Stiles knows a pity gift when he sees one. Mostly because that’s all he’s ever gotten from anyone since the moment he hit puberty.
Being an omega is supposed to be an honor. A rare, coveted position in the community. Stiles is supposed to be waited on hand and foot once a month every heat cycle by every alpha for a hundred damn miles, okay?
Instead, he’s the town charity case.
“I know what this is!” he shouts from his doorstep at the latest in a long line of retreating alphas. Stiles holds the cake platter he just got handed high up in the air like a lunatic. “I know this came from a box mix, you tool! And it’s going nowhere near my tastebuds!”
Back inside the house, the sheriff frowns at Stiles from over his casework at the dining table. “I really wish you’d let them down a little easier, son.”
Stiles rolls his eyes and throws the cake in the garbage, because he’s not having this argument with his father again. He knows why people in this town act like he’s the most desirable omega in four counties, and it’s not, as his dad likes to try to tell him, because they’re all (“though god knows why”) charmed and fascinated by him. It’s because they feel sorry for him.
The first ever recorded omega born to two alphas? It’s unheard of. It’s… freakish. Stiles is a freak. And this fucking town has never let him forget that.
The worst of them is Derek Hale.
Derek doesn’t even like Stiles, alright? He’s made that abundantly clear on more than one occasion. Which means that Derek’s offerings? Aren’t even out of pity. He’s making fun of Stiles. Giving him token trinkets, baked goods, gift cards, the same as all the others, but as if to rub it in. As if to say, “Here’s a glimpse into what I’d be doing if you were in anyway a desirable choice as a mate.”
Stiles hates it. And he’s been pretty vocal about that fact, but to no avail. The gifts keep coming. The “suitors” keep showing up. Derek Hale with his stupid, perfect jawline keeps scowling at the back of Stiles’ head in fourth period Economics like Stiles is something he scraped off the bottom of his shoe, and then keeps making Stiles feel even worse by sticking fifty dollar gift cards to Starbucks in his locker.
Make no mistake, Stiles still uses the gift cards. He’s bitter, yes, but he’s also a broke high schooler with car payments.
This month’s heat is blessedly short, but Stiles still finds himself brooding over a stack of casserole dishes left by various alphas at the end of it. He hates casserole. But, more than that, he hates the amazing-looking tossed salad in the saran-wrapped wooden bowl beside them all.
Salad’s not really his thing, per se, but this one looks… tempting. It also looks like the only food any alpha has ever given him that he would actually feel comfortable letting his father eat.
And, of course, Derek Hale is the one that dropped it off.
Stiles actually thought that things were looking up at the beginning of his sophomore year, when Derek, then at the beginning of his senior year, left town to go god knows where to do god knows what (reports are conflicting, the popular theory being that he was in prison). But now Stiles is a junior and Derek Hale has returned to finish out his high school degree, a year older, bigger, surlier and scruffier than all the other seniors combined.
First of all, Stiles wants to know how Derek even knew that a salad would be appreciated. It’s kind of a well-kept secret that the sheriff indulges Stiles as much as he does by letting him call the shots when it comes to his health. And secondly, Stiles kind of wants to cry because this is a new low. It’s one thing to taunt Stiles with impersonal, half-hearted offerings, but it’s another to really pretend to care. That’s just cruel.
Monday morning at school, Stiles keeps his head down and avoids basically everybody except for Scott. He always comes out of his heats feeling a little vulnerable at first, a little hollowed out and too small for his body. He figures that will change once he’s got a mate to share his heats with, but fat chance of that happening any time soon.
He can feel Derek’s eyes on him throughout the day, but he does his best to ignore it, does his best to forget the salad that his father actually ate with gusto the night before.
But the first edition comic book in his locker after third period is the final straw.
“You’re an asshole.” Stiles shoves the comic book into Derek’s chest. He does his best not to damage the thing, because it’s probably worth more than his car, but he puts enough force behind it that Derek, caught off guard to be confronted in the busy high school hallways, falls back a step.
“I know I’m whatever to you, that I’m less than nothing,” Stiles steamrolls before Derek can even open his mouth to respond. “But I don’t deserve this shit. So you can take your sadistic idea of a joke and shove it, okay? Just take your attitude and your eyebrows and your surprisingly good taste in comic books and go back to wherever it was you hid yourself last year. Hopefully Russia.”
