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Steeling himself for a brief moment before entering the store, Derek flexed his hands where they had been clenched by his sides and pushed the door open. The familiar jingle of the bell announced his arrival and he felt his stomach swoop as Stiles glanced up with an automatic smile that slid from his face when he realised it was Derek.

“Deputy Hale,” he sighed, stopping where he was carefully setting up a display of beautifully blushing mangoes and wiping his hands on his apron. “I wish I could be glad to see you when you come by.”

Feeling his eyebrows shoot up, Derek eyed him. “You're not glad I managed to get your things back?”

“They're just things, Deputy.”

“That doesn't make it okay for people to take them without paying,” Derek reminded him firmly. “I need you to take a look at this photo and tell me if you recognise the kid.”

Stiles sighed. “Fine. But while I do that, you can sit down for a moment and try something for me.” He curled one long finger in invitation and moved off the floor to behind the long butcher’s block counter.

“I don't really have time--” Derek began, but sighed and sat on the wide wooden stool in front of the counter when Stiles stared blankly at him.

“I suddenly feel an acute case of prosopagnosia coming on,” he said tartly.

“Face blindness, Stiles? Really?”

“I might have gotten hit on the head recently, you don’t know,” Stiles shot back, removing things from the low fridges beneath the counter and adding them apparently at random to a high-powered blender to one side of the bench.

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” Derek said, or tried to say, but was cut off by the blender starting up.

“Oh, sorry,” Stiles said, turning it off again. “What was that?”

“I said it wouldn’t--” He sighed as Stiles switched the blender back on, this time with an obnoxious grin as he cupped a hand behind his ear and shook his head in blatant faux-apology. Derek just rolled his eyes and waited for Stiles to be done.

“There,” Stiles said eventually, turning off the blender and pouring the vibrant green concoction into a tall glass. He moved around and added a sprig of mint from a white glazed pot on the counter to the top of the slushed drink, as well as a small pinch of shaved coconut, a spoonful of round pink things he recognised from previous drinks as finger lime caviar, and another of round yellow things that looked a bit like lentils. Or maybe rocks.

“Does it have kiwi in it?” Derek asked, eyeing the verdancy of the drink suspiciously.

“No, Deputy Says-he’s-allergic-but-actually-means-averse,” Stiles rolled his eyes as he pushed a reusable steel straw into the glass and slid it across the counter, “there is not one iota of kiwi.” The bell over the door rang again and Stiles slipped around the counter, a smile and a greeting for the new customer coming as easily to him as breathing.

Derek stared at the glass for a moment before sighing and lifting it to his mouth. It was, as Stiles’ concoctions always were, utterly delicious. Bright and zesty flavour burst on his tongue, and he identified lime, lemon, a little orange and the hint of cucumber, as well as an underlying sweetness that kept the drink from being a little too tart.

Spinning a little on his seat as he enjoyed the drink, Derek took a moment to bask in the bright and cheerful store. Between the white display cabinets, maple-topped display tables, off-white walls and abundant greenery in brightly-coloured and mismatched pots all lit by window frontage and a generous skylight, the feel of the place reminded him very strongly of his childhood kitchen, of hours spent making meals for the family at his father’s elbow, his patient voice quietly advising Derek as he learned how not to crack shell into cake batter, and how best to truss a boned lamb shoulder for roasting.

“Penny for ‘em,” Stiles said quietly from behind him, his voice coming so close to Derek’s ear that he startled, badly, sloshing some of his drink over his fingers. “Oh hell,” Stiles laughed, leaning over Derek’s shoulder to grab a napkin and cupping it beneath the glass to catch the drips before they landed on Derek’s uniform. “Sorry, man, I didn’t mean to actually scare you like that.”

“Sure,” Derek grumbled, but the little zing that curled through his belly at the warmth of Stiles’ chest against his back knocked the edge off his reply. “You ready to look at that photo, now?” he asked as Stiles stepped away.

Warm brown eyes regarded him steadily, and Derek was confused by the flash of disappointment that appeared momentarily before he nodded curtly. He folded his deceptively strong forearms over his chest and let his eyes slide away as Derek put his glass down and drew his phone from his pocket. He unlocked it and found the photo he needed, then passed the phone to Stiles.

“Goddammit,” he muttered, a scowl creasing his normally easygoing features into a moue of displeasure.

“You know the kid?” Derek asked.

“Of course I know him,” Stiles replied witheringly, still staring at the grainy surveillance image of the towheaded youth in the process of slipping a jar into his schoolbag. “Don’t be obtuse, Deputy.”

Derek sighed. “I’m just trying to do my job, Stiles. This is the third time this year we’ve caught Lahey stealing. He’s sixteen now, and he’s fast losing leniency.”

Those damnable eyes met his again, intense and unwavering. “You tell that little punk that the next time he comes by this store he’d better show his damn face so I can actually give him the things I put aside for him every week,” Stiles told him firmly, confusing the hell out of Derek.

“I-- what?”

“I won’t be pressing charges, because he didn’t steal anything,” Stiles told Derek as he handed the phone back, their fingertips meeting briefly and making Derek’s stomach flip again as Stiles drew back.

Barking out stunned laugh that sounded unexpectedly harsh in the calm stillness of the store, Derek stared at Stiles. “We got it on tape from the camera out there,” Derek said, pointing to the surveillance pole outside of Stiles’ store.

“Does that camera see far enough into the store to have seen me telling the boy that it was on the house?” Stiles asked, folding his arms again in a stubborn manner that had Derek groaning inwardly. “Because that’s what happened.”

“Stiles,” Derek began, but fell silent as Stiles snatched his glass up and poured what was left of his drink into a paper cup, his movements harsh and jerky. He snapped a lid onto the cup and pulled a small jar from somewhere behind the counter and thumped it heavily onto the counter next to the cup.

“Comfrey, arnica, mullein oil, helichrysum oil,” he said with a sudden anger that seemed incredibly out of character, even if only from what little Derek knew of him. “Maybe before you go trying to arrest a child you do some investigating and discover why it is, exactly, a sixteen year old boy would be needing a strong salve to speed up the healing of visible bruises.”

Staring at Stiles, enormously discomfited by the way his lips had thinned with his anger and his pulse was visibly hammering in the delicate skin of his throat, Derek had to mentally shake himself to get to his feet. “I… will do that,” he said gently, trying to allay some of Stiles’ sudden anger.

Apparently realising how forcefully he had spoken, Stiles’ shoulders fell a little and the tense crease between his eyebrows smoothed away. “Thank you,” he said, then tilted his chin in the direction of Derek’s cup. “The yellow stuff on top is bee pollen, in case you were wondering,” he said with a quirk of his lips like he knew what Derek had been thinking. “Has lots of health benefits, including for the immune system. And the carbs, protein and B vitamins in it are pretty good for energy and stamina, too.”

Glancing down at the cup and then back up at Stiles, Derek felt his eyebrows begin to climb, which made Stiles’ cheeks pinken attractively.

“In case you’ve been feeling a little flat lately,” he clarified, his fingers clenching on the edge of the counter as Derek just watched him silently. “Okay, go away now, please,” he said somewhat desperately, and spun on his heel and ducked out to the back room and out of sight.

“Thank you for the drink,” Derek called as he left, a beaming smile threatening to break out across his face. It wasn’t often that he managed to throw Stiles off balance the same way he always managed to do to Derek, so he took his wins where he could get them. Before he left the shop he paused, hand on the door. “Hey, Stiles?” he called back.

There was a moment of profound silence. Then, “Yeah?”

“You said you wished you could be glad to see me when I came here,” Derek said, then waited. When there was no reply he took a breath and spoke again. “What would that take?”

Another pause. “Sunshine. Puppies. Chocolate.”

The smile finally clawed its way free as he let himself out of the shop, and Derek carried it all the way back to the station, the tinkling of a little brass bell ringing in his ears.

