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I Ran (So Far)

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The chemistry formulas were literally moving around the page, dancing like little number-and-letter couples across the book. They danced the tango of Stiles’ frustration and inevitable failure, because if he didn’t concentrate and study, he would never pass his final.

It felt weird to be worrying about a chemistry final – or any final, really – after the past year. After Gerard and the Kanima, things went mostly back to normal. Mostly because, well, Scott was still a werewolf, and so was Jackson, and Isaac, and Erica, Boyd…basically, everyone. Yep, everyone still werewolves. But Jackson was gone, and Erica and Boyd were missing, so it was really just Scott and Isaac and Derek. Derek was still around, but less than usual these days. Stiles was pretty sure it’d been two weeks, maybe three, since he’d seen him. He was okay with that; seeing Derek always meant shit was happening, and Stiles liked that shit wasn’t happening.

Stiles was starting to wonder if just maybe, perhaps, he should chunk his 15 year plan of getting Lydia to fall in love with him. Since Jackson had gone, she wasn’t the same; besides, although completely absent now, Jackson was still a werewolf and like the love of Lydia’s life or something, and if Stiles had learned anything over the past months, it was that you can’t compete with a werewolf. Well, if you were a human. A werewolf could compete with a werewolf, but –

Stiles shook his head. Focus. Chemistry formulas. Passing his classes. He picked up his pencil and stared at the page again, tapping the end erratically against the desk. Fifteen minutes and two problems later, he decided he was sick of the chemistry formula dance marathon and threw his pencil across the room. It hit the wall and bounced, hitting him in the cheek. Of course.

He ran his hands over his head and shot up from his chair. He grabbed his cellphone from the bed and called Scott. He needed a distraction.

“What’s up?” Scott answered.

“Dude, I’m going freaking insane here. My chemistry book has turned into a freaky dance club for reactants, and even thinking about chemicals hooking up can’t make stoichiometry any more interesting.”

“Stoy key, what?”

Stiles groaned. “Have you studied at all? You’ve got to pass if you want – “

“I know, Stiles! You don’t have to tell me every day. I’m studying now.”

“You are?”

“Don’t sound so surprised.”

“So, I guess that means you don’t want to go get some food, or play video games, or generally be worthless?” Stiles dropped onto the bed, disappointed.

“Wish I could. Besides, you’re supposed to be encouraging me to study, not goof off.”

After Stiles hung up with Scott, he realized he had no one else to call. And how lame was that? He was alone, in more ways than one.

So, he sighed, picked his pencil up from the floor, and went back to staring at the formulas.

*

Stiles passed his finals, all with A’s, actually. Somehow, he’d managed to help his best friend through that awkward teenage phase of turning into a werewolf, helped save the town and his friends multiple times, and did it all while maintaining good grades.

He knew it. He was a BAMF.

So, with this new found confidence, he waltzed up to Lydia on the last day of school. She slammed the locker shut.

“What do you want?” she asked.

He was taken aback, but didn’t miss a step. “Wanna go do something? Last day of school and all. We could – “

“Stiles,” she said, smiling and putting her hand on his shoulder. Her hand was warm and she smelled like peaches. “I know that when I was freaking out about everything that I found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel, which explains why I ended up in your bedroom for some reason, but that was a freak thing.” She dropped her hand and turned. “Besides, I’m going to a party tonight.” Without another word, she walked down the hall, her hair and skirt bouncing with each step.

Stiles ignored the feeling inside his chest and walked towards the parking lot. He found Scott and Isaac standing by his jeep.

“How did it go?” Scott asked.

Stiles glared at him. “You already know, so why are you even asking?”

“Because you hate it when I use my werewolf senses to assume stuff.”

“Get in the fucking car.”

“It went that bad, huh?” Isaac said, climbing into the back. “So, what are we doing tonight?” he asked, sticking his head between the two seats.

“I wanna get drunk,” Stiles answered. “So fucking drunk I forget about all of this.”

“We can’t get drunk,” Isaac said.

“I know that,” Stiles snapped.

“We can go with you,” Scott offered helpfully, smiling.

“No,” Stiles said, cranking the car. “It was a stupid idea anyway.”

“Let’s go play paintball,” Scott suggested.

“Pitting myself against two werewolves with guns pointed at me,” Stiles said, “Why not?”

*

“I’m so sorry,” Scott said when they got back in the car. “I didn’t know it would hit you that hard.”

“I was only standing a few feet in front of you!” Stiles exclaimed.

“Come on,” Isaac said, nudging his shoulder gently with his hand, “Admit it. You had fun.”

Stiles tried not to smile, but it didn’t work. He broke out into a grin. “Fine. It was fucking awesome. It would just be more fucking awesome if you two didn’t come with superpowers. That’s like cheating, you know.”

“Just means you’ll have to be better,” Isaac said, dropping back against the seat.

“Oh sure,” Stiles said, “I’ll just make sure to go figure out how to train for werewolf paintball.”

“Excellent,” Isaac grinned. Stiles rolled his eyes.

*

Summer wasn’t supposed to be this boring. It was supposed to be awesome, but he found himself more often than not sitting around the house in his boxers, eating Cheetos, and watching reality TV.

It was definitely a place Stiles didn’t like to be in.

But there wasn’t anything to do. Scott was with Derek and the pack training or something – doing things that didn’t require humans or research. So, that left Stiles alone with no one but the real housewives.

It was times like these that Stiles was jealous of Scott being a werewolf. Not that he wanted to be a werewolf – sure, it’d be nice to have the abilities to help his friends when they were in trouble, but for the most part, Stiles liked being plain old human. But he sometimes missed Scott the Human, because Scott the Werewolf always had other things going on. And those things usually interfered with Stiles’ life somehow. He couldn’t even enjoy his winning moment at the Lacrosse championship because of the werewolf crap. And what did he get out of it? Beat up for no reason. And no one even cared. Especially not Scott, who was too busy worrying about Allison to notice that her psycho grandpa had beat the shit out of him.

No one cared that sometimes Stiles had nightmares where he was locked in that basement with Boyd and Erica, getting beat and bloodied, or even electrocuted, and he woke up on those nights soaked with sweat. No one cared that sometimes he thought his legs were going numb and reached behind him to touch his neck, just in case. No one cared that sometimes he still felt like he was drowning, that he hadn’t taken that reflex breath because he was just waiting for the moment when it would all come crashing down and be over.

It’s not like Stiles couldn’t handle it, or was falling apart – he wasn’t going to pull a Lydia and end up naked in the forest or writing backwards on the chalkboard (at least he hoped to hell not). It’s just…that shit was real, and he was still processing. It was normal; he looked it up online.

He just wished sometimes there was someone there who would listen to him. Listen to him without interrupting, or comparing it to what’s happened to them, or turning it around and making it about them.

Stiles wasn’t stupid. Another axe would fall, and they’d have something else to deal with, there’d be other nightmares, and he’d keep processing. But he was just plain old human; it took him longer to heal.

So, like the trooper he was, he just shoved another Cheeto in his mouth.

*

“Stiles?” He paused the video game and looked up at his dad, standing in the doorway. “You okay, son?”

“Perfectly peachy,” he responded, plastering a too-wide grin on his face. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“It’s just…” His father stepped further into the room, his face scrunched like he was trying to find the right words. “You haven’t exactly been yourself.” He sat on the edge of the bed. “Anything you want to talk about?”

I’ve almost died a zillion times in the past few months, all my friends are werewolves, I was locked in a basement and beaten, I had to helplessly watch as you almost died, I have no friends, I miss Scott, I miss Mom, I miss you… His mind ran through the things he could say, and the funny thing is he wanted to say them. His father still looked at him with disappointment, and it crushed Stiles each time he saw it reflected in his father’s eyes. Maybe he could mend fences by talking to his dad. Maybe he could explain why he’d been lying so often.

Instead, Stiles shrugged. “Like what?”

“Things okay with Scott?”

“We’re great. Two peas in a pod, really.”

“Hasn’t seemed like that lately.”

“Well, we’re more like two peas swimming around in pea soup. He’s busy, and totally not over Allison, so I think he spends most of his time moping and writing bad love poetry hoping she’ll take him back.”

His father didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t press it. “So, you’re good?”

“I’m cool, cool as a cucumber.”

“You can talk to me, you know. If you ever need to.”

“I know, Dad.” Stiles smiled, genuine this time. Maybe this was the first step to mending the fences, fixing what was wrong between them. Because Stiles thought something had to go right in his life at some point. Maybe this would be the thing, and if that’s all he got, making things right with his dad was a-okay with him. But as he watched his dad’s back disappear through the door, he knew that would take awhile.

*

Scott had been helping Stiles practice Lacrosse a few times a week, but it wasn’t enough. He was improving – he was pretty sure the boost of confidence and Scott’s acquiescence to finally stop using his werewolf powers were helping – but he wanted to do more. Plus, if he didn’t get off the couch and stop eating Cheetos, he was going to end up looking like a hippo charging on the field.

So, Stiles started running. He didn’t know why he didn’t think of it sooner. That first day, the moment his feet hit the ground, music blaring in his ears, he focused in a way he hadn’t in years. He concentrated on his breathing, the burn in his thighs, the tensing of his shoulders, the pressure on his calves. His eyes darted randomly across the landscape: down, up, left, right – ground covered in dirt and grass, sky obscured by trees, low-lying shrubs to his right, pines and oaks to his left.

And he just kept running. His feet pounded the ground, but it felt good, like with each strike of his foot against the ground he was releasing frustration, fear, anger, and stress. He never even knew he was a good runner. He always thought running was for poor chaps who ran cross-country or were chased by bad guys in horror films.

He actually smiled. He’d been chased by his fair share of monsters, so maybe this was inevitable. Maybe if he trained hard enough, he could outrun the next thing that was chasing him. Except a werewolf; you couldn’t outrun a werewolf.

Stiles was running alongside a creek on a dirt path in the Beacon Hills Preserve. Dusk was growing closer, but Stiles wasn’t ready to stop, so he kept on pushing himself. His chest was hurting slightly, and his legs were on fire, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad feeling. His heart was racing, faster than it may have ever beat before – Stiles wasn’t so sure it wasn’t going to just beat right out of his chest.

He was sprinting across a long, flat section when something grabbed him from behind. It stopped him so suddenly that he tripped and fell face forward. He braced himself as his face rushed towards the ground, but something prevented him and spun him around as Stiles screamed.

A hand covered his mouth. “Shut up.”

Stiles stopped screaming and wiggled in the grasp to look over his shoulder. It was Derek. Red eyes scanned the woods intently as he inhaled. Finally, he let Stiles go and turned hard eyes on him.

“What are you doing?” Stiles exclaimed, pulling his headphones from his ears. “You almost gave me a fucking heart attack!”

“Are you okay?” Derek scanned the woods again, his eyes returning to normal.

“I was until some psycho-wolf assaulted me. Which, by the way, was totally not cool and uncalled for. What’s your damage?”

“I thought you were in trouble,” Derek answered, looking, Stiles thought, just a bit embarrassed.

“Why would I be in trouble?” Stiles asked between breaths. Now that he had stopped and his adrenaline was coming down, he was trying to recover his breath. It wasn’t working that well. He bent over and braced himself on his thighs, trying to breathe in and out in a controlled manner.

“I smelled you,” Derek explained.

“Ew,” Stiles managed. “Dude, that’s gross. I’m, like, covered in ten gallons of sweat and haven’t showered in two days.”

“Then maybe that’s why I could smell you,” Derek retorted. Stiles opened his mouth to respond, but instead, he glared at Derek. “You’re never in the woods, and your heart rate was accelerated, you were in pain, and you seemed stressed.”

“Maybe because I’ve been running for miles,” Stiles explained, straightening up. He could almost breathe like a normal person.

“But, you don’t run,” Derek pointed out, confused.

“People can get new hobbies,” Stiles snapped. “Geez, if I’d known it was going to be this big of a deal, I’d have called you first. Want me to give you my workout schedule? That way you can coordinate your nose accordingly?”

Derek glared as Stiles took a few more breaths. “Are you still recovering?”

“Plain old human, here. Don’t have that crazy supernatural stamina or the ability to run on all fours like an animal. Just have the two legs,” Stiles pointed down to his legs, “which are honestly pretty fucking skinny and undermuscled.” He looked at Derek. “I’m pretty sure you have more muscle mass in your pinky than I do in my whole body.”

Derek extended his pinky and flicked it towards Stiles, who jumped. “Go back to your run.” He turned to go, and Stiles followed him.

“I thought you and Scott and the other wolves were learning how to be ninjas or some shit.” Stiles wasn’t really sure why he was following Derek. Okay, so he did know why he was following Derek. He was lonely, and – god help him – he was so lonely that talking to Derek Hale seemed like a good idea.

Perhaps he needed to go home and rethink his life.

“We were. We finished.”

Stiles waited, but Derek didn’t say anything else. Man of many words, this one was. “So, what are you doing in the forest then?”

Derek looked down at him, but Stiles couldn’t find the look too intimidating. The man had just saved him from cardiovascular health, for pete’s sake. Scary stuff.

“Canvasing.”

“For what?”

“Anything.”

“Basically, you were doing nothing. And just happened to run into me. That’s comforting.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Why the sudden interest in running?”

“Well, if you haven’t noticed, I have been chased by all sorts of things over the last year. Thought maybe I could improve my chances of survival.” Stiles tripped over an exposed root, and Derek immediately reached out to steady him. “I’ll tackle how to defeat roots next week.”

The corner of Derek’s mouth twitched. “You were stressed.”

“Running is stressful.” Derek shot him a dubious look. “Maybe not for you, but it is for me.” He still didn’t look convinced. “What do you want me to say?”

“What do you want to say?”

Stiles felt a strange compulsion to tell Derek everything, tell him about everything he’d been feeling for the past few months. But before he went down that particular road of crazy, he shook his head.

“Nothing.”

Derek studied him closely for a moment before turning his attention forward. And Stiles, for some crazy reason, kept following him.

*

Stiles considered not running through the preserve again just in case Derek was there, sweat stalking him. But, he liked the trail. He liked it much more than running through the neighborhoods, along the sidewalks, on the pavement. Being in the woods gave Stiles much more to focus on, so he ran along the same paths as before.

It shouldn’t have startled him, but when he realized there was someone just behind him, he jumped and screamed. It was, of course, Derek.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack? Because if not, you’re doing a really bad job of it,” Stiles yelled as he pulled his headphones off his head.

“Are you always this jumpy?” Derek asked. Stiles was panting, red-faced, and sweaty; Derek was the picture of composure. He was wearing close-fitting shorts and no shirt. Stiles inwardly rolled his eyes. Derek never missed an opportunity to make the rest of the world feel inferior with his perfectly sculpted body. Stiles felt even more like some athletic wannabe in his oversized t-shirt and baggy, dated gym shorts.

“When you’re being creepy, yeah. And just for the record, randomly appearing in the middle of the woods while I’m running? Creepy.”

“I was running, just like you,” Derek explained.

“Fine. Now, you keep running your way and I’ll keep running my way. Nice seeing you again.” Stiles pulled his headphones back on and started running. Derek was right beside him. Stiles stopped, and Derek stopped. He pulled the headphones away. “What are you doing?”

“Running my way.”

“No, you’re running my way.”

“There’s only one path.”

Stiles tried to come up with an argument to refute his logic, but failed. He was hot, tired, and Derek Hale was standing half-naked in front of him wanting to run with him. What an odd day this had turned out to be.

“Fine. You can run beside me.”

“How generous, Stiles, allowing me to run alongside you in a preserve you don’t even own,” Derek deadpanned.

“Was…Did I just detect sarcasm?” Stiles asked, bewildered.

“I am capable of using it from time to time,” Derek replied. He just looked amused, which Stiles found oddly compelling, and highly disturbing.

“Really? I thought that had somehow gotten left out of your genetic makeup, like your ability for emotion, gaining fat, and being able to speak in sentences longer than a tweet.”

“Not all of us suffer from an incontrollable urge to ramble about nothing.”

“Wow, sarcasm twice in one conversation. I’m impressed, Derek.”

“Are you going to toss wit around, or are you going to run?” Derek asked impatiently.

“Running now.”

“By the way,” Derek said as Stiles replaced his headphones, “I really like that song.”

Stiles almost asked how he knew what song he was listening to, but then figured it out. He rolled his eyes as Derek raised an eyebrow.

*

“Running alongside a werewolf is so not fair,” Stiles said, bent over and trying not to puke everywhere. He’d been running with Derek every day this week, and today, for some reason, he’d felt the need to run faster. Every time Stiles ran faster, Derek ran faster, until Stiles’ eyes were blurry and head fuzzy. “Would you eat my lung if I threw it up?”

“What?” Derek exclaimed. “I don’t eat human body parts.”

“That one werewolf did. The Omega.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry; your lung is safe.”

“Good,” Stiles breathed, inhaling deeply and trying to stop his head from spinning. “Very reassuring.”

“I think I’ve found the perfect way to shut you up.” Stiles looked up, sweat streaming down his face, at Derek standing a few feet away, his arms crossed over his bare chest, grinning.

“I hate you so much.” Stiles dropped to the ground. He was pretty sure he was never going to move again. “Running with me is unfair. I’ll never to be able to run as fast as you.”

Derek leaned against a tree. “You’ve done a fairly good job the last few days.”

Stiles pointed his finger. “You’ve been holding back; I know you have. Today we ran like five times as fast and you didn’t even get winded.”

“It wasn’t five times faster.”

“Maybe not for you.”

“Quit your whining, Stiles. Or I will eat your lung.”

“Creepy again.” Derek snorted. Stiles stared at the ground as he panted, then asked suddenly, “Why are you here?”

“We’re running.”

“I know that, but I mean, why are you running with me? It can’t be fun with me. You’d have much more fun with one of the pack members. At least they can keep up with you. Running with me must be like strolling in the park.”

“You’re not that slow,” Derek responded.

“Oh thanks, that makes me feel so much better.” Stiles’ head was beginning to feel better, his limbs gaining a bit of strength. He kept his eyes trained on Derek as he waited for him to answer the question.

Finally, Derek shrugged. “It beats sitting around all day with nothing to do.”

“Great,” Stiles mumbled as he struggled to get up. He felt his face go red in embarrassment as his legs and arms shook. There was no way Derek missed that; at least he had the common decency not to say anything. “I’m one up from staring at the wall. Just perfect.”

“Stiles,” Derek said, pushing himself off the tree, “that’s not what I meant.”

“No,” Stiles said, shaking his head, though as soon as he did that, realized it was a bad idea since the world spun just a bit. “It’s okay. I get it. My own best friend doesn’t want to spend time with me, so why should a random stranger.”

“Is that how you think of me?” Derek asked. It was the last thing Stiles expected to hear him say. He flicked his eyes towards Derek, the look on his face unreadable.

“I…um…fuck, I don’t know, Derek. What are we? Friends? Acquaintances? Frenemies? Running buddies?” Stiles wasn’t sure where this conversation had come from or why they were having it. Maybe he had passed out and it was all a dream.

Derek shrugged. “You tell me.”

Stiles groaned in frustration. “Do you ever actually answer a question? You must be the most frustrating man on this planet. And that includes Scott and Jackson.” Derek just stared at him, and Stiles said, “Friends, I guess. Do you even have friends?”

“Friends,” Derek said, ignoring the question yet again.

“Fine, we’re friends. I’ll go home and make us friendship bracelets tonight.”

“Promise?” Derek asked, smirking.

“If I can make it home. Fucking human legs.”

“Come on,” Derek said, walking along the path. “We’ll walk the rest of the way.”

*

Scott called after Stiles got home and wanted to go play paintball again. Although Stiles wasn’t sure his body was up for any physical activity – he was sore and worn out from all the running – he hadn’t seen Scott in a couple of days. And he promised it would just be the two of them, no Isaac.

“What have you been doing?” Stiles asked as he drove across town.

“Derek’s had us practicing different techniques for controlling and mastering our abilities, and we’ve been doing these crazy training sessions. Isaac actually broke my collarbone yesterday.”

“Ah!” Stiles exclaimed. “What in the hell is Derek making you do?”

“It’s actually helpful. We’re learning how to embrace the pain as we heal so we can keep fighting.”

“So, basically, torture?” Stiles joked.

“What have you and Derek been doing?” Scott asked.

Stiles almost wrecked the jeep he was so surprised at the question. “What – what do you mean, what have me and Derek been doing?” His heart was racing and he felt his cheeks grow hot. No way he was getting out of this one. Scott may be less observant than some of the other werewolves in the group, but he’d still be able to pick up on Stiles’ sudden change. He was pretty much holding a blinking neon sign over his head.

“I know you two have been around one another almost every day this week,” Scott explained. “I can smell you on him.” Stiles turned to Scott, wide-eyed and horrified. “Not like, on him, on him. I mean…shit, I can just smell that you’ve been around him. Though,” Scott paused, tilting his head as he looked at Stiles, “I do smell quite a bit of sweat…”

“Running!” Stiles exclaimed, trying to maintain control on the jeep. “We’re just running! Geez! Get your mind out of the gutter, Scott.”

“Running? Why in the hell would you be running? And with Derek?”

“Why does everyone find it so odd that I’m running? Can’t a guy care about heart health without everyone giving him the third degree?” Stiles exclaimed.

“Why are you getting so upset?”

