home. "You still alive in there?"

"I'm fine," Derek assured him. "What time is it?"

"Past six. Stiles called."

"Shit." Derek had totally forgotten the time. Stiles expected them for dinner and with Haley, it shouldn't get too late, tomorrow was Friday.

Abby wouldn't arrive in New York before nine and it would be almost midnight until she would even be able to pick up Haley so they had decided that Haley would stay the night at Stiles' again and that Abby would pick her up in the morning. And they better handed over a well-rested girl.

"Give me a minute."

"Abby's in the hospital."

 

Chapter Text

"I'm not going to sign this." Abby put the sheet of paper back on the desk.

"Abby, don't be stupid," Rick hissed at her. "You don't know what you're talking about."

"If you think that I'm just going to sign a waiver before I even know what I'm resigning here you are the stupid one." Abby glared at him but then she turned back to Mr. Miller.

"Are we talking about inheriting debts here?" That was the only reason she could think of for not taking whatever that woman had left them.

Rick grabbed the form again together with a pen and shoved it back at her.

"You. Are. Going. To. Sign. This." Under the desk, he grabbed her wrist. Abby tried to squirm her way out of his grip but he was too strong. She felt bones grinding together but he didn't let go of her.

"Rick, stop!" She yelled. "You're hurting me."

"Mr. Carter!" Suddenly Mr. Miller was on Rick's other side and with his help, Abby could get her wrist free. Without even thinking she was out of the chair and behind the desk. With that piece of furniture between her and her brother-in-law, she felt a bit safer.

"Mr. Carter, I think you want to leave now." Mr. Miller stood firmly between Rick and Abby but for a moment it looked as if Rick wanted to just push the older man out of the way. "Or do I have to have you escorted out?"

"She was supposed to sign the damn thing." Rick pointed his finger at her. "This stupid bitch is ruining everything."

Rick did leave eventually but Abby wasn't sure what he would do if he caught her alone. Her things were still at his place, including the ticket for the plane back. Abby had no idea what to do about that but for now, she sat down in her chair again while Mr. Miller was offering her a cup of water.

"Are you hurt?" He asked. "Shall I call the police? He assaulted you, you can press charges."

"It's fine." Abby rotated her wrist. Bruised but nothing broken, at least that. "But I'd really like to know what the hell is going on here."

"Fair enough." Mr. Miller took his seat behind the desk.

Half an hour later Abby left Mr. Miller's office, furious. Turned out that Bethany Callahan, the woman who'd basically raised Marvin and Rick, had wanted them to inherit the fortune she left behind. Since Marvin was no longer alive, Rick had thought that Bethany had changed her will so that he would get everything. But she hadn't changed her will and Marvin was still named as her heir along with Rick. Abby and Haley were the ones who would get half of the estate in his stead. And for some reason, Rick had thought that if he just pushed her a little she would sign off her share.

"This damn bastard," Abby cursed under her breath. The fact that she would get quite some money hadn't really sunken in yet, she was more furious that Rick had tried to cheat her out of it. Abby stormed out of the building but in the parking lot, she stopped dead with no clue on what to do next. There was no way she could just go back to Rick's place.

Abby hadn't gotten the impression that Lisa was into this so maybe if she called her, she would help her. She was the only other person around here she knew. But when she was searching her purse for her phone, Rick was back.

"You bitch!" He was right in her face. "Have you forgotten your place?"

Abby backed off but he followed, looming over her. Red in the face and pumping his fists, he looked ready to punch her. A quick glance around confirmed that, yes, there was nobody in sight, fuck.

"You go right back in there and you sign that goddamn paper!"

"Or what?" Abby planted her feet and set her yaw. "You hit me until I do it?"

That seemed to throw him off for a second and Abby wondered if she could sprint back into the building. There was a receptionist right at the entrance. If she could make it there …

Rick seemed to actually think about the situation.

"Haley," he finally said. That got Abby's attention. "If you steal my money, you better watch out for that little brat. Accidents do happen."

"Leave Haley out of this." Suddenly she was the one in his face. He better kept his hands off Haley.

"I never got why Marv would marry one of your kind." He sounded almost chatty all of a sudden.

"My kind?"

"And have a mixed child." He bit his lip and shook his head. "Aunt Beth would have never wanted for someone like you to get her money." He looked her up and down with open disgust. "After Marv's death, she was supposed to change her will."

"But she didn't." Abby spit the words into his face. At least he seemed to have calmed down a bit. "Maybe she wanted Marvin's child to have a good life with her money."

He gave her a look as if that was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.

"You know what?" Abby made a decision "You can shove your racist crap, I'm done here." With that, she turned around and walked briskly back to the entrance of the building. Turning her back to him felt like the stupidest idea ever but they were in broad daylight and out of the corner of her eye she saw a car turning into the lot. She only had to make it back into the building.

She didn't make it back into the building.

Suddenly he was behind her, grabbed her hair and with an animalistic scream he shoved her into the nearest a car.

Abby screamed and tried to get away but he ignored her struggling and slammed her into the car again. This time he smashed her head into the hood.

Everything after that was a blur. There were screams and people and somebody helped her to sit on the ground. Then there was a woman in front of her, asking questions. At least her lips were moving but whatever she was saying got lost somewhere under water. It sounded like she was under water. There was some of it running down her face. When Abby tried to wipe it off, her fingertips came back red. Abby stared at the red liquid, trying to make sense of it.

The woman cleaned her hand with a tissue while she kept talking but it still didn't make sense.

At some point, the woman changed places with a man who shone a light in her eyes.

The feeling of being under water eased up a little and when he asked her name, she could give him that.

"My head hurts." She tried to reach for her head again but the man caught her wrist and stopped her. That sparked a memory and Abby struggled to get out of that grip.

He let go of her but still made sure that she didn't touch her head.

"We're taking you to the hospital," he said and that sounded like a good idea. Somebody should have a look at her head. With x-rays and things like that. Something wasn't right with her head, that much she could tell. There was still red water running down her face, it was blurring her vision.

"He slammed me into the car," she said. It still didn't feel real.

There were more people around and Abby saw flashing lights but then the door of the ambulance fell shut and she couldn't see what was going on out there any longer. Was Rick still there?

By the time they reached the hospital, Abby's head had cleared off a little bit and when the doctor was asking the usual questions, she could give him real answers.

They did their tests but the biggest part of the following hours Abby spent waiting. They had put her in a gown and then in a bed and then they had left her to wait for the results or the doctor to return or whatever. The nurse might have said something about that but Abby hadn't really paid attention. Her clothes and her purse were lying on a chair nearby so at least she had everything she needed with her. She still had a few things at Rick's place but nothing she needed badly enough to go back there. She wasn't sure how much time had past but she was pretty sure that she had missed her flight so she wouldn't need her ticket either.

The ticket. Abby shot upright which caused a new wave of nausea but she swallowed against it, she didn't have time for that. She didn't know where Rick was but he had threatened to do something to Haley. And with the ticket, he would be able to get to her.

Abby scrambled out of the bed to get her phone from her purse. She fumbled with it and almost dropped it but she managed to find Stiles in the contact list. At least she hoped it was Stiles' number she was calling, the display was kind of blurry.

"Stiles," she called out the second he answered. "Don't let him get to Haley."

The world started to swim in front of her eyes and she needed to sit down. She missed the chair and landed hard on her ass. A hot lance of pain ran up her spine and exploded in her head but she kept an iron grip on the phone.

"Abby?" She heard Stiles voice from far away. "What happened? Where are you?"

"I'm …" She couldn't think. "I'm … in the hospital. They took me to the ER."

"That's good," Stiles said in a calm voice. Abby dared to take a breath. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"He hit me." Tears were running down her face and she was trembling so hard, she had to grab the phone with both hands or it would have slipped out of her hand. "He wants to hurt Haley. He has the ticket."

"Who?"

"Rick."

"Okay," Stiles said, still in a calm voice. As if he had things under control. "Abby, listen to me. You're in the hospital?"

"Yes."

"Let them take care of you." It almost sounded like an order. "I'm about to pick up Haley from school. I'll bring her here right away, no detours. Even if he knows where you live now, he doesn't know where I live, right?"

Abby couldn't remember what she had told Rick. Or Lisa. They had talked quite a bit yesterday and she had mentioned Stiles' name. She told him that.

"I doubt you gave them my last name." Stiles just rolled with it. Abby knew that she was probably overreacting here, Rick might be in police custody for all she knew, but she wasn't up for reason right now. Right now she needed to know that Haley was safe.

"But if it makes you feel better I can take her over to Derek's place."

"Yes, please." Abby cried in relief.

"Mrs. Carter, what happened?" A nurse crouched down in front of her.

"I have to go," Abby told Stiles when the nurse tried to pry the phone out of her hands. "I'll call you later."

The nurse helped her back into the bed, scolding her for getting out of it in the first place.

Abby didn't want to stay overnight, she was still paying off Haley's medical bills, she didn't need more on top of what they would charge for the visit to the ER anyway. But the doctor who talked to her convinced her to stay. She wouldn't help anybody if she died over the night because something in her head was bleeding. Especially since she had no idea where she would go.

So they gave her a room, hooked her up to a monitor and gave her more for the pain. They didn't want her to use her phone, apparently she needed rest and high on meds she wouldn't be able to navigate through the phone anyway, but when she said that it was about her daughter, one of the nurses had a heart and called Stiles to give him an update. At least the few bits she was allowed to tell him.

Knowing that that was taken care of, Abby let herself drift to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

"Abby's in the hospital," Josh said through the door of the darkroom.

"What?" Derek had only half-listened, his focus was on his work, he must have misheard.

But no, Josh repeated it again. Abby was in the hospital. At least according to Stiles, which could mean everything or nothing. Derek hurried to wrap things up and then he stormed out of the darkroom.

"What else did he say?" Derek asked and took his phone from Josh. His cousin had answered the latest call but it looked like Stiles had tried to reach him before and he had left messages as well.

"He's bringing Haley over, didn't say why." Josh shrugged but he seemed worried. "I think he didn't want to talk about it with Haley around."

"Why is he bringing her here?" That part didn't make sense. If Stiles were on his way to bring Haley to Abby, that he would understand but bringing her here?

"He just said that he would explain later."

While Derek scrolled through Stiles' messages, Josh started to pack up his things so that they would have the couch and the table available.

The messages didn't give him more information so Derek put his phone aside and started to clean up as well. His workplace on the kitchen table was by far not as chaotic as Josh's but Derek put his things aside, looked like they would need the table later. At least for dinner but it had almost sounded as if Stiles intended to stay with Haley for longer than just dinner.

Twenty minutes later Stiles came in with Jack and Haley in tow.

"Our bags are still in the car," Stiles said before he was actually through the door. "Would someone with working legs get them?"

Sensing that Stiles was in a bad mood, Josh did the smart thing and hurried to get their things. Jack didn't let that bother him, he had to greet Derek. Since Haley was holding his leash, she got dragged in with him.

"Hey there," Derek greeted her while he was scratching Jack behind the ear. "How was school?"

He went for the safe questions because he had no clue if and what she knew about her mother. She gave him a shrug for an answer and when Jack had enough of Derek, he went in search for Ginger and Haley just followed him. Derek wasn't sure if that was a good sign. At least she was looking around, taking in the new place.

"Stiles, what's going on here?" Derek asked in a low voice but he was sure that Haley was still able to hear him, his place wasn't that big.

"Later," Stiles whispered with a pointed look at Haley. So there were things he didn't want her to hear.

When Josh came back, Derek grabbed Stiles' bag which gave him the excuse to usher Stiles into the bedroom.

"Josh, keep an eye on them," Derek told his cousin who didn't look pleased at all that he had been degraded to babysitting.

"Okay, what the fuck is going on here?" Derek asked once they had a closed door between them and Haley.

"Hell if I know." Stiles let out a sigh. "She called me from the hospital. Disorientated. Rick is her brother-in-law, right?"

Abby had mentioned that name so Derek nodded.

"She was worried that he would come after Haley."

"What? Why?"

"No idea, I couldn't get much out of her but I promised to bring her here in case this Rick guy knows where I live."

So here he was. Stiles could be a lying bastard but when it came to things like this, he kept his word. Always. That was the main reason Derek had accepted him as his dom.

"A nurse called me back," Stiles continued. "She wasn't allowed to tell me much but it looks like he hit her hard enough that they want to keep her overnight."

"What the hell is going on there?" It didn't make sense. Abby should be on her way home after she had signed some papers. How had it come from that to an overnight stay in the hospital?

"The nurse said that she should be clearer in the head in the morning, maybe then we'll get some answers."

"What did you tell Haley?"

"Nothing." Stiles glanced at the door. "But she's not stupid, she knows something's up."

"Do you want me to talk to her?" Derek offered even if he had no clue what he would say to her. She had lost her father just a few months ago, she was still traumatized and now they had to tell her that her mom was in the hospital.

"I'll do it," Stiles decided which probably was the better solution. At least he had first-hand information, the little there was.

"Is there someone else we should inform? Her parents?" Derek asked but what would they tell them? Besides, they didn't even have their number.

"The hospital should have that covered." Stiles dismissed the idea. "Let's see if we can talk to her in the morning and then we'll take it from there."

It sounded like a plan.

Derek's place was already cramped with himself, Josh, and Ginger. He didn't have room for Stiles, Haley, and Jack as well. So while Stiles went to talk to Haley, Derek took Josh aside to inform him about the situation and to ask if he would move over to Stiles' place for the night.

"Of course," Josh hurried to say. Then he glanced over to where Stiles was talking to Haley. "How do you think she'll take it?"

Derek had no idea. Stiles was talking in a low voice and Haley was rapidly typing on her phone, asking questions, no doubt, but for now, she looked composed. Or not. Right this moment Haley broke down crying and a second later she was basically climbing into Stiles' lap, holding on for dear life.

"Well." Derek made with a helpless gesture.

Haley calmed down eventually, with the help from Jack who had wedged his nose somewhere between Haley and Stiles, but she was even quieter and seemed more withdrawn. But that hardly came as a surprise. That she couldn't talk to her mom right now didn't help either.

Haley had texted her but there was no answer coming back. There wasn't even the blue check mark that Abby had read the message.

"The nurse said that she needs to sleep," Stiles reminded her. "But you can talk to her in the morning."

Haley didn't look convinced but there wasn't much they could do. So they did everything to distract her. They ordered pizza and Haley picked out a movie for them. At least she was supposed to pick something. She was halfheartedly browsing through the movies but nothing seemed to pique her interest.

"Want me to pick something?" Stiles offered to which Haley just shrugged. So Stiles picked something but nobody was particularly interested in the movie.

Derek had missed lunch so he was eating his pizza with appetite but Haley only nibbled at a slice while she was looking with unseeing eyes at the TV. He wondered where her mind went, to her father or her mother, probably both. For sure she was expecting the worst for her mom.

Not knowing was the worst and before morning they wouldn't get real information. The nurse had assured Stiles that Abby was not in a life-threatening condition but that left still too much room for speculations.

When he had finished his pizza, Josh fled the uncomfortable silence and headed over to Stiles' place. Derek was tempted to go with him, he didn't know what to do with Haley, but he stayed in his chair and kept watching the movie without a clue what he was watching.

By the end of that Haley was half asleep with Ginger sitting in her lap and Jack on the couch next to her. Stiles had fled to the other chair so the trio had the whole couch for themselves. Derek had no doubt that they would sleep like that tonight.

Haley was in no condition for school tomorrow and with her uncle possibly coming for her, there was no way they would leave her out of their sight, so Derek just selected the next movie on the list and they kept on watching.

Ten minutes into the new movie Haley had nodded off for real. Derek exchanged a glance with Stiles and silently they agreed to wait a few more minutes. Once they were sure that Haley was sound asleep, Derek gently helped her into a more comfortable position. Ginger protested at the change but snuggled into Haley as soon as Derek had draped the blanket over her.

"I'll take Jack for a last walk," Derek told Stiles. There was no need for Stiles to get back into his chair for more than to make it to bed. The way Stiles was sitting, this had gotten more to him than he wanted to let on to. Sure enough, Stiles just nodded and didn't offer to take Jack himself.

Neither Derek nor Jack wanted to stay out for long so Derek just let the dog do his business and then they were on their way back.

In the meantime, Stiles had cleaned up and the living room was dark except for the light coming through the open bedroom door.

Jack went straight for Haley and carefully settled on her legs like he did when Stiles was having a bad day.

Derek joined Stiles in bed but he left the door open so that they would hear if Haley had a nightmare again.

Stiles had his back against the headboard and his laptop on his legs.

"What are you doing?" Derek asked. From this angle, he couldn't tell what Stiles had on the screen. Hopefully not Netflix, he wasn't really tired yet but not up for another movie.

"Trying to find out what happened to Abby," Stiles answered, chewing his bottom lip.

"Found anything?" If there was anything to find, Stiles would find it. But if it was big enough for some online news site, he wasn't sure if he really wanted to know.

"There are no names but I found something about a woman who got attacked in front of a lawyer's office," Stiles answered. The site Stiles was on didn't look like any news site Derek knew. It looked more like some intern police thing.

"Something about the attacker?"

Stiles scanned the site. "They're not one-hundred percent sure about the identity of the attacker, the woman hadn't been able to give a statement yet but witnesses claim it was her brother-in-law."

That did not sound good. But Stiles had spoken to Abby on the phone and a nurse had confirmed that she would be alright.

"Stop worrying." Derek reached over and after a second Stiles let him close the laptop. "We'll know more in the morning."

They turned off the light but then they were lying next to each other and Derek was pretty sure that Stiles was as awake as he was.

"Did I tell you that Dad got shot once?" Stiles broke the silence.

"No." Derek turned to his side to face him but in the dark, only Stiles' silhouette stood dark against the white sheets.

"I was sixteen," Stiles continued. "Deputy Parrish came to our house one evening to tell me that my dad was in the hospital. He assured me that it wasn't bad, just a graze, maybe a bit deeper than that. Nothing bad, he repeated that a few times but my mind was stuck on shot and hospital. I had lost my mom not even three years ago and I was convinced that I would lose him as well." Stiles paused, clearly fighting with his emotions. Derek used the moment to draw him close and Stiles just melted into his chest.

"You know how she feels," Derek summed it up.

Stiles nodded into his chest.

"It's a pretty shitty feeling."

Derek held him for a long time and they fell asleep like this. When Derek woke up in the morning, he was alone in the bed. He found Stiles sitting on the couch, dozing with Haley's head pillowed in his lap. Jack was still lying on Haley's legs but when Derek went over to the kitchen, the dog followed him in hope for breakfast.

Stiles rose to the smell of coffee but Haley was still sleeping.

"Another nightmare?" Derek asked when he handed Stiles a cup which he took greedily.

"She was crying in her sleep."

Derek checked the time.

"I'm going to take Jack for a walk," he decided. "I'll bring breakfast."

"And I should call her school to let them know that she won't come in today," Stiles agreed. "And after breakfast, I'm going to call Abby."

 

Chapter Text

Abby slept through the night and only rose once or twice when somebody came into the room but not enough to actually wake up.

She did wake up with a headache from hell in the morning and when she tried to reach for the cup of water on the nightstand, the throbbing behind her eyes exploded in hot pain. With a whimper she curled in on herself and tried to ride out the pain, praying that she didn't have to throw up, she wouldn't survive throwing up. She clung to that thought and after a few shallow breaths the pain in her head eased off to a bearable level.

She must have set off some kind of alarm because a nurse came into the room to check on her. She helped her with the water and she even had something for the pain for her.

"The doctor wants to see you soon," the nurse informed her. "And the police wants to talk to you as well."

Abby just registered the words without actually getting the meaning.

"But if nothing comes up, you can go home in the afternoon," the nurse continued.

Home sounded good, she wanted to see Haley. Only with a delay, Abby remembered that she wasn't in New York. Haley must be worried sick by now.

"Where's my phone?"

Her vision was still kind of blurry but good enough to type a short message to Haley. That she was fine and would be able to leave the hospital today. Her brain had processed that part of the information but when Haley asked when she would be home, Abby paused. She didn't have a flight booked and she didn't even know if she was allowed to fly in her condition. So she answered that she wasn't sure yet but that she would be home soon. She waited to call Stiles until she had spoken with the doctor, though.

Abby dozed off again but this time it was a more restful sleep and when she woke up because her doctor had entered the room, she actually felt better. Not good but better. Good enough to talk to the police who still wanted to get her statement. Her doctor told her that she didn't have to give that now if she didn't feel up for it but he promised to send in the officer once he was done with Abby when she assured him that it was fine.

Turned out that she had a concussion, no surprise there, bruises and a nasty abrasion on her face but she was good to go. But she should take it easy the next few days. And no flying, her doctor told her in a stern voice when she asked about that. She was allowed to travel by car if she must and had a driver. But only in short stages and with plenty of rest over the night.

"You were lucky," he informed her. "He could have broken your skull or spine. Don't jeopardize it."

She nodded to that, which spiked the pain in her neck again, but she wouldn't risk her health just to get back home a day sooner. At least not as long as she knew that Haley was safe.

"I'll send in the officer, then." The doctor gave her a smile and then he left. A second later a police officer entered the room. It was a young woman which made Abby breathe a bit easier. At least she would understand. That they even bothered with getting her statement right here and didn't make her come to the station was kind of a miracle and she had the suspicion that it had to do with the fact that Mr. Miller was involved. Abby wouldn't be surprised if he was using his status as a lawyer to push things along. After he had seen how Rick had tried to force her into signing the papers, Mr. Miller had been really nice to her and he had promised to send her everything about the inheritance.

"Did you get him?" Abby asked before the officer even had the time to introduce herself.

"We had your brother-in-law in for questioning," she said. But this was nothing they could keep him for, Abby understood that. But with Mr. Miller as a witness, backed up with camera footage from the parking lot, and with Abby's statement, there was no doubt that he had been assaulting her.

"This will go to court and he will get convicted," the officer assured her. "But until then I highly recommend that you file a restraining order to protect you and your daughter."

Abby hadn't thought about that but it sounded like a good idea. Even if she was pretty sure that Rick didn't know where she lived. Where she worked, however, was easy to find out. It would only take a quick google search.

The officer had the necessary forms with her, also something Abby doubted was normal procedure. Her head was throbbing and her vision blurry, but the officer went through the papers with her and in the end, Abby just had to sign it. A second of paranoia hit her and she squinted at the top of the page to make sure that she was signing what she thought she was signing.

When the officer left, Abby sank back into her pillow, completely exhausted. She might even have dozed off again but then her phone startled her awake.

"Hello?" She asked into the phone without even bothering with squinting at the screen to see who was calling her.

"Hey, how are you doing?" Stiles asked. "They didn't tell us much last night and Haley is worried."

Abby gave him an update in short sentences, her voice clipped and strained to her own ears. How she was supposed to leave the hospital in a few hours was beyond her. And she had no idea where to go.

"I can book you a room," Stiles offered. She hadn't even noticed that she had said that part out loud. "And a flight back, if you want."

"Doc says I'm not allowed to fly." Abby sank back into her pillow with a groan and closed her eyes. Her head didn't like thinking very much at the moment. She just wanted to sleep.

"Do you have family around there to look after you?" Stiles asked. Abby almost laughed at that. The only family she had around here was Rick. She didn't have anybody aside from her parents but they were in Wyoming. And they didn't really have the money to fly across the country to get to her. Where would be the point in that anyway? Then her parents would be stranded here with her. While she was still thinking about that, Stiles had kept talking.

"... send Derek." She caught the end of a sentence.

"What?"

"I said that Haley can stay with us for as long as you need," Stiles repeated. "And that I can send Derek to get you."

"I don't …," she started but didn't know how to end the sentence. She wanted to go home. She wanted to see Haley as quickly as possible. But most of all, she didn't want to think right now. Everything hurt, she was alone and she couldn't think straight. Tears welled up in her eyes but she fought against them. She needed to sort this out.

"Okay, this is what we'll do." Stiles took over and a part of her was just grateful that he took charge. "I'll book you a room, you can rest up there. Then I'm going to book a flight for Derek, he'll be there as soon as possible. And tomorrow he'll drive you home. Sounds like a plan?"

There were lots of open questions to his plan, mainly who would pay for all that, Abby didn't have the money, and why would Derek even do something like that for her? Stiles hadn't even asked him yet. But Abby was too tired to think about that now so she just agreed with Stiles' plan and finished the call. Then she curled in on herself and slept a bit more.

They did kick her out of the hospital in the afternoon but by then she had the address of a hotel with a room waiting for her. Derek would arrive later that evening.

Abby took a cab to the hotel and she used the ride to update Haley. She already knew about the rescue plan and Haley was telling her in detail how Derek had reacted to the information that his flight would go in a few hours. It did make Abby feel guilty but she didn't have the strength to call it off. At least Haley seemed to have fun.

At the hotel, she got some strange looks and the receptionist had a forced smile on his lips when he checked her in. He did become a bit more friendly once he found out that the room was already paid for. Only when Abby was in her room, nothing too fancy but clean and comfortable, she realized what she must look like. She was wearing the same clothes as yesterday, it was all she had, the rest was at Rick's, her face was battered and she still was mostly out of it. She wondered if the receptionist's money was on drugs or an abusive boyfriend, most likely both, but Abby didn't really care about what he was thinking.

Exhaustion was already catching up on her but the shower just looked too inviting. The hospital stench was clogging her nose and suddenly she needed to get rid of that. She almost past out in the shower but that was totally worth it. Only when the hot water started to loosen up her tense muscles she noticed how stiff she had been.

Feeling clean again, Abby put on the bathrobe the hotel provided, it was the only clean item of clothing she had, and then she stretched out on the bed. It was as comfy as it looked and Abby let herself drift for a little while.

She was about to fall asleep for real when her phone started to ring. This time she checked the name on the screen. Lisa.

Abby closed her eyes, she was not in the mood for this, but in the end, she answered.

"What have you done to my husband?" Lisa yelled the second Abby accepted the call.

"What have I done?" Abby echoed. Exhaustion forgotten, she sat up straighter.

"The police was here," Lisa said, still sounding pissed. "They took him in for questioning. The neighbors saw it."

"The neighbors saw …" Abby almost laughed at the ridiculousness of that statement. "I'm the one with a concussion. I'm the one who spent the night in the hospital. And you're worried about the neighbors?"

That seemed to throw her off the loop.

"Concussion? What?" Lisa asked, clearly confused.

"What did he tell you?" Abby asked, curious now. She doubted that Rick had told her the truth.

"You attacked him and he had to defend himself," Lisa answered but she didn't sound so sure any longer. "And now you're blaming him. Playing the victim."

"Believe what you want." Abby didn't really care. What was the point of arguing with her? But then she remembered something the police officer had said. "They have on tape how he grabbed me from behind and smashed my head into the hood of a car. If you call that self-defense …" And with that, she ended the call.

By now her head was pulsing with her heart-beat and hot lances of pain were piercing her eyes from behind. Abby took some of the painkillers they had given her in the hospital and then she crawled under the covers. It was only five in the afternoon but sleep sounded like a good idea. Just a short nap before she would think about the next steps. Dinner would probably be a good idea at some point but in a more long-term planning, she needed to make sure that Haley was safe. But first a nap. Abby snuggled deeper under the covers.

She slept through until four in the morning. For a moment she was lying in the strange bed and tried to figure out where she was. Everything about her stay at the hospital was kind of fuzzy but she remembered clearly her visit to the lawyer with Rick.

The way he had flipped out … only now Abby realized how lucky she had been with getting away with a concussion. He could have killed her. Over some money.

She just hoped that distance alone would keep him from coming after her. Now, with her head more clear, she realized that she had been worried over nothing with the ticket. Those were personalized, Rick couldn't just use it. Embarrassed over that unnecessary freak-out Abby shook her head.

When she checked her phone, she found two messages from Derek.

Just arrived at the hotel, you still up? He had sent that one around eleven last night and then, half an hour later: Apparently not. Breakfast in the morning? Just let me know when you're up

Abby doubted that he wanted to get woken up at four in the morning but breakfast sounded like a good idea. To kill the time, Abby got comfortable again and turned on the TV. On low and with her head under the covers, the light and sound didn't bother her too much but it was good to fill the silence.

 

Chapter Text

Since Haley wasn't going to school today and they needed to occupy her somehow, and since Derek's apartment didn't offer much entertainment for an eleven-year-old, Derek showed her the darkroom. She had been eyeing the door for a while now and it would give Stiles some privacy to call Abby. Haley had gotten some messages from her mom, assuring her that she was fine, but Derek would feel better once Stiles had spoken to her and could confirm it.

At first, Derek showed Haley everything with the door open and explained the process step by step. She listened with interest and even asked a few questions via phone.

Can I try? Was the latest one.

"Sure." He had more than enough negatives they could use. "But you can't use your phone while we're developing the pictures. The light would ruin them."

With a serious face, Haley put her phone in her pocket. Derek got her a sheet of paper and a black marker, just in case. If she used big, bold letters he should be able to read it even in the dim, red light.

Then he got everything ready and closed the door.

"Keep it moving."

Haley had her first photo in the developing liquid and now they were watching as the picture slowly became visible. Derek had let her pick one from the negatives he had at hand and of course she had picked one with Jack. When Derek had taken the picture his focus had been on Stiles who had been petting Jack but Haley clearly had other priorities.

"Gently," Derek told her. "Just a moment longer." He was watching the picture closely. Timing was important here or it would darken too much.

"Okay, get it out … now."

At his command, Haley basically threw the picture into the next bowl which would fixate it.

"Now it just has to dry." Derek got it out and put it on the line with a clothespin. "You can use your phone again."

Not a second later Haley had her phone out.

Did I do good?

"Really good." Derek picked up a corner of the picture to get it in a more upright position to have a real look at it. "Or what do you think?"

She beamed at him.

Can you show me how to use your camera?

"Do you want to make your own pictures?" Derek asked. Her enthusiasm was adorable and it gave him a warm feeling. In times of digital cameras, every phone had one these days, it was kind of heart-warming that she was interested in this kind of photography. Analog pictures needed more time and dedication.

Haley nodded, ready to start taking pictures right now.

However, they were interrupted by Stiles, who appeared in the door.

"Derek, you should pack a bag. You need to hurry or you'll miss your flight."

"My what?"

"I'll explain while you're packing," Stiles told him which was not helping. Derek gave Haley a helpless look who just shrugged but she was clearly amused by the situation.

"Do you have appointments to reschedule?"

"For how long am I gone?" Derek asked. Stiles had spoken with Abby so he guessed this had something to do with her. So he did hurry over to the bedroom to pack a bag while his mind was racing. If it was bad it made sense that Stiles didn't want to go into details in front of Haley.

Since they were alternating between his and Stiles' place constantly, they always had an overnight bag packed and ready but he had no idea if that would be enough.

"Where am I even going?" Derek asked with a glance at Haley who was watching with interest. This was urgent, that much was clear, but some more information would be nice.

While Derek packed, Stiles told him where he was going. Haley was standing in the door so Stiles kept it to simple facts. Abby would get out of the hospital today and since she wasn't allowed to fly or drive herself, Derek would pick her up and drive her home.

"Sorry for ambushing you like this," Stiles finished. "I would have gone myself but I doubt they have a car at hand I can drive." He had one hand on the steel ring at the wheel, the knuckles white because he was gripping it so hard. Derek stepped over to him and put his hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay. Of course, I want to help her." He took a moment to massage Stiles' shoulder and slowly the tension melted away. Usually, Stiles wasn't bothered by the fact that he couldn't just stand up and walk around. Or drive any car for that matter but in moments like this, his insecurities flared up.

"Besides, Abby gave Haley into your care," Derek reminded him. "You're responsible for her, you can't just dump her on me and take off."

"Yeah," Stiles made and looked over to Haley. "You're stuck with me."

Derek left Stiles with some calls to make, he had an appointment today and he had promised to call that couple to set up their outdoor photo-shooting session, but he knew that Stiles could handle it. And then he was in a cab on his way to the airport.

Derek wasn't a big fan of flying but at least this one was a short one. It was still way too long for his liking. He had a seat at the window, at least that, but that also meant that he was trapped between said window and the person sitting next to him. Which was a man in his fifties. A very communicative man in his fifties. They hadn't even taken off and Derek already knew that he had a wife and two kids and that he had been on a business trip and was now heading home.

With Stiles, Derek was used to non-stop talking but Stiles had a way that made it fun, listening to him. This man didn't have that way, quite the opposite. By the time they were in the air, Derek was ready to rip his throat out, with his teeth, just to shut him up.

"What about you?" The man asked. "All alone on this plane? Business trip or are you visiting family?"

"Visiting family," Derek replied. Abby was not family and this was not exactly a visit but Derek was not in the mood to explain the situation to a stranger. But the man wasn't really interested in Derek anyway, he was just looking for an opening to babble away. Since Derek had mentioned family, he went back to talking about his. About his wife and the kids, who were both in college now, and about his elderly parents.

Derek tried to tune him out and kept looking out of the window. But not even that was enough of a hint to shut him up.

Derek only breathed easier once they had landed and they could leave the plane. He made sure to put some people between himself and that guy but it looked as if he had already found somebody else to talk to. Once Derek had his bag, he hurried to get a cab to the hotel where Stiles had booked rooms for him and Abby. It was almost eleven in the evening when he finally entered his room for the night.

He just dropped on the bed, the last hours had been way too hectic. Of course, he would and had dropped everything to help out a friend but he would have liked a warning in advance, he was not a fan of these spontaneous actions.

He shot Abby a message, telling her that he had arrived but it looked as if she was already sleeping. Which was probably for the better.

Room service wasn't available at this time of the night, the kitchen had closed half an hour ago, so Derek had to go out if he wanted to eat something before he went to bed. His stomach was all for going out, it was grumbling loudly, and he was too wired to turn in just yet anyway.

Derek took his camera and went out to explore his surroundings. Stiles had shaken his head when Derek had packed it but he wasn't going anywhere without his camera.

First thing was food, he wasn't even sure if he had lunch and what he had gotten on the plane hadn't been filling at all. So Derek left the hotel and on a whim, he turned right and just started walking. Finding something to eat wasn't that hard and he was not the only one, looking for a late dinner. He got a small table in a corner from where he had the whole place in view. He liked watching people so while he was eating his sandwich, he let his eyes wander. He was the only one alone, the other guests were here in small groups, talking and laughing. One or two people were looking in his direction but Derek finished his meal before one of them could work up the courage to come over to him.

He spent the next hour exploring the area and taking pictures. He had his New York at Night series but it was nice to add other places to that. It was after one in the morning when he came back to his room and after a quick shower, he felt tired enough to go to bed. He had texted Stiles before and now he shot him a last good night before he turned off the lights.

The bed felt strange, unfamiliar, but what bothered him the most was the fact, that he was alone. He rarely slept alone these days. It was either his or Stiles' bed but always with Stiles. Sleeping alone just felt wrong, especially in an unfamiliar place like this.

Derek fell asleep eventually, and he did sleep well, but when he woke up in the morning, he was looking forward to sleeping in his own bed again. However, it was quite possible that he would have to deal with another night on the road. Depending on how Abby felt. Stiles had mentioned that she might not be up for a long ride and that it might be better to split the drive back to New York into two days. He would know more once he had actually seen Abby, though.

Still in bed, Derek reached for his phone. By now Abby had answered and they would have breakfast together. Derek texted back that he would be ready in half an hour. Then he wished Stiles a good morning and got a prompt answer back.

Bed felt empty without you, Stiles wrote.

Same

Have you seen Abby yet?

No, about to have breakfast with her

They texted a bit back and forth, their early days were coming to mind when they hadn't known each other in person but had constantly been texting. In the end, Derek had to hurry to not keep Abby waiting.

She had given him her room number but when he knocked nobody opened for a long moment. Long enough for Derek to wonder if he had gotten it wrong and she was already downstairs, waiting for him there. Or if he had the wrong room.

But then the door opened and Abby stood there. She was holding her head slightly turned but that didn't help to disguise the big abrasion on her cheek. Or the bruises and the shadows under her eyes.

"You look awful," Derek told her. The way she was standing there, she was waiting for his pity but that wasn't him, just ask Stiles. "Do you want to go downstairs or should we order in?"

She couldn't hide her face and there would be looks, they both knew it. Derek just didn't know if she was up for that just yet.

"Downstairs." She set her yaw and stepped out of her room. Derek offered her his arm which she took with a little laugh. So far so good.

"Thank you for coming here," she said while they waited for the elevator.

"Anytime," Derek assured her and he meant it. Stiles might have ambushed him with this but only because he knew that Derek would have made the same decision in a heartbeat.

The hotel had a dining room where they had a breakfast buffet for the guests. Derek and Abby got a table a bit at the side and Derek left her the chair that was not facing the whole room. They got coffee and then they went to fill their plates.

"Hungry?" Derek asked with an amused look at her plate. "You can go for seconds and thirds if you want, you know that, right?"

She nodded, already stuffing her face with pancakes which reminded him of Stiles.

"Okay, what exactly happened?" Derek asked the most burning question. So far they had only gotten bits and pieces, not enough to get the full picture.

 

Chapter Text

Abby had been awake since four in the morning, waiting with a grumbling stomach for Derek to get up and ready for breakfast, but when he was knocking at her door, she hesitated. She was wearing the same clothes again and one last look in the mirror had confirmed that the bruises were now fully on the surface and the abrasion had scrapped over which only made it standing out even more.

For a moment, Abby considered covering it up but it was too big for band-aids and the white dressing they had put on it in the hospital had stood in stark contrast to her skin, it had drawn even more attention. She had taken it off in the shower and hadn't bothered with putting on something new.

"You look awful," was Derek's comment when she finally opened the door. She had expected him to pity her but he just asked where she would be more comfortable, in her room or downstairs. Feeling more confident by that she decided that they would have breakfast downstairs. Derek even offered her his arm as if she was a lady he was taking out.

When Abby saw the full table, everything else was forgotten for the moment, she was starving.

Then Derek asked the big question. For a moment Abby was tempted to claim that she was still suffering from the attack just to duck out of the question for the moment. But truth was, she felt good. She still had a headache and when she'd entered the dining room, the bright light had hurt her eyes but at the moment she was just hungry and with a full plate in front of her she had that covered.

Abby pushed a piece of pancake around her plate but then she took a deep breath and told Derek what had happened. There wasn't that much to tell, actually. Rick had tried to force her to sign the papers and then he'd lost it in the parking lot.

"Is his last name Whittemore by any chance?" Derek muttered under his breath.

"No?" Abby couldn't quite follow. "His name is Carter. Rick Carter."

Derek gave her an apologizing smile. "Sorry, this just reminds me of something that has happened to Stiles. That guy's name was Whittemore." There was a story here but it was clear that Derek didn't want to talk about that now.

"That's basically it." Abby turned her attention back to her pancakes. "They are charging him but what he did was not bad enough to lock him up so he's running around somewhere. No idea if he's going to come after me or Haley. He said something about going after Haley but I don't know." Now, with her head more or less clear she doubted that he would come to New York to find Haley. "I'm sorry, I freaked out. Stiles must have been worried when I told him to leave his place."

"You should get a restraining order," Derek suggested. To her surprise, he did not tell her how much she had been overreacting.

"Already filed one," Abby told him with a watery smile. "I don't want to see him ever again."

"You don't have to," Derek assured her and then he reached over the table to take her trembling hand. "We finish up here, grab our things and then we're back on our way to New York. Haley's waiting for you."

"I don't have anything to grab," Abby remembered. "Everything is still at Rick's and I'm not going back there."

"Do you want me to get it?" Derek offered.

"You're already doing so much." Abby shook her head. "It's just clothes and stuff."

She had the important things with her but even if it was just some clothes and toiletries, she didn't have the money to replace them easily. Sure, she most likely had quite some money coming her way but she had learned to only work with the money she actually had in her account. And at the moment that wasn't much.

"On our way out, we're going to make a detour to get your stuff," Derek decided. "You can stay in the car if you want, you don't have to face him. Would that be okay?"

The way he was making sure every step of the way that she was okay with what was going on reminded her of Marvin. He had been so loving and caring without smothering her, she got the same feeling with Derek. But with him, she knew that it wasn't something romantic and that made it even better. He cared about her without ulterior motives.

"Yeah." Abby nodded. "That would be okay."

For a second she wondered if she should let Lisa know that they would come by to get her things, maybe she could pack up for her, but then Abby decided against it. Besides, she had hardly unpacked, Derek should be able to gather her things in less than a minute.

They finished their breakfast and Derek went to fetch his bag from his room. While Derek was with her, Abby could ignore the looks people were giving her, but now she was waiting in the lobby for him to come back from his room and she did feel the eyes on her. She wondered if people thought that Derek was the one who had done this to her.

There was a different receptionist behind the counter this morning and she just checked them out with professional efficiency and then Abby left the hotel with Derek. She was more than ready to get back to New York.

But first, they had to make one last stop.

Derek parked the car two houses down the street so even if Rick was the one answering the door, he would not be able to see Abby.

From the distance, Abby watched Derek who walked up to the door with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. Over the last few weeks Abby had gotten to know him a bit and she knew that he was actually a pretty sweet guy, his interactions with Jack and Haley gave him away. And with Stiles, when Derek was looking at his boyfriend, it was with hearts in his eyes. But now she saw him like others would. He had a bad guy vibe going on and at the moment he was playing it up.

If he knocked at her door like that, Abby would be very wary of him.

It was Lisa who opened the door. Derek said something to her and then Rick appeared behind her. He was clearly not pleased to see a stranger on his doorstep. They were too far away for Abby to make out words but Rick's body language was more than clear. He didn't want Derek here and he was trying his best to scare him away. His anger was not directed at Abby but it still brought back the memories. Abby clasped her wrist, it was still tender from where Rick had grabbed it. She just hoped that he wouldn't spot her and come over. She didn't know what she would do then. This had been such a stupid idea, they should have just left.

When Abby looked over again, Lisa was gone and Rick and Derek were caught in a stare down. Derek had his arms crossed over his chest and he was meeting Rick with a calm look. He didn't back down even when Rick invaded his personal space, his face only inches from Derek's.

Now Rick's voice was loud enough to carry over. Not every word but enough to get what he was saying. Apparently, Abby was a whore and Derek was the new guy she was spreading her legs for.

Abby had to swallow against a wave of nausea. She just wanted to get out of here but Derek just stood there, not in the slightest intimidated by Rick yelling at him. Under different circumstances, it would have been funny.

Then Lisa was back. She basically threw Abby's bag at Derek who caught it with ease. Then, without another word, Derek turned on his heel and walked away. Everything in Abby was screaming at that, she had her hand on the handle of the door, ready to jump out, but Rick didn't come after Derek, he didn't attack him from behind. Instead, he screamed more profanities for all the neighbors to hear and when Derek had reached the sidewalk without even acknowledging what he was screaming at him, Rick stepped back into the house and shut the door with a loud bang.

However, Abby only dared to breathe easier when Derek was back in the car and they were on the road again.

"Charming guy," Derek commented but then he glanced over to her. "You okay?"

Only now Abby noticed how much she was shaking. Seeing Rick, even from the distance ...

"Just get me out of here," Abby pleaded and she hated how desperate she sounded. But Derek just nodded and focused on the road again. To calm herself down, Abby got her phone out and wrote Haley a message. That they had breakfast and where now on the road.

Haley answered with a picture of her plate with a half-eaten pancake. The fact alone that she had eaten half the pancake already lifted Abby's mood.

Had the same, she wrote back. But mine are already gone. She added a smiley with its tongue out.

"Is Haley doing okay?" Derek asked.

"Stiles made her pancakes," Abby told him but didn't show him the picture, she didn't want to end at a lamp post, thank you very much.

"He likes to feed people." Derek shrugged. "And he's a stress eater."

With the adrenaline rush over, Abby felt exhaustion catching up with her. She had been up since four in the morning after all and she still had a concussion and probably should be in bed right now. The throbbing behind her eyes had abated overnight but it was slowly increasing again.

