If you've liked someone for a long time, there's this mantra that passes through your head on a daily basis.
At first, it's like: nothing is happening, don't screw everything up, they don't feel that way, they don't feel that way.
Then it comes to a point where you think something could happen, you tell yourself: just wait, just wait, they need to make the move, they need to make the move.
Then: okay, so what if you make the first move? Is that a bad thing? Does that have to mean the relationship is anything less? Who really cares who makes the first move? It's the 21st century.
And thus, this leaves Stiles in his current predicament.
"Stiles, I just." Derek sighs, long and low, and he feels himself chill to the core.
"It's honestly not you." He begins, and Stiles starts backing away because, okay, alright, that is letting someone down gently, this is what it really feels like, okay, huh, this is new.
He's been turned down before. It's embarrassing and foolishly hopeful and it's - it's everything that this isn't.
This is like being ripped apart.
He takes a step backwards. "So everything that happened - "
"Stiles, stop." Derek says strongly. "You know this is different. It isn't as simple as that."
"Simple as what?" He hears his voice from very far away. "Either you want someone or you don't. What else could be more simple? What - "
"Stiles?" Derek takes a step forwards, frowning. "You're - "
"What is so complex about the idea of liking someone? What is so unimaginably difficult - " his voice seems to recede in the air, he takes another step back and he's falling, although it feels as though the whole room is expanding, as though as he falls, space widens.
"Stiles!" Derek is growing taller, lengthening in front of his eyes. He crouches low. "Stiles?"
His voice is loud, huge, vibrating throughout the ground beneath him. He trips on the reverberations and almost topples until there's a hand in front of him, colossus fingers gently nudging him upright.
He glances up, and screams.
Then everything goes black.
"Stiles? Stiles?" Derek's voice seems to be coming from very far away again, and he blinks open his eyes to two very large ones peering down at him.
He scrambles up, glancing around wildly until he realises he's in the palm of Derek's hand. He's in his hand.
"Stiles, calm down - something has happened, I'm going to take you to Deaton."
"Derek?" His voice is odd, tiny.
"It's alright, Stiles." Derek puts his other hand underneath the one holding Stiles and cups him in both as he stands from a crouch and starts walking. "Just - try not to do anything else."
"Hm." Deaton says as he inspects him. "Very odd. There doesn't seem to be any medical issues - you're perfectly healthy. Just - say about sixteen inches in height." He pockets his tape measure.
"And?" Stiles asks. "What's the solution."
"Oh, there's no solution." He says as though that was obvious.
"Clearly this isn't some curse, or some kind or spell or enchantment. There are no signs of any ill intent. I would say it's most likely an involuntary reaction of the magic you already posses, Stiles, and will wear off in its own time. Tell me - were you under any stress at the time you." He purses his mouth. "Shrunk, for a better word?"
"What are you talking about?" Derek asks bluntly, gesturing. "How is this helping?"
"It seems this has occurred due to a - a very strong emotional reaction, and your magic has likely been confused, and acted as a way to protect you." He raises his eyebrows. "It can be pretty amazing what the force of your own will can do."
Stiles feels himself flood with colour, and hopes it isn't noticeable. Derek is staring blankly at Deaton, his expression unimpressed before he glances to Stiles, as though asking for an answer.
"Oh, God." Stiles says.
Because he remembers what had happened.
Remembers wishing that the ground would open up to swallow him. Remembers wishing that he could just disappear.
Remembers feeling about two inches tall.
"I know why this has happened."
"You - " Derek starts.
"It's fine. I know. It's my fault. I think I just want to go home now."
The drive is quiet.
Derek raps his fingers on the steering wheel, jaw clicking as he opens and closes his mouth. He carries Stiles to the door, and knocks gently.
His dad answers. Takes one look at the whole image - Derek standing, hand held out, Stiles sitting crossed legged in his palm.
"What." He sighs.
Scott and the others laugh. Then they take turns throwing him. Erica almost crushes him with squeezing so hard. Jackson says he's now the poster boy for puny humanity.
