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Wednesday morning

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Stiles is well aware what he does for a living is somewhat… outside the ordinary.

Doesn’t mean he doesn’t love it. While it’s not what he answered with anytime anyone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up (and thank god for that), he still really enjoys it.

He’s in the office early this morning, coffee in one hand and paper tucked under the other arm, and he stands in front of one of the wide, curve-topped windows, taking in a deep breath and grinning. They’re the top floor of a converted factory in the West Village, and the rent would probably make Stiles cry (Danny handles all this stuff though, so Stiles doesn’t have to cry. That’s extra, anyway), but whatever, the view is incredible. The river off to one side, a snatch of the High Line to the other; it’s pretty much perfect.

He drops down at one of the desks, putting his feet up on the top and flipping open the paper.

Lydia is the next one in, punctual as always. Her disturbingly high heels make perfect little ticking noises on the hardwood as she comes in. Stiles looks up as she sweeps in, carrying a cardboard box and her bag, which she drops unceremoniously near Stiles’ feet.

“You’re wrinkling your vest,” Lydia says, looking at the bottom of said garment pointedly. Stiles just shrugs – usually his appointments are concentrated on other things besides some wrinkles, but Lydia is the Fashion Arbiter around these parts.

“What’s in the box?” Stiles asks, and Lydia just goes for a pair of scissors, opening it up and pulling out one of the items. “Oh, good, the new nipple clamps finally came in.”

Yeah, Stiles loves his job.

---

“You have a new Wednesday morning,” Allison says, dropping the client file on his desk. Stiles looks up, confused, and finds her staring down at him, one eyebrow raised.

“What happened to old Wednesday morning?”

“Cancelled abruptly yesterday.”

“Wife totally found out.”

“Probably. New Wednesday morning is Derek Hale, lawyer, wants you to dom,” Allison says, although she doesn’t need to spell it out. Stiles won’t sub for clients unless they come in on recommendations, which this guy hasn’t, considering Stiles has never heard his name in his life. “Lydia did his intake. I think she’s actually kind of sad he wanted a guy, because evidently he is, and I’m quoting here, a total hottie with a body.”

“Aren’t I the luckiest girl at the dance,” Stiles mutters, flipping through the file. “Shit, he works at Pearson Hardman? He’s a partner at Pearson Hardman.”

“Luckiest girl at the dance indeed,” Allison says.

“He’s going to be one of those people who’s going to argue in legalese over basic stuff like safe words,” Stiles sighs. “Calling it now.”

“Probably,” Allison says, and then pats him on the head before vanishing into one of the currently empty rooms down the hall, presumably to get ready for a client.

At ten on the dot the buzzer rings and Stiles lets his new Wednesday morning in. He meets him in the front hall and nearly falls over because, holy shit, Lydia was so right. Stiles has gone from not caring about suits one way or another to having a suit kink in the span of half a second. If Stiles hadn’t looked him up on the Pearson Hardman website he would have assumed the dude was lying about being a lawyer and was really a runway model.

“Mr. Hale?” Stiles says, because he’s always polite, even if his brain wants to run in other directions. At the man’s nod, Stiles smiles and steamrolls on. “I’m Stiles.”

“Stiles?” the guy says. “Interesting name.”

“My first name is too hard for mere mortals to pronounce,” Stiles says, and he gets a little smirk in return, and wow. Stiles is pretty objective about his clients - he has to be - but, hello, runway model lawyer.

They end up in one of the consultation rooms (which Stiles personally thinks seem way too close to getting dragged into the principal’s office) while Stiles picks Derek’s brain for all his do, don’ts, and are-you-fucking-nuts-nos. Derek, it would seem, has a thing for a pain. That’s not a shocker, though, if he’d come to Stiles instead of Danny, he wanted pain, not Danny’s skill set, and Stiles isn’t exactly known for bondage.

“Anything else?” Stiles asks, skimming over the list again. Luckily, there had been no legalese, not even over safe words (silver), thank god.

“Uh, yes,” Derek says, and he fidgets in his seat after being totally still and dry for the last half an hour of Stiles’ increasingly invasive questions. “I was referred here by someone who said that you knew about… uh, wolves.”

Stiles stares at him for a couple seconds, afraid he’d missed some new club thing all the cool kids were doing, before it clicks.

“Oh, yeah! Yeah, the co-owner is married to a wer, we’ve had some come through before. I’m taking it you are one if you’re bringing it up?” Derek just nods stiffly. “Totally fine.”

“Thanks,” Derek says, like it’s some massive imposition that he’s a werewolf. It’s not; they actually have reinforced restraints for this kind of thing. (Scott’s been very helpful in both bringing in clients and offering tips and websites.)

On the way out, Derek all set to come in next week, Stiles is struck by inspiration based on something he’d mentioned in passing during all the questions.

“Oh, before you go, dress shirts – neck size?” Stiles asks, and Derek looks at him for a moment, his eyebrows jumping.

“16.5,” Derek answers, and Stiles grins.

“Excellent. I’ll see you next week, Mr. Hale.”

Derek has an excellently broad back to watch walk away. Wednesday mornings just got a whole lot better.

---

Although most things have moved uptown, Stiles is old school, and his favorite leather place is still in the Village, tucked into the basement of a brownstone under an organic café and a gay club.

He waves through the window at Deaton, who buzzes him in with his usual quiet smile. Stiles breathes in as soon as the door is shut, the perpetual wet-dog smell of the Village replaced with leather, metal, and conditioner.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Deaton says as Stiles leans on the counter, grinning at him. “How’re tricks?”

“Pretty decent,” Stiles says. “Although, you’re about to hate me – can I rush a collar order?”

“Define ‘rush’.”

“A week?” Stiles at least has the good graces to look guilty. Deaton gives him a hard look, but he does reach for the pad of paper he keeps by the register, and Stiles beams.

“Alright, what do you want?”

“I’m not totally sure, probably something simple. Dude’s a lawyer, came in wearing a pretty dark gunmetal grey suit, one vent, really well tailored. Tie slightly on the skinny side, insanely nice shoes. Belt and shoes were black, but his wallet is brown.” Deaton looks up to stare at him, one eyebrow raised. “Oh, don’t give me that, I work with Lydia Martin; it was bound to rub off eventually.”

“Seemingly,” Deaton says dryly. “It’s going to be simple anyway if it’s a rush job.”

“You are the absolute best, thank you so much.”

Deaton shoos him out with the promise of having it done by Tuesday night, and, considering it’s the middle of the summer and not pouring rain for once (small miracles), Stiles wanders, hands in his pockets and satchel bumping lightly against his hip.

Like this – suit, bag, short hair – he looks like any other cubicle farmer in the city. That’s always amused him. It was all Lydia’s doing, but he didn’t actually dislike dressing like this (although he hates jackets, they restrict his movement, and so Lydia had capitulated to him wearing vests instead), and it is nice having some clothes that actually fit for once. It was also nice having Lydia mess with that. He might not be her sub anymore, but every once and a while he’ll let her deal with something for him, and it’ll be the most relaxed he’s been in months.

He wanders down Christopher as it’s getting dark, the bridge and tunnel crowd streaming out of the PATH station, and eventually finds himself at a diner he remembers from when he first moved here.

He sits by the window and watches the Village happen outside, and just takes an evening to not think, not work, not do anything, his feet kicked up on another chair and his coffee never far from refilled.

---

“I hear your new Wednesday morning is gorgeous,” Danny says when he comes in on Friday, grinning down at Stiles where he’s parked his ass on the couch in the waiting area in the front hall.

“Emotionally constipated lawyer,” Stiles says. “Kinda renders the gorgeous part moot.”

(It totally doesn’t, but Stiles is doing his best to remain detached.)

“That’s why god invented gags,” Danny says before dropping down onto the couch. “Or is that out for him?”

Stiles just shrugs, because they’re technically not supposed to talk about client preferences. Also, that had actually been Derek’s response when Stiles brought it up – a shrug. Shrugs generally mean bad things, so Stiles isn’t planning on shutting Derek up like that any time soon.

“How’s Greenberg?” Stiles says instead, and Danny doesn’t call him on the change of topics.

“He’s… coming around. I think.” Danny had just told his boyfriend of three months about what he actually does for a living last weekend. Their usual cover story is that they work at a social media start up, which, while hilarious, only really works if you’re not seeing the person almost daily for three months. People start to get suspicious, although Danny - as he is actually a coder and had a misspent youth as a little baby grey hat - can usually push it further than the rest of them.

“You think.”

“He’s actually more upset about the whole BDSM thing than me doing it for a living. Evidently the last time he dated a girl she had no idea what she was doing and it left him with less than fluffy feelings.”

“You did explain to him that you don’t actually do this outside of work, right?”

