The first date is, in Derek’s defense, a blind one. Lydia insists that her older sister, Emily, is exactly what Derek needs. He meets her at an upscale restaurant on the edge of Beacon Hills. She is a vivacious, wickedly smart woman with blazing red hair, a black dress that hugs her curves like a lover, and a smile that seems to say she’d rather be eating Derek than the overpriced meal he’d paid for. She leans forward through most of dinner, showing off her impressive cleavage, and spends a lot of time licking her lips. Derek feels like he’s being undressed from when the bread comes out until they finish dessert, Emily licking whipped cream off of her spoon and into her mouth slowly, her eyes locked on Derek’s the whole time.
He says goodbye to her awkwardly outside of the restaurant. She steps in close, trapping his suit jacket between thumb and forefinger and sliding her hand lazily downward. When she leans in, mouth slightly open and heading for his, eyes peeking out from underneath thick, dark lashes, he almost falls over trying to back up.
He excuses himself, spouting some fumbling attempt at an explanation, and then he flees, more afraid of Emily than he ever was of the Alpha pack, though he’ll never admit it.
Deucalion and his special brand of insanity are nothing compared to high heels and a woman who knows how to use them.
Of course, Lydia corners him at the next pack meeting to find out why, exactly, he had left her sister in the lurch. He mumbles something about coming on too strong, and she stomps off in a huff. The rest of the pack watches with wide eyes, and then Stiles starts laughing. Derek frowns, then makes them run drills for the next hour. They’re all panting and slick with sweat when they’re finished. He hides a grin when Stiles stumbles over to his Jeep, limp with exhaustion.
Of course, the next date he goes on doesn’t get any better.
He meets the guy, Bruce, at Jungle. He buys Derek a drink and slips his number over on the napkin that comes with it. Bruce is tall and lean, with long fingers that wrap around his beer bottle in a way that screams of mind-erasing sex. He’s got laugh lines around his mouth and eyes, and when they dance together, he grinds against Derek just right.
They meet for drinks and a movie, and that’s when Derek starts to notice something is off. Bruce keeps checking his phone, then looking towards the door, and the whole time, he smells like tension and uncertainty. Derek does his best to put him at ease, but it seems to do the opposite. After about twenty minutes, Bruce is almost vibrating in his seat, he’s so tense.
Derek’s about to just ask him outright what’s wrong when the door bursts open, and a beast of a man comes barreling towards where Derek and Bruce are sitting. He’s easily six-and-a-half feet tall, towering over Derek, and outweighs him by at least fifty pounds of muscle.
“What the fuck are you doing with my boyfriend?” he growls, grabbing Derek by the collar and lifting him up until his toes are barely touching the ground.
If he weren’t a werewolf, he’d be worried.
“Just having a drink,” he says, wrapping his hands around the guy’s wrist. He lets his claws come out, just a bit, and digs in until the guy drops Derek.
“Fuck off,” he says, shoving Derek away. “I see you panting after him again, we’re gonna have a problem.”
He turns to Bruce, who is positively glowing and stinking of arousal and adrenaline. The guy grabs Bruce by his waist and pulls him close, growling against his mouth before diving in for a heated kiss.
Derek sighs, grabs his drink, and finishes it in one long pull. He tosses at ten dollar bill on the bartop, then leaves.
Stiles asks about the small tear in his shirt when they meet up to investigate the sightings of what Stiles keeps insisting must be a Yeti, but Derek ignores him.
The third date, he almost doesn’t go. Jess is a nice girl, good looking and funny, but he’s known her for awhile and never really thought of her as more than a friend. Still, when she suggests that they grab sushi some night, he shrugs and goes with it. They have a quiet dinner. The food’s good, the company’s not terrible, and Derek doesn’t really feel much of a spark. They hug outside the restaurant, and Derek considers it over and done with.
Of course, when she shows up outside of his apartment a week later with a bouquet of flowers that’s almost bigger than she is, he realizes that he must have missed something along the way.
He tries to let her down easy, but she’s in tears by the end of the conversation (he’s never been good with emotions and empathy and it shows in the tracks her mascara leaves on her face) and dashes off to her car, the flowers left in a pile on his doorstep. He brings them inside - no reason to waste them - and puts them in half of a wine bottle.
