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Derek pulls the tux jacket over his shoulders, grimacing at his reflection in the mirror as Laura laughs helplessly. His sister, bane of his existence, leans against the frame of his bedroom door and watches, clutching her sides, as he shuffles uncomfortably.

“Mom,” he whines, the click of a camera making his eyes flutter closed in frustration. This is stupid. Also, really pointless and embarrassing, come on. His mother’s soft laugh rings in his ears as she pulls the bottom of the jacket, smoothing out the material.

“You look gorgeous, baby, relax,” she says, and Derek valiantly ignores Laura’s snort in reply. He stares uncomprehendingly at the gangly teenager in the mirror, hearing no change in his mother’s heartbeat at the compliment.

Nope, he doesn’t see it. He just looks like himself, but stupider: black hair slick with gel, an angry draw to his eyebrows, and nowhere near enough muscle definition for his liking, even though he’s been borrowing his cousin Jeff’s weights for a few months now. He’s still sort of unremarkable. He’s not popular-kid hot like Laura — everyone says she is, okay, Derek does have ears — or ruggedly handsome like his dad and uncle. He’s just Derek, middle child, middle-ranking beta, and, no, going to the dance dressed like this won’t be the transforming moment in his life. He’s a junior and this is his first school dance and he’s going to suck at it really hard. This is really stupid.

He glares at his sister one more time and Laura finally leaves, giving Derek one last giggle as her phone starts to ring. For the first time Derek is glad that Laura is dating a boy from the Lewis pack. She’ll be at a dance two towns over with Aiden, and won’t be there to witness her brother’s sad wallflower act at the Beacon Hills Winter Formal; because let’s face it, he’s not going to have the guts to ask anybody to dance.

His uncle Peter, on the other hand, continues to photograph his nephew, grinning at the blush creeping up on the younger boy’s cheeks.

“I’m so glad you went with the cyan over the periwinkle,” Peter announces with a proud sigh, eyeing Derek’s tie in appreciation. “You know, it really matches your eyes.”

Derek can’t help it, he growls at that, hearing the laughter in Peter’s voice. His eyes flash blue as he turns to glare at his uncle, and Peter takes a picture, looking gleeful.

“Look, Derek, see-” he begins, turning the camera around to show the picture on the small screen. It’s bright enough in Derek’s room not to need the flash on the camera, and the photograph shows Derek’s wolf eyes in perfect clarity, as he pulls a perfect bitch face at the lens. Derek shakes his head, continuing to scowl at his uncle’s mischievous face. Clearly, that one’s going in the Hale family photo album.

“I don’t get why you’re making me do this,” he mutters, turning back towards the mirror. “It’s the Winter Formal, not the goddamn prom.”

“Derek,” his mother reprimands, and he sighs.

“I didn’t even ask anybody, mom.”

His mother cards a hand through his hair, settling on the back of his neck.

“You’ve been pining about the house for weeks, kid. Whoever you’re crushing on, you should tell them. I remember when I met your father-”

Derek’s groan is louder this time. “Yeah, mom, we’ve all heard this story. Please.”

His mother stares him down, her eyes determined even as she smiles.

“What are you, Der,” she asks fondly, “a man, or a wolf?”

Peter laughs delightedly at his alpha, as Derek’s shoulders slump in defeat.

“This is a terrible idea,” Derek mutters, trying not to wonder if maybe his mother has a point.

--

He’s right. It’s a completely stupid idea. He gets to the gymnasium and everybody is paired up, or dancing in groups to some mindless pop song. The air smells like sweat, cologne, and hairspray, and it makes Derek’s nose itch. The gym isn’t all that full yet, seeing as Derek doesn’t exactly do the ‘fashionably late’ thing, but he sees a few people he recognises, and really doesn’t want to have to talk to: there’s Danny Mahealani, dancing with Aiden’s twin brother, Ethan, and God he does not want the two of them reporting back to Aiden and Laura because that way lies an eternal hell of teasing about his lack of game.

Trying for inconspicuous, he shuffles over towards the table with the punch —one sniff confirms it, Jackson Whittemore has already spiked it, the fucking douche — and snatches a cupcake from a tray for something to do. It’s smothered in blue frosting, with some sort of edible glitter; not really worth going to the formal for, but actually kind of nice, so Derek doesn’t scowl at it too hard. He scarfs it down in one, and snatches up another, before wondering: actually, what’s the etiquette for this sort of thing? Is it cool if he eats more than one? Is anybody even watching?

Derek may have been raised by wolves, but he doesn’t want to completely fuck up as a human being.

He steps back away from the table, licking the frosting from his second cupcake nervously. A familiar voice behind him causes him to raise his head, smiling a little.

“Derek Hale eating frosting,” Isaac says, taking his place next to Derek and bumping gently against his shoulder. “What happened to the training regimen? Are you sick?”

Derek shakes his head at his best friend, smirking a little at Isaac’s touch. “Isaac. What are you doing here?” It’s pretty close to the anniversary of Camden’s death, and Derek knows Isaac hadn’t been planning on coming to the formal; usually, this time of year, he camps out under the covers in Derek’s room and plays Derek’s ancient Gameboy until his thumbs hurt. That being said, it has been better since Derek’s family found out about Isaac’s father’s abuse; Mr Lahey has been behind bars since the start of sophomore year, and Isaac, having been taken under Talia’s wing, has been a beta of the Hale pack for over a year now. Derek’s kind of proud of how things have turned out for his friend, all things considered.