“I’m not upset!” Stiles yelled, then realized that maybe, yeah, he was upset. “Fuck, sorry, Scott.”

“Are you okay?” Scott asked.

“I’ve been better, thanks for asking,” Stiles answered honestly and just a touch bit sarcastic.

“That sucks, dude. Anything I can do to help?”

Stiles sighed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t. “I’m just glad we’re hanging out and playing paintball.”

“Me, too.”

*

Stiles changed his mind. He was so not glad that he played paintball with Scott, mainly because Scott had pelted him with so many paintballs that he was going to wake up tomorrow looking like some kind of freaky spotted boy. And polka-dots were so not his thing.

He was sitting at his computer, watching videos on YouTube, when he heard a noise behind him. He squeaked out a high-pitched noise when he saw Derek standing beside the window.

“Will you stop doing that?” Stiles exclaimed.

“It’s amusing.” Derek shrugged.

“I hate to tell you, your sense of humor sucks.” Stiles leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Why are you in my room?”

Derek crossed the room so quickly Stiles barely noticed it; one second he was by the window, and the next he was directly in front of Stiles, his hand pushing Stiles against the back of his chair.

“What happened?” Derek hooked a finger on the collar of Stiles’ t-shirt and tugged it down, revealing a rather nasty bruise.

“Whoa, down boy!” Stiles said. Derek traced a finger over the bruise, so light Stiles barely felt it, but it sent sparks through every nerve in his body. “It was Scott.”

Derek’s eyes flicked upward, round and angry, his pupils so large he almost looked demonic. His finger lingered on the bruise, and Stiles definitely didn’t miss that, or the little pulses of sensation that spread from it. “Scott did this to you?”

“We were playing paintball,” Stiles explained, and Derek’s brow creased in confusion. “He hit me. Repeatedly. But it’s okay, really.”

“You have multiple bruises,” Derek pointed out as he straightened. Stiles still felt his body tingling where Derek’s hands had been. “Perhaps you should find a new game.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Sure, Dad. Whatever you say.” Derek looked at him, his mouth a hard line. “By the way, in case you forgot I asked, what the hell are you doing in my room?”

“I need your help with something.” Derek handed him a piece of paper with a picture of a flower on it. Derek stayed until after midnight, until after Stiles had found what he was fairly sure, well maybe 60% sure, was a wild rose and birch tree mentioned in an obscure werewolf trial record from fifteenth century Hungary. Derek didn’t tell him why he needed this information so badly, and Stiles didn’t ask.

Stiles also didn’t think about how much he enjoyed Derek being there with him, and he most certainly didn’t think about how disappointed he was when Derek left through the window, leaving him alone with nothing but the Hungarian court transcripts.

*

Stiles jerked awake, the images quickly dissolving around him. The knot in his chest was heavy, and his body still felt phantom pain bleeding over from the dream. It had been over a week since his last nightmare; he had just begun to think they were starting to subside.

He rolled over, adjusted the covers, and tried to go back to sleep, but his mind was too jumbled with images. Flashes burst across his eyelids like scenes from a movie. Some of them were real, but some of them were not; he couldn’t distinguish the two anymore.

He turned onto his stomach, somehow poking himself in the chest. A dull ache throbbed from where one of the paintballs had gotten him, and his mind immediately went to Derek. More specifically, to Derek’s fingers on him, how just the lightest touch had sent shivers down his spine. And the look on Derek’s face when he’d asked what had happened. Stiles didn’t know what to make of it – any of it. The whole situation was weird. Derek Hale was the last person he thought he would ever have been hanging out with, and now Derek was – what? Protective? Angry on his behalf? Psycho and creepy? And Stiles was feeling all tingly like some girl with a crush.

He guessed he’d been wrong. He was going to pull a Lydia. He was going to end up naked in the woods and start writing things like Redrum and Flowerew on the sides of buildings.

Because going crazy was the only explanation for feeling all tingly about Derek freaking Hale.

*

Stiles hadn’t brought his dad dinner at the station since they’d fallen out, but he was consciously trying to take steps towards making that better. Be proactive, he told himself – whatever the hell that meant. Control your destiny, at least the parts controllable.

He was trying to be zen and shit, instead of crazy. He had spent most of the day on the internet researching ways not to go insane, but no websites had any good suggestions for his particular brand of crazy. But he read a lot about small changes and finding serenity and things like that. Mostly, it just made him hate all that new age, feely bullshit; he was fairly certain it was also making him go crazy.

Stiles waved to the deputy on duty at the front desk when he entered the station. The deputy looked surprised to see him as he walked towards his dad’s office. Stiles hesitated just outside the door before knocking, but then rapped quickly.

“Hope you’re hungry!” Stiles exclaimed as he lifted the two bags.

“Starving, actually,” the sheriff said, leaning back in his chair. Stiles noted that he looked pleased to see him; this was the best idea he’d had in ages. “Did you have to get just salads?” he complained as Stiles set the containers in front of them.

“I got them with chicken, see?” Stiles pointed to a strip with his fork.

“It’s not even fried,” his dad grumbled.

“Exactly. I’d like you to live to see me graduate high school and not have a heart attack.” As they ate, Stiles asked, “Working on any interesting cases?”

The sheriff shook his head. “Nope. It’s been pretty quiet around here. Can’t say that I mind, though. I always thought that answering calls dealing with disturbances of the peace or traffic violations were boring. I was wrong.”

Stiles pushed the lettuce around his plate and smiled. It felt like old times, him and his dad, eating dinner together. There was no mystery, no life-threatening situation breathing down their necks; just the two of them.

“What?” his dad asked.

“Huh?” Stiles lifted his head.

“That look on your face. What?”

“Oh.” Stiles shrugged. “I was just thinking how it was nice not having to worry about murderers and all that violent stuff. We’re just sharing salads. It’s nice.”

His dad smiled. “It is.” Stiles wondered if he was making it up, but his dad didn’t look disappointed for the first time in weeks. “You seem happier.”

“Vegetables always make me happy. They should really come with their own smiley faces. I bet more people would eat their vegetables if they had smiley faces on them.”

“It’s not that. It’s your whole demeanor. Anything different?”

Stiles thought about running, the woods, Derek. He shook his head. “Nope. Same old, same old.”

“Well, whatever it is, I’m glad to see you looking happier.”

*

The sun was hot as it beat down on him. It had been days since he’d run on the trails. He told himself it was because he was tired, because he was sore, because it was hot. But he knew deep down that he just didn’t want to see Derek. The other night really freaked him out, and since he’d gotten used to freaky over the last six months, that meant the situation with Derek was that much more freaky.

It didn’t surprise him that Derek fell into step beside him not long after he entered the preserve. Derek didn’t say anything, and Stiles didn’t remove his headphones. He just ran. He’d been a jittery ball of energy over the last few days, and he let it sweat out of him as he huffed up the steep hills and tried to avoid tripping over exposed roots.

When they reached the end of the trail, Stiles stopped and pulled off his headphones. He walked slowly back the way he’d just come for a bit, recovering.

“I thought you’d given up running,” Derek said. He walked beside Stiles at the same, slow pace, his body not even broken out in a sweat.

Stiles shrugged. “Haven’t been feeling it. Plus, it’s been really hot, and you know, I have sensitive skin, and I really don’t feel like dying of skin cancer, so I chose to stay indoors.”

“The path is shaded.”

“Don’t let skin cancer fool you. It’s a sneaky sonofabitch.” After walking the other way again, Stiles asked, “So, did that flower come to anything?”

Derek shook his head. “Not yet.”

“Great. Glad to know my services were crucial to nothing,” Stiles retorted. “Finding that information wasn’t that hard, except, you know, that part where I had to trudge through bad facsimiles of fifteenth century court documents from Hungary, some of which I had to hack into some university’s server for. But other than that? Piece of cake.”

Derek remained quiet.

“Scott said you had them training hard,” Stiles said when he couldn’t stand the silence. “He said Isaac broke his collarbone.”

Derek grunted. “They need to toughen up. If Alphas are really on their way, they’re going to need to be able to defend themselves. Just in case.”

“You still don’t know anything about them?”

Derek shook his head.

“Isn’t that a bit weird and ominous? Bunch of Alphas hanging around, but like just far enough away, but leaving creepy symbols for you to find, but not saying hello? It’s kinda rude. Or maybe they’re shy. You are pretty unapproachable. You don’t exactly scream ‘come and say hello! I’m friendly!’” He finished with his hands flourishing around him.

“It is what it is.”

“How very accepting of you, oh wise one.”

Derek glared at him. “What else can I do except wait and prepare for the worst?”

“That’s my boy. Always looking on the bright side,” Stiles joked. He didn’t know where they were walking now; the path just wound deeper into the preserve, and he’d never been this far inside. Derek didn’t seem bothered, and neither was he. Maybe he’d overreacted about the other day. The weirdness was probably in his head, his mind getting carried away – wouldn’t be the first time. Talking with Derek didn’t feel weird. I just felt…comfortable.

“What?” Derek asked, looking at Stiles curiously.

“You heard that?” Stiles exclaimed. “Gah, I hate being around any of you, psychic freaks.”

Derek ignored the jab and scanned their surroundings. “Why are you nervous? Is it the talk of the Alphas?” Derek actually sounded confused, and was that concern?

No, Stiles wanted to say. It’s not the Alphas. It’s the fact that I’m walking in the woods with you of all people, and it feels comfortable. It feels right. It feels like there’s not a thing in the whole fucking world I’d rather be doing than walking with you right now.

“Stiles?”

He cursed his stupid heart and his stupid mind and Derek’s stupid werewolf senses. Couldn’t even come to a startling realization without everyone knowing about it. So much for personal boundaries.

“Nothing,” Stiles said, shaking his head. “Mind just running away with me.”

Stiles knew Derek knew he was lying, but Derek just looked at him strangely (which honestly wasn’t anything new) and kept walking.

*

Stiles actually wasn’t that startled when Derek whooshed into his window. “Need some ancient rune translated?” Stiles asked.

“I need you to find whatever you can about Transdanubia and this.” Derek handed him a slip of paper with the word вампир written on it.

“This isn’t English,” Stiles pointed out.

“Exactly. If it was, I wouldn’t be asking you to translate it.”

“Why don’t you ask Lydia?”

“I’d rather ask you.”

Stiles sighed and ran a hand over his head. He was growing out his hair, and it was sticking up all over the place. “You know, you can do most of this research on your own. Type the word into Google, look Transylvania or whatever up on Wikipedia. I mean, your pack does own a computer, doesn’t it?”

“We’ve already looked it up those ways.”

“Fine.” He got up from the bed and walked to his desk. He turned on his computer as Derek stretched out on the bed. “Yeah, sure, go ahead. Get cozy. Whatever.” As he waited for his computer to load, he watched in disbelief as Derek grabbed the remote from the nightstand and clicked on his TV. He was going to make some comment, but decided it’d be pointless. Derek was already settling onto his bed, which Stiles realized should be much more disconcerting than it actually was.

Stiles had trouble finding anything of use on Transdanubia. The Wikipedia page was useless, and nothing else was yielding results. Plus, he kept getting distracted by the TV. Derek had stopped on Jurassic Park, and Stiles was able to ignore it for at least a good thirty minutes. Then every few minutes, his eyes would drift to the TV and a few minutes would pass before he remembered his job. He soon gave up.

“This is my favorite part,” Stiles said as he spun around, straddling the chair. The T-Rex was crushing the car into the mud. “This scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.” They both remained silent as they watched, and after about forty-five minutes, Stiles’ arms and legs were starting to cramp. He flicked his eyes over to the bed, his bed he reminded himself, where Derek was laying, long legs crossed at the ankle, his hands threaded behind his head, elbows resting on the headboard. Derek looked relaxed, peaceful even. Stiles had to make himself not stare.

He couldn’t, even if it was his own bed. So, he just shook his arms and jiggled his legs and remained seated. But that didn’t work. He wanted to stretch out and like hell was he doing it on the floor.

Derek glanced over at him without a word as Stiles awkwardly sat on the bed beside him. Stiles made sure to keep enough room between them so nothing weird happened, not that he thought anything weird would happen, but he’d rather be safe than sorry. And while he was on the topic of keeping himself safe, he had to control his heart rate, just in case. But, he reminded himself, there was nothing worth getting his heart rate accelerated over, was there?

After Stiles finally got comfortable and engrossed in the movie, he forgot about any weirdness. It was like Derek was a friend, like Scott, just someone hanging out and watching a movie. And then that idea got Stiles distracted. He’d never really thought about Derek doing, well, normal things, like watching a movie or listening to music or anything that didn’t end in a fight or being covered in blood. What did he do at the train station when they weren’t fighting? What did he do back wherever he lived before? What did he do before his family died?

For the first time, Stiles came to the astonishing realization that Derek Hale was just a normal guy like everyone else. Well, except for the superhuman strength, the tragic past, and the ridiculous, over-the-top, I-should-really-get-therapy anger management problem.

“How do you make it through a movie?” Derek asked suddenly, startling Stiles out of his one-sided mental conversation.

“Huh?” he answered dumbly.

“How do you make it through a movie without just bouncing off the walls?” Derek asked. “I can feel your shifts in heart rate like every few minutes.”

Stiles looked at him, mouth slightly open. His attention wandered for a brief second to the awesome dinosaur chase scene on the screen, because dude, dinosaur chase scene, but then back to Derek. Derek was looking at him incredulously.

“You can feel my heart rate shifting here?” He couldn’t believe that’s what he decided to say. But he’d never thought the small things, like changing his attention from a movie to his inner dialogue, would warrant notice. Or that anyone cared enough to notice.

“It’s slower when you’re focused on something, calmer. Your whole body is.”

Stiles looked down at his body, didn’t even realize he’d been moving. Or his heart rate changing. Sometimes, he really hated werewolves. And his life.

“It’s a gift,” Stiles joked. “I’ll be good, I promise.”

“It doesn’t bother me,” Derek said, “I just can’t imagine what it must be like inside your head.”

“You say that like my head is some weird dungeon of ridiculousness. I’ll have you know, there’s nothing wrong with the inside of my head,” Stiles snapped.

“Never said there was.”

“It has to be better than being inside your head all the time. What, with the weird senses sensing everything from a nobody like me’s heart beat to some weird smell – and that I don’t even want to contemplate – to overhearing most of the conversation within a hundred mile radius. Not to mention the constant pain-anger-guilt fest. Think my Adderall-laden brain wins.”

The words tumbled out of Stiles’ mouth so fast that he didn’t really think about them before he said them. But the look on Derek’s face, just a touch different than how he’d been a few moments before (and how did he know that anyway?), told him maybe his mouth had gotten carried away. Derek stood to go, all the earlier ease gone from his body.

“Let me know if you find anything.” And then he was gone.

Stiles was left on his bed, staring at the comforter which still had the imprint of Derek’s body. He reached across the bed to grab the remote, pissed at himself more than he’d been in a long time. He should never have mentioned the pain-anger-guilt fest that went on inside Derek, no matter how true it was. It wasn’t Stiles’ place, and besides, what did he know about what Derek went through? Nothing.

Later, when he finally curled into bed, he rolled into the spot Derek had been laying. It still smelled like him, and Stiles hated himself even more.

*

Derek didn’t show up on the trail the next day. Stiles ran longer than usual, just to make sure. He cursed himself and his stupid fucking mouth.

He liked Derek. He liked being around him and hanging out with him. Derek was actually becoming his friend, and he had to go and fuck it up by saying something stupid. It hadn’t occurred to Stiles until he was running alone just how much Derek had become a part of his life. And quickly.

Maybe it was for the best, he thought. Being sad because Derek missed a run? It was a little crazy. He wasn’t sure that Derek even had friends, but when they’d been watching that movie…it just seemed so natural and normal.

When Stiles got home, he debated about whether or not just to call Derek and apologize. But he was too chicken. Even though the Derek he knew now wasn’t the same Derek he’d been terrified of six months ago, it was still Derek, big ol’ Alpha werewolf of the really sharp claws.

So instead, Stiles sent him a text. To his knowledge, Derek didn’t text. He didn’t really call people either, unless there was some emergency. But at least Derek would know Stiles knew he’d been an ass.

Stiles had just settled on his bed primed for an all-night marathon with a huge tub of popcorn, a large soda, and all three X-Men movies when he spied movement out of his periphery. The window opened as Derek gracefully slid through, and then shut it behind him.

“You got my text, I see,” Stiles blurted, feeling more relieved than he should have. He knew there was no way Derek missed that. “You know, a simple text of ‘thank you’ or ‘I forgive you and your stupid fucking mouth, Stiles’ would have been sufficient.”

Derek shot Stiles a glare, but it lacked conviction. He dropped onto the bed beside Stiles, grabbed the bowl of popcorn, and shoved a handful into his mouth.

“Dude, that’s my popcorn,” Stiles whined as Derek deliberately shoved a huge handful into his mouth. It made his cheeks bulge, and Stiles snickered. “If you’re hungry, I can get you some food.” Derek didn’t say anything, just turned towards the television.

“What are you watching?”

X-Men marathon, even though the last one sucks balls. But it feels weird not to watch the whole trilogy.”

“I’ve never seen them.”

“I’m shocked,” Stiles said sarcastically. Derek looked at Stiles, annoyed. “What? I just figured the last time you saw a movie was like, never.”

“I’ve seen movies, you moron,” Derek responded.

“Dude, you just called me a moron. Lame.” Stiles reached for the popcorn, but Derek moved it just out of reach. “Name one movie you’ve seen.”

The Godfather.”

“While a solid flick, it wasn’t made this millennium. When’s the last time you went to the movies? Rented a movie?”

“I used to go to the movies all the time in New York,” Derek said. “Laura and I went every week.”

Stiles didn’t know how to respond. It was the first time Derek had every mentioned his sister outside of her death, the first time he’d revealed anything about himself.

“Okay then,” Stiles said, desperate to keep Derek talking, “favorite movie of the last five years.”

Derek contemplated before answering, “Avatar, Star Trek,Batman, The Hangover, Inglourious Basterds, Zombieland. I liked those.”

Stiles shook his head. “See, I saw you more as a Twilight guy myself.”

Derek laughed, although quiet and short. Stiles tried to ignore the way it made his stomach twist. “Seen it, actually. Laura dragged me to see it, at midnight on opening night no less. I was there with like two other poor bastards.” Derek smiled, reflective and private. Stiles watched him closely, studied the way his eyes softened, crinkling slightly at the edges, and his face relaxed.

“Team Jacob, I’m guessing?” Stiles joked when he couldn’t handle it anymore. Derek turned the smile onto him, and Stiles suddenly didn’t have enough air.

“Naturally.”

“Naturally,” Stiles repeated, laughing quickly to cover up his sudden flush. “You may like this movie. Probably will like Wolverine. He’s a lot like you, moody, grumpy, general sour disposition.”

Derek raised an eyebrow and turned to the screen.

Stiles had to force himself to pay attention to the movie, and not to the man beside him. All of a sudden, Derek had begun to make him feel nervous and jittery, and Stiles was way too aware of Derek’s everything stretched out beside him. At some point before the second movie, Derek had toed off his shoes and was lying on his side, towards Stiles, his head cradled on his arm as his bare feet hung off the end of Stiles’ bed.

“I don’t think Wolverine is anything like me,” Derek said from the bed as Stiles changed the DVD. “He’s not even a werewolf. The closest resemblance to a wolf is the hair, which is nothing like mine.”

“He’s got claws,” Stiles pointed out as he crawled back onto the bed.

“Made of steel,” Derek countered.

“Adamantium,” Stiles corrected. “And that’s like the same as you.”

Derek lifted his hand, extending his claws. “Does that look like adamantium to you?”

Stiles leaned close to Derek’s hand, inspecting the claws for the first time. He’d never even looked at Scott’s this closely. It felt weird, oddly intimate. His heart might have skipped a beat, and he hoped Derek missed that. “Hmm,” Stiles started, “It could be. I’ve never seen adamantium up close.”

Derek’s claws retracted, and he quickly swatted Stiles’ chin. “Don’t be difficult.”

“You find out more about Wolverine in this movie,” Stiles said as he turned his attention away from Derek. “I’m sure you’ll feel the common bond building.”

But Stiles never got to the end of the movie. He got so comfortable that he fell asleep. When he awoke later, the room was dark and he was curled next to a rather large and warm body. He shifted, disoriented. The body moved beside him, the arm around his shoulders tightening. Stiles lifted his head and through bleary, sleep-heavy eyes saw the outline of Derek’s chin, his head slumped to the side.

He was asleep beside Derek Hale. He was asleep on Derek Hale, in his arms. A moment of panic settled in his chest before he convinced himself not to freak the fuck out. Stiles sat up slowly, his eyes affixed to Derek’s face the entire time. He didn’t move much before Derek’s eyes opened.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispered, and he wasn’t exactly sure why he was whispering. “I didn’t mean to wake you, or fall asleep, especially on you,” he rambled. It was the weirdest situation he’d ever been in, and that was saying a lot. And Derek was just staring at him with wide eyes, full of something that wasn’t the general disdain or frustration or hardness, and Stiles had never noticed just how beautiful his eyes were. “And we didn’t even get to watch the final X-Men movie, which is really not that big of a deal if you want to know the truth, because the movie really sucks, but I did want to know what you thought of the end of the second one, especially with the metal skeleton, and – “

Derek placed a finger over Stiles’ lips, stilling him; he was pretty sure Derek just took all the air with him. Just the soft brush of Derek’s finger against his lips made Stiles’ entire lips and face tingle. Derek’s finger lingered there, and Stiles opened his mouth just a bit to breathe. Slowly, Derek’s finger traced the outline of Stiles’ mouth, and Stiles was positive he was dreaming.

