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Sentimental Value

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The mixed scents of salty sea air and lush forest filled his senses as Derek parked his Camaro at his parents' house near Santa Cruz. From the trunk, he grabbed his large suitcase and laptop bag. It had been a long semester followed by an even longer drive down from Oregon.. Yet, it was worth it, because not only was he homesick, but he only had one more semester to go before (hopefully) completing his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.

He heard the waves rolling into shore, even though they were almost a mile away from the beach. Perk of werewolf hearing he guessed, and he just itched to grab his surfboard and get out on the water. First things first though, he needed to see his family.

“Hi, Mom, Mamá, I’m home!” After setting down his things on the hall table inside the front door, he took a deep breath and let the comforting scent of home put his weary mind at ease.

“Derek, sweetie, we’re in the kitchen,” his mom called out. “There are fresh baked cookies.”

A tiny smile played at the corner of his lips, knowing she’d made those just for him. Yet, he was about two steps from the kitchen when a blurry whirlwind pushed past him and made a beeline straight for the cookie sheet.

“Sweet! Gingersnaps, my favorite! Aww, Mama T, you’re the best,” and before Derek knew it, that sheet of cookies had only two left on it.

Wait... what the ever-loving hell had just happened? Before the mystery person could steal the last couple of treats, he indignantly snatched them off the tray and scowled at him. This was, of course, the first moment he was actually able to see him clearly, and whoa.

Derek heard the hitch in his breath, his stuttered heartbeat, and he knew, just knew , his moms --both werewolves themselves-- would have heard it too. The stifled snort of amusement from behind him confirmed it. Great, just great.

Not that he could help it though. The guy, whoever he was (probably one of his sister’s boyfriends she was always so reluctant to tell him about. He never could be sure why either. It wasn’t like he made a habit out of intimidating them. That was one time, and the asshole deserved it), had porcelain skin dotted with moles and the pink tinge of a fading sunburn across his cheeks. Cognac colored, doe eyes, framed by impossible lashes blinked at him for only a moment before a cheeky grin played at his lips. He was insufferably beautiful, and Derek’s four-and-a-half on the Kinsey scale brain just couldn’t handle it.

“Me want cookie. Om nom nom.” Then, the infuriating asshole, to whom Derek had not been introduced -- Thanks a lot, moms.-- turned and strolled out of the room. Well, strolled was too elegant a term for the way the guy moved. There was an ill-advised running into the kitchen archway that happened. So crashed out of the room was perhaps, more accurate.

Derek waited until he heard footsteps ascending the stairs before he turned to his mothers and pointed a thumb in the direction of the guy’s retreat. “Who…”

“That’s Stiles. He’s Scott’s roommate at school.”

"Uh huh,” he said between bites of cookies. “One, what kind of name is Stiles? And two, why is he here?”

His mamá, Melissa, shook her head with a chuckle. “To answer both your questions, mijo. Stiles is a nickname. For what? I don’t know. Something long and Polish. He’s here, because his dad is in Europe for an Army reunion for the next six weeks. As Stiles explained it, the man is taking much needed vacation time. So, Scott asked if Stiles could stay with us so he’s not bored out of his mind up in, and I quote, ‘Nowheresville, Northern California. I don’t want him to make the drive up there all alone.’”

“But...he ate my cookies. Mom, gingersnaps are my favorite, and he ate ten of them. Ten!”

Both of his mothers flashed their red alpha eyes at him and, in return, he rolled his at the pair of them.

A crash from upstairs resonated through the house. They all craned their heads toward the ceiling. Neither of his parents seemed all that concerned by the noise. Derek, however, was about three seconds from racing to the source of the commotion. A fact, of which, his mothers seemed to realize.

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie. He’s just... Well, he’s clumsy, and he’s got quite the collection of books that he knocks over often.” There was no way to miss the thinly-veiled annoyance in his mom’s voice.

“How much is quite the collection?”

“A good size.”

Like that helped any. Still, Derek wanted to say hello to his siblings. He stopped first in Rory’s room, where he found his ten year old sister sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor painting her nails.

“Hey! Derek, you’re home. Wanna help me paint my left hand?” she asked, her brown eyes wide with excitement. Thanks to a trusted relative on his mom’s side, Aurora was both a Hale and McCall, as his mamá carried her. She was his half sister, Scott, his stepbrother, but that didn’t mean he loved either of them any less.

Derek’s father had been killed by hunters when Cora wasn’t even a year old. While it had devastated his mom (and he and Laura as well), Derek would always be grateful that his mom's best friend had lived with another pack close by. Melissa had moved in with them, two month old Scott in tow, and helped out. Within a couple years, the two women had fallen in love and decided to blend their families. When it became legal to do so, they’d made it official.

He sat down across from Rory and took the jar of purple polish from her. “So, you up to anything fun today?”

“Well, Jayme and Kara are having a pool party, and moms said I can go. I’m pretty excited.”

Derek painted a practiced coat of polish on her index finger. “Yeah? That sure sounds like a lot of fun. Say- what do you think of Stiles?” he asked as he painted the next nail.

“Stiles? He’s silly, talks a lot, but he knows all the fairy tales and stories. Plus, when he reads them out loud, he does the voices. So that’s pretty cool.”

Well, huh. That was not the type of impression the guy had first made on Derek. Perhaps, his labeling the kid a ‘cookie thief’ would need reevaluation.

 

***

 

Derek took the last few strokes in his lap. As he approached his turn at the wall, he turned his head to take in a breath where he caught sight of Stiles sprawled on one of the loungers poolside shaded by an umbrella. Despite Scott’s many attempts to get his best-friend to join him in the pool, Stiles had rebuffed each one. He cited his delicate porcelain skin and something akin to, "No one wants to see me as a lobster." Derek had opened his mouth to correct him that lobsters were only red after cooked, but then again, he figured the analogy fit with a sunburn... so he held his tongue. Now, however, he saw the full expanse of Stiles’ bare chest, shirt long since discarded in an attempt to escape the oppressive heat.

He gasped and promptly took in a mouth of water. Sputtering, Derek stopped swimming and righted himself only to find Stiles clutching the well-loved hardcover he had been reading to his chest as he cackled with laughter.

“Oh my God. That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in weeks. Thanks for that, D. I needed the laugh.”

“S’not my name, Stiles,” Derek scowled and smacked his palm against the surface of the water, sending a spray over at him.

“Hey! This book is precious to me! Watch it!

Derek rolled his eyes at him. Every damn book of his seemed to be ‘precious’, even the tattered covers of pulpy romance paperbacks he’d likely found in the dollar bin at a used bookstore, or worse... a garage sale.

“Don’t look at me like that. I don’t criticize your collection of vinyl, even though you own all the albums in digital copy as well. I have spent a lot of time and effort building my book collection.”

Derek chuckled at him. “More like a hoard. Sure you’re not a dragon in disguise?” A blank expression slid over Stiles’ face, and he stood, book still clutched to his chest. For a brief moment, Derek expected lasers to shoot from Stiles’ eyes and reduce him to dust.

Instead, Stiles turned and walked into the house. Though he felt bad for his poorly received joke, Derek could not help the way his eyes lingered on the bare skin of Stiles’ back. The dimples that sat just above the waistband of his board shorts drew attention to his ass like a freaking arrow.

With a groan, Derek resumed his laps, pushing his body to the point of exhaustion. That night, as he collapsed on his bed, asleep in no time, his dreams were filled with visions of bourbon colored irises and miles of pale skin smattered by constellatory speckles of melanin. Those same brown eyes looked up at him through impossible lashes and pink lips wrapped around his cock.

He awoke not only harder than he’d been in years, but in a dried puddle of cum. It was going to be a long summer no doubt.

Chapter Text

“Why don’t you ever like my friends, Derek?”

Derek struggled not to laugh at his stepbrother. Scott, was, for lack of a better term, too trusting. He only saw good in everyone. This included Derek’s less than upstanding ex-girlfriend, Jennifer ( “She knows so much about books. And like, she’s so sweet.” ), who turned out to be a witch plotting a dozen virgin sacrifices to awaken a primordial god. Scott also adored his friend, Allison’s aunt, who was a lifeguard at the community pool ( “She’s the best, Derek. She let’s me swim in the deep end all by myself” ). The same predatory aunt who tried to get in Derek’s pants (and almost succeeded) when he was at the impressionable age of fifteen. She was twenty-two. So there was that.

The point was, Scott was naive when it came to all the ways people could fuck you over even if they seemed innocuous.

“I like your friends.”

“You don’t! You don’t like Kira,” Scott whined about his girlfriend, whom, Derek did have to admit, he was a bit frosty towards when they met.

Derek groaned. “I apologized about that, but in my defense, I was correct when I said she made my hair stand on end. How the hell was I supposed to know she was a thunder kitsune and that was static electricity she was giving off?"

Scott threw up his hands in surrender. “Just because you are a terrible judge of possible romantic partners doesn’t mean everyone else is.”

Derek glared at him. “Don’t throw Kate in my face. I was a kid, and she was an adult. Don’t blame me for her being a sexual predator. I was the victim there in case you forgot. And Jennifer was hardly an improvement.”

Sheepish, Scott nodded. “Yeah I know. But come on, hating someone because he stole your cookies is a shitty reason for acting like a dick.”

