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It starts with a research spiral, a hypothetical question within earshot of Peter, and some old books that appear on his desk that are cryptic but still more helpful than Deaton’s brand of riddles has been in the past few years. Stiles discovers he can use his spark to create the doorways, or at least that’s what he calls them. Using a special mixture of buckthorn, fig, myrtle, and poplar ash he’s able to channel his spark, in theory, into creating a doorway that can transport to the destination designated by his spark, by his belief. 

It’s not super practical to carry around multiple kinds of ash, because he still keeps a bag of mountain ash in his pocket at all times and, let’s be real here, has since Jackson’s kanima days. Thanks to his mom’s craftiness, he’d learned how to make crayons, chalk, and paints when he was much younger so he pulls from that knowledge bank to craft his portal mixture into chalk with some intent-charged cornstarch. Voila, doorway chalk that is both transportable and way more practical for a Stiles on the go.

His first attempt at creating a doorway once his first round of the special chalk is dry and ready to try it out, because of course he’s hungry when he thinks he’s finally figured it out after much research, is to create a door to the kitchen for him to get food. It is just downstairs so really, all things considered, it’s not the worst thing to try for a first attempt. Distance-wise it’s right there so it’s not like he’s overshooting and trying to skip continents in his first go and ending up stuck in the middle of the ocean with nobody but sharks for company. 

When he traces the door on his bedroom wall and focuses his mind into believing where the door needs to open to, he crows with happiness as the edges of the doorway shimmer and he makes a mental note to bake Peter some thank you cookies or something before stepping through the doorway with zero hesitation and fully expecting to step out the other side into his own kitchen and be rewarded with some delicious leftovers, he just wants some good food like now. Or maybe he’ll be scattered into a million pieces or just walk straight into the wall but either way he’s going for it and it’s gonna work.

Except what happens is that he ends up in Derek’s kitchen all the way across town in the rebuilt Hale house just as Derek is pulling some glorious chicken pasta something from the oven. When he doesn’t drop it all over the floor (just on the stove with a “Jesus, Stiles!”) they’re able to chat and Derek begrudgingly shares his food, not thrilled that somebody was able to sneak up on him especially Stiles. Stiles knows he can usually hear his jeep or his heartbeat from much further than he’s noticed him picking up on the average car or the average person like he’s personally in tune with them, but it’s not a thing they talk about.

The doorway he’d made faded right back out of existence, not leaving a trace on Derek’s wall, Stiles notices. He also notices the way Derek smiles at him over dinner and how it warms his heart. He’s so happy to see Derek settled, safe, and happy. Who would’ve thought domesticity suited him so well? 

He’s not the best decorator though and Stiles insists he needs some accent walls or whatever they were just watching on HGTV so he makes Derek drive to the paint store where they bicker about color choices while the lady at the counter looks on smiling. Stiles isn’t sure what assumptions she’s making about the two of them but he does note this is probably the first time in a while that he’s been out somewhere with Derek and somebody hasn’t been trying to get his number like right in front of Stiles’ not insignificant crush that’s been years in the making.

Staying up late painting and making the new house feel like a home for Derek again is so much better than writing term papers or doing life or death research cram sessions. Stiles doesn’t think the doorway got it wrong after all; he did get food and maybe he was more needed here than either of them had realized. Stiles talks him into an Ikea road trip for the next weekend to continue his new furnishing and decorating mission, not just because they have bomb Swedish meatballs and cinnamon rolls.

  

2

The second time it happens Stiles is running reallllly late for school and while he knows it’s not the best to use his abilities for his personal gain because of maintaining the balance and everything having a price and all that, but he doesn’t think that it would count to use it to get into the supply closet down the hall from his 8am lecture (yes, he knows that was a terrible choice but it was the only time it was offered this term) so that he doesn’t get an automatic ten point deduction on his exam for lateness. Like, that’s not exactly a personal gain, it’s just the prevention of a personal loss. Should be fine. Totally fine.

So what actually happens when Stiles tries to make a doorway to the closet where he really needs to be is that he comes through and is surrounded by clothes and not mops. This is very definitely a closet full of clothes and most of them are henleys in various colors. Well, shit, this is gonna be awkward because Stiles knows just who they smell like. He recognizes the thumbhole sweater he’s brushing up against and he recognizes Elvarli closet system he’d helped Derek assemble a few months ago once he’d finished his entire tray of cinnamon rolls. 

He takes a fortifying breath and pushes his way out of the closet and into Derek’s bedroom. If he’s very very lucky, Derek won’t be home and he can just call Scott. Maybe he’s out for a torturous morning run or something, sounds like something the ever-brooding Hale would be doing at half-past seven on a chilly morning. But he’s not lucky because the universe hates him because Derek sounds like he’s in the shower right now and the door to the en suite isn’t closed (Stiles has been telling him to get that exhaust fan fixed because it has to still be under warranty and he hasn’t bothered yet so the room gets too steamy and bubbles the paint unless the door’s cracked). 

Stiles is hoping he can at least sneak downstairs to the kitchen and wait without Derek noticing but he definitely has to bite back a gasp when he hears what sounds like Derek finishing some special Derek time in the shower with Stiles name on his lips.

