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Saving Face

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It’s taken ten years, after college, and grad school, and paying his dues at a firm in Boston, but Stiles is finally moving back to Beacon Hills. It’s not like he hasn’t been back to visit, he does every chance he gets. He just hasn’t had many chances. To be honest, the three years he was at grad school are still kind of a blur and he suspects that’s best for his sanity. But the point is, he’s been back. He’s been to the clinic that Scott co-runs with Deaton now (or rather Scott runs the clinic and Deaton just leaves his name on the sign for the sake of customer loyalty). He’s seen the re-vamped city library. He’s eaten at the new diner with his dad. He has even seen Derek Hale in full Deputy regalia sitting behind a desk listening to tiny Mrs. Mueller rant about the hooligans she suspects are tearing through her yard in the middle of the night. It’s honestly the funniest goddamn thing Stiles has ever seen in his life and he is looking forward seeing it on a regular basis.

His second day back Stiles strolls into the station, take out container for his dad in hand, and is forced to stop dead in his tracks by the sight at the front desk.

“What the hell,” he asks, “is on your face?”

Derek, whose eyebrows had been rising in greeting, is now frowning.

“Excuse me?”

“Your beard, dude, it’s...holy god that’s a lot of white hair,” Stiles pauses a moment to squint, “and why the hell is it only the hair in your beard?”

Oh, the eyebrows are doing the ‘I mean business’ thing now.

“It’s hereditary,” Derek grits out, “Any other personal questions you’d like answered?”

“Ummm, nope. No. I’m good. I mean, it almost makes you look distinguished? But then I remember you’re only four years older than me and then it goes back to looking ridiculous.”

Stiles’ raucous laughter follows him as he disappears into the station and so does Derek’s grumpy gaze.

--

“I was wrong, Derek. About the beard,” Stiles leans on the corner of Derek’s desk and crosses his arms, grinning.

Derek doesn’t even look up from his paperwork, “Oh, really?”

“Yeah, it makes you look mature. Respectable even. Reminds me of my high school biology teacher.”

Derek does look up then, lips pressed firmly together, raking his eyes over Stiles smug face and hip-shot stance. He looks entirely too pleased with himself for Derek’s liking. He shoves Stiles hip off his desk and says, “Mr. Murphy? He was like 80 years-old when I was in school.”

Stiles throws his head back with a throaty laugh. Derek ignores the way the muscles in his neck stretch with the movement.

“Exactly, Derek, Exactly.” He slaps a hand on Derek’s shoulder as he walks back to the sheriff’s office.

Derek watches him walk away and thinks that it’s such a shame that body like that comes with a mouth like Stiles’.

--

“You know, I’m not convinced that’s hereditary. You’re a werewolf. You’re supposed to have a superior genetic structure.” Stiles whispers to Derek’s back as he follows him through the station. Derek doesn’t even get a chance to respond as Stiles immediately starts up a conversation with Parish. He can feel the flush rising up his neck so he bolts into the evidence locker before anyone can notice.

--

Stiles just happens to be entering the station at the same moment Derek is leading Muriel Finstock out the front door.

“See you on Tuesday, Mrs. Finstock,” Derek holds the door open for her.

“Oh, Derek. You know you can call me, Muriel,” she says as she cups his face with one hand.

Derek chuckles and winks at her, “Alright. See you on Tuesday, Muriel.”

Meanwhile, Stiles stands to the side. When Derek looks at him, he’s almost vibrating with the need to remark. Derek arches an eyebrow at him, “What?”

“Hot date, huh, Derek? That what this whole, Sean Connery look is for? Bringing in a whole new class of ladies?”

“Ha. Ha. Just for that I’m not sharing the cookies she brought me for getting her cat off the telephone pole last week.”

Stiles’ face falls. “You have Mrs. Finstock cookies? With the lemon icing?”

Dereks grin is lethal, “Yup. And. You. Aren’t. Getting. Any,”

“Ah, come on, Derek! You know I was kidding!” Stiles calls at his back as Derek walks away, “I didn’t say the Sean Connery look was a bad thing!”

--
Stiles has been storing up fantastic one-liners about Derek’s beard for two days. It’s only Wednesday and it’s already been one of the longest weeks of his life. He’s so looking forward to making Derek’s twitch uncontrollably that he definitely breaks the speed limit on the way to take his dad lunch. Like he’s been doing. Every day for three weeks. He’s just being a good son.

When he rushes through the front door of the station Derek isn’t at the front desk like he usually is on Wednesdays but Stiles isn’t concerned about it. He breezes into his dad’s office, saying, “Hey Daddy-o- Oh, you’re not my Da- oh. Oh my god. Derek?”

Derek had been standing hands on hips looking at his dad’s murder board, but now he’s facing the desk and Stiles gets a clear view of his face. His whole face. No really, his WHOLE face.