Abby took one of the painkillers they had given her in the hospital and then she sank deeper into her seat. The car was a newer model, almost silent and the bumps in the road barely noticeable. And Derek hadn't turned on the radio, most likely because of her. With a sigh, Abby closed her eyes and let the soft noises of the car lull her to sleep.

She didn't know how long she had slept but when she opened her eyes, they were parked at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Abby rubbed her face, the good side, to get more awake and then she got out of the car to stretch her legs. The car-seat was comfortable but not made for sleeping.

"Morning," Derek greeted her from where he was busy filling the tank.

"What time is it?" Abby stretched some more and carefully rotated her neck.

"Almost one." Derek gave her a considering look. "I was thinking, sandwiches for dinner and then we'll drive for a few more hours, find a motel and make it an early night?"

"We can drive through." Abby didn't like the idea of drawing this out for even longer. She was bothering Derek enough as it was. And she wanted to get back to Haley.

"We can't take turns driving and I really don't want to drive half the night if I can avoid it." Derek put the hose back and straightened up. "Want to come in and look at the sandwiches or shall I pick something for you?"

Abby was still caught on the fact that she couldn't drive at the moment. The drive back wouldn't be a problem with two people taking turns but for one alone ...

However, she had the feeling that this was only an excuse. Derek didn't want her to overdo it and he didn't want to make her feel as if he was mothering her by stopping early for the night. Abby appreciated it.

"I'll come with you," she decided. "Just to make sure that you don't get me the grossest looking sandwich they have."

Derek chuckled at that and gestured for her to lead the way.

Derek paid for the gas and the sandwiches and he even added some snacks and two bottles of Sprite.

"I'm going to pay you back," Abby assured him and she didn't just mean what he was paying here. He was spending quite some time and money on her while Stiles was at home, babysitting her daughter. Abby had no idea where to even start with paying them back.

While they were here, Abby used the chance to use the bathroom where she finally changed into different clothes. That alone brightened her mood.

When she came back, Derek had parked the car a bit at the side where they ate their sandwiches in the car with the doors open. It was a warm day, just perfect for a road trip.

Then they were back on the road and Derek filled the silence with stories from a road trip he had made with Stiles. Three weeks across the county to get to his sister's wedding in California. Abby got comfortable again and just listened to his voice.

 

Chapter Text

While Abby had been sleeping, Derek had quite some time to think. This did remind him of Stiles and Jackson but that also gave him an idea on how to deal with this. When they had been at Rick's place, Abby had been freaking out and Derek wondered how much she had heard of what her brother-in-law had to say about her. Bitch and whore had been some of the nicer words he had had for her. Derek had just been glad to leave that asshole in the rearview mirror.

Abby had slept the whole morning. Looked like she needed the sleep and with that, it was settled that they wouldn't push it and if Derek had his way they would find a place for the night not too late in the afternoon. But now Abby was awake and needed distraction from her aching body and circling thoughts. She didn't have to tell him that, he had seen it with Stiles often enough. The worst were the bad days but Stiles was an overthinker by nature.

So when Abby mentioned that the weather was just right for a road trip, Derek jumped onto that topic and told her about his road trip with Stiles.

She wasn't asking many questions, just enough to keep him talking, but he didn't get the feeling that he was boring her so he kept talking.

"Took lots of pictures," he said. "I can show you sometime. We've seen some beautiful national parks along the way."

"I'd like that," she answered and it did sound sincere. Usually, people were interested in his work for five minutes but very few actually wanted to see more than what was on his Instagram.

"You should get used to looking at photos," Derek told her. "I showed Haley how to develop them and now she wants to take some of her own."

"You're ruining my daughter. First Jack, then Stiles with his drawing and now you."

"She was interested." Derek shrugged. "But you know children, they want to try out everything but they rarely stick to something."

"Let's hope." Abby smiled at him but she did look a bit worried. "I don't have the space for all her hobbies."

Derek got the feeling that that was not the main reason on her mind but he didn't push it. Photography was an expensive hobby, he knew that way too well. He had cut back on food more than once for his equipment. And professional drawing equipment wasn't cheap either. Derek didn't know about her financial situation but being a single mom, he doubted Abby was swimming in money.

"I always wondered," Abby changed the topic. "I saw your pictures on your Instagram, those are normal stuff. Landscapes and pictures with barely any people in them, except the ones with Stiles, of course, and they are strong and beautiful." She paused, most likely picturing some of his photos in her mind.

"Thank you." Derek felt like he had to fill the sudden silence. He had an idea where she was going with this but he waited her out.

"And then there is your website," she continued. "Don't get me wrong, those pictures are also strong and beautiful but they're so different. It's like two different people are making those pictures."

"That's why I separated them," Derek explained. "I like both kinds. Last night, when I couldn't sleep, I went out and took some pictures. It kind of calms me down. But the other ones ... I like those as well." He kept his eyes on the road but his hand sneaked to his throat where the slim leather band was resting. Abby had asked about his relationship with Stiles before, she knew that what she saw on his website was the real deal.

"You love him," Abby said and when he glanced over to her, he caught her looking at his hand still on his collar. He dropped his hand.

"I do," he said simply. Some people had problems with the fact that Stiles was a man, or with the fact that he was in a wheelchair. And if that wasn't enough to throw them off, their dom-sub relationship did the trick. There weren't many people who understood.

But Abby had just accepted it. Derek had the suspicion that she had seen Haley with Jack and that she had decided then and there that she would just roll with it for her daughter. As long as they weren't serial killers she was fine with it.

"I miss my Marvin." The statement just broke out of her, Derek doubted she had the intention to tell him that. Her voice broke and suddenly she was shaking with dry sobs.

Derek didn't know what to do with this but he knew that he didn't want to deal with it while he had to focus on driving. He brought the car to a halt on the shoulder of the road. There wasn't much traffic and for now, they were alone on the road.

"I'm sorry." Abby wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand. "Must be the painkillers."

"It's okay," Derek assured her. "You miss him."

It had only been a few months, Rick had thrown that fact in his face just a few hours ago. How disgusting it was that Abby had a new lover this shortly after her husband's death.

"So much," she whispered but tried to compose herself.

"What kind of man was he?" Derek asked. Since he had parked the car he was free to turn in his seat to face her. She still looked ashen, the shadows under her eyes gave her a haunted look and the abuse on her face stood in stark contrast to her bloodless skin. She looked like an extra in a zombie movie if Derek was honest.

"Kind." Abby covered her mouth with her hand in an attempt to keep it together. "A loving man. And funny, we did the stupidest things together." A sad smile spread over her lips at the memories. "He adored Haley and she was always looking up to him. You would have liked him."

"I'm sure I would have," Derek said and it didn't feel like something he said just because. "He must be proud of you."

Abby gave him a look as if she had heard that statement too often already.

"I see you with Haley," Derek explained. "You are a single mother with a traumatized daughter." It was blunt but he had the feeling that she would appreciate blunt more than something sugarcoated. "I doubt you had time for your own grief. But you're pulling through, you keep fighting. For her. He would be proud of you." If that man had loved his wife and his daughter, he would be proud of her now, there was no other way.

"Thank you," she said, her voice hoarse.

Derek started the car again and eased it back on the road. He doubted that Abby would have a break-down right next to him but he wanted her to know that it was okay if she let her emotions out for a little while.

Derek turned on the radio and pretended that he didn't hear the quiet sobs coming from the passenger seat. At some point, the sobbing stopped and he was pretty sure that Abby had drifted off to sleep again.

It was only four in the afternoon when he started to look for a place for the night. Mainly for Abby's benefit, she would get more rest in an actual bed, but he had been behind the wheel for hours and he wouldn't say no to a break either.

When he saw a vacancy sign, Derek pulled into the parking lot of a motel. He got out of the car without waking Abby but when he came back with keys to two rooms, she was awake and standing next to the car. With one hand she was massaging her neck and with the other, she was bracing herself on the car. She had slept most of the day but it was more than obvious that the hours in the car hadn't done her any favors.

"Got us rooms," Derek informed her and handed her her key. "How about we freshen up and then an early dinner?"

She made a face at that but they hadn't eaten more than a sandwich and some snacks over the day and at least Derek was hungry.

"We can order in," Derek hurried to add. The last thing he wanted was for her to pass out in a diner.

"Sounds good," she agreed. "My room in half an hour?"

They separated to settle in. And to call their loved ones, or in Abby's case, to text her loved one.

"We just got a room for the night," Derek informed Stiles. He was lying stretched out on the bed, after sitting for so long it felt good to get into a horizontal position. Maybe he should go for a walk after dinner.

"How's she holding up?" Stiles asked.

"Slept most of the day." Derek let out a sigh. "I don't think she should be out of bed this soon."

"She wants to get back to Haley."

Derek got that, that was the reason he was here, but seeing her sleeping in the car with her neck in an angle that hurt him from just looking at it, didn't feel right.

"How was your day with Haley?" It was Saturday so school hadn't even been a question.

"We practiced with the whistle some more. She's getting pretty good with it."

They talked for a while longer but Derek had to go over to Abby's room and Stiles said that he had the feeling that he should check on Haley, she was suspiciously quiet.

"As long as she doesn't mess with my darkroom." Derek only half-joked with that statement. He had told Stiles that Rick wasn't anywhere near New York but Stiles hadn't felt like moving back to this own place.

"Besides, your bed smells more like you," Stiles said and even over the phone, Derek heard the smile in his voice.

"I sleep in your bed just as often," Derek reminded him but he got what Stiles meant. Sleeping alone didn't sit right with him either and he was not looking forward to the night.

"Call me when you're ready for bed," Stiles told him. His voice had dropped and Derek knew that he was not talking about just a good night call. Stiles' voice alone went right to Derek's core and he felt anticipation pooling warm in his belly.

"Should I do something in preparation?"

"Take a shower and go to bed naked." Stiles had lowered his voice to a low whisper, most likely because he didn't want Haley to hear what he was saying here but it had the side effect to send shivers down Derek's spine.

"Green," Derek said, fingers hooked under his collar. He had no idea what Stiles had in mind but he felt his cock twitching at the thought of all the possibilities alone. They hadn't done phone sex often but he had no doubt that Stiles would make it good. Derek would have loved to jump in right now but Abby was waiting and Stiles had to look after Haley so they ended the call.

Abby's room was right next to Derek's and she had left the door open so she didn't have to get up when he knocked. He found her sitting at the small table with her phone, already checking the delivering services around here.

They agreed on Chinese and while they waited for their food to arrive Abby told him that Haley couldn't wait for him to come back, she wanted to take pictures.

"That's totally your own fault," she teased when Derek groaned. "You brought his onto yourself."

"I know." But he said it with a smile. He didn't mind having Haley around and their short trip into the darkroom had been fun. And if he was honest, he was looking forward to teaching her how to use the camera.

"You and Stiles," Abby filled the following silence. "How did you meet?"

"Why?" Derek hadn't expected that question.

"Just curious." Abby shrugged. "I met Marvin at a party, he was a friend of a friend. Somehow we ended up alone, our friends had abandoned us, and then we were just standing awkwardly together. I didn't know what to say but I couldn't just turn and leave either. I think it was the same for him. So we stood there, awkwardly smiling at each other. It was the worst." She laughed at that memory. "And then a song played, I don't even remember which one, but I liked it at the time and I mentioned it. I was just desperate to say something. And he latched on to that. We talked about music the whole night." She finished with a wistful smile.

"I met Stiles online," Derek said. "On a dating site."

"Don't tell me you're Tinder matches." Abby recovered quickly from her melancholic mood.

"Something like that."

Their dinner arrived and over that Derek told her how they had met on a site matching doms with subs but had talked more about X-Men than anything else.

 

Chapter Text

Abby hadn't known such websites even existed but it was interesting to hear how Derek and Stiles had started out.

"He didn't tell me about the chair until we finally set up our first date," Derek told her with a fond smile on his lips.

"That must have come as quite a surprise."

"You have no idea," Derek agreed. "But we had talked via text for weeks, I wanted to at least meet him in person. And I was curious how the dom part would play out."

For a second Abby had forgotten about that part of their relationship. It still baffled her that he was admitting so freely to this.

"I have very explicit pictures of my dom on my website," Derek reminded her but Abby got the feeling that he wouldn't be so open about this with just anybody. "But I'm not going to tell you the juicy bits." He pointed his chopsticks at her.

They finished their dinner and talked for a while longer but then Derek got up, ready to leave. Abby might have been dozing off again.

"Sorry." She stifled a yawn.

"Get some rest," Derek told her. "We still have a few miles to cover tomorrow."

Abby glanced at the clock on the nightstand, it was just past seven. Way too early to turn in but at the moment it sounded like a good idea.

"Sorry, I'm bad company at the moment." Abby felt a little bad about it but the headache was back and she just wanted to take one of her painkillers and crawl into bed.

"Don't worry, I can entertain myself." Derek reached for the door. "I think I'm going for a walk, call me if you need anything."

Abby doubted that she would need anything but it was good to know that he was just there. They said goodnight and then Abby was alone in her room. She took a shower, the hot water helped to loosen the cramped muscles in her neck, and then she crawled under the covers and was asleep only minutes later.

She woke up with a start but it took her a moment to figure out what had woken her. A door falling shut. She glanced at her door, just in case, but it had most likely come from Derek's room. The walls were thin around here.

Abby got comfortable again to get back to sleep but now she was wide awake. Over the day she had slept quite a lot, looked like her body was done with resting for now. Still enjoying the warm bed, Abby just lay there. From the other room, she heard footsteps and a minute later the shower started.

The sound of the shower almost lulled her back to sleep but Derek's bed must be right behind this wall because she could actually hear it when he got comfortable over there.

She thought that he would go right to sleep but then she heard his voice. It was too muffled to make out the words but it was clearly him and not the TV talking. And then there was another voice. Was he not alone over there? For an absurd moment, Abby thought that he had found a hook-up for the night but then she realized that it was Stiles he was talking to. For some reason, he must have put him on speaker. She still couldn't make out words but she had no desire to listen in to a private conversation anyway. So she just drew the blanket up again and closed her eyes in the faint hope that their voices would lull her back to sleep.

However, the tone of the conversation changed. They were not actually talking any longer. Just short sentences with pauses in between. And now she heard Derek's bed again.

"Seriously?" Abby asked into the empty room. Once she had identified the noises, it was clear what was happening over there.

Abby knew that she should turn on the TV to tune out the noises coming from the other room or at least she should bang on the wall to let Derek know that he wasn't as quiet as he thought he was but instead Abby just lay there and listened.

She still couldn't make out Stiles' part, at least not the words but it was clear that he was giving orders of some kind. Abby couldn't help but wonder what he was telling Derek to do. From Derek, she heard the noises the bed was making with his movements. A heavy breath here and there.

But then Derek broke into pleas and curses. Abby heard "please" and "fuck" a few times, those were loud and clear but also something that sounded like broken sobs.

Abby knew she shouldn't listen in on them but she couldn't help it. She heard Derek coming apart while Stiles was talking to him in a sharp voice.

Without even noticing Abby slipped a hand between her legs. Through the slip, she felt how wet she was just from listening to what was going on in the other room. She didn't have a visual, she didn't even want to think about what Derek was doing there, but the noises were enough.

Abby ran her finger over her folds, getting the fabric of her slip even wetter. She couldn't remember when she had done this the last time, for sure not in the last months. And doing this now, with a concussion, was probably a bad idea but then Derek moaned and she had to bite her lip to not answer in the same manner.

She didn't fantasize about Derek but she did let the noises in. Through the fabric, she circled her clit and when Derek let out another broken "please", her hips twitched in response. She slipped her hand under the waistband, dipping her fingertips into the wetness. The thought alone that she was doing something she shouldn't made the warmth pool in her belly.

In the other room, Derek came with a broken cry.

Savoring that noise Abby circled her clit more firmly, the little nub now hard and sensitive under her fingers. It didn't take long for her to come as well, her hips bucking when she rode out the waves of her orgasm. Then she was just lying there, hand still between her legs, catching her breath.

Derek was quiet now but she could still hear Stiles. His voice was lower now, barely audible, it was almost a lullaby.

At some point even that ended and then the other room fell quiet. A few minutes later Abby was pretty sure that Derek had fallen asleep.

Eventually, Abby got up to wash her hands and then she turned on the TV to kill some time.

They checked out of the motel in the morning and headed to a diner just a bit down the street for breakfast. Today Abby felt more like herself, the headache not gone but way better and she was more comfortable with showing her face in public. When Derek offered her the seat that was not facing the whole room she took it, though.

"How did you sleep?" Derek when they had their first cup of coffee. He had talked quite a lot yesterday and it was still early, he didn't really seem up for words just yet.

"Fine," Abby answered and busied her hands with adding cream and sugar to her coffee. She couldn't look him in the eye. When he had come out of his room earlier Abby had subtly looked him up and down but he looked just like he always looked. A bit on the rough side, actually, with his scruff and the leather jacket, but in her mind, she still heard the broken pleas from last night.

"You?" She couldn't help but ask.

"Took some pictures last night," Derek told her while he studied the menu. "They have some beautiful places around here."

"Hmm." Abby made. "Slept well? I don't know about you but I want my own bed back."

"Same."

They didn't rush their breakfast but eventually, they were back on the road. They still had quite a ride ahead. Abby texted with Haley to see how she was doing and if she had driven Stiles nuts by now. This should have been a one day deal, two days at most, and now Stiles was babysitting her daughter for days.

"He's good with kids," Derek assured and to make his point, he told her about how Lucy and Justin, his sister's children, just loved him.

"Your family lives in California?"

"Yeah, Stiles' as well," Derek confirmed. He might have mentioned that before.

"My parents live in Wyoming, I don't see them as much as I would like," Abby said. Last time she had seen them at the funeral. However, Derek didn't take the bait and it was quite obvious that family was something he didn't really want to talk about so Abby hurried to change the topic.

They made a few more stops than yesterday but Abby was grateful for every chance she got to stretch her legs and they still arrived in New York in the afternoon.

"Stiles is waiting with dinner at my place," Derek informed her and that was where he was heading. Abby didn't care much about dinner, it was Haley she wanted to see.

"Mommy." Haley flew into her arms the second Abby came through the door. They almost landed on the floor but Abby managed to keep her bearings and then they were just hugging. Distantly she noticed Derek who was squeezing past them but for the moment she just wanted to hold her daughter.

When they finally broke apart, Haley had her first real look at her. Carefully, as if she was afraid to hurt her, she reached for Abby's face. Her fingertips ghosted over the scrapped over skin.

"It's okay," Abby assured her. "It doesn't hurt anymore."

Haley didn't look convinced but didn't push it.

"Dinner's ready." Stiles saved them.

"I'm starving," Abby announced and with her arm around Haley's shoulder, she walked over to the table. Josh was there as well so the table was full.

Of course, Abby had to tell them in detail what had happened but she tried to keep it as emotionless as possible. She was just stating facts. Once or twice a question hit too close to home but each time it was Stiles who caught on and interrupted with another question. How he was doing it she didn't know, maybe she was this easy to read, but she gave him a grateful smile.

"What an asshole," Josh commented when she had finished her story. Haley giggled at that word but she sobered up quickly again.

"Do you think he's coming for you?" Stiles asked. She had made him camp out here just because she had been worried that Rick would come after Haley.

"Honestly? I don't know." Abby pushed her cleared plate away. Next to her Haley did the same just with the difference that her food was barely touched. "But I want to sleep in my bed tonight."

Haley nodded to that. She had spent the last nights on a couch, Abby doubted that she had gotten a good night's sleep either.

After dinner, Stiles offered to drop them off at Abby's place. He and Derek wanted to spend the night at Stiles' and judging by the face Josh was making, sleep wasn't the first thing on their mind.

"At least I'll have this place for myself again," Josh said with a satisfied nod.

"We're leaving Jack and Ginger with you," Stiles informed him to which Josh groaned.

"You're worse than teenagers. Two nights." Josh held up two fingers. "You have been separated for two nights and you're acting as if it's been two years. Other people can go weeks without some." His voice trailed off at the end and he was giving Haley an unsure glance. Lucky him, she didn't ask what he was talking about.

Abby could tell him that they hadn't gone without for two nights but since she also wasn't willing to deal with the questions that would raise, she didn't mention it. Besides, it was none of her business what Derek and Stiles were doing.

Stiles dropped them off at Abby's place and Derek promised to pick her up in the morning. He needed to bring back the rental and she needed to get her car from the airport. Plus, tomorrow was Monday, she should show up at work at some point.

Entering her own apartment felt strange but good at the same time. It was already getting late so she shooed Haley to get ready for bed.

"Did you have fun with Stiles?" Abby was sitting on the edge of Haley's bed.

Haley nodded. She had shown her the pictures she had drawn and the photo she had developed and between that and playing MarioKart with Stiles, Stiles had even managed to get her to do all her homework.

She kissed Haley good night and then she tiptoed out of the room. It was too early for her to turn in as well so she sat down on the couch and just let the feeling of being home sink in.

 

Chapter Text

Derek kicked off his shoes and then he padded on socks farther into Stiles' apartment.

"It's so quiet," Stiles observed. He was first at the couch and heaved himself out of his chair. With a sigh, he sank into the cushions.

"Haley isn't even talking," Derek reminded him. Stiles had had Haley, Jack, and Ginger with the occasional Josh constantly around for days and that not even in his own place. So yeah, Derek got what he meant.

"How was traveling with Abby?" Stiles asked when Derek sat down as well. Derek put Stiles' feet in his lap and gently started to massage his feet and calves. Like suspected the muscles were just knotted strands and Derek wondered how close to a bad day they were. Maybe a hot bath was a good idea, just in case, but for now, they were too comfy on the couch.

"Good," Derek answered, focus on the arch of Stiles' right foot. "The concussion made her a bit emotional."

Stiles didn't ask what they had been talking about and Derek didn't tell him, that stuff was private.

They sat like this for a while, Derek gently straightening out Stiles' legs while Stiles told him about his day with Haley. They had fun but it was clear that the last few days had been stressful for Stiles.

"What do you want to do with the evening?" Derek asked when he was satisfied with Stiles' legs. To keep them warm he draped a blanket over them.

"Not sure," Stiles admitted. They had left the pets with Josh so they had all options open but at the moment it looked more like a quiet evening in front of the TV than anything else. "Come here."

Stiles urged him to stretch out on top of him until Derek's head was resting on his chest, he had Stiles' heart-beat strongly in his ear, and their hips were slotted together nicely with Stiles' legs framing his. Stiles' hand found its way into Derek's hair and Derek closed his eyes with a content sigh. This was good. He might even fall asleep like this.

"I liked what we did last night," Stiles broke the silence but he kept his voice low. It added more to the quiet moment than it was disturbing it. "I liked the noises you were making. I couldn't see you but I didn't have to."

"I liked it too," Derek said into Stiles' chest. "But I like it better when you're with me."

"Can't argue with that," Stiles agreed while his fingers never stopped playing with his hair. He fell quiet for a moment, thinking. "We don't have to do anything ...," he started to which Derek perked up, there was clearly a but coming. "... but I kind of want to do something."

"That's not very helpful." Derek lifted his head just enough to look at him. "We can just stay like this, maybe turn on the TV." He didn't really feel like moving.

"We can do that." Stiles nodded. He shifted a bit to get more comfortable and somehow over that his free hand landed on Derek's butt.

Derek gave him another look but then he just let his head drop back to Stiles' chest. If Stiles wanted to grope his ass while they were lying here, he was the last to complain.

For a moment Stiles was fondling him through the jeans but then he slipped his hand into the back of his jeans and boxers, his hand now directly on Derek's skin.

"What are you doing?" Derek asked when Stiles grabbed his cheek.

"Playing with what's mine," Stiles answered. His left hand had stopped moving, it was now on his neck and gently but firmly holding Derek in place. Not that he had any intention to get up anytime soon. With his right hand, Stiles was still kneading his butt cheek. Not hard enough to hurt, quite the opposite, but it did have something possessive to it.

Then Stiles' middle finger slipped into the cleft, gently rubbing up and down without going too deep.

Derek made a content noise. He had no idea where Stiles was heading with this but so far it felt nice.

"You like that?" Stiles asked and dipped his finger deeper to brush over Derek's entrance.

"Hmm," Derek confirmed. He spread his legs wider to give Stiles more access but there wasn't much room with Stiles' legs bracketing his.

"Just lie there and enjoy," Stiles told him. "You don't have to do anything."

That he could do. He let out a breath and let his body relax more into Stiles.

Stiles didn't seem to be in a hurry. He switched back to working on the globes of Derek's butt, kneading the muscles and raking his fingers over his skin. Derek felt his cock filling where it was nestled in the crease of Stiles' hip but there were still two layers of denim too many between them so he just registered what was happening down there and otherwise he was enjoying Stiles' hand on his ass.

Stiles went back to running a finger up and down his cleft with the occasional brush over Derek's hole before he finally turned his attention to the center. With a dry tip of a finger, he circled his entrance, tapped and probed it without actually breaching the ring of muscles. It made Derek tingly all over, his cock now hard in his pants, but Stiles still didn't seem to want to take this anywhere. He just kept playing with his butt every way he pleased but all soft and gentle. Derek could almost fall asleep like this.

Suddenly Stiles stopped with the pad of a finger firmly pressed against his entrance.

"Open your mouth." His other hand had left Derek's neck so that he could actually turn his head enough to follow the order. Stiles traced along the inside of his lips before he brushed with his thumb over his tongue.

"How many do you want?" Stiles asked.

Spit wasn't good lube and it didn't look as if Stiles wanted to grant him anything else. Derek shifted enough to look him in the eye.

"Three."

"You better get them wet real good, then." Stiles put three fingers in his mouth and immediately Derek ran his tongue over them to get them as slick as possible.

"Get your pants down."

Lying on his stomach with three of Stiles' fingers in his mouth and Stiles' other hand still firmly on his butt, it was a bit of a struggle but he managed to push his jeans and boxers down. The denim of Stiles' jeans felt rough against his heated flesh and Derek bucked his hips to get some friction.

"None of that." Stiles slapped his ass and out of surprise Derek almost bit the fingers still in his mouth. "Spread your ass for me."

Blindly Derek reached behind himself and did as he was told.

"Very good." With a wet plop, Stiles withdrew his fingers and placed them right at his entrance. "Hope you like a good roast."

Usually, with proper lube, Derek took three fingers easily. He didn't really need prep for that but when Stiles shoved his fingers in now, Derek bit back a groan and he had to force his body to stay relaxed. He spread his cheeks wider to ease the way but that didn't really help.

"Feel the burn?" Stiles asked when he slowly moved his fingers in and out. Derek nodded into his chest. "So eager for me, taking three fingers just like that."

Stiles kept fucking him with his fingers but saliva tended to dry quickly and after a minute or so he was basically dry fucking him. Derek whimpered into his chest.

"That should do it." Stiles took his fingers out to which Derek breathed in relief. "You have one minute to get me nice and wet, then you're going to ride me."

The change in pace took Derek by surprise but he hurried to scoot down and to get Stiles out of his jeans. Derek didn't waste time and dove in the second Stiles' cock was out, he knew that Stiles wasn't joking about the minute. He would make Derek ride him dry if he wasted too much time.

Sure enough, the "time's up" came way too soon and Derek hurried to get in position.

"Go slow," Stiles told him when Derek sank down on Stiles' spit-slick shaft inch by inch. "Fuck yourself nice and slow."

It was the same problem as with the fingers before, spit dried to quickly and it didn't take long and it felt as if he was taking Stiles dry. At least Stiles showed a little bit of mercy and added some of his own saliva to ease the way again. It helped but not much.

"You like it when it burns?" Stiles asked, hands on his hips to force him into a slow rhythm.

"Yes." Derek breathed out. His own cock was slowly bobbing up and down between his legs, leaking precome but so far Stiles' hadn't paid any attention to it. Derek wasn't sure if he would let him come at all today.

"Make me come," Stiles demanded. His breath was coming in short puffs and Derek could tell that he was close. Clenching his muscles on the downstroke Derek added some extra friction and that was enough to bring Stiles over the edge. He went rigid under him and Derek felt his cock pulsing deep inside him.

"That was good," Stiles mumbled. He still had his hands on Derek's hips, holding him in place with Stiles cock still balls-deep up his ass. They stayed like this for a moment but then Stiles seemed to notice Derek's hard cock basically right in his face.

"Hmm." He made a considering noise and with a tip of a finger, he trailed along the underside from root to tip.

"Please," Derek pleaded. His erection twitched under Stiles' attention.

"Do you want me to make you come?" Stiles asked innocently, his fingertip still torturing his cock with feather-light touches.

"Yes." Derek licked his lips and had do bury his nails in his own thighs to keep himself from doing it himself. "Please."

In the end, Stiles did take mercy on him and closed his hand around his shaft. It only took a few lazy strokes to bring Derek over the edge.

"There you go." Stiles wiped his hand on Derek's hip.

Stiles sent him off to clean up and when he came back Stiles urged him back into the same position as before, lying on top of Stiles with their legs slotted together and his head resting on Stiles' chest. Stiles draped the blanket over them again and then he turned on the TV. His hand was back to playing with Derek's hair.

"How do you feel?" Stiles asked once they were settled in.

"Good." Derek sighed and snuggled deeper into Stiles. "Sore but good."

He liked the burning feeling and had declined when Stiles had offered some soothing ointment.

He did fall asleep like this and only rose when Stiles decided that it was time for bed. Not really awake Derek padded over to the bedroom and just slipped under the covers. Stiles needed a moment longer but then he was spooning him from behind.

"Missed this," Derek mumbled to which Stiles laughed quietly.

"It has only been two nights."

"Two too many." Derek took Stiles' hand in his and placed it over his heart. If Stiles had something to say to that, he missed it.

His alarm went off way too early but Derek had promised Abby to sort out the cars with her. Stiles was still sleeping and he didn't even stir when Derek rummaged through his closet to find something to wear.

Since neither of them had a regular nine to five job they had gotten used to sleeping in. Stiles had been known to pull all-nighters quite regularly, which had caused a bad day way too often, but with Derek, he had gotten used to a more moderate schedule.

Derek shot him a message that he would bring breakfast and left Stiles' phone on the nightstand so that he would actually see it.

He was just in time to wish Haley a good day at school when he arrived at Abby's. With her daughter out of the house, Abby was free to leave as well and since she still had work today, she wanted to leave right away.

Two hours later she dropped him off at Stiles'.

"I still don't know how to thank you," Abby said.

"Find us a bigger place," Derek suggested which got him a warm smile and after a second of consideration a hug as well.

 

Chapter Text

Abby probably shouldn't go back to work yet but she couldn't really afford to stay home any longer. Derek hadn't said anything about her driving but it was not the best idea, they both knew that. However, she had to get to work somehow.

"Oh, you decided to come in," Karen greeted her but when she had a look at her face, she changed her tone. "God, what happened?"

"My brother-in-law," Abby answered and went straight for some coffee. She was not in the mood to talk about it, especially not to Karen. Of course, Karen had other ideas. She followed Abby to the kitchenette under the pretense that she needed fresh coffee as well even if her cup was still half-full.

"Why would he do something like that?" Karen asked and didn't even bother to pretend to fill her cup again. Abby braced herself on the counter, the "What did you do?" was not so subtly hidden in the question.

"Can we not talk about it?" Abby asked, her anger just barely concealed.

"Somebody's touchy." Karen gave her a look but didn't stop her when Abby walked over to her desk.

"This is going to be a long day," Abby said to herself, feeling Karen's eyes on her back. Since she had missed a few days, her desk was full and she was able to dodge Karen by burying herself in work.

By noon her headache was back, the screen in front of her started to swim so Abby took an early lunch with some painkillers and the faint hope that it would get better after a short break. Which it didn't but she just gritted her teeth and pulled through. In the afternoon she had two viewings and that was better than staring at the screen for hours. She even made a contract. But the house was just perfect for her client and her less than perky attitude was not bad enough to dampen her client's mood.

When Abby finally got home that day, her head was ready to split open and she just wanted to crawl into a corner and die. But Haley was home already and Abby had to make dinner. She just opened a can of tomato soup and made some sandwiches but Haley didn't seem to mind. She even finished her soup and ate almost half of her sandwich.

"Did you do your homework?" Abby asked to which Haley nodded. "Take care of the dishes, would you?"

Abby barely made it to the couch where she carefully laid down. From the kitchen, Haley was watching her with big eyes.

"It's okay," Abby assured her and closed her eyes. To block out even more light she put her arm across her eyes as well. "Just a headache."

A moment later, she heard the tell-tale noises that Haley was actually doing the dishes. Abby let out a breath. Just a few minutes, she told herself.

When Abby woke up, the room was dark and she had no idea what time it was. She checked her phone, the screen too bright for her eyes and she had to squint to make out the numbers. Past two in the morning.

"Shit." Abby sat up but then she was sitting hunched over on the edge of the couch, cradling her head. On the table was a glass of water and her painkillers waiting for her.

"Thanks, Honey," Abby said into the dark room. She took a pill and then carefully she got up. She would feel better in the morning if she spent the rest of the night in her bed. But first, she checked on Haley who was sleeping peacefully in her bed. No nightmares today.

Abby kissed her on the forehead and brushed the hair out of her face.

"I love you so much," Abby whispered to which Haley crunched her nose. Abby didn't want to wake her up so she tiptoed out of the room.

In the morning, Abby felt better. Not back to one-hundred percent yet but better. Over breakfast, she told Haley that much who still kept eyeing her as if she expected her to keel over any second.

"Thanks for letting me sleep." She leaned over and ruffled Haley's hair which got her a toothy grin.

Over the week things slowly went back to normal.

On Wednesday, while Haley was walking Jack, Abby showed Derek the studio she had wanted to show him last week and which due to some kind of miracle was still available.

"I hope Stiles isn't getting any ideas about us," Abby joked while she was searching for the right key. She and Derek were getting along really well and even with her concussion, she had gotten to know him over their little trip. One couldn't spend two days in a car with another person without getting to know them.

"But since I'm not a guy …" She gave him a smile and opened the door. With an inviting gesture, she let him go in first.

"Actually, I'm bi," Derek said when he passed her.

Abby just blinked after him.

"Shit," she muttered under her breath but then she had to hurry to catch up with him. Stiles had been the one sending him after her but they had spent quite some time together. Alone.

Derek must have heard her muttering because he stopped and turned to her.

"I love Stiles," Derek said simply. "And he knows it. He trusts me." He thought about it for a moment but then he hooked his fingers under the collar he was wearing. Abby had never seen him without, she would bet money that he was sleeping with it.

"Every relationship should be founded in trust," Derek said, looking her straight in the eye. "Especially the kind I have with Stiles. You are our friend but I don't have romantic feelings for you."

"I wasn't implying …," Abby started but didn't know how to finish the sentence.

"I know."

And maybe he did.

"Okay." Derek clapped his hands, the moment was over. "What can you tell me about this place?"

Glad for the change of topic Abby showed him around. The studio had been used by a photographer before so it should have everything a photographer needed.

"It's bigger than I expected," Derek said when they had finished their round and were standing right where Derek would take the pictures. At the moment it was just a big, empty room that made their voices echo from the walls.

"It has an office and a darkroom," Abby reminded him. Especially the darkroom had come as a surprise to Derek but he was instantly fond of it. From their earlier conversation, where Derek had told her what he was looking for, Abby knew that he basically just wanted a place where he could take his pictures. This was more than he had even thought about but the way he was looking around, he was tempted to just say yes.

"You said this won't be on the market for long?" Derek asked.

"To be honest, I'm surprised it's still available."

"Can I sleep over it?"

"Sure but I need an answer soon."

She hadn't expected that he would sign the contract right here and now. But she had it with her, just in case.

They agreed that he would sleep over it and tomorrow he wanted to show it to Stiles. He promised an answer after that.

"You know," Derek said, still thinking. "If I take this we could change the parameters for the other place."

"Sleep over it," Abby told him. "We'll see about that tomorrow."

They had taken Derek's car so he was the one driving them back to Stiles' place. By now Haley was back with Jack as well and she and Stiles were sitting over what looked like another drawing session. Abby still had the feeling that she should pay Stiles for those but every time she brought up money, he changed the topic.

Instead, he was paying Haley for walking Jack. Not much but it made quite a nice allowance for Haley.

"How did it go?" Stiles asked and abandoned his drawing to greet Derek with a kiss. Haley made a disgusted noise so Stiles cupped the back of Derek's head to keep him from straightening up and then he kissed him for real. There might even be tongue involved.

Abby hurried to look somewhere else just to meet her daughter's gaze. They both tried to look disgusted but a second later Haley broke and dissolved in giggles. Abby at least tried to stifle her laughter.

"Enough you two." She finally put her foot down. "There's a child present."

"I know." Stiles let go of Derek who looked more than disheveled, his lips shiny and he was looking at Stiles with hungry eyes. "I did it because of her."

"As long as you don't do more," Abby muttered. But seeing them now she wondered how she could have ever thought that Stiles might get jealous because she spent time with Derek.

Haley made kissing noises but then she went back to her drawing.

"What are you drawing?" Abby stepped closer just to not have to look at the lovebirds any longer. Haley showed her what she was working on. It was a gray-scale landscape. Just different planes and a few rocks here and there.

"That's nice?" It was not what Haley was usually drawing.

"We were talking about value." Stiles came over and with a ninety-degree turn on his back wheels, he took his place at the table again. "Light and shadow. How to create depth with darker and lighter colors." He did sound like a teacher now but to Abby's surprise, Haley was hanging on his lips.

"Derek has a photo I like to use for this lesson but hell if I know where I saved it." Stiles made a pouty face while Haley giggled over the curse word. But as long as he kept it to the rather tame ones, Abby wouldn't tell him to stop.

She'll learn them from the other kids anyway, Marvin's voice bubbled to the surface. Why not let her be the cool kid who teaches the others?

Abby smiled at that memory. She still had stopped her husband from dropping the f-bomb around Haley.

"… you even find anything?" Coming back from that memory Abby only caught the tail end of what Derek was saying.

"I have a system," Stiles shot back but it didn't sound as if they were having a real argument. "Usually, I find everything just fine."

"You lost that picture how often now? Three times?"

"I didn't lose it. At the moment, I just don't know where I saved it," Stiles defended himself with wide gestures.

"Boys." Abby cut in before this could escalate any farther. "I think we should head home now, Haley still has homework to do."

At that Haley made a face but she did start to pack up. Officially she was only here to walk Jack but it had become common for her to bring her whole bag, mainly with her drawing materials but Abby had seen schoolbooks in there as well. If she was just doing her homework here or if she asked Stiles or Derek to help her she didn't know. She probably should ask about that but Haley's grades had improved over the last weeks so whatever they were doing, it couldn't be too wrong. And Stiles was a good teacher, she had to give him that.

They said their goodbyes and then they left. Abby would see them again right the next morning to show Stiles the studio and Haley would see them again on Sunday.

"Did you have fun?" Abby asked to which Haley nodded. She had said a word here and there but mostly she stayed silent.

Give her time. The words from that psychotherapist came to mind.

It has been just a few months, not even half a year, Abby had to remind herself.

Back at her place she sent Haley off to start with her homework.

"Dinner at six," she reminded her and hoped that by then the bulk of the homework would be done.

Abby turned on the radio and humming along she started with chopping vegetables. The onions made her eyes water and she had to look up and take a few deep breaths to compose herself.

When Abby looked out of the window she saw somebody standing on the other side of the street, facing her direction. Her eyes were still watering and she had to wipe away the tears with the back of her hand and when she looked again, the man was walking down the street, his back turned to her.

For a second she had thought it was Rick. She hadn't been able to make out the man's face but he had the same build.

"You're getting paranoid," Abby said to herself but couldn't shake off the uneasy feeling.

 

Chapter Text

After Abby and Haley had left, Stiles gathered the drawing materials and put them aside. Derek had to admit that he did have a system and not only when it came to his files on the computer. Derek would never be able to find anything but Stiles always knew exactly where to find what he needed. Except for that one photo it seemed.

"Put it on Instagram and I'll always know where to look for it," Stiles told him, apparently also still thinking about that.

"I am getting the feeling that you're doing it on purpose." Derek eyed him but Stiles was busy with putting away the pencils.

"It's a good picture, people should see it."

"You're already using it for your classes, people are seeing it," Derek reminded him.

Once the table was cleared Derek sat down next to Stiles. He didn't want to put that picture out there. That Stiles was using it for his class was one thing but he didn't want the whole world to see it. It wasn't even a special one, just a snapshot of the woods back home in Beacon Hills. The one Stiles insisted a wolf would run through if he just watched it long enough. They had kind of bonded over that picture, it was personal.

Sensing that this was no fun any longer, Stiles didn't push. For some reason, he was really good at reading Derek. He might not know the details but he knew enough to know that he had reached Derek's limits.

"Okay, tell me everything about that studio," Stiles changed the topic without making it weird.

"We have an appointment with Abby tomorrow," Derek said. "I want to show it to you but I have to decide quickly."

"That good?"

Derek showed him the pictures he had taken on his phone, of course he had pictures. Stiles took the phone out of his hand and skipped through the series of photos.

"Is this a darkroom?" He asked when he reached the ones of the room with no windows. It had a ventilation system to take care of the fumes and the door didn't let in any light, Derek had tested it.

"Yes," Derek confirmed. Seeing the pictures now gave him a butterfly feeling. If Stiles didn't come up with a very good reason why he shouldn't take it, Derek was pretty sure that he would sign the contract tomorrow.

"And it has an office." He showed Stiles the pictures of that. "That would mean I don't need those two rooms in the apartment."

He did like working alongside Stiles but if he was honest, he got more done when he was alone. That was the reason he mostly worked at his place. With this studio, he would have a place to retreat to if he needed it.

Stiles hmmed to that.

"No darkroom and a smaller office," he pondered. "That should make it easier for Abby to find something for us."

"I said I'll sleep over it and decide tomorrow." Derek took his phone back.

"Sounds like a plan." Stiles tilted his chair back and was now balancing on his back wheels. "How is Abby doing? She looked a bit strained earlier. Is she up for working already?"

"She seemed fine." However, Derek had to admit that he'd thought the same. But taking off a few days didn't seem to be an option for her. Then he remembered something.

"What?" Of course, Stiles had noticed.

"She was worried that you would get jealous. Because we spent so much time together lately," Derek explained. "But since she isn't a guy she hoped it was okay."

Stiles dropped back to all four wheels.

"You should have told her that you're bi," he said with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"I did." Derek couldn't help but smile at that memory, her reaction had been priceless. But then he'd felt sorry for her. That was the reason he had spoken so openly to her. Or maybe Stiles was just rubbing off on him.

"I was the one who set you up to that trip with her," Stiles reminded him. As if Derek could forget that spontaneous trip. Stiles stayed quiet for a moment, thinking.

"Is she, you know …," Stiles started with a gesture at Derek. "Interested? Because man, that would make things weird."

"No." Derek shook his head. He doubted that Abby was ready for a romantic relationship and for sure she didn't want to have one with him. "She was just worried that you might see it that way. Her brother-in-law thinks I'm her new lover."

"Her brother-in-law is an asshole," Stiles said and Derek couldn't agree more.

"I think she just needs some friends," Derek summed it up.

The next morning, Stiles drove them over to the studio where they would meet up with Abby.

Sleeping over it had just cemented the decision to take it. If Stiles didn't have something major to object. Derek hoped not, by now he really wanted this studio. In his mind, he was already setting everything up. He would need some new equipment, though, if he wasn't renting a fully set up studio any longer. He was kind of looking forward to going on a shopping spree.

"Good location," Stiles commented when he parked the car in front of the building.

That had been the first thing Derek had noticed as well. And that there were no stairs leading up to the entrance. Aside from Stiles, he had other clients in wheelchairs.

By the time Stiles had gotten his chair out of the car, Abby had arrived as well. She greeted both of them with a hug.