He makes it down to the kitchen like a fucking ninja and gets some coffee started, Derek will be down eventually and apparently he can’t take his phone along on these jaunts because it’s dead in his fucking pocket so he can’t even text Scott to get him. On the bright side, he knows his doorway has faded out by now so Derek might not notice and he’s had coffee and toast so his brain is more awake now than when he’d started. On the less bright side, being more awake means his brain is going a mile a minute processing this whole trainwreck of a morning and the implications of it all. Derek certainly features prominently, if not exclusively, in Stiles’ own spank bank but he’s not sure what to make of the idea that he might just feature in Derek’s as well and he’s so not going to ask. He must be imagining things.

Derek, who thinks Stiles has appeared in his kitchen for free food again once he finally comes downstairs, has to drive him to school but at least his house is way closer to campus. He’s still a few minutes late but he looks so pale when he gets there that the professor tells him after the exam that he should stop by the campus health center to get checked out because he doesn’t look well and that he won’t be deducting points for lateness because illness shouldn’t be penalized. 

Stiles doesn’t bother to correct him but goes to hide in the library until Scott’s done with his afternoon classes and he can track him down for a ride home. He ends up picking up a part-time job as a library assistant while he’s there because apparently it works with his class schedule and it’s not like he doesn’t already have the card catalog practically memorized. Spending more time at the library will probably save him from embarrassing himself in front of Derek and spilling his feelings all over him any more than he already does. He’s been really good lately, the pack has been in a good place- he doesn’t want to fuck anything up for any of them.

  

3

The third time he remembers to put his phone in the jeep and lock it up before he makes the doorway, not wanting to fry his new phone. He’s tired, he’s drunk, it’s probably not the best time to be fucking around with magic but it’s definitely a worse time to try to drive. He’d gone out with some guys from class after the last of the finals and applejack is some straight bullshit. Never again. Drinking with fellow humans was much more enjoyable than being drunk under the table by werewolves with super livers. As a bonus, he doesn’t have to worry about saying anything self-incriminating to his favorite werewolf.

Not to be outdone, he’d kept up shot for shot with his classmates in addition to the flights they were all doing until their also very human significant others came to collect them from the hipster bar off campus and drag them home. 

Home. Bed. All the nice things. Stiles wants to get home and curl up in bed where he belongs. He can do it, it’s about belief right... He’s drunk and drunks believe a lot of things. So he believes he can do it and goes for it, sloppily whipping out his chalk from his pocket and crudely drawing a doorway on the side of the closest building and watching it shimmer into being. It’ll work fine. He doesn’t even bother trying to get his shoes off before faceplanting on the bed that he’d apparently made a door directly above. He just passes the fuck out, face buried between the pillows.

He wakes a little later when he’s being nudged to his side and somebody’s trying to get him to sip some water. He drinks some to get them to go the fuck away because his head and his stomach are killing him right now and rolls closer to the wall, going right back to sleep. 

He wakes again in the morning with his face plastered between the wall and a pillow in a puddle of drool. He’s uncomfortable in that particular way that only happens when you’ve slept in your clothes and haven’t brushed your teeth before bed. His stomach also feels absolutely rotten, fucking applejack. Never again. Seriously. 

When he bothers to open his eyes he notices that the wall in front of him is a very particular shade of green, Lounge Green in fact, that Stiles distinctly remembers having picked up from Sherwin-Williams with Derek when they painted the new house and not the crisp white walls of his own room. 

Well, shit. 

Not the first time he’s commandeered Derek’s bed but definitely the first time he’s ended up there without telling Derek, or being told by Derek, that he wasn’t up for driving and needed to crash here. 

He rolls over onto his back with a flop and notices the doorway he’d come through has long since vanished. His left arm lands on a still sleeping Derek beside him. Well, he was still sleeping til he got whacked and now he’s awake and looking at Stiles with a mixture of concern and laughter in his eyes.

“Morning sunshine, rough night?”

“Ugh,” is all Stiles can get out as he tries to shimmy out of the bed without climbing all up on Derek’s gorgeous everything with his drooly, morning breathy, yesterday’s clothes peak level grossness. He smells like a pub to himself, it’s probably way worse for Derek. Ugh. It’s ok, he didn’t need his dignity. 

“Water and Motrin are already on the counter with a towel and a change, I’ll go get started on the coffee and breakfast.”

Stiles wants to be embarrassed or mad or something but he can’t. He feels gross, for sure, but he also feels a quiet contentment permeating his everything at Derek taking care of him no questions asked, anticipating his needs, not leaving him to possibly drown in his own vomit or get murdered in his sleep. He’s such a good dude, something Stiles never thought he’d ever say back when they first met and they thought he was a murderer and all. He fucking loves him and sometimes he’s just full to bursting with it and thinks it can’t help but come spilling out. It doesn’t. 

What he says instead is a grumbly, “Nooooo. No food. Just a quick death.”

As he shuffles the rest of the way into the en suite he hears Derek laugh as he slides on his slippers, “No death for you Mr. 4.0 and your stomach wants my bacon I can hear it from here. You dying is not allowed.”

