Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” continues to blare as Stiles digs underneath the passenger’s seat for his phone. He’s very aware of the undignified position he’s in, but Scott’s calling and Stiles needs to pick up the phone. Now. He squirms, getting the Jeep’s gear to the stomach, and he can’t reach–
“Why don’t you just get out and walk around to the passenger side?” Derek says from behind him.
Stiles can picture it, Derek folding his arms and probably looking unimpressed, and scoffing at Stiles’ ineptitude, probably. Stiles huffs and plants his knees on the driver’s seat, ass wobbling precariously in the air. “Because I’m already here and I know where the phone is.” He does. He touched the metal casing, right before the song stopped playing. Great. Now Scott’s probably leaving a voicemail, which does not bode well since Stiles said he was getting Derek’s info about the troll and now Scott doesn’t know that the thing’s saliva is poisonous and–
“Why don’t you go round that way and help? What are you standing around there for?”
Derek doesn’t say anything, but then Stiles can hear him stepping around the Jeep. Derek helpfully starts reaching underneath the seat, looking for Stiles’ phone and grumbling. “There’s so much junk under here,” he mutters, pulling out a copy of Wuthering Heights that Stiles was supposed to return to Lydia. Three years ago, when he was still in high school.
Derek’s phone is in the stomach of the last troll, so unfortunately their only line of communication with the rest of the pack is to find Stiles’ phone. In the dark.
Fortunately, Lydia starts calling. Stiles can hear a few bars of Beethoven’s 9th before it stops, like she was interrupted while calling.
“We don’t have time for this, we just need to get to them,” Derek mutters.
“Well that would be great, except we don’t know where—”
Derek howls. It resonates through the night, and in the distance there’s a returning howl.
Stiles tries not to tremble. This is no time thinking about how hot that was. Damn crush, he thought he was over this. Wasn’t going to college and dating other people supposed to put and end to this awful pining?
After the troll incident things are quiet for awhile. It’s Spring Break, and Stiles hasn’t had a weekend where he hasn’t gone home and dealt with supernatural shenanigans. He’s determined to have a week of just quiet rest and relaxation and regular college life, and by that he means he and his friend Cal and four or six or twelve of her buddies are all driving down to Lake Mead and partying on a boat for the entire week. It’s going to be amazing. No werewolves, none of Derek’s amazing rippling abs (the trolls had torn his shirt and Stiles was once again irrevocably subjected to the sight).
Stiles doesn’t even get one day to party. The Camaro pulls up behind Cal’s truck at the gas station before they even leave California, and Derek steps out of it, glaring at Stiles’ friends in all his leather-jacketed glory.
“Need you back home,” Derek says, vaguely.
Stiles notices the distinct lack of pronouns there. “What’s going on?”
Derek blinks at Cal, who is peering curiously from behind Stiles. “Just come home, please. It’s Spring Break— I —I want to spend time with you.”
“Derek, seriously, you can’t just show up and expect—”
“Derek?” Cal squeals in Stiles’ ear. “The Derek you told me that–”
Stiles claps a hand over her mouth before she reveals any sort of confession Stiles may have made to her about his feelings. Since he couldn’t talk about any of the weird supernatural bullshit that made he and Derek friends in the first place, Cal might be under the impression that Derek is Stiles’ ex, who he never got over even when he left for college.
“Fine,” Stiles says dramatically. He grabs his pack out of Cal’s truck. “I will give him another chance.”
Stiles is in the Camaro, settled in for a long drive back to Beacon Hills with a sullen and for some reason embarrassed Derek (he must really have disliked that Stiles pretended that they dated to his friends). Derek explains that Isaac has returned, and there’s a French werewolf pack in town, who are determined that Isaac remain with them in France. There’s some sort of traditional standoff that requires all pack members be present.
Dude, you owe me, Stiles texts Isaac.