 

*

 

“Hey, Gamma,” Derek called out as he let himself into his grandmother’s house after work a few days later.

“Back here,” Gamma called back, as though there were anywhere else she would be but in the garden.

Derek placed the bags he had brought with him on the battered table and shrugged out of his uniform jacket to roll up his sleeves and step out onto the back porch, the late afternoon sunlight filling the lush garden and wreathing his grandmother’s white hair with gold.

“Did you save the world again today, love?” his grandmother asked, her grey eyes fond as she turned her cheek up for Derek to kiss.

Only three inches shorter than her grandson, Iris Hale was one of the most vibrant, vigorous women Derek had ever known, and that included his mother and sisters. “Sure did,” Derek told her. “Wore my cape and everything.”

“As if you need a cape to be incredible,” Iris smiled, “Just wear your underwear beneath your clothes. Now why don’t you get started with the garlic, my sweet,” she directed, “and tell me what’s on your mind.”

“Why does there have to be anything on my mind?” Derek asked, doing as he was instructed and preparing to weed the thigh-high garlic bed.

“Only because I know you,” Iris smiled.

They worked together in companionable silence for a while, cicadas and frogs from the nearby pond serenading them as they worked.

“There’s a guy, Gamma,” he said eventually. His grandmother hummed in acknowledgement of his words as she kept working, tying her wayward cherry tomato bushes into some semblance of order against their stakes.

Derek felt the same dopey smile from earlier in the week curl his mouth up at the corners. “He’s funny. And sweet. A bit of an asshole. And sneaky too, sometimes. And he’s so smart, Gamma, and he cares so much about so many things, and all the people he meets. He sees the good in people, no matter what.”

“He sounds wonderful.”

“He is,” Derek sighed happily, lapsing back into silence, tugging at more weeds.

“Does he like you, too?” Iris asked after a while.

Derek frowned. “I’m not sure,” he said slowly, thinking of Stiles and the way he always had a drink ready for Derek, no matter when he showed up, and always made sure to never add kiwi. He thought of the way Stiles never hesitated to touch him or get in his personal space, and the way he always met Derek’s eyes directly and never hesitated to argue with him. “I think he does,” Derek continued, remembering the way Stiles had flushed so attractively that afternoon, “but I want to…”

“...make your intentions known?” Gamma asked shrewdly when Derek faltered.

Derek sighed. “Yeah.”

“Got any ideas?”

Frowning at the curl grub he unearthed and tossing it to one of the vireos that were chattering on the back fence, Derek smiled and wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. “I think I might,” he said, and he and his grandmother shared a grin.

 

*

 

The next time Derek visited Stiles’ store it was on a day off. Hefting the gift he held more securely in the crook of his elbow he pushed open the shop door, frowning when Stiles was nowhere to be seen.

“I’ll be right with you,” he called from the back room, which suited Derek just fine. He wandered over to a display case with pretty glass jars arranged on it, reading over the various products there. “Alright, how can I hel-- Deputy Hale?” Stiles said, pulling up short and staring at Derek with an expression bordering on glazed.

Derek felt a bit the same, if he were being honest with himself. Dressed in a pair of wine-coloured chinos, a plain white tee and a dark grey and white plaid shirt rolled to the elbows, Stiles looked delicious. “I… hey,” Derek said awkwardly, realising he had just been staring for a beat too long.

“Hey,” Stiles replied, his mouth twitching up at one corner.

Clearing his throat as Stiles came around to lean back against the counter and watch him, Derek looked away from the mile-long legs and flat belly so temptingly displayed by Stiles’ relaxed pose and held the pail filled with a happily-blooming sunflower plant out to Stiles. “My grandmother has always said that sunflowers are sunshine on a stem,” he said as Stiles took the gift reflexively. “So it’s not sunshine, but I thought it might be close enough.”

Stiles looked startled for a moment, then realisation dawned and he stilled, his usually-expressive face momentarily frozen. Derek felt his stomach begin to sink, convinced that he had read more into the situation than was actually there.

“Wait- these are for me?” Stiles asked, confused.

“Uh, yeah,” Derek said, attempting for casual, but missing by a mile.

“You brought me flowers,” Stiles said, staring at the sunflowers, the pail held carefully between his broad hands. “You… you brought me sunshine.”

Derek took half a step backwards, feeling ten kinds of foolish, until he was halted by Stiles’ hand on his arm, suddenly close and radiating heat.

“Derek,” Stiles began, “this is--”

His words were cut off by someone stepping out from the back and interrupting them, and it was only the way the figure pulled to a jerking halt that made Derek tear his eyes from Stiles’ and glance up, only to make an incredulous double take when he saw Isaac Lahey standing behind the counter in a dark green apron and looking like he was about to bolt back the way he’d come.

Stiles’ hand tightened warningly around his forearm and Derek snapped his mouth shut on the words that were threatening to spill out.

“Deputy Hale, I believe you know my new employee, Isaac?”

His eyes narrowing in suspicion, Derek found it hard to be too irritated when Stiles had shifted even closer into his space and the deep cedar notes notes of his cologne teased his nose. The kid looked suitably cowed, though, so even though Derek was going to have words with Stiles later about the disregard he clearly had for his own stock remaining on the shelves, for the moment he let it go. “I definitely do,” he said sternly, rocking back on his feet when Stiles gave him a gentle nudge.

“You stop that,” he said chidingly. “Besides, I want to talk some more about the fact that you brought me flowers.”

Looking back at Stiles and feeling something warm coil in his belly at the affection in those beautiful honeyed brown eyes, Derek just knew there was a flush creeping across his cheeks. “I guess I just wanted to not be the bearer of bad news today,” he confessed, noting that Isaac had disappeared.

“Did you paint this pail yourself?” Stiles asked curiously, glancing down at it where he had it clutched against his chest.

“Oh god no,” Derek snorted inelegantly, “I can’t paint worth a damn. I asked my grandmother to do it for me.”

Stiles lifted the bucket up and rotated it, admiring the brightly rendered sunflowers painted around the lip of the pail and the elegant script around the bottom that said ‘sunflowers are sunshine on a stem’. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the door swinging open and a group of mothers with expensive-looking prams entered the store, all of them staring appraisingly at the tableau before them.

“I should go,” Derek said softly, smiling a little at the expression on Stiles’ face that clearly meant he disagreed. “It was nice to see you today, Stiles.”

“The pleasure was absolutely mine,” Stiles said intently, and Derek knew for certain that he wasn’t imagining the heat in those words.

Cursing the fact that he blushed so obviously in spite of his skin tone, Derek let his eyes drop briefly to Stiles’ mouth before meeting his eyes again, and was pleased to see an answering flush on Stiles’ own cheeks. “I’ll see you soon?”

It was barely a question, but the smile Stiles wore and the assertive nod he replied with were all the answer Derek needed.

 

*

 

“Maybe I should take those pups for a walk?” Derek suggested with a wry grin as the sheriff sighed and tried to shift his feet away from where the two wolfhound puppies were chewing on his boots beneath his desk.

“Mind if I join you?” Stilinski asked. “I’ve been stuck in the station all morning and I could do with stretching my legs.”

Shaking his head, Derek pulled two leads from his coat pocket and crouched down to call the puppies over so he could clip them on. “I was thinking of going past a friend’s workplace and letting him have a pat, if that’s okay?” he asked, glad when the sheriff agreed.

They left the station together and Derek led the puppies, keeping them close by his legs and making sure they stopped at the roads like Magnus Henrikson had instructed when Derek had promised to look after Fenrir and Amarok. “Any word on Mr Henrikson?” he asked.

“Stephenson called in about an hour ago and said he was out of surgery and doing okay, so now we wait and see,” Stilinski told him as they walked. “I think he’ll be okay, though; the guy’s been around for as long as I’ve lived here and he’s gotten in more than his share of scraps. He used to be a boxing coach back before Josie’s was built on the site.”

