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Something New

Chapter Text

"So, Derek, how have you been?"

The clock was ticking loudly, disturbing the silence of the otherwise quiet room. Derek took a deep breath and tried to relax, letting his shoulder blades sink into the cushion. The popcorn ceiling was a pristine white and the room smelled faintly of the ocean.

"How many other people have been on this couch?" he asked. Dr. Morrell sighed.

"A few, but don't worry. I wash the cushion between every visit."

"Do you?" Derek asked, turning to face her, "Or are you just telling me that?"

Dr. Morrell scratched something onto her notepad quietly and looked at him again.

"How have you been, Derek?"

"Well, I'm currently lying on the couch of a therapist who probably thinks I have trust issues, if what you're writing on your notepad has anything to do with it."

This time, Dr. Morrell gave him an unimpressed glare.

"What have I told you about using your werewolf senses against me?"

"Not to?"

"Thank you," Morrell replied, nodding. "Let's try something different. How has the writing been going?"

Derek rolled his eyes.

"It hasn't."

"Still suffering from writer's block?" she asked, writing something else down in his file. Derek suppressed the urge to look at the paper and see what it was.

"I haven't written since my last novel," he continued, taking a deep breath. He knew that Morrell would report back to Laura, and if he was being difficult, she would kill him. "Every time I sit at the laptop, I just can't do it. The words won't come out."

"Maybe it's just a matter of finding inspiration," Morrell suggested. "I know you've had trouble with that since Kate."

"I don't want to talk about Kate," Derek growled. He could feel his claws pushing at his fingertips just from hearing her name and he forced himself to calm down.

"You don't have to," Morrell said gently. "We've already gone over her and what she did to you. Now it's time to work on moving past that."

"I'm trying."

Dr. Morrell eyed him carefully before speaking again.

"Derek, by the time you come back next week, I want a page of writing."

"About what?"

"Anything," Morrell continued. "I don't care if you think it's good or bad, as long as it's something."

"Can it be double spaced?" Derek asked carefully. Morrell smiled at him knowingly.

"Single spaced, size twelve font."

"Fine," Derek grumbled, standing to leave. "I thought I had graduated high school, but I guess not."

Morrell just continued to stare at him peacefully. Derek couldn't help but feel irked by her serenity, sitting there with her hands folded like she knew something he didn't.

"You might want to wash your pillow soon," Derek called, walking out the door. "I can smell the kelpie from here."

An older woman in the waiting room flipped him off and he smiled, letting his fangs drop.

It was only a page.

He could do it.

                                                                                                            * * *

"I can't do it, Laura," Derek groaned. He twisted another forkful of pasta and shoved it in his mouth.

"I think you can, Derek," she replied. "It's just writing. Come on."

"You don't get it," Derek replied, shaking his head. "I physically can't. It's like my fingers freeze and my brain shuts down."

"Shuts down?" Laura asked, "Or starts thinking about Kate?"

Derek was silent as he took another bite of pasta. He carefully avoided Laura's gaze. It reminded him scarily of Dr. Morrell.

"You're not supposed to be psychoanalyzing me," he said petulantly. Laura rolled her eyes.

"I'm a criminal lawyer, it's in my blood."

Before Derek could reply, there was the sound of keys jingling in the lock. Laura stood up, her whole demeanor brightening immediately as Boyd walked through the door.

"Hi, sweetie," he said, pulling Laura in by the waist to drop a quick kiss on her mouth. "How was your day?"

"I closed that murder case," she said proudly. Boyd beamed and kissed her again, longer this time. Laura giggled like a fourteen year old and Derek felt the food turn cold in his stomach.

Derek wanted to be happy for his sister and he was, but he couldn't help feeling a bit jealous that her and Boyd could be so happy together when he was so alone.

"Hey," Derek said quietly, nodding to Boyd in greeting.

"Derek," Boyd replied, returning his nod.

"My two cavemen," Laura said brightly, beaming at them both. Derek shook his head in amusement and stood up to bring his bowl to the sink. He washed it silently, doing his best not to listen in on Boyd and his sister whispering in the kitchen. When he was finished he shrugged on his jacket.

"You're leaving already, Der?" Laura asked. She waved him into the dining room and he debated it for a minute before obeying.

"I have a page to write," he said solemnly, earning him a glare from Laura.

"We both know that you're going to go home and eat ice cream while marathoning Keeping Up With The Kardashians."

Derek shook his head. How did Laura even know that? He always made sure to erase them from the PVR before she came over.

"Kourtney might be pregnant again," he finally said, cringing the minute the words left his mouth. Boyd smirked into his pasta and Derek flipped him off.

"Sorry, man," Boyd apologized, still grinning. "But hey, I have something for you."

"You do?" Laura asked, eyeing him warily.

Boyd stood and slipped into the garage, returning with something wrapped in a bed sheet.

"Don't put it on our kitchen table," Laura squawked. "It's reclaimed wood, you know how expensive that is."

"Right," Boyd said teasingly, winking at Derek. He placed it on the floor instead and unwrapped the cloth. Derek crouched down to see what it was and immediately smiled.

"A typewriter?"

"Someone brought it into the shop for scrap metal," Boyd explained. "It was too nice to destroy, so I cleaned it up a bit and figured you could use it."

Derek ran his fingers over the keys. They were silver, probably made of tin, and the pads were so worn that Derek could see where Boyd had re-lettered some of them. The rest of it was a rich brown wood that had been polished to a shine.

"Why would someone ever scrap this?" Derek asked, running his fingers across it reverently. Boyd shrugged.

"It was a young woman. Said it used to be her dad's but he passed away and she had no use for it anymore."

Derek wrapped the cloth around it again and picked up his new typewriter, holding it carefully.

"Thank you," Derek said honestly, holding his hand out for a shake. Boyd rolled his eyes and grabbed Derek's hand, pulling him in for a one-armed hug. Laura squealed from behind them.

"You guys are precious!"

"Goodbye, Laura," Derek said bluntly. She gave him a wide smile in return.

"Don't forget, dinner at your house on Thursday night!"

"Same as every week."

Derek walked out onto the porch, shutting the door behind him. From inside, he heard some shuffling before Laura's quiet voice floated through the wall.

"You are so getting laid tonight."

"Werewolf hearing!" Derek yelled, wrinkling his nose.

He could still hear Boyd's booming laughter as he got into the Camaro and drove away.

                                                                                                            * * *

The next morning, Derek woke up with a sense of impending doom.

Six days. He only had six days before Dr. Morrell wanted a full page of writing.

"It shouldn't be this hard," he growled, staring at the blank screen of his word document. "You can write about anything, Derek. Literally anything."