Derek eventually comes to his rescue, sighing and taking him into his hands, and Stiles spends that pack meeting on his shoulder, gripping tight to a strand of hair.
It turns out that being small isn't exactly fun.
He can't go to school. He can't do any research. It's difficult to eat, and nearly impossible to drink.
He needs help to do everything, but his dad is at work most days, and Scott and the pack are at school.
Derek comes to visit him one night, and catches him in one of his less dignified moments.
He has a system; every drawer is open at his bedside so he can climb step by step, arms and legs grappling as he steadily makes his way up. Then he succeeds onto his pillow and makes a nest for himself.
He has his leg over the first ledge, but pauses, all too familiar with the feeling of that presence at his back.
He turns his head slowly.
Derek is leaning against the wall, a fist pressed to his mouth.
"Is this funny for you?" He asks, and gestures a hand to the whole situation.
"Yes." Derek replies strongly.
"I'm glad my misfortune and suffering is a source of - hngh!" He gasps when he slips, and then feels something catch him.
"..amusement.. to you.." He trails off as he's lifted, the ground falling away beneath him and then rightening with warm, safe hands.
Derek brings his hands up to his face. His eyes are a clear green, startlingly bright when not masked by a scowl.
"Stiles." He says. "Your suffering does not amuse me. This, however." He raises his eyebrows and picks him up by the scruff. "Is very funny."
Stiles grinds his jaw. "Just put me down."
Derek does, and hesitates.
"Was there a reason you came by?" He asks blithely, noticing Derek's indecision.
Derek swallows, frowning. "It's been a week. Shouldn't you be back to normal by now?"
Stiles blinks. Derek came by because he was worried.
Worried. About Stiles.
Derek stands, waiting for an answer.
"You tell me." He replies, trying not to let his happiness show. "Uh, hey - while you're over there, could you pass me that shirt."
Derek looks at him for a long moment before slowly reaching for his t-shirt over the back of his chair.
"Not that one. The - smaller one."
He turns back around, his hands searching.
"On the desk."
He freezes where he stands, and stays that way for a long moment. Then, with thumb and forefinger, he picks up his miniature top and turns to him.
"What." He asks. "Is this?"
"I had to shrink my clothes." He replies shortly. "Can you just pass it here?"
Derek purses his mouth tightly, looking from him to the t-shirt to him again. Then he hooks his finger underneath and wears it like a finger puppet.
He wriggles his finger, then raises his eyebrows.
Stiles stares back. "What's your point?"
Derek comes back.
Although Stiles might not be able to research, he can still help with general knowledge.
And so Derek visits, and they go over strategies and theories, spending hours digging through information on their latest 'problem'.
Eventually, Derek is spending more time at his place that his own home, and his dad is beginning to notice.
"I thought you said. Nothing was going on." He starts as he's making dinner, Stiles sat on the counter.
He stares blankly, a crumb halfway to his mouth.
"Between." He waves his spatula to Stiles and then upwards to covey upstairs where Derek is.
"Oh, God, no." He laughs at the thought. Derek had made it pretty clear. "No, dad, honestly."
"Alright." He says dubiously. "In that case - why don't you ask him to stay over?"
Stiles pauses. "What?"
"I worry about you." He confesses. "You aren't in any position to protect yourself, Stiles, or even do the things you normally can. You're pretty limited at the moment. If nothing is going on, I think I would feel better if someone was in the house with you."
"I'm not sure how Derek would feel about that." He begins, unsure.
His dad smiles. "I think you could convince him."
"Well, I mean, where do you want to sleep?" He asks, twisting his hands.
He hadn't actually thought he would agree.
Derek looks at the bed and back to him.
"What? Nuh! That's my bed!"
"Stiles, you're using about 1/18th of it. Less, probably."
"What, so where do I go?" He says angrily.
"I'll make you a bed."
"With what?" He counters.
Derek smirks. "Kitchen roll."
Derek laughs as Stiles bats at him with his tiny fists.
He ends up sleeping on the pillow.
Luckily, Derek doesn't fidget. He just presses his face into the gap between his pillow and his mattress and seems to pass out instantly.