“I can see that,” Derek said easily. Magnus had the broad shoulders and straight spine of a man forty years his junior, as well as the cauliflower ears indicative of the sport. He had been t-boned at an intersection that morning and rushed off for a splenectomy from the scene, but not before he’d made Derek promise that someone would look after his pups, safe in their tethered transport crate in the back of the pickup. The two wiry-haired bundles had been spoiled rotten in the station, but Derek recognised that if they didn’t get out soon, they were going to become destructive.

“So, this friend of yours,” the sheriff began, his tone light to let Derek know that his secrets were his to keep if he so wished, “known him long?”

Derek smiled a little. “It turns out that I graduated before he began at Beacon Hills High, so our paths never really crossed. Then, when I came back to town, I took a witness statement from him after a B and E in a store just down from his.” When the sheriff looked somewhat conflicted, Derek grinned. “He didn’t know anything, and it was about six weeks after that before I ran into him again.”

Seemingly placated, Stilinski settled his shades firmly over the bridge of his nose. “And is there anything else going on with this friend of yours?”

The subtle emphasis on friend made the sheriff’s question clear, and for a moment Derek considered deflecting the question. But he liked the sheriff; they had formed a sort of friendship since Derek had come to work for him six months previously, and he was hoping that whatever it was between himself and Stiles was on the verge of becoming something more, so he answered honestly. “No, not really.”

“But you want there to be?”

“I really do, yeah,” Derek admitted, glad he had left his jacket at the station as the sun heated him almost past the point of comfortable while they walked.

“Well that’s great to hear, son,” Stilinski said warmly, clapping his hand briefly to Derek’s shoulder. “It makes me worry, you living all alone in that big old house of yours.”

“It’s hardly that big,” Derek said with a chuckle, the sheriff’s concern settling over him comfortably. “And I talk to Mom and Dad all the time.”

“Still, though,” the sheriff frowned, “it’s a family home, and I know half the town has been plotting to arrange a family for you, so keep an eye out for that.”

“Maybe one day,” Derek smiled again, picturing a flock of kids with familiar mischievous tawny eyes tearing through the halls of his childhood home. “I hope one day,” he corrected. “With the right person.”

They turned the corner onto the street Stiles’ store was on and Derek allowed himself a moment to imagine the expression on Stiles’ face when he saw the puppies Derek was bringing to him for a cuddle. “It’s just up here on the left,” he told the sheriff, looking forward and missing the wryly amused expression the older man wore.

They crossed the road and the sheriff told Derek he had to make a call and would just be a moment, halting a few doors down and pulling his phone from his pocket. Derek nodded and went on without him, murmuring to the puppies that they needed to be on their best behaviour, because if they embarrassed him in front of his friend they would be locked in a cell instead of coming home with him for the night.

He pushed the door open and managed to get the puppies inside without incident, right up until Amarok let out a sharp bark and yanked the lead from Derek’s hand, scrabbling across the polished floorboards to where Stiles was balanced precariously on a chair and cleaning the top of a display cabinet.

“Oh shit,” Derek swore, bolting after him to try and head off the inevitable OH&S incident about to occur.

To his surprise, Stiles just stepped down from the chair and into the protective circle of Derek’s arms, neatly avoiding the puppy bouncing at his feet as he did so. “Hello there, handsome,” he said, a beaming smile creasing his eyes at the corners in a way that Derek found mind-meltingly attractive. He rested one hand on Derek’s hip, the other holding a microfibre cloth and a spray bottle of something eucalyptus-scented.

“I hope those puppies are for me, because I’m never giving them back.” He shifted a step back and crouched down, allowing the pups to crowd him. “I’ve been trying to steal these little guys from Mr Henrikson for a month now, but he has this remarkable ability to always catch me in the act.”

Derek’s eyebrows shot up. “You know him?”

“Sure do,” Stiles laughed as Amarok licked him beneath the chin. “He’s my next-door neighbour.” He scritched both puppies behind the ears and frowned up at Derek, tilting his head slightly to one side. “How do you know him? And why do you have his dogs?”

“Oh, Stiles I’m sorry- Mr Henrikson was in a car accident this morning. He’s okay,” he said in a rush, forestalling the panicked expression that flashed across Stiles’ face, “but the doctors had to perform a splenectomy. He’s out of surgery and doing okay, last we heard.”

Stiles stood. “Thank god for that. I’ll go and see him after work.” He looked worried, his brow furrowed as he absently worried a tooth against his bottom lip until Derek reached up and gently smoothed it free with his thumb.

“You can let him know that I’m taking the pups home tonight to look after them,” he murmured quietly, staring at the difference in skin tones where his tanned hand rested against the smooth, fair skin of Stiles’ jaw. “Hopefully that will reassure him.”

He found himself unable to look away or remove his hand, but the way Stiles’ eyes had widened and his breathing had sped up seemed to hint that he wasn’t displeased with the contact.

“Yeah, reassure,” Stiles breathed out absently, making Derek smile.

“Maybe you can come by and--”

The bell over the door rang and Stiles jerked backwards, the absence of warmth beneath his suddenly-empty palm making Derek sigh with the loss.

“Dad?” Stiles said suddenly, and Derek was dragged abruptly back to the present, his head whipping around, startled, to find Stiles crossing the shop floor to hug the sheriff. “What brings you here?”

“Well, Deputy Hale here mentioned that he wanted to see a very good friend of his for cuddles- for the puppies, of course,” the sheriff said with an unrepentant smirk that had mortification rushing through Derek in alternate waves of hot and cold, “and I tagged along for the walk.”

“Is that right?” Stiles asked, stepping away from his father, apparently, and fixing his sights on Derek. “Cuddles?”

“For...for the puppies,” Derek finished weakly.

“Well, I’m always available for cuddles,” Stiles said, his smile softening to something a little vulnerable, a little unsure. “For the puppies, you know?”

Despite being acutely aware of the fact that Stiles’ father -- and Derek’s boss -- was watching the awkward-as-hell exchange, Derek couldn’t leave that vulnerability unaddressed. “I’ll remember that,” he said sincerely, voice pitched low, and was rewarded with a glowing smile.

“Want to swing by after work, kiddo?” she sheriff asked eventually. “I’ll take you in to see Magnus and then drop you home when we’re done?”

“Sounds great,” Stiles agreed.

“Uh, I might head back,” Derek said, not quite meeting the sheriff’s eyes. “Finish up the reports from this morning.”

“Excellent work, Deputy,” the sheriff grinned. “I’ll see you back there later.”

It was a promise, and Derek knew it. He nodded once, cast a brief glance at Stiles who was watching him with eyes filled with a promise of his own, then called the puppies to him and left without another word.

He spent the walk back with his mind whirling. In less than an hour he had managed to not only let his boss know that he was interested in someone, but that that someone was his son, and that maybe he was a touch more than just ‘interested’.

Feeling like a prize idiot, Derek groaned aloud and tried to figure out whether or not it was worth shooting himself somewhere non-vital in order to get out of work early enough to avoid the sheriff upon his return. Then he realised an unauthorised discharge of his firearm would lead to direct questioning by his superior officer, which was exactly the situation he was trying to avoid.

He sighed and decided to just wait it out, figuring that an uncomfortable talk with the sheriff was probably marginally less painful than shooting himself in the foot.

Probably.

 

*

 

It was a miracle, Derek decided as he tied the puppies to the porch railing and opened the door of his grandmother’s house that same evening, hanging his coat on a hook by the door. He had somehow managed to avoid the sheriff the rest of his shift and escaped without having to talk with him about that afternoon’s situation, and Derek had never had that kind of luck in his life.

“Gamma?” he called, sticking his head in the kitchen on his way through the house.

“I’ll be down in a minute, love,” Iris called back, and Derek settled in the living room to wait, pulling a book from the built-in shelving that ran the length of one wall and dropping down into an overstuffed wingback to read.