Isaac shrugs back at him. “Cora said she was gonna, um, check it out. The dance, I mean. Thought it’d be cool to hang out, I mean, she doesn’t really know anybody here yet-”

Derek tries not to laugh, because — seriously, who is Isaac kidding — his little crush on Derek’s cousin Cora is legendary amongst the ‘wolves, and even worse ever since his cousin’s family moved back to Hale land. Isaac tries not to blush, then flashes golden eyes at Derek as he says hotly “and she said your mom was making you come to declare your big gay crush on Stiles, so I thought I’d come and give you some moral support, you dickbag.”

And shit, Derek panics a little at that, whirling around to make sure Isaac hasn’t been overheard.

“Isaac,” he hisses, more worried than mad. “Shut up!”

Isaac rolls his eyes at Derek’s stricken face, pulling him away from the snacks and towards a dark corner of the gym.

“Relax,” he says seriously. “Why don’t you just ask him to dance? He won’t be a dick about it. Well, any more of a dick than Stilinski ever is.”

Derek shakes his head at that, blushing.

“Nope.”

Isaac stares him down. Ever since he’s been working at Deaton’s clinic, Derek thinks, he’s really got the puppy eyes down. It’s almost convincing. But Derek is strong.

“Derek,” Isaac tries again, and Derek scowls at him.

“Please,” he says, curling his hands into useless fists, “shut. Up. Or I’ll rip your throat out.”

“With your teeth?” Isaac smiles at him, used to his impotent threats by now. “Sure. Okay. But for the record, Stiles and Scott are headed over this way right about now, so-”

And Derek panics again, dropping his hands to his sides as his palms begin to sweat. He can’t help it, okay? It’s Stiles.

Isaac doesn’t get it. Probably because he thinks Stiles is stupid for not falling over himself to be with Derek, which does make it a little better, but still: he doesn’t understand. Erica maybe does, though it makes Derek a little uncomfortable that it’s probably because she used to feel the same way, before she met Boyd. Stiles just appeals to people like him and Erica, though. Stiles is special. Not because of his long limbs or his freckled skin or his whiskey-colored eyes, though they’re all pluses that Derek enjoys picturing as he comes, but because of who he is. Stiles didn’t seem to care that Derek was really, really, socially awkward, or that Erica’s mom wouldn’t let her see The Avengers in case she had an episode in the movie theatre again (which, come on, is stupid, she had one outside the theatre one time, not the same thing) because Stiles hadn’t fit in either, before Scott moved to Beacon Hills in sixth grade.

Honestly, before Allison Argent moved to town in Derek’s sophomore year, Derek might actually have considered asking the other boy to dinner, being brave, maybe trying to kiss him during one of their legendary freshman-year study nights. Like, it hadn’t seemed completely out of the realm of possible things. But then he realised that Stiles’ infatuation with Lydia Martin wasn’t going away, overwhelmed by the smell of arousal on Stiles when he talked to Derek about her, and Scott McCall started dating Allison, and suddenly Stiles and Scott had stopped eating lunch with Derek and his friends and were at that table, with Danny and Jackson and the girls and why was this Derek’s life. His mom had warned him about Allison’s family. He hated Jackson, and Lydia’s perfume made his eyes water, even on days he didn’t’ hate her for having Stiles’ affections. Derek didn’t belong with those people. He saw his chance disappearing into air, like it had never existed, and, no, he didn’t do anything to stop it.

Even if Stiles were into guys — like, okay, he’s made some comments to Danny Mahealani that still make Derek’s heart skip as he analyses them over and over — he’s never going to go for Derek. Lydia Martin, exhibit A: Stiles likes confidence, beauty, intelligence. He doesn’t want a scowly loser like Derek who kind of likes poetry because he doesn’t know how to say things properly out loud and finds lacrosse stupid and boring (okay, so maybe Derek just doesn’t like having to hold back). Everyone thinks Derek Hale is weird, and Derek thinks maybe they’re kind of right. He doesn’t really know how to emote. Or be normal.

Which is why, by the way, it was a stupid, stupid idea for Derek to come to the Winter Formal.

But it’s too late to leave, apparently.

“Hi Isaac!” Scott wraps an arm around Isaac’s shoulder, looking for all the world like an overenthusiastic puppy. “And Derek,” he says, less enthusiastic — because for some reason, Scott never really warmed to him like he did Isaac — but still grinning. Derek and Isaac share a look. They don’t have to scent the air to know that Scott, probably Stiles too, have been drinking the punch. Like, seriously, drinking a lot of punch.

“Woah there, buddy,” Stiles says, stepping forward with mirth in his eyes. Fuck, those eyes. He stares at Derek with a sloppy grin plastered on his own face. “Don’t look too happy to see us.”

Derek stares at him incredulously. It’s actually kind of easier to deal with Stiles when he’s a tipsy idiot, Derek’s a lot less nervous, but… wow. Stiles is well on his way to being white girl wasted right about now.

