A normal morning would've started with his alarm. This morning starts with a pre-dawn call from Stiles, yanking him out of a sound sleep.
Derek has the feeling it’ll be all downhill from here.
The house is freezing. He pulls on clothes while Stiles gives him a breathless run-down of some lead he's researching, something to do with the multiplying Alpha Pack symbols they've found in the area. Honestly, Derek only makes out every other word—he can tell when Stiles remembers to take his Adderall before calling, and this is not one of those times. Derek can't think of anything else he has to do today, so he agrees to check it out. As soon as he relents, Stiles says he’s sending Deaton to meet him...and then hangs up on him.
Which is completely predictable, but somehow pisses him off every time.
Poppy-seed-onion bagel in hand, he drives to the outlet center at the edge of town to wait for the veterinarian. A half hour later, he’s done waiting. He tries calling Stiles, but all he gets is voice mail and a curt text: school now, talk l8r. So he drives to the vet’s office to bitch Deaton out in person.
Deaton has no idea what he’s talking about. He claims Stiles didn’t call him, and Derek can tell he isn't lying. So that means Stiles got distracted and forgot—classic Stiles—and Derek's wasted the first part of his morning. He should be pissed off, but Deaton is confused and wrong-footed for once, and it’s so easy to lay into him, to snarl vague threats just to keep the man on his toes. It’s one of Derek’s secret pleasures, and he so rarely gets the chance. Deaton’s always the cryptic-mystic, with that smug, all-knowing smile; it feels great to see him floundering once in a while.
When he gets back to his car, he tries calling Stiles again. Voice mail—again. But he has a text from Isaac, saying he’s left a peace offering on the front porch. Curious, Derek heads home to find three long, flat IKEA boxes propped up by the door. (If he gives a triumphant fist-pump, no one’s around to prove it.) The offering almost makes up for Isaac adopting two baby bunnies that'd been abandoned at the vet’s last week...and then expecting to house them in Derek’s living room for the foreseeable future.
The best part of the peace offering is that Isaac didn’t stick around to get in his way. Derek unwraps the boards of faux-maple laminate and drags them to the kitchen, ignoring the nervous thumping of Isaac’s rabbits. They’ll get over the scent of wolf in the house eventually. Right?
It takes two hours of measuring, snarling, remeasuring, and finally forcing the damn pieces together, but in the end he has a new set of kitchen cabinets assembled and ready to mount. Which is when he realizes the wall studs are too damaged to support the weight, and now he needs to buy new 2x4s. Still, it’s barely noon—he can endure the crowds at Home Depot long enough to get some 2x4s. Right?
He doesn’t actually make it to Home Depot. He’s driving through town when he catches a flash of blonde hair, smells a familiar scent through his vents, and he cranks the wheel hard, roaring into the parking lot of the Texas Corral Buffet. Erica waves jauntily from the entrance. When he demands, “Shouldn’t you be in school?” she just laughs—and it’s not like he’s her father. What does it matter if she’s skipping class?
They end up at a table for two right next to the buffet. Trying to ward off any heart-to-hearts about feelings or boys, he declares he's not paying if she opens her mouth to talk. She rolls her eyes and points to the buffet. "Are you kidding? It's all-you-can-eat ribs. This is serious, Derek." And, well…okay then. He grunts, and they head up to fill their plates.
After the first three rounds of ribs—lukewarm, but thick-cut and smoky-sweet—their waitress smiles nervously and refills their drinks. After four more rounds, the manager starts hovering, trailing an unpleasant odor of panic as he paces by their table. And that’s when Erica pops the button on her jeans and makes it an outright challenge; she always was the most competitive of his betas. Underhanded, too, trying to distract him with provocative licks along her fingers, biting extra sauce off of her full lips, and fuck, Derek hasn’t seen Stiles in two days. She fights dirty.
