Stiles does research on Derek Hale before accepting the job offer, as he always does. He’s finishing his B.A (as is Stiles), he’s not on any sports team (although he looks the part) and he is also intimidatingly good looking. So much so that Stiles is sort of shocked that no one has commissioned him to write this guy before.
What Stiles finds quickly is that Derek doesn’t seem to have any close friends. People who have interacted with him describe him as awkward, stilted, quiet, distrusting and at worst, unlikeable.
One girl Stiles speaks to in his research realizes who he is, says she follows his blog and incorporates so much of his writing tips into her own fiction writing. She tells him that whoever commissioned him to write to Derek Hale does not realize how virginal Derek Hale is and/or is trying to be mean to Derek. She even advises him to not go through with accepting the commission.
Stiles is shocked by this, stammers something out about how handsome Derek is, how he can’t possibly be virginal, but the girl shakes her head, laughs and tells him that Derek can hardly carry on a conversation about the weather, much less undress another person.
When Stiles returns to his work table, he’s uncertain. He can write non-explicit love letters, he’s quite good at that - his love letters are the height of romance, especially to virginal readers and he knows it. He feels uneasy about accepting the job, though. No one gave him any lovely information to work with; without lovely things to say about a person, it’s pretty difficult to put together a love letter.
His anonymous customer attached a photo of Derek to their emailed request, which Stiles stares at for over ten minutes before stubbornly deciding to take the job.
He looks down at his notepad, unhelpful notes from references jotted down in a rush and he reviews:
o Spends 4 hrs in the gym daily
o Never seen w/ anyone
o owns a reportedly ‘douchey’ camaro
o Sarah: went to hs w/ him, says he hasn't dated since freshman year of hs, has always been strange
o Has trouble maintaining eye contact
o No pictures available of him smiling or looking directly at the camera
o Interests outside of math and engineering unknown
o Robert: ‘he’s sort of a jerk. seems stuck up to me.’
o Rebecca: ‘always has his nose in a book.’
o ‘loner’ is a recurring theme
o Doesn't discuss family
o Allegedly used physical aggression to remove someone from his dorm room after an altercation
o Has declined invitations to social events multiple times - isn't asked out anymore by classmates
o Refuses to work in groups or pairs
o Poor conversationalist
o Generally disliked
Stiles looks up from his list, sets his hands on the keyboard and replies to the email,
I’m willing to take this job on, but only if you tell me why you want me to write to him in particular.
Stiles’ phone beeps with a new email only 3 minutes later.
I know what you’ve probably heard about him.
Everyone deserves to feel loved. To feel wanted. He visits cemeteries a lot. When I let my mind wander, I sometimes think that he believes he is a ghost. Maybe he likes it that way. But I really want him to believe for even a few seconds that someone out there loves him deeply and I think that if anyone could write words strong enough to move him, it’d be you.
Stiles nods at his screen, accepts the job, takes out fresh parchment and uncaps a new pen.
Just one letter.
He has to manage to write one letter to what appears to be the most disliked person on campus and then he makes fifty bucks and can fund his coffee supply for the next two weeks.
Just one letter.
The letters are delivered through a series of people, all of whom are friends of Stiles’ and protect his anonymity. Sometimes when Stiles is feeling particularly inspired, he writes love letters to no one and hides them in spots he gives clues to on his blog. Whoever finds them is more than welcome to keep them, use them or put it back in its hiding place for someone else to find and enjoy.
Stiles is often surprised that almost no one takes the letters. It is more popular for people to find them, open them and read them and then leave them there for the next person to find. Stiles has a few followers on twitter who tweet at him when they find the letters, feeling romanced and loved - one might mistake their joy for having found a hidden treasure chest.
One semiprofessional blogger even wrote a review on her page about how Stiles’ writing can make one feel “truly in love for a dizzying few moments,” and how “it [the letters] can change the course of one’s entire day.” She wrote about how his love letters have “brought a sense of community to loveless people,” and that his following is full of sharing individuals. Individuals who want to pass that feeling on again and again.
His love-letter writing business is a creature all its own. Most of the people on campus don’t know about it being him, though. His username has nothing to do with his real identity and for all intents and purposes, he is anonymous on the internet. His personal email is private and only his close friends who help him run this side-project know that he does this.
It’s a well oiled machine.
Some letters are harder to write and others not so much. Some people request specific sentences to be incorporated, specific ideas to be repeated, specific tones to be expressed. And Stiles can work with that, but his best letters are the ones he writes when he is free to do what feels best.
With so little information about Derek Hale, his letter winds up sort of vague the first time.
He doesn’t often write drafts. He’s usually got a perfect letter the first time around, but it’s not unheard of for it to take a second try. What is unheard of is the fourth and fifth time he scraps Derek Hale’s love letter.
He writes back to his customer, begging for more information, frustrated.
Derek Hale is secretive. I don’t believe he does it on purpose, he doesn’t mean to be mysterious. He has trouble sharing himself with others. People misjudge him, I think. I’ve seen the way nature reacts to him - birds fly close to him and I once saw him reading at the outside lunch tables and a butterfly landed on his head. He didn’t even notice. Stray cats hang out under his car and when he whistles, birds whistle back.
There is something about Derek Hale that makes the world a little better.
Stiles is inspired by that thought.
He doesn’t think it’s true - other people would have mentioned Derek Hale being an animal-lover and someone would’ve had something nice to say about him if he really did make the world better, right?
Whatever the case really is, that bit does get him writing.
So many nights I have spent cursing you, mourning you, wanting for you and loving you all in equal and maddening measure. So many nights I have prayed for your eyes to fall on me, for your voice to seek mine, for your hands and your hair and your lips to want, want, want for mine. So many nights spent trying to form these words, so many nights grasping for diction, for grace, for just the right thing to say that you might turn your head to. And I write so that I can see you. I write so that I can push my heart out from the palms of my hands, the tips of my fingers that wish so desperately for the heat of your skin beneath them, but only find parchment.
Lovers grow in surplus like a rambling wild vine fruit, but none are so sweet as you. None are so bright, so juicy that they burst on my tongue in flavor and light like the way saying just your name does. Derek. Derek. Your name is a prayer on the winds of a cold night, your name is the flicker of the stars in the sky, your name is a thousand whispers into my pillow on a thousand nights in a thousand lives. You are the world turning, the sun rising and setting, everything perfect about being alive, about existing at all and it all resides in five letters. It is all in a name that is more a song, more an echo, more a wish than something so simple to write.
I am made of nothing if not undying love for you.
Sure, it’s not his most personalized love letter, it could apply to just about anyone if you switched the names, but given the fact that Stiles had just about nothing to work with on this job, he’s quite pleased with the end result.
Stiles grins victoriously at his first ever 7th draft, folds it neatly, licks the envelope quickly, sticks a stamp onto it upside down and writes ‘Derek Hale,’ in bold letters across the front of it. Then he sends it on its way to Derek Hale’s dorm room and tells his anonymous customer that they can send the second half of payment to his PayPal because their purchase is on its delivery route.
The anonymous person thanks him and Stiles goes onto write on his blog about personalizing letters in a meaningful way. He usually gets a text from Scott, who makes the final delivery in the long chain of people who pass the letters around like a note in class, that the letter has been delivered. His phone doesn’t buzz at all for the rest of the afternoon, though.
It’s about 10pm that same night when Scott comes to his room, looking maybe confused? He has an envelope in hand and he outstretches it to Stiles.
“What?” Stiles asks, “You didn’t deliver it?”
“No,” Scott answers, “It’s for you.”
Stiles jerks his head back, furrows his brow.
“What do you mean it’s for me?”
“I mean this is for you,” Scott repeats, “From Derek Hale.”
Stiles scowls at him, “how does he know who I am?”
“He doesn’t,” Scott replies, “He opened the door when I was slipping it under. He made me stand and wait for him to read the letter and then write his response letter before leaving. He said to bring it to whoever wrote him.”
Face screwed up in aggravated confusion, Stiles takes the envelope from Scott’s hand and carelessly rips it open.
It’s written on looseleaf paper.
There are two realities. One where you are someone pulling a prank on me, which, if you are, it was poorly executed and you can’t hurt my feelings with fake love letters because I’m not twelve? And the second reality is one where you are someone who is actually convinced you’re in love with me.
Whatever the case is, your letter was tired and full of old, overused ideas. I know whoever you are, you don’t love me. That letter was every cliche of a drunken Shakespearean sonnet that reproduced with a Pablo Naruda poem all because of a regrettable one-night stand.
Your words are empty.
I’m more than recyclable ideas to a person in love with me. I know that much.
I know that if a day ever comes that someone loves me and they tell me in written words, it will read like a sacred text.
I’ll feel it in my bones, I’ll feel it shake my soul, like a hand reaching through the paper and clenching around my heart.