Once Stiles has showered and brushed his teeth, the hydration and the meds have kicked in, and he’s feeling slightly more human, his stomach does cooperate with Derek’s breakfast. The bacon, cheesy egg scramble, and multi-grain toast calm his roiling stomach. When they’re done with the show they’re watching over breakfast and Derek drives him to go pick up his car, his dad doesn’t look the least bit surprised when Derek pulls away from the curb after tailing Stiles home like he was going to run into some sort of trouble between campus and the driveway.

 

4

Erica’s on the phone with Stiles while she’s driving to Derek’s for pack dinner night after class. Stiles had to head home for a few things he’d forgotten to throw in the back before he left for his morning classes. Derek’s got a great kitchen but there are just some things that you can’t find in the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog that Stiles’ family has held on tight to and passed down through the generations. 

Stiles swears by his busia’s cast iron. Everything he cooks in it tastes so much better that Erica has even joked perhaps the cookware was charmed to be that way. Knowing now that he's a spark and that it's generally an inherited trait, there may actually be some truth to Erica's jest. Today they’ve already discussed Stiles’ preoccupation with his cookery and have moved on to the topic of the college grind. 

Erica’s rant about how disorganized her psych professor is and how she wonders if the whole shit show is some warped social experiment to make a point cuts off with a sharp silence that immediately draws Stiles’ previously drifting attention right back to her. 

“Erica?”

There’s another pause followed by, “Stiles, don’t panic but-“

If there are any words in the English language more sure to cause a panic, he’s not sure what they are. He’s instantly keyed up and gripping his phone tightly. 

“Erica,” he asks more carefully than he feels, “why do I hear sirens? Where are you?”

“They just passed me, I’m almost to the house. I smell smoke-” 

Yeah, fuck that. 

“I’ll be right there.”

Before he can even hear her protest he’s drawn up to the doorway and stepped through, phone still clutched in his hand and power cutting off as he passes through the portal. Well, shit. There goes another phone. He drops it to cover his face with his sleeve, trying to block the black billowing smoke and looking around the best he can.

“Derek?! Isaac?!” He calls out, not seeing them in the kitchen where they should have already been prepping food for tonight. There’s a cutting board and some scattered items on the island but no werewolves in sight.

Derek comes barging in the back door, looking livid, and dragging Stiles back outside with him into the pouring rain to where the firefighters are gathered around a still smoking but no longer flaming microwave and EMT’s have thrown a blanket over Isaac’s shoulders and appear to be insisting he get some supplemental oxygen because they don’t know any better. He looks guilty as fuck and Stiles is still trying to get his own heart rate in check, clutching Derek’s shirt with one hand and his knees starting to wobble with the adrenaline crash.

The Toyota screeches to a halt and Erica tears through the muddy side yard and past the gathering of first responders to throw herself onto Derek, pinning Stiles between them in a tight hug. He barely has time to hear Boyd, who was thankfully one of the responding firefighters, comment that Stiles must’ve been upstairs when they’d cleared the first floor thinking only Isaac and Derek were home so that nobody starts looking into how another person suddenly appeared before she’s talking over them.

“Everybody okay here? You good? You good?” She rushes out, not releasing her hold enough for Stiles to get a word in edgewise.

“It’s fine, really. It’s just a microwave. It can be replaced.” Derek says quietly, a calming hand on the back of her neck. “I know there’s a lot of smoke, but really it’s fine.”

The oldest of the firefighters nods to Derek. Stiles wonders if he’d been one of the first responders to the Hale fire, if he’d been expecting the worst when the alarm went out for the Hale house again just as Stiles had been. Stiles had absolutely thought hunters, not microwaves, and he’s never been more glad to be wrong than he is right now.

Erica eventually loosens her grip and shuffled over to where Isaac is sitting, shoulders slumped, and gathers him up in a hug as well. 

Stiles backs off Derek a bit and toes the microwave with his now muddy shoe.

“You’re right, that’s quite a bit of smoke. What happened?”

Lydia and Jackson must have pulled up at some point in the interim because Stiles can see them opening the windows with Boyd. Boyd looks great in his turnout gear but Stiles can’t even comment on that or thank him for a job well done covering all their asses because he’s still trying to calm down from the emotional whiplash. Airing out the house is a good idea, even though the rain may get into some of the windows. Nobody wants to be in a smoke-scented Hale house, least of all Derek, and Stiles is glad they’re taking care of it. 

Erica’s gotten the EMTs to leave Isaac be and has dragged him back over to Derek and Stiles. Stiles isn’t a werewolf but even he can tell Isaac reeks of guilt and misery.

“I’m sorry, Derek. I’m so sorry,” Isaac says with eyes wide as saucers.

“Nobody’s hurt, it’s fine Isaac. Really.”

Isaac lets out a wounded sound but sinks into the arm Derek loops around his shoulder.

Lydia’s thanked everyone and Boyd’s started clearing the area when the Sheriff’s cruiser pulls up and Stiles is trying to get everyone in the pack back inside and out of the rain. The floors were chosen with a wolf pack in mind but this much mud is still gonna be a bitch to clean.

