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Picture my love

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Derek swung by the high school in his deputy car. After shutting the car off, he picked up the radio. "Sheriff, I'm taking personal time. Police car is parked at the school."

"Calendar day again; huh?" John's voice cracked over the two-way.

"Want me to pick you one up one, sir?" Derek asked, sweating slightly. His son worked at the school. Surely the sheriff didn't see this as a ... As anything it wasn't?

"Sure, deputy. See you later."

Derek ran a hand through his hair, took a deep breath, and got out of the car. He hurried his way towards the building. He wanted to make sure he got there early enough that the calendars weren't already sold out, although it probably wasn’t something he needed to worry about. The calendars did well enough but it probably wasn’t likely that they would sell out on the first day.

It wasn't until he caught the third startled look from the parents he passed that he remembered he was still in uniform. He nodded curtly and headed inside. He wanted to comment but what would he say? "I'm just here for the calendars." He didn’t think that would go over very well … And he wasn't sure he wanted everyone to know. It was one thing to support the school with a calendar purchase. It was another to be there the first day they were out.

He reached the office and frowned at the receptionist, a young man in a scarf. He didn’t recognize him.

“Hello, can I help you?” The man said, hunching in his seat.

"Who are you. And where’s Laura?”

“I’m Isaac. Sorry, Laura’s on lunch. Said something about getting a groove on. I think she’s about to ask out a woman from the diner.” Isaac, realizing how much he’d said, ducked his head. “Is there something I could help with?”

“Sorry,” Derek said grumpily. “She’s my sister. Didn’t know she was getting an assistant." Derek cleared his throat before forging on. "I am here to pick up two of the calendars.”

“Sure.” A wide smile blossomed on the man’s face. After another look at Derek, he hummed and made a show of grabbing the box on the floor, placing two brightly-colored cellophaned packages on the desk, before pushing the box back under the desk under with his foot. “$50 please. So, why do you need two?”

“One’s for me.” Derek said absently, as he counted out the cash, “I'm getting John's as well.”

“Oh, right, Stiles’ dad.”

Derek froze, in the midst of handing over the cash he'd pulled from his wallet. He recovered quickly enough and thrust the bills at the man. He could feel his ears get warm.

“Right. Thanks.” Isaac put the money in the cash drawer, nodding at the two calendars. Derek snapped up the calendars and made himself move on to the corner of the office before unwrapping one and flipping the pages.

Five years ago, Stiles had come back from college and gotten the job as the art and drama teacher at Beacon Hills High School. And three years ago, he’d started putting together calendars with the students’ help, as a way to teach them real world art skills. The kids he taught did all of the work, under Stiles’ tutelage, including cover design, set design, photography, blurb, copy editing the info blurbs under each photo, even budgeting and scheduling.

Plus Stiles always posed for at least one of the shots.

Derek had seen the first one hanging in the Sheriff’s office, during a briefing with the Sheriff. Stiles’ had been dressed up as a younger version of Edgar Degas, a splotch of paint on his face and a few more paint spots on his clothes. Completing the picture was a painting of a ballet class in the background.

Derek couldn’t help himself. He’d walked over during a lull in his and John’s conversation. He’d read the blurb about the artist before looking again at the smiling man photographed. There were moles half-covered by the paint splotch, and continuing around his sun-warmed face. He had big brown eyes, a small, upturned nose, and a mischievous look in his eyes.

Derek had been enamored at first sight.

John had coughed then. Derek had looked up, feeling red in the face. John hadn’t said anything, just told him his son was putting out the calendars as a fundraising effort for the art department at the school. He’d warmed up to the topic, telling Derek how Stiles was using the opportunity to teach his class about the artists as they’d set up the shots, or wrote the copy. The kids had jumped on the opportunity to do something more hands on, even those who weren’t as passionate about art.

John had mentioned that he thought the school was still selling some. That night Derek had gone to buy his first Stiles’ calendar.

He and John hadn’t really talked about the calendars since then, even though the Sheriff surely saw that Derek had tacked his calendar on his corkboard at his desk. He had mentioned the next year that Derek should pick up John's calendar as well. That one had been a look back at Shakespeare, with Stiles’ appearing as Puck, complete with elf ears and horns, as well as an amazing makeup job enhancing his devil-may-care smile. The fact that he was wearing what looked like strategically placed leaves on his otherwise naked, mole-dotted chest and a pair of form-fitting shorts had made it Derek’s favorite picture. That calendar, also posted in his cubicle, may have stopped on that particular month a few days longer than necessary.

Last year the calendar had done a review of different kind of dances, everything from figure skating, ballet, tango, ballroom, Native American, bhangra, and hip-hop. Stiles had looked great as a dancer, wearing a white dress shirt, black slacks, suspenders and tap shoes.

Derek couldn’t wait to see what Stiles had done this year. He flipped past the cover, Music Styles splashed over it. He passed a few shots of a brown-haired woman dressed in elegant clothes and standing in front of a painting of the Sydney Opera House. Scott, Stiles’ best friend and the gym teacher at Beacon Hills, was dressed up as Perry Como, the big band singer. A blond woman wearing bright red lipstick was dressed up as the pop singer, Taylor Swift, twirling in a bright red dress. There were other teachers he didn’t recognize as well. But he still hadn’t seen Stiles.

Derek flipped through the calendar again. Two of the pages must have gotten stuck together. That was the only reason he hadn’t seen him.

Derek made it through to December and Stiles still hadn’t shown up.

One more time, Derek flipped through the calendar, trying to find out where Stiles was.

And then it occurred to him.

“Stiles isn’t in here.”

“I’m sorry, Officer. Did you say something?” Isaac looked away from his computer monitor, his brow raising.

“Nothing.” Derek scowled at the calendar. “Thanks,” he said, shoving the calendar under his arm like it had personally offended his mother.

“Is something wrong?”

Derek just turned on his heel and headed out the door, still scowling. People made space for him, as if there was a force field around him.

He returned to the station in as foul a mood as ever. Without a word to the Sheriff, Derek dropped the requested calendar on his desk and sulked back to his own desk, shoving his own calendar into a drawer.