For a second Derek was worried that Stiles would say something about it, that Derek was his boyfriend or something like that just to tease her but he didn't. So Derek just hugged her back.

"Ready?" She jiggled the keys at Stiles. "You'll love it."

Derek was the one who would rent this for his business but Abby had been doing this long enough to know that the partner always had a say as well and if Stiles didn't like the studio he could and would pick it apart.

Abby stayed back and let Derek show the rooms to Stiles.

Fifteen minutes they were going over the contract.

"This needs celebrating," Stiles said when Derek signed the contract. "And we need to talk about the apartment you're looking for for us. Dinner at my place tonight? Bring Haley."

"Just say yes," Derek told her when she didn't know what to say. "You're too far in already."

"I missed the point where I could run, right?" She shook her head with a little laugh, clearly not believing what was happening here.

"After Haley saw Jack? You never stood a chance." Stiles grinned at her while he was balancing on his back wheels again. He had run circles around the main room earlier, without any furniture it made a good running, or in his case, rolling course.

In the end, Abby agreed to dinner but she insisted to bring the wine.

Derek made the mistake and twittered the good news. And he put some of the pictures of the empty studio on Instagram. Five minutes later Erica sent him a message that this needed celebrating. If they were free tonight? Because she and Lydia were already planning the party.

Not knowing what to answer, Derek read the messages to Stiles.

"It's about time for our friends to meet," was all he had to say to that. "But ask Abby if it's okay."

Since Stiles was driving, it was Derek who had to send Abby the news that this suddenly had become a party. She was most likely still on her way back to the office so Derek didn't expect a quick answer.

Then he wrote Erica that he had already plans with his other friends but he could ask if they were up for more company. A moment later his phone rang.

"When did you get new friends?" She asked the second he accepted the call.

"Jack dragged them in," Stiles yelled. Which was technically right but it did raise more questions than it answered.

"It's the estate agent who got me the studio," Derek answered in a more helpful way. "And her daughter." Which reminded him that he probably should tell them beforehand that Haley wasn't talking. He didn't want them, especially Erica, to pester the girl.

Of course, Erica wanted to know why Haley wasn't talking but Derek didn't answer that. It wasn't his story to tell. Besides, he only knew the basics himself.

"I'll get back to you once I hear from Abby," Derek ended the call.

"Think we're ambushing her too much with this?" Stiles asked. They had reached his place and he shut off the engine.

"I told her that's perfectly fine to say no."

The blue check mark told Derek that Abby had read his message but they were long up in Stiles' apartment, Stiles busy with making lunch and Derek browsing the internet for equipment for his new studio, when she answered.

"She asks if she should bring two bottles of wine," Derek informed Stiles while he was typing a message for Erica.

"Tell her to make it a six pack and that we'll order pizza." Stiles came out of the kitchen with a plate with sandwiches on his knees. "I'm not going to cook for the whole pack."

"They're not wolves." Derek took the plate from him and Stiles turned around to get them something to drink.

"They eat like wolves."

He had a point there.

"I still can't believe that I have a studio now." Derek shook his head in disbelief.

It hadn't sunken in yet. The possibilities he had now. He could have photo shootings there. He did like the challenge to work with whatever he had at hand at people's homes, or an outdoor photo shooting like the one tomorrow, but whenever that hadn't been an option he had to rent a studio by the hour. He had used the same studio every time and by now he was familiar with their equipment but it wasn't his and he had to constantly keep the time in mind. With his own studio, things would be different.

"You have a studio now," Stiles confirmed and moved over to sit next to him. He had a curious look at what Derek was looking at on his laptop. "Is that the price for some lights?"

"That's not even high end." Derek took a bite from his sandwich. He didn't need high-end but he didn't want to go too cheap either. And he didn't need everything right now. Some good basics he could work with were enough to start with.

"You sure you can do this?" Stiles asked, picking at his sandwich with his fingers. "Money-wise, I mean?"

They had talked about financials when getting a place together had become a thing they were doing and a studio had come up as a possibility but they hadn't really counted it in.

"Don't worry," Derek assured him. "I can pay the rent for the studio and what we discussed for the apartment."

Money was coming in at the moment. Tomorrow he had that outdoor session, on Saturday he would be at a club in New Bedford to take pictures of a show and the weekend after that he was booked for two whole days to replace the stock photos of an online adult shop with pictures of real models in a real setting. He was supposed to go through their whole fetish gear assortment. It wasn't what he was usually doing but he was looking forward to it. And the money was good.

"Besides, a smaller apartment means it's going to be less than what we had in mind," Derek reminded him.

"Yeah but …" Stiles gestured at the screen.

"I still have what my parents sent me for college," Derek said. He hadn't really touched that money. During college, he had been so afraid that his parents would suddenly stop with sending money that he'd kept it as a last resort and had brought himself through college by earning his own money. He even had cut back on essentials from time to time because he had been too afraid to touch that money.

After college, nothing had come up where he'd needed more money than he was making even while he was working his retail job. He had used a bit for a new camera but that had been it. He'd never needed much.

"It's just lying around." Derek shrugged. "Why not use it for this? Besides, it's an investment in the future, it's supposed to pay off eventually."

Stiles took a bite from his sandwich but then a grin spread on his face.

"Can you imagine your mom's face when she hears that you're using your college money for camera equipment?"

 

Chapter Text

Abby drove back to the office with a signed contract in her pocket. It did feel good. And she was looking forward to dinner with Stiles and Derek later. She didn't know when it had become normal to have dinner with them but that felt good too. She had missed that. Having friends.

Before she got out of the car at the office, Abby got her phone to tell Haley that they had an invitation for dinner. How casually Stiles added her daughter to things like this was another thing Abby would have never expected.

However, she had a message from Derek.

For a long moment, Abby sat in the car, not sure how to respond to Derek's message.

If it was okay if more people joined their dinner.

Abby didn't know if she was up to meet new people. All her friends from before had left. They had moved on with their lives, they didn't have the time or the patience for her grieving. And everybody had an opinion on Haley. Abby really wasn't sure if she was up for a bunch of strangers having one look at Haley and then giving her advice on how to deal with her.

Putting off an answer, Abby went into the office and made herself a cup of coffee.

"One of your clients wants you to call him back." Karen came over. "I put a note on your desk."

"Thanks." Abby took a sip of her coffee but in her pocket, she was fingering her phone. She still had no idea on how to respond.

"How was the viewing?" Karen asked innocently but she knew who Abby had shown the studio to, Abby had no illusions that she was fishing for information about Stiles and Derek.

"Got a contract," Abby said with a triumphant smile.

"I don't want to know what kind of pictures he's going to take there." Karen shuddered dramatically. "And you're still looking for a place to live for them?"

"Yes," Abby confirmed. "I'm going to meet with them after work today to discuss that. With the studio, Derek won't need a darkroom at the apartment any longer."

Karen made a face at the word darkroom but Abby doubted that she knew any other meaning for that word. Abby hadn't dug deep but after seeing Derek's photos and how open he admitted that the pictures of Stiles were their reality and not something staged for provocation, she had done a little research beyond what Derek had on his website. She was leaving her daughter with them after all.

Abby couldn't say she understood how someone could want this, especially when she saw Derek, he didn't look like he was into … that. But he was wearing his collar almost with pride.

However, when Abby returned to her desk, she realized that she had already made the decision. Whoever these people were Derek had invited for dinner today, they were friends with a man in a wheelchair who was openly in a BDSM relationship with another man if they weren't open-minded enough for a mute girl, Abby didn't know who was.

So she asked Derek if she should make that two bottles of wine who promptly changed it to a six-pack. Apparently, dinner plans had changed to beer and pizza. Abby could live with that. She had kind of feared that this would turn into a stiff dinner.

Later in the afternoon, Abby drove them over to Stiles'. They wanted to talk about what would change about the apartment they were looking for before their friends arrived.

"Sorry for ambushing you like this," Stiles greeted them when he opened the door. "I hope it's okay, our friends can be persistent."

Abby assured him that it was fine, by now she was actually curious what their friends were like.

They found Josh and Derek in the living room. Josh with Ginger in his lap. The cat blinked open an eye at the newcomers but didn't move so Josh just waved them hello and didn't move either. He made a point of making a face but he wasn't fooling anyone, he loved having the cat in his lap.

Haley was already with Jack on the floor which left Stiles and Derek free to talk business with Abby before the others arrived.

There wasn't that much they needed to change, one room less due to Derek having a darkroom at the studio. And since he had an office there as well, a small office for Stiles would be enough. He would be okay with a corner in the bedroom or maybe in the living room if there was enough space but Stiles would prefer a separate room to work in.

"Get him a real office," Josh shouted over to them. "He tends to leave his stuff all over."

"Says the right one," Stiles shot back. "At least I'm not hogging Derek's couch table all the time."

It did sound good-natured, though.

"And a big room for Josh," Abby said aloud while she noted it down. So far her notes only said that they needed a room for Josh as well.

"Somebody understands me," Josh grinned at her. "And I would appreciate it if my room isn't right next to theirs. You know, because of the …" He made an awkward gesture but then his eyes shot over to Haley to see if she was following the conversation. But she seemed busy with rubbing Jack's belly.

For a second Abby wondered what Josh thought about his cousin's activities in bed but she hurried to shake off that thought. She didn't want to think about what other people did in the bedroom. So far she hadn't seen more than a kiss and Haley hadn't been exposed to anything either, the rest was none of her business.

When they were done, Abby looked over her notes to see if she had gotten everything right.

"I have to check but I think I've already something to show you." In her mind, she went through her catalog. There was one apartment she was pretty sure would fit their needs but one or two others were coming to mind as well.

"Just give us a call, we're mostly free over the week," Derek said. "Just not on the weekend."

"Don't worry, I don't work at the weekend," Abby assured them. "And I don't want to hog your free time more than I already do on Sundays." She glanced over to Haley and Jack. By now Haley was lying on her stomach with the dog next to her and they both were intensely looking at the phone in her hand. If she didn't know better Abby would have said that Haley had one of her written conversations with the dog. Maybe she was actually talking to him, not that Jack cared either way.

"We do work weekends." Stiles pulled her out of her thoughts. "Freelancing you don't really have a weekend."

With Stiles' comic and the commission work he had told her about she could see it, it made sense that he worked whenever he had the time but with Derek …

"Do people prefer photo shootings on the weekend?" She wondered.

"Those I usually do over the week," Derek said. "But on Saturday, for example, I'm going to take pictures of a show in a club." He looked over to Haley which was enough to tell Abby that he was not talking about an ordinary club.

"Don't ask him what he's going to photograph the weekend after that," Stiles piped up, daring her to ask.

They were saved by the doorbell.

"Pack up the work stuff, now it's party time," Stiles shouted over his shoulder while he was already halfway to the door.

Of course, Jack was at the door first and like usual he only let the newcomers in after they had greeted him properly. Since Jack was gone, Haley came over to Abby, suddenly shy to meet new people. Abby put an arm around her shoulders and drew her close.

Then a couple came in that reminded Abby of herself and Marvin. There was a ping of jealousy in her chest but when Derek introduced them, she managed a genuine smile.

"Nice to meet you," Boyd said with an open smile while his girlfriend was looking her up and down. Abby felt Haley hiding more behind her under that gaze.

"Erica, don't bother our friends." Stiles joined them.

"I'm not doing anything," she defended herself without taking her eyes off Abby.

"Don't mind her," Boyd said and put his arm around her middle which he used to guide her over to the couch. They sat down next to Josh which Ginger used to switch laps. Scratching the cat's chin, Erica gave Abby another feral grin.

Great, now she looks like a supervillain, Abby thought, not sure what to make out of her.

"Hello, Abby," a new voice said. Abby's eyes snapped to the petite redhead who must have been hidden behind Boyd's broad back until now.

"Hello …" Abby let the woman give her a friendly hug while her mind was racing. The face was familiar but for the life of her, she couldn't tell where she had met this woman before.

"Lydia." She helped her out. "You helped me finding a new place a while back. I'm the reason you have to put up with these two." She gestured between Derek and Stiles. "Told you she's the best." The last bit was addressed at Derek.

"You didn't." Derek threw her a glare. "You just gave me a phone number."

Lydia raised an eyebrow at him, not even bothering with telling him that that was basically the same thing. Abby couldn't help a smile. Now she did remember her. Lydia had been one of the first clients she had taken on after the funeral. Most of that time had been just an endless blur but Abby did remember Lydia. She had known what she wanted and hadn't taken any bullshit. After too many people treating her as if she would break any second, Abby had found it refreshing how straight to the point Lydia had been.

"I ended up with her co-worker." Derek's face darkened and he glared at Lydia from under thick eyebrows. "She picked a place with stairs for us."

Abby had no doubt that Derek had quite a few things he had to say about Karen, she hadn't thought that this would be the first thing coming to mind. On the other hand, seeing him and Stiles together, it hardly came as a surprise.

"Hope you accidentally bumped into her shins a few times," Erica spoke up with a pointed look at Stiles' footrests. He did tend to bump into door frames with those by accident quite often, Abby had noticed.

"Didn't get the chance," Stiles said. "Her co-worker dumped us on Abby here and she was dying a million times already when she showed us that place."

"It wasn't that bad." Abby tried to play it down. With one hand she tucked Haley closer in and with her other, she was nervously playing with her hair. Being the center of attention like this was exactly why she had hesitated to agree to this. At least so far nobody had bothered Haley.

"You should have seen the look on your face when you saw the stairs," Stiles teased.

That got her quite some sympathetic looks but it gave them an opening to break the ice. With wide gestures and loud words, Stiles told them in detail about that disastrous viewing.

At first, Abby was worried that it would put her in a bad light. She didn't know these people and she didn't want them to get the impression that she was bad at her job or like Karen who picked an apartment with stairs for a wheelchair user because he was just lazy and could totally use the stairs if he wanted to. But that was not the way Stiles was telling the story. The blame was clearly on Karen and Abby was just the poor woman who got stuck with the worst viewing ever.

"And when we went back to our cars, we almost kidnapped Haley here by accident." Stiles nodded at Haley who gave him a shy smile. By now they had settled in and were now comfortably launching in the chairs and on the couch. Abby and Haley shared a chair, Haley was basically glued to her side.

Stiles left out how frantically Abby had been looking for Haley and how she had started crying when Haley had said her first words in months. Instead, he focused on little girl meets big dog and how they were now stuck with them.

Lydia, who was sitting the closest to Haley, leaned over and whispered: "Don't mind him, he's a drama queen. He loves you and your mom." She glanced over at Abby and her next words were almost too low for Abby to catch. "She looks happier."

 

Chapter Text

"That went better than expected." After seeing their guests out Stiles transferred over to the couch with a sigh.

"Were you worried?" Derek asked.

"Lydia and Erica can be scary," Stiles reminded him and reached for the box with the leftover pizza. "And Boyd is just intimidating."

"He was the one who was sitting on the floor with a pink feather toy, I have pictures." Pictures Erica had not so secretly asked to get her hands on. Ginger hadn't been that interested in the feather toy but for Haley's sake, Boyd had done his best to engage the cat in the play. It had gotten him some giggles from Haley so there was that.

"Did you notice that the women are ganging up on us?" Stiles changed the topic with a piece of pizza crust between his teeth. He needed his hands to pour himself another coke. Derek wasn't sure if this much caffeine was a good idea, especially at this time of the day, it had gotten late, but after one beer hours ago, Stiles had switched to coke. Derek had done the same just in case Stiles had another kind of celebrating in mind for later.

"They get along well," Derek said with a delay and forced himself to look somewhere else than at the piece of crust between Stiles' lips.

"They exchanged numbers!" The piece fell out of Stiles' mouth with his outrage. Derek just rolled his eyes at him.

"Yeah, yeah." Stiles picked up the piece again and pointed at Derek with it. "Laugh you now. You'll stop laughing when they start having sleepovers and planning world domination between painting their nails and braiding each other's hair."

"They're not teenagers."

"Haley is, they'll use that as an excuse," Stiles promised darkly.

"Maybe you should stop with the sugar and the caffeine for tonight." Derek reached over and pried the glass of coke out of Stiles' hand.

"I was drinking that."

"You're already on a sugar high," Derek told him and held the glass out of reach. "You won't be able to sleep any time soon."

"Who says I want to sleep any time soon?" Still making grabby hands at the glass Stiles leaned over until he was basically climbing Derek in his attempt to get his glass back. It ended with him face-planting in Derek's lap.

From anybody else, Derek would have thought it was intentionally, a way to accidentally get his face in his crotch, but with Stiles, Derek knew it was just clumsiness. The chin to his balls had nothing remotely sexy to it.

Derek gave him an unimpressed look which was lost to the back of Stiles' head.

"If this is your way to start something, you're doing it wrong," Derek told him.

Bracing himself on Derek's thighs Stiles came up again.

"I'm not that easy," he grumbled, still eyeing the glass. Due to some miracle, the coke was still in the glass and not all over the couch.

"You would give me a blow-job for this." Derek raised the glass with a challenging eyebrow.

"I'll give you a blow-job with the coke," Stiles threatened.

"It would just run out of your mouth and then you'll have coke strains on your couch," Derek reminded him but he couldn't help but wonder what the bubbly coke would feel like on his cock.

"Are you doubting my blow-job skills?"

"I'm doubting your understanding of gravity."

"Gimme that." Stiles face darkened with determination and his voice dropped into his dom voice, sending shivers down Derek's spine.

"It's your couch you're ruining." Derek handed the glass over and the second he had his hands free, he was working to get his fly open.

They probably should take the time to get a towel and if Derek didn't want his pants soaking with coke he should take them off completely but Stiles had his mouth on his dick the second Derek had the waistband of his underwear tucked behind his balls. He wasn't even half-hard, his cock too slow to keep up with the turn of events, but Stiles was working on that.

Derek had to save the glass of coke again before Stiles could spill it by accident.

"I thought we might celebrate tonight but this is ridiculous," Derek said but managed to set the glass on the table without spilling more than a few drops. Stiles didn't answer, he had taken him as deep as he could and was now sucking him to hardness in earnest. Derek just dropped back, head resting on the back of the couch, and let him do whatever he wanted to do down there. Chances were good that by the time Derek was hard and ready, Stiles had forgotten about the coke experiment. Most likely for the better. Derek closed his eyes and just enjoyed Stiles' mouth on him. He did have a skilled tongue, there was no arguing about that.

Eventually, Stiles did come back up and let go of him with a wet plop. He blew a cool breath over his wet shaft, making Derek shiver.

"Ready for a little experiment?" He asked and once again reached for the glass.

"I really don't think this is a good idea." Derek put up a token protest. He knew that there was no stopping Stiles now and if he was honest, he really wanted to find out if those bubbles really felt as amazing on his dick as he imagined.

Stiles didn't even answer and took a sip of coke instead.

Like expected most of it ran down Derek's length and over his balls, a weird mixture of cool and tingly but not unpleasant at least not until it pooled in his crack. But Stiles managed to keep some of it in his mouth and when he bobbed up and down his shaft with hollowed cheeks, it did add an interesting layer.

Derek closed his eyes and leaned back again while Stiles took another sip.

Derek did come deep in Stiles' mouth eventually but it was more despite the coke than because of it if he was honest. He was sitting in a puddle of coke and saliva, feeling sticky all over.

"There you go." Stiles came up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. There were the usual traces of come mixed with his own spit but the whole lower half of his face looked sticky. He even had a few of Derek's hairs stuck to his face.

"Not good?" Stiles asked and scooted closer to sit shoulder to shoulder with him.

"It was better in my head." Derek just let his head fall back to look at the ceiling. He felt the couch sticking to his ass.

"Yeah," Stiles made.

"I need a shower."

"It was a nice little experiment, we gained some valuable experience but let's not do it again." Stiles nodded to himself.

"Shut up." With that Derek unstuck his ass from the couch and waddled over to the bathroom.

The next day Derek had the outdoor photo session and he left early to have another look at the location before his models arrived. He'd never done an outdoor session before, Cora's wedding photos didn't count, and he was worried about a million things. The weather was nice and the report said that it should stay that way. Should. In a studio, he would have perfect light no matter if a cloud passed the sun or not but here he just had to hope for the best.

His biggest fear, however, was that the remote area was not remote enough. What if somebody saw them? What if they called the police?

"I need to take exhibitionism off my kink list next time," Derek muttered to himself while he walked the last bit up to the little pond. Stiles insisted on redoing the list every few months and so far Derek had been indifferent about that particular item on the list. But if he was already this nervous, and not in an aroused way, when he wouldn't even be the one almost naked there was no way he would enjoy the thrill of having sex where they could get caught any second.

"Coke blow-jobs and exhibitionism," Derek listed the ones he would cross out. Not that those things had been high on their to-do list anyway. The coke hadn't even been on the list.

Derek had a look around. The place was as peaceful as last time and there was nobody else in sight. So far so good.

To keep his mind busy Derek set up his equipment. He didn't have any props, his clients would bring those, but they had discussed in detail what the pictures would look like and Derek had no problems, picturing them in his mind.

"And I thought we'd be early." A voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

"I wanted to get a feeling for the location," Derek said. They didn't need to know that he had been here before.

The two young women stepped up to him and greeted him with one-armed hugs. Derek had learned quickly that in this line of work things were way more casual than in a normal business relationship. His clients were posing for him almost or sometimes even completely naked and he was portraying them in very private situations. Professionalism was important but it was even more important that he didn't make a big deal out of it.

So he just hugged them back and tried his best to give them a reassuring smile.

"How do you want to do this?" Zoe, the shorter of the two asked. She was more the butch type with short hair and worker's hands while her girlfriend Isabella looked more like a shy librarian. Zoe had been the one who'd done most of the talking and Isabella had let her take the lead when they had discussed everything but in their relationship, their roles were reversed. So much for stereotypes.

"I'd like to start with the ones on the bench." Derek pointed at the tree with the bench, overlooking the pond.

Isabella was already wearing a latex catsuit under casual jeans and t-shirt but she needed a moment to bind Zoe's arms together behind her back with an arm-sleeve. Other than that Zoe was only wearing a collar and latex panties when she knelt down next to the bench where Isabella was already waiting for her.

"Like this?" Isabella asked but it was clear that she didn't feel comfortable under Derek's gaze. At least she was more or less dressed but her catsuit didn't leave anything for imagination. Zoe was even more exposed but she managed to hide her nervousness better.

"Sit up a bit straighter and put your hand on Zoe's shoulder," Derek instructed as if this was just an ordinary photo shooting. "Look into the distance over the pond."

He took a few pictures from different angles and after that, they were visibly more relaxed, their poses more naturally.

They spent about an hour out there and Derek got some nice shots. And they didn't even get disturbed once. After everybody was decently dressed again, Derek showed them a few of the pictures on the display of the camera. It was too small to make out details but it gave a good first impression of the pictures.

"Wow, that's …" Zoe nodded and for once she was lost for words.

"I'll send you the final version sometime next week," Derek promised and started to pack up his equipment.

They parted with another round of brief hugs and when Derek walked back to his car, it was with the good feeling of a job done well.

Back at his place Derek fed Ginger and made himself a coffee before he sat down with his laptop. Stiles wanted to come over later in the afternoon, he should get some work done before that. However, nursing his coffee he found himself browsing the internet for more stuff for his studio. Should he get chairs or a couch for the waiting area?

When his phone rang, he didn't even check the name on the display, it was most likely Stiles anyway.

"When were you going to tell us that you're engaged?"

Derek blinked and needed a moment to realize that it was not Stiles at the other end but Laura. It took him another second to process what she'd just said but by then she was already talking again.

"Why do I have to find out about this in the grocery store?"

"Grocery store?" That really didn't make sense.

"Met Stiles' dad in the store," she explained a bit calmer now. "He asked me if I knew anything about the upcoming wedding. Apparently, Stiles hadn't said anything aside from the fact that you're engaged either."

"Yeah … well, yes. We are engaged." Derek's hand found its way to his collar. There was a reason he hadn't told his family yet.

"C'mon, little brother. I want details. Who proposed? You? Did you buy him a ring?" Laura was way too excited about all this. "Did you go down on one knee? You're a closed romantic of course you did."

"Well, there was kneeling involved." By now Derek was almost desperately clinging to his collar. "But it was Stiles who proposed to me."

 

Chapter Text

Abby had been worried about meeting new people, especially since she had Haley with her, and it didn't get better when one of the new people turned out to be a former client of hers. It did, however, gave them a topic to talk about and that really did help to break the ice.

Lydia still liked her new apartment and she was still thinking that Abby was the best at her job, so there was that.

Erica and Boyd were harder to warm up to. Erica had a bold manner to herself that needed some getting used to but it didn't take long and they all were chatting like old friends. Except for Boyd who seemed to be more the quiet type. But he did throw in dry comments here and there.

Erica and Lydia didn't seem to have anything in common at all. Erica had come in as a friend of Derek and Lydia had been friends with Stiles since forever and they lived in completely different worlds but they got along surprisingly well.

Abby wasn't sure where she would fit in, she was neither a retail worker nor did she have a Ph.D. let alone several but when Erica talked about an annoying customer she had the other day, Abby could compete with clients from hell as well. And when Lydia's incompetent co-worker came up, they were back at Karen. To which Derek made a face but they all had a good laugh when Abby told them what Karen's opinion on the gay, liberal artists was.

"I'm glad, they ended up with you and didn't get stuck with her," Lydia said with a smile playing on her lips.

Abby muttered a thank you and hurried to hide her face behind her bottle of beer. For some reason, she didn't know what to make out of that comment. Back when she had a few viewings with Lydia she had been caught up in her own grief, only working because she had to bring in money for the funeral and Haley's medical bills, but even in her robotic state, she had been looking forward to the appointments she'd had with Lydia. Abby didn't know why but those few viewings had been the only bright moments in a very dark time.

However, since then Abby hadn't even thought about the woman who had lightened her day back then.

"Stiles wouldn't have somebody to walk his dog otherwise," Lydia continued with a wink at Haley who answered with a bright smile. Lydia leaned over to the girl. "I might come back to you, I might need a dog-sitter from time to time."

Turned out that Lydia was living nearby, she was walking her dog in the same park as Stiles, which shouldn't come as a surprise since Abby had been the one who had found that place for her but that had been months ago and even if Abby remembered Lydia, the details were lost in the fog of those early days.

But it looked like she wasn't joking when she said that they should see if Haley and Prada got along.

Abby wasn't sure if it was a good idea. A person who named their dog Prada didn't sound like somebody who even lived in the same world as Abby. On the other hand, Lydia was best friends with Stiles, a comic artist in a wheelchair. They didn't live in the same world either.

"I don't have a dog as an excuse but we should totally go out together sometime," Erica piped up. "We'll put Stiles and Derek on Haley duty and have a girl's day out."

"You can't just ambush her like this," Lydia scolded her but the way she was looking at Abby, considering, almost calculating, she was on board with the idea. "She doesn't know us."

"That's what the going out is for," Erica said with a clear duh at the end. "At least we should exchange numbers."

That was how Abby went home that night with a bunch of new numbers in her phone and the good feeling that she had made some friends. She had only one beer hours ago so she declined Derek's offer to drive them home and drove herself.

"What do you think of them?" Abby asked Haley who was looking out of the window on her side of the car, deep in thoughts. But now she turned her attention to her phone and typed a short message.

Nobody looked funny at me, Abby read when she pulled into her usual parking spot.

"Yeah." That was one of the reasons she had those new numbers in her phone in the first place. "But they're friends with Stiles, of course they won't look funny at somebody who's a bit different." She reached over and ruffled Haley's hair. Haley giggled in delight but then she was typing again.

Boyd isn't talking much either

"I noticed." The man was kind of a gentle giant, at least that was her first impression of him, who didn't talk much but she had never gotten the feeling that he was left out of their conversation. He had followed with interest and had thrown in his two cents here and there. But mainly he had remained silent with his arm around Erica's hip. It had looked domestic. Like something they just did without even noticing. Thinking about that made Abby's heart ache and for a moment she was thinking about Marvin. With him, she had had that feeling too. This warm and comfortable closeness.

"Hurry up," Abby said before her voice could break. "Tomorrow is a school day, you should have been in bed an hour ago."

Grumbling Haley got out of the car and Abby let her take the lead while she took the moment to compose herself. It had been such a nice evening and a minute ago she had been just happy but then the thoughts of Marvin had sneaked up at her. It was weird how the silliest things could bring back the memories.

Shaking her head she followed Haley into the house. But when she turned to make sure to close the door properly, she noticed a man standing on the other side of the street. He was standing a bit down the street but he was looking right at her. At least it felt that way, with the baseball cap drawn deep into his face, it was hard to tell.

"Rick?" Abby asked but more to herself. She would have to yell for him to hear. The man turned and started walking away but Abby hurried to close the door nevertheless.

Haley poked her head around the corner to see what was keeping her but Abby just waved her to get going.

"Brush your teeth and then it's time for bed," she ordered and to her own surprise her voice sounded steady. Haley gave her another look but then she disappeared around the corner and a second later Abby heard the bathroom door.

"Get a grip," Abby told herself once she was sure that Haley was out of earshot. "That was just some guy. Rick isn't even anywhere near New York."

The man had the same build as Rick, that was all. Just like with those random thoughts of Marvin, a little thing like that was enough to spark a memory and after what Rick had done it didn't come as a surprise that she was seeing him in other men. That was all.

Through the window, Abby scanned the street again but the man was gone.

That night, however, she checked the door and the windows twice before she went to bed and she even got up again for a third round. Just to make sure.

Thinking of Rick did remind her that she was still waiting for mail from that lawyer, Mr. Miller. He had promised to send her everything about that heritage thing but so far she had gotten nothing and it had been a while. Not that she needed money that badly but it would be nice to get rid of some of the more pressuring debts. Besides, she would sleep more comfortably once it was all set and done and she didn't have to worry about what Rick might do to get all the money for himself.

And she was back at Rick again. Great. With a groan Abby rolled to her other side, trying to find a comfortable position to drift off to sleep. Which didn't happen. She made a mental note to call the lawyer first thing tomorrow but other than that she just spent the next hour convincing herself that it had not been Rick, watching her from afar. She was pretty sure that he didn't even know where she lived. She had talked with Lisa about moving into a smaller apartment but she hadn't told her the address. The man outside had not been Rick.

She did drift off into an uneasy sleep eventually but it was filled with weird dreams and in the morning she didn't feel rested at all. At least she woke up before her alarm went off so she didn't have to hurry with getting Haley up and ready for school and she was even fifteen minutes early at work.

"Didn't expect you here this early," was Karen's comment on that. Of course, the other woman was already there and probably on her third cup of coffee. Without really acknowledging her, Abby dropped her purse at her desk and made a beeline for the kitchen. She needed coffee.

Karen followed her.

"Not the talking type today?" She asked and took a sip of her coffee. If she still had a full cup, why was she even standing next to the coffee maker? It was way too early to deal with her so Abby just gritted her teeth and fixed herself a cup.

"Didn't sleep well," she finally admitted when Karen just stood in the way, waiting for an answer.

"Maybe you shouldn't go out partying in the middle of the week," Karen said in a disapproving mom voice.

"I didn't party." Abby took a sip of the still too hot coffee but the smell alone helped to get more alert.

"That sounded different yesterday."

Abby didn't know how she did it but Karen must have some kind of radar for this kind of thing. When Abby had answered Derek's message about more people yesterday, she had suddenly been standing right behind her, reading over her shoulder.

"We celebrated Derek's new studio over pizza and a beer. I would hardly call that a party," Abby corrected. "I had Haley with me, we were home before ten." Why she was even bothering with explaining herself to Karen was beyond her.

"You sure it's a good idea to expose your daughter to ..." Karen made a vague gesture that could mean anything and nothing at all.

"To their gayness?" Abby shot back. She had a bad night and Karen wasn't letting her have her coffee in peace, she didn't feel like being nice right now. "Or to Stiles' disability? Or do you mean the part where they are artists?" She was tempted to throw in the fact that two of their friends she had met yesterday were retail workers. Abby had seen Karen in some of the stories Erica had told. The only person Karen would approve of would be Lydia, she realized.

That thought made her smile. Lydia was so much out of Karen's league. Lydia wouldn't even bother with arguing with her, just one glance with one of her perfect eyebrows raised and Karen would crumble before her.

With that comforting picture in her mind, Abby took her cup of coffee with her to her desk. At least Karen was too dumbfounded to follow her immediately.

Before she started her actual work, Abby took out the card Mr. Miller had given her. It felt like a million years ago but it hadn't really been that long. Her face hadn't even completely healed.

Turned out that the documents had been in the mail the day after her visit with Rick at the office. The secretary Abby was speaking to seemed genuinely surprised that she hadn't gotten them yet. But she promised to send out a new copy right away.

"Could you send them as an email as well?" Abby asked.

"Of course, but you have to sign the original I'm sending you."

"Thank you."

Abby ended the call and leaned back in her chair. Things got lost in the mail, it happened. Or the secretary had been lying and the papers hadn't gone out in the first place. But she couldn't help but think of Rick.

"Something wrong?" Karen asked from her place at the desk. She had seemed to be busy with her work but Abby knew that she had been listening.

"I'm waiting for some papers," Abby answered as vaguely as possible. "To sort out that thing with my brother-in-law."

"Rick?" Karen perked up at that.

Abby nodded, surprised that she had bothered to remember the name.

"Such a nice young man."

 

Chapter Text

Derek was not ashamed of his relationship with Stiles, neither about the disability part nor the BDSM part, but talking to his sister about this kind of stuff was still not easy. But when she told him to stop being fucking cryptic, he told her that it had been Stiles proposing to him and that instead of a ring he had had a collar for him. That shut her up.

"He ... what?" She asked after a long moment. Derek could only imagine that she needed that moment to wrap her head around the idea. She was one of the few members of his family who accepted his choice in lifestyle but that didn't mean that she was fully understanding it. So the idea that someone might propose with a collar and that it held more meaning than a ring was rather alien to her.

"But you'll get real rings for the wedding, right?" She asked, not touching the tough questions. Yet.

"We'll have a normal wedding," Derek assured her. "Nobody is going to wear kinky gear, promise."

If he was honest, he hadn't really thought about his wedding but he was picturing something along the lines of Cora's. However, he doubted that they would use the Hale summer house in Beacon Hills for his. He wasn't even sure if his own mother would attend. And if he really wanted her at his wedding. Those were the main reasons they weren't past the engagement state yet. Stiles wasn't pushing, he probably knew that Derek needed time to figure out how to even tell his family about their engagement.

But it looked as if that problem had solved itself thanks to Stiles' dad. Derek wasn't mad at the man, he couldn't have known that Derek hadn't told his family and if he was honest, Derek felt relieved. This way he'd dodged that bullet.

"And you're wearing the ... collar only when you're doing … you know … stuff?" Laura dipped into the more complicated questions.

"I'm wearing it right now," Derek said, his fingers still playing with the slim leather band around his neck. "I only take it off in the shower."

For a second Laura didn't seem to know what to say.

"What are you going to tell Mom?" Derek filled the silence before it could become too awkward.

"What do you want me to tell her?" Laura asked, clearly grateful for the change of topic. "So far she doesn't know anything. I only asked Peter if he knew something. I'm surprised he hasn't contacted you or Stiles by now."

Peter most likely would ask Stiles. For some reason, his uncle had a better connection to Stiles than to him, not that Derek minded. At least one person of his family got along well with Stiles. Derek looked over to the coffee table where Josh's stuff was still waiting for his return. Josh was the exception, he was the only one who fully accepted Derek's choices and just went along with them.

"Guess you can tell her about the engagement," Derek said. He wasn't sure how much he wanted his mother to know. And if he even cared enough to bother. "We haven't really talked about the wedding yet. It's kind of a complicated topic."

"No doubt about that." Laura laughed. "Mom tries to pretend that you don't exist but Peter doesn't miss a chance to bring up your name."

Derek had guessed that much but it still hurt, hearing it said out loud.

"She's still not coming around?" He asked carefully. His fallout with Cora he could live with. They had never been that close to begin with and living on opposite sides of the country helped. But this was his mother they were talking about. She should support him. Not that she had ever been good at that. She was supportive as long as he followed the path she'd laid out for him but if he dared to stray away from that? College had taught him the lesson to not count on her support.

"It's difficult," Laura said vaguely. "You're pictures have stirred up some things. Peter was loving every moment of it but Mom just wanted the ground to open and swallow her whole every time somebody brought up your exhibition. It's dying down, though."

It had been a while. There must have come up more interesting things since then.

"Did she see the second series?" Derek asked just because. He had gotten some attention for that as well and he was still selling copies from both series almost daily. He'd sold the originals the same day he'd published them and he had gotten a nice price for them.

"I don't know. There hasn't been another fit so I doubt it?" Laura said. "But I saw them. Very impressive. They're not that intimidating."

The first series had shown Stiles as a dom, in charge and powerful. The second one had shown another facet of being a dom, caring and loving. Derek was not surprised that she liked that one better.

However, it was a great opening to the news that he had a studio now. They talked about that for a while, Laura seemed genuinely happy that his business was coming along nicely and she promised to point that out to their mother but Derek doubted that it would be enough to change her mind. Most likely she would twist it around until it would sound as if Derek was ruining his life even more with that. There was no way in her mind that he could make a living with his art. He should get a real job, preferable in Beacon Hills where she would have him under her thumb. For his own good, of course. At least that had been her standing when they had spoken about this the last time. Not that he had spoken to her since he'd kicked her out of his place. And his life.

In the end, Derek promised to stay in touch and to let Laura know once he had more details about their wedding and then they ended the call.

For a long moment, Derek just sat there.

"Guess we'll have to actually talk about the wedding," he said to Ginger who had joined him on the couch. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Stiles and he wanted to make it official but he still had no idea on how to deal with his family. He doubted that he would get the fairy tale wedding Cora had gotten.

His phone buzzed with a new message.

Peter asked about our wedding

At least that answered that question. With a sigh Derek typed his answer: Just got off the phone with Laura

So now they know?

Stiles had told his dad and Scott right the next day but Derek hadn't felt ready to deal with his family.

Talk later? Derek shot back.

Okay

He needed to move. It was getting late and he was supposed to have dinner with Stiles in a bit but right now he needed to get out. He grabbed his camera and left his apartment.

He didn't care where he was going as long as he was moving so he just turned left and started walking. He had walked these streets more often than he cared to count so he just let his mind drift and his feet carry him wherever they wanted.

It wasn't that late and there were other people on the street but Derek just put his fists in his pockets and walked straight ahead without looking left or right.

It didn't take long and he reached a less populated area. Some of the houses around here were clearly abandoned but there were enough still in use to not make it look like a ghost town. Derek hadn't been in this area that often so there were still some new things to discover. An abandoned playground for example. It was overgrown with weeds, the swings were broken, the seat of one only hanging from one chain while the other one was completely gone, and the merry-go-round would never go around again.

In the dying light of the late afternoon, it looked almost post-apocalyptic. It reminded him of that scene in Terminator II.

Derek took a few pictures from different angles and he was glad that nobody was around to see him crawling through the grass to get the perfect shot. This was the second time today that he was outside, taking pictures, but at least now he didn't have naked models in front of his camera. This time he looked silly just on his own.

Done with the pictures Derek sat down on the remains of a bench, the legs had given but the massive trunk they had used for the seat was still intact. He stretched out his legs and had another look around. He was sure that by now people were watching him from behind curtains but so far there was nobody in sight. This was a peaceful place but he was an intruder. He didn't belong here and to anybody who saw him, he must be a strange sight. Who took pictures of an abandoned playground?

"Better than of one in use," Derek muttered to himself but couldn't help a smile playing on his lips.

The phone in his pocket buzzed with a new message and only when he saw the time in the display Derek realized that it had been over two hours since he'd texted with Stiles.

Should I be worried? Stiles asked. By now Derek should be at his place for dinner.

Needed to clear my head, Derek wrote back. Give me an hour

I'll see if I can save your dinner before Josh inhales it, Stiles wrote. And then: Can't wait for the pictures

Since he was still here, Derek shot another picture with his phone. By now the light had changed and the soft golden touch had changed to twilight which gave the playground a creepy touch. Derek liked it.

He sent this one to Stiles and then hurried to get his camera out again. The light wouldn't last for long.

With two sets of playground pictures and a calm mind, Derek made his way back to his place. Josh was already back from Stiles' and he was eyeing him curiously when Derek came in.

"Everything okay?" He asked.

"Yeah." Derek made and put the camera on the table. "Laura just blindsided me."

"Uncle Peter caught Stiles off guard as well."

"I doubt he gets caught off guard by anything." Derek snorted. He wasn't in the mood to talk about this so Derek escaped into his bedroom to get his overnight bag. A lot of his stuff was at Stiles' place anyway and vice versa but a fresh change of underwear was a nice thing to have at hand.

"You know," Josh started once Derek was back in the living room. "You can always elope."

That made Derek pause in his tracks.

"You can just jump in the car and drive," Josh said. "Get wed by Elvis in Las Vegas."

"Mom would get a heart-attack."

"I fail to see a downside there." Josh grinned at him. "I would even offer to keep your pets alive while you two are gone. Not that I'm not doing that already anyway."

"Smartass. You can start with Ginger, he didn't have dinner yet," Derek reminded him and then he was out of the door before Josh could say anything to that.

At Stiles' place, Derek let himself in and went in search for his boyfriend. Fiance. He hadn't really thought about Stiles in that context before but he did like the sound of it. Fiance.

He found Stiles on the couch, back propped up with some cushions and his sketch pad on his outstretched legs.

"What are you drawing?" Derek stepped up behind him and just because he could, he bent down for an upside down kiss. Getting the idea Stiles met him half-way with a grin.

But then Derek caught a glimpse at what Stiles had been working on. Choking on his own spit he came up coughing.

"Is that our wedding?" He squinted at the drawing with watering eyes. It was more a caricature than a drawing but it was clear who the two figures in the middle were supposed to be. One was in a wheelchair and the other had thick eyebrows and was scowling at who had to be the priest. So far so good.

However, most of the picture was filled with the giant head of his mother. There was a tiny body attached to it with clenched fists and stomping feet but the attention was on her over-sized head. There was steam coming out of her ears, she had devil horns and her screaming mouth was full with sharp teeth. What the rest of the picture lacked on detail Stiles had put double in this head.

"It's just a doodle," Stiles defended himself while he tried to not so subtly cover the picture of Talia with his hand. The head barely fit under his palm. "I didn't mean to … I'm not saying …"

"Stiles?" Derek said. "Shut up."

Stiles snapped his mouth shut.

"But yeah, I think we have to talk about our wedding," Derek admitted with a sigh. "And my mother."

 

Chapter Text

Rick was here. Here in New York. He had been in the office, he had talked with Karen.

Abby was glad that she was already sitting because she felt like fainting.

"What did he want?" She managed to ask but her voice sounded distant in her own ears.

"He wanted to see you but you were out on your lunch break," Karen said as if it was totally normal that Abby's brother-in-law showed up in the office like that. "He didn't have time to wait until you came back so he asked for your new address."

"My new address?" Abby felt the blood draining from her face. It had been Rick last night. He had been watching her. Had he been watching the office as well? Had he waited until she'd left for her break to get information from Karen?

"He said that he must have misplaced it." Karen shrugged. "You know men, they would misplace their own head if it wasn't attached to their neck." She laughed at her own joke but Abby felt more like throwing up.

"I have a restraining order," Abby said through gritted teeth. "He is not allowed to get near me or Haley."

"Don't be so dramatic." Karen rolled her eyes at her. "It was all a misunderstanding, that's why he wanted to talk to you. I'm surprised he hasn't yet. Maybe you should call him."

"For sure, I'm not going to call him." Abby glared at her. "And slamming me into the hood of a car face first is not a misunderstanding."

"Maybe he pushed you a little bit, you were in a heated argument."

"He didn't just push me a little bit, I had a concussion, I spent the night in a hospital. A friend had to fly in and drive me home because I wasn't allowed to fly or drive." Her voice rose with every word until she was almost screaming at Karen.

