When his phone buzzes in his pocket, Derek tenses. When he sees he has a text from Scott he tenses more.
'Come 2 my house @ 7'
Things have been quiet recently and Derek can't imagine what kind of trouble they're in now.
He sees a few of the other pack members' cars outside Scott's house when he gets there. They're all in the living room sitting on the couch and on the floor talking quietly amongst themselves about whatever teenagers prattled on about during times of crisis. He doesn't see Scott so he seats himself in an armchair away from the others and waits.
He hears Stiles coming but there's still a part of him that wants to startle at the sudden hand on his shoulder as Stiles leans down and offers him a soda.
Derek refuses but Stiles hands him the Coke anyway.
"What's got your fur in a knot?" Stiles asks.
"I just want someone to tell me what the hell is going on."
"Scott didn't tell you? Rude." Stiles rolls his eyes, "It's movie night, dude."
"Movie night, you know, watch a few flicks with your bros. I told Scott to text you about it."
Stiles shrugs, "Even big bad alphas like Keira Knightley, and if they don't they have no taste and can get out because they're heathens."
"I like Keira Knightley." Derek says because he's still reeling from the idea that someone contacted him outside a life or death situation and trying to rationalize how generally fucked up that is.
He's securely on unfamiliar ground, he doesn't remember how to deal with people without imminent danger, without blood and panic and loss. He fusses with the tab on his Coke can and he can practically hear Laura whispering "Relax and watch the freaking movie, D. God," quiet enough for only him to hear.
Scott shows up a few minutes later with Allison and several bags of incredibly unhealthy snacks and Derek forces himself to settle.
When Stiles mutters, "Pirates are so better than ninjas," while sprawled out in the floor at Derek's feet, he finds himself returning the offered fist bump with only a slight air of awkwardness.
It keeps happening.
He’ll get a text from one of the pack with a time and a location and when he shows up absolutely no one is dying. They just end up watching movies or playing lacrosse or just generally hanging out. This time they’re bowling and Derek finds it completely ridiculous.
“You’re just mad because you suck.” Erica says as Lydia makes another strike.
“Who said I was mad?” Derek says crossing his arms.
“That’s your mad face,” Isaac says as he breezes past them, toward the arcade.
“Shut up.” Derek says, how can he be expected to be good at something he’s never done? “This isn’t even a real sport.”
“You’re only saying that because you suck.” Erica sing-songs as she gets up to take her turn.
“At least you’re on our team.” Stiles says, falling into the seat beside Derek, holding out a tray of nachos doused in bright yellow cheese toward him. “Lydia’s a freak of bowling nature.”
“Why did you even have me come? I don’t bowl.”
Stiles raises an eyebrow at him, like Derek’s the crazy person licking processed cheese from their fingers, “Pack outing, duh. Besides we need an even number of people.”
Derek gives Stiles a hard look as he tries to puzzle him out. He’s a walking contradiction, constantly bemoaning his frailty yet always rushing headfirst into danger, insulting Derek then inviting him to hang out. He’s unfailingly confusing.
Stiles cocks his head, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
Derek doesn’t have an answer but luckily Boyd nudges him in the shoulder with a quiet, “Your turn, boss.”
He knocks down two pins.
The next outing they drag him along to is a trip to the beach. He’s in the back of Stiles’ jeep because he refused to take his Camaro or ride in Allison’s SUV. His three betas seem similarly inclined as they opted to pile in after him.
“Stiles.” Derek grits out when he recognizes the opening notes coming out of the speakers.
“What?” Stiles says, looking back at Derek in the rear view mirror with a smug grin, “It’s a classic.”
“It’s Duran Duran.” Derek says.
“What’s Duran Duran?” Erica asks beside him.
“Really?” Stiles says.
“Just turn it off before I break your legs.”
“Jesus, fine.” Stiles says and skips the song.
