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A Whole Strip of Condoms

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"What." Derek scowls at the strip of condoms that dangle in front of his face, mood darkening by the second. Shifting his glare to the idiot holding the condoms, Derek finishes that thought. "The fuck."

"Dude, they're condoms." Stiles looks at Derek like he's mildly worried for Derek's mental health, which is just… no.

"I know what they are, Stiles. Why are you giving them to me?" Derek's soft growl doesn't even make Stiles flinch, which is a shame. He can't even properly threaten spastic humans any more. What is his life?

Stiles shoves a hand through his hair before hopping over the back of the couch, landing rather gracelessly on Derek's shins and making them both hiss with pain. After he finishes writhing his way off Derek's legs, Stiles catches his breath and croaks, "Look, man, I'm just worried about you. You're a walking time bomb, okay? You need to get laid. I mean, it's pretty obvious your hand just isn't cutting it anymore, you know? So… take those and like, use them. Please? For all our sakes."

Derek looks down at the condoms, feeling his cheeks and the tips of his ears going hot with a blush. Plucking up the strip between his thumb and his forefinger, he flicks them back at Stiles. "If I find myself in a situation where I need condoms, I'm perfectly capable of providing my own. Your concern is touching," he sneers, "but I think I'm good."

Stiles sighs, looking down at the condoms where they're spread across his lap — Stiles apparently has quite an inflated sense of Derek's refractory period, judging by just how very long the strip is — and then looks back up at Derek, his eyes dark and serious. "Hey, I'm not… this isn't a joke, okay? I'm not pranking you or making fun of you. I'm genuinely worried about you, dude. Everyone's off doing their own thing now, and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who's been over here in the last two weeks. I just… I want you to be okay."

Something bitter and dark twists its way through Derek, an emotion he doesn't want to look at too closely. Instead, he picks at a tiny imperfection in his jeans until it frays before he finally trusts himself enough to speak. "Sex isn't always the answer, Stiles."

In Derek's experience, sex is never the answer, unless the question was, how can you fuck up your life more than you already have?

Stiles shrugs. "I know, but it doesn't hurt. And actually, it shouldn't hurt. If it does, you're doing it wrong." A fleeting grin touches Stiles' mouth before he half-heartedly punches Derek's shoulder. "Get back out there, big guy. At least try, you know?"

Derek scrubs at the back of his neck with bitten-off fingernails, relishing the sharp pain as they scratch the sensitive skin before the itch of healing kicks in. "Yeah, right. My track history isn't so great." So much for not letting his past come tumbling out of his mouth. Giving up with a mental sigh, Derek holds up his fingers, ticking them off one by one. "The murdering psychopathic hunter, the murdering psychopathic druid, and the hit woman assassin whose psychoses are still to be determined? I mean, how do you follow that up?"

Having the grace to wince at that, Stiles coughs out a weak laugh and says, "Hey, at least Braeden only killed people she was paid to kill. Plus, well, they were all smoking hot."

Giving in to a moment of vulnerability, Derek looks up at Stiles through the safety of his eyelashes and says, "I've tried. I just… I can't anymore. Not with someone I don't trust. I can't let down my guard enough."

"What about someone you do trust?"

Sinking back into the cushions of the couch, Derek glares at the television. It's playing some random sitcom at a low volume, the visual representation of white noise. "Yeah, well, that's not exactly an option. One's my sister, one's my alpha, and the other's…" Derek picks at that spot on his jeans again, head ducking instinctively as he mutters, ""

"So, I guess that's a no to the sibling incest kink, huh?"

Apparently it's still possible to shut Stiles up with the judicious application of a sofa cushion.


"Yeah, so, I've found nothing in either of the bestiaries or my best sources on the internet that even alludes to the possibility of unicorns being real, but… whoa."

The way Stiles cuts himself off mid-ramble, added to the skip-jump of his heartbeat, has Derek sitting up from where he's poring over a 19th century journal written in German. "What?"

"Jesus Christ," Stiles huffs, mostly under his breath, but… werewolf.

Derek no longer even apologizes for hearing things Stiles would probably rather he didn't, and he's pretty sure Stiles has forgotten what it was like to ever have true privacy.

