He’s still beautiful.
Of course he is. Beauty like Derek’s is the kind that will never fade; it’s that rare, magical beauty that through some peculiar and, in Stiles’ never-humble opinion, infuriating grace, seems to get more perfect with each passing day, each moment, as if time itself stood still in awe of his magnificence and wanted only to enhance it, honor it.
That’s how it felt to Stiles at least, during the eight days and seven nights he spent with the most gorgeous man he’s ever been lucky enough to lay his eyes upon, let alone touch, kiss, bring pleasure to, to see in the throes of bliss. Stiles first stumbled in to The Triskele last fall, looking for a bar with good drinks where no one would recognize him, hoping he’d meet someone to spend the night with, his usual habit when on tour, and standing behind the bar in his too-tight black v-neck, thickly-bearded and aggressively muscled, Derek was everything he was looking for and more. Stiles had been enraptured by his bewitching beauty, intrigued by his quiet but sarcastic wit, utterly charmed by the swirling rainbows in his eyes, ever-changing and dazzling in the low, cozy lights. Derek’s hands, big and erotically exquisite, mesmerized him as they moved deftly over the bottles and taps, meeting Stiles’ come-ons with shy grins and devastating flutters of inky lashes.
Derek isn’t the first bartender Stiles has fucked – not by a long shot – and he’s definitely not the first incredibly attractive person he’s hooked up with on the road, but there was something different, something mysterious and compelling about him, something that drew Stiles in, moth to a flame, made his heart pound and his palms sweat; just looking at Derek made his blood sing, made him want in a way he couldn’t remember ever feeling before, spurred on to even greater heights when Derek told him that he was going home for the night and invited Stiles to join him.
And the morning after when he awoke before Derek, Stiles didn’t want to silently crawl out of bed and search for his clothes, much to his confusion. Usually he would haul ass out the door while the guy next to him slept off his hangover, but this time, he wanted to linger. It was just Derek’s epic hotness and the mind-blowing, bone-rattling sex, he had reasoned, clutching at a pillow as he studied Derek’s face. Those sharp, bewildering features were so incredibly gentle in slumber, and somehow gentler still when Derek finally stirred, his gilded-jade eyes flitting open and alighting on Stiles, a tender smile shaping his kiss-swollen lips. Wordlessly, Derek rolled gracefully from the bed and walked naked to the kitchen, carefree and comfortable, like he was quite pleased to wake up next to the guy he brought home from the bar (his bar, Derek had told him, ducking his chin and smiling when he told him that he owned The Triskele with his best friend Boyd).
Stiles watched Derek as he made coffee, his back to him, his skin scattered with purplish smudges in the rough shape of Stiles’ mouth. He had leaned back into the overstuffed pillows and clasped his hands behind his head, his own skin tingling, raw with beardburn, cock beginning to throb as he eyed Derek’s ass and remembered that tight, clenching heat, and decided not to worry anymore about why he wanted to stay.
And somehow just lingering for the day after turned into staying another night, easy and natural, like it made perfect sense, even though they were essentially still strangers. And it went on like that for entirety of his break from the tour, fucking each other breathless all over Derek’s penthouse loft, in every way possible, smoking and laughing when they were too tired to fuck. They spoke only briefly about Stiles’ impending departure date, talked about it as if it were abstract, theoretical, something that didn’t really concern them, consumed as they were with their insatiable lust for each other.
On the eighth morning, reality came crashing back, both of them jarring awake at the rapid knock on Derek’s door at daybreak; it was Lydia, his lifelong best friend and manager, coming to collect him, telling him he had ten minutes to get his ass in the car she had waiting downstairs to take him to the tour bus.
Stiles had no fucking clue how to say goodbye to Derek or how to leave things with him, wasn’t in any headspace to actually try and figure out what their week together meant to him, to Derek, if there was a them. And even if he could…he was in the middle of a relentless eighteenth-month tour, a terrible time to start a relationship…which come on. A relationship with Derek was a ridiculous idea…right? Yeah, they spent a week together, but he didn’t really know this guy…did he?
Stiles stood there by the door, silent, indecision and anxiety mounting with each passing moment, studying Derek’s severe, stoic gaze, his eyes an unfathomable blue-flecked green, expression unscrutable.
It was their first and only moment of awkwardness, and it was unbearable.
So Stiles did what he does best. He pretended he didn’t care, and he left.
Except he didn’t. Not really.