The sheet falls down to reveal his bare back, the lean, corded muscles of his shoulder blades shifting as he gets comfortable.
Stiles punches his spot on the pillow, flopping down with a harsh sigh.
Derek doesn't seem to notice, his breaths even and deep.
Waking up with the ability to watch Derek's face, slack in sleep, peaceful and vulnerable, is the only good thing to come out of this whole situation.
Stiles spends a few minutes just looking sometimes. The way the morning sun filters into his window and ignites Derek's features, sharp but somehow softened.
He's never really appreciated the situating of his bedroom until now.
Nobody from the pack comments.
They don't even bat an eye to the fact that Stiles has latched onto Derek, and that Derek doesn't seem willing to let him go.
It's another week before anything happens.
They're outside, Stiles dozing in the summer heat on Derek's shoulder, head resting in the crook of his neck, Derek with his feet up on his scrappy lawn chair.
"Why did your dad want me to look after you?"
"Dunno." He says. "He worries. I think he just didn't want me to be alone while - this was happening."
"No." Derek begins. "Why did - he want me to help?"
Stiles frowns. "What do you mean?"
Derek sighs. "Never mind."
They have dinner afterwards, his dad telling them stories about the day, Stiles pitching in with his elaborate tales as the sheriff snorts into his pasta fondly.
Derek is quiet, nodding along but not joining the conversation.
Derek is gentle with him as he lowers him onto the bed, stepping in carefully and lying down.
Stiles immediately goes to curl up by his neck, lulled to sleep by the steady thrum of Derek's pulse, the feeling of his skin on Stiles' cheek.
He shifts, able to feel the tension Derek is holding on his body.
"Sleep." He murmurs, nuzzling closer.
There's no reply.
"Mm' dad wanted you to look after me because he likes you. He trusts you." He sighs, going boneless. "And he knows I trust you. 'S more than enough."
Stiles wakes up, and he - he sees his hands in front of him, in proportion to his surroundings, he pats down his body, joy rising in his throat.
"Derek!" He cries. "De - "
"What have you done?" A small, very surly voice says.
He laughs for nearing an hour.
"You - ah, ahaha, I can't, you - "
Derek's tiny arms are crossed over his tiny chest.
"Look at you!" He wriggles his finger at him.
"Would you put me down?"
He stops from where he had been walking towards the kitchen, Derek cupped in his hand.
"You want me to put you down?"
"On the floor."
"To be crushed by giant feet?"
"Y - Stiles, put me down, I'm not a toy!"
"Well, if the shoe fits."
"Why are you talking about shoes? This has nothing to do with shoes!"
He stares. Then he bursts out laughing.
"This isn't funny! You've done something!" Derek shouts.
Stiles sobers. "You think I did this to you?"
Derek clenches his little jaw, but stays resolute.
"Well Derek." He picks him up by the back of his shirt and places him on the counter worktop.
"I didn't get you into this mess, and I sure as hell won't get you out." Stiles says, then storms out.
He finds him half an hour later sitting on the worktop, his legs dangling over the edge.
"Ready to apologise?" He asks.
Even at this size he sees Derek's eyebrows furrow. "What?"
"I'll take you to Deaton."
Derek goes to stand.
"If you say sorry."
"For what?" He asks sharply.
"Fine. Sorry. There." He huffs like a child.
Stiles scoops him up, rolling his eyes fondly.
"Yes. Strange. It's the exact same thing." Deaton says.
Stiles is still flexing his hands, basking in the sensation of curling his toes in his sneakers.
"And it'll be a fortnight before I'm back to normal?" Derek deadpans.
"Cheer up!" Deaton teases. "Could be a lot worse. And I've definitely seen a lot worse."
"Did you do anything differently the night you changed back, Stiles? Anything that might help us now?"
He bites his lip. "Um." He glances at Derek's expectant expression before shaking his head. "No. Sorry."
Derek massages his temple.
It's another week of the same routine, only this time it's Stiles feeding Derek crumbs, shrinking his clothes and taking him onto his shoulder while Derek clings to his hair.