When his grandmother finally appeared, she had a drill in one hand and a handful of screws in the other. “How did it go with your young man today?” she asked eagerly, setting everything into the red toolbox on the coffee table.

“He loved the pups,” Derek said, remembering the way Stiles had felt pressed close to him, the soft fulness of his lip beneath Derek’s own thumb, “and I met his father, so that was… unexpected.”

Iris laughed. “Is that what your message was about this afternoon?”

Saw Stiles, Derek had texted his grandmother, ...and met his father. In horrifyingly related news, I may now be out of a job. Tell you about it tonight over dinner? “Yeah,” he sighed, then scrubbed a hand over his face. “Are you almost ready to go?”

“I surely am,” Iris smiled, caressing the side of Derek’s face as she passed him on the way through to the kitchen to collect her handbag. She met Derek in the hall and let him help her into her coat, locking the door securely behind them as they left the house. “Oh my, look at these two darlings,” she cooed when she saw the puppies lying at the bottom of the steps. Fenrir and Amarok, sensing susceptible prey, bounded up the steps to Iris, attempting to jump up at her for pats. “Ah-ah,” she chided them, leaning down to push their butts to the floor, “sit-- sit-- and wait nicely.”

Their little whiskered faces confused, Fenrir and Amarok did as they were told, tails thumping restlessly on the boards as they waited to see what would happen next. When Iris knelt down to pat them, their joy became too much and they wiggled right up against her, snuffling, nuzzling and licking any part of her that they could get their tongues on, making Derek laugh.

“Come on,” he called, taking Iris’ bag from her and slinging it over his own shoulder as he helped her up and handed her Fenris’ lead. “I was thinking we could grab some sandwiches from TJ’s Deli and take these guys for a walk around the lake, let them run some of their energy off?”

“Sounds wonderful, love.”

The walk from Iris’ place into town was less than a mile, and it took next to no time before they were securing the puppies to the lamp post outside the deli, drawn inside by the aromatic scents of meat, cheese and yeasty bread. They each ordered a #48 , pastrami, emmental and sauerkraut on grilled pumpernickel bread, half a dozen baked pastrami knishes and a ginger ale each, and when the eponymous TJ saw Amarok and Fenrir outside, she included a brisket bone for each of them, wrapped in waxed paper.

When their order was ready they crossed the plaza and made their way down to the small lake that bordered one side of the downtown area, heading for the off-leash area so the puppies could run and play. They had just found a picnic table to sit at when Derek heard someone call his name, and felt his cheeks warm when he saw Stiles, a wide smile on his face and his hand raised in greeting.

“Would you like me to take the little ones for a wander?” Iris offered, beaming up at Derek when he just shook his head and took her arm to link it through his.

“Derek, hey,” Stiles said as he jogged up to them, still dressed in the same outfit he’d had on at work, and still looking just as good in it. “Hello,” he added, smiling at Iris and extending his hand. “I’m Stiles. You must be Iris.”

“Oh, must I?” she teased, taking his hand.

“Derek talks about you all the time,” Stiles told her, his eyes flicking to Derek and then back again. “And you have the same eyes.”

“Well aren’t you just delightful,” Iris grinned. “Why don’t you come and join us for dinner; we’ve just arrived.”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to intrude,” Stiles said, casting another glance at Derek as his own cheeks began to turn pink, “and my dad has just gone to get dinner for us, so--”

“Nonsense, the more the merrier,” Iris told him, abandoning Derek to link arms with Stiles instead. “Come, sit. Your father is welcome to join us when he arrives; I hear you’re Sheriff Stilinski’s boy?”

A proud smile graced Stiles’ face as he waited for Iris to sit before taking his own seat beside her, Derek across from him as he began to lay out their food, ignoring the pleading noises Amarok and Fenris were making. “Yeah, that’s my dad. He’s got the night off, so we went to see Mr Henrikson at the hospital before coming here. He said to say thank you, by the way,” he said, addressing Derek for the first time. “For keeping the puppies until he gets out of hospital.”

The glowing approval in Stiles’ eyes was all the reward Derek needed, but he just shrugged a little and passed his grandmother her opened drink and set her meal in front of her. “It’s only for a couple of nights, and they’re no trouble, really.” He handed Stiles half of his sandwich, insisting when he tried to refuse, and broke off small pieces of crust from his own to toss to the pups. “They might be when they go home, though,” he said wryly. “Pretty sure they’re going to be so spoiled they’ll be ruined.”

“I doubt that,” Stiles told him. “Mr H gives them a warm bath every single night, and spends an hour brushing them on the front porch while they accept offerings from the neighbourhood kids in exchange for pats.”

“It’s a tough life for some, I suppose,” Derek laughed, not missing the appreciative gleam in Stiles’ eyes as he watched, or the way he slid one of his feet in between Derek’s, hesitating for a moment before leaving it there.

“So, Stiles,” Iris said eventually, “Derek tells me you have a shop?”

“I do, yes. I make skincare products out of the ingredients I grow and I sell them.” He paused, narrowed a sly glance at Derek before turning to Iris. “What else does Derek tell you about me?”

Derek’s slight blush flamed into outright panic as he thought back over all the things he had told his grandmother over the last several months, but he needn’t have worried. “Nothing you need be concerned about, I can assure you of that much,” Iris said serenely, and Derek made a mental note to buy her something obscenely expensive for her birthday. He caught the speculative look Stiles was casting between them and made another mental note not to leave them alone in a room together. Ever.

The sun was almost at the treeline, burnishing the world in the most glorious golden light when Stiles looked at Derek, mouth opening to speak before he seemed to lose track of his own thoughts, drawn in by the open admiration on Derek’s face. In his peripheral vision he could see his grandmother smiling at the both of them, but he was focussed entirely on Stiles, and the way his eyes seemed to glow from within.

“Stiles, after this, would you like--”

“Hale, good to see you,” Sheriff Stilinski said suddenly, dropping a heavy hand onto Derek’s shoulder and making him startle badly.

“Good evening, Sir,” Derek replied, his own feelings echoing the disappointment on Stiles’ face.

“And Mrs Hale, good to see you again, too; we missed you at the last town meeting.”

“I was sorry to miss it,” Iris replied with a pleased smile. “I was visiting Derek’s parents in San Francisco.”

“Well,” the sheriff said wryly as he took a seat beside Derek and reached down to briefly pet the puppies, “I can tell you that Mary Epstein certainly made the most of your absence.”

“I’ll just bet she did,” Iris said primly, lips thinning a little. The rivalry between the two women was something of a legend in Beacon Hills, though the cause of it depended on who you asked about it and on which day of the week you asked them.

“I see we had the same idea for dinner,” John continued, placing his own bag from TJ’s on the table as he eyeballed Stiles. “Isn’t that a coincidence?”

“It is, actually,” Stiles scowled.

“I thought it would be a good idea to bring Amarok and Fenris down for a run before I took them home, and hopefully keep my boots alive for another day.”

Staring ruefully down at his own chewed shoelaces, John sighed. “I’d say that was a smart plan.”

“I knew you’d fold like a cheap suit, you hypocrite,” Stiles smirked as he raided his dad’s bag for his food. “ ‘Oh no, we can’t have a dog, I don’t even like dogs, son, and it’ll just chew on everything anyway.’ Yeah, okay.”

“If that was meant to be an imitation of me, you need to seriously work on your mimicry,” John told him haughtily as he opened a container of potato salad.

“Seriously, Dad?” Stiles huffed. “I said a salad.”

“It is a salad,” John told him smugly. “See? Says right here on the label. Potato salad.”

“I’ll be sure to have that engraved on your tombstone when you die of clogged arteries,” Stiles snorted, handing Derek half of his own sandwich, a #1 made with corned beef on rye, and nudging his bag of deli-pickle potato chips towards him to share.

“Eh, they’ve got bypasses for that these days,” John said dismissively as he began to eat.

