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the fox and the wolf

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Stiles was four years old when he first became aware of Derek Hale.

Stiles' mom was pushing him on one of the kiddie swings on the playground at the park when Stiles noticed some older kids, older than Stiles, anyway, a boy and a girl, playing on the big-kid swings that Stiles wasn't allowed on yet. Stiles could hear them arguing about who could swing higher, and who would go further if they jumped off.

Without warning, the girl said, "Go!" At the apex of her swing she jumped off, with the boy soon following her.

"Derek, Laura," came a disapproving voice from a nearby bench.

Stiles looked away from the two kids, who he now had names for, and looked at the woman who he thought must be their mother. She was pretty, with long dark hair, and she held a young girl who looked to be about Stiles' age on her lap. The girl saw Stiles looking at her and she made a face at him.

He looked away from the girl and studied the woman sharing the bench with them. She appeared to be older than the other woman, but Stiles didn't think it was the younger woman’s mother because they didn’t look alike. (Not that they had to. Stiles looked more like his mom, which his dad said was a good thing because she was the better looking of the two, and his mom would just laugh and swat at his dad and tell him to stop, which Stiles didn’t understand.)

When he looked back at the two kids, Derek looked abashed at his mother's admonishment, but Laura grinned as if they hadn’t just been reprimanded. She shoved Derek and bragged, "I jumped further than you!"

"That's because you cheated," Derek said.

"Do over?" Laura said, sounding excited.

"No do-overs," their mother said dryly.

The girl in her lap poked her and the woman glanced in their direction. Stiles felt like squirming because he'd been caught staring (which Mrs. Jenkins had told him was rude), but the woman just raised her hand and offered a polite wave in greeting. Stiles' mom waved back, but showed no sign of wanting to join the other women on the bench.

"Who are they?" Stiles asked.

"Those are the Hales," his mom told him.

"Can I play with them?"

It sounded as if the little girl, who hadn't taken her eyes off of Stiles, growled at that.

"No, kochanie," Stiles' mom said gently.

"Why not?" Stiles tilted his head back to look up at his mother. She bent down and pressed a kiss to the tip of his nose. Stiles giggled, because it tickled.

"Because wolves and foxes tend to not get along," his mother said.

Wolves, Stiles thought. That explained the growl he'd thought he heard, but . . . "Why not?"

"That's just the way it's always been, kotek. Come, it's almost time to meet your father for lunch."

Stiles' mom waited patiently for him to slide out of the swing without help, then took his hand. As they walked towards the Sheriff Department where his dad was a very important man – a *deputy* – Stiles looked back over his shoulder. The boy, Derek, was watching them leave, but he looked away when his sister said something to him.

Derek Hale, Stiles thought, and then, wolves! A shiver of anticipation ran through his tiny body.

~*~

Stiles was six years old and he'd just fallen off the monkey bars while trying to impress his new friend Scott, the next time he saw Derek Hale.

Stiles closed his eyes and groaned. It didn't hurt, exactly. Stiles had fallen further than that when he’d tried to climb the big, old tree in their backyard, and besides, he'd landed on a bunch of rubber pieces, like someone had shredded a tire, but the fall had knocked the wind out of him. Mostly, though, he was embarrassed. Someone leaned over him and blocked the sunlight.

"Hey, are you alright?" said a worried voice that tugged at his memory.

Stiles squeezed his eyes closed tight and wished the ground would open up and swallow him (then immediately took it back because his mom had once told him that wishes had power).

"Hey, Stiles," the voice said gently. "I know you're awake. I need you to open your eyes and talk to me so I know you’re alright."

Stiles' eyes snapped open. With his face so close, and his head blocking the light, it took Stiles a moment to recognize Derek Hale. "How'd you know my name?" he asked, surprise taking precedence over everything else.

Derek looked guilty, but Stiles didn't know what for. "I know a lot of people's names," he said, but it sounded off. "Are you okay?"

Reminded of the fall, Stiles winced. "Did everyone see?"

"Oh, yeah," Derek said, smiling. "It was a pretty spectacular fall. I'd give it an 8."

"An 8!" Stiles said, distracted from his embarrassment. "You just said it was spectacular!"

"It was," Derek said. "But your form could use some work."

Stiles sputtered, "My form?"

