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Water for the Baby

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It's clear Derek knows these streets, or at the least can see these streets. Stiles isn't sure of his reasons at the moment, not with their distance, but he's herding Stiles past the well lighted places and along back paths running through the trees. Stiles buttons the top button of his pea-coat, struggling with his mittened hands.

He's swathed in material, head to foot. A woolen scarf pulled around his neck and chin, a hat around his ears. The sweat-dampened hair on his head threatens to freeze in whispy-chunks where is escapes out from under the woolen brim of the cap.

Derek takes Stiles' mittened hand in his own bare one and Stiles stares at it for a moment, curious about how Derek experiences the cold.

He also wonders if he would allow such prolonged contact if his own were un-gloved. He feels that familiar stab of giddy-guilt at the thought.

As it is, all Stiles can do is smile at Derek and start a rambling story about legends claiming that a god once shot arrows into trees in order to create people. Not nymphs though. Those lived an ocean away.

Pieces of his brain wander away as him mouth rambles onward. He's used to - too used to - carrying on a conversation unrelated to his focus. He's thinking about his problem. His ongoing, endless problem of actually talking. Sharing.

There was someone once who'd had the lines : 'Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/ And by opposing end them,' running through his thoughts as he'd brushed by Stiles at a bus stop, in such a hurry to get on the bus first.

Stiles always wondered if he'd stolen the lines from the man, because they got stuck in Stiles' brain. Sometimes looping over and again.

Derek is staring up at the sky, eyes flicking from Stiles to the moon and back, his hand warming Stiles' through his knitted-llama-patterned-mitten. Derek's not even wearing a scarf and Stiles feels colder for looking at him. He steps closer, feeling warmer for walking next to him.

Stiles mouth moves on to the effort the Greek gods had to go to in order to get Orion hung in the sky. He thinks about how his dad always covers himself so completely. He's been wearing long sleeves since he understood what Stiles is.

At first it was because his dad was worried that his tiny baby boy would see how vicious the world is. That he would see beaten faces and broken bodies and think that the world was nothing but cruelty.

Then it became habit. A habit that had his dad drawing back, double checking to make sure that his sleeves were rolled down and buttoned. A glancing check for any holes, for lines of bare skin before giving a hug, hands landing carefully on Stiles' clothed back.

Stiles understood that his dad tried. Appreciated that he tried so hard to make up for those second-glances in many other ways. He knew that his dad cared.

After all, he's felt it in those moments when his dad's hand brushed his skin, before his dad jerked away again. But also that time in high school when Stiles had broken an arm and his dad had, mercifully, forgotten all about telepathy for a few moments.

Stiles had never felt his dad's love quite as he had during that painful ambulance ride as case after case filtered through his head alongside his father's flare of determination to take on the world if it meant making his son alright again. The tree Stiles had fallen from and the forest in its entirety would have withered from afar if his dad's internal curses had been effective.

As it was, Stiles had clung harder with his good hand and dug in deeper than he'd meant. He'd later tell himself it was to keep himself from feeling his own pain. If that has been his sole goal, his ploy was effective. Instead of sharp, grating pain, the Sheriff's case memories were riveting, seeing how his dad made connections. Pieces slotting together into whole pictures. The fluctuating images were more interesting than experiencing the ingrained rut of his dad's daily routines. The boring paper work. The tooth brushing. The screech of sirens that still had his dad taking a steadying breath every time.

And through everything, there were constant flickers of his mother. Her smile. The reflection of her in Stiles' eyes. The time she'd thrown a glass at the his head in a fit of temper. Stiles' shied away from the memory of the way she'd kissed. He refused - refused - to walk down that path.

The images of her he did look at were clearly worn. The memories had all the signs of carefully replay, of repainted, faded magnetic tape. They didn't have smells any longer. They were too often considered, the details of how her hair fell etched deep and sharp, but the background lost in focus.

His dad had glanced at the EMT and a flash of the last accident flashed through his head. A thread to another case, another call of sirens. The cases were why his dad still didn't touch him now. Even though Stiles knew was death looked like. He wanted to keep him out of police work and away from passwords. To keep other people's secrets away from him. Mostly, he wanted to stop his son's getting involved, getting in trouble. From getting hurt just like he was now.