It will be words a million times more meaningful than anything you could write, because it will be about a feeling only I could invoke in only this one other person. A singular, spectacular event in space-time that will only happen once and never again. We will be the only witnesses and that will only bring us closer.
It will be a feeling no one else has ever felt because it will be born between me and this other person whose soul will be a world so encompassing, I could wander in it for the rest of my days and never see the same flower twice.
Your writing evokes no feeling, it falls flat. It’s pretty, but I know it doesn’t mean anything. Some weeds look like flowers, after all.
If you’re an aspiring prankster: get a sense of humor.
If you think you’re in love with me: reread your letter. You’re not in love with me.
“What a dick!” Stiles exclaims.
He whips out more parchment; he’s so frustrated with the whole day at this point, his anger gets the best of him. He spent two days researching this dude and spent hours ripping up drafts, struggling to put together something romantic and hauntingly loving.
“What a completely unappreciative asshole!”
“What are you doing?” Scott asks curiously, a tinge of concern in his voice.
“Oh,” Stiles grins sarcastically, “I’m writing a letter to Derek Hale.”
First of all: fuck you
Second of all: I’ve got mad love-letter-writing skills so you can get OFF MY DICK ABOUT TIRED AND OVERUSED IDEAS HOW ABOUT FUCK YOU
I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU WRITE SOMETHING HALF AS ROMANTIC AS MY FUCKIN LOVE LETTER YOU PRICK
DO YOU EVEN GET HOW MUCH TIME I PUT INTO THAT???
“There,” Stiles says after sealing another envelope and handing it to Scott, “Next chance you get tomorrow, give Derek Hale’s dorm a visit.”
Scott sighs something like “ugh,” and leaves with slumped shoulders.
It’s the beginning of something.
Stiles is sitting in his Advanced Fiction Writing class when Scott slips through the door and essentially tip-toes to Stiles’ table. Stiles’ table-mate is asleep on crossed arms and the professor never actually turns around to face any of them, so he misses Scott coming in altogether.
Scott slides a folded piece of looseleaf paper onto the table and winks before gliding out as quietly as he entered.
I could write something romantic and certainly more romantic than what you wrote me. Romance is personal, though. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. You can’t touch my heart with words that don’t mean anything to you. If it doesn’t mean anything to you, how in the world could it mean anything to me?
- Derek Hale
Stiles glares at the paper for a few seconds, glances around and then opens up a new page in his notebook. He doesn’t usually write on crummy paper like the ones he takes class notes on, but he’s too worked up to put it off for later.
That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying if the Mona Lisa isn’t personal to you that you won't feel something incredible upon seeing it. Is Monet tired and overused? What about music? Is Chopin’s work no longer meaningful? It’s ridiculous. Of course we recycle older words and imagery, we use them to evoke certain emotions, that’s just how it works. Van Gogh didn’t mean for Starry Night to mean so much to so many people. He didn’t dedicate it to each person who was effected by it personally, but he created a piece of art that is timeless and that evokes feeling. That’s the point.
And you can so not out-romance me. I am romantic af I’ll have you know. Writing love letters is like the most romantic thing you can do
For real, give it up
Stiles has to wait for four hours before he sees Scott again.
He thinks he sees Derek going into the science building on his way to Intermediate Poetry Writing, but he’s not sure. He wonders if it’s just the recency effect, since he didn’t really know Derek Hale existed until a few days back. Maybe there’s something quiet in him that’s hoping to see Derek.
Stiles gets itchy when it takes two days for Derek to answer.
Derek’s definitely figured out that he just has to go to Scott to communicate with ‘anonymous’ by now and Scott claims that Derek doesn’t seem to think he and anonymous are the same person. In fact, Scott told Stiles that Derek asked him if he’d be willing to disclose who anonymous is and when Scott said no, Derek just nodded. Stiles was nearly disappointed. He thought Derek would be more interested in who his secret admirer is.
Stiles is leaving his Poetry class when Scott walks up to him with a new folded sheet of paper. Stiles ignores his own excitement; he tells himself it’s the normal reaction to having any letter answered.
Stiles opens it up where he stands, allowing the hall to start moving around him.
Words are different, anonymous. Words are these messy blocks we scramble together to try to convey things we feel. The Mona Lisa means something to many people, but it must have meant something different altogether to the woman portrayed in it. If that painting was for her eyes, for her to feel something from - she maybe felt something neither of us know.
That’s the point. You can think a language is beautiful and still not understand what’s being said. Art is interpretive. Words - not so much. When someone says, “I can’t seem to think of anything but you,” there’s no subjective meaning to that. It’s not for an audience. There’s no ‘it could mean this,’ ‘it could mean that.’ It’s a special phrase, it means something solid but not tangible. Maybe it means something in particular to someone special. Maybe it elicits a specific feeling from that person because it’s meant to.
You’re so confident in your love-letter writing, when did you start writing them? Why, even?
- Derek Hale
Stiles drops his book bag on the floor and digs out his notebook. He holds it up against the wall and clicks a pen open; he replies to the letter right there on the wall while Scott watches him, looking at him curiously.
I’m hating that you have good points. Just know that. Like, if we were looking at each other right now, I’d be nodding, but you’d notice a lot of disdain in my eyes.
I started writing love letters in the sixth grade. There was a girl I was infatuated with and for Valentine’s Day, I wrote her a note. It felt really, really dangerous. Sort of exciting. My father always told me to never put anything in writing - it was like I was breaking a cardinal rule for the sake of true love. After that, I just never stopped.
As for why? I mean, love letters are a lost art, dude. I’m the love letter messiah, come to revive ye olde ways. Like, not only are your super personal feelings of affection sealed in them, but everything about making the letter and sending the letter is romantic. Our generation got shorted on that front - we take in mail (or that sad, dismal stack of bills we call mail) everyday and the closest we get to something personal is a birthday card someone picked out of a 100+ mass-produced cards written by a stranger and signed thoughtlessly by a relative you’ve spoken to three times at most.
There’s nothing personal about mail anymore. Even people trying to sell you things use computers now, their envelopes say impersonal shit like ‘to the residents at ___’ instead of a handwritten ‘Mr/Ms/Mrs So-and-So,’ on the envelopes. Mail used to be exciting for people. Now, it’s mundane at best and depressing at worst.
But love letters - they’re eternal. You can’t re-read a phone call, you can’t really wax poetic through text, but love letters are forever. You open an old love letter and it’s a time machine.
When you open a love letter, you’re touching something the sender touched. The parchment their fingers touched, maybe even their lips touched. And don’t even act like licking the envelope isn’t a sexy little business all on its own.
Signed and dated documentation that you were loved and desired. And it’s not like you throw love letters away like bills and birthday cards - that’d be like sacrilegious. You keep them and then one day you waste away and someone goes through your things - or maybe someone finds your depleted home and sees these old, yellow letters about a warm, mad sort of existence. Letters about someone loose and wild with a bite, with a heat, someone who laughed and loved and got laid and lived a little.
I feel like, my whole life, I’ve been waiting to find a drawer full of old letters. I mean - I never have, but, I’ve always wanted to. Somedays I could think of almost nothing else. My friend and I used to break into abandoned houses because I got so obsessive for a period. But... alas. No love letters. Not even a scrap of writing parchment. I speak a dead language.
If that’s not romantic to you, what in the world is?
The next day, Stiles watches from the second floor of the library as Scott is stopped at the door by Derek. Derek hands him a letter and walks away after a brief exchange. Stiles rushes down the stairs of the library to meet Scott on the first floor, a little out of breath, excited and he doesn’t know why, or he’s pretending to not know why.
He snatches the paper out of Scott’s hand before Scott even gets a chance to greet him.
The letter reads;
I stared at your letter for a while.
And I don’t know. I don’t know what’s romantic to me.
Stiles stares for a long moment at the looseleaf with a furrowed brow. He’s frustrated at first, because how in the world can a grown person not know what they consider romantic? But the frustration pretty quickly gives way to a lot of sadness and Stiles isn’t even sure why.
Hasn’t anyone ever romanced you?
No. Not without ulterior motives.
What do you mean? Ulterior motives?
Derek doesn’t answer for another few days. Stiles anxiously fills three commissions in that time, gets talked into buying booze for a small party with his rewards and he’s a bit drunk when Scott arrives late to the party with a letter in hand.
No one’s ever romanced me for the sake of romance. I’ve mostly fallen for tricks rather than in love. Someone’s always wanted something from me. And that’s not love, you know? My mother once told me that loving someone is wanting to give without ever thinking of receiving in return. She had a type of martyr complex, but those words resonated with me.
I don’t think my love is stable enough to maintain, anyway. I can’t really explain the way it is well.
I love like a hurricane, like a runaway freight train. Like enormous waves building before the break, like being so close to the stage that you feel the bass vibrate in your ribs.
