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and if you're falling (I'm falling after you)

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« You sure u can’t get away »

Derek glances up and looks around the table. Laura is sitting across from him, intent on the phone she’s hiding in her lap from Cora and her prying eyes. (Their younger sister has a fondness for reading her messages aloud to the family; the more uncomfortable the text, the better.) The twins are in their highchairs, screeching at each other and making a mess of everything, as usual, and Stiles is in his designated seat right next to Derek, their parents ignoring them from the other end of the table, finishing off dinner and deeply immersed in conversation despite there being pretty much nothing new to catch up on since the last time they’d seen each other.

« Not even for a little bit? »

Derek considers it, eyeing his parents. They seem as if they’re in a decent mood, and his dad is sure to be agreeable with those three glasses of wine he has in him, but his mom’s the one who makes the decisions in this family and she’s sober as a judge. (Which is a phrase that’s thrown around this house liberally, as that is her occupation).

He lets the scenario play out in his head: him asking his mother if it’s cool that he cuts out a little early, his mother lifting an eyebrow at him and saying, “Don’t be rude, Derek,” and turning back to her conversation with Claudia and John and his father dismissively.

He lets any and all hopes he has of going out to meet Braeden die.

His sisters were lucky; Stiles is an only child and since they’re about the same age, give or take a year, Derek is the one he’s always gotten paired off with. And even though they’ve barely said a word to each other throughout dinner, even though Stiles seems more into entertaining his little sisters with silly faces and, Jesus Christ — Derek groans inwardly — peas up his nose than he is talking to Derek, he knows his mom would shut him down hard if he tried getting out of keeping Stiles company, (which she probably would very tactfully refer to here as “family time”) and he would look like a dick if he tried arguing with her, especially on Christmas Eve.

Most of the time, he doesn’t mind. Stiles isn’t the worst person he could’ve gotten saddled with and he’s not bad company, but on nights like tonight…

« My parents aren’t home »

Damn. It’s almost a crime to pass up on an offer like that. Derek sighs and sends his reply with more than a hint of regret.

» Nah sorry, can’t. We’re having a family thing tonight. «

« That’s too bad ;-( »

Stiles notices him glaring at the table and snorts a little.

“Dude, you look bored out of your mind,” he says in an undertone so their parents won’t hear them talking shit and give them clean up duty. Wouldn’t be the first time, probably won’t be the last.

Derek arches an eyebrow, like, ya think?

Stiles snickers quietly, and Derek feels a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth despite himself.

He and Stiles haven’t been especially close since they were kids, but they get along well enough. And they should after years of being forced together on play dates and joint family dinners and every holiday that passes in between.

It’s a different story outside of this house. Derek is a senior and Stiles is a junior, so it makes sense that they barely see each other at school. The circles they hang out in are…different. Derek has Boyd and Erica and Isaac, and Stiles has Scott and, well. Just Scott as far as Derek knows. Huh.

His uncle Peter barges in just as they’re finishing up dessert, holding a couple bottles of wine and a Christmas wreath he probably swiped off someone’s grave on the way into town. To say Derek is not fond would be an understatement.

Luckily for him, anyone under the legal drinking age gets shooed from the dining room pretty directly after that, so he doesn’t have to deal with Peter any more than the perfunctory nods they exchange in greeting.

Cora and the twins immediately run off to their play area, but Laura is the first to reach the living room and the remote, which means she has dibs on the tv for the evening. When Derek sees her choice—this low-budget eighties movie about a teenage, basketball-playing werewolf (because that’s realistic)—he shakes his head, nope, and nudges Stiles in the side, nodding his head toward the stairs.

“Come on,” he mutters, “we don’t have to watch this shit.”

Stiles seems about as relieved to escape as Derek.

-

Stiles flings himself across Derek’s bed, sighing happily. He snags one of Derek’s pillows—his favorite, actually—and stuffs it under his head.

“This is what I really come for,” he tells Derek, matter of fact.

“You mean you don’t do it for the company,” Derek responds, mock-hurt. He flops down next to Stiles, kicking him until he scoots over so that they can both have enough room to lie down comfortably, instead of just Stiles, who tends to sprawl out over whatever surface he’s occupying with no regard for anyone else.

