“You didn’t have to come along, you know,” Stiles points out, because Derek has yet to lose the scowl or shift his shoulders into a mode other than tense-as-fuck. They’ve been here fifteen minutes and Derek hasn’t even looked at him more than a few seconds, eyes scanning the few bored shoppers around them for any sign of a threat, even though the most damage Mrs. Dougal could do is run them over with her motorized shopping cart. If they were dumb enough not to get out of her way in the million years (approx.) it would take her to reach them from one aisle down.
“You’re helping me stock the house,” Derek growls. “How helpful would you be if I’m not here to learn? Or pay for it?”
Yeah, it was kind of a shock for Stiles when he found out Derek has a fuckton of money—he should’ve guessed from the car, but the house was so awful it sort of overrode everything else. And then he’d really wished he hadn’t asked, because it turns out Derek only has said fuckton because he was the sole recipient of a whole batch of life insurance policies. And one more, now that Peter Hale is dead, victim of a gasoline fire/animal attack by all police reports.
So, anyway, Derek can spend some of his actual money on actual food, and actual carpets and actual décor and stuff to make his place a little more like a home and a little less like an abandoned mental institution. Which is where Stiles comes in.
“You really need stuff on your walls other than claw marks and blood spatter. I vote this one,” Stiles says, pointing at random to the most colorful pre-fab painting in the aisle.
Derek stares at it, then at Stiles. “A fish?”
“A koi fish. Promoting peace and tranquility and definitely, definitely not an indication that here there be werewolves.” Stiles leans into Derek while he scowls at the artwork, looping one arm around Derek’s waist under his leather jacket. It’s kind of a new thing, and Stiles is ready to leap back with good grace if Derek isn’t into it.
But Derek—Derek doesn’t do anything, lean into the touch or away from it, just kind of does that thing with his nostrils and he still isn’t looking at Stiles.
“What is it?” Stiles asks, pulling away a little. “Are you catching a whiff of eaux de Argent? No offense to Alison, of course, she usually smells like—cherries and—“ He sniffs the air himself, trying to remember, but all he gets is a lungful of leather and Derek, something that smells like the woods with a spicy hint that always makes Stiles’ heart rate spike.
“No,” Derek says, and when Stiles looks up Derek is looking back, expression a little, well, fond. Maybe.
“So what’s got you all tied up in knots?” Stiles tries not to show how dry his mouth goes when Derek slips an arm around his shoulders—he’s pretty sure it doesn’t really work.
“I’m.” Derek’s face scrunches up and he reaches out, suddenly, grabs the koi painting with the hand not curled around Stiles’ shoulder, shoves it in the cart next to the leaf-patterned throw rug. “There are a lot of people.”
“There are like fifteen people in the entire store,” Stiles counters before he can stop himself; he hadn’t even noticed Derek had been relaxing until he tenses again under Stiles’ hand. “Though I guess, when you’re used to way fewer people, that could be, hmmm,” he finishes, unhappy with himself for not figuring it out sooner, that Derek probably hasn’t been in a store like this since before the fire, when he could be surrounded by family and pack.
“It’s fine,” Derek half-snaps, but he doesn’t move, not even to put a little distance between them. In fact, Stiles is pretty sure the hand on his shoulder tightens a little, drawing him closer.
“Yeah, buddy.” Because it is. Stiles has got this. He loops his other arm around Derek’s front, so he’s sort of sideways hugging a werewolf in the home decorating section of Target, who wants to make something of it? Derek lets out a little huff—puff, blow your house down, Stiles’ brain finishes unhelpfully—against the top of Stiles head, which he’s tucked closer with the encouragement of Derek’s arm at the back of his neck.
The first times always suck. First time Stiles walked into Fred Meyer after his mom died he had to walk right back out again. It seemed impossible that she was never going to drag him down the school supply aisle again.
Derek breathes out, and a substantial chunk of his tension goes with it. He was never going to wolf-out—Derek has iron control, even on the full moon—but Stiles could swear he feels the wolf settle a little, lithe and powerful and dangerous and still willing to take comfort in someone as unimpressive as Stiles.
Derek turns his head and nuzzles him, just a brief brush of his nose and the curve of his mouth against Stiles’ face. It’s pretty darn casual, considering they’re all-but cuddling—no, scratch that, they are cuddling, right here, where everyone could see, and Derek doesn’t seem to think it’s unusual in the slightest.
Stiles has to kiss him, even if it’s just a little one. Derek looks more startled by the press of Stiles’ mouth than anything else that’s happened in the last few minutes, and Stiles grins.
“Can we hit up the pet aisle on our way to canned goods? Because seriously, I’ve been stockpiling the chew toy jokes, I promise, there are some really stellar ones in—“
Derek kisses him, probably to shut him up; Stiles really isn’t complaining. Especially not when his werewolf boyfriend growls a little into his mouth and slips a hand down to the small of his back when Stiles shivers in appreciation, and Mrs. Dougal gives a little scandalized hiccup and starts motoring away. It’s Stiles’ first time making out in a grocery store and hey, what do you know, not all firsts are bad.