He spent the better part of a year crisscrossing the country, playing increasingly large venues; he met countless new people and looked into dozens of crowds full of the smiling, awed faces of his fans; but no matter where he went, who he met or what he did, how much time passed, no matter how much he drank and smoked and snorted, he couldn’t get over the feeling that part of him was still there in Derek Hale’s loft, standing by the door, paralyzed by uncertainty but wanting more than anything to crawl back into bed with him and stay forever.
His memories of their rendezvous seemed to grow more vivid as time went on rather than fading like every other hookup always had; he often found himself transfixed by sudden rushes of them, bright flashes of recollections that distracted him when he was writing, in interviews and photoshoots, and more than once when he was performing.
But it wasn’t just the clarity of his memories that overtook him, it was the precision with which he could remember – it was the specificity of them, the Derek of them.
Those damned eyes, glittering more than any gemstone when they fluttered open in the rays of the early morning sun, as if they were the source of the light itself; the exact degree and curvature of the tattoo nestled between his sculpted shoulder blades that Stiles had memorized with the tip of his tongue; the timbre of Derek’s laugh, the most beautiful melody he’s ever heard; the way that laughter softened the severity of his features, piercing eyes going gentle with tender creases at the corners, the elegant architecture of his jaw and cheekbones framing that magnificent smile, wide and glowing, unfurling blossoms of warmth from Stiles’ chest; brawny, hairy forearms scooping him and throwing him over his shoulder to carry him to the shower; the peculiar scrape of Derek’s beard on every last inch of his skin, at once tender and rough, just like his big hands, like the thrusts of his powerful hips when he rode him, head thrown back in ecstasy; the way his mouth clamped hot and wet on the juncture of Stiles’ throat and shoulder the first time he pushed into him; the dense, comforting weight of his sex-dense body encompassing his as he fell asleep, still buried deep.
As Stiles traversed the country, he found himself utterly uninterested in hooking up with anyone else, even though that was once one of his favorite things about touring, the ease with which he could get casual, no-strings-attached sex. At first, he rationalized it: he had spent seven nights fucking and getting fucked, he and Derek unable to keep their hands off each other from the very first moment they had touched when Derek led him out the backdoor of the bar to his Camaro. After that sexathon, he needed some time to recover, right? And fuck knows he was more than sated.
But before he knew it, nearly six months had passed and he hadn’t gone looking, had become well-practiced at politely turning down the many offers that came his way in favor of staying in his bunk on the bus or hotel room, writing and reading, having empty, unsatisfying orgasms by himself.
Lydia said something about it once, not to pry or pressure, just let him know, in that uncanny of way of hers that she’s always had, that she noticed and, even more importantly, understood. Stiles declined to talk to her about it, but the next night after his show in Albuquerque, he steeled himself with a fifth of bourbon and half a joint and the next thing he knew he was being pushed against his hotel room door by a blurry-looking blonde woman he vaguely remembered meeting at the hotel bar. He felt nothing as she writhed against him; he kept his watery eyes open when she kissed him, failed to stir to her touch. Blaming the booze, he gently removed her hand from his groin and escorted her out, put her in a cab and made sure to pay the driver plenty before stumbling back up to his room to pass out, hoping he wouldn’t dream of green eyes and shy smiles.
Three nights later, in Austin, he tried again, this time with a guy who had broad shoulders and a dark beard; they were tucked away in a secluded VIP area at a club, Stiles’ stomach sour from gin and twisting with anxiety. The guy was hot, no doubt about it, and before Derek, Stiles would have thrown himself headfirst into a night of nameless fucking with him. But the stranger’s touch was a cruel tease, a visceral reminder of the shoulders he so desperately wanted to be grasping, the hands he ached to feel on his skin again, the beard that he really wanted worrying the tender skin of his neck. He yearned for Derek’s soft laugh too, and the absurd language of his unruly eyebrows, the way he curled around him at night, warm and comforting, making Stiles feel more at home than he had in years, maybe ever.
Stiles had lurched to his feet and bailed, mumbling excuses, barely able to make it to the side exit before his eyes starting to burn with frustrated tears.
He stopped trying after that.
The ancient elevator taking them up to Derek’s loft barely starts to crawl, but Derek already has him pinned to the back wall, hip-to-hip, chest-to-chest, his kiss an urgent, insistent demand that already has him breathless.
Stiles’ heart is still pounding with relief that Derek had said yes – there had been a moment, when their eyes met again for the first time in almost a year, that Derek’s face, still heartbreakingly lovely, was dark and closed-off, like he wasn’t all that happy to him again. Stiles had been terrified of that very thing as he walked from his downtown hotel to the Triskele in Cap Hill, despite bolstering his courage with two shots of whiskey and a joint. But he slipped into his well-practiced, awkward-but-cocky-charm persona as he slipped into the bar, unable to stop himself from immediately searching the crowded room.