Unsurprisingly, his mind was still painfully blank. He sighed and stood up, bringing his empty mug of coffee to the kitchen. He refilled it and turned to head back to his office when he spotted the typewriter sitting on his kitchen counter. Derek lugged it upstairs and sat in bed, placing it on his lap.

Carefully, Derek rolled a fresh sheet of paper into place. The ribbon was new - Boyd must have replaced it. Derek made a mental note to thank him later.

Derek cleared his throat and hovered his fingers above the keys. He had always told Kate that the most important part of writing was to start with something you knew.

"It doesn't have to be good," Derek said out loud, focusing on Dr. Morrell's words. He took a deep breath and began to type.

Once there was a lonely, broken man.

Derek shut his eyes tightly, squeezing back the tears that threatened to make an appearance.

Well - one could call him a man, but he wasn't exactly that. He was a werewolf.

Derek read over what he had written so far and suppressed the urge to rip it out of the typewriter.

It was horrible.

With the familiar depressed feeling sinking in his stomach, Derek rolled over and fell asleep.

                                                                                                            * * *

"Oh my god," the man crowed, wiping tears from his eyes. He had taken the page from the typewriter and was holding it in his hands. "Seriously?"

Derek frowned and looked around. He was still in his bed, but there was a young man he didn't know sitting beside him.

"Derek?" the man prompted. When Derek still didn't answer, the man huffed and swung his body across the bed to straddle Derek's lap.

"I'm sorry," he said gently, carding his fingers through Derek's hair. "I know you've been having trouble lately, I shouldn't be making fun of you."

Derek frowned, taking in the man's features. It was undeniable - he was gorgeous. He had bright, whiskey coloured eyes framed by thick eyelashes. His pale skin was dotted with moles, and his lips - Jesus.

"I know that look," the man said happily, pulling Derek out of his observations. "That's your I-love-you-even-though-you're-weird look."

"I have one of those?" Derek said gruffly. The man smiled brightly.

"Only when you're looking at me."

He buried his face in Derek's neck, the sweet smell of contentment filling the air. Derek couldn't help the feeling of warmth that settled in his stomach.

"Come on," the man said after a few minutes, pulling away. "Let's go make you some of my famous iced coffee."

"I take it strong and black, actually," Derek replied, the corners of his mouth pulling up in a smile.

"Sorry, your sister already married him," the man teased. He grabbed a pair of Derek's sweatpants off the floor and pulled them on, heading to the top of the staircase.

"Wait!" Derek called. "What's your name?"

The man looked at him strangely.

"Shouldn't you know? You were yelling it pretty loudly in bed last night."

"Please?" Derek pleaded. The man smirked.

"Yeah, that too."

Derek couldn't help the flush that burned his cheeks and the man snorted.

"I'm Stiles, you giant dork. Now come help me with breakfast."


Derek swung his feet out of bed to follow him downstairs, but the minute they hit the floor, everything went black.

                                                                                                            * * *

Derek startled awake, clutching at the sheets. The sun was already going down and he quickly grabbed his phone off of the nightstand. Two missed calls from Laura and three text messages.

He had been asleep for nine hours.

He quickly called Laura back and reassured her that he was okay. He didn't want to tell her about Stiles yet. It was the first dream he had had in a long time that didn't leave him in a cold sweat.

"Are you sure you're okay, Derek?" she asked worriedly. "I don't want you to zone out on us again."

"I won't," he promised, his stomach twisting with guilt. There had been a rough couple of months after Kate had left him where Derek had dropped off the face of the Earth, and clearly Laura was still worried about it.

"You sound different," Laura said quietly. "Please tell me what's going on?"

"I will," Derek promised, running a nervous hand through his hair. "Just give me a few days until I figure out what exactly that is."

Laura finally agreed to that and let him go with the usual reminder of dinner at his house on Thursday. Derek hung up and checked his texts, deleting two profanity riddled ones from Laura. The third was from Lydia, his publisher. She was an intense woman to say the least and Derek sent back a vague reply, hoping to delay her questions about progress on his book.

Derek's stomach grumbled and he made the executive decision to grab some leftover Chinese food and crack open a beer. He settled down in front of the television, finally allowing himself to think about his dream.

Was his imagination finally getting back to where it had been before Kate? Someone as bright and magnetic as Stiles was by far the best thing he had thought of yet. Still, there was something too familiar about him - as if they had met before. People did say that every person you dreamed about was one you had once seen. Could he have passed Stiles on the street one day? 

Whatever it was, Derek wanted remember him. He ran upstairs and sat in bed with the typewriter, carefully transcribing every detail of his dream that afternoon. Once he was finished, it was a page and a half. Enough for Dr. Morrell, Derek realized.

He smiled contentedly and settled into bed. He could feel his muscles relaxing into the mattress, but he couldn't quiet his brain. He wanted to know more about Stiles.

After a restless half hour, Derek gave up and grabbed the typewriter again. He carefully started to map out a character sketch. It was four in the morning before he finally finished, with the sense of accomplishment that came from doing something after a long period of nothing.

With his writer’s block finally going away, maybe Derek’s life could get back to normal.

Chapter Text

Derek should have known by now that his life was anything but normal.

He woke to the sound of the front door closing and immediately scrambled out of bed. The only person who had a key to his house was Laura, and there was no way she would be coming over this early on a Thursday. It was three in the afternoon and dinner wasn’t until five.

He quickly grabbed his phone, checking to see if she had texted him. Nothing. His werewolf hearing wasn’t picking up on anything either, so Derek headed down the stairs. After a quick search of the ground floor, he confirmed that the house was empty. 

He could feel his hands begin to shake, remembering Laura’s first phone call with Dr. Morrell. 

Flashbacks and hallucinations, she had said. Seeing and hearing things that weren’t there. Mostly phantom flames, ghosts of a fire that had almost torn his life apart, but sometimes other things too. Kate’s scent. His little sister screaming. Doors slamming.

Derek wasn’t ready for it to start again. He was finally getting better, for christ’s sake. Now was not the time for a relapse.

Heaving a sigh, he headed back to bed. He knew that Dr. Morrell would look at him worriedly if he mentioned how much he had been sleeping lately, but he figured too much was better than the insomnia he had struggled with for months.

See? He thought, drifting off once again. Right to sleep. Things are getting better.

                                                                                                            * * *

“I can’t believe you’re still asleep,” Stiles snorted, shaking Derek awake. “I left for the farmer’s market hours ago.”

“The farmer’s market?” Derek asked sleepily, sitting up. Stiles cheeks were flushed pink with exertion, confirming that he had ventured out into the summer heat.

“I want dinner tonight to be good,” Stiles admitted, biting his lip nervously. “Laura’s the only family you have here. I want her to like me.”