Stiles drops by a few days later to return a book, sees the flowers, and starts cracking jokes.
“I didn’t take you for the flowers kind of guy,” he says, leaning in to smell the bouquet. “Doesn’t the smell get to you?”
“Not really,” Derek says, taking the battered spellbook from Stiles.
“Who’re they from?” Stiles rearranges some of the flowers, pulling off a few dead leaves from the accompanying greenery.
“Just a friend,” Derek says, trying to get Stiles to just leave. Stiles grins instead.
“Looks like someone is getting courted. Is he going to take you to the grand ball next weekend? Do we need to get your valet to make sure your cravat is properly starched and tied up in the latest fashion?”
“She,” Derek growls, pushing Stiles out of the way and grabbing the flowers. “And no.”
He tosses the whole thing into the trash, flowers sticking out haphazardly.
“I’ll be surprised if she talks to me again,” he mutters, pushing the flowers further into the trash.
“Dude, you seriously need to lighten up.” Stiles says. He leans against the counter, still grinning.
“I was just joking anyway. So you had a date go south, no biggie. Plenty of fish in the sea and all that.”
“I don’t like fish,” Derek sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Are you done here? Do you need anything else?”
“I think I do, Sourwolf.” He looks around the kitchen, then grabs the pad of paper Derek keeps near the sink. He quickly scribbles something down, tears the sheet off, and stuffs it into Derek’s front pocket. Derek feels a rush of heat spread through his body from where Stiles’ hand presses against his leg, and he quickly moves away, trying to hide his body’s reaction.
“I’m taking you on a date,” Stiles says, heading towards the door and pointing at Derek. “And I’m going to make sure you have a good time. That’s the place and the time, don’t be late.”
He leaves, the door slamming shut behind him, and Derek feels entirely too off center for such a simple statement.
The evening starts out well enough. Derek takes a shower, then spends too long on making his hair stand up just right. He’s wearing a grey dress shirt, black slacks, and he can’t decide if he should wear the jacket that goes with the outfit. He ends up throwing on his old leather jacket instead, hoping that he doesn’t look too put together and Stiles figures out that this date means a bit more to Derek than it should.
They apparently have reservations at one of the nicer restaurants in town, and Derek’s stomach is a clench of nerves as he gets into his car. He’s never seen Stiles dressed up, and he can’t tell if he’s excited or terrified to see what Stiles will look like put together and not wearing a dirty hoodie or his lacrosse sweats.
He’s about ten minutes away from the restaurant when the Camaro lurches, then sputters and dies. Derek can hear something clanking alarmingly from under the hood as he pulls to the side of the road and turns on the hazards. When he pops the hood release, a cloud of smoke and steam comes billowing out, and he groans, leaning his head against the steering wheel and praying it’s worse than it looks.
When he’s elbow-deep in the engine, and he sees the piston where it’s broken through the engine casing, he remembers that everything in his life is a tragedy. He’s got grease smeared across his forearms and hands, and his shirt is stuck to his chest with sweat and steam, and everything is absolutely ruined. He’s frowning so hard his face hurts when he texts Stiles.
Car broke down. Rain check?
He sighs before hitting send, then sits on the hood of the Camaro, unhappy and frustrated. His phone buzzes a moment later.
hell no. where u at?
Derek texts Stiles his general location, and has to fight to keep his grin to a minimum when Stiles texts back that he’s on his way. Derek calls a tow truck while he waits.
Stiles pulls up in his Jeep, looking too much like a knight in shining armor for Derek’s comfort. He’s wearing a bright red dress shirt and charcoal grey vest, with dark jeans. He leans out the window, grinning at Derek.
“Hey, hot stuff. You looking for a date?”
“Shut up,” Derek grumbles, climbing into the passenger seat. He can feel Stiles looking him over, and he shivers at the phantom touch.
“I don’t think they’re going to let you in, man. Not that that look isn’t working for you, it totally is, but there’s a dress code and shit.”
Derek nods, rolling his sleeves back down his arms. They’re noticeably brighter from the elbow down.
“Whatever you want to do, Stiles. It’s your date.”
Stiles hums, then taps his fingers against the steering wheel. He’s biting his lip, and Derek’s never wanted to be someone else’s teeth before now.