“Are you okay?” he says, quietly. It’s supposed to be a question, but, because nothing ever goes how Derek wants, it comes out flat. He doesn’t sound nervous, at least, but he also doesn’t sound like he gives a shit either, which is apparently terrible social etiquette. At least according to Derek’s friends on the internet, who keep telling Derek to use his words and let him know how you feel. Derek clears his throat. “How much have you had to drink?”

Stiles rolls his eyes in response, clapping a large hand on Derek’s shoulder. Derek can’t help but stare down at it, because Stiles is touching him, Jesus. His hand is bigger than Derek expected. Not because Stiles is small — he’s maybe an inch taller than Derek, and their shoulders are both a little broader than they’d been in sophomore year — but because they’re somehow a man’s hands. Capable. Strong. It makes Derek think about dancing with him. Although Derek can (just about) smell the faint sheen of perspiration on Stiles’ body under the alcohol’s scent, his hand looks warm and dry and inviting. Holy God.

“Uh, okay, I’m taking my hand off,” Stiles says, and Derek yanks up his head to look Stiles in the eyes again. For some reason Stiles looks nervous, now, and Derek worries that his face has defaulted back to murder-y serial killer-y; like, he can’t really help it. It’s his resting face, and his mom always says it’s not that bad when you’re used to it, but Stiles looks kind of freaked out. Out of the corner of Derek’s eye he can see Isaac shaking his head at him, as Scott chatters away to him about kittens and zombie movies and Allison’s pretty hair.

“So,” Stiles says, standing up taller like he’s gathering his courage back. “You gonna ask anybody to dance, big guy, or are you gonna stand here in this corner like a dork?”

Derek blanches at that. Okay, maybe he is a dork. Stiles is a dork too, Derek shouldn’t be upset at him for saying it.

The word dork stops making sense in Derek’s head, but he still feels self-conscious. More self-conscious than before. Because he’s already wearing a suit that’s starting to feel a little restrictive in the pants area. And he’s already sort of hot under the collar. Because he’s a werewolf and they have higher body temperatures. Obviously.

“I’m fine here,” he says curtly, and Stiles runs a hand through his hair, looking awkward. He’s grown out the buzz cut he had last year, which sort of kills Derek, because now a bunch of the girls — and a couple of the guys, let’s be honest — are staring at Stiles and smelling like hormones when Stiles smiles at them in the halls. Derek doesn’t blame them. Stiles is hot either way, to him, but seeing Stiles looking like he’s just rolled out of bed, seeing him running his fingers through his hair: it makes the wolf in Derek whine and paw at his chest, wanting.

“Nobody you want to dance with?” Stiles says, and Derek’s pretty sure he’s teasing, and it sucks because yeah, actually, there is somebody.

“Look, Lydia’s here,” he says, by way of a distraction, and wilts a little when Stiles sighs wistfully. It’s true, though, the girl is walking into the gym with Allison at her side. She’s as beautiful and intimidating as ever, stunning in navy blue and gold. “Is she still with Jackson?” He says it because he’s an asshole, and he knows it. He says it to remind himself that Stiles can’t have Lydia. Just like he can’t have Stiles.

Stiles grimaces. “Yeah, they’re on again. Fucking Jackson. I hate that guy.”

Derek doesn’t know what to do with that. Everyone hates Jackson. “He’s a douche?” he supplies, trying to sound supportive. Stiles is looking more and more antsy, Derek realises, probably on the verge of rushing over to Lydia. Scott’s already waving at Allison, and Isaac looks like he’s spotted Cora, is striding off towards her, and shit. Derek doesn’t know what’d be worse: being left alone with Stiles, or being left alone by Stiles.

Stiles shrugs, swaying a little on his feet. “It’s so fucking unfair, dude. He just goes out, an-, and takes what he wants. I wish I could-” he cuts off abruptly, and Derek winces as he fills in the gap in his head.  I wish I could have Lydia. I wish I could be over there breathing in her strawberry-blonde hair instead of stuck here with you. Lydia is a goddess and no other mortal can compare-

“Bro,” a voice breaks into Derek’s angst. Scott’s looking between him and Stiles, an unreadable expression on his face. Derek thinks maybe he looks kind of frustrated, but that doesn’t seem quite right.

“Stiles, weren’t you gonna ask Derek something?” He says it meaningfully, like there was a purpose in the two of them drunkenly stumbling over.

Stiles shoots his friend a look, and Derek holds his breath. Stiles hasn’t really spoken to Derek for months, not since he started sitting at Lydia’s table. Derek and Stiles haven’t studied together since the beginning of sophomore year, before all the craziness with Isaac’s dad went down and Stiles and Scott moved on to cooler pastures. Sure, nominally they’re still friends, but it’s been at least a year since Stiles has stopped by the Hale House, and about as long since they sat on the roof outside Derek’s window and talked for hours about comic books and Derek’s dream of writing and how much Stiles missed his mom.

There’s a reason Talia Hale thinks Derek has been pining.  Short answer: he totally has.

“You were?” he asks, trying to keep his voice casual.

Stiles shuffles on his feet again. Derek resists the urge to put his hands on Stiles’ shoulders, hold him in place. Or dance with him. Derek can’t stop thinking about that. Maybe, he thinks, just maybe-

“Yeah, dude,” Stiles says, finally. “Um, I missed a couple of chem classes last week, so” Derek’s heart sinks, as he tries really hard not to be disappointed at where the conversation is headed. Not dancing. Of course not dancing. He’s Derek fucking Hale.