“I did, but then he shot back something about what if I want you to tie me up? Sooo, yeah.”

“You’re dating the King of Mixed Signals.”

“I know,” Danny moans, dropping his head into his hands.

“I think Lydia might have warned you about this,” Stiles says, grinning down at Danny. “Oh yeah: ‘don’t date a hedge, anyone who deals with the futures market has noooo idea of what they want’.”

“That’s… that’s a disturbingly good Lydia impression.”

“Where do you think I got that tone I order people around with?”

“Oh god, you guys are slowly becoming one person. It’s going to be like Kafka one day, but instead of a cockroach you guys are going to wake up as some ginger chick with too many moles.”

Stiles just lets his head fall back onto the back of the couch, laughing. Yeah, that’ll be the day.

---

Stiles picks up the collar on Tuesday night, thanking Deaton about eight times in the span of the three minutes he’s in there before closing. It’s a warm, dark brown, simple with unfinished edges and an unadorned buckle. The leather is thick, though, and somewhat less forgiving than Stiles is used to – he had mentioned, along with Derek’s size, that he was a wolf. It’s actually really gorgeous, in a quiet way. He’d had Deaton leave the D-ring off, because something tells Stiles that Derek’s going to be one of those people who will stay put without Stiles having to hog-tie them. Makes his life easier, and honestly, Stiles has always thought that if someone really can’t stay put during a basic scene either they’re purposely testing him, or they don’t really want to be doing this. Tied up is a) discussed before hand, and b) Danny’s department.

The collar stays in Stiles’ bag until he leaves it in one of the rooms right before, once again, Derek buzzes in at exactly 10. Letter of the law, seemingly.

Stiles meets him in the front hall, barefoot (they all have their quirks: Lydia won’t do a scene in anything less than 4-inch heels, Stiles won’t do one in shoes), and takes him into the back, where Stiles always wants to drop the act and ask the client if they want what’s behind door one, two, or three (there are actually five rooms, but Stiles is too lazy to count that high), but that’s not what he’s here for.

The last room is what they jokingly call the ‘leather room,’ because the only thing in there is a leather couch, a table, and a desk. It looks like a study, honestly, and it’s even the only one of the rooms with a window, although it’s got heavy black out curtains. There’s light leaking in around them, but Stiles still has to flip on the lamp on the desk. He’s willing to bet Derek can see perfectly in the low light, but Stiles isn’t a werewolf.

They’d agreed on terms last week, so when Stiles goes to lean against the desk Derek stays in the middle of the room, casting around for a moment before his hand finally goes to the cuffs of his shirt and he starts shrugging out of his jacket and shirt. Shoes and pants follow, and Stiles doesn’t miss the way he make sure the suit is carefully folded, tie on top.

Derek, if he’s not going to beat around the bush about it, is totally cut. If there was a competition for fittest lawyer in Manhattan, Derek would win by a landslide and probably cause some massive swooning problems for the male-inclined bit of the population. He’s almost going in the direction of too chiseled (Stiles didn’t even know that was a thing).

Derek looks at him for a moment before Stiles nods at the floor, and Derek kneels down slowly, turning to face the front wall, hands going behind his back. Stiles had known from the way Derek did the intake and responded to Stiles’ questions that he wasn’t brand new to the scene, but still, seeing this relaxes him a little bit. He wasn’t sure how much he was going to have to reinforce with Derek.

When he walks around Derek he gets a surprise – he’s got a tattoo, up high on his back between his shoulder blades.

“Wolfsbane?” Stiles asks, because he’s run with Scott long enough to know about wolves, and Derek just nods. Point number two for the hunky werewolf – he remembers the gag order from last week. Well, or he’s just the broody silent type (which, yeah, he probably is), but Stiles is going to give him the benefit of the doubt and go with option one.

Stiles makes a detour back to the desk, but when he opens the top drawer his hand stalls over the collar, and he frowns at himself. He’s not sure what stops him, but he goes for the strip of leather in the drawer instead, and he brings that back, wrapping it around his hand.

“Do you have anything you need to add before we start?” Stiles asks, yanking on the loose end of the strap to make sure he’s got a good handle on it. Derek shakes his head again, and Stiles comes around in front of him, staring down at him. Derek stares at Stiles’ bare feet and Stiles takes him under the chin, tilts his face up so that his eyes are on Stiles’ face. When he removes his hand Derek knows well enough to keep his head there, even though Stiles does see his eyes edge towards the strap.

Stiles ends up behind him, staring down at that tattoo, and then brings the strap down across Derek’s shoulder. Derek jerks, but he otherwise stays still, and the red mark fades before it can raise into a welt. That’s a fun trick.

The second strike gets slightly less of a jerk out of Derek’s shoulders, but he stays kneeling up, and every time Stiles asks if he’s alright, he gets a nod. The x Stiles puts down over the tattoo fades just as fast as the others, and Stiles would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little bit fascinated.

When he sees Derek get too tense he backs off, lets him relax; he’s not going to drop him in the first session. Today’s about learning who Derek is. Stiles might be standing behind him, but it’s been a long time since Stiles has needed to watch someone’s face to figure out what they’re feeling. People tend to school their faces and forget about their bodies.

When Stiles finally stops, it’s disconcerting to see Derek looking whole and unmarked, considering what he’s used to clients looking like when he’s done with them. He steps forward without thinking, trailing his fingertips across the expanse of Derek’s shoulders, and when he puts a hand around the back of Derek’s neck, Derek lets out a little moan and nuzzles into Stiles’ leg.

Stiles knows right then that Derek’s going to wreck him, and he swears his heart skips a beat.

---

The collar stays in the desk drawer. Stiles still isn’t sure what made him leave it there, but something’s been stopping him every session. There’s the fact that Derek refuses to let his body move, and that once he gets over the initial shuddering, he’s stock-still under Stiles’ hand for the rest of their time together. Stiles isn’t sure he’s ever seen anyone that still and silent out of bondage and a gag, and he’s not exactly sure how Derek’s managing it.

At first he thinks there’s a disconnect between him and Derek – that’s not a huge problem; most of his clients are in and out in a session. Danny and Lydia do most of the long haul work, so a disconnect is natural – but the fact is that every time Stiles stops and steps into Derek’s personal space he’s suddenly willing to move, to seek out Stiles’ hands and legs, just like that first time. It had crossed Stiles’ mind briefly to punish him for it, but he’s never done it. What would he do to Derek, anyway? Stiles can tell by the set of his shoulders that he’s punishing himself every time he steps through the front door.

About two months into this whole thing Stiles changes the routine on Derek, and sits on the couch for half their session, reading. He’s trying to get a rise out of Derek, he knows, but Derek never said to no to this in the intake, and he’s not protesting now.

In fact, Derek does what he usually does: stays still, eyes straight ahead, breathing even.

“Derek,” Stiles says, almost conversationally, as he flips to the next page of his magazine. “What are you hoping to get out of this as an end goal?”

Derek looks over at him, and he takes long enough to answer that Stiles is wondering if he’s going to have to tell him he can talk.

“I don’t have an end goal,” he says finally, and Stiles realizes that it’s the first time he’s heard Derek speak in weeks. At first, they exchanged pleasantries when Derek arrived, or chatted idly at the end of the session, but once they both got into the swing of things Derek just… stopped talking.

“Because you don’t know what you want, or because you don’t know how to get it?”

“Neither.”

“Why?”

“Because… because I don’t see an end to this.”

Well, that’s bleak. Stiles is willing to bet whatever Derek is dealing with, it goes beyond repressed daddy issues or a bad marriage.

He stands up, leaving the magazine on the couch, and stands behind Derek, his hands on his shoulders. He traces the contours of Derek’s muscles, and Derek sits back on his heels, back against Stiles’ legs. Stiles sees his eyes slip shut, and Stiles thinks he finally gets it, or at least part of it. With the way Derek reacts like he’s touch starved, Stiles is willing to bet that Derek’s locked up somewhere in his head, and doesn’t let anyone else in.

“What would you like today?” Stiles asks, curling his fingers under Derek’s chin and forcing him to look up at Stiles. It looks like Derek is actually putting some thought into it, and Stiles lets him take his time.

“The leather strap you had, the first time I was here,” Derek says finally, and Stiles knows exactly where that is – in the drawer with the collar.

“Good,” Stiles says, presses a kiss to the top of Derek’s head, goes to grab the strap, and as he’s wrapping it around his hand, he knows what the end goal is here.

Derek’s going to break, and Stiles is worried that he’s going to be the one to do it.

---

Derek’s been weighing on his mind a stupidly ridiculous amount, so on Friday, when he stops Lydia on her way out, she’s already got a knowing look on her face.