Derek still looks a little too stunned to do much other than stare at Stiles, so Stiles takes the opportunity to turn around and stalk off in the kind of dramatic exit he’s never been lucky enough to seriously pull off.
This time is no different. He doesn’t make it three feet before Jackson fucking Whitmore sidles up to him and leers, “Nice one, Stilinski. You wanna put money on when another alpha will bother to even look at you twice?”
Stiles is not equipped to deal with Jackson’s bullshit right now. He elbows Jackson out of his way and speeds up his steps, but Jackson grabs hold of his wrist in a bruising grip to stop him and spin him around. “Or maybe you’d like to try slumming it with a beta? Maybe you’re sick of all the handholding and just want a good, hard–”
The growl that interrupts Jackson nearly makes Stiles go weak in the knees with its ferocity. And then suddenly Derek Hale is there, slamming Jackson into the wall so hard he almost goes through it. There’s definitely some cracked paint and plaster falling into Jackson’s over-gelled hair.
“I was in New York with my sister,” Derek grits out around fangs, eyes burning red.
Stiles blinks. “What.”
Jackson opens his mouth, probably to say something douchey, but doesn’t get the chance as Derek hauls him away from the wall and then slams him back into it.
“Last year. That’s where I was. My uncle decided he’d rather fuck off to Fiji than let me stay with him in the family house anymore, so I went to stay with my sister in New York. As soon as I was of age to get my inheritance, I came back here. I came back, because…” Derek grits his teeth and growls again, as though fighting the words. Then he visibly shakes it off, fangs receding, and shoves Jackson away from them into the crowd. Jackson promptly goes scampering away with a perfunctory sneer.
Derek turns to face Stiles fully and draws in a deep breath. “Because you’re beautiful and brilliant and a pain in the ass, and I’ve been in love with you since you were thirteen and I watched you shove Isaac Lahey’s god awful oatmeal cookies back in his face and tell him you were allergic to scarves.”
Stiles gapes unattractively at Derek for who knows how long. Is he dreaming right now? Or is this maybe part of whatever elaborate prank Derek’s been trying to pull for the last several years? “But– I– But– You hate me! This whole town thinks I’m some sort of sideshow!”
Derek stares at him flatly for what feels like a full minute. “Literally every person in the county, hell even the betas, have been competing for your attention practically since the day you were born. You’re the one who never gives any of us the time of day.”
Stiles’ whole world has just flipped upside down. This entire time has everyone really… was all of the wooing actually serious? Because first of all these people should really step up their game if that’s the case, because apparently no one in this town can make a decent pie to save their lives. But secondly, what?
Oh god, his dad was right. Everybody’s in love with him. Stiles has no idea what to do with this information. His cheeks burn with a hot blush. He feels suddenly open and exposed now that he knows so many people actually want him holy shit.
Stiles is rooted to the spot as Derek takes a step back, away from him. “I think I’ve made my intentions clear enough. So if you’re going to reject me out of hand like all the rest, I’d prefer you do it sooner rather than later.” And then he’s walking away through the parting crowd while Stiles stares helplessly after him, too shocked to do much else.
The bell rings for the next class and the hallway clears, but Stiles doesn’t move until a worried Scott finally shows up and leads him outside to the Jeep and then home.
Stiles spends a few days home, locked up in his room playing video games and trying not to think too hard about all of the sex he probably could have been having these last few years. His dad loves him enough to allow him the time he needs to completely reassess his life, but he also doesn’t bother hiding how often he spends laughing at Stiles’ apparent idiocy.
But the thing is, Stiles is actually more hung up on the Derek of it all rather than the being so coveted by complete strangers part. Those people don’t know him, but Derek… Derek loves him. Derek watched him talk back to an alpha when he was thirteen years old and apparently thought that little display was the bees knees. Stiles is pretty sure most other alphas would’ve written an omega off as more trouble than he was worth at that point.
It’s hard enough trying to wrap his brain around any of this, but even during his more optimistic moments he’s still left with the burning question of what, if anything, he feels for Derek in return. Sure the guy is hot like burning, but does Stiles even know anything else about him?
It hits him on the fourth day of hiding out that he actually does. He stands in the middle of his bedroom after his first shower all week, finally dressed in clean clothes, and it clicks that he’s sort of unintentionally been falling for Derek this whole time.