“You can borrow my notes,” Derek forces out, effectively cutting Stiles off. “It’s fine.”

Stiles looks like he wants to say more, but Derek can’t stand it any longer. Stiles hasn’t spoken to him properly in months, and, it seems, is only approaching him now because he needs Derek’s brain; it’s nothing more than that. He’s just a dork to Stiles. Lydia isn’t in their chemistry class this year.

 Not caring that Stiles and Scott are giving him weird looks — and okay, yeah, Derek’s probably being a little rude, so fucking what — he loosens his tie and swallows, looking over to the table where Isaac stands with Cora, Boyd, and Erica. Fuck this. He knew it was dumb, letting his mom convince him a stupid formal could make Stiles see him differently.

“Um, Isaac,” he mumbles, for want of an actual explanation for his stupid behaviour, and shoulders his way past Scott and Stiles to his friends.

Isaac takes one look at Derek’s pale face and pulls him in, pressing his lanky frame against Derek’s side and nuzzling his face into his neck with a wolf’s sense of comfort.

Derek tries hard not to think about Stiles’ hands.

--

It’s the full moon on Sunday, and Derek takes it pretty hard. The Hale pack run, like they do every month, but Jackson and his friends are out in the woods — Stiles included — and, in an instinctive dart, Derek breaks away from the pack. His wolf whines, scenting the air with glee as it chases down the scent, and Derek doesn’t even have the faculties to think about what he’s doing. His alpha stops him before gets too close. It’s a wake up call, and Derek submits immediately to his mother. The human in him is ashamed to realise what just happened: he’d been ready to search the preserve for Stiles, fully-wolfed out and uncaring about exposure. In full alpha form, his mother bites him warningly, and he bares his neck; it’s enough of a sorry to appease her, but he still whines, high and unhappy. He wants to kick himself, because he really doesn’t want to have to be locked up, like during his first few moons, just because he caught a scent and couldn’t stop himself. His father and uncle Peter herd him back towards his house, shame creeping up his cheeks at the loss of control.

His mother scolds the teenagers in her human form, for being out in the preserve at night, and says nothing about the bottle Jackson hides beneath his jacket. Laura, as alpha heir, goes along too, and tells Derek later how Talia’s eyes fix, kind of scary, on the Argent girl.

“Didn’t you hear there are mountain lions in these parts?”

--

Danny and Ethan get into a fight about Danny hanging out in the woods at night, and Derek thinks Ethan probably wants to tell him the truth about their heritage. It’s not just an issue for Ethan’s pack, though, and Ethan’s texts to Derek are increasingly desperate and miserable, hoping he’ll talk to Talia. That drama aside, Derek walks into school on Monday expecting everything to be the same, and he’s kind of surprised when it isn’t.

He tiredly shoves the notes at Stiles during chemistry, grunting in the other boy’s general direction. He’d gotten hardly any sleep, a mixture of the moon and his own anger at himself, and it probably shows because Stiles mutters a sarcastic thanks, that sounds like it should be followed by you asshole. Derek can’t help it, though. He spent most of Sunday morning typing the notes onto his computer, not wanting Stiles to see his doodles (there are lots of wolves, okay? Wolves and maybe some drawings of his OTP in the margins), because they’re not close like they used to be. Stiles used to love reading over Derek’s notes, freakishly comprehensive for all that the margins were crammed with art.

Now, all Derek can think is that Stiles already thinks he’s a dork; he doesn’t need Stiles to notice that he’s been drawing men making out. Especially not muscly werewolves, and men with cute upturned noses and buzz cuts and pouty lips.

--

Derek knows, logically, that nothing really happened at the Winter Formal. It’s not like he ever actually asked Stiles to dance, it’s not like Stiles actually said he wasn’t interested in Derek. It just feels that way. It wasn’t just that Stiles was clearly into Lydia; the problem was that even confronted with a drunk, friendly Stiles, Derek still had no idea what to say to him, how to flirt with him. And if he couldn’t smile, or be coy, or flutter his fucking eyelashes like Lydia, how the hell was he supposed to sustain Stiles’ interest, even if he could miraculously get it?

The self-esteem spiral is kind of sucky. Derek spends a lot of time in the next few weeks lifting weights, prodding his stomach and biceps hoping for some definition to kick in. His mom has always said he’s a late bloomer, but he’s a werewolf, for God’s sake. He has to start getting a six pack at some point. It’s like the law.

The sad thing is, it’s now Derek hiding under his covers with his Gameboy. Until that dies, that is, and he throws it at a wall, frustrated at being unable to beat any of Isaac’s high scores and unwilling to dig out his old Pokémon Red from the basement. Isaac hangs out in his room a lot, trying to convince him not to give up hope, while Derek sits at his computer in boxer shorts and old band t-shirts, playing the Sims 3 and pretending its real life.

Even Peter tells him he’s being creepy and pathetic.

--

Three and a half weeks after the dance, it’s starting to get better. Stiles has mostly stopped shooting him weird looks in the hallway, and Isaac has actually started dating Cora, which makes Derek think there may actually be some hope for him yet. Because everyone thought Isaac would dance around her for forever and never say anything, and there he is, making out with Derek’s cousin Derek’s sofa.

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly better.