 Derek couldn’t help but feel warmth flood his heart. Stiles didn’t know that he was nothing but a dream, and it was kind of nice to have someone care about him with no stakes. No one getting hurt.

“She’s going to love you,” Derek promised, wrapping his arms around Stiles’ waist and pulling him into his lap. Stiles let out a sound somewhere between a squawk and a laugh, wrapping his arms around Derek’s neck.

“Thank you, sleepyhead,” he replied, dropping a soft kiss on Derek’s forehead. “I’m going to go shower and then it’s your turn.”

“Okay,” Derek answered, reluctantly letting Stiles go. “Have a good shower.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow, a mischievous glint in his eye.

“You aren’t going to ask if you can shower with me?”

“I didn’t know that was an option,” Derek replied. He could feel his blood beginning to rush south, a sensation that was only furthered when Stiles smirked and stripped off his t-shirt.

“It’s up to you,” Stiles said carelessly. He stood up and began to walk towards the washroom, unzipping his shorts now. That was all Derek needed to leap out of bed, but just as before, things started to go black the minute his feet hit the floor.

“Stiles?” Derek called, feeling himself crumple to the ground as spots clouded his vision.


                                                                                                            * * *


Derek sat up quickly, sleep leaving him in an instant. He expected to see Stiles standing beside the bed, but instead it was Laura.

Right. This was real life.

“Are you okay?” she asked worriedly, pressing her hand against his forehead. “You’re really warm. Were you having a nightmare?”

“No,” Derek replied. “The opposite, actually.”

“Oh,” Laura said heavily, smirking at him. “I see. I guess that explains what got your blood pumping, huh?”

“That’s not what I meant,” Derek protested, his face flushing under his sister’s knowing gaze. “Good dreams. As in, the opposite of nightmares.”

“Right,” Laura conceded. “Makes sense. After all, who needs sex dreams when you’re having sex in real life?”

“What are you talking about?”

Derek hadn’t realized that she was hiding a hand behind her back until she dramatically whipped it out in front of her. Two of her fingers were gingerly pinching a pair of black boxer briefs.

“I found these on your bedroom floor,” she smirked. “I know they’re not yours because they’re a size too small.”

Derek opened his mouth and then quickly snapped it shut. How did those get there?

“They must be mine,” Derek insisted. There was no other explanation. “I probably just bought the wrong size without noticing."

“Uh huh,” Laura said dryly, clearly unconvinced. “Well if he’s special, I hope to meet him sometime soon.” 

“You won’t."

Laura sighed.

“Put some clothes on,” she demanded, thankfully dropping the conversation for now as she headed down the stairs. “I’ll order us some Chinese food."

Derek dragged himself out of bed, letting the sound of Laura and Boyd talking wash over him as he pulled on jeans and a t-shirt. By the time he got downstairs, Laura was already on the phone ordering enough chicken balls to feed a family of ten. 

“Hey,” Boyd said casually.

He was standing in front of the fridge, inspecting the calendar that Laura had put up a few months ago. It had all of Derek’s therapy appointments and deadlines on it. Morrell had insisted that if he organized his life, it would make it easier to organize all of the clutter in his head.

So far, it hadn’t really worked.

“Hey,” Derek greeted, raising an eyebrow. 

“You know,” Boyd smirked, “I don’t think Morrell wanted you to schedule your life in quite so much detail."

“What do you mean?”

Derek quickly joined Boyd in front of the calendar, noticing for the first time the purple gel pen scrawled across next weekend. In unfamiliar printing, it read HAVE SEX WITH STILES.

Derek could feel the blood draining from his face. Laura finished ordering and hung up the phone with a smile that quickly faded when she saw Derek’s expression.

“What is it?” she asked.

No, Derek thought. This is impossible. 

Stiles isn’t real.

“Derek?” Laura repeated, her expression turning worried. “What is it?”

As if on cue, the front door swung open. A loud whistle echoed through the house followed by a fond laugh.

There, standing in the doorway of Derek’s apartment, was Stiles.

Chapter Text

Up until that point, if someone had asked Derek what the most surprising moment of his life was, he would have said that it was hitting the New York Times bestselling list. 

That is, because he couldn’t say “when Kate Argent tried to burn me and my whole family alive.” 

Now, even that moment would come second.

“Hi,” Stiles said quickly, freezing like a deer in headlights when he saw Laura and Boyd. “You guys are here early.”

“Good thing or we wouldn’t have met you,” Laura said gleefully, smacking Derek on the arm as she walked forward. “I’m Laura, Derek’s older sister.”

“I know,” Stiles said slowly. His smile widened slightly, morphing from real happiness to something forced. Derek felt his palms begin to sweat. What the fuck was going on?

“Do you want to stay for dinner?” Laura asked eagerly. “I want to get to know the cutie that my brother has been trying to hide from me!” 

“Stiles, right?” Boyd asked tentatively. Stiles nodded, his smile getting even tighter.

“Thank you for the invitation, Laura,” Stiles replied, “but I think I should talk to your brother before I give you an answer.”

Derek stood frozen as everyone turned to look at him.

“Derek, go talk to him,” Laura insisted. She had a triumphant look in her eyes, as if she had won this battle, but Derek wasn’t even sure who was fighting. Stiles turned and began to walk up the stairs.

“You’re in the doghouse,” Laura sang quietly. 

Derek glared at her, following Stiles up the stairs until they reached Derek’s bedroom. Within seconds of shutting the door, Stiles whirled around and poked a finger against Derek’s chest.

“I can’t believe you,” he spat. “I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. Finally, you were trusting me enough to meet a member of your fucking family. But surprise, it was all a lie! What did you expect to do, Derek? Cancel on her at the last minute and then tell me she’d cancelled?” 

“Uh,” Derek said eloquently, still too stunned to process Stiles' rant. “Sorry?”

“You better fucking be!” Stiles hissed. “I can’t believe you. Was it easy to lie to me for these past few weeks? Is that what our relationship is?”

“No,” Derek said quickly, taking a step forward until his chest was pressed against Stiles‘ own. The proximity allowed Derek to admire Stiles properly for the first time - at least, in real life. 

His eyes were a soft whisky colour, framed with dark lashes. His cheeks were dotted with moles, and the usually pale skin beneath them was splotchy with anger. Derek couldn’t help but find it endearing. He had a cute upturned nose, and his lips - were moving.

“Don’t look at me like that.” 

Stiles’ eyes were still bright, but this time with a light sheen of tears.

“Hey,” Derek said softly. He wrapped his arms around Stiles‘ waist, resting them gently against his lower back. “If you tell me how I’m looking at you, I’ll stop.”