Then, Derek’s hand moved to cup Stiles’ face, and Stiles held his breath, his heart pounding in his ears, as Derek leaned forward and brushed his lips against Stiles’. It was soft and light, barely a touch at all, but it alit Stiles’ skin like no other kiss ever had.

Much to Stiles’ disappointment, Derek got up from the bed then and headed to the window. He turned around and looked like he was going to say something, but decided against it as he lifted the window and disappeared.

Stiles didn’t know what in the hell just happened. But he didn’t dwell on it too much as he shoved his hands inside the front of his track pants and pulled out his hard cock, jacking himself off and coming with the feel of Derek’s arms still around him, his lips ghosting across his mouth.

*

That night Stiles dreamed of being tortured by both Gerard and Peter, one sticking him with an electric prod while the other slashed at him. When he turned to run away, Derek was in the corner, his Alpha eyes glowing red in the darkness.

Stiles jerked awake, his body covered in a thin sheen of sweat. After rearranging the comforter, he rolled onto his side and ignored the large lump growing inside his chest.

*

Stiles hit the trails as soon as he woke up. When he’d woken up that morning, he couldn’t remember what he’d dreamed, but his body was in knots, his nerves on edge. Some days, he didn’t think about what had happened to him; others, like today, his mind replayed the last few months on a never-ending reel.

His feet pounded against the ground, his shoes striking harder than usual. Stiles pushed through the shortness of breath, the dull burn in his legs. If he could run far enough, fast enough, then maybe, just maybe, he could outrun the memories.

When he’d tired, he walked instead, trying to clear his head. It wasn’t just the nightmares; there was Derek. Confusing, gorgeous, frustrating Derek. Part of him wanted to believe that he’d dreamed what had happened the previous night – was it even possible that Derek had kissed him? And was that really a kiss? It was more like a brush, a touch? A hover. Something definitely not-a-kiss.

It was probably a weird werewolf thing. Stiles had seen Isaac cuddle with just about everyone (including himself). Seeing Derek and Isaac crammed close together on the couch, touching each other affectionately, had honestly weirded Stiles out (and maybe made him a tidbit jealous, but he wouldn’t admit that to anyone, nope, no way). And Scott had gotten a bit more touchy-feely since being bitten. Not in a weird I-want-to-hump-your-face kinda way (he saved that for Allison, and now Stiles didn’t want to know who received that pent up werewolf energy), but in a you’re-my-best-friend-let-me-touch-you-because-it-makes-me-feel-better kinda way.

Besides, Stiles and Derek were finally friends – and Stiles liked that they were. He wasn’t going to fuck anything up with his stupid crazy imagination. Besides, today was not the day to deal with any serious issues.

When he’d walked for awhile, he started running again. He hoped that if he could concentrate on something else, like how much his calves hurt and how breathing was becoming difficult, then he could clear his mind.

Stiles was surprised when Derek fell into step beside him. It was earlier than their usual runs, and honestly, after the previous night, Stiles wasn’t even sure he’d show.

They ran longer than they had before. Every time Stiles thought about stopping, he thought about Gerard’s fist connecting with his face or the kanima striking his dad, and he pushed on even harder. Derek’s gait never faltered; he kept perfect pace with Stiles, his posture calm and focused.

Stiles snuck a few peaks at Derek as they ran. His form was impeccable, his wife beater clinging perfectly to his chest. While appealing, that’s not what struck Stiles. It was his face. Derek’s face was relaxed, and in the brief glimpses of sunshine through the trees, he looked years younger. Stiles thought briefly of a younger Derek, happy and carefree, smiling and laughing and being a kid. That Derek was a stranger, perhaps long dead, but in the moment, Stiles could see that Derek peeking out from behind the hard shell.

Stiles finally stopped, his legs barely able to stand. He grabbed the bottle clipped to his waist and gulped the water down. Derek watched him curiously.

“You’re early,” Derek finally said.

“Yeah, well, maybe you’re late,” Stiles replied, although he knew it was a lame comment. Derek just ignored it.

“Are you okay?”

“Peachy.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been out here for hours. That’s unusual. And you just…seem upset.” Stiles couldn’t read the look on Derek’s face. He appeared concerned, or maybe hesitant? Whatever it was, it was weird.

“I’m fine,” Stiles said. He knew Derek would be able to tell he was lying. “I just had some bad dreams. Woke up all funky and stuff. Been trying to clear my head.”

Derek nodded, not fully convinced, but he didn’t press it.

*

Scott came over to play video games. Of course, Stiles was happy to hang out with Scott, but secretly, he was disappointed because that meant Derek wouldn’t randomly show up at his window.

“What the hell?” Scott asked when he stepped inside Stiles’ room. He turned in a circle, sniffing. “What have you and Derek been doing?”

“Nothing!” Stiles squeaked. He cursed the spike in his heart rate, though there was no lie. They hadn’t done anything. “Why, why…why would you ask something like that?”

“His stench is all over the place, dude. Is he like your best friend now?” Scott asked, teasing.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “He needed some help on some ancient Hungarian werewolf shit. We ended up watching a movie.”

Scott’s eyes got wide. “Derek watches movies?”

“Apparently. I was as surprised as you, dude.”

Scott sniffed again, his face scrunching. “It’s weird, smelling him here. I mean, the room reeks of him.”

“It probably reeks of me,” Stiles started defensively, “and you, and dirty socks, and left over pizza, and don’t get me started on some of the other smells I’m sorry you can detect. But what about your room? Me, Isaac, your mom, your dirty socks, your left over – “

“I get it,” Scott said, dropping onto the floor and picking up a controller. “It’s just weird it’s Derek, you know?”

Stiles shrugged as he loaded up the game. “It’s actually not that weird. He’s not that bad, when he stops pretending to be some Rebel Without A Cause badass.”

Scott just huffed incredulously.

*

“Scott told me about Derek,” Isaac said the next night. “That explains the weird smells I’ve detected on him. It’s you. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize it.” They were in Stiles’ jeep, on their way to the paintball range. Stiles had thought they were just going out for dinner, but now he’d somehow agreed to play paintball again. He’d never understand Isaac’s fascination with it, but Stiles kinda enjoyed it. He’d enjoy it more if he didn’t continually get his ass handed to him by two werewolves.

“Dude, really?” Stiles looked over at Scott in disbelief. “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“I wondered where Derek had been disappearing to,” Isaac said. “Not that it’s weird for Derek to just disappear for hours at a time. Sometimes he tells me, sometimes he just gets all mysterious and dodges the question. I think he’s just going out and finding random hook ups. I don’t understand why he can’t tell me. Not like I’d care. Hell, it’d be nice if he’d help a guy out sometime.”

Stiles tried to keep his heart rate normal; the last thing he needed was the two of them sensing his jealousy or disappointment. “Do you really think that’s what he’s doing?”

Isaac shrugged. “Why not? Look at him. Plus, the guy has serious trust issues. Not like they’ll be some girlfriend in his future.”

“Does he come back reeking of lady parts?” Stiles asked, maybe a little too curious. Though, even if he wasn’t interested, he’d be interested.

“No. Maybe he showers.”

“Or maybe he doesn’t get laid,” Scott suggested. “Does Derek act like a guy who’s being regularly fucked?”

“Good point,” Isaac said.

“Maybe we should get him laid!” Scott exclaimed. “Maybe it’d loosen him up. I mean, any guy would be pissed off if he wasn’t getting fucked.”

“Hey!” Isaac and Stiles exclaimed at the same time.

“Not all of us are as lucky as you, Scott,” Isaac grumbled.

“Not like he’s getting fucked much these days,” Stiles said, “unless you count getting fucked by chemistry and econ finals, fucked by your job, fucked by your ex-girlfriend’s entire family, fucked by – “

“Yeah, thanks Stiles, I get it,” Scott snapped.

*

“Peter?” Stiles shouted. He stared at Derek in shock. Derek was lying on Stiles’ bed, looking up at him as Stiles paced around the room, arms flailing. “Crazy Peter? The one who, by definition, was so crazy we burned him alive before you ripped out his throat? Who kidnapped me and tried to make Scott his own personal assassin puppy and –“

“Yes,” Derek cut in. Stiles hadn’t thought much about Peter since the kanima thing, had just assumed Derek had made him hit the road. Apparently, he was wrong. “Why?”

“Oh, no reason,” Stiles said, throwing his hands up in the air, “except maybe that he’s crazy. And we set him on fire.

“It’s…complicated,” Derek responded. “He’s…well, my uncle. The only family I have left.” Derek looked almost sheepish, and vulnerable. Stiles felt a surge of affection for him and wanted to hug him and squeeze him. Instead, he rolled his eyes.

“Okay, then. And just for the record,” Stiles said, pointing at Derek, “if you burn me alive and I come back to life, I’m so gonna be pissed enough to at least try and beat the shit out of you.”

Derek’s mouth twitched. “Duly noted.”

Stiles ran a hand through his hair. “Now, what were we talking about?”

“Ordering pizza.”

“Oh yeah. So, Crazy Uncle Peter said that new place is good. What toppings should we get? I mean, I know you’re a werewolf and probably all carnivorous and want to eat the hearts of bunnies on your pizza, but meat just equals a heart attack, and I personally have nothing against the indigenous bunny population, so I say skip the meat lovers. Onions are a definite no, but there’s mushrooms, though do we do fresh or regular, or maybe artichokes, because once I had – “

“Stiles,” Derek cut in.

“Yeah, pepperoni’s cool.”

Stiles requested the pizza be delivered, so they had about half an hour before they could eat. He tried not to be awkward, but Derek was just sitting on his bed, looking at him and not saying anything. Derek had slipped through the window earlier, surprising Stiles since it had been a few days since he’d seen him. Though, to be fair, Stiles had spent the last few nights with Scott and Isaac.

“Isaac thinks you’re going out and finding one night stands every night,” Stiles blurted when he couldn’t take the silence.

Derek’s face scrunched in confusion. “He what? Really?” He shook his head in disbelief. “That’s the best he could come up with?”

“I blame Scott.” Derek nodded in agreement. “So, are you?” Stiles asked, leaning the chair he was straddling forward onto two legs. He couldn’t believe he’d asked it when the words tumbled out of his mouth. It was really none of his business who Derek was fucking.

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe that’s any of your business.”

Stiles felt his face flush, both from embarrassment and jealousy. He hoped Derek could only sense the embarrassment. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

A few awkward moments passed while Stiles stared at the floor. Finally, Derek pulled something out of his back pocket. “I brought something.” He held up a flat, square container.

“Is that a DVD?” Stiles asked.

“I went by a Redbox.” Derek leaned forward and handed Stiles the movie.

“You have a credit card?” he asked before thinking about it.

“How do you think I gas the Camaro?” Derek asked slowly, like Stiles was impaired.

Stiles opened the DVD case and saw it was an action flick he’d never heard of. “Of course you’d choose an action movie,” he said as he put it in the DVD player.

“What’s wrong with action movies?”

“Nothing,” Stiles replied. “It just figures.”

“Shut up and sit down,” Derek growled, and Stiles obeyed. As soon as he sat down, Derek pushed Stiles’ sleeve up, revealing a fresh paintball bruise.

“Yeah, that’s – “ Stiles was cut off by Derek’s swift hands lifting up his shirt and his fingers brushing lightly against his skin. He had to bite his lip to keep from moaning.

“There are a lot of bruises,” Derek said, voice quiet. Stiles focused on his breathing, his heartbeat, and not on Derek’s fingers on his skin and the trail of fire they left in their wake.

“It’s Isaac,” Stiles managed to get out, and how he got his mouth to work he didn’t know, “he’s quite competitive. He pelted me with most of them, but he and Scott teamed up against me towards the end. I think they think it’s funny.”

Derek growled, low and smooth, as his fingers lingered over a particular nasty bruise on his rib. He rubbed his thumb across the darkened skin. “I think I may have to have a talk –“

“No!” Stiles exclaimed. Derek’s eyes shot up, round and dangerous. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Stiles, you have seven bruises.”

“They don’t hurt,” he said. Derek wasn’t assuaged. “Look, it’s bad enough that I’m the only one without special werewolf powers that make me some kickass ninja or Lacrosse prodigy. The last thing I want is for the Alpha to tell my friends they can’t play with the poor little human anymore because he’ll get hurt.”

Derek sat up and unfortunately removed his hands from Stiles’ body. Stiles’ body thrummed with arousal and sensation, and he hoped Derek just chalked it up to Stiles being Stiles. He was aroused most of the time, anyway.

“That’s not it,” Derek said, his face contrite. “That’s not it at all. I just don’t like seeing you hurt.” That took Stiles by surprise – he figured Derek wouldn’t care one way or another. “But I won’t say anything if it means that much to you.”

“Thank you,” Stiles said. They’d missed the beginning of the movie, but he didn’t really care. He couldn’t get his mind off the way Derek’s fingers felt against his skin.

After the pizza arrived and they were sharing the open box between them, Derek said, “I don’t, by the way.”

“Huh?” Stiles tore his eyes away from the screen where a guy was pumping the other guy full of bullets. “Don’t what? Don’t like the pizza?”

“Go out and have one night stands.”

“Oh.” Stiles felt his cheeks color. “That’s good, because you can never be too careful. Even with condoms and your werewolf ability to heal any STD, there’s still unexpected pregnancy and crazy stalker killers and – “

“Stiles,” Derek said, amused.

“Yeah, right, movie.” Stiles turned back to the screen, feeling quite relieved.

*

Stiles, Isaac, and Scott went to a party Lydia threw. Just about everyone from Beacon Hills High was there, except for Allison.

“Do you think she’s okay?” Scott asked. “Should I ask Lydia? Should you text her just to make sure?”

“Dude, I’m not texting Allison for you,” Stiles said. “Isaac, can you calm him down somehow? Restrain him? Muzzle him?”

Isaac laughed while Scott looked distraught. “She’s fine,” Isaac said. “We’d have heard otherwise. She’s been laying low this summer.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Scott conceded, his party spirit dampened.

They went up to Lydia, and Stiles realized while they were talking to her that he didn’t have the same feelings that he did before. Did he still care for her? Of course. She’d become a good friend of his. Was he in love with her like before? No. And he was pretty sure a mother-fucking moody werewolf had something to do with that.

Stiles was talking to Danny and Greenberg when his phone buzzed. He glanced at it curiously since like everyone he knew was at the party. His heart leapt into his throat when he saw Derek’s name.

“Excuse me,” Stiles said in the middle of some story Greenberg was telling. Whatever Derek had texted him was way more important than whatever Greenberg had to say.

I’m moving. I found a loft.

Stiles stared at the text in confusion. Right this minute? he replied. While he waited for the response, he maneuvered through the crowd and sat on an empty couch. He didn’t want to contemplate just how pathetic it was that he was staring at his phone waiting for a text that may or may not arrive in the next few seconds.

Stiles actually jumped when his phone vibrated.

What do you think? So Derek, Stiles thought.

I think that pink is ur color. He grinned as he hit send. Stiles knew he could out-annoy Derek any day.

I’m rethinking not ripping out your throat.

So violent. Maybe u need to go to sleep. Helps make one less cranky.

What are you doing?

@ Lydia’s party.

Then why are you texting me?

Bc u texted me first. Duh.

You’re at a party. Go have fun.

I don’t think u know me v well. Besides, Scott is emo bc Allison isn’t here, Isaac’s trying to cheer him up, and Greenberg was telling me a lame story. I’m not missing much.

Good. I wouldn’t want to keep you from anything important.

Stiles sat on the couch for the next hour texting Derek. The texts weren’t anything important, mostly random snarky comments back and forth. Derek told him more about the loft he found. Stiles didn’t blame him; living in a train station was just sad, and he’d played out that whole sad wolf shtick long enough. He’d told him that, too. Derek had just replied, Fuck you.

“What are you doing alone on the couch?” Isaac said, plopping down beside Stiles.

“Oh, nothing. Playing Fruit Ninja. Trying to beat my last high score. I’m not being very successful.” His phone vibrated at that moment, so he hit ignore quickly and hoped Isaac hadn’t seen Derek’s name.

Scott joined them a few minutes later. “Let’s bail. This party sucks.”

“It doesn’t suck,” Isaac said. “You suck. But sure, whatever. I’m hungry. Let’s go get some food.”

“Yeah, sounds great.” Stiles shot up maybe a little too enthusiastically. Scott and Isaac walked on ahead of him, trying to find Lydia, while Stiles was able to quickly text Derek back.

The phone vibrated five minutes later, when Stiles was behind the wheel of his jeep. He wanted to pull it from his pocket and text back, but he couldn’t without breaking the law and making Scott and Isaac aware of what he was doing. And he wasn’t sure they’d understand why Stiles was texting Derek. Stiles wasn’t sure he understood while Stiles was texting Derek.

“Donuts?” Isaac suggested. So, Stiles drove to the all-night donut drive thru and ordered two dozen.

“You guys really need to think about toning down the crap you put into your bodies,” Stiles said as Scott and Isaac wolfed down the donuts.

“Shut up and drive,” Scott said through a mouthful of jelly. Stiles rolled his eyes grabbed one with sprinkles.

Half an hour later, Scott and Isaac were gone and Stiles was able to text Derek back. He talked to his dad quickly before running upstairs and dropping onto his bed.

Isaac’s bringing u donuts. They ordered 2 dozen and ate 10 each b4 almost vomming.

Thanks for the image. What kind of donuts?

Crème filled and glazed.

I like chocolate covered.

Me 2! They’re my fave. But I wouldn’t have pictured u liking donuts.

I like a lot of things.

But not me?

Obviously.

Have u packed yet?

Not a lot to pack. Unless I can figure out how to fit the train car into the loft.

You’re hilarious, do u know that?

A regular comedian.

U could tour, headline at Vegas. Grumpy werewolf could b ur angle.

I think I’ll save the world from that travesty.

Stiles smiled as he continued texting. He removed his clothes and crawled under the covers in just his boxers, watching late-night reruns as he waited for Derek’s texts. The later it got, the more serious the texts became. It was like the cell phone intermediary made it easier for them to open up. Or maybe it was because it was after 2 a.m. Late hours did weird things to you, Stiles thought.

Are you okay? Derek asked him. You haven’t been yourself.

Been a rough few months, Stiles replied.

Anything specific?

Oh, idk, maybe being paralyzed a gajillion times by the kanima, having things try to kill me, or watching a dude get killed. Twice.

Twice. You were only paralyzed twice.

Then that just changes everything! Thanks for helping me out, Derek.

Is that why you started running?

Yes.

Running’s therapeutic for me, too.

Well, it was running or sitting around on my couch stuffing my face w cheetos. I’d like not to gain 100 lbs. It’s Scott, too. He’s not around as much.

I’m sorry. That’s partially my fault.

No, it’s not. He was hanging w Isaac b4 ur ninja training sessions.

Don’t be jealous. It’s hard for them.

Fuck Derek, bc it’s so easy 4 me.

That’s not what I meant and you know it.

I don’t want 2 b a werewolf – no offense – but sometimes it just seems 2 b all ppl care abt. Ever since Scott was bitten, it’s been all abt him and Allison and werewolf shit. Stiles didn’t know why he was typing all of this. He felt like a whiner, but dammit, he was tired of holding it all in. And Derek was listening – or reading, he guessed – and it was easier to admit all this at 3 a.m. to a screen instead of a real person.

Sorry, dude, Stiles followed up. I don’t mean 2 b a fucking whiner.

Don’t apologize, Derek replied. Fine, Stiles thought. I’ll just keep rambling.

Did u know that Gerard kidnapped me? The same time he had Boyd and Erica?

No.

That’s bc I told everyone I got beat up by the other team. I didn’t even tell Scott. Bc by the time I got out, the shit hit the fan. By that pt, it didn’t matter if I had a few bruises.

You should have told us.

Wouldn’t have changed anything. It didn’t matter.

It does matter, Stiles.

Know what else? That night I played the best lacrosse game of my life. Guess who cared? Nobody. I couldn’t even enjoy my one shining moment. Jackson was dead, I was kidnapped, and then when I showed back up, my dad was the only one who really gave a damn.

I don’t think you give your friends enough credit.

That sounds weird coming from u.

People care about you, Stiles. You don’t even realize how much.

Bullshit.

Did Gerard hurt you?

It healed.

Derek’s reply took longer than the others. Stiles wondered if he’d said something wrong, or if Derek had gotten tired of his incessant whining and bitching. Stiles swore to himself that he was never admitting anything he said the next day. This conversation never happened. Nope.

Tell me if that ever happens again, Derek finally replied.

Fine, whatever.

Around 4 a.m., Stiles brought up his mom. I think ur the only person who understands how much I miss my mom.

Probably.

I mean, Scott’s dad is a jerk and gone, but it’s not the same.

No.

I’m a lot like her. She rambled all the time. Couldn’t shut up. It drove my dad nuts, but he’s said more than once since she’s been gone that the house is too quiet. You probably would have liked her :P

I’m sure I would. My mother was quiet.

I’m shocked.