“It’s not just that, Scott. He smells funny.”

“For crying out loud! To you everyone smells funny. Just because you’re a werewolf, doesn’t mean you get to hate anyone who doesn’t smell to your sensetive nose’s liking.”

How could Derek explain Stiles and the way he smelled a bit like charcoal, despite clearly not being an artist, nor a cook at a grill? If anything, the guy should smell like the subtle vanilla scent of old books. “I just worry about you guys. We’re family. I’m your big brother; it’s my job to protect you.”

Scott pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, no, Derek it’s not. Maybe when we were kids yeah. But I’m good. I promise there is nothing to worry about with Stiles. Yeah, he’s strange and he talks sooo much. Plus he can be a bit of an asshole, but like if you’re important to him, he’s more loyal than anyone. And family is important to him too. Just give him a chance. Okay?”

Derek shrugged, resigned to give Scott what he wanted (he was always doing that. Someday, Derek would learn to say no to his siblings). “Okay. But I make no promises that we will become friends,” he said, poking his brother in the sternum, and giving him a little push. When Scott winced, he rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know that didn’t hurt. You’re a werewolf, too.”

Annoyed that his plan for a relaxing summer was actively being derailed, he ambled down the stairs to grab a werewolf approved beer from the fridge. On his first pass, he missed Stiles sprawled out on his stomach upon the living room chaise lounge, with--surprise--a book in front of him. He did, however,  notice him on his way back out the room. Stiles, it seemed, was in his own little world, hands covering his ears as though he was trying to block out distractions.

Well, time to make friends, Derek thought, even if it came at the expense of Stiles’ reading time.  He flopped down on the couch beside him. “Quite the bookworm I see.”

Startled out of his skin, Stiles flailed and fell onto the floor. When he stood, he adjusted his rumpled clothes with a huff and an icy glare. “One, rude. Two, also rude. Look, I know that sneaking up on people is a thing werewolves do, but-”

“What are you talking about? Werewolves? Really, Stiles? You’ve been reading too much fiction.”

Stiles deadpanned, hands clasped in front of his stomach, eyes squinted, and dear God, Derek could actually feel the judgment coming from him. “Yeah, not gonna fly, Derek. Even if, and that’s a big if, Scott hadn’t told me about your family’s special condition,  you run way too warm for a normal human body temperature. So…”

“Wait, how do you know how warm I-”

Before Derek could even finish his sentence, Stiles had slammed his hand over his mouth, mumbling words of apologies and how he shouldn’t have said so much. He bolted from the room, his book forgotten on the floor. When Derek was sure Stiles was upstairs as evidenced by the slamming door that made him wince from the noise, he plucked the tome off the hardwood.

He stared at the lettering he couldn’t decipher, unsure which language it was, Japanese he thought was most likely. With his phone he used his translator app to look it up. “Huh, The Pillow Book ,” he muttered, finding himself intrigued that Stiles would be reading a centuries-old book,  in its original hiragana. It added another layer of interest to the guy.

Derek crept up the stairs, rapped softly on the guest room door, and left the book on the table in the hall outside.

 

***

 

“Oh my God, this is too rich,” Derek’s older sister, Laura said with a laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard you the first time.” Derek pushed his lunch around his plate. The bustling atmosphere of the sports bar where they were enjoying their sibling bonding time, or whatever Laura called it, was too loud and gave him a low level headache.

“But like... that’s preteen Derek troubles. Five nights in a row? What do Mom and Mamá think of all the laundry you’re doing? They have to notice you changing your sheets every morning.”

He threw a French fry at her nose. “Shut up. I can’t... I don’t even know why. Because he is so infuriating. Did I tell you he ate all my gingersnaps?”

“Multiple times, Derek.” She shrugged and took a swig of her beer. “I dunno. He’s pretty cute. I can understand how your subconscious is fantasizing about those hands all over you doing all sorts of naughty things.”

With a groan, he dropped his head to the table. “It’s just so inconvenient. Oh, and get this! He already knew about us.”

“About us?” How did she do that, quirk an eyebrow so perfectly to convey both sass and confusion? Maybe she gave lessons.

“You know... our family heritage .”

“Ah yes. Well, Scott can’t keep a secret to save his life. In fact, I’m surprised he hasn’t managed to out himself to the whole world. Cora must be rubbing off on him.”

“But no, he said my body ran way too warm to be- how would he know that? He’s suspicious is all I’m saying.”

Laura reached across the table and tousled his hair. “So cute, so paranoid.”

“Well excuse me for wanting to protect my family after what happened with Dad.”

“That’s not your job,” she said, her voice sweet as honey with no hint of insincerity. “That’s Mom’s, and then that’s mine. It’s your job to finish your schooling. And maybe get yourself an adorable bookworm boyfriend. He loves to read books; you want to write books. It’s perfect if you think about it.”

He rolled his eyes at her, but her words had more truth in them than they should have.

 

Chapter Text

The logs in the backyard firepit crackled as the flames undulated in a hypnotic dance, and Stiles watched, entranced from where he sat in his camp chair. He wasn’t a fire-breather. It made him jealous that he wasn’t. His mother had been, and it was amazing to watch how accurate she could make her flames. She was skilled enough to be able to light a birthday candle with a breath as small as a whistle.

He was not so lucky.

No, he was clumsy always running into things in whatever form he chose to shift into. It was as though he just didn’t understand how to move through the space in which his body occupied. His body temperature ran cold, and he could warm himself from the inside as needed, but that didn’t mean he did it well. Strong emotions and fear could make him, well...go a little overboard.

Once, at school, in the middle of a difficult exam, he made his pencil begin to smoke because his hands got too warm.

He wasn’t entirely inept though. Sure, breathing fire would have been awesome, but he doubted it would be as practical as a near eidetic memory, a sharp wit, and the ability to hide. What did he mean by hide? Literal camouflage-skin type of hiding. Plus, unlike some of the larger, more “threatening” looking dragons (like his dad), when Stiles flew, he was fast, near impossible to catch.

Movement in his peripherals caught his attention, and he turned to see Derek sitting down in the chair next to him, two bottles of beer in hand. He passed one to Stiles.

“Don’t tell my moms I gave you one.”

Stiles cocked an eyebrow. “Trying to get me drunk? I assure you that even drunk, I will not share my Reese’s with you.”

A chuckle rumbled from Derek’s mouth. “No? It was worth a try. Just thought you might like one. Um, those are werewolf strength, so they might taste different than beer you’re probably used to. It shouldn’t be enough Wolfsbane to make you ill or anything. There’s just enough to kill our healing so we can enjoy the buzz.”

Oh great, Ale à la Aconitum, his favorite. Blech. Still, he appreciated the gesture and took a long sip, fighting to keep his face neutral in light of the unpleasant taste.

“Yeah, I know. I don’t like the way it tastes either. Usually, I prefer to drink regular beer even if I won’t feel the effects. Nothing like a full-flavored beer after a hard day.”

“God, you’re one of those microbrew loving beer snobs aren’t you?”

“Snob? No. I don’t look down on large breweries so long as their beer tastes good.”

Stiles pointed his bottle at him. “I can cheers to that,” he said as they clinked the bottlenecks together.

“Any reason you’re sitting out here by yourself? I mean that’s okay if you wanted to be alone.”

He rolled his eyes. “Scott got a phone call from a more interesting party.”

“Ah, Kira?”

“Ding, ding, ding. Right you are. Not that I blame him though. The possibility of sexytimes has got to be more appealing than listening to me sit here and wax poetic about books.”

Derek stretched out his legs, inching his barefeet closer to the warmth of the flames. Though it was summertime, the night was cool, and Stiles imagined the werewolves had to be enjoying the break in the oppressive heat. He, however, couldn’t look away from the bare skin of Derek’s legs, hairy as they were, in his shorts.

If you’d asked Stiles when he first met Scott’s brother (what a memorable interaction that was. Stiles swore he had thought the cookies were for him because he’d mentioned that he missed his mom’s baking. But then Derek had to make that ridiculous pouty face, complete with bunny teeth. Well, Stiles just had to fuck with him) if he thought that Derek was the kind of guy to wear anything other than obscenely tight jeans and a leather jacket, Stiles would have laughed in your face. Yet, here he was trying not to stare at the muscular legs next to him, on display in shorter than expected shorts. He might also have wanted to get his hands all over them, and mouth, definitely mouth. He wasn’t proud of his current desire, but such was life.

“Hello? Earth to Stiles.”

Stiles shook himself out of his sinful (deliciously sinful thoughts). “Dude, I’m sorry. I do that sometimes, zone out. By this time at night, my Adderall has worn off, and I can’t help it.”

Derek smirked. “Scott did mention that you had ADHD and sometimes you just can’t control stuff. S’okay. I was just asking about your favorite books.”

Stiles’ heartbeat stumbled in his chest; he sighed like a smitten Disney Princess. “Be still my beating heart. Talking about books is my favorite form of foreplay.” It took a moment for what he’d just said to sink in. Once it did, he face-palmed and sank into his chair, hiding behind the arm of it.

“Foreplay, huh?”

“Ugh, just shoot me...or rip my throat out with your teeth,” he groaned in utter embarrassment.

“Why would I want to do that? I hate guns, and why ruin such a fine neck with anything other than hickies.”