“You know how,” Stiles said miserably. Derek could feel the anger draining out of him. “It’s your I-love-you-even-though-you’re-weird look.”

“Isn’t that a good one?”

“Except I’m not being weird right now,” Stiles protested. “I’m being angry, and rightfully so.”

“I know,” Derek admitted, although he wasn’t entirely sure that he did. “I’m sorry.” 

“Why did you lie to me?” Stiles asked softly. He wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck, finally reciprocating the embrace. “If you weren’t ready for me to meet Laura, you could have just said so.”

Derek hadn’t been ready for Stiles to meet Laura. Frankly, he hadn’t even been ready to meet Stiles himself.

“I’m sorry,” Derek repeated. “I just forgot to tell her that you were coming to dinner.”

“I’ve reminded you every day this week,” Stiles said suspiciously. He removed his arms from around Derek’s neck and took a step back. “Why are you lying to me again?”

Derek stood motionlessly, wracking his brain for a way to fix this.

“You know what my dad always said?” Stiles asked. “One’s an incident, two’s coincidence-”

“And three’s a pattern,” Derek recited, the blood going cold in his veins. Derek had written that in Stiles’ character sketch. It was something he had seen in an old detective movie, and it had felt perfect for the character of a small town sheriff with a big-mouthed son. 

Stiles blinked in surprise for a moment before schooling his face back into a scowl.

“Don’t let this get to three,” Stiles spat, narrowing his eyes at Derek. He took a shaky breath before continuing. “Why didn’t you tell Laura that I was coming?”

“I didn’t think you were real,” Derek blurted. It wasn’t a lie, but Stiles didn’t seem to have any knowledge about where he came from, so he wouldn’t accept it as the truth either.

“Really in this, I mean,” Derek continued. “I didn’t want you to meet Laura and then break up with me a few days later. I just couldn’t handle that.”

Stiles’ face softened immediately. Clearly, Derek’s recovery hadn’t been too noticeable. 

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Stiles promised. “I’m in this for the long haul, okay? I love you.”

Derek felt like he’d been punched in the chest.

“I know it’s the first time one of us has said that, but it’s true,” Stiles continued. “I love you, and I’m not leaving, no matter what happens tonight. Okay?”

Stiles took a small step forward, holding his hands out in surrender as if Derek was a frightened animal. Derek nodded roughly, the echo of Stiles’ voice still in his head.

I love you.

“I’m going to go start dinner,” Stiles said. His hands were shaking, probably a result of nervousness from Derek’s lack of response.

I love you.

“I’ll see you downstairs,” Stiles said finally. He opened the door and Laura’s voice floated in from downstairs, breaking Derek from his trance.

“Stiles!” he called, taking a step forward. Stiles turned around, his hand still on the doorknob. Derek closed the few steps between them and cupped Stiles’ face in his hands, bringing their mouths together in a tentative kiss. Stiles’ mouth was soft and gentle beneath Derek’s. 

They separated after a few seconds, Derek’s mouth tingling warmly.

“That was even better than my dreams,” he said dazedly to himself, prompting a laugh from Stiles. 

“Pervert,” Stiles teased, smiling genuinely for the first time since walking in Derek’s front door. “Come on.”

Stiles slipped his hand into Derek’s, and with a nervous feeling in his stomach, Derek followed him downstairs.

                                                                                                            * * *

"I can’t believe you named him Stiles Stilinski," Laura said gleefully.

Derek clapped a hand over her mouth and dragged her further away from the kitchen, where Stiles was chopping mushrooms. He had been singing off-key the whole time and Derek hoped it was enough to cover Laura’s loud mouth. 

"You know how bad my writer’s block was," Derek replied defensively. Laura gave him a wide grin. 

"Sure, it was bad enough that you created a new fucking person.”

"I didn’t create him," Derek protested. "He was himself. I just-"

"Brought him to life?"

Derek sighed.


“How do you know?” Laura insisted. “Don’t tell me you haven’t considered that you might hold the power of creation in your hands.”

“I’m a werewolf, not Frankenstein,” Derek snapped. Laura laughed. 

“Well yeah, he created a monster. You created a really cute boyfriend who loves you.”

Derek’s heart clenched painfully at the reminder.

“Let me see what you wrote,” Laura begged. “It’s the only way to know for sure.” 

Derek grabbed the pages out of the drawer where he had shoved them earlier, scared that Laura would go snooping around his typewriter. The character sketch was at the top of the pile.

“Stiles Stilinski,” Laura read.

“It’s a nickname, because he hates his real name,” Derek explained. “Something Polish from his mother’s side. I never decided.”

Laura shot him a look and he snapped his mouth shut. She continued.

“Twenty-four years old. Born and raised in a small town in California called Beacon Hills. He grew up reading comic books, so naturally, his first crush was Captain America. He cried the day he found out that Steve Rogers wasn’t real.”

Derek recited the next bit from memory.

“He’s not so good at life sometimes - hyperactive, stubborn, and loyal to a fault - but he can feel a change coming. He’s looking for it, even.”

“Derek,” Laura said quietly, handing him back the pages. “Have you thought that maybe you wrote that because you wanted his change to be you?”

“Maybe,” Derek admitted softly. They were silent for a few seconds before Laura’s face lit up.

“You have to write something else!” she said, her voice hushed. “Say that he can speak French, or that he’s wearing a yellow vest, or that he has a scar on his left cheek. Something that will let us know if your writing did this.”

Derek opened his mouth to argue but quickly snapped it shut. The plan may not be ideal, but it made sense. 

Derek padded softly up the stairs and back into his bedroom, grabbing the typewriter off of his desk. He ran his hands over the keys, thinking, before tapping out a simple sentence.

Stiles has a tattoo of a triskele on his wrist.

Derek crept back downstairs. Laura was sitting at the dining room table with Boyd, their heads bent together in quiet conversation. They both jumped up when Derek entered, confirming his suspicion that Boyd had been filled in on everything. 

“What are we looking for?” Laura asked.

“Triskele tattoo on his wrist.”

Laura opened her mouth to respond but Stiles’ singing abruptly cut off and he stuck his head out of the kitchen door.

“What are you guys whispering about?”

“Nothing,” Derek replied quickly. Laura rolled her eyes at his blatant lie.

“Okay,” Stiles said slowly. “Well, dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes.” 

He walked fully into the dining room, flicking his eyes back and forth between the three of them. Laura shot Derek a look that said you’re-welcome-for-saving-your-ass and then stood up, turning towards Stiles.

“I ordered Chinese food,” she admitted. “Derek didn’t want me to tell you because you were so excited to cook us dinner, but I ordered it before I knew that you were coming.”