He could hear the Sheriff flip through the calendar and sigh heavily. Then there was the sound of boots approaching Derek’s desk. “So, Stiles wasn't in the calendar? I could have sworn he did the shoot.”

Derek just shrugged, not looking at his boss.

“Want me to ask him?” Derek nodded glumly at his desk monitor, and therefore missed the Sheriff’s grin.

*******

“Hey,” Stiles yelled out to Derek across the police department parking lot. Derek fumbled frantically with his keys.

Did Stiles already know that Derek had a crush on him? Was that why he wanted to talk?

Derek didn’t know how to actually talk to Stiles. He wasn’t nearly as social or outgoing as the other man, whom he had seen around town, always talking animatedly, hands ceaselessly moving. Derek on the other hand could barely talk around his family.

“Hey,” Stiles said again, this time much closer. Before Derek could do more than get his keys into the car door, Stiles had run over, standing in the way of the car door, as if trying to stop Derek from actually getting into his patrol car.

Derek turned stiffly and stared at the other man, brows scrunched together.

“Hi!” Stiles said in reply, waving his hand as if he couldn't see the frown on Derek's face. Derek raised an eyebrow at him, and Stiles blushed. “Sorry. I heard from Isaac that you were unhappy with the calendar. I don’t know if you knew but I designed the calendars. I just wanted to know if there was something wrong with it?”

“Why weren’t you in it?” Derek blurted before he could stop himself. He blushed and looked away. Smooth, Derek. Real smooth.

“Oh.” Stiles said, looking a bit confused. “Um, well… we had some new staff and…”

“That’s not a good enough reason.”

“It is when we voted and I got voted off.” Stiles laughed awkwardly, pushing his glasses back up his nose. “I think everyone thought the calendars were getting stale. Or at least needed some new faces in it. I was happy to step down.” Stiles rubbed the back of his neck, color still riding high on his cheeks. “But did you like the pictures?” He held his breath as if the answer really mattered.

“Sure.” Derek said, still frowning at the idea that Stiles was voted off. “They were all right.”

“Oh.” Stiles' face fell. It would have been comical, except all Derek could do was wonder what he’d said that made Stiles look so glum. Before he could ask, Stiles turned to go, saying he needed to be somewhere. He walked to his Jeep, got in and drove off. Derek didn’t realize he’d been staring after him until Stiles had pulled out of the parking lot. Then someone spoke.

“Hey.”

Derek turned, going red in the face again. It was always a bad idea when your boss realized you were staring after his son. “Sorry, Sheriff. I was thinking.”

John nodded. “So did Stiles tell you why he wasn’t on the calendar?”

“He said he got voted off. They had new staff.”

“Oh, right. Well, I know Isaac’s new. You met him when you got the calendars?

“Yeah, that’s the new guy with the scarf at the main desk. Laura didn’t tell me about him.”

“Yeah, that’s him. Plus… I think there was a new gym teacher.”

Derek looked up. “Isn’t Scott still the gym teacher?” Scott and Stiles were best friends. Derek didn’t think anything could tear those two apart.

“Yeah, Scott’s still there. They hired a new one as an assistant. I heard she’s an Olympic archer. Or at least she was. Plus she knows the principal.”

“She knows my mom?” Derek asked. This was more gossip than they’d had in awhile. Derek wondered if he should be visiting his family more, or asking them about their jobs. He usually saw them every Sunday but somehow he always ended up in the house library reading when everyone was talking.

“Yeah. I'm not sure where they met. I heard that Alison joined the Olympic team. But she got hurt so she needed somewhere quiet to come back to last year.”

“Was that the woman standing with Scott, doing a Grease thing with the leather jacket and motorcycle?”

“Actually, Stiles had them doing a Queen retrospective, for the song, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Last year, though, they were dressed up as a pair of ballroom dancers.” John laughed out loud. “There’s a bet down at the station about when they are getting married.”

“I thought teachers weren’t supposed to fraternize?”

“It’s a small town, son. If we had that rule, we wouldn’t have a school. All the teachers would probably leave.”

“Right.” Derek ducked his head. It wasn’t so much the teasing-- which John did on a regular basis. It was that he’d called him son. He’d done it a few times so far. Derek couldn’t help but wonder if John was giving him his blessing. Maybe he could date Stiles.

Chapter Text

"So, Stiles is looking to do a community calendar.” John said, as he leaned on Derek’s desk.

Derek looked up from his paperwork. “What was that, sir?”

“Stiles wants to do a community calendar for the summer term students.” John explained, looking at Derek. “He asked if he could start with the police department.”

“Oh.” Derek wasn’t sure where this was going.

“Could you set up a meeting with him and see what he needs?” The Sheriff continued.

“Sir?” Derek said, not sure if John would allow him to say no.

“He’s coming to the station on his lunch break. I want you to talk to him.” John waited for a response.

Not sure what he was getting into, Derek nodded mutely.

The next couple of hours passed by quickly, Derek getting more and more nervous as the time went by.

****

“So, I can have Dad dress up as the Sheriff,” Stiles said, typing quickly on his laptop. Stiles, as promised had met Derek at the station, and had suggested that he take Derek out for lunch as thanks for the chat. "Picking his brain" were his actual words, but the grin loosened the knot in Derek's stomach enough for him to nod. Derek found himself sitting at a booth, across the way from Stiles, who'd immediately taken out his laptop and fired it up. Stiles had rambled, talking about his day and the classes he was teaching, how hard it was to teach kids anything constructive about art, although he had some interested students. Derek simply nodded, letting Stiles talk. He wasn't even sure the other man knew he was still there; he only looked up when the waitress had taken their orders. Derek hadn’t known what he should do after she'd left. Thankfully Stiles seemed ready to get down to business, asking Derek what he thought of doing a community calendar.

“You should have your dad as an astronaut,” Derek suggested.

“What?” Stiles said, looking confused.

“Aren’t you going to do something like your school calendars? Dress them up in fun outfits? It’s not like most people don’t know who he is.”

Stiles continued to stare. Derek wished he hadn’t said anything.

“Actually that’s a good idea.” Stiles said, looking back at his laptop and quickly backspacing. “Why did you suggest an astronaut?”

“It’s what he wanted to do when he was a kid.”