Closing the journal on a sheet of notepaper to mark his place, Derek hefts himself to his feet and goes to see what it is that's got Stiles thrown for a loop. He's gone nearly speechless. For Stiles, that's one hell of a mental whammy.

As soon as he's close enough, Derek leans over Stiles, shamelessly reading over his shoulder. It's not… anything like what he expected. Nothing about unicorns or pegasi. There's not even a nice, pastoral picture of horses grazing in a field. No, instead it's a lurid looking webpage that has a flashing box offering cash for virgins.

"What." Derek really doesn't want to hear Stiles rant — again — about his lack of verbal punctuation, but seriously. This is a level of what the fuck that even knowing Stiles Stilinski for four years couldn't have prepared Derek for.

Stiles' next breath is shuddery and liquid-sounding, so Derek is at least comforted to know that Stiles hadn't meant to be on that webpage. "It's not… I was just… you know, the myths. About virgins. And I forgot to fucking turn on incognito mode, so apparently all my different search strings for unicorns and maidens and virgins made Google think I was looking or something… fuck. I dunno, man." Stiles' fingers jump to the trackpad on his laptop, and he's about to touch it when his fingers sort of spasm a little. "But shit. I mean. A thousand dollars."

"What?" Derek can feel his forehead wrinkling as his eyebrows draw together hard enough to cramp. "Stiles. Stiles. You can't seriously be thinking about this. Stiles!"

Stiles jerks, almost topples the chair, and then rights himself with a shaky laugh. "What? No, I mean. Of course not. Not really. But… shit, man. A thousand fucking bucks, just to have sex. Here I've always thought I couldn't pay someone to fuck me. Apparently I was just a little backward on that equation."

"Stiles…" Derek hates this. Hates that note in Stiles' voice, part mocking deprecation, part hopelessness. He's barely twenty and the kid's already given up on having any sort of normal life. Guilt hangs heavy on Derek's shoulders because he knows it's a lot his fault. Their fault. The pack, the supernatural bullshit, all of it. Without all this eating up nearly every spare minute of Stiles' day, he'd probably have all the significant others he could ever want. But there's not exactly an overabundance of sane singles in their circle of acquaintances.

"Hey, man, whatever. No way I could pull off a Julia Roberts, right?" Stiles coughs out a fake laugh and closes out the webpage, then slams the entire laptop shut like that action will do anything to erase that damn flashing ad from either of their memories.

Spinning around, Stiles applies pressure to Derek's chest until he remembers himself and steps back. When he has room to stand, Stiles does, and then immediately starts to pace. "Anyway," he says, all fluttery with nervous energy, "I got nothin'. You?"

Jolted back to their supernatural quandary du jour, Derek groans and scrubs a hand over his face, itching through the scruff that's slightly overgrown since he hasn't taken the time to properly trim it in a few days. "Nothing yet, but it's slow going. Bad handwriting and ancient idioms do not make for light reading."

Stiles claps him on the shoulder, and it's a gesture of solidarity he's shared countless times, but this time Derek feels the heat of his hand burning through the thin cotton of his t shirt. "We'll figure it out, big guy. It may just be a goat or something. Stranger things have happened."

Since Stiles is too filled with nervous energy, too wired to quietly research together, Derek grabs the journal he was reading and tilts his head toward the door. "I'll take this back with me. Maybe I'll sleep with it under my pillow or something. Eventually osmosis has to work, right?"

He'd been hoping to startle a laugh out of Stiles, but instead he just gets a spaced-out look and a jagged nod along with a distracted, "Right. Yeah, of course."

Derek looks down at the journal, turning it over and over in his hands before he glances back up at Stiles and says, softly, "Hey."

Stiles jumps, twitchy as hell. "Uh?"

"Look, I know… things have been a little tight for you and your dad, but that?" he gestured to the laptop, which might as well have been a ticking time bomb for the way they were both acting around it now. "Don't… don't do that, okay?"

A muscle leaps in Stiles' jaw as he glares down at where he's digging restlessly at a tiny hole in his t shirt. "Yeah, okay."


"I won't. Okay? Just… don't worry about it. It's not like I'd be able to look my dad in the eye again anyway, right? And shit, if he found out? God, just. No. So don't. Don't worry about it."

But of course, as these things happen, it's all Derek does worry about for the rest of the night and into the morning.