Sometimes it gets soft, like rain against the window on a humid night, like driving through a neighborhood at 2am and seeing a light on through curtained windows. Like kids under a blanket with a flashlight, like something someone sings really softly while they clean. Like a mausoleum that’s got green and blue stains on the outside, like a familiar scent in an unfamiliar place, like strong arms and delicate skin.
I love like it’s The End, like I don’t know how to do anything else. I love in a way that I think is frightening. I think it’s frightening for the focus of my attention and it’s frightening for me to feel. I distrust things that feel too good and even when it hurts, I like it. I don’t know how to be any other way.
Stiles leans his head against the wall, people are loud around him and Scott is looking at him sort of worriedly. There’s a humored glint in his eye, though.
Stiles sighs and mutters, “God, he’s so... fuckin’ - he’s well fuckin’ spoken.”
There’s a half-empty bottle of Captain Morgan in Stiles’ grip and Scott smiles at it and decides to ask,
“Is he nice?”
“No?” Stiles asks the ceiling, “No? I don’t even know. I’ve never met someone I can talk to about this stuff and I don’t even get why he’s talking to me.”
“Do you want me to stop bringing his responses?” Scott asks seriously.
Stiles shakes his head and immediately regrets doing that, “No, uh - no, I like it. I don’t get why, but I like it. I don’t want him to stop writing.”
Scott smiles at him in a very knowing way, but Stiles is a touch too drunk to notice. He inadvertently makes a conspicuous exit into his room while attempting to be discrete.
He puts the letter in his pillow case, since most of the people at the party don’t know about his project and he doesn’t want them figuring it out.
The party goes on pretty late, despite the gathering remaining at a relatively low number of people. At around 3am, there are three people crashing in the common living space of the dorm and Stiles has shut his bedroom door, fallen into bed and it’s then that he hears a crinkle. He panics for a quick second and he musters all of his possible concentration to re-master his fine motor skills enough to save the letter from wrinkling.
He takes it out and he reads it again and thinks a lot about what a hurricane might love like. He imagines that light on at 2am. It makes him remember riding over cracked cement sidewalks late at night with Scott and sometimes alone, when he was anxious and his father wasn’t home to tell him he couldn’t be out riding so late. He remembers the first time he went to an airport and heard a plane take off.
He sighs, realizing he’s too drunk to answer.
He falls asleep with Derek’s letter in his loose grip.
You sound like more of a romantic than even me.
So, when I wrote you, you thought I wanted something from you?
I thought you were mocking me.
I’m sorry. I definitely didn’t intend for that. You know that now, right?
I don’t know what I can say I know about you other than that you have nice handwriting and you used to break and enter into condemned buildings regularly.
And if you smell like your letters smell, you might be a nice smelling person.
Stiles grins widely at the letter. It’s not necessarily a compliment, but it’s an interesting picture to paint. He pushes aside his Creative Non Fiction Writing textbook and nods every now and again during lecture to appear as though he’s writing notes.
That’s kind of a cool reputation to create for myself, to be honest.
If you want to know more about me, though, here’s some trivia:
I’m 5ft 11in, I’ve got brown hair and brown eyes and I have a zipper jacket for literally every occasion.
Spring is probably my favorite season despite my annoying hay fever, I’m probably going to end up going into journalism even though I want to be a fiction writer, I have issues recognizing authority and I’ve hot-wired a car before.
I think I’m a good person? I don’t want you to think I want something from you. I’m basically harmless.
I don’t even know what it means to have jackets for more than the occasion of rain, but that’s interesting. I’m 6ft and 2in, I’ve got black hair and I don’t know what color my eyes are. They change a lot depending on what I’m wearing. My license says hazel, though.
I like fall, I think. I like it when it rains the best, though. I like sunny days fine, but if every night could end with a thunder and lightning storm, that’d be a perfect world to me.
Don’t go into journalism. If your heart’s not in it, don’t do it. Most people go out into the world and they’re gonna fail. We’re all gonna fail at shit. Shit we’re good at, shit we studied for, shit we’re passionate about. You run the same risk of failing even if you play it safe. So, do what you love. Be a fiction writer. You may as well fail at trying to do something you love than fail at some shit you don't even care about.
The person that broke into condemned houses growing up has issues recognizing authority? That’s weird.
Don’t hot-wire my car.
I don’t know what I want to do with my degree. I think I’ll wind up teaching. I also want my doctorate, but I’m hesitant. There are days that I feel like I’m wasting time here in a big, existential way. I’ll get distracted in class and look at my shoes on the linoleum floor and I can’t remember why I’m there. I should be out walking unnamed streets, I should be biking through Thailand with all my earthly belongings in a backpack, I should be on a train in Paris talking to strangers, I should be in Cape Town volunteering time at big cat rescues - but I’m here. Scribbling numbers on paper that no one even cares about.
I think that if I stay in school to get my doctorate, it’s not because I want my doctorate for scholarly purposes, but because I want to avoid living for as long as possible. Putting off facing my mortality.
I can’t say I’ve hot-wired a car, but I once kicked in a locked door with one blow.
I don’t think ‘good’ is something a person is. It’s something a person does. So, comparatively, I’m probably a moderately good person.
I’m definitely not harmless.
“Okay,” Scott interjects, “We are talking about this right now.”
Stiles makes a face at him, holding Derek’s letter close to his chest and far from Scott’s judgmental eyes.
“No, we don't have to talk about this.”
“Yes,” Scott persists, sitting down on the end of Stiles’ bed, “Yes, we do, because I am playing mailman and I have no idea what’s going on.”
“Didn’t we talk about this when I was drunk? That was a great conversation. It was super revealing and I definitely thoroughly explained myself, so we shouldn’t rehash this old stuff, right?” Stiles rants, lowering his arms to look down at Derek’s letter.
Scott slants his mouth, “Stiles, what is going on with you? What are you even talking about with this guy?”
“I don’t know!” Stiles answers restlessly, “I can’t - I don’t know. It’s not like he’s forcing conversation? He’s just...”
“Easy to talk to?” Scott fills in.
Stiles rolls his eyes, but doesn’t deny it.
Scott nods and says, “I just want to know what’s going on here. It’s weird to see you actually exchanging letters and I don’t think it’s going to take Derek a lot longer to just look into who my friends are and whittle it down to you. Your anonymity is being risked and I know how much your love letter business means to you.”
Stiles remembers describing himself to Derek in his last letter and he groans, falling back onto his pillow and rolling over to bury his face in shame. He can hear his father telling him “never put anything in writing,” in the back of his mind and he groans again.
“Do you think this was all an elaborate ploy to figure out who the letter sender was?” Stiles asks.
Scott shakes his head, lying down on the bed with Stiles, propping his head up with his hand.
“No,” Scott answers, “he doesn’t seem too concerned with who ‘anonymous’ is. He only asked me once and then he never brought it up again. I think that if he really wanted to know, he’d have figured it out by this point. All he’d have to do is follow me til the end of the day. I don’t think he cares about who ‘anonymous’ is enough to spoil the fun.”
“You think this is fun for him?” Stiles inquires.
Scott smirks and says, “I guess he hasn’t told you in your letters?”
“No!” Stiles exclaims, sitting up, “Has he told you he thinks it’s fun?”
Scott chuckles and shakes his head, “not in so many words.”
Stiles frowns a little and Scott mentions, “but he does whistle when he walks away.”
Imagining that makes Stiles smile and Scott inwardly resigns himself to being their personal mailman until Stiles figures out what he wants.
What’s your favorite class? What made you interested in maths? Understanding advanced math is basically a superpower, you know. In middle school, I had english right before algebra and I’d meet with my friend (I use this term loosely - we basically only ever spoke to exchange pertinent information about pop quizzes) Andrew in the boy’s bathroom because he had algebra right before english with the same teachers that I had and I’d let him copy my english homework and classwork and I’d copy his math work all within the two minutes before the bell. It was a very delicate system...
I mostly like reading Stephen King, H.P Lovecraft and Tolkien books. I’ve probably read Insomnia five times. Do you have an opinion of James Patterson? What’s your favorite genre to write in? And read? Were you writing before you started writing love letters? My favorite book is Bless Me Ultima. I think a movie about it is coming out soon...
...and there was one time I was playing soccer and I literally kicked the ball directly into my face. I don’t even think I could make it happen again if I tried today. I am honestly the height of grace and majesty. So, that’s how I fractured my nose in the fourth grade, as for my sixth grade fracture, that was my collarbone. I was on the monkey bars and they were connected to the wood works, which were always full of wasps, right, and it’s important that I mention that I’m wearing velcro shoes at this age (stop judging me, I had issues with fine motor skills for a while) so...