Before Derek could respond, one of the aides hurried over to see if Stiles was alright, prattling on about taking him to see the school nurse without giving Stiles a chance to reply. She helped Stiles to his feet and he looked around for Derek, but he’d already disappeared. Stiles was disappointed, but he caught sight of Scott and grinned.

"Dude, did you see that!"

Scott, brown eyes open wide, inhaler clutched in his hand, nodded.

~*~

Stiles was eight years old the first time his mother forgot his name, the first time she snapped at him for not doing something she hadn't even asked him to do, the first time she and his dad came home from a doctor visit with fake smiles and false assurances that she would be fine and that Stiles shouldn't worry.

Stiles knew that there was something wrong with his mother, thought maybe there was something wrong with him because she seemed worse when he was around. So he folded his favorite blanket into the bottom of his back pack. He added a change of clothes, the book his mother used to read with him when he was younger, and two cans of soda, a bag of cheese doodles, and a box of poptarts that he'd smuggled out of the kitchen.

When his mom laid down for her afternoon nap, Stiles ran away into the Preserve. He had to carry his pillow because it wouldn't fit into his pack, but he couldn't leave home without it. He'd been to the Preserve plenty of times before, so he wasn't scared. An hour later Stiles came to the conclusion that the forest noises didn't sound quite so friendly when he wasn't walking the trails with his parents, or running on four paws with his mom.

Still, he couldn't return home; he had no choice but to push on, and so Stiles kept moving deeper into the Preserve. A few minutes later he regretted that decision when he came face to muzzle with a big-to-him black wolf and was so startled that he nearly peed his pants. The wolf just looked at him, though, as if it didn't want to do anything to frighten Stiles further.

After a moment, the wolf turned and trotted off. Stiles found his tongue, and, more afraid of being alone than being wrong, called out, "Derek?"

The wolf took a few more steps, as if it hadn't heard, then stopped and slowly turned back around.

"Derek? It's me, Stiles."

Stiles wasn't sure, because very little sunlight filtered through the leaves down to where he was standing, but he thought that the wolf rolled its eyes. The wolf took a few steps closer, then gave the pillow in Stiles' arms a pointed look.

Stiles squeezed the pillow tighter. "I'm running away," he said, putting as much bravery as he could muster into the declaration.

Derek – at least, Stiles was pretty sure it was Derek – sat down in the middle of the trail. It appeared to Stiles as if he was inviting Stiles to talk about it. Stiles didn't really want to talk about it, but he found himself saying, "My mom's sick, and I think it's my fault."

Stiles didn't realize that he'd closed his eyes against the tears burning them until a cold nose touched his face and a rough tongue swiped at the path the tears had left on his cheek. Eyes still closed, Stiles flung an arm around Derek's neck and clung to him nearly as tightly as he hugged the pillow.

Derek didn't say anything, not that he could, but Stiles found it easy to spill his deepest fears about his mother's illness into Derek's fur. Derek let Stiles talk until he was all talked out, and he let Stiles cry until there weren't any tears left. At some point they ended up on the ground, Derek curled around Stiles and his pack, both of them sharing the pillow.

Derek didn't make Stiles move until it began to grow darker. Instead of leading him deeper into the Preserve, Derek turned Stiles towards home. Stiles clutched the pillow, absently brushing off leaves and pine needles as he stared back the way he'd come.

Derek nudged Stiles' hip with his head. Stiles buried his hand in Derek's fur. "Come with me?" he asked, breathless at the thought of returning home and admitting that he'd run away, of explaining that he might be the reason his mom was so sick . . . afraid that they might realize Stiles was right and send him away.

Stiles trudged along the trail, his steps slowing the closer he got to home. Derek let Stiles walk at his own pace even though he probably had other things to do and might get in trouble for being out so late.

Stiles' mom was standing at the edge of the yard when he emerged from the trees. "Stiles!" she said, her voice heavy with relief.

She noted the wolf at his side, but ignored him to pull Stiles into her arms and hug him so tight it almost hurt. "I was worried about you," his mom said as she stroked Stiles' face and pushed his bangs back out of his eyes. "Are you alright, kochanie?"

Stiles nodded, then realized that he still held onto Derek. "This is Derek," he said. "He made me come home."

"Thank you, Derek," Stiles' mom said, the words heartfelt. She looked back at Stiles. "It's late; Derek probably has to get home, too. Why don't you let him go so we can talk."