Derek doesn’t know if he’d have preferred “Hungry Like the Wolf” over Stiles and his betas insisting “That’s how Ruff Ryders roll” at the top of their lungs as they head for the coast.
It’s gorgeous out and practically deserted when they get to the beach, thanks to a bit of rain in the area earlier in the day. Everything smells like salt and sun and Derek can’t help but relax. Once they’re unpacked, he heads for the water. He’s missed swimming in the ocean, being surrounded by something far more powerful than him and basking in it.
He finally drags himself from the water and sees a few of them have started up a volleyball game that initially doesn’t seem fair considering Danny’s lack of lycanthropy until Derek realizes Scott’s playing with the handicap of being hopelessly distracted by Allison sunbathing.
“Have a nice doggie paddle?” Stiles asks. He and Lydia are lounging under an umbrella watching the game.
Derek lays down on his stomach on a towel next to them, “You know, the dog jokes never get old.”
“Thanks, I try to keep my material fresh.” Stiles says, “Can you get sunburned?”
Derek pauses, “I don’t know.”
“It’d probably just heal right away, huh?” Stiles says, prodding at Derek’s back experimentally.
Derek hums back noncommittally, starting to drift off as Lydia explains the process of tanning down to a cellular level while Stiles traces along Derek’s tattoo.
He’s woken up later by Erica jostling his shoulder and waving a sandwich in his face.
“Lunch time, grumpy.” She says, dropping the sandwich on his towel once he’s conscious and opening her own bag of chips.
Derek sits up and looks around, blinking the sleep from his eyes. The pack is seated on towels and blankets, Danny and Jackson arguing about basketball, Lydia and Boyd staring judgmentally at a woman in a tacky swimsuit with poor control over her rambunctious toddler. Derek unwraps his sandwich and raises an eyebrow at Scott as he applies sunblock to Stiles’ reddening back. He’s grimacing at Stiles’ skin and looking progressively disturbed at the pleased noises Stiles keeps making as he sucks on an ice cube from the cooler. A trail of water drips off the ice and slides down Stiles’ chin, landing on his collar bone. Something he hasn’t felt in so long it’s almost unfamiliar knots itself in Derek’s stomach.
Derek’s eyes follow Stiles’ hands as he takes the bottle from Scott and rubs lotion into his chest and moves down his torso, along his ribs and across his hipbones. The waistband of Stiles’ shorts stretches lower as he drags his palms across them in an attempt to get rid of the excess sunblock.
“Oh my God.” Erica says, horrified. When everyone turns to stare at her she claps a hand over her mouth.
“What wrong?” Boyd asks.
She shakes her head rapidly, cheeks reddening and blonde hair tossing around her.
“You sure?” Boyd raises an eyebrow.
She nods just as vigorously.
When everyone finally turns away, she catches Derek by the arm and mouths “What the fuck?” at him.
Derek raises his eyebrows like he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Her eyes dart from him to Stiles and back.
He shrugs her hand off and ignores her for the rest of their meal.
Unfortunately, she corners him later while they’re gathering wood for the bonfire. “So?” she says, hands on her hips expectantly.
“So what?” he says, abandoning the pretense of looking for firewood and stopping at the bottom of a sand dune.
“You smelled like you were about to bend Stiles over the hood of his jeep earlier.”
Derek manages not to cringe at her word choice, “Don’t worry about it.”
“Aren’t you kind of old for him?”
“Not too old to keep you from literally throwing yourself at me.” He snaps.
Erica scoffs, “One, that doesn’t even count, I was power tripping and two, I thought you were like 19.”
“It doesn’t matter, nothing’s happening, nothing’s going to happen, so just mind your business.”
Erica smirks, “At least now I know why you threw me off, I’m clearly not your type.” She says before quickly trotting away.
The piece of driftwood in his hands snaps in two with a crack.
The drive home is quiet aside from Stiles humming along to the stereo, but Boyd keeps giving him significant looks through the passenger side mirror and he’s sure if he weren’t asleep against the window, Isaac would be too.