“Unbelievable,” Stiles muttered, but the argument had the ring of the oft-repeated and his expression was fond.

Dinner was a comfortable event, and the longer it went on without John mentioning that afternoon’s revelation, the more Derek relaxed. They were approached by several people as they ate, townsfolk just stopping by to say hello, but it wasn’t until most of the food was gone and Iris and John were drawn into a lengthy conversation with Councilwoman De León that Derek and Stiles got their chance.

“Want to go throw some sticks for the little guys?” Stiles suggested once they were done eating and had packed their trash into one of the deli bags.

“Yes,” Derek said with sudden enthusiasm, enough that it made Stiles laugh. Derek just untangled the leads and kissed his grandmother’s cheek as they left, getting a fond smile and squeeze to his hand in return.

They led the pups down to the water’s edge and walked a while, shoulders and hands brushing occasionally in a way that sent heat pooling in Derek’s belly. They laughed at Amarok and Fenris fighting over a stick that was far too big for either of them to handle, then leaned against a concrete garden wall as the pups found some kids happy to play fetch with them, and wrestle around on the grass.

“You grandmother is wonderful,” Stiles said a touch wistfully, the sky behind him turning deeper purple by the minute.

“She is,” Derek agreed. “She likes you.”

“Yeah?” Stiles asked hopefully, like it really mattered to him what Derek’s family thought.

“Yeah,” Derek confirmed, then shifted so his body was turned towards Stiles’. “Listen, I’ve been trying to ask you--”

Stiles’ phone ringing cut him off, and all he could do was laugh in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding,” he muttered, pulling the offensive tech from his pocket and going to end the call when he saw who it was and frowned. “Sorry, just give me a sec,” he murmured to Derek, swiping to answer and lifting the phone to his ear. “Hey, what’s--” He broke off, his entire body going on alert. Derek heard what sounded like a shout from the end of the line before it cut off and Stiles’ hand shot out out to grab his wrist tightly. “Please hold that thought,” he begged. “I’ve gotta go, Derek, I’m so sorry.”

And as good as his word, in the next moment he was gone, running back up the beach towards the sheriff. Catching Amarok’s lead as he went to give chase, Derek just watched him go for a moment before calling for Fenris. “Come on, guys,” he said quietly, “we’ve just got to be patient.”

 

*

 

The first thing that happened the next morning at work was the sheriff apologising to Derek for interrupting Derek’s impromptu date with his son as Derek made them both terrible coffee .

“I--” Derek trailed off. “I really don’t know what to say to that, Sir.”

John smiled tiredly as though he completely understood. “As much fun as it would be to bust your chops about this, kid, hearing you talk about Stiles yesterday and then seeing the way he was looking at you last night? Well, I trust you and I don’t think we need to have the shovel talk, so we’ll leave it at that.”

Barely able to believe how lucky he was getting in avoiding the parental confrontation, Derek nodded smartly. “Thank you, Sir, I appreciate that.”

John’s laugh was full and pleased. “I’ll just bet you do. Listen, when you go and see him later, take it easy on him, okay? He had a late night dealing with the Lahey kid.”

“Isaac?” Derek asked, handing John his mug. “Is that why you guys left in a hurry last night?”

John sighed. “Isaac called Stiles and sounded like he was in trouble. When we got to his house we found the poor bastard locked in a freezer in the basement-- apparently his father’s been beating the ever-loving snot out of him for half his life. So Stiles took Isaac home and got him sorted out.”

Derek felt sick to the stomach. “Oh god,” he said, “that’s what he meant.”

“What who meant?” John asked curiously.

“Stiles,” Derek frowned. “He tried to tell me once… well, it doesn’t matter now, but I owe him a huge apology.”

“The chocolateria attached to the Millford dairy sells Aztec chocolate truffles,” John mused idly as he left the break room. “I hear they’re good for apologies, if you were in need of inspiration.”

 

*

 

By the time Derek got off work, after a frantic lunch hour spent travelling out to the dairy and back again, Stiles’ store was closed. Derek sat out the front in the car, sighed heavily, and wondered whether or not it was worth the embarrassment of asking the sheriff for his son’s number when someone tapped on the window beside his head. Jerking around in surprise, he was unprepared for the sight of Isaac Lahey staring at him, left eye purple and swollen and top lip split and with an expression riddled with anxiety.

“He’s still inside,” he said, voice muffled through the closed window. “Front door’s unlocked. Just make sure you lock it again after yourself.” With that, he shoved his hands deep in a hoodie that was too big for him and he set off down the street.

Derek watched him go until he turned the corner, then pulled the glossy black box from the passenger seat and let himself into the store, bell ringing softly, and locking up after himself as instructed. The lights in the front of the store were off except for a lamp on the counter, but the light from the back room glowed brightly through the open doorway. Classic rock played quietly from out there as well, and Derek could hear the sounds of someone moving around the space.

“Isaac?” Stiles called over the music. “Did you forget something? I gave you my key, didn’t-- Derek? Hi.”

Derek smiled a greeting as Stiles paused in the doorway, haloed by light, drying his hands on a white cloth. “Hi.”

“Did Isaac let you in?”

“Yeah,” Derek nodded, “I saw him as he was leaving. Actually,” he added, “he’s the reason I’m here.” He moved further into the store and held the box out to Stiles. “I wanted to apologise for not listening to you about Isaac. You were right, and I should have trusted you.”

Draping the towel over his shoulder and taking the box, Stiles smiled when he saw the stylised M on the top of it and opened it, eyes crinkling at the corners and a pleased smile curling his mouth. “These are my favourite.”

“I know,” Derek confessed, “your dad told me.”

“Did you get these today?” Stiles asked, smile widening as he came around the counter and boosted himself up onto it, light casting shadow across half of his face. He took one of the outrageously expensive truffles from the box and bit into it, the bitterness of the dark chocolate exploding across his tongue, followed momentarily by tequila and lime, and eventually the slow-smouldering heat of chilli.

“Yeah,” Derek managed, barely able to choke out the word in the face of the almost-pornographic moan he’d ever heard.

Sensing his discomfort, Stiles chewed slowly, eyes glittering darkly in the low light. “That’s everything,” he said eventually.

“Everything what?” Derek asked distractedly.

“Everything on the list,” Stiles explained, lifting his empty hand and counting off on his fingers. “Sunshine. Puppies. Chocolate.” He leaned forward as far as he could and hooked a finger in the buttoned front of Derek’s shirt, drawing him closer. “Guess I’m officially glad to see you now, Deputy Hale.”

The raw want in those words made Derek’s own desire flare, thrilling up and down his spine as he found himself bracketed between Stiles’ knees, ankles crossing behind his thighs. “Good,” he said hoarsely.

“You want a taste?” Stiles asked, holding up the other half of his truffle, smirking when Derek nodded, entranced. Stiles grinned and pressed it slowly into his own mouth then waited, eyebrows raised expectantly.

That was absolutely more than Derek could take and he surged forward, sliding his hands up the sides of Stiles’ throat to cradle his face and hold it in place to kiss him, the flavours of chocolate and zest bright on his tastebuds. It was messy, and a bit gross, truth be told, kissing someone with a mouthful of chocolate, but it was the most incredible first kiss Derek had ever had, and he never wanted it to stop.

Neither did Stiles, he guessed, if the way he dug his heels into Derek’s ass to pull him closer to grind against was any indication. He wound strong arms around Derek’s shoulders, hands roaming restlessly and tugging at his shirt to untuck it and get at skin, a deep groan rumbling in his chest. “Come home with me,” he murmured as he broke away, panting softly, chocolate smeared across the corner of his mouth.

“I can’t,” Derek told him, kissing that chocolate away, tongue flicking out to taste skin. “Hey, no, don’t,” he added hurriedly when Stiles tensed and began to withdraw, pressing their foreheads together. “I have the puppies, remember? I can’t leave them overnight, that’s all. I want to; god, Stiles, you have no idea how much I want to.”