“I can’t imagine my dad as a kid,” Stiles smiled, looking at Derek. Derek felt his ears heat up again, but eventually offered a small smile in return. After sharing a look, Stiles looked back at his computer. “Um, I didn’t know my dad wanted to be an astronaut.”

“We were talking on a stake out. It was a couple of years ago,” Derek trailed off, not sure how much he could say.

“That was for the couple that were eventually charged with making meth?”

“Yeah,” Derek looked up at Stiles in awe.

“Dad hasn’t been on that many stakeouts, especially since you started. I usually bug him until he tells me a little about the cases he’s working on, and he eventually told me. You should know that I’m very persistent. And smart.”

“Humble too, right?” Derek couldn’t resist.

“Yup,” Stiles said, popping the ‘p’. “So, what’s this about Dad wanting to be an astronaut?”

“We were talking -- I don’t even remember about what anymore -- and he told me he’d watched the moon landing when he was 9. His parents had gone to a friend’s house. There had been another kid there who hadn’t been interested at all. But John hadn’t been able to look away from the screen. He had dreamed about going into space after that. He was even thinking about going to college, or something. Then he met your mom and …”

“Wow.” Stiles said, a faraway look in his eyes. “Well, that’s settled. I think I can borrow an astronaut suit from the Beacon Hills Theater club.”

“There’s a theater club in Beacon Hills?” Derek asked, watching Stiles’ hands fly over the keyboard as he jotted down notes. He had such long fingers, and they were so graceful on the keyboard.

“Uh, yeah. They have been a major help. I mean there are a ton of theaters around, which is where I usually get stuff, but BHTC has been the biggest help.” Stiles looked at Derek, excitement shining from his eyes. “Or I talk to the teachers, and see if they had any props around that I could use. My buddy, Scott, had that leather coat in his closet and had forgotten about it.”

“Haven’t I’ve seen him wearing that around lately?”

“Yeah.” Stiles smirked at Derek. “Allison said she liked it at the photo shoot. I’m totally going to be his best man when they get married.” Stiles typed again on his laptop. Derek fidgeted with his fork as Stiles kept typing. He wasn’t sure how much help he was going to be.

“So, who else do you think would want to be on the calendar?” Stiles asked, making Derek look up at him. When Derek stayed silent, Stiles huffed, “Look, I know I’m probably not what you wanted to do on a Friday night.” He blushed and hurried on, “I mean, not that you’re doing me. I just… You could probably be on a date with any of the ladies of Beacon Hills. Hanging out with the Sheriff’s spastic son is probably pretty low on your list of fun.”

“I don’t think you’re spastic.” Derek said, frowning.

“Sure.” Stiles bit out, rolling his eyes.

“Plus,” Derek admitted before he chickened out, “I don’t want to date any of the ladies of Beacon Hills.” He paused before adding, “At least not currently.”

“Wait, are you bi?” Stiles said, mouth falling open.

“Um, yes.” Derek said, now ripping his napkin into pieces.

“Cool!” At Stiles’ excitement, Derek chanced a look at him. “So am I.”

“Cool.”

Chapter Text

“So, about this calendar.” Derek could see a blush stain Stiles’ cheeks.

“Right!” Stiles said brightly. “I’ve got some notes about what I’m thinking.” He reached for his backpack, almost spilling his water glass over his laptop. As Stiles turned back around, waving his notepad triumphantly, Derek reached out to grab the glass before could spill.

“Oh!” Noticing what Derek had done, Stiles shot him a brilliant smile. “Dude, thanks! I get really into something and kind of forget what I'm doing." He carefully moved his glass, as well as the salt and pepper shakers before plopping his notepad down. "I had been thinking just a regular calendar, community people doing their jobs. I really like your idea though. Other than dad, who do you think should be a part of this community calendar?”

Derek offered some suggestions, from the mayor, who was incidentally his uncle. Peter got a lot of complaints for some of his politics, but he also had a sharp wit and sense of fun that most of the town didn’t know about. Plus Derek thought he would be hilarious on a horse or as a cowboy. Derek also mentioned Marin Morrell, a friend of his who actually owned the diner they were sitting at; as well as his dentist, Danny. Deaton , the vet who took care of the police department’s canine unit, would probably enjoy being in the community calendar. Ethan and Aiden, two volunteer firefighters, could put in a good word at the fire station. Derek sat, wracking his brain for more names. He stopped when he realized that Stiles was staring at him.

“What?”

“How do you know everyone in town?”

 

Derek laughed, suddenly shy. “I don’t really know them. It’s not like I’ve talked to them that much. But in my job I have to at least make small talk, try to get people to feel more comfortable. People don’t usually feel very comfortable around me.”

“It’s the eyebrows,” Stiles shot back. When Derek drew said eyebrows together in a frown, Stiles had the audacity to laugh. “See! I swear, crime has gone done 90% since you started.” Met with Derek’s glower, he hurried on. “Cuz see, people see you and your resting murder face and just don’t want to get caught.”

“I don’t have a resting murder face.” Derek frowned.

“Well, that’s what your sister calls it.” Stiles said, looking back down at his laptop with a blush on his cheeks.

“You’ve talked to Cora?”

“Actually it was Laura. You know, school secretary, art teacher.” Stiles waved his hands around for emphasis. “I didn’t know you had another sister. Where does Cora work?”

“She’s a tattoo artist. You know, the Howling Moon Tattoo?” Derek asked, watching Stiles’ head bobble in the affirmative. “She's the one who started calling it my resting murder face." Derek pausing, playing with the salt shaker in front of him. "If you wanted, she would probably love to be in your calendar as well. She likes seeing them when I get them every year.”

Stiles grinned, still looking at his laptop. “So you buy my calendar every year?”

“Uh, yeah. Of course. Supporting the school and all that,” Derek said, shifting nervously in his seat.

“Right.” Stiles said, his face falling. He closed his laptop with an audible snick. “Well, this has been a good start but I should probably get going. Thanks for the names.”

 

And before Derek could say anything, Stiles was gone. Derek wondered what he’d done.