He feels the small tug now and again and grins, realising this is what Derek felt for those two weeks. He wonders why he never complained.
"Hey." He asks him a little while later, in bed with Derek curled up by his head. It feels so good so stretch out his legs and sigh blissfully with the freedom of it.
"Mm?" Derek grumbles. It's hilarious because he's only wearing a pair of Stiles' shrunken boxers and he doesn't even look anything but adorable. His tiny eyebrows are furrowed, though they still take up around a 1/4 of his face.
"Why didn't you ever get annoyed at how much I relied on you back then?"
Derek sits up, instantly taking it the wrong way. "Are you - are you angry about how much time in taking - "
"No, no, no." He waves a hand. "I'm meaning - usually you get annoyed by things, like people touching you, but I was hanging off your shoulder everyday and you never said anything."
Derek's shrugs, looking smaller somehow. "I don't know. I knew you needed my help I guess."
Stiles nods, eyes searching.
"I mean I didn't want to let you down, after how much trust you and your dad put in me."
"Mm." Stiles nods. "I was pretty helpless." He sobers suddenly. "You must really hate it - you don't like relying on anyone."
Derek shrugs again. "It's not so bad. I know I can trust you."
Stiles wakes up and.
He's being squashed.
He's lying flat on his stomach, a weight bearing down on him; someone's arms enclosed around his body with a leg separating his.
The arms tighten as he moves, and he feels something snuffle against the nape of his neck.
His heart hammers. "Derek?"
"Nnm." He huffs.
He tries to subtly shift his hips, to put some space between them, but the weight increases, Derek wedging himself so close that his pelvis jams against Stiles' left hipbone.
He stifles a gasp, feeling blood rush to his face. "Derek." He tries again.
He feels the way Derek wakens, feels the way he stretches languidly before nuzzling into his throat.
Stiles lifts his head, turning around slowly.
Derek stares with warm, crinkled eyes.
"Uh." He croaks.
Derek smiles, and leans in closer to touch the tip of his nose to Stiles' cheekbone. "Mm. I was just thinking about you."
Stiles blinks. "Wh - me?" He croaks. "As in - you were thinking about me?"
Derek chuckles lowly, rolling on top of him. His eyes are still half lidded, unfocused. "You're not normally so unresponsive."
His eyes widen. "Normal? This is - what."
Derek trails his mouth down the skin of Stiles throat, lightly grazing his teeth.
Stiles gasps, hips bucking unconsciously.
"Better." Derek murmurs. "Mm, you smell so - "
Suddenly he freezes.
His whole body becomes one whipcord line, his expression stiff and immovable.
"Derek?" Stiles asks.
Derek continues to stare at him.
Then suddenly he's backing away, desperately scrambling to the foot of the bed.
"Stiles." His voice is alert; not the lazy, slow drawl of before, it's quick, sharp. "I am so sorry."
"What?" He asks, more bewildered.
Which is quite a feat considering Derek is now normal sized and was quite literally kissing his neck.
You can imagine his levels of confusion.
"I had. No idea." Derek says slowly. "I thought I was asleep. I am very sorry - "
"What, you thought - you were dreaming about me?" Stiles squawks, his heartrate increasing tenfold.
Derek stares resolutely.
There really only is one way to find out the answer to this question.
He jumps across, bumping his mouth clumsily with Derek's.
Derek startles, but hands come to steady him, holding him gently, and Stiles takes that opportunity to card fingers through Derek's hair, pressing himself along Derek's body more firmly.
Derek's arms abruptly wind around his waist, his big hands splaying across his back and roving over his skin.
Stiles brings his knees up to plant them firmly at either side of Derek's hips, and sparks race down his spine as his groin presses against Derek's, suddenly desperate, eager for skin on skin, rucking up his shirt and sliding his hands to his hot, bare flesh.
Stiles feels the way he topples backwards, Derek coming to land on top of him, his weight bearing down.
Stiles must look diabolical - his whole body flushed, hair in a disarray, eyes wide and searching.
"I didn't - I thought you didn't feel that way." He manages eventually.