“That drive-in outside of town is open tonight. You up for a double feature?” Stiles asks, eyes wide and hopeful.
Derek nods, then buckles himself in.
Derek pays for their tickets - he’s a gentleman, after all - and Stiles pays for greasy hamburgers and a huge serving of fries. They park towards the back of the lot, surrounded by sweaty teenagers and giggling girls and families with little kids. Stiles pulls the top of the Jeep off, letting in the cooler night air, and tunes the radio to the drive-in’s channel. Stiles balances the fries on a tray on the center console, reaching over occasionally to snag one or two. Tinny advertisements fill the cabin while Stiles and Derek eat, the silence stretching until it’s almost awkward, but it never quite gets there.
Stiles tosses his hamburger wrapper into the back of the Jeep and wipes his hands on his jeans. Derek follows the path of Stiles’ fingers longingly, and then wonders what the hell is wrong with him.
“So, this is usually the part of the date where I share endearing stories of my childhood so I can butter them up for later, but you already know most of my endearing stories-”
“I don’t think that means what you think it means,” Derek interrupts.
“I’m going to ignore that, rude, so I guess it’s just small talk until the movie starts?”
Stiles leans back, pressing his back into the space between the door and his seat and lifts his leg onto the center console. He rests his arm against it, and he’s so open and inviting and loose, Derek feels lust hit like a punch to the gut. He breathes through his nose in a slow draw, trying to calm his racing pulse.
“How’s college?” He asks instead of What do I need to do to get my hands on you?
“Oh, same-old, same-old.” Stiles says, shrugging. “Still haven’t figured out what I’m going to major in, but I don’t have to declare until I’m a junior, so I’ve got time. I’ve got this one prof, though, Professor Cline, who is kicking my ass. Seriously, he takes absolutely no shit from anyone.”
Stiles goes on to tell Derek a story of some kid who’d bullshitted an assignment and been reamed out in class about it, then segues into a story about a drunk guy who went running around his dorm naked for twenty minutes, and then another story and another until the lights dim and the previews begin.
The double-feature is Wreck-It Ralph and Up, and Derek has to admit, he’s actually looking forward to the movies. He’s not usually one to enjoy cartoons, but he’s always had a soft spot for Pixar since watching Toy Story on repeat for three days straight with Laura when he was a kid.
Stiles laughs his way through the first movie, leaning across the center console to whisper inside jokes to Derek (“They’re in Quik sand, get it?”) and snagging fries from the tray. Their hands brush a time or two, and Derek does his best not to linger. Stiles gets teary eyed when Ralph starts saying the bad guy affirmation as he’s falling, and whoops loudly when Vanelope saves him just in time.
Derek is enraptured. It’s the only way he can think to describe the pull he feels, the only way he can explain how his pulse races and his breath stutters in his lungs. He’s fascinated by the way Stiles’ eyes crinkle at the edges when he smiles, the slight upturn of his mouth, the way his head tilts back just-so when he’s laughing. Derek wants to feel that laugh under his mouth, wants to taste Stiles’ happiness.
It’s overwhelming, and it’s why Derek’s never asked Stiles on a date. It’s why he’s always tried to keep a friendly distance. Because if this thing that is burning in his chest ever gets free, and Stiles doesn’t have the same want in him, Derek doesn’t know how he’ll get over it.
Stiles grins his way through the credits, then gathers the empty tray up.
“I’m gonna go get this cleaned up. You want anything from concessions?”
Derek shakes his head no, but gets out of the Jeep anyway. It’s gotten chillier, just enough for his damp shirt to be uncomfortable, and Derek puts the top back on the Jeep while Stiles walks towards the concession stand at the base of the movie screen. Everything snaps into place without any trouble, and then Derek is sitting in the Jeep by himself, wondering how to pass the time until Stiles’ gets back.
He looks around the Jeep, making note of the various wrappers loitering in the back. There’s a textbook lying face down amid the twisted remains of fast food burgers, and he twists around, leaning over to grab it. He has to get onto the center console and lean over, the seat biting into his abs, in order to reach the book. When he comes back up, the book clenched triumphantly in hand, Stiles is standing in front of the Jeep, mouth slightly open and eyes glassy. Derek frowns, and Stiles shakes himself, then gets into the driver’s seat.