Boyd pauses to give Erica a kiss before climbing back on his rig with the rest of the fire crew and heading back to the station. When Lydia and his dad come back in everyone’s slumped into their dining chairs. His dad’s got a pinched look on his face at what he probably counts as a near miss, though it’s tinged with the relief at coming onto a scene that isn’t a tragedy. Stiles definitely shares the sentiment. 

“I’m never making pizza rolls again,” Isaac declares from where he’s leaning over his bent arms on the table looking for all the world like a kindergartner.

“Pizza rolls?” His dad asks before he can form the words and Derek just looks solemn beside him.

“I was hungry. I thought they’d be done faster if I used the microwave instead of the oven.” 

“Amateur mistake,” Jackson scoffs, “everyone knows pizza rolls only taste good when they’re baked.”

Which, while true, is not what Isaac needs to hear right now and Stiles, Lydia, and Derek shoot him a matching look that’s got him quieting right down.

“How long did you put them in for?” His dad asks, not that it changes the outcome or the very pungent stench that even their human noses can pick up. 

“I don’t know, I was tired. I thought if I put it in for longer I could cook more at a time,” Isaac demurs.

“Ten minutes,” Derek answers for him and Isaac literally drops his head to the table in shame with a resounding thunk.

“I’ll replace the microwave,” Isaac says with his face still firmly planted on the table.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, now we’re all hungry and Stiles promised me pierogi and kielbasa so what are we doing here? I can taste the pizza roll abominations just by breathing and I doubt Stiles risked busia’s pans through the portal so I vote we head to Casa Stilinski. Pretty please...” Erica’s looking at Stiles and his dad with puppy dog eyes she could only have learned from Scott.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll still feed you all,” Stiles smiles, pleased that Erica likes his cooking enough to relocate across town. He wasn’t going to argue about escaping the stench though. Much as he loves this house and the people in it, he’s practically gagging at the smell and he’s pretty sure his clothes are going to smell like this forever and this smell will never leave his nose. It’s the worst. It’s got to be unbearable for the pack, for Derek.

“Speaking of your mode of transportation,” Lydia says with a quirk of on perfectly plucked brow, “I guess you’ve figured out how to make them less transient?”

Stiles turns around and sees the outline of the doorway he’d made still prominent on the wall of Derek’s kitchen, the same place as the first successful portal he’d ever made. He shrugs in response while wondering if multiple stops at the same location has an impact on that but he’s able to open it up and see right into his own kitchen on the other side so it’s definitely still functional.

“Anybody that doesn’t want to drive can head this way but ditch the muddy shoes first, I am not scrubbing the hardwood tonight. Also, maybe leave your phones here if you want them to stay functional...”

***

Much later, after everyone’s fed and headed back to Derek’s courtesy of the now seemingly permanent doorway Stiles created to get back to their own cars and head home, Stiles is helping Derek shut all the windows and dry up the wet patches. Despite his earlier declaration that he didn’t plan on cleaning tonight, he does help Derek clean up the house as well. No early classes tomorrow morning, he’s got the time. Even if he didn’t have the time, he’d make the time and they both know it.

Once they’ve settled with some post-cleaning hot chocolate on the couch that Stiles swears still smells like the horror that is burnt pizza rolls, Derek’s looking half constipated half livid again.

“Let’s have it then,” Stile says before innocently sipping his hot chocolate. He’d put in the time and effort to get to the point where he could read Derek like a book. Dude may be rather shit about discussing his emotions instead of bottling them up but Stiles thinks he’s done a pretty good job at making sure he’s always aware that he doesn’t have to do that with him anymore because he’s not alone.

Derek grasps his still warm mug between his hands, a soothing habit that Stiles himself is enjoying and is exactly the reason why he’d made the cocoa in the first place. Granted, it’s Keurig cocoa, no stove or microwave required thank you very much, but it still counts.

“You could’ve died,” Derek says, looking at his cocoa and not at Stiles.

“From eating those pizza rolls? Probably. They smelled fucking atrocious. I don’t think even your stomach would’ve survived them. I told you to stop buying those things, they’re crappy. Growing betas need their fruits and veggies. Isaac was supposed to be in charge of the veggie tray, if I recall correctly. How did he decide pizza rolls were a suitable substitute?” Stiles tries to redirect but Derek’s looking increasingly displeased and is clearly not having it.

“No, Stiles. From running into a building you thought was on fire.”

Oh. Yeah, that whole thing.

“Hey, you said yourself it was just smoke. Isaac probably needs a fire safety refresher because opening the door to the flaming microwave and feeding the fire was probably just as stupid as putting pizza rolls in for ten minutes and then carrying the flaming microwave through the house and yeeting it onto the wooden back porch was probably not his brightest hour. But the downpour helped with all that and, on the bright side, we know your fancy schmancy home alert system works because the fire department got here quick as hell when he set off the smoke detector.”

“You didn’t know it was just smoke and a microwave accident, Stiles. You can’t do that. You can’t go running in at the first sign of danger. You’re human and you are not impervious to fire or anything else. Don’t be an idiot, Stiles. You can’t do that.” Derek looks up to Stiles now, no longer talking to his cocoa.