Chapter Text

“See you later, Marin.” Stiles managed to say to the waitress, as he disappeared out the door, not even looking back at Derek. Marin however looked at him sternly, slowly shaking her head.

Derek ran a hand through his hair. The one problem with living in Beacon Hills was that it was small. People knew him. And some of those people weren’t afraid to talk to him. Marin Morrell, waitress and owner of the diner in which he was sitting, was one of them. Probably because she was dating his sister, Cora.

Derek had moved back after attending the academy and working in cities like Boston and New York for a few years. When he’d heard a position had opened up in Beacon Hills -- and that the Sheriff had been shot -- he’d applied. He’d always thought about returning home at some time. Plus he’d always looked up to the Sheriff, especially after the fire that had almost killed his family.

Thankfully the concerted efforts of the fire department and sheriff’s office had saved him and his family, and the town had chipped in in the intervening months, first with basics and places to stay, and then later helping them clean up the burned wreckage, then rebuild their house and paint it. Derek had remembered many Saturdays standing alongside the Sheriff and listening to the adults talk. He’d idolized the Sheriff, and probably still did.

It wasn’t until he’d moved back that he’d found out that Stiles had also come home. When he’d heard it, he’d recalled the long-limbed, gangly, annoying teenager he’d been. He’d never known when to shut his mouth, although Stiles was also probably brighter than he let on. He was also braver -- or maybe stupider -- that was wise. There had been a rumor that in his sophomore year, Stiles and his best friend, Scott, had gone to look for a homeless man who liked to wander in the woods after he’d heard about the missing persons report. The two boys had come across his frozen body in the middle of the Preserve. Of course, it hadn’t stopped him and his endless curiosity. After high school, Stiles had probably gone to some prestigious art school. Derek figured he’d either become a hipster or an art snob.

It had been a couple of weeks after Derek had moved back before he’d seen Stiles again. Derek, being the rookie in the new department, had been stuck on the night shift. Mostly nothing happened during the shifts, although every once in awhile some kids would vandalize the school or throw parties in the Preserve. But Beacon Hills wasn’t a center of criminal activity.

Unfortunately one night a stalker had upped his game. Derek held dealt with it and put the man behind bars, but he also needed to give the report to the Sheriff. John had asked Derek to meet him at Morel’s Diner on Main Street to give him the report. Derek was only slightly miffed that he couldn’t go straight home, but he understood the nature of the job.

Derek had no more than walked inside the diner and stepped up to the counter when he’d heard John calling his name. Derek looked over, noticing that the Sheriff was sitting with a young man with messy mop of brown hair facing away from the door.

Derek trudged over to the booth, nodding tiredly at the Sheriff. The incident during the night made him want to go home and shower, just to feel clean again.

The Sheriff looked up at him with a smile, “Derek! Good to see you!”

“Are you doing better, sir?” Derek nodded at the sling, keeping the hurt arm in place. The Sheriff was still healing from being shot, although still managed to get to the office during the week.

“Yep. Shoulder doesn’t even hurt. I don’t know why I have to keep wearing this sling.” He grimaced down at the offending thing.

“I’m sure you could take it off,” Derek said slowly. The Sheriff smiled at the other man, but Derek continued, “Although I know a guy who did something similar and took off his sling too early. He couldn’t recover the full range of motion, and is now doing desk duty for the next 10 years probably.”

“Ha!” The younger man crowed, pumping a fist in the air. “I told you so. Gotta listen to Doc Martin. She told you the same thing, Dad! At least you’ve got my back.” The man grinned up at Derek, who could only stare at the hottest guy he’d seen lately, or maybe ever. He had big brown eyes that crinkled at the corners like he was used to smiling, a small button nose, moles dotting his face and around his still grinning mouth, speckling his long neck and disappearing into the red button-down shirt he was sporting. He had broad shoulders and a lean frame and Derek wondered how many the moles his clothes were hiding. He ached to find out.

Derek also realized he was still staring, “Yeah,” Derek had said, one side of his mouth quirking up. “Definitely.” Without conscious thought, Derek heard his voice drop a register.

“You remember Stiles, my son?” The Sheriff said then. Derek whipped his head around, having forgot that the Sheriff was even there. It took a few seconds for his senses to come back. Then, feeling his ears heat up in embarrassment, he looked back at Stiles, who was still grinning. Of course it was Stiles, but a grown up version. Derek should have known. Stiles still had the same face, but longer, more refined. He’d filled out everywhere, shoulders broad and a body that had grown out of his awkward teenage years. He even still had the same flailing mannerism. But he wasn’t a kid anymore by a long shot. He was a man, and hot one at that. And he was still smirking at Derek.

Derek recalled the Sheriff mentioning that his son was coming back to town. In fact, he hadn’t stopped talking about it; the whole station was abuzz. (There was a small pool on how much trouble Stiles was liable to get into.) And then Derek, his tired mind catching up, remembered that this was their celebratory Sunday breakfast.

“Right.” Derek frowned at the realization. He pulled out the paperwork on the incident from the night before, saying, “I shouldn’t be bothering you today, sir. Here’s the report.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Stiles said, shifting his butt over and patting the space beside him on the bench. “You were going to join us, right?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued on, “Trust me, you grow up in the Sheriff’s house and you know that police work never ends.” Stiles patted the seat again, looking up at Derek expectantly.

Derek sat down gingerly, telling himself to stop staring.

“Sorry, kid.” John said, his face falling. “I know my job gets to be too much some times.”

“No, it’s okay, Dad. Really!” Stiles replied earnestly. “You gotta do your job. Keep people safe. Put away the bad guys. I respect the hell out of that. And now that Derek’s here from New York, there’s one more person to watch your back. Right, Derek?” Stiles looked over at him with his big brown eyes, and Derek agreed immediately, shoulders straightening. He was immediately rewarded with Stiles’ brilliant smile.

At John’s urging, Derek had staying, relaxing slightly, and provided a general rundown of the stalking incident but refrained from details, given the fact that they were in public.

After he’d finished talking, Derek had spent a few more minutes in stinted conversation. Given that he was just finishing a night shift -- and the fact that he wasn’t the best conversationalist normally but even worse when sitting by someone he was interested in, he couldn’t figure out a topic to save his social life.