Stiles reluctantly uncurled his fingers. Derek bumped his shoulder into Stiles, knocking him off-balance, then made a little noise that sounded like he was laughing at him. Stiles caught himself and glared at the spot where Derek had stood, but Derek had already disappeared into the shadows.

"Stiles, why did you run away?" his mom asked gently.

"Because it's my fault you're sick," Stiles said.

"Oh, kochanie, no," Stiles' mom said. She pulled him into another hug and kissed the top of his head. "No."

That night Stiles' parents sat him down and explained to him about Frontotemporal Dementia.

~*~

Stiles was ten years old the day he found out that the disease his mother had was going to kill her.

His mom was getting worse, but she and his dad both continued to pretend that she wasn't. Stiles wanted to talk to his dad about it, but if he wasn't working he was sitting beside his mother, her hand held tenderly in his, or he had a tumbler of scotch in his hand and Stiles knew without asking that his dad's thoughts were as dark as his own at those times.

One day he used the computer at the library to look up Frontotemporal Dementia. He was shocked, not at the diagnosis, because he'd known that his mother wasn't getting better, but because both of his parents had lied to him. Angry and hurt, Stiles ran all the way home.

His mom was in the kitchen chopping vegetables for a salad when Stiles slammed into the house. She smiled at him. "Stiles! I thought you were at the library with Scott."

"You're going to die!" Stiles yelled.

His mom's hands stilled and the smile slipped off her face.

"You lied to me!"

It was easier to concentrate on the lie than to think about the fact that his mother was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. His mom set aside the knife.

"I wanted to enjoy the time I had left with you, not think about it ending. I'm sorry you found out like this, Stiles."

Stiles wanted to yell, to scream, to rage against the inevitable, but he couldn't even breathe.

His mom looked worried as she came around the island and reached for him. "Stiles?"

Stiles realized that he was having a panic attack. He'd started getting them after his mom got sick. He took a step back from his mom and noted with a detachment borne of lack of oxygen the expression of hurt that flitted across her face. His panic induced the shift. After a moment of confused terror at being trapped inside his own clothes, Stiles escaped them and scrambled for the back door. His mom's voice followed him, but he couldn't make out the words over the sound of his own heart beating a loud staccato in his ears.

Stiles aimed towards the Preserve and his paws beat down the now familiar trail. Since the time he'd tried to run away, Stiles had spent a lot of time in the woods. Sometimes he walked the trails alone, other times Derek padded at his side. Stiles didn't know how, but Derek always seemed to show up when Stiles needed him most. He was silent except for a few huffs or barks, but he was a solid presence and he let Stiles ramble on about his mom, or school, or Scott, and he let Stiles hold him and cry into his fur.

Stiles wasn't surprised that not long after his headlong flight into the Preserve, Derek showed up. Derek didn't try to stop him, just ran alongside Stiles until he slowed, then eventually stopped. They were both panting with the effort of their long run, and so Derek led Stiles to a stream where they both drank before flopping down on the bank to catch their breath.

Derek didn't ask, but Stiles saw the question in his eyes, the worry, the 'what happened?' My mom's dying! Stiles raged inside. She's dying! The fact that he couldn't put voice to his feelings made Stiles even more angry. He let out a series of yips, and then scream-howled his helplessness and anguish at the sky.

Derek waited until Stiles was spent to approach him. He wrapped himself around Stiles' smaller form, and, despite his protests about always being the little spoon, Stiles let him. Exhausted from the waves of emotions and his dash through the Preserve, Stiles fell asleep. He didn't know how much later it was when he blinked awake to the noises of the forest filtering into his brain. And something else. Two voices, female.

Stiles honed in on the two women sitting a few paces away from where he was tangled up with Derek and talking in low voices, as if they didn't want to disturb them. Derek's mom was speaking.

"Your fox can't heal from this . . . ?"

"Frontotemporal Dementia," Stiles' mom said, and sadly shook her head. "We've seen a few . . . specialists; they don't think it's physical."

"Magic?" Derek's mom said, not sounding as surprised as Stiles thought she should, because magic?

When Stiles' mom nodded, Derek's mom said, "Perhaps our Emissary could . . ."

"We've looked into it," Stiles' mom said. "We’ve done nothing but for the past two years . . ."

"Maybe another set of eyes would help," Derek's mom said.

"Perhaps," Stiles' mom said, but she didn't sound like she thought it would do any good. She glanced over at where Stiles lay. "The thing I hate most is the idea of leaving him all alone."