“Derek Hale,” Stiles says, uncrossing his legs and setting his cocoa down on the coaster on the coffee table in front of him so he can scooch closer to Derek and put his hands around Derek’s, “you’re a complete fucking idiot if you think for one second that I will ever not show up for you, for this pack.”

“Stiles,” and the word is many things at once. A warning, an acceptance, a bit of lingering panic at what could have happened and what had happened so many years before, a question. All the things.

“We’re fine, Der. You said yourself, nobody’s hurt,” Stiles murmurs reassuringly. “I would absolutely still go into a burning building for you though. A portal’s a hell of a lot faster of a way out than trying to traverse a structure fire and there’s no backdraft to worry about. It’s actually the safer of the options.”

Granted, Stiles hadn’t exactly been thinking about that at the time but he’s had a few hours to think of a semi-logical way to explain his actions when he knew that sooner rather than later that Derek was going to call him on them. Derek had a zero-tolerance policy for Stiles getting hurt, which was pretty hard to enforce when he hasn’t known Stiles to ever back down from a damn thing even when it’s dangerous. Especially when it’s dangerous, and especially when any one of the pack was in danger.

“You’re an idiot.”

Stiles just smiles and leans back into his spot on the couch grabbing his mug back up on the way, “Shut up and drink your cocoa before it goes cold, Hale.”

5

Derek’s gone. The car is gone, the house is empty, Derek’s duffle and clothes are gone. Stiles had come over to check on him because Derek’s phone went straight to voicemail and they were supposed to be making that yummy chicken dish again tonight and installing the new built-ins in the den. He wanted to know if they were missing any ingredients because he was stopping at the store on his way there but it was unlike Derek, these days at least, to let his phone die. 

What he found instead of Derek, when he let himself in through the front door with the actual key that Derek had given him and told him to use it and stop portaling into the kitchen at his convenience, was a note from Derek on the kitchen island in a very deserted house.

All it said was, ”Have to run. Sorry about dinner. -D”

“What the fuck Derek?!” Stiles yelled after making totally sure the wolf was not here and this wasn’t some sort of joke. 

He goes back to the jeep to grab the new Tracfone he got after burning out his last actually good cell phone in the portal. He activated it after class before heading over but hadn’t bothered porting his number over since he was sure he’d burn this one out in the next week if his current pace kept up. He figured he could survive with the temporary number for a week. 

He knows Scott is in a lab for his microbio class right now and nobody wants to get staph aureus on their phone but this is urgent so he shoots off a text, making sure to sign it since it’s an unknown number, and hopes the professor doesn’t give Scott shit for answering.

“Had to go, on plane” is all Scott texts back before a quick, “middle of gram staining right now can’t talk” because of course.

On a fucking plane? Swanning off into the desert before with Braeden wasn’t bad enough now he’s off on a plane to get as far away from Beacon Hills as possible? Derek’s got a good life here. The pack is stable, they’ve got everything on lockdown- what is there even to run from? There’s no sign of hunters and if there was his dad and Chris would be here and Scott would’ve blown off lab for sure.

It hits Stiles like a brick wall to the face- it’s him. He’s been spilling his obnoxious feelings all over Derek for years now and it’s finally become too much. He’s inserted himself all over Derek’s life and all over his rebuilt home even, he glares at the portal doorway across from him in the kitchen like it’s mocking him. Instead of telling Stiles to back off he’d just left it all behind. Because Stiles was an asshole. 

But he doesn’t have to be an asshole! He can get to Derek, tell him he’s sorry and that he’ll give him all the space he needs, whatever he needs to not give up on Beacon Hills. He can’t leave, not again. 

Before he can think better of it, Stiles is channeling everything at his disposal into getting to Derek. Considering all of his portals so far have brought him unfailingly to Derek since he’s started working with them, even when that wasn’t his goal, he isn’t as worried about this not working as he should be given that he doesn’t exactly know where in the world Derek is right now. A fact which is entirely evident on Derek’s thunderous face as Stiles basically clambers right into him in the tiny airplane restroom where Derek’s just finished drying his hands on a paper towel.

Stiles is rambling about how Derek doesn’t have to leave and Derek’s steamrolling right the fuck over him because no, just no.

“You could have died Stiles! What the hell were you thinking?! I’m on a fucking airplane! What if your doorway opened onto the wing, or the engine, or not here at all?!” Derek seethes quietly, not outright shouting because of the confined space and probably also because the stewardesses are probably stationed just beside the restrooms like they are on most flights.

“There are so many ways this could have gone horribly wrong which I am now mentally cataloging all of, thank you very much, but did you really think I was just going to let you leave? Just like that?” Stiles breathes out, trying to match Derek’s volume even though he feels like his heart is going to explode in his chest. 

The glowing frame of the portal shimmers out of existence and before Derek can answer there’s a quiet knock on the door, “Sir, is everything all right in there? We’ve hit a little turbulence and the captain would like everyone back in their seats please, seatbelts on.”