Derek lets it go because it’s not something he needs, he’s been fine on his own and Stiles would just be a distraction. Derek can’t afford distractions, can’t afford things that aren’t completely necessary to his survival, so he lets it go. Stiles isn’t his and Stiles doesn’t want him, so he turns his eyes away when they want to look, pulls his hands off when they touch for too long because Stiles is the last thing he needs right now.
He watches as Boyd leads Stiles through some boxing techniques in the warehouse one day. Since about his fourth kidnapping Stiles has been determined to learn some modicum of proper self-defense. Boyd says something Derek isn’t paying enough attention to catch that sends Stiles into a full body laugh. Derek steadfastly ignores the rock solid weight in the pit of his stomach as Stiles goes back to practicing forms with a grin on his face.
Isaac comes and sits next to him at some point. He doesn’t say anything, just sits and watches with Derek. When Stiles leaves, giving Boyd a ride home, Isaac turns and cocks his head at Derek, leaning his body in that odd way of his, making himself smaller.
Derek nods, signaling him to speak.
“What’s your favorite food?” Isaac says, completely left field from anything Derek could have imagined him saying at the time.
“I don’t know.” Derek says because he doesn’t, food is food as far as he’s concerned.
Isaac purses his lips and looks down at his hands, “I like pancakes.”
“Yeah?” Derek says, not sure what Isaac’s going on about but not wanting to discourage him either way.
He smiles, “I love whenever Boyd cooks breakfast on weekends. He makes the best pancakes I’ve ever had. When I was little we used to go to this diner every year on my birthday and I always got to have a huge stack of chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.”
Derek tries to swallow past the lump in his throat, “Laura liked pasta, when we were kids she’d try to eat it with every meal. Mom used to threaten to take it away to make her behave.”
Isaac laughs, “nothing for you?”
Derek frowns, it’s been a while since he’s thought about the positive parts of his childhood. He remembers their trips up to the lake in the summer, his dad grilling out while Peter told Derek and his cousins ghost stories around the fire pit.
“Cheeseburgers.” He says, “I used to really like cheeseburgers.”
“You don’t anymore?”
Derek shrugs, “I haven’t had one in a while.”
Isaac stands, “That’s too bad,” he says before disappearing into one of the subway cars.
They drag him to Lydia’s refurbished basement to watch the season premiere of some TV show he’s never heard of. He wonders why he’s been invited since it doesn’t look like the whole pack is coming, just Lydia, Allison, Danny and Isaac. When Stiles shows up with bags from In-N-Out he shoots Isaac a look.
The show turns out to be completely idiotic but it’s probably the best burger he’s ever had.
That night he lays on his worn mattress in the dark and lets himself want. Want hands on him that aren’t his own, want a body pressed against him, want Stiles. He wants Stiles on his back, bent over, inside him, on his knees, he wants Stiles every way he can think of. He comes in his fist and tells himself that it’s okay to want as long as he doesn’t have.
The pack meets up in the woods the next day for what’s supposed to be a training session but turns into a glorified game of tag with the humans acting as bait. Armed bait, as Allison passed out crossbows like candy before they took off into the trees, but not dangerous.
“Having fun?” Boyd asks as he runs alongside Derek.
“Something like that,” Derek says, but can’t hide his smile. He veers right almost against his own will and chases after what he realizes is Stiles’ scent, Boyd trailing behind him. They skid to a stop when they find Stiles’ hoodie hanging from a tree branch.
“Oh he’s good.” Boyd says as Derek yanks the hoodie down.
They double back and catch up with Isaac and Erica who are on Danny’s trail.
“You fell for it too?” Isaac asks nodding toward the hoodie in Derek’s hands.
“I wonder why.” Erica says, smug.
“Shut up and track.” Derek grunts and picks up his pace.