Stiles straightened in his chair and looked over at him, taking the opportunity to appreciate the sculpted planes of his face, cheekbones and jaw so sharp they could cut glass, a nose that belonged on a marble statue. Don’t even get him started on Derek’s eyes and their magnificent opalescent irises.

A friend of his, Heather, collected gemstones and beautiful rocks. Often, he’d admired the few opals she had and all the brilliant colors within each one. Meticulously catalogued with little identification cards for each specimen, her stones had wooden display cases to rival that of a museum. Her collection was a sight to behold.

Notice he said collection, not hoard. Well, calling it a hoard, now that was just fucking offensive. A hoard implied a chaotic compilation of things with no rhyme or reason to how it was maintained, nor any awareness of just how much the hoard contained. To quote one Rubeus Hagrid, well...Mad Eye Moody disguised as- whatever, the who was not important. The point was, dragons were seriously misunderstood creatures.

Stiles was a curator of a fine library of tomes; he was not a hoarder.

“Did I break you?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

Derek shook his head with a laugh. “Guess I did.”

Stiles licked his lips. “I was a bit distracted by your eyes. They’re pretty amazing. So many colors.”

“If you tell me they look like kaleidoscopes, I’m gonna call you cliched.”

He shrugged. “Yeah, that would be pretty cliched. No, they look like opals, or maybe jasper. Sorry, I have a friend who is really into rocks.”

Derek rubbed the back of his neck. “So, books?”

 

***

 

When Stiles threw his head back with a hearty laugh from his stomach, Derek couldn’t help but stare at that long line of his pale throat bared to him. He was salivating at the thought of getting his mouth on it, covering it with marks as he licked, and sucked, and nipped. Oh my God, what is wrong with me?

“You’re kidding me! There is no way someone who looks the way you do, drives a muscle car and wears a leather jacket even in the summer time, cried while reading Everything is Illuminated . Not possible. Not with those angry eyebrows of yours.” Stiles wiped the tears of mirth from his eyes.

Giving him his best Hale Family Eyeroll ™, Derek simply shook his head. “I don’t have a heart of stone, you know. It was a poignant story whose themes touched my heart. Who wouldn’t cry? Better yet, why is it so funny that I did?”

Stiles placed a hand over his heart. “No, no, no. It’s not funny ‘ha, ha’. It's funny in that ‘of course you did. As if I needed another reason to find you attractive-- crying over a book about finding the woman who saved your grandfather’s life in Nazi Germany when my own grandfather fled Poland during World War II with his mother--’ type of way.”

Wait what? “You find me attractive?”

"That's what you took from that?" Groaning, Stiles scrubbed his hands down his face. “Who wouldn’t? I know you own a mirror. You know what you look like. With bone structure like that, you could be made of marble for all I know. The ghost of Michelangelo is probably hiding in the corner with his chisel and hammer, snickering at my misery like the grump he was.”

“Only a grump if your name wasn’t Tommaso dei Cavalieri. Then...well, you know. I mean if you’re going by the poetry in its original Italian or the Symonds’ translation and not Buonarroti the younger’s.”

“That jerk,” Stiles grumbled into his beer. “But I find it surprising that not only are you well read, but you know art history too. Sigh. Where have you been all my life?”

“Was that...did you just hit on me?”

Stiles pat him on the shoulder. “I know you’re not brain dead as we’ve been talking for the last two hours about books of all kinds, but dear Derek, I believe you are a bit oblivious when it comes to flirting.”

“Hey, now. I resent that. I am not. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t misreading.” Before he could say something to stick his foot in his mouth, he downed the last of his third beer of the night. The buzz they’d given him was nice, sending a pleasant warmth to his cheeks and a lightness to his chest. He suspected that tipsiness was what had him flirting at all.

But then… he looked over at Stiles just in time to see him lick a drop of beer from the bottle as it rolled down the glass, and there went all the restraint he had on his choice of words right out the fucking window. Or as Laura would say, ‘You’re outside, Derek. There are no windows.’

Real smart ass that one.

“I know something better you can do with that tongue of yours.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow at him, an impish grin tugging at the corners of his lips. Derek swore, that for a moment, Stiles' eyes looked like molten gold, but he chalked it up to the reflection of the flames. “Is that so?”

He could only manage a small nod, his words failing him before he found himself leaning closer, mirroring the same motions Stiles made from the chair next to him. As clichéd as it was to say it, time came to a standstill.

For Derek, it had been quite sometime since he’d shown even the remotest interest in someone, too burned, too hurt by his past lovers to let another soul see the hidden parts of him. But God, from the moment Stiles’ eyebrows had risen at Derek’s confession that he was getting his master’s degree in creative writing, he’d been doomed. Maybe even before then.

Stiles lips were fiery in temperature against his own, a hint of the spicy heat of cinnamon and ginger lingering on his tongue as he licked into Derek’s mouth. The sudden shift in gravity with Stiles leaning over into Derek’s space sent his chair off balance, and rather than tumble to the ground, Stiles climbed into Derek’s lap.

The thin material of Derek’s running shorts did little to mask his erection, but with the way Stiles’s hips rolled down against his told him that hiding their arousals was the furthest thing from Stiles’ mind.

Derek’s chair groaned under the added weight, and he broke the kiss (reluctantly) to warn Stiles about the ticking time bomb that was his chair. “I hate to bust up whatever fucking amazing thing this is, but the combined max weight of these chairs is like three hundred pounds. We’re playing a dangerous game here, and I don’t want to find my ass on the ground.”

“Mmm,” Stiles moaned against his neck, “what if it was your ass on my dick? Better idea?”

Much better. Definitely much better.

Any comprehensible response he could give died on his lips when Stiles rolled the skin of Derek’s throat between his teeth, bringing a mark to the surface --one that would fade  too quickly-- before biting down... a bit harder than Derek was expecting, but not that he minded. Especially not when his hips bucked forward at the rush of pleasurable pain that flooded his system.

“God, that is so hot,” Stiles said when he pulled back to stare at the love bite disappearing from Derek’s skin before his eyes.

Derek locked eyes with him, and this time a reflection of the fire on his irises couldn’t explain the golden color they’d taken on, almost like lava. Yet, for as suspicious as Derek had been of Stiles when he’d confided as much to Laura, now that he knew him, knew what was beneath the surface, whether Stiles was a mysterious supernatural or not, Derek couldn’t care less. He was pretty sure he had passed the halfway mark and was well on his way to in love with him at this point.

With one more slow grind against his dick, Derek was about to blow.

The creak of the back screen door opening startled them. It drew Derek’s attention away from Stiles and towards the sound, but it made Stiles flinch. The sudden movement pushed Derek over the edge, and he tipped his head back as he came silently in his shorts.

“Oooh, am I interrupting something?” Laura asked in that way was both mischievous and innocent  at once. How the hell did she manage that?

“Obviously,” he growled.

“Well, Mamá was looking for you. She needed your help with something, but I will tell her you are otherwise occupied.” Then, she paused, eyeing them with suspicion. “You need anything out here?”

The wary tone of her voice was clear.

“We’re good.”

The screen door had only just latched shut when Derek turned his attention back to Stiles to find his lap empty. Even though he could still feel Stiles’ weight on his thighs, he found himself staring at the fire instead where Stiles should have been. Yet, the flames weren’t moving; they were just still patterns in the air in front of him.

“I’m sorry… I... shouldn’t… This was a bad idea. I’m sorry.”

Stiles hopped off his lap and ran for the house. As Derek stared after him, he watched Stiles’ skin slowly change back to porcelain color he was used to seeing. Too buzzed to figure out what he’d just seen, he waited a moment, and then stood, adjusting himself in his shorts. He winced as the stickiness of the fabric pulled on his hair.

Not even two steps into the house, Laura stopped him and pulled him into the corner. “You were right, something is definitely weird with him. That was some next level chameleon shit I saw right there. One moment, he was on your lap, the next... gone.”

“Yeah, I don’t care. Whatever I said before is irrelevant. I know him now, and he’s abrasive sure. But he’s one of the good guys.”

She considered his words a moment before wrinkling her nose. “Oh God, you reek, Derek.”

He rolled his eyes at her. “Yeah, I know. Your little inquisition here sidelined my trek to the shower.”

A roguish twinkle filled her eyes, and she smirked, licking her lips before giving Derek a playful punch in the arm. “So... what did you say to him to have him running back inside like you’d just broken up with him? Your usual ‘thanks but no thanks’?”

“I didn’t say anything. Not a damn thing.”

“Fine, what did you do?”

“Me? I didn’t do anything. He kissed me, and it was awesome. I’m sure that much you could tell. But then you showed up and interrupted us. As soon as you went back inside, he freaked out, telling me it was a mistake, and ran inside. Why is it always my fault?”

“Because it usually is. Your personality is less than stellar. Wait he kissed you?”

“‘s what I said.”

“Nice.” She held up her hand above her head. “Come on, high five me little bro.”

He indulged her, though in his slightly inebriated state, he couldn’t fathom why.

 

***

 

After a long shower, Derek crawled into bed, too tired to bother dressing. Besides, with his subconscious’ ridiculous sense of humor, sleeping in the nude would mean less laundry to do in the morning. So it was a win-win situation for him.