“Well, that too,” Stiles says, sarcastic as ever. But he bumps his shoulder into Derek’s companionably, so that’s alright.

Derek rolls his eyes good-naturedly and grabs the book he’s been reading off his bedside table. Stiles takes his cue, pulling his phone out of the confines of his hoodie and scrolling through his apps, only breaking the silence every once in a while if he finds something funny or gross enough to share with Derek, and Derek will either laugh in response or say, “I hate you; why would you make me witness that with my own two eyes”; whichever the situation calls for. They have this routine down pat.

“So, uhm,” Stiles says, about forty-five minutes in.

Derek looks up, eyebrow raised. Stiles is fidgeting nervously, cheeks a ruddy red.

“So, what?” Derek asks, feeling somewhat intrigued. He’s known Stiles his entire life, and the guy is shameless. Seriously. Zero shame. He’s unflappable, even in the most embarrassing of situations. Whatever’s weighing on his mind must be good.

“Yeah, so like you’ve been with a lot of people, haven’t you?”

That is not what Derek was expecting.

He snorts and gives a slight shake of his head, turning back to his book so he doesn’t have to look Stiles in the eye. “I wouldn’t say ‘a lot,’” he mutters.

“But you’ve been with people,” Stiles presses.

“Yes, Stiles,” Derek says, patiently amused, “I’ve had sex.”

Stiles’ mouth falls open in shock.

“Oh! Oh, no! I just meant, like, kissing— you’ve had sex?” he repeats loudly. Too loud.

Derek claps a hand over his mouth, hissing, “Yes, Jesus, be quiet.”

Both of their heads swivel toward his closed bedroom door, the one leading out to the hallway connected to the stairwell. Light footfalls can be heard leisurely making their way up the stairs.

They hold their breaths as the steps come to a halt, too close to Derek’s room for comfort. Stiles sends him an apologetic look, but Derek doesn’t really blame him. He’s had a lifetime to acclimate to Stiles and his…excitable nature.

The door to the bathroom across the hall squeaks as it’s pulled open, and Derek lets out a sigh of relief. He’d live to see another day.

Stiles says something, but it comes out muffled, warm breath curling over Derek’s palm, and Derek is mildly surprised to find that he’s still covering his mouth. He drops his hand and wipes it on his shirt.

“Sorry,” Derek mumbles, feeling bad now for the overreaction. “My parents don’t know.”

No one knows. He doesn’t like to advertise it. An awkward fumble in one of the Whittemores’ empty guest bedrooms after a few too many drinks with some girl he barely knew wasn’t exactly the highlight of his life. Jennifer, Julia—he’s still not too sure of her name, which he feels really bad about—hadn’t stuck around afterwards. He stopped hanging out with that crowd, stopped going to the post-game parties and tailgaters, after that. He doesn’t tell Stiles any of this, though; lets him draw his own conclusions and leaves it at that.

“Oh,” Stiles says, blinking a few times in rapid succession like he’s trying to soak all this new information in and needs some help getting there. It reminds Derek of those old cartoons, the ones where a hamster or mouse gets stuck on a running wheel attached to a generator and they have to run in circles, manually creating energy for whatever nefarious reason.

Stiles’ eyes narrow shrewdly. “Was it bad?” he asks, and it’s almost as if he already knows the answer.

Derek cringes internally, but tilts his head around like he’s considering answering.

“What were you going to ask me, Stiles,” he says instead.

“So it was really bad,” Stiles infers, lips twitching subtly.

“Shut up,” Derek mutters, ears turning red. He sits up, making to leave. “I’m going downstairs, I’d rather deal with Laura and her shitty taste in movies.”

Stiles panics, apologizing quickly, “No, okay, I’m sorry, I won’t bring it up again.”

Derek eyes him warily, and finally nods, gesturing for him to start talking and Stiles complies.

“So there’s this girl that I’m kind of, sort of seeing,” he begins, and Derek has to hide his surprise. It never really occurred to him, Stiles and girls, Stiles interested in anyone romantically, let alone already ‘kind of, sort of’ involved with someone.