Cats like me, I don’t know. They definitely smell me on my car, because there are twelve of them and they never hide under the cars parked around mine. During spring, when there’s that gross layer of pollen on everything, I can usually see little paw prints all over my windshield. I don’t know, I like them, though. I leave tupperware full of water and food there now. I named one of them Jazz when I was drunk...
Why ‘Free Bird,’ though? That is like a 10 minute song?? Why would you chose that??? I have never met anyone with the patience to sit through the whole thing in silence. If I’m going to invest that much time in a song, it’s going to be a love rock ballad by Meatloaf. When I was really young, I bought an ‘easy rock’ CD, not realizing what it was. I listened to it a thousand times, it had the doobie brothers and the pina coloda song and a song by some guy with a really deep voice that went ‘I wanna kiss you all over (bum bum bum) and over again! I wanna kiss you all over, til the night closessss innnnnn - TIL THE NIGHT CLOSESSSSS INNNNNN!’ ...
I was going to double major in social work, actually, but my sister reminded me that anything related to the world ‘social’ was probably not the field for me. It’s not like I hate socializing or anything, but a lot of people expect stuff from me? It makes me uncomfortable. I feel like everyone is waiting for me to emote in some specific way that is protocol for the situation, but I never know the cues. People tell me I speak in the wrong tone, hold myself the wrong way, look wrong, act wrong - it’s easier to just not socialize. Plus, why would I go to a class party when I know the effect I have on people? They want to have fun. I don’t want to get in their way...
...so then I said that if he dog-eared my fucking book one more time, I was literally going to hurl him out the window. I only half meant it, but he’s a huge drama queen so the police were called, and, anyway, that’s why I don’t lend out my books anymore. I’d lend them to you, obviously, because you now know my story about dog-eared pages and French vanilla coffee creamers, but as a general rule, I don’t lend out my books.
...and talking doesn’t always help, you know? The thing is, if a person cares, they change. That’s the biggest thing to take away from this. If a person cares about making things different, they will make changes to their environment, to their behavior - it shows when someone cares. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you - if she cares, she’ll make changes to be close to you again.
Why did you stop painting? That sounds like an incredible skill. I can draw exactly one thing. I can’t tell you because it’s a secret skill no one knows about. So, it has to be a secret code someday, since it’s the only thing I can draw. I don’t know what I might need a secret code for, but watch. Someday it will be useful.
Laura is a great driver, a lot better than me. Not that I’m a bad driver, but she deals well with change and never gets lost. She knows every back road in the midwest, I don’t really understand how and she’s got a perfect sense of direction. One time she drove us through a hail storm near Montauk Point and the sky was literally black. It was black like ash, midday. She got us home in perfect time, though.
Scott and I had to go to summer school that year. Which was a mistake to keep us together, obviously. Summer school is full of substitutes where I went for middle school and Scott was always late, so I’d tell them that Scott’s name is a typo on the roster and his real name is Scooter. That was the most fun I ever had in middle school. Summer AM classes and everyone was calling Scott Scooter, it was perfect.
...and no, after my uncle passed, we just left California. Our whole family was buried up here and it sort of made sense to move here. My great, great grandmother, who lived to be 102, by the way, was the first buried here. She loved NY. Which, I assume means she never went upstate. Or drove. Or left her house. Or interacted with literally any other New Yorker.
Wine gives me a headache, beer is just gross and I don’t care if that’s emasculating, because seriously, it tastes like piss. Or what I assume piss tastes like. I can’t have tequila because no one likes me when I’ve had tequila, whiskey burns me too much and have you ever had buttery nipple shots? I love those things. I don’t know what’s in them and I’m too worried to google it. They’re fuckin’ delicious, though. I like rum and vodka, so it’s probably full of one of those. What about you?
You don’t know how to whistle? That’s a shame. Don’t give up. I doubt that there is a genetic reason for you having difficulty whistling, though. I mean, unless the inside of your mouth is misshapen or concave somehow, I’m pretty sure air will travel the same way.
I saw you in the gym on Tuesday. I wasn’t there to exercise, because I love myself, but the other entry to the campus convenience store was still closed off because of that guy who flew into the doors when he fell asleep on his bike. And I was getting sour patch watermelon candy because my life is a mess. Anyway, I saw you doing some sort of horrifyingly impressive pull up? You were like pulling yourself up and then curling your body up? Your muscles are huge, dude, that was legit terrifying. If you ever get in a fight, don’t even beat the guy up, just find a bar and show him you can do that and he’ll be like ‘whoa, I’m not fucking with that.’
Yeah, my multivariable calculus test went okay. I think I probably landed a B, at least. I didn’t study enough for that. That last letter you sent was two pages long - how are you even finding the time to write that much? How do you never get tired of words? Do you write me during class?
Oh my God, you were here for that hurricane? That must’ve been wild! I love losing power. I mean, I hate it when I’m on the internet or something, but I remember the last time we had a power outage because of a storm. I was with my dad and Scott and we were all in the living room, eating a shit ton of ice cream because my dad didn’t want it to go to waste. Scott and I knocked over every single thing that could be knocked over. Dad lit candles in the living room and told us about funny arrests he’d made. It was a great night.
Were you in the clinic yesterday with a wrist wound? I saw a brown-haired guy being treated through the window. I thought it might be you. He was wearing a jacket. I don’t know if it was a jacket appropriate for a clinic occasion, but he was wearing one.
There was an actual rooster there. I’m not even kidding. My whole relationship with Scott was established that day.
I used to sing in choir at school, but then people started considering me approachable and I didn’t care for the results of that.
No fever, thankfully, just an immortal headache and sore throat. I ate an entire bag of honey flavored cough drops today. I don’t even know what that does to a body. Is that okay to even do?
I was worried when you didn’t write back for a few days, but I’m glad you had fun.
…and fuck yeah I ate that dog milk bone for five bucks, like, I was twelve and I’ve eaten live bugs? You think a lingering dog breath is gonna scare me off? Easiest five bucks I ever made.
My sister plays the harmonica and I used to play the piano, but that went out the door the same as singing in choir and painting. I wasn’t too impressive, but I could play a lot by ear. My younger sister had perfect pitch.
Granted, everyone is terrible in middle school. 13 and 14 year olds are condensed evil.
My mother couldn’t grow a single plant. Your mother sounds like she had quite the green thumb.
What do you mean when you say you’ve ‘never been to Disney’ exactly? Because I will flip this table in a rage and don’t think I won’t.
My sister called today. I wanted to tell her about you, but I don’t even know how to explain it.
We had to find a new orthodontist after that visit. He didn’t even sue my dad, he just took us leaving and never coming back as repayment for the damages.
Really? I can never fall asleep with the television on, never mind a radio.
My favorite part of winter is watching all the aggressive bugs die and go to Hell.
I think 90′s cartoons are so popular because they were fucking bizarre. I mean, who was in charge of approving those cartoons?
I cried that entire night. Saying goodbye to my mom was the hardest thing I ever did and there are times I’m still not sure I did it.
I can’t say I’ve read or seen anything I can describe as ‘tentacle porn,’ but I believe you.
...and I said there is no way he can make a bong out of a fish, right? I was wrong.
I need a new charger for my laptop because my sister’s cat fuckin’ ate through it last weekend.
If your diet consists mostly of Monster and sushi, is that okay?
I never understood that turn of phrase. When is it applicable?
If it’s not mint chocolate chip, it can fuck the entire way off.
I was thinking about you this morning.
...and, yeah, I’m just really glad I have you to talk about this with.
I missed you over break.
I had a dream about you last night.
Sunday was a drag, but yeah, I’m doing okay.
I’m always starving at 2am.
We should meet.
Stiles stares down at the paper, visibly shaken, unsure of how to use his hands and vocal cords suddenly.
“Stiles?” Scott asks worriedly, “What is it?”
The world is collapsing around Stiles in some sort of horrible mockery of slo-mo where it all feels like it’s happening slowly, but time is still passing at the terrifying rate it usually does.
“He wants to meet me,” Stiles mutters lowly.
“Dude, you guys have been talking for like five months and he’s just now asking to meet you?”
Stiles’ mouth is hanging open and his heart is sinking.
That’s all the letter reads.
We should meet.
Over one hundred letters exchanged and three words make all the noise stop in Stiles’ head in a way that elicits panic rather than tranquility.
“No, oh my God, no, Scott - I can’t meet him? Is he high?”
Stiles opens up his notebook and starts writing,
ARE YOU HIG
When Scott takes his pen away and chides, “stop being so dramatic, dude. You guys have been pen pals for months. This meeting offer is way overdue.”
Stiles’ face is offended and disbelieving, “I can’t believe you’d even say that! This thing only works because we’re shouting it into a void!” Stiles’ arms move around him frantically, “He’s not being intimidatingly handsome and strong at me, so I don’t get nervous and I’m not being myself in front of him, so it doesn’t make him run for the hills! This only works because we’re not interacting on the physical plane!”