She was small and quiet, until she wolfed out. Then she was terrifying. My dad was a lot more social than she was. She loved her pack, but she never trusted outsiders.

Stiles reread the text five times. He felt something tug inside his chest; he realized he probably was looking at the most personal and private thing Derek Hale had revealed to anyone. Stiles doubted if he’d even shared this with the pack. Stiles felt important and special that Derek told him.

You sound exactly like her.

I used to be more like my dad. Mom always said we were two peas in a pod. For some reason, that text made Stiles extremely sad.

What was it like living with so many ppl?

Loud, crowded, chaotic. I miss it. It’s lonely, even with Isaac and Peter.

You have more than them. Stiles hesitated before texting, You have me.

:)

You just gave me an emoticon smiley. That’s more than u give in real life.

What can I say? 4 a.m. does weird things to a man.

I’m abt to fall asleep.

Go to sleep, Stiles.

Fine. You, too.

Good night.

Good night.

*

A few days later, Scott texted and cancelled Lacrosse practice while Stiles was on his way to the field. He just decided to practice alone since he was already almost there.

He dropped a pile of balls at his feet, and one by one, he picked them up and shot them. He practiced shooting from different distances, shooting while running, and even pretended to dodge other players. He scored a lot more often without Scott’s werewolf reflexes guarding the goal.

After missing the goal by a wide margin, Stiles turned around to find Derek standing on the edge of the field, hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans. He was watching Stiles with interest.

“How long have you been standing there?” Stiles asked self-consciously. He ran a hand through his hair, which stuck up messily from the sweat.

“Long enough to understand why you’ve been practicing so much with Scott.”

“Cold, Derek. Cold.” Stiles scooped a ball into the mesh and swung it towards the goal. It didn’t go in. “I was doing okay before you showed up.”

“Sure.”

“I was, assface.” Stiles picked up another ball, ran, and shot. The ball went straight into the goal. “Told you.”

“Want some help?” Derek picked up a discarded lacrosse stick and headed for the goal.

“Do you even know how to play?” Stiles asked.

Derek shot him an annoyed look. “I was in high school once, you know. I had friends on the lacrosse team.” Stiles shuddered. “What?”

“Just thought about you in high school,” he replied, the image still in his brain. Or, lack thereof. “Acne, puberty, homework and math tests. It just seems…wrong. I think you lie.”

“I wasn’t born fully grown.”

“You know, that would make so much more sense,” Stiles said. “Cause I can’t really see you as a kid.”

“Shut your mouth and throw the damn ball,” Derek growled, standing before the goal.

“Fine, fine.” Stiles scooped up another ball and ran towards the goal. Derek caught the ball before it went through the goal. Stiles groaned and tried again. Same result.

For half an hour, he practiced and Derek caught every shot. Finally, Stiles threw his crosse down in defeat. “Fine!” he shouted. “You win. Like it’s a surprise.”

“I’ll come out of the goal, and you can try to get around me,” Derek said.

Stiles just looked at him like he was crazy. “Do you really think that’s going to be any better? Hello? You move like five times faster than me. There’s no way I’ll get around you.”

“You can try,” Derek said slowly.

“This is a bad idea,” Stiles muttered as he grabbed his lacrosse stick from where he’d thrown it. He scooped up a ball and started running towards the goal. He attempted to get around Derek, but Derek easily knocked him to the ground. “See?” Stiles said, scrambling to his feet. “I ended up on my ass. Like usual.”

“Try again.”

“So you can knock me down again?”

“I didn’t use much strength.”

“Well that makes me feel much better!”

Stiles ran towards the goal, and once again, ended up on the ground. He had a plan for his next attempt. He ran, and when he was almost at Derek, he tilted his body like he was going right, but at the last second when Derek had moved right, Stiles went left and shot the ball into the goal.

“Yes!” he yelled, “Take that, you – umph!” Stiles landed on his back, the breath knocked out of him. He tried to rise up, but there was something very large and heavy preventing him. He opened his eyes and stared up into the very large, very close, eyes of Derek. “You can’t tackle a player after they’ve scored a goal,” Stiles said, his heart pounding in his chest. He was having trouble breathing, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t just from the freaking heavy werewolf on him. “It’s unsportsmanlike. You could get thrown out of the game.”

“Who’s going to toss me out? You?” Derek arched one eyebrow, and Stiles got distracted by it. His eye followed the curve of his eyebrow, from where it started near his nose and then across his forehead. He decided he loved it when Derek did that; it made him look cute, if Derek could ever actually look cute.

“I could try,” Stiles replied. He was starting to wonder why exactly Derek wasn’t moving from on top of him. That was a more crucial question than why exactly Derek was on top of him in the first place.

And then Derek was pressing his lips against Stiles’. Stiles wasn’t sure who kissed who, if he raised up or if Derek leaned down, and it didn’t matter – all that mattered was that Derek’s mouth was on him. This wasn’t a soft brush like before; this was an all-out, proper kiss. Derek’s lips were full and firm against Stiles, his stubble scratching Stiles’ face and leaving a tingling sensation behind. Stiles couldn’t believe this was happening. He parted his lips briefly to get some air, and Derek’s tongue immediately slid along the inside of his lips before pressing inside his mouth. If Stiles wasn’t already lying down, his legs would have given out.

Emboldened by Derek’s tongue in his mouth, Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck, pulling him closer as he carded his fingers through Derek’s hair. It was so soft, slightly sweaty, and Stiles wanted to lose his fingers in it forever. Derek nipped at Stiles’ lip, causing Stiles to involuntarily buck against him and moan.

And then just like that, Derek was no longer kissing or touching him, but sitting beside him in the grass. “This is a mistake,” Derek said quietly.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles rambled frantically, now that his brain had caught up with everything, and pushed himself up on his elbows. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I mean, I’m always aroused – you should know that – and I’d kiss anything that moved, even a cactus – okay, maybe not a cactus because my lips are too pretty to get messed up like that, but – “

“Stiles, it’s not your fault,” Derek said, standing up. He looked around awkwardly before glancing down at Stiles. He had an unreadable look on his face, and Stiles felt horrible. “Look, I’ve got to go. Um, good job with the lacrosse training.” Derek glanced at the goal, then back at Stiles, looking the most uncomfortable Stiles had ever seen him. “Yeah.” Then, he turned and hurried off the field, leaving Stiles lying in the grass wondering what in the hell just happened.

*

Stiles didn’t see Derek for over a week. Not that Stiles tried to see him. He hadn’t gone running in the preserve or texted him since they kissed.

Stiles was freaked out.

It’s not that he didn’t want to kiss Derek – he wanted to kiss Derek and keep kissing Derek until he passed out from asphyxia. But that didn’t change how weird it had been to actually do it.

Stiles wondered if it’d been him. Had he been the one to initiate everything? But Derek was the one who tackled him to the ground. Maybe he hadn’t intended on kissing Stiles when he did that. Maybe it just happened and they both got freaked out because they’re afraid the other one got freaked out.

Stiles’ mind ran in circles for days. Then, he finally decided that shit happens. It usually seemed to happen to him, but it was still a universal truth. He could move on, be Derek’s friend, keep hanging with the pack with little interference. Would it be difficult to be around Derek without thinking about those soft, warm lips pressing against – focus Stiles! he said to himself. He could be around Derek without thinking about his lips. Too much. Or at least not the entire time he was around him.

One evening, Stiles got a text from Derek. His heart leapt into his throat until he realized it was a group message. Pack meeting, 8 p.m.

Yeah, Stiles thought to himself, not subjecting myself to that. And since I’m not in the pack, he can’t make me go.

“Why aren’t you at Derek’s?” Scott asked when he called.

“Didn’t figure pack meeting included me,” Stiles answered lamely.

“Of course it does,” Scott said.

And then Stiles heard a muffled struggle before Derek said, “Stiles, get over here.”

Stiles was glad Derek couldn’t detect heart beats over the phone. “No, pack business doesn’t really include me, and I mean, I’ve got a DVR – “

“Stiles,” Derek interrupted, voice hard and firm, “Stop being stupid, and get your ass over here.”

“Fine,” Stiles muttered, grabbing a pair of jeans from the floor. “I’ll be over soon.”

Stiles hadn’t been to Derek’s new place. It was nice. He was a bit surprised to see the winding staircase since that didn’t really scream ‘Derek’ to him, but at least it had four walls and a kitchen. The pack was already in the living room, which had way more furniture than Stiles expected. He guessed Derek had gone shopping at some point, because this was not furnished in the locomotive style. Scott, Isaac, and Lydia were on the couch, Peter was sitting in a chair in the corner, and Derek was standing by the window.

“Glad you could join us,” Derek snapped as Stiles approached.

Keeping one’s self calm in a room full of werewolves who can notice everything is harder than it seemed, and Stiles realized focusing on how they were all focusing on him made it ten times harder to remain calm. His entire body was a jumbled mess – panic, nervousness, pain, sadness, arousal, desire, frustration, anger – so, he hoped that he confused everyone enough that they wouldn’t even try to figure out the teenage Molotov cocktail of emotions that was Stiles.

Stiles remained silent as he took the empty chair. Scott looked at him, shooting him a glance that clearly said What the hell is going on?, but Stiles just grinned at him to hide his awkwardness. Derek walked away from the window to stand in the middle of the room, and Stiles couldn’t help but watch the way his legs moved, the jeans riding low on his hips, the curve of his arm peeking out from under the t-shirt sleeve. When he looked at Derek’s face, he felt a pang when he remembered the way the stubble scratched across his cheek, the way his lips tasted. And even worse, Derek barely even looked at him.

Coming here had been a bad idea. Maybe the worst idea he’d had all year, and that was saying a lot.

“There’s been an attack,” Derek stated.

“The Alphas?” Isaac asked.

Derek shook his head. “Something different. It may be an animal attack, but it may be something else. The bites were consistent with some sort of animal, maybe even a wolf, but the victims were drained of their blood, their cores split open and the organs removed.”

“Maybe it was Dracula,” Stiles joked, his nerves causing his mouth to just blurt out random things. The look Derek gave him made him shrink in his chair.

“Vampires aren’t real,” Derek said. “But whatever did this is.”

“So, want us to go find it?” Scott asked.

Derek shook his head again. “No. Just be on your guard until we have more information.”

“But someone could die!” Scott argued.

“If we go in blindly,” Derek said, “we could die. It may just be an animal. We need to find out more just to be sure. I’ll talk to Deaton. Lydia, see what you can find in the bestiary. We’ll go check out the area near where it happened. There’s a sheep farm nearby where we could start. And everyone, make sure you’re on your guard.”

With that, the meeting was over. Derek immediately disappeared up the spiral staircase, followed closely by Peter. Scott, Isaac, and Lydia walked towards the kitchen, but Stiles had to get out of there. He left without even saying goodbye.

He drove out of Beacon Hills, trying to clear his head. Derek told Lydia to research, not him. Was Derek that mad at him? Stiles didn’t even do anything. Even if he did kiss Derek first, that didn’t mean Derek had to go be all infant and moody wolf on him. And he didn’t even look at Stiles the entire night, barely spoke to him. That hurt most of all. Despite the kiss, they were still friends.

When Stiles got home, he immediately crawled into bed. He didn’t feel like doing much of anything after the night he had. He had almost dozed off while watching an infomercial when he heard movement at the window. He shot up, expecting to see Derek, but was disappointed when it was just Scott.

“What do you want?” Stiles asked as he plopped down on the bed.

“What’s wrong, man?” Scott dropped onto the foot of the bed and looked at Stiles expectantly. “You were oozing some serious emotional waves tonight, but I couldn’t figure out what in the hell was actually going on inside you. It was like your insides exploded.” Stiles scoffed. At least he’d managed to cover his real feelings. “Talk to me. What’s going on?”

“I kissed Derek.”

“YOU WHAT?” Scott exclaimed. His eyes grew so large he looked like he was in a cartoon. “What? How? Why? WHAT?”

“He was helping me practice lacrosse, and he tackled me, and then we were kissing. And I don’t mean a little chaste press of the lips. Full on tongue,” Stiles said. He had thought about denying everything, but what was the point? Scott was his best friend.

“Well, that explains Derek’s mood,” Scott muttered. “You two have some serious issues.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, what’s the problem?”

Stiles shrugged. “It’s just weird now. We were fine, we were friends, and now it’s all weird and shit.” Stiles groaned. “I didn’t even want to be there tonight. And I didn’t need to be, what with him putting Lydia on research duty.”

“You’re part of the pack, dude,” Scott said. “You belong there.”

Stiles snorted. “I’m not so sure.”

“Look, this will blow over. You and Derek will get over the weirdness – though I’m not sure I ever will.” Scott shook his head. “I can’t believe you kissed Derek.”

“Don’t make me regret telling you,” Stiles said.

“I won’t.”

“And don’t tell Isaac. This is weird enough without the whole pack knowing.”

“Dude, the last thing I want is for Derek to know we all know,” Scott said. “He’d be worse than usual.” Stiles sighed, and Scott reached out and squeezed his arm. “Hey,” he said softly, “It’ll be okay. I promise.”

“I don’t believe you,” Stiles said, “but thanks.”

Scott smiled and settled on the bed, but not before changing it to something other than infomercials.

*

Stiles started running again, but along a different route. He found a trail at a local park and decided to run there, because he just couldn’t handle going to the preserve again. He wasn’t sure if he hoped Derek would be there or wouldn’t be there, and he didn’t want to find out the hard way.

At dinner one night, his dad pushed his plate away and looked at Stiles. Stiles paused the fork on the way to his mouth, then looked around. “What?” he asked. “What did I do?”

“I don’t know,” his dad replied. “Did you do something?”

“Yes,” Stiles answered. “Of course I did something. Everyone’s done something. I’m doing something right now, see?” He moved his fork back and forth.

“Are you okay, son?” the sheriff asked, ignoring the dancing fork. “You look rough. Are you sleeping?”

“Not really,” Stiles admitted.

“Any reason?”

Stiles could think of plenty, but he just shrugged. “Too much caffeine? Summer break? Late night infomercial addiction?”

His dad didn’t believe him, but pulled his plate back towards him. “Just…just take care of yourself. I’m worried about you.”

Stiles mentally kicked himself. Way to go adding more stress on your dad, asshole.

*

Stiles wasn’t sure how Derek ended up at the paintball range with him, Scott, and Isaac. He’d been on his way to pick them up when Scott texted and said they’d meet him there. When he saw the Camaro pull into the parking lot, he almost got back into the Jeep and went home.

“Dude,” Stiles asked, pulling Scott back as Derek and Isaac went inside the door. “What the fuck is Derek doing here?”

Scott shrugged. “He overheard us talking about playing paintball with you, and told us to get in the car cause he was coming this time.”

“Fuck,” Stiles said as they entered.

“I got your back,” Scott assured him.

But unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Isaac, irritatingly oblivious Isaac, grabbed Scott and said, “Dude, betas against Alpha. Awesome.” Stiles looked pleadingly at Scott, who tried to cut off Isaac, but Isaac draped an arm around Scott’s shoulders and said, “We’re gonna need a bit more strategy than usual, by which I mean we need a strategy, so – “

“Hey!” Stiles yelled, “What does that mean, huh? Huh?” Isaac just laughed and walked towards the indoor arena. “You know you’re insulting, right? It’s not very polite, Isaac! I expect better from you!” Stiles turned to grab his gun and came face to face with Derek, and he squeaked a noise of surprise as he shuddered. Derek watched him blankly, then handed him a gun. “Do you even know how to play?”

“It can’t be that difficult,” Derek answered. Stiles rolled his eyes and hurried through the door.

The indoor arena was dark and lit by blacklights. Glowing paint splatters and random trippy-type of decorations lined the surfaces, and lasers from the tips of guns crossed with random lasers that flashed across the room.

“Stiles and Isaac like to hide,” Stiles explained as he turned towards Derek, “And wait for me to walk by. They also tend to stay near each other on low surfaces.” But Derek wasn’t looking at him. His eyes were scanning the room, and Stiles was pretty sure with his werewolf vision he could see everything a lot better than Stiles could. And then Derek inhaled, his head turning towards the right. Then suddenly, Stiles felt himself being pushed to the floor as a blob of glowing paint exploded behind him. “What the hell?”

“Stay down,” Derek ordered.

“You don’t get to order me around,” Stiles said, heaving himself up. “This is my game, not yours.”

“Do you want to win or not?” Derek asked.

“Dude, I always lose. I just want to play.”

“Stay here.” Derek rushed around the edge of the wall and disappeared deeper into the arena. Stiles stood there in disbelief. Derek was out hunting Scott and Isaac, and he was standing there alone. Then something hit his chest, and he saw a blob of yellow spreading.

“Really? Really?” he yelled.

“Don’t just stand there,” Isaac yelled back.

“I hate you. I hate you!” Stiles responded as he shot into the darkness, hitting nothing but inanimate objects.

Half an hour passed before he saw any trace of the werewolves. He was walking along the border when he saw Derek pop up and start shooting continuously at a moving target – Stiles couldn’t tell if it was Scott or Isaac – and Derek covered the other guy with plenty of paint. Stiles noticed Derek’s body had some paint on it too, but not nearly as much as whoever just ran across. Stiles still only had the paint from that initial hit from Isaac.

He quickly closed the distance between him and Derek, dropping beside Derek with his back to the wall.

“I told you to stay where you were,” Derek said impatiently.

“What? And miss all the fun?”

Derek pointed to Stiles’ chest. “Who hit you?”

“Isaac, but it’s not a big deal. At least he realized I was playing.” Stiles got up on his knees and looked over the barricade where Derek rested his gun. “Where are they? We can plan a sneak attack.”

Derek put his hand on top of Stiles’ head and tried to push him down. “Get out of the line of sight.”

“Stop ordering me around!” Stiles snapped, trying to swat Derek’s hands away. “I can go after Scott. I know how he plays.”

“You’re too vulnerable,” Derek stated. “They can smell you.”

“So? They can smell a lot of people in here, including you.”

Derek’s head snapped to the side, and then he was gone, disappeared somewhere Stiles couldn’t make out. He heard a few shots, then Scott swearing.

“That’s it,” Stiles said, standing up and walking towards the exit. If they wanted to play werewolf-only paintball, then fine. But Stiles was going to stop standing around like some reject and go home. Because beating a group of werewolves over the head with a paintball gun might not be the best thing, and Stiles was pretty sure if he stayed, that was going to be how the game ended.

*

Later that night, Stiles heard the doorbell ring and his dad talking to someone. He groaned as he heard footsteps nearing his door before a knock.

“What?” he yelled.

“Dude, are you mad?” Scott said as he opened the door. Stiles glanced at the door and saw Isaac looming behind him and sighed.

“Why would I be mad? Except you brought a psycho Alpha werewolf to play paintball with us and it turned into some crazy first-person shooter werewolf game that humans weren’t invited to.”

“Sorry, that was kinda my fault,” Isaac spoke up from where he was leaning on the closed door. “I wanted to beat Derek.”

“Did you?”

Isaac dropped his eyes to the floor. “No.”

Stiles scoffed and rolled his eyes. “What do you want?”

Scott held up two video games while Isaac held up a box of pizza. “We come bearing gifts.”

“Yeah, we’re gonna snap you out of whatever this is,” Isaac said.

“You told him?” Stiles exclaimed, staring at dismay at Scott.

“No!” Scott shouted.

“He hasn’t told me anything,” Isaac said. “Though I’m offended you don’t find me trustworthy enough. You think that almost dying with a guy and defeating kanimas and stuff would earn a guy the right to be in the know, but no…” Isaac crossed the room and dropped the pizza box on the bed. “Besides, your mood is bringing Scott down, and it’s getting my nerves.”

“Fine, sit down.” Stiles raised himself into a sitting position and pulled his legs under him. Scott sat on the other end of the bed while Isaac took the desk chair. “What video games did you bring?”

Two hours later, after multiple games of Mario Kart where Stiles held his own against (and even beat the crap out of) Scott and Isaac, he was feeling much better.

“I’m not good at this,” Isaac complained.

“Werewolf senses no help to you now, are they, Isaac old boy?” Stiles smiled in victory. “Takes old fashion skills and general know-how instead of wolf cheating.”

“It’s not cheating,” Isaac replied.

“I wonder if the high school lacrosse association would feel that way,” Stiles pondered.

“Oh, like you mind,” Scott said.

“Damn right, I don’t mind,” Stiles said. “I got to play in the championship game. Please, keep with the werewolf cheating. We’ve still got two lacrosse seasons to get through.”

“Are you going out for cross-country?” Isaac asked, grabbing another slice of pizza. “You’ve been running a lot.”

“Maybe,” Stiles said, “I haven’t really thought about it.”

“I could run with you,” Scott suggested, looking helpful and hopeful.

“Nah,” Stiles said, shaking his head. “I like to run alone.”

“Or just with Derek,” Scott replied.

“Oh!” Isaac suddenly shouted. He looked at Stiles, comprehension dawning on his face. “This is all about Derek!”

Stiles groaned and pushed Scott so hard he fell off the bed. “Really, Scott? Thanks.”

“What?” Scott yelled from the floor. “I didn’t do anything!”

“It explains Derek’s emotions lately, too.”

Stiles shook his head incredulously. “You two are the worst two werewolves ever, just so you know.”