Stiles laughed, shaking his head in amusement. 

“Is that what you’re so worried about? I’m all for Chinese food! I’ll just put what I’m making in the fridge for Derek and I to eat tomorrow.”

“Perfect,” Laura said, smiling warmly. “Thank you.”

“No problem!” Stiles said brightly. And with that, he turned back toward the kitchen, his arms swinging with the movement.

There, on the inside of his right wrist, was a small black triskele. 

The three of them were silent as Stiles returned to the kitchen, his singing picking right back up. Boyd shot Derek a concerned glance.

“So maybe you didn’t create him,” Laura conceded. “But you control him.”

Derek felt a chill run down his spine. 

He didn’t want that, did he? To control Stiles?

It was a question that hung in the air all night.

Chapter Text

Before the whole Kate ordeal, Derek had a pretty good life. He had a gorgeous apartment, a successful writing career and a family who loved and supported him.

None of those things had changed, but Derek’s life was now constantly shadowed by guilt. It was his fault that everyone he loved had almost died.

Well, everyone except Stiles.

With Stiles, Derek was different. He didn’t feel the guilt that weighed on him with everyone else. Sure, their past was a little questionable - Derek still didn’t know how exactly Stiles had come into existence - but maybe it was better that way. A fresh start.

However you explained it, the past few months had been some of the best of Derek’s life.

For instance, there had been that time that Stiles dragged him to a pottery class. Stiles was determined to make a pair of salt and pepper shakers shaped like R2D2 and C3PO. Derek had tried to suggest that it might be a little ambitious, but Stiles was insistent. By the end of the class, they had two amorphous blobs and the old couple beside them was cradling their perfect candy dish and eyeing Stiles and Derek with pity.

When it was Derek’s choice for date night, there had been volunteering at the animal shelter. He had grown up with two German shepherds at home, and he missed the love and protection that a dog could offer. After an hour of cleaning and refilling food bowls, Derek found Stiles stationed in front of a cage petting one of the dogs through the bars. After twenty minutes of begging (Stiles), whining (the dog) and puppy eyes (both of them), Derek finally gave in. He was now the proud owner of a four year old Irish Wolfhound named Beaker. Luckily he recognized Derek as the alpha and never gave them any trouble, much to Stiles’ astonishment.

Most memorably, there had been the night Derek gave up the werewolf secret. Stiles took it a lot better than expected, his eyes immediately brightening with excitement as he took in Derek’s shifted face. That had resulted in an interesting make out session followed by various tests of Derek’s senses. He had drawn the line at a blindfolded ping pong game, but only because he didn’t want Stiles to feel too bad when he lost.

Despite all of these great memories, nights like the one they were currently having were still Derek’s favourite - just the two of them, lounging around their apartment and enjoying each other’s company. Derek was doing some pre-workout stretches on the living room carpet and Stiles was lying on the couch, pretending to read his book but mainly peeking over the pages to watch Derek.

“How’s the book?” Derek asked with a smirk. Stiles threw it to the other end of the couch and smiled brightly at Derek.

“This is way more interesting.”

Derek stopped stretching and stood up, dropping a kiss on Stiles’ mouth before heading to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. Stiles followed him, pouting exaggeratedly.

“Show’s over so soon?”

“Intermission,” Derek replied, gulping down the water. Stiles just laughed and leaned against the counter, watching Derek until he had finished his drink. Derek was about to head back into the living room when Stiles held him back with a gentle hand.

“I’ve been thinking about something.”

“We aren’t getting another dog,” Derek immediately answered. Stiles held back an indignant look, but couldn’t resist pointing his finger in Derek’s face.

“We will revisit that argument later.”

“Fine,” Derek conceded, pushing Stiles’ hand away. “What’s up?”

“When am I going to meet your parents?” Stiles asked. His cheeks immediately coloured and he looked downward shyly.

“Soon,” Derek promised, although there was an uneasy feeling in his stomach.

If Stiles met Derek’s family, Derek would have to tell them about the typewriter and then they wouldn’t leave him alone until he figured out where Stiles had come from and what was going on. For now, Derek was quite blissful living in ignorance.

Plus, if he met Derek’s family, Stiles might start to ask questions about his own. It would be hard for their relationship to come back from, “I dreamt about you once and then wanted to know more so I wrote that your mom was dead and it came true. Sorry about that one.”

Blissful ignorance. It may not be the best system, but it was working well enough for now.

“Soon is always your answer,” Stiles complained. “We’ve been together for eight months!”

(That was another one of those things Derek didn’t like to talk about - Stiles had gotten himself worked up once trying to remember their anniversary. Before things could fall apart, Derek ran upstairs and tapped out a date on the typewriter. Stiles had immediately settled down, and things had been great again, but it still made Derek a little sick to think about.)

“We can visit them for Christmas?” Derek suggested. Stiles crossed his arms in frustration.

“That’s five months from now.”


“I want to meet them sooner than that.”

“Thanksgiving?” Derek offered. Stiles shook his head.

“I was thinking we could take a trip to visit them next weekend.”

“Next weekend?” Derek repeated. Stiles didn’t usually argue with him and Derek wasn’t sure how to handle it.

“I’m not backing down,” Stiles insisted. “If they’re willing to have us, we’re going.”

Looking back on the conversation, Derek wasn’t exactly sure when he lost control of the situation. He had a strange feeling that he might not have ever had it. Either way, he had somehow ended up here: packing the car for a weekend trip to see his parents.

“We officially have water and snacks in the backseat!” Stiles said excitedly, his butt sticking out of the passenger’s side door. Derek couldn’t help but smile.

“I put all of the less important stuff in the trunk,” Derek replied. “You know - clothing, emergency supplies, that kind of thing.”

“Humour isn’t a good look on you,” Stiles replied, but Derek could tell that he was suppressing a laugh.

Derek made his way into the driver’s seat and settled in, making sure he had his license and keys before they left. He was about to turn the key in the ignition when he paused.

“Stiles?” Derek said nervously, turning to face his boyfriend. Stiles immediately looked at him, completely focused on Derek. That was one of the things Derek loved most about him - when Stiles looked at you, you knew he was yours. For however long you could keep him, he was yours.

Derek rubbed his hands together nervously.

“I just wanted to let you know that whatever happens this weekend, I love you.”

“I love you too,” Stiles said immediately, his face going soft. Those words had come from his mouth a million times, but it was the first time he’d ever heard them from Derek. They leaned forward at the same time, sharing a long kiss before reluctantly separating.

Derek’s heart was still pounding, but this time, it was equally from happiness and nerves.

“Are we ready to go?” he asked calmly.