“Lydia, I’m sorry, but can I --“

“Yes,” Lydia interrupts him, pressing her finger to his lips. “Be at my apartment at eight. Don’t be late.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Stiles says, and he honestly means it. Being late and trying to get Lydia to punish him is not what he’s all about right now.

Instead he’s at Lydia’s at five to eight, and she tells him to take a shower while she finishes dinner. When he steps out of the spray, still dripping, Lydia towels him off and is there with his collar, worn after years of use. She buckles it around his neck with a kiss on the back of his head, and something leeches out of him when he drops to his knees at her feet, easy and familiar.

It’s been years since Lydia has laid anything but a hand on him, and it’s just what they’ve relaxed into, these scattered days, a few times a year when Stiles gets too caught up in his own head and Lydia’s there to make sure that he doesn’t have to think.

“It’s Derek, isn’t it?” she asks that night, when she’s reading against the headboard and Stiles is basically curled up in her lap, her hand around the side of his neck, over his collar.

“Yes,” Stiles says.

“He’s going to break, eventually,” Lydia tells him, and Stiles knows that. He just doesn’t want to be the one to break Derek, can’t do that to him.

“I don’t want to --“

“You want someone else to do it to him?”

To get him to stop thinking Lydia has him grip the headboard and then spends the night fucking him open on three fingers, driving at him with her mouth and hands until he’s nothing but a sobbing, babbling mess, begging for her to touch him. She’s been everywhere across his body but nowhere near his dick and he’s pretty sure he’s losing his mind.

(Lydia was always good for that, will always be good for that.)

When she finally lets him come he’s not sure he remembers what happens, but he wakes up the next morning naked and collared in Lydia Martin’s bed with a totally clear head, and he wouldn’t trade that for the world.

---

They’re midway through a session when it finally happens. Stiles has been laying down lines of red welts with a cane across Derek’s shoulders that vanish just as fast as Stiles can raise them, and that’s when Derek suddenly seizes up.

Stiles immediately drops his hand.

“Derek,” Stiles says, but he doesn’t relax, the tension building in his shoulders, and Stiles circles around him, bends down in front of him, and forces Derek’s head up by his chin so that Stiles can look him in the eyes. Derek suddenly looks like a skittish animal, his eyes darting everywhere but Stiles’ face, and Stiles swears they flash blue for a moment. “Derek. You can talk, if you need to.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek breathes out, low and quiet, and there’s an edge of something in his voice that’s almost a growl.

“What are you apologizing for?”

“I didn’t mean to make you stop.”

“It’s fine. Tell me what’s wrong.” Derek’s eyes leave his face again, and Stiles digs his thumbnail into Derek’s chin, making Derek snap his eyes back. “I don’t want to have to ask again.”

“I don’t know.”

Stiles is calling massive bullshit on that. Derek is incredibly aware of where he is in his head right now, and the fact that he won’t tell Stiles doesn’t bode well.

They stay like that until Derek’s breathing evens out, until he can stare Stiles in the eyes and not look like he’s trying to escape without moving.

“Please,” Derek says after a few minutes, voice almost hoarse.

“I’m not starting again until you tell me what’s wrong.”

Derek seems to weigh his options before saying, “I got caught up in a memory. Something from a long time ago. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Derek is looking him straight in the eyes, face blank. Stiles studies his face for a few moments before standing back up, hand never leaving Derek’s chin, so that his eyes follow him. “Please.”

Stiles licks his lips, waffles it on for a moment. He’s not sure if what Derek thinks he wants and what he actually wants are massively different, or if they’re exactly the same and Derek is goading Stiles into dragging it out of him. Not maliciously - he’s never had Derek try to pull that - but in a way that’s fundamentally more fractured.

Stiles stays in front of Derek this time, getting him to kneel as straight up as possible, and when he finally lets Derek’s chin go he keeps his eyes on Stiles. Stiles braces his feet shoulder-width apart, and brings the cane down on the side of Derek’s upper arm. He flinches, but his eyes don’t waver, and Stiles does it again, right next to where the first mark would have been.

As long as Derek keeps his eyes on him, Stiles will keep this up. Derek’s breathing hard through his nose, lips a thin line, and Stiles can see him bumping one foot against the ground every time Stiles hits him, counting out the strokes.

“Count out loud,” Stiles tells him, hoping it will ground him, and Derek is fast enough on the uptake to not have to ask.

“22, 23-“ He’s talking from behind clamped teeth, and on 29, his eyes close.

Stiles sees it like it’s in slow motion, and Derek’s thirty is a broken whine, his chin falling and his body crumpling in on itself, curled up in a ball, his hands still locked behind his back even though he’s not bound.

Stiles doesn’t even think about dropping the cane, doesn’t even think about falling to his knees and gathering Derek up in his arms; he just does it. He realizes, belatedly, that Derek is sobbing. Stiles holds him as tight as possible, lets him grip Stiles’ sleeves, tuck his head into Stiles’ chest and fall to pieces, scattered across the floor.

Lydia was right.

---

Stiles doesn’t want to move Derek, so he only lets him go long enough to grab a post-it out of the desk, scribble a frowny face on it, and stick it to the outside of the door. He knows that Allison’s Wednesday afternoon tends to use this room, but they’re going to have to deal with it. Stiles isn’t moving Derek until Derek wants to move.

Stiles sits in one corner of the couch, legs spread, so that Derek can curl up between them, head tucked into Stiles’ neck. His eyes are bloodshot and his lips red from where he’s been biting them, but Stiles just keeps running his fingers up and down Derek’s spine, the other hand anchored on Derek’s hip.

Derek hasn’t said anything since thirty, and Stiles isn’t going to force it. He’s not going to say shhhh, it’s alright or it’s fine, you’re fine, because it’s pretty obvious that it’s none of the above. Whatever Derek was thinking about was something big and ugly, and Stiles hates himself right now for finding it in Derek’s head.

Eventually it gets dark enough that he can’t see the sun around the edges of the curtains, and it’s only then that Derek finally lets out a long breath, shuddering slightly at the tail end.

“Shit,” Derek says, and his voice sounds like he’s been eating sandpaper. “I can’t believe I blew off a day of work.”

“You needed to,” Stiles says.

“Yeah, but I didn’t really have the luxury of doing it.”

Stiles has to stop himself from saying something like tough titties and screw your fucking bosses, the only place you needed to be was right here, and instead leaves the flow and direction of the conversation up to Derek.

“I –-“ Derek sits up, looking worn. “I’m sorry. I should go.”

“It’s fine; you can stay as long as you need to.”

Derek extracts himself from Stiles, picking up his clothes and dressing almost robotically. Stiles sighs and swings around so that he can put his feet on the floor, his arms braced on his legs.

Stiles knows there are a couple of massive problems here. He’s never been someone’s dom outside of work - he wasn’t even into the scene until Lydia came back from college with all sorts of business ideas (and other ideas) - and he’s also never broken like that as a sub. He has literally no frame of reference here, and besides ‘make sure Derek’s ok,’ he’s flying totally blind.

On top of that, he’s the one who caused this. Derek broke under his hand.

“Can you --” Derek is doing up his tie. “Are you allowed to come home with clients?”

The answer to that question is a big fat ‘no’. However, Stiles also knows that Derek doesn’t mean for sex. If he does this though, he’s going to cross a line that’s going to be extremely hard to walk back over.

“I’m going to go get my things and call a car. Are you ok to be alone?” Stiles says, because fuck crossing lines - all that matters right now is Derek.

Derek nods, just barely, and Stiles grabs his bag and calls the car service they use as fast as humanly possible before he’s back at Derek’s side.

---

Stiles had expected Derek to live in Soho or Tribeca, or maybe even downtown. He’s therefore slightly surprised when Derek tells the driver to head to Dumbo.

“I’ve lived there for years,” Derek says by way of explanation. “I went to law school at Columbia and never left the city.”

It might be where he’s lived since law school, but it’s still a seriously classy building, on the river with a doorman who just nods at Derek when he walks in. Derek’s shut down into what Stiles realizes must be lawyer mode, and he’s cold and silent.

He’s on one of the top floors, in a loft, and Stiles catches himself staring dumbly out the windows when Derek first lets them in, because the Manhattan Bridge is pretty much in Derek’s backyard, and it’s lit up with the entire Manhattan skyline shining behind it. Stiles does incredibly well, has a nice little place in Chelsea, but holy shit. This is otherworldly, the kind of apartment that everyone swears exists but no one has ever seen.

The walls might be white, but the furniture is all warm, deep colors, and there’s art everywhere. Stiles seems to have massively misjudged Derek – he’s evidently not a chrome and glass Battery Park type of guy.