Scott sips from his coffee and says, “what are you so scared will happen?”
Stiles swallows thickly and stares down at the looseleaf paper getting wrinkled in his grip.
Sometimes there is a laughter on the page that Stiles can’t explain. He can’t hear it, but he can feel it. Like the letters are whispering that Derek considers himself very funny. Sometimes he hears music when he reads Derek’s letters, music that isn’t playing, music he can’t describe, but he hears it.
Sometimes there is comfort in Derek’s letters in the most beautiful way Stiles can imagine receiving it. Derek’s words have the power to hold him after a bad day. Feel for a fever when he’s unwell, hold his hand when he’s petrified.
“I... I’m scared of losing this,” he confesses.
He keeps his eyes down and away from Scott when he admits,
“This is the first time I’ve ever... received love letters. And it’s not -” Stiles gesticulates vaguely, “It’s not like he’s writing me poetry or something. He doesn’t tell me he loves me in those words, but he wishes me luck on the day of an exam and he’s proud of me when I do well. He writes me back every single time I write him and he shares a part of himself whenever I share a part of myself. He doesn’t say he loves me, but he says ‘stay safe,’ ‘feel better,’ and ‘is there anything I can do to help?’ I mean - how am I... how can I risk this?”
Scott stares at him for a long while over the cafe table. It’s 5am and no one is there yet, but Scott’s girlfriend Allison lets them in early while she opens shop. They get discounted coffee.
There’s snow outside, flurrying down lazily, Michael Buble is crooning softly through the small speakers on the ceiling and Stiles feels like he’s been pushed onto the edge of losing something sacred.
“Are you in love with him?”
Stiles’ eyes well up and he’s not sure if he’s embarrassed, if he’s frightened, if something is terribly wrong or terribly right with him. He just feels very suddenly vulnerable and naked in front of the crowd.
He nods and mutters wetly into his mug, “there’s just something about Derek Hale that makes the world a little better.”
Scott slides Stiles’ pen back over to his side of the table and taps on his notebook.
“I say go all or nothing. If it’s love, Stiles, you deserve to have the full package. In-the-flesh, kissing, hand-holding, going out on dates - and if he doesn’t want that, if you can never write him comfortably again, then now is a good time to know before you’re in too deep.”
Stiles sighs into his coffee, wipes under his eyes with the sleeve of his sweater and writes,
Yes. We should.
“I’m gonna have a panic attack.”
“Don’t panic, Stiles, it’s fine.”
“I am going to throw up. I am going to have a panic attack and projectile vomit onto him and then I’m going to die.”
Scott rubs the bridge of his nose, “Stiles...”
“Why did I agree to this? This is going to be a disaster. A disaster,” Stiles complains, compulsively zipping the front of his jacket open and closed, “The Rock is trying to save his unassuming suburban family from the disaster this is about to be.”
“Dennis Quaid’s scientific analysis was ignored by the government and it has resulted in the fucking disaster that is my life, Scott.”
“I’m leaving, Stiles,” Scott announces drily.
Stiles shoots up out of his seat, “no, oh my God, is it five already? This is it. This is how I go. Watch over my father. Make sure he doesn’t eat red meat. No processed foods once he hits sixty, okay?”
“Stiles,” Scott laughs exhaustedly, “It’s gonna be fine. Derek already likes you. Okay? Relax.”
Scott winks at him and leaves him at the outdoor lunch table, heart pounding so hard that it’s sort of making him nauseous.
He’s watching out for a ‘douchey’ Camaro in the parking lot when he hears footsteps round the corner of the library.
Where Stiles has been waiting, there are outdoor tables, one where Stiles is sitting. There’s a blonde girl reading with headphones in and so, when Derek rounds the corner and meets his eyes, there’s no mistaking Stiles for anyone else.
Stiles’ heart is suddenly the only thing he can hear. He could have sworn there were birds chirping, he even briefly thought there might be a rabbit thumping around behind the nearby bushes, but now all that exists is the BOOM BOOM BOOM of his heart in his ears.
He stands up, rubbing his wrists anxiously. His beanie was hardly enough to keep him warm a moment ago, but now he’s considering taking it off because of the heat swarming his brain. He adjusts his glasses and Derek adjusts his.
Derek’s leather jacket looks very loved, no glamor, scuffs where there was probably a shine once and frayed cuffs that speak of many adventures. He’s got on dark jeans and black boots and Stiles has never seen Derek this close up before.
And he’s coming closer now.
Derek comes to stand in front of him and Stiles is sort of comforted to see that Derek’s ears are red and his jugular is visibly bouncing. Maybe his heart is the only sound too.
“Hi,” Stiles manages to squeak.
He clears his voice in a way he hopes sounds rugged.
Derek hardly seems to notice.
“What’s your name?”
Derek’s voice is lower than Stiles expected or imagined it to be. There’s a certain rasp to it that lends itself well to sweet talk; as if Derek’s voice is meant to be heard at a low volume on a lazy Sunday morning like a wine that pairs well with a certain dish.
Derek nods and then takes Stiles’ hands by shyly hooking his fingers around Stiles’ - then he holds Stiles’ hands, his thumbs pressing into the heart of Stiles’ palms. He stares at Stiles for a reason to stop and when he sees none, he slides his arms around Stiles’ waist and pulls him into an intimate embrace; like they’re long lost friends reuniting after decades apart. Like Derek is so glad Stiles is safe, so glad Stiles is alive, here, right now and Stiles is too.
Derek’s eyebrows are very bold up close. His lips are thicker than Stiles imagined them. His shoulders are very, very broad and his legs are very, very long. His knuckles are swirly, his hands have beautiful veins in them and Stiles finds his peanut ears immensely endearing.
They walk to the cafe together and Derek appears to know the curly-haired boy behind the counter because they have an exchange of facial expressions that leads Stiles to believe curly-haired boy knows something about their relationship.
They sit at a booth and Stiles takes off his beanie, Derek shucks off his jacket and they toy with their mugs before daring to make eye-contact.
“Were you as worried as I was about this being weird?”
Derek nods, looking down at his finger tracing the lip of his mug.
“Yeah. Are you still worried?”
“No,” Stiles replies, “I’m sort of weirded out by how not-weird this is, actually.”
Derek smirks and Stiles thinks of the word devilish. He traces the word out with his finger on the tabletop to put it out into the world, the way he does when he can’t say these things out loud.
“Yeah, I feel that too.”
Stiles brings his mug up to his mouth, blows a little at the steam rising from it and he asks, “have I told you too much about myself?”
“I don’t think I could ever know enough,” Derek answers easily.
The mug very nearly slips out of Stiles’ hold.
Derek isn’t looking at him still.
“I struggle to feel close to other people,” Derek admits somberly, “I struggle to... connect.”
“I know,” Stiles replies, because he does.
Derek and he have written to one another about this many times and Stiles is quickly realizing that Derek is much better spoken on paper than in person. It is somehow only more charming to Stiles.
“Right,” Derek nods, “This feels natural to me. Does it... do you feel that?”
Stiles contemplates that word for a moment because while Derek isn’t as eloquent in person, he knows Derek chooses his words wisely. The word ‘natural,’ seems important.
They’re both very obviously nervous, even happily so and that makes things just slightly stilted. Every look, every touch is just a little unsure of its welcome. And so, natural might not be the right word.
But everything in Stiles’ mind and body is telling him that this is precisely where he should be. There is nowhere and no one more important than Derek, here and now. Every fiber of Stiles’ being is rising up with purpose, every cell whispering urgently, “this is exactly where you are meant to be!”
A word better suited might be 'serendipity,’ ‘fate,’ maybe even ‘destiny.’
I wonder if Derek believes in that sort of thing.
For the first time in a long while, Stiles feels like he’s moving with the tide rather than against it and maybe that’s the part that’s natural.
Maybe Derek means that this is the natural course fate takes, that of course this would be love. It started with a love letter, after all.
Stiles would agree with that, so he nods.
Derek smiles shyly.
“So, uhm, I heard a rumor that you threw some guy bodily out of your dorm room a while back,” Stiles mentions casually.
Derek looks a little surprised, then admits, “yeah.”
Stiles grins, “you did?”
Derek shrugs, “he was harassing my dorm mate and I told him to get out, or I would throw him out. He told me I probably snort protein powder to look tougher than I actually am and then he pushed me.”
“So you threw him out of your room?”
“What can I say?” Derek smirks, “I’m a man of my word.”
Stiles laughs gleefully and conversation starts moving with more certainty and ease and as far as Stiles is concerned, the night draws in too quickly.
They stay in the cafe until close and when they do leave, it’s a dark and clear night. Some stars are showing, but they’re a bit too close to town to see much. Some of the street lamps are on and Stiles is taken with the way shadows move along Derek’s face, always flattering.