Stiles hadn’t seemed to mind. He explained how he had just been hired as the art and English and drama teacher at Beacon Hills. He was really excited for the chance but Derek could see his nervousness, as Stiles mauled his napkin into strips. Derek had offered some quiet encouragement which seemed to calm Stiles down. Stiles had even started talking about some projects he’d had in mind for the students to do, including a calendar of famous people.

Derek could feel his tiredness rolling over him and eventually made himself leave. He’d nodded at Stiles and the Sheriff, who’d been silent for most of the conversation, but was looking satisfied, probably at having his son back in town where he could keep him safe and watch out for him. And then Derek had left, reminding himself that Stiles was out of reach, especially since he was Derek’s boss’s son, as well as being almost 7 years younger than him.

Stiles was also perfect. Derek shook his head, coming back to the present.

Stiles had been working at the school for three years, reinvigorating the art department and even starting a drama department. When the school had pulled funding for the arts, Stiles had instigated his idea for the calendars. It was useful for the school because they had important dates to inform the community about, like no school days, parent teacher conferences, game days. Since Stiles also did it as a school project and had it printed at the district print shop, it was cheaper than any other source. The biggest perk for the community were the teachers. The school’s staff was remarkably young and fit and overall pretty. The themes were fun, and everyone benefitted.

Of course, just because the school had allowed it in year’s past didn’t mean they didn’t question it the next year at budget time. Derek had never been to a school board meeting, but whenever the minutes were distributed at budget time, Derek would search them out and read all the parts relating to the art and drama departments, or really anything having to do with Stiles. Boyd, the man who took the minutes down, had a knack for expressing the emotions of those present.

Stiles’ impassioned speech about the educative experience toward a common goal, including real world experience, teamwork, technical know-how and networking, stirred the board and audience alike towards the first-ever unanimous vote of confidence in the program. Order was called as a few onlookers, caught up in the moment, exclaimed their votes as well. Principal Talia Hale reminded all present that only board members could vote.

Derek also heard while chatting with Boyd, that Stiles generally went to the diner after one of those meetings, celebrating or commiserating over a large order of curly fries, shared with whoever was present.

Chapter Text

Back to the present.

Derek shook his head, wondering how badly he’d messed up. He and Stiles had been chatting so well, and he was sure that Stiles had like some of his suggestions, both for community members and for costume ideas. And then suddenly Stiles had stood up stiffly, grabbing his backpack and laptop and had left the diner. Derek could only stare after him, wondering what had happened. What had he done wrong?

It bugged him all through his shift, patrolling around Beacon County, and even after he’d finished his paperwork. The Sheriff had been gone by the time Derek had returned to the station. John was pretty good at reading people, especially his son. Derek would have been tempted to ask him, even given his crush on Stiles. Except John wasn’t there, and Derek was left mulling it over.

Derek nodded at Deputy Parrish before making his way out the door to his silent house.

*********

By the time his work week had ended, he was going crazy second-guessing himself. Maybe the lunch hadn’t been going that well to begin with. Or maybe Stiles was just friendly with everyone. Or was it something he said?

Or hell, maybe Derek had dreamed it all up.

He was probably going to have to talk about it to someone. The thought put a fresh frown on Derek’s face as he made his way to his parent’s house, at the edge of the Preserve. His sister had called him up the day before, telling him in no uncertain terms that he had better be at their parents house for their weekly lunch. He’d been remiss the last couple of weeks, but Laura wasn’t allowing his normal excuses. She’d told him point blank that she knew he didn’t work 6-days a week anymore, the baseball league hadn’t started, and hiding in his house wasn’t a valid excuse. He had to be there or she’d show up at his place with the family. Derek wasn’t about to take that chance. He’d called her bluff once before. It had taken three weeks to get the purple dye out of his hair.

Which is how Derek found himself driving up to his parent’s house, parking his Camaro between Laura’s Range Rover and Cora’s motorcycle. He stared morosely at the house for a second before heaving a sigh, and getting out of the car, a bag of steak and salad fixings clutched in his arm.

Before he could even make it up to the porch, his nephew was pelting out of the house, closely followed by his niece. He managed to catch both Blake and Zoe, and-- with a minimum of juggling-- knelt to accept their ebullient hugs. Laura caught up to them with a laugh, watching as they jumped up and down, demanding to be held by their uncle. Derek smiled ruefully, “Sorry, guys, I can only hold one of you.” He shuffled the bag in his hand as explanation

“But, Unca Derek, you’re so strong, you can hold both of us!” Zoe said, hands on her hips. Even at 6-years old, she was already as demanding as her mother.

“Yeah, Uncle Derek. You’ve done it before.” Blake said, scowling, his dark hair falling over his eyes, except for a unrepentant cowlick in the back of his head. He was a year older than his sister and seemed inches taller than the last time Derek had seen him.

“I’ve got to take this bag inside. Maybe after, okay?” Derek pleaded. When he tried to take a step between them, the two glanced at each other and then immediately latched themselves onto each of his legs. He glanced at Laura but knew she wouldn’t be any help. She was doubled over in laughter. Derek chuckled quietly, trying to lift his legs to walk with two squirming, giggling kids sitting on his feet.

“All right you too.” Laura said as she straightened, trying to sound stern. “Let your uncle in the house and then you two can monopolize him again, okay?”

“Monopolize?” Derek said, smirking as the two let go of him and banged their way into the house, yelling at the occupants that Uncle Derek had arrived. “You really think that they understand what you said?”

“The key to establishing a large vocabulary for children is for them to hear the words in regular conversation. Children learn more complex sentence structure and expand their vocabulary when adults talk to them everyday. I ask them questions, talk about what’s around. I mean, did you know that environmental factors associated with vocabulary development and emergent literacy skills are already present among children as early as 15 months of age? Young children have an innate understanding of sentences and...”

“All right, all right. I got it,” Derek said, following his sister inside as she held the door open for him. “Remind me not to swear then.”

“As if you do, Derek.” Laura rolled her eyes. “You can pretend all you want, but I still remember when you couldn’t even say the s-word without stuttering.”

“Shut up.” Derek ducked his head, feeling his ears heat up, and followed her into the insanity that was the kitchen.