Generally speaking, Stiles doesn’t keep the gifts he gets from the alphas. He uses the gift cards, he sometimes taste-tests a baked good if it looks like it should be featured on a cooking show, but otherwise it’s extremely rare that he’ll bother to do anything with the offerings he receives other than toss them in the bin.
Looking around his bedroom now, Stiles is struck with the realization that every time he bothered to keep something? It was from Derek. A laptop case with a Spiderman patch on it. A limited edition run of the Sandman series. A hoodie that fits perfectly and has two secret pockets on the inside.
He thinks about what he really knows about Derek, that he’s been telling himself he didn’t. The little things he’s gleaned but also the big. That moment when he was eleven and sitting in the passenger seat of his dad’s cruiser while a fourteen year old Derek fell to pieces with his sister outside their burning home.
Stiles is mid-epiphany when there’s a clatter behind him, and when he turns around to see Derek stepping through his window he’s somehow not surprised. He didn’t know it until right this second, but he’s pretty sure the last few years of his life have been building up to this.
“I don’t want to reject you,” Stiles blurts.
Derek studies him for a moment, like he’s trying to find the lie.
“I’ve only really been in love with you for about five minutes now,” he continues, watching Derek frown and take half a step backwards towards the window. “But,” he rushes to add, “if I had bothered to pay attention I would’ve fallen for you even before you fell for me. So.” Stiles shuffles his feet awkwardly.
Derek’s eyes take on a sudden, predatory glint, and he stalks forward. For a split second Stiles feels the flash of nerves associated with being prey, but then Derek’s got him pinned on the bed and he didn’t feel a thing in the landing because Derek absorbed all the impact himself. Because Derek loves him. Because Derek wants to take care of him.
Stiles smirks. “You’ve got it bad, dude.”
Derek scowls at him, and responds by burying his nose in the crook of Stiles’ neck and rolling his hips down roughly into Stiles’ rapidly growing erection.
Stiles’ breath stutters. “Touché,” he manages, and that’s going to be about all the words he’s capable of for awhile if Derek keeps doing that thing with his tongue.
Derek sucks a bruise into Stiles’ collarbone and then trails kisses up to his mouth, which he captures with as much teeth as not. Stiles is going to die from this, he’s suddenly certain.
“My next heat is in three weeks,” Stiles gasps. “Will you– Derek, please–“
“Yes. Yes, yes. I– I just need– Fuck, Stiles.”
“Yeah okay. Very much yes to that.”
Derek pulls his head back and his eyes are glowing a brilliant red. Stiles has never been so turned on in his life. “No,” Derek says.
Stiles blinks. “What?”
“We should wait.”
“Uh, no we shouldn’t.”
“I need to do this right. I need to talk to your father.”
“Why, so you can offer him three goats and your best chicken for me? This is my decision, Derek, and I’ve made it. The decision being that you should really fuck me right now.”
But Derek is climbing off of him and straightening his clothes, his red eyes fading back to their usual color. “I need to do this right,” he says again. “I don’t want just one fuck or one heat. I want you. Even when you drive me absolutely fucking nuts.”
Stiles smiles softly. “Especially when I drive you nuts.”
Derek grins a little, and concedes with a small nod.
Stiles sits up and makes a show of adjusting himself in his jeans. He’s just about to suggest that blowjobs could be a nice compromise when his bedroom door opens and his father walks in while resting one hand on the sidearm at his hip. Talk about a mood killer.
“Looks like we have a dinner guest.” His dad’s nonchalant tone could use some work.
But, against all odds, the rest of the night goes well. More than well. There are no awkward pauses, no impromptu interrogations, no purposefully embarrassing confrontations.
And if Stiles and Derek sneak off for some making out and over-the-clothes heavy petting in the bathroom halfway through (that, maybe, rather quickly devolves into Stiles sinking to his knees and taking Derek’s gorgeous, uncut cock in his mouth until he’s gagging on it and Derek can only groan and fist his hands in Stiles’ hair like he can’t help himself, can’t even keep his fangs from descending and his hips from bucking, the head of his dick hitting the back of Stiles’ throat once, twice, Derek fucking into his mouth now while Stiles tries very hard not to come in his pants), well, the sheriff gamely doesn’t comment on their disheveled appearances over desert.