However, he’s not here to gawk. When Derek starts moving towards the kitchen Stiles stops him with a hand on his wrist, reels him back in.

“I want you to go take a shower, is that ok?” Stiles asks, and Derek stares at him for a moment before nodding. “I’m going to make dinner. Take as much time as you need.”

Derek vanishes down the hallway, and Stiles lets out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He texts Lydia that he’s with Derek, hoping she’ll figure it out, and then sets his sights on going through Derek’s fridge and cabinets. He’s not an awesome cook, but he’s capable of basic stuff, and he’s willing to bet he can probably pull some kind of pasta thing out of the dry noodles and random, assorted veggies Derek has in a mostly empty refrigerator.

He’s almost done when Derek reappears, wearing nothing but a low-slung pair of well-loved jeans. Stiles has to stop himself from staring, but it’s hard, considering he’s used to seeing Derek either totally stripped bare or done up in his suits, and this, the jeans and the messy hair, is something… else. There’s something intimate about it that Stiles doesn’t want to examine.

“Do you need help?” Derek says, shifting from foot to foot near the island, and Stiles knows this has to be weird – it’s weird for him too. They’re operating in some weird in between of dom and sub, and houseguest and host. Stiles just shakes his head and points at one of the barstools with the spoon he’s using. It takes Derek a beat, but he does sit down.

Stiles slides a plate of food across to him, and Derek just stares at it for a moment.

“I know my cooking skills aren’t great, but it can’t be that bad,” Stiles says, and he can’t help the grin that snakes across his face.

“No, it’s fine, it’s just… you just made a vegetarian dish for a werewolf.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles says, and lets his head thunk on the countertop.

His screw-up is worth it for the small laugh it gets out of Derek, though.

---

Derek wakes up before Stiles, which isn’t a huge shocker, considering Stiles could sleep through the apocalypse, but he still feels like shit that Derek’s already up and about.

Stiles finds him in his dining room, nursing a cup of coffee and staring out at the bridge. Stiles stands next to him, his eyes tracing the buildings across the river, but stays quiet.

“Thank you,” Derek says finally, although he doesn’t turn towards Stiles. “I’m sorry I probably totally screwed up like two of your days.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Stiles says. “It’s beyond fine.”

Derek seems to relax into the words, and when he’s finished with the coffee he sets his mug down and turns towards Stiles, hands in his pockets. He’s wearing jeans again, with a t-shirt this time, and everything is faded and lived in, and Stiles wants to reach out and run his fingers down Derek’s chest, but he keeps his hands to himself.

“Do you want me to call Allison about the account?”

“Don’t worry about it; I’ll work everything out. I’m not on the clock right now. I haven’t been since yesterday.” Derek frowns, but Stiles plows on. “Look, if you need anything, and I truly mean anything, you call me, alright? I’ll leave my cell number. Even if it’s just that you don’t feel like making dinner, or sleeping alone. Can you do that?”

“Yes,” Derek says after a moment, and Stiles lets out a deep breath, taking Derek’s head in his hands and pressing a kiss to his forehead. Derek melts against him, and they stand like that for a long time, Stiles’ arms around Derek’s neck and Derek’s hands on Stiles’ hips.

After he’s totally sure that Derek’s all right with him leaving (and he’s still not sure if Derek’s telling the truth), he heads home feeling emotionally like crap. It’s warm out, even though it’s still early, and the traffic roaring overhead on the BQE on his way to the F doesn’t do anything to shut his head up.

Logically, he knew this was going to happen eventually. It’s still bothering him, though, because he was planning on Derek giving him more warning, which would give Stiles the control to not have this happen. Stiles knows he’s stupid to think that way, but he should have seen it coming, should have known better.

It’s only when he’s sitting on the Subway platform in the sticky heat and waiting for the train that he realizes what’s bothering him the most about it.

Derek didn’t safe word out. Stiles had to be the one to stop. He frowns at the opposite platform, reaching up to drag his thumbnail down a groove in the wall tile, and spends the rest of the trip home trying to figure out what that means.

---

After he’s taken a shower and changed into street clothes, he hoofs it uptown to go drown his head in Allison and Scott time. Thursdays are their weekends, which, considering yesterday, Stiles is incredibly grateful for.

Scott answers the door with a sandwich in his mouth and a screwdriver in his hand. Right, the cabinets.

“Sorry,” Stiles says. “I totally forgot you guys were redoing the kitchen.”

“It’s all good, man,” Scott says after he’s taken the sandwich out of his mouth. “Allison told me something was up. You know our door is always open.”

“Thanks,” Stiles says, and Scott just smiles, depositing Stiles on the couch with another sandwich and a soda. The kitchen is in complete chaos, but the new cabinets are several times less horrific than the old ones, so that’s always good. Because Scott and Allison own the place it’s up to them to do upgrades, and considering the condo’s been in Allison’s family for a while, the kitchen was in dire need of a face-lift.

“So,” Allison says, sitting down next to him and tucking her feet up under her while she paws some sawdust out of her hair, “who dropped on you?”

“Not dropped. Who broke on me.”

“Shit, Stiles, seriously?”

“Yeah. Lydia and I had discussed this, we knew he was going to break, but I didn’t expect it to happen in the span of about ten seconds. I thought I’d get a few sessions warning.”

“Is it the guy from Wednesday morning?”

“Yeah.” Stiles takes a sip of his drink and stares at the opposite wall at a spot above the TV. “I did stop, and I should have ended it there, but he convinced me to keep going. It’s my fault.”

Allison puts an arm around him, stealing a piece of tomato that’s fallen out of the sandwich. Scott comes over to join them eventually, a rather large amount of wood stain down his shirt.

“Work shenanigans?” Scott asks. Scott is, for the most part, totally divorced from this – Allison does this for a living, but she doesn’t bring her work home with her – but every once in a while he’ll get involved in a conversation or problem. Plus, he was the one who started the werewolf side of their business.

“It’s always work shenanigans,” Stiles says, sighing. “It’s not like I have a life outside of work.”

“You’ve got us and Lydia,” Allison points out. “Work’s just… it’s kind of consuming.”

“That’s one way of putting it. I know I technically love my job, but, right now things are just… weird.”

“You broke someone you’re attached to. Weird isn’t strong enough a word.”

And there’s the number one, hovering over everything problem. Bigger than trying to figure out what to do, or trying to puzzle out why Derek didn’t safe word – Stiles has gone and gotten totally attached. It’s not like he’s never been attracted to clients before; he certainly has, he’s even agreed to go to things like galas and openings with some of them before. The thing with that was that there was always money attached. There is with Derek, yes, but Stiles has never gone home with anyone before for the purpose of just being there for them, where money doesn’t enter into the equation.

Stiles groans and lets his head thunk against the couch back.

“Come help us with the cabinets, it’ll take your mind off of it,” Allison says, tugging at him, and they end up in the kitchen, covered in sawdust and wood stain, and it feels good to just laugh with the two of them.

---

The text comes in sometime when he’s with his Sunday afternoon, but as his phone is with his stuff in the back, he doesn’t pick it up until he’s changing into clothes that he can wear home without getting a ticket for public indecency.

Hale, Derek (17:44:07)
I apologize if this is forward, but I’ve got way too much Chinese take-out, an extensive DVD collection, and a free evening.

Stiles stares at the text for a couple seconds, stalled in pulling at the lacing on the corset he’s wearing (one of Allison’s; his Sunday afternoon was a one off that wanted him in a corset and heels, and while he had the shoes, he neither had nor could find a corset in his size in time, so Allison to the rescue), trying to figure out what to do with that.

He sighs, tosses his phone in the direction of his bag, and concentrates on getting the corset and PVC leggings off, which is the kind of activity he needs full brainpower for, because jesus, it takes an army to get these things off.

(Derek might be his favorite client because, despite all that other getting attached stuff, he can just wear a straight up suit into his appointments.)

He hovers around in their office space, staring at the text message before he realizes that he made his choice the minute he read the text.

He heads out so fast he nearly knocks into Lydia in the front hall, spinning around to throw out a quick, “sorry!” before he keeps moving.

“Stiles.” He stops dead, too well-trained to not respond to that tone of Lydia’s. He turns back around, licking his lips and offering her a sheepish smile.

“I’m sorry, I’m not --“

“Actually, that wasn’t what I was after. I was going to ask – do you need anything?”

Stiles looks at her curiously for a moment before he realizes what she means.

“I’m not running away from something, Lydia,” he says, tucking his hands into his back pockets and relaxing a bit.

“Ah,” Lydia says, and she smirks. “Running to someone, maybe?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, grins. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Be careful with him,” Lydia tells him on the way out the door.

“Always am,” he says, even though that’s a lie, because once he wasn’t, and now he’s dealing with the collateral of his own bad choice.