*********

The kitchen was chaos, to put it bluntly. Controlled chaos, as Talia managed to herd her grandchildren into the dining room to continue coloring, convince her brother, Peter, to cut up the fruit she wanted to serve and continue stirring the chicken she was grilling at the same time. But it was chaos nonetheless. Zoe and Blake waved at them before bending their heads to their coloring. Talia looked up and saw Derek, immediately handed the spatula to her husband, Tim, and bustled over to Derek to give him a warm hug.

“Come on, Mom,” Derek said, wrapping his free arm around his mom and ducking his head into the curve of her neck, “It’s not like you never see me.” His other arm, still holding the groceries, was getting sore. Derek didn’t care; he refused to let go of his mom.

Talia held onto him for an extra moment before pulling away with bright eyes. “I haven’t seen you for a month, Derek. I was going to have to call up the station just to catch up with my son.” She said, giving Derek an aggrieved look before taking pity on him and grabbing the bag of groceries and taking it into the kitchen. His dad unloaded the bag as Talia took over the grilling again. Derek saw him smile at the steaks wrapped up from the butcher, nodding at his dad’s wide grin. But instead of joining in the conversation he went to the side of the room.

Derek found a spot by the wall, awkwardly chatting with his family only when they asked him a question. Mostly he watched as the lunch was assembled, Talia heating up another frying pan to cook the steaks as well. Derek smirked every time someone tried to steal food. Getting the hardest whacks was Uncle Peter, who somehow still managed to grab a few pieces after Talia had already turned her back.

Before too long, Cora walked into the kitchen, talking loudly over the rest of the family and stealing a bit of the chicken Talia had just taken off the stove. She managed to duck under Talia’s wicked spatula. Then, noticing Derek, Cora slipped through the rest to grab a chair and plunk it down in front of Derek, neatly cutting off his escape route.

“What?” Derek said sourly, brows drawn together.

“Don’t play the Grumpy Cat act with me, brother-o-mine.” She said airily, wagging her stolen grilled chicken at him, “You stopped being scary when we were kids and you rescued the neighbor’s cat out of the tree.”
Derek only glared at her, waiting for her to speak. True to form, it didn’t take long.

“So, heard you were out with Stiles the other day?”

Derek drew back, stunned. “How did you…?”

“Marin told me. She also told me that Stiles left you there.” Cora said, watching as her brother’s face fell. She dropped the teasing tone, asking softly, “Derek, what happened?”

Derek stopped for a second, battling between his reticence to tell her anything and his still utter confusion about the lunch. Finally, giving up, he grabbed another chair, setting it by Cora’s, and dropped himself into it.

“I don’t know. I mean, I thought it was going well. But…” he trailed off, staring at his hands.

Cora leaned over, putting a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “Want to tell me about it?”

Before Derek realized, he was telling Cora everything, from seeing Stiles in the parking lot, to the entirety of the lunch date conversation. “And then, he left. I don’t know what I did. I mean, I thought it was going well.”

“Is this that young man you like?” Talia asked, coming over with her spatula still in her hand. Derek looked up quickly and realized his entire family had been listening. He ducked his head, feeling his cheeks heat up.

“Well, is it?” His dad asked, his voice full of concern. Derek nodded, still looking at his hands.

“You should give him a cookie.” Zoe burst into the room, bouncing on her feet, her face shining. “That’s what Miss Yukimura told me I should do when I said I liked this girl in my class. She said I should give her my cookie and then Suzie would share hers with me and we could be friends.” Derek smiled at his niece even as Zoe’s face clouded over. She continued crossly, “Except Suzie ate the cookie I gave her and her own right in front of me. So I hit her on the nose.” She nodded in affirmation. “So if he doesn’t share his cookies you should hit him on the nose.”

Derek burst out laughing at the big smile on Zoe’s face.

“No, that’s not how we treat people!” Derek looked up to see a scandalized Laura scowling at her daughter, “When did this happen, young lady?”

“It was last week.” Zoe said, scuffling her shoes before looking around again, “I told Daddy and he said I did a good job.”

Laura stood, mouth agape for a moment before stomping out of the room and bellowing for her husband, “Lucas! You had better explain yourself right now!”

The family, silent after Laura’s outburst broke into abrupt laughter. Derek laughed along with, until he looked down at Zoe’s too-pleased expression.

“Thanks for the advice, Zoe,” he said, motioning for her to sit on his lap. “I could share cookies with him.” Although the thought of sharing a meal made Derek’s stomach swoop -- it would be a date. Had their lunch been a date? -- he continued, “But I don’t think I’d hit him if he ate my food. He… People shouldn’t do that.”

“Plus, you’d have to be arrested for assault,” Peter said, smoothly, “which would probably look pretty bad for our resident law officer.” The bite of sarcasm earned him a smack from Talia, glowering at him.

Of course, Peter’s words had the effect of completely terrifying Zoe who suddenly scooted off Derek’s lap and raced out the room to hide under her Grandpa Tim’s desk. It took 15 minutes to convince her that Uncle
Derek wasn’t going to arrest her for hitting her classmate. At the end of it, she emerged from under the desk,
still sniffling and promising to apologize to Suzie when she saw her in class next.

The family sat down to lunch, and Derek assumed that everyone had forgotten about his predicament.

He was wrong.

“So, about your lunch, Derek,” Talia started as the food (salad, tacos of grilled steak or chicken, and black bean salsa) was passed around and everyone set themselves to food. Of course, at Talia’s words they perked up.

“Mom, let’s not…” Derek started.

“Oh, sweetie, you’ve been infatuated with that young man for a couple of years now. I’d like to see something good happen. You so rarely put yourself out there. You’ve got a lot of good qualities.”

“Yeah, I just …” Derek stopped, feeling his ears burn at the sudden attention. “I don’t want to mess up, you know?” He said it softly, not looking up from his plate.

“Sweetheart,” Talia started, sympathetically.

“I’ve been thinking about the conversations.” Cora interrupted, her voice strong and business-like. Derek
spared a moment to peer up at her. “I think Stiles got the wrong impression.”

“Like, he realized I’m a creeper?” Derek asked harshly, stabbing at the chicken passing in front of him.