Even still, he enjoyed that damn shower, letting his hands relieve what tension his stifled orgasm hadn’t dispelled. He took his time coaxing himself back to full hardness. His hand wrapped around the head before giving whisper light strokes to his foreskin. Soap slick fingers travelled farther south to tease at his rim as he remembered Stiles’ words from only minutes before.

Yes, God how he wanted to place both his hands on Stiles’ ridiculously broad shoulders and push him down on the bed so he could ride him to oblivion. He’d dated a few women in his day --those two predatory instances excluded-- but he preferred men. There was something about their hard lines, lack of any curves, and stubble that just turned his head and filled him with want. Usually, when men found this out, those that showed him mutual interest always assumed he was a power top.

Fuck, how he hated that stereotype, but those were the type of guys that seemed to want him back. Sure, he liked topping sometimes, but he had a size kink bigger than the fucking sun. Nothing got him off harder than a big dick, and from what he could tell through the thin fabric of Stiles’ board shorts earlier, he had nothing to worry about there.

Just the thought of getting that glorious cock between his legs had Derek coming harder than he had in months. So hard that he almost lost his balance in the shower. So when he managed to regain his legs again, he took no further chances and called it a night.

Hopefully, he would have a dream free night of sleep. Ha! Doubtful.

Chapter Text

Stiles pulled his Jeep to a stop in the Hale-McCall driveway. His was the only vehicle in sight save for Derek’s Camaro. He checked his phone. Ah three-thirty. Derek would be out for a run with Laura, and so, Stiles would have the place to himself.

From the backseat, he grabbed his trusty canvas tote he used when he went shopping for new items for his collection. Canvas, he’d found, took a bit of time to catch fire in his grip if he got excited, unlike plastic which just melted to his hands. That was always a pain (both figurative and literal) to get off, because not only did it take time, but the hardened plastic often ripped several of his miniscule scales off with it.

See that was the thing people never got right about dragons who could shift their forms into a more socially accepted human shape. He didn’t trade his draconic scales for human skin when he shifted. His scales shrank and softened until they were more like a finer snakeskin than human epidermis. The roughness he always blamed on eczema, and that seemed to work.

Where was he going with- oh yes. New books. Fine specimens to add to his collection, and that always put him in a good mood. Scratch that, a fantastic mood.

He whistled a merry tune as he climbed the steps of the porch. All his joy died in an instant, though, when he saw the state of the front door. Kicked in, the door hung off its hinges, fragments of wood scattered on the floor. Beneath his skin, he felt the spurs rise on his back, trying to force their way to their rightful place were he in his true form. His father always said that sensation was something akin to a dog or bird raising their hackles when threatened.

Taking a cautious step inside the house, he listened for the sound of any remaining intruders. Thieves, he could handle, but hunters… He shuddered at the thought of one of them hiding somewhere in the house with a needle of wolfsbane in one hand, one with narcissus in the other.

Though he’d only felt its effects once in his life, his sole run in with narcissus was enough to have him shaking in his shoes. The memory of his mother writhing on the floor beside him as a hunter bound her in ropes laced with it was still as fresh in his mind as the day it happened. They’d shown no interest in him, a puny little dragonling who couldn’t even light a match, but her , a seven hundred year old dragon with enough fire to raze a dozen werewolf packs. To them, she was a fucking goldmine. He’d watched them drag her away in the night and never saw her again. His father received her horns in the mail a month later with a note taunting him about her demise.

Hunters. How he fucking hated them.

A careful listen and search of the downstairs, told him he was alone in the house. He stumbled as he ran up the stairs for his room. What he found within derailed his composure in an instant. Books lay strewn about in a chaotic disarray. Several had their covers torn off; others had pages ripped from their bindings. And that was what set him into a fit of panic.

Why- why would anyone needlessly destroy a book? The defiled tomes were just simple hardcovers or pulpy paperbacks, but they were priceless to him. Each book was one he’d read and loved. He never kept those he didn’t like, because if it wasn’t his cup of tea, it might just bring joy to someone else (see... not a hoarder). There was no need to rip them to shreds.

Fat tears burst from his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. His room was a disaster. The disorder made his heart race with the need to just straighten everything. Lacking bookshelves, he’d sorted his collection in perfectly straight and even stacks. Now... no. He had to fix, had to right everything, because if he didn’t?

Well, the last time he didn’t was the day his mother was taken. Though though the rational part of his brain told him there was no connection, the larger part of his brain that seemed to just take over and make him keep certain things in perfect order told him that a mess would bring hunters around again. Yet, no matter how much he cleaned, it never looked right. When he’d made it through his entire collection and noticed one important book missing, he lost all handle on his control.

He felt rather than heard his wings shredding the fabric of his t-shirt. His scales grew in size until all hints of his human coloring were gone. Instead, he stood in the middle of his room in his natural shape, crying his eyes out, chest heaving as he tried to get a full breath.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t, and that sick feeling he hated so much, the one that made him want to claw his face off in panic, reared its hideous head. The worst part? Being in full dragon form meant he had strong enough claws to actually do it for once.

 

***



Derek stopped and sat back on his haunches, his tongue lolling to one side as he panted in the heat. He and Laura had been running for miles, and while she seemed no worse for wear, his black fur just absorbed too much heat right now. She had yipped at him, nipping at his ankle in jest about his lack of endurance. Easy for her to say, she was alpha-lite and sported a light grey coat. He’d growled and told her just as much.

Their break, however, was short-lived, because she bolted towards the lake, and he had no choice but to follow her.

The promise of a cool dip had him running past her at the first chance he got, leaping into the water with none of his usual grace. He just wanted relief from the heat. Ten seconds later or so, she joined him, paddling out to the middle of the lake, splashing him in the face once or twice. He never liked swimming in wolf shift and let his fur slip away so he could relish the feel of the water against his bare skin.   A noise in distance, from the direction of their house, caught both their attentions.

Out of the water in no time, both were back in full wolf form before their feet even hit dry land and racing for home. Derek’s heart pounded in his chest, because he was almost certain that sound was a wail of pain.



***

 

Derek and Laura both skidded to a stop outside their house when they saw the kicked in front door. His sweatpants hanging between his lupine teeth fell to the dirt, and he snatched them up as he shifted, tugging them up to his waist in mere seconds. He ran after his sister who just stormed into the house in wolf form, only breathing a sigh of relief at the lack of any obvious scents associated with hunters.

Laura, it seemed was on the same page as he was, now standing in the middle of the living room, naked as the day she was born. Cell phone pressed to her ear, she called their family to make sure they were all present and accounted for. They were, and that was all that mattered, except...who had made that sou-

Stiles.

Derek climbed the stairs three at a time, running down the hall only to freeze outside Stiles’ open bedroom door. Inside looked like a bomb had gone off with none of the usual charring. Books were everywhere, and standing in the middle of the mayhem was a dragon. Small for its kind --or at least Derek assumed that was small. He’d never met a dragon, so he couldn’t be sure-- only about the size of a average-sized grizzly bear, it’s brilliant cobalt skin reflected every tiny bit of sunlight shining in through the windows giving it an opalescent quality. Sensing his presence, it turned to him, and Derek’s eyes took their fill of the golden scales on its stomach, and they truly were golden, appearing as pure as 24 karat. Horns that should look threatening, and on any other day might, were smooth as glass and the same golden hue.

Those wings though? They were incredible, indigo in color with flecks of purple, gold, and yellows. They looked like the night sky and were far larger than he imagined a dragon of its size would have. Derek figured that meant this creature could move through the sky like a bullet, and he found himself wanting to befriend it just to see it in action. Even if it had been responsible for the damage in his house (which he doubted had been with malicious intent), it looked almost timid, scared, panicked even in his presence, as though it had become lost or had been fleeing an enemy and their home was the first safe place it found. Plus, he was pretty sure he saw tears flowing down its face.

Tentative, he held his hand out in front of him, palm up and approached slowly. “I’m not gonna hurt you. It’s okay. This is my house, so if you were looking for a safe place to hide, it’s fine. Look, I’m a bit like you,” he said, shifting his face to his beta form. “See? I’m a werewolf. I understand needing to hide from hunters or people who don’t understand you. Is that what happened?”

When Derek noticed some of the books on the floor had been destroyed, he cringed for Stiles’ sake, silently promising to pay for him to replace any of the lost volumes. “It’s okay if you can’t talk. But, can you understand me?”

It nodded its head in a frantic little motion.

“Good. Now, this is my friend’s room... well sort of more than a friend... I don’t know what we are, but he collects books, and he is not going to be happy you damaged his…” An off-hand comment he’d made earlier in the summer came to mind, ‘ Hoard? Sure you’re not a dragon in disguise? ’ as did the blank almost icy expression that crossed Stiles’ face. Then, Derek remembered the way his eyes had looked golden in the dark and the camouflage. All the pieces slotted into place. “Stiles?”

The dragon nodded emphatically.

“Can you talk like this?”

Stiles shook his head.

“Okay. How do I help you? I mean, what do you need me to do?”

Stiles took a couple shuffling steps forward and plucked a small Yoda minifigure off the dresser, clutching it in his mouth with great care. He dropped it into Derek’s open palm.

“What’s th-”

Stiles butted at his hand with his head, causing Derek to hiss when the sharp point on one of his horns poked him in the arm. A soft whine came from Stiles’ throat, joined by a sad expression. Derek figured this was Stiles’ way of saying ‘Sorry, my bad.’ “It’s okay. I’m fine.”

