Stiles isn’t straight, but he isn’t gay either. He’s what he likes to think of as an equal opportunity kind of guy. Look halfway decent and have a couple of brain cells that rub together and he’s yours for the asking, regardless of age, race or gender.
Which is why he’s hot for Lydia. And also why he’s hot for Danny. Because, aside from their obvious good looks and (in Danny’s case, at least) winning personalities, both of those mofos have some brains on them. Some serious brains. Sure, Lydia hides her candle under a bushel and Danny is more out about sucking cock than he is about his 4.0 GPA, but both of them are totally nipping at Stiles’s heels for Valedictorian.
And that, right there, is the biggest turn on known to man, as far as Stiles is concerned.
Derek doesn’t think in heteronormative terms. There is no boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy and girl live happily ever after in his worldview. Because werewolves aren’t built like that. Werewolves don’t pick their mates. They just are mates.
Mating is a matter of compatibility, not attraction. An inborn knowledge of what will complete you, make you stronger. There is no two ways about it. Male or female, it makes no difference. Finding your mate, or so all Derek’s relatives told him, is like finding a piece of yourself you never knew was missing.
Which is what makes Derek’s fuck up with crazy as balls Kate Argent so damn galling. Because he knew she wasn’t his mate. He fucking knew. And he was too hopped up on her pheromones to care. So he let her lure him out of the house, gave up all his family's secrets and for what? A couple of minutes of sticky, awkward bliss? So not worth it. God, there are no words for how not worth it Kate was.
He was so fucked up after everything that went down with her. So incredibly fucked up. To the point where his sister was worried about him offing himself, which he was never in danger of doing, by the way. There was no way in hell he was going to let Kate be the cause of yet another death in his family, not when she already managed to decimate it. But Laura had worried, like any good sister would, and sent him to counseling, which didn’t really do all that much, and took him to live with their maternal uncle’s pack out in New York, which helped him far more than sitting around and talking about his feelings did.
Because that pack had more children than it knew what to do with and Derek, as the oldest cousin, was given the task of keeping all the younger pups in line. Helping raise the pups eased something inside of him, let him be able heal some of the wounds that Kate had left.
With them, Derek learned to trust his werewolf instincts more and his human ones less. And, for the first time, Derek found himself eager for his mate to come along. Because then he would have someone he could build a future with. Someone who would love and accept him as he was, someone who would help him become the best version of himself.
When Stiles saw Derek that first time out in the woods, he totally got a stiffy. Not gonna lie. Derek’s just that hot. But Stiles isn’t stupid. He knows what out of his league looks like. So when it became clear that Derek was going to be a somewhat permanent, if terrifying, fixture in his life, he told his dick to chill the fuck out and moved on.
Why waste time crushing on a older, hotter, supernaturally grumpy guy when there were people closer to his age who was nearly as hot and, more importantly, nicer near at hand? Not that being closer to his age and nicer translated into being, you know, any more obtainable, but still. Lydia and Danny are way more likely to fall for his charms than Derek ever will be, seeing as how they never express a desire for Stiles to drop dead with little more than a scowl and a furrowed brow.
And besides, there is the fact that Danny actually smiles at him from time to time and Lydia went with him to the dance and didn’t threaten to maim him once the whole night. Which, as far as Stiles is concerned, means that there is a chance for him yet. And Stiles would be a fool not to try and go for it.
If Derek’s life has taught him anything, it’s that he never catches a break. Never. So, of fucking course, he gets royally screwed in terms of his mate. Of fucking course.
Because why would his mate be someone he respects? Or someone he could see himself having a future with? Or, you know, someone he actually enjoys being around? Why would he want that? Why indeed, when he could have a smug little bastard like Stiles?
God, the only thing worse that having Stiles What-The-Fuck-Even-Is-Your-First-Name Stilinski turn out to be his mate, is the fact that Stiles Derek-Really-Should-Know-His-First-Name Stilinski doesn’t give a good goddamn about him in return.