"You should talk to him, I'm sure you can work it out," Karen said in a generous tone that made Abby want to strangle her.

"I'm not going to talk to him." Abby stood up and stepped over to Karen's desk. With both hands firmly on the surface, she leaned in to look Karen straight in the eye. "If he shows up again, you tell him to leave. You don't talk to him, you don't give him any information, you just tell him to get the fuck out of here."

Karen gaped at the f-word thrown into her face and for the first time, Abby got the feeling that she was at least starting to grasp the fact that she was not joking.

"I have a restraining order," Abby repeated. "And if he doesn't keep his distance I am going to call the police." She glared at her for a moment longer before she straightened up and went back to her own desk.

"Oh, and by the way. I'm going to report you for giving out private information," Abby told her. "And you can bet your bony ass that I'll mention that you knew that the man you were giving this information to is the man who assaulted me."

"You can't do that."

"Watch me." Abby made a point of placing her hands on the keyboard. As long as her rage was focused on Karen, she didn't think about Rick. Who had been here. Who had been at her place at least once. Did that already count as stalking? Last night she hadn't even been sure if it had been him. He hadn't approached her and if it hadn't been for Karen she wouldn't even know that he had been at the office.

Abby did write that email right away but she was smart enough to save it and to not send it out right away. Reading over it once she'd calmed down sounded like a good idea.

At first, Karen did her best to convince her to not send it out, she had just been trying to help, why couldn't Abby see that? When that didn't work, she tried to threaten her but Abby just laughed when the best she could come up with was to not buy coffee for the office any longer.

In the end, Karen resigned to giving her the cold shoulder which was just fine with Abby. At least that way she could get some actual work done.

There were the apartments she wanted to have a closer look at, there might be one or two that would fit Derek's and Stiles' needs, and she had other clients as well she had to attend to.

However, she couldn't focus. Rick knew where she lived and she was pretty sure that he had been there last night. Maybe even before that.

Was he watching the office right now?

Abby hadn't brought anything for lunch, she had wanted to get something from that place just down the street, but now she spent her break in the office with sugar-loaded coffee and some stale cookies she'd found in the depths of her desk.

Back then, in the parking lot at the lawyer, Rick had threatened to do something to Haley, Abby remembered his words way too clearly. Would he really go that far? It was in the police report that he had made such a threat. If something happened to Haley he would be the first the police would want to have a word with. He couldn't be that stupid, could he?

His attempt to get her to sign the waiver hadn't been smart at all but it looked like he had smartened up since then.

"Do you know where Haley goes to school?" Abby wondered aloud. Most days Haley took the bus, it would be way too easy to get to her there.

Making a decision, Abby reached for her phone. If she juggled a few things around she would be able to pick up Haley today. It wasn't a long term solution but there was no way that she would let Haley take the bus today.

A few calls and one message to Haley later, Abby dared to breathe easier. The weekend was just ahead, maybe she could figure things out then.

For now, Abby read over the email again, touched it up a bit to make it sound more professional than emotional and then she sent it out to the head office. What Karen had done was not okay and Abby needed her to understand that. God knew what she would otherwise tell Rick the next time he showed up here.

Then she had to hurry to pick up Haley from school. She had told her to wait inside and when Abby pulled into the parking lot of the school there were still people around, parents picking up their kids, but so far she hadn't spotted Rick. Which didn't have to mean anything. He might be lurking somewhere or he wasn't even here. But she wasn't taking any chances.

When she entered the building, Abby found Haley waiting for her just inside. The second Haley spotted her, she caught her in a tight hug.

"Hey, sweetie." Abby hugged her back. "Sorry if I scared you."

She hadn't outright said what this was about but Haley was a smart girl, she knew that Abby normally didn't have the time to pick her up. So something must be up.

"I'll have to drop by the principal's office for a sec." With one arm around Haley's shoulder, she walked them back into the building.

Haley typed on her phone.

Why?

"I'll explain once we're home." This was not the kind of conversation she wanted to have in the hall of her daughter's school. She put Haley in a chair outside the office and went in alone.

When they left the school, Abby dared to breathe a little easier. Things like restraining order and possible kidnapping were things the school took seriously. Abby had made it clear that if her daughter got assaulted or kidnapped from the school property she would hold the school reliable and that she would sue the hell out of them. The principal himself had given her his word that Haley could wait inside for Abby to pick her up. After a second of thought, Abby added Stiles and Derek to the list of people who were allowed to pick up her daughter. The big no-no on that list was Rick.

On their way home, Haley was even more quiet than usual, she was just looking out of the window without playing on her phone. For once, Abby was glad for the lack of distraction. Aside from the normal traffic, she kept an eye out for Rick. She didn't know what kind of car he was driving and she had no idea what to look out for in case somebody was following her but she kept an eye on the cars around her nevertheless.

Rick already knew where she was living so it would be rather pointless for him to follow her, though.

Or he was really stalking her and wanted to know if she was going somewhere else. And if she was honest, for a second she was tempted to drive past her place and over to Stiles'. But in the end, she parked her car in the usual spot and if she ushered Haley into the building more urgently than usual, nobody needed to know. Haley gave her a strange look but worked with her.

Inside Abby locked the door and for a second she leaned her back against the comfortable solid door. She felt the tension melting out of her body, at least some of it. They made it home, safe and sound.

"Mommy?" Haley asked, a concerned eye on her.

"How about a hot chocolate and then we talk?" Abby managed to compose herself and even felt a smile forming on her lips.

"With marshmallows?"

"With marshmallows."

Those were more words than she had heard from her daughter in weeks but for once it wasn't enough to brighten her mood.

Abby fixed them their hot chocolates and then they sat down at the kitchen table.

"You remember when I went to see your Uncle Rick and he attacked me?" Abby started. This wasn't a topic she wanted to discuss with her. If anything she wanted to put it as far behind herself as possible and never again think about it, but now Rick was forcing his way back into her life and she needed Haley prepared.

Haley gave her a nod, eyes fixed on the side of Abby's face that had just healed over.

"Because of that I have a restraining order," Abby continued. Absently she rolled her mug between her palms, the warmth of the hot chocolate seeping through the ceramic. It was not enough to reach the block of ice sitting in her stomach. "That means he isn't allowed to come near me. Us. If he does I can call the police and they will force him to leave."

Keeping him from coming back was a whole different thing and she really didn't want to think about that.

Is he coming for us? Haley asked via text message.

"Yes." Abby felt tears welling in her eyes. "He was at the office. I didn't see him but he talked to Karen. She told him where we live."

Bitch

At that message, Abby barked out a raw laugh. Normally she would remind Haley of her language but in this case, the word was more than fitting.

"Yeah, she is." Abby took a sip from her still too hot drink. It burned the tip of her tongue but it gave her a moment to search for the right words. She didn't want to scare Haley but she needed to be prepared. "I think he was here yesterday."

What? When?

"When we came home, I noticed a man on the other side of the street. He reminded me of Rick but I didn't think it could be him." Thinking back Abby shook her head at how stupid she'd been. "But with what Karen told me today, I'm sure it was him."

What are we going to do?

That was the big question. Aside from showing up at the office, when she hadn't even been in, she had nothing to go on with. She couldn't even say with certainty that it had been Rick she had seen last night.

"I just want you to be careful." Abby reached over and put her hand on Haley's forearm. "Wait in school until I pick you up, don't go out alone. If he approaches you, go to a teacher. If Rick says that I sent him to pick you up, he's lying. Haley." Abby ducked her head to lock eyes with her. "Don't go anywhere with him. Kick and bite if you have to but don't let him take you somewhere. No matter what he says, no matter if he threatens you or me, you don't let him take you."

 

Chapter Text

"We could turn it into a mini-vacation," Stiles said over dinner. They had been talking about the job Derek had taken for the weekend, that was the only clue Derek had to follow Stiles' change of topic. Not that it helped him, figuring out what he was talking about.

"We can turn what into what?"

"I just finished my commission, I can take off the weekend." Stiles shrugged and shoveled more rice into his mouth. The commission had kept him busy all day so take-out it was. Derek felt a bit guilty for not offering to cook but cooking was more Stiles' thing.

Besides, he had been packing for his trip tomorrow. He didn't need much, just a change of clothes for the evening and his camera equipment. The club that had booked him to photograph a show was at least a four hours drive away and he wanted to head out right in the morning. The show was in the evening but he didn't want to have to hurry and it would be good to be at the location early to get familiar with it.

"I could come with you. To New Bedford," Stiles finally said, fiddling with his chopsticks. "If you want me around. You're there for work, after all."

With a sigh, Derek put down his chopsticks. Usually, Stiles was confident and sure of himself but in moments like this his insecurity kicked in.

"Why wouldn't I want my fiance around?" Derek asked, testing out the word. Since their wedding had become a thing they would do in the foreseeable future, he liked to use it. It did have the desired effect on Stiles, though. A broad grin spread over his face.

"What's your plan?" Derek prompted. So far his plan had been to drive back the same night. Maybe not his smartest move but he wasn't keen on staying at a hotel just for a few hours. He could crash at home in the morning. However, it looked like Stiles had other plans.

"We head out like you planned, maybe even a bit earlier." Stiles had been thinking about this, it wasn't as spontaneous as he tried to make it sound. Derek didn't call him out on it and just nodded for him to continue. "We can spend the day together and in the evening we go to that club. I love seeing you work. We could stay Sunday and drive back on Monday." He made a vague gesture. "Mini-vacation."

"Sure, why not." Derek didn't have any plans for neither Sunday nor Monday so it wouldn't be a problem. Perks of being a freelancer, he didn't have to show up at work Monday morning. "You should just tell Haley that her date with Jack is canceled."

"We could leave Jack with Josh," Stiles said. "That way we would have the weekend really for ourselves."

It did sound like a good idea. Derek loved Jack but with him around their options were limited. They couldn't take him with them a lot of times but they couldn't leave him alone for too long either. And he needed his walks.

"What exactly is on your mind?" Derek asked. His fingers were playing with the collar around his neck. The show he would photograph tomorrow was of the kinky kind, watching it might give Stiles ideas.

"Oh, I'm sure I can think of something." With a wicked smile, Stiles adjusted the chopsticks in his hand and dug back in.

"I'm not sure if I'm scared or horny," Derek muttered. Stiles just grinned at him.

After dinner, Derek went online to book them a room for the weekend while Stiles started packing. Derek had come here with his things already packed in the car but it looked like they had to switch cars now. The Camaro was big enough for his camera equipment and the overnight bag he'd brought but it was far from being big enough for Stiles' bag and his chair. And they needed to bring Jack over to Josh. Who didn't even know about his job as a dog-sitter yet.

Once the room was booked, Derek sent Josh a message. He probably should have done it the other way around, this was kind of on short notice, but he knew that Josh had two assignments due next week, he doubted his cousin intended to go to a party this weekend. Besides, he was on Ginger duty already. Not that the cat needed as much attention as the dog.

Sure, came Josh's answer just seconds later. Do I want to know what you two are up to?

Stiles wants to come with me on that job, Derek answered. Josh knew what kind of job he was talking about and he had not so subtly asked if he could have a look at the pictures later. He was too young to go to such a club himself so he naturally was curious. And Derek would be the last to judge him for being curious. So far Josh hadn't shown interest in the lifestyle but with Derek's job and his relationship with Stiles he knew the basics.

By the time Derek ended his conversation with Josh, Stiles was done packing. Like Derek he had an overnight bag ready at all times, they really needed a place for them together, and he had only added a few things. He had packed some of Derek's clothes as well to bring him over the weekend. By now he had stuff permanently at Stiles' and vice versa.

"You don't want to take the bag with our toys?" Derek raised an eyebrow at the stuff sitting on the bed which was lacking a very distinctive little bag.

He'd just booked them a room for two nights and with what Stiles had hinted earlier, Derek had expected … he didn't know. Something.

"I'll put the cage on you before we leave tomorrow." Stiles put his arm around Derek's hip. "Don't worry, I have everything I'll need."

Those words sent shivers down Derek's spine. Not knowing what Stiles had in mind added a delicious layer to the anticipation.

"You do know that I have to work somewhere in between," Derek reminded him. "This is a work vacation."

"Only for you." Stiles gave his butt a slap when he let go of him. "I'm just coming along for the fun."

The next morning was rather hectic. They didn't oversleep but before Stiles let him put on any clothes, Stiles took his time to suck him to full hardness until Derek was keening and writhing under him just seconds from shooting his release down Stiles' throat.

"Aren't you a pretty sight." Stiles came up to look at him. Derek blinked at him, his mind still trying to process that Stiles' mouth wasn't on him any longer.

"Please." Derek breathed out. Fisting the sheets to keep his hands away from this aching dick, he bucked his hips in the faint hope that that would get Stiles back on track.

"Hmm," Stiles made and let his finger trail along Derek's shaft from root to tip.

"So desperate," Stiles teased him for a moment longer before he let go of him. "You want to come, don't you?"

"Yes, please." Derek gritted his teeth. He just needed a little more, just one more touch.

"I have a better idea," Stiles said. Derek closed his eyes. "You're going to take a cold shower and then I'm going to lock you in, how does that sound?"

"No." Derek shook his head. "Please. I need …"

"I know exactly what you need." Stiles blew a cold breath over his still wet shaft, making Derek cry in frustration. "You need to cool off and then you need your cage, am I right?"

Derek swallowed thickly.

"Yes."

Derek did take the cold shower and he only dared to touch his dick once his erection had shriveled down under the cold water. When he came back into the bedroom, Stiles was still lying on the bed, lazily fisting his cock. Next to him lay Derek's cage.

"Ask me to lock you up," Stiles ordered with a hungry look at him.

"Please, lock me up." Without hesitation, Derek stepped over to the bed and let Stiles put the cage on him. With that done, Stiles made him lay down on his side so that Stiles could fuck his thighs.

With one hand on Derek's hip, he guided him back and forth, his cock poking Derek's balls and his cage with every thrust but that was more of a reminder that he wouldn't come any time soon than it was actually doing something for him.

Just to drive that point home even more, Stiles licked his own come off Derek's balls once he was done. Then he locked eyes with Derek and took his caged cock into his mouth to clean that as well.

Derek sucked in a breath, that sight made him wish for his camera. Through the small opening at the tip of the cage, Derek felt Stiles' tongue dipping into his slit but that was all he felt.

When they finally left Stiles' apartment, Derek still felt horny and unsatisfied but at least the orgasm Stiles just had should mellow him out. For the first half an hour or so. Derek doubted that they would be able to leave New York before Stiles would start talking a mile a minute again.

They dropped by at Derek's place to hand over Jack to Josh and then they were finally on their way. Only an hour later than planned, Derek counted it as a success.

Not that they made it far, Stiles made him stop at the next store to stock up on snacks for the ride. But then they were on the road for real with Stiles happily munching on some cookies.

They weren't in a hurry but once they were actually driving, they were making good time. For lunch, Derek stopped at a diner to get them some sandwiches and fresh coffee. And getting out of the car to stretch his legs was nice too. Stiles couldn't stretch his legs but Derek knew that switching from the car seat to his chair for a while did the same for him. Besides, they had a rather busy evening ahead and the last thing Derek wanted for Stiles was to have a bad day while they were on their mini-vacation.

After lunch, they switched places and Stiles drove them the rest of the way.

They did arrive in New Bedford in the early afternoon. Derek wanted to be at the club around eight so they had more than enough time to settle into their hotel room and to have a look around the city.

Derek took his camera with him, of course he did, and he got some nice shots. Most of them featured Stiles but he also had an eye for his surroundings. Some of these would end up on Instagram later today and he planned to post a few pictures of the club as well. Nothing explicit, he kept his Instagram kid-friendly and since he knew that Haley was one of his followers, he made double sure that the pictures he posted there were appropriate for her. Maybe a shot of the street front. Just to show that he had a job tonight.

But for now, he focused on Stiles who was currently eyeing a storefront. From this angle, Derek couldn't make out what had caught his eye but the expression on Stiles' face was worth a picture. So Derek took one. Only then he caught up with Stiles to find out what was so interesting. They had been heading in the general direction of the harbor and it looked as if this store had everything related to ships and fishing.

Lots of history stuff, Derek found out after a glance at the things displayed in the window. Models of old ships, history books and nautical antiques of all kind. The centerpiece was the replica of a whale's skull. At least Derek hoped it was a replica.

"No," he said firmly and put his hands on Stiles' handles.

"I didn't even say anything," Stiles protested.

"You were thinking about it." Derek turned the wheelchair and pushed Stiles away from the store. "Where would you even put that thing?"

"I'd find a place," Stiles assured him but did nothing to stop him from wheeling him down the street.

"I doubt we could fit that thing in the car."

"For a little extra they might do delivery." Stiles craned his neck for a last wistful look at the skull but then he resigned with a sigh. "You're no fun."

Derek just gave him a push and let go of the handles. Stiles might get ideas otherwise. Normally he didn't like it if people just pushed him around like this but Derek wasn't people. With him, Stiles might like the idea of him doing all the work.

Stiles glared at him but he put his hands on the steel rings to gain control over his chair again.

"Shouldn't you butter me up?" He asked with a pointed look at Derek's crotch.

He was so used to wearing the cage that it took him a moment to get what Stiles meant.

"I'll buy you a coffee later."

 

Chapter Text

Abby didn't sleep that night. She was lying awake, listening to every sound the house was making. There were a lot of noises. Never before had she listened to what the building at night sounded like. Sure she had noticed when her neighbor from upstairs came home from his shift late at night. He used to drag his feet and the heavy boots made some noise but all in all, the building was quiet at night.

Now she noticed every crack and creak. Water rushing through the pipes and even the soft humming of electricity coming from her TV. In the end, she got up and unplugged the TV. It was the only noise she could do something about.

Since she was up anyway, Abby checked once again if the door and the windows were locked. When she peeked her head in Haley's room to check on the window there, and to make sure that her daughter was still there, she found her lying awake as well.

"Hey, honey." Abby stepped closer and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Can't sleep?"

Haley shook her head.

"I'm sorry if I scared you." Abby stroked her hair. She hadn't wanted to scare her but she had needed to make sure that Haley knew about Rick. "Want to sleep in my bed tonight?"

Haley nodded eagerly and was already scrambling her way out from under the blanket. The next second, Haley was out of the room. Slower Abby followed her.

"Don't hog all the blankets," she yelled ahead which got her a giggle in return.

Haley fell asleep with her head on Abby's shoulder not much later but Abby couldn't sleep. Playing with Haley's hair, she stared into the darkness, not knowing what to do.

She got up early in the morning and made breakfast which neither of them ate. Abby was clinging to her cup of coffee, the toast on her plate almost untouched, and Haley across from her was pushing her waffle around the plate.

Abby had thought that the weekend would help, that they could use it as a breather to figure things out but now the two days were looming over her like a dark cloud. She was already feeling trapped in her own home. When she looked out of the window, she saw people and cars passing by but Rick was nowhere in sight. Which was kind of worse. Not knowing where he was and what he was up to, it drove her crazy.

"We could ask Stiles if he wants to do something this weekend," Abby mused aloud. The thought of being alone the whole weekend scared her. Haley had a standing date with Jack and Stiles on Sundays, maybe they could do something today as well. If she remembered correctly Derek was out of town for a job, Stiles might be bored.

She shouldn't bother Stiles with this but the longer she thought about it, the more she felt the need to share this with somebody. And that somebody couldn't be Haley, she was scared enough as it was.

Haley had to tug at her sleeve to pull her out of her thoughts. Only then Abby noticed the phone she was pushing at her.

Instead of one of her usual messages, Haley was showing her the conversation she was having with Stiles.

"Mini-vacation?" Abby read with a sinking heart. Of course, Stiles would join Derek on his trip the one weekend when Abby didn't want to be alone.

Apparently, Josh was sitting the pets and Haley was more than welcomed to come by on Sunday to walk Jack but that was not the same. Josh was nice and all but he was not the person Abby wanted to talk to about this. If she was honest, Stiles was only second on her short list of people she could bother with this. First was Derek but he was working today and wouldn't be available all weekend.

"Looks like we'll have a mother-daughter day today." Abby forced a smile onto her lips and reached over to give Haley's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Have we even unpacked the board games yet?"

They had unpacked them, the games had been in one of the remaining boxes Abby had been procrastinating to unpack way too long but she had come around to do it eventually. But so far they hadn't played any of them. And it wasn't as if Haley had friends over to play with.

Abby sent Haley to pick a game while she cleared the table and took care of the dishes. She kept glancing out of the window but the only one out there at the moment was the old lady from next door on her daily morning walk. She was slow but determined, taking one step at a time. Abby watched her for a moment.

"One step at a time," Abby told herself. She didn't know where Rick was or what he would do next, if he would do anything at all. For all she knew, he was already home with his wife and she was angsting over nothing. Abby didn't believe that for one second but there was nothing she could do at the moment. The only thing she could do was to wait for Rick's next move, if it ever came, but she wouldn't just cower down because of a maybe.

Mind set, Abby turned her back to the window and then she went to see which game Haley had picked.

She didn't see or hear anything from Rick over the day and for a while, she could pretend that he didn't exist. They played games and watched some movies and Haley even stuffed herself with popcorn and ice cream.

In the evening Abby tucked Haley in who was already half asleep when Abby kissed her forehead. With a smile on her lips, Abby tiptoed out of the room, it had been a good day.

However, now she had nothing to distract herself from her thoughts any longer. Abby checked the door and the windows before she sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. She kept it on low to be able to hear any unusual noises, though.

The lack of sleep caught up with her eventually. When she woke up, the TV was still running and the clock on the wall told her that it was past three in the morning. For a moment she just sat there, debating with herself if moving over to the bed was worth the hassle and in the end, she decided against it. She got comfortable on the couch again and let the noises from the TV lull her back to a light half-sleep. When the hands on the clock moved past four, she deemed it acceptable to have her first morning coffee.

Then she sat there at the kitchen table, still in the clothes she had worn yesterday and in dire need of a shower and a toothbrush but all she could think of was Rick.

A part of her wanted him to show up. To ring her doorbell or to call her on the phone, just something. She could deal with that. But not knowing, it was the worst.

How she would be able to send Haley to school tomorrow she had no clue but she knew that she couldn't hole up in their apartment forever.

At least tomorrow Derek and Stiles would be back, maybe she could talk to them. Not being in this alone, that would be great.

Abby sighed and took a sip of her coffee. Which was way colder than expected. She checked the time only to find out that she had been sitting here for over half an hour without really noticing.

"Get a grip," Abby told herself and downed the lukewarm coffee in one go.

By the time Haley came into the kitchen Abby had showered and had put on some fresh clothes which alone had helped with the dark thoughts.

Can I still walk Jack today? Haley asked. Stiles said I can

Getting out of the house for a while sounded like a good idea but Abby didn't feel comfortable with letting Haley go out alone. Even with a big dog like Jack at her side.

"You know what? Let's walk him together today." Abby half-expected a face for invading Haley's time with Jack but instead, she got a broad grin.

Right on cue Abby's phone buzzed with a new message, Josh was asking if Haley still would come over and he promised to be at Stiles' place for her usual time with Jack.

"See?" Abby showed Haley the message. "It's meant to be."

Haley grinned and put half a waffle into her mouth. If little things like this got her to eat, Abby would take it.

Their date with Jack was in the afternoon and until then Haley retreated into her room to draw for a bit while Abby kept herself busy with re-reading Stiles' comic. He had posted an update before he'd left for his mini-vacation with Derek and right now Abby needed some distraction.

She was at the point where Dylan, the annoying teenager who totally wasn't Stiles, saved Tyler from drowning in a pool when her phone buzzed with a new message.

To her surprise, it was from Lydia.

Heard Stiles dumped Jack on Josh and Haley, Abby read. We could meet in the park, see if Haley and Prada get along

Over everything with Rick Abby had totally forgotten about Lydia's dog and it took her a moment to remember that Lydia had said something about Haley watching her while Lydia was on a business trip.

Abby had wanted to go with Haley anyway and maybe she could talk to Lydia about Rick. She barely knew the other woman and she doubted that she would bring up the courage to actually say something but just getting out of the house and talking to another adult was tempting.

Abby quickly typed a response, asking for a time.

Later at Stiles' place, a disheveled Josh opened the door but he was pushed aside quickly by Jack who wanted to greet the newcomers.

"Long night?" Abby asked amused and fought the urge to ruffle his hair.

"Have two assignments due this week," he answered with a groan and when he stepped aside to let them in, Abby caught sight of his notes spread out on Stiles' kitchen table.

"Sorry, did you come over just for us?" Usually, he stayed at Derek's place, she knew that.

"Don't worry, I'm here half the time anyway." He took the lead and Abby couldn't help but notice that he was walking funny. He'd probably sat hunched over his books for way too long. "Jack's stuff is mostly here and Stiles' fridge is better stocked."

"Lydia wants to meet us at the park, our walk might take a bit longer than usual," Abby apologized. She didn't want to keep Josh for too long but he kind of needed to be there to take over Jack.

"I won't go anywhere any time soon." He waved over to the kitchen table without even looking in that direction. "The longer you keep Jack out of my hair the better."

"We'll make sure to make him run off all the extra energy," Abby promised which got her a thumbs-up from Josh.

Behind her, Haley was tapping her foot, leash in hand and Jack sitting at her side. Even the dog had an impatient expression on his face.

"I'm coming, I'm coming." Abby laughed, waved Josh goodbye and then she was ushered out of the door by her daughter.

They were at the park a bit early but they used the time for Jack to take care of business and then he was off, greeting all his doggy friends. Haley followed him, keeping an eye on him, and she had the whistle ready to call him back if he went off too far. There were other people with dogs and they all seemed to know Haley and Jack because she got greeting nods from a few of them and Jack hadn't even hesitated when he'd joined the other dogs on the playing field.

Abby stayed back a bit, this was Haley's thing after all and she didn't want to interfere too much. But she couldn't help, scanning the area for possible threats. Rick was nowhere to be seen but bushes and trees were obscuring her view so she couldn't tell if he was anywhere in the park or not. Probably not.

The other dog owners seemed friendly enough, mostly they kept their distance from Haley but they had a quick hello for her when they passed by.

"When have you slept the last time?" Suddenly Lydia spoke up next to her.

 

Chapter Text

Derek and Stiles were back at their hotel with some time to spare. Stiles had several bags in his lap, Derek didn't even want to know what kind of souvenirs he had bought, but there were also some sandwiches in there for an early dinner. Derek doubted that they would have time for a real dinner today but they would have all Sunday for themselves.

"When do we have to be there?" Stiles asked. He dumped his haul on the bed but had the sense to save the food and drinks and to put them in the small fridge the room came with.

All in all the room was nice, Derek had to admit. His main concern had been the accessibility when he'd looked for a room for them. And since it had been on short notice, he couldn't have been picky. But so far they had lucked out. The room was actually accessible for Stiles and even the bathroom was big enough for him to navigate it without trashing anything. Stiles' stool and the bar with the suction cups were already in the shower just to see if they fit. It wasn't optimal but they had dealt with worse on their road trip to California.

"The show starts at nine but I want to be there at eight. At the latest." Derek thought about it for a moment. "Make it seven thirty. I want to get a feeling for the location." And he wanted to talk to the owner to clear up some things that had come to mind over the last few hours. This wasn't his first show he would be photographing but every location and every show was different.

Stiles nodded to that, a calculating eye on him, and Derek could only guess that he was debating if they had time for whatever was on his mind.

"Red," Derek said before Stiles could make up his mind. "Whatever you're thinking, no. Not before the show."

"Spoilsport." Stiles made a face but accepted his decision without questions. "You're way too mature for me, you know that?"

"I'm here for a job." Derek stepped closer and nuzzled his neck from behind.

"All work and no play …," Stiles muttered but angled his head to give him better access.

"Later," Derek mumbled into the soft skin on his neck. He nipped at it, leaving a delicious red spot on the pale skin, but then he stepped back to not let this get out of hand.

He wanted to make a good job which meant no showing up late, fucked out and loopy.

However, before Derek got out of reach, Stiles turned around and grabbed him between the legs. Usually, Derek forgot about the cage but Stiles forced it back on his mind with his iron grip. The hard plastic was digging into the soft flesh of his balls and if anything Stiles tightened his grip even more until Derek had to brace himself on one of Stiles' handles. For a long moment, he just tried to breathe through the pain while black spots started to dance in his vision.

"Later," Stiles promised darkly and gave his junk one last tug before he let go of him.

Derek stayed hunched over for a moment longer, catching his breath.

They arrived at the club at seven thirty on the dot and by then Derek was fully focused on the job at hand. If it hadn't been for Stiles, he wouldn't have eaten his sandwich, which he would have regretted later, he just knew, but this way he had eaten in between checking his equipment for the second and third time. He knew that he had everything he needed in his bag, that all batteries were charged and that he hadn't forgotten anything but he still felt the urge to check one last time.

"Relax." Stiles had parked the car and reached over to give his thigh a reassuring squeeze. There was not a hint of dom in that gesture, just his boyfriend, fiance, supporting him. Derek gave him a weak smile but then he took a breath and opened the door.

The club was named N+N, the letters in neon blue and framed with a giant red heart over the entrance. The bouncer at the door led them in without problems but he did have a curious eye on Stiles. Same with the guy Derek asked for directions to find Nick, one of the owners of the club.

"Wheelchairs don't seem to be a common sight around here," Stiles said next to him when he followed the directions deeper into the club. At this time of the day, the club was empty, just some employees setting everything up and getting ready for the big night.

Derek hummed to that, eyes on the stairway that led to a balcony upper level and there were also stairs in the back, presumably where the private rooms where.

Aside from that, the club looked nice. Modern with bare walls, visible support beams and lots of glass. An industrial look. Derek liked this kind of architecture.

There were three stages, the main one in the middle with two smaller ones more at the side, but it was clear where the action would happen tonight. There was a cross already set up along with a bench and chains were hanging from the ceiling.

"Whips and chains," Stiles quoted the title of today's show.

"As long as they don't play that song," Derek muttered but he doubted that this was the kind of club that played Rhianna.

They found the owner in the back. He was giving last instructions to a woman but neither of them seemed stressed so it looked as if they were on schedule.

"Ah, Derek." The man noticed them and waved them over. They had spoken on the phone a few times and Derek had to say that so far he wasn't the easiest client but he knew what he wanted and was willing to listen to reason when Derek had to tell him that something just didn't work out the way he wanted.

"Nick, nice to meet you." They shook hands and Derek introduced Stiles. "Hope it's okay that he came along." The show wasn't invitation only so Stiles was just another guest it, shouldn't be a problem. But it was polite to ask.

"Of course not, hope you'll enjoy the show." Nick gave Stiles a smile with too many teeth before he playfully narrowed his eyes on him. "Do I have to check your ID?"

"Forgot my fake one at home." Stiles played along.

Nick huffed out a laugh but then he turned to the woman standing a bit at the side.

"This is my wife Natasha, she'll show you around and if she's in a good mood she'll even answer your questions." With that, he turned on his heel and left.

"Charming guy," Stiles said under his breath but Derek had no illusion that at least Natasha heard him just fine, maybe even Nick.

"He thinks, he's funny," Natasha said loud enough for her husband to hear who just gave her the finger without even turning around.

"Don't mind him. He's too loud and too blunt to be around people so we usually just lock him in his office." She made a this way gesture and led them back to the main area. "I'm basically running the club."

She showed them where they could leave their stuff, Derek had a bag with quite some expensive equipment, and then she gave him a rundown of the show. He would have a good view right in front of the stage, he would be the only one allowed in the security area, and as long as he didn't interrupt what was happening on stage, he could get up there as well.

"Just stay in the back," Natasha told him in a stern voice. "Our guests want to see the show, not you."

"Of course." Derek had no intention to steal the show, if he was honest, he was already rather uncomfortable with working in front of such a large audience. His past experiences had taught him that nobody really noticed the man with the camera when there was kinky stuff going on on stage but still.

They sat down at one of the tables to discuss the questions Derek still had but all in all it looked as if this was going to be a straight forward job with no surprises.

"Just wait until it's packed." Natasha winked at him. "Drinks are on the house for you two but I hope you stick to non-alcoholic."

"Don't worry," Stiles piped up. "He doesn't drink on the job and I have plans for tonight with him." Stiles put a possessive arm around Derek's middle.

Usually, something like that was met with uncomfortable silence but Natasha just laughed.

"You sure you want him along?" She asked. "Might give him ideas." She nodded towards the main stage were a rack with whips and floggers had completed the setup.

"He likes it." Stiles tightened his grip around his hip.

"He's sitting right here and he has work to do," Derek reminded him but turned back to Natasha to ask: "Mind if I do a round and take some practice shots?"

By the time the club started to fill, Derek was familiar with the best spots to get a nice view on the stage and he already had a series of pictures of the empty stage and the club in general. Things like that gave a nice little extra to the pictures of the main event.

The show started like scheduled at nine and true to the theme the cracking sound of leather on bare skin echoed from the walls not much later. Like predicted the club was packed and the crowd was enjoying themselves but the room was almost quiet during the performance.

Derek had lost sight of Stiles but he was focused on his work anyway. He wasn't really seeing what was going on on stage, his mind was more on how to get a nice angle.

There were short breaks between acts which Derek used to take more pictures of the crowd and the club itself.

He didn't notice the time flying by but then the last act, an elaborated mid-air suspension artwork with chains, came on stage. It was a strict do not try this at home thing, Derek could see how easily this could turn dangerous real quick but it was a stunning piece of art. He shot a whole series of the performance from different angles, this was the centerpiece after all.

Then the show was over and the first guests were leaving. Most stayed longer, now heading for the bar, but the club was noticeably less crowded now.

Derek didn't have to look long for Stiles before he found him in the crowd. He had found a place a bit at the side, where he wasn't in danger to be run over and he had a coke in hand.

"Done?" He asked over the noises of the club.

"Done," Derek confirmed and bend down for a kiss. "Just have to check in with Nick and Natasha real quick."

He found Nick in his office, Natasha must be somewhere in the club.

Derek showed him some of the pictures on the small display on his camera and he promised to send him the finished work over the week. Nick seemed impressed and didn't hesitate to hand over an envelope. They had agreed to half after the show and half once Nick had the final version which worked best for Derek. He had encountered people who tried to squirm their way out of paying on the last minute.

Derek took the money, thanked Nick and then he was back out on the floor where Stiles had already the bag with his equipment in his lap.

"Ready to get out of here?" Stiles had to yell over the loud music. Since the show was over they had cranked up the volume.

Derek just nodded. He wouldn't mind some food, the sandwich had been hours ago, but not necessarily from here.

On their way back to the hotel, they stopped for a late burger and when they returned to their room, Derek was full and tired and he just wanted to crawl into bed.

Stiles steered him over to the bathroom where Derek brushed his teeth and took a quick shower and then he crawled under the covers naked aside from his collar and the cage. He had only noticed that he was still wearing the latter in the shower and for a second he had been worried that Stiles wanted to do something tonight but when he'd come out of the bathroom Stiles had shooed him over to the bed and Derek was asleep before Stiles even joined him under the covers.

 

Chapter Text

"Okay, what's going on?"

They were sitting on a bench while Haley was playing fetch with the dogs. Prada didn't know the whistle commands but she did know how to play fetch.

For a second Abby thought about Lydia's question, not sure if she should bother the other woman with her problems. She barely knew her. On the other hand, talking to somebody was tempting. She would have preferred Derek or maybe Stiles because she knew them better and she knew that they would take her serious but Lydia was here and if nothing else, Abby could tell her the basics.

"Rick, my brother-in-law," she started but had to clear her throat which suddenly became too tight for the words to squeeze through. "I don't know, I think he's stalking us."

That got her Lydia's full attention but inwardly Abby prepared herself for the questions. If she was sure.

And if she had to name what had happened so far ... it was nothing. She couldn't even say with certainty that it had been Rick she had seen on the street.

"What happened?" Lydia asked.

Since Lydia didn't know about her trip to see the lawyer with Rick, Abby started with that. How Rick had attacked her.

"He completely lost it. He threatened to do something to Haley." She didn't want to think about that day, about the shock and confusion and she didn't dare to think what would have happened if Stiles hadn't taken over and had arranged everything.

"The things he said to Derek ..." She hadn't heard all of it but enough. "And now he's here. Here in New York."

"Abby, breathe." Lydia took her hand in hers and Abby couldn't help but latch on to that. She took a deep breath. "You say he's here. What did he do so far?"

That was the point, he hadn't really done anything. Except for ...

"He showed up at work when I wasn't in. Karen gave him my address." And God knew what else.

"That bitch," Lydia snarled. "Did you report her?"

Abby nodded.

"She's not talking to me at the moment."

"The silent treatment," Lydia said in a mocking tone. "That'll show you."

Abby couldn't help but laugh at that. "At least I get some work done in peace."

"What about Rick?" Lydia brought them back on topic. "Did he show up at your place?"

"I saw a man on the street, watching the house," Abby said. "At first I wasn't sure if it was him, I thought he didn't know where we live, but know I'm sure."

"You have a restraining order, right? You can call the police."

"He hasn't come close enough for that." At least not that she knew. "He might have stolen my mail. And I'm worried about Haley. I don't know if he knows where she goes to school but I made arrangements that she can wait inside until I pick her up."

"That's good." Lydia put her other hand on their already joined ones and slowly Abby dared to loosen the iron grip she had on Lydia's hand. "Have you slept at all the last few nights?"

"Not really?" She blinked against the tears. "I'm worried that he shows up at my door but part of me wants him to just do it already. It's stupid, I know, but ..."

"You want it to be over," Lydia finished the sentence for her. "Waiting for what he'll do next is the worst."

Abby nodded in relief. She had feared that Lydia would call her paranoid, maybe even telling her that she was seeing things but Lydia took her serious and that alone helped.

"Haley has to go to school tomorrow and I don't know, I don't have a good feeling about that." That was her biggest fear. What if Rick showed up at school? What if he did something to Haley? "I can keep her home for a few days but that's not a solution, not in the long run."

Would Rick just go home at one point? Would she even know? He could be home already, maybe she was angsting over nothing. She didn't know.

"We can work out a schedule." Lydia pulled her back out of her thoughts.

"Uh?"

"Stiles and Derek will be back home sometime tomorrow, I can switch around a few things and I'll check with Erica about her and Boyd's schedule." In her head, she was already calculating something. "We're six people, we should be able to get Haley to school and back again safely. Seven if Josh joins in." She paused as if only now something occurred to her. "If that's okay with you. You know Stiles and Derek but Erica, Boyd and I are strangers to you."

For a second Abby just stared at her in clear disbelief. She hadn't just offered that her whole group of friends rearranged their lives to get Haley to school and back, had she?

"Thank you but ..." Abby didn't know what to say. "That's too much, you all have your own life, you can't just drop everything for me. I don't even know if Rick is going to show up at school."

"But he might," Lydia reminded her.

It took some convincing from Lydia, it was a big offer, but in the end, Abby agreed to the plan. She would bring Haley to school tomorrow morning and add Lydia, Erica, and Boyd to the list of people allowed to take Haley.

At first, Abby thought that they would just drop Haley off at home, which was already way more than she could ask for, but Lydia called that nonsense.

"Do you want her home alone while you're still at work?" Lydia asked. "Haley can stay with whoever picks her up until you come home."

"Shouldn't you at least ask if the others are okay with that?" Abby tried to smooth it down. This was too much.

"What are you doing?" Abby asked when Lydia started typing on her phone.

"Asking Erica," she answered without even looking up. "I don't want to bother Stiles and Derek while they're on vacation, they might be a bit tied up at the moment, at least Derek, but among the rest of us we should be able to cover at least tomorrow and Tuesday."

Abby just blinked at her. Was this really happening?

"And once we're done here, you and Haley are coming to my place," Lydia said matter-of-factly. "You can take a nap in my guestroom."

"I ... thank you but ..."

"None of that, you look like death warmed over. You need some rest and I doubt that you'll get that at home." Satisfied with whatever she had written Lydia put her phone aside and looked over to where Haley was still playing with the dogs.

"She's good with them," she observed, apparently done with the other topic. "I was serious, I need somebody to watch Prada from time to time. The ones I tried before didn't work out. But she likes Haley."

Abby followed her line of sight. They were still playing fetch and somehow with the whistle and simple gestures Haley managed to make the dogs wait their turn. Both dogs were watching her with interest, waiting for her signal.

"I doubt Prada will learn many whistle commands, she's not as good with new things as Jack but Haley can work with her on the basics if she wants."

Abby didn't know what to say. The last minutes had been too much. So she just muttered a thank you and only when she tried to tuck a loose strand behind her ear, she noticed that they were still holding hands. She left her hair as it was.

They let Haley and the dogs play for another half an hour over which they just talked. When she'd met Lydia the other day Abby had been worried if there was even a tiny bit of common ground or if they were living in completely different worlds but it turned out that they could chat easily without other people bridging between them.

To her own surprise, Abby took Lydia up on the offer to come over to her place. She shot Josh a short message to let him know that they hadn't kidnapped Jack but would stay with Lydia for a while longer.

I'm here all night, was Josh's answer and he was probably glad if he didn't have to bother with Jack while he was studying.

Abby didn't remember the exact address but when Lydia let them into her apartment, she recognized it immediately. It was a penthouse with a nice rooftop that might have hosted an exclusive party or two over the summer. The apartment itself was modern and open with a whole glass front. Nothing Abby would pick for herself, not that she would ever be able to afford something like this, but it did suit Lydia.

Prada rushed in and made a beeline for her water, playing seemed to make one thirsty. Jack with Haley at the other end of his leash followed the smaller dog and Lydia hurried to get him a bowl of water as well. Haley unclipped the leash once the door was closed behind them but then she just stood there, kind of lost. Abby had the same feeling, as if she was an intruder.

However, once the dogs had drunk their water, they made themselves comfortable in Prada's dog bed which was way too small for Jack but he didn't seem to care. After a second of confusion, Prada didn't know what to do with the bigger dog in her bed, she wedged her way in between his paws and settled down happily with him.

Haley had her phone out a second later, taking pictures. Since Derek had shown her how to develop pictures, she was eager to take photos herself. And she didn't get tired of reminding Abby that Derek had promised to show her how to use a real camera. But for now, her phone did the job just fine.

"I would offer coffee but you look in more need of a nap." Lydia came up behind her.

"No, it's okay. Coffee would be great." Abby tried to decline the nap but five minutes later she found herself stretched out on Lydia's guest bed. Fully clothed and on top of the covers, she didn't want to fall asleep for real but just stretching out felt good. And for once she didn't have to worry about locked doors and if Rick would try to break in over the night. Abby let out a long breath and let her body relax into the mattress. Through the door, she heard Lydia talking, most likely to Haley, but it was too low to make out words.

Abby let out another sigh and closed her eyes. Just a few minutes …

When she woke up, it was dark and she was starving. But she did feel well-rested.

She stretched and yawned but when she checked the time on her phone she cursed under her breath. Almost eleven in the evening. Shit.

She scrambled out of bed and almost dropped her phone in her haste to get to the door. Tomorrow was Monday, Haley should be in bed by now and they didn't even have dinner yet.

She found Lydia a book on the couch in the living room with. There were cards and chips on one end of the dining table as if Lydia and Haley hadn't bothered to clean up when they had been done playing. However, there was no sight of Haley.

"Where's Haley?" Abby asked, scanning the room a second time. She was most likely in the bathroom but that thought didn't help with the rising panic.

"Sleeping in my bed." Lydia put the book aside.

"Oh." It did make sense given the time. "Why didn't you wake me?"

"You needed your rest." She looked Abby up and down as if she wanted to make sure that she was well-rested now. "We had Thai for dinner, I'll reheat you some." She got up gracefully and walked over to the kitchen before Abby could even comprehend what she'd just said.

A few minutes later Abby was sitting with a steaming plate of Thai food at the dining table. She didn't even know what she had on her plate but it smelled delicious, making her stomach rumble.