Derek rolls his eyes. "And what gave you that impression?" He asks.
"You told me."
"Oh, yes. From barely being able to explain before you shrunk right in front of my eyes, to looking after you for two weeks, keeping you close every second and worrying constantly that something would happen, to being shrunk myself and not letting go of you for a minute. Then waking up delirious thinking I was kissing you. Yes, I can see why that would give the impression I wasn't interested."
Stiles gapes. "But you - you never said."
"Because I didn't get a chance."
"But before that." He huffs, irritated.
"I." Derek swallows. "I don't know. I wanted to. I really wanted - " he shakes his head. "I just couldn't. I was scared."
"I know." He murmurs, and places his hand on Derek's side, comforting.
Derek suddenly colours. "Um. I should - "
"Yeah." He agrees quickly, suddenly realising they're both half-naked. He scratches the back of his neck, coughing. "Totally, we need to go see Deaton."
"Yeah." Derek says, moving back and standing.
The loss of his warmth, the slow steady heat of his body seeping into Stiles, makes him wake up fully, like a wash of cold water.
Derek stands for a moment by the foot of the bed, in his ruffled pyjama shorts, bedhead flat on one side, expression dazed and slightly lost.
Stiles wants to kiss him more than he's wanted anything in his whole life.
"Okay." Derek says and goes to the bathroom.
When they go to see Deaton, he blinks at them in surprise.
"So we're both back!"
After the standard medical test, they're given the all-clear, but Derek still looks worried.
"There's nothing that caused it?" He asks. "What if it happens again?"
Stiles bites his lip guiltily.
"Well, if you can tell me what you were doing at the time." Deaton suggests.
"I know what it was." Stiles interjects.
They both turn to him.
"When, uh, when I shrunk, it was because Derek - Derek was about to tell me he didn't feel the same way. He wasn't interested."
"I - " Derek starts.
"And I think I just panicked and my magic freaked."
"That doesn't explain why Derek shrunk."
Stiles blinks, and his mouth gapes wordlessly.
"I didn't - " he begins.
"What happened when you shrunk?" Deaton asks.
"I can't remember." Derek frowns. "But I mean, we were both kind of talking about our feelings when we went back to normal." He says, and coughs, cheeks red.
"We were talking - were were talking." Stiles frowns. "About how we trusted each other.
"I think I know what's happened." Deaton begins.
They both frown, looking over at him.
"I think, Derek, that it might've been you that caused this."
Derek scowls. "What?"
"Obviously we are all aware that this town isn't exactly normal." Deaton begins. "And I think, subconsciously, sometimes we're aware of our doubts and fears before we even realise them."
Stiles and Derek stare in bewilderment.
"I think the town knew that Derek only needed a push to realise how he felt about you, Stiles." Deaton says.
"What?" Stiles starts. "A push? I don't get it?"
"I think, Derek, that you needed to trust someone, and be trusted in." Deaton says. "The feeling of trusting somebody completely, handing yourself over to them, is not an easy feat. It was necessary for you to feel helpless, because it allowed you to fully understand how much you do in fact trust Stiles."
They stare mutely.
"But , more than that, you needed to experience someone's trust in you before you could allow yourself to admit to your feelings." Deaton carries on. "To have someone completely at your mercy, but to have them alright with that because they trust you. Because they know you and they have faith in you." Deaton smiles "That feeling is incomparable."
"Okay, you know what, we're doing this." Stiles says, arms held out and ready.
"Stiles." Derek begins. "I think you should know by now that I trust you."
"Nuh-uh, big guy. You have some serious issues we need to work through."
Derek rolls his eyes, huffing.
"Look at me dude." Stiles gestures down at himself. "Do you seriously think I could hurt you? I'm a hundred and forty seven pounds of pale skin and fragile bone, it's me or the floor."
"Well, now I seriously think you couldn't catch me." Derek states.
Stiles backs up theatrically. "Oh, really? You wanna try me? Why don't you just try me, c'mon lets go, I'll show you how tough - "
Derek falls backwards laughing.