Stiles knew that. All that. Understood that.

Still, he resented that. Felt Lydia's sneer of anger when she watched his dad's habitual glance at his arms, his careful monitoring of his hand placement whenever he reached out.

But, the hugs were awesome.

He's worried though. Worried that Derek's could have a similar response. He can imagine Derek's soft smile accompanying efforts to make sure Stiles stays permanently covered, just like he is now. Derek would move him to Alaska and wrap him in gauze. Kiss him through cellophane like the main characters in that show Lydia and he had cried over.

Derek pulls Stiles closer and he blinks, realizes his story ended, and shakes his head to scatter his hesitations and suppositions. Whatever happens, he's likely to have guessed wrong anyhow. He's usually wrong when it comes to people.

He focuses instead on how dark it is. Stiles has never been able to see in the dark. He wonders what it would be like to be able to. He'd tried to find out from a series of animals as a child, but he had never been able to pick up anything. He would guess it's not like the look of infrared cameras. Or, at least, not for a werewolf. Derek has a full range of normal-human-colors during the day. He likely has the normal three cones. But then. Stiles thinks he must have so many rods. His ability to see and track movement is absurd.

Stiles thinks Derek notices when he shivers. He definitely notices when Stiles adjusts his scarf with his free hand to cover the tiny gap near his throat where the cold is stabbing at him. Derek moves them back toward those lighted places, toward coffee houses and food.

It's at the table, coffee mug clutched in his mittenless-hands that he finally works up the courage to speak about himself.

"Look," Stiles mumbles to his coffee cup, "Look, I'm not the best with words. You know, not the easiest things when you are trying to communicate something."

Derek agrees. A slight grunt under his breath. A twitching nod of acknowledgment. Derek's bare hand is half way across the table, Stiles swears to himself that it's slowly shifting towards him. Teasing him. Definitely taunting.

"Just. Look. I just may be a touch-telepath. And I may be reading some of your thoughts every time we touch. And that may mean that you don't want to actually. You know. Keep touching me." Stiles pauses, looks pointedly to where Derek's hand lay, even closer to Stiles' own fingers. Stiles thinks if he had waited another five minutes, they would have been on his.

Derek's brow quirks slightly. He looks Stiles steadily in the eyes and turns his hand deliberately over. Leaves it open, fingers curling gently. An invitation. A challenge perhaps. Definitely still a taunt.

Stiles hates backing down from a dare. He reaches forward, bringing his fingers down on the heel of Derek's hand, running them up his palm. He rests his hand on the table, leaving their fingers resting tip-to-tip.

Derek likes the feeling, the nerve endings igniting and sending shivers up his arm. He's wondering if firmer contact makes for a stronger connection, would make him easier for Stiles to read. He's curious if he can pull Stiles' further in by curling his fingers, drawing Stiles' in until his dry knuckles rasp against the palm of his hand.

The feeling of the whorls of his fingers is distracting. Callouses between his index and middle fingers. Pen, most likely. Heartbeat in his ears. Slightly nervous. It doesn't match his own, steady in his chest. He wonders if he expects him to run.

Derek takes a deliberate breath and twin inhalations fill both their chests, oxygen flooding their lungs, seeping into their blood, sending that strange burst of euphoria to their brains. Stiles can feel Derek's smile, feel the upward tilt of his mouth and his own tilts with it. Derek likes seeing him look happy.

Stiles doesn't think that he's ever read a person so aware of and in-tune with their own body, of the reach of their senses.

Derek's not trying to direct his thoughts or Stiles', not attempting to any kind of control. He's just. Being. Letting his thoughts caress and wander. Not thinking hard and trying to cover up a constant drum of thoughts like mother often did. Not trying to make sure he knows everything like Lydia. Just curiosity and enjoyment.

Stiles' doesn't know what to think of it. Not of this calm contentment. The sleepy flow of thoughts, moving with a solid pace. He's looking at his face in relief, vision picking lazily at the pores across his brow, thinking that is eyes are quite beautiful. The individual lashes surrounding his eyes make them look huge. His gaze moves down, crosses their hands, highlighting the details of Stiles' knuckles. He's passively curious again about what Stiles sees. How deeply he can go?