“I think I kind of do,” Stiles smirked, melting back against Derek as he nuzzled against the underside of his jaw, one crafty hand sneaking down to stroke curious fingers over the bulge in Derek’s uniform trousers.

“Stiles,” Derek groaned, grabbing his wrist and holding it firmly against himself for a long, tense moment before lifting it away to kiss the inside of it. “I can wait,” he said, kissing Stiles gently as he smoothed the hair back from Stiles’ temple. “You’re worth the wait.”

The look on Stiles’ face made Derek’s restraint feel like an act of heroism. “We are going to be worth it,” he returned fiercely, and swept Derek up in another kiss that threatened to overwhelm him.

When they finally parted, Derek stepping back as Stiles reluctantly let him go, it was to share small smiles and glances filled with lust and desire. They got themselves sorted, Derek tucking the tail of his shirt back in and Stiles sliding off the counter to land on shaky legs, and they walked together to the door.

“Hey, so,” Stiles said as he reached past Derek to unlock the door, “it’s probably a bit late in the game, but do you think maybe I could have your number?”

Derek stared blankly at him for a moment before chuckling, the sound soft and well-fitted to the space. “I think we can do that, yeah.” He stepped into Stiles’ space and slowly slid one hand around his hip to his back pocket, pulling the phone there out and swiping to unlock the screen. He programmed his number in and returned it to Stiles’ pocket, leaning in to kiss him again while he had the chance.

“I’ll text you later, okay?” Stiles promised, tilting his head to allow Derek’s lips better access.

“Mhmm,” Derek murmured, inhaling deeply of the fragrant skin he had access to.

“Oh god, you have to go,” Stiles told him with a shaky laugh. “Go, before I fuck you right here up against my windows for the entire town to see.”

“Jesus, Stiles,” Derek choked out on a startled laugh.

“Go,” Stiles ordered with a laugh of his own. “Go, so I can watch your fine ass walk away.”

“You’re killing me,” Derek sighed as he walked out the door.

“But what a way to go,” Stiles sighed happily, leaning in the doorway. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“Yeah, okay.” Derek stopped, spun on his heel and strode back to kiss Stiles one more time before he left for good, the sight of Stiles watching him go in his rearview mirror.

 

*

 

“Hello?” Derek answered the unknown number a couple of hours later.

“Is this the ridiculously sexy, incredibly delicious deputy I had my hands all over earlier this evening?”

Smiling at Stiles’ voice in his ear, lazy and a little sleepy-sounding, Derek settled back in bed, placing his book page-down across his thighs. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. “How many deputies have you seduced today?”

“Oh, all of them, I should expect,” Stiles replied, sounding like he was settling in, too. “But there’s only one I can still taste on my lips.”

“Wow,” Derek said, his stomach flipping. “You don’t pull your punches, do you?”

“I think we’ve waited long enough, don’t you?”

Derek smiled again. “I agree. How’s Isaac settling in? He’s not giving you any trouble?”

“He’s a good kid, Derek. He’s been dealt a spectacularly shit hand in life, and he’s a bit of an asshole, but so am I, and I turned out alright.” Derek just waited, smirking, and laughed outright when Stiles complained. “Hey, I can hear you very obviously not saying anything, you know.”

“That could just be the sound of your conscience, though,” Derek pointed out.

“Why do I even like you, I wonder?”

“My boyish charm, I bet.”

“Trust me when I say with full authority that there’s nothing boyish about you, Deputy.”

“Full authority, huh?”

“Let’s just say I had a close encounter of the intimate kind,” Stiles laughed. “So. What are you wearing?”

Huffing a laugh of his own, Derek glanced down and shrugged a little. “Pyjama pants.”

“Ooh, sexy. The silky Hugh Hefner kind?”

“Pink flannel with rainbows on them.”

There was absolute silence from Stiles’ end before uproarious laughter came down the line. “You’re lying.”

“I am not,” Derek retorted. “They were a present from my sister. She thinks she’s funny.”

“She’s hilarious… if it’s even true. I demand photographic evidence.”

“Oh you do, huh?” Derek shifted. “Alright, hold on a sec.” Shifting so he was more reclined, crossing his legs at the ankles and holding the phone over his head, he snapped a photo, checking to see that there was a full shot of his pants before sending it off. “Prepare to be consumed by jealousy,” he warned.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Stiles replied. “I can’t wait to--”

Derek waited a beat, but there was no sound from Stiles’ end. “Stiles? You still there?”

“Are you trying to kill me, Derek?” Stiles protested breathlessly. “Fuck me, I didn’t even know than many abs was an anatomical possibility. And how did I not know you had that much hair?” Glancing down at his own bare, furred chest, Derek felt self-consciousness stirring through him. “You’ve been holding out on me, Derek.”

Those last words were practically purred, and Derek’s reticence dissipated. “I’m going to check in with Mr Henrickson tomorrow, find out how much longer he’ll be in hospital. As soon as he’s good to go home, you can check it out for yourself. If you want.”

“Oh, I want,” Stiles swore. “Do you even know what you’re doing to me? Send me more photos like that, Derek, please. Please, help me get through these trying times until we can be together.”

“That’s an incredible penchant for melodrama you have there,” Derek chuckled.

“I may not survive if you don’t,” Stiles cajoled. “Come on, Derek; don’t you want to make me happy? Photos of you would make me very, very happy.”

“You’re an incorrigible flirt, has anyone ever told you that?” Derek asked, feeling his cock begin to thicken at the sultry note that had appeared in Stiles’ voice.

“A time or two, perhaps. Is it working on you?”

“Maybe,” Derek confessed. He put the phone on speaker and took a photo of himself from the navel down, the beginning of his erection tenting the flannel. He stared at it for a long moment, indecision warring within him. “Do you… do you really want photos?”

“Absolutely,” Stiles told him without hesitation. “Especially if those pyjama pants feature.” Derek hit send, and waited. “Derek,” Stiles said after he received the message, “is this you right now?”

Wondering if he’d gone too far, Derek frowned worriedly. “Yes?”

“Are you touching yourself?”

“No. Uh, that’s just from you… you know, talking.”

“You’re getting hard from me talking to you?”

“It’s entirely possible.”

“That’s the hottest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah?”

“Absolutely,” Stiles confirmed immediately. “Would it help if I talked some more?”

“That really depends on what outcome you’re trying to achieve,” Derek told him.

“Hearing you come all over yourself while I whisper dirty things in your ear is definitely up there.”

Groaning and pressing the heel of his hand to his dick, Derek’s hips jerked a little. “I suspect that’s going to happen a lot sooner than I care to admit.”

“So long as I get to hear it when it does, I’m a-okay with that.” There was the rustling sound of Stiles shifting, presumably on the bed, a muffled scraping sound and then he was back his voice clearer than before. “Okay,” he said with a little sigh, “I have my headphones in so I have both hands free.”

“You planning on needing both hands?” Derek couldn’t help but ask.

“Oh yes,” Stiles purred, the sound of his voice sending sparks down Derek’s spine. “I could describe to you why, if you like?”

Derek’s dick twitched with the invitation but he just went with it, shoving his pyjama pants down and gripping the base firmly. “I think maybe we should work up to that,” he managed to get out, smiling at Stiles’ huffed laughter.

“Maybe I’ll start with you, then,” he said, “and how you looked today, your hair all messed up and your lips all swollen from mine. Do you know how hard it was to let you leave? All I wanted was to drop to my knees and suck your damn dick for god and all to see. Do you think you’d like that, Deputy? My mouth wrapped around your cock, maybe you holding me in place so you could just take whatever you wanted from me?”

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t maybe imagined something like that, a time or two,” Derek confessed, disturbed by his own surge of arousal at hearing Stiles call him ‘deputy’.