On the Monday afternoon, the day of the full moon, Stiles catches up to Derek as he leans against Isaac’s locker. After last month, Derek has to admit he’s kind of wary. He doesn’t want to fuck up and lose control like some baby ‘wolf on their first moon, and yeah, it kind of sucks that Stiles has picked today, of all days, to approach him.

Stiles hasn’t said a word to him since Derek gave him the notes, but he’s been staring a lot, like he’s trying to figure Derek out. It makes Derek uncomfortable. Like maybe Stiles somehow knows how Derek feels.

“Hi,” he tries, when Stiles stops in front of him, looking apprehensive. If Stiles does know, then Derek will survive it, just like he survives being related to Peter and Laura and other traumatic things in his life. Like, he’ll spend a lot of hour on tumblr and eat cookies and probably burn down the Stiles and Derek dream house their Sim selves are currently fucking in, but whatever. Derek can be cool.

“Hey, Derek,” Stiles says, and then Derek is fucked to hell and back because Stiles is smiling at him, albeit kind of cautiously.

“How are you?” Derek tries. It seems like a logical conversational progression.

“Good,” Stiles says, and then, without any build up, blurts out, “did you wanna come over to study later? Like, after lacrosse practice?”

It’s not really what Derek expected. Like, at all, actually. It’s also the worst possible time for Isaac to show up, which, of course, is why he does.

“Stiles!” he says, grinning at Derek as he takes in the scene unfolding. “What brings you to my locker?” Isaac is wearing the shit-eating grin that Derek’s come to term his laughing-at-Derek face. It’s pretty douchetastic.

“Your locker?” Stiles asks, eyes widening as he looks at Derek. “Oh. Yeah, dude, no, of course. I was just-” he rubs his jaw awkwardly, and Derek’s fists clench as he tries not to stare at Stiles’ hands “-wondering if Derek wanted to study later. You know Harris, any excuse to fail me and he will, the guy’s a total dick.”

Stiles trails off, looking a little defeated. Derek really has no idea why, although he actually kind of feels the same. Not that studying with Stiles wasn’t awesome, but it’s not the same as Stiles asking Derek to hang out. It’s like the dance all over again, he thinks. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to say yes, but still. Why can’t Stiles just like him?

“I can’t tonight,” Derek says, looking to Isaac with a raised eyebrow. Luckily, Isaac understands Derek’s eyebrows well enough at this point to see it like it is: a cry for help.

“We’ve got plans with Derek’s family,” Isaac cuts in, smoothly. “But you’re free tomorrow, right, Der?” He tries not to grin as he says it, and Derek wants to flash his eyes at him, because nobody calls him Der, okay? Trying to ignore Isaac, he looks hopefully at Stiles, who is staring between the two of them.

“Sure,” Stiles says, looking unsure about it.

Derek doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry about it, but they arrange to meet in the library after school.

--

By the time Derek wakes up on Tuesday, he knows he won’t be going anywhere.

It’s eleven already, and his head is pounding, and his skin still feels gross and sweat-slick. Fucking witches, man. Every couple of full moons, some over-confident coven would try to encroach on Hale territory and harness the power of the wolves. This time, Derek, Laura, Jeff and Cora had chased them through the woods for six hours straight, before managing to lure them to the iron circle where an angry alpha waited to pass judgement. Derek can still taste the sour taste of magic against his tongue; it’s not the funnest thing in the world to heal from.

His mom brings him cookies anyway, not a hint of guilt on her face.

He’s still feeling shitty several hours later, after a shower and a few plates of baked goods, but he’s pulling through by marathoning Game of Thrones while he writes. He’s sat in a nest of pillows and blankets on his bed — and he’s not nesting, Laura, shut up — with his laptop open in front of him and his notebook resting in his lap, shielded from the prying eyes of anyone who comes to check on him.

It’s a Hufflepuff notebook, bought by Laura for his sixteenth birthday (Peter had agreed, with a considering look, that Derek was at least a Huffleclaw hatstall) and it’s full of slightly embarrassing poetry that nobody has ever read, but, well. There’s a lot about Stiles in there, from when he first started to crush on him, and Derek’s feeling sentimental, okay? Even if, you know, some of that stuff from his emo phase is actually frighteningly horrible.

He’s eating a peanut butter cup, happily mumbling along to season two’s famous you know nothing, Jon Snow, when he’s interrupted again, and this time, he doesn’t even bother to shove the notebook under his pillow.

“Laura, I swear to God,” he gripes, but then he tears his eyes away from the screen, and oh. Not his sister.

“Dude, are you actually sick?” Stiles asks, looking at him in surprise. “Holy shit!”

Derek looks down at his ratty t-shirt, realising too late that he’s not wearing pants. Just a pair of — thankfully black— boxer briefs and oh, God, no. The t-shirt he’s wearing, though faded from a literal decade of use, has Justin Timberlake’s face on it, and is apparently official tour merchandise from the ‘Justified’ tour in 2003. Oh God. It also kind of smells like his uncle Peter, which… nope, not something Derek wants to think about.

“It would seem so,” Derek rumbles, hearing the hoarseness in his voice from shouting at witches all night long.

Stiles looks concerned. “And here I thought you were standing me up, big guy; you haven’t been sick once in all the time I’ve known you!”