Danny gives them a leisurely wave from the rock he’s lying on when they find him, He has his headphones around his neck blasting some obnoxious pop rock song, “You win,” he says, not sounding too broken up about it as he continues to text someone on his phone.
Derek hears a trigger fire and ducks to avoid the arrow slicing through the air where his head used to be. He looks back in the direction it came from and finds Stiles perched in a tree.
“You used Danny as bait so you could catch us?”
Another arrow whizzes past Derek’s face and almost lands in Isaac’s shoulder, but Boyd catches it in time.
“Of course we did,” Lydia says from another tree before climbing down gracefully.
“I mean, it’s not like you didn’t know he was bait,” Stiles says, getting to the ground with less finesse. “We just turned the tables a little. Did you like the music? It was my idea, thought it would distract you from our heartbeats.” Stiles drops his bow once he’s on the ground, dusting his hands off on his pants. He tenses, “Why are you making the hungry fox in a chicken coop face at me?”
Derek smiles, “You’re still bait,” he says before charging.
“Oh come on!” Stiles says, but sprints off in the opposite direction.
Derek can catch him easily, but he lets Stiles keep a small lead, enjoying the chase. Stiles’ pace lags as he starts to run out of breath and Derek goes in for the kill, tackling him into a pile of leaves.
“Holy God.” Stiles groans out, “nice job picking the weakest antelope from the herd.”
“You are pretty weak huh?” Derek says, both enjoying and trying to ignore the fact that he’s got Stiles under him.
Stiles shrugs beneath him, “At least I’m the smart one.”
“Lydia’s the smart one.” Derek corrects.
“The funny one?” Stiles asks and Derek notices he smells like sweat and cinnamon toothpaste.
Derek raises an eyebrow, “I was thinking the annoying one, but we can go with funny.”
“We will go with funny because whenever you make jokes you sound like a serial killer.”
“I’m a laugh riot,” Derek says completely deadpan.
Stiles blinks up at him for a moment before dissolving into raucous laughter that only picks up when he realizes Derek is laughing too.
“Come on,” Derek stands and offers out a hand. Stiles takes it and Derek pulls him to his feet with a swift tug.
“What, don’t want the kids to know dad knows how to laugh? Will it ruin your stern man of the house routine?”
“I just figured you’d want to get away from an area where it’d be so easy to hide your body.”
“And we’re back to the serial killer thing.”
Derek lets go of Stiles’ hand and shoves him back towards where the rest of the pack is waiting. “Move.”
“You two done making out?” Erica asks when they return.
Derek tenses, but it dissipates when Stiles playfully wraps his arms around Derek’s neck.
“Actually we were just getting started, so if you could give us some privacy?”
“Does that count as incest?” Danny asks.
“Not if no one orgasms.” Stiles says.
Boyd’s jaw drops, “Do I want to know?”
Stiles grins, “Gather round gang, as I tell you the epic tale of Cousin Miguel,” he begins, ushering them back towards the cars.
There’s a heavy silence between Derek and Isaac as they drive away from the woods and back toward the warehouse.
“You like him.” Isaac says, not looking away from the window.
“Yes.” Derek admits, because there’s no point in lying about it.
“I think you should say something.”
“You think you’re not allowed to have anything nice, Derek. You’re scared.” Isaac says, “I know, it’s okay. I’m scared too. I’ve been scared for a long time. Scared of a lot of stuff, you know, and sometimes the only thing that makes me feel better is remembering that it hasn’t always been bad. My dad wasn’t always that bad. Being a wolf isn’t always bad either. I try to focus on the good parts, it makes the bad parts easier to deal with, a little bit less scary. The way I see it, there’s plenty of stuff out there to make you scared or mad or miserable. You’re always gonna feel bad, you can’t escape that, but I think,” Isaac finally looks up at him, “I think that means you should find the stuff that makes you feel good and hold on to it, because when you’re going through all this awful shit, you deserve to feel good. Everyone deserves to feel good.”