As he brought the figurine to eye level a cap fell off the bottom revealing a flash drive. “You want me to look at what you have here?” His question earned him another nod. The only problem? He was sure the thieves --and he figured it was definitely theft because there was no way Stiles would destroy any of his collection-- made off with every computer in the place. For once, he was glad his laptop was currently on the fritz and being serviced.

“I’ll have to wait until Mom gets home to use her computer. Do you want me to sit with you while we wait? I’m sure Laura has already called her.”

Stiles nodded again just as Laura barged into the room, now fully dressed. “Holy shit! It’s a dragon!” She rushed forward and put herself in front of her brother like a human shield. “Stay back. We don’t know if it’s friendly!”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Yes, we do. It’s Stiles. He’s a dragon.” He turned towards him. “Are you...stuck like this right now?” When Stiles nodded in the affirmative, Derek waved a hand in his direction. “See? He’s stuck.”

A look of realization washed over Laura’s face. “That explains so much. I called our moms they’ll be here soon. Just um...sit tight.”

With an exasperated huff, Stiles began to push the books on the floor into as neat a piles as his clawed paws could make. The only problem? His wings kept knocking over any remaining stacks as he turned. Another noise, this one a mournful whine, filled the room.

“Do you think you could fit through the door?”

He cocked his head to the side, staring at the doorway with those metallic yellow eyes. As nimble as Derek figured a dragon could be, Stiles stepped over the books and tried to wedge himself through the door. It wasn’t big enough, but as Derek had learned, Stiles was nothing if not stubborn. So he kept trying.

Turning around and backing through, he managed to exit as far as his shoulders but found himself stuck. Derek watched as Stiles began to panic like a claustrophobic in an elevator. “Hold on. Let me help.”

With pushing and shifting, Stiles was able to budge, but only a little. Near frantic about his predicament, Stiles gave one great pull with enough force to leave the doorway shuddering, but he was free. Yet, when Derek looked over at him, Stiles had flopped to the floor in the hallway and was licking at his shoulder.

Derek approached with caution when he noticed the plum colored fluid oozing from the spot. “Are  you hurt?” His foot caught something on the carpet, and he bent down to pick it up. Holding it up to the light, he could see that ‘it’ was actually a couple dragon scales that were ripped off when Stiles pulled himself free. So he was hurt. "You're bleeding."

He sidestepped him and walked into the bathroom, opening the closet, and grabbing the first aid kit. What? Even werewolves should have a basic one out of common courtesy for guests. Kneeling beside Stiles on the floor, Derek pressed a large square of gauze to the wound and secured it with tape. “There. Does that help a little bit?” When Stiles nodded, Derek handed him the two scales. “These are yours. I don’t know if you can reattach them or anything, or…”

Once more, Stiles nudged at his hand and kept pushing until Derek closed his hands around them. “You want me to have them?”

Stiles nodded, and Derek swore he could see a hint of a smile tugging at his draconic snout.

“Thank you.”

 

***

 

Once Derek’s mom had returned home, Stiles had sat, curled up on the living room floor and watched as Derek read the information on the screen.

“So...you can’t breathe fire?”

Stiles lifted his head and rolled his eyes at him.

“I take that as a ‘no’, and because your wings are so large, you’re a dragon built for speed in the air. That’s pretty cool, and... believe me when I say, you have beautiful wings, Stiles. They remind me of the night sky.”

Stiles felt his heart stutter in his chest. No one had ever told him that before, not even fellow dragons. He shivered a bit, unable to regulate his body temperature well in this form, even though he was warm blooded. Derek seemed to notice, and grabbed a blanket from the couch to throw over his back, before resuming his reading.

“You can’t change back until we find the first item in your collection?” Derek’s shocked question filled the room. “How am I supposed to know what it is?”

Stiles huffed, annoyed. It was always annoying when he couldn’t communicate with people. He stretched out a paw and with one claw, he tapped on the page down key until he got to the right section.

“Oh. How do you do that? Is it going to hurt me? You?”

He shook his head, but when he saw that Derek did not believe him, Stiles opened his paw and held it less than an inch above the ground.

“A little? Okay.”

Stiles sat up and back on his haunches, waiting for Derek to face him. Then, with one paw, he tapped first his shoulder, and then Derek’s pocket, hoping the guy would get the hint. When Derek removed the scales, Stiles made a cutting motion across his finger and pointed to the scale.

“I have to cut my finger with this? And then what?”

Stiles tapped his injured shoulder again.

“This is like a blood brothers sort of thing, isn’t it?”

He laughed, well Stiles chuffed. But it was how dragons laughed.

Derek didn’t hesitate once he’d pricked his finger and peeled back the gauze to smear the drop of blood against the still bleeding wound on Stiles’ shoulder. After a moment, Stiles pressed his forehead to Derek’s as he prayed they’d done this correctly.

He saw the moment when his thoughts made their way into Derek’s head for him to hear, because those murderous brows rose high on his forehead.

I panicked when I saw my collection like that, and then I couldn’t find my book. My mom gave it to me; she was friends with the author. It is the beginning of my collection, and I have to find it. All our power is tied the first item we collect.

“What type of book am I looking for?” Derek asked aloud. The thought transference was unidirectional. Stiles couldn’t hear what Derek was thinking, only the other way around.

It’s first edition of The Hobbit .

Derek choked on nothing. “What?” he shrieked. “Your mom was friends with Tolkien? But she’d have been like ten when he died. How?”

Stiles broke down in tears, tears that took several minutes to subside enough to answer. No, she was about six hundred and fifty then. She was one of his students, and they became friends.

“Six hundre- How old are you? Three hundred?”

No. I’m twenty-two. I’m extremely young for my kind, a dragonet. I’m not even supposed to be able to fly yet, but well, my dad calls me tenacious and bull-headed. I was determined to learn to fly early.  So I did, but yeah.

“How am I going to be able to locate one book?”

I have tons of pictures on my phone. It’s insured, because when I had the book appraised a few years ago, they valued it at seventy thousand. The Chapter VII heading is incorrectly labeled Chapter VI, and the inscription reads: To Klaudia Smokowska. Thank you for letting me draw inspiration from your name for Smaug. Your friend, J.R.R.T. It’s unique enough that if you file a police report saying it’s missing from the house and anyone tries to sell it, it will pop up on police computers. Just let me get out of the house first.

“Okay. Let's get you outside somewhere safe. The front door is wider than your room, so you should be okay. Can I ask...what did your parents collect? I mean, if your dad is a dragon too.”

He is. My mom collected maps. My dad collects military dog tags.

“That’s fascinating.” When Stiles stood, Derek held out his hand as though he was seeking permission. For what, Stiles didn’t know. “Your wings, can I… touch them?”

He nodded and tried not to fall even harder for him when a pure smile lit up his face. “Wow. They’re so soft. I didn’t think they’d feel like velvet.”

 

Chapter Text

Derek opened the front door and found Stiles curled into a tiny ball (or as tiny a ball as a dragon the size of a half ton bear could get) on the floor in front of the fireplace. His wings were folded neatly against his back, and his ears drooped to the sides.

“Oh thank God you’re back, Derek,” Laura groaned. “He’s been sulking the entire time you’ve been gone. I swear if someone doesn’t try to fence that book soon, I’m going to lose it.”

“I missed you too, Laura,” he said to her retreating back.

His mom wrapped him in a hug. “So, how was Oregon?”

“It rained the whole time, but my advisor was intrigued by my outline for my project manuscript. I’m pretty excited to get started.”

“That’s great. Now please, can you see what’s wrong with him?” She pointed to Stiles, “I’m worried.”

Derek lay down beside Stiles on the floor, nuzzling into his side. When not agitated, his scales all seemed to lay flat against his skin giving it the feel of snakeskin, far smoother than Derek anticipated. It had been over a month since the break-in, and though they’d filed a police report the day of, there had been no sign of Stiles’ book.

The whole family could sense Stiles was losing hope. Even his father, once he returned from Germany, had driven down from Beacon Hills, and taken one look at his son’s despondent demeanor, only to shake his head in resignation. It was like he knew, too, that the likelihood of finding that book was growing smaller with each passing day. Both Derek’s moms thought it best that Stiles remain at their home. Its location in and surrounded by a hundred densely forested acres of private property was far safer than the Stilinski home.

Derek knew Stiles was frustrated with being able to communicate with only him, and the week he'd been away had to have been hell. He sat up and rubbed Stiles’ head. Within moments, a soft rumbling sound vibrated from Stiles’ throat. “Are you...purring?”

Rather than answer him, Stiles just let him continue petting him, for lack of a better word. Eventually, he rolled over onto his back and exposed his stomach where larger, more rectangular scales formed ribbed bands across his midsection. Derek gave them a tentative scratch, thinking that perhaps in dragon form, a belly scratch might feel as good as it did for him when he was in full shift.

His hypothesis was confirmed almost immediately as Stiles began to wiggle and writhe on the floor, tongue lolling out to the side, and hind leg kicking at the air.

“You’re like a giant puppy.” When his hand got a bit too low on Stiles’ abdomen, he received a nip to the hand as Stiles flipped over and sat up. “Ticklish?”