After a little while, Stiles doesn’t even have to remind his dick to chill out around Derek. Because Derek, turns out, is super fucking cool, in a gruff, put upon older brother kind of way. And Stiles is totally down with that. He always wanted an older brother. And, yeah, sure, Derek’s a bit more likely to bite his face off when he gets mouthy then he would prefer, but that’s a small price to pay for the amount of awesome Derek has infused into his life.
Seriously, Derek has this totally unique outlook on everything from poetry to Modern Warfare and this killer sense of humor and he knows all the best places. Like, this one time he took Stiles and Isaac to this hole in the wall diner called The Junction that he swore had the best open faced meatloaf sandwiches in the world. And he was right. Sure, it took nearly an hour to get there and the diner itself looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since it opened in 1962, but the meatloaf sandwiches. God damn. Like an orgasm in your mouth.
Hanging out with Derek is always like that. He’s always got some ace up his sleeve, some cool new thing to show Stiles. And, yeah, sometimes he gets a little surly, sometimes he growls at Stiles to shut the fuck up already or slaps the back of his head or slams him up against a wall for fuck-all reasons, but being around him is so worth the pain.
So totally worth it.
Derek doesn’t do pining. He doesn’t. So when it becomes clear that Stiles is much more interested in having Derek as a new best friend than a boyfriend, he puts on his big boy pants and makes it fucking work. He becomes the best goddamn friend a spastic teenager could ever hope to have. And it’s not even a hardship. Because hidden under his constant stream of consciousness monologues and his absurd amount of clumsy energy, is Stiles’s big heart and loyalty and willingness to do what needs being done for those he cares about.
Stiles is funny, in a nerdtastic way, and so damn smart. Too smart by half. Derek sometimes thinks that Stiles would be better served with a fourth of his brainpower, because Stiles uses his powers for, well, not evil, but not good either. More like some crazy mix of right that only Stiles understands. A right that makes it okay for him to sneak out at night because someone innocent might be at risk, but then turn right around and rat Scott out a week later for doing the same damn thing with the Hunters’ daughter.
Being around him makes Derek’s life better, makes him feel comfortable in his skin in a way he hasn’t been since the fire. And, yeah, it sucks listening to Stiles rabbit on about Danny this and Lydia that, but it’s a discomfort he doesn’t mind dealing with if it means getting to spend time in the kid’s company.
One of the hardest decisions Stiles’s has ever had to make is where, exactly, to apply to college. Because... well... he doesn’t want to leave. He doesn't want to leave at all.
Beacon Hills isn’t even a proper city, it’s just a town. It would be a suburb, if there were any major metropolitan areas nearby, but there aren't. So it’s really just this somewhat affluent little town in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t have any pretensions to be anything more than it is. And Stiles’s loves it because it’s the sort of place where everyone knows everyone and there is no such thing as a secret and people stop each other on the street just to say hi. Stiles has lived there his whole life and there isn’t a street that doesn’t have some memory or another attached to it. And Stiles doesn't want to leave that, doesn’t want to move to some big, anonymous city where nobody knows your name and you can die in your apartment and no one even notices until you start to smell.
Besides, Beacon Hills is where the pack is and where the pack is going to stay. Derek has said over and over again that Beacon Hills is their home and that nothing is going to chance that.
So, yeah. Stiles is so not down with the going away for college thing.
But... well... Stiles’s dad thinks that sticking around isn’t such a bright idea. Stiles’s dad think that Stiles should spread his wings a little, get out from under Scott’s shadow and see who he is on his own. And Stiles dad sorta has a point.
Anyway, it’s just for four years. Four years is nothing, in the grand scheme of things. And there is nothing preventing him from moving back to Beacon Hills when he graduates.
Derek doesn't want Stiles to leave Beacon Hill. Not for any reason ever, never mind that going away to college is perfectly normal. It takes all the control he has not to snap at Stiles every time the subject comes up. Because it’s hard enough dealing with this whole just being friends bullshit when he can pretty much see the kid any time he wants. He can’t even imagine what it will be like when Stiles is off god knows where doing god knows what with god knows who.