“Fuck, Stiles,” Derek moans, quiet but urgent, his breath hot and wet on his neck, sending a frisson of electric pleasure up and down his spine as the elevator lurches to a creaking halt. Derek dips down to seize Stiles by the back of the thighs and pulls his legs up around his waist, spins around and strides out of the elevator, carrying him as if he weighs nothing at all, but it doesn’t make Stiles feel weightless. After a year of feeling like a ghost haunting his own body, months of the touch of others making him feel hollow and empty, Derek’s makes him feel solid, substantial, real.
Body lighting up with desire and want in a way it hasn’t since the last time he was in Derek’s arms, Stiles gives in completely, matches Derek’s eager kisses with his own, grasping and grabbing at his shoulders, his neck, holding on to him for dear life. They get through the door in a rush and tangle of limbs and clothes, undressing each other clumsily, kissing feverishly as they fall, naked, onto the unmade bed. Derek is a rolling wave of sinuous heat on top of him, muttering all the things he wants to do him into his flushing skin as he nuzzles down his throat, suckles at his Adam’s apple, his collarbones, rubs his beard across his chest. Stiles twists his fingers into his hair, much longer than it was before, onyx and shiny and heartbreakingly soft, small tendrils curling at the back of his neck.
It’s a heady thing, Derek being real again, a memory no more, tangible and firm; it overtakes him, all of his senses, with the visceral intensity his dreams and recollections could never achieve, as all-consuming as they were. Derek, quiet now except for the appreciative moans rumbling from his chest as he works his way down his torso, his tongue a searing flame on his skin, across his stomach, along the line of hair under his navel. Stiles is overwhelmed, and his heart racing even faster, too fast, his body throbbing, his skin too tight, his chest starting to ache.
His touch, as yearned for and anchoring as it is, also jolts Stiles into acknowledging the truth that he’s been avoiding for a year: he’s utterly and completely in love with Derek, and has been since the first morning he woke up next to him.
Sour panic creeps through his chest, and Stiles wishes he hadn’t been so stupid, so scared, hates himself for running out on Derek the way he did, without leaving a phone number or asking if he wanted to stay in touch. Fuck, Derek should have kicked him out his bar tonight and told him to fuck off for he way he left things.
But instead, Derek brought him home again, eagerly, and Stiles can’t fathom why.
“Derek,” he pants, tugging on his hair. He grunts in response and keeps at his task, sucking a bruise over on his hipbone. “Derek, hey, look at me. Please.” There’s an edge of pleading in his voice that he hopes Derek is too distracted to hear; either way it doesn’t matter, because he ignores his request and continues working his wet mouth towards Stiles’ cock, which is still traitorously hard, utterly indifferent to his emotional crisis.
Stiles realizes then, at this strange refusal, that Derek has hardly looked at him all night. His gaze, wide-eyed and bright, bored into him when they first saw each other again, and didn’t seem to leave his face the entire time they were in the bar; but as soon they were out the door, Derek pulled him into a hard kiss as they walked to his car and then again as soon as they parked behind his building, and never took his eyes off the road as he drove them here.
Everything else about his demeanor is exactly as Stiles remembers, his passion for him the same, more even, but for this one small difference that means everything and that suddenly feels like a knife to the gut.
Stiles tugs on his hair, demanding this time. “Derek, why won’t you look at me?”
Derek stills at once, body going rigid above him, his mouth leaving Stiles’ skin for the first time since they got out of the car. Finally, he glances up at him, eyes dark and gaze severe. Before Stiles can even begin to decipher what that look might mean, Derek darts his eyes away again and rolls off him with quick, harsh movements, sits on the end of the bed with his back to him, leaving Stiles laid out and cold.
Derek’s shoulders are tense, and when he finally speaks there’s a clipped edge to his voice that feels like it’s slivering its way into every single one of the tiny fractures spreading through Stiles’ heart. “I can’t do this,” Derek tells him, twisting the knife in deeper.
Stiles closes his eyes against the hot sting of tears threatening to further embarrass him. “Right,” he says, sitting up, awkwardly sliding towards the edge of the bed, wishing his clothes weren’t scattered all over the expansive loft. “I should have known better than to come back. I just thought…,” he trails off, digging his nails into his palms, needing the small bites of pain to steady his shaking voice. “I don’t know what I thought.” He swallows hard and tries to stand, but he can’t seem to move, can’t seem to do anything but stare anxiously at Derek’s back, willing him to look at him. “I guess it really was just a seven night stand,” he mutters, unable to keep the sadness, the bitterness from his voice, but finally able to force himself off the bed and to his feet.