---

Derek’s doorman waves him up before Stiles can even open his mouth to explain why he’s here, and when Stiles knocks on Derek’s door there’s a muffled “it’s open” in response.

Derek is splayed out across the couch, a jumble of paperwork, limbs and a laptop, and there are various take-out boxes taking up the coffee table. Not even Derek in jeans and a t-shirt that morning during the week comes close to how undone and relaxed he looks at the moment, the furthest cry from the stiff suit he’d seemed when Stiles first met him.

“Hey,” Derek says, and then sweeps a hand over the coffee table. “Please, eat. I wasn’t kidding about ordering way too much.”

Stiles tosses his bag on the island and then drops himself on the couch, after Derek has moved his legs and some of the paper. Stiles grabs a pair of chopsticks and the closest box (he’s not picky as long as the item starts with an ‘f’ and ends with ‘ood’), and tucks in, pleased when it turns out to be string bean chicken.

When he looks up he notices two things. One: the movie Derek currently has on is Mean Girls, and two: Derek’s staring at him.

“I don’t really know you, do I?” Derek asks, and catches Stiles off guard.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Stiles says, shoving more food in his mouth.

“You came in here, tossed your bag about ten feet from you, and hopped over the back of the couch before eating like you’re a kid. You haven’t made a comment about the movie yet, but I know you’ve noticed it, which means that you probably like it. That’s all different than the Stiles I’m used to.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows, impressed. It’s his job to read people, every little telltale sign of body language, but Derek had just pinned down normal Stiles, not work Stiles, in the span of his actions in the two minutes he’s been in Derek’s apartment.

“I’m willing to bet what I do is as much of playing a part as what you do,” Stiles says. “I know you’re not a detached, heartless attorney, and yet you play that part.”

“I think you might be picturing me slightly wrong. I’m in mergers and acquisitions, I’ve only set foot in court on two occasions in my life. I do paperwork, not that TV procedural shit.”

Stiles had actually been picturing him wrong.

“I stand corrected,” Stiles says. He’s not sure this conversation has accomplished anything, but Derek did have a very good point. Who Stiles plays when he’s with clients is not, in any shape or form, who he is normally. It’s been long enough that it’s really not that weird to Stiles, and if he sees a client outside of work, it’s still part of that whole illusion, even if it’s just him on the arm of some woman at a gala at the Met.

“Can I ask an incredibly invasive question?” Derek asks after a while.

“Shoot,” Stiles answers.

“Outside of work, are you into the scene?”

That’s not actually the question Stiles was expecting. It’s also way less invasive than a lot of things Derek could have asked.

“Uh, yeah,” Stiles says. “I mean, I’m not attached to anyone – I was Lydia’s sub for a while, but that was years ago – but yes.”

“You were Lydia’s sub?”

“For almost a year.”

“I can’t picture you as a sub.” Derek is staring at the TV, frowning.

“I was going to say that clearly you haven’t met Lydia, but you have met Lydia. She’s pretty much the only one I’ll do it for, outside of work.”

“You guys have a history, don’t you?”

“We’ve known each other since grade school, and she got involved with the whole supernatural business after Scott was bitten.”

“Scott?”

“Sorry. Allison’s husband, my best friend; we all kind of go way back.”

Derek just nods, and then returns to his work, question answered. Stiles watches him for a minute before the DVD menu pops up and he realizes that the movie’s ended. He gets up to go poke through the bookshelves of DVDs flanking the TV and eventually decides on Blade Runner. He’s in the mood for a classic.

Derek looks up just long enough for him to figure out what movie is on, and then he’s back to paperwork.

It’s only when the movie is most of the way through and Stiles has polished off two boxes of food that Derek speaks up again.

“Would you come to California with me?”

“Sorry?” Stiles asks, because he honestly is confused and has no idea where Derek’s going with this.

“The week after this coming one I’ve got two weeks off, and I’ve got a place in Orange County. Is it out of the question to ask you to come with me? I’d be paying.”

It’s not out of the question; Lydia and Danny have traveled with clients before, but Stiles never has because that’s one of those lines he doesn’t want to step over.

(Not that he hasn’t totally dynamited a lot of his professional/private lines in regards to Derek already.)

“I’d have to clear it with Allison and Lydia,” Stiles says. “And I have to think about it.”

“I know, I just thought I’d ask.”

The rest of the evening passes in relative silence, at least until Stiles gets up to go because it’s the ass-end of the night. Derek stops him with a hand on his arm, and when Stiles turns back Derek slips off the couch, sitting on his heels at Stiles’ feet. Stiles reaches out to put a hand around the side of Derek’s neck almost out of habit.

“Derek --“

“All I’m asking is that you stay the night,” Derek says, and he looks up at Stiles, head tipped back, and there’s something stormy in his eyes that punches Stiles in the gut. He bends over, pressing his forehead to Derek’s.

“Alright,” Stiles says.

Line, meet dynamite.

---

It probably says a lot about Stiles’ life that they’re having this conversation while Allison is sporting a totally cliché latex nurse’s uniform and Lydia’s wearing nothing but some incredibly skimpy leather lingerie, and yet none of them find any of this particularly weird or out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s not out of the ordinary – the last time their accountant dropped by Lydia and Allison were wearing similar outfits and Stiles was in painted on leather pants, a collar, and not much else.

Stiles is at least fully clothed this time, which is good, considering he’s the one baring his soul here. Kinda-sorta.

“I don’t see a problem with it,” Lydia says. “There’s a clause in all the client contracts that they can take people away on a holiday with them, and that any clients who aren’t seen that week aren’t charged. The vacation rate is more than enough to make it up.”

“Ok, yes, it’s fine economically, I know,” Stiles says. “I’m talking about shit like feelings here.”

“You mean your mangst over the fact that you’re in love with one of your clients. Who you broke,” Allison says.

“I do not have mangst,” Stiles says. Lydia raises an eyebrow, and Stiles can’t be sure if it’s because he’s denying his mangst or not addressing the love part.

“Fine, call it man pain, whatever: you have it,” Allison says.

“This is not helping,” Stiles mutters, crossing his arms.

“This is your life; it’s up to you,” Lydia says. “Your choice.”

“Thank you, you’ve all been so helpful,” Stiles grouses, pushing off from where he’s leaning against the desk. Lydia just gives him a pointed look, which Stiles chooses to ignore, instead sitting down at the same desk. Lydia and Allison go collect clients, and he’s left with the sounds of the city outside the window and his own breathing.

Stiles isn’t the best at compartmentalization. He’s good with it - he has to be in this job - but he’s not great at it, and somehow that hasn’t come back to bite him in the ass until this moment.

He makes a mental checklist:

- He’s maybe possibly in love with Derek Hale. He’s not sure when or how that happened, considering they don’t really talk, and most of their interaction is between Stiles’ hands and Derek’s back and shoulders.

- Derek crashed under Stiles’ watch, and while this is really not a great thing, it’s also better than if it had happened while he was with someone else. Stiles doesn’t trust a lot of people in this world – which probably makes him really bad at being part of it – and he certainly doesn’t trust them with a fractured sub that he’s gotten somewhat protective of.

- He and Derek have become something like friends. This is probably the most surreal, and they’re now broken down into three increasingly weird worlds considering where this started: client and employee, sub and dom, and buddies.

(- Stiles cannot even wrap his head around the fact that he’s watched Mean Girls with Derek and then had him at his feet a few hours later, that’s just going to make his head hurt.)

- And: he’s so fixated on why Derek didn’t safe word out of the scene that he’s almost forgotten that the more important thing is that he doesn’t know what caused Derek to break, besides some old memory.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Stiles moans, leaning back in the chair and rubbing his hands over his face.

“Emotional turmoil?” Someone says, and when Stiles spins in his chair maybe just a bit too fast he finds Danny coming out of the back in khakis and a polo, complete with a popped collar. It’s so un-Danny it’s downright disturbing, and he’s seen Danny in a lot of things.

“Oh my god, do I even want to know why you’re dressed like the second coming of frat?”

“It’s a long story, but let’s just say that I have a client in ten minutes. What’s your current damage?”

“My current damage?”

“You have a lot of damage, I’m just interested in what’s got your tits in a twist at the moment.”

Stiles glares at Danny, but Danny just comes over to sit on the edge of Stiles’ desk, smiling at him. Danny, goddamn him, is impossible to be truly angry at.

“I think I’m going on vacation with a client,” Stiles says.

“That’s… yeah, see, I’d be so all over that. What’s the problem in here?”

“You know my emotionally constipated gorgeous lawyer Wednesday morning?”

“I do. We all do. How’s that going?”

“Oh my god, I hate my life. See, this is the problem. The guy I broke, who I’m maybe possibly in love with, wants me to go spend two weeks with him in Orange County.”