Derek remembers the notebook, shoving it under a blanket and pretending that Stiles doesn’t watch him do it. He shrugs at Stiles, trying to feign nonchalance. Obviously Derek has never been sick. Injured, yes. Sick, not so much. It’s a perk of being a creature of the night.

“Is it…” Stiles trails off, seeming unsure. It’s kind of intriguing, actually, enough that Derek sits up a little straighter, raising an eyebrow at Stiles in expectation.

“Is it a werewolf thing?” Stiles rushes out, and holy shit, Derek does not know how to deal with that. He hears his mother dropping a plate downstairs, swearing as it shatters against the kitchen’s flagstone floor.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he tries, and he hears his mother sighing, downstairs, probably at his inability to tell a convincing lie.

Stiles scoffs. “Come on, Derek, I’ve known for years. It’s not like I’m going to tell anybody.”

Derek waits for a moment, unsure of what to say. Downstairs, his mother sighs again.

“He knows now, Derek. It’s your responsibility to handle the fallout.”

It’s as much permission as he’s going to get, so Derek nods slowly at Stiles, then shrugs once, helplessly.

“The full moon last night kind of kicked my ass,” he admits, looking sorrowfully down at his blankets and provisions.

Stiles steps further into the room at the admission, looking surprised.

“Dude, you’re actually going to talk to me about this?”

Derek watches apprehensively as Stiles settles into his desk chair, a couple of feet away from his bed.

“It depends.” A horrible thought occurs to him. “Wait, if you knew, is that why you always wanted to study here, and not your own house? Observing the ‘wolves in their natural habitat?”

It comes out kind of angrier than Derek intended, because story of his life and everything. Whatever.

“No!” Stiles sounds offended, predictably. “Look, never mind, okay. That’s not why I’m here.”

Derek frowns at him.

“Are you here to study? Because I think my chem book is probably still in my locker…”

Stiles shakes his head at him, slowly. Derek takes a breath, and then he really listens, because Stiles’ heartbeat starts to pick up, beating a frantic tattoo against his chest.

“Look, I don’t. I. Why did you come to the Winter Formal?” he asks, and Derek knows he knows. Knows he must know, because he went for Stiles. Came for Stiles. Both of them. Isaac must have told Scott. Laura could have told Aiden and Ethan could have told Danny and God, the whole fucking school oculd know about Derek’s fucking boner for Stiles Stilinski, why is this happening.

“Oh,” he says, shifting uncomfortably. “Stiles, I mean, we don’t have to talk about. I get it. I really do.”

Stiles fidgets in Derek’s chair, his amber eyes flashing with alarm. For a second Derek is struck by how wolf-like they are. How beautiful.

“You- oh. Right. Wolfman.” It doesn’t really make any sense to Derek, but he’s used to Stiles saying strange things. Does Stiles think Derek only likes him because he’s a wolf? That he doesn’t want to talk because he’s a wolf? It’s none of the above, like, at all. It’s just not the wolf, it’s Derek. Dorky Derek and his ridiculously pathetic crush on Stiles.

“You get it,” Stiles continues, cautiously. “Like, you know how I feel, nothing to add here, that’s it?”

Derek nods, feeling bleak. He knows how Stiles feels. He knows Stiles is in love with Lydia, he doesn’t need his own stupidity confirmed back to him. He doesn’t need to know that Stiles feels sorry for him.

Stiles frowns, and Derek hates that he can sense the unhappiness on Stiles; ‘wolves can’t exactly smell sadness, not without any actual tears, but Stiles projects like a fucking champion.

“I mean, it’s just a crush, right?” Stiles carries on, as if he isn’t stabbing Derek with tiny knives of hurt as he does so. “Like, we can still be friends, because, dude, I really value your friendship and I don’t want this to make things awkward-”

“Stiles,” Derek grits out, because he has to. “It’s fine. Whatever. But it’s already awkward.2 And then, in a fit of spite, “it’s not like we even hang out very much, is it?”

Stiles doesn’t look like he has anything to say to that; he frowns deeper, and Derek tries desperately not to stare at his lips.  Truth is, though, they haven’t hung out in a while. Derek’s just stared at Stiles across rooms for the past year like a total creeper, and deluded himself into thinking that Stiles might notice him if he wore the right shade of blue tie to the fucking Winter Formal.

It’s not like they can start hanging out again now, is it? Not when every time Derek looks at him he’s reminded of the crippling embarrassment of this moment: Stiles thinking he had to let Derek down gently.

Stiles stands abruptly, shaking his head as he rubs his jaw again.

“Well,” he says, sounding stiff and awkward. “I should go study. At home. Where my books are. Yup…”

Derek doesn’t know what to say, so he says nothing.

What’s he supposed to do, ask Stiles to stay?

--

When Derek finally pulls his head from under his pillows, he finds that his room has been invaded by werewolves.

His mom, in particular, is looking pretty pissed.

Laura yanks the headphones from his ears, ignoring how he glares at her, but when Derek looks around, he realises that his packmates all seem damn unimpressed.

“This isn’t even funny anymore, Der,” Laura whines, flopping down to sit on the edge of his bed. “What is wrong with you?

Derek flinches, looking around at his family defensively.

“Don’t pretend like you weren’t all listening in,” he says peevishly. “Clearly, mom, your Winter Formal plan came back to bite me in the ass.”