"Haley wanted to show you." Lydia gestured over to the other end of the table where they had left their game.

"Did you teach my daughter how to play poker?" It did look suspiciously like poker.

"I wish I didn't." Lydia let out a sigh and pointed at the piles of chips. One was actually a pile, the other one only had a few chips left. "She's good. Only bedtime saved me from committing suicide by all-in."

Abby couldn't help but laugh.

 

Chapter Text

Derek did get a good night's sleep but it wasn't his bed and he woke up early. Not earlier than Stiles, though. When Derek blinked his eyes open, he found Stiles already sitting with his back propped up against the headboard, typing on his phone.

"Morning," Stiles said without tearing his eyes off the screen but a few moments later he seemed to be done with whatever he had been doing and put the phone on the nightstand.

"Morning," Derek answered but didn't bother with moving just yet. The bed was comfy and it was still pleasantly warm under the covers. Besides, they had the whole day to themselves and they did serve breakfast until eleven here so there was no need to hurry.

"You were out like a light last night." Stiles teased and reached over to bury his fingers in Derek's hair. Derek closed his eyes with a content hum while Stiles was gently scratching his scalp.

"It was a long day," Derek said after a moment. They had wanted to scene once they had been back from the club but Derek had just been tired.

"You know, that show yesterday gave me some ideas."

"We don't even have whips and chains," Derek reminded him with his eyes still closed.

"I can improvise." Stiles nodded to himself. Derek didn't even need to see him, he could feel him nodding all the way to his fingertips which were still playing with his hair.

"That's not something you just improvise," Derek said, not really concerned but that last act came to mind. The mid-air chain suspension had been breathtaking, no doubt about that, but even with experience and the proper equipment, it wasn't something to just play around with. And Stiles lacked on both, experience and equipment.

"I was thinking more about the whips part." Stiles knew exactly what was on Derek's mind. "So far I have mostly spanked your ass. Which is awesome and I love it when it's all red and swollen and you can't sit the next day but ..."

"But what?" Derek cracked an eye open to look at him. From this angle, he had a good view up Stiles' nose but couldn't tell much about his expression.

"When I saw how that woman got her back whipped yesterday." Stiles licked his lips. "Or that guy on the cross who got the insides of his thighs flogged until he was a trembling mess. I liked that."

Derek remembered that performance. The guy had gotten his whole front flogged until his chest and stomach had been angry red and crisscrossed with welts but the highlight had been the thighs thing. Derek had been more focused on getting good pictures of that than on the act itself but yeah, thinking about it now did something to him.

"What do you have in mind?" Derek asked with a butterfly feeling in his stomach. He knew that Stiles had plans for today but whatever they had been, those had changed since yesterday. However, they were in a hotel room. There were people just behind the wall. Derek wasn't sure if it was a good idea to follow through with whatever Stiles had come up with. He doubted that he could keep quiet.

With a sly grin on his lips, Stiles ducked down to look him in the eye. The hand still in his hair tightened and Stiles used that to angle his head in a way that Derek had to meet his gaze.

"I don't have our flogger here," Stiles said. "But a hairbrush should do. I want you arched backward, presenting your whole front to me, begging me to paint you red." He paused to let that picture form in Derek's mind. "I'm going to focus on your thighs and when you can't even stand any longer I'm going to make you ride me."

Derek swallowed thickly. He felt his caged penis trying to fill but it was only straining against the plastic.

"I'm not sure if I can stay quiet enough," he admitted. He had crossed exhibitionism off his list just the other day.

"Only one way to find out." Stiles forced his head back even more, exposing his throat. He had a hungry look in his eyes and when he ducked in to bring his mouth to Derek's throat, Derek didn't expect gentle kisses. He still hissed when Stiles bit into the soft skin there.

"Green." He breathed out, knowing full well that he was screwed.

Stiles hummed into his skin before he tucked at his collar with his teeth.

"Go to the bathroom, then," he ordered. "Get nice and clean for me. You have five minutes."

That was a generous amount of time but Derek hurried to get out of bed nevertheless.

"And don't forget to bring the hairbrush when you're done," Stiles yelled after him.

When he came back to the main room, hairbrush in his hand and his heart beating in his throat, Stiles had put on some sweatpants and had moved over to his chair.

"Come here." Stiles waved him over and made him stand at the foot of the bed.

"All mine to play with." Stiles took a moment to ran his hands up and down his front, brushing a nipple here and there, ghosting over his flanks and cupping his balls.

"Lean back, brace your forearms on the bed, ass up."

Derek got in position. It forced him to arch his back, pushing out his chest, but it was low enough for Stiles to have easy access. And it would become hard to stay in position rather quickly, Derek could tell already.

"Relax," Stiles told him and started with running the bristled side of the hairbrush over his front. It tickled.

Then the back of the brush hit him for real for the first time. His abs tensed under the impact and Derek let out a surprised gasp.

"Remember to keep quiet," Stiles told him and hit him again.

That and staying in position turned out to be the hard part. Not that Derek hadn't already known that. It didn't take long until he was trembling to keep his back off the bed and he had to bite his lips to stay mostly quiet.

Stiles had warmed up his front with an even pattern of light blows but by now the hits overlapped and he was putting more force into it.

"Look at you." Stiles gave him a break to admire his work. Derek didn't have the energy to lift his head to look at his front but it was red and pulsing with his heart-beat, that much he could tell without looking.

He wailed when Stiles ran the bristled side of the hairbrush over his abused skin.

"Quiet, remember? And get your ass back up." Stiles used the hairbrush under his back to get him in position again.

He gave his chest and stomach another once-over before he started to work on his legs. The front wasn't too bad but then Stiles nudged his feet farther apart and started on the soft skin on the inside of his legs.

At some point, Derek collapsed onto the bed but that didn't stop Stiles from torturing his thighs. Derek tasted blood but he managed to keep his noises to cut-back screams.

Derek didn't know how long Stiles had been working him over by now, his whole body was hurting, but then Stiles stopped and reached over to cover his mouth.

Confused Derek just lay there for a moment but then he got why Stiles had his jaw in an iron grip. He ran the bristles over the insides of his thighs. Derek bucked under him.

And then Stiles started to hit him with the bristled side.

Derek screamed into the hand holding his mouth shut.

When Stiles finally let go of him, Derek was covered in sweat and tears were running down the sides of his face. Chest heaving he was just lying there and didn't dare to move. Even breathing set his front on fire again. His whole body was trembling but the worst was in his legs.

"Up." Stiles tapped his side with the hairbrush to get him moving. "Ride me."

"Can't." There was no way that his legs would hold him but Stiles was determined and urged him up.

Derek didn't know how but somehow he did end up straddling Stiles who was still sitting in his chair. Meaning that Derek kind of needed his legs for support. Which at this point weren't supportive at all. The dick up his ass was probably the only thing keeping him in Stiles' lap.

"Move."

At least Stiles took mercy on him and helped him up and down with strong hands under his butt while Derek was just clinging to him.

By the time Stiles spilled his release deep in him, Derek's legs were burning, his left one was spasming and he would have just landed on the floor if Stiles weren't holding him close. Which was torture for his front, skin to skin was not fun at the moment.

Somehow Stiles manhandled him over to the bed and this time it was him straightening out Derek's legs.

"You were so good. So good for me, taking it so well." Stiles' praise washed over him while he was gently working soothing ointment into his abused skin. It hurt but in a good way.

Derek might have drifted off for a moment because he came to to a strawberry poking his lips. For a second he squinted at the offending fruit right under his nose but then he opened his mouth and took a bite.

"Breakfast in bed?" He asked when he noticed the tray on the mattress next to him. And Stiles who had another strawberry waiting for him. With whipped cream.

"You earned it." Stiles fed him the berry and cut a bite off the pancakes the strawberries belonged to. "I have to think about a good way to thank you." With his free hand, he raked down Derek's front, making him hiss, until he reached his still caged cock where he weighted his balls in his palm. They were still shiny with not quite dried precome.

"How do you feel?"

"Horny," Derek said but that was only because Stiles had brought his attention to his nether parts. Mainly he just felt sore and wrung out and he told Stiles that much.

"But good?" Stiles asked while he nervously picked apart the pancakes.

"Very," Derek hurried to say before the poor pancakes had to suffer too much. "And now pamper me."

Laughing Stiles fed him the rest of the pancakes.

Later, when they had finished their breakfast and Stiles had brushed the worst of the crumbs off the bed, they were just lying there for a little while longer. Stiles had him in his arms, holding him close, and Derek just relaxed into him.

"Josh said that we should just elope," Derek said out of the blue. Their wedding had been on the back of his mind since Laura had called but so far he hadn't thought too closely about it.

"We could do that," Stiles agreed carefully. Too carefully to actually like the idea. Derek craned his neck to look him in the eye.

"What do you want?" Derek asked.

"Dunno." Stiles started to play with his hair again and Derek let his head drop back to his chest. "Dad is excited and I want him there. Melissa of course. And Scott and Isaac."

"Have they realized by now that they're basically dating?"

"Doubt it." Stiles shook his head. "Isaac maybe but Scott is just too dense sometimes." He thought about it for a moment. "We should give them a couple invitation, maybe that will do the trick."

"You could add a picture. You forcing their heads together with Now Kiss in a speech bubble."

"I should do that." Stiles chuckled but then he became kind of wistful. "I'd like to draw the invitations myself, you know, make them personal. Cora's wedding was nice and maybe it was her but a wedding like that wouldn't be us. You know what I mean?"

Derek hummed to that, he knew exactly what he meant. Stiles had proposed to him with a collar, that was them.

An idea was forming in his mind.

"We could do it here, in New York," he suggested. "Most of our friends are already here and the others can fly in from Beacon Hills."

Stiles nodded to that but waited for him to continue speaking. Derek didn't know how he did it but Stiles always knew when Derek needed a moment to put his thoughts in words.

"We could use my studio, have the party there." It wasn't that big but there wouldn't be too many people attending anyway. For sure he would not invite his whole family like Cora had.

"I would like pictures of us on the walls." In his mind, he was already planning the photo shooting for that.

"I like that idea." Stiles kissed him on the forehead. "It's going to be our day. Your place with your pictures of us on the walls. I'll take care of the invitations, everybody is going to get an individual one. And we'll only invite the people we actually like."

It sounded like a plan.

 

Chapter Text

Abby should just get Haley and leave, she knew that, it was almost eleven in the evening after all, but instead she was comfortably sitting here on Lydia's couch, eating Thai food.

And Lydia didn't seem to mind. They were chatting easily and for the while, Abby just enjoyed the company. Haley and Lydia seemed to get along quite well, aside from playing poker they had gone for another round with the dogs and Haley had shown Lydia the pictures she had taken of Jack and Prada with her phone.

They didn't talk about the reason Abby was sitting on Lydia's couch at this time of the night and she was grateful for the breather. Soon enough she would have to go home where she would check the door and windows first thing just to make sure that Rick hadn't broken into her place while she was gone.

With that nap earlier she had screwed up her sleeping schedule anyway, Abby doubted that she would sleep again tonight. Which meant that she would just watch TV on low the whole night. And she would be straining her ears for any unusual noises the rest of the night, she just knew.

"We need to watch a rom-com," Lydia suddenly proclaimed and reached for the remote.

"A what?" Abby almost choked on the bite she'd just put into her mouth.

"Something unrealistic sweet and with a guaranteed happy ending," Lydia said while she was skipping through the movies on Netflix. "Something to keep your mind off that douchbag of a brother-in-law."

"It's late," Abby protested. "You have better things to do than to babysit me."

"Abby." Lydia set down the remote and turned sideways to look her right in the eye. "You look better now but I've seen you earlier, you looked terrible. You were running yourself into the ground. Take a break."

"I don't want to impose." Abby averted her eyes.

"One movie." Lydia reached over to take her hand again.

"Okay, one movie," Abby gave in and got more comfortable.

They watched a cheesy romance which neither of them could take seriously.

"I would get him arrested for stalking," Lydia said between two bits of popcorn because of course they had popcorn with the movie.

"Hmm." Abby made. He was kind of stalking his love interest but at least it was easy to not see Rick in the guy on the screen. He was the typical nice guy who really wanted to get to know this woman and it was supposed to be so romantic. But it was light enough that Abby could laugh with Lydia about the silliness and they both enjoyed pointing out the plot holes.

They finished to movie and Abby had to admit that she felt better. The nap had helped but the distraction had been good too. Lydia switched off the TV but got comfortable again just a second later. She didn't seem to be in a hurry to go to bed but Abby didn't want to bother her even longer. It was after midnight after all.

"I should wake Haley," she said but couldn't quite bring herself to get up. She didn't want to get home in the middle of the night. What if Rick was waiting for her? What if he'd broken into her place?

"I take the guest bed and you sleep in my bed with Haley," Lydia decided, leaving no room to argue. "No need to wake her up this late."

"That's … thank you but I can't …" Abby didn't know what to say. "We have been bothering you way too much already."

"Don't be silly." Lydia rolled her eyes at her. "Let Haley have a good night's sleep. Wake her up a bit earlier so you can head over to your place and get her ready for school. Better than moving her over in the middle of the night."

She had a point there, Abby had to admit.

"Why are you doing this?" They barely knew each other.

"We're friends." Lydia shrugged. "And I have the feeling that you need a friend at the moment." Lydia raised an eyebrow at her as if she dared her to deny it.

"Okay," Abby agreed. "But I'll make it up to you."

"No obligations." Lydia raised her hands in defense. "But you can buy me a coffee sometime."

Abby wasn't sure what to make out of that comment but Lydia just kept talking.

"Erica offered to pick Haley up after school and I can bring Jack back to Josh when I walk Prada in the morning."

"Is there anything you haven't planned in detail?" Abby asked, a little too overwhelmed with what was happening here. "Where is Jack anyway?" The dog bed was empty and since she'd woken up from her nap, she hadn't seen either of the dogs.

"With Haley." Lydia nodded towards the bedroom door. "Good luck getting into the bed."

They both had to get up early, and Lydia didn't have the benefit of an extended nap, so they called it a night.

Lydia had a spare toothbrush and a big t-shirt for her and only minutes later Abby slipped into bed with Haley. Like predicted both dogs were in bed with her but Jack only huffed a little before he moved to the foot end of the bed where he settled down on Haley's feet.

Abby was still too wired, the whole evening had been kind of surreal, but she held Haley in her arms and just let her body relax. Eventually, she did drift off to sleep.

She had set her alarm an hour earlier than usual but being in a strange place did help to get up without too much trouble. Even Haley was up and about after just one gentle shake.

Lydia was still up before them and had breakfast ready when they emerged from the bedroom.

"Did you sleep at all?" Abby wondered but accepted the coffee Lydia handed her.

"I don't need much sleep." She took a sip from her coffee but she must have seen something in Abby's expression that made her add: "Just ask Stiles. We used to pull all-nighters all the time."

They left Lydia's place with enough time to get back home and freshen up for school and work.

Haley had even finished her croissant and her glass of milk and was now skipping along Abby on their way back to the car.

"Did you have fun with Lydia?" Abby asked. She had kind of thrown Haley into this but the enthusiastic nod she got as an answer calmed her mind.

In the car, Haley typed something on her phone.

Lydia said that Erica is going to pick me up today?

"Yeah, I don't feel good about Rick," Abby said, focus on the traffic. "Lydia suggested that we all take turns, picking you up from school. Would that be okay with you?"

So far nobody had asked Haley if she wanted almost strangers to pick her up. Ironically Abby felt better with those strangers than with Rick who was family.

Erica is going to scare him away

"She totally is." Abby couldn't help but laugh. However, thinking about it, Erica and Lydia both were kind of scary. And Boyd was just intimidating. Same for Derek. The only one who didn't look scary was Stiles but Abby knew him well enough by now to feel sorry for whoever underestimated him. Which reminded her that Stiles and Derek should be back later today.

At school Abby set everything up, now Lydia, Erica, and Boyd were also allowed to pick up Haley. With the good feeling that that was taken care of, Abby headed over to work. She was a bit late, only by five minutes but that was enough for Karen to give her a disapproving look.

"What?" Abby snapped at her and put her purse in her chair. It wasn't as if it mattered if she came in five minutes early or late. As long as she got her work done nobody cared about a few minutes. Except for Karen. But at the moment Karen was still miffed because of that thing with Rick. She had been called in to the main office yesterday but as far as Abby knew she only had gotten a stern talking to.

Abby got a cup of coffee before she started her computer. She had a viewing in the afternoon but most of the day she would be stuck in the office with Karen. But at least that limited her chances of running into Rick. With a sigh, Abby took a sip from her coffee. She closed her eyes, the world around her forgotten for a moment while she just savored the warm feeling of the hot coffee in her mouth.

Things had piled up on her desk, her head hadn't been in the right place to get things done, but now Abby buried herself in work. At least that got Karen off her back.

At lunchtime, Abby was pondering her options. She wanted an egg salad sandwich, they had amazing ones at that place just a bit down the street, but on the other hand, she kind of feared that Rick was watching the office. What if he followed her? What if he used the chance to come and talk to Karen again? Abby hoped that her co-worker had learned her lesson but she kind of doubted it. Karen hadn't talked to her about it but Abby got the feeling that she still thought that Abby was overreacting and that she should just talk to Rick. Apologize for whatever she had done. As if ...

Abby snorted but that didn't help her with her lunch problem. She had brought something for lunch to work with her but at the moment she didn't want apple slices, she wanted that sandwich.

"I can't hide here all the time," Abby muttered to herself and grabbed her purse. Later she would meet a client, she couldn't avoid going outside. Besides, with clients she was usually alone in an empty apartment. Chances that something happened were way higher there than over one trip to get a goddamn sandwich.

Abby got her sandwich without problems but she got it to go and only when she was back in the office she dared to enjoy it properly.

The viewing went better than expected. She didn't sell the apartment but she was on the right way, now she knew exactly what the couple wanted. Basically what she had shown them but not on ground level, you know with all the breaking and entering one heard about almost daily. Abby didn't hear about those almost daily, it was a good neighborhood, but with Rick constantly on the back of her mind, she understood.

After the viewing, she went back to the office for the follow-up paperwork. When she glanced at the clock, she was surprised how late it already was. School had finished an hour ago.

"Shit." Abby checked her phone but she didn't have a new message from Haley or Erica.

Everything okay? she asked. Did Erica pick you up?

The checkmark turned blue almost immediately and a second later Haley's answer came in. Just a thumbs-up emoji.

For a second Abby stared at the screen, not sure what to make out of that. Usually, Haley answered with at least a few words.

So she asked again if everything was okay but this time she used their set up line. If Haley didn't answer the correct way ...

Biting her nail Abby waited for the answer. Which came a second later. In the correct way. Abby let out a long breath, everything was okay.

Sorry, Haley wrote. Had my hands full

No problem, Abby wrote back, tempted to ask what they were doing but it looked like Haley was busy at the moment. I'll pick you up in about an hour

She got another thumbs-up as an answer.

Abby put her phone aside but she couldn't just shake off the dread she had felt for a second there.

"This is driving me crazy," she muttered to herself but she couldn't help it. If it had been just about her, she would deal but Haley was in this as well.

On her way home, she did a quick grocery run to get them something for dinner and since she had ice cream in there as well, she stopped at home to put away the food before she headed over to Erica's place.

When she opened the front door to leave her apartment, she almost ran into Rick.

"You're not going anywhere, bitch!"

 

Chapter Text

They left the hotel late on Monday morning. They had spent most of Sunday with tourist stuff and in the evening Stiles had made him come three times. Stiles had used him again in the morning so when he followed Stiles out to the car, Derek followed way slower. Even the shower and a hearty breakfast didn't help to get him going, his whole body felt stiff and sore but he just knew that he was wearing a stupid fucked out grin.

Stiles had put the cage back on after he'd been done with him and at the moment it was a relief. Derek needed almost the same time to get into the car as Stiles and he didn't have to wangle a wheelchair in. Just drop their bags in the trunk and get into the passenger seat.

Derek sank into the seat with a sigh but he had to shift a bit until he found a position that wasn't too uncomfortable for his butt.

"I did a number on you." Stiles chuckled next to him and when Derek glanced over to him through dropping eyelids he found him looking back at him with hunger in his eyes. Derek let his eyes fall shut but mustered the energy to raise his hand and give Stiles the finger.

Stiles just laughed and started the car.

"Rest up, you earned it." There was pride in his voice and Derek couldn't deny the squishy feeling those words caused in his chest.

The drive home blurred together, Derek was pretty sure that he'd slept for most of it and hadn't really been awake for the rest. At some point, Stiles stopped for lunch but he only got them sandwiches and coke to go which they had in the car. After half of his sandwich, Derek wrapped up the rest and put it aside. They had a late breakfast and his body wasn't ready for big amounts of food. It was busy doing other things. Like healing. Stiles hadn't hurt him for real but every muscle was sore and there was a deep-seated ache in his bones. Derek was just looking forward to his bed. Or maybe he should crash at Stiles' and hog his bathtub. A bathtub did wonders for sore muscles, just ask Stiles.

They didn't hurry and arrived at Stiles' place late in the afternoon. By now Derek was more or less awake but he felt the long hours in the car. The second Stiles had brought the car to a halt, Derek reached for the door and got out. He needed to stretch his legs.

"Careful there, grandpa." Stiles was watching him with open amusement. "Want to borrow my chair?"

Derek just glared at him and shut the door.

"Do you want to stay in the car?" Derek asked and made a point of walking the few steps over to the trunk with as much grace as he could muster. It still felt as if he was walking on wooden legs. But moving helped. By the time they were in Stiles' apartment, he could walk almost normal again. Still sore, though.

"Home sweet home." Stiles shut the door and rolled past him into the living room. "At least Josh hasn't trashed the place."

The living room looked almost like they had left it. There were a few of Josh's things on the coffee table but he had two assignments this week, Derek was willing to cut him some slack. But he kind of dreaded what his place would look like. Josh spent most of his time there.

Stiles went over to the kitchen.

"Apple juice?" He asked with his head in the fridge.

Derek made a confirming noise in the back of his throat while he carefully lowered himself onto the couch. It was way more comfortable than the seat in the car. He let out a sigh.

"Still this bad?" Stiles had a glass with apple juice wedged between his thighs and was carefully rolling over to him. In the morning he had been proud of his handiwork but now he looked worried. Biting his bottom lip he was looking him over, searching for signs that Derek was in real pain, no doubt.

"I'm fine," Derek assured him and took the glass from him. "It's just the hours in the car." And it was. He still felt what they had done earlier, what Stiles had done with him, but that was a good kind of hurt, he liked it. The ride home just had added a not so fun layer.

"I'm good," Derek told him and stretched his legs. "Just give me some time to recover."

"I can do that." In a fluent move Stiles hoisted himself over to the couch and a moment later he was snuggling into Derek's side.

Derek put an arm over his shoulder and closed his eyes. This was good.

However, Stiles wasn't one to sit quietly for long so soon enough he started to fidget.

"We should let people know that we're back," he said already reaching for his phone. Derek had half a mind to slap his hand, they were just so comfy here but in the end, he just accepted that Stiles could cuddle and text. Whoever he was texting. Most likely Lydia.

Stiles was still pressed into his side so Derek closed his eyes again.

However, the typing became more rapid which was unusual even for Stiles.

"Something wrong?" He cracked open his eyes but now Stiles had the phone at his ear, waiting for somebody at the other end to pick up.

"Erica?" He barked into the phone. "What happened?"

Exhaustion forgotten Derek set up straighter.

"That son of a bitch," Stiles cussed and Derek had to duck or he would have gotten slapped in the face with Stiles' flailing. He brought some distance between them while at the same time he strained his ears to catch what Erica was saying.

"Is she okay?" Stiles asked.

Derek's first thought was that this was about Lydia, she and Erica were close friends, but after a second Abby and her brother-in-law came to mind. Rick had said quite some not so nice things when Derek had picked up Abby's stuff and Abby had been worried that he would come after her and Haley.

"Shall we come over?" Stiles asked so at least it didn't sound as if somebody was in the hospital, that was a plus, right?

"What happened?" Derek asked the second Stiles had ended the call.

"That piece of shit attacked Abby." Stiles spat out the words, already reaching for his chair.

"Is she okay?" Derek repeated Stiles' question from earlier. Judging by how frantically Stiles was trying to get into his chair, the answer was no. Derek hurried to get up and to push Stiles' chair into a position that would make it easier for him to transfer over. In his haste, he was more likely to land on the floor than in his chair otherwise.

"She got away and called the police." Stiles gave him the moment to adjust the chair but the second he was in there, he took control and promptly rolled over Derek's foot. "But she's shaken up."

"What about Haley?"

"She was with Erica." Stiles was already half-way to the door. "Don't ask me why but she picked her up from school today."

"We've been gone for one weekend," Derek muttered but followed Stiles out of the door. "You sure we should go?"

After whatever had happened Abby might need some peace and quiet.

"Erica said that Abby doesn't want to be alone right now," Stiles said. "Lydia is there as well and she said that it's okay if we come over. We're supposed to bring food."

Stiles threw Derek the keys, making him the driver. From the car, Stiles ordered pizza for pick-up and gestured for Derek to stop at a store to get snacks and drinks.

No alcohol but lots of soft drinks, chips, and chocolate. And three tubs of ice cream.

By the time they reached the pizza place, their order was ready and they managed to get everything over to Erica's place still hot. Or in case of the drinks and ice cream, still cold.

Boyd opened the door for them and took the bags from Stiles' lap without prompting. With a jerk of his head, he indicated for them to come in.

"You sure this is okay?" Derek adjusted the pizza boxes in his hands. Stiles had ordered way too much but he was a stress eater if there were any leftovers he would demolish them for breakfast.

However, the whole situation gave Derek an eery feeling of deja vu. It took him a moment to place it but then he remembered Boyd and Erica coming over with pizza when he'd quit his job.

But this sounded way more serious than just quitting a shitty job.

"We're having a movie night." Boyd closed the door behind them and ushered them deeper into the apartment.

They found the others in the living room. Abby was sitting with Haley wedged into her side on the couch with Lydia on her other side. Abby and Lydia were talking in low voices but Abby looked spooked. As if she hadn't comprehended what had happened yet. Which apparently had been Rick but what exactly had happened, Derek still didn't know. At least she didn't look hurt.

Erica was coming up to them to greet them with tight hugs which she used to stir them in the direction of the kitchen.

"Food in the kitchen," Erica said a bit too loud but Derek got the hint and followed her into the kitchen where she could close a door between them and Abby.

"Please tell me that bastard is behind bars," Stiles said once they were alone.

"He escaped." Erica leaned against the counter. "You can put the boxes over there." She gestured at a random spot, it was obvious that she couldn't care less about pizza right now.

"What happened?" Now that he had his hands free, Derek crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at Erica.

"She went home after work," Erica finally started talking. "When she wanted to leave to pick up Haley, Rick was waiting for her."

"That fucking bastard," Stiles cursed and Derek could only agree. He had seen her right after the first attack. And he had seen Rick, that man had no control whatsoever. He had put Abby in the hospital when she refused to sign over the money she had inherited.

"Did she sign those papers?" Derek asked because that was the only way he could think of for her to get away without a scratch.

"If she signed under duress it's worthless," Stiles piped up. "She has witnesses that she didn't want to sign."

"She slammed the door in his face." A feral grin spread over Erica's face. "She locked herself in the bathroom and called the police," Erica continued but now her face darkened again. "He went all Shining on her, trashed the bathroom door and everything. She escaped through the window."

Derek didn't know what to say, something like this only happened in horror movies.

"By the time the police arrived, he was gone," Erica finished.

"At least she didn't have Haley with her," Derek said. It was bad enough as it was, he didn't want to think about how it might have ended if Haley had been there as well.

"Why was Haley with you anyway?" Stiles wondered.

"Lydia set up a schedule." Erica pushed herself off the counter and turned to get plates out of the cupboard. "Looks like Rick has been stalking her for a while and we wanted to make sure that Haley gets to school and back safely. Starting today."

"Why is this the first I hear about that?" Stiles asked louder than necessary. "I'm more than capable to pick her up as well."

Derek opened his mouth to tell him that this was not the time for that but Erica was quicker.

"Lydia didn't want to ruin your weekend," Erica explained easily as if she didn't even notice his outburst. "You two have the most flexible schedules, you were supposed to cover what we others can't. Lydia wanted to add you to the group once you were back. But yeah …" She gestured at the door.

"What are we going to do now?" Derek asked while his mind was still racing with all the new information.

"For now we're going to have pizza," Erica said.

 

Chapter Text

Abby didn't really remember how she had gotten out of the house. She did remember screaming "I'm calling the police!" at the top of her lungs while the bathroom door had been shaking with the kicks and punches from Rick. It wouldn't hold, that much was obvious, but it did hold long enough for her to deal 911 and to yell her name and address at the operator as soon as someone picked up.

"He's breaking down the door!" She remembered screaming that as well.

Somehow she had squeezed her way through the tiny bathroom window. She had lost her phone on her way out but at that time she had been kicking at Rick who had tried to pull her back by her ankle, she had only noticed minutes later that she didn't know where her phone was.

But then the police had been there and an officer had led her to the side where she could sit down for a moment.

"Did you get him?" She asked and craned her neck to see what was going on in the house but from here she could only see the open door but not what was going on inside.

"He ran but we're looking for him," the officer told her.

Rick was still out there. He could come back. Abby felt her chest tighten.

"Are you hurt?" The man asked, having a closer look at her. "I can call you an ambulance."

"He grabbed my foot," Abby said, her breath too fast and too short. She could still feel his hand around her ankle. Just like with her wrist back then. "But I'm fine."

"Can you tell me what happened?" The officer asked.

Abby gave him a clipped version, it was all kind of blurry, but then she remembered Haley.

"My daughter." Tapping her pockets she tried to remember where she'd left her phone. "I need to contact my daughter." For a second she couldn't even recall where Haley was but then she remembered Erica. Thank God she hadn't been with her.

"Where's my phone?" She felt tears burning in her eyes.

"Ma'am, where's your daughter?" The officer asked, suddenly concerned. "Was she with you?"

It took her a moment to follow his line of thought. He was thinking about a kidnapping.

"She's with a friend," Abby said. "I was about to pick her up. She'll be worried where I am."

It took another few minutes but then somebody handed Abby her phone. She had no new messages from Haley so she might not have noticed that her mother was running late.

"Can you stay with your friend for a while?" The officer interrupted. "Or maybe someone from your family? At least for a few days."

Abby nodded mechanically. She would not go back home any time soon. Not after what had happened tonight. And for sure not while Rick was still out there.

However, where she would stay, she had no idea.

But first, she needed to see Haley. With shaking hands, she typed a message but it took forever to get the letters into the right order. It didn't help that her vision was kind of blurry.

"I need to pick up my daughter," Abby said and tried to stand. With a gentle hand to her shoulder, the officer forced her back down. Not that he needed any force. Abby dropped back on her own.

"You shouldn't drive right now. Can your friend pick you up?"

Strictly speaking, Abby had met Erica once, friend might not be the right term, but Haley was with her so Abby called her.

When Abby told her what had happened Erica fell into stunned silence for a long moment. Abby wondered if she thought that she was joking.

"Boyd is going to pick you up," Erica said once she had recovered a bit. "Haley is with me, we'll wait here for you."

With tears of relief in her eyes, Abby ended the call. She hadn't even thought about it but the last thing she wanted for Haley was to come here or stay alone somewhere.

The officer was talking about her statement, that she should come into the station tomorrow, but she tuned him out. Haley was safe and Boyd would pick her up any minute now.

By the time Boyd showed up, she didn't feel that shaken any longer and she even managed to walk over to him with steady steps.

He had one look at the police car in front of her place, the officer still hovering at her side and Abby herself before he hurried to close the distance between them.

"You okay?" He put himself between her and the officer. It was stupid but she did feel better with his solid frame between her and the rest. In that way, he reminded her of Derek. And Marvin. But she shook off that thought quickly. If she dwelled on that for too long, she would dissolve into a sobbing mass.

"Just get me out of here."

Twenty minutes later they reached Boyd's and Erica's place and there, with Haley in her arms, Abby started crying. Boyd and Erica gave them some space and for a little while, Abby just clung to her daughter.

She was worrying her, she knew that but at the moment she couldn't help it.

"Mommy?" Haley asked, her arms still tight around her neck. "Don't cry."

Abby nodded into her shoulder and wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand.

"Okay." Her voice sounded raspy and she needed a tissue but Haley was here, safe and sound, and that was all that counted.

"Come, sit down," Lydia spoke up, once Abby had composed herself a bit. Why she was here, Abby didn't know but at the moment she didn't care. So she sat down on the couch and took the tissue Lydia was handing her.

Nobody asked but the way everybody was looking at her, it was clear that they all wanted to hear what had happened.

Abby had told her story before, to that officer, but by now she had calmed down a bit. Not much, she was still shaking and on the verge of tears but she was able to tell what had happened in a steady voice. It sounded distant in her own ears as if it was something far away.

Once she had finished, there wasn't that much to tell anyway, quiet fell over the room. Haley had snuggled even closer and for a moment Abby closed her eyes and just hugged her back.

"What do you need?" Lydia asked gently. She sat down on her other side and after a hesitant second, she put her hand on Abby's shoulder.

"I don't know." Her priority had been to get to Haley, to make sure that she was safe but beyond that, she had no clue. She didn't even know where she would sleep tonight. Not as if sleep was something that would happen anytime soon.

"Can I let your hair down?" Lydia asked, her hand still a comforting weight on her shoulder. Abby felt the warmth of her palm seeping into her tense muscle there.

"Okay?" Abby didn't know what Lydia was aiming at but she let her untie her bun. Combing with her fingers through the curls Lydia untangled them.

"There you go." Satisfied Lydia ran her hands over Abby's neck one more time before she sat back.

Abby had to admit that it felt good. The tension abated a bit and she drew in a shaky breath.

"Mommy?" Haley asked, drawing the attention to her. "I don't want to go home."

"Me neither." Abby hugged her close again. "Me neither."

Not that she had any idea where to go. At the moment they were invading Boyd's and Erica's place but that was by far not a long term solution.

"You can sleep in my guestroom," Lydia offered. She ducked her head to speak directly to Haley. "You don't have to go back there, not while he's still out there. You and your mommy, you're not alone, you have friends now."

Haley gave her a small smile and Abby couldn't help the wave of gratitude washing over her.

"Speaking of friends." Erica had her phone in hand. "Looks like Derek and Stiles are back in town."

She texted a bit back and forth with whoever of them she was currently talking to.

"Distraction or peace and quiet?" Lydia asked and it took Abby a second to realize that she was talking to her.

"Distraction." Some distraction would be good, she would be alone with her thoughts soon enough. "I don't want to be alone."

"Movie night it is," Lydia decided and a minute later Derek and Stiles were invited as well. Erica put them on pizza duty.

Half an hour later Derek and Stiles arrived, Derek with pizza boxes in hands and Stiles with two bags in his lap. Abby doubted that they had been home long, they didn't look as if they had taken the time to freshen up. Especially Derek looked exhausted and he moved stiffly across the room.

Abby steeled herself to tell her story, again, but Erica whisked them away into the kitchen. To clue them in, no doubt.

When they came back out, Stiles had a long look at Abby. What he was looking for she didn't know but it was clear that he came to some kind of decision.

"Who wants pizza?" Stiles asked loud and a tad too cheerful.

Abby wasn't hungry, she only nibbled at her slice of pizza, much like Haley next to her, but the others helped themselves with gusto. Especially Derek and Stiles seemed to be starving.

"How was New Bedford?" Erica asked which successfully shifted the attention away from Abby. Mostly it was Stiles talking with an added word from Derek here and there. Apparently, the show Derek had been booked to photograph had been amazing.

"You need to see the pictures." Stiles' eyes became all glossy and the glance he threw at Derek was pure love. "The performances were breathtaking and the way Derek caught them … you have to see that." But then his eyes fell on Haley. "Yeah, well … you'll have to ask your mom if you can see them. Otherwise, you'll have to wait until you're eighteen, sorry." Rubbing the back of his head he didn't know where to look.

"I'll have a look at them first," Abby decided. Derek had mentioned what kind of show they were talking about and if she was honest, she was dying to see the pictures, but she highly doubted that they would be appropriate for Haley. How she would be able to dodge her pleading puppy dog eyes she didn't know, though.

"Stiles found that whale skull in a window," Derek stirred the conversation in a different direction.

"That thing was awesome." Stiles lit up with the change of topic. "I still want it."

"No," Derek said firmly. "Where would you even put it?"

"It would be a great centerpiece."

"Do I want to know on which occasion you'll ever need a whale skull centerpiece?" Erica asked.

"It would look awesome on our wedding table." Stiles grinned at her. "It would give his mom a heart attack."

"The fact alone that there is a wedding will give her a heart attack," Derek muttered but it sounded good-natured.

"Finally," Boyd spoke up. "Took you long enough."

Abby felt as if she was missing important parts of the story here but for now, she was just glad for the distraction.

"You'll need help," Lydia decided with a glance at Erica who gave her the indication of a nod. "Lots of help."

"We've planned everything," Stiles protested and started to list the things they had come up with. They wanted to use Derek's studio, decorated with Derek' work, and Stiles would make the invitations and place cards.

"What about the catering?" Lydia asked as if she was talking to a toddler. "The flowers? Music? A photographer? Derek, you can't photograph your own wedding."

Derek threw a helpless glance at Stiles. Obviously, they hadn't thought about any of this.

"Who's going to be your best man?" Erica took over. "Ring bearer? Flower girls? Who's going to walk who down the aisle?"

"Pixar," Stiles yelled, startling everyone. Even Derek gave him a puzzled look.

"What?" Boyd asked for all of them.

"You said this is going to be a movie night." Stiles was talking fast now. "To distract Abby." He gestured at her. "Because she needs distraction, she needs to be distracted from the things I'm not going to mention because that would be the opposite of distracting her. So Pixar it is. There's no better distraction when you're in need of some distraction."

"Stiles?" Derek said in a long-suffering voice. "Shut up."

 

Chapter Text

They got comfortable for watching the movie, Monster Inc, Erica had just picked the first Pixar movie Netflix offered, it didn't matter what they were watching, and then everybody fell quiet when the movie started.

Next to him, Stiles lifted his arm for Derek to duck under which he happily did. It took a moment to find a comfortable position for his still sore body but then he relaxed into Stiles' chest.

Out of the corner of his eye, he looked over to Abby and Haley who were wedged together in a similar position and for now, they looked content. Lydia was sitting on Abby's other side and it almost looked as if Abby was leaning into her.

Derek turned his attention back to the TV.

Only minutes into the movie Derek felt his eyes dropping. It had been a long day so he didn't fight it and just snuggled more firmly into Stiles.

"Dammit, Derek." He heard Stiles calling him while he was also shaking his shoulder but Derek was too comfy to move. His body was heavy and relaxed, he just wanted to sleep.

"Derek!" That was loud enough to startle him awake. At least enough for him to blink open his eyes. "It's time to go home."

Derek tried to make sense out of that, hadn't they already left the hotel?

"You can always crash on the couch," somebody said and it took him a moment to place that voice. Erica. Why was Erica here? Now Derek squinted into the room to find out what was going on.

"No, we have two perfectly fine beds available." Stiles gave his shoulder a harder push. "Plus, Josh keeps asking me when we'll be back, he wants to get rid of the pets." Another push, maybe Derek should start moving. In a minute. "And I really need to pee. Derek!"

Derek rubbed his face on Stiles' thigh, his lap made a great pillow, but with all the noise and the pushing, he was awake now. Mostly. Grumbling he came up and had a look around.

"Did I fall asleep?" He asked into the round. The TV was turned off and everybody was looking at him in clear amusement. Haley even had her phone out, taking pictures, no doubt.

"Move or I will pee all over you," Stiles threatened while he was angling for his chair which was a little out of reach. Especially since Derek was still lying on top of him.

Boyd took pity on him and moved the chair closer.

"See?" Stiles poked him in the side. "Boyd loves me more than you. I think I'm going to marry him instead of you."

Still not quite awake Derek didn't know what to say to that but he got up enough for Stiles to wiggle his way into his chair.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have kept you up this long," Abby spoke up while the others just watched with that amused expression still on their faces. Derek rubbed a hand down his face.

"What time is it?"

"Just past ten," Stiles answered and with a one-eighty on his back wheels, he was on his way to the bathroom. "Try to stay awake until I'm back."

"No promises," Derek muttered but by now he was awake enough to feel embarrassed for falling asleep like that. How he had ended up with his head in Stiles' lap he didn't know and he just hoped that he hadn't been drooling.

He ran a hand through his hair to find out if it was sticking up, it most likely did, but without a mirror, he couldn't tell.

"You look cute when you're sleeping." Lydia gave him a smile.

"Hope I didn't snore," Derek said and just hoped that the movie had covered up any noises he might have made. "Sorry, it's been a long day."

Abby was still looking at him as if it was her fault that he had fallen asleep like this. They'd had a long day, yes, and he had been sore and exhausted from what Stiles had put him through last night and this morning but it had been his decision to come here.

"You're going to pick up Abby from work tomorrow," Lydia informed him. Blindsided by the change of topic Derek just blinked at her.

"What?" He asked when she didn't explain herself.

Turned out that the movie had been over a while ago and that they had used the time to discuss how to handle Abby's situation. All over Derek's sleeping head in Stiles' lap.

Lydia had offered her guest room for as long as Abby and Haley needed it. Haley wouldn't go to school tomorrow but since Lydia had to work, the girl would spend the day with Stiles. After that, they would go back to their planned schedule where they would take turns to bring Haley to school and pick her up again.

Lydia would drop off Abby at work tomorrow and apparently it was Derek's job to pick her up in the afternoon.

"She needs to give her statement and you can pick up anything she needs from her place on your way back," Lydia finished her explanation.

Derek wasn't sure if he got everything but he just nodded. Pick up Abby in the afternoon, he could do that.

"Okay, I think we're heading out." Stiles had sneaked up on him. "I want him in a real bed before he dozes off again."

Derek glared at him but Stiles just grinned back.

However, that was the cue for all of them. Boyd had to open the store in the morning so he should go to bed soon and Abby just looked exhausted even if Derek doubted that she would sleep anytime soon. She and Haley would go with Lydia so they got up and gathered their things as well.

A round of goodbyes later Derek was in the car with Stiles.

"You think she's okay?" Derek asked.

"Most likely not," Stiles said grimly and started the car. "But she's not alone. That helps."

Abby had been alone after her husband died, he couldn't imagine how hard that had been. Especially with being a single parent with a suddenly mute child. And now this.

Jackson Whittemore came to mind. Derek didn't know the details about their past, Stiles had only given him the cliff-notes and those were bad enough, but the picture of Stiles lying on the floor of the gallery in his own blood, unmoving, that still haunted him. But at least Jackson hadn't stalked Stiles.

After that incident, Jackson had paid what he had to pay to make the charges go away and as far as Derek knew he was now in England. He wasn't a threat any longer.

Rick was still out there. The police were looking for him but until they got him, Abby wouldn't be able to go back to her normal life.

They picked up the pets from Derek's place but Stiles didn't even leave the car for that, they wanted to spend the night at Stiles'.

Josh had gotten the basics from Stiles and of course he had questions but Derek was dead on his feet and Josh had to hand in his assignment before midnight so Derek just gave him a quick update and the promise to explain everything once they both had a good night's sleep. Then he took Jack and Ginger and was out of the door again.

At his place, Stiles sent him ahead with Ginger while he took Jack for a last walk in the park.

Derek just dug his toiletries out of their bag, they hadn't even unpacked, made a quick run to the bathroom and then he slipped under the covers. He wanted to stay awake until Stiles was back but he didn't even hear the front door.

He was up before Lydia and Abby dropped Haley off in the morning, though.