Stiles made a wounded sound, and Derek blanketed him as if he could protect Stiles from the inevitable pain of losing his mom.

"He won't be alone," Derek's mom said gently, glancing over at the two of them lying on the bank of the stream. "And we'll watch out for him."

Derek huffed his agreement into Stiles' ear.

Stiles' mom reached up and swiped a way a tear before it could make its way down her cheek. "Thank you," she said.

~*~

Stiles was eleven years old when he and Derek had their first fight.

Ever since that day in the woods, Stiles and Derek had started spending more time together outside the Preserve and while they were both in their human form. They watched movies (sometimes Laura and Cora joined them, though Stiles preferred it when they didn’t and he wasn’t ashamed to admit that he was still a little bit afraid of Cora), or played video games, or did their homework.

Occasionally Stiles’ mom would joined him at the Hale house, and she and Derek’s mom would sit on the back porch and talk in low voices while Stiles hung out with Derek. Near the end, Derek had kept Stiles company at the hospital, and he’d stood beside Stiles while they lowered his mom’s body into the ground, and sometimes he went with Stiles to the cemetery so Stiles could visit with his mom.

And sometimes, like today, Derek came over to keep Stiles company when his dad had to work late. They were going to play the new video game that Stiles had gotten for Christmas, and Stiles already had it loaded into the player. He also had chips and drinks set out.

Usually it made Stiles chuckle when he thought about the first time he and Derek had played video games (”Do you play video games?” Stiles had asked. “Of course I play video games. What, you think I was raised by wolves?” Derek had replied, and they’d laughed raucously.), but today Derek was late and Stiles was getting worried.

Stiles called Derek’s cell, but it went to voice mail, which made him even more worried, so he called the house. Mrs. Hale told Stiles that Derek had gone out to a movie with some of his teammates from the basketball team. Stiles tried to play it off as if he’d just forgotten, and not let on that he was devastated that Derek had blown him off, but she seemed to sense that something was wrong anyway.

Derek showed up the next afternoon without a mention of the fact that he was a day late or of the missed call on his phone. Stiles opened the door, but instead of letting Derek in, he stood in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest.

“What are you doing here?” Stiles asked, trying to make it sound as if he didn’t care.

“Video games,” Derek said, as if Stiles was the wacko for forgetting. “And I brought you something.”

“That was yesterday,” Stiles said, as Derek pulled a couple packages of Reese’s peanut butter cups out of the bag he carried.

“What?” Derek said.

“Our plans,” Stiles said, trying not to let the Reese’s cups influence his plan to never forgive Derek. “To play video games. Yesterday.”

“No, today,” Derek said.

“Yesterday.”

“No, today,” Derek said again, “because yesterday I . . . Oh.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “I waited for you. And I got worried when you were late, so I tried to call you, but you didn’t answer your phone, and you didn’t call me back, so I called the house.”

“Stiles, I . . .”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stiles said. “You’re a junior now, and on the Varsity basketball team, so I can see why you’d think that was more important.”

“I don’t think that’s more important,” Derek said. “Stop putting words in my mouth. I honestly thought our plans were for today. Stiles, I would’ve called you if I had to change our plans, I wouldn’t have made you worry on purpose.”

“I’d understand,” Stiles said slowly, forcing the words out of a throat that felt like it was closing up, “if you’d rather spend time with . . . with kids your own age.”

Derek wanting to spend time with people who weren’t Stiles was one of his worst fears. He could still hear his mother yelling at him during one of her less lucid periods, Don’t you think I have better things to do than take care of you, you little brat! And it didn’t always help knowing that his mother would never say those things to him if she wasn’t sick.

“I don’t,” Derek said earnestly. “I’d rather spend time with you. I’m sorry I got the date wrong. I’m sorry I made you worry and that I didn’t call you back.”

Stiles ducked his head. “I wasn’t that worried.”

Derek gave Stiles’ arm a gentle shove. “Yes, you were. I would’ve been.” He shook the bag at Stiles. “Will you please forgive me?”

The thing was, Stiles didn’t want to stay mad at Derek because it felt awful, and Derek had apologized, and he’d even brought Reese’s cups, which he knew were Stiles’ favorite. Stiles snatched the bag out of Derek’s hand and stepped back to let him enter. “The Reese’s cups are a good start,” he said, “but you’re still in the dog house.”