Stiles pressed his forehead against Derek’s. No, I’m horny, and you were entering sensitive areas that I can’t do anything about in this form. Why? For as awesome as being a dragon is, I can’t fucking masturbate, because I have no dick. Well, I mean I do sort of, but I...don’t. It’s like…

“Fish?”

Exactly! I miss my penis. There, I said it. And what if I’m stuck like this forever? We, you and I… I get the feeling we were working up to something yeah?

“Yeah. Me too.”

Well, how in the hell am I going to take you on a date and wine and dine the hell out of you like this? I might be a magnificent looking beast, and I am. Let’s not pretend here. Orange and blue are the best combination of colors.

“Orange? Looks gold to me.”

Do not blaspheme, Derek. Anyway, if I go out in public like this the residents of Santa Cruz will go after me with torches and pitchforks.

“You seem tense.”

Understatement of the fucking century. And... like I missed the hell out of you this past week. Everything was a yes or no question. “Do you want some food, Stiles?”, “Are you grumpy today, Stiles?”, “Will you be trying to bite my hand off again, Stiles?” It was maddening.

“How can I help?”

You can’t. Just let me lie here and fucking die.

“Nope. Sorry. I’ve grown attached.”

Stiles pulled back and looked at him for a second before dragging his broad tongue across Derek’s face. That was a kiss in case you were confused.

Laughing, Derek placed a kiss to Stiles’ forehead. “I wasn’t.”

How long until sunset?

“I don’t know, about half an hour. Why?”

Meet me outside then, when it gets dark. I am taking on you on the date of your life.

“Oh really?”

Yes, really.



***

 

His heart pounding in his chest so hard he thought it might burst, Derek clung to spikes along Stiles’ back for dear life. As it turned out, Stiles’ idea of a date was to treat him to a flight high above the ocean. With no saddle, the only thing keeping him from falling to his death besides his innate werewolf strength was a ratchet strap he’d found in the garage and looped around Stiles’ midsection to secure his legs in place.

The wind whipped past his ears while they soared through the night sky. Well, soared and flipped and spiralled. At times, it was terrifying. Other times? Absolutely exhilarating, by far the most exciting experience of his life. Whenever they would plummet back towards the ground, Stiles made sure to fold his wings securely against Derek’s body, to both keep him from flying out of his makeshift harness and to protect him from the rush of air. It was sweet.

Derek found himself white-knuckling Stiles’ horns while he climbed higher and higher into the air. He wished that there was a way for him to know what Stiles was thinking as he flew. Perhaps his mind was filled with similar feelings of elation, or maybe all this was old news to him and no longer fazed him. Derek couldn’t imagine ever tiring of being able to fly. It was  extraordinary.

Stiles quit gaining altitude and leveled, stretching his wings as far out to the side as he could. In the moonlight, Derek was able to see for the first time, just how impressive Stiles’ wingspan was. It was easily twenty feet. The taut membranes between each phalanx almost sparkled in the night. He’d been spot on in comparing them to the night sky, but even his metaphor did them little justice.

For the first time that night, they were gliding on the wind, and it was glorious. Borrowing an idea from Harry Potter in his ride on Buckbeak, Derek bravely straightened. Though it took quite a bit of strength to balance, he reached his arms out to the side, and in that moment, he felt as though he was the one flying, not the one riding.

His balance though, was fleeting, and he pitched forward to wrap his arms around Stiles’ neck. As he squeezed in what he hoped came across as an embrace, he couldn’t stop the warm smile that began at the corners of his lips and filled his cheeks with warmth. The now familiar rumble he felt from Stiles’ throat told him his attempt as a hug was well received.

Some time later, and he couldn’t begin to say how long they were up there (hell, at one point, he looked down and was absolutely certain he could see the lights of San Francisco in the distance), Stiles made an effortless landing, touching down on the forest floor, not far from Derek’s house. No sooner had Derek loosened his harness and shimmied out, jumping down, than he was around front, taking Stiles’ face in his hands. “That was... I have no words. You’re incredible. Thank you.”

Stiles responded by nuzzling into Derek’s hands and butting his head forward. Derek petted the bridge of his snout before mirroring Stiles’ gesture.

I’ve never flown with anyone on my back before. I was terrified I was going to drop you. Letting your date plummet to his death has got to be a mood killer.

Derek shook his head with a small chuckle. “I’m glad you didn’t though... drop me.”

I want to kiss you so bad, but… Stiles’ thoughts trailed off, but Derek knew what he was going to say.

“I promise, we will either find your book, or I will find a way to help you.”

Awfully solemn promise, Derek. Something you want to say?

“There are so many things, but I’d rather say them when you can kiss me back.”

Thank you, for saying yes, for trusting me enough to fly with me. It... means a lot. Stiles began walking towards the Hale-McCall house without another word.

“It meant a lot to me, too,” Derek whispered after him.




***

 

A strange emotion had lodged in Stiles’ chest by the time he settled down in the living room, one he couldn’t blame on the unseasonably chilly night in late July. This spot had, more or less, become his bedroom since the break-in. Though the family tried to keep quiet in the morning if they were up before him, Stiles had never been a sound sleeper.

He doubted that would be a problem tomorrow morning with his long flight taking a lot out of him. The back door opened just as he was succumbing to exhaustion, and he opened one eye to see Derek walk into the living room to leave his shoes on the doormat. Then, he stretched out on the couch. On most nights, Derek would stay up keeping him company until he fell asleep. It was as though he felt a duty to sit with him, because he was the only one Stiles could communicate with in this form. Yet, he hadn’t once made it seem like it was a chore.

It was nice... so… so... ni… As he drifted, he heard Derek come sit beside him on the floor.

“Are you okay? You look wiped. You didn’t overdo it or anything just because of me, did you?”

Stiles gave him an almost imperceptible shake of his head.

“Good. I didn’t need you to try and impress me. Just flying with me was enough. It’s a bit cool in here. You want me to build a fire?”

All Stiles could manage was a slight chuff of assent, which thankfully, was enough. As pleasant and comforting warmth radiated about the room, Derek crossed the room, heading for the stairs. In Stiles' hypnagogic state, all his inhibitions are gone, and he snapped his jaws, snagging Derek’s pant leg.

“What? You want a blanket too? Hold on.” Derek tugged the throw from the couch and was just about to drape it across his back, when Stiles whined. “You sure you’re not hurt?”

Concern set deep into the furrow between Derek’s brows, and he met Stiles’ forehead with his own.

Stay with me, please?

The crease in his brow ridge softened, and Derek smiled, grabbing a pillow from the sofa. The need to curl around him was almost instinctual for Stiles, and as soon as he was sure Derek was comfortable, he did just that.

I think I’ve fallen in love with you. Stiles thought, comfortable in the knowledge that Derek couldn’t hear his silent confession.

 

Chapter Text

Surrounded by books older than his grandmother, Derek rubbed his eyes. Ten hours. He’d been sitting at this study table in UC Santa Cruz’s main library for ten hours... straight. And this was tenth day in a row he’d done this.

After waking the morning following their date, he couldn’t help the ache in his chest, and he certainly couldn’t ignore the nagging drive to find a solution. He had to help Stiles. There was no other option.

These tomes, he was sure were long shots, probably didn’t have the answer he was looking for. To be quite honest, now that he was down to his last option the library had, he was about to give up and try another angle. Whatever the fuck that angle would be.

“You know if you’re studying dragon lore, it’s a hobby of mine.”

Pen between his teeth, Derek looked up to see a petite redhead standing in front of his table. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Well, not so much a hobby, as a subject I have read about in great depth. Gotta have something fanciful to break up all the advanced calculus. I’m Lydia,” she held out her hand, which he shook.

“Derek. I’m not really into studying dragon lore. Just… considering a plotline for my master’s project.” So what if that was an outright lie?

“Hmm. Well those books you have are awfully dry. What would you like to know? In case you think I’m full of shit, I am working on my third Ph.D. Math and Physics don’t really lend themselves to European history in the middle ages, but well, when you have an interest in something.”

He considered her words for a minute. If nothing else, she might have an interesting fact or two. “What can you tell me about hoards?”

“They can collect anything. Popular depictions are usually precious metals, gems, gold...you know things with monetary value.”

“Books?”

“I suppose so. Might not bode well with fire breathing, but yeah. Dragons could have a hoard of books.”

He nodded. Insider knowledge was a wonderful thing. “I have been considering tying a dragon’s power to the initial item in their hoard. Is that ridiculous?”

“It’s not something I’ve come across often, but I do recall reading about it once or twice in archaic texts. I believe it was in context of sending a knight to steal the item in order to harness the power before slaying the dragon.”

A queasy sense of dread washed over him. Was that… could that have been why someone broke into his house? No. He would do whatever he could to ensure that did not happen.

 

***

 

“Boy have I got something for you!” Lydia’s confident voice rang out behind him, starling Derek half to death. It took a lot of skill to sneak up on him with his heightened werewolf hearing, but then again, he’d been eyeballs deep in the neverending chasm that was dragon folklore and mythology.

There were different legends for different cultures, different theories depending on which scholar you asked, and he was about to slice open his skull with one of his razor sharp claws so he could rip out his brain and throw it in a blender. It would hurt less than wading through texts written in poorly translated Old English. “You don’t say,” he deadpanned as he tried to calm his racing heart.