“Aww, how cute, is widdle Stiles in love?” Derek coos, feeling the sudden need to be obnoxious about this.

Stiles blushes. “What? No, we’ve kissed, like, two times,” he says impatiently. “That’s part of the problem. Actually, it’s the problem.”

“What is?” Derek asks, eyebrow quirking in confusion.

“See, I don’t have much experience in the kissing department, so I’m not sure if it’s me or she’s just, like, a really bad kisser.”

Derek lets out a startled laugh that he turns into a cough, but Stiles isn’t fooled. 

“Forget it,” he grumbles, rolling onto his side, away from Derek.

Derek sighs and reaches out, pulling Stiles back around to face him. “Stiles, relax, it’s not a big deal.”

“Yeah, maybe not to you, Mr. ‘I’ve Had Sex,’” Stiles mumbles petulantly.

Derek huffs another laugh, and then feels bad about it. Stiles still won’t look at him, cheeks blotchy red, eyes fixed on his phone.

Derek knocks it out of his hand just to get his attention, and Stiles gives him this offended look, but at least he’s making eye contact again.

“I didn’t have my first kiss ‘til I was sixteen either,” Derek confides, figuring it’ll make them even and Stiles can stop making that face.

Stiles’ eyes widen in disbelief. “For reals? You?”

Derek’s eyebrows furrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Come on, you’re telling me that with the-” Stiles breaks off to gesture to Derek’s face, “and the-” gestures to Derek’s person, “you didn’t find anyone that wanted to get all up on that until you were sixteen? Please,” he scoffs.

And it’s obvious by the expression he makes afterwards that Stiles hadn’t realized how all that sounded until after it was said aloud. “No homo?” he adds like an afterthought, and Derek snorts a laugh. “But seriously,” Stiles continues, completely unembarrassed, “how in the hell?”

Derek lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know. I guess I just wasn’t all that worried about it.”

Stiles nods, seeming to be mulling Derek’s words over, and then he asks, “What changed?” and Derek doesn’t know what to say to that. He shrugs again, and Stiles seems to accept that it’s the only answer he’s going to get.

“So what’re you gonna do about your sort of-maybe girlfriend?” Derek asks, changing the subject.

Stiles lets out a large breath, looking stressed. “I honestly have no idea, man,” he says glumly. “What if it’s me? I don’t think it is, but what if it is? Should I ask? I’m just gonna ask.”

“You can’t just ask her; for fucks’ sake, Stiles,” Derek groans. “Do you want her to break up with you before you even start actually going out?”

Stiles appears to be thinking about it. “Well, no. I guess not.” His expression turns pleading. “Can’t you just tell me what to do?”

“No,” Derek says, and Stiles’ face falls and Derek just wants to make it stop. “But,” he quickly adds, “I can tell you if you’re a bad kisser.”

Derek recognizes that it’s a terrible idea a few seconds too late, but he’s already offered, it’s out there and there’s no way for him to take it back without causing mortal offense at most and at the very least hurting some feelings.

Stiles’ eyes get really big. “Really?” he asks, looking kind of touched at Derek’s commitment to his budding relationship. Derek grits his teeth against his own idiocy and nods, forcing his face to remain neutral.

“Are you sure?” Stiles presses, starting to look unsure himself. Like he thinks maybe Derek is pulling his leg, like he would do something that fucked up.

He should know that he wouldn’t, should know Derek, they’ve been friends since…forever. But Derek is forced to realize that they don’t really know each other all that well nowadays. They have different lives, which is a weird thing to consider since the two of theirs have always been so intertwined.

Stiles is staring at him, searching his expression for a hint of reluctance, and Derek is suddenly reminded that everyone used to call Stiles ‘Bambi’ when they were growing up and thinks how fitting it is, because with those huge brown eyes and long lashes and that air of innocence, he really is like Bambi personified. It’s kind of ridiculously endearing, and Derek thinks it wouldn’t be such a hardship, maybe, kissing this loser. For charity, of course.

“Because we don’t have to,” Stiles adds, like he hadn’t made that point already.