*

Stiles was on his computer, trolling for porn, when he glanced down at his desk and saw a piece of paper sticking out from under a book. He grabbed it and saw вампир scribbled in Derek’s hand. He sighed, clicked out of his porn windows, and started researching. It took most of the afternoon, some obscure passages oddly translated through Google translate, and a few maybe-not-legal maneuvers into Hungarian protected sites, but Stiles figured everything out. The word, birch trees and roses, Transdanubia, and what was eating people.

Feeling like a BAMF, he called Derek.

“What?” Derek answered. Stiles’ heart skipped at the sound of his voice.

“I figured out what’s eating people. It’s a vampire werewolf.”

“Goodbye, Stiles.”

“Wait! I’m serious. I think I’ve figured everything out.”

Stiles braced himself as Derek was silent on the other end, silent so long Stiles thought he may have hung up, but then Derek said, “I’ll be over soon.”

Stiles got excited, then terrified, that Derek was coming over. He realized he may be more nervous around Derek now that he had been when he’d first met him.

Quickly, he tidied his room, changed into clean clothes, and then tried to look like he wasn’t waiting for Derek to slip in through the window. He didn’t succeed.

“Tell me what you’ve got.” Derek stood awkwardly by the window, hands by his side. His eyes were cold and hard, and having Derek look at him that way felt like someone kicked him in the stomach. Stiles didn’t think it would’ve hurt that bad, and he couldn’t even be concerned if Derek detected it. Fuck him.

“It’s a vampire werewolf,” Stiles explained. “The word you gave me is Serbian, and the local lore states it’s a person who returns from the grave for the purposes of fornicating with his widow.”

“What?” Derek asked, eyebrows inching upward.

“Hungarians, especially in the Transdanubia region, have lore reaching back to the Middle Ages about these things. There are multiple ways to become a werewolf according to legend, but if the wolf learns to become a necromancer, or aligns itself with a necromancer, he or she can extend their life after they’re dead. They’re essentially a vampire-werewolf hybrid. They can shift, they live off the blood of humans, and they’re virtually undetectable because there is no scent.”

“Are you certain?”

“Pretty certain, yeah. I translated some stuff, but kinda badly, but it was enough to get the gist.”

“Peter was right,” Derek muttered.

“Peter?” Stiles exclaimed. “Crazy Peter figured this out? How did he – “ Stiles heard the low rumble of Derek’s growl, and said, “I mean, way to go, Not-Crazy-Uncle-Peter. Bravo. Whoo!” Stiles pumped his fist for effect. Derek rolled his eyes.

“Anything else?”

“Nope, that’s all I got.”

Derek disappeared out the window, leaving Stiles feeling alone and empty.

*

A few minutes after Derek left, he sent out a group text, calling a pack meeting for 7 p.m.

No matter what Scott or Derek said, this time Stiles wasn’t going.

*

As predicted, Scott called him multiple times around 7, and even Derek called, but Stiles ignored it. Scott sent him a text around 7:15 that said, Dude, where are you? Derek’s explaining your breakthru! And I think he’s pissed. And then he texted again after he left Derek’s around 9 that said, Are you okay? Should I come over? Stiles replied that he was fine, but thanks anyway. He didn’t really feel like company.

Around 10, his phone vibrated again. He groaned as he reached for it. “Scott,” he muttered to himself, “this concerned best friend thing is getting a tad ridiculous.” His heart sped up when he saw a text from not Scott, but Derek. Swallowing, he viewed it.

Where were you tonight? Stiles could almost hear the growl and irritation through the phone.

@ home, Stiles replied. He tried to come up with some witty retort, but just didn’t have the energy.

You should have been here to explain about the vampire-werewolf. You would have done a much better job than me.

I’m sure u did just fine. You are the Alpha after all.

I am aware of that.

Well, @ least I figured it out. Now u and the pack can go save the world or something.

Yeah.

Stiles waited for another text, but none came. That was it? Derek was going to leave it like that? For some reason, that really pissed him off. He felt an urge to go over to the loft and punch the werewolf in the face. Fucking asshole.

After a few minutes had passed, Stiles picked up his phone and texted, That’s it? That’s all ur gonna say?

Derek immediately responded. What do you want me to say?

Stiles groaned in frustration. Oh, I dunno. Thank u for figuring everything out? Glad u found out v important info on this supernatural being?

Thank you for figuring everything out. Glad you found out very important information on this supernatural being.

Stiles rolled his eyes when he read the text. He shifted in bed, sitting up straighter. So funny and obviously v appreciative of those who help u.

I said thank you. What else do you want me to say?

Stiles felt all the anger and frustration from the past few weeks boiling to the surface. If he was speaking instead of texting, he would have been yelling. How abt why u suddenly hate me?

I don’t hate you.

Could’ve fooled me.

Why are you being difficult?

Stiles actually laughed out loud. Me? Me difficult? You wrote the book on being difficult.

It’s complicated.

Surprise, surprise.

What’s that supposed to mean?

That ur evading my questions.

Fine. I won’t evade. Q+A night. What do you want to know?

Stiles reread the text multiple times. Was Derek serious? Would he really answer any of Stiles’ questions? He decided to start by asking, Why have u been a dick?

I wasn’t lying when I said it’s complicated.

Why is it complicated?

I shouldn’t have kissed you.

For the second time that day, Stiles felt like someone had kicked him in the stomach. Realizing that he had nothing to lose, Stiles responded, I tend to differ on that assumption. I think it’s the smartest thing you’ve done.

Stiles…

Why shouldn’t u have kissed me? Stiles wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, because he knew Derek would just say he wasn’t interested. Because, if Stiles thought about it rationally, why would Derek be interested in him? Even though the guy had major issues, what did Stiles have to offer him? Nothing.

A lot of reasons.

Name one.

You’re 16.

Almost 17. And that’s not a good enough reason.

Stiles, that should be the only reason.

My age doesn’t matter, Derek. It’s just an excuse.

I’m no good at relationships. I don’t have the best track record.

What do you mean?

I haven’t had the best luck.

Suddenly, something clicked into place for Stiles. It was something that had been buzzing around the edges of his mind, but had never really formulated into a full-fledged thought.

Kate, Stiles sent.

Yes.

Stiles wasn’t sure what to say. How do you even respond to that? Not to mention the absolute weird fact that Derek just told him that. He wondered if he’d told anyone that before. He hesitated before replying, I’m not Kate.

I know.

Know better.

It still wasn’t a good idea.

Stiles was glad Derek wasn’t in front of him because he might have hit him. God, how could one man be so stupid? Why did you start running with me? Stiles typed, but before he hit send, he continued, fingers like lightning. Come to think of it, why did you start coming to my house? Hanging out? Watching movies?

I was lonely. And you seemed to be the only one who understood.

Stiles felt his chest tighten. He knew Derek had issues – the man chose a bunch of sad teenagers for his pack – but something about Derek admitting to being lonely seemed wrong.

You were correct. I understand. Too much.

I miss my sister.

What was she like?

Beautiful, confident, fierce, but loving. She laughed a lot. I think you would have liked her. She was sarcastic like you.

She must have gotten all the personality then.

Pretty much.

I’m sorry, dude. It’s no consolation, but still.

Open your window.

Stiles looked away from his cell and at the window, where Derek was waiting on the other side. He hurried across the room and lifted the window as Derek slipped through. He stood just inside the room and stared at Stiles for a moment.

Stiles couldn’t take the silence, so he said, “When did you start driving here? Because, you know, texting while driving is unsafe, and illegal, even with your werewolf senses, so – “ His ramble was cut off when Derek reached out and grabbed him, pulling him close before kissing him.

Stiles’ brain was on overload. Derek was standing in his room. Derek was standing in his room and kissing him, his hands gripping Stiles’ face roughly. Derek’s mouth was urgent, desperate as he kissed. Stiles responded eagerly, the past weeks melting against Derek’s insistent lips. His stubble scratched against Stiles’ lips and skin, and Stiles pressed closer, trying to get as much access to Derek as possible. Derek’s lips were firm, his mouth hot and wet as their tongues slid against one another. This time, Stiles paid more attention to the shape and feel of Derek’s lips, to the weight and taste of his tongue. He heard as well as felt a rumble start deep inside Derek’s chest, the vibration cascading through his tongue and down his spine.

The kiss shifted as Derek slowed, his hands sliding down the sides of Stiles’ face to his neck, Derek’s thumb pressed against his pulse point. Stiles knew Derek didn’t have to touch him to feel his pounding heart. Derek was kissing him slower now, shorter kisses with more lip and less tongue, lingering presses that breathed with each brush of lips. Stiles awkwardly rested his hands on Derek’s hips.

When Derek finally pulled away, he sat back onto the windowsill. He sighed and pulled Stiles closer to stand between his legs, and rested his forehead against Stiles’ chest. Stiles didn’t know what to do, so he threaded his fingers into Derek’s hair, his eyes drifting shut at the feel of it beneath his fingertips.

They remained like that for awhile, Derek’s face buried against Stiles as Stiles ran soothing fingers through his hair. Then, Derek looked up at Stiles, his eyes bright even in the low light. Looking up at him like that, Derek gripped Stiles down to his core.

“What now?” Stiles asked, voice low and not exactly working properly. He had to bite his tongue to keep himself from rambling nervously. He didn’t think it would do much to help the situation.

“I have no idea,” Derek admitted.

“Good,” Stiles replied. Derek looked up at him in confusion. “I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

Derek pulled Stiles down into another kiss, and Stiles realized he could get used to that.

*

When Stiles woke up the next morning, he replayed every moment from the night before. It almost felt like a dream, except Stiles never had dreams that good. His dreams usually consisted of him having a hand larger than the rest of his body or driving off into water or not being able to run because his legs were full of lead. His dreams didn’t consist of Derek Hale kissing him.

The longer he thought about Derek’s lips on him, the scrape of stubble on his face, Derek’s fingers on his face, the more it added to his already just-woken-up half-hard cock. He slid his hand inside the front of his boxers and came thinking of Derek doing things they most definitely did not do the previous night.

Later, when he got in the Jeep to go running, he didn’t know where to go. Actually, as he sat there in his driveway, he didn’t know what he and Derek were now. They’d kissed, and they had said very little to one another between the kissing. The only thing Derek had said before slipping out the window once again had been Good night.

Deciding he wouldn’t figure it out in the driveway, Stiles decided to run in the preserve. The other park just wasn’t cutting it – and that may or may not be because it lacked a certain shirtless werewolf.

Stiles sunk comfortably into the feel of his feet striking the earth. It was rhythmic, constant, predictable. His stride was sure as he ran up hills, dodged exposed roots, and sailed down hills. The heat surrounded him like a blanket, causing his skin to be covered in sweat within a few minutes.

Naturally, his mind drifted to Derek. Over the years, Stiles had learned better than to hope for anything good to happen to him. Yeah, his life didn’t suck - it wasn’t as sad as say Derek or Isaac’s – but he’d had his share of shitty things happen. Like his mom dying. And there were non-life altering things that affected him too, like Lydia never realizing he existed or his best friend finding the girl of his dreams and becoming co-captain of the lacrosse team (even if said girl is currently not a good thing). And those examples barred all the supernatural shitty things that had happened to him in the last few months. Hell, Stiles had only kissed one person, back in the sixth grade at a party, and he was pretty sure Pimple-faced Cathy did not count. At least Derek was an improvement from Pimple-faced Cathy.

But just because they had made out twice, complete with Derek not even running off the second time, it didn’t mean that it was going to continue happening on a regular basis. Derek had seemed enthusiastic enough the night before, but Stiles didn’t want to get his hopes up. Because, let’s face it, Stiles’ hopes were already pretty fucking high, had been from the moment Derek climbed into his window.

Stiles didn’t know exactly what he wanted – he just knew that he didn’t want to stop kissing and touching Derek any time soon, if he ever stopped at all.

Stiles had been running for over a mile before Derek fell into step easily beside him. It both did and did not surprise Stiles, and he was a bit unnerved by the tension that released from his body when he felt Derek beside him. He glanced to the side and smiled. To his surprise, Derek returned the smile, albeit just barely.

After they were done, Derek said, “I’m surprised to see you back.”

“I’m surprised to see you here.” Stiles walked slowly, his ankles and thighs protesting at the duration of the run. Plus, he was breathing pretty hard still, and he knew his face was as red as a tomato. So attractive.

“You were the one who stopped running.” It wasn’t an accusation, it was an observation. So Derek had been around in Stiles’ absence. Stiles didn’t let himself wonder if it was just in case Stiles showed up.

They walked on in silence, but not uncomfortably. Only a couple minutes passed before Stiles started rambling. “I started running in the park across town, and it was okay, I mean, it had some decent trails, but they were shorter and I got bored. Plus, I don’t like running on concrete.”

“Isaac and Scott mentioned trying out for cross country,” Derek said.

“They mentioned it to me, too. I told them I didn’t know. Not sure I want to join another team where I’ll just sit on the bench and watch. I’m pretty sure watching cross-country won’t be nearly as entertaining as lacrosse,” Stiles said. He kicked a rock with his toe, sending it skidding off into the underbrush.

“I think you’d do well,” Derek said. Stiles glanced over to see if he was being sarcastic, but his face was completely serious.

“Well, thanks,” Stiles said. It may have been the first genuine compliment Derek had ever given him. Derek nodded curtly in response.

*

Two nights passed before Derek showed up at Stiles’ window again. Stiles lifted the window as Derek slipped inside and said, “You should really start using the door. What if my dad finds you up here?”

“He’s working late tonight,” Derek replied.

“I am aware of that, yes. However, he does eventually come home. And have nights off.”

“That logic only works under the assumption that I’m going to be coming over again.” Derek’s face had the same irritatingly blank-faced expression it always does, and Stiles felt his heart drop into his feet. But seeing as he had a human emotion detector standing in front of him, he laughed to cover it up.

“Well, my hypothesis is based on the evidence. You have quite a history of window creepering.” Stiles smiled, probably a bit too widely, because Derek cupped his face gently and rubbed his thumb across his cheek.

“I wasn’t being serious,” Derek said, his voice lower than usual. It went straight to Stiles’ cock. Great, he thought. Now I’m half-hard, and no way Derek’s missing that. But Derek didn’t say anything about it, just dropped his hand and crossed over to sit on the bed.

“Well,” Stiles said awkwardly, looking at Derek getting comfortable on the bed, which did nothing for the cock situation, “what should we do? Movie or tv show? Do you have a preference? I mean, I’ve seen more than you have probably, so you can totally choose, or if that’s too much pressure, I can choose for you – “

“Stiles, sit down.” Stiles immediately obeyed and sat on the spot Derek had been patting. “Are you nervous?”

Stiles laughed and pulled a face. “Nervous? Why would I be nervous? I mean, just because – “ Stiles paused when Derek curled his hand around Stiles’ neck and rubbed his fingertips against the sensitive skin. “Just because,” he continued, distracted, “I have a large, extremely attractive werewolf caressing my neck doesn’t mean I’m nervous.” Stiles felt the heat rising to the surface of his skin and his heart picking up speed, and Derek was just touching his neck.

“Let’s watch a movie.”

Stiles hadn’t been paying attention and hadn’t heard what Derek said. “Huh?” He blinked at Derek, who looked almost amused, the smug bastard.

“Movie. You choose.” Derek removed his hand and Stiles was both happy and disappointed. Well, he thought, at least now he could think straight.

He picked a new release from the streaming queue, and when he asked Derek, he’d just shrugged. So, Stiles started the movie and sat awkwardly on the bed.

He left just enough space between him and Derek so they weren’t touching. Stiles didn’t know what he could do. Was it okay to scoot closer to Derek? To touch him? Derek had touched him earlier, but Stiles had a huge neon sign over his head flashing “PLEASE TOUCH ME.” Derek? Not so much with the blinking neon. And then he thought about Derek in neon and his brain went on a whole other tangent, complete with bad 80s clothes and raybans and maybe even high-top sneakers.

“You’re doing it again,” Derek muttered about an hour into the movie.

“What?”

“You, all over the place. Just relax and watch the movie.”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles mumbled. “I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“You’re not bothering me,” Derek replied. “It’s a bit distracting, but you’re usually like this, so it’s becoming easier to ignore.”

Stiles took a deep breath and stared at the movie. He was engrossed for about fifteen minutes, and then he shifted, and hello, he was very much aware of the man lying beside him again. Stiles wanted to move closer. He wanted to pull one of those sitcom moves where he yawned and his arm just happened to fall on Derek’s shoulders. But he was pretty sure that Derek would see right through that, even if Derek sometimes missed the importance of social interactions.

The distance between them was so irritatingly small but too fucking wide at the same time. Derek’s legs were long, his feet crossed at the ankle at the foot of Stiles’ bed; his head rested on one of Stiles’ pillows where he leaned against the headboard, and his hands were folded on his stomach. He was the picture of composure, while Stiles was splayed out beside him ungracefully, and was nothing more than a breathing, oozing mound of sexual tension.

Somehow, by the end of the movie, Stiles had moved a fraction closer to Derek. Their legs were even almost touching! The only thing that kept Stiles from moving closer was the thought that maybe Derek didn’t want him any closer. If Derek wanted him any closer, then he would have moved closer to Stiles or put his arm around him, right? Maybe Derek was perfectly okay with the vast ravine between them. Maybe they were back to being friends, sharing popcorn and watching movies and just kissing occasionally at weird, random times like really good kissy-friends do.

When the credits rolled, Derek glanced over at him.

“So, what did you think?” Stiles asked, grabbing the remote and switching over to cable. “I give it three out of five, though some of the jokes were over the top. I prefer the writer/director’s earlier stuff. Most of this felt just washed and reused.”

“I enjoyed it, though it didn’t change my life.”

Stiles shook his head as he stopped on a stand-up comedy show. “No. This definitely didn’t make that list.”

“You have a list of movies that changed your life?” Derek asked.

“You don’t?” Derek shook his head. “That’s just sad.”

“How did you pay enough attention to any movie for it to change your life,” Derek teased, though he kept his face neutral.

“So funny.”

“Did you pay attention to that movie at all?”

“Unlike some, my brain is sophisticated enough that it can process multiple avenues of information at once. It’s a highly oiled machine,” Stiles responded defensively. When Derek didn’t say anything, Stiles said, “What now? We can keep watching this guy, he’s kinda funny, but – “

“Actually,” Derek interrupted, angling his body ever so slightly towards Stiles, “I was hoping we might do something else now.”

“Yep, okay.” Stiles clicked the TV off a little too eagerly. “I’m pretty much open for any suggestion you have.”

At that, Derek’s lip twitched. And then he was kissing Stiles again, and Stiles could almost have gotten up and done a dance he was so happy, except that dance would pull him away from Derek. He tried to communicate his happy dance to Derek by raising up eagerly, but he just managed to bump into Derek’s face. “Sorry,” he mumbled against Derek’s mouth, and he felt Derek smile against his lips, and it was the most glorious thing ever.

Stiles was unsure what kind of contact was okay. Personally, he had no boundaries; Derek could do just about anything he wanted and Stiles knew he’d be putty in his hands. But Derek? Derek was Derek, so boundaries and personal space were a very different deal with him. Stiles was afraid if he moved too fast or touched him in the wrong place, he’d spook him and Derek would run out of his life again. So, Stiles kind of half-sat, half-crouched on the bed beside Derek.

Derek’s hands were rubbing along Stiles’ neck and shoulders as his mouth pressed against Stiles’, his tongue exploring and unhurried. Stiles liked that. Of course, the lower half of him wanted to hump Derek’s face, but kissing Derek while Derek’s hands caressed his neck lightly and Derek’s tongue dragged against the roof of his mouth was about as close to heaven as Stiles had ever gotten. And that included curly fries and seeing Lydia naked.

Much to Stiles’ chagrin, Derek pulled his mouth away and began kissing along Stiles’ jaw and rubbing his stubble against the skin. It felt rough and burned slightly, but Stiles’ breath hitched a bit every time Derek dragged his cheek against his own. And then Derek was kissing where his neck met his shoulder, damp lips followed by a little suction and then Derek’s warm, flat tongue sliding against his skin. Stiles buried his hands in Derek’s hair, fingers curling into the strands as Derek’s tongue worked over a sensitive spot he didn’t even know he had. It felt so good and Derek seemed to be enjoying himself so much that Stiles didn’t even feel embarrassed when a small half-moan, half-squeak escaped his lips.

Emboldened by Derek’s actions, Stiles shifted himself, making sure to keep Derek’s mouth firmly against his skin. He scooted closer, draping one leg over Derek’s and angling his face down as best he could to get a glimpse of Derek. All he could see was a bit of forehead and the slope of Derek’s nose, so he raked his eyes along Derek’s arm, his fingers following. Hesitantly, Stiles touched the bulge of Derek’s bicep, feeling warm skin beneath his fingertips. Derek was now nuzzling his face into the crook of Stiles’ neck, rubbing his nose and cheeks along the sensitive flesh, so Stiles ran his hand underneath the sleeve of Derek’s t-shirt, tracing the line of sinew. When he scratched his short nails down the back of Derek’s arm, he heard a soft rumble and felt Derek vibrate slightly against his skin, where Derek was once again kissing and licking.