He focuses on his more immediate hunger, ripping off strips of meat and succulent fat, cracking open the bones to suck out the slow-cooked marrow. She eats faster, but he’s got stamina, and by the time the cooks have lined up to watch, wringing their hands in awed despair, Derek’s clearing his twelfth plate—two more than her—suck it, beta!
After lunch, his instinct is to curl up in his sun-warmed car and sleep off the heavy weight in his stomach. But it’s nearly 2 o'clock, and school will be letting out in half an hour. If he catches Stiles before lacrosse practice, he can finally get the rundown on those Alpha Pack symbols. (And steal a few kisses in the privacy of his car.)
He parks right outside the main doors and sits on the warm hood, leather jacket zipped up against the January chill. The sun’s out, but last night’s snow still lingers under the window sills and shrubberies. Stiles will bitch for hours about having to run laps in the cold—
His phone rings from an unknown number, but he knows the voice the second he answers. When did Allison get his number, he wonders, before he realizes what she’s saying:
“Are you crazy? I can see you from my desk. The whole class is freaking out about the creepy guy in the parking lot, glaring at the school like he wants to hurt somebody. My teacher just called the cops, Derek. Why are you—”
Shit. He’s tearing out of the parking lot before he hears the first sirens. A quick left onto a side road gets him out of sight of the incoming cruiser just in time. Not that he’s afraid of Beacon Hills' finest—hah! no way—but on the off chance it’s Stiles’s father responding, retreat is the only good option.
He holes up behind the Slurpee Shack to wait out the police response and ends up taking that nap after all. Again, he’s woken by an urgent phone call, this one from an anxious Scott. Isaac’s bike is still locked on the school’s bike rack, but Isaac didn’t show up for lacrosse practice.... Derek bitches about it not being his problem, but he could use a stretch, so he heads back to the school and follows Isaac’s scent into the woods.
About five miles along Isaac’s mysterious path through the forest, the mystery is solved; Isaac calls from a couple towns over, finally back in cell phone range and needing a lift back to Beacon Hills. He’d been chasing a scent—Alpha Pack related, he thought—and lost track of time. Derek checks his phone’s map: 50 miles. He’s not about to admit it, but he’s impressed Isaac made it that far in just over an hour. He agrees to pick him up, already running back to his car. The sooner Isaac’s safely back on their territory the better.
And if their return route takes them past the Home Depot, well, Isaac owes him again.
Boyd swings by the house after practice and is a complete ass, laughing at their attempts to level the freshly-hung cabinets. His attitude’s begging for correction, so Derek prescribes some one-on-one training. Isaac, still worn out from his afternoon run, gets to sit this one out and observe from the porch. Boyd growls but doesn’t otherwise protest and lets Derek throw him around the clearing for a couple hours in the name of skill-building. It’s a great workout—just what Derek needed after all that careful, precise fiddling with the cabinets.
The next time he checks his phone, he’s got a text from Stiles, and it's good news, finally: the sheriff’s working a night shift. Derek’s half-way across town, libido pressing hard on the gas, before he remembers their Alpha Pack problem. Crap. Stiles is gonna wanna talk about his research for hours.
He climbs in Stiles's window, expecting to find him pacing or fretting over his keyboard, worrying himself sick over the pack's safety as usual. But Stiles is waiting right by the window, his hands empty until he grabs Derek's shoulders and kisses him. It's long and deep and close, his hair soft between Derek's fingers, his skin smelling like want and heat and happiness, hard where he's pressed all along Derek's body.
Derek holds him close and kisses him back for a minute before he makes himself pull away. It's the last thing he wants to do, but Stiles had something to tell him, a reason for calling him over--besides this one. And Stiles's sarcastic tongue gets vicious when Derek doesn't at least pretend to listen to his research.
"I'm here," he growls, impatience bleeding through his tone, making him sound annoyed. It's a relief to know Stiles won't take it the wrong way—Stiles has a pretty good bead on Derek, even better than his pack, sometimes. "What'd you wanna tell me?"