“No, see, Derek, that would be him getting the right impression.” Cora said, offering quickly, “Not that you’re a creeper, Derek. Well,” She added, “Not that much of a creeper anyway. But, Stiles doesn’t think you like him.”

“How can he not know?” Derek asked, eyebrows raised incredulously.

“Well, have you given him any indication you are?”

Derek opened his mouth to speak, then stopped. He thought back. Thinking it over, he wondered if he had given Stiles any indication.

“I mean, you didn’t tell him you like the pictures that he takes,”

“I did too. I said they were all right.”

“Exactly. The way you said it, it probably didn’t sound very convincing. Sure, they were all right.” Cora imitated Derek, brows drawn comically together and arms crossed petulantly over her chest. The whole table laughed. Even Zoe and Blake, who’d been involved in whatever conversation two kids can be immersed in, looked up and laughed at Cora’s impersonation.

Derek glowered down at his plate.

Cora wasn’t finished. “You had a lunch date with Stiles,”

“It wasn’t a date,” Derek interjected, practically growling.

Cora ignored him and continued, “During which you give him ideas about his calendar, which was a good thing. But you don’t compliment him, you don’t offer anything of yourself and so Stiles has nothing to go on. And then, when he point-blank asks you if you buy his calendars every year, you tell him you buy the calendars to support the school.”

“Even though that is patently false,” Uncle Peter piped up from the foot of the table, where he was working his way through his second taco already.

Cora glared at Peter for interrupting her, but plowed on, “Two strikes down. You might get one more, but this isn’t actually baseball. And, from what Marin told me, I’m not sure Stiles is going to try and search you out again.”

“Wait, what did Marin say?” Derek interrupted his sad self-examination (No, he wasn’t pouting. Nope.) to glance up again.

“Well, while we were hanging out the other day, she told me that Stiles stopped by the next day for comfort curly fries. He also said that he was done with trying to figure you out and seemed pretty convinced that you didn’t like him.”

“Wait, what else did he say? Did Marin tell you?”

“No, Derek. I was on a date. Talking about my brother’s lack of a love life isn’t what I consider an appropriate date topic.” Cora rolled her eyes, muttering under her breath, “Like I want to make out with someone while I think about my brother.” She grimaced and shuddered.

“Wait, does that mean that Derek and Stiles want to kiss each other?” Zoe spoke up from her booster seat, looking around the table. Everyone stopped talking and stared at her.

When she didn’t get a response, she looked at her brother. After a second they bother uttered. “Ew. Kissing!” The consternated looks on both of the kid’s faces made the table erupt into laughter.

Chapter Text

Derek didn’t see Stiles for a few days after The Diner Incident. He still didn’t know what to say to the other man. He wasn’t one to state his intentions like that. Ever. Ask his sisters.

Wait, forget that. Don’t ask his sisters. The stories they could tell….

The thing is, it was weird not seeing Stiles. Usually Derek would see the other man around town. At least he’d see Stiles’ old blue Jeep on the streets or packed in front of the diner a few times a week. Or he’d be watching his students get on the bus at the end of the school day-- a sight that was coincidentally on Derek’s patrol.

Derek felt itchy after a week without seeing Stiles.

By the time the next Sunday came around, Derek had had enough. Squaring his shoulders, he marched into John’s office. The Sheriff was doing paperwork at his desk. Derek paused on the threshold, waiting for him to look up. When he didn’t, Derek cleared his throat nervously.

John looked up, a frown forming on his face. It cleared when he saw Derek. He nodded before going back to his paperwork.

“Um, sir?”

“Derek?” John asked, looking up from his paperwork with a raised eyebrow.

“I wanted to ask you something?”

John put down his pen with a sigh, “What is it? Was there trouble on your patrol today?”

“No.” Derek said quickly, shifting from foot to foot. “But… I haven’t seen Stiles this week?” Derek could feel his ears burning but continued, “I was wondering … Is anything wrong with him?”

“I think he has the flu.”

“Oh. Is he okay? Does he need something?” Derek found himself standing by John’s desk without realizing he’d moved.

John smiled tiredly. “He’s fine. He complains like a champ. Scott has been texting him constantly and running over to my house to check on him. Plus Melissa has been looking in on him every couple of hours.”

Derek’s brows gathered in a fierce frown. “Melissa?”

“Scott’s mom?” John half-smirked before coughing to cover it up. “She’s a nurse at the hospital but she takes care of the boys when they get sick. She’s my neighbor… and since Stiles got sick when we were having supper at my house last Sunday, he stayed. It was just easier.”

“Oh. Right.” Derek, realized how tense he’d gotten, uncrossed his arms and let them hang awkwardly by his sides. “Um, I guess I should let you get back to…” Derek made a motion toward the piles of forms strewn across John’s desk.

“It looks like I’m going to be here for a few more hours. Would you mind going to check up on him for me, see how he’s doing?”

“Sure!” Derek said quickly. “I mean, I’m just getting done with my shift. I could stop by if you’d like.”

“Thanks, Derek.” Derek turned away as John went back to his paperwork, not catching the smug look on the Sheriff’s face.

Derek hurried back to his desk and quickly gathered his stuff together. Within minutes, he was out the door, striding toward his Camaro.

He almost sped toward Stiles, but managed to keep his speedometer on this side of legal. Finally he reached the house. He stopped the car and before knew it, was jogging up the stairs to the Sheriff’s house, and knocking on the door.

He heard someone shout and movement on the other side. He wiped his sweaty hands on his pants just as the door opened.

Melissa McCall stood on the other side of the door, a smile brightening her face. Now that he saw her her remembered her around town. She’d even come into the station to talk to John on more than one
occasion. He wondered if there was something between them.

Realizing he was just standing there, he cleared his throat. “Um, hello. I’m Derek Hale. I’m a deputy; John, I mean, the Sheriff asked me to come check on Stiles.” Derek rocked on the balls of his feet, feeling unaccountably like he was meeting the mother of his prom date.

“Derek, of course I know you. How is your family doing?”

“Just fine, ma’am. Um, I was wondering… Could I… I mean, how is Stiles doing?”

