It wasn’t really a conscious decision. At least, it didn’t start out as one.
Stiles had always worn too many layers: an undershirt, a t-shirt, a flannel, jeans, and a beanie, if he could get away with it. It wasn’t intentional, he was just comfortable.
But after Scott’s fingers brushed against the new girl’s when he passed her a pen, after Erica stumbled over her ridiculous high heels and directly into Boyd’s strong arms, Stiles decided he didn’t want to know. His sleeves got longer, his collars got higher, and heaven forbid he ever wore anything other than jeans or sweatpants.
His parents were soulmates and when his mother died, she almost took his dad with her. The depth of connection so many people found romantic was honestly terrifying. And Stiles may not be a control freak, but he was haunted by the memory of his dad staring blankly at the wall for days on end.
Plus, he had freaking werewolves to keep him busy. Really, he wouldn’t have time for a soulmate even if they bonded. And since bonding took skin-to-skin contact, Stiles figured he was pretty safe.
Not that it was a conscious decision anyway.
Stiles jerked upright from where he was dozing over his coffee. His dad was watching him with almost as much concern as he had before he learned about the supernatural goings-on of Beacon Hills.
“Heya pops.” He sipped his coffee, wondering if he could get away with his momentary lapse.
But of course, his dad hadn’t been elected sheriff for his good looks. “Stiles, I’m worried about you. It’s been quiet lately, no unicorn invasions or dragon emergencies-”
“Unicorns aren’t real,” Stiles said. At least he was pretty sure. There was a binder upstairs piled high with notes from his late-night research binges.
His dad blinked slowly. “Unicorns aren’t real. But dragons are? Am I going to have to install a sprinkler system?”
“Why would a dragon attack our house?” Stiles asked.
“It wouldn’t. You’d try to hide it in your bedroom.”
Stiles opened his mouth to protest, but his dad knew him too well. If given the opportunity, he would totally hide a dragon in his room. Just like he hid a grumpy werewolf murder suspect. What could he say? The whole judgement-making part of his brain was clearly underdeveloped. Or maybe he never had one to begin with.
An incessant beeping indicated it was time for his dad to leave for work. Stiles almost slumped over in relief.
But of course, he wasn’t going to get away that easily.
“Don’t think I didn’t notice you changing the subject, son.” His dad finished slipping on his work shoes and turned off the alarm on his phone. “We’ll talk about this tomorrow. Try to get some sleep, okay?”
“You got it, daddio,” Stiles said, throwing in double finger guns.
He held the grin until the front door slammed, then slumped back over his coffee mug. Fuck, he was tired.
The day passed in a blur of research, smudged notes, and so many feet of yarn as Stiles set out to construct a phylogenetic tree of sorts. It detailed all of the characteristics he could narrow down about each type of supernatural creature.
By the time he stopped to breathe, dusk was gathering outside his window and he was swaying on his feet. Maybe if he just took a quick nap, he’d feel better.
Stiles came to awareness feeling gold. Which was not the best way to describe the warmth and contentment that he felt, but his sleep-addled brain wasn’t fully functioning.
“Derek?” he mumbled, name coming out almost unrecognizable.
A moment later, his eyes snapped open. No. There was no way. He jerked upright, twisting until he spotted Derek, standing sheepishly by the window.
Dread started building in his gut. “What did you do?”
And the thing was, Derek actually did look sorry. It was unnatural and did nothing to soothe Stiles’ panic.
There was only one thing Stiles could think of. “You touched me.”
“I’m sorry,” Derek repeated. He hesitated, looking guilty and ashamed. “You were on the floor. It looked uncomfortable.”
So, like the gentle-wolf he was, Derek had picked him up and tucked him in. While also straightening out the bed, because last Stiles remembered even the fitted sheet was sliding off onto the floor.
It was a lot to process. Stiles fell back against his pillow, staring at the ceiling.
I have a soulmate, he thought to himself. Derek Hale is my soulmate.
Derek Hale who was currently hovering by the window like he needed a quick escape.
For when you reject him, the voice inside his head offered. And that just wouldn’t do.
“Come here.” Stiles held out an arm, for once only wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts.
It was Saturday and the only person he thought he was going to see was the weird weather dude who did the nighttime news. Which didn’t even count.
Cautiously, Derek approached, hovering just out of reach of Stiles’ fingertips.
“You-” Stiles frowned. “You felt it too, right?”
It would be just his luck to somehow end up with the first unrequited soul bond in all of human history.
Instead of answering, Derek took another step forward, his wrist finally close enough to touch. But that wasn’t what Stiles wanted. He didn’t need confirmation of what he felt.
He caught the edge of Derek’s sleeve – maybe Stiles wasn’t the only person with a layering habit – and dragged him closer.
“What’s happening?” Derek asked, his brows furrowed in confusion and Stiles got that gold feeling all over again.
“What’s happening is I’m taking a nap,” Stiles tugged on Derek’s sleeve one more time before dropping his arm. “I’m taking a nap and I’d really like it if my soulmate joined me.”
A myriad of emotions chased each other across Derek’s face: confusion, comprehension, hope. And it was the last one that made Stiles scoot over to the wall and say, “t-shirts are in the middle drawer, there should be something that fits you.”
That seemed to be all of the permission Derek needed. One moment he was standing tense and on edge, then the next he was stripping out of his layers and unearthing a threadbare sleep shirt from the dresser, the fabric worn soft by age. He pulled the shirt over his head, then dropped his jeans.
When he finally climbed into bed, he was the most vulnerable Stiles had ever seen. Hell, Stiles wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Derek not wearing shoes.
Once he’d settled, Stiles plastered himself along his back, slinging an arm around his middle. Derek tensed slightly, then went boneless.
Cuddle-wolf, Stiles thought, but he was too busy slipping into sleep to tease him.
Oh well, they had tomorrow. And the next day. And the rest of their lives.