He means to walk Derek to his dorm room leisurely and then leave with an air of mystery, but he lingers in the doorway a few beats too long. He hasn’t been so hesitant to leave someone since Scott’s 9th birthday party, when he was crashing from the sugar intake and his father was dragging him home, even though he swore he could still play longer.
Derek stands in the threshold of the door, the lights are off and both the bedroom doors are open - no one seems to be in there.
“What do you think of romantic love?”
Derek cocks a brow.
“What do I think of it?”
Stiles nods, unsure of his own question and what he is hoping to hear. Derek looks nearly confused, but sadder than that.
“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say ‘I love you,’” Derek begins, “I think I’ve only heard different versions of ‘don’t leave me alone.’”
Stiles finds himself staring at Derek’s mouth, he feels lit up inside.
“What do you think of it?” Derek asks.
Stiles looks at his shoes so he’ll stop staring and replies, “I used to think it was like a recipe. I had to have all the right ingredients, I had to prep it just right, I had to bake it or cook it just right, for long enough, not too long and then let it cool without letting it go cold and it would be perfect... but, recently, I’ve started thinking that love isn’t like that at all. It’s not steps to a dance, it’s not coordinates, it’s not a recipe or a formula and it’s not something I can pretend to be.”
Derek tilts his head to the side, waiting for Stiles to finish,
“I think it’s a little more... natural than that.”
Derek’s eyes widen a little, then he blinks and his face settles into a rosy-cheeked smile. He leans on the frame of the door and Stiles can see over Derek’s shoulder, into one of the bedrooms and through the window; it’s snowing again.
“You can stay, you know.”
Stiles looks up in surprise and Derek folds his arms over his chest.
“We don’t have to fool around,” Derek adds, “We don’t have to do anything.”
Throat clicking on a swallow, Stiles nods. He thought he may have been a bit forward in considering this a date, but he’s relieved to know Derek is at least somewhat on the same page.
“What are you thinking?” Derek asks.
Stiles laughs nervously and says, “I’m really hoping you kiss me.”
Derek unfolds his arms to cup his hands around Stiles’ upper arms. He doesn’t grip Stiles like he did to the pull-up bar that Stiles saw him exercise on - Stiles notices the stark contrast there. He remembers wanting to pause in the gym just to stare at Derek’s muscles, but he knew if he stopped, Derek would see him and know who he was. He remembers the way Derek’s veins were pronounced against his skin, the dark tone all Derek’s blood made in his face and arms. And those same strong hands and arms are touching him delicately, gently, cautiously.
Stiles feels safe being touched by Derek, being near Derek and his strong arms and his strong chest and strong jaw and strong heart, never having been aware that he felt unsafe before.
He moves his hands onto Derek’s waist and Derek moves in closely, kissing him gingerly by the corner of his eye, then gently on the cheek, then the corner of his mouth and then he stares into Stiles’ eyes.
This close now, Stiles isn’t sure what color they are either.
Blue and green and some sort of sea foam color, speckled with gold. It’s almost intimidating.
And, as most things in Stiles’ life that scare him, he moves right for it.
He kisses Derek’s lips and he hears Derek intake quickly because the kiss is electric and it thrills him.
Stiles tilts his head to get impossibly closer, to somehow kiss Derek more. Derek’s hands find their way into Stiles’ hair and their glasses bump, making their kiss break into smiles.
“You told me you love like a hurricane, Derek,” Stiles chides, heart fluttering the way it does when he’s gambling with his wants, “Is this how a hurricane loves?”
Derek smirks, takes his glasses and jacket off, tosses them on the couch and replies,
“Don’t be silly. Every hurricane starts off with a little drizzle.”
Stiles smiles and asks, “maybe there’ll be some thunder and lightning if I shut the door?”
Derek chuckles and it vibrates through Stiles’ entire body all at once.
Stiles hurriedly shuts the door and before he can laugh at his own eagerness, Derek is hoisting him up against the door, mouth hot and soft despite the bite of his five o’clock shadow. Derek’s arms don’t even seem strained under his weight, so Stiles wraps his legs around Derek’s waist and moans against Derek’s mouth when they’re pressed together.
Glasses tilted and fogged up, hair mussed and lips already swollen, Stiles looks debauched and he can feel it. He’d be embarrassed usually, but all he feels is powerful because Derek’s eyes are full of desire and there’s a telling throb against the incline of Stiles’ hip.
Stiles wants to ask if this is the first time Derek is getting sexual with someone of the same sex and gender because Derek appears to him as this hyper masculine daydream. All he can manage to get out is, “you’re into this?”
Derek bites his bottom lip, tugs on it gently and huffs against his lips,
“I’m into you.”
Most of Stiles’ higher brain functions check out at that point and he allows Derek to carry him into his bedroom. There’s a street lamp just outside and with Derek’s curtains apart, it dimly lights the room. The shadows are dark, but Stiles can see stacked books, three different calculators on his desk and two open textbooks. He sees some athletic posters hanging, an Rx bottle on his bedside table.
When Derek lets Stiles fall back on his bed, Stiles is washed with the scent of Derek. There’s a sweet scent of laundry detergent, which Stiles appreciates, but there’s a thinner layer between the chemicals. More than a shampoo or a cologne, it’s a pine and woods smell, it’s a light sweat, a night with the window open, Derek sighing a minty breath while he dreams.
Stiles feels the existence of Derek here, the same way he can feel it in Derek’s letters - when he hears that music that isn’t playing, when he feels Derek’s laughter that isn’t even implied. Stiles can feel a lived life against the sheets; heavy eyelids shutting closed, a face rubbed into the pillow over and over, a mattress lazily thrust against, a full body stretch upon waking up.
Derek is waiting for a cue from Stiles and he’s not even sure what he wants yet. He doesn’t know how far he wants to go, he wants all of Derek as quickly as he can have it because he feels like he’s been starving for Derek his entire life.
“Tell me what you want,” Derek says roughly, as if reading Stiles’ mind.
“I can’t - I can’t decide,” Stiles admits, licking his lips nervously, adjusting his slipping glasses.
Derek smiles at him and asks, “how blind are you without those?”
“Pretty blind,” Stiles laughs.
“Keep them on, then,” Derek instructs, “I want to know you really like everything you see.”
Stiles’ throat clicks again and Derek stretches his arms back, pulling his shirt over his head and down onto the floor. His chest isn’t so puffy when he’s not crossing his arms or pulling himself up on bars, but his abs are incredible and Stiles wants to touch them partially out of sexual interest and partially out of envious fascination.
Every shadow of the night and highlight of starlight dresses Derek more beautifully. The flurrying snow outside is getting heavier, making unfocused shapes on Derek’s bare skin, lit up by the moon and streetlamp. The complexity that Stiles feels at the simplicity of Derek’s beauty shakes the core of him, fills him with an unnamed type of dread that he’ll ever have to look at anything else again or feel anything other than what he feels when he looks at Derek.
Derek looks like he belongs there, draped in moonlight.
“Do you like this?”
“Yes,” Stiles answers too quickly, “Yes - definitely, definitely yes - this is a very, very good development.”
Derek smirks in that devilish way again and Stiles’ cock throbs in his jeans. His legs are sprawled open across Derek’s mattress, his palms holding him up, the smell of Derek everywhere, Derek’s body on display like a statue of a Greek god. He wonders impossible questions like ‘how in the world did I get here?’
He very suddenly realizes that this can’t just be sex; he can’t fuck Derek, he can’t ‘do’ Derek. He has to make love to Derek or nothing else.
He’s too scared to ask if Derek is feeling what he’s feeling.
He’s too selfish to walk away.
“Do you want me to keep going?”
“Absolutely,” Stiles answers readily.
Derek toes off his shoes and socks in a graceful way Stiles could never dream of achieving. He considers taking his own shoes off to avoid later embarrassment, but he doesn’t want to look away from Derek. Not even for a moment.
After glancing at Stiles briefly, Derek looks down again and reaches for his belt buckle. Hearing the slip of metal gets Stiles feeling hotter than before, wanting to take his shirt off, wanting to get even hotter against Derek’s body.
Watching Derek gradually pull his belt out of the loops is easily one of the most pornographic things Stiles’ eyes have ever consumed. It’s hypnotizing and he’s fantasizing about more; more sex with Derek, full nights of sex with Derek, days of sex, years of sex, anniversary sex, role-plays, handcuffs, favorite outfits - things he has no right thinking of yet. But it’s not stopping him.
Derek’s belt hitting the floor pulls his head out of the clouds.
“You’re thinking,” Derek mentions.
Stiles looks up at Derek from under his glasses and lashes. Derek asks without pressure or inflection,
“Are you waxing poetic about me in your head, or are you planning an escape route?”