“Oh I absolutely do.” She closed the door to the study room Derek had reserved every day for the last two weeks. Truth was, he was running out of time before Stiles was due back at school. He had the suspicion that Stiles' malaise over his predicament would become too much for him to deal with knowing he was missing his final semester at college because someone decided to take what did not belong to them.

“So,” she said, taking the seat across from him, “you seem like a somewhat intelligent individual.”

“Why thank you, Lydia. Your backhanded compliment is as life-affirming as ever.”

“As is your sass level. But save it, hot stuff.”

“Sorry, I’m not interested. Believe me when I say you are so very much not my type.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Good, because I’m not into you either. I’m into men who will let me be in charge, and that, my hirsute friend, does not seem to be your thing.”

Well… not in a romantic partner, but he’d grown up around assertive, take charge women all his life. Frankly, he preferred their level of confidence over the contrary, just so long as they didn’t tip the scale to Kate levels. Just thinking that woman’s name made him shudder. “You know, it does take a bit of brain to be working on a Master’s Degree.  I’m not a meathead, contrary to what my appearance might suggest.”

“I don’t doubt that, but which one of us is a member of Mensa?”

He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Right, so you have something for me?”

She clasped her hands in front of her on the table. “Yes. See there was a reason I brought up your intelligence, because most smart people seem to be highly rational and would discount everything I’m about to say as being the result of a child's overactive imagination. The misogynists of the world would call it the fantasies of bored housewives. Frankly, those people can just take a hike right the fuck off a cliff. So... do you believe in ghosts, Derek?”

“Yes.” Even if he didn't have personal experience with ghosts and their existence, he did watch his mother assist a local witch with a vengeful spirit. Plus, he was a werewolf; he had no room to talk. When Lydia quirked a curious eyebrow at him, he shrugged. “I’m a writer who has been researching dragons for the past month.”

“And…” she trailed off as she stared down at her knotted fingers. “What would you say if someone told you they could hear the voices of the dead?”

“That depends on whether they seemed to be  in control of their mental faculties. I mean if they showed other signs of paranoid schizophrenia, I might be disinclined to believe them and look into getting them some help. But if say... you are telling me you can hear the dead, I’d believe you.”

Her brows drew in as she regarded him in that shrewd way he’d come to admire. Honestly, even if no answers came from all this research, her friendship was at least a brightside. “Why?”

“Why not?”

“So say someone who was attuned to that world for reasons they won’t get into now, decided to for lack of a better word, hold a seance and ask for some help. Then say the spirit of a man named Hrodbyrht the Swordbearer found them and spilled the beans on all kinds of dragon lore from the past. What then?”

“Are you telling me you communed with some dead Saxon?”

“He was a Jute, but yes.”

Derek took a sip of his coffee. “Okay. Go on.”

“He mentioned that he had been a prolific slayer of dragons. Well, he used a lot more purple prose to describe himself, but that was the gist. He said that his undoing came at the hands of a dragon who had not one, not two, but five distinct hoards. This dragon, he said, was far more powerful than any he’d ever encountered. At first, he’d foolishly tried to talk to it, hoping to trick it into giving him some of its treasure. It was then he learned that with each first item the dragon acquired, he developed a new power so to speak. The trick though, was that to start a new hoard, the item had to have strong sentimental value not just monetary. Seems like an interesting plot point for you,” she said, grabbing Derek’s cup and taking a drink, leaving behind a coral hued lipstick stain.

“Oh please, just help yourself to my latte.” He rubbed his temples to ease some of the tension. It was too early for this, so he took another swig and immediately recoiled. His hand clamped over his lips, stinging in pain, as he tried to ignore the immediate wave of nausea that washed over him. “Lydia, what did you do?” he coughed, staring at her in utter betrayal.

He would recognize the effects of wolfsbane anywhere.

“Relax. It’s a mild solution of aconitum I created a gloss out of. I was testing a theory. It will wear off in less than five minutes.”

“I hate you so much right now.”

“Don’t be such a drama queen. I have no intentions of using it against you or any of your pack. I just needed to see if there was more to you than you let on before I spill all my secrets.  Honestly, it is the least amount of wolfsbane I could put in the solution to still cause an effect. I promise that I really do mean you no harm. I just needed to be sure.”

“You could have asked if I believed in werewolves first.” He furiously rubbed at his mouth with a napkin. “But yes. There is more to me and this dragon research than meets the eye. I can’t get into specifics because it’s a violation of trust. But first...what are you ?”

“Banshee.”

“That explains so much. I need to help a dragon I met. A friendly one who had the first item in their hoard stolen and is stuck as they are.”

“Help it to start a new one.”

“Don’t call them ‘its’. They are sentient and wise. Not mindless beasts. Okay? Frankly, in my mind, all those dragon slayers from the past were committing genocide.”

Lydia reached forward and smushed his face together. “Does someone have a crush?”

He batted away her hands. “Stop that.”

“You’re so cute when you’re angry.”

“You into women at all? Cause you and my sister Laura are perfect for each other.”

“I haven’t really explored that option. Give her my number, at worst we can be best friends.”

Chapter Text

Wrapped in leather and the softest cotton he could find, the treasured item Derek held was burning a hole in his hands as he climbed the stairs of his front porch. Ever since he’d located it years ago in an old trunk in the attic, he’d stored it in a safe deposit box for no other reason than he loved it. He doubted there was much value in it, maybe a little, but it held mostly sentimental value for him.

He found Stiles lying on his back on the living room rug. The light streaming in through the large picture windows painted the copper colored scales of his stomach in a luminous glow. He was sunning himself, basking in its warmth. The creaking of the front door drew Stiles’ attention, and he turned his head towards Derek with a sleepy grin.

“You look pretty happy,” Derek said, his voice too fond for all the nervousness he currently felt.

Stiles thumped his tail on the ground in both confirmation and greeting.

See, in the month and a half since Stiles had been stuck his true form, Derek had learned to interpret his body language and many gestures. He’d become so adept that he rarely needed to link his mind to Stiles’ to communicate. Not that it meant he didn’t do it as often as he could. Honestly, those moments were the most intimate ones he’d shared with anyone ever .

Derek relished in them. “Yeah, I’m glad to see you too.”

Now that he held the possible cure to Stiles’ predicament, for the first time since he vowed to help him, Derek wanted to keep him like this. It was selfish, sure, but with Stiles in dragon shape, Derek had him mostly to himself. For someone who grew up in a household where secrets and privacy were hard to come by thanks to his family’s heightened senses, he felt a sense of mourning at the prospect of losing something, or well someone, that was purely for him.

But love couldn’t flourish when one was selfish, and so, he stepped forward, setting the parcel down on the floor just out of reach of Stiles, and rubbed his stomach. “Are you having a good day?”

Stiles nodded and patted his chest.

This was a new development to their relationship, one his mamá had initially found a bit odd, but she, like the rest of his family had come around. Even Scott, who had chided Derek about the way he and Stiles bickered, came to appreciate it.

After planting a soft kiss to Stiles’ scaled forehead, Derek climbed onto his stomach and stretched out,. He lay down with him for awhile taking pleasure in the simpleness and solitude of just being in each other’s company. He’d learned that he slept better like this, reclined on Stiles’ chest, his wings folded around them both, than he ever had before. Though he suspected it was less about the dragon aspect and more about sharing a space with someone he loved deeply as he slept.

That had been an entirely foreign concept to him before meeting Stiles.

Yet, here they were. And when Derek said relationship, he meant it, knew Stiles did too, even if they hadn’t defined it as such. A momentous shift occurred between them after Stiles took him on that first flight --there had been many others since-- and Derek had come to realize that no one else would ever fit into and fill his heart the way Stiles did.

Derek folded his arms underneath his head and rested his chin upon them so he could look at Stiles’ face. “So... um... I have something for you. It’s, well it’s not your book. I’m sorry. I know I promised I’d find it for you, but no one has tried to sell it; the police haven’t turned up any trace either. They put alerts to every rare book seller in the area, and I have called the major ones in the country as well. They promised to spread the word to auction houses, dealers, and law enforcement too. I’ve done all I can, but I’m not a miracle worker,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

Even if his gift helped Stiles regain his ability to change form, it wouldn't replace the treasured book his mother had left him.

Stiles shifted beneath him, and Derek would have fallen off his stomach if those broad hands with their talons hadn’t held him in place with the tenderest of care.

He pressed his forehead to Derek’s in more of a nuzzle than he usually did when they meshed their minds. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You have tried so hard. Searching for answers when you should have been working on your Master’s manuscript. I... just... even if we never find it, I want you to know I love you. If I am stuck like this forever, as much as I might want you to only stay with me, I would understand if you needed to meet some of your needs elsewhere.

“No. I couldn’t do that. You’re enough. Even like this. If you can't change back, I will buy land in a forest somewhere like this, build us a house with wide hallways and open spaces, with fireplaces and large windows. We would have a bed that took up the whole floor, softer than this rug you’ve been sleeping on.”

I’m only going to get bigger like this. You know that right? I will weigh over a ton; my wingspan could reach fifty feet. I’m done for. Dragons only fall in love once, but you...are you sure you want to be stuck with me at that size?

“Yes.” He bent his head down and kissed the scales of Stiles’ chest, right about where he figured his heart was (it was hard to locate through the plated armor even with werewolf ears). “It’s silly. I never expected that I would fall in love so hard and so fast. I mean, I’ve only known you a couple months, but sometimes you just know.”