He spots his pants on the floor near Derek’s feet and steps towards him to pick them up, but Derek stops him by reaching for his hand, fingers circling his wrist, and finally meets his eyes again.
“You’re upset,” he says, more of a question really, his stoic mask finally breaking, those ridiculous eyebrows of his scrunching together in confusion. Now Derek won’t look away from him, eyes widening and darting all over Stiles’ face. It feels endless, this silent moment, Derek looking up at him, searching it seems. Whatever he’s looking for, he must find it, because he stands and steps towards Stiles, pulls him close until they’re face-to-face, his hands coming up to hold Stiles’ shoulders. Derek takes a steadying breath, and Stiles prepares himself for the worst.
“I can’t do this,” he repeats, “because being with you again and then losing you again…I just can’t, Stiles.” His voice breaks a little towards the end, and Stiles stares at him, stunned. Derek’s words echo through him, and now he’s the one searching, eyes tracking all over Derek’s face, as if in the sweep of a cheekbone or the eddy of his beard were some clue to help him decipher what Derek’s just said.
“You mean….” Stiles can’t bring himself to ask, is hovering too close to hope to risk it.
Derek leans closer, so close their noses almost touch. “I mean that I want you more than anything, Stiles. But not for just another three days.” He takes another deep breath. “I mean that I love you,” Derek whispers, voice shaking like he’s scared, so quiet Stiles barely hears him.
But it’s loud enough.
The words I love you too get caught in his throat, tangled up with his relief and hope and pure, unfathomable joy, so Stiles tries to say it as best as he can with a kiss, beseeching and earnest, tender and needful, grateful and hungry. Derek’s mouth is soft and warm and pliant, yielding to his easily, like he understands.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles manages to gasp when they finally pull apart, just enough to breathe, foreheads pressed together, his hands clutching on to Derek’s waist. “About how I left…I just, I was scared and confused and fuck, Derek, is this real? Do you really want me?”
His smile is a soft curve that cuts gentle but sure through the wilds of his lush beard. “I do. I haven’t stopped missing you, not once.” Derek cradles his jaw in his big hands, and Stiles shivers and shakes, has to close his eyes at the swell of happiness and affection that overtakes him, because this…this is too much, too perfect, his wildest dreams and fantasies about Derek actually coming true. Derek’s lips are impossibly tender on his mouth, his cheeks, the tip of his nose, his quivering eyelids. “This is real,” he whispers into his temple. “We’re real.”
Stiles’ words come now, a hot torrent of them, rushing out. “Oh my god, Derek…I can’t stop thinking about you… I feel like you’ve been haunting me or I’ve been haunting you….fuck, all I know is that I’ve been all over the goddamned country this year and the whole time I just wanted to be here, with you.” He takes a shuddering breath. “Every song I’ve written in the past year is about you, Derek,” he admits, feeling the relief bubble through him, liberating. “Even the songs I wrote before we met feel like they’re about you now.”
Now Derek seems at a loss for words, the golden threads woven through the greens and blues of his eyes sparkling as he watches Stiles’ face while he makes his confession.
Speechless, Derek kisses him again, and Stiles understands.
This time, when Derek stretches out on top of him, he can’t look away, and Stiles can’t get enough of his loving gaze, can’t stop kissing him. The joy and relief he felt before to be back in Derek’s bed, powerful as it was, pales in comparison to this, to be in Derek’s bed and in his heart.
The strange alchemy that’s always sparked between them is even more powerful now, the easy call and response of their lovemaking more melodic, hypnotic. Derek remembers exactly how Stiles likes to be touched, remembers exactly how to undo him, and seems intent on proving it. First, he brings him off quickly with his hand while sucking a cluster of marks into his neck, murmuring adoration; it’s the first time since the last time Stiles has had another’s hands on him, and he comes fast and hard, panting into Derek’s beard, spilling hot and messy onto his carved abs.
He’s still buzzing with the aftershocks when Derek rolls him to his stomach and licks down his back, bites more marks into the tender skin of his ass and then spreads him, languidly, lovingly, licks and teases, devours him until he comes again, until he’s nearly sobbing with ectasy, utterly dissolving with it by the time Derek finally pushes his generous cock in to him, as deep as he can, wrapping his arms around Stiles’ chest, trembling and gasping into his hair, holding on tight as Stiles rolls his hips up to take him deeper still.