So, no. Derek doesn't want Stiles to leave at all.
But Derek understand that Stiles isn’t going to stick around Beacon Hills just because Derek wants him to, so he tries his hardest not to let his true feelings show. He smiles and acts pleased when Stiles tells him which colleges he’s applied to, even though none of them are within a hundred mile radius of Beacon Hills. And he tells Stiles’s he’s making a great choice when the teen decides to attend Berkeley, even though it makes his wolf howl and rage inside of him, begging to be let out so it can claw the shit out of something.
Because that is what is best for Stiles.
And even if it wasn't, Derek doesn't have any right to make suggestions or demands. They are friends, nothing more-- no matter how much Derek might wish they were.
He smiles and tells Stiles he's happy for him and doesn't let anyone see how Stiles leaving is gutting him inside.
But, while the physical separation is a bitch and a half, Stiles going to college turns out to be not so bad at all. Because a Stiles at college is a Stiles who misses Derek. Misses him enough to call him four times a week and text him twenty times a day and demand that they have Skype dates on Friday nights, when most college kids are out on real dates or at parties drinking themselves stupid.
Derek never expected that. Never. Sure, Stiles is his mate and all, but Stiles isn't a werewolf so that mate thing doesn't really matter to him. Well, it would if Derek was enough of a dick to tell him about it, but Derek's not going to. Because he knows Stiles well enough to know that Stiles would put his own feelings on the subject aside and do what he thought was best for Derek. And, honestly, that's not how Derek wants him. No, it's either going to happen because Stiles has a Paul on the Road to Damascus moment or it's not going to happen at all.
It's weird, but when Stiles head off for college, Derek is the one he misses most. It's Derek he calls three times that first day, Derek he leans on whenever he feels overwhelmed and lonely. It's Derek he begs and badgers until the older man agrees to come by for a visit. And if hanging out with Derek back in Beacon Hills was awesome, then hanging out with Derek in his college dorm is super fucking awesome level ten. Because Derek is different, somehow, without the rest of the pack around. Happier, more carefree. He drags Stiles out to a party neither of them were invited to, gatecrashing like it’s going out of style. Then he pulls Stiles out of the corner he was perfectly content to hide in for some semi-drunken dancing and it is... amazing.
It doesn't mean anything, Stiles knows that, but it still feels so damn right, having Derek's hands on his hips, pulling them as close together as two bodies can get. They dance for hours, until the sun comes up and the party finally ends. Then Derek shepherds Stiles back to his room, harangues him into his pajama pants and crashes in bed next to him. When they wake up, well after noon, Derek bundles a mildly hungover Stiles into his car and takes him out for a breakfast filled with pancakes and coffee and all the bacon he can eat. It's perfect, just the two of them, and Stiles finds himself smiling even though his head still feels stuffed full of cotton and his eyes won't stop watering.
Saying goodbye at the end of Derek's visit sucks harder than leaving for college did in the first place. But it's only for a few months. Then he'll be home for the summer and the Derek Stiles Epic Bro Show can play non stop.
Visiting Stiles at college is both the best and the worst decision Derek has ever made.
Best because he gets to spend time one on one with the kid in a way he never had before. They have always been close, Derek has made a particular point of that, but this time they were close in a completely different way. The sort of way that makes Derek’s heart speed up and his palms sweat because maybe, just maybe, Stiles is starting to see him in a different light. Maybe Derek will finally move from being his friend to being something more.
Then again, nothing did happen, even though they slept in the same bed night after night. And that, right there, is why it is the worst decision. Because even though he is only there for four days, that is still long enough for him to get use to waking up next to Stiles, to being constantly surrounded by the kid’s scent.
Waking up alone after that just doesn’t seem right.