Derek lets out a quiet huff and says, “Jesus, just come here,” wrapping his hand around the back of Stiles’ neck and gently tugging him forward.

Stiles is trembling a little when their lips first meet, and Derek scrubs his fingers through the shorn hair at the nape of his neck, unthinking, to reassure him, calm his nerves. And it does, somehow, or at least it seems to, and they’re kissing and it’s—

Unexpectedly pleasant. Fuck, if Derek’s being honest with himself, it’s the best he’s ever had. For all his talk of inexperience, Stiles seems to know what he’s doing; uses just the right amount of lip, just the right amount of teeth and tongue. The way he shyly licks into Derek’s mouth sets something off low in his gut, and shit, he didn’t know kisses could be like this, let alone kisses with Stiles of all people.

Derek reciprocates eagerly, tongue sliding slickly, fucking perfect, into Stiles’ mouth. The sound Stiles makes, this sweet little content groan. It has Derek’s dick giving a weak twitch in his pants, and, wow, okay, that was not how this was supposed to go.

He pulls back, oddly reluctant, and rests his forehead against Stiles’ for a brief moment, both of them trying to catch their breath.

Stiles sits back and licks his lips, the gesture absent. “So it was definitely her,” he says almost conversationally, and Derek tries not to find it adorable, the way his eyes are still closed and his lips are pink and plumper than usual, kiss-swollen.

Not that he’s ever noticed Stiles’ mouth before just now tonight.

Derek quirks an eyebrow, suppressing a smile, and is, against his better judgment, about to ask Stiles whether that meant he was a good kisser, when Laura bursts in his room. “Hey, Stiles, your mom sent me to tell you they’re getting ready to leave.”

Derek calmly grabs his book where it lay, forgotten, in his lap, and buries his nose in it.

Stiles blinks. “Wow, that was quick. What happened, did Peter do something creepy again?” he asks jokingly, cracking up when Laura smirks a confirmation. 

“He always did know how to break up a party,” Laura says drily. 

“Must be a Hale family trait,” Stiles comments, winking at Derek. “Thanks for helping me out, by the way, man,” he says, smiling like they hadn’t just been making out like their lives were depending on it a minute ago.

“No problem,” Derek replies as easily as he can manage, and Stiles is grabbing his phone and getting to his feet.

Laura waits in the doorway with her arms crossed, casting glances between them with her eyes narrowed perceptively.

She doesn’t budge when Stiles tries to pass with an awkward chuckle, giving Derek a half-incredulous, half-fond look over his shoulder like, would you believe the nerve of this girl, before he pats her on the head (knowing full well her height is a sore point) and squeezes around her.

Laura glares, smoothing her hair down irritably and mutters something uncomplimentary under her breath, but somehow she finds it within herself to put aside her irritation just long enough to be a nosy shit.

“What’d you help him out with?” she asks Derek, sounding painfully curious.

“Nothing,” Derek mutters, climbing out of his bed and shouldering past her. He pokes his head out of his room, walks to the banister and leans against it, feeling the urge to see if Stiles is really as composed as he seemed or if it was just an act, see if he was as strangely affected as Derek.

But Stiles genuinely seems unruffled.

Derek feels this weird kind of pressure building just below his collarbone, and he rubs his chest absently as he watches Stiles run down the stairs, skipping the last three steps and nearly crashing into his dad.

The sheriff steadies his son neatly, not even faltering in whatever he’s saying to Talia, like at this point it’s just a reflex to keep the boy from causing harm to himself and others, and Derek feels oddly fond.

The feeling only grows when he sees Stiles exchanging goodbyes with his younger sisters, scooping them up and spinning them around as they squeal in delight, even Cora who’s almost eight now and probably too heavy for him to pick up with any amount of ease, given his general scrawniness. But Stiles is kind that way, always the one to make sure no one feels left out.

“Your face is weird,” Laura comments, somehow having come to stand directly beside him without his noticing.

“Shut up,” Derek mumbles. He turns and walks back in his room, locking the door behind him so she has no choice but to leave him alone.

He stays up a long while that night, trying not to overthink what had happened and failing miserably. Eventually, though, he manages to convince himself that it was just a fluke, nothing more, and falls asleep.