Stiles wasn’t sure about this obsession with his neck; he knew he had a nice neck and all, but there were other parts of him that were nice too, and his cock strained against the tight front of his jeans at the thought of all the other nice parts of him Derek could be touching. But Stiles liked the feel of Derek’s mouth against his skin; Derek found more sensitive places on his skin in five minutes than Stiles ever thought he had, and Stiles was beginning to become convinced that Derek could make him come just from touching his neck. Plus, Stiles liked the way Derek hummed contently as he licked and nuzzled, and the slight way he tensed and growled when Stiles gripped his arm tightly.

Stiles let his fingers drift randomly as Derek hooked a finger on the collar of Stiles’ t-shirt and started sucking on his shoulder. When Stiles’ fingers reached the hem of Derek’s shirt, he slid his fingers underneath and pressed both of his hands flat against Derek’s abdomen. Stiles hardly had time to enjoy to heat of Derek’s skin before Derek bit his shoulder, and Stiles bucked into the air, his fingertips digging into the skin of Derek’s hips as he gripped him. And then Stiles was being thrown onto his back, all of Derek’s weight on top of him as Derek attacked his mouth.

“Oh god, yes,” Stiles said, finally finding his voice. He’d wondered where it’d gone over the last half-hour. “Fuck, Derek,” he breathed against Derek’s mouth, his insatiable need to talk overshadowing his desire to kiss Derek’s lips that were sloppily moving against his own. “I’m not sure what you were doing, but – oh god.” Derek pushed his hips against Stiles’ crotch as he settled between his legs, rubbing himself against Stiles’ aching cock. And he’d just lost the ability to speak again. And judging by Derek’s quiet chuckle against his mouth, he was pretty sure that was Derek’s plan all along.

“You’re evil,” Stiles croaked out, because if nothing else, Stiles was a bit of an asshole and rose to any challenge, so if Derek thought he could get him to shut up, he was wrong. “A very evil, very hot werewolf of evilness.”

“Nothing can keep you from talking,” Derek said, his voice gravelly in a way that shot straight to Stiles’ cock, and he looked down at Stiles with heavy-lidded eyes that Stiles couldn’t believe were just for him. Derek’s eyes were shining, a bright, narrow ring surrounding black pupils. His hands were clamped over Stiles’ shoulders, pinning him to the bed (like Stiles was in any danger of getting up), his hips rocking slowly between Stiles’ legs.

“Apparently not,” Stiles responded, his fingers digging into the muscles in Derek’s lower back, harder each time Derek’s hips pushed against his erection, “though this is all new for me, so I have very little data to go on.”

“Hmm.” Derek began rubbing his face against the other side of Stiles’ neck as his hands released Stiles’ shoulders and instead began sliding underneath his t-shirt. Stiles sighed contently as Derek’s fingers touched his body, and he let out a soft moan when Derek’s thumbs brushed lightly against his nipples.

“You could take it as a challenge,” Stiles rambled, too much shooting through his brain for him to refrain from talking. “I bet I could beat you. You’d never be able to shut me up.”

“I’m sure I wouldn’t,” Derek responded quietly, his mouth descending over one of Stiles’ nipples. Stiles’ hands slid up the smooth planes of Derek’s back, gripping his shoulders as he started moving himself against Derek in an attempt to get any sort of friction. His cock felt like it was going to burst from his jeans as Derek’s soft, warm tongue licked at his nipple, causing ripples of sensation to move through his body. He was pretty sure he’d never been that hard before, and while he was enjoying all that was going on, he needed to get off, sooner preferably than later.

Derek, bless him, seemed to take the hint because he moved back up Stiles’ body and started kissing him again. Then, he lifted his body a bit, and Stiles felt Derek’s hand at the button of his jeans.

“Oh thank fuck,” Stiles breathed as he maybe too eagerly began trying to unbutton Derek’s fly, but his hands were slippery and he was distracted by Derek’s mouth and Derek’s hands and Derek’s everything so he was doing a poor job. “This is harder than it looks,” Stiles muttered, to which Derek just hummed in response, and then Stiles started laughing and Derek lifted up momentarily while Stiles said, “Harder than it looks.” Derek rolled his eyes and slipped his hand inside Stiles’ boxers and everything else in the room disappeared. Derek’s fist closed around his cock, and Stiles’ vision went white as he came hard and loud against Derek’s mouth. Somewhere around the edges of perception, he felt Derek’s hand still sliding along his cock, his voice muttering quiet nothings in his ear, and if Stiles could have come again then, he would have.

He inhaled deeply and relaxed into the bed, and Derek sadly took his hand away from his cock. Stiles opened one eye and saw Derek licking his come from his fingers. “Oh holy sweet fuck,” Stiles managed to choke out. “Just, fuck, Derek. That’s hot.”

Derek leaned down to kiss Stiles gently, his mouth slow and undemanding. After a few moments, Stiles was aware of Derek’s erection pressing against his hip, and he got really excited that he could return the favor. He sat up a little too abruptly, bumping Derek’s face again; Derek looked amused and Stiles smiled sheepishly as his hands went to work on Derek’s fly.

Derek obviously had more control than Stiles because Stiles managed to get Derek’s pants and underwear down over his hips without him coming. Stiles decided to be embarrassed about his quick orgasm later, like when he wasn’t craning his head down to get a glimpse of Derek’s cock.

Derek’s mouth was more fevered and sloppy as he kissed Stiles, and when Stiles finally wrapped his hand around Derek’s length, Derek growled and bucked his hips into Stiles’ fist, and the whole thing was so hot, not to mention that he was holding Derek’s fucking cock in his hand, that he was hard again.

Stiles stroked Derek’s cock awkwardly, his wrist at a weird angle with little leverage, but Derek didn’t seem to mind. He was kissing Stiles hungrily, more teeth than lips, his tongue firm and intrusive unlike the earlier slow swipes, and his hands were roving all over Stiles’ bared chest, blunt human nails scratching down Stiles’ skin. Sometime while he stroked Derek, Stiles shifted so Derek’s leg was rubbing along his cock while he moved his hips to meet Stiles’ hand.

Stiles opened his eyes when Derek came, Derek’s back arched slightly and his breath hot puffs against Stiles’ mouth. His eyes were squeezed shut, his hands holding Stiles still as he squirted come onto Stiles’ stomach, and when Stiles realized that Derek just came on him, he orgasmed again. Derek eventually let go of Stiles’ sides and dropped on top of him.

“Dude, you just fell in…all your own come,” Stiles observed as his hands found their way into Derek’s hair again.

“Mmmhmm,” Derek answered. He rolled his body off Stiles, but kept his head lying on Stiles’ chest, which Stiles really appreciated since he was in no hurry to stop carding his hands through Derek’s hair. Then, Derek reached out and started rubbing little circles in the come on Stiles’ stomach.

“Um, that’s new,” Stiles said as he watched Derek’s fingers sliding through the opaque substance on his stomach.

“Do you mind?” Derek asked, and Stiles thought he heard a bit of uncertainty in his voice.

“Mind that you’re smearing your jizz all over me? Fuck no. It’s awesome!” Derek lifted his head and looked at Stiles in amusement before kissing him gently.

*

Stiles jerked awake, the feel of Gerard’s fingers still around his throat. Two large arms tightened around him, and a beat passed before Stiles remembered Derek was real. And stirring awake beside him.

“What is it?” Derek asked, voice heavy with sleep, and if that wasn’t the sexiest thing Stiles had ever heard. It was doing a pretty good job of making him forget about the nightmare.

“Bad dream,” Stiles mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

“Do you have them often?” Derek asked, his fingers rubbing soothingly down Stiles’ arm.

“Often enough.” Stiles curled into Derek’s chest and buried his face against Derek’s shirt.

“What was it about?”

“Gerard was choking me,” Stiles whispered, barely audible, but he knew Derek easily caught it. He felt Derek’s body tense, his arms tightening around him.

“It was just a dream,” Derek mumbled into Stiles’ hair. “He won’t hurt you ever again.”

Stiles didn’t tell Derek that it wasn’t Gerard he was scared of, but the next thing that would lock him in a dark, cold basement.

*

Stiles met Scott and Isaac at the park to play soccer. As soon as Stiles walked up, Scott inhaled and said, “You and Derek must be friends again.”

“What? How can you tell?” Stiles asked a little too manically to be unobvious.

“I can smell him on you again.”

“I smelled it at the loft, too,” Isaac said. “He came home reeking of you the other night.”

“It is a bit stronger.” Scott’s face lit up. “Hey, did you two – “

“No!” Stiles said. “We just hung out. We’re friends again. Yep. He got that stick out of his ass.” Stiles nodded his head emphatically, hoping the two of them would be clueless enough to believe the lie.

“That’s great, man,” Scott said, grinning and clapping Stiles on the shoulder. “Are you still upset about – “

“Nope,” Stiles replied. “Trying to move on from that.”

“I’m with you there,” Scott said, giving him an obvious look of lovelorn solidarity. Isaac wasn’t even paying attention anymore – he was smiling and waving at a couple of girls that had walked by.

“I’m gonna go grab a sip of water,” Stiles said as Scott and Isaac started kicking the ball around. When he got to his bag, he grabbed his cell and texted Derek.

They smelled u on me! I thought u said it wouldn’t be that bad. They said I reeked. Do I reek? This is all ur fault.

When they paused for water later, Stiles checked his phone. Derek’s reply read, Just lie. And yes, it’s my fault. I’ll try to be better. Stiles didn’t have to be in front of Derek to see the smirk.

*

Stiles was trailing behind, unable to keep up the crazy wolf-pace Derek had decided to adopt. He tried not to feel inferior, because he only had plain old human legs instead of a supernatural battery pack. But it still pissed him off.

After about four miles of the fastest running he’d ever done, Stiles just stopped. Derek kept running, and Stiles rolled his eyes as he tried to recover. His mouth was kinda dry and thick, his vision brighter than usual, his breath coming in shallow, fast gasps. He hadn’t walked very far before Derek came jogging back towards him, a little sweaty so his wife beater clung to his skin damply. Stiles liked that he could look now without feeling embarrassed. Well, too embarrassed. This was still new and he wasn’t sure how he felt about Derek watching as he ogled him.

“Why’d you stop?” Derek asked, barely breathless, but just enough that Stiles felt a bit mollified.

“Because I was about to die,” Stiles replied. Now that he’d stopped, he realized how gross he was, his entire core coated in sweat. He didn’t want to think about how bad he smelled as he wiped the sweat from his forehead with the hem of shirt. “That was like a four-mile sprint. I may pass out.”

“Stop whining.”

“It’s the truth. Though it might still be whining. Is it whining if it’s the truth?”

Derek ignored him and started walking. His step was brisk, and if it wasn’t Derek he was thinking about, he’d even say there was a bit of pep in it.

“What’s got you in such a good mood? I mean, for you, this is almost elated.”

Derek turned to him, his face just as blank as usual.

“I thought that by now, you know, now that we’re…doing what we’re doing,” Stiles said, still not sure what to call all the heavy making out, “that you would have a bit more facial expression. But no. Still pretty much irritatingly blank up in this region.” Stiles waved his hand around Derek’s face. Derek’s eyebrows rose a bit in response. “Is this the way you were with your family? I mean, were you all like a bunch of silent stare-y werewolves who just sat around and brooded or were you the only one? Because I can’t imagine – “ Stiles stopped mid-ramble and looked at Derek guiltily. “Um, sorry. I shouldn’t mention your family. That’s none of my business, and I shouldn’t speak lightly – “

“My family was kinda loud,” Derek interrupted, and Stiles was glad because he was about to have a panic attack from Derek’s silence and his own foot-in-mouth syndrome. “My dad especially. He was really the only one who could get me to open up. I’ve always been kind of quiet, though I used to talk more.”

Stiles, at a loss for words, bumped Derek’s shoulder affectionately. “I knew it had to be a you thing.” He grinned and Derek’s mouth hitched upwards a bit. “So, why the good mood?” Derek shrugged. “Did you get a new leather jacket? Did the Camaro get waxed? Did you get waxed? I know keeping that chest as smooth as you do can’t be easy.” Then Stiles’ brain connected the delayed and scattered bits of information. He stopped and stood still as he absorbed his revelation. Derek halted and turned, looking the slightest bit confused. “It’s me!” Derek just stood and looked at him. “Well, maybe not me per se, but like, the – “ Stiles started jerking his wrist because he was having trouble verbalizing what they’d done a few nights before. “You’re happy because you got off.”

Stiles had never seen Derek embarrassed before, and it was the cutest thing he’d ever seen. He held eye contact with Stiles, but there was a softer look to them, and the tips of his ears had gone pink. Stiles wanted to kiss him so bad then, but instead he laughed. Like the asshole he was.

“Shut up,” Derek mumbled. “Not like you haven’t been oozing your share of self-satisfied smugness and elation. I’m surprised Scott and Isaac didn’t immediately know.”

Stiles waved his hand dismissively. “You haven’t raised very observant werewolves,” he said. “You may need to work on that.”

“It’s working in your favor right now.”

“True point. Let them be clueless for now.”

*

Being with Derek was awesome, but also irritating. Because, despite the kissing and the touching and the obvious desire to be around one another, Derek was still Derek and Stiles was still Stiles. Which meant they got on each other’s nerves as much as they got turned on. And sometimes one led to the other.

Like the first night they were going to have dinner at Stiles’ house while his father had the late shift, they couldn’t decide on what to order.

“Chinese. I’m in the mood for Chinese. I have a menu from Happy Buddha somewhere around here.” Stiles started shuffling through the drawer full of take out menus.

“I don’t like Chinese food,” Derek said.

“How can you not like Chinese food? That’s, like, un-American.”

“I want pizza.”

“No can do. Had pizza last night with Scott and Isaac. Besides, your meat-and-grease drenched idea of pizza is not the same as mine. I don’t have healing arteries. I have to keep them unclogged the old fashion way.” Stiles found the Happy Buddha menu and did a little dance.

“I’m not eating Chinese, so put that thing away.”

“Fine.” Stiles shoved it into the drawer and shifted through the other menus exasperatedly. “What would you like, oh mighty Alpha?”

Derek growled, and Stiles rolled his eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Good. Chinese.”

“Stop with the fucking Chinese!”

“Then tell me what you fucking want!”

After fifteen more minutes of yelling at each other about food, Stiles ended up pushed against the kitchen counter, Derek’s hands under his shirt and in his pants, and then Derek pulled Stiles onto the floor. They never actually got dinner that night.

Or like the first pack meeting after they got together. Derek was anxious enough with everyone around with Derek smelling like Stiles and Stiles smelling like Derek, but they were counting on Isaac and Scott’s complete oblivion. Lydia’s general self-absorbed disinterest, and Peter’s “what-the-fuck-do-I-care” attitude to work in their favor.

And it did, for the most part. Stiles bounced in his seat, his leg jiggling, his hands playing with the hem of his shirt, his hair, and a highlighter shoved in his mouth the whole time. He tried not to look at Derek as more than “that guy who leads the pack,” but Derek was so sexy with his gray t-shirt and close-fitting jeans, ones with holes in them that Stiles had never seen, and he was all commanding and forceful while discussing the most recent vampire-werewolf attack that Stiles found his brain more often than not sliding to things it shouldn’t be, like how Derek had jerked him off on his kitchen floor the night before.

After the meeting, when Lydia had gone, Isaac had left with Scott, and Stiles had made up an excuse about something in the bestiary he needed to discuss with Derek, Derek turned on him angrily.

“What do you think that was?” Derek growled.

Stiles stared at him without comprehension. “Um, a pack meeting? Yep, pretty sure it was a pack meeting.”

“No, the messing with your shirt and basically violating that highlighter. Were you trying to distract me every few seconds with your tongue? Not to mention, your whole body reeked of desire. I know everyone caught the scent. Hell, it was like you poured it out into the floor.”

Stiles felt his face grow hot. “Well, on the plus side, I smell of desire and arousal ninety-nine percent of the time, so it’s probably nothing new.” Then he pointed at Derek, “And why does everyone keep saying I reek? Do I need to start showering two or three times a day? Is that a downside to dating a werewolf?”

“Oh, we’re dating now?”

Stiles stopped, and kinda mouthed wordlessly like a goldfish. They’d never actually discussed what they were. That whole phrase just kinda slipped out. “Um…I don’t know?”

“You don’t reek,” Derek said. “Well, in the way you think you might reek. Reeking of desire is not a bad thing, unless I’m up here trying to conduct a pack meeting!”

“I’m sorry! It’s not like I can turn it off. You were just standing there.”

“What was I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know. Not wear those jeans or something. Stop moving, stop talking, not be in the same room. I can’t turn it off. It’s obnoxious being in the same room with you.”

“The feeling’s mutual. I find you obnoxious, too.”

“Good.”

And then Derek tackled Stiles down on the couch, his hands going straight for Stiles’ fly as their mouths slid sloppily against each other.

And worst of all was trying to hide it from Scott and Isaac. Derek was convinced they were clueless, but Stiles wasn’t so sure. Sometimes they looked at him strangely, like he was puzzling somehow. Stiles wondered if the scent of come lingered even after he showered. He asked Derek about it one night.

“No.”

“I think you’re lying,” Stiles said as Derek kissed and licked his way lazily across Stiles’ stomach. “And you know what they say about liars, their pants catch on fire and their noses grow and all sorts of other unpleasant things.” Derek hummed against Stiles’ lower belly, near where the waist of his jeans were opened and pushed down, his cock lying soft and still sensitive against the fabric. Derek’s tongue licked along the line of Stiles’ hip before biting just enough to leave a faint mark.

“I’m not lying,” Derek said before licking across the bite. Stiles’ cock twitched at the thought of Derek’s mouth so close to it. He moved his hips a bit towards Derek, hoping he’d take the hint. He’d been hinting that he’d like to take the frantic handjobs and frottage a little farther for about a week, but Derek was either oblivious or ignoring him. Derek told him they were going to take it slow, even though Stiles was ready to strip off all his clothes and let Derek do whatever he wanted to him. But since Derek was getting him off pretty much every day, he couldn’t really complain.

“They keep looking at me funny,” Stiles complained. His fingers were scratching lightly across Derek’s shoulders as Derek kissed his way up Stiles’ body.

“Everyone looks at you funny,” Derek said before dropping a light kiss to Stiles’ lips. Stiles grabbed Derek’s hair and yanked.

“That’s not funny, or nice. You should treat me better. Your life would be empty without me in it to add a bit of spice and variety.” Derek grunted and nuzzled Stiles’ neck.

Scott asked him about Derek one day. “What do you two do? You’re spending like every other night together. It’s weird. I thought you were trying to get over that whole thing.”

Stiles shrugged. “We watch movies. Did you know Derek’s a big movie lover? I wouldn’t have known either! And we run.”

“It’s just weird, dude. Derek.” Scott shook his head and got distracted by a commercial on TV.

But Stiles liked the sneaking around. It was kind of exciting. “Are you sure they’re gone?” he asked as he lay against the arm of Derek’s couch while Derek pressed his palm against the crotch of Stiles’ jeans.

“Yes. Scott and Isaac went on a date – “

“Together?” Stiles squeaked.

“No, you idiot,” Derek growled against his neck, then dragged his teeth along the skin. “With girls.”

“The ones they met at the park?” Stiles asked as he started tugging off Derek’s shirt.

“How the hell should I know? I don’t keep up with their love lives.”

“You should,” Stiles said as Derek unbuttoned his jeans. Stiles tried to pull Derek’s shirt over his head, but it got stuck when he wouldn’t raise his arms. “A good Alpha cares about his betas.”

“Can we please stop talking about Scott and Isaac?”

“What about Peter?” Stiles asked as Derek finally lifted his arms so Stiles could successfully remove the shirt.

“I don’t want to talk about him either.” Derek yanked Stiles’ jeans down, pulling his cock free.

“Ew, like I want to talk about him while you’re, oh god, touching my cock,” Stiles moaned as Derek wrapped his fingers around the shaft. “He’s not upstairs like – oh fuck yes – listening or watching, is he?”

“No,” Derek barked. “Please stop before I lose my hard on.”

“And neither of us want that to happen,” Stiles said as Derek circled his thumb around the head of Stiles’ cock. And then, Derek went completely still and looked sharply at the door. “What? What’s going on?”

“Shit,” Derek muttered standing up so quickly Stiles’ head spun. “Fix your pants. Scott and Isaac are back.”

“What?” Stiles exclaimed as he sat up and started rebuttoning his jeans. “I thought they had dates.”

“Apparently not,” Derek said sarcastically. “Will you hurry up?”

“How am I supposed to hide this hard on?” Stiles asked as he tried to arrange himself in his jeans. “Think of ugly old ladies, think of dead puppies, think of them cancelling The Walking Dead. Oh, zombies! Think zombies.”

“Stiles!”

“Right.” He ran over to the laptop and turned it on, and when Scott and Isaac entered, Stiles was intently looking through the bestiary trying to read about the most horrific animals as possible while Derek was in the kitchen making a sandwich.

“Stiles, what are you doing here?” Scott asked when they walked in. Isaac shot him a look, but Scott just looked confused to see him. Shit.

“Work. Peter thought he found something in the bestiary, but, um, he couldn’t translate medieval Hungarian.”

“So Derek called you?” Isaac asked.

“Yes.”

“Because you can translate medieval Hungarian?”

“I…have hobbies,” Stiles said, scoffing.

“Right.”

“I thought you had a date,” Derek said, walking into the living room holding half a sandwich. Isaac looked between Derek and Stiles as Derek stuffed a bite of sandwich in his mouth. Damn that fucking werewolf, Stiles thought. All of them, really. Damn all the fucking werewolves.