"Did you have breakfast?" Derek asked, nursing his first coffee. His hair was still damp from his shower and he didn't have breakfast yet. He had been up and ready before they had shown up but barely. Stiles was still with Lydia and Abby at the door but Derek didn't catch what they were talking about.

Haley nodded to the breakfast question but her focus was on Jack to give him the best belly rub ever. Even Ginger came over to get some scratches as well.

Abby came in to kiss Haley goodbye and to tell her to not bother them too much.

"Did you tell Stiles the same?" Derek asked which got him a "Hey!" from his fiance.

"Okay, what do you want to do today?" Stiles came over once Abby and Lydia had left. Haley just shrugged, her fingers still buried in Jack's thick fur. Ginger had gotten comfortable in the hollow of her crossed legs and it didn't look as if Haley would get up anytime soon. Or as if she wanted to.

Having a closer look at her, Derek noticed the shadows under her eyes and her whole posture said that she wanted to be left alone.

Letting her be for the moment, Derek and Stiles returned to their breakfast.

After they had cleared the table, Derek got their bag they had left next to the door. There wasn't much to unpack, it had been a short trip, but Derek wanted to start the laundry. At least one pair of his underwear was stiff with sweat and precome and he had come stains on a shirt.

While Derek did that, Stiles tried to engage Haley in drawing or a game or whatever she liked but she just shook her head to everything he suggested.

In the end, she typed something on her phone and after that Stiles left her alone and set up his laptop and drawing tablet to get some work done, it looked like.

By the time Derek had started the washing machine, Haley was still content with playing with the pets so he followed suit and got his laptop as well.

He needed to go through the photos he'd taken at the club but that had to wait until Haley wasn't around, he did not want her to get an eyeful. However, he still had some emails to write and there was always something to do on social media. Cursing Stiles for introducing him to that, Derek went to check on Instagram. He wasn't the most active person on the internet but he knew that it was part of his job.

An hour went by without him noticing and when he looked up the next time, Haley had fallen asleep. Lying on the floor with one arm around Jack and Ginger sleeping on her hip.

Derek looked over to Stiles who was watching the trio as well.

Abby says she had a nightmare last night, Stiles shot him a message to not wake her. Doubt either of them got much sleep

Figured that much, Derek wrote back and since he already had his phone in hand, he snapped a picture. After a moment of consideration, he forwarded it to Abby.

He got an awww back a second later.

Since Haley was sleeping Derek dared to open the folder with the pictures of the show and he got some work done until Haley woke up around noon.

Stiles made them sandwiches for lunch. Haley only nibbled at hers but they didn't push it.

"I'm taking Jack for a walk," Derek proclaimed when they had finished their lunch. "You wanna come?"

Haley didn't even look at him and just shook her head.

They could run into Rick out there. It wasn't likely but it was possible, Derek got that so he just grabbed the leash and left with Jack.

When he left the building, he couldn't help a look around, searching for Rick. He didn't see him but he might have followed Abby to Stiles' place. He might even know that Haley was here.

Shaking off the paranoid thoughts, Derek grabbed the leash tighter and headed over to the park. However, he was kind of glad that Haley hadn't come with them. He would be even more paranoid with her around. And that was only a fraction of what Abby must feel right now.

Sensing that something was off, Jack stayed mostly at Derek's side and after he'd finished his business, the dog seemed as eager to go home as Derek.

At least when they got back, they found Stiles and Haley huddled over Stiles' laptop. From this angle, Derek couldn't see the screen but it was good to see her more alive.

Derek let Jack off the leash and since Stiles was entertaining Haley, he went back to work until it was time to pick up Abby.

 

Chapter Text

Abby didn't sleep at all that night. She was lying with Haley in her arms in Lydia's guest bed while her mind was racing. Haley had fallen asleep a while ago but for Abby sleep didn't come. Every time she closed her eyes, she was back home, the shaking bathroom door in her back while she was screaming that she was calling the police.

She still felt Rick's hand around her ankle and only now she realized how close she had been to getting killed. Rick had been out of it.

Biting back a cry she drew Haley closer.

At one point, Haley grew restless and started to cry in her sleep. On some level, Abby was glad for her nightmare, focusing on Haley took her mind off her own nightmares for a little while.

"Shh." Abby stroked Haley's hair. "I'm here, it's okay, I'm here."

Haley didn't wake up for real but she was crying and mumbling under her breath and when Abby closed her arms around her, she clung to her and cried into her chest. Abby didn't know for how long they had been lying like this but eventually, Haley calmed down and fell into a deeper sleep. However, she was far from sleeping peacefully. She was constantly moving in her sleep, tossing and turning so much that Abby eventually fled the bed and got comfortable in the small chair in the corner of the room. She wouldn't be able to sleep anyway.

For a while, she tried to distract herself on her phone but in the end, she just sat there and kept an eye on Haley until it was time to wake her up.

"Long night?" Lydia asked over their first coffee.

"Didn't sleep at all," Abby admitted. Lydia had made them breakfast, again, and in her mind, Abby was wondering what she should pay her for letting them stay at her place. And the others. They all had agreed to take turns, picking up Haley from school. Stiles and Derek would look after her daughter all day again.

"I'm sorry." Abby rolled her cup of coffee between her hands. "I didn't mean to bother you with my problems. All of you."

"Hey." Lydia reached for her shoulder. "Nothing of that. You're our friend, of course we're here for you."

Abby felt tears welling up in her eyes and she had to swallow against the lump in her throat.

"Oh, and when you're at your place, check the mail. We can go over those papers from your lawyer together," Lydia said. "Let's get that part over with."

Abby doubted that Rick would back off even if the money was officially hers and transferred into her account but it would be good to have at least the paperwork out of the way.

"If he hasn't stolen it again," Abby said grimly.

They dropped off Haley at Stiles' who assured her that it was no problem, he liked having Haley around. And he promised that they wouldn't let Haley walk Jack alone, one of them would constantly be around.

It still wasn't easy to leave Haley out of her sight, though.

Lydia drove her the office and after a quick goodbye, Abby walked briskly into the building. Inside she breathed a little easier. At least she didn't have a viewing scheduled for today, she had no idea how she would handle those in the future. It would be way too easy for Rick to corner her in an empty apartment.

Putting that off for later, Abby walked into the office and put her purse in her chair. She already had a coffee this morning but with the lack of sleep, she needed more.

"Aren't you a bit old for partying in the middle of the week?" Karen was next to her only seconds later. "You look awful."

"Didn't sleep." Abby gritted out and poked her in the side to get her moving away from the coffee maker.

"I can see that." Karen gave her a disapproving look but moved out of the way so that Abby could fill her cup.

"The party as you call it." Abby spat the words right into Karen's face. She was so done with her. "Was my brother-in-law. He came by yesterday because thanks to some bitch who told him my address he knows where I live."

Karen flinched back but Abby wasn't done.

"He almost killed me." She was shaking with rage now, hot coffee spilling all over her hand but she didn't really notice. "I barely escaped through the fucking bathroom window while he tried to drag me back by my ankle. That was one hell of a party!"

Karen had backed off until her back hit the wall but Abby moved with her.

"Just leave me the fuck alone!"

For once Karen was speechless. Good.

Abby slammed her half-empty cup on the counter and then she hurried to the bathroom. Once she was alone, dry sobs escaped her lips and she was shaking.

Running cold water over her hand she tried to compose herself but one look in the mirror told her that Karen was right, she did look awful. She let the water run over her hand for a long minute before she dared to have a real look at it. It was still tender but it didn't look like she had burned herself, at least that. Abby splashed some water into her face but then she just stood there, hands braced on the rim of the sink, breathing hard.

She probably should have taken the day off but she couldn't miss another day. So she took a deep breath, dried her face and had a look at her hair. A few strands had escaped her bun but it wasn't too bad. Besides, she wouldn't see any clients in person today anyway, it was just her and Karen, so she decided that she didn't give a fuck.

Feeling slightly better, she left the restroom, fixed herself a new coffee and then she sat down at her desk with a sigh. While the computer came to life she took a sip of her coffee with closed eyes.

You can do this, she told herself.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Karen at the other desk who tried really hard to not look in her direction while at the same time she kept throwing her glances. Abby just ignored her and opened the first email.

The morning went by in silence which was just fine with Abby. Karen was giving her the cold shoulder but that way she got some work done. However, she had to schedule some viewings for the next few days. At least one would be with Stiles and Derek which was fine but the others would be with strangers where she would have to get to the place and leave it alone. What if Rick followed her from the office?

Abby guessed that she could ask Derek to come along for at least one or two, he and Stiles were the ones with the most flexible schedules among her friends, and she still didn't know why she suddenly had this many friends, but that wasn't a long term solution.

Lydia picked her up for lunch. She worked not that far away and she had insisted on taking her out for lunch.

"Do you want to be stuck in the office with your co-worker while you eat your brought in lunch?" Lydia had asked when Abby had said that she wanted to prepare lunch in the morning so she wouldn't have to leave the office for that.

Lydia was right, though, leaving the office felt good. The atmosphere had been suffocating all morning even if Karen's silent treatment had helped her productivity.

They went to that place just down the street Abby had been to a few times but this time they took the time to sit down.

"How was your morning?" Lydia tried to get some small talk going but that was exactly the topic Abby didn't want to talk about. Karen and Rick, she didn't want to think about either of them right now.

"I have an apartment I want to show to Stiles and Derek," she said instead and made a mental note to mention it to Derek later so they could set up an appointment. With what they had planned for the rest of the day she might forget about it otherwise.

"What kind of place is it?" Lydia didn't push the other thing and just let her talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. Abby gave her a summary but Lydia had to promise to not tell them anything.

"I don't want them to go in there with expectations." She thought that the place was perfect for Stiles and Derek but it came with a hinge or two and she wasn't sure how they would take that.

"Of course not."

The rest of her lunch break they talked about easy stuff, the sandwich Lydia was having reminded her of one she had at another place which she had to show Abby at one point. "This is good but wait until you taste the other one. To die for." Lydia underlined the last words with a gesture.

"Only if I pay," Abby said because Lydia had insisted that lunch today was on her.

"Fair enough," Lydia agreed easily. "You can take me out."

"You make it sound like a date." Abby felt herself blush. She tucked a stray strand behind her ear.

"I don't think a date would be a good idea at the moment," Lydia said and plucked a small chunk off her sandwich with her fingers. "Not while this thing with Rick is going on. But after that ...?" She gestured with the bite at Abby before she put it in her mouth. Abby couldn't help but stare at her lips closing around her fingers.

"At the moment I'm your friend," Lydia clarified. "You and Haley can stay at my place as long as you need because we're friends. Not because I want to get in your pants." She emphasized the last words with a stern look. "You don't owe me. For none of this."

Abby came back from her lunch break with something else on her mind than Rick and what had happened yesterday. The afternoon was not as productive as the morning but that was okay, she was almost done with her paperwork anyway.

Her mind was on Lydia. They went along really well and Abby liked her a lot. She was the only client she remembered from that early time right after Marvin. That had to mean something, right?

However, Abby wasn't sure if she was ready to dip into the dating pool already. And with a woman. She'd never thought of women this way. If anybody had asked her this morning if she was straight, she would have said yes. Now she wasn't so sure any longer. She was considering going on a date with Lydia, did that already count as bi? How did one know?

Maybe she should ask Derek, he was bi after all.

The next time Abby glanced at the clock, it was almost time to go home. Just that she wouldn't go home. Not today and not anytime soon. That brought her mind back from her maybe gay crisis to the statement she would have to give to the police soon. Last night everything had played in a loop in her mind and she didn't want to start that again but she had to tell the police in detail what had happened. She had to.

By the time Derek came into the office, she had steeled herself for the visit to the police station.

"What's he doing here?" Karen asked when Derek came in. It was the first Abby had heard from her all day except for the occasional phone call she'd made.

"He's here to pick me up because my brother-in-law might be waiting outside for me," Abby said coldly and grabbed her purse. She was more than ready to get out of here.

Derek gave her a raised eyebrow at that comment and for a second Abby shook her head to tell him that it was nothing but something in Karen's voice was rubbing her the wrong way. As if Derek was something beneath her.

"Karen here is the one who told Rick my new address," Abby told him to which Karen shrank into her chair. She opened her mouth to say something but she was cut off by Derek, bellowing: "You did what?"

 

Chapter Text

They had agreed that Derek would come inside to pick Abby up, nobody wanted for her to wait outside for him, so that's what he did. He had kind of hoped that Karen had left for the day by then, though. But no such luck.

Derek ignored Karen's snide comment when he walked in and kept his eyes on Abby. But then she dropped the bomb that it had been Karen who had given Rick her address.

"You did what?" Derek couldn't help but yell at Karen. He knew that she was a bitch but that she would go this far …

Karen shrank into her chair, looking up at him with fearful rabbit eyes while he was looming over her. Derek crossed his arms over his chest and just glared at her.

"I'm going to call the police!" she shrieked but didn't even reach for the phone. "You're not allowed in here."

"He is a client of mine." Abby stepped up next to him and put a hand on his upper arm. "And he's a friend who's here to pick me up, he is allowed in here."

"He's threatening me." Karen scrambled out of the chair and backed off until she had the chair and her desk between herself and Derek. Derek just kept staring her down.

"He's leaving now." Abby put force into her hand on his arm to get him to back down but for a long second, Derek didn't move.

"Derek," Abby hissed.

Without a word, he turned on his heel and marched out of the office, Abby right on his heel. She kept her posture until they were out on the street but then she dissolved in laughter.

"Have you seen her face?" She gasped between fits of giggles, now clinging to his arm for another reason. "You scared the shit out of her."

Derek couldn't help a smile himself, it had been satisfying, he couldn't deny that.

"Damn, that feels good." Abby took a breath and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

"Did she really tell Rick your address?" He still couldn't believe it. There were things one just didn't do. Giving out private information was very high on that list but it looked like Karen had a different list.

"He came into the office and talked to her," Abby confirmed. "She thinks he's a nice guy."

"Nice guys are the worst." Derek huffed.

Abby nodded to that but it did seem to remind her that they were out in the open while said nice guy was still around and maybe watching them right now. She had a nervous look around and only relaxed again when they were in the car.

"I hate this," she said, fighting with her emotions. There wasn't much Derek could say to that so he just started the car.

Their first stop was the police station.

Derek went inside with her but Abby had to give her statement alone while Derek had to wait outside the office. He had no idea how long things like this usually took so he settled in for a wait but roughly fifteen minutes later Abby came back out.

Their eyes met and his question of how it went died on Derek's lips. She had been crying again and her face looked ashen so he didn't say a word and just escorted her out. Out of an impulse he put his arm around her shoulders and to his surprise she melted into his side.

"Do you want to stop by your place?" Derek asked once they were back in the car. "You don't have to. Not now. You can make a list and I'll pick up what you need."

She thought about that for a moment but then she squared her shoulders and told him to make that stop.

For some reason, Derek had expected to find the front door kicked in with the lock busted but the door was whole and Abby opened it with her key as usual.

"Can you go in first?" Abby asked in a small voice. The keys were jiggling in her hand from shaking.

Derek just nodded and walked past her. He had been here only a few times, most of the time Abby and Haley came over to Stiles' place, but he knew his way around. He felt Abby coming in behind him but she stayed close to the front door while he moved farther into the apartment.

At first glance, everything looked normal but then he noticed the carpet that had folded up as if somebody had slipped on it in a hurry. A chair on the floor.

He could picture Abby, running from the intruder. Maybe she had thrown the chair in his way to slow him down.

The bathroom door did look like the one from Shining, though. It had been kicked in with the wood around the lock splintered but it also had dents and spots where somebody had kicked it. There was a long crack in the middle. Not a hole like in the movie but close enough.

With a long arm, Derek pushed the door open. The bathroom looked like a battlefield. The small cabinet next to the door had toppled over, there were towels and bottles on the floor. A shampoo bottle must have hit the wall and had spilled all over the bathtub. The mirror was broken and there were more bottles and containers in the sink.

Derek's gaze fell on the small window above the toilet. He wouldn't fit through there, that much was clear. How Abby had managed to squeeze through he had no idea.

"It's okay." Derek came out of the bathroom and closed the door as best as possible. "Nobody here."

Abby had inched forward but had stopped at the end of the hallway. The way she was looking around, she was vividly reliving what had happened here yesterday.

"Abby?" Derek asked in a low voice to not spook her.

"Yeah." She visibly pulled herself together. "I'm fine."

She wasn't, that much was obvious but Derek didn't call her out on it. Instead, he steered her over to the bedroom so that she could pack a bag.

While she packed clothes for herself and Haley, Derek hurried back to the bathroom to take care of at last the worst. He couldn't do much about the broken mirror but he could set up the cabinet and put things back where they belonged.

He would offer to get the toiletries for her but he doubted that he knew what she needed and it would be quicker if she got her things herself.

Abby packed clothes and Haley's school stuff along with some of her drawing materials and a few books and other things Haley might want to play with while they stayed at Lydia's. Derek doubted that Lydia had much to occupy an eleven-year-old with.

Then Abby stood in front of the closed again bathroom door.

"I can …," Derek offered but he knew that Abby wouldn't take him up on it.

"I got this," she said and then she marched into the bathroom as if she was going into battle. Derek stayed back to give her some space.

They packed everything into Abby's car and then Derek followed her over to Stiles' place. She did still look shaken up when Derek joined her in the parking lot. Before they entered Stiles' place, however, she took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her face.

The second she stood in the door, Haley came over running and then they were just hugging. It looked almost painful how tightly they were clinging to each other and Derek hurried to move deeper into the apartment in search for Stiles.

Looked like they had another drawing session, the table was cluttered with papers and markers but Stiles was already tidying up.

"How did it go?" Stiles asked in a low voice.

"As well as expected." Derek glanced over to them. "She tries to keep it together. How are things with Haley?"

"Pretty much the same." Stiles pointed at the pictures Haley had drawn. Usually, those were happy and colorful but today they were dark with lots of black and disturbing things.

"I totally forgot." Abby came over to them with Haley tucked into her side. "I have an apartment I want to show you. Tomorrow?"

They agreed on a time and Abby gave them the address.

"We can pick up Haley from school and then head over." Stiles nodded to himself. "Sorry sweety, you'll be stuck with doing the viewing with us instead of walking Jack in the meantime."

Haley just shrugged and with that, it was settled.

Lydia came by half an hour later, just on time for dinner.

They had dinner together and it was less downing than Derek had expected. Stiles and Lydia kept a light chatter going and it didn't matter that the rest of them were more quiet.

After dinner, Abby thanked him again for driving her around today and Stiles for keeping an eye on Haley and then they left with Lydia.

"Long day." Stiles had moved over to the couch and was now trying to arrange his legs in a comfortable way. Derek sat down next to him and in a swift move, he swirled Stiles around to put his feet in his lap. Stiles yelped in surprise but relaxed when Derek started to massage his calves and feet.

For a long moment neither of them spoke except for the comfortable noises Stiles was making but then he broke the silence.

"What's up with Abby and Lydia?" Stiles asked.

"What do you mean?" Derek ran his thumb along the arch of Stiles' foot.

"Abby hasn't said a word to her and she was almost desperately not looking at her."

Derek hadn't noticed that but he took Stiles' word for it. Stiles did notice stuff like that.

"Maybe she's uncomfortable with imposing on Lydia like this," he offered.

"Maybe." Stiles didn't sound convinced but now Derek was working his way up his calves which put his mind on other things. "What ya doing?"

"Massaging your legs," Derek said innocently and made a point of going back below the knee.

Stiles gave him a skeptical look but then he shot upright.

"Shit!" His legs spasmed under Derek's hand. "You're still wearing the cage."

Derek just blinked at him. He also had forgotten about the cage.

"It's fine." Carefully Derek smoothed Stiles' legs back down and started again to massage the hard strands of muscle. "That's not what I had in mind."

However, since Stiles had mentioned the cage, he was suddenly very aware of the hard plastic trapping him.

"We don't have to do anything," Derek assured him. He hadn't been aiming for anything here and it had been a long day, they both were exhausted. "You can take it off or I wear it for a little while longer, whatever you want. It's okay."

Stiles studied him for a long second before he settled back.

"Take care of my legs and then I'll take care of you."

"As you wish."

By the time Derek was done with Stiles' legs the tension had melted out of them and they were lying almost naturally. Derek put a blanket over them to keep them warm before he leaned back himself. It did have been a long day especially since he didn't have the time to fully recover from their weekend.

"You did good." Stiles broke the silence. His speech was slurred and he sounded half-asleep but now he blinked his eyes open and the look he was giving Derek was not sleepy at all. It made his throat dry up and gave him a butterfly feeling in his stomach.

Derek lowered his eyes, waiting for what Stiles wanted to do with him now.

"You've been so good, wearing your cage for so long," Stiles praised him and Derek felt heat creeping into his cheeks. "Get ready. I want you naked on the bed. On your front, you earned yourself a reward."

"Thank you."

Carefully Derek slipped out from under Stiles' legs and then he walked stiffly over to the bathroom to get ready for whatever Stiles had in mind. His cock was straining against the cage but he doubted that Stiles would release him right away.

Derek got in position on the bed but Stiles took his sweet time, joining him. Which he did on purpose, that bastard.

Then, finally, Derek heard movement at the door and the telltale noise of a zipper. Stiles was getting something from their toy bag. Derek didn't lift his head to find out what he was getting, though.

However, the following silence felt wrong.

"Stiles?" Derek finally asked and turned around to find out what was keeping him.

"This is not how I packed the bag," Stiles finally said. For a long moment, Derek stared at him while he tried to comprehend what he'd just said.

Then he dropped back face-first into the pillow.

"Hope he sanitized them," he mumbled into the fabric. He was going to strangle his cousin.

 

Chapter Text

After dinner at Stiles' Abby and Haley got into the car and followed Lydia over to her place where Lydia helped them to get their things out of the trunk.

It felt strange to see that all their belongings fit in one small trunk. It wasn't all of their belongings but close enough.

"Don't worry if you forgot something," Lydia said and took one of the bags. "We can stop by your place anytime."

"Yes, I got all of your school books," Abby assured Haley when her daughter showed her her phone with a question. Which reminded her that Haley would go to school tomorrow. She didn't like it but Haley couldn't stay home forever. At least there was always somebody to drive her.

They didn't unpack right away and just stored everything in the guest room. It was still early but neither of them had slept much so when Abby told Haley to get ready for bed, she only put up a token protest.

Half an hour later, Haley was sound asleep in the guest room.

"Tea?" Lydia came over with two big mugs. They were still steaming so Abby took hers carefully, she wasn't keen on repeating her accident with the coffee. Which felt like a lifetime ago.

"Thanks." She blew on the hot liquid and just let the warmth seep through the ceramic into her palms. Lately, her hands were always cold.

"Long day?" Lydia asked, most likely just to not let the silence last for too long.

Abby nodded, not sure if she wanted to talk about her day. Giving her statement at been an ordeal and going back to her apartment had been worse. At least Derek had been with her, that had helped.

And now she was here, on Lydia's couch with Lydia sitting right next to her with one leg tucked under, and had no idea how to deal with her.

"Do you want to go over those papers?" Lydia asked. "Or we can watch some TV."

Paperwork was the last thing she wanted to do right now but since Abby had the papers, she wanted to get it over with. To her surprise, she had found a thick envelope in her mailbox. If Rick had missed his chance to steal it or if he hadn't even tried she didn't know but she had it now which felt like a small victory.

"I'll get it." With a sigh, Abby set her tea aside and went to get the papers.

It looked more intimidating than it actually was, the places were she had to sign were marked and there were only a few other things she had to fill in, but she dealt with contracts daily so she read everything carefully before she signed it. Especially since she couldn't be sure if Rick hadn't switched some pages. She doubted that he would think of something like that, stealing her mail was more his thing, but she read every page thoroughly nevertheless.

Lydia didn't push her to hurry and instead took every page she was done with and read it herself.

"Looks legit," Lydia said once she was done with the final page. "You'll be able to live comfortably for quite a while, even without counting in the property, and you'll still be able to send Haley to college."

Abby could only nod to that. She had known that they were talking about a lot of money here but having the numbers right in front of her … she felt a bit light-headed.

"You look like you need something stronger than just tea." Lydia gave her an amused look and got up to get a bottle.

"Not so much." Abby tried to stop her when she spiced their teas with a good amount of rum but when Lydia raised her mug in a salute, Abby clunked her mug against hers.

"Have you thought about the property part yet?" Lydia asked once they had gotten comfortable again.

Abby let out a sigh and took another sip before she answered. Warmth spread in her stomach and she was pretty sure that she would be able to sleep tonight.

"It's two states over, I don't think I want to keep it." She would have to buy Rick's part if she wanted it for herself and she didn't want to give him any money. Especially not for property she hadn't even seen and for which she didn't have any use. "If Rick wants it, he can buy my part but the easiest way would be to just sell it and make fifty-fifty."

"Sounds good." Lydia snuggled deeper into the cushions. Watching her made Abby relax as well and a minute later they were sitting at opposite ends of the couch, both snuggled in the corner where the arm met the back of the couch with their legs stretched out. Their legs were touching but it didn't feel weird.

After what Lydia had said over lunch had made Abby fear that things would become awkward between them but here they were, enjoying a quiet moment on the couch. Slowly sipping her spiced tea, Abby felt herself relax even more until her eyes started to drop. The lack of sleep was catching up on her. But she was too comfy to move.

When she woke up, she was alone on the couch and the room was dark. Abby rubbed her face and sat up, for a moment not sure where she was. Lydia had draped a blanket over her, she noticed and for some reason that gave her a little butterfly feeling.

It was just after midnight so Abby went to the bathroom as quietly as possible to not wake Lydia and then she slipped into bed with Haley. So far no nightmares, looked like Haley was getting a good night's sleep as well.

In the morning Abby dropped Haley off at school herself before she drove to the office. Lydia had offered to drive her but Abby had declined.

"I can't hide all the time," she had said. "He's not going to dominate my life."

Besides, the papers were in the mail now. Maybe once that was over and done, Rick would give up. Who knew, he might be back home already. Since he'd showed up at her door, Abby hadn't seen him. Which didn't have to mean anything.

Karen had called in sick today. That information alone made her day.

Being alone in the office did feel strange, though. Karen was always there, she was never sick or late and most of the time she was still behind her desk by the time Abby left. The only time Karen wasn't in the office was when she had a viewing but she didn't have that many. Abby wasn't even sure what Karen did all day but since she didn't need the money, she didn't have to bring in as many contracts as Abby, she guessed.

Like promised, Abby shot Lydia a message that she had arrived safely. After a moment she added that Karen wasn't in with a big smiley at the end.

It led to Lydia bringing her lunch which they had in the office.

Without any distractions Abby was almost done with her work for the day, the only thing she had to do today was the viewing she had scheduled with Stiles and Derek later.

"How do you feel about the viewings?" Lydia asked carefully. "I doubt you'll have any trouble with Stiles and Derek but with others …"

Abby had thought about that as well. She had two viewings tomorrow and she had made more scheduled the following days.

"As I said, I can't hide and I can't just put my life on halt." Abby used her napkin and balled up the wrapper of her sandwich. "But I'm thinking about pepper-spray and maybe a taser."

"Don't think about it, get those." Lydia gave her a stern look.

Abby left the office half an hour earlier, not that anybody would know, and made a little detour before she drove over to where she would meet Stiles and Derek who had picked up Haley from school on their way.

When Abby left the car to greet Haley, her purse felt heavy but she did feel better with the can of pepper-spray in there. She had gotten a small key-chain one for Haley as well but that had to wait until they were home again. Or rather at Lydia's place.

Stiles always needed a moment to get his chair out of the car but today Abby had the suspicion that he was giving her and Haley some extra time to hug it out. Usually they didn't hug this much but lately, Haley was clinging to her whenever they had been separated for a few hours. Not that Abby minded, she was hugging back just as fiercely.

However, she was here on a job, she wanted to sell an apartment, so when Stiles and Derek came over, Abby switched to professionalism.

She gave them a quick summary of the neighborhood and the building itself while they walked over to the entrance. Haley followed on her heel but she got that this was not the time to play around. The way she was hanging on Abby's lips she might even be interested in what was happening here.

"It's the penthouse," Abby said and pushed the button on the elevator. Neither Stiles nor Derek seemed to notice that she wasn't pushing the button at the top but they would get to that.

"Penthouse in a good neighborhood," Stiles summed it up "Why is this still on the market? Where is the catch?"

So much for getting to that later.

"There are two, actually," Abby admitted. "But please, let me show it to you first. I think at least one of them might be a benefit for you."

The elevator opened to a short hallway with only one door at the end.

The apartment itself had two bedrooms, one could become Stiles' office, an open kitchen, a big living room, and a bathroom that was more than big enough for Stiles to move around in with a bathtub and a separate shower.

Abby showed them around, pointing out the highlights, and she ended the little tour in the living room with the big windows looking over the neighborhood.

"This is very nice." Derek nodded to himself. "But it's missing a room for Josh."

"I could set up my office over there." Stiles pointed at a corner of the living room but he didn't look happy with that idea.

"There is one more room," Abby spoke up. "That's one of the catches. The attic is part of the apartment."

Now Stiles and Derek had a confused look around, searching for a way up to the attic.

"We have to use the elevator," Abby said. "I'll show you."

They went back out to the elevator and now Abby did push the button at the top.

"The owner has remodeled the attic, it's now a guest room," she explained. "It's basically just a big room with a bathroom on the side."

Getting the facilities for the bathroom set up had been such a pain in the ass, at least according to the owner, he hadn't even bothered with a kitchen. Which meant that he couldn't rent it separately and most people didn't want to pay extra for a guestroom that was barely in use. And it was quite far away from the rest of the apartment.

"But it should be perfect for Josh," Abby finished her explanation right when the doors of the elevator opened. There was no hallway here, they stepped right into the room. There was a door at the side and more of the big windows but otherwise, it was just one big, empty room.

"Josh won't live with you forever," Abby reminded them while she ushered them out of the elevator. "He'll move out eventually and then you can use it for yourself. There's lots of space, it has its own bathroom and there's a whole floor between you and your next neighbor."

Stiles had been on his way to the window but now he turned on his back wheels, staring at her.

"Did you just suggest to set up a playroom up here?"

Abby threw a glance at Haley, she should have told her to stay downstairs but here she was, listening with interest.

"Well," Abby said and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I might have done some research and I've seen Derek's latest pictures." The pictures of that show had been astonishing even if the subject was not exactly her cup of tea. "Heard that there is furniture that needs some space."

"That's one way to put it." Derek shook his head but the way he was looking at the room now had something calculating to it. Same with Stiles.

What are they going to play in here? Haley asked and Abby just wondered what she'd done wrong to deserve this. She didn't know much about this herself. Her research had ended after she had seen a few pictures on Google.

"Maybe you should ask Stiles," Abby suggested and gave her an encouraging push in Stiles' direction. It was a coward move and she most likely would regret it in a second but Stiles was better equipped to explain this.

Stiles almost fell out of his chair when Haley showed him her question on her phone.

 

Chapter Text

Derek didn't know what Haley was asking Stiles but judging by his reaction it was something not kid-friendly. Given what Abby just had implied about the future use of this room, it wasn't that hard to guess.

"Yeah … ehm … well …," Stiles stammered with a helpless glance in Derek's direction. "Derek and I like to play some adult games."

Oh, that made sense.

Haley thought about that for a moment before she typed another message.

"Yeah, Derek loves to play catch."

Derek choked on his own spit while Abby made a strangled noise. Stiles, on the other hand, looked way too proud of his pun. Their reactions, however, did clue in Haley that there was more to this, she was already typing on her phone again.

Derek fled to the elevator before he had to listen to Stiles explaining their sex life to an eleven-year-old. Abby joined him in the elevator.

"Nice move," Derek had to admit. "Throwing her at Stiles."

"I'm not so sure about that." Abby gave the closed door a skeptical look.

"What do you think? About this place?"Abby changed the topic.

"It's almost too perfect," he said after a long moment. The main apartment was exactly what he and Stiles were looking for, there was enough room for them and the pets, Stiles would even get his own office, and with the separate guest room, they had the perfect place for Josh. He would eat with them anyway so the lack of a kitchen was not a problem. And Abby had a point with the possibility of turning it into a playroom later.

"You said there's another catch?"

The doors opened and the walked over to the main apartment.

"The owner doesn't use it himself and it's not easy to find a tenant, he wants to sell it. You would have to buy it," Abby said.

"We can't just buy an apartment." They both had a bit of money on the side but Derek was already using his college money for the studio and he doubted that the money Stiles had gotten from that thing with Jackson was enough to buy an apartment. And even if, he didn't want Stiles to buy it alone, he wanted to give his share as well. It was supposed to be theirs.

"We can't." Derek shook his head with a sad look around. It was perfect. "We don't have that much money."

Abby raised a hand to stop him.

"He really wants to get rid of it so he's willing to let you pay it off by rent," she said and when she noticed his confused look, she explained: "You pay rent, a little higher than usual but only slightly over your budget, for a few years and it's yours. And since it's going to be yours anyway the owner doesn't care about things like pets."

That was an interesting option.

"I have to talk to Stiles about this." This was nothing he could decide alone. "I take we have time to sleep over it?"

"People are not lining up for it," Abby assured him. She had a look at the ceiling. "Do you think I need to rescue my daughter?"

"Stiles is a teacher and he's good with kids," Derek said but he followed her gaze upward. It had been a few minutes by now. Stiles could say a lot in a few minutes.

Right when they were about to come to Haley's rescue, the elevator dinged and a moment later Stiles and Haley joined them. Derek didn't dare to ask, neither did Abby, but Haley was happily skipping along next to Stiles and didn't look traumatized at all.

They parted not much later, Abby and Haley would spend the night at Lydia's again while Stiles drove them over to Derek's place. They wanted to have dinner there and Derek still needed to have a serious talk with Josh about using other people's toys which he'd dodged all day.

"Buying via rent sounds interesting," Stiles mused when they had to wait at a red light. "We'll have to crunch some numbers but it should be possible."

Derek nodded to that. He liked that place, it was perfect for them, and owning it eventually was tempting.

"Let's have dinner, you talk to Josh, we sleep over the apartment thing and decide in the morning," Stiles decided with a hint of dom in his voice. "And in the afternoon, we're going to hammer out the details of our wedding." He threw him a glance. "You're not going to drag this out any longer, you have to make some decisions."

Derek groaned but Stiles was right. And he was also right that Derek needed a little push to not drag it out for longer than necessary. But he still had no idea what to do with his mother.

He hadn't seen her or had spoken to her since he'd kicked her out and he had no idea where she stood right now.

"You make those decisions and you won't have to think about anything for the rest of the day." Stiles reached over and hooked two fingers under Derek's collar. "Color?"

Derek swallowed against the tightness around his throat.

"Green."

"Good." Stiles gave the collar a sharp tug to drive his point home before he let go of him.

Making up his mind, Derek took out his phone.

Should I invite Mom to the wedding? He wrote and after a long second, he sent the message to Laura. After another second of consideration, he sent the same message to Peter. By now his whole family knew about the wedding but so far nobody had contacted him about it, which he was grateful for but it was kind of odd.

"Hmm?" Stiles made and not so subtly tried to have a look at the screen.

"I just asked Laura and Peter if I should invite Mom," Derek said before Stiles could drive them onto the sidewalk in his attempt to have a look.

"It's going to be interesting either way."

"Understatement." With a sigh Derek put the phone away.

They found Josh busy with his second assignment this week and since Derek wanted to at least have a relaxed dinner, he didn't force the talk on him just yet. While Stiles started dinner, Derek took Jack for a walk, leaving Stiles to fill in Josh on Abby, they hadn't spoken about Rick yet, and on the possible apartment.

After dinner, Derek didn't have any more excuses and he wanted to get it over with so he just jerked his head for his cousin to follow him.

"We need to talk," Derek said while behind him Stiles slipped into the bedroom to give them some privacy.

"What about?" Suddenly nervous Josh didn't know what to do with his hands, he was fiddling with the hem of his shirt. "I'll clear the coffee table in a minute, I'm just in the middle of something there. And I was about to start the laundry."

"It's not that." Derek shook his head and took the chair while he gestured for Josh to sit down on the couch. Reluctantly Josh sat down.

"When Stiles had a look at our bag with toys yesterday, he noticed that things weren't as he'd left them," Derek said. That had been one hell of a cock block. He had been eager for whatever Stiles had in store for him and then that. In the end, Stiles had just taken off the cage and they had moved over to the couch for some TV.

"I can explain!" Josh almost yelled. "I was curious, okay?"

"Did you use something?"

Josh couldn't look him in the eye but he jerked his head in a nod.

"The flogger," he finally admitted in a small voice. "And that thing to squish your balls?"

"Nothing else?" Derek asked. "One of the plugs?" Because that would just be nasty.

Josh shook his head.

"I had a look at them but they're so big." He glanced at Derek. "How can you …? I mean there's no way those can possibly fit, even the smallest one. And this big thing." He imitated the size of the biggest plug with his hands. "That's just .. wow, man."

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose, this was not the direction he had anticipated this conversation to go. But at least the ball crusher were easy to sanitize. He would have thrown away the plugs if they had been anywhere near Josh's asshole. Which was something he really didn't want to think about.

"Are you okay?" Derek asked. "You didn't hurt yourself, did you?" In an inexperienced hand, a flogger could hurt more than intended, especially if Josh had used it on himself. And the ball crusher was not something to start with.

"It hurt," Josh admitted. "A lot. I think my balls are still bruised and I didn't even tighten it that much." He adjusted himself in his pants but withdrew his hand quickly when he remembered that Derek was still sitting across from him.

"Derek, I'm sorry." He did sound sorry. "I shouldn't have done that, I know. I don't even know why I looked in that bag. I'll replace it, okay?"

Derek sighed.

"Stiles has some ointment if you need it," he finally offered. "And it's okay, I can sanitize the ball crusher and we wanted to get another flogger or two anyway."

"You're not mad?" Josh sounded so hopeful that Derek finally realized that he had thought that Derek would kick him out.

"Just don't touch that bag again." He stood. "And if you want some toys of your own, I know a good store."

Josh gave him a skeptical look but didn't say anything to that.

"But if you have questions, no matter how embarrassing you think they are, just ask, okay?" Derek told him to which Josh gave him a reluctant nod. "Okay, Stiles and I are heading out, don't forget to feed Ginger."

Derek fled to the bedroom to get his things for the night and almost ran into Stiles who was not so subtly eavesdropping on them.

"You handled that better than I would have," Stiles said when he followed Derek out of the apartment. "With me, there would have been more yelling involved."

"He's lucky that he hadn't been there when you found out yesterday," Derek admitted. "I would have strangled him then."

"That was one hell of a way to kill the mood," Stiles agreed but couldn't hide a grin. Looking back it was kind of funny.

Back at Stiles' place, Derek was more than ready to call it a day but he also wanted to know if they could afford the apartment or not. It was exactly what they had been looking for and it would be a shame if it fell through because of a hundred bucks or so.

So Derek got the coffee maker going while Stiles got his papers. Derek had brought his as well and not much later they had their heads stuck together, crunching numbers.

Without Derek's studio in the mix it would have been a no-brainer but this way it was a tight fit. But it was a fit.

If money kept coming in like it was which neither of them knew. Stiles had his part-time job as a teacher and Derek got paid by Josh's parents for hosting their son but that was the only income they could actually count on. Everything else depended on how well their art sold and on commissions coming in. At the moment, it did look good but next month could be completely different.

Derek went to bed that day with numbers circling in his head but in the morning they gave Abby the call to get the contract ready.

With that out of the way, they threw themselves into work. Stiles had a class that morning and Derek had to finish the photos of that show. Plus, he needed to prepare for the job he had this weekend. Which meant that he was browsing the website of an adult store for over two hours. And not for fun, he was looking at the stock photos of fetish gear with a professional eye, mentally planning how he wanted to present these things.

"How can you look at all that stuff for hours and not getting a boner?" Stiles asked when he had a look at the screen. "I would have jerked off twice by now."

"If a gimp suit does it for you, I can ask if I get a discount," Derek said dryly and clicked on the next page. "You just have to find somebody to wear it for you."

"Do they have gags as well?" Stiles asked. "My sub tends to get too mouthy."

 

Chapter Text

Karen was still on sick leave which immediately brightened Abby's mood when she came into the office in the morning. She could get used to that.

Their office had always been the smallest in the area, just the two of them, and Abby had wondered before why the company kept it in the first place and didn't merge them with one of the bigger ones but she was not going to question it, it might give them ideas.

With a little skip in her step, Abby walked over to her desk where she put down her purse and started the computer before she went to get some coffee going. That was the only downside of Karen not being here. Usually, there was a pot of coffee waiting for Abby when she came in.

She had a coffee before she'd left Lydia's place, she was not in dire need of some caffeine so while the coffee maker was doing its thing, Abby opened the first email.

She had two viewings scheduled for the afternoon but the morning was office work only. Today Erica had offered to come over for lunch and to come with her to those viewings but that was not a long term solution.

However, Abby couldn't deny that the thought of doing those viewings alone filled her with dread. Even with the pepper-spray in her purse, she was glad that Erica would be with her.

"It's only for today." Abby tried to assure herself. "Just to get back on my feet."

She made her first contract of the day when Derek called to tell her to get the contract ready, they were taking the apartment. Since she was alone in the office there was nobody here to witness her little victory dance after she had ended that call. She liked Stiles and Derek but they were not the easiest customers. Not that they were difficult people but what they had been looking for was next to impossible to find. But she just got a contract.

With any luck, that wouldn't be the last for today. She had a good feeling about the apartments she was going to show later.

Without the distraction of another person in the room, Abby got quite some work done until noon, only interrupted by a phone call now and then, she had to answer Karen's phone as well, and the occasional message from Lydia.

The latter was a rather new thing and Abby hadn't thought that Lydia was the type of person who just randomly shot somebody a message but she was stuck in a meeting of hell and bored out of her mind.

This guy's tie is clashing with his jacket, was the first message Abby got. And not the good kind of color blocking

Abby blinked at the message, not sure what to say to that.

If he doesn't come to the point soon, I'm going to strangle him with that tie

Abby chuckled at that.

Don't do something stupid, you just left written evidence, she wrote back.

They didn't constantly write back and forth but by noon they had covered the fashion faux pas of the people in Lydia's meeting and Abby had told her about the apartment she had sold to Stiles and Derek. She probably should have kept that to herself and let Stiles tell Lydia about it but she was too excited that she had found the perfect place for them to not share the good news.

Then Lydia asked about her plans for the weekend. Abby hesitated, it did sound like they were talking about a date and she was still not sure what to think about that but it turned out that Lydia had something else in mind.

You need to get out more, Lydia wrote, how about a ladies' night? Erica mentioned that club she wants to try out

Abby couldn't remember the last time she had been to a club, maybe when Haley had been little, but it sounded like a good idea. So by the time Erica came into the office with a brown paper bag in her hand, it was set. Saturday night was theirs. Boyd and Derek had to work that weekend but Stiles was free to look after Haley, not that Lydia had told him yet that he would be on babysitting duty.

"Lydia's right, you know?" Erica asked from where she was lounging in Karen's chair. Abby was only waiting for her to put her feet on Karen's desk. "You need to go out more."

"Did she tell you everything we've been talking about?" Abby snatched the paper bag from her to have a look but she was holding her breath for Erica's answer. Had Lydia forwarded everything to her? They hadn't been talking about anything important but it had been a private conversation.

"No need to get all defensive." Erica snatched the bag right back and ripped it open. "She just said that you need to get out more, which is true, and asked about Saturday." She handed Abby a sandwich. It had the same logo on the wrapper as Erica's shirt, she must have come here straight from work.

"She left out the flirting part," Erica added.

"The what?" Abby almost dropped her sandwich.

"C'mon, she's been flirting with you right from the beginning. I'm surprised Stiles isn't all over it already." She leaned back in the chair, and now she did put her feet on Karen's desk, and took a bite from her sandwich.