Coming home again for summer feels like stepping back in time. Everything is the same. Well, not exactly the same. Scott and Allison have their own place now, for one thing, and there's a ring on Allison's finger that promises that bigger changes are in store. Isaac has found his mate as well, a sweet little thing with bright green eyes and a smile that makes Stiles's heart melt. But the two of them are taking it slow, circling around each other tentatively, which makes sense, given Isaac's history. The rest of the pack is still footloose and fancy free, though they tend to spend most of their time working and being responsible adults. So pretty much the only one around during the days is Derek, not that Stiles minds.
Because one-on-one time with Derek rates as about one of the best things in the universe, as far as he is concerned.
Time seems to both speed up and slow down whenever Derek is alone with Stiles. He can't explain it, the way that minutes can last for hours but hours are over in the blink of an eye.
They spend long days doing nothing at all, just hanging around the house playing video games, whiling away the heat of the day. In the evenings they go running through the woods together in the delicious coolness of twilight, or gather up the pack and grill something on the BBQ Derek spent way too much money on last fall. There are bonfires and camping trips and one memorable outing to the beach-- over a hundred miles away, but so very worth the drive. Derek sat on the sand next to Stiles, their hands almost touching, as they listened to the waves rolling in until the sun set and the moon was high above them.
Derek's never had a summer like that, a summer so full of potential, a summer where he wants time to stand still.
But time doesn't stand still and falls comes around like it always does, bringing with it the bitter pill of another long separation with little but phone calls and text messages to make it easier to swallow.
Sophomore year is easier for Stiles. Way easier. He knows his way around campus and where the best place to buy textbooks is. He has the number for Mr. Pizza Man memorized and can find his way from Berkeley to the City and back without even having to think about it. He's got a handful of friends, a working knowledge of the best all night study spots and a can always find something fun to do on a Friday night.
He still gets lonely sometimes, still misses his Dad and Derek and the pack, but he's not nearly so needy, so codependent, as he was last year.
This time around, he doesn't suggest that Derek comes out for a visit, but he doesn't say no when the other man asks if he can. It's just as much fun having Derek around, showing off his new friends and much busier social life, but it isn't as hard to say goodbye when Derek leaves.
People change when they go to college. Derek gets that. They change and they grow and they become the person they are meant to be.
It's normal. It's to be expected.
Derek just wishes that the person Stiles was meant to be was the sort of person who wanted to be around Derek more, is all.
Stiles isn't actually looking to meet anyone. He's happy with his bachelor status. Besides, meeting someone would mean that he'd have to, you know think about the future and his role in the pack and yeah. Sometimes he wishes that humans worked like werewolves. Because wouldn't it be great to just have a mate? To know that the person you care about most is the one, for sure. No questions, no doubts. No worries that if you tell them a major, important, big life secret they will blab about it to the world. Or, you know, leave you.
God, wouldn't that be great?
Stiles thinks it would be, anyway. Especially now that he has meet someone, even though he wasn't looking. Someone great and wonderful and perfect. Someone Stiles could totally see himself growing old with, being with to the bitter end. But... that someone, Robert, doesn't know the biggest and most important secret in Stiles's life and Stiles doesn't know how to tell him, or, honestly, if he even should.
Because... Werewolves. Werewolves. That's not something you just spring on a guy. Even if it's a guy you think you could spend forever with.
Not that Stiles really ought to be thinking about forever. Not when they've only been together three months and won't see each other at all over the summer, what with the whole Robert living in Vermont issue they've got going on.
But, then, maybe that's a good thing. It gives him a chance to talk to the pack, see what their take on things is.
And by pack, he means Derek, of course. Because, really, Derek's opinion on the subject is the only one he cares about. Never mind that Scott is still nominally his best friend.
He can smell it on Stiles as soon as he sees him. That sweet, almost floral scent that marks a human in love. And for a moment, one blissful, glorious moment, he thinks that it's finally happened. That it's him that has Stiles putting off that delicious smell. Then Stiles starts rabbiting on about Robert this and Robert that and Derek's world comes crashing down around his ears. Because this isn't just lust and wistful thinking. This isn't him panting after someone he has no hope of ever obtaining.
This is Stiles in love.
With someone else.