Derek doesn’t respond, he just changes his course and parks them outside a diner on the edge of town. Isaac follows him inside without a word. He still doesn’t say anything when Derek asks the waitress to bring them a stack of pancakes and a bacon cheeseburger, but he smiles.
Derek sends Stiles a text. A brief, ‘Be home Friday at 9’ but he can’t seem to loosen his grip on his phone until Stiles sends back a ‘Cool, dad’s on night shift so no need for B&E’.
It’s nerve wracking. He changes his shirt three times while his betas looks on in amusement.
“Do you want help?” Erica asks.
Derek just glares and continues rifling through his foot locker.
“If you did,” Erica says easing closer, “I’d say you should wear this one,” she holds out an army green henley, “It makes your eyes look great.”
Derek takes the shirt, once he has it on he sees Boyd holding a black zip-up sweater, “Less intimidating than the leather,” he explains.
“Thanks.” Derek says.
“No problem, boss,” Boyd claps a hand on his shoulder.
“Good luck,” Erica says sweetly.
Isaac just smiles and gives him a nod.
He tries to calm himself down the entire drive to Stiles’ house and manages a decent job of it by the time he’s waiting outside the front door.
“Wow, you can use a doorbell.” Stiles says in mock awe when he answers the door, “and who says those opposable thumbs are just for show. No kids tonight?” Stiles asks as he leads him inside to the living room.
“No I was,” Derek takes a deep breath through his nose, “I was wondering if you wanted to watch a movie with me or something?”
Stiles raises an eyebrow, “This is a social call?”
“Yes,” Derek says growing frustrated.
“Well I was probably gonna watch something anyway, have a seat,” he gestures toward the couch as he opens the cabinet beneath the television, “You have anything in mind?”
“Whatever you want is fine.” Derek says, sitting on the incredibly soft couch.
“Edward Scissorhands it is.” Stiles says, popping the DVD in and heading to the kitchen. He returns with two cans of soda and a bag of chips, “You could’ve pressed play, I’ve seen this a bunch of times.” He drops the food on the coffee table and starts the movie before dropping down beside Derek.
Derek’s seen the movie before, Laura made him watch it a long time ago, which is good because he’s having trouble focusing on the plot with Stiles and his sweat-cinnamon scent this close. He leans into Stiles’ side and eases a hand onto his knee.
Stiles turns toward him, “Are you trying to seduce me Mr. Hale?”
“Not if you don’t want me to.” Derek says seriously.
Stiles shrugs, “I never really considered the option to be honest. I mean, obviously I’m aware of… all this,” he gestures to Derek’s entire body, “I’m painfully aware of all that, but we’re usually busy running for our lives so some occasional feelings didn’t seem important. Not to mention the fact that until recently, I wasn’t even sure you liked me.”
Derek takes his hand off and looks away from Stiles.
“But,” Stiles says, leaning so he’s in Derek’s line of sight, “You’re really cool when you’re not being an alpha jackass and I may get some very manly butterflies when you do your protective growly thing and again,” Stiles gestures more emphatically at Derek’s body.
“Okay.” Derek says, not sure if this is actually happening.
“Okay,” Stiles echoes, nodding, “So… you wanna make out?”
Derek’s eyes widen at Stiles’ frankness.
“Well, you started it so I’m just gonna—” Stiles palms the back of Derek’s neck and pulls him forward into a kiss. Derek presses back and fists a hand in Stiles’ t-shirt.
“Yeah, no I am definitely down with this,” Stile says when Derek releases his mouth to kiss and nip at his jaw and neck, “You’re awesome, seriously, great idea.”
Derek noses lazily at Stiles’ collar, breathing in his scent, “I like you.” He says softly against the cotton of Stiles’ shirt.
Stiles pull back so he can kiss the corner of Derek’s mouth. “I like you back, dude.”
Derek lays back on the couch, pulling Stiles down on top of him, he buries his face against Stiles’ neck, smiling when he realizes he can keep this.