“Please tell me it’s the sunny, warm, and perfect Orange County, not the shitty one half an hour from here.”

“The former. I feel like I shouldn’t be going though.”

“On the contrary, I think the fact that he asked you means you should absolutely be there for him.”

Stiles sighs and props his head up in his hands. Danny has a very, very good point.

“Stop beating yourself up and help gorgeous lawyer man instead,” Danny says, patting him on the shoulder before the buzzer goes off and Danny goes to answer it.

Stiles stares at the desktop for a few minutes before he finally pulls out his phone. Derek’s at work, so he sends him a text instead.

As long as the offer is still on the table, I’d be happy to go to California with you.

---

Derek, because he is a rich bastard, evidently owns a ‘cottage’ (it’s two bedrooms with a front room the size of most Manhattan apartments) on Balboa Island, just off of the canal. Stiles is kind of having a hard time dealing with everything, because he’s currently sitting out on the little dock in front of the house with Derek, who is wearing shorts, a tank top, and aviators. This is weird on so many fronts. Stiles isn’t exactly the prince of darkness – he’s from California, for fuck’s sake – but he’s also not the kind of person who exists in this world, full of sun, kids, and fluffy dogs. And Derek in a tank top.

“Why keep a place in California?” Stiles asks, laying back on the dock with his hands behind his head. Derek looks down at him, a grin on his lips, and Stiles has to stop himself from physically reaching out for Derek. “Aren’t the Hamptons more your speed?”

“I’m from here originally,” Derek says. “Or, not here here, but about half an hour south.”

“Ah, you’re a dreaded Southerner,” Stiles says, and Derek just raises an eyebrow at him. “I’m from NorCal.”

“Figured that out the first time I heard you say ‘hella’.”

“What – what the – when on god’s green earth did I say ‘hella’ around you? I say that like maybe once every two years and definitely not around clients.”

“Like, six sessions in, when Lydia went to open the door for me, and you were yelling something at either Allison or Danny somewhere in the background.”

“Ugh, fuck, my carefully cultivated façade shattered by some badly-timed door opening.”

“Yeah, I’ve had doubts about your carefully cultivated façade since you showed up that first time barefoot. No one wears hipster suits like that without shoes unless they’ve got something going on besides rich hipster.”

“You’re judging me on my lack of footwear, really?” Stiles asks, grinning up at Derek. There’s sun in his hair, around the edges of his face, and it makes Stiles feel like he’s on the verge of doing something stupid.

Say, like, following Derek across the country levels of stupid.

“What I’ve learned about you in the past week actually makes a lot of sense,” Derek says. “You’re a switch, you feel overdressed in those suits, and you’re from Northern California. I’m going to guess if you know Scott you got involved with wolves pretty early on, and that always… causes issues in humans.”

“Issues.”

“Wrong word; it’s not negative. But you’re harder to tie down – no pun intended – a little more in the wind, and yet, a little more grounded. Add the not from New York thing, and it just… makes more sense. I spent a lot of time in our sessions trying to figure you out.”

“Means I wasn’t working hard enough.”

“In your defense, it’s hard to keep a werewolf in pain. Good show, though.”

“Is that why you stayed so stoic? I’ve been trying to figure that one out for months.”

“Partially. I also just don’t really see a need to move or speak unless I’m told to, in the context of a scene. What would it accomplish?”

“Me figuring you out, for one,” Stiles says, pushing himself back up on flat palms. Their shoulders brush and Stiles looks straight ahead, down the canal. “What makes people push back gives a lot away about them.”

They stay silent as the tide comes in, and eventually their feet are wet, on the last step of the dock that shows a water line. Stiles watches as a school of small fish swim past, glinting under the water in the sunlight.

“What do you want out of me for these two weeks?” Stiles asks eventually, and Derek turns towards him.

“Just a friend, for the most part,” Derek says, shrugs like it’s nothing, even though the words tug at something in Stiles, make him want to reach out for Derek like he hasn’t since that last session. “But I – is it alright if sometimes we do something else?”

“That’s technically what you’re paying me for,” Stiles points out. “How do you want me to know when?”

“I’ll – I’ll come to you,” Derek says, clears his throat. “The same way our sessions start normally.”

Stiles gets a visceral picture of Derek kneeling at his feet and has to force it away, down and out.

“I have a few things with me,” Stiles says. “That should be fine.”

(The collar had ended up in his bag, which Stiles doesn’t particularly want to think about at the moment.)

“Do you want anything from me?” Derek asks, and Stiles’ first reaction is to tell him no, that Stiles expects Derek to need him but not the other way around. Instead, though, he knows that there’s one thing he needs if they’re going to keep doing this.

“If you want this to continue, after these two weeks, you need to tell me about the memory that triggered you.” Derek sucks in a breath, and Stiles puts a hand on his thigh without thinking about it, an automatic reaction. Derek stays stiff for a moment, but he does relax eventually when Stiles starts running his fingers up and down his leg. “Not right now, not even tomorrow, but by the end of the two weeks.”

“Alright,” Derek says, although it takes a while, and his voice sounds quiet and uncertain. “Alright.”

Stiles just nods - he didn’t expect Derek to do anything different - and he watches as Derek slips a foot off the step, down further into the water, the light reflecting off of the surface of the canal.

---

It takes Derek five days to ask the question that Stiles figures he’s been itching to ask since day one. They’re on the pier on the peninsula, and for all intents and purposes, they probably look totally normal. Stiles has a hand in Derek’s back pocket, something that he’d figured out pretty fast calms him down, the same way any of Stiles’ touches do, and they’re walking slowly, meandering down the pier, back towards the beach.

“How old are you, anyway?” Derek asks. “Between the posture and the suits I thought you were older, but the way you talk and look makes me think you’re a kid.”

“Guess,” Stiles says, because he always loves the answers that question gets.

“Uh – early 20s, maybe a bit older.”

“Not quite. 28, brought to you by my mother’s freaky Elizabeth Báthory genes.”

“Those are some insanely good genes,” Derek says, and he does honestly sound impressed. Derek, Stiles has realized, is not the clamshell he thought him to be, and actually has all sorts of hilarious facial expressions and tones. Stiles had caught him glaring at the toaster before sticking his tongue out at it one day, which was absolutely amazing.

“You should be so glad I’m not in my early 20s anymore. Before Lydia got her hands on me I dressed like a little kid.”

“Is that why you don’t wear jackets or shoes? Lydia’s the one who got you into wearing suits?”

“I don’t wear jackets because they restrict your motion when you’re using any kind of whip or flogger, and I don’t wear shoes because I really love the feel of the office floors under my feet, and I just feel weird doing a scene in shoes. But yes, Lydia got me into wearing suits. Or rather, she basically kidnapped me one day and took me to a tailor. Five figures later, I had a new Lydia-approved and procured wardrobe. It looks way better, anyway. I think I was still doing the baggy jeans and giant hoodie thing because I had no idea how to even go about trying to kick the teenagerness out of my wardrobe.”
“I still can’t – it’s just so weird to think of you as Lydia’s sub. Was this full time?”

“Nah, but if she wanted me, I came. We both had jobs though, and those came first.”

“This was before Kanima.”

“Yeah, she opened it four years ago. This was right after we got out of college. Allison was the one who opened it with her, actually.”

Derek makes some humming noise, and they walk back to the ferry in silence, waiting while it putters across the inlet between the peninsula and the island.

“Stiles, I –-“ Derek stares down at his hands, and then back at Stiles. “I don’t know if it’s my place to do this, or even if I can do this, but…”

“What do you need?”

“Can I kiss you?”

Stiles is startled for a moment; he’d been prepared to deal with something totally different. Instead he just stares at Derek, mouth slightly open and eyes wide, probably doing a great fish impression. Trust Derek to strip him down to stupid kid again in the span of four words.

However, Stiles has always been pretty fast at thinking on his feet, so he reaches out with his free hand, turning Derek’s head towards him, and kisses him, swears he can taste salt and sand on Derek’s lips. He has to free his other hand from Derek’s pocket to cup his jaw, working at Derek’s mouth, and Derek’s arms end up around his waist. Derek’s skin is warm from the sun, and Stiles is barely in control of the kiss, but he doesn’t care, because this is something else now.

Derek has just gotten his hands under Stiles’ shirt when someone clears their throat and Stiles jumps back, turning around to see the kid running the ferry looking at them and looking slightly annoyed.

“You guys in line for the ferry?” He asks, jerking his head at the now docked ferry.