Derek's vision goes red and his heart starts hammering in his chest. Because what the fuck is he even supposed to do now? His wolf is howling inside him, roaring with rage and slobbering to break free, to run wild, to hunt down his rival and rend him limb from limb. And, Jesus fucking Christ, Derek is hard pressed not to let him do it. The only thing holding him back is the knowledge that Stiles would never forgive him if he did. Hell, Stiles would probably team up with Daddy Argent to hunt Derek's ass down.
So Derek forces a smile, tries to respond to the words spilling out of Stiles's mouth in a coherent fashion. Or at least as coherent as he can be when he's sticking to grunts and growls and a few monosyllabic answers. He ends the conversation as soon as he possibly can. Lies about commitments that don’t exist and straight up leaves.
Then Derek drives himself to the middle of nowhere, parks his car and lets his wolf break free.
When he comes back to himself-- a day and a half later-- he's covered in animal blood and tufts of fur. The unholy rage has been worked out of his system, but in its place is an ache, an empty, miserable feeling that makes him want to tip back his head and howl mournfully at the moon. Because his mate, his Stiles, who has never even considered Derek worthy at all, has given his heart to someone else.
Stiles didn't expect this. Didn't expect it at all. Derek is his friend. Or at least he thinks Derek is, anyway. But friends don't act like this. Friends don't shut you out, don't dodge your calls. They don't pretend they aren't home when you come over or avoid your eyes when they see you walking down the street. They don't cut you out of their lives like you never even fucking existed.
And all because of what? The fact that Stiles dared to date outside of the pack?
Because what other reason does Derek have? Nothing else has changed. Nothing at all. Just... Stiles being happy for once. Stiles having someone who makes him light up inside. Which... dude. Friends are supposed to be happy for you when you find that special someone. That's the way friendship fucking works.
Derek isn't stalking Stiles. Stalking is something that highly disturbed people do. Derek isn't highly disturbed. He's just a werewolf concerned about his mate. And, at the moment, he is also a werewolf who can't be within six feet of his mate without wolfing out completely. So... that means he's limited to long distance following. Just to make sure that nothing terrible is going on in his mate's life.
Right. Because they'll totally buy that in a court of law.
But, whatever. It's not stalking.
And it's not particularly happy-making either, seeing as how Stiles has been using all of his free time to either A: talk to his boyfriend or B: bitch about Derek to Scott.
Derek's life fucking sucks balls.
He's not-stalking Stiles tonight because Scott said something about Stiles drunk dialing him and then up and vanished before Derek could get any details. So, of course, Derek had to come check it out. And, fuck, does he ever wish he hadn't. Because Stiles is really tearing into him tonight, calling Derek every name under the sun and saying that he's glad that they aren't friends anymore, if this is what Derek's really like.
Repeat: Derek's life fucking sucks balls.
And it just gets worse, because there goes Scott, screwing Derek to hell and back by trying to help him.
Dude, you’re his mate Scott says as explanation when Stiles claims that Derek has no fucking reason to be avoiding him and acting like a dick.
And what the ever-loving fuck? How can he possibly think that that is the right thing to say? God, doesn't that idiot know that there is a reason that Derek never told Stiles he was his mate? And that maybe that reason was a fucking good one?
No, of course not. Why would Scott think that? Scott never fucking thinks at all. Which is why he is so cavalier about spilling the you're-his-mate beans to Stiles. Who just laughs. And laughs. And laughs. Until he realizes that Scott's not laughing with him, at which point he says um, tell me that was a joke and Derek can't take it any more. He howls, desperate and unhappy, then shifts completely and gets the hell out of dodge.
Because, really. What else do you do when you mate proves, once and for all, that they've never thought of you as anything more than a friend?
Stiles is Derek's mate. Stiles. No, really. For fucking reals. No joke at all. Stiles is Derek's mate.
No wonder Derek has been avoiding him. No fucking wonder. God. And Stiles told him all about Robert. Why didn't he just kick Derek in the balls while he was at it?
It’s just... Stiles didn't know. He didn't have any idea whatsoever.
