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If he was to defend himself in a court of law, Stiles would protest that he was never actually spying on Derek.

He was merely gathering information, observing Derek when he happened to be in his presence, and accumulating data he managed to get during said times. There was no sneaking into Derek’s personal effects, no snooping in his private spaces, no attempts to watch or hear him when Derek was not aware of it. Granted, most of that was due to the fact that no matter how sleuthy Stiles could be -- which, admittedly, wasn’t all that much -- there was no circumventing of Derek’s werewolf senses and the ability to smell if someone was where they shouldn’t be.

It was absolutely not Stiles’ fault that most pack gatherings and planning took place in Derek’s loft. Nor that the upstairs bathroom in said loft was right next to Derek’s room. He was not at all at fault for having certain information -- in the form of files from the BHPD office, where his Dad just so happened to be the Sheriff -- left in plain sight on his own kitchen table.

And if that information proved valuable in his efforts to get to know Derek better, was it even a bad thing that he knew things that regular people didn’t? The werewolves in the pack had advantages too, after all, thanks to being able to smell things that humans couldn’t. Stiles wasn’t spying, he was just leveling the playing field, really.

He told all this to Scott when the topic of Derek came up by accident one day. The accident was Scott looking in the wrong desk drawer for Stiles’ notes from a class, and finding a notebook with Stiles’ notes on Derek instead.

“Dude,” Scott said, holding up the notebook for Stiles to see. “Seriously?”

After Stiles explained himself, he admitted that he sounded just a tiny bit defensive.

“You haven’t been this… thorough,” Scott said, his eyes on the notebook and his forehead scrunched in a frown, “since Lydia. I think this might actually be worse than Lydia and your ten year plan.”

“This is nothing like that,” Stiles protested. “Lydia was… is … that’s different.”

“Is the ten year plan still in action? Because if it is, I don’t remember you doing anything for it in the last… well… since around when you started writing this,” Scott pointed out the first page in the notebook. “I remember this pack meeting. It was the first one after Isaac and Jackson came back.”

“So? How do you know I’m not waiting for a good opportunity to do something epic to sweep her off her feet?” Stiles asked, trying to sound annoyed, but only coming across as petulant and, again, defensive.

“Because last time we went out, you had zero interest in watching that romance movie that she suggested, but you jumped at the chance to go to Jungle again,” Scott said, chuckling.

“So?”

“So, there’s hardly space for strawberry blonde princesses in between the tall, dark, and scruffy guys you spent the whole night ogling.”

“That…” Stiles coughs, caught off guard by the fact that Scott noticed. “That doesn’t mean that I’m spying on Derek!”

“No, but this notebook does.” Scott waves it in his hand. “Look, bro, I’m not judging… okay, I’m judging a little, but not the fact that it is Derek, but… why don’t you just tell him?”

“That I’ve been paying attention?”

“Don’t be obtuse, Stiles,” Scott says with a heavy sigh. “I know you like him.”

“So? I like a lot of people.”

“Not like this,” Scott says, lifting the notebook again.

Stiles slumps a little in his chair after that, resignation written all over his face. He’s about to try for another protest when the door opens, and Stiles’ eyes widen in panic instead. Then, when his brain comes back online, he turns to Scott, eyes narrowed.

“You knew!”

“Knew what?” Scott asks a little too innocently.

“Don’t even try, I know with your wolfy senses you had to have known!”

Scott smiles sweetly, and he hands the notebook to Stiles, pats him on the shoulder, and then glances between him and Derek who’s standing in the door, looking confused.

“Talk,” Scott says, addressing both of them.

When he walks out, the room falls into silence save for Stiles’ slightly panicky heartbeat that he’s sure Derek can hear. Neither of them moves for a moment, until Stiles looks at the notebook in his hand, and attempts to ignore the urge to run away from his own room.

“So,” he starts, and he clears his throat when his voice comes out all scratchy. “I swear I wasn’t spying on you…”