“Almost,” Stiles said quietly, leaning in for another kiss. Derek was just inches away when he saw a hand fly toward his face and felt a cold swoosh down the bridge of his nose. Stiles laughed brightly, leaning as far back as possible.

“Now we’re ready!” Stiles grinned, putting an identical line of sunblock down his own nose. Derek rolled his eyes, but his hand found its way toward Stiles and their fingers instinctively linked together.

As Derek pulled out of the driveway, he lifted their clasped hands and brushed a soft kiss across the back of Stiles’ hand.

Derek was going to love Stiles as long as he could. After this trip, he just wasn’t sure how long that would be.

                                                                                                            * * *

“Derek!” his mother cried, running onto the driveway the minute the car pulled up. She looked exactly as he remembered, with her hair blowing in the wind and her tanned face full of freckles.

“Mom,” he replied, leaning in to kiss her cheek. She pulled him in for a hug and he could smell the ocean air blowing around them.

After the fire, their house had been partially ruined. His parents didn’t mind too much - it was old and too big now that all of their kids had left the nest, so they decided to move to a cottage right on the beach. His dad loved reading the newspaper on the quiet stretch of sand, and his mom had started making seashell crafts in her spare time. When Cora found out, she had shuddered and made their Mom promise to never give them out as Christmas gifts.

“Hi there,” Stiles said brightly, approaching Derek’s mom. “I’m Stiles, your son’s boyfriend.”

“It’s so nice to meet you!” she replied, wrapping him in a tight hug.

Derek had rarely seen his mom as upset as she was two weeks ago when she found out that Derek had been hiding Stiles from her. His whole family had worried about him since Kate, and to know that he was finally moving on was a huge relief to them.

Of course, no one except Laura and Boyd knew of the problems that were still there.

“Where’s Dad?” Derek asked, grabbing his and Stiles’ duffel bags out of the trunk of the car. Derek’s mom - “please, call me Talia!” - was still chattering away excitedly to Stiles, so Derek brought the bags to their room and then went looking for his dad on his own. He found his dad in the kitchen, mixing some sort of drinks.

“Hey Dad,” Derek said quietly, giving him a quick hug. His dad smiled and grabbed a bottle of tequila off the counter, shaking it at Derek.

“I figured we could use some margaritas for the first meet-the-family since Kate,” his dad said casually. Derek’s stomach twisted at the mention of her name and he felt the familiar guilt start to creep in.

“Get that look off your face,” his father said calmly. “I was just teasing. This whole family is moving on from her - that’s a good thing.”

All Derek could do was nod sharply as his mom and Stiles walked into the kitchen.

“Young man,” Derek’s dad said gruffly, shaking Stiles’ hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“James,” Derek’s mom said, swatting her husband’s shoulder. “Don’t scare the poor boy. He’ll learn soon enough that you aren’t nearly as scary as you look.”

“I see where Derek gets it from,” Stiles laughed, bumping his hip against Derek’s. Talia laughed loudly, wrapping her arms around her husband.

The rest of the night went like that, with Stiles and Talia as thick as thieves and even James eventually warming up to him. Derek had made sure to whip up a page on the typewriter before they left answering all of the possible relationship questions his mom could ask, so Stiles fielded them like a pro.

It was perfect.

The next day, Derek woke up first and made coffee as he listened to Stiles slowly coming out of sleep. His mom was the next one to pad into the kitchen, clad in a fuzzy white robe with her hair tied back in a braid. It was a familiar sight to Derek and he offered her a warm smile. She returned it brightly as she walked up beside him and poured a cup of coffee.

“I like seeing you like this,” she said quietly. Derek didn’t need to ask what she meant.

“I like feeling like this,” he answered. His next breath came out shakier than intended and he felt tears spring to his eyes.

“You deserve to be happy,” she said, turning toward him. Derek noticed that she was trying not to cry, and that was the final straw. He wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug and buried his face in her shoulder, holding back a strangled sob. She rubbed his back softly.

“I know I’ve said this before, but it wasn’t your fault. The only person who blamed you was yourself.”

Derek nodded into her shoulder, breathing in roughly one last time before choking back the tears for good.

“I know,” he said roughly. “I’m trying to stop.”

“I know,” his mom said softly, giving his arm an encouraging squeeze. Her eyes refocused on something behind him and he turned to see Stiles standing in the doorway.

“Good morning,” Stiles said worriedly, walking over to drop a kiss on Derek’s shoulder. “Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s good,” Derek promised, scrubbing a hand across his cheeks. “Promise.”

“Pinky?” Stiles asked, holding out his little finger. Derek offered him a small smile and linked his pinky with Stiles’, making sure to touch their thumbs together and lock it in before separating.

“Gross,” someone sneered, and Derek turned to see Cora standing in the doorway. The minute he noticed her, she ran over and jumped on his back in greeting.

“I didn’t know that you were coming home,” Derek said, trying to shake her onto the floor as she laughed and ruffled his hair. “How was Argentina?”

“Wonderful, as expected,” Cora said quickly. She looked at Stiles, giving him a quick once-over. “Who’s this?”

“I’m Stiles,” he said tentatively, reaching out his hand. “Derek’s boyfriend.”

“Pardon?” Cora said loudly, turning to face her brother. “Since when do you have a boyfriend?”

“Eight months,” Derek replied, grimacing. He really should have picked a shorter amount of time, but he had been anxious to get that lost look off of Stiles’ face when he couldn’t remember yet another fact about their relationship.

“Eight months?” Cora yelled. “I thought this family wasn’t hiding relationships from each other anymore.”

“Cora,” Derek growled. He felt his eyes flash blue in warning and immediately tried to stop, feeling a ball of lead drop into his stomach. If there was one thing Cora hated, it was when Derek pulled rank on her.

“No,” she growled back, dropping her fangs. “I don’t blame you for our past, but I’m sure as hell going to make sure we protect our future.”

“Derek?” Stiles said softly, his voice shaking. “What’s going on?”

The kitchen was silent for a few moments, the sound of Cora’s riled breathing the only sound.

“You haven’t told him,” she said finally. Derek shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” Cora said quietly, calming back down into his little sister. “I didn’t mean to - I’m sorry.”

“Me too,” Derek answered, meeting her eyes with apprehension. “I should have told you.”

She nodded awkwardly and turned to head upstairs, followed closely by Derek’s mother. Talia gave him a significant look before disappearing.

Derek felt his stomach drop as he turned back toward Stiles. Derek could see the familiar look sinking into Stiles’ eyes - confusion and disappointment. There was an awkwardly long silence before Stiles eventually opened his mouth.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

Derek swallowed the lump in his throat and motioned toward the back porch. They settled on the bench swing that faced the ocean. The beach was still quiet, with people just waking up in the surrounding cottages.