Peter looks pained, like he’s holding back from the inevitable pun. His sister shoots him a warning look.

“Derek, all I heard was a seventeen year-old boy crying in his Jeep because my blockheaded son wouldn’t even listen to what he had to say.”

And alright, his mother clearly isn’t a fan of criticism. Go figure.

“I listened!” Mostly to the things that had gone unsaid, but still, “Stiles doesn’t like me like that, he made it pretty clear.”

Isaac punches him in the arm, and not lightly.

“You’re an idiot,” he says. “Stiles is ass over elbow for you, we all heard it. You acted like a complete jerk!”

“He’s not,” Derek retorts, feeling his face grow hot. But, no, there it is. A tiny seed of doubt is planted in his mind, and his palms start to sweat. He’s right, isn’t he? Stiles came over to let him down gently?

“You need to go and talk to him.” Derek can’t help but hang his head at that, because his dad steps forward, snaking an arm around Talia’s waist. If Andrew Hale is getting involved, it’s a serious matter. Tall, strong, dark and taciturn, he very rarely tries to give his children advice.

Staring into his father’s eyes, the same hazel color as his own, Derek knows he’s going to have to do what he says.

“Just let me put some pants on,” he mutters, and his family rejoice.

--

Laura’s Camaro is clearly a quicker ride than Stiles’ beat up old Jeep; though, actually, Derek’s not really sure what happened to the speed limit he was supposed to be following. When he pulls up to Stiles’ house — or as close to it as he can park without being too conspicuous — he takes a moment to be grateful that Stiles’ father, the sheriff, appears to be home for the evening, and couldn’t have picked him up for speeding.

That being said, Derek really does not wanna have to go through the sheriff to talk to Stiles. And he really does not want to go in and wait with the sheriff to talk to Stiles. Before he can even really think about what he’s doing, he swings himself up the tree by the open upstairs window.

He’s still in the tree, contemplating the jump, when he sees Stiles trudging up to the front door, hears the sound of him crashing into his hallway.

“Son?” the sheriff calls, and Derek can’t help but think he sounds anxious. “How did it go at Derek’s?”

Shit. Derek holds himself completely still, hoping that the tree will continue to hold his weight, and listens.

What he hears is… wet. Wet, snuffling sounds, that sound like Stiles is… oh. Oh God, Stiles is crying onto his dad’s shoulder. About Derek.

Derek feels horrified, but it’s the final push he needs. He pushes off from the branch, catching the sliver of open space between the window and sill, and swears as his knees scrape against the side of the house. He heaves himself in, worried that Stiles will come up at any second — or worse, his dad — but he can still hear them downstairs, the sheriff muttering darkly about shotguns and stupid leather jackets. Derek looks down at his own, feeling vaguely defensive.

When he finally gets inside, Derek mentally fist pumps… before realising that there is no way in hell this is Stiles’ room. The wardrobe still smells like women’s perfume, something old and flowery. A bottle of it stands on the nightstand next to a large double bed. The sheriff’s badge lies on the stand opposite.

Cursing his own bad luck, and praying to the moon goddess that he won’t be caught, Derek stealth-walks along the corridor. The next door he tries, thankfully, opens up to a space that smells so overwhelmingly of Stiles that Derek kind of wants to roll around in it.

He saunters in, pleased with himself, and takes up a casual stance by the window. Stiles doesn’t come up the stairs. Frowning, Derek creeps over to the bed. He tries laying back on it, and God, no. Bad idea. He’s not trying to re-enact a porno, for God’s sake. He adjusts himself quickly, at that, as his cock stirs at the scent of Stiles bed. Not the time. Really not the time.

Finally, he hears Stiles making excuses to his dad about homework. Derek moves silently, opting to lean against Stiles’ wardrobe. It’s kind of awkward, but he figures he’s invaded a guy’s bedroom, there’s not really any way around it. At least this way, Stiles won’t see him and freak out the second he opens the door.

Stiles wanders in, and now he does actually smell of sadness. He closes the door and slumps down in his computer chair, spinning dejectedly around until-

“Derek!” he exclaims, flailing and clutching at his chest. “Holy God, man, what are you doing here? This is my bedroom!

Derek flushes at that, tugging at the cuffs of his jacket. It’s a super good question. A few seconds ago Derek was poised to answer anything Stiles threw at him, but now, here he is, falling at the first hurdle. Derek just isn’t sure he has any words. Nope. Nothing.

“Derek,” Stiles says again, and there’s an edge to it now. Stiles sounds pretty pissed.

Derek stares at Stiles’ eyes, rimmed with red for him, and he for the first time, he thinks, what the fuck. Seriously? For the first time, he allows himself to think about it: Stiles likes him back. Stiles has been crying over him. Stiles-

“I wanted to ask you to dance,” Derek says, staring at his shoes.

Stiles snorts, but it’s without humour.

“What, now? That’s kind of weird, dude.”

“No.” It’s hard. Words are hard. Marry me Stiles and let me lick your face. “That’s why I came to the Winter Formal. To dance. With you.”

Stiles’ face wouldn’t be comical if it didn’t hurt Derek so much to see. Stiles doesn’t look like he believes it. With a flash of clarity, Derek knows that he’s done that. He’s made it so Stiles feels shocked at the thought Derek might care about him. Derek is a complete idiot, because, no, clearly, Stiles never knew.