Stiles clears his throat, air scratching the walls of his esophagus. Derek wonders if he needs water. His free hand moves automatically, nudging his glass in Stiles' direction. There is a pleased flutter of feeling when Stiles takes it. The bob of Stiles' atom's apple fascinates as he swallows. The interest makes Stiles splutter a bit, drops of water spilling on his chin. Derek's amused.

"So, you're not so much concerned about it?" Stiles asks, watching the answer.

A humorous, slow flush of memories concerning tales about seers and mind readers as a child. Stories about old, hunched men and women reading palms. Derek has never met one, but his mental images of bright-looking crones and pan-creatures makes Stiles' grin.

The gruff "No" is accompanied by curiosity on why Stiles thought it might be an issue. Unsure of why Stiles' might have been concerned. Does he think that Derek had terrible secrets. He probably would, but there are so few secrets in a house of werewolves.

There's a memory of Stiles' flash of teeth during their first meeting. Derek's conviction that Stiles somehow already knew about the werewolf-issue. Coincidences simply didn't exist in Derek's world-view and a human flashing teeth at a werewolf? Meant Stiles must know something, be part of something. Derek thought he have been a spark. Hadn't expected a touch-telepath, hadn't known that they, specifically, existed. But then rows of faces and specific-smells, variations of various types, people physically demonstrating their personalized genes. People did have a habit of evolving. Of being delightfully individual.

Stiles' fingers twitch, contact lost for a second. He didn't know how he was supposed to tell Lydia all of this. Explain the rows of people with different skill sets when Derek's primary memory of each was their smell. But he could imagine her delight, the burst of thrilled, intensity of excitement associated with planning.

His fingers reconnect, pinky finger dragging against the blunt nail on Derek's hand. Derek's looking at their hands, feels him shiver. Is interested in that shiver.

"You know, calm acceptance is rather anti-climactic" Stiles voices, surprised he's actually capable of being on topic at the moment. Lydia so often feels that he's needs to learn to use a better, more precise vocabulary.

There's amusement, curiosity about exactly Stiles expected him to do. Detached considerations of what Stiles might think Derek would be like in a rage. Derek's memory of the last time he lost control features a small, hungry werewolf tearing a pillow to shreds.

"You really are a giant puppy. It's like you're this weird werewolf golden lab" there's a disgruntled snort and images with over enthused dogs. That happy, happy dog from Pixar's Up plays a central role.

----
Stiles dreams of running, of the crunch of twigs under foot, of chases. Of the excitement of following a smell. Loosing himself to his surroundings.

He wakes to the press of his body against his chest, weighing him into the bed. The beat of his heart is thumbing in his ears, pleasant, ticking up slightly indicating that the body is waking up with him. Breath brushing over the hairs on his skin. His left leg is cramping, the muscles relaxed. He feels too warm, comfortable. He's breathing in sync with his own breath, the air cascading out of his lungs and over his skin. His hands are trapped under his chest, he moves his other hands to his hips to stop the slight twitching, squirming of the body draped over him as it slowly wakes up.

He likes this game. This unraveling of selves.

He definitely needs to brush his teeth. He's sure of that, he clings to that. Uses his nasty breath as a base from which to unwrap, to find the boundaries between the two of them. To tries to convince himself that he is not a 32 year old born-werewolf with a large pack back in a home he visits every week.

It's a hard sell at the moment. There's not much to prove he isn't the werewolf.

Maybe, he's pretty sure he's the one thinking, he shouldn't have slept on someone else's chest. But it's such a common reoccurrence. He doesn't know if he wants the side of ham in the refrigerator or if he should be considering to what extent he needs to clean the flat today before Lydia shows up.

He pokes at the desire to not get up, to not move now that his twisting has stopped. He enjoys having his hands on the waist of warm body that he thinks is him. He's relatively sure that he knows out who's arms are who's when he tries to move the pair at his waist. He tries to wrap them around him, to hug himself, and succeeds in an odd shudder, his own trapped arms twitching with confused muscles.

He's pretty sure its not his nose smelling the bakery down the street, even if it makes his stomach twitch in interest.