“I had a girlfriend, about two years ago,” Derek started, lightly pressing his claws into the palm of his hand. It helped keep him in control.

“We met at a coffee shop while I was working on my first book. She was a writer too, and we started meeting up all the time to bounce ideas off of each other. She told me that I was her muse, and I got caught up in the attention,” Derek admitted. He could feel the tips of his ears turning red with embarrassment.

“She became my whole world. I wrote like I never had before, and I finished my first manuscript. She was only halfway through hers, and I could feel her start to pull away a bit, so I offered to help her. She declined my offer and asked me to give her some space, so I did. I figured a few days away from her was better than driving her nuts by staying too close and driving her away forever.”

Stiles grabbed Derek’s hand softly, intertwining their fingers the way Derek had in the car at the beginning of the trip. Stiles brushed his lips against Derek’s hand and then rested them on his thigh.

“Keep going,” Stiles said quietly, his eyes focused on Derek’s face.

“I didn’t hear from her for about a month, so I tried to contact her, but she dodged me for months after that. Then one day, there it was - an advertisement for my book, but with Kate’s name on the cover. I called my mom immediately, and she got a lawyer to prove that it was mine.”

“You got your book back, then?” Stiles asked excitedly. Derek nodded.

“I got it back, and she got off with just a fine for plagiarism. They didn’t think it was that serious, but her reputation had been ruined. They didn’t realize how angry she was, but I did. I decided to go home for a few weeks and leave her to cool off in the city.”

Stiles was silent, not interjecting this time. If he was as in-tune with Derek as usual, he could feel the sense of impending doom in the air. This was the most painful part of the story for Derek, so he tried to keep it as short as possible.

“She followed me to my family’s house and tried to burn it down, with all of us in it. We woke up when the smoke started filling the house and got out quickly enough that we were safe.”

“God bless werewolf senses,” Stiles whispered, letting out a shaky laugh. Derek could see his hands trembling.

“She’s in jail for life,” Derek said with a sigh. “I used to think that was a harsh sentence until it happened to her. There’s a lot that my family and I will have to deal with for life that is a lot worse than being stuck in a cell.”

Stiles nodded and leaned his head against Derek’s shoulder, uncharacteristically silent. The sound of the waves washed over them for a few minutes until Stiles spoke.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” Derek said gruffly.

“I’m still sorry that it happened to you,” Stiles replied. “No one deserves to be manipulated like that.”

The words hit Derek like a slap in the face. He could feel the bile begin to rise in his throat and he quickly stood up, leaving Stiles to let out an indignant noise behind him as he ran inside.

The minute he was in the washroom, Derek leaned over the toilet and threw up.

                                                                                                            * * *

The next morning, Talia came to help Derek out of bed. He had been holed up in one of the guest rooms since his conversation with Stiles yesterday, the blinds closed and the lights off. Stiles had tried knocking a few times, but Derek ignored it.

He didn’t know what else to do.

“What happened, honey?” his mom asked again, wiping a damp cloth across his forehead. Derek closed his eyes, forcing back the hot tears that threatened to fall.

“It can’t be that bad,” his mom insisted, her voice low and soothing. Derek felt like a little boy again, and just as he had as a child, he told his mom everything. Boyd. The typewriter. The dreams. Writing. The triskele tattoo.

She seemed almost as upset as Derek was about the situation, he could smell it, but she stayed calm for his sake. They talked it through logically, considering every possible outcome. Derek’s throat was raw by the time he had finished, but it had helped.

There was only one thing to do - as much as it would hurt him, as much as it would hurt everyone around him.

Derek had to let Stiles go.

Chapter Text

“It was so nice to meet you,” Talia said, pulling Stiles into a tight hug. “I hope to see you soon.”

“I guess we’ll see,” Stiles replied, laughing nervously. He shook hands with James and nodded at Cora. She nodded back, and Derek could tell that she was still wary about him. Derek was sure that she would like him if she got the chance to know him, but unfortunately she never would.

By the time Derek had finished speaking to his mother, Stiles had been packed and ready to go. He thought he had done something to turn Derek into a hermit, and Derek had no way of telling him the truth without fracturing Stiles’ entire sense of existence.

The drive back home was quiet, interrupted only by concise requests for bathroom breaks. Derek didn’t have the heart to try and fix things - after all, once they were home, this would all be over. Maybe it would be easier if they left things on a note that was more sour than sweet.

When they had arrived home and were safely inside, Stiles finally broke.

“Thanks for the trip,” he grumbled, throwing his duffel bag onto the floor. “It was so nice getting to know your back porch. I felt really welcome while avoiding the glares your sister was giving me.”

“It’s not that she didn’t like you,” Derek explained. “She just doesn’t trust you yet.”

Because you’re a figment of my imagination went unsaid.

“And do you?” Stiles asked.


“Do you trust me?”

“Of course,” Derek said quickly. It had just come out, but Derek knew in his heart that it was true. In the past two months, he had come to trust Stiles more than anyone.

“Are you sure?” Stiles asked. “Because first, you didn’t tell me that you were scared about introducing me to Laura. Then, when you finally trust me with information about your past, you run away before I can even react?”

“It isn’t that I don’t trust you,” Derek pleaded. “It’s that you shouldn’t trust me.”

“Why not?” Stiles asked. “There can’t possibly be something worse you’re hiding from me than the fact that your ex-girlfriend tried to kill you. Which, might I add, has no effect on the way I feel about you.”

“No effect?” Derek said. “Stiles, I almost got my family killed.”

“No, you didn’t,” Stiles insisted. “Kate almost got you and your family killed when she set your house on fire.”

“Stop,” Derek said. “I’m no better than she is.”

“How so?” Stiles cried. “Are we having two different conversations here? Because I really don’t understand.”

“I’m controlling you,” Derek confessed.

Stiles laughed.

“Pretty sure you aren’t, dude.”

“I am.”

“Ever since we started dating, you’ve let me make my own decisions,” Stiles insisted. “Getting a dog? My choice. Going to visit your parents? My choice.”

“No, Stiles,” Derek insisted. “I literally control you.”

“God, Derek,” Stiles huffed. “If I felt like you were too controlling, I would have told you. I could walk out of this apartment right now, and you’d probably just sit on the couch with some ice cream and watch reality TV. You wouldn’t even try to stop me.”

Derek shook his head. There was no way to make Stiles understand except to show him - really show him.

Derek ran upstairs and grabbed the typewriter. Stiles had followed him with an indignant yell, so Derek just sat on the bed and fed a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter.