“Oh yeah?” Stiles asked, his tone interested. “Is that as far as your imagination went, or were there other things you wanted to try? I should let you know right now that I have a very open mind. And I’m very flexible.”

“I have handcuffs,” Derek blurted out, then thumped the heel of his hand into his forehead when Stiles laughed.

“You certainly do,” he chuckled, warm and low. “I would be quite amenable to putting those to the test with you.”

Loosening his grip a little and slowly sliding his fist up to the head of his cock, around and then back down, Derek smiled. “Do you like being tied up, Stiles? Held down, maybe?”

“You know, it’s never been a real kink of mine, but looking at the way you fill out your uniform, how big your hands are… hell yeah, I wanna try that with you,” Stiles said, the faintest sounds of slick skin-on-skin reaching Derek through the phone.

Derek matched the speed of the sounds, gripping firmly and adding a twist around the head of his cock the way he liked. “I’d love to hold your hips down, I think,” he said, closing his eyes and tilting his head back as he imagined it, Stiles’ strong, lean body splayed out beneath him, with his hands firm around Stiles’ hips as he slowly slid in and out of his body, back arching and long, clever hands scrabbling over Derek’s shoulders. “I’d probably tease you, take my time, make you crazy for me.”

A needy whine escaped Stiles, his breath loud in Derek’s ear. “I’m already crazy for you,” he said sweetly, “but I’ll happily let you hold me down and fuck me, Derek.”

“Christ,” Derek hissed, a surge of precome further slicking his cock as he continued to stroke it. “Take my time, break you apart with my tongue, slide my fingers into you, listen to all the little noises you make.” He could feel his face heat, knew he probably sounded like an idiot with the stupid filth tumbling out of his mouth, but he was helpless to stop, and if the sounds Stiles was making were any indication, so was he. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” he confessed breathlessly, “but there’s something about you that just gets to me, makes me crazy, makes me want to do things to you that I’ve never even considered before.”

“The feeling is ridiculously mutual,” Stiles muttered breathily in his ear. “I thought maybe earlier, at the shop, we were moving kinda fast, but then I heard your voice again and it’s like I can’t even help myself. What are you doing to me, Derek?”

“Not even half the things I’d like to be doing,” Derek muttered, hips thrusting up into his hand, the muscles of his stomach and thighs beginning to burn a little with the way his body was flexing up to chase its pleasure. “Can’t wait to put my mouth all over you,” he promised, “taste you everywhere, leave a mark.” The inarticulate noise that came down the line made Derek clench tightly at the base of his dick.

“Want it, Derek,” Stiles murmured, “want you to leave your marks all over me, make me feel it.”

“That can definitely be arranged,” Derek promised. “I’ve wanted to since the first time we met.”

“I wish you had,” Stiles sighed, his rhythm changing and his breath hitching in a way that made Derek suspect that he was close to coming. “Wish you were here with me now, inside of me, and fuck , Derek, want everything from you.”

“I’ll let you have it, let you have anything.”

“I know you would, and you have no fucking idea what that does to me,” Stiles groaned. “Fuck, Derek, I’m so close--”

“Come for me, Stiles,” Derek said, adding the slightest growl to his voice that had Stiles stuttering out a shocked laugh that turned into a punched-out groan as he obeyed, coming hard enough that he was gasping at the end. Derek let his knees fall open and reached down to brush a dry finger over his hole once, twice and then he was coming too, pulsing hotly over his own knuckles and wishing he was buried inside Stiles’ body instead.

“Fuck me,” Stiles sighed contentedly once he had come down a little.

“We’ll get there,” Derek replied in kind, his stomach flipping a little at the warmth in Stiles’ responding laughter.

“You’d better believe it.”

That night they both fell asleep with their headphones in, hours later.

 

*

 

It was six days, hundreds of texts and what was probably going to amount to an obscene phone bill later that Derek got to see Stiles again. He was sitting at his desk and poring over the latest in a sudden spate of house fires when a familiar white paper cup was placed in front of him and a lean, strong body dropped down into the chair opposite.

“Stiles,” Derek said, mildly disoriented, blinking confusedly as he glanced around to find the place nearly empty. “Hi.”

“Hi yourself,” Stiles smiled back, lips inviting and eyes promising the wickedest of things. “When did you plan on getting out of here?”

Glancing at his watch, Derek sighed upon discovering it was after seven. “Oh, about three hours ago.” He picked up the cup and drank gratefully from it, the sticky sweetness of mango, coconut and lime tantalising his tastebuds. “‘S good,” he murmured through a mild brain freeze, slumping back in his seat as he watched Stiles laugh at him.

“I was hoping I could tempt you away for a few hours at least,” Stiles told him eventually, “maybe a movie and dinner, but it looks like you’re about three previews away from unconsciousness.”

“Feels that way,” Derek agreed with a groan as he reached his arms up over his head and stretched, then rubbed his tired eyes and yawned. “Sorry,”

“Nothing to be sorry for,” Stiles said easily, his eyes lingering on the way Derek’s uniform shirt pulled tight across his chest. “But at least let me drive you home; you’re a hazard to yourself if you drive this tired.”

Derek was about to protest, but decided that if he was too tired to argue about it then Stiles was probably right. “Okay,” he sighed. “Let me just lock these files away and I’ll be ready to go.”

“I’ll wait for you riiight here,” Stiles told him, then settled back and crossed his arms as he made no effort to hide the fact that he was checking Derek out as he moved away from the desk.

Derek smirked as he finished packing up, waving goodbye to Tara and Jordan as he left, unsurprised but still thrilled when Stiles fell into step beside him, the backs of their hands brushing together. They made their way to Stiles’ Jeep, and when Stiles opened the door for him, Derek reached out and hooked a finger in his belt loop to draw him close.

“Hi,” Derek said softly, leaning forward to kiss Stiles, close-mouthed and sweet, but when he went to withdraw Stiles just looped an arm around his neck and pulled him closer to deepen the kiss.

“Hello,” he said eventually, voice a little rough as his tongue swiped their taste off his lip. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too,” Derek said, accepting another kiss before Stiles hustled him into the car and jogged around the front to the driver’s side.

They didn’t really talk on the way home, just Stiles singing along to some terrible early-90s pop songs playing softly on the radio, and Derek drifted into the lightest of dozes, distantly aware of Stiles’ hand coming to rest on his thigh between gear changes. He sat up from where he had slumped against the window when Stiles pulled into his driveway and cut the engine, and frowned.

“How do you know where I live?”

“Hacked into Dad’s computer and accessed your file,” Stiles shrugged. He waited a beat, then laughed. “I asked Jordan; he’s your partner, right? Figured if anyone would know, it’d be him.”

“Huh,” Derek said, unable to fault the reasoning. The quiet of the evening, with its soundtrack of cicadas, a nearby sprinkler and the soft ticking of the cooling engine made Derek a little wistful. He turned to Stiles to find him staring back, his beautiful eyes dark and gleaming in what was left of the day’s light. “Come in and spend the night with me?” he asked quietly. “I’m too exhausted to fool around, but I’d like it very much if you’d stay.”

The little smile that curled across Stiles’ mouth was breathtaking. “Yeah,” he said, equally as quiet, “I’d like that too.”

Derek let them into the house, flicking on the kitchen light as he proceeded down the hall and instructed Stiles to make himself at home while he showered. He tossed his uniform in the hamper and showered quickly, forbidding himself from imagining Stiles in the shower with him, deciding to save that particular fantasy for when he had time enough to enjoy it. When he was done he slipped on a pair of basketball shorts and a tee so old he could no longer read the print on it before heading back downstairs.

“Hope you don’t mind, but I raided your fridge to make you dinner,” Stiles said as Derek entered the kitchen. “Scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, fried tomatoes and toast, because you didn’t look up to a full meal à la Stilinski.”

“Sounds amazing and smells even better,” Derek said gratefully as he took a seat at the counter.