Derek rolled his eyes as he stepped past Stiles and into the house, but Stiles could hear the relief in his voice when he said, “Dog jokes, how original.”

Stiles grinned. Derek’s reaction to his dog jokes never got old.

~*~

Stiles was twelve years old when it fully hit him that Derek was going to leave Beacon Hills.

He sat with the Hales at the graduation ceremony and went out to dinner with them afterwards. Derek was going to have an actual graduation party later in the summer that Stiles was also invited to, but tonight it was just family.

After dinner, Stiles and Derek lay on the back lawn of the Hale house and looked up at the stars. Stiles would point out a constellation, and Derek would tell him the story behind it, because Derek was a big nerd and liked stuff like that, but tonight Stiles couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.

“You’re leaving,” Stiles said.

Derek had talked to Stiles about the colleges he was going to apply to, and the ones that had sent him acceptance letters, but it wasn’t until now, when there was less than two months before Derek would be leaving that Stiles realized what it meant.

“Yeah,” Derek said softly. “But I’m not going far. You can come visit me.”

Stiles snorted. “That won’t look strange at all.”

“I’ll come home all the time.”

“You’ll need to study.”

“We can study together,” Derek said. “Like we do now. And we can Skype.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “But it won’t be the same.”

“No,” Derek agreed. “For one thing, I won’t be here to keep you out of trouble.”

“Hey! I don’t get into trouble!”

Derek raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“Much,” Stiles qualified, and they both laughed.

They fell quiet for a few moments until Derek nudged Stiles. “Didn’t you say that Scott was moving back to Beacon Hills to live with his mom?”

Stiles shrugged. “Maybe.”

“I could always ask Cora to keep an eye on you,” Derek teased.

“No, thanks,” Stiles said. “I like my balls right where they are.”

Derek choked. “What?”

“I heard Peter say it.”

“Jesus. You should know better than to repeat anything Peter says. Especially if it’s about Cora anywhere she might be able to hear you.”

“True.” Cora was tough, and not just because she was a werewolf. In Junior High, she was already the first girl on the lacrosse team. “Promise you won’t forget me,” Stiles said, sounding needier than he wanted to.

Derek raised his hand. “Pinky promise.”

Stiles hooked his pinky with Derek’s, and Derek used his pinky to tug on Stiles’ hand. “Promise you won’t forget me, either.”

Stiles snorted. “Like there’s any chance of that happening.”

Derek smiled at that, shy and happy, and Stiles felt a stab of pleasure that he’d been the one to put that smile on Derek’s face.

~*~

Stiles was fourteen years old when he realized that, while Lydia Martin would always be his goddess, the woman whose brain he worshiped from afar, he might also like guys. That way. Or a guy. Namely, one Derek Hale.

Derek was home for the summer after his sophomore year at college and it wasn’t as if Stiles didn’t know that Derek was good looking – he might be a self-involved teenager, but he wasn’t blind – but he’d never noticed before, not like he noticed now. And it kind of freaked him out a little bit. Derek was his friend. Stiles didn’t think it was copacetic – or hunky dory, or peachy keen – oh god, sometimes Stiles hated his brain – to have those kinds of thoughts about your friend.

“What’s wrong?” Derek said, jerking Stiles out of his (inappropriate, very inappropriate) train of thought.

“What? Nothing! Why?”

Derek raised his eyebrow. (Stiles thought it was unfair that Derek could do that and not look like a maniacal serial killer, while Stiles . . . well.)

“I just, I was, are those muscles new?”

Derek blushed as he pulled a t-shirt on and covered up said muscles. “Yeah. I’ve started lifting weights, and running, and stuff.”

“Why?” Stiles said. Thankfully it sounded like a normal question when it came out of his mouth, because inside his head it was more like a whine of, Whyyyy would you do this to me?

Derek shrugged. “There are a lot of parties at college, and I can’t get drunk so I’d usually end up carrying drunk people back to their rooms. It got old quickly. So I decided to go to the gym instead of to parties. Besides, I wanted to look good,” he mumbled.

“You already looked good,” Stiles said without thinking, then realized what Derek had said. “Wait, did you do this for someone in particular?”

“No,” Derek said, but it sounded like a lie.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” Stiles pushed.

“No!” Derek said, and this time it was the complete truth.

“A boyfriend?” Stiles said.

“No,” Derek said. It wasn’t a lie, but Stiles thought it wasn’t quite the whole truth, either.