Stiles laughs nervously - ‘I’m thinking I found my soulmate,’ ‘I’m way less experienced than you’re thinking I am,’ ‘I’m in love with you and it’s showing,’ ‘I can feel it in my eyes,’ ‘are you being willfully ignorant or do you not know what love looks like?’ ‘can you feel what I feel?’ ‘I can’t ruin this,’ ‘I can’t blow this opportunity,’ ‘I want you so badly,’ ‘I want this to last forever,’ - “I’m waxing poetic.”
Derek kneels down in front of his bedside where Stiles’ feet are dangling.
“May I?” Derek asks politely, gesturing at Stiles’ shoes.
Stiles nods and Derek unlaces them before slipping them off delicately, he pokes at Stiles’ toe that’s showing through a hole in his sock. Stiles is relatively surprised that Derek seems to think that’s cute.
Derek falls onto the bed over him, holding his weight up and staring down into Stiles’ eyes.
“Want to try something for me?”
Derek has never asked a favor before.
Stiles nods, eager to know what it sounds like - what it will be.
“Stop thinking,” Derek tells him, “just feel for a while.”
Just feel for a while.
Stiles never realized that was an option.
He shuts his eyes, tries to quiet the constant gabber in his head and it helps. The writer in him wants to document every movement, every smell and sight, every chill and shiver. But Derek is looking at him with eyes Stiles has never seen on another person, thick lips so sweet, wanting more from him, brave enough to ask him for more.
He feels Derek’s hands slip under his shirt, move up his ribs, pushing his jacket and shirt up as they press onward.
“I don’t want you to worry when you’re with me. You are safe with me, I will never pressure you or make you do something you don’t want to. Any moment you’re unhappy, I’ll stop the world for you and we can both get off, okay?”
Stiles’ eyes are a little bit glassy when he opens them.
“Why are you being so patient with me?”
Derek is quiet for too long before he says, “I know what it’s like to not be ready.”
Stiles is immediately rushed with homicidal rage for the person who dared to lay a finger on Derek Hale, but before it can take over, Derek kisses him sweetly and any ill feeling is sucked out of him.
When the kiss breaks, Derek moves his face next to Stiles’, his eyelashes tickle Stiles’ cheek and the rasp of his stubble is romantic, intimate.
“I want to feel what you feel for me, Stiles,” Derek whispers.
Stiles’ heart bumps.
“If you... if you stop thinking, just feel - just let me feel what you do... I want to know.”
Derek pulls away enough so their noses touch and he says again,
“I want to know what you feel for me.”
When Stiles pulls Derek down to kiss him, he pours every ounce of inspiration, every spark of infatuation and love and desire he’s been made dizzy by over the last few months.
Derek’s hands move across all his skin, brushing his ribs, rubbing his nipples, petting his sides, massaging his back, making Stiles arch up towards him. Stiles’ hands grip Derek’s hair and back; he feels like he could float away into the sky if Derek weren’t holding him down.
Their clothes wind up scattered on the floor and Derek tsks Stiles for not letting him know he was covered in beauty marks. Stiles never considered them all that special, was never particularly embarrassed of them either, just never really considered them at all. With the way Derek’s eyes twinkle when he stares at them, though, Stiles almost believes they’re diamonds embedded in his skin.
Derek is kissing his collarbone, his hands are shaking along Derek’s upper-arms and his heart is thumping wildly.
“I want you,” Stiles breathes, “I want you inside of me.”
He almost told Derek to fuck him, but he knows that won’t happen. If Derek fucks him, it won’t feel right. He wants Derek to love him and he’s too frightened to say the words ‘I want you to be a part of me.’ His heart is a hungry beast and he’s petrified of it this night.
Without having confessed that he’s a little less experienced than his love letters might imply, Derek still somehow understands. Derek’s hands move slowly downward, parting his legs and moving between them. He kneels over Stiles, kissing his hipbone, the incline of his pelvis, inhaling at the dark hairs in the space between his crotch and thigh.
He leaves beard burn and hickeys down Stiles’ neck and chest; Stiles squeezes Derek’s ass and sucks a single mark into the hallow of Derek’s neck. He finds that he loves the way Derek’s skin tastes and the aroma that comes from that curve of his neck.
When Derek takes Stiles’ cock into his mouth, he groans and ruts against Stiles’ leg restlessly. Stiles shuts his eyes because he knows if he watches, it will be over way more quickly than he can bear.
When Derek stretches him, one finger at a time, he massages the heel of his palm against Stiles’ perineum in a way that has Stiles gasping and gripping the sheets, arching his neck and back.
Derek whispers lovely things about him, kisses his favorite freckles, gazes up at him from under thick lashes. Derek makes him the most desired creature in the world this night. Derek floods his heart and lungs with love and it’s only when Derek finally slides into him that he realizes he’s feeling precisely what Derek is feeling.
Derek’s fingers curl protectively between Stiles’ and he touches their lightly sweating foreheads together.
The room is dim and full of a thick fog of combined scents, full of the quietest noises they can make, full of something big and unspoken, full of something that has never happened before in all of space-time.
Between the gasping, the short breaths, the pleasured sighs and the high throaty noises Stiles makes, Derek manages to make a soft laugh.
Stiles’ eyes flutter open to stare into Derek’s, his glasses are foggy still and he thinks he probably looks funny, but Derek is looking at him like he hangs the moon.
“You love me,” Derek whispers.
Stiles lets out a tiny, watery breath of a laugh and nods.
Derek kisses him and they both smile too much for it to really work. Neither of them mind.
Stiles wraps his legs around Derek’s waist, dragging him in deeper and Derek curls his arms around Stiles’ upper back, pulling him up and in closer. He whispers against Stiles’ temple,
“I love you back.”
When Stiles orgasms, a tear slips from the corner of his eye and Derek kisses his moan and Stiles thinks a bit of his soul might get caught between Derek’s teeth.
He’s not sure what makes him cry. The orgasm is intense, but there’s something more. Something more powerful than a hormonal influx.
Something he doesn’t have words for.
Derek gets distracted with kissing him while he cleans them both with a wash cloth. Stiles doesn’t mind.
They kiss and lick and laugh in that bed until the still dark hours of morning.
When morning breaks through Derek’s bedroom window, Stiles is riding on top of him, naked in the pale light of morning, hair a mess, glasses slipping and jumping with every bounce he makes.
Derek’s chest hair is dark in the new light, his sweat looks good to Stiles. His dexterous fingers clutching Stiles’ shaking thighs look good to Stiles. His focused eyes and kiss-darkened lips look good to Stiles.
Every bruise and red mark left by Derek’s beard makes him feel beautiful and free and Derek tells him that he looks gorgeous.
They wake again in the afternoon, lazy and hungry, but not yet willing to move.
“That was your first time?” Derek asks.
“Yeah,” Stiles mutters, his voice hoarse.
“Was it good?”
“Are you joking?”
Derek smirks against the back of Stiles’ neck and Stiles smiles.
“I will need to top, you know. For science. At some point.”
Derek hums agreeably, kisses the base of his skull and whispers,
“I look forward to it.”
Stiles turns to face Derek; with his glasses off now, it’s a bit harder to see the fine details of his face, but he can see relatively clearly.
“What was your first time like?”
“With a guy?” Derek starts, “It was nice.”
Stiles moves his eyebrows to encourage Derek to tell him the story. Derek sighs and looks up, as if the memory is floating above his head.
“Jordan. He and I dormed together our first year. He was straight.”
Stiles cocks a brow.
“Well, he said he was straight,” Derek specifies.
“Ah,” Stiles chuckles.
Derek looks at him slyly and says, “I wanted to fuck him, but I kept that to myself. We were friends and I wasn’t looking to set our friendship on fire.”
“Right,” Stiles says reasonably.
“He broke up with his girlfriend after two years together sometime near Easter. He asked me to lie next to him until he fell asleep, because he was in a state. And I did. I went to his bed and lied down next to him.”
Stiles stares curiously, his neck turned a little uncomfortably to see Derek’s expression.
“In the middle of the night, he touched my hand,” Derek says, covering Stiles’ hand with his own, “I thought he might already be asleep. He might be dreaming. I let it go and then his arm slid around me.”
Derek slips his arm around Stiles’ tummy and says, “and I knew that wasn’t a mistake.”
“Did you kiss him or did he kiss you?” Stiles asks softly.
“He kissed me,” Derek answers, smiling a little lopsidedly, “After months of daydreaming about how I could sweep him off his feet with our first kiss, as soon as I saw an opening, I froze.”
Stiles smirks and says, “it happens to the best of us.”
When quiet falls again, Stiles’ heart starts hammering and the truth comes tumbling out of his mouth before he can stop it.
“You should know that... someone hired me to write you.”
Derek goes very still next to him.
“Someone paid you to write me a love letter?”