"And you're responding." She gave Abby a knowing smile. "And now you're blushing."

"I'm not …" Abby started but she did feel the heat in her cheeks. "Lydia's not … we're not … she's a woman." Abby snapped her mouth shut, she hadn't meant to say the last part. It made her sound as if she was against … that.

Erica chuckled around a bite.

"Not over the gay crisis yet?" She asked and licked some sauce off her thumb. Abby watched her. And felt nothing. However, when Lydia had done something similar the other day …

Abby hurried to focus on her sandwich.

She felt Erica studying her for a long moment.

"Look." Erica set her feet to the ground, now serious. "You lost your husband not long ago, you have a traumatized daughter you have to take care of, and that psycho brother-in-law of yours is still out there. God knows you have more than enough on your plate and a relationship is probably the last thing you want right now. Especially, with Lydia. Let's be honest, she's not the easiest person to have a relationship with."

Abby nodded along, Erica had more than one point there.

But …" Erica made a dramatic pause. "Don't miss out on something good just because Lydia doesn't have the plumbing you're used to."

"The plumbing?" Abby gave her a look but Erica just shrugged and got more comfortable again.

"So, how do you want to do this viewing thing?" Erica changed the topic, obviously done with the prior one. Which was fine with Abby, she had more than enough to think about.

The plan was easy, Erica would stay in the car to keep an eye on the surroundings, and she would call the police if she spotted Rick, while Abby would show her clients the apartments.

They were people she had met before so she wasn't worried to go into the apartment with them alone. Besides, the first viewing was with an elderly couple, both the sweet grandparent type. They had brought home-made cookies to the first viewing and Abby was still a little sad that she didn't have the right place for them the other day.

"Thinking about it, I probably should come with you," Erica said when Abby parked the car at the first location.

"You're saying that a bit too quickly after I told you about the cookies," Abby pointed out. "You wait in the car."

Erica pouted at her but Abby just checked her hair in the rear-view mirror and then she went to greet her clients. She didn't get any cookies today but the couple liked the place.

"How did it go?" Erica asked when Abby joined her again in the car.

"I'll find out tomorrow but I have a good feeling." They hadn't signed right away, they wanted to sleep over it, but they had promised to give her a call in the morning.

It took them over an hour to get to the location for the other viewing, damn rush hour, but Abby had enough experience with this to schedule viewings accordingly and in the end, they were even ten minutes early.

"Where the hell are we?" Erica peered out of the window.

This was not the best neighborhood and it stood in stark contrast to where they had been before but it wasn't that bad.

"My client is on a tight budget," Abby explained. The place, just a small one-room apartment, was for rent and wouldn't bring in much money for Abby but she kind of liked these low-income clients. The challenge was not to find the place with the right five-bedroom layout but to find something that fit the budget without being just a hole in the wall.

If Karen didn't come back soon, Abby would have to take over her clients as well which would mean that she would have to deal with the first kind of customers more often than she liked.

On the other hand, those clients were the ones that brought in the money.

"That's her." Abby pointed at the young woman, getting out of a car.

"Okay, I'll wait here." Erica got more comfortable in her seat but she did keep an eye on the street. Abby had another look around herself but there was nobody else in sight so she got out of the car to greet her client.

There wasn't that much to show so the viewing didn't take long.

"I know it's not much." Abby finished their little tour. "But this is not a bad neighborhood, it's third floor with a sturdy door so the risk of a break-in is low and the walls are thick enough that you won't be bothered by your neighbors."

"I like it." She had another look around, already imagining it in her mind. "But the question is, does it fit in my budget?"

That had been the big question before but this time Abby could give her an honest yes, it did fit in her budget.

"I'll take it, then." She grinned like a kid on Christmas morning. Her excitement was contagious and when Abby left the building with a signed contract, she grinned from ear to ear.

They said goodbye and Abby watched her happy client driving off before she walked over to her car where Erica was waiting for her.

"I'm guessing you made a sale?" Erica stood in the open door of the passenger side, forearm braced on the door.

"I made a sale." Abby couldn't stop smiling. It wasn't a big thing, getting a contract was an almost daily thing and most brought in more money than this one but after all the bad stuff lately, things were finally looking up.

But then the grin fell from Erica's face and she straightened up. Her eyes were fixed on something behind Abby. Or somebody.

Abby swirled around, hand in her purse. Her fingers closed around the can of pepper-spray and she had it out and ready by the time she was facing the other direction.

Rick was there.

Not there there, he was not standing right behind her, but he was standing a bit down the street.

Abby caught herself before she was pepper-spraying thin air and let her arm drop to her side.

Rick was looking right at her but he made no attempt to come closer.

Behind her, Abby heard Erica telling somebody her name and their location. She had called 911, Abby assumed but she didn't take her eyes off Rick to confirm that.

"I have a restraining order." Abby raised her voice to make sure that he heard her. To her surprise, the words came out loud and clear without a hint of the shaking she was feeling on the inside.

Rick didn't react, didn't move at all. He was just staring at her.

"What do you want?" Abby yelled at him. She wanted to back off, to bring as much distance between herself and him as she could, maybe even dash into the car, but she forced herself to stand her ground. She would not back off.

Rick didn't answer but he slowly raised his hand. Still looking straight at her, he moved his hand under his chin in the universal I'm going to cut your throat gesture. He gave her a moment to let it sink in before he turned around and walked away.

"Who does he think he is?" Erica asked. "Michael Meyers?"

 

Chapter Text

Derek did make some decisions.

His mom would get an invitation. Otherwise, his dad wouldn't be there either, Laura had pointed that out and she was right, but along with a rather stern caricature Stiles would decorate the card with Derek would add some words of his own. Basically, he would tell her to behave or get kicked out.

"Make sure to mention that we'll have an off-duty sheriff among the guests," Stiles added when Derek jotted down what he wanted to say on the card.

"And you don't be too mean with the caricature." Derek had a pointed look at where Stiles was doodling on an old envelope. From this angle, it was hard to tell but it looked an awful lot like his dad, holding his snarling mother on a leash.

"It's just a quick sketch." Stiles dismissed him but added more teeth and spittle.

"If you say so." Derek wasn't convinced but he let it be for now.

With that decision out of the way, the rest was easy. Their wedding would be in three weeks. It was on short notice but they didn't want anything fancy and if they informed their families and friends before they got the official invitation, everybody should be able to make it.

"Lydia and Erica have that covered," Stiles said when Derek brought up catering and the flowers. Not that they wanted to go all out with that. Their wedding would be more like a party with a little stop to sign some papers before the gathering.

"The rest of my equipment should arrive early next week," Derek said. "We can have our photo-shooting as soon as I've set up everything."

If they wanted to have the couple pictures ready for the wedding, they needed to hurry. The photos looked awesome in his mind, but Derek was a bit worried if he could capture them the way he wanted. Since he would be in the pictures as well, he would have to use a remote. He wanted to hook up his laptop to the camera so that he would be able to see what the camera saw but he had never worked that way before. But he wanted those couple pictures with Stiles and he had to take them himself.

The rest of the planning was done quickly, Lydia would have a word to this or that, that was inevitable, but all in all, Derek was satisfied with the results.

"I'm going to tell my folks about the date." Stiles took out his phone and started typing. With that, there would be no going back. He did, however, pause before he sent off the message with a questioning glance at Derek.

"Color?"

"Green."

And with that Stiles' parents new the date. Stiles typed another message, presumably to Scott. Derek took out his phone as well and sent a similar message to Laura and another one to Peter, those were easy.

"Derek?" Stiles asked when he was just staring at his phone after that.

"I'm fine." Derek took a deep breath and sent off another message. Just the date and that the official invitation would follow. But now his mother was officially invited. "I just hope that I won't regret it."

"We can kick her out anytime," Stiles assured him. He came around the table and slung his arms around Derek's middle. "I'm proud of you."

Derek let his head drop to rest in the hollow of Stiles' neck.

"I don't want to think any longer."

Stiles had promised him that.

"You don't have to." One of Stiles' hands found its way up to his neck and with his thumb he started to rub soothing circles into the base of his skull. "Bathroom, get nice and ready for me. I set out some clothes for you."

That got Derek's attention. Usually, they didn't bother with clothes once he'd gotten ready for Stiles.

"Don't give me the eyebrows, do what I say." Stiles gave him a playful slap on the shoulder but rolled out of the way to let him get up.

The clothes Stiles had set out for him turned out to be some worn sweats, the sweatshirt he liked to wear when he didn't feel like seeing anyone, and thick socks. There was no underwear so there was that.

When Derek came out of the bathroom, he was taken aback when he saw Stiles waiting on the couch for him. He had changed into comfy clothes as well and it looked more like they were having a lazy day than anything else. Which was fine but not what Derek had expected.

"Where do you want me?" Derek asked, still not sure what to think of the situation.

"Come here." Stiles reached for him and Derek hurried to close the distance between them. With some guidance, Derek stretched out with Stiles on the couch. They had been lying like this before, Derek on top of Stiles, his legs slotted between Stiles' and his head resting on his chest. Through the fabric of his shirt, Derek heard Stiles' heart-beat strong in his ears.

Stiles put one hand between his shoulder blades, grounding him, while his other one found its way back to his hair.

"I'm proud of you," Stiles repeated while his fingers were gently scratching his scalp. "Close your eyes."

Derek craned his neck to give him one last questioning look, this was not what he'd had in mind, but then he did as he was told.

"Take a deep breath," Stiles instructed and Derek obliged. "Relax."

It was nice, Derek couldn't deny that. And once he'd accepted that this was what Stiles wanted from him right now, he exhaled with a sigh and let his body relax into Stiles. With his eyes closed, he just enjoyed the hand in his hair and the firm body under him. Stiles' chest made a nice pillow.

"There you go," Stiles praised him which sneaked a smile on Derek's lips. "You're doing good, just relax."

Stiles kept talking in a low voice, words of praise washing over Derek. Warmth spread in his chest and something uncoiled. He felt it in his guts and in every muscle. That decision regarding his mom had been weighing him down for weeks but now that fell off him and he could breathe again.

"It's okay, let it out." Stiles stroked his back and only now Derek noticed his body shaking with dry sobs. "It's okay, I'm here. I catch you."

Derek didn't know what was happening here, this was stupid. Why was this affecting him so much? How pathetic was that?

"Shhh." Stiles soothed him. "You don't need to think, just let go. You can let go."

With that, a damn broke. Derek was uncontrollably shaking but he didn't need to be in control, Stiles was. So he let go. He just clung to Stiles and cried into his chest. And like promised Stiles was there to catch him.

Derek didn't know for how long he'd been crying but eventually the last sobs died down and he was just lying bonelessly on top of Stiles. The shirt under his cheek was wet and most likely from more than just tears which was just gross but he was too exhausted to care about that.

"You good?" Stiles asked to which Derek nodded, words were too difficult right now. For a second he feared that Stiles would make him get up, he was not ready for that, but Stiles just shifted them into a more comfortable position and then he closed his arms around him again.

They didn't talk and with Stiles' heart-beat in his ear and Stiles playing with his hair, Derek was almost ready to drift off to sleep. Or just lie here for a while, that would be nice too.

Stiles gave him a few minutes to do just that but then the hand not in his hair sneaked downward until it came to rest on the swell of Derek's butt.

"I'm going to play with this now," Stiles informed him and squeezed his left butt cheek to make his intention clear.

Instead of an answer Derek just spread his legs as far as the couch and Stiles' legs framing his allowed.

"Somebody is eager," Stiles teased and slipped his fingers under the waistband of Derek's sweats.

He cupped the cheek again, now skin on skin, and gave it a harder squeeze.

"Mine."

"Yours." Derek breathed out the word but he was still too relaxed to even open his eyes for this. Not that he had to. Stiles just started to play lazily with his butt, kneading the globes with a finger slipping into the cleft now and then. When the pad of a finger brushed over his entrance for the first time, Derek let out a shuddering breath but like expected Stiles didn't dwell on that and went back to playing with the general area. But he was dipping his fingers between his cheeks more often, slowly but surely zooming in on the center.

It took a few minutes but eventually, Stiles was prodding and probing his entrance with a dry finger. He wouldn't enter him like this, Derek knew that, but the little circles around his hole and the pushing to test the give of his rim was starting to get maddening.

He'd been hard for a while now, his erection nicely nestled into Stiles' hip, but so far Derek didn't feel the urge to move. If he was honest, he could fall asleep like this.

From somewhere Stiles produced lube, it never failed to amaze Derek how well planned most of their sessions were, and it didn't take long until Stiles had buried three of his long fingers deep in Derek's ass. It was a slow in and out with a nice stretch to his rim and the occasional brush over his prostate. Just sweet and lazy movements, Derek relaxed more into Stiles.

He didn't have to do anything but to lie here while Stiles played with what was his. Stiles didn't increase the pace, he kept his movements slow and soothing but the brushes over Derek's prostate became more frequent and from time to time Stiles paused to tab it or to press his knuckles against the swollen gland.

Derek rolled his hips with it, now the need for some friction was there, and when Stiles didn't stop him, he shamelessly humped the crease of Stiles' hip. Still with his eyes closed and with minimum effort but in a slow up and down that would eventually bring him over the edge. Not that Derek was in a hurry to get there. It was still possible that he would just fall asleep with Stiles' fingers slowly fucking in and out of him.

"You can come if you want," Stiles said in a low voice.

It still took a while but eventually, Derek came in his pants, dry humping Stiles and he didn't feel one bit ashamed of that fact.

"That was good." Derek let out a sigh and relaxed more into Stiles again. There were still three fingers up his ass but they had stopped moving and if he was honest, he wanted to keep them there forever.

Stiles withdrew them eventually and cleaned them with wet wipes he must have stored somewhere under the couch.

"Scoot down." Stiles pushed him until Derek moved. "Put your mouth on me."

Right, so far Stiles hadn't gotten anything out of this. Maybe some friction from Derek rubbing off against him but that wasn't much.

"Just don't fall asleep and choke to death on my dick." Stiles was only half-joking. Derek wondered if it counted as somnophilia if he was falling asleep in the middle of blowing him.

However, Stiles was waiting for him to go on with the program so Derek hooked his fingers under the waistband of Stiles' sweatpants, freeing his cock. It was rock hard and achingly swollen. Derek licked his lips at that sight.

It was most likely the laziest blow-job in the history of blow-jobs. Derek had barely enough energy to lift his head so it was more a sideways suckling with his cheek resting on Stiles' hip but Stiles didn't seem to mind. He was patting his hair again and when he spilled his release most of it ran out between Derek's lips but neither of them cared about the mess. Derek just buried his face in the crease of Stiles' hip, the tip of Stiles' softening cock still between his lips and finally drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Abby was talking to the police. Again.

At this point, she was just angry. Why couldn't Rick just leave her alone?

There wasn't much she could tell the officer anyway. Rick had been here, he had threatened her but he hadn't said a word and she didn't know where he went.

"Any idea how he knew where to find you?" The officer asked.

"I don't know." That scared her the most. Rick shouldn't have shown up here. Even if he'd observed the office and had followed her to the first location, between there and here lay an hour's drive in the rush hour, there was no way that he'd followed her through that. Just no.

"What about your client?" The officer suggested. He was on the older side, had seen some stuff over the years, that much was obvious. Abby was just glad that he was taking her serious and wasn't dismissing her as some paranoid girl. That Rick had attacked her before might be playing out in her favor here. Not that that was a comforting thought. "Maybe she told him?"

"I doubt it." Abby shook her head. That idea was absurd. Finding her client and following her here was even more unlikely than staying on her tail through the rush hour.

In the end, the officer couldn't do more than to take her statement. He and his partner had searched the area but by then Rick was long gone. So the officer just told her to be careful, to not go anywhere alone and to call 911 if Rick showed up again.

"That was helpful." Erica huffed while they watched the officers getting back into their car.

"What did you expect them to do?" Abby walked on stiff legs over to her car, she needed to sit down.

"I kind of hoped that they would catch that bastard." Seeing where she was going, Erica hurried ahead and opened the driver's door for her. Feet still on the ground Abby slumped into the seat. Only now realization hit and she felt her hands starting to shake.

"Maybe I should drive," Erica offered but she didn't seem to be in a hurry to get going. Which they should. Rick might be still nearby and by now Boyd should have picked up Haley. But Abby just needed a moment to compose herself.

"I had an eye on the traffic," Erica spoke up. "If he followed us, he has to be good. Really good. And I doubt that, he's not that smart."

"He must have followed us," Abby insisted. "Only my client and I knew about this viewing. You didn't even know where we were going." But then something occurred to her. "We need to go back to the office."

"What? Why?" Erica asked but Abby already had her feet in the car and tried to close the door without squishing Erica who had yet failed to move.

"If he broke into the office …"

Since Karen wasn't in, the office was empty. If Rick had observed the building he would have had all the time in the world to break in and have a look at her computer. Abby wasn't even sure if she'd logged out, she doubted it because where was the point when she was alone? So it would have been easy for Rick to have a look at her schedule. He would have known that he couldn't beat them to the first viewing but it would have been easy to arrive early to the second one.

Abby almost wracked her car in her haste to get back to the office but they made it in one piece. She did use up two parking slots, though, but at the moment she didn't care.

The door to the office was locked and there was no sign of forced entry.

Abby let out a breath but she needed a few attempts to get her key into the lock.

The office looked just like they had left it. There was still the wrapper from her sandwich on her desk next to her coffee mug. She put the first in the bin and the second in the sink before she sat down to check on her computer. She was still logged in but as far as she could tell, nobody had been snooping around. Not that she had any idea what to look out for.

"Doesn't look like he's been here." Abby leaned back in her chair. It was a relief. She didn't know what she would have done if Rick had broken into the office. She doubted that she would have been able to just go back to work after that.

"Still, something doesn't feel right." Erica had a look around but then she shook her head as if she wanted to get rid of unpleasant thoughts. "Ready to go home?"

"Yeah." Abby left the files on her desk, she would get to that first thing tomorrow, and made a point of logging out of her computer. At the door, she had a last look around, just like Erica she couldn't shake off the uneasy feeling.

"Don't tell Haley," Abby pleaded when they arrived at Erica's place.

"Of course not."

They found Boyd and Haley in the middle of a tea party. They were using regular dishes and there was apple juice in the cups because neither of them was fond of tea and it looked like werewolves were also part of the party. At least Boyd was a werewolf while Haley was a princess. With a side-job as a ninja. Abby got the full story in rapidly incoming messages while Haley was grinning from ear to ear. She was wearing a bandana which would have suited a pirate better than a ninja but what did Abby know. To emphasize the princess part, Haley was stumbling around in some of Erica's high heels.

At least that helped to get over the shock and when Abby and Haley left not much later, Abby could laugh along with Erica about the Klingon forehead, a Halloween leftover, Boyd had put on to make the werewolf part more realistic.

Lydia wasn't home yet but a quick exchange of messages confirmed that she was on her way. To calm her nerves, Abby started dinner while Haley started on her homework.

"On Saturday I'm going to go out with Lydia and Erica," Abby told her when the smell of onions filled the air, making her mouth water. "You'll be sleeping over at Stiles'. If that's okay."

At least that part had worked out. Stiles had happily agreed to babysit Haley and it would be fine with him if she stayed the whole night.

Haley threw her a glance and then came over to ask her a question on her phone.

Are you having a date?

Abby read the message twice and still didn't know how to react to it.

"No," she finally said. "It's not a date. We're just going out, a girl's night if you want."

Haley nodded to that but the way she was fidgeting with her phone she wasn't done with that topic.

Do you want to go on a date?

With Lydia?

Abby shouldn't be surprised. Erica had figured it out and they had seen each other how often? Haley was constantly there, she was living with Abby and Lydia. She had a front-row seat to them, circling each other. Because that was what they had been doing for a while now. Not that Abby had realized that until now. Lydia's confession had blindsided her but looking back, it should have been obvious.

"Lydia and I ... we like each other," Abby started carefully. She had no idea where Haley stood on this. They were friends with Stiles and Derek, a gay couple, so Abby doubted that would be an issue. The issue would lie more in the fact that Marvin hadn't been dead a year and the fact that Haley still wasn't over the trauma. Abby didn't want her to think that she wanted to replace her dad.

"Maybe we'll go on a date someday," Abby continued after a moment. "Just to see where we stand. Would that be okay with you?"

Because if Haley wasn't okay with it, Abby wouldn't explore this farther. Or at all because so far she hadn't done more than freaking out over the idea. And lusting over Lydia's lips when she'd licked her thumb.

They had spent quite a few evenings together. It was nice and only now Abby realized how badly she wanted this. How badly she wanted to come home to another person. To somebody she could talk to, to somebody who would just spend the evening with her stretched out on the couch from opposite sides with their legs touching. Maybe sharing a blanket. To sleep in a bed that was not too big and empty. The need was suddenly so overwhelming that she choked on tears.

"Mommy?" Haley was reaching for her but hesitated. Abby just slung her arms around her and held her close.

"It's okay." Abby tried to keep her voice even. "It's just a bit much lately." Which was an understatement.

"I want you to be happy," Haley said. "I like Lydia."

That was the most Abby had heard her say in quite a while and it didn't help to compose herself.

"That's good." Her voice broke but she managed a smile. "I like her too."

Haley nodded and went back to her homework without another word.

By the time Lydia came home, dinner was ready and Abby had herself under control again. When Lydia asked about their day, Abby let Haley tell her about school and the tea party she had with Boyd first before she added some bits about her day.

"Erica said that Rick showed up," Lydia said once Haley was in bed and they had moved over to the couch. Without Haley in earshot, Abby told her about her latest encounter with Rick. For some reason it felt good, talking about it. When Abby went to bed that night, she did fall asleep quickly.

On Saturday she brought Haley over to Stiles in the late afternoon. She would have dinner with him so that he wasn't lonely since Derek had a long day with a photo shooting he hadn't gone into detail about so Abby guessed that the results would be interesting and absolutely not for Haley's eyes.

"I hope this is okay," Abby couldn't help but say when they brought in Haley's stuff for the night into Stiles' apartment.

"Don't worry, we'll watch some movies, stuff ourselves with popcorn and chips and be up all night." Stiles delivered the line with a broad grin but it did look a bit forced. Having a closer look at him, Abby noticed that he was leaning a bit to the side and his legs looked stiffer than usual but when she opened her mouth to voice her concerns, he waved her off.

"Have fun because we certainly will, right Haley?"

Haley nodded like a bobble-head to that, an equal grin of excitement on her face, which on her looked way more genuine, so Abby wished them a nice evening and drove back to Lydia's place to get ready for her evening.

"Everything okay?" Lydia asked when Abby entered the apartment.

"I kind of feel bad for dumping Haley on Stiles like this," Abby admitted and let out a sigh. She had half a mind to blow the evening off but Lydia was standing there in the bathroom door, one towel around her body and a second one around her head, already in the middle of getting ready for their outing at the club.

"He loves her," Lydia reminded her. "And she's a good excuse for him to watch Disney movies and indulge in sweets." She paused. "Not that he needs an excuse for that, he does that at least twice a week." She thought about that for a second but then she just shrugged a bare shoulder and turned back to the bathroom to get ready.

Abby was still staring at the closed door, the image of the smooth ball of Lydia's shoulder fresh in her mind.

Everything else was forgotten when they were ransacking Lydia's closet in search for the right dress for the night. At first, Abby had protested but then she had given in and had just accepted that she would wear one of Lydia's dresses tonight. Lydia even helped her with her make-up and Abby had to admit that she looked hot in the golden dress, Lydia had picked out for her. Not that Lydia wasn't breathtaking either. Her dress in dark green showed off her long legs and it left her right shoulder bare which fed right into that image from earlier.

They picked up Erica who did turn some heads over the evening as well but Abby barely noticed. She caught her eyes wandering to Lydia's shoulder and neck way too often, the pale skin looked awesome in the strobe light.

So it didn't really come as a surprise that when they came home way after midnight, tipsy and with their shoes in hand, Abby smashed their mouths together in a sloppy kiss.

Chapter Text

Derek checked his equipment three times before Josh had finally enough and kicked him out of his own apartment.

"You'll be late if you don't leave now."

"I'll still be early." Derek fought the urge to check his bags again but he knew that he had everything he would need, and some, he had just checked.

"Not if you don't get going."

They'd had breakfast together, Derek had bought danishes on his way over from Stiles' place, and now Josh was lounging in his chair, his coffee mug hanging from his fingers and he was watching with clear amusement while Derek was angsting over his job.

This was a different kind of job than he was used to, of course he was anxious. It had been the same before his first photo shooting with a client in BDSM gear and when he'd had his first gig, photographing a show. Derek knew that it wouldn't be as bad as his mind was trying to tell him and that tomorrow he would laugh about his anxiety but right now he was just worried that he would get there and wouldn't have his camera with him. Actually, he had three in his bag but that was not the point.

"Do I have to call Stiles?" Josh asked, only half-joking. He might not fully understand the dynamics of a dom-sub relationship but he had a surprisingly good grasp on how Stiles affected Derek. Stiles could tell him to get going and Derek would answer "green" and he would be out of the door. To his surprise just thinking about Stiles doming him into doing it helped.

"I'm going, I'm going," Derek muttered and grabbed the bags. They were heavy, he had most of his equipment in there, but he carried them to the door without hesitation. "I'll be home late. Or I'll crash at Stiles'."

"I'll survive." Josh made a shooing gesture and with that Derek was out of the door.

His destination was a hotel where his customer had booked a room for the photo shooting today. Tomorrow they would be at a club.

Derek's job was to photograph the assortment of an adult store but they didn't want the usual stock photos, they wanted something more along the lines of complete outfits in a realistic setting. Derek would have three models, two women and a man, to set up scenes in the room. He just hoped that it would work out the way he was picturing the photos in his head.

He was early but not the first. Veronica, his contact and boss for this job, was already there, making sure that everything was ready for them.

"Derek." She greeted him with a little hug. "Come in. Do you like the setting?"

Straight to the point, he liked that. Derek had a look around. The room had big windows which would give him good natural light, the bed was in a good spot to take pictures from different angles and at the side, they had different blankets and pillows so that he could make it look like different locations.

Derek stepped over to the racks to have a look at the clothes and gear he would be working with.

"I can work with this."

Derek went to work and set up his equipment. The lighting was the most important part and it calmed his nerves, working on that.

One by one his models arrived and Veronica introduced them.

One of the women, Nora, was a bit shy and she looked as if she wanted to rather be anywhere else and Derek made a mental note to make sure that she was comfortable with what they were about to do here.

Lindsey seemed more tired than anything else but she had brought coffee for all of them which made her his favorite.

The man, Steve, tried to look confident but the way he was crossing his arms in front of his chest and how he was looking at the now properly illuminated bed told Derek that he had to check in with him as well.

There wouldn't be more people present, a point Derek had stressed more than once over the negotiation for this job. Even Veronica was too much for his liking but since she was the one signing his paycheck she had to be there. But she kept in the background and let him do his thing, so far so good.

Derek picked out the first outfit for each of his models and sent them off to change. He wanted to start them off easy and had picked some latex clothes that were revealing but still on the safe side. They would get to gimp suits and full puppy play later.

The first pose he had in mind was with Steve in the role of the dom and Lindsey as his sub. Derek made him sit on the edge of the bed with her kneeling between his spread legs. The tricky part was to get a natural pose but still a good view on the outfits.

Derek got that part down with a bit of directing but when he wanted to take the picture, he noticed something off.

"Steve, don't look at her like that." Derek lowered the camera. "You're looking at her like you want to bite her head off. You love her, you're proud of her, show that."

Steve gave him a confused glance but the hard look left his face and his features softened slightly.

"And Lindsey, you're not afraid of him, you love him, you trust him. Stop looking at him like a scared rabbit."

It was clear that neither of his models had any idea how a dom-sub relationship worked, Derek pinched the back of his nose.

"This is not about putting somebody down," Derek tried to explain and wished that Stiles was here, he was way better at explaining stuff like this. "Lindsey, you want to please him, you want to be good for him. Not because he asks that from you but because you want to. And Steve, you're proud of her. You guide her, you help her to grow."

It wasn't the best explanation but both of them thought about his words for a moment and when they got back into pose, their expressions had changed drastically.

"That's what I'm talking about." Derek took his first series of pictures.

Except for a short lunch break they worked the whole day. Every change of outfit took time, some things were not easy to get into and even more difficult to get out of, but Derek used the time to rearrange the bed to make it look like a different location. With different angles and some poses in other places in the room, he got a nice variety of locations.

After that first pose, his models got what he wanted from them. When Steve and Nora had their puppy play going with Lindsay holding their leash, they were playful just like overgrown puppies. So far those were the pictures Derek liked the most.

When they were finally done for the day, it was almost nine in the evening. Derek left the hotel tired but with a good feeling.

For a moment he was pondering if he wanted to go back to his place, Haley and Stiles were most likely having a good time right now and he didn't want to interrupt their movie but on the other hand, he wanted to see Stiles. And not only because he hoped that Stiles had saved some dinner for him. Since they had been shooting the photos in a hotel, they had been set with coffee and snacks and for lunch, Veronica had called room service, the server had gotten an eyeful, but they had skipped dinner in favor of being done before midnight. Now he was starving.

So he drove over to Stiles' on autopilot and let himself into the apartment.

"What are you doing here?" Derek stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted Josh with Haley on the couch.

"Stiles asked me to come over," Josh explained and paused the movie. "Wanted me to walk Jack."

Derek felt dread coiling his guts.

"He's not feeling well," Josh continued. "Stiles I mean, Jack is just fine. He's with Stiles." He pointed at the closed bedroom door.

"Get back to your movie, I'll check on him." Derek tried to sound nonchalant but at least Josh had to know that something was up. Which he had most likely known for a while because he had seen Stiles earlier and if things were as bad as Derek feared, there was no way that Josh had missed how bad Stiles was feeling. Derek just hoped that Haley hadn't picked up on it.

"Stiles?" Derek asked in a low voice when he opened the bedroom door.

Stiles didn't answer but Jack who was lying on the part of the lump under the blanket that had to be Stiles' legs, lifted his head. He was looking at Derek as if he wanted to say that finally, Derek was here to take care of things. Jack let out a low whine. Not good.

Derek closed the door and stepped deeper into the poorly lit room. There was only the light coming from the street which was just enough to make out the lump under the blanket. Stiles' chair stood askew at the side of the bed as if he'd parked it there in a hurry. Not a good sign but what really hit him was the smell.

"Stiles?" Derek stepped closer.

This time he got a response. A whimper, muffled by the blanket Stiles had drawn over his head.

"Hey." Gently to not jostle him too much Derek sat down on the edge of the bed. "That bad?"

Stiles had been fine when Derek had left this morning but things had been stressful the last few days. He had some commissions due and even if he tried to play it down, Derek knew that Stiles tended to dive into work and then he forgot to take care of himself. That had gotten better since Derek was around, there were no more Red Bull fueled all-nighters but work did take its toll on Stiles. Plus the discussion of their wedding yesterday. It had been Derek who had broken down crying but he doubted that it had been easy for Stiles either. And then Lydia had put him on babysitting duty.

"Did you take your painkillers?" Derek asked and sneaked a hand under the blanket. He found Stiles lying curled into himself, making himself as small as possible, and when he put his hand on Stiles' lower back, he felt the rock hard muscles spasming under his palm.

Stiles made another noise but Derek wasn't sure if that meant that he had taken his meds or not.

"What do you need?" Derek asked and started to rub soothing circles on Stiles' lower back. "I can run you a bath."

If he was correct about the origin of the smell, Stiles would have to clean up before he could go to sleep anyway. And Derek would prefer to not soil the bed in the process.

"Haley. She can't ..."

Of course, he didn't want the kid to see him like this but Haley would be here the whole night and Derek was not going to let Stiles lie in his waste for hours.

"She won't see a thing," Derek promised. "Only that I carry you over to the bathroom. I'm going to get you a bath ready. Okay?"

The blanket moved in what Derek interpreted as a nod.

"Keep him warm until I've everything ready." Derek scratched Jack behind the ear to which the dog let out another whine but he did settle back down to lie more firmly on Stiles' legs. The warmth and weight of the dog usually helped. It wasn't much but it had to do until Derek got Stiles into the bathtub.

"Is he okay?" Josh was hovering just outside the door and behind him, stood Haley watching him with worried eyes.

With a jerk of his head, Derek moved them away from the door. As far as he knew this was the first time either of them had witnessed one of Stiles' bad days.

"He's not feeling well," Derek explained. "I'm going to carry him over to the bathroom in a sec. A hot bath usually helps. Don't worry, he'll feel better in the morning." The last bit was directed at Haley but it wasn't enough to ease the worried look off her face.

"It's okay, he gets that from time to time."

When Derek carried him over, he made sure that Stiles' face was buried in his chest, but he had to be careful to not bump his legs into the frame of the door, there was no way to hide how stiff his legs where.

Derek breathed easier when he closed the bathroom door and didn't feel watching eyes in his back any longer.

"Let's get you cleaned up, shall we?"

Chapter Text

Abby woke up with a headache and a bad taste in her mouth.

"What the …," she mumbled and had to spit out a stray strand of hair. With a groan, she washed down a hand over her face in an attempt to become more awake. She still had hair stuck to her face, looked like she had been drooling.

It took Abby a moment to notice that she was not lying in the by now familiar bed in Lydia's guest room. And that the person next to her was not Haley.

"Damn." Her head was not ready for such a realization.

"Morning to you as well," Lydia greeted her and Abby didn't even have to look at her to know that she was grinning like a cat at her misery.

"Do I dare to ask why I'm in your bed?" Abby slurred out the words in hope that Lydia would be able to decipher them. She should be, she was smart. And pretty.

"Thank you."

"I did say that out loud, didn't I?" Abby groaned and curled deeper under the covers. Maybe the bed would swallow her whole and put her out of her misery.

"Just for your information, we came home, we kissed, there was drunken groping and then you passed out." Lydia sounded way more put together than she should after last night. Abby hated her.

"We didn't?" Only with a delay, Lydia's words registered to her and she dared to poke out from under the covers. Lydia was lying on her side, watching her with a warm smile on her face.

"No," Lydia confirmed. "Which is good, we shouldn't have sex while we're drunk. At least not the first few times."

"What makes you think that there's going to be more than once?"

"So you're admitting that there will be at least one time?" Lydia's grin widened.

"I'm too hungover for this," Abby decided and let the blanket drop over her head again.

"Looks like I get first shower." Lydia patted her shoulder through the blanket before she left, presumably for said shower.

Abby rolled out of bed eventually, the promise of coffee lured her out but Lydia insisted on a shower first.

"And brush your teeth," Lydia yelled over her shoulder, already half-way to the kitchen to get the coffee going.

"Yeah, yeah." Abby slowly made her way over to the bathroom.

By the time she was sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of steaming coffee in her hand, she did feel more human again.

"I'm sorry," Abby said, the bits and pieces from last night slowly coming back to her. "I shouldn't have kissed you like that."

"I didn't mind the kissing. Or the groping." Lydia put her cup down and studied her. "But I meant it when I said that it's good that we didn't go farther. When we do this, I want us both sober and in full control."

"Sounds like something Stiles would say." Abby sighed into her coffee but she had to admit that Lydia was right.

"Between Stiles and Derek it's even more important," Lydia said but there was a shadow clouding her eyes for a second that told Abby that she was not just talking about the BDSM kind of relationship they were having. "But it's important for every kind of relationship."

"I know you have a point there but I'm hungover over here so I'm only getting half of what you're saying." Abby shook her head which she regretted instantly.

"Let me get you something for your head."

Lydia got her a painkiller but she insisted that she took it with something solid as well. Abby wasn't hungry but she nibbled on a slice of toast nevertheless. It did put her rebelling stomach at ease, though.

"I should pick up Haley." She felt more awake now but putting on shoes seemed like too much of an afford. And then she would have to drive over to Stiles'. Abby made a face.

"Give her another hour, bet she's still sleeping anyway." Lydia reached over and patted her forearm.

"Good point. What time is it anyway?"

It was past ten, way later than Abby was used to, but today she allowed herself the luxury of just sitting here, nursing her coffee and waiting for the pill to kick in.

Abby did drive over to pick up Haley eventually but by then it was almost noon. She hoped that Stiles was okay with that.

To her surprise, it was Josh who opened the door for her.

"Did something happen?" Her first thought was Rick so when Josh stepped aside to let her in, she rushed past him in search for Haley. Who was currently on the floor, playing with Jack. When Abby entered the room, Haley gave her a toothy grin but continued to rub Jack's belly.

"Stiles isn't feeling well." Josh came up behind her. "He called me over yesterday. At first, I was just supposed to walk Jack but then he got so bad that he had to lie down. So I stayed until Derek came home. He took over for the night but he had to leave early because of his job. He said that he would be back as soon as possible." The way he was glancing at the closed bedroom door, Abby couldn't help but wonder how bad Stiles was feeling.

"He could have called me, I would have picked up Haley." Now she felt twice as bad. Not only had she put Stiles on babysitting duty without even asking him first, okay that had been Lydia's idea but still, and then she was out partying while Stiles had been so ill that he had to call Josh.

"It's not your fault," Josh assured her. "Derek said that Stiles has bad days from time to time, it happens."

Abby wasn't convinced but there was not much she could do about it. So she just urged Haley to pack her things. The best thing she could do was to leave and give Stiles time to recover. It did feel strange, though, when Josh was seeing her out.

"Tell him I owe him one." By now it was way more than just one she owed him which didn't make it better.

"Did you have fun?" Abby asked when they were in the car to which Haley nodded enthusiastically. Abby expected a detailed report once they were back at Lydia's place where she could read the messages on Haley's phone and didn't have to keep her eyes on the road. The way Haley was fidgeting in her seat, she was bursting to tell her everything.

The evening had not gone as expected, that much was for sure but Abby hoped that it hadn't been as bad as she was picturing it in her head now. Stiles had been fine when she'd dropped off Haley. How had he fallen ill this quickly? She was pretty sure that he wouldn't have called Josh if it hadn't been really bad.

When they entered Lydia's apartment it took her one look at them to ask: "What?"

As if she'd only waited for that question, Haley was already rapidly typing on her phone.

Stiles couldn't move and almost fell out of his chair. Haley showed the message to Abby first but held her phone out for Lydia to read it was well. And I think he pooped himself

Abby choked at that information. Surely Haley was exaggerating, Stiles didn't have an accident like that. On the other hand, she didn't know how well everything down there was working. She had never thought about it before and she didn't want to think about it now. Derek hadn't been complaining so she had just assumed that Stiles' nether regions were working just fine.

"He didn't …," Abby started but was cut off by Lydia.

"It happens," she confirmed. They were still standing in the hallway but with one jerk of her head, Lydia ushered them into the living room. She sat down on the couch and patted the spot next to her for Haley to take a seat as well. "You know, when Stiles was in that accident, he got injured very badly."

Haley nodded to that, it was kind of obvious with him sitting in a wheelchair.

"But he didn't just hurt his legs, the nerves in his lower back were damaged too," Lydia explained. "Those nerves control the bladder and everything else down there. Sometimes he just can't help it."

Haley thought about that for a moment before she typed something.

"He does." Lydia nodded. "When he leaves the house or if he's not feeling well, he does wear a diaper."

That was something Abby didn't want to hear but she got that Lydia wanted to make it clear to Haley that Stiles might have pooped his pants as she had put it but that it was nothing to joke about. Judging by the serious expression on Haley's face, it got through to her.

She typed some more, now worrying her lip while she was typing.

"Yes, I heard a hot bath helps him. I'm glad that Derek was there to take care of him." She gave Haley a reassuring smile but Abby couldn't help but wonder for how long Stiles had been suffering alone while Josh and Haley had been watching Hercules.

"Don't worry, most of the time it's one day and then he's back to his old self." Lydia managed to sound convincing enough for Abby to believe it but she would have a real talk with Lydia when Haley was not in earshot.

"Enough of that." Lydia ruffled Haley's hair which got her a giggle. "What do you want to do today?"

Since it was Sunday and neither of them had to work, they made it a lazy day. Abby borrowed a book from Lydia's shelf and made herself comfortable on the couch while Haley was alternating between playing with Prada and doing stuff on her phone, she even got her drawing materials out but that brought Stiles back to her mind and she abandoned that quickly.

Lydia was on her laptop and Abby couldn't tell if she was working or doing things for fun but it felt nice, almost domestic. Each of them was quietly doing their own thing and they were just enjoying each other's company. There was no need to fill the silence and Abby let herself get engrossed in the book she was reading.

However, when around five Lydia's phone beeped with a new message from Derek, telling them that he was back home and that Stiles was feeling much better, they all breathed easier. The fact that Stiles hadn't been well had hung over them like a cloud. Lydia had been the most relaxed, she was familiar with Stiles' bad days but it was new to Abby and Haley. Abby couldn't help but wonder if she'd made it worse by dumping Haley on him. Thinking back, he hadn't looked that good when she had dropped off Haley.

"See? No need to worry." Lydia showed Haley something on her phone that made her giggle.

After Haley had her fill, Lyda showed Abby the picture as well.

Stiles was in bed with his hair sticking out in all directions and he was scrunching his face, clearly not in the mood for a picture. But he was sitting upright with his back propped up against the headboard and there was a tray next to him with a plate of sandwiches, snacks and what looked like a pitcher with juice.

The picture was titled: princess is having a late breakfast in bed

Lydia typed an answer and a second later Derek answered back. They went back and forth for a little while and Abby figured that if Derek had time to text with Lydia, Stiles couldn't be off that bad.

But with that out of the way, Abby could truly indulge in her book and the next time she looked up, Lydia was already in the middle of making dinner.

"Where's ...?" Abby sat up straighter when she couldn't immediately spot her daughter but then she caught sight of her lying on the floor.

Haley had her phone in one hand and her other arm slung around Prada, girl and dog both fast asleep. Abby shook her head at that sight but then she got her phone out and snapped a photo

Somebody is cheating on Jack, she titled it and sent it over to Derek. Not long ago he had sent her a similar picture, looked like sleeping on the floor with a dog was a thing now.

Chapter Text

Derek cleaned up Stiles, bathed him, and carried him back to the bedroom. There he fed him more painkillers and gave him a full body massage. With a happy ending.

The last part was the most challenging, Derek was hyper-aware of the fact that Josh and Haley were just outside the door, most likely listening to every sound. So he made it the stealthiest blow-job ever but it did the trick. Stiles was lying more relaxed, his legs touching the mattress instead of hovering over it, and when Derek tucked him in, Stiles was already fast asleep. Derek waited for a few minutes longer before he dared to leave the bedroom.

He dodged most of the questions and just sent Josh home but they agreed that he would be back in the morning to keep an eye on Haley. Who of course protested that she didn't need Josh to keep an eye on her but there was no way that Derek would leave Stiles alone with her. Stiles was in no condition to watch out for the kid. Besides, Jack needed to go from time to time and the last thing Derek wanted was for Stiles to get up just to walk the dog. And letting Haley do it alone was not an option either. Especially since Rick had shown up at one of Abby's viewings yesterday. So Josh it was.

In the morning, Derek didn't want to leave.

"Check on him from time to time," he reminded Josh again. "See if he needs water or more painkiller. Or anything else."

"We got this," Josh assured him while he was kicking Derek out the second day in a row. Grumbling Derek left the apartment. He didn't like it but he had a job to do.

They had a different location for the second day. This time they were taking the pictures in a club where they would have some nice furniture like a bench and a cross to pose with.

The hotel room setting had been nice and Derek had managed to get the domestic vibe across with his photos but the second day would be the more interesting one. After yesterday his models were used to the situation and by now they got what he was trying to accomplish here. It showed in the pictures. They were not looking at each other as if they were afraid or trying to intimidate the other one, depending on the role they were playing, they were looking at each other like they were in love. It made quite a difference.