Derek heaves a sigh and looks heavenward, grabbing Stiles by the hand and unlocked the door. The stewardess gasps as the two of them come out of the small restroom and Derek all but drags him to his seat in the emergency exit row. They were not joining the mile high club, thank you very much. Stiles is pretty sure that’s the last thing on either of their minds even though the scandalized look the stewardess is giving them seems to show she thinks otherwise.

Stiles is grateful that the flight doesn’t look overly full, the seats around them sparsely populated, and it looks like Derek had had this row to himself prior to Stiles’ arrival. Derek jabs his seatbelt into place with more force than necessary and crosses his arms over his chest, muscles looking delicious in the tight navy blue shirt he’s got on with his sleeves pulled up halfway. 

Stiles buckles his own seatbelt and looks squarely at Derek. He came all this way, wherever the fuck they currently are, and Derek’s stuck with him at least until they land. Hopefully longer than that, but not in a creepy way because he was 100% serious about backing off and giving Derek the space he so clearly wanted.

When Derek continues to brood in his seat and Stiles can’t stand the silence anymore he says, “Seriously, Derek? A note?”

“I left you a voicemail!” He defends but follows up quickly with, “Although now I’m realizing it’s probably still burnt out and wasn’t just off for an exam or something. I had to go-”

“Beacon Hills is your home Derek, how can you just leave like this? I’m sorry if I-”

“Stiles,” Derek says with a look of understanding washing over his features and smoothing them out, softening his tone and uncrossing his arms, “Beacon Hills is home and I’m going to go back. I had to run because Cora’s in labor and her alpha called me to tell me she wanted me there. I wouldn’t just leave like that, not now.”

Now that he has a house, has friends, has a life. He doesn’t say all that but Stiles hears it anyways.

“I’m still pissed that you showed up without thinking of yourself and what could happen to you again- you can’t do shit like that Stiles, you matter too much- but I get that I probably could have been more clear so you wouldn’t freak out. I didn’t think you would come after me.”

“Hey, it worked though. I’m here and not in a million little pieces courtesy of an airplane engine and I didn’t plummet to my doom,” He tries for a smirk but Derek’s not having it. “Seriously though, I will always come after you when you need me to. If you want your space, you can have it and I’m sorry if I’ve overstepped but I didn’t want you to feel like you had to leave, like it was your only option.”

He places a gentle hand on Stiles’ neck and it calms them both.

“I know,” Derek smiles then and Stiles can’t help but smile back.

“So it’s baby time? I didn’t realize she was that far along. Do I get to meet the baby before the rest of the pack now too?!”

“Not unless you happen to have your passport on you,” Derek says as Stiles’ face falls. “But they don’t check them right off the plane so as long as the stewardess doesn’t raise alarm about your sudden appearance, give me like 15 minutes to get through security and get a car and then you can make a door in a restroom stall or something, since there are apparently no limits to where you will appear.”

Stile squawks at that, “Hey! I don’t have precise control over that, I did not mean to barge into your bathroom break!”

Derek just laughs and says, “We’ll have to see if your dad can overnight your passport for the return trip. Your next class isn’t until Tuesday morning right?”

Stiles just facepalms because yes, while they can probably work around the passport issue, for now, it will definitely be an issue for the return trip. As much as he wants to smush and coo at Cora’s new baby, he does have to be back in time for his stupid 8am class because he’s pretty sure South American jaunt to see your friend’s sister’s new baby is not an excusable absence. 

“I’m gonna have to borrow your phone for that. Dad’s gonna love getting that call,” Stiles curses, his newest phone hadn’t even lasted two hours. On the plus side, this is the furthest he’s ever managed to create a doorway, both height-wise and distance-wise. Plus it was a moving target so he’s gonna assume that dials the difficulty up to 11. 

Sitting here next to Derek, knowing Derek is coming home and that everything really is fine, Stiles doesn’t feel the least bit burnt out even though he thinks the effort should’ve wiped him. Knowing Derek is here, safe, and happy with his life has him radiating joy and from the way Derek’s smiling back at him, he thinks the werewolf can tell. Maybe he doesn’t mind so much that Stiles has been spilling his feelings all over him, maybe.

Spoiler alert: Cora’s baby is absolutely adorable and the rest of the pack is jealous that Stiles got to see the baby first, after Derek of course.

+1

Derek has been taken. His car’s found on the side of the ring road that loops around the preserve with a tire blown out. Stiles is hopeful that maybe he just didn’t have a spare so he ran home- a hope that’s cut short with Parish informs him there’s a bullshit ransom note left on his front seat written for the alpha of the territory and a second set of tracks peeling away from the scene.

Scott is broke, they’re not sitting on a mountain of gold like a family as old as the Hales was when they held this territory. They’re community college students with crappy part-time jobs at the vet clinic and shelving at the library. They are not coming up with that cash and of course Peter, the one who possibly could come up with the cash, isn’t answering his fucking phone because he’s out of town on one of his international collector trips. 

Stiles would complain about that but Peter still, for whatever reason, seems to like him so Stiles is usually the only other person allowed any access to his collections of rare tomes- including the ones that had led him to try the portal doorways in the first place so thanks for that Peter but seriously learn to answer your phone.