“The ferry! Yep, absolutely, totally,” Stiles says, and he’s pretty sure he sounds just a bit too breathless. “Because we are totally at the ferry launch. In public. Oh my god, I’m so sorry --“

Derek just takes his hand and all but drags him onto the ferry. They don’t run back to the house, but it’s a pretty brisk walk, and Stiles only waits until the door is shut to crowd Derek back up against it and kiss him again, breaking apart only long enough for shirts to get pulled off.

They don’t make it to the bedroom, but the couch in the front room is still a pretty excellent place to have sex.

---

Derek only ends up kneeling at Stiles’ feet once in the whole two weeks, after he goes outside to take a phone call and then comes back in looking twisted and pinched. Stiles knows Derek had brought work with him; he’s been doing bits and pieces of it in between sitting around doing nothing in the sun and fucking. Whatever they’re doing in bed is separate from this, though (in fact, the last time Stiles was having sex like this was college, before he moved to New York and got involved with Lydia), but Stiles senses the change almost immediately, and he comes out of the kitchen to meet Derek in the front room.

He’s on his knees almost immediately, one of Stiles’ hands in his hair, and he rests his forehead against Stiles’ leg, anger twisted in the set of his body.

“Are you alright to do this?” Stiles asks, and Derek nods against his skin. “Go into the bedroom, get undressed.”

Derek doesn’t have to be told twice - he’s gone in the space of a heartbeat - and Stiles takes in a deep breath, lets it out. The thing is, Derek’s never come to him angry. Derek’s been unhappy, and guilty, and broken, but not angry. Stiles isn’t going to do their usual with Derek like this.

Looks like it’s time to take a page out of Lydia’s book.

Derek’s naked and kneeling by the bed, but he looks surprised when Stiles tells him to lie down on it instead. Stiles sits down next to him and wonders how this is going to work. While he’s so totally aware of how Derek reacts to sex now (really enthusiastically), he’s not sure how he’s going to react to this in particular.

“Can I do something different?” Stiles asks, and he can almost feel Derek’s confusion, he’s so thrown off. “No pain, I promise. You can speak any time you need to.”

“What exactly?” Derek asks.

“That depends – do you have any toys here?”

“Bottom drawer, in the closet.”

Under a couple of blankets Derek has a toolbox that turns out to be full of all sorts of goodies. Stiles is going to have to remember this, because if Derek has a secret stash of toys and gear at a vacation house, who knows what he has at his actual apartment.

“Assuming I introduce sex into this equation, are you still going to be able to keep still?” Stiles asks, turning slightly to look at Derek.

“Maybe not,” Derek says, licking his lips. “There are cuffs in there.”

The cuffs in question are fairly unused, and Stiles bends them between his hands. He’s not worried about leaving lasting damage - it’s Derek - but they’re leather and not quite broken in. He still grabs them, along with a plug, and by the time he gets back to the bed Derek’s half hard and his breathing is rough, his eyes tracking Stiles.

“Are you sure you want these?” Stiles asks, and Derek nods. Stiles straddles him, slipping the cuffs around his wrists and clipping them behind one of the slats on the headboard. It occurs to Stiles belatedly that Derek has the strength to rip the headboard apart, but he’s hoping that Derek mostly needs them as a reminder, not an actual restraint. If that’s the case, he’s going to need to buy a new bed after this.

Derek whines, long and low in his throat, bucking slightly against Stiles’ weight. Stiles bends over, kissing Derek, and Derek’s lips open under his like it’s the only thing he knows, hungry and broken, but he lets Stiles guide him. Stiles runs his hands up Derek’s ribs, thumbing at his nipples, and it gets another whine out of Derek.

He kisses down the curve of Derek’s jaw, the line of his throat, and by the time he’s sucking at Derek’s collarbone, Derek is trying to grind down into the bed and up against Stiles, desperate for something. Stiles doesn’t stop though, just keeps going, biting at Derek’s nipples and placing hot, open-mouthed kisses down his sternum.

By the time he moves off Derek to bite and kiss at his hips and upper thighs, Derek’s torn between little hitching sobs and broken off moans, starting to sound wrecked in a way that Stiles knows well from his own body.

It’s only when Derek actually starts shaking that Stiles finally backs off, but when he looks up at Derek, he just nods, mouth open and lips bitten red.

The lube’s still on the bedside table from yesterday, and Derek’s gone enough that getting him up to three fingers doesn’t take as long as it normally would. Derek’s just whimpering now, little choked off sounds, and when Stiles takes his fingers out Derek actually gasps, and Stiles curls over him to kiss him, swallowing up the sounds Derek’s making.

When he pulls back Derek’s pupils are dilated, fixed on some distant point, and Stiles can’t help the little smile on his lips, although he buries it in the crook of Derek’s neck, biting at the skin here.

“You’re so good,” Stiles whispers, knows Derek can hear him, loves the shudder it gets out of him. “So good, Derek.”

When he drags a hand down Derek’s chest he arches into the touch, even though it’s almost nothing, and Stiles settles between his legs, reaching for where he’d left the plug near the headboard. He slips his fingers back in first, and Derek cants his hips up, another broken off sob falling from his lips. When Stiles finally slips the plug in, Derek moans, long and low, although he settles into it, breathing rough but otherwise quiet.

“Look at you,” Stiles breathes, thumbing at the skin around the base and watching as Derek’s breathing jumps. He twists his hips, but Stiles puts a warning hand on his knee and he goes still, breathing hard with something like a groan at the back of his throat. It makes Stiles’ mouth go dry.

He straddles Derek again, kissing him, tugging at his earlobe with his teeth, and it’s like the only sound that Derek can make are those rough half moans, sounds that never quite make it all the way out of his mouth. Stiles presses his forehead to Derek’s, holding his head, and Derek tips his head back, chin up, and Stiles could seriously break at that moment. His own breathing is starting to sound rough, and he’s been hard for a while now, but that can wait.

Derek’s movements are slow, his voice rough, and Stiles can’t help the kisses he scatters across Derek’s face, his forehead, the bridge of his nose, fluttering eyelids, the corner of his lips, in between broken off little noises of Stiles’ own – you’re so good, so, so, perfect like this, so gorgeous.

Stiles isn’t going to push it too far, werewolf or not, he’s still had his hands above his head for a while, and so Stiles makes his way back down Derek’s body, kissing and licking, and Derek’s little sobs come back, but they’re quieter now, less sharp.

Stiles stops between Derek’s legs, hands covering his hips.

“Derek,” Stiles says, and Derek tips his head back down to look at Stiles. “Do you want to come?”

Derek looks at him for a moment before he nods, and the “yes” that comes out of his mouth seems like it’s coming from somewhere far away. However, the minute that Stiles gets his mouth on him, taking him all down at once, Derek arches his back and just wails, straining against the cuffs, although not hard enough to do any damage.

Stiles isn’t going to drag Derek further than this, so it’s up there pretty high on the list of sloppiest blowjobs he’s ever given, but it’s so worth it to draw an orgasm out of Derek, his shoulders straining, head thrown back, spine a perfect arch as Stiles pulls the plug out as he comes. He’s not even making nose anymore, except for a sigh when he drops back down, Stiles licking him clean before kissing his way back up Derek’s chest.

He unhooks the cuffs but doesn’t take them off, helps Derek get his arms back down. The minute he’s free he rolls into Stiles, and Stiles is there, arms around his shoulders, body curved around Derek’s.

“You were perfect,” he says quietly into Derek’s hair, and Derek press a hand over Stiles’ sternum, lets out a long breath. They stay like that long enough for the sun to set, until Derek’s breathing is quiet and their heartbeats are slow and even again.

---

24 hours before their flight, early enough in the morning that the sun is still low, Derek finally tells him about the memory.

Stiles is sitting cross legged on the couch, drinking coffee and checking his emails on Derek’s iPad when Derek sits down on the chair across the coffee table. Stiles looks up, frowning – they haven’t been more than a few feet apart, for the most part, since Stiles took Derek out of his head a couple of days prior.

“I owe you that memory,” Derek says, and Stiles sets aside the iPad, sitting up straight and staring at Derek. “I… it’s a long story.”

“Take as much time as you need.”

Derek fidgets with the drawstring on his shorts for a moment before looking out the windows at the canal. It’s low tide, this early in the morning.

“I’m not bitten, I’m born,” Derek says. “My family was huge, all sorts of extended cousins and aunts and uncles, and we’d lived in San Juan Capistrano for generations. We had one of the few working ranches in the hills. I grew up there; I knew the hills, the mission, the roads, the train tracks. Unfortunately, hunters would come through every once and a while. For the most part it was pretty easy to broker treaties, but then this family called the Argents came though.”

Stiles had promised himself he wouldn’t interrupt, but he almost can’t help the startled “Argent?” that makes it out of his mouth.