“WHAT DID YOU DO?” Stiles realizes that his voice is probably at an unwelcome decibel level but he can’t be expected to maintain composure when he’s seeing Derek’s bare cheeks for the first time in almost twelve years.

“What?” Derek asks, face carefully neutral. Jesus or maybe not? Stiles can’t even READ him any more. This is a nightmare. He’s going to wake up any minute.

“Your beard, you jackass. What did you do to your beard?”

“What do you think I did, Stiles? I shaved it. You hated it anyway. What’s your problem?”

“That’s not- no- Oh jesus.” Stiles whimpers. He manages to shove his dad’s lunch onto the desk before sinking down into one of the chairs. For good measure, he puts his head between his knees and tries to take a deep breath. It’s not like he can look at Derek right now anyway.

“Stiles?” Derek asks. Stiles can hear him shift on the other side of the room.

“How,” Stiles responds from between his knees, “could you possibly think I hated your beard?”

“You mean besides the endless running commentary? And insults to my gene pool? And the-”

“It’s like you don’t even know me.”

There’s a very long, very uncomfortable pause.

“What?” Derek asks heavily.

“Dude,” Stiles finally brings his head up and stares Derek straight in the eye, “When have I ever in my life said something-”

Stiles is cut off by a loud squawk from the radio board. He can hear Parish’s voice coming in tinny, “We’ve got a 311 on Sanderson. I could use a hand. Anybody there? Over.”

Derek snatches the reciver up and growls a response before storming out the door. Stiles just slumps down in the chair and wonders what the hell is wrong with his life.

--

By the next morning, Stiles has a plan. That plan involves a banana-nut, bran muffin monstrosity that he knows Derek likes, blacker-than-black coffee, far superior to the sludge they have at the station, and a lot of grovelling. Possibly some begging as well. He takes a deep breath, plasters a grin on his face and pushes through the front door. Derek freezes for a moment before turning and walking toward the back.

“Derek! Hey, Derek!” Stiles calls, “Derek, wait up.” He catches him just before he reaches the back office.

“What do you want, Stiles? I have work to do.” Derek crosses his arms and looks down his nose at Stiles.

Stiles holds up the coffee in one hand and a brown paper sack in the other, “Breakfast! I brought you breakfast.”

Derek frowns. “Why?”

“Umm, well, an apology. For making you feel bad. Y’know, about the beard. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’ll uh, mind my own business from now on so just, do whatever you want with...your face…” He trails off and looks at Derek hopefully. Derek just stares back.

“Your beard was really hot, OK?”

The corners of Derek’s mouth twitch upward involuntarily, “You saw me at Home Depot and said I looked, and I quote, ‘like a lumberjack in a gay porn video.’”

“Exactly, Derek! Like in porn,” he hisses, “Hot. Really. Fucking. Hot.”
Derek’s eyes bulge and without the beard Stiles can see the blush that is creeping up his face in all its glory.

Stiles pushes the coffee and muffin into his chest, “Here. Just take these. I’m sorry. Again. Won’t hear another peep out of me.”

He flees through the station right out the front door leaving a shell-shocked Derek staring after him.

Someone clears their throat behind him, snapping him out of his daze. Crap. That’s the sheriff. Who just heard his son tell Derek that he looked like a porn star. Why is this his life?

“Uh, son, we, uh, have a situation at Deaton’s place. You wanna go check it out?”

Derek opens his mouth to apologize but the sheriff put up a hand to stop him, “We’re just gonna pretend I didn’t hear a damn thing, capiche?” Derek can only nod.

--

The mess at Deaton’s turns out to be more of a pain than expected and Derek is occupied almost the rest of his shift trying to get everything sorted out. By the time he makes it back to the station and is packing up his things, he’s had enough time to obsess about what Stiles said that he thinks he’s going to give himself a stroke. So really, it’s not his fault that when he leaves work he ends up in front of Stiles’ apartment door without really knowing how he got there. Derek rolls his eyes at himself but finally caves and knocks on the door.

A few seconds later the door swings open to reveal Stiles wearing a pair of ratty old lacrosse sweats and holding a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The entire picture is so absurd Derek just blurts out,

“I’ll only agree to grow it back if you agree to go to dinner with me.”

“Bu- what? Now?”

“Yes now. One time offer.”

Derek laughs as Stiles hip checks a side table in his scramble to get back to his room and change.

----

That night they’re lying curled up in Derek’s bed. Stiles rests his cheek on Derek’s shoulder, lightly dancing his fingers through Derek’s dense chest hair when he decides to ask,

“So, your wolfy powers can’t make that grow back faster...can they?”

Derek’s only response is to raise an eyebrow before rolling them over and pinning Stiles to the bed. Again.

“What? It’s a totally legitimate questi-”

Derek scrapes his teeth over Stiles’ collarbone making him shudder.

“I’m still hiding all your razors in the morning,” Stiles grumbles as Derek hikes him up into the pillows.