Today Derek was almost late. He met Steve in the parking lot but the others were already inside.

"And I thought we women were always the late ones," Nora greeted them. Yesterday she had been the shy one but that had changed quickly. She had been rocking the arm sleeve and ball gag Derek had given her for one pose. He was tempted to ask if he could use that picture in his portfolio.

While Derek had a look at the location and set up his equipment, his models changed into their first outfit of the day. Yesterday they had started with latex, today it was leather. But their focus would be on toys more than yesterday, mainly floggers and paddles and the like.

By the time everything was ready for the first set of pictures, Derek was focused on his work. He knew that Stiles was alright but he did keep his phone close by.

The day was longer than expected, some of the poses required some time-consuming rope-work, but they had to be done before the club opened for the public in the evening and they were able to wrap it up shortly after five in the afternoon.

Derek just checked for the last time that he hadn't forgotten anything while his models changed back into their own clothes when Veronica came in with a stack of boxes.

"A little thank you for your hard work." She gave everybody a hug and one of the boxes.

"What could that be?" Lindsey sing-songed but didn't dare to open it in front of everybody.

They had been posing with various items from an adult store, it was pretty obvious what kind of gifts they had gotten. Derek was already looking forward to opening his present together with Stiles. If nothing else they would get a good laugh out of it. And with any luck some nice new toys for their collection.

They said their goodbyes and Derek promised Victoria to send over the finished pictures as soon as possible and with that Derek hurried back to Stiles.

Abby had picked up Haley hours ago but Josh was still there. He had brought some of his work over and had set up his place at the kitchen table. Since he was done with assignments for now, he was back to working on his book. There were newspaper articles and copies from police files all over the table while Josh was typing away on his laptop. He didn't even look up when Derek came in.

"How's Stiles?" Derek asked and put the gift box on the counter. He had left the bags with his equipment in the car, he would bring those over to the studio tomorrow. Slowly but surely the studio was coming along and he was looking forward to having his first photo shooting there. The one for their wedding.

"He hasn't left the bed but he's feeling better." Now Josh did look up. "Had to bring him his sketchbook."

Stiles liked to stay in bed and doodle after a bad day so that was a good sign.

"I'm in the middle of something here." Josh gestured over his work. "Is it okay if I finish up here? I can leave if ..." He glanced over to the bedroom door and Derek wondered how quiet they had actually been with the stealth blow-job yesterday. Not that either of them would bring it up.

"You're staying for dinner anyway." Derek shrugged. "We just might need the table later."

With that, he left Josh to his work and went to check on Stiles. Like Josh had said, he was sitting in bed with his sketchbook on his knees. He did look better.

"How do you feel?" Derek sat down on the edge of the bed but it didn't look as if he needed to be careful any longer.

"Starving," Stiles admitted and greeted him with a kiss. "How was the photo shooting?"

"Awesome, I have to show you the pictures later. And I got a gift box."

"Gift box?" Stiles perked up at that but Derek hushed him down. They would get to that later. First, he wanted to get Stiles something to eat because knowing him, he hadn't eaten the whole day. And no, painkillers and coffee didn't count.

"I think I worried Haley," Stiles said when Derek came back with a tray to serve him sandwiches in bed. "That was shitty timing for a bad day."

Derek solved that problem by taking a picture of a very disheveled but otherwise totally fine Stiles and sending it over to Lydia. That way everybody would get the message that Stiles was fine. While Stiles inhaled his sandwich, Derek texted back and forth with Lydia and managed to convince her, and with that Abby and Haley as well, that Stiles really was fine and just needed some more rest.

"So, about that gift box …," Stiles said around the last bite of his sandwich. There were two more on the plate and Derek had no doubt that they would be gone in a minute as well, he knew his fiance, but with the worst taken care of, Stiles had slowed down and was making grabby hands at the box.

Derek half-expected to find more packaging than actual toys in the box but to his surprise, it was stuffed to the rim with goodies.

"What is all this?" Stiles plucked the first blister package out of the box. A flesh-colored dildo.

"Huh." Stiles had a closer look but put it aside with a shake of his head. Derek had to agree, aside from the awful color it was on the smaller side and nothing about it sparked his interest. He was a size queen, sue him.

"Now we're talking." The next thing Stiles got out was a butt plug. Also on the smaller side at least in width but it would go in quite deep. Getting more curious now, Derek reached for the box as well.

In the end, they had spread out on the bed two more dildos, a vibrator, another butt plug, a set of cock rings, nipple clamps, a neon green silicon thingy to stretch and separate his balls, that thing made Derek's mouth water, a paddle, a flogger, a ball gag, and handcuffs. Along with different flavors of lube, condoms and a selection of massage oils.

"I'm not sure if we're going to use all this but I'm getting ideas." Stiles was eyeing everything with a calculating expression on his face.

"Do I have to remind you that Josh is sitting in your kitchen?" Derek said but he had to adjust himself in his pants, he couldn't keep his eyes off that neon green thing. The picture on the box was saying more than enough, it double-functioned as a cock ring, sitting tight at the base of the cock, while the other part of it would sit tight around his balls with a band that would dig deep in between his testicles. It would feel amazing.

"You want this?" Stiles reached for exactly that toy.

"Yes." Derek felt his voice going hoarse.

"You're a slut for some cock and ball torture, aren't you?" Stiles was now looking at him with hunger in his eyes.

"Yes." Derek swallowed thickly and it only took a little move of Stiles' head to make him say: "I'm a slut for some cock and ball torture."

Deliberately slow Stiles reached out and put his hand firmly in Derek's crotch. For a second, he just let his hand rest there on Derek already half-hard cock but then he ground his heel more firmly into the growing bulge behind the zipper. Derek let out a groan but spread his legs wider to give him better access.

"Too bad that Josh is still here," Stiles said but he didn't sound sorry at all. "But later, when he's gone, I'm going to hurt your sweet little balls. You want that?"

"Yes." Derek breathed out and pushed more into Stiles' hand. "Want you to hurt my balls. Please hurt them good."

"So eager." Stiles twisted his hand, making Derek see stars. "Asking so nicely. How can I say no to that? I'm going to hurt you so good, your balls will be bruised and swollen for days. And when I've hurt you enough I'm going to make you ride me. I want to hear those poor abused balls slap against my skin. You're going to do that for me? Ride me so hard that you're going to spank your balls with that?"

"Green." Derek felt the hard line of his erection under Stiles' ungiving palm, it wouldn't take much to make him come like this. "Please."

"Later." Stiles let go of him and Derek collapsed, chest heaving and legs still trembling. "First we'll have dinner with Josh."

It was still early for dinner and Stiles had just eaten his sandwiches so they were not talking about anytime soon.

"Speaking of Josh, maybe he wants some of this." As if the last few minutes had never happened, Stiles started to sort through the toys. They would keep the ball thing and the cock rings, those were a given. Neither of them had any particular interest in the dildos but Stiles put one of them on the to keep pile.

"Maybe I'm going to stuff you with that and my cock." He shrugged.

They kept the long butt plug and the nipple clamps but the rest of the toys went back into the box. They had been thinking about more things for impact play but neither the flogger nor the paddle was something Stiles wanted to use, apparently he had other things in mind.

They kept some of the lube and a few massage oils but they didn't have much use for the condoms. Derek liked the feeling of Stiles come leaking out of him so they rarely used condoms.

"What do you think." Stiles eyed the box again. "Can we make Josh leave more quickly if we give him this now?"

"Probably but I promised him dinner." Derek got up before Stiles could get other ideas. His junk was still humming from Stiles' sweet torture just a minute ago but his erection was calming down, he could wait until later. They had all night.

Chapter Text

On Monday, Abby went back to work as usual. She did, however, keep an eye on the traffic around her but she didn't spot Rick anywhere. He knew where she worked so it would be rather pointless to follow her there but she just couldn't shake off the uneasy feeling.

After what had happened last week, everybody had agreed that Abby shouldn't go to viewings alone any longer. She didn't like it but she had to admit that she felt better knowing that she wouldn't have to face Rick alone in case he showed up again.

When she came into the office, Karen wasn't in and the whole office just felt too big and too empty. It was rather big for two people to begin with, it was just huge for one person alone. At least today it felt like that. Abby put her purse in her chair and went to get the coffee maker going. She opened the cupboard and reached for the coffee but her hand closed around thin air. She had been on autopilot but now Abby paused to actually look into the cupboard. The can with the coffee was there but pushed all the way to the back.

"How did that happen?" Abby wondered. She had to go up to her toes and was still barely able to reach the can. Last week she had been here with Erica but for the life of her, she couldn't remember if she had put the can back herself or if Erica had done that. Was Erica even tall enough to put it in the back like that? And why would she do that? It didn't make sense.

Abby did start the coffee maker but while it was doing its thing, she went through the whole office with her pepper spray in hand. If somebody saw her, they would be laughing at how paranoid she was but on the other hand, it wouldn't be paranoia if somebody was here to witness her, right?

She was alone. Nobody was hiding in the bathroom or the small storage room they had in the back. She had even checked under Karen's desk.

There was nobody in the office and so far she hadn't found anything else out of the ordinary. So maybe it had been Erica who had put the can back into the cupboard. With a little to much force and it had slid to the back. Maybe.

Still with an uneasy feeling in her stomach, Abby took her cup of coffee to her desk and started the computer.

Usually, she enjoyed the quiet. It helped her to get some work done but today, the silence was unnerving. Abby couldn't focus on the screen and by now she had read this email at least three times and still didn't have a clue what it was saying.

Today Stiles would be the one to keep her company over her lunch break and after that, she had a viewing scheduled. She had half a mind to call Stiles if he could come by early. But that would be silly. Everything was fine. But still, she couldn't get that stupid can of coffee out of her mind. What if Rick had been here? It was still a miracle how he'd managed to show up at the viewing the other day but there had been no forced entry, neither last week nor today, she had just checked. The door had been locked, she had opened it with her key like usual.

Everything was fine.

Except that it wasn't.

With a frustrated sigh, Abby pushed her chair away from her desk. This was going nowhere.

When the phone rang, she yelped and almost fell out of her chair.

"Dammit." Abby cursed but got herself under control quickly enough to answer the call.

"You're in, good," said a female voice at the other end but it took Abby a moment to recognize it as Karen's. "Would have bet money that you would be late again."

"Hello to you too," Abby said with sarcasm dripping off her voice. "I was wondering when you'd be back, your clients are asking for you."

"I won't be back," Karen stated as if Abby should have known that little fact. "I handed in my two weeks notice last week. The incident with your client …" She emphasized that word as if it was something dirty. "Showed me that I can't take abuse like that any longer. I was thinking about it for a while now and that was the last straw."

"Oh, okay." Abby didn't know what to say to that. Derek hadn't even talked to her. He'd just stood there and had stared her down. If that counted as abuse Abby had to wonder about the clients Karen had been working with. Sure, she liked to pick the good ones for herself but Abby had encountered rude clients more often than she cared to count. She had been yelled at and insulted, some had even slapped her butt or had tried to grope her. Not that often, maybe she had been lucky but it did happen. Thinking back Abby should have bought that pepper spray ages ago but so far she had been able to handle situations like that without things like pepper spray.

"I was just wondering if you would be in around noon?" Karen continued.

"I have a viewing at two but I'll be here until then. Why?"

"I just want to come in and get my things. I was on sick leave last week and I'm going to use up my vacation days this week so I won't be in again. Why not get my stuff now?" She was talking as if that idea was a genius move but Abby just rolled her eyes.

"I meant why I have to be here when you get your things?"

"Oh, I don't have a key."

"Why did you hand over your key before you got your stuff?" Abby wondered but couldn't help the dread pooling in her guts. Where was that key now?

"I was out shopping the other day when somebody just ambushed me from behind. He took my purse and ran off." Karen told the story as if she was telling it at a cocktail party. "Do you know what a hassle it was to cancel all my credit cards?"

"I can imagine," Abby said in a toneless voice. Suddenly, she felt numb all over. "And your key to the office was in there as well?"

"Yes. Along with my keys for the house and the car. I had to wait for almost two hours until Terry came out to unlock my car. I'm using the spare key right now. And we have to get a new set of keys for the house, it's a nightmare."

"Did you tell corporate that you lost your key?"

"I didn't lose it, it got stolen," Karen corrected her. "And why bother? I quit and there was nothing in my purse indicating where I work. I bet the thief just took the money and threw away the rest."

Abby highly doubted that this had just been ordinary theft. It was too much of a coincidence. The thief hadn't been after the money, he had been after the key. And he'd gotten it.

Rick had a key to the office and he'd used it. Abby just knew. Whatever Karen was talking about right now it washed right over her and when Karen once again asked if she would be in around noon, Abby just confirmed it again. Karen ended the call way too cheerfully and then Abby just sat there.

The office wasn't safe. It should be safe but it wasn't, not any longer. Abby had accepted that she couldn't go home, that she couldn't just walk around outside but this office was supposed to be safe.

It wasn't.

Without even thinking Abby reached for her phone.

"Rick has a key to the office," she said the second Lydia picked up.

"What?" Lydia barked out. "Give me a second."

Distantly Abby heard other voices and Lydia saying that she needed to take this but when she was back, all the background noises were gone.

"Where are you?" Lydia asked. Abby almost cried in relief that there was not a hint of doubt in her voice, she didn't even ask if Abby was sure and how it was even possible for Rick to have a key. Lydia just took it as a fact and worked with that.

"In the office," Abby confirmed. "I doubt he's going to come in while I'm here." He hadn't before, why should he now? On the other hand, if he wanted to catch her alone, this was his best chance.

"Stiles was supposed to come over for lunch, right?" Lydia was already calculating something in her head. "I'll call him, he or Derek will be there as quickly as possible."

"You don't have to …," Abby started but she couldn't deny that she didn't want to be alone here ever again. How could she have been this stupid?

"Don't worry about that, we're all here for you," Lydia assured her and it did help. "Okay, what happened?"

Abby told her what she'd just heard from Karen. Spoken out loud it sounded ridiculous. Karen's purse got stolen, there was no reason to believe that it had been Rick. It could just be coincidence. But he had been at the viewing and there was still that damn can of coffee.

"I would say lock the door but there's no point in that, isn't it?" Lydia joked and it did tickle a chuckle out of Abby. "Hold up there, somebody will be with you in no time. And when we get home, we're going to think of something."

Stiles was there half an hour later. He had confirmed that he was on his way only minutes after Abby had ended her call with Lydia but Abby only breathed easier when Stiles texted her that he was there. The entrance had three steps and no ramp so Abby went outside to help him up those stairs.

"If you ever get your own office, make sure that it's wheelchair friendly," Stiles greeted her when she came outside. There were only three steps which she took multiple times a day without even thinking and here was Stiles who needed her help to get over them.

"Tell me what to do." Abby tried to sound confident but she had no idea how to help Stiles here. She didn't want to jostle him around or even throw him out of his chair. Plus, his bad day was still fresh on her mind, she didn't want to cause another episode.

Stiles turned around so that his back wheels were touching the first step.

"Grab my handles and help me to tilt," he instructed her.

She had seen him balancing on his back wheels often but when she grabbed the handles now, she was convinced that he would lose his balance and just fall out of his chair. She had no idea what to do then.

They did manage to get up those three steps but Abby was just glad that they had made it in one piece. Stiles had helped quite a lot, she had barely done anything.

"You could have done it on your own, couldn't you?" Abby held the door open for him but she knew that he could manage doors without a problem.

"Took your mind off other things." Stiles threw her a grin when he rolled past her. "Your steps have a good height for me, I can almost just roll over them. I do need help with steeper ones."

"You're a bastard, you know that?"

"It's been said." Stiles shrugged.

Back in the office, Abby wasn't sure what to do next. It was still fairly early in the morning and she had work to do but with Stiles around it felt wrong to just go back to work.

"Don't worry about me, I brought my laptop, I can occupy myself." He had a look around the office. "That Karen's desk?" He pointed at the one not in use right now.

"Yes, at least until she clears it out. She quit."

"Lydia mentioned something like that." Stiles pushed Karen's chair aside and put a flat bag on the desk, his laptop, Abby assumed. "And that Rick got her key."

"Yeah." Abby went over to the kitchen, she needed more coffee for this. "I think that he's been in here. Went through my schedule. Coffee?"

"Always."

Abby had another look around the office. Even with Stiles around it felt empty. And for sure it was not a place she felt comfortable at any longer. Maybe it was time for a change.

Chapter Text

On Monday morning Derek regretted everything. Stiles had tortured his balls like he'd promised, and some more, and now even breathing sent sparks of pain up his spine.

They were still in bed but after a long weekend of work and that session with Stiles last night, Derek had earned himself a lazy morning in bed.

"How do you feel?" Stiles snuggled closer and gently put a hand on Derek's lower stomach under the blanket.

"Hurts." Derek didn't want to move or even talk, everything set the area between his legs on fire.

"But good?" There was a hint of worry in Stiles' voice.

"Yeah, good." Derek made the effort to move his arm to put his hand on top of Stiles'. "But my balls hate you."

"I can live with that." Stiles brushed a kiss on the corner of his mouth. "Do you need anything? Painkillers? An ice pack? I have ointment here if you want."

Especially the painkillers were tempting but Derek didn't want to numb the pain. His whole body was aching and his balls would just hurt more once he dared to move but he liked it. He loved the sharp pain when Stiles tortured him like that but he liked this almost better. The dull ache, the soreness that lasted for days, the bruises which lasted even longer.

"I'm good," Derek assured him and just relaxed into the mattress for a few more minutes before he would have to get up.

"Or maybe some tight jeans?" Stiles' hand wandered downwards until he was cupping Derek's balls. Feather-light, just a brush of his fingers but it set the nerves on fire. "I could make you wear those jeans that bring out your ass."

"Stiles," Derek growled and closed his eyes. It would hurt, badly, but he could feel his cock twitching under Stiles' palm just thinking about it.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"Yes." The word came out in a defeated breath.

"I think I'll add the cage as well," Stiles pondered, his fingernails gently scraping over the soft skin of his balls.

Derek shied away with a gasp but there was nowhere to go, Stiles' hand just followed him.

"Yes, I think I'd like that," Stiles kept musing as if he hadn't made up his mind already. "I want to see the outline of the cage. I want to know that the denim is chafing your poor little balls."

Stiles had propped himself up on his elbow and was now looking down on him with dark eyes.

"Color?"

Derek knew without a doubt that if he said red, Stiles would ease off and just pamper him through the day but now that he'd put that idea into Derek's head …

"Green."

"You truly are a masochist, you know that?" Stiles tightened his grip around Derek's balls hard enough for Derek to arch off the bed with a strangled cry. Stiles held him there for a sweet long second before he let go of him. Gasping Derek sank back into the mattress.

"I'm going to take a shower, you can enjoy your freedom until I'm back." Stiles patted his shoulder before he rolled out of bed. Derek just lay there, wondering what he'd done wrong to end up here. Or what he'd done right because as much as he was dreading what Stiles had in store for him he was looking forward to it as well.

When Stiles came out of the bathroom, he shooed Derek out of bed to get ready as well.

"I'm going to start breakfast, holler when you're ready for the cage."

Derek glared at him but Stiles had already turned his back on him.

"Don't take too long," Stiles told him and that got Derek going. He didn't want to find out how Stiles would punish him if he took too long.

His balls didn't like him walking, at all, so Derek had to cup them to prevent the worst. They didn't like the hot water of the shower either. Derek hissed when the water started to run down his body but the hot jets did feel good on the rest of him. At least the tense muscles loosened up under the spray.

When he was done in the bathroom, Derek got the cage out of the toy bag and walked out into the living room.

"I'm ready," Derek said quietly.

"Come over." Stiles gestured with the spatula at him, he was in the middle of making scrambled eggs it looked like.

It felt kind of surreal to stand stark naked in the kitchen while Stiles hurried to fit him into the cage before his eggs got burned.

"There you go." Stiles weighed his balls in his palm. His caged penis was lying nestled in the crease between his swollen and by now dark purple testicles. Derek doubted that the bruises had even fully bloomed by now.

"Get dressed, breakfast is almost ready." With the spatula, Stiles ushered him out of the kitchen.

Getting into that pair of jeans was a struggle and for a moment Derek thought that he wouldn't be able to pull them over the cage but in the end, he closed the zipper with determination.

Then he just stood in the bedroom, trying to adjust to the feeling. It hurt. And it would hurt even more once he'd start to move. Derek took a deep breath, which sparked the pain, but then he straightened up and walked out of the bedroom with his head held high.

"I'm proud of you." Stiles slung his arm around him when Derek had successfully made it to sitting at the kitchen table.

They were in the middle of having breakfast, by now Derek had almost gotten used to the constant abuse of his balls, when Stiles' phone rang.

Apparently, that bastard Rick had gotten his hands on a key to Abby's office.

Stiles was already half-way out of the door when he swirled around on his back wheels.

"Shit," he cursed and for a second Derek had no idea why he wasn't just leaving. But then he noticed where Stiles was looking at. Derek's crotch. "I can't leave you like that."

"It's okay, I'm fine," Derek assured him. "Without you around, I might even get some work done." He tried to sound confident and to not twitch into a position that was not too uncomfortable. There was none anyway, he'd tried to find one for the last ten minutes. But the pain was already dulling down. If he didn't move too much, he would be fine.

"You'll have to walk Jack," Stiles reminded him. "You can change pants for that, how's that?" Stiles was almost pleading now. "And if it gets too bad just ditch the pants entirely."

"Stiles, I'm fine," Derek repeated. He hadn't thought of Jack, the dog was still dozing on his blanket but his ears twitched when Stiles mentioned his name. He would have to go soon. "I'll send you a red if it gets too bad."

Stiles was still not convinced and for a moment Derek thought that Stiles would be the one to say red and call this off but eventually, he nodded.

"You use your safe-word if you need to."

"Always."

Once Derek was alone, he sat back and finished his coffee but then Jack was there, nudging his leg.

"Just give me a minute." Derek patted his head. Changing into a more comfortable pair of pants was tempting but in the end, Derek didn't give in. His walk with Jack was short but it was a rainy day anyway, Jack was not in the mood for a long walk either. But the bad weather had the benefit that there weren't many people around so nobody witnessed how stiffly Derek was walking. If he hissed and cursed under his breath from time to time, nobody needed to know.

One did notice, though. On their way back from the park Jack stayed pressed to Derek's leg and every time Derek made a pained noise, the dog responded with a low whine.

Back in Stiles' apartment, Derek made his way over to the couch and carefully stretched out. Jack was on top of him a second later but the dog had a sense for where it hurt and Derek did not get kicked in the balls. Thank God for small mercies.

They stayed on the couch for almost an hour but then Derek's bladder forced him to get up. Taking care of business was no fun, though.

Since he was up anyway, he should get some work done. Veronica wanted her pictures as soon as possible and Derek had a few other things he needed to work on. Plus, he should go over to the studio later. With any luck, he could set up everything today and have his photo shooting with Stiles there tomorrow. He just hoped that he would be able to move again by then. For some of the poses he had in mind he would have to kneel.

There was still coffee so Derek fixed himself a cup and then he started his laptop.

Finding a sitting position that did not squish his balls was tricky but he did find one that wasn't hurting too badly. Or maybe his balls had just started to go numb.

He actually did get quite some work done, only interrupted by a message from Stiles here and there, asking if he was doing okay. He answered every single one of them with green.

Since he'd sent out the announcement of their wedding, Derek had exchanged messages with Peter and Laura but he'd only gotten a short confirmation that she'd gotten his message from his mom. He'd asked Laura about it but she'd only told him to not worry.

However, when around noon his phone rang with Laura's name on the display, Derek answered it with mixed feeling. They had already covered everything there was to cover via text. There was only one reason he could think of why she would call him. Talia.

"Hey, Derek," Laura greeted him. "Hope I'm not interrupting something."

"I was just ready for a break." Derek saved the last changes he'd made and leaned back in his chair. "How are you? Everything alright?"

"We're fine. Frank got that weekend off and we've booked our flights, we'll be there for your wedding." She let out a soft chuckle. "Can't believe I'm saying that, you're the last person I expected to get wed. Thought you'd be a bachelor for life."

"Things change," Derek said solemnly. "Did you hear from mom?"

The official invitations were in the mail but he doubted that they would arrive before tomorrow. Scott and Isaac had gotten the Just Kiss drawing Stiles had threatened to use and he had delivered. The rest of them had gotten fun little caricatures, nothing too bad. Peter had gotten some wolfish features because according to Stiles he was a predator but Derek knew his uncle well enough to know that he'd love it.

Only Derek's parents were getting something with a serious background. Stiles hadn't put his mom on a leash but the drawing made clear that they expected her to behave. Derek had added a few lines, stating that he wouldn't tolerate any disruptions. But that was a shitstorm for another day. What Laura's call today was about he had no clue, though.

"Yeah." Laura drew out the word. "She's not happy. She still thinks that you can do better, that you're throwing away your life." She sounded tired as if this had been a topic for a while now. It probably had been, most likely since he'd kicked Talia out of his apartment in the aftermath of his exhibition at the gallery.

"Is she going to come?" Derek asked, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

"There's no way she wouldn't come, what would people think?" The sarcasm was dripping off her voice. "Dad promised to keep an eye on her."

At least that.

"I wished that she could just be happy for me." Derek let out a sigh and slumped deeper into his chair. Which put more pressure on his balls.

Derek suppressed a hiss but almost barked out a laugh instead. This was his life and he loved it. He was sitting here with his balls swollen and bruised and he was loving every second of it.

Stiles was his boyfriend, his fiance, his dom and soon he would be his husband. Stiles was the man he loved. The person he wanted to grow old with.

"Why can't she just be happy for me?"

Chapter Text

Abby was staring at the piping hot and still untouched pot of coffee. She had the mug for Stiles in hand but she couldn't bring herself to pour him his coffee.

Rick had touched the can of coffee. What if he'd done more than just rummaging through the cupboard?

"What's the matter?" Stiles came up behind her when she was taking too long.

For a long moment, Abby didn't answer. It was silly. But what if …?

"I know it's stupid." She took a breath but still couldn't bring herself to just pour the goddamn coffee. "But what if Rick …?" She didn't even know what he might have done with the coffee.

Stiles just looked at her in confusion but then his eyes fell on the can of coffee still on the counter.

"Throw it out," he ordered. His voice had an edge to it that left no room for doubt.

Abby shook off her stupor and poured the coffee into the sink.

"Throw out everything consumable that's not sealed," Stiles continued. "We need to wash all the dishes. And wipe down every surface."

"Isn't that a bit over the top?" Abby wanted to laugh it off but her chest felt too tight. More what-ifs were coming to mind.

"Maybe," Stiles admitted. "But better safe than sorry. That asshole is just the kind of guy who gets off on touching everything with his dick. Or pissing in your cup."

With a yelp, Abby dropped the cup.

"I'm going to bath in hand sanitizer," Abby muttered. The cup was still in one piece so she couldn't just throw it out. "Okay, let's get this over with."

Together they washed and cleaned everything Rick might have tampered with.

"Thank you," Abby said, the clinical stench of hand sanitizer still clogging her nose. She was longing for a shower but that had to wait.

"What for?" Stiles looked up from where he was setting up his laptop on Karen's desk.

"For not calling me paranoid because of the coffee."

"You're not paranoid if there actually is somebody after you." Stiles cracked a grin at her.

Abby shook her head but then the phone rang and she had to go back to work.

Working with Stiles around was strange. Abby was used to Karen sitting at the other desk but Karen was quiet. Sure she made a phone call now and she got up quite often to go to the bathroom or to get fresh coffee but those were things Abby was used to.

Stiles, on the other hand, was fidgeting. He couldn't move half of his body but he compensated that with doubling the movement in the part he could move.

He balanced on his back wheels quite often, most likely his equivalent of tapping one's foot. Then there were the bursts where he was rapidly typing, the keys clicking loudly. And his mouth was constantly moving as well. He was either chewing on something, Karen was down two pencils not that Abby cared. And he was talking. Sometimes aloud, sometimes just muttering under his breath but he was never quiet.

"How's Derek getting any work done with you around?" Abby couldn't help but ask. With the constant noises coming from him and the movements she caught out of the corner of her eye, it was impossible for her to focus.

"He doesn't," Stiles said around a pencil in his mouth.

Rip number three, Abby thought.

"That's why he's so happy that he has an office at the studio now." He gave her a grin around the pencil in his mouth. "If he really needs to get something done he goes back to his own place. Heard that Josh is easier to have around."

"That's harsh." She got where this was coming from, she was experiencing it right now, but those where still some harsh words to say.

"I get it." Stiles didn't seem to be bothered. "Bet Derek is glad that I'm not around to annoy him." He delivered the last bit with a grin but something about it felt off. They most likely had plans for the day and Abby had ruined those. Or at least their morning because Stiles had wanted to come over for lunch anyway. Abby still felt bad about that.

"Stop thinking too much," Stiles interrupted her thoughts. "We're good."

"Yeah." Abby nodded to herself, still not convinced. "I should get back to work." She made a helpless gesture at the by now dark screen. It came back to live with a little wiggle of the mouse but Abby wasn't sure if she would get anything done today. But she should at least try.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Stiles' checking his phone. He typed a short message but then he was back to his work as well.

They ordered Chinese for lunch and Stiles went out to meet the delivery guy. Neither of them wanted a stranger in the office but Abby only breathed easier when Stiles was back with the bags balancing in his lap.

They had just started eating when suddenly the front door opened and closed.

For a second, Abby was sure that it was Rick, who else would just march into the office like that? They didn't take walk-ins, they mostly dealt with people via phone or email and meetings were set up in coffee shops and the like. So Abby was not prepared for anybody just walking into the office.

It took her brain a long second to realize that the person coming through the door a second later was not Rick but Karen. Who had said that she wanted to come by to get her things, Abby remembered that now.

"Who are you and what are you doing at my desk?" Karen was holding a box with both hands over which she was glaring down on Stiles.

Noodles were hanging out of Stiles' mouth when he looked up at her. With a loud slurp, he sucked in the noodles.

"Karen, this is Stiles." Abby hurried to introduce him. "He was just stopping by to keep me company over lunch."

"These are delicious." Stiles raised the container to emphasize that yes they were just having dinner.

"And he brought his laptop?" Karen put the empty box on the edge of the desk. With her hands free now, she was able to put them on her hips. "I'll have to report this. You can't just let any stranger come in, sit at my desk and let him do whatever." She had a closer look at her desk, probably trying to find out what exactly Stiles had been doing there. "Are you stealing my files?"

"Relax, I didn't even touch your computer." Stiles tried to calm her down. He set down his food and moved backwards to give her access to his side of the desk. Only now she seemed to notice the wheelchair.

"You're ..." At a loss for words, she just gaped at him which Stiles used to gather his laptop. With that, her desk was cleared but she was not having any of that. "Get out! Get out before I call the cops. You're trespassing. You know what? I'm calling the cops right now."

"Wow, lady." Stiles raised his hands which almost let the laptop slide off his lap. "Abby invited me over. I've just been quietly sitting over here and you're interrupting our lunch."

She glared at him but didn't follow through with her threat.

"Besides, weren't you the one who gave out private information?" Stiles continued. He sat up straighter and fixed her with a stern look. "Then somebody steals your key to the office and you don't even bother to report it? And you have the gall to throw me out when Abby wants me to be here?"

"This is not a public place," Karen countered coldly. "You're not an employee here, you have to leave. And for you ..." She turned to Abby. "I'm going to tell corporate that you're letting your friends." The air quotes were audible around that word. "Squat here. I'll get you fired over this."

"You know what?" Abby closed the gap between them and was now right in Karen's face. "Do that. I've half a mind to quit myself but be my guest. Report me. And while we're at it, I'm going to give corporation a follow-up on the incident where you gave my private information to somebody you knew has assaulted me before. Thanks to you Rick's now threatening me at work as well. He has a key to this office, your key, and he's been using it. He stole information and used them to show up at one of my viewings. We'll see how corporate likes that."

For a second, Abby thought that Karen would slap her but in the end, she just huffed as if all this was beneath her and started to put her things into the box she'd brought. Stiles had to hurry to get out of the way otherwise he would have gotten her butt to the face and Abby was barely able to save Stiles' food before Karen could throw it in the trash.

"What is this?" Karen had found the chewed on pencils and was now holding one of them by the tip without touching it more than strictly necessary.

"That is a pencil," Stiles delivered helpfully which was the wrongest thing he could have said. Not that he seemed to care.

"You ruined my pencils. These were expensive." She shoved the pencil in Stiles' face as if he didn't know exactly what he'd done to it. He most likely still had the taste of them in his mouth. "You're paying for this you little shit."

"You got these from the dollar store."

"I would never ..." Karen gasped. "These are high quality and I paid a fortune for them, you're going to pay for them."

"These come in a package of ten and you got them for a dollar. Believe me, lady, I chewed my way through boxes of these cheap things when I was a kid." Stiles didn't budge. "I'm going to be generous and give you a dollar for these three." He reached into his pocket in search for a dollar.

Karen's face changed colors and Abby was just waiting for her to explode. Maybe she should intervene, try to defuse the situation but it looked like Stiles had it under control and if Abby was honest, she was beyond caring. So she stayed back and watched the show.

"I've some high-end pencils at home, I could show you the difference but I think you're better off with these and some crayons anyway."

"You ... you ..." She stabbed the pencil at Stiles, just barely missing his face. Stiles snatched it out of her hand with ease.

"How about you pack your stuff and leave," Stiles suggested. "Before I call the cops. Assaulting a cripple, they're going to love that."

With a wounded noise, Karen snatched the pencil back and then she was just throwing everything into her box.

"I will get you fired over this," she yelled one last time before she stomped out of the office.

"Good riddance," Stiles yelled after her. A second later the front door closed with a bang.

"Well, that was fun." Stiles turned around to face Abby. "You okay?"

Abby had to sit down but she managed a nod.

"You know, she's right. If she reports this, she can get me fired." Abby let out a sigh. A visitor here and there was okay but she had her friends come over for her lunch break for a while now. Erica had been to some viewings with her and now Stiles had set up his workplace right at Karen's desk. Even if he hadn't touched her computer, he could have. He could have stolen information to sell to another company or to use it for his own benefit.

"I'm sorry," Stiles said. "I should have played nice."

"No, it's not your fault." Abby shook her head. "To be honest, I'm not sure if I want to work here any longer."

"You could open your own business." Stiles was back on his back wheels, a pondering look at the ceiling. "You can get your own office, or hell, work from home. You only need a phone and a computer anyway."

"That's ... I don't know ... that would be a big step." That thought alone made her head dizzy. It was a tempting idea but yeah, it was big.

"It's just an idea." Stiles got back to four wheels before his laptop could slide off his lap for real. He put it back on the now much emptier desk. "But maybe it's time for some big steps."

Chapter Text

Stiles came back from his emergency trip to Abby with the news that Karen had been in the office and that she most likely would get Abby fired. Not that Abby seemed that upset about it. According to Stiles, she wasn't feeling safe at the office any longer anyway.

"You sure she's okay?" Derek asked.

"Yeah." Stiles made. "Lydia's taking care of her now."

By now it was an open secret that there was something going on between them so Derek had no doubt that Lydia would be able to comfort Abby. And she was the right person for advice on how to proceed jobwise.

With that out of the way, Stiles' focus was on Derek again who was still wearing the tight jeans with the cage underneath.

The next morning, Derek was lying fucked out in bed with his head on Stiles' shoulder. They both were comfortably sleepy with no intention to get up anytime soon. At least today the aching in his body was not the painful kind and Derek was just looking forward to the breakfast in bed Stiles had promised and the pampering he would get all day.

"I did a number on you. Again." Stiles chuckled but today there wasn't even a hint of worry in his voice.

"I liked it," Derek assured him nevertheless and was just about to snuggle deeper under the covers to enjoy the warmth for a little while longer when his phone rang.

"Why are you mocking me like this?" The voice of his mother pierced through his sleepy head. "I'm your mother, I did everything for you and then you sent me this? This joke of an invitation?"

"Morning to you too, Mom," Derek mumbled into the mouthpiece while he scrambled to come up to a sitting position. He felt that this called for at least sitting. Clothes would be good as well but she didn't need to know that he was still in bed stark naked.

"I take that the invitations arrived?" Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. Next to him, Stiles tilted his head in a silent question if he should stay or leave to give him some privacy. Derek shooed him off, maybe he would have breakfast ready by the time he'd ended the call. He would need some coffee after this.

"Yes, your invitations arrived," Talia confirmed. "I thought that you would at least take your own wedding serious but I should have known better. And where is that location? I couldn't find anything under that address."

"That would be my studio," Derek explained. "It's not even open yet so it's not listed anywhere."

"Your studio?" That threw her off but only for a second. "You can't have your wedding party at your studio. We have the summer house …," she started but he cut her off.

"We won't come to Beacon Hill for the wedding," Derek said. "And it won't be the fairy tale wedding you're dreaming of either. It's going to be our wedding, Stiles' and mine. The invitation should have given you that hint." He had half a mind to just withdrew the invitation, this wasn't worth the trouble but he gritted his teeth and didn't say a word.

"But Derek …," she tried again but quickly changed directions. "I can fly in, you surely need a hand. This is on such short notice."

"I already have people who take care of most of the organization," Derek declined her offer. The last thing he wanted was for her to come here early and to interfere with everything. "Lydia is going to take us shopping for suits in a few days."

According to Lydia they couldn't wear the suits they had worn to the gala again and if Derek was honest, just a black suit sounded boring. Stiles was talking about getting a red one for himself but Derek wouldn't tell his mom that.

"Oh, Lydia." Of course, she perked up at a female name. "You mentioned her before, is she still single?"

"Officially yes but she's been flirting with another friend of ours lately. And it looks like Abby is interested." Derek bit his tongue, waiting for her reaction. He didn't get disappointed.

"Abby is a woman's name."

"Makes sense, since Abby is a woman," Derek confirmed.

"They're not invited to your wedding, are they?" Talia said it as if the idea alone was ridiculous but there was a hint of worry in her tone.

"They're our friends, of course they're invited." He let that sink in for a second before he added: "And two of Stiles' friends, men, have been circling each other for years, we sent them a couple invitation. Maybe that will get things moving between them. It's going to be a very not straight party."

"Laura is bringing Justin and Lucy," Talia said. "You can't flaunt that in the children's faces."

"Abby's daughter will be there as well." Derek tried really hard to ignore her last comment but he just couldn't. "However, if you insist on your bigoted views, you won't be there. These are my friends. Turned out most of them are gay or bi and with any luck, they'll attend our wedding as couples. Oh, and just for your information. On top of being two women, Lydia and Abby are a mixed couple and so is the only straight couple, just in case you have a problem with that as well."

"Derek, I would never …" Talia tried to defend herself but was at a loss on what to say next.

"Just so we're clear," Derek said. "This is our wedding. I'm going to marry the person I love who just happens to be a man in a wheelchair. We're going to celebrate with the people we want to have in our lives. And we're going to do that in a way that fits us. You are invited but if you can't be happy for us and celebrate with us, you better stay in Beacon Hills." With that, he ended the call.

He let the phone drop in his lap and then he was just sitting there, his mind numb.

"You have no idea how much I love you." Stiles came into view, he most likely had been lurking just around the corner. But even if he'd been in the kitchen, Derek had no doubt that he would have been able to hear him loud and clear from there as well. Derek might have raised his voice over the last part.

Stiles came around the bed and gently took Derek's hand in his.

"She didn't get to the part that Cora didn't get an invitation." Derek huffed out a bitter laugh. "Or the BDSM part." But he doubted that his mother would mention that to him ever again. By now she'd probably convinced herself that the photos Derek had shown were staged and that they had the most boring sex life ever. Most likely missionary only with Stiles at the bottom. Which was something they had never done, Derek realized. On very rare occasions Stiles did bottom but they had never done that. Strange.

"What?" Stiles ducked his head to look him in the eye.

"We've never done missionary with you as the bottom," Derek said and couldn't help a chuckle.

"Do I want to know where that came from? And they say I'm the one with jumps in thoughts." He shook his head.

"I bet that's what my mom thinks we're doing," Derek explained. Why was he even wondering what his mom thought of his sex life?

"She must be confusing that with her sex life," Stiles mused with a glint in his eye. "Anyway, is she going to be at the wedding or did you scare her off for good?"

"No idea." If he was honest, he wasn't even sure what he would prefer.

"We invited her, you set some very clear rules, the rest is up to her." Stiles gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "Coffee?"

Derek said yes to the coffee but he didn't have the stomach for solid food right now.

Getting that he needed distraction, Stiles filled the silence with light chatter which eventually turned to the next topic at hand, their photo shooting. Since they wanted to get the pictures printed before the wedding, they had to hurry so they had agreed to do it today.

"Just a little hint?" Stiles begged not for the first time. Derek had told him that he wanted to do couple pictures of them and he had a clear idea in his mind but so far he'd hesitated to go into details.

Derek had thought about what they should wear for this session for quite a while but in the end, he'd opted for jeans and plain white t-shirts. And they would be barefoot, he kind of liked the domestic feeling that detail would give the pictures.

"Wow, you've been busy," Stiles said when they entered the studio. He hadn't seen it furnished before and Derek had to say he liked how it had turned out. In the middle of the main room was the location for that actual photo shooting, he'd spent an hour yesterday to set up the lights. Along the walls, he had shelves for his equipment and props. There was a corner with a mirror where his clients could touch up their make-up and hair and he had put up one of those foldable walls to create a private area where his clients could change.

"You even have a waiting area." That one had been Stiles' idea. There was a couch, two chairs, and a table and Derek was toying with the idea of a water dispenser and maybe a coffee maker even if he would use the latter mostly for himself.

"Did you get the rest ready as well?" Stiles asked, already half-way to the back rooms. One was the darkroom, the other his office and neither was done yet. For now, he was just storing stuff on the floor in there.

"I have what I need for now," Derek said but waited patiently until Stiles had seen for himself and was back at his side.

While he'd been setting everything up yesterday, Derek had tested the remote-controlled camera as well. It had taken some fiddling but now he could see on the laptop sitting on a box just outside of what the camera captured what exactly he was taking a picture of. It would take some getting used to but he was not planning to take pictures of himself that often.

"Okay, how do you want me?" Stiles rubbed his hands.

"Get in the middle, facing that way." Derek directed him into position.

First Derek took some test pictures to get a feeling for this kind of work but even those turned out better than expected. Some were not centered and the angle was off but they were laughing at each other and Stiles was making silly faces so Derek saved them, just in case.

Once he was satisfied with the results, Derek was ready to start with the poses he had in mind. The first was with him standing behind Stiles with his hands on Stiles' chest. Stiles was leaning into him and had his right hand on top of Derek's.

Another one was Derek sitting next to Stiles on the floor with his back against the side of Stiles' chair. Then he was kneeling in front of Stiles with his head in his lap and his arms around Stiles' lower back. He really liked that pose so he did it facing the camera, facing away, and from different angles.

Then they did a series of various poses with both of them sitting on the floor. First back to back with their legs stretched out, then facing each other with Stiles sitting on Derek's thighs.

For all the pictures Derek was using a plain white background but he did the ones where Stiles was not sitting in his chair first with the chair in the background and then without. He wasn't sure yet which ones he liked better.

The last pose was the hardest, though. In that one, Derek was standing with Stiles clinging to him like a koala. But since Stiles couldn't cling to him with his legs as well, Derek had to support him with his hands under Stiles' butt to keep him from slipping. It was not easy to make that one look effortlessly, especially since he had the remote hidden in his hand as well.

At least Stiles' laughing came naturally. And it was contagious. Derek took a series of that pose and in the last pictures they were both laughing and Stiles was more or less hanging off him. They wouldn't use that picture for the wedding but Derek would like a copy of it to hang in his office.

Derek didn't say I love you often but it was visible in all these pictures. He almost choked when he showed them to Stiles after their session.

"Love you too," Stiles said as if that wasn't visible in the pictures as well.