Stiles felt guilty about it, and like a horrible, horrible friend, but he spent a lot of time that summer jerking off to the image of Derek taking off his t-shirt.

~*~

Stiles was sixteen years old when he had his first kiss.

He was warming up on the lacrosse field when Scott nudged him and pointed towards the sideline. Stiles almost tripped over his stick when he saw Derek (wearing the leather jacket that had started showing up in an awful lot of Stiles’ fantasies), striding towards the bleachers. He cut out of the line for warm ups and ran over to meet Derek, worry churning in his gut.

“Hey, Derek,” Stiles said, breathless from both exertion and worry.

Derek’s gaze moved over Stiles in his uniform. “Hey.”

Stiles pulled off his helmet. “What’s wrong?”

“What?”

“Derek, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong.”

“Noth–, then what are you doing here? Please tell me that you did not get kicked out of school in your last semester.”

Derek’s eyebrow went up. “I didn’t get kicked out of school, Stiles,” he said dryly.

“Okay, good. Then why are you back already? You just went back to school a couple of weeks ago.”

“It’s your first game,” Derek said.

“It’s . . . what?”

“Your first game,” Derek repeated.

“You drove all the way back to Beacon Hills on a week day when you have class the next morning because it’s our first game,” Stiles said, just to make sure he had it right.

Your first game,” Derek corrected. “And yes.”

“You came to see me play?” Stiles said. “You do know that I’m going to spend most of the time on the bench, right?”

Before Derek could reply, Cora yelled, “Get a move on, Stilinski!”

Cora was team captain – Stiles was pretty sure she might’ve declared herself captain and everyone else was afraid to dispute it – and she took her role very seriously. Even Jackson did what she told him to. She jogged over to the sideline and said, “Get out there and warm-up. You can make out with your boyfriend later.”

Stiles was mortified that Cora might somehow have figured out that Derek starred in his masturbatory fantasies, and that Stiles might be harboring a teensy weensy little crush on him. He wasn’t sure what expression he expected to find on Derek’s face when he could bring himself to look, but it wasn’t resigned embarrassment and determination. Derek gave Cora an annoyed look, but he didn’t deny what she had said.

“Wait,” Stiles said, afraid that he might be reading things really, really wrong. “Is that a thing that could actually happen?”

“Not if you don’t get your ass back out on that field,” Cora said.

Derek didn’t say anything, just looked at Stiles. Cora grabbed the back of Stiles’ jersey and dragged him back out onto the field. Derek hooked a finger towards the bleachers. “I’ll just . . .”

“Really?” Stiles said.

Cora sighed. “You are such an idiot.”

“How is this my fault?”

“He’s been pining for you forever!”

“Shut up, Cora,” Stiles heard Derek growl.

“Forever?” Stiles said. “Really?”

Derek blushed, which made Stiles grin because Derek Hale had a thing for him. For him, Stiles Stilinski. “See you after the game, big guy,” Stiles said, knowing that Derek would hear him, and then he pulled his helmet on and turned and ran out onto the field to finish the warm ups.

As he’d expected, Stiles did spend most of the game on the bench. Stiles didn’t care too much – he’d mostly joined the team because Scott wanted to try out and he hadn’t wanted to do so alone – and it was for the best, really, because Stiles’ mind wandered from the game a dangerous number of times. If he’d been out there on the field, he’d have gotten himself clobbered for sure, and probably by Cora for not paying attention.

After the game, Stiles had to wait for Coach Finstock to finish his *Lord of the Rings: Return of the King* speech – or whatever he was quoting this time, Stiles wasn’t really paying attention – before he could run off to find Derek.

When Stiles reached the sideline, Derek was standing stiffly next to Stiles’ dad. “Hey-y-y, Dad,” Stiles said.

“Hey, kiddo,” his dad said. “Look who I found.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “Derek drove back for Cora’s first game, wasn’t that nice?”

“Mmm hmm, yeah, nice. Derek tells me that the two of you are going out for pizza.”

“Yes,” Stiles said, even though he’d had no idea that they were. “But don’t think that means you get to eat unhealthy tonight.”

“Tell you what,” Stiles’ dad said. “I won’t ask you too many questions about your evening, if you don’t ask me about mine.”

Both Stiles and Derek blushed at that.

“He’s got a curfew,” Stiles’ dad reminded Derek.

“Oh my god, Dad,” Stiles said.