Stiles rolled them onto their sides so he could curl around him. Derek enjoyed the embrace for a few minutes before wriggling out from his hold.

“I really do have something for you though.” He grabbed his present and slid it over to Stiles, who sat up and back on his haunches so he could hold the gift. “So, you know that woman I met at the library, Lydia? Turns out she’s a banshee, and she interacted with the spirit of a Nordic dragon slayer from around 900 AD.”

He watched Stiles’ nostrils flare, his brow ridge drawing down into a deep scowl. A low growl rumbled in his throat.

“I know. I hated him on that principle alone,” he said, reaching out to caress Stiles’ face and smooth the crease between his eyes. “Don’t make that face, please. I would do anything in my power to keep someone from hurting you.”

Stiles butted his head forward. My mother was slain for lack of a better word, by hunters, just like your dad. They killed her, poached for her horns. They killed a magnificent dragon purely for sport, for glory. So they could show off her horns like some mount on a wall. Dragon slayers weren’t heroes. They were murderers.

“That’s what I told Lydia. But she said he tried to trick a dragon into giving away secrets before he was to slay it, but was killed instead. Karmic if you ask me. This dragon had five collections; the start of each gave them power. So I thought… please just open it.”

With great care, Stiles unwrapped the gift and looked down at the mylar bag that encased a playbill from A Streetcar Named Desire.

“My great aunt, Lucia, was second understudy to Jessica Tandy in the original Broadway production. She never got to perform the role, but apparently she showed great promise. There’s a note from Tandy on the back.” He turned it over so Stiles could read the inscription that said: Lucy, though New York did not get to see you as Blanche, I have no doubt the world will one day know your name. Best wishes, Jessica.

“My mom said Aunt Lucy got sick and had to retire from the stage before she ever got her big break, but...well, I want you to have this. Maybe it will work; maybe it won’t but, it’s an important piece of my family history, just like the book was for yours.”

Stiles pressed the bag to his heart, eyes closed, with a contented sigh, and Derek’s chest swelled with pride that his gift was already treasured.

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you like it.”

When Stiles turned to make the difficult trek upstairs, Derek could not believe what he was seeing right before his eyes. It worked. Holy hell, that dead Jute bastard had been right!

Blue scales slipped away, receding, shrinking, changing color with each passing second. No longer fifteen feet long and a half ton, the Stiles that now walked ahead of him stood a human-sized five foot eleven... and was completely naked. Derek took only a moment to admire the view before rushing up the three stairs that separated them to sweep Stiles into his arms, while still taking great care not to damage the playbill. “I can’t believe it worked!” he shouted as he spun them around on the landing.

Still in shock, Stiles blinked at him with large owlish eyes for a moment or two before he threw his arms around Derek’s neck and kissed him senseless. After a brief pause to set the beginning of his new collection on the small hall table, he backed Derek up until his back hit the wall with a shuddering thud. “Mmm, sorry,” he mumbled against Derek’s mouth.

“Don’t be.” Derek kissed him in return, hands roaming over Stiles’ back, his arms, nape of his neck, cupped his ass which fit oh so perfectly in his hands. He was desperate to touch any bare skin he could get his hands on. Derek committed every difference between Stiles in his dragon form and his human one to memory, savoring each one the way he’d done for the past six weeks while Stiles was stuck.

Stiles placed a hot open-mouthed kiss on Derek’s neck before he pulled a bit of skin between his teeth, drawing a needy whine from Derek’s throat. He repeated the action on his collarbone, his earlobe, and each one had Derek panting, knees weak, blood singing. Those maddeningly long fingers reached under the hem of Derek’s shirt to scratch at his chest, just enough to give him goosebumps, but not enough to hurt. “This needs to go,” he said, tugging at the shirt first, then the button on Derek’s jeans, “these too. I want to get my mouth on you.”

With less than perfect grace, Derek tugged the shirt over his head; he almost stumbled trying to get out of his pants. When his hands went for the waistband of his boxer briefs, Stiles caught his wrists.

“Don’t.not.quite.yet. I want to do that.”

His mind devoid of any rational thought and lacking the ability to form words, Derek nodded. Stiles dropped to both knees to mouth at Derek’s cock through his underwear. A picture frame fell off its hook on the wall when Derek, in ecstasy, tossed his head back against the drywall. “Ohmygodyes.” All his words slurred together; his eyes slipped closed in bliss, and when Stiles began to slowly pull his underwear down his thighs, dear fucking lord how he went slow, Derek thought for sure he was going to die.

The moment he stood before Stiles naked, Stiles took him into his mouth, swallowing him down to the base, working Derek’s cock with his throat in a way Derek could only describe as practiced. He’d be a bit jealous of any men who had come before him, but the knowledge that dragons could only fall in love once, and he , Derek, was the lucky one to earn that honor, wiped all traces of envy from his mind.

“What was that?” Stiles said as he pulled off. The pop his lips made when Derek’s cock fell from his mouth echoed in the hallway.

Derek hadn’t even been aware he’d said anything at all. Instead, he uttered one more coherent word and yanked Stiles to his feet. “Bed.”

“Mine or yours?”

Derek shuffled one step to the left and fumbled with the handle behind his back until the door swung open, and they both stumbled into his bedroom. He dropped his hands to Stiles’ ass and lifted him, delighting when those long legs wrapped around his waist. “My bed’s bigger,” he said when he had him flat on his back so he could return the favor.

Now that he got a good look at him, Derek found himself salivating the fact his initial guess had been spot on, if not a little underestimated. God he loved a big dick, and Stiles was thick, heavy on his tongue, long enough that Derek had to use his hand to stroke him as well. Deepthroating had never been a strong suit in his blowjob repertoire.

One of Stiles’ hands found its way into his hair, fingers tangling in the sweat-damp strands, and gave a good tug. “Mm, if you turn around, I can multitask.”

“I love a good multitasker.”

“Well, I am the best you’ll ever meet.”

“Drawer in the nightstand.” Once spun around, Derek made sure to keep most of his weight off him, and he resumed his attempt to suck Stiles’ brains out through his cock.

“Fffuck! I could write odes to your mouth, Derek.”

Before he could even fathom a response, Stiles tongue worked at his rim. Derek lost his balance and gagged himself on Stiles’ cock, overwhelmed by the sudden sensation. When a slicked up finger slipped inside, followed a minute or two later by another that curled inside him and rubbed at his prostate, he was sure he had found the meaning of life, and it was being in bed with Stiles.

Time became an arbitrary concept after that. He was aware that it was passing, but fuck if he knew how much. The pleasure was so intense, he could hardly keep his eyes open or catch his breath. But then, Stiles pulled out his fingers and grabbed Derek’s hips so he could shift underneath him to sit up.

And oh yeah, Derek was a fan of this plan.

Derek mirrored his position. Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s waist and guided him down onto his dick. They sat motionless for a few minutes as Derek adjusted to his size. His head lolled back onto Stiles’ shoulder.

“You okay?” Stiles asked, his head buried in Derek’s neck.

“Oh God yes. So good. So... fuck.”

Stiles began to roll his hips, thrusting into him in smooth, fluid movements, gradually picking up the pace until Derek was bouncing on his cock with wild abandon. The bed creaked and groaned in either protest or support. Derek’s mind was reduced to a mess of broken off syllables and slurred words as the pressure built at the base of his spine, built behind his eyes, rising and tightening until-

He came with a howl, a keening howl. Stiles followed him a minute or so later after a handful of uncoordinated thrusts, and they both collapsed onto Derek’s bed. Both were a panting, yet blissful wreck.

When Derek finally came down, he turned to him, a dopey grin on his lips. “We’re a mess.”

“Mmhm.”

He felt Stiles smile into his shoulder. Though neither was in any state to move, Derek managed to stumble into the bathroom for a warm washcloth to clean them up. He leaned over Stiles and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead the way he had so many times before, but it felt so different with him warm and human beneath him. “I love you too, in case it wasn’t obvious.”

Some time later, as they lay, an entangled knot of limbs, Derek’s head rose and fell with Stiles’ every breath; a steady heart beat beneath his ear. Fingers traced lazy patterns into his back, with Stiles spelling out random words every so often.

“Uh...that one was balloon?”

"Wrong. It was baton." Stiles kissed his temple. “Thank you.”

“For?”

“Everything? For being you? For throwing yourself into finding a solution for me. Even if my mother’s book never surfaces, if its loss means I get you, it’s worth it.”

Derek smiled against the bare skin of Stiles’ chest. “ You were worth it.”

“Would we still get a house in a forest somewhere, even if I’m not going to be in dragon form the rest of my life?”

“If you want. I think I’d build you a house anywhere you wanted. So long as you keep taking me flying with you...just with maybe a safer harness.”

“Until you're too old to hold on."

"Mmm. Sounds nice.”

Stiles was quiet for several minutes. “Derek?”

“Yeah?”

“How long do werewolves live?”

“Usually anywhere from 150 to 200 years, if a hunter, other supernatural creature, or accident doesn’t get us first.”

“Two hundred? Hmm, that’s 173 more years with you. Yeah, I can live with that. Sounds like a dream.”

“Sure does, and Stiles?"

"Hm?"

"I'll let you steal my cookies anytime.”