And, dude, what the fuck is that about? Why didn't Derek tell him?
He gets why Derek didn't fess up to it after finding out about Robert, especially when Scott makes it clear that Stiles reeks of love, which sucks, by the way, even if it does makes sense. If they can smell fear and arousal and can tell when you are lying, then of course they can smell love on you, too.
But, damn. That's... god fucking damn it.
Why didn't Derek tell him? Why?
Because Stiles does love Robert. With every scrap of his being, he loves Robert. And he's not going to leave Robert just because, surprise, he's Derek's mate. Not when Derek didn't even think it was important enough to tell him about it in the first place.
Still... shit. It's Derek. If Stiles had any idea that Derek actually was interested in him, then he would have been all over that. Because Derek is awesome and amazing and all other sorts of spiffy words too.
But maybe that's why. Maybe Derek isn't interested. Mating is instinct, after all. Nothing you can control. It's just a biological response, isn't it? So... maybe Derek didn't want to be mated to Stiles. But, if that was the case, then why the freak out when Stiles found someone who did want him? That doesn't make sense at all. And, also, Derek is always calling and texting and if he doesn't like Stiles, wouldn't he not do those things?
Well, he's not doing them now, but that's different. That, according to Scott, is Derek trying to protect Stiles and Robert from his wolf or whatever. Not that Stiles really thinks he needs to be protected. Or Robert either. A: because Robert is is Vermont, where Derek most certainly is not, and B: because Derek would never hurt him. Never. He knows it in his bones. The same way that he knows that his father loves him and that Scott will always be his best friend.
Anyway, point is, Derek is around him an awful lot for the whole not-really-interested thing to ring true. And now, looking back on it, Stiles can see a whole hell of a lot of moments where Derek was pretty damn interested in him. Moments where Derek showered him with attention, or was particularly affectionate, or curled up around him while they slept. Moments full of things Derek never did with anyone else. And, yeah, maybe he never said anything in words, but looking back at his actions tells Stiles a whole other story indeed.
And that blows fucking chunks. Because what the hell is Stiles even supposed to do about any of this?
The rest of the summer passes like a blur. There is one crystal clear moment, though, one day that is underlined in red and bolded in Derek's memory. And that's the day he receives the we need to talk text.
Because that's the day where Derek makes his biggest mistake of all. That's the day he sends there's nothing to talk about back. That's the day he hides his room while Stiles bangs on his front door. That's the day he sneaks out the window and runs the fuck away when Stiles picks his lock and the front door no longer is the barrier Derek desperately needs it to be.
Because after that day, Stiles decides to stop trying to talk to him at all.
Losing Derek as a friend fucking hurts. Like a goddamn knife in the gut. Or the back. No, the gut. That has to hurt more, no matter that the back is a more apt analogy.
Anyway, point it, it fucking hurts.
And it keeps on hurting for months, never mind that summer ends and Stiles goes back to school and ought to be distracted by, you know, classes and Robert and all his other friends. He's not. Well, he is. A little. Robert definitely helps. Although Stiles never tells him the whole of it. It's kind of impossible when there's still that big, giant my best friend is a werewolf secert in place. Kind of hard to come out with and his Alpha is my mate and really wants to kill you so how about NO for you coming home with me over the holidays.
So, no, Stiles doesn't go into details. Just tells him that Derek, who Robert knows all about, of course he does, because Derek is-- was-- sort of majorly important to Stiles and Stiles sort of talked about him non stop. Anyway, Stiles just tells Robert that he and Derek had a misunderstanding that snowballed and then when he tried to talk to Derek about it, Derek totally shut him out and refused to even see him and how, yeah. They aren’t friends now. And Robert, because he is fucking awesome, gets it. He really does. And he doesn’t tease Stiles when he breaks down and cries. Just holds him and rubs his back and tells him it would be okay.
Which, in time, it sort of is. It still hurts, like a fucking knife in the gut, but it's okay. It's manageable.
Life can go on, and Stiles with it.