And later, pale moonlight shining in from the skylight, Stiles slides into him, losing himself in his velvet heat, in the way Derek looks up at him, like he’s wondrous, like they’re wondrous, and Stiles collapses on top of him, crying out, grateful for Derek’s steady hands on his back and his whispered, raw words in his ear, telling him again how much he loves him, and Stiles says it too, into his furred chest, against his pounding heart.
Gentle, awestruck eyes tinged with blue sparks of late morning light greet him the next morning when Stiles finally peels his eyes open, emerging from the best rest he’s had in months. “Were you watching me sleep,” he mumbles into Derek’s bicep, which seems to be serving as his pillow, their sweat-and-come-sticky bodies somehow becoming even more intertwined and entangled in sleep.
“Yes,” Derek smiles and runs a finger over his cheek, connecting his moles. He pulls him closer so Stiles is nestled tightly in the nook of his torso and arm, his head now resting on his chest, Derek’s hands soothing and soft on his back, in his hair. “Is that okay?”
“Sure thing, creeper.” Stiles grins, biting softly at his chest until Derek laughs and playfully slaps his ass and tickles his ribs, and then they’re rolling and wrestling and laughing until they nearly fall off the bed.
“I surrender,” Derek says, breathless, letting Stiles straddle him and pin his wrists above his head, looking up at him and grinning hugely, arching up to meet his kiss.
Stiles kisses him until he’s breathless too, sits back up to look at him some more, fingers the waves of his beard. “I missed you so much,” he murmurs, heart racing at the thrill of finally being able to say it out loud. “I don’t want to leave again,” he admits, a pang of regret shooting through him as reality comes intruding in, reminding him that he’s leaving for the European leg of the tour in two days.
“It’s only three months, right?” Derek settles his hands around Stiles’ waist, strong thumbs kneading softly at the knobby bones of his hips. “Three months isn’t that long to do long distance,” he says, dark lashes spreading out in elegant crescents above the sharp planes of his cheeks, his sleep-thick voice quiet and hopeful, like he’s still not sure Stiles wants this, wants him.
Stiles drags the tips of his fingers along Derek’s neck, across his pecs and down his chiseled abs, trying his best to feign contemplation. “It’s not that long, and I know we can make long distance work,” he agrees, unable to stop the grin pulling at the corner of his mouth. “We could do that…or you could just come with me.”
Derek’s eyes snap up to his, wide and stunned, his cheeks flushing with pleasure. “Really? You want me to come with you?”
Stiles leans down to kiss him, delighted. “Always.”
In Europe, Stiles is playing smaller, more intimate shows than he was playing in the States, special VIP shows at boutique venues; it’s exhilarating, being able to be so close to his audience again; he’s reinvigorated by their energy and heartfelt appreciation, and he knows he’s giving the best performances of his career.
Derek can’t come on the tour right away; he’s got to get things situated with Boyd and Erica at the bar, and then sublet his loft, so he joins him ten days later, in Barcelona. His flight from New York is delayed, so he gets to Stiles’ show late, just as he’s being called back out onstage for the encore.
“You made it,” Stiles exclaims, throwing himself into Derek’s arms, not caring that’s he drenched in sweat and dying of thirst and that the crowd is now chanting his name. He’s alive with adrenaline, high from the buzz of putting on a great show, even higher from finally having Derek back in his arms, from knowing that from now on, he always will. “I gotta go,” he says, after pulling him into a long, hungry kiss. “You’re here just in time for the best part,” he adds with a wink before darting back out on stage.
The audience erupts into cheers and applause at the sight of him again, a welcoming, awe-inspiring embrace that warms him almost as much as Derek’s hug, now that Derek, his Derek, is here with him, standing just offstage, looking tired and rumpled and jet-lagged, but smiling at him with that bright look of loving wonder that Stiles knows he’ll never get enough of.
“All right,” he purrs into the mic, fiddling with his acoustic guitar. “This is a brand new song, first time I’ve ever played it for anyone. Something special for you wonderful, beautiful people.” Enamored, the audience cheers and hoots loudly, then hushes with expectation. “And for one beautiful man in particular,” Stiles adds, looking offstage to watch Derek’s cheeks turn adorably pink. He steps back and plucks a few playful chords, settling himself a bit more before he starts, an exciting trill of nerves and happiness tingling up his spine.
Stiles takes a deep breath, eyes still on Derek. “This one’s called ‘Seven Night Stand,'” he says with a smile, and begins to sing.