There was something startlingly appealing about watching Stiles move around his kitchen as though he belonged there. Which really, Derek thought to himself, he should have expected. He had wanted no one but Stiles since almost the first moment they had met, and actually getting to know the guy had done nothing but reinforce that desire. He looked at home, and at his ease, and the way he leaned over to press a kiss against Derek’s cheek as he sat beside him with a plate of his own felt like coming home.

They only spoke a little as they ate, knees knocking together and eyes catching to lead to secret smiles, but Derek had never felt so at ease with anyone outside of his family before, and he wondered what it would take-- and whether or not it was too early to ask if Stiles would stay forever.

“Go,” Stiles said, hands gentle as they ushered Derek from the kitchen when he was done. “Go warm the bed for me.”

Blinking at his empty plate, fatigue washing over him like a surprise wave, Derek just did as he was told, climbing into bed and groaning as he stretched out, arranging the pillows the way he liked and trying desperately to stay awake until Stiles could join him. He managed it, barely, mumbling something about the shower and clothes before he was out, and the last thing chasing him down into sleep was the image of Stiles, beautiful Stiles leaning against the bedroom doorway with his heart in his eyes.

 

*

 

Derek woke up once to use the bathroom, Stiles’ face pressed between his shoulder blades and an arm slung over his waist. It made his stomach twist, the rightness he felt of having him there, in bed and by his side, and he swore sleepily to himself that he’d do whatever it took to keep him happy, and keep him there.

 

*

 

Waking late the next morning, the sound of Mr Alliman’s lawn mower motoring softly down the street like every Saturday morning, it took Derek a moment to figure out what it was that had woken him. Then he felt blunt nails scritch gently through the hair beneath his navel and he hummed low in his throat as he rolled over and on top of Stiles, startling a surprised laugh from him as Derek dropped his face to suck marks into his collarbone.

“You stayed,” he rumbled.

“Nowhere I’d rather be,” Stiles promised, his back arching as Derek’s attention moved a little lower and he licked a broad stripe over Stiles’ suprasternal notch. He tasted of warmth and salt and the tang of clean skin, and Derek nuzzled closer, Stiles’ hands gliding rhythmically up and down his back. “You’re a morning person, aren’t you?” he said, tone amused and gently incredulous, making Derek huff a laugh.

“When I have someone like you to wake up to, how could I not be?”

“Jesus, Derek,” Stiles choked out from around a strangled laugh of his own. “You’re so incredibly sweet, sometimes.”

“It’s all about tone,” Derek informed him as he shifted again and scraped his teeth against a nipple, making Stiles hiss.

“Tone?”

“Mhmm. For instance, I could say something that’s not exactly nice, but if I say it in the right tone, it sounds much nicer.”

Distracted, distant, Stiles hummed a question.

Derek grinned and affected the softest, politest voice he could manage. “I would like to fuck you senseless, just so you know; fill up with my cock so you can’t even walk straight.”

“Really?” Stiles hummed lazily, then a beat later his hands shot up to tangle tightly in Derek’s hair, his hips flexed jerkily and the hard line of his dick pulsed very obviously against Derek’s belly. “Wait, what?”

“See? Tone,” Derek smirked, then wormed one hand into Stiles’ borrowed sweatpants to take a firm hold of his dick and explore. “Can I suck your dick?”

Stiles snorted a laugh, his fingers flexing against Derek’s skull. “You might have a nice tone, but where are your manners?” he mock-scolded.

Lifting his head to narrow his eyes at Stiles, Derek crawled back up Stiles’ body to nuzzle against the delicate skin beneath his ear. “Please, baby,” he whispered, the tip of his tongue just barely tracing a delicate whirl over the helix and making Stiles shudder, “please won’t you let me take your thick, gorgeous cock into my mouth and suck on it, tease it with my tongue, feel that big vein throb against my lip as I suck it and swallow it down until you come?”

“Oh my god,” Stiles exclaimed, his hips bucking up again as he wrapped his legs around Derek’s waist and began a slow, dirty grind. “How are you this fucking perfect? You can suck me later; right now there’s no chance I’m going to last long enough to actually get to enjoy it, so we can fuck like this, then have breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day doing filthy, fantastic things to each other. What do you think?”

Derek sat back on his knees and pulled Stiles’ boxers off in a series of sharp tugs that had him shrieking laughter as he was jerked down the bed. He scrambled out of his own shorts and arranged them so they were sitting up together, Stiles within the circle of his legs and his own legs draped over the top of Derek’s thighs, then snagged the lube from the bedside drawer and coated one of their hands each before pressing their dicks together and jacking them slowly. He watched the way Stiles’ eyes rolled momentarily back before focusing on Derek again, an attractive flush creeping up his chest and throat, making the marks Derek had left there seem all the more vivid.

Stiles wrapped his arm around Derek’s neck and drew him into a deep kiss as he began rocking his hips in time with Derek’s, both of them fucking up into their combined grip together as they chased their pleasure. Derek knew Stiles was getting close when his rhythm began to falter and his murmured litany of filth devolved into grunts, curses and the odd blasphemy.

Not that Derek was any better; he slid one hand down to the small of Stiles’ back to draw him in even closer so they could grind against each other all the better. He could feel his balls draw up as he got closer to coming, but it was the sudden way that Stiles drew back, stared into Derek’s eyes as he rested their foreheads together and simply said said, “Yeah, Derek, come on me,” that got him there.

With a hoarse cry Derek’s cock jerked against Stiles’, triggering his orgasm as well, come striping up both of their chests as Stiles groaned long and deep. He rolled his hips languidly through his orgasm until Derek hissed with oversensitivity, then drew him back in for another deep kiss.

“You’re something else, Hale,” he murmured against Derek’s lips. “But whatever it is, I love it.”

Derek just laughed weakly as his heart continued to thunder in his chest and he leaned forward to rest his sweaty forehead on Stiles’ shoulder. Same, he meant to say, or maybe glad you enjoyed it, but that’s not what actually came out.

“Stay,” he heard himself say, and it was so far removed that it took him a long, drawn out pause to realise that was his voice; that he’d asked Stiles to stay .

“Yeah,” Stiles breathed, his nails skating gently over whatever skin he could reach and raising goosebumps in his wake. “As long as you’ll have me.”

When their eyes met Derek could see the same vulnerability in Stiles’ that he knew was in his. But then Stiles smiled, and kissed Derek with his eyes open, and Derek knew it would be okay. Whatever came next, they’d work it out.

 

*

 

“...which may be why he still has a bone-deep fear of butterflies,” Derek heard as he let himself into his grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoon. Rolling his eyes at Iris’ favourite childhood story she liked to tell about Derek, he hung his coat and toed off his boots.

“Gamma, who’re you talking… to.” He trailed off as he entered the kitchen to find Iris and Stiles leaning against the sink together, each of them holding a beer.

“Butterflies, Derek?” Stiles grinned cheekily.

“It was the size of my face, okay?” Derek protested, falling in love with the way Stiles’ eyes lit up with humour.

Iris snorted and held up her free hand with her thumb and index finger about two inches apart.

“My face was a lot smaller back then?” he tried, and was rewarded with Stiles beginning to laugh.

“Bet you were just as gorgeous back then, though.”

Derek crossed the kitchen to kiss first Iris’ cheek, then Stiles’, before slipping an arm around his waist and nestling in behind him. “Gamma, why are you telling my boyfriend embarrassing stories about me? I thought we were supposed to be meeting Stiles later?”

“I ran into him in the pharmacy, darling, and invited him back here instead.” A sly expression crossed Iris’ face before she smiled sweetly at them. “By the way, it’s nice to know you boys are practicing safe sex.”

Derek’s mouth dropped open as Stiles’ stomach clenched beneath his hands with the force of his startled laughter.

“Oh my god, Derek,” Stiles gasped, “you were right; it is all about tone.”