Stiles nods, nerves choking him up.
There’s nothing but silence for a few long beats and Stiles feels the magic of the night slipping through his fingers like sand.
“Who hired you?”
“I don’t know,” Stiles answers honestly, “It was an anonymous commissioner.”
“And you just agreed to it?”
Stiles exhales shakily, “no, I... I run a love-letter writing business.”
Derek doesn’t say anything, so Stiles anxiously continues to fill the space with noise.
“I run a blog about creative writing and love-letter writing, I make a lot of posts about poetry writing and I am sometimes commissioned to write poetry or love letters for people. It’s basically paid for all my textbooks,” Stiles laughs nervously, “I’m - I can’t give away who I am, because there’s a whole chain of people involved in delivering the letters I write and if people found out who I was, the fun of it would be ruined, you know? So...”
“The fun of writing love letters to people you don’t know? The fun of that would be ruined?”
Stiles struggles to swallow a hot lump in his throat.
Derek finally moves and Stiles feels him moving away, a panic takes over and he reaches for Derek’s arm only to find that Derek is moving over him. He climbs on top of Stiles and lays his weight down gradually. His face is unreadable.
“You’re in love with me, though.”
Stiles feels his face get hot.
“So, it doesn’t really matter why you first wrote to me. You kept writing to me.”
A cautious smile begins to take its place on Stiles’ lips.
Derek reaches over to his bedside table where he borrows Stiles’ glasses. He makes a sort of snort and mutters,
“Jesus, you really are blind.”
“Golly, thanks, Derek.”
Derek squishes Stiles’ face in one hand so that his lips make an oval shape and he says,
“Now, onto important business - have you tried whistling again since you last wrote me about failing at it?”
Stiles manages to whistle exactly once while eating his third crepe dish at the fancy brunch place downtown.
Derek’s face lights up with pride.
Stiles fucks Derek in the back of his Jeep on their second date and Stiles talks Derek into working among the chain of letter delivery boys.
He mentions that Derek may also be useful, as a muse. (And he most certainly is).
Scott and Derek’s roommate, Isaac, become unnervingly close and while Derek is quiet around Stiles’ friends, they all love the way Derek’s presence brings out a glow in Stiles. He’s warmly welcomed into the circle.
Stiles meets Laura over summer break, when he stays with Derek for two weeks.
She is extremely frightening, her cat is a complete asshole and she is one of the most delightful people Stiles has ever met.
She kisses his cheek as soon as he opens the door to greet her. Their bond is instant.
Stiles’ love letter writing business ends with a celebratory bang during his last week of classes.
Stiles gets the feeling that, even though Derek never says so, he is happy to not have to share Stiles’ words of love with any strangers anymore.
After they’ve both graduated, Stiles takes an internship he couldn’t possibly care less about. For the first week, he’s not even sure what his job is. (There are papers, though. He thinks he should be categorizing these papers? Maybe?).
When one of his supervisors calls him untalented, Derek sneaks in before their office hours are over and fucks Stiles on the guy’s desk.
They don’t leave any evidence, of course, but Stiles is able to smile broadly whenever he walks in the room and he sort of stops minding what that guy thinks of his writing style.
Derek does wind up teaching (it allows him to afford two tickets to Thailand where he and Stiles pet the trunks of rescued elephants and ride rented bikes up a mountain).
They move in together on Stiles’ 25th birthday.
They argue a lot about color-coordinating the furnishings and that’s how Stiles’ finds out that Derek is partially colorblind.
They adopt a one-eyed cat that Derek plays with everyday after work and would probably (absolutely) die for.
Post-it notes and letters and poems are almost regularly posted throughout the house for each other to find.
Derek often brings home bouquets of flowers.
Stiles learns to cook something other than cup-a-noodles.
While learning to cook something other than cup-a-noodles, Stiles sets a small house fire.
He hardly feels bad about the kitchenware destroyed, but when he sees Derek’s white, panicked eyes, jumping out of his car and running towards the burning apartment, he realizes how petrifying it must have been for Derek.
Derek proposes to him on the dew-misted ground of the front lawn while petting the cat.
He gets grass stains on the back of his collared shirt and on the knees of his suit pants.
Stiles cries and later writes a poem about love and fire.
On their wedding day, a week before Christmas, rather than reciting vows to one another, they each write a letter.
Stiles reads Derek’s letter to him, Derek reads Stiles’ letter to him and Pythagorus (their cat) bears the rings.
He later knocks over an entire bottle of wine because he’s an asshole, because every cat is an asshole.
Life happens and time sprints by, slowing down whenever their lips meet and rolling past them when they’re not looking.
A house is bought in the suburbs, just three blocks from Scott and his wife Allison and only an hour away from Laura and her husband.
Three children are adopted into the Hale-Stilinski family.
Stiles, Isaac, Scott and Allison all place bets on which last name each kid will want to adopt.
Most of the bets are placed on Hale and Stiles is very offended.
Family photos are balanced on the walls and shelves, books are littered everywhere and Stiles is 37 when his first book is published.
He gets interviewed by Ellen and he gushes about his hot husband on national television.
Derek fucks him on the floor of their hotel room that night.
When their youngest, Talia, has left for college, Stiles and Derek fight their empty nest by traveling.
Derek crosses just about every place off his list and Stiles thinks it’s sort of a waste because Derek spends most of the time looking at Stiles rather than the sites.
(But he and Derek do get to swim and play with rescued Bengal tigers and Derek almost has an emotional crisis when they fly back home.)
Derek dictates for Stiles when his arthritis gets too painful, always encouraging him to just use his laptop, but Stiles insists that his poems and letters be handwritten.
Even as the post-it notes and letters and poems get shakier around the capital letters and the punctuations drag more than they used to, they still litter the home.
There are still flowers and the scent of ink in the office and more natural light in the living room than either of them ever imagined wanting.
Age takes Derek first, in the cold of January and Stiles’ empty nest refills with his children and their children, puttering about, cleaning and collecting items they don’t want Stiles to stare at too long.
His hands are aged, dark veins and looser skin decorate the flesh he used to conquer and create his own world.
Derek is cremated and mixed with soil planted with the seeds of a green apple tree. Stiles’ spot is reserved next to him; he chose to be made into red apples.
When his only son asks him if there’s anything in the attic to get rid of, Stiles tells him there is probably Christmas lights, but not much else.
His son helps him up the ladder and into the attic a few minutes later to see what’s there for himself.
There’s a small window, fewer cobwebs than Stiles imagined there would be, boxes of old junk they never got to organizing, trinkets and outdated things.
But against the far wall there is a bureau with a mirror. There is a clean, relatively new looking envelope sitting on the top of it with Stiles’ name written across.
Stiles opens it up, his children gathering around the small opening from where the ladder descends. They watch on curiously as Stiles unfolds a handwritten letter on a page of looseleaf.
I imagine you’ll find this when the kids come to help clean. You know I’m so much better at these things when I can write them down. The words are so much harder to fill the space with when I would much rather listen to you fill the space. There are things that must be said, though. So, I thought, what better way to tell you than with a time machine?
I want to thank you first.
Thank you for making me what I am today. For believing in me. Supporting me in every endeavor, spoiling me on your affection, loving me like you hadn’t anyone else. Thank you for giving me the life of dreams.
Thank you for being such a wonderful father. I feel that, at times, I was too harsh or too short on words, but you never ran out of them. Your spirit never ran low, your heart never stopped over pouring into all the cups of those around you.
What an amazing gift you have been.
You know I love you and I don’t think I can write too much about that without crying now and I can’t have you find me up here. You’re making a stew right now. It smells amazing.
I love you and I have loved you in every life, in every way.
I hope that I have given you even a fraction of the joy you’ve given to me over these fifty years.
I don’t think I could have let you exit first. It is in all ways impossible to imagine a life without you.
And to believe in a life after death is good just to see you again.
I have wandered a long fifty years in your soul and I have yet to see the same flower twice.
Forever loving you, forever wandering and eternally yours,
Stiles lets the tears slip down his face and he holds tight to the envelope as he opens the top drawer to the bureau.
Piles and piles of unopened letters.
Some aged and yellowed, stamped and labeled with his name.
Hundreds - there has to be - hundreds of love letters Derek has left for him.
He opens the second drawer - there are more.
The third and fourth - more, piled, squished to fit.
He really did have to wait his whole life to find that drawer full of old letters and he can hardly keep upright as the tears pour down his cheeks.
He lowers himself to the floor and sits, Derek’s last letter pressed to his shaking lips.
He and Derek spoke the same dead language, he and Derek shared that part of space-time that could only happen once and never again.
And believing in fate, destiny, serendipity, believing in love and faith is good just to see him again.
As an end note: there is a character in the story who is the anonymous commissioner. I haven't stated it in the fic so readers could decide who they think it is.