Chris is working a job in Kansas but he says he’ll put feelers out to see who could be in town. He says it’s unlikely to be hunters because they know that’s his territory and also because they tend to kill first and ask questions later, not ask for ransom for random betas. He gives them the name of a good shop to take the car to get the tire fixed, like that’s all he can help with for now and like they have the money for whatever fancy tired a Camero takes. Fuck that. He gets it towed and pays with his credit card anyways.

His dad and Parish are coming up empty too until they aren’t. They got a print off the paper, ha guess the perp assumed covering their scent was the most important thing and forgot that half the sheriff’s department of Beacon Hills is either in the know or supernatural so almost all this shit goes through people who work all the angles, including such mundane things as fingerprinting evidence.

They get a hit on the print that matches the employment records for the janitor at the high school. He’s got no prior criminal record and Chris doesn’t recognize his name as being associated with any hunter families so they’re at a loss until the pack rounds him up and he brings them back to a hopefully unscathed Derek. 

Stiles can’t be made to wait. He’s full of a restless energy and they’ve reached the deadline to make the money drop. Scott’s going to the designated drop point with a decoy bag with a tracker and a nice glamour, courtesy of Deaton, to make the bag look like it’s got the cash with the rest of the pack scattered about the vicinity to try and get a scent and trail the guy. 

Stiles can’t fucking wait. He takes out his chalk and makes the doorway, blowing right through to the other side, eyes aflame with fury. He just needs to get to Derek. 

He finds himself in the BHHS basement with Derek tied to a chair and trying to wiggle a claw, slowly sawing the wolfsbane-soaked ropes that bind his wrists. It’s clearly slow going and the person who tied him didn’t look overly experienced with kidnapping because this is not the best hiding place and that’s some fairly minimal restraint for a freaking werewolf. 

The second Stiles touches the bindings they fall to the floor and spark until they are naught but ash, like a sparkler in July. Derek’s eyes are blown wide as Stiles grabs the front of his henley and wrenches him from the chair, kicking it away with extreme prejudice, and pulls him into a tight hug.

“If I’m not allowed to die, neither are you. You’re not allowed to get kidnapped either,” He huffs into Derek’s neck.

“I had it handled, but thanks,” Derek says, relaxing slightly into the hug but still looking around for threats.

“Yeah, that looked super efficient. I’ll have to have Chris teach you his wooden chair trick because you would’ve been home hours ago and I wouldn’t have shaved years off my life in a panic.”

“If you let me go we can probably get going. He’s a werebear so he’s strong but I don’t think he’s still here. Left like ten minutes ago.”

“He’s lucky he’s not here,” Stiles mutters darkly before saying more audibly, “Nah, he thinks he’s getting a pay day from Scott. Dad and Parish will intercept with the rest of the pack. What a dumbass.” He pulls back to look at Derek once more, skin at his wrists looking like it wants to heal but struggling, “Did he hurt you, I mean besides the obvious from the craptastic restraints?”

“No, he shouldn’t have been able to get me in the first place. He’s strong but not that strong.”

“Well, let’s go get those rinsed out so you can heal right and I’ll trash the outfit which sucks because I love you in that shirt so it’s a shame wolfsbane doesn’t wash out well enough to not continue being a literal pain,” Stiles rambles while heading back to the portal doorway that’s still ajar.

Derek’s stopped walking even though Stiles has been dragging him gently by the cuff of his shirt towards their quick exit. 

“Come on Sour Wolf, I didn’t exactly drive here and I’ve never actually consciously left one of these open before so let’s get a move on.”

Derek just looks at him with his head cocked slightly to the side, “Your heartbeat- you meant that.”

“Meant what?” Stiles realizes Derek’s not taking another step until he parses together whatever it is he’s mentally stuck on right now but his own mind is going a thousand different directions right now so he’s waiting for Derek to spit it out.

“You said you love me… in this shirt.”

“Oh. Yeah, I did, didn’t I?”

Derek’s eyebrows seem to reply in a disbelieving affirmative.

“I mean, not just in that shirt. Also in all of your shirts, especially that fucking thumbhole sweater- like who even owns a thumbhole sweater anymore Derek. You do, that’s who. And it’s ridiculous but so soft and so stupid cute, never get rid of it. I also love you with no shirt, too,” there’s the briefest of eyebrow waggles there before he continues slightly more seriously but no less rambling, “Or just, like, you know, in general, like all the time, but you have to know that already- and yeah in that shirt too. Shame that it’s got to go in the trash now let’s go before this door slams in our faces or scatters our atoms all over time and space or some shit.”

Derek looks at him a moment more but Stiles just tugs on his sleeve and pulls him through the doorway with him. He’s gonna need another fucking phone because he forgot to chuck his onto the desk before his impatience got the best of him. 

When they get to the other side and Stiles mentally slams the door and it fades out, he’s trying to shove Derek toward the closest bathroom to rinse to wolfsbane off. Derek stops moving again.

“I like you in that shirt, too,” Derek says with a soft smile. “And in general, like all the time.”