“Yes, sir,” Derek said. “I have to drive back to school tonight, so I’ll have him back early.”

“Good.” Stiles’ dad clapped Derek on the shoulder. “Nice seeing you again, Derek.”

Stiles and Derek both watched as Stiles’ dad headed towards his cruiser, stopping to greet people on the way. Stiles wondered if Derek felt as shell-shocked as he did.

Stiles tried to shake it off. “So, pizza?”

“After you get changed,” Derek said.

Stiles saluted, then hurried towards the school. In the locker room, Scott, already changed, was waiting by Stiles’ locker. “Can’t wait for pizza tonight,” Scott said when he saw Stiles, rubbing his hands together eagerly.

“Um . . . ,” Stiles said, his steps faltering.

Scott laughed and punched Stiles in the arm. “Don’t worry, bro, I know you’ve got plans with Derek tonight. I mean, he drove all that way to watch you play.”

“I went in for two minutes so Jackson could get another stick,” Stiles said.

Scott shrugged. “Still.”

“You’re not mad?” Stiles said. “I’ll totally make it up to you,” he added quickly.

“Don’t worry, Cora’s making it up to me on your behalf.”

“Cora?” Stiles said suspiciously. “How?”

“She’s letting me tag along when she meets Lydia and Allison at that new café they like,” Scott said, excitedly.

At one time, Stiles would’ve been so jealous because Lydia was going to be there, but now he just said, “Ahh, the lovely Allison. Where is Cora, by the way?”

Scott’s eyes went wide just before Cora said, “I’m standing right behind you, Stilinski.”

Stiles jumped, his heart hammering in his chest. “You couldn’t have given me a heads up?” he said to Scott.

“Sorry, dude,” Scott said. “I had to promise not to. Besides, you deserved it since you’re blowing me off.”

Stiles winced. “I do. I’m a horrible friend.”

Scott shrugged. “I’d totally blow you off for Allison, so . . .”

“We good?” Stiles said.

“We’re good.”

Stiles shuddered when Cora whispered in his ear, “I’ve got my eyes on you, Stilinski.”

Stiles got changed as quickly as he could, thinking the entire time that Derek was waiting for him, that Derek was taking him out for pizza, that Derek might want to make out with him.

“Your sister scares me,” Stiles told Derek when he met him in the parking lot where Derek was leaning against the Camaro, arms and ankles crossed, bored look on his face as if everyone there was beneath him and he hadn’t just graduated from that very same high school less than four years ago.

“She scares me, too,” Derek said, which made Stiles grin.

“Come on, nothing scares you.”

“Some things do,” Derek said, looking shy and so unlike the image he was projecting right now, with the leather jacket and the sports car.

“Me?” Stiles said. “Would it help if I told you that I’ve been jerking off to you for years now?”

Derek choked. “No,” he said when he could talk, “it really wouldn’t.”

Stiles smirked. “Not even a little bit?”

“You’re sixteen, and I’m twenty-two,” Derek reminded Stiles. “Your father could throw me in jail. Or shoot me. Besides, I promised him we’d wait.”

It was Stiles’ turn to choke. “You talked to my dad about sex?”

“He’s apparently not as oblivious as you are,” Derek said dryly.

“Oh my god!” Stiles said at the idea that his father knew about him and Derek before there was even a him and Derek.

“I thought that game was never going to end,” Derek said fervently, which made Stiles laugh. Pretty soon they were both laughing.

Stiles leaned against the Camaro, his shoulder pushed into Derek’s. “I hope this no-sex conversation you had with my dad didn’t include kissing, because someone promised me a make out session.”

“That was Cora.”

“But I don’t want to kiss Cora.”

“I’m happy to hear it,” Derek said flatly. He straightened. “Let’s go get pizza.” Derek leaned in and dropped a hard kiss to Stiles’ lips before he pushed off the car and moved around to the driver’s side door.

The kiss was over before Stiles had a chance to register it, but even so, the press of Derek’s lips to his, as quick as it had been, had felt like an electric shock. Stiles reached up and pressed his fingers to his lips.

“Get in the car, Stiles,” Derek said as he opened his door.

Stiles glanced at Derek before following his lead and getting into the car. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he looked over at Derek.

“What?” Derek said suspiciously.

Stiles shook his head, but his smile widened. He had a hunch that Skype calls with Derek were about to get a lot more interesting.

The End