“Isaac got the time wrong.” Scott dropped onto the couch and grabbed the remote. “We’re meeting them in like an hour.” Isaac walked over to sit beside Scott, hesitated as he glanced at the couch, then moved on to sit in the armchair. Yep, totally knew. Stiles turned back to the bestiary and tried not to be embarrassed.

When they finally left (after over an hour of Stiles pretending to research the bestiary and then making up fake medieval Hungarian translations of imaginary passages), Stiles ran towards the kitchen and skidded to a stop before he collided with Derek now standing in the doorway.

“Isaac knows, doesn’t he?” Stiles asked.

“Yep.”

“Scott still has no clue.”

“Nope.”

“I’m gonna have to tell Scott, aren’t I?”

“Yep.”

Stiles sighed and stepped aside so Derek could get by. As Derek passed, he paused briefly and dropped a kiss on the side of Stiles’ head before heading for the couch.

*

“How was your date last night?” Stiles asked. Scott was eating a bag of chips in the armchair in Stiles’ room. He shrugged.

“It was okay. But she wasn’t Allison. I mean, nothing. Her hair, her smile, her eyes – “ Stiles started zoning out as Scott listed all of the ways in which the other girl was inferior. When he finished, Stiles nodded sympathetically.

“So, we need to talk,” Stiles started. He shifted awkwardly as Scott stuffed another chip in his mouth.

“About Derek?” Scott asked after swallowing. Stiles stared at him in shock. “You two are together.”

“You knew? Derek swore you didn’t.”

“Isaac told me last night.” Scott looked at him in concentration. “You know that explains a lot. I thought I smelled something, I was pretty sure it smelled like jizz – “

“That bastard!” Stiles cut in. “He told me you couldn’t smell it. I’m going to kill him.”

“Well, it’s not like it was obviously your jizz, so Derek – “

“Ohmigod, can we stop talking about my jizz? Please?” Stiles said, exasperated. Scott laughed.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Scott asked.

“We wanted to test it out before we told anyone,” Stiles explained. “Is it weird? It’s weird, isn’t it? Is it too weird for you?”

Scott leaned forward and sat the bag of chips on the floor. “It’s kinda weird, because dude, it’s Derek. I mean, Derek. We thought he was going to kill us and hated him like six months ago. But it’s cool.” Scott sat back in the chair. “I just want you to be happy, man. And lately, you’ve seemed a lot happier. If it’s because of Derek, then fine.”

“If it is him, don’t let him know.”

“No, definitely not.”

*

Stiles was reading when he heard the familiar tap at the window. Without looking up, he motioned for Derek to come in.

“You should keep this locked. Anyone could break in,” Derek said as he dropped onto the bed beside Stiles.

“Anyone just did. Besides,” Stiles said, turning the page, “it’s not like you’re ever going to use my front door, so what’s the point?”

“I’ll start using the door as soon as you tell your dad that we’re dating, or even that we’re just friends.”

“Not gonna happen,” Stiles said distractedly, eyes still glued on the page. “We’re finally getting back to some kind of normal; the last thing I want to do is mess that up. I figure it’ll get messed up soon enough anyway with the Alpha pack sniffing around, so why not throw it in then? Maybe it’ll get diluted in the mass of suckitude that’s bound to happen.”

Derek lay beside Stiles quietly as Stiles continued to read. Stiles found himself easily relaxing as Derek got comfortable and rested an arm across Stiles’ torso. Before Stiles knew it, half an hour had passed in which neither one of them had moved or spoke. Stiles closed the book when he finished a chapter and rubbed his eyes.

“Good book?” Derek asked. Stiles cast his eyes down to where Derek had his head resting on a pillow.

“I thought you were asleep.”

Derek shook his head. “Just lying here. It’s rare for you to be so calm and focused. I was enjoying it while it lasted.” Stiles tapped Derek on the head with his book before he sat it on the nightstand. Derek pulled himself upright and started kissing Stiles before the book had even left his fingertips.

Stiles sighed contently into the kiss, his body responding to just the touch of Derek’s lips on his. He settled back against the pillows as Derek fit himself comfortably on top of Stiles. Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s body, his hands sliding over the contours of muscle beneath the thin cotton. Derek quickly removed Stiles’ shirt, and much to Stiles’ surprise, started rubbing his cheek along his chest and torso. The sting of Derek’s stubble made Stiles’ skin more sensitive than it already was so that when Derek’s tongue slid against one of his nipples, Stiles involuntarily bucked his hips.

“Fuck,” he breathed as Derek bit the tiny nub lightly before moving on to the next one. Stiles tried to tug Derek upwards, wanted to kiss and lick and touch him so badly, but Derek wouldn’t budge. “As much as it’s totally turning me on that you’re just rubbing your cheek and tongue along my stomach, as weird as that is just so you know, I’d really like my tongue to join in some of that action.”

Derek didn’t respond, just hummed against Stiles’ lower belly, the vibration going straight to his cock. “Oh wow,” Stiles said, his legs falling open as Derek dragged his teeth along his hip. “Is this going where I think it’s going?”

“Maybe,” Derek murmured against Stiles’ skin, where he was now licking long, slow swipes up his side. Stiles hadn’t even known that the places that Derek was touching were sensitive. Leave it up to Derek to turn him into a large erogenous zone.

As Derek nuzzled his face against Stiles’ armpit – which was weird, no matter how fucking hot Derek was – it finally clicked into place for Stiles. He pushed at Derek’s shoulders, trying to get him to look at him. “Are you like wolf marking me or something?” Derek raised his head and looked guilty. “You totally are. Now that Scott and Isaac – and I assume Peter – know, you are like putting your smell all over me.”

Derek’s ears turned pink. “Peter knew all along,” Derek said, nipping lightly at the inside of Stiles’ arm. “And It’s not like I refrained much before. I honestly wasn’t very discreet.” Derek laid his head against Stiles’ bicep. “Do you mind? If you do, I’ll stop.”

“Do I mind that a hot Alpha werewolf is rubbing his stench all over me?” Stiles paused and almost laughed at the expression on Derek’s face. “Fuck no, it’s awesome!” Stiles took Derek’s moment of surprise and amusement to roll him over onto his side and scooted down on the bed. “Does it work in reverse? Like, if I do this,” Stiles licked wetly along the middle of Derek’s chest before rubbing his cheek against Derek’s skin like Derek had done to him, “am I doing the same thing to you? Will werewolves know you’re mine?” Derek didn’t answer, so Stiles looked up at him. Derek’s eyes were half-closed, his mouth hanging open slightly, a flush starting on his neck and chest. “You like that?”

“Apparently.”

Stiles continued rubbing his cheek and nose along Derek’s chest and belly, and then glanced down to where Derek’s cock was straining against the tight confines of his jeans. “What about this?” Stiles opened the fly and pulled out Derek’s cock, and then leaned down and rubbed his cheek lightly against the shaft before licking from the base to the tip.

He felt Derek’s body tense and heard the growl, and when he looked up, Derek’s eyes had turned red, his fangs and claws out. Stiles stared for a moment where Derek didn’t move before raising up on his elbows and cupping Derek’s cheek. He leaned close and carefully dragged his tongue against the flat surface of one of Derek’s fangs.

“Oh fuck, Stiles,” Derek said, his voice a low rumble deep in his chest. Derek grabbed Stiles around the waist and flipped him onto his back, and when Stiles looked up into Derek’s face, his eyes and teeth were normal again. Derek attacked Stiles’ mouth as he rutted frantically against him, the wet tip of his hard cock sliding against Stiles’ belly. And then in a flurry of hands, they stripped off their clothes until Derek was lying naked on top of Stiles.

Stiles’ cock was aching as he tried to get friction against Derek’s body, but Derek started kissing his way down Stiles’ chest, and Stiles couldn’t believe that Derek was finally going to put his mouth on his cock. He had to concentrate on his breathing just to keep from coming at the thought.

Stiles pushed himself up onto his elbows and watched as Derek dragged his tongue along the line of his hips and then nuzzled his face into the dark curls at the base of his cock. “Fuck, Derek, are you trying to kill me with anticipation?” He felt Derek chuckle against his skin, and then Stiles watched as Derek lifted up and slid his lips around the head of Stiles’ cock. “Oh fuck!” Reflexively, he bucked into Derek’s mouth, and then Derek’s entire warm mouth was surrounding his cock, sucking and licking, and only a few seconds passed before Stiles was coming hard. When he opened his eyes again, he looked down and saw a small pool of come on his stomach and then flicked his eyes up to see Derek wiping a bit of come from his lip. “Oh fuck, I’m sorry. It just…gah, that’s sexy.” Derek raised his eyebrows as he licked his fingers. “I’m sorry I didn’t warn you. It just…blew me away.” Stiles grinned and Derek rolled his eyes.

“It’s not a big deal,” Derek said, leaning forward and hovering just over Stiles’ mouth. “But keep making bad blowjob jokes and I’ll never do it again.”

“Ten-four. Ixnay on the blowjob jokes. I’m not sure how we’re ever going to get anything done now because I think the only thing you should ever use your mouth for from now on is to suck my cock.”

“Hmm,” Derek said, pressing a rather filthy open-mouth kissed against Stiles’ mouth, “just imagine how good it’ll be when you don’t get off the second I slide my lips around you.”

“Oh god,” Stiles groaned as Derek’s tongue traced the outline of his lips, his cock growing half-hard again. “You should always talk dirty. You should do nothing else but talk dirty and suck my cock.” Derek laughed and thrust his erection against Stiles’ groin. “Oh, I should do something about that, shouldn’t I?” Stiles said, trying to squirm out from under Derek.

“I have a better idea,” Derek said. Stiles watched him in interest as Derek raised up on his arms and slid his cock in the come smeared on Stiles’ stomach.

“Oh fuck,” Stiles muttered, “is this another scent thing? Cause, damn.”

“No,” Derek said, using his hand to coat his cock. “Put your legs together.” Stiles complied and watched as Derek positioned himself and slid his cock between Stiles’ thighs. He moaned as Derek slid experimentally, then shifted himself before thrusting again. As Derek thrust, the shaft of his cock slid along the underside of Stiles’ balls, and he couldn’t help the moan that escaped his lips.

Derek set up a quick rhythm, his shallow thrusts pressing against Stiles’ sack and the sensitive flesh behind them. His cock, now hard again, was trapped between their bodies, and Derek maneuvered his hand between them to grip the shaft. Stiles gripped Derek’s back tightly, his fingers digging into the tight flesh as Derek slid between his legs, teasing and pushing. Stiles felt Derek still and heard a quiet moan as he orgasmed, and when Stiles felt the sticky warmth between his thighs and against his balls, he came with a soft moan.

When Stiles could move and think again, he rolled out of the wet spot and decided to deal with that later, after Derek left. Derek stretched out against the wall and Stiles pressed himself flush against Derek.

“You know,” Stiles said against Derek’s chest, Derek’s hands tracing light circles along his back, “all that stuff you did tonight? I’m doing that to you tomorrow.”

“I was counting on that,” Derek replied sleepily.

“Good. Glad to know we’re on the same page.”

*

In mid-July, Danny threw a party, and Stiles went with Isaac and Scott. As soon as they arrived, Scott looked for Allison and then tracked down Lydia to ask about her. Lydia assured him Allison was fine, but no, she wasn’t going to tell him where she was or give her a message. Depressed, Scott found an empty couch and sulked. Isaac began flirting with two girls almost immediately and ended up cozy with one in the corner. Stiles did a number of jello shots with Danny, Greenberg, and other members of the lacrosse team, and now, he was feeling pretty tipsy as he joined in the chanting while Greenberg drank beer out of a funnel. When Greenberg was done, managing to spill only a tiny amount on his shirt, Stiles did another shot with Danny before wandering out of the dining room in search of the bathroom. While he walked, he dug his phone out of his pocket to text Derek.

Greqy poartu. i midd u i eanr u ur so secu.

Derek texted him back a few minutes later, causing Stiles to do a little happy dance that sent him bumping into a nearby girl. He apologized before reading the text.

Stiles, you’re drunk.

well your hoit.

Where are Isaac and Scott? You should find them.

I wisg u weer hear.

Stiles opened a few doors that weren’t the bathroom – and seeing three couples in random states of undress was something he’d unfortunately never unsee – before someone pointed to a door down the hall. He opened the door and stepped inside as he searched for the light switch, but his foot didn’t hit the floor and he tumbled down shallow steps. His head hit cold concrete as the door shut above him, enclosing him in complete darkness.

He was trapped in a basement. Alone. Terror paralyzed him on the spot. He crab-walked backwards until he hit a wall and pressed as closely against it as he could. His body started shaking as he felt hands circling his throat, cutting off his air. He choked as he tried to breathe, the pain from a hard fist spreading on his cheek. He braced himself for the next blow, straining his ear for the sounds of Gerard’s footsteps.

He didn’t realize he was screaming until someone was shaking him. He put his hands up, trying to knock any coming blow away while protecting his face, and then felt fingers circling his wrists. The room came into focus, and Stiles saw Scott and Isaac standing in front of him, Scott holding his wrists, while Lydia and Danny hovered behind them, faces covered in fear.

“Stiles,” Scott said. “Calm down! It’s okay.”

Stiles looked around wildly. “Where are Erica and Boyd?”

Scott and Isaac shared a look. “It’s time to get you home. Come on.” Scott grabbed Stiles’ arm and draped it over his shoulder as he hoisted him up.

“You’ve got to find them. They were here. Gerard…” Stiles stopped, leaned over, and threw up on the floor. He felt a hand rubbing his back as he threw up again. The rest was a blur as he somehow ended up lying in the back of the jeep. The vehicle moved under him as fear trickled through his veins, gripping every nerve and fiber of his body. He felt hands circling his throat again, and his stomach churned as he struggled to breathe. “We have to go back. Erica and Boyd are back there.”

The next thing Stiles knew, the door was opening and Isaac was helping him out of the jeep in front of his house. Stiles glanced up and saw Derek standing in the driveway. “Derek,” he slurred, smiling.

Derek exchanged a few words with Scott and Isaac before he took Stiles’ arm and held him around the waist as he led him into the house. “You’ve got to be quiet,” Derek whispered. “Your dad’s upstairs.” Stiles made a “shh”ing noise with his mouth and then ran noisily into a table.

“Shh!” Stiles emphatically told the table, covering his lips with his finger. Derek managed to get him upstairs without waking up the sheriff, and he carefully sat Stiles on the bed before disappearing back downstairs. He returned a few minutes later with a glass of water and two headache pills.

“You’ll thank me in the morning,” Derek said as he made Stiles drink the glass of water. After Stiles finished, he went across the hall and took a shower. His head started to clear a bit although his body was still wracked with residual fear and bad feelings. He placed his palms flat against the shower wall and let the water run against his neck and shoulders. By the time he got around to brushing his teeth, he didn’t feel like the world was spinning.

When Stiles got out of the shower, he saw that there was a fresh towel and clothes lying on the sink. He smiled as he got out of the tub, but slipped on the floor and rammed his elbow into the corner of the bathroom counter. He yelped as pain shot up his arm, causing small painful aftershocks to pulse through his body.

Derek stuck his head through the door. “Are you okay?”

Stiles was half-leaning on the toilet, still naked and completely wet. “Yeah, just great.” He rubbed his elbow gingerly.

Derek had refilled the water and made Stiles drink the entire glass before he was satisfied. Then, Stiles crawled underneath the covers and snuggled against Derek’s lap. Derek lightly ran his fingers through Stiles’ hair.

“Get some sleep,” Derek said quietly.

“I don’t want to sleep,” Stiles said. “I’m scared to close my eyes. I’m scared of what I’ll see.”

“You’re safe. You can relax.”

“Please don’t leave me,” Stiles murmured, already starting to drift off.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

*

Stiles stayed in bed for most of a week. Derek and Scott called him to check on him, but he ignored their phone calls and just texted to say he was okay. The day after the party, Scott called him over ten times and Derek called only once and sent him a text. Let me know if you need anything. Stiles looked at the text and knew that he liked Derek for a reason. Derek knew when someone needed space. Scott, on the other hand, was going to drive Stiles insane. But, Stiles guessed, that’s what best friends were for.

He had to clear his head. Stiles didn’t remember much about what happened at the party – Scott had told him over the phone the next day. All he remembered was one minute he was in Danny’s kitchen, the next he was in Gerard’s basement. Scott told him he had heard him screaming from the basement. Stiles didn’t remember screaming, he just remembered the paralyzing fear.

The fear hadn’t really subsided. For two days, he jumped every time he heard a door open, and he had a panic attack when his dad was late coming home. His father was worried about him again; Stiles could see it written clear on his face. And Stiles didn’t have the energy to pretend. He just told his dad he was having a bad week and left it at that.

Scott came over after a few days, slipping through Stiles’ window and causing him to almost crack open Scott’s skull with the baseball bat leaning against the nightstand. Scott didn’t stay very long.

Derek texted him every night, but only at night. Stiles thought Derek wanted to give him the space he thought he needed, and Stiles both wanted to cling to Derek desperately and have nothing to do with him. He was embarrassed that Derek had taken care of him while drunk, had seen him scared and rambling and with puke on his shirt. He was also embarrassed that he was so weak, letting a drunken flashback send him into some weird post-traumatic stress funk. So, Stiles didn’t ask Derek to come over, and he knew Derek well enough that he would not show up uninvited, but he always texted him back every night.

So Stiles remained in bed, watching tv, and trying to get over the body wrenching fear that buzzed in the back of his brain every passing second.

*

After a week, Stiles needed to get out of the house, and before he realized it, he was driving to the preserve. It had been awhile since he’d been running, and after the first mile, his body felt it. It was screaming at him to stop, but he ignored it and pumped his arms as his feet pounded the ground.

He wasn’t surprised when Derek fell into stride beside him. Stiles hadn’t realized how much he missed Derek until he was running beside him. Every nerve in his body was aware of how close Derek was, shirtless and wearing small and frustratingly low-riding gym shorts. Stiles tripped over a root while he was not-so-secretly staring, and Derek smirked, but kept his eyes forward.

After a couple of miles, Stiles stopped. Derek walked beside him. When Stiles caught his breath, he reached over and grabbed Derek’s hand, intertwining their fingers, and continued silently along the path.

*

Later that night, Stiles texted and asked Derek to come over. His dad was working late, so Stiles met Derek at the door, and as soon as he shut the door, Stiles attacked Derek’s mouth, pushing him as forcefully back against the door as he could. Derek kissed him back hungrily, and they barely made it to Stiles’ bedroom before undressing each other.

Afterwards, Stiles was lying on his stomach, Derek stretched out beside him. His eyes drifted shut as a song he liked came up on shuffle. Derek leaned close and placed a light kiss on Stiles’ eyelid, and Stiles smiled.

“I’ve missed you,” Derek whispered.

Stiles opened his eyes and shifted his chin on his arms. “Why Derek Hale, did you just say something nice to me?”

“Don’t let it go to your head.”

“I missed you, too.” Stiles sighed. “I’m sorry about this week. I just…my head is kind of fucked right now.”

“Don’t apologize,” Derek said, running his hand along Stiles’ back.

“I just hate being so fucking weak,” Stiles admitted, his face growing red in embarrassment. He buried his face in his arms.

“You’re not weak,” Derek said, curling his fingers around the nape of Stiles’ neck.

“Yes, I am. None of you are freaking out and having weird flashbacks in basements. Only pathetic Stiles.”

Derek shifted and raised himself up on his elbow. Although he was feeling rotten, Stiles couldn’t help raking his eyes appreciatively over Derek’s naked body lying beside him. “Stiles, Scott has been a mess since he was bitten, and you know that better than anyone. Isaac, too.” Derek ran his hand along Stiles’ back. “I’ve been dealing with a shitstorm since I was sixteen. After – “ Derek paused and swallowed. Stiles reached out and placed his hand in Derek’s lying on the bed. “After the fire,” Derek continued, his voice quiet, “Laura cried for months. I would have, if I could have. I went numb. There was no way for me deal with the pain. Then I got angry, and I haven’t quite figured out how to get over that yet.” Stiles pushed himself up and kissed Derek softly. “And now, there’s the Alpha pack threat, and this vampire-werewolf, and Boyd and Erica are missing – “ Derek stopped and took a breath. “So, don’t ever think you’re weak,” Derek said, and Stiles nodded.

Derek sat up and moved around until he was straddling Stiles’ hips. “What are you doing?” Stiles asked, craning his head over his shoulder. Derek kneaded his fingers into the tight chords in Stiles’ shoulders, causing Stiles to moan. He didn’t even realize he needed that until Derek started massaging his tense muscles.

“How are the nightmares?” Derek asked as his fingers moved deftly across Stiles’ skin.

“How do you know I’m having nightmares again?” Stiles looked over his shoulder, and Derek kept his eyes carefully trained on Stiles’ back. Stiles got distracted by Derek sitting on his hips, his soft cock resting lightly on the small of his back. The muscles in Derek’s arms rippled as his hands worked over Stiles, and Stiles felt his cock stirring again as Derek’ ass rose and fell against his own as he moved over him.

“You’ve had them with me before,” Derek said, still not looking up.