“Sorry, guess I didn’t think about what you’d do while I was gone.” He nods towards the textbook.
“I read that last semester for a psych class. It’s pretty interesting. You can borrow it, if you’d like.”
Derek looks down at the book and finally reads the title.
Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships
There’s a couple entwined on the cover, and Derek almost can’t believe it’s not a Harlequin romance rather than a textbook. He can feel heat rush to his face and hopes that Stiles can’t see the blush.
“Yeah, I’ll take a look.” He mumbles. He stuffs the book into the space between the door and seat and wonders how long it will take him to die of embarrassment.
Stiles hums, then takes a sip from the milkshake he’s brought back. It’s chocolate, and Derek watches Stiles do something absolutely obscene with his mouth to the straw. Derek shifts uncomfortably. He prays that it’s dark enough that Stiles won’t notice.
“So, what’ve you been up to while we’ve all been at school?” Stiles asks, the straw still tucked into his mouth. He takes a strong sip, his cheeks hollowing out, and Derek forgets that Stiles had asked a question for a moment.
“Uh, not much. I’m almost finished with the last renovations at the house. Isaac’s going to come help me get everything moved in at the end of the semester.”
“That’s awesome,” Stiles says, beaming. “You’re gonna have to let me get a look at the place before everything’s moved in. I bet it still smells like sawdust in there.”
Derek nods, throat dry and body aching. He wants to snatch the milkshake out of Stiles’ hands, stop the infuriatingly tempting play of lips and tongue. Wants to replace the straw with his fingers. He gives himself a mental shake. He sighs loudly and leans back into his seat, thankful that the next movie is starting.
Stiles gets teary eyed during the intro, cradling the milkshake in both hands as Carl mourns Ellie.
“I don’t think I could handle it,” he mutters. “Losing someone like that. Not again.”
Derek nods, his own throat tight with remembered grief. They share a look of understanding and commiseration, then go back to the movie. Derek is somewhat surprised when he feels Stiles’ hand against his. He turns his palm up, and Stiles slips his fingers between Derek’s. It’s warm and comforting, and even though it’s offered in friendship and shared pain, Derek feels a spark race up his arm and into his heart.
He squeezes Stiles’ fingers and leaves his hand where it is.
Stiles is quiet throughout the whole movie (with one exception, where he jokes that Derek needs a collar like Dug’s, only for his eyebrows) and keeps his hand locked with Derek’s.
The credits start rolling, and Derek is surprised at how sad he is that the date is coming to an end. Stiles pulls his hand away and switches the radio to a local top-40 station, then starts the Jeep’s engine. He gets the car in gear and pulls out slowly, silent the whole time.
Derek breaks the silence first as they pass his Camaro back into town.
“I had... This was...” He sighs, then rubs his palms against his pants, hands suddenly moist.
Stiles grins, just a flash of white in the darkness.
“Welcome. Everyone deserves at least one good date, man.”
“You wouldn’t believe the nightmare the other ones were.” Derek says. He leans back into the seat. “This was a cakewalk comparatively.”
“Even with the car?”
“Even with the car. And I’m going to need a whole new engine for the thing.”
Stiles laughs, then turns up the road towards Derek’s apartment. They sit in companionable silence, Stiles singing softly along with the radio in a pleasant tenor. Stiles pulls into a spot in front of Derek’s apartment, then leaves the Jeep idling.
Derek doesn’t know quite what to do now, but the air is thick and tense around him. He hears Stiles’ shift, and Derek turns to face him. Stiles smiles timidly, then leans over the center console and presses a quick kiss to Derek’s lips.
“This was fun,” he says, flushing.
Derek is stunned. His pulse is racing and he’s frozen in his seat, the ghost of Stiles’ breath against his lips stealing his voice. Stiles starts to fidget, looking more and more uncomfortable as the seconds tick away.
Derek reaches a hand out, wraps it around Stiles’ neck and pulls him back, kissing him deep and long and hard. Stiles’ gasps, and Derek slips his tongue in, tasting chocolate and Stiles. Derek’s hands are shaking where they’re wrapped around Stiles’ neck, but he’s too focused on the kiss to really notice.
When they pull apart, they’re both panting. Stiles’ eyes are glassy, his cheeks flushed. Derek just grins.
Stiles’ smile tastes like love.