“Stiles stopped walking,” Derek yelled as he typed the exact same sentence. Stiles immediately paused halfway through the door. He tried to lift his foot to continue towards Derek, but it was as if he were glued to the floor.

“Stiles started spinning in circles.”

Stiles began to spin so quickly that his face became a blur. Derek let it happen for just a few seconds too long.

“Stiles stopped,” Derek screamed, hitting the keys of the typewriter so hard that the P jammed. Stiles came to a stop, his face pale and his eyes wide with fear.

“How are you doing that?” Stiles asked, his voice hoarse. Derek threw the typewriter across the bedroom and it smacked into the dresser. A picture of Laura and Boyd on their wedding day fell to the floor, the glass frame shattering into pieces.

They were both silent, save for Stiles’ heavy breathing. He was beginning to panic. Before Derek could make anything worse, he steadied his trembling legs and knelt beside the dresser. Shards of glass pricked his skin, but he could feel the wounds heal just as quickly. He turned over the typewriter, and quickly typed out the sentence he should’ve written the minute he figured out what was going on.

Stiles is no longer controlled by me. He is free.

“Leave,” Derek said softly. Stiles hovered behind him, his heart still beating rapidly with Derek’s confession.

“Derek,” Stiles whispered, his tone a mix of hurt and sadness.

“Leave,” Derek repeated, squeezing his eyes shut. He didn’t open them again until he heard the front door close.

Derek yanked the paper out of the typewriter and hurried downstairs. He needed to do this before he could change his mind and run out the door after Stiles, calling for him to come back home.

Derek pulled open the drawer where he had hidden all of his writing and gathered it into a pile. He slid open the back door and followed the path to the beach. Digging a wide hole in the sand, Derek crumpled all of the papers and tossed them in.

He struck a match, his fingers trembling with the action, and threw it onto everything he had ever written about Stiles. The pages began to burn, and for the second time in his life, Derek watched everything he loved go up in flames.

This time, there would be no survivors.

                                                                                                            * * *

Stiles never came back.

Derek hadn't expected him to. After all, if his actions had brought Stiles into his life, shouldn’t they have the power to take him out too?

The past few weeks had been a cycle of concerned visits from Laura, half-eaten boxes of Chinese food and sleepless nights. The only thing keeping Derek from being a hermit was Beaker. He was the one piece of Stiles that Derek had left, and you could be damned sure he was going to take care of him.

At the moment, Beaker was whining for reasons Derek couldn’t quite figure out.

“It’s like I haven’t walked you in days,” he mused, quickly checking his phone to make sure that it hadn’t actually been days. Just as he’d thought, Beaker had been out in the backyard just a few hours earlier.

The whining continued, and Derek sighed. “Do you miss Stiles?”

Another whine.

“That makes two of us.”

Derek was still mustering up the energy to get off the couch when Beaker jumped up and started scratching at the front door.

“Hey!” Derek yelled. “Stop that!”

Beaker fell back onto four legs, whining and looking at Derek with his wide eyes. It was unlike him to be so vocal. Derek got up, running a hand through his hair before opening the front door. The minute it was wide enough to fit through, Beaker ran outside.

Derek followed quickly behind, his senses tuned into the world around him. Everything seemed normal, though Beaker’s heart was beating a little faster than usual. Was something wrong with him?

A bead of sweat rolled down Derek’s back and he knelt down, taking Beaker into his arms. He tried to leech pain out of his system, but there was nothing. Derek began gently probing Beaker’s muscles, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

He had just reached the dog's back legs when Beaker launched himself out of Derek’s arms and bolted into the park across the street.

“Beaker!” Derek yelled. He swore and followed at a faster-than-normal pace, trying not to reveal his superhuman speed to the people loitering around the park’s entrance. He put his head down and flashed his eyes, trying to bring Beaker back to him with the sheer force of his alpha command.

If Derek hadn’t been so focused on the dog, he might have noticed a familiar scent on the breeze. When it finally registered, he stopped dead in his tracks. He knew that scent. It was quiet mornings in bed, songs whistled from the kitchen, nights curled up on the coach. It was strawberry ice cream and sunshine and Derek’s heart constricted with every memory that flooded his mind.


There he was, sitting under a tree with Beaker rolling on the ground beside him like he belonged there. Stiles dropped his book, not bothering to mark the page, and began running both hands across Beaker’s stomach.

Derek’s feet felt like lead as he approached the tree. He stopped so far away that Stiles didn’t notice him, but he couldn’t bring himself to go closer.

“Stiles?” he said tentatively.

Stiles looked up, squinting against the bright sun. He lifted his hand to shield his eyes, getting a better look, then shook his head.

“I’d say you have me mistaken for someone else, but I’d like to think no one else is cursed with that name.”

He didn’t remember him. He didn’t remember him.

“Sorry,” Derek stuttered. “I just—I think I saw you at a coffee shop. Once. You know, the ones where they write your name on the cup and then call you?”

“Oh, that kind,” Stiles smirked. “I’m familiar.”

“You get the iced coffee, right?”

Derek held his breath, trying to convince himself that the answer didn’t matter. A lot of people liked iced coffee. It didn't mean anything.

Stiles laughed. “Actually, I prefer tea. Hope that isn’t a dealbreaker.”

“No," Derek replied, relief flooding his veins. "Not for me. Beaker is much harder to win over.”

They both turned to look at the dog, who perked up at the mention of his name. He looked between them excitedly, his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Stiles schooled his expression into a stern face.

“I can see that.”

He ran his hand across Beaker’s fur one last time before standing up, brushing grass off his knees.

“I’m sorry, but I actually have to head out. My friend just got a new job, and it’s his first day, so we’re going to grab drinks and—yeah. I’m rambling.”

“Can I see you again?” Derek asked. His heart was racing. This Stiles could say no. It was terrifying and exhilarating.

“We could grab coffee?” Stiles suggested, tugging at the sleeve of his shirt. It was comforting to know that he was nervous too. “I know a place downtown that allows dogs. Beaker can come too.”

“Can animals drink coffee?” Derek asked. Stiles laughed.

“Just the Asian palm civet.” He shook his head. “Don’t ask me how I know that.”

“Actually, I think I will,” Derek replied. “I think I’m going to ask you a lot of questions I don’t know the answers to.”

Stiles looked at Derek with an odd expression, but his mouth quirked up in a smile.

“I think I would like that.”

Derek asked him question after question as they walked towards the park’s gates. Some things were the same, but others were different. His father was a sheriff in Beacon Hills, but his mother was alive. She was a florist, actually, which sounded much nicer than being dead.

Maybe this relationship wouldn’t be easy. Maybe Stiles hated reality shows. Maybe he would be terrified of werewolves.

But it would be real. And for now, that was enough.