“Bullshit,” Stiles said. “You’ve been standing outside my window, haven’t you?” He saw the flush creeping over Derek’s skin. “That’s the creepiest and sweetest thing you’ve ever done.” Derek looked up, eyebrows high, a slight smile tugging at his lips.

“I was worried,” Derek said quietly. “I just stopped by for a few minutes and made sure you were okay. Some nights you were still up and I could tell that you upset and anxious, and others you were asleep but terrified.”

Stiles resettled his face on his arms, hiding his smile. Derek stopped massaging Stiles’ muscles and moved off him. Then Stiles’ breath caught in his throat when Derek pressed his tongue right above his cleft and licked a long line up his spine. He moved excruciatingly slow, sliding over each individual vertebrae. Stiles’ entire body was on fire as little pulses of desire radiated from each place Derek’s tongue touched. By the time Derek’s tongue reached Stiles’ neck, he was hard again, and he rolled onto his back and pulled Derek down into a kiss as Derek settled his weight between his legs.

*

The pack meeting was pretty pointless since they just discussed the latest attack by the vampire-werewolf and the inability to gather any information on it. After Lydia left, Scott stood up.

“I think we should have pack movie night,” he said.

“We rented a movie,” Isaac said, holding up a disc.

“And brought snacks.” Scott smiled. Stiles looked between them in confusion, and then looked over at Derek. Derek shrugged, and Scott beamed.

Isaac and Peter sat in armchairs while Stiles sat on the sofa between Scott and Derek. “Dude, check out what I got,” Scott said, rifling through a grocery bag before pulling out a bag of cookies. “Mega stuffed Oreos.”

“Okay. That’s pretty awesome,” Stiles said, opening the bag and offering them to Derek. Derek grabbed three.

“Dude. They’re not even double stuffed. They’re mega stuffed.” Stiles took a few before passing the bag along.

Stiles tried to concentrate on the movie, but he felt so awkward. He was pretty sure Scott was doing this as some bonding experience to show his support of him and Derek. Stiles wasn’t sure what to do. Even though no one was looking at him, he felt like everyone was focused on him. Should he scoot closer to Derek? Could he lie against him? Usually when they watched movies alone, Stiles curled up against Derek’s side with Derek’s arms around him. Would that weird Scott and Isaac out? He didn’t want to do anything to –

Derek placed a hand on Stiles’ vibrating leg to still it. Stiles glanced at him, and Derek sighed and rolled his eyes before draping an arm around Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles tried to hide his grin as he scooted closer.

“Finally,” Isaac said.

“I won the wager,” Peter piped up from the other side of them. “You both owe me fifty dollars.”

“You bet on us?” Stiles exclaimed.

“Scott bet you two would cuddle up as soon as the movie started, Peter said halfway through, and I thought it’d take longer.”

Derek laughed as Scott muttered, “But I don’t have fifty dollars.”

*

Stiles was finishing up the dinner dishes when his phone vibrated.

“Scott?”

“We found the vampire thing,” Scott said. Stiles heard Isaac and Derek arguing in the background. “We’re in Derek’s car chasing it now. We have the copper knife. You said stab them three times in the forehead, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, three times in the forehead to kill them.” Stiles glanced over his shoulder to where his dad was watching TV with a beer. “Tell me where you are. I’ll meet you there.”

Stiles heard Scott and Derek’s muffled voices and then some rustling. “Stiles, stay there,” Derek ordered.

“No, I can help. I’m the one who – “

“It’s not a discussion,” Derek interrupted. “We don’t know what we’re up against. You could get hurt.”

“Derek, I – “

“Stiles, no.” The line disconnected, leaving Stiles staring out the kitchen window, furious. How dare Derek treat him like he couldn’t take care of himself? Angrily, Stiles ran up the stairs and into his room. He immediately loaded up his computer and started rechecking the bestiary and his research to see if there was anything he could find to help them figure out what they were up against. Derek might be a dick, but he was Stiles’ dick, and he didn’t want him running blindly into a fight and getting killed.

Stiles was retranslating the Hungarian legend that spoke of how to kill the vampire-werewolf when he stopped and stared at the page. “Fuck,” Stiles said, rechecking himself three times. “Fuckfuckfuck.” He grabbed his phone from his pocket and called Derek, then Scott, Isaac, and then Derek again.

He left a message on Derek’s phone. “Look, it’s not a vampire-werewolf, it’s a werewolf-vampire. Yes, there’s a difference, but you can’t kill it by a copper knife. You have to burn the pelts, and I know where they are. It’s the sheep farm where the first three murders occurred. I’m on my way now.” Instead of вампиp it was вукодлак because apparently there is a big fucking difference between a vampire-werewolf and a werewolf-vampire. These werewolf-vampire things, according to Transdanubian legend, arise from shepherds, so Stiles knew exactly where to find them. He was going after some fucking shepherds.

Stiles guilty told his dad that he was going to Scott’s before hurrying out to the jeep. He tried calling Scott and Derek again, but still no answer. Stiles berated himself the entire drive to the farm. He couldn’t believe he screwed up and misread the word. And while Stiles was thinking about it, what the hell was wrong with these Europeans and their weird fucking werewolves? They couldn’t be normal and have just plain old werewolves, no they had to have fancy hybrid vampire werewolves.

Stiles went over what he could do in his head. If he could just find the pelts before Derek, Stiles, and Isaac got their asses kicked by the werewolf-vampire, maybe they wouldn’t get hurt, or worse, killed. He kept calling Scott and Derek until he got to the farm. “Fuck,” Stiles said, shoving his phone into his pocket. He pulled lighter fluid, matches, and a baseball bat from the back of the jeep and hurried towards the house.

According to the translated passage, werewolf-vampires shed their skins and hang them on trees near their residence. Stiles knew there were at least two shepherds living there, and he hoped that there weren’t any others. He knew there was a slim chance that he would get close to the pelts without being detected, but he had to try. The bat slipped in his sweaty palm, and Stiles gripped it tightly as he tried to calm his pounding heart.

The night was dark around him, and he stumbled along the long driveway as he hurried. There were no lights on the property, so Stiles had to strain his eyes to see. When he neared the house, he moved slower and more carefully, straining to hear any sounds. He didn’t hear anything, so he kept towards the house. Right beside the house stood two fruit trees with three pelts hanging on them.

Stiles took off at a sprint, hoping to get over to the pelts without any problems. He skidded to a halt in front of the tree and pulled the lighter fluid out of his back pocket. He doused the first one and pulled out the matches when he heard something to his side. He peered into the dark but couldn’t see anything, so he dropped the matches and picked up the bat.

Suddenly, something came running towards him, and Stiles blindly swung the bat. It connected against something with a sickening crack, and Stiles heard a snarl. He swung again, but this time it only sliced through the air.

Stiles turned around frantically in a circle, looking into the darkness and trying to see whatever was coming for him. And then, Stiles was knocked onto his back, the air knocked from him. He tried to breathe, but something was pressed against his throat, restricting his air. He looked up and saw a dark outline standing above him.

This can’t be it, Stiles thought. I can’t be killed by a fucking werewolf-vampire hippie shepherd! He reached out beside him, trying to grab hold of the bat, but there was nothing but grass and dirt. Then another foot stepped onto his hand, making Stiles cry out in pain as the weight pinned his hand to the ground.

The foot against his throat pushed harder as the two figures spoke in what Stiles decided was probably Hungarian or Serbian. He was going to die. He was going to die and he was going to come back and haunt Scott for not answering his fucking cell phone!

The figure above him let off his throat and leaned down, baring ugly, distorted fangs. “Dude, you need to do something about your oral hygiene,” Stiles blurted nervously. Then he felt something sharp pierce the skin of his stomach. “Fuckfuckfuck,” Stiles repeated helplessly, bracing himself for getting disemboweled or his throat ripped out.

To his relief, he heard a wolf howl nearby, which momentarily distracted the werewolf-vampire. Then, he heard crashing through the trees and two large wolves knocked into the things pinning Stiles to the ground. A third one came to a halt over Stiles, and then two bright red eyes turned on him.

“I’m fine,” Stiles managed, and Derek turned back to Scott and Isaac who were fighting with the two werewolf-vampires. Peter ran up to them then and waited beside Stiles’ side.

“Derek, go help them, we can take care of the pelts,” Stiles said, getting to his feet and looking at Peter. Peter nodded and ran beside Stiles as they closed the short distance to the trees, but as soon as they got there, the third werewolf-vampire came out of nowhere and knocked Stiles onto his back.

Stiles yelled in pain as the werewolf-vampire sunk its claws into his side. Peter attacked it, and within seconds Derek was there, clawing and biting at it. Stiles ignored the throbbing pain, got up, and hobbled over to the tree. He felt around the ground, trying to ignore the sounds of teeth and yelps behind him. Finally, his hands touched the matches and then the lighter fluid.

Stiles jumped up and immediately struck a match and threw it on the already soaked pelt, jumping back as the thing engulfed in flames. He heard a horrific sound behind him and glanced over his shoulder to see one of the werewolf-vampires glowing red before breaking out in flames. The other two werewolf-vampires began fighting twice as hard, so Stiles ran over to the other pelt and squirted lighter fluid on it. He was just about to strike the match when something knocked him flat from behind. Stiles reached out in front of him, trying to grab the matches as a blood curdling snarling grew louder behind him, followed by foul breath.

The being was knocked off him by Scott and Isaac, and then Peter joined them as Stiles scrambled for the matches and tossed it on the second pelt. The werewolf-vampire Derek was fighting began glowing, and Stiles hurriedly drenched the final pelt and lit it on fire. The two glowing bodies burst into flames, and Stiles fell to his knees, exhaustion and pain overwhelming him.

“Are you okay?” Scott was at Stiles’ side, touching his shoulder gingerly.

“Fine.”

“You’re bleeding,” Derek said, on his other side. He lifted Stiles’ t-shirt to look at the wound.

“One of those bastards clawed me.” A terrifying thought gripped him suddenly. “Shit, I’m not going to become a vampire or a werewolf, am I?”

“No,” Peter said. “This type of werewolf can only be created by jumping through the rim of a birch tree three times while holding the thorn of a wild rose. And it became a vampire through necromancy.” Everyone stared at him. “What? Stiles isn’t the only one who can read.”

“Thank god,” Stiles said, slumping against Derek. “Hey, what were you chasing if it wasn’t the right thing?”

“A coyote,” Isaac answered.

Stiles struggled to his feet and they all walked to the cars. Stiles walked a bit slower with Derek, who was bringing up the rear.

“I see you got my message,” Stiles said.

“Yeah, I got it.”

Stiles squinted and tried to look at Derek, but couldn’t in the dark, but he knew that tone. Derek wasn’t happy. “What? We defeated the crazy hybrid freaks.”

“I told you to stay put. You could have gotten killed. Oh wait, you did almost get killed again because of your stupid habit of leaping without looking. And although you’re still alive, you’re injured.”

“I’m fine. The claw marks will heal in a few weeks. And I came to help since none of you knew what to do. That’s my job in the pack, finding out the important shit.”

“Yeah, but it’s not to find every single possible way to get yourself killed!” Derek yelled. “It’s not your job to fight. That’s our job. If you would just listen – “

“I’m not going to sit at home like some pussy while my friends are out there,” Stiles yelled back. They were stopped in front of the cars, facing each other. Even though Stiles couldn’t see Derek very well in the darkness, he glared in his general direction. “You’re not my Alpha, I don’t have to obey you.”

“I know I’m not your Alpha; I’m your boyfriend. And I’d hope that you’d care more about your safety because I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Stiles groaned in frustration. “You’re insufferable!” He turned and stalked towards his jeep.

“No, you’re the insufferable one!” Derek shouted as he got in the Camaro and slammed the door. Scott and Isaac looked at each other awkwardly before Isaac climbed into Derek’s car and Scott got in the jeep.

“Do you want to – “

“No,” Stiles snapped as he drove too fast down the road.

*

Stiles contemplated not opening the window when Derek tapped on it. He sat there for a full thirty seconds, staring at the tv and ignoring Derek before he finally got out of bed and stomped across the room and unlocked his window.

“What do you want?” Stiles asked. “I’m tired and my side hurts.”

“If you would have listened,” Derek started.

“I’m not fighting with you,” Stiles said. “We can fight until we destroy the loft tomorrow for all I care, but not tonight. I just want to fall asleep.”

Derek sighed. “Why do you insist on driving me crazy with everything you do?”

“It’s a gift.” Stiles crossed back to his bed and lay down. Derek followed, toeing off his shoes before crawling onto the bed beside Stiles. “I didn’t say you could lay down.”

“Don’t be an asshole.”

“Fine.” Stiles crossed his arms over his chest. “Why are you here?”

“Contrary to popular belief, I wanted to see how you were doing. How’s your side?”

“Sore, but it’s not the worst I’ve had.”

“How are you?” Stiles shrugged. “What’s that mean?”

“What do you want me to say, Derek? I’m not sorry I helped. I’m also not going to fall apart like you seem to think I will. I may be sans the superfast healing, but I’m not going to break just because some hybrid Hungarian freak sinks a few claws in me. At this point, that’s like a day at the park.”

Derek put an arm around Stiles’ waist and got right in his line of vision. “I’m not going to apologize for worrying about you.”

“Did you mean what you said? That you wouldn’t know what to do without me?” Stiles asked.

Derek nodded. “I thought that was obvious by now.”

“Derek, nothing with you is obvious.”

“Then let me make it obvious.” Derek kissed him softly, his lips warm and firm. Stiles sighed and relaxed into the kiss, his arms snaking around Derek’s neck. The kiss grew in intensity, Stiles’ tongue tracing along Derek’s lips and then sliding against Derek’s tongue fervently. The events of the night had Stiles amped up, so it didn’t take long before he was panting and gripping Derek’s neck tightly.

“You’re hurt,” Derek said as he pulled away.

“I don’t fucking care,” Stiles said. “I want you.” He pushed Derek onto his back and straddled his hips, sliding his hands underneath Derek’s t-shirt. Derek lay back against the pillows, watching as Stiles kissed his way across his chest, stopping to lave both his nipples. Derek’s fingers were carding through Stiles’ hair, and Stiles slowly kissed down Derek’s torso. He pressed slow kisses against Derek’s warm skin, the skin soft and tender against his lips. When Stiles got to the band of Derek’s jeans, he licked his tongue across his waist and nuzzled his face into the dark hair the disappeared beneath the fly.

“Stiles,” Derek said in a husky voice. “I want you, too.”

“Good,” Stiles said, thumbing the button through the opening.

“No,” Derek said. “I mean, I want to have sex with you.”

Stiles’ head shot up, and he looked at Derek with wide eyes. “You mean, like, sex sex? Like, the real thing? You putting parts of you inside parts of me and – “

Derek cupped Stiles’ cheek and rubbed his thumb beneath his eye. “All of that.”

“It’s about fucking time.” Stiles crawled up Derek’s body, ignoring the slight tinge of pain in his side, and covered Derek’s mouth in an open-mouthed kiss. They quickly undressed each other, and Derek turned Stiles over onto his stomach. He ran his fingers lightly over the punctures on Stiles’ side.

“If that thing wasn’t already dead, I’d fucking kill it for hurting you,” Derek said before dropping light kisses against them. “Do you have any lube?”

“Do you even have to ask?” Stiles reached into the nightstand drawer and produced a small bottle of lubricant.

“Just relax,” Derek said against Stiles’ neck as his hands rubbed circles against the cheeks of his ass. Stiles pushed against his hands.

“I’m relaxed.”

Derek chuckled and Stiles felt all of the blood going south. He couldn’t believe it was finally happening. He thought he was going to have to wait awhile before Derek was comfortable with this, but it was happening now, and Derek was behind him getting ready. His cock, trapped against the bed, twitched in anticipation.

“Raise up on your knees.” Stiles complied, and then Derek was sliding a finger between his cheeks. Stiles bit back a moan, but when Derek circled the tip of his finger around Stiles’ opening, he couldn’t help himself. Derek massaged his opening for a bit, trying to get Stiles to relax before slipping one finger inside. Stiles moaned again even though the sensation was uncomfortable at first. But Derek was slow and gentle as he slid his finger in and out slowly and carefully. “How’s that?”

“Fuck,” Stiles mumbled. “Good.” He pushed back against Derek’s hand to show just how good it felt. Derek took the hint and added another digit, and Stiles ignored the burn as Derek’s fingers filled him. Although Stiles was ready to move this along, he let Derek fuck him with his fingers first, allowing him to get used to the feel and giving his body a chance to expand and relax. Stiles felt less pain when Derek inserted a third finger, and when he had them pushed inside, he twisted his wrist. The slight pain was overshadowed by the intense desire Stiles felt, and he’d had enough of Derek’s teasing – he needed to feel him inside him now.

“Please Derek,” Stiles said. “I want you inside me.”

“Fuck, Stiles,” Derek growled as he removed his fingers. Stiles felt empty and frustrated, and glanced over his shoulder to watch Derek coating his cock with lube.

“You’re so hot,” Stiles said as Derek’s hand slid loosely around his shaft.

“You’re beautiful,” Derek responded, dropping a kiss to the small of Stiles’ back. Stiles felt his balls tighten and he took a deep breath to gain a bit of control. “Ready?” Stiles nodded as Derek positioned himself behind Stiles. He nudged the tip of his cock against Stiles’ hole, then, maddeningly slow, pushed inside and past the tight ring of muscle.

“Oh,” Stiles moaned, half in pain and half in pleasure, and Derek halted and bent over flush with Stiles’ back. Derek dropped open-mouthed kisses across Stiles’ shoulders and neck while he waited for Stiles to adjust. Stiles breathed and tried to relax, taking comfort in Derek’s patience. After a few moments, the pain subsided and morphed into pleasure, and Stiles pushed back against Derek, sinking him a bit deeper and causing Derek to moan. The sound shot straight to Stiles’ cock and his cock ached as Derek slowly finished sliding inside.

When Derek’s hips were flush against Stiles, he hesitated before sliding out again and thrusting back in. It hurt a little bit, which momentarily distracted Stiles from any pleasure, but as Derek languidly thrust inside him, Stiles’ body relaxed and accepted Derek more readily. So when Derek slid inside again, Stiles felt the immense pleasure of Derek’s cock filling him.

“You okay?” Derek asked, kissing the side of Stiles’ neck.

“Great. How about yourself?” Stiles rambled.

Derek laughed. “Fucking fantastic.”

“Glad to hear it.” Stiles craned his neck so he could catch Derek’s mouth in a sloppy, awkward kiss, but it didn’t matter. The feel of Derek’s tongue against his own as Derek thrust at a measured tempo sent coils of desire down his spine.

Derek pulled away from Stiles’ mouth and shifted slightly, still pressed against his back but with a different angle and grip on his hips. The next time Derek thrust inside, Stiles felt a surge of intense desire shoot through his body.

“Oh, oh…” he moaned, and Derek sped up his hips and wrapped his fingers around Stiles’ shaft. Derek pumped his fist at a different speed than his hips, and Stiles felt his orgasm growing closer, his balls tightening and desire pooling low in his belly. Then, Derek squeezed his fist and hit Stiles in just the right spot, and white exploded behind Stiles’ eyelids as he came with Derek’s name on his lips. Derek kept pumping his fist until Stiles’ cock was sensitive, and he reached down and stilled his hand.

Derek pulled out briefly, much to Stiles’ disappointment, and then flipped Stiles onto his back. He covered Stiles’ mouth in a rough kiss as he pushed back in, causing Stiles to moan at the different feeling now that he was on his back. Even though he was soft and spent, Stiles enjoyed the feeling of Derek’s cock filling him as he watched Derek’s face contort in pleasure, and he held Derek’s biceps, which were flexed with the strain of holding himself up.

When Derek opened his eyes, they were red and Stiles thought it was so sexy his body automatically contracted around Derek’s cock. He growled, baring his teeth as his thrusts became faster and harder. He buried his face against the side of Stiles’ neck, nipping at the skin as he gripped Stiles’ hips roughly. Stiles felt Derek getting close with each erratic thrust, and then he bit Stiles’ collarbone as Stiles felt Derek come inside him. Derek collapsed on top of him, licking at the bite he’d just left on Stiles’ skin.

“Oh my god, Derek,” Stiles said, his fingers in Derek’s sweaty hair. “That was amazing.”

“Mmmhmm,” Derek hummed against Stiles’ skin. Stiles laid there contently as Derek kissed his way across Stiles’ chest and shoulders, lightly brushing his lips against Stiles’ already sensitive skin. When he was done, he curled against Stiles’ side, his head resting on Stiles’ chest.

“You may just need to sleep here tonight,” Stiles said when he glanced at the clock. “It’s already 3 a.m., and I don’t know about you, but I won’t be moving any time soon.” Derek made a noise in his throat in response.

Stiles was almost asleep when Derek said, “I’m still pissed at you.”

“I’m pissed at you, too,” Stiles replied sleepily. He patted Derek’s back affectionately.

“Will you try not to get yourself killed?”

“Sure,” Stiles said. “I promise not to try to get myself killed. Until the next threat that comes into town.”

“Stiles,” Derek said angrily.

“Derek, go to sleep.” Stiles patted Derek again. “We’ll argue about this in the morning.”

“Fine,” Derek said.

“By the way, I feel the same as you. I wouldn’t know what to do without you either.” Derek leaned up and kissed Stiles lightly. Stiles smiled as Derek settled comfortably beside him and fell asleep.

-fin