Stiles’ phone rings’ immediately with Isaac’s ringtone, an old pop-punk song he doesn’t even remember the name of but he lets it play, laughing at the chorus before he picks up. Stiles trades barbs with Isaac for a bit and laughs and lets him know that they’re on the way.
“Do you do that for everyone?” Derek asks.
“The song. For when people call you,” Derek says, holding the wheel and not looking away from the road.
“Uh, not really,” Stiles hedges. “Just like for important people, you know.”
Derek, thankfully, does not ask Stiles what his ringtone for Derek is. Because then Stiles would have to lie, or play it off as a joke. Because it started as a joke, when he picked The Black Key’s “Howlin’ For You” because it was wolf themed. And the beat was sexy. And Derek hardly ever called, so Stiles had almost forgotten that he had the song programmed as that.
But then over winter break Derek had called, and Stiles had listened to the song as the singer admitted that these thoughts, these feelings were all for this person, and Derek had appeared at his window and knocked and that was that. Stiles had to admit it to himself. Maybe if it was only a superficial crush, a physical one, because Derek was hot, maybe that would have been manageable. But over the years… Stiles knows Derek, knows he’s got a good heart, that he tries so hard and deserves so much, Derek loves his sister and his pack and just wants the best for everyone, even if he can’t admit it.
So yeah, not just a crush after all.
Isaac is grateful for the help, and Scott gains even more (international, this time) renown as a True Alpha, and the Augustin pack are on the next plane back to Paris, suitably impressed.
So Spring Break isn’t doing keg stands on a boat with coeds; it’s watching Derek in a tank top and a tool belt hammering and putting a deck together. Scott and Isaac are laughing and catching up, and Kira is practicing zapping lightbulbs. Apparently they’re all working together to build Derek’s new house. It’s kind of nice, except Stiles’ heart does flips every time he sees Derek’s back muscles ripple, but he just goes back to painting his wall.
A familiar beat starts to ring from his phone, and the Black Keys start crooning.
Stiles freezes, because that’s Derek’s ringtone, and that’s impossible because Derek is standing right there. Well, his phone did get eaten by that troll…
“Who is that?” Scott grins. “I know all your ringtones, dude. Never heard that one before.”
“No one,” Stiles says, feeling his face heat up.
“Oooh, it’s someone you like,” Lydia says, raising her eyebrows. “None of our songs have such sexual overtones. And such inherent desire.”
Derek continues hammering the railing.
“I… I’m gonna get this,” Stiles says, setting down his paintbrush. He dashes off down the road, hoping he’s far enough from werewolf ears. “Hello?” he manages into the phone.
“Hey, it totally works!” a girl says on the other end. “So I found this washed up by the lake and Jenny said I’d never find the owner, let alone get it to work, but I just dumped the whole thing in rice and…”
Stiles heads back to the unfinished house and catcalls and whistles chorus around him. “Yeah, yeah,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes, and picks up his paintbrush and goes back to work.
Later, when everyone has gone home, Stiles finds himself hanging back so he can tell Derek about his phone. But Derek finds him first.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed, you know,” Derek says, voice a little stiff. “I think it’s nice that you have someone.”
“Oh, um, I don’t actually,” Stiles says awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Lydia was right, wasn’t she? It is someone you have feelings for. The songs you’ve ascribed to all of us are all about friendship or jokes or—”
“Derek, that song was for you,” Stiles blurts out. “Someone found your phone and tried to return it. They called me because I was the last person in your call history.”
Derek blinks. “That ringtone… is for me?”
He waits for it. The I don’t think of you that way or we’re better off friends.
It doesn’t come.
Derek’s ears turn a little pink, and he looks at Stiles with an entirely new expression. A hopeful one, his lips curving up in a smile.
“What?” Stiles asks, feeling a bit self conscious. Derek smiling like this, unabashed and happy is so rare, and to have it all directed at him is a bit overwhelming.
“It’s not the song I would have picked for you, but I appreciate the sentiment,” Derek says.
“I think that’s more of a third date question,” Derek says with a smile. “Maybe when we get there.”