Melissa smiled and ushered him inside. “He’s fine, Derek. Won’t eat the perfectly good meal I made for him, though.”

Derek heard a groan from what he presumed was the living room. Stiles’ voice drifted out. “I don’t want any more soup. I want curly fries.”

Derek laughed to himself, feeling a weight lift from his shoulders. Stiles sounded grumpy and hungry, although there was a note of tiredness under the words. He peeked in the room, but couldn't tell where Stiles was.

“Stiles, you need to eat something healthy for at least another day.” Melissa called back, rolling her eyes. “You want to get better, right?”

“I want curly fries.” Stiles grumped. There was another sound of movement from the living room that had Derek craning his head to see. He knew he didn’t really need to stay if Melissa was there, but Derek didn’t want to leave until he’s seen Stiles with his own two eyes. And then he could leave, go back to his lonely apartment.

“Did you open the door for someone? Do I have a visitor?” Stiles called out from the living room. “Did they bring me curly fries?”

“I’m sorry, Stiles. I didn’t bring you curly fries.” Derek walked around Melissa and into the living room. Stiles was curled up on the Sheriff’s old beige couch. There was a mound of blankets on top of him, covering him from neck to toe. Stiles was peeking out from the pile, with a very confused look on his face.

“Derek?” Stiles squinted over at him. “Why are you in my dad’s house, Derek?”

“Uh, your dad was worried about you. He’s got a couple of hours of work left and wanted me to check on you.”

“Huh.” Stiles said, “That’s weird.” When Derek just looked confused, Stiles went on, “Dad just called Melissa and asked her to go out to eat with him. She was on her way out, leaving me, her convalescent patient, all by my lonesome.”

“Oh.” Derek looked over at Melissa, who seemed to be avoiding his eyes.

After a few seconds she said brightly, “Well, looks like I’m no longer needed here. So, I’ll just be on my way. You can stay and keep Stiles company, right, Derek?” And without waiting for a response, she was gone.

Derek watched the door through which she’d just disappeared. He could feel Stiles’ eyes on him. To avoid looking at Stiles just yet, Derek looked around the room, wondering if he could get away with leaving too. Except he knew if he did, he’d never see Stiles again. And he wasn’t sure he could handle that. There had to be some way to make things better.

There were an amazing number of pictures in the Sheriff’s living room. Most of them were photographs of various locations. A lot of them seemed to be of Stiles and dad throughout the years. There were a few other shots that looked professional. A black and white photo of a little girl sitting by a dog drew him over to it. He picked it up and studied it. He didn’t know anything about photography. And it was possible, with any other photographer, that the shot would have looked hammy and cutesy. But there was something about the photograph, the light or shadowing… something that made it look nostalgic and deeply personal.

“I took that for my senior project.” Stiles called out from the mound of pillows. “It was a set of 16 that had to tell a story. Dad really like that one. The little girl is one of my college’s friends’ daughters. He and her got along really well. My friends’ let me keep the picture since I game them a copy of it.” Stiles shifted on the couch. “Not that you care.”

“I do care.” Derek said, feeling the frown on his face as he looked over at Stiles. “It’s a really good picture.”

“Well. Good. Glad you like it.” Stiles said, curling back into the couch. He pulled the blankets over his head until Derek could just see his eyes and the top of his sleep-mussed hair. “You don’t have to stay here, you know. I’ll be fine.”

“I know.” Derek said softly, wishing he could do more. “I just… Actually I lied before. I wanted to apologize.”

“Lied?” Stiles asked, his confusion muffled in the pile of blankets.

“At the diner, when I said I bought your calendars to support the school. You seemed to take that wrong and I’m sorry.” Derek took a deep breath. “I wasn’t entirely truthful. I mean, I do buy the calendars to support the school too. But that wasn’t the main reason.”

“What is?” Stiles asked softly, head peeking out from the blankets a bit more.

“I bought the calendar the first year because it was a neat idea. You have great ideas for shots.” Derek stopped talking, sharking his head.

“Wait, you don’t think that they are good ideas?” Stiles asked, his voice cracking.
“No. No, that’s not it at all.” Derek said, hating how Stiles’ voice sounded so small and unsure. “But I lied again. I bought the first calendar that first year because I saw you. Ask your dad. I saw the one he had up in his office, and you looked…. I don’t know but I couldn’t stop looking at it. I had to get one for myself. I bought it the next day. I even read a book on Degas because of it. And then last year’s, with the dancing. I wanted to ask you out then, except I don’t like dancing.”

“I was Puck two years ago.” Stiles offered helpfully.

“I know.” Derek said, his voice dropping a register as he remembered the image of a mostly-nude Stiles wearing nothing but strategically placed leaves over form-fitting shorts, and a devil-may-care smile. “It was May in my cubicle for a couple of months. Parish told me I should go frame the picture.” Derek looked over at Stiles, who was staring at him open-mouthed. “It’s a really good picture.”

“So why did you lie?”

“Stiles, I didn’t even know you. I didn’t want to freak you out.”

“It’s not like I think you are stalking me or something.” Stiles scoffed.

“We’ve had more than a few stalkers in Beacon Hills. And I don’t ever want to make you feel like that.”

“Oh.” Stiles said, still looking at him with those big brown eyes.

“Plus, I work for your dad. I didn’t think he’d approve.”

“He’s been telling me to ask you out for awhile now.”

“Oh,” Derek said. He walked over to a chair across the way from Stiles and fell into it without taking his eyes off the other man. “So. Do you want to go out?”

Stiles smiled but shook his head. “Not today. I want to have showered in the last 3 days before I go out with you. Also I should probably get the okay from Melissa before trying any strenuous activity.”

Derek smiled at the other man, feeling his heart wanting to pound out of his chest from sheer joy. He couldn’t stop himself from teasing, “So, we’re going to be doing some strenuous activity on our first date?”

Stiles gasped and quickly hid himself under his mound of blankets with a groan. He mumbled something that sounded like, “That’s not what I meant.”

“How about I take you for curly fries when you feel better?”

Stiles poked his head out of his blankets. “Wait, you mean that?” You’ll take me to get curly fries?”

“Yes Stiles. I’d love to get curly fries with you.”