He takes a step closer to Stiles and raises his hands to cup his face. Stiles has to shift his focus from wolfsbane first aid to focusing just on the feel of Derek’s hands on his skin and that they’re so close they’re breathing the same air right now. And Derek likes him. Derek likes him, and gave him a key to his home, and cooks his favorite foods, and is all up in his space right now. This is a thing that is happening. 

“Liar,” Stiles smiles back, “I know for a fact you hate my Vegeta shirt but I’ll give you a pass since technically you said you liked me in it, not the shirt itself.”

“Shut up,” Derek huffs warmly.

“You gonna make me?” Stiles queries.

And that’s all the encouragement Derek needs to close what little space there is between them and kiss Stiles senseless. Well, senseless for as long as it takes for Stiles to run his hands up Derek’s everything and go to sweep a hand over his scruffy cheek which makes him hiss for an altogether less pleasant reason.

Stiles pulls back and tugs the hem of the shirt, “Up, up, up.”

Derek complies and pulls the shirt up and off, Stiles snatches it from his hand and tosses it into the trash bin. Derek moves to close the space between them again and Stiles shakes his head, frowning and gently nudges Derek toward the sink. 

“Wolfsbane is not sexy. Take care of all that and I’ll still be here.”

Derek drops trou right there while Stiles gapes like a fish and flings a clean towel onto the bathroom counter from the linen closet.

“Unfair, Derek! You are unfair!”

***

Much later, Scott barges into Derek’s room to find him sleepily entwined with his very naked best friend in a room that smells strongly of activities Scott never wanted to picture Stiles doing and very quickly backs out of the room and stumbles as loudly as possible down the stairs. 

After the faux ransom drop, they’d caught the janitor and he pretty quickly gave up Derek’s location between Scott’s fierce red eyes and the sheriff’s even more fierce business face. When they’d gotten there and Derek was already gone but Scott could distinctly smell both magic and Stiles, he pieced together that Stiles had forged ahead with a plan of his own. When his latest temporary cell rang to voicemail, that pretty much confirmed Scott’s theory so he set out to find them and make sure Derek was truly ok.

Brent the janitor swore he didn’t hurt Derek but Scott still needed to see him for himself. And saw he did. Too much. Sure, he’s seen Derek naked before a full shift but he didn’t ever need to see him in all his godlike glory with his equally naked best friend. He wants brain bleach but it’s not a real thing.

When Derek and Stiles join him downstairs, thankfully dressed this time and Stiles blushing, he explains that Brent’s rationale for his stunt was that he has two bachelor’s degrees and a crushing mountain of student loan debt. He says he’s too “overqualified” to get an entry-level job in his preferred field but at the same time lacks the required experience to get a higher level position. His stepdad hooked him up with the janitor gig but he thinks he should be more, could be more if he wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck to pay down his loans. He thought taking a Hale would help him pay down that debt and get out of his mom’s house but didn’t realize the alpha of the territory was a broke ass undergrad student who still lives with his own mom and cleans animal feces from cages to pay for gas and groceries. 

He’s deeply apologetic and, once Stiles is done feeling murderous about the asshole daring to think he could take Derek, Scott tells him that he thinks it’s actually a good thing to have a supernatural on staff at the school. Stiles does begrudgingly see the logic there, even if Brent is still on his shit list.

“Dare I ask what his degrees are in?” Stiles asks once he’s calmed down a bit.

“Um,” Scott hedges before answering, “Performing Arts and Poetry.”

“He’s not a great actor,” Isaac says.

“But he sings like a bird,” Erica laughs because he really had given up the information rather quickly.

“He’s a tool,” Jackson decides.

“Says the high school jock that got into college on a lacrosse scholarship and daddy’s alumni status? That’s classic tool,” Isaac throws in, always willing to take a stab at his compatriots. 

Jackson just glares at him, “You’re riding that lacrosse scholarship too, Lahey. Don’t front.”

Isaac just laughs and then adds more seriously, “Although, Stiles, you may want to take a portal break or something because there was literally a doorway size chunk of the foundation missing when we got to the school basement to find Derek. Bad Actor Brent is going to hate having to clean that up.”

“Bad Actor Brent can suck a duck,” Stiles replies. “And now that we’ve all established that Derek’s alive and well and that my dad’s keeping Brent overnight in a holding cell to scare him straight, can you all kindly fuck off? Derek owes me dinner and I am not sharing with you heathens.”

“And you want to slow bone,” Erica smirks evilly.

“Goodbye, Erica,” Derek grunts, shoving her lovingly but forcefully toward the front door.

Scott hustles everybody else out in quick succession. As alpha, it’s his job to prevent them all from being traumatized by the things he has seen. 

“Have a good dinner,” Scott calls over his shoulder on his way out the door.

“Oh, I will,” Stiles calls back, “My boyfriend is not just a legit snack, he’s a whole meal!”

Scott hears Stiles’ cackling cut off with the unmistakable sounds of kissing, quickly followed by a breathy moan and he cannot possibly get off the Hale property any faster than he’s currently flying. Turnabout is fair play and he’s starting to regret all the Allison PDA he’s subjected Stiles to over the past few years. He has a feeling he’s about to be drowning in payback for the foreseeable future now that Derek and Stiles have worked their shit out.

And, for once, Scott’s not wrong.