"It can wait," Stiles says, and with a neat yank and twist—a move Derek used on him just last week—he spills Derek across his bed and pounces.
A couple hours later, Derek's curled around Stiles's hips, chin resting on his pelvis and one hand stroking Stiles's thigh. He loves this bed, loves the scent of them on the sheets, the firm mattress and creaking wooden frame. In a few more hours he'll have to head back to his own bedroom, the mattress on the floor and the empty house. He lets out a big sigh and decides not to think about that right now.
Stiles pulls at Derek's hair a little and asks, a smile in his voice, "How was your day?"
Derek shrugs at the ridiculous question. "Same old."
Stiles tugs again. "Same old? Come on, I know you ripped into Deaton. And you got those new cabinets installed, right? A couple good workouts, even a car chase to spice things up--and you call that same old?
He's grinning, eyebrows jerking unsubtly…and some of those things he could've learned from the pack (they're always texting Stiles, it's a little weird)…but not the car chase. No one knew about that but Allison. And even she probably wouldn't've guessed….
"You had an awesome day, just admit it."
Derek rolls over and pins Stiles, leaning up into his face. "What did you do?" he demands.
Stiles shrugs. "A little of everything. Evil genius, remember?"
"Specifics, Stiles," Derek says, snarling because he's suddenly nervous, feeling manipulated and jerked around.
Stiles picks up on that and stops grinning. "We wanted to keep you busy today. Distracted. So I coordinated a schedule with the pack—"
"Distracted from what? The Alphas? What am I missing?"
Stiles cups his cheek with a gentle hand and says, "What day is today."
Derek scowls and thinks. The first week of the spring semester. Lacrosse game tomorrow. Two weeks ‘til the next full moon. Almost a year since he met Stiles. A year since he met Scott—and then he remembers where he'd been exactly one year ago today. Burying half of his sister in the basement of his burned-out home, twine and wolfsbane laid on her grave….
Stiles wraps his legs around Derek's waist and tries to roll him over, but Derek just collapses flat on top of him. All the air rushes out of Derek's body, throat closing up like he'll never fit another breath again.
"We didn't want you hurting all day," Stiles says, his own breathing strained by Derek's weight. "So I set stuff up to keep you busy. Come on, I know you had a good day. I made sure."
Derek's barely listening. He wants to cry, wants to let out his claws and shred the mattress, destroy everything. He buried his sister a year ago today. He should be sitting with her, mourning her, not curled up here with his boyfriend. And his whole pack was in on this?
Stiles's hand slides up his back, stroking small circles between his shoulder blades. "You had lunch with Erica. You trained with Boyd. You worked on the house. You were busy, and important, and you even let Isaac's bunnies live another day. And you have me, right here, naked as the day I was born. You had a great day, Derek; don't forget all the good parts."
He huffs against Stiles's neck, stubbornly refusing to admit that he's right.
Stiles turns his head toward the bedside table and says, "11:55. You've got five more minutes to brood, if that's what you really wanted to do today. Or…" he nudges at Derek's shoulder, a wordless hint for Derek to give him some breathing room. Yeah, that's not happening yet.
"Or?" Derek prompts, stalling so he won't have to move.
"Or we keep cuddling, while you tell me hilarious stories about growing up with a PMS-ing werewolf big sister. Your choice."
Derek growls at being so smoothly maneuvered. He wants to grieve in private, wants to howl into the night and hear the silence confirm the magnitude of his loss—all his losses. But he's comfortable, wanted, loved—by Stiles and his pack—and he can't deny that it helps. He isn't alone anymore; he might never be alone again, even when he wants to be.
And if that's what Stiles is trying to tell him—what he was trying to tell him all day—then he's finally hearing him loud and clear.
Decision made, he rolls off, tugs Stiles under his arm, and stares up at the dark ceiling. "Let me tell you about my sister...."