“I looked into Allison before I even set foot through the door of Kanima. She’s from a different branch of the family. Her dad gave it up; he must have taken her up north and away from everyone. But, I got involved with one of the daughters, Kate. I knew it was stupid, but I was 16 and a complete fucking idiot. I thought that maybe she was different, which was something she supported. Told me that she’d never hurt me, that we’d get everything worked out, that we could show our families that could get along.

"We kept our relationship a secret in the mean time, for obvious reasons. However, there was this one Saturday night…”

Derek trails off, his lips a thin line, and he looks out the window again. The sun is just rising, and it backlights Derek, making his hair glow and throwing the shadows of his skin into sharp relief.

“One Saturday night, Kate and a couple of other hunters trapped my family inside the house, all eleven people who were living there, and burnt it down.”

Stiles is dully aware that he’s not breathing, that he’s gripping the coffee mug so hard he’s in danger of smashing it.

“My twin sister and I, Laura, were at school for band practice. We had a concert the next week. It’s the only reason I’m alive. Getting involved with Kate is also the only reason my family was killed when I was 16. So there you go: there’s the memory that broke me.” He sounds so bitter, so hostile, all of it directed right back at himself, and Stiles can’t deal with this.

Stiles had thought the he could remain detached, that this was going to be a memory that wasn’t something this huge, this horrible, this all encompassing, but before he’s even sure of what he’s doing he’s stepped across the coffee table, set his coffee down, and wrapped Derek up in his arms.

Derek sags against him, like there’s nothing left in his body to keep him upright, and Stiles manages to maneuver them so that he can cradle Derek with his body, Derek curled up against him.

“I’m so sorry,” Stiles says, voice barely audible, “I’m so, so sorry.”

He’s not apologizing for what happened then, he realizes; he’s apologizing for what it’s done in the present, for what it drove Derek to, for how it ended up with him sobbing in Stiles’ arms. Nothing could ever be said for what happened in the past. Words would be beyond useless.

Stiles runs his hands over Derek’s back, lets him grip the neck of Stiles’ shirt, and he’s reminded of when this all started, that he didn’t want to move Derek until he could move on his own.

He makes that choice eventually.

“I – I need a walk,” Derek says, voice rough, and Stiles just nods, letting him up. He only stops long enough to shove his feet into his sneakers by the door and he’s gone. Stiles slips down in the chair, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes and wondering what to do with all of this new information. Frankly, he’s shocked that Derek trusted him at all, not just enough to become a client, but then to let Stiles see him broken. Hell, Derek trusted him enough to drag him across the country and let him into his head.

Stiles is going to get lost in his own thoughts if he follows this, and considering he’s currently nowhere near Lydia, he needs to get moving and think about something else.

He means to do something with himself, but instead he ends up braced over the sink, staring at the dishes from last night and taking deep breaths to stop the panic that wants to crawl up his throat.

He manages, eventually. It’s a small victory, but it still counts, because that’s something he’s needed Lydia’s help with for a long time.

---

Derek isn’t back after Stiles has puttered around for an hour, so he starts packing up to give himself something to do, even though he technically doesn’t have to until tonight. He’s attempting to wedge his shoes in his bag when he remembers the collar, buried at the bottom. It’s still in the soft bag that Deaton had given it to him in, and when he pulls it out the buckle shines in the dull light from the lamp on the bedside table.

He sits down on the bed, runs his thumb around one of the rough edges. That’s how Derek finds him, and when Stiles looks over at him it actually hurts, because he’s getting freckles across the bridge of his nose, his shoes are in his hand and his feet are sandy, and his hair is stuck up from the wind off the ocean.

(And there’s everything else, everything that’s just been said.)

“Derek--“ Stiles starts, but Derek just shakes his head, and Stiles doesn’t try to say anything else.

Derek pads over and sits down next to him, and when Stiles offers up the collar Derek takes it, inspecting it, thumbing at the buckle.

“I had it made for you,” Stiles says eventually, quietly. Derek doesn’t look at him, keeping his eyes on the collar in his hands. “We have collars, obviously, but none of them were going to fit you, and I just thought… I don’t know. You came in, impeccably tailored in a suit that probably cost what normal people pay in a couple months of rent, and it just felt like a crime to put you in some mass produced piece of crap we ordered online.”

There’s a hint of a smile on Derek’s face now, and he turns to Stiles ever so slightly, looking at him out of the corner of his eye.

“It’s yours, if you want it,” Stiles says. “I mean, like, to keep.”

With that little smile still on his lips, Derek hands the collar back, and then in a simple, quiet movement that makes Stiles’ breath catch, he kneels down at Stiles’ feet. He tips his chin up like he has a million times before, because Stiles has held him that way.

“Derek--“ Derek shakes his head again, cutting him off like before, and god, Stiles can’t deal with this. It’s not his place; Derek’s not his sub technically, he’s a client, and he’s can’t be in a good headspace after what they just talked about. Still, there’s a voice at the back of his head that reminds him that they stopped being client and employee a long time ago, that this is something else, that at the end of this two weeks they’re not going to turn around and never see each other again. So instead, voice quiet because he doesn’t fully trust himself, Stiles says, “Turn around.”

Derek sits on the floor between Stiles’ legs, his back to the bed, and Stiles has to force his hands not to shake as he slips it around Derek’s neck, buckles it at the back. It fits perfectly, and Stiles can’t help it when he runs his hands around it, making Derek tip his head back.

Stiles leans over, and Derek tips his head more, and it’s a horrible angle, but enough for a simple, small kiss.

“Perfect boy,” Stiles murmurs when Derek turns his head into Stiles’ leg, watching Stiles out of the corner of his eye, and Stiles buries a hand in Derek’s hair, running his fingers along his scalp. Derek’s eyes slip shut, and he melts into Stiles’ leg, and Stiles wants to just stay here, in this moment, in this room, forever.

---

“You have a new Wednesday morning,” Allison says, dropping the folder on his desk. Stiles could swear he’s been here before because, oh yeah, he totally has.

“Oh my god, this is turning into my own personal defense against the dark arts position,” Stiles groans, picking up the folder. He hasn’t been able to keep a Wednesday morning since a certain werewolf happened.

“It’s totally cursed,” Danny says. “By Derek.”

“This is ridiculous,” Stiles says, flipping through the folder. Everything spells out bored housewife. Still, they make good money on bored housewives, and she’s been in the scene for a while, so she’ll be fine.

“She’s coming in after the first; I assumed you’d be around,” Allison says.

“Yeah, Derek can’t be away from work for too long,” Stiles says, tossing the folder back on his desk.

“Are you guys going to California for Christmas?” Lydia asks, and she give him a pointed look. Lydia’s the only one who knows what happened in California (although Stiles had left out Derek’s memory), and has since made no less than five jokes about the ‘beach house of destiny.’

(Stiles has tried to explain that the house was on a canal, not the beach, but this hasn’t stopped Lydia.)

“Yeah,” Stiles says, and he’s not expecting it when Lydia just smiles at him, a real honest, open smile. On her way to buzz her next client in she drops a kiss on his head, the way she would every time she put his collar on. Now though, it means something else. Stiles isn’t sure what it means yet, but it’s a good thing, not a bad one.

The lights are on when Stiles gets back to Derek’s place after work, which surprises Stiles, considering it’s just barely seven and Derek doesn’t make it home before eight or nine most nights.

“Derek?” he calls, dropping his bag on the couch in the one empty space that isn’t covered by a mess of papers and binders.

“Bedroom,” Derek calls back, and Stiles heads down the hallway to find Derek changing out of his suit.

“Guess who has a new Wednesday morning?” Stiles asks as he flops down on the bed with an omfph.

“Who is it now, Umbridge or Snape?” Derek asks, and Stiles looks up at him, slightly worried. Derek just looks confused.

“Oh my god, I made almost the exact same joke at work today,” Stiles says. “Did we get married in our sleep?”

“You did finish two of my sentences last week,” Derek notes as he strips his pants off, and Stiles doesn’t face plant back into the comforter in favor of staring at Derek’s ass.

“So creepy,” Stiles mutters, but Derek just grins. Stiles does flop back down then, and he’s just debating getting up and changing when he’s aware of Derek standing in front of him. Stiles lifts his head to see Derek standing by the edge of the bed, totally naked and holding his collar.

Fuck changing, Stiles is just going to skip to the part where he’s naked. First, though –

He sits up, taking the collar, and slides off the bed as Derek kneels down, facing Stiles. He buckles the collar on and Derek’s eyes flutter closed as he lets out a contented sigh. Stiles puts a hand under his chin, and Derek knows by now, so Stiles doesn’t have to lift his head for him; he just does it.

When he opens his eyes he stares right at Stiles, gaze unwavering, and Stiles bends down to kiss him.