“I’m sorry,” Derek says, and he really is, he totally is. “I’m not good at, um, any of this.”

Stiles exhales slowly, large hands gripping his chair tightly as he rises out of it.

“I thought you were at the formal with Isaac,” he says, simply. Derek raises an eyebrow at that, because, clearly, no.

“Isaac is- Stiles, that would be like you going to the formal with Scott,” Derek says slowly, patiently.

“And,” Stiles continues like Derek hadn’t said anything. “I thought you knew how I felt. Had always known. Because of the, um, wolfy senses. And you still never said anything.”

“Oh.” Stiles and Derek stare at each other for a long moment, quiet.

Derek isn’t sure what to say. He’s liked Stiles for a really long time now, and every time he tries to do something about it he seems to fuck it up. He just couldn’t, can’t believe Stiles — with his lips and his long fingers and his triangle of freckles by his ear that Derek wants his tongue on right the fuck now — thought Derek might not want him. Because of course Derek wants him. Of course.

“No,” he says, finally. “I had no idea.”

“And you’ve really never been with Isaac?” Stiles says, brushing off the awkwardness. He sounds kind of suspicious now, which is still not exactly good. “Even last year, when you guys were suddenly all over each other at school and you guys stopped eating lunch with me and Scott?”

“What.” It’s not really a question. Derek didn’t know his voice could even go that flat. “Isaac had just joined the pack, and we’re… tactile. ‘Wolves. But you stopped eating lunch with us,” he points out, “around the time Scott started dating Allison.”

Stiles scrunches his face a little, considering that. “Yeah, but like, only because you kept glaring at me every time I talked! You clearly didn’t want me around.”

“Maybe because you kept talking about Lydia!” Derek can’t help it, he still spits her name out like a bad taste in his mouth.

Stiles stills at that, and Derek bites his lip, knowing how that sounded. Jealous. Big green rage monster jealous. “Oh,” Stiles says softly, like it’s the moment he finally gets it. “You really do like me, don’t you?”

And that’s it. That’s all it takes. Stiles moves. The way he walks towards Derek —okay, no, downright slinks towards Derek — is enough to make Derek feel strangely vulnerable, because Stiles finally understands, and now? Now he’s going to do something about it.

There’s a look in those beta-gold eyes of his, something that Derek’s only ever seen on a wolf before. It’s predatory. Like, sexy-predatory. Derek inhales sharply, the scent of lust creeping into his senses. Some of it’s his own, granted, but Stiles. Stiles looks like he wants.

Derek wills himself to step slowly towards Stiles, not to rip at his clothes or throw him onto the bed or do anything stupid because he can’t ruin this, not now. It helps a little that he can still smell the salty tear tracks on Stiles’ face, ashamed as he is of causing them. He tugs on Stiles’ arm, though, bringing their chests together. Derek carefully fits his hand against Stiles’ jaw, dragging the pad of his thumb against Stiles’ lower lip.

He stays there for a second, wanting to savour the moment. Briefly, Stiles smiles, and Derek can’t help himself: he smiles back. He smiles big and wide because Stiles is finally his, and-

“Holy God, would you kiss me already?” Stiles blurts, big and obnoxious as a fresh wave of arousal hits Derek’s nose. Well.

He doesn’t waste any time. He presses his mouth against Stiles’, not even bothering to be embarrassed about the tiny noise of happiness he makes as they finally fit together. Stiles presses back, trying not to smile, and then licking against Derek’s mouth with increasing urgency. Derek doesn’t hesitate, curling a hand into Stiles’ hair and letting his mouth fall open to let Stiles in.

It feels like there is nobody but Stiles in the whole fucking universe. Nothing but the slip and give of Stiles’ mouth, the feel of Stiles’ hand as it sweeps across his torso.

Derek doesn’t ever want to stop. He wants to press Stiles into the bedsheets and rut against him and cover him in Derek’s scent and sweat and cum. He moans as Stiles’ fingernail scratches across his nipple, as Stiles’ tongue begins to dip into his mouth, filthy hot and urgent. He urges Stiles’ shirt up over his head, and isn’t even conscious of where his own went, just that he’s straddling Stiles on the bed for a brief moment before Stiles urges them over, sliding up Derek’s body in a move that’s shockingly feline and possessive.

In his one moment of clarity, Derek pulls away.

“Stiles,” he pants, unable to stop his hands as they trail across Stiles’ bare chest. Stiles stills above him, lips shiny and red, and pupils utterly wrecked.

“We have all the time in the world for this,” Derek murmurs, and Stiles smiles.

“So you’re planning on keeping me?” It’s not really a joke. Stiles’ heart stays steady.

Derek doesn’t hesitate to use his words this time. “Yes.”

Stiles looks down at him consideringly, before ghosting a hand over Derek’s fly, where his dick is straining painfully against the zipper.

As Stiles pops open the button, Derek can’t help but grin.

“Then show me what you got,” Stiles whispers into his ear, and it’s the most ridiculous dirty talk in the world but Derek’s dick still jumps in Stiles’ hand. “What are you, a man or a wolf?”

Thankfully, Derek has stopped being reminded of his mother by